NRA: Just Let It Go

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 83-89

I want to finish this preposterous section of Nicolae so that we can move on to the next preposterous section. I seem to have gotten a bit stuck here by the piling up of several too many insurmountable obstacles for the reader — an accumulation of factual impossibilities, implausible events and odious choices.

In order to get through this logjam of absurdities here in Chapter 4, I’ll need to just buck up, as it were, swallow hard, and make “just let it go” my mantra for turning pages. Otherwise I’ll never be able to plow through this so that we can discover the glorious absurdities awaiting in Chapter 5.

At this point in our story, the Bay Area is about to be destroyed. Everyone in San Francisco is about to die, Rayford Steele knows this, and yet he does nothing? Just let it go.

The secret to any successful marriage is having a good Antichrist to oppose.

We’re supposed to see Rayford as a hero because he stalls for time so that Amanda can catch a flight to Milwaukee. This means that dozens of airport workers will spend their final hour dealing with the arrogant hassle of an uncooperative pilot before dying a fiery death. This is heroism? Just let it go.

The nuclear destruction of a half-dozen major cities hasn’t interfered with routine commercial air travel? Just let it go. Nuclear bombs have a no-radiation setting? JLIG. The obliteration of Chicago hasn’t disrupted cell-phone service? JLIG.

We’re getting through this chapter, darn it, no matter how many unacceptable and impossible things Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins pile in our way.

Rayford walks us through all the many exciting ways that a pilot can stall for time while taxiing to the gate after landing. None of these are actually very exciting, but Jenkins still draws it out for several paragraphs until readers share the frustration of the airport workers:

Finally, an exasperated laborer barked into his radio, “What’s the hold-up there, chief? I was told this was a VIP plane that needed fast service.”

We also share in Rayford’s “sigh of relief” when:

… Twenty minutes later … he discovered that Amanda’s plane was en route to Milwaukee. Now he could refuel, play it by the book, and settle in for the long flight over the Pacific.

The difference between our relief and Rayford’s is that he (and Jenkins) seemed to think this scene was fraught with suspense — will Amanda’s connecting flight take off on time? Whereas for readers, the tension wasn’t suspense, but the slow, grinding erosion of our patience — Good Lord, how long is this passage going to go on?

The unbearable thing here — the part I’m having a particularly hard time saying “Just let it go” to — is how wholly relaxed and at ease Rayford seems to be once Amanda’s plane escapes from the doomed city of San Francisco. As soon as that happens, our hero really does “settle in” without ever giving another thought to the millions who are about to be killed. He waves to the ground crew and signs off to the folks in the control tower without any consideration of how they are all about to die.

In order to stomach that, I’ve latched onto a strained and implausible reading of one awkward sentence in this chapter:

The senior flight attendant of a crew that was two-thirds as many people as the entire passenger list rapped on the cockpit door and opened it as Rayford taxied slowly down the runway.

There are two possible ways to read that bit there about the crew being “two-thirds as many people as the entire passenger list.” I’m going to go with the more convoluted reading. This is almost certainly wrong, but it will help me to continue reading instead of flinging this book out of a window.

The likelier reading here is that Rayford is yet again complaining. He has a habit of framing his complaints as indictments against others for not doing things the more sensible way that he would do them, and this seems to be another instance of that. I’m afraid that’s all that Jenkins intends here. Our hero is grumbling about the inefficient extravagances of his new boss. After all, grumbling about their boss while obeying his every order is what the members of the Tribulation Force imagine it means to “stand against the Antichrist.”

But it’s also just barely possible to read that sentence another way. It might indicate Rayford taking some satisfaction in the success of his otherwise-unmentioned scheme to arrange for an inordinately overlarge flight crew.

Maybe this was Rayford’s desperate attempt to save at least a handful of lives by overstaffing his plane. Every extra flight attendant he could get on board would be one life spared from the nuclear annihilation about to be unleashed on San Francisco.

I realize that this would make no sense in the real world, or in any fictional world even slightly resembling our own. Here in reality, every member of the staff on board Air Force One has been carefully screened and has high-level security clearance. Air Force One would never indiscriminately pick up random airline flight attendants at the next stop.

But here in Nicolae, that seems to be exactly how Global Community One operates — relying on all the same airport crews for refueling and safety checks as any routine commercial flight.* So it wouldn’t violate the rules of this book for Rayford to try to save some lives by taking on extra staff.

