DAY TWO HUNDRED SIXTY SEVEN
We would have (and could have) traversed the underground passage in the space of the daylight hours. But we had some unforeseen obstacles and equally unforeseen discoveries, all of which decided us to remain down here for awhile.
First, our progress was impeded and slowed down by a blockage. A section of the tunnel ceiling (a floor from the structure above) had caved in and all access around was cut off. We were at the point of turning around when Elijah found an entrance into a building. We entered and by trial and error made our way up and over the obstruction.
It was all providential. Our delay meant that we encountered a band of people that needed our help.
DAY TWO HUNDRED SIXTY EIGHT
We all recovered from our mutual surprise rather quickly, due to the absence of the mark on any of our foreheads. This band of a dozen or so people has been hiding out and scavenging in the area since shortly after the recent troubles.
Elijah questioned them all in turn, and answered theirs. (He mentioned two names unfamiliar to me. I learned later that this was due to a promise Elijah had made to Sy, to seek after his parents. No one knew them).
They invited us into their abode, in another basement off of the tunnel. And refreshed us with food.
As Elijah settles in to instruct them in things of the Spirit, I will explore the building above.
DAY TWO HUNDRED SIXTY NINE
I convinced Elijah to return with me into the building above. I wanted him to get an understanding of the city’s layout. And I had something important to share – between us alone.
We felt the burn in our calves after ascending those stairs.
Coming out of the stairwell on the 20th, the view of where we’ve been, greeted us – the river, the bridges and the distant mountain. We crossed to the back where the view of where we’re going awaited.
There were stark contrasts – lots of construction ahead on the left – nothing to the right.
Elijah thanked me. He now knows where we will go next.
I then shared that I saw Stan last night. Roaming the deserted streets below.
DAY TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY
I was awake before anyone else today. A lot on my mind. I got up and paid another visit to the twentieth floor. Upon my return Elijah called a meeting and handed it over to me to run, while he went for a walk in the tunnel. He charged me to teach them about Stan. None among this band have ever heard of him.
However, they tell me about someone who fits the physical description that I gave them. This young man had executed many of their number, but first had engendered hatred and fear towards them in the hearts of his followers by branding them as monsters, walking dead people.
When Elijah returned he prepared them for our departure.
DAY TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY ONE
I was minding my own business, when a torrent of water splashed on my head. They explained that it was often the only indication they had of the weather outside. By the volume, they judged it to have been raining a good long time.
Several accompanied me up to twentieth floor for a look.
Pools of water were collected here and there. And heavy rain was still falling.
I judged it to be the perfect opportunity to lead them to safety beyond the river. I pointed to the bridge they should take and to their ultimate destination where they can join Sy and the others.
We descended, got them all together and ready.
I led them out into the rain.
DAY TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY TWO
I’ve returned from my expedition. I’m confident that our new friends are safe with Sy.
We had a clear shot all the way to the bridge, helped along by their knowledge of a drainage channel that we accessed before the mouth of the passage. Though the water within was high, it kept us out of sight, letting out on the river walk that is below the street level. From that point, a short walk brought us beneath the towering bridge. I watched from this side while they navigated the catwalks and girders in the underside of the structure.
They waved before plunging into the drainage channel on the other side.
Tomorrow we will head into the city, dressed in sackcloth.
DAY TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE
We have found respite after a long day crossing what we thought was a deserted sector of the city. Or what yesterday had appeared to be empty from the twentieth floor. It was anything but.
Unburied bodies lay everywhere. The anguish of violent death marred the visage of those who still had heads. The only sign of life was the wriggling masses of vermin.
Elijah found a path through it all. With each step the vermin fled from before us. And even the stench was dispelled.
When the way grew clearer, he turned to me and cautioned me against touching anything.
Like I needed that admonition.
Thankfully we made it through as night fell.
We shall see what tomorrow brings.
DAY TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY FOUR
There are indications of a great slaughter in this area also, just no human remains left behind to decorate it.
Elijah kept our presence hidden from view. At any sign of activity, construction or otherwise he turned us aside.
