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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: 'The Odd Ones'

What happens when we forget how to feel?

I’m hiding and I don’t know when I’ll have the chance to get out.

I don’t even know if I’ll have the chance.

Humans are machines of incredible workings; they can go to the greatest lengths and only be minimally damaged from it. Recovery and redemption can return the mind and body to its previous status. In order to keep a balance in our bodies, we have emotion.

Sadness, guilt, hatred, forgiveness; everything has a feeling to it and everything has an emotion linked to its being. This is important because humans are meant to have every emotion.

At one time or another, humans are supposed to hate one another.

They have to feel bad for one another.

They have to be happy about each other.

If one of these emotions was taken away, things wouldn’t be the same. If sadness didn’t exist, then what would people feel if a relative were to die? Emptiness? Worthlessness? Would suicide be a bigger problem then? Would death be just around the corner?

I know the answers to these questions.

There are worlds where certain emotions don’t exist; different dimensions. There’s a reality where happiness doesn’t exist and one for sadness. There’s one where anger is nonexistent, and it’s surprisingly one of the worst worlds to live in.

I’m a dimensional world jumper. Thankfully, jumpers aren’t affected by the absence of certain emotions when moving through realms. I’ve landed myself here, in the world where regret isn’t an emotion.

This is by far the worst of them all.

Humans also have a small tick in their brain that tells them not to do things that could hurt others.

This tick is called a self-conscious.

Without regret, humans possess the capability to act completely on selfish desires, uncaring of what they are to leave behind. They give no mind to repercussions or possible consequences.

They don’t care for the emotions of others.

The emotions that still exist, of course.

I’m hiding because people are running the streets with guns and knives, killing people without remorse.

Without regret.

We call them the galerunners, but they call themselves Gods. They are far from Gods.

Their leader, Coil, is one of the most ruthless people you’ll ever meet. I pray that I never have to confront him again. He’s the only one that really matters in the galerunners, but they all contribute to the killing.

They also are jumpers.

My name is Maxine and my partner is Jax. We’ve been jumping for a long time now, and I couldn’t say how many times we’ve come across the galerunners. A few exist in each world, taking advantage of the missing emotion there, but there’s been a buildup here in the world without regret. That’s why I’m settled here and that’s why I’m hiding. We’re here to fix the problem.

Jax is fighting the galerunners and I want to help him even though I know I’d be slaughtered. He’s an amazing man and I’m honored to stand by his side, but sometimes I feel as if I’m not good enough for him. 

We’re here to eliminate the galerunners and save as many people as possible, but it’s hard because I’m useless.

He’s told me to hide here, so I am. I can hear something now. 

I can hear the sound of the footsteps, and I surely hope they aren’t my partner’s.

I hope they aren’t Coil’s either.

They’re growing louder.

They’re getting closer.

I hope I’m imagining the footsteps.

I’m not.


“Look who it is,” he smirked. I struggled in the arms of the two men holding me.

“Just stop, Coil. You aren’t accomplishing anything in this world. There isn’t anything here for you, so leave.”

“Oh, but that’s where you’re wrong, Max.” His voice annoyed me to no end; why couldn’t that be the nonexistent emotion? I spit at him and he kicks my leg with force. I show no pain even if I do feel it.

“Inform me just how important this world is because I really see no point,” I say.

“Well, Maxine, we’re searching out an essence. The essence of regret that has been removed from the people of this world.”

I look at him, acting as if this is news to me.

It’s not.

I let him continue, no matter how much I despise his sputtering.

“Each world you’ve been to has a missing emotion. You know that, I know that, and the jerk over there knows that.”

Jax comes into view. He’s been caught, just like me. I squirm some more.

“The thing is, there’s a place in each world where the missing emotions are contained. A laboratory of sorts. A method of containing emotions has been found by scientists and is currently in use. They bottle up all the emotions and swirl them around together in a large orb of sorts, keeping them for their own personal needs. Presumably money.”

A devilish grin sneaks its way onto his face.

