Something in the Water is the twenty-fourth chapter of Zak Saturday's Immortal Love Life. It was first published on January 24, 2016.
The cheetah cubs suddenly entered the control room of our airship laughing.
“What’s so funny?” Raylee asked them.
“Sarah and Zack,” Chewie said.
“Yeah,” Toto said. “They’re dressed up as a cowboy and a cowgirl.”
“But Sarah overdid her outfit,” Honey added.
“Sarah always overdoes her outfit,” Raylee said.
“Wait,” I said. “What do you mean? Why are they getting dressed up?”
“Well, since we’re going to Africa to relocate an elephant-like cryptid, Sarah, Zack, and I are going to be riding Rapidashes, and they want to dress up for it whenever we ride them.”
“Yeah. They’re fish horse Pokémon.
Sarah and Zack entered the room and I could see what they meant. Sarah was wearing a white tank top and skirt with a pink cover up, pink cowgirl shoes and cowgirl hat. Zack was dressed more like a modern cowboy: slacks, a vest, a button-up shirt with an old western tie, and brown cowboy shoes with a cowboy hat.
“Oh, you guys look so cute,” Raylee said. “Can I take a quick picture?”
“Sure, Mom,” Sarah said.
Raylee summoned a camera to her hands and Sarah and Zack did a pose together.
Raylee snapped the picture. “You should send a picture to Selena.”
“We already did of Zack,” Sarah said.
Then we heard a little noise that I didn’t recognize.
“And that’s probably her responding.” Zack pulled out what looked like a kind of phone from his pocket.
He and Sarah looked at the screen of it.
“Well, that’s true,” Sarah said.
Zack stared at her.
She blushed. “Uh, let’s pretend you didn’t just hear me say that.”
“Already have,” Zack said.
She laughed nervously.
“What?” Raylee asked.
“Umm, well, I said we sent a picture of Zack just like this to Selena, and she responded saying he looks really hot and I agreed,” Sarah said.
“Oh. That’s disturbing to hear.”
Sarah and Zack acted awkward. Then I happened to notice that they both were wearing badges that had the word sheriff on them and their names.
“I didn’t know girls could be sheriffs,” I said.
They were confused as to why I said that, but then they seemed to remember their badges and glared at me.
“Do you have any idea how sexist that sounds?” Sarah asked.
I didn’t answer that.
So Sarah, Zack, and their mom were riding fire horses, as they said they would, I was flying Zon, and Mom, Komodo, and Fiskerton were riding on Fiskerton’s bike, dragging a big piece of meat behind them because the elephant cryptid was a carnivore, but Dad stayed on the airship and monitored all of us.
After a while, we were pretty close to where we wanted to relocate the cryptid, but we lost it.
“Wait. Where’d it go?” Mom asked. We had ear piece communicators. “We lost it? How did we lose a Grootslang? It’s built like an elephant.”
Zon and I were flying above them and around the perimeter.
“I don’t see it either, Mom,” I said. “The jungle’s too thick.”
“It’s still moving,” Dad said. “I show it nearly on top of you, Drew.”
“Yeah,” Raylee agreed. “We’re right behind it and are herding it in your direction.”
I looked down and noticed Komodo jumped onto the piece of meat and began eating it. Then the Grootslang appeared, with the Hollingers following behind it. Fiskerton began pedaling away and the Grootslang followed them, along with the rest of us.
Eventually we came to a watering hole and Mom cut the rope connected to the piece of meat with Komodo still on it. He slid into the mud and the Grootslang followed. Komodo would not give up the meat without a fight, so the Grootslang almost trampled him, but I came to his rescue by activating my powers.
“Hey, Jumbo,” I said, getting a connection to it. “That’s right. Just look around. Not bad, huh? Fresh air, clean water. Put in a TV and you’ve got yourself a home.”
I slingshot the claw onto the piece of meat, the claw grabbed onto it, and I flung it on the other side of the river. The Grootslang went after it and it was gone. Komodo was not happy that he lost his meal.
I had Zon land us on the ground, then Raylee, Sarah, and Zack dismounted their Rapidashes, and Raylee put them back in their Poke balls. Dad came down from the airship.
“Very impressive control of your powers, Zak,” he told me. “That was no small cryptid. He should be fine on this stretch of the Lilhola. No human settlements to bother or be bothered by for at least a hundred miles in each direction.”
