Bugout! California Part 56 – Dark Vengeance


“She’s gone,” Sam said, his body convulsing with sobs as he came out into the waiting room. The early morning sun was shining through the windows.

“Oh no,” Yvonne said, rushing to him, hugging him tight. Sid looked on, crying hard. John looked on helplessly, unable to cry, holding Sarah who was sobbing.

“Why did it have to be her?” Sid wailed.

Nurse Grace came in, eyes tearing up. “I have some papers for you to sign. Where would you like her taken?”

Sam tried to calm himself. “She wanted to be cremated,” he said. “Is there a place nearby?”

“Yes,” she said. “I know the owner. Small town, you know. You want them to do it and hold her for a while? I know what you’re going through right now.”

“Thanks,” Sam said, signing the papers. “Let’s take her there, then. I’ll have to come back at a later date and do the memorial. Give me their number and I’ll call them with a credit card.” He broke down again.

“Understand,” the nurse said, taking the paperwork from him. She wrote out the phone number on a slip of paper and handed it to him.

They sat down on the waiting room couches, the tears fading away, the harsh reality setting in.

“We probably shouldn’t stay here too long,” Sid said. “The enemy will figure out where we are.”

“I know,” Sam said. “We can go any time. What vehicles do we have here?”

“Our truck,” John said.

“And our Jeep,” Yvonne said.

“What happened to the others?” Sam asked.

“They had to fight more on the way back to camp,” Sid said. “Planned to leave at first light. Too easy for the enemy to follow their tracks.”

“I want to get back to them as soon as we can,” Sam said. “I want back into the fight.”

“Shouldn’t you take it easy for a while?” Sarah asked.


Yvonne shot a worried look at Sid. He nodded, then his phone rang. “James. I’ll put it on speaker.”

“Hi, Sid,” James said. “Everybody okay?”

“Connie just died,” Sid said.

“Oh no,” he said. “I’m so sorry.”

“Where are you headed?” John asked.

“Hank and Jason contacted their friends and family in Julian. The people there finished the job you guys started and took out the rest of the UN and the Islamists. Turned the place into an armed camp. Then they chased the enemy out of Banner, Wynola, and Santa Ysabel. Cut off one of their most important supply lines.”

“That’s good,” John said.

“Well, yes and no,” James said. “The enemy is getting a force ready to attack them. We’re going there to help.”

“Out of the frying pan and into the fire,” Yvonne said.

“What happens after that?” Sarah asked.

“We don’t know yet,” James said. “The elders want to take back the reservation, of course.”

“You don’t?” Yvonne asked.

“There’s nothing I’d like better, but I don’t want to see us walking into a death trap.”

“Who’s taking over the leadership?” Sid asked.

“Tyler,” James said. “He’s the best choice. He’s the smartest, and he’s got a level head on his shoulders.”

“Glad to hear that,” Sid said. “Had some conversation with him. He’s an old soul.”

“How long are you guys going to stay in La Quinta?” James asked.

“We’re leaving in a few minutes,” Sam said. “Nothing more we can do here, and the enemy is gonna get wise.”

“You’re probably right about that,” James said. “One of the warriors is driving your rig, Sam.”

“Great, thanks for that,” Sam said. He got up and checked out the window, eyes getting wide. “What do we have in the way of guns?”

“Oh, crap, what do you see?” John asked.

“Two UN Vans just cruised by,” he said.

“We’ve got a BAR and an M60. A couple hunting rifles and shotguns, and a few grenades,” Sid said. “They’re stashed in the back of the Jeep.”

“I’ve got two hunting rifles and one M-16 behind the seat in the truck,” John said. “I don’t have much ammo for any of them, and the hunting rifles are bolt action.”

“So we can’t stand and fight,” Sam said. “Let’s sneak out of here.”

“Yeah,” Sid said. “Talk to you later, James. I’ll call you. Take care of yourself.”

“You too,” James said. The call ended, so Sid picked up his phone.

“We moved the vehicles in back of the hospital,” John said. “We can go down the hallway by the snack machines.”

“Let’s go now,” Sam said. “Before we get hit.”

Yvonne rushed over to the emergency room door and pounded on it. Nurse Grace opened it. “Something wrong?”

“We’re leaving now,” she said. “We just saw two UN vans cruise down the street. They might come here looking for us.”

