DAY FOUR HUNDRED FIFTEEN
The base camp for the drone may have been found, but that left some questions unanswered; such as, who placed it there – who tended it – and are they still in the vicinity.
It had occurred to me that it may not be just one individual. Elijah supported my supposition and advised setting a watch on the accesses to the promontory heights. The Purser made the assignments.
I again went out to finish my canvass of the settlement. But instead of Mawuli, Elijah accompanied me. (So I surrendered his staff back to him).
We were at the furthest reaches of the camp when Elijah raised his countenance and his staff to the sky. And a flaming star fell from its height.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED SIXTEEN
The wreckage of the satellite which had been spying us was hauled before the council’s pavilion today. Nothing of much use.
While the leaders were convened I again went about my assigned task. This time I went by myself.
I’ve become quite familiar with the camp in all aspects, except one – the matter of the water supply. At one end of camp there is a well to which all on this side of the promontory congregate. The rest of the camp is serviced by a spring that comes down from the heights. They keep well back from the resultant stream – to avoid contaminating it.
I followed it westward for some distance where it flows out to the plain. Then returned.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTEEN
The council at Elijah’s urging has made the decision to depart the plain. I had seen this coming and was glad for my expedition of the day before. I made a recommendation that we set out along the stream westwards for as long as feasible.
After we dispersed out of the meeting we scattered to set the command in motion. Elijah and I returned to the Purser’s tent and assisted his family in their preparations for the move.
The Purser joined us after he had gotten the word out to his surrounding neighbors. He then asked me to remain with Mary and the children while he and Elijah traversed to the west side of the camp to lead the advance.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED EIGHTEEN
There is no longer a camp. We are all mobile.
I have taken up the rear guard position. And in that capacity I have made my best effort (with help of course) to obliterate any evidence of our having been on the plain. I shall extend that endeavor by covering or sweeping over any sign of our passage. Again with much help.
As we descended from the plain I could just make out the van of our body in the distance ahead. And Elijah clearly in the lead.
Good spirits abounded. I especially noted the good cheer in those assisting me in my chosen chore.
Mawuli was with me and flitted about calling our attention to things we had missed.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED NINETEEN
As the rear guard we were the last to go into bivouac last night. Despite the late hour I went in search of Elijah.
I arrived just as the council was closing their meeting. They had been evaluating their first day on the march. Overall it was positive. And our rear guard was commended for our diligence.
Elijah and I drew apart by ourselves. He wants me to choose someone else to take my place on the rear guard and rejoin him in the lead.
So I have kept a close eye today to that end. I would like to appoint Mawuli, but fear his youth would be a stumbling block. I asked Mawuli and he recommended the perfect candidate.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY
The stream beside us is widening into a river. Soon that fact will precipitate a decision.
We covered a good deal of ground today. And the people are adapting to a new rhythm for their lives. There is no sign of pursuit nor that of surveillance. Spirits remain high.
I joined Elijah in the lead, so I have to adopt a new mindset. No longer am l preoccupied with where we’ve been, but now my focus is on where we’re going.
There is no road or path, only the meandering river. But that soon will be of little concern.
In the evening council meeting, Elijah revealed that we will soon part ways with the larger group to catch the ship.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY ONE
I guess Elijah was listening to my jabbering a few days ago. For one of the ideas that I threw out during my monologue, he actually brought up today.
At the front of our column we could see that the river ahead is taking a decided turn towards the north. A road from the east joins it at that juncture and follows it north.
Elijah says we will continue east taking that road. It leads to the port city on the eastern coast where we hope to catch up with our ship.
So believing that there must be someone from there amongst the followers of Hamashiach with us he sought them out.
We now have a contact name. Praise God.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY TWO
We arrived just short of the road this evening. The Purser had located the former denizen of the port city who was invited to spend the day with us. We have learned much.
The man, a former merchant does not hold out hope that we will find any believers left in the city. Further he warns that the remaining population may be hostile. He is incredulous that we would want to go there.
In the evening council meeting I confess I was quite moved by what Elijah shared. He explained they will have an important role to play in the future.
At the close he advised them to ford the river to the side opposite the road and head north.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY THREE
The Purser will continue to lead the followers of Hamashiach on this continent. We said farewell to him and his family. I will miss them, but most of all, Mawuli.
I was struck with curiosity as they approached the river to cross, keeping an eye on Elijah to see if he’d intervene. But the river, though wide, was very shallow at that point and no action on his part was necessary.
We stayed until the rear guard was across. And Mawuli and I exchanged our last goodbyes from opposite banks.
Elijah turned his face eastward. I followed suit and we set out.
The road runs straight with little change in elevation – the highs brought low and the lows filled in.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR
We have not seen anyone else on the road, in either direction, since we left the river yesterday. Judging by the calculations of the former merchant from the port city we still have three days to go.
Elijah tells me that the Purser had given him a message to relay to the Captain. A resignation – and an apology for doing so. Elijah raised an eyebrow to me at the finish of this information. I caught his gist and agreed to offer to take on the position if acceptable to the Captain.
