Encyclopedia of Emotions

The Feeling of Nothing

By: Coralyhr

When Papa woke up the next morning, the first thing he did was to put his ear against the door of the room he had locked Rane in. He had never meant to hurt her all her life. It was just a part of his journey through life, trying to come to terms with his work-obsessed self and his commitments to people.

He knew he did a bad job.

But he had no idea how to change.

And secretly, a part of him was reluctant to change now.

He did his research on adaptation and thought that Rane would adapt. For a while, she appeared to. She loved drawing and he had done nothing to object to her new hobby. He thought it would improve her. HE thought she was independent.

He thought.

It wasn’t until she came and snapped at him for leaving her alone that he realised that he did not know.

After that, he wondered why she wasn’t there to help Rane. Why had she gone her own way and left him to his devices?

There was no sound on the other side of the door. Maybe she had fallen asleep.


The sky was still brightening, so he left her alone and went to make breakfast for the both of them. Fried eggs and cereal.

He remembered that breakfast had always been a quiet meal. He tried to remember if he ever heard her talk during the meal. If she had shared any part of her life with him. No. There was nothing.

What should he do?

What did she want?

Why didn’t he know?

He put extra soy sauce into Rane’s egg. He made her a cup of milo. He gave her a bigger portion of cereal than usual.

Then he went back to the door and unlocked it.

She laid on her side beside the wall, eyes closed, a pencil not far from her half-open hand. All four walls of the room which were white before, after they painted it when Rayden died, were filled with pencil drawings. He stared around him, not sure whether to be horrified or amazed.

There were pictures of humanoid lizards, little dwarf creatures holding a wii controller. There were fields of flowers he had never seen before and a forest of mushroom spitting out acid. He touched the wall. A bit of the graphite came off in his hand.

He turned to Rane. He had forgotten to give her a blanket. He shook her awake. She was so cold. “Rane,” he called.

There was no reply. Maybe he should take her to her bed.

He picked her up and brought her back to the room. Then he pulled the blanket up over her and locked himself in his study.

It was only that evening when she still did not wake up did he think to check her breathing. By then, he didn’t have to, because he could smell the rotting smell of a corpse.

And the breakfast he had meticulously prepared remained on the table, one half eaten, the other completely untouched.


Encyclopedia of Emotions 22

The Wanderer’s Road

By: Coralyhr

So she said instead, “Help me.”

The unicorn looked at her without expression, staring like it had been staring the whole time.

Rane felt like an idiot for saying that.

“I want to get out of here.”

“You do not want that,” said the unicorn matter-of-factly. It swished its pink tail leisurely and snorted elegantly.

Rane asked, “What do I want then?” Since everyone else seemed to know better than I do about what I want.

“You want peace. You want rest. You don’t want conflict. You don’t want to DO anything.”

Rane thought about it. She seriously considered the words said to her and nodded. “Yes.”

Then she waited for an answer. The unicorn knew she was waiting for an answer and it waited before giving it to her. “You will not find it.”

Rane opened her mouth to retort.

“Do you understand,” interrupted the unicorn, “what Elusive is?”

Encyclopedia of Emotions

The Fog of Discernment

By: Coralyhr

Rane squinted at his flickering form in the blue fog that thickened the further they went down the slope. “I don’t know if there is a definite way out.”

“You’ve lost hope.”

“I don’t know anything.”

“You’re just drifting around trying to find meaning in your life.”

“So? Isn’t everyone trying to do that?”

“But the problem with that is that often than not, you will conclude that there is no meaning and then the meaning of your life will be for your personal gratification.”

“Is that wrong? Why can’t I, who exists, and suffers for existing, have my own happiness?” Rane looked down while she spoke, watching where she put her foot because the slope began steeper than it should be. “If someone will tell me definitely…”

“If someone tells you definitely,” said Bai’s voice, “you will not believe them because you don’t think they know it definitely.”

“If they have proof, I will believe them,” Rane said.

Bai laughed. “Evidence is subjective.”

“Find evidence for ME to believe then.”

She looked up to inquire his answer. But he was gone. The only shoes that made squishing noises in the tall grasses that brushed the knees of her pants, were her own.

