Bugout! California Part 68 – Team Assessment

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Seth watched as Angel stopped before the last bend. Highway 79 was a short walk away.

“We can’t get killed,” Kaitlyn said. “Not now. Not when we’re just starting.”

“Don’t think that way,” Seth said. “We’re gonna make it. We’re good. We’ll handle whatever they throw at us.”

They got out of the Jeep, reaching back inside to grab their weapons, and then walked up to Angel and Megan.

“Never saw them again, dude,” Angel said. “We had our eyes peeled.”

Megan shook her head yes in agreement. “You two look different.”

Kaitlyn smiled. “We’ll talk later. If there is a later.”

“C’mon,” Angel said, gripping his M-60. “Let’s go.” Megan picked her AK-47 up off the front seat of the Jeep and closed the door quietly. They walked down the dark road, stopping when the highway came into view.

“Don’t see anybody,” Megan whispered.

“Well keep looking,” Angel said. “You’ve got better eyes than I do.”

She nodded and they crept forward.

“Good, this is a long straight section,” Seth whispered. “There’s no place to hide.”

“Dude, I think we’re cool. I think we ought to take off before they come looking down here.”

“Yeah, Angel, I think you’re right, but we need to watch ourselves,” Seth said.

“I agree,” Kaitlyn said. “I’ll hang out in the back of the Jeep, so I can fire behind us.”

“I’ll do the same,” Megan said. “Glad these aren’t hard-top Jeeps.”

“Okay, let’s haul ass.” Angel said.

The two couples raced back to their vehicles and took off for the road, making a left and getting to full speed in a hurry.

Angel’s hands were sweaty around the wheel. He glanced over at Megan, who was behind him in the back. “I don’t like you back there.”

“I know, but it’s a better idea at the moment,” Megan said. “You pick up the vibe between Seth and Kaitlyn?”

“What vibe?”

“I don’t know. Something’s different.”

“Different how?” Angel asked.

“I can’t quite put my finger on it.”

“He’s in love with her, you know,” Angel said. “I’ve known this guy for most of my life. I know how he is around girls.”

“Girls?”

Angel chuckled. “Women. Remember that we were friends when we first started to think girls weren’t yucky.”

Megan giggled. “You mean sixth grade or so?”

“Hell, I’ve been friends with him since the second grade,” Angel said.

“Kaitlyn said she was going to spend the rest of her life with him,” Megan said.

Angel was silent for a moment.

“What, does that scare you? Or do you not believe it?”

Angel was still silent.

“Talk to me,” she said.

“Do you feel that way?” he asked.

“Hey, I’m not trying to lead you down that path.”

“I asked you a question,” Angel said. “We’ve been beating around the bush about this since we took off from the battle.”

“I know,” she said.

“Maybe we should hold off this conversation until we can see each other.”

“No,” she said. “It’s easier for me this way.”

“You sound scared.”

“I am scared,” she said. “How could I not be? This is a big deal for me. For all women.”

“And girls,” Angel said.

“Shut up.”

He snickered. “I’ve already let my feelings slip, you know. I don’t know what you’re afraid of.”

“When did you let anything slip?”

“When we were talking to Seth and Kaitlyn, after we passed the RV Park. Remember?”

She was silent for a moment. “Yes, I remember. That was an emotional moment. We were both looking for something to hold onto.”

“We’re still in that situation, but that’s not what it was,” Angel said. “We’re still beating around the bush.”

She sighed. “All right, all right. I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

“Making this difficult. Not trusting you.”

“You don’t trust me?” Angel asked.

“I think you meant what you said at the time,” Megan said. “What if you change your mind?”

“Why are we only talking about me?”

She was silent for a moment again.

“Do you really care for me or not?” Angel asked. “Seems to me like you do.”

“I’m in love with you,” Megan said. “You can tell, can’t you?”

“I can tell,” he said.

“It scares you,” she said. “See, that’s what I’m worried about.”

“Don’t you think I should take this seriously?”

He could hear her breathing change in the back.

“Are you crying?” Angel asked. “I’m sorry.”

“I’m getting ahead of you,” she said. “Don’t worry, I won’t hold you to anything.”

“Stop it.”

“No, really,” she said. “We can be boyfriend and girlfriend. When it’s over, it’s over.”

Angel laughed. “It’s not going to be over. Trust me.”

“I thought you were being serious.”

“I wish I could look at your face. It’s hard to read you from here.”

“Oh well,” she said. “Go ahead anyway.”

“Okay,” he said. “I wasn’t kidding when I said you were my whole life. It’s not some passing thing. I’ve been in several relationships, two of which I thought were going to lead to marriage. None of them were like this.”

“Maybe it’s the times. The things we’re going through.”

“Nope,” he said. “When I’m with you, I feel this comfortable warmth. I love talking to you. Even when you’re being like this.”

“Oh, please.”

“And when I’m not with you, all I can think about is being with you.”

“That’s the same in any early relationship,” she said softly.

“You’re not hearing me. I’ve been in serious relationships before. This is different.”

“But what makes you so sure?” she asked.

“I can’t explain that to you,” he said. “I can’t see a future for me without you there. It’s like we’re already together, and we will be forever. There’s no question in my mind.”

Megan started crying again.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“I’m happy, dummy,” she said. “I’m so much in love with you. I can’t see a future without you either. That’s what makes this so hard.”

Angel was silent for a moment. “You think we’re both going to lose interest.”

“No, I don’t right now, but that’s just my heart speaking. My head is giving off warning signals.”

“Like what?”

“Like there is something there, but it feels stronger than it really is, because of what’s happened. Because of the battles, and the loss, and the fear.”

“Oh,” Angel said. “I can’t fix that for you.”

“I know,” she said. “That’s why I’m crying.”

“Look, here’s my suggestion. As of now, you’re my girlfriend. Is that okay with you?”

“What does that mean, exactly?” Megan asked.

“You’ve been somebody’s girlfriend before, haven’t you?”

“Yes,” she said softly. “This is going to be different than those.”

“Different how?”

“I’ve never lived with a man before,” she said. “Not even with the closest ones.”

Angel chuckled. “We been on the run most of the time we’ve known each other. It’s not like we’ve had the opportunity to settle down and be domestic.”

“I know, but still.”

“You aren’t a virgin, are you?” Angel asked. “Sorry, that’s none of my business.”

“Yes, it is your business, and no, I’m not,” she said. “It’s been really difficult holding back with you on that.”

“Then why have you?”

“Circumstances,” she said. “When I can get you alone somewhere other than a tent next to other people, you’re in trouble.”

Angel chuckled. “Finally some trouble I’m looking forward to.”

“Shut up,” she said. “I shouldn’t have told you that.”

“You haven’t told me if you’ll be my girlfriend or not.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“You have to say it,” he said softly.

“Then yes, I’ll be your girlfriend,” she said.

“We’ll go as far as you want us to,” Angel said. “We don’t have to live together, for instance, until you’re ready.”

She giggled. “Oh no you don’t. I’m not letting you out of my sight any more than I absolutely have to. I hope you don’t mind.”

“No, I don’t mind,” he said. “I like how that sounds. There’s our turnoff. Skyline Truck Trail.” He turned on his blinker and made the right turn.

“How much further?” she asked.

“Five minutes,” Angel said. “Gonna seem like longer.”

“Oh, you have something planned for me, do you?” she asked.

“We’ll see,” he said.

***

Jules led Tex, Sparky, and Ted to the big house. The lights over the big veranda were on. “It nice out. Let’s sit on porch.”

“Who owns this place?” Sparky asked.

“Associate of Ivan’s,” Jules said. “He not here. Just as well.”

“Somebody we don’t know, eh?” Ted asked as they sat down on the chairs.

“Government official,” Jules said. “Better you don’t know.”

Tex cracked up. “Nothing is ever what it seems in this crazy world.”

“You say mouthful,” Jules said.

“So, what’s on your mind?” Ted asked.

“First, we should make baseline, no?” Jules asked.

“What do you mean, partner?” Tex asked.

“Assess team,” Jules said. “Who we trust, who we watch, who we count on.”

“Oh,” Sparky said. “Yeah, that’s actually a good idea, and we do need to reassess as we get to know people better. No rough stuff, though, unless somebody is a traitor. That’s an absolute for me. I’ll leave the group if we do otherwise.”

“I agree,” Ted said.

“Me too,” Tex said.

“No worry, I not do rough stuff,” Jules said. “Let’s start with men.”

“Okay,” Sparky said.

“Certain ones we can already trust, no?”

“Well, Jules, I think we can trust each other,” Tex said.

“Yes, but not talk about us,” Jules said. “I trust Robbie, Jordan, Cody, and Stacey already.”

“Not that I’m in disagreement, partner, but what’s your criteria for that?” Tex asked.

“All in more than one battle,” Jules said. “They perform well. I see. Any question?”

“I think that’s sound,” Sparky said. Who’s left?”

“For the men, only Justin and Gil,” Ted said. “I know both better than the rest of you, because they were friends of Robbie. They used to show up at my restaurant fairly often.”

“We watch,” Jules said. “No offense.”

“Can’t argue with that, partner,” Tex said. “If we’re moving on to the women, I’d like to suggest that Morgan is okay.”

“I agree,” Sparky said.

Jules nodded. “I agree, but we discuss other details about women. Impact on men, and relationship with each other. Lay cards on table. We must, no?”

“Not sure what you’re getting at, partner,” Tex said.

“I get it,” Ted said. “It’s not just their loyalty and fighting ability. It’s also their effect on their men, and the dynamics between them as women. Females relate to each other differently than men do.”

“That sounds kinda sexist, partner,” Tex said.

“Don’t give me sexist,” Jules said, laughing. “This life death issue.”

“Okay, then let’s talk about ourselves in this regard first,” Sparky said. “These are all beautiful women, and we’re basically paired off.”

“Not sure I’d go that far,” Ted said. “And we’ve got an extra woman now, since Alexis is staying with us.”

“We talk, one by one. I start. I want Shelly. She resists, but I not give up. I think she likes. I see fire in her eyes. She be good in battle. I classify as okay pending more experience.”

Sparky laughed. “She’s a little hard to read. I think she’ll be okay.”

“Dana?” Jules asked. “She throw herself at you, my friend.”

Sparky’s face turned red. “I know. I like her, but she’s trying a little too hard. I think she’ll be good in a battle. I’m a little worried about her if we don’t work out.”

“Thanks for honest answer,” Jules said. “We put in watch category for now.”

“Agreed,” Sparky said.

“Tex, what up with Karen?” Sparky asked. “She wanted Gil, no?”

“That’s over,” Tex said. “We’ll have to watch her. I’m trying to win her over. Got the hots for her pretty good. Not sure that’s the same as love. She might get a little too shook up in a battle. Time will tell.”

“Another watch, then,” Jules said. “Agreed?”

The others nodded.

“Alexis want Tex too,” Jules said. “I see. Problems between her and Karen?”

“Alexis might be very valuable,” Tex said. “I’m not interested in her romantically. She might be a good operative. Seen women like her before. Good person to plant for spying. She’ll use her beauty to advantage if needed.”

“You sure about that?” Ted asked. “She’s been through hell.”

“All of them have,” Tex said. “Make no mistake about that. She’s strong. She also has a grudge against the enemy.”

“Grudge?” Sparky asked.

“Her whole family died in that Ventura Harbor nuke attack, partner,” Tex said. “We can use that.”

“That sounded horrible,” Ted said.

“Hey, this management talk,” Jules said. “People are friends but also resources. That what we talk about. Leave emotions at door, or at least be honest about them in discussion.”

“Okay, sorry,” Ted said. “No offence.”

“No offence,” Jules said. “I want Shelly. If I don’t get, I still be friend, still value her.”

“That little lady has organizing skills,” Tex said. “Saw that back at the warehouse. That’s valuable as hell.”

“Yes, I see too,” Jules said. “Back to Alexis. Watch, right? Develop.”

“We should apply colors to rate,” Ted said. “Yellow means we watch. Green means we trust fully.”

“What about in-between?” Sparky asked.

“Red,” Tex said. “Let’s make it bold. To review, Karen and Dana are yellow, Shelly and Alexis are red. Agreed?”

“Yes,” Jules said. “Morgan?”

“Green, partner,” Tex said.

“Why green?” Jules asked.

“She showed courage under fire at the card club,” Sparky said. “She also had the smarts to leave my number for Robbie to find.”

“She did well in the action at the Volvo dealership, too,” Tex said. “She’s solid, and she’s only focused on Robbie. They’re inseparable. There won’t be any intrigue.”

“Okay, green,” Jules said. “Who else?”

“Haley and Brianna rode with me,” Ted said. “They both seem solid, but we haven’t seen them in any action to speak of.”

“Haley fought at the Volvo dealership,” Sparky said. “She’s good.”

“Okay, make her red,” Tex said. “How about Brianna?”

“She didn’t say much to me,” Ted said. “Stacey’s infatuated with her.”

“She return affection?” Jules asked.

“She stuck to him like glue,” Ted said. “Stacey is a babe in the woods with women, but he was trying with her, and she didn’t resist him. I think she’s scared to death.”

“Of him?” Sparky asked.

“No, of the war,” Ted said.

“Yellow,” Jules said.

“I can go along with that,” Ted said.

“How about the lesbians?” Tex asked.

“Audrey’s a doctor,” Sparky said. “Automatic green, and we need to protect her.”

“Anybody disagree?” Jules asked.

Nobody said anything.

“Okay, green it is,” Sparky said. “How about Brooke?”

“She’s hard as nails and smart as a whip,” Ted said. “Maybe a little too aggressive. I think she’s at least a red.”

The others nodded in agreement.

“Okay, who left?” Jules asked.

“Tisha, Ashely, Allison, and Katie,” Ted said.

“You have a mind like a steel trap, partner,” Tex said.

The others chuckled.

“Tisha’s got a hell of a case for Gil,” Tex said. “She’s as loyal as the day is long, but to Gil, not to the group yet. I think we should rate her a yellow. Probably should move them up together if they prove themselves.”

“I can go along with that,” Sparky said. “I think we have to put Katie in the same category.”

“Agreed,” Ted said. The others nodded.

“Ashley?” Jules asked.

“Yellow,” Sparky said. “I don’t know if she can handle the violence.”

“Yeah, I picked that up too,” Ted said. “I agree.”

“One more,” Jules said. “Allison.”

“She should get at least a red,” Tex said. “Talked with her some. She grew up in the country. She’s good with guns. Done a lot of hunting. She has survival skills too. Good backpacker.”

“How do you know that?” Ted asked.

“She knows things that a non-backpacker and non-hunter wouldn’t,” Tex said.

“She killed several enemy fighters at the Volvo dealership,” Sparky said. “I’d give her a red, but I’d lean towards green. She was good. Very good.”

“Red,” Jules said. “That it.”

“That’s not all you wanted to talk about, is it?” Ted asked.

“No,” Jules said. “We stay here two days. Then we head up coast. Same as last time. Stagger departures. No clumping.”

“Where we going, partner?” Tex asked.

“We go to Gilroy. Set up at ranch to east, like this place.”

“Okay, then what?” Ted asked.

“Then I tell you rest,” Jules said.

“Dammit, Jules, don’t do that crap,” Ted said.

“No choice. If any of you captured, forced to talk, the set up with Ivan down drain,” Jules said. “I can give general plan. No detail. You understand, no?”

Sparky sighed. “He’s right, guys. We’ve got a job to do.”

Ted shook his head. “I don’t like this, but screw it. I’ll play ball. What’s the general plan?”

“Separate San Francisco Bay area from Sacramento. Then part of group help Ivan’s team to lock down bay area, other half help Ivan’s Sacramento team.”

Tex laughed. “Hell, you gave us quite a bit right there.”

“He didn’t give us what the enemy could use,” Ted said. “That’s good enough. Sorry I gave you crap.”

“Understand, old friend,” Jules said.

“What comes after this?” Sparky asked.

“Mop up, go back to lives,” Jules said. “May need to help Ji-Ho in south.”

“Is he having problems?” Ted asked.

“Most of force wiped out,” Jules said. “He call before meeting.”

“Crap, you didn’t think we’d want to know that?” Ted asked.

“Need focus for last discussion,” Jules said.

“Is he safe?” Ted asked.

“No, but he survivor,” Jules said. “You know this. Battle wagon intact. Out of ammo, but working situation now. Most of core team live.”

“Wish I knew that earlier,” Ted said. “I could’ve mentioned it to George and Malcolm. They could’ve stopped by.”

“I know where George and Malcolm go,” Jules said. “Ivan watch. They help people more important than Ji-Ho.”

“They told me they’re going to run down some serial killer stuff,” Ted said.

“That’s what they think. They end up helping old friend.”

“Who?” Sparky asked.

“General Hogan.”

To be continued…

 

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The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”

 

 

Copyright Robert Boren 2016

Bugout! California Part 67 – Garrett’s Posse

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“There’s the access road,” Sam said. Sid nodded and turned the Jeep onto it, driving past the broken gate in the darkness.

“I’ll stop before the last bend,” Sid said. “You okay, honey?”

Yvonne looked at him. “I’m scared to death. Guess it shows.”

“Check your rifle,” Sam said. “That always helps me.”

“I’m not afraid of finding the enemy here,” Yvonne said. “There’s no reason for them to be here. I’m afraid of seeing my friend’s heads on sticks.”

“Maybe that’s been cleaned up by now,” Sid said.

“That’s the least of our worries,” Sam said as he checked his M60.

“Where’s the ammo?” Sid asked. “Hidden in your office?”

“Nope,” Sam said. “It’s easier to show you than to tell you.”

“Look, see the vehicle?” Yvonne asked.

“Shit, that’s a Gaz Tigr,” Sid said. “It’s blown up.”

“There was a battle,” Sam said. “Good. I hope our people took out a bunch of these bastards.”

Yvonne started to cry softly.

“I should’ve left you with the others,” Sid said.

“No way was that happening,” she said. “I’ll be okay. This was our home. It’s gonna be hard.”

“Well don’t worry about that now,” Sam said. “Stay sharp just in case. I suggest we park this Jeep back by the rear, so we can escape if somebody’s been monitoring the camera.”

“I can get in so the camera doesn’t see us,” Sid said.

“Yeah, I was gonna suggest that,” Sam said.

They went around the first bend, then the second. There was another broken vehicle in the road, almost blocking access.

“Wow, that’s a troop transport,” Sam said as they squeezed around it. “If we come in here with the motor home, we’ll have to get that thing off the road.”

“Your bulldozer is still there, I hope,” Sid said.

“Who knows? The whole damn place might be burned to the ground, you know.”

“There’s the last bend,” Yvonne said.

Sid nodded as he pulled over. “Dark night.”

“That’s probably in our favor,” Yvonne said.

“If there’s anybody here, they’ve probably already heard us,” Sam said. “Or seen the headlights. They’ll have somebody on the ridge.”

“Nobody’s here,” Sid said. “I can feel it. The place is dead.”

“Injuns,” Sam cracked. He chuckled.

“No jokes, paleface,” Sid whispered.

“How can you guys joke?” Yvonne asked, trembling as she grabbed the door handle.

“Breaks the tension,” Sam said. He waited until Sid got out, and then pushed the driver’s seat forward and squeezed through.

They closed the doors as silently as they could.

“I loved this place so much,” Sam said. “So did Conn…”

“Stop,” Sid said. “Later, if the place is clear.”

“Sorry, I’ll keep it together,” Sam whispered.

They rounded the bend, hugging the cliff on the right side of the road.

“Well, the office and clubhouse are still there,” Yvonne whispered.

“There’s lights on up ahead,” Sam whispered.

They got to the gate. The lights were coming from several of the coaches, one of them with its door hanging open.

“Look, no more heads,” Yvonne said. “Somebody’s been here since the battle and cleaned things up.”

“The attack happened at night,” Sid whispered. “Nobody bothered to turn off the lights in the coaches.”

“There’s a light on in the clubhouse too,” Sam said. “See it? It’s the one in the kitchen.”

