Day One Thousand One Hundred Eighty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We passed the night under the stars. And stars were all we could see, for our only view was straight overhead from a dirt floor at the bottom of a rocky depression.

I traded the early morning watch to Magwich who wanted to take in the view. He remarked to me afterwards that he had thought he’d never see it again.

Throughout the day’s hike Magwich overflowed with joy and thankfulness, an infectious feeling that sped us along.

Reuben kept the advance, dropping back only twice to hold us in place while two patrols passed through.

Quasimo is optimistic that we will be back at the hiding place before the meridian tomorrow.

Elijah and I had much to talk over.

Day Nine Hundred Sixty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Reuben and his guards kept vigil under the stars last night. And talked through any and all options that did not include retracing our steps.

The stars shone bright in their courses, but the lights from the traffic were brighter still. At least, they were when I turned in.

All had changed by the time I got up. The checkpoint was gone. Along with the traffic.

Reuben told me that beginning at midnight onwards the traffic was all towards Damascus. And the elements of the checkpoint joined in as the last of the column went through.

Having no one or nothing to impede our progress, we reached the hiding place by evening.

They received us with open arms and hearts.

Day Eight Hundred Thirty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I still heard barking in the distance on the way and kept my attention directed to it. It appeared to gain on us, then passed off to our right. And was silent.

When I saw mounting clouds to the west, blocking out the stars, I guessed the reason behind the actions of the trailing animal. I called Elijah’s attention to the coming storm. He concurred that we needed to seek shelter.

But there was none. All we could do was watch and pray. And to our amazement the storm front veered to the south and passed by.

So another night march and still no well. Elijah remains unperturbed. We continue to keep rested each day, despite our rounds of watching.

Day Six Hundred Fifty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We took stock of provisions at the end of our trek this morning. The Captain thinks there’s enough water for three more days. We all hope we can replenish before then.

It was a hard passage last night. The trail left the side of the dry river bed to climb up unto a low tableland. An hour later we descended down to what Tomas considers to be the same dry river bed. The trail has merely cut off a wide loop of the same, saving us some miles and time, but the way up and the way down made it all the more arduous.

Crossing the tableland under the stars I thought much about that star on the belt buckle.

Day Six Hundred Thirty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We bid Tomas godspeed. He is on his way south to investigate the area towards the high mountains.

We traveled last night, and will wait here one full day, travel another night and wait again. That way it should be easier for Tomas to catch up.

Tomas plans to travel night and day, with only the minimum of rest time, for the same object.

We only had the stars and a brief appearance by the moon to light our way. No flitting lights troubled the sky.

I wanted to accompany Tomas. I truly did. But Elijah reminded me of our commitment never to part ways again.

We shall rest through the day, and pray for Tomas through the night tomorrow,

Day Six Hundred Thirty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Lots of bushy scrub in the area we passed through over night. Much easier to avoid mishaps when the moon was up. Or so the Captain learned. He was tripped up twice.

I did see lights in the sky that were not stars, flitting from one side of the sky to the other. More of those machines that Elijah says are looking for us. And per Tomas, guided from within by men.

I sense the hand of Stan at work. Perhaps not directing each individual action, but setting the pattern as they perform his bidding.

We called it an early night and went into camp before the sun cleared the horizon.

Elijah stood vigil while we ate, then turned in.

Day Two Hundred Twelve Morning #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Lyle writes:

I thought I was hearing things, but then I realized it was only the pounding of the pulse in my ears.

I stood up and the roar died away. The silence of the night held the stars in place each step of the way.

I contemplated my dream and its assurances.

Day Ninety Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Calm has descended upon us again. This after we have discovered that Stan was not lost, but his disappearance was planned. He abandoned us.

I was going through our supplies and found that someone has heavily pilfered from them.

Anyway that was my conclusion deduced from that discovery.  But Lyle takes it a step further. He believes that Stan was actively trying to impede us, which in his estimation makes it all the more imperative that we leave now and get back on track.

Between us we got every thing left packed up and ready to go.  By the evening we had left the picturesque lake area behind us and set up camp to spend the night under the stars.

Day Sixty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The rest of the night was uneventful. With the dawn the wind died down. Since Lyle stood the last watch I let him sleep in.

I checked around outside. Nothing. Though the message was still on the door.

I brought in some wood to restock the fire and made some breakfast.

Then we prepared to set out as planned. After the briefest of discussions in which we again confirmed to one another our agreement to keep to the plan and continue on into the mountains, we shuffled the dirt from our shoes and hit the trail.

After the next valley and the following ridge, since nothing came to view, we knew we would again be camping out under the stars.