DAY ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY NINE
Lyle has not returned. Not last night, not this morning.
All are upset by this, but Grazie most of all. I assured her and the others that nothing can happen to him. (Left unspoken is my confidence, nay my growing conviction that the vision is true and cannot be thwarted).
I reminded them of Lyle’s history in similar situations. He always returns.
I decided to set an example and went about my normal duties. And urged them to do likewise.
I took Grazie with me and we reported for seed sorting. Over our work I picked up on our former conversation. I explained she need not fear losing us. In fact, they will all be removed from the coming storm.
DAY ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY
With the advent of a new day and still no Lyle, the tension continued though unspoken.
Before we dispersed to our chores, the messenger from two days ago arrived. He handed me a note. It was from Lyle, a request that I meet him at the city gate and render him assistance.
The messenger seemed surprised when I asked to return with him. (My turn to be surprised that he was not aware of the contents of the message).
Lyle was waiting for me at the city gate. Four elderly people were with him, two of them disabled.
After we settled them in the encampment, Lyle took me aside.
Stan made the offer that one receive the mark for all.
DAY ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY ONE
It is obvious to both Lyle and myself that Moglen and Stan are angling for leverage. Despite their promise to the contrary, they count on everyone in the encampment giving in and accepting the mark if Lyle were to set the example.
The fact that Lyle did not dismiss the plot out of hand must give them hope. The same fact gives me pause, more so since Lyle won’t discuss why he didn’t.
Moglen did not set a deadline for the decision, yet. I believe Lyle sees it as an open door to bring more longing souls out of their clutches.
But I see a deeper stratagem on their part to bog us down, knowing we won’t abandon the helpless.
DAY ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY TWO
The messenger came into our camp this afternoon with Flowers in tow.
He delivered his charge then departed. Flowers took up a stance and motioned to all to gather around. He announced that all was resolved. He had met with Moglen and together had hammered out an agreement. Since the world authority would settle for one in the outside community to represent the others by bearing the mark, he, Flowers, had volunteered to fill that position.
Lyle raised a hand and halted the proceedings. He crossed to Flowers, tapped his shoulder, and led him out. At Lyle’s nod, I followed.
At the vineyard, Lyle pointed to the desert and said, “Go and find yourself.” Flowers launched out without a word.
DAY ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY THREE
All await the ultimatum. It’s dependent, of course, upon when Moglen and the others discover their latest gambit has collapsed. In the opinion of most, it has already occurred. Four drones instead of the usual two buzzed the encampment and spread out from there.
Lyle called a meeting of his leaders, but even more people came. Hardly anyone reported to the fields. Everyone wanted assurance. Not just for the future. But for their next breath.
Lyle was the calm in the center of the storm. He directed their focus to where it should be.
Afterwards we went off together. I asked him what we were going to tell Moglen when he asks to speak to Flowers.
“The truth, of course.”
DAY ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY FOUR
The white hot fervor of the people has cooled, and is replaced by lethargy. I have seen the phenomenon over and over again.
Nothing stirs from the city, no action of any kind. The drone activity has ceased, but I can only qualify that as to its overt manifestation.
Who knows what they may be up to? Soon ignorance on that score will stoke the monster of fear and the people’s mood will swing again. What is lacking is maturity.
Lyle sees growth in our people in these matters. It is his opinion that this problem is more rife in the people who oppose us. He predicts that that will give in to their fears and accuse us of wickedness.
DAY ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY FIVE
Lyle was gone already when I arose. No one knew where he had gone. He had not left word with anyone.
I was not too concerned and thought for sure he would reappear before we set about our chores.
But instead of Lyle, Moglen burst in upon us. Accompanied by six of their guards.
He asked only for Flowers, demanding to talk to him. And he did not like my reply. He did not believe that “our” liaison would traipse off into the desert on a whim.
My protest to the contrary fell on deafened ears. And he changed his demand. He is taking me with him to answer to Stan face to face for Flowers’ disappearance.
Moglen is terrified.
DAY ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY SIX
– How I dislike writing things down. ‘Enough’ is so much better suited for this. But now with him in the hands of Moglen and Stan it falls to me to keep the chronicle going.
