Hell Town RV Park
For Those Who Believe in Other Worlds
by Clara Bush
Artwork by Lara Clayton
Part Three: The Hidden
(To start at the beginning with Episode 1 click here.)
(Rated Mature for Adult content)
(Last Time on Hell Town: Clouds of mist waved from the hot earth and hid insects within its veil. Yet the bugs’ hungry buzz around the carcasses prevailed in an annoying reminder that death hunted in the hidden like a starved animal.
The two women walked back to the lookout. Their arms wrapped around each other’s waist.
Piper was in Guy’s bare-chested embrace, crying. “How could he? How could Leo turn on us for his father? I trusted him. And I was beginning to believe his sincerity. I thought he was on our side.”
Guy glared at Leo, who shuddered in the shadows of the stairs, and tightened his hold on Piper. “Trust with your heart. Your head tries to balance what should be with what is and can be deceived. But your heart knows.”
Aron sat up and looked at Spooky—her face covered in sweat, dirt, and scratches. Her clothes—one big smudge of grime, green, and blood. He grinned. “What did I miss?”)
Ternion World: Conflicted
Spooky broke away from Chick. “What did you miss? What did you miss? Seriously? While you were napping, Trubel showed up. He got to Dovie.”
Aron’s grin vanished. He lowered his head. “Is she okay?”
Spooky shook her head. “I don’t know. Leo’s asshole father escaped before I could get an answer.” She glared at Leo. “What’s with you? I was trying to save your life. Next time I tell you to do something—”
“Next time?” Chick raised Leo’s chin with the edge of her axe. “There won’t be a next time. We can’t trust him. The best thing we can do is use him as Vrag bait.”
Piper shoved the axe away from Leo’s face. “He’s not my favorite person at the moment, but two minutes ago you were all worried about the genocide of two species, and now you want to sacrifice one of us?”
Chick backed away. “You’re right. But we can no longer trust him. The Timerees have indoctrinated him too well.”
“I was just scared. With the type of power my father possesses, you’d have done the same thing. And I promise, I will never do something like that again,” Leo said. “I’m on your side. You can trust me.”
Chick studied the kid as if he were an insect and she had to decide whether to free or smash him. “He can’t be trusted. With me, a person gets only one chance to prove his loyalty and you failed.” She pulled a rope from a pack around her waist and tied Leo to the center column of the staircase.
“You can’t leave me like this. You won’t will you?” Leo protested.
“It depends,” Chick said.
“If the Vrag come, I’ll be defenseless. If my father comes, he’ll kill me, and I won’t even have a fighting chance.”
Chick eyed her father for an opinion.
“Leave him tied for now until we have a plan,” Hexer said. “We have something Trubel wants. We can use him as leverage.”
Spooky glanced at Hexer. “How did Trubel know about my daughter?”
Leo shouted, “I told you, my dad is powerful on Gate World as well as Ternion. It would have taken little effort on his part to gather as much information as he needed about you and your family.”
“But how was Dovie able to grant him access to Gate World’s Shimmer?” Spooky asked. “And does that now make it so Trubel can send a butt load of Vrag to Earth?”
Chick hung her head. “I coded in your DNA when I knew you were the one to help us. And as you know, you and your daughter share DNA. Once Trubel located your daughter, he had all he needed.”
“Is there any of you rebels left on Earth to decode my DNA, so he can’t send the Vrag?” Spooky asked.
“The Rooi could return and do it, but that means if we had to make a quick escape, you’d be left here on Ternion until we could re-program your code. Which would give the Vrag a window of opportunity to follow and invade Gate World.”
Spooky was up and began pacing the circular confines of the lookout at a rate that made her cargo pants whish. Thoughts of: never returning, never seeing Dovie or her grandson, being trapped on a strange world for the rest of her life—twisted in her aching brain like mangled roots. More so even than the thought of being eaten by a Vrag. And if it came to being left behind or eaten, she’d choose the latter for sure.
But still, she had to keep Earth free of the Vrag. She turned sharply toward Chick. “Do it. Send Creeper to Earth to negate my DNA. Do it now before I change my mind.”
Chick gave her the are-you-sure look.
“Yes. Do it,” Spooky confirmed. “Where is the Ternion Shimmer, anyway? I haven’t seen it since we arrived.”
“I hid it when Kappa and I went out scouting,” Chick said. “Only he and I know where it is. And that’s how it needs to stay in case any of us get captured. They would torture us to find out its location. I’ve ordered Kappa to avoid danger so if something happens to me, the others will be able to escape back to Gate World. The glitch, however, is that now the Shimmer has Trubel’s DNA—”
“And the Shimmer spit him out here, so he now knows where it is too?” Spooky asked.
Chick nodded, “Maybe.”
Piper approached. “My Shimmer is smart. If it sensed danger from Trubel, it would’ve found another hiding place.”
“Yes, the Shimmers are intuitively geniuses. And I’m hoping it did find another hiding spot. And I’m also hoping it will find Piper or me when we need it. My daughter and I are the ones it seems to be closest to.”
“It has always found me before,” Piper assured. “Especially, when I needed it.”
Creeper clawed at Chick’s leg. She picked him up and handed him to Spooky. The animal nudged Spooky’s cheek with his cold, wet nose, and then licked her.
Chick leaned in close, gathering him in her arms, and placed her forehead to his. She hummed in shorts and longs, and in starts and stops, like an archaic Morse code, communicating with the Rooi in its own unique way. She returned him to the floor. His body quivered, pulsing to the low, soft croon of its own voice. Then poof, Creeper vanished before their eyes.
