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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20. Lilith


 

     

Do you know that moment when you look at someone, suddenly you get that astonishing feeling, that strong bump in your chest alongside a burning sensation in the bottom of your stomach? Then you start looking at the world from a different perspective. Everything seems colorful and bright. You can feel your body light as a feather, yet heated and brimming with energy. Your eyes are fixed onto that one person - lost in their gaze, held captive by that beauty, with nowhere to run or hide, bound by that curse, and that’s when reality strikes, showing no mercy.

I was on my way to Underwood town. Far from Steely Hollow, and out of the mafia territory, Franco Dorello, a powerful business man with a lot of influence was recently elected mayor. He took control over the town, buying almost sixty percent of the lands and spreading his influence throughout the region. Which made him notorious enough to be on the assassination list, my list.

The contract didn't mention any specific method for the assassination, which meant I was free to do it any way I wanted. However, it had two conditions. One, I should retrieve an important file located inside his mansion, specifically in a secret safe right behind a big painting inside his master bedroom. As for the other, I had to work with another assassin under the codename of Lilith.

Never heard of that codename before. I wonder who that might be.

Franco was holding a two day event celebrating the opening of his new fancy hotel, Quality-Inn. This was a great opportunity to infiltrate the mansion. Still, I was nervous about the idea of having a partner. I never worked with anybody before for a good reason, it was the same why I don’t have friends. A friend is just another enemy that doesn’t have the guts to kill you. I’ve lived by that code.

I arrived at the motel in the morning at 9:12 a.m. I was supposed to meet Lilith here at the lounge. I took a look around. I noticed a man staring at me, he looked like he was waiting for someone.

Maybe Lilith is a handsome young man?

I made my approach. His body was well developed. His face was white clean, no scars to prove he was a good fighter. His nails were well clipped, and his hands had no hair whatsoever. He was sitting on the couch, legs crossed.

His face looks dumb but again, you can’t judge people by appearances alone.

“Hey! Are you waiting for someone?” I asked, standing in front of him.

“Hmmm, you can say that. Why do you want to know?” he asked with a feminine tone.

It seems this is my partner. Not what I imagined though.

“So should we get a room and discuss this more thoroughly?”

“Oh my! You really want to get the action right away, don’t you? Shame, where is the suspense in that?” He opened his eyes wide, jaw dropped down.

“Excuse me? Lilith, come on, we don’t have much time for small talk, you know.”

“Excuse yourself! Who’s Lilith, handsome?” He replied, his left hand on his chin.

Fuck, wrong person. Why did he talk with me like that then?!

“Ah nobody. It seems I had too much to drink. Sorry for the disturbance,” I said, quickly walking away.

Damn, I am so dumb.

Just when I was passing by, I saw a woman sitting alone by the window. She was wearing a black ornate shirt with black skirt and her long black hair was dancing in the wind breeze. She was thin, yet her body was like an athlete. She was reading a book with a purple cover, it was far so I couldn’t make up the name. I walked right to her. She looked at me with her big green eyes, and suddenly, I felt immobilized for a second.

“May I help you?” She asked, slowly batting her eyelashes.

“Oh sorry, I was just looking through the window,” I said while walking away.

Seriously what is wrong with me today?

Then I noticed it, a silent giggling coming from behind. I turned back.

Maybe…

“I was wondering, does the book you're reading mentions Lilith of the apocalypse?” I asked, trying to throw a hint.

“Yes, it does mention Lilith, but not that one, the Lilith in this book is much smarter. She deceived everyone and entered heaven acting like an angel without anyone suspecting her.”

The way she talked, you couldn’t help but listen to that melodic voice of hers, her words were like magic, binding the listener with an irreversible spell. My heart was racing fast, and I hated myself for having this feeling. She was my partner without a doubt, the Lilith mentioned in the contract. I had to introduce myself.

“But what happens when she meets someone who recognizes her? Will she be descended to hell?” I asked.

“No, hell can’t hold Lilith, even the devil himself fears her presence. That’s why she will always be alone,” she replied, starring at the book.

