Bugout! California Part 45 – Control Room


“You think the person in the box office will let us into the Armstrong, kid?” Sparky asked, from the wheel of the UN Van.

“Probably our best chance if we don’t want to break in,” Robbie said. “Our cover story should work, as long as the box office is still manned by a normal Torrance city employee.”

“How’d you get in before?” Ted asked.

“I’ve always gone through the side door by the green room,” Robbie said. “That’s down a walkway between the Japanese Garden and the Media Center. It’s probably locked, unless there’s an event going on.”

“If there’s an event going on, we’re screwed,” Tex said. “We’ll have to go to plan B.”

“The media center might be harder than the theater, even if there are people around,” Robbie said. “The doors are exposed to the side road that leads to the police station. The walls inside the courtyard by that side door are brick. No windows.”

“Any good places to hide in the theater if it does have activity?” Sparky asked. “That orchestra pit you talked about?”

“The orchestra pit isn’t very deep, and there’s no place to hide. People on stage or in the walkway in front of the seats can see in easily. The only chance in that part of the building are the wings on either side of the pit, and I wouldn’t suggest that. No reason to be down there, for one thing.”

“So where could we go and not arouse suspicion?” Ted asked.

Robbie thought for a moment. “Two places. Either the control room at the back of the house, or backstage. Both locations have audio consoles. The control room would be much better.”

“Why?” Sparky asked.

“It’s kind of like a projection room with larger windows, up above the rear seats. We could hide in there.”

“Okay, then that’s our play,” Sparky said.

“We’re getting close,” Robbie said. “Turn left on Madrona, then take the first right. It’s just past the public swimming pool.”

“Got it, kid,” Sparky said. “Less traffic around here.”

“Probably a high concentration of UN creeps,” Ted said. “We’re close to their South Bay headquarters.”

“Great, then they might stop us,” Tex said.

“I’m more worried about Jules’s team,” Sparky said. “They’re going in as civilians.”

“There’s Madrona,” Robbie said. Sparky got into the left turn lane and waited at the light.

“I can see quite a few cars in the parking lot back there,” Ted said. “That’s a good sign.”

“It is,” Sparky said. “Hope our plan for sneaking in the weapons works out okay.”

“It will,” Tex said. “Hope we can use the walkie talkies without being detected.”

“That’s my biggest fear,” Ted said. “Light changed.”

“Shoot,” Sparky said, driving forward, making the left, then turning right into the parking lot.

“Where?” Sparky asked.

“Go past the two buildings on the left, and park by the circular driveway.”

“I see it,” Sparky said. He found a parking place near the front. “Okay, everybody out. Let’s get the wagon.”

They got out and went around to the back, all of them helping to lift out the wagon. It was a coffin-shaped wooden box on wheels with a handle to pull it. TPRD was stenciled on the sides and top.

“Thanks for the tip on the stencil, kid,” Sparky said. He grabbed the handle and pulled it as they walked towards the plaza in front of the theater.

“What does TPRD stand for again?” Tex asked.

“Torrance Parks and Rec Department,” Robbie said.

“Good, there’s somebody in the box office,” Ted said. They walked up, the middle aged woman smiling at them from behind the window.

“Hello,” she said. “Can I help you? Looks like you’re with Parks and Rec.”

“We’re here to do some work on the audio systems,” Ted said. “Can you let us in, please?”

“Oh, it must be for the presentation tomorrow night,” she said. “Of course. Pull your equipment by the door.”

“Thanks,” Ted said. “C’mon, men.”

They headed to the first of several doors on the glass front of the theater lobby. The matronly woman was there, holding the door open. Sparky wrestled the box through the door.

“Where are you working?” she asked.

“The control room,” Robbie said.

“Very good,” she said. “Go up the stairs, over there. I’m afraid you’ll have to carry your equipment up.”

“No problem,” Sparky said. “Thanks so much.”

“You’re quite welcome,” she said. “There’s a crew setting up risers on the stage, but they’re almost done.”

“What’s going on?” Robbie asked.

“Some kind of panel discussion,” she said. “They aren’t telling us much about it. It’s by invite only. Probably a bunch of UN creeps.” She put her hand over her mouth. “Sorry.”

“Don’t worry, we aren’t fans either,” Tex said. “This is just a job to us.”

“Please don’t say anything,” the woman said. “People have been punished.”

“Mum’s the word,” Sparky said.

“How long do you think you’ll be,” the woman asked.

“Several hours, I’m afraid,” Sparky said.

“Oh, dear,” she said. “I’m only here for another hour. You’ll have to let yourselves out. Just pull the door shut until you hear a loud click, okay?”

