NRA: Joshua Judges Rayford

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 63-65

Nicolae Carpathia is flying from Dallas to San Francisco, casually giving orders for the nuclear destruction of dozens of cities and the death of millions of people.

And neither Rayford nor Amanda Steele bothers trying to stop him.

I blame Bruce Barnes for that. For more than a year he had the members of the Tribulation Force studying the book of Revelation. That gave them the schedule for the months ahead, but didn’t suggest anything they could do about it.

They should have been studying the book of Judges. That bloody little text almost reads like a manual for just the sort of guerrilla warfare the Tribulation Force ought to be conducting.

Plan A: Codename Jael.

Amanda offers to serve refreshments to Nicolae and his “ambassadors.”

“Oh my,” she says. “Your cocktails look a bit cloudy. Here, let me stir those some more with this tent-peg I just happen to be carrying.”

If that doesn’t work, then try …

Plan B: Codename Ehud.

Having disabled the locks on the airplane lavatories, Amanda Steele sits patiently, crossing her legs to better conceal the dagger strapped to her right thigh. Eventually, even the Antichrist has to go.

And, if all else fails …

Plan C: Codename Samson.

Rayford Steele sits behind the controls of an airplane at 33,000 feet. The Antichrist is a passenger on that plane, and if he is not stopped, millions of people will be murdered. Rayford grips the wheel like Samson grasping the pillars. …

Nothing at all like that happens in this book, of course.

Rayford maintains his perfect safety record as the Antichrist’s personal pilot, always scrupulously ensuring that Nicolae arrives unharmed at his destination and never giving any thought to any other possibility. It never occurs to Rayford that any landing the Antichrist walks away from is probably not a good landing.

Rayford clandestinely listened in horror as Carpathia announced to his compatriots, “Chicago should be under retaliatory attack, even as we speak. Thank you for your part in this, and for the strategic nonuse of radioactive fallout. I have many loyal employees in that area, and though I expect to lose some in the initial attack, I need not lose any to radiation to make my point.”

We saw something like this earlier when New York City was nuked without “use of radioactive fallout.” I guess this is kind of like Global Weekly. There’s a Time magazine in the Left Behind books, but no Newsweek. Instead of Newsweek, there’s Global Weekly. Similarly in these books, instead of physics, there’s this kind of thing.

Carpathia and his lads decide to turn on the news to watch the destruction of Chicago.

Rayford could remain seated no longer. He didn’t know what he would say or do, if anything, but he simply could not stay in that cockpit, not knowing whether his loved ones were safe. He entered the cabin as the television was coming on, showing the first images from Chicago. Amanda gasped.

She gasped because she is surprised by what is happening in Chicago. She’s looking at the same TV screen as Nicolae is, just a few feet away from him, apparently, but somehow she didn’t hear any of what he and his ambassadors were saying.

Jerry Jenkins keeps drawing our attention to this, but he never seems to notice it himself. Amanda never hears a word that Nicolae says from a few feet away, so Jenkins keeps having Rayford pop out of the cockpit to give her updates on what he’s overheard. This is doubly annoying. Not only can readers not form any reasonable image of where Amanda might be sitting, but then we also have to read everything Nicolae says twice — once when he says it, and then again when Rayford relays it to Amanda.

That’s some ground-breaking bad writing right there. In this scene, Jenkins mixes it in with a more conventional staple of bad novels — the omniscient and omnipresent news camera. Who is filming the destruction of Chicago? Maybe in addition to the “no radiation” setting, Nicolae’s nuclear bombs come with a special “no damage to journalists and cameras” setting.

“Would you go to Chicago for me?” Rayford whispered.

“If you think I would be safe.”

“There’s no radiation.”

“How do you know that?”

They’re whispering, again, because Nicolae is sitting very close by and if they didn’t whisper then he could hear what they’re saying.

Rayford wants Amanda to catch a flight out of San Francisco after they land. It will have to be a flight leaving immediately, of course, because after Rayford’s plane takes off again, San Francisco is next on the list of cities to be destroyed.

“If you can’t get an immediate flight, and I mean before this plane leaves the ground again, you must reboard the Condor. Do you understand?”

“I understand, but why?”

“I can’t tell you now. Just get an immediate flight to Milwaukee. …”

I’m sure that booking a spur-of-the-moment “immediate flight to Milwaukee” won’t be a problem, since so far World War III has mostly been unfolding east of the Mississippi and why would that interfere with flights out of San Francisco?

