Bugout! California Part 36 – Julian

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“Here comes Route 79,” Yvonne said. “We want to go south, right?”

“Yeah,” Sid said. “Towards Julian. We pick up route 78 again there. It goes a little out of the way, but then curves up towards the southern part of Anza Borrego.”

“I keep waiting for somebody to come up behind us,” Yvonne said.

“I know. I think they have bigger fish to fry now. There’s a lot of havoc going on.”

“What do you think about this Ivan the Butcher character?” Yvonne asked.

“I think he might be exactly what the doctor ordered.”

“You think he’s right about the state government? President Simpson?”

Sid chuckled. “I’ve never trusted the white man’s government. Have you?”

“On and off,” Yvonne said. “I had real hope for President Simpson.”

“Bleeding heart,” Sid said, glancing at her with a grin.

“Shut up,” she said. “Where’re we meeting One Eye, again? Scissors something?”

“Scissors Crossing,” Sid replied.

“Never heard of it. Is it a town?”

“No, I think it’s basically a monument,” Sid said. “Something about an old Stage Coach route.”

“Oh,” Yvonne said. “Maybe we can stop in Julian and get some apple pie.”

Sid chuckled. “You think they’re gonna be open for business?”

“It’ll be morning before too long,” Yvonne said. “Yum.”

“You’re right, no place has apple pie like Julian,” Sid said. “We’ll see. Have to gas up there anyway.”

“Wonder if we’ll run into more checkpoints along the way?” Yvonne asked.

“Hope not, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I’m kinda worried about Julian, actually. Route 79 runs right through the middle of town. I think it turns into Main street for a few blocks. It’s an important junction if you want to control access and movement. You can go south to I-8, east towards the Salton Sea and beyond, and north towards Palm Springs and I-10.”

“You’re thinking there might be a checkpoint there,” Yvonne said, pulling out her paper map. She frowned as she looked at it.

“What’s wrong?” Sid asked.

“There’s no good way to skirt Route 79 if there is a checkpoint,” she said. “The town is just too small. It’s not like Ramona.”

“Then maybe we need to take out the checkpoint,” Sid said, hands gripping the wheel tighter.

“Crap,” she said, watching him grind his teeth. “We don’t want to get killed there.”

“That isn’t the plan,” he said.

“Might turn out to be the reality, though. You heard what they said on the radio. They’ve got tanks at a lot of the checkpoints now, and we don’t have any anti-tank weapons.”

“I’m betting they don’t have tanks this far out,” Sid said. “Maybe we should stop before we get there and chat with the others.”

“You’re serious about this, aren’t you?”

“We’re in a fight,” Sid said. “The enemy just murdered our friends and destroyed our home. There’s a time to run and hide, and there’s a time to attack. If there’s a small checkpoint in Julian, it might be time to attack. We’ve got the hardware to do it.”

“Unless they have a tank,” Yvonne said.

“If they catch us in a checkpoint we can’t get around, you know they’re going to kill all of us, right? We’ve hurt them. They want us dead. We’d be dead right now if we wouldn’t have joined the attack in Fernbrook.”

“Maybe we could have saved the RV Park if we’d been there,” Yvonne said.

“Maybe, maybe not. Depends on what they threw against us. Remember that the people there had the weapons we left behind, including that mobile artillery piece.”

Yvonne was quiet for a few moments, thinking, tears seeping down her cheek. “Dammit, you’re right.”

“Look, there’s a better than even chance that there won’t be a checkpoint up there yet anyway,” he said. “If there is, we’ll have to do something. We can’t go through it. They’ll nab us for sure.”

Yvonne continued to look at the map, her brow furrowed. “Julian isn’t the only place we have to worry about.”

“Where else do you see?” Sid asked.

“Santa Ysabel,” she said. “It’s almost as much of a hub as Julian is.”

“You can go north and south through there. Not east.”

“True,” Yvonne said. “I’m still worried about it. For one thing, it’s the only viable way into Julian.”

“Hell, you might have a point. I’m going to get the other’s attention. We need to have a pow-wow.”

“Pow-wow?” Yvonne asked, laughing. “You going to break into “What Makes the Red Man Red?”

Sid laughed. “Sorry, it’s just a figure of speech. Wasn’t even thinking.”

Yvonne snickered. “Okay, let’s stop them.”

Sid laid on his horn while flashing his lights on and off. Then he turned on his right blinker.

“They got the message,” Yvonne said, watching Sam pull over to the side of the road in front of them. John did the same behind them as they pulled over. Everybody got out.

