Chapter 5-The 23rd Psalm

written by Dr. Pelham Mead

Chapter 5- “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name sake”

It was time to take a new path for survival, thought Pastor Swift. Maybe they could combine forces and join with their Jewish neighbors to a combined effort to survive long-range? A week after the meeting of the Jewish leaders, and the Christian leaders, Rabbi Grossman sent a small group of 5 men back to North Star Mountain to tell Pastor Swift that they had accepted his offer to combine resources, and help one another if they were forced to sail to higher ground.

One of the mothers in the Christian group took some of the seeds from a few rotten tomatoes, and planted them in the ground in the pasture near the village to see if they would grow. She watered the seeds everyday and with the increased heat and limited sunlight they grew into healthy tomato plants in less than two months.

December had come and gone. Christmas was nothing more than a religious ceremony but no one had a presents to give one another. Instead they prayed and thanked God that they had survived the great flood. For the Jewish group they celebrated Hanukah with prayers and services but no presents were exchanged, as had been the tradition.

January was upon them and the weather never changed and remained hot and humid everyday. It was the end of February when the Christian group noticed the ocean was rising faster than predicted. The threat of their village being flooded was becoming a reality that they must deal with. Some vegetables like tomatoes had grown in the past few months. Scavenging everyday at the island shore for food floating by or valuable supplies floating in the ocean tides.

Elijah Ben Juda was the cantor for the Jewish community who sang at all the services. He was a man of slight build, 5ft. 8” tall, thick long dark chestnut colored hair and a full beard. His large nose was a most distinguishing feature on his face causing his eyes to look close together. Ben Juda had a dream or a vision one night. He went to Rabbi Grossman the next day to share this dream. “Rabbi, I am not a man of visions, however, last night I had a most unusual dream or vision. I dreamt that the islands that we were on, and the Christians were under water .We were sailing west looking for other mountains to settle on. I saw a man of Chinese features with a strange looking hat on his head. He held his arms outstretched. Then the dream faded.” Ben Juda said. Rabbi Grossman thought about what Ben Juda said and then he whispered softly, “do not tell anyone else about your dream, it will only make them worry.” “Let us see if the Lord is trying to speak through you in the future,” said Rabbi Grossman. “ If you have any more visions or dreams Ben Juda come directly to me and no one else. Do you understand Ben Juda? ,“ asked the Rabbi. “Yes, Rabbi, I understand it sounds like I am going crazy. I will keep our conversation a secret, shalom Rabbi, “ said Ben Juda.  What troubled Rabbi Grossman was “were they doing God’s will and were they being lead in the path of righteousness?”

Pastor Swift worried about the same thing the Rabbi was worrying about, “were they as Christians doing God’s will, and following in the path of righteousness for his namesake?” It occurred to Pastor Swift that the verse in the 23rd Psalm seemed most appropriate at this time in their lives. “Staying on the path of righteousness for his namesake.” In a sermon that Sunday Pastor Swift asked the congregation to think about whether God had a plan and whether he was leading them “in the path of righteousness for his namesake.” As he quoted the verse from the 23rd Psalm.

On the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) that same weekend, Rabbi Grossman also mentioned the 23rd Psalm of David. He pondered the same question of following “in the path of righteousness for his namesake.” Perhaps God was trying to show both survivor groups, that he had not forsaken them. Just as God had spared Jonah from the whale in the Old Testament, and Noah from the great flood, perhaps he was doing the same with these two religious communities? They were approaching six months of survival after the comet collision. The skies were finally beginning to clear, but the heat remained and the humidity too.  The oceans had kept rising as predicted and it was inevitable that both communities would have to sail for high ground soon. Some of the women in the Jewish community made fishing net that they used between two rafts to catch fish. On their first attempt they caught hundreds of fish by dragging the net between the two rafts and sailing back and forth a few hundred yards off their island shored. The Christian community tried fishhooks and spears with limited success. The Jewish community sent some extra fish to the Christian community, and explained that a fishing net between two rafts worked very well. So, the Christians began to weave a fishing net they could use to catch fish. It took almost a week to complete the fishing net made from twine, clothe and wire they salvaged from junk that washed ashore. Likewise, when they dragged the fishing net between two rafts back and forth they caught hundreds of large and small fish. It was truly a bounty from God, and food that they needed badly to survive.