“Guess again,” Raylee said.
We didn’t know what she meant until we looked where she was looking. There were a few people on a motor boat on the river coming our way.
“Hello,” a woman called to us from the boat. “Are you lost? Do you need assistance if your vehicle has broken down?”
“Uh, no,” Mom said. “No thanks. We’re ok. But, uh, how did—where did you—”
Looking past the people in the boat, we noticed what looked like a village down the river. That was a little unsettling.
“Does this mean we have to move the elephant again?” I asked.
We introduced ourselves to the people on the boat. The woman introduced herself as Sita, then she offered us a ride and tour of her village. We were happy to oblige.
“Uh, actually, we’re going to go hunting,” Amber said, referring to her and the other animals.
“Ok,” Raylee said. “I’ll come find you guys when we leave.”
They nodded and ran off. We all climbed into the boat and sailed toward the village. The people there waved to us as we passed. We waved back.
“Cool,” I said. “Pretty friendly town.”
“Everyone’s just excited to have visitors,” Sita said. “As you can imagine, we don’t get many here.”
She brought the boat next to a dock, where a guy had grabbed a cord from it and plugged it into a switch on the dock, which I didn’t think much about, and we all exited off onto the dock where a man was waiting to greet us.
“Mayor Joseph,” Sita said. “May I present our guests. The Saturday and Hollinger family.”
We greeted him.
“Hello, my friends, and welcome to Sanctuary II,” he said. “Sita tells me you stumbled upon us thanks to some giant creature.”
“I apologize for leading the Grootslang so close to your city,” Dad said. “But, in our defense, you’re not suppose to exist.”
“We had hoped to keep our little secret for a few more years. But no apologies necessary. We didn’t build Sanctuary II to escape nature, but to embrace it. Come, let me show you around.”
And that’s what he did.
“Years ago, a few dozen dreamers, experts in our various boot, came together to create a paradise,” he explained. “Sanctuary I wasn’t much more than a few house boats strung together, but you can see our progress. Everything we need: food, water, electricity, clothing, even building materials, the river provides. Nothing is wasted.” The mayor walked up to a guy that tossed him a pillow, then he turned toward my dad. “Feel that.”
He tossed him the pillow and Dad felt it.
“Oh,” he said, seeming to like it. “Oh, yeah.”
Yeah, I’d say he likes it too much for his own good. Sarah laughed. She probably just read my mind. I focused back on the village.
“This place is amazing,” I said.
“Completely self-sustaining,” Mom agreed. “No pollution. Yet, totally modern comfort. This city could be a model for the rest of the world.”
The mayor chuckled. “Give us until Sanctuary III. Or IIII to work out all the kinks.”
Then suddenly, the dock shook a couple times.
“That was a kink?” I asked.
The people around us each grabbed spears and stood at the edge of the dock, looking out onto the water.
“There!” the mayor said, pointing at two large yellow things that were poking out of the water.
“You’re being attacked by fish?” I asked.
They threw their spears at them, but it didn’t seem to effect them in any way.
“Drew?” Dad asked.
“Yep,” she replied.
She ran off one way with Komodo and Zon, and Dad went another with me and Fiskerton. We were following one fish and it jumped onto the dock, breaking down the wood and dumping a few people into the river.
“No,” the mayor said. “Get out of the water.”
Fiskerton helped one of them out. I grabbed the claw and slingshot it to another guy and it grabbed onto him. I tried to pull him out, but he was heavy. The mayor helped me and we both were able to pull the guy out. Dad jumped into the water to help the other guy, but then I noticed the fish coming toward them.
“Dad, look out!” I called.
He noticed it too. He used his power glove and punched it away. We helped them out and ran back to where Mom and the rest of them were dealing with the other fish. They were swimming away.
“Do you have an ID yet?” Mom asked Dad.
“African Giant Catfish,” he said. “They’re called Lou.”
“We already have a name for them,” Sita said. “Devil fish.”
The mayor sighed. “It seems every paradise must have one.” He turned toward us. “Thank you. You saved several lives today.”
“It’s kind of what we do,” I said. “Giant fish attacks are actually on the low end of the danger scale. What do you think, Fisk? C-? D+?”
He suggested it should be a little higher.
