Bugout! California Part 85 – Pepperment Schnapps

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Karen walked past the huge warehouse, feeling a little guilty about her comment to Tex. Why do I get like that? The voices of the group got softer as she neared the back end of the warehouse. Beyond it was a formal garden, beautifully maintained, with strings of lights crisscrossing it above. The house was not a mansion like the last place. It looked more like a large ground-keeper’s house. The lights were on, the front door open, screen door closed. A matronly woman in a maid’s uniform saw her coming up the pathway and held the screen door open for her.

“Welcome,” she said. “Are you hungry, or will you be spending the night here?”

“Sleeping,” Karen said, trying to force a smile. “I’m tired. Could you point me to the bedroom I’m supposed to use?”

“They’re in the back section of the house, through the foyer and the living room,” the woman said. “Take your pick.” She spoke with a slight accent which Karen couldn’t quite place. Eastern European, or Russian.

“This place doesn’t look big enough for a maid,” Karen said.

The woman chuckled. “I work in the public part of the winery. The big house is used as a Bed and Breakfast. Over the hill and down about half a mile. I’m Anna.”

“Karen,” she said, heading to the bedrooms. She went down a small hallway, two doors along the right side, one on the other. She opened the door on the left side. Figures. The room was beautifully furnished, but had a single king-sized bed, on the middle of the back wall. At least it’s a king.

“Does this work for you?” Anna asked, startling Karen from behind.

“They all have just one bed?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so. If there weren’t two other couples coming in, you could have one to yourself. I’m sorry.”

Karen sighed. “No problem. It’s only for one night.” She went through the door and shut it. Dammit. He’s going to win. She smiled to herself, then shook her head and turned back the covers on the left side. Suddenly she was so tired that she could barely stand. She laid down, clothes still on, and drifted off to sleep.

She was led down the stark hallway, florescent lights above, papers and trash littering the floor, her bare feet filthy under her. The hand was on her upper arm from behind, pushing her along.

“Hurry or we hit you,” the German-accented voice said behind her, gruff and wicked.

“You’ll hit me anyway,” she said, so soft that the guard couldn’t hear her.

“What did you say?” the guard asked, his hand tightening on her arm, hurting her.

“I said yes sir,” she whispered.

The man slapped her cheek from behind, the pain radiating through her jaw and neck. “I didn’t hear you.”

“I said yes sir,” she said louder, forcing back the urge to say more.

They got to the door of the interrogation room. The guard opened it and pushed her inside. The room was filthy, with several cheap plastic chairs around a mattress on the floor. Three men were sitting in the room, drinking and smiling. The smell of peppermint Schnapps wafted towards her. “Damn Germans,” she thought to herself.

“This one again?” one of the men asked. He was small and frail-looking with thick glasses. “She just checks out. Never engages.”

“We’ll fix that,” a larger man said, walking towards her with the bottle of Schnapps. “Hold her.” The small man and a third man grabbed her arms. She didn’t struggle. That was a lesson she learned fast.

“Wait, let’s get her robe off first,” the small man said. “Her body is her best feature.” They pulled the robe off her shoulders and tossed it aside. Karen didn’t even try to cover herself anymore.

The guard shook his head and chuckled. “Have fun.” He left, closing the metal door behind him.

“You got her?” asked the man with the bottle.

“Yes, but she knows better than to fight us,” the small man said.

The men snickered. The man with the bottle grabbed her nose, forcing her mouth open. Then he poured the Schnapps into her mouth, gagging her as she tried to breathe, the intense peppermint making her feel queasy and faint.

“Swallow,” the small man said, smacking her butt hard. She was so numb she could hardly feel it. He hit her again and she swallowed the awful thick liquid, bending her head down and coughing hard.

“More,” the man with the bottle said, wrenching her head back up, putting the bottle back to her lips. She forced her mind elsewhere as she felt her mouth filling with peppermint again.

Karen woke up in a start, her body hot and sweaty.

“Are you okay?” Tex asked as he slipped under the covers.

“Oh, Tex,” she sobbed, moving against him, crying hard as he held her.

“It’s okay, little lady,” he whispered, holding her tight. “You’re safe. I won’t let them hurt you ever again. I promise.” He kissed her forehead tenderly. She drifted back to sleep in his arms.

Morning came too fast. Karen woke up, still close to Tex, still in her clothes, hot and sweaty. The dream came crashing back into her head and she cried softly, shaking just enough to wake Tex.

“Oh, darling, you’re having such a hard time, aren’t you?” he asked, his eyes still heavy from sleep. He touched her hair, moving closer to her face, wiping the tears away. They locked eyes for what seemed like forever. She didn’t want to look away. Not now. She cuddled up against him.

“Thank you,” she whispered. “I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t say that,” Tex said softly. “You’re having a harder time with this than I thought. Don’t worry. You’re safe with me, and I won’t push you anymore. Okay?”

She nodded her head yes and settled against him, drifting off to sleep again. When she woke, he was gone. She felt next to her with her hand, not finding him, and then opened her eyes. He was sitting in a chair next to the window to the left of the bed, reading a book.

“You’re awake,” he said, setting the book down on the table next to the chair.

“What time is it?”

“Almost noon,” Tex said.

“Crap,” she said, sitting up.

“Hey, what’s the problem? You didn’t get to bed until nearly three, and you didn’t have an easy time. I came in at nearly four.”

“Oh,” she said, sitting up. “I feel grimy. Wonder if there’s a shower behind that door there?” She pointed to the door on the right side of the bed.

“Yep, bathroom and shower. No tub. There’s soap and shampoo in there.”

“Thank God,” she said, getting out of bed, starting to stumble.

“You okay?” he asked, bounding towards her, catching her before she fell.

“Too much sleep after days of not enough,” she said. “My body doesn’t want to wake yet, I guess.”

Tex chuckled. “Understandable.”

“I suppose,” she said, moving away from his embrace.

“Sorry,” he said.

She looked at him, then moved closer and kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you for last night. Really.”

“Thank you,” he said.

“For what?”

“Being you,” he said, eyes misting.

She felt the dizziness coming back and steadied herself against him for a moment. “Whoa.”

“Take your time,” he said. “Maybe you should sit for a few minutes before trying to take a shower.”

“Maybe so,” she said, taking the chair next to the one he was reading in. He sat back down and studied her for a moment.

“Don’t worry about me,” she said. “I’ll be okay.”

“What was the dream about?”

“Guess,” she said, looking down. “It didn’t come back, though, after I woke up. I think you might have helped. I’m sorry I’ve been such a bitch. You don’t deserve it.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Tex said. “Just get better. You’re away from them now, and we’re fighting them. You have your power back.”

“It doesn’t feel like that,” she said softly.

“Don’t worry, it will,” he said.

“How do you know?”

“You’re strong,” he said. “You’ll overcome this.”

“Hope you’re right,” she said. “I think I can get up now. I’ll feel better after a shower. Being filthy isn’t helping.”

“Oh, that reminds me. Here.” He picked up a bag and handed it to her.

“What’s this?” she asked.

“Clean clothes,” Tex said. “Nothing fabulous, but it’s better than putting the dirty stuff back on.”

“Where did you get them?”

“Jules ordered them when we were on the way. For us men too. Things were getting a little ripe.”

She looked in the bag. “These will be fine. Jules is a nice man, isn’t he?”

“He is,” Tex said.

“Think he told Shelly what he does yet?”

“I don’t know, but don’t you tell her, okay? I slipped him a hint last night. He might not be ready for her to know that yet.”

“Why?”

“There’s a lot of good things about being wealthy, but relationships with women can be tough. If you want them for a long-term relationship, that is.”

“He wants that with Shelly, doesn’t he?”

“I’ve never seen him so infatuated with a woman before, so I think the answer is yes.”

“Then maybe he should just be honest.”

“Don’t worry, little lady, he’ll get around to that when he feels comfortable enough.”

She nodded, then turned and went into the bathroom with her bag of clothes, setting them down on the granite sink counter. The lights were already on, and the room steamy from Tex’s shower. The stall was nice, travertine with high-end fixtures. She turned on the hot water, then closed the shower door and undressed, watching herself in the big mirror over the sink. How could he want this? Bruises, some very large and still almost black, and cigarette burns on her thighs, hips, and breasts. Shame filled her head, and she cried, turning from the mirror.

“You okay in there, little lady?” Tex asked from outside the door.

“I’m fine,” she said. “I’ll be out in a few minutes.”

The shower water was warm enough. She adjusted it slightly and got in, the hard stream washing away some of her tension. The bruised parts still hurt when she scrubbed, but not as bad as they did last time she had a shower. After she shampooed and soaped off, she stood under the warm running water and cried again. Pull yourself together.

Tex was still sitting in his reading chair when she came out, brushing her hair, wearing the trim t-shirt and white pants.

“Feel human again, little lady?”

She nodded yes, eyes tearing up again.

“Oh, honey,” Tex said, rushing to her side, taking her into his arms. She stiffened, but then settled into him, sobbing on his shoulder as he patted her on the back. “It’s okay.”

She backed up. “It’s not okay. You should see me. I’m all bruised and battered. Some of it may never go away.”

“They were really rough on you, weren’t they?”

“I wouldn’t give in until they started forcing booze down my throat. Then I was so numb that I didn’t care anymore, but I still wouldn’t give them what they wanted. They hit me for it, and cut me, and burned me with cigarettes. I look just awful.”

“You were strong,” he said. “You fought them. That’s something to be proud of.”

“I hope I feel that way about it someday,” she whispered, breaking the embrace. “Are you hungry?”

“Famished,” he said. “Ready to go eat?”

“You could’ve already.”

“I was waiting for you,” he said.

“Why?”

“Because that’s how civilized people act,” Tex said. “C’mon.”

They left the bedroom.

***

They’d been walking for several hours. Sam felt it in his thighs and calves. His hand was sore from carrying his M-16. He felt plodding and clumsy next to the graceful Erica. They made small talk on the first part of the walk, but the grade got tough, and the climbing over rocks. Shortness of breath made talking harder, so they stopped chatting for a while. The people walking in front of them were slowing down.

“Time for a rest?” Sam asked.

Erica turned to him and smiled. “There’s a creek ahead with a pool, like the one by the ghost town. No waterfall, though.”

“And hopefully no enemy fighters,” Sam said. “I’m so out of shape.”

She chuckled. “You won’t be by the time we’re done with this trek.”

“Hopefully we can get picked up for the last part of the journey,” Sam said. “The Jeeps and that crazy contraption that Ed’s in ought to be almost to the highway.”

“Ed will be back here,” Erica said. “He goes ahead in the hovercraft to scout. Then he gets behind us and uses it to blow away our footprints in the dirt. He won’t go to town before we can get there.”

“That’s why there were no tracks leading away from that other location.”

“Yes,” she said.

“Those things aren’t that good on a highway. Probably not even street legal. We might have to load it into a truck or something when we get to highway 94.”

She chuckled. “As if anybody would care in this world. Don’t worry. He’ll probably follow a route alongside the road. That’s what he did coming down from Barrett Lake.”

“Makes sense,” he said as they neared the water.

“Fair warning – there will be some skinny dipping at the pool,” Erica said. “Hope that doesn’t embarrass you too much.”

“Skinny-dipping?”

“When we’re on the trail we bathe this way,” she said. “There’s nothing sexual about it, but outsiders get a little taken aback. It feels so good to cool down and get some of the trail dust off.”

“Hey, I’m pretty easy going about that kinda stuff.”

“Uh huh,” she said, grinning at him as they got to the water’s edge. There were a lot of people in the water before them, obviously naked but not seeming to notice amongst themselves. Sam looked at them.

“See, it’s not bothering me,” he said, turning back to her. She already had her top off, and was taking off her pants. “Coming? Sorry to take the mystique away, but I’m hot.”

Sam chuckled and shrugged, then undressed and followed her into the water. “Okay, this feels good.”

“Told you.” She dunked her head under the water, coming back up with her shiny black hair wet. Sam did the same, shaking when he came back up, the cool water taking a lot of the soreness and tension away in seconds.

“So, were we gonna skinny dip at the pool last night?” Sam asked

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” she said. “If we did, it might have turned into more than skinny dipping.”

“I told you I’m not quite ready for that yet.”

“I saw how you looked at me just now,” she said softly. “I like the way you look too.”

People were starting to leave the pool.

“Appears to be time to go,” Sam said.

“Yes,” she said. “Look the other way. That’s not considered polite.”

“They show when they’re getting in,” Sam said.

“Yes, but that’s when they’re getting in.” She giggled at him. “You can look at me when we’re getting out. Just not at everybody else. Avert your eyes from them and you’ll be considered polite.”

“Okay,” he said. They waded for the beach. “Wish we could stay in here longer.”

“Me too,” she said, walking out of the water. Sam took in her naked back, trying not to let it affect him. She turned and looked him up and down. “I’m impressed.”

“Impressed?”

“Self-control…you know what I mean,” she said, bending down to pick up her clothes. They got dressed quickly, and were back on the trail again.

“Nobody complains about this,” Sam said.

“To the young it’s an adventure,” Erica said. “Luckily they don’t really understand how much danger we’re in. The old won’t ruin it for the young by complaining about it.”

“You have a nice culture,” Sam said.

“I think so,” she said. “That’s why I haven’t left the reservation. It’s a comfortable way to live.”

“Smell that?” Sam asked, freezing and looking around.

“Yes,” she said. “Fire.”

“You think some of the people are setting up camp already?”

“No,” Erica said. “It’s coming from the north.”

Sam whirled his head around. “Crap, they lit the ghost town on fire. Look at the smoke.”

“Bastards,” Erica said, turning around. “They have to erase everything that came before them. I remember what they did in Afghanistan.”

“The Buddhist monuments,” Sam said. “I remember. I saw what they did.”

“You were over there?”

“Yes,” Sam said.

“What was it like?”

“I’d rather not talk about it,” he said. “At least not yet.”

“Don’t know me well enough?”

“No offence, but yes, that’s why,” he said. “I get too emotional. Sometimes I even break down crying. I’m not ready for you to see that yet. Maybe I’ll never be ready for that.”

She put her hand on his shoulder. “I like men who can show emotion.”

He nodded, not wanting to go further with it. They climbed up to another ridge, and then the rock field was before them.

“Oh, yeah, this place,” Sam said.

“This was the part you didn’t like in the Jeep?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Stupid, I know.”

“You like to be in control,” she said. “Noticed that about you pretty quick. If you were used to driving Jeeps in that terrain, it would have been easier for you to traverse.”

Sam laughed. “You’re right about that. Sometimes I get a tad car-sick when I’m not driving on normal roads.”

“I have the same problem,” she said. “We’ll have to compromise on that a little, I think.”

He chuckled and shook his head. “You think we’re going to be together, don’t you?”

“No,” she said, stopping, looking into his eyes. “I know. I’ve already seen it.”

To be continued…

 

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Bugout! California Part 84 – Flight into the Back Country

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Sam was asleep in his tent, the breeze slowly swaying it. He could hear others around him, breathing, some snoring. Footsteps approached in the sand.

“You awake?” a woman’s voice whispered.

“Yeah,” Sam said. “Erica?”

“Yep,” she whispered. “Want to take a walk with me? I can’t sleep. You can’t either.”

“How did you know that?” Sam asked, unzipping his tent. He stuck his head out.

“You were breathing normally,” she said. “I’ll leave if you don’t want to come.”

“No, it’s fine,” Sam said. “Got to put my pants and shirt on, though.”

“I’ll wait, unless you need help.”

Sam chuckled. “No, I think I can handle it”

He emerged from the tent in the dim moonlight. She was standing, her long black hair blowing in the breeze.

“Hi,” she said, smiling at him.

“Didn’t expect to see you until tomorrow morning,” he said as he stood next to her.

“You expected to see me tomorrow?”

“You asked me not to leave without saying goodbye, remember?”

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “I didn’t think you’d take that seriously. Glad you did.”

“Where to?”

“There’s a water fall about a thousand yards down that path,” Erica said. “Nice place to sit and chat.”

“Lead the way,” he said.

They walked away from the tent area quietly, single file at the beginning of the path. It widened after a while, and Erica waited for Sam to get next to her.

“Why me?” Sam asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Ed said you’d want to meet me. So did Tyler.”

She giggled. “Yeah, I’ll bet. I don’t care what they think.”

“But you aren’t answering my question.”

“I was getting there,” she said, her eyes dancing with his.

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be silly,” she said. “We both lost our spouses suddenly. I don’t have anybody to talk to about that.”

“Oh, so that’s all it is?” Sam asked, sounding a little bit disappointed.

“I’m lonely, and I’ve heard you’re a very impressive man,” she said, “so don’t be disappointed.”

“As long as you don’t expect too much,” Sam said. “I don’t have that much to give right now. Not until this fight is over.”

“Fight? Oh, you mean this damn war.”

