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The Emotions

By @SunRae

The Beginning

It all started forever ago. I’ve heard stories about how cities used to rule the Earth. By now Mother Nature has taken control again and there’s almost nothing left; but they left behind stories, and memories. These become whispers. Whispers about how almost everywhere you’d go there were buildings. Shelter. Whispers about how they were filled with so many people, and they all used to feel. It was rare for someone at that time to not have the full spectrum of human emotion. The only faulty were some people who had mental disorders. Sadness, fear, and anger would overtake their brain. That’s where this mess all started.

It wasn’t the people who had these illnesses that were to blame. It was the overbearing thought that they had to fix it, which wasn’t a bad thing. It just went too far. It was a big discovery at the time, I can’t even imagine all of the science around it, but they were able to transfer emotions from one person to another through needle injections. This was an amazing cure for mental disorders. You’re depressed? Just take a bit of joy from one of our happy donors and there you go! It worked wonders, they were able to change a psychopath into a full-fledged normal person. Except people needed more than one dose, and without it would have scary withdrawal. They’d go insane, or feel so empty they’d kill themselves. So they’d keep supplying, until they ran out of supplies, and soon they ran out of donors, and the people who would continuously donate would be negatively affected, and they would need their own doses as well. So they pushed their boundaries.

Criminals. They’d drain someone on death row right before they actually killed them. They’d slowly drain the criminals they held captive in something called jail. It still wasn’t enough. So they went to the homeless. They’d bait them with food and shelter, drain them of their emotions, and send them back out on the streets. In a world where so many people actually had homes, these homeless people would go unnoticed, but they still couldn’t pull a full emotional genocide on everyone. So they kept it subtle, just a small stream of emotions that also didn’t seem to last. Especially since “Emotion Bursting” was becoming a popular recreational activity. The method of putting someone else’s emotions into your own slipped out to the public and it became a worldwide trend to give yourself these big doses of feeling. It was a new form of drugs. It got to the point where some would assault others and steal their feelings for their own emotional gain.

There was an attempt to stop it by making it all illegal. Using them in any form -even medical- was against the law. Somehow that only made it worse. It started something nasty, a riot of sorts, commonly known as “The Emotion Revolution”. This revolution was built off of the idea that not everyone deserves to feel emotions. It was lead mostly by white supremacist and those sort of people who believed they were better than others because of something really stupid. Once again, they pushed boundaries, going too far, and now we’re all here in this rotten armpit of a world. Actually living out that emotional genocide that they tried so horribly to avoid. The entire human population at this point is divided into three major groups.

The first is The Empire. This is what the Emotion Revolution has formed into. They are the ones who have buildings, homes, an entire city all to themselves. Something I could only dream about. The Empire takes human emotion from anyone they want and uses it on themselves, if someone isn’t up to their expectations— which is perfection— they steal all of their emotions and cast them out. They at least use all of them, too, not just happiness and positive stuff. They’ll inject sadness into audience members when watching a melancholy show so that they “achieve the entire effect desired” or something like that. They also put anger and drive into their soldiers, and consider yourself lucky if you haven’t bumped into one of them before. 

The Empire has drained people so much that they go past psychopathic, they’re more like emotion-craving zombies. Those are The Empties, and they attack anyone that looks human enough to have emotion. It’s sad, because they’re just trying to get what they can never have. Tearing people apart doesn’t solve their problems, but they’re so empty and desperate they can’t think enough to try and effectively extract emotion out of you, but they definitely can kill you. I’ve seen it myself. My sister, Trust, died from the empties right in front of me, and I couldn’t do anything about it except run away.

The last group is The Emotions, though I wouldn’t really consider us a group, more a sprinkling of people scattered across the world. The Emotions is where I fit in in all of this. We have enough human emotion that we’re not insane like the Empties, and we haven’t had a lot of bursts, if any, to make us power hungry like the Empire. We live a survivalist game, running away from the Empties and hiding from the Empire, so that their little soldiers can’t capture us and empty us. The majority of the Emotions are actually named after feelings, it’s a reminder of hope that emotions still exist, even if they’re misused and faded to some of us. It’s also a middle finger to The Empire, I’d like to think, and that puts a smile on my face. I’m Envy, and this is my story.

