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.

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  • 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?

  • aunursa

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

  • 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

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

  • 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.

  • Zippy

    AndrewSshi: I… don’t… think I can read any more of Fred’s exegesis of LB …. I think I’m done.

    Have faith, so to speak. Even fans admit that Books 2 & 3 & 5 are sophomore slumps compared to 1 & 4, or especially to 7, 9, and 11. Although maybe that’s a blithe reassurance given the rough patch we’re in this month.I suppose you could skip ahead to future books and then come back and ask, “where did that come from” which might be useful in Countdowns of the Next Book. Make it fun for yourself again.This series actually is quite useful in terms of evaluating how our Christian faith is being advertized as opposed to how it ought to be lived.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Turcano

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

  • 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.

  • Tricksterson

    Is stalker behavior stalkery if the object of obssession welcomes it?  I’ve only read the first book but it seems like she stalks him almost as much as he does her.

  • Münchner Kindl

     Actually, if we go by how much time Buck spends thinking and talking about each day (that parts of his day we readers see) than Nicky is the center of his life, along with how great a journalist he is, and how frustrating it is to be not able to report on this, but how nice the perks are.

    Do we ever see him thinking about Chloe when he’s not searching for her after the telephone was interrupted.

  • flat

    just let it go

  • Tricksterson
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Jurgan

    You have to think about what’s at stake.  The fate of the world is not at stake, because it’s already been decided.  The only thing at stake is how many people get saved with it.  As such, the only heroic thing they could do is spread the word and try to save as many souls as possible, even at the cost of their lives.  Of course, they don’t, because that would be hard.

  • Münchner Kindl

    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.

    Which is why there passivity is doubly horribly: they know with surety that they won’t suffer long – but everybody else they don’t lift a hand to save will end up in hell.

    And the really infuriating thing is the insistence on “events are prophesied = we can’t change them” when most parts are not prophesied. The characters know that a war will happen – even without the Bible they know because Fitz told Buck – and that the Antichrist will win. (In Revelation, IIRC it only says war will be waged, not who will win, but JLIG).
    But they don’t know which cities will be destroyed- two or 10 or 100? They don’t know how many people will die – 1 000 or 1 million? And they don’t know who will die (besides Chloe, maybe) – John Smith, who’s a saved Christian, or Henry Miller, who’s unsaved? They could do heroic things and still accept the prophecy of grand schemes.

    It’s really aggravating.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Mrs Grimble

    In that film, the newspaper building scenes were shot inside a real newspaper building (the Daily Express), with the paper’s real-life editor playing a major role as the fictional editor.  So although the science was hokey (atomic bomb explosions knock the Earth out of orbit), the depiction of journalism was pretty accurate and the journalists were perforce heroic.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    Hang on. Since when has the Daily Express been a real newspaper?

    TRiG.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    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?

    This would be a very interesting story. Esp. if you have (you would probably need) a few other protagonists who are idealistic yet clever enough to see the egoism and manipulate the anti-heroes into doing good.

    As Tv tropes says, Good is not nice – see Prof Snape in the Potterverse, or Granny Weatherwax in Discworld. And “the opposite of meaning well is doing good”, so this could be used to show why intentions are less important than actions: by having a naive, “good” character who ends up causing lots of bad things because of his lack of knowledge; egoistic anti-heroes, who end up doing good for selfish reasons; and idealistic smart heroes who manipulate them or simply convince them why helping people is smart long-term.

    Yes, very interesting, and also plausible because you can find dozens of cases for each type in history.

    My first example I always think of is Bismarck: he hated social democrats, so he passed two major laws: one forbidding all socialists including social democrats (which was bad); and the other starting social insurance (for health, old age pensions and later accidents). Why? Because circumstances for workers were terrible, and he realized that by removing legitimate grievances, people would be less attracted by the social democrats and be thankful for getting their basic needs granted. Whereas if their complaints were ignored by the govt. and the employers and no help available, the workers were more likely to push for revolution. So bad intentions => good work; helping people = self-interest long term. (Screwing people and enviroment over is always done by people too stupid to think long-term, as every research shows.)

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Magic_Cracker

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

  • Randomosity

     And if you remove those four letters…

  • Tricksterson

    And a hyphen.  Don’t forget the poor hyphen.

  • 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

    – 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.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Rayford would probably warn him not to, since it’s “going against God’s will.”  If Buck did it anyway, he would warn Carpathia of the plot to stay in the Antichrist’s good graces as his personal pilot.

    Then there would either be a pointlessly dull rescue scene where they free Buck from prison before he could get his head removed from his neck (followed by a scene in which Buck basically said, “Boy, you were right–I was such an idiot for trying to thwart the will of God!”) or else, that would be where Buck died, and when he came back in the last book he still wouldn’t blame Rayford for what he did–after all, Rayford understood that it was God’s will, even when Buck didn’t. 

    But in a better novel published by semi-competent writers, your idea would be a great one.

  • 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”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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?

  • fraser

     Brain Wave ain’t great, but I didn’t find it exceptionally bad, either.

  • 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. 

  • Tricksterson

    “just imagine everybody in San Francisco as the “47%” “51.2%””

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    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.

    Yeah, nobody need imagine for a moment that LaJenkins feel any sympathy for the residents of San Francisco.  Jenkins (on his own) made San Francisco the setting for an atheists-massacre-Christians scene in the dystopian Atheistopia of Soon.

    http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/soon-chapter-5-frisco/

    http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/soon-chapter-6-the-raid/

  • 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.

  • 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….

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • GeniusLemur

     I recall a guy a lot more emotional and compassionate than Rayford in a similar situation. The conclusion he came to was “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few… or the one.”

  • P J Evans

     Yes, and I’d trust him in an emergency, or a desperate situation. (He ha a better sense of humor than Ray, too.)

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    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?

    Ray either thought or will think shortly of crashing, but dismiss it because Prophecy says the Anti-Christ will rise again anyway.

    Again, this is stupid: The biblical text doesn’t say anything about how or when the Anti-Christ will be killed and then rise (or how long a resting period he needs) so maybe God put Ray in the position of pilot because Ray was meant to try and kill Nicky according to scripture.

    But that thought never occurs. Prophecy = sit passivly and watch is the only thing the authors can grasp.

  • GeniusLemur

     The Biblical text doesn’t talk about an Antichrist at all.

  • Münchner Kindl

     Yeah, you know what I mean – it talks about a deceiver, who is wounded and healed by the beast from the sea. (Although I guess we won’t get real beasts).

    It would be an interesting Right Behind fic, though: God has made Buck and Ray accept positions to do the right thing – Buck to spread the real message (at least Cam-Cam in the movie did something there), and Ray to make an attempt on the life of Nicky; and yet both fail to do what they are supposed to according to prophecy. Either because Nicky’s mind-mojo keeps them from it (if you posit he has magic charisma) or because their wishes to stay in a comfy position with perks fits so nicely with Nicky’s agenda that God’s voice goes unheard (a good opening for an evisceration of both characters).

