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: It looked like a chaotic game of hopscotch to Spooky. As an appendage came close to one of them, they hopped over it sometimes on one foot, sometimes on two, depending on the size of the arm.
In the next room, Chick and Mo stood on the computer tables to avoid invading Vrag tentacles. With keyboards in hand, they desperately punched the keys that would bring the Vrag to an end. Guy hung from above on a rafter by his tail. His body coiled around Piper to keep her safe. Every time an appendage came close, Guy struck at it with his venomous fangs. Thus far, missing each time.
“Come on, Guy. Come on, kill the bastard.”
All they had to do was hold out a bit longer, Spooky figured, and the couple’s mission would be accomplished. Just a bit longer. Could they keep hopping, striking, and hoping long enough for the virus to take effect?
Suddenly the entire outside wall of the rooms was pulled from its frame, leaving a cavernous hole for the two Vrag to enter. Together the monsters twisted the wall until it shattered. And then, both demons loomed before them daring Spooky and her army to come for them.)
On Ternion World: The Up-High Swing
No wall for protection. Two rabid Vrag in attack mode. Aron weak. River clinging to him. Guy trying to keep Piper safe. Mo and Chick occupied planting the virus. And Shayd’s place—the place she reserved for him—empty. Instead. A song. Something about being stuck in the middle. Bad guys to the right of me. Bad guys to the left of me.
Spooky studied the Vrag, looking for anything that might give away its intent. A poker tell, Brodie called it. They had no eyes. How the fuck did they see? It opened its steel-trap of a mouth and howled and roared, issuing a demented whirring noise baneful enough to wake hell’s devils. Nothing inside the cavity except blackness and dead brain matter. But its squid-like legs twitched. And its claws raked across the floor in repetitious screeches. Screee. Screee.
Like rats in the walls. Another Brodie idiom. Why was he in her head instead of Shayd? Screee. Screee.
Then. Suddenly. There it was. What she’d been waiting for. The rippling up of the Vrag’s skin, from its claws to its jaw. She felt to her right for the door to the mainframes. “Move!” She screamed and pulled the door open. Wolf, River, and Spooky barreled into the mainframe room the instant the Vrag’s appendage came charging at them.
Spooky slammed the lead door on it. The Vrag squealed and retracted its arm, withdrawing to the back of the un-walled room. A frothing, squiggling piece of its limb lay at her feet. She kicked it aside.
She opened the door. “Trubel, when I tell you to, run.” He nodded. She watched for the monster’s tell. Maybe Brodie was there because Shayd couldn’t be. Maybe different individuals enter your life at times when you need them explicitly. Brodie was always catching the bad guys during his career days. Perhaps his expertise is what she needed now. Maybe. At any rate, she didn’t have time for this philosophical bullshit. Use what you can use and get on with it. That was all her.
She glanced into the other room. Guy was holding off that Vrag for the time being. But Mo and Chick were doing a dance of their own to avoid its deathly limbs. She’d get to them as soon as she could.
Meantime, Trubel dodged exploring tentacles all the while shooting darting peeks at Spooky. Sweat popped out on his upper lip and forehead. The once self-assured Trubel, a pile of blubbering shit. Karma, Spooky thought and felt the urge to chuckle, but didn’t.
River latched onto her leg and tugged. Shit. The child. She’d almost forgotten the child.
“Aron, go hide River.” He ruffed once, scooped up River, and sprang forward toward a darkened row of mainframes. Surely the Vrag wouldn’t enter here and risk destroying what was keeping them alive. Suddenly, Aron halted his advance.
But Spooky was too hellbent on getting Trubel out, she didn’t see the hold up. The Vrag’s skin began to ripple starting at its claws and working its way up. If Spooky was right, once the beast’s skin began to undulate, its lesser arms—its feelers—became passive.
Spooky counted. One alligator. Two alligator. Three alligator. Brodie always counted seconds in gators not Mississippis. It took twenty alligators—once its skin began to ripple—before the monster could discharge its main killing appendage. “Run,” she yelled at Trubel as she opened the door.
“How did you do that?” he asked between breaths as he bounded through the doorway.
“Poker tell,” she smirked.
The Vrag’s severed piece still squirmed on the floor to Spooky’s right and flicked about in its own green goo. It hadn’t regenerated. Could it? And if so, how long would that take?
She heard Aron’s beast-driven growl behind her. She flipped about face to find Aron confronting a bot. River still piggy-backing. Farther back stood Hexer wielding six daggers. “Get River to safety,” he shouted. Spooky pushed Aron behind her. He reversed his intended course and headed to the passage at the other end of the row.