– I came back into the encampment after a quick trip down to the desert. I found the narrow track with little problem. Flowers should be well on the way.
Grazie informed me about ‘Enough’s seizure and insisted on going with me to the city. There at the gate, we were turned away with no comment.
I was successful in restoring calm to the camp.
How I pity Moglen should he try to coerce my friend.
Keep entries short, lest I draw attention.
Confined by myself, waiting. Bored.
DAY ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY SEVEN
Out early to the city gate. Asked to speak to Moglen. And sat down to wait as the message was relayed.
Noon hour rolled around and Grazie brought me something to eat and to inquire about Enough.
She was sad to hear there is no news. I think it strange that no one seems to be interested in what I have to say.
I am prepared to wait all day if necessary. And intend to offer myself in his place.
Mustn’t declare this in Grazie’s hearing though. Have to find a way to send her off before I talk with them.
EVENING AFTER 9PM
Another day in my cell. At least I think a day has passed.
Neglected. No food. Hungry.
DAY ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY EIGHT
An exercise in futility? I prefer to see it as battling the temptation to impatience.
Stayed all day yesterday, returning to camp with no answers. Grazie remained until the end, and would have been waiting there still if I had not prevailed upon her that she had other duties and responsibilities.
Encouraged her to take her post at the vineyard today, and promised that I would remain in camp. She made me vow further that I would not venture to the city without her.
Two drones, one after the other, buzzed the camp.
I stood out front and waved.
I’ve been moved. To Moglen’s in the second district, with a view of the first district square and its golden statue.
DAY ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE
Sent Grazie off to the vineyard again. In full view of the drones overhead.
Called for a meeting with the community leaders. Spent much time in thought leading up to it.
Open yourself to being led, and expect yourself to be called upon to lead.
Once we had the gripes and complaints out of the way, I made a proposal to the group. Since our goal is to open communication with those within the city, I suggested we pack up the camp for a move. And begin with the noon drone flyby. Perhaps that way we can goad them to a parley.
Unspeakable. What man will do to other men and women, all in the name of the world government.
DAY ONE HUNDRED NINETY
From the minute we took down our tents, more drones joined the ones patrolling. And as we finished packing, these flying sentinels positioned themselves on our perimeter.
Some of our people froze in place at being hemmed in this fashion. Others turned and pressed into the center of our position.
Calm was restored at my urging as I passed among them. I then moved to the perimeter facing the city and waited.
Grazie was the first to detect movement across from us. I looked up to see Moglen and his contingent.
We waited. And I sorted through my thoughts, formulating my questions.
Moglen abruptly left their criminal “festivities.”
They have no idea the judgment they are storing up for themselves.
DAY ONE HUNDRED NINETY ONE
I got in the first question. “Why are you holding my friend?”
At Moglen’s answer I realized that my prediction had come true. They are accusing us of gross wickedness. They suspect we have murdered their liaison Flowers.
The truth they will not accept, which is not surprising, for that is at the root of the difference between us.
We will not be allowed to leave. They have required us to unpack and we are setting up the camp again.
We remain under their close surveillance, even in the fields.
And they refuse to release Enough.
Stan’s presence interrupted my peace.
He will release me and put me into Moglen’s position if I take the mark.
I declined his offers.
DAY ONE HUNDRED NINETY TWO
I’ve been hard at work reining in the hotheads. It took a bit of convincing but they finally went about their business.
I did make them the promise that together we will not let anyone else be taken from us. Most are eager to demonstrate that they are innocent of the charges leveled against us, that they are good citizens and can not be swayed to any unrighteous act.
We are trying to keep up some modicum of normalcy, while waiting for Moglen’s people to respond to my challenge for evidence for their charge.
It should be the surest way to free Enough also.
Alone again. All day. No food. No news.
Does Stan think he can change my mind?
DAY ONE HUNDRED NINETY THREE
Grazie is being held at her post in the vineyard. And we can’t do anything about it.
She had left for it at the normal hour this morning. One of the patrolling drones pealed off and followed her. That seemed normal too, until Moglen came into the camp to claim his daughter Terresta.
