The Hollow and The Saint

"The world we live in is no different from Hell; there are those who are tortured by the fire, there are demons who carry out orders, and then, of course, there is the devil himself. Well, I plan on turning hell into heaven."

Wounded, heartbroken with a hollow void filling down his soul, Logan Hayz is lying down on the ground, in front of him the corpse of his son, with a bullet stuck in his skull painting such beauty on his face. A bullet fired from the same Glock pistol Logan is holding in his right hand. Blood covering his left mechanical arm giving it an exquisite look with the rust of steel. Water drops touching down his flabby skin, in one eye he can see the past along with all the hardships and sufferings he had to endure to achieve his ultimate dream of creating the perfect world. In the other, he saw the reason he pursued that dream, Elizabeth Rose, his long-lost beloved.


Cover by INFINITE_EXHO

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15. A Stray Cat

“Logan, what are you reading?” The Doctor asked, standing beside me in the study room.

“This book is amazing! It’s called ‘How to Fix a Rose’. I have almost finished the first half,” said the ten years old me.

“Oh right, I remember this one. The first half is quite interesting, but, I can’t say the same about the other one though. My advice, stop reading here and save yourself the trouble,” he patted on my head.

“Why is that? What if there was a hidden message the author was trying to deliver?”

“Well actually there is. You see, in the first half, we get to see a small sprout growing up little by little until it finally became a charming rose. Vibrant and eye catching, with a sweet fragrance, that rose stood like a queen, the garden was her kingdom. That’s the beautiful part. However, in the second half, the petals began to slowly lose that captivating red glow, giving birth to a bleak stain. A little after that, her stem became crooked, and the petals began to fall one by one. In the end, the wind blew, not just gentle breezes, full-blown, bone chilling winds, carrying the dying rose away from the kingdom into her destined fate, into the void.”

“Wow, thanks for spoiling the story for me… It sucks, I get it. But maybe that’s the hidden message - no matter how beautiful or long life is, death will always come knocking,” I speculated.

“Maybe, but then you would have neglected the story’s title. How can you fix something that is already broken? You see, the author wanted you, the reader, to write down their own ending to the story. After all, it’s our decisions that defines our actions.”

“Really? How can you be so sure?”

“Look at the author's name,” he pointed to the back of the book.

“No way, you wrote this story!”

“Decisions Logan, life is but a big pile of fucked up decisions, so choose wisely.”

***

Seven years had passed since the day I met The Baron. I had completed fourteen contracts, all successfully executed. Gaining a lot of experience and building up my name, I was finally eligible to take contracts outside the country, but most importantly, more Illuminati based contracts.

Now that I had a good amount of credits in my account, I could say that things were finally looking good for me. Still, I was far from joining the leadership in the chain of command. It had almost seemed like I barely made the first step in the one-thousand-mile journey.

It was midnight, and I was on my way home. The streets were almost empty. When suddenly, some yelling down in the alley followed by the sound of a slap broke the silence.

“Hey, you bitch! I paid your pimp a handful of money for a whole damn hour with you! So start doing your fucking job!” He pushed her over the wall.

It was a middle aged man yelling at what appeared to be a teenage blonde girl. She seemed pretty much inexperienced, it must have been her first time. I could feel the fear being emitted from every pore of her body. Yet, I tried to keep walking like I never saw or heard anything.

Don’t interfere with other people’s shit. Just keep walking, Logan.

“Should I unzip my pants too for you?! Come on, you lazy whore!! You should at least know to do that much! You know what?! Maybe I should tell George to poke these beautiful blue eyes out for being so damn noncompliant!” He punched her on the shoulder.

“Hey bud, take this money. I guess this should be more of what you paid that pimp for this girl,” I intervened, standing in front of them.

What am I doing?

“What now?! Look 'Bud'! This girl is mine, so get your ugly mug out of my face, or else!”

He brought up a switchblade and started swinging left and right.

“Oh my god, please don’t!” She said with a frightened voice, her legs shaking like a leaf.

“So now you talk?!” He replied.

He slapped her again so hard she dropped on the floor.

"Now I know! Maybe I should carve a smile on your damn awful face!" He said with a sickening tone, pulling her up from the hair.

He wasn’t bluffing, he held her face with his hand, trying to force his knife into her cheek. Quickly, I grabbed his right hand and disarmed him from his knife. He tried to punch me with his left, I blocked his punch and gave him a knee to the guts. He went down on his knees. With my right foot on top of his head, I tossed the knife to her side.

"Take that knife," I said to the girl. She wouldn't budge, as she was still shocked.

"I said pick it up!" She grabbed it immediately.

"Now, like he said, unzip his pants and don't say ‘but’, just do it!" I told her, my voice escalating.

I flipped him over and gave him a jab right in the face and completely subdued him by pinning his hands with my feet, my hands ready to punch at any sign of resistance. She did what I asked.

"Now with that knife of yours, cut it off!"

 "No! You son of a..." he yelled, spilling blood out of his mouth.

I punched him again and broke one of his teeth. The girl was trembling from fear, I could hear the blade noise from her shaky hands.

