Empathic Echoes Ch. 01

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Author’s Note: This my first time posting any of my creative writing for others to see. I hope you enjoy it! This chapter is part of an erotic re-imagining of a novel I have been trying to write for a few years. Maybe one day I’ll actually write the book, but until then I’m having fun exploring this world in short story format. I have at least two more chapters planned, but I will have to see where the story takes me to know for sure! Lastly, thanks to author Fidget for giving me the courage to actually write and post this!

Disclaimer: This story contains graphic depictions of at least somewhat nonconsensual sex, and is intended to be read only by adults of legal age in legal contexts. All characters depicted are over 18, and all events and people described are entirely fictional. Copyright 2020, Quiver. All rights reserved.

Empathic Echoes


Chapter 1: Feedback Loop

“I know what you are,” said a voice.

Sienna glanced up from her phone looking to see who had spoken. It was some guy, mid-twenties, long dark hair, unkempt. He was sitting at a nearby table watching her, his feet propped up on an extra chair. He had this ineffable kind of sleezy charm that she couldn’t quite describe. He definitely stood out. He was wearing a tight black band t-shirt, black jeans and combat boots. It was July. Who wears combat boots in the middle of the summer?

“…what?” Sienna responded, looking around the coffee shop for anyone else he might be talking to. But aside from this new guy, it was just as empty as when she had arrived. Old man reading the paper in the far corner, a couple of employees shuffling behind the counter, no one remotely close enough to be the target of his declaration.

“I know what you are,” the odd young man repeated. “I know your secret.”

“I think you might have me confused for someone else,” Sienna replied. This dude is really pushy, she thought.

He stood up and came over to her table and pointedly straddled the chair opposing her. “I don’t think so. We can see it in each other, I think. It’s easy to spot after a while, like an echo. You see bits of yourself reflected back at you. Though, I gotta say, you’re doing a pretty good job of hiding it.”

“What are you talking about?” Sienna was getting a little annoyed, and her anxiety was starting to peak. She could feel her face warming, and knew that her cheeks would be fully flushed in seconds. She hated that. She hated that her emotions were so visible to anyone and everyone, which was actually more than a little ironic. She brushed her auburn hair behind her ear, growing more uncomfortable. None of what this guy was saying made any sense. But… it was coming dangerously close.

“You’re a reader, an empath. Like me,” he said quietly. “Well, kind of like me. I’m more of a writer, myself. I think you’re a pure reader though. Must be tough, feeling all that stuff and not being able to change any of it.”

Sienna had never really had a name for what she was. But she knew it was a secret, and she knew she didn’t want it. Hearing that word… empath. That word struck a chord deep down inside and it just felt true. She knew she had always had an uncanny ability tell when someone was upset, or excited, or any intense emotion. But it was more than ‘reading’ people. When she was near people in heightened emotional states, she experienced those heightened emotional states. And it was really fucking disruptive. And sometimes, terrifying. She winced as a brief flicker of a memory passed by, which she quickly and reflexively pushed away.

Thankfully, she hadn’t had to deal with all that in a while though. Years ago, it all shut off, went numb. When it happened. But she tried not to think about that. At least all the intrusive feelings had gone quiet. Even though her own emotions were pretty blocked off too. It seemed that these days the only emotion Sienna really ever felt was embarrassment, and the occasional stab of blind panic.

“I really don’t know what you’re talking about, dude. Sorry,” Sienna replied, trying to stay outwardly calm.

The man shifted forward, placing his elbows on the table and crossing his fingers below his chin. He stared at her intently. “You know exactly what I’m talking about.” His eyes lit up with something Sienna couldn’t quite place. And then it started.

Sienna felt a pressure at her temples, and a bubbling rage fomenting in her chest. She was so angry, it was all she could do to keep from screaming. It was the kind of primal rage that triggers instinctually after being hit in the head from behind, intense and completely unrestrained. If she had been able to move, she might have actually punched someone.

The man cocked his head to the side and gave Sienna the most faux-innocent smirk she had ever seen.

“Something wrong?” he asked.

