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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18. Boynya

In the last couple of years, the war between the Chinese and Italian mafia had reached its conclusion, with the latter being exterminated. The Italian empire had finally fallen. Divided and weakened, several ambitious gangs climbed the ladder, taking over the Italian dealers and businesses, like a big cake ready to be partitioned.

A new era began, with the Chinese creating their own territory almost like an independent country, they called it China Town. The Japanese now took control of the narcotics business, under the banner of the Yakuza.

As a result of many acts of discrimination, the Black mafia was born, along with isolated communities dedicated for African Americans. They ruled the streets and dealt mostly with smuggling drugs and people from Mexico.

Finally, we have the Russian mafia. They gained power recently, especially after the Cold War had reached its peak. Arms dealing, prostitution, and gambling-they were the kings of the underworld.

 With so many heads on just one body, a war was drawing near, and I didn’t want to be caught in the middle of it, yet, trouble always seems to find me.

I was scouting the perimeter of the casino. There were two exits-one by the front door, and the other from the kitchen side. I rigged the outer kitchen wall with explosives while the workers were busy throwing out the trash. I set the explosive at thirty minutes.

This will create a nice diversion.

The front door was guarded by two men. I had to dispose of them silently. I acted like I was going inside as a customer, I had my knife ready under my sleeve.

"Hey - stand still and put your hands up," one of the guards demanded, stepping forward.

He wanted to search me, I quickly stabbed him with my knife as soon as he was in range. The other guy was under shock, which rendered his reaction slow. I managed to slice his throat before he drew his gun. Nobody saw me, I carried the bodies and placed them behind the trees on the right side. I checked my clothes for blood stains, then entered the casino.

Just like I speculated. Guards were at every corner, overseeing all the angles. I sat down and waited for my target to appear as he was not in his office, there was no guards standing there. I kept on waiting and waiting until I looked at my watch and noticed.

One-minute remaining. Shit, time flew faster than I thought, maybe it’s because I am so nervous. I have to keep it together.

I had to find Vlad fast. I wiped the sweat off my forehead and kept on looking left and right.

Thirty seconds remaining.

 The guards began to look at me. I probably looked pretty suspicious, I was looking around too much, and not playing cards or spending time with strippers.

Ten seconds remaining.

Two guards were on their way to me.

This is not good; I have to move. Five seconds remaining.

A foreign man with an expensive suit entered the room alongside two bodyguards. His blue eyes told the story of a merciless man, and the numerous lives he destroyed. In his walk a motionless step deprived of sound. He was tall, yet, his presence was not staggering instead it was small and empty.

It’s him, the bastard behind Emily’s suffering!

Quickly, I flipped the table in front of me and took cover behind it, closing my eyes, with my hands covering my ears. The bomb went off, causing a strong shockwave, knocking everyone to the floor. Hot ash flew around me from the sides, giving chills down my spine. I could only hear the beeping sounds inside my ears, putting my mind in disarray. Burning wood, which was all I could smell, went all the way up through my nostrils right up to my brain, bringing my mind back to reality with its sting. I opened my eyes. Slowly, I began to feel what was going on around of me.

Screams were everywhere.

‘In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.’ The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

Everyone was rushing towards the exit door. The kitchen was swallowed by fire. I could hear the screams of the workers burning inside. It was the most twisted sound I had ever heard. The screams of pain and despair, with only death as its remedy.

It was absolute chaos, the perfect opportunity for me to strike. I had to act fast, as time was not on my side. Blood was shooting through my veins, the adrenaline was at it maximum limits. I took out my AK-47 out from under my coat, got out of cover and started spraying at the guards in front of the Vladimir’s office.

Just like I predicted, the guards on the second floor also began shooting at me, pinning me down behind the table. I threw a grenade at them, and as soon as they noticed the grenade bouncing beside them on the floor, they ran away like mad dogs before getting caught inside the explosion. I dropped the assault rifle, and took the chance to rush at the door.

I knew that there should be a total of three men inside, including George, ready to shoot the moment I enter. I stepped aside, opened the left side of the door, and tossed my last grenade inside and quickly closed it back. The door blew away in front of my eyes, only to crash into the wall. I had dual Colt pistols held high in my hands, I took a deep breath, and breached the room.

The office was in shambles. Glass and wood planks scattered all over the place, the desk was flipped backwards, and a small hole in the ground was left by the grenade. One of the guards was still breathing, I finished him up with a bullet to the head, as for the other one, well, let's just say he wasn't feeling complete.

