Cans popped off the fence quickly this time, shots fired off in rapid succession.
“Great aim, fellas. This is what I was looking for the other day.” Stephens boomed from behind them all. 10 men were lined up about 50 yards from the fence where the cans met their fate.
They were all a part of what they called a ‘gun club’, but in private conversations they all knew that they were a quick response team in case anyone connected to them became accosted by the increasingly strict Federal Government.
“Let’s go get a drink. I don’t even think mini-me missed one today.” Stephens tousled his teenaged son’s hair getting various protests from him and laughter from the rest.
They all walked together back to the big house in the middle of his property. Robert was a quiet man, never really said too much. He had always been quiet, as far as he could remember. While the rest joked about something, he was thinking about getting back home. The wind pushed the tall grass like waves on the ocean.
“Whatcha thinking about, R.J.? You look troubled, man.” Jacob was a nice guy, always asking if everyone was OK or if they needed anything. A hospitable man who did not need to have you in his apartment to try to provide hospitality.
“I’m alright, just thinking about the news again. Always some fucking bullshit.” Robert didn’t need to say more to get affirmative grunts from the rest. All conversations now fixed on this tender point.
“They just make shit up. You can’t hardly trust anything on mainstream media these days, man. I just stick with folks I met online and YouTube. Get the news from people who are there, instead of some regurgitated crap. All watered down and branded with a logo and an ideology.” Stephens practically spat the last word onto the dirt as he kicked the dust from his boots.
“Politicians. And then you have these freaks in the cities, from who knows where smoking who knows what – trying to make decisions that override the rest of us.” Jacob huffed, rubbing his Duck Dynasty beard with a big hand.
“Not even Americans in those cities anymore, I’m afraid. You seen them burning everything down just because some guy got shot. People get shot all the time all over the world. Why freak out over another one? Dumb as hell.” Kevin Stephens spoke for the first time since he got his hair mussed up.
“Watch your mouth, son. But you’re right.” His father spoke softly, the clanking and shuffling of cloth louder than his words. They didn’t need to be loud for everyone to really hear what he had to say. They felt it.
Jacob broke the rustling silence of the march with a “god-DAMN”.
“Now what?” R.J. said, causing some chuckles. Jacob was always getting fired up over something online.
“Someone said that they see someone in their neighbor’s yard who is probably an alien, but they are doing yard work. But look at how he looks at his phone constantly!” He shoved the phone into R.J.’s face, instantly causing a headache. He hated looking at screens, but it was the only way to make it in this world. Sure enough, the video showed a man weedeating and stopping every couple seconds to check his phone and type something in.
“Probably just texting his girlfriend. Quit getting all riled up over mundane shit, Jacob.” R.J. kept walking. The rest made various “ooo’s” and chortles. Jacob turned red behind all his hair.
“Probably your girlfriend, Jacob!!” Someone chuckled out.
“At least I got one!” He puffed. Everyone laughed.
The trees watched quietly. The bugs were quiet, but no one noticed.
California air was hot and still that night. The bugs danced softly in the moonlight as R.J. slept in his bed. The bed with the itchy sheets he loved. They reminded him of something he couldn’t quite remember, but he always got close when he was sleeping in that bed, when he rested on the edge of being awake and being a dream. Vibrant reality stole him away from that place tonight, he was restless for some reason. The bugs tried to soothe him, but to no avail.
“Water.” He stood and the floor of his trailer creaked loudly, scaring something out from underneath and into the woods. As usual.
“Racoons” he muttered as he got some cold water from the tap. He opened his phone and went into his app rotation. Force of habit.
“Chinese spotted off of Alaska?” Again?” He gulped the water down. “They pull this shit almost monthly now.” It is not uncommon for the Russians and Chinese to dart in and out of our airspace occasionally, testing response times. But the Chinese have been particularly annoying recently.
“Every time this happens people think they’re invading. No one reads more than the headlines.” He shared an article with the same sentiment of his attached as his personal caption.
He filled the glass again, somehow thirstier than before the first glass of water.
His phone went off suddenly with a loud alert tone, scaring the shit out of him and making him drop the glass and shatter it in the sink. The phone leapt from his hand and into the sink in the same moment.
“Jesus Mary and Joseph” Robert whispered to himself. He cut himself just barely retrieving the phone and drying it off, reading the emergency alert message on his lock screen.
Stay at home order issued. Chinese invasion of West Coast underway. Stay at home to allow military personnel to travel unrestricted. Turn to your local news station. Stay at home.
Within 30 seconds, or about the 10th time rereading the message his phone rang out into the silence.
“R.J.” He spoke
“You seein’ this shit?” Stephens breathed heavily on the other line.
“Yeah, not sure what I think about it. Smells like bullshit.”
“Call your guys and I’ll call my half of the list, and we meet up at… Rally point A?”
“Yeah and I will bring the signs we made last time, plus some blank ones.” R.J. was putting his wallet and keys into his pocket as he spoke.
“I’ll add a link on Facebook to try and get more folks to show up. This is obviously a false flag to do something worse.” Stephens chided. “We need a better social media presence. We need all the good patriots to show up and show the government we don’t believe this, and that if it is true we CAN HELP!”
Something about the way he said the last part riled R.J. up. He did feel sort of miffed the government did not call on the militias he knew were all over the place.
His turtle was watching him this whole time, stretched out under his heat lamp. As R.J. walked out the door, it slid in the water to cool off.