  • aunursa

    Either because Nicky’s mind-mojo keeps them from it (if you posit he has magic charisma)

    It might be changed for Right Behind.  But in the Left Behind series, Rayford, Buck, and other RTCs are immune to Nicky’s mind control powers.

  • Makabit

    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?

    This is the recurrent thought everyone seems to have, (me too). The only two things I can assume are:

    1. Possibly that wouldn’t stop Nicolae. (“Um Jack, I’m pretty sure President Johnson is dead.” “That wouldn’t stop Lyndon!!”) Nicolae is, it seems, rather more than human. Perhaps a plane crash would kill everyone on board, but Nicolae would miraculously walk away from the crash, to even greater public acclaim. But if that’s true, it should be explicitly acknowledged as their problem–no assassination attempt will rid them of this man.

    2. I don’t know evangelical culture, but is it possible that fear of damnation for the suicide/murder of the people on board who are not Nicolae would keep Rayford from doing this? It’s still not the greatest excuse–Huck Finn, after all, who was just a kid, had the guts to say “All right, I’ll GO to hell!” But it might explain the thought process.

    Other than that, I got nothing. 

  • DavidCheatham

    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?

    As I’ve said before here, I’d love to see a universe where prophesy was king…and it was nearly impossible to stop it from happening.
    And, more disturbingly, if the TF did stop it, it _happened anyway_. Ray _could_ crash the plane and kill everyone, but as the anti-Christ could not have possibly have died, Ray would  wake up the next day, in bed, after having safely landing the plane.

    For less important things, they could just sorta ‘happen’ regardless of whether or not they actually ‘happened’. For example, the TF could stop the nukes, then everyone who would have died just drops dead anyway, and later everyone just talks about the nukes that went off.

    Which would, heh, be a reasonable explanation for the fact that everyone thinks Chicago  is nuked but secretly wasn’t…instead, it was _supposed_ to be nuked, so even though it actually wasn’t, everyone is somewhat confused except the TF and the anti-Christ.

    ..actually, for a bit of a hope spot, I’d make _all_ non-RTC, Nicky included, not actually notice anything wrong. Someone runs up and assassinates Nicky, only the RTCs remember this five minutes later…but not even the assassin or Nicky will. It’s part of the background satanic mind-control that _everyone_ is subject to. (And then, to change things up, once Satan gets here, he _is_ aware of what’s going on.)

    This gives a bit of hope, a question: Is there someone the heroes can do that is extreme enough to actually _divert_ events? And early one, give them something they think was diverted, but no one is every really sure.

    If a writer wants to make a universe where resistance really is futile, where there is _literally_ a known checklist of things that will happen that cannot be altered, that’s fine…but they can’t do it via the excuse of lazy writing where no one ever tries to change those things. If that _really_ is a constraint of the book, they need to _justify_ it.

  • aunursa

    Ray could crash the plane and kill everyone, but as the anti-Christ could not have possibly have died, Ray would wake up the next day, in bed, after having safely landing the plane.

    Five years before The Rapture

    Ned: Ray? Ray Steele! I thought that was you!
    Rayford: I’m sorry. Have we— uh—
    Ned: My oh my! Rayford Steele. Don’t say you don’t remember me, ’cause I sure as hell remember you. Well?
    Rayford: ???
    Ned: Ned Ryerson? Needlenose Ned? Ned the Head. Come on, buddy. We were fraternity brothers at Purdue?
    Rayford: Ned?
    Ned: I see you clicking through that brain of yours. Click-click, click-click, click-click—Bing! Ned Ryerson, did the whistling trick with my belly button in the talent show. Bing! Ned Ryerson, got the shingles real bad senior year, almost didn’t graduate. Bing again! Ned Ryerson, went out with your ex-girlfriend Kitty Wiley a couple of times— ’til she stopped answering my phone calls. Well?
    Rayford [resigned]: Ned Ryerson.
    Ned: Bing!
    Rayford: So what’re you doing with yourself, Ned?
    Ned: I found Jesus. I’m a born-again Christian.
    Rayford: Of course you are.
    Ned: Have you got Jesus in your heart, Ray?

  • 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. 

  • 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.
     

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    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.

    Of course, that’s one of the many things a first-worlder takes so much for granted they don’t stop to think about: we don’t experience catastrophes first-hand any more. (unless natural catastrophes like Sandy and Katrina, but then only if you live in certain areas).

    It’s a good thing of course we don’t experience them firsthand, only from TV or reports by aid workers or stories from our parents and grandparents about how WWII and the years after were like for civilians.

    But on the other hand, it is one step of removal to empathy. A normal person will of course consciously take that step and remind themselves that the suffering are people.

    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!

    Well to be fair, US law does breed a culture of not helping:
    1. People are not required to take a first aid course for their drivers license, so most people don’t know any basic help
    2. While some states do have Samaritian laws, in many other states people who help and do wrong can be sued later.

    So Buck might simply not know what to do to help and be afraid of making it worse.

    Also, it’s a dilemma that serious journalists (those who actually do write reports) face every time they are in an emergency situation: stand around and report – because their news will affect 100 000s of viewers, who can then spend money or send technical aid corps/ red cross etc.
    or pitch in and help.

    Many good reporters couldn’t cope with this and committed suicide for not doing more. (TV tropes has a page listing real life examples).

  • Makabit

    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.

    I remember reading a story out of Bosnia, back in the 90s, where a reporter commented that a few different parents had told her that they felt guilty for not having been able to protect their kids from knowing what was going on–like the guy in “Life is Beautiful” did. 

    That just killed me. You’re in the middle of a goddamn genocide, and you’re mad at yourself for not being a character from a movie. But these things shape what we expect.

  • Münchner Kindl

     To be fair, that’s not the fault of the movies. A hundred years ago, people’s conceptions were shaped by books and by legends. In WWI, young men marched off singing because they believed the stories that war was noble and would make men out of them. The parents in this story might have compared themselves to other legendary heroes who managed to save their children instead of a movie.

    Yes, movies and literature influences the perceptions, morals and beliefs of society, but it also goes the other way: changing beliefs and morals of society are reflected in movies and shows.

  • Makabit

    True, other media couldand have similar effects. But movies are a major one in the past few generations, and…it just broke me up that people would compare themselves unfavorably to some character from a stupid, unrealistic feel-good movie at a time like that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Kimm12 Kimm Rockwood Reilly

    I honestly think it was a useful analogy. Anyone in the middle of a genocide is going to want to protect their kids from seeing the worst of the worst, and hate that their not able to do so. Using the movie refernce was their way of explaining what they wanted, without having to talk directly about what they dealt with.
    My friend in combat often use pop cultural references to convey what they saw and and experienced to people who have no clue. It’s one thing to say, “I climbed into a pit of bodies to hide so I could survive”- its too personal, it’s to visceral for the person saying it; it brings back the smell, the horror, every thing the want to forget- using an analogy is often their way of distancing themselves from the reality of the situation. Ie “it was like that seen in Black Hawk Down when he hid in the bodies in the mass grave.” It’s something both parties can see w/o having to be the main character.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    You’re in the middle of a goddamn genocide, and you’re mad at yourself for not being a character from a movie. But these things shape what we expect.