Sienna couldn’t speak. She had never, even before the numbness started, experienced a tidal wave of kağıthane escort emotion that intense before, especially without any warning like that. And she was fairly certain that this anger wasn’t entirely hers. Probably. She had no reason to be angry, right?

“How?” she managed to get out.

“Like I said, I’m a writer. I’m an empath just like you, but for me it tends to… work the other direction. I feel what you feel, but I can push the feelings around. I find the seed of a feeling inside you, and then I take it and build on it, and then watch it grow and morph as it becomes yours again. It’s usually not quite that intense, though. I’ve never done it to a reader before. Pretty heady.”

As he was talking, the anger had quickly subsided, and Sienna felt like she could breathe again. She felt like she could think again. She realized what had just happened. And then the anger bubbled up again, but this time it was definitely hers. A much subtler seething anger at the idea of being violated.

“How dare you,” she whispered. “How dare you go inside my mind and take or build anything. It’s not yours. And you have no right to make me feel those things.”

Sienna could feel tears forming, that painful tingle at the tip of her nose and the quiver in her jaw signaling that her resolve wouldn’t last much longer. She had to look away. She brushed her hair back in front of her face in would an absent motion.

The man’s expression softened a bit, and he looked slightly ashamed. “Hey, I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to make you cry. I just wanted to show you, remind you. And I guess, have a little fun, since you seemed so intent on feigning ignorance. I didn’t know it be so… loud.”

“What do you mean, loud?” Sienna asked, still trying to get a grip on what she had just experienced. It had been a long time since she had felt anything remotely like that. And honestly, even her own anger at the violation was pretty new. It felt like some kind of hole had been punched in her armor. She felt more than a little exposed.

“Well, usually, I can only start a chain. It’s like lighting a match in someone else and watching it burn from really far away. I do feel it, but it’s kind of a vague feeling, just enough so that I can play with it and then watch it go. I like watching from afar like that. It’s exhilarating.” He shook his head to bring himself back on topic. “But anyway, with you, it wasn’t like that at all. I guess it’s because you’re an empath too? You can feel me feeling you feeling things, and I feel that, and so on. It’s like it creates some kind of emotional feedback, and yeah, it got really loud. Sorry about that.”

Sienna was still reeling, and part of her wanted to run away, but her curiosity started to creep up despite herself. “Okay, I guess that makes sense. But how did you find me? Why did you start talking to me in the first place? What do you want? And who even are you?” she asked, her questions growing more rapid with each word.

The man sat back in the chair. “Reasonable questions. I’ll start with the easy one. My name’s Jasper. We actually met briefly a few years back.” Sienna tilted her head in confusion. She had absolutely no memory of this guy. “Remember that all-girls summer camp you attended? Camp Artemis?”

“Yeah, I went there for years,” Sienna responded. Camp Artemis. That brought up some memories. She quickly pushed them away. Jasper paused for a moment, noting her reaction.

“Well, I spent a summer at the brother camp, Camp Apollo, a few miles away. I saw you at the camp mixer maybe… ten years ago. You were about 16, I think, and I was 13,” Jasper said. “I was just coming into my abilities at the time, just starting to recognize that I could even sense what other people were feeling. And you were like a mirror to everyone around you. The excitement was amplified and I could see just by looking what you were feeling,” he continued, somewhat wistfully.

Sienna remembered that dance. She remembered the surging of teen hormones that had surrounded her, and how she had been able to flit from one thought to the next, party to the experiences of so many people at once. It was indeed exhilarating. She had been so free, so… untouched. Those damn tears again started to well up at the contrast with her current self. Something was definitely different. She didn’t normally get nostalgic about her empathic abilities. She didn’t normally think about her empathic abilities.

“If it was so easy for you to notice me, why didn’t I notice you too?” she asked, trying to stay focused on her questions.

