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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5. Fated Encounter

They say that when your life is on the line, your true nature reveals itself. Dark or light, good or bad, this is who you really are.

The ring was as cheap as it gets. The fights were organized in the junkyard, with the audience forming a square around the boxers acting as the ring border. And it was quite small, with nine feet separating each side. I felt as if I was trapped inside a sardine can.

I quickly took my defensive stance: hands at face level, one leg forward and the other behind.

‘Move swift as the Wind and as closely formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.’ - The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

In contrast, my opponent was completely relaxed. His form was weak and sloppy, and he left a lot of openings. Maybe this was because he was sure of his victory.

‘When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil.’ - The Art of War.

 This is my chance!

He came at me with his right hand, but I quickly stepped backwards. I dodged his first attack, and used my right foot to stagger his left knee. He didn’t budge. He then came at me with his left. I dodged downwards this time, successfully landing two kicks on the same knee. This time, he lost his balance, falling down on his left arm.

This is my opening!

I made a fist with my right hand and then, with all my might, turned my hips thirty degrees to the right and my right foot moved forward. I landed my first punch on his face. I could feel his nose cracking under my hand.

The crowd went quiet for a second. I thought I had him, but suddenly I heard a ‘boom’ breaking the silence. Immediately, I felt a terrible pain in my stomach. I couldn’t stand on my feet anymore. I was so thrilled after landing that punch that my reaction slowed. There I was, defenseless, open to his attacks. I was in so much pain that I thought I would throw up.

“Oh kid, now you've done it! I am going to break every bone in your body.”

He began to kick me over and over while I was on the floor. Then he grabbed me by my arms slamming me to the ground. The crowd began cheering again.

“One! Two! Three!” The referee counted.

The contestant is considered victorious if the opponent yields, or hits the floor and stays down for five seconds, or… dies. I tried to get up. I was out of ideas. Black dots began to flash in the corner of my eyes, and the sound of the crowd started to feel so distant. I knew that if I got one more punch I would be done for sure.

“When you are being overwhelmed by your opponent, don’t attack head on, mindlessly. Look for the point that causes the most damage and concentrate on it. The fight isn’t about who is stronger. It is always about who knows how to take advantage of every situation.” William’s words chimed inside my head.

I must look closely… There! This is my chance! No. This is my last chance.

Just before black over took me, I noticed that he was wheezing. He was out of breath. It takes a lot of stamina to move a big body, and his nose injury was really making it hard for him to breathe.

I gambled and charged full speed. He was still fast. He used his left arm to counter my advance, and I knew he planned on hitting me with his right.

 As I came closer to him, I dodged his left downwards. He reacted to my move with his right hand, trying to punch me in the face. As his hand was about to reach the left side of my face, I quickly used the open palm technique to attack his chest. With my current form pressed down and having him right above me, it was the ideal position to use this technique at full power. It unleashes the power out of your palms with a strength that can go through nearly anything. My goal was to damage his lungs while trying to minimalize the damage to myself. His fist landed right onto my jaw, slamming my face like a sledge hammer. I fell down, and so did he.

If both fighters were still unconscious after the five second countdown, the match would be concluded in a draw, forcing a rematch.

The referee came to my side and started talking to me, but I couldn’t make out a word he was saying. Then he went to my opponent. He didn’t budge either. I was not satisfied.

I am the absolute! I can’t lose to this inferior blob of meat. I am utter perfection!

These words unleashed a fire inside my body, giving me power. I crawled to a stand.

“One! Two! Three! Four… We have a winner!” The referee announced the end of the match.

The crowd couldn’t believe what they saw, as no one expected that this young boy would be the last man standing. Luckily, his last punch didn’t pack much power, or else I would have been done for.

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

That was my mantra, and it kept me moving forward.

The Boomer was not just out cold, he was dead. For the first time in my life, I had killed someone with my bare hands. I couldn’t feel anything at the time. Maybe it was because I was a little shocked, but it felt kind of… normal. Looking at him now from above, nothing more than an empty shell, I knew how inferior and little he was. This made me feel stronger.

Although it is city belonging to the U.S, Steely Hollow felt like an independent nation with its own set of rules and judgment. The underworld crime lords ruled the city, and Diego was at the top. So any killing occurred would also be covered by him. Probably the body will be tossed in the middle of the ocean. I didn’t had to worry about cops starting an investigation.

As I was leaving after receiving my four hundred dollars reward, a short old man approached me. His small face was covered by a black beard.

“Congrats boy, you really have some nice moves for your age. However, you are wasting your efforts on street boxing. I have a job for you that will suit your talents, plus the pay is much better. What do you say, young man?” He asked.

What kind of job?

“The kind that lets you put nails in the coffin.”

I didn’t mind getting my hands dirty, for I knew that I would have to do it eventually.

"By the way, I don’t think you have much time. The agent of the man you just killed doesn’t seem to be very happy about it. He’s gathered his men, and is waiting for you outside,” he said, pointing them out with his finger.

“Who are you?” I was able to stay conscious. I wiped the blood off my face and tried to focus my bleary eyes on this new benefactor.

“You can call me Baron.”

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