NRA: It was the worst of books

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist: pp. vii-1

Every book in the Left Behind series begins with a prologue summarizing “What Has Gone Before.” This is good to know because it means you can skip ahead to Book 12 and just read the prologue instead of slogging through the horror of the previous 11 volumes.

The prologue here in Book 3 presents a challenge for Jerry Jenkins. How do you recap what happened in Tribulation Force when nothing actually happened? Those who joined in our tour of Book 2 here will recall that the first 400 pages are uneventful, then the story abruptly skips ahead 18 months to the outbreak of World War III. That’s the book: 400 pages of treading water, then “18 months later” and our heroes get stuck in traffic only to discover, second-hand, that Washington, New York and London have been destroyed.

Jenkins’ recap of the previous book is almost entirely focused on those final 50 pages — paying particular attention, of course, to the enormity and inconvenience of the traffic jam. Here is nearly all of what he writes to sum-up the earlier four-fifths of that book:

Rayford, Chloe, and Buck, along with their mentor — young pastor Bruce Barnes — become believers in Christ, calling themselves the Tribulation Force, determined to stand against the new world leader. Nicolae Carpathia of Romania becomes head of the United Nations seemingly overnight. And while he charms much of the world, the Tribulation Force believes Nicolae is Antichrist himself.

Through a bizarre set of circumstances, both Rayford and Buck become employees of Carpathia — Rayford his pilot; Buck, publisher of Global Community Weekly.

This helpfully reminds us of key aspects of both the setting and the plot of these books.

Regarding the setting, it shows again that this story of “the end of the world” isn’t about the end of this world, but of the end of a fictional world very much unlike our own. In this fictional world, becoming the “head of the United Nations” means becoming the most powerful person on earth. The UN, in these books, is a kind of planet-wide federation to which every nation — except the United States and Israel — belongs in the same way that the American states belong to one, united nation.

This framework is never stated outright, but it is assumed and implied because, apparently, this is how Tim LaHaye understands the actual United Nations. This is what he thinks the name “United Nations” means — just as he seems to think that the word “Christianity” refers to a kind of cheerful maltheism. In LaHaye’s mind, this is how the world works. He seems to think that Ban Ki-Moon has more power than the actual president of a country like Romania — that Ban has more power in Romania and over Romania. In LaHaye’s imagination — and thus in his fictional world in these novels — the UN secretary-general outranks every actual head of state, with the various presidents and prime ministers of every nation obediently answering to the secretary-general. This is, of course, radically different from the actual United Nations — a mostly toothless international diplomatic gathering with a figurehead diplomat whose minimal influence comes mainly from issuing strongly worded statements that the world is free to ignore.

The point here is that LaHaye’s UN is radically different from the real UN in a way that makes his supposed “Bible prophecies” more possible and plausible. This is true of all the ways in which the fictional world of these books differs from our own. LaHaye can’t imagine changing his prophecies to make them even remotely possible in this world, so instead he changes this world into one in which his prophecies might have a chance. Sometimes this requires a massive revision of the structure and function of institutions like the UN. Other times it involves something even more radical — such as rewriting human nature to eliminate parental affection, national pride and religious devotion.

The world of these books bears some resemblance to our world — but only at the most superficial level. It’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of familiarity due to all the recognizable names and places. You recognize words like “Chicago” or “Israel” or “United Nations” and assume you know what they mean here. Don’t be fooled. The world of Left Behind is not our world. It is an alien universe inhabited by alien creatures and ruled by an alien god.

Regarding the plot, the excerpt above reminds us that we can’t read these books with the usual expectation that the heroes will be heroic, or that their actions ought to make sense. Here are the two things we need to know about these heroes: 1) they aim to “stand against” the Antichrist; and 2) their plan for doing so involves working for him and following his orders. Neither these characters nor the authors seem to understand that resisting and assisting are not the same thing.

