DAY FIVE HUNDRED THREE
We are being hemmed in. By other people, by circumstances. Our expectations and plans lie in tatters.
The global security forces have locked up the ingress and egress points around the entire metropolis. Which puts us in a dilemma. We are closer than ever to catching up to the Hamashiachite. But if we stay another day to make that happen, we may never be able to leave.
Elijah remains upbeat, exhorting me with the truth that it will all work out for the good.
He is especially moved by the fact that the attitudes of some of the people in the slum are changing towards us. A few are even responding by asking us questions.
For now we will stay.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED FOUR
Mixed blessings today. We are rejoicing over our new friend. We caught up finally with the lone Hamashiachite. We call him Jordan because neither Elijah nor myself can pronounce his name. But he does like the sound of it, and he thinks it appropriate – for he feels it matches his new beginning.
He became a follower of Hamashiach in the days after the Glorious Appearing. He’s had no one to instruct him, so he is ecstatic to have discovered us. I assured him that he has not been alone- that the Spirit has obviously been at work in him.
On the downside for today – our encounter earlier called our presence to the attention of the authorities.
We are laying low.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED FIVE
Jordan has not left our side since we discovered one another yesterday. And Elijah wasted no time in seeing to his instruction. He has big plans for him. Or more accurately stated God does.
It has something to do with the people here in the slum, or more specifically with those who have expressed a desire to understand the meaning of the times in which we live.
The promised things are closer now than ever before.
A battle is ongoing for the allegiance of the peoples of this metropolis. Those in the well-to-do sectors have already surrendered to it, for they clearly see that their continued prosperity depends upon their submission.
Next they will seduce the slums.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED SIX
We left the metropolis today. But only for the day.
Jordan tells us that one minute Elijah was explaining that we would return, then we were gone, vanished.
Upon our reappearance he asked if he would be able to do the same thing some day. We told him we couldn’t say and could only advise him to stay close to Hamashiach.
As for us, we passed the day in a cold country which was covered in a thick layer of snow. There Elijah poured himself into a gathering of followers of Hamashiach. To judge from appearances they have assembled from several countries.
Strange to think that for a time we were free, and now willingly are back in our problems.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED SEVEN
Elijah says the time has come for us to move on. So I have been exploring the best options open to us.
Jordan wondered why we just don’t “disappear” like we did before. It made me wonder if he was ready to fulfill his part in the coming events. I was at the point of reprimanding him, when he declared that we needed to contact the trash collectors. He said the idea just popped into his head.
I took it as a confirmation as the idea was one of the options on my list. Both Elijah and I encouraged him (and indeed were encouraged ourselves) about this openness to the Spirit’s leading that Jordan is manifesting.
Now the next step.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED EIGHT
The trash from the slum is the refuse of the refuse. The slum grew up around the dumping ground of the well-to-do, and is minutely combed through by the slum’s denizens. What is left to be carted out, no guard would deign touch.
So, our friends covered Elijah and me with the most foul-smelling and messy collection of trash possible.
And thus we took our leave of the metropolis. And after cleaning up in a safe place and a change of clothes we were on our way again.
Elijah is confident that Jordan will bear much fruit to the glory of the One. And I am glad at the prospect of seeing our friends on the ship.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED NINE
I don’t like this forest we are traversing. Not at all. At times the path disappears completely. Jordan warned us about its vastness. And gave it a name, calling it a jungle.
It’s noisy in the extreme, except when it isn’t. Elijah says the small animals are the noisy ones, but when you hear them, all is well. But when they’re quiet, you should be concerned, for it means that some larger animals are hunting them.
I hesitated and decided not to ask but he injected into my pause that it most likely is a lion or some other fierce predator.
I got to say that after that I pulled back from the lead position and kept pace with Elijah.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED TEN
One plus about this jungle – we do pass other travelers, and thankfully none of them are officers of the global government. They are either merchants or peasants traveling to or from the metropolis.