“Dead Islamist,” Sid said, pointing.

“Why wouldn’t they have taken the body with them?” Yvonne asked.

“Good question,” Sam said. “Maybe our people killed most of the attackers.”

“Maybe,” Sid said. “There were some tough people here.”

“Yep,” Sam said. “I know.”

“Where to first?” Yvonne asked.

“Let’s take a quick look around, and then move the Jeep to the back,” Sid said.

“Okay,” Yvonne said. “Should we split up?”

“You two stay together,” Sam said. “I’m gonna go check the office and the clubhouse.”

Sid nodded and walked towards the first row of coaches with Yvonne. They went into the coach with the door hanging open.

“Should we turn off the lights?” Yvonne asked.

“No, leave them on, and leave the door open,” Sid whispered. “We don’t want the place to look different in the video feed.”

“Oh,” Yvonne said as she climbed in. “Oh, good, no bodies in here. We’ve had squirrels eating leftover food on the counter, though. Look.”

“They were surprised at dinner time.”

“Looks that way,” Yvonne said. “There’s a .45 under the dinette. I’ll grab it.”

“Good,” Sid said. “This place is clear. Let’s keep moving.”

They went to the other coaches, checking each of them, leaving them undisturbed.

“If the place got cleaned up, why’d the lights get left on?” Yvonne asked.

“Good question,” Sid said. “One more coach to look at.”

“They all look okay,” Yvonne said. “To drive, that is.”

“True, but some of them haven’t left this park for years. Wouldn’t trust the tires.”

They went into the last coach, finding the same thing as they did in the others. Evidence of surprise. No damage. Rotting food on the counter. Musty smell. Bad food in the fridge.

“Let’s go find Sam,” Sid said.

They walked back towards the front of the park.

“Hey,” Yvonne whispered, pointing. “That main camera up there is moving. It’s tracking us.”

“Dammit,” Sid said. “C’mon, let’s get out of range.” They ran in a crouch towards the office. Sam was on the porch, leaning against the railing.

“Didn’t find anybody, did you?” Sam asked.

“That camera was moving around,” Yvonne said, out of breath. “Tracking us.”

“Yeah, man,” Sid said. “We’d better get the hell out of here.”

“We don’t need to leave,” Sam said.

“What are you talking about?” Sid asked.

“This place is being used as a trap,” Sam said. “There’s a couple hundred dead Islamists and another fifty dead UN Peacekeepers in the clubhouse. Looks like a lot of them were tortured to death. The Islamists are stacked like cord wood and covered in pig blood, and there’s several pig carcasses laying on the pile with them.”

“What?” Yvonne asked, starting to walk towards the clubhouse veranda.

“I wouldn’t go in there,” Sam said. “It’s nasty, and it stinks. Luckily the doors and windows were closed, or we’d smell them out here.”

“Who do you think did this? Regular Army?”

Sam chuckled. “Only if the army went back to Colt Single Action Army revolvers. Found quite a bit of 45 Long Colt brass on the floor in there. Lot of 30-30 brass too, and some 44-40. Even some 45-70.”

Sid smiled. “You know who this is, don’t you?”

“Garrett,” Sam said. “Looks like they took their hobby to a new level.”

“You mean those crazy western nuts that live off Campbell Ranch Road?” Yvonne asked.

“Yeah,” Sid said. “You think they’re working that camera out there?”

“Could be either them or the enemy,” Sam said.

“Well, if it’s the enemy, they’ll be here soon,” Yvonne said.

“I got a phone number for Garrett,” Sam said. “It’s not in my cellphone, though. I was just about to go check for it in the office. Wanted to head you guys off before you went into that clubhouse.”

“What if the enemy shows up?” Yvonne asked.

“We’ll give them the welcome they deserve,” Sam said. “You might want to move the Jeep back to the rear of the park, just in case.”

“You don’t look very nervous about this,” Sid said.

“Some of those bodies have only been there a day or two,” Sam said. “I found horse tracks around the back of the clubhouse too. If the Islamists show up here, we’re probably gonna get some help.”

“How many people does Garrett have?” Yvonne asked.

“Hard to say,” Sam said. “Judging by the carnage in there, he must have a fairly strong group.”

“You did a talk for them once, didn’t you?” Sid asked.

“Yeah, about Special Forces Tactics. These guys are good. They didn’t need much help from me.”

“How many people were there?” Yvonne asked.

“I don’t know…maybe fifty or sixty.”

“I’ll go move the Jeep,” Sid said, trotting back towards the gate.

“Wait for me,” Yvonne said, running after him.

“You buying this?” she asked when they got to the Jeep.

“What’s to buy? Nobody else would use those kinds of guns.”

They got into the Jeep and Sid drove them through the gate.

“But why would they be doing this?” Yvonne asked. “It’s not like they spent much time with us.”

“Remember those two CHP officers? Officer Ryan and Officer Patrick?”

“Yeah,” Yvonne said. “Of course. Their heads were on spikes, remember?”

“They were both members of this group,” Sid said. “Glad I never pissed these guys off.”

“Oh. Sorry, I didn’t know that.”

Sid parked the Jeep by the trail leading into the back country. “This ought to be good enough. I doubt we’ll have to flee, though.”

“I hope you’re right,” Yvonne said as they got out. Sam was in the office when they got back to the front of the park. They went inside.

“Find it?” Sid asked.

“Yeah,” Sam said, holding up a slip of paper. “Was just waiting for you guys to get back. I’ll call him now.”

“I’m going to watch out these windows,” Yvonne said.

Sam punched the number into his cellphone, then hit the speaker button. Sid got close, and they listened to it ring. There was a click.

“Garrett,” a gruff voice said.

“Hey, Garrett, it’s Sam.”

There was silence on the line for a moment.

“You’re alive.”

“Yeah, Garrett, I’m alive. Sid’s right here next to me, and his wife is in the room with us.”

“Yvonne,” Garrett said. “Hi, Sid.”

“Hey, Garrett, how are you?”

“I’m good,” Garrett said. “Where are you guys?”

“We’re at my park,” Sam said.

There was silence on the line for a moment.

“You still there?” Sid asked.

“You guys shouldn’t be there. You see the big camera panning around?”

“Yeah,” Sid said.

“Crap, then they’ll be coming, I reckon. I got to go make a few phone calls.”

“We saw your handiwork,” Sam said. “Impressive.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Garrett said.

Sam chuckled. “Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us. You might want to pick up your brass, though. Not too many people are using old black powder rounds anymore.”

“Well, you always were the sharpest guy in the room,” Garrett said. “Listen, some of our Islamic friends are headed your way. I’d take up positions around the clubhouse, but not too close.”

“Why?” Sam asked.

“As soon as these cretins show up, they start walking around with their cellphones, and they always end up at the clubhouse. They never look anywhere else. It’s like they can see their dead with those things.”

“How do you guys know when they arrive?” Sam asked.

“We have some folks close by, who’ve been keeping watch,” Garrett said. “I got a couple of text messages. Probably them. I was asleep for a while.”

“Okay, we’ll let you go and get out of sight,” Sam said. “We know how to avoid the camera.”

“Good, see you soon,” Garrett said. The call ended.

“I’ll be damned,” Sid said.

“Let’s get out of here, you two.”

Sid and Yvonne followed Sam out the door, guns in hand, and snuck around the camera, getting into the bushes about forty yards away from the clubhouse.

“Wonder how long they’ll be?” Yvonne whispered.

“Who, the enemy or Garrett’s folks?” Sid asked.

“The enemy,” she whispered.

“I hear vehicles,” Sam said. “Listen.”

“You’ve got better ears than Yvonne does, and that’s saying something,” Sid said.

“I hear it now. You think that’s the enemy?” Yvonne asked.

“I’m certain of it,” Sam said.

“Why?” Yvonne asked.

“Garrett’s men will come on horseback. They’re probably already here.”

“Not Garrett,” Yvonne said.

“No, the force they keep here all the time,” Sam said. “Saw the hoof prints.”

“Here they come,” Sid said. “Another Gaz Tigr, and a truck. Shit, how many men do they have?”

“Don’t think we can take them?” Sam asked.

“Three of us and a few old-west reenactors?” Yvonne asked.

“They’re getting out,” Sam said. “Don’t fire. Let’s see what they do.”

“Yeah, I was thinking the same thing,” Sid said.

The Islamists made their way through the gate, looking around nervously. Then one of them got out front, following his cellphone like a divining rod.

“Wow, he’s going right towards the clubhouse all right,” Sid whispered, hands sweating around his rifle.

The lead man got to the veranda and went to a window, looking in. Then he shouted something in Arabic, the others rushing to the windows. Several men on horseback bounded out from behind the clubhouse, and about fifteen more came up from the back end of the park, firing their cap and ball pistols, dropping several Islamists as smoke billowed around them.

“Hands up!” shouted one of the men, holding an 1873 model Winchester in full western garb. The Islamists turned and dropped their weapons as the rest of the mounted men approached.

“Holy crap, what century is this?” Yvonne asked.

Some of the other western folks got off their horses, collected weapons, and sat the Islamists down along the veranda.

“These assholes never learn,” said one of them. The Islamist he was next to looked up at him, and said John Wayne fairy in a perfect English accent, which got him a cowboy-booted kick in the face. The Cowboys hooted and hollered. One of the Islamists got up and tried to run. The man with the 1873 Winchester dropped him, smoke billowing around his rifle. Then he leaned over on his horse and spit chewing tobacco onto the ground.

There was the sound of many horses coming up the main road, and Garrett appeared with a large group of men. The Islamists stared at them in terror.

“Hey, Sam, where are you guys?” Garrett shouted.

“Over here,” Sam said. “Hold your fire. I don’t think I want to mess with you guys!”

A few of the men chuckled as Sam, Yvonne, and Sid stood up.

“You know what to do with these creeps,” Garrett said. He got off his horse and walked to the bushes where they were.

One of the Islamists bolted for the road. Garrett whirled around, drew his pistol in a flash and hit the guy right between the shoulder blades, black smoke flooding around his gun.

“You’re really using black powder?” Sid asked.

“Tried to buy ammo or smokeless powder since martial law started up?” Garrett asked, striding towards them, his leggings and spurs making noise as he went.

“I’d think finding a place to buy black powder would be even tougher,” Sam said, shaking Garrett’s hand.

“Who said anything about buy? We can make this stuff. Have to be careful, though. Easy to blow yourselves up with this crap, and it’s illegal to have as much in possession as we do.”

“That’s a Colt Single Action Army,” Sid said, looking closer at Garrett’s pistol. “Your pals have old cap and ball revolvers.”

“Yeah, those cap and ball pistols have a problem I can’t get used to. Once you’re out of ammo, you’re out for too long. That’s why everybody carried two. The advantage to them is that they don’t require brass. Just lead, powder, and primers.”

“So, let me get this straight,” Sid asked, shaking Garrett’s hand. “You guys are making your own black powder and loading your own bullets for these museum pieces you’re carrying?”

Garrett chuckled. “We can make everything except the brass, and that’s still available all over the place. Nobody thought to put black powder cartridge cases under any kind of control. You can order them over the internet.”

“Yeah, but you still got to fire them out of those old weapons,” Yvonne said.

“Hey, we’ve all practiced with these a lot more than we have with modern firearms,” Garrett said.

A shriek came from inside the clubhouse, and then the sickening sound of bones breaking.

“What are you doing to them in there?” Yvonne asked.

“Less than they do to us,” Garrett said. “Trust me. They took some of our women.”

“From town?” Sid asked.

“Yep,” Garrett said, grim look on his face. “I’d rather not say more than that.”

More screams came out of the clubhouse, and a couple of pistol shots went off.

“You guys weren’t thinking about moving back in here, I hope,” Garrett said. “It’s not safe. It’s also a valuable way to lower their population.”

“I need to pick up some ammo I stashed here, and then we’ll be on our way,” Sam said. “As far as I’m concerned, you guys can keep this operation going. I’ll take the place back after the war.”

“You might have to tear down that clubhouse and rebuild,” Garrett said. “You’ll never get that stench out.”

“Yeah,” Sam said.

“What happened to the rest of the group?” Garrett said. “Anybody left?”

“Clem, John, and Sarah,” Yvonne said. “That’s about it.”

“Where’s your wife?” Garrett asked.

Sam started to speak but broke into tears.

“She was killed in a battle,” Yvonne said softly.

“Oh no,” Garrett said. “I’m so sorry. She was a great lady.”

“Thanks,” Sam said, trying to compose himself.

“There any safe places to hide out around here?” Sid asked.

“Yeah, Dulzura and the surrounding area are safe now. We patrol it constantly. The Islamists and the UN know not to show up.”

“Who’s patrolling it?”

“Men like you see down there,” Garrett said. “We’ve expanded our ranks. We’ve got seven hundred now, and we’re growing. People are fed up. They’re taking this region back. This park is the only place they attack around here anymore, and none of them survive.”

“If somebody gets away, you’re liable to have more enemy fighters here than you can handle,” Sam said.

“Uhhh, they can already see some, remember?” Yvonne said. “The camera.”

“Yeah, we use that camera to show ourselves when we haven’t had any action for a while. They used to send people here automatically after each group disappeared. Love to know what they’re thinking. Maybe they think it’s ghosts or demons killing their folks.”

“They aren’t gonna like that pig blood situation in there,” Sam said. “But still, you guys could get caught with your pants down in this place.”

“Don’t be so sure,” Sid said. “You can take horses back into these canyons and be very hard to catch, and there’s entrances to that kind of country in almost every direction from this park.”

“Yep, this place is perfect for what we’re doing,” Garrett said. “We’d be in trouble if they had choppers, but since this is so close to San Diego, they don’t dare.”

“We’ve got a large motor home and several vehicles. Fourteen people, plus another four not too far away,” Yvonne said. “Any suggestions for a safe haven in town?”

“Go to the old Williams place,” Garrett said. “There’s a big house plus a setup for more than one RV. There’s another coach there too.”

“Think that crotchety old man will give us the time of day?” Sid asked.

Garrett got a grim look on his face.

“Uh oh, what happened?” Sid asked.

“He was one of the first casualties after the UN and their heathen friends rolled into town. They tried to take his land over as a base. He fought them. Lost, of course. They wiped out his whole family and several friends.”

“Dammit,” Sid said. “Sorry for the disrespect.”

“Not a problem, he was a crotchety old man. None of us liked him much. You really only got eighteen people?”

“Yeah,” Sid said. “Had quite a few more just hours ago. We were fighting with the Barona Tribe. Most of them got killed in the last battle, along with some townspeople from Julian and Wynola. Long story. We’ll tell you about it over some whiskey sometime.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Garrett said.

Sam’s phone buzzed. “Crap, they’re wondering what we’re doing,” he said, pulling his phone out of his pocket. “Ji-Ho. Sorry. We’re okay, but we can’t come here. I’ll get the ammo and we’ll be back soon. We have a place to go.”

Sam put his phone away.

“They pissed?” Sid asked.

“No, just worried,” Sam said. “We best be going. The William’s place is on Dutchman Canyon Road, right?”

“Yep, you can’t miss it,” Garrett said.

“Where’s the ammo?” Sid asked.

“Back end of the park,” Sam said.

“Perfect, that’s where we parked the Jeep,” Yvonne said.

To be continued…

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 6 – Citizen Vengeance – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

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Bug Out! Texas has just been published in the Kindle Store! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!

 

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The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”

 

 

Copyright Robert Boren 2016

Bugout! California Part 66 – Ammo Run

IMG_3399

Gil parked the blue coach in the cow pasture, between the red coach and the gray coach.

“Why here?” Tisha asked. “There’s more room over there.”

“My friends are in the coaches on either side,” Gil said. “C’mon.”

They went out the door, into the cool darkness. Robbie and Morgan were there to greet them, Justin and Katie following a moment later.

“You made it!” Robbie said. “Any problems on the road?”

“Not a one,” Gil said. “You remember Tisha, right?”

“Of course,” Robbie said. Morgan smiled at her.

“Hey, brother,” Justin said.

‘Hi, Gil,” Katie said. “Hi, Tisha.”

“Hi yourself,” Tisha said, smiling, getting closer to Gil.

“Who’s still out there?” Gil asked.

“Only Tex’s coach and Ted’s coach,” Robbie said.

“Should we be worried?” Tisha asked.

“Tex’s coach was last to leave,” Justin said. “Ted should’ve been here by now, though. Something might have happened. I saw Jules and Sparky running into their rig a little while ago.”

‘If it were bad, we’d know about it already,” Morgan said.

“Probably,” Robbie said. “Might have just been a call from Ivan.”

“Hope so,” Tisha said. “We’re still in danger.”

“I know,” Morgan said. “I’m scared all the time. If they get us back, we won’t live long.”

“They aren’t going to get you back,” Robbie said.

“Look, here comes another coach. Can’t see the color yet.”

“It’s yellow,” Robbie said. “That’s Tex’s coach.”

It parked a few spaces away from them, and the door burst open. Alexis ran down the steps, stopping in front of the group, looking around, trying to get her bearings. She was trembling.

“Alexis, what’s wrong?” Morgan called out.

“She’s gone,” Alexis said. She ran out into the pasture, towards a stand of trees on the far border.

“Dammit,” Morgan said, getting up. She ran, trying to catch Alexis. Katie got up.

“I’ll go,” Justin said.

“Stay here,” Katie said as she took off.

Tex came out slowly, Karen by her side.

“My God, what happened?” Robbie asked.

Tex shook his head in despair. “Where’s Jules and Sparky?”

“I think they’re in their coach,” Justin said, pointing to it.

“Thanks,” Tex said. He rushed over, Karen staying by his side, glancing back at Gil with a hurt expression.

“She still wants you,” Tisha said.

“No, that’s not what that look is,” Gil said. “Something really bad happened.”

“Let’s go look in their rig,” Gil said.

“I’m not getting out of sight of our women,” Robbie said. “If they go much further, I’m going after them.”

“Me too,” Justin said.

“We’ll go,” Tisha said. “C’mon, Gil.”

Gil nodded and they trotted over to it.

“Good, Alexis stopped,” Robbie said, watching as the three women embraced in the middle of the pasture. A blood-curdling scream came from Tex’s rig.

“Uh oh,” Robbie said.

Tisha raced out of Tex’s coach, Gil following her, pulling her to a stop and taking her into his arms.

“Shit, I’ll bet somebody’s dead in there,” Justin said. “Who else was in that coach?”

Robbie took out his phone and went to the notes.

“You’ve got all of the coaches cataloged, don’t you?” Justin asked, shaking his head.

“This whole thing will make a good book,” Robbie said. “Lily. Dammit. Morgan said she was right on the edge. Said they were hardest on her at the jail.”

Gil and Tisha walked over, Gil’s arm around her shoulder.

“Lily?” Robbie asked.

Gil shook his head yes, grim look on his face.

Tex came out of the black coach with Jules and Sparky, Karen still by Tex’s side, as if she was afraid to be more than inches away from him. Dana and Shelly followed, both crying. They went into Tex’s coach as Alexis came back, Morgan and Katie with her.

“I’m so sorry,” Gil said.

“Me too,” Tisha said. “That must have been horrible.”

“I should’ve known better than to leave her there,” Alexis said, tears running down her cheeks.

“Don’t blame yourself,” Morgan said. “You knew she was having problems. You knew that she wasn’t well.”

“Tex is taking this as hard as I am,” Alexis said, looking down. “Lily wasn’t the only thing. I had this fantasy that my family was still alive. Tex and Karen convinced me that they’re not.”

“What do you mean?” Robbie asked.

Alexis started to talk, but burst into tears.

“Don’t worry about it now,” Morgan said.

“No, I need to talk about it,” Alexis said. “My dad was in Camarillo when the Ventura bomb went off.”

“Oh,” Robbie said. “I’m so sorry.”

“What about your mom and sister?” Katie asked.

“They were in Moorpark. Most of the people died from fallout there.”

“There’s a chance they might have survived,” Robbie said. “If they got out quick enough.”