“You are clearly experts in this sort of thing. And Sanctuary II would be very generous if you would bring a more permanent solution to our devil fish problem.”
We understood to what he was referring to, but we didn’t exactly like it.
“Uh, Mr. Mayor, we’re flattered, of course, but that is definitely not what we do,” Mom said.
“We’re talking about a substantial amount of money,” he said. “Who doesn’t need money?”
A thought came to mind. We don’t need money, but I knew someone who did.
“We’re scientists, Mr. Mayor. Not bounty hunters,” Dad said. “But if you allow us to stay and study the Lou, we may be able to find a solution that benefits everyone. No charge.”
“You want to study what’s trying to destroy us?” Sita asked in disbelief.
“A solution is a solution,” the mayor said. “I accept your gracious offer, Dr. Saturday. But if you’re going to stay in Sanctuary II, we must welcome you properly.”
And that welcoming included a party.
I noticed Sarah and then realized something.
“Hey, why didn’t you help us with the fish?” I asked.
She, Zack, and Raylee and her Pikachu seemed to be glaring at the people around us.
“We have our reasons,” Sarah said without even looking at me.
“Oooook.” I decided not to ask.
I ran off to make a call.
After making my call, I joined the party inside one of the cabins. Sarah, Zack, and Raylee were on the far side of the room, kind of zoning themselves out of the party. My parents were sitting with the mayor.
I decided to show everyone a few tricks with Zon. They enjoyed watching her. Then we heard some people yelling from outside and everyone went to see what was going on.
“Look! It’s up in the sky!” one called.
We looked up and noticed someone flying toward us and he landed on the dock.
“Oh my God,” Raylee said. “What the hell is he doing here?”
The person standing before us was Doyle.
“I hear this town needs a fisherman,” he said.
My parents weren’t happy to see him, either. They glared at me, as did Sarah and her family.
I smiled sheepishly, then waved at Doyle. “Hey, Uncle Doyle.”
He saluted back at me.
We were back inside the cabin and Doyle was eating some of the food while the mayor was discussing their bargain.
“And you’re certain you can get rid of the devil fish?” the mayor asked Doyle.
“Devil fish. Devil dogs. Deviled eggs,” he replied. “You got money, I’ll get rid of whatever devils you got.”
“Mr. Mayor, this is not necessary,” Dad argued. “We’ve already agreed to—”
“Dr. Saturday,” he interrupted. “You are welcome to stay in Sanctuary II, but not to tell me how to run it.”
“And you, mister, just got your video phone privileges revoked,” Mom told me.
“Why?” I asked. “Doyle needs the money. And he already promised not to hurt the Lou. All he’s gotta do is move them some place else like we did with the Grootslang.”
“There wasn’t a bounty on the Grootslang,” Dad said. “Right and wrong gets slippery when you’re on someone’s payroll.”
“Dang,” Doyle said. “Well, I had no idea this would bug you so much. For that, you get a ten percent discount.”
“Great!” I said. “So what time can we pick up our boat in the morning—”
Dad grabbed the back of my shirt and pulled me back. “Not a chance.”
I looked at Doyle. He smiled at me apologetically and shrugged.
I pouted and crossed my arms.
We all stayed in one cabin together. I woke up just before dawn and got ready. Doyle and I managed to make plans to go capture the catfish very early the next day.
I began tiptoeing across the room, but the floor boards kept creaking with every step I made. Nobody seemed to wake up from it, but I didn’t want to take any chances. I climbed up the poles on my bed and jumped from one pole to another on the other beds, but it was really hard to keep my balance. I jumped to another pole and lost my footing.
I fell toward the ground above Komodo. But before I could land on Komodo, someone grabbed my arms and pulled me up. It was Sarah. She was hanging upside down from a beam near the ceiling and Fiskerton was awake next to her.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she asked me.
“I think you already know,” I whispered.
“Oh, I do because I know you, Zak. I’m surprised your parents don’t suspect that you’re going to do this and not keep an eye on you, even while you’re sleeping.”
“I’m just as surprised as you are. But what are you going to do? Tell them?”
“Not if you let me come along.”
“Not if you let us come along,” she corrected.
I stared at her in disbelief. “You actually want to come along, even though you don’t really like Doyle?”
“Yes. But I also don’t trust the people here.”