    On the theme: I read a paper in a medical journal a few years back in which the authors looked at the outcome of comas on tv shows, the general public’s perception of the likely outcome of comas, and reality.

    They found that in the vast majority of cases on tv, the patient recovered from comas of a week or more with no more than temporary symptoms like short term memory loss or a limp. In real life (excluding induced comas), most end badly–in death or permanent severe disability. They found that the public’s perception matched tv, not reality, to the point that medical staff had great difficulty counselling family of coma patients who expect complete recovery.

  • Münchner Kindl

     TV tropes has an entry on the depiction of CPR, esp. the paddles, and the perception it creates in real life  – on TV, you use the paddles and people are alive again (alternativly, punching the other persons chest and yelling “Don’t you dare die on me!” works guaranteed.)

    In real life, of course, you first need a heartbeat that’s out of whack to use the paddles at all – either from chest compression or from adrenaline injection.  Shocking a flat heart is useless and won’t bring anyone back.

    Yet some paramedics have started to use the paddles on flat-lines (= dead patients) because the relatives expect them and it would take too long/ be too complicated to explain in that stressful situation.
    Really deplorable and basic first aid courses would help people understand better. Alternativly, TV shows should show more accurate medicine.

  • Newy stats

    or, “Now he’s poorly from too much electric!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7yfLwMds5c

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

    Honestly, I bet that if movies and books didn’t exist at all, there would still be a lot of parents who blame themselves when bad things happen to their children that they are powerless to prevent.

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

    So Buck might simply not know what to do to help and be afraid of making it worse.

    I thought he had a personal connection to an omniscient being.

  • Münchner Kindl

     I don’t consider his ego omniscient ;-)

    No, I meant force of habit – God’s guidance comes after “earnest prayer” as the strong urge to accept a comfy jobs with perks. It’s never been represented as a voice that says “This guy in the black t-shirt is about to choke on his own tongue, so overstretch his head and put him into the stabile side position. This woman in the red dress is about to bleed out in 3 minutes from the gash in her leg, so put a pressure bandage on it. You don’t know how to do a pressure bandage?? Okay, it goes like this…”

    The only source of knowledge in this series is their Scofield/ Hayes mangled version of Revelation, which doesn’t say anything beyond “there will be war”.

  • Lori

     

    Well to be fair, US law does breed a culture of not helping:  

    No, it does not. In emergencies most USians will help. There are some circumstances that encourage helping and others that discourage helping, but the laws you mentioned have very little to do with it. The US really isn’t some sort of Hobbesian nightmare.

  • Münchner Kindl

     I didn’t say it is a nightmare. There is no call to put words in my mouth.

    So do you deny that in the majority of the US states, Good samaritian laws that
    1. protect helpers from being sued
    2. actually require people to help
    do not exist?

    Do you deny that there have been quite a lot of cases where people who actually helped medically were later sued for doing it wrong? (So much that even doctors state that they will not help in an accident for fear of being sued unless they are certified for emergency medicine or are required by their state’s law to help).

    Do you deny that the majority of people don’t know basic aid because they are not required to take courses, and are afraid of doing it wrong?

    I did not make a statement about general willingness to help with general stuff. I spoke specifically about medical help. If people don’t know how to put a pressure bandage on, overstretch the neck, do CPR or anything else basic, then what should they do? If people will get heckled or in trouble simply for calling an ambulance because the injured person can’t afford it, or be sued for breaking a rib whole doing chest compression?

  • Paul Durant

    Well to be fair, US law does breed a culture of not helping:

    If it does, it’s a good thing. You might feel heroic and righteous for stepping in to help as a bystander, but the number one piece of advice from first responders on how to deal with accidents and such is: For the love of God, stay out of the way of the people who actually know what they’re doing. If you go in to rescue someone from a dangerous situation, in all likelihood you’re just adding one more person for the actual trained professionals to have to rescue. If you try and apply first aid to a seriously wounded victim, it’s really, REALLY likely you’re just going to make it worse. (Especially if you think you have to drag the victim of a wreck out of the car before it explodes. Cars do not do that unless they are packed with explosives, and if the driver DID pack her car with explosives, she ain’t your problem.) If the EMTs are triaging the wounded and you walk up to ask how you can help, the best impact you can hope for is that one of them WON’T back into you while carrying a gurney and trip over you.

    Buck doesn’t even THINK about pitching in or about the suffering of those other people because he is an obscenely self-centered and narcissistic dick, but his selfishness did coincidentally lead him to the right course of action by not shoving his oafish hands into places they don’t belong.

  • GDwarf

     First aid in a nutshell:

    Don’t move people.
    If they aren’t breathing, CPR
    If it’s bleeding, add pressure.
    If they’re in shock, get them warm and hydrated.

    Otherwise, get them as comfortable as you can without moving them and then leave ’em be. 99 times out of 100 there’s nothing you can do beyond that.

  • Steph

    Actually, if a person is unconscious and looks like they have shallow breathing, it may not be “effective breathing.”  When mom died (congested heart failure), she looked like she was breathing to me, so I did not do anything. (I didn’t know CPR at the time anyway, and, yes, 911 was called.)  I really wish I had known that about “effective breathing.”

  • GDwarf

     

    Actually, if a person is unconscious and looks like they have shallow
    breathing, it may not be “effective breathing.”  When mom died
    (congested heart failure), she looked like she was breathing to me, so I
    did not do anything. (I didn’t know CPR at the time anyway, and, yes,
    911 was called.)  I really wish I had known that about “effective
    breathing.”

    Huh. I’d never heard of that, and I’ve taken a half-dozen first-aid courses. Now, part of those courses is making sure the casualty has an open airway and is in the recovery position, which might address that?

