The Hollow People

Eleni Markova has never felt emotion before: no happiness, no sadness, no anger, and no fear. She is one of the Hollow People, a group that came about a hundred years ago when a virus swept over the world, decimating the population and leaving only a fraction of people uncontaminated. Most of the contaminated died, and the few that recovered from the plague were changed forever. Their genes were altered, and they lost their ability to feel emotion.

Now, a hundred years after the Hollow Virus, the only remaining human civilization thrives under the leadership of the Hollow People, and Eleni, a member of the City Guard, is a prime example of what a Hollow Person should be. But when terrorists attack the city, Eleni begins to experience what she never believed she could: fear. The foreign emotion runs rampant though her, causing her to flee for her life and abandon her post.

Eleni must either trust her newfound emotions and a con artist named Oliver or let her home be destroyed.

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5. *chapter three*

Oliver is gone before I can process what happened. He vanished into the trees like a ghost.

My mind churns over what just happened. I was played. It's that simple, but I can't seem to grasp it. No one has ever fooled me before. No one has ever even tried. Lying, trickery, and deception are all illogical. They hinder the growth of humanity. At least, that's how the Hollow People see it. Normal people, it seems, would disagree.

Then again, they are emotional, selfish beings.

As my brain stops reeling, and I gain control of myself again, I realize whatever is happening with my mental state needs to end. All of these emotions, or whatever they are, need to be suppressed. They have done me and everyone else enough damage already. There's not much I can do about them now besides do my best to ignore them, but when all of this is over I will find a way to turn them back off.

First I need to find Oliver and get my gun back, then I need to go back to the square. No matter how much that thought makes me tremble I know there is no other option. My life is nothing compared to the progress of the human race. If I die then it will be for the survival of New Orleans.

The forest shivers around me. Maybe it's my imagination or maybe it's the wind, but it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Sunlight trickles through the leaves and forms lazy pools on the ground. If it were another time and I were a different person, I think that I would like to feel the warmth against my skin and the breeze in my hair. But it is now, and I am me. Those things don't go with happiness.

When I emerge on the streets if New Orleans the world around me is not the one I remember. No one is here. The doors of homes are shut and bolted. No eyes appear in windows to peer out. The vendors that normally line the streets have packed up and left.

News of the terrorist attack in the square must have spread. Now people are scared just to leave their homes. That is the effect of fear. It has the ability to shut a society down in a matter of hours.

I turn to my right and see one other person. Oliver. He looks confused as he turns in circles, taking in the vacant city.

I walk up to him slowly like he's a wild animal that might run if I startle him. "I'll be taking my gun back," I say, my voice smoother than I imagined it could be.

He looks at me but doesn't react to what I just said. It's like he's not really seeing me. He stares right past me even though he's looking me right in the eyes.

"Wh-what happened?"

"Terrorist attack," I state. "I'll be needing my gun back. Now."

His body shutters like he's been electrocuted. "Terrorist attack?"

"That's what I said. Now, for the love of god, give me my gun back."

I can feel something bubble in my chest. It's red and hot like my stomach is boiling.It hurts. It makes me want to hurt Oliver.

"Where?"

Something's loose in my head. It makes my words burn the same way my stomach burns. "Where's what?" I snap.

"The terrorist attack." His words are so quiet the wind almost swallows them whole.

"The square. Now--"

"Oh god," he says, hunching over. I think he's going to be sick. "Oh god."

"Yes, yes, it's terrible. That's why I need my gun," I say, trying to block out the worm borrowing into my heart. It eats away at my anger, and makes me feel as sick as Oliver looks. I believe it's name is guilt.

Oliver stands back up. His eyes are so dilated the deep brown of his irises is drowning in the black of his pupils. Is this what I looked like a few minutes ago?

"I need to go," he says and starts walking in the direction of the square.

I grab his arm, though I'm not sure if it's to get my gun or keep him from getting himself killed.

"Let me handle this."

He shakes his head. "I can't."

His skin has gone deathly pale and is covered in a thin sheen of sweat. If I didn't know better I would think he was ill.

"It's my job. You don't need to die, too," I say, which only sends a fresh wave of fear coursing through my veins.

I'm going to die. It's a hard thing to forget.