“Yeah,” Sam said.

“You in it for the duration?”

“I’m in it until Imperial County and eastern San Diego County are free of the UN and the Islamists,” Sam said. “I owe my fellow citizens that much.”

“How long do you think that will take?”

Sam glanced at her, then back ahead at the trail. “Hopefully not very long at all. I’m not enjoying this.”

“Good,” Erica said. “There’s a little bit of a grade here. We’ll have to walk single file for the rest of the way.”

Sam followed her down through some bushes, single file again, and the terrain started downhill quickly.

“Be careful here,” Erica said. “Loose rocks.”

Sam started to slip, stopping himself by grabbing a branch. “Yep, you’re not kidding.”

As they followed the trail, they could hear the water fall, very soft, but getting louder and louder.

“It’s pretty down here,” Sam said. “Even in the dark.”

“Wait until you see the pool,” she said. “It’s beautiful. I like to swim there.”

“It’s pretty cold, though, isn’t it?”

“Not this time of year,” she said. “We’re not in the mountains.”

“Where does the stream come from?”

“It’s spring-fed,” she said. “I can see it now. Look past me.”

“Oh, yeah, there it is,” Sam said, looking at it, a rough oval shape, bordered on one side by big rocks, with the water fall flowing over one of them. The side they were approaching was a small sandy bank. The sound of the rushing water was loud now.

“We’ll have to climb down here one at a time,” she said. “There’s another way up, so don’t worry about that. Wait until I tell you I’m down.”

She got on her butt and slid down, getting out of his sight. He waited. Nothing. A cold sweat broke out. Something’s wrong. He slid down slowly, trying to be silent. Erica was there, facing towards him, an Islamist pointing a rifle at her head. Before even thinking, he leapt onto the man’s back, grabbing his head and twisting it, a sickening crack sounding louder than the waterfall.

“Hey, what you do?” shouted another Islamist, who was next to a third. Sam grabbed the AK-47 out of the dead man’s hands and fired, killing both before they could react.

“Get down, and head into the bushes,” Sam said.

She grabbed one of the AK-47s from the other men and rushed away, Sam scanning the area before following her.

“Dammit,” Erica whispered as he got next to her. “Wonder how many others are around?”

“Good question,” Sam whispered back. “Didn’t see anybody else. We need to follow their tracks.” He pulled out his phone and sent a quick text.

“Who are you sending that too?” she whispered.

“Sid, Tyler, Ryan, and James. We’ve got M60s and a BAR in our Jeeps.”

“Hope they’re still there,” she whispered, scanning with him. “Where did you learn how to do that?”

“Special forces,” Sam said. “You know how to shoot the AK-47?”

“Yep,” she said. “I trained Kaitlyn.”

“Oh, really now?”

“Yeah,” she said. “Good, isn’t she?”

Sam’s phone buzzed him. He looked at it, trying to hide the shine of the screen with his hand. “They’re up, getting the weapons now, including the mortar we brought.”

“You guys have a mortar?” she asked. “Geez.”

“Wait till you see the battle wagons.”

“Battle wagons?”

“Later,” he said. “C’mon, let’s see if we can find some tracks. I want to see how many enemy fighters there are.”

She nodded, then stopped for a second and put her arm around his neck, pulling him in, kissing him tenderly.

“Wow, what was that for?” he asked.

“Saving my life,” she said. “Consider that a down payment.”

“You’re something,” he whispered. “Let’s go. Stay sharp.”

They got back onto the sandy bank. There were footsteps in the sand, leading off towards the north.

“They came in from the road to Barrett Lake,” Erica whispered. She noticed Sam wasn’t next to her anymore and looked back to see him taking ammo and grenades off the enemy fighters. “Oh, good idea.”

He caught up with her, and they followed the tracks, which led around the side of the rocks near the waterfall and over. Suddenly a shot rang out, hitting the rocks to their right.

“Hit the dirt,” Sam said. Erica already had, and was crawling up, AK in front of her, eye already on the sight.

“Looks like about ten,” she whispered. “Two trucks. Let’s nail the tires.”

“Yeah,” Sam said, crawling next to her. They opened fire, the trucks sagging downward as their tires exploded. There was yelling in Arabic below them, and a few more shots hit the ridge they were on. Erica opened fire, hitting several of them, Sam joining in. Then there was a much louder gun, full automatic fire.

“M60s,” Sam said, smiling at Erica.

After a few seconds there was silence.

“Let’s go down and check it out,” Erica said.

“Yeah, but be careful,” Sam said. They got up and headed over the ridge. Another shot rang out. Erica rolled onto the ground and fired from prone position, missing with the first shot, then hitting the enemy fighter square in the chest.

“I’m a little out of practice,” she said.

“Oh, please,” Sam said. They continued on. Tyler and Sid emerged from the cover to their left.

“How many?” Tyler asked.

“Three down by the pool,” Sam said. Looks like another nine here.”

“Twelve total,” Sid said. “Wonder if that’s all of them?”

“Let’s follow the tracks of that truck,” Erica said.

“Yeah,” Tyler said. “Nice shooting. I see you haven’t lost your stuff.”

“Seriously,” Sid said. “That drop and roll was nicely executed.”

“She trained Kaitlyn,” Sam said.

“And by the way, what were you doing by the pool?” Tyler asked. Sid snickered.

“Maybe they were gonna go skinny dipping,” he said.

“All right, knock it off,” Sam said. “We were gonna talk.”

“Uh huh,” Tyler said as they followed the tracks.

“How far is the highway from here?” Sam asked.

“Several miles,” Erica said. “Good dirt roads. Might be hard to find tracks as we get further. The surface gets harder.”

“You tell the tribe to pack up?” Sam asked.

“They’re working on it now,” Tyler said. “Those rifle shots were loud. Everybody woke up. We were on our way to the Jeeps already when we got your text.”

“Good,” Sam said. “We’re going to have to go back the way we came, or we’ll get killed on the highway. You guys know that, right?”

“Yeah,” Erica said. “It’s the way we came, you know.”

“I know you’re thrilled about that,” Sid said. He and Tyler chuckled.

“What?” Erica asked.

“I’m not into the whole rock climbing thing. Too much of a white-knuckle ride for me.”

“Then you can walk with me,” Erica said.

“It’s gonna take a few days to get back to the other location,” Tyler said. “And we still have the water problem.”

“Come back to Dulzura with us,” Sid said. “We’ve got room. It’s safer than here.”

“Where are you guys?” Erica asked.

“You know that estate on Dutchman Canyon road, off Highway 94?”

“The Williams place?” Erica asked. “How does old man Williams feel about that?”

“He’s dead, I’m afraid,” Sam said. “Killed by Islamists early on. We’ve taken the place over with some help from Garrett and his men.”

“Garrett,” Erica said. “Now there’s an interesting character.”

“I’m surprised we never met,” Sam said. “We know a lot of the same people.”

“Yeah, it’s weird,” she said. “Can’t see the tracks anymore.”

“Me neither,” Tyler said. “Maybe we ought to turn back.”

“Yeah, we need to get your people moving,” Sam said.

“The walkers are already moving,” Tyler said. “We told them to pack up and leave.”

“At least the enemy won’t be able to follow us in vehicles,” Sam said. “At least not in these trucks they have.”

“Hope they don’t have any Gaz Tigrs,” Sid said.

“Me too, but if they did, they would’ve been at the front of the line, not the back,” Sam said.

“Good point,” Tyler said.

“Okay, let’s go load up,” Sid said.

They walked back to camp.

“Do you really want to walk with me?” Erica said. “You don’t have to.”

“I’d like to,” he said. “You mind, Sid?”

“No, not at all. We can take three others in the Jeep then.”

“Hope we aren’t followed too quickly,” Tyler said. “The only way the enemy can follow us is on foot, if they’re in these kinds of trucks. Helps to have a head start.”

“How many of your people are armed?” Sam asked.

“All of them,” Tyler said.

“Good,” Sam said as they got back into the ghost town. The sea of tents was gone, and there was a stream of people walking south, past the open mine shaft. Ed saw them and rushed over.

“Don’t know what you two were doing at the pool,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, “but I’m glad you were there.”

“You would’ve taken them anyway,” Sam said. “There was only twelve.”

“We’ve been invited to their place in Dulzura,” Tyler said.

“It’s as much your place as it is ours,” Sid said. “Don’t forget that.”

“Think it will accommodate everybody?” Ed asked.

“It’s the old Williams ranch,” Tyler said. “It’ll take all of our people and then some.”

“Might eventually want to go to Dodge City, I suppose,” Sid said. “It’s a little less exposed.”

“What’s Dodge City?” Ed asked.

“Garrett’s place,” Sid said.

“Oh, yeah, heard about that,” Ed said. “That’s the place where they built a western town not to code, and the country made them pull it all down and rebuild it.”

Sid cracked up. “Yep. Heard that story.”

“I want to know how the hell the enemy found us,” Tyler said.

“You and me both,” Sam said. “We’re always thinking we’ve got these guys on the run, and then they do something we don’t expect them to be capable of.”

“That’s not very encouraging,” Erica said.

“It is what it is,” Ed said. “Guess we’re still in this fight.”

“Yep,” Tyler said. They prepared to leave.

***

Jules backed the big coach into the first spot, next to the huge warehouse. The other coaches followed suit. There were long, thick electrical cords on the ground behind the parking spots.

“Hookups for everybody, I see,” Shelly said, checking them out in her mirror.

“Yes,” he said. “All planned out. We all go into siege mode.”

“Expecting company?”

“No, but why take chance? We don’t need to, no?”

Shelly smiled. “You’re right, of course. Tex’s rig is getting the retrofit first?”

“Yes, he pull into warehouse. Huge shop. They work round clock. Ted’s coach also in first pair.”

“Where are they gonna sleep?” Shelly asked.

“Main house,” Jules said.

“Where are we gonna sleep?”

“In coach,” Jules said. “To man weapons in hurry if needed. Okay?”

She sighed at him. “Oh, I suppose. Can I trust you to behave?”

“Yes, you know. I did before.”

“Except sealing your body against mine naked, that is,” she said, smiling at him.

“Just cuddle,” he said. “That okay, no?”

“I need to get some pajamas.”

Jules chuckled, then hit the button to set the coach up into siege mode. “Don’t worry, I fall asleep fast tonight. It late. Both tired, no?”

“Yes, we’re both tired,” Shelly said. “Shall we go talk to the others?”

“Yes, ready,” Jules said, getting up. They left the coach together. “Let’s check warehouse.”

They walked over, waving to the others, some of them still backing in, others setting up siege mode. Light flooded out of the huge doors of the warehouse. Ted had just finished backing in. Tex was already outside his coach, standing next to Karen. Techs were working on their coach, pulling off the rear cover of the engine compartment.

“How drive?” Jules asked.

“Not bad, partner,” Tex said, walking up with Karen. “You?”

“Nice,” he said. “Right, Shelly?”

“Yes, it was fine,” she said. “I thought this place was further past the crash site. Almost seems like a shame that we waited.”

“No way,” Tex said. “We had to wait.”

“Why?” Karen asked.

Jules chuckled. “Some would see where we turn off.”

“Oh, crap, you’re right,” Karen said. “Sorry.”

“So, you guys are sleeping in the big house, huh?” Shelly asked. “Where is it?”

“Behind warehouse,” Jules said. “Not as big as last place.”

“Well, I’m beat,” Karen said. “I’m going there now, if that’s okay.”

“You go ahead,” Tex said. “I’ll catch up in a few minutes.”

“Don’t care,” she said, walking away.

“She still give you hard time, no?” Jules asked.

Shelly chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” Tex asked her. “You and Jules together yet?”

Shelly’s face turned red, but she smiled. “I guess I deserved that.”

“I’m just messing with you,” Tex said. “You do what you want to do, little lady. I know I’ve got a challenge with Karen, but I’m working it. Might just surprise you.”

“Oh, I expect you to get her eventually,” Shelly said. “Enjoy the beef jerky?” She turned and went back into the coach. Jules snickered.

“Wonder if she had something to do with that?” Tex asked.

Jules laughed. “These women outsmart us, no?”

“You might have a point there, partner,” Tex said. “When are you gonna tell her the truth?”

“What you mean?”

“Never mind. Already said too much.” He turned and started to head to the house.

“Wait!” Jules said. “What?”

He turned back to him. “I’ll give you a hint. Your occupation is important. Good night. Wish me luck.”

Jules smiled. Not ready yet. He shook his head and went into the coach.

“Sleepy?” he asked.

“I’m already in bed,” Shelly said from the bedroom.

“Okay, mind if I join?”

“It’s your bed,” she said.

“Yes, but I sleep out here if you want.”

She was silent for a moment.

“I sleep out here,” Jules said.

“No, it’s fine,” she said. “Just remember to be a gentleman, like before, okay?”

“Yes,” Jules said. He switched off the lights in the front of the coach and locked the door, then came in the bedroom. “Turn back unless you want to see.”

Shelly giggled. “Geez, look at us.” She turned on her side, facing away from him. He stripped off his clothes, turned out the lights, and slipped under the covers.

“You missed your chance,” she said.

“The lights? I be polite. You want that, no?”

“Yes, I want that,” she said. “What do you want?”

“You, but I understand.”

“Thank you,” she said. “What are you going to do after the war?”

“I don’t know,” Jules said. “You?”

“Same. I’ll have to start over. Had a decent career, but I’ve been gone so long. I don’t know if the team is still together.”

“They remember you,” Jules said. “They still want. Wait and see.”

“How could you know that?”

“I see your work. I’ll hire if they don’t.”

“Work for Ivan’s mob? You really think I’d do that?”

“You might be surprised what I do,” Jules said.

“I’d rather not find out,” she said. “This is fine. It’s war. I want to go back to a normal life after. A peaceful life.”

“You think I don’t want that?”

“You’ll still be in it,” she said. “The risky life. Don’t you get tired of that?”

“Yes, I work in cut throat business. Need best staff and best product. I like the competition. The striving for growth, for development of my team. What’s so bad?”

“You don’t see anything morally wrong with what you do?”

“No,” Jules said. “Can I cuddle? Cold.”

“Uh huh,” she said. “No hanky panky.”

“What’s hanky panky?”

She giggled. “You’re so European.”

“This bad?” he asked.

“Why do you want to cuddle?”

“I’m cold, and I like closeness to you,” Jules said. “I behave, remember?”

“Okay, Jules, you can lay against me,” she said softly, “just watch where you put your hands? Can you do that?”

“Yes, I do,” Jules said, moving over against her back, settling in. He moaned. “This nice.” His hand went to her hip. She grabbed it, pulling it against her belly. “Here okay. Not my butt. Or the other private spots. Understand?”

“Yes,” he said. “You like.”

“It is nice to be held,” she said, pushing back against him slightly. Her breath slowed, but she started to tremble a little.

“You cry?” Jules asked softly.

“Don’t worry about it. It’s the damn dreams. Every night. It helped being with you last night. Maybe it will help again, but I’m scared.”

“I’m here,” he said softly, turning her head to him. He kissed her lightly on the cheek. “You are a beautiful person. Good night. I be here. I protect you. Always.”

She drifted off, trying to believe him.

To be continued…

 

The Plan – How the Bugout! War Started is now available in the Kindle Store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 7 – Flood of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

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

 

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 2017

Bugout! California Part 83 – Los Gatos Vineyards

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Kaitlyn and Seth walked quietly into the big house and up the stairs. It was getting late. Seth opened the door for Kaitlyn, closing it behind them after they walked inside.

“Okay, Seth, I need you to tell me now that we’re alone. Are you really ready for this?”

“I wasn’t lying out there,” Seth said, his arms circling her waist, pulling her closer. They kissed, Kaitlyn breaking it before Seth was ready.

“Don’t change the subject,” she whispered. “Are you really ready? Do you really want me?”

“You can’t tell?”

“I think I can, but this is a big deal. It’s our whole lives. I don’t want to do this more than once.”

He kissed her forehead and then released her from his embrace. “Sit down. Let’s talk this out.”

She nodded and sat on the bed, Seth sitting next to her.

“Thanks,” she said.

“Are you having doubts?”

“I knew I wanted you the first time I laid eyes on you,” she said. “I keep waiting for my feelings to diminish, like they have with other men I’ve had relationships with.”

“That’s not happening, is it?”

“No, the opposite is happening,” she said. “It’s scary.”

“Why scary?”

She thought silently for a moment. “I feel out of control. Look how I blurted out that comment in front of Sam and the others.”

“That was cute,” Seth said. “The way you covered your mouth, and looked so worried.”

“I didn’t think it was cute. I thought it was embarrassing.”

“You know us guys like when women tip their hand like that,” Seth said. “It’s exciting.”

She looked into his eyes, searching. “What do you want. Really. No BS.”

He smiled calmly at her for a moment, taking in the beauty of her face, and her earnest look.

“C’mon,” she said.