“We hope that you two don’t find this inconvenient, but we need to get the emotion they’re keeping as soon as possible. We also need as much emotion as we can get ahold of, no matter who from…”

Jax looks up at me. He’s crying.

He never cries.

One of the gale runners comes into my view with a machine. There’s a large crank on the side of the box-like object.  On one end is a spout-like nozzle, and on the other…

A mouthpiece.

He’s going to suck it out of us.

“This machine is made of a complex metallic substance, one from a world neither of you have been to; the world where no emotion exists. We’ve been there.” He laughs. “This machine is going to take away the only thing holding you back.”

I realize what he’s saying.

“Max, I love you,” Jax blurts out. He catches me completely off guard. I never once thought that he had loved me, but I’m so glad that he said it now.

“Love you too,” I say. I didn’t lie. Jax smiles and I smile back.

Coil smirks. “Now,” he says, taking the machine from the man, “who shall we start with?”

“Me,” Jax says, “start with me.”

I don’t object; nothing is able to escape my mouth aside from a whimper. We’re both crying now. I want to hug him, to kiss him, to love him like we should’ve loved years ago. I felt a spark for him and I just know that he did too, but nothing ever happened between us.

I feel so much regret.

I’m scared about it being taken away.

“I’m sorry,” I say.

“It’s okay,” Jax responds.

I really love him.

One man holds the box up to Jax’s mouth while Coil stands by the crank. I can’t bear to look, but the men holding me back force my eyelids up.

Jax stares into my eyes as the machine begins to whir.

He stares as the crank is turned.

He never stops staring at me and I can’t turn away from him. His essence is glowing, the emotion being pulled from his spirit. 

It was horrifying. The tears never stopped flowing.

I couldn’t believe that was going to happen to me. I fought harder against the grasp the men had on me with no luck.

I saw the expression on Jax and I started to cry harder.




He was still staring at me, but not like before.

Coil brought the machine over to me, the tears flowing down my face and onto the bloodstained streets. I didn’t want to become like Jax now. I wanted to stay the way I was.

I wanted Jax back.

Coil brought the machine up to my mouth.

I shut my eyes.

I knew what would happen. I’d open them once I didn’t feel regret for staying back when I didn’t help Jax fight. If I had, would we be in this situation? Would we both be losing our regret? Would we be in love, happy together?

My mouth is on the mouthpiece now.

I can feel it leaving me.

It feels unexpected. I feel fresh.

A huge weight is expelled from my body; I feel a freedom of sorts.

...but I don’t only feel freedom.

I open my eyes and look up at Jax, and I know he wants to kill me.

I want to kill him, too.

Submitted: July 17, 2015

© Copyright 2022 H. Adams. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


B Douglas Slack

If regret disappears, then another emotion has to fill the gap. It is the way of the natural world - any world. And, since both Max and Jax have regrets, I was hopeful that they had so much regret that they would overcome Coil's evil machine. That was not to be, however. This is a great story, Hanorbi. Short, and to the point: one should always have regret as it balances the equation. ~Tom

Fri, July 17th, 2015 9:52pm


Regret's more important than I once thought it to be... this spawned out of that way of thinking. Max and Jax might be able to overcome that regret in time for as long as they don't kill each other, but who knows. Thank you for your opinion and for reading, Tom!

Fri, July 17th, 2015 3:04pm

Whiskey Charlie

Fascinating. I got so caught up in the concept of a string of worlds each lacking one emotion that I pretty much lost track of the story itself. My mind is churning with the virtually infinite possibilities of such a universe. I have no idea where you come up with such stuff, but it certainly is clever.

Sat, July 18th, 2015 12:57am


I don't either. I love listening to music without words, closing my eyes, and then letting my mind make up its own story. I'm glad this made you think on a deeper level, Whiskey; thank you for giving it a read!

Fri, July 17th, 2015 6:25pm


Eesh. Imagine living without all your emotions; I'd say it would suck, but my emotionless doppelganager would likely disagree, having no emotions to base the notion of what "sucks" off of. Now I'm giving myself a headache. Anyways, a brilliant tale as always, Hanorbi! Will we be seeing anymore of Maxine and Jax, or are the two done for now? I hope the former--I'm eager for more!

