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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10. Bloody Christmas

 Detective Arthur Bale, thirty eight years old. His father Harrison was a drunkard much like Elizabeth’s father. The only difference is that Walter was good man deep down who cared about his family once, Harrison didn’t. At the age of ten, Arthur witnessed his mother, Josie, getting beaten up and rapped by his Harrison. Arthur tried to save his mother from his father’s hands, but he ended getting all roughed up with a broken rib and a scar on his forehead.

Harrison was sent to jail, and Josie miraculously survived, but only with the help of a wheelchair. Her spine could no longer be fixed. With no family left except for his mother, Arthur spent his teenage days caring for Josie and providing for the house. On the age of seventeen his mother passed away, leaving behind a strong willed man, who chose to never lose hope of this world. With justice as his religion, Arthur joined the police department.

Looking at the facts, you must be wondering - why would I kill such a good man? Wasn’t he pursuing justice? Wasn’t that my goal too?

We both shared the same path. However, his road to justice was just too long and narrow compared to mine. I wanted to extract justice for the largest possible number of people. To do that, I had to work for the Illuminati, the strongest and largest secret organization in history. Their actions may have contradicted my beliefs, but I had to turn a blind eye for the time being, and do their bidding in order to climb up the ranks. Then, and only then, could I create a difference in this corrupted world. Meanwhile, small casualties like detective Arthur were inevitable. His sacrifice would be for the greater good.

Is there any other way? The short answer is no. This isn’t a fairy tale, there are no happy endings.

“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,” The Doctor had said.

That’s the ugly truth of the world we live in. It’s like we’re living on a sinking ship, and in order to survive, you have to get yourself wet. You must swim to reach the shore. The ocean won’t split itself in two, rolling out the red carpet, with flowers on the side for you. That only happens in kids’ stories. Feeding our children such nonsense only turns them into blind sheep, their only purpose is to live each day until their time runs out. This is the world that I live in, this is my reality.

The fateful night had arrived.

“Oh holy night, the stars are brightly shining,” I heard his daughter singing from the safety of my hiding place in the garden bush.

Nice tune. The last time I heard this song was back at the orphanage, Elizabeth’s performance. What an angelic voice.

Nicole was preparing the table for dinner, laying down the empty dishes.  It was 8:30 p.m., Arthur finally arrived home. As he came out of his car, I took a deep breath and tightened my grip. I was ready.

“Daddy! Why didn’t you bring Santa with you? It’s Christmas!” His son showed up, running straight in to his father’s arms, searching for his hands for presents.

“Now, now, Richard, didn’t I tell you that you had to wait for tomorrow? Santa will come late at night in his sleigh. I’m sure he’ll leave you wonderful presents! You were a good boy this year, weren’t you?” Arthur replied, and he pat on Richard’s head.

“Yes Daddy! I was a very good boy,” he jumped from joy, smiling up at his father.

Luckily for me, I hadn’t been seen. I was running out of time, though, and I had to act fast.

“Are you fucking serious?! Why do I have to put up with your big fucking mouth every day?!” The yelling of Arthur’s neighbor broke the mood.

“Richard, why don’t you go inside? I will be with you in a jiffy,” Arthur said, starring at his neighbor’s house to the left.

The moment Richard entered the house, Arthur went into his neighbor yard. I followed him, sticking to the shadows, mostly to the grass and trees.

He was about to knock on the house door, only to get opened by a middle aged woman.

“Arthur! Help me please! My husband Mickey lost his mind!” Yelled the woman, grabbing hold of Arthur’s coat with both hands.

“Melissa, is he drunk again?” He placed his hands on her shoulders.

She raised her head, showing an indigo stain on her face. “He punched me in the face just because I asked him what happened to his paycheck!” Her face was flooded with tears.

“Where have you gone to?!” Mickey came outside, “Oh it’s you! What are you doing holding my wife you son of bitch?!” He yelled, the vein on his forehead was about to explode.

Arthur gently pushed Melissa to the side and stood in front of Mickey. I thought he was about to give him a mouthful, or in the worst case cuff him and take him to the station. Instead, he gave him a jab right in the middle of his rounded face. Mickey nose was bleeding all over his mouth, but Arthur didn’t stop there. He went for another punch to his stomach, followed by a several. Mickey couldn’t stand any longer, so he dropped on the floor. Arthur stood above him, finishing him up with a boot to the face.

 Surprised and amazed, I was impressed. Not for the violence, but by his composer. In his eyes I didn’t see anger, but determination. He wasn’t doing it for the muse. On the contrary, he did it because he was a believer. He was following his code, the one entitled justice. His own justice.

***

Arthur’s colleagues took Mickey to the station. And so it was time for the detective to go back home, and for me back to my job.

As soon as he entered the house, I quickly glanced through the window, the path was clear. Using a knife, I managed to open the window. I scrambled inside, and found myself in the living room; the dining room was in my sight. As I was about to close the window when I heard Nicole’s voice.