“Dammit,” she said. “Don’t tell me where you’re going. I’ll let everybody know to get ready.”

“Good luck, and thanks for everything,” Yvonne said.

“Watch Sam,” she whispered. “He’s got a lot of rage, and it’s gonna come out.”

“I know,” Yvonne said. She joined the group, already walking towards the back door.

“You warn Nurse Grace?” Sid asked.

“Yeah,” Yvonne said.

“I suggest we have the guns where we can get to them in a hurry,” Sam said.

“Yeah,” John said.

“Where do you want to ride?” Sarah asked.

“There still blankets in the back of the truck?” Sam asked.

“Yeah, but you don’t want to ride back there,” John said.

“Yes, I do, with the M60 or BAR and a shotgun,” Sam said.

“But you were just injured,” Sarah said.

“I’m fine, and I’m the best close shooter we’ve got,” Sam said. “I’m still pretty tired, too, so I can doze off back there. It’s not exactly cold out here.”

“He’s right,” Sid said. “It’s the best choice. I’ll bring over a shotgun and the M60. You’re probably better with the M60 than an old BAR, right?”

“Yeah,” Sam said.

“Let’s take 74 to 371 to 79,” Yvonne said, looking at her phone as she climbed into the passenger side of the Jeep. “Long drive, but it’ll get us there.”

They drove out of the hospital parking lot, the Jeep leading the way.

“Get us to route 111,” Yvonne said, “that’ll get us to 74.”

“Got it,” Sid said.

“You tired?”

“I’m okay,” he said. “Could use some coffee, though. Maybe we ought to stop at a 7-11 on the way.”

“Good idea,” Yvonne said. “I’m worried about Sam.”

“He said he wasn’t injured badly,” Sid said.

“I’m worried about his head, not his ribs,” Yvonne said. “He’s a bundle of seething anger. I hope he doesn’t take risks he shouldn’t.”

“He’ll settle down,” Sid said. “Trust me.”

“I hope so,” Yvonne said. They traveled down the street as the morning traffic started to pick up.

“There’s a 7-11,” Sid said. “Shall we?”

“Yes,” Yvonne said. “The others will get the message.”

Sid pulled in front of the store, John parking next to him.

“Coffee, huh?” John said. “Good idea. You want one, Sam?”

“Nah, I’d rather fall asleep for a while when we get on the road.”

“Oh, shit, look,” Sarah whispered. “There’s a UN creep in there, trying to intimidate the clerk.”

Sam sat up, grinning. Sid shot him a sidelong glance. “What are you gonna do?”

“Make a kill,” he whispered. “Cover me.”

Sam slipped out of the back of the truck and walked slowly to the storefront, trying to look like a tired commuter. He pushed open the door. It buzzed, the UN Peacekeeper turning towards him, then back at the clerk.

“Stupid American, you learn your place,” he said in a thick French accent. “I’m not paying for breakfast. I take what I want.”

“My boss told me I don’t have to give you guys free food,” the young clerk said.

“Call him up,” the UN Peacekeeper said. “Send him down and I’ll kill his ass.”

Two patrons who were back by the coffee area rushed out the door as Sam got into one of the aisles and watched.

“Look, American cowards run at first sign of trouble. Nobody help you, stupid American.”

“Pound sand.” The young clerk was showing anger in his eyes. He was a big Hispanic kid with the look of a football quarterback.

“What?” the UN Peacekeeper shouted, stepping back and reaching for his gun. Sam leapt forward, grabbing the man’s head and twisting it violently. His neck cracked and he went limp, Sam letting him drop to the floor as the clerk watched, wide eyed.

“Good job resisting this jerk,” Sam said. “He have any friends around?”

“He walked over from their headquarters across the street,” the clerk said. “How’d you learn how to do that?”

“Special Forces,” Sam said. “How many of these creeps over there?”

“Used to be about twenty,” the clerk said. “Most of them took off last night and never came back. The night manager told me.”

Sam looked out the window at the offices. “That looks like a real estate office.”

“Used to be,” the clerk said. “What are you gonna do?”

“Kill all of them,” Sam said, walking to the door. He turned before he went out. “You armed?”

“Nope,” he said. “Those cretins disarmed all the locals when they rolled in here last month.”

“I wouldn’t push these guys too hard until you are,” Sam said. “That guy might have killed you.”

“What should I do with the body?”