Sat, July 18th, 2015 1:44am


I have a very slim idea of what would come next if there was to be a future installment. I like Max and Jax, though, so I just might have to do more... We'll see how I feel and how other people conceive the story. I'm so glad this is so thought-provoking for everyone who's read it so far, as it was for me when I wrote it. Thanks, Berkley!

Fri, July 17th, 2015 6:52pm


I'm ready to cry out in frustration right now. This story got me clinging onto the mouse to scroll down and it got me on the edge of my seat. Why would you do this to me?! Hanorbi, this is by far the best of you writing I've ever read. I love it so much! Can you please write more and make it into a novel? PLEASE. THIS IS SO AMAZING. I LOVE THIS, MY BEST FRIEND.

Sat, July 18th, 2015 8:05am


I would do more with Max and Jax in a heartbeat, but I have no clue on how to approach it. If you have any suggestions, please let me know! I'm glad you enjoyed it so much, too. Thank you so much for taking the time to read, Grammar!

Sat, July 18th, 2015 3:24am

Chris Green

Great imagination here. And you have said enough in the story, I don't beleive as some suggest above that it would benefit from going on. It is a common mistake with writers. Keep the enigma, there is no need for absolute closure in a story. Quit while you're ahead and from the quality you have here you are definitely ahead.

Sun, July 19th, 2015 7:39am


I'm always hesitant to do a sequel to my short stories... your advice helped me a bunch. Thank you for taking the time to comment and read, Chris; it really means a lot to me.

Sun, July 19th, 2015 6:47am


This is such a fascinating read. The detail in the descriptions of the emotions we have is amazing, and then you take it further. You give your stories a fresh sense of originality by giving them this scientific fantasy feel, and it really pushes the human mind.
I love this concept of having each world missing an emotion, so it gives us a sense that the human body has more than 5 senses. This would be such a unique universe we would live in.
The experiment to Max and Jax was interesting, and pushed the boundaries of emotion that 2 people can share. I love how Coil turned the emotion they never thought was there, and turned it into an emotion that we fear the most.
Stunning descriptions of how the different emotions affect us. I would like to see you write in third person, so you could see this from a different point of view. This is another stunning piece, and your originality amazes me.

Sun, July 19th, 2015 10:10pm


Oh wow, you gave me an interesting idea by talking about how the human body could have more than 5 senses. Interesting. I'll probably be doing something with that in the near future. Thank you so much Dexter; your originality is just as profound as my own. I'll get to reading your stories as soon as possible!

Sun, July 19th, 2015 3:25pm

Jeff Bezaire

Great story, man. Starts off with a dose of philosophical truth, the concept is very interesting and gets me interested in where you're going to take the story. The ending was a great twist. There are so many cliches in stories and film these days, formats and layouts that people expect that are labeled as "good writing", but your ending was a nice change. It was pleasant to see they didn't end up zombies or pathetic, lost individuals. Also, hatred replacing regret is a logical transition as they are two potent emotions linked together, and hatred is a more potent emotion than sadness which would have been another (more cliche) choice.
Loved this!

Sun, July 19th, 2015 11:54pm


I'm so glad it wasn't cliche. I really wanna convey original ideas as much as I can without going through the usual way of doing things. I'm pleased to hear that the ending worked out well, too! Interesting how closely related anger and regret can be. Thank you for reading, Jeff!

Sun, July 19th, 2015 5:03pm

Evelyn Mason

Very interesting idea... my vocabulary is small so thats the best I can do for how cool this is! Although it would satisfy my own desires, I think it best to leave it to the imagination of your readers. I know I like coming to my own conclusions especially when a story doesn't end like I want it too. If you do decide to continue I think it would make an excellent science fiction novel.
Always a pleasure, Hanorbi!

Wed, July 22nd, 2015 8:35pm


I actually think it would too, but I don't have the patience to write a novel and stick with it. Who knows, though... ;) thank you as always, Evelyn - I greatly appreciate the read!