Following the news from Chicago, the cable news channel broke for a commercial, and Rayford approached Carpathia.

Here’s a sentence that no human being will ever speak: “More breaking news on the destruction of Chicago, New York, Washington and London, but first, a word from our sponsors.”

“Sir, may I have a moment?”

“Certainly, Captain. Awful news out of Chicago, is it not?”

“Yes, sir, it is. In fact, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”

Humans don’t talk like this after big disasters. Rayford and Nicolae were both just looking at the same TV screen showing nothing but devastation where the third-largest city in America had once stood. Millions of people have just been killed.

And here they are chatting about it politely, making small talk. That little exchange is the sort of thing two people might say after, for example, Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS.

“Awful news out of Chicago.”

“Yes, sir, it is. If Alou had only caught that ball …”

“You know I have family in that area.”

“Yes, and I hope they are all safe,” Carpathia said.

Rayford wanted to kill him where he sat. He knew full well the man was the Antichrist …

At last. Finally.

Nicolae has just killed millions of people. He’s about to kill millions more if he isn’t stopped. And Rayford can stop him.

Rayford must stop him. He must, at least, try to stop him. This is not optional. Millions of lives are at stake. For us to accept that Rayford is any kind of hero, we need to see Rayford trying to stop Nicolae. If he doesn’t do something, right now, then everyone in San Francisco will die.

Rayford has to try to stop Nicolae right here, right now.

But he doesn’t do that.

Rayford wanted to kill him where he sat. He knew full well the man was the Antichrist, and he also knew that this very person would be assassinated one day and be resurrected from the dead by Satan himself. Rayford had never dreamed he might be an agent in that assassination, but at that instant he would have applied for the job. He fought for composure. Whoever killed this man would be merely a pawn in a huge cosmic game. The assassination and resurrection would only make Carpathia more powerful and satanic than ever.

I can scarcely begin to list the many ways this is just horrifically wrong. Without a trace of irony or self-awareness, Rayford Steele just thought this: “Whoever killed this man would be merely a pawn in a huge cosmic game.” Astonishing.

Let me try to break this down a bit.

1. Jenkins finally gives an answer to the question readers have been asking ever since we first realized, back in Book 1, that Nicolae is the Antichrist: Why doesn’t Rayford/Buck just kill him?

But Jenkins’ answer doesn’t work. It’s not a convincing answer in general,* and it’s an utterly unconvincing answer here in this specific situation.

Here, right at this moment, it doesn’t matter if Nicolae will eventually “be resurrected from the dead by Satan himself.” Right at this moment, the only thing that matters is that every living thing in San Francisco will die if Rayford doesn’t act. If stopping Nicolae here only means that Undead Nicolae will be coming back later to try again, then Rayford can try to deal with that later.

Right now, his urgent concern shouldn’t be that complicated. It’s like one of those hypothetical questions from an ethics textbook — the kind so narrowly constructed that even Gandhi, Dorothy Day and John Howard Yoder would respond, “Well, in that case, I would kill the guy …”**

2. The idea that the Antichrist will “be assassinated one day and be resurrected from the dead by Satan himself” is based on Tim LaHaye’s “literal” interpretation of Revelation 13:1-3:

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads; and on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads were blasphemous names. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And the dragon gave it his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have received a death-blow, but its mortal wound had been healed. In amazement the whole earth followed the beast.

This same opaque passage was popular back in the 1980s when “Bible prophecy scholars” were proclaiming Mikhail Gorbachev as the most likely candidate for Antichrist. They saw it as a reference to the port-wine stain birthmark on Gorbachev’s forehead. (Yes, really.)

Even within the tiny world of premillennial dispensationalist End Times mania, this passage has many different interpretations. Rayford and his friends only ever considered one of those — that of the Rev. Billings and of Tim LaHaye. And they’re so confident that this one view must be right they’re willing to sit idly by as millions of people die.

3. Rayford Steele knows that he is already a mere “pawn in a huge cosmic game.” As the personal pilot and a key assistant to the Antichrist, he seems to be Nicolae’s pawn, but he thinks of himself as a pawn for God.

But that doesn’t really matter. The way this cosmic game works, both sides are up to the same thing. Nicolae wants to slaughter millions of people and God wants to slaughter millions of people. And after all, in this game, the Antichrist is simply playing out his divinely appointed role in God’s great plan. So is Satan, for that matter.

Serve the Antichrist or serve Satan and you’re really just serving God, ultimately. And vice versa. That’s the game.

