DAY ONE THOUSAND SIXTY FOUR
The Captain had been correct that a dramatic event would be the sign. And everything else lined up after that.
The direction Mawuli indicated, coincided with the unstated one held by Elijah.
(I think he was actually taken by surprise).
So, the morning found our group climbing up the mountain, not down as everyone originally thought, but hiking up the path beside the stream bed.
Elam and Sy took pains helping Elijah and me over some of the trickier sections.
Something was still flowing down the rocks of the stream bed. Yet slowly, for it was drying in the sun. And the heavy metallic odor gained in intensity as we reached the top.
Where carnage was spread out before us.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SIXTY FIVE
It was not the carnage of battle that we surveyed on the summit of that mountain, but rather the aftermath of a wanton sacrifice. An altar had been raised over the source of the stream and an untold number of bodies lay strewn about – the bodies of animals contorted in their death agonies. All under the sparkling gaze of an idol of Stan, which presided over the scene.
Mawuli toppled it with a well aimed stone from his sling, and we crushed it under foot.
Elijah had us return to our camp near the stone bridge for the night, and from there this morning we set out towards the east, following Mawuli’s lead.
Elijah held his staff aloft in praise.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SIXTY SIX
Our pace has been slow and deliberate. And as we went along I marveled at our collective reaction to the horrors we had seen atop the mountain. Anything more conducive to panic and fleeing headlong to escape, I find hard to imagine. Instead we were united to follow on, calmly and with hope, looking forward to accomplish that for which we have been summoned.
Mawuli began the morning huddled with Elijah. And ranged out ahead of us, much like Tomas used to do.
He expressed to me his awe at being used as a blessing to us. And I in turn reminded him of what has passed before, and how those times of small things are rewarded with increased responsibility.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SIXTY SEVEN
We stayed put today. For we awoke this morning to discover a sight that riveted our attention for the entire day.
A black mass lay across the landscape. A mass that teemed like the sea in restless movement. It was the army of the world government.
It was splitting. About a quarter of it was remaining at the mouth of the valley at its back. They were digging in and throwing up fortifications.
The much larger section was wheeling – unit by unit- and taking up the march to the east.
The Captain put forth the theory that the army of the East must be threatening Babylon and the world government must be going to its aid.
We are to follow.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SIXTY EIGHT
From our observations of yesterday we formed a good notion of how we can cross the great plain ahead and follow in the wake of the army of the world government. We shall have to continue in the hills a bit longer in order to swing beyond the limits of the patrols sent out from the forces left behind.
Sy seconded the plan, for he knows of several wells along that arc that may provide water.
He accompanied Mawuli in the forward advance while we kept up the best we could.
I walked with Mei and we fell into a conversation about former times. The topic – her former position in the army of the East and where Lung might be.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SIXTY NINE
Our movements we feel were well beyond the army’s patrols. And the lack of drones too, was a comfort. All the more so as we came down from the hills and onto the plain.
Sy directed us to a well by midday, but it proved a disappointment. He said the water was simply too deep to reach.
Thankfully our need is far from pressing. There was a point after Sy had spoken when I looked to Elijah, but he shook his head, so I knew that it was not quite the time.
Elam was a great help. For he had driven his tanker truck through this area many times, and knew the best places to pass over those routes undetected.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SEVENTY
Elijah called for a halt today. On the face of it, there was no compelling reason due to any overt threats, but we obeyed without question.
Perhaps it was because of our current surroundings. Except for the absence of water, we were in a depression that shielded us from the constant wind, descending from the mountains at our back.
Or maybe Elijah just saw our need. One which was so close under our noses that we were blinded to its impact.
So, it was with gratitude that we each were able to take time to draw apart. To intercede for those behind in the hiding place, and then for those whom we yet seek, the focus for our united mission.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SEVENTY ONE
Throughout the night constant flashes split the dark, off ahead of us. No sound. Just light. Come the day, it was like any other. No indication of a clash of arms in any direction. Yet we knew it was out there.