The phrase “through a bizarre set of circumstances” seems to be Jenkins’ way of summarizing the first 400 pages of the last book. The circumstances there aren’t really bizarre as much as belabored. Rayford and Buck vow that never, ever, under any circumstances would they ever work go to work for Nicolae Carpathia. And then they both agree to go work for Nicolae Carpathia.

The truly bizarre set of circumstances comes next, in Jenkins’ unintentionally hilarious summary of the beginning of World War III:

They [Rayford, Amanda, Buck and Chloe] discover that Bruce is in the hospital, but on their way to visit him, global war erupts. American militia factions, under the clandestine leadership of Carpathia-emasculated President Gerald Fitzhugh, had joined forces with the United States of Britain and the former sovereign state of Egypt, now part of the newly formed Middle Eastern Commonwealth. American East Coast militia forces have attacked Washington, which lies in ruins.

Carpathia, whose hotel was leveled, is spirited away safely. His Global Community Forces retaliate by attacking a former Nike base in suburban Chicago, within sight of the hospital where Bruce Barnes was suffering from a deadly virus. An assault on New Babylon is quickly thwarted, and London is attacked by Global Community Forces in retaliation for Britain’s collusion with the American militia.

I’d read all of that at the end of Tribulation Force, but there it was padded out over a whole chapter and muffled by pages of tedious prose. Seeing it distilled here into two paragraphs highlights just how deliriously weird this is.

The authors’ idea of World War is like some dadaist game of Risk. (“My 13 armies from Kamchatka invade Baltic Avenue with Professor Plum and the candlestick … Uno.”) Each step seems random, nonsensical, and unrelated to whatever just happened. The Americans attack and destroy Washington and in response to this American invasion of America, Nicolae bombs the Chicago suburbs. An Egyptian army tries to march undetected all the way to Iraq and gets wiped out by Antichrist fighter jets on their way to obliterate London.

Jenkins’ two-paragraph summary above is such a jumble of arbitrary non-sequiturs that one almost suspects it’s his deliberate attempt at Pythonesque humor. But then one remembers that Jenkins is simply listing the events from LaHaye’s End Times check list in the prescribed and prophesied order, and thus neither author sees anything absurd or humorous about any of this. It’s something they believe will actually happen, very soon.

After this, the prologue stops summarizing and just starts reprinting. The remaining iv pages simply repeat the final four pages of Tribulation Force, recounting Rayford’s anguish over the death of Bruce Barnes and the traffic on I-94.

It’s worth noting some of the many things this introductory recap did not review from the previous books. It tells us twice about Rayford’s marriage to Amanda White, but says nothing about Buck and Chloe tying the knot. Nor does it say anything about the Two Witnesses, about Tsion Ben-Judah, or about the Tribulation-initiating peace treaty between Israel and the Antichrist. We’re reminded of the details of Rayford’s recent flight schedule, but not of any of the prophetically significant events from the End Times check list.

Those “Bible prophecy” elements were what initially prompted the authors to write these books, but now they seem distracted from them. They’ve gotten so caught up in the fantasy of their “heroic” Marty Stu surrogate characters that even LaHaye seems less concerned with the fulfillment of his prophecies than with reminding readers that studly pilot Rayford Steele is widely respected and envied and is getting laid by his hot new wife.

Which brings us, at last, to the pages with Arabic numerals and the proper beginning of Book 3, Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist.

Here is Jenkins’ first sentence:

It was the worst of times; it was the worst of times.


First of all, this isn’t even accurate. We’re only 18 months into the seven-year Great Tribulation, so Rayford knows better than to imagine that this is “the worst of times.” This apocalypse has barely gotten started. We’ve got five more seals, seven bowls and seven trumpets of divine wrath still to come — with each septet progressively worse than the one before.

The worst of times? Rayford has seen the Big Chart and has been studying the check list for months. He knows he ain’t seen nothin’ yet. He’s only half-way through the horsemen. If he somehow manages to survive another few years, he’ll be dodging demon locusts and flaming hail while the stars fall and the oceans bleed and he’ll be looking back to this time as “the good old days.”