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    You might feel heroic and righteous for stepping in to help as a
    bystander, but the number one piece of advice from first responders on
    how to deal with accidents and such is: For the love of God, stay out of the way of the people who actually know what they’re doing

    Um, our paramedics who teach the first aid basic courses tell us exactly the opposite: Don’t worry about doing anything wrong, because any help is better than nothing, esp. considering that it takes only a few minutes to choke on your tongue when unconscious / bleed out from a deep cut etc.But maybe we are talking about different positions in the rescue chain. Our chain goes like this: 1. secure the accident site (to make sure of your own personal safety)2. call for help (paramedics)3. give first aid(4-6 are the professionals: paramedics and hospitals).So I’m not talking about rushing into a burning building when the firemen are already there, or pushing away paramedics. I’m talking about doing chest compression before the paramedics arrive, or simply overstretching the neck for breathing, putting people into stable positions and putting bandages on wounds.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Kimm12 Kimm Rockwood Reilly

    Funny, my paramedic husband says the opposite; generally the best help an untrained bystander can provide is getting professionals on the scene. Other than basics of applying pressure to the wound etc, many ppl do actually do more harm than good; you’d be surprised how many ppl think a tourniquet is a great idea for minor wounds. ‘Cause they saw it on TV!
    Granted if you have skills use them, the problem is ppl who love Grays Anatomy and think that makes them an expert and don’t want to get out of the way when the pros do arrive on scene.

  • 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.”

  • Münchner Kindl

    Bravo! That’s a hero.

  • 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

    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.

  • Paul Durant

    “Nicolae is so confident and/or powerful he doesn’t need to think about personal security” would be something that illustrates his character, so it’s totally out of bounds for the book named for him.

    A lot has been said about the horrible failings of Buck and Ray as characters, but honestly, you could say just as much about the authors’ total and abject failure to provide anything interesting about their villain. He doesn’t have a motivation, he doesn’t have a personality for crying out loud! Nothing he does makes sense and nothing he does provides any reason to give a shit about him. 

    A common failing of zealots across any political spectrum is that they just aren’t able to imagine how or why anyone could think differently than they do, so they imagine ridiculous supposed motivations for why people would oppose them (usually “because they are evil and wicked and hate this self-evidently good thing I align myself with”) that just prove themselves even more right. You see this everywhere — when zealots try to figure out what an opponent might say, they come up with bizarre nonsense that sounds totally unlike anything a human being has ever argued for. LHJ can’t come up with a “cunning” or “charming” Devil figure who sways people from the path of Real True Christianity with his silver tongue, because they are incapable of envisioning why anyone would be swayed from Real True Christianity.

    But hey, they’re writing the Antichrist. They have ample excuse to make him ludicrously evil and over the top, saying things no person would ever say, because he’s the definition of evil. And they can’t even do that! They can’t make him intimidating, overpowering, or flat-out batshit. If you put an unhinged character like Greg Stillson from The Dead Zone in his place (and if ever there was a “flash fiction writers, get on this” it’s now), you could explain all his illogical plans as “he’s just that fucking wappo but he has power because when people are told what they want to hear they don’t care if the person saying it is clearly foaming at the mouth insane”. But that would take effort. That would be a memorable character with presence. Nicolae is a cardboard standee. 

    LHJ don’t understand the book of Revelation, for reasons already covered. I don’t think that’s a limited patch of blindness. They don’t understand what a story is at all. They think every story is the same thing as what they see in Revelation: just a checklist of events to go through. They put all this mental effort into constructing this “Biblical prophecy scheme” and never thought for  single second about WHY any character involved did any of the things they were supposed to do. They don’t just lack the ability to imagine the mental state of others not like them, they’ve forgotten those people even have mental states. Nicolae does the things he does because the story requires him to do them, and he doesn’t have a personality because LHJ don’t see “personality” on any checklist. 

  • 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. 

  • Deborah Moore

    It bears repeating.  LaHaye served on a conventional bomber during WWII and presumably based the bombing sequences on his own experiences.  He obviously has no conception just how different a nuclear bomb is.

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

    He also doesn’t seem to realize that any large-scale bombing campaign will disrupt life in a major city. Did he not understand why air forces bombed enemy countries? Or maybe he just didn’t share his experiences with Jenkins and just told him to read Wikipedia summaries of Tom Clancy novels for inspiration instead.

  • Paul Durant

    He also doesn’t seem to realize that any large-scale bombing campaign will disrupt life in a major city.

    His Biblical Prophecy Checklist says that the major cities will be nuked (from his pure literal interpretation, of course!). Does the Checklist say that life will be disrupted? No, therefore, it won’t happen.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    It bears repeating.  LaHaye served on a conventional bomber during WWII
    and presumably based the bombing sequences on his own experiences.  He
    obviously has no conception just how different a nuclear bomb is.

    I am fairly sure that even back in WWII, when a town got bombed, they closed the car dealerships.

  • GeniusLemur

     I’m also sure that it was well-known in WWII that people being bombed take cover instead of climbing onto car roofs to watch.

  • Münchner Kindl

    LaHaye served on a conventional bomber during WWII and presumably based
    the bombing sequences on his own experiences.  He obviously has no
    conception just how different a nuclear bomb is.

    1. This could explain why everybody is observing – bombers are far removed from the consequences of war and their personal actions. They just press a button. There was a MASH ep. where Hawkeye treats a child injured by bombs and a visiting bomber pilot is upset and tries to find out if it was “our or their bomb”; Hawkeye blows up at him and tells him it doesn’t matter to the hurt child.

    2. We could postulate that the existing real resistance – contacted by Fitz after Buck was a dead end? – removed the nuclear warheads from the bombs so “only” the normal effect would be felt.

    Alternativly, Nicky removed them, because he didn’t want to make the cities uninhabitable for long.

    After all, he knows what’s going to happen, and has no real motivations of his own, so his actions can flip-flop as much as necessary.

  • 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.

  • Kiba

    I had a gerbil that used to try to run the cats over when she was in the ball. 

    I had a gerbil that did that too. There was one cat, my black and white, that he avoided though. The first time he tried to run her over with his little plastic bubble of protection she just looked at him, then gave the ball one hard smack and sent him spinning across the room. After that when he was put in his ball and he saw her come into the room he beat feet in the other direction. 

  • Fusina

     My gerbil held grudges. The cat she was trying to run over had done that at least once. Well, it was that or she liked roller coasters. And she didn’t seem to get dizzy either. One time when he smacked the ball, she went for him as soon as she got control back.

  • Jessica_R

    I think it’s very telling that Buck doesn’t see someone standing around doing nothing and therefore assumes there’s nobody there important enough to be worthy to talk to him. Putz. 

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

    I still boggle at the part where Buck actually calls the car dealership back up and talks about “buyer’s remorse” when Chicago just got blasted to hell and gone. :O

  • Kiba

    This has absolutely nothing to do with the topic but it looks like the BBC is going to make a six part adaptation of Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2012/bbc-one-commissions-nov.html

    So maybe Fred has something to look forward to as he tirelessly slogs through this dreck. 

  • Anon Mouse

    *sigh*  Nuked-but-not-irradiated?  You really need to get your nuclear weapons information from some place other than bad movies.  It’s trivially possible to nuke a city while holding radiation to a minimum –  that’s precisely what the “airburst” setting on a bomb’s fuse is *for*.

    As I’ve said before, don’t take L&J to task for getting stuff wrong if you can’t be bothered to get off your ass and get it right yourself.