You may think that calling this a “huge cosmic game” is a devastating critique of the authors’ religious ideology, but it’s a phrase they use here themselves. And they use it proudly.

For LaHaye and Jenkins, it’s all just a game, but it is God’s game. If the Antichrist wants to kill millions of people, then God must want those people dead. And if God wants them dead, then it would be wrong to try to save them.

Rayford, of course, does not try to save them. He is a mere pawn in this huge cosmic game, but not the sort of pawn that does anything to interfere.

He asks Nicolae for permission for Amanda to fly to Milwaukee.

“I would really feel a lot better if she could be there with them to help as needed.”

“As you wish,” Carpathia said, and it was all Rayford could do not to breathe a huge sigh of relief in the man’s face.

Forget about Rayford going out in a blaze of glory like Samson. Forget about him lifting a finger to warn anyone in San Francisco of the unholy death about to rain down on them all. Rayford can’t worry about that right now, because he’s using every ounce of strength and courage he has to avoid looking relieved.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* So now we know that the Antichrist is prophesied to be assassinated, after which Satan will bring him back from the dead, more powerful than ever. And it seems the Tribulation Force can’t do anything to change that.

OK. But they could at least try to make the devil work for it. If Satan plans on resurrecting the Antichrist, then let him have to sift Nicolae’s ashes out of the other ashes with which his scattered remains have been mixed before being buried in hundreds of separate parcels on six continents, all on holy ground. Why make it easy for him?

** My undergrad ethics professor seemed to enjoy my efforts to strain such hypotheticals to the breaking point:

“I’m a lousy shot, I’d probably just end up killing one of those poor kids.”

“Mistah Clock,” he’d say in that accent of his. “You ah an excellent shot. A world-class mocksman. You nevah miss.”

“Never?”

“Nevah.”

“Then I shoot the red wire on the bomb’s detonator, defusing the bomb and allowing the children to escape.”

“Ah, Mistah Clock, but the red wire is directly ova his hot. To shoot the wire you’ll have to kill the terrorist.”

[Ten minutes later, after several more implausible scenarios are ruled out.]

“Well, in that case, I guess I would kill the guy.”

He was really amazing at constructing those hypotheticals so that any other option became impossible. In one semester of his class, I think I killed more hypothetical Nazis than Aldo Raine.

  • Tofu_Killer

    sweeeeeeettttttt…..

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Jeeeez Louise!

    Just when I think Jenkins has bottom-bounced the limits of absurdity, he sinks to yet another level of depraved praise of Rayford and Buck!

    They’re so important to the plot, that when a worldwide*  nuclear war hits on the heels of a child-loss disaster, they do absolutely fuck all.

    DISASTERS AND CRISES DO NOT WORK THAT WAY, JENKINS!

    Does Jenkins even realize that the instant anyone finds out Rayford had his chance to kill the Antichrist and deserve martyrdom, and passed it up, they’re going to be either so shocked or so angry they’ll be utterly incoherent at the way this waste of space – this self-styled Elder of the New Hope Church – has somehow vaulted to his position as an un-firable aide to the Antichrist?

    Seriously! Even when Rayford is all WRATH OF THE LAMB!#^&%^$$%$!##! at Nicolae, Nicky Earth Erection just dusts himself off and continues about his day.

    What the actual fuck. Any normal person who’d just been handled roughly by a subordinate would be firing that subordinate posthaste.

    Jenkins is the poster boy for abusing Authorial Immunity.

  • aunursa

    Rayford doesn’t tell Amanda that the reason he is placing her in grave danger by sending her to Chicago is to make sure that his loved ones are safe.  He just asks her, “Will you go to Chicago for me?”

    But he does tell Nicolae that he wants Amanda to go to Chicago in order to check on “my people.”  Nicky offers to have his staff check on them, but Rayford declines…

    “Sir,” Rayford continued, “I was wondering if it would be possible for my wife todeplane in San Francisco and head back to Chicago to check on my people.”
    “I would be happy to have my staff check on them,” Carpathia said, “if you will simply give me their addresses.”
    “I would really feel a lot better if she could be there with them to help as needed.”
    “As you wish,” Carpathia said, and it was all Rayford could do not to breathe a huge sigh of relief in the man’s face.

