Jules backed the coach into the work bay, Shelly in the passenger seat. “I think we in.”
“The tech is motioning to keep moving backwards,” Shelly said.
“Okay,” he said, giving the massive coach a little more gas.
“Hold it there,” Shelly said.
Jules shut down the coach. “What time?”
“It’s about five,” Shelly said. “What time is dinner?”
“Six,” Jules said. “Walk?”
“Sure, why not,” Shelly said, getting out of her seat. Jules followed her out the door of the rig.
“How long?” Jules asked the tech.
“Five hours,” he replied.
“So, we sleep in house tonight?”
“No, you’ll have this back by about ten,” the tech said. “We’ll have two more coaches in here to work on by then, and they’ll use the house.”
“Okay,” Jules said. “Thank you.”
“I’m just as glad,” Shelly said as they walked out. “That coach kinda feels like home now.”
“Yes,” Jules said. “It is home.”
“Hey, Partner,” Tex said as he saw them leaving the warehouse. “They’re doing yours now, huh?”
“Yes,” Jules said.
“Hi, Tex,” Shelly said. “Where’s Karen?”
“She’s inside freshening up,” Tex said.
“Things all right between you two?” she asked.
“We’re past the battle stage, I think,” he said with a sheepish grin.
“Good,” Shelly said.
“Yes, good,” Jules said. “How’s coach?”
“They did a great job,” Tex said. “Love the sight on the M19, and I love that we can shoot either gun from three different locations in the coach.”
“Three locations?” Shelly asked.
“Both front seats, and bedroom,” Jules said.
“It’d be a life saver if we get attacked while we’re asleep, little lady,” Tex said. “I was wondering why Ivan would be okay with gutting our bedroom. They used ours as the pilot to do that retrofit.”
“The bedroom fine now?” Jules asked.
“Seems fine,” Tex said. “We’ll see how it is to sleep in tonight. What are you guys up to?”
“Walk before dinner,” Jules said.
“How romantic,” Tex chided.
“Shut up,” Shelly said. A faint smile washed over her face.
“I’m just kidding, little lady. Enjoy.”
Jules and Shelly walked off, down a path with a canopy of tree branches.
“It’s pretty here,” Shelly said.
“Yes, is,” Jules said. “Reminds me of family estate in Belgium.”
“Your family has an estate?” Shelly asked, looking up at him.
“Still?” she asked.
“Still,” he said. “Sister and brother there. Me when I’m in Europe.”
“You don’t like it over there anymore? Or did you leave when Ivan was forced out of the EU?”
Jules chuckled. “I not follow Ivan out, if that’s what you say.”
“You didn’t? Then why did you leave?”
“American citizen,” Jules said.
“You’re an American citizen?”
“Yes,” Jules said. “Fifteen year.”
“Are you still a citizen of Belgium?”
“Yes,” Jules said. “Family business still there. Dual citizen. Sticky mess with taxes, but I put up with.”
“Why are you over here now, with all this mess? Couldn’t you just ride this mess out from there?”
Jules chuckled. “You not understand war fully.”
“It’s just a bunch of crazy jihadists trying to spread Islam,” Shelly said. “Isn’t it?”
“Then why UN here?” Jules asked.
“I was wondering about that,” she said.
“You don’t think they here for moral purpose, I hope.”
“There’s been stories of UN Peacekeepers abusing populations before,” Shelly said.
“UN over here using martial law, rape, and murder to subjugate population. This my country. I stop. I fight.”
Shelly looked at him, the wheels turning in her head.
“You know Globalists control EU and UN, no?”
“That’s conspiracy theory stuff, isn’t it?” Shelly asked.
Jules looked at her, watching her think it through.
“Quit staring at me like that. It feels like you can see into my brain.”
“Sorry,” Jules said, looking forward again.
“Why would the Globalists want to send the UN over here to subjugate Americans?”
“What’s so funny?” she asked, starting to get annoyed. “They’re here to help with the Islamists, right?”
“UN and Islamists on same team. Work together. EU involved. This why I not stay there.”
“Crap,” Shelly said. “Is the US Government in on this?”
“Dammit,” Shelly said.
Jules stopped walking, and pulled her close. “You part of resistance. Be proud.”
“Wait a minute,” she said, pulling herself away from him. “This isn’t making sense.”
“Sorry,” Jules said, backing away, eyes still on her. It wasn’t anger in his eyes. It was love and pride. “You on verge of understanding.”
“You’re saying that my own government participated in my rape.”
“Yes,” Jules said, “but own government no longer of people. This is what we fight to take back. We stop their pilot project in west.”
“Martial law in California,” Jules said. “Pilot for whole country.”
“So why are they working with the Islamists?”
