NRA: What does the Antichrist want?

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 99-101

Rayford Steele is eavesdropping on his boss as they fly over the Pacific.

His boss is Nicolae Carpathia — the potentate, global dictator, Antichrist and random destroyer of cities. In the previous scene, Nicolae gave the order for the destruction of San Francisco and the bombs began to fall. Rayford got even with him by accelerating abruptly during takeoff, causing Nicolae to fall in the aisle of the plane.

Causing someone to trip because they just killed a few million people doesn’t really make things even, but Rayford is still enormously pleased with his tiny act of revenge, and the authors are still basking in it here in the following scene.

“I was so excited and so full of ideas,” the potentate said, “that I could not stay seated. I hope I do not have a bruise to show for it.” His lackeys all roared with laughter.

Nothing funnier than the boss’s joke, Rayford thought.

Perhaps soon the cumulative effect of all these bitter, disapproving thoughts directed his way will begin to take a toll on Nicolae. Rayford and Buck have to hope so, because so far, such silent disapproval is the Tribulation Force’s only strategy against the Antichrist.

“We have so much to talk about, so much to do,” Carpathia continued. “When our compatriots join us in Baghdad, we will get right to work.”

This is it — this is his big chance, what Rayford has been waiting for for more than a year.

The whole point of Rayford’s elaborate eavesdropping system — more than that, the whole point of his taking a job as the apparently loyal servant of the Antichrist — was to gather information on the Antichrist’s plans. For many months now, Rayford has served as the personal pilot for a man he believes is evil incarnate, all so that he would have a chance to eavesdrop on exactly this conversation, the one that begins, “We have so much to talk about, so much to do.”

Rayford didn’t learn of Nicolae’s plan to destroy a dozen airports (and their surrounding cities) until it was too late for him to plan a response. But now, it seems, the Antichrist is about to lay out his nefarious agenda for the coming months and Rayford, secretly listening in, will be collecting valuable intelligence for the Tribulation Force.

Or not.

Rayford heard the unmistakable voice of Leon Fortunato. “Potentate,” he whispered, “we’ll need replacements for Hernandez, Halliday, and your fiancée, will we not?”

Hernandez was the co-pilot who flew with Rayford from Dallas to San Francisco. He was just killed in the destruction of the airport there. Halliday, Rayford’s old pilot friend, had been hired to help design Nicolae’s new plane, after which — for reasons never explained — he was to be killed as well. Nicolae’s fiancée, of course, is poor Hattie Durham, who also works as his personal secretary.

Rayford sat up. Was it possible? Had they already eliminated those three, and why Hattie Durham? He felt responsible that his former senior flight attendant was now not only in Carpathia’s employ, but was also his lover and the soon-to-be mother of his child. So, was he not going to marry her? Did he not want a child? He had put on such a good front before Rayford and Amanda when Hattie had announced the news.

Carpathia chuckled. “Please do not put Ms. Durham in the same category as our late friends. Hernandez was expendable. Halliday was a temporary necessity. Let us replace Hernandez and not worry about replacing Halliday. He served a purpose. The only reason I asked you to replace Hattie is that the job has passed her by. …”

So, no, Nicolae isn’t planning to have Hattie killed. The authors have worse things in store for her than that.

Nicolae and his new right-hand man, Fortunato, continue discussing personnel issues for another page or so. “I would like you to handle finding new secretarial personnel,” the global potentate says to the second-most powerful man on the planet.

And this, apparently, was the “so much to talk about, so much to do,” that Nicolae mentioned.

Poor, expendable Hernandez was a lower-level pilot who worked for the Global Community one-world government. The leader of that OWG is here concerning himself personally with the job vacancy created by Hernandez’s demise.

So the global potentate micromanages the entire world, with him apparently needing to be personally consulted about every job opening anywhere on the planet. But it’s even worse than that. Nicolae and Fortunato spend all this time discussing the need to replace this Dallas-based pilot without ever pausing to consider that, oh, by the way, we also just nuked the airport in Dallas, so all of our other pilots there are probably dead, too, and that airport will need to be rebuilt, along with the airports in New York, London, Washington, Toronto, Chicago …

While eavesdropping on this top-secret meeting of the OWG personnel committee, Rayford is also apparently listening to “the news” in the cockpit:

The destruction of the San Francisco airport and much of the Bay Area had already made the news.

“The news” there probably means those omnipresent GCCNN Radio people again. I feel bad for those folks. When the bombs started to fall on San Francisco, they had to get to work, grabbing their microphones and cameras and heading into danger. Meanwhile, at Global Community Weekly’s San Francisco office, everybody just took the rest of the day off.

This is the third or fourth time that Jerry Jenkins has informed readers first about the destruction of an airport and then, as a footnote to that, about the slaughter of millions of people in the surrounding area as well. This weird priority of airports over people seems like a device a better writer might borrow and repurpose as a way of deliberately highlighting the obtuse narcissism of a protagonist. I think that would be effective, since it’s quite effective here at unintentionally highlighting the obtuse narcissism of both Rayford and the authors.

Rayford saw the fear in [co-pilot] McCullum’s eyes. Maybe the man would have felt more confident had he known that his ultimate boss, Nicolae Carpathia, had most everything under control for the next few years.

Last week we looked at a scene that stood out from the rest of this book because, for once, Buck Williams wanted something. He was searching for Chloe and wanted to find her. Briefly, for a handful of pages, we thus had a plot and a character we could understand: Man searches for lost woman.

Here we’re told that the Antichrist has “most everything under control.” He rules over the entire world with absolute power. He has “so much to talk about, so much to do.”

But we still have no idea what the Antichrist wants.

