Day Eight Hundred Fifty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We no longer had the road to ourselves. People passed us by in both directions. With the desert behind, small clumps of civilization were huddled around wells and their denizens were going about their business from place to place.

No adults paid us any attention. Only the children in the villages threw themselves in our path. But turned away when they saw we had nothing to give them.

We also had to watch out for vehicles. The best walking was on the paved road, but not when they came by. Especially the tanker trucks delivering water to out of the way places. We never saw them in villages with wells.

We were both silent preparing ourselves for the ordeal ahead.

Day Eight Hundred Ten #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The haze lifted sometime overnight. And we had an unobstructed view in every direction. In the distance to the south lay the harbor that services the megapolis, choked with merchant vessels.

And signs of much activity. Commerce was in full swing, with people going about the business of business in stark contrast to the continued stillness in this central locale.

Palaces were the norm in that quarter, spread out in both directions.

We had no curiosity to head in that direction. Unless, of course, the way out of Babylon lies in that direction. But my desire is for a more direct route to Jerusalem – somewhere to the east and north of here.

We’ll have to see what obstacles there are.

Day Five Hundred Fifty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Elijah and I met with the Hamashiachites early. We had exciting news. Our queries had led us to a group that meets under the sign of the fish. They are eager to meet with and join our people in their pilgrimage.

We have much to prepare before tomorrow. And we will have to adopt the same strategy to get them ashore as we did to get them on the ship, sending them out by twos and threes.

And all by the end of tomorrow, for the Captain tells us our business will be complete here and we’ll no longer have a reason to remain.

He also learned the other ship needs our help. They do not bear the mark either.

Day Four Hundred Eighty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Elijah wants me to accompany him. Not just ashore, but to continue across this subcontinent and perhaps rejoin the ship at a port on the other side.

I want to go, but not before discharging my responsibilities.

Elijah will wait, but will wander around the waterfront in the meantime.

We have landed the cargo for this port and that of the prior one. Due to our status (i.e. No mark) we will not be allowed to take on any other business. That cuts our time short here. The Captain and I had to battle the port authorities for more time and space to get down to that mystery container.

They only relented, when we shared our suspicions of potential danger.

Day Four Hundred Fifty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

A tug chugged out early to the roads where we three vessels were waiting for entry. We were surprised to see that each vessel received two men from the tug. The mystery was cleared up come time to receive our own charges. One was a pilot, the other was a political officer representing the world government.

The latter made it very clear that we could not enter and conduct any business unless negotiated by someone bearing the mark.

The Captain countered that we were not desirous of entering for any purposes of commerce, but rather only delivering a shipment to the city’s governor from his sister city on the island.

This stymied the duo. They returned to port for instructions.

Day Four Hundred Twenty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

First thing we descended to the city. All the gates were closed. We heard the sounds of activity within, but saw no one. We made our way around to see the harbor. Three ships floated there and two were tied up at docks, but none was ours.

Then we realized we had to check the opposite side. And when we did, we discovered another road from the north and an open gate.

The guard in command denied us entry, for in his words we may not conduct business without the mark. Elijah declared we were not merchants. This stymied him and said he would ask his commander. And sent us away.

We have to wait to see what comes next.

Day Three Hundred Forty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

A long day. This despite the choice to take a boat across the harbor to the grain ship. The Captain thought it quicker.  Elijah was not happy because he desired to be on land.

The boat master seemed starved for business, at every opportunity he was touting this or that tourist site off the route determined by the Captain. Elijah and I paid close attention for future reference.

When we arrived at the ship that the Captain considers his by right of salvage, a vast throng was milling about awaiting handouts of grain or locusts, all rationed under the supervision of government officials.

The Captain was denied access and ordered away. But he promised to seek restitution and their punishment.

Day One Hundred Forty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Lyle returned without Kip this morning, so we had lots to talk about on the way out to the vineyard. The gates closed while they were in Kip’s district, so they had to spend the night. And though Lyle was free to leave, Kip could not. However, he is confident that after completing some paperwork he will be allowed to depart.

Lyle reported that an offer for use of the machines was indeed made. As a condition we must all first receive a mark issued by the world government, a permit to do business with them.

We are both suspicious.

At the agreed time, Grazie joined us. She, like Kip, wants to leave the west end. And asked our help.