DAY THIRTY ONE
A semi-day of rest (need to catch up on those). Observe the intruder back on its normal patterns and with a lesser frequency. Puzzling. Neither of us had seen the like before.
We decide to decamp from here tomorrow if the pattern remains the same. We have all we need from here, and Lyle is becoming anxious to be underway.
Our eyes turn to the mountains trying to discern what we will run into there. Yesterday there were clouds, today they are gone.
Rufus sits in his cage unruffled. He seems to sense a change in the air. He also keeps the mountains in view, favoring that side over all the others. A change of viewpoint will be welcome.
DAY THIRTY TWO
We have found a new camp, and it will hopefully be of short duration.
Our leapfrog strategy worked perfectly. One just has to take it slow and deliberate and be completely aware of what you’re doing. No wool gathering (of the mental variety) allowed.
There were no signs of any intruder activity. There was, however the old man at the gate. Lyle missed him, a matter of timing most likely. When I went by, there he was. He almost ducked down, but seeing it was too late, he resigned to being discovered and waved me over. We exchanged pleasantries and discovered mutual sympathies. I invited him to join us, but he declined. He is content to stay.
No intruders near.
DAY THIRTY THREE
Another unexpected encounter this morning. I had made the first leg and was about to stay put to allow Lyle to take his turn, when an intruder dropped in. I discovered another thing about it – it only has one camera and that was pointed away from me.
So, I had ample time to scurry to cover. I can only suppose that since we have not been out in this quadrant before, that this must be another terminus in its routine pattern. I breathed a sigh of relief when it turned back and retraced its path whence it came.
Lyle and I debated at day’s end and we’re reasonably confident that we will soon be beyond its reach.
So we hope.
DAY THIRTY FOUR
Patience is what’s called for. I have an overflow, but Lyle is challenged in that sphere. He doesn’t disagree that he needs it. His temper just gets the better of him. So he says.
Case in point, when I told him about my close encounter yesterday, he was all for going on immediately. He did finally agree with me to take it slow. His resolve was tested today when the intruder crossed his path on his second turn. He was probably about two miles from the place where I had encountered it. Though he is convinced that its camera no longer works, he is suspicious that it may be operating with other censors. I say we just take it easy.
DAY THIRTY FIVE
No sign at all of an intruder today. We each advanced by four turns. We would have traveled more but we needed to scavenge for food. And we found plenty, even some fresh vegetables in an abandoned garden. Lyle was handy in pointing out the weeds. I would probably have eaten them.
We now have enough to carry us up to the mountains, except for some additional stores for Rufus. They shouldn’t be too hard to find before we depart civilization.
The air was very clear today. The mountains stand out in bold relief, and appear even closer. But I realize that we have many days ahead of us before we arrive in their shadow. Pending further instruction or illumination.
DAY THIRTY SIX
Had to wait on Lyle this morning. Rufus got away from him, and he wouldn’t leave without his bird.
It took a while, but Lyle managed to pinpoint Rufus’ new roost. We would send our drones up, but fear they would be counterproductive.
And Rufus appears to have acquired some new friends, so it may be very difficult to win him back.
We must have scouted the whole area for about five hours straight. We just couldn’t get close enough.
After much thought, Lyle came up with the strategy. Since one of Rufus’ new companions is female, we’ll concentrate on her capture. Lyle says that once we have her, Rufus will fall right in line. Sounds reasonable, now to execute.
DAY THIRTY SEVEN
Easier said than done. Lyle was successful in capturing the female, but it did not have the predicted (nor desired) effect on Rufus. He appears to hold Lyle in complete contempt.
I did my best to avert complete disaster, and advised that we leave, taking only the female. After a solid minute of staring, sullen silence, Lyle agreed. He decided to name her Clarissa.
And we set out once again. Lyle kept her on his turns. She does not appear to have the same sense for danger that Rufus exhibited, but that may come with time.
We made good time considering the delay in starting out.
When the moon found us, we were a tad bit closer to the mountain.
