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.


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4. Survive


   

     

Homes, schools, workplaces, temples, even streets are all places that help us in defining our personalities and behaviours. For me, that mansion was the chapel that shaped the very foundation of my beliefs, boosting my abilities to a whole new level. You must be still wondering, how would this help me in achieving my dream? Well, let me tell you this then, with this power, I was able to enter the dark side of the White House, the side that is hidden from the public eyes where the real negotiations and decisions are being taken. We will get to that part, in time.

   It’s 1957. It had been ten years since I first laid foot inside that mansion. During this time I had gained an abnormal amount of knowledge. The Doctor was like a walking encyclopedia, and he seemed determined to teach me the same he made me learn all kind of subjects. Now, I am fluent in French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Russian and Arabic. He taught me how to talk eloquently, and how to use body language to my advantage. I also learned the proper etiquette for eating, walking, and dancing.

   Despite his bleak personality, surprisingly, The Doctor knew his way around women, and he made sure to pass on some of his charm to me.

   The way The Doctor organised his business was so fascinating. From the tight security, to the way he handled the police. Not only did he bribe the chief, but he also managed to create a strong relation with the mafia heads throughout the years, all thanks to the services he provided by treating their wounded and offering temporary protection.

   Even when it came down to chess, he had no equal, I never managed to beat him in a chess game, not even at poker. He was the master of deception. I was so inspired by his way of thinking that I strived to catch up to his level. His chain of thoughts was beyond any human I have ever encountered. He was a true genius.  

   William was responsible for my physical training. Just like The Doctor, William was very hard on me, pushing me beyond my limits to further increase my potential. He taught me different styles of hand to hand combat: kickboxing, Boxing, krav Maga, Wing Chun. Of course, I also had to learn how to use a gun, and I was exceptionally good at the practice range. All in all, to go beyond what is human, you must become the perfect human and build on that.

   The Doctor was an interesting man to say the least; he led the life of a vampire. The study room was like his coffin, surrounded by a huge pile of books. He had a huge appetite for learning, despite his age, yet he separated himself from society as if none of it interested him anymore. He never drank too much or went out to clubs or cafés, never wavered or gave away his feelings. He was living completely inside his own world, in total isolation.

   However, when the sun shines its face on the other side of the globe, that’s when the vampire finally rises up. Using his charm and enchanting gaze, he managed to bewitch his enemies and allies alike, although the latter were as few as the hand can hold. The hill on which the mansion rested was like an independent nation, and that monster was its ruler. Respected by the police and mafia alike, all citizens abiding by his rules, The Doctor had succeeded in creating his own world.

   I guessed it was time for me to build mine, a world much bigger than he had envisioned. I didn’t want to live in isolation on a small hill reading books all day. I wanted to walk on the streets, beside worthy people, people who I could trust, people who have real goals, not some empty shells living their pointless daily lives. That’s the kind of world I wanted to create. You are probably laughing at me right now. Can I blame you though? You haven’t witnessed the results, not yet.

   “In order to completely understand the meaning of life and death, you have to learn to survive.” These were The Doctor’s last words for me.

   So I left the mansion with only 32 bucks and 5 cents in my pockets and the clothes I was wearing. The only thing he gave me was a piece of paper with the name ‘Baron’. I went to the city searching for that so called Baron, sadly with no luck.

***

   As I walked in the streets of that god forsaken city, I can see them all. Demons, angels, sheep, wolves, the empty faces of the people walking down beside each other. One woman was walking in front of me, and judging by the deep cuts on her left wrist, she must have tried to kill herself many times. The reason she had failed so miserably was that little boy who she held dearly to her chest with that same hand, the hand of shame. He was about five years old. He was covered in bruises. Even a boy that age can have it rough in this world. If I had to guess, the father must have had a short temper.

   A young man walked right by me, wearing a long coat. Beneath it, he had a pistol concealed. In his footsteps, I could feel fear and anxiety.

   On the other side of the road, a beautiful blonde woman with an elegant dress walked with her head up high. You can easily see the confidence from her posture. However, that lovely exterior was only a façade to cover up the ugly truth buried deep inside: tricking married men into spending their children’s school fees. After they were completely dried up, she would toss them like empty cans into the pit of despair.

   With many more horrible stories, along with the rising number of poor people and rich selfish bastards, this world was slowly becoming a second hell. This only made me more determined. It made me realise the importance of my dream, for my sake and for theirs...

***

    I went back to the orphanage. I didn’t find Ms. Marie, she was replaced by another matron, Ms. Janet. Eight years after I left the orphanage, Ms. Marie had became so fed up with life that she was on the verge of losing her mind. Old and senile, she had been sent to an elderly care center. Despite all the head butting and the ‘luxurious’ treatment she favoured me with, somehow I felt sorry for her... Living what was left of her life alone, exiled...

   I filed Elizabeth’s release papers. Seeing her after such long time, I could tell my little ruby had turned into a fine pure diamond, brittle yet sharp. All by herself, Elizabeth had continued to survive in her own way.

