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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17. George


     

    Rules are made to maintain balance. Sometimes, we impose rules on ourselves to avoid making the wrong decisions. Yes, I believe in rules, I believe in order. However, I broke one of my rules, I thought that saving that girl was a bad idea, but later, I was glad that I did. I guess some rules were meant to be broken after all. But that night, I was, yet again, about to regret my decision.

    There were knife marks on the door lock, but it was still intact, which meant that whoever broke into my apartment wanted to do things the silent way.

    They are certainly after Emily.

    "Emily, take Elizabeth and go for the rooftop. No matter what you hear, don't even think about going down. Got it?" I said firmly.

    "Logan, what's going on?" Elizabeth asked.

    "Hey, take this, and don't be afraid to use it, because they sure won't. Now, go!"  

    I gave Emily my gun. She may be young and inexperienced, but fear is a strong motivator. I knew they would know what to do.

    I hope she doesn’t have to use it.

    Judging by what I saw through the door and the sound of footsteps, there had to be a minimum of four men inside. They were speaking Russian while messing up my apartment, it seemed they wanted to leave a clear message after finding the place empty.

    I only had a knife concealed by my left ankle, going against what I presumed was armed personnel was suicide. Fighting inside the apartment would be difficult. The best way was to lure them out into the narrow corridor, where numbers didn’t matter. I opened the door and entered my apartment.

    "Woo, guys, you want the girl, right? I can give her to you, just let’s discuss this somewhere else, shall we?” I said, walking out of the apartment.

    “Who do you think you are?! I don’t make deals with shrimps like you! Come on guys get him!” the bigger guy shouted.

    They followed me to the corridor. One of them came and tried to push me over, but the moment his right hand was about to reach my chest I grabbed it and dislocated his shoulder. The next guy that came rushing was off balance, so it was easy to dodge him. The third guy came at me with a knife, I didn’t have time to dodge it. Instead, I grabbed his knife with my bare left hand and punched him with my right on his face. His mouth was bleeding all over his face, he seemed to be getting dizzy.

    The fourth guy drew his gun and was about to shoot, I quickly took a step to the right. Luckily, he missed. The man I punched earlier on the face came at me with full force, shoving me to the door of Elizabeth’s apartment. His body was so big, it was almost impossible for me to take him out with my bare hands. He was right on top of me, and he was going for the punch. I took the first punch from him, and while he was about to take the second, I quickly stabbed him right into his guts. Blood splashed right onto his face. He lowered his body due to the pain, it was easier to hit his heart with the second stab. He went down immediately.

    “Don’t move, or I swear I will blow your brains out!” the guy with the gun threatened, entering the apartment.

    He was looking for me. I was hidden under the big fellow’s corpse. I hardened my grip, and calmed my nerves. The moment he turned the other way, I threw my knife into his scalp. It was a clean hit, he immediately dropped down.

    I stood up, went outside, and executed the other two.

    It seemed that’s the last of them.

   I had to deal with the dead bodies, not to mention possible witnesses. I couldn't risk exposing my identity. Thankfully, there was a group specialized for this kind of situations. They called themselves The Cleaners.

***

    I went up to the roof.

    "Don't move! Logan! Sorry, I thought you were one of them," said Emily.

    Her hands were shaking.I slowly approached her and took the gun from her hands.

    That was close.

    "Logan! What just happened? Who was inside?" Elizabeth asked.

    Emily knew that these were George’s thugs, she didn't open her mouth.

    "It was a burglar, who probably knew we were out, so he broke into our apartments. Luckily, I stopped him before he had the chance to steal anything. He messed up the place pretty bad," I calmly explained.

    “So can we go down now?" Emily asked.

    "No! No! Just stay here for a while, I called the cops. They are on their way now to take him away, and I tied him up with a rope so he can't escape," I replied.

    And so we waited.

***

    Two hours later, a guy wearing  FBI uniform came to the rooftop.

    "We are done here. You can come down now," he said.

    He must be one of the cleaners.

