<> Dear Neighbor, I have picked up a stalker, of sorts. At least, a wannabe hanger-on. His name, he tells me (and others confirm it), is Reason. Pardon my surprise, but why would anyone name a child that? And, having done that, why would they let him grow up to be unreasonable?
He kept showing up and sitting with those of us who were keeping vigil with Ed, particularly when Ed was sleeping. He kept suggesting to GJ that he and I would be fine alone, but GJ - and the others from the disaster relief team - weren't having any of that. Thank goodness.
I think I was the last to pick up on the fact that he meant to try to lure me away from Ed.
Can you imagine?
I told him I was betrothed to Ed. He didn't know that word, or the concept. So I told him that it meant that we had promised to marry one another. He didn't seem to understand that, either.
The upside to that is that we now know part of what's wrong with this community. Around here, they don't marry. They just sin with one person, and then another, however it suits their fancy, apparently. At least most of them do. Some people are uncomfortable about it, but they seem to be held in scorn by the fornicators, who are numerous and domineering.
Anyway, Reason was upset that I was being so devoted to a man who 'couldn’t take care of' me, especially since he'd taken a notion to 'take care of' me. And he was getting increasingly belligerent about it.
So, on the theory that a man who is such a devil's spawn that he'd make advances not only toward a woman not his wife, but toward a woman promised to another man, is a man who would probably stop at nothing - and finding no help in our distress from local authorities - we have stepped up our plans to head home. In the meantime, we've moved all of the disaster relief team into one large room for sleeping, including Ed and me.
If Ed were better, I think we would have headed out this evening even though we would've had to camp on the mountain. As it is, we'll probably head out tomorrow. We'll have to carry Ed much of the way down, but it's looking like we might have to do that even if we wait a week or two, so we figure we might as well head out now.
We're not sure how much good the stretcher will do. Probably the men will have to trade off carrying him piggyback. On that score, I guess it's good that he's lost so much weight while he's been sick.
<> Dear Neighbor, GJ being GJ, last night he arranged with some others to quietly go around and talk to certain of the people who live here. He didn't find one actual Christian. He found people who were happy enough to call themselves Christian, but only because they believed in good manners, however good manners are defined locally; or else because it was a badge of sorts, a way of saying they didn't support the Topside government.
Some of them hadn't heard of Jesus Christ, and others only knew Him as the first philosopher to advocate for good manners! (This is wrong from so many angles I can't begin to tell you. Besides being a worthless view of Jesus, it also ignores all the pagan philosophers who tried to civilize humankind prior to His incarnation.)
This explains much, I think.
It might even explain the community leaders who showed up to check on Ed's progress this morning. Watching him limp along, with a bit of help from his friends, they said, 'Doesn't look like he's going to recover.'
We shrugged, and reassured them that we were still planning on leaving today, weather permitting.
(The mountaintop was, at that time, an island in a sea of clouds, and we were waiting a bit to see if the clouds would melt off.)
They looked at us like we were stupid children (not just children, but quite dense ones), and explained that there would be no more food or water for Ed, because that was the local policy. If we wanted to have a tidier finish, we knew where the burial pit was.
At this point, we jointly decided it was time to make a polite but prompt exit.
At that point, we found ourselves blocked in.
They assure us that they merely want to talk some sense into us.
We are not convinced.
Sensible, after all, would be to let us go. It's not like it's their food Ed will be eating, once we get him out of here. For that matter, he's only been eating from supplies brought in by our teams. For that matter, we've promised further supplies, so they don't even have a 'practical' concern to fall back on (not that a 'practical' concern would justify murdering a sick man, but at least there would be at least a shadow of logic to it).
This, however, seems to have no bearing on their thinking. Their thinking, as far as we can figure, is that if a person gets disabled, it's a good thing to kill him, and a bad thing to let him live, and they apparently think they need to force us to kill Ed ourselves. Can't have anybody showing compassion, I guess. Not that sort of compassion, at any rate. Gotta take an ax to that sort of conscience, I guess. When everything is said and done, darkness does hate light after all, I guess.
All I know for certain is that we're prisoners of the people we came up to help.
Naturally, though, I'm locked in a room that I think blocks all transmissions. There's no way we can send a plea for help just now, unless this miraculously gets through tons of dirt and rock somehow.
There should be another supply train up here within a few days, but there's no way of knowing when that might be, or whether they'll get suspicious if no one from our side comes out to chat while they're offloading.
Note to self: Next time, make sure you arrange ahead of time for 'communications silence' of a certain length of time to mean 'Help!'
Second note to self: If ever in charge of disaster supply trains, make sure that there's an iron clad policy that requires face to face communications with someone on the on-site relief team. Preferably with the provision that the on-site person comes out to the border, rather than the packer having to step into a possible trap.
On the upside, I'm seeing the integrity and faith of my fellow prisoners in a way I hadn't before. This is a good group of people. I am blessed to have them beside me.
An excerpt from Dear Neighbor, part of Notes From Hiding:
Just a 60-something American woman who's been writing for publication since 1979. I started out as a newspaper reporter, and branched out from there.