“No problem,” Sparky said.

She smiled, then turned and went back to the box office.

“Wonder what kind of shindig they have planned?” Tex asked.

“Good question,” Ted said. “I’ll hold the door until you get this beast through.”

Sparky nodded as he opened the door. There was a long, straight stairway, dimly lit. The men got on both sides of the wagon and lifted it, Ted joining them after they cleared the door.

“This sucker is heavy,” Tex whispered.

“The lights are on in there,” Sparky whispered. They got to the top of the stairs.

“Who the hell are you guys?” a black man asked, working on a large TV camera.

“Audio,” Sparky said. “You working the gig tomorrow too?”

He eyed them for a moment. “Yeah. You with the UN?”

“Contractors,” Tex said. “You don’t look like you like the UN much.”

The man chuckled. “I’m not saying jack.”

“You know what’s going on tomorrow night?”

“Not sure, but it’s gonna be a big deal,” the man said. “I’m Jordan, by the way.”

“Tex, and this is Sparky, Ted, and Robbie.”

“Good to meet you,” he said.

“You gonna run this camera tomorrow night?”

“Yeah, but they made me go through a background check before they okayed it. I was the only person in my company who passed.”

Tex chuckled. “Really? Must be muckity-mucks, then.”

“Yeah,” he said. “I probably won’t be too busy. The main camera work is gonna be from those cameras down there.”

Robbie looked out the window, into the house below. There were two metal stands holding large TV cameras on either side of the stage, and one dead center, taking out two rows of two chairs in the middle.

“We heard the crew was still working the stage,” Ted said.

“They finished a couple of minutes ago,” Jordan said. “You just missed them.”

Tex glanced at Sparky. “Where’s the restrooms?”

“Downstairs,” Robby said. “Go left through the lobby when you get out of the stairwell.”

“I’ll go with you,” Sparky said. He and Tex left the room.

“You going to be up here alone tomorrow night?” Ted asked Jordan.

“Yeah, they’re controlling the sound from the console back stage,” he said, eyeing him. “Why?”

“Just wondering,” Ted said.

“What’s in the box?” he asked.

“Tools and equipment,” Ted said.

“Uh huh,” he said. “You need about three different screwdrivers to work on the audio in this place.”

“We have test equipment too,” Robbie said.

“Uh huh,” Jordan said. “Who are you guys? Really?”

“Audio techs,” Ted said. “Really.”

Robbie’s heart pounded in his chest.

“You look a little nervous,” Jordan said, eyeing Robbie.

“I’m okay,” Robbie said. “Being around these UN folks gives me the creeps, that’s all. Heard bad stories.”

Ted glanced at him, then back at Jordan. “What do you think of the UN?”

“How do I know you’re not with them?” Jordan asked.

“How do we know you’re not with them?” Ted asked.

Jordan laughed. “We have a stalemate here, I’m afraid.”

Sparky and Tex came back in the room. Jordan’s head snapped around, looking at them, brow furrowed.

Sparky made eye contact. “Jordan, let’s take a walk.”

“Wait,” Ted said. “Jordan, you have any military experience?”

“Why do you ask?” Jordan looked at them, sweat breaking out on his forehead.

“The way you observe, and the way you carry yourself,” Ted said. “Special Forces of some kind, right?”

He sighed. “Army Rangers. You too?”

“Navy Seals,” Ted said.

“Ted,” Sparky said.

“You ever hear of Ivan the Butcher?” Ted asked.

Jordan froze. “Crap, you guys are planning a frigging hit.”

“We gonna trust this guy?” Sparky asked.

“I trust him,” Tex said. “Got a sixth sense about that. Want to kill some UN creeps, Jordan?”

Jordan sat down on a chair next to his camera, his eyes shifting between them. “I’m listening.”

Sparky sighed. “Dammit, you’d better be right about this guy,” he said, looking at Ted, then Tex.

“What’s going on tomorrow night?” Ted asked.

“I overheard some of those UN slugs talking earlier, when I was downstairs near the stage. It’s a leadership discussion. The regional governor is gonna be here. Also some of the Feds. High ranking.”

“Simpson?” Ted asked, eyes wide.

“No, they’d already have Secret Service crawling all over the place if it was him. Somebody mentioned the Attorney General, though.”

“Blake,” Sparky said. “Son of a bitch.

“We have a mission, guys,” Robbie said. “Remember?”

“We just talked to Jules,” Sparky said. “He’s getting with Ivan. We might move this out one more night.”

