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: “Do you need to go get the others and bring them back here?” Spooky 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.”)
On Ternion: Secret Weapons
Hexer was right. A short jog and Spooky was reunited with Aron, Ransome, Guy, and Mogotsi. The four lay on their bellies, hidden in a camouflage of brushes, spying on the Ingenium homecraft.
Spooky, though panting, managed to bombard them with questions. “Do you see ’em? Are they alright? Do the kids look scared? Are any of them hurt? Where’s Trubel?”
Aron stood and wrapped his arm around his sister. Ransome licked her hand and whined. “Whoa, Sis, I know you’re worried but catch your breath, and we’ll fill you in.”
She shimmied out of his embrace. “Thanks, but I need to see for myself.” She took his place beside Guy. They were close enough binoculars weren’t necessary. And Hexer was right. Again. This was a better vantage point.
With the first look, a sharp pain jabbed her heart. Chick was strung up like a piece of meat in a butcher shop. Arms tied above her head. Legs stretched apart and bound to shiny, metallic beams. Her head hung to her chest. Her once powerful body now sagged—limp and unresponsive—like a wet dish towel. The garments had been ripped from her back, and blood trickled from numerous lashings.
Spooky peeked at Mo. He focused only on Chick, his eyes blinked away tears. His crimson face blended rage, pain, and fear into a brew of total agony. He bit into his bottom lip. A trickle of blood dribbled down his chin. Guy held firmly to his shoulder, restricting him from running to Chick’s side.
Spooky couldn’t watch as grief robbed Mo of his beauty. And as much as it hurt to view the prisoners—her army—her attention returned to that room in the Avenir homecraft.
Kappa fiddled with the restraints tying Chick’s legs and managed to free them. But he was too short to untie her arms, so she dangled. Toes barely touched the floor. His lips moved, repeating Chick’s name, trying to roust her. He shook her. With no results, he sat cross-legged and placed her feet on his thighs to relieve the strain on her arms.
River sat beside Kappa. He hugged her close as she cried into his chest. She stroked Chick’s leg, attempting to bring a bit of comfort to her friend.
Leo, bound up tighter than an important package, lay on the floor in a corner. His back to them. Lifeless. His shirt shredded and streaked red with blood like Chick’s. “Is Leo dead?” Spooky asked.
“We don’t think so. But he took one hell of a beating,” Guy said. “They beat him before they beat Chick. Trying to get information. They kept shouting at him. That’s how we heard them. They wanted to know how we killed a Vrag. But neither Leo nor Chick opened their mouths…as far as we could tell. So they didn’t get anything. I don’t think the Avenir are aware of my ability to change. Or Aron’s to shapeshift.”
“Did Trubel do the beatings?” Spooky didn’t know why she asked this question. They were beaten. What did it matter who did it? And more than likely, Trubel had ordered the use of any means necessary to obtain information on her and her army.
Guy cleared his throat. “The Ingenium have a couple of robots doing their bidding. The beatings. The brutalizing. Trubel was unconscious when we arrived. One of the robots dragged him into another room. Your last shot didn’t miss. You got him in the gut—”
“Damn, I was aiming for his head. A kill shot,” Spooky muttered.
“—The Vrag had to carry him here. But the Ingenium don’t seem to care he’s hurt.” He pointed to another room. Trubel was on the floor in a fetal position, his hand clutched his belly as blood pooled. “Didn’t get the robots to patch him up or nothing. Just tossed him in there and left.”
Hexer moved closer and cleared his throat. “Remember, Guy, Times Threes have a regenerating body chemistry similar to us Starlings. Trubel’s body should be in the process of repairing itself.”
Spooky took a quick look. Chick’s bleeding had eased and her wounds were closing. Trubel lay on his back. No longer in apparent misery. “So basically, he’s indestructible?” she asked.
“A shot to the brain. A kill shot as you said, would put an end to him,” Hexer replied.
But she didn’t hear him. Abruptly, cold fingers clenched the back of her neck, sending chills racing along her spine. This often happened, and even at a young age she understood it was a warning, alerting her something was wrong.
She did a mental count of her army and gasped. “Piper? Where the hell is Piper?”
Guy shook his head. “No sign of her so far. We haven’t allowed Hexer to look. That’s why we sent him after you. You need to come up with one of those mommy plans of yours and get us the hell out of this mess.”
Her brain quickly shifted into gear, like it was trying to solve a Rubik’s cube, fitting all the pieces together, attempting to find a solution. She pulled away from the group and began to pace. She buried her head in her hands and twisted it from side to side. The incessant, artificial drone of the nonliving homecraft was louder here. It daggered the inner workings of her brain and slung a gremlin into her thought process. “Stop the fucking noise,” she moaned, choking down her desire to scream.
