Bug Out! California Part 74 – Dodge City

After about an hour of watching, Trevor and Kaylee left the Battle Wagon and joined the others, who were working body disposal around the grounds of the big house. There was a huge bonfire going in the middle of the yard, and bodies were being thrown into it. The smell was bad.

“Where’s Ji-Ho?” Sam asked as they walked up.

“He was behind us, but got a phone call. He’ll be along.”

Seth and Kaitlyn rushed over.

“That mini-gun is frigging awesome,” Seth said.

“It’s scary,” Kaitlyn said. “That sound.”

Sid and Yvonne joined them, then Garrett.

“We’re in your debt,” Trevor said to Garrett.

“Likewise,” Garrett said.

“Where are we going now?” Kaylee asked. “We can’t stay here, can we?”

“You could join us in Dodge City,” Garrett said, a grin on his face.

“That’s that western town you guys have, I suspect?” Seth asked.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Is it safer than here?” Kaylee asked.

“Well, that’s where most of our people are at any given time,” Garrett said. “We haven’t been attacked there, but I don’t doubt that the enemy knows where it is.”

“Do you guys have any idea where the enemy base is?” Sid asked. “Maybe we ought to do a preemptive strike.”

“That didn’t work out so well last time,” Yvonne said. “It was almost the death of us. We lost most of our force, remember?”

“We’ve seen decreasing attacks,” Garrett said. “I think the numbers of these folks are dwindling, frankly. This might have been their last gasp.”

“I’ll believe that when the war is over,” Sid said. “These folks have an uncanny way of coming out of the woodwork.”

Sam walked over. “Nice job on that mini-gun, Trevor.”

“Nice job firing that M60 at a full run,” Trevor said. “Kaitlyn, you always amaze me too.”

“I was scared to death at first,” Kaitlyn said, “but once my blood gets up, I can’t stop myself.”

“Well, you certainly scared me to death,” Seth said.

“You had my back with that big machine gun of yours,” she said.

“Yeah, an M60 is a handy thing to have,” Sam said. “What now?”

“We were just starting to talk about that,” Sid said. “We’re wondering if it’s safe to stay here.”

Sam chuckled. “It might be the safest place in California at the moment.”

Yvonne shook her head. “I don’t want to sleep with one eye open every night.”

“We’ll have that problem just about anywhere,” Seth said.

“Pretty much,” Trevor said. “If the enemy can bring in more people again and again, they’ll eventually give us a real problem.”

“They did, remember?” Kaitlyn asked. “Most of my people are dead.”

“Yeah, Julian was a real mess,” Sam said. “We need to remember what it’s like when things go wrong. We shouldn’t be over-confident, all kidding on the side.”

“You guys have a lot of resources,” Garrett said. “Who’s funding you?”

“Ivan the Butcher,” Sam said.

“No, really? I like his style.”

“I think he’s a nut,” Sid said, “but don’t get me wrong. I’m glad he’s our nut.”

Yvonne sighed. “We’ve been chased all over this county. They destroyed our homes and killed most of our friends.”

“The RV park,” Garrett said. “They’ve paid for that many times over.”

“I know, but it doesn’t make me feel better,” Yvonne said. “I’m just tired and scared.”

“Don’t submit to that,” Sam said. “We can’t. Connie wouldn’t want us to. Either would the others we’ve lost.”

“That’s the first time I’ve seen you mention her without crying,” Sid said.

“Time heals wounds,” Sam said. “I still think about her all the time.”

“Hopefully the anger has settled a little,” Yvonne said. “I was really worried about you.”

“I know,” Sam said. “You have a good heart, Yvonne.”

“So, what’s the verdict?” Sid asked. “Are we gonna stay here?”

“I invited your group to Dodge City,” Garrett said. “It’s been safe so far, and the bulk of our force is there all the time. We had another four hundred there while this battle was going on.”

“Four hundred men, huh?” Sam asked. “That’s sizeable.”

“You bet your ass,” Garrett said. “We’ve got extra horses, guns, and a huge amount of ammo there.”

“Black powder ammo, though, right?” Sid asked.

“Yep,” he said. “Smokeless powder is damn hard to find.”

“Some of our guns could use black powder, though, right?” Yvonne said.

Trevor laughed. “Some of them could, but we’d be cleaning them a whole lot more often.”

“True that,” Garrett said.

“Which of our guns wouldn’t work?” Yvonne asked.

“The automatics,” Trevor said. “Black powder is less powerful. It wouldn’t run the actions on modern auto-loaders.”

