Fight - No Other Way
by
William M. O'Brien, Jr.


Two kids and a large tomcat waited for dawn in a tumbled-down shack along a deserted railroad track far from the main road into Hallersville, Missouri. Two backpacks lay in front of the two, containing extra clothes, a belt knife or two, and a few items of food. Now they were considering following the old railroad track outside or staying put.

Millie, a girl, the older of the two, thought that they should stay where they were, but Charlie, a boy, two years younger than Millie, thought they should leave out at the crack of dawn along the outside track.

“We can follow it all the way to another town,” he begged the girl. “At least we’d be out of here.”

“No, they’d find us.” Millie rose from the bench she had been sitting on and headed over to the large tabby tomcat that was cleaning itself in the middle of the room. There, she picked the animal up and hugged it to her chest. “Besides,” she added. “I don’t want to leave this fellow.

“Still, we have to get out of here,” Charlie walked to the door facing the railroad track. “We don’t have to follow the track. We can go off into the woods.”

“Into the woods and brush?” Millie let the cat down who immediately began rubbing itself against the girl’s leg. “That’s not a bad idea, Charlie. No one could find us in there.”

“We can push through the brush, maybe find an open place where we can rest.”

Immediately, the two children began to gather their items into their separate backpacks. Millie put the cat into an empty knapsack she would carry next to her backpack. They carried two rolled up blankets apiece plus a small tent Charlie had from boy scouts. Then they walked to the door and a railway platform and prepared to jump down and head off into the brush and overgrowth.

Suddenly, they heard a helicopter over their heads. Then the staccato sounds of gunfire not too far distant.

“God, we’ve got to get out of here,” Millie uttered and jumped down onto the ground and headed for the brush.

Charlie followed close behind.

The brush scraped against their bodies as they ran and nettles stung both of their bare legs, but they kept going. Pushing large tree limbs and small undergrown limbs out of their way, they kept going until both were out of breath.

Soon they came to an open place in the woods. The trees surrounding the area were so close that they created a wall, backed up by the brush underneath. Although the area was small the kids knew immediately that they were safe there.

Night was coming and Millie remarked that they needed rest. Charlie agreed, believing that a good night’s sleep would give them the needed energy for whatever came around tomorrow.

So both kids doffed their backpacks and Millie left the big ginger tom on the ground near to her. The animal yawned and sat, looking around at the area around them.

“We ought to put the tent up in case we get rain,” Charlie offered, unbuckling the strap on the tent and tent poles he had carried at the base of his pack.

“It wouldn’t be a bad idea in case we do get rain,” Millie agreed. “We can camouflage it and hide ourselves in case someone comes around. And we need to doff these short pants and get into jeans.”

Quickly they put up their small tent and then piled their blankets inside it. Then, gathering twigs, branches and pulled-up weeds they piled these up on top until their tent seemed to disappear into the clearing.

Satisfied with protection for the night, they entered their tent, lay down on their blankets, drank water from a thermos and ate bread and jerky both of them had brought. Millie fed Titus, the cat, from a can she had brought.

Night came quickly and the kids became somewhat apprehensive, not knowing what or who lay beyond their clearing. Millie believed they were in the middle of nowhere, but Charlie wasn’t so sure. He thought one of them should stay awake to stand guard during the night. They should take turns.

However, fatigue and sleepiness won out and both fell asleep an hour after sundown, only to be awakened four hours later by noises from far away. There were screams, angry voices and gun shots.

There were voices screaming and others which they couldn’t make out over the distance.

“That must be coming from town,” Charlie whispered to his sister, who had also awakened and turned on her back.

“That could come from anywhere, Little Bro,” Millie whispered back. “It’s a long way off.” Millie turned and looked down at their feet at the end of the tent where Titus lay asleep, curled around Millie’s shoes. “Look at him. Dead to the world.”

Soon the noises died down, but the two remained apprehensive, listening closely to anything that could be near to their present location. But there was nothing but the sound of bugs.

“I wish we had a gun,” Charlie remarked, quietly.

“What would we do with a gun?” Millie who had turned over to return to sleep, turned back over. “Who would we shoot?”

“Anybody. We’d have it for protection.”

Everything returning to quiet, the two fell into a deep sleep until morning.

“Boy, this is great,” exclaimed Millie, heading back to their tent from relieving herself in brush just ten feet from where they slept. “This looks just like just a pile of crap to anybody who came around here.”

She kneeled beside their tent while her little brother edged himself out of the tent and headed into the brush to do his business.

Millie stood up by the tent and strapped on a belt that had a twelve-inch, double edged tactical dagger on it. “I wish I had put another pair of pants in my backpack,” she addressed her brother, now coming out of the brush. “I’ve got scratches and a couple of sores on my legs.”

“I’ve got an extra pair but I don’t think it would fit you.”

“I’m thinking we better put everything here back together and head that way.” She pointed north, the direction they had gone yesterday. “By now at least some of them will be looking for us.”

“Yeah. That scares me, after what they did to Ceil.”

Quickly they took down their tent, gathered and folded their blankets and arranged everything on their backs.

Charlie had a nine-inch Boy Scout knife on his belt as well as a first aid kit he had carried on scout trips.

They both had compasses and they had water in a thermos that Millie carried as well as a scout Canteen carried by Charlie. Both had drinking cups and both had a drink before they left their campsite.

After taking down and stowing their tent, they headed into the brush, straight north. Soon they came to what looked like a low cliff.

They started for the rocks in front but were suddenly stopped by what sounded like a gun shot. Both kids kneeled into knee high weeds.

“What the hell,” Charlie whispered.

“That sounded far off,” Millie replied. “Whoever made that noise couldn’t be as close to us as last night’s campsite.”

“I don’t know, Mill, but I think we better get up into those rocks and hide.”

They came to the cliff that turned out to be just a low pile of rock, but behind it was a real cliff that had limitless possibilities for climbing. Also, the kids could see caves and paddocks in the rocks while trees and other types of brush grew up alongside a cliff which seemed to be fifty feet high at least.

“That looks like a good place to hide,” Millie remarked. She doffed the cat off her back and let it down to run. “I’m sure he needs to do a lot of things,” she laughed.

They made their way to the base of the cliff where they searched for a way to start climbing up the face. Tree and bush growth dotted the stone and dirt face.

Millie gathered up Titus while Charlie started climbing using small tree trunks and bushes. Easily, they reached a small cave about twenty feet from the floor. The entrance was partially hidden by a bush that grew out of the side of the entrance.

“Wait a minute, Little Bro,” Millie cautioned. “We need to see if we’re going to share this with some other critter.”

“Yeah. Like a snake.” Charlie drew a small flashlight out of a pocket of his backpack and ran it over the floor of the cave, which went back only about nine feet into the cliff. “There’s not much cave here, Sis.

Just a few feet.”

“Yeah, but this tree or whatever it is is hiding most of the entrance,” she answered. “Besides, look at the clouds. I think we got a storm coming.”

Nothing appeared on the stone and dirt floor of the aperture, so both kids spread their blankets on the floor while Millie let Titus out of his sack. The large tom immediately headed for Millie’s blankets and curled up at the end of them against the far wall of the cave.