“My mom’s too clueless for that,” Alexis said. “She was waiting for my dad to come home the last time I talked with her. I started looking on the internet on the way down here. People in Moorpark were told that everybody in Camarillo died. She would’ve heard it by the time I talked to her. It was two days after the bomb went off.”

“So you’re going to stay with us, then?” Morgan asked.

Alexis shook her head yes.

“I’m glad,” Morgan said.

“Me too,” Katie said.

“I wish I would’ve realized it earlier,” Alexis said. “I would’ve tried for Tex.”

“Tex?” Tisha asked.

“He’s going all out trying to win Karen over. They fought for the first half of the trip.”

“About what?” Gil asked.

“You, mostly,” Alexis said.

“Dammit,” Tisha said.

“Trust me, you have nothing to worry about, if you’re really interested in Gil,” Alexis said. “And Tex is just on fire for Karen. He’s gonna win her over. It’s already happening.”

Tisha was quiet for a moment, thinking. “I knew she wanted him, but I did too. I made my play fast, so I could cut her off at the pass. I’m such a bitch.”

“No you’re not,” Gil said, “but you’ll have to trust me. I’m not interested in Karen. I’ll always be nice to her, because of her dad, but like I told you in the coach, I never was interested in her.”

Robbie and Justin shot each other a glance and a knowing smile.

“What?” Gil asked. “Oh, never mind. I don’t care.”

“I do,” Tisha said. “What?”

Robbie chuckled. “You are exactly one hundred percent Gil’s type of woman. I caught his reaction when he saw you.”

“Yeah, seriously,” Justin said.

“Okay, guys, don’t? Okay?” Gil asked.

“Tex said the same thing,” Alexis said. “That’s what got Karen upset at first. Then he went on to explain to her why she was more suited to him. It was actually entertaining, because they didn’t know we were listening. Got a laugh out of Lily. Maybe her last…oh God.” She broke down crying again. Morgan and Katie both held her, Tisha leaving Gil’s side to join them. The men looked on helplessly.

“I should go see if Tex needs help,” Alexis said. “I need to apologize to him and Karen too. I tried to leave the coach in the last town. They had to force me to stay. If they didn’t, I’d be in real trouble now.”

The group watched as she hurried back to Tex’s coach.

“Wonder what’s taking Ted so long?” Robbie asked. “He left pretty early in the lineup. He should’ve been here by now.”

“Who’s with him?” Morgan asked.

Robbie looked at his phone again. “Green coach. Haley, Stacey, and Brianna.”

“Here comes an ambulance,” Katie said, pointing. “They’re heading for Tex’s coach.”

“They’re going to take the body away,” Morgan said. “I don’t know how to contact her brother.”

“Me neither,” Katie said. “She never told me her last name.”

“She told me,” Tisha said. “Smith. Not going to be much help.”

“Geez,” Gil said. “Hey, here comes another coach.”

“It’s Ted’s coach,” Robbie said. “Finally.” He ran out to meet them.

“He just loves that guy, doesn’t he?” Katie asked.

“Yeah,” Morgan said. “Kinda like I feel about Sparky.”

Robbie watched as the door of the coach opened.

“Hey, Robbie,” Stacey said as he came down the steps, followed by Brianna.

“I was worried about you guys,” Robbie said. “What took so long?”

“Remember those two guys who used to show up at the restaurant every once in a while? The guys that he never charged for drinks?”

“Not sure I know who you mean,” Robbie said.

“George and Malcolm,” Stacey said.

“Oh, crap, those two scare me. Especially Malcolm.”

“I liked him,” Brianna said.

“Me too,” Stacey said. “I’m more scared of George.”

“They aren’t joining us, are they?” Robbie asked.

Ted came down the steps. “No, son, they aren’t joining us.”

“What, then?” Robbie asked.

“They’re heading to Kansas. Needed me to vouch for them with the National Guard unit up on the Nevada/California border. They’re going through on I-80.”

“Kansas?” Robbie asked.

Haley came down the steps and stood next to Ted, then noticed the ambulance. “Oh no, what’s with the paramedics?”

“Lily. She killed herself on the way here.”

“Oh no,” Brianna said, starting to cry. Haley hugged Ted and sobbed. Stacey and Robbie looked at each other, not knowing what to do.

“We’ll talk about this later, boss,” Robbie said. “I’m so glad to see you.”

Jules and Sparky came out of the coach, Tex and Karen following in a moment, Alexis behind them. The paramedics carried out Lily’s bagged body and loaded it into the ambulance. Jules saw Ted’s rig and trotted over, Sparky and Ted right on his tail.

“Hey, what the hell?” Jules asked. “Where you?”

“Sorry, Jules,” Ted said. “I had to help some friends on the way.”

“Who?” Tex asked.

“George and Malcolm,” he said.

Tex’s eyes lit up. “They gonna join us?”

“No, they’re on their way to Kansas,” Ted said. “I helped them get a pass to travel over I-80.”

“You didn’t tell him, I hope,” Sparky asked.

“Nope,” Ted said. “It was hard not to, especially when he started asking about Ji-Ho.”

“What are you talking about?” Robbie asked.

“Ancient history, kid,” Sparky said. “Saladin damn near killed George, and that incident led to a really bad bout of PTSD. If he knew that’s who we were fighting here, he would’ve stuck around and risked his neck to kill him.”

“Let’s talk,” Jules said. “High level meeting. Main house. Let others on team relax for night.”

“You want me there?” Robbie asked.

“No, you’ll need to sit this one out,” Ted said. “You okay with that?”

“Of course,” Robbie said. “I’m so glad you’re okay.” He turned and left, Stacey, Brianna, and Haley following him.

“That kid loves you,” Sparky said.

“The feeling is mutual,” Ted said. “That’s why I want to make sure he doesn’t become part of Ivan’s organization when this is over.”

“Understand,” Jules said. “I remember agreement. I not break.”

“Okay, gentlemen, let’s go.”

They walked towards the big house.

***

Trevor was driving Ji-Ho’s rig. Tyler was sitting in the passenger seat, sleeping. Kaylee came up to the front.

‘How you holding up?” she asked.

“I’m okay,” Trevor said. “Your uncle okay?”

“He fell asleep. I’d never seen him cry before. I feel so horrible.”

“Me too,” Trevor said.

“The others still behind us?”

“Yeah. That’s Sid and Yvonne up in front of us. James, Zac, and Ryan are behind us, Kenny and Bradley in the last one. I can’t believe that’s all that survived.”

“John and Sarah are asleep now too, but Sam’s been awake the whole time, sitting in the dinette,” Kaylee said. “Hear anything else from Seth or Angel?”

“No. They’ve got their phones off now. Me too.”

“Oh yeah. Duh. Mine’s off too. How much further?”

“To Dulzura? On the roads we’ve got to deal with, another twenty minutes. Those guys ruined the road from the back side. We have to go in from the west, on Highway 94.”

“You think this is safe what we’re doing?” Kaylee asked.

“Not really,” Trevor said. “We’re in trouble. Real trouble. We need more ammo for this thing.”

“It’s bullet proof, though, right?”

“Yeah, but if we can’t fight back, all they have to do is stuff some explosives underneath us and we’re toast,” Trevor said. “Wish we could trust Ji-Ho’s warehouse. He told me he has more ammo there.”

“You really think the enemy knows about that location?” Kaylee asked. “We know they’re aware of this one.”

“The enemy captured Matt and Emma, plus Gus and his whole team. They all knew where that place was. You know the enemy got it out of at least one of them.”

“Crap,” Kaylee said. “This sucks.”

“Understatement of the year.” Trevor looked at her and smiled. “At least I’ve still got you.”

“Yes, you do,” she said, putting her hand on his shoulder. “Getting tired of driving?”

“Nope,” he said.

“Hey,” Tyler said, waking up. “You can sit here. Does the coffee maker work while we’re driving?”

“It will if I turn on the generator. That sounds good.” Trevor hit the generator button and it started. “There you go.”

“Sit down next to your man,” Tyler said. “I’m gonna pick Sam’s brain for a while in the dinette. You guys want coffee?”

“The chief doesn’t have to make coffee,” Kaylee said softly. “I can do it.”

“I’m the chief of nothing now,” Tyler said, on the verge of tears.

“There’s still the other place,” Trevor said.

“If that isn’t already destroyed, I’ll be shocked,” Tyler said. “Nothing I can do about it now. Maybe when we get this thing re-loaded.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Trevor said.

Tyler went to the kitchen counter and took the coffee maker out of the lower cupboard. Kaylee sat in the front passenger seat.

“Sorry about your motor home,” Kaylee said.

“That’s the least of my worries,” Trevor said. “You can replace stuff. Not people.”

“I know,” Kaylee said. “I heard John and Sarah talking. There’s probably more RVs at this park in Dulzura. Maybe we can take one.”

“The enemy might have torched them all,” Trevor said. “Might have taken a bunch of them too.”

“Look, Sid has his right blinker on. I think he wants to pull over.”

“Good,” Trevor said. “I don’t want to just drive into this place.” He put on his right blinker and started to slow down.

Tyler came over with a cup of coffee for both of them. You guys like it black?”

“Yep,” Trevor said.

“Me too,” Kaylee said.

“Sid wants to talk, huh? Leave the generator on. I’ll bet everybody could use some coffee.”

“There’s a big turnoff,” Trevor said. “Perfect.” He turned off the road and parked, watching the other two Jeeps park behind him. Kaylee got the door. Sid and Yvonne were already there.

“You guys want coffee?” Kaylee asked.

“Oh, hell yes,” Yvonne said as she climbed up, Sid following.

John and Sarah were sitting up on the couch now. “What’s up?” John asked.

“We need to chat,” Sid said. James, Zac, Ryan, Kenny, and Bradley came inside.

“How far are we?” James asked.

“Fifteen minutes, give or take,” Sid said.

Ji-Ho came out of the bedroom, yawning. “We stop?”

“To talk,” Kaylee said.

“That coffee I smell?” Bradley asked.

“Yep,” Tyler said, brewing cups and handing them out.

“Good,” Ji-Ho said. “No bad guys on road?”

“Nope,” Trevor said. “Nobody’s on road at all except us.”

“All right,” Sid said. “We don’t want to stay here long, so I’ll get to the point. I want to drive into the place with the Jeep and check things out, just in case. The enemy knows about this place.”

“When we get in we can mine road,” Ji-Ho said. “We got. In storage compartment. Claymore mines and vehicle mines.”

“There a back way out of this place?” Tyler asked.

“For four-wheel drive vehicles, yes,” Sid said. “Not for RVs. Not a chance.”

“What are we gonna do there?” James asked. “Why bother, if the enemy knows about this place?”

“I’ve got a lot of ammo stored there,” Sam said, getting out from behind the dinette table. “No fifty cal, I’m afraid, but I’ve got more ammo for the M60s and the forward and rear machine guns on the rig.”

“Wouldn’t the enemy have found them?” James asked.

Sam chuckled. “Not where I hid them. Remember this is California.”

Ji-Ho laughed. “Yes, you right about that.”

“There’s motor homes and trailers there too, right?” Tyler asked.

“There might be,” Sam said. “Depends on what the enemy did before they left. They might have taken them or burned them.”

“We’re liable to see some nasty things there,” Sarah said. “Body parts and such.”

“You don’t think the authorities would have cleaned that up by now?” Kaylee asked.

“Hard to say,” Sam said. “The enemy killed most of the local police. Since there isn’t much out here, who knows what’s happened since then. Maybe nobody took over for them, or maybe we’ve even got squatters living in the park now.”

“What a wonderful thought,” Sarah said.

“Okay, I think you guys ought to stay right here,” Sid said. “I’ll go check it out. Ji-Ho, you still got those walkie-talkies?”

“Yes,” Ji-Ho said. “All charged up.”

“Good, give me one of those and keep the other one on. If it looks good, I’ll call you.”

“I’m going with you,” Sam said.

“I’m going too,” Yvonne said.

“No problem,” Sid said. “Let’s go. You guys keep your eyes open.”

“Okay,” Ji-Ho said. “We do.”

“Maybe we should go too,” James said.

“No,” Tyler said. “If any of our tribe survived in the alternate location, they’ll need every one of us.”

“I agree,” Sid said. “See you soon.” He held the door open for Yvonne and Sam, taking the walkie-talkie out of Ji-Ho’s hand on the way out the door.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Kaylee said.

“About us or them?” Sarah asked.

“Both,” Kaylee said. “Don’t worry, I’m not psychic or anything like that. It’s just nerves.”

James laughed. “Yeah, that’s what Kaitlyn’s good for. She’s got good intuition.”

Kaylee giggled. “I don’t know about that, but she’s a good judge of character. She’s got herself a really good man.”

They watched out the windshield as the Jeep took off down the highway.

To be continued…

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 6 – Citizen Vengeance – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Check out “The Plan” – it’s the story of how the Bugout War started.

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 5 – Wave of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Horror Road Book 4 – the latest in the series is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 4 – Texas Battle Cry is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 3 – Republic in Peril is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 2 – The New Republic is now available in the Kindle Store. Pick up your copy of this exciting thriller today!

 

Bug Out! Texas has just been published in the Kindle Store! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!

 

Please visit and like my author page on Facebook!

 

Here’s the series that started it all! Bug Out! Pick up your copy of book 1 for just 99 cents in the Kindle Store!

 

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Available now in the Kindle Store

 

The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”

 

 

Copyright Robert Boren 2016

Bugout! California Part 65 – Spotlight in the Dark

IMG_1469

The tires of the Jeep crunched down the loose dirt of the road, headlights piercing the darkness.

“I’m cold,” Kaitlyn said, folding her arms against herself.

Seth reached forward and turned on the heat. “There, it’ll get better in a few minutes.”

“How far back are we going?”

“A little further yet,” Seth said. “You okay? You haven’t said much for a while.”

“I was thinking about what you said,” she said, looking over at him.

“I’m sorry,” Seth said. “I shouldn’t have said anything. Not now.”

She stared at him for a long moment, then sighed.

“What?” Seth asked.

“I’m in love with you,” she said.

Seth glanced at her for a little too long, starting to lose the road. He quickly righted the Jeep, staring out the windshield.

“You don’t have to say that,” Seth said. “I’m not going to leave you.”

She chuckled. “You think I’m just wanting to hitch my wagon to you for protection? Because of what happened tonight? You think that’s all this is? In case you didn’t notice, I can take care of myself pretty well.”

Seth glanced at her, then back at the road. “I noticed.”

“Okay, good. My cards are going on the table now. Wasn’t going there this early, but circumstances being what they are, it’s time. Think you can handle that?”

He glanced at her again, then nodded yes.

She chuckled again. “Why the fear in your eyes? You’re afraid this isn’t real between us, aren’t you?”

Seth looked totally flustered. “No, I…”

“I was very attracted to you right from the start,” Kaitlyn said, interrupting him. “I found myself liking you more and more as we talked. That rarely happens.”

“Me too,” he said, “but you already knew that.”

“I could tell,” she said. “I love the way the sparks fly between us. It won’t always be that way. That part fades over time. When it does, I’m usually done.”

“That doesn’t sound very good.”

“You heard what I said about talking with you,” she said. “About liking you more and more. About how that doesn’t usually happen.”

“Friends are like that,” Seth said. “That’s how friendships develop.”

“Once the passion of early attraction fades, there has to be something else there. Lust isn’t enough. With us, I think there is something there. We like to be with each other. I find it overpowering, maybe even a little scary. When I’m not with you, I’m thinking about you.”

“We’ve already talked about this,” Seth said. “Remember? When you were pressuring me?”

She smiled at him. “Yes, I was testing you a little bit. I didn’t want to lay my cards on the table then. Remember?”

“Ah, but you did,” Seth said. “When we were talking about kids.”

She stared at him silently for a moment. “You figured out what I was trying to hide. It’s kinda funny when you think about it.”

“Funny how?”

“You turned the tables on me in that conversation. You tricked me into saying the exact thing that I didn’t want you to know yet. I thought I was a lot stronger than you. I’m not. We’re pretty equal.”

“Equal?”

“In strength,” she said. “I need that. I won’t give my whole self to a weak man.”

He looked at her silently for a moment, a warm feeling flowing over him.

“There’s that look,” she said. “Geez, you want me so bad. Nobody looks at me like that.” She looked down at her feet.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m scared of myself,” she said. “That’s what you touched off in that last conversation.”

“We need to pull over pretty soon. We should pause this conversation for a few minutes.”

“Okay,” she said. “I’m talking myself into a corner anyway.”

“I know what you’re thinking.”

“I know, but I have to say it out loud, and so do you. We both need to know that it’s real.”

He nodded and pulled to the side of the road, in a spot wide enough to turn around. “This will do.”

“Here they come,” Kaitlyn said. “On my side. Let’s just open the window and talk. It’s too cold to get out.”

“I need to get out for another reason.”

She giggled. “Oh. You men can’t hold it as long.”

“True. Roll down your window. We’ll talk first.”

She reached to the dash and hit the button. Seth turned up the heater a little bit.

“How are you two holding up?” Kaitlyn asked.

“Okay,” Angel said.

“I’m starting to calm down, finally,” Megan said. “We going to stay here tonight?”

“No,” Seth said. “It’s too cold here. We need to get to a motel or something.”

“Yeah, dude,” Angel said. “If we just stay on Highway 79, it curves around towards San Diego. It’s the back-way in.”

“You aren’t suggesting we try to get into San Diego tonight, are you?” Kaitlyn asked.

“No way,” Angel said.

“Yeah, I’m way too tired for that,” Megan said.

“They’d keep us up half the night doing interrogations before they’d let us in,” Seth said. “You have someplace in mind, don’t you, Angel?”

“Yeah, my cousin lived in a place called Jamul. Nice little town. There’s motels there.”

“Lots of tribal folks around there, you know,” Kaitlyn said.

“Is that a problem?” Seth asked.

“Some of them don’t like white boys with Indian girls,” Megan said. She snickered.

“Yeah, dude, you are pretty white,” Angel said.

“Funny ha ha,” Seth said. “James and Tyler and the others didn’t mind.”

“They know you’re trustworthy,” Kaitlyn said. “They know you’re a warrior. They respect you.”

“Hey, dude, don’t worry about it,” Angel said. “You just stay in the car, I’ll get the rooms.”

Kaitlyn giggled. “Yeah, that’s the least of our problems. Let’s go. How long will it take?”

“Well, if you guys wouldn’t have led us so far into the wilderness here, it would take less time,” Megan said.

“Sorry,” Kaitlyn said. “We were talking. We kinda lost ourselves.”

“A lot of that going around,” Angel said.

“Shut up,” Megan said.

Kaitlyn looked at Seth’s phone, which was still in her hand. She input the pin number.

“Hey, that’s not yours,” Megan said. “You don’t have an iPhone.

“It’s Seth’s.”

“And he gave you the pin? That man is in love.”

“Shut up,” Kaitlyn said. “What was that town we passed before we crossed under I-8?”

“Descanso,” Seth said.

“Thanks,” Kaitlyn said, moving her fingers on the screen. “Perfect. It’s just over a half hour from there.”

“Thank God,” Megan said. “Let’s go.”

“I got to pee,” Angel said.

“Great minds think alike, man,” Seth said. Angel nodded and pulled up in front of Seth so he could get his door open. He joined Seth, and they walked out of sight for a moment. Kaitlyn and Megan got out.

“Crap, it’s cold out here,” Megan said.

“Seriously,” Kaitlyn said. “Think we should try?”

“Oh, I guess,” she said. “I don’t want to get out of sight of the Jeeps.”

“What if the guys see?” Kaitlyn asked.

“I don’t care, and besides, they wouldn’t see much. It’s dark out here.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Kaitlyn said. “I’m just going behind our Jeep.”

“Okay,” Megan said, following her. They were done in a moment, and walked back to the cars.

“They’re talking,” Kaitlyn said. “They’re usually fast.”

“What kept you guys on this road so long?”

“Oh, you know,” Kaitlyn said.