And second, if Jenkins wants to play with classic opening lines, then he needs to put a bit more effort into it than this lazy, half-baked spoof of Dickens.

Dickens himself certainly did. Here’s a bit more of his original opening sentence from A Tale of Two Cities:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …

Dickens establishes his setting and his theme at the same time while making it sing. That’s genius. Appropriating that genius was a smart idea for Jenkins — “steal from the best” — but he makes a mess of it. He was aiming, I think, for the kind of playful twist that would evoke all the poetry and emotional force of the original. But the clumsiness of the allusion instead just invites an extremely unflattering comparison.

Jenkins would have been better off taking a cue from Snoopy and ripping off Bulwer-Lytton instead of Dickens: “It was a dark and stormy apocalypse.”

Or maybe borrowing instead from an American classic: “You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of Tribulation Force, but that ain’t no matter.”

We could play this game all day:

  • In a plane in the sky there lived a pilot.
  • It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single Antichrist in possession of global power, must be in want of two assistants.
  • This is a tale of a meeting of two lonesome, skinny, fairly odd white men on a planet which was dying fast.
  • Call me Nicolae.
  • There was a man called Rayford Eustace Steele, and he almost deserved it.
  • Real, true Christians are all alike; and every sinner is sinful in the same way.
  • God is a sick god … god is a spiteful god. I believe there is something wrong with god’s liver.
  • Only the real, true Christians would have believed, in the last years of the 20th century, that this world was being watched by a divine intelligence greater than humanity’s; that as people busied themselves about their various concerns they were being scrutinized and studied, even more narrowly than a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
  • You better not never tell nobody ’bout God.
  • A screaming comes across the phone.
  • Hattie, light of my life, fire of my loins.

I hope you’ll add to this list in comments below.

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  • caryjamesbond

    Oh man….something that hasn’t already been done.  

    “It was the year when they finally immanentized the Eschaton.”  That doesn’t even need to be changed. 


    “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, GIRAT Buck Williams was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover telephones.”


    “With the coming of the Rapture, many eyes in free Europe turned hopefully or desperately toward the dictatorship of the Antichrist. Manhattan became the great embarkation point. But not everybody could get to Manhattan directly…” 

    Or this: 

    Tablet I

    “He who saw all, who was the foundation of the land,
    Who knew (everything), was wise in all matters.
    Buck Williams-GIRAT who saw all, who was the foundation of
    the land,
    Who knew (everything), was wise in all matters.
    He saw the Not-Very-Secret Antichrist, discovered the Not-Very-Well-Hidden,
    he had information of (the time) before the Antichrist (But
    was scared and did not publish it)
    He went on a distant journey, pushing himself to exhaustion,
    but then was brought to the other end of Manhattan.
    He considered writing in a magazine of his toils (but
    he didn’t)
    and he dug the hole of Bruce-Haven,
    the hole of the sacred New Hope Temple, the holy sanctuary.
    Look at its wall which gleams like linoleum,
    inspect its great hole, the likes of which no one can equal!
    Take hold of the threshold stone–it dates from last
    Thursday, at Lowes for 24.99
    Go close to the New Hope Temple, the residence of Chloe,
    such as no later king or man ever equaled!
    Go down in the Hole of Bruce and walk around,
    examine its foundation, inspect it thoroughly.
    Is not (even the core of) the structure made of sheetrock
    and pine studs?
    and did not the Great Sage Rayford himself lay out its
    …Find the copper tablet box,
    open the … of its lock of bronze,
    undo the fastening of its secret opening.
    Take and read out from the lapis lazuli tablet
    how Rayford and Buck were put to minor inconvenience.”

  • JonathanPelikan
    This is how you accurately do the ‘best of times, worst  of times’ thing.

  • ChrisH

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Salvation has largely supplanted the Dispensationalist Study Bible as the standard for theology, for though it does not have checklists and footnotes, it scores over the more apocolyptic work in two important respects, it is slightly cheaper and it has the words “GOD LOVES YOU” in friendly letters on the cover.