“That character’s going to need a little food and water later,” Millie whispered to Charlie.

“Yeah, us too.” Charlie spread out on his blankets and stared out the mouth of the cave.

That night a violent storm spread across a wide area, soaking the ground and filling up low places with water.

The two kids awoke at daylight to find the two drinking cups and tin bowl they had put out just past the mouth of the cave to catch rainwater had over flowed and Titus was drinking out of the bowl.

“I see our breakfast cocktails, pure and simple,” a sleepy Millie observed. “I was so tired I slept through that whole thing.”

“I woke up during the storm,” Charlie answered. “But I immediately went back to sleep. God, what a lot of rain. It poured.”

Millie took a small pair of binoculars out of her backpack, laid down on her stomach facing the entrance and began to scan the area outside their cave.

“You can’t see much with all the trees and brush and stuff,” Charlie, also scanning the area outside their cave, observed.

“People going through that crap will be moving it around as they go,” Millie noted. “And we can see the brush moving from here.” She gave the binoculars to her brother and withdrew a folded map from her backpack.

“What the hell is that, Sis?” Charlie turned over and addressed his sister.

“An old, old map of this area.” Carefully she unfolded it between her and her brother. “I think it was made by the U.S. Army back when Ma Perkin was a kid.”

“God, Ma Perkin. I wonder what happened to her.”

“I don’t even want to think about it.” Carefully, she ran her finger over the old map. “Here’s Hallersville and here’s where we were by the railroad. From what I can make out here, we should be somewhere in this area here.” She ran her finger over an area that showed three long circles. “This denotes a rise from the forest floor. A hill or a mountain.”

“Yeah. That’s where we are?” Charlie pointed to the area.

Their silence was shattered by a pair of shots which sounded far off.

“Shots again,” Charlie suddenly whispered. “Whose shooting?”

“Probably the Bakersfield bunch,” Millie answered in a low key. “That bitch Patty said she was going to kill me.”

“She and Carla are dangerous as hell,” Charlie uttered in a low tone.

“It just might be a good idea to get the hell out of here.” Millie looked around for Titus and found him asleep at the end of the cave.

Quickly they packed up their things and made their way up the face of the cliff toward the top. With very little trouble they gained the top and immediately laid down in the grass and weeds facing toward the area they had just come from.

Millie pulled her binoculars from a pocket of her backpack and focused on the area below.

“I don’t see anything down there now,” she uttered just a bit louder than a whisper.

“There’s so many trees, and bushes and other crap down there anybody could hide in,” Charlie replied.

“According to the map we’re close to the little town of Builder’s Creek.” Millie had turned over and offered the binocs to Charlie.

“I’m thinking about twenty miles,” she added.

‘If we’re that far away, we better get started.” Charlie turned over and scooted away from the edge and stood up.

Millie did likewise and together they headed down a descending slope through knee high grass and small trees toward what they could see was the remains of an old road.

Gaining the road, they noticed that numerous trees had grown up in the middle of it. They followed it until in ran into a deep gulley which held a creek.

“I wonder if that water is drinkable,” Charlie remarked.

“I wouldn’t trust it.” Millie turned again to the north. “Come on, let’s follow it.”

Going now became more difficult as the underbrush and growth was thick, but the kids plowed through it, always aware of their surroundings. Titus, meanwhile, curled up in a ball inside his sack.

Then the gulley ran out and the kids followed an old, old path, still leading north, but full of rough going. Finally, however, they came to an open place, small, but large enough to allow them to sit down and stretch out.

“My god, Sis. All that building back home, you wouldn’t believe that a place like this wouldn’t even exist.” Charlie laid back, his head on his backpack.

“This is awfully rough, kid.” Millie looked around at the surrounding roughage. “I don’t see how we got through it to get here.”

“But we did.”

“Yeah. What time do you have?”

Millie glanced at her watch and then lay back next to her brother. “About four o’clock.”

“You thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Yeah. Stay here for the night.” Millie looked again at her watch. “We can’t be far from Builder’s Creek. We’ve been going straight north and that’s where it is.” Titus, meanwhile, had caught a large bug.

“That can’t be a very big town.”

“I don’t know. I’ve never been there.” Millie laid back down. “But whatever its size, there’s bound to be a place to hide there.”

“There’s bound to be a way to get in touch with Aunt Carolyn there.”

“Yeah. But I don’t know what she can do.”

“Get the cops to help us.”

“What cops, Charlie.” Millie sat back up. “You know the cops never helped us. Never helped anybody in Allersville. They were never around.”

“Yeah, and Danny and Celia got away with everything.”

“Everything.”

While they were talking the sun fell behind the distant hills, casting a coming darkness over everything.

“Come on,” Millie said, and stood up. “Let’s get the tent up. I don’t think anyone is going to find us here. But I do not trust this weather.”

“Yeah. We’ve got to dig a water trench around our tent.”

What Millie and Charlie didn’t know at this point was that certain people had come across their cave hideout in the cliff. They had even found candy wrappers in the cave.

They put their tent up in record time and then spread their blankets around on the inside. Titus established himself at the end of the tent while Charlie and Millie settled in on their blankets. They drank water, ate jerky and munched on the last of the candy.

“We’re getting very low on eats,” Millie remarked while searching through her backpack. “We’re going to have to get to that little town PDQ.”

“Yeah, all we need is one little grocery store.” Charlie turned over on his back. “I’m ready for…”

Charlie’s statement was interrupted by a crack of thunder and flash of lightning announcing the arrival of another thunderstorm.

“My God, how many thunderstorms do they have around here.” Millie gathered Titus up in her arms and settled back on her blankets. “This character is going to be sleeping on me and clawing me.”

“Cheer up, Sis,” Charlie lifted a tent flap and stared out. “The more of this crap we get, the more distance we put between us and them.”

Tenderly, Millie placed Titus at the end of the tent in a wad of rolled up blanket. Then she set a half-eaten can of can food in front of him.

“I’m thinking, Kid. When we get to that little town, we fill up our needs and get the hell out of there,” Millie remarked. “The more we keep on the go, the less anybody’s going to be able to catch up with us.”

“That is a good idea,” Charlie agreed. “We don’t really have much in the way of weapons. A couple of knives.”

Millie laid down on her blankets and Charlie laid down beside her. Listening to the rain and lying still, the two kids were soon fast asleep.

But when they awakened, the storm was gone. And everything around them was black. Night had come and sneaked up on them.

Charlie struck a match and looked at his watch. “My god, Sis,” he spoke softly. “It’s two thirty in the morning.”

“We’ve been asleep for ten hours.” Millie moved aside to the edge of the tent. Titus was still fast asleep on his rolled-up pile of blanket.

“I’ve got a feeling that when he wakes up, he’s going to explode,” she said, softly. “And the only thing we can do in this darkness is slip off into the bushes and do our business along with him. One at a time.”

They stayed where they were until daylight, but before sunup they were back in the bush, headed northeast, toward a little town called Builder’s Creek. Every now and then, they would stop and listen, and try to hear anyone trailing them.