"Die?" That makes him freeze up but only for a second. "No, I still have to go. M-my sister is in the square. She went to hear the president speak."

Oh, that changes everything. If I weren't a guard and my brother Wolfgang was there, would I go save him? I'd like to think I would but I know the real answer isn't that simple. I'm neither selfless nor selfish. I am, however, self-preserving.

"If you're willing to risk your life, then I can't stop you," I say, trying to pick my words with care, "but you better not get in my way. And I want my gun back."

He smirks at me, but it does little to cover up his raw emotions. "I'm keeping the gun. I can make a pretty penny off of it after I save Lila."

The boiling in my chest comes back. "No, you're not. That is a government issued weapon. It would be irresponsible of me to let some random person, especially an unaffected person, to take it."

"I need it to save my sister."

"I need it to save everyone. You're slowing me down and putting dozens of lives at risk," I saw, my lips drawing into a thin line.

"You have that assault rifle," he says and gestures to the weapon on my back.

My fists clench and unclench. "That's only good at a distance."

"Perfect," he says, "you can kill the bad guys from a distance, and I'll kill them up close."

"Absolutely not. I'll take the gun, and you can stay out of my way."

He pulls the gun out and waves it. "If you want this you'll have to catch me first."

He takes off in the direction of the square. That's one thing unaffected people are good at: getting what they want. I follow him through the city without a second thought. If he's determined to get himself killed then it's not my problem.

There is one thing about Oliver, and I suppose all unaffected people, that I can't figure out. Shouldn't he be afraid? I have no doubt that he is. The way he reacted earlier made him seem terrified, but right now there's something keeping that terror at bay. Something that allows him to push through and act as if nothing is wrong. If I had to guess, then I would say it has to do with his sister. Whatever it is, it is an emotion I have yet to feel.

Or maybe it's just stupidity. Hollow People are the smarter, more logical one.

As we get closer to the square, and our inevitable deaths, I'm not sure what I'm feeling. My heart pounds like it did when I was afraid, but when I think of why I'm here the boiling in my stomach returns. I returned because Oliver stole my gun. But I also returned because I have a duty to serve. That sends some other feeling through me, one that makes me think I understand why Oliver is here too.

We arrive at the square too soon. It's quiet like the rest of New Orleans. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad sign. I have a sinking feeling that it's a bad sign.

Oliver hesitates outside the tall, arched entrance, and I do too but for a different reason. I'm determined not to let that little demon called fear possess me anymore. I will it out of my body, though I know it's not that simple.

The gray stone forms a giant tomb around the square. So many are already dead in there that it might as well be considered a graveyard. The silence doesn't help.

"What the hell are we supposed to do?" Oliver says under his breath.

"We?" I whisper, though I know my voice still sounds shrill. "I already told you to stay out of my way."

He sighs. "Do you really think you can take out a group of terrorists by yourself?"

No, I don't. I can't tell him that. I also don't think I can do it with him. I just know I have to try. The very least I can do after abandoning my post is try.

"We're going to die," I remind him.

He raises an eyebrow at me. "I thought Hollow People were supposed to be logical. You can't come up with some sort of plan?"

I bite my lip a look around us. Backup should be here already, but I don't see any guards. That's not a good sign. Several explanations run through my head, but none of them help me figure out what to do.

For now I have to assume we're on our own.

There were six terrorists. Two of them were surrounded and likely dead, but I know better than to assume anything. There were about twenty City Guards at the start of the celebration; though, I saw many of them get shot down with my own eyes. I should assume most, if not all, of them are dead, including Merryn and Cade.

That thought makes my eyes burn like I'm going to cry again. Emotions are turning out to be more unpleasant than I ever thought they'd be.

My eyes fall on the old cathedral that is now the Capitol Building. The buildings to its right and left are flat and easy to run across, and the spires of the cathedral are ideal spots to hide behind.

"I think I have an idea."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hey! What did you guys think of this chapter? If you liked it remember to vote and comment. Add this story to your library to be notified when I update :)

I've decided to have a weekly song at the end of every chapter instead of dumping a playlist on you guys.

Weekly song: Wolves Without Teeth by Of Monsters and Men

Q1: How have emotions affected Eleni? Had it been more positive or negative?

Q2: Do you ship Oliver and Eleni? What should their ship name be?

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