Finally there was enough fish to smoke some of it to prevent it from rotting and dry the rest in the sun by handing the cleaned fish on lines. There was very little to salt the fish with so they used local herbs that they found in the pasture near their village. Pastor Swift said his wife Judy, “Judy take charge of drying the fish so that we can have food that will not spoil.” “Sure, I will attend to it, “ said Judy. Elizabeth her 12 years old, and Rob her 10-year-old son offered to help dry fish also. The majority of the Christian community was busy drying fish to preserve it for the future. Each fish was fileted and then laid on rocks or strung from a line in the direct sunlight. Before night all of the fish had to be collected and stored to prevent any wild animals from eating the fish. Xiaolin and Marcus Green were busy monitoring the ham radio. “Xiaolin have you heard anything on the ham radio today/” Marcus asked. “No, there is no chatter today at all, “ said Xiaolin. “OK I am going to check with Judy the ham operator at Heavenly Valley Mountain and see what she has heard from other ham radio operators around the world,” Marcus said. Billy Mandor the 16-year-old boy was busy making a crossbow out of some saplings he had cut down. He had found some wire and string that he was using to help make the crossbow for hunting for food. 

The month of March was almost over, and April was a week away. The leaders of the Jewish community and the Christian community met again and made plans to evacuate their villages before the ocean waves flooded them. The plan was to leave in a few weeks when everything was packed up and there were enough rafts to hold all the people and supplies. Cloth covers had to be made to provide shade so everyone on the rafts did not dehydrate when they were sailing. The ham radio operator, Susan was still sending signals from Heavenly Valley Mountain. The plan was to sail south and rescue her, and then head West to find higher ground. 

In the middle of March, came the first storm they had since the comet collision with earth. Winds of up to 90 mph hit the islands and the waves rose over 50 feet over the shorelines of the remaining islands. Both communities were surprised by the sudden, and deadly storm. They quickly pulled the rafts up on higher ground, and secured them with rope to surrounding trees. Everyone hid in their shelters that day as rain poured down heavily, and winds buffeted the islands causing trees to drop branches, and the ocean to wash up high on each of the islands. The storm lasted a day and afterward there was a lot of damage to the shelters, and many items not tied down had blown away in the winds. Colonel Shepherd worried about being on the ocean, and getting hit by a storm on their meager rafts. The rafts were almost at water level, and any high waves would wash over the entire raft making sailing very dangerous.

Soon after the storm the ocean had risen so high than it threatening to flood both the Jewish settlement, and North Star Mountain settlement. The preparations had been ongoing for months in getting ready to set sail for higher ground and safety. On April 1st, 5661 the Christians set sail to join up with the Jewish rafts. The Christians had completed six rafts in all with 6-7 people onboard, and all their supplies. The Jewish group was a little smaller with only 35 people, and they built 4 oil drum rafts to sail their people to high ground.

The plan was to sail due south, and save the stranded ham radio operator at Heavenly Valley Mountain. The winds were strong that day the rafts move swiftly across the ocean toward Heavenly Valley.  Marcus Green kept charge of the self-charging ham radio that the Christian group had brought with them. He kept up communication with Susan the ham operator at Heavenly Valley. He told her they were coming to get her in a few hours, and to pack her stuff, ham radio, and be ready at the waters edge as they arrived from the north. The voyage only took a little over two hours with the rafts sailing downwind, and the wind at their backs. The Ocean was rising for high tide, and that helped speed up the rafts speed. As they approached a mountain sticking out in the middle of the ocean which they recognized it as Heavenly Valley Mountain. On the shore was a woman waving a red scarf. As they approach the island Colonel Shepherd signaled the other rafts to remain off shore as he guided his raft into the shore. “Slack the sail, “Colonel Shepherd called out to his crew. “Steady as she goes, now drop the sail completely and prepare the push-off sticks,” Colonel Shepherd commanded. The raft slowed as they approached the island. “Billy signal the other rafts to remain off-shore until we pick up Susan and then we will continue to sail westward,” Colonel Shepherd called out.