  • parvomagnus

    “Sing of the wrath, Goddess, of God’s son Jesus,
    That…actually, you icky pagan lady, just
    Be quiet and let a man do the talking.”

    Okay, I guess that one’s more for whichever book has Jesus exploderating people.

  • Jeff Heise

    In the ending, Nicholai ended the heaven and the earth.

  • Nathaniel

    I owe the discovery of TurboJesus to the conjunction of a telephone and a study bible. The telephone troubled the depths of a corridor in a country house on Elmhurst in Mount Prospect; the study bible is fallaciously called  The Scofield Reference Bible (Oxford, 1917) and is a “literal” but delinquent reprint of the King James Bible of 1611.

  • Edo

    Come good brother, little brother,Pretty playmate of my childhood,Dead and taken in the Rapture,Dead again in nuked Manhattan,Dead and gone in one eye’s twinkling;Never to behold each other,Nevermore to have each otherIn this world of desolations,In the Time of Tribulation.

    Strike we now our hands together,Fingers into curve of fingers,So that we may grieve together,Pour out all our deepest sorrows,Cry aloud complaints to heaven,”How much longer? How much longer?”Hear the Demiurge’s answer,Ignorance as He the AuthorSkips our tears of lamentation,All our woes and remonstrations,Plugs his ears in concentrationOn the Force of TribulationAnd butt-baby Nicolae…

    (Skipping the intervening five pages, I’m guessing that nobody’s done the Kalevala yet. If they have, mea maxima culpa.)

  • Edo Owaki

    Is is really that hard to format? Come on, Disqus.
    Come good brother, little brother,Pretty playmate of my childhood,Dead and taken in the Rapture,Dead again in nuked Manhattan,Dead and gone in one eye’s twinkling;Never to behold each other,Nevermore to have each otherIn this world of desolations,In the Time of Tribulation.
    Strike we now our hands together,Fingers into curve of fingers,So that we may grieve together,Pour out all our deepest sorrows,Cry aloud complaints to heaven,”How much longer? How much longer?”Hear the Demiurge’s answer,Ignorance as He the AuthorSkips our tears of lamentation,All our woes and remonstrations,Plugs his ears in concentrationOn the Force of TribulationAnd butt-baby Nicolae…

  • Marquette Popweasel

    But because it was the very world it was, the very world they had allowed it to become, for years his activities did not come to the alarmed attention of The Ones Who Kept The Machine Functioning Smoothly, the ones who poured the very best butter over the cams and mainsprings of the culture. Not until it had become obvious that somehow, someway, he had become a notoriety,  a celebrity,  perhaps even a hero  for  (what Heaven inescapably tagged) “an emotionally disturbed segment of the populace,” did they turn it over to the Tribulation Force and their prophetic machinery.

    But that would make TurboJesus complicit in the apocalypse and the damnation of billions … oh, wait.

  • Parisienne

    Wow, all you have to change about this one is the names (in the interests of full disclosure, it is the book that I am currently reading and I haven’t finished it yet):

    ‘Well, Buck, America and Europe are now nothing more than estates taken over by Carpathia. No, I give you fair warning. If you won’t say this means war, if you will allow yourself to condone all the ghastly atrocities perpetrated  by that Antichrist – yes, that’s what I think he is – I shall disown you. You’re no friend of mine – not the “faithful slave” you claim to be… But how are you? How are you keeping? I can see I’m intimidating you. Do sit down and talk to me.’

  • hf

    So there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to be sacrificed to the  dark powers by a cult of evil Librarians.

    OK, I lied about being tied up. And the cultists weren’t trying to sacrifice anyone, they were throwing a party to welcome me. But they were>/i> wearing sensible shoes.

    (The actual first line, “I am not a good person,” might come from Nicolae or almost anyone else in the series.)

  • hf


  • Makabit

    “Where’s Jesus going with that ax?’ said Chloe to her father as they were setting the table for breakfast.

