I awoke to the unmistakable smell of disinfectant. Bright fluorescent lights greeted me on my pathway to consciousness. I tried to move my body, but to its own better judgment, it wouldn't budge. I was too weak to lift myself up off of the hospital bed. I could lift my arm to grab onto the side rails, but that was about it. I saw the sea foam green walls in the room. A television hung at an angle off of the adjacent wall. I saw the remote sitting on a night stand over on my right side. There was a large window on my left and I noticed that it was daytime once again. I was quickly rejuvenated at the complete realization of waking up somewhere alien. I mustered the strength to sit upright, but that was all I did. For some reason, I didn't want to call for anyone. I even saw I had a button for assistance, but didn't care to use it. I just sat there trying to remember what could have happened to me to have ended up in a hospital.

Soon enough, a man came into the room. He was tall and had long, dark hair. He greeted me, sat down in a chair next to my bed, and introduced himself as my doctor.

“What happened to me?” I asked. He rolled his chair down to the end of my bed and retrieved a clipboard.

“No, I wouldn't suppose you would have remembered much of what happened,” he said. “You're in Radiant Garden Hospital. You were brought in late last night after an attack left you suffering severe wounds to your chest. The authorities don't exactly know what attacked you, but I've seen cases like yours more and more frequently over the last few weeks, all with the same bizarre factor.”

I asked what that factor was and he seemed irritable at the question as if he was tired of having to answer it. He sat back down and slid his chair much closer to me. He spoke in a loud whisper and with an intensity as if he were trying to get more answers out of me that I was out of him.

“Do you remember anything about last night? Try really hard.”

I thought to myself for a while. The longer I took trying to remember the events of last night, the worse I felt with not remembering anything.

“I really don't,” I said quietly. “I'm sorry.” The man bowed his head and sighed.

“Like with every other case we've seen like this, whatever it was that attacked you took out your heart.” The doctor was brief, but still stumbling over the exact words to use. “You see, the thing is that you can live without it. In fact, you are right now. We're calling the phenomenon Improbus. We gave you no transplant or artificial heart of any kind. We still cannot fully explain how or why you're even alive right now, but more and more cases of the disorder are rapidly occurring all over. Our chief of medicine, Dr. Dilan, ordered us to treat you like all the others: to sew up the gash and let you live without a heart. I thought he should have been here to explain it all to you, but he's too busy with the other patients at the moment. Honestly, he didn't even want us telling the patients, but I feel that they all had a right to know. In my experience with Improbus, you are going to be just fine. You have nothing to worry about. We will need to schedule a follow up appointment soon however to check up on your recovery, but you should be out of here by the end of the day.”

I was only slightly taken back by what he said. For some reason, I was very accepting of what he was telling me. I don't know why, but it just made sense to me, even though I knew it shouldn't. I looked down at my chest and saw that there were gauze and bandages where the attack must have been. I stared at the doctor blankly and thanked him for all the hospital could do. He gave me the final run around, informing me that the police will want me in for questioning, but that I should be fine and he had me sign a release form. I was released that afternoon.

After I had left the hospital, I started walking home. I wasn't worried about being attacked again or much of anything else for that matter. I truly didn't remember anything of being assaulted last night. I knew exactly where my home was in relation to the hospital, but for some reason, it took me several hours to take a thirty minute walk. I shuffled along at a much slower pace. My mind was blank. I wasn't even sure home was where I wanted to go. I had no direction or motive to go anywhere, but home seemed like the logical place to be heading. I didn't feel hungry or thirsty. I wasn't tired or lonely. I wasn't afraid by what the doctor had told me. It was just life now and I was content at that. I held one hand against my chest to feel the hollow cavern where my heart used to be. I felt no more lively thumps. I had no more pulse to be taken. I felt nothing and that alone brought me content.

When I finally returned home, I felt my little sister run up and put her arms around me. I looked down at her and she smiled back up at me. I stared down at this stranger I once knew as she moved her mouth and excreted sound. What it was, I didn't know. Maybe I did know, but I didn't care to acknowledge her. I walked slowly to my room and locked myself inside. Inside my room, I saw everything that once made me a person. Trophies for various activities, pictures of other people hanging on the wall, and clothes of different colors and styles both hanging up and strewn about. It all was a stranger to me. I turned off the lights and shuffled slowly over to an unoccupied corner of the room. I knelt down facing the corner and wrapped my arms around my legs. I stayed there for the rest of the day.

