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 in Hell: Hexer asked: “You sure you didn’t wound Trubel?”
“It was hard to tell. I may have. Why?” Spooky replied.
He handed her his dagger smeared with a sticky red substance. “I tested this blood I found. It doesn’t belong to any of ours. If it’d been my daughter’s or her child’s, it would have turned blue.”
“The Mist Children?”
“No. Had it been theirs, the identity serum would have given me a totally different reading. A grayish-orange reaction would have been displayed.”
“Well good. Maybe I did hit the bastard after all, and we’ll run across his body up the way—”
Hexer was already flying through the jungle again before Spooky could finish her sentence. She found it hard to keep up with his pace…and his mind. But she had to.
“Come on Old Shoes,” he yelled back at her. “We’ll never catch up.”)
On Ternion: The Statue from Hell
As Spooky jogged—huffing and puffing—through the downed foliage in an effort to keep up, her thoughts went to Dovie. All this pain would be worth it if she could help make Earth safe for her daughter and grandson. It’ll all be worth it, she repeated over and over as the ache in her side screamed at her to stop, and her body pleaded for water. She must keep going. No time for water. No time for rest.
But she had noticed a container labeled H2O and one labeled FOOD in the backpack. She’d give anything for a sip and one measly cracker. Or two. It would only take a second. Did Times Threes eat crackers? Potato chips? Pretzels? Damn, she was hungry.
Sweat ran from her forehead and into her eyes. It burned like hell and blurred her vision. She’d seen a bandana in the backpack too. And a ball cap. They were in a side pocket. Everything she needed was in the backpack. If only…
She managed to rotate the pack to her front, reached in and located the water. The container had tubing and a mouth piece. She gulped until she felt adequately hydrated. Not completely. But enough. She fumbled for the food. Nope, wasn’t happening unless she stopped. She opted for the cap.
She flipped the pack onto her back again. The cap was similar to the one’s back on Earth, but with a wider and deeper brim. And it was made from a strange, light-weight, olive-colored material. It felt like air in her hand.
She pulled her hair through the back-opening into a ponytail. Aw, relief, she sighed. And she managed to do it all without stopping. Surely, that deserved some type of medal.
However, Hexer was no longer in sight. She guessed she’d lagged a little longer than she thought. But it shouldn’t be hard to catch up. All she had to do was follow the path of destruction the Vrag created.
She looked down and surveyed the trail in front of her for obstacles and details—whatever might remain to guide her. There’s the blood. Hopefully, Trubel’s. The water, the cap, and the thought of injuring Trubel invigorated her. She picked up the pace.
The sun dropped from its apex and was on its journey to evening when Spooky noticed long tree shadows reaching ahead instead of to her right. How much time did she have before dark?
Overgrowth—vines and bushes—grew thinner, less snaring and clawing. The Vrag trail continued forward and over a fallen stone structure directly in her path. It was a statue and at one time had adorned a large decorative pool. Similar to a swimming pool but shallow. A fountain, she decided.
The terrain had changed. Spooky noticed the area where she stood had once been groomed and landscaped. Now, it was an unkempt struggle between progress and decline. The encroaching jungle—once trimmed to keep at bay—now sent thousands of young, green runners along the ground to overtake and to regain a footing.
Spooky no longer heard the condors cawing or wild things etching out an existence amidst the jungle’s sprawling masses. Instead, a subtle humming could be heard. Like. Like. Civilization not primitiveness. The sound was familiar. One she’d expect back on Earth if she were in a big city. One that was alive with advancements. Not in the middle of…
She was here. This had to be the hub of Ternion society. The once technically advanced society, Chick had talked about. But she heard no sounds of traffic. Of people talking or walking. Of anything living.
Rather, the emotionless droning of something not human. Not alive…but machine-like, and it penetrated every fiber of her surroundings.
But where? And where were the others?
The crumbling statue lay at a slant against a hilly berm and created a makeshift ladder. Spooky crawled up its stony body, careful not to make unnecessary noises or movements, and peered over. Several yards from her loomed a domed shaped megastructure. It jutted above the horizon and swallowed everything that had once been. Remains of buildings, towers, and streets escaped from under its massive weight and lolled about it in ruin.
The megastructure stood before her like a gigantic, all-consuming entity. A tribute to a species who believed their way was the only path to salvation. But unlike an entity, who ravages for survival, these self-invented gods destroyed merely because they could.
It glistened as it engulfed the sun. The jungle grew dim and even more silent except for the constant, relentless buzz of an architecture inhabited by something nonhuman. Nonliving. Something artificial, and, thereby, merciless.
The sun’s rays penetrated the outside of the structure and illuminated its inside. The dome was formed from a translucent, smoky substance. Spooky counted a total of ten levels with room after room, row after row of intricate mechanisms.