As soon as they brought the raft onto the shore Susan the Ham Radio operator was standing there waving a red scarf.  She shouted, “Oh thank God.” “Hop aboard,” Colonel Shepherd called out. “Hi there, I am Susan, here is my knapsack and ham radio. Be careful not to drop it. I put some plastic around it to keep it dry,” Susan yelled back. “OK, she’s aboard, push off and back to sailing,” yelled Colonel Shepherd. Marcus Green introduced himself to Susan, “Hi I am the guy you have been talking to and my name is Mark or Marcus Green. Welcome aboard Susan,” Marcus said.  “Boy am I glad that someone else is alive,” said Susan. “I hated living alone in an old ski hut without anyone to talk to,“ Susan commented.  “You’re OK now,” said Marcus. “Where are we going,” asked Susan. “Well we are sailing due west in search of high ground and safety. Eventually if we cannot find any suitable mountain islands that are high enough, we may continue to where the west coast of California used to be. We will be looking for the inter-continental landmass that you heard of from other ham radio operators, “ Marcus stated.

The waves were high that day as the rafts turned slightly into the wind, and headed due west looking for other islands. With the naked eye nothing could be seen that day after they picked up Susan. All the rafts were sailing in a cluster with the Jewish rafts off to the right and the Christian rafts on the left. The rafts seemed to be taking the waves fairly well and so far navigation was working fairly well. It was difficult to sail in a straight line however, because of the cross winds over the bow of the rafts. Five hours went by and still no sight of land. Garbage was floating everywhere and they had to avoid a lot of dead and decaying bodies in the water. About eight hours out on the ocean a small island was sighted off to the left. Colonel Shepherd signaled to the other rafts to steer toward the small island on the horizon. “Head toward that island, “ Colonel Shepherd called out to Tim Dong Wo who was at the tiller steering the raft. “OK Colonel, I am turning the raft toward the island,” Tim responded. There was an air of excitement on the raft for this was the only island they had spotted since they left Heavenly Valley Mountain.

The island must have been five miles or more away and it took them almost an hour to reach the island. As they reached the island, dead bodies were rotting everywhere and they were stuck in the trees and weeds around the shore of the island. They had to push the bodies out of the way with sticks. The approach to the island was full of rocks and treetops, so they had to cautiously approach the island’s shoreline. Once all the rafts landed on the island shoreline, they tied off their rafts and assembled on land to form a plan. General Mandel and Colonel Shepherd took charge and set up search parties to search the island for any survivors and a flat safe place for them to stay for the night. “Let us ask Rabbi Grossman and Pastor Swift to bless us with a prayer for our safe delivery to this island,” Colonel Shepherd asked. “Lord bless our community and watch over us and keep us safe, “ Rabbi Grossman prayed. “Amen,” everyone responded.

Meanwhile, others were delegated by General Mandel to unload the tents and food. The island was sparsely covered with Pine trees, and was very rocky. It must have been the top of a very high mountain jutting out of the water. This portion of the mountain was the part just above the tree line that explained why there were so many boulders and rocks. Colonel Shepherd and General Mandel assigned work groups and patrols to find level group further up the mountain.

After an hour most of the patrols returned. There was a lake in the middle of the island from melted snows probably and it was just over the ridge. Fresh water was something they needed so the decision was to hike over the ridge and camp near the lake and refresh their water supply. All seventy people began the steep climb up the mountain island toward the ridge that hid the view of the lake in the middle of the island. “Wow, a lake in the middle of the island,” exclaimed Billy Mandor. Mary Moon and Marcus Green were surprised there was a lake also. “The snow probably melted from the top of the mountain causing the natural lake, “ Mary speculated.

As everyone climbed up and over the ridge of the mountain the lake came into view looking like a mirror it was so beautiful. There was no evidence of any human survivors on the island according to the patrols that searched the island. After a ½ hour climb everyone descended into the canyon that surrounded the lake. Colonel Shepherd and General Mandel led the group and assigned tasks to everyone in the group when they arrived at the lake. 