I lost my sister when I was 11, and she was nine, that was almost seven years ago. I’m 18 and have found a new family, we call ourselves “the gang”. Joy hits me in the head as an attempt to wake me up, which does have the desired effect, but also ****** me off, “What is wrong with you?!” 

“Nothing, you need to wake up, so sorry I’m obeying Anxious, unlike you, who can’t listen for your life.”

I look up at Joy in annoyance. She has tan skin, black hair and brown eyes. Her face is too pretty for her personality. Why was I so unlucky as to share a tent with the sassiest 16 year old alive? I can’t think of an answer as I slip out from under my blanket and get up. We don’t have beds, but we have some old mats separating us from the cold, hard ground. I step outside the tent and stretch, taking a look over the camp. The sun was just barely over the mountains in the distance. There are two other tents, one of them is Sympathy and Nostalgias’. The other belongs to Rage, Anxious, and Despair. 

Rage and Anxious are the only ones in sight. Anxious is at the campfire, cooking squirrels or some other small creature. Anxious is kind of the leader of the gang, correction: he made himself the leader. I think because he is the oldest he thinks he rules the world. His dark brown curly locks fall across his tan face and hazel eyes. Rage is out at the edge of camp, setting up more spear tipped pieces of wood on the fence. Rage is a nice kid who literally keeps this camp from falling apart. His curly black hair is kind of everywhere, which makes him look a bit younger than you’d guess.

The fence he is working on is the only separation from us and the empties, so we try to keep it as heavily guarded as we can. Luckily we live deep in the dense woods, so it isn’t highly populated like the open fields and city ruins. Anxious looks up at me and smiles, I send him a kind of half smile back.

     “Hey!” Anxious calls to me “Can you go wake up everyone else for me?” 

     I want to say no. Sympathy and Nostalgia are fine, but he wants me to wake up Despair as well. Despair lives up to his name, unlike everyone else at this camp. He’s the only one who’s had any emotions emptied from him. I don’t think they took very much, though, and Anxious says that he uses more as an excuse to be such a buzzkill.

     I decided to just get the hardest part over with and walk into the boys tent. Despair is sprawled out across all three of their various mats, snoring louder than I thought was humanly possible. I lightly kick his side and he lets out a pathetic wine. Sympathy says I should respect him more because he’s older, but the age gap is only about a year, and when he acts like a baby all the time it bridges the time between the two of us.

     “Who is trying to wake me up so early?” He groans.

     “This is Envy, and the sun is past the mountains, so wake up.”

     “I don’t want to. I just want to sleep forever. Let me lay here and soak in my own sadness like a depressed sponge” He whines.

     “Wow. Poetic, but weird. Get up.” I said, kicking his side again. Except this kick wasn’t so light.

     He yelped and curled into his side, his mousy brown hair sticking out in all sorts of directions. His eyes had yet to open, so it was his own fault that I had to go the extra mile to get him up and moving. I grab his arms and begin to drag him. He first starts with a whine but ends with a yell as his back lands on dirt and dead leaves. He was outside now, thanks to me. His pale skin seemed to be glowing from how light he was. His blue eyes had finally opened and were giving me a death glare.

     “Your name should’ve been Disgust, or Hatred, or something like that. Matches you better.” He growls at me, getting up from the dirt I had thrown him on.

     “Envy is too negative of a word for her already,” I hear someone chirp behind me,”But it’s a beautiful name,” I turned around to see Nostalgia.

     Nostalgia was the youngest out of everyone. She was 12 years old, with light skin, thin dark eyes, and black hair. I love Nostalgia more than anyone else, so I was baffled by the fact I have to share with Joy. Especially since Nostalgia isn’t the happiest with her tent-mate Sympathy. Who was now coming out of the tent. 