  • Dash1

    Since Roger Cole has introduced television openings…

    Now sit right back, and you’ll hear a tale,
    A tale of a first-class twit,
    Caught up in the apocalypse
    Aboard a flying ship.

    The twit was a mighty GIRAT,
    The captain strong and sure.
    He flirted with the stewardess
    While staying (sort of) pure.


  • Kadh2000

    In the week before his departure to New York, when all the final scurrying had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the home of the antichrist, Nicolai.
    Nicolai: Rise of the Antichrist
    Laheye and Jenkins’s
    Classic Tale of True Apocalypse
    and High Altitude
    You had to admire two guys who called their own new book a classic before it was published or anyone else had a chance to read it.  Maybe they figured if they didn’t do it, nobody would, or maybe they were just trying to give the reviewers a helping hand; I don’t know. I skimmed the first chapter and it was pretty much exactly as I remembered.  Then I turned to the second chapter, the one about Chloe Williams and the little kind of tantalyzing description of the Bombing of Chicago.
    And that’s when I begin to realize there was a problem.

    Yea… got abbreviation right!.

  • Kadh2000

    “Before Carpathia blew up Chicago, I beamed them all into the Sears Tower where they’ll be no Tribbles at all”

    -okay it’s an ending line, but still…
    -and I know they changed it ot the Willis Tower

  • reynard61

    If this hasn’t been done already:

    My name is Buck Williams. I used to be a reporter, until…”We’ve got a Tribulation notice on you. You’re God-listed.” When you’re Tribbed, you’ve got everything: a Bible, a help-meet, an immunity to Jedi mind-tricks. You’re stuck in whatever job the Antichrist decides to dump you in. You report on whatever assignment comes your way. You rely on anyone who’s still talking to you: an oblivious ex-colleague; the pilot who flies the Antichrist’s airplane; family too —  if you have any. Bottom line: As long as you’re Tribbed, you’re not going anywhere…except where the Antichrist sends you…

  • Makabit

    You know, it wouldn’t be genius, but simply beginning with “It was the worst of times.” would be better. It references the TOTC line obviously, but not repeating it takes away some of the dripping antigravitas.

    Except, of course, that as Fred said, it’s not, yet.

  • PepperjackCandy

    Amaryllis beat me to it, but I’m going to do it anyhow:

    “The apocalypse won’t be the apocalypse without Bruce,” grumbled Buck, lying on the rug.

  • Sailorsaturumon132000

    In a hole in the ground there lived a GIRAT.  Not just in a small hole: it was a bunker and that meant comfort, or as much comfort you could have  in times like those.

  • Patrick McGraw

    It goes by many names: “The Crisis,” “The Dark Years,” “The Tribulation,” as well as newer and more “hip” titles such as “World War G” or “G War One.” I personally dislike this last moniker as it implies an inevitable “G War Two.” For me, it will always be “The God War,” and while many may protest the scientific accuracy of the word God, they will be hard-pressed to discover a more globally accepted term for the creature that almost caused our extinction.

    The first thing the boy Cameron remembered was the telephone call. For all the rest of his life he had a special warm feeling for phones and those peculiar sounds and shapes that seemed somehow to combine into a bustling seriousness that had to do with importance and greatness and heroism and bravery and, above all, home. No matter how high Cameron rose in life, he never forgot that all his memories began with that phone call.

  • Jamoche

    It was cold on the rampart. I slapped my numbed hands together, then stopped hastily for fear of disturbing the Antichrist. My post that night was just outside his personal apartments-a post that I had won through a bizarre set of circumstances…but I had no wish to call attention to myself now.

    (“Vs Guvf Tbrf Ba -” Arurzvnu Fphqqre sbe Cerfvqrag va 2012!)

  • Garageman

    “When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Rayford’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. He must have had bad dreams and climbed in with his wife. Of course he did. This is the day of the first judgment.”

  • Lonespark

    I like that one, Patrick McGrew!