  • Lori

    Have you read the previous installments and the comments on them? Did you see the description, such as it was, of the attacks on Chicago? Do you think it’s consistent with nuclear bombs with their fuses on “airburst”? Did you read the description, such as it was, of how people are responding to the attack? Does it seem to you to be consistent with even minimal radiation?

    L&J pretty clearly did no research. They called the attack nuclear because nukes are the worestest thing ever and obviously that’s what the anti-Christ would do, but they treated it like a conventional bombing attack straight out of a WW II movie. That fact that Fred shorthands that by saying “nuked-but-not-irradiated” doesn’t make Fred lazy.

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

    The lulziest part is where Chicago becomes all, like, special because it’s fake nuked, because nobody can tell if the radiation readings are real. *rolls eyes*

    Cue the STRONG BUILDING and 50 SUVs gassed up and ready to go.

  • Flying Squid with Goggles

     The impression you’re creating with this is wrong, although there’s a grain of truth in the detail. Nuclear detonations at altitude still generate radiation. It is true that airburst detonations minimize radioactive fallout, but they do not generate no radiation as L&J have depicted.

    Hiroshima was bombed with a weapon set to detonate about 2,000 ft above ground level. Radiation casualties from the bomb at Hiroshima are on the order of 70,000 to 90,000 deaths, whereas the immediate blast effects of the bomb killed about 70-80,000 people.

    In general, the higher the airburst (the farther away the bomb goes off) and the less radiation people on the ground will be exposed to, and especially airburst detonations minimize fallout by not throwing up chunks of dirt and debris that are irradiated into the atmosphere. But the bad news is that airbursts at low enough altitude to destroy a city, still generate a lot of casualties from radiation, in the case of Hiroshima, over 50%.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 259 pages

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

    I like the photo of Carpathia though. “I don’t need to try to control you! Look into my eyes and I’ll own you!”

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    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.

    Why does it only occur to him to ask questions of the people “in charge”?  I know, I know, authoritarian jerk, but c’mon, Buckster.  You can’t get a good quote from someone who’s working disaster relief?  Jesus.

    Also, the tone of this makes it sound like a bad thing that no one seemed to be in charge.  But isn’t this a good thing?  Everyone is working.  Yet Buck seems to want some man (of course a man is in charge) holding a clipboard and a bullhorn and yelling at people to do what they’re already doing.

  • Lori

    Having people working with no one in charge can be a bad thing. For example,  if people aren’t prioritizing their efforts in a sensible way or they’re working at cross-purposes and unintentionally undermining each other’s efforts.

    Obviously there’s no indication in the passage that that’s the case. People are working, L&J don’t say anything to indicate that they’re not doing fine, but the absence of a boss is kryptonite to Buck’s GRAT powers. Apparently any situation in which there is no clear man in charge is just bad. Results don’t matter, only authority matters.

  • Jenny Islander

    If Buck bellowed, “Who’s in charge here?” and the dirties, sweatiest person there stood up from whatever he/she was stooping over and said, “I am,” Buck wouldn’t believe it.  You can’t be in authority without a crisp off-the-rack suit and a tie!  The little people grub around in the wreckage.

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

    You can’t get a good quote from someone who’s working disaster relief?

    This is Buck. The quotes he’d get are all “If you’re not going to help, get out of the way.”

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    Yet Buck seems to want some man (of course a man is in charge) holding a clipboard and a bullhorn and yelling at people to do what they’re already doing.

    To be fair, in the hands of better writers, this would be a hint of research: whether it’s a big fire, or the aftermath of Sandy, you’ll see real reporters talking to either the chief of firebrigade / a coordinator for disaster relief, or their official press coordination.

    That’s because an emergency needs not only people on the ground doing the work right now, but one guy at least who coordinates: who knows how many bandages and blood plasma are necessary for the wounded; which hospital is standing but full and which ones are still open; that 20 blocks to the south are school gyms that can be used as shelters; where gas mains have been turned off to prevent explosions, so cooking isn’t possible; where a water pipe has burst, so no drinking water and then reroute everybody into another area etc. etc.

    But yeah, with Buck, it’s simply authorianism.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZNNUWEXUPQUQAYGBFDHTEIJBUI Joshua

     I think Buck would probably ignore any “she” that stood up, even if she was sitting in a plush office adorned in all the trappings of wealth.

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

    Given the way he treats Verna, it’s even money he’d kick a door in her face.

  • Bruce

    ‘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.’
    It seems to be hard for LaHaye/Jenkins to imagine that.  Then again, it seems to me that they see mechanics, flight line personnel, and other miscellaneous airport staff as The Help, and not *real human beings*..

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

    Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle have written books with some superficial similarities to L&J –  global catastrophes that somehow manage to stay US-centric, the only people who can save the world are fiercely independent ordinary citizens, the authors’ agendas are as subtle as a brick to the head – but what lifts their writing above the likes of “Left Behind” is that they make their minor characters real. (That, and the ordinary citizens actually do something to save the world.)

    They even have a reporter in one book; one chapter consists entirely of short excerpts of the reporter’s interviews with ordinary people and how they’re reacting to the crisis.

    N&P would have no trouble writing about the airplane mechanic’s crisis of conscience.

  • Bruce

    As for Buck’s concern with endangering his job and all the perquisites that come with it, my thought all along, every time it’s been mentioned, is that he seems to see his resources and connections as status-validation and not as tools to use to accomplish his larger mission.  Which doesn’t sound at all like Hero-thinking to me .. it sounds more like Entitled-Person-Acting-Out-Hero-Fantasy thinking.  The former is actually useful and meets challenges .. the latter is worse than useless.  And as much of a recurring theme as it is in this story, it seems to be a window into how LaHaye and Jenkins think more than a plot device.  Real heroes in situations like this use everything they have at their disposal to accomplish what needs to be done, and if they burn bridges or break connections or make use-once resources unavailable, they simply think strategically about how best to burn up those use-once resources to get the most benefit out of them.  Publish the 5600-page special edition and put the message that needs to go out in front of thousands or millions of readers, and let the cat so far out of the bag that there’s no getting it back in?  Dive Global Community One into a field in Pennsylvania and take Nicolae out for good?  Absolutely, no regrets.  These people think like rich entitled cowards.

  • Lori

      he seems to see his resources and connections as status-validation and not as tools to use to accomplish his larger mission.   

    In this sense Buck would fit right in with the Washington press corps. If L&J had made him a political reporter for the Post or something he would have kinda, sorta been believable as a character. As a globe-hopping investigative reporter he’s totally ridiculous.

  • Münchner Kindl

    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.

    I thought what the authors were clumsily trying to say is that Buck is so stunned by the devastation and disaster around him (injured people, crashed cars), that he can’t think coherently enough to write down.