“They think muscle help them,” Jules said. “Saladin turn. Take world for Caliphate after Globalists win.”
“How come this kind of fighting isn’t going on in the EU?”
“EU already subjugate people. Royalty still in control of Europe. No guns for people, no free speech for people, restrictions on everything. Noose in place around European neck. If America fall, trap door under Europe kicked out from under people.”
Shelly was starting to tremble, looking up at him with teary eyes. “This can’t be true. You’re lying.”
“Don’t worry,” Jules said softly. “They stupid. We win. Martial law gone in LA and Orange Counties. Nearly gone south of there. Gone in rural areas to east. Now we make final assault. Take back northern areas.”
“What if they send in reinforcements? They must have huge resources.”
“Three hundred fifty million guns in citizen hands,” Jules said. “That what spoil plan. That why constant gun control talk come from Feds over many years. Won’t work. Once people really free, tyranny very difficult for Globalists to impose.”
Shelly was silent for a few minutes as they walked.
“Are you really a mobster?” she asked.
Jules laughed. “I said. Resistance. That full time job for now.”
“Is Ivan a mobster?”
“Same as me for now,” Jules said. “Later go back, maybe.”
“He’s going to take over if we win, isn’t he?”
“That isn’t funny.”
“No, Ivan not do that. Even if want, he have same problem Globalists have. Can’t fight army of three hundred million.”
“I have to think this whole thing through,” Shelly said. “We should turn back. Dinner will be soon.”
“Yes,” Jules said. “Hungry.”
“Do the others know?” Shelly asked.
“Tex, Sparky, Ted, and Cody know. Robbie smart, figured out on own. Small wonder.”
“Why small wonder?”
“Father key to victory in Southwest,” Jules said. “Don’t tell anybody.”
“Who’s his father?”
“Genius,” Jules said. “Hope to meet someday. You handle top secret?”
“Yes, tell nobody, even inner circle. You can do, no?”
Shelly searched his eyes. “Why would you tell me?”
“You’re my second,” Jules said.
“What do you mean by that? If something happens to you, I wouldn’t be running things, would I?”
“No,” Jules said. “Tex. I mean you’re my right-hand person. You must know what I know.”
“You trust me that much?”
“Yes,” Jules said. “You can’t tell this? Should be obvious by now, no?”
She sighed. “I know you like me, but this is different.”
“Different, yes, but not unconnected,” Jules said. “Well?”
“Yes, you can trust me, Jules,” Shelly said, “and I trust you.”
“You trust me?”
“Several nights sleeping naked in bed with you,” Shelly said. “You haven’t tried anything. You won’t, unless I let you. I know that.”
“Good, that true,” Jules said. “Robbie. Ivan and I make think he in danger because of father.”
“What do you mean?”
“Robbie find out father is leader of resistance.”
“How? Is he talking to him?”
“Communications difficult. Father thinks Robbie in army.”
“Oh, a cover story,” Shelly said. “So how?”
“Internet searches. Ran across photo of resistance camp in Utah. Parent’s motor home on picture. Mom’s face behind windshield.”
“Did you know about that?”
“No,” Jules said. “No idea. Ivan and I make plan to keep him with group no matter what.”
“Protect,” Jules said. “If enemy know, they use.”
“How do you know his father is really that important?”
“General Hogan tell Ivan when they chat,” Jules said.
“Still not getting this.”
“I make sound like Ivan wants to lock up or kill Robbie so he can’t be used against father,” Jules said. “Hated to do. Now Robbie scared, but Ted and Sparky made him believe he’ll be okay.”
“You don’t want him sneaking off to join his parents, then?”
“Right,” Jules said, “and we don’t want enemy to see internet searches on father either. This make Robbie think twice. That all.”
“Couldn’t you just tell him the truth?”
“No,” Jules said.
“It parents,” Jules said. “Emotions charge situation. He might monitor, see trouble, want to save. That would be bad.”
“Oh, I get it,” she said. “There’s a lot that I don’t know, isn’t there?”
“You know more than most of group; almost as much as me.”
“What don’t I know?” she asked.
He chuckled. “I not show management workup, but I will.”
“Yes,” Jules said. “We rate team like I rate normal employees. Code. Work to develop.”
“Who did this rating, exactly?”
“I, with Tex, Ted, and Sparky,” he said.
“So how did I rate?”
Jules chuckled. “I figured you’d ask.”
“Sorry,” she said. “You don’t have to tell me.”
“You in chief of staff position,” Jules said. “Useful for you to know.”
“You’ve got this written down, don’t you?”
Jules laughed. “I run multi-million-dollar business. We do with executive team. All executives do.”
Shelly thought about it for a moment. “You’re right. We did that when I was producing.”
