The Takeover

Posted: January 21, 2016 in Book 1 TERROR IN TEXAS
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Della tapped on the door of Steve’s motel room still dressed in an oversized t-shirt and boxers.

“Military is here.”  Della announced from outside the door. “You have to see this.”

“Calm down, give me a minute.”  Steve slid into the wheel chair and rolled to the door and opened it. He tried to ignore her shapely dark legs and tried to concentrate on what she was saying.   He looked toward the sound of heavy trucks and roaring engines.

“I think we need to be careful.” Announced.

“What do you mean?  It’s soldiers.”  Della argued.

“Why here?”  He pulled her inside and called over his shoulder at Zack.  “Up and at ‘em, Zack.”

Steve pulled the curtains closed and he turned to Della.  “This is out in the middle of nowhere.  Why would the military send troops here?”

Della looked puzzled.  “Well, I don’t know.”

“Exactly.  This small community is not strategic in any way at all.  Following that train of thought, I’m worried they’re not under orders.  If that’s the case, they’re not here for the benefit of this community.”

Zack sat up and looked around.  His eyes found Steve and Della and chuckled.  “Got some good looking legs there, Ms Della.”

Della rolled her eyes.  “So, what are you saying?”

“I think we need to be careful until we know what’s going on with the military.”  Steve advised as he let Della out the door.

They all dressed and made their way to the school for breakfast.  After a scowl from Della, Steve opted not using his prosthetics.  The wheelchair caused a few interested glances from the new arrivals in uniform.  The community was a buzz of activity and rife with speculation about the arrival of the military.

From gossip outside the cafeteria, they learned the officer leading the unit had insisted on a meeting with the city council at the city hall.  The impromptu meeting was organized and now the town civilian authorities were behind doors with the officer in charge. The rest of the soldiers looked around as if expecting trouble. Steve noticed the military vehicles were parked in a defensive formation around the town hall intensifying his unease.

Della, Steve, and Zack entered the cafeteria and got trays.  Once settled at a table and eating, they noticed soldiers take up posts at each of the exits.  They ate quickly keeping watch around the room.

“Something doesn’t feel right.”  Della announced.

“You’re right.  Let’s get outta here.” Steve backed his chair from table and headed for the door with both Della and Zack in tow.

As they walked past the table where Sandy was sitting with the two young women she had been staying with, Della stopped.  “We’re meeting at the motel,”  She glanced around pointedly.  “to discuss the latest development.”

“No thanks.  It doesn’t matter what you have going on.  I’m staying here.  I have friends now.  It’s safe.  No way would I even consider leaving here.”  Sandy answered.

Della cringed at the tirade.  “Please keep your voice down.”

“Fine.”  Sandy looked annoyed.  “I have no intentions of going anywhere until the soldiers say I can go home.  End of story.  I’m not your responsibility and you can’t make me do anything I don’t want to.”

Della squared her shoulders.  “That’s fine, Sandy.  If you change your mind, just come see us, sooner rather than later.”  She hurried after Steve and Zack standing at the door.

As she approached she caught the ongoing conversation.

Steve glared at the soldier stationed at the door.  “Excuse me?  What do you mean we have to stay here?”

“The Major’s request.”  The soldier answered. “He’d like everyone to stick around and be available when he finishes his meeting with the powers that be.  He plans on a formal announcement at eleven this morning.”

Steve looked annoyed.  “I’ll tell you what.  I need to rest.  We had a bad time getting here.  Della is my nurse and Zack, my man Friday.  Are you holding a disabled veteran prisoner?”

“Of course not, sir.” The soldier looked uncomfortable.

“We’ll come back shortly before eleven.”

The soldier looked uncomfortable but finally agreed. “Be back before eleven or it will be my ass.”

Della started to speak as they walk out of the building, but Steve held up his hand.

At the motel, they heard harried voices through the open window.

“Why?”  Millie asked.

“We have to get outta here.  They came into the clinic and gathered everyone’s keys for the pharmacy. I was in the back room doing inventory when they came in.  They were talking about going from house to house to confiscate all medications and taking control of ALL resources, food, gas, everything.  I emptied all of the heart meds you need in my pocket then snuck out.” Darlene answered.

“Oh my.”  Millie responded. “You’re going to get in trouble.”

“No.  We’re leaving.”  Ordered Darlene from the bathroom. “Penny put all your clothes in the plastic bag.”

Steve rolled through the door and raised his voice.  “Darlene? Could we talk for a minute?”

“Just a minute.”  She called out.

He whispered to Della.  “Start packing.”

He turned to Zack. “Where is the truck?”

“Out back.  I put it there to get it out of the afternoon sun since we still have some of our supplies in it.”

“Good.  Get out there and load supplies when Della passes our stuff out the back window. I’ll gather our clothes and do the same.” Steve reached for his prosthetics in the bag at the back of the chair.  He slid the right prosthetic on the stump of his lower leg.

Darlene walked up to Steve and glanced over his should out to the courtyard.  She looked even more worried when she saw the soldiers crossing the road outside the town hall.

“I’ve only got a minute.”

“We’re leaving too.  Do you have gas?”  Steve asked.

“Only a quarter of a tank, but we can’t stay.” She dipped her hand into her pocket and spilled hundreds of small white pills into a large brown plastic bottle.

“I heard what you said.”  Steve responded.  “I think you have a good grasp of what’s going to happen.  We’re leaving too. The truck is diesel and an extended cab so we have room your family.”

“I’m not leaving Millie.”  Darlene protested.

“I wouldn’t think of it.”  Steve answered.