What they didn’t know, however, was that certain people had guessed they were headed toward Builder’s Creek and they had headed out following a railroad track to the little town. They figured they would get there before them.

But Millie and Charlie plowed their way through the thick underbrush and growth for most of the day, arriving within sight of Builder’s Creek by the evening.

“I say we put up our tent out here,” Millie offered. “Making sure we can’t be seen from the town.”
“Good idea,” Charlie agreed and turned to a clump of trees nearby. “We can put our tent up in the middle of those trees. Nobody can see unless they’re right on top of us.”

“Good idea, little brother.” Millie led the way toward the chosen campsite.

By dark, they had cleared the brush and short growth away and set up their tent. Titus, the cat, had been chasing large bugs in the undergrowth, but when Millie called him over to the tent, he quickly assumed his usual place in the rear of the tent.

“I’m thinking we ought to sneak into that town tomorrow,” Charlie whispered. “There’s no telling who might be there.”

“I’m thinking you’re right.” Millie turned over on her side, facing her brother. “We don’t have any weapons to speak of. Just the knives.”

“Hey, maybe we can buy a gun in that town.”

“Get serious, little Bro. Who’s going to sell a gun to a twelve-year-old? Or even a fourteen-year-old.”
“Yeah. To get a gun we’d probably have to steal it.” Charlie turned over on his side.

“And get caught doing that, we’d have the cops after us.” Millie turned back over on her back. “No, we’re just going to have to buy our supplies and then get the hell out of there as fast as we can.”

The kids had no problem falling to sleep and awakened later than they had wanted. When the woke, the sun was already past the horizon.”

“We can wait until tonight to go in there,” Millie offered.

“That won’t work,” Charlie replied. “Knowing that little place everything’s going to be closed.”

“Yeah. They roll up the sidewalks at sundown.”

They decided, since they were not far away from the little town in question, they would leave their campsite where it was and go into the town with Titus in his sack.

They started off and reached the outskirts of the town sooner than they expected. There was a neighborhood where houses on separate lots were not close together.

They began looking for a small out of the way store that sold food and drink. But the neighborhoods continued block after block. They met few denizens of these neighborhoods who seemed to pay them little attention. Just two local kids out walking. Soon, however, they encountered the downtown section.

At an icehouse that stood away from the block, the two bought canned meats, canned vegetables, cat food for Titus, and packages of dried meats and sausage. Then, watchful as ever, they headed out the same way they came in.

At the edge of town, however, familiar faces waited for them.

Standing on the porch of a nearby house was Patty Weldon, along with her boyfriend Nils Franklin. Nils had a thirty-eight-caliber pistol in his hand while the kids could see an automatic in Patty’s belt.

“We want to talk to you,” Nils yelled at Millie and Charlie.

“We can’t run,” Millie warned, taking Charlie by his arm.

Slowly the two turned and made their way up to the porch on which stood their adversaries.

“You two little Shit brains are coming back to Hallersville with us,” Nils addressed the two who stood at the base of the porch stairs.

“How are you going to get us back there, Nils. Carry us?” Millie answered, in a soft, even voice.

“You little bitch has been askin’ for it ever since I’ve known you.” Nils advanced, put the pistol in his belt behind him and took a baseball bat from Patty who stood behind him. He shoved Millie to the ground and quickly covered her, letting the bat roll off to the side and reaching for the girl’s shorts at her waist. There he began to pull her shorts and panties down.

Acting quickly, Charlie picked up the loose bat and in one forceful swoop brought in down on Nils’ head.

The boy collapsed still on top of Millie.

Now Millie reached for the pistol in Nils belt at his back and in one quick movement pulled the gun from his belt. Almost in the same instant, she kneed Nils off her, brought the gun up, and fired one shot into Patty’s lower abdomen and a second one into her chest.

The girl dropped heavily on the steps behind her. Dashing to the fallen girl, the bat still in his hand, Charlie reached down and pulled the .380 auto from her belt,

Nils lay still, face down in the dirt, while Patty clutched both bullet wounds on the stairs.

“God, kid, you really conked him,” a breathless Millie exclaimed. “I think he’s dead.”

“That girl will be in a minute.” Charlie put the bat on his shoulder and, with the gun in his other hand, grabbed his backpack full of purchases and other trappings and headed for the street.

Titus, loose, jumped into Millie’s arms as she picked up her belongings and followed Charlie.

The two raced down the street and ducked behind a house on the corner.

The two watched as more and more people were appearing in the street.

Seeing an alley a short way across a yard, they headed for it. There they raced down behind houses until they found a large open space before another neighborhood a short distance away. They ducked into these woods and found themselves in an undeveloped area complete with overgrown bushes, vines and close trees. They quickly determined the direction to their campsite and headed in that direction.

After over two hours of pushing through thick undergrowth, they finally came to the small clearing that contained their tent.

“God, Sis, we left two people dead back there,” a breathless Charlie exclaimed. “Now the whole world is going to be hunting us.”

“I don’t think so, Kid.” Millie, also out of breath, plopped down on the ground. “Those people whose houses we ran by don’t have a clue about what’s going on with us.”

They rested for about fifteen minutes and then quickly broke camp and dived back into the bushes and scrub.

Almost falling into it, the kids ran upon a river. There they stopped and laid down on their stomachs to assess the situation.

From where they were, they could not see any sign of civilization on their side of the river, but there were houses and boat docks across the river. They needed an area where they could camp for the night and not be open to observation from either side of the river.

“Let’s go back into the bush and head up the river a ways and see what we can find,” Millie suggested.

“This river isn’t but about seventy to eighty yards across. Easy access if anybody sees us.”

They reentered the bush and headed down the river but were surprised again with a lake.

From the underbrush just at the juncture of the river and the lake, the kids could not see any sign of human habitation; therefore, they began to sweep undergrowth out of the way to pitch their tent.

Of course, they would camouflage it as best they could.

“How far do you think we are from that town,” Charlie asked.

“At least five or six miles, maybe more,” Millie replied.

Twilight came as they were laying the last branches and fronds on top of their tent. Close by Titus had crawled into an old sack.

“Tomorrow morning early,” Charlie stated. “We’ll head West,” he pointed. “That’s the only way we can go from here.”

“We’ll have to be very careful about what we run across,” Millie added. “Here, we’ve got civilization all around us.”

The next morning the kids set out early, making their way through brush and many small cedars. They were thankful about the cedars as they hid them as they made their way. The shoreline where they were was very rocky and included many gullies and inlets from the lake. Since the kids had to go around these they did not get very far in one day. However, they noticed that they were farther away from civilization than they were the day before.

Shortly before dusk, they stopped and began to move rocks and short plants away to make a small space for their tent.

They were not very far from the water and Titus escaped from his sack and made his way down to the lakeside where he had caught, or found, a large minnow. The proud tom presented his treasure to his mistress, who laughed and petted him. The large tomcat had a feast that night while his master and mistress ate jerky.

Both kids were almost asleep in the blankets when they heard a swishing sound from outside which brought both to the tent door. In the distance, where they had been before, were skyrockets lighting up the sky and the ground around them.

