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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6. My Guardian Angel

After one year of searching, I had finally found The Baron, or you could say he had found me. But was it a coincidence?

“How did you... Did The Doctor send you?”

“Let’s just say that he is a mutual friend. I heard that you are The Doctor's disciple. I was intrigued. I never thought he would ever take someone on after the dreadful incident with his wife. Yet, there he goes, taking you under his wing… I came here and watched your match. I’ve got to say boy, you surprised everyone - including me. I can see now why he took such interest in you. You really do take after your father. He was also always full of surprises.”

The only thing that The Doctor had told me about my father was that he started out as a bodyguard for the Brandon family after quitting the army.

“What do you know about my father?” I asked.

“Tick tock, tick tock, time's running out Logan,” he held a watch in his hand.

I had decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t dig up my past, but everyone keeps bringing up my father. Is he dead? Is he alive?

“Alright, I’ll accept your offer, but we’re going to have a long talk afterwards,” I responded.

“Stay close. Just follow my lead,” he grabbed my hand.

And so I went with him past the people who came with the Boomer, and sure enough, nobody laid a finger on me. I was barely dragging my left leg forward, let alone the pain in my back. They just stared at me from afar, though I could see the bloodlust in their eyes. They wanted revenge. I was lucky to have him with me at a time like this. But was it luck?

I got inside The Baron’s car. He owned a black Chevrolet Corvair 500. I threw myself inside the car, barely holding my body together.

“Are you sure you don’t want to be checked at the hospital?” The Baron asked.

“No, I am used to it. I just need some rest that’s all,” I tried to hide the pain with bold words.

I don’t want to be late for home, otherwise Elizabeth would start to worry.

He started the engine and went on the main road.

“Where do you live?” He asked.

“Twenty two Arthur Street. The building above the pub,” my jaw hurt like hell.

“Have you ever held a gun in your life?”

“Why? Does that have to do with the job?”

“Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on you.”

“Can I at least ask you who do you work for?”

“Sorry, that I can’t tell you.”

Fifteen minutes later, he dropped me off at my building. I couldn’t get any meaningful information out of him along the way. He just left leaving more questions than answers.

I went inside the building. And stopped in front of the stairs.

Fuck me!

With the bad leg and the aching body, going up to my apartment in the second floor felt like climbing Mount Everest, minus the cold.

I wonder, is she waiting for me? I really miss her.

I took a deep breath and started my way up. To ease the pain, I tried to recall that night at the orphanage. I was in pain, just like now, and I had no one to count on, except for her, my guardian angel.

***

It was a rainy night. Ms. Marie was sleeping in her room. It was easy to sneak around the orphanage without being noticed. Elizabeth made her way to the kitchen. She grabbed a knife from the drawer, a glass, lemon squeezer from the cabinet, and two lemons from the fridge. She had memorized their positions earlier, so it wasn’t hard for her to pick them up. It was the first time she had ever used a sharp blade. The six year old Eli thought to herself,

“How hard can it be to slice a lemon?”

Elizabeth steadied the lemon on the table with her left hand and held the knife with her right. With one fell swoop she tried to cut down the lemon. Everything was going according to plan. However, the moment the knife touched the surface of the lemon, it slid to the side, carving a shallow groove in Eli’s left hand, and continuing onwards, knocking the glass off the table. She had forgotten to take into account the fact that the table was crooked.

As the glass broke, Eli felt her heart being shattered alongside the shards. The sound was so alarming, it must have had awoken Ms. Marie.

Her thoughts racing, Elizabeth tried desperately to remember a hiding place where she could squeeze herself away. Struggling to lift her shaky feet off the ground, Eli felt a horrid pain on from her left ear, bringing her back to reality. It was Ms. Marie.
“What are you doing in the kitchen at this time of night playing with the glasses?!” Ms. Marie yelled, twisting Eli’s ear even harder.

“I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to break it! I only wanted to make a cup of lemonade! I swear I won’t do it again! Just this once, let me go, please!” Hot tears rolled down her face.

“Is it for him?” Ms. Marie asked.

“Yes.” Suddenly, Ms. Marie let go of Eli’s ear, and laid her hand on Elizabeth’s head. 

“You can’t make lemonade just from lemons you know, you must mix the juice with water and sugar to soften the flavor.”

After patching Eli’s hand, Ms. Marie made a cup of lemonade for Elizabeth, which she carried right to me.

I had a high fever that night and wasn’t sleeping well. I was in so much pain that my senses were dull. I couldn’t make out what was happening around me. I could have sworn I saw an angel sitting right beside me, and then I felt a taste I had never experienced before, running through my mouth, bringing life back to my feeble body. For the first time in three days, I was able to sleep safe and sound. That angel never left my side that night.