DAY THIRTY EIGHT
Ate up a bunch of miles today. Ahead the end of the city is in sight. No inhabitants at all. Or no sign of any at least. Lyle did spot that intruder in the distance at one point, but it was far behind. I think he can’t help but look behind, hoping to see Rufus.
In camp tonight we took stock. We are all set for the mountains, except for some warmer clothing, which we will seek to remedy tomorrow.
I’ve been thinking that we’ve overlooked something, and it finally came to me – spare parts for our drones. I told Lyle my idea. He listened politely but nixed it, for the extra weight and since we’ll soon not need them.
DAY THIRTY NINE
Clarissa grows more open each day. Funny thing, she seems to prefer me to Lyle. Not that that bothers him. He’s still moping over the loss of Rufus.
With our drones we located an old shopping mall. It was a little further over and a bit back, so we’re losing some ground. We discovered that it was last stocked with summer product, so not quite what we were looking for.
Lyle was able to break into the back storage area where we did find some very useful items. We now have new sleeping bags, (we left our old ones, still good). Lyle is ecstatic, we now have spare batteries for the drones. The mountains should no longer be a problem.
We have now reached the point we were two days ago. By the end of tomorrow we should be leaving the city behind. I find myself apprehensive, even though I am certain that it is the way we are supposed to go. Lyle is depressed, knowing that with each step the likelihood plummets that Rufus will rejoin us.
The building structures are becoming more numerous and larger again as we near the city limits. They are obscuring our view of the mountains. Living here one could become completely ignorant of their presence. It looks to have been a very wealthy neighborhood.
I’m looking forward to spending our last hours in the city in ease and comfort. Who knows what’s ahead.
DAY FORTY ONE
It’s been a very interesting day. It all started off with an alarm. From Clarissa no less. Something spooked her and neither of us have any idea what it was that set her off. (We’ll be grateful later that she has acquired one of Rufus’ more useful skills).
I decided that we were not going anywhere until after we had a few answers to the questions rattling around our brains.
We launched both drones and put them through a grid search. Almost immediately mine picked up a heat signature. When Lyle’s probe passed the same general area it sent back an image of a fox. Chalk it up as the first of many more such encounters. We are both hopeful.
DAY FORTY TWO
Disaster. Double disaster. We awoke this morning to a swarm of drones around the building in which we took refuge last evening. And that wasn’t bad enough. In our efforts to avoid detection, we discovered that this section of the city has no outlet to the country beyond.
Lyle wanted to backtrack and try again, over and to the right. I argued for caution. By hanging around and observing, a hidden passage might come to light. That is, if there is one.
Clarissa continues to be a great help. She seems to know from which direction the drones are coming minutes before they appear.
And we found one area of promise. Things seem to appear out of thin air there.
DAY FORTY THREE
After a vigil of several hours, we were rewarded for our patience, with a confirmation of sorts. Indeed, sections do open up, and animals come in from the outside, but it is all one direction. Nothing goes out. Nor could there. As Lyle points out, it’s all a trap. The “doors” only open to take in what ever these forces want.
We will need to find another way. And I am so thankful that forewarned we can be forearmed against some very dire consequences.
Curiosity is rising though. We have seen no human presence. We’re beginning to suspect it’s all remotely controlled, or perhaps even of a robotic nature. Why are they guarding against where we all should be going?
DAY FORTY FOUR MORNING
Here I am starting a journal.
I don’t think I would on my own. Not without the suggestion of my new companion, whose name I do not know. Not that I haven’t asked, but I’ve asked so many times now that finally he will only reply, “Enough! Enough!”
So I’ve taken to calling him simply Enough.
Though who am I to talk? I know what it is like for one not to disclose his name. An easy habit to form when you don’t know what it is. I was relieved to run across someone who had heard of me. And could give me a name to go with my face.
Lyle. I guess I like the sound of it. No one chooses their own name. Or almost no one.