    This part reminds me of the shuttlecraft dillemma in Star Trek.  In several instances crewmembers take a shuttlecraft, which is slower and less safe.  The reason that they need to take the shuttlecraft rather than have the Enterprise make a slight detour is so that they can be placed in unnecessary danger of being attacked by Romulans or crash-landing on a planet inhabited by Bigfoot and his relatives.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    * worldwide nuclear war: Yes, I know strictly speaking it’s in the USA, but given that L&J are very sloppy about how they write this, let’s assume that absent Nicky Volcanic Eruption’s effective authority the USA would be like Jericho and for all intents and purposes it would be worldwide, anyway.

  • Flying Squid with Goggles

    The way Nicolae has been talking to his subordinates, explaining his “trigger,” we know *they* weren’t really in on the plan earlier – Nicky Tall Topographic Feature has been doing this all himself without his “Ambassadors’” knowledge, but maybe with just the help of Fortunato or whoever…

    So at this point, Rayford could probably not even just plow the plane into the ground, but actually suggest to everyone in the room that they should just open the emergency exit and toss Nicky out without a parachute. That seems a human kind of thing to do, and the “Ambassadors” have tons to gain from this as well, even if they are inhuman monsters, since they would be the next set of powerful people to replace Nicky.

    But not only does Rayford ditch the suicide option, he also ditches the option of allowing the lesser evil to triumph in this case…

  • http://mousehole-mouse.blogspot.com/?zx=bc3d377f4850d0bb Mouse

    Not to mention, don’t Ray and Bucky eventually try to kill him? What difference does it make if Nicky Cardamon dies now or later? Not to mention, wouldn’t the plane crash reduce Nicky to cinders? I have no doubts about God being able to reconstitute people from ash, but a lot of RTCs seem to given their fear of cremation, so couldn’t they use that as an out?

  • Tofu_Killer

     Well Rayford gets a gun and look at Nicky through the scope  for pages and pages of overwrought prose, but he never comes close to pulling the trigger.

    BECAUSE (say it with me): GOD HAS OTHER PLANS

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    Nuclear weapons with fallout, huh? I’d love to hear that one explained. Even low-yield tactical nukes generate fallout.

    Why did they use nukes, again? Clearly, they were picturing a conventional bombing – formations of B-52s (or some futuristic analog) unleashing wave after wave of hell. And if that seemed too small or banal, why not use some fictional superweapon? This thing is meant to be set in the future (the 2030′s, based on the tech level in the prequels), so come up with something else. An antimatter bomb maybe, or an orbital death ray, engineered plague, earthquake generator, grey goo…the possibilities are endless. I realize that these are supervillain weapons, but Nicolae is a supervillain. All he’s missing are the crazy goggles and spandex.

    I assume that they went with nukes out of tradition (read: lack of creativity) and never bothered to do any research. I do love the post facto explanation – yet more proof that Jenkins was making it up as he went along.

  • aunursa

    Brave Sir Rayford eventually does try to kill Nicky.  The reason that he can’t kill Nicky right now is that Tim’s Tribulation Timeline doesn’t allow Jerry to kill off Nicky until the end of Book #6 — when the PROFIT$ prophets have spoken.

    BTW, In the scene in which Rayford tries to assassinate Nicky, Buck is hiding scared in a tree.

  • Lunch Meat

    Whoever killed this man would be merely a pawn in a huge cosmic game.

    The scornful way Rayford speaks of the person who eventually kills Nicky reminds me of the people who seem to cynically realize they’re powerless in society, but think that if they don’t care/don’t do anything to try to make things better, somehow they’ll “win.” “Politicians are all the same. If you vote, you’re just a pawn in their game. If, on the other hand, you’re like me and don’t do anything at all, things will be exactly like they would have been if you’d voted, but at least you can feel superior.”*

    *Just using this analogy because it’s the first thing that came to my head. There may be legitimate reasons not to vote, but this one just seems kind of silly to me.

  • Grey Seer

    Look, man, it’s almost irrelevant if the Antichrist will be ressurected. Time that he is dead is time that he is not committing horrific genocidal monstrosities. And do the prophecies say anything about him being ressurected twice? Kill him once, then kill him again later. Or kill him, and then seal his corpse in a box and drop it in the ocean.

    Hell, just stab him, or strangle him, or do anything you can to inconvenience him. There is a reason we have criminal charges that can be filed for aiding and abetting a criminal. You are, right now, actively assisting a mass-murderer. You’re not being threatened into it, you’re not even simply failing to oppose it, you’re helping the man who you believe to be the absolute worst individual on the face of the planet. WHY?

