Hollow: Part II

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Science Fiction
Be careful if you traipse into the Hollows, as the Hollows might traipse into you.

Submitted: April 04, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 04, 2016



Almost thirty sleep cycles passed before I could get out of bed and into a powered wheelchair. I felt so weak, I could barely manage the distance between bed and chair, but once strapped in, I could at least sit upright and move the control stick on the armrest.

It was a bright Excision morning when Dad took me down with a group of Paladins to the same shallow where I found Arexis, and Arexis' Hollow found me.

"Boy--" Dad started, then corrected himself, "Son... I reckon it's time you came back to where this all started."

I looked over the same shallow as before, seeing how the Excision light dimmed at the place where bright green Excision grass started, and black, lifeless Hollow dirt began. There was no skull, nor blade, nor Hollow. Just darkening barrens for a few hundred meters--the Hollow slicing through like a scar Excision grass and bushes--then more green beyond that.

To the left cut the shallow, leading out to a great barrens filled with Hollow whispers and shimmering mirages of the Hollows themselves.

"Arexis is a powerful Hollowblade," I told Dad. "Where it passes, the Hollow's darkening may follow."

My Dad looked down at me. "How do ya know that, son? Do you hear the Hollows speak still?"

"They've never not spoken to me, Dad. I can hear them--through Arexis, and through my soul, now. Whispers. So many whispers."

"What do they say?" one of the other Paladins asked. There were four of them, each with a refractive shield, lightblade and blazer rifles, beside Dad. The Paladin that spoke sounded almost spooked, this close to a Hollow--me. I was suddenly afraid of them. Without Dad's protection, they would have cut me down, I was sure. That's what Paladins do to Hollows. They have to protect Excision land and Excision people from the encroaching Hollows, less they soak the intelligence out of the 'good people'.

It wouldn't be the first time I wondered who the 'good people' were, now that I could hear the Hollows, hear what they had to say, hear their remorse, their regrets, and their fondest wishes.

They just wanted to be part of Excision again.

The Schism...

"They're pleading to us," I told the Paladin that asked. "They want our help."

"Bugger they do," said the Paladin. "They just want our spirit--our life force--to stay alive." He spat on the ground before the shallow. "Whatever being alive means for these creatures."

"Now Kline," my Dad said, "recall what I said about keepin' an open mind on this excursion."

Kline pointed at me. "He's a bleeding Hollow, Paul! Your own son! They took him from you!"

Dad gripped my shoulder tightly. "Aye, that they might have, but the boy--my son--is still with me, and us. He's not full lost to the Hollows yet. Mayhap there be some good come from this, after all."

Boy... I heard one Hollow say clearer than the others. Boy, I...thirst...

"You always thirst," I said aloud.

"What's that, Eli?" Dad asked. "Are you hearing one well, now?"

The Paladins brought their light barriers up; all except Dad, who looked down at me in my chair. The other Paladins scanned the shallow for threats.

"Easy, boys," Dad said. "It may mean us no harm."

"It doesn't," I said. "I don't think, at least."

"What did it say, son?"

I concentrate to hear, and the Hollow repeats itself. "It thirsts, Dad." I look up at him. "They said that the last time."

Kline snapped his blazer rifle up and pointed it into the shallow. "It's bloody looking for another victim! Paul, permission to fire!"

"At blessed what, Kline?" said Dad. "Can ya see the Hollow?"

"...No." Kline admitted. "It must be near, though, for the boy to hear."

"He's no longer a boy, Kline. Be warned. He's the Ambassador, now. Try to have some respect."

Kline spat into the shallow. "Bugger."

Boy... spoke the Hollow. Boyyy... Speak...for us...

"I speak for you now, Hollow," I say into the shallow. "Speak your piece."


"Boy is fine, if you cannot say the words."

Boy... I thirst... We...thirst...

"Yes, but for what?"

"Bloody souls, that's what," Kline said.

"Shut it, Kline," Dad said. "Let the Ambassador speak to them."

Boy... Give...us...strength.

"He wants strength, Dad," I said. "But I don't think he wants people."

"What then, lad?" Dad asked.

I looked out over the shallows for a moment, and then I knew. "They can't take the light of Excision, and they manifest in shadow." I nodded. "It's shadow they desire. An in-between."

Com...pro...mise, spoke the Hollow.

"Help me stand, Dad."

"Why, lad?" Dad asked.

"It wants shadow, Dad. Let's create it shadow."

"It has all the shadow it wants," Kline argued. "Why is yours any different."

"Because I give it," I answered without thinking.

Dad lifts me out of my chair. "Near the shallow, Dad," I told him. "I need to stretch my shadow over the Hollow."

"Just yours, Eli?" Dad asked.

"Both of ours, I believe."

"Aye, son, if that's what you want, I'll be helping."

Dad brought carried me under one arm, when once he could have picked me up in both arms, back when I was just a boy's size, and helped me stand somewhat upright near the shallow.

My shadow cast over the shallow, and within a moment, a shadowed skull appeared in my shadow.

Boy... Thank...you...

© Copyright 2020 Jack Motley. All rights reserved.

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