Day One Thousand Two Hundred Thirty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Had we entertained beforehand the thought of going to Damascus, we would have changed our minds when the city came into view. It was a city no longer. What was left was little bigger than a village. A village broken down and smoldering.

I had a flash of concern for our people in the hiding place. And wondered if what befell Damascus had spread its impact that far afield.

Elijah spoke up and put my mind at ease with his assurances.

Tomas, soon after, diverted us onto another path and what was left of Damascus slipped from our view.

I wish I had talked once more with Tomas before he and the Captain took the lead and departed this life.

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Day One Thousand One Hundred Forty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Just as Elijah had forced us on day and night, so now that we have reached the village at the edge of the wasteland, he has forced us into a prolonged rest.

The village is still deserted, yet strangely, any vestige of the sentry camps at either end have all been removed.

We had our pick of accommodations in the inn off the square. Reuben took the first watch and the one after that. To me the heaviness of desolation hangs over the place. Reuben felt this keenly too, a fact he confessed to me when I relieved him. And the reason he took the two shifts. I think he dreads the thought of closing his eyes in this place.

Day Nine Hundred Seventy Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Off to our right a fire burned the night through. We kept walking longer than usual, able to do so by its far reaching illumination. Elijah and I, our thoughts filled with concern for Tomas, had one dominant thought between us – we wanted to get to the rendezvous point as soon as possible.

And we did.

But being early only meant we had longer to wait. A plus to Elijah’s way of thinking. He settled into a time of rest, of focus, of communion with the Spirit. It was an effort, but I followed his example soon after.

And that is how Tomas found us. He was early also. He had rushed lest we worry he had been taken prisoner.

Day Nine Hundred Seventy Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We continued our journey through the desert while Tomas inspected the villages along the road. We agreed to reconvene in the desert to the east of the last village two days hence.

Elijah thought that the day after should land us at the crossroads where we first met Jezer. At that point we could decide whether to  return on the side to the west of the road, or retrace our steps to Babylon.

Our discussion out of the way, we trudged on in silence. But now a new thought was stewing in my mind.

Finally, I asked Elijah why we just did not wing to Babylon on the Spirit to check my hunch.

He replied that he had already asked.

Day Eight Hundred Forty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

More barking. And not just one or two. The thought that a pack may be trying to work up the courage to attack caused us to greet the morning with thankfulness.

We stood down in a valley between two ranges of dunes. We were pleased to see that our hill had gained in stature, in great part due by comparison, I am sure, to our position within this sort of valley.

Elijah pointed down its length and said, “Tomorrow we shall turn the corner.”

On my watch I resolved to rein in my excitement at the new step ahead of us. I knew if I were to fail, it would only eat away at me and sleep would be impossible.

Day Eight Hundred Sixteen #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I had been dwelling on the thought that Elijah was entertaining the idea of taking ship from this port, but perhaps that was just my nostalgia for our times at sea with our old friends Tomas and the Captain.

My hopes rose, when Quasimo’s route took us into this section, dense with warehouses bordering the docks. He has been most careful to keep us from unfriendly notice. But with the side effect of circuitous and slow progress.

When we settled in for the evening Quasimo presented several options for tomorrow. The best one in his estimation will take us east out of the megapolis, hence in an opposite direction from our desired destination.

We surprised him when we both concurred.

Day Eight Hundred Twelve #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

While now we saw the cage with which Stan thought he could contain us, I was left wondering by what means he meant to neutralize us. By that I meant, kill us.

I no more expressed that thought out loud when Elijah motioned me to be silent.

He turned and announced to the empty room, “You can come out now.”

A diminutive man did so.

He’d been ensconced behind a sliding panel in an alcove behind the podium of the audience chamber. His hands held high, and one holding a dagger. As he advanced he let it fall harmless to the floor.

Having observed us the past few days, he had decided to defy his master and help us instead.

Day Six Hundred Ninety Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We hadn’t realized it. We’d been traveling for over an hour without any contact of any kind along the road. Soldier or peasant.

The Captain spoke up first. He had a feeling that he could not shake off. An oppressive sense of impending danger.

Our surroundings had changed subtly. From open country to something else that none of us could describe.

After the Captain shared his apprehensions he suddenly blurted out the thought that perhaps Tomas was being held by the great army to our north.

Elijah stood there and smiled at him, then he turned to me and said that the time had come to turn our steps towards the center of the valley to seek our friend Tomas.

Day Six Hundred Eighty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We arrived in an area at a lower elevation – and less cold. The advance units of the army had disappeared further down the pass and the main body had marched into view.

They moved more swiftly than before. At the double quick.

At first I wondered how long they could maintain that pace, but then I was struck by perhaps a more important question – why.

Tomas chimed in with the thought that they may have discovered evidence of their enemy’s presence back in that defile.

Our discussion on this topic was interrupted by the Captain who brought the news that we were not alone on the trail.  He had found tracks on our path that merged onto it from above.

Day Four Hundred Ninety Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We made some unsettling discoveries after the truck sighting. It effected our choice of shelter and our security consciousness.

Detritus in front of one building led us to surmise that the truck had been positioned outside. We entered. In Elijah’s evaluation it was a temple of some kind. I had the same thought, but was puzzled at its barrenness. But then with that truck, its contents could have been carted away easily.

Then around in a candle lit alcove the image of Stan looked benignly down upon us.

We left immediately and looked for a place to rest far away from that edifice.

A fitful day passed with frequent watch changes.

Come night we shook its dust from our feet.