The empath sees emotions connecting people and objects. When a person feels love for, say, a dog, a yellow (make the colors different, unexpected) bar of light flows from the person to the dog, like a river of energy between feeler and object. It doesn’t matter how far apart, the energy beams connect the feeler to the object as if distance didn’t mattered.
What about dead people? Now we’re getting somewhere interesting. If it goes up, then it’s trite, and there is a heaven. If it glows within the person, then the dead person may exist within that person, or death might be an end. A love of unicorns, for example, would glow inside the person, a pulse of light. A hatred of a concept would do the same; for example, if someone hated communism, then a dark blue glow would form at the center of their being.
Of course, people are very complicated, and it’s rare to see only one emotion coming from a person at a given time. A child may have a solid color (love, for example, or greed), but a person may have complicated feelings toward another person, and all of those colors would blend like a rainbow of colors, that the protagonist can read.
I want a simple story in the way that Fight Club and the rest of his books are simple: first person, present tense. He uses his powers for something. He’s trying to find forgiveness. If nothing else, it’s a beacon. He can see everyone else’s emotions but his own. He begins to believe that he has no emotions (or convinces himself of that when he’s young, which is why he can do what he did).
The world around the empath looks different from us. He sees colors everywhere. He walks through beams of color as they radiate. In a crowded room during, say, a political speech, the colors combine to an almost blinding white (the colors blend as light does, not paint). With so many people feeling such strong emotions, it’s difficult to see individual colors. It is the same with people who are far apart. He can see the connection, but with slight movement comes large movements, and it’s easy to lose the beam when it combines with others to blend the colors together
There’s an open question about inanimate objects. Like dead people, my initial thought is to push it together, the glow is internal.
This is all good and well, but I need to take this concept and build a story around it. Otherwise, it’ll turn out like The Pink Sweater.