DAY SEVEN HUNDRED TEN
With the way open behind us, we were again called upon to press forward into the pass. The Captain and I had ended our fasts, but Elijah was continuing with his.
Other units pulled into the area and filled it up as we vacated it.
All was calm and peaceful and nothing but the silence of the mountains greeted our ears along the way.
The soldiers marching with us were noticeably ill at ease. And their leader called an end to our advance much earlier than I would have thought.
We later learned that this had been at the instigation of the Supreme Commander whose vehicle had caught up with the advance unit, also bearing Tomas, our very excited friend.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED ELEVEN
Tomas has come down to earth from his emotional high of yesterday. We were up late listening to all that has happened to him since we’ve been apart.
But it all boils down to the revelation for which he has been prepared by those very events, the most recent of which we were all too familiar with.
On the strength of these occurrences Tomas has convinced the Supreme Commander to release us to follow where the Spirit wills.
And so it came to pass that we were again on our own, free to do our oversight of the army, or not.
And that very point was the focus of the discussion between Elijah and Tomas as we renewed our trek.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED TWELVE
The consensus among us was unanimous. The time is past for our oversight of the army’s safety. Elijah shared his confidence that it is on track for its rendezvous with history.
We have our own appointments to keep. And all we know is that we are to go northward.
But we had no other choice than to keep traveling west in the pass. With eyes and hearts open to wherever the Spirit would pull us.
We passed by three offshoots headed northward. The Captain liked each of them, but one or the other of us was not in agreement. So we continued on.
So strange to say, the one we all agreed upon was directed southward.
We obediently took it.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTEEN
Our track southward took us well away from a view of the pass, so we surmised as we set out again this morning that the bulk of the army must have passed by the point at which we left it.
It is hard letting go of past responsibilities and moving on to the next. Especially when that next one is not clear. But as Elijah is fond of expressing we are alive to the ultimate end, and even though such knowledge is valuable for weighing various opportunities as they present themselves, the Word of the Spirit is the final arbiter.
Struck by this the Captain read to me from the history of a man called Paul, a friend of Yeshua.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED FOURTEEN
Tomas has taken up his wanderlust again, traveling in advance of us, sampling the paths that branch off of this main one. None have been judged better than the one we are on.
Elijah has ended his fast so he kept up with our brisk pace.
Tomas did beg us to join him up on a vantage point, a short distance off the beaten track.
It offered a full view of an hundred eighty degree arc of the mountain ranges west of us. They look for all the world like waves frozen in place on its march to the sands of the desert off in the distance.
But more importantly we could see that our path veers towards the west.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED FIFTEEN
Our path turned and we chased the sun in its movement westward. We had intermittent views of the desert in the distance on the up cycles of our up and down progress.
But on one of those occasions something else was revealed – a village or hamlet sat astride our path a few ranges ahead. Wisps of smoke curled above it.
Tomas was all for running ahead to investigate. But we held him back for we judged it to be a couple days’ journey away.
As for the Captain he wanted to go around it altogether and not call attention to ourselves.
Elijah and I advised staying the course.
A hauntingly familiar melody played in my thoughts before sleep claimed me.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED SIXTEEN
The melody renewed its hold on me upon waking. Not from within. Instead Tomas was whistling the tune while preparing something for us to eat.
I made no comment, but felt it held a good portent for the day ahead.
We arrived near the village in the afternoon. Actually it wasn’t a village. It was more like a large compound. There were multiple buildings but all contained by a low wall around its perimeter.
The Captain hung back, grumbling and making his disapproval known. But he was the first to recognize one of the inhabitants as he walked across the courtyard of the compound.
And the Raj twin G also was surprised to see us when moments later we entered.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED SEVENTEEN
The five of us talked through the night. Our joy grew as the Spirit’s loving superintendence of our lives was revealed in the recounting of our journeys to this point in time.
G has brought his charges safely through beehives of global authority soldiers all intent on their capture. In fact, their presence in this remote place is the most recent example of their hairbreadth escapes.
G was greatly encouraged by our accounts – the only exception being the mystery surrounding the fate of his twin brother P, who, last we knew, was in the hands of the authorities at the gateway to the east.
Each of us, however holds out hope, knowing that what has sustained us also sustains him.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED EIGHTEEN
All aspects of our situation are providential in the extreme. A day later and we would have missed G and his charges altogether.
One of the men with him had been one of those raised up from a sickbed by Elijah in that hospital in the seaport so long ago. He is from this area and had lead them to the safety of the compound. And he lead the way towards our next destination somewhere off to the north.
Without his help and his knowledge of the surrounding territory we would have completely missed the unmarked path that branches off the main trail where we now stand after our trek down from the mountains.
We made our goodbyes and parted.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED NINETEEN
I could not stop thinking about G and his people and the road ahead of them. And wondering if we forgot to relate to them anything that might make their pilgrimage less perilous.
Tomas, thankfully, had given him valuable information for dealing with the Supreme Commander should they run afoul of his massive army. And Elijah wonderfully encouraged him.
This train of thought halted when the Captain spotted movement ahead of us, and for all appearances coming directly for us.
After the briefest of discussions, we continued on our course.
