Hell Town RV Park
For Those Who Believe in Other Worlds
by Clara Bush
Artwork by Lara Clayton
(To start at the beginning with Episode 1 click here.)
(Rated Mature for Adult content)
Chapter 2: On Gate World
(Last time on Hell Town: “Why don’t the Avenir do more since they seem to be almighty?” Spooky asked.
Hexer bowed his head, creating a humbling indication of his disadvantage. “Like all of us, they have their limitations.”
“They are from the future,” he said. “They can do little to interfere, even though they are fully aware of what our failure means.”
The moon slipped from the sky like vanilla ice cream on hot blackberry cobbler. Suddenly. Silently. And took with it all available light. A blackness crawled over the ocean of sand, sage, and cacti—thick and heavy—like the gods had spilled a huge bottle of ink. Maybe, the Avenir had, thought Spooky. Maybe, all the blips in the world, when the clocks stop or electricity goes out, are the results of the Starlings directing time to confuse the Vrag. Maybe. She’d ask Chick one day. After all this was over. For now, only Hexer’s red eyes were visible in the pitch black. Ransome whined and released a fretful sigh as if to say, this is not good.)
Stranger Earths: Flesh and Blood
“Well, there was this one time…” Piper repeated, stalling until she could think of a story to tell. Whenever she closed her eyes, flashes of The Shimmer flickered on and off behind her lids like the end of a reel in an old-time black and white movie. She pressed her forehead into her palm.
She would not tell them about The Shimmer. She would not. Under no circumstance would she, even though it was the scariest thing that had ever happened to her. It was her secret. Hers to keep. “Let’s see. There was this time. I woke up. A lady…in a white gown. Was standing over me. I didn’t know her. When I asked what she wanted. Poof. She disappeared. But there was mud all over my carpet where she had been standing.”
Sabre made a gagging sound. “That’s the Lady of the Lake story. We’ve all heard it. You gotta do better than that.”
“Give us a real story. Something that happened to you. A personal story. Something that has never happened to anyone before. Except for you,” Jag said and shook her shoulder.
His touch set off rapid flashes of Shimmer images. If she didn’t know better, she’d almost think the untouchables were goading her into telling them about The Shimmer. But that was silly. How would they know? She’d never told anyone about it except her mom. Besides, The Shimmer wasn’t scary to her anymore. It visited her regularly. Its glistening webs fascinated her.
The first time she touched The Shimmer, it drained her energy, but it no longer impacted her in this way. In fact, it was quite the opposite. She would stare into its radiating glow—the silvers, blues, and webs of rainbow colors—until she could see nothing but it. Then she’d plunge her hand into its core, and a sudden jolt would send her to places she knew didn’t exist on Earth. They were her adventures. Adventures she shared with no one but her Shimmer.
When she woke from such an episode, she felt invigorated like she could accomplish anything in the world. Other than being with Leo, it was the best feeling ever. A feeling she wasn’t about to share with anyone. Except…maybe Leo.
“Scariest thing. Huh? Let’s see.” Piper wanted to tell them she lived a boring life. Nothing scary had happened to her. But she knew her ploy wouldn’t fly. “My mom bought me this antique doll once. I think it was possessed, because I’d put her on my shelf when I went to bed. About midnight, I’d feel this pressure on my chest, making it hard to breathe. I’d wake and find this freaky doll sitting on me. Grinning. Eyes blinking. I tried throwing it in the trash, but it returned. I told my mom the doll scared me. She tied a brick to the thing and threw it in Devil’s Hole Lake.” Spooky did a shimmy- shake with her shoulders to fake a chill.“The doll never returned after that.” The untouchables studied Piper. She studied them for a minute, then preoccupied herself by scratching at the dirt with a stick. “I was very young.” She added. “I don’t remember all the details, except…” she eyed them, “how scared I was. And how ugly and evil the doll looked.”
Nothing could be heard, but the fire, as embers spluttered and snapped toward the ascending moon. At campfires Piper attended in the past, the smoke always followed her. Tonight, however, she watched it trail toward the moonlight, creating a ghostly illusion. She drew a heart in the dirt and put her initials in it, a plus sign, and left the bottom of the heart blank. Leo borrowed her stick, etched his initials in the heart, and wrapped his arm around Piper’s waist.
“You are so full of crap,” Gaze said. “That’s the Annabelle storyline. Came on the SyFy Channel the other night. You must’ve watched it.”
Lynx stepped out of the shadows. Gangly. All arms and legs. No butt. Not quite the picture perfect image the other untouchable guys oozed with their broad shoulders, tapered waists, bulging biceps, and defined asses. “Not the same story. Annabelle never sat on anyone’s chest,” he said and straddled a low-hanging ancient oak tree branch. It took only one hop from his long legs to mound the branch, which resembled a bedraggled dragon’s head in the dimming moonlight, meandering smoke, and approaching fog.
Gaze tossed a twig at Leo. “She’s all yours. This is getting us nowhere.”
“We could do the ceremonial initiation,” Ibis offered. “I mean, Piper is lit. She’d be a rad addition to our little group.”
“If she passes, you mean.” Jag chuckled.