“Yes,” Jules said. “What you and I do valuable. You understand that, no?”
“Never thought of it that way,” she said.
“We rank leader, trusted, probation, high potential,” Jules said. Color code. I like visuals.” He pulled out his phone and brought up a file, showing it to her.
“My name is coded in red,” she said. “What does that mean?”
“High potential,” Jules said.
“Oh,” she said, smiling at him. “Thank you.”
“Welcome, but not gift. You are what you are.”
“Oh,” she said. “Blue is obviously leadership. What’s green?”
“Trusted,” Jules said.
“Probation,” Jules said.
“Is that bad?”
“No, not bad, unproven,” Jules said. “Trusted people participated in battles before.”
“Okay, I get it,” she said. “What are those black blocks. I can’t read names.”
Jules looked at her silently, tears forming around his eyes. “They sacrificed.”
“Oh, God, it’s the people who are dead now,” Shelly said. “This really bothers you, doesn’t it?”
“Does,” he said, “I’m too emotional. My flaw.”
“That’s far from a flaw,” Shelly said.
“I can’t talk about. I hid names because of that.”
She put her arm around his waist. “It’s okay.”
“Hey, Jules, wondered where you were,” Sparky said, walking towards them with Dana. “Dinner’s almost ready. Smells good.”
“Hi,” Shelly said. “We were just on a walk. It’s so pretty here.”
“Isn’t it?” Dana asked, smiling, arm around Sparky’s waist. Shelly realized hers was still around Jules and dropped it, face turning red.
“Let’s eat,” Jules said, smiling. “Famished.”
“Yeah,” Sparky said. “Me too.”
They walked towards the house.
“Sam, come over here.”
His head snapped around, looking at the trail, dark and cold. “Connie?”
“Who do you think it is, sweetheart? Did you forget my voice already?”
“No, I,” he said.
“Softly, or they’ll hear,” Connie whispered. Her form walked towards him, in a white shift, her eyes glowing.
“I’m so sorry,” he said, walking towards her.
“Don’t touch me,” she said. “Or I’ll disappear. I have something to tell you first.”
“Oh, honey,” Sam said, feeling his cheeks getting wet with tears.
“Don’t leave the fight,” she whispered. “Not yet. I know you want to. I know it’s bothering you, like it did when you were in the service. This isn’t something you can walk away from. Stay the course. You’re more important than you know.”
“I’ve cheated,” he said, full of shame.
She giggled, like she always did before. “Oh please.”
“I did,” he said. “With another.”
“My time is over,” Connie said. “It’s her time now. She’ll give you what I couldn’t.”
“No,” Sam said.
“Protect her, but trust her to fight,” Connie said. “She’s the mother of your children.”
“How can you know that?”
“Just trust,” Connie said. “Come closer.”
He moved towards her on the dark path, and suddenly it wasn’t dark anymore, and she looked like she did the day they met.
“Oh Connie, I love you so,” he said.
“Remember me,” she said. “Come to me.”
He rushed forward, arms going around her, and she vanished into thin air.
“Connie!” he cried.
The gunshot woke him, and he sat up, feeling Erica move next to him.
“Crap,” Erica said. “We’re under attack.”
“Let’s go,” Sam said, his heart racing as he pulled his clothes back on. Both were out of the tent in a flash, Erica with her AK-47 and Sam with his M16. “I’ve got to get the M60.”
“Where is it?”
“Under a blanket in Ed’s hovercraft,” he said, breaking into a run, getting there just as Ed did.
“Take your M-60. I’ll take a couple of warriors with me in this to figure out how many there are. Protect your woman.”
Sam froze, the dream rushing back into his head.
“Snap out of it,” Ed shouted. “We need you.”
“I’m good,” Sam said, grabbing the M60 and the belts of ammo, throwing them over his shoulder. “Know where they are?”
“Following our trail,” Ed said, “Guess they do have some decent trackers.”
“Or some other way to see us,” Sam said. “They keep finding us.”
Several warriors rushed over with their AK-47s and a mortar. “You ready, Uncle?” one of them asked.
“Yes, get in,” he said.
Sam watched them take off down the road towards the pass, as more shots were fired by the sentries on the north ridge. Then Erica was by his side. “C’mon, I know a good place to sneak past that hill.”
He nodded and followed her in a run, the guns heavy in his hands, belt slapping his back.
Erica ran into a notch in the side of the mountain and climbed up quickly, with the grace of an antelope, Sam trying to keep up. Then she stopped at the top and peered over.
“It’s awful dark still,” she whispered as he got next to her, “but the sun will be up real soon.”
“Yeah, the east is already glowing,” Sam said, setting down the M-16 and aiming the M60. There was more gunfire from the ridge.
