DAY ONE THOUSAND THIRTY FOUR
Elijah and I isolated ourselves today as best we could to seek guidance from the Spirit as to our next move.
His pupils, on his order have gone without the city to a place where they can do the same.
Elam had shared that the frequency of his trips has dropped in half. And he has heard rumors that what is coming in is being redirected to the fields around Babylon. Fields elsewhere are drying up at an alarming rate.
Elijah’s pupils down from the north echoed these facts, and talked of a schedule for towns to be cut off of supply.
And Tomas reported through them that all army units at the outposts were being removed and ordered elsewhere.
DAY ONE THOUSAND THIRTY FIVE
We sensed that we are not yet released to leave Damascus. Elijah’s pupils, however, returned only to inform him that they are splitting up, some called to aid Tomas and the others in Jerusalem, and the other half of the team to look for Jezer, who is missing.
That latter bit of news upset me. And the fact that no one had any answers to my questions regarding him, only made it worse.
In addition I was left thinking why we had been sent here in the first place, while all along, as it now appears, the objects of our mission, were indeed, in the direction I had originally wanted to go.
Oh, to get from underneath my own understanding.
DAY ONE THOUSAND THIRTY SIX
We went out with the morning work force. Elijah wanted to look about those debris fields again.
Some other groups coming up from the valley, left the road and mingled with those from the slave quarter. Filthy rags hung on their emaciated frames. They attempted to shoulder their way among the workers from the city. It was obvious they desired to gain access to the slave quarter but in their weakened state they were easily forced away.
They looked pitiful, yet cunning, as they slunk back down the road.
Who knows what they would be capable of given the strength and the chance to wield it.
And for that matter, those opposing them were little better.
Things are spiraling downward.
DAY ONE THOUSAND THIRTY SEVEN
Elijah saw what he wanted to see when we were out in the debris fields yesterday. It was not the state of the scraps or lack of them that concerned my friend, rather it was the state of the people toiling, or wanting to toil on behalf of those rebuilding in the other quarters of Damascus.
He believes it would be very unwise to take any of them back to the hiding place with us.
With the exception of the lone host with whom we have been staying in the quarter I concurred.
Now with that question decided, is there anything else to hold us here?
And the thought comes to me- only if Jezer is somewhere near at hand.
DAY ONE THOUSAND THIRTY EIGHT
Meesa came in with our host when he returned from the daily foraging. We had been indecisive as to what we should be doing, so we were actively waiting. We each individually had come to the conclusion that something was immanent.
Though Elijah was prepared for the news she brought, I was not.
The sight of her reminded me that there was something I should have done. Once we had made contact with Elam I should have sent word to Quasimo that his mission to the Galilee was no longer necessary.
And here Meesa was reporting that Quasimo was now underway.
Elijah took it in stride. He was more interested that army units were thronging the roads to the east.
DAY ONE THOUSAND THIRTY NINE
With Meesa directing our movements we looked into all the nooks and crannies in Damascus in which Jezer could be seeking refuge.
I was a bit mechanical, I admit, and somewhat distracted. I had had an unsettling dream over night. And my thoughts ran on two separate tracks. One, upon what we were doing. And the other on the details of my dream.
In my dream, I was dreaming. It was night, and the dark enfolded me. And into the dream came the sound of dripping. A sound that crescendoed into a raging torrent. With the coming of the light, I could see it was a rising tide of blood.
But I could not see from whence the blood came.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FORTY
We have covered all of Damascus and not come across any information on Jezer. And Meesa knew all of his contacts – only one could relate having seen him recently. And that occasion to the best of his recall was two months ago.
Also, employing various pretexts, she was able to check the police precincts and jails. None of which, thankfully, held him.
Speaking for myself, I now feel released from our call to this place. I only await my friend Elijah to concur, and I believe that should be forthcoming soon.
The three of us discussed at length today the importance of bringing Sy and Jordan and their peoples – and let us not forget Quasimo- safely into the hiding place.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FORTY ONE
Meesa accompanied us to the tanker truck staging yard. While we waited to see if Elam might come in today, we made our goodbyes. She will return to the hiding place and give an account of our status, and at our request she will ask Reuben to travel up to Jerusalem to look for Tomas.
