Hell Town RV Park
For Those Who Believe in Other Worlds
by Clara Bush
Artwork by Lara Clayton
(for Episode 1 click here)
(Rated Mature for Adult content)
(Last Time on Hell Town, Spooky said to Shayd:
“I’m going to die, aren’t I? I feel it as sure as I feel you. Have you seen my death?”
“The Avenir prevented me from knowing how you die. They feared I’d intervene. And they are right. I would. They did not even reveal to me the nature of your mission. I only knew there was one and that was the reason they were sending me to you. I found out what it was the same night you did. Trust me enough to know how much I love you. And I will do everything in my power to bring you home safe to Dovie and even old Brodie.”
“I wish I could hold you. Even touch you. Just once. All these years of loving someone intangible has been…” Spooky couldn’t finish. This love affair with Shayd was what? Exquisite? Heartbreaking? Incurable? Wondrous? Yes, all of those plus so much more. She wiped the surge of tears from her eyes with the back of her hand and tried to compose herself, but her shoulders continued to shake from the sobs, and her heaving chest seemed it might split in two. “What happens when we die? Do you know?”
“I do. But if I share this information with you, the Avenir will terminate me. Because…you see…it is a secret my kind have always known. Our mission is too important to risk such a misguided confession.”)
Stranger Earths: Loneliness and Love
Spooky threw herself onto the bed, trying to soothe the broken person she perceived herself to be. All her guilt of being a bad wife and mother poured into her like the weight of a suffocating mudslide.
Shayd, the only way he could, wrapped his essence about her and pulled her close. She delighted in his warmth and light. Her sorrow ebbed. He washed away her guilt—as he always had—rendering her free to love him. Her sobs ceased and her shoulders rested in his strength. “I’d hold you like this forever, if it were possible,” he said.
“You have been a part of me for as long as I can remember. And in case we never get to have moments like this again, know I’ve loved you.” She toyed with the idea of love. She loved Brodie and Dovie, even her unborn grandson. And she loved Shayd. “What makes one person love another?” she asked.
“Not even the Avenir know the answer to that question, my sweet darling,” Shayd said.
“Had I not had you all these years, I’d have been so lonesome I would have died a long time ago. Do you know the kind of lonesome I’m talking about? The kind that burrows itself deep into your soul making it ache and cry in silence because there is no one to tell.” Spooky sighed.
“I experienced this type of loneliness before you. But not since,” he chuckled. “You keep me too busy.” He paused to form an explanation. One he’d never been at liberty to share with Spooky until now. “The life an Avenir lives is a solitary one. Since we are the future, and our life spans are so much longer than sentient beings, we are forbidden to become attached to those who are not Avenir. I defied this edict when I met you.”
Shayd stopped time, giving Spooky the moments she needed to power her energy with his force, making her more fearless with each passing second. When he was sure she was fully revitalized, he said, “Chetan and I found the portal to the girl’s dimension. Aron is just outside and ready. Go splash some cool water in your face. Brush your teeth and hair. You look a fright. You don’t want to scare the poor child.”
Spooky flipped her bangs off her forehead. “Not making me feel any better right now.” She ambled her way to the back bathroom. Turned on the light, peered in the mirror, and shrieked.
“Don’t be so dramatic,” Shayd said.
“I’m not. You were right. I look too bad to go.” She was joking but not. The purple under her eyes, deep and bordering on black. Her lids rimmed in red. And her nose stood out like Rudolph’s. “Jeeze, what did I do to myself.”
“Aron mentioned Grande Margaritas.”
“I’ll have to talk to that brother of mine. Always spreading rumors. What’s a girl to do?”
“You need to hurry. Brodie will be home soon. We don’t want to have to explain.”
“Should we wait until tomorrow?” she asked in earnest.
“If we could, we would. Chetan and I scouted out the girl. She has a lover who is a Times Three—”
“What? Aren’t the Times the ones siding with the Vrag? Her lover? Could this be any harder? How do you think an old lady with a red nose is going to persuade a girl to forsake her boyfriend to help us?”
“We have to. We don’t have a choice. I’m sure he is with her in order to gain possession of The Shimmer. If she were to give it to him instead of us, it would be the end to all except the Vrag and the Times Threes. And I can promise you, if the Vrag have their way, the Times Threes won’t be around for long either.”
She jotted a note to Brodie and stuck it on top of her computer. It read: Going out for dinner with Aron. Wish you’d waited on me. But. Anyway. Guess we’re not in that place, yet. Will we ever be? Again? Like we used to be? Once. If I should die before you wake, open my computer and read the file. My password is: ravenNow. I love you. Your Spooky.
Stranger Earths: The Portal
Spooky stepped out of her RV. A dry, hot wind slammed into her face and stung the rawness of her recent, tear-drenched cheeks. It then shifted to a cool breeze, with murmurs of, we are here, offered by Chetan and Singer.
“You feeling better,” Aron asked. She nodded.
Chick, Hexer, Guy, River, and Kappa stood behind Aron like a gathering of curious sea gulls. “The entire gang is here, huh? You guys going too?” Spooky asked.
Chick placed her hand on Spooky’s shoulder. The indigo of her irises penetrated the misty film covering Spooky’s swollen eyes. “Not with you. But we will be watching. From a distance. In case…” Chick glanced above into the starless night and nodded her head—down, then up—quickly. A moon, golden and round, popped into the sky as if it had been playing a game of hide and seek.
Spooky could have sworn it said, boo. “Neat trick, Time Keeper.”
Chick bowed. “At your service, always. Your path is lit.” She motioned toward the direction painted by the moon. “Follow.”