“I sense something wrong about them, and I have a feeling that it involves those catfish, but I don’t know how or why and I need to find out.”
“Ok. Let’s go then.”
Sarah flew the both of us to the door and Fiskerton climbed his way to it. We exited the cabin and met up with Doyle, who was preparing the boat on the dock. He saw us coming, but frowned when he noticed Sarah and Fiskerton.
He looked at me. “What?”
“We bring them along, they don’t tattle,” I said.
He sighed. “Get in the boat.”
And that we did. Doyle turned on the motor and we were off.
He had a satchel full of stuff and I was going through it. I pulled one thing out at a time and Doyle named each one of them. I grabbed one particular thing and I practically admired it.
Doyle took it out of my hands. “Yeah, uh, I’ll be handling the tech. You can start chubbing.”
He had also brought fish bait.
“Are you serious?” I asked. “Spooning fish guts? Why me?”
“Because I’m tired of telling Fisk not to— Hey! Fur ball! Out of the chum!”
Fisk was eating it, but tried to pretend he wasn’t by hiding it behind his back.
Sarah laughed. “Come on, Zak.”
She pulled me near the edge of the boat, took the bait out of Fisk’s hands, and gave it to me. I sighed, then took the bait and began pouring spoonfuls of it over the side.
“So, this is fishing,” I muttered.
I poured some more, then one of the catfishes jumped out of the water. We had set up a fishing pole and the line to it was being pulled on.
“We’ll be home by breakfast time,” Doyle said, then he began to reel it in. Or tried to.
The boat began to move.
“Strong fish,” Doyle said.
Well, it is really big.
The boat made a 360 turn, then the catfish with the line in its mouth jumped over the boat, and it stopped.
“It ran the line into the motor,” Doyle said.
Then the line wrapped around the four of us, tying us together.
“Smart fish,” I said.
“Yeah, you’re telling me,” Sarah agreed.
“Ok, we may miss breakfast,” Doyle said.
“Who the hell cares whether we miss breakfast or not?”
Sarah rolled her eyes. “Of course you do.”
She unsheathed her sword and cut the line from around us.
Doyle began fixing the motor. It took him a while, but he eventually got it.
“Engine’s back,” he said. “Let’s go find those two chum suckers.”
“We don’t have to,” Sarah said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because they already found us.”
Just as she said that, we saw the two catfish coming straight for us. And fast. They jumped out of the water.
“Grab something,” Doyle said. “Now!”
He picked me up and threw me toward the ladder. Fiskerton had grabbed hold of it, then of me and Sarah. But Doyle wasn’t so lucky.
The fish had landed halfway on the boat, causing it to tip their way. Water was on the deck, which caused Doyle to slip and slid halfway into one of the catfishes’ mouth.
“Doyle!” I called.
Sarah and I grabbed hold of the ladder while Fiskerton grabbed hold of Doyle with his feet and pulled him out of the catfish’s mouth. He was covered in its saliva.
“That’s just yuck,” he said.
I climbed up the ladder and went to the controls, moving the boat forward and getting the catfishes off of it.
“Alright, Zak,” Doyle said. “Let them catch up to us.”
I stopped the boat. Doyle and Fiskerton put sonic lures over the side and the catfishes went to them.
“Let me hold them still for you,” I said, grabbing the claw and activating my powers.
“I’ve got the ‘holding still’ covered,” Doyle said, holding up a tech, aiming it at one of the catfishes, and shot a net onto it.
“Fisk, you’re supposed to be watching the other—” Doyle started, but was interrupted when the other catfish swam into the boat, knocking Fiskerton into the water.
“Hold on, Fisk,” I called out to him. “I’m coming around.”
I turned the boat toward him, but the catfish wasn’t done with him yet and swam for him. He screamed and swam away as fast as he could.
Sarah was laughing. I guess I had to admit that his scream was a little funny.
Doyle threw a net onto the catfish, stopping it in its tracks.
“Alright, Doyle!” I said.
Fiskerton got back on the boat, and Doyle tied the catfishes to the side of the boat. Then he grabbed something from his satchel.
“Ok, relax,” he told one of the catfishes. “It’s just a little nighty-night tranquili—”
He touched the catfish and was immediately zapped with electricity. He fell to the floor, a little paralyzed.
