Bugout! California Part 113 – Boarding House

“He’s gonna pull us over,” Robbie said, looking in his rear-view mirror at the cop cruiser behind him, it’s red light shining. The siren blipped.

“Are you gonna pull over, or should I waste him with the rear guns?” Morgan asked.

“I’m gonna pull over,” he said. “We’re bulletproof.”

“Our tires aren’t,” Morgan whispered as Robbie slowed, pulling to the side of the road.

“So if he doesn’t shoot those right away, we’re probably fine,” Robbie said. “Put your piece out of sight.”

“Yeah,” Morgan said.

Robbie pulled over, and slid the heavy plate glass side window forward so he could talk to the officer, who was leaving his car.

“He’s alone, isn’t he?” Morgan asked.

“Yep. Might have called for backup or something.”

The officer walked up, looking around.

“Good day,” he said when he got to the window.

“Hello, officer,” Robbie said politely. “Did I do something wrong?”

“You’re not staying in town, are you?” the officer asked, searching his eyes.

“No, we’ve got a place outside of town,” Robbie said.

“How about your friends? They’re not coming here, are they?”

“Friends?” Robbie said.

The officer chuckled. “I saw what happened at the Mertins plant on TV.”

“Oh,” Robbie said, sensing the officer was a friendly. “You don’t have a problem with that?”

“Would’ve joined in had I known,” the officer said. “I’ll deny I said that.”

Robbie laughed. “Don’t blame you there. Are we gonna be okay?”

“I’m not going to mess with you, and I won’t tell anybody you’re here,” the officer said. “I just wanted to find out if there was going to be a battle here, that’s all. There are people I’d want to move away from town if that’s the case. People I love.”

“Gotcha,” Robbie said. “We aren’t planning anything here that I’ve heard about.”

“I think we understand each other,” the officer said. He pulled out his ticket book and scribbled something, then handed it up to Robbie. “Have a nice day. If you have issues or problems, feel free.”

“Thank you, officer,” Robbie said, looking at the phone number on the ticket. “Nice to know there are other patriots around.”

He nodded and went back to his car.

“Whoa,” Morgan said. “That was interesting.”

“I’ll say,” Robbie said, starting his engine. He pulled away slowly. “Smooth how he used his ticket book. If anybody was watching, it looked like a normal traffic stop.”

“I noticed,” Morgan said. “Maybe we’re gonna be okay.”

“We’ll be fine while we’re here, I suspect,” Robbie said. “Any hits around?”

Morgan picked Robbie’s phone off the center console and checked the apps. “Nobody in this town or near it. The closest large concentration is in Oakland.”

“Figures,” Robbie said. “There’s probably stragglers all over the place, though, right?”

“Oh, yeah,” Morgan said. “Lots of hits in San Jose, Palo Alto, and San Mateo. Also some in Berkley and Concord.”

“None in San Francisco?”

“Just a few here and there,” Morgan said.

“Interesting,” Robbie said. “Where do I turn?”

“Concannon Boulevard,” she said. “Take that to South Livermore Avenue, then get on Tesla Road. Follow that all the way out of town and into the hills. The name changes to Corral Hollow Road when we’re getting close to the RV Park.”

Robbie nodded. “There’s that street up ahead already.”

“We’ll have some twisty roads once we get out of town,” Morgan said. “You’ll be tired by the time we get to our destination.”

“No problem,” Robbie said. Morgan’s phone dinged. “Gil?”

Morgan looked up, smiling. “Yep, he got the apps too.”

“Excellent. Can’t wait till we get to the park.”

“Me too,” she said. “The fire’s still burning a little from the battle.”

“We have to get set up first, you know,” Robbie said.

“We’ll work together.” She shot him a sexy grin.

Robbie made the turn onto Concannon, curving towards the left after a mile, then making a tight right turn onto Livermore.

“That wasn’t fun,” Robbie said. “We aren’t on this one for very long, are we?”

“Nope,” Morgan said, watching her phone screen. “After this curves to the left, you’ll be making a right on Tesla, and then you’ll be out of town in a hurry.”

They were into the hills in minutes, cruising at a good clip on the empty road.