   Shortly after that, she started working at a tailor shop. Eli had always had that artistic side, and despite being blind, would tailor beautiful gloves and scarfs in the winter. The owner was an elderly woman, Ms. Anderson, who, fascinated by Eli’s work and talent, quickly hired her.

   Elizabeth and I rented two small apartments next to each other, close to the store. From that moment, we spent every night talking and laughing, just like old times. I would drop her at the shop every morning and greet Ms. Anderson, who always welcomed me. She loved the company, especially since she had lost her husband during the war. With no kids or close relatives, Ms. Anderson saw Elizabeth as the child she never had.

***

   As for me, I was building my name in street boxing. It was technically illegal, but it paid the bills. Despite being so young, I managed to maintain more wins than losses. I still remember my last match. My opponent was 'The Boomer', and he had earned that nickname for a good reason. He was twice my size, and his hands were so big that when he punched someone you could literally hear a ‘boom’ - not to mention the sound of bone cracking, of course. It was said that he even cracked his opponent’s skull with just three punches.

   I was eighteen back then, six feet tall, weighing no more than one hundred eighty-three pounds. I could tell that everyone was betting on him to win. I didn’t care. Instead, I remained focused. I could feel my body shivering. This time, my life was on the line. As I watched the crowd cheering him on, I began to feel the pressure in the air rising, the humidity increased and the air became hotter. Sweating all over my body while struggling to take each breath, I could feel myself standing alone in the middle of a the battlefield, with nowhere to run or hide, fighting to the last breath was the only way out. The bell rang, signalling the start of the fight and the countdown on my life.

Homes, schools, workplaces, temples, even streets are all places that help us in defining our personalities and behaviors. For me, that mansion was the chapel that shaped the foundation of who I am, boosting my abilities to a whole new level. To achieve my dream, I knew that I need more than raw strength and determination. I had to gain influence and experience. You must be still wondering, will it be enough? Well, let me tell you this, I was able to enter the dark side of the White House, the side that is hidden from the public eyes, where the real negotiations and decisions are being made. We will get to that, in time.

It had been ten years since I first laid foot inside that mansion. The Doctor was like a walking encyclopedia, and he was determined to teach me. Because of him, I am fluent in French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Russian and Arabic. He taught me how to speak eloquently, and how to use body language to my advantage. I also learned the proper etiquette for eating, walking, and dancing.

Despite his bleak personality, surprisingly, The Doctor knew how to charm people and he showed me. I could charm men and women as I liked and it never failed.

The Doctor ran his business by bribing the police chief, and creating a strong relation with the mafia heads throughout the years. All thanks to the services he provided by treating their wounded and offering temporary protection.

Even in chess, he had no equal, I never managed to beat him in a game. He was the master of deception. I was so inspired by his way of thinking that I love to be like him. He was a true genius.

William was responsible for my physical training. Just like The Doctor, William was very hard on me, pushing me beyond my limits to further increase my potential. He taught me different styles of hand to hand combat: kickboxing, boxing, krav Maga, and Wing Chun. Of course, I also had to learn how to use a gun, and I was exceptionally good in the practice range. All in all, to go beyond what is human, you must become the perfect human and then more.

The Doctor led the life of a vampire. His study was like his coffin, surrounded by a huge pile of books. He had a huge appetite for learning, despite his age, yet he separated himself from society as if none of it interested him anymore. He never drank too much or went out to clubs or cafés, never wavered or gave away his feelings. He was living completely inside his own world, in total isolation.

However, when the sun shines its face on the other side of the globe, that’s when the vampire finally rises up. Using his charm and enchanting gaze, he managed to bewitch his enemies and allies alike, although the latter were as few as the hand can hold. The hill on which the mansion rested was like an independent nation, and that monster was its ruler. Respected by the police and mafia alike, all citizens abiding by his rules, The Doctor had created his own world.

I guessed it was time for me to build mine, a world much bigger than he had envisioned. I didn’t want to live in isolation on a small hill reading books all day. I wanted to walk on the streets, beside worthy people, people who I could trust, people who have real goals, not empty shells living pointless daily lives. That’s the kind of world I wanted to create. You’re probably laughing at me right now. Can I blame you though? You haven’t witnessed the results, not yet.

“In order to completely understand the meaning of life and death, you have to learn to survive.” These were The Doctor’s last words for me.

So I left the mansion with only thirty two bucks and five cents in my pockets, and the clothes I was wearing. The only thing he gave me was a piece of paper with the name Baron.

***

As I walked in the streets of Steely Hollow, I could see them all. Demons, angels, sheep, wolves, the empty faces of the people walking down beside each other. One woman was walking in front of me, and judging by the deep cuts on her left wrist, she must have tried to kill herself many times. The reason she had failed so many times was that little boy who she held dearly to her chest with that same hand, the hand of shame. He was about five years old. He was covered in bruises. Even a boy that age can have it rough in this world. If I had to guess, the father must have had a short temper, like Elizabeth’s, like so many.

