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: 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.)
On Ternion: Guy
Guy tried to keep Piper from the Vrag as long as he could. And when Kappa helped to support her, he’d managed to hold on a bit longer, though his neck cramped and his body ached. But then the killing appendage went after Spooky, opened its steel-trap of a mouth, crammed her in, and devoured her. As her clothing and flesh began to melt away, Kappa screamed, leaped on to the Vrag, and tried to rescue her.
Without his support, Guy was unable to keep Piper coiled within his snake’s form. She dropped from his grasp. He’d hoped Hexer would catch her, but he was throwing daggers at the head of the Vrag that had eaten Spooky. Piper fell. His love splayed on the floor like something tossed away unwanted.
But she was wanted. Wanted more than anything he’d ever wanted. He loved her and would never love anyone but her. Of that he was sure. He dropped from the rafter to her side and transformed. He scooped her up in his arms and ran.
He’d run through the mainframe room and down the corridor. To the ladder. Down it and into the jungle. He would find the Shimmer, and he’d go home. Take his love home. The healing trees on Boon World would recreate her in her original form. She’d be alive and well on his beautiful world. And she could choose for herself if she could love him.
That was Guy’s plan. And he was already in the mainframe room, holding Piper tightly to his chest, when Chick hollered, “Got it!”
All went dark, but with his snake vision Guy saw the Vrag drop to the floor. Their limbs go limp and lifeless. A shred of Spooky’s pants hung from the devouring monster’s mouth. The mainframes once eerie blue, now black as the night. Dead. All of the monsters were dead. The Vrag. The Ingenium. The bots. All dead. But, they’d taken Spooky with them, to wherever the dead go. And they’d lost Leo in the battle to free the worlds.
But not his Piper. He had her. He’d make sure she had a chance at life. A real life. But would she recover? Would she ever be the same?
Chick let the keyboard slip from her hands. It crashed to the floor, and the sound echoed through the now tranquil corridors. Mo hugged her. “You did it, my love. You saved us.” She collapsed into his arms.
Hexer dipped his head at Guy. “Thank you, my son, for keeping my granddaughter safe.”
Trubel disappeared down a corridor. Aron pried open the Vrag’s mouth that had swallowed his sister. Nothing remained except the piece of pant and a sticky residue. He sank to the floor. River crawled into his lap and Ransome laid his head there. Kappa joined them. It would take a while for these soldiers to find peace in the fact Spooky had fought hard for them. For all of them. And died a warrior’s death. She’d helped save the worlds so her future grandchildren could be born into a Gate World without the Ingenium regime and Vrag invasion.
She fulfilled a prophecy Booners had told their children from one generation to the next. A Gate Worlder, the least likely of all species, would lead an army to save the worlds. Guy was a child the first time his parents told him the story. Little did he know that he would be a soldier in her army one day.
He now remembered the rest of the prophecy. One of his kind would save a Starling. The two of them would mate and bring diversity to Ternion and Boon Worlds. Could that be him? He pressed his lips to hers, delicately. And decided it was.
Chick approached him and put her cheek to her daughter’s forehead. “You are so cold my little one, who I never got to know.” Tears flowed down Chick’s cheeks. She laid her hand on her daughter’s chest. “She breathes ever on slightly.”
“If you let me take her to my world, our trees will heal her,” Guy said. Chick studied him with a questioning look. “I promise,” he said and added, “help me find the Shimmer? We don’t have much time.” Chick nodded.
With the Ingenium disabled and the Vrag dead, the Shimmers could come out of hiding and re-open their pathways from one world to another. Pathways even humans might learn to travel one day, once they learn the universe doesn’t exist for Gate Worlders alone.
On Boon World: Guy
Back on his world, Guy’s people celebrated. They gathered all the Vrag bodies and dumped them into the bottom of their deepest ocean for the fish to eat. Guy didn’t have time to celebrate. He ran to his home carrying a comatose Piper and placed her in his most cherished tree. The one with weeping branches shrouded in a billowy cascade of bright green, slender leaves. The tree that had brought him back to life numerous times. Surely it would revive his love too. Surely. It had too.
What Guy didn’t know at the time was though his tree had indeed restored him, Piper was a Starling and a Times Three, and the process would take years for the tree to evolve enough to absorb and adapt the DNA of an entirely different species than a Booner. He waited. Held daily vigils offering prayers and plenty of water and nourishment to his tree. For his love. He waited.
What other purpose did he have? The Vrag had killed his parents. Destroyed his home. He wanted to do nothing more than wait. Wait for her.