“This isn’t that tight,” Robbie said. “The curves are pretty gentle.”

“Give it time. It looks worse when you zoom out. This is a good road, though. By the way, the place we’re going is for the off-road park nearby.”

“Really?” Robbie said. “Used to love those. Bummer that we don’t have our jeep anymore.”

“Probably won’t have time to do off-roading anyway,” Morgan said. “Hard to believe we just left the city. Feels remote out here.”

“Part of it is the lack of cars,” Robbie said.

“I’m surprised the RV Park is open.”

“Hell, it might not be,” Robbie said. “Might just be some special deal that Jules and Ivan set up.”

They followed the road through the hills, clumps of trees showing up every so often.

“Look there,” Morgan said, pointing at blackened ground and trees. “Must have been a brush fire recently.”

“Welcome to California.” Robbie glanced at her, smiling.

“That’s right, you’re a native,” she said, looking out the windshield. “I could get used to it here, if the government wasn’t so crazy.”

“Here’s a big curve,” Robbie said, turning the coach hard, applying the brakes.

“Wow. Careful.”

“Time to slow down a little bit,” Robbie said. “Sorry.”

“You’re doing fine,” Morgan said.

“More curves coming. Spoke too soon. Some of these are pretty tight.”

“Take your time, honey,” Morgan said. “We’re not in a hurry.”

“I know,” Robbie said, hands gripping the wheel. They rolled along for nearly a half hour before they saw the signs for the RV Park and the OHV facilities.

“We’re getting close,” Morgan said, looking at her phone. “Wonder if we’re gonna have to pay?”

“I’ve got cash if we need to,” Robbie said. “Hope there’s a camp store there.”

Morgan chuckled. “There it is. See it? Looks almost empty. Sparse. Not many trees.”

“Geez,” Robbie said, looking at it as they approached.

“There’s the driveway, to the right,” Morgan said, pointing. Robbie took it, slowing to a crawl as they neared the office building.

“They have a small store,” Robbie said. “Looks like only about five coaches here. The whole damn place is visible from the road.”

“I wouldn’t worry about that. There’s nobody on this damn road.”

“Good point,” Robbie said as they pulled into the check-in lane. He shut down the engine, and they left the coach, walking down the steps into the warm, dry air.

“Wow, there’re dirt race-tracks on either side of this place,” Morgan said as they walked.

“I’ll bet it’s noisy as hell here when they’re busy,” Robbie said. “This was my dream place when I was in Junior High.”

“I’ll bet,” Morgan said. “Back home we just drove off the road a little. There were off-roading places everywhere.”

“Country girl,” Robbie said, shaking his head.

“At least you didn’t call me a hick,” she said, smiling as Robbie pushed open the door and held it for her. They entered, walking up to the counter. There was a middle-aged woman sitting behind the register, eating a popsicle.

“Howdy,” she said, standing up, wiping her mouth. She set the popsicle down on a paper towel. “You Robbie?”

“Yep,” he said. “This is Morgan.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Jill.”

“Not many people here,” Morgan said.

“Damn war killed our business. We just have a few locals living here. The rest of the trade hasn’t been around for more than a month.”

“You got something that’s a little away from the road?” Morgan asked.

“We’ve got you set up in thirty-six,” Jill said. “Oh, and your Jeep was dropped off this morning.”

“It was?” Robbie asked.

“Glad they did it in time,” Morgan said, eyeing Robbie. “We didn’t expect it until tomorrow.”

“How much do we owe you?”

“Paid in full,” Jill said. She got out a map and drew on it with a felt-tipped pen. “We’re here. Just follow the line. It’s a pull-through, 50 amp.”

“You got a store?” Robbie asked. “We could use some food.”

“Yes, but I’ll have to open up for you. Can you wait until tomorrow morning?”

“Sure,” Robbie said. “Thanks.”

The couple walked back to the rig with the map and pamphlet in hand.

“Well that was easy,” Morgan said.

“Glad they brought the Jeep. They had this whole thing planned to a T.”

“Indeed,” Morgan said, waiting as Robbie unlocked the coach door, then climbing up. “I’m so glad we’re here.”