    Gah. Stupid useless so-called-protagonists…

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    It’s very Classical. The Greco-Roman heroes were also pawns in a cosmic game of chess, the different being that they didn’t take it lying down.

    Odysseus would have tricked Nicolae into jumping out of the plane without a parachute.

  • Andrew Kleinman

    They 

  • Tofu_Killer

    Dropping prophesied immortals into the oceans doesn’t solve anything. I learned that from season 4 of Angel.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    So now we know that the Antichrist is prophesied to be assassinated,
    after which Satan will bring him back from the dead, more powerful than ever. And it seems the Tribulation Force can’t do anything to change that.

    OK. But they could at least try to make the devil work for it. If Satan plans on resurrecting the Antichrist, then let him have to sift Nicolae’s ashes out of the other ashes with which his scattered remains have been mixed before being buried in hundreds of separate parcels on six continents, all on holy ground. Why make it easy for him?

    Bungie took much the same approach when they developed the setting for Myth: The Fallen Lords.  In their words, the most powerful sorcerers have so many life-protection enchantments on them that they are practically impossible to “kill” with any finality.  Plus the universe itself is based around a cycle of fate where those great heroes who rise up against the darkness are fated to be resurrected a thousand years later to destroy what they fought so hard to create, until a thousand years after that a new generation of heroes arises to topple them.  These “Fallen Lords” are lead by The Leveler, a transient divinity which seeks only conflict, possessing the greatest hero of the last cycle to be its avatar. 

    In such a setting, extreme measures are taken to ensure that those who are defeated are, if not killed, at least made nearly impossible to raise.  One avatar of The Leveler was drawn and quartered, tireless enchanted horses drawing a part of his body behind them eternally in separate directions.  Another was burned by fire, his ashes mixed with salt and buried in separate locations.  After the climax in the first game, his head is severed and thrown into a literally bottomless pit, all at great cost.  

    It can be done, but it is not easy for those trying to prevent the resurrection either.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Point of order: ‘protagonist’ just means ‘central character’. They’re not heroes, but nobody gets more screen time, so they’re the protagonists.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    True, but a protagonist is still obliged to DO something. Rayford is a point-of-view character, but I have a hard time calling such a passive player a “protagonist.”

  • aunursa

    At the end of the movie Left Behind III: World at War, President Gerald Fitzhugh sacrifices his own life in order kill Nicolae.  While they are in Nicky’s office near the top of the Global Community Building, Fitzhugh activates a transmitter that causes a missile to lock in on their position and destroy the building.

    Just before the credits roll, an unharmed Nicky walks away from the ashes toward the camera.

    But at least Fitzhugh tried to stop him.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    This part reminds me of the Shuttlecraft Dillemma in the Star Trek series.  In several episodes crewmembers take a shuttlecraft to a destination, which is a slower and riskier mode of travel.  The reason that they need to use the shuttlecraft rather than have the Enterprise make a slight detour appears to be so that they can place themselves in unnecessary danger of crash-landing on Bigfoot’s Planet or being kidnapped by the Romulans.

    Heck, in supplemental materials they even said that the shuttlecraft were kept in mostly as plot devices to isolate crew members.  They said that they would probably not make “safer” shuttles because it would lock them out of being able to write certain kinds of episode scripts.

  • http://mousehole-mouse.blogspot.com/?zx=bc3d377f4850d0bb Mouse

    Further proof as to why the movies, even though they star Cam-Cam, aka the most irritating human in existence, are still better than the book.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That sort of absurdity is why, as much as I love Trek, I particularly rank Deep Space 9 as #1. Because they’re on a space station, the characters can’t just fall into $CONTRIVED_TRAP_OF_THE_WEEK. This made the writers get more creative and, I think, more willing to really tackle some plot arcs that, by the very nature of the fact that the Enterprise must travel from place to place, couldn’t have been possible because they required a quasistationary object.

    I really thought the series hit its strife by the third season, and by the fifth, holy geez, I was just rolling through those episodes! The Dominion War overshadowing everything really helped tie these episodes together, and I kept wanting to find out what happens next.

    It didn’t hurt that the last stages of that war had a very WW2-esque feel to them, just rolling onwards and inwards to the final defeat of the Dominion.