Is there anything in the text to support this imaginative reading of this one sentence? Well, no. But the text is poorly written enough that it doesn’t wholly rule it out either. So I’m going with this. I’m going to assume that this single fleeting reference to the size of the flight crew implies that Rayford massively overstaffed his plane for the flight out of San Francisco in a desperate bid to save as many lives as he could.

This would be completely out of character for Rayford, but that’s why I’m sticking with this theory. If I’m going to continue reading about Rayford Steele and being expected to admire him, then I need him to do something here — even something as meager as this. Flying off from a doomed city in a still-mostly-empty plane, having only rescued a handful of extra crew members may not seem like much, but it still would put Rayford in an entirely different moral universe from the self-absorbed bystander who “breathes a sigh of relief” and “settles in” after not even trying to help save anyone.

Our friend Buck Williams, meanwhile, is still wandering around the nuked-but-not-irradiated ruins of Chicago. He’s wandering in search of Chloe. Last he heard from her, she was racing along the highway just outside of the city when there was a crash and an explosion. Buck has left the highway and is working his way toward downtown Chicago. (Just let it go.)

Chloe’s situation seems urgent, and a slow, random search on foot doesn’t seem like the most expedient approach, but it gives Buck time to do some pondering. (I’m not sure it qualifies as “soul searching,” since our hero seems to be lacking the prerequisite for that.)

Buck takes this time to ponder his vocation and his marriage, both of which now seem in jeopardy due to the arrival of the second horseman of the apocalypse.

Buck didn’t feel much like a journalist, standing in the midst of the chaos. He should have been drinking it all in, impressing it upon his brain, asking questions of people who seemed to be in charge. But no one seemed in charge. Everyone was working.

The archetype of the modern American journalist, Buck Williams is unable to report on anything unless there’s a press secretary standing at a clearly marked podium, dictating talking points and instructing him what to write.

And Buck didn’t care whether he could translate this into a story or not.

I’m not sure whether I can translate that into a coherent thought or not. The Global Community Air Force bombed the city of Chicago. That’s who, what and where. Readers of this series can never be sure about “when,” but presumably Buck knows what day it is and what time it is, even if the authors never bother to tell us. None of that requires any “translation” to be turned into a report. Nothing does. Who, what, when, where is not an act of translation. Why and how may involve a bit more in the way of interpretation, but it’s still not rocket science.

“GCAF bombs Chicago” is the headline and the first sentence. But Buck won’t ever report that story. His magazine won’t ever report that story (when the story began, everybody at Buck’s office went home).

His magazine, along with every other major media outlet, was controlled, if not owned, by Nicolae Carpathia. As much as he strived to keep things objective, everything seemed to come out with the spin of the master deceiver. The worst part was, Nicolae was good at it. Of course, he had to be. It was his very nature. Buck just hated the idea that he himself was being used to spread propaganda and lies that people were eating like ice cream.

Awww, poor little Buck is powerless to buck the system.

This is nonsense. Buck Williams is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Global Community Weekly. He can print whatever he wants to print. Sure, he might get fired afterward, but he could do it. He’s only powerless to tell the whole truth if he regards keeping his job as more important than telling that truth — which, clearly, he does.

If Buck chose to do so, he could fire off a 5,800-page special edition publishing every word of “Bible prophecy scholarship” from Bruce Barnes’ hard-drive. Nicolae wouldn’t have a chance to stop him until it was too late and all of that prophetic “truth” had become public knowledge. But that would mean no more prestigious “level 2-A clearance,” and no more unlimited expense account to awe the guys at the Range Rover dealership. And if all of Bruce’s secret knowledge were no longer a secret, what would that mean for the secret-keepers of his inner-inner-circle? They would lose the one thing that makes them so special.

Most of all though, right now, right here, he cared about nothing but Chloe. He had allowed the thought to invade his mind that he might have lost her. He knew he would see her again at the end of the Tribulation, but would he have the will to go on without her? She had become the center of his life, around which everything else revolved.

Buck loves his wife so much that he even almost considered telling her about the advance warning he’d been given about when and where World War III was going to start.