  • Wotan Anubis

    Nicolae Carpathia sighed when he heard the scream, but he finished shaving before he did anything about it.

  • Bill the Splut

    “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen, and I know this because it was also the amount of phone calls I made that hour.”

  • Skybison

    Okay, I have to try one:

    My Little Nicolae
    I used to wonder what the satanic NWO could be
    My Little Nicolae
    Until you all shared it’s magic with me

    Big evolution
    Tons of gay
    A beautiful abortion
    Socialist and strong
    Sharing atheism
    It’s an easy feat
    And religious tolerence makes it all complete

    My Little Nicolae
    You are all my very best friends.

  • Skybison

    Okay another one

    Long ago in a distant land
    I, Jerry Jenkins, the shapeshifting master of darkness
    Unleashed an unspeakably evil book series
    But a foolish blogger wielding humor and wit stepped forth to opposse me

  • LMM22

    Don’t know if anyone is reading this at this point, but, as it turns out, the opening stanzas translate a lot better than one would thing:

    I sing of faith and the man, he who, forced by fate,
    first emerged from the womb of man to New York, and to
    New Babylon — driven endlessly by ancient, cruel prophecies,
    by the will of God, by cruel Jehovah’s remorseless anger,
    suffering seven long years until, by persecuting a people,
    he drove them to God: from him the converts
    came, the former Muslims and Hindus and Jews.

    Jesus, tell me the cause: how could He be offended in his divinity,
    how was He grieved, the Host of Hosts, to fate any man,
    regardless of virtue, to follow such prophecies, to end
    in such a fate? Can there be such anger in the mind of God?

    It’s times like this that I really regret not keeping up with my Latin, because this would be so much cooler in the original language….

  • JonathanPelikan

    Somewhere, deep in the fabric of reality, our comments are being recorded. They will be remembered for eternity.

    Also this thread’ll be here in the archives over the years as the community moves on but people look back and go through the vault or new people rush to catch up and read through a hundred posts in a day.

  • LMM22

    I’d like to believe that, but I don’t trust Disquis. There are three blogs I read which consistently have good comment threads — this one, Ta-Nehesi Coates, and Making Light — but, of them, only Making Light has its comments in plaintext (not to mention on a single page). Those I don’t worry about — I can back them up fine on my computer. But Disquis comment threads are only good as long as Disquis lasts, which may only be a few years.

    This is a *solid* thread, and I wish there were a better way of backing it up. I think the move to Disquis has been one of the biggest mistakes a blog can make. I can see why people do it (it’s easier to outsource stuff), but, in terms of documentation, Disquis is terrible.

  • LMM22

    And another. (We should just have a separate thread for guesses. Mine should be Google-able.)

    Carpathia had been thinking that he needed more room for the leisurely life that was now his. He wanted to have everyone near him, even the people who were still off in other countries. He had bought four acres in Iraq, near the south of the country….

  • LunaticFringe

    Phones. Phones never change. 

  • Mau de Katt

    Two powerholds, both alike in malice,
    In fair America, where we lay our scene,
    From ancient prophecy break to new nonsense,
    Where political agenda makes religious hands unclean.
    From forth the fatal loins of those two homosexuals,
    A splice of star-cross’d gene sequences take their form;
    Whose misinterp’ted prophesied actions,
    Doth with his life act out their belief system’s strife.
    The fearful checklist of their death-God’s wrath,
    And the continuance of their pastors’ rage,
    Which, but their world’s end, nought could remove,
    Is now the two decades’ traffic of our blog;
    The which if you with patient eyes attend,
    What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

    (Cebybthr, Ebzrb naq Whyvrg)

  • Mau de Katt

    (Yeah, I lost most of the rhymes, not to mention the iambic pentameter.  sigh….)

  • Mau de Katt

    More TV goodness:

    Here’s the story of a left-behind pastor,
    Who was tutoring two very ingn’rant guys.
    All of them had brains of mush, like their creator;
    Oh, yeah, and there’s a girl.