“Do you supposed they’re using those things to find us?” Millie whispered to her brother.

“I don’t know,” Charlie answered, shaking his head. “It would look like if they were looking for us, they’d use spotlights, or at least groups with flashlights.”

A bit later, the rockets stopped, and the kids were in darkness once again. They slept that night with their newly acquired firearms close by. At the end of the tent, Titus slept on his back with his claws in the air.

The next morning Millie greeted her brother with the cat in her arms. “This guy slept the whole night,” she claimed. “Probably because his belly was totally full.”

“I’ve been thinking, Mil.” Charlie pulled his binoculars out of his backpack. “If they were looking for us, there would be airplanes, or at least helicopters around.”

“You’ve got a point, kid.” Millie turned toward her own backpack. “And I believe we better pack up and find thicker growth to hide in.”

Soon they were on the trail again, heading true west toward what they hoped would be the wilderness again.

The lake soon disappeared from their view and both kids brought out their compasses to assess the direction. They had reached a point that showed no overt sign of civilization.

“This land must belong to somebody,” Charlie remarked and plopped down on the ground for a rest.

“I think its land somebody acquired and then forgot about.” Millie replied. “If someone laid claim for this land, you’d think there would be fences or at least roads. We haven’t even seen a road of any kind.”

“It’s just weird, Sis.”

“I know. It’s downright spooky. It’s like we’ve walked into another dimension.” Titus walked up and began rubbing his head to Millie’s leg.

“We’re out in the middle of nowhere and, right now, I’m thinking we’re pretty well off.”

They prepared the ground for their tent and pitched it in a thicket with growth all around. A small tree hid part of it from view.

Then Millie took her binoculars and scanned the area they were in, not only the hillside where they had pitched camp but the area at the base of the hill and the hills around them.

“There’s some deer over on the hill opposite,” Millie acknowledged, but that’s the only thing I can see.”
Meanwhile, Titus had climbed on Charlie’s shoulder as he had sat on the ground and fingered the pistol he had taken from Patty. “I’m thinking we’re lost, Sis.” He said, suddenly.

“We’re not lost as long as we got our compasses,” Millie replied. “Besides, think of it. If we’re lost anybody looking for us is liable to be lost also.”

“I’ve still got the jitters, though.”

Night fell and both kids climbed into their blankets in their tent. Titus took up residence with a towel at the end of the tent as usual.

They could hear birds but nothing else. There was a stillness that neither Millie nor Charlie could understand. It was like they had walked out of civilization into a primeval environment.

Just before dawn the next morning however, brought a surprise. A series of shots from what they could tell came from several firearms rendered their silence numb.

“Holy Shit, listen to that!” Charlie exclaimed to a very sleepy Millie.

“Yes. Where in hell is that coming from?”

“That’s a damned gunfight, Sis.”

“That’s certainly what it sounds like.” Millie sat up in her blankets. “It sounds like they’re on the other side of this hill, maybe down at the bottom.”

“You can be sure that at least some of them are looking for us.” Now Charlie sat up and looked outside the tent.

But the distant shots continued.

At the other end of the tent, Titus woke up, yawned, and turned over on his side.

“We’ve got to do it again, little brother.” Millie shoved her blankets aside. “We’ve got to get up, get our stuff together and then get the hell out of here.”

Thirty minutes later the kids headed down the hill toward what looked like a small river. Millie wondered if anyone was living on the river and how to avoid them if anyone was.

In no time they reached the water’s edge and began heading down the river on an overgrown path. Along the river they came upon a small house that appeared to be deserted. Moreover, it seemed to be falling to pieces.

The two crouched down behind a thick bush.

“There’s no one there,” Millie whispered. “Noone could be living there.”

“That place is falling apart, Sis.”

“I can see that.” Millie slowly rose to her feet and headed around the bush. “Come on,” she said over her shoulder.

They entered the building through a side door that had come open. Inside. The two looked around at a few pieces of torn up, shabby furniture, broken windows, and holes in the floor.

“No one’s been here in years, Sis.” Charlie pushed open a door that led to a kitchen where wall boards were missing and plants had grown up into the house.

Meanwhile, Millie had discovered a small staircase leading to a few rooms upstairs. Two small rooms had doors leading out to the staircase. Millie entered one of them to discover an old desk in the corner and a broken-down bed across the room from it.

“Hey, Charlie, come up here,” Millie exclaimed from the top of the stairs.

The boy headed up the stairs and followed his sister into the room.

“Look at that bed, Sis,” he stated and pointed. “It’s big enough for both of us.”

“It’s probably full of varmints, kid.” She made a crawling gesture. “Like scorpions, maybe.”

Titus had also made the stairs and now was tormenting a large roach in a corner of the room.

“Maybe he can catch whatever things are living in that bed.” Charlie pointed at the large tom, still busy tormenting the bug.

Millie put both hands on her hips and gazed out a long-broken window. “You know, bro. I think we need to get away from here and back in the bush where we ‘re safe.” She turned toward her brother.

“Somebody coming along here looking for us is going to figure this is where we are.”

“I see what you mean, Sis.” Charlie laughed. “Back to the sticks.”

Millie again walked to a window and looked out.

“Oh, my god, Charlie. Look at the sky. We’ve got another storm coming Apparently, we’re good luck charms for farmers. Remember all the rain we got in that cave?”

“Yeah, if it hadn’t been for that hole in the cliff we would’ve drowned.”

“Yeah. We’ve got to stay here.” She reached down and picked up her backpack. “This ceiling probably leaks like hell. We’ve got to get downstairs where we can at least stay dry.

The two siblings made their way back down the rickety staircase. There, they spread their blankets out in front of an old fireplace where they figured they would remain dry in a downpour. Night was coming and they would need to be able to see as well.

Millie moved over and examined the fireplace.

“This thing here is solid,” she remarked over her shoulder. “You know, we need the warmth and I would like to heat up some of those cans we have.” She stood up and turned around. “Before the rain starts let’s go out and gather up wood for a fire. We don’t need much, just enough for a hot meal and a little warmth during whatever is coming.”

The kids headed outside and began gathering up twigs and bigger pieces that they could find. When they finished, they had a stack inside near the fireplace. Just in time, too, as the rain began.

Charlie had a box of matches in his first aid kit and he had found a few old rotting magazines to start a fire with.

With both kids working, they soon had a fire going in the fireplace and a stack of wood nearby to feed it.
They cooked beans in a can and sausage on sticks. They boiled water in an empty can and made tea.

When all was finished, both kids were full for the first time since they had started their journey. Even Titus had a feast with a half can of cat food and a small rat he had caught.

Rain continued for the rest of the night, off and on. Both kids fell asleep easily as the fire was going out. The two guns they had captured lay next to their pallets.

Just before dawn a solitary figure rose from the brush just outside the house. Wearing only a filmy covering, the female figure carried a large knife in one hand and a lantern in the other. Slowly, quietly, she mounted the steps up to the front door.

Then, moving the broken door aside, she crept into the entrance hall and then turned into the living room.

Awakened by the light, both kids woke up, but Charlie was the first to see the intruding figure. Quickly he reached the automatic pistol he had taken from Patty. Without hesitation, he released the safety and fired three bullets into the body of the intruder.