“I want you in my life. Every day. I want to see you carrying my children. I want to raise them with you and settle down. I want that to start today.”

She looked at him through tears. “How do I know this isn’t just infatuation?”

He sighed, looking down, then back up at her face. “You’re just going to have to believe me for now. If you need more assurance than that, you’ll have to watch me over time. If you’re that worried about it, we can hold off with Tyler for a little while. Not too long, though.”

“Why, are you going to lose interest if we don’t move forward?”

He chuckled. “No, I’m just anxious, that’s all.”

“Anxious for what? You already have me in most ways. We’ve been kinda like bunnies since that first night at the motel.”

Seth smiled at her. “That was almost our last night.”

“Don’t remind me,” she said.

“You’ve known that I want you since before that,” Seth said. “I could tell by the way you looked at me.”

“How did I look at you?”

“Like my mom looked at my dad,” Seth said.

Kaitlyn’s face turned red, and she looked at him. “That’s it.”

“That’s what?”

“The way you look at me. I have you, don’t I?”

“Yes,” Seth said, “and I thought I had you, until this discussion started.”

“You think I don’t want you?”

“I didn’t say that,” Seth said. “I think you’re cautious about pulling the trigger so soon. That’s all.” He paused to look at her again.

“You’re going to say something else, but you’re not sure about it.”

“I know you want me,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind. We belong to each other. It’s clear as day to me, but I didn’t really realize it all the way until just now. It was wishful thinking before. Hoping.”

She leaned against him, on the verge of tears. “So, we should do it, then? You sure?”

“I’m sure,” Seth said. “I can’t wait, actually.”

“Why? Do you think things will change once we’ve gone through it?”

He smiled. “Yeah, I do, but I can’t put my finger on it.”

“I think I know,” she said. “We can start that now. We don’t need to go to the pharmacy after all.” She stood up and pulled her shirt over her head. Seth reached for her, his passion building fast.

“I was afraid you were going to back out,” Seth said.

“I was afraid you weren’t really ready,” she said as she undid her bra.

***

Sam and Sid followed Ed and Tyler back to the sheriff’s office. They went inside and sat back down.

“Well, what do you think?” Ed asked Sam.

“About what?”

“Erica,” Tyler said. He looked at Sid, and they snickered.

“She’s very nice and quite beautiful,” Sam said, “but I’m not ready. Not for a while.”

“What’s the verdict?” Sid asked.

“We’ll allow Tyler, Ryan, and James to go back with you guys,” Ed said. “They can bring their families if they so desire. That is their business.”

“There’s a but coming,” Sid said.

“We won’t commit more warriors to the fight,” Ed said. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Sam said. “I was going to suggest that anyway. Your people have given up enough. You need what warriors you have left to defend yourselves, until we can get the area really locked down.”

“Thank you for your understanding,” Ed said.

“Thank you for your fairness and your sacrifices up to now,” Sid said. “You will always be our brothers.”

“I hope we can spend time together once this is over,” Ed said.

“One other thing,” Tyler said. “If we run into trouble and need a place to hide out, all of you are welcome here with us.”

“Thanks for that,” Sid said. “That’s very generous.”

“You are welcome,” Ed said. “Now I’m tired. I’ll take my leave. Are you heading out tomorrow?”

“We’d like to,” Sam said.

“Good,” Ed said. “I’ll see you off in the morning then. Good night.”

He walked out of the office. Tyler looked at them.

“You guys okay with that?”

“Of course,” Sam said. “We never expected your people to ­­­send more warriors. The main reason for this trip was to check on them. Make sure they didn’t need help from us.”

“Exactly,” Sid said. “By the way, we gave Kaitlyn and Megan a heads up about Ed’s request.”

“And the guys too, I hope,” Tyler said.

“Yes, of course,” Sid said. “They were together when we discussed it with them.”

“Did they get upset?”

Sam chuckled. “Hardly.”

“Good, that’s how I figured it would go,” Tyler said. “I’m going to spend some quality time with my wife and family before we leave. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Are you bringing them?” Sid asked.

“I’m going to suggest they don’t come,” Tyler said. “I’ll have to promise to be back soon, but I want that anyway. My place is with my people.”

“I agree,” Sam said. “See you in the morning.”

Tyler nodded and left.

“Well, that’s that,” Sid said. “I’m happy about it.”

“Me too,” Sam said. “This is the outcome I hoped for. Finding them safe and sound, and leaving them here.”

“You still think this is a death trap, though, right?”

“Yes, but we’ve got the enemy on the run now,” Sam said. “They won’t last much longer.”

“Let’s hope not,” Sid said. “Joining up with these folks doesn’t sound half bad, you know.”

“I could think of worse things,” Sam said.

“So could Erica, I’m sure,” Sid said.

He looked over at her. “Okay, okay, I liked her. Maybe after all of this is over I’ll find her again. Don’t start telling everybody in our group about it, though, okay?”

“I won’t,” Sid said. “Let’s go to our tents and hit the sack. Tomorrow is gonna be a long day.”

***

Tex and Karen sat in chairs outside their rig, which was closest to the gate. They watched as Cody and Allison walked back from the highway, binoculars around their necks and M-16s in their hands.

“They gone, partner?” Tex asked.

“Yeah, finally,” Cody said. “Motorcycle went over the cliff. The guy walked away, believe it or not. Took them a long time to hoist the bike back up.”

“It’s almost midnight,” Allison said. “Not that I minded the company.”

Cody smiled at her, then looked at Tex. “We leaving tonight?”

“It’s not safe to stay here, is it?” Karen asked.

“No,” Tex said. “Go report to Jules, Cody. I suspect we’ll be leaving soon.”

Cody nodded. They walked off towards the other coaches.

Karen sighed. “Is everybody getting together in this group?”

“You have a problem with that, little lady?”

“Never mind. Forget I said it. I don’t want to get into one of those conversations again.”

“I thought you were getting to like me a little.”

“I am, a little,” she said. “It just feels like all of us are being pushed.”

Allison is the one who made the comment,” Tex said.

“I know. Like I said, I don’t want to start another one of those conversations with you.”

“Have it your way, little lady,” Tex said.

“Why do you call me that?”

“I call all women that,” Tex said. “Force of habit. Picked it up from my granddad.”

“Oh, brother,” she said. “It makes you sound like a hick.”

“It makes me sound like a Texan.”

“Same difference,” she quipped.

Tex laughed. “You’re going to be like this for our whole lives, aren’t you, little lady?”

She rolled her eyes.

“What, no comment?” Tex asked, grinning at her.

“That doesn’t deserve a comment,” she said, trying hard not to crack a smile.

Tex’s phone dinged. He looked at it. “Jules. We’re leaving now. Same order as before.”

“Good, then that’ll end this conversation,” Karen said, getting up out of her chair. Tex folded both chairs up and stashed them in the storage compartment as Karen went up the steps into the coach. Tex joined her there in a moment, and got behind the wheel. They watched Jules’s coach roll by slowly.

“There they go,” Tex said as he fired up the big diesel.

“Why is Shelly always riding shotgun?”

“Maybe she’s spotting for Jules,” Tex said.

“Sparky is in that rig too,” Karen said. “He could do that.”

“He’s probably playing house with Dana,” Tex said. “You see them together earlier? I’m surprised they weren’t holding hands.”

“Dammit,” Karen said. “That’s what I was talking about. There’s pressure. It’s not fair.”

“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do,” Tex said. “I’ve told you that over and over again.”

“But you keep trying.”

“Told you about that, too,” Tex said.

She shook her head. Tex pulled out into his spot, just ahead of Robbie’s coach. Soon they were back on the road, cruising around the curves.

“Is Shelly really getting closer to Jules?” Karen asked.

“Thought you didn’t want to talk about this stuff.”

“I was talking about us,” she said.

“Oh, there’s an us, now, is there? Excellent.”

“Dammit, that’s not what I meant, and you know it,” she said. “I’m just surprised that she seems to be coming around to him.”

“Sitting next to him and coming around are two different things,” Tex said. “Look where you’re sitting.”

“It’s not the same,” she said.

“Why not?”

“Because Sparky is in the coach too,” Karen said. If Ted or Cody were in this coach, they’d be riding shotgun.”

“Don’t be so sure. Maybe I want you up here.”

“Why?”

“You have a calming effect on me,” Tex said.

She laughed out loud. “I’ve been an exercise in frustration.”

“Do you see me reacting as if that’s the case?” Tex asked.

“Now we’re back in that conversation again.”

“You brought it up,” Tex said, glancing over at her.

“Watch the road.”

“You’re watching me,” Tex said. “Caught you.”

“Shut up,” she said. “I don’t think Jules is gonna get anywhere with Shelly, anyway.”

“And why is that? She say something to you, or are you just guessing?”

“I heard her and Dana talking,” Karen said.

“Eavesdropping, huh? That’s not nice.”

“No, it wasn’t like that,” she said. “We were all in the store at the gas station. It was hard not to hear what they were saying.”

“What were they saying?”

“Don’t say anything,” Karen said.

“My lips are sealed,” Tex said.

“They better be. She does like him, but she’s afraid of what he does for a living.”

“Oh, really,” Tex said. “What does she think he does for a living?”

“He works for Ivan’s mob,” Karen said.

Tex laughed hard, then looked over at her, then turned back to the road and laughed some more.

“What’s so funny?” Karen asked.

“Jules hasn’t worked for Ivan in years. Not since the days when Ivan was in Russia.”

“He didn’t work for him in the EU, before Ivan got kicked out?”

Tex shook his head no.

“Then why is he here?” Karen asked.

“He’s an enemy of the guy who is behind this war,” Tex said. “He joined Ivan to fight him.”

“Saladin?”

Tex chuckled. “Saladin is second in command. He’s like the attack dog, although he doesn’t know it. He’s not the leader, and he didn’t dream this thing up.”

“Then who did?”

“A Belgian man named Daan Mertins,” Tex said. “He’s one evil piece of crap. There’s been a nasty feud between Jules’s family and Daan’s family. It’s gone on for a lot of years.”

“How many years?”

“Oh, about four hundred,” Tex said.

“What?”

“Europeans are a little different than us folks here.”

“Okay, so what does Jules really do for a living?” Karen asked.

“His family owns a dairy business. A big dairy business.”

“No way,” Karen said.

“It’s the God’s honest truth.”

Karen snickered. “So he’s going back to the farm after this is over, then?”

“Jules is rich. He can go wherever he wants to,” Tex said.

“Crap,” Karen said. “If Jules mentioned that to Shelly, I suspect she’d change her opinion. I’d have another couple here to put pressure on me.”

Ted laughed. “Don’t you tell her. That’s up to Jules.”

Karen was silent for a moment. “Wait, if he wants her so badly, why doesn’t he tell her?”

“Maybe he wants to make sure she wants him, not the money,” Tex said. “He probably will go back to the family business. He’s the one who built it up as big as it is today.”

Karen was quiet again, thinking. “Okay, which of you guys do work for Ivan’s mob? You do, don’t you?”

“I never said that,” Tex said. “We’re old friends, and we’re fighting a common enemy. We part ways when it’s over. Same with Ted and Cody. The only person who works for Ivan is Sparky. Oh, and Mister White and Mister Black.”

“Who are they again?”

“Hit men, basically,” Tex said. “You’ve never met them. They helped us to rescue you ladies. They handled the operation inside the Armstrong Theater while we were in the tunnels heading for you.”

“He never planned to take any of us along on this, did he?”

“He didn’t know he’d be rescuing you guys until Sparky and I talked to him,” Tex said. “The folks you should be thanking are Morgan and Robbie. That’s the connection.”

“You knew Morgan, right?”

“Just barely,” Tex said. “I told you about what happened at the card club, right?”

“Oh yeah,” she said. “Morgan thinks you and Sparky walk on water, you know.”

“We both have a problem with thugs who abuse women.”

The convoy started to slow down.

“Oh, crap, what now?” Karen asked. She looked out the windows franticly, her red hair swaying.

“We’re probably there already,” Tex said.

“You mean to tell me that this place was only a few miles past that crash site?”

“Yeah,” Tex said. “Why are you mad about that?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” she said. “I’m just tired, I guess. I thought we had a lot more driving to do.”

“Don’t worry, there’s a few more miles after this turn coming up,” Tex said. “You’ll get to partake of my sparkling personality for a while yet.”

“Hardy har har,” she said. “I’m still going to be in this damn coach with you anyway.”

“Ours is getting retrofitted in the first pair,” Tex said. “We’re staying in the house. Oh, and by the way, they’re tearing out the bed and the floors in the bedroom and replacing it all.”

“Why?”

“So we can use it,” Tex said.

“You’d be okay with sleeping in there?”

“Yeah, after they’ve cleaned it out completely,” Tex said.

“Okay, I could see that, I guess.” She watched as Tex made the right turn, onto a long skinny road lined with trees on either side.

“You okay?”

“You’re supposed to be watching the road,” she said

“This is straight. Not as difficult as that last road. I can glance over some now.”

“Wonderful,” she said.

“You were going to ask me something. I see those gears in your head turning.”

“Oh, stop,” she said. “You can not.”

“You’re like an open book. Go ahead, ask.”

She looked over at him. “Damn you. I was gonna ask what you did for a living.”

“I mostly live off my investments,” he said. “How do you think I got time off to do all of this?”

“Wait, are you rich too?”

Tex laughed. “You mean like Jules? No, nothing like that.”

“Oh,” she said. “What will you do when this is over?”

“Probably follow you around.”

“Dammit, I was serious.”

He just stared back at her quietly.

“You’re impossible,” she said, her anger flaring.

“Why are you so mad? Do you wish I was rich like Jules?”

“No, of course not,” she said. “We’ve been thrown together. We’re spending all this time together, like it or not. I was curious, that’s all.”

“Uh huh,” he said. “I just told you.”

“Follow me around? You mean like a stocker?”

“Also explained that,” he said. “I’ll pursue you until I know you want me to go away.”

“You aren’t very perceptive, then.”

Tex chuckled. “Look, there’s the gate.”

She turned from glaring at him to the road ahead, watching the coaches go through the massive ornate gates. The sign said Los Gatos Vineyards.

“We’re going to a winery?”

Tex smiled at her. “Tough, I know. It’s a little more than a winery, of course.”

To be continued…

 

The Plan – How the Bugout! War Started is now available in the Kindle Store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 7 – Flood of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

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

 

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 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bugout! California Part 82 – Lights on the Dark Road

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Shelly watched the dark, scary road unfolding before the coach, glancing at Jules every few minutes, his concentration a comfort to her. When he glanced back at her, she looked away quickly. Stop that.

“How you do?” Jules asked. “Tired?”

“I’m fine,” she said. “You handle this coach well.”

“Others too,” Jules said. “I took lead to keep speed down. Not because good driver.”

“At least we’re next to the hillside going this direction, not that cliff. There’s not even a guard rail in some spots.”

Jules snickered. “It’s dark. That better, can’t see. That cliff is steep.”

“We’ve been on the road for almost an hour,” Shelly said. “How much further?”

“Two hour more,” he said.

“We’re going past Los Gatos, then?”

“No, we go roundabout way to get to Highway 17 corridor. Enemy base in industrial complex. Control for San Jose area and roads into San Francisco controlled by base. We ruin, then move up Highway 17, back to 101. Blow up Dumbarton and San Mateo bridges. Cut link between enemy bases.”

“What about San Francisco?” Shelly asked.

“Leadership elites of UN running things. We take out, with help from Ivan’s people. Blown bridges keep reinforcements from coming.”

Shelly sat quietly for a moment, thinking as she watched the road. “This took a lot of time to plan, didn’t it?”

“Yes,” Jules said. “Not agree totally with boss, but have to tow line, no?”

“What don’t you agree with?”

“UN slugs escape San Francisco by boat. Wait, see.”

“Oh,” she said. “Maybe Ivan has a plan to stop them.”

“Maybe yes,” Jules said. “I asked. He not say.”

“In case we get captured,” Shelly said, looking at him. He looked at her and shook his head yes.

“Don’t worry, we make it. Go on with lives. Maybe I win you over, no? We live happily ever after.” He looked at her again.

She shook her head. “Not now, Jules. Watch the road.”

He chuckled. “Not now better than no.”

“Oh, brother,” she said, a brief smile coming. She lost it before he looked over again. “How long are we staying in the next place? Just overnight?”

“Two or three night.”

“Why so long?” Shelly asked.

“Retrofit for coaches,” Jules said. “Boss made design team hurry and fabricate.”

“What are they doing?”

“Armor plate to cover engine compartment while driving, and armor plate on bottom of rig too.”

“Would that have saved the purple rig? Jordan’s?”

“Ivan think absolute yes. I say maybe.”

“Why only maybe?” Shelly asked.

“Engine harder to disable. That might have saved. Armor on bottom maybe not. Depends on size of charge, type too.”

