Chapter 7- Thy Rod and they Staff shall comfort me. From the novel “The 23rd Psalm,” a science fiction story about survival after a comet hits the Earth

Chapter 7-“thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”


Food supplies were running out and some decisions had to be made. There were no plants or trees growing on the inter-continental bridge. What the group needed was weapons for protection against other humans and beasts. Colonel Shepherd, and Retired General Mandel asked for volunteers to help make fish hooks, spears, bows, and arrows to help kill some fish to help with the dwindling food supply. They could not survive on the remaining food they had, and they needed a method for gathering food other than dragging the fishnets between two rafts. Most of the fish seemed to be large like Sharks, and Tuna but no one dared enter the ocean waters since the shore line dropped off quickly to a very deep bottom at the edge of the inter-continental land mass. The only success they had so far was in using fish nets dragged between two rafts. The larger fish were too big to pull in by net as evidenced by an incident where a shark was caught in the net, and the men on the raft were unable to pull the net in with the shark in it. Two men were almost pulled over the side of the raft trying to pull the shark into the raft. Spears would have been helpful, if they could have brought the shark along side the raft. The shark ate through the net in the end and escaped.

Another month had gone by and with an occasional rain; plenty of fish and seaweed, the community food supply had stabilized for the time being. Some of the Jewish and Christian community set about making large and small fish hooks out of fish bones. Others worked on weaving fishnets from old cloth and string that could be found. Spears were made from some branches that they had lashed to the rafts. The tips were hardened in a fire like the primitives did thousands of years before. Bows were made of flexible branches and tied with string strengthen with wax or fish oil. When all the fishing gear was completed a group of men went to the water’s edge, and threw in old garbage to attract the fish. At first they were unsuccessful, and no fish appeared. The second attempt they managed to collect some meat scraps of fat and sinew threw that in the water to attract fish. That got some small sharks circling the beach. A few spears missed the shark but eventually a spear to the exposed fin worked and a line with a grabbing hook on it allowed them to graft the shark and pull it into shore. They cut up the shark into small pieces and saved the inner organs to feed other fish on their next attempt. “Billy stay out of the water. Throw your spear when a fish surfaces,” Tim Dong Wo shouted. Marcus Green, Betty Samson and General Mandel were waiting on a rock outcropping that jutted out into the ocean for some fish to come to the surface to eat the food remains. Sure enough some fins broke the surface and a barrage of spears hit the water. Some connected and some spears missed. Using a string to retrieve the spears the community members were able to pull in their catch or retrieve their spear without having to enter the dangerous and deep waters.

The next day they tried to throw a net out into the water like the Hawaiians used to do thousands of years ago. It was trial and error and the net kept washing back into shore. The water was too deep to walk out into the surf so they put foam floats and plastic balls on the top of the net to allow it to float. Then they threw the net as far out in the surf as they could and waited for it to drift out with the outgoing tied. That worked and when they attempted to pull the net it they had to get more volunteers to help since they had netted hundreds of fish. It was a day of joyful bounty for the Lord had provided with rod and staff in helping to capture fish to survive. The two rafts pulling fishing net between them was still the most successful method of catching fish.

Colonel Shepherd and General Mandel called a community meeting of all seventy community members to discuss plans for survival and their future. “Before we begin let us pray to the Lord with Pastor Swift and Rabbi saying a few prayers of thanks and deliverance for all of us,” Colonel Shepherd asked the group. Everyone bowed their heads and Rabbi Grossman delivered a few prayers and then Pastor Swift. Everyone responded with AMEN at the end of each prayer.