     Sympathy looked around nervously, fiery red hair in a tangle. Sympathy, to put simply, would have fit better to the name Worry. She could hear a twig snap and her freckled face would contort and she’d try to hide, letting out a squeal. Sympathy is blind in one eye, and she refuses to tell anyone how it got that way, so that might be a reason she’s so fearful. It still doesn’t give her a reason to yell at me when I try to do something fun. One positivity to her was that she could make baskets that were weaved so tight they could hold water, which was really useful when it comes to surviving in the middle of the woods, still doesnt make up for her sucky personality. The only good reason anyone would put Sympathy with Nostalgia was age. They’re only 2 years apart while I’m 6 years older.

     Despair had now gotten up and went to brood over by Anxious, letting out small complaints about me. All the while Joy had the biggest grin on her face, obviously very pleased with the stunt I had just pulled on Despair. Fun and games were over though, and the endless chores needed to be done. I quickly grabbed some berries for breakfast, I tossed one up in the air, and caught it in my mouth, the dull sweetness dancing across my tongue. Breakfast wasn’t much, but we survive off of it, and we aren’t deathly thin, so that’s a good sign. I grabbed a basket that Sympathy made, which had our only other sets of clothes, and I walked to the fence. I was about to open the gate when Rage called over to me, “You armed?” 

     I nod and open up my jacket, flashing him my blade. He smiles and waves goodbye. I push open the makeshift gate and scrapes along the dirt. I hear Nostalgia call out something about being careful, and it puts a smile on my face as I slide the gate closed.

 The walk to the river is about 15 minutes but it feels more like ten seconds, and I wish it lasted longer. Don’t get me wrong, I kinda like some of the people I live with, I only hate Despair to be honest, but it’s nice to get away. I don’t like silence, but I don’t enjoy lots of noise either. So the forest provides a happy medium. It’s relatively quiet, but the peaceful buzz of the woods brings me to life.

     I take a big breath in, smelling the forest around me. The leaves on the trees shake, and I feel a nice breeze on my face. I don’t think I could ever get tired of this world around me. As I continued my walk, still hauling the basket along, the sound of the creek got louder and louder. Then I was there. The water looked clear and clean, running over smooth rocks and tree roots that had revealed themselves over time. I placed the basket down on the banks and sat beside it, starting my work. 

I hum a random song I learned when I was young, and it brings back memories of my family. My real one, Mom, Dad, and Trust. I catch myself thinking about them too often, and push those thoughts out of my head everytime. I have to focus on other things, like washing clothes.

My pattern for clothes washing is very simple, first, I pull out something from the basket, dunk it into the creek, scrub it with my hands and kinda shake it around under there. Then I pull it out and throw it over a low hanging branch. Then I repeat. There probably is a better way to do it, but I’m lazy, and it gets the job done for the most part.

I pull a piece of clothing out of the basket and instantly know it belongs to Anxious, thanks to the horrible smell that radiates like toxic gas from it. I quickly shove it into the river and soak it, hoping to help the poor shirt. I don’t know what it ever did to Anxious that caused him to curse the poor thing like that. I chuckle to myself over the thought of the shirt actually being a living creature that Anxious has a grudge against.

Soon enough, I drenched and somewhat cleaned all of the clothes. You can’t do much to clothing that teenagers wear for 2 weeks straight that make them much better, but they look clean. So I gather all of them up and throw them back into the basket. I’ll hang them up to finish drying at camp.

I start my walk back, and I can already tell that my arms are sore. Carrying the basket to the creek, shaking my arms around underwater, and carrying the basket back is quite the workout. I shift the basket around, trying to find a comfortable way to hold. That doesn exist, so I just toughed it out. The forest around me would distract me, and I close my eyes for a moment, listening to the sounds I grew so used to.

 I snap my eyes open when I realize something is different. It slowly keeps getting louder and louder, and I recognize what it is.

     I’m not alone.

     Someone is talking. It’s more like someone calling out at random times. I hope it’s someone from camp, but I had a sour feeling that it wasn’t. When trying to make sense of what they’re saying, I notice they’re repeating the same thing.

