Hell Town RV Park
For Those Who Believe in Other Worlds
by Clara Bush
Artwork by Lara Clayton
(To start from the beginning with Episode 1 click here.)
(Rated Mature for Adult content)
(Last Time on the Hell Town Web Serial:
Dry sage rustled behind Piper, she crouched in a defensive stance, and pivoted to find Chick and her crew of strangeness approaching. She recognized immediately it was the woman she’d called an angel. Her silver hair matched her silver eyes. And the woman’s indigo tattoos matched hers. She touched Chick’s cheek, outlining the tat with her fingertips. “You’re beautiful,” Piper murmured.
Chick looked into Piper’s eyes. A sparkle, clear as a raindrop, and warmth radiated from the warrior’s eyes. She cupped Piper’s cheek in the palm of her hand. “So are you, my daughter. I’ve waited patiently for the day I might come face to face with you. And lived every minute longing to hold you in my arms, but knowing I might never. Wondering who you would favor. Me or your father.”)
Stranger Earths: Origins
“Your daughter? How? My mother—”
“Your Earth mother was deceived by the man I fell in love with—your father—into believing you were her child. He was an intern in the hospital where she was rushed to the emergency room to deliver. There were complications. She was sedated and while she slept her infant died. My lover replaced her dead child with you. No one ever knew except for him and me. We did this to keep you safe. And to secure your safety, your father and I agreed to never make contact. Instead, I came to this Earth to live until I could return home to my world.”
Piper pulled away from Chick, shaking her head from side to side as if the motion might pull everything into perspective. “This can’t be true. None of it.” She stiffened her shoulders and then let them drop. “How can it be? This makes no sense. I have a mother. A good mother. Different from me. But still, a good mother.”
“You have a mother who raised you, cared for you, and, no doubt, loved you. And you have me. The mother who carried you inside her body. The mother who gave life to you and who has longed for you every second of each day,” Chick said.
Piper stared at the ground, trying to purge the knowledge with each resistive twist of her head. “No, no. This can’t be. Why couldn’t you keep me? Why couldn’t I know my father?”
Chick took Piper’s hand in hers. “I met your father when I was on his world. My kind—your kind—The Starlings sent me to his world to steal something. We fell in love, which was forbidden. He helped me escape to Gate World—you call it Earth—he cared for me until you were born. Then, for your safety, we departed. Not only did I lose my daughter, but I lost the only person I will ever love.”
Piper crumbled to her knees. Leo rushed to her side and cradled her. “Can you believe what you are hearing, Leo? These people are insane. They talk as if there are other worlds. Other Earths. She says she is my mother. And our birthmarks do match but… They say you are an alien species.” She sobbed. “Can we go? We need to go. I want to go home.” Leo hugged her to him.
Hexer, Kappa, River holding the Rooi, and Guy, with his snake-like tongue wagging, spaced themselves around the arch in a semi-circle. Spooky, Aron, and Ransome guarded the entrance to the portal. All bases were covered. There was nowhere for the couple to run.
Chick’s crew witnessed Leo’s tenderness and affection toward Piper, but didn’t understand. Chick did, however. Spooky and Aron were moved by his devotion toward Piper.
In silence, with only an exchange of glances, the gathering acknowledged Leo might be the only one Piper would listen to. Chick motioned and all took a step back, but not too far. She nodded at Leo.
He began. “Yes, I will take you home. But first you must hear what I have to say. Back on our Earth, I cannot tell you these things without risking your safety as well as mine. There are things you don’t know about me. There are other worlds. And there are other dimensions of what you call Earth. And there are creatures, unknown to mankind, who inhabit these other worlds. Your kind buried and then forgot these universal secrets centuries ago. Secrets the rest of us have been privy to—since the beginnings of time. Humans are primitive compared to the other species who inhabit the outerworlds.”
Piper raised her face to him. “What are you saying?”
He smoothed away the tears from her cheeks. “Seeing and hearing your mother—your real mother—I now understand all of it. My desire for you. My love for you. There is a reason.”
She composed herself. “Even if you are what they say you are, I’m not afraid of you. Or of our love.”
It had been a long time since any of the Gate World army had been in the presence of young love. Young love that is in one instant, glorious and overwhelming. And in the next, devastating and heartbreaking. But they all could remember. They remained quiet and allowed Leo to explain.
“What is it you now understand?” Piper coaxed.
