Tex and Karen sat next to each other on the couch as Ivan’s appearance ended.
“Gotta love Ivan,” Tex said.
Karen looked at him and smirked. “Ben Dover? Really?”
Tex chuckled, then his phone dinged. He looked at the screen.
“Uh oh,” Karen said.
“No problem. We have a meeting coming up in a couple hours.”
“About the rescue mission, I suspect,” Karen said.
“Yep,” Tex said. “Nervous?”
“Anxious,” she said. “I want to get this over with. Hell, I want to get this war over with.”
“And then what?”
“You need to ask?” she said, smiling at him.
“Oh,” he said. “You want to make a little Tex.”
“Or a little Karen,” she said. “I don’t care which comes first.”
“Planning on more than one, huh? When were we gonna discuss that?”
She smiled at him, then got up. “Hungry?”
“I could eat,” Tex said, getting up.
“Sit,” she said. “Check out the apps. We’re all by ourselves here. Don’t want anybody getting the drop on us.”
“Probably time to look again,” he said. “Haven’t looked at the long range app since before the Ivan show.” He looked while Karen got up and went to the fridge.
“We could really use more food,” she said.
“Crap,” Tex said.
“No cretins nearby,” he said. “I was in the mood to kill a few of them.”
“Dammit,” Karen said, shaking her head. “That’s really not funny.”
Tex chuckled. “The closest ones I see are west, on the other side of those mountains.”
“Good,” Karen said, “Not much food that I’m interested in.”
“There was a little restaurant down the street,” Tex said. “We could mosey over there for a little while.”
“I’m game, if you think it’ll be safe. How come there’s no checkpoints nearby?”
“Because we’re on the outskirts,” Tex said.
“Why the RV Park here?”
“You didn’t notice the sign for the Alameda County Fairgrounds?” Tex asked.
“Nope, missed that,” she said. “County Fairs. I used to love them.”
“What? There are fairs in Southern California?”
“Of Course,” Karen said. “There’s a huge one in Pomona. Big deal. Surprised you never heard of it.” She looked in the pantry.
“Oh yeah, I’ve heard of it,” Tex said. “Forgot.”
“Nothing good in the pantry, either,” she said. “Maybe we should go out.”
“Well, they delivered the Jeep, so we have a way,” Tex said. “I want to take guns, though.”
“Of course,” Karen said. “Let’s go.”
Tex stood up, picking up his handgun and slipping it into his waistband. “This ought to do.”
She snickered. “Will this rig be safe?”
“There’s only a few people here, and the person in the office is a friendly, so we’ll be fine,” Tex said.
They left the coach, locking it up, then got into the Jeep and headed for the front gate of the park, which was not much more than a big parking lot with hookups.
“Not very rustic, is it?” Karen asked. Tex chuckled as they got to the gate. The old woman in the office stuck her head out the window.
“You folks taking off?”
“Just to that diner down the street,” Karen said. “Seen any checkpoints around here?”
“Nope, we’re too far on the edge of the hills,” the woman said. “Watch out for the UN, though. They still patrol out here some.”
“They’ve slowed down on that?” Tex asked.
The woman came out to talk. “Call me Denise. Sorry I didn’t introduce myself earlier. I was a little nervous.”
“Okay, Denise. I’m Tex and this is Karen.”
“Good to meet you,” she said. “You know what they’ve done here. People are being forced to move closer to their jobs. Got them packed in like sardines in some of these towns. Disgusting.”
“Why haven’t they shut this RV park down?” Karen asked.
“The enemy has been using the fairgrounds for something,” she said. “They’ve had overflow crowds staying here a couple of times.”
“Maybe you should contact us next time they show up,” Tex said with a twinkle in his eye.
“Oh, I always let Ivan know,” she said. “You folks be careful and keep your eyes open. I’ll watch your rig. Not like there’s a bunch of foliage here to hide the coaches.”
“True that,” Tex said. “See you later, Denise.”
She nodded, going back into the office as Tex drove the Jeep out the gate.
“She’s nice,” Karen said.
“Yep, and she’s on our side,” Tex said. “Wonder what they’re using the fairgrounds for?”
“We aren’t going to check it out, are we?”
Tex smiled. “No, little lady, let’s just get a quick bite and then get back to the rig. We’ve got a meeting coming up, remember?”
“Look,” Karen said, brow furrowed. She pointed to a UN Van, making a left turn onto an eastbound road a couple blocks down.