“We need to collect fresh water to use and bring with us on the rafts, “Colonel Shepherd commanded. General Mandel instructed some of his community to get busy preparing a meal for everyone for the evening. They would use the dried fish and some greens to create a soup for everyone. Judy Swift and her two children Elizabeth and Rob 

The water seemed to be fresh and pure, so they loaded up their containers with all the water they could carry. There weren’t enough trees to create shelters so the community slept under the stars the first night. Marcus and Judy were monitoring the ham radio and they receive several messages from a few survivors on other mountaintops on White Face Mountain in New York State, the Andes mountains in South America and the Himalayas in Tibet. Again they had a confirmed report about the inter-continental landmass connecting the North American continent with Northern China. Marcus reported these messages to Colonel Shepherd and Genera Mandel.

Feeding seventy people with soup is no easy task but the community was in good spirits and still positive about their future survival. Many of the Jewish community got to know the members of the Christian community as they sat around the fires and talked about the old days before the comet collision.

That night Ben Juda had another vision which he shared with Rabbi Grossman the following morning. “Rabbi I had another dream,” said Ben Juda. “What was it about this time Ben Juda?” Rabbi Grossman asked. “I dreamed that we walked across the entire Pacific Ocean on a land mass that connected North America with the Asian continent,” he replied. “So you too believe there is a continental bridge to Asia, “ Rabbi Grossman commented. “Yes, I truly believe that this reported land mass actually exists, “ Ben Juda responded. “I am going to share your visions with Pastor Swift this time, rather than keep it a secret,” said Rabbi Grossman. 

An hour later Rabbi Grossman approached Pastor Swift who was busy taking inventory of the remaining food. “Good morning Pastor Swift,” Rabbi Grossman greeted Pastor Swift. “Good morning to you Rabbi,” responded Pastor Swift.  “ We need to talk Pastor,” Rabbi Grossman responded. “Sure, sit down and let’s talk, “ said Pastor Swift. “Pastor Swift what I am going to share with you is a sensitive secret, “Rabbi Grossman said. “You probably met Elijah Ben Juda my cantor. He has been having visions, and at first I doubted his new found spiritual visions, but now he has had some visions again.  So far they have become true and that is very strange, “ said Rabbi Grossman. “What do you make of the visions,” asked Pastor Swift.  “I don’t know Jim but I am concerned and confused at the same time, “ said Rabbi Grossman. “I mention this to you because he may be a visionary and he may be just confused. I do not want to cause problems spiritually between our two communities so I am keeping this a secret for know unless Ben Juda has more visions and they appear to come true, “said rabbi Grossman. “I understand,” said Pastor Swift. “I appreciate your sensitivity to this issue, “ said Pastor Swift. “We will keep this secret for now but keep me informed if Ben Juda has anymore visions,“ pastor Swift commented. “Yes, I will keep you informed. Excuse me now I have to return to my people, “ rabbi Grossman responded.

The two communities met the second night on the island to decide what to do about the future. The island they found was too small to support their community and other than the lake it had very few natural resources. Many community members suggested they return to sailing west to find better higher ground. Colonel Shepherd, General Mandel, Rabbi Grossman and Pastor Swift took the recommendations into consideration. It seemed inevitable that they would eventually have to return to sailing west to find higher ground or the inter-continental land bridge to the Asian continent.

After much discussion the communities voted to return to the sea and sail west to try and find higher ground of the inter-continental land bridge the ham radio operators say existed. Travel to higher ground in asia or the Himalayas seemed to be the safest long-term resolution. The group set sail on the fourth day from the little island and sailed west.

Published by skyking119

Professor of Instructional Technology, Doctoral degree in Educational Administration from Columbia University-1993. Worked at NYU, St. Johns Univ., The College of Mount Saint Vincent, and the NY College of Osteopathic Medicine. Currently, College Tutor and published Novel writer specializing in Historical Fiction. In the works, Sister Angelina CIA Nun, The Night is a Child (a mystery story of Africa), and The Personal Diary of Anne of Cleves, 4th wife of King Henry VIII.

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