“Angel wants to disappear and take me with him,” Megan whispered. “I like the idea. Is that bad?”

Kaitlyn nodded, brow furrowed.

“Crap, Seth too?”

Kaitlyn nodded yes, on the verge of tears.

“What do you think about that idea?” Megan asked. “Could you leave the fight? Leave our people?”

Kaitlyn started to cry.

“Oh, honey, I’m sorry,” Megan said. “Do you not want it, or does he not really want it?”

“I’m not crying about him,” Kaitlyn said. “We might not have a tribe to go back to.”

“Angel thinks that James, Tyler, Zac, and some of the others escaped. You heard what Trevor was saying on the call.”

“I’m afraid the enemy knows about the other location,” Kaitlyn said.

“That thought has crossed my mind more than once,” Megan said. “What about us? What about you two? Seth isn’t feeling trapped, is he?”

Kaitlyn chuckled through her tears. “I was trying to lay my cards on the table before we stopped. It was an intense conversation. That’s why we kept going on this stupid road.”

“Well?”

“We’ll talk more on the way to Jamul,” she said. “I literally can’t wait to get back into that conversation.”

“I’ve never seen you like this,” Megan said.

Kaitlyn wiped the tears from her eyes. “Just the thought of him makes me feel better.”

“I know that feeling,” Megan said.

“Here they come.”

“Good,” Megan said. “You didn’t tell me what you thought. About leaving the tribe.”

“I’m going to be with this man for the rest of my life,” she whispered. “I just hope that our lives are more than a few hours.”

“You two ready to go?” Angel asked.

“Took you a while,” Megan said.

“Sorry,” Seth said. “Didn’t think you guys were getting out of the car.”

“We decided to do the same thing you were doing,” Kaitlyn said. “Let’s go.”

“Yeah,” Megan said. “I’m cold. I want to get back in the car.”

“Why don’t you take the lead, Angel?” Seth said. “You know this town, right?”

“Been a few years, but yeah,” Angel said.

The two couples got back in their Jeeps.

“Now, where were we?” Kaitlyn asked, as Seth did a K-turn and followed Angel back down the dirt road.

“Sure you want to get back into that conversation?”

“Yes,” Kaitlyn said. “Do you mind?”

“No, it’s cool. Go ahead. You were saying that you were afraid of yourself, and that we had to say some things out loud to make it real.”

“Wow, do you have a tape recorder in your brain?” she asked.

“You looked like you’d been crying when we walked back.”

“I’m afraid the tribe will be wiped out,” Kaitlyn said. “Let’s stay on the subject at hand, though, okay?”

“Aren’t the two topics related?”

She was silent for a moment. “They might end up being, but I’m not letting the purity of this conversation evaporate before we’re done. As important as that issue is, it’s a side issue right now.”

“Okay,” Seth said. “I obviously know what you’re trying to get out, and I understand why it’s hard. As we’ve reminded ourselves over and over, we’ve only just met.”

“That doesn’t bother you, does it?”

“No, I feel like we’ve known each other for a while, because we’ve spent so many hours talking. I laid my cards on the table earlier tonight, or at least I thought I did.”

She smiled at him. “No, I laid out what I thought were your cards, and you just said yes. Then we were done.”

“That’s true.”

“You looked really nervous saying yes,” she said. “You tried to qualify it, remember?”

“No, I didn’t try to qualify it, I was just afraid you weren’t quite ready for that yet,” Seth said.

“Yes, and I told you not to tell me what I’m ready for,” she said.

“You did. The conversation scared you too much, though. That’s why I didn’t pursue it further. We’ve had enough scary stuff happen tonight.”

“You wanted to pursue it further?”

“We’re just talking in circles,” Seth said, looking over at her for a moment.

“Watch the road,” she said softly.

“You’re getting scared again now,” Seth said. “Okay, you say cards on the table. I’ll go first. Here’s what I want. You. Forever. I won’t get tired of you. Ever. I want to settle down with you and make babies, and then I want to watch them grow up. I want to grow old with you by my side.” He paused for a moment, trying to look at her, the road not helping. “Do you understand what I just said?”

She was quiet for a moment, her body starting to shake.

“You’re crying,” Seth said softly. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t tell me you’re sorry,” she said. “I’m an emotional girl, in case you haven’t noticed. You’re going to have to get used to that.”

“I’m already used to it,” Seth said. “Do you understand now?”

She nodded yes, not looking at him.

“You don’t look okay,” he said.

“I’m about to do something that I never thought I’d do.”

Seth looked at her and started to say something, but she shook her head no.

“It’s my turn now,” she said softly. “I am completely, deeply in love with you. I’m willing to follow you anywhere. If you want to get back into the fight, I’m there. If you want to disappear and make babies someplace, that’s okay too.”

“I don’t expect you to just follow me,” Seth said. “Your hopes and dreams are every bit as important as mine are. If your dream is to raise children in your tribe and be part of that community, I’ll be there with you.”

“I know that,” she said. “We don’t have to decide that now. Hell, like I said, I have my doubts that the tribe will survive, and I don’t want to lose our lives trying to get back to them. Not now.” She began to cry again.

“I’d never keep you from your people.”

“I know,” she said, “and I love that about you. Really. I’m willing…no, I want to put everything behind what we have. You and me. If we both decide that getting back into the fight is our best path, that’s what we’ll do, but if we just want to chuck it all and be together, then that’s our path. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Seth said. “So, what now? People who feel this way about each other usually get married.”

“They do,” she said. “How do you feel about that idea?”

“I want it,” Seth said. “Geez, never thought I’d get there. Marriage always scared me. It doesn’t with you.”

She smiled. “I’m not really a traditional girl.”

“You don’t have special Indian wedding ceremonies and all that?” Seth asked.

“Well, yeah, we do, but I’m not willing to wait for that,” she said. “Are you?”

“It wouldn’t be my first choice,” Seth said, “but I’ll do whatever it takes to have you. Except maybe that hanging by the skin thing.”

Kaitlyn laughed. “Wrong tribe. Don’t worry.”

“Good,” Seth said, rubbing his chest. “Didn’t look like fun in the movie.”

“Stop,” she said. “You won’t have problems being married to an Indian?”

“Will you have problems being married to a white boy?”

She thought about it for a moment. “You don’t seem different than me. Maybe two hundred years ago it was different.”

“That’s how I feel,” Seth said. “We both grew up in southern California. That’s the culture we belong to, really, and it’s a total melting pot.”

“That’s for sure,” Kaitlyn said. “I’ve dated white men a couple of times. In college.”

“Well, you’re my first Indian.”

She chuckled. “What will your parents think if you show up with an Indian bride?”

“It’s only my dad now, and he’ll just be glad to know I’m alive.”

“He doesn’t know where you are?”

“No, and I’m not sure where he is. He was in the service. Last I heard he was living in Alabama. We aren’t that close. He and my mom divorced when I was young. My mom passed a few years ago. Cancer.”

“Oh,” she said. ‘I’m so sorry.”

“I miss her. She would’ve liked you.”

“I hope so,” she said. “This is weird. Things are different now. We’re different now.”

“You’re right,” Seth said. “I’m feeling it too. Maybe this is how couples feel when they get engaged.”

“Maybe when they get engaged this quickly,” Kaitlyn said. “We’re not really engaged, though. We just talked about it.”

“Will you marry me?” Seth asked.

“Oh, geez,” she said. “I’m gonna start crying again.”

“Go ahead, but answer me first.”

“Yes. Of course, yes,” she said. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” Seth said. “Wow, I’m trembling.”

“Scared?”

“Excited and happy,” he said. “How do you feel?”

“I feel like pulling over,” she said. “I know, it’s so naughty.”

“Oh, geez, there’s that part too,” he said. “This is so strange. That’s the part that would normally be up front in my mind. It’s just hitting me now.”

“Hitting you how?” She smiled at him.

“We’d better not talk about that right now,” Seth said. “I’m trying to keep this thing on the road.”

Angel slammed on his brakes and turned off his lights.

“Oh no, what’s going on?” Kaitlyn asked.

Seth turned off his lights and stopped behind Angel. His phone dinged. Kaitlyn picked it up and input Seth’s pin.

“Somebody driving an off-roader on the next ridge, shining a spotlight around,” she read off the screen. “Angel thinks he got his lights off in time. Megan saw them when they got around that little hill there.”

“Ten to one they’ve seen us,” Seth said.

“Don’t open your car door,” Kaitlyn said. “The dome light will come on.”

“Yeah, I figured that’s why he sent the text. Can you reach the guns?”

“I think so,” she said, turning. “Yeah, I can reach the M60 and my AK.”

The phone dinged again.

“What’d he say?”

“The vehicle went back behind the ridge. They’re out of sight.”

“Crap, I wish we had a good trail map. There might be a way to get onto this road from that ridge.

“He said the guy has been gone for a few minutes now,” Kaitlyn said. “We can get out if we’re quick about it.”

Seth nodded, watching Megan and Angel slip out of their vehicles. He and Kaitlyn joined them.

“What do you think?” Seth asked. “Think they’re bad guys?”

“Yeah,” Angel said.

“I see the road they came from,” Megan said, showing her phone. “There’s a dirt road that comes off I-8. They’re probably wondering why we haven’t shown up yet.”

“Shit, it might not be safe to get back on Highway 79,” Angel said.

“They might have seen us,” Seth said, “before Megan saw them.”

“I don’t think so,” Megan said. “There’s no way to get on this road from where they are. They’d have to go out to Highway 79 and come in the same way we did. It’s not a short drive. Look.”

“So what do we do?” Kaitlyn asked.

“Think you can drive with no lights on?” Seth asked.

“I don’t know, dude,” Angel said. “Maybe, but what if they’re waiting for us on the highway?”

“We’ll be in more trouble if it’s light,” Kaitlyn said. “I say we drive towards the highway without lights, but get out before that last bend and walk to where we can see.”

“Yeah, and we’re taking the M60s,” Seth said.

“And our AKs,” Kaitlyn said.

To be continued…

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 6 – Citizen Vengeance – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Check out “The Plan” – it’s the story of how the Bugout War started.

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 5 – Wave of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Horror Road Book 4 – the latest in the series is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 4 – Texas Battle Cry is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 3 – Republic in Peril is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 2 – The New Republic is now available in the Kindle Store. Pick up your copy of this exciting thriller today!

 

Bug Out! Texas has just been published in the Kindle Store! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!

 

Please visit and like my author page on Facebook!

 

Here’s the series that started it all! Bug Out! Pick up your copy of book 1 for just 99 cents in the Kindle Store!

 

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Available now in the Kindle Store

 

The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”

 

 

Copyright Robert Boren 2016

Bugout! California Part 64 – Lily and Alexis

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tex was at the wheel of the yellow coach. He’d just gotten a text from Jules about the attack outside of Buttonwillow. He was just heading into that area now. Karen had gotten angry with his advances and left for the bedroom. Alexis and Lily were sitting at the dinette, tired of talking. Lily noticed the text sound, and came up to the front. One look at Tex’s face told her it was something scary.

“Something happened,” she said, sitting down in the passenger seat, her blonde hair shimmering in the dim light.

“Yep, something happened, but don’t worry about it.”

“What’s going on?” asked Alexis as she walked to the front. She moved like a model, tall, lanky, and confident, her longish brunette hair swaying as she crouched.

“He got a text,” Lily said. “Something scary. Look at his face. Look how he’s watching the mirrors.”

Tex chuckled. “I’ve been watching the mirrors since we left. We’re being hunted. You guys know that.”

“What happened?” Alexis asked. “No BS.”

“Jules and Sparky’s rig got attacked from the rear by a vehicle full of Islamists.”

“Where?” Lily asked.

“Coming up in a few miles. Just happened, so we’ll probably see the wreckage.”

“The rear machine guns saved them, I’ll bet,” Alexis said.

“You got it,” Tex said.

“What happened to the ice princess?” Alexis asked. “I could hear her crying in the back.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Tex said. “She’ll be all right.”

“Were you messing with her?” Lily asked.

Tex chuckled. “I told her I was interested in her.”

“That’s why she’s crying?” Alexis asked. “Hell, if I were sticking around I’d go after you.”

“Oh, really?” Tex asked, glancing back at her.

“You’re strong and you’ve got a sense of humor,” Alexis said. “You wouldn’t pick me over Karen, though, would you?”

Tex chuckled. “No comment.”

“He likes a challenge,” Lily said. “He likes her, too. You see his face light up when he’s talking about her?”

“I think she’s a bitch, but to each his own,” Alexis said.

“Oh, she is a bitch,” Tex said. “Make no mistake about that. It just eggs me on even more.”

“Well, from what I can tell, she’s more than a little bit interested,” Alexis said.

“I’ll say,” Lily said. “That other guy is too blue-collar for her. You’re not. You’re rich.”

Tex laughed. “Now where’d you ever get that idea?”

“I come from a rich family,” Lily said. “We know our own. What was it? Cattle or oil?”

“No comment,” Tex said.

“He hangs around with Jules,” Alexis said. “He’s shady as hell. All the more exciting.”

Tex snickered. “I kinda wish you were sticking around.”

“I couldn’t get you away from ice princess. You enjoy the hunt too much. You wouldn’t have to hunt me, unless I faked it, and you’d know, wouldn’t you?”

“Probably,” Tex said. “You are a beautiful woman, though. Both of you are.”

“That was our undoing,” Lily said, eyes tearing up. “They were harder on me than most of the others.”

“They couldn’t get enough of your innocence,” Tex said softly. “I’m so sorry that happened to you.”

“It was more than that,” Lily said. “I’m sorry.” She rushed back to the dinette and buried her face against the wall.

“I shouldn’t have said anything,” Tex said.

Alexis glanced back at her, then at Tex. “It wasn’t what you said.”

“It’s not up to me to say anything. I’ll make apologies to her later.”

“Let it lie, Tex,” Alexis whispered. “She can’t control her emotions. Those bastards loved it. Now she feels like it’s all her fault. I’m really worried about her. I think she’s suicidal.”

“Oh, God,” Tex said, eyes welling with tears. Alexis noticed.

“Karen’s a lucky woman. Hope she doesn’t blow it.”

“Don’t say anything,” Tex said. “Please?”

“I won’t,” Alexis said. “Here comes your woman. I’ll go sit with Lily.”

Tex nodded, glancing back as she left. Karen sat in the passenger seat. “It’s warm. You making a play for Alexis, or Lily?”

Tex looked at her, then back at the road. “Get any sleep?”

“Screw you,” she said. “Which one?”

“We got a text a few minutes ago. Jules and Sparky got attacked on the road.”

“Oh, crap,” Karen said. “Where?”

“Coming up in about half a mile,” Tex said. Karen flashed him a terrified look. “Don’t worry, they won. We’ll see the wreckage in a few minutes.”

“What if there’s more enemy fighters there, and they see us?” Karen asked.

“We’ll have more dead enemy fighters,” Tex said. “Don’t worry about it. Remember how to work the rear guns?”

“The tray, right there,” she said, pointing to the dash in front of her.

“That’s right, little lady,” Tex said. “I doubt we’ll have to use it, but it’s there if we need it.”

“Pew, smells like burning rubber,” Karen said, looking forward into the darkness. There were lights on the side of the road. “Highway Patrol, look.”

A burned out vehicle sat upside down on the side of the road, officers picking through it.

“That doesn’t look like a UN van,” Karen said, staring out the window at it as they flew by.

“It wasn’t the UN, according to Sparky. It was Islamists.”

“Dammit,” Karen said. “They’re even more dangerous, aren’t they?”

“Only in their own minds,” Tex said.

“Shoot, this means the Islamists are working with the UN.”

Tex laughed. “We’ve known that for a while now.”

“I don’t understand,” Karen said.

“Maybe we shouldn’t talk about it now. Why were you crying back there?”

“Stop,” she said. “That’s none of your business, and I’m not getting into another one of your seduction conversations. Forget it.”

“Seduction conversations?” Tex asked, glancing at her.

“That’s what I said. I know your game. It’s not going to work.”

“Okay,” Tex said, not looking at her, eyes glued to the road.

“Something wrong up there?”

“No, just trying not to bother you,” Tex said. “It’s not easy.”

“What’s not easy?”

“Not looking at you,” he said.

“I said enough with the seduction routine.”

“I’m not doing that,” Tex said.

Lily cried while trying to talk to Alexis.

“What’s wrong with Lily?”

“Good, you realize I wasn’t messing with her.”

“I didn’t say that,” Karen said. “What’s wrong?”

“She feels guilty about what happened at the jail,” Tex whispered.

“Oh,” Karen said. “She got used more than the other girls. A couple of those thugs were talking about her when they took me down the hall. One of them said he wanted to keep her.”

“I hope none of the girls bothered her about it,” Tex whispered.

“Are you kidding? We only cared about how badly we were getting abused. Still, we did wonder about it. Some of us, anyway.”

“You haven’t known people with mental illness before, have you?”

“No, not really,” Karen said. “Why?”

“She can’t control her emotions,” Tex whispered.

“So what, she screamed and carried on more, and that’s what the thugs liked about her?”

Tex shot her a sharp glance. “Quiet.”

“Sorry,” she whispered, “but I don’t get it. I don’t see the attraction in that, even with these thugs.”

Tex stared at her for a moment, then shook his head no.

“Then wha…oh God, she was responding, wasn’t she?”

Tex looked at her again, eyes welling with tears.

“Why are you crying?” she whispered.

He looked back at the road, trying to compose himself.

“What is she to you?” Karen whispered.

“A young woman,” Tex muttered under his breath, grinding his teeth as he started to get angry.

“Oh,” she said, looking out the window. She was silent for a long while, as the dark highway flew by them. Highway 58 was deserted, but Tex continued looking in the rear-view mirrors every couple of minutes, the stress and lack of sleep getting to him.

“Hey,” Alexis said, walking up. “How much further until we get to Paso Robles?”

“You want to sit?” Karen asked. “I’ll go back there.”

“No, that’s your spot,” Alexis said, flashing her a disgusted look. “How long?”

“We’re just about to McKittrick,” Tex said. “We’ll take Highway 33 from there. Should be roughly an hour to Paso after that.”

“Good,” Alexis said. “Mind if I take Lily in the back and try to get her to sleep?”

“Sure, be my guest,” Tex said.

“I know where the blankets are,” Karen said, getting up. “I’ll show you. The bed isn’t made yet. It’s just a mattress covered with a bedspread.”

“Thanks,” Alexis said. She followed Karen into the bedroom.

“So, what was with the look?” Karen asked after she slid the door shut.

“Nothing,” Alexis said. “Maybe envy.”

“Envy?”

“You’ve got one of the best men in this outfit wrapped around your little finger, and you have no idea,” Alexis whispered. “If I were sticking around, I’d be your competition.”

Karen silently took the blankets out of the closet by the end of the bed and set them down. “Here. She gonna be okay?”

“I hope so,” Alexis said. “She’ll need years of therapy to get past this.”

“I didn’t understand,” Karen said.

“Tex told you?”

Karen sighed. “He didn’t come right out and say it, but he got his point across. He’s mad at me, I think.”

“He’ll get over it,” Alexis said. “Sorry about my reaction.”

“He was crying about it up there,” Karen said. “Don’t tell him I told you.”

“I know, that really bothered him when I made him understand,” Alexis said. “He’s got a good heart, and he’s protective of women to a fault. Don’t mistake that for him not being faithful.”

“I doubt if we’ll be together. Pretty sure I blew it with him. I always do that.”

“No, you didn’t,” Alexis said as she spread the blankets out. “He’s a big boy. Don’t give up on him so easily.” She paused. “Sorry, it’s none of my business. I should shut up.”

“No, I’m sorry. I can be such a bitch.”

“We all have that problem, honey,” Alexis said. “I’m going to miss being with this group. Wish I could stay.”

“Me too,” Karen said. “Want help with Lily?”

“No, I can handle it,” Alexis said. “Go back up front. He’s having a hard time with this. You can help with that. He’s not as strong emotionally as he puts on.”