The meeting began with General Mandel discussing their present situation as to food supplies, water, shelter, and safety. One of the major concerns is there was not enough wood to build shelters and everyone was exposed to the elements day and night. Fortunately, the climate was still warm and there was no immediate threat of cold weather or dangerous temperatures. “We must decide today what we must do to survive now and in the future and if there is to be any future for out generations to come,” Colonel Shepard pointed out to the community. “General Mandel and I have talked at length about what choices we have and we are presenting these choices to you tonight to decide what we will do as a community to survive,” Colonel Shepherd commented. “ As we see it we have a few options. The first option is to remain here in North American and continue to search for mountain islands that we can survive on. The problem about this choice is we do not know when the ocean will stop rising. It is possible that the oceans could rise above 9,000 and 10,000 feet above sea level and flood the majority of the surviving mountaintops. The second option is to try and cross the inter-continental bridge or landmass that we are on now in an attempt to get to the Hawaiian volcanoes and onto the Asian continent in search of higher mountains in China or the Himalayas south of China. There is no mountain chain in the world as high as the Himalayas as you know and that would mean long-range survival. The journey could take years and it is always possible we may encounter hostile humans at any point in time. We have armed ourselves with weapons for fishing and hunting as well as defense. Unfortunately, we have no modern laser guns or weapons so we must depend on centuries old weapons to defend ourselves in case we should be attacked. The third option is actually no option at all, and that is do nothing and remain here until the ocean recedes or until there is some sign from God as to what we should do. Eventually we would have to build shelters here, and except for the whale skin, we have little to make shelters with except whale bones and driftwood.” Colonel Shepherd finished saying. There was a lot of discussion in the community when they heard these options. Ida Grossman the wife of Rabbi Grossman spoke up first, “I for one would like to see my children have a future and perhaps grandchildren in generations to come. I think we have to assume the oceans will continue rising. It might take years or decades or longer for them to recede that doesn’t help us. I have prayed about it and I think we need a vision. We need a vision to continue on no matter what. When Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt they wandered for 40 years in the wilderness, but they never gave up. We have come this far and we know that few people have survived around the planet, so we need a vision to prepared our future. I vote to take all the time necessary to migrate toward the Asian continent to find higher ground and more food resources. Everyone in the community clapped after Ida got done talking. “Well said, Ida, “ said Colonel Shepherd. “Who else would like to speak?” he asked. “Colonel, I would like to say something, I am Betty Samson, and my husband died a few years ago. Had he been here he would have said keep going. From what I have heard on the ham radio this comet collision has completely changed Earth to a water world. Since we don’t have gills like fish we cannot live below the water like they do. We must seek higher ground for generations to come until the oceans receded. That is if they are ever going to recede. Thank you.” Pastor Swift spoke next saying, “I cannot help but feel that we are the chosen ones that God has selected to survive. It seems strange that only two religious groups of Christians and Jews survived in the western section of North America. Call it chance, but I call it a miracle that we survived. I agree with Ida that perhaps this is our voyage out of Egypt like the Hebrews did thousands of years ago. Perhaps this is out deliverance to new world and a new society when all else has been wiped out? I do not know all the answers but from what I can see here where we are staying, we cannot stay long. We will need more shelter and protection from the elements. None of us are used to being outdoors in primitive conditions in which we are now living. I suggest that we continue on toward the Asian continent no matter how many years it takes. It will give us a mission or a vision and allow us to find higher ground to survive.”

Others said their piece, and the discussion continued for hours. “And now my friends we must take a vote as to what we are going to do. Those in favor in staying in what was North America, and looking for mountain islands on our rafts, raise your hands. I count one, two, three in favor. Regarding option two, continuing on our journey to the Asian continent how many are in favor of that choice? 66 votes. No need to discuss the third option, we will continue across the inter-continental bridge to China and the Asian continent. Perhaps we will find other survivors along the way. Tomorrow we will make specific plans as to how we are going to transport our whale oil, food, and resources. Some of it will be put on the rafts that will sail close to shore as the rest of us walk over the volcanic rock and mud toward Hawaii. I always wanted to see Hawaii. I just never thought I would be walking to get there, ha.” Colonel Shepherd commented.

So the next day was the beginning of the great journey over an unknown landmass that supposedly stretched to the Hawaiian volcanoes and onto the Asian continent. After a few hours everything was packed on the rafts and two volunteers on each raft were to sail the rafts along the southern shore of the inter-continental landmass and stay in sight of the remaining group walking on land. There were no wheels to use or vehicles to carry goods so everything had to be carried on someone’s back or pulled on a sled. Walking over the lava rock was dangerous and a slow process so everyone had to be careful. General Mandel led the group and Colonel Shepherd brought up the rear group.