“Then what happens when she meets someone beyond human, someone that can face even the devil himself, someone who is also alone, someone let's say Hollow?”

“I don’t know, she has never thought of that, but if that person ever comes by, she won't need hell or heaven to cover her loneliness,” she closed the book.

“I’m Hollow, pleased to meet you, or you can call me Thomas Clay,”

"Lilith, likewise, Evelyn White. By the way, I saw you talking to that guy over there. Sorry, but I died from laughing. I could have talked to you first but that look on your face was priceless!" She replied, broken into laughter.

What a psycho.

“So you knew who I was from the start? Okay then, just don’t mention this again and I will guarantee you we will be best friends,” She laughed at me, again.

We had to act with different identities. I was Thomas Clay, a civil engineer that supervised the hotel design, married to Evelyn White, Lilith, and we both were invited to the event. The real Thomas and Evelyn didn’t receive the invitation, as it was stolen before it even arrived to them. We also needed to change our appearances to match the original owners, so I had to wear a brown wig. Playing as husband and wife, we had to act like a happily married couple. Luckily, I was a good actor, and life was my theatre.

“Okay, we have two days until the event is over. I say we focus on scouting the mansion in the first day,” I proposed.

“I agree, but we must be careful not drawing too much attention, as someone might know the real Thomas and Evelyn.”

“Okay then, it's settled. Tonight we shall begin.”

***

It was 8:30 p.m., I had to wear a tuxedo. I wasn’t a big fan of suits, they gave me that feel of being tied up. Lilith wore a black dress. She really liked that color, as almost all her clothes were black. I liked that about her. I held her hand, her touch felt like thorn, yet, I didn’t mind, I welcomed it. We entered the hotel.

The mansion was so big, similar to a small castle. Every wall had a painting different from the other, the floor was covered with red carpets, the number of antiques was beyond imagination, no matter where your eyes went, and a new piece appears out of nowhere different from the other.

A lot of people were attending the event, and judging by their faces, all I saw were drunk actors sharing fake smiles while boasting about their dirty achievements. I could tell they led empty lives just like their souls. It was so pathetic, you could notice that nobody was standing the sight of the other, but they were forced to act because well, you don’t know when you will need that irritating bastard in front you.

I inspected the mansion. It had three doors, one from the front and two from the back, but the latter was hard to access. It was heavily guarded by armed guards and watchdogs. The master bedroom in which the file was located was on the second floor right at the end of the hallway. I couldn’t go up there alone without being spotted, not to mention the guard at the top of the stairs. Infiltrating the mansion at night was also impossible, considering the security. Luring Franco out alone with all these people around was not an option either. We returned home, holding more questions than answers.

I was changing my clothes. Lilith was looking at the sky from the window.

“What do you think of the people we saw today? Other than their fake masks, what do you think of them as human beings?” She asked, playing with her hair with the tip of her finger.

“I have a theory, well it's more like a speculation. They say that people change while growing up. However, I think that every person has the mentality of a child. We only build on that foundation, while the concept remains the same. If you observe children’s behavior, you will notice a strong kid in the group dominating the rest. Jealousy, envy and desire are all common behaviors between children. Now observe the adults - you will find the same behavior but more sophisticated instead. It's like their toys had gotten bigger along the fancy cars, the games they used to play became realistic, even their emotions towards each other remained the same, only now they knew how to express them,” I explained.

She chuckled and said, “Funny, I used to think the same way. Not with such detail of course, but I knew that no matter what we did, our only purpose in life was to satisfy that little child inside our heart. Like he would ever be satisfied that is.” 

"You said 'used to think.’ Did you have a change of mind?" I asked.

"You see, children are born pure, their souls are clear as water. Even when kids hurt each other, they feel bad, but then you look at grownups, they harm with a cold, emotionless look on their faces. It’s like their very foundation has been poisoned." 

"That's because they learned how to embrace the demon inside."