The authors themselves don’t seem to have any idea of this either. And since Nicolae is the antagonist driving the plot of this story, that means we also don’t have any idea of what that plot is. He’s the title character of this book, but we can’t begin to understand his character either. We don’t know what he wants.

The authors told us all along that Nicolae’s professed idealism was a bogus charade. Now, with the mass-murder of his bombing campaign, they have shown us that — shown that all his talk of peace, harmony and global unity was just a deception to enable his rise to power. Now that he has that power, he has no intention of using it to promote peace or harmony or any of that other stuff.

OK, but what does he intend to use his power for? What’s his plan? Why does he do what he does?

The authors don’t tell us because they don’t know. And they don’t care. “Bible prophecy,” they insist, tells us what the Antichrist will do. And if we already know, step-by-step, exactly what he will do, then we don’t need to know why.

And that leaves us with a character who has no character driving a plot that has no plot. We plow our way through the prophecy check list, each inscrutable act following the other, but we can never understand why any of this is happening other than the author’s assurance that it all must happen because it was all foretold.

Rayford knew that Hernandez was doomed as soon as he left the plane in San Francisco. He even briefly thought of maybe half-warning the young pilot to get out of the city before it was destroyed, but then Hernandez was slightly discourteous to him, so he abandoned him to his fate. Now though, overhearing Nicolae Carpathia describe the man as “expendable,” Rayford is horrified:

He was hearing things he never wanted to hear. … Life had become so cheap that in a matter of hours he had lost a new acquaintance, Hernandez, and a dear old mentor and friend, Earl Halliday. …

He turns off the intercom and heads for some rest in his “lavishly appointed” pilot’s “chamber.”

Rayford removed his shoes and stretched out on his back. He thought about Earl. He thought about Amanda. He thought about Chloe and Buck. And he worried. And it all started with the loss of Bruce. Rayford turned on his side and buried his face in his hands and wept. How many close to him might he lose today alone?

That reminds me of one of my favorite passages from Ray Bradbury. In Something Wicked This Way Comes, he wrote:

A stranger is shot in the street, you hardly move to help. But if, half and hour before, you spent just 10 minutes with the fellow and knew a little about him and his family, you might just jump in front of his killer and try to stop it. Really knowing is good. Not knowing, or refusing to know is bad, or amoral, at least. You can’t act if you don’t know.

Bradbury there, in five sentences, pinpoints everything that’s wrong with Rayford Steele. And with his creators.

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  • aunursa

    “I was so excited and so full of ideas,” the potentate said, “that I could not stay seated. I hope I do not have a bruise to show for it.”

    As far as I can recall, none of the Tribulation Force moles is ever punished for incompetence, disrepect, or for taking any action that makes Nicky look bad.  With the exception of Leon Fortunato, loyal members of the Global Community are punished for errors great and slight.  But never the enemy spies.

  • aunursa

    Halliday, Rayford’s old pilot friend, had been hired to help design Nicolae’s new plane, after which — for reasons never explained — he was to be killed as well.

    Halliday was killed in order to show Rayford the readers how diabolically evil Nicky really is.  Because the bombing of millions of innocent civilians isn’t sufficient enough to demonstrate the depths of his depravity.

  • http://snarkthebold.blogspot.com/ Edo

    A few irrelevant, named victims are the traditional way to distinguish the Villain from the Hero. As the two become indistinguishable, the likelihood of it approaches 1.

  • aunursa

    He’s the title character of this book, but we can’t begin to understand his character either.

    I think they chose “Nicolae” because the authors didn’t have any other ideas for the title.  Nicky doesn’t play a more priminent role in this book than elsewhere in the series.  In Book #1 he began to assume control of the world.  In Book #6 he is killed, and resurrect in Book #7.  But nothing particularly noteworthy happens to him in this volume.

  • Tricksterson

    This is one of the two books in the series I’ve read and I remember being dissapointed that the book named for him really didn’t go into his past, his motivations or his plans.

  • aunursa

    We plow our way through the prophecy check list, each inscrutable act following the other, but we can never understand why any of this is happening other than the author’s assurance that it all must happen because it was all foretold.

    Yep.  That’s pretty much the entire series in a nutshell.

  • Magic_Cracker

    It’s rather like going on a guided tour where the bus never stops and the guide doesn’t know anything other than the names of places. (And the only thing to eat are muffin tops.)

  • ohiolibrarian

     You know, a book with one inscrutable act following on another could be interesting … if the characters who had to deal with the acts and each other were recognizably human.

  • aunursa

    He even briefly thought of maybe half-warning the young pilot to get out of the city before it was destroyed, but then Hernandez was slightly discourteous to him, so he abandoned him to his fate.

    I just realized: Rayford spent all of his time in San Francisco making sure that Amanda, who is already saved, would be able to escape the impending destruction.  But it turns out that she dies at the end of this book anyway.  (The readers and Brave Sir Rayford don’t learn of her death until Book #4.)

    But if Rayford had instead warned Hernandez and Halliday, maybe they would have survived longer.  And at any rate they would have had the chance to become RTCs and been saved from eternal damnation.  Which presumably is supposed to be a primary goal of the Tribulation Force in the first place — to save souls.

  • Ben English

    Rayford is obviously more concerned about protecting his property than saving souls.

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

    Nicolae and his new right-hand man, Fortunato, continue discussing
    personnel issues for another page or so. “I would like you to handle
    finding new secretarial personnel,” the global potentate says to the
    second-most powerful man on the planet.

    Secretarial personnel?

    Shouldn’t he be ordering Supreme Commander Leon for security forces? Telling Leon to find anyone who can handle a gun and is willing to work for the GC for a wad of cash to keep Nicolae from being shot at or otherwise attacked by enraged survivors?

    If L&J are trying to show off the “banality of evil”, they’re really not doing a great job.