    The problem is the preceding part Fred quoted about there being no one in charge to ask, because everybody is busy; and that somebody in the business for 5 years (or how long it was) should be in the habit of composing articles in his head automatically. After all, in the 1st or 2nd book we were told about how globe-trotting and used to major events Buck is, so he should be able to cope even with a major disaster.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    “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.”

    I came across this heartwarming little nugget while crusing the nutcase lair yesterday. 
     
    “Men fight and die for their families, not something called society.”  http://www.grasstopsusa.com/df112912.html

    Does go a long way to explaining how those who imagine everyone but themselves to be helpless cowards can at the same time be so obsessively fearful of everyone but themselves.  One needs to be threatened before he can fight like a man is supposed to after all. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/vlowe7294 Vaughn Lowe

    Chloe – The Rise of Antichrist.

    She walked along the ruins of a once great city, neither looking to the right or left.  Behind her, followed a crowd of dozens, perhaps hundreds of awestruck people.  They had watched her gunned down by her own husband, get up unharmed and take the gun away from him.  Buck now walked in the center of them, surrounded by muttering angry people.  Only the word of Chloe kept them from tearing him to shreds.

    “Kill him now and all you have is his dead body,” she said.  “Alive, we can make an example of him.  Trust me, there will payment for him and those who ally with him.”

    Buck knew that he was a dead man walking, so it was pointless to keep up any pretense.  “What are you going to do, now Chloe?”

    “Do you want a divorce?” she asked.  The question was so out of the blue, that he at first didn’t understand the words.  “What?”

    “If you want a divorce, ask and I’ll give it to you.  If you don’t ask, then we stay married.  But know this.  Leave me, and you will not see your child.  Ever.  When she is old enough to ask, her father died in the bombing of Chicago, which is not far from the truth.”

    “You can’t do that!  I have…”

    “Rights?  The only rights you have is what I say you have.  Right now, all I have to do is say the word, and there will be nothing left of you but a few scraps of cloth.”  She raised her voice.  “All you, listen!  Here is what is responsible for the destruction you see!  The people who want to force religion down our throats!  I say that we have had enough of his kind!  Enough of the bloodshed caused by whose holy scripture is correct and which translation is correct and what is the correct length of the candles in the damn sanctuary!”

    “Enough I say.  There will be no more.  You can have your religion but you keep it out of sight.  No more squabbling.  It is clear to me now that peace will only be achieved by making the idiots shut up.”

    A man fell to his knees in front of her.  “Mistress!  My life is yours, if you will but bring peace to our country!”  Another kneeled beside him, then another and another.  Soon there were hundreds, chanting softly.  “My life for you.  My life for you.”

    She could feel their adoration.  It washed over her like a cool breeze that she could almost taste.  She closed her eyes and basked in it.

    “I will bring peace.  Follow me, and I will bring peace.  Peace, along with the heads of those who caused this.”  She looked into the eyes of her husbands.

    “Bring him.”  Hands closed around Buck and lifted him painfully into the air.  The crowds swelled as she made the trip out of the city, picking up the scattered and panicked.  By the time they got to the airport, she had acquired over two thousand followers.

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

    Holy creepy “The Stand” references! (O_O)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    First, to get the urge out of the way…

    “Just repeat to yourself,
    ‘Just let it go,’
    You should really just relax,
    For Nicolae: the Rise of the Antichriiiiist!”

    Yeah, I know it doesn’t really scan, but I’m crap at this kind of thing and it just popped into my head. I tried a couple different ways to render the last line but the normal name of the book (I think?) has the right number of syllables, at least, even if it doesn’t sound quite proper.

    Second, Rayford might almost have been sympathetic if he was stalling for as many planes present to get off the ground as possible, not just the one his wife was on. Who knows how many flights were waiting to go out, lives that could be saved by just a little time-wasting? Ah, but how many were going to possibly come in during this time, either making scheduled or emergency landings, and added to the other side of the balance sheet?

    There could be a lot of personal tension and conflict in the soul-searching (something Rayford similarly lacks the requirement to do) as he attempts to balance the incoming/outgoing numbers with the very personal concern over whether his wife is one of those outgoing. And then the personal concern is taken out of his hands before he can come to a decision as her plane takes off while he’s still dithering, leaving him sick with guilt over how much he weighed her flight over that much larger plane-load of people just now coming in for a landing…

  • Lori

     

    There could be a lot of personal tension and conflict in the
    soul-searching (something Rayford similarly lacks the requirement to do)
    as he attempts to balance the incoming/outgoing numbers with the very
    personal concern over whether his wife is one of those outgoing.   

    I’m generally sympathetic to prioritizing one’s spouse in an emergency, but in this story it just grates. Amanda is the one and only person in this scenario who Ray knows for a fact is saved. Her death would be a personal loss for Ray (it would reduce the number of people available to lay hands on him & pray when he’s feeling blue), but in the big scheme of things that’s trivial and anyone with an ounce of decency would grasp that and act accordingly. Ray knows for a fact that the separation would be only a few years long. He also knows for a fact that dying now would not only put Amanda on the express train to heaven, it would spare her  from living through the even more horrific tribulation events that are still to come. Why would he want her to go through what he knows is coming? I know misery loves company, but damn. 

    In short, the Mrs should be the one person in SF that Ray isn’t worried about so the fact that he plays games for the sole purpose of saving her just makes me hate him more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    Even if he knows intellectually she’s saved, her immediate death would still probably be enough of an emotional gut-punch that it would influence his judgement. I mean, that he weighs someone he knows (and has, supposedly, fallen in love with) more than strangers is understandable, and it could be written in a light that makes it a genuine moral crisis for him. Most people can’t separate personal from important without difficulty.

    Yes, she’s saved, but people still go to doctors when they’re certain they’re saved, too. People confident in Heaven still try to hold off terminal illnesses for just one more breath. And you can know things without really feeling them, letting your feelings get the better of you. Acknowledging that bit would have almost created an interesting personal dilemma in someone better-written (or just plain better) than Ray, so I’d chalk it up as Yet Another Missed Opportunity here for L&J to actually do anything interesting at all.

  • Lori

    The thing is, people aren’t certain that they’re saved. They may believe it. They may believe it quite strongly. They aren’t certain. Ray knows it for a fact. I’d give it to him if he thought first of Amanda and had to struggle that. That fact that he never even considers the implications of her guaranteed saved status makes it really inexcusable.

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

    I think Kindl may be discussing the fact that “Good Samaritan” laws had to be explicitly passed denying the right to sue in the event of inadvertent injury in order to quell people who would wring their hands saying they wanted to help someone but couldn’t because they didn’t want to get sued.