"We are all born with a demon encaged inside of us, screaming to get out, and it's up to us to resist and endure. That's all we can hope for. You know? It's the first time I have ever shared a conversation like that with anybody. Usually, a normal person would think that I am crazy or a psychopath, yet we even share the same thoughts. How weird is that?" She smiled.

"Luckily for me, I had someone with whom I could share my philosophy of life, you could say he was my mentor. And no, you and I are not crazy, we are just the blessed few that have seen the truth and accepted it. You can say we are like two wolves surrounded by blind sheep." 

“Blind sheep huh, nice metaphor.”

I was sitting at the desk, trying to squeeze my mind into finding a workable plan.

“Hmmm, how about we sleep together on the same bed? I don’t mind,” she said, her voice gave me chills.

I didn’t respond. She got up and laid her hands on my shoulders from the back. It felt as if I was being subdued by branches of thorn.

“You are really sturdy you know that? Come on, don’t be shy. Besides, nobody will know,” she said with a sinister voice.

Her roots were getting deeper. I was about to be swallowed alive.

“A woman’s body is more sacred than letting a man you only met yesterday have his way with it. I wouldn’t forgive myself for that,” I responded while looking at her straight in the eyes, cutting off her advance.

She thought I could be deceived so easily, but I saw right through her as if I was looking through glass. She didn’t want me to sleep with me, she just wanted me provoked. Then, when I got stuck in her webs like a helpless prey, she would reject me. That devilish smile behind her eyes said it all. All that heart to heart talk made her think I was an easy prey, but what she didn't know was that my demon was dancing with hers all along.

After hearing my words, she slowly moved her hands off me and went silently to her bed. I could hear the screams coming from inside of her, like a child who couldn't get her toy. Still, I could feel something drawing me to her, despite the darkness surrounding her heart. Even if it was a glimpse but I saw it, a flicker of light that was begging to be freed, but instead it was being pushed back.

Tomorrow was our last chance, and we had no functional plan, or even a thread to cling on. The more I thought about it, the more the task seemed to be impossible to accomplish. However, what I didn’t know back then was the fact that the next day, I would experience one of the best moments of my life.

Do you know that moment when you look at someone, suddenly you get that astonishing feeling, that strong bump in your chest alongside a burning sensation in the bottom of your stomach? Then you start looking at the world from a different perspective. Everything seems colorful and bright. You can feel your body light as a feather, yet heated and brimming with energy. Your eyes are fixed onto that one person - lost in their gaze, held captive by that beauty, with nowhere to run or hide, bound by that curse, and that’s when reality strikes, showing no mercy.

I was on my way to Underwood town. Far from Steely Hollow, and out of the mafia territory, Franco Dorello, a powerful business man with a lot of influence was recently elected mayor. He took control over the town, buying almost sixty percent of the lands and spreading his influence throughout the region. Which made him notorious enough to be on the assassination list, my list.

The contract didn't mention any specific method for the assassination, which meant I was free to do it any way I wanted. However, it had two conditions. One, I should retrieve an important file located inside his mansion, specifically in a secret safe right behind a big painting inside his master bedroom. As for the other, I had to work with another assassin under the codename of Lilith.

Never heard of that codename before. I wonder who that might be.

Franco was holding a two day event celebrating the opening of his new fancy hotel, Quality-Inn. This was a great opportunity to infiltrate the mansion. Still, I was nervous about the idea of having a partner. I never worked with anybody before for a good reason, it was the same why I don’t have friends. A friend is just another enemy that doesn’t have the guts to kill you. I’ve lived by that code.

I arrived at the motel in the morning at 9:12 a.m. I was supposed to meet Lilith here at the lounge. I took a look around. I noticed a man staring at me, he looked like he was waiting for someone.

Maybe Lilith is a handsome young man?

I made my approach. His body was well developed. His face was white clean, no scars to prove he was a good fighter. His nails were well clipped, and his hands had no hair whatsoever. He was sitting on the couch, legs crossed.

His face looks dumb but again, you can’t judge people by appearances alone.

“Hey! Are you waiting for someone?” I asked, standing in front of him.