“Well, lookie there,” Tex said. “Too bad we don’t have more time.”
“Stop it, that scares me.”
“Sorry,” Tex said as he turned left into the parking lot of the diner. “Looks like a greasy spoon.”
“Look, we can get food to go here,” she said, pointing to the sign on the wall as Tex parked.
“You want to take it back to the rig?”
“Yeah, I feel completely exposed,” Karen said.
“Then we’ll get it to go.” Tex got out and opened Karen’s door for her, and they rushed into the diner.
“You folks gonna eat here or take out?” the young man behind the register asked. “We’ve got plenty of room. All this craziness ruined our trade.”
“I’ll bet,” Tex said. “I think we’ll take out.”
“Okay,” he said. “What’ll you have? We’ve got everything except the pork dishes.”
“Figures,” Karen said. The young man laughed nervously.
“What happened? The Islamists didn’t like it?” Tex asked.
“Last big meeting, over at the fairgrounds,” the man said in hushed tones. “They contracted with us. Made us get rid of all pork products and disinfect the whole damn kitchen.”
“You don’t sound too happy about that, friend,” Tex said.
The man’s eyes showed fear. “Sorry, sir.”
“He thinks we’re with them,” Karen said.
“You’re not?” he asked, looking uncertain.
Tex grinned. “No, we’re just here for a short layover. We’d rather not run into any of those folks. We don’t like them much.”
“Neither do I,” the young man whispered.
“Do anything about it?” Tex asked.
His eyes got wide. “How could I do anything about it?”
“Never mind,” Karen said. “Let’s just get our food and get out of here.”
The young man nodded, took their orders, and then rushed back to chat with the cook.
“This sucks,” Tex said. “I could use some bacon.”
“Quiet,” Karen said, her eyes darting around nervously.
“Anybody who shows up here is gonna have a bad meeting with Mr. Colt.”
“Your order will be up in a few minutes,” the young man said, coming back out to the register. “Want to pay for it now?”
“Sure,” Tex said, walking to the register. He pulled out his wallet and waited to hear how much.
“It’s sixteen dollars and eighty-nine cents,” the man said, eyes getting wide as Tex counted out cash. “We’re not allowed to take cash. Only credit cards.”
“What?” Tex asked. “This is legal tender.”
“Not since martial law,” the young man said.
“Forget it honey,” Karen said. “We’ve got to go.”
“These bastards want to track us every second,” Tex said.
“That’s the general idea,” the man behind the counter said. Then the cook came out and whispered in his ear.
“Here it comes,” Tex whispered.
“Here what comes?” Karen asked.
“They’re going to let us pay cash, as long as they get a premium. Must have some slack in the stock.”
“Hey, dude, we can get in trouble for this,” the cook said, eyeing him. He was a large man with a beard, having the look of a biker.
“Hey, no problem, friend, as long as it’s in reason.”
The young man behind the counter looked nervous as hell.
“Well, partner, what’s it gonna be?” Tex asked.
“How about thirty bucks?” he asked, waiting for a tongue lashing.
Tex chuckled. “Is the food any good?”
The cook smiled. “I’ll make sure it’s great.”
“Hell, I’m down, then,” Tex said, handing him the thirty bucks. “Oh, and here’s a tip.” He passed him another thirty.
“You don’t have to…”
“Nonsense,” Tex said. “I get the feeling that you don’t like the enemy. I don’t like them either.”
“The enemy?” the cook asked.
“The UN and the Islamists are the enemy,” Tex said. “If you don’t realize that, there’s no hope for us.”
“Yeah, that’s what that guy on TV said a little while ago,” the young man said.
The cook laughed. “Ivan the Butcher and Ben Dover. Please. They just took credit for a terror attack.”
Tex snickered. “How long till the food’s up?”
“Just a few minutes,” the cook said, rushing back into the kitchen.
Tex walked towards the window and gazed out, looking over at Karen as she joined him.
“You should be careful what you say,” Karen whispered.
“I didn’t tell them anything they can use,” Tex said. “Wanted to gauge how they reacted to the TV show.”
“The cook didn’t believe it.”
“Yep,” Tex said. “They believed the media spin. We probably should be watching it. We need to know what they’re feeding to the folks around here.”
“Look, another UN van,” Karen said, nodding at it as it passed by. “Should we be worried?”