Elijah queries each one upon encounter about Hamashiach. But so far all have hurried on, expressing no curiosity by asking any questions in return.
One merchant even became belligerent, and would have struck Elijah except that he clearly saw that Elijah’s staff was bigger than his.
With a snarl he continued on towards the metropolis.
I am sure he fully intends to report the encounter to the authorities.
But we should be through this jungle and well on our way before anyone can get up a pursuit.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED ELEVEN
We have come safely through the jungle. But not without problems.
First there was the issue of that irate merchant, whom I could tell was delighted by thoughts of doing us harm. Such a mind will only succeed in consuming itself.
Then, just today, there was a ferocious attack by a big cat – not a lion – but a jet black cat about the size of a lion. And not upon us, but upon other travelers, a family of peasants.
Elijah waded straight into the fray swinging his staff left and right. The cat bobbed and weaved, and took a swipe at him, but at the same instant Elijah caught him with a backhand, sending him sprawling.
Stunned, the cat fled.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED TWELVE
The road is clear ahead, and I can almost smell the sea. I can’t see it through the haze in front of us, but I can sense it is there. We are noticeably descending. Elijah claims we are approaching sea level.
The peasants we rescued yesterday were grateful, but not followers of Hamashiach. Before we separated they told Elijah that people answering our description could be found in a certain household in their village.
We are on our way there now. According to their directions it should be the third village on this road.
It was quite late when we arrived in the second. Elijah, being eager, wanted to continue but I prevailed upon him to wait for the morning.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED THIRTEEN
Upon rising this morning a melody filled my heart and soon a song of praise to the One was on my lips. It was a brand new song, one I had never heard before.
Elijah was greatly cheered by it. He said it portended awesome things for the day ahead. We both took eagerly to the road again.
Our mood changed when we passed a temple built beside the way just outside the third village. Slaughtered bodies lay all around its premises. Like the others we’d seen, it had been plundered, emptied out of valuables. Unlike the others, the attendees had resisted. And paid for resisting.
And likely as a consequence when we entered the third village it was deserted.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED FOURTEEN
More empty villages littered our route. Though discouraged we are hopeful for the road ahead. Elijah feels that the household in question may have fled to the large city now within our view. I pointed out of course that the populace of the entire countryside appears to have done the same.
A heavy mist that has covered the environs of the far side of that city has melted away in the afternoon sun, revealing the presence of the sea beyond.
Thankfully it will limit the flight of our fugitives.
However with each step forward the city looms larger. It is an effort to keep the task ahead in perspective, and less daunting.
We decide to seek first for the shipyard.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED FIFTEEN
This city is a jumble. The people are milling about everywhere. Many have taken up residence in the streets, and thereby impede all movement.
We have spent a good part of the morning trying to find a way through to the harbor area. No street runs straight. We would choose a likely prospect only to be disappointed when it lead to a dead end or took a turn to the opposite direction.
Everyone we ask either doesn’t know where the harbor is located or didn’t even know there was one. Seems we are all new to the city. And all strangers.
Then turning one corner, first Elijah then I heard the melody I had awakened to just two days ago.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED SIXTEEN
That melody discovered to us the sought after Hamashiachites. When I think of the teeming masses around us, I marvel that Elijah and I are now among these precious people.
We call them simply the Raj – again on account of our inability to reproduce their sentence long name. Three generations of a single family with almost as many members as letters in that name.
They confess they have been like sheep without a shepherd and rejoice to finally have direction and a purpose. (Through Elijah’s ministrations, of course).
And the benefit has been reciprocal in their willingness to look after our needs.
And wonder of wonders, the two youngest men have found work in a shipyard.
Tomorrow they take us.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN
The Raj twins, (for such they are), awakened us early and led us on a serpentine crawl across the face of the city. I would not like to make the trip any later.
Elijah reflected an unruffled demeanor upon entering the shipyard. I, by contrast, could not contain my excitement at the prospect of reuniting with the Captain and the crew of the ship.
Two vessels were on the stocks in the dry docks, but neither one was ours. The twins left us at the shipyard office to make our queries.