“You guys weren’t planning a hit here, were you?” Jordan asked.

“Oh, there was a hit planned,” Sparky said. “City Hall. The Regional Governor is living there. We were planning a hit tonight. We still might do it. Or we might change our plans.”

“We still have a rescue mission, guys, remember.” Robbie said.

“Rescue mission?” Jordan asked.

“They’ve got a rape operation going on in the Torrance Police Station,” Robbie said. “They took my girlfriend there. Also another young woman I know.”

Jordan got an angry look on his face. “So it’s true. Been hearing rumors. You know that police station is like a fortress, right?”

“There’s tunnels,” Sparky said. “That’s why we’re in this building. When the attack starts on City Hall, we were going to use the tunnels to get into the Police station. Rescue the women and kill every UN thug we see.”

“What’s really in the box?” Jordan asked.

“M60 machine guns. M-16s. Shotguns. Grenades. Claymore mines. Plastic explosives for the holding cell in the police station.”

“You have another team,” Jordan said.

“Yeah, in another one of the buildings that’s connected into the tunnel system,” Ted said.

Jordan sat silently for a moment, thinking. “Okay, I’m in.”

“Good,” Sparky said, pulling out his walkie talkie. He sent a blip to Jules.

“Sparky?” Jules asked.

“Yeah. Where are you guys?”

“Parking lot,” he said. “Waiting for instructions. If we hold off until tomorrow night, we go and come back tomorrow afternoon.”

“I wouldn’t do that. I’d find a place to hide here,” Jordan said.

Jules was quiet for a moment. “What the hell? That the camera guy? I told you to ice him.”

“We recruited him,” Sparky said.

“He’s an Army Ranger,” Ted said. “And he hates the UN.”

“Son of bitch,” Jules said. “You sure you trust?”

“We’re sure,” Tex said. “Trust me, old buddy. We know our own.”

“Tex thinks okay,” Jules said. “You always right. If he get us killed, I come back from grave and mess you up good, Texan.”

“I’ll take that chance, partner,” Tex said.

“Okay, Jordan, welcome to the team,” Sparky said. “You think we shouldn’t leave and come back. Why?”

“They’re probably gonna shut down the parking lot,” Jordan said. “I would if I were them. Where were you gonna hide?”

“The library,” Jules said.

“Wait until dark, and come to the theater,” Jordan said. “There’s a bunch of places to hide here. Catwalks, for instance. Hell, you could probably even position yourselves and your equipment in this tunnel system.”

“I like,” Sparky said. “We go into library for now, before somebody notice us here.”

“The woman in the box office will be gone in an hour,” Ted said.

“Anybody else in theater?” Jules asked.

“No,” Jordan said. “Last of them left a few minutes before your team got into the control room.”

“Should we take care of box office lady?” Jules asked.

“No, man,” Ted said. “She hates the UN. Let it slip. She’s a Torrance city employee. She bought our story. I won’t kill her.”

“Yeah, I agree on that,” Sparky said.

“Me too,” Tex said.

“So we’re gonna let the women go through another day of rape and torture in there?” Robbie asked.

“Yes,” Jules said. “Sorry. If we can kill high level globalist thugs, it will help with greater war effort. This good for our women too. We must. It Ivan’s call, though. I’ll get with him before we get out of car. Understand?”

“Yes,” Robbie said. “Sorry, you’re right. I don’t have to like it.”

“No, you don’t,” Jules said. “Talk to you later.”

The radio went silent.

“So we wait an hour and then head for the tunnel system?” Robbie asked.

“Yeah, kid,” Sparky said.

“Where’s the tunnel opening?” Jordan asked.

“It’s in the shop,” Tex said.

“Ah, behind the stage,” Jordan said. “Never noticed a trap door back there.”

“You’ve been around this theater, I take it?” Robbie asked.

Jordan laughed. “Yeah, I’ve been in musicals here before. Been a few years. I helped with set building, did audio work, and was part of the chorus on stage. You?”

“Orchestra,” Robbie said. “Spent many an hour down in the pit.”

The radio blipped.


“Yeah, Jules, we’re listening.”

“Ivan agrees. We hold off. I go get food, come back later. We have plan changes to discuss.”

“We’re still gonna rescue the women, right?” Robbie asked.

“Yeah, kid, no worry. We get them out. Trust me.”

“Okay, talk to you soon,” Sparky said.


Trevor woke up, spooned against Kaylee, who was snoring quietly. He looked at her shiny black hair, spilled over the pillow, her naked shoulder inches from his face. His pulse quickened. Control yourself. He was losing the battle.