    Also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bystander_effect

  • Paul Durant

    Do “Good Samaritan” laws really mean we have a “culture of not helping”? They’re more in response to people actually getting sued after incompetently rendering aid than not doing so for fear of getting sued; in a crisis situation most people act first and think later, and I’m pretty sure that action-without-thought is why so many laypeople get involved. They aren’t there to change people’s course of action to get them to help, they’re there to get people out of the consequences of the thing they do anyway. (I also don’t think a set of laws explicitly absolving people from responsibility for the things they fuck up by shoving their big incompetent mitts where they have no business being is really a good idea.)

    And the bystander effect is definitely a thing, but there’s nothing American about it, so it can’t mean America has a “culture of not helping”.

  • Münchner Kindl

     I wasn’t talking about the bystander effect, which is a different problem (and is combatted differently) – though our Good Samaritian laws explicitly not only protect the helper, but also require everybody in sight to help to their best of his abilities in order to combat the bystander effect. The police doesn’t always enforce this, but in theory everybody standing around gawking could be fined for not helping, and esp. if they are so busy watching that they are blocking the way for the emergency vehicles.

    And I don’t know what you mean when you’re talking about “fucking it”, considering that people have sued very successfully for what we would consider minor inconvencies compared to saving a life. (E.g. a broken rib from chest compression – if you do it with enough force, you’re likely as layperson to break at least one rib, but this will heal over a few weeks, so better to be alive with a broken rib than dead with unbroken ones, as our paramedics teach us).

    And yes, while the bystander effect itself is universal, American culture has a specially harsh view towards other people not “being my concern” based on the political philosophy of self-help and self-reliance and people being at fault themselves for their misfortune, which is actually more pronounced in American culture than in European culture (where the view that people help each other is stronger).

  • aunursa

    American culture has a specially harsh view towards other people not “being my concern” based on the political philosophy of self-help and self-reliance and people being at fault themselves for their misfortune

    Even those who preach self-help and self-reliance aren’t referring to imminent life-threatening situations.  No one suggests or understands that it’s up to the one in peril to perform CPR on himself.  (That would be left to a Monty Python-type parody.)  Or that it’s his own fault if he can’t escape a burning car. Regardless of who caused the accident.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Just quietly mate, coming from someone who is sick to the back teeth of American exceptionalism, cultural hegemony and lack of knowledge about the rest of the world–you really do have a tendency to lay on the America-bashing a bit thick.

  • Lori

     

    And yes, while the bystander effect itself is universal, American
    culture has a specially harsh view towards other people not “being my
    concern” based on the political philosophy of self-help and
    self-reliance and people being at fault themselves for their misfortune,
    which is actually more pronounced in American culture than in European
    culture (where the view that people help each other is stronger).   

    It’s things like this that make me wish I could remember not to read your posts.

    The US you are commenting on is not the US I live in and yet you make these statements as if they’re obvious facts. When USians do this about other country’s they are quite rightly called arrogant and “ugly Americans”. What do you think we should call it when you do it about the US?

  • Lorehead

    You’re mistaken, Münchner Kindl; America has a number of Good Samaritan laws that protect people from these lawsuits.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Kimm12 Kimm Rockwood Reilly

    Even if a professional is doing the chest compressions there’s likely to be a broken rib… Kinda the nature of pounding on a rib cage to make a heart pump

  • Lori

    Yes. My point was that when you look at actual responses to emergencies the presence of absence of those laws doesn’t really change people’s behavior. People who are going to help, help. People who are not going to help, don’t.

    There are other things, like whether there are other people present, that do have a substantial influence on behavior, but I’ve never seen any reliable data that shows that people are actually standing around just wishing they could help, but held back by the terror of being sued. They may say that after the fact to make themselves feel better about not helping, but it’s not actually what’s driving their behavior in the moment.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    There are other things, like whether there are other people present, that do have a substantial influence on behavior, but I’ve never seen any reliable data that shows that people are actually standing around just wishing they could help, but held back by the terror of being sued. They may say that after the fact to make themselves feel better about not helping, but it’s not actually what’s driving their behavior in the moment.

    You’ve got your facts all wrong, Lori. As I learned from our friendly local libertarians, the fear of lawsuits is what makes life awesome in societies with no government regulation whatsoever. If the possibility of lawsuits means that unregulated companies will always provide the best possible service, surely the same applies to unregulated human beings.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    but I’ve never seen any reliable data that shows that people are
    actually standing around just wishing they could help, but held back by
    the terror of being sued. They may say that after the fact to make
    themselves feel better about not helping, but it’s not actually what’s
    driving their behavior in the moment.

    I have heard it not as excuse after the fact but far more often when discussing a hypothetical after a news report about an accident. If people are already decided before not to help because they are afraid of doing it wrong, I think this is an even worse obstacle than the bystander effect.

    Even here, where first aid courses are mandatory for people who take a drivers license, most people in middle age when asked will say that they have forgotten everything and are terrible unsure and wouldn’t know what to do in an emergency (though at least calling aid is better than passing by).

  • http://twitter.com/queerviolet Violet

    That’s not the only interpretation:

    ~

    The ground leader blamed flight control; flight control blamed the army liaison; the army blamed Nicolae’s head of security; and the head of security blamed Nicolae himself. You gotta ask him. I’m sure there’s a reason—just ask him. He’s very approachable.

    Raymond rang the door to Nicolae’s lavish chambers.

    “Come in! Come in, Raymond.”

    Raymond braced himself. He prayed for protection. And he walked through the door. His dress shoes clicked on marble. On an airplane? He grumbled inwardly. The walls, too, must have cost a fortune—they were entirely clear. They presently took in, it must be said, less than remarkable views of San Francisco International. But when we’re flying, Raymond thought, He must think he’s above it all. Like he’s flying on his own wings.

    Nicolae was leaning back in a high leather chair, smiling broadly.

    “Raymond, have you heard news of your daughter from Chicago?”
    “I… haven’t, sir.”
    “Such a shame. Such a nice city. Seeing them mourn, feeling their pain—it hurts my heart, truly.”

    Nicolae sipped a glass of champagne.

    “But you did not come to me for small talk,” he said. “What is it you need?”

    Raymond swallowed.

    “I apologize for the delay, sir. But it will take some time before we are able to take off. You see, the new crew we are taking on need to be cleared by security.”

    Raymond flipped to the next page of the crew manifest. And the next, and the next, and the next, until he felt his point was made sufficiently.

    “Sir, I don’t want to question your judgment, but is a crew of this size really necessary?”
    “Yes! Of course. Running the world is a big job, Raymond. It requires the work of many hands under my own.” Nicolae smiled. “You may return to your post.”

    Perhaps it was the curt dismissal. Perhaps it was the way Nicolae’s face had darkened, just for a moment, when Raymond asked. But he could not let go.

    “But sir! I looked up some of these people.” He flipped through the manifest. “Patrick… Rutherford? He’s a flight attendant, right out of school. This will literally be his third flight. What could you need with him? Or this one, Tracy Higgins. She’s a baggage handler. Sir, there are ground crews for that.”