To our joy the Captain emerged from the office as we were climbing the stairs.
To our questions he gestured to the first in a line of waiting ships.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED EIGHTEEN
A whirlwind of happenings since yesterday. I’ve hardly had the time to sit down and consider it all. And I’m not sure I will have the time to put it all down. So I’ll have to keep to those things of the most importance.
We had a magnificent reunion.
The crew is all hale and hearty and little changed since last we saw them.
And Tomas declared he was more glad to see me than I him. (I think he is counting on me to take up the Purser’s office again).
We’ll leave that for a future discussion.
We were no sooner settled than the ship was unmoored and taken into dry dock.
We may catch our breath by tomorrow.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED NINETEEN
We were no sooner settled in than we were out again. Some barracks space has been made available to us, Elijah and myself, among the crew for as long as the ship is on the stocks. Or as Tomas has come to call her lovingly “the rust bucket.”
She may need more than a fresh coat of paint, however. All depends upon what they find upon a closer examination.
All hands will be called to help.
We have conferred at length with Tomas and the Captain. Time is not on our side. Just as we have witnessed the aggressive movement in our journeyings of the global faction, so too have they been dogged by similar actions upon their coastal cruise.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY
Elijah and I returned with the Raj twins to their family last night. We have a lot to do in a short time.
This morning we stayed with the family rather than going back to the shipyard. (We would only be underfoot and in the way if we tried to help with the ship’s repair).
Elijah has laid out for the family a plan and a route for their future journey. They are eager to comply and are pressing us for a word on when they should depart. All we can tell them is that they will know within themselves when the time is right.
They have balked however at Elijah’s insistence that the twins accompany us on the ship.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY ONE
When the Raj twins failed to return from the shipyard over night, the rest of their family begged us to seek them out.
Since Elijah and I were aware of the push to finish repairs on our ship, we weren’t too concerned, and explained our reasoning. This calmed them until rumors electrified the streets that global security forces were entering the city.
We left immediately for the shipyard, taking the family with us. They realized that now is the time.
We were the first to arrive at the yard with the news, and in turn were surprised to see our ship again afloat.
The Captain brought everyone aboard, reuniting the family with the twins.
We standby for our next move.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY TWO
The Captain sent Tomas ashore to confer with the dispatcher about taking on again the cargo that had been off loaded prior to the ship’s entry into dry dock. And to discover if the port is now under global control.
He brought back answers for both questions, plus one other. The Captain had hoped to add some new shipments, but we will only be allowed to take on the old shipments. Indeed the global government is now exerting control – no new shipments will be allowed without “the mark.”
We had a short debate whether to go back in or not.
The Captain brought the ship alongside the cargo dock after the Raj family and Elijah and I were secreted away.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY THREE
The cargo was loaded back in the holds, with room to spare, no need to place any of the containers on deck. An official from the world government stood by watching everything. He even made a pitch to the Captain extolling the benefits of bearing the mark. The Captain declined politely without explanation.
We managed to take on a pilot without an accompanying government representative.
He missed the boat.
When beyond the harbor, Elijah met with the Captain to talk about the next port up the coast. The Captain wanted to skip this port and strike out eastward. But Elijah argued for the risk as he judges it the best port from which the Raj family can start their journey.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR
It feels good to be underway again – out in calm seas under sunny skies, especially as the Captain has decided to take the risk and put in at the next port up the coast.
Elijah has invested all his waking hours with the Raj family, which he gathered into our cabin to go over the slightly different route they will be taking.
At one point he sent for me. I was with Tomas in the Purser’s cabin, listening to his arguments for taking on the job again. It seems some of the older members of the Raj family were battling sea sickness.
I rejoined Elijah in our cabin and did what I could to help them cope with the malady.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE
We are sitting in port at the end of a long day. This city has proven a surprise to all, not the least of which is the fact that it is under local control. Not a hint of the world government anywhere.
I wonder how long that will last.