“What’s up?” Sam asked, walking over with Connie and Clem.

“Yeah, what’s going on?” John asked, Sarah by his side.

“There’s two towns coming up that might have checkpoints,” Sid said.

‘That thought crossed my mind,” John said. “Which towns you thinking?”

“Santa Ysabel is the closest,” Yvonne said. “Julian is another.”

“I should’ve thought of that,” Sam said.

“I think we should stop outside of town and check it out,” Sid said. “Attack if there’s a good opportunity.”

“We better attack even if the opportunity isn’t perfect,” Sid said. “You know what’ll happen if we get stuck in a checkpoint.”

“Yeah,” John said. “It’s lights out.”

“I wish we could use our phones,” Connie said. “So we could figure out a good place to pull over. Maybe a good place to escape if we can’t fight.”

“I know Santa Ysabel pretty well,” John said. “There’s a bakery with a big un-fenced parking lot right as you enter town. If they have a checkpoint there, it’ll probably be where route 78 hits route 79. I don’t think there’s going to be a checkpoint there, though.”

“Why not?” Yvonne asked.

“Not enough people there,” John said.

“That’s right,” Sarah said. “That town is little more than a wide spot in the road. We had friends living there. Only twelve houses in the whole damn town.”

“There’s several businesses there,” Yvonne said.

“Yeah, there are,” John said. “Most of the people who work there live outside of Wynola.”

“Do we have to worry about Wynola?” Connie asked.

Yvonne shook her head no. “I doubt it. It’s not a hub. It’s just a little town on route 79. Unless the enemy has a lot of resources, they’ll probably concentrate on Julian instead.”

“What if the checkpoint has a tank?” Sarah asked.

Sam laughed. “If they have any this far out, which I doubt, they’re probably rushing them into the LA Area. You guys hear what happened up there tonight?”

“Yeah, Ivan the Butcher struck again,” Sid said. “Blew up a whole mess of tanks and destroyed the video surveillance system.”

“He also got the internet un-blocked,” Connie said.

“Dammit,” John said. “Our radio has a lousy antenna. We finally shut it off. Missed all of that.”

“Okay,” Sam said, “let’s stop at the bakery that John brought up and check out Santa Ysabel. If it’s clear, we’ll proceed with caution through Wynola. Have a good place for us to stop before Julian?”

“There’s a San Diego Sheriff’s Station right off Route 78,” John said. “Wonder who’s side they’re on?”

“Probably have to assume they’re with the UN,” Sid said.

“Don’t be so sure,” Sam said. “It’s not like they’ve been participating with the enemy so far. Not in the LA area, and not in Poway either, from what we’ve seen so far. There a good place to park and walk up to the station?”

“Yeah, there’s a small private road to the right,” John said. “It’s wooded. We could park in there and not be seen if we’re careful. It’s gonna be pretty close to light outside by the time we get there, though, so keep that in mind.”

“How do you know about this?” Sid asked.

“Same friends,” John said. “There’s a great Mexican restaurant right there. It’s actually on the same parking lot as the Sheriff’s Station.”

“Okay,” Sam said. “I think the chances of there being a checkpoint in Santa Ysabel are slim. I suggest we send one car through to check it out. It’ll save us time. If we walk in, it’ll push us to far into morning when we arrive in Julian.”

“Who goes through?” Sid asked.

“Connie and I,” Sam said. “We’ve got the weapons hidden better than you guys do.”

“If there’s a checkpoint, they’ll find them in a hurry,” Sid said.

“If there’s a checkpoint, you’ll hear us start shooting. Come on in and join me if you hear it.”

“You sure, honey?” Connie asked.

He nodded yes. They got back in their vehicles and took off down the road.

“You okay?” Sid asked, glancing at Yvonne as he followed Sam down the road.

“I’m scared,” she said. “It’s okay. I can maintain.”

“Good. Won’t be long.”

“I’m glad,” she said. “The longer we wait, the worse it is.”

They drove silently for a while. There were no cars on the road.

“It should be coming up,” Yvonne said. “Maybe another two minutes.”

“Yeah,” Sid said. “We’re making good time.”

“Sam’s slowing down,” Yvonne said.

“Damn, this pops up out of nowhere,” Sid said. “There’s that bakery John was talking about, off to the left. I’m pulling in.” He made the left turn, John following him as Sam and Connie continued down the street.

John nodded at Sid and Yvonne as he parked next to them.