She dropped the lantern which did not go out on the floor, clutched wounds in her lower abdomen and stomach, and dropped between the kids and the entrance to the living room.

Instantly, a head appeared in an open window at the end of the room. Millie reacted by firing the revolver at the figure, striking it in the middle of the face. Instantly, the figure dropped a heavy revolver to the floor and disappeared outside the window.

“My god, it’s the Bakersfield bunch,” Millie shouted, turning about and covering the windows into the living room.

Another male figure appeared and began climbing through a living room window. Millie fired at this figure too, striking it and knocking it backwards through the window.

“Quick, Charlie, cover the windows!” Millie shouted and turned toward the windows on her left. “And grab that gun over there.”

Charlie picked up the heavy revolver under the window and scooted back toward his sister.

As soon as the kids moved, a female figure appeared in the door from the hall and aimed a short rifle at Millie.

Charlie fired at the figure three times, finally striking it with the third round, but not before it had fired at his sister, grazing her head..

Millie turned over and shouted. “Watch the front door Charlie. Watch the front door!” Blood dripping down on her shoulder, she turned to cover the windows to the front room.

Charlie turned to find a nude male figure trying to grab him and a nude female grabbing his arm. He turned to the male figure but received a blow to the side of his head. He went down and the female stood over him and tried to loop a rope around his neck.

Millie turned toward the struggling group but could not fire for fear of hitting her brother.

Charlie brought the heavy revolver up and fired point blank into the female figure straight up. She immediately placed both hands on her lower body and fell just by Charlie.

Immediately Charlie turned the gun toward the male figure and shot him in the chin, the bullet entering his head and knocking him backwards.

Charlie turned toward his sister, who was still covering the window with her heavy gun. She turned toward him.

“We gotta run, Charlie! We gotta run!”

Three figures lay on the floor in the tumbledown house, and two on the outside.

The kids quickly packed their belongings and hurried, grabbing their tent which lay against a far wall, Millie moved, pistol ready to a window and shouted, “Let’s go!”

Without even thinking, Charlie rose, grabbed Titus, who was cowering in a blanket nearby and headed through the front door out into the brush as fast as his legs could carry him.

Running as fast as they could through knee-high weeds and closely connected trees, they kept going until both were out of breath and collapsed, their guns ready for anything around.

After a while of hard breathing, Millie turned to her brother. “Thank God we’ve gotten used to sleeping with our clothes on.”

“Yeah, can you see us in the naked..” Charlie paused and bandaged his sister’s head from his first aid kit.

“Yeah, I wonder how many there are left? And where the hell they are.” Millie turned again. “We need to get the hell out of here. We’re burning daylight.”

Again they rose and plunged into the bush, rushing as fast as they could through the undergrowth, not knowing what lay in front of them. Or what was behind them. Titus lay in his sack, not moving.

An hour or so before dark, they found themselves in a little group of houses around what appeared to be a lagoon. Two of the houses appeared to be occupied, one with its chimney smoking. Two others seemed vacant. They sneaked through a window into one of the vacant ones for the night, figuring that no one would follow them in there with some bit of civilization around them.

Silently, they spread their blankets on the floor and settled Titus in a towel between them. Then they ate a skimpy supper from cans of tuna fish and Vienna sausage. Then after dusk they settled into their beds.
Millie had Titus with her in her bed. The big tom began the process of making a personal bed with the covers.

Suddenly Charlie turned over to his sister. “How many of them are still on our tale?” he asked, out of the blue.

“I don’t know,” she answered. “We’ve shot our way out of two situations. I hope they know that we are going to defend ourselves.”

“I wonder where the regular authorities are in this,” Charlie stated. “For some reason we’ve never seen them. Even in that little town. There was nobody around.”

“I don’t know, brother.” Millie turned over on her back. “It’s like they’ve gotten the law in their pockets. They can do anything they want.”

“You mean we’re on our own,” Charlie replied. “We’re alone in this. We must defend ourselves.”

“Yes. You, me and this great big feline here.”

By now Titus was asleep wrapped up in the tale of Millie’s bed blankets.

For now, however, there was silence. No nearby shots or other possible harm. Both kids drifted off to a long night’s sleep they hadn’t had in a long time. When they awoke there was the sound of a mowing machine nearby. Charlie moved to a window to discover a man mowing his lawn on a ride mower.

“It’s nine o’clock, Charlie. “ Millie moved up next to Charlie. “I can’t believe it is so late.”

“I know. We ought to eat a bit of breakfast and then get out of here.” Charlie turned around to get into his backpack for a bit of jerky, while Millie stayed at the window.

Titus had awakened and was working at the corner of the room on what looked like an insect hole.

“Hey, Millie. I think our son has found himself another bug.” Charlie laughed.

But Millie turned to Charlie, a look of alarm on her face. “Charlie, a big boat has entered the lagoon and is pulling up at a pier behind the house next door.

Charlie moved to the window. “That’s not a police boat, Sis. That’s something else.”

The man mowing his lawn stopped his mower and moved to the little dock. There he engaged in conversation with a man in a bathing suit. Nearby were three others, a man and two women.

“Who do you think that is, Charlie?” Millie asked in a whisper.

“Who could it be but the Bakersfield bunch,” he replied. “They probably got fake Federal I.D.’s, all kinds of shit to get around to find us.”

“I think they’re going to go through these two empty cabins, Charlie,” Millie stated quietly. “If we get our stuff together and slip out the back we can put some distance between us and them pretty quick.”

“Yeah, let’s do it.” Charlie looked around and found Titus with a large roach in his mouth moving across the room to the bag which carried him.

Quickly the kids got their stuff together and took off out the back way, heading through high brush up a hill, taking care to stay beneath trees and large bushes so as not to be seen from below. Fairly quickly they reached the top of the hill. There, hiding in brush, they watched the boat tie up at the dock and discharge five people to search the area.

“This time we picked up everything we left in that little house,” Millie whispered to her brother. “Even the trash.”

“Yeah. That place should look like nobody’s been there.” Charlie looked around for Titus and found him doing his business beneath a thorn bush nearby. “I wish we had a map,” the boy uttered.

“We’re off the map I had,” Millie replied. “I’m sure there’s maps of this place somewhere, though.”

“We need a big map,” Charlie suggested. “One that shows the way to Columbia. The way to Uncle James’ place.”

“God, that’s a long way from here, Charlie.”

“We get to James’ place, we’re home free.”

“O, I get it,” Millie turned to her brother. “We get to some center for public transportation and take it from there.”

“Yeah. A bus or a train.”

“We get from here to a large city.” Millie gestured with her hand. “We’ll have to take pains to cover our trail from here.”

“Yeah. And we’ll have to have some general idea where we are going.”

Without a word, the two rose, placed Titus in his pouch, set out through the brush toward some form of civilization where they could perhaps hire some form of transportation.

They labored cross country for two days before coming to a small town that looked like it may have a bus station.

Early one morning, they cautiously and warily made their way through the outer residential areas to the middle of town. There they found what they had been looking for, a bus station.

