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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11. Aftermath

Staring at the moon, the moon staring back at me as I lay down on the ground. Blood touching down the tip of my right hand. The blood trail of my own son. Wet and exhausted, I tried to remember what happened later on that fateful night. The night of my first contract. My memories are in shambles, fragments, shards, it’s like putting a puzzle together, one piece at a time. Emotions... It’s been a long time since I experienced those, back when my soul was still intact, held up by her warmth.

Late... Now I remember, I was always late. Even when we were at the orphanage, she waited for me every night. I never arrived on time.

***

I turned up at Eli’s apartment around 11 p.m. They were still waiting for me.

“Logan! Why can’t you arrive on time for once?” Elizabeth was pissed, sitting on the couch near the window.

“I am so sorry! I know I keep apologizing, but this time the situation was seriously out of my hands,” I responded, slowly walking towards her.

“Now, now, Elizabeth, I know Logan is a good man. He must’ve had a good reason to be late. Besides, he is going to do the dishes tonight. Isn’t that right Logan?” said Ms. Anderson, looking straight into my eyes as she stood beside me.

“Dishes? Ah, yes, the dishes! Of course, why not! I’ll even clean the floor and fix the kitchen sink, just please don’t be upset with me,” I held Elizabeth’s hand. She stood up without saying a word and made her way to the kitchen.

 

We sat at the table. Eli had made lasagna. The smell was captivating. Knowing her and how much she sucked at cooking, she must have had some help from Ms. Anderson.

“Sometimes I miss him. You know, my husband. Although we had only one Christmas together. Yet, to this day, I feel like that night never ended. I always like to compare the family to a garden. The woman is the soil, while the man is the farmer. A blooming garden needs the hard work and passion of the farmer, and the nutrition of the soil. My farmer left long ago, leaving behind a lifeless, arid garden,” said Ms. Anderson, as she stared at the candle at the middle of the table.

“You are absolutely right. I can’t imagine how hard it’s been for you, being alone all these years,” Elizabeth replied, touched by her words.

Somehow, Ms. Anderson’s story got me thinking of Arthur, and of how I stole him from his family.

 Is this regret?

***

 The next day, the news of Arthur’s suicide was everywhere. The newspapers even published the suicide note.

‘I, Arthur Bale, could no longer live in this horrible world filled with misery. That’s why I chose to part in peace, in the hope that I would be reborn into a far better one.’

His death had been declared a suicide because the police had no other option. It’s true that the kid saw me, but I was wearing a clown mask, it would had been impossible to identify me. What’s more, if they had announced that a mysterious man had killed a detective, there would have been widespread public panic; the people would’ve had lost faith in the system, especially in this era where crime rates were rising by the day. They’d have been pointing their fingers at the police, a force so weak that it couldn’t even defend itself. They were forced to carry on with the suicide theory.

The Illuminati must’ve helped cover my tracks, minimizing the media coverage, and silencing the police.

Surprisingly, there was another huge piece of news: the apprehension of Brian Erickson, who was accused of killing Darlin Shmidt. His father’s secret operation of women smuggling and prostitution was also exposed. It was said that an anonymous man had left a box in front of the police department containing a tape with evidence that Brian had tortured several women, numerous times.

“Do you have anything to do with this? I mean, there wasn’t any evidence in the house, and nobody but Arthur knew of this. So tell me, how?” The Baron asked me after reading the news as I sat in front of his desk in his shop.

“Ah me? No, maybe he gave a copy of the evidence to one of his colleagues and told him or her to turn it in, just in case something happened to him,” I tried to keep eye contact to a minimum.

The Baron laughed, like he didn’t believe me.

I had to do it, I promised Arthur that I would make things right. Good thing nobody saw me dropping that box at the police station.

“Okay then, you want to play it like that. Even though you screwed up by allowing yourself to be exposed, somehow it worked out in your favor. Piece of advice though, you have to stop relying on luck. One day it'll run out.”

The regret that I'd felt about Arthur's death eased a little after hearing that his work had not been in vain, after hearing that justice had been served. However, there was still a matter that I had to attend to in order to relieve the tension in my chest. It lead me to the last place on earth that I wanted to be: Arthur’s funeral.

***

I never understood the concept of ‘mourning the dead’. To me, life and death are like two sides of the same coin; you can’t have one without the other. While I was at The Doctor’s mansion, I asked William about death, back then I was ten years old. He told me this story.

Once upon a time, Death visited the angels’ realm. Life noticed, and thought this was odd.

“What’s on your mind? Carrying the load of the seven realms on your shoulders?” Life said.

“Why does everyone love you, but hate me?” Death asked.

Life responded: “Because you, death, you are a painful truth, while I am a beautiful lie.”

 

It was pouring rain. Walking amidst the gloomy faces and black suits, I made my way to the front. The priest was standing beside Arthur’s family.

“Arthur was a good man, a husband, a father, and a hero…” said the priest.

Give me a break, how can you say such things about a man you never knew?

Nicole was a wreck, her face had aged ten years in about a day. Tears never dried from her daughter's eyes, clinging dearly to her mother’s dress. I approached even closer. There he was, standing to the left of his father’s coffin, staring at it. Yet, unlike his mother and sister, Richard didn’t seem to have shed even one tear. Suddenly, our eyes met, he glared at me with the same intensity as on the night we first met at the house. Of course, he didn’t recognize me, but his gaze was innocent and chaotic all at once.

I guess this is it. There’s nothing to gain from staying any longer.

Just as I was about to leave, the boy approached his father’s grave, and threw a small Lego piece toy into the hollow. If I had to guess, that toy must have been the present that Arthur had bought him for Christmas.

So that is your answer. You’ve chosen to throw away your childhood, determined to catch your father’s killer. Well, I shall be waiting with a knife in my hand.

The fire inside that child’s eyes reminded me of my own determination when I left the orphanage. Just like the promise I had made for Elizabeth, this boy had made one for himself.

Will it grant him satisfaction? Or it will it be his retribution? We shall know soon enough.

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