“Don’t hold your breath,” Sid said.

“Can’t help it,” Yvonne said. “How long?”

“Couple more minutes,” Sid said. “The intersection was only a block down. I could see it when I made the left. Didn’t see anybody around.”

John rolled down his window. “That ought to be long enough. Let’s go.”

Sid nodded and drove out to the road, making a left turn and rolling through the intersection. “Good. Nothing. I see Sam up ahead.”

“Thank God,” Yvonne said. “We’re on route 79 now.”

They were out of the little town and heading for the tight bend that put them in Wynola.

“Perfect,” Sid said. “This road is high enough that we can see the whole area down there. Keep your eyes open.”

“I am,” Yvonne said, watching out her window. “Lots of nice houses nestled in this area.”

“Yeah,” Sid said. “There’s not going to be a checkpoint here. How many miles to Julian?”

“Wish we could use GPS,” she said as she unfolded the map, looking for the scale. She put her finger up to it. “About the same as the last joint on my pinky.” She walked her finger along the route.

“Well?”

“Less than five miles, sweetie,” she said.

“Good, that’s only a few minutes.”

They followed Route 79 as it made a sweeping curve to the east.

“Won’t be long now,” Sid said.

Yvonne looked at him, sweat breaking out on her forehead. “I’ll be glad when this is over.”

“It’ll be all right,” Sid said. They rode along silently for five minutes, eyes darting around to every small dirt road feeding the highway.

“There,” Sid said. “Sam just made a right. Those trees are dense. I can’t even see them now.”

“Don’t miss the turn,” Yvonne said. “Slow down.”

“I see it.” Sid slowed and took the turn. He drove off the road into the forest, John following. They parked next to Sam, who was already outside.

“There’s something here,” Sam said. “I can feel it.”

“Still want to go to the Sheriff’s office?”

“Yeah, but only two of us, okay? The rest of us stay here.”

“Who’s going?” Sid asked.

“How about you and me?” Sam asked.

“Yeah,” Sid said, glancing at Yvonne. She reluctantly shook her head yes.

“Okay, let’s go,” Sam said.

“You going in armed?” Sid asked.

“I’ve got my pistol. It’s concealed. Let’s go.”

The two men walked through the brush and trees.

“There’s the parking lot, right ahead,” Sid said. “It’s so close that they probably heard us drive in.”

“Only if they were outside.” They stepped onto the pavement. “The lights are on inside.”

“Good, I think,” Sid said. They walked to the door, looking around in every direction.

Sam tried the doorknob. It was unlocked. They went inside. There were two men behind the counter. A middle aged man and an older man. Both of them had gray hair, the older one balding.

“Can we help you folks?” the older man asked. “I’m Officer Hank Miller.”

“I’m Jason Kiley,” the other man said, eyeing them suspiciously. “What are you two doing out this time of morning?”

“Passing through on the way to Anza Borrego,” Sam said. “There a checkpoint in town?”

The two officers looked at each other, then back at Sam. “Now why would you want to know that?”

“You guys aren’t armed,” Sid said, looking at their empty holsters.

“The UN is taking over policing responsibility, now that we got martial law everywhere,” Hank said.

“You don’t look too happy about that,” Sam said.

“Don’t engage them, Hank,” Jason said. “We don’t know who they are. They might be with them.”

“They don’t look like it to me,” Hank said. “Hell, one of them is an Indian. Aren’t you, friend?”

Sid nodded yes.

“Where you guys from?”

“Dulzura,” Sam said.

Hank froze. “You know Officer Ryan? Officer Patrick?”

Sam and Sid looked at each other.

“Oh, crap, you do, don’t you?” Jason said. “They’ve both been missing for days.”

“They didn’t work out of this outfit, did they?” Sid asked.

“No,” Hank said, “but we were friends with them.”

“What happened?” Jason asked, getting up, leaning on the counter towards them.

“They’re both dead,” Sam said. “I’m sorry. They were our friends too.”

“Dammit, I was afraid of that,” Hank said, tears running down his cheeks. “How?”

“UN and their Islamist buddies,” Sid said. “They’re gonna pay.”

“What’s been going on around here?” Sam asked.

Hank looked at Jason, who shrugged. Then he turned back to Sam and Sid.

“The UN blew in here several days ago. Started throwing their weight around even before the martial law declaration. Disarmed this department. Also went door to door taking weapons from the population. A lot of people left when they got word of that. The UN is hunting them now.”

“Yvonne was right,” Sid said. “They’re going to lock this down because it’s a hub.”