Our course was so erratic that we lost our orientation. We entered building after building in search of a vantage point from which to regain our bearings. At long last Elijah was satisfied, and we descended to take up our march towards a garden square in the next sector over.
Suddenly, as we neared our destination, people filled the streets. But we were just two more figures moving in the gathering dusk.
We will spend the night in the garden square.
DAY TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY FIVE
It would have been a quiet night in the square if not for the revelers at midnight. They appeared intent on hassling anyone in their path. Catching sight of us they came straight for us in a booze fueled fury.
Elijah stood to his feet and around the rock of his presence the subhuman tide split and fell to fighting amongst themselves.
We were not bothered the rest of the night, though we did take turns on watch.
With the dawn we took note of which residences surrounding the square did not disgorge any occupants. The second such house as it turned out belongs to Sy’s parents.
They invited us in. And listened eagerly to the news about their son.
DAY TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY SIX
Sy’s parents had been wary before admitting us, explaining that people who spend nights in the square are unsavory characters – molesters, drunkards, robbers – all around reprobates (their description). They keep locked up tight nights.
They offered us a place to stay as long as we want.
We thanked them, but Elijah countered by telling them that we are here to get them out and back to their son.
Our offer was met with frigid silence.
When the father spoke it was with adamant absoluteness. He will never leave. I saw the same resolve in the mother’s eyes.
We turned our talk to other things – of the denizens, their rulers, and the seaport beyond.
We hope they will change their minds.
DAY TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY SEVEN
The quiet of the night was interrupted by shrieks and clashing sounds from the square, though from my bedroom in the upper story, peace enveloped the household still. I rolled over and went back to sleep.
I learned later that Elijah had sallied out and confronted the “reprobates.” I guess that was the clashing or crashing noises I heard.
His bravery impressed Sy’s parents. So they did not stop us when we went out with the morning crowd.
Our plan for the day was simple – get to know the area well enough so as to not get lost.
We came across a worksite. And next to that an administration building, newly opened.
Marked our list and returned home before night.
DAY TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY EIGHT
Last night was quiet and peaceful from one end to the other. Elijah must have made a lasting impression.
Sy’s father put in a request to him. He would like us to get a message to his son. Elijah refused as we are not headed that way. But he added that the only reason for returning – part way at least – would be to point them in the right direction. That ended the discussion.
We left for the administration building. It was as though we walked in a bubble, for everyone on the streets avoided us. And it was the same at the administration building. They declined to let us in until we bear the mark.
We’ll try another tack tomorrow.
DAY TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY NINE
We did not return to the home of Sy’s parents last night. We did not want to chance jeopardizing them.
Instead we passed a quiet night in the square. No one disturbed us.
Come the morning we had a little incident. A raving maniac rushed Elijah, but fell at his feet when Elijah turned and stared him down. The poor fellow has been tagging along after us ever since.
We took up a position in front of the administration building, and waited. A crowd soon gathered when word circulated that a former madman sat docilely with us.
Then, Elijah stood forth and announced, “In thirty days this city will be destroyed!”
The crowd drew back and we left through them.
DAY TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY
Elam, the name of the former madman, goes where we go and lives where we live. He hangs on every word that Elijah passes on to him.
Sy’s parents invited us (Elam included) around to the back of their residence where they supplied us with food. Elijah again tried to persuade them to go to their son, adding that the city’s days are numbered. They declined again, but this time I sense some hesitation.
We turned our faces to the city center. Along the way Elam stopped at each cross street and called out the dire warning. “Twenty nine days!”
Elijah spoke on the administration building’s steps. They still deny us access.
The crowds are getting bigger and linger longer.
DAY TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY ONE
“Twenty eight days.”
Acting our herald in the streets, Elam continued to proclaim the warning.
We gathered a train of people on our way to the administration building. They saw us coming and shut and locked the doors in our faces.
As Elijah spoke to the assemblage, I circulated in their midst. Some people I recognized from past days, but the further out I went, they all seemed so new – and I could tell that they were hearing all of this for the first time.
When Elijah finished I turned back to join him. A small group accosted me. Each one complained to me that which ever direction they tried they were denied exit.
I had no answer for them.