Someone moved in close. She raised her head. Hexer extended his hand, offering her what looked like earbuds. “Try these, Old Shoes.”
She inserted them into her ears and immediately all was silenced. Peaceful all-consuming nothing. Aw. Now, she could think. Putting this piece with that one. Arranging. Rearranging. But one piece didn’t fit anywhere. Could he be trusted?
Guy approached her and whispered. “A robot hauled Leo out and put him in the room with his father.”
Yes. She had her answer. The pieces came together. The colors lined up with only one question remaining. “Is he healing?”
“Looks like it.”
Guy shot her a questioning look. She didn’t care. She had it. A plan. It wasn’t rocket science, but it was so simple it just might work. That was, if the piece that didn’t fit would cooperate.
Her army gathered around her, even Mo. “Priority…finding Piper. Hexer and I will look for her.” She eyed Aron, “I’ll need Ransome if that’s okay?” He nodded. “Aron, you and Guy get the kids and Chick.”
Mogotsi opened his mouth to protest, but Spooky frowned at him. “The Avenir will be expecting some type of rescue. Aron and Guy can go in as their shifter shapes. From what I’ve gathered, they don’t know about our secret weapons—our snake and wolf. And won’t be expecting them.”
“I need to rescue my child and Moon. They’re my responsibility,” Mo insisted, then hung his head and took a defeated stance.
Spooky put both her hands on his shoulders and twisted him toward her. She lifted his chin. Their eyes met. “I know you want to be the one to save them, but your responsibility is to follow a plan that will ensure their safety. And the safety of all the worlds. You want that. That’s why you’ve been a part of the resistance for all these years.”
He made no gesture of acceptance. Instead, he pulled away and clenched his fists until his knuckles blazed white. His face reddened. “What the hell am I supposed to do? Sit around with my head up my ass?”
Spooky couldn’t prevent a giggle. “Oh man, you were on Earth way too long.” She squeezed his hand. “Listen. You have the most important job…to get all of us out of here alive. And what I’m going to ask you to do won’t be easy. Are you with us? Or are you just going to go off and pout?”
He eyed the others one by one. “I’m with you.”
“You must rescue Leo and—.”
“What are you saying?” This time it was Guy protesting. “Leave the cretin to the Vrag. He’s no good for Piper.”
Spooky knew Guy was speaking from an emotion other than logic. More from jealousy. And hatred. She’d seen Guy watch Piper with a longing propelled by passion. And she’d seen the longing returned in Piper’s eyes.
How should she put this? “I can tell you care for Piper, but Leo is our best chance at disabling the Vrag control chips.”
“We can’t trust him,” Guy screamed. It was the first time Spooky had witnessed that much anger in him.
“He’s our best shot. You, yourself, said he didn’t talk to the bots. And he could have fed us and all our plans to them to save his own life. But he didn’t. He cares for Piper too. I feel it.”
Guy squeezed his eyes shut. Raised his face to the sky and stretched his arms to the above. He mumbled words Spooky didn’t know, but she noticed a calmness replace his fury. And in a couple of minutes, he turned to Spooky. “I only want Piper to be safe, and if you think your plan will do that, then I’m prepared to follow you wherever you lead.”
She smiled at him. He bowed.
“Okay, then. Mo, you get Leo. I don’t believe he’ll be hard to convince to help you install a virus in their program after the beating he received at the hands of the Avenir,” she said.
“What do you want me to do about Trubel, if he comes to?” Mo asked.
She surveyed her soldiers.
“Kill him,” said Guy.
“Kill him,” repeated Aron.
“Put an end to the son of a bitch,” said Hexer.
“You heard them,” Spooky said, “but first…you need Trubel to get you to the mainframe. Do whatever it takes. Threats. Intimation. Torture. After he shows you where it is, his fate is in your hands.”
Her army now stood before her like a group of soldiers ready to follow their leader’s commands and eager for the battle. She smiled. She guessed she shouldn’t have. A true commander would be fearsome and demanding. But she wasn’t a real commander. Only a mother. And this might be the last time she’d ever see these individuals she’d grown to depend on, respect, admire, and, perhaps even like. A little.
“It will be dawn soon,” Spooky said. “We don’t have much time. We need to use the darkness to our benefit. Guy, you lead. Try to find us a way in. We’ll follow.”
Guy’s clothes collapsed around him and his snake slithered out of a pant leg.
Spooky watched Aron’s body convulse into his wolf. And as before, she was astonished to see he no longer had but one arm. His eyes flashed a wild blue, then changed to a clear amber shade.
The wolf followed the snake with the others close behind.
Episode 45 planned for August 29, 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.