+JMJ+ Welcome to part 28 of A Journey. The Council has removed Rachel from their prison, but where is she? Jonah and his Good Samaritan head out to rescue Rachel, but they will have to elude capture themselves.
And now the journey continues.
A Journey – Part 28
Fifth Day for the Third Time, Thursday
Against my will, against my better judgment–for I do not trust him–I put myself in the hands of this man I do not know and set off with him to rescue my sister, now held somewhere outside the Sanhedrin prison. I did not know about the prison or this place. How many other secrets are there? What else gone on under my nose?
We made our way into the desert and made good time, unburdened as we were with supplies or baggage. This worried me at first until we reached what I can only describe as a hidden oasis. Not what one would usually think of as an oasis, to be sure, but a small cave out of the sun with food and drink enough for two travelers and their beasts stashed there. I would not call it a feast but I was more than glad to have it. The little spring in the rear of this cave makes a pool large enough for the animals to drink as much as we can allow them before we have to continue our journey. In all my travels in this area I have never stumbled upon this cave before. I am not surprised. I said earlier that no one could know them all.
Just before we left the sheltering cave, I asked my rescuer his name. Raphael, he said. When he told me I thought he was joking but, no, that really is his name, he assures me. Raphael. I half-believe him, but only half.
We were heading further and further into the desert. When I asked Raphael why, he said, “To fool him,” indicating the path behind us. I turned to look, or was going to, when Raphael stopped me with a gesture. “Do not let him know that we know he is there. They will have men stationed in the hills along this valley. We will let them see us travel along here before we turn.” “Turn where? Where are we going?” But he would say no more.
I fought the urge to turn and stare at our follower and once I nearly saw him out of the corner of my eye. He dodged behind an outcropping, and none too soon and none too gracefully. On another occasion I would have been amused but on this one, I was much too uncomfortable and too worried about Rachel to be amused for long. I kept thinking of her sitting in a cell, waiting for her brother to finally come rescue her. I could see her eyes, pleading with some stone-hearted jailer to have mercy, to let her go free. And the anger in me burned. I will find you, Rachel, I will be there soon!
As we continued on the path our way was suddenly blocked by Roman soldiers. They began jeering at us and demanded that we dismount while they went through the few supplies we had brought with us from the cave. Inwardly I cried when they poured the wine onto the thirsty ground. They shoved Raphael to the ground and then me and kicked dust into our already dusty faces. But I would not show any emotion to these barbarians, and I am proud to say that Raphael did not allow emotion to show in his eyes or in his voice, either. He answered when they asked him where we were going, betraying no fear or anger. They took this as a further sign that they were right all along in not thinking of us as human. I began to loathe them more than I already did and I had not thought that possible.
The soldiers took us to their camp on a small hill, and as we entered the leader’s quarters, I managed to see the Council spy skitter away along the valley floor below, to tell them, I am sure, that we have been captured and were no longer–what? A threat? I have almost ceased to care what any of them think. I do not care what these Romans think, either, they are only getting in my way and slowing me down. I care about one thing and one thing only. Rescuing Rachel.
Now if only someone would rescue us.
As if on cue, a loud crash sounded outside and then we heard many voices and the clattering of metal on metal. There was a fight going on! Some Zealots were attacking the camp, and in the confusion we made our escape without ever having to answer questions or even pay a bribe, which I could have done but am glad I did not have to. I may have need of all the money I’m carrying once we reach our goal.
We jumped on two of the rested-looking animals and took off into the desert once more. No one followed us this time. Roman hands were full trying to survive the surprise attack. Zealot hands were full trying to slay their enemies. Our spy had run away. We traveled in freedom but still as hurriedly as we could go.
I noticed that we had turned from our earlier direction and were headed north. This had been our destination all along. The earlier path was merely a ruse to throw our pursuer off our trail. Now we road as far as we could before stopping. We made no fire that night. We were fugitives now from Roman law, having stolen two horses and the tack that was on them.
To tell the truth, I have not investigated the horses or their tack. All I can think about is that things have become more complicated and in a short amount of time. Now the Sanhedrin was searching for us–I am sure the ruse in the desert will only delay them for a short while. The Romans will be searching for us to retrieve their property and to teach us a lesson and make an example of us. And the tentmaker, who does not care much for me anyway, will be only too happy to add another Pharisee to his list of fugitives to track down and return to the Council in the name of justice.
With a start I remembered that I left him in the Galilee in Capernaum.
Where the missing dead rabbi’s followers, including his sorrow-eyed mother, were headed.
Where Nico and Joseph were spotted.
Where Raphael has just told me that Rachel is being held.
And where we are headed now.
The Sanhedrin will never believe that I am not one of the rabbi’s followers now, no matter how I much I protest. They do not know and would not believe how much I wish I had never heard of the man, and that I wish I had never let Rachel out of my sight. If she does not get us both killed, I will marry her off to someone who will have nothing to do with this insanity. Perhaps her husband will be able to tame her.
But first I have to stay alive long enough to find you, Rachel. And I hope you stay alive long enough, too.
Forsake me not, O Lord my God:
do not thou depart from me.
Attend unto my help, O Lord,
the God of my salvation.
End of Part 28
Other parts of the story are linked on the Fiction page.
Scripture quote: Psalm 38:22-23, JPS Tanakh 1917, public domain. (Most of the Christian Bibles I looked at have the verses numbered one off from the JPS version, verses 21 and 22 instead of 22 and 23.)
Nota bene: All through this draft I have taken liberties with what I have found out about first century Judea, Jerusalem, Romans, the Sanhedrin, Essenes, and everything else in my research for this story. And I’ve made up a lot (most) of it, all of which is subject to change in the re-write. Just sayin’. Names may even change. I dunno yet. That’s half the fun of writing: seeing what comes to me and what appears on the screen in front of me. No one is more surprised than I am that anything at all has appeared. ;) And, no, all this stuff in the intro and the outro are not part of the word count. That’d be cheating and one only does that during NaNoWriMo, according to the handbook. ;)
Thank you for visiting and reading. Things are heating up. :) We’re at the 67% mark now. Whew! And woohoo! Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy, and remember, we are all on the journey to the heavenly city. So pick up your cross daily and follow Him, so you can become who you were meant to be: a SAINT! May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Image in the cover: From the east, Nazareth, Holy Land, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.