Pack up and drop your things through the back window.  Zack is in back and will load it into the pickup.  As soon as we’re ready, we’re loading up and leaving.  Leave a few odd pieces of clothing around so if someone comes along and looks in the room it doesn’t look like your planning on leaving.”

“We have to hurry.  They plan on confiscating all the guns at this big meeting.”  When Steve nodded, she disappeared back into her and Millie’s room.

He stood up from the chair and walked into the motel room and loaded up all the weapons in a canvas bag and passed it through the window.  Just as he turned to reach for a pair of pants to add to bag on his lap a voice called out.

“Sir? It’s almost eleven and you folks need to get to the square for the meeting.”

Steve turned.  “No problem, soldier.  I’m just finishing up a little housekeeping. Living in a motel room is not ideal for sure.” He grinned.

“Not my problem.  Get the two women and fat kid and get moving.”

“Got it.  We’ll be right there.”

The soldier moved from door to door and made the same speech then moved to the back of the building to ensure the residents move out.

All the able bodied residents moved more quickly and when the soldier saw Steve, again in the wheel chair and old black woman were headed in the right direction with their caregivers, he walked away.  Darlene held Penny’s hand and joined Steve’s group.  Steve let Millie set the pace leaving them falling farther and farther behind the hundreds of folks gathering at the town hall.  He stopped everyone at the edge of the square as far from the gathering as possible.

Two strutting military men stood on the top steps of the town hall along with Tony and half a dozen civilian.  Tony looked shell shocked.  He stole glances at the Major as if he were looking at a rattlesnake ready to strike.  The other civilians looked no easier at being in the company of the military.

Della leaned down to whisper to Steve. “This doesn’t look good.”

Steve got out of the chair and gentle guided Millie into the wheelchair.  Together the group of six began to ease back from the gathering into the shadow of a big spreading oak.  The soldiers had gravitated toward the front of the gather of nearly three hundred people gathered.

The Major stepped up to a portable public address system. “The President of the United States has imposed congressionally authorized martial law for the duration of this crisis. The authorizing act allows the President to suspend habeas corpus throughout the entire United States.

There have been instances of the use of the military law within the borders of the United States, such as during the civil rights crises in the 50’s. As of this enactment, there will be no distinction between martial law and military justice administered by the military and as such takes precedence and all civil courts will cease to function for the duration of this crisis.

Guards will be posted throughout the community, and all assets will be consolidated for appropriate redistribution by the military and to discourage hoarding. The assets to be collected by this order will include all fuel, food stock, liquors, medications, weapons and ammunition to ensure proper distribution.  Military personnel and/or military authorized individuals will take any and all actions to ensure infected individuals do not enter the secure perimeters.

Work details will be established and everyone, I repeat, everyone will be assigned to a work detail.  There will be no exceptions if you don’t work folks, you will not be eating.”

Tony jumped up leaned over and said something at the Major and his Captain.  The big black man’s arm shot out and he slammed a handgun against the side of Tony’s head.

Pandemonium erupted on the front steps of the town hall.  Other members of the city council rushed to Tony’s side.  Soldiers swarmed around the crowd and shots were fired.

“Go now.”  Steve whispered.

The audience either pulled back from the altercation or surged forward to protest.

Della grabbed the handles of the wheel chair where Millie had settled and Darlene picked up Penny.  They quickly made a beeline for the corner of the motel building.  Two more shots were fired, but Steve’s band of escapees kept moving away from the fighting that suddenly erupted.

They got to the side of the building and all were out of breath except Millie and Penny.

“Run away! Run away!” Penny giggled.

Steve turned to Zack.  “Get them in the truck.”

Zack grabbed the handles of the wheel chair from Della.  “Go. I got this.”

Steve watched as the twenty or so soldiers herded the city council toward the door to the City Hall.  Half a dozen burly townsmen raced toward the commotion and more shots rang out.  Two men fell and the crowd panicked and scattered in all directions.

Steve hurried around the building to the truck and struggled into the seat.  “Go! Now!”

Zack slammed the truck into gear and stomped on the gas.  He made the first left and headed back down the street toward the bridge.

When the truck got to the metal barrier at the bridge, Ollie stepped out of the nearby tent and waved.  “What’s going on?  Where are you folks headed?”  He asked with a worried look.  “What are the shots in town?”

Steve answered.  “The soldiers just caused a riot in front of city hall.  Two people went down.  They’re claiming martial law gives them the right to confiscate food, meds and weapons.  We have no intentions of staying and giving up our guns.”

“What’ve you got in back?”  Ollie asked.

Just what we came with.”

“Son-of-a-bitch!”  Ollie swore as he looked at the people around him.  “How bad is it?”

Steve shrugged.  “They could have already killed two people.”  He answered then asked.  “Will you open the gate and let us go?”

“No reason not to.”  He waved at the men standing look out.  “Open the gate.”

Ollie looked into the back seat.  Looks like you picked up a few folks.  What about that young girl that came in with you?”

“She found some friends and was determined to stay.”  Steve shrugged. “Will you watch out for her?  She’s just a kid.”

The gate swung open. “I’ll keep an eye on her.”  Ollie stepped back and waved them toward the gate. “Thanks for the head’s up. You folks be safe.”

Steve hesitated then added. “If this falls apart, head for Pine Canyon in the Guadalupe National Park.”

Ollie gave a quick nod and waved the truck on.  Zack stepped on the accelerator and Steve looked in the side mirror as they drove through the gate to see Ollie heading toward his truck as the gates closed.

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