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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3. The Doctor

Secrets. We all have some hidden inside that closet in the corner of our hearts. No matter how close two people may think they are, an infinite distance separates them. Secrets are what make us who we are. That’s why everyone needs a safe haven: a place where they can truly be free to spread your wings, dark or colorful, ragged or smooth.

I was on my way to The Doctor’s mansion. It was on the top of the hill, miles away from Steely Hollow. It was the first time I had ever seen the city from above, and the view was marvelous. On the left, the sun was sinking deep into the ocean, casting a lengthy orange line straight towards the harbor. To the right, white pigeons were slowly dancing along a long bridge connecting a small island to the city, like an artery pumping with life. At the middle of the city, a big circular park centered by a flower like fountain was blooming with charm and grace. Elegant, tall buildings resting on the sides were acting like long pillars, reflecting golden threads of light onto the streets.

“Here it is, we have finally arrived,” said The Doctor.

At first glance, the mansion resembled a small fortress. Surrounded by high walls, the building had two watch towers with snipers stationed at each. Armed men were at every corner, patrolling the garden alongside trained dogs.

 I wonder, why a doctor would have this much security?

“Hey Alex, open up,” said the driver to the gatekeeper.

Once we had entered the mansion, four maids and a butler gathered at the entrance.

“Welcome back Sir, I see you brought company,” said the butler.

“This isn’t just anyone, William. He’s Michael’s son!”  The Doctor’s voice was more excited than I’d hear him since we’d met.

“So it’s finally happening,” William eyes widened, his black eyes drilling into mine.

“Come now, the sun is almost down, we must get to work. In the meantime, show Logan around, and try to explain to him how things work,” The Doctor ordered William before going upstairs into his study.

“As you wish, Sir. If you would like to follow me, Master Logan,” William responded.

Walking beside William, I felt at ease. I trusted him completely; a feeling I had never had with anyone, except Elizabeth.

Walking inside the mansion was like walking with the sun above your head; lamps decorated every corner and side. The walls were European style, dominated by white, and accented with simple threads of gold ornaments. All of it was like taking a stroll inside a fairytale. The floor was composed of large tiles with each set creating a beautiful drawing of Asian pattern. All the paintings shared a single theme: mystery. All, except one on the second floor, just beside the master bedroom. I stood still, taking a moment to contemplate its beauty, as it stood out from the others. William noticed my interest.

“All the paintings in this mansion were picked by The Doctor, with the exception of this one. It was chosen by his wife, Ms. Jennifer. Ms. Jennifer had a different approach to life, always looking for the light in everyone she encountered, even if it were the devil himself. She said once that this drawing reflected Master Brian. A red flower releasing the first drop of nectar at dawn,”

“Where is Jennifer?” I asked.

“Sadly, Ms. Jennifer passed away seven years ago in a car accident alongside her best friend, your mother, Ms. Hale Brandon,” William replied.

It was the first time that I had heard my mother’s name. Tears welled up in my eyes until they began streaming down my cheeks. My heart was about to jump out of my chest. I had never really known her, and yet I felt her loss. I had been hoping that she would be still alive, that one day I would finally meet her, touch her hands, scream over and over, “Why did you leave me and my father in the orphanage all these years?!”

I guess I will never find out the answer from her after all.

***

At midnight, all the maids in the mansion changed into white clothes, with gloves and masks on their faces. Security was getting tighter, guards were twice as in the day, and everyone was on edge. William stood at the entrance waiting for someone.

I was in the hallways when I heard car tires squeal outside in the yard. The door opened, and an armed man entered, followed by another one holding a wounded person.

What’s happening?

“Quickly! Matt is bleeding fast! He needs medical attention!” Yelled the man.

“Of course, but first I need you to surrender your weapons, sir,” William responded, his hands behind his back, standing still like a straight arrow wearing his butler uniform. Calm as a cucumber.

“Look asshole, I have been through shit all day long, so either you get your lazy ass out of my way or I will make you, with a bullet in that thick skull of yours!” His voiced piqued as he pointed his colt 1911 at William’s chest.