What it was that happened to me I knew was not something that could have been just stitched up and overlooked. They say I can live without a heart, and though they may be right, it is not living the same life you had become used to. I remained locked in my room for days, then weeks and months. I never hungered or grew thirst anymore. I stopped caring about the life I once had. Memories of once were vanished from my mind by the year-full. My skin began to discolor. It grew darker and darker over time. The walls around me began to lose their shape and color as well. They became gray and lifeless with time. All of the possessions I once used to define me began to disappear into the darkness that I yielded my life to. I didn't miss having a heart for a moment, because I failed to feel anything anymore. I didn't feel pain or misery. I had forgotten all about the illusions of being happy and being sad, the burdens of hot and cold, and the lies that are both love and hate.

I felt that the complete apathy I had for the world around me made me superior to those limited by emotions and futile life pursuits. I had become better than all of them and all I had to do was lose my heart. My skin had all but blackened after a year of constant solitude. My entire body had become as black as the deepest darkness. The room, and everything in it, had been completely swallowed into a void of pure absence. I had become one with the darkness around me. I could feel my black skin melt into the black of the floor below. I was something else entirely now, and I was content.

That was until a year after my ostracism. My little sister's curiosity finally got the better of her and she somehow unlocked the door to my room. She showed no fear to what lay in front of her as she slowly pushed the door open and entered. She called to me by the name I had long abandoned. That's when I finally felt something. For the first time in a year, I was reminded of a single human feeling. A wave of hunger washed over me, one that had been stirring for twelve whole months. It was all so sudden. The pain of hunger was all too real. I missed the contentment of feeling nothing. The need to eat was one more thing I had forsaken. I turned to her and she called me by that name again.

I could wait no longer. I threw myself onto her. She screamed and kicked, but my strength was far superior to hers. I did the only thing my urges forced me to do. I began clawing away at her chest, ripping through clothes and flesh as if they were one and the same. Her screams were deafening, but no pain matched that of the hunger I felt. After I had clawed far enough, I sunk my sharpened fingers through her rib cage and grabbed her quickly pulsating heart. It took a couple of tugs, but I managed to rip it all out. It felt so tender and juicy in my hand. I dove my teeth into it as easily as one would bite into a peach. The taste was indescribable; like realizing your favorite food for the first time. It was all I wanted to eat from then on. I wanted more even then.

Her heart alone was not nearly enough to satisfy the hunger I had developed. I devoured it all within seconds. Now, I was no longer living without care. Now, I began hungering for more and more. I rediscovered in myself the most basic of instincts: to feed. I turned back and noticed that the door was open. I was no longer confined to the darkness of my room. Looking the way of the door, however, is when I noticed her. The girl that wandered too far out of the light. The girl whose heart was my very first true meal. The girl who used to be my sister stood in the doorway and whose skin was as black as night. I had removed her heart the way I had mine removed and the darkness gave her new life. She and I were now the same.

We ventured outside to a paradise to behold. What was once a haven of a land was now blackened with the very creatures we had become. The streets were covered in what we were. Roads, houses, buildings, all deteriorated by the darkness we spread. The sky had become black with the hopelessness we instilled in those hearts we feasted on. Humans fell left and right at our hunger. The sounds of helpless screams and starved slurping flooded the air. Those that made it out intact fled by the ship load. We spread throughout the world until every inch had been darkened by our tracks. Our world had become ours and we made it what we all were: hollow.

We spread the gift of apathy throughout the land and rid those of their shallow desires. Human weapons drew, not our blood, but only our attention. Soon after, there were no humans left. We were the one and only thing alive. This is our world now. To those that had left, know that there is no place you can hide where we don't already live. We will conquer the universe heart by heart, world by world. For you see, we are the darkness that lives inside each one of your hearts. We are the life force that drives your very existence. We are what has thrived stronger and longer than you or the precious light you so selfishly seek.

Most of all, and in the truest sense of the word, we are the Heartless.