“Yep,” Robbie said, getting behind the wheel. He fired up the rig and drove it down the long access road, finding their spot quickly.

“We can see the road from here,” Morgan said.

“Hell, you can see the road from every single space I’ve seen here,” Robbie said, shooting her a grin. “This place is solely focused on the off-road park. I’ll bet this is filled with drunk off roaders on Friday and Saturday nights.”

“During normal times,” Morgan said.

“Normal times,” Robbie said as he drove into their space. “At least the front of the coach isn’t facing the highway.”

“There’s more coaches here than I expected,” Morgan said.

Robbie shut down the engine, then started the auto-level program. Morgan got up. “Can I walk around while this is going?”

“May want to give it a minute,” Robbie said.

She nodded and sat back down until the coach settled.

“There we go,” she said, getting up again. “Hungry?”

“Yep,” Robbie said.

“Good, I’ll see what I can come up with while you get us hooked.”

Robbie pulled her into his arms and kissed her, then left the coach to do the hookups, leaving her looking at the door.


“Wow, this is something,” Anna said as Garrett drove her into Dodge City. It was a long western street, with buildings on either side, looking like a movie set. He parked and got out to open Anna’s door. She took his hand and stepped out. “Wow, realistic down to the mud in the streets.”

He chuckled, holding her hand as they went to the wooden sidewalk, his boots clomping on them as they walked towards the saloon.

“What, the first place we’re going is the bar?” Anna asked, shooting him a sly grin.

“That’s where my friends will be,” he said, helping her through the door.

“Garrett, you old son of a gun,” said a short, skinny old man behind the bar. “This the woman I’ve been hearing about?”

“Sure is, Willard. Her name’s Anna. Anna, this is Willard.”

“Nice to meet you,” she said. “You two related?”

“He’s my cousin,” Garrett said.

“Yep, can’t you tell the resemblance?” Willard asked, laughing.

Garrett shook his head. “Willard here was the black sheep of the family.”

“You tell her,” Willard said. “You drinking?”

“One,” Garrett said. “People staying on the wagon for the most part?”

“Yeah, pretty much,” Willard said. “Rumor has it we’re not going into Julian.”

“Those rumors are true, and I agree,” Garrett said.

“What’s we gonna hit instead?”

“New UN headquarters,” Garrett said. “That’s all I’ll say right now.”

“You want a drink, Ms. Anna?” Willard asked.

“Maybe just half a shot,” she said.

Willard poured a full shot glass and a half one, then poured one for himself. He held it up. “Here’s to new friends and old.”

“I’ll drink to that,” Garrett said.

They tossed them back.

“Where’s everybody else?” Garrett asked.

“Home, for the most part,” Willard said. “Jess and Frankie went hunting with a few other folks. Probably won’t be back until tomorrow morning.”

“Figured we’d need to do that,” Garrett said.

“How’s the game holding up around here?” Anna asked. “Tyler said it was getting a little sparse around the Williams place.”

“Damn drought really knocked the herd for a loop,” Willard said. “We need a few wet years, like we had back in 2016.”’

Garrett chuckled. “Yeah, a lot of things were better back then.”

“Damn straight, brother, but things aren’t all bad now,” Willard said. “Now we get to shoot back. Saw this mess coming all the way back in 2016.”

“Preaching to the choir,” Garrett said. “I’m gonna go visit my sis. See you later. Pass the word around that I’m in town for a day or two.”

“Will do,” Willard said.

“This really is cool,” Anna said as they walked out of the saloon. She looked at a horse-drawn wagon coming slowly up the street. “No cars on this street?”

“We discourage driving through the middle of town, but just about everybody has some kind of motor vehicle,” Garrett said as they walked, past a hotel and the sheriff’s office and a bank. “Our pride and joy is the opera house, but we don’t have any talent to run it now. Before the war we were bringing people in and putting on shows. Drew a lot of the locals out here.”

“I remember reading about that,” she said. “Always wanted to come.”

“You should have,” Garrett said.

“My husband didn’t like that sort of thing,” she said.

“Well I do,” Garrett said. “Sis lives up there.” He pointed to a two-story boarding house across the street. “Hey sis!” he yelled.

After a moment one of the second story windows opened, and a gray-haired woman stuck her head out.