Inside they were informed that a bus going to Deerfield, a suburb of Kansas City, would be due around one o’clock that afternoon. They bought two fares after promising they would look after the cat.

They went next door to a café for breakfast at a table in a window.

“I don’t think anyone we’ve talked to has noticed that we have been trekking through the wilds,” Millie whispered.

“I think, they think, we’re just two kids headed home from a summer camp,” Charlie replied. “I think that’s what we look like.”

“When we get to Deerfield, I think we’ll be well away from the Bakersfield bunch,” Millie whispered again. “We’ve got relatives there.”

“Yeah, I remember,” Charlie looked up and then around. “We haven’t seen them since we were small.”

“The Minnicks.” Millie put her forefinger to her cheek in thought. “The kids were Marylynn and Wilbur.”

“Yeah. Wilbur went by Butch. I remember that.”

They boarded the bus at half after twelve, took off and both kids were sound asleep by two o’clock.

A little after five, they arrived at Johnsonville, Missouri, and were told that there was a layover as the roads to Deerfield had been washed out by recent storms. They were told that their tickets to Deerfield were still good and there would be a bus to that city in a day or two.

“What are we gonna do, Sis. for one or two days?”

“Get in one of these old hotels and hide out,” Millie replied. “Rooms around here couldn’t be that much and after sleeping together in a damned tent day in and day out, the same bed’s going to seem like paradise.”

“I guess you’re right, there.” Charlie looked around, then up and down the street. “That looks like a good place to eat across the street, there.”

“God, what are we going to do with him in a restaurant.” Millie turned the large sack containing Titus around. “Look. He looks like he’s asleep.”

“We ought to put him down somewhere.” Charlie gazed into the bag. “He probably has to take a crap.”
“Yeah, there’s a park down the street, there.” Millie pointed and reached into the sack to pet Titus.

They started down the street, Titus in Millie’s arms, but were abruptly stopped by a woman sitting on a bench just inside the park.

“Damn, Sis, is that Bea Stapleton? Charlie reached out his hand to stop his sister.

“It couldn’t be, Charlie. Clear up here.” Millie slowly put the big cat back into the bag. “How would she know where we are and even how we got here. She wasn’t with us on the bus.”

“She sure looks like her, though.” Charlie moved his backpack around to his side and readied the big pistol inside.

“There’s no way that could be her.” Millie took off toward the park. “Come on, Charlie. Don’t even look at her.”

They got to the park and turned Titus loose to his sniffing and clawing around. But when they did look back to the bench on which the woman had sat, it was empty.

“Damn, Sis, where’d she go?”

“I don’t know.” Millie turned around looking in different directions. “Let’s go over to that hotel and get a room.” She pointed at an old ten floor hotel which fronted the park. “I need to give this guy some running room before he claws me to death.”

They headed toward the hotel in question, both kids keeping a sharp eye out in all directions for the mysterious woman plus anyone else who would look suspicious to them.

A short time later in a sixth-floor room of the aforementioned hotel, the kids unpacked their packs after stowing their tent items in a nearby corner. In the meantime, Titus made a nest out of the extra blanket on one of the twin beds.

“That couldn’t have been Bea Stapleton down there, Sis.” Charlie settled in a chair next to the window.
“I’m thinking that woman has been doggin’ us all along, Charlie,” Millie parked herself on the bed across from her brother. “To the cliffs, that little town, the lake, everywhere she was there.”

Bea Stapleton was a middle-aged woman who worked as a leader among the Bakersfield Group. Charlie and Millie believed she was the force behind much of what the Bakersfield people did, including the robbery in which their mother had been killed. Afterwards the kids had been terrorized by the group as they were among the first to figure what the Bakersfields were up to.

Millie pulled a big Communist Bloc automatic, a prize from the lake shoot out, out of her backpack. “Charlie, if she shows up here, I’m going to put a bullet in her.”

“That’s not her, though,” Charlie replied. “It couldn’t be.”

Charlie lay down on his twin bed. “If you plug her, you will be killing an innocent woman, who we don’t know from Eve.”

“I’m just so sure that’s her, Charlie.”

“I know a good test,” he sat up and faced his sister. “If she follows us to Deerfield, we’ll know it’s her.”
“That makes sense, Charles.” Millie turned to the sleeping cat. “When this thing wakes up,” she laughed, “he’ll take a whiz and a crap somewhere we’ll have to clean up and then choose one of us to spend the night with.”

“I don’t know where we’d be without him, Sis.”

When the kids walked out the next morning to find a place to eat breakfast, the mysterious woman from the previous day was nowhere to be seen.

In a little coffee shop near the hotel, the pair had a quiet breakfast, all the while vigilant of the people around them. However, no one was familiar. They were all strangers.

When they boarded the bus at ten o’clock, there was no one around either. In fact, the bus was half empty.

“Nobody, Sis. There’s nobody around that’s familiar.”

“Yeah, Charlie. And that woman yesterday was a stranger, too.” Millie settled in her seat. “I think we’re home free to Deerfield.”

What they were unaware of, however, that in Deerfield a woman waited. A woman name Bea Stapleton. She and four others had settled into a house formerly owned by the Minnicks. The kids were unaware that the family had moved two years before, but the five-waiting people sat and waited, their weapons at hand.

Millie and Charlie had charged up their cell phones for the first time in their entire time in the wilderness. Now Charlie had an idea.

“Let’s try to get in touch with the Minnicks and tell them we’re coming.”

But Millie suspected something. “Charlie, I think we need to be careful when we get to Deerfield. You know those people are still out there and we have no idea what they are up to.”

Soon their bus crossed the state line and headed for the interior.

“A downtown hotel, Charlie. That’s where we need to land when we get to Deerfield.” Millie turned and looked out the window. “Then we find the Minnicks. Slowly and carefully.”

It was sound advice, so Charlie agreed with his sister with no hesitation. “We settle in a hotel and then what do we do, Sis?”

“We snoop around the Minnick house, Charlie, and see if they are still there.”

“Why wouldn’t they still be there?”

“People move, Charlie. And with the Bakersfield mob, I wouldn’t put anything past them. Even murder. You know that as well as I do.”

“Yeah. And we have our guns, too.”

“Yeah, with very little ammo,.”

After a full day on the road, the bus pulled into the central station of Deerfield, Missouri. The kids stepped off the bus with their pacts and immediately began looking around for a hotel. Deerfield, as a rather new city, had no older accommodations as other cities had, but there was a newer Holiday Inn that Millie’s credit card would have to pay for. The two kids headed for this.

The card had belonged to their older sister Kathleen and it had her name on it. But Millie had ID belonging to Kathleen, including a Driver’s License, with Millie’s pic on it. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any problems here.

But something still bothered Millie and Minnick’s house was not too far away.

Settled into their motel room that night, both kids lay awake and considered their situation. They would try a phone call first. If that didn’t work, they decided to make their way over to the neighborhood of the Minnicks and see if they could see anyone in or near the house. They would not be surprised if the Minnick family was not there.

They tried the phone call to find the Minnick phone ringing, but to no answer.