We arrived at an area where there were no intruder sightings all day long. We felt safe enough in the afternoon to put our drones up. This whole end is a solid wall. Lyle feels and I concur that we’re not likely to find anything different any place else up this way. Therefore we are going to look for a good place to climb over or lower us down from that wall.
While Lyle minded all the “birds,” I took the opportunity to forage, and stumbled upon enough foodstuffs to replace that which we consumed these past few days.
Lyle informed me at day’s end that he had sent his drone out to its limit. Other people are out there.
DAY FORTY FIVE
We’ve staked out a point on the wall from which to lower ourselves and our supplies. But the only thing not in our supplies currently is a rope.
More than one would be best, but I would settle for just one.
It would seem that whomever set up the defenses at this end of the city was careful to remove every trace of a rope, or a line or anything else that could help us get down.
So Lyle and I decided that the best course of action for us would be to split up. He will head back into the city in quest of climbing equipment. I will remain in this area and continue looking for other ways out.
DAY FORTY SIX
Made good time today. Though I did slow down in the afternoon. That’s when I crossed the boundary into the territory patrolled by the Intruder.
I’m setting a course for the mall area we visited on the way out.
No sign of Lyle. He probably won’t be back today.
I continued a grid search of the area for rope. Nothing. But I am edging ever nearer to the section where we last sighted an intruder. I am taking it slower and slower. Can’t be too cautious.
Clarissa stays close. And she appears perfectly content, without a care in the world. I take it as a good sign.
Spend some time watching the automated processes every time the one gate opens. I realize that a live person will eventually put in an appearance to properly maintain the mechanisms out here. There is only so much machines can do. It would increase the odds of discovery. Pray Lyle gets back soon.
DAY FORTY SEVEN
Never thought I’d say I was suffering from loneliness. I am. I just have to keep my mind on what I’m doing and my goal.
Came across a small hardware store and I went in immediately to check for rope. Very little left on the shelves open to the public. So I next took a run through the stock room. All picked over as well.
Exited the building just as an Intruder passed by. I froze. And watched it disappear. In the general direction that I am heading.
This is going to be tricky.
Found something that will serve to get us and our supplies down from the wall. Makes me wish that Lyle and I had agreed upon a set time for his return. No telling now when it’ll happen.
I’ve found a good place to store things, both what we brought with us and what we can find hereabouts to add to it.
All quiet otherwise. Too quiet.
A couple of times I caught myself humming. It brought back memories of other times and other circumstances. Not that I would want to trade now for then if I could. Despite then being a “happier” time, comparatively speaking. No sir, not at all. No way. No how.
I’ve learned my lesson about that.
DAY FORTY EIGHT
The Intruder was breathing down my neck all day. So with one eye on the path before me and the other on the sky overhead, I made my way the best I could. One Intruder after another joined the first, until there was a total of six pursuing me.
It all seemed random at first, but at length I realized that I was being “herded” ever away from the direct line to my desired destination.
During one of the calms – the periodic absences of all Intruders, I sent my drone off towards the city’s edge and the wall.
First, to ensure that the way was clear of obstacles. And secondly to let Enough know that I am still out here and to encourage him hopefully to wait for me.
Still waiting for Lyle to return. I had hope this morning that this would be the day. There was even a sign – the sound of a drone on the approach. I looked out and could actually see it, coming low over the buildings. It was Lyle’s, but at the last minute it executed a wide turn and fled the scene.
I went to cover and stayed there, and tried my best to scope out what could have precipitated Lyle’s sudden flight from the scene.
The day grew gray with no explanation. And no Lyle.
Now the conundrum to resolve – do I wait longer? Or do I set out to find Lyle? Or do I take to the trail without him?
DAY FORTY NINE
Found again the same warehouse that was so helpful before. Looked high and low, and found what I needed way up high indeed. The top floor may at one time have been a rope walk for the manufacture of that commodity. The only thing is the rope lengths are all too short. Rope ends? Or left overs? Definitely not long enough to lower our things over the wall. I can knot them together in series, but will the results be strong enough?