“But it’s still worth it, right?” she asked.

“Yes,” Jules said. “Best part is second turret.”

“They’re putting another mini gun on?”

“No, M19 grenade launcher,” Jules said. “Automatic. Make ammo last much longer.”

“You’re joking,” she said.

“No, not,” Jules said. “Gimbal and sight design came from Texas. Cutting edge, 3D printed parts. Genius, no?”

“How fast does it fire? Is it automatic like a machine gun?”

Jules chuckled. “No, fire as fast as trigger pulled, like semi-auto rifle. Use 48 round belt.”

“Boy, your eyes light up talking about this,” Shelly said.

“New toy,” Jules said, “but we must remember one thing.”

“What?”

“Not indestructible,” Jules said. “We must not get over-confident, like Americans with B-17, during war.”

“Before my time,” Shelly said. “Before yours?” She grinned at him when he looked over.

“Please, ten years older, maybe. No more.”

“Than me or the war?” Shelly asked.

Jules glanced at her again, delight in his eyes. “You. What, you think I grandpa?”

“I’m just teasing you,” she said. “That’s okay, isn’t it?”

“Very much okay,” Jules said. “There soda left in fridge?”

“Yes, want one?”

“I like,” he said.

“Okay,” Shelly said, getting up. She went to the back to get them, hearing something from the bedroom, flushing when she realized it was Dana. She headed back to the front in a hurry, soda cans in hand.

“Something wrong?” Jules asked, looking at her face as she came up.

“My timing,” she said as she put the cans into the cup holders.

“What timing?”

“Never mind,” Shelly said.

“No, what?” Jules asked.

“Can’t you guess?”

He looked at her blankly. She sighed.

“Dana finally got her wish,” she said, feeling her face turning red.

“Oh, you hear?” Jules asked, smiling. “Good. Sparky need.”

“I thought he was avoiding her.”

“Afraid,” Jules said. “Too much afraid.”

“Of what? Commitment?”

“He not say, but I know.”

“Well?” Shelly asked.

“She’s traumatized,” Jules said. “He knows this. He doesn’t want to make things worse. Afraid of that.”

“Oh,” she said. “Maybe he’s right. Maybe all of us are in that boat.”

“Some, yes,” Jules said.

“You pursue me,” Shelly said. “Doesn’t it worry you?”

“Not after I know.”

“Know?” Shelly asked. “You think you know me? We’ve only just met.”

“Yes, I know. Judge people well. Pick up feelings. You hurt but healing fast. You take charge of self. Stronger every day. I see. I hire you. You understand, no?”

She shook head. “I’m not as strong as you think.”

“Yes, are. You take charge. Brave, confident, capable. That’s what I like. That’s why I chase.”

“Oh, baloney,” she said, smirking at him.

“What baloney?”

“You wanted me the moment you laid eyes on me,” Shelly said. “You like how I look.”

Jules chuckled. “You pretty, sure. I like. My type. Others in group also beautiful. Some others my type too.”

“Then why didn’t you go after them?”

“I see who you are fast,” Jules said. “Beyond beauty. That why.”

“If I were you, I’d reserve judgement on me for a while,” Shelly said. “Seriously.”

“We see,” Jules said. “I’m glad Dana and Sparky together. Happy for them.”

“Don’t say anything,” Shelly whispered. “Please.”

“Don’t worry, I wouldn’t do,” Jules said. “Give me credit.”

“Sorry, you’re right,” she said. “Want me to open that soda? Kinda hard when you’re driving.”

“Sure, please,” Jules said. She reached over for it, glancing up at him. His eyes were misty. She opened the can and put it back down, then focused on the road, her mind racing through everything.

“This road is getting more narrow,” Shelly said. “Maybe we should slow down a little.”

“Yes,” Jules said, dropping about five miles per hour. “Better?”

“Yes,” she said. “You’ve been down this road before.”

“I’ve been to the hideout before,” Jules said.

“Oh,” she said. “Is it like a safe house?”

Jules chuckled. “No.”

“Then what is it?” Shelly asked.

“It’s winery,” he said. “Very nice one. We’ll enjoy.”

“Won’t there be other people around to see us?”

“No,” he said. “You see.”

They rode for a few minutes silently, Shelly thinking, brow furrowed.

“Jules, they aren’t going to take all of the coaches out of service at the same time, are they?”

Jules chuckled. “You see, mind always working. No, we do two at a time. Rest will be on duty where they can fend off attack. Good, no?”

“Good,” she said. “Sorry, that was a dumb question.”

“Not dumb question at all,” Jules said. “They wanted to do them all at once. I had to say no. If I leave you in charge, you think of and say no too. See why I hire?”

She looked at him and smiled. “Okay, I get your point. My mind’s always crunching, and I look for things that might go wrong. Used to drive my parents crazy, but it’s helped me at work. It’s one of the most important tasks of a Project Manager or a Producer.”

Jules didn’t say anything, just looked over at her and smiled. She looked out the windshield again, and saw lights up ahead, set up on the road. Hand-held lights were pointing down the cliff, shining around

“Jules! Look!” she cried. He saw it, slowing the coach. “Text the others.”

She picked up her phone, tapping frantically on the screen.

“Not sure that roadblock,” Jules said. “I stop after that next curve ahead, where we can see again. We look with binoculars.”

“I’ll go back and get them,” she said. “They’re in the cupboard under the TV, right?”

“Yes,” Jules said.

The road curved inward, putting them out of sight of the lights. Then they curved back outward where they could see them again. Jules slowed to a stop, Shelly looking with the binoculars.

“I think you’re right, that isn’t a roadblock. Somebody crashed or something. Here.” She handed the binoculars to him.

“Yes, see. We can’t drive through there. People notice caravan and talk.”

“What do we do?” Shelly asked.

“See if there road to turn right. Properties back here. Maybe place to pull over. Look at phone GPS. I go slowly forward.”

“Okay,” she said.

The bedroom door opened, Sparky and Dana coming out.

“What’s up?” Sparky asked. “Felt us stop.”

“Something on road ahead,” Jules said. “Lights. People searching. Maybe car went off cliff.”

“What are we gonna do?” Dana asked. “Driving all these rigs through might attract too much attention.”

“That’s what Jules is thinking,” Shelly said, still looking at her screen. “We’re looking for a place to turn off until that blows over.”

“We’ll be lucky if we can find a road where we can turn around,” Sparky said.

“Have faith, my friend,” Jules said.

“There’s a road after the next curve,” Shelly said. “Looks like meadows on either side of the road, and a house at the end. Can’t guarantee that we can turn around.”

“Might be somebody at the house too,” Sparky said.

“Let’s try,” Jules said. “Text others to stay on road. Turn on blinkers.”

Shelly nodded and wrote the text. They went around the corner and saw the road. Jules turned down it, then slammed on the brakes.

“What’s wrong?” Sparky asked.

“Chain across driveway,” Jules said. “Go open, Sparky.”

He nodded to Jules and went out the door, Dana following. Jules and Shelly watched as they shined their phone lights at it. Sparky rushed back inside.

“It’s padlocked,” he said. “Got something that we can break it with?”

“Gun,” Jules said

“No, they’ll hear that up ahead,” Shelly said.

“You right,” Jules said. “Tool box in back compartment. I don’t know what’s in.”

“I’ll look. Keys?”

Jules took the keys out of the ignition and tossed them to Sparky. He left, Dana following him to the back of the coach.

“And things were going so well,” Shelly said. She looked at Jules, and both of them laughed.

“Look at us,” Jules said.

Sparky and Dana ran back to the front of the coach, Dana holding a big flashlight, Sparky holding bolt cutters.

“Looks like Ivan knew what to put in the tool box, eh?” Jules said.

“Yep,” Shelly said. They watched Sparky make short work of the chain. Then he turned and gave a thumb up as Dana pulled the chain over to one side of the road. They stashed the tool and flashlight, then rushed back inside.

“Okay, boss, you’re good to go. Hope we don’t get stuck.”

Jules chuckled. “Me too.” He drove forward, looking to both sides with the others.

“Well, it’s big enough and flat enough,” Dana said.

“As long as it’s not too soft,” Sparky said. “This beast is heavy.”

“Yes, very heavy,” Jules said. “House dark. Probably vacation place for rich San Francisco yuppies.”

“I can barely see the house,” Dana said. “So dark back here.”

“Dark good,” Jules said. He turned from the road onto the meadow. “It feel good, but I pull around and face towards road.”

“Yeah,” Shelly said. “Good idea.”

Jules made the turn, the coach moving easy enough, then shut down the engine and lights. “Text others to come in.”

“Already on it,” Shelly said as she tapped the screen.

“I’m going out to take a look with that flashlight,” Sparky said. “We don’t want anybody driving on something they shouldn’t.”

“Check around our tires first,” Jules said.

Sparky nodded, then went out the door, Dana right behind him.

“She stick like glue to him,” Jules said.

“Sparky doesn’t seem to mind, though, does he?” Shelly asked.

“He give in,” Jules said. “She good woman. Glad.”

Shelly looked at him. “I know what you’re thinking. You have to have patience with me.”

“This I know,” Jules said. “Look, here come other coaches.”

They watched as they all came in, some backing off the road onto the meadow, some driving on and turning like Jules did. Sparky and Dana came back in the coach.

“We lucked out,” Sparky said. “The ground is fine, and pretty clear of things that might damage the tires.”

“That good,” Jules said. “Thanks. I go talk to others.”

“I’ll go too,” Sparky said.

“Maybe I’ll stay in here with Dana,” Shelly said. “If something happens, I’ll get us into siege mode.”

“Yes, do,” Jules said. “Thanks.”

The two men left the rig.

“That must have been scary to see from the road,” Dana said.

“Sorry we woke you up.”

Dana chuckled. “We weren’t sleeping.”

“Oh, really?”

Dana looked at her, smiling. “I’m surprised you didn’t hear us. He got me going good.”

“So you’re happy?” Shelly asked.

“Oh, God yes,” Dana said. “I’m already falling in love with him.”

“I figured something happened,” Shelly said. “You look different when you’re together now. The body language is completely different.”

“What about you and Jules? You seem a lot chummier than you did before.”

“Nothing’s going on, but I am getting to like him,” Shelly said. “He’s a good boss. He trusts me. Has faith in me. That’s worth a lot.”

“But what about romantically?”

Shelly sighed. “He wants me. Badly. I could see myself going in that direction, but it scares me to death.”

“Why?” Dana asked.

“What are we going to do when the war is over?” Shelly asked. “We’re so different. I’m not going to go work for Ivan’s criminal syndicate, and that is Jules’s job.”

“Oh,” Dana said. “Maybe I’ll have the same problem with Sparky, although all he ever did for Ivan is run the card club. I have no problem with that. It’s legal.”

“It’s semi-legal,” Shelly said.

“What do you mean?”

“I’d bet money that it’s being used to launder money from some of Ivan’s other businesses.”

“Oh,” Dana said. “Didn’t think about that.”

“He’s a good man, over all,” Shelly said. “I know he’s not in as deep with Ivan as Jules is.”

“What if you fall for him?” Dana asked. “Will you stop yourself from being with him because of this?”

Shelly thought about it for a moment. “If I fell for him, and that’s a big if, we’d have to work something out.”

“You’d want him to quit,” Dana said.

“I don’t know. Maybe. Frankly, I don’t even know if Jules is a US Citizen.”

Dana chuckled. “Sparky told me Ivan the Butcher grew up in Torrance.”

Shelly laughed. “You’re kidding.”

“That’s what I said to Sparky, but he said it’s true.”

“Look at us,” Shelly said. “Involved with mobsters and shooting bad guys. Who’d have thought.”

“I didn’t think we’d get out of captivity alive,” Dana said, starting to tremble. Shelly looked at her, eyes tearing up. They hugged each other, crying harder.

“Oh, geez,” Shelly said. “It’s right below the surface, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but when I’m with Sparky it’s further back.”

“Maybe that’s a good reason to be with him, then,” Shelly said.

“Maybe it’s a good reason for you, too.”

To be continued…

 

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Bugout! California Part 81 – Interstate 8

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Ji-Ho sat on the veranda, trying to deal with the pain in his gut. It was happening more often now. Throbbing pain, making him feel faint, then slowly going away. So far it hadn’t hit him during a battle, but still, it made sense to start off-loading more and more to Kaylee and Trevor. He knew he’d have to tell Kaylee eventually. That scared him, but not as much as the other part. Not as much as what happened to her parents.

Clem and John walked over together.

“Ji-Ho, you’re still up?”

“Yes, am,” he replied. “Have seat. Want drink?”

“I’m staying on the wagon,” John said. “Promised. Just as well anyway. Seems like we’re always right on the verge of an attack. It’s dangerous not to have a clear head these days.”

Clem sat on a chair next to the rail, opposite of Ji-Ho, facing the house. “I’m actually feeling safe here. Not enough to drink more than a beer or two, but better than I’ve felt since we left the RV Park.”

“Hear from Sam or Sid?” Ji-Ho asked.

“No,” John said. “Makes me a little nervous. Maybe they don’t have cell coverage where they are.”

“Doubtful anywhere in California,” Ji-Ho said. “Full coverage last few years.”

“They’re fine,” Clem said. “Don’t worry.”

“Yes, I agree,” Ji-Ho said. “Sam with. Sid no slouch too. Ryan and James and Tyler. They be fine.”

Ji-Ho’s phone buzzed. He looked at it and smiled. “Speak of devil.” He answered. “Mind if I put on speaker? John and Clem here.”

“Please,” Sam said.

Ji-Ho pushed the button and put his phone on the little table between the chairs. “Go ahead.”

“Hi, gents, how are you?” Sam asked. “I’ve got Sid here with me.”

“We good,” Ji-Ho said. “You find tribe?”

“Yes,” Sid said. “They’re in a cool place. Safe and sound so far.”

“Then why the over-nighter?” Clem asked.

“They moved on from the original location,” Sam said. “We had to go a lot further, to one of the alternate locations.”

“Where?” John asked.

“No, don’t say,” Ji-Ho said. “Walls might have ears.”

“Oh, you’re right,” John said. “Sorry.”

“No problem,” Sid said.

“Did they get chased out of the first location?” Clem asked.

“No, not enough water,” Sid said. “It’s the damn drought.”

“Oh,” Clem said. “Good. Better than being chased out.”

“How’s everything there?” Sid asked. “Yvonne okay?”

“She’s fine,” Clem said. “I’ll go get her.”

“You don’t have to do that,” Sid said.

Clem chuckled. “She’ll horsewhip me if I don’t.”

“Okay, you might have a point there,” Sid said. “I’d like to say hello anyway. This is the first time in years that we’ve been apart overnight.”

“Okay,” Clem said.

“Hey, bring the young couples back too, okay?” Sam asked. “I want to give them some heads up on something.”

“Seth and Angel?” Clem asked.

“And their women,” Sam said. “Please. Don’t worry, it’s nothing bad.”

“Okay,” Clem said. “John, you get Yvonne, okay? I’ll get the kids.”

“You got it,” John said.

They walked off.

“Everything really okay?” Ji-Ho asked.

“If the enemy doesn’t know or care where they are, yeah,” Sam said. “This place is cool, but it’s a death trap. One way out with vehicles. The back way is passable if you’re crazy like Sid.”

Sid chuckled. “Yeah, I almost made Sam crap his pants a couple times.”

“Why?” Ji-Ho asked.

“Going up big rocks at a 45-degree angle, for example,” Sam said.

Ji-Ho laughed. “Oh, here comes Yvonne.”

“Hi, Sid,” Yvonne said. “Is there a problem?”

“No, we’re fine, just wanted to hear your voice,” Sid said.

“Awww,” Yvonne said. “You can be so sweet for an old coot.”

Sid chuckled. “Everything going okay?”

“The bed’s going to be cold, but other than that things are fine here,” she said. “Are you safe? When are you coming home?”

“I think we’re safe, and hopefully we’ll be home tomorrow,” Sid said.

“Hopefully?”

“Yeah,” Sid said. “Don’t worry. Nothing bad. We’re trying to come to an agreement. That’s all.”

“Oh,” she said. “Sounds good. Hope it goes well.”

John came back, followed by Seth and Kaitlyn, and Angel and Megan. They looked nervous.

“Sam said this is nothing bad,” John said, eyeing them.

“Yes, nothing bad,” Sam said. “I just wanted to give you some heads up about something.”

“Is everything well with our people?” Megan asked.

“Yes,” Sam said. “Had a nice conversation with Silver Wolf about you too.”

Kaitlyn and Megan shot each other a worried glance.

“You told him?” Kaitlyn asked.

“He asked,” Sid said.

“Yes, he did ask,” Sam said. “He gave some instructions to Tyler.”

Angel looked at Megan. “He’s going to separate us?”

Sam chuckled. “He wants Tyler to do a marriage ceremony.”

Ji-Ho laughed.