“You got a dumpster out back?” Sam asked, grinning as he walked out the door. He went to the Jeep. “Give me the grenades and a handgun.”

“What are you gonna do?” Sid asked.

“Kill the UN punks in that headquarters over there,” he said.

“You sure that’s a good idea?” Yvonne asked.

“Yeah,” Sam said.

Sid got out the grenades and handed them carefully to Sam, then gave him a .45 auto from the glovebox. “I’m gonna go cover you with the BAR.”

“Sid, no,” Yvonne said.

“You cover us from here,” Sid said. She nodded yes, fear in her eyes.

Sam and Sid rushed across the street, Sam not even slowing down as he entered the office. He backed out quickly as the first grenade went off. There was screaming inside. Sam tossed a second grenade inside and then fired his pistol several times. Sid came up alongside him and opened up with the BAR, blasting through the front windows as Sam tossed the last grenade. Then there was silence, smoke starting to pour out the broken front windows.

“Our job here is done,” Sam said with a wicked smile.

“You enjoyed that too much,” Sid said, eyeing him.

“Yeah, I did,” he said. “And I’ve only just started. Go get your coffee and let’s blow this burg.”

They rushed back across the street.


It was a crisp, clear morning. Trevor and Kaylee were riding together in the Jeep, pulling the off-roader down the long dirt road. There were a multitude of vehicles in front and behind them.

“Hope nobody messed with my uncle’s motor home,” Kaylee said.

“Or mine,” Trevor said. “Although it wouldn’t be anywhere near the loss.”

“When are they gonna tell us where we’re going, I wonder?”

“Probably when we stop to get the motor homes. Want to ride in mine with me?”

“If I’m not needed to drive something else,” she said. “I hope I can.”

“I didn’t want to get up this morning,” Trevor said. “I just wanted to lay there with you all day.”

“You mean you wanted to lay next to me naked all day,” she quipped.

“Okay, so you found me out.”

“Thanks for being so patient with me,” Kaylee said. “About going further.”

“It’ll happen when we’re both ready.”

“I know, but still,” she said.

Trevor chuckled. “You think I’m going someplace?”

“Not sure what you mean.”

He glanced at her, then looked quickly back at the road. “You’re just teasing me.”

“Teasing you?” she asked.

“You know I’m in love with you,” Trevor said. “I’m not going anywhere unless you force me away. You gonna force me away?”

“Oh, God no,” she said. “I’m in love with you too.”

“You sure?”

“Of course I’m sure, silly,” she said. “You’ll get me pretty soon. I promise.”

“Don’t promise,” Trevor said. “Like I said, it’ll happen. Naturally, when we’re both in that place. Trust me.”

“It’ll be nice to have someplace to stay,” she said.

“My motor home?” Trevor asked. “It’s not much.”

“I think it’s nice,” she said softly.

“I heard Megan go into Angel’s tent last night.”

Kaylee cracked up. “I saw Megan and Kaitlyn taking down their tents last night after Seth and Angel went to bed. Knew what was coming.”

“Wonder if either of them will last.”

“Who knows,” Kaylee said. “I know we’ll last.”


“Duh,” she said. “We’ve known each other for years. We know what we’re getting.”

“Do you miss Matt?”

Kaylee was quiet for a moment.

“Uh oh,” Trevor said nervously.

“No, don’t get the wrong idea,” she said. “I was just thinking back on that. It seems a lot different when you’re out of it.”

“Meaning what?”

“I was worried about being able to hold onto him. I always had the feeling that he was interested in other women. I never felt secure.”

Trevor was silent, looking ahead.

“You know something about that, don’t you?” she asked.

“I don’t think we should talk about it,” Trevor said. “It doesn’t matter anymore.”

“I was right,” she said softly.

“I won’t ever do that to you,” Trevor said.

“I know you won’t,” she said. “I love you in a way I never got close to feeling with Matt. I feel it coming from you too.”

“Really?” Trevor asked.

“Yes, really,” she said, looking at him. “Geez.”


“I wish we could pull over right now,” she said. “I’m so bad.”

Trevor glanced at her red face, then looked back at the road.

“We must be getting close. The group is slowing down ahead,” Trevor said.

“Thank God,” Kaylee said. “Hope we’re not driving too much further after this.”

“Me too. Look, we’re here.”

“I’m surprised we didn’t recognize the area,” Kaylee said.