“Hmmm, you can say that. Why do you want to know?” he asked with a feminine tone.

It seems this is my partner. Not what I imagined though.

“So should we get a room and discuss this more thoroughly?”

“Oh my! You really want to get the action right away, don’t you? Shame, where is the suspense in that?” He opened his eyes wide, jaw dropped down.

“Excuse me? Lilith, come on, we don’t have much time for small talk, you know.”

“Excuse yourself! Who’s Lilith, handsome?” He replied, his left hand on his chin.

Fuck, wrong person. Why did he talk with me like that then?!

“Ah nobody. It seems I had too much to drink. Sorry for the disturbance,” I said, quickly walking away.

Damn, I am so dumb.

Just when I was passing by, I saw a woman sitting alone by the window. She was wearing a black ornate shirt with black skirt and her long black hair was dancing in the wind breeze. She was thin, yet her body was like an athlete. She was reading a book with a purple cover, it was far so I couldn’t make up the name. I walked right to her. She looked at me with her big green eyes, and suddenly, I felt immobilized for a second.

“May I help you?” She asked, slowly batting her eyelashes.

“Oh sorry, I was just looking through the window,” I said while walking away.

Seriously what is wrong with me today?

Then I noticed it, a silent giggling coming from behind. I turned back.

Maybe…

“I was wondering, does the book you're reading mentions Lilith of the apocalypse?” I asked, trying to throw a hint.

“Yes, it does mention Lilith, but not that one, the Lilith in this book is much smarter. She deceived everyone and entered heaven acting like an angel without anyone suspecting her.”

The way she talked, you couldn’t help but listen to that melodic voice of hers, her words were like magic, binding the listener with an irreversible spell. My heart was racing fast, and I hated myself for having this feeling. She was my partner without a doubt, the Lilith mentioned in the contract. I had to introduce myself.

“But what happens when she meets someone who recognizes her? Will she be descended to hell?” I asked.

“No, hell can’t hold Lilith, even the devil himself fears her presence. That’s why she will always be alone,” she replied, starring at the book.

“Then what happens when she meets someone beyond human, someone that can face even the devil himself, someone who is also alone, someone let's say Hollow?”

“I don’t know, she has never thought of that, but if that person ever comes by, she won't need hell or heaven to cover her loneliness,” she closed the book.

“I’m Hollow, pleased to meet you, or you can call me Thomas Clay,”

"Lilith, likewise, Evelyn White. By the way, I saw you talking to that guy over there. Sorry, but I died from laughing. I could have talked to you first but that look on your face was priceless!" She replied, broken into laughter.

What a psycho.

“So you knew who I was from the start? Okay then, just don’t mention this again and I will guarantee you we will be best friends,” She laughed at me, again.

We had to act with different identities. I was Thomas Clay, a civil engineer that supervised the hotel design, married to Evelyn White, Lilith, and we both were invited to the event. The real Thomas and Evelyn didn’t receive the invitation, as it was stolen before it even arrived to them. We also needed to change our appearances to match the original owners, so I had to wear a brown wig. Playing as husband and wife, we had to act like a happily married couple. Luckily, I was a good actor, and life was my theatre.

“Okay, we have two days until the event is over. I say we focus on scouting the mansion in the first day,” I proposed.

“I agree, but we must be careful not drawing too much attention, as someone might know the real Thomas and Evelyn.”

“Okay then, it's settled. Tonight we shall begin.”

***

It was 8:30 p.m., I had to wear a tuxedo. I wasn’t a big fan of suits, they gave me that feel of being tied up. Lilith wore a black dress. She really liked that color, as almost all her clothes were black. I liked that about her. I held her hand, her touch felt like thorn, yet, I didn’t mind, I welcomed it. We entered the hotel.

The mansion was so big, similar to a small castle. Every wall had a painting different from the other, the floor was covered with red carpets, the number of antiques was beyond imagination, no matter where your eyes went, and a new piece appears out of nowhere different from the other.