On Gate World: Aron
Aron looked at his smartwatch. Nearly noon. He needed to get the kids out of the water and some lunch in their bellies. It was times like this—a lull, an in-between time, from his kid-filled life—when he most often thought of Spooky. He’d tried to move on. Put the Vrag, the Ingenium, Ternion, and the Shimmers all behind him.
But on days when he stretches out on the sandy beach and watches River and Kappa play in the waves in the Gulf of Mexico, he thinks of her. The sister he never really got to know. Other times River asks, “Do you miss your sister? I’d miss my brother if the Vrag had eaten him.”
And when this happens it all floods back in. The horrors of the Ingenium and the Vrag. And he remembers Spooky’s last moments.
He remembers he and Ransome attacking the Vrag. He in his wolf. But once they attacked, the Vrag reeled Spooky toward its mouth, lashed out at her, and gobbled her up within its steel trap. She reached out for him. “Don’t, Aron,” she’d cried. “Take care of the kids. I’m in the Up-High now. Nothing can hurt me.”
He’d never forgotten the look on her face. Not horror-stricken but almost peaceful—just before Vrag acid began to eat the skin from her face.
The strange thing, though, and he always wondered, all traces of her body disappeared before the Vrag’s steel jaw clamped shut. And when he had pried it open there were no bones, no hair, no trace of her whatsoever except for a shredded piece of her cargo pants. He always questioned how nothing remained of her. He’d searched the Ingenium homecraft. The jungle. The look-out hoping perhaps the Shimmer had saved her. Or maybe Shayd. But she was nowhere to be found.
To this day, every day before and every day after, he carried the scrap of cloth in the upper, left-hand pocket of his cowboy shirt.
If some supernatural force had spirited her away, would she get a message to him somehow? But after five years—and that’s how long it’d been—he thought not.
River and Kappa didn’t want to return to their world. They wanted to remain with him, but they missed the ocean. So Aron sold his marijuana business in Colorado and made enough to retire comfortably to a remote little cozy, ocean-front cabana in Port Aransas, Texas.
He visited Brodie and Dovie right before relocating. Dovie had moved in with Brodie after the baby was born. She been hired as an online teacher for the state of Colorado. Her husband was still on some rig out in the ocean, but would be returning soon. He had lots of job offers in Colorado. The oil and natural gas business was booming there.
“Have you seen, Spooky?” Brodie asked him.
“No, I haven’t,” he’d answered. And he hadn’t. Not in a long time. “I know she was always writing a journal and notes to you and Dovie on her computer. Did you find them?”
“Yes,” Brodie said, “all of them. But they didn’t make any sense. Especially the last one. Something about some mission so we could live in a world without monsters.” He scratched his head. “I guess she was off her meds.”
Aron didn’t know what to say. If he told the truth, then Brodie would think he needed meds. So he said the only thing he could. “I didn’t know her well. Would’ve liked to have known her a lot better. But I knew her well enough to know she loved her family more than anything else in this world. And if she had a mission to go on, she understood how important it was so her family could continue the life they were given. And if there were monsters, Spooky sure as hell would be the one to fight them.”
Brodie chuckled, “She always had her monsters. Her ghosts. Her weird ways. I loved her, though, despite all…I wish I’d told her. Lord knows she had every right to leave me years ago because of my…” He hesitated. “Let’s just say because of my foolishness. But I think you are right, if she didn’t leave me then, she wouldn’t have left me now, except for a very good reason. I hope one day I find out what that reason was.”
“I hope you do too,” Aron had said, shook Brodie’s hand, and left feeling confident even not knowing, they’d be okay.
On Avenir World: Spooky and Shayd
Spooky panicked. She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t feel like herself. Her body was different. Smooth. Toned. No knee or hip pain. She explored with her hands, left and right. Closed and opened her eyes several times. She was in some type of enclosed chamber. Soft bedding beneath. A light sheet covering her nude body and a transparent bubble above her. “Help?” she managed to say, but her voice didn’t sound the same. It sounded raspy, like when waking in the morning after a deep sleep. She rapped lightly on the dome. “Anybody there? Hello?”
In the shadows to her right she saw movement. “Who’s there?” She waited a second then again said, “Hello.”
That place in her head, reserved for Shayd, said, “Spooky, it’s me. Do you know who I am?”
“Shayd, where am I?”
“Tell me the last thing you remember?”
She searched deep but found no tangible memories. She knew Shayd, but he was the only one. “My brain hurts, why?” She heard Shayd’s laughter, musical, like church bells. “Why are you laughing at my hurting brain?”