At one point they halted for no other reason I can think of, except they saw us.
It was a caravan of merchants. We passed one another in absolute silence.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY
Tomas made a couple of jaunts to our rear to head off any surprises from that quarter. Satisfied he changed his focus to the direction ahead.
In between two such forays Elijah collared him, whispered some instructions and sent him on his way.
I guessed that the thrust of their exchange had to do with the smudge that was then open to our view off to the right of our track.
I know I was curious about it.
It was quite some time before Tomas returned from his exploratory errand.
And I was correct Elijah had indeed dispatched him to discover what lay behind that ‘smudge.’
Tomas was excited. He wanted the Captain to return with him for a look.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY ONE
The Captain went out hopeful but returned disappointed. Tomas had found a downed satellite, from which the Captain wanted to recovery some batteries, but it was too smashed up. Overall, it was little more than the ‘smudge’ it appeared to be from the distance.
Still, Tomas brought back some broken components and he was rewarded this morning when he finally cracked open the casings revealing many parts fashioned from gold.
We allowed him the time to extract the precious metals, but denied his request to return to the site for more.
We pressed on towards another mountain range bordering the northern edge of this desert.
And crossed a wide swath that must have been the track of the massive army.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY TWO
Two caravans passed by us today, and unlike the first, these in their turn tried to interest us in their wares. The Captain was drawn to the fruit they were hawking, but balked at the price. After haggling he passed.
Elijah congratulated him afterwards. And pointed to a hazy speck on the horizon. He said we would find a city at the edge of the desert. No doubt fruit would be cheaper at its source.
We kept on in order – Tomas far to the front, the Captain walking and conversing with Elijah, and I brought up the rear, thinking about many things.
Did that satellite crash accidentally or was it shot down?
Neither Tomas nor the Captain offered an opinion.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY THREE
The speck on the horizon has taken on a more recognizable form. Buildings spread out in a line, conforming, I surmise, to the presence of a river or some other feature out of our sight.
The Captain bubbles over with excitement at the prospect of fresh fruit. For he believes he sees groves of trees grouped around the approaches to the city.
Tomas stayed awake late last night smelting the gold from the satellite components. This morning he showed us the results of his labors – four small, shiny rectangles of the precious substance. One for each of us if we wanted to divide them up.
We will make a short day of it. We prefer to enter tomorrow in daylight.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR
We exercised the usual caution today. At first light Tomas went into the city to scout, while we stayed on the outskirts.
The Captain was focused on the fruit trees that were indeed on the approaches to the city. Very little fruit was left to glean. What there was, was green or in one instance mealy.
Tomas brought an end to our foraging upon his return. With a long explanation he hustled us into the city.
The city was in the throes of preparing to stave off an invasion. He convinced us that we needed to be settled as soon as possible.
Thankfully we found an inn. Though Stan’s image was everywhere no one asked if we bore the mark.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE
There is a body of water at the back of the city, a lake that has shrunken due to the drought. The river that feeds it is running low, and at the other end stands a dam that impedes outflow.
This source of water is most precious to the inhabitants and it is what they intend to protect and preserve at all costs. So we conclude after observing the comings and goings of the local militia all day, and in particular their concentration in the vicinity of the dam.
Over on that side of the city Tomas was a witness to their opposition to some tanker trucks he recognized.
Though they retreated we are sure they will return in force.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY SIX
Members of the city’s militia came to the inn this morning looking for Tomas. And finding him with us, they demanded that we all come with them for questioning.
So it was after a long wait, we finally appeared before a tribal magistrate. He had no questions for us, only for the militia soldiers. Tomas had been observed by those stationed at the dam. Their conclusion was obvious – Tomas was a spy, and by association so were we.
We protested, but our words fell on deaf ears. We were hustled away to the dam, of all places, and locked up in a chamber deep therein.
I guess with all the soldiers about they believe it to be the most secure.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY SEVEN
We only assume that a day has passed us by, now that they are leaving us alone. We have each in turn been taken away from the others for interrogation which was in a place somewhere also away from the light of day.
I was first. I assumed that their search of our room had turned up nothing. They wanted to know who we were working for and how we were communicating with them. I told them I had no answers for them other than that we worked for and communicated only with the Spirit.
Their time with Tomas and the Captain was even shorter. But with Elijah they spent the better part of the day.
We sense their frustration.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY EIGHT
Evidently they weren’t finished with Elijah. Hours after his return they collected him from our chamber and whisked him away again.
We were left on our own for hours on end. We talked freely amongst ourselves, not caring if anyone was eavesdropping.
Finally we concluded that we needed to settle ourselves down and embrace this time in the presence of the Spirit.
My thoughts were directed to intercession for our friend. I had just concluded that endeavor and was about to move on to intercession for the rest of us, when the door flew open and two guards charged in.
They demanded to know what we were doing and frisked us for communication devices.
They left when Elijah was returned.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY NINE
We were appalled. Elijah was bruised and bloodied about the face, but he brushed our concern aside and assured us that all would be well.
And he added for my benefit that his interrogators ceased their thuggish actions so abruptly that he knew I must be interceding for him.