“They aren’t mad?” Kaitlyn asked.

“Not even a little bit,” Sid said. “You should discuss this. Just in case it’s not what you want.”

“It’s what I want,” Kaitlyn said quickly, putting her hand over her mouth. “Oh, geez. I’m sorry, Seth.”

Seth pulled her closer. “We’ve already talked about this. I want to marry you. You know that.”

“Are you sure?” Kaitlyn asked. “Guys say things sometimes.”

“Are you kidding?” he replied.

“I’m good with this,” Angel said to Megan. She smiled at him.

“I know, honey,” Megan said. “I want it too.”

“Good,” Sam said. “Sorry for the embarrassment. I just thought it would be good to let you know before we come back.”

“Is everybody coming?” Megan asked.

“No,” Sid said. “We’re bargaining now about who we can bring back, and what role they can play.”

“So Tyler might not come back?” Kaitlyn asked.

“Tyler, James, and Ryan will be back, at least temporarily,” Sam said. “It may be to fetch the others, or it may be to fight with us.”

“They won’t fetch us, though, will they?” Kaitlyn asked.

“No,” Sid said. “That was pretty clear. You’re always welcome with the tribe, but there’s no desire to force you back there.”

“If they did, I’d go too,” Seth said.

Kaitlyn looked at him, eyes tearing up. “I know, honey. Let’s go back, okay?”

Seth nodded and they walked off together.

“You need us for anything else?” Angel asked.

“Nope,” Sid said.

“Okay,” Angel said. “Thanks for telling us.”

“You’re welcome,” Sam said. “Take care. We’ll see you in a few days.”

Angel nodded, and walked away with Megan.

“Young love,” Clem said, watching them. “I miss that.”

“Okay, what else?” Ji-Ho asked. “We have ally?”

“I wouldn’t suggest that they send more able bodied men to fight with us at this point,” Sid said. “They’re needed with the tribe. They have elders and young people here who need them.”

“I agree,” Sam said. “We have enough men with Garrett’s group.”

“Those battle wagons didn’t get there yet, did they?” Sid asked.

“No, ready tomorrow,” Ji-Ho said. “Some improvements over original.”

“Really?” Sam asked. “What?”

“Bottom armor,” Ji-Ho said. “New plate behind engine vent in back, stay there when coach running. Good enough for small arms fire.”

“That’s a good update,” John said.

“Lost coach up north because of engine problem and un-protected bottom,” Ji-Ho said. “Ivan tell me.”

“Anything else?” Sam asked.

“Second small turret,” Ji-Ho said. “In middle of coach.”

“Another mini gun?” Sid asked.

“M19,” Ji-Ho said, grinning.

Sam chuckled.

“What’s an M19?” Sid asked.

“Automatic grenade launcher,” Sam said. “It’s 40 mm, belt fed. We’ve been using those for years. Good system.”

“That’ll save on ammo for the mini guns, I imagine,” John said.

“Yep, but where are we getting the grenades?” Sam asked. “You can’t go pick them up at Big 5.”

“We get large supply,” Ji-Ho said. “Ivan send intelligence too. Location of last enemy bases and supply routes in region.”

“Where?” Clem asked.

“They’re along the I-8 Corridor. They’ve managed to lock that down, after you guys took away their initial route on Highway 94.”

“Where are the bases?” Sid asked.

“Pine Valley and Live Oak Springs are biggest ones,” Ji-Ho said. “Use Old Highway 80 from roads they make.”

“Coming from Mexico, of course,” John said.

“Yes,” Ji-Ho said. “Enemy also come through Yuma. Control most of southern Arizona. Base just west of Yuma. Another at Jacumba.”

“That’s a lot of bases for our little group,” Sid said. “Pretty hard to move Garrett’s men that far.”

“Many things to work out when get back,” Ji-Ho said. “We have on run, but war not done.”

“How are we seeing that?” Sam asked.

“Ivan could not tell,” Ji-Ho said. “Secret.”

“We need a large mobile force to cope with this,” Clem said.

“We hit Pine Valley and blow up I-8 first, to stop movement west of Alpine, and starve out forces hiding around El Cajon,” Ji-Ho said. “Later forces from north move down to help with eastern parts of I-8.”

“Forces from north?” Sam asked.

“Sparky, Ted, Tex, Jules, and others,” Ji-Ho said. “Many more battle wagons.”

“What are you smiling about, Sam?” Sid asked. “You know these guys.”

“I don’t know Jules very well, but I know the others quite well,” Sam said. “Cody with them too?”

“Yes,” Ji-Ho said. “You know?”

“Yep,” Sam said. “What are they doing now?”

“Get resistance started in Bay Area and Sacramento Area, like they did in LA and Orange Counties.”

“That’s a big job,” Sam said. “What’s the timeframe?”

“Not know yet,” Ji-Ho said. “Depends. We start without. When I-8 down, we make good headway. Some enemy will flee across border into Arizona.”

“The folks in Arizona might not like that much,” John said.

“Enemy own most of Arizona,” Ji-Ho said. “Other forces will work that problem. General Hogan forces.”

“This war is a long way from over,” Yvonne said. “Isn’t it?”

“Yes, but light at end of tunnel,” Ji-Ho said.

***

Sam and Sid looked at each other after the phone call.

“This sound good to you?” Sid asked.

Sam was quiet for a moment, thinking. “I’m getting tired. Listening to that was exhausting enough. Living through it will be horrendous.”

“Yvonne wasn’t happy,” Sid said.

“Yeah, I kinda picked up on that. Want to get some air?”

“Sure,” Sid said. “I don’t think I can get to sleep yet anyway. Think we’ll here from Ed and Tyler tonight?”

“No,” Sam said. “If I were them I’d fetch their other people and stay out of this mess. They can’t afford to lose more young men.”

They got up and left the Sheriff’s Office, walking onto the dimly lit street.

“I agree,” Sid said. “It would be different if they had enough people and weapons to make a big difference. They don’t. It’s all they can do to protect their people and just survive until this blows over.”

“Pretty much,” Sam said. “Why are you staying in this war?”

“You folks are my family,” Sid said. “If you, John, and Clem decided to get out of the fight, I’d follow you.”

“That thought has crossed my mind more than once.”

“I know,” Sid said.

“The UN is done in the south,” Sam said as they walked towards the front of the ghost town. There were more voices now, coming from the saloon and the sea of tents beyond.

“Yeah,” Sid said. “Ivan did a good job in LA and Orange Counties. Sounds like the UN has packed up and left. The furthest south they have any presence at all is Santa Barbara.”

“The people saw what Ivan did and refused to comply with martial law. They openly fought the UN and won. Genius move on Ivan’s part.”

“It was,” Sid said.

“We still have Islamists around, though,” Sam said. “Even the people who side with the UN hate those bastards, which will help some, especially in the north.”

“You think there’s people up north who like the UN?”

“Yep,” Sam said. “Here’s my prediction. The war in California will end before the war in the rest of the southwest. Saladin knows he’s lost California. That’s why he moved to Utah.”

“Hope you’re right,” Sid said. “Why do you think that’s the case?”

“Their supply lines are down to a trickle now,” Sam said. “Once we close down I-8, they’ll be in trouble. Might not even take the total effort that Ji-Ho was talking about.”

“What would it take, then?”

“We take out the base in Pine Valley, and blow up I-8 in a few spots, like we did to Highway 94. If we do that, they’ll starve out and have to move east into Nevada and Arizona.”

“Hey, gentlemen,” a woman’s voice said. Another woman giggled.

“Who’s there?” Sam asked. The two women stepped out of the shadows.

“I’m Erica,” said a large, shapely woman with an open smile.

Sid chuckled. “Uh oh.”

“Which one of you is Sam?” she asked, approaching.

“That would be me,” Sam said hesitantly.

“Well nice to meet you, Sam,” Erica said, holding out her hand. Sam shook it.

The other woman stepped forward, a matronly woman with an attractive smile. “Hi, I’m Anna, Kaitlyn’s mother.  Do you know her?”

Sam and Sid looked at each other and smiled.

“They do, see?” Erica said.

“Of course,” Sid said. “She’s a mighty warrior and a beauty too.”

“Do you know the man she’s with?” Anna asked.

“Seth,” Sam said. “He’s a good man.”

“Seth,” Anna said. “I asked Silver Wolf, but he didn’t want to talk about it. Too busy setting up for some meeting.”

“He can be a real boy scout,” Erica said, rolling her eyes. “What are you guys doing?”

“Just getting some air,” Sid said. “Trying to make ourselves tired enough to sleep.”

“Want to join us for a drink in the Saloon?” Erica asked.

Sid glanced at Anna nervously. She noticed.

“My husband is in the meeting with Silver Wolf,” she said.

“Oh,” Sid said.

“You’re married,” she said. “What’s her name?”

“Yvonne,” Sid said.

“Indian?”

“Yes,” Sid said. “As am I.”

“We know our own,” Erica said. “So sorry to hear about your wife, Sam.”

“Who told you? Ed?”

Erica chuckled. “He let you call him Ed? He must like you guys.”

“Well, the feeling is mutual,” Sam said. “Thanks for the kind comment. I miss Connie every day.”

“I know how you feel,” she said. “I lost my love a few years ago.”

“We heard,” Sid said. “So sorry. I knew Buck.”

“You did?” Erica asked. “I’m surprised we never met.”

“I was just a customer,” Sid said, “but I liked him.”

“Everybody liked him,” Erica said. “It was an honor to be his wife.”

Sam nodded.

“How about that drink?” Sid asked, looking at Sam.

“Oh, I guess one wouldn’t hurt,” he said. They went into the saloon. There were people sitting here and there, chatting quietly and drinking, most of them stopping to stare when they saw Sam and Sid.

“Whiskey?” Erica asked.

“Good enough,” Sam said. Erica went behind the bar and grabbed one of the old bottles of whiskey and four glasses. She brought them to an open round table and set them down.

“This stuff is pretty good, but we’re starting to run low,” Erica said. “It’s really old.”

“We had some with Ed,” Sid said. “He told us the story.”

Erica chuckled. “Well, that blows some of our conversation.”

Sam laughed. “What else have you found around here?”

“All kinds of things,” Anna said. “Most of us have been here before, as young adults. It was a favorite place to camp.”

“Does the tribe own this?” Sam asked.

“Not per the current paperwork,” Anna said.

“We did have an agreement back in the 19th century,” Erica said. “Kinda went by the wayside. It’s considered BLM land now, but we have special access.”

“We did,” Anna said. “Who knows what will happen after the war. The Feds basically shut down BLM during this mess.”

“Are we getting close to the end of this war?” Erica asked.

“Funny, we were just talking about that,” Sid said. Sam shot him a glance.

“You don’t have to tell us,” Erica said, her eyes glued to Sam. “It’s okay.”

Sam chuckled. “There’s really not much to tell, just the two of us trying to make an accurate guess. It’s next to impossible.”

“I hope we pull back,” Anna said. “We’re too small now. We’ve lost too many people and too much property.”

“You’ll get the property back,” Sid said. “Neither Sam nor I think you should risk what people you have left. You’ve given so much already.”

“Yes, we’re running a little low on warriors,” Anna said. “I’m worried about Kaitlyn and Megan. Are they safe?”

“They’re as safe as the rest of us,” Sam said. “Things have gotten better. The UN is pulling out. We’ve definitely got them on the run in the southern half of the state.”

“What about the northern half?” Erica asked.

“There are strong efforts going on there to end the martial law and kick out the UN and the Islamists,” Sid said. “It’s a big job, but our side has a good chance.”

“What happens when you’re done fighting?” Erica asked, looking at Sam.

“I hope to rebuild my RV Park in Dulzura,” Sam said. “Don’t know if I can stomach it, though. Too many memories of Connie and lost friends.”

“You’re still in mourning, aren’t you?” Erica asked.

“Yes, but it gets better every day,” Sam said.

“You never totally get over it,” Erica said. “Might as well know that now. I learned it, but it was tough.”

“Looks like the meeting broke up,” Anna said, looking out the window at the men emerging from the mine. “I’m going to my husband. Nice to meet you both. Take care of my Kaitlyn.”

“Nice to meet you too,” Sid said. Sam nodded in agreement.

“Wonder if Ed’s going to want to talk tonight?” Sam asked.

“Probably,” Erica said. “He’s on duty all the time.”

Ed and Tyler stuck their heads in the saloon. “Still up, huh?” Ed asked.

“Yep,” Sam said. “Want to talk now, or in the morning?”

“Give me about fifteen minutes,” Ed said. “Then let’s talk in the sheriff’s office.”

“Sounds good,” Sid said.

“Yeah,” Sam said.

“I’ll see you later,” Erica said, getting up. “Don’t leave tomorrow without saying goodbye.”

Sam watched her walk out the door.

To be continued…

 

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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 2017

Bugout! California Part 80 – Candy and Beef Jerky

IMG_2726

Sparky was behind the wheel of the black rig, Dana in the passenger seat. It was nearly dusk. Shelly was on the couch, trying to sleep but not having much luck. Jules was sleeping in the bedroom.

“How much longer until we get to where we’re going?” Shelly asked, sitting up.

“Jules said we’re going to a place outside of Los Gatos,” Dana said. “Isn’t that right, Sparky?”

“What?” Sparky asked. “Sorry, I wasn’t listening.”

“We’re going to that place outside of Los Gatos, right?” Dana asked. “Shelly was asking.”

“Oh,” Sparky said. “He’s mentioned that location, but he told me to get off on Bailey Avenue before he went to take a nap. That’s kinda far south of Los Gatos.”

“He’s probably running us through a bunch of back roads,” Dana said. “Ought to be fun in the dark.”

Sparky chuckled. “He said he wanted to drive when we got off the 101. Must be why. He wants Shelly up front watching, too.”

“Oh, brother,” Shelly said. “I’m going to be in trouble if I don’t get some sleep.”

“Well then go into the bedroom,” Sparky said.

“She won’t sleep if she goes back there,” Dana said. “Neither will he.”

“Oh, please,” Shelly said. “Will you get off that?”

Sparky looked at Dana and grinned.

“You shut up too,” Shelly said.

“Hey, I didn’t say anything,” Sparky said.

“Okay, I’ll back off,” Dana said. “I’m just teasing you. It will be easier to sleep back there, though.”

“Jules sleeps like a rock,” Sparky said. “If you’re careful, he won’t even wake up.”

Shelly sighed. “How long till we get to this turnoff?”

“At the speed we’ve been going, a couple of hours,” Sparky said.

“If I go back there, will you tease me later?” Shelly asked.

Dana snickered. “Probably. No, I’m just kidding. Go ahead. You could do a lot worse, you know.”

Shelly rolled her eyes and went to the back of the coach, sliding the door open as quietly as she could. Jules was under the sheet, the bedspread shoved off the end of the bed. It was warm, heat from the rear engine making it feel almost cozy. She slid the door shut and went to the back wall, getting onto the right side of the bed in her clothes. Her mind was spinning, going over all the things that happened over the last few days, and all of the things she was afraid would happen in the next few days. Will I even be alive?

Jules’s breathing changed for a moment, and he turned onto his right side, facing away from her, settling back into the rhythmic snore. It was almost soothing. Shelly tried to settle down. It was too warm. She looked over at Jules, and then carefully got out of bed, shedding her pants and shirt, pausing for a minute, watching Jules. Then she shrugged and took off her bra, setting all of her clothes down on her side of the bed, within easy reach. The coach hit a bump, almost knocking her down, the snoring ending for a moment. Shelly covered her chest, waiting for him to turn towards her. He went back to his snoring, so she climbed into bed carefully, pulling the thin sheet all the way up to her neck. Sleep. She tried to clear her mind, but it wasn’t working. The low rumble of the engine below her was more helpful, so she focused on that, and on Jules, his light snore and the rising and falling of his chest. She calmed down and drifted off.

Shelly woke with a start as the coach slowed down suddenly. She was sweaty, and then she felt it. The hairy arm across her torso, body molded against her side as she lay on her back, the breath dusting her forehead. She felt the urge to move away, but didn’t, turning instead, her back towards him, not moving as he adjusted, closer to her, still asleep. She fell asleep again, feeling at peace for a little while.

There was a soft rap on the door an hour later, Shelly’s eyes opening wide. Jules stirred, backing away from her quickly when he realized she was there.

“Oh, sorry,” he said sitting up. “You came in. Not sleep on couch?”

She looked at his bare back, more hairy than she was used to. “I couldn’t sleep out there. Sorry. I tried not to disturb you.”

“I like, but you already know.” He turned back to the door. “Dana, are we almost there?”

“Yes,” Dana said. “There’s a truck stop coming up. Sparky said we should top up. You okay with that?”

“Yes,” Jules said. “We out in minute.”

“Okay,” Dana said. “Take your time.” Shelly could almost hear her giggle as she walked back to the front of the coach.

