Adventure Fiction

This story contains sensitive content

TW: Physical Violence, Mental Health, Thoughts of Suicide

Before she knew what was happening, it was too late. 

She stood over the body and contemplated the life she had taken. The anger coursed through her like a tsunami, despite the small voice in her brain that thought practically begging her to stop. 

This wasn’t the first time she’d killed, but she was determined to make it the last. 


Two days later, she stood in front of the elected members and recounted the situation. Both times she had done this previously, the women of the council felt empathy, sentencing her to confinement for one month, which she would spend in contemplation and reflection. After each month, she expressed her guilt through choked sobs, which awarded her with more empathy. 

On this day, the council would share their feelings about the situation and report back with a sentence for her third rage-killing. 

The women received the facts. She had been in an argument fueled by jealousy. Anger was her primary emotion during the day leading up to the altercation. She sensed bubbling resentment mixing with loneliness and envy until the perfect rage-cocktail was poured. Her partner detonated the molotov with one sentence; “I feel like you don’t love me anymore.” In seconds, her hands were around her partner’s throat, her eyes glossed with a ferocity she could not control until her partner’s corpse crumpled to the ground. She felt a rush of regret, guilt, and sorrow that led her to attempt resuscitation to no avail. Her roommate arrived on the scene, sick with horror. She swore remorse, reacted with love, and called the council to share her guilt. The body was removed and sent to Ceremony to honor the Pillars lost. 

“I feel sick. Guilt is one of my Pillars and has been since I took my first life. My heart aches for a death without Ceremony. My stomach is settled, it feels right.” 

“What are your other two Pillars?”

“Love and Anger.” 

Murmurs of emotion echoed in the large hall. One’s Three Pillars were almost never composed of multiple Strong Emotions, yet she carried two of the four within her.

“Is it a yearning for death?”

“It is.”

Her gut told her it was unlikely the women would feel resentment, or even indifference having heard her Pillar Feelings. She was born from parents who never tested positive for Strong Emotions, and yet, some would say by miracle, she was granted two from adolescence. It was hard for others to harbor negative feelings toward her once they learned this. 

“Despite your longing, empathy may remain. All who feel empathetic, say I.”

Seven “I’s” broke the silence and her heart. All she wanted was to die. 

“One month of confinement. Reflection and Introspection. Come receive your living assignment.”


In the Community, feelings and emotions are everything. When one is born, they are immediately placed in the observation stage. Parents observe their own emotions toward the child and consider which feelings the child may express. After five years, the child receives the first test from the council to determine their Pillar Feelings. From that point, the Pillar Feelings are re-tested for each five years, or after major life events. Pillar Feelings are public knowledge, and those with multiple Strong Emotions in their Pillars are revered for their depth and power potential. 

The council is composed of Community members nominated by those that feel compelled to support them. Typically, council members are those with at least one Strong Emotion as a Pillar. Council members also commonly have a wide range of secondary emotions that others feel make them multi-faceted beings. Council members are almost always women.

The Pillar Feelings are those three feelings which make up a person’s essence. The feelings that they both harbor most often, and which others feel toward them most often. The four Strong Emotions are Love, Anger, Joy, and Fear. There are a host of secondary emotions felt on a daily basis. Many Community members reside within the 15-30 range of secondary emotions, while others may achieve high ranges, usually felt to be over 40, or low ranges, commonly considered below 12. 

In all cases, a person can be perceived as a perfectly successful member of the Community depending on the mixture of Pillar Feelings and secondary emotions within. If a person is not considered successful, they may be exiled to the Outskirts or sentenced to Death without Ceremony, though both are rare occurrences. 


She contemplated from within her housing assignment, the last living quarters on the boundary between the Community and the Outskirts. 

They had chosen this building because they hoped it would instill fear in her. She could make out figures beyond the translucent border ambling in the barren land. Those that had been exiled were rumored to wander hopelessly, to feel as few as five emotions, almost always including perpetual sorrow and hatred. 

While she felt pity for those outside the boundaries, she was also envious of them. How much simpler life must be with so few feelings. How easy it would be to stop the angry rages that festered in her heart. When she considered her own emotions, she only lingered on the guilt. It was overpowering every secondary emotion and taking from her other Pillars. It wracked her body and consciousness, made her plan when she was meant to contemplate. 