During the short time they had been together, she had proved more than he ever could have hoped for in a wife. It was true they were bound in a common cause that made them look past the insignificant and the petty, which seemed to get in so many other couples’ way. But he sensed she would never have been catty or a nag anyway. She was selfless and loving. She trusted him and supported him completely.

The odd thing about this passage is that it seems like its addressed to female readers. It reeks as the sort of boys’ club banter that some men might say to other men when they’re confident no women can overhear (“You know how wives are, doncha guys? Bunch of catty nags, amirite fellas?”). Yet I think it’s actually intended as the authors’ advice to good Christian wives — a short version of the “Proverbs 31 woman” pep talk.

What might otherwise be good advice for any spouse — be selfless and loving, give your spouse your trust and support — becomes irksome when it seems directed primarily, or exclusively, at wives. It gives the sense — reinforced by everything we’ve ever read about Buck and Rayford — that the husband’s job is to be selfish, to be loved, and to expect and enjoy the unconditional trust and support of his wife.

Fortunately, the authors do provide one useful suggestion here for young Christian couples just starting out. The danger in any marriage, the authors suggest, is that you’ll get bogged down in “the insignificant and the petty,” which will result in the wife yielding to the natural feminine tendency to be catty and a nag. But you can spare your marriage the strain of that by finding common cause in an apocalyptic struggle against the forces of Satan.

This may explain why so many “pro-family” Christian groups spend so much time denouncing alleged Satanic conspiracies. They think we need Satan and the Antichrist. They keep our marriages strong.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* This is true even after World War III breaks out. Global Community One simply lands in San Francisco and has whoever happens to be working there come out to refuel the plane. There’s no bother checking to see if any of these workers might be sympathizers with the ex-president or the militias who are, at this very moment, waging armed insurrection against the potentate.

This is particularly strange given that Nicolae’s massively disproportionate response of collective punishment and mass-murder has singled out airports and airport workers as targets of his wanton slaughter.

It’s not hard to imagine an airplane mechanic who just transferred out to San Francisco after more than 10 years in Chicago, where he worked at O’Hare with his brother and several good friends. His brother and all those friends are dead now. They were slain earlier this same day by the very same man whose plane has just arrived — the very same brother-killing mass-murderer whose plane this mechanic has just been tasked with refueling.

  • hidden_urchin

    And even if his attempt at sabotage failed, that mechanic would be a greater hero than our protagonists by far.

    Flash ficcers? Y’all want this one?

  • GeniusLemur

    “Buck didn’t feel much like a journalist”
    Of course he doesn’t. He never does, for the same reason I never feel much like a blender.

  • AndrewSshi

    I… don’t… think I can read any more of Fred’s exegesis of LB… After almost a decade I’ve just found that the characters are just so repulsive that I don’t even want to read Fred’s tearing down the novelists and their novel.  I mean, we’re not even to the fantasies of Jesus melting L&J’s political enemies or of the ideal of the Millennial Kingdom being Christ’s bureaucratic functionary and kneecap breaker.  The protagonists are just loathsome people and reflect a loathsome interpretation of the Christian faith.

    I think I’m done.

  • GeniusLemur

    “She had become the center of his life, around which everything else revolved.”
    His wife is the center, not God.
    Once again we see how deep the faith of these RTC’s and the RTCs that wrote them is.

  • flat

    just let it go

  • flat

    A new left behind post I had to wait for it but it was worth it.

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    The more I hear about these awful books, the more I’m convinced that the Trib Force gang are the End Times’ version of Nazi sympathizers.

    “Resist?  What—and risk getting killed?  You be the hero.  I’ve got my own life to worry about.”

    And, since they all believe Christ will defeat Nicolae and redeem the world in the end anyway, what’s the risk dying heroically?  Aren’t they already, technically, saved?  Their tickets to eternal paradise are already stamped.

  • GeniusLemur

    I keep thinking that, but I keep coming back anyway. Maybe there’s something wrong with me.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    This talk about Our Heroes and their deranged behavior makes me wonder: Do you think the story could have worked if the protagonists were designed as anti-heroes? Imagine that Ray was intentionally self-interested and short-sighted, that Buck was intentionally narcissistic and cowardly. Imagine that they did good deeds because of and/or in spite of these traits, that they made the world a better place while pursuing their own petty ends. Do you think that could have worked?