DAY TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY TWO
Elam brought word to us about an armed force awaiting us at the administration building. We decided to alter our schedule. Ever since I related to him the roadblocks to leaving, put up by the authorities, Elijah has been pondering the situation.
He felt it the perfect time to retrace the route that brought us into the city, and I added the details I had learned.
We found no impediment to movement in that direction. And Elam was eager to learn also.
That left our afternoon open to call on the administration building again. They barely had time to seal the doors when we arrived.
Elijah spoke. And Elam and I searched the crowd for disaffected denizens.
Twenty seven days.
DAY TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY THREE
We stopped by Sy’s parents to offer them a place with the group that will be lead out of the central city by Elam. They declined to go with this contingent. “Besides,” the father joked, “who else will feed you?”
Who else, indeed?
But it’s times like these when you consciously evaluate just who you are going to trust. Plus you must never lose sight of where your ultimate trust must lie.
However, it did give us a glimmer of hope that they may yet say yes to a future exodus before the twenty six days run out.
We also noticed a change in the attitude of some of the people gathered in front of the administration building.
DAY TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY FOUR
Elam brought back a message from Sy for his parents. It was a heartfelt plea. It has decided the father to send his wife with the next group. She would prefer to make the journey some time later before the twenty five days elapse, but she has agreed to go tomorrow.
I wonder if Sy’s father will ever leave.
When we arrived at the administration building, there was not a soul anywhere. But this time the doors were unlocked. So we entered.
It was an expansive area, designed to intimidate.
We approached the only occupant, a man of formidable size. Elijah asked to speak to the city ruler. He blanched on seeing us, and begged us to leave.
DAY TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY FIVE
The group with Elam was smaller today. So when he returned he accompanied us to the city’s nerve center. He wants to hunt up more people who desire to leave.
We went looking in the immediate area of the administration building. We discovered that a cordon of armed forces are blocking access to the government sector. Checkpoints have been set up where government business is conducted, mainly issuing the mark. It also explains the lone government official of yesterday.
Elam went among the throng, to see where he might help. Elijah and I marched back to confront the official again. To get rid of us he agreed to a meeting at one of the checkpoints tomorrow.
Twenty four days remain.
DAY TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY SIX
Twenty three days remain. We got that point across readily enough. For emphasis, Elijah stepped towards the government officials, and they cowered back.
In response the leader told us to leave, as we had delivered our message, and as to our ultimatum, they refused to comply. He turned and pointed to the guards and said, “These guards are not here to protect us, but to hold back the crowd from assaulting you.”
I don’t think Elam would have found any likely candidates today; all in sight bore the mark and were present for the express purpose of supporting the officials.
I have a sense that the speaker is not the true leader, but rather the glowering woman, lurking behind him.
DAY TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY SEVEN
Acting on Elam’s urging, we did not return to the garden square last night. Instead he led us to an empty building on the side of the city nearer the seaport.
It was a relatively quiet night. The only noise drifted in from the government sector where some kind of rally was transpiring.
When we passed through the area this morning the streets were littered with bottles and syringes. Not a person in sight.
Elam gathered up his group from Sy’s father’s house, and we finally persuaded him to leave with them. It will be the last.
Elijah and I checked our spot in the square. Elam guessed right. Someone paid a call last night.
Twenty two days and counting.
DAY TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY EIGHT
Elam has taken on the role as our protector, now that he no longer conducts groups out of the city. He has us ensconced in another empty building on the side of the city towards the seaport. The seaport will be our destination before the culmination of the next twenty one days.
Elijah discussed with me the mysterious woman hovering behind the city leader the other day. He too has the sense there is more to her than meets the eye. This Elam confirms. He spotted her watching us on the street today. He tells us she is the personal representative of the young man we know as Stan. Word is he is out of country, but is returning soon.
DAY TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE
I stayed behind. I had a strong desire to be alone in the Spirit. Elijah, up the night through was still going strong. He went forth with Elam at first light. He is committed to declaring the warning. There are still many sectors where his voice has not been heard. Though Elam is willing to take him everywhere, he is not sanguine as to their chances of success. For these remaining sectors have been the longest (and most willingly) under the mark.