This is the Ingenium homecraft and their evil mainframe, Spooky was certain. She scooted down the shattered pieces of the statue on her butt, reached back to gain balance and grabbed what she thought was a jutting rock. But its clammy coolness revealed chiseling. What is this? Something had been carved into a large boulder. Her fingers searched and located eyes, a nose, a mouth, and a chin. She looked. “What the f—?” Trubel’s face stared back.
“You old bastard, you. All this time I thought you were some kind of errand boy for the Ternion. But it seems you’ve been much more than that for many years.” She freed a hand-sized rock and smashed off his nose, then plunged the sharp end into one of the eyes. “There you go, asshole. You look better.”
Feeling quite satisfied with her vandalism, she continued her descent, this time climbing down instead of scooting. Once her feet touched the ground, she turned in hopes some of her army had found her. Instead, a darkening jungle yawned back.
For the next couple of hours, Spooky sat and waited. Once when she was horseback riding as a child, she dropped the reins while crossing a creek. She was too young to know what to do, so she stayed. Before long her dad showed up and bragged on her. Told her she done the right thing. “Just stay put if you run into a problem. I’ll always come find you.” It was one of the few times she could remember doing something one of her parents approved of.
She decided staying put was her best option. The Ingenium homecraft was their main objective. Surely, the others would end up here eventually. She wished—a little, but only a little—her dad would find her and rescue her. She needed rescuing. But he’d been dead for over fifteen years.
To pass the time, Spooky drank a bit more water. Tried to identify the food in Mo’s backpack. Gave up and ate it anyway. The substance was in a squeezable container—something other than the common plastic on Earth, more like a fabric coated with a material to prevent the contents from leaking.
She squirted, and oozy green stuff filled her mouth with taste sensations she’d never experienced. But if she had to compare it to something on her world—maybe pears with a sprinkle of feta and cinnamon. Not steak and potatoes but it definitely had potential.
After her meal, she sat idly, trying to regain her strength, but, before long, self-defeating thoughts spurred a restlessness in her. What did she need to do? What? She didn’t know where she was. Had no idea how to get back to the look-out. And didn’t even know which direction she’d go to find the others.
But Chick, Piper, the kids—all in danger. She needed to find them. And some way, somehow, she had to save them. They were her army. Her responsibility. Kappa and River were just children. If anything happened to them—or to any of her army, even old Hexer—she could never live with herself. Never face Dovie or her grandson. Never…
I’m not your dad, but I’m here, Shayd said. And if I could spare you from all this, I would.
Spooky wiped away the sweat beads accumulating under her chin with the back of her hand. So all these years you’ve been my ghost lover, best friend, and confidant, because I was merely part of the Avenir’s plan to save the worlds?
Originally, yes. But I fell in love with you and wanted nothing more than to help you through this life, and into to the next, with as little pain as possible.
“Next? What’s next?” she blurted out loud.
Let’s just say—
“Hey, Old Shoes, who are you talking to?”
Hexer had found her. Not her dad, but good enough. “Well damn, if it’s not the bat-out-of-hell. If you insist on calling me, Old Shoes. Then I’ll call you Bat. I’d call you Batman, but it’s been taken since 1939. Did you find the others?”
“Yes, they’re up the way about a mile or so. I think that’s how you Earthlings measure distant. They sent me back to find you.”
Spooky pointed at the toppled statue. “Have you seen what’s over the avalanche of rocks?”
“If you’re referring to the Ingenium homecraft, then yes.”
“Did you know the rock thingy used to be a statue of Trubel?”
Hexer’s gray, bushy brows met in the center. “No, I didn’t know.” After a minute, his facial muscles relaxed. “But it doesn’t surprise me. Before the Vrag, he was one of the Times Threes’ most renowned leaders. Known for his military expertise. He defeated numerous outsiders who tried to invade.”
“How did he end up on Gate World?”
“I’m not sure, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was because of his son.”
Spooky understood a parent’s desire to be close to his child. However, Trubel didn’t seem to be much of the loving kind. Had to be another reason. And if she had to guess, she bet it had to do with locating the Shimmer so he could invite the Vrag to Earth.
“Do you need to go get the others and bring them back here?”she asked.
“No. Let’s go to where they are. It’s a better place to observe the homecraft than perched on a statue of Trubel. And from there, we can keep an eye on my daughter, granddaughter, and the children.”
“You’ve seen them? They’re okay?” Spooky couldn’t control the relief in her voice and thought she might cry.
Hexer studied her as if moved by her concern. He nodded. “They are still alive.”
Spooky read the distress written on Hexer’s face and wondered what he wasn’t telling her. She gathered her gear. “I’m right behind you. Let’s get the hell out of here. This place gives me the creeps.”
Episode 44 planned for August 15, 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.