Mawuli went out early and attempted to find somewhere to see over the horizon, but to no avail. It was good to know, however, that nothing was out there to oppose us.
We covered a lot of ground. And thankfully we no longer had the annoyance of that mountain gale blowing at our backs.
Mawuli reported back that we will change our heading come tomorrow to follow one of the great rivers of the region, a river of dust.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SEVENTY TWO
Mawuli accompanied Sy on a side trip to check out a well. They found it easily enough, but so had an army unit. In fact, it looked to be a more or less permanent arrangement.
From what they could tell water was present, just no way to get to it. Tire tracks run to and from the site, and the soldiers looked to be expecting something – probably a tanker truck.
Sy could make out no flag or other designation that would tell us whose they are. Though who they are made little difference to our next decision. For we chose to avoid them and agreed to press further from our current path to another well Sy believes he alone knows.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SEVENTY THREE
We wandered the rest of the day without striking Sy’s well. I could tell his frustration was mounting at his inability to locate it.
Finally Elijah signaled for a halt in an area we all judged fit for a camp.
Sy, however, continued to roam about, muttering he was sure it was near at hand. The next morning the Captain stumbled upon it. Actually he tripped and fell on his face.
The well had been filled in, packed with rocks. We gathered around it on our knees to remove them. Only to discover the water there had been befouled too. Unfit to drink.
Elijah took up his staff and stirred the water with its tip, drawing out all the impurities.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SEVENTY FOUR
Again over night we were treated to a display of lights somewhere ahead in the direction of Babylon. But this time there came the sound of explosions. Muffled and distant.
We all were eager to press on this morning.
Mei took up the advance with Mawuli. And she acted the go between, and brought us word that a huge force was now in view, filling the horizon from east to west.
We hurried to their position.
We stared in amazement as the mass seemed to increase in size before our very eyes.
And Sy was first to understand that this army before us was in retreat.
The Captain called attention to a motorcade that appeared to be fleeing before them.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SEVENTY FIVE
Mawuli wanted to know if the army’s retreat meant that we were to go back also.
Everyone else shared their impression that our mission had not concluded. Decidedly we will press on.
Today we saw that the retreating army was that of the world government. And Elijah spoke the word, “Babylon has fallen.”
That’s when Elam shared his revelation – the motorcade we had spotted yesterday must have been carrying Stan.
We also decided to stay put for the day. With so much going on before us it seemed the much safer course.
Mawuli and Sy did go out, however. They felt their way further to the east to look for gaps, then planned a swing back to the restored well.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SEVENTY SIX
Sy and Mawuli did not return until this morning. Though we expected that they might be very late getting back, we did not think they would be gone the whole night.
So we were relieved and thankful for answered prayers when they rejoined us after a successful reconnaissance.
They mapped out a way ahead for us, but at present we will have to wait for the passage of the army of the world government.
By the fading of daylight we could just make out the rear of the government forces. And we judged that by night’s end they will be past our position. Then we will be free to move.
The Captain and I passed the time talking about Tomas.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SEVENTY SEVEN
Come morning we had second thoughts about our decision to stay put. The rear guard of the world government forces were in our view, but they had halted to stave off multiple attacks by small units of the army of the East.
The danger, we realized, was that these small units in their efforts to flank the retreating army may come across our position.
Elijah ordered us to return to the area of the restored well. From there we could retrace Sy and Mawuli’s route to our next jumping off point.
We passed the other well on the way and found it no longer protected. We ignored it and continued on.
And that is how we encountered Mei’s comrade, Lung.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SEVENTY EIGHT
Mei recognized him first, and resisted her impulse to rush to greet him. For we all knew the need for caution. But when she saw that it was her old unit with their tanker truck she called out to him.
We were welcomed into their camp and made comfortable.
Lung asked to meet with Elijah and myself.
He spent the night detailing all that has happened to him since he parted from us on the mountain on that long ago day.
When he shared about his transformation we called Mei in to hear the news too.