    They did their job splendidly. The rooms and corridor was completely clean, as if it never happened. Even the neighbors didn’t ask about the incident. The Cleaners intentionally left a note stating that the incident was an official secret operation done by the government, and that it should never be discussed with anyone no matter what. They even put FBI stamps on it.

    Those sly bastards.

    Now, it was time for me to take care of this charade.

    "Listen carefully, I will be gone for a while. Take a cab to Ms. Anderson’s home, and don't open to anyone, whoever he or she may be, understood?"

    "Logan! Where are you going? Please don't leave us alone!" Elizabeth begged, scared and still under shock.

    "Don't worry, the police officer just wants to ask me some typical questions. I will be back tomorrow morning," I replied.

    "You can't go! George has an army under his toe, you can't go in by yourself." Emily whispered in my ear.

    “Just an army?” I laughed, “You underestimate me, girl. Don't worry, I know what I am doing. If I don’t resolve this issue today, things will go really bad," I replied confidently.

***

    I went down to the phone booth, I had to call the only man who could get me out of this shit.

    “Logan? Why are you calling at this hour of night?” The Baron asked.

    “Hey, sorry but this is an urgent matter. Actually, I had myself mixed up with the Russian mafia, I think they are after me. Luckily, they don’t know my identity, yet.”

    “What?! Do you at least know the name of the guy who’s after you?" he asked.

    "The only thing I know is that he’s a pimp who has an army of armed men. His name is George, or that’s what they call him," I replied.

    “Hmmm…stay put, I am going to make some calls. Just don’t do anything stupid. I will call you back shortly.”

***

    Twenty minutes later, the phone rang.

    “Yes?”

    “Logan, it seems that George is just a street name, his real name is Vladimir Brushka. He is part of the Russian mafia. Just like you said, he is no ordinary pimp. This guy owns one of the biggest Russian Casinos in the city. Not only that, but it seems that this George guy has some big pairs. He wants you and a girl named Emily delivered to him before sunrise. He thinks of himself as some big shot, making demands to the Illuminati.”

    “You know I can’t do that,” I responded.

    “Hey Logan, you can take the night off. Remember to put your hat on. I am drowsy, I can’t keep my eyes open, got it?” he said, using mysterious words.

    “Understood, and hey, thank you. I owe you one.” I hung up the phone.

    That was hidden message. We often use codes in order to avoid suspicions in case someone was listening on the line. What he actually meant was that he will turn a blind eye to whatever I do tonight - he gave me the green signal but under one condition: no witnesses are allowed. The best way is to make it look like a gang war. That meant I had to act with extreme carnage.

    The casino was heavily guarded by armed men from the inside out, and the place had no cover to use. The high cover from the second floor would prove difficult to handle, not to mention the time limit before the cops arrive. Killing Vlad and getting out alive in time would prove to be challenging. Actually, it sounds more like a suicide mission.

    Orthodox methods may prove futile in such a situation, so I had to improvise. Luckily, I kept a stash of weapons on the rooftop of my building. It was hidden in an empty water tank. I picked up two Colt pistols, four clips, two hand grenades, an explosive charge, and, of course, a Russian RPK machine gun. It made sense to fight them using their own weapon. I wore a long jacket to conceal my weapons, and I covered my face with a piece of cloth. It was winter, so no one would find it suspicious.

    George started a fire inside the lion's den, and it's time for the lion to pay the wolfpack a visit. I couldn’t afford to expose Elizabeth to such danger again, and yes, Emily was the problem I brought on myself, but she was my responsibility, and I had to do what’s right.

    Tonight Vladimir Brushka must die.

 

 Rules are made to maintain balance. Sometimes, we impose rules on ourselves to avoid making the wrong decisions. I believe in rules, I believe in order. However, I broke one of my rules, I thought that saving that girl was a good idea. That night, I was, yet again, about to regret my decision.

There were knife marks on the door lock, but it was still intact, which meant that whoever broke into my apartment wanted to do things the silent way.

"Emily, take Elizabeth and go for the rooftop. No matter what you hear, don't even think about going down. Got it?"

