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: Guy flared his hood like a cobra, but unlike the cobra who uses its hood to appear larger, Guy’s hood was composed of heat and smell receptors. He detected nothing. Not through vibrations, at least. And there would have to be something alive—which neither the Avenir nor Bots were—for his heat-receptive optics to kick in.
He slid off Aron and slithered left toward a nearby door and inspected it. He told Aron, Not detecting any bots, but there’s a door. Chick and the kids are behind it. My specialized receptors have picked up their scent and body heat. Come on through the hatch.
He nosed up and down the door trying to find a way in, but it was airtight. He recognized a keypad about four feet high, but it had no numerals. Only triangles going in different directions. They’d need a bot to open it.
Aron had joined him and immediately began pushing on the pad to gain entry. “Damn, how do we this? Any ideas?”
Try talking to the kids. Maybe it opens from the inside.
“Kappa? River? Open the door if you can hear me, it’s Aron.” He tapped lightly on the door. A soft tap, tap, tap was returned.)
The Avenir Homecraft: Aron
“Kids, can you open the door?” Aron asked. He heard the muffled voice of a child, but couldn’t make out much of what she said. “River?”
He heard, “Can’t. Can’t.” Then the tap, tap, tap, again.
There’s probably a locked security pad on the other side too. He told Guy. They have no way of letting us in.
Guy hissed and began sidewinding up the wall toward a small ceiling vent.
Stop, Guy. Even if you find a way in, we have to unlock the door to get all of us out. The kids might be able to follow you through that tiny ventilation duct, but I doubt Chick or I could.
Guy allowed his body to fall to the floor. Thud.
Ouch. That had to hurt. Aron was a problem solver. If he put his mind to it, he’d get that fucking door open or die doing it. Spooky was counting on him to save Chick and the kids.
During his criminal past, Aron had managed to become quite the expert at deactivating some of the most advanced home security systems for his gangster employer, who told him he was the best. “Ain’t nobody better than you,” the boss man often said.
Surely, with his expertise, he could figure a way in. The keypad had triangles. Three in the middle pointed up. Three to the left pointed down. Two on the right pointed out. He punched in a variety of combinations a number of times, but to no avail.
Wires. There had to be wires. He’d do it the old-fashioned way. But if the Avenir had some other advanced form of technology to keep the door locked, he was screwed. Worth a try, though, he figured.
From a tiny pocket in his holster, he pulled a thin strand of cable and a miniature knife. He’d found them useful many a time back in his gangsta days, and so, from habit, he never left home without these tools of his former trade.
He pried off the outer cover. He was savvy when it came to red and black wires, but before him a conglomeration of yellow, orange, green, and blue wires weaved an intricate puzzle. Damn.
What’s wrong? asked Guy.
A bunch of different colored wires. You just keep watch. I’ll try to figure it out.
Aron carefully lifted the yellow wire with the piece of cable and examined it. There was a symbol on it. Clever, he thought, on Earth we use different colored wires. Here, the Avenir have taken it a step further and added symbols to identify each wires’ function. Appeared the Avenir were a bit smarter than earthlings. But what the hell did the symbols mean?
You don’t happen to know any of the symbols the Avenir use, do you? he asked Guy.
A few. Like many of us outworlders, and unlike you Gate Worlders, the Avenir use nature to code and communicate in the sacred languages of their ancestors. Tell me what you are seeing.
They all look like some type of animal. It was beneficial, Aron had such acute eyesight. He’d tell Spooky later. The orange is something that looks like a saber tooth tiger. I think. The green is the easiest. It’s a turtle. Blue is a bird. And yellow. Ummm. I’m not familiar with this animal.
“Describe it for me,” Guy said.
Furry. Long bushy tail. Four feet. Paws. Pointed ears. Big fang teeth.
You’re kidding me? You really don’t know what that one is? Guy asked.
Come on give me a break. They look like primitive sketches. Like what ancient men carved into the stones in their caves.
That’s because the Avenir taught ancient man hieroglyphics so they could communicate and record history.
Aron looked down at the snake. You’re not serious?
As serious as a snake bite, Guy hissed.
So what is the symbol on the yellow wire?
A wolf. Yellow like it’s eyes.
Aron couldn’t hear it, but he knew Guy was chuckling to himself. Okay, wise guy, and no pun intended, which wire do I clip to make it open?
Why the yellow one, of course.
Aron smirked. “Of course.” But why?
The wolf has always been worshipped by the Avenir. But they didn’t call them wolves. They referred to them as The Impisi. In fact, when the Avenir actually had physical bodies, they worshipped a wolf goddess and god. You’d fit right in.
