Bugout! California Part 35 – Newsroom Horror


Morgan and Robbie sat on the couch, watching the TV. They heard the front door open.

“I hope that’s Gil,” Robbie said. “It’s almost nine.”

“Hey, guys,” Gil said as he walked up the stairs. “Anything new going on?”

“The internet’s still down,” Morgan said.

“Yeah, I knew that,” Gil said. “Can’t get LTE on my phone. Been down all day.”

“It’s down on purpose,” Robbie said. “Has to be. What’s going on outside? Why so late?”

“I had a long heart to heart with my boss,” Gil said.

“How’d it go?” Robbie asked.

“Good,” Gil said. “We buried the hatchet. I think he’s just glad to have people around who he can trust at this point. He’s scared to death. The state has basically taken over his business. They tell him what hours he can operate and who he can do business with. They also put taxes on any employee who lives on the other side of a checkpoint, and are making him keep records of employee arrival and departure times.”

“You don’t have to go through a checkpoint to get there, do you?” Morgan asked.

“No,” Gil said. “The factory is right on the border, though.”

“How about your real address?” Robbie said.

“It’s inside the checkpoint too,” Gil said. “They probably think I’m still there.”

“Good,” Robbie said.

“They might start knocking on doors, you know,” Morgan said. “To see who got caught outside of their assigned quarters when the checkpoints went up.”

“I know, that’s crossed my mind,” Robbie said.

“You guys see what they put at the checkpoints now?” Gil asked.

“I thought you didn’t have to go through any,” Robbie said.

“I can see the one close to work,” Gil said. “They have a tank sitting there.”

“Figures,” Robbie said. “They’re getting us into a stranglehold.”

“Wonder how martial law is going over in the hinterlands?” Gil asked.

“The news has been quiet about that,” Robbie said, “other than to say that it’s been declared by Governor Sable.”

“They’re still lying about him?” Gil asked. “After Ivan showed his body on TV?”

“All the stations are saying that Ivan’s video was a hoax. They’re lying about the attacks last night too. Pretending that the reports were way over-blown.”

“Some of the sheep around here will believe it,” Gil said. “What happened to the card club, Morgan? Figured you’d be gone when I got home.”

“Sparky told me to stay home until he called,” she said. “No call. I hope he’s okay. I’m worried.”

“I’m glad you didn’t have to go in,” Robbie said.

There was a loud explosion outside in the distance.

“Holy crap!” Gil said, running out to the balcony. “Look at that fireball rising.”

Robbie and Morgan rushed out and looked.

“Machine gun fire,” Robbie said. “Listen.”

“Yeah, I hear it,” Morgan said. “That smoke looks like it’s coming from my checkpoint.”

“Sure does,” Robbie said. “I haven’t heard a tank cannon go off.”

“Maybe somebody blew it up,” Gil said.

“Hopefully,” Robbie said.

They went back inside. “It’ll be interesting to see if there’s anything on the news about it,” Morgan said. She picked up her phone. “Hey, I got a text message. Missed it.”

“From work?” Robbie asked.

“Sparky’s personal number,” she said, opening the message. She read silently for a moment, brow furrowed.

“Something wrong?” Gil asked.

“He said the card club came under attack and he escaped with Tex and Jules,” Morgan said.

“Oh, geez,” Robbie said. “I wonder if they had anything to do with those explosions?”

“If they did, they got some better hardware,” Gil said. “Hear from Justin?”

“Nope,” Robbie said. “As far as I know he’s still at Katie’s place.”

“How about Steve?” Gil asked. “Coleen still here?”

Morgan giggled. “They’re here. Acting like a couple of bunnies. I don’t think they know how loud they are.”

“That boy is in love,” Gil said. “Good for him. I’m gonna go take a shower. Talk to you two later.”

He went down the stairs.

“It’ll get bad around here in a hurry,” Morgan said.

“Hear that?” Robbie asked.


“My phone,” he said. “The email tone just sounded. Maybe LTE is back up.”

“Where is it?” Morgan asked as Robbie got up.

“I put it on the charger a couple hours ago,” he said, rushing into the bedroom. He came back out with the phone, eyes on the screen. “Whoa.”

“What happened?” Morgan asked. “Is it really back up?”

“LTE is,” Robbie said as he sat down. “Email message from Ivan the Butcher.”