“There’s nobody there,” Charlie offered. “Maybe they’re at work. Maybe they’re on vacation.”

“I don’t know about that, Charlie,” Millie replied. “I told you earlier I smell something bad; I still do.”

‘Well, big sister, what do we do?”

“We got the money; we go home.”

“We go home.” Charlie’s voice raised. “How many of those assholes are going to be waiting for us.”

“We go back to Hallersville and wait. I don’t think they’ll expect us to do this.” Millie paused a moment and gazed out a window. “I don’t think they’ll expect us to do this, at this point.” She repeated.

The next morning they bought bus tickets to Hallersville, clear across the state. Their home lay on the outskirts of the city so they could sneak up on it if they had to. But Millie didn’t think there would be any enemies there. And if there were, she felt they could deal with them.

“Yeah, at the lake we dealt with them and nearly got killed.”

“Yes, but now, we’re going to be ready for them.” Millie’s voice was low and determined.

“What if we wind up in another shootout?” Charlie still was not convinced.

“We’ll have the upper hand, Charlie,” Millie was becoming impatient. “Whoever we find there will not expect us to be there.”

After breakfast, they boarded the bus for a tiring all day trip.

At eight o’clock that night, their bus pulled into the Hallersville Station.

A sleepy Charlie and Millie gathered their baggage and headed for a hotel down in the next block. There they would plot their next move. And it would be a move that would put an end to their troubles. They could only hope.

Late the next morning they stirred. Millie went to the telephone and dialed her home phone number to which she received a busy signal.

“Someone’s there, all right, and it isn’t Mama Ceil.” She turned to her little brother who was sleepily turning over in bed. “I’m wondering now what has happened to Mama and sister Georgia.”

“Hey, Millie. Call the cops. Tell them we think someone has invaded our house.”

“Call the cops? That outfit has them in their pockets, remember. They were defunded two years ago. Most of the good cops are gone. Certainly no one who is going to help us.” Millie put the phone down and then sat on her bed. “You and I need to develop a plan to get in there and find out what the hell is going on in our home.”

“Well, what do we do, then?” Charlie gazed out the front window. “Who knows what’s waiting for us over there.”

“Well, we’re going to find out.” Millie picked up a revolver and checked the cylinder. “And we need to be is ready for it.” She sat down with the revolver on her lap. “We’ll take the bus that will drop us at Oaklawn and Old Main. And then we’ll come up to the house from the alley. There is an approach from the back of the swimming pool.”

They rested up and then the next day, Wednesday, they boarded the city bus that would take them to their neighborhood. What weapons they had were carefully hidden on their persons under their clothes and in a knapsack carried by Millie. They left Titus with a full can of cat food in their hotel room. They knew he would run and hide if a main came in. Hopefully, this day would be the end of all their troubles.

The bus dropped them one block from their home. Slowly they made their way down the street, ducking into shrubbery when they could. When they came in sight of their house, they stopped, hidden behind a hedge across the street from their house. Their immediate question was where everybody was.

Quickly and quietly the two siblings slipped across the street and to the front door of their house.

“I don’t think anybody’s here,” Millie whispered.

“I don’t hear anybody,” Charlie stepped up to the door and tried the doorknob. “It’s locked up.”

Millie pulled a key from her little bag she had carried around her waist. “Let’s go in and have a look.” She inserted the key and the door opened.

Inside, the two, weapons at the ready, went from room to room. “Nobody’s here,” Charlie greeted his sister in the family room.

“I expected Molly to be here,” Millie replied quietly. “They’ve either taken her or she’s run off someplace.”

Knowing their aunt’s knack of leaving word, a short search turned up a note in Millie’s bedroom.

“It says here she’s gone to Jeanette’s,” Charlie whispered.

“That’s just three blocks from here,” Millie replied. “I’m thinking she thinks the Bakersfield bunch is going to search this place.”

“It doesn’t look like they have.”

“Of course not,” Millie sat down on her bed. “They’ve known all along where we were. Or where we would be when we moved. They’ve been dogging us ever since we moved across the state.”

“And now they have…”

“Yeah. Their last conclusion is that they’ve gone home.” Millie settled in an easy chair. “Now we just settle down and wait. We’ll go back to that hotel, get our cat, settle the bill and then come back here and make this place look deserted.

“They’re bound to come back here sometime, Sis.”

“Yes. And when they do we’ll be waiting for them and we’ll end this bullshit once and for all.”

That evening, in their family car driven by Millie, they returned to the hotel, picked up Titus, paid their bill, and hurriedly returned to their home. That night, they took pains to make their house look deserted.

Since they knew their home well, they could move about it in the dark. They used no lights at night.

And they used a watch, each day, for any sign that their enemies were on their way to their house.

Soon after their arrival, their caretaker, Molly, came to the house and was surprised by the kids she thought were still far from home. Quickly, Millie instructed the woman in what was going on and the risks they were all taking by being where they were.

The woman replied she would go along with the kids but did admit that she was terrified.

“We’re just as scared as you are,” Millie replied. “But we’re all in this together. And if it is going to end, it is going to end right here.”

Titus found his old box where he had left it and rejoiced in a brand new blanket in it. The big tom acted as if he didn’t have a care in the world. But the kids were ready.

Watches around the clock. At night one would sleep while the other stood watch.

Two days after they had inhabited the house, the kids were surprised by the return of Molly, who had returned to check the house. The woman was genuinely surprised when she met the kids in the house. She thought they had left again.

In strict and silent detail, Millie told Molly what had been happening to her and her brother in the last month. She also told her of the imminent threat to everyone in the house if the Bakersfield bunch or anyone else found that they were there.

Molly mentioned the police, but Millie replied that the police had long sense been rendered helpless by the votes of the people. From the looks of things, she and her brother had to fend for themselves. She closed by saying that the house would look like an abandoned household, just like others scattered through the community.

“I want to stay with you,” Molly replied after Millie had finished. “that’s what I was paid to do.” She reached over and pulled from an old backpack a nightshirt, two changes of underwear, two t shirts and shorts sets and a pair of slippers. Also, hidden in the bottom, was an old thirty eight caliber pistol and a sack full of bullets.

“I’ve been carrying these around for weeks,” she announced, and held the pistol and bullets up.

“You’ve come to the right place,” Charlie trumpeted, holding Titus in his arms with both hands. “This character stayed with us all the way,” he said, and let the big cat down to run into the kitchen.

“” Thank God we have another pair of eyes and ears on the area.,” Millie added. “Everything now looks like this place is deserted. That’s the way we want it to be.” She stood up and walked over to the door.

“Aunt Julie is gone, our stepmom is gone, and from the looks of things, you’re in charge here.” Millie laughed. “Welcome to the club.”

“Yeah, welcome home.” Charlie chimed in. “We’ve got you, me, Millie, and our fearless tomcat already out of it on the couch pillow in the living room. Welcome to Nobody’s here.”

With that the three of them opened three beers in the refrigerator and toasted their present situation. “The beers are the only thing In the frig we’re sure isn’t spoiled,” Charlie announced. “From now on we’re eating out of cans.”