    And from the point of view of action-thriller books, they suck.

    Granted, that’s long been established, but the evil villain surrounding himself with armed mooks is a staple of the Evil Boss genre and L&J manage to flub that!

  • Magic_Cracker

    Tell you what, if the admins stopped sending the emails and filing forms, it would be a lot harder for the U.S. at least to wage its wars! Paperwork makes the world go ’round!

  • Baby_Raptor

    He doesn’t need security personnel. He has everyone but the RTCs mind-whammied into worshiping him, and the RTCs aren’t going to raise a finger because prophecy. 

    Having security anyway would make for convincing storytelling, but this is Ellenjay. 

  • Foreigner

    I always thought an anti-Christ would be just that: go about preaching hate, greed, intolerance, violence, punishment of transgressors, lauding the virtues of wealth, grinding the faces of the poor, glorifying war … wait a minute …

  • fraser

     Or performing anti-miracles: Convincing everyone to hide their loaves and fishes so that abundance becomes scarcity.

  • flat

    So there lies Rayford in his lavishly appointed pilot chamber feeling sorry for himself.

    Excuse me, I have to vommit.

  • Magic_Cracker

    The thousand injuries of Fortunato Rayford had borne as he best could, but when he ventured upon mass murder Rayford vowed to think unkindly on him. You, who so well know the nature of Ray’s soul, will not suppose, however, that he gave utterance to displeasure. At length he would stew impotently; this was a point definitively settled — but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. Rayford must not only stew but stew with impunity.

  • aunursa

    For the love of God, Magic_Cracker!

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

    The thousand injuries of Fortunato Rayford had borne as he best could, but when he ventured upon mass murder Rayford vowed to think unkindly on him. You, who so well know the nature of Ray’s soul, will not suppose, however, that he gave utterance to displeasure. At length he would stew impotently; this was a point definitively settled — but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. Rayford must not only stew but stew with impunity.

    Thread winner.

  • PatBannon

    Very well adapted. Good show.

  • GeniusLemur

    “Potentate,” he whispered, “we’ll need replacements…”
    He whispered? They’re in Nick’s private plane, one of the most secure places in existence! Can you imagine Herman Goering sitting in the Furher’s bunker whispering about the plans for Operation Barbarossa? Do L&J think we won’t “get” that they’re eeeevilly plotting if they don’t furtively whisper?

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

    Oh yes. Evil bosses always gloat. They always talk loudly of their plans and cackle with glee.

    *sigh* these books. They really do resemble travelogues sometimes.

  • GeniusLemur

    And remember what we learned a while back. In this plane, you can talk out loud, and anyone in the room who’s not one of your cronies can’t hear you.

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

    [Skewed Slightly to the Left (Not a lot to work with this week.)]

    Rayford lay back on the bed.

    “You weren’t supposed to move a muscle,” one of the guards said.  Rayford didn’t know which one.  The four all blended together.

    “That’s impossible,” Rayford said.

    “Sit back up!”

    “Tired of sitting,” Rayford said lazily.

    “I will fire!”  It was a small room.  There wasn’t any background noise.  Rayford would have heard if the guard had whispered, yet for some reason the guard insisted on shouting.

    “Do it.  Tired of living too.”  Did that count as suicide, Rayford wondered.  Suicides go to Hell, don’t they?  No, that was a Catholic belief.  Still, with the blood on his hands Rayford couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.  He should have crashed the plane when he had the chance.

    Amanda was safe, for the moment.  Small comfort when compared to the millions he could have saved, but it was all he had.  Cameron had been alive when he tried to get warning out.  Some comfort there.

    The warning would give at least some people time to get to shelter, assuming anyone knew where a bomb shelter was this long after the cold war.  Maybe a handful of lives had been saved.

    Rayford pulled his legs onto the bed, more shouting from the guard.  Perhaps more than one of the guards.  He didn’t know.  He didn’t care.

    Curling up into fetal position wasn’t really an intentional act.  He hoped darkness would engulf him soon.  More than that he hoped he wouldn’t dream.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon
  • Aaaaaaaaaargh

    I came here wondering if I’d see any posts about a different NRA today.  I’m sure it’ll come yet, but I can’t help feeling this title wouldn’t fit all that badly, and that they’d have a pretty good sense of the answer.

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

    LB: The Pets

    Arnold the cat sat in the comfortable chair conveniently vacated by his human.

    Suddenly, the roaring sound and vibrations through the chair happened again, and he looked about anxiously as he extended his claws, ready to grip anything if he should fall.

    The ground began to tilt sharply, prompting a plaintive “Mew!” from Arnold. He looked on in surprise as his human tumbled over, and peeked around the back of the chair to see him getting back up as the ground stopped tilting, and the roaring settled to a lower level.

    Oddly, his human seemed unaffected by tumbling over so quickly, which made Arnold wonder if his human were actually another cat.

    (a few scenes later)

    Now seated in his human’s lap, Arnold purred contentedly as his human made those human-ish noises to a rather large human standing next to him.

    Arnold wondered if the large human would also have the ground tilt out from under him on one of these roaring vessels, and whether the large human would be as unaffected.

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

    Blasphemy!

    Nicolae’s cat is named Puffington.

    I cite from the ancient sources, from the days when the blog was at typepad and broken italics ran rampant:

    ferrying him from place to place around the globe, carrying his water and holding his coat

    I misread this at first as “holding his cat”, which made for a glorious mental image of the Antichrist roaming the world, nuking cities and massacring rebels, with Rayford always three feet behind him with a pile of fluffy indifference in his arms. “Have the refugees made their way into the subway? Good. Detonate the nerve gas tanks and release a statement to Le Monde about the latest attack by Christian terrorists. Someone get me four tonnes of sidewalk chalk; I’m going to write the Tetragrammaton on the Western Wall and then call in an air strike. Is Puffington hungry? Puffington wants skritches? Skritchyskritchyskritchypppprrrrrrr. Step along, Rayford, I have to make a phone call to the former King of Jordan. I know you like to watch.”