  • JayemGriffin

    Whenever I read a new LB post, I go back to this AU I like to toy with. It’s basically the setting of LB, but with a counterpart group to the Tribulation Force that actually *does* things (attempting to foil Nicky’s plans, covertly spreading the word, providing food/shelter/medical care to those who need it). They know they’re fighting both God and Satan, and they know they’re going to lose, but they still DO THINGS. Someday maybe I’ll actually write something for this.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    True, but a protagonist is still obliged to DO something. Rayford is a point-of-view character, but I have a hard time calling such a passive player a “protagonist.”

    The classic adage is “Antagonists act, protagonists react.” 

    We have Nicky acting so he makes a good case for the antagonist, but the Tribs never seem to react to anything he does.

  • Dash1

    Hell, just stab him, or strangle him, or do anything you can to inconvenience him.

    Inconveniencing the Antichrist is a book I would like to read. Provided it wasn’t written by Jerry Jenkins.

  • Aaron Boyden

    “No fallout” is pretty silly, but the difference in fallout between “clean” nuclear weapons designed to rely almost exclusively on fusion (with only enough fission to provide the heat and pressure to start the fusion) and more typical nuclear weapons (which get the majority of their power from fission, and use the fusion reaction as much to provide extra neutrons so the fission is more complete as to gain extra power) is pretty big.  A lot of the dangerous stuff in fallout comes from excess fissionable material or fission byproducts, so less fission means less fallout.

  • patter

    Rayford just pawn in great game of life.

     

  • hidden_urchin

    ”…an assignment that could be done with a few phone calls or emails.”

    Waitwaitwait. Have we truly just discovered a scene where Jenkins could have used communications technology and did not? I- I may have to go lie down for a bit.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *gigglesnorts*

    Well, at least thank whoever that Buck isn’t lugging around a fax machine, because oh god, he’d be sending a fax every 5 pages.

  • aunursa

    BTW, Here’s a peek at next week’s phone call…

    Dad [chuckling]: Nobody seems to want to even attack us out here [in Tucson.] We feel a little neglected.
    GIRAT: Dad! Millions are dying. Don’t be glib about this.
    Dad: So, how’s that new wife of yours? Are we ever gonna get to meet her?
    GIRAT: I don’t know, Dad. I don’t know exactly where she is right now, and I don’t know whether you’ll ever get the chance to meet her.

  • Dash1

    “Sir,” Rayford continued, “I was wondering if it would be possible for
    my wife to deplane in San Francisco and head back to Chicago to check on
    my people.”
    “I would be happy to have my staff check on them,” Carpathia said, “if you will simply give me their addresses.”
    “I would really feel a lot better if she could be there with them to help as needed.”
    “As you wish,” Carpathia said…

    Oh, Nicky, Nicky, why must you keep disappointing me like this? Couldn’t you at least manage something like this?

    “As you wish,” Carpathia said. He turned to his aide: “Renfield, book Mrs. Steele a hotel room in San Francisco for tonight and a first-class seat to Milwaukee first thing tomorrow morning.”
    “Tomorrow morning?” repeated Rayford in horror. “But–”
    “My dear Captain,” Carpathia interrupted smoothly. “There will be no flights going out of San Francisco to the midwest tonight. You saw what is happening in Chicago. San Francisco will be far too busy helping to manage the incoming flights that were on their way to Chicago. Your wife will enjoy a rest in San Francisco tonight, as my guest, and she will not miss the first flight out tomorrow morning, I promise.” He leaned back in his seat, smiling. The smile did not reach his eyes.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Just reading the title Inconveniencing the Antichrist, it sounds like a Monty Python sketch…

    “Look, now, you can’t just go mucking about with ineffable prophecies! I mean, you can try, but you actually can not muck up the divinely planned apocalypse! However, you can really annoy the spawn of Satan! Let’s review some basic techniques. Wait until he falls asleep on the plane, and then tie his shoelaces together.”

    “But sir, how will that prevent the End of Days?”
    “Well it won’t, but it’ll really cheese him off! Next, just before he gives a major speech, slip some topical anesthetic in his water glass so his tongue goes numb.”

    “Will that stop the nations of the world from following the Beast?”

    “Don’t be daft! Once the treaty with Isreal is signed, everyone is doomed no matter what! This is just to get a good laugh over on Old Scratch before 1/4 dies in horrible, horrible war!”

    “I… see. What else can we do to annoy the Anti-Christ?

    “In his office, put a piece of tape over his optical mouse, and another one over the hook on his telephone! Also, lower the height of his office chair by one inch each day of the week.”

    “Yeah, that’ll get him riled up!”

    “And whenever possible, shoot him in the head!”