The heat, sun, and wind were very strong that day as a small group of adults and children climbed over lava rock and mud flats in search of higher land. The first day they got only ten miles before camping for the night. The rafts were called into shore and tied up for the night. The Jewish group met for evening prayers, as did the Christian group. After prayers everyone pitched in to prepare the dinner for the evening. It was the usual seaweed and dried fish and water. “If only they had flour they could make bread, Margaret Grossman, daughter of Rabbi Grossman,” commented to her brother Ben. Task groups were sent out to gather driftwood for the fires. Others helped to prepare blankets to sleep on for the evening.

As the sun rose the next day in the continually overcast humid sky the group quickly had some water and fish and the rafts were set sail and the journey was on again. They walked for four hours and then rested from the heat and broiling sun. Many needed fresh water because of their dehydration and had their rationed cup of water when they rested. General Mandel suggested they break up into two groups; a faster and lighter packed group would take the lead, while the slower group in the back would follow. This way the faster group could set up camp faster by the time the slower group arrived. The second day they traveled 20 miles and were exhausted from the slow walking over lava rocks big and small. The mud flats had to be avoided because they were like quick sand and dangerous to walk on. This only made the journey more dangerous and slower in travel time.

Each day was the same and after a month they had traveled approximately 600 miles by averaging twenty miles a day. Many of the community were injured, getting sick, blisters on their feet or dehydrated to the point of dizziness. Colonel Shepherd and General Mandel decided to let the group take a week’s rest before continuing. Everyone was tired and exhausted and rest was the thing everyone needed most. Doctor Greenspan was kept busy with all the medical problems that developed from walking over lava rock in the broiling sun, intense heat, strong winds, and fatigue.

As they recovered that week Colonel Shepherd sent out one raft to go ahead and scout the terrain and to see how far away the volcanoes of Hawaii really were. The community did not know that Hawaii was approximately 2500 miles from what was Los Angeles. Based on the walking speed of the community it would take four to five months to reach Hawaii. Everyday was similar to the day before. Occasionally, there was a small mountain they had to walk over which slowed the group down a great deal. Two deaths occurred from extreme dehydration and age. They were two 70 and 72 year old men that were not in good health to begin with. They could not bury them in the ground, so they were put in a plastic bag and buried at sea since they were Jewish and cremation was not an option. Their names

Were Ronald Goldman and Benjamin Lee Roth? Rabbi Grossman organized the funeral and everyone in the Christian community attended out of respect.

So the months went by and the community dragged themselves over the lava rock and mud flats for over 2500 miles. “Betty are you alright,” Marcus inquired. “Yes, I am just exhausted climbing over lava rock hills,” she said. “Anyone with any ailments should see me during the next break, “ Doctor Greenspan shouted out to the survivors as they walked by where he was standing. Elijah Ben Juda and Ben Gross had become closer friends as they too dragged their supplies behind them as well as on their backs. Elijah was not used to so much physical exertion, after all he was a cantor that used his voice to sing during Jewish services, not an athlete or marathon walker. Tim Don Wo, Xiaolin Tan, Marcus Green and Billy Mandor stayed together in a little group supporting one another with positive comments. “It isn’t far now, “ said Tim. ‘Yeah, just a few thousand miles,” Marcus commented with a sense of humor to his wit. Since Billy Mandor was only 16 he was a lot healthier than most of the older folk in the community. He was able to keep up the pace and encourage others to follow. Pastor Swift was feeling his age as was his wife since they were in their 60’s and not in good health. Judy Swift tired to keep a positive attitude despite the fact that she had blisters all over her feet and walking was most painful for her. She was determined not to quit, no matter what. Mary Moon and Colonel Shepherd chatted along the trek to keep their minds off the physical wear and tear on their bodies. Elizabeth Swift and Rob Swift her children were finding the heat and wind difficult and they secretly complained to one another how they could not go on, but they never told their mother or dad since they were the spiritual leaders of the Christian group. Numerous other members of the Jewish community and the Christian community suffered equally in the heat, wind, and sun that bore down on them everyday. Occasionally to cool everyone off they headed to the ocean shore where they poured ocean water on themselves to cool off. It was the only relief of the day. The heat and humidity was taking its toll and there were a lot of stragglers bringing up the rear of the group. Doctor Greenspan stayed in the rear group to help with medical problems and there were many problems. Every night a prayer group assembled in each Jewish and Christian community to pray for strength the next day and to build up their spiritual motivation to make this difficult journey to higher ground.