  • aunursa

    No, Chris.  Nicky’s original cat had served its purpose, became expendable, and was eliminated during the 18 month interlude in Book #2.  Fortunato had personally overseen the search for a replacement pet, which resulted in Arnold’s promotion to the position.

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

    Chris, I hate to break the news to you. But Nicky’s original cat had served its purpose, became expendable, and was eliminated during the 18 month interlude in Book #2.  Fortunato had personally overseen the search for a replacement pet, which resulted in Arnold’s promotion to the position.

    Ah yes, I remember the two chapters in which all of Arnold’s contemporaries and associates spoke incredibly highly of him, while Arnold himself struggled over whether or not he should take the job, before deciding after a lengthy prayer nap that it was the right thing to do.

  • Magic_Cracker

    If Nicolae really had a cat in these books, L&J would have had him name it “Lucy Fur”  so that the protagonists could give each other knowing glances behind the backs of the ignorant unsaved liberal idiots cooing and scratching its chin.

  • aunursa

    If Nicolae really had a cat in these books, L&J would have had him name it “Lucy Fur”

    In an antichrist crossover with The Omen, Rayford could by transporting
    Lucy in the Sky with Damien.

    Sorry … I just couldn’t resist.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Picture yourself on a flight out of Frisco
    As hydrogen bombs light up the skies,
    Somebody calls you, you converse quite slowly,
    Hundreds of pages go by.

    Cellophane prayers will keep your soul clean,
    No matter what horrors you aid,
    You really don’t like it you say to God and yourself,
    But still you want to get paid.

    etc.

  • aunursa

    Cellophane prayers cellular phone calls

  • Magic_Cracker

    Or maybe “cellular towers that never get bombed” ….

  • Tybult

     You just broke my brain.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    If Nicolae really had a cat in these books, L&J would have had him name it “Lucy Fur”  so that the protagonists could give each other knowing glances behind the backs of the ignorant unsaved liberal idiots cooing and scratching its chin.

    The cats in my house have loosey fur.  They leave a halo of it on my lap when they get off of it.  I suspect they only get up there because petting exfoliates their shedding.  

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

    Oh, lord, they totally would have. (-_-)

  • Tricksterson

    Which raises the question, why doesn’t anyone in these books have a pet?  Were they all Raptured too?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    RTCs don’t need pets, as it is blasphemous to show affection for anything not specifically the LAWD GAWD hALMIGHTY.
    On the other hand, a Merciful God would want to spare these gentle friends of humanity, these true innocents from all the upcoming traumas.

  • Tricksterson

    Okay fine but Nicolae should at least have a white Persian or a three headed dog named Fluffy.

  • Launcifer

    Nah, what he needs is a genetically modified blue lynx for absolutely no good reason whatsoever.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Some things justify their own existence. Blue lynxes are among them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    Darn you, Ellie, you just overloaded my AWWWW… quotient for the week!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    How about one of each? And have them live together. A DOG and a CAT LIVING TOGETHER. That is definitely one sign of the Apocalypse, or the Tribulation, or something. If Nicky Brasstown Bald Which Is The Highest Point In The State Of Georgia really wants to be a proper Antichrist, then the least he can do is start with the basics.
    At least he finally took action against a true crime against humanity — Airport Coffee.

  • EllieMurasaki

    As Nicky Britton Hill, Florida, surely knows, there have been families with both pet cats and pet dogs since the domestication of whichever got domesticated later. Apocalypse ain’t come yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    Maybe it’s the Antichrist who has to own them. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Good point. Though I imagine he’d have a tough time thinking of himself as the Antichrist if he did. Cats are deities and they know it, and insist on their due worship from anyone who spends much time with them.

  • P J Evans

     Not only do cats know they’re deities, but they choose their own chief servants. As anyone who’s ever been owned by a cat can tell people.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Dogs and humans domesticated each other at the same time, is what I last saw research saying. Cats domesticated the rest of us later.

    One of “my” cats is my cat because, as a kitten, she walked up to my dog, who was walking my father. This cat has always loved dogs, and that dog always loved cats. I’ve never known a dog who didn’t get along quite nicely with cats, actually. Cats get along with anyone who acknowledges their rightful place above the rest of us, and dogs are always looking for someone to adore and obey.

    Of course, it’s often more complicated than that, at least with the strong personalities of my family’s pets. I once took care of my stepmother’s dog for a few weeks. My cat was still very young then, and tried to play with her incessantly — the poor dog was about 10 years old, and liked playing with a 2-year old cat some, but wanted to relax too. Said dog, a Pomeranian who thought she was a Great Dane, finally had enough, and yapped at the cat until the cat retreated to a nearby bag. When the cat tried to come out of the bag, the dog yapped until she went back in. 

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

    How about one of each? And have them live together. A DOG and a CAT LIVING TOGETHER. That is definitely one sign of the Apocalypse, or the Tribulation, or something.

    Um…

    (Please excuse the mess) I posted this on my blog yesterday:

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    The AntiChrist has a CAT?!?! About time! Don’t need to hear another word about anything else, just fill me in about that Cat! :)

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

    All further inquires about the Antichrist’s cat Puffington should be directed at Will Wildman of Narrow Crooked Lanes.  I’m afraid I’ve already told all I know.

  • fraser

     Now I’m thinking of Blofeld and his cat. Nicky does not do well by comparison.

