Hollow walked past the graves every morning. Every morning there was dust and decay in the air. In Eden’s ground. Killing ground. Hollow woke up happy on his last day. The kind of happy that skirts on lunacy. Pessimists would call it delusion. Oh well.
Everyone in Solomon’s compound woke up, they all knew they had a decent chance of dying. But it’s still always going to be easy to forget that. So they did. On this day, Hollow had not forgotten.
Beyond the jangles rows of cramped quarters, the sun stared down from a dying sky. Gross colours ruined the sight of stars at night. On this morning, the sun had broke through the smog.
All knew their orders. Dig in the outside camp. So they did. Only Hollow had the fire on any spirit behind his eyes. Whenever Solomon would go on and on about the old Eden, the new recruit’s eyes were a mix of awe and fear, exactly what Solomon wanted. But from Hollow’s perspective, the old guard, as in people who had actually been to the old, real Eden, looked disgusted at Solomon when he talked about it.
Standard everyday tasks at the compound continued to pile up in a cycle, digging fresh graves, competing in firearm drills, enforced sensory deprivation tank sessions.
During all this, with the slight exception of the float tank, all Hollow’s thoughts, actions and the connections between were dipped in anger. Anger at the situation, at this dying animal of mission, well and truly in its grave. The rest were consumed by delusion, crumbs of faithful bread waiting for the pigeons
So Hollow decided to do something about it. Kill Solomon, how hard could it be?
Hollow’s room in the House Of Hell compound was small and identical in ninety percent of its features. A stone bed. Ugly and sick green paints waited to peel on the walls. Solomon, the maniac that he was, claimed it was to bring back of the spirit of the original Eden group, for their shared purpose and mission.
Right after Solomon had started spouting undiluted bullshit such as that, Hollow started to observe how their “shared mission” was little more than an ever increasing distance between the actual group, and Solomon, its leader. A clear leader that had curdled to a clear fool. Underneath the emerald tiles a large narrow pile of books slowly wobbled like a broken pendulum.
Hollow stepped out of his room, the area direct outside his bedroom filled up with similar, identical shaped rooms for each follower. All were silent. As he walked across the old wood plank flooring, Hollow left footprints of dust. No creaks, just groans and grunts from the centre of the earth.
Time had performed its usual sneak manoeuvre, through open slanted windows, that looked into the training zone. Earth’s sun now skirted very low in the sky. Crops of mountains in the distance had bled out into a mottled purple colour.
Hollow pressed his forehead against his pistol, its bronze shaded, sharp shape of the weapon glinted. He looked up at the sun, smiled, raised the arm, and closed one eye. The shot was suppressed, but still could have blown out your ears if you were stood close. A strong flash, a sharp kick of familiar pain, recoil, and a soft ding when the bullet hit its mark. In this case it was the farthest and smallest target. A bucked with a painted face.
“Right between the eyes.”
Hollow smirked, all he wanted in that moment was a hand rolled cigarette, to complete the feel of being an Old West hero. A slight noise sounded behind him, like feet shifting in sand, but upon turning, Hollow saw nothing.
Deep in the killer’s shoulders, a sharp tenseness settled itself down to his nerves. Like he was carrying a car on them. Hollow’s holster clung to his side like a old friend.
Hollow reached the hallway with a single used room. Solomon’s office. The office door was already ajar, so Hollow kicked it in fully. Time seemed slower than usual. For the sound of the door smacking its own wall rung sharp.
Using automatic muscle memory, four gunshots span through the air, leaving invisible trails.
Two pairs in quick, close and deadly proximity to eachother.
Hollow had been expecting a much gorier sight than he got. It was not gory in the sense that there was no blood at all. No one sat in the chair. No one to kill. Solomon was not in his office. Eyes scanned the desk. Ashtray, cigar, various papers. Behind Solomon’s wing-backed chair, the wall held a painting of angels and demons. Hollow’s bullets had hit their mark only in the world of the painting. But even where the bullets had hit, it was only a cloud.
He heard the noises in the underpinnings of the compound, and knew that Solomon had anticipated his mission or murder. And in response had set off a cruel set of dominoes. By freeing the demons. He ran down past ramshackle rooms and sleeping fools. Past all his memories, down to the bunker. When he stepped down its stairs into the depths things shifted. His holster shimmered violently, feeling like a leaf caught in cold storms.
Not much time.
Hollow ran into the room, and his already short life depleted in real time. To look on this scene was close kin with a tapestry of disaster. Hollow ran, hot shells flew from the gun. He never saw where the bullets went. For the murmurs were screaming. Alive and screaming like a pair of twins with vices on their skulls. The near last thing Hollow saw was the Two Murmurs and their shining eyes in a haze. Then felt the impact a lazy, sharp swipe.
All Hollow’s sensed blurred as the blood trailed in a flowing line from the claw marks in his side. A hint or a rib emerged from the warm mess.
Hollow blinked slowly. Emotions were rising from the ground, he felt lightheaded. Very lightheaded. With each shallow breath the feeling of being a feather increased. Swirling thoughts and memories faded. The patterned cosmic void pulled Hollow further and further up. A cosmic chariot moving towards the divine.