    Here’s the story, of a man named Nicolae,
    Who was busy with his taking o’er the world,
    There were four horsemen, destroy’ng the planet,
    Yet they wouldn’t win.

    Then one day the pilot met this Antichrist,
    And he knew he had to fly this villain’s plane.
    But his group said he could justify his actions,
    And they called themselves the Tribulation Force

    The Tribble Force, the Tribble Force —
    Yeah, the called themselves the Tribulation Force!

    (Bu pbzr ba — lbh ernyyl qba’g arrq zr gb gryy lbh gur fbhepr, qb lbh?)

  • Gordon Freeman

    With the humbling realization that I could never match the transcendent so-bad-it’s-goodness of “It was a dark and stormy apocalypse,” I hereby offer my own riff.

    Of Rayford’s first ascendance, and the

    Of that forbidden job, whose improbable

    Brought plot holes into this book, and
    all our boredom

    With loss of meta-Chloe, till one
    greater Antichrist

    Entertain us, and chew the scenery to

    Sing heav’nly Jenkins, that through the
    secret course

    By mail-order didst inspire the chosen

    In the end how the heavens and earth

    Returned to chaos: or if O’Hare Airport

    Delight thee more, and Michigan’s lake

    That lay still by New Sodom; I thence

    Invoke thy aid to my preposterous song,

    That with no middle flight intends to

    Above the fully loaded, while it

    Dulness unachieved in prose or rhyme,

    That to the height of this inanity

    I may assert LaHaye’s theology

    And justify the ways of TurboJesus to

  • Gordon Freeman

     Jonrober (in comments 41-80):
    Buck-as-Rorschach is brilliant – two villains who have fooled far
    too many people into thinking they are heroes.

    Magic_Cracker (in comments 81-120) did
    it first, and several others did variations, but whatever its form,
    the Lovecraft allusion may be the most damningly appropriate riff of

    Ross (in comments 81-120): the remark
    about David Hayter had me picturing this conversation between Otacon
    and Solid Snake: “Snake, have you heard about the Tribulation
    Force?” “Tribulation Force?” “Yeah, they’re the only people
    around who are more useless in a fight than I used to be.”

    FearlessSon (in comments 81-120): great
    riff on the opening of MGS4.

    JonathanPelikan (in comments 81-120)
    raises an interesting question: in these books, have we finally found
    something worse than the Mass Effect 3 ending?

    Riastlin Lovecraft (in comments
    161-200): that 40k one was pure gold. I’m working on a Wheel of Time
    version myself, which I should post soon.

    Melissa Wilson (in comments 161-200):
    Oh… my… god. You haven’t just won the thread, you’ve squared the
    circle. You’ve simultaneously created both an irresistible force and
    an immovable object. You have found a way to make Left Behind EVEN

    Roger Cole (in comments 161-200): I
    wondered if someone would do a Buffy riff. Nice job.

    Spinetingler (in comments 161-200):
    thank you so much for making me imagine Buck’s letter to the
    Penthouse Forum. I was just thinking I needed to do more to reduce
    the world’s excess supply of brain bleach.

    Gocart_mozart (in comments 161-200):
    “BLOW UP THE WORLD with a fish!” is now my new favorite parlor

    LMM22 (in comments 281+): I feel your
    pain. If I had the Italian for it, you’d better believe I’d be
    riffing in terza rima.

  • LMM22

    I feel your
    pain. If I had the Italian for it, you’d better believe I’d be
    riffing in terza rima.

    I’ve been wanting to do a historical natural apocalypse for awhile (how would the Renaissance have dealt with an alien invasion a-la “War of the Worlds”? How would the ancient Greeks have dealt with a comet impact? How would anyone have *processed* that sort of event?), but it feels right to write it in the original language.

    Maybe I’ll just do English scenes interspersed with stanzas from appropriate languages.

  • Ymfon


  • Urpo Lankinen

    “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. In the sky was mr. Captain, Steele, in the cockpit of his plane.” …and the rest of the chapter is about the airline timetables. The second chapter is an extensive listing of what’s going to be in television that night so you don’t need to watch the dead channel.