  • Dogfacedboy

    “The AntiChrist has a CAT?!?! About time! Don’t need to hear another word about anything else, just fill me in about that Cat! :)”

    It’s the Basement Cat.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    This is the third or fourth time that Jerry Jenkins has informed readers first about the destruction of an airport and then, as a footnote to that, about the slaughter of millions of people in the surrounding area as well. This weird priority of airports over people seems like a device a better writer might borrow and repurpose as a way of deliberately highlighting the obtuse narcissism of a protagonist. I think that would be effective, since it’s quite effective here at unintentionally highlighting the obtuse narcissism of both Rayford and the authors.

    I would not necessarily say that such a deliberate use would highlight narcissism as it would be to take a tragedy so enormous that it becomes abstract and turn it into something on a scale the human mind can process.  The whole “One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic,” kind of framing.  For example, suppose that all these details are only mentioned in passing (as it was in these books) and the impact only really hits Rayford once he retires to the privacy of his quarters.  In the cockpit, he had to maintain his charade and focus on doing his job.  The details around him were absorbed passively, recorded, the impact of them pushed to the back of his mind by the necessity of where he is and what he is doing.  But once he is back on his bunk, he rolls over and closes his eyes.  And in the darkness he sees.

    The airport with that coffee shop that made the best espresso he has ever had.  
    … gone.  
    That other airport with the flight controller who always seemed to guide him in but with a funny accent he could never quite place.  
    … gone.  
    The airport he remembered desperately running through so he would not miss Chole’s birth.  
    … gone.  
    All the faces he has seen, all the people he has met, professionals and personal alike.
    … gone.  

    Sensation swelling up inside him, Rayford stumbles off his cot with a speed born of desperation and heaves great gobs of nothing over the small spartan sink.  He gives a few last hacks, coughing up the sense of horror and disgust, and turns on the sink.  He splashes the water on his face quickly, vigorously rubbing his face with the hand towel as though there were some smudge he could not remove.  Face stinging with a raw sensation, he shambles back to the cot, falling to his knees and clasping his hands together, praying for the strength to carry on one more day.  

  • Tofu_Killer

    So who else here thinks Wayne LaPierre  makes a more convincing anti-christ than Nicky?

  • reynard61

    “So who else here thinks Wayne LaPierre makes a more convincing anti-Christ than Nicky?”

    I think that a more valid comparison would be with Joss Ackland’s evil South African diplomat in Lethal Weapon 2; but instead of waving his credentials and screaming “DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY!!!”, he waves the U.S. Constitution and screams “SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS!!!”. Unfortunately, no one seems to be interested in replacing LaPierre (or the rest of the NRA’s so-called “leadership”) with anyone more moderate. And this is why nothing will get done.

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

    Nicolae leaned back in his seat; Rayford could hear the sound of the leather seats. (either that or the only food they could find in San Francisco was Taco Bell, Rayford thought with a chuckle)

    “Leon, I’ll need you to bring me a short list of replacements for those positions. Top people in their fields if possible, but the key is being immediately available.”

    There was a moment of silence. It stretched, until Rayford almost felt a tense stillness through the intercom, before Leon Fortunado snarled a reply.

    “What is wrong with you? We just nuked San Francisco; if there was a rear window, we could see the mushroom cloud! And you want to talk about HR? That’s the next important part of your grand plan? Are you m-”

    Fortunado’s voice cut off suddenly, replaced with a dry gagging sound. Nicolae’s voice sounded velvety-smooth, unconcerned with the subject and unaffected by any exertion.

    “There’s nothing else we need to do, Leon. In times of great trials, some elements of humanity have always lifted themselves up, and lifted up those around them with grace, compassion, love, and mercy. Those elements were taken away over a year ago. Now all that is left are the looters, the squatters, the profiteers. The wounds we’ve made in this world will fester and rot, and the sepsis shall spread across society. We need do nothing, as His grace is no longer present.”

    Rayford heard a long throaty gasp; apparently Leon Fortunado was drawing breath again. Nicolae continued speaking.

    “I know, there will be a demand for a government response, but the bureaucrats will bog down relief efforts and demand extra funding while bodies float in the bay. There will be telethons and charity drives, but the promoters will take their cut, and the celebrity guests will have limos that need to be paid for. Rebuilding will be outsourced, and contractors will run up costs and drive down quality, so that the few buildings restored will be toxic deathtraps in the next disaster.”

    “Leon, we don’t need to do anything more than give people the chance to, well, act like people. This is how the world ends, not with a bang, but with…”

    Rayford suddenly realized at some point in Nicolae’s monologue, a frightened whimper had been escaping from his throat. His fingers numb, he turned off the intercom. 

  • Dogfacedboy

    I’m glad the world didn’t end today, what with nine and 1/2 more books for Fred to still get through.

  • Michael Pullmann

    “The only reason I asked you to replace Hattie is that the job has passed her by. …”

    Uh, Nick, nobody asked why you wanted to replace Hattie. Surely you’re not saying this just to defuse tension in an invisible audience, right?

    Also: I swear, Fred, I feel like every one of your recaps should have a Dave Barry-style “I am not making this up” tacked onto it.

  • http://twitter.com/DonnaMcCrimmon Donna McCrimmon

    “The whole point of Rayford’s elaborate eavesdropping system… was to gather information on the Antichrist’s plans.”

    I thought the entire point of the eavesdropping system was so that Jenkins could relay the villain’s schemes without shifting focus away from Buck or Ray. Don’t attribute to elaborate planning which could be more easily explained by sheer laziness.