“Really?” Morgan asked. “To you personally?”

“No, this is a broadcast message,” Robbie said as he read. “This is great. He just took responsibility for blowing up the tank at the Artesia checkpoint.”

“That was fast,” Morgan said. “I’ll bet Sparky was in on it.”

“He also says he got the Internet back on line,” Robbie said. He went to his phone settings and turned Wi-Fi back on. “Yes! The broadband is up again too. I’m gonna get my laptop.”

Morgan picked up her phone. “I’m back up too.”

“Hey, you guys get the email?” Steve shouted from downstairs.

“Yeah, man,” Robbie shouted back down as he fetched his laptop from the kitchen table.

“There’s pictures of that attack, look,” Morgan said, holding her phone up to Robbie as he sat down next to her with the laptop.

“Wow, look at that tank!” Robbie said as his laptop booted up. “It’s blown all over the intersection.”

Steve and Coleen came up the stairs. “This is great, dude.”

“I’ll say,” Robbie said.

“Hi, Coleen,” Morgan said, slight smirk on her face.

“Oh, crap, you could hear us,” she said, face turning red.

“Don’t worry about it,” Morgan said. “You can probably hear us too. It’s nice to be in love.”

Steve caught that and looked at Coleen, melting as she smiled back at him.

“Wow,” Morgan whispered.

“Don’t rush things,” Coleen said softly. Steve pulled her closer and kissed her forehead.

“We’ll go as fast as you want to,” Steve whispered.

“Maybe you two should go back downstairs,” Robbie said.

“Shut up,” Steve said.

Robbie and Morgan chuckled as Coleen turned red again.

“The enemy took some big hits in northern San Diego County,” Robbie said, scrolling through messages. “They tried to hit back at an Indian reservation, but it was booby trapped.”

“Which reservation?” Steve asked.

“Barona,” Robbie said. “Crap, they went into an RV Park in Dulzura. Beheaded a bunch of old people.”

“How brave of them,” Steve said.

“This is interesting,” Robbie said. “That pass that was blown up a week ago is nearby, and rumor has it that folks from this park did that job. Also said they repelled several attacks.”

“They all dead?” Morgan asked.

“Nobody knows,” Robbie said. “The enemy around Poway got destroyed. That’s the best news on here.”

“Who did it?”

“Sounds like Indians again,” Robbie said. “With help from the local population. Crap, they were gonna attack Santee too.”

“The enemy?” Morgan asked.

“Yeah,” Robbie said. “The population figured it out and counter attacked. It was a rout. There’s a bunch of pictures in here. Dead Islamists.”

“Wonder how martial law is gonna play into this?” Morgan asked.

“Martial law isn’t enforceable statewide,” Robbie said. “They’re fooling themselves if they think it is.”

“Who’s running the state?” Steve asked. “We know that Sable is taking a dirt nap. I don’t buy the hoax stories. Not even a little bit.”

“The major news outlets are still sticking to the story that he’s alive, and Ivan’s video was a hoax,” Robbie said.

“It’s not,” Morgan said. “The state has bitten off more than they can chew.”

Gil came up the stairs in gym shorts and a t-shirt, his hair wet from the shower. “Something happened. I’ve got LTE again.”

“Somebody blew up the tank at the checkpoint on Artesia,” Robbie said. “Ivan took credit.”

“That’s what that was,” Gil said. “Rumbled the shower.”

“Yeah, it was pretty loud,” Steve said. “There’s still smoke rising. See? Out the window to the balcony?”

“Yeah,” Gil said, stepping over to look. “Awesome.”

There was an explosion in the distance, and then another, coming from a different direction.

“You hearing this?” Gil asked.

“Ivan’s taking out more tanks, I’ll bet,” Robbie said.

“Let’s hope so,” Steve said.

“This is scary,” Coleen said, moving closer to Steve.

“You’re right about that,” Morgan said. “I wish we could leave. I’m expecting a knock on the door any time now.”

“They don’t know where we are,” Robbie said.

“I wouldn’t feel too safe,” Gil said. “They know your apartment got blown up. Wouldn’t be too hard for them to figure out where your parent’s house is.”

Morgan flashed a frightful look at Robbie. “He’s right.”

“I know,” Robbie said. “I suspect the UN has bigger fish to fry than us, though. Thanks to Ivan.”