“I’ll never live this down,” Shelly said, turning in his direction, careful to keep the sheet sealed around her up to her neck.

“Hey, we do nothing, no?” Jules said. “Just sleep. Maybe cuddle a little.”

“Yeah, were you awake when you moved next to me?”

“A little,” he said. “Not for long.”

“Uh huh,” she said, feeling herself blush.

“You no like?” he asked.

She was quiet for a moment.

“Don’t say. Forget.”

“I liked it, okay,” Shelly said. “I wouldn’t have if you would’ve tried something.”

Jules looked her in the eyes. “See, I behaved, no? We can sleep together now? It better than alone.”

“We’ll see,” she said. “Now turn around so I can get dressed.”

He nodded and turned, getting up and pulling his clothes back on. Shelly dressed, and they came out of the bedroom together. Jules ducked into the bathroom, coming out again in a moment. “All yours.”

“I just need to run a comb through my hair,” Shelly said, going through the door as Jules went to the front.

“How road looking?” Jules asked.

“No problems,” Sparky said. “We got a few looks from fellow drivers, but I haven’t seen any sign of UN vehicles.”

“We might have damaged them more than expected,” Jules said.

“Hopefully,” Dana said.

“There’s the turnoff for the truck stop,” Sparky said, taking the off-ramp.

“You tell others?” Jules asked.

“Yep,” Dana said. “We’re all stopping.”

“We keep eyes open. If we get hit, this might be place. Get away from gas pumps fast if anything start.”

“Roger that,” Sparky said, turning onto the driveway of the truck stop. There were already two of their coaches there, and two behind them.

“We lose contact with anybody?” Jules asked.

“Nope,” Dana said. “Everybody is okay.”

“That good,” Jules said.

“How was Shelly?” Sparky said.

“Don’t make fun. We sleep only. She’s sensitive. I don’t want to blow it.”

Sparky looked at him after he set the parking brake. “You really like this one, don’t you?” he whispered. Jules nodded yes just as Shelly was coming out of the bathroom, looking fresh and wide awake.

“I go pump,” Jules said. “Maybe you two should take bedroom and sleep.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Dana said. “You tired enough?”

Sparky looked at her. “Probably, after I settle down a bit. Worth a try.”

“More sheets in closet,” Jules said. “If want.” He opened the door and went out to fuel the rig. Shelly came out with him to stretch her legs. The air was cool.

“Dana and Sparky are going to sleep for a while?”

“Yes, do,” Jules said.

“They might want to change the sheets. I sweated a lot.”

“I tell,” Jules said. “You ready to spot for me?”

“Yes,” she said. “We’re going into roads that will be difficult for these big rigs, aren’t we?”

“Yes, but it be fine,” Jules said.

“Hey, Partner,” Tex said, walking up with Karen.

“Tex, how you?” Jules asked.

“Good, but a little tired,” he said. “There are some advantages to having more than one person in a rig.”

“This true, my friend,” Jules said. “I take lead on this road. Had nap, while Sparky drove.”

“How are you doing, Karen?” Shelly asked.

“Okay,” she said. “Want to go check out the store?”

“Sure,” Shelly said. “You mind, Jules?”

“Of course not,” Jules said. “Enjoy. Maybe get snacks. Something sweet.”

“You need some money, little lady?” Tex asked.

“Still have some,” Karen said. “See you in a few minutes.”

The two walked towards the store.

“Is he still hounding you?” Karen asked.

Shelly shook her head yes.

“Are you okay about it?” Karen asked.

Shelly sighed. “We slept in the same bed. He cuddled with me. Naked, no less.”

“How’d you get yourself into that position?” Karen asked, holding the store door open for her. They went in, Shelly heading straight for the candy isle.

“We both needed sleep,” Shelly said. “I couldn’t do it on the couch, so I joined him. It was my choice.”

“Better watch yourself, girl,” Karen said. “Unless you want him.”

“I know what I’m doing,” she said, picking out several candy bars.

“Hell, you’re buying that for him, aren’t you?” Karen asked.

She turned to Karen and put her finger to her lips.

“Do you like him?” Karen asked.

“Maybe a little,” she said. “He was a gentleman in the bedroom. Completely.”

“I thought you said he cuddled with you naked,” Karen said.

“He didn’t try anything,” Shelly said, “and it helped me sleep, believe it or not.”

Karen shook her head, a sly smile on her face. “He’s going to get you, isn’t he?”

“I didn’t say that,” Shelly said. “Enough about me. You’ve got Tex after you. What’s going on there?”

“Just banter,” she said. “I won’t sleep in the back with him. I don’t think he wants to sleep back there either, after what happened.”

“Don’t blame either of you for that,” Shelly said. “So you’re taking the two beds in the salon, then?”

“Yeah, but the dinette one is too short for both of us,” she said. “I’ve been sleeping on that. May end up joining him on the couch queen convertible, if we can come to an agreement.”

Shelly snickered.

“I’m not falling for him,” Karen said sharply.

“Uh huh,” Shelly said. “You like to talk with him. Your body language together is loosening up. I noticed when you two walked over. I’m surprised you weren’t holding hands.”

Karen froze for a moment, turning to her. “That’s not true.”

Shelly sighed. “Okay, I’ll shut up. We’re quite a pair. Both interested, both afraid. I don’t believe in whirlwind romances during these kinds of times. It’s too convenient.”

“Convenient for whom?” Karen asked.

“Whoever the pursuer is,” Shelly said, glancing at her, face reddening slightly.

“Oh,” Karen said. “Men.”

Shelly laughed. “It’s not just men. Dana is throwing herself at Sparky. He’s resisting her.”

“Okay, you’re right,” Karen said. “Look how the bitch latched onto Gil.”

“Are you still upset about that?” Shelly asked. “That guy is clearly not your type.”

“Who are you to say?”

“It’s just an observation,” Shelly said. “You came from money, didn’t you? What did your parent’s do?”

“They owned a small factory,” Karen said. “Thought you knew that.”

“What, from the hell hole? From captivity? I was completely shut down during most of that.”

“Wish I was,” Karen said, tears forming in her eyes. “I dream about it every night. Their faces above me. Smug and mean.”

“I’m sorry,” Shelly said. “Is that why you’re resisting Tex?”

She thought for a moment. “No, if anything that experience is the only thing that might work for him someday.”

“What do you mean?”

“He’s kind and gentle, and he rescued me,” Karen said. “He was the first one I saw.”

“Then why’d you go after Gil?”

“I kinda knew him.”

“Kinda?”

“He worked for my dad,” Karen said.

“For how long?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Four or five years, maybe.”

Shelly took her candy up to the counter and paid, then turned to Karen. “You knew him for that long and never got together with him?”

“He was an employee.” Karen got a look of shame on her face, and covered her mouth. “Oh, God. I’m such a bitch.”

Shelly took the bag of candy from the clerk. Karen was about to put hers up there, but then she turned and grabbed a big bag of beef jerky from the end of the aisle behind the counter, and tossed it in front of the clerk along with the other stuff. She paid, and the two women walked out the door.

“You realized something in there,” Shelly said.

“I like to be in control,” Karen said, the shamed look coming back. “I feel like I can control Gil. I don’t think anybody can control Tex.”

Shelly nodded to her as they got back to Jules and Tex.

“Good, we go,” Jules said.

“Hey, little lady, find something you like?” Tex asked.

Karen pulled the bag of jerky up out of the paper sack.

“You got me jerky?” he asked, smiling. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Let’s blow this joint.” She followed Tex to the yellow rig, shooting a smile to Shelly. Shelly nodded to her, then went up the steps, Jules following her up.

“Ready?” Jules asked.

“Yep,” Shelly said, getting into the passenger seat with the bag of candy. She dumped it out on the center console shelf.

“Good, I like,” Jules said, looking at it.

“I know,” Shelly said. “Drive.”

Jules fired up the engine and they were off, in the lead, heading into the darkness.

***

Sam and Sid sat at the table with Silver Wolf and Tyler. They drank down their shots of whiskey.

“I think we need another,” Silver Wolf said. “I’ll bring the bottle to the table.” He got out of his chair and grabbed the bottle, putting it on the middle of the round table.

“Fine by me,” Sid said. “I’ll only drink a couple more, though. We’ve got important things to talk about.”

“That bottle looks really old,” Sam said.

“We found it in the saloon,” Silver Wolf said. “With a lot of others. It was in a metal crate that was buried in the basement, but we were still surprised nobody found it after all the years it was there.”

“The off-roader ban probably saved this place,” Sid said. He tossed back another shot.

“A lot of damage happened from the thirties through the sixties,” Silver Wolf said. “The two buildings that burned were a result of yahoos that were out here camping.”

“Maybe we should stop beating around the bush and talk,” Sam said. “No offence, but we’re tired.”

“Of course,” Silver Wolf said. “What are the plans of your group, what are your resources, and who is supporting you?”

Tyler shot a worried glance at Sid and Sam. Silver Wolf noticed.

“No coaching from the sidelines, Quiet Fox,” he said.

“I’m not,” Tyler said. “I’m just worried.”

“No need to worry,” Silver Wolf said. “Go on, gentlemen.”

Sam looked at Sid, then spoke. “Our plan is to rid eastern San Diego County and all of Imperial County of enemy fighters.”

“What about western San Diego county?”

“That’s controlled by the US Navy and the Marines,” Sid said.

“So the Feds are in control. What will stop them from moving in after we clean things up in the east?”

“I said the US Navy and Marines. They aren’t controlled by the Feds at this point.”

“And how did you get that information?” Silver Wolf asked.

“Our sponsor,” Sid said.

“Who’s that?”

“Ivan the Butcher,” Sam said.

Silver Wolf leaned back in his chair, thinking. “He has resources, to be sure, but he’s an evil man.”

“Depends on your point of view,” Sam said. “Right now he’s on our side. His efforts have won LA County and most of Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties back for the people.”

“What people?

“You and me,” Sid said. “All of us.”

“This man is no saint,” Silver Wolf said. “He’s a whoremonger and a drug pusher.”

Sam smiled. “He’s all of that and more. You can add murderer onto the list. He hates globalists. He hates the UN, and he hates the corrupt men in the Federal Government.”

“Because they hurt his operations?”

“Partly,” Sam said. “Look, I’m not going to try to convince you that this man is a saint. He’s not. Look at him like Stalin in WW II. We fight a common enemy, and Ivan’s got resources. He’s also got a grudge against the Islamist leader and the leadership of the EU.”

“What was his name again?” Silver Wolf asked. “Saltin or Salton or something?”

“Saladin,” Sam said, his brow furrowed.

“You have experience with this man,” Silver Wolf said. “I can see it on your face.”

“I was in special forces, and fought my last battle against him,” Sam said.

“It didn’t go well, did it?”

“No,” Sam said.

“And now you want to fight him again,” Silver Wolf said. “With my people.”

Tyler started to say something, but Silver Wolf shot him a stern glance, and he shut up.

“Saladin isn’t my fight anymore,” Sam said. “He’s in Utah, and there are others after him. Others that I’ve fought with before.”

“Ji-Ho helped to chase him out of California, and wounded him badly,” Sid said.

“Who’s Ji-Ho?”

“A Korean man, mainly a smuggler and Merc,” Sid said.

“As bad as the Islamists are, the biggest problem in most of California is the UN,” Sam said. “They’ve tried to make this state a pilot for Global Governance, along with several other parts of the country. Washington and Oregon, most of New England, and parts of the Mid-Atlantic. Some of the upper Midwest, although I hear they’re losing there.”

Silver Wolf was quiet for a moment, thinking. Sid poured himself another shot. He glanced over at Tyler and Sam, both of whom nodded yes. He poured for them too. Silver Wolf slid his shot glass over and Sid filled it. They all knocked them back.

“What does Ivan supply to your group?”

“Money, weapons, vehicles, and intelligence,” Sam said.

“And what do you give in return?”

“We fight a common enemy,” Sam said. “That’s enough. Most of us have no part in Ivan’s underworld operations.”

“Most?”

“Ji-Ho has been involved,” Sam said.

“What parts?”

“Smuggling weapons,” Sam said.

“Oh,” Silver Wolf said. “Who is allied with you? How many people do you have?”

“Our core group is small,” Sid said. “It’s never been very large, and we’ve taken losses.”

“Do those losses include our people?”

“Yes,” Sid said. “and some of our own, including Sam’s wife.”

Silver Wolf leaned back in his chair again, choking back tears. “I heard, it was when we lost One Eye.”

“Yes,” Sid said, glancing at Sam, who was maintaining with dignity.

“It sounds like your group is close to dying out,” Silver Wolf said.

“We’re allied with a force of eight hundred men,” Sam said.

“Who?”

“A man named Garrett,” Sid said. “Old friend.”

Silver Wolf smiled. “You mean the cowboy nut from Dulzura?”

Sam chuckled. “He does have a style about him.”

“Silver Wolf looked at Tyler. “How do Garrett’s men fight? Be honest.”

“They saved us twice,” Tyler said. “I’d fight with them any time, in any place, against anybody.”

“Okay,” Silver Wolf said. “Where is your base?”

“Dulzura,” Sam said. “But we’re mobile.”

“Dulzura is almost locked down now,” Silver Wolf said. “We have contacts there watching.”

“So, what is your decision?” Sam asked.

“I don’t decide,” Silver Wolf said. “The council decides. I’m but one voice. I’ll report back, and we’ll discuss it tonight, while you’re sleeping. Tyler, I’d like you to be in the meeting.”

“Of course,” Tyler said.

“One more thing,” Silver Wolf said. “Kaitlyn and Megan. I hear they’ve pair-bonded with two of your people. White men.”

“We don’t have any control over that,” Sam said. Sid shot him a glance.

“Our tribe’s birthrate has dwindled in recent years, as young people take off to find their own way in the white man’s world,” Silver Wolf said. “We’re becoming inbred, and most of the tribes are having the same problem, so we haven’t been successful in working it together as brother nations.”

Sid smiled. “I think I know where this is going.”

Silver Wolf smiled. “I’m glad the couples have found each other. Their parents and I would like them to be bonded via our traditions. Tyler, would you do that? You have that right as War Chief.”

Tyler nodded yes.

“What if they aren’t ready to make that kind of commitment?” Sam asked.

Sid and Tyler laughed.

“What?” Sam asked.

“If I don’t do it, they’ll do it someplace else,” Tyler said.

“They’ll probably also do it someplace else,” Silver Wolf said. “I still want you to run them through the ritual. Doesn’t matter if they marry both under your traditions and ours.”

“Why?” Sam asked. “No offence, I’m just curious.”

“We want the children to be part of the tribe, and we want them to know of our culture.”

“You don’t expect the children to live with your tribe, do you?” Sam asked.

“No, that will be their choice, and the choice of their parents,” Silver Wolf said.

“This is a good thing, Sam,” Tyler said. “Trust me.”

“Yes,” Silver Wolf said. He shot Sam a glance. “Have you met Desert Flower yet?”

Tyler snickered. “I don’t think she’ll need your help, Silver Wolf.”

“What are you talking about?” Sam asked.

“Erica,” Tyler said. “She’s already been asking about you.”

“I’m not ready for that,” Sam said, brow furrowed. “I just lost my wife. I’m not ready to move on. Not for a while.”

“Have you seen her yet?” Silver Wolf asked.

“No,” Sam said.

“We’ll see. You and Sid go grab some rest. Tyler, take them to the tent area. There’s two set up for them, with blankets. Then you come with me. We’ll meet in the big tent, behind the town.”

To be continued…

 

The Plan is now available in the Kindle Store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 7 – Flood of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

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

 

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 2017

Bugout! California Part 79 – Hovercraft

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sid looked tired. He’d been driving the Jeep for hours now. It was nearly dusk. Sam snored softly in the passenger seat, head turned towards the window. The terrain had gotten tougher. Still no sign of tracks, which made Sid nervous, even though he knew it was more a good thing than a bad thing. The Jeeps ahead of him slowed and made a sharp left turn, where there were ancient remains of a rutted wagon road. It climbed into the foothills, coming to a section of nearly broken dirt switchbacks. Tyler stopped his Jeep, James parking beside him. Sid parked behind that, and they got out and met in a huddle, Sam trying to shake off his sleep.

“What’s up?” Sam asked.

“It’s only about a mile in, but I don’t know if we can trust these switchbacks all the way up,” Tyler said. “I say we park in those bushes over there and walk in. If the road is good enough, we can come back and get the Jeeps.”

“Probably better to be safe than sorry,” James said. “At least there hasn’t been much rain lately.”

“Some of this road was so bad that a small quake could bring it down,” Ryan said, “and we have those all the time out here.”

“We’re taking the guns, right?” Sam asked.

“I’d suggest that,” Tyler said, “although hefting these M60s that far doesn’t sound like much fun.”

“We’d better get moving, unless we want to do this in the dark,” Sid said.