“Thank you,” Karen said. She opened the sliding door and went back to the front.

“She okay?” Tex asked, glancing at her.

“No, but Alexis will help.”

“Good,” Tex said.

“I’m sorry,” Karen said, looking at him. “I didn’t know. Really.”

“You don’t have anything to be sorry about,” he said. “You’ve all been through hell. It wasn’t just Lily.”

“And you want to ride to the rescue of all of us, don’t you?”

Tex focused back out the windshield, not knowing what to say.

“I didn’t say that to give you a hard time,” Karen said softly. “It’s actually the ultimate compliment. Please take it that way.”

“I don’t know how you women did it,” Tex said.

“What?”

“Survive like you did,” Tex said. “I probably wouldn’t have. I just can’t imagine what it was like.”

Karen was silent for a moment.

“Are you going to be okay?” Tex asked.

She looked at him, seeing the compassion. “I don’t know. I think so, but stuff like this can lay dormant and then whack you good later.”

“Do you think about it all the time?”

“No,” she said. “I push it back, but it pops into my head. It’s only been a couple days. Hopefully as time goes on it’ll get better.”

“You’re strong,” Tex said. “Lily’s not. I’m really worried about her.”

“I know, I can tell. Sorry I was such a stupid bitch.”

“Stop,” Tex said. His phone dinged. “Text message.”

“Uh oh,” Karen said, watching him pull his phone out of his pocket. “Bad?”

“No, good,” Tex said. “Jules and Sparky made it to the ranch.”

“Good,” Karen said. The phone dinged again. He looked. “Yes. Morgan and Robbie just pulled in too.”

“You know her better than the rest of us, don’t you?”

Tex smiled. “You know, I’ve only known her for a little while longer than the rest of you. Seems like we go way back. Strange how times like these register in your brain.”

“How do you know her?”

“She was working for Sparky at the card club in Gardena,” Tex said. “I was in town when all of this garbage started. I’ve known Sparky for years.”

“How did you know him?”

Tex chuckled. “You don’t want to know.”

“Maybe I do.”

“Let’s just say we’ve done more than one nasty operation together,” Tex said. “With Ted, and George.”

“Who’s George?”

“He’s not with us,” Tex said, “but since Saladin is involved, you can bet he’s in the middle of it. Probably with that crazy partner of his.”

“Crazy partner? You guys all seem pretty crazy to me. Especially Jules.”

“Ever heard of Malcom Davis?” Tex asked.

“Oh, crap,” Karen said, eyes wide. “You’re connected to him?

“I don’t know him very well, but George is like a brother. Wish he was with us now.”

Tex’s phone dinged again.

“Why don’t you let me hold that?” Karen asked.

“Sure,” he said, handing it over. “Pin is 4487.”

“Okay,” she said, unlocking the phone. “Katie and Justin arrived safely, and Cody and Allison.”

“Good,” Tex said. “I was afraid we were going to lose a coach or two. We’re doing pretty well so far.”

They rode silently for a while. The back door slid open, and Alexis snuck out, closing it quietly behind her. She went to the front.

“She asleep?” Karen asked.

“Yeah,” Alexis said. “I’m so worried about her.”

“You know anything about her brother?” Tex asked.

“Nope. Wonder if she was diagnosed as a child?”

“I can’t imagine she wasn’t,” Karen said. “Not in our generation.”

“How about her parents?” Tex asked.

“Mother passed,” Alexis said. “None of them know where daddy is. He sounds like a real winner.”

“Great,” Tex said, shaking his head.

“Any news?” Alexis asked.

“Yeah, we’ve gotten a few texts about people making it to the ranch,” Karen said.

“Good,” Alexis said. “I’ll be glad when we get off the road.”

“Where’s your sister?” Tex asked.

“Ventura county,” Alexis said. “With my folks.”

“You could call them,” Karen said.

“Tried, on the land line at the Volvo dealership. No answer. I’m pretty worried. Haven’t gotten ahold of them for a while.”

“What part of Ventura county?” Tex asked, concern on his face.

“Oh, geez, that’s where the nuke went off,” Karen said. “Forgot about that.”

“They weren’t near the harbor,” Alexis said. “They were in Moorpark.”

Tex shot her a worried look. Karen saw it.

“What?” Karen asked.

“You know they evacuated people from that area, right?” Tex asked.

“Why?” Alexis asked.

“Fallout,” Tex said. “The wind blows that direction. They evacuated most of western Simi Valley too.”

“They talked to me after the blast,” she said. “My mom and my sister, anyway. Two days after, when the phone service came back up.”

“Not your father?” Karen asked.

“He got stuck away from the family,” Alexis said. “He was working in Camarillo.”

Tex looked at Karen. She nodded.

“What?” Alexis asked.

“Most of the people in Camarillo died,” Karen said softly.

“No!” Alexis said. “That’s not true. My mom said he was due home any time. She was talking to the county office.”

“When was that?” Tex asked.

“The last time I talked to her.”

“How recently?” Tex asked.

“The same call, two days after the bomb,” she said. “I was taken to the police station before I made another call.”

“You might have to consider that your family didn’t make it,” Karen said.

“No, that can’t be,” Alexis said, face turning red. Tears ran down her cheeks.

“Alexis,” Karen said, getting up to hug her. She pushed her away.

“No,” she said. “I don’t believe that. I can’t believe that. They’re all I had left.” She got up and ran back to the dinette. Tex and Karen looked at each other helplessly.

“Is there a way we can find out?” Karen asked.

“I don’t know,” Tex said. “I might have to drive her there.”

“You’d do that? Wouldn’t it be dangerous?”

“You wouldn’t do that?” Tex asked.

She sighed. “Yes, I would do that. I’ll go too, if it comes to that.”

“McKittrick is coming up,” Tex said, slowing.

“Do we have to ride through town?”

“Just barely,” Tex said. “We’ll get on Highway 33 before we hit the main drag.” He slowed down. “There’s the elementary school, see?”

“Yeah,” Karen said.

“We’re in that next town,” Alexis said, coming up to the front. Let me out here.”

“No, you don’t want to do that,” Tex said. “Jules has the money he’s going to give you. You’ll need that.”

“I don’t care,” she said. “I don’t want to move further away.”

“We’re only going an hour further,” Karen said. “Please, you don’t want to do this.”

Tex saw the transition to Highway 33 and took it.

“What are you doing?” Alexis said. “Stop!”

“I’ve got orders,” Tex said. “Ivan will have me gutted if I don’t follow them. Remember what I told you all about this organization.”

“This isn’t fair,” Alexis said. “It’s kidnapping.”

“No it’s not,” Karen said. “We can’t let you go to your death.”

“Dammit, stop,” Alexis said, breaking into sobs.

Tex and Karen looked at each other, both crying now.

“Maybe we should let her,” Karen said.

Tex started to say something, but was stopped by a pistol shot in the back of the coach.

“Oh, God no!” Alexis cried, rushing into the bedroom. She screamed.

“Go back there,” Tex said. “Think you can handle it?”

Karen nodded yes and rushed back. “Oh no,” she shouted.

Lily was on the floor, gun in her hand, blood flowing from the side of her head. Alexis stood looking at her, too numb to move.

To be continued…

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 6 – Citizen Vengeance – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

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Bug Out! Texas has just been published in the Kindle Store! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!

 

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The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”

 

 

Copyright Robert Boren 2016

Bugout! California Part 63 – The Battle of Warner Springs

Ji-Ho drove his motor home down the darkening Highway 79, Clem in the passenger seat. John and Sarah were sitting on the couch in the salon. Clem’s phone dinged with a text. He looked at it.

“Tyler?” John asked.

“Yep,” Clem said.

“Well?” Ji-Ho asked.

“The mortar team is in on site and setting up now,” Clem said, reading off his phone screen. “The off-roaders are set up at the eastern exit and are deployed in the bushes surrounding that area. James, Ryan, Hank, and Jason are in place to fire at the enemy fighters when they attempt to leave the facility in that direction. They’ve got townspeople from Julian and the rest of the tribe folks with them, spread out wide, covering the entire front area. Sam, Sid, Yvonne, Trevor, and Kaylee are on the ridge behind the facility, ready to hit them from that side with M60s and BARs. Oh, and those two kids and their women are with them too. Seth and Angel with Kaitlyn and Megan.”

“So it time for us to bottle up main road,” Ji-Ho said. “None too soon. We there.” He made the right turn and followed the curved access road around its first bend, then parked in a place too narrow to get around.

“What now?” Clem asked.

“Siege mode,” Ji-Ho said, pushing a button on the dash board. The whir of electric motors started, the plate rising in front of the windshield.

“Pull out tray in front of passenger seat,” Ji-Ho said. “Control front and rear machine guns, like I show. I’ll run mini-gun.” He pushed another button and the mini-gun’s turret began to rise out of the bedroom ceiling, the sight coming down in front of Ji-Ho.

“What do you want us to do?” Sarah asked.

“Watch out side windows,” Ji-Ho said. “Get out M60s and M-16s. Shoot through slits if enemy approaches. Be careful not to hit our people from passenger side. They there. Concentrate most on driver’s side.”

“Got it,” John said, getting the guns out of the cabinet in the hall. “You want me to be ready to re-load the mini-gun too, right?”

“Yes, but I help,” Ji-Ho said. “We use front machine guns as much as can. Much more ammo for those, and lasts much longer. Hold mini-gun in reserve.”

There was a pop, and a bright flare lit up the sky around the area.

“Flare off,” Ji-Ho said. “Whoa, roof lined with gunmen.”

Gunfire blazed from the building, towards the front of the facility. Then Sam and the others on the ridge opened fire, pinning the enemy down on the roof, several of them getting hit in the first volley. Another mortar fired, hitting the ground right in front of the main building, blowing out the door and windows near it. A third mortar round went off, hitting the top of the building, breaking the roof, UN Peacekeepers screaming.

“That got them good!” Ji-Ho said. “They start to flee soon.”

“I half expected these folks to be gone,” John said as he watched out the side windows.

“Look, here come first catch of day,” Ji-Ho said. “Van coming down driveway. Nail bastards.”

Clem smiled and used the joystick to aim the front machine guns, then fired, hitting the engine compartment of the van first, then moving up to the windshield, killing the driver and passenger before they knew what hit them. The side door opened and UN Peacekeepers flooded out, most of them cut down by the gun, Clem’s eyes frozen on the reticle screen.

“Nice,” Ji-Ho said.

Suddenly the van was hit from behind by a second vehicle.

“I take,” Ji-Ho said, aiming the mini-gun. He fired, taking off the top of the cab, killing the men inside. Then an RPG hit the truck from the side, blowing it sky high. Two more mortar rounds went off, both hitting the top of the building, the second one falling inside before it blew up, glass blowing out of the second-story windows.

“Holy crap,” Clem said.

“Hey, we got company, coming up Highway 79,” John cried, sticking his M60 out the slit and firing. He hit the front of the first van, the driver’s head exploding inside, the van hitting the shoulder of the road and rolling several times. Sarah opened fire on the second one as it was trying to K-turn and leave. She hit it broadside, but it didn’t stop.

“I get,” Ji-Ho said, aiming the mini-gun and firing into the back of it, bullets flying through the back of the van and out the front windshield. It exploded on the road as the gas tank ruptured.

“Wow,” John said.

“Look, they’re trying the other way,” Clem said. “I don’t think I can aim in that direction with these front guns.”

“Don’t worry about,” Ji-Ho said. “Other’s get. No problem.”

The mortars fired again, hitting the second building as the group in front advanced, guns blazing away. The enemy was in a flat-out panic now, many men breaking ranks and running for their lives in both directions, Sam, Trevor, Kaylee, and the others shooting them before they could get far.

“Damn, Ji-Ho, who taught Kaylee to shoot?”, Clem asked.

“Father and me,” Ji-Ho said, watching through his sight screen. “Look at Kaitlyn. She good too.”

Clem laughed. “Trevor’s moved to his Winchester. Wow, he’s good with that thing. He’s hitting every running person he’s shooting at.”

Ji-Ho smiled. “Uh oh, look. More vehicles make run. They try to get past us. Get ready.”

Clem nodded, eyes on the sight. Several shots hit the front plate, the noise flowing into the salon.

“Were those bullets?” Sarah asked.

“Yes, bounce off,” Ji-Ho said. “Okay.”

Clem fired, hitting the first van, stopping it in its tracks. Enemy fighters flooded out in a panic and got cut down by the warriors in front of the building, led by Ryan and James.

“Whoa, those Indians are firing at a full run, and they’re hitting their targets too,” Clem shouted. “I’m impressed.”

“Another UN van coming up the highway,” John said. “See it, honey?”

Sarah smiled and stuck her M60 through the slit, opening fire. John joined her, both of them hitting their target. Several shots hit the coach’s side window.

“How much can these windows take?” Sarah asked.

John aimed at the men who were shooting at the side, hitting both of them. “That was just small arms fire. Looked like AK-47s to me.”

“They break with .50 cal,” Ji-Ho said. “If they break, get down. Big rounds not get through wall below window.”

Three more mortar rounds went off, destroying the last of the buildings. Then a Gaz Tigr roared out of the back, heading towards the east.

“Crap, somebody better get that thing,” Clem said. “Way out of my range.”

“RPG get,” Ji-Ho said. “Look, Jeep taking off after. One of mine.”

He and Clem watched as the Jeep followed the big Tigr, and then a rocket flashed out of the Jeep, from above the windshield, hitting the rear of the Tigr, stopping it.

“I got clean shot,” Ji-Ho said, firing the minigun, blasting through the rear window and into the engine compartment. Three enemy fighters leapt out of the vehicle.

“Those are Islamists,” Clem said. “Oops, were Islamists. Somebody in the Jeep just shot all three of them.”

“Nice,” Ji-Ho said. The gunfire stopped. “It over.”

“Sam’s climbing off the ridge with the others to check,” Clem said.

“Yeah, I see people from the front flooding the ruins too,” John said.

There were several more rifle shots and a couple of blasts from an M60, and then silence.

“Should we go out?” John asked.

“No, we should stay here and keep watch,” Clem said.

“Yes, I agree,” Ji-Ho said. “May have more company.”

“Wonder why they didn’t split?” John asked.

“They probably getting ready to,” Ji-Ho said. “All of those vans were packed. I bet we get ammo and guns.”

“We’d better watch for booby traps,” Clem said, grim look on his face.

“That’s for sure,” Sarah said.

After about ten minutes, all of them got a broadcast text message.

“All clear,” Clem said. “What now?”

“We guard until others leave,” Ji-Ho said. “Then follow home. It Miller Time.”

John laughed. “There you go, man.” Sarah rolled her eyes. “Don’t worry, sweetie, I’m done with drinking.”

“I know,” Sarah said, hugging him. “That’s one benefit from this mess.”

***

“Wow, honey, you’re good with that thing,” Seth said to Kaitlyn as they walked back to their Jeep.

“You saw me shoot in the first battle,” she said.

“Yeah, I know,” Seth said. “You had more confidence this time, or something.”

“I want this to be over, so we can go back to a normal life,” Kaitlyn said.

“Yep, I hear you there,” Megan said. “Guess I should’ve practiced more.”

“You did fine, baby,” Angel said.

“Son, you’re pretty damn good with that Winchester,” Sam said, walking beside Trevor and Kaylee.

“I’ve practiced a lot,” Trevor said.

“You’re a natural,” Sam said. “Seen it before. Rare.”

“That’s what that instructor told him,” Kaylee said. “What was his name again?”

“Gus,” Trevor said.

“What kind of an instructor was he?” Sam asked.

“Combat pistol, but he let us use the combat range with our Winchesters,” Trevor said. “Angel, Seth, Matt, and me.”

Sam chuckled. “Oh, okay. Heard about that little sub-piece of the prepper gun culture. Popular in this state with its stupid assault rifle laws.”

“Exactly,” Seth said.

“You aren’t using your Winchester,” Sid said.

“I’m not good like Trevor, and I’ve got an M-16 now,” Seth said. “They make up for my lack of talent. I don’t shoot as well as Kaitlyn does with her AK, though.”

“Oh, please,” Kaitlyn said.

“I watched you, Kaitlyn,” Sam said. “I was impressed.”

“Really?” she asked.

“That’s a good compliment,” Sid said. “He’s a special forces guy, by the way.”

“Really?” Kaitlyn asked.

“That was a long time ago,” Sam said. “What happened to Gus?”

“When he found out Ji-Ho almost killed Saladin, he got spooked and left,” Seth said. “Took several of our friends with him. They didn’t make it.”

“Oh, I heard about that,” Sid said. “Ji-Ho told us. “It was when you left Temecula.”

“Yep,” Trevor said.

They got to their vehicles. Tyler walked up with James and Ryan. “Nice work, folks.”

“Same to you,” Trevor said. “We lose anybody?”

“Almost lost James,” Ryan said. “Zac and Kenny saved him.”

“What happened?” Sam asked.

“Gun jammed,” James said. “That’s why I like my crossbow. Never jams.”

“Honey, can we go?” Kaitlyn asked. “You can talk to them back at camp. This place gives me the creeps.”

“I want to check with my uncle first,” Kaylee said, “but you guys go ahead.” Trevor nodded and took her hand.

“Yeah, let’s get out of here,” Angel said. “I’m ready too.”

“Okay, folks, see you back at camp,” Tyler said.

Seth opened the passenger door of the Jeep for Kaitlyn, and waited until she got in. Then he got behind the wheel. They stashed their guns in the back, and he drove back onto Highway 79. When he got up to full speed, he noticed Kaitlyn crying.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

“I killed all those people,” she said.

“They were the enemy,” Seth said. “It’s not like murder.”

She looked at him in the darkness, light from the street lamps shining on her tears. “It’s still hard for me. Don’t worry, I’ll settle down.”

“I’m not worried,” Seth said. “It actually speaks well of you. You’re human and compassionate. We aren’t doing this because we enjoy it.”

“Some are,” she said softly.

“Who?”

“Sam,” she said, “I watched him.”

“Oh,” Seth said. “I don’t know him very well, but you know his wife was just killed. It’s probably that. Does he scare you?”

“No, I feel sorry for him,” she said. “So much pain in his eyes.”

“I’d be beside myself if anything happened to you,” Seth said, feeling his eyes brim with tears.

“We’ve only just met,” she said.

“That doesn’t matter,” Seth said. “Not to me. And besides, we’ve done more living together in a few days than a lot of couples have in months.”

She smiled. “Yes, we have at that, I guess.”

Seth reached out for her hand and held it as they raced down the road. Seth kept one eye in the rear-view mirror.

“You don’t see any bad guys, do you?” she asked.

“I just see Angel and Megan so far,” Seth said. “I’m expecting more headlights behind them. Wonder what everybody’s waiting for?”

“Probably high-fiving each other still,” Kaitlyn said.

“You aren’t the only person who’s shook up. Believe me.”

“At least it’s a short drive,” she said.

“Yeah,” Seth said, shooting her a glance. She was staring at him intensely.

“You’d really be broken up if I got killed?” she asked.

“Oh, geez, are you kidding me? We’ve talked a lot about us. You know how I feel.”

“I know, I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m kinda messed up from the battle.”

“You’ll be fine,” Seth said. “Just relax.”

“I can’t wait for you to hold me,” she said softly.

“Me too,” he said. “Won’t be too long, honey, we’re already passing the junction of Highway 76, see?”

“I know,” she said. They rode silently until they got to Santa Ysabel.

“You okay?” Seth asked.

“Something feels wrong,” she said. “You feel it?”

“No,” Seth said, “I don’t think so. What are you feeling?”

“Dread,” she said. “Evil.”

“Everything looks okay,” Seth said. “Look, here’s Wynola. It’s quiet and peaceful looking.”

Kaitlyn’s eyes darted around nervously. “I know, my head is telling me that.”

“You’re probably just coming down from the battle, like you said.”

“I hope that’s all it is,” she said.

“You’re starting to make me nervous now,” Seth said.

“Sorry.”