Perhaps he can give us a clue as to the whereabouts of Jezer.
We commended each other to the tender care of Hamashiach and parted.
The activity in the yard was noticeably less of a turmoil than our last visits. Elijah moved us to a shady spot as the heat of the day increased.
Come mid-afternoon and no Elam, we set out on the road.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FORTY TWO
Few pedestrians were walking the roads. Almost none were headed away from the city like we were. Any we saw were fleeing the countryside. They cast suspicious glances our way in passing.
Our only occasional companions outward bound were the army convoys. Thankfully they ignored us.
We paid particular attention to the tanker trucks lumbering by. Those inward bound. None were driven by our old comrade Elam.
I found another shady spot for us to pass the most grueling part of the day.
A couple of city bound groups stumbled upon us in turn. They collected themselves, all the while averting their gazes, and walked on without a word.
None of them seemed to like the look of Elijah’s staff.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FORTY THREE
We ran into someone today who actually deigned to talk to us. He took one look at us and the direction in which we were traveling and crossed the road and stopped us.
He came off as someone concerned for our well being, but his gaze kept lingering on Elijah, as he warned us about an army checkpoint ahead. He said that they were allowing people coming in, but, except for the military, all egress was forbidden.
And then he came to his point. He knew a way around the checkpoint if we could see our way to make it worthwhile for him.
Elijah thanked him for his offer, but declined it, saying he was quite familiar with the area.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FORTY FOUR
Though we took to the trails upon the hillsides, we kept to those which held a view of the road, for we wanted to confirm the warnings of our erstwhile ‘defender.’
We did not discover what he was talking about until this morning.
There was a rather large encampment straddling the road. And as we sat watching we indeed saw army convoys being let through and civilians being turned back. Which made us wonder if the tanker trucks were operating any longer beyond this point.
Elijah and I then decided to turn our faces to the hills, as we had little reason to keep the road in view.
Before we did, I noticed a patrol set out in our direction.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FORTY FIVE
It has become evident that the army patrol from the checkpoint is not on a routine sweep. Otherwise they would have turned back with the onset of night.
I can only think that since we sometimes have them in view, they must likewise see us, despite our conscious efforts to shield our movements.
Thankfully they show no signs of gaining on us. Elijah quickened his pace during those times when we were blocked from view. With the result that the time between sightings lengthened.
And in one of these blind troughs we headed away from our destination, and we hoped from our pursuers too.
That’s when we ran into the man who had accosted us down on the main road.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FORTY SIX
Neither Elijah nor myself believed that our uninvited guest meant us well. He was genuinely surprised to see us when he chanced upon us, but I have no doubt he was trying to head off and ambush us. He has been all smiles and solicitous since then. Meek as a lamb.
But when he thought I was not looking, I saw the wolf lurking.
He has been evasive about where he is going, and simply states that he would like the company as long as we are heading the “same” direction.
When the patrol appeared in the distance, I caught him holding a small hand mirror.
I took it.
Elijah said, “Since you are blind to the good. Be blind!”
DAY ONE THOUSAND FORTY SEVEN
We have left the patrol and our false friend far behind. The latter whimpering about being abandoned and blind on the mountain path. I was sure that his friends would soon rescue him.
We came about to our original heading and pressed on. And we saw no one in pursuit the rest of the day.
Elijah and I conversed as we went along.
More and more there were signs of the drought deepening. This underlined the importance of convincing Sy and Jordan to bring their people into the safety and security, and yes, to an abundant supply of water offered in the hiding place.
I then finally told him about my dream. The dream of the rising tide of blood.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FORTY EIGHT
We passed into the territory that lead to the village at the edge of the wilderness that surrounds our destination. Only at the sight of that town did I realize that we had not encountered the patrolling drones that plagued us on that former occasion.
I remarked on their absence to Elijah. Even as I did so we both knew the answer. They were needed elsewhere for a bigger military operation.
So too with the village. It was deserted. And there, signs were evident of abandoned encampments at both ends of the town. Neither of which had been there the last time we were in the vicinity.
