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: Spooky bit into her bottom lip and fell back against the wall, hoping it would provide some stability and keep her from passing out. She slid to the floor and sat, clutching the child close to her chest. Believing—in her now unraveling mental state—if she held on tightly enough, she could keep River safe, just by holding on.
But what of Aron? Had the Vrag eaten him? She would never know. There would be no remains for her to mourn. To bury. She didn’t tell him she loved him. Or that she was glad he’d found her. She thought there would be time.
Spooky was unable to keep her mind from going to that place. Death. It still remained a mystery despite all Earth’s advancement. And she thought: we fool ourselves into thinking there’s always more time. More time to love. To play in the ocean. To dive into cool lake water on a hot summer’s day. To climb a mountain one last time. To gaze at all the stars in the night sky. To revel in a field of wildflowers and feel the sun on our face. To live another day. That is how we deal with death. Believing we have more time. That is why God made suicide a sin. We aren’t supposed to know the time of our death. We are to go on living, believing there is always more time. Always.)
Ternion World: Could Have Been Beautiful
Always. Always. Spooky heard herself repeating from a distant realm somewhere between sanity and something else. A softness on her face, like butterflies, revived her.
River’s hand swept back and forth over her cheeks and eyes. She’d passed out and the child was trying to wake her.
“Spooky. Please. I need you.” She heard River call. The tactile comfort River provided boosted Spooky’s desire to survive.
But in the end, it was the words “I need you” that brought Spooky back from the brink of that darkness. Isn’t that always what does? To be needed gives one the reason to power through insanity. Or death. And come out the other side alive. And mostly sane.
Aron, I need you. I can’t do this without you, she whispered in her inner thoughts as she rolled her head from side to side against the wall. Her brother had been with her from the beginning of this journey into things others never knew existed. Other worlds. And worlds within worlds.
She needed someone to verify and confirm what she was doing was not merely the dreamy delusion of her own broken mind but real. Her brother was that someone. However, this presumption of his possible demise crippled her thoughts and body. She needed him as much as River now needed her.
She set River on the floor and slowly returned to her feet. A bit shaky and shaken. She placed her hands on her knees and breathed deeply. In and out. In. Out. “Ummm,” she moaned and shook her head, attempting to claw free of the cobwebs ensnaring her brain.
“I’m okay, sweetie, just took a little nap.” She finally managed.
“But you weren’t breathing.” The sound of fear in River’s voice shook her and propelled her into the here and now.
Spooky straightened and stretched. She picked up River and rounded the corner in the direction the Vrag would have taken Aron…if it hadn’t eaten him, that was.
This corridor followed the outside wall of the dome and showcased the jungle in all its subversive green. Just clear of its snarl of vines, trees, and overgrowth a body of water swam forth like a swarm of escaping prisoners. Perhaps it was a bay formed from the ocean she’d seen atop the lookout. Perhaps a lake. Could have been beautiful, Spooky thought, had it not been for their current danger, the shattered pane with its bloody evidence, and the ghost city beyond the bay.
There were no doorways breaking up this corridor. And it was much longer than the others had been. So long she couldn’t make out where it ended. If she encountered a Vrag, or bot, on this long stretch, she’d have nowhere to hide. And with the child she’d be unable to outrun them.
Spooky evaluated the other direction. It offered more hiding, but if her sense of direction was accurate, then this hallway merely led back to the ladder. She didn’t think it offered much in the way of finding Aron or the others. “Okay, little one, here we go. If we see a Vrag or robot, I’ll put you on the ground, and you run back to that room where all the computers are and hide under the table. Understand?”
She expected a nod in agreement. “Not without you,” River protested. “I let my wolf leave me, and now, I’ve lost him.”
How could she argue with the reasoning of a child? All she could hope was if they did encounter danger, fear would set in and the child would run. “Okay then, mighty mite. Let’s do this.” River hugged her neck.
She started out cautiously, at first. Then picked up the pace once her momentum kicked in. Spooky had always been a brisk walker. Brodie and Dovie often complained to her to slow down whenever they shopped. Maybe she’d been in training for this very moment.
But after an hour at a fast clip, she slowed with nothing in sight except for the expansive green to her left, a clinical wall to her right, and a hallway with no ending in sight. Her arms ached with the weight of the child, and her old knees—the ones the orthopedic surgeon said needed to be replaced—hurt like hell. Bone on bone scraped together with each step she took. She began to limp.
“I can walk,” River said and scrambled out of her arms and to the floor. They limped ahead, River holding Spooky’s hand and dragging her.
If there were some place they could sit for a bit, she’d recover quickly, Spooky told herself. But it’d have to be on the floor. Out in the open. Leaving them vulnerable. She didn’t know how much farther they’d have to go to find a hidey-hole, so to plod along was their best option for the time being.
Spooky’s mind took her to other thoughts and off the pain now radiating through her body. She thought of holding her grandbaby, but deep down knew that would probably never happen. She wondered about her and Brodie. And if she had been a better wife, less weird, would he have remained loyal to her.
What about Aron, she wondered? Was there any way he could possibly be alive? And Ransome? The Vrag for sure probably ate the dog. If both she and Ransome died, Aron would have no one. Maybe Dovie would welcome him into the family. She was that type of a person—warm, tenderhearted, and loving.
