Day Nine Hundred One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

One of those momentous days. It seems that so many days come and go with little to report. Then one day comes along and it’s almost too much even to think about.

It started off when Jezer returned alone. He was looking very dispirited. We had to encourage him not to give up hope.

Elijah instructed him to stay and rest today. Instead, Quasimo and I accompanied Elijah to take up the search.

We took the drone with us. Quasimo was very curious about its operation. And, with the minimum of instruction soon had it mastered.

With its aid under his direction down in the desert from which we had plucked him, we located the mystery group.

And our Meesa.

Day Nine Hundred #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Quasimo came to us to offer his help. He shares our concern over Meesa’s disappearance. Though their acquaintance has been but brief, he has learned from the others her part in their rescue.

Jezer was reticent to accept his offer. Though commending his gratitude as the motivation, he said he’d prefer someone familiar with the region in particular.

I suspected that another reason (or force) was at play here. And Elijah sensed it too.

We sent out Jezer by himself and made the point to pass the rest of the day with Quasimo.

When he related their experiences in the desert, playing hide and seek with another large group, we realized that that mystery group may be one of ours.

Day Eight Hundred Ninety Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

It was a quick one day trip, a concession to the people left behind in the hiding place. With Jezer gone down to the desert and Meesa just recently returned, they are ill at ease when their leaders are constantly coming and going.

I believe that Elijah is finally coming to grips with his need to pour himself into their instruction.

Yet how much is needed?

Maturity can be such a mystery.

Thankfully our foray proved a blessing and most necessary, for we located Jezer in the desert with the band he was endeavoring to bring in. The minute Quasimo saw us, he ran to greet us. He was relieved to know that Jezer was indeed telling him the truth.

Day Eight Hundred Ninety Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Overall we were encouraged by developments today. This despite the need to rein in my drone when a massive swarm of government drones appeared in our area.

For Meesa returned with promising results from her scouring of the area near Damascus. A small band was reported wandering about in the desert to the south. None bearing the mark.

Jezer will investigate in that direction tomorrow as he is quite familiar with that section. (That we know because we first met him at a well in that very desert).

Elijah talked about going out by himself, but I reminded him of our long-standing agreement to never wander around without the other again.

He grudgingly acceded, concluding we’ll go out tomorrow.

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 Forty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We are one night’s march along the corridor of this valley, and the ‘hill’ at the far end has indeed “grown.” We are more confident than ever we are adhering to the path laid out for us by Quasimo. Hence today we have brought our fast to a close.

I had much to ruminate about in my times on watch. Over night it was much colder than ever before. Elijah thinks we may see snow in the next day or so. I can believe it.

The barking has ceased to dog our steps. Whatever they were must have continued on north. Silence instead muffled our ears – then and now.

Two more night marches should bring us out of the desert.

Day Eight Hundred Thirty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We were exhausted by the time morning rolled along, having been awake and moving all day and night.

Our path was easy going, helped along by the glow of the moon while it was up.

Still, as we turned in for the daylight hours, my mind was overfull with the trek so far.

The events from the bridge to the rock formation run over and over in my thoughts, colored by my apprehension that a drone might overtake us before we found it. And the trek through the desert night carried its own unease as we were alert to find our next landmark. A well that should mark an end to this effortless pathway.

It helps to breathe and pray.

Day Eight Hundred Thirty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The desert was in sight by trek’s end last night. We knew better than attempt to enter it from this point. Instead we passed the morning looking for the landmark mentioned by Quasimo. A pile of rocks in the shape of a kingly statue.

Our side movement to the northwest proved fruitless, so we reversed direction and finally found the rock structure well to the southeast.

It stood guard where an emerging wadi continued its course into the desert itself, forming an avenue east to follow in the otherwise trackless sand.

We waited by the curious rock pile for the cool of the night to come on. And fortified ourselves with water from a nearby well against our future march.

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 Forty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Waited all day for an opportunity to talk to Tomas alone. I would have accompanied him on one of his jaunts, but didn’t want to leave Elijah and the Captain without my support. Lung has been outwardly calm, yet I can tell agitation is festering just below the surface. Every step is taking us further and further away from his unit. If only he would talk to Elijah again. Lung has been avoiding him ever since the glacier.

Thankfully, Tomas brought word of another path branching off this one. He is certain it will take Lung back down. If not to the lake, at least to the desert.

I also decided to put off my talk with Tomas until tomorrow.