Day Four Hundred Sixty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The fasting and the time apart proved effective for me. I can truthfully say that my mind did not wander once.

Towards the end of my watch I sighted a light in the darkness in front of us. Tomas answered my call, and after observing it himself, judged it to be on land.

Based on that knowledge the Captain ordered the ship to hold up offshore until morning. And had the watch tripled.

The source of the light proved to be a village. We warily watched as one of their boats came out to us.

As it turned out the Captain was acquainted with the person in charge. And he soon agreed to transport some of their tin and bauxite.

Day Four Hundred Sixty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Before the course change last night Tomas went to the Captain’s cabin and woke him up. The Captain had guessed already the motivating concern of his First Mate’s visit. And told him that it was more likely that the robotic warship was a bigger threat to them than the rumored pirates. The Captain reiterated the order. On leaving Tomas successfully begged him to double the watch.

Or so Elijah related to me this morning.

Having little to do myself I sought Tomas and volunteered to stand additional watches. He accepted my offer and took a few moments to run down what I should be alert for – small, fast-moving boats with a few armed men.

I hope they stay away.

Day Four Hundred Fifteen #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The base camp for the drone may have been found, but that left some questions unanswered; such as, who placed it there – who tended it – and are they still in the vicinity.

It had occurred to me that it may not be just one individual. Elijah supported my supposition and advised setting a watch on the accesses to the promontory heights. The Purser made the assignments.

I again went out to finish my canvass of the settlement. But instead of Mawuli, Elijah accompanied me. (So I surrendered his staff back to him).

We were at the furthest reaches of the camp when Elijah raised his countenance and his staff to the sky. And a flaming star fell from its height.

Day Four Hundred Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We are exhausted. I believe we got better than a day’s march in. So we are very close to the end of this wilderness. Perhaps by midday tomorrow.

There are now indications that a great number of people have passed this way. Such a fact goes a long way to explain why we have had no sightings of wild beasts. They have fled deeper into the wilderness.

I will take the first watch while Elijah turns in. Throughout the day our discussions revolved around what may lie behind us. So my vigilance will be focused in that quarter. And not simply because we believe Stan will eventually follow us.

We have passed by sojourners from the west bearing the mark.

Day Three Hundred Fifty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Upon stepping onto the bridge, we were greeted by the Purser, not the Captain. He had stood watch the entire night, and was beside himself about the prolonged absence.

He was at the point of deputizing me to take the watch and dragging Elijah along with him in search, when the Captain was returned under armed guard.

His countenance was combustible, but he calmed down enough to give us a rundown. Because the First Mate bears the mark he has been given undisputed claim to the grain ship, and because the Captain won’t take the mark we are being expelled with these guards to accompany the shipment.

But the Captain swears that he won’t leave without a new first mate.

Day Two Hundred Seventy Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

It would have been a quiet night in the square if not for the revelers at midnight. They appeared intent on hassling anyone in their path. Catching sight of us they came straight for us in a booze fueled fury.

Elijah stood to his feet and around the rock of his presence the subhuman tide split and fell to fighting amongst themselves.

We were not bothered the rest of the night, though we did take turns on watch.

With the dawn we took note of which residences surrounding the square did not disgorge any occupants. The second such house as it turned out belongs to Sy’s parents.

They invited us in. And listened eagerly to the news about their son.

Day Eighty Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Steady climbing today. The notch the path is aimed at is in clear view.

We had an alert from Rufus. Something was nearby just out of sight. Lyle checked and did find some tracks. He thinks they’re from a bear. But they were headed away from us. My opinion anyway.

We’re both agreed that we’ll need to secure our foodstuffs over night. And set a watch. And launch a drone.

The last was my idea. But Lyle says it can’t and won’t be his. I guess if I feel that strong about it it’ll have to be mine.

After giving it some more thought I decide not to.

Another night of watchfulness. Yet so good to rest all our aches.

Day Seventy Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Lyle was no where in sight when I awoke this morning. He had the last watch. All was peaceful at the hand over, no hint of any problem. So I had no immediate reaction, thinking that he was simply out of sight by necessity. And not far off.

I went for a quick walk about. Still no Lyle, but all peaceful.

That is, until I went back into our tent. Rufus and Clarissa were raising an unholy ruckus.

They calmed the minute they saw me.

I then noticed that both drones were gone from their places. I was thinking that he wanted to check out the village but needed to cross the bridge and get closer. I decided to follow.

Day Sixty Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I rushed out the front door and Lyle followed. Nothing was there that either of us could see. Lyle flashed his light this way and that and still nothing.

I began to think that it was just a chance occurrence, like a tree limb falling or something.  The wind was still running fresh. The only sound outside was its mournful moan rising and falling with its intensity. But here again definitely not human.

We decided to head back in.

And there it was on the door – scrawled in large letters – GO BACK THE WAY YOU CAME.

Startling, but we shrugged it off quickly after Lyle opined that it was pure intimidation – all bark, no bite.

I stood the first watch.

Day Sixty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We have now completely examined all of the village’s buildings. We indeed are all alone.

We have packed all that we deem useful, leaving much that is too bulky or unwieldy.

I proposed that we spend one more night before taking to the trail again. My proposal was agreed to.

The wind kicked up as the sun went down. It felt good to be indoors. And with a fire in a fireplace.

We turned in after supper, but kept to the floor. Lyle can’t sleep on anything else, and I don’t want to get used to not roughing it.

We decided to suspend our times on watch. Not a good decision as it turns out. For the night went bump.