Regret seized me. I should have insisted a change in Grazie’s duties to keep her in the camp. But then again she always made herself scarce if ever there were even a hint of her father anywhere near.
I told Moglen we will oppose him however we may.
Moglen’s bands are forcing more people into the square. I was shocked to see Kip among them.
DAY ONE HUNDRED NINETY FOUR
There has been a strange turn of events.
They held Grazie at the vineyard, but we had them surrounded and cut off from the way back to the city. At this impasse, Moglen slunk away, probably to confer with Stan as to his next move.
Then, word came from Grazie that she had to speak to me.
And this her guards allowed. She wants to go with them back the city, even if it means, to her father. In a whisper she added it’s her true path, for the time is at hand.
So I let them pass.
Kip did not flinch, come the time of his ordeal. I do not believe he could hear or see me cheering him.
DAY ONE HUNDRED NINETY FIVE
Silence blanketed the camp, as if the very earth paused between breaths.
I took a walk in the quiet. No one stirred from their tents. Only the muffled sounds of whispered conversations.
My feet bore me over the well trodden path down to the vineyard. There I sat, and watched and pondered.
No, nothing to get ready, just be ready.
My captors have upped the ante. They tell me that Terresta is now subject to their control. And they said straight out that her fate is in my hands.
Little do they understand Grazie or myself.
We know our fates.
DAY ONE HUNDRED NINETY SIX
The drone levels have stepped up today. And why not?
With the dim view they hold of us, Moglen and Stan have probably convinced themselves that we are plotting a rescue for Grazie and Enough.
And they are likely getting an eyeful with each meeting that I have attended throughout the camp. All to prevent that very thing from coming about.
Therefore I have cautioned everyone to continue to go about their everyday routines, and to eschew large assemblies.
Their rescue is coming soon enough. And not at all at our hands.
My captors act crestfallen. My non reaction to their threats upsets them.
Upon their exit, they declared that I am responsible for what happens tomorrow in the square.
DAY ONE HUNDRED NINETY SEVEN
One of my leaders brought a small matter to me to judge this morning. You would think that such small irritants would be overshadowed by the seriousness of our present situation. Life goes on. I made it an object lesson.
The drone presence slackens. Only one circulates at a time. When a second arrives, the other makes one last circuit in tandem, then disappears back into the city.
A column of smoke rises again over the city. It has grown throughout the morning swelling ever upward.
One after the other has perished as I watched Grazie move up the line.
When they halted for the day she stood first.
Her turn will come tomorrow.
I think she looked towards me.
DAY ONE HUNDRED NINETY EIGHT
Though an overcast day, the column of smoke was still discernible over the city. (It was a degree or two lighter in color).
Anxious thoughts about Enough and Grazie crowded my mind. I resisted the gloom. But at the point of success, a horde of drones descended upon us out of the city.
You’d think Moglen lost something.
Grazie appeared to me in my dreams. She took my hand and I stood to my feet.
My cell door lay open. Soon I followed her lead through empty corridors and out into the streets of the second district.
I was not asleep after all.
We hid in an empty house in the third district.
An image of Flowers graced one wall.
DAY ONE HUNDRED NINETY NINE
The drone levels have returned to normal. Instead sightings place their interest now directed to the other side of the city.
No contact from Moglen or anyone else of his ilk.
We kept to the house last night and throughout the following daylight hours.
I asked Grazie if she had any plan for our next move. She replied that it was nothing other than what I had taught her – just wait for direction.
Evening was coming on, when she announced that she was going out to find her father. Shocked, I wanted to accompany her, but she declined and assured me she would be back.
Before midnight she was.
Within minutes we slipped out into the darkness of the night.
DAY TWO HUNDRED
Rejoicing that Enough and Grazie have been delivered back to us.
(And glad to relinquish the writing chore).
We were unimpeded all the way back to the camp. The gates of the second district and that of the city to the fields stood wide open, their guards in position, but slumped to the ground in sleep.
Great was the surprise of our friend Lyle when we burst in upon his evening quiet time. We exchanged accounts of our doings. And I heard at last from Grazie about her encounter with her father Moglen.
