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)
(Last time on Hell Town: Blood soaked Piper’s chubby-unicorn t-shirt. Dismayed, she murmured, “Help, Shimmer. My Shimmer…” She faltered, weaving from side to side. She placed her hand to the pain radiating from her left shoulder and pulled it away, displaying a palm full of blood. Her legs buckled beneath her, and the viridian grass and purple wildflowers beckoned her wounded body. Leo caught her in his arms.
Kappa tippy-toed from his sanctuary. He stood before the Shimmer with palms outstretched and whispered, “All that is. All that has been. All that is to be. This is you.” He bowed. “I, Kappa of Mist World and paladin of the Shimmer force, ask of you nothing except that which has been promised.” And at that precise moment, the Shimmer engulfed Piper, Leo, and Spooky and her army in one massive, instantaneous sweep.
Trubel stood, mouth gaping, body language confounded and deformed, as he stared at the now empty park on Gate World Alpha. Empty except for the bodies of his two associates.)
Stranger Earths: Trubel’s Earth
Encrypted with Trubel’s Times Three DNA code, Piper’s Shimmer carried the troop of insurgents to the only world it could. And luckily, Trubel had no way to follow. His means of conveyance—the Rooi and the Shimmer—were gone. He kicked the body of the dead associate closest to him. “You, losers. You let them get away. Worthless pieces of …” Expletives followed, overloaded with anger, frustration, and yes, hate. And shattered the serenity of the once picturesque park. He screamed he’d find a way back to his home world and make them pay. All of them. Even his son.
Other Worlds: On Ternion World
Unlike the portal through which Spooky traveled to another Earth—where she experienced a floating sensation and smelled the fragrances from all the other dimensions—and unlike the time Creeper ferried her to Avenir World—transportation via Shimmer was like a flare of bright, multi-colored lights. As if someone snapped a flash photograph, and in that instant, the subjects were absorbed by the burst. Sudden. Blinding. But consumed in all the colors of the blue spectrum. She now understood why the Shimmer was so named.
Wrapped in the aura of this living entity, she could hear its heartbeat—a pulsing, beating sound, like waning waves at the beach’s edge. A hushed tenor arousing a dream state. But before sleep had a chance, she felt ground beneath her.
Spooky knew she was no longer on Earth, or one of its dimensions, but where? If she correctly understood how the Shimmer worked, it had to be the Times Three World. She called out, “Shayd?”
I am with you, he answered in her mind.
She was surrounded by thick, wet foliage. An abundance of green lapped at her like a thirsty dog, and every inch of her body touched some sort of tropical vegetation. There was nowhere to move to free herself from the begging, outstretched leaves of trees, shrubs, and vines.
Moisture glazed over the greenery, giving it a glossy patina. Large, aromatic flowers interrupted the emerald landscape with dots of purples, pinks, reds, and yellows. Sounds of wild things flourished all about her. Parrot-like birds—as big as California condors but vividly colored—soared above the trees and clung to branches, squawking and cawing like a bunch of old ladies at Monday night bingo.
Spooky was sure each of the billion leaves encircling her housed at least a hundred different types of insects. Some chattered. Some cheeped. Others squealed. All the noise resulted in an uneasiness in the pit of her stomach. It wasn’t harmonic, like the cricket symphonies back on Earth, but instead, daunting. Like walking into a pitch black room and feeling someone’s breath on the back of your neck.
She guessed one could become accustomed to it. But, if she had to remain on this world, could she? It did have an alluring beauty, but the warmth and humidity here were more suffocating than the hundred-plus degree temperatures in the arid regions of West Texas. Her bangs fell flat against her forehead, and her hair stuck to her cheeks like overcooked pasta. Her clothes felt as if she pulled them from a dryer and put them on still damp.
Everything on Ternion, if this was indeed Ternion, was larger than on Earth. Bigger leaves, bigger trees, bigger…A sudden cry from a predatory cat caused chills to race up and down her spine. It sounded fierce and close. Big too, she guessed. Where were the others? she wondered. Did they make it? She was hesitant to call out. Shayd, which way? she asked.
