Bugout! California Part 40 – Holding Cell


The men dragged Morgan back into the holding cell, dirty and crying, her clothes ripped in several places. She curled into a fetal position and sobbed. There were a number of other young women in the cell with her, looking at her through red terrified eyes. Some were only in their mid-teens.

“Roll call,” barked a UN Peacekeeper with a French accent. “Stand in line.”

The women and girls rose slowly, some whimpering, others shooting icy stares at the UN Peacekeeper and the armed men next to him.

“Count off. Number and name. Now.”

“One. Amber.”

“Two. Denise.”

“Three. Katie.”

“Four. Casey.”

“Five. Brittney.”

“Six. Morgan.”

“Seven. Stephanie.”

“Eight. Lacey.”

“Thank you,” the UN Peacekeeper said. “Your charges are currently under review. You will follow our instructions to the letter. You cooperate, and you will be released unharmed after our investigation is over. If you do not cooperate, you will be punished severely, and your family will be brought in for questioning. Is that clear?”

Some of the women and girls nodded yes. Others continued their icy stare.

“I didn’t hear you,” the Peacekeeper barked.

There were feeble utterances of yes from them.

“If you want yourselves and your families to fit into the new world order, your attitudes must improve. We will resume questioning in one hour. Remember your numbers. We will interrogate numbers one and two next.”

The UN Peacekeeper and the two guards left the room.

“Jerks,” Morgan said. She looked at Katie. “You look just like my boyfriend’s buddy Steve. Are you his sister?”

Katie’s eyes lit up. “You’re that Morgan?”

Morgan shook her head yes, looking at her, with her long blonde hair tangled and her face dirty, still a striking beauty. “You’re a mess. How long have you been here?”

“They picked me up early yesterday,” she said. “You?”

“About the same. They picked me up during a routine house check. They were looking for Robbie’s parents.”

“Did they say why they arrested you?” Katie asked.

“They said it was because of my job,” Morgan said, face full of disgust. “I thought it was because of my boss.”

“Why, what’s with your boss?” Katie asked.

Morgan got closer and whispered. “My boss helped destroy the checkpoints that first night, after killing several UN thugs at his card club.”

“Oh, crap,” Katie said.

“That’s not why they grabbed me,” Morgan said. “Look around. See any unattractive women here?”

“No,” Katie said, tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Why’d they pick you up?” Morgan asked.

“Same kind of thing,” Katie said. “House check. I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, and I don’t have a job. The arrested me and brought me here. I figured out pretty quickly why they did it.”

“They raped you too?” Morgan asked, tears running down her cheeks.

“Five guys,” she said. “You?”

“Three,” Morgan said, starting to sob.

“Amber and Brittney are only fifteen,” Katie whispered.

“My God,” Morgan said. “These folks may be sorry they messed with me.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I left my phone pin and my boss’s name with my phone back at Robbie’s place. If he figured out what to do, Ivan the Butcher is going to know about this.”

Katie’s eyes got wide. “Your boss is Ivan the Butcher?”

“Not so loud,” Morgan whispered. “No, he’s my boss’s boss.”

“Wow,” Katie said. “You really think he’ll do something?”

“My boss treated me like his kid sister,” Morgan said. “If he can do something about it, he will.”

“They may not know where we are,” Katie whispered.

“Oh, they’ll find that out,” Morgan said. “Trust me. They probably already know about this place.”

“You know where we are?” Katie asked.

“Yeah, we’re in the Torrance Police Station,” Morgan said.

“How do you know? Didn’t they blindfold you on the way here?”

“Yeah,” Morgan said.

“Then how do you know?”

“I’ve been here before,” Morgan said. “Picking up a dirt-bag ex-boyfriend. I recognize the place.”

The door opened up. The UN Peacekeeper came back in. “Morgan Smith.”

“Oh, God,” Katie said.

“Dammit,” Morgan whispered. “They might know my connections.”

“Morgan Smith! Stand up. You are wanted for interrogation. Unscheduled.”

Morgan got to her feet, trembling, and moved to the cell door. The two guards were back. One opened the cell door while the other held a shotgun.

Morgan walked out. The guard grabbed her upper arm roughly, and led her out the door. The head Peacekeeper followed them. They went down a long corridor and turned left, into a short hallway with doors on either side.

A man in a different uniform stood at a door on the left, and ushered them in. Morgan was pushed into a chair on one side of a table. The guard chained her ankle to the chair, and then left the room with the other guard and the Peacekeeper.

“Good morning, Morgan,” the man said in a Swedish accent. “I am Inspector Solberg.” He sat at the other side of the table.

Morgan stared back at him silently.

“I see you are unhappy to be here. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well rape does that to a person,” she spat, her face flushing.

“That is a nasty accusation, Morgan,” Solberg said calmly. “I will look into it, of course.”