“I can get eats from Ms Clara’s,” Molly replied. “She has plenty of food. And we can trust her with our secret.”

“You’re sure about that?” Millie asked, silently.

“yeah. Yeah.” Molly took another drink of beer. “ I remember what the Bakersfield did to the Oldham family.”

“I remember that, too. Jacob Oldham was in my class since first grade.”

Charlie finished off his beer and returned to the kitchen to get food for Titus.\the three of them lived a watchful, silent existence for three days until the next Sunday. Then, people would go to church and the Bakersfields would be watching the empty houses around.

“If they think nobody’s there, they just pass the house by,” Molly stated

“Therefore, we three hide out in the back room,” Millie replied. “With our guns of course.”

Charlie, who had located a long case with a 12-gauge single shot shotgun in it along with a box of shot shells, announced “I’ll be at the door.”. Charlie put a pallet down in the back room and then put his newfound shogun by it.

For a week the three of them carried on the charade of a deserted house. It was a good thing Titus was an indoor cat who readapted to the litter box and feeding after living in the outdoors for some time.

Millie had taken to skulking around the house, automatic pistol in hand and a long Japanese bayonet that Charlie had bought at a yard sale in her belt And the siblings had no troubles with the pallets as these had been standard sleeping fare for days in the wild. Molly, though, had to get used to it.

The siblings had been sending Molly out for groceries to an all-night ice house several miles from the home base. In a family car, she would go around one o’clock and return around two in the morning. It was this late night going and coming that attracted the attention of neighbors although the car was kept in a closed garage.

Another week passed but this time Molly’s late-night goings and comings had been seen by a neighbor, a neighbor who had informed certain people that the supposed house was now occupied. Certain people knew, of course, who these inhabitants were.

And the kids were preparing for a confrontation. What ammunition they had was carefully laid out with the particular gun that used it. They had taken weapons from each time they had met their adversaries. The only gun that had many rounds was Charlie’s shotgun.

And Molly had added to the lot with an old thirty-eight pistol with a box of shells that was almost full.

The Bakersfield mob in Hallersville was ruled by Mrs. Jocylyn Norsworthy who had taken the lead of the group after a number of them had been detained by the law and found themselves in prison. Ms. Norsworthy had straightened everything out by bribing the local District Attorney as well as a few judges with money she had obtained from a foreign source dead set on the ruin of the United States.
Millie and Charlie were menaced by this group because of a large diamond brought home by their long dead father from South Africa.

Their mother had told the two kids about it only on her deathbed and given them the location of the gem. Now all they had to do was get to it, but the Bakersfield mob had found out about it early on and since the gem was worth an incredible amount of tax-free money, they wanted it.

The diamond was not at the present abode of the siblings, however.

“I think they’ll just come straight at us like they did in the wild,” Millie exclaimed one evening. “Which means we’re going to have to maintain a readiness for them.” She had Titus on her lap, stroking his back.
“We’re about as ready as we’re going to be,” Charlie replied from across the room. “All we have to do is see them first.”

The three of them were now keeping a constant watch during the day as they sensed that by now their neighbors knew that they were home. And it was only a matter of time before the Bakersfields had this info also. Therefore, the deserted house routine was over, and they were keeping a constant watch front and back. They did not have long to wait.

One night, late, five figures bailed out of an SUV one street over from the kid’s house. Silently they slipped down the street to the alley of the houses in front of their target in question. Then they found leeway between two houses and made their way to the street several yards from the house. They crossed the street and lay down on the lawn of a house next door to their target. They didn’t know that they had been seen crossing the street.

Silently, the kids and Molly prepared to meet them in the front room. Weapons ready, they waited.

Suddenly, the front door was violently kicked in by two people at least, but when the door came open, no one was there. Then the front window was smashed by a garbage can thrown through it and a figure appeared coming in the window.

Charlie leveled the shotgun and fired, knocking the figure back through the window.

Another window was smashed in the front bedroom and Millie quickly ran to the door of the room to cover it but no one was there. Another window at the back of the house crashed and Millie jumped up and yelled at Molly.

“In the back-room Molly, now.” The woman sprang to her feet and headed down the hall.

There she covered the broken window with her revolver. Almost immediately a female figure appeared in the window with, apparently, the intent to get into the house.

Molly fired four times, hitting the figure, all four times. She collapsed into the room while another figure, a male, appeared behind her.

Molly, who had only one bullet left in her five-shot .38, yelled as loud as she could for help from the front of the house. The figure was aiming a pistol at Molly when it was knocked back through the window by the blast of a shotgun slug.

“Molly, reload!” Charlie shouted. “I’ll cover this window here until you can reload that gun!”

Molly retreated as fast as she could to the front room where she had left her box of ammunition. There, she found Millie with only five rounds in her automatic covering windows in the front room and the front bedroom. Quickly Molly reloaded her pistol and put a number of bullets from her box in the front pocket of her smock.

In the meantime, Charlie had fired through a window at a figure trying to force a side window open. The individual dropped his crowbar and ran around to the front of the house. Charlie, who had filled his pockets with shotgun shells, quickly reloaded and hurried into the front room .

“Charlie, keep an eye on these windows,” Millie stood up and turned from the front windows in the living room. “I’m going to check the windows in the back bedrooms.” She disappeared down the hall.

A loud crashing noise from a back bedroom caught her attention in the other room. Millie hurried across the hall and into the other back bedroom where she fired two rounds into the head of an intruder who was half into the room. She rushed up and pushed the striken individual back out of the window.

Someone in the bushes outside the house fired at her and the bullet just grazed Millie’s left sleeve.
She turned out of the window and tried to see her assailant in the bushes but saw no one. However, a female figure she had not seen coming jumped through the window and knocked Millie backwards onto the floor.

She dropped her automatic but quickly grabbed her assailant’s gun arm and pushed it aside, all the time pulling the bayonet she had put in her belt. Still holding the woman’s arm away, she thrust the bayonet into her lower abdomen, pushing the weapon in so far that it existed between her hips. She left the bayonet in the woman and fastened both her hands on her adversaries’ gun arm until she let go of the weapon.

Suddenly, however, there was a blast of sirens from the front of the house as three police cruisers pulled up outside the house. The kid’s adversaries quickly ran in all directions as the police quickly exited their cars and, taking shelter behind them, tried to cover the running individuals.

Finally, there were no Bakersfield people left, only the dead and wounded. When they were sure all their enemies were gone, the kids and Molly put down their guns and exited the house through the front door.
They were met by two policemen, guns drawn, who told them to halt and raise their hands. They were told to get down on all fours and then the police began to frisk them. A female officer frisked Molly and Millie. Then they were told to rise.

First Millie, then Charlie, testified as to what had been going on surrounding the shootout at their home. Then Millie continued by telling them what had happened since they had taken off from the railroad station in Hallersville.

They were then transferred to the local police station to make formal statements. There they learned about the Bakersfields, how they were funded by wealthy people outside the state and that the defunding movement and other malfeasance which had been going on for well over a year now. The siblings were not the only people targeted by the Bakersfields simply because they were children of conservative community leaders. But, because of them, as well as others, the reign of this vicious gang came to an end.

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