My mind was filled afterwards with thoughts of what I would do as a ship’s purser – things that I learned from watching him, and things from my own experience.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE
What had appeared to be distant hills in the morning light has grown to become mountains with the fall of night. It must be the coastal range we’ve been told about, so the port city is just beyond.
We met two men on the road today. They slowed their gait upon sight of us. And we passed each other warily, exchanging queries about the sections of the road we have respectively passed through. They report all clear through the mountain pass; and we gave a similar account for the section of road that we had been on.
We saw plainly each man bore the mark, and they clearly noticed we do not.
For a time I cast frequent glances backwards.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY SIX
We have the mountain behind us and it is well after dark. We pushed on through to be out of the pass and well below the tree line before settling in. The exertion of walking kept us warm through the snow and ice.
The view before me now has captivated my attention. I’ve completely forgotten the sights and sounds of the day that got us to this point. The port city stretches in both directions along the coast. So many tall buildings and all of them intact. The ravages of the great destruction are strikingly absent.
However there is one disappointment- nothing is visible in the harbor. I mean to say, we cannot even see the harbor much less any ships.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY SEVEN
First thing we descended to the city. All the gates were closed. We heard the sounds of activity within, but saw no one. We made our way around to see the harbor. Three ships floated there and two were tied up at docks, but none was ours.
Then we realized we had to check the opposite side. And when we did, we discovered another road from the north and an open gate.
The guard in command denied us entry, for in his words we may not conduct business without the mark. Elijah declared we were not merchants. This stymied him and said he would ask his commander. And sent us away.
We have to wait to see what comes next.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY EIGHT
Before Elijah and I left camp this morning we settled in our minds and spirits what our course of action would be if refused entry into the city. I thought through some additional contingencies, chief of which was the possibility of our separation, which indeed was what they attempted to do.
We had checked the harbor for our ship prior to making our appearance at the open gate. Knowing that our ship had not arrived was key to our response to their dictum.
So when the guard of yesterday informed us that only Elijah would be allowed entry, we declined the offer and left.
However, we do plan to remain in the vicinity for the immediate future.
Be patient always.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY NINE
Late into the night Elijah and I discussed what to do. Before turning in we concluded that we would explore our immediate surroundings.
First on our list was the northern road that runs out of the one open gate. In the hills just outside the city we discovered a series of villages and farms. In those that were closer to the city the mark was prevalent. But further out it disappeared. Good news.
We were able to restock some foodstuffs. And gain some information. Those without the mark had been driven from the city. They uneasily await a future expulsion from their current locale.
Come that time Elijah advised them to prepare to travel north to search out the Purser.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY
Well, we almost ruled out ever returning to the area south of the city.
It was the next logical step as we set out this morning. To our surprise we encountered no villages or even farms in that direction. At least until we realized there was no arable soil due to omnipresent rocks. A reality that increased as we went along.
That is until we made our way back along the rugged shoreline. There we ran into a tiny fishing village clinging to the sides of a perfect little cove. The fishing fleet was then out according to those left behind. And indeed we could make out small craft dotting the ocean between here and the city.
We shall return.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY ONE
A momentous day of broadening horizons. We indeed did turn our steps southward and revisited the tiny fishing village.
Elijah inquired of one of the villagers if there were any port cities further to the south. The villager was in the midst of enumerating three such cities when I noticed for the first time a huge land mass stretching across the ocean’s horizon in front of us. And I realized that cloudy weather had obscured it from us ever since our arrival.
Elijah switched his questions to this large island, and learned that there is a major port on its northern side.
Before leaving we made arrangements to ship out to said port with the fishing fleet early tomorrow morning.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY TWO
We have arrived on the island after a very long day. Elijah did not want to risk missing the departure of the fishing fleet so we set out well before sunrise. In fact it was dark when we came into the fishing village and seemingly darker still as we cast off.
I was sick almost immediately. These small craft are nothing like our big ship. They bounce about too much. Elijah was stoic throughout.
As we passed the midpoint, another cloud bank descended obscuring the island. The fishermen hesitated and wanted to put about, but Elijah insisted we continue.
We rounded a point on the northern end and there the fog lifted, leaving a clear path into a lonely beach.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY THREE
An interruption in the night (that is the incoming tide) chased us further up the beach.
Upon dropping us off yesterday, the fisherman pointed west to indicate in which direction the island’s port city lay. So we set our sights to explore that quarter.
So far we have encountered no roads, and any and all paths have only led us up against a high wall of rock.
The lingering fog hides the features of the surrounding area. We can only surmise that this beach is hemmed in by the sea and the towering cliffs of the mainland, and hence the beach itself is our only available pathway.
Every so often the fog rises and we see ships in the distance.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY FOUR
The fog lifted with the early morning breeze. You would think that would make a substantial difference in our headway. But it did not. In a couple of instances our forward movement was halted altogether by the incoming tide.