We have filled the holds and will top off tomorrow by securing a few containers on deck. The Captain is pleased.
Elijah and I bid goodbye and God speed to the Raj family, who will depart from here upon their journey and mission.
They in turn committed to hold us up in prayer before the One. And had a tender parting with the twins, whom they have surrendered to our care.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY SIX
The Raj twins are fascinated with the workings of the ship. They followed me about everywhere, from the depths to the heights.
The one, whom we call G, was particularly enamoured of those things that are done routinely for the maintenance of the ship, as a result, most likely, from his experiences in the shipyard.
His brother P expressed more interest in what Tomas does when functioning as Purser.
This would be fine by me, for I have not felt right about taking it on this time around. As long as the other parties involved agree – Tomas, the Captain, but especially Elijah.
For now, Elijah feels we are beyond the reach of the global government. And hopes to stay ahead.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY SEVEN
The crew is scared witless. Elijah has been sharing with them portents of future events. He did temper his vision with reasons to hope, but they have only been able to focus on the downside. I took every opportunity to share with them out of our experience about how that hope is real and has the power to see us through anything.
I passed part of my time today with P to instruct him in the duties of a purser. (Yes, he has been approved for the position by all concerned). He has asked a lot of questions – always a good sign. I encourage him to ask more, as it gives me the best insight into what I should teach.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY EIGHT
At the end of my time in the special cabin today, I was comforted by the realization that it still looked and felt the same, but then I wondered for a moment was I still the same or have I changed. However I shook the notion off when I realized that I was falling to the temptation to judge myself and not placing my reliance where it should be.
A lesson learned long ago, but needing to be relearned. I am such a leaky vessel.
Tomas was coming in as I was going out. We had a brief exchange – momentous news from the bridge – the radio has sprung to life – a sign that the global authorities are extending their reach.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY NINE
The Captain was conflicted. With the satellite network re-established the ship’s navigation will be so much easier and exact – no need to rely on the old methods. But it does mean we will be tracked wherever we turn – wearing “a mark” of another sort.
He turned to Elijah for his advice. Elijah thinks that at this stage their system will lack the sophistication to be used against us. He is all for using it to speed us on our way and to perhaps increase our lead. Still, as a precaution he suggested that Tomas be assigned to monitor any changes as they manifest themselves. And then revisit the decision.
Later, Tomas brought word that we should make landfall tomorrow.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY
As predicted we arrived just off our destination in the early afternoon. There was a lot of traffic – more coming out than going in. We took our place in line, and waited our turn.
The Captain came to me to ask after Elijah. The last I knew he was going to the special cabin, so I replied that he was more than likely still there. The Captain then inquired if Elijah had any plans to go ashore.
I had to plead ignorance.
Not wanting to disturb him, we waited.
Elijah emerged around the time our turn to enter port came up. Unbidden he declared we were not going ashore, saying this city is completely given over to the dark one.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY ONE
There were no overt signs, no indication on any level that this place was given over to the enemy. Not even any posters of Stan’s image staring down from the walls.
But a brooding sense of malignancy made its presence felt at the edge of our senses.
Elijah and I remained in the ship. One look over the ship’s railing was enough for us.
Tomas took P ashore to school him in the purser’s responsibilities with the dispatcher. The other Raj twin G wanted to accompany them, but was told his charge was to remain with the ship.
Tomas brought back surprising news – we will be allowed to load several containers whose owners don’t bear the mark either.
DAY FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY TWO
After Tomas and P reported to the Captain, they came to Elijah and me. Both were shaken, nervous and on edge. We had expected their reaction despite their attestations beforehand that they could handle going ashore in that dark place.
We spoke in turn to encourage them. I pointed out that their reaction was a sign of maturity. P wanted to know if we ourselves were fearful of going ashore. To this Elijah gave the reason that it was not required since it did not fall within our call. There being no Hamashiachites for him to collect in this city – indeed the entire country – he feels free to bypass it.
Elijah did drop a hint about a return one day.
ON TO MONTH NINETEEN