“Yeah, they’d get gummed up even if they would work,” Sam said. “It would work fine in your Winchesters, though. Reduced power, but with those big .44 caliber bullets, they’d still pack plenty of punch.”

“Yeah, more than my old 44-40,” Garrett said.

“We’ve got a lot of ammo,” Sid said. “Why’d you have so much hidden at the park, Sam?”

“We’re in California,” Sam said, “and I didn’t like the way things had been going politically over the last ten years. I was afraid something like this was going to happen.”

“Damn Governor Sable,” Garrett said.

“He turned out to be a hero in the end,” Yvonne said.

Garrett chuckled. “Yeah, he helped the last couple cows out of the barn after he started the fire.”

“I’m not getting into this one,” Sam said, shaking his head.

“Here comes Ji-Ho,” Trevor said. “He’s got a big grin on his face.”

“Good, I was worried about him earlier,” Kaylee said.

“What are you so happy about?” Sid asked.

“Just hear from Ivan,” he said.

“Oh, that’s who called you?” Trevor asked.

“Yes,” Ji-Ho said. “Where we go now. Need location.”

“Why?” Garrett asked.

“For delivery,” Ji-Ho said. “We get six more Battle Wagons in three day.”

“Holy crap, six more of those beasts?” Garrett asked, a smile washing over his face. “How?”

“Build. I ask for an additional ten. He agreed to six more.”

“So we’ll have thirteen of those things when he’s done?” Sid asked. “How about ammo?”

“Ammo provided too,” Ji-Ho said. “Plus automated reload equipment.”

“Hey, Garrett, think we could drive these suckers back to Dodge City?” Sam asked.

“That might be a little tough,” Garrett said. “Plus there’s no electricity out there other than a couple of generators, and we need those to keep our electronics charged up. Maybe you guys ought to stay here.”

“That might be workable with this many Battle Wagons,” Sam said. “I suspect we won’t just be sitting here with them, though.”

Ji-Ho smiled. “No, we take battle to enemy, destroy them in this county and Imperial County, then start moving north. Ivan want meeting with Garrett’s group to talk partnership.”

Garrett chuckled. “That sounds interesting. We’d need to have others on our council involved in the meeting, though.”

“Yes yes, no problem,” Ji-Ho said. “I tell to deliver here.”

“Sounds good,” Sam said. They watched as Ji-Ho headed back to his rig.

“This is bitchen,” Seth said.

“Those things aren’t totally indestructible, and we’re going to take them into battle,” Sid said. “Don’t forget that.”


“Your dad is a hero of the rebellion?” Gil asked.

“Not so loud,” Robbie said.

“What’s the matter?” Tisha asked.

“This isn’t safe for him,” Morgan said.

“I trust Ted,” Robbie said. “Not so sure about Jules.”

Ted came out into the living room and headed right for the group.

“Robbie, let’s talk,” he said.

“Can I listen?” Morgan asked.

“Your call, kid,” Ted said.

“She’s my whole life,” Robbie said. “I want her to hear it.”

“Okay,” Ted said. He ushered them into the formal dining room and shut the door. They took seats at the table.

“Okay, Robbie, we got Ivan to agree that you will not be harmed, provided that if you get captured, we agree to rescue you or kill you.”

“Kill him?” Morgan asked, eyes wide.

“I think they mean if they can only blow up the location I’m being held in, that’s what will happen. If it protects my dad, I’m fine with it. Especially now that I know how important he is.”

“Oh,” Morgan said. “Okay, I get it. Can we trust Jules?”

“I think so, but I’ll keep my eyes open,” Ted said. “We’ve got Sparky and Tex on our side, too.”

“Did Ivan want to kill me?” Robbie asked.

“He didn’t say that’s what he desired, but it was something he thought was on the table.”

“I don’t like the sound of that,” Morgan said.

“I can handle Jules,” Ted said. “If anything happens to Tex, Sparky, or me, head for the hills. If Mr. Black and Mr. White show up, head for the hills. Understand?”

“I understand,” Robbie said. “Did you find out any more about my folks?”

“Nothing beyond what you probably know already,” Ted said.

“I don’t know jack,” Robbie said.

“They’ve been chased from one location to another, but they have a strong group with them,” Ted said. “They probably won’t be in Utah for long.”

“Where would they go from there?”

“Probably Colorado,” Ted said. “If I were you, I wouldn’t start doing searches about them. Bad people might see it.”