Aron was sure the snake snickered. He’d have to tell Spooky. He rested the flat side of the blade on his index finger, placed the yellow wire between it and his thumb, and artfully snipped.
Whoosh. The door released its vacuum seal. And before it fully opened, River rushed to Aron, wrapping herself around his right leg like an aggressive octopus. He lifted her into his arms. “It’s okay. We’re here now.”
She clung on tightly. “I knew my wolf would come for me,” she whispered and snuggled into him.
Aron had never been around children and found River’s sweet, warm breath on his neck, and her scent, addictive. His sense of smell had developed keenly after becoming a wolf shapeshifter, and most smells were so pungent to his olfactory receptors, they nauseated him a little. But not hers.
He sniffed again and paused. A surge of emotion made it difficult for him to move. She smelled of pine trees after a rain. And her wispy bangs, which feathered on her forehead like angel wings, endeared him. Love and fear, rose in a tidal wave and washed over him. He had no idea how to cope with the overpowering need to protect her. And love her. He patted her back. “Come on, sweetness. Let’s get Kappa and Chick and get out of here.”
Her tiny head bobbed in agreement in the crook of his neck. She pointed in the direction of the others.
Guy had already slithered up Chick and was at work on her metal restraints. Kappa still sat supporting her legs in his lap.
She was in bad shape, but conscience and healing. Her head drooped on her chest. “Piper?” she muttered.
Aron shook his head. “We haven’t located her. Yet. But we will. Let’s get the kids to safety.”
Chick dropped to her feet. She shuddered for a couple minute. Then, starting at her feet, she worked up her body, popping joints into place and stretching.
Guy, how the hell did you get Chick out of those restraints? I thought I was going to have to go looking for a blow torch, Aron said.
My venom is potent, he replied, and they were made from a synthetic polymer. Easy. Hey, why don’t you take the kids to safety and show Spooky and the others how to get in.
What are you going to do?
I’m going after Piper.
But that’s not the plan.
Look, no disrespect to your sister, but we can’t waste any time. There’s a possibility I can find Piper and get her to the mainframe to install the virus before you even get back. Then all of this will be finished.
Aron didn’t like it, but he had to admit, it made sense. He eyed Chick. She was kneeling and breathing deeply. Her healing had accelerated. “Guy is going to look for Piper. I’m going to get the others. Want to come with me?” He knew she wouldn’t, but she seemed in no shape to keep up with Guy.
“I just need a few more minutes. I’m going to be fine. I must find my daughter.”
Kappa grabbed her hand. “I’m going with you. I can find Piper easier than anyone. Watch.” His body began to tremble, then it throbbed, and within a few seconds, he was no longer visible.
“Well, I’ll be damn,” Aron said, startled that Chick’s hand still held Kappa’s but nothing could be seen of him except for a clear wavy something, like a mirage in the desert, when hot sand meets cooler air and light is refracted.
Aron felt okay leaving the kid with Chick and Guy. Hell, the kid probably had a better defense than any of them. Invisibility. Since becoming a shapeshifter, he’d quit regarding the supernatural as make believe. Still…an invisible child. He cocked his head in disbelief.
Ternion World: Spooky
When Guy and Aron didn’t return within the hour, Spooky and her remaining crew—Hexer and Mo—went on their own search and rescue mission. “Find Aron,” Spooky commanded Ransome.
The dog darted in the opposite direction his master had traveled as if knowing this would be a closer route. And within a few hundred yards they discovered the ladder. Aron was descending with River securely piggy-backed.
Before anyone could ask, Aron answered. “We found Chick. She, Kappa, and Guy are going to find Piper and get her to the mainframe.”
Spooky should’ve been mad at them for not following her orders, but did it really matter if, in the end, they were successful in saving the worlds and her army? She didn’t think so. Still…some commander she turned out to be.
The problem now, she realized, was how to keep River safe. And as if reading her mind, River said, “Let’s go get them. I’m not scared anymore. I have Wolf.”
Spooky looked at Aron. He nodded. “I’ll keep her safe.”
Mo was already through the hatch, lugging Ransome on his shoulders, with Hexer tailing them. So much for her plan. She guessed she’d have to find Leo on her own. Regardless of what the others thought, he might be of some help.
She doubted whether Mo or Guy had given Leo a second thought. And by the time she made her way into the Avenir homecraft, the two had gone AWOL, leaving behind Aron with River and Ransome.
“We need to find Leo,” she said.
Aron knelt and took Ransome’s shaggy head between his hands. The dog and man locked eyes. Ransome pulled away and ran past Chick’s torture chamber, stopped and barked once, the proceeded down the hall.