    Though doesn’t this put Jenkins up against the wall? For about as long as Fred has been doing this series we’ve seen how the heroes refuse to take any action to help others or put themselves on the line. And yet here’s a chance where Jenkins could avoid making them culpable by inaction by not cluing them in on what’s about to happen. Shift focus to Nicholae alone with his puppet government, in a place where neither Ray nor Buck could ever listen in on him, and the audience can find out what the next stage of his plans are without the heroes also doing so. Thus we can’t expect the Tribulation “Force” to take any action to oppose Nicholae, and instead there’d be tension stemming from the fact that we know certain danger is lurking but they don’t. It’s the classic “Look out, the strangler is approaching stealthily behind you!” ploy.

    Of course, to pull that off Jenkins would need to deprive the “heroes” of special knowledge, and considering this entire series is founded on the idea of LaHaye being one of the few special people privy to important information (how to properly read the Book of Revelation) it would be unacceptable for the “heroes” to ever be in the dark about what’s to happen next.

  • everstar

    I know there’s no point in again going over how twisted Ellenjay’s view of women is.   Yet reading this I couldn’t help but be struck by how Rayford isn’t worried that Hattie’s life is in danger; he’s worried Carpathia isn’t going to marry her.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Well, if Hattie married Nicholae, she’d no longer be a scarlet lady, but an honest woman meekly submitting to her husband’s headship.

  • fraser

     ” So, was he not going to marry her? Did he not want a child? He had put
    on such a good front before Rayford and Amanda when Hattie had announced
    the news.”
    Yes, it seems to reaffirm everything Fred’s ever said about the religious right’s fixation on premarital sex as the Big Bad.  

  • GeniusLemur

     And after he’s seen Nicky nuke city after city, he’s shocked, shocked that Nicky might not marry his pregnant girlfriend and/or not want a child.

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

    The discussion of cats has me thinking… strange thoughts:

    – – Mr Nicolae Carpathia ate with relish the inner organs of beasts,
    fowls, and dissenters.  He liked ground Christian soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart,
    liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods’ roes. Most of all he liked
    grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented
    urine.
    – – Kidneys were in his mind as he moved about the airplane softly,
    righting her breakfast things on the humpy tray. Perfect light and air were in
    the inflight kitchen but outside gentle mushroom clouds rose everywhere. Made him
    feel a bit peckish.
    – – The coals were reddening.  And a faint smell of sulfer wafted up.
    – – Another slice of bread and butter: three, four: right. She didn’t like
    her plate full. Right. He turned from the tray, lifted the kettle off the hob
    and set it sideways on the fire. It sat there, dull and squat, its spout stuck
    out. Cup of saint’s blood soon. Good. Mouth dry.
    T- – he cat walked stiffly round a leg of the table with tail on high.
     — Mkgnao!
     — There you are, Mr Carpathia said, turning from the hellfire.
    – – The cat mewed in answer and stalked again stiffly round a leg of the
    table, mewing. Just how she stalks over my Potentable. Prr. Scratch my
    head. Prr.
    – – Mr Carpathia watched curiously, kindly the lithe black form. Clean to
    see: the gloss of her sleek hide, the white button under the butt of her tail,
    the green flashing eyes. He bent down to her, his hands on his knees.
     — Milk for the pussens, he said.
     — Mrkgnao! the cat cried.
    – – They call them stupid. They understand what we say better than we
    understand them. She understands all she wants to. Vindictive too. Cruel.
    Could learn from her. Curious mice never squeal. Seem to like it. Wonder what I look
    like to her. Height of a tower? No, she can jump me.
     — Afraid of the chickens she is, he said mockingly. Afraid of the
    chookchooks. I never saw such a stupid pussens as the pussens.
     — Mrkrgnao! the cat said loudly.
    – – She blinked up out of her avid shameclosing eyes, mewing plaintively
    and long, showing him her milkwhite teeth. He watched the dark eyeslits
    narrowing with greed till her eyes were green stones. Then he went to thecabinet, took the jug a GC servant had just filled for him, pouredwarmbubbled milk on a saucer and set it slowly on the floor. — Gurrhr! she cried, running to lap.- – He watched the bristles shining wirily in the weak light as she tippedthree times and licked lightly. Wonder is it true if you clip them they can’tmouse after. Why? They shine in the dark, perhaps, the tips. Or kind offeelers in the dark, perhaps.  Like the tentacles of my Lord?- – He listened to her licking lap. Ham and eggs, no. No good eggs withthis drouth. Want pure fresh water. Thursday: not a good day either for ahuman kidney in Paris. Fried with butter, a shake of pepper. Better apork kidney at Dublin. While the kettle is boiling. She lapped slower,then licking the saucer clean. Why are their tongues so rough? To lapbetter, all porous holes. Nothing she can eat? He glanced round him. No.- – On custom baby seal leather boots he went up the staircase to the hall, pausedby the bedroom door. Hattie might like something tasty. Thin bread andbutter she likes in the morning. Still perhaps: once in a way.- – He said softly in the bare hall: — I’m going to nuke a few cities. Be back in a minute.- – And when he had heard his voice say it he added: — You don’t want anything for breakfast?- – A sleepy soft grunt answered: — Mn.
    – – Without warning the hall started to move, the plane was taking off
    could I grab- No.  What about- Too late.  Brace for- OWW! Subpotentates
    must have heard that.  They’ll come to gather all around.  Bootlickers all
    probably do it literally if he asked them.   He should do that.  Ask them
    Step in some shit first
     — Potentate, are you all right?
     — I am all right, Mr. Carpathia insisted. It is my own fault. I will be fine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    And since Nicolae is the antagonist driving the plot of this story, that means we also don’t have any idea of what that plot is.