A young man walked right by me, hands in his pockets, his face wrapped by a blue scarf, and wearing a long coat. Beneath it, he had a pistol concealed. In his footsteps, I could feel fear and anxiety. He owed money to the Italian mafia, money he needed for his wife medication.

On the other side of the road, a beautiful blonde woman with a yellow ball gown dress walked with her head up high. Her posture was confident, but it was only a façade to cover up the ugly truth buried deep inside: her love for tricking married men into spending their children’s school funds. After they were completely dried up, she would toss them like empty cans into the pit of despair.

With many more horrible stories, along with the rising number of poor people and rich selfish bastards, this world was slowly becoming a second Hell. This only made me more determined. But before I prevail on my journey, I had to pay a visit to the past.

***

 I went back to the orphanage. I didn’t find Ms. Marie, she was replaced by another matron, Ms. Janet. She told me that eight years after I left the orphanage, Ms. Marie had become so fed up with life that she was on the verge of losing her mind. Old and senile, she had been sent to an elderly care center. Despite all the head butting and the ‘luxurious’ treatment she favored me with, somehow I felt sorry for her... Living what was left of her life alone, exiled...

When I asked about Elizabeth, Janet was delighted to hear someone from the outside actually cared about Eli. She told that Elizabeth left the orphanage three month ago, seeking her own life, yet, Ms. Janet and Eli remained in contact. She found work at a tailor shop. Elizabeth had always had an artistic side, and despite being blind, would tailor beautiful gloves and scarfs in the winter. The owner was an elderly woman, Ms. Anderson, who, fascinated by Eli’s work and talent, quickly hired her. And even gave her permission to crash inside the store during the night. So I knew where my next destination will be.

I opened the door of the store, triggering the bell attached above. Elizabeth noticed my presence. Seeing her after such long time, I could tell my little ruby had turned into a pure diamond, brittle yet sharp. All by herself, Elizabeth had continued to survive in her own way.

“Hello sir, how can I help you?” She asked politely, her hands clenched together, and her eyes down facing the table.

“I want a name embroidered on the back a shirt,” she didn’t recognize me, so I was trying to play her.

“Great! What is color do you wish the string to be used?”

“Let it be white.”

“White it is. That’s my favorite color actually, nice pick.”

“Thank you, that name means a lot to me. I promised her that I’ll never leave her side. Since I couldn’t fulfil my promise, I thought that wearing her name in the least I could do for her.”

“That’s so romantic of you… oh sorry, I shouldn’t jump to conclusions, maybe she’s your mother, or a sister…” she was thoughtful for the feelings of others just like always.

“She is much more. Never past a day that I don’t recall her figure.”

“I know how you feel. I had someone like that a long ago.”

“Had? What happened?”

“He just left, started a new life and never made contact again,” she was playing with her fingers, her shoulders dancing left and right.

“Do you wish to see him again?”

“I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t want to bother with this blind girl. Maybe I was just a temporary phase in his life. Or maybe he simply just forgot about me.”

She paused for two seconds, her fingers randomly tangled. “I am so sorry, I got carried away. You must be a busy man. Just tell me the name for the needlework.”

I grabbed her entangled hands closer to my chest, feeling off her warmth. “Her name is Elizabeth Rose.”

She turned her face towards me, her mouth wide open, “Logan?!”

After ten years of being apart, somehow, it felt as if nothing has changed between us. Elizabeth and I rented two small apartments next to each other, close to the store. From that moment, we spent every night talking and laughing, just like old times. I would drop her at the shop every morning and greet Ms. Anderson, who always welcomed me. She loved the company, especially since she had lost her husband during the war. With no kids or close relatives, Ms. Anderson saw Elizabeth as the child she never had.

***

As for me, I was building my name in street boxing. It was technically illegal, but it paid the bills. Organized by Diego Gonzalez, a Cuban crime lord whose hobbies are horse riding, collecting antiques, and witnessing the life of someone eyes getting snuffed out. We were more entertainers than boxers, our only purpose is to put up a good show. And it had to be real, there was no deals under the table. It was called Diego’s golden rule.

 Despite being young, I managed more wins than losses. I still remember my last match. My opponent was 'The Boomer', and he had earned that nickname for a good reason. He was twice my size, and his hands were so big that when he punched someone you could literally hear a ‘boom’ - the sound of bone cracking. It was said that he once cracked his opponent’s skull with just three punches.

I was eighteen back then, six feet tall, weighing no more than one hundred eighty-three pounds. I could tell that everyone was betting on him to win. I didn’t care. I had years of more important training. I remained focused. I could feel my body shivering. This time, my life was on the line. As I watched the crowd cheering him on, I began to feel the pressure in the air rising, the humidity increased and the air became hotter. Sweating all over my body while struggling to take each breath, I could feel myself standing alone in the middle of the battlefield, with nowhere to run or hide, fighting to the last breath was the only way out. The bell rang, signaling the start and the countdown on my life.

 

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