“Ah, I think it’s because our gifts work a little differently. From what I can tell, you mirror the emotions of the people physically close to you. That night, you were dancing around the room, and you always seemed to match the state of the people around you. It was really beautiful to watch,” he added, trailing off again. “But that’s not how mine works,” he quickly kartal escort followed. “I don’t think I feel emotion as strongly as you seem to, and I don’t really feel it as my own like you do. It’s duller, more like a window into what others are feeling, but very little translates to me. I just get to see what people are feeling, I don’t really feel it myself, so you probably wouldn’t even have noticed anything special about me. You also didn’t really seem to be seeking out anything in particular, just, experiencing whatever passed by you. You might have noticed me if you were looking as hard as I was,” his voice started to strain a bit at the thought.

“Plus, I seem to have a wider natural range than you. That’s why I could sense you from across the room. Across the camp, actually, once I knew what to look for. But I definitely recognized a kindred spirit, even though I didn’t understand it at the time.”

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Sienna asked.

“What would I have said?” Jasper answered. “I didn’t even know what to call my own abilities, much less talk to anyone else about it. And honestly, I was intimidated by you.”

Hah, she thought. Intimidated. That’s not a word Sienna thought she’d ever hear associated with herself. “Okay, then why now? Why ten years later? And how did you find me?”

“Well, after I saw you that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about how this all works, why I felt so different. I stopped focusing on anything else. I dropped out of school, ran away and was basically living off the grid. It was pretty easy, once I figured out that I could make people… more inclined to help me out. I basically just moved from place to place listening to other people, watching them, and sometimes… playing on their innate desire to help wayward teens like myself,” he continued.

“I found a few other people like us, who amplified and mirrored people. Mostly outcast types, street performers, con artists, psychics, sex workers, career gamblers, the kinds of people who can make a living out of knowing what other people are thinking. Some of them seemed to understand what they were and others appeared to have no idea. Some glowed intensely kind of like you did, and others were much more subdued. I generally avoided them though, but my curiosity never really went away. And it always seemed to come back to you. You were so raw, it was hard to get you out of my head,” he trailed off again, lost in some other world. He quickly jolted himself back to the conversation, seemingly slightly annoyed at himself for drifting, “So, I did what I do and I found your name from some old camp records, and started doing the detective thing until I found you. Again, found some very helpful people in the records office,” he smirked.

“I gotta say, I almost didn’t recognize you, though. I’m so used to feeling people instead of seeing them. You feel different now. You still have that echo around you, I’d know you were one of us even if I’d never met you before. But, you’re not really mirroring anymore. Like, not at all. I see little spurts of connection around you, but nothing sticks to you. You’ve got some serious walls up. It’s like the surrounding emotions are attracted to you, but somehow just bounce away without affecting you.”

This was a lot to take in. Sienna knew she had this ‘gift’, had known for a long time. It made her a good friend most of the time, though she’d always struggled with remembering whose emotions were whose. Especially negative emotions. Even before, she felt taken over when someone near her was struggling. She felt everything they were feeling, but it was so much more confusing because she had nothing to ground her feelings. No reason for feeling them. Just pure emotion.

Jasper interrupted her reverie. “So what happened?”

Sienna sank back into herself, walling off the memories that started to creep up. “What?”

“What happened?” he repeated. “What changed?”

“Nothing,” she replied. “I guess it was a phase or something. A fluke.”

“You know I’m a mind reader, right? Well, emotion reader anyway. I can tell you’re lying,” Jasper said.

“Okay, you got me,” Sienna replied sarcastically. “What are you going to do about it? It’s not really any of your business who I am or what I do or how I feel or what kind of shit I’ve been through. And to be frank, you’re kind of a stalker anyway, so I don’t know why I’m even talking to you. I should call the police right now.” She said the words, but she didn’t believe them. This was too interesting. Jasper was too… interesting. She kind of hated him, especially the way he seemed to derive this sick pleasure from using people. But still, she wasn’t quite ready to get rid of him. She paused.

Jasper was staring at her. She could see the hint of a smile forming at one corner of his mouth, and she knew he knew she was bluffing. That smile sent a shudder through her. It seemed like he knew more than he was saying. küçükçekmece escort He knew exactly what had changed for her. He was just testing her, seeing how much she’d actually tell him.

“Do you know?” she asked quietly. It scared her more than she’d like to admit that someone out there could know what happened to her.