“They aren’t shooting back at us,” Erica said. Then there were muzzle flashes from below them as a machine gun started, firing at the top of the ridge
Sam chuckled. “Now I have them.” He opened fire with the M60, Erica joining in with her AK-47. There were screams below them and the gunfire stopped. Then there was a pop, a mortar falling in the area, lighting up everything.
“Willie peter,” Sam said.
“Geez, I can feel the heat from that up here,” Erica said. “Look, there’s a few running away.”
“Got them,” Sam said, firing the M60 again, dropping all of them.
“You’re good with that thing,” she said.
“It feels like a comfortable old pair of shoes,” he said, grinning at her. “Wonder if that was all?”
“Probably,” Erica said. “They’d still be returning fire. You leave anything in the tent?”
“Nope, everything I own is with me right now,” he said.
“Good, because the tribe is leaving now. It’ll be hard to figure out which tent we were in. They’re already down.”
Sam turned around and watched as the tribe was leaving the area, the tents already gone. Most of them were already around the pass at the south ridge. “Wow, they’re good.”
“Yep,” Erica said.
“We’re going to wait until it’s light and clean up stragglers, right?”
“You got it,” Erica said. “Hopefully they didn’t have a larger force behind them.”
“You said a mouthful there.”
“I think we just stopped a scouting party,” Erica said. “I think one of the sentries saw them. I doubt they wanted to attack yet. They might not even have known we were just past the ridge. We’d know if there were a bunch more around.”
“Smell and sound,” Erica said. “The warriors are trained to pick that up.”
“Oh,” Sam said. They sat silently for a while, watching the area below them as the sun rose slowly.
“Yeah,” Sam said. “That’s Ed’s hovercraft.”
“He’s coming back. Wonder if he found a larger group?”
“Maybe,” Sam said. “We shouldn’t go down to meet him yet. We should watch from here until it’s completely light.”
They watched a while longer, the sun breaking over the far mountains now, bathing the area in yellow light.
“Nobody down there that I can see,” Erica said. “There’s really no cover.”
“Not when it’s light, anyway. “Those burned up bodies down there look a little disgusting. Maybe we should bury them.”
“Let the vultures take care of it,” Erica said.
Sam’s phone dinged. Then Erica’s.
“Broadcast text message,” Sam said, looking at his phone. “I’m almost out of battery.”
“Me too,” Erica said. “We can use Ed’s machine to recharge, but I’m sure we’re a ways back in the line. I’m gonna shut mine down. No reason to run both of them down to nothing. Bring up the message on yours, okay?”
“Yeah,” Sam said. He turned his screen so they could both read it. “Just like we thought. Scouting party.”
“They probably got a message off to their leadership,” Erica said.
“Probably,” Sam said. “Wish we knew if more were behind them.”
“I know,” Erica said. “We’re liable to stay on the road until we get out of here.”
“Tough on the older folks,” Sam said.
Erica laughed. “Hell, tough on us. I had plans for you before we left the tent, too, you know. Provided you weren’t feeling too guilty about last night.”
“You think I was feeling guilty?”
“You said Connie in your sleep a couple of times, right before the gunfire started.”
“You were awake?”
“Not for long,” Erica said.
“I had a dream,” Sam said. “That’s all.”
“Never ignore your dreams,” she said.
“Nothing,” Sam said.
“I’ll tell you about the dream someday,” he said.
“Uh oh,” she said, brow furrowed.
“Trust me, you’ll like what it was about.”
“You’re going to tell me that and just stop?” she asked.
“Yep,” he said, watching her thinking. He pulled her close and kissed her deeply.
“Wow, what was that for?”
“You know what it was for. We should take off, or we’ll get too far behind the tribe.”
“Yeah, I think it’s safe now,” Erica said, shooting him a sidelong glance before climbing down.
“Hope Ed is around so I can put this damn M60 back in it.”
“He’s down in the clearing where we were camped,” Erica said. “See?”
“Oh, yeah, now I see him,” Sam said. “Good.”
They climbed down the hill and walked over to him.
“You guys okay?” Ed asked.
“Yeah, we’re fine,” Erica said.
“Mind if I put this M60 in the back?”
“That’s why I waited here,” Ed said, smiling. Sam loaded it up.
“Mind taking up the rear for a while? I already took the two warriors back to the main group.”
“Sure, we’ll watch the back door,” Sam said.
“No problem,” Erica said.
“Okay, see you soon.” Ed fired up the hovercraft and drove forward.
“Alone again,” Sam said.
“Good,” Erica said. “Can you kiss me one more time?”
Sam pulled her into his arms again. “I think that could be arranged.”
To be continued…
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!
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