Morgan laughed. “Cut the crap. It’s the only reason any of the women in that holding cell are here.”

“Lucky for you I’ll ignore that falsehood,” Solberg said.

“Why’d you bring me in here? You going to rape me too? Kinda hard with my ankle locked down like this.”

Solberg sighed. “I see this is going to be an unpleasant conversation. So be it. I called you in here to discuss your boyfriend, one Robbie Johnson.”

“What about him?” Morgan asked.

“After you were taken, he killed Stephan, the Peacekeeper who arrived at your condo with Hans. Then on the way out, he killed two other UN Peacekeepers who had come to look for Stephan. In addition, the UN Van that the last two Peacekeepers came in was stolen.”

“Sucks to be them, I guess,” Morgan said, excited feeling coursing through her.

“Crude remark for such a lovely young woman,” Solberg said.

“So sue me.”

“Who was Robbie Johnson working with?” Solberg asked.

Morgan laughed. “He’s a waiter and a part-time writer.”

Solberg chuckled. “Come now, my dear, you would have me to believe that an average citizen was able to kill three UN Peacekeepers all by himself?”

“Sounds like that’s the case,” Morgan said.

Solberg reached across the table and slapped Morgan so hard she almost fell out of her chair. She righted herself and shot him an icy grin.

“Who trained this man to fight? Does he have military experience? Tell me now, or I’ll hit you again.”

“Well, he probably didn’t spend his formative years playing with dolls like the pansies you sent to our house,” Morgan spat.

Solberg hit her again, harder than the first time. She righted herself more slowly this time, and spit blood on the table in front of her. “You’re pretty tough, with a girl half your size. You play with dolls growing up too?”

Solberg was really mad now, breathing harder. “You’ll regret that remark, young lady.”

“Young lady?” Morgan laughed. “I’m not a lady. Women like me are your worst nightmare.”

“You won’t be anybody’s nightmare,” Solberg said. “You won’t get out of this facility alive.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket and called for the guards. They arrived in seconds with the UN Peacekeeper.

“Take this one back to the holding cell, and move her routine interrogation slot to the front.”

“Yes sir,” the lead UN Peacekeeper said. He nodded to the guards. One held a shotgun on her while the other one unlocked her chain. They prodded her out the door and into the big hallway, not slowing down until they got to the holding cell. She was shoved inside so hard that she landed face down on the cement floor. The three men left, slamming the door behind them.

“Morgan,” Katie said, rushing to her as the others watched in horror. Morgan looked up at her and smiled. “My God, your face!”

“I got the inspector a little pissed off,” Morgan said softly.

“Why did they call you in there?” Katie asked.

“Robbie.” She grinned.

“What happened?” Katie asked, eyes wide. “They didn’t arrest him, did they?”

Morgan sat up, and shook her head no.

“Then what did they want to know?”

“He killed the UN thug that came with the guy who arrested me,” Morgan said, the pride showing on her face. “They sent to more thugs to check on him, and he killed them too. Then somebody stole their UN Van.”

“Robbie did that? Our Robbie?”

Morgan shook her head yes. “I know; I didn’t expect it either.” Her expression changed. “I’ll bet Stephan tried to kill him. Unfortunately for him, Robbie had his gun hidden in his pants.”

“But then he killed two more,” Katie said.

“You’re right, it doesn’t sound like him. He’s usually pretty gentle.”

The door opened with a clank, and the lead Peacekeeper appeared again.

“Number one and number six, it is time for your routine interrogation.”

“They mean rape,” Morgan said, getting up.

“What are you going to do?” Katie asked, tears streaming down her cheeks.



“We’re almost to Scissors Crossing,” Yvonne said. “See it up ahead?”

“Yeah,” Sid said. “Almost dusk.”

“Maybe that’s just as well.”

“You still afraid they’re following us?” Sid asked.

“Aren’t you?” Yvonne asked.

“Not really,” Sid said. “None of us has our phones on. They don’t have a good way to track us without those.”

“They might know our vehicles by now,” Yvonne said. “If these cretins are in league with the Feds, they might have access to satellite imagery, you know.”

“Maybe,” Sid said, “but none of these vehicles are unique. There’s thousands of Jeeps and pickup trucks around, especially back here in the great Inland Empire.”

Yvonne chuckled. “Inland Empire. Who the hell came up with that stupid name?”

“Probably wasn’t an Indian,” Sid said.

“That our friends?” Yvonne asked.

“Looks like One Eye to me,” Sid said, driving towards the lone intersection. He parked just past the group of vehicles, the rest of the party following suit. Everybody got out.

“One Eye!” Sid said, rushing over to him with Yvonne.

“You made it, my friend,” he said. “You guys ready to fight?”

“Not tonight, I hope,” Sam said as he walked up.