“What are you yelling about, you old goat?”

Garrett chuckled. “She’s a little salty.”

Anna smiled. They went across the street, avoiding the mud and road apples.

By the time they got to the wooden sidewalk, the gray-haired woman was waiting for them, a grin on her face. She rushed up and hugged Garrett. “Glad you survived that last battle. Heard bad things.”

“We lost people,” Garrett said. “This is Anna. Anna, this is Susanne, my big sister.”

“Great to meet you,” Susanne said. “Heard this old fool got himself a girlfriend.”

Anna smiled, watching Garrett get embarrassed. Both women laughed.

“All right, all right,” Garrett said.

“Come on in. Want some coffee?”

“Sounds great,” Anna said. They walked into the door ahead of Garrett.

“Hey, Garrett, you want something stronger than coffee?” asked an old bald man in the back of the parlor. He was large with an imposing demeanor.

“Don’t you dare, Elmer,” Susanne said.

Elmer laughed, rushing over to shake hands with Garrett.

“This is Anna,” Garrett said.

“Heard you took a woman from the nations,” he said, a sly grin on his face, his scraggly beard making him look goofy.

“Took a woman?” Susanne asked, shaking her head. “Sorry, Anna. Elmer engages his mouth before his brain kicks in.”

“It’s a stream of consciousness thing,” Elmer said, following the comment with a snicker. “You’re lovely, Anna. Hope you float Garrett’s boat as well as Susanne floats mine.”

“Oh, please,” Susanne said, face turning red. “You’re just a gentleman friend. Nothing more.”

“What about last night?” Elmer asked, sending a wink to Anna, who chuckled.

“Shut up about that,” Susanne said. “It was a weak moment.”

“Been a lot of those lately,” Elmer said. “Maybe I should just move in.”

Susanne rolled her eyes. “Ignore him. I’ll go get the coffee.”

Anna followed Susanne into the kitchen. Garrett sat on one of the antique loveseats. He shot a grin at Elmer and put his booted feet up on the table in front of it.

“You’re a brave man,” Elmer said. “How’d you get hooked up with Anna? She’s cute, by the way.”

“We’re just friends, really,” Garrett said. “I like to talk with her.”

“Uh huh,” Elmer said. “I know that look she’s giving you.”

“There are some sparks,” Garrett said. “I’m not discouraging them.”

“Here they come,” Elmer whispered. Garrett pulled his feet off the table and sat up, straight and formal.

“Got your feet off my table pretty quickly,” Susanne said, walking back into the room with Anna. Susanne turned to her. “He looks housebroken, but he’s as much of a beast as Elmer is.”

Anna chuckled.

“You two gonna shack up?” Elmer asked.

“Dammit, Elmer, stop that,” Susanne said. “It’s not polite.”

“I’m just kidding. Don’t get your bustle in a bunch.”

Garrett laughed, patting the space next to him. Anna came over and sat there.

“I think your sister is lovely,” Anna said.

“She’s that, but she’s also ornery as all get out,” Garrett said. “Without her operation, we’d be toast.”

“Operation?” Anna asked.

“I run the ammo factory,” she said with pride. “Dangerous work because of the black powder, but we’ve got it down. We need some more brass, though. You got any ideas, Garrett?”

“I’ve asked my guys to save what brass they can,” Garrett said, “and we’ve been picking it up off the ground after battles. We still need a better source, though, now that the routes into Arizona are shut down.”

There was sputtering from the kitchen. Susanne got up and rushed back there, Anna joining her.

“They’re conspiring against us,” Elmer whispered, a grin on his face.

Garrett shook his head. “When are you gonna make an honest woman out of her?”

“Like Susanne would go for that. I’ve already tried. I’ll just take what I can get at this point.”

Garrett chuckled. “Well, whatever makes you two happy.”

“You’re taking Anna to your spread?”

“Yeah, I’ll take her out there,” Garrett said. “Might bring her back here tonight, though, so she can have a room in the hotel.”

“Don’t count on that,” he whispered. “Here they come.”

The women were back, each with two coffee cups in their hands.

“Good,” Garrett said after his first sip.