Kaylee stirred and stretched, pushing against him harder, and then turned her face towards him. “You’re both up.”

“Sorry,” Trevor said. “I’m trying.”

“You didn’t do anything,” she said, turning on her back. Trevor froze, moving away. She giggled. “Where are you going? Get back here. I’m cold.”

He moaned and moved against her again, beside himself as he looked into her eyes.

“You already love me,” she whispered. “How long has that been going on?”

“Months,” Trevor said, looking ashamed.

“Hey, you did the right thing,” she said. “You were honorable. I didn’t know.”

“You said you could tell I was attracted to you,” Trevor said.

She giggled again. “This is gonna sound bad. Most guys are attracted to me. I’ve seen Seth and Angel check me out too, you know.”

Trevor smiled. “Yeah, I know. You’re hot.”

“Stop it,” she said. “What time is it?”

He reached for his phone. “It’s only six. What time are we supposed to get up?”

“When the others get up, I guess,” she said. “I don’t hear them, other than my uncle snoring.”

“That’s who that is?”

“Yeah, it drove my auntie nuts,” she said, reaching up to stroke his hair. “What made you fall in love with me?”

“I’m not sure we should talk about this right now,” Trevor said. “I’m having enough trouble as it is.”

“I know,” she said, “I can tell. You poor man.”

“You’re enjoying this,” he said.

“Maybe just a little.” She snuggled up closer, and pulled his leg over her waist. “There, that’s better.”

“Kaylee,” he whispered.

“It’s okay,” she said.

“Easy for you to say,” Trevor said. “What do you think about me?”

“I thought you didn’t want to talk about it like this,” she said, flashing a coy smile at him. She moved closer to him, taking his hand and putting it on her belly. “You can touch me, you know.”

“I think I’m touching you more than enough,” he said.

“You don’t get me all the way yet,” Kaylee whispered, “but you can touch me. I want you to.”

Trevor moaned, his hand roaming over her, avoiding the parts he wanted most. She stared into his eyes, her hands roaming on him, slowly and tenderly. “This is strange.”

“Sorry,” Trevor said, moving his hand away.

She rolled her eyes and pulled his hand back to where it was. “You don’t know what I think is strange, so why get all worried about it?”

He moaned as his hand roamed again, trembling with love and lust.

“You don’t want to know?” she asked. “You’re going to take patience.”

“Sorry,” he said.

“Quit saying that,” she whispered. “I’m already in love with you. It’s never happened to me this fast. That’s all.”

“Oh, God,” he said, moving in to kiss her. She returned it with abandon.

“Can I trust you not to do it?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said.

She pulled him over on top of him, feeling his weight crush her. “Oh yeah, that’s better.” They settled into another kiss, going on for several minutes.

Somebody moved out in the salon. Trevor moved off of her quickly. “They’re getting up.”

She got on her side and looked at him, a calm happiness on her face. “Did you like that?”

“What a question,” Trevor said.

“We’d better settle down. You’ve got the flush. Bad.”

Trevor chuckled. “Yeah, I do that when… you know.”

“Yeah,” she said. “Everybody does, but my skin hides it more than yours does. Let’s talk for a while.”

“Okay,” he said. “What do you want to talk about?”

“What do you want your life to be like? You want a family and kids, or do you want to travel, or start a business, or what?”

He chuckled. “Got all day? That’s a big question.”

“Okay, just the first one. Do you want a family? Do you like kids?”

“Yes,” Trevor said. “I’m not mature enough for that yet, but I want it eventually. You?”

“Same, basically,” she said. “Check one.”

Trevor laughed. “I’m being tested, aren’t I?”

“Maybe a little bit,” she said.

“You two up?” Ji-Ho asked through the door.

“Yes, Uncle.”

“Good, I call Sam and One Eye. Better get dressed. We need to unhitch off roaders. I ask them to bring drivers.”

“Okay,” Kaylee said.

“I look okay now?” Trevor asked.

“Yes,” she said. “I want to kiss you again, but we’d better wait, or it’ll come back.”

She got out of bed, standing before him naked. He moaned when he saw her.

“What?” she asked, spinning around for him.

Trevor smiled and got out of bed, and they got dressed.

“Okay, now it’s safe,” she said, getting into his arms. They kissed one more time, and then she slid the door open. “Good morning.”

“They come,” Ji-Ho said. “They bring enough drivers. Let’s load weapons in Jeeps.”

“I’m ready,” Trevor said. “That coffee I smell?”

“Yes, but take out with you,” Ji-Ho said. “They be here half hour.”

To be continued…


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