Straight ahead a quarter of a mile and then to your right, he answered. And yes, we are on Ternion.
Brushing glistening, droopy vines and leaves aside, Spooky advanced looking ahead first, and then searching the ground below for unknown obstacles. In this awkward way, she proceeded, until Shayd said, Now. Right. She spotted Aron’s cowboy hat and whistled. He turned and signaled for her to come his direction.
Aron wrapped her in his arms and squeezed tight. “Damn, sis, you worried me.” Ransome greeted her with tail wags and licks. Spooky buried her fingers in the tuft of fur at the corners of Ransome’s jaw and gently rocked his head from side to side. “Hey, boy, am I ever glad to see you two.”
“Shayd told me to wait here for you, so I figured you were close. But still I was worried,” Aron said and pointed ahead. “The others are this way. Follow me.”
She allowed a sigh of relief to escape and waved away the mounting tears. She’d found Aron and Ransome. At least she wouldn’t have to exist all alone on this strange world with its noisy creatures and dankness.
Aron led her to a clearing, which backed up against a large outcropping of boulders. The rocks formed a shallow cave. Leo held Piper in his arms under the covering. Piper appeared stunned, in pain, but alert.
Chick was examining the wound. “I know it hurts, Piper. It’s deep. But it’s a flesh wound, and the bleeding has stopped.” The warrior crawled on her hands and knees amongst the tropical foliage and returned with a vine trailing behind her. She then snipped off two yellow flowers with her dagger and crushed the petals, stamen, and the vine together into the hollow of a sizeable stone. She pulsed it with a small rock until it became a type of balm, and then gathered the green, paste-like substance into her palm. “This cleansing poultice will keep it from becoming infected.” She lightly dabbed a bit on the wound with her finger tips.
Piper flinched. “Ouch. What is that?”
“While I was in hiding here on Ternion World, your father taught me about the medicinal powers of the flowers and plants in case Kappa, Rooi, or I were injured,” Chick said. “I don’t recall the exact names the Timerees have given to these plants, but we have flowers and plants similar to these back on my world. On Key World we call the vine, Star Cress. It defends against infection. The yellow flower, Starlings know as Eye of Night, and it aids in healing wounds. I need to apply more? Are you ready?”
Piper nodded for Chick to continue. Once the wound was sufficiently covered with the salve, Chick tore the hem from Hexer’s cape and bandaged Piper’s wound.
Hexer patted his granddaughter’s head. “Your mother is quite the hero back on Key World, little one. She has saved many of our warriors with her knowledge of ancient world medicines and their healing properties.”
Piper looked up and smiled. The first smile Spooky had seen cross the teen’s face. “I was so scared. Thank you,” Piper said and flinched again. “But it hurts like hell.”
Hexer threw his head back and bellowed. “Pain, little one, will make you a strong warrior like your mother. Once, a Vrag slashed her chest open with its claw. She managed to chop off three of its legs with her combat axe, all the while trying to control her blood loss. We were under a surprise attack with few supplies. She used the needle from a tree, a spider’s web, and herbs and plants found on our world to cleanse and sew up her wound. Your mother is someone to be proud of.”
“Proud of her? Proud of her? I don’t know her,” Piper screamed. “It’s fine and dandy for all of you, with your mission and your army, but I’ve lived a life of lies. Never really understanding why I didn’t fit in. My Shimmer was the first to offer me acceptance, and it belongs somewhere else. It belongs to others, who are not me. Even my Shimmer is a lie.” Years of not knowing the truth. Years of not understanding. Came rushing in at Piper like a derailed train. Uncontrollable and threatening. Her shoulders shook as she sobbed into her hands.
Leo put his arm around her, but she pushed him away. “You were a lie too. And you used me.”
“I’m not a lie and I love you,” Leo protested. “I need you now more than ever if we are going to help this…this…army of whatevers to defeat the Vrag.”