“You’re probably right about that,” Steve said.

“I hope so,” Coleen said. “If the checkpoints are down again, maybe we should take off.”

“Take off to where?” Steve asked.

“My parent’s cabin,” she said. “It’s in Wrightwood.”

“That’s a long way,” Steve said.

“I know, but if the checkpoints are down, we can make it,” Coleen said.

“Risky, but it would be nice to be away from here,” Gil said.

“Are you suggesting we all go there?” Robbie asked.

“Something to think about,” Steve said. “If we’re gonna do it, we’ll have to time it well. If the checkpoints go down, it won’t be for long.”

“Maybe we ought to stay here and fight,” Robbie said.

“Fight?” Morgan asked. “We’ll get ourselves killed.”

“Hey, look. The TV screen just went black,” Gil said.

“Maybe Ivan’s coming on again,” Steve said.

“Hope so,” Robbie said. The screen came back up, showing the desk where Ivan spoke from in the last appearance. “Yes, it’s him.” He grabbed the remote and turned up the sound.

“There he is,” Morgan said, watching the man in a gangster suit with fedora saunter behind his desk and sit down, shadows hiding his face.

“This guy has a sense of style,” Gil said.

“That he does,” Morgan said, watching mesmerized.

“It’s me again. Ivan the Butcher. As you know, the corrupt enemies of the people attempted to take down the internet, in the hopes that it would stop the resistance,” He chuckled. “We have put it back up, and they can’t take it down again.”

“I really like this guy,” Gil said.

“He’s a criminal,” Coleen said.

“Yeah, but he’s our criminal,” Steve said.

“Quiet, he’s going to make more comments,” Robbie said.

“Many of the checkpoints in LA County have been destroyed again,” Ivan continued. “The UN and the traitors holding their leash think putting a few tanks at checkpoints will protect them from the people. They are sorely mistaken. See the evidence of our dominance.”

The screen showed video of burning checkpoints, focusing on the remains of ruined tanks and dead UN Peacekeepers. It went on for several minutes.

“Wow, I counted about twenty checkpoints,” Gil said. “Wonder how they’re blowing up the tanks?”

“The surveillance camera system installed by the corrupt, overreaching government has been destroyed,” Ivan said as the video continued to roll. “It will be difficult to put back together. You may go about your business without fear of reprisals due to video of your movements. The UN and their Islamist allies are now on camera themselves. Please note the locations of these bases on the banner at the bottom of the screen. Join us as we bring them to their destruction.”

The screen changed to a series of photos with the locations.

“Wow,” Robbie said. “They’re all over the place. How did this happen without anybody knowing?”

“Our press is against us,” Gil said.

“I just got an email,” Robbie said.

“Me too,” Gil said.

Robbie laughed. “Another email from Ivan, which has a listing of every base in California. This is great.”

“I got it too,” Morgan said, looking at her phone.

“Me too,” Steve said. “This guy is amazing.”

“Memorize this man’s face. His name is Saladin. He’s the leader of the Islamist fighters in the western United States. We will hunt him down like a dog. He’s currently running the state with this man, whose name is Daan Mertins.”

A picture showing each man, mugshot style, filled the screen.

“Daan Mertins is a kingpin in the Global Governance movement. His father was one of the founding fathers of the EU. This carpet-bagger is from Brussels. We are on his tail. I don’t expect to capture him. He has too much money. I expect him to leave the country. We have operatives in Europe waiting for him. Daan Mertins, you can run, but you can’t hide. We will track you down and kill you in your home country.”

“So it is true,” Robbie said. “Been hearing about these folks on the message boards for a while now.”

“Do not expect the California State Government or President Simpson to protect you. They will not ride to the rescue. They are behind this. They let the devil into our midst.”

A grainy photo showed on the screen. It was on airport tarmac with Airforce One in the background. The picture zoomed in on several men at the bottom of the steps out of the plane.

“Oh my God,” Robbie said. “Look at that. Saladin, Daan Mertins, Governor Sable, and President Simpson.”

“Who’s that other guy?” Steve asked.

“Looks like the Attorney General,” Robbie said.

“The Federal Government is behind this?” Morgan asked, her eyes filled with terror. “Why? What does this buy them?”