One Eye chuckled. “No, not tonight. Soon, though. Who’s this?”

Jason and Hank were walking over with John, Sarah, and Clem, still wearing their police uniforms.

“This is Jason and Hank,” Sid said. “We killed a bunch of UN thugs together, in Julian.”

“Any friend of Sid’s is a friend of mine,” One Eye said. “You want to join the fight?”

“We do,” Hank said. “Glad to know you. Barona tribe, right?”

“Yes,” he said. “We’ve met?”

“Didn’t you work the Poker Room at the casino for a while?” Hank asked.

One Eye grinned. “Sure did. You play?”

“I do,” Hank said. “Jason thinks he does.”

“Hey,” Jason said.

One Eye laughed, looking at Sid. “I like this guy.”

“Where we going?” Sid asked.

“In the middle of nowhere. Keep going on Route 78, then take a little road called Yaqui Pass Road for a few miles. Then north on a dirt road into the hills. We’ll lead the way.”

“We’re going way back in there?” Sid asked.

“Yep,” One Eye said. “We probably should get going. We want to be there before it gets dark.”

“We’re ready,” Sam said.

“Yeah,” Sid said. “Let’s go.”

They got back in their vehicles and drove past the Scissors intersection, down the deserted route 78.

Sam and Connie were following Sid and Yvonne, who were following One Eye and his people.

“Nobody around here,” Connie said.

“I’ve actually been back here before,” Sam said.

“You know your way around?”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Sam said.

“What were you doing back here? Or should I not ask?”

Sam chuckled. “Remember that friend of mine I told you about? George Franklin?”

“The one who works with Malcolm Davis?” Connie asked.

“That’s the one,” Sam said. “He disappeared for a while. Some of the guys from my old unit organized a trip to find him. Remember that fracas that happened with Sadie Evans and Jason Beckler?”

“Who doesn’t,” Connie said.

“Well, the place where the famous ambush happened is back here.”

“Seriously? You went?”

“Yeah,” Sam said. “He saved my life more than once. Felt like it was an obligation.”

“You find him?”

“No,” Sam said. “He turned up eventually, after the battle with that white slaver.”

“Don’t remember that one,” Connie said. “What happened to him?”

“He went into the detective business with Davis,” Sam said.

“Davis is kinda scary, as I remember.”

“That’s an understatement,” Sam said. “We were all surprised when George took up with the guy.”

“Look, they’re turning onto that second road,” Connie said.

“See them,” he said. “Not much of a road.” He followed Sid and Yvonne onto it.

“Think the site is still back here?”

“I don’t know,” Sam said. “If it weren’t so remote, it would’ve been picked over by now. You need four-wheel drive to get back there.”

“Maybe we could go check it out,” Connie said.

“I don’t know if I could find it again,” Sam said. “Not sure I could even find the turnoff.”

“They’re turning onto the dirt already, up ahead.”

“Here’s where the fun begins,” Sam said, steering the Jeep onto the dirt road to the left.

“Think we’re gonna need four-wheel drive?” Connie asked.

“Maybe,” Sam said. “Looks like it’s been really dry for a long time, so maybe not.”

They bounced along the dusty road, both of them scanning the area.

“What a waste land,” Connie said.

“I like it back here,” Sam said. “Hard to believe it’s so close to towns.”

“Close to towns?” Connie asked. “What towns?”

“Salton Sea is to the west. Not much left there anymore, but in its heyday there were all kinds of people there.”

“That place is a ghost town now,” Connie said. “Try again.”

Sam chuckled. “What, is this a test?”

“Well you brought it up.”

“Okay,” he said. “Northwest you run into Coachella Valley. Lots of towns there. Indio, Palm Springs, Cathedral City. It’s not all that far.”

“Palm Springs,” Connie said. “That sounds nice. Why don’t we go there instead of back here?”

“You really want to go there?” Sam asked. “There’s probably UN thugs and checkpoints.”

“All right,” she said. “Forget I said it.”

Sam chuckled. They rode along silently for a while, watching the shadows grow longer.

“How did your friend end up out here?” Connie asked.

“Thought you remembered it,” Sam said.

“Not the details. I never follow that serial killer stuff. Scares me too much.”

“But you want me to tell you all about it on this deserted road, when it’s about to get dark?”

She giggled. “Stop teasing me. Answer the question.”

Sam sighed. “I’ll have to introduce you sometime. He’s got an office in Marina Del Rey.”

“I don’t think I want to go that far,” she said.

“Hell, I wish he were here,” Sam said. “We could use him.”

“You got his number?”

“It’s probably on my phone, and I can’t even put the battery into that.”

She chuckled. “Yeah, you’re right.”

“He’s probably left the state by now anyway,” Sam said. “There’s no way he’d put up with UN thugs and Islamists pushing him around.”

“Stop with the hero worship. You’re pretty tough yourself, you know.”