    The plot would still be rubbish, of course, and there would still be massive holes and failures of logic. But I could see such a story being a more character-driven piece where the plot served only to push them forward. Showing flawed characters doing the right thing for the wrong reasons could give an insight into the human thought process, giving us glimpses into our own flaws and how we overcome them.

    Could that work out, or am I thinking way too artsy for this garbage?

  • Thrownaway

    How much do we want to wager that at some point later, in one line or less, Rayford will think about all those people in a very abstract, ‘such a pity’ sort of way that does not acknowledge that he was a party to the slaughter in his own way?

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    As a writer, I find this dissection tremendously useful. Picking out the errors in awful literature makes it easier to find and fix similar (though hopefully smaller) errors in your own work.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    That’s the recurring problem – the main characters can’t be heroes because they know how the story’s going to end and they know that nothing they do will matter, so they act accordingly. Honestly, it could still work if the leads were observers, a technique used frequently in science fiction, particularly post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. Of course, our leads steadfastly refuse to observe anything about their doomed, totalitarian world.

  • hidden_urchin

    I think the problem is that they stll have to do something. A character like you described would work (think Han Solo from the first part of Ep. IV) but not if it remained as passive as this pair.

  • Randomosity

    The only way this makes even a little bit of sense is if Buck and Rayford are siding with the anti-Christ. Intentions aren’t magic, but these character seem to think all they are responsible for is to think bad things about Nicky and it’s good enough.

    They come across as anti-Christ-siding collaborators claiming that they aren’t collaborators in any way. Why else sit silently by while people they could have warned die? Why else walk past a bunch of wounded people in the airport? Heroes are what they do, not what they tell the reader they think about doing and then not do.

    Imagine if we embedded Buck and Rayford into an Al-Qaida cell. If they did everything (or avoided doing anything) that they do here, they’d be a perfect fit to fill the hole Osama bin-Laden left behind.

  • BrianBaresch

    I try to believe six impossible things before breakfast, and still it’s taken me more than a week to get through this chapter.

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

    You know, overstaffing the plane could work if there had been some preparation and advance warning among a resistance movement.

    Let’s say Fitzhugh’s warning filters past Buck’s bump-on-a-log impression.

    Say Buck was actually the can-do type.

    - Buck works out how to alert readers of his magazine to coded words on certain pages.

    - Said readers in resistance cells piece together that a possible nuclear war is imminent.

    - Said resistance cells begin acquiring false credentials allowing them to move freely about within the GC hierarchy.

    Now, let’s say Rayford was more human than douchebag, and he knows about these resistance cells. They could exchange coded messages via the control tower, and voila, instant resistance cell travel aboard the safest plane on the planet!

  • Magic_Cracker

    When do we get to the part where we find out it’s really still the 1st century and the past 1900 years have been an increasingly self-contradictory, unsustainable Satanic illusion and that Christ’s return is delayed but imminent, but only if enough people wake up to the Truth? What? No one ever wakes up to realize the complete and utter impossibility of their own thoughts and actions and those of everyone and everything happening around them, and they just ride this roller-coaster* right to the horrific, monstrous, and omnicidal end, cheering all the way? And then it’s just over?

    I’m outta here!

    *for certain values of “roller-coaster”

  • Magic_Cracker

    Hey, “Anti-Christ” is only four letters removed from “Christ” so, you know, no big!

  • Xclamation

    “Buck didn’t feel much like a journalist, standing in the midst of the chaos.”
    “, resulting in one of the few instances where his perception and reality collided into each other like a fairly dumb hamster in a ball might, from time to time and mostly due to the law of large numbers, smack right into a brick wall.”

    Fixed it for you.

  • http://twitter.com/ddt dan turner

    Taking Fred’s example of charitable reading, I can possibly — through force of will — see Buck’s incomprehension of the newsy nature of what he is witnessing in the model of what D.M. Thomas wrote of a character who witnesses some of the Holocaust: something along the lines of “he could not see it because it was happening”.

    And, continuing with the charity — this time to the authors — I can see how no matter what Buck wrote and managed to push through an editorial meeting of GCsymps, or even through an editorial process, would not see the light of day. If Carpathia controlled the presses, or the distribution system, it’d be easy to make sure that not one word of Buck’s never-to-be-written exposé would reach anyone.