Encyclopedia of Emotions 20

The Valley of No Answers

By: Coralyhr

Bai was silent, as if contemplating whether to tell her or not. He grinned. “I don’t know. You know it though. Or at least,” he took a puffball off the same tree and bounced it, but unlike with Rane, the green acid did not burn him, “you will know when you find out.”

She took out her wooden stick and pointed it at him. “Why won’t you telll me?” she demanded.

He shrugged, unperturbed by the stick which caused a dark purple trickle to leak from a sharp cut above his collarbone. “You can kill me if you want, I don’t die. And, I also don’t know the answer.”

“Whatever you know,” snarled Rane, she picked another puffball and made to throw it in his face, “tell me now.”

He sighed and sat on a short toadstool, folding his legs beneath him and settling his tail on his lap. “Alright,” he said, “listen carefully and do not fall asleep, for it is a long story.”

Rane sat on a nearby toadstool, keeping the stick on his shoulder. “Go on,” she said.

He cleared his throat and gave his most serious face. “Once you find out how you got here, you will know how to leave.”

There was a long silence.

“Go on,” said Rane.

Bai laughed. “That’s it.”

She lifted her stick and swung it at him. He blocked the blow with his tail, rubbing the blue appendage along the length of the stick.

“Ah ah ah,” he taunted, “be careful with your actions. Pay heed that you do not become rash.”

Rane did not know why she felt so jumpy. During her journey, she had not felt much of anything, but now, she was tired. Very tired. “I want to know how to get out of here.”

“You don’t want to get out of here?”

she stared at him. He smirked.

“There’s a difference between wanting to know and wanting to do. If you just want to know, I assure you that it is better not to. If you want to do, go and look for the answer. Asking me who has no idea will not help you.”

Rane swung her stick again.

Encyclopedia of Emotions 19

The Password-locked Cabinet

By: Coralyhr

All the teachers offered to meet up with us if we had any questions about the subject we wanted to ask. The Chemistry teacher who thought Oxygen was in Group II. The Math teacher who forgot that 10 was not a one digit number and who mixed up x with the multiplication symbol. The English teacher with terrible grammar. The principal who was frequently late for assembly.

I did not believe any of them.

O Levels was in one month. We did not have to come to school anymore. I didn’t. I stayed at home. Since none of them could answer my questions anyway. And even if they did, I don’t believe them. “Did you ask?” Papa said.

It was a strange day. He came home from work early, claiming that it was a public holiday the next day. I had lost track of the days that passed. He frowned and asked if I had stepped out of my room for the past 24 hours.

He picked up my food trash and carried it to the kitchen.

I didn’t want to study. It was meaningless. Math that I would never use. Chemistry that I never understood. English that never communicated anything for me. But I did because I couldn’t ask anyone the questions. And no one could answer me.

“Yes,” I told him. Then I stopped writing with my pen and glanced at the window. “No. I didn’t.”

“Ask,” he said. He had picked up an assessment book that I finished. I did not do any of the questions. I had drawn eyes on one page. Bouncing balls on another. A dolphin out of some figure that was supposed to be deciphered. I finished drawing on all the pages.

Now, I had started on my Chemistry ten-year-series, colouring in the enclosed spaces of the letters in question forty two.

“Study hard,” he said.

He left the room.

I thought that maybe the person who needed to ask the question was not me. It was him. It was the teachers. I had nothing to ask. I had an answer. But no one wanted to know it. So it was stuck in my throat and over time, a question marked formed on top of the fullstop.

Encyclopedia of Emotions 14

The Island of Fear

By: Coralyhr

YueLi handed her a dog bowl. The swirling liquid in it had the smell of bitter almonds. Rane knew what it was. “I’m not going to drink this,” she said.

“You will,” said the mouthless YueLi, her eyes flicking over Rane. “You always do what I say. I have all your secrets. I will tell people.”

“No,” said Rane. “You’re not like that.”

“You don’t know me at all,” YueLi said, tilting her head to one side. She began to fill another dog bowl with a dark red liquid from a glass bottle. The smell of iron filled the air. “You were never really thinking about me. It’s always been yourself.”

“No. I… I cared about you too.”

YueLi put the second bowl in her other hand. “If you really did, you’ll drink it.”

“It’s poison,” Rane said.

YueLi stared at her. “It’s not.”

“I can smell it.”

She took out a knife and held it out. “Come on, be a good friend. You can do it, Rane. You just need to try a lot harder.” She tapped Rane’s cheek with the flat of the blade, “One day you’ll be good at it. Maybe.”