Another bot appeared. Hexer was sandwiched between the two. Spooky discharged her gun at the closest bot. Her bullet lodged in the bot’s torso but appeared to have no impact. The second robot cocked its head from side to side in an eerie unsure measure, but made no attempt to attack Hexer.
“I’ll shoot again if you try anything. Any fucking thing at all. Give me a reason,” she threatened. She always hated in movies when the main character had the chance to off the villain and talked instead of doing so. Here she was doing that very thing. But she was almost out of bullets. And if Chick managed to plant the virus this could all be over soon.
The bot made a humming sound and turned its head full circle. First targeting her then Hexer. “Hey, asshole, don’t even—,” she said.
Its head whipped around repeatedly. Its red eyes flashed as if confused. Spooky stepped closer, thinking she could disable it with a shot to the head. “Do you understand me?” She assumed the shooter stance Brodie had taught her. Feet shoulder width apart. Extended arms. And locked elbows. She could’ve touched the son-of-a-bitch if she’d wanted to.
It reached out for her. The redness in its eyes dimmed. It blinked like it meant them no harm. Like a whipped puppy. She lowered the nose of her gun slightly, but remained in her stance. Hexer let his daggers dangle to his side. Abruptly an alarm sounded. High-pitched and ear piercing. She raised her shoulders to her ears in an instinctual offensive move to block some of the sound. She lost her footing.
Both bots eyes grew crimson again. Their heads spun around twice. Spooky shot. Damn missed. She pulled back the hammer. In one quick aggressive move, the bot lurched and seized her by the throat. Its cold, metal fingers crushed her Adam’s apple into the back of her neck. The bot behind Hexer grabbed him by his head and savagely crashed it into the mainframe time and again.
Spooky’s ears filled with the sounds of her gagging. Blood from Hexer’s bashed in brain dripped down the mainframe. A bright trail of red against shiny metallic. She raised her gun to fire. It knocked it out of her hand. Where was Trubel? Asshole probably ran.
Her eyes rolled to the top of her head. This was it. If she died now, she’d tried her best. And it beat the hell out of being eaten by the Vrag. A watery image lurked on top of the mainframe above her and pounced on the bot’s back. The tin man released Spooky and tried to grab Kappa, but its mechanical arms were too short and clunky.
She gasped for breath and coughed. Things were blurry. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them. Hexer was still being slammed against the mainframe. He was no longer blue but bloodied purple. She grabbed her gun and aimed, but saw someone approaching from behind. Trubel. He swung Chick’s battle-axe at the bot’s head. Thud. Even with alarms blaring the thwack sound was enough to turn Spooky’s stomach into a tangled mess of nausea and relief.
The machine did its head twirly-whirly and let go of Hexer, who went to the floor on all fours. But as soon as he touched down, he bounced to his feet and lodged a dagger in the bot’s right eye, one in its left eye, and one through a soft area, between two metal plates, on the thing’s forehead. Its red eyes dimmed a second then went black. It clanked to the floor, whirrin’ and sputterin’ like those headless chickens Craycray Gran always talked about.
The other bot still clawed at his back as if it had an itch it couldn’t reach. But Kappa held on tighter than ticks on a dog (another Craycray saying). The kid pried away at a metal panel on the bot’s back until he freed it. He grabbed a disc and a bunch of wires from the bot’s cavity and jumped into Spooky’s arms.
Soft landing for Kappa but it knocked Spooky into the mainframe. Her back slammed against the unforgiving surface, and she toppled forward. She extended her free arm to break the fall and landed on her palm. Her wrist bent back into a sharp angle and crumbled with the weight of her and Kappa. She smacked the floor with her cheek. “Owww! Sonofabitch.”
“Quit your crying. You’re not the baby. You’re the mom,” Kappa said and then hugged her neck. “Did I do good?”
She quickly kissed his cheek. There was no time for praise. She flexed her wrist. It moved without difficulty or too much pain, but her cheek was swelling to the size of an egg. She jumped to her feet and ran to the room with Chick and Mo. Chick was still entering codes on the keyboard. But Mo was now in front of her shooting arrows. Four of the Vrag’s seven feelers lay arrow-ridden and lifeless.
The beast’s main arm was still active, however, and trying to get at Piper. Each time the appendage came close, Guy struck. And each time the Vrag pulled its limb away just in time—like it was a game to the monster. Spooky couldn’t read snake, but she could tell Guy was tired. His grip on Piper was loose. And the force with which he struck was weak.
The Vrag, Spooky had escaped in the other room, lurked beside the one they now fought and waited its turn. What this Vrag couldn’t rid the Ingenium of, it would.
Trubel, Hexer, and Kappa gathered around Spooky. “We gotta help Guy. He can’t last much longer,” Hexer said.