    That said: there’s nobody to talk to because everybody’s working? That’s a simple, throw-away sentence that tells so much about the authors and their conception of reality — if there’s nobody “in charge”, it can’t be real?

  • http://mistermunshun.blogspot.com/ Carl Eusebius

     She had become the center of his life, around which everything else revolved.

    Sounds kind of stalker-y to me. But then, I write about Twilight, where the “love” interest breaks into the home of his prey love to watch her while she sleeps.

  • thebewilderness

    This reminds me of an exceptionally bad piece written by Poul Anderson  in the mid fifties called Brain Wave. You pretty much spend the whole thing going wut?

  • Magic_Cracker

    - Said readers in resistance cells piece together that a possible nuclear war is imminent.

    - Said resistance cells…

    I misread, intentionally at first — and then intentionally, “Said” as “Said.” I rather liked the idea of sending messages by way of some kind of semiotic code.

  • aunursa

    I LIKED your comment because you didn’t flaunt your position at the top of the thread.

  • Randomosity

     And if you remove those four letters…

  • LL

    Just imagine everybody in San Francisco as the “47%.” I’m pretty sure LaJenkins do. Then it’s easy to feel like nothing of value would be lost. They’re not people. They’re gays and moochers. 

  • aunursa

    … Twenty minutes later … he discovered that Amanda’s plane was en route to Milwaukee. Now he could refuel, play it by the book, and settle in for the long flight over the Pacific.

    That’s true.  But still his mind is going to be seething when the Bay Area is destroyed.  He’s going to be enraged at Nicolae, and wishing there was something he could have done.

    But don’t worry.  Brave Sir Rayford will get his revenge … when he causes the Potentate to fall down in the aisle during the takeoff.

  • Turcano

    Well, seeing as how the “protagonist” of the story is an emotionally-dead narcissist, they kind of deserve each other.

  • ReverendRef

    Oh man.  Where to begin . . .

    Maybe this was Rayford’s desperate attempt to save at least a handful of
    lives by overstaffing his plane. Every extra flight attendant he could
    get on board would be one life spared from the nuclear annihilation
    about to be unleashed on San Francisco.

    So, you’re saying this is like a Tribulation Force Schindler’s List??  “Quick, fill out the transfer paperwork and get yourself on my plane as a stewardess.  I’ll save as many as I can.”

    He should have been drinking it all in, impressing it upon his brain,
    asking questions of people who seemed to be in charge. But no one seemed
    in charge. Everyone was working.

    IOW — everyone else was busy being a decent human being, reaching out to those in need, sacrificing their own desires and probably safety in favor of helping their neighbor.  But (as JC points out in Matthew 25), Buck never actually SAW Jesus in the midst of the chaos, so screw ‘em.

    She had become the center of his life, around which everything else revolved.

    As GeniusLemur pointed out, his wife, not God, was the center of his life.  His wife, the person whom he could control.  Reminds me of that song, “I wanna talk about me, wanna talk about I, wanna talk about number one.”

    During the short time they had been together, she had proved more than he ever could have hoped for in a wife . . .

    Yep, that’s what I always wanted in a wife — someone who never talked back, never had an original thought in her life, was hardwired to satisfy my every need, always looks at me with hero-worship, and is . . . um . . . available . . . whenever I desire. 

    Just to point out, if I treated Mrs. Ref like Buck treats Chloe, I would have been dead or single years ago.

    It’s been said before, someone will say it again:  These books suck.

  • aunursa

    would he have the will to go on without her? She had become the center of his life, around which everything else revolved.

    Sounds like it’s time for another episode of Chloe: The Rise of Antichrist.

  • Dogfacedboy

    “She had become the center of his life, around which everything else revolved.” 

    Yes, so it’s understandable that when they last spoke on the phone and she screamed and crashed the Range Rover and the line went dead, his next action was to call his dad and catch up on things.

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

    I grew up with all sorts of warnings about the danger of violent entertainment leading to desensitized youths indifferent to the sufferings of others, so it’s interesting to see that same sort of desensitization play out in other arenas. 

    I have a vague memory of a news report of a disaster with an eyewitness account where the person said like “it was like a scene from a movie”. If the only exposure you have to natural disasters are action films, then disasters are no longer things that destroy property or harm people, they become things that you observe

    So it is with the Tribbies: the Tribulation and all that entails is not a thing that kills people or puts one at risk, it is a thing to be witness to. That’s all Buck and Ray ever do, is bear witness. Everything that they see, they view not as something that is happening to them or affecting them, but merely as something that they are supposed to see.