“Denise said they were still patrolling,” Tex said. “Wish I didn’t have to refrain from taking them out.”
“Don’t screw up our mission,” Karen said, looking him in the eye. “You’ll get to kill plenty of these folks during that.”
“Yep,” Tex said. “Maybe we ought to move away from the window. Might look a little suspicious.”
Karen nodded and they went to the benches in the waiting area, sitting down. The young man at the counter smiled at them.
“Where are you from?” he asked, trying to be friendly.
“I’m from Texas. My lady is from Southern California originally.”
“Heard some wild things about Texas,” he said. “What do you think of Governor Nelson declaring Texas a Republic?”
“I think he had no choice,” Tex said.
“I’ll bet you’re glad to be away from there,” the young man said.
“On the contrary, I’d be there if I could. I was away from home when they shut down the Texas border, and it’s in a bad neighborhood.”
“You’ve heard about the warfare in New Mexico and Colorado, haven’t you?”
“Oh, that,” the young man said. “We used to get a lot of news about that, but now they never talk about it on the news. Not since martial law kicked in a hundred percent.”
“Doesn’t that tell you something?” Tex asked.
“Honey, let’s not talk politics, okay?” Karen asked.
“Sorry, sweetie,” he said.
“It’s up,” the cook said from the back, sliding the white Styrofoam boxes forward on the pass-through between the kitchen and the counter area.
“Surprised they still let you use those around here,” Tex quipped as he walked to the counter.
“We’ve only got a few left, then we switch to paper,” the young man said as he fetched them and brought them to the counter. “Eventually people will have to bring their own containers.”
Tex laughed. “What about people who are traveling?”
“Who gets to travel anymore?” the young man said. He put a wad of napkins into a bag and put both containers on top of them.
“See you folks later,” the cook said. “Terry, lock the front after they leave. We’re closing early.”
Tex shot a glance at Karen. They picked up their food and left, getting into the Jeep.
“We need to split,” Tex said. “Somebody’s coming.”
“I know,” she said. Tex fired up the Jeep and they roared out of the parking lot, racing down the street. The office was closed up as they flew through the gate past it, a note on the window saying to leave as soon as possible.
“Dammit,” Tex said.
They pulled up next to the rig and rushed to the door, Tex getting behind the wheel in near panic.
“What about the Jeep?” Karen asked, getting into the passenger side.
“I don’t think we have time to hitch up, and we might need to fire out the back. Get that weapons console out. I’m gonna go pull the power cable.”
He rushed out, yanking the cable quickly, and disconnecting the water. The big diesel was warmed up by the time he got back inside, and he drove forward. “Send Jules a text, and ask him where we should go.”
“On it,” she said, keeping one eye on the target reticle, pointed towards the rear.
“Here they come,” Tex said, nodding up ahead. “Four UN Vans, coming this way. He flipped the switches for the minigun and grenade launcher.
“You sure that’s a good idea?” Karen asked.
“We have any choice?” Tex asked. He fired the minigun, splattering the first two vans. The two behind them tried to turn around, but he hit both with grenades, blowing them up as he raced by.
“Get on 680 north,” Karen said. “We’re joining Jules up in Dublin. It’s right ahead.”
They headed for the on-ramp as the sound of sirens approached from both sides, making it up on the freeway before they were in sight.
“Stay on that weapons console, little lady,” Tex said as they got up to speed.
Ted and Stacey sat in the salon, watching the news reports, which were covering the Mertins Plant attack and Ivan’s TV show. The reports were being heavily censored, with whole phrases being beeped out and pictures covered over. Ted got up and went to the window, peering out.
“You worried, boss?” Stacey asked. “We can go get the girls if you are.”
“I’m worried, but let’s give them a little while longer. This compound is pretty well guarded.”
“The Diablo Country Club,” Stacey said. “Now I get to see how the other half lived.”
“Hell, a lot of the other half still lives this way. They’re colluding with the enemy to do it, and it will be the death of them.”
“So how are we allowed to be here, and why is it empty?”
Ted chuckled. “This was shut down by the local authorities. They have to make it look like the rich and powerful have nothing better than the rest of the population. The joke is that they’re probably someplace better as we speak.”
“Some of them might be dead,” Stacey said.
“Don’t bet on it,” Ted said. “We’re still getting all of the basics of American life. You know…food deliveries to markets, water, gas. That sort of thing. You can’t keep that kind of stuff flowing without private enterprise. The Chinese finally figured that out. That’s why they dumped communism.”