“It’s just a funny thing for you to say after all this time,” he said.
“All this time?”
“Can you remember where you were before now?”
Things swam about in her brain. Millions of pieces of things. Millions of flashes of tiny colored lights sparked here and there in some ungodly, random order. Like angler fish with their bioluminescence in the blackest depths of the oceans. None of the flashes seemed to fit into the realm of possibilities.
There were flashes of eight-legged monsters, of robots, of computers. Children with web feet. A snake man. A wolf man. A blue tattooed woman. “What are these things? Who are these people?”
“Spooky, let’s go back further,” Shayd coached. She nodded. “I want you to look at the screen directly above you. I’ll show you some images. Tell me if you recognize any of them.”
The first image was that of a young woman. A pretty young woman. Long blonde hair. Sweet features like an angel. Slight of build like a little pixie. She held a child in her arms. A boy. A perfect reflection of her. “It’s Dovie. She had the baby. She’s so happy.” Tears formed. Spooky tried to blink them away, instead an overflow spilled from her eyes and trickled to the soft bedding beneath her.
“That’s very good, my love. I’m going to show you another image. Tell me who this is.”
An older man stood behind Dovie and tickled the boy. The child giggled and squirmed. Tears swelled again in Spooky’s eyes. “It’s Brodie. Dovie’s father.”
“Good, Spooky. Very good.”
“Shayd, am I dead? Is this heaven?”
“You never believed in heaven. Why would you now?”
“Well, then, is this hell?”
“You never believed in a hell or a devil either. You believed in a Creator, however.”
“I did, didn’t I? Is that where I am?”
“No. You are with me. On Avenir World. Try to remember right before now. Leave Dovie and Brodie. And move forward. Try to remember why you left your husband and pregnant daughter.”
“Does it have to do with the monsters? I keep seeing them in the flashes of light in my brain?”
“What do you remember?’
“A monster and a swing. My up-high swing. But it doesn’t make sense.” She could feel herself drifting off to sleep. “I don’t want to go,” she murmured as her eyes closed. “I want to remember.”
“You brain is trying to protect you, my love. As am I. But you must remember before I can let you out of the regeneration chamber.”
“But it hurts.”
“It is necessary to hurt so you can be fully alive. And with me. Forever. Sleep now. More tomorrow and the next day. You came much further today than in days past. Soon you will be you again. And I will be able to hold you in my arms.”
The days became months, six total, but Spooky did finally remember. Everything. Even the pain. And when the day arrived—her download complete—Shayd lifted the transparent protective dome, took her in his arms and kissed her for the first time, though they had been never been apart in sixty years.
“I really never thought that we would kiss. Are you sure I’m not dead? Or dreaming?”
His head went back and his musical laughter filled their living quarters. “I assure you. You are neither dead nor dreaming. I am here and will be as I have always been. Your lover and protector. Your docent.”
He was more handsome than she could have ever imagined. Her idea of a dream man. Spooky traced his beautiful facial features with her finger tips. “I never thought I’d be able to do this. Sometimes I thought you were merely in my head and of my own design. But here we are.”
He kissed the palm of her hand. “When you were a baby and the Avenir discovered you were the one to carry out their mission, they stole you from your crib one night and implanted in you a link to me, making it possible for me to be there to guide and protect you. So…I was literally in your head.”
“I knew you were different from Chetan and Singer, I just didn’t realize how different.” She’d wanted to ask him for days—once most of her memory returned—but she was afraid of his answer. Now, however, feeling her firm, young body against his, she had to know. She pulled her arm from around his waist. Turned it one way and then the other. “This body, what or whose is it? And what happened to mine?”
Shayd broke eye contact. “Your body was almost destroyed by the Vrag’s acid. The Avenir created you a new body in the image I gave them. The way I always saw you.”
She giggled. “You saw me a lot better than I saw myself then. This body has no flaws. Precise portions from my breasts to waist to hips. No scars or moles or blemishes. Not even a stretch mark. There is no heaviness to this body. I feel like air, not like me. And before, I had many flaws.”
He tilted her chin up toward him and brushed his lips against hers. “This is the way I saw you. But we can add some flaws if that will make you happy.”
“Am I a bot? I don’t want to be a bot. I hated those machines on Ternion. Mindless, artificial things with no soul.”
“You have a soul, my love. Never doubt it. We Avenir learned from the Ingenium mistakes. You have nothing to fear. You are you.”