“Yvonne?” Jason asked.

“My wife,” Sid said. “How many enemy fighters at the checkpoint?”

“Enemy fighters?” Jason asked.

Sid smiled. “Yes, that’s what I said.”

“They were still setting up last night,” Hank said. “There was only six men there in a couple of vans, last time I looked.”

“No armored vehicles or tanks?” Sam asked.

“Not that I saw,” Hank said.

“What are you guys planning to do?” Jason asked.

“Take out the checkpoint,” Sam said.

Hank and Jason looked at each other. Hank smiled. “Want some help?”

“You know what you’re saying, right?” Jason said. “We’ll have to gather up our families and split.”

“I know,” Hank said. “This can’t stand. They’re hunting down our citizens, Jason.”

“Got any weapons?” Sam asked.

“Yeah, I got my old M-1 Garand out in the trunk,” Hank said.

“Dammit, Hank, they might kill both of us for that.”

Hank ignored Jason. “Got a pump shotgun out there too, and a Winchester 30-30. What do you guys have?”

“AR-15s and AK-47s,” Sam said. “And other assorted toys. Grenades. Claymore mines. A couple of mortars.”

“Where’d you get that stuff?” Jason asked.

“We captured it from the enemy, mostly,” Sid said.

“Let’s hit them,” Hank said. “No time like the present. It’ll be light in about twenty minutes. You coming, Jason? You can use the Winchester.”

He sighed. “I think I’ll use the shotgun. We won’t be that far away.”

“Where are they?” Sam asked.

“They’re on Main between Washington and B Street,” Jason said. “How many people you have?”

“Four men and three women,” Sid said.

“All of them can shoot?” Hank asked.

“Yeah,” Sam said.

“Sam was in Special Forces,” Sid said. “All of us have had combat experience recently.”

“Okay, meet us back here in five minutes,” Hank said. “C’mon, Jason, let’s go get the guns.”

Sam and Sid ran back to the vehicles.

“Okay?” Connie asked.

“Yeah, there were two officers in there. They’re going to help. The checkpoint is on Main Street between Washington and B Street. We’re gonna meet them there.”

“They got guns?” John asked.

Sam laughed. “The old guy has an M-1 Garand.”

“Don’t laugh, those are great,” John said. “They fire as fast as you can pull the trigger, and you can reload in a hurry if you know what you’re doing.”

Sam ran to the back of his Jeep and opened the tail gate. He handed rifles to Connie and Clem, and grabbed a few grenades.

“That’s gonna ruin their whole day,” Clem said. “Maybe I should take a few.”

“No, you can’t run fast enough,” Sam said. “It’ll get you killed.”

“You’d better be careful yourself, honey,” Connie said. “You’re not twenty-five anymore.”

“Roger that,” Sam said.

John came over with Sarah, both of them carrying AK-47s. Sid and Yvonne hurried over, both of them with rifles on slings. Sid had his bow.

“What’s that for?” John asked.

“Just in case they have any sentries at the end of the block.”

“We shouldn’t all go up B Street,” Sam said. “I’m going up Washington. We’ll get them in crossfire.”

“I’ll go there too,” Connie said.

“Me too,” Clem said.

“Okay, that leaves Sid, Yvonne, John, and Sarah on B Street, plus those two cops.”

“Let’s go,” Clem said. “Don’t hit each other in the crossfire.”

“Seriously,” Sam said. “Stay sharp.”

They rushed to the Sheriff’s station. Hank and Jason were waiting.

“Ready?” Hank asked.

“Yeah,” Sam said. “Three of us are going up Main. The rest are going up B Street.”

“That’s a good idea,” Jason said. “I’ll go up Main too.”

“Good,” Sam said. “Let Sid go up B Street first. If there’s a sentry, he’ll take them out with his bow.”

“He good with that thing?” Jason asked.

“You don’t know the half of it,” Clem said.

Both groups took off to their spots.

“Look, there is a sentry,” Yvonne whispered. “I’m surprised.

“I’m not,” he said, getting down on one knee in the shadows. Yvonne motioned for the others to stay back. Sid drew back the bow and let the arrow fly, hitting the UN Peacekeeper square in the middle of the back. He fell dead.

“C’mon,” Sid whispered, motioning the others forward. He ran to the corner of Main Street and peeked around. Then somebody came up behind him from across B Street and pointed an AK-47 at the back of his head.

“Freeze,” the man said in a thick French accent.

To be continued…

 

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