“Yeah,” James said. The men drove their Jeeps down the embankment, into a stand of bushes and trees in the bottom of the canyon.

“If it rains, we’ll lose these vehicles,” Sid said.

“No rain in the last weather report I saw,” James said.

Sam picked up his M-16 and his M60. Sid grabbed his hunting rifle and the BAR. The warriors picked up their AK-47s and their bows. They climbed up the loose hill of the embankment and started the trudge up the switchbacks.

“This is more fun driving up than walking,” James said. “The grade is worse than it looks.”

“Yeah, but imagine backing all the way down because we run into a bad spot,” Sid said.

“Seriously,” Tyler said. “If we’re lucky it’ll be good all the way up and we can fetch our vehicles.”

“Not that much in there that we need for this trip,” Sam said. “Unless we got followed here or something like that.”

“Crap,” Ryan said.

“Don’t get all upset, man,” James said. “It’s unlikely we got followed.”

“Didn’t we leave tracks?” Ryan asked.

Sid laughed. “Not on those rocks. They take the wrong way and they’ll get good and stuck.”

“Hope there’s another way in and out of here,” Sam said.

“There is,” Tyler said. “It’s just many more miles than this.”

They plodded along, tiring quickly, straining to carry weapons. The road didn’t have any major breaks in it, but the dirt was loose, rutted from a century ago.

“How much further?” Sam asked.

“We’re a little over half way,” Tyler said. “Let’s stop and rest for a few minutes.”

They all sat on the road, breathing heavy. Tyler took a large bottle of water out of his backpack and passed it around.

“I guess I don’t feel so bad,” Sam said. “You young guys are almost as winded as Sid and I are.”

Sid looked over at him and grinned. “Oh, I can feel it. Feel it more in the morning. This is tough on the joints.”

“Don’t remind me,” Sam said.

“How come they didn’t just come here first?” Sid asked.

“It’s further away from supplies, mainly,” Tyler said.

“How’d they get their vehicles up here?” Sam asked.

“They sent a scouting party with vehicles the long way around,” Tyler said. “The rest of the people walked or rode horses. I’m sure it took them several days to get here.”

“Your people must be strong,” Sid said. “I thought it was a lot of older folks.”

“Our older folks aren’t like most older folks,” James said.

“You got that right,” Ryan said. “We’d better get moving.”

“Yes,” Tyler said, standing up.

“Might as well,” Sam said, standing, moaning as he picked up the m60. “Should’ve left this thing in the Jeep.’

“Nah, we might need these,” Sid said, lifting the BAR.

“We aren’t bringing up enough ammo to get into a real battle,” Sam said.

“We don’t know what we’ll find when we get up there,” James said.

“Is this the only place they could’ve come to?” Sam asked.

“No, there are two others,” Tyler said. “Both further away, and both with possible water problems, due to this damn drought.”

“They have less game, too,” Ryan said. “It’s easier to live off the land here than in any of the other places.”

They continued the climb, the road getting thinner as they went, but still passable. Finally, they came to a long straight section, going through a beautiful valley with a tree-lined stream fifty yards to the right of the road.

“The road’s good enough,” Sam said. “Assuming there aren’t more problem areas ahead.

“Look up there,” Sid said. “The mill is running. Wonder if they did some work on it. The water wheel wasn’t turning last time I was here.”

“Kinda looks like they did something,” James said. “That’s beautiful. I want to take some pictures before we leave.”

“No internet posting,” Tyler said.

“I know,” James said.

“Hear that?” Ryan asked.

“Sounds like a small plane,” Sam said, getting his M60 ready.

Tyler laughed. “No! I know who that is.”

A white vehicle came into view, several men on it. There was a fan in the back.

“What is that, a swamp buggy?” Sid asked.

“That’s a hovercraft,” Sam said. “Wow. Good way to get around out here.”

“Wouldn’t work very well on those switchbacks,” Ryan said. “Silver Wolf is a nut for these things.”

The vehicle approached quickly, then pulled off the road and shut down. An old man and three younger warriors got out, rushing over, embracing James, Tyler, and Ryan.

“You’re okay,” the old man said. “We feared the worst.”

“You’ve been seeing news?” Ryan asked.

“This crazy old dude put a small generator on that damn mill,” said one of the warriors. “We’ve heard stories on the radio.”

“Respect your elders, Red Snake,” the old man said.

“Yes sir,” Red Snake said. “Sorry.”

Tyler stepped up. “Silver Eagle, this is Sam and Sid. They’re part of the group we’ve been fighting with since we had to flee the reservation.”

“Good to meet you,” Sam said.

“Likewise,” Sid said.

“You’re Indian,” Silver Wolf said to Sid. “Which tribe?”

“Chiricahua,” Sid said. “My wife is Zuni.”

Silver Wolf laughed. “Strange combination. Been in California long?”

“Most of my life,” Sid said. “Dad left us high and dry. My mom got a job in California, thanks to her sister.”

“You live among the white man now?” Red Snake asked.

“I was living in Sam’s RV Park when the war started up,” Sid said.

One of the other young warriors smiled. “You’re the folks who blew up that pass on Highway 94.”

“And who might you be?” Sid asked.

“Kerry,” the young warrior said. Silver Wolf shot him a glance. “Sorry, Yellow Bird.”

The third warrior snickered.

“Shut up, Swimming Cub,” Kerry said.

“That’s Swimming Bear,” the warrior said, a mischievous grin washing over his face.

“Are the young people in your tribe like these?” Silver Wolf asked Sid.

“I’ve been away from the tribe so long that I couldn’t tell you,” Sid said. “I used to be like them.”

Silver Wolf nodded, shaking his head.

“You’re the chief, aren’t you?” Sam asked.

Silver Wolf glanced at Tyler, and then at Sam. “I’m one chief. Tyler is another. I’m the Executive. Tyler is the War Chief.”

“Yeah, some War Chief I’ve been,” Tyler said.

“One Eye would be proud,” Silver Wolf said. “Come, let’s get to camp.”

“Mind if we put the big guns in your hovercraft?” Tyler asked.

“Not at all,” Silver Wolf said. The men put the guns into the back of the hovercraft. Silver Wolf drove it down the road, the other three warriors staying behind to walk in with their guests.

“Who’s left?” Red Snake asked. “And call me Shane when the chief isn’t around, okay?”

“I’m Will,” Swimming Bear said. “I don’t mind the Indian name that much, though.”

Shane sighed. “Oh, I know, when we’re with the tribe it’s okay.”

“I’m almost afraid to ask,” Will said, “but who’s left.”

Tyler’s face was grim. “Us, plus Zac, Kenny, and Bradley.”

“Crap, that’s all?” Kerry asked.

“Kaitlin and Megan,” Tyler said.

Will snickered. “It’s been kinda dull with them gone.”

“You got that right, bro,” Kerry said. “I could look at Kaitlyn all day. Maybe I was too hasty with her. She’s got a fiery passion, that’s for sure.”

“You’ve been married for three years,” Ryan said. “You getting bored already?”

“No, not really,” Kerry said.

“Both Megan and Kaitlyn are married off,” James said.

“They aren’t married,” Sam said. “Unless they snuck off someplace and did it after we left.”

Sid laughed. “They’re as good as married. The rest is just a formality.”

“There are other braves with you guys?” Will asked.

Ryan snickered. “They captured a couple of white boys. Well, a white boy and a Mexican boy.”

Will chuckled. “They don’t know yet, do they?”

“Hey,” Tyler said. “Both of those boys, as you call them, are great warriors. We’ve fought with them. Any woman of our tribe would be proud to have them.”

Sam chuckled. “Hell, I place Kaitlyn as about the second-best fighter we have.”

“Yeah, she was always good at that sort of thing,” Kerry said. “She’s scary good.”

“I didn’t mean any disrespect,” Ryan said. “Really. And those two couples get along well. Both those guys are used to more aggressive women. It’s a good fit.”

“Where did you lose the others?” Will asked.

“Ambush in Dulzura,” Tyler said, feeling himself choke up. “We were lucky anybody survived.”

“Thank Ji-Ho and that crazy Battle Wagon of his for that,” Ryan said.

“True that,” James said.

“Who’s Ji-Ho?” Kerry asked.

“A crazy old Korean guy,” James said. “He’s just like Silver Wolf. Total tech nut. He’s got an RV with a mini-gun mounted on a retractable turret.”

“Mini-gun?” Kerry asked. “Hell, do you know what those things can do?”

“Chew through a lot of ammo in a hurry,” Sam said.

“That’s for sure,” Tyler said. “Saved our butts more than once, though.”

“True,” Sam said.

“Ji-Ho is a close associate of Ivan the Butcher,” Ryan said.

The three warriors stopped in their tracks.

“You’re kidding, right?” Will asked.

“Nope, he’s not,” Tyler said. “This guy’s in constant contact with Ivan. We’re getting more of those Battle Wagons. Should be there the day after we get back.”

“You’re going back?” Kerry asked. “I thought you were staying here.”

“They would’ve brought the others if they were staying here,” Will said.

“How many people are at this base?” Sam asked.

“Just under two hundred,” Will said.

“Holy crap,” Sid said. “How are you feeding yourselves?”

“Hunting, and runs to Lake Barrett’s general store,” Will said, “but we’re gonna have a problem pretty soon. We’re hunting the game down too much.”

“We need to be going further out,” Kerry said.

“We can’t go off our own land,” Will said, “or we’ll be poaching.”

Sam laughed. “I don’t think anybody’s paying attention, guys.”

“See, that’s what I’ve been saying,” Kerry said. “Desperate times require desperate measures.”

“Silver Wolf might not go for it,” Will said. “You know how he is.”

They got to a clearing, where there were people walking around and vehicles parked. To their right was a mine shaft. In front of that were a multitude of small dome tents. Past that on the left was the ghost town…a collection of grey-black wood buildings, some dilapidated, some burned, but a few in good shape. There was some modern bracing and good wood on a couple of the buildings. A huge coral towards the back held many horses. Another held mules. Tribe members eyed the strangers, some rushing up to greet Tyler and the other Barona warriors.

“Tyler,” shouted a young woman, rushing over, throwing her arms around him. They kissed deeply. James’s woman rushed him, then Ryan’s.

“Wow, there’s beautiful women in this tribe,” Sid said. “I have even more respect for these guys now.”

“Because of their choice of women?” Sam asked.

“No, because they’re willing to leave them to fight for the tribe,” Sid said. “That can’t be easy.”

“Guys, meet our wives,” Tyler said. “This is my wife Mia.” She smiled at them, a young woman of delicate beauty with dark eyes and shiny long black hair.

“This is Abby,” James said proudly. She was of heavier build, with a rounder face and a smile that lit up the whole area.

“Thanks for taking care of my James,” she said.

“And here’s my wife,” Ryan said, his tiny bride standing next to him, tears still on her cheeks. “This is Riley.” She had a fetching look, with happy features and a warm smile.

“Nice to meet you,” she said. “Are you hungry?”

“I am,” Ryan said.

“We all are,” James said.

“Think we should go get our Jeeps?” Sam asked.

“In the morning,” Sid said. “They’ll keep.”

“Okay,” Sam said. The women led them into the first repaired structure. It was a saloon, complete with a long bar on one side and coarse-looking tables and chairs in the middle of the room.

“You guys fixed this building up pretty well,” James said.

“I wouldn’t go upstairs,” Abby said. “A lot of the floorboards are rotten. We took out the ones that were in danger of falling from the ceiling.”

“It took a while to get all the bugs out of here,” Riley said.

“How’s Kaitlyn and Megan?” Abby asked.

“Fine,” James said.

“Is Kaitlyn still making the warriors look bad?” Mia asked.

The other women giggled.

“Pretty much,” Tyler said. “They both have men.”

“I’m not surprised,” Abby said. “Who?”

“We’ll tell you later,” Tyler said. “How’s it been going around here?”

“We need more game,” Mia said. “I wish we had some chickens and goats. Silver Wolf doesn’t want us to go there, but it’ll get harder and harder to stay here. Winter is not that many months away.”

“It’s six months away,” Tyler said. “The war should be over by then.”

“Don’t be so sure,” Sam said.

“We’ve got some stew,” Mia said. “We’ll bring you some. Sit.”

They left.

“Nice wives,” Sid said. “Nice place, too. Probably a little more authentic than Garrett’s town.”

“Garrett?” Kerry asked. “That guy still alive?”

“Garrett and his men saved our butts,” Tyler said. “Twice.”

“They still into those black powder guns?” Kerry asked.

“Yep,” Ryan said, shaking his head. “How do you know him?”

“We broke a bunch of horses for them,” Kerry said. “Stu and I.”

“Really?” Sid asked. “Their horses look pretty good.”

“Yeah, they got a good group from one of those auctions,” Kerry said. “Came from the Colorado River valley, not far from Lake Havasu.”

“I’ve seen them,” Sam said, “from my boat. Back in happier times. Connie was so thrilled when we saw them.”

“Is that your wife?” Kerry asked.

“She was killed in the big battle,” Tyler said softly. “Same explosion that killed One Eye.”

“Oh,” Kerry said. “Sorry.”

“I know,” Sam said. “I miss her so.”

“If Erica sees Sam, she’s liable to start chasing him,” Kerry said.

“Who’s Erica?” Sid asked.

“Widow,” Shane said. “A beauty for an older woman. She’s lonely, and she likes the rugged type.”

“What happened to her husband?” Sid asked. He glanced at Sam, who looked uncomfortable.

“Her husband was a pilot,” Shane said. “His plane went down in the mountains north of the reservation. That’s been about five years ago.”

“I might know him,” Sid said. “You talking about Buck?”

“Yep,” Shane said. “Good man.”

“Yeah, he was,” Sid said. “He flew me and a buddy into the back country for a hunting trip, seven or eight years ago.”

“You know everybody, don’t you?” Sam asked, laughing.

“Kinda seems like it sometimes,” Sid said. “Sorry to hear that Buck is gone.”

The women came back with a big pot of stew and bowls.

“What, none for us?” Kerry asked.

“You guys just ate,” Mia said. “Want to get fat?”

“I was kidding,” he said. “I’d better go find my wife. She’s going to want help with the kids.”

“Me too,” Kerry said.

“Yeah,” Shane said. “Maybe we can chat later.”

“See you guys later,” Will said. The three men walked out together.

“This is good,” Sid said. “What kind of meat is this?”

“Rabbit, rattlesnake, and a little venison,” Mia said.

“How much juice are you getting from that mill?” Sid asked.

“Only enough for the fridge, the lights, and charging of our electronics,” Mia said. “And our radios.”

“Wish we had air conditioning,” Abby said. “This little valley heats up like a damn blast furnace.”

“It does,” Riley said.

“You are sticking around for a while, I hope,” Mia said.

Tyler got an uncomfortable look on his face. “No, I have to go back, at least for a while.”

“Why?” Mia asked, eyes tearing up.

“Because we’re on the verge of kicking the enemy all the way out of eastern San Diego County and Imperial County. When that’s done, the war will be over for us.”

“Is that true?” Riley asked, looking at Ryan.

“I think it is,” Ryan said. “Believe me, if I could stay here, I would. I don’t want to be away from you or the girls.”

The men finished eating. Silver Wolf pulled the hovercraft up to the front of the building. “Hey, guys, want your guns?”

Sam got up. “Thanks for the food.”

“Yeah, that was great,” Sid said, following Sam out the door.

“Call Tyler over, and let’s chat,” Silver Wolf said.

“Sure,” Sid said. He went back to the door. “Hey, Tyler, Silver Wolf wants to chat.”

“Okay,” Tyler said, turning towards Mia. “I’ll be with you soon. I promise.” He kissed her on the forehead and left.

“Where should we meet?” Tyler asked.

“The next building down,” Silver Wolf said. “Oh, and while we’re by ourselves, you can call me Ed.”

“Okay, Ed,” Sam said. They walked down the broken wood sidewalk, avoiding the bad spots. Ed walked in the dirt street next to it.

“You guys are brave,” Ed said. “I damn near broke my leg on that thing.”

The others looked at each other and got onto the dirt. Ed chuckled. “This building is in better shape than the saloon.”

“What was it?” Sid asked.

“Combination jail and city newspaper, from what we can tell,” Ed said, “although we have a running argument about that.”

“What about it?” Sam asked.

“Some people here think the printing press is in there because it was confiscated.”

Sid chuckled. “Wait, didn’t they have the first amendment back then?”

“Yeah,” Ed said. “They also had property rights and due process.”

Tyler shook his head.

“He’s right,” Sam said. “Good thing to remember. There’s some lessons for today.”

“Yeah,” Ed said. “The conduct of powerful men never changes.”

They walked into the structure. There was a kerosene lamp already burning.

“Feel like a drink?” Ed asked.

“Don’t mind if I do,” Sid said.

They poured whiskey shots and sat at a round table in the middle of the room, a few feet away from the rusty bars of the jail cell, one of its hinges broken.