Kappa went water and in one calculated move jumped from the computer desk to the rafter from which Guy and Piper hung. “Hold on a bit longer, Guy,” Kappa shouted. “We’re here now.”
In his liquid form, Spooky couldn’t tell what Kappa was doing for sure, but it looked as if he were helping to support Piper.
Trubel charged the Vrag with the axe and managed to chop off a piece of its relentless limb. The Vrag retreated slightly, but kept its remaining exploratory feelers in motion and directed at Trubel. Hexer drew his daggers and positioned himself under his granddaughter.
“How much longer?” Trubel shouted.
“Almost,” Chick said. “Hold on just a bit longer.”
“Spooky, tell us when,” Trubel yelled.
Spooky focused on the beast’s killing arm. There, at its claw, the rippling skin began to pulse moving upward. Alligator one. Alligator two. “Get ready to chop, Trubel.” He raised his axe. “Wait. Wait. Not yet.” Alligator fifteen. Alligator sixteen. Alligator eighteen. “Now!” she screamed.
The arm came charging—like some demon from hell. But instead of going for Trubel, it went over him, under Guy, and at Spooky. She wasn’t prepared. She had no time. It wrapped around her and squeezed. Squeezed her kidneys into her throat. Squeezed the very life from her. Her gun fell from her hand. She felt as if her entire body was fettered in a tourniquet with spikes. “Aughhh!” she cried. So tight. “Can’t breathe.”
The gargantuan appendage spiraled around Spooky’s small frame twice. It claws dug into the soft skin below her ribs. Swaddled like prey in an anaconda’s scaly body, Spooky couldn’t even move her fingers. Her brain would fly out the top of her head soon if someone didn’t save her. She could feel her organs being smashed into her spine. Her mouth filled with her own blood. Acid oozed from the monster’s veins onto her flesh, and pain, unlike anything Spooky had ever known, radiated throughout her body. Like being scalded with hot oil.
The Vrag pulled her nearer and nearer. Unhinged its steel-trap of a mouth. She now stared into the deep, murky cavern of the thing. It opened its trap and shut it. Clang. Clang And opened and shut again and again like some nightmarish dream with gnashing teeth. The smell—like thousands of rotting dead things—made her gag and spit up blood. She was thirsty. So thirsty. A little water. Just a little. To wash away the taste of blood.
It was odd what her mind did when she was in pain. Even as a child with a scraped knee or cut finger, Spooky retreated from reality to a place known to her only. The up-high swing. In the old oak tree. She’d go there somehow. Some way. Not just in her mind, but physically too. She’d feel the lifting up and up into the crystal blue of a summer sky. Or if night. The up-up until her toes touched the moon. Had there really been such a place?
She hadn’t thought about the up-high swing in a long time. Now it came, lifting her. Up. And up. With a flood memories from a life lived. She remembered her love for Brodie. The joy of holding Dovie the first time. She remembered the moon tickling her toes.
She thought she saw Aron lunge at the arm that had her. Was Trubel attacking it with the axe?
Did she hear Chick scream, Got it?
Was River crying?
Did she see Piper fall from Guy’s grasp?
Was any of it real? She wasn’t sure. What she was sure of, what she feared most—being eaten alive by a Vrag—was now. The thing drew back its head then lashed forward at her. Its steel trap opened then clamped shut.
Black wings of a moonless night came silently. Quickly. And the place inside her head—the one reserved for Shayd—said, “Don’t fight it.”
So she didn’t.
Avenir World: Shayd
Spooky. Spooky. Remember how you could always hear THE gears? You complained about it to your Parents. The Churning. Churning of THE GEARS. They took You to the doctor. Thought You had a hearing a problem.
“Yes. I remember. Doctor said I had 20/20 hearing.” She smiled. The audiologist had made a joke.
And because You had 20/20 hearing. And because of Our connection. You could hear THE gears.
Do You hear them now?
Go to that sound. To the UP-high swing.
So she did.
Thank you for returning time and again to follow Spooky into Hell. As I explained, in one of my earlier episodes, this is a work in progress—part of the reason for my irregular blog posts. Creativity does not approve of me placing him on a schedule. He comes like a secret lover. Unannounced. Elusive. And illusive. But oh so sweet.
Also. Please, forgive errors you might find. I don’t hire a professional editor for my blogs like I do my published novels. And damn, as much as I hate to admit it, I make tons of mistakes. I try to catch them. And I do have a friend, who is kind enough to let me know each time she finds errors, but we still miss some. Please, let me know if you find mistakes we’ve overlooked. And if you’re not sure if it’s a mistake, let me know anyway. Just in case.
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.