Day One Thousand One Hundred Sixty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Word about our intended mission spread throughout the hiding place and we soon had more volunteers than necessary, or, frankly, desirable.

Elijah and I had already selected two to accompany us – Quasimo and Reuben. So the others were all disappointed. I did encourage each one to commit to the all important labor of intercession, and received encouragement myself when they answered in the affirmative.

We made our way North. Knowing that our expedition would take up a few days we kept an easy pace. Especially climbing out by the remaining path in that direction.

We stayed well away from the main road, observing the traffic thereon – mostly tanker trucks.

Reuben found us a nice sheltered spot to pass the night.

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Day One Thousand One Hundred Sixty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I understood Elijah’s decision. It was a nod to the concern held by the majority within the hiding place. Though I was willing to go along, I felt that a latitude should be granted to those who will operate the drones to utilize them when and where necessity dictates.

I insisted that he and I go out with Quasimo on a test run. We chose to take a peek at Damascus.

We put some distance between us and the hiding place before launching.

Though the city was small in the viewfinder, a stream of activity was clearly discernible going in and out – unmistakably tanker trucks.

On the way back, Elijah asked if we could take a look at Jerusalem tomorrow.

Day One Thousand Fifty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Elijah took us up to the heights above the redoubt where Sy used to station his sentinels. The magnificent view from which was made all the more so by the beautiful day dawning upon us.

In the far distance I could make out what I took to be tanker trucks plying back and forth on a plain.

I took the time to note the lay of the land from here to there and asked Sy about the best routes.

During this endeavor two figures appeared down on the road that we came in on.

Sy remained in place while Elijah and I went down.

Recognizing them at the last we hurried down the road to greet the Captain and Mei.

Day One Thousand Forty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Though we took to the trails upon the hillsides, we kept to those which held a view of the road, for we wanted to confirm the warnings of our erstwhile ‘defender.’

We did not discover what he was talking about until this morning.

There was a rather large encampment straddling the road. And as we sat watching we indeed saw army convoys being let through and civilians being turned back. Which made us wonder if the tanker trucks were operating any longer beyond this point.

Elijah and I then decided to turn our faces to the hills, as we had little reason to keep the road in view.

Before we did, I noticed a patrol set out in our direction.

Day Nine Hundred Seventy #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I knew before Elijah told me that we would be going out westward to check for the Purser and his band. It was all the more logical since they were originating from that quarter.

But first we saw the others off, counseling them to stay together until the staging yard for the tanker trucks. Elam and Magwich would continue on to the Galilee from there, and if the army’s presence doesn’t prevent it, Jezer and Reuben may be able to go on short runs in and around Damascus to check that area. Otherwise they’ll go on foot. Jezer knows what to do.

And we will be leaving the hiding place under the capable direction of Meesa and Mei and Quasimo.

Day Nine Hundred Sixty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The news brought by Jezer and his companions was grim, but not unexpected. Damascus has turned into an armed camp, the focus of hundreds of army units flooding in from the countryside roundabout. (Many, I am sure, we saw on our way here).

Jezer had more challenges than usual getting back here with his tiny flock, but he has his ways. And it certainly helped having the clearances that come with driving tanker trucks obtained through Elam’s influence.

Elijah questioned them closely about what they had seen and heard. I could tell he was sifting for any leads on the Purser. I took more time with them afterwards to explain what finding these people will mean to all of us.

Day Nine Hundred Fifty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Magwich took me up to the tower, so I could see over the wall. I wanted to be there when the tanker trucks came through the outer gates into the army compound.

We expected them first thing this morning, but were still waiting as the sun reached its zenith.

I would have gone down earlier but I was enjoying Magwich’s company. We had much to discuss. He was particularly interested in all my travels.

Reuben interrupted us with the news that the army had been called out. I went to the overlook and there down by the gate, Elijah and a couple of the guards swung the gate open, allowing the tanker trucks to enter.

By night we were underway.

Day Nine Hundred Fifty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Thus we learned how the other groups had been spirited out of the prison. They had climbed into the emptied tanks of the tanker trucks and been driven out in broad daylight.

Our trio of rescuers reported that the first contingent of prisoners is now safely at the hiding place.

By mutual agreement the balance of Raj G’s group were taken out today, and the trio will return in two days to ferry the guards out.

Elijah and I are waiting to accompany them at that later date.

And we hope to redeem the time until then by pouring into the lives of the guards. They have so much to unlearn. It calls for the greatest patience – something Elijah has.

Day Nine Hundred Fifty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I awoke this morning with a song bubbling up from within. Its tune, the same as that given to me two days before Elijah and I met the Raj family. And the one they were singing at the moment our paths crossed.

This coupled with what Elijah shared with us yesterday sent shivers of excitement through me.

I ran to tell Elijah. And found him with Reuben and Magwich. I just barely finished my explanation when a guard interrupted us, jabbering about needing our presence in the delivery area of the prison.

Three tanker trucks had pulled into the prison and were pumping out their contents into the water cisterns.

The three drivers greeted us – Jezer, Elam, and Raj G.

Day Eight Hundred Fifty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We no longer had the road to ourselves. People passed us by in both directions. With the desert behind, small clumps of civilization were huddled around wells and their denizens were going about their business from place to place.

No adults paid us any attention. Only the children in the villages threw themselves in our path. But turned away when they saw we had nothing to give them.

We also had to watch out for vehicles. The best walking was on the paved road, but not when they came by. Especially the tanker trucks delivering water to out of the way places. We never saw them in villages with wells.

We were both silent preparing ourselves for the ordeal ahead.