Encyclopedia of Emotions 12

The Shattered Moon

By: Coralyhr

Rane stepped carefully on the platform to look around. The air was freezing, her breath misted in front of her eyes. The train’s front lights illuminated what was in front of it and that was a giant ball of grey rock like the pictures she had seen of the moon.

Yet unlike those satellite images which showed craters and little lumps along the surface of it, this moon was a smooth round rock and it reminded her of a pebble, only perfectly spherical.

There were the cracks on the surface of the moon. Thin, fine lines that snaked like an ugly black mesh had been thrown over the rock. Bits of the moon made a deafening creeeeaakkk sound and came away from the moon, dropping down into the darkness.

“A cracked perfection,” mumbled Rane.

“Perfection does not exist here,” said the train, “even the thing you are trying so hard to reach is not perfect.”

“What is it then?” she asked, stepping back on the train.

“It is the moon.”

“Maybe this is perfection,” said Rane as the train began to move backwards and she felt as if she was falling in the opposite direction. “Maybe this is where I should get off.”

“Will you accept that this is perfection?” The train was ruminative now.

“Yes. If that’s what it is.”

Encyclopedia of Emotions 11

The Footstep I Can’t Follow

By: Coralyhr

“It’s worse when it hurts you,” I said. “When the robot is not hitting the wall. It’s hitting you.”

The three of them were quiet.

Then Lily got up, almost as if someone told her to. She came right up to Rane and slapped her across the face. “Like that?” she asked.

Rane, stunned speechless for a moment, just nodded.

Sunflower frowned. “Then what? You see, it’s all good for you to notice that you’re banging the wall pointlessly. But don’t you realise that if the computer is programmed to end there, than the only other choice you have is to give up.” He gestured at the controls on the table. “Like that.”

Rose bounced to the edge of his seat. “If you don’t want to give up, then you have to take the path that is given to you. And endure the pain.”

“What for?” she asked. “Why would I want to endure instead of giving up?”

Lily shrugged. Then she smiled. It reminded her of Bai. “The person who endures holds on to hope that there is a chink in the armour, that the ‘programme’ will weaken and let them through. The person who gives up throws away hope and dies. You are not a robot, so you will not make a rational decision.”

“Humans can be rational.”

“What then,” asked Rose, “is rational?”

“Dying. Saving energy.”

“If you live, encounter difficulties and then die,” said Sunflower, “you have not achieved anything.”

“I wouldn’t know that.”

Encyclopedia of Emotions 9

The Page of Doubt

By: Coralyhr

The pinkish fur-ball yelled at them to stop, plunging his own claw into a comrade on the left. There was a shrill cry now and a bloodbath ensued. Rane could not stand it anymore. She began to close the door.

“Wait!” called the pinkish fur-ball. “Trust me, it’s not what you think it is.”

Rane stared at it. “Yes. I think that’s just what it is.”

The pinkish fur-ball kicked PinPin and climbed up his companions to stand so that he was level with Rane’ s head. “What do you mean?”

“I can’t trust anyone here. The only thing I can trust is that I can’t trust anyone. You are all lying to me. Bai is lying to me. The old woman is lying to me.”

“Bai never lied to you. He can’t.”

Rane let go of the door knob. “What do you mean he can’t?”

“That’s who he is. He can’t lie to you.”

“You can lie to me. Maybe you’re lying by saying that he can’t lie to you.”

“Fine. But he’s your guardian. He can’t lie to you.”

Then the pinkish fur-ball was kicked off the pile of the little creatures and disappeared into the foray.

Rane had other things to ask, but he was gone.

PinPin (who Rane could spot easily simply because he was matted in the most blood) pressed himself against the mesh. “Rane. Rane. You didn’t go into the other room did you?”

She shook her head. “No. There’s nothing inside.”

PinPin hooked his claws on the mesh. “There is. Touch the walls. You’ll see.”

“Why would I want to do that?”

He looked hurt. “You’re really suspicious aren’t you?”

She pushed blonde hair behind her ear. “You would be too, if every time you try to figure something out, it kills you.”

PinPin kicked one of his friends away so Rane could see him clearly. “I would, I think. If I had anything to figure out. But if you never know, it will still kill you.”