Piper thought she saw winks exchanged between Gaze, Sabre, Ibis, and Jag. Leo frowned. Lynx dismounted and sauntered back into the shadows. She couldn’t figure out what they were after, but for Leo’s sake, she’d play along. “Let’s do it.”
“You sure?” Jag asked.
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
Jag took something from his pocket and stood over the fire. The small object glistened in the firelight. He placed the end of his little finger in it and squeezed. Off popped his pinky tip into the fire. It hissed. He bled over the flames for a few seconds. Sabre tore off a piece of her t-shirt, wrapped it around his finger, took the cutter from Jag, and repeated his action.
Must be a cigar cutter. Piper had watched her Uncle Max use one a long time ago. He was a smoker. She didn’t care for him much, or his gaudy gold jewelry and greased-back hair. May not have even been her uncle. Her mom was pretty and young back then. And after meeting him once, Piper never saw him again.
She sensed the untouchables wanted her horrified by their actions. She guessed so she’d be scared off and leave Leo alone. Not happening. She wasn’t about to give them the pleasure. She’d watched a creepy movie not long ago, about a Japanese criminal organization that used finger shortening as a punishment for offenses against their circle of gangsters. “Why are you performing yubitsume?” she asked.
“Don’t know what they call,” Jag said. “But we do it to show loyalty to our group. By spilling blood and offering a small self-sacrifice, we promise to stay true to each other no matter what. True Binding, we call it. You’ll never miss the tip of your pinky.”
Sabre tossed the cutter to Leo with a smirk smeared across her beautiful, but bitchy-looking face. “Your turn, lover boy.”
Leo hesitated. Examined Piper’s expression. Then grabbed the cutter and pressed. He didn’t yelp, or squirm, or even flinch. One quick movement and the tip of his finger sizzled in the fire like a sausage.
Piper tore the sleeve from her Girls Are Meaner t-shirt and covered Leo’s finger. She took the cutter from Leo, examined it. Yep, cigar cutter, and threw it to Gaze. “If this is something you have done before, show me your nubs.”
The untouchables gave a calculated glance in each other’s direction. “They grow back,” Lynx said weakly from his preferred distance.
“What are you, salamanders?” Piper asked. No one offered an explanation. “Does it have to be a finger or does it just have to be flesh and blood?”
“Flesh and blood,” Leo murmured.
“I’ll need a knife,” Piper said.
Leo dug into his pocket and retrieved his Swiss Army. Poured some beer over the blade and handed it to Piper.
“How appropriate,” she scoffed, “a knife that does everything.”
“Be careful. It’s sharp,” he said.
“I won’t cut off my finger tip, but I think this will work.” Piper sliced through the skin on her left arm, the part featuring an indigo tat, and flung the skin into the fire.
Ibis gasped. “Your beautiful tattoo. Why would you do that?”
“It’ll grow back,” Piper said and snickered as her blood dripped down her arm and into the fire.
“What the fuck, Piper,” Leo said as he ripped his shirt tail and attempted to bandage her arm.
She shoved his hand away. “No watch.” The bleeding stopped and her flesh began to bubble and dance, like a boiling pot of water. The wound meshed over, giving it the appearance of an organic gauze. Within seconds, there was no evidence of any type of injury. Even her tat regained its original design.
Gaze, Ibis, and Sabre stood aghast. Mouths open as wide as the distant moon. Gaze ran her hand over the spot. “How the fuck did you do that?”
“Doesn’t everyone?” She picked up Leo’s hand, held it to the firelight, then Sabre’s. No evidence of finger shortening. “Apparently, you do too. What’s the big deal?”
The untouchables gathered around her, each taking turns to touch the freshly cut area. Even Lynx came out of hiding to see. They looked from one to the other.
Gaze said, “But you’re human.”
“Sure, aren’t you?”
They all stepped back, shaking their heads. Piper chuckled to herself. The untouchables could be touched. And rattled. And even shocked. She had them right where she wanted them.
Piper didn’t know why the tattoo, and the skin in close proximity to it, regenerated. As a child she discovered, if she cut the area on or around her tat, which she did often when she played, it healed almost instantly, unlike other parts of her body. At the time she was too young, and too busy playing, to care. She asked her mom how she came to have the tattoo. Her mom told her, “Oh sweetie, it’s no tattoo. It’s a birthmark. The doctor said so.” But as Piper grew older, the tat deepened to its current indigo shade and a defined netting of leaves and vines appeared.
On her birthday each year, the leaves and vines spread. Everyone thought the tattoo was one she added to regularly. Piper never said differently. She’d say, “Oh yeah. You like it? My tattoo artist did it for me yesterday.” She fancied others thinking she was badass enough to get one. She often daydreamed the design would one day cover her entire body and make her indestructible. But surely that could never happen. Could it?
To continue reading the Hell Town Web Serial, click on the link below.
The WEB SERIAL, or WTH is it?
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 a new addition to the Hell Town RV Park Web Serial family. She is a former drama and English student of mine, and 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.
The RV Files is fiction. Any characters and events depicted in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, extraterrestrials, demons, werewolves, or ghosts—living or dead—is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Copyright ©: 2017 by Clara Bush
All rights reserved. Published by TURTLE TOP COVE LP.
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For information regarding permission, write to:
TURTLE TOP COVE LP.
P.O. Box 158
South Fork, Colorado 81154
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