Five months later, the raft crews sighted a volcano in the distance. They signaled General Mandel that they had sighted a mountain or volcano.   The next day the community members could see Mauna Loa volcano rising up into the sky. Mauna Loa was about 13,680 feet above sea level in the days before the comet collision. Now only about half of Mauna Loa rose above the ocean waves. Mauna Kea was nearby in the distance, topping out at 13,800 feet above sea level by the old method of measurement before the comet collision. Mauna Loa was the first landmass that they had seen with green vegetation growing on it that they had seen since crossing on the inter-continental bridge. As they approached the huge volcano they had to climb up to a level they considered to be safe enough above the rising ocean waves. The view from the volcano was beautiful. “Colonel Shepherd, do you see the beautiful volcano? Billy exclaimed. “Yes, we can all see it Billy and it looks so green and lush compared to what we have been traveling over for so many months,” Colonel Shepherd exclaimed. When everyone saw the volcano in the distance they all fell down to the ground and prayed to God for delivering them safely. Fifty percent of the community was injured or sick and they were all going to need a long rest to recover. Later that day everyone in the community had caught up to the front group and arrangements were being made to camp in a green pasture area high above the ocean waves.

They could see the landmass in both directions from their campsite on the volcano. The only problem was the volcano was still active as evidenced by an occasional flash of hot rocks spewed up in the air. This made a lot of the people in the community very anxious. If it wasn’t for the volcano being active it might have been a perfect place to live.

So the first part of the great journey had come to an end, and the community was halfway to the Asian continent. Now it was a time for healing. The winds off the ocean kept the air a little cooler than it was when they first started their journey. A few ham radio messages confirmed that some groups in South America in the Andes had survived and in European Alps, and other high mountain ranges. The problem was every survivor group was trapped on their island unable to communicate with other survivors other than groups that had a ham radio. Other survivors were not as fortunate as the Judeo-Christian community in having use of empty oil drums to make rafts to sail the oceans. God had provided for this little Judeo-Christian community.

After having set up camp and searched for drift wood down by the ocean and deadwood on the volcano surrounding area, the community settled in to recover physically and mentally from their ordeal. General Mandel, Colonel Shepherd, Rabbi Grossman, and Pastor Swift met in a meeting to discuss their immediate plans. With so many of the community injured from traveling 2500 miles over volcanic rock and mud they knew they had to take a long recovery period on this volcano. Doctor Greenspan came to the meeting also to report on the extent of the injuries and what cases were critical and needed special treatment and rest. The leaders were shocked when they realized how really sick half the population was after their forced march journey. They all agreed to provide special shelters for the sick and injured first to allow them to recover. Close to the ocean on the lower portion of the volcano were many varieties of Palm trees and other types of vegetation that would prove useful for building shelters. Colonel Shepherd would be in charge of the cutting down of trees for shelters and General Mandel would supervise the fishing along the ocean and the use of rafts with dragging fishing nets to secure food. Edible plants were also a high priority and Rabbi Grossman and Pastor Swift volunteered to get people to help them search for any fruits or vegetables that they could eat that survived at this altitude on the volcano plain. The discussion lasted for hours in discussing immediate needs and long range plans. It was decided that they would remain for several months until everyone had healed and regained their strength. Everyone was agreed in resting as long as possible. Since there seemed to be no seasonal change of weather there was no fear of winter winds or cold weather so where they had arrived seemed suitable for now.

Search parties were sent out to see if any humans had survived on this volcano but after a week of search no one was found or any bodies either. Secretly a lot of people hope that they would find other human survivors but that did not seem to be the case.

The day after they arrived Mrs. Judy Swift, wife of Pastor Swift collapsed and Dr Greenspan was called to treat her. Her condition was unknown but seemed serious. Her temperature was high and she was running a fever. Dr. Greenspan tried to cool down her body temperature with wet rags on her forehead. Pastor Swift, and their two children Elizabeth and Rob waiting outside the shelter while Dr. Greenspan treated Judy Swift. As Doctor Greenspan came out of the shelter he said, “well I am trying to get her fever down which is very high. She may have some kind of bacterial infection? I am not sure at this time what is causing the fever. Give her fluids until tomorrow and I will check in on her again.