"Look here, girl, you may have gotten away, but others will fall into this piece of shit’s dirty hands, so at least make sure he never gets the chance to do so again. Now, do it!"

She shrieked while vigorously using her knife with both hands, plunging it right between his legs.

"Argh!!" The guy yelled in pain. I punched him again to silence him up. He lost consciousness.

"Good job, now run away as fast as you can!"

My job was done. I had involved myself far enough. I walked away without looking back, disappearing the shadows.

***

Halfway to home, I couldn’t stop thinking about that girl.

What would she do now? Where would she go? Does she has someone? Will she be okay?

I felt a faint presence behind of me as if I was being followed. Once I arrived at the intersection, I hid behind the wall. I waited till I saw the shadow on the ground. In that moment, I grabbed that person and pushed them over the wall. It was her.

“It’s you? I helped you, right? That was a one-time business, so why are you still following me?” I asked, squeezing on her bony shoulders.

Sweating and covered with blood, she was still in shock.

“P... please! Tak…. take me with you! He is going to kill me!” She meant her pimp.

I interfered while she was on the job and hurt the customer, naturally, she will be punished. I knew guys like this were merciless, I doubted she would get out of it in one piece. It was my fault for getting my nose into this mess.

I still don’t know why I charged mindlessly to the rescue, acting like a hero. I was an idiot. Maybe it was because that man mentioned poking her eyes. It might have reminded me of Elizabeth’s father and what he did to her, I couldn't allow that to happen, again. Still, I shouldn't have interfered. That was a bad decision.

I hope I won’t regret this.

It was freezing outside, she barely had cloth on, and so, unfortunately, I brought her home with me.

***

I made her a cup of tea and a sandwich. Looking at her, she was thin as a candlestick, her bones were showing. Judging by the bruises all over her body, someone’s must have forced her into this job.

 “Hey, kid, how old are you?”

“Old enough,” she replied, refusing to look me in the eyes.

“Hey, I saved your life. You could at least show some respect!”

“Sorry, it’s just a habit, George told us to always say that to strangers. Actually, I am sixteen,” she said starring at the cup in her hands.

“I assume you don’t have a family?”

“No, I had a family once, but that was before they sold me to George. I disavowed them long ago.”

I assume that George is the pimp.

I could tell she was still feeling unbalanced.

“How are you holding up? I mean after what you did to that man… ” I was worried about her mental health.

“Actually… I am glad. That bastard deserves even worse!” she ended her sentence yelling. Squeezing on the grip.

She was crying. These were the words of a desperate person. I stood right beside her, held her face up with my hand.

"Look, life isn't like what you read in books, or what you hear in fairy tales. Life is a place where you have to fight with nails and teeth to survive. What we did today is just a demonstration. But don't you ever lose sight of what you seek. That is where your life ends."

"But I don't know what I want! All that I learned from this life is betrayal and pain!"

"Look closer, deep down in your heart you will find your purpose," I pointed to the left side of her chest.

She smelled like booze, covered with blood and dirt.

"Hey kid, you can use my bathroom and crash tonight here, but only this once!"

"Don't call me kid! I have a name you know, I’m Emilitsa. You can call me Emily."

"Logan, that’s my name. Emilitsa - isn't that Greek?"

"Yes, my father is from Greece, but my mother is Russian, I was raised and born in Moscow. When I was eight, my father left, leaving behind three young girls and a sick wife, she had diabetes, her condition was critical. I was the youngest, I had to work beside my sisters at a clothing shop to afford the insulin for my mother and to pay the bill, of course. Eight years later, Mom passed away. Father suddenly came back as if he didn’t leave in the first place. Each one of my sisters left. It was only me and my father. One day, he took me with him camping in the mountains. I thought that he may have finally felt regret to what he did to us, maybe he wanted to make up for lost time."

“Let me guess, he wasn’t.”

“Suddenly, we were surrounded by armed men. My father stood right beside them. Immediately, I felt like I was left out, alone amidst these men. My father sold me up to pay out his debt. He got mixed up with a mafia lord and sank deep into it. In the end, I was nothing but a stock, he never cared for anyone but himself. The second day, I was transferred to Steely Hollow. Like smuggled goods, I didn’t have any identity papers. They sent me right to George, he tossed me with the other girls so they would teach me how things work around. We would stand in front of the customers, waiting to be picked up. Guess who got his eyes on me?”

“No need, I think I know the rest of the story. Come on, hop on that shower, we will talk later.”

After I heard her story, I could see the hellish time she went through. Deep down, I was somewhat relieved I intervened when I did. However, I would come to regret that decision later on.

***

It was around 11 p.m. She was out of the shower, wrapped up in a towel.

"Alright, now let's get you some clean clothes," I stood up, going to the door.

Maybe I should go see Elizabeth, she must have something for her.

Out of nowhere, I felt her hand grabbing my shirt from behind with the tip of her fingers.

"Can I trust you?"

I was shocked I didn’t know what to say. Just when I was going to turn around, the door opened.

Please, don’t tell me that it's her.

"Hey, Logan! God! These neighbors were so noisy tonight!" 

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