“Well, here’s Julian,” Seth said as they rode into the town. “Don’t see any problems.”

“Me neither. I’m just being silly. Sorry about that.”

“No, don’t apologize, Kaitlyn. Really.”

“I just want to curl up next to you in our sleeping bag,” she said, looking over at him, her brow still furrowed. They were past Julian now, and on the final leg of the journey.

“Oh, crap,” Seth said under his breath as they rounded the final curve.

“My God, look at the fire,” Kaitlyn said, trembling with fear. “Is that our park?”

“Yeah, that’s our park,” Seth said. “I’m driving past. Text the others.”

“Okay,” Kaitlyn said, pulling her phone out. She typed on the screen and hit send.

“You were right,” Seth said softly. “I should’ve listened.”

“You did listen,” she said. “And you did what a good man always does. You tried to calm me down, and you didn’t make fun.”

He glanced at her, watching the tears roll down her cheeks.

“You get any replies?”

“Just from Megan,” she said. “They’re still behind us. What are we gonna do?”

“Keep driving for now,” Seth said. “How’s your phone charge?”

“Low,” she said.

“There’s a charging cord in the center console compartment. Plug it in. It’s gonna be a long night.”

She found it and plugged in her phone. “How did they know?”

“The guy they captured,” Seth said. “Remember? He did know where we were. Get any other replies?”

She looked, leaning forward so she could leave the charging cord on. “Oh no.”

“Crap, what?”

“Kaylee and Trevor,” she said, crying.

“They aren’t dead, are they?” Seth asked, feeling his heart pounding.

“No. Kaylee and Trevor went to check on Ji-Ho before they came back here. There was an attack when they were inside the rig. They fought until they ran out of ammo, and then they took off. Sounds like almost everybody else got killed.” She broke into sobs.

“Oh, God,” Seth said. His phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket and put it on speaker, then set it in his lap. “Yeah.”

“Dude.” There was crying in the background.

“Angel,” Seth said, crying himself now. “What should we do?”

“Keep going and hope we don’t get seen,” Angel said. “Megan’s taking this hard.”

“So’s Kaitlyn. Hell, so am I.”

“Me too. What can we do, man?” Angel asked.

“Calm down and think,” Seth said. “Protecting our women is job one. Got it?”

“She’s my whole life, dude,” Angel said, sounding on the verge of tears.

“I know, that’s how I feel about Kaitlyn too. She’s my woman. I love her so much. I’ll die protecting her.”

“Exactly. What about Trevor? Kaylee? We’re separated now.”

“Don’t worry about that yet,” Seth said. “Here’s what we do. Follow this road to I-8. We’ll go west to El Cajon. That’s big enough to get lost in. Sound good?”

“Yeah, sounds good,” Angel said.

Seth’s phone beeped. “Call coming in. It’s Trevor. Hold on. I’ll patch him in.”

Seth picked up his phone.

“Drive,” Kaitlyn said, taking his phone. “I’ll do it.”

“Thanks, honey,” Seth said. She got the call connected.

“You both hear us?” Kaitlyn asked.

“I’m on,” Trevor said, voice wavering.

“Still here,” Angel said.

“What happened?” Seth asked.

“We got hit by about two hundred Islamists. They killed almost everybody.”

“No,” Megan said.

“You sure?” Kaitlyn asked.

“Yeah,” Trevor said. “You guys left about five minutes before they got here.”

“Did anybody else get away?” Seth asked.

“Three Jeeps slipped away while the fighting was going on. They went into the wilderness to the east. I think that old Indian guy and his wife was in one of them. He was with Sam earlier. Hopefully they got away. There were a couple other Jeeps following them.”

“You talking about Sid,” Ji-Ho said from the driver’s seat.

“What about Tyler, and James?” Kaitlyn asked. “And Ryan and Zac?”

“They were talking with Sam last I saw. They might have been in one of the other Jeeps that took off.”

“Hank and Jason?” Angel asked.

“Both dead,” Trevor said.

“Who’s with you?” Megan asked.

“Kaylee, Ji-Ho, Clem, John, and Sarah,” John said.

“Don’t say where go on phone,” Ji-Ho said. “We regroup later. Understand?”

“Crap, they’re listening in, aren’t they?” Megan said. “We said where we’re going before you got on.”

“Change plan,” Ji-Ho said. “Pull next to each other and say.”

“Dammit,” Seth said. “Okay, thanks for telling us that. You’re right. I know another place.”

“We should end call,” Ji-Ho said.

“You heard that,” Trevor said. “Maybe we should shut down our phones.”

“Yes, do until out of area,” Ji-Ho said.

“How bad was it at the RV Park?” Trevor asked.

“The place was on fire,” Kaitlyn said. “I’m so glad the others weren’t there.”

“End call now,” Ji-Ho said.

“Gotta go,” Trevor said. “Good luck. Hope we see you again.”

“Bye, brother,” Seth said.

“Take care, man,” Angel said. Trevor hung up.

“Okay, I’m gonna look for a good dirt road. We’ll go up it until we’re out of sight of the highway and decide what’s next. Got it?”

“Yeah, dude. Talk to you soon.”

The call ended. Kaitlyn put the phone down.

“You okay?” Seth asked.

“I went from guilty to pissed off,” she said. “Where are you thinking?”

“Stay on this road. It curves towards the west. I said I-8 because it’s a bigger road that would be quicker. This way will work too.”

“We can’t go to El Cajon now, though, can we?” she asked.

“No,” Seth said. “I think we should try to get into San Diego.”

“That’s closed off, isn’t it?” Kaitlyn asked.

“I’ve been reading about it, when we’ve had internet. “If we tell them who we are, they might let us in.”

“But they’re the feds, aren’t they?”

“Sounds like they’re independent at this point. Kind of a free zone. We’ll talk more about it. We can skirt towards the east and head up north if we can’t get in there.”

“Where up north?” Kaitlyn asked.

“My area,” he said. “Ivan the Butcher has it almost locked down. We might be safe there now.”

“You want out of the fight?”

“Yes and no,” he said. “If we can get back with Ji-Ho and attach to another group, I’m ready to fight these bastards.”

“And if we can’t?”

He looked over at her, searching her eyes. She looked resolute, but it softened into love and loyalty as he watched. He choked up, starting to talk.

“No,” she said, “I understand. I heard what you said, too.”

“What?”

“What you said to Angel,” she said. “If we can’t fight, you’d be happy to take me off somewhere and live happily ever after. Is that about the size of it?”

He looked back at the road, feeling his face flush.

“Well?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I know you’re not quite ready for that yet, but….”

“Quiet,” she said. “Don’t tell me what I’m ready for. We’ve got a lot of talking to do.”

To be continued…

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 6 – Citizen Vengeance – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Check out “The Plan” – it’s the story of how the Bugout War started.

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 5 – Wave of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Horror Road Book 4 – the latest in the series is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 4 – Texas Battle Cry is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 3 – Republic in Peril is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 2 – The New Republic is now available in the Kindle Store. Pick up your copy of this exciting thriller today!

 

Bug Out! Texas has just been published in the Kindle Store! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!

 

Please visit and like my author page on Facebook!

 

Here’s the series that started it all! Bug Out! Pick up your copy of book 1 for just 99 cents in the Kindle Store!

 

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Available now in the Kindle Store

 

The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”

 

 

Copyright Robert Boren 2016

Bugout! California Part 62 – Eighty Foot Ditch

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“This spot looks pretty level,” Megan said, walking with Kaitlyn, Seth, and Angel. “What do you think?”

Seth looked down at the ground in front of them, about forty yards from the nearest tent being put up. He set down the small tent he was carrying. “I think it’ll work.”

“Me too,” Angel said, setting his tent down. “Water isn’t too far away either, see?” And the bathrooms and showers are about fifty yards away. Not so bad.”

“There’s a lot less people,” Kaitlyn said. “Glad they got the others out of harm’s way.”

“I hope they’re going someplace safe,” Seth said. He untied the tent and rolled it out. Kaitlyn got down on her hands and knees and helped Seth set it up.

“How far away should we be?” Angel asked.

“Fifty yards,” Kaitlyn quipped. “No, just kidding. Ten or fifteen yards, maybe?”

“Fifteen,” Angel said, twinkle in his eye.

Megan giggled and shook her head. They walked to the place and got to work.

“I could really use a shower,” Seth said.

“I know, me too, but I don’t have clean clothes to change into.”

Seth chuckled. “You still have traces of war paint.”

“Oh, crap, I do?” she asked. “Where?”

“Left temple,” Seth said. “That war paint was kind of a turn on.”

She snickered. “You’re just smitten. I could put dung on my head and you’d probably still want me.”

“Eeeewww,” Megan said. “I’ll go to the showers with you when we’re done setting up. Need to get sleeping bags and pillows too.”

“Yeah, sounds good,” Seth said. They finished with the tent. Kaitlyn un-zipped the door and crawled inside, smoothing out the floor. “This could use some sweeping out. It was dusty at the last place.”

Seth climbed in after her. “Alone at last.”

She chuckled. “Oh, brother. Don’t expect a hot passionate night in this thing. At least not yet.”

“I know,” Seth said. “You worried?”

“Scared to death,” she said. “We need to get our guns out of the Jeep and bring them over here.”

“I know,” Seth said. “Let’s leave them where they are until we get done with our showers.”

“We’d better go pretty soon. There’s gonna be a line, I suspect.”

“Hey, Kaitlyn, quit making out and let’s go get our showers,” Megan said from outside the tent.

Seth laughed. “Go ahead, honey. We’ll meet back here in a little while. I’ll bring the guns.”

She nodded and climbed out of the tent. “We weren’t making out, Megan.”

Megan laughed. “I know. Let’s go bust the sod off. You’ve still got some war paint.”

“I know, Seth told me.” They walked to the shower, looking around as the others were setting up around them. “Hope they have towels in there.”

“Crap, didn’t think about that,” Megan said. “We’ll find out, I guess. It’ll be nasty if they don’t. Kinda cold here.”

They were the first to get to the women’s showers, and went inside, picking stalls next to each other.

Megan undressed and turned on the water. “Good pressure.”

Kaitlyn’s shower turned on. “Yeah, not bad.”

“Oh, this feels so good,” Megan said. “Wish we had clean clothes. Shoot, I forgot to check for towels.”

“They’re right outside,” Kaitlyn said. “I already grabbed one.”

“Shoot, I didn’t. I’m gonna sneak out before somebody else shows up.”

Kaitlyn giggled as she heard Megan’s stall door open. It closed again a few seconds later. “Get one?”

“Yeah,” Megan said. “It’s cold out there.”

“So, you gonna do hanky panky with Angel?”

“Here?” Megan asked. “Tonight? No way. It’ll happen eventually, though. He’s good for me. I want him.”

“That’s nice,” Kaitlyn said.

“How about you?”

“Same,” Kaitlyn said. “He can barely keep his hands off me. Glad he’s such a gentleman.”

Megan snickered. “White boys.”

“Yours is almost white,” Kaitlyn said.

“We sound kinda racist,” Megan said. “I don’t notice that he’s not tribal.”

“I know, me neither,” Kaitlyn said. “He have any Indian blood?”

“I have no idea,” Megan said. “Don’t really want to bring it up. Chances are good he doesn’t know anyway.”

“I’ve dated outside the tribe, remember? While I was going to school.”

“I don’t care about the differences,” Megan said. “I like talking to this guy. A lot. He’s like a big kid sometimes, but then he can get so serious. He’s very down-to-earth. He’ll be a good provider.”

“Good provider?” Kaitlyn asked. “You’re already going there?”

“Tell me you haven’t thought about that,” Megan said. “We’re wired that way, even if we don’t realize it’s happening.”

“Okay, you’re right,” Kaitlyn said. “Funny, though, I’ve thought less about him being a provider and more about him being a father.”

Megan laughed. “And you’re talking about me? Damn, girl.”

“I didn’t say I wanted to be pregnant right this second,” Kaitlyn said. “The picture of him with our kids pops into my head every once in a while. You haven’t had that?”

“Maybe once or twice. I’m just about done.”

“Me too,” Kaitlyn said. “This liquid soap they have isn’t the greatest.”

“It’s a whole lot better than nothing.” Megan turned off her water and picked up the towel. Kaitlyn did the same.

“You hungry?” Kaitlyn asked as she dried off.

“Yes,” Megan said. “I heard one of the park employees talking to that Korean guy.”

“Ji-Ho,” Kaitlyn said. “You know he’s Kaylee’s Uncle, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Then better call him by his name,” Kaitlyn said. “Trevor and Kaylee are very close to both Seth and Angel. If we’re with them, they’re gonna be close friends of ours too.”

“You’re probably right. I like Kaylee.”

“So do I,” Kaitlyn said. “Damn it, I hate to put these filthy clothes back on.”

“I know,” Megan said. “We won’t be up for long, at least. Made sure to grab the sleeping bags the guys had, too. They’ve only been slept in once.” She came out of the stall dressed. “Hell, my hair brush is in the car.”

“So’s mine,” Kaitlyn said. “Oops.” She came out dressed too. “I got any war paint left?”

Megan gave her face a close look. “Nope, clean as a whistle. Let’s go.”

They left the shower room and headed back to the tents.

“The guys must be in the showers,” Megan said when they got back. “Wonder if they left the Jeep keys?”

Kaitlyn climbed into her tent and found them. “Seth did.”

“Crap, Angel must have his with him.”

“C’mon,” Kaitlyn said. “You can use my brush.”

“Okay,” she said. They walked to the Jeep together, seeing Angel and Seth on the way, coming out of the men’s showers.

“Hey, honey, I got the keys to the Jeep,” Kaitlyn said.

“Oh, crap, here’s ours,” Angel said, rushing over to Megan. He handed them to her.

“Why don’t you just go with me?” Megan asked. “Looks like you need a hair brush too, mister shaggy.”

Angel cracked up. “Okay.”

“I’ll go too,” Seth said. The two couples walked to the Jeeps, which were parked in a lot about twenty yards to the right of the showers.

“That food I smell?” Angel asked.

“Clubhouse,” Seth said. “I think we’re making another stop. We can grab the sleeping bags on the way back.”

“Mmmmm, that does smell good,” Kaitlyn said. “Wonder what they have?”

“I don’t care, as long as it’s food,” Angel said.

They stopped at the vehicles long enough to brush out their hair, and then headed to the clubhouse. It was full of people, in line for barbequed chicken and ribs, with potato salad, coleslaw, and rolls.

“Yes,” Seth said, getting into line behind Kaitlyn.

“You smell good,” Angel said to Megan, snuggling up behind her. She glanced around.

“Behave,” she whispered.

He chuckled at her. “For now.”

“Well, for the record, you smell good too,” she whispered. “I don’t know why, though, since we both have dirty clothes on.”

“Hey, no canoodling in here,” Kaylee said as she got into line behind them, Trevor right behind her.

“Hey, guys,” Trevor said.

“How’s the rig?” Seth asked.

“Love it,” Trevor said. “Got room for more, you know.”

“We’re staying in our tent,” Kaitlyn said.

“Oh, I see.” Kaylee grinned.

Kaitlyn giggled. “So sue me.”

“You guys worried about the battle?” Megan asked.

“Of course,” Kaylee said. “And this guy has to volunteer for the most dangerous jobs every time.”

Trevor got a sheepish grin on his face as the others chuckled.

“Is this battle wagon really all that?” Kaitlyn asked.

Trevor laughed. “Seth didn’t mention what happened outside of Temecula?”

“He said his ex-girlfriend and a few other people left, and then you were attacked.”

“That vehicle saved us,” Seth said. “We locked it down into siege mode and used the mini-gun. Practically cut the UN vans in half.”

“What’s a mini-gun, anyway?” Megan asked.

“It’s a power-driven machine gun with revolving barrels,” Seth said. “It shoots extremely fast. They use them on helicopters, mostly.”

Trevor smiled. “Some guy I knew told me about those. Said if you could freeze the bullets from that thing in the air, they’d be less than a foot apart.”

“Holy crap,” Angel said. “Really? No wonder those things work so good.”

“That sounds scary,” Kaitlyn said.

“It is,” Kaylee said.

“They have one drawback,” Trevor said. “They use ammo in a hurry, and we ain’t the US Army. We have a limited supply. That’s one of the reasons I wanted Ji-Ho in the back tomorrow. That big gun will be good for getting us out of a jamb, but it can’t win the whole battle for us. We’d run out of ammo.”

“It’s got the front and rear machine guns,” Angel said.

“True,” Trevor said. “But those have a limited range of motion. They’re made to blow away other vehicles that are coming at us from the front or the back. If we had a good position and could point one end or the other at the enemy, they might do some good.”

“Look, something’s going on,” Seth said. “Hank and Jason just ran over to Tyler. Up by the stage.”

“Crap, I think you’re right, dude,” Angel said. “Hank doesn’t look happy. He looks scared.”

“Oh no, I hope the enemy isn’t on their way here,” Kaylee said softly.

“Tyler’s going to the podium,” Seth said.

“Dammit,” Trevor said.

“You guys hear me?” Tyler asked.

“Yeah, what up?” Ji-Ho asked.

“How many of us aren’t in the room?”

“I think just about everybody is in here,” Clem said. “Food is a good draw.”

“Okay, then I’ll go ahead. Hank and Jason just gave me some news. It’s a good news, bad news situation.”

There were murmurs around the room.

“Go ahead,” Sid said. Yvonne got closer, putting her arm around his waist.

“The good news is that we know exactly where the enemy is now,” Tyler said.

“Hope it’s not on the road here,” Sarah said.

“No, they aren’t on the road here,” Tyler said. “They’re in the abandoned resort just north of Warner Springs, like the town sheriff suspected.”

“What’s the bad news?” Sid asked.

“One of the two men who were scoping out the site got captured by the enemy.”

“Crap,” John said. “How long ago?”

“Less than half an hour,” Jason said.

“Does he know where we are?” Sam asked.

“My boss doesn’t think so,” Hank said. “I can’t say for sure.”

“So, what do we do?” Trevor asked.

“My suggestion is that we take off now and hit them,” Tyler said. “We’re only a half hour away.”

“I agree,” Hank said. “We need to take them out before they move to a new hiding place, or before they move in this direction.”

“They’re right,” Sam said. “We need to leave now. Hit them before they can react. Turn on that big screen. It’s a new enough TV that I should be able to cast a view from my phone. It’s attached to Wi-Fi. Checked a little earlier.”

Tyler nodded, and James switched it on. Sam walked up to the screen. He pulled his phone out, moved his fingers on the screen for a moment, and then a Google Earth picture came up.

“Gather around, folks,” Sam said.

Everybody in the room moved closer, Tyler and his team getting off the stage to join them. Sam pointed to the area north of town. There was a collection of buildings, then some open land, then some dilapidated tennis courts and a ruined pool.

“That’s it,” Hank said.

“Stupid place for them to hide out,” Sam said. “Look at the ridges all around the back end. They’ve only got one way out of there.”

Ji-Ho chuckled. “This be easy if we get there fast enough. Send in first team to set up mortars. Start pounding them. Meanwhile we bottle up roads using our ground forces and the battle wagon here, on this road. They can’t go out. We fry them up good.”

“I see more than one way in and out,” Ryan said. “See that road that goes off to the right side?”

“They can’t go that way, unless they have some serious off-roaders,” Jason said. “It dead-ends into nothing. Move the picture over a little bit.”

Sam nodded and moved the picture over, showing the road coming to an end.

“We do need to bottle up two places,” Hank said. “Or they’ll get down into those residential areas, and we’ll have to take them out house to house. We don’t want to do that.”

“We put off-roaders at that spot,” Ji-Ho said. “Put battle wagon and other vehicles on road that merges with Highway 79 here. He pointed. “It work, but we leave now, or they go. Must hurry.”

“Okay, everybody to your vehicles,” Tyler shouted. “Lock and load!”

The clubhouse emptied out in a couple minutes. Engines all over the RV Park started.

