Day One Thousand One Hundred Twenty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We were on our own again. The Supreme Commander escorted the three of us to the river side entrance. There Tomas gave us one last rundown on our route.

And we made our goodbyes.

In dismissing us the Supreme Commander intimated that he knew we would not see one another again. And went on to explain why he had put off the offer from Tomas. Long ago he had the call to do what he is about to do. He still awakens in the night to the sound of someone whistling. A call to follow.

And he added to Tomas that he will soon be released also.

It gave me much to ponder on the first day of our trek.

Day One Thousand Forty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We ran into someone today who actually deigned to talk to us. He took one look at us and the direction in which we were traveling and crossed the road and stopped us.

He came off as someone  concerned for our well being, but his gaze kept lingering on Elijah, as he warned us about an army checkpoint ahead. He said that they were allowing people coming in, but, except for the military, all egress was forbidden.

And then he came to his point. He knew a way around the checkpoint if we could see our way to make it worthwhile for him.

Elijah thanked him for his offer, but declined it, saying he was quite familiar with the area.

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 Seventy Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The authorities had given up their recent strategy, and no longer attempted to locate us. Instead they hit on the idea of making us come to them. They wanted us to surrender in exchange for the remaining widows and orphans in their control.

Neither Meesa nor Jezer were amenable to letting us act on that offer.

I was of the same frame of mind, but none of us knew what Elijah’s thoughts were on the matter.

For he had not been appraised yet about their demand. He had sequestered himself late yesterday.

And such we thought was still the case.

Then all of a sudden we answered a knock at the door and Elijah entered, widows and orphans in tow.

Day Eight Hundred Sixty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have Damascus in sight. Meesa led us off the road to a ridge above its outskirts, where we have a commanding view of the road and a neighboring one to the west. We can see where each enters the city. And are in a good position to evaluate our options.

Meesa had listened to our explanations with avidity, and peppered us with questions. Before leaving she had proposed another solution by offering to affix a mark like hers upon our persons – an offer we both declined.

We shall not stoop to subterfuge, but we shall oppose Stan and his ilk face to face.

That being said, we shall stay put until we have clarity as to when and how.

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 One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We started out by walking along the side of the road. If anything it seemed busier than yesterday. With the tanker trucks whizzing by at speeds faster than the other vehicles.

I believe those truck drivers delighted in catching us in their backwash. After two such occurrences we moved further over on the shoulder.

One of the tanker trucks pulled over and its driver asked if we wanted a ride. However, he immediately withdrew the offer when he saw that neither of us bore the mark.

Elijah suggested then that it might perhaps be better to abandon the road. So, when the dry river bed that paralleled the road passed under to the other side we climbed down to it.

Day Four Hundred Forty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We’ve had our reunion. Of sorts. While Tomas remained on duty, the Captain came out to us. It was a joyous occasion.

Especially as we have ascertained that the Captain as well as his crew, remain free of the mark. They have consequently since our parting been forced from some ports which were wholly given over to the world government, including this city’s sister port across the water.

I gave the Captain the messages from his former purser, which he received with thanks. And he greeted my offer to serve in his place with enthusiasm.

Elijah was glad to learn that the ship’s future course remains the same. He was relieved enough to surrender his reluctance to enter the city.

Day Four Hundred Twenty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have not seen anyone else on the road, in either direction, since we left the river yesterday. Judging by the calculations of the former merchant from the port city we still have three days to go.

Elijah tells me that the Purser had given him a message to relay to the Captain. A resignation – and an apology for doing so. Elijah raised an eyebrow to me at the finish of this information. I caught his gist and agreed to offer to take on the position if acceptable to the Captain.

My mind was filled afterwards with thoughts of what I would do as a ship’s purser – things that I learned from watching him, and things from my own experience.