  • 4oz of reason

    “It is a rugged, middle-aged airline pilot, and he stoppeth on of three…”

  • Vermic

    I love this thread so much.  The whole thread, but special love goes to “Jabberbucky”.

  • Shay Guy

    You are sitting in a cramped plane west of a white airport, with a reinforced cockpit door. There is a small phone here.

    You are one of the top Tribble Sleuths in the city. Solicitations for your service are numerous in quantity. Compensation, adequate. It is an evening of indeterminate season and weather. You are feeling particularly Jesus-y tonight.

    A young Antrichrist stands in his New Babylon office. It just so happens that today, the 6th of June, is this young Antichrist’s birthday. Though it was thirty-six years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be given a name!

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Pleeeeeeeeease make a grue eat Buck. And Rayford. :P

  • Scott Hawks

    Wicked Planet…

    Gay Lovers…


    Jewish Wealthy Bankers…


  • Jon Maki

    I’m glad you were able to put together the pieces of the All Star Superman opening in a way that I could not.

  • Tricksterson

    Turbo Jesus Power Rangers are go!

  • Ymfon Tviergh

    Would perhaps fit better as an intro to the Left Behind Fridays than the books themselves, but since at least two people have asked for it…

    The Wheel of Dispensationalism turns. Authors come and pass, leaving stories that become misinterpreted. Misinterpretation turns to checklists, and even the checklists
    are long forgotten when the fad that gave them birth comes again.
    In one book, called the Third Book by some, a book long since written, a book yet to come, a bomb fell among the mountains of Chicago. The bomb was not the beginning; there are neither beginnings nor endings to the plots of L&J. But it was *a* beginning.

  • Jaime

    When he woke up, the Antichrist was still there.

  • E_Hyde

    In November* of 1995, shortly before Carpathia came to power, a 747-class Pan-Continental airplane landed at O’Hare International Airport. Unconfirmed reports indicated that some of the passengers were raptured.

    But according to repeated statements by both American and Global Community governments, nothing of what you are about to read …

    will ever happen

    *I don’t remember what time of year the rapture was actually supposed to have taken place.

  • malpollyon

    There is a Theological operation of maximum importance: the Initiation of a New Aeon. When it becomes necessary to utter a Word, the whole Planet must be bathed in the Blood of the Lamb.

    Given the choice, whether to rule a corrupt and failing One World Government; or to challenge the fates for another throw – a better throw – against one’s destiny… what was an Antichrist to do? But does one even truly have a choice? One can only match, move by move, the machinations of fate… and thus defy the tyrannous Turbo Jesus. 

  • Invisible Neutrino

    For his entire life, Nicolae had been shaped and molded by forces external to himself. At first unaware of this, he simply enjoyed the powers he had over other humans. Later, he came to understand just how fully his life had been ordained by others – from the very way his origins had been conceived in a purposely “unnatural” way, to the education he received, to how he was encouraged to disrespect his “natural” mother–

    Well, in the end, Nicolae mused to himself, he would be locked into battle with God, the Supreme Entity of the Universe. This, he knew, had been true the moment billions of people disappeared from the face of the planet Earth.

    Einstein once said that God didn’t play dice with the universe. Nicolae, however, had no choice.

    With homages to the Terminator 2 novelization.

  • Francois

    “In the Earth’s last days, an enchanting story of survival, heroism, and persistence against impossible odds would be told. This is not that story.”

  • Roll Fizzlebeef

    This has no doubt been commented upon before, but this?

    “My 13 armies from Kamchatka invade Baltic Avenue with Professor Plum and the candlestick … Uno.”

    This nearly made me need a new monitor from laughter-induced soda spitting.

  • HCSR

    Mr. and Mrs. Williams, of number four, Carpathia Drive, were proud to say that they were good Cristians, thank you very much. 

  • Heather Reid

    Listen: Buck Williams is about to become stuck in the apocalypse.