“When do our men get back?” Susanne asked. “The large group.”

“They’re probably already at the Williams place,” Garrett said. “I’ll leave some of them there to help protect it.”

“Why don’t you just move everybody here?” Elmer asked.

“Might come to that,” Garrett said. “We’ve got room, that’s for sure.”

“Then why not?” Anna asked.

“Don’t want all of our eggs in one basket,” Garrett said. “Being split between the two locations makes an assault twice as hard for the enemy.”

“Yeah, but they have to go against a force that’s double the size,” Susanne said.

“These folks have access to advanced weapons like artillery,” Garrett said. “That can water down our numbers quick, and then we’re done.”

Anna nodded in agreement. “It helps to have your forces in more than one place. Our tribe would be gone now had we all stayed together.”

“Yep,” Garrett said. “We could get bottled up in here, too. Not something we couldn’t put down, but how many people would we lose? They could lob shells in here and blow the hell out of our little town, too. Better to have them worried about their backsides.”

“Hope you two are right,” Susanne said.

“You worried, honey?” Elmer asked, moving closer to her on the couch.

“Stop it,” she said.

Garrett’s phone rang. He answered it, his face showing a smile.

“What?” Anna asked.

“Thanks, man,” Garrett said into the phone before he ended the call. “Ed’s been found.”

“Alive?” Anna asked. “Obviously that’s a yes, with that grin.”

“Yes, he’s alive, but we almost didn’t find him in time. His hovercraft broke down in a bad spot.”

“Never trusted that damn thing,” Anna said.

“Well, this is great news,” Elmer said. “It calls for a drink.”

“You don’t drink anymore,” Susanne said.

“I know, but it still calls for it. I don’t have to answer the call.”

Anna laughed. “You two are a riot.”

“I’m a riot,” Susanne said. “He’s a stupid old coot.”

“Yeah, but you love me,” Elmer said.

Susanne rolled her eyes.

“I think we’ll get going,” Garrett said. “I want to show the homestead to Anna while it’s still plenty light.”

“Yes, I’d love that,” Anna said.

“Look at the love birds,” Elmer quipped.

“Oh, leave them alone,” Susanne said. “I think it’s sweet.”

They said their goodbyes, and Garrett walked Anna outside.

“I love them,” Anna said, “and I’m so relieved about Ed.”

“Me too,” he said. “We’ll need to go get the truck. I’m a few miles outside of town.” He walked with her back to the parking spot, and they got into the truck, Garrett taking it on a back road to the far end of town, then onto a well-worn dirt road.

“They think we’re a couple,” Anna said as they drove along. “Did you tell them that?”

“No, that’s their idea, although you’re the first woman I’ve brought out to meet them.”

“I see,” Anna said. “We going to an old-west shack, or is it a modern house with a bathroom?”

“Don’t worry, we’re on septic. No outhouse.” He looked at her and chuckled. “There’s plenty of horses and cattle. I’ve got hands living in a bunkhouse on the edge of the property.”

“I hope this place has a bathtub big enough for the both of us,” she said.

“Oh, really now?”

“You have a problem with that?” she asked.

“Not even a little bit,” Garrett said, rolling down the road.

“It’s so pretty out here,” Anna said.

“Something’s wrong,” Garrett said, looking at the gate as they approached. “The gate’s open. Shouldn’t be.”

Anna looked at him, fear in her eyes. “We’ve got guns, right?”

Garrett pulled over, getting out and rushing to the truck bed, pulling back the tarp and grabbing two lever action rifles. He brought them up to the cab, then drove forward.

“These easy to shoot?” Anna asked.

“They’re just like modern Winchesters, except they kick less and let off some smoke,” he said, going through the gate, staring around the area.

“Is that a body over there?” Anna asked, pointing.

“Dammit,” he said. “Wait here, and keep the gun in your lap, okay?” I’m leaving the keys in the truck and the motor running. If something happens to me, high-tail it.”

Anna nodded yes as Garrett got out, grabbed one of the rifles, and trotted into the pasture.

To be continued…


Bug Out! California Book 1 has just been published, and is now available in the Kindle Store, free in Kindle Unlimited!


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Copyright Robert Boren 2017


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