***

Out of breath and worn out of strength, I arrive at my apartment. I opened the door and there she was, asleep on the couch - my guardian angel. We had swapped copies of our room keys, so it was easier for us to check up on each other.

 She was waiting for me, just like when we were kids. Still…I was always late.

Looking at her innocent face as slept made me forget my wounds. Her blonde hair strewn over her back, her tiny, smooth hands under her head... That scene brought me peace in my mind and heart. It was like a painting from a storybook, The Sleeping Beauty.

With warmth in my heart, I delicately carried her to my bed. I could feel her fragile body between my arms. I was barely moving, even standing took all my strength. Somehow, having her in my arms gave me power I didn’t know was there. It was freezing outside, yet she was warm. I didn’t want to let her go, but I was worried that I would wake her up. Like a mother caring for her newborn, I laid her down and covered her with a blanket.

I smiled a sincere, pure smile, like it came from the inside. I didn’t know that I had it in me. I was surprised, and yet disgusted by my own vulnerability. If I had learned anything from that fight, it was that I had to get rid of my weaknesses if I wanted to succeed.

 I killed a man today.

They say that you only feel anguish at the first kill - after that, it gets easier. That's a lie. In the beginning it's like an addiction - the adrenaline shoots through your veins and you can't stop. But the more skeletons you pile up, the more your soul turns numb. There's a void that grows inside your heart, shattered like broken glass, your memories dispersed inside your mind. With nowhere to run or hide, you find yourself cornered by ghosts of the past. Stripping you of what’s left of your humanity, you begin to lose yourself in a maze of pain and agony. Finally, you begin to feel yourself suffocating. Relieved of this misery, and just before that final spark leaves your eyes, you suddenly find yourself being strangled by your own hands.

I spent the night sleeping on the couch, the thought of power and death never far from my dreams.

***

My injuries didn't allow me to have much sleep. Elizabeth was still sleeping when I couldn’t lay in bed any longer. I showered and changed my clothes then began preparing breakfast. I was making an omelet, Eli's favorite.

 "Mmmmm, is that egg I smell?" Her voice was hoarse shaking off the slumber.

 The smell must have woken her up.

I hadn’t dared to look at my body as I showered, I could feel it covered in bruises. Eli would have panicked if she could have seen my face. The left side of my head was swollen. Blue and purple stains under my left eye. My lips were choppy and doubled in size.

"So the sleeping beauty finally woke up?"

"I was waiting for you last night, but I must have fallen asleep. By the way, where were you?" She came into the kitchen and sat down, turning her head reproachfully. Her brows were furrowed into a worried little arch.

"Well, there was something I needed to take care of, but I ended up finding a new job."

"That's great! What kind of job?"

"Hmmm, a security guard for… for a jewelry shop," I lied. I couldn’t tell her that I would be killing people for a living.

"Does that mean you will be carrying a gun?!"

"I won't bring it home, don't worry."

"Please don't get yourself into trouble," her finger tapping on the table repeatedly.

I hate lying to her, but I will tell her the truth someday.

***

Two weeks went by. During that time, I was job hunting, since my wallet was running dry and I couldn't box because of my injuries from the last fight. Until I finally found a job at a restaurant an hour long by bus from home.

"Hey! Bring me the bill," said the man who didn't even bother looking at me, clapping his hand like I was some kind of dog.

“Yes sir, here it is,” I placed the bill on the table in front of him.

He looked at me with the tip of his eyes, like a king looking down on his servant.

“So are you going to keep standing there? Scram!” He yelled to my face as he held the bill holder.

I waited in the corner till he left the table. I went to check the bill.

 No tip. Why I am not surprised?

Waiting tables is awful. Between cleaning the cinema hall during the day and serving people at night, I struggled.

A sealed letter slipped from the bill holder from that mean customer. I looked up. He was long gone, so I opened the envelope.

"'The Old Samurai’ Hazaki Kojiro, leader and family head of the Kojiro Mafia gang. Famous due to its affiliation in human trafficking. During the war, it smuggled people from Japan into the country, granting the gang fame and minor influence..."

 Could this be?

Target: Hazaki Kojiro.

 Gender: Male.

 Age: Sixty three years old.

 Place of Birth: Osaka, Japan.

 Method: Unspecified.

 Expiration date: Two days.

 Additional Information: Heavy security, armed personnel.

 Difficulty: D.

 Reward: Two grand."

 This is it! My first job. My first contract.

It seemed the time had finally come. So little time to plan, and even less time to act, sadly. My first contract was going to be more difficult than anything I had done so far. It seemed like an impossible task for a person with zero experience.

 I am the absolute!

 I won’t, I can’t, back down.

 

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