“Sorry sir, I can’t do that for you. We do not allow conflict on the grounds,” William responded unwavering, mainlining his still posture.

With just one clap from William, the four maids that I had met earlier came out from behind the pillars, armed with submachine guns, surrounding the guests.

Had they been standing there all this time?

“Fuck you all!” Yelled the armed man while aiming his gun left and right.

“Jayce! Just shut up for a second. We will surrender our weapons, just please help Matt, he can’t hold on any longer!” The man supporting his injured friend interrupted.

“Terence... But… Fuck it! Here, take it!” Jayce dropped the gun on the ground where one of the masked maid quickly retrieved it.

William walked towards them and frisked each one, methodically searching their pockets, stripping them of their weapons. With everything set, The Doctor descended from the second floor down the hallway. His black leather boots made a rhythmical noise against the wooden stair. Clean shaved, his neck was not long or too short, just right in between. Grey strips shined on the side of his black hair arranged backwards. His white shirt captured the muscles of his upper body perfectly without taken too much of its details. His right hand in his black pants pocket while his left flung backward and forward with each descent. All eyes were fixed on his figure. He approached Terrence.

“I am The Doctor, can I have look at the patient?”

Terrence gently laid Matt on the floor, The Doctor examined his body thoroughly, then stood up and looked at Terence.

“Grey skin around and black discharge from the wound, a foul odor than can be smelled from ten feet. Your friend’s leg is infected. It’s beyond help,”

“So what? He’ll die just like that?!” Jayce was irate, his face reddening as the reality of what had happened sunk in.

“I didn’t say he would die, I just said that his left leg where he was shot is gone. It must be amputated immediately before the infection spreads.”

“Damn it! Alright, do what you have to do, just keep my brother alive!” Terence replied, his eyes desperate for a glimpse of hope.

William carried Matt upstairs into the operation room, followed by The Doctor and the maids who seemed to now be acting as nurses. With all what happened in front of my eyes, I stood still beside Terrence and Jayce down the hall. A part of me was shocked, the other on edge. But one thing for sure, my blood was boiling with excitement as I waited to witness how things would unfold.

***

Ten minutes later, as we sat down in the living room, Terrence sitting on the sofa to my right, elbows on his knees and palms retaining his chin, a million thoughts on his face. Jayce in front of me beside the window walking left and right with his hands behind his back, agitated and on edge. It was faint, but five seconds later, the police sirens became clear. And after ten seconds, they parked their car outside in the yard beside the brothers black Chevy. My heartbeats rose faster than a speeding bullet. 

“Cops?! Shit! They must’ve followed the car,” said Jayce, as he leaned to steal a peak from the window.

“Don’t worry, you are at The Doctor’s mansion. Second rule: no one shall harm the patient or his companions,” William put his hand on my shoulder and I was reassured.

He went out to speak to the cops. I followed him.

“How can I help you gentlemen?” William nodded his head politely to the uniformed officers.

“Tell me, have you seen three men? One with medium height followed by a thin young man with a wounded leg, the third guy has a strong build and a burn scar on his left arm,” asked the cop.

“Yes I did. In fact, they are right inside the mansion,” William replied.

What? Why tell him that? You could have just lied!

“What?! Okay, I will call for backup, meanwhile please stay put! They are armed and dangerous!” Responded the cop.

“I am afraid I can’t let you do that, sir. The gentlemen you are looking for are our guests. They have full protection for twenty-four hours, after that you are free to do what you like. They will be all yours,” William said, directing his right hand towards the mansion.

“Sir, if you do not comply I will take you as well, for obstruction of justice," the cop took a step forward, his hands on his belt.

“Alright then, come on in, you can call for backup from inside. We have already made sure to remove all weapons from the guests.”

The cop froze for a second then asked, “You did what?!”

William didn’t respond, instead he casually turned around and made his way inside.

“Hey! We are not finished here yet!” The cop followed William.