George was on the floor at the left corner. It seemed the desk shielded him. I was walking towards him, I had to make sure he was dead. Suddenly I felt a severe pain in my chest. Then I heard two successive shots. That sly bastard was actually alive, and had a pistol hidden under his chest, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. I could barely stand on my feet from the pain or even breathe properly.

Only two of the bullets actually hit me, the third one went through the wall. Luckily, I was wearing Kevlar armor, but that shot broke one of my ribs.

 

“Argh! Now you’ve done it!” I was staggering left and right to keep balance on my feet, trying to get as close as I could to him.

“You’ve ruined everything, you son of a bitch!” He stood up, and aimed his gun to my face, he wanted to finish me off. I threw myself at him, knocking his gun off his hand. He fended me off with a head-butt.

I was weak from the pain, the fire’s smoke made it even harder to breathe, and I was feeling dizzy. He went to grab his gun from the ground, and aimed at me. My gun was also beside me, but I was already in his sight. I rolled onto the floor dodging the bullet and grabbed my colt pistol. With extreme focus, I steadied my aim and hardened my grip while crouching. I shot him right in the face, it was a clean shot to the right eye. I stood up to check his pulse. At last, that bastard was finally out of commission.

"That's for picking up on Emily and breaking into my home!” I spat on his bloody face.

The fire that started from the kitchen was spreading throughout the casino. I could hear the firefighter’s siren as I tried to go through the door. What remained of George’s men were still gunning at my ass from the second floor. Quickly, I returned inside to take cover. And just like that, I was trapped inside, with bullets raining at my location and fire on its way to turn my body to crisp. Not to mention the police were about to arrive.

Splendid! Now what?

I was running out of time. I thought about gunning my way out, but that was next to impossible considering my frail condition. With bullets tearing down the wall in front of my eyes, my mind was processing like a bee hive. I took a deep breath, and sat down on the floor behind the desk, letting all the stress out of my foggy brain. Then I look up right beneath the ceiling.

 There!

I spotted a ventilator shaft above in the corner, but it was too high for me to climb. I collected the wood rubble of the chairs and desk and stacked them so I could climb up. The shaft was narrow, so I let one arm through first, then my head followed by my torso. The second arm was tricky, but I forced it under my chest and squeezed it in my body. The pain in my chest wasn’t helping, though.

As I crawled my way out, I didn’t know if this was the pain or the fire fumes in my head, but despite all that happened, for a second I felt… joy. It was like this was where I belonged - amidst the pile of corpses and the smell of gunpowder, with strips of blood decorating the walls. For me, the battleground was my stage, with such perfect tableau, and a wonderful performance, all the other actors shall fall, only witnesses till the end.

***

I fled the area, successfully unnoticed. First I was on foot, then when I was about a mile away from the casino, I took a cab to Frisco Hotel, which was two miles away from my apartment. The reason I didn’t went directly to my apartment is that in case the cab driver was interrogated he wouldn’t be able to lead the cops to my home.

It was almost dawn, I walked the remainder of the road. Forcing my feet on the ground, each step taking its toll on me.

I guess it is time to take Emily somewhere safe.

I arrived at Ms. Anderson’s apartment.

“Logan! Are you alright? Your face and clothes are all black! And what is that wound under you eye?” Emily hammered me with questions, rushing to my side, checking up my chest wound.

"I just tripped on the stairs while holding the rubble the thief left behind inside my apartment, he messed up the drawers and cabinets so hard, they’re useless now. By the way, where is Ms. Anderson?" I patted on her head.

“She’s asleep… Is it over?" She asked with heavy breathing.

"Yes, you can relax now."

Looking at Elizabeth, she didn't open her mouth. She was just sitting right in the corner, speechless, like a statuette.

"Elizabeth, are you alright?" I walked slowly to her side.

She moved her head towards me like she was looking straight into my eyes.

"Logan, you promised me that you won't ever use your gun. I am not an idiot, I heard the gunshots when I was on the roof," she replied, hugging the pillow tightly to her chest.

For a second there I was worried that she found out about my real job. It's a relief that was what was bothering her.

"Eli, I swear, I didn't use my gun. The burglar was the one who shot at me, but luckily he missed. I even gave my gun to Emily. You can ask her if you want," I responded, my hands on her shoulders.

Tears ran down her cheeks, her face turned red, no, it was pink more like a strawberry. I felt like someone stabbed me with a hot knife, right through my heart. I couldn't resist, I just found myself embracing her, my left hand at her back and my right behind her head.

"Please! Logan! Don't put yourself in danger again like that, I beg you. I don't care if my house burned down with all of our money! I just want to be with you. Always." she said, sobbing heavily.

My eyes turned red, maybe it was due to the smoke, or maybe it was because I couldn't stand the sight of Elizabeth crying like that.

"Sorry Eli, I promise I will be careful from now on. Just...can you please stop crying? One more drop, and I will be the one with tears," a tear was forming in my right eye. And it was clearly out of character.

Emily and Elizabeth started laughing at me. Embarrassed as hell, I just stared at the two. Despite everything that happened today, they chose to move on. I felt peace inside my heart. However, I knew I had one last loose end to tie up before I could finally have a rest.

***

I took Emily and went off on a Ducati Scrambler motorcycle that I bought not too long ago. I knew that going back to Dillion will be a waste of time since George must’ve had ordered him to cancel the passport for Emily. Which left me with only one course of action.

“I don't know what you did, but I know that you went through a lot because of me,” Emily said, sitting behind me on the motorcycle, holding tightly to my back.

“Don't worry, it's just a broken rib, nothing too serious. Besides, I am going to dump you in the nearest river my eyes lay on. Seriously girl, like a stray black cat, you are nothing but bad luck,” I joked.

“Damn you! Do that and I will haunt your dreams for the rest of your life! I know you won’t do it though, you like me don’t you?”

“Well, I don’t hate you, if that is what you’re asking.”

“By the way, where are you taking me?”

“I am taking you somewhere you can call… home.”

The Steely Hollow hill was upon my sight, and just like I that I felt nostalgic.

 Oh! That old hill. It has been such a long time since I came here.

As I was watched Steely Hollow consumed by the darkness of night from above, unlike the first time in the day, it felt like the city of the dead. Mostly resembling a graveyard - homes acting as tombs, and the streets as pathways between the graves illuminated by light columns.

We arrived at the mansion door.

 “Oh, it’s you Logan. Long time no see, come on in,” said Alex, the gatekeeper. He was still as sharp as ever.

I parked outside in the yard, and turned back and said to Emily,

“Emily, inside you will meet a butler. His name is William Adams. I talked with him on the phone, he will explain everything to you.”

Despite having different servants at the mansion, William was The Doctor’s favorite, and for a good reason. He was African-American. Back then racism was getting more and more attention. Despite all this ruckus, William was smarter than any white man I ever knew, not to mention his absolute loyalty to The Doctor. I don’t know the details but it is said that he saved Will’s life back in the day when the Italian mafia was at its peak.

Emily grabbed my hand. Her touch was soft, yet heavy. Hope was shining through her eyes. I felt relieved.

“Hey, I don’t like these farewell moments,” I was reluctant to say goodbye.

“Logan, despite what you say about yourself, and despite the demon that resides within you, for me, you are a true hero,” she was looking straight into my eyes.

“Aren’t you afraid of that demon?”

“I have seen so many demons in my life, by far yours is the cutest one I've ever encountered. Farewell, and I hope we'll meet again.”

Her words were not of a teenage girl. She was… interesting.

“Hey Logan, before I forget, come down a bit, I want to tell you something,” she asked, waving with her right hand down.

I lowered my head, as she was trying to whisper something in my ear.

"You have navy eyes did you know that?"

Without any hesitation, she kissed me on the cheek and went running towards the mansion.

 That sneaky girl!

"Don't be shy! Come and visit, maybe I will do more next time!"

Everybody was looking at me, and somehow I felt kind of embarrassed.

 That little squirrel made me blush, it seems I am losing touch. Hopefully, she will have a better life here.

I was about to leave. I wasn't yet ready to meet The Doctor again, not yet. I knew I had to make a name for myself before I can look him in the eyes. I took a glance at the window, and there he was. Just by looking at him I felt a chill down at my spine. A tall man was standing by his side, he was looking at me too. It was too far, I couldn't make up his face. So I went on my way home, a calming warmth surrounding my heart.

“Well, he grew up into a strong capable man. He resembles you so much, don’t you think?” Said The Doctor.

“No, he takes more after his mother, Hale. Still, I hope he doesn’t turn out like me in the end. The path he chose won’t be easy, I think it won’t be long now, he will finally face his destiny. What do you say, old friend?”

“Do you really think that he chose his path? Or was it already chosen for him?” The Doctor pondered.

"Well, it doesn't matter right now. I think only time will tell."

 

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