“Just as a reminder, please remember that Governor Sable realized his error and died for it,” Ivan said as the picture of Sable’s body showed on the screen. “The media tells you he is alive. He is not alive. He was killed by the UN. They say this is a hoax. I bring you a live picture of your governor now, direct from the morgue in Sacramento.”

A video came on the screen of several men in the morgue, in front of a bank of body cooler drawers. A man walked to one that had a big padlock on it. He aimed his gun at the lock and fired, the lock blasting apart. Then he pulled the drawer out and laid back the white cloth. The camera focused on Governor Sable’s lifeless face, eyes staring. Then the camera went to the feet of the corpse. The toe tag was held up to the camera. John Doe was written on the tag.

“Wow, look at that,” Robbie said.

“This is horrible,” Morgan said. “How’d we let our government get so out of control?”

“Apathy and an evil media,” Gil said. “Bastards.”

“Kind of late in life for a name change, eh?” Ivan said with a chuckle. “Go out and attack. The enemy is on the run. Do not comply. Do not submit. Kill UN Peacekeepers and Islamists where they stand. Shun the Federal Government. They are no longer legitimate. Don’t pay taxes. Don’t follow Federal Law. Burn Federal Buildings around the state. This is your land. Destroy the interlopers.”

The screen zoomed into a circle which got smaller and smaller, leaving a black screen. The network feed popped back up, people in the newsroom looking terrified.

“Wow,” Gil said.

“I can’t believe the President and the Governor were in on this,” Morgan said.

People could be heard cheering outside, up and down the street.

“Ivan knows how to get people fired up, I guess,” Gil said. He went out onto the balcony. “Yes!” he shouted. “Go Ivan!”

“That’s not a good idea,” Morgan said, glancing at Robbie.

“It’s not going to make any difference,” Robbie said. “This is going to become a shooting war very quickly. I see people starting to organize right now, on the internet.”

“Wonder if Ivan can really keep the internet up?” Steve asked.

“We’ll see,” Robbie said. Gil came in from the balcony.

“Proud of yourself?” Steve laughed, then glanced at Coleen, who didn’t look amused. “Shoot, you’re really scared.”

“I’ve got the keys to my folk’s cabin, and the cameras and checkpoints are down,” she said. “Can we leave? Please?”

“That trip might kill you guys,” Gil said.

“What do you think, Robbie?” Steve asked.

“There’s probably not a better time than now,” Robbie said. “Gil’s right, though. The trip might kill you.”

“Staying here might kill us too,” Coleen said.

“I can’t argue with that,” Robbie said. “It’s a bad situation all the way around.”

“Look, there’s a ruckus going on in the newsroom,” Gil said, nodding at the TV.

A man in a dark suit was approaching the anchor’s desk, yelling at the Anchor man as the weather person looked on in horror.

“Show the damn video,” the man in the dark suit said. Two gaffers rushed over and grabbed the man, pulling him away as video of Governor Sable at a meeting came up.

“That’s not recent video,” Robbie said. “Who do these guys think they’re fooling? I’ve seen that clip before.”

Popping sounds came from the news set.

“Oh, crap, somebody’s shooting!” Coleen said in horror.

They all watched as the anchor man and the weather person dropped behind the desk, bullets hitting the front of it. Then a gaffer was pushed out into camera range, a large wound on the back of his head gushing blood.

“Look out!” shouted somebody from off camera. The weather person ran off the set, somebody firing at her, hitting her in the back. She fell just out of the camera’s view.

“No!” the anchor man screamed as the man in the dark suit walked up with his pistol. He pointed it over the desk and shot the anchor man in the top of the head, blood spattering on the wall behind the desk. The screen went black.

“Oh my God,” Coleen cried, turning her head into Steve’s chest.

“Control of the state is unraveling fast,” Robbie said. “Things are gonna get crazy before they settle down.”

“You think they knew this was live?” Gil asked. “Can they really be that stupid?”

“Yeah they can,” Steve said.

“Let’s leave,” Coleen said. “Please?”

“My God,” Robbie said, eyes getting big.

“What happened now?” Gil asked.

“Texas. They just declared themselves a sovereign republic.”

“Texas seceded?” Morgan asked.

“That’s what this said,” he replied. “It happened earlier today. There was so much going on that it took me a while to get to the story.”

“They know the President is with Saladin and the Globalists,” Gil said. “That picture.”

“Yeah, that picture,” Robbie said.

To be continued…


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