“Okay, what do you want to chat about?”

“I want you to convince me that I should let my warriors go back with you,” Ed said, “and Tyler, you be quiet until the end. Got it?”

“Yes,” Tyler said.

Sid started talking.

To be continued…

 

The Plan is now available in the Kindle Store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 7 – Flood of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

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

 

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 2017

Bugout! California Part 78 – Citizens United

IMG_1839(2)

Jules snickered as the intense stream of .50 cal fire cut into the line of Gaz Tigrs on the road.

“My God,” Shelly said, watching from behind Jules’s seat. Sparky was in the passenger seat manning the forward machine guns, taking out the few enemy fighters able to flee out of the ruined vehicles.

“Shelly, text to hold fire on mini-guns,” Jules shouted. “Save for assault on base. These done.”

Jules drove forward as she sent the text, pushing one of the ruined vehicles out of the way with the massive coach, clearing a space for the others to follow.

“Well, they obviously knew we were coming,” Sparky said. “And they knew what direction, too.”

“Yeah, that worries me,” Dana said from further back in the coach, M60 at the ready. “Seems like a trap.”

“We foiled it, if that’s what it was,” Sparky said. “Keep your eyes open. I expect an attempt to broadside us.”

“Watch for nail strips,” Shelly said to Jules.

“Yes, watching,” Jules said, glancing back at her. He made a right turn on 10th street, the Civic Center building coming into view.

“They’ve fortified it,” Sparky said. “See the sandbags?”

“Machine gun nests, no?” Jules said. “Shelly, text BearCat on my phone. In my shirt pocket.”

Shelly nodded and reached into his pocket to get it, locking eyes with him for a split second. He smiled at her, then focused on the road as they cruised past storage tanks and equipment yards.

“They think those sand bags are gonna help them,” Sparky said. “Are the other rigs hitting from the front?”

“Yes,” Jules said. “One pull up on Reed Way and lob mortar shells.”

“Who?” Sparky asked.

“Green coach,” Jules said. “Ted.”

“Good,” Sparky said. “Get ready.”

The four coaches pulled into the field behind the parking lot, all the mini-guns firing, splattering the machine gun nests along the back wall of the building. Then the BearCats rolled into view, joining in with their CROWS, hitting enemy fighters who were running for their lives.

“Look, some of those are Islamists, not UN Peacekeepers,” Sparky shouted, firing at them with the forward machine guns. Then there was a pop off to the right. The parking lot right behind the building exploded.

“Whoa!” Shelly shouted, eyes wide. “They missed.”

“Tell Ted he hit ten yards behind building,” Sparky said. “Use my phone.”

Shelly nodded and sent the text as Sparky fired again, hitting a Gaz Tigr that was rolling away from the building.

“I can’t stop that Tigr with this gun,” Sparky shouted.

Jules smiled and brought up the mini-gun, practically cutting the Tigr in half before their eyes, two of the other coaches joining in.

There was another pop, and the back half of the building exploded, glass flying in all directions.

“Nice,” Dana said, watching. “Look out, people running out of the back door. See them?”

Sparky nodded and fired with the forward guns. “Get ready with the M60. My field of fire doesn’t go far enough.”

“On it,” Dana said, opening fire, the belt of the M60 chattering as she strafed the parking lot, dropping all of the fleeing Islamists and UN Peacekeepers. Then there was another pop, and the building was hit again, knocking down the back walls.

“That’s gonna do them in,” Jules said. “Nice, no?”

“Yeah,” Sparky said.

The BearCats moved in closer, firing their weapons through the broken walls. Machine gun fire came from the front of the building, along Cherry Avenue.

“That the enemy trying to fight their way out?” Shelly asked.

“Nope,” Sparky said. “That’s mini-gun fire. We’re stopping them.”

The machine gun fire intensified, and some of the BearCats moved around the front as another mortar round took flight. It exploded into the broken building with a whoosh, flame rising and spreading all over the area.

“Geez,” Shelly said. “That’s not a good way to go.”

“No, it not,” Jules said. “Better them that us, no?”

There was silence for several minutes, and then law enforcement officers arrived in full body armor, carrying M16s and shotguns, rushing into the ruins. There were a few shotgun blasts, and then silence.

“It’s over,” Sparky said. “Roadblock?”

“Ten to one they’ve already left,” Dana said. “You know they heard this.”

“Stay sharp,” Sparky said.

“Yes, Sparky right,” Jules said. “They tried one trap. Maybe more. We should reload guns right now.”

“I’ll get on that,” Dana said.

“Me too,” Sparky said. “Shelly, be ready on that second M60, okay? Keep your eyes open.”

Shelly nodded and picked up the heavy gun, watching out the windows. Suddenly bullets began to pelt the side of the coach.

“Fighters on foot,” Jules said. “Send text. Broadcast to everybody.”

Shelly sent the text, then caught about thirty men rushing in from the left, from behind some storage tanks. “Get ready!” She pointed the M60 out the gun slit on that side and fired, taking down most of them.

“The mini-gun is reloaded,” Sparky said as he rushed back out. “Who’s shooting at us?”

“Look like Islamist fighters,” Jules said. “Man M60, they come from sides.”

“There’s another group there,” Dana said, pointing from the right-hand side of the coach. The enemy was coming at them in a full run, AK-47s blazing, Dana firing frantically. “There’s too many of them!”

The other coaches joined in, and the police officers rushed over, dropping to prone position and firing as the BearCats came over to help. Then there was different gun fire. Single shots, sounding like they were coming from all directions.

“What the hell is that?” Sparky shouted.

“It citizens, look,” Jules said, big grin on his face. Suddenly there were hundreds of people rushing in, firing hunting rifles and shotguns. “They wake up.”

“Holy crap, look at all of those guys,” Dana said.

“Be careful not to hit them!” Shelly shouted.

“Hold fire, they got this,” Jules said, watching in amazement.

The Islamists tried to find cover, running around in a panic as a thick curtain of lead flew at them.

“This what we start,” Jules said. “This what we need. Go USA!”

The battle only lasted another four or five minutes. The police officers emerged from their vehicles, rushing out to meet the citizens.

“Come, we go chat,” Jules said. He drove the coach to the back of the parking lot and parked, the other coaches on their side following suit.

Jules got up and left the coach, taking Shelly by the hand and helping her down. Sparky and Dana joined them. Tex was already outside with Karen. Ted trotted over from the right-hand side.

“Not bad, no?” Jules said to Tex.

“That’s an understatement, partner,” he said. “Let’s go talk to the cops and the leaders of the citizens.”

“Yes,” Jules said. He started to walk towards them with Tex.

“Wait for me,” Shelly said, rushing after them. Dana and Sparky joined them too. The large group of citizens and police were gathered around the BearCats, several officers standing on top of the armored vehicles watching the nearby buildings and streets.

“Are you Jules?” asked one of the officers.

“Captain Jenkins?” Jules asked.

“Yep,” he said, smiling. “Glad to meet you.”

“Thanks for help. Where did citizens come from?”

“That’s a good question,” Captain Jenkins said.

“We’re all locals,” said a large man with a red beard and long, dark brown hair. “Bill Callahan.”

“Glad you showed up when you did,” Captain Jenkins said.

“Yes, me too,” Jules said. “You had enough of these thugs, no?”

“They kidnap our women and girls, and push people around,” Bill said. “This has been coming for a while. We’ve been organizing. Your arrival allowed us to jump in a little earlier than planned.”

Shelly was trembling, and Jules noticed. “Hey, you okay?”

“Sorry,” she said. “It brings back what we went through.”

“She was held hostage by these thugs too, wasn’t she?” Captain Jenkins asked.

“All of the women with this group went through that,” Sparky said. “We were lucky. We rescued them.”

Shelly was still trembling. Jules put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. She turned her face against his side and cried softly.

“Did you get your women back?” Dana asked.

“No,” Bill said, a grim look on his face. “We don’t know where they are.”

“Oh, God, I hope they weren’t in that building,” Ted said.

“No, we’ve all been in there,” Bill said. “We had to go in to pay special taxes, and to check in if we were going to alter our daily routine. There’s no place to hide in that building.”

“Pigs,” Jules said, still holding Shelly against him. She was settling down, and pulled away, locking eyes with him and mouthing thank you.

“Anybody know about that roadblock?” Tex asked. “We might have more work to do before we can get on our way.”

Captain Jenkins chuckled. “We rolled through there on our way here. Tried out the CROWS. They’re all dead on the road.”

“Wonder how they knew which way we’d be coming?” Sparky asked.

“That good question,” Jules said. “We need better intelligence. I’d like to help citizens get women back.”

“So would I, partner,” Tex said.

“We’ll work with the citizens on that,” Captain Jenkins said. “We’ll have to work together to keep these guys from coming back anyway.”

Bill smiled and shook the Captain’s hand. “Cue music. This is the start of a beautiful friendship.

Captain Jenkins smiled, and several of his men clapped, citizens joining in.

“Do you guys have to leave right away?” Bill asked.

“Afraid so,” Jules said. “Boss have plans for us in Bay Area.”

“Boss?”

Sparky chuckled. “Ivan.”

Bill’s eyes lit up. “You know that guy? I love that guy. I want to see more of his videos.”

“You shall, my friend,” Jules said. “Ted, where other coaches?”

“In a field on the other side of El Camino Real,” Ted said. “Should we space ourselves again, or go in a caravan?”

“Caravan,” Shelly said quickly. She covered her mouth. “Sorry, it’s scary being alone after what happened.”

“I agree,” Jules said. “We caravan. Much harder to take us then. Enemy already know we on way.”

“All right, let’s move out, then,” Sparky shouted.

“Good luck to you,” Jules said. “We be back by later, maybe we meet again, no?”

“I’d love it,” Bill said.

“Me too,” Captain Jenkins said.

The crowd dispersed.

“You better?” Jules asked, looking down at Shelly as they walked.

“I’m scared to death, but it’ll be okay,” she said.

“Good,” Jules said. He turned to the others following him. “Everybody reload before we take off.”

“I’ll text the coaches on El Camino Real and tell them that,” Shelly said, moving her phone in front of her face.

***

Sid drove the Jeep down Barrett Lake Road, trying to keep up with James and Tyler.

“They’re cranking along pretty good,” Sam said.

“Yeah. Hope they’re careful. Wouldn’t want to run smack dab into an enemy roadblock.”

Sam looked at him and nodded in agreement. “Some of these curves are blind as hell.”

Sid nodded as they went around one of those, feeling his pulse quicken until he was through it and could see the other Jeeps in front of him.

“Does this place we’re going have a name?” Sam asked.

Sid chuckled. “No, not really. It’s beyond a place called McAlmond Canyon.”

“Sounds rustic.”

“It’s a wasteland,” Sid said. “With lots of canyons to hide out in.”

“Canyons aren’t always good. Canyons have ridges overlooking them.”

Sid nodded, grim look on his face.

“You’re expecting them to be dead, aren’t you?” Sam asked.

“I’m afraid they will be,” Sid said. “Hoping against hope that they aren’t. This tribe deserves a break.”

“True that,” Sam said. “Look, they’re slowing down.”

“About where I expected,” Sid said. He watched as the first of the Jeeps turned off the road, heading down a steep embankment to a dry wash below. The second Jeep followed.

“Here we go again,” Sam said, gripping the hand hold as Sid went over the shoulder and down.

“This is kid’s stuff,” Sid said, glancing over at him. They followed the two Jeeps down the wash, then out of it and over to the side of the growing hills, hiding canyons every few hundred yards. The terrain was classic desert, sandy with rocks and small plants. Evidence of flash floods, shot up cans, and other junk was laying around.

“People leave a lot of mess, don’t they?”

Sid chuckled. “Yep. Can’t say I always took everything out. I’ve gotten smarter as I’ve grown older, at least.”

“Wonder how far back this is gonna be?”

“Miles,” Sid said. “I hope, anyway.”

“Does this land belong to the tribe?”

“Not here, but beyond another few miles it does,” Sid said. “Or at least they consider it theirs. It’s old land. Who knows how honest the government was with them back then.”

“Yes, white man speak with forked tongue.”

“Shut up,” Sid said, laughing.

They continued for nearly half an hour, going about twenty miles per hour. The terrain was uneven but not difficult.

“Haven’t seen any tracks,” Sam said.

“I’m sure they did something about those,” Sid said.

“They have fires and such?”

Sid laughed. “Wood fires? Probably not. Coleman stoves, yes. They probably have somebody doing supply runs every week or so.”

“Oh, geez, there’s more of those damn rock formations,” Sam said, pointing to the right.

“Don’t worry, we won’t have to go through that,” Sid said. “Anything else you’re scared of that I need to know about?”

“Women.”

Sid looked over at him and laughed. “Okay, you got me with that one.”

“You know I’m kidding. I was afraid of losing Connie, not of having her.” His eyes started to mist over.

“I know, it still hurts,” Sid said. “Probably always will some. I really don’t like leaving Yvonne alone in times like this.”

“You could’ve brought her, you know.”

“She wanted to come,” Sid said. “The others talked her out of it.”

“Others?”

“Tyler and James, mostly,” Sid said.

“You upset about that?”

“No,” Sid said. “I understand, I just don’t like it.”

“They’re making a sharper turn, towards that big formation to the left,” Sam said.

“Probably it,” Sid said. They followed the two Jeeps around the hill growing out of that side, and back into a deep canyon.

“They aren’t here,” Sam said. “I can see just about everything.”

“So it would appear,” Sid said, grim expression on his face. He pulled up next to where Tyler and James had parked, and they got out. James was standing outside of his Jeep.

“This where you expected them?” Sam asked.

“Yes,” James said, his brow furrowed. “Don’t even see a trace.”

Tyler got out of his Jeep, Ryan with him.

“No sign of them,” James said.

“That’s good,” Tyler said.

“Why’s that good?” Sam asked.

“That means they had time to clean up before they left,” Tyler said. “They moved on purpose.”

“I didn’t see any vehicle tracks coming this way,” Sam said. “Doesn’t look like they got chased out of here.”

“I’ll check for a message,” Tyler said. “Don’t worry, guys, they’re probably fine. Wait here.” He walked up towards the rising hill to the left, disappearing into the brush.

“He’s got a lot of confidence,” Sam said.

James looked over at him. “I’ll bet there wasn’t enough water here.”

“There was water here?” Sam asked.

Sid chuckled. “There are springs all over the place. We’ve been in a drought. The one here might have dried up.”

“How come he’s going off on his own?” Sam asked.

“To hide the message spot,” Ryan said.

“Oh,” Sam said.

Tyler trotted back, smiling. “They went to the second alternate location. The bad news is that it’s about four hours’ drive, and we’re gonna run out of daylight.”

“Shoot, how are we gonna get word back to the others?” Sam asked.

“Don’t worry,” Tyler said. “I talked to Kaitlyn and Megan before we left. I told them that if we weren’t back today, we were going to the alternate location, which would keep us here overnight.”

Sam chuckled and shook his head. “I always underestimate you guys. That’s a huge mistake.”

Tyler chuckled. “We keep things close to the vest. We have to, especially now.”

“We’d better get moving,” James said.

“Yeah, we’re burning daylight,” Sid said.

James snickered and shook his head. “You a cowboy or an Indian?”

“You know what I am,” Sid said. “Always wanted to say that.”

Sam shook his head. “Let’s go.”

The Jeeps took off again, heading out of this canyon and along a gigantic dry wash.

“You know where this second place is?”

“Yeah, it’s an abandoned mine, with a small ghost town next to it,” Sid said. “I know there’s water there.”

“Aren’t ghost towns a draw for campers and hikers?”

“Yeah, but this one is really far out. You definitely need four-wheel-drive to get to this place, unless you walk in or ride a horse. Remember that this area is illegal for off-roaders now.”

“Wonderful. Any more big rocks to climb?”

“Not that I know of,” Sid said. “Just a whole lot of open ground with no road. We’re going to need that extra gas we brought along to get back home from this little jaunt.”

“I take it you’ve been to this place before.”

Sid smiled, watching the road in front of him. “Yeah, this place is cool. I’m almost glad we’re going.”

“Are you nuts?”

“I said almost glad,” Sid said. “Some of the old buildings were still standing last time I was here, and since they cut this area out for off-roaders, I’ll bet they’re still in pretty good shape.”

“It got a name?”

Sid thought for a moment. “You know, I’ve never heard anybody say. Probably does.”

Sam pulled his phone out to do a search on ghost towns. “Crap.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Zero service.” Sam said.

“Then I’m glad Tyler tipped off the girls about this. Wonder if those new battle wagons will be there by the time we get back?”

“Ji-Ho said three days,” Sam said. “So probably not.”

“You don’t look that happy about getting those.”

“They inspire too much confidence,” Sam said. “The kind of confidence that can get you killed.”

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”

 

 

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