And as his crew continued pumping water at daylight, we heard the rumors that Stan had been fatally wounded in the battle before Babylon.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SEVENTY NINE
Mei hobnobbed with the rest of the unit as they buttoned up their operation and prepared to return to the army of the East. We discussed our returning with them, but Lung advised against that course of action. He was certain Mei would be tried for desertion and executed.
That meant we had to find another way to get to the Supreme Commander and another of our mission’s goals. At the least we had a better idea as to where to look.
Elam gleaned more details about Stan’s wound from the tanker truck driver. It was a severe head wound by all accounts. No one thinks he can survive.
When told, Elijah merely nodded and added, “But he will recover.”
DAY ONE THOUSAND EIGHTY
We took a day of rest yesterday as Lung set out with his unit and the tanker truck. It was a strategic decision.
Despite our entreaties Lung turned down our offer of refuge for him and his men back in the hiding place. And we understood when he explained with passion his need to obey. Not just within the hierarchy of the army of the East, but also that of the higher calling that keeps him there. Come what may.
We are confident he will be with us again.
Sy and Mawuli led us out into the wide expanse. Thankfully it was devoid of any army presence.
The Captain is certain the army of the East is coalescing around Babylon.
DAY ONE THOUSAND EIGHTY ONE
All we saw along the way were signs of the passage of the massive army. We were in its wake and evidently far from its point of contact with the world government’s forces.
I, for one, was glad of it. For I know that the day will come when I shall be face to face with the ultimate carnage. Sooner than it has ever been.
Sy and Elam alternated turns in the advance with Mawuli. The lad is indefatigable.
Mei is greatly buoyed in spirit by our brief sojourn with Lung and her old unit. She was talking with the Captain and asked what he hoped for from our mission.
As one could guess this raised the topic of Tomas.
DAY ONE THOUSAND EIGHTY TWO
Off to our right today we saw elements of the army of the East. They were hard at work digging in and setting defenses for the main army which must be within Babylon, now visible to our front.
Sy brought back word from Mawuli that forces were on their way for a similar purpose in this area, and advised we skirt this development by swinging even further east.
We lost no time in complying, finding ourselves nearing the river Elijah and I had followed to the megapolis many months ago.
Thus we found it necessary to regroup and move as a single unit around the increasing number of patrols.
I suggested that we make our way down to the river.
DAY ONE THOUSAND EIGHTY THREE
Off and on we caught views of the megapolis from the lower elevation of the riverbed upon which we have been traveling. Not much has changed from the memory I carry of Babylon when we skirted around it on our escape out of the citadel. The skyscraper that came down on that occasion has not been replaced. A great void in the skyline marks its absence.
Our forward progress ground to a halt where the water filled the riverbed from bank to bank, forcing us up and out into the open.
It was more water than we have seen in an age.
And its level appeared to be rising as we watched.
Elijah decided we must make for the road.
DAY ONE THOUSAND EIGHTY FOUR
The way I saw it, we had two choices. We either had to swing farther east and retrace the route of our original escape, or go straight in and allow ourselves to be taken, we would hope, to the Supreme Commander.
Our concern for Mei naturally predisposed us to the first option. But Mei herself thought the latter to be the best overall option. And since her part in the mission had been fulfilled in the matter of Lung she was willing to separate from us and allow us to go in and make contact.
We turned to Elijah for any revelation he could share.
But what he had to say was rendered moot when an army unit surrounded us.
DAY ONE THOUSAND EIGHTY FIVE
We haven’t budged from where we were captured yesterday. Our captors haven’t been too harsh beyond the first encounter. The bruises on Sy’s and the Captain’s heads notwithstanding. Despite our protestations that we are not spies, nor hold any animus against them, we are kept corralled together and forced to be quiet under the constant vigil of three guards.
The leader of the unit has no time for us and is intent on setting his defenses. So we have no one with which to plead our case to be taken to the Supreme Commander.
At least they are not curious about Mei’s presence with us. And they have not confiscated Elijah’s staff. Evidently they assume he needs it to walk.
DAY ONE THOUSAND EIGHTY SIX
The unit commander condescended to speak to us today. He was in a good mood, being pleased with the efficiency of his men in executing his orders.