***

Jules was at the wheel of the black coach, Sparky in the passenger seat. Shelly and Dana came up from the dinette as the coach got off I-5.

“We stopping?” Shelly asked, her short blonde hair swaying as she bent down to look out the window.

“No, we take Highway 58 through Buttonwillow,” Jules said, turning to smile at her.

“Watch the road,” she said, shooting a sidelong glance at Dana, who grinned back at her. Sparky noticed, and chuckled.

“Where are we dropping off the snowflakes, anyway?” Dana asked.

Sparky laughed. “Snowflakes? That’s not nice.”

“Oh well,” she said, getting close to him. “Move your hands.”

“My hands?” Sparky asked, looking at them on his lap. “Why?”

Dana looked him in the eyes. “Just do it.”

He moved them, and she sat down on his lap. Shelly snickered.

“Oh,” Sparky said as she settled in. Jules looked over and snickered. “I like. Hey, Shelly.”

“Yeah, right,” Shelly said. “Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes forward.”

“You never answered my question,” Dana said.

“We go Paso Robles. Friend’s ranch. We overnight there. Out of sight of road. Leave women with cash.”

“Women?” Dana asked.

“What, you want me to say snowflake. No respect.” He tried to keep a straight face, but busted out laughing.

“European men,” Shelly said, shaking her head. “Everything’s a joke to you guys.”

“Sound like…how you say…stereotype.”

Shelly chuckled. “Okay, a little, I guess. I’m still not sitting on your lap.”

“Maybe when I not driving, no?” Jules said, looking back at her.

Shelly rolled her eyes. “No. The American no.”

“You change mind,” Jules said.

“Yeah, whatever.”

“Hey, you see this guy behind us?” Sparky asked.

“Yes, I watch,” Jules said. “Wait for move.”

“Crap, there’s somebody on our tail and I’m sitting up here like this?” Dana asked, getting off Sparky’s lap. “Really?”

Sparky shrugged.

“Girls get in back,” Jules said. “Get out M60s, in case we need to use gun slits.”

Shelly and Dana nodded, looking serious.

“I’ll go help,” Sparky said.

“No, you stay. Pull out tray in front of seat. Joystick, trigger for guns, and sight for front and back.”

Sparky nodded. “I remember.” He pulled the tray out, switching on the sight. “Hell, great view. Those are Islamists. See?”

“I figure,” Jules said. “Hear they help UN in boondocks.”

“Where do you want us?” Shelly asked, M60 in her hands.

“Just hang back there,” Jules said. “If we lucky, we won’t need.”

“This is scary,” Shelly said.

“You be fine,” Jules said. “Trust.”

“Guns out in Islamist car,” Sparky said. “Goodbye.” He pushed the button, a loud machine gun noise coming from the back of the coach.

“Holy crap,” Dana said.

“It just rolled about five times,” Sparky said.

“Yes, I see. You get both, or should we go back?”

“I shot them both,” Sparky said. “Passenger first. They’re toast.”

“Onward,” Jules said.

“We aren’t even going to stop?” Shelly asked.

Jules laughed. “Why? To answer questions from police? No thank.”

“I agree,” Sparky said, “but I’m sending a broadcast text to the others. What city did we just pass?”

Dana walked up to the front. “We just barely made it out of Buttonwillow. I know which cross street we were by. Stupid name. Eighty Foot Ditch.

“Good, thanks,” Sparky said. He slid the gunsight back in. “Gonna take your seat back?”

Jules laughed.

“No, I think I’ll save that for later,” she said. “Maybe you should leave that tray out, just in case.”

Sparky sent the text. “Nah, I can see back further with the side mirror.”

“You think they sent a description of this thing before we wasted them?” Shelly asked.

“Maybe yes, maybe no,” Jules said. “Don’t worry about.”

“Nothing bothers you,” Shelly said. “I’m shaking.”

“Ji-Ho’s crazy battle wagon give edge,” Jules said. “Not impossible to take us, but much difficult.”

“Yeah, I’d have to agree,” Sparky said. “Maybe he’ll let me keep one when this is over.”

Dana chuckled, glancing over at Shelly. “Should we put the guns away?”

“No,” Shelly said quickly.

“Keep out,” Jules said. “Makes feel safer, no?”

“Yes,” Shelly said softly. “Sorry I got scared.”

“You think I never scared?” Jules asked.

“You never look scared,” she said.

“Well I was scared,” Sparky said, “but it was also kinda fun.”

“That’s a little sick,” Dana said.

“Sure you don’t want back on my lap?” Sparky asked.

She shook her head and climbed back on. “There, satisfied?”

“For the moment,” Sparky said, shooting a smile over to Jules. He laughed as they cruised down the road.

To be continued…

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 6 – Citizen Vengeance – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Check out “The Plan” – it’s the story of how the Bugout War started.

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 5 – Wave of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Horror Road Book 4 – the latest in the series is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 4 – Texas Battle Cry is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 3 – Republic in Peril is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 2 – The New Republic is now available in the Kindle Store. Pick up your copy of this exciting thriller today!

 

Bug Out! Texas has just been published in the Kindle Store! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!

 

Please visit and like my author page on Facebook!

 

Here’s the series that started it all! Bug Out! Pick up your copy of book 1 for just 99 cents in the Kindle Store!

 

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Available now in the Kindle Store

 

The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”

 

 

Copyright Robert Boren 2016

Bugout! California Part 61 – Passing Through Gorman

IMG_1390

Yvonne was driving, the shadows getting longer as late afternoon wore on.

“We should be hearing from the others soon,” Sid said. “They’ve got to be about settled by now.”

“We’re gonna get some rest before we take off for Warner Springs, I hope.”

“We’ll have to, sweetie,” Sid said. “I’ll call Clem and see what’s up.”

“Yeah, do that.”

Sid pulled out his phone and hit Clem’s contact. It rang a couple times, and Clem picked up.

“Sid! Where are you guys?”

“Just a sec, I’m gonna put it on speaker.” Sid pushed the button and held the phone near his face. “Hear me okay?”

“Yep,” Clem said.

“Hi, Clem,” Yvonne said.

“Hi, Yvonne. How’s Sam holding up?”

“We’re gonna have to watch him like a hawk,” Sid said.

“You didn’t tell me where you are.”

“Just passed Santa Ysabel ten minutes ago,” Sid said. “We’re almost to Wynola.”

“Oh, hell, you guys are almost here,” Clem said. “No problems on the road?”

“Not since Sam killed those UN thugs north of Warner Springs.” Yvonne said. “How far past Julian is this RV Park you’re in?”

“Just a few miles,” Clem said. “Nice place. We’ve got Ji-Ho’s rig up on a ridge. Nice commanding view of the whole area from up there.”

“No problems on the road?” Sid asked.

“Nah,” Clem said. “The elders, women, and children of the tribe went to an alternate location.”

“Where?” Yvonne asked.

“They ain’t telling us,” Clem said. “Not that I blame them, of course.”

“I know where it is,” Sid said.

“Well don’t tell us,” Clem said. “I want to keep in good with these folks.”

“Understand,” Sid said.

“Here’s Wynola,” Yvonne said.

“Another bustling metropolis,” Sid quipped.

“Be nice, honey. It looks like a cool little town.”

Clem laughed. “I should get off the phone. There’s a meeting starting up in about twenty minutes, and I need to clean up a little. You guys will probably be here about the time it starts.”

“Okay,” Sid said. “Talk to you soon.” He ended the call.

“Well, sounds like things are going well,” Yvonne said.

“I hope the second location is as secure as they think it is,” Sid said.

“Where is it?”

“If it’s the place I’m thinking about, it’s outside of Pine Valley,” Sid said. “Don’t tell anybody.”

“Understand. Pretty close to I-8. Think that’s really safe?”

“Lots of heavily forested nooks and crannies out there,” Sid said. “What worries me are the state records. They probably know about every plot of land owned by the Barona tribe by now.”

“Geez,” Yvonne said.

They rode silently for a few minutes as the road twisted towards Julian.

“We’re here,” Yvonne said as they entered the town. “Always loved visiting.”

“Best apple pie I’ve had anywhere,” Sid said.

“Want to stop?”

“No, let’s get to the RV Park. I want to attend that meeting. Ought to be starting in a few minutes.”

“Okay,” Yvonne said. “What street is it again?”

Sid looked at his phone for a moment. “KQ Ranch Road. Looks like a long way on the map, but it’s only about five miles from here. We’re talking ten minutes.”

“Give me a little early warning before we get to the road, okay?”

“Will do, honey,” Sid said. “Pretty around here. Might be a nice place to settle when this mess is over.”

“You don’t want to go back to Dulzura?”

“Too many bad memories there,” Sid said. “I would like to retrieve our RV if it wasn’t destroyed.”

“I know, I miss our home,” Yvonne said. “If we had a few days, I’d go down there and see if we could get it.”

“That’s an interesting idea,” Sid said, putting the phone up to his face. “Hmmm. Only about an hour to get there. We might be able to find a couple hours for a round trip, but what if it’s destroyed?”

Yvonne chuckled. “Then we’ve wasted two hours of doing…what?”

“Depends on when the battle happens, I guess,” Sid said. “They’re going to need my bow.”

“Probably. We getting close?”

“Oh, crap, better focus my phone back on that,” Sid said, moving his fingers on the screen. “Half a mile. It’s a left turn.”

“I’ll bet John and Sarah would like to get their rig too,” Yvonne said.

“Hell, Sam’s got one there,” Sid said. “It’s a small trailer…crap.” His eyes welled with tears.

Yvonne looked over at him, fighting back tears herself. “He only needs room for one now.”

“Might be too hard for him.”

“Might be,” Yvonne said. “That the turn?”

“Yep.”

“Where do I go from there?” Yvonne asked.

“The road leads right to the place,” Sid said, trying to regain his composure.

Yvonne made the turn, John and Sarah’s truck following them. They drove the twisty road, then turned into the driveway. Sid pulled all the way forward in the check-in lane, John pulling up tight against him.

“A little chilly,” Sam said as he climbed out of the truck bed.

“Elevation,” John said, helping Sarah out of the truck.

“Might as well go straight into the clubhouse,” Sid said. “The meeting should be just starting.”

The five of them walked to the clubhouse door. Clem saw them come in, and raised his hand. He was up towards the front.

“Sam, so sorry about what happened,” Ji-Ho said as they walked up.

“Thanks,” Sam said. “How many did we lose?”

“Only few,” Ji-Ho said. “One Eye was tough.”

“Such a tragic loss,” Yvonne said.

“Yes, is,” Ji-Ho said. “I got last cabin for you. Two bedroom. You can all stay. Also have room in rig for another person or two. Clem’s there.”

“I got my rig too,” Hank said. “Jason and I are both in it, but it’s a bunkhouse model. I’ve got room for a couple more.”

“Thanks,” Sam said as they got to the front by the stage.

“Sam,” Clem said, choking back tears. “I don’t have the words.”

“I know, old friend,” Sam said. “Life has to go on.”

“You sound better than I expected,” Clem said.

“I’m tied up in knots inside,” Sam said quietly. “She was everything to me. She’d want me to go on, to fight. That’s what I’m gonna do.”

They sat down on one of the long benches facing the stage. Tyler, James, Zac, and Ryan were around the podium getting ready. Tyler saw Sam, Yvonne, and Sid. He broke away from the others and walked to the edge of the stage.

“Sam, so sorry to hear about your wife,” Tyler said. “Glad you guys are here.”

“Thanks,” Sam said. “So sorry about One Eye. He was a great man.”

“Yes, he was,” Tyler said.

“They did a good job picking his replacement,” Sid said. “Congrats.”

“Thank you,” he said. “I hope I can do as well as One Eye. He’s a hard act to follow.”

“You’ll do fine,” Yvonne said.

“Thanks,” he said. “We’ll get started in a moment.” He walked back to the podium.

“He’ll be good,” Sid said.

“Yep, that was a great choice,” Clem said. “He dived right in with both feet, too. Impressive young man.”

“Good Afternoon,” Tyler said into the microphone on stage. He was at the podium, the others gathered behind him.

There was a smattering of applause. He held up his hands to end it.

“As you know, the enemy has retreated from Julian. Thanks to Sam, Yvonne, and Sid, we know which city they’re in. It’s Warner Springs, about half an hour’s drive from here.”

“Do we know the exact location yet?” Seth asked.

“No, not yet,” Tyler said. “I propose that we send scouts out to look around.”

“Who?” Ji-Ho asked.

“We’ll ask for some volunteers. James, Zac, and Ryan have already agreed to be part of the team.”

“We’ll go,” Kenny said, standing next to Bradley.

“I’m willing to go,” Trevor said.

Kaylee looked at him, then up at the stage. “I’m going if he is.”

“I’m gonna go,” Sam said. “I suggest that Trevor stays here. He’s going to be needed to run the team that follows us.”

“Follows us?” James asked.

“If you guys get close enough, you’re likely to be seen,” Sam said. “We need to be ready to hit them right away. So the small team needs to go in and poke around while the rest of us are on the way.”

Tyler stood silently for a moment, thinking.

“He’s probably right,” Ryan said softly behind him.

“Yes,” Tyler said. “Okay, Sam, I agree that’s a good way to handle this.”

“Who’s in this second team?” Kaitlyn asked.

“All of us,” Trevor said. “Anybody disagree?”

“You’re right,” Sam said. “It needs to be everybody who can fire a gun. We need to have a decisive victory.”

“I take battle wagon,” Ji-Ho said.

“You mean that huge RV of yours?” Kenny asked.

Trevor laughed. “That thing has a lot of capability. I agree. We take that, but he’s in back when we go in. We don’t want to tip off the enemy.”

“Yes, I get you out of jam if needed,” Ji-Ho said.

“I’m still not getting this,” Kenny said.

“It’s got a mini-gun mounted on a turret,” Trevor said. “And it’s bullet-proof. It also has machine guns in front and rear, and some other neat tricks.”

“You’re kidding,” Kenny said.

“I know about this,” Tyler said. “We rode up with him. I agree with Trevor. We need that vehicle, just in case we run into trouble.”

“You’re forgetting some other folks,” Hank said. “The towns people of Julian. Jason and I know Warner Springs like the back of our hands, and we also know a lot of the people there. We need to be involved in the first team. We’ll find out where the base is a lot quicker that way. You folks will be stabbing in the dark.”

Tyler smiled. “You’re right, of course. Thanks for speaking up. I think perhaps you two ought to lead the away team, then. You okay with that?”

“Yep,” Hank said.

“I’m ready,” Jason said.

“How many of the townspeople would be interested in joining the second group?” James asked.

“At least fifty,” Hank said. “Maybe more. Remember who kicked these cretins out of the town in the first place.”

“They also called for help, though, didn’t they?” Sid asked.

“Yeah, they did, which tells me there’s more bad guys collecting in Warner Springs to attack them,” Sam said. “You know where the request came from, Hank?”

“Yeah, my boss,” Hank said. “The Sheriff.”

“Does he know where the base is?” Tyler asked.

“No,” Hank said. “Asked him a little while ago. He has some suspicions.”

“Where?” Sam asked.

“There’s a place on the north side of town,” Hank said. “It’s an abandoned resort. He thinks they might be there, based on comments from some of the locals. It’s the first place we ought to check, and it’s pretty easy to sneak up to. Lots of cover.”

“When are we going?” Seth asked.

“I suggest we time it so the first team arrives in early morning,” Hank said, “when it’s still dark. We hit them with the second team at first light, if the first team can find the location.”

“Good, that gives us time to sleep, then,” Megan said.

“Yes, I suggest everybody hits the sack early tonight,” Tyler said. “We need to be up by about three am.”

“Sounds like a good plan,” Sam said.

“We be ready,” Ji-Ho said.

“I’ll talk to the townspeople,” Hank said. “We about done here?”

“Yes,” Tyler said. “Unless there’s any questions.”

Nobody said anything, so the group started to disburse. Sid looked at Clem and Sam.

“Something on your mind, Sid?” Sam asked.

“Does that fancy camera at the Dulzura park still work?” he asked. “The one you can turn around?”

“Haven’t checked for a while,” Sam said. “Why?”

“If we survive this battle, it’d be nice to go get our rigs. It’s only an hour’s drive from here.”

Sam got a grim look on his face. “I don’t think I can go back there.”

“You don’t have to,” Yvonne said. “You mind if we do?”

“No, as long as you don’t get killed,” Sam said.

“I might be interested in that,” John said.

“Honey, no,” Sarah said.

“Don’t you want our home back?”

“It’s probably blown apart anyway,” Sarah said.

“That’s why I was asking about the camera,” Sid said. “Think it can turn around and see our coaches, Clem? You set it up.”

“If it still works, we can move it in that direction,” Clem said. “That’s a big if, of course.”

“You have a rig too, Clem,” Sid said. “Maybe you’d want to go along.”

“I might at that,” he said. “Better think this through, though. It might be dangerous. Very dangerous. I’d suggest we forget about the camera and risk the time to go there without trying to look.”

“Why?” Sid asked.

“The enemy knows what the IP address of the video feed is. They might notice that somebody manipulated the camera. Might tip them off to set up a trap.”

“Crap, he’s got a point,” John said.

“Yes, he does,” Sam said. “Of course, we could get there, set up an ambush ourselves, and then manipulate the camera. Might have a good chance at killing the bastards who nailed our friends.”

Sid and Yvonne shot each other a nervous look.

***

Tex drove the yellow rig through the darkness, feeling lonesome. Alexis and Lily sat next to each other in the dinette, chatting about what they were going to do when they were let go. Karen sat on the couch alone, sulking since they left, which was more than an hour ago. They were passing Gorman, the big rig handling the grade well considering its weight. Tex couldn’t even feel the Jeep they were towing behind them. He hadn’t seen any of the other rigs for a while. Jules had the rigs leave at ten minute intervals so they wouldn’t look like a giant caravan on the road. That was good and bad. His eyes darted around, dwelling on the rear-view mirrors much more than normal.

“Mind if I sit up here?” Karen asked softly.

“I’d love it, little lady,” Tex said. “Was getting a tad lonely.”

“I don’t really want to talk,” she said. “I just had to get away from Frick and Frack back there. The chattering was getting to me.”

He smiled, glancing over at her, taking in her beautiful face and thick red hair. “It wouldn’t have worked anyway.”

She shot a glance at him. “What are you talking about?”

“You and Gil,” Tex said. “I saw what happened.”

“Nothing happened,” she said.

Tex chuckled. “You got aced out by that little hottie. You got pissed, and you’ve been sulking about it for the whole time we’ve been on the road.”

“Shut up,” she said. “I said I didn’t want to talk.”

“Okay,” Tex said. He reached for the radio and turned it on, finding a country-western station. He turned it up and sat back, enjoying the music.

“Oh, please,” Karen said. “Gonna slop the hogs when we get to camp?”

“Now that’s not nice,” Tex said, trying not to laugh out loud.

“You’re messing with me,” she said softly. “Stop it.”

“I’m not messing with you,” Tex said. “Not really. Not much, anyway.”

“I don’t think you’re charming,” she said. “I know what a drugstore cowboy is. Do you even like girls?”

Tex laughed again. “This is going to be a long drive.”

“Well then just stop talking and we’ll get along fine,” she said.

“That will make the drive even longer, so you can forget that.”

Karen sighed. “Why do you want to talk to me anyway? I’m a bitch.”

“You’re hot,” Tex said. “I’m just your type, unlike Gil.”

She laughed. “Oh, really? This ought to be good. Please enlighten me.”

“Without a strong man, you’re just empty passion with a pretty face,” Tex said.

“That sounded a little sexist,” she said. “Sounded kinda insulting, too.”

“To you?”

“Well, to me, and to Gil too,” she said.

“Gil’s plenty manly, and Tisha was made for him. He’s gonna curl her toes good, mark my words.”

“She’s more of a bitch than I am,” Karen said.

“You don’t get it,” Tex said. “She’s only a bitch outwardly. I talked to her for a while. It’s all show. A façade.”

“What do you mean?”