It was not time lost in our estimation. It was time to get our minds off of our problems and onto the One who holds the solutions. And I think we more than made up for our delay during those times when the tide was out. Way out.
By day’s end our progress was such that the port city came into our view. And like the one behind us on the mainland it appears to be untouched by the Great Destruction.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY FIVE
A tantalizing sight within our prospect, the island’s port city in its glass and steel grandeur, but at the same time we are sobered by the zig-zagging coastline between us and it. It goes on forever and ever.
I take the opportunity here and there to push in off of the beach to look for any means by which to scale to the heights above us.
I returned from one such foray to an excited Elijah. He had spotted a ship underway off the coast. A ship that he is certain is the one that carried us across the other ocean.
It seems more important than ever that we find a way up the cliffs that hem us in.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY SIX
I too, caught sight of the ship that Elijah spotted yesterday. And I also believe it to be our former vessel.
It appears now to be holding station off the harbor, awaiting a pilot or permission to enter. On one hand it is reassuring, giving us more time to get to the city; and on the other (at least in me) engendering a concern that it may be gone before our arrival.
Our progress is much as before -stumbling along in starts and stops. Elijah and I now use the down time in different ways. He meditates. I continue the search for ways up.
Recently the presence of homes on the heights raises hopes that they are serviced by roads.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY SEVEN
At long last we found a way up off of the beach.
It was during one of our down times. Elijah sat facing the ocean while communing with the One. I found a rivulet that sank into the sand before reaching the sea and followed it back in hopes that it would lead to an opening in the cliff wall. Or perhaps even a valley that could carry us into the interior.
Instead its source was a pool at the foot of the rock wall, fed by a waterfall down its face.
And running parallel to it was a rickety stairway structure. I clambered to the top and there, sitting abandoned was a lovely villa.
I ran to fetch Elijah.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY EIGHT
We are making much better progress. The road keeps within a stone’s throw of the cliff edge as it runs its course, passing a whole series of widely spaced villas. Noticeably it passes by those properties built on points of land that jut out towards the sea. Points that often cut off our advance when below on the beach and held us up until the tide retreated.
We have yet to encounter anyone on the road. Elijah thinks that everyone from out this way has moved into the city. The properties seem all well kept and cared for, so if Elijah is correct it could only have happened recently.
We picked up the pace upon sighting the ship in harbor.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY NINE
The dust of many a mile had coated our limbs by our arrival before the walls of this port city. And like we found its sister port on the mainland behind us, no gates were open. And no one presented themselves to greet us or send us away.
Elijah set our immediate agenda. We washed off in a public fountain outside a closed gate. Then we proceeded to skirt around to the nearest point from which to view the harbor.
He judged the day too far spent to allow us time to trek around to the far side of the city. So we set up camp and built a larger than usual fire.
Perhaps they will come out to us.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED FORTY
The only illumination during the night (besides our bonfire) were from the ships in harbor. The city itself lay dark and eerily silent.
The ship we identified as ours appeared to be docked towards the opposite side of the port. So, rising early we set out to march to that end. Our first sight of the landward side was disheartening. The city is so huge we despaired of reaching our goal before nightfall. In the distance a low causeway ran from the interior of the island up to the city. This proved to be a highway leading to the main gate of the city.
I wanted to attempt entry there, but Elijah decided we needed to stick to our plan.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED FORTY ONE
Today was a day of confusion and frustration. Though we could see our ship, that was all. We had arrived at our desired destination by the time the sun reached its zenith. There is no access into the city on this side.
We did gain the attention of those on watch by jumping up and down and other such similar antics. Tomas appeared at their call and we tried shouting to one another across the distance, to no avail. Elijah took his consequent pantomime to mean that the Captain was ashore and that we should enter the city by the main gate. A course of action I was all for, but one that Elijah rejected most vehemently.
We waited instead.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED FORTY TWO
We’ve had our reunion. Of sorts. While Tomas remained on duty, the Captain came out to us. It was a joyous occasion.
Especially as we have ascertained that the Captain as well as his crew, remain free of the mark. They have consequently since our parting been forced from some ports which were wholly given over to the world government, including this city’s sister port across the water.
I gave the Captain the messages from his former Purser, which he received with thanks. And he greeted my offer to serve in his place with enthusiasm.
Elijah was glad to learn that the ship’s future course remains the same. He was relieved enough to surrender his reluctance to enter the city.
DAY FOUR HUNDRED FORTY THREE
We followed the Captain back around to the main gate. And were admitted without ceremony.
I could not help but think that had we shown up unaccompanied our reception would have been much less friendly.
Inside the city was as silent and eerie as it seemed from outside. Elijah shared this observation with the Captain, who waited until we were back aboard ship to explain. The city for the most part is empty, very few inhabitants.
I saw this for myself when I accompanied the Captain ashore today. The members of our crew helping to unload outnumbered by far those from the port. And in my new capacity I was limited to one of their counterparts. His name is Emil.
GO TO MONTH SIXTEEN