I was surprised by that. Fiskerton helped him up.
“Doyle, you ok?” I asked.
He rubbed his head. “Yeah. Just surprised me.” He walked up to the catfish again. “Two words: lemon and butt—”
He stomped on it and it shocked him again.
“My God,” Sarah said. “How many times are you going to do that before you realize you should stop doing that?”
He didn’t answer. Mostly because he was too shocked.
“Gigantic, and they make their own electricity?” I said. “You think Mom and Dad know about this?”
“Not yet,” Sarah said.
She climbed up to where the controls were and turned us back toward the village. About ten minutes later, we were coming close to the village, and I noticed my parents and the mayor standing on the dock. We sounded the horn to get their attention.
“Guess what?” I called to them. “They make their own electricity. Cool, huh?”
My parents didn’t look happy.
After we had docked, we got off the boat and joined our families. They seemed to be arguing with the mayor.
“I told you, the river gives us all we need,” the mayor said. “The giant devil fish is our power source, and the mother of those two.”
He gestured to the catfishes still tied to the boat. I couldn’t believe what I just heard.
“Stealing a fish mom and sucking the life out of her?” I said. “That’s your paradise?”
I was angry, and Dad held me back. But I wasn’t the only one.
“I knew there was something bad about you people,” Sarah said.
“Imagine a world of electrical power with no ecological damage,” the mayor said. “Crystal clear water. Unpolluted air.”
“That’s a lot to ask from one fish,” Mom said.
“One fish that lays a thousand eggs. We already have over two-hundred pre-orders. Where do you think we get the money to pay a mercenary fisherman?”
We looked at Doyle.
“Uh, yeah, I wasn’t gonna say anything,” he said. “But since you brought it up.”
Sita handed him a satchel full of cash.
I was mad. “Doyle.”
He turned and looked at me. “What?”
“What do you mean ‘What?’ This is animal cruelty. We can’t just let them do this.”
“Of course he can,” Dad said. “As long as they’re paying, you’ll do whatever they ask, right? Isn’t that what you said, Doyle? This is exactly what I tried to warn you about.”
Doyle sighed. “Sorry I can’t stick around, Zakman. But I don’t need a money lecture from the guy who inherited his family fortune. Have fun with your fish.”
And he took off.
Sita had a spear with her and she and the mayor walked up to the catfishes.
“I am sorry about this,” the mayor told them. “But you can’t have a paradise without some sacrifice. Sita.”
She walked up to the catfish and held out her spear, but before she could pierce it, I stopped her.
“No,” I said, getting between her and the catfishes and activating my powers. “Let them go.”
“Young man,” Mayor Joseph said. “You and your family are guests in our city. And if you can’t abide by our laws, perhaps it is time you left while we’re all still friends.”
More people appeared with spears and surrounded us.
“My son asked you to release the Lou,” Dad said. Then we all got our weapons ready. “I suggest you listen to him . . . while we’re all still friends.”
“I see,” Mayor Joseph said, then clapped his hands.
Everyone with spears pressed buttons on the side of them and the blades began sparkling with electricity.
“Electrical weapons,” Mayor Joseph said. “Not much use against devil fish. But I’m sure they’ll be more effective on you.”
They advanced on us.
“Nature always haves winners and losers,” Mayor Joseph continued. “Last chance to choose sides.”
“Ok, I’m confused,” Mom said. “Which side do you think you’re on, ’cause we’ll take the opposite.”
We smiled at that. But that just seemed to make the people mad.
“Fire!” Mayor Joseph said.
Electricity shot out of their spears, but Raylee was quick. She summoned a force field around us, keeping the electricity from getting through. Then the fighting began.
We just kept knocking them away, one after another. One guy slashed down his spear at me from behind, but I sensed it and deflected it with the claw.
“I can’t believe you even tried that,” I told him.
“And I can’t believe you’re fighting electric weapons with a metal stick,” he retorted.
To prove what he meant, the electricity from his spear seeped down it and when it came into contact with the claw, it shocked it and me, and I stumbled back.
Sarah hi-jump-kicked the guy away from me.
More guys came at us, some of them even had tasers, but we were able to fight them back.
We heard some explosions all around us and we noticed Doyle throwing grenades at some of the buildings. I was glad to see him, even Sarah seemed to be as well.