The next morning Dr. Greenspan and Betty Samson, who had once been a Nurse, came back to the Swift family shelter to check in on Judy Swift. “She has been up all night, moaning, “said Pastor Swift to Dr. Greenspan. “Let me take her temperature and blood pressure and see where we are today, “ Dr. Greenspan said. “Betty you can help me roll her over to look for any skin infections or redness, Dr. Greenspan said. After taking Judy Swift’s temperature, Doctor Greenspan gave her some water and fresh wet compresses to cool her off. “She doesn’t look good Betty, “ he said. “I don’t have any antibiotics or penicillin left to treat the infection, Dr. Greenspan commented. We are just going to have to wait and see if the fever breaks. As Dr. Greenspan came out of the shelter, Pastor Swift and Elizabeth and Rob rushed over to Dr. Greenspan to hear what he had to say about their mother. “I am afraid I don’t have good news. Her fever is high and I don’t have any more antibiotic medicine or penicillin left to give her. We are going to have to wait this out. Keep putting wet clothes on her head and keep her covered with a blanket. I will check in on her tonight.

That night Dr. Greenspan came back and Judy Swift was not conscious. She seemed to have slipped into a coma with a very high fever of 106. All he had to give her were some aspirins so he crushed up two aspirins and put them in a small amount of water in a cup and poured it slowly down her throat. Rabbi Grossman hearing of Mrs. Swift’s illness stopped by the shelter to say some prayers for Mrs. Swift and to tell Pastor Swift that he hoped she would soon recover. “She seems to be in the hands of God, Pastor Swift and I hope she recovers, “ Rabbi Grossman said in a soft tone.

When Rabbi Grossman returned to his shelter Elijah Ben Juda was they’re waiting for him. Rabbi I heard that Pastor’s Swift’s wife is very sick. It this true?” he asked. “Yes, she is near death,” Rabbi Grossman stated sadly. “Rabbi I had a vision of a women who was sick and needed my help. I saw her in my vision and I held her hand and she recovered,” Ben Juda said. “Do you really believe you have the power of healing Ben Juda?“ asked the Rabbi. “I don’t know Rabbi, it was just a vision, perhaps a dream or perhaps something real as in my past visions that came true,” said Ben Juda. “Perhaps we should visit Mrs. Swift tomorrow morning and see if we can ask for God’s mercy,” Rabbi Grossman said. “Fine, Rabbi, I will pray for her tonight and I will meet you early tomorrow morning and we will go together to her shelter, “said Ben Juda.

The next day Judy Swift looked like she was going to die. Doctor Greenspan felt there was nothing more he could do. The fever was still high and she was in a coma or unconscious and unable to open her eyes. Her skin was very pale and she did not look like she was going to survive the day. Rabbi Grossman came back again with Elijah Ben Juda and they said prayers for Judy, as did Pastor Swift also. Ben Juda sang some wonderful old Jewish songs as Rabbi Grossman beseeched God to cure Judy Swift. Elizabeth and Rob Swift joined in the small prayer group next to Judy’s body lying on a blanket on the ground. “Pastor Swift, may I reach out to your wife and hold her hand for a moment?” Ben Juda asked. “Sure if you think it will help, Pastor Swift replied. “Judy, Judy, it is I Elijah Ben Juda. Can you hear me? God has told me in a dream to reach out to you and hold you by the hand. Blessed be the Lord God. God I ask that you cure this woman and release the fever from her body. AMEN. “Thank you for that kindness Elijah,” said Pastor Swift. A while later Rabbi Grossman and Elijah Ben Juda left and returned to their shelters.