Piper turned a red, tear blotched face to Leo. “Everyone has lied. Who can we trust?” She bawled.
And like most mother’s do when their kid throws a tantrum at an inopportune moment, Chick demanded, “Stop this now, child of mine. There’s no time for you to feel sorry for yourself. You need to call forth the strength I know you possess. The strength your father and I gave you, if you…we…are to survive.” She pulled a double-sided axe from the belt around her waist and hacked at the thick, profuse vines. “Wait here until I return,” she ordered and disappeared into the jungle.
“Where are you going?” Spooky hollered, figuring Chick was their best chance at getting home alive.
“Shsh,” Kappa said. “The jungle is listening.” He placed his hand on her thigh.
Spooky picked him up. He weighed nothing, and was thin and bony in her arms. “What are you saying?”
He anchored her hair behind her ear and whispered, “I think we are being watched.”
“So what is it I’m supposed to be doing?” Spooky asked.
“For now, just do your mom thing on Piper. We will need what she has to offer.”
Spooky placed him on the ground. “Again with the mom thing? It isn’t magic, you know.”
“You just did the mom thing with me. And it was magic,” he said and went to his sister. He touched River’s cheek, their eyes met and registered understanding, as if they were communicating in some silent language. River nodded and Kappa twisted toward the direction Chick went.
“What? You’re leaving too?” Spooky asked in a loud whisper.
“When we last were here, we made friends. Not all Times Threes have sided with the Vrag. I’m going with the warrior to see if some of them are still alive and can help us.” Kappa eyed Leo. “Better not betray us or I will cut out your tongue with….” His left hand transformed into a scaly, green reptilian appendage with claws. He waved it in front of Leo’s face and then turned to the vegetation. With one swift swipe of his hand, he slashed the thick undergrowth to shreds.
And as if Piper garnered some of that strength Chick had demanded, she stood. “Don’t worry. As angry as I may be about the lies, I know who the good guys are here.” She pulled Leo to his feet. “I will do all I can to help.” She elbowed Leo. “And I’ll make sure he understands this is the right thing to do.”
Leo took Piper’s hand. “I can see my father’s influence all these years has been destructive to the person I think I need to be.” He smiled. “And, as you said Spooky, what is power without individuals to govern?” Suddenly, a seriousness replaced his smile. He looked into the jungle before him. “The Vrag will destroy our world and all worlds if we aren’t able to stop them here and now, for good.”
Too easy, Spooky thought of this quick turn in the teens’ temperament. And this easiness she did not trust. Aron nodded at her. He’d read her thoughts. He took out his gun and checked the chambers. Fully loaded and ready to go, Spooky expected.
In the moments that followed, Spooky analyzed their current situation. The Shimmer had transported them to the Ternion World. The world on which it rightfully belonged. Her best guess was they’d be unable to return to Earth using it, unless Leo or another Times Threes helped. She figured Piper’s dad must have been the one who secured Chick’s escape the first time. And he was back on Earth. One chance might be, Spooky hoped, whoever helped Piper’s dad escape would help them. If, as Kappa said, they were still alive. The Rooi could steal it again, but that still left the rest of them stranded. Was there a way to get home she didn’t know about?
She studied her remaining army. Before her stood a guy with a snake’s tongue, a red-eyed man, a child, two teenagers in love, her brother, and his dog. What a crew. She’d always been good at plans. Plan A. Plan B. And sometimes even a Plan C. But these plans had involved only her and her family. How could any conceivable plan be created with this army of misfits?
You must trust the Avenir. There is no need for you to make a plan. They devised the path you are on years ago. Just do your mom thing, Shayd chuckled.
But Spooky wasn’t amused. Instead, her mind went elsewhere. Will I ever see Brodie and Dovie again? Will I get to hold my grandson? Spooky asked but for the first time in a very long time, she heard no answer.
To continue to follow the Hell Town Web Serial, click on the link below.
The WEB SERIAL
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.
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