“As is policy, you will need to turn in your emotions to the government when you turn 18,” Sandy’s mom said to her with painful monotone. “The fateful day is coming.” She reached out to hold Sandy’s hand. “How do you feel?”

Sandy felt a shiver run down her spine as she tried to move her hand away from her mom’s touch. Ironically, someone who could feel no emotion had a way with giving her the creeps just by one touch of the hand.

How did she feel, Sandy thought to herself. She was the only one left in her family that could, and it was terrifying that once the clock strikes 12:24 PM tomorrow, all of Sandy’s emotions will be stripped from her. Soon, she will be just like her parents and older brother: emotionless, cold, and robot-like.

After her parents and her brother lost their emotions to the government 10 years ago, Sandy felt incredibly confused and alone. It almost felt like since no one else in her family could feel anything, all of her emotions were heightened to over-compensate. In a way, Sandy thought to herself, it might be for the best that her emotions be taken away so that she could relate to her family better.

But at the same time, she treasured the emotions that she had and how they made her feel. Seeing as she was the first one of her friend group to turn in her emotions, she had been dreading this day because she didn’t want to lose her friends. She saw what happened to her brother Sam the moment he turned his in. His friends shut him out and didn’t want to hang out with him anymore. Sandy couldn’t tell how Sam felt about it, since he showed no emotion whatsoever. Sam then went from being a very sociable guy who hung out with his friends every night, to someone who would come home from his government job in an emotionless daze, walk up the stairs and lock himself in his room until dinner time.

Sandy shuddered again at the thought. She didn’t want to turn into a mindless robot who locked herself in her room.

She turned back to look at her mom, whose expression still remained unchanged despite the fact that Sandy hadn’t answered her yet. Even though she was emotionless, her mom wasn’t dumb. “Sandy, why won’t you talk to me?” her mom asked in a flat voice.

“Sorry mom,” Sandy said in a remorseful voice. It sounded a lot sadder once the words left her mouth. Sandy thought some more. “I think that sucks that I have to give my emotions to the government tomorrow,” she said, a tear sliding down her cheek.

“Why are you crying?” her mom asked flatly. “There is no reason to cry. It is for your own benefit.”

Sandy knew that by trying to explain the fact that she felt things on a much deeper level or the fact that she felt emotionally drowned would be lost on her mother. And it wasn’t her mom’s fault – that’s just how it was. She wiped her eyes and turned to walk out of the house.

Even the world outside was incredibly grey and emotionless. The exterior of her house, and all the houses on her street for that matter, were an ugly grey. Everywhere she looked there were people who had their heads down, faces expressionless.

As she walked down the street towards her friend Amy’s house, she noticed a couple bright spots. One of which was Amy’s house: the door was still a bright, vibrant red despite the rest of the house being a dark charcoal. Amy was a few months younger than her, and was the only one left that she knew that still had her emotions. But in a few months, they would all be in the same fate.

Amy opened the door just as Sandy was walking up the main walk way. “You look sad,” Amy called to her, arms open wide.

Sandy rested in Amy’s arms. “12 hours left,” Sandy whispered softly. She stepped back so that she could look Amy in the eye. “12 hours until I have no more emotions.”

Amy’s eyes started to fill with tears also. “That is just not right,” she whispered. Her face quickly changed from sadness to conviction. “We have to stop this.”

“How are we going to stop this?” Sandy asked flatly. She suddenly felt another wave of nausea and sadness. Was this how she was going to sound, forever? She shuddered at the thought of a life without any emotion.

Amy took Sandy by the hand. “We need to get this done before you lose your emotions too!”

Before long, Sandy was standing in front of the largest grey building in the entire city: the government building where the Ministry of Emotions was housed. Sandy took a deep breath. “What is your game plan?” she asked Amy, who was just as shocked as she was.

Amy replied, her face unmoving. “I didn’t think I would actually get this far.”

Walking through the doors, an expressionless woman was sitting behind a desk. “Who are you?” she asked plainly.

“We want to see the minister,” Amy blurted out. Tears filled her eyes again.

“Why are your eyes leaking?” the receptionist asked. “Get that fixed.”

“We just want to see the minister,” Sandy said again, more emphatically.

The receptionist was unmoved. “Do you have an appointment?”

Suddenly the door to the right of her desk flew wide open. A loud but still emotionless voice rang out from inside. “Send them in, and I will finish them.”

The receptionist shrugged, eyes still glued to her screen. “You heard him. Go in.”

Wiping her eyes, Amy smiled widely. “That was almost too easy.”

As they walked into the room, Sandy was taken aback by what she saw. Everything was vibrant and colourful. In the pictures that hung on the wall, people were smiling from ear to ear. The energy of the room felt different as well. For the first time, she felt normal.

A man sat behind the desk, with the back of his chair facing them. “Who are you, and what do you want?” the voice asked flatly.

“Sandy will be losing her emotions in less than 12 hours, and we cannot allow this to happen. This can’t happen to anyone,” Amy said with urgency. “You have to stop this. You are the minister.”

“Sandy?” the voice asked. Sandy wasn’t sure if she was imagining it, but the voice was suddenly infused with hopefulness and recognition. The chair turned, and suddenly Sandy found herself face to face with her brother, Sam.

“Sandy?” he asked again.

“You are the one taking people’s emotions?” Sandy asked, sadness rushing over her. “Why would you do that?”

And suddenly, Sam did something that Sandy hadn’t seen in 10 years: he showed emotion, and started to cry.

The story came tumbling out of him in a river of incoherent words and tears. The incidents of her past started to make sense: 10 years ago, her brother and her parents got into an argument about his new government job. Her parents didn’t trust the government and didn’t want their son working in a job that they didn’t trust. But once Sam got the job, he decided to take away his parents’ emotions by way of an injection while they were sleeping to take it out of them. Soon, he had done the same to all of his superiors, to the point where he was able to pass this as law without any resistance. He kept this law up, enforcing that all people had to come into the ministry office to have their emotions removed once they turned 18.

“So you did this all because you had an argument with mom and dad?” Sandy asked in disbelief. Sam nodded and got up to look out the window. Sandy prodded him. “What are you going to do about it?”

Sam stared straight ahead. “Nothing,” he said blankly. He then turned to sit down, still staring straight ahead. When he turned, something clattered to the ground. A single syringe was lying on the floor.

Sandy and Amy quickly looked at Sam. He still had a blank look. “Sam,” Sandy yelled. “Did you just take your own emotions.”

Sam nodded slowly, face expressionless. “Don’t worry, I won’t take yours. You can keep them.” He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes.

Sandy looked at Amy, and then back at Sam. “But what about everyone else in the city?” she pleaded with him.

He turned to look at Sandy, eyes blank and still strangely sad. “I won’t be taking anymore emotions,” Sam said. “But trust me, your life will be a whole lot easier if you don’t feel anything.”