Day Nine Hundred Eighty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Another day and everyone in the Purser’s camp should be recovered enough to travel.

Everyone, that is, except that ex-army surgeon. He died. Shriveled away to nothing during the night.

The Purser now believes he was working against us and was the one behind all their losses, including his daughter Retha.

When I sensed that our friend was slipping away to a very dark place, Elijah and I took him and his wife aside to comfort them.

At the last, Elijah was able to convince them that in no manner were they responsible for the dead man’s perfidy.

Afterwards I joined Malawi at his sentry station and helped him through this renewal of grief by simply standing with him.

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Day Nine Hundred Eighty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have settled in for the night after a long day of travel. So thankful for the camel Malawi has with him, as we thus were enabled to offload our burdens.

Unlike usual Tomas kept close contact to us throughout the day. Still he was the first to spot a young man approaching on another camel.

Thus we met one of Malawi’s counterparts on his way to the well, one of the volunteers on the all important rotation that supplies water for the Purser’s group. Unlike Malawi he wore a uniform.

When I asked Malawi about it, he laughed and said there are more than one type of uniform in their camp, from practically every land they have passed through.

Day Nine Hundred Eighty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I almost didn’t recognize him, he’d grown so much in the past year. But he had no difficulty recognizing me, and positively could not stand still in his excitement in our presence.

After a brief exchange he filled his water skins and begged us to remove our camp away to where he had set up.

It was a caution he always practiced. And as it proved, a more comfortable place to pass the night.

Today we filled the rest of his water skins and we set off for their place deep in the desert.

Malawi explained that they have been stranded there for months now. Their numbers keep growing as his parents invite injured and castoff people into their group.

Day Nine Hundred Eighty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

As preparation for the next stage of our search, I suggested we replenish our water skins at the desert crossroads before heading into the desert.

As we all deemed it necessary, it was an easy decision to make the detour. As always Tomas was happy to go anywhere he’d never been before, especially with the additional incentive of seeing where we had first encountered Jezer.

It took longer than we remembered for it was late in the day when we finally arrived. We had the spot all to ourselves and set up camp.

While we filled the water skins, Tomas explored the area.

Our surprise was great when he returned minutes later with a struggling youth, my youngest friend Malawi.

Day Nine Hundred Thirty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

My slumber was disturbed by sounds of movement without our camp. My thoughts landed on the pesky villager as the likely culprit. But when I arose to check, I encountered a wild dog instead. I chased it away and Elijah continued sleeping.

It was all a preview for the day ahead. If it were not curious critters, it was the occasional passing drone that kept us alert.

At one point along the way, Elijah deviated off the path to climb to the top of a round mountain.

At the top he stood silently. His eyes behind the mist of memory flit here and there around the scene.

And as suddenly as he had stopped he asked pardon and we left.

Day Nine Hundred Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I kept the drone here with us, the better to secure our position. Besides, Elijah and I will have charge of a larger group, that of Tomas and the Captain’s together, and we’ll need it to maintain overwatch when we are on the way.

I should ask Jezer for sufficient parts for another drone, for Quasimo’s sake. He seemed so sad when he handed it off to me.

Elijah passed the time with Raj P. They talked about his brother and mused about his whereabouts with his contingent.

While I did keep the drone aloft circling the camp I caused it to linger each cycle over the approach that Jezer should take upon coming to us.

All day long – nothing.

Day Eight Hundred Fifty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

His name is Jezer. He never ceased talking from the moment he entered our camp. He was bent on selling us something, anything. Starting with his camels. He couldn’t see how we could do without one, or better yet two.

We politely declined, but that was only the signal for him to bring out the rest of his wares. All in all he is entertaining, and quite the charmer. (Though there are moments when I see the greed for gold in his eyes).

And persistent, for this morning he was back to pushing our need for camels, and told us of his near escape from marauding soldiers, and strongly intimated that we would be wise to take up his offer.

Day Eight Hundred Forty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We stared and stared at the western horizon as we chose our camp for the day. And I could not but help continue to inspect the sight each time when serving my watch.

The tiniest of bumps disturbed the line of the horizon. A mountain it was not. A hill maybe.

Elijah and I discussed it when exchanging places. He was certain it was what we were looking for. But suggested that we wait until it ‘grows’ in stature before turning in its direction.

At day’s end when we arose to resume our march, some low-lying clouds obscured the western horizon.

Elijah smiled at me and asked what I thought about fasting until our hill grows into a mountain.

Day Eight Hundred Twenty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Half the encampment saw us off this morning. I believe more would have done so, but the flocks needed tending.

We let it be known our intent to strike out in a northerly direction from the camp, and Quasimo supplied us with knowledge of the wells along that route, plus signs to look for in the desert beyond.

Our parting was brief but warm. The sentiment of all I am sure. I even admit to a lump in my throat as we turned our feet northward.

Since the wadis all ran east west, our route took us up and down the sections in between. This slowed us down, and it was time to turn in before we reached the road.

Day Seven Hundred Ninety Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Settling into camp last night had been a ragged affair. Hardly unexpected given we were a large group trying to do something together for the first time.

The five of us, plus P, met early in the morning to talk about better co-ordinating our movements. Thus we were able to lumber off with the minimum of aggravation, taking up the same marching order as yesterday.

We agreed to maintain the same order when we halted.

The one question we did not resolve right away was Tomas’s position in the column. Both Mei and the Captain wanted his help with their groups.

At the last I decided that he needed to be out front where he does best, scouting ahead.