Leo pointed to Chick. “If this woman is truly your mother, and I’m inclined to believe she is since her tattoos match yours. These markings, these birthmarks, indicate she is a Starling. And so then are you. The Starlings are also known as the Timekeepers on my world. My father often told me legends about the Starlings of Key World and about their incredible beauty and gift to control time. But I had never met one. I am of Times Three ancestry. We inhabit the lush world known as Ternion. But I have never been there. I was born to a human woman on our earth. A woman my father chose. She died giving birth to me. My Times Three’s bloodline dominates and is solidly affixed to my genetics. As is your Starling blood.
“It’s been a myth among earth-bound Timerees, and told throughout the centuries, that Starlings and Times Threes are physically and emotionally drawn to each other. Like uh…uh…a carving. Like true soulmates—to use Earth terminology. The passion between a Starling and Timeree is often described as primal, verging on obsession.
“None of us ever believed the myth, but they were fun to tell. Many of us even fantasized meeting a Starling and falling in love.” He looked away for a second and then returned as if remembering something significant from his past. “We fantasized about a kind of love we’d never know with another Times Three. A full-blown, knock-your-socks-off, kinda love. The kind I’ve found with you.” He kissed her forehead. “Another legend we were told was of a Starling who traveled to Ternion and stole our Shimmer—”
Piper gasped. “You know about my Shimmer?”
Leo bowed his head for a moment. “Yes, but it’s the Times Three Shimmer, not yours. I’m guessing your father was a Times Three who fell in love with the Starling sent to steal our Shimmer. I’m guessing that woman is your Starling mother.” Leo looked at Chick.
Chick nodded and explained, “That’s the reason the Ternion Shimmer sought you out and attached itself to you. It read your father’s Times Three DNA in you.”
“But why would you steal something that doesn’t belong to you?” Piper asked.
“To keep you, Gate World, and all Worlds safe from total destruction. It was our only chance at survival. Your father helped me steal the Ternion Shimmer. He then devised an escape for me, Rooi, and Kappa.” Chick touched Creeper’s head and then the child’s to introduce them in her own quiet way.
“They accompanied me on my mission.” Chick continued. “The Rooi are capable of transporting entities from one world to another. That was how we managed to escape with the Ternion Shimmer. But when we arrived on this Earth, near where we hid Gate World’s Shimmer, the life force between the two Shimmers created a Dynamic Energy Field. We didn’t know this would happen, because no species had ever attempted to steal another world’s Shimmer. There was no need before. The close proximity of the two forces created a cataclysmic energy. Had the Ternion Shimmer remained in this dimension, all of Gate World would have been destroyed. Instead, it vanished into the portal to save this Earth. That is when it found you. It recognized your DNA and believed it belonged to you.”
Spooky watched as the color drained from Piper’s face. But noticed, though white and vacant, her features harnessed a dreamy far away daze. And in that daze, Piper whispered, “My Shimmer is a living thing. I knew it. And it belongs to me.” She turned to leap back through the portal.
Leo grabbed her arm. “No, Piper. You are not thinking right. No single individual owns a Shimmer. Each belongs to its own designated world and to that species. Your mother was wrong to steal it.”
Piper stormed away from him. From the group. And turned and confronted them, combative in stance and glare. “Why have you done this? Why? I don’t believe any of you. I will take my Shimmer and run. We will hide. None of you will ever see us again.”
Spooky approached her. “You sound as defiant as my daughter. To hell with everyone. I like that. And I know where you’re coming from. Like you, I’m new to all this bizarre stuff—other worlds, species other than humans, earthly dimensions. And believe me when I found out, I wanted to run. Escape this responsibility that’s been placed on us. We didn’t ask for it, right?”
“Why didn’t you run?”
“My grandson is due in a couple of months. I may never get to hold him. Or see him, for that matter, if I go through with this mission. But at least I’ll die knowing I tried to make Earth safe for him. Tried to assure a future for him and the human race,” Spooky said.
“We’re gonna die?” Piper asked.
“We could,” Spooky said frankly. “There is a violent species, called the Vrag, that has made it their objective to destroy all the other worlds. Your Shimmer, as you call it, and the Shimmer hidden here on my Earth are the only two things keeping the Vrag from invading Gate World and destroying all we have here. Your boyfriend’s kind have sided with the Vrag. The reason your mother had to steal the Ternion Shimmer.”
“Leo, is that true?”
Leo inched closer to the portal. “You don’t understand.”
Aron stepped in front of the arch and drew his pistol. “Stay where you are, sonny.”
“What don’t I understand?” Piper asked, confronting Leo.