She shook her head. “It’s just…” She looked away. “What am I?”
“You are the same as me,” Shayd said. “We are Avenir. We are the future.”
Spooky never asked Shayd again. She was afraid to ask. Afraid of his answer. So she went on to her other questions. “Chick? Hexer? Guy? Piper? My brother? Oh my brother, I miss him. The kids?”
He took her hand and pulled her in front of sphere composed of crystallized blue brightness. It was as if she were looking into a star. “Here you will find answers,” he said.
A movie—starring people she knew—played out in front of her. Aron and Ransome were playing in the ocean with River and Kappa. Ransome was chasing Kappa. And River was diving off Aron’s shoulders into the waves. Tears came again, but they were not from a feeling of loss, but from a feeling of elation.
Next up was Ternion World with all its green and all its jungle. Her eyes followed a path which led to an impressive structure. Not a palace or castle. Not a mansion but a pyramid made of a translucent, opalescent material. The door opened into a spacious hall decorated with a minimalist’s personality in mind. There sat Chick and Mogotsi in large throne-like, elaborately carved, wooden rocking chairs. Each had a baby in their lap. Twins. Spooky smiled. A boy and a girl.
Piper stood beside Chick with Guy’s hand in hers. Hexer was on a step behind them, giving him the appearance of someone in command. “That’s Hexer for you. Always placing himself above everyone else. He called me Old Shoes. Wished he could see me now. Old shoes, indeed.” She giggled. “Look how happy they are. And Piper?”
“Guy took her back to Boon World. To his healing trees,” Shayd explained. ‘Once she recovered and she regained her strength, they returned to Ternion to get help carrying out their mission.”
“And what mission might that be?”
“To introduce diversity into the worlds. To unite all the worlds so no one species can ever invade and conquer another. Piper and Guy believe if they set an example, they can help others to understand that their differences are what makes for undefeatable worlds. And an understanding and unification of these differences will result in the best type of protection for all. They don’t call it differences, however. Guy calls them gifts. Piper calls them super powers.”
She watched the group as they carried on casual conversations about the babies, the weather, and each other’s activities. Once the babies fell asleep, a nanny carried them off, and the group retreated to a large round table where they were joined by a delegation of beings from the other worlds. They discussed future projects to restore the worlds to their condition prior to the Vrag invasion.
“Wow, how impressive.”
“Because of you, my love. You helped to make this possible.” Shayd flicked the remote to the next scene. Outside the royal pyramid of the United Worlds, in the center of a water fountain, a statue of an older woman had been erected. She wore a tank top and cargo pants. A holster strapped around her waist held a revolver. Her left hand rested on the massive shoulder of the wolf beside her. A large engraved plaque at the bottom of the statue read: Old Shoes, Wise and Mighty.
Spooky smiled and squeezed Shayd’s hand.
A single light shone through the heavy mass of wet, viridian vines now cloaking the azoic Ingenium homecraft. Chittering birds, long-legged spiders, and nosey beetles had found homes within the leaves, and went about their daily chore of survival, clueless to the devastation the craft’s occupants had once inflicted upon the worlds.
The light came from a secret room the resistance never discovered. Once locked and silent, now the door to the room flung open and belched light through the dense foliage. Like a beacon in the dark signaling some waiting, unknown force, announcing: It is time.
The ever-restless nighthawk cocked his head one way then the other and drove his beady black eye into an opening in the vines to get a peek at what mysteries lay within. There, Trubel monitored computer data to the right of a stasis chamber containing Leo. On the other side, a bot removed electrodes from Leo that connected him to a big brain.
The young man bolted upright into a sitting position. Flashed red eyes at the peering bird. Opened his mouth in a disturbing gape and screamed, expelling—not vocals—but a loud, ear-piercing, mechanical whirring sound.
The nighthawk flew for safety. The beetles scurried to the ground. Spiders abandoned their fine glistening webs as the jungle cringed and recoiled in horror from that all-too-soon forgotten, but now remembered, sound.
This concludes Hell Town RV Park. I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey. I’d love to hear from you—any thoughts or ideas you have about Spooky and her adventure, the conclusion, the characters. Anything at all. Would you enjoy a sequel? Would you recommend this web serial to a friend?
I’ll return after the new year with additional fantasy/horror/science fiction blogs. And then this spring I’ll begin a new web serial, entitled White Owl Dancing, based in part on Native American legend and lore.
Hell Town RV Park will remain on my website for a year, at which time it will be formatted into an ebook and sold on Amazon.
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.