Day One Thousand One Hundred Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Our guards kept us back and away from the perimeter while a special unit toiled away removing the bodies left in the wake of yesterday’s attack.

I was wondering if the true inspiration behind the incident could be laid at the machinations of our bête noir, Moglen, when Elijah interrupted my train of thought with an apology and an explanation.

He also had sighted Moglen yesterday and not told me. He had gone over to the holding pens (his apology was for that action, having traveled somewhere without me). Its inhabitants proved to be deranged, beyond all reach, completely unsalvageable. And he can state with certainty that Moglen was indeed responsible for the opposition that arose from there – and more.

Day Eight Hundred Sixty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The villages we passed through yesterday and today were quiet and almost empty, for their inhabitants were out laboring in the fields. The requisite posters of Stan increased in number as we grew closer to Damascus.

And as we were getting closer, Elijah and I strategized about our entry.

We decided that we would hold up at a distance and observe the patterns of movement into and out of the city.

It would also need to be an out of the way site, the better to seek the Spirit’s direction.

We have noted already that at certain times of the day the road traffic slows due to an increase in vehicles and backs up. This may prove an important factor.

Day Seven Hundred Seventy Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Our hosts who accepted us into their village are refugees from the East and thus have an affinity to Mei. Indeed, we learned that most of the inhabitants on the rings of villages are new to the area, but unacceptable and kept out of the sprawling city. Only the hunters, having been here longer are allowed into the city. And that for trade only.

That intelligence set off warning bells in my head, and I made the case to Elijah that we waste no time in going to the city.

But Elijah was not persuaded. He confirmed that we would indeed enter the city. Just not yet.

Instead he wants to explore the reason behind these people’s reaction to him.

Day Seven Hundred Twenty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

There is a body of water at the back of the city, a lake that has shrunken due to the drought. The river that feeds it is running low, and at the other end stands a dam that impedes outflow.

This source of water is most precious to the inhabitants and it is what they intend to protect and preserve at all costs. So we conclude after observing the comings and goings of the local militia all day, and in particular their concentration in the vicinity of the dam.

Over on that side of the city Tomas was a witness to their opposition to some tanker trucks he recognized.

Though they retreated we are sure they will return in force.

Day Seven Hundred Sixteen #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The melody renewed its hold on me upon waking.  Not from within. Instead Tomas was whistling the tune while preparing something for us to eat.

I made no comment, but felt it held a good portent for the day ahead.

We arrived near the village in the afternoon. Actually it wasn’t a village. It was more like a large compound. There were multiple buildings but all contained by a low wall around its perimeter.

The Captain hung back, grumbling and making his disapproval known. But he was the first to recognize one of the inhabitants as he walked across the courtyard of the compound.

And the Raj twin G also was surprised to see us when moments later we entered.

Day Six Hundred Ninety Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have wended by deserted farms and abandoned villages on this southern route around the bivouacked army. Nothing of value has been left behind. Either the inhabitants departed with their possessions, or foragers from the army scooped them up.

A number of times we were forced off the trail by the approach of patrols, and remained motionless until after they had passed. It makes our progress very slow.

On one of these occasions five peasants came up behind the patrol, in plain sight and made no move to avoid the soldiers other than leaving the road to them when passing them by.

As we were similarly attired, we were emboldened to do the same.

We quickened our pace after that.

Day Five Hundred Sixty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Elijah agreed with the Captain’s decision to avoid the next port of call.

We were surprised that these were the first words out of his mouth upon emerging from the special cabin. For he had held up in there for the past two days.

He then added cryptically that this port will be the end of the voyage. For everyone.

The Captain began to protest. And stated that the end was always supposed to be on the tropical islands at the center of this immense ocean.

To this Elijah answered that the people awaiting the shipments were no longer there. All the inhabitants had been removed forcibly on Stan’s orders. He now holds the islands as his personal possession and retreat.

Day Four Hundred Ninety Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Some disconcerting news. Along with the conversion of the local temples we have learned that they were despoiled of their precious possessions.

By some accounts, much gold and gems are now on their way to the global capital, with the blessing of the grateful inhabitants.

Elijah says it won’t be long now before things turn drastic. It has given us renewed impetus to soldier on.

To be thorough it may take the next two days, if they don’t eject us first. A couple of encounters today brought threats of setting the authorities on us – a real danger as the offices of the local government are nearby.

Elijah is considering sealing up the sky before our departure. But he’ll await confirmation.

Day Four Hundred Eighty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Another hot, dusty day has left me longing for the rains of yesterday. Meager clouds scudded along overhead with not a hint of cooling relief.

But we discovered a stream which flows over a rocky bed and stopped to refresh ourselves. It felt wonderful to wash the dust off of our feet. We took to the road again with a renewed spring to our step.

Conversation circled around the continuing lack of people. We passed through a couple of intact villages. All signs point to a hurried abandonment by the inhabitants.

They appeared to have fled in the same direction we are heading.

Elijah thinks that we may overtake some of them before much longer.
We both hope so.

Day Four Hundred Forty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We followed the Captain back around to the main gate. And were admitted without ceremony.

I could not help but think that had we shown up unaccompanied our reception would have been much less friendly.

Inside the city was as silent and eerie as it seemed from outside. Elijah shared this observation with the Captain, who waited until we were back aboard ship to explain. The city for the most part is empty, very few inhabitants.

I saw this for myself when I accompanied the Captain ashore today. The members of our crew helping to unload outnumbered by far those from the port. And in my new capacity I was limited to one of their counterparts. His name is Emil.