Jasper shook his head quickly. “No, not know, per se,” he responded. “I just feel a lot of pain wrapped up in you, and it seems linked to those walls you’ve constructed around yourself. I’m very observant, you’ll find,” he added with a grin.

“It’s not like I put them up on purpose,” Sienna replied, ignoring his self-aggrandizement.

“Doesn’t look to me like you’re doing much to try to get rid of them,” Jasper said flippantly.

“You don’t even know me,” Sienna quipped back. That flash of anger again, this was new. Something was different inside her—she felt more awake than she had in a long time. Jasper smiled again. Her anger flared up suddenly, and Sienna could tell it was Jasper again, moving inside her mind. Why on earth would he be trying to make her more angry with him?

But she had to admit, it felt good to feel angry. Such a long time with just numbness and fear, she had forgotten what it was to experience anything so raw.

“Maybe I know you better than you think I do,” Jasper replied after a few moments. “I know something happened to you, something you won’t even think about, much less talk about. I know your powers shut off after that, and that for some reason you don’t seem too bent out of shape about it,” he paused. “I also know that there’s something inside you that wants to feel something again, even though it scares you. There’s a part of you that even likes the fear.”

Sienna didn’t realize she had been holding her breath until she finally exhaled. She was both excited and afraid, her eyes starting to well up with tears again. It was indeed scary to have someone see through her layers of protection so clearly. Even scarier to know that he could reach in any time he liked and prompt anything he wanted inside her.

“Meet me tomorrow night,” Jasper interrupted. “Corner of 43rd Street and Pine, in the industrial zone.”

“What?” Sienna asked, shocked at the brazen command.

“Tomorrow night, 9 o’clock,” Jasper repeated. “I have a place I’d like to show you.”

He stood up and started to walk away before she could find the words to respond. Sienna couldn’t stop him from leaving without making a scene, so despite her curiosity, she remained seated at her table, alone with her coffee and her thoughts. No way she was meeting him at some random street corner. No way.

The next evening, a few minutes before 9, Sienna found herself standing at the corner of 43rd and Pine. This was the old part of town, now mostly warehouses and a few dive bars. She’d never been this way at night before, but it was a known meet-up area for drug dealers and prostitutes and the like. Not a place she’d normally choose for a… second date? She wasn’t sure what this was about, but she definitely felt… something… for Jasper. Was it a date? She had even put on her favorite sundress for this mysterious meeting, which, now that she thought about it, made her fairly conspicuous given the location and time of day. Either way, she was a bundle of nerves.

She heard a whistle from a nearby alley. Jasper. Same black jeans and combat boots with another black t-shirt, this time covered up with a leather jacket. He nodded his head at her, clearly inviting her to follow him.

Sienna followed Jasper through the alleyway until they reached what looked like an abandoned warehouse loading door. As they approached, Jasper went over to the door with his back to her. Sienna, on edge, turned around to keep an eye on her surroundings. This wasn’t exactly her idea of a night on the town. What the hell was she doing here with this man she didn’t know, fumbling around an alley in the middle of the night? Had she gone completely insane? She heard a loud clang and turned around as the door abruptly swung open, revealing a dark hallway.

There wasn’t much to see, but from what she could make out it seemed like her initial assumption that the place was abandoned was correct. There was one dim neon bulb hanging from a metal fixture at the end of the hallway, bathing the interior concrete and steel in a green haze. The rest of the light was filtering through some dirty windows along the exterior wall. Perfect, she thought. A perfect place to be murdered. But despite her internal dialogue, she didn’t feel very afraid. Mostly she was intrigued.

“This place is out of the way, and usually the building owner doesn’t come down here unless there’s been something illegal reported. I’ve been able to keep things pretty quiet by… deterring the locals now and again,” Jasper said.

Sienna glanced around and was indeed surprised to see that despite the run-down quality of this place, there weren’t any signs of squatters. In this kind of neighborhood, this place should have been pretty prime real estate for junkies.

It smelled mostly of rust, with a faint hint of stale cigarettes, but none of the usual smells of piss and beer from the surrounding alleys had made their way inside.

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