"Logan, what's going on?" Elizabeth asked.

"Hey, take this, and don't be afraid to use it, because they sure won't. Now, go!"

I gave Emily my gun. She may be young and inexperienced, but fear is a strong motivator. I knew they would know what to do.

I hope she doesn’t have to use it.

If I have to guess, they must be George men. They knew that Emily would try to make a new passport to get out of town. That’s why they checked in with Dillion who on the other hand wouldn’t hesitate to spill out the beans for the right amount of money, or with a punch on the face. Damn it, I was careless.

I peeked through the door. Judging by what I saw and the sound of footsteps, a minimum of four were men inside. They were speaking Russian while messing up my apartment, they wanted to leave a clear message after finding the place empty.

I only had a knife concealed by my left ankle, going against what I presumed was armed personnel was suicide. Fighting inside the apartment would be difficult. The best way was to lure them out into the narrow corridor, where numbers didn’t matter. I opened the door and entered my apartment.

"Woo, guys, you want the girl, right? I can give her to you, just let’s discuss this somewhere else, shall we?” I said, walking out of the apartment.

“Who do you think you are?! I don’t make deals with shrimps like you! Come on guys get him!” The bigger guy shouted, rallying behind me.

They followed me to the corridor. One of them came and tried to push me over, but the moment his right hand was about to reach my chest I grabbed it and dislocated his shoulder. The next guy that came rushing was off balance, so it was easy to dodge to the left. The third guy came at me with a knife, I didn’t have time to dodge it. Instead, I grabbed his knife with my bare left hand and landed a jab on his face with my right. His mouth was bleeding all over his face, his eyes were getting dizzy.

The fourth guy drew his gun and was about to shoot, I quickly took a step to the right. He missed. The man I punched earlier came at me with full force, shoving me to the door of Elizabeth’s apartment. His body was so big, it was almost impossible for me to take him out with my bare hands. He was right on top of me, and he was going for the punch. I took the first jab from him, and while I was about to take the second, I quickly stabbed him right into his gut. Blood splashed right onto his face. He lowered his body due to the pain, it was easier to hit his heart with the second stab. He went down immediately.

“Don’t move, or I swear I will blow your brains out!” The guy with the gun threatened, entering the apartment.

He was looking for me. I was hidden under the big fellow’s corpse. I hardened my grip, and calmed my nerves. The moment he turned the other way, I threw my knife into his scalp. It was a clean hit, he immediately dropped down.

I stood up, went outside, and executed the other two with my knife with a clean slit to the throat.

It seems that’s the last of them.

I searched the big guy pockets for clues. Other than three badly wrapped joints, a skull key chain with four keys strapped, a black leather wallet with fifty two bucks and no identification paper, I couldn’t find anything useful. I flipped him over to the other side, trying to take off his coat. It was actually hard with his size. I was looking for any markings on his body. On his left forearm, ‘бойня’ was written, which was Russian for massacre.

Emily was smuggled from Russia. So there is a high chance that George is Russian. And if my speculation was right, those are definitely George’s man, now it all make sense.

I had to deal with the dead bodies, not to mention possible witnesses, but I couldn't risk exposing my identity or get reported to the cops. Thankfully, there was a group specialized for this kind of situations. They called themselves The Cleaners.

I went up to the roof.

"Don't move! Logan! Sorry, I thought you were one of them," said Emily, her hands shaking. I slowly approached her and took the gun from her hands.

Phew, that was close.

"Logan! What just happened? Who was inside?" Elizabeth asked, standing behind Emily.

Emily probably knew that these were George’s thugs, she didn't open her mouth.

"It was a burglar, who probably knew we were out, so he broke into our apartments. Luckily, I stopped him before he had the chance to steal anything. He messed up the place pretty bad," I calmly explained.

“So can we go down now?" Emily asked.

"No! No! Just stay here for a while, I called the cops. They are on their way now to take him away, and I tied him up with a rope so he can't escape," I replied.

And so we waited.