It wasn’t but an hour later that Rob Swift came running over to Rabbi Grossman’s shelter shouting, “My mother is well, it is a miracle, come and see.” They stopped by Elijah Ben Juda’s shelter on the way back to the Swift family shelter. They were all very excited. As they came to the Swift family shelter they went inside to see Judy Swift sitting up on her blanket looking perfectly healthy. “God Bless,” said the Rabbi. “Thank you Gentlemen, something Elijah did must have made a difference, she awoke ten minutes ago, open her eyes and sat up and said she felt fine and was hungry,” Pastor Swift said. Immediately afterward, Dr. Greenspan returned having heard that Judy was well. “Well I heard from Elizabeth that her mother was well and I am shocked and happy,” Dr. Greenspan exclaimed. “Let me check your temperature and pulse Judy,” he said. “Amazing, almost a miracle, her temperature is normal and so is her heartbeat. I never would have guess,” said Dr. Greenspan. “I will get her some food and water,” Pastor Swift said. They all walked outside the shelter marveling at her recovery. Pastor Swift told Ben Juda, “I think you have a gift Elijah, a gift from God. You cured my wife when she was on the verge of dying. Thank you, bless you Elijah. We will thank God in our prayers for your healing power.” Rabbi Grossman was also amazed but he had known before that Elijah had visions that came true, but he never suspected that Elijah would become a healer also.

So for the time being the beginning of a new era began on Mauna Loa Volcano for the Judeo-Christian community. After a month of rest, Betty Sampson, and Susan the other ham radio operator got a message in Chinese that they did not understand. They sent someone to get Xiaolin, and bring her back to the shelter where the ham radio was located. Xiaolin was of Chinese descent, but born in North America. She could speak Mandarin, and a few other Chinese languages she had learned from her parents. As the ham radio message came through again, Xiaolin wrote down the words in English from Mandarin. Bangzhu, shengcun, and Liao, which loosely translated meant “to help,” “”survive” and “end”. Xiaolin told Betty and Susan that the message was in a Mandarin dialect from somewhere in China saying “Help, us survive, soon.” Betty took this message to Colonel Shepherd, and General Mandel. “It seemed like some survivor group of Chinese were sending a message for help,” Betty told both men. They did not know where in China or the Asian continent the message was coming from, but they were relieved to know someone had survived in China and that might be good news. “We will continue to monitor the ham radio and use Xiaolin to help translate, “ said Betty. “Good let us know if you get any more ham radio broadcasts, “ said General Mandel.

The following week Elijah Ben Juda had another vision in his sleep. He saw arrows flying through the air and people being killed by Chinese people hiding behind rocks. It was a fearful vision full of dread. The following day he told Rabbi Grossman about his vision. This time Rabbi Grossman decided to share Ben Juda’s visions with Pastor Swift. They walked over to Pastor Swift’s shelter together, and asked Judy Swift if they could speak with Pastor Swift. “Come on in Rabbi a voice came from inside the palm covered shelter,” Pastor Swift called out. “Good day Pastor, Ben Juda, and I have something to discuss with you that we have kept a secret until now,” said Rabbi Grossman. “You are always welcome in our shelter Elijah as well as Rabbi Grossman, “Pastor Swift said. “What can I do for you?” he asked. Ben Juda then told Pastor Swift of his past visions, and how remarkably they had come true. He even told Pastor Swift that he had seen his wife Judy when she was sick holding his hand and recovering from her illness. Pastor Swift was amazed hearing this story from Elijah. In his most recent vision he saw arrows flying through the air, and some of our people falling down with arrows in their chest. This most recent vision foretold of hostilities with Chinese people and perhaps it was a warning from God?

Elijah had heard about the recent ham radio message that Xiaolin had translated as a Chinese survivor group asking for help in survival. Now his vision seemed to be more reliable. Rabbi Grossman, and Pastor Swift discussed visions, and God’s messages and how they were to be interpreted. They decided to share Elijah’s vision with Colonel Shepherd, and General Mandel. They sent Billy to get the Colonel and the General and have them come to Pastor Swift’s shelter immediately. When they both arrived, Pastor Swift told them what Rabbi Grossman had said, and what Ben Juda had seen in his most recent vision. He made it a point to explain that according to Rabbi Grossman all visions had come true. At first Rabbi Grossman admitted that he kept Elijah’s visions a secret because he did not at first believe he was having true visions. Rabbi Grossman explained that Elijah predicted finding the inter-continental land mass and seeing us sailing on the high seas.

Both Colonel Shepherd, and General Mandel were very surprised to learn that Ben Juda had been having visions that actually came true. The vision about the hostile Chinese might well come true, so they had to be prepared for an attack now, or in the future. As the word passed around the community everyone wondered how Ben Juda came to become a visionary. Prayers were said in the Jewish services as well as the Christian services for Ben Juda’s good health. Perhaps God was really on their side they all asked themselves?




Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: