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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23. Calm Before the Storm

 


 

     

I remember one day back at the orphanage, it was my turn to clean up the toilets. I hated doing housework, so Elizabeth came to help me pass the time.

“You better not be slacking off, otherwise Ms. Marie will be mad at you,” she said as she sat down on the steel retractable chair.

“Well, it won’t be the first time for sure,” I replied while cleaning off the mirrors.

“Yesterday, I had a bizarre dream.”

“Doubt I will be having good dreams after finishing cleaning up,” I said jokingly, yet annoyed.

“You see, I dreamt that I was staying with a group of people in a deserted land-”

“Wait, so you could actually see in your dream?” I asked out of curiosity.

“Yes! But that wasn’t the thing, what’s so interesting is the fact that the human race was on the brink of extinction. A huge war went on and a lot of people died, only a few were left. I remember moving around a lot, from one warzone to another. Corpses everywhere, with so little supplies to use, even water was hard to find, it was not a pleasant world to live in, and even the sky was stained red. At the end, we were finally cornered. We had no place to run or hide. We were being bombarded from every direction. But then, all of a sudden, a mysterious light appeared. It was in the shape of a white hawk. He was so huge, he covered the whole sky. With an unbelievable speed, he vigorously slammed down the ground turning it from a dry wasteland, to a green colorful forest. Birds, deers, I could hear them all singing. Even sheep were walking beside wolves without fear. Peace reigned over the whole land. I never wanted to leave that place, well, until you came and woke me up that is.”

“Hah, sorry about that. Sheep and wolves walking side by side, you told me the same thing the first time we met,” I took the mop and began wiping the floor.

“Yes, don’t know why but, that scene is always present in my happy dreams.”

Looking at her face, so happy while telling me about her fantasy world, that innocent smile, her feelings were as pure as holy water. I sank in deep thoughts until I finally arrived at the conclusion that would shape the entire world as we know into my own design.

“Elizabeth, I decided, that world you mentioned, it will become reality. I shall be the hawk that will bring the dawn of a new world. With you by my side, I will make it happen, I promise.”

Hearing those words coming out from that crazy child, you must’ve laughed while rolling your head left and right. Should I blame you though? I would had done the same. But, back then, those words I said didn’t actually mattered. All it takes to change the world is the will of a deranged man.

***

The truth hurts. No matter how much you try to bend over the words, it will always strike down the heart like a blazing arrow, burning down all the old fake images. Yet, we need the truth to maintain the bridge, to ensure that connection never gets lost. Especially those binding us with our loved ones.

I slowly opened my eyes. My body was numb like an old man that was plowing the soil all day long. Grey curtains, peeled ceiling, sound of the printing house downstairs, it was without a doubt Elizabeth apartment. I was laying down on her bed.

How did I get here? Don't tell me that Eli carried me all by herself?!

I forced myself up, however, I could feel my back screaming from pain. I went to the other room, Raven was still on the couch, sleeping. The innocence showed on her face, the soft breathing making the world seem to stand still. Looking at her so frail and delicate, I couldn’t help myself but try to touch her dark hair, feeling it passing between my fingers. Remembering the story she told while we were in the car, I felt sorry for her having to go through such hardships. So I whispered calmly in her ear,

“Don’t worry, you’re alright now.”

I smelled bread and hot boiled eggs.

Eli must be preparing breakfast.

"Hey Eli, what're you cooking?" I asked casually. She didn't reply and continued laying down the empty plates on the table. 

  She must be angry. Can I blame her though?

"Remember when I first told you that I will change the world that I will create the perfect society, a place where you and I can finally live in peace together?"

"Yeah I remember, you always said that when we were kids. Back then, I would dream of such place. A place where even a sheep can walk peacefully right beside a wolf. Just the thought of it made me happy," she replied.

"Well, this isn't going to be a dream anymore, soon, it will become reality. I will make sure of it," I couldn’t keep on standing, so I leaned onto the wall.

"Wait? Are you still serious about that? I always thought you were just telling me this to feel better, to give me hope."

"I was dead serious. Everything now is moving according to plan. In no time, that person in front of you will be the one controlling the world behind the scenes. With the fire of my demon I will purify this world of all malevolence."

She was pouring down coffee in the mug, when she stopped and turned left to my side, "I just don’t understand, what this has to do with you coming last night covered in wounds?"

A cold grip took hold of my forearm, "It's all my fault. I dragged Logan into my shit. And thanks to the gentleman he is, he rushed to help me - protecting me with all what he had. Even getting hurt in the process. By the way thank you Elizabeth, for taking care of me last night. Logan told me a great deal about you," said Raven, barging into our conversation.

"Hey, you should rest! Your wound is still fresh," I said after noticing her.

"It's nothing I can't handle. Besides, I know that your condition is far worse than mine. Look at you barely standing, you're even using the wall to maintain your balance," Raven replied.

"Oh my god! Is you condition that bad?! Quick, sit down, don't overburden yourself!" Elizabeth retracting the chair so I could sit down.

"Here, let me see," Raven raised up my shirt, trying to inspect my back.

"What's the big deal?!" I was annoyed.

"You moron! There is a freaking maze on your fucking back. If not for that thick crocodile like skin of yours, you would be screaming from pain right now, not to mention you're burning up," said Raven with a low voice so Elizabeth couldn’t hear.

"When did you became my mother?! Just don't tell Elizabeth about this okay? I don't want her to worry anymore."

"So this Elizabeth- she is the one right? Like a diamond, you said, huh, more like glass if I had to say," she chuckled. 

"First, that’s none of your business. Second, why did you butt in with that damsel in distress story just now? I promised her that I won't lie anymore. I was going to tell her the truth," I said, fixing my shirt.

"Truth?! Hmmm, let me think. Oh, maybe tell her the fact that you lied all to her all these years? Or that you were working for the most powerful organization in history trying to take control over the world? Or -I know! Just go and tell her that you are an assassin for hire that has taken countless lives just by reading their names on a piece of paper! I am curious, what truth will you choose?"

"The whole truth. All these killings, all of this planning and deception. All of this I did for her-"

"Oh you mean that nonsense you were just spouting? Come on! You’re just an expendable assassin, get over your head! There is no way you could join the leadership, don't be that delusional! Change the world my ass, are you a fucking child or something!?" She stuck her nose into mine, she was about my height.

Suddenly, something in me snapped. With my right hand on her throat, I pinned Raven to the wall.

“Don’t you ever insult my dream again, or I swear, that will be the last thing that will ever come out of your mouth!” I squeezed down her neck.

"Breakfast is ready! Come, before the milk gets cold!" Elizabeth called to us.

I took a deep breath then let her go.

We sat down around the table.

"So Elizabeth, you and Logan aren't blood-related, right?" Raven asked, a sinister look stroke me down with her sparkling eyes.

"Well no, we just met at the orphanage almost twenty years ago," Eli replied, peeling down the hard-boiled egg.

"You seem quite close though, are you together? Not to mean to butt in or anything," Raven asked, her stare like a piercing arrow, striking down my body.

She has that devilish look in her eyes, I must be careful.

"Eli and I are special. We are beyond brother and sister, yet, even beyond lovers," I replied, trying to counter.

I had to cut to snake head before it reaches my neck.

"That's quite impressive actually, but I think I asked her, not you!"

"Just like Logan said, even I don't know what it is, but we share something special. You can say that we are bound by fate itself," Elizabeth replied, calmly sipping coffee.

I can sense Raven’s inner demon raging from the inside.

"Once I finish this meal, I am going to leave, I can't stay here any longer," Raven said.

"Okay then, I will take you to the bus station, it's not far from here," I replied.

As soon as we finished breakfast. I began collecting the plates from the table, when suddenly Elizabeth grabbed me from my arm and took me to the side.

“Logan, tell me, what have you gotten yourself into?!”

She’s been through enough already. I won’t burden her any longer.

“Eli, life wasn’t kind to either one of us. You’ve had a dreadful past, you took your fair share of pain long ago, just-”

Looking at her breathing heavily, her chest going up and down so fast, I knew she was about to snap.

“How can you know Logan?! Tell me just how?! Do you know what it feels like to bury your conscious in a dark corner so that your mind won’t go insane? That’s how I survived that night when I was a child, and every other night before I went to sleep, when the sounds of screams and blood splattering began to emerge inside my mind. I may act like I have forgotten about the past but, what are we without it? Deep inside, I am still that scared, selfish child who is afraid of her father, unlike you, strong and kind, you fought your way up despite all the odds. Still, even someone like you needs to share his pain. Logan, you can’t bear it all alone. Share with me some of that burden,” she said, squeezing on my arms with her tiny hands.