    “What? I though you said we couldn’t interfere in the ineffable plans of the Lord!”

    “Well you can’t. The Anti-Christ will just be resurrected anyone. But a bullet through the head would piss anyone off, eh?”

  • Jessica_R

    I can just imagine Rayford trying to stop Spock from going into the warp core, not because he cares about him or anyone else mind you, but because Spock is can help him pilot an escape shuttle. And Spock not even giving him the dignity of a neck pinch instead just cold cocking him right in the mouth. It’s a pleasing image I must say. 

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Placeholder…

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

     

    Dad [chuckling]: Nobody seems to want to even attack us out here [in Tucson.] We feel a little neglected.

    Tucson would be pathetically easy to level with a nuke, they would not even need to use one of their big ones.  A lack of hills almost anywhere within city limits would mean that no place there is spared. 

    I guess the horizontal breadth of the city might be a problem though.  That place is one huge low-density sprawl…

  • LMM22

    President Gerald Fitzhugh sacrifices his own life in order kill Nicolae.

    You know, there are main characters and then there are *important* characters.

    Neither Rayford nor Buck seem to understand the difference.

  • LMM22

    If Satan plans on resurrecting the Antichrist, then let him have to sift Nicolae’s ashes out of the other ashes with which his scattered remains have been mixed before being buried in hundreds of separate parcels on six continents, all on holy ground.

    Easier than that. Aquinas, to disprove bodily resurrection, posits something like a cannibal who has eaten a Christian who is eaten by a lion which is in turn eaten by another Christian.

    All of which is to say, Nicky’s body is getting processed into Spam. Gross, but I think we can say that everyone — including the Tribbies — can take one for the team.

    How difficult would it be to kill him in a way which permitted organ donation? Arms and the like would be creepy, but I don’t think livers or kidneys can really exhibit trains of the Antichrist.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Wait, wait, “As you wish”?

    The slash, it is already written.

    Then one day Rayford realized that when he was saying “As you wish” what he really meant was, “I love you.”

    I mean seriously, he said, “As you wish.”

    More on topic, I think I’m going to have to have Nicolae be wired with some kind of doomsday device to keep Rayford from killing him in Skewed Slightly to the Left, because damned if I know what else can keep him not crashing the plain.

  • EllieMurasaki

    How difficult would it be to kill him in a way which permitted organ donation?

    TW, suicide: I read a speculative fiction story years ago. Fuck if I know title or author, but the plot was, this young woman could not die. Slit wrists healed. Bullets popped out. They finally donated all her organs and cremated her, and the organs had all regrown before she actually hit the flames. It’s implied that she still wasn’t dead, because the person working the crematorium commented on the unusually large ashes. And, and this is why I thought of it, an organ recipient showed signs of superhealing.

  • Julian Elson

    Why should Tribulation Saints even try to avoid death (of themselves or each other)? I mean, they shouldn’t commit *suicide*, of course, since that would be sinful, but what do they have to live for? They can’t change the course of the world. They don’t bother saving souls (except maybe with some hostile evangelism that alienates listeners, like the coworker Rayford tried to evangelize?). Their death means a pleasant stopover in heaven before the Resurrection.

    Yet all they seem to do is pull strings to save each others lives. “Let San Francisco burn — but make sure that anyone I care about at a personal level is out” seems to be the attitude. I’d think it would make more sense to regard the deaths of those who are saved as being less significant than the unsaved. (There’s the physical unpleasantness of dying itself, of course, but I’d think nuking would be pretty quick.)

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Just came to me:

    “I have family in Chicago,” Rayford said, his seething rage impossible to keep out of his voice.

    Nicolae pretended not to notice. “Yes, and I hope they are safe,” he said as if he were discussing the weather or some other meaningless bit of trivia.

    There was only one thing stopping Rayford from lunging forward and trying to kill Carpathia there and then.  He reminded himself of it, tried to keep his voice calm.  “I understand that I’m needed here with you, but I’d feel better if someone were trying to… If someone were there for them.  Do you think it would be possible for Amanda to head there after we land?”

    Nicolae spoke as if considering where to eat dinner, “Well it is the middle of a world war, and tasking an aircraft on such short notice is no small feat, but then you are one of my favorite employees, and it’s not as if I need whatshername here for anything, so I suppose I could arrange that for you, yes.”

    The casual manner with which he discussed the war made Rayford want punch the man, but he convinced himself to wait just a little bit longer.