(There is nothing like an encouraging report to buoy your spirits and for strengthening your resolve to go on). The Captain was so encouraged that he stayed awake softly singing songs of praise.
They came for me next.
They had no new questions and I had no new answers.
The main interrogator was raising his hand to strike me when he recoiled in fear.
I was ordered back to our chamber.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTY
Hour upon hour passed by. And not a peep from our captors. Nor did anyone look in on us. Not even to deliver a morsel of bread that has been our daily allotment.
We can only speculate that they have their hands full elsewhere. My thoughts went immediately to the return of the tanker trucks with combat units.
Tomas tried the door at one point. It was still locked. But no one outside reacted to the ruckus it raised.
This inspired the Captain to again rummage through the chamber for anything that could jimmy the door. As in every time before there was nothing that wasn’t bolted down. His efforts only raised his frustration.
Elijah remained calm and waited patiently.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTY ONE
We were feeling abandoned. And losing track of the time since we last saw our captors.
Then something happened that interrupted the passage of time. The sameness we had been locked into. The ground beneath our feet shuddered and heaved.
Was it an earthquake? Or something manmade and more sinister?
When the chamber quit shaking, the door fell open. It had sprung free from its frame.
We lost no time in exiting. Nothing and no one impeded our scramble up and out from the bottom of the dam.
All the sentry points in the area were deserted and a pungent odor pervaded everywhere.
We made one attempt to reach the city, but turned back at the sight of bodies everywhere.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTY TWO
We kept on the move all night, and only stopped (or dropped) when exhaustion overtook us.
Our discussions along the way had not yet resolved the two different options that divide our company. Tomas and the Captain were for seeking out the help of the Supreme Commander. Elijah and I thought we should not go back the way we came, but rather continue north.
The decision was taken away from us at the appearance on the road of a tanker truck. Its support troops had us surrounded before we had a chance to react.
Though clearly harmless they kept us with them to their destination, the dam at the end of the lake.
Thus we landed back where we began.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTY THREE
At the least we were not taken down to the chamber to be locked up again. The unit attached to the tanker truck held no interest about the dam other than their immediate security.
Once its commander had his mission underway, the collection of water from the lake, he finally deigned to speak to us.
Tomas had been insistent with anyone within earshot until cuffed into silence by one of our guards.
So he was gratified at last to have the chance to request a communication with the Supreme Commander.
The unit commander was at first skeptical and almost dismissed his request out of hand. That is until Tomas pressed him with the emergency code word.
The message was sent.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTY FOUR
The attitude of our guards changed after our interchange with their commander. They deferred to our needs in all interactions since then.
Another tanker truck arrived this morning, just as the first finished filling up. The commander will be staying here while sending the full one back. (The second belongs to his command also).
He will keep us here until he receives an answer to his communication.
Elijah has made it known to everyone his decision not to go backward. He is open to accepting any provisions the Supreme Commander may release for our use, but he won’t appear before him as a condition to receive them.
Tomas took me aside to ask if he had made the right decision.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTY FIVE
Word was received back from the Supreme Commander this morning. The commander of this unit has been ordered to supply our needs and to release us to go our way.
This outcome has greatly relieved the mind of my young friend. Tomas had been called for, told the gist of the message and asked to list our needs.
After a brief consultation with us – so as not to forget anything essential – he submitted our requests.
In short order the commander supplied our needs and knowing that we were heading into the mountains added some warmer clothing. However, he also made one request himself. He wants us to take two of his men with us.
To our surprise Elijah said yes.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTY SIX
Tomas led the way, as usual, around the lake and into the foothills. Our guests carried on behind us. Each fully armed and with heavy packs. They’ve been instructed to follow us until they reach the goal of their mission. Besides themselves, Elijah is the only one with that knowledge.
Their names are Lung and Mei. I really was bowled over to learn that Mei is not a man, but a woman. Both had been guards over Elijah, and Mei was always barking commands and gave no hint of her gender.
Elijah knew, of course, and was greatly amused at my discovery.
Our road is a good one. It has been surfaced for vehicles, and we are making good progress.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTY SEVEN
The lake has shrunken. Due to our distance from it, not because of the water taken out of it. Though I suppose, given time, that will have its effect too.
Three tanker trucks were visible, applying their pumps, upon our last view before we descended into a valley the other side of the foothills. Perhaps we will see it again when we climb into the next pass.
Our road parallels a river which carries scarcely a trickle. If it ever reached the lake below, I don’t think it could now.
It seems to me that Tomas is returning to check in more often than he used to. He converses with Elijah almost always. And sometimes the Captain.
Mei notices him.
DAY SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTY EIGHT
Mei remained at the rear of our troop, while Lung kept by Elijah’s side most of the day. He had many questions and appeared eager to listen to Elijah’s answers.
At one point I dropped back to keep her company. She remained taciturn to most of my comments. She only became animated either during those times when Tomas returned from the advance, or when she raised her rifle at the slightest hint of danger. And she almost blushed when Tomas joined us to inform me about a fork ahead in the road.
We left her company to confer with Elijah and the Captain about which direction we should take.
The main road continues paved. We will take the unpaved one.
GO TO MONTH TWENTY SIX