This is the first time Elizabeth ever showed me that weak side of hers. I shouldn’t have reminded her of the past, I never thought that it had stained her life with so much agony. I am such a fool, how careless can I get?!

“It’s...It’s complicated. Eli, whatever image you have of me inside your head, well I am not that man,” I said, my head down facing the floor.

“That’s not true! I don’t know what happened to you or who planted this thought inside your head, but deep down you’re a good person!” She held my face with both hands, lifting it up from despair.

“What makes say that? Tell me!”

“Remember back at the orphanage when we first met? I was hugging the wall walking into a trap set by the kids. Everybody stood there, watching for that helpless girl to drop off. As if my pain was some kind of entertainment to them, but not you, you refused to stay idle. You are a rebel sure, but you have a pure heart. The reason you can’t get along with others is because deep down you are afraid that someone will hurt you, that’s not me Logan, I will never judge you for what you’ve done. I know who you are, I can see through that shade. So don’t you ever tell me I don’t know who you! I won’t allow it!”

Why do you have to be so kind, I don’t deserve such compassion! Not from anyone, especially not from you!

It was spontaneous, but for me, I felt as if the whole world was in my embrace. I hugged her with all my might. In my eye a tear was trying to escape, but I forced it inside. Without saying a word, we both clung to each other, choosing silence as an answer.

Despite all what I had done, deep down, Elizabeth knew that I was lost in the dark. I always thought that once Eli finds out about my demon she would definitely leave me forever. However, Elizabeth never gave up on me. Instead, she continued on gracing me with her light.

My guardian angel, we shall sit on top of the world while watching your dream come true. I promise.

Thinking back about my actions so far. Elizabeth was right. I may not be the most sentimental person on earth but, what I did with Arthur, Emily and even Raven were all decisions I made based on my emotions - emotions I never thought they existed inside of me.

***

Raven and I took the cab to the bus station. We were waiting for the bus arrival, five minutes remained.

"I guess here is where our business concludes," I said, standing beside her, my hands deep in my pockets trying to escape the cold.

“Well, don’t you wish to try again?” She asked sarcastically, arms crossed and hands under the warmth of her coat.

“Well, if I didn’t had to carry half the road while dodging bullets then I would have considered it.”

"And here I thought you enjoyed our little adventure. Well, it’s all behind us now. There is just one last thing, give me the file, I will deliver it to The Owl myself since I am on my way to him right now. He insisted that I report back to him once we have finished the job."

"Really? If I knew, I would have brought it with me. Don't worry, I will make sure to deliver it to him tonight or tomorrow at most."

Her eyes snarled, she wasn’t happy hearing those words.

She seems anxious about something. Although, even if I had the file right now I wouldn't have given it to her. I don’t really trust her.

“I guess it can’t be helped then. Logan, take care of yourself,” the bus emerged from the turn.

“You too.”

She turned at me, “Ouch, just like that? Aren’t you supposed to ask me when would we see each other again? So I could switch to my bitch altitude and tease you before leaving?”

“When would I see you again?”

“Fuck off!” She replied smiling, painting a ray of sunshine all over her face before going up on that bus, leaving a hollow circle inside my heart.

But I really meant it this time.

Somehow, and despite everything that happened, Raven managed to leave an unforgettable touch inside of me, I just couldn’t get my fingers on it yet. On the bright side, I could finally put the past events behind me, hoping I wouldn’t have to face a nightmare like that again.

I can feel a disturbing aura in the air. Something doesn’t seem right.

***

The next day, I went to see The Baron. Every assassin is obliged to monthly report back monthly to the assigned Baron. I was somewhat past my schedule. The moment I laid foot inside the shop, The Baron stood up as if he saw a ghost.

“Logan! What the hell have you done? Don’t you know that killing members of the board is prohibited?! One of the officers on top of that?!” The Baron yelled at me, his eyes were about to come out of his face. His fist striking down the desk with full power.

“Wait! What now?! I didn’t…”

Wait a second, a member of the board? Does he mean...? Franco Dorello is an Illuminati officer?!

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