About midday my focus switched from myself onto Elijah and Elam. Their time of need as it turns out. Elam saw the angelic army surrounding their position as their attackers turned on one another. Twenty days to go.
DAY TWO HUNDRED NINETY
We have freedom of movement. At least for a while. But maybe not for the whole nineteen days left to us in the city.
It is my considered opinion that our foes have learned their lesson – again. It took them a long time to screw up their courage after the events at the bridge. So long ago now.
Elijah says they will await Stan’s return before attempting the like again.
We passed through an affluent sector today, little touched by the scourgings of the past. They even have gone so far as to put the mark on their dwellings. Elijah spoke to all we passed. I could see the impress of fear on their faces.
They blinked and scurried away.
DAY TWO HUNDRED NINETY ONE
We decided to visit one of the construction projects today. It was Elam’s idea. He arranged our arrival to coincide with the noon lunch hour.
One can see order and purpose being reimposed out of the haphazard jumble. The small square at its entrance filled with hungry workers at the appointed hour.
They were hungry for more than just a meal. Elijah spoke and no one interfered.
Elam was encouraged and I saw him set off into the crowd. He conversed with any and all comers. Soon he disappeared from sight, and would reappear at intervals with those listening from perches on higher stories.
I was thinking more yet may escape in these last eighteen days.
Then they took Elam.
DAY TWO HUNDRED NINETY TWO
We were completely unaware of what had happened to Elam. The last we had seen him, he was busy recruiting. He had even waved us on, indicating that he would catch up with us later.
He did not return last night nor this morning.
Upon stepping out, Elijah discovered a note left for us. It read that they hold Elam and demanded that we call off the destruction of the city.
We shrugged and went out, thinking, what has been predicted will come to pass at the end of the next seventeen days. But who is there to explain that to? No one signed the message.
We decided to stay the course. And are confident we will see Elam again.
DAY TWO HUNDRED NINETY THREE
We backtracked today, heading away from the seaport, all the way to Sy’s parents’ house. They had left me their keys and the invitation to replenish our supplies as we have need, and as long as they last.
Heavy rains swept the streets clear well before our arrival. We are reasonably certain that no one followed or saw us go in.
It felt good to be in and out of the drench and with the opportunity to rest and dry off.
We spent time together with the Spirit, petitioning for Elam’s well-being, and for his rescue.
And we also heard that we need to be at the seaport within eight days, or half way through this city’s final days.
DAY TWO HUNDRED NINETY FOUR
I left a note for Elam. Just with the thought that if he were able to free himself, he might come back here.
Given where we have to be before the next fifteen days elapse and what Elijah wants to accomplish in the next week, we took a swing through the affluent sector from the opposite end, proclaiming the warning at each step.
In short order we completed our task there and moved on into virgin territory on our slow march to the seaport.
I kept an eye pealed for a place for us to head quarter in while we plan our next steps in the neighboring sectors.
While doing so, I am sure I saw that woman shadowing us.
DAY TWO HUNDRED NINETY FIVE
A three story building whose top floor is half open to the elements caught my eye. It stands in a deserted section of a former industrial area. The perfect place to rest from our daily endeavors.
We have some distance to travel to get to inhabited areas, but that’s a plus too.
We struck out down one long avenue and came back on the parallel boulevard.
It was upon the return that I saw her again. And she saw that I saw her. She came over to me.
I spoke first, saying nothing was going to stop what will happen at the end of the next two weeks.
She offered me a meeting with Elam.
So I went with her.
DAY TWO HUNDRED NINETY SIX
I saw Enoch depart with the woman. Yet I was unconcerned, and remained so even when he did not return in the evening.
I have confidence in him as we both rest in the Spirit.
I have continued to press on and out further into untouched territory.
Some ruffians tried to waylay me. Sadly, they are no more.
The woman took me to the administration building, and then down into the bowels of the structure.
I was put in a room with Elam, and left there. He appeared healthy, if a bit beat up. Together we assessed our situation.
She came back today to threaten us.
As she left, I reminded her thirteen days to go.
ON TO MONTH ELEVEN