A lot of people were attending the event, and judging by their faces, all I saw were drunk actors sharing fake smiles while boasting about their dirty achievements. I could tell they led empty lives just like their souls. It was so pathetic, you could notice that nobody was standing the sight of the other, but they were forced to act because well, you don’t know when you will need that irritating bastard in front you.

I inspected the mansion. It had three doors, one from the front and two from the back, but the latter was hard to access. It was heavily guarded by armed guards and watchdogs. The master bedroom in which the file was located was on the second floor right at the end of the hallway. I couldn’t go up there alone without being spotted, not to mention the guard at the top of the stairs. Infiltrating the mansion at night was also impossible, considering the security. Luring Franco out alone with all these people around was not an option either. We returned home, holding more questions than answers.

I was changing my clothes. Lilith was looking at the sky from the window.

“What do you think of the people we saw today? Other than their fake masks, what do you think of them as human beings?” She asked, playing with her hair with the tip of her finger.

“I have a theory, well it's more like a speculation. They say that people change while growing up. However, I think that every person has the mentality of a child. We only build on that foundation, while the concept remains the same. If you observe children’s behavior, you will notice a strong kid in the group dominating the rest. Jealousy, envy and desire are all common behaviors between children. Now observe the adults - you will find the same behavior but more sophisticated instead. It's like their toys had gotten bigger along the fancy cars, the games they used to play became realistic, even their emotions towards each other remained the same, only now they knew how to express them,” I explained.

She chuckled and said, “Funny, I used to think the same way. Not with such detail of course, but I knew that no matter what we did, our only purpose in life was to satisfy that little child inside our heart. Like he would ever be satisfied that is.” 

"You said 'used to think.’ Did you have a change of mind?" I asked.

"You see, children are born pure, their souls are clear as water. Even when kids hurt each other, they feel bad, but then you look at grownups, they harm with a cold, emotionless look on their faces. It’s like their very foundation has been poisoned." 

"That's because they learned how to embrace the demon inside."

"We are all born with a demon encaged inside of us, screaming to get out, and it's up to us to resist and endure. That's all we can hope for. You know? It's the first time I have ever shared a conversation like that with anybody. Usually, a normal person would think that I am crazy or a psychopath, yet we even share the same thoughts. How weird is that?" She smiled.

"Luckily for me, I had someone with whom I could share my philosophy of life, you could say he was my mentor. And no, you and I are not crazy, we are just the blessed few that have seen the truth and accepted it. You can say we are like two wolves surrounded by blind sheep." 

“Blind sheep huh, nice metaphor.”

I was sitting at the desk, trying to squeeze my mind into finding a workable plan.

“Hmmm, how about we sleep together on the same bed? I don’t mind,” her voice gave me chills.

I didn’t respond. She got up and laid her hands on my shoulders from the back. It felt as if I was being subdued by branches of thorn.

“You are really sturdy you know that? Come on, don’t be shy. Besides, nobody will know,” her sinister voice rang like church bells inside my nind. 

Her roots were getting deeper. I was about to be swallowed alive.

“A woman’s body is more sacred than letting a man you only met yesterday have his way with it. I wouldn’t forgive myself for that,” I responded while looking at her straight in the eyes, cutting off her advance.

She thought I could be deceived so easily, but I saw right through her as if I was looking through glass. She didn’t want me to sleep with me, she just wanted me provoked. Then, when I got stuck in her webs like a helpless prey, she would reject me. That devilish smile behind her eyes said it all. All that heart to heart talk made her think I was an easy prey, but what she didn't know was that my demon was dancing with hers all along.

After hearing my words, she slowly moved her hands off me and went silently to her bed. I could hear the screams coming from inside of her, like a child who couldn't get her toy. Still, I could feel something drawing me to her, despite the darkness surrounding her heart. Even if it was a glimpse but I saw it, a flicker of light that was begging to be freed, but instead it was being pushed back.

Tomorrow was our last chance, and we had no functional plan, or even a thread to cling on. The more I thought about it, the more the task seemed to be impossible to accomplish. However, what I didn’t know back then was the fact that the next day, I would experience one of the best moments of my life.

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