“Yeah, I know,” Sam said. “Okay, here’s what happened. George was married to Sadie Evans.”

“What? Why would he marry a serial killer?”

“He didn’t know who she was,” Sam said. “Knew her as Lisa. Hell, I knew her. Always thought she was a real iceberg, but she was pretty. Really pretty.”

“You knew her?” Connie said, eyes wide. “How come you never told me about that?”

“I had to get away from that circle of friends. I heard that George did too. The last time any of the gang saw him was right before his wedding.”

“Interesting,” Connie said. “Why did Sadie Evans want to marry him?”

“Jason Beckler was hunting her after she double-crossed him. She needed a cover. George was the perfect mark. After that battle with Saladin, he was a wreck. PTSD. Decided to change his life and hide his past. He quit the agency, got himself an aerospace job, married Sadie, and tried to settle down.”

“What agency?”

“CIA,” Sam said.

“Oh,” she said. “Crap. How come you never went to work for them?”

“I had problems with that last mission too,” Sam said.

“What kind of problems?”

“Honey, I really don’t want to talk about that right now. I’ll tell you someday. I promise.”

She looked at him silently for a moment. “Okay. Go on.”

“Sadie decided to kill George, so she enlisted the help of a low-life who worked for him at the aerospace job.”

“Seen that on more than one cop show,” Connie said.

“Seriously,” Sam said. “To make a long story short, Sadie’s henchman tried to kill George by blowing up his condo. George walked away, but the blast damn near killed Malcolm Davis.”

“What was Malcolm Davis doing at his house?”

Sam laughed. “He was a psychotherapist. George was his patient. They were working the PTSD problem. Davis figured out who the wife was. They were at the condo closing things out so he could disappear when the bomb went off.”

“Geez,” Connie said. “How much of this made the news?”

“Not much,” Sam said. “This is a long road.”

“Yeah, and it’s getting dark. I don’t want to talk about this much more. Just tell me how they ended up in this area.”

“Okay,” Sam said. “Sadie and her henchman came to the house out here to hide out. The henchman stranded her here.”


“He figured out that she was going to kill him the first chance she got.”

“Wouldn’t she have done that out here in the sticks?”

“She needed him in order to get out herself,” Sam said. “It’s tricky getting in and out of here. Lots of roads to make a wrong turn on. Easy to get lost. Apparently her sense of direction wasn’t good, plus he took the car when he left.”

“Oh,” Connie said. “I’ll bet this guy got picked up by Jason Beckler.”

“You got it,” Sam said. “Forced the henchman to bring him out here. Meanwhile George and Malcolm figured out where the house was. They were waiting. The rest is history.”

“They’re making a turn up there,” Connie said. “Around that bend.”

“Yeah,” Sam said. “Notice how we have two roads branching off here? One of them might go into the middle of nowhere another fifty miles. The other might lead right back to the highway. It’s nuts back here.”

“Lots of ridges around too,” Connie said. “It’s pretty now that the sun is lower. Look how it lights up the canyons coming off of that mountain over there.”

“Yes, it’s beautiful,” he said.

They road silently for another half an hour.

“Better turn on the lights now,” Connie said. “Wonder how much further it is?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “Another bend coming up.”

“Is that an old truck? Down there in that gully off the road?”

“Yep,” Sam said. “That looks really familiar.”

“It does?”

“Maybe I’ve seen a picture of it or something.”

“Maybe you’ve been here before,” Connie said, glancing around nervously.

They rounded the bend further, and Sam gasped.

“What’s wrong?” Connie asked.

“That’s the house. My God.”

They parked along the road side, the dark house on the left, a group of about forty tents to the right, in a big open pasture.

Sam got out with Connie, and they rushed over to where Sid, Yvonne, and One Eye were. John, Sarah, Clem, Jason, and Hank joined them.

“You know what that place is?” Sam asked.

“What, that old house?” One Eye asked. “Somebody grandfathered in before they made this a State Park, I imagine. It’s abandoned. Has been for years, from what I’ve heard.”

“Why are you camping here?” Sam asked.

“Water. There’s a well behind the house,” One Eye said. “The diesel pump is toast, but we rigged up a hand pump. We stay out of the house, though. The elders say it’s an evil place.”

“They said a mouthful there,” Sam said.

“You know something about this place?” Sid asked.

Oh, yeah, I know a lot about this place,” Sam said. “I’ll tell you all about it after we get settled.”

“We should wait on that,” One Eye said. “We’re planning an attack. We need to discuss it tonight.”

“An attack?” Sid asked. “Good. Where?”

“Big supply depot, a few miles this side of La Quinta,” One Eye said.

“Excellent,” Hank said.

“Yeah,” John added.

“We’re cooking up a feast,” One Eye said. “We’ll eat and then talk.”

To be continued…


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