I will take them with me. And make my way back to Enough and the Wall, though slowly, for I intend to look elsewhere along the way.
I wanted to go after Lyle. Really I did. But circumstances have intervened and scotched that notion. The intruder activity between myself and where Lyle should be has exploded beyond what I have ever seen before. Probably the result of his drone flying over this area yesterday.
I’m beginning to think that he was trying to get a message to me. But perhaps that was his meaning – a warning to get out of here.
It was a slow process but I was able to get it all down in five trips. There has been no intruder activity here at all on this side of the wall. I put my drone up and have confirmed that no intruder is watching me.
I thought I had outpaced them all. The lulls were coming with greater frequency, and I took full advantage. Or so I thought.
Last night I held up in one of the last high rises. Turns out it was the headquarters for all the Intruders I’ve been dodging. And I met their master. She tells me I’ve been a lot of trouble.
What she added next surprised me. She told me that she was sending me on my way. With two fine lengths of rope.
She was warned in a dream not to harm me nor my friend. She knows Enough but not by that name. And since I did not know any other, she refused to fill me in.
Clarissa is taking to our new camp with great ease. For me I feel anything but ease.
I am waiting again for Lyle to reach us. I am convinced that wherever he is, when he can seize the opportunity he will join us.
Meanwhile I placed my drone in orbit around our perimeter. There was absolutely nothing in its scanner. Therefor I increased its coverage, staying on this side of the wall.
Today it was able to cover a sizable distance in both directions. By its means, I pinpointed the exact location of another gateway, one that perhaps does not involve a trap.
And best of all I have seen a sign that Lyle may already be on this side.
DAY FIFTY ONE
Getting close to the wall now. Will send up the drone and try to locate where Enough is waiting for us. I hope he is waiting.
I myself can’t wait to tell him the news. Not about our nemesis of days before, I haven’t made up my mind about telling him about her. But about the return of the prodigal bird. Rufus is back with me. I had stopped to rest and get my bearings, and when I got up to continue, he flew right up to me. I can tell he has not lacked for food. Still I have given him a little something.
Now to get us all safely back together.
Think I’ll have the drone hop the wall every so often on its search for our companions.
It’s getting so that I trust Clarissa better than the electronics package on my drone.
A wind swept in from the mountains, carrying the fragrance of alpine flowers and pine needles. I felt the urge ever stronger to be on my way. I decided to give Lyle one more day. If he does not show by tomorrow morning, I’m going to press on.
My drone has revealed that there appears to be two paths to choose from. One is wide enough for vehicles; the other is just a footpath. It is harder to see where the latter goes for it often disappears beneath the forest growth. I am seeing that characteristic as very desirable.
The sooner tomorrow comes the better.
DAY FIFTY TWO
I am reasonably certain that Enough is no longer on this side of the wall. I have found the point at which we parted company and the drone has been both directions from that point, and not a sign of Enough anywhere.
Time we cross over and begin our search there.
Rufus seems excited at the prospect.
Have them in sight!
This morning I packed half of what we’ve collected, and sent up the drone for one last look-see. I was bringing it back in after negative results, when it was met by Lyle’s “bird” coming in from the opposite direction. So our first sight of one another after so long was through our electronic eyes.
Fifteen minutes later Lyle arrived in our camp.
And he had his friend Rufus with him. He has been successful in finding climbing gear. He certainly brought back more than we need. He had to go quite deep back into the city to find the gear. On the way back he found Rufus, who was ready to follow him this time. Onward and upward.
DAY FIFTY THREE
We cleared the first foothill yesterday, but didn’t get much farther than that. The city for the most part is blocked from sight, only the tallest buildings poke their heads up enough to be seen.
There was another reason for our lack of headway. Lyle shared an account of his adventures with me. They were pretty hair-raising. I’ll suggest to him that he share his journal too.