Spooky rubbed her foot over the spot she’d last seen him, and a metaphoric notion flitted about in her thoughts. Her action she likened to the snubbing out of herself from existence on Earth. What had she done? She could never return unless the Ingenium and Vrag were destroyed. And what about the Timerees? If Trubel and Leo were indicative of the Timerees’ greed for power, would they stop trying to gain control of the Earths once the Vrag and Ingenium were gone?
There were no answers. She’d done what she’d done. Now all she could do was move forward, and hope one day she somehow managed to see Dovie again and meet her grandson. As for Brodie, he’d be okay. He never seemed to need, or love, her. For the most part, he treated her as if she were no more than an inconvenience.
The rain ceased its delicate song of pitter-patter on glossy leaves, damp earth, and the tin roof protecting the army, minus one. With the sun’s appearance, the air inside the lookout became suffocating and rancid, amplifying the need in Spooky to form a plan with her crew. A clap of distant thunder, intensified the pounding in her head.
She peeked out the door and took in a lung full of clean air. Her head cleared. She fought with the first steps needed to bring down the Ingenium and Vrag. What should they be? “Chick, join me for a minute?”
Once outside, Spooky led Chick away from the lookout. “We need to meet out here so Leo doesn’t overhear our plan.”
“You’re confident the structure you saw is the Ingenium homecraft?” Spooky asked.
“I won’t know for sure until I get a closer look, but I can’t think of anything else it could be. It wasn’t there when I stole the Shimmer from this world,” Chick said.
“We can’t really make a plan until you scout it out. Take Aron and see what you can find.”
Aron was already advancing. “I heard. I’ll tag along as my wolf. I’ll be able to get into places others can’t.”
“Me, too,” shouted Guy from the opened door. “Snakes can wiggle into corners not even wolves can.”
“That leaves us with no one to do any real damage if the Vrag or Trubel come back.” Spooky spun the cylinder of her gun and reloaded. “Hurry, please. We’ll stay out of sight until you return. And for all our sakes, please stay safe.”
“Ransome here, boy,” Aron called. He knelt, took the dog’s head in his hands, and made eye contact. After a few seconds, he released him and looked at Spooky. “He’ll stay and help out. Tell the others he’ll only take commands from you.”
The three scurried into the dense foliage—the warrior, the wolf, and the snake—and within seconds became invisible to Spooky. Except for the movement of the underbrush as they passed, no one would have ever known she’d lost her three best warriors to the heavy green.
“Please, please bring them back safely,” she murmured to herself—in the only way she knew how to pray—and patted Ransome’s head.
She pivoted toward the lookout but didn’t want to return to the stuffy safehouse, nor did she wish to face the remainder of her army.
She was about to escape into the jungle when Hexer shouted, “You’re not running away, are you?”
“Nope. Just need some air.”
Hexer closed the door behind him and advanced. “Where did they go?”
“To find out more about what we’re up against.”
“You should have sent me.”
“I need you here to help me with the kids. Aron can shapeshift into his wolf and Guy can become his snake. Both can get into places you couldn’t.”
“What’s our next move?” Hexer asked.
Spooky shook her head. “I won’t know until they return. Any suggestions?”
Hexer surveyed their surroundings as if some answer might wondrously appear. “My only recommendation is that whatever we do, we do it swiftly and strategically. The longer we wait, the more prone we are to being detected.”
“So fast and deliberate is your suggestion? Um. Could’ve waited all day for that bit of wisdom.”
“Anyone ever tell you you’re ass smart?”
“If you mean, smartass, yeah a couple of times, and I’m always thankful for the compliment.” She smiled.
Hexer mumbled something under his breath.
“What? I couldn’t hear you,” Spooky said.
“You better come inside before the Vrag eat you. Of course, you probably taste like old tough shoes. And they’d no doubt spit you out half-eaten.”
She followed Hexer inside. “And I just bet, half-eaten you’d torture me with your insults instead of putting me out of my misery.”
“Why, we League of Starling Scouts are forbidden to take another’s life, except in self-defense.” He chuckled.
Leo’s head rested between his restrained arms. Piper sat midway on the stairway. “You two come look at this,” she said and darted to the upper level.
Over the tops of trees, amongst the overgrowth of tropical plants, smoke from three fires could be seen. Each fire was an equal distance from the other and formed a triangle.
“What do you think it means?” asked Piper.
“Some type of signal, maybe,” Spooky said and looked at Hexer.
“Yes. I remember my daughter speaking of this. When she was here on Ternion, she communicated with others of the resistance by starting small fires and allowing the smoke to signal a location to meet. I bet in the center of that triangle, we’ll find an ally. I’ll go check it out.”
“No, I should be the one to go,” Spooky insisted.
“Why should it be you?” Hexer asked.
“Because I’m stealthy, not a relic like you,” Spooky said.
Hexer laughed loud enough the preening condor on the closest tree flew in fear.
Spooky punched Hexer in the arm. “Shshsh. You want every Vrag in the area to descend on us?” Seeing his immediate obedience and pout, and loving it, she added, “You’re the opposite of stealthy. More like a smaller, blue-tattooed Hulk.”
Confusion crossed Hexer’s face. Piper giggled. Spooky slapped him on the shoulder. “It’s a good thing. He’s a superhero back on Earth. You stay and keep the kids safe,” Spooky said.
He nodded. “You have your firearm?”
“It’s loaded? Safety off?” Hexer asked.
“Better quit or I’ll think you’re beginning to like me…a little. Besides, Ransome will be with me for protection.”
“Go. And hurry back. Do not approach whoever is at the fires. Just observe. It may be a trick.”
“Hey, who’s the leader here?”
“Me, now that your stealthy self is leaving and will probably be eaten by the Vrag. Don’t worry. I won’t leave the children to come put you out of your misery, old shoes.” He chuckled.
Next episode planned for June 20, 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.