     “Please, let me feel!”

     Fear sets in fast, and I don’t even think of my sore arms as I haul the basket back to camp as fast as I can. I see something move in the distance to my right, and I push myself to go even faster. When I finally made it to the gate Nostalgia was opening the gate for me to get through, probably spotting me from a distance as she was tending to the little garden we have started. She closes the gate behind me in a hurry. 

     “What’s wrong?” She asks me, worry entangled in her words.

     I don’t want to scare her or spread panic, this is a matter I should talk about privately with Anxious. So I set the washbasket down, and lied right through my teeth, “I saw a bear and got freaked.”

     “Really? Envy, you’re better than that. Getting jumpy over some teddy in the woods.” Anxious teases, walking towards the two of us. 

     “In this kind of world you can’t be too careful.” I say, and give him a look, so he knows that I need to talk to him. In private.

     ” ‘Stalgia, go back to your carrots, Envy, come with me.” Anxious orders, his voice getting considerably more serious, hoping that using her nickname would cover what was happening. By the look on Nostalgia’s face, it seemed to work, and by some miracle she skipped back on over to her chores, completely care-free. Anxious and I hurried inside the closest tent, which so happened to be mine, and we sat cross legged in front of each other.

     “What really happened?” He whispers, making sure no one can hear. 

     “There was an Empty.” I respond just as quietly as him.

     Anxious’ face went dark, and I saw a flash of terror in his eyes, but it was gone just as fast as it appeared. “It’s ok, Rage is adding defenses to the fence, and we’ll take shifts tonight, just to make sure everything’s safe.” He assured me, shrugging it off.

     I nodded. I wished that fear stayed with him a bit longer. He was way too relaxed about it. This camp had been our home for almost a year now. Before this it had been me fleeing by myself for a year, and then running with the gang for another four. This was the best life I’d had in too long, and I cared too much to not be scared. I guess Anxious just didn’t feel the same about home as I did.

“I’m too stressed, I need to take a nap or something.” I said, rubbing my face.

“Ok, Despair won’t be too happy about that, but go ahead. We’ll take care of your chores.” I genuinely smiled at him, happy he was pulling a couple of strings for me. I almost came to the conclusion that Anxious wasn’t always annoying, but then he ruined that with a “‘Night,’Night, sleepyhead” as he ruffled my hair. I scoffed at how ridiculous he was, and laid down, stress practically knocked me unconscious.

I was woken up with even more stress than before, thanks to the scream that scared me awake. I easily recognized who it was, considering the owner of this screech makes similar noises all the time. Sympathy usually overreacts about stuff that isn’t that bad more often than not, but that doesn’t stop me from checking on her everytime she does. I’m glad I did this time around, too. Everyone was clumped together at the edge of the fence, all facing outside the borders. I hustled over to the others, now actually concerned.

I pushed past everyone and I couldn’t believe what was in front of me. I felt as if someone took a spoon and carved out my insides. Rage was leaning up against the fence, knife in his hand. The scariest part was the knife was in something, or someone. Rage had stabbed someone in the head on the other side of the fence. I was confused until I saw Despair, with a big scratch across the left side of his face, and tears slowly streaming down his cheeks. 

It had been an Empty. Might’ve been the same Empty that I had heard earlier. The craziest thing was that we’ve never seen an Empty so deep in the woods before. Rage pulls out his knife, close to tears, letting the body drop to the floor. All we could do was hope that this was the only one. I kneel down and take a closer look at the Empty. It was a boy, and he couldn’t have been older than nine, and I realized that’s how old Trust was when she… I wondered what his name was, what his family was like, and how he ended up this way. He was too young to be emptied, too young to crave emotions so much that he’d try to kill, too young to be lifeless on the floor. The Empire had done horrible things, but it hit me like a ton of bricks knowing they would do it to a child without batting an eye. 

The hatred bubbled up in me and I was practically boiling. I was just about to say something to the gang, but Anxious beat me to it.

“The Empire is horrible. We can’t go on like this.”

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