Day Eight Hundred Sixty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Over night Elijah and I separately received confirmation that today was our day to enter. We timed our arrival at the gateway to coincide with the morning rush. However, we were intercepted on the way by Meesa and our guest at the desert well, Jezer.

She had been on the way out to our spot to introduce us, and to inform us about the best strategy for entry.

A few awkward moments ensued, then we were talked into entering later in the day as part of a labor crew bringing scraps from outside for reuse.

The stratagem worked. This evening we are within Damascus. And thankful for the Spirit’s timing, for without Meesa’s intervention we would have been turned away.

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Day Eight Hundred Sixty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We got in for closer views of all three entrances, but we kept on the move to avoid scrutiny of ourselves. And as a consequence, we became quite familiar with the paths connecting the two motor roadways with the footpath entry.

The whole area is filled up with rubble that must have been carted out of the city after its destruction.

I sighed to think about all the new buildings beyond, and the people within them, facing the destruction of destruction in the day’s ahead.

We learned that very few on foot went through the motor road entries. And the central path was exclusively for those on foot. Even many not bearing the mark, by all appearances doing forced labor.

Day Eight Hundred Sixty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Our observations of the last day and a half have brought up something very curious. The two main roads are often backed up at certain times as the vehicles are checked before entry. A third way into the city lies between them. A steady stream of people on foot depart the main roads on either side to join the path to this gateway.

So, to my mind without a vehicle ourselves, this looks to offer the best way in, leaving the only decision as to the morning or the evening busy times.

But Elijah hasn’t ruled out one of the vehicle only entries. In fact he rather prefers it.

In which case I think it calls for a closer look.

Day Eight Hundred Sixty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have Damascus in sight. Meesa led us off the road to a ridge above its outskirts, where we have a commanding view of the road and a neighboring one to the west. We can see where each enters the city. And are in a good position to evaluate our options.

Meesa had listened to our explanations with avidity, and peppered us with questions. Before leaving she had proposed another solution by offering to affix a mark like hers upon our persons – an offer we both declined.

We shall not stoop to subterfuge, but we shall oppose Stan and his ilk face to face.

That being said, we shall stay put until we have clarity as to when and how.

Day Eight Hundred Sixty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

This time Elijah wasn’t the only one to notice. When the young woman overtook and passed us by on the road, I saw that she bore a mark, and I could tell it was very much like that of Jezer. Phony.

For her part when she looked back at us, shock registered in her face. And I knew that her surprise was due to the absence of the mark on either of us.

She stopped in her tracks, not knowing what to do.

Elijah rushed forward to reassure her. The fact that she was alone on the road, I believe, made her even more apprehensive, so I held back.

Elijah was able to calm her.

It was a propitious meeting.

Day Eight Hundred Sixty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The villages we passed through yesterday and today were quiet and almost empty, for their inhabitants were out laboring in the fields. The requisite posters of Stan increased in number as we grew closer to Damascus.

And as we were getting closer, Elijah and I strategized about our entry.

We decided that we would hold up at a distance and observe the patterns of movement into and out of the city.

It would also need to be an out of the way site, the better to seek the Spirit’s direction.

We have noted already that at certain times of the day the road traffic slows due to an increase in vehicles and backs up. This may prove an important factor.

Day Eight Hundred Sixty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Town police rousted us from our sleep this morning. We had chosen a place too close to the town for their liking. Thus we were a little earlier on the road than planned.

It worked to our advantage as we made good progress being the only ones on the road at that hour.

Ahead we could see a series of villages nestled along the road surrounded with fields under cultivation.

I debated with Elijah whether or not to leave the road and go around them. He felt no need or compulsion to do so. I wanted to avoid anything like yesterday that could hold us back again.

We concluded that walking in the fields would bring unwanted attention to ourselves.

Day Eight Hundred Sixty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We did not make any progress towards Damascus today. We encamped on the outskirts of a larger town last night – the capital for this district, as we soon discovered. For we decided to begin the day’s journey by strolling through rather than around it.

The telltale posters of Stan hung everywhere with extra added touches of adornment.

We were no sooner in its central square than we were surrounded by a convergence of celebratory citizens that clogged all the exits.

We were a captive audience.

When the officials spoke we learned that they were collected to celebrate the anniversary of the world government coming to their rescue in the drought.

When it broke up, the day was too far gone.

Day Eight Hundred Fifty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We no longer had the road to ourselves. People passed us by in both directions. With the desert behind, small clumps of civilization were huddled around wells and their denizens were going about their business from place to place.

No adults paid us any attention. Only the children in the villages threw themselves in our path. But turned away when they saw we had nothing to give them.

We also had to watch out for vehicles. The best walking was on the paved road, but not when they came by. Especially the tanker trucks delivering water to out of the way places. We never saw them in villages with wells.

We were both silent preparing ourselves for the ordeal ahead.

Day Eight Hundred Fifty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I thought Jezer merely unscrupulous in his business dealings. Clearly his attempts to sell to people not bearing the mark (Elijah and me) would make him guilty in the eyes of the authorities. At the time I guessed that his view was just a matter of – no witnesses – no crime.

But that he bore a phony mark didn’t change my estimation of his character. And that was at the crux of my apprehensions to being in the same city as him.

As ever Elijah is unconcerned. He points out that we have no idea how we will be treated much less whether or not we will be allowed to enter the city.

He just knows that we must go there.