Hell Town RV Park
For Those Who Believe in Other Worlds
by Clara Bush
Artwork by Lara Clayton
(To start at the beginning with Episode 1 click here.)
(Rated Mature for Adult content)
(Last Time on Hell Town: Birds fled. Insects and rodents scurried for safety. Chick and Kappa ran toward the lookout, barely escaping falling trees. Guy came rushing from the jungle and joined them. Piper pointed at the desperate refugees and screamed. Spooky forgot about the wobbly stairway and darted down, taking two steps at a time with Hexer close behind. She kicked the secured baluster aside and unbolted the lock. The three dove in. Panting. Sweating.
Aron, as his wolf, charged the Vrag’s unraveling tentacle. His powerful jaw clamped down. “Aron,” Spooky screamed.
Hexer threw Spooky out of the way, slammed and locked the door just as another one of the creature’s tentacles pounded against it with a deafening thud.
“Aron,” she cried. A yelp, like an injured dog, answered.
Leo and Piper stood midway on the staircase, holding onto each other and shaking so hard it put the stairs in motion. Piper pressed a finger to her lips. “Shhhhh. They’re all around us,” she whispered.)
Other Worlds: What’s Love…
The pounding continued. The loud thud…thud…THUD grew more intense, with each of the Vrag’s attempts to gain entry, and paired with the creatures penetrating shrieks. Piper and River covered their ears, attempting to maintain some measure of sanity and counter the bedlam being blasted at them.
Kappa and Guy dropped on all fours, to the floor of the abandoned lookout, gasping desperately for air after their near miss. Chick stood composed, as usual, except for her wild hair, which now lay in wet strands along her sweat-soaked, flushed cheeks.
“Aron?” Spooky demanded of Chick, who merely shook her head. Spooky darted to the door. She must help her brother.
Hexer barred her exit and growled, “No. You will not. You’re unprepared and—”
Guy rested his hand on Spooky’s shoulder. “Let me go,” he hissed. And before her eyes, Guy slithered into a snake twice the size of a King Cobra. Its head flared with the iconic hood. But unlike the Cobra, it was colored with black bands and green crossbands instead of yellow. Guy’s jacket and sweatpants lay in a heap—inert and useless—at the tip of its tail.
Piper scrambled down the stairs and approached the snake. She knelt. “Please…” Her words trailed off as if searching for what to say next. With some difficulty, and darting glances toward Leo, she whispered, “Please, come back.” The snake rested his head on her knee for a moment. Its tongue skimmed across her wrist a couple of times, like kisses. It then glided to the exit.
After the next thud, Hexer opened the door wide enough for the snake to slink out and go undetected by the Vrag. A feat not easily accomplished had it been a person.
Leo grabbed Piper’s arm and spun her around. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? It’s an abomination. It’s not normal. You making all cozy with a snake.”
Piper pushed him away. “At least he has balls enough to try to help. Unlike you. You don’t care if Earth and the human race are destroyed as long as you get your power.”
“That’s not true.” He protested. “What would you have me do? Get killed. Would I be worthy then? I have no skills. I’ve never fought the Vrag.”
“Kids,” Spooky shouted. “Bicker on your on time. Not now. We need each other. What Guy brings to the table is different from what Leo may be able to provide. We don’t know. For some reason, our army of misfits has been brought together to accomplish the impossible. We must believe some higher power in the universe chose us for a reason. I refuse to think us being here is some random coincidence.”
“Nice speech, Spooky,” Shayd murmured in her head. “And you’re right. The Avenir always have a reason for those they choose.”
Spooky’s internal conversation with Shayd came to an abrupt end when a Vrag wailed once, and the earth beneath them shook. All went silent. No more thuds. No more grueling roars and howls. Only a knock on the door.
“It’s me,” Guy said. “Open, hurry.”