Aron unholstered his gun and rested the butt of it in his palm. His dominant hand wrapped around the firearm, and his index finger rested on the trigger guard. He pointed it at the ceiling, and took the lead. Spooky pulled her gun and did the same.
They bypassed two corridors each housing numerous unlabeled doors. “They could be in any of these,” he whispered.
But Ransome stood ahead of them, making no attempt to go down either corridor. He looked at Aron then down the hallway three times and whined softly.
“I guess we keep going this way.” Aron motioned with his gun.
Two things bothered Spooky. Where were all the Avenir bots? And were there any Vrag in here? Just as the questions rose in her mind, the clacking and mechanical whirring howl of a Vrag echoed down the empty hallway.
Ransome sprinted into the next corridor and stood at a door. Unlike the torture room, this door had an odd shaped knob on it. It was triangular with similar symbolic hieroglyphs engraved into it like the ones he’d found on the wires to unlock the security pad. These symbols, however, resembled people. He tried the knob. It opened.
The mechanical whirring was louder. Closer. River’s eyes grew as big as sand dollars. Spooky nodded at the closed door, “Let’s do it.” They dashed in and quietly closed the door behind them. Aron locked it and lifted River over his head and to the floor. He and Spooky braced themselves against the door and held their breath.
The relentless whirring reverberated in a piercing, high pitched ring. To Spooky it felt like shards of shrapnel blasting into her eardrum. Aron leaned River against his thigh, and Spooky covered the child’s exposed ear with her free hand to muffle the painful noise.
The Vrag appendage hammered against the door again and again and jiggled the door knob repeatedly. Its claws scratched on the door issuing chilling messages of torture and pain until Spooky was confident she was on the brink of madness.
About the time she thought she could no longer take the torture to her ears and her emotions; she heard the damp, laggart drumming of the Vrag’s tentacles on the floor grow distant. “Finally,” she whispered and released a gush of pinned up air.
Unlike the hallway, this room was dark. Their eyes adjusted. Dim light glowed from seven computer monitors. In back of the computers, was a large picture window. And before them, in a separate room the size of a coliseum, Avenir bots hung in five long rows as far as Spooky could see. “Talk about Skynet. This must be their bot factory.” Cables ran from each bot to an overhead assembly-line-type apparatus.
The bots advanced on conveyor belts, two at a time, and docked before a mechanical-driven arm. It had a drill on the end and implanted what looked like a computer chip into the back of their heads.
“Shsh…it,” Aron mumbled.
The bots proceeded to another station where faces were attached and eyes inserted. “They have no mouths or noses. Freak me,” Spooky said. “Guess the Avenir didn’t want them to back talk them.”
Spooky! Shayd scolded. Not the time for your unique brand of humor.
She knew better than to make light of an otherwise dire situation. If all the bots were activated once complete, their chances of successfully saving her army plus the worlds would be seriously diminished.
“Know anything about computers? We could fry all these mother…” Aron remembered River. “All these freaky frakers.”
“I know a little. Right now I wish I knew a whole heck of a lot more.” There was an eighth monitor. It was black, but when Spooky touched it, she woke it and wished she hadn’t.
The computer was monitoring Piper. She lay naked, covered in blood, and strapped to a surgical table. Her beautiful hair had been shaved off and some twenty odd electrical probes were plugged into her brain.
“Oh, shit,” Spooky murmured as her eyes followed wires that led to a miniature shaped replica of the Avenir homecraft. Inside a mini dome, attached to the other end of the probes, pulsed a brain the size of three large watermelons.
Another set of wires flowed from it in a different direction. To another surgical table. Leo lay on it in the same horrible, humiliating condition as Piper. Nude, bloody, bald, and attached to the Big Brain.
“What the…” Aron didn’t finish. River began to whimper. “Hide your eyes, sweetness,” he said. And she did. He scooted her under the table supporting the computers and pushed her to the very back. “If anything happens to us, you stay hidden here. Okay?” She sniveled but nodded. He patted her head and said, “Good, girl.”
Ransome licked her cheek and crouched beside her. “Stay, boy, and take care of River,” Aron commanded and petted him. River hugged the dog close to her.
“Aron, quick, where Piper is, the door is opening.”
Both their mouths gaped open as they watched Chick, Mo, and Hexer being forced into the room by a Vrag appendage. Guy managed to slither in unnoticed. Two bots hurried—as much as their artificial limbs allowed—out of dark corners and grabbed Hexer and Mo.
Chick rushed to Piper’s side, crying. She buried her face in her daughter’s bare and bloody chest. “How could you?” She lifted her head and addressed a dark figure standing in a remote corner. “She’s your granddaughter.”
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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.