***

Two hours later, a guy wearing FBI uniform came to the roof.

"We are done here. You can come down now," he said, and went down without saying another word.

He must be one of The Cleaners.

They did their job splendidly. The rooms and corridor were completely clean, as if it never happened. Even the neighbors didn’t ask about the incident. The Cleaners intentionally left a note stating that the incident was an official secret operation done by the government, and that it should never be discussed with anyone no matter what. They even put FBI stamps on it.

After checking the apartments, I went back to the roof to report back to the girls. Now, it was time for me to take care of this charade.

"Listen carefully, I will be gone for a while. Take a cab to Ms. Anderson’s home, and don't open to anyone, whoever he or she may be, understood?"

"Logan! Where are you going? Please don't leave us alone!" Elizabeth begged, scared and still under shock.

"Don't worry, the police officer just wants to ask me some typical questions. You know the how and when kind of questions. I will be back tomorrow morning," I replied.

"You can't go! George has an army under his toe, you can't go in by yourself." Emily whispered in my ear.

“Just an army?” I laughed, “You underestimate me, girl. Don't worry, I know what I am doing. If I don’t resolve this issue today, things will go from bad to worst. Trust me I know I know how these thugs operate.”

After we went down to the street. I made sure Emily and Elizabeth safely took the cab to Ms. Anderson’s apartment on Silky Street five blocks away. Then I went to the phone booth on the corner of the left street where my apartment is in. I had to call the only man who could get me out of this shit.

“Logan? Why are you calling at this hour of night?” The Baron asked with a drowsy voice, he was asleep.

“Hey, sorry but this is an urgent matter. Actually, I had myself mixed up with the Russian mafia, I think they are after me. Luckily, they don’t know my identity, yet.”

“What?! Do you at least know the name of the guy who’s after you?"

"The only thing I know is that he’s a pimp who has an army of armed men. His name is George, or that’s what they call him,"

“Hmmm…stay put, I am going to make some calls. Just don’t do anything stupid. I will call you back shortly.”

Twenty minutes later, after smoking three cigarettes, the phone rang.

“Yes?”

“Logan, it seems that George is just a street name, his real name is Vladimir Brushka. He is part of the Russian mafia. Just like you said, he is no ordinary pimp. This guy owns one of the biggest Russian Casinos in Steely Hollow. Not only that, but it seems that this George guy has some big pairs. He wants you and a girl named Emily delivered to him before sunrise. He thinks of himself as some big shot, making demands to the Illuminati.”

“You know I can’t do that.”

“Hey Logan, you can take the night off. Remember to put your hat on. I am drowsy, I can’t keep my eyes open, got it?”

“Understood, and hey, thank you. I owe you one.” I hung up the phone.

That was hidden message. We often use codes in order to avoid suspicions in case someone was listening on the line. What he actually meant was that he will turn a blind eye to whatever I do tonight - he gave me the green signal but under one condition: no witnesses are allowed. The best way is to make it look like a gang war. That meant I had to act with extreme carnage, which was the way I like it the most.

I went to the designated casino to scout the area. The place was heavily guarded by armed men from the inside out, and there was no cover to use. The high cover from the second floor would prove difficult to handle, not to mention the time limit before the cops arrive. Killing Vlad and getting out alive in time would prove to be challenging. Actually, it sounds more like a suicide mission.

Orthodox methods may prove futile in such a situation, so I had to improvise. Luckily, I kept a stash of weapons on the rooftop of my building. It was hidden in an empty water tank. I made my way there and picked up two Colt pistols, four clips, two hand grenades, an explosive charge, and, of course, an AK-47. It made sense to fight them using their own weapon. I wore a long jacket to conceal my weapons, and I covered my face with a piece of cloth. It was winter, so no one would find it suspicious.

George started a fire inside the lion's den, and it's time for the lion to pay the wolf pack a visit. I couldn’t afford to expose Elizabeth to such danger again, and yes, Emily was the problem I brought on myself, but she was my responsibility, and I had to do what’s right.

Tonight Vladimir Brushka must die.

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