As quickly as Spooky could, she kicked the baluster out of the way and unlatched the door. The Vrag sprawled dead twenty feet from the entrance. Its deadly tentacles stretched in all directions in putrefied demise. Gray-green matter bled out and soaked the ground.
Guy stood before her—his nakedness concealed by the wolf who lay limp in his arms. His bare chest revealed his extensive upper body strength. His biceps and pecs bulged with the weight of the massive wolf, which Spooky observed didn’t go unnoticed by Piper. Or Chick.
Guy placed him on the blanket. River rested the animal’s head in her lap, covered his body with the other blanket, and stroked his ears. “It’s alright. You’re home now.” The wolf whimpered. Licked the child. His eyes flitted open, then closed.
Spooky bent over her brother. “Aron. Aron.” Her hand searched the length of his body for wounds as she considered River’s strange choice of words. Home. A child’s notion of home. Among these misfits, River felt loved. And because of this love, to her, this was home.
Aron breathed in deeply and sighed. His transformation began within seconds. First, with his powerful forefoot, which returned to the recognizable nub it was. The disappearing patches of fur on his chest appeared burnt and frayed. Almost inaudible, he said, “I’ll be okay in a bit.”
“Are you in pain? Is there anything we can do?” Spooky asked.
“Just give me a little time to heal,” he said. “When I attacked the Vrag it spit some nasty shit on me.”
“It’s secretions destroy skin tissue.” Hexer ran his hand over the remaining fur on Aron’s body. “Good thing you went wolf on the Vrag. You may be one of our most powerful defenses. Your fur seems to have acted like a barrier, protecting your skin underneath, and repelling the toxins. Unlike the fur on the big cats we saw the Vrag eat, Aron’s wolf fur is thicker and coarser.” He felt the fur on Creeper’s back. “Even much different than the Rooi’s fur. Interesting.”
Aron raised up on an elbow. “Thank you, Guy. You saved my life.”
Guy was back in his hoodie and sweatpants, he hissed what looked like a smile. “Ransome had already pulled you to a safer location. He led me right to you.”
“Ransome? Ransome? Here boy,” Aron called.
“He wasn’t with you when Guy brought you in,” said Kappa.
“Check for him please,” Aron urged, still weak.
Spooky listened at the door. She heard nothing except for the condor birds. A good sign. She cracked the door enough to peer out. Ransome lay beneath the shade of a large leaf. She slapped her leg for the dog to come. He dashed in like a bottle rocket ignited.
She took a quick look at the surrounding jungle before shutting the door. Insects, resembling flies, but the size of a small frog, swarmed the corpse but…“No sign of the Vrag. Piper didn’t you say we were surrounded?”
“Yes, they were all around us,” Piper said. “We could see them from the upstairs deck.”
Hexer paced and verbalized his thoughts. “They smelled the death of one of their own and retreated. Rarely, are the Vrag killed. The scent was new to them. And I’m assuming…scared them off. A dead Vrag at our door may act as deterrent to others.”
Ransome licked Aron’s face. Then River’s. Then Aron’s again. His tail working the entire time like a flag in high winds.
Piper placed her hand on Guy’s arm. “How did you do it? How did you kill the Vrag?”
In the background, Leo seethed. This jealousy might be a good thing, Spooky thought. If Leo cares for Piper as much as he says he does, perhaps he’ll do the right thing to show her how much she can depend on him not to be so self-centered. Perhaps.
Guy did not withdraw his gaze from Piper’s face. Instead, there it remained, attracted first to her hair, then her mouth, and finally, her eyes where he lingered as if spellbound. He puffed out his chest. “My bite delivers enough neurotoxins to kill what you call an elephant on Earth. On Boon World I never needed its potency. I figured I’d test it out on the Vrag. I wasn’t sure it would work.”
Piper smiled as she allowed her hand to descend the length of his arm in a gentle caressing gesture. “I’m so glad it worked. Thank you for saving us.” She leaned in and kissed his cheek. He bowed his head. His scales glistened as if he were blushing.