    Buck is on a street crowded with EMTs and injured people, and he’s not even considering helping anyone. Why? Because this is Rapture business! It’s a thing you see, a thing you watch (with horror! Horror!) but it’s not a thing that you’re personally involved in! Now, petty squabbles with co-workers? That’s some get-up-on-your-desk-and-kick-a-door-shut type stuff! 

    Rayford’s wife flying somewhere? Not Rapture stuff, so Rayford is personally involved. The hundreds of people he personally knew and worked with over decades who were incinerated at O’Hare? Victims of the Rapture; it’s like watching those monster movies where they knock down buildings. Sure, people are dead, but that’s a thing you watch, like TV or movies. 

  • aunursa

    So, you’re saying this is like a Tribulation Force Schindler’s List?? “Quick, fill out the transfer paperwork and get yourself on my plane as a stewardess. I’ll save as many as I can.”

    “I could have saved more of them.  I could have saved more.  If I had stalled for more time.  I didn’t ask for enough crew.  I didn’t do enough.  Another in-flight meal … That could have saved some cooks.  Why didn’t I ask for another meal?  Five more flight attendants.  A medical emergency …  I could have saved a doctor.” Rayford breaks down and collapses.

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

    Briefest flash-fiction…

    “Raptor 666, can you repeat that call? I’m not sure I caught it.”

    “I’ll spell it out for you tower: as soon as we landed, I saw fluid pressures drop in the brake lines. I’m bettin’ a day’s pay that our runway isn’t safe to land on.”

    “OK, we’ll close it up and send out a crew.”

    Rayford paused, taking a deep breath. Now came the risky bit.

    “Actually, tower, until I can get those lines looked at, you should probably hazmat the runways we taxied across. You had us landing on the Allcome strip, didn’t you?”

    There was no response, and Rayford felt his shirt dampen with sweat. Whenever he got nervious, his shirts would pit out like novice day at a NASCAR race. 

    “Raptor 666, we read you. Dispatching hazmat teams now. How long until you can get those brake lines looked at?”

    Rayford let out the deep breath he just realized he’d been holding. Tower had got the message.

    “It’s going to be thirty minutes I think. Got VIP’s on board who want a fast turnaround, not much I can do about it.”

    “Roger that. Good luck, Captain.”

    The co-pilot had been silent the whole time, staring at Rayford. There are some things you don’t say on an open radio channel, and some conversations you don’t interrupt. “Hazmat” meant a terrorist threat, and all facilities should be evacuated quickly but discretely. “Allcome” was a less subtle cipher: a call for “Captain Allcome to security” meant every single person available should show up. Rayford had told the tower to evacuate the entire airport in thirty minutes or less. 

    “So, Captain, you, ah… want me to check in with the ground crew about those brake lines, notify the passengers about the delay?”

    Rayford hoped he looked commanding and confident, but he suspected the sweat stains spoiled the image.

    “The passengers should know about the delay, but no need to bore the Potentate with technical details. Step outside if you want, make a phone call if you can, but be ready for wheels up in thirty; we’ve got a long flight over the Pacific.”

  • VMink

    For all their talk about planes and how important Ray is, why doesn’t it ever occur to LeHaye or Jenkins that Ray could simply crash his plane and take out the AntiChrist right there?

    No, it’s got to be more complex than simply awful plotting.  It’s possible, even likely, that LeHaye simply could not image going against God’s script for the End of Days.

    I’m getting an image of Grand Moff Tarkin in my head for some reason….

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

    But don’t worry.  Brave Sir Rayford will get his revenge … when he
    causes the Potentate to fall down in the aisle during takeoff.

    As I recall, he and Mac McCullum also chortle to each other over making Supreme Commander Leon fall ass over teakettle down the hallway when they take off tout de suite.

  • fraser

     I’m thinking of the excellent British sixties film The Day the Earth Caught Fire. Two journalists as protagonists, and they would have Buck eating their dust.

  • fraser

     Given that they’re married and happy together, no. I have the same feeling about my wife a lot of the time. It may not be an accurate description of my worldview, but it feels like it is.