    “Tracy Higgins has a wife and two teenaged children.” Nicolae’s voice grew low as Raymond’s face twisted with unease. A wife. Right. “They live in Cleveland. Tracy is visiting her parents here, and will return to them after serving with us. When San Francisco is destroyed, she will be in the air.”
    “I don’t see—”
    “Raymond, come in here. Closer.”

    Nearly against his will, Raymond stepped forward. The doors closed gently behind him, and the walls faded to an opaque burgundy.

    “Would you like to hear a story, Raymond?” Nicolae did not wait for an answer. “It is filled with intrigue and drama—and, I must warn you, despair and tragedy.

    “It is the story of a young boy, born in a small village. This boy was beautiful as only innocence can be. He was otherwise unremarkable, save for the size of his heart.

    “I do not mean this literally. The muscle in his chest beat as all others do. But he loved. He loved spectacularly and thoroughly. He helped those who were kind to him and those who were vicious. He forgave without question. So sensitive was he to suffering, he refused to play the games of other boys. He would not cut up earthworms to watch them twist and die. He would not pull the wings off butterflies. He could not bear it.

    “Do you know what happens to such a boy on the schoolground of a small village? I warned you this would not be such a happy tale.

    “And yet, the boy made it through to adulthood, somehow retaining his love and gaining very few scars where anyone could see. He forgave his bullies. He saw their anger for what it was: pain. And he vowed to help them. He vowed to help everyone.

    “He went into politics. You laugh, but it is not such a bad reason. Politicians have built schools. They have helped communities. He was not interested in power. He wanted to help. There are worse reasons to enter politics, I promise you.

    “He was very successful. He built schools and libraries, hospitals and parks. He taught the police of his village to stand as mediators, not bullies. And so his village grew peaceful, and then his province, and then his country. He was well-loved. It was not enough. He could see only the failures. All the sensitive little boys still beaten on playgrounds. All the mothers beaten by the fathers of their children. And his heart tore open for each and every one.

    “There was a policeman. A policeman from his town, his tiny town in the mountains. This policeman had been taking children in his car. He had cut them up and put them in his yard. Before this man, the boy had pardoned every criminal set to death before him. He had spoken of abolishing the death penalty entirely—barbarous, unjust, not a thing born of love but of revenge. But this man, he did not pardon. He could not. He sent him to the gallows.

    “And perhaps that is why. Or perhaps that was just—what is the expression in English? Yes, the straw on the camel. But the boy received an offer. It is not important from who. But they were wealthy. They had enormous power. Power on a scale the boy could barely comprehend. Have you ever been to Dubai, Raymond? They flew him there. The opulence of the place twisted in his brain. He had seen starving children, not days ago, and here was a city built of gold and marble. They took him to the top of the highest tower. And they whispered in his ear that he could fix it. All of it. They could give him the power to heal the world.

    “You know what they say about power. And so did the boy. He was not naïve. He had seen what power did to people. But perhaps, in that moment, the boy could not unsee the pictures of the children. Perhaps he could not unsee the video of the policeman’s body twisting on a rope. He had made himself watch. And at the top of that tower, the horizon seemed to stretch upward, and the boy thought he could see not only the city, but the whole world stretched out before him.

    “Strange, these desert illusions.

    “The boy made a decision. He would sacrifice himself. He would sacrifice himself to heal the world. You know this story, I think? The boy knew it, too. He swore to himself that when the world was fixed, when there was only love, then he could die. So the boy became the man.

    “And the man, Raymond. The man did terrible things. Worse than the boy thought himself capable of. And he enjoyed them, Raymond. That was the worst part. The part that would have turned the boy’s stomach. The man cackled with glee as millions died. Raymond, if the boy knew what was to happen, he would have flung himself through the window of that tower. But the boy was dead.

    “Or was he? Perhaps not all of him. Perhaps there is still a tiny piece of the boy inside the man. A piece which cries and wails—and yet, cannot stop. It cannot believe the things that are happening by its hand. It cannot believe the pleasure it feels from torture and death. And yet it does feel pleasure. It is torture. It is torture worse than any man could devise.

    “And yet, even through the pain, perhaps there are things the boy can do. Tiny things. The smallest victories for love. Things which cannot possibly make a difference. They cannot possibly make a difference, and perhaps that is why the man allows them. They cannot possibly make a difference, and that is why they are so important to the boy.

    “And perhaps the boy has attempted greater seditions. Has hired agents. Has brought into the closest circle people who would wish to harm the man. People who might wish to kill him. Perhaps he has given one of them control of the mouth with which he speaks to the world, and the other control of the wings with which he flies. Either could kill him in a moment.

    “And yet, the man allows it, because even in this, the boy extends his torment. For this is not the story of a great sacrifice, born of love, which saves the world. This is not a story that ends with an inglorious execution. And these people… these people…

    Nicolae leaned in close, closer. His lips were inches from Raymond’s.

    “Raymond, I love you. And I know you will never, ever betray me.”

    Nicolae sat back and looked over the crew manifest.

    “You’re right. We don’t need these people.” He drew a heavy red line over page after page after page.

    “Let us leave immediately.”
    “Sir, some of those crew have already boarded.”
    “Then send them off. Tell them they are not needed. There is no space for them here, on this plane.”

    Nicolae smiled a wide smile. He sipped his drink.

    “Your commitment to efficiency is one of the things I adore about you, Raymond. Now: go fly your fucking plane.”

  • Twig

    some character from a stupid, unrealistic feel-good movie at a time like that.

    Did we see the same movie?  I remember the movie of a father trying desperately to shield his son from horror, and I remember the scene where he discovers a man he thought was his friend has absolutely no interest in helping him escape or even cares about his plight, and the part where he carries his sleeping son and discovers the mound of corpses in the camp piled higher than he is tall and the part where he’s brutally executed at the end, though he does manage to save his son.

    Nobody has to like any movie, but I think stupid is doing it a great disservice.

  • Akili

    As a slight joke my friends and I did a quiz for Buck and Rayford for the D&D alignment. They both got Lawful Evil, which explains so much. For those who don’t know what that means:

    “A lawful evil villain methodically takes what he wants within the limits of his code of conduct without regard for whom it hurts. He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion. He is comfortable in a hierarchy and would like to rule, but is willing to serve. He condemns others not according to their actions but according to race, religion, homeland, or social rank. He is loath to break laws or promises.”

  • Zippy

    Maybe we could encourage Fred with something like Great Quotes of the Week. Or at least amazing quotes.

    Sample:

    Quote of the week:

    “I’d appreciate a good, long snooze when we get [the plane] on course.”

    (Rayford to co-pilot Mac, regarding his plans to spend the rest of the day after escaping the imminent destruction of San Francisco)

    P.S.
    Discus apparently hates paragraphs today. There were supposed to be paragraph breaks.


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