“They still call themselves communist, though, don’t they?”
“Yeah, but what they really are is a form of totalitarian capitalism,” Ted said, turning to look out the window again. “Good, here they come.”
“Two blondes,” Stacey said. “Look how much their hair shows up even in this light.”
The door opened, Haley and Brianna coming inside, both carrying food bags.
“We were lucky,” Brianna said. “They were almost out of food, and deliveries to this place are no longer a priority, according to the chef. He’s trying to decide if he should split or hunker down here.”
“He said the UN has been here doing inspections a couple of times,” Haley said as she put her bag of food on the counter.
“Wonder why they keep it open?” Stacey asked. “Why not just padlock the place, or open it to the public?”
“The chef said they were holding this place in reserve,” Brianna said, “for when the area is completely stable. Foreign dignitaries will stay here, since it’s so easy to secure.”
“How does the chef feel about that?” asked Ted.
“That’s why he’s considering whether to stay or go,” Haley said.
“Maybe we should recruit him,” Stacey said.
“This guy is about fifty and weighs about four-hundred pounds,” Brianna said. “I don’t think that’s happening.” She helped Haley put the food onto four plates and set them on the dinette table. “Anything interesting on the news?”
“Propaganda, but the video tells a decent story,” Ted said. “When they think they can get away with it, they’ll black these kinds of stories out completely.” His phone dinged. “Dammit.”
“What?” Haley asked.
“Tex and Karen had to shoot their way out of the location they were in,” he said.
“No,” Brianna said. “Are we safe here? Maybe they’ve kept track of where all of these RVs went.”
“We won’t be safe until this damn war is over,” Ted said.
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Haley said. “This smells great.”
“It does,” Stacey said, sliding onto the rear bench in front of a plate. Brianna slid in next to him. Ted and Haley took the other side.
“Too bad there’s no wine,” Haley said.
“I wouldn’t drink anything anyway,” Ted said. “If they found Tex, they might find others.”
“Good point,” Haley said. “This is tasty. We still having a meeting soon?”
“Yeah,” Ted said, “although the mess Tex and Karen ran into might throw a monkey wrench, since they’re going up to where Jules is.”
They ate silently until the food was gone. Then Ted got up and looked out the window again.
“Nope, quiet as a church,” Ted said. “I don’t like being behind these big walls like this, though.”
“Why not?” Brianna asked. “Doesn’t that make us safer?”
“We could be surrounded by UN Vans and have no idea,” Ted said.
“Should we go out and look?” Stacey asked.
“Yeah,” Ted said. “Quietly. Hand guns only.”
“I’m game,” Brianna said.
“No, you and Haley stay here,” Ted said. “We might need you two on the battle stations.”
“Crap, you think there’s somebody out there, don’t you?” Haley asked, fear in her eyes.
“Oh, probably not,” Ted said, “but I’m too antsy not to take a look.”
“It’s pretty dark out there now, so watch your step,” Brianna said. “Most of the lights are off.”
“Let’s get it over with,” Stacey said. The two men grabbed their pistols and slipped out, walking into the lush greenery of the area, between the massive clubhouse and one end of the golf course.
“It’s quiet, at least,” Ted said. They rushed towards the nearest wall.
“Do we have to climb up?” Stacey asked.
“Not right here,” Ted said. “See that gate over there?”
“Oh,” Stacey said, looking at the tall double-wide gate, covered with olive drab canvas. “Look. They’re still mowing the grass. See the fresh clippings?”
“That might mean there’s some VIPs coming,” Ted whispered. “No talking now. Watch the ground. Don’t step on anything that will make noise.”
They inched forward, to the crack between the fence and the left side of the gate, both peering out.
Ted gave a thumb up, then they hurried away.
“Well, that side is clear at least,” Stacey whispered. “Nobody around.”
“That would’ve been the best place to attack from, too,” Ted said.
They were almost back to the coach when they heard explosions.
“Dammit, what the hell was that?” Stacey asked. “Didn’t sound that far away.”
Another explosion went off, a little closer.
Ted’s phone dinged. They rushed to the door of the rig.
“You aren’t going to check the message?” Stacey asked.
“When we’re inside.” Ted opened the door and held it for Stacey, then followed him and shut it. “Set up siege mode.”
Haley and Brianna froze, looking around in a panic.
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