He is a broken, confused and remorseful man. She offered him her forgiveness. It is why she sought him out.
Then she told us it was time.
DAY TWO HUNDRED ONE
Lyle and I left immediately. We took nothing with us, save the clothes on our backs. Not a morsel of food, for each knew that days of fasting awaited us.
We reached the vineyard easy enough, helped by the path’s familiarity and the penetrating light of a full moon before it set.
And there we stayed. And rested. Neither of us wanted to stumble around in the dark attempting to find the narrow track down from the plateau to the desert.
With the first glimmer of dawn we were on our feet and on our way.
We had just emerged from the narrow track when the trumpet blew. The very air shook and the ground trembled.
No time to waste.
DAY TWO HUNDRED TWO
The implications of what the future holds for me is becoming more real as I reflect upon what I have witnessed since leaving our people behind.
As we reached the desert floor and split up to take our own unique paths, the heavens split open too. And looking back to whence we came I saw our people streaming skyward to the Glorious One.
And with clarity the widow and her son among them.
Saw Grazie plainly in the van of the stream rising to meet the Glorious One. Grateful.
Was also gratified to see some individuals rising from the direction of the city.
The sound of the trumpet reverberates in my memory, marking also my parting from Lyle.
DAY TWO HUNDRED THREE
The scrub lands have given way to solid rock beneath my step. Off in the distance a vast desert of sand beckons me.
Behind me the city is now visible above the cliffs we descended. It sits silent and dark.
A buzzing overtook me at midday. A lone drone. Its intent, to harm me. It crashed instead.
The slap of my feet echoes across the rocky expanse I am traversing. Gone is the scrub, the last vestige of a living organism out here.
Or so I thought.
At one point there was a loud buzzing way off to my left. Then nothing.
A dragonfly flicked by my ear and for a moment I thought it may have been the source.
DAY TWO HUNDRED FOUR
With each passing day it is getting warmer and warmer. Soon I shall travel only at night.
How far I am going I have no idea. I do know that I have not yet arrived at my destination.
Sensing the onset of noon I looked towards the sun to judge the hour. A fireball streaked overhead. I whipped my neck to follow it. It exploded on the city
Moments later came the sound of its impact.
The buzzing sound returned. I looked back and saw a drone headed straight for me. But then it was as if it were swatted out of the air and it crashed to the ground.
At that same instant a fireball fell on the city.
DAY TWO HUNDRED FIVE
Today I am farther away from the city, yet I still see the glow of it burning.
I covered a good deal of ground overnight, and am now sheltering in what shade I can find along this boulder strewn path.
I see the play of heat waves rising over desert ahead. I estimate that I should reach it by the end of tonight’s hike.
Couldn’t go on beyond four hours of daylight. Sought succor from the sun’s heat in the crevices of the rocky wall that defines my path.
The light of burning fires in the city reflected on the clouds last night helping me along my way. I may only have the moon tonight.
The periods of hunger lengthen.
DAY TWO HUNDRED SIX
There it is before me. The desert. Though I can’t see beyond the first dune, I know it’s vastness awaits beyond.
I wonder how my friend Enough is faring. Has he reached the desert? Is he bearing up under the hunger?
I feel as though I have been sleep walking these last three days. It all seems unreal.
So good to rest after walking the night through. Though when moving I did not feel the hunger so keenly.
Wish I could wash. I was pelted with ash borne by the wind from the fires. Did my best to shake it off, but the smell lingers.
Should pass into the desert tomorrow.
Look to the Spirit’s leading.
DAY TWO HUNDRED SEVEN
From the top of the first dune, I saw the distant point at which I am aiming. A patch of green standing out against all this sand.
I could not see it from every ridge, but often enough to keep my heading.
Now for a time of rest under the tent of my garment.
Slept past the time I meant to start out. Consequently I reached the desert’s edge but no farther.
Looking at this high dune in the burgeoning sunlight fills me with dread. There will be no path now. Pray for some direction.
Searched for and found some pebbles. Will suck on them to combat thirst.
ONTO MONTH EIGHT