Leo’s face reddened. He doubled up his fists. “The Vrag have destroyed all the worlds. Even their own. They are mindless beasts controlled by a soulless mainframe. They murder and devour. That’s all they know. They keep some Starlings alive to manipulate time. They allow the Rooi to breed as a source of food. We Timerees agreed to cooperate with the Vrag if they allowed us to live. So we have. It’s not wrong we tried to save ourselves.”
Hexer barreled to the front. His red eyes flashed. “You cowards. It’s wrong if you sacrifice all of us to keep yourselves safe instead of helping us to defeat the Vrag.” He jabbed Leo in the chest with his palm. “And are you Times Threes so stupid you think the Vrag will let you live once they have what they want?” He glared at Piper. “That’s the reason your father helped my daughter escape with the Ternion Shimmer. He knew siding with the Vrag was perverse. And that siding with the them, though it might buy them some time, would end in the eventual death of Ternion World and all Timerees.”
Piper’s face changed from an angry perplexity to an inquiring expression as she studied Hexer. And as if reading her mind, Hexer said, “Yes, little one, I am your grandfather. I have dreamed of you many nights.” He bowed. “I am doyen of the Imperial League of Starling Scouts. You will be royalty on your home world, Key World, once we return.”
Piper turned her back on the group and looked at the moon for answers. Her shoulders shook as she cried. Then suddenly she rubbed away her tears with the back of her hand and began to pace. First toward her mother, then in an about-face, she went to Leo. “Is the only reason you’re with me because of my Shimmer?”
Leo placed his hands on her shoulders. “I want you to listen to me. I want you to understand. At first, I tried to gain your confidence, hoping you would tell me about the Shimmer. But then after I was with you, I fell in love with you. I didn’t know why or how. I couldn’t explain it. All I knew was that I wanted to be with you every second of the day. I’d never felt that way about anyone.” He tried to get her to look him in the eyes, but she turned her face from him. He shook her. “Understand? Do you believe me?”
Piper offered no response. He pulled her to his chest and wrapped his arms around her. He whispered, “They can’t keep us here. We can go back. I can code my DNA into the Ternion Shimmer and return it to my world where it rightfully belongs.”
Piper twisted out of his grasp and pulled away. She stomped the parched earth. “What then, Leo? We live happily ever after?”
“Yes! Yes. Now you see. Once I return the Ternion Shimmer, I will rule Gate World with you by my side.” Leo nodded toward Hexer. “He might offer you royal bloodlines in a dying world. I will give you the power of an empress.”
Piper placed the back of her hand to her forehead in pretense of a swoon. “Ah. Ah. I feel so lightheaded.” When Aron moved to catch her, she shoved him aside and grabbed Leo’s hand. She tumbled backwards into the opening of the portal, dragging Leo with her as she went.
Gate World’s army gathered around the arch and stared into the unknown. “Ummm,” Spooky moaned, “that went well, don’t you think?” But no one thought it funny.
To continue reading the Hell Town Web Serial, click on the link below.
(NOTE: Please forgive the delayed posts. I underwent emergency abdominal surgery after the New Year and am finding it a struggle to get back on my feet. Hopefully, I am on the mend now, and will be finishing up Spooky’s journey before summer. Then we will be on to my newest web serial: White Owl Dancing. Thank you for your concern and support.)
The WEB SERIAL, or WTH is it?
With the onset of the technology boom, authors are discovering innovative ways to get their works in front of readers. However, though the web serial relies on the internet for distribution, it is not a new idea. It’s much like how writers became known before the days of mass-produced, full-length novels. Earlier writers, such as Mark Twain, released a chapter at a time, on a regular basis, in newspapers or magazines. This is the same concept as the Web Serial. Writers publish their works in bite-sized, one-sitting reads to facilitate the hurried reader. The web helps to make it easily accessible to the writer’s fan base.
Hell Town offers episodes of 1,000 to 3,000 words in length and is considered a tightly cohesive style of web serial. This type intertwines episodes with each other and depends on the reader being familiar with the story. It is meant to be read as one might read a book.
About the Artist
Lara resides in the Texas hill country with her two adorable but exhausting little boys, her husband, and two male dogs. She confesses her life is dominated by male influence.
She graduated from Trinity University in 2009 with her Bachelor’s degree in art and with an art history minor. During her life, she has worn many hats—bartender, barista, massage therapist, newspaper circulation manager, wine shop manager, and the list continues. These life experiences have added a richness and depth to her artwork.
Lara is on her way to accomplishing her dream of becoming a freelance artist. The illustrations are Lara’s original artwork and are created specifically for Hell Town.
We both would love your feedback. And if you are looking for an artist, Lara is available.