“Honey, Kids, the table is almost ready! Come on down! Oh! Who opened the window? It’s already cold in here, “she came and closed the window, rubbing her hands together against the cold.

I managed to take cover behind the couch at the last second.

I have to be careful.

As soon as she left the room, nimbly, I made my way to the corridor, sticking to the shadows, when suddenly, I heard Arthur’s voice coming from the second floor. I couldn’t make out what he was saying.

He must be talking with his kids. That’s my opportunity!

I was sure that Arthur would stop off at his personal room to store his files before dinner. That’s the benefit of having a target with a solid daily routine. I was standing right in front of the door. It was locked, just like I thought it would.

This wasn’t some thriller story, where a person can easily pick a lock with a paperclip in a matter of seconds. Picking locks is a skill, with different locks that come with different difficulties, not to mention how much time it takes - time I didn’t have.

Observation was the key; I had to look for a loophole. The space between the lock and the latch was narrow, a knife could easily squeeze in, but any damage done to the door or lock would’ve raised Arthur’s suspicions. But not me, I was more cunning than that sly detective. That’s why I brought a plastic card. I squeezed in the card with my left hand while turning the handle of the door with my right. One, two, and the third time was the charm. The door opened. I entered the room, locking the door behind me. I felt my heart racing, and sweat streaming down my body. The adrenaline was kicking in.

Inside was like an investigation room, with papers and photos all over the walls, and files swarming on top of the desk.

All of this… It’s about the Erickson’s!

The crime scene where Darlin’s body was found had been displayed on the side of the wall from different angels. In the middle, Brian Erickson picture alongside his father George were glued to the middle, with red threads connected to different locations around the city on a small map of Steely Hollow, presumably their bases of operations.

I looked around for a nice hiding spot, then crawled under the desk and waited patiently for his arrival, again. This was my last chance.

Seeing the room in such a state, I began to feel somewhat… sad. He had put so much hard work into this investigation to ensure that the killer would be brought to justice, and in the end, it was all going to waste. Not only that, but he was going to lose his life for it.

***

My feet were slowly going numb, and for a minute I doubted my plan. Then, I heard heavy, deliberate footsteps approaching.

These are a man’s footsteps - it must be Arthur!

He entered the room, closed the door behind, and made his way to the safe on the wall. Arthur opened it and deposited a file. Before he closed it, I grabbed him from behind, forcing a cloth saturated with chloroform over his nose and mouth. Two minutes, that’s all I needed for the drug to take effect.

I secured his hands, while he kept on hitting my knee with his foot, trying to make me lose balance. I didn’t waver. We both had the same size, but he managed to knock me back using his body weight, knocking some books off a shelf. Quickly, using my own weight, I laid my body on his back, pinning Arthur to the floor, with the piece of cloth glued to Arthur’s mouth. He was completely overpowered. Luckily, his family was too busy to notice the ruckus, or things would have gone from bad to worse.

 He began to lose consciousness, and finally gave up fighting. I could see tears welling up in his eyes. Those were not tears of fear; those were the tears of a man with unfinished business. He still had so much left to do, so many things to achieve. He had a dream to realize. I couldn’t let it end like that.

“Don’t worry. Everything will be fine. I will take it from here, you just… rest,” I whispered in his ear.

His eyes closed, leaving him completely unconscious. I picked him up, and put him on his chair behind the desk, leaving a suicide note in front of him. I took down all the pictures and notes on the wall that were related to the investigation.

I planted his gun into his left hand. Then, using his own finger on the trigger, I shot him in the head.

“Arthur! Is everything alright?” Nicole yelled after hearing the gunshot.

Quickly, I made my way out of the room. Just as I was about to leave through the window, I saw him - Arthur’s kid, standing as still as a wooden plank, his eyes fixed on me.

 My heart was beating like the drums of war, it was all I could hear. My head was swarming with different thoughts. My hand trembled as if I was shocked by a lightning. Any assassin in my position would have only one choice, dispose of any witnesses. But killing a child, that thought had never even crossed my mind before. Staring back at those unflinching eyes, I couldn’t help but think of myself when I was his age. I remembered how helpless I was, bullied by the kids at the orphanage.

Look at how clueless this boy is, so weak and fragile, can I really do it? No! I can’t jeopardize the mission. The contract always comes first! I will shoot in the head, yeah, that way he won’t feel a thing, and it will be quick. Wouldn’t that make things even worse? They’ll surely know that Arthur was assassinated. What should I do?

“Arthur!” Nicole yelled. She had found him.

Still, the boy didn’t blink. He was in total shock.

I guess I don’t have a choice after all.

I went down to his level, “Kid, I have taken something precious from you. When you grow up, look for Hollow, and I shall give you something in return. If you are worthy, that is.” Then I left the house, without looking back.

That silence, that cold stare, those were not weaknesses. Those were the traits of a professional assassin. Without knowing it, that night, I had awoken a monster, setting up a ticking bomb that would find its way to me in the years to come. We will get back to that later. But right now, I was about to face the consequences of my actions.

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