His mood changed, however. when Elijah brought up our request to be taken to the Supreme Commander.
He was incredulous about our claims to have met him. Mei at the last prevailed upon him to send a message from us along with his other reports.
The monotony that settled upon our group afterwards was dispelled as we turned our focus to the things of the Spirit.
The quiet of the camp was disturbed later in the evening when an uproar erupted at the news that the adversary Stan was recovered from his wound.
DAY ONE THOUSAND EIGHTY SEVEN
We petitioned the commander to replace one of the men guarding us. He was overbearing in his treatment of our injured members. And was threatening them with instant punishment for their slow reactions to his commands.
Why he singled them out when he shied away from the rest of us baffles me. Perhaps it is only an indication of his meanness of character.
The commander heard our plea and replaced the offending guard, but substituted an even more brutish one.
Thankfully about that time a truck from the Supreme Commander’s headquarters pulled into camp and we were spared further bother. (And the guard a possible drubbing from Elijah).
We climbed into the back of the truck and were driven off.
DAY ONE THOUSAND EIGHTY EIGHT
Our transition was only to a more lofty prison. Upon arrival our guards hustled one and all up to the floor beneath the penthouse. Promises were made of an audience above, immediately upon the return of the Supreme Commander.
The demeanor of our captors has improved towards us. They are cowed by these surroundings and no doubt in awe that their very presence here is in large part due to us.
We were allowed to converse and even given freedom to move about. The view was negligible though, given the darkness of the hour, but come morning it was unobstructed in every direction.
Far away in the dock area I saw what could only be the Captain’s beloved ‘rust bucket.’
DAY ONE THOUSAND EIGHTY NINE
We continued to languish, albeit in comfortable surroundings, awaiting the return of the Supreme Commander. No explanation was given. Indeed many people came and went, but any conversation was strictly official and never about us in particular.
Among ourselves we speculated about the Captain’s ship. How he so desires to go down and visit her. And to inquire if any of the old crew were still shipping in her.
He entertains the possibility that his individual mission is somehow bound up in her presence here.
Late in the day we witnessed a clash along the outer defenses. The attack was easily driven back.
Then we intimated the obvious reason behind the continued absence of the Supreme Commander.
Elijah remains serene.
DAY ONE THOUSAND NINETY
Finally word came down that our long-awaited audience would come to pass today. So we were notified and given leave to prepare ourselves. That is, we were each expected to see to our ablutions. And more than just our dusty feet.
The guards who were to accompany us were not exempted. (If anything they needed it the more, or so was the considered judgement of our own Mei).
I volunteered first, then held Elijah’s staff as he saw to himself.
Not long after we had finished we were ushered up to the penthouse and seated in a reception area. And again waited.
Soon the double doors swung open and in walked the Supreme Commander and at his elbow, our Tomas.
DAY ONE THOUSAND NINETY ONE
The meeting had been brief, a mere formality with the Supreme Commander. He acknowledged his debt to us and was glad to return the favor, and left us with Tomas. The press of necessity pulled him away.
Tomas dismissed the guard and moved us into more comfortable quarters.
We had a lot to share, making it another late night. The full scope of which did not completely come into focus until today.
Tomas too has performed important service for the Supreme Commander. The result of his obedience to the call of the Spirit.
He has hope for the man’s future. But as always the choice remains with him.
Then the Captain took his turn, no doubt discussing their old ship.
DAY ONE THOUSAND NINETY TWO
The Captain got his wish today. Tomas escorted him down to the dock area to visit their former vessel. I wanted to go along but Elijah decided our presence was more necessary here.
I’m looking forward to their return and to what news they will share.
Mei, Mawuli and Sy and Elam went out into the city at Elam’s request to look around. The guards accompanied them as an escort for their protection, not in the least restrictive.
Elijah found a room in the apartment for a set apart place and asked me to join him in a time for intercession. Consequently we missed the return of both parties, and hence did not learn about their news until much later.
ONTO MONTH THIRTY EIGHT