“We’re coming from a different direction, and this all looks a lot alike,” Trevor said. “Wonder how we’ll handle this? I can tow the Jeep behind the motor home, but not the off-roader.”

“My uncle has probably been working that out already.”

“Hope so,” Trevor said. “There’s a lot of tribe people who are riding in the back of pickup trucks. I’ll bet they’ll be glad to get into vehicles like these instead. Maybe we won’t be towing anything behind the motor homes.”

They followed the slow-moving line around the big curved road, skirting by the small hill, and then the two motor homes came into view.

“Good, they look fine,” Kaylee said.

“We’d better check them out for booby traps,” Trevor said. “Remember what happened to One Eye.”

“You think the enemy knew where these were?”

“Hope not, but it’s possible.”

They drove close to Trevor’s Motor Home and parked, getting out to meet Ji-Ho, who was unlocking his rig.

“You sure nobody booby-trapped your rig?” Trevor asked.

“I sure,” Ji-Ho said. “Sensors. They alert with smallest movement. No buzz. We fine.” He opened the door of his coach and climbed inside. They heard the big diesel start up, black smoke flowing out of the rear exhaust pipe for a moment.

“See, it’s fine,” Kaylee said.

“Guess I should go fire mine up.”

“I’ll check with uncle about the towing situation.”

“I left the keys in his Jeep,” Trevor said.

Kaylee nodded and climbed into Ji-Ho’s rig.

Trevor gave his motor home a quick once over, then unlocked the door and went inside. It was already heating up. He fired up the engine and the generator, then turned on the air conditioner.

“Hey, dude,” Angel said, walking to the coach door with Megan. Seth and Kaitlyn followed.

“Hey,” Trevor said, coming outside. “Nice trip?”

“I liked it,” Megan said, pulling Angel closer.

Kaylee rushed over. “My uncle said to let tribal members drive our Jeep. He’s doing the same. I think he just called Tyler over. He’s the new leader.”

“Really?” Seth said. “He’s a good choice, from what I’ve seen so far.”

“He is,” Kaitlyn said. “They say where we’re going yet?”

“Julian,” Kaylee said. “We’re gonna go help them. The two cops that came from there said the enemy is about to attack.”

“We’re going into another battle already?” Megan asked.

“Yep,” Kaylee said. “Sorry.”

Tyler walked over with some warriors and some women. “Is this one of the Jeeps that needs a driver?”

“Yep,” Kaylee said. “Key’s in it. The other one is over there.”

“I want to grab my guns,” Trevor said, going to the back.

“Yeah, do that,” Tyler said.

“Congrats, man,” Seth said.

“Yeah, Congrats,” Angel said.

Tyler smiled. “Thanks. I’m scared to death.”

“You’ll be fine,” Trevor said, guns in his hands. “It’s all yours. Enjoy.”

“Think there’s guns in Ji-Ho’s Jeep?” Tyler asked.

“Yes, but don’t worry,” Ji-Ho said as he walked over. “I leave for now. Got plenty of firepower on rig.”

“Yeah, I heard about that thing,” Tyler said. “Wow.”

“Maybe I should take lead,” Ji-Ho said.

“Or be in the back,” Seth said.

“Either,” Ji-Ho said, looking at Tyler. “You choose.”

“Front,” Tyler said. “If you don’t mind.”

Ji-Ho nodded.

Hank and Jason walked over with Clem.

“I can’t thank you guys enough for helping our town,” Hank said. “Really.”

“You help us, we help you,” Ji-Ho said. “Maybe lay low there for while.”

“If we can win the battle, it’s a perfect place,” Jason said.

“When we leaving?” Seth asked.

“As soon as you guys are ready,” Tyler said. “You know the others are going to meet us there, right?”

“I talk to Sam,” Ji-Ho said.

“Me too,” Clem said, grim look on his face. “Poor Sam. Poor Connie.”

Ji-Ho nodded silently, fighting back tears.

“This has been costly, that’s for sure,” Tyler said. “Let’s get out of here.”

Everybody went to their vehicles.

“You want me to drive?” Kaylee asked Trevor, after he shut the entry door.

“I can drive for a while,” Trevor said.

“Okay,” she said, getting into the passenger seat.

“Let’s blow this joint,” Trevor said, taking off the parking brake. They rolled away, behind Ji-Ho’s massive rig, the rest of the group following in a long line.

To be continued…


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