The police officer cautiously entered the mansion, while his partner stayed outside to keep watch in case the fugitives tried to flee. Terrence and Jayce hid inside the kitchen.

As soon as the cop set foot beyond the mansion door, William stopped in his tracks, turned around and officer, “Sorry sir, but I have to take your gun, house rules.”

“What…?” In a flash, William had disarmed the police officer, relieving him of his gun.

“Now you can make your phone call.”

The police officer was in shock. He was about to grab hold of William’s neck when he realized five guards surrounding him. Outnumbered and outgunned, he was no longer in control. He took a deep breath and chose to make the call instead of resisting.

Left and right, my eyes glued to the cop and William each one at a time. I was lost in the moment, with no clue on what’s going on. William noticed.

“Logan, watch carefully, as this shall be your first lesson,” William said, patting me on the head as Though I was his puppy.

After the police officer had finished his phone call, his face turned red, he was sweating all over, and he was struggling to breathe.

“Sorry for the disturbance, I was only assigned to Steely Hollow two days ago, I didn’t know about this place. Please, give my dearest apologies to The Doctor,” said the police officer, with fear in his voice.

“No need for apologies, Sir.”

The police officer tried to leave as quickly as possible.

William quietly held out his firearm, “Officer, don’t you want your gun back?”

“Oh yes! Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention,” replied the officer, shaking all over and unable to look William in the eye. He left.

I couldn’t help laughing out loud. My head was swimming. I didn’t know what was happening in this house, but this confidence, this prestige, this composure! I was captivated.

“See Logan, what you saw there was something stronger than money. This what we call, power.” William’s tone was sharp as his eyes bored into me, sending chills down my spine.

Power, what a frightening phenomenon.

***

Two hours later, Terrence and Jayce were still waiting in the living room. I was down the hallway eating a cheese sandwich. William descended down the stairs, and went to the brothers, so I followed him.

“The operation was a success. Your brother Matt will live.”

A glimmer of hope sparkled on the faces of the brothers. Then The Doctor came down, drying his hands with fresh white towel.

“Alright boys, you still have twenty-two and a half hours; you can stay or leave now if you want, it’s your choice,” said The Doctor.

“Better get going before any more cops try to block our exit,” Terence answered looked over to Jayce who nodded in agreement.

“In that case, I shall reveal to you the last and most sacred rule of this mansion: nobody leaves without paying.” William said.

“Of course, how much?” Terence asked.

“Two thousand dollars,” William replied.

“Two fucking grand?! Are you kidding me?” Jayce yelled.

“That’s too much. Please, we need the money so we can get out of Steely Hollow once and for all. The jewelry shop we just hit was run by an asshole! This fucker crippled our mother when she wouldn’t whore herself out to him. We reported it these fuckhead cops, but they told us that he was an upstanding citizen and no one would believe us. Turn out that asshole bought the chief off. What we did was fucking justice!”

“Two grand,” William repeated.

“Jayce, bring me the money from the car,” Terence told his brother.

“But -”

“Just do what I say! Life isn’t as forgiving as you think it is! It’s a fucking deadly maze for people like us, and it’s people like them who make it that way,” Terence replied, his eyes burning with tears as he spoke.

That look, those tears, I don’t want to be like that, I don’t want to feel as if I was crushed like a small ant! Defeat, what a hideous feeling.

Yesterday I had woken up in a hellhole, surrounded by rats and darkness, living a meaningless life, day after day. Hours later, I had been given the chance to open my eyes. I had been blind but now everything was as clear as the sun. Creating the perfect world, where sheep and wolf walk side by side with no fear. A place with no conflict. An impartial society with no discrimination. Somewhere Elizabeth and I can finally live together in peace. That’s the ultimate dream.

My goal, my destiny, my dream, it was all in front of me. The question of life had finally been answered. Now, all I could do was learn, work hard until I could finally set out on my journey alone. This was the opportunity I had been waiting for.

For the sake of my dream, I am prepared to face even the devil himself.

 

 

 

 

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