We stopped to rest in the town square, then took up our march.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FORTY NINE
The silence in the wilderness was highly unusual. Not even a breeze disturbed the air around us. And one had the sense that if there were any noise out there, at however great a distance, we would have plenty of time to prepare before we made visual contact.
Thus we heard the footsteps. But we weren’t prepared for what came.
By the sound we knew it could only be a single individual, making his way across the bedrock of the ground to our front.
We halted and waited, confident we would be hidden from view until whatever it was, was past us.
So, we did not see that it was Raj P until then. I bounded out to greet him.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FIFTY
Our surprise was mutual. Raj P recovered first, brimming over with thanksgiving for answered prayer before he even said a word to us.
He had accompanied Quasimo into the Galilee, and had been dispatched by him to go in search of us and bring us back to help persuade Sy to leave.
I asked if Elam had made it back and was overjoyed to learn that he was safe and sound in their midst.
We made it as far as the road before making camp.
We inquired about everyone else and buoyed by his good report turned in.
Today was an even longer day. It takes so much longer when you’re not riding in the cab of a tanker truck.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FIFTY ONE
We were in sight of Sy’s redoubt (for such it has now become) when we encountered Elam in his tanker truck. He stopped, picked us up and turned around.
It was as we guessed. He now operates out of a staging yard from the army’s rear lines to its front, and rarely goes to Damascus. He put off his return until tomorrow in order to hear all the news.
Sy was hospitable though reserved, for he knows the reason behind our visit. Jordan, by contrast, was ready to return with us that very moment.
Elijah called for a meeting after the evening meal.
We met, and cleared the air about many things. In particular I was keen to hear Jordan.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FIFTY TWO
Jordan had taken a long time to get his people into Galilee. Months had passed hiding out from the army of the East, looking and praying for an opportunity and a way through the lines of that vast army. Finally they skirted around its northern flank, just before that direction was closed by another army coming from the North.
His tale, also told to Sy, is why the latter is reluctant to leave. He feels his destiny lies here.
So this morning we have agreed. Raj P will take Jordan and his people on to the hiding place. And Quasimo shall take Sy’s people there.
Sy shall remain with us, for his vision matches exactly the dream given to me.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FIFTY THREE
Both Elijah and I felt immense relief to see the two groups set out for the hiding place. Our goodbyes were short and sweet. And all look forward to the day when we shall be together in the same place. Praise to Hamashiach.
I was thankful that opposing forces have been drained away from the areas they will traverse. Again praise to Hamashiach.
And so the three of us were left on our own, yet not alone.
Elijah called us to a day of fasting and prayer. Sy led us into a place that he had set apart within his redoubt for that very purpose.
I knew that Elijah would prefer to be on the heights above.
Perhaps sometime later.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FIFTY FOUR
Elijah took us up to the heights above the redoubt where Sy used to station his sentinels. The magnificent view from which was made all the more so by the beautiful day dawning upon us.
In the far distance I could make out what I took to be tanker trucks plying back and forth on a plain.
I took the time to note the lay of the land from here to there and asked Sy about the best routes.
During this endeavor two figures appeared down on the road that we came in on.
Sy remained in place while Elijah and I went down.
Recognizing them at the last we hurried down the road to greet the Captain and Mei.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FIFTY FIVE
I keep looking around to see if someone is coming out to join us. Someone else trekking up the road, called to be with us for the perilous time ahead. For both the Captain and Mei left the hiding place compelled by a dream on the Captain’s part and by a vision on hers.
But, currently we are only on the first step. None of us know what we should do next. Other than wait.
Elijah and Sy have taken the Captain and Mei with them into the set apart place. I have taken it upon myself to stand guard here atop the redoubt.
Though by myself, I am not alone. Alert to my surroundings, and alert to the Spirit.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FIFTY SIX
Another long day passed slowly. To all outward appearances – boring and pointless – but to our inward beings – rich and satisfying – and all the more so as we shared with one another around the evening meal.
We are agreed as to the direction of our next move, down to the route we will take – supplied by Sy.
What remains is the all important timing. We all agree. We will not set out, or should not set out until there is one more addition to our party.