Wed, July 22nd, 2015 4:25pm

Jack Motley

Wow, really chilling, Hanorbi! Talk about taking the idea of jumping parallel universes into Twilight Zone-like areas of dissonance.

This is really great! More than worthy publishing to a short story contest or magazine. One of your best, for sure.

Thu, July 23rd, 2015 12:12am


Thank you, Jack! Yeah, I really like this too. Just the idea I find cool... I could adapt it into a novel, but I don't know how far I'd get with my patience.

Wed, July 22nd, 2015 5:20pm

Jason Crager

This is very original and very well written. Enough to leave any reader with chills, including myself. At times and in certain situations, probably everybody wishes to get rid of their emotions. However, would that be a cure, or a far worse fate? Good story!

Thu, July 23rd, 2015 1:42am


I think a far worse fate. The world would collapse into a state of disarray, I think. Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Ronin! I appreciate you taking the time to read.

Thu, July 23rd, 2015 9:09am


This was such an insightful and delightful read, you captured the tone of voice of Maxine supremely well, like I could actually hear her deep thoughts colliding through her perspective. I liked that the main topic was about human emotions and how developed of Maxine thesis was about it. I liked that the twist was that her and Jax we're jumpers and could jump into different universes where some even physical emotions don't even exist. That was a creative plot line and I liked how you got the reader and me to think about IF there was a place where an emotion doesn't exist. I liked that ruthless villain Coil, you developed his evilness vividly well. So anyway, good job and this was very well written and thought out. If you do develop this into a novel, I would like to continue on with this. LIKE!!!!:}

Tue, September 29th, 2015 10:15pm


I wanted to sculpt a world where this was common, where the absence of emotions became something people became used to. Max and Jax were both meant to have their own perspectives, but it felt more appropriate to just have it from the perspective of Maxine. I'm glad you caught her point of view and how she saw everything that way! Not sure about the extension, but it's still looming in my mind as a potenial novelette/novella. Thanks for reading and commenting, the fact that you took the time to do so is so generous of you :D

Tue, September 29th, 2015 7:14pm

Keke Serene

OMG what is this?! What is the meaning of this, this is nothing short of aungish and torture and pain on behalf of the characters and the readers...!! Ugh, those rotten gale runners, how the heck did they get to the place with no emotions...? Shivers, reminds me of my life sometimes. They should call that world Numb, ugh! I hate that feeling, it's how I feel when I'm home alone in an empty room or talkig to my doctor and there's a pause in conversation and then I like cease to exist. Maybe everyone in Numb is a ghost. BUT OH M G! this idea was so freaking fresh and creative and I just... You have to continue this...!! Please, for lil ol me...??? Write a novel please...! I don't want to die this ending, good lord, how torturous of you...! But I guess regret would be the erm, basis of all emotions, I guess, bc it comes first before like anger and all... Hm... Why wouldn't Max and jax want to kill the gale runners instead of each other, like idk, that just didn't seem to fit and has left me serverly disillusioned with idrk, something in my life...! I really like this idea and the story :) the only thing I'd kind of like would be some inagery, like do the gale runners wear a certain uniform, what color are jax eyes, what does the world without regret look like (I'm sure it's far from heavenly and more like a slum,no?) This really has me thinking, I really like this, I mean I like it but i hate the end, ugh! Loved it overall, you've got such great talent :3

Thu, December 3rd, 2015 1:37am


Mwahhaahahaha... the best part about this situation is that I AM IN CONTROLLLL *ominous thunder* Many many people have asked for a continuation. Many people have said to not continue it, as leaving it as is can be seen as a lasting impression on the reader. To answer some of your questions: Max and Jax went for each other because all they had left was regret. They ended up feeling regret for even meeting each other, and that fueled some force of anger. They probably would've went for the galerunners afterwards. If I do continue this (which i might; i have many projects to finish before i even consider a sequel to this) I'll go more in depth with description and all. I like your idea of Numb... if you don't mind, I might just use that. Your comment was wonderful to read and respond to, so thank you so very much for taking the time out of your day.

Wed, December 2nd, 2015 6:44pm

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