“Well, I guess that proves he has somewhat of a heart,” she said.
He landed next to us.
“Doyle!” I said.
“What do you need, miniman?” he asked.
“Get me to the boat. Somebody’s waited long enough for a family reunion.”
He picked me up and we flew toward the boat. Sarah followed close behind, leaving both of our families to continue the fight without us. Once we got to the boat, I used the claw to cut the ropes off around the catfishes. Then I activated my powers, getting a connection to them.
“Let’s go see momma,” I said.
I took a deep breath and Sarah and I jumped into the water.
We noticed a big catfish in a container-like cage and swam to it, with the other catfishes following. There was some kind of door on the side of the contained and me and Sarah opened it.
The mother catfish wrapped its whiskers around us. At first, I thought she was going to eat us, but then I realized that she was just thanking us.
Sarah and I smiled. We grabbed each other’s hand and swam back to the surface.
“Everybody out of the water!” I called.
We climbed back onto the dock. And as soon as we did, the catfishes sent an electric shock all across the city. Then they began destroying the buildings.
“Come on, people,” Mom said. “Time to evacuate!”
They ran to the boats and we were escorting them all onto them. Then we got on ourselves and moved away while watching the catfishes destroy what was left of their city.
“Looks like there won’t be a Sanctuary III,” I said.
“No,” Mayor Joseph said. “We can . . . we’ll rebuild. We—we still have the money from—”
“Hey, I got you the fish,” Doyle said.
The mayor frowned.
My parents let the people get on the airship to help them find some other place to live. They were all in the back while the rest of us were in the control room.
Raylee had whistled her pets back from hunting. Apparently, their super hearing reaches farther than people who have super hearing themselves. Probably because they had better hearing before anyway.
“Think it’s safe having them on the airship?” I asked.
“Their city just got destroyed,” Dad said. “If it were me, I’d be grateful for a ride back to civilization. A chance to figure out how to start over the right way.”
Raylee sighed heavily. “I suppose you’re right.”
“Uh, hey, so speaking of starting over,” Doyle said. “I shouldn’t have left you guys alone back—”
“I’m sorry,” Dad said to him, which surprised all of us, even Doyle himself.
“Uh, I’m pretty new at apologizing, but is this how it’s suppose to work?” he asked.
“I’ve been giving you a hard time since we met. And it’s time I stopped. As much as I disagree with your methods, your mercenary lifestyle, the way you leave half-eaten nachos on my carpet—”
“Ok, now this really isn’t how it’s suppose to work,” Mom interrupted.
“You’re family,” Dad continued. “And if you wanna come back, we could use the help.”
“Doyle’s coming back!” I cheered.
“Whoa, whoa, hey. Put the party on hold, miniman,” he said. “I’m not coming back.”
“But . . .”
“I appreciate the offer, I really do, but I’m kinda getting used to running my own show. Turns out I like my alone time. That and all the filthy corrupting money.”
“Yeah, you would,” Raylee agreed.
“I’ll see you around, family. Oh, and miniman, gorilla cat, don’t think I forgot about your cut of the bounty money. I’ll send you guys a motorcycle or something.”
And he left the room.
“Yes!” I said.
But my mom didn’t like it.
“Hey, hey, no,” Mom said to Doyle through the intercom to outside. “You are not giving an eleven-year-old a motorcycle.”
He appeared in front of the window, flying on his jetpack. “I said ‘or something’. By the way, Zak. What size jetpack do you wear?”
Before I could reply, he flew off. I thought that was almost as good as a motorcycle, but my parents didn’t think it was any better.
“Hey, what about my cut?” Sarah asked.
“Do you care?” Zack asked.
“No, not really. I just didn’t want him to leave me out, since I was there.”
“Well, at least he’s starting to change for the better,” Raylee said. “But he’s still got a long way to go.”
My parents nodded in agreement.
We dropped off the people in some other country in Africa, then we headed home.
Well, I hope you guys liked this chapter.
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- Doyle Blackwell
- Mayor Joseph
- Fiskerton Saturday
- Komodo Saturday
- Zon Saturday
- Pikachu Hollinger
- Shillow Hollinger
- Amber Hollinger
- Kimbia Hollinger
- Chewie Hollinger
- Toto Hollinger
- Kika Hollinger
- Honey Hollinger