But as to who that may be, we are not in agreement.
The Captain thinks it will be Tomas; Mei opts for Meesa; Sy and I are certain it will be Elam. Elijah remains silent.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FIFTY SEVEN
Elijah and I went for a walk. First up to the heights to look around. Elijah scanned the view, paying attention to the road that runs to the East.
We then came down and struck out in the direction upon which we had mutually agreed. As we climbed away from the redoubt, I noticed Elijah was making heavy use of his staff. We stopped frequently so he could catch his breath.
Cresting the ridge and descending the other side, he picked up the pace. We halted on a stone bridge that spanned a dry stream bed.
One look at a path that ran beside the stream bed and we knew we had found the way to the plain far below.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FIFTY EIGHT
Another day of waiting has passed slowly. Everyone has taken it in stride, considering it a trial of patience.
Sy, though, grew unsettled by day’s end. By his calculation Elam should have arrived back here today at the latest. He’s beginning to think that he’ll never see his friend and his tanker truck again.
When I tried to point out to him other possibilities, he left and went up to the heights. Elijah followed him.
They remained up there for quite some time. Long enough to witness a flurry of activity in the air above the plain.
The Captain, Mei and myself caught the end of the display when the crash of distant explosions drew us out of the redoubt.
DAY ONE THOUSAND FIFTY NINE
Sy’s distress was relieved this afternoon by the appearance of Elam down on the road. On foot, no tanker truck.
After our greetings he related to us his harrowing experiences of the last few days. No sooner had he driven into the staging area, when he was forcefully removed and placed in confinement, charged with profiteering.
While there he learned about the clashes far to the east. The forces nearby were forming up the last ditch defense.
Things became so confusing that Elam was able to escape (he credits Hamashiach).
While passing through the furious activity he saw Stan and his motorcade headed east.
From the road last night he witnessed the air assault from the east and its destruction.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SIXTY
Elijah gathered us together after breakfast. The general expectation prevailed that he would announce our departure immediately. All the more so since Elam’s revelation that he too had been given a vision of a rising tide of blood.
But Elijah caught us off balance. Though he concurs that our group is now complete, he does not agree that it is time to leave.
He has called for another fast and that it is to commence tomorrow when we set out on to the road eastward. We shall halt on the stone bridge and there hold a vigil and await a sign.
We then passed the day in preparation both physically and spiritually.
And Mei cheerfully lent a hand to all.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SIXTY ONE
We left the redoubt, but did not leave the area. Here, at day’s end, we still await a sign. So, we set up a camp with the intent to stay until we do.
We can see activity down on the plain, but Elam tells us that it is only minimal. And he is sure it can mean that more are operating beyond the rear guard well beyond our field of view.
Sy concurred and added that he expected to see more troops being moved up from Damascus soon.
Mei asked if that might be the sign we are awaiting.
The Captain weighed in and said he was sure that it would be something else, something dramatic and unmistakable at once.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SIXTY TWO
I had a dream over night. Everything about it was unexpected, but not unsettling. In fact, I found it a comfort and an encouragement.
In it Grazie came to speak to me, though uttering not a word at first. Her countenance beamed with serenity. Which enfolded me like a hug and communicated more than her voice would have.
And, in effect, shut down a nightmarish vision that lurked at the periphery of my consciousness.
Only after she had my complete attention did she speak.
She simply said, “A child shall lead you.” And smiled.
And was gone.
I shared the dream with Elijah. And at the moment I finished Mawuli walked into our camp. And asked when we were leaving.
DAY ONE THOUSAND SIXTY THREE
Mawuli’s appearance set us back another day as we struggled with conflicting views of its meaning. Half of our party were sure that no further members were necessary for our mission. In fact, they argued it may very well be detrimental.
I was confident in the message imparted to me in my dream. But no one else had a confirmation. Even Elijah – who merely proclaimed that the time for our departure was decidedly – “not yet.”
After our initial confusion at Elijah’s direction we took up again our active waiting stance.
We did not wait long.
The dry stream bed below the bridge babbled to life. But instead of water, a blood red liquid coursed down its cascades from somewhere above.
ON TO MONTH THIRTY SEVEN