She studied the guards who frequented the area below her window, followed their habits and trusted her gut when it suggested their Pillar Feelings to her. She knew one guard was guided by his feeling of inferiority. He ended his patrol before dark, always walking with slinking shoulders. If she could communicate her Pillar Feelings to him somehow, she could make him trust her. If not, she hoped he was apathetic, that he would feel little regard for her at all. 


She woke one morning from a dream that filled her with a warm confidence. She dreamt of a forest home in which she felt no rage, little anger, and only the remnants of guilt. She dreamt she was guided by her Pillar of love. 

Today she would make it to the Outskirts. She would run as far from other beings as she could, to the ends of the earth if need be. She would use her naturalist skills, taught to her by a courageous instructor, to survive in the wilderness. She gathered the food she had stockpiled over her 25 days of confinement and stuffed the nourishment in a pack with clothes, blankets, and anything else she valued in her quarters. 

Getting out the window perplexed her, until she looked at the room with an inquisitive consciousness. She tied towels and sheets together and flung them from the window with eagerness the moment the insecure guard turned a corner. Getting down felt like the easy part of her mission, compared to making it to the door at the base of the barrier. It looked far enough away to fill her with unease, but optimism flooded her senses as the guard paced away from her methodically. She flung herself out of the open window, repelling down two stories until her feet were firmly on cement ground. 

As she ran, giddiness tickled her. She hardly heard the guard’s faint shouting behind her before he gave up chasing and reached for his radio. She turned around for a moment, catching his eyes and shaking her head furiously back and forth. The intimate stare must have sparked some uncommon feeling within the man, because he smiled with respect and latched the radio back to his waist. She sped up, overwhelmed and nervous that he would doubt his actions and call in the code for an escapee. 

The door unlatched easily. Warm, moist air smacked her and beckoned her forward. She gazed one final time toward the Community she would never see again before stepping into the Outskirts and yanking the door shut behind her. There was no latch or handle on this side, no way back. The guilt-fueled relief only lasted a second once she felt eyes piercing her from every angle. Fright seeped into her body, fueling her muscles and forcing her forward. She sprinted past the ex-Community members who hung onto their Pillar of hatred, shoving those that gained on her back. She continued at an unbridled pace until she could no longer see the barrier or any other humans behind her. Serenity washed over her as her guilt began to dissipate for the first time in years while trees enveloped her on all sides. 

Days of solitude trekking on fresh soil under the cover of massive trees instilled a peace with which she had not yet been acquainted. She slept on moss beds wrapped in blankets, picked berries she recognized, and sipped from clear streams she crossed over. 

The Community was behind her but still she could not get out from under her Pillar Feelings, primarily anger. She worried she should have sought out death instead of the Outskirts. If she met others out there- felt threatened by them, she knew the rage could flourish again. 

She lasted forty days in the wilderness of the Outskirts before she found the clan. 

Foraging for sustenance, she came across a meditation ritual. The group was in deep contemplation and a calmness was palpable in the air above them. 

Turning to break away unnoticed, she snapped a twig underfoot. 

“Welcome. Your guilt is effervescent. We can help.”

“I’ve contemplated enough. It stays with me.”

“Open yourself to trust. We feel your aching.”

She sat next to the woman who spoke to her with closed eyes and an open heart. The woman reached for her hand without lifting her eyelids and whispered to her.

“Your rage has no place here. Your anger can be managed. Your guilt will ease. Let your love be your guide.”

She felt vulnerable and confused as to how the woman knew the feelings that had been so prominent in her being. She thought back to the hopeful dream she had so long ago in the Community. Before she could plant a seed of doubt, the woman squeezed her hand with a knowing grasp. Trust and tranquility sparked in her heart. Tears raced down her cheeks. 

She felt her Pillar Feelings transforming, changing from the tumultuous combination she lived with for so long. Butterflies in her stomach told her she would never act on her rage again. 

She was living her dream; she was free. 

November 17, 2022 07:06

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Tamarin Butcher
16:12 Nov 28, 2022

Fascinating concept! I enjoyed this read. I think it would also be very interesting to explore this idea in a longer format. The world-building was good too.


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Marty B
02:01 Nov 22, 2022

I like this line- The anger coursed through her like a tsunami


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