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Martin Hooijmans | Lars de Ruyter

While the invention of Emotional Mail Operation (EMO) was a blessing for most of the world, it was a nightmare for Sue. And for the insurance devils he worked for. But mostly for Sue. He took the anger.

Sue worked with the technology on a daily basis. Highly attuned sensors on keyboards picked up not only letters typed, but also feelings transmitted by their messenger. Upon opening these e-mails, people were often overwhelmed by love, surprise and the bane of Sue’s existence: anger. Messaging had never been as effective.

EMO had been implemented worldwide. As a result, the number of burn-outs at customer help desks skyrocketed. Solutions had to be found. Scapegoats were the answer, professionals who could take the blows before forwarding the ‘used-up’ messages. Sue was one of these goats.

He fired up his computer, launched the e-mail client and watched his inbox fill up. His heart sank at seeing the sheer volume of work waiting for him. Two hundred messages per day was the target, enough to reduce Sue’s self-confidence to shreds. Each mouse-click was like a slap in the face, another step towards a descent into life as a hermit. Sue felt like the most unloved person in the entire world.

At the time of discharge, the screen flashed the color affiliated with the emotion. All e-mails Sue opened were a flaming red, and as the psychological surges came out, he was thrown back into his chair time and time again, each blow harder than the last. On and on it went, until a little indicator popped up, telling Sue that mail had landed in his personal work mailbox. He gave a start. No one had ever sent him a personal e-mail before. They’d dumped him at his desk, showed him the system and had left him alone. No one wanted to interact with the goats. Or so he thought.

Sue hovered over the lonely message, sent by a Katherine Merabell. It didn’t have a subject line. The name sounded vaguely familiar. Sweat forming on his palms, he depressed his mouse button and braced for impact. The flash was not red, however. It was the brightest shade of pink Sue had ever seen, and a feeling of absolute want washed over him. For the first time in his life, Sue felt loved, loved by Katherine Merabell. The sensation convinced him that no angry e-mail would hurt him again. EMO worked like a charm, so the message was genuine, no doubt about it. He read the short text.

— Talking about coincidence! Sue, it’s me, Kat, from high school. Remember me? Look, I saw you on the street this morning and couldn’t help following you inside. You were already gone, so I got your e-mail from the receptionist. Hope you don’t mind. Do you want to grab a coffee later? Catch up, talk about old times? Let me know. Love, Kat.

“Yes!” Sue shouted, then clapped his hands in front of his mouth before bursting into laughter. Laughter. It felt like forever since the last time that had happened. Kat, now he remembered. He’d had a crush on her for years. And apparently she felt the same way. So with his belly bursting with butterflies, Sue typed a fitting response.

The rest of the day, as wave upon wave of anger hit him straight in the face, Sue’s smile did not falter once. As he stood up at five o’ clock, it widened. When he saw the cute girl with the glasses waving at him in the lobby, Sue grinned like never before. Finally the blessings of EMO had found him.

About Martin Hooijmans

Martin Hooijmans is a writer, a traveler and the founding editor of Story Shack. He has a profound love for storytelling and a mind overflowing with ideas. Currently, he's based in Munich and working as a SEO and front-end developer. Also check out his new project: relgrowth

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