“Yeah, I agree,” Robbie said. “It’ll be tough, but I’ll stay off that.”

“Good,” Ted said. “We’re leaving tonight. Spread the word to your friends. We’re not going to hold a big meeting about it. It’ll be like last time – we’ll stagger our departures so we don’t go out in a clump.”

“Where are we going to meet?” Morgan asked.

“Portola Valley,” Ted said. “Ivan has an associate with a place similar to this, on the outskirts. We’ll text out the address on the road.”

“What then?” Robbie asked.

“There’s a huge enemy base just south of San Francisco,” Ted said. “We aren’t telling everybody exactly where it is. We’re going to attack there. We’ll be joined by others Ivan has in place.”

“Good,” Robbie said.

“Don’t flee,” Ted said, looking Robbie in the eye. “If you do, Ivan’s people will hunt you down. You don’t want that. Understand?”

“How are you going to hold Ivan to his word?” Morgan asked.

“I’ve already had a brief conversation with somebody who Ivan’s scared of,” Ted said. “Don’t say anything about it. Understand?”

“Who?” Robbie asked.

“Two rather colorful gentlemen who used to show up at my place,” Ted said. He got up. “Go let Gil and Justin know about our departure plans. The first rig leaves at 4:30. You’ll each be given a number denoting when you leave.”

“Thanks, boss,” Robbie said. “I appreciate it. Really.”

“I know, kid,” he said. “Don’t worry. You’ll get through this, and as soon as your father’s work is released, there will be no reason to worry. Probably won’t be too long.”

Ted left the room, leaving the door open.

“I don’t like this,” Morgan whispered. “Do you know who he was talking about?”

“George and Malcolm,” Robbie said softly. “I wouldn’t want those two after me either. That makes me feel a little better.”

“Well, that makes one of us,” Morgan said. “If they take you out, I don’t really care about the revenge.”

“It’s deterrence,” Robbie said. “It’ll be okay. Just remember what Ted said. We need to keep our eyes open. Let’s go talk to Gil and Justin. Don’t tell them the worst parts of this, okay?”

“Okay,” she said. They got up and went into the living room.

“Well?” Gil asked.

“It’s gonna be okay,” Robbie said.

“You sure?”

“Yeah, man, I’m sure,” Robbie said. “Seen Justin and Katie? I’ve got some marching orders for us. We’re leaving tonight.”

“Yeah, they’re still in the kitchen. I’ll go get them.” Gil got up and rushed out of the room, bringing Justin and Katie back.

“What’s up?” Justin asked.

“We’re leaving tonight,” Robbie said. “Ted asked me to tell you guys. They’re spreading the word quietly.”

“Where are we going?” Katie asked.

“Portola Valley,” Robbie said. “Sounds like we’re meeting in a place like this. We’ll attack an enemy base just south of Frisco afterwards.”

“Maybe we should take naps,” Tisha said.

“That’s not a bad idea,” Morgan said. “We should go get our rigs together and take some shut-eye.”

“What time are we leaving?” Justin asked.

“First rig leaves at 4:30. We’ll get numbers for the order. It’ll be staggered again so we don’t raise any attention.”

“Good,” Gil said.

“Everything okay?” Justin asked eyeing Robbie.

“Yeah,” Robbie said. “Ever hear anything from Steve and Colleen?”

“Not a word,” Justin said.

“I’m so worried,” Katie said. “When this is over I want to go find them.”

“It must be so hard,” Morgan said. “I’d be scared to death if it was my brother.”

“It’s tough,” Katie said, eyes tearing up.

“Steve’s resourceful,” Gil said. “Don’t count him out just yet.”

“Oh, I’m not counting him out,” Robbie said. “Not for a moment. I agree with Katie. When we get a break, we need to find him.”

“Wonder when we’ll get a break?” Katie asked.

“We’ve got San Francisco and Sacramento to conquer,” Gil said.

“Conquer?” Justin asked.

“From what I’ve seen online, there are still a lot of extreme leftists up there who are okay with what the UN is doing,” Gil said.

“Seriously?” Morgan asked. “They must be stupid. What do they say when their wives, daughters, and girlfriends get kidnapped and taken to the rape mills?”

Robbie leaned back in his chair, a look of anger and resolve on his face. “This is why we fight.”

“Yes, it is,” Tisha said. “We need to kill as many of these UN bastards as possible.”

“Here here,” Gil said.

Justin looked at the others with worry. “I agree, but we need to keep our humanity while we’re taking our society back. The world will go back to normal eventually. We need it to be a compassionate world.”