  • fraser

    Actually, the idea Nicky uses just the regular crew and never thinks about personal security (as distinguished from the security of his government) at all could be effective. Maybe his charismatic evil aura just defuses any hostile plans and he knows it. Or given he’s supposed to rise from the dead, if they kill him it’s all good.
    But I doubt they had anything like that in mind.

  • aunursa

    For all their talk about planes and how important Ray is, why doesn’t it ever occur to LeHaye or Jenkins that Ray could simply crash his plane and take out the AntiChrist right there?

    In the previous chapter Rayford actually did consider crashing the plane.  “It wouldn’t have bothered Rayford to crash and kill himself along with the Antichrist, but he didn’t want to be responsible for innocent lives, particularly that of his own wife.”  Of course after takoff from SFO, Rayford doesn’t consider crashing the plane now that Amanda has departed.

  • Thrownaway

    Flash-fic: The Mechanic

    Levon had been working like a fiend for the last fifteen hours.  No rest for the wicked, he told himself.  Mostly, though, it was to keep from thinking of his family, the people he’d grown up with, as shadows on the wall forever more.  When he was young he’d watched a documentary on the effects of atomic bombs on population centers and images like that stuck with him, more haunting than before because he could picture his brother, coffee in hand, caught in a flash and zapped utterly out of existence, or worse, screaming and burning…  The voice on the radio kept talking nonsense about ‘no-fallout nukes’ but Levon figured he knew what was up.

    Perhaps it was foolish to keep his radio on especially when every new announcement of “With great regret, the Potentate has ordered forces to do battle with So-and-So” felt like a fifty-foot drop off a ledge.  It was a dangerous distraction, but everyone else on the airfield was taking similar risks and not one of the bosses had any complaints or they’d have to give up their own little wires tucked under their ear protection, risk going hours not knowing if their own homes or families had joined the list of cities bombed.

    Another hour had passed while he assisted ground crews with aircraft checkovers.  Safety was paramount, even when they were being hassled to get planes in and out as fast as possible.  Levon, even in his grief and anger at how terrible the world had become, was careful to hit every point on his checklist with his usual attention.  If a man can’t do his job right, better go home.

    On the last rig, almost everyone stopped dead still when the voice in their ear updated the list of doomed cities.  Chuck, the guy next to Levon, staggered, all the breath leaving his body as his tools dropped from nerveless fingers.  Levon quickly helped him up and out of the traffic lanes.  Chuck’s eyes were flooded with tears and he looked helplessly at Levon.   But there was nothing Levon could say even if they could hear each other properly through the noise and their own ear protection.  The best he could do was sit next to his coworker and put an arm around his shoulder.  Chuck didn’t exactly lean into him but he didn’t shrug the arm off either.  It took a few minutes for his heaving shoulders to still.  Without looking right at the man, Levon handed him a clean-ish shop towel, squeezed his shoulder once, then stood to go back to work.  A moment later Chuck followed.  Next time their eyes met as they worked, Levon thought that he must be wearing that same expression- tired, worried, and furious anger all overlaid by a numb desire to carry on.

    When the next plane arrived, Levon stared in disbelief.  The insignia was impossible to miss- the Potentate himself.  The “Peacemaker” who was now dropping bombs on cities after all his talk about peace and disarmament.  The voice in his ear was again talking about how dismayed the world leader was about how all this was going, but it rang like tin in his ear, especially looking at that big, beautiful, unscarred plane.  

    Inside was the man who decided that Chicago was the threat, that the Windy City should not be preserved.  This was the man who pushed the button that fried Levon’s brother, his sister-in-law, the baby the pair had fought so hard for, especially after the Event had taken Sherry’s first son.

    The thoughts that came to Levon then shocked him.  His job was to make planes safe, to be sure people got where they were going.  Could he- Was he capable of damaging this plane in the hopes it would take that lying son-of-a-bitch down?  Would it pay back for all who died today?

    The worst part was that the plane just sat there and sat there, long after it should have been away.  The temptation wasn’t going anywhere.  Levon was very good at his job.  He knew exactly which parts had to be in top shape to be trusted in the air.  It would be so easy… Chuck would understand.  And it was almost like the pilot was begging someone to do just that because he was still. Just. Sitting there.  A dozen other flights took off in the time it took that guy to finish his checklist and stop quibbling.