Humble too, Spooky concluded. She was beginning to see the makings of an army. With Aron’s furry defense, Chick’s warrior training, and Guy’s deadly bite, they might, just might, have a chance. “We need a plan. Chick, did you and Kappa learn anything we can use?”
“As a matter of fact, there may be a way we can defeat the Vrag. It will be difficult and take someone with advanced skills in technology.” She studied each of the misfits until her focus settled on Leo. “Did you know the Ingenium moved their homecraft to Ternion World?”
The clueless expression on Leo’s face answered her question. Still he elaborated. “No. No. I had no idea. I’ve never even been to my home world until now. Nor did my father ever share anything about Ternion except those myths he wanted me to ingest as lessons to learn and mistakes not to be made.” He directed the next comment at Piper. “Like falling in love with an earthling.”
Guy turned away from Piper. She placed her hands on her hips. “Really, Leo. Now? When our impending doom may come at any minute. Now, you profess your love for me?”
Leo came to Piper’s side and took her hand in his. “If Chick’s plan is what I think it is, I may not get another chance. So, yes. In fact, hell yes, I love you. I thought you loved me too.”
“And you would tell this to your father? You would defy his wishes for me?” Piper asked.
“I would if it meant saving you. If it meant you were mine,” he said.
“What about everyone else? Would you defy him to save all of us?”
Leo dropped her hand and plopped down on the bottom tread of the staircase. He buried his head in his hands.
Spooky approached him. “Leo, we know it would be hard to go against your father, but if you are the type of person Piper thinks you are, I think it would be harder to live with yourself knowing you could have prevented the deaths of billions of innocents and the destruction of the worlds.”
Leo shook his head. “It goes against everything I’ve been raised to believe.”
“You mean, you weren’t raised to know right from wrong?” Piper huffed. “Good thing I found out now.” She looked at Chick. “I know a good deal about technology. I plan on studying computer programming at a tech school when I graduate. That is, if I ever get back home. I’m pretty good at hacking already. I have…had a rad computer teacher. He gave a few of us, those he considered had potential, intense tutorials. But in this rather primitive place, why are computer skills needed?”
“You can only see the jungles of Ternion from here. The Timerees settlements are highly advanced…were highly advanced, I should say. It’s how they managed to infiltrate Gate World Alpha so easily,” Chick said. “Kappa and I weren’t able to scout the closest settlement before we were detected by a Vrag, but something seemed off.”
“Off? How?” Hexer asked.
Chick’s tormented expression was out of character for the warrior. “I’m not sure until we get a closer look, but we couldn’t see any sign of life other than the Vrag. The settlement appeared…” She considered her next word as she stared at Leo. “Dead. We were unable to locate any of our friends who helped us escape with the Shimmer. Instead, we saw this elaborate pyramid structure towering above the city.”
“Knowing computer programming and networking helps us how?” Piper asked.
“My guess, the pyramid is the Ingenium homecraft, meaning they have relocated to Ternion. And if this is true, it houses the mainframe that controls the Vrag. Maybe you could do something to destroy the mainframe putting an end to the Vrag and—” Chick was hesitant to finish.
But Spooky had already figured it out. “And the Ingenium.”
“Yes,” Chick said. “We would be putting two species into extinction.”
“And I vote we don’t place them on the endangered species list either. Just get rid of them all. Eliminate any future threats.” Spooky couldn’t believe she was saying this. She’d always been a peacemaker as opposed to a warrior. But to ensure Dovie’s and her grandson’s safety plus the survival of the human race, she’d say what everyone was thinking.
Hexer turned his back on the group.
“What, you don’t agree? Don’t tell me you weren’t thinking the same thing,” Spooky insisted.
“Even if I was, you are condoning genocide. As doyen of the League of Starling Scouts, I took a vow to observe but bring no harm to other species. And to never interfere.”
“So what, I’m the bad guy here?”
Next Episode Planned for May 23, 2019
The Web Serial
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.