“She tries to come off aloof and tough, but when she finds somebody who works, she commits completely. She mates for life. She’ll follow her man anywhere, and she wants to be under his control.”

“Listen to yourself,” Karen cracked. “That’s really sexist. It’s brutish and low. It’s a total turnoff.”

“The truth hurts,” Tex said.

“The truth hurts,” she mocked. “Maybe I should go back to the couch.”

“Maybe you should, but you won’t.”

She started to get up, but then stopped, and sat back down.

“What’s the matter?”

“Frick and Frack are watching this. I can’t go back there now.”

Tex chuckled.

“It’s not funny,” she said, her face turning red.

“Now that is gorgeous,” Tex said. “I can see your face going off like a beacon, even in near dark. And with that red mane of yours. Wow.”

She shot him an icy glance. “You’re pretty full of yourself. I should’ve fought for Gil.”

“You would’ve just killed his spirit,” Tex said. “You know it and I know it.”

“Bull crap,” she said. “You don’t know Tisha as well as you think you do. She’s a real ball buster. Gil’s gonna have his hands full.”

“He’s gonna have his hands full all right,” Tex said. “Exactly like both of them want. You won’t be able to get between those two. Nobody will.”

“So how am I gonna kill his spirit, exactly?”

“Gil is a great guy, but he’s not dynamic enough for you. You’ll get bored. You’ll either dump him or make his life a living hell by blaming him for your own unhappiness. You’d never commit to him the way Tisha is going to. She’s gonna worship the ground he walks on. Probably already does.”

“Oh, brother,” she said. “If that’s what I’d do with somebody as strong as Gil, then I’m doomed.”

Tex chuckled again.

“Knock that off,” she said.

“No. I’m driving. Deal with it.”

She stared at him again for a long moment, then sighed.

“You see what I’m talking about?” Tex asked.

“What do you want from me?”

“I want you, at least until we get bored with each other.”

She laughed. “Like that’s going to happen.”

“It might, and it might not,” Tex said. “You’re an interesting combination. I’m smitten. I’m gonna try for you.”

“Oh, so I’m an interesting combination, huh?”

“Yep, you’re just my type. You want to be taken hard, but once you’re in it, you want to keep your options open. You’d never commit one hundred percent to anybody. Get bored and you’ll be looking around for a better deal. I’m the same way. That’s why I’ve never been married.”

“You think you know me, but you don’t know crap,” she said.

“Have it your way. What’s the longest relationship you’ve ever been in?”

“None of your business,” she said.

“C’mon.”

She sighed. “About two years.”

“But you were done long before it ended, weren’t you?”

She sat silently. “Why do you have to push so hard? After what I’ve been through.”

“Well, you’re right. You’ve been through hell and you didn’t deserve it. I’ll take special pleasure in killing as many of these UN creeps as I can in your honor.”

“That’s supposed to make me feel better?”

“No,” Tex said. “Only you can do that, but you can let me help.”

“So, let me get this straight. You think I’ll have this hot, passionate love affair with you, and then we’ll part ways as soon as one of us gets bored. But I can rely on you? Seems kinda sketchy to me.”

Tex smiled at her. “I’m starting to break through, but you aren’t really getting it yet.”

She stared at him blankly for a moment, and then rolled her eyes. “This is pointless. It’s just doubletalk.”

“No, it’s really not,” Tex said. “I know that your own happiness is the most important thing to you. You will run your life to manage that. I’m similar. I’m extremely attracted to you. I think you’re attracted to me, too. If we get together, we might both choose to be together until the day one of us dies. Or we may choose to part, or to have an on again, off again relationship. I would never try to trap you in a situation you no longer wanted, and I wouldn’t take that from you either. I think you’d understand.”

She chuckled. “You’re the kind of man my mom warned me about. Talk up a story, get what you want for as long as you want it, and then get out of it.”

“Which is exactly how you are,” Tex said. “We know our own. And don’t make it sound like there’s no commitment there. If we’re together, even temporarily, you’d be on my white list.”

“Oh, give me a break. White list? What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means I’ll always hold you in high regard. I’ll always come running when you’re in trouble, no matter what. I’ll be a life-long friend, even if we don’t end up being life-long lovers.”

“That sounds corny as hell. I’m going in the back. Maybe I can sleep.”

“Go ahead,” Tex said. “Think about it. I got my point across. Your move.”

To be continued…

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 6 – Citizen Vengeance – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

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The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”

 

 

Copyright Robert Boren 2016

Bugout! California Part 60 – Tisha

IMG_1469

Trevor was at the wheel of his motor home, Kaylee watching him drive from the passenger seat.

“We’re only a few miles from city limits,” Kaylee said. “Thank God. I was so sure we were gonna get hit on the road.”

“We might have hit them a lot worse than we thought.”

“Hope so,” Kaylee said. “Hope we get a few days before we have to fight again.”

“I’d rather get it over with quicker,” Trevor said. “I’ll be on pins and needles the whole time if we have to wait.”

“Well, there is that, I guess. Think we’re gonna get this rig to ourselves?”

“Probably not right away,” Trevor said. “We’ll see.”

Kaylee’s phone dinged. She looked at it. “Looks like a broadcast text message from my uncle.”

“Directions?”

“Yeah, keep going on 79, then take a road to the right called KQ Ranch Road.”

Trevor grinned. “I know that place. It’s a big resort. They’ve got RV spaces, lots of tent camping spots, and small cabins. It’s a little ways outside of Julian. It’s also pretty pricey, as I remember.”

“Hell, my uncle will probably pay for everybody.”

“That’s a lot of money, and he just lost his house,” Trevor said.

Kaylee laughed. “That house was nothing to him from a money standpoint. He’s very wealthy. He could probably buy this place if he felt like it.”

“Oh. Yeah, I should have realized that, I guess.”

Think this place is safe? Defendable?” Kaylee asked.

Trevor thought for a moment, the memories of camping with his family covering him like a warm blanket.

“You have good memories from there,” Kaylee said. “I can see it all over your face.”

“I do. This rig has been there, although by that time I was staying behind to work while the rest of the family went on vacation. When I went we only had a tent trailer and some pup tents.”

“But is it defendable?”

“Yes and no,” Trevor said. “There are some ridges the enemy could use, but the park is in a pretty dense forest. Snipers would have a hard time. They could lob mortar rounds in there, I suppose, but they could do that almost anywhere.”

“Sounds nice. I like the forest more than I like the desert.”

“Me too, for the most part,” Trevor said. “Can you tell how far the turn is?”

“Just a sec.” She brought her phone up and moved her fingers on the screen. “It’s really close. Turn right at the next place you can. It’s after a curve to the left and a curve to the right.”

“Really pretty back here,” Trevor said. “I could get used to this.”

“Me too,” Kaylee said. “Where do you want to settle down, after all of this is over? Back in South Bay?”

“I’ve always kinda wanted to re-locate. Probably depends on where I can get a job. How about you?”

“Hard to think very far ahead. You know how things change. Right now, I’m okay with following you wherever you go.”

“You think that’ll change?” Trevor asked.

“No, but I’m not an idiot. We’re just starting. We know each other as friends, but we haven’t been in this kind of relationship for very long.”

Trevor nodded. “That’s true. We don’t even know if we work yet.”

Work?” she asked, looking at him.

“You know.”

“Oh,” she said, face turning red. “I’m not too worried about that. It’s all we can do to keep our hands off each other.”

“True, but still,” Trevor said. “Look, there’s the road.” He made the turn, following the other vehicles, Ji-Ho’s massive rig still in the lead, ahead of them by five vehicles.

“The trees are getting denser,” Kaylee said.

“Yeah. I think they’ve expanded this park since last time I was here. I don’t remember spaces down in that valley before.”

“Maybe it’s a different park,” Kaylee said.

“I don’t think so. We’ll see.”

They followed the road. It curved sharply to the right.

“My uncle is slowing down.”

“The gate is right up there,” Trevor said. “One thing I forgot about this place. It’s a membership park.”

“You have to be a member to stay?”

“No, but you can buy into the place and even leave your rig here full time. There’s a mixture of short term and member spots. My dad was considering the membership deal, but it was a little too expensive, and the weather is a problem.”

Kaylee watched as Ji-Ho’s rig went through the gate and parked in the check-in lane. “What about the weather?”

“It snows. Every year. That means you have to be careful about winterizing your rig.”

“Oh,” she said. “That kinda sucks. Is this place accessible during winter?”

“Well, they plow the roads, as I remember. Might get stuck here a little while after a good snow, though.”

“Sounds cozy,” Kaylee said, stretching in her seat. Trevor parked behind Ji-Ho’s rig.

“Ready?”

“Sure, let’s get out,” Kaylee said. They left the coach as other vehicles parked around them.

“Nice place,” Ji-Ho said as he came out of his rig. Clem followed him with James and Tyler.

“Smell this air,” James said.

“It’s nice,” Clem said. “Altitude bothers me sometimes.”

“Hi, uncle,” Kaylee said, hugging him.

“How Trevor’s rig?” he asked.

“Great,” she said. “I could see myself living in it for a while.”

“Life on road nice,” Ji-Ho said. “I love it.”

“Me too,” Trevor said.

“I cover rental,” Ji-Ho said, “but we need to go in to get space assignments.”

“Thanks for the cottages,” James said.

“Yes, thank you,” Tyler said. “We’ll set mine up as a headquarters.”

Seth and Angel walked over, Kaitlyn and Megan following, chatting happily.

“Hey, Trevor, how’d the rig work?” Angel asked.

“Runs like a dream, but it’s only a few years old,” Trevor said.

“You’re lucky you have that to live in,” Seth said.

“Don’t worry, I’ll keep you warm in our tent,” Kaitlyn said. Megan snickered.

“You gonna do that too, Megan?” Angel asked.

“That’s for me to know and for you to find out,” she said. “C’mon, let’s find out what space we’re in.”

“There’s less tribal folks with us,” Trevor said, as he watched people approaching.

“The elders and some of the women took the children to an alternative location we have,” Tyler said. “We’ll join them there after we’re done.”

“Where is it?” Angel asked.

“Sorry, not saying,” Tyler said. “If you’re still with us after this, we’ll allow you to go, but until then we have to keep it secret.”

James looked at Kaitlyn and Megan. “That means you two need to keep your mouths shut about it, okay?”

“We know,” Kaitlyn said.

“No problem here,” Seth said.

“Same here,” Angel said.

Trevor and Kaylee followed Ji-Ho and Tyler into the office.

“Good afternoon,” said the woman behind the counter. She was in her late sixties, with an impish smile and hair dyed black, shoulder length. “I’m Anne. You Ji-Ho?”

“Yes, am,” Ji-Ho said. “Sorry, my English not perfect.”

“Well neither is mine,” she said. “I’ve marked up a map with the tent spaces and the cabins you rented. You can pick spaces for the RVs. I’ve circled the open ones.”

“You have a lot of members living her full time?” Trevor asked.

“Most take off during the dead of winter,” Anne said. “This year has been different, though. More people living here than normal. Probably all the trouble in the cities.”

“You don’t have problems with the UN throwing their weight around?” Trevor asked.

“We were just starting too when the townspeople of Julian kicked them out,” Anne said. “Still waiting for the other shoe to drop on that, though. These creeps seem to have a pretty good hold on the state government.”

“Not for long,” Ji-Ho said. He fished out his credit card and handed it to Anne. “I take this space, near top of ridge. Trevor and Kaylee, pick somewhere down below, in nice forest area near pool.”

“You aren’t expecting trouble, are you?” Anne asked.

“No, not at all,” Ji-Ho said. “This just stop-over for while. Week, maybe slightly more.”

Anne looked him up and down for a moment, then smiled. “Okay, no problem.” She ran the credit card as Trevor and Kaylee looked at the map.

“How about this one?” Trevor asked, pointing to a spot left of the swimming pool.

“I like it,” Kaylee said.

Ji-Ho looked. “That perfect. Close to the cabins that Tyler and the council are in.”

“Great,” Anne said as she handed back the credit card and a receipt. Ji-Ho signed her copy and slid it back to her. “Your space is remote, but there are two ways to get there.” She traced it on the map. “Look okay?”

“Perfect,” Ji-Ho said. He took out his cellphone and took a picture of the map, then handed it to Trevor, who did the same. They went outside and Trevor handed it to Tyler.

“Just took a picture of it. Pass it around. The spaces and cabins we have are on here.”

“Perfect, thanks!” Tyler said.

“Shall we?” Trevor asked.

“Maybe we ought to go up with my uncle and help him get set up.”

“Good idea,” Trevor said.

“Don’t worry about,” Ji-Ho said. “Clem will stay with me. We can do. We both old RV people.”

“Yeah, we’ll be fine,” Clem said.

“Okay, great,” Trevor said. He took Kaylee’s hand and they walked to their coach.

“This is exciting,” Kaylee said. “Wish we didn’t have a battle coming so soon, though.”

“I know,” Trevor said. “Let’s just make the best of it for now, okay?”

“Okay,” she said, hugging him before they climbed into the coach.

Trevor got back behind the wheel and drove. “This is a back-in spot, so you’ll have to watch for me.”

“No problem, I’ll guide you in. We doing all the hookups?”

“At least the water and electrical,” he said. “The holding tanks hardly have anything in them. We’ll have to take the long way around from here. Past the swimming pool and the big grass field.”

“Let’s see your phone,” Kaylee said. He unlocked the screen and handed it to her. “Oh, yeah, I see. This park is huge.”

“Yes, it is. They did expand it. There were no RV spots up on that ridge where Ji-Ho is parking.”

“It’s good that he’s up there. He can watch over everybody.”

“Yep,” Trevor said. “I’ll bet he’s been here before, and knew about those spots.”

“There’s the pool, to the right,” Kaylee said. “See those cabins? I’ll bet that’s where Tyler and the others are staying.”

“Wonder where the tent area is?” Trevor asked.

“I see it on the map. On this big flat area. It’s to our left, just about now. See it?”

“Oh, yeah,” Trevor said. “Surprised Seth and Angel didn’t ask to stay in here.”

“I’m not. They probably want their privacy.”

Trevor looked at her.

“Watch the road,” Kaylee said. “You can stare at me later. See where the baseball diamond is? Make a right there, then follow the road past the big open field and make another right.”

“Got it,” Trevor said. “You’re gonna like this place.” He made the right turn, then took the next right and drove a little past the diagonal space. “Okay, you can guide me in now.”

Kaylee nodded and went out the door, getting into the space. Trevor backed the coach in with her direction, and shut down the engine. He joined her outside.

“This is great,” he said, walking over to her.

She put her arm around his waist while they looked around. “Look, there’s my uncle. They’re pretty high on the ridge. He’s gonna want one of his Jeeps up there, I suspect.

“Yeah, probably. Let’s get hooked up.”

Kaylee nodded and they got to work, as others around them were taking their spots and pitching tents.

***

Gil carried weapons into the blue coach, along with the few personal items and pieces of clothing he’d brought from the house in Lomita. Karen was avoiding him now, angry that she didn’t end up riding with him. Tisha hadn’t been spending the after-dinner time with him either. She sat with Brianna and Haley, but Gil noticed her glancing at him often. They locked eyes several times. Something about her made his heart flutter. He came down the steps and saw Robbie and Morgan headed to the red coach.

“Hey, man, how do you like it?” Robbie asked.

“This thing is insane,” Gil said. “Can’t wait to give her a test drive.”

Morgan got a wicked grin on her face. “Gonna test drive anything else?”

Robbie laughed out loud, then covered his mouth. “Crap. Sorry.”

Gil shook his head. “You two are terrible. And by the way, she isn’t giving me the time of day.”

Morgan got closer. “I saw her looking at you, and I saw you looking at her,” Morgan whispered.

“Of course,” Gil said. “I’m trying to understand why she asked to ride with me, I guess.”

“She’s your type,” Robbie whispered. “More so than Karen.”

“I don’t have a type,” Gil said. “You guys are gonna tease me, aren’t you? If Tisha was interested in me, she would’ve talked to me.”

“She expects you to approach her,” Morgan whispered. “If you want her, you’re going to have to be more aggressive. Known a lot of girls like her.”

She’s the one who asked to ride with me,” Gil said.

Morgan chuckled. “She got herself on deck. You’ll need to do the rest.”

“So, were you putting yourself on deck when you came to live with me?” Robbie asked.

Morgan smiled at him. “None of your business.”

“None of my business?” Robbie asked, grinning.

“Remember what I told you?” she asked. “You could have had me months ago. You came up with that out of my league nonsense.”

“I know, I was stupid,” Robbie said. “I’m glad I have you now.”

“Let’s go to our coach and make sure everything works,” Morgan said, gleam in her eye.

“We’re probably leaving soon, you know,” Gil said.

“We are,” Robbie said. “Ted just told me. We’ve got about half an hour.”

“Okay, then I’ll get finished,” Gil said. He watched them walk away, then went back in the coach. After a couple minutes, there was a knock on the side. He went to the door. Tisha was standing there.

“Hey,” she said, climbing up. “Didn’t want to startle you.”

“Hi,” Gil said, heart hammering in his chest. “You have anything to carry in?”

“Just me,” she said. “Can’t wait to get some new clothes, or at least wash these. Sorry I stink.” She studied his face for a moment.

“I don’t mind,” Gil said.

“You didn’t come talk to me.”

“I thought you were busy with the women you were talking to,” he said.

“Don’t look down, look at me,” she said. “I don’t even care where on me you look.”

Gil’s face turned red. “Sorry.”

She giggled, then came over to him, pulling him close, planting a tender kiss, the passion between them rising in a flash. She moved back and looked him in the eye. “Thought so.”

Gil stared back at her, eyes wide, not knowing what to say.

“Oh, I’m gonna have fun with you,” she said. “Let’s push the BS to the side. We don’t have the time. Okay?”

“Okay, I guess,” Gil said. “What do you mean?”

“You were checking me out, after we first got here. Seen that look before. Usually I’d let you slowly ease into talking to me. We don’t have time for that now. We might be dead within a week. Hell, maybe tonight if we get hit on the way out of here.”

“You’re something,” Gil said, smiling at her.

“You gonna deny that you’re interested?”

Gil felt the passion rising in him, staring at her beautiful face and long straight hair. She looked scared for the split second before he grabbed her and kissed her again, hard, holding her almost too tightly.

“Oh, God,” she said as they broke the kiss. “I think I had you figured pretty good.”

“I think you did,” Gil said.

“What were you doing with the other girl?”

“I wasn’t with her, she was with me,” Gil said. “Her dad was my boss.”

“So, you knew her before?”

Gil chuckled. “No, I was the help. She wouldn’t give me the time of day.”

“Then why’d you let her hang around you?”

“She was scared, and I hadn’t seen you yet,” Gil said, bringing her in for another hard kiss. He had her off balance now, her breath coming hard. She noticed his confidence and snickered.

“Think you’ve got me under control, huh?” she asked.

“I don’t think anybody can have you under control. That much I can tell already.”

“We’re gonna have fun, she said, locking eyes with him again. “When we leaving?”

“Half hour, from what I’ve heard.”

“Okay,” she said, sitting down in the passenger seat and looking at the controls. “Diesel. You’ll have to show me how to drive this.”

“I will,” Gil said, sitting behind the wheel. “This thing is the bomb.”

She smiled at him, then looked out the windshield. “By the way, I’m taking the bedroom.”

“Okay,” Gil said.

“So are you.”

Gil smiled at her, heart beating quicker again. “Wish we had more than half an hour.

“I don’t think we even have that,” Tisha said. “Look, they’re opening the big door.”

“Okay, everybody, let’s fire these babies up,” shouted Sparky.

“Yeeeeehawww!” shouted Tex.

“He’s crazy,” Tisha said.

Gil saw Karen following Tex and the two women who were leaving to his rig. Then he looked over at Tisha, and a smile washed over his face.

“Yes, you did make the better choice,” she said. “Or rather I did.”

The coach engines started, Jules in the black-striped coach leading the way out the door.

To be continued….

 

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