    In the end, Levon didn’t do it.  He couldn’t.  When he thought about the plane going down, all he could think about were the other people inside.  Even to kill that man, Levon could not have innocent blood on his hands.  Enough, he thought.  Enough have died today.  Please… just let this be enough.

  • Will Hennessy

    You have scared me with your description of this mechanic. I don’t want him working on my plane after I bomb the hell out of cities for fun/power exhibition.

    Also, Fred, don’t mention that in the Hebrew scriptures, Proverbs 31 is immediately followed by the book of Ruth, as a kind of illustration or example of this “virtuous woman” being described in 31. With knowledge that a Moabite woman (or, for the sake of argument, let’s call her an “immigrant”) could be an example of a virtuous woman–you know, someone who defies cultural boundaries and convention and common sense and eventually is recognized for the righteous babe that she is–then perhaps the image of the silent goodly christian wife goes out the window and young men may start marrying virtuous feminists… or foreigners… or god forbid non-christians… if such a thing existed.

    Which of course it doesn’t. Not for us real, true christians anyway…

  • heckblazer

    Forget the lack of radiation.  Here’s a map of Chicago showing the effects of a single B-83 nuclear warhead.   That red circle in the middle  is the 20 psi overpressure zone.  Pretty much everything inside that circle has been destroyed.   The big orange circle is shows the extant of thermal radiation.  Anyone inside with exposed skin  gets third degree flash burns.   Any exposed flammables like wood, paper, leaves, car tires, immediately catches fire.  Buck is going to have a tough time getting through that firestorm let alone find Chloe somewhere in the rubble of absolute destruction.

    And this is the effect of a single bomb.  One B-2 Spirit can carry a dozen. 

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    So it is with the Tribbies: the Tribulation and all that entails is not a thing that kills people or puts one at risk, it is a thing to be witness to

    There was a short story in Analog-or-Asimovs some years back: you follow the everyday life of a man whose job it is to listen to workers’ complaints and reassure them that it’s his job to worry about it. It’s a soul-destroying job, it is, all that worry piling up, but studies have shown that the other workers are much more productive once they’ve been told that someone else is worrying about the problem.

    Comes the day when one of the things that a worker had told him was a problem blows up catastrophically. “How could this happen? You said I had nothing to worry about!” 

    Turns out his job was only to worry about things; actually doing something about them wouldn’t be cost effective, so it wasn’t done.
     

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    “It wouldn’t have bothered Rayford to crash and kill himself along with the Antichrist, but he didn’t want to be responsible for innocent lives, particularly that of his own wife.” 

    I guess the population of San Francisco doesn’t count as “innocent lives”.  Or maybe it’s all right as long as he’s not personally responsible for them being nuked.

  • Jay

    Buck seems to have been reading the Bible while watching Fight Club and gotten confused, because he seems to think that the Great Commission says “We do not talk about God club.”.

  • Ken

    I’m not sure it qualifies as “soul searching,” since our hero seems to be lacking the prerequisite for that.

    “The” prerequisite?  I suppose “a soul” is the intended meaning, but there’s a few other things that Buck lacks that you need for soul-searching – humility, empathy, honesty, and self-awareness topping the list.

  • Morilore

    I guess the population of San Francisco doesn’t count as “innocent lives”.  Or maybe it’s all right as long as he’s not personally responsible for them being nuked.

    It’s the same thing as the lying thing, right?  Where any kind of deception short of “I am currently saying something that is explicitly not true on purpose” is A-OK?  Define the sin in an extremely narrow way that requires absolute volition, and then pat yourself on the back for being supremely moral and never violating your principles without ever ever ever having to think about the consequences of your actions.

  • Tricksterson
  • Fusina

     Dunno about hamsters, but I had a gerbil that used to try to run the cats over when she was in the ball. The first time I saw it I thought it was just random chance, but the second time the cat moved before contact and the gerbil re-aimed the ball.

    I had the sort of gerbils that if they were people, they would have totally worn black leather and taken no shit from anybody, in an “I might be perceived as prey by most, but that isn’t how I see myself. She didn’t generally bite people, but then I mostly left her alone with her fellow inmate, just making sure they had clean bedding, enough food and water, and some toys to play with.


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