But I will relate that he had a run in with that woman he feared. She had him cornered at one point, and fortunately as it turns out, placed him right in the midst of what he went to find – all that rope.
And it directly led to the recovery of Rufus.
DAY FIFTY FOUR
Our trail rarely takes us in a straight line. It runs at the mercy of the terrain. I take point, so I see it all first. We’ve grounded our mechanical “birds” and depend on the live variety instead. They keep us sharp.
Our packs are full and heavy, but they will get less so as we slowly consume the foodstuffs. We are on the lookout for means of replenishing these supplies, but nothing comes to sight as yet. Lyle thinks that we should run across some towns or hamlets out here. I think we made need to do some gathering from the land itself. I also think we will need an education along those lines so we don’t poison ourselves.
DAY FIFTY FIVE
We were awakened by a crash of thunder before daylight. Thankfully it gave us time to stay dry as it preceded the rain by a considerable amount. We made certain that our tents were properly staked and supported. The thought of going out after it passed was discouraging. Alright, depressing.
Rufus and Clarissa couldn’t be happier. Their tweeting became so loud it was hard to hear yourself think.
And we needed to think. Therefore, we decided to stay put today and to talk things through.
Lyle and I went over our plans with a fine tooth comb. Just to make sure we were parting things in the right direction. We’ve just one disagreement, which we don’t have to decide yet.
DAY FIFTY SIX
Very blustery around here this morning. So, how gratifying to know that we were extra careful securing the tents yesterday.
We’d like to put up a drone, but neither of us feel that it would be safe in the wind. Lyle brought out a pair of binoculars that he found on his sojourn a few days ago. With them he took in the view from our ridge of the valley below. Despite all he was able to see, there is still too much we feel is unknown and perhaps dangerous to head down there willy nilly.
We’ll wait on the wind to die down, and definitely launch at least one, if not both drones to get a better, clearer view.
DAY FIFTY SEVEN
We finally made it off the ridge and down into the valley. And we have an excellent idea as to where we are going and how we will get there.
The drones as you may well imagine performed flawlessly. We were able to eliminate one of the trails and select one between the remaining three as the most likely to lead to the village we saw from above.
No other movement has been observed on any of the trails. All must have been evacuated already. Not sure who or what we will find in the village.
The only animals we’ve seen are the birds which travel with us. Hopefully that will all change the further we get from the city.
DAY FIFTY EIGHT
Our way was blocked today. I’m afraid there is no going further by this route. This time it was not the drones that alerted us, but rather a sweep by Rufus and Clarissa.
We’ve decided to pitch camp and explore our options before retracing our steps. Besides I saw Clarissa trying to crack a hazelnut that she had found. Upon further examination of the location I discovered dozens of heavily laden hazelnut trees. We’re at least getting something out of our dead end.
We’re not being watched, nor are we being followed, so we have no anxiety on either count. Neither of us want to have a misstep and disappoint the one who is calling us. We are human though.
DAY FIFTY NINE
We have made it back to the valley and now have to decide which of the other paths to take.
Neither of us have a deadline so neither of us is in a hurry. I just have the need to be efficient. I hate waste. Lyle laughed when I stated my thoughts on this. I guess he just does not equate any loss of that nature with waste, rather it can be chalked up under the failed experiment column, providing a narrowing of possibilities. Something was learned, one just needs to capitalize on the knowledge.
And that is what he was about today, eliminating the paths that won’t take us where we want to go. Tomorrow we’ ll have it.
The path that Lyle settled upon took us over two hills and then arrived beside a lake a little past lunch time. We were in good spirits, confident that we were finally on the right path. And we saw trout jumping in and out of the water. So out came the nets and some fishing line.
We had fish for supper and Lyle prepared them making them tastier with help from the hazelnuts. We gave Rufus and Clarissa each a morsel. I believe that Clarissa by her actions was actually begging for another just after finishing hers. Lyle agreed with that assessment and ripped off another piece to feed her. He added another one for Rufus, but he didn’t care.
ON TO MONTH THREE