Day One Thousand Fifty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Another day of waiting has passed slowly. Everyone has taken it in stride, considering it a trial of patience.

Sy, though, grew unsettled by day’s end. By his calculation Elam should have arrived back here today at the latest. He’s beginning to think that he’ll never see his friend and his tanker truck again.

When I tried to point out to him other possibilities, he left and went up to the heights. Elijah followed him.

They remained up there for quite some time. Long enough to witness a flurry of activity in the air above the plain.

The Captain, Mei and myself caught the end of the display when the crash of distant explosions drew us out of the redoubt.

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Day Nine Hundred Ninety Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Jezer and Tomas passed through again this morning to refill the tanker truck. They reported that Reuben was working himself to the bone in service to the injured. So Elijah thought it best to select some of his ‘pupils’ and send them on ahead to lend a hand.

When he had assembled them, they all volunteered. Elijah picked twelve and sent them out.

The rest he dismissed asking them to return later and to each bring a friend to replenish their numbers.

I sought out the Purser and together we came up with a list of ideas to take to Mawuli and his advance team. We sent a messenger with this list aboard the tanker truck upon its way through.

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 Mawuli at his sentry station and helped him through this renewal of grief by simply standing with him.

Day Nine Hundred Eighty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The last leg of our journey was exceedingly difficult. Mawuli led us into a narrow canyon that from a distance appeared to split a massive table plateau.

We left the camel with some others in a pen situated at the widest spot, and continued on.

Our path dead ended where the two walls met. We then made a switchback that climbed the face of the canyon wall.

Tomas and Mawuli had to boost, first Elijah, then me, up and over the last obstacle at the top.

As we walked the slope to the higher end of the plateau, our friend the Purser, ran down to greet us.

Arm in arm he lead us to his encampment and his wife Mary.

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 Mawuli.

Day Nine Hundred Seventy Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Our friend could talk of nothing else but the explosion. He was well past the town where it went off when it went off. He turned around and ran back to investigate. But he couldn’t get any closer than the fields outside. Nothing stirred, except the raging fire – everywhere. It seemed to be feeding on something within itself.

When he passed through before, not a soul would answer him. So he had wiped his feet and left in search of us.

When Tomas had unburdened himself, Elijah had us all turn in. Only with the new morning did we open up about our journey and about the rumor we had heard.

We parlayed and unanimously decided to pursue the lead.

Day Nine Hundred Fifty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I must confess that upon first hearing the news, I misunderstood the import of what Reuben was telling us. I immediately thought that our fellow believers had been annihilated. Only upon his second explanation did I comprehend that they had been spirited away. They knew not where.

When we were able to report this to Elijah this morning, he broke out into the most satisfied expression. And asked if we knew who or what was responsible.

We all shook our heads.

Then a look of astonishment overspread his face, and he simply said, “Jezer!”

In my mind’s eye I saw our friend, but I also saw Elam.

But the question in everyone’s thoughts at that moment was what about us.

Day Nine Hundred Twenty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The Captain provided the signal to the timing for our departure. I am thankful for it – not only for the confirmation itself and the confidence it provides, but also for the sense of belonging that it gave to my friend. I rejoice with him that he was chosen to aid the fellowship for this important step.

Both he and Tomas will provide valuable leadership in our absence.

We gathered them with Meesa and Mei for a conference in advance of our expected leaving tomorrow. Meesa will continue in overall charge. And Elijah had very specific instructions for the others to support her in seeing to the well being of the community.

Then all gathered around to pray for our mission.

Day Nine Hundred Twenty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Harmony crowns our community again. Meesa and Mei have implemented procedures that will hopefully handle any future disputes. Elijah will only be called upon to settle the more thorny ones. A development most welcome to my friend.

I had updated him when he emerged from intercession this morning. At the same time he alerted me that our next expedition is close at hand. And told me to make preparations for an extended absence from here.

This I told him I would do, but I also reminded him that we should time our departure for after the return of one or both of the other search parties.

His reply astonished me. He concurred, but only if that luxury remained to us.

Day Nine Hundred Nineteen #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Raj G’s joy at finding us was short lived. It melted away when he broke off my hug and fell to the floor sobbing uncontrollably.

There he remained. Begging for forgiveness between racking sobs. He confessed he had lost all of the people entrusted to him. They had been swept up by the government forces when they neared Jerusalem.

At this juncture Jezer excused himself to go out and seek those drone parts I needed.

It took the rest of the night for Elijah and me to calm our friend.

We succeeded shortly before Jezer’s return and immediately decamped for the hiding place.

Once there we discussed the situation with the leadership and formulated a consensus for our next move.