Spooky did as directed. Aron behind with Ransome. The dog turned back to the group and barked, as if to say, later. Then trotted ahead, sniffing as he went, clearing the path of night creatures and vermin. A large tarantula scrambled aside. An armadillo did a flip and scurried into the brush. An owl, on silent wings, grazed the top of Spooky’s head in a comforting touch as if to show support for their endeavor. As it flew toward the moon, its distant hoo hoohoo hoo hoo, deep and resonating, created an unearthly, but not a vexatious vibe.
The moon’s ascension cascaded more light onto the three the farther they walked. Critters, of all shapes and sizes, watched as if bystanders in a parade. Their eyes caught the moonlight and beamed like fallen stars along the ground and among the shrubs and mesquite. Thousands of shining eyes to bear witness.
Aron took the lead. Spooky watched her feet drudge ahead on the desert-like dirt. Once she glanced back and wondered why they left no prints behind. She couldn’t be tracked. Not even by her detective husband. And perhaps, that was the intent.
How long they walked, she wasn’t sure. It seemed forever, and yet, mere seconds. That was the thing about her stint in Hell Town. Time had no direction and served no purpose. Instead it came and went as it pleased. Before all this, Spooky was confident she’d rise in the mornings and have a full day on her computer telling fortunes and interpreting zodiac signs for her clients. She’d prepare dinner for her and Brodie. They’d watch TV, sleep, and the next day, start all over again. Now she couldn’t be sure what night a moon would rise. Or if day would find its way to her. There was no knowing. Time was derelict and unresponsive to her typical twenty-four hour whims.
Time, love, night critters, the Vrag, the Times Threes, and Piper kept Spooky’s thoughts in a such turmoil, it no longer seemed as if minutes slipped away, but instead, that the moon gobbled up large chunks of time to keep her disorientated. Yet, it rose higher and higher in its realm, like a mighty lord. Her aching feet told her she’d walked for miles and miles, and hours and hours, but had she?
Finally, Aron came to a stop. Spooky looked up and found they stood in the middle of a natural, sandstone archway with a half-moon peeking through its opening. Jagged rocks framed the celestial sphere like it was a wall hanging. Their moon—the one Chick had summoned—remained, guarding and ever watchful.
Spooky, Aron, and Ransome scouted their surroundings, touching the archway but not entering. Studying the moons and their skies. Noting their surroundings were the same but somehow different. “Now, what?” Spooky asked.
“Through the archway is the dimension in which the girl resides. When you walk through the arch, you should be in close proximity to the girl,” Shayd said.
“Very. Like in her yard, very.”
“So we knock on the door and say—” Before Spooky could finish, the archway became liquid but still held onto its original form, like what she imagined being inside the hollow of a massive wave must look like to a seasoned surfer. Like, if she pricked it, the entire formation would collapse around her in a watery mess, capsizing her, towing her under, deeper and deeper. Mouth and lungs filling with water, until she could breathe no more.
She reached out to touch it. To see what would happen, but the earth beneath her began to quake. Aron grabbed her and pulled her close, holding her with one arm while trying to find something on which to tether them. Finding nothing, he pulled Spooky to the ground and onto her stomach. He lay on top of her to shield and protect.
“Shayd,” she screamed. “What do we do?” An electrified clap, like thunder, and a sudden burst of light left Spooky blind and deaf. “Aron! Where are you?” She could no longer feel him, nor the ground beneath her. Was she levitating? Was she being transported through the portal?
She stretched to touch above her, below, and then to her sides. Nothing. “Shayd? Aron? Where are you? Where am I?” She felt again for something. Anything. “This nothingness scares me. Please. Please. Someone?” she screamed.
Instead of an answer, she was propelled forward. Then immediately pulled back. Like a rope in a game of tug-of-war. She had no control of her body and the lack thereof ripped through her gut like acid.
Crash. Electrified clap. Cold. Like a northern blowing in. Spooky again reached for something. Anything. But the cold, with frigid fingers, attempted to strangle and restraint her probing. The unknown had swallowed her, she was sure, and had summoned fear. Fear so corporeal it threatened to rip her heart from her chest like a blood-starved monster. “I didn’t step through the portal. I know I didn’t. Stop! Stop now. Whatever you are trying to do to me. Just stop.”
A random giggle—weak but maddening, followed by continuous claps of deafening thunder—answered. Spooky couldn’t hear anything except this sliver of a laugh. It rose up around her, sending little shocks dancing about on her spine. Were demons laughing at her? Was she already dead, not even given the chance to begin her mission?
In this moment—gathered amid the laughter, the cold, the thunder, the total loss of control—one thought beamed clear as a bluebird day in Spooky’s mind. To be home with her hot tea, a honey-buttered crumpet, and a good book. And have the little dog she once owned cuddled in her lap. Knowing Brodie would be back later and Dovie would visit in the evening. To have and to have known these sweets of everyday simplicity is all she needed or ever wanted. “Why am I here? I don’t want this. I never did,” she shouted.
The tugging back and forth. Spooky’s body torn one way then another, forced her to cry out in painful moans. She thought every bone in her body would shatter just like all of her dreams of an uncomplicated life. “Ow, it hurts,” she whimpered, too weak to scream anymore. “Please, please. No more. Shayd? Aron? Help me. Hel—”
Surrounding her, giggles. Giggles louder than the thunder. The cold pierced. The earth rumbled. One final clap and as suddenly as it came, the nothingness dissolved. Spooky lay stretched out flat on her stomach, in the dirt, as before, but no Aron on top.
She rolled onto her back and came face to face with a girl whose eyes were the color of Chick’s. The girl stood over Spooky. She giggled. The same giggle Spooky had heard in the nothingness. “Are you real?” Spooky asked.
To continue following the adventures of 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 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.