    I just read an insightful post on Facebook yesterday (yes, such a beast exists) discussing a basic problem of superhero comics, that one way to define a protagonist versus an antagonist is that the protagonist is proactive, and the antagonist reacts to the protagonist.  And given the usual relationships between supervillains & superheroes, in this schema, the villain is usually the protagonist.  It seems like we have the same problem (among many, many others) in these books.  It still leaves open the question of whether Nicolae or the not-directly-seen God is the protagonist, but it sure as heck ain’t Ray or Bucky-boy.  Nicolae is the one who’s visibly proactive, but then again, it’s mostly in keeping with the plan decreed by God long ago, so that’s debatable.

  • Magic_Cracker

    That’s akin to a long-time superhero comic book complaint of mine: Most supervillains are committing crimes to specifically draw out or get back at their preferred nemesis. I can’t remember the last time I read a Detective Comics where Bruce Wayne investigated a case that wasn’t in some way connected back to himself, either as Bruce Wayne or the Batman.

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

    Wait.  So you mean if someone would just step up and kill Batman all the supervillains would leave Gotham alone?  Batman is the beacon that brings them in and says, “This is the city you should attack.”

    Well, damn, we need a hero to get rid of this menace.

  • Magic_Cracker

    I think the cray-cray supervillians with a grudge against Batman (e.g., Joker, Two-Face) would leave the city alone. The greed-motivated supervillains like Penguin or Black Mask would battle for control of Gotham’s rackets at first, but eventually things would settle back down.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Well, that is also a reoccurring moral theme examined in the Batman mythos, particularly by later interpretations: to what extent is Batman shaped by the foes he fights, and to what extent are those foes made by him?  

    It makes for an interesting quandary, and why a series like that can have a lot more depth than its surface would suggest.  Heck, I have known people who enjoy Batman on the basis that he tends to have the most interesting rogues gallery.  

  • fraser

     I don’t think the Joker. For all that he hates Batman (and perversely enjoys battling him) he’s (as Steve Englehart once put it) a time bomb that’s going to go off every so often.

  • http://twitter.com/AbelUndercity Abel Undercity

    I don’t know if it’s still canon (what with the New 52 reboot and all), but prior to Batman, Gotham was the stomping grounds of the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott.  In the event of Batman’s death, another hero would likely fill the void left, rather than leave Gotham’s citizenry at the whims of his rogues gallery.

  • fraser

     Robin did the same thing after Batman’s supposed death in Final Crisis.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     IIRC, an element of the backstory to ‘Birds of Prey’ (A series about the lovechild of Batman and Catwoman) is that there’s an entire generation of metahumans who sprang up in Gotham as a result of the dalliances  of the various supervillains who’d come to town to fight Batman.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    There’s an episode of Batman:  The Animated Series – which may or may not be an adaptation of an existing story; certainly there are elements of Morrison’s Arkham Asylum in the episode – that touches on that idea.

    I forget some of the specifics, but Gotham has a new DA who is making that very claim.  The inmates at Arkham decide to put her ideas to the test, and they end up taking over the place – with the help of the Mad Hatter’s mind-control devices – and they kidnap the DA and force Batman to surrender himself into their custody so that he can be put on trial for his crimes against him.

    The twist is that the new DA is forced to serve as Batman’s defense attorney (Two-Face is the prosecutor).

    In the end, the new DA concludes that while the inmates might have used different methods and found slightly different targets, with or without Batman they all would have turned out pretty much exactly the way they did and been just as much of a danger to society.  In fact, they’d likely be worse without Batman, given how ill-equipped conventional law enforcement is to deal with them.

  • Doodle

    Batman on trial: The “No man’s land” comic series did this with Jim Gordon, with Two-Face prosecuting. gordon called Harvey Dent to be his defense attorney, and the villain crumbled. The Greg Rucka book adaptation is pretty good and even eliminates some Fail from the epic.

  • Drake

     In the Batman episode, the District Attorney wins this case fair and square, even with the jury being made up of the accusers. They decide to kill her and Batman anyway, but I always thought that was pretty cool — she managed to get them to admit responsibility for their actions.

  • fraser

     Good point. I think it’s supposed to be an improvement by deepening the characters, showing they want more than money, but it doesn’t usually work.
    It does with Luthor (Silver/Bronze Age version) because the best stories show this is not healthy–he can’t let go of his hate and doesn’t want to.

  • Tybult

    I was playing Arkham Asylum and I came up with a conceit that Gotham City is actually all in Bruce Wayne’s head, and the various villains are elements of his psyche that he’s trying to keep in check.

    And you know? It’s far from the craziest idea anyone’s come up with for Batman.

  • fraser

     Sinestro made the same point in his first appearance–he can attack Green Lantern, but GL can’t strike if Sinestro’s just twiddling his thumbs.
    But that’s not really a problem for a lot of super-heroes–Superman does a lot to help out people even when there’s no super-villain in sight. And the same point could be made about cops and mystery stories–until there’s a crime to solve, there’s no action. But the cop/detective is still the protagonist.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    And then you get things like ‘Cry for Justice’ where the superheroes get fed up with the fact that they have to wait for criminals to actually commit crimes before they can go after them, and decide to just go after criminals who haven’t committed any crimes yet. For Great Justice.

  • Grumpy

    Heh. I think I was reading the same post yesterday.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Yep, that’s the one.  Thanks for having that at hand!  Specifically, it was The Avengers part 6.

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

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 247 pages

  • David

    We sent Osama’s chauffeur to Guantanimo.  What should be done with the Anti-Christ’s pilot that seems to leave nuked airports in his wake?

    It seems that these books are one long meditation on the quote: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.  That is assuming these men are good.

  • Ken

    What should be done with the Anti-Christ’s pilot that seems to leave nuked airports in his wake?

    IIRC, in the last book he gets a golden crown, two wives (who are willing to share, wink wink), his own estate, and a hearty “well done thou good and faithful servant” from the Big Guy himself.  So if you’re looking for justice, try another series.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    So, was he not going to marry her? Did he not want a child? He had put on such a good front before Rayford and Amanda when Hattie had announced the news.

