The Hollow and The Saint

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"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. Mr. Colt

Boys and girls slept separately in the orphanage. The dorm upstairs was reserved for girls alongside that shriek Ms. Marie. While the boys slept in the basement. It sounds harsh, but with that number of kids, we couldn’t complain. There was just nothing else to do.

As for me, well, I was special. Okay, not the fortunate kind of special. Most of the time, I slept inside the Kagibi. It was a dark room full of rats, reserved for bad kids. And yes, I was one of those bad kids.

Ms. Marie forced the kids to sleep as early as the moon shines at night. Nine o’clock, that the limit. It wasn’t like she was concerned with our growth or anything. The only reason she created that rule was that she could begin her ritual at night without any disturbance. She would sit on that rotten, squeaky chair, a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a cigarette in the other for two hours, always finishing three cigarettes and leaving about an eighth of the bottle.

How did I know of this? Well, I used to join her every night - from a distance of course, without being noticed. I always waited for that moment when her eyes filled with rainbows and her brain was on autopilot, so I could sneak towards the window of the living room and look at the sky. Don't get me wrong, I was not a dreamy, hopeless romantic kind of person. The only reason I did it was for her. Elizabeth Rose.

However, as bad luck goes, one time I was caught staying up late. Ms. Marie was so angry at me the vein on the side of her head was about to explode. Some nights are like that, no matter how many bottles she gobbled up, she couldn’t get drunk, so instead, she stays up all night. And so I was tossed into the deep hole of the Kagibi.

Sitting in pitch black, with only the sound of rats’ footsteps and the squealing ventilator above my head, along with the smell of rotten furniture, I learned how to embrace the darkness from an early age.

The next day, I was woken by golden threads of light illuminating the hell hole where I slept. Despite being a storage room for old furniture and tools, the Kagibi feels peaceful in the day. Stream of sunlight fell through the window, gently warming up my skin. The sound of rats vanishes from the floor and replaced by a magical birdsong almost similar to a flute.

Just when I was about to enjoy my morning paradise, the sound of Ms. Marie’s loud footsteps on the wooden floor echoed like the booming heartbeat of a condemned prisoner. She opened the door, and its creaking noise brought a chill to my spine.

"Rise and shine, Logan, rise, and shine. You can come out now. Funny though, I almost think that you like this place,” said Ms. Marie, laughing.

I stared at her, rubbing my knuckles into my eyes. I was only concerned about Elizabeth as we couldn’t practice our routine at night, sharing the sight of the sky. I didn't care what that old hag had to say. I was about to leave.

"Hey, wait! Before I forget, a man named Mr. Colt wants to see you. He also filed for your release, so this may be your last day in here. He sure looks classy and rich. Don't know why he would bother adopting someone like you. This room will surely miss your ugly mug!”

Thinking about leaving Elizabeth devastated me. Still, I wanted to meet this mysterious man. Deep down, I wanted to know about my past, and I thought that maybe he has some answers, maybe not. And so, I went to meet him up in Ms. Marie’s office.

Walking behind Ms. Marie to the second floor, I couldn’t shake this unpleasant feeling in my heart. We arrived at her office, she opened the door, and for me, it was as if bright light struck down my eyes blinding me for a second. At first glance, he was a good looking, middle-aged man. Tall, about 6.3 feet, quite muscular for someone in his forties. His clothe were neat, wearing a black suit with a black hat, adorned with a gray stripe.

As I sat down before him, I was met by a sudden sense of disquiet that only grew with time. My body flushed hot and then cold. I held my breath. I could sense a dark, cold aura coming out of him. I was sweating all over, intimidated but boiling with excitement.

His eyes were navy blue, and empty, except empty couldn’t begin to describe it. Looking at his eyes was like staring at the ocean, an infinite view, lost in the middle of nowhere. He was staring at me. I feared he would pounce. Instead, he lowered himself to my height and without expression told me the reason he was here.

"Logan, I am your father."

"No! You are not my father!" I answered defiantly. That man’s words ignited my blood with denial, to the point I spoke without thinking.

Mr. Colt smiled.

"I should be clear. I am not your biological father. You resemble him, boy, especially with that big mouth of yours," he responded, “I am your guardian. Your father now.”

"I don't know you, and you don't know me!"

"Well, you don't know me, yet. However, I know you very well. Your father, Michael Hayz, entrusted you to my care when he died, so I let them put you in this orphanage until you had grown up a little," he replied.

He suddenly glued his face into mine. His blue eyes felt like a black hole swallowing anything into the hollow, "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." His voice was low and dry as he said the things I had been thinking all my life.

I was so mesmerized. Despite being only 7-years-old, I had always thought of this world as unjust, and in need of a radical change. Not a savior, it wasn’t a question of good and evil, or right and wrong, it was about what I wanted and what they wanted, and I wanted to be a harbinger of change. This world needed me.

Does this evil seeming man understand?

"Now tell me, do you want to follow the rules like all these sheep? Or, do you want to be the one to write the rules?" He gestured in the air as he outlines my options.

To the untrained eye, he was an ordinary man. To me, he was like an apostle. His words touched the very depths of my soul.

"You must become strong and you must adapt. You must become one with the crowd, you must learn to hide in plain sight, among humans and demons alike: in their world but not of it! You must become more than human or demon-you must evolve!"

The burden of his words weighed heavily on my conscience, as though my very existence was dependent on it. Any young boy would have stared back with an open mouth hearing about this world, but not me. I made the decision that I could only live in the present and would write my future. I had no past. Now, with the help of this man, I could break free from my cocoon. I could fly! I would create my own world... for me and for her. I knew what type of answer I would give him.

 "Mr. Colt, I-" he interrupted.

"Mr. Colt is just a name that I made up for this meeting, my real name is Brian, but I prefer to be called Doctor."

"Well, Doctor, my answer is this: for the sake of my dream, I am prepared to face even the devil himself.” I gave him those simple words, yet deep down, they were the foundation to the dream that was starting to pave under feet.

“Okay then, shall we?” He stood up, extending his hand towards the exit.

As I made my way outside the room and down the hallway with Brian by my side, I could see the kids’ envious eyes following me. Elizabeth was waiting for me at the other end.

"Logan! Is it true? Are you really leaving for good?" her voice pitched with emotion.

I ran to her side, Brian descended the stairs and waited for me down. I laid my hands-on Elizabeth’s shoulders.

"I may be leaving you right now, but I swear upon the stars, I will protect you forever, and I shall make you see the beauty of this world again!"

I saw two pearly tears coming out of her eyes and falling all the way down her cheeks.

She wiped the tears from her face and raised her head towards me as if she was looking straight into my eyes.

"Before you leave, I want to ask you,” her gentle mouth twitched into a broad smile, “how was the sky last night?"

"In the dark purple skies, all the sheep gathered beside a mystical light. It was a full moon," I replied. Those were my farewell words.

Making my way through orphanage doors, I felt refreshed. At last, I was about to see the world in new colors, a different pallet. But what I didn’t know at the time that from here on onwards, it was only getting darker and darker.

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