Day Eight Hundred Twenty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

When we saw the way ahead was entering a vast, flat wasteland with fewer places to hide our presence, Elijah and I asked our guide to put even more distance between us and the road – in hopes of maintaining our ‘invisibility.’

But first we crossed the road to be on the side of our guide’s choosing. We had to wait for an opening which was a bit of an annoyance to Quasimo.

Finally we were successful and he soon had us on what I can only describe as a goat track. It severely challenged our agility.

But had its advantages – it dropped us down to the open expanse sooner and allowed us to swing further from observation from the road.

Day Seven Hundred Thirty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

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 Six Hundred Forty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

After the briefest of rests, we set out. But within minutes the reason for our backward movement was removed when a lone figure appeared on the horizon.  Even at a distance we knew it was Tomas.

We rushed to him.

I have never seen a more bedraggled and emaciated individual. Yet the Captain fell on his neck, weeping in gratitude to see his friend again.

Elijah and I had to assist them both back to the caravan stop.

Tomas reported there had been a clash between that huge army and many warplanes. With devastation on both sides – but particularly fatal to the flying force as their wreckage lay everywhere.

He is grateful to have escaped being under their renewal of hostilities.

Day Six Hundred Forty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Twenty-four hours have passed in our new location. It has proven a very pleasant choice. The Captain found a water well some distance from the caravan trail. It’s on a well worn offshoot from this main route.

The water is a bit brackish, but drinkable. Perhaps traces of minerals are leeching into it.

There was evidence that a group of travelers had passed through here recently. Ashes from cooking fires, and bits of garbage collected in a pit.

Elijah found a nearby cave, or rather an overhang just beyond the well. It is now our place of meditation.

But it has no view southward, so the Captain sticks to the caravan trail. He doesn’t want to chance missing Tomas.

Day Six Hundred Forty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We covered much less distance than usual last night. I think that the Captain and I slowed our pace consciously, both for the sake of Elijah and to hopefully keep the distance between Tomas and us as short as possible.

When Elijah joined us later, as has been his habit lately, he made no comment on this fact. He simply slowed to our pace.

It was still dark when we came upon the perfect place to pass the next two days. It was an unanimous decision.

The Captain oriented himself to best advantage to observe the quarter from which we expect Tomas.

And I exercised more caution this time, making sure that no scorpion nests were in my chosen spot.

Day Six Hundred Twenty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Another brilliant blue day. We’ve made good headway and have come abreast of certain units of the army, left in the rear for some reason or reasons. Probably to recruit or coerce conscripts as Tomas has conjectured, or see to the supplies needed by the army at large.

We decided to keep our distance. To observe and not be observed.

The Captain reported that a narrow valley lies ahead and believes that the army’s progress will be greatly slowed. This impacts the schedule that Elijah had in mind. Since the lead elements are now in that area, we may have to wait until after they have all passed through. Meaning we will have to hold up somewhere on this side.

Day Three Hundred Fifty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Despite the great distance from our last port, the night sky in that quarter was illuminated still by raging fires. It dimmed only with the rising of the sun.

The Captain informed Elijah that he expects to raise the next port within a week.

Elijah encouraged him to pay a call on the guards. The Captain queried them in turn about the contents of the container in their charge. Neither claimed to have any knowledge about its contents. Even the disaffected one was emphatic  that their orders prohibited the breaking of its seals.

The Captain challenged them that they no longer have to answer to a superior.

They countered that they will indeed have to answer at the next port.