Suddenly, a wave of longing rippled through Spooky’s body—if only she could hug Dovie one more time. More time. More time. We always trick ourselves into thinking we have more time.
River tugged on her hand. She’d been watching her feet move forward in a zombie saunter since the child had taken the lead. But how long had that been? How long had she been lost in thoughts?
“Look, Spooky,” River said, pointing. “I can feel my brother close.”
The hallway to nowhere had brought them here. They rounded a curve into what appeared to be the hub of the ship. Floor to ceiling windows were no longer on her left. But a few feet from where they stood, on her right, half windows revealed a large room, not as big as the robot coliseum, but close.
Spooky’s heart beat faster, a burst of adrenaline shot through her veins. Her energy returned. She retrieved her revolver from the waistband on her backside, and pulled River with her against the wall. She leaned forward to get a glimpse of what secrets the room contained.
Blue lights from aisles upon aisles of mammoth sized computer mainframes illuminated the room, making it hard for Spooky to assess the situation. But this had to be the Ingenium’s control room, she decided.
Two bots tinkered with the mainframes. Someone hide in one of the aisles not occupied by them. Hexer! She recognized his trailing cape as he ducked in and out of the lanes of computers. She and River had managed—through some measure of dumb luck—to stumble onto where they needed to be.
From her peripheral perspective, she caught a glimpse of another figure. He too darted among the long rows of mainframes to remain undetected. Who was that? He wasn’t a member of her army.
“Follow me. Stay close,” she whispered to River. The child nodded. Spooky crouched and scurried below the windows. There were two entries. She tried the first door. It was locked and had a security pad.
The second doorway was forty feet or so from her. She advanced, crouching again so as not to be exposed. Once at the door, she straightened and peered in the room. The two bots were no longer visible. She hoped they were still at work and remained occupied.
This door was equipped with a keypad too, but a scrap of navy-blue cloth protruded. It looked like a piece of Hexer’s cape. Seemed his cape came in handy for all kinds of things. She nudged the door with her hip. Silently, it eased opened. Apparently, the bit of cloth was enough to break the seal.
Would Aron have been the only one to know this trick would work? she wondered. He’d have known she’d follow. Maybe. Or was this merely a weak hope that her brother was still alive?
Two disabled bots lay on the floor in front of her, blocking her entrance into where she’d seen Hexer. Trubel would have been the one who knew how to disable the bots without being detected by the Ingenium. Spooky attempted to step over them, but one of the bot’s eyes flashed red for second. It belched a soft whirring sound then died again.
River froze, big-eyed and frightened the bots might wake. Spooky returned her revolver to her pants’ band and picked up River. The two edged around the bots, but collided with one of the mainframes. Damn, she thought, and hoped nothing heard.
Despite the size of room, there was little free space to hide or walk. There was but a narrow walkway running beside the rows of mainframes, providing access to the machines. Narrow was good because it’d be hard for a big-ass Vrag to get to them there. But it was also a tight squeeze for more than one.
She tiptoed down the cramped passage way. A different type of lighting shone at the end. Artificial, yes, but not the same blue produced by the mainframes. She slipped into the row just before it. She heard people. Her army perhaps? But maybe not. She stilled her breathing to listen.
A hand slapped around her mouth and held her to its chest, “ Shsh,” it said.
It was human at least. But River’s eyes were big again and her mouth gaped. Spooky had been a lifeguard in high school, and, during her training, she’d been taught how to get out of a drowning person’s stranglehold.
She bowed her head, tucked her chin between his arm and her chest, and broke free. She flipped around to see her captor. Her eyes widened bigger than River’s. It was Trubel.
“Shsh,” he snarled and motioned for her to follow.
Should she follow? She wasn’t certain. He did seem to be on their side now, however. But could they trust him? It might be a trap. River had her tightly wrapped up in her tiny arms, still scared. Options?
She could pull her gun and shoot the son of a bitch. A bullet right to his brain. What he deserved. She wouldn’t miss this time. But the sound of gunfire would bring attention. And he had trusted her enough to turn his back to her. Truth was, they could use someone like Trubel. Someone who fraternized with the Ingenium.
Shayd, what should I do? Is Trubel trustworthy? she asked and waited for his wisdom. She heard nothing. For the first time, in a very long time, his voice was not in her head. He wasn’t there. This scared her more than the devil she now followed, the Vrag, the Ingenium, and their bots all lumped together.
She depended on him. All her life she had. Where was he? Shayd? The thought of losing both her brother and her Shayd in one day sent her body into uncontrollable shakes. Oh shit. Not now. Not now. Shayd? Shayd? she screamed in her head.
Tears formed and spilled onto her cheeks. Tears she was unaware of until the child reached up and patted them away. River placed the palms of her hands on the sides of Spooky’s head and pressed her forehead to Spooky’s.
In the child’s eyes she read the phrase she’d used, It will be okay. Spooky shuddered in an attempt to calm her trembling body. But Trubel turned abruptly and stared at her. His face a tormented reflection of her own. This was it. He’d kill her and the child. Spooky was sure.
To continue reading Hell Town RV Park, click on Episode 49 below.
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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.