    [Later, after Amanda is off the plane, just after takeoff.]

    Rayford worried that the copilot would notice the sweat pouring out of him, he had to remind himself to breathe.  One, last breath as he prepared to–

    Suddenly a hand was on his shoulder, then he felt the presence of another next to him.  Intimately close.  “You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?” Nicolae whispered in his ear.

    Nicolae stood straight, “Control of the aircraft has already been transferred to your colleague.  Come, join us in the lounge.”

  • Kiba

    I thought Nicky’s new plane was supposed to be big? The way the authors have been describing it here makes it sound like it’s the size of a learjet. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Slowed him down a bit. See also: Jet engines, woodchippers, pools full of piranha (soon to be VERY CHUBBY piranha depending on how fast he regenerates…)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Jenkins has always been inconsistent about that. Sometimes, he writes a scene like this that basically flat-out states that there is no way for anyone on Earth to prevent this.

    Later on though he writes a scene in which Jesus explicitly scolds Carpathia for his willful choice to misuse his spiritual gifts for the purposes of evil. Both of those things can’t possibly be right — either Carpathia and everyone else on Earth is a helpless pawn in the cosmic game, or Carpathia is an evil scoundrel who willingly aligned himself with Satan to destroy everyone on Earth. Not both.

    My theory — he’s a determinist whenever he needs to explain why he stood by and let something awful happen, and he believes in free will only when he can use it to berate or condemn someone that he doesn’t like.

  • Colin Foley

    You know, they don’t have to actually kill the Antichrist, if he’ll just be resurrected.  Chaining him up and locking him in a book could help stop him from doing untold damage to the entire world and massacring hundreds of millions of people.

    But, you know, flying his plane is cool too.

  • http://dumas1.livejournal.com/ Winter

     There is a Japanese horror comic by Junji Ito called Tomie about such a girl. She once regenerated from a blood stain on a carpet, or tried to, but wound up with a body that just fell apart. She was also a cruel and self-centered  girl who abused whoever wound up taking care of her in a given story.

    Divided parts regenerated into new Tomies and they tend to try to murder each other.  If I remember right,  one story was about a girl who got hold of some Tomie hair to use as extensions and they eventually took her over and grew yet another Tomie. And TVTropes says there’s another story about a Tomie kidney being transplanted into someone.

    Fire can destroy her, but you’d have to be very thorough about gathering up pieces and fluids and such. And there’s the fact that every story seems to end with pieces of Tomie scattered hither and yon growing like some macabre garden.

  • Randomosity

    My theory — he’s a determinist whenever he needs to explain why he
    stood by and let something awful happen, and he believes in free will
    only when he can use it to berate or condemn someone that he doesn’t
    like.

    That explains a great deal. Only evil people have free will. The godly have their paths mapped out for them and can’t (nor should they even want to) override the determinism.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The scornful way Rayford speaks of the person who eventually kills Nicky

    Lunch Meat:

    You mean Rayford dissed Punvz Ebframjrvt?!

    Jesus. Talk about an ungrateful bastard, just because *he* missed with his Phallic Substitute Saber.

  • Carstonio

    Is Nicolae supposed to have any supernatural powers? If Rayford tried to crash the plane, would Nicolae put something like the Imperius Curse on him? My only frames of reference are the Omen books and movies, and Damien’s power seemed limited to causing gruesome deaths that looked like unfortunate accidents. (Never go near flatbed trucks carrying sheets of glass.)

  • Ken

    I think Crowley said it best in Good Omens: “You start thinking, it can’t be a great cosmic game of chess, it just has to be very complicated Solitaire.

  • aunursa

    Jesus said, “You became a willing tool of the devil himself.”
    Nicolae did not protest, did not beg. He merely lowered his head even more and nodded.
    “You were a rebel against the things of God and His kingdom.  You caused more suffering than anyone in the history of the world. God bestowed upon you gifts of intelligence, beauty, wisdom, and personality, and you had the opportunity to make the most of these in the face of the most pivotal events in the annals of creation.
    “Yet you used every gift for personal gain. You led millions to worship you and your father, Satan. You were the cunning destroyer of My followers and accomplished more to damn the souls of men and women than anyone else in your time.”

    Carpathia sank even lower than Mac thought possible. “I confess  that my life was a waste. Worthless. A mistake.  But it’s not my fault.  I’m not bad.  I’m just written that way. I rebelled against the God of the universe whom I now know loved me.

    From Glorious Appearing


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