Robbie nodded. “Let’s go to our rig, sweetie.”

Morgan nodded, and the whole group got up and left the room.


“We leave tonight,” Jules said to Shelly as she finished cleaning up the kitchen. “Thank you for nice job this morning.”

She turned and eyed him. “Where are we going?”

“Portola Valley. Another estate owned by friend of Ivan.”

She set down the towel and walked over. “I’ll take the job.”

“Producer job? Very good. I hoped.”

“That doesn’t mean you get me,” she said. “Do you understand that?”

“Yes, I understand,” Jules said. “I still like you. I still pursue. I can take no for answer. Understand that?”

“Will you make it uncomfortable for me?”

“No, never,” Jules said. “Promise.”

She sighed. “I guess I can’t ask for more than that. Want some coffee before I shut down the machine?”

“No thanks, I need to take nap before we leave.”

“Oh,” she said. “You’re right. I should too.”

“I wait for you,” Jules said.

She looked at him and shook her head.

“Hey, not that,” he said. “When you’re done here, I lock up. You understand, no?”

“Oh,” she said. “Sorry. Why don’t you make a sweep while I finish up in here?”

“I do,” Jules said, walking away, Shelly watching him. When he was out of sight she picked up the big coffee pot and moved it towards the sink, taking out the grounds and dumping the leftover coffee. Jules came back when she was rinsing it out.

“I stripped bed I used. Where you sleep?”

“Just on the couch,” she said. “I used that throw blanket.”

“Oh,” Jules said. “Then we ready when you’re done. Need help?”

“You can lift this coffee pot for me,” she said as she finished drying off the pieces. “It was in the big cupboard next to the dishwasher.”

Jules nodded and approached, his heart fluttering as he was next to her, afraid to look. He picked up the large coffee pot and put it away.

“That all?” he asked.

“Yes, I think so,” she said.

They left the house, Jules setting the alarm and locking the doors.

“Are Sparky and Dana already inside the coach?” Jules asked as they walked.

“I haven’t seen them since breakfast. Dana has a real case on Sparky.”

“I hear,” Jules said.

“Is he okay with it? He seems a little luke warm.”

“Sparky like, but cautious. Better if Dana not push too hard.”

“Do you want me to tell her that?” Shelly asked, looking at him, his gaze making her nervous.

“Couples should work out on their own, no?” he said. “Not our business.”

They got to the door. Shelly leaned forward and knocked.

“Come in,” Dana’s muffled voice said.

Jules reached up and opened the door, and they climbed the steps and entered.

“Sparky not here?” Jules asked.

“He’s off talking with Tex, Cody, and Jordan,” Dana said. “He’ll be along. Ted already told him about the plan. I think they’re passing out those numbers.”

“Oh, good,” Jules said. “Take nap?”

“Sparky and I both slept a little while ago,” Dana said. “You two can have the bedroom. We didn’t use it. We slept out here.”

“I thought I told you guys to take it,” Shelly said.

“Sparky wouldn’t, said it belonged to the boss,” Dana said. “We shared the couch bed. It’s comfortable, and there’s a curtain.”

“Well, that fine, I go sleep. Shelly, welcome to join, or sleep out here. Dinette makes nice bed.”

“You go ahead,” Shelly said.

Jules nodded and left the salon.

“Well?” Dana asked.

“Well what?” Shelly asked, plopping down in the recliner opposite the couch.

Dana giggled. “You still playing hard to get?”

“Oh, please,” she said. “You think everybody riding together are paired off?”

“Sorry,” Dana said, worried at Shelly’s expression. “He didn’t mess with you last night, did he?”

“Nope,” she said. “He’s a gentleman, I’ll give him that. He’s still flirting. Said he’ll still pursue me. He gave me the management job.”

“No strings, I’m sure, knowing you.”

“Damn right no strings,” she said. “What’s going on with Sparky?”

“I’m having a hard time getting him interested,” Dana said. “He did sleep with me in this thing last night, but he wouldn’t do anything.”

“Maybe it’s good to take it slow,” Shelly said. “We’ve just been through hell. A sexual fling right now isn’t a great idea for any of us.”

“I’ll try to take that attitude,” Dana said. “Hell, I have no choice about that. I’m extremely attracted to him, though. Kinda like Jules is with you.”

Shelly shook her head. “Yeah, I know that look. He scares me too much.”

“Too European?” Dana asked.

“No, too much of a mobster,” Shelly said. “I’ll try the dinette bed.”

To be continued…


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