    Wait, wasn’t Rayford afraid Hattie had been murdered? How did this become about office gossip? And why does Ray sound so hurt by the thought of Nicolae not settling down with a family? It’s almost like he thinks the Antichrist is too good for her, and the mass-murdering spawn of Satan was the last best hope for a girl like Hattie to ever find a groom.

    Oh, and “soon-to-be mother of his child”? Surely as an RTC, Rayford knows that motherhood begins at conception.

  • aunursa

    Later in this book, the Tribbies plead with Hattie not to abort the antichrist’s child.

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

    As a result of which, Hattie takes their advice, ultimately giving extremely painful birth to a stillborn, deformed baby of “indeterminate” sex.

    So we can all see that it would have been much worse for Hattie to have had an abortion…

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Later in this book, the Tribbies plead with Hattie not to abort the antichrist’s child.

    Seriously!?  Because I am thinking that if there were just one circumstance in which a RTC might think abortion excusable, it would be in ridding the world of a literal child of evil.  

  • Turcano

    You have to remember, these are people who think it’s bad to lie to the Nazis to protect Jews, but it’s okay to lie to each other about science.  It’s a fucked-up subculture.

  • fraser

     There was actually a Wolff and Byrd plotline with that concept.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    There was actually a Wolff and Byrd plotline with that concept.

    I was just thinking of that one.  A coalition of Satanists and Fundamentalists, trying to stop a woman who was pregnant with Satan’s baby from getting an abortion. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Wolff and Byrd?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre.  A long-running humorous comic about lawyers who represent monsters (and such) in court.

    All this talk about pets reminds me of the “Rapture Pets” guy.  apparently, he was just pulling a hoax, but a quick Google search shows some similar businesses….

  • JoshuaS

    Why? Nicolae may be evil, but he is fully human and there is no particular reason why his child would turn out the same as he will. (And even if Nicolae Jr. is evil, who would care? The world’s going to end — by the time he’s old enough to walk, the world would explode.)

    It’s interesting though — Hattie ends up miscarrying — her unborn child dies in the womb. But this character is never seen in the afterlife, unlike the children of all the other important characters in the series.

    I know it’s just an oversight, a consequence of aggressively sloppy writing and utter carelessness, but it gives the impression that they didn’t really consider the unborn child to be a person, with a soul able to pass into the afterlife…

  • everstar

     I really read that as “the tribbles plead” etc.  All I could think of was Hattie being mobbed by distressed furry purring things.

  • LL

    I think I know the answer before I ask this question, but is there in there anywhere a realization by the authors that the antichrist chose Rayford (seriously, I can barely type that name with a straight face) because he seems like the kind of guy who’d gladly help the antichrist? 

    In other words, RayRay thinks Nicowhatever chose him because he’s such an awesome pilot, but it’s really because RayRay is exactly the kind of corporate tool who will fit right in with the minions of hell. 

  • aunursa

    is there in there anywhere a realization by the authors that the antichrist chose Rayford (seriously, I can barely type that name with a straight face) because he seems like the kind of guy who’d gladly help the antichrist?

    Nicolae: I also want to let you in on a little secret, something that has not been announced yet. Ms. Durham has assured me that you are a man who can be trusted, a man of your word, and as of recently also a religious man.”

    Brave Sir Rayford nodded, unwilling to say anything.

    Rayford: I’m at your disposal. I do need to be home before we leave Saturday, however.
    Nicolae I like your style. You are at my disposal. That is nice… I like you, and I believe we can work together.

    from Tribulation Force

  • Grumpy

    The title of this post reminds me of a blog which I started reading, coincidentally, yesterday: What Does the Protagonist Want? http://www.toddalcott.com/

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

    He felt responsible that his former senior flight attendant was now not only in Carpathia’s employ, but was also his lover and the soon-to-be mother of his child.

    I know I’m always nitpicking the little things when there’s so much big bad, but really…senior flight attendant? Is it really necessary to include that part in this particular context? I think Jenkins’s obsessions with telephony and airports are rivaled by his obsession with titles. Sort of a jet-setting 18th-century aristocrat permanently on the phone?

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

    Well, even in Rayford’s old nature, he would never lust after anyone so lowly as a junior flight attendant.  I mean, if he’s going to leave his “attractive enough” wife, it has to be for someone with some status; someone who can be put on a pedestal just high enough to see up her senior flight-attendant skirt.

  • aunursa

    The only other newbie on the crew was a young flight attendant named Hattie Durham, who looked enough like the infamous Trish that Rayford had to once again slug it out with his conscience over the Christmas party fiasco a few years before. Hattie was introduced to him by his favorite senior flight attendant, Janet Allen. When she sent Hattie back to her chores, Janet whispered, “Just between you and me, Captain, she’s a little ditzy.  Ambitious, though, I’ll give her that. Wants my job on an international route.”

    “Think she’ll make it?”

    “I’m not sure she knows when we’re in the air or on the ground just yet.”

    from Prequel #1, The Rising

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    And it all started with the loss of Bruce.

    Wait, what? 

    It all started with the loss of his wife and son. Not flippin’ Bruce, a dude he only knew for a short time. But Rayford doesn’t even spare a thought for his wife and son. They may as well have never existed.

    A writer who forgets that he’s killed off his protaganist’s wife and child is not a writer. I don’t think such a so-called writer can even be called a human being in a sense the rest of us can understand.

  • JoshuaS

    I didn’t really pick up on that either, and I’m human! If Rayford is a paper-thin character, and Nicolae is a talking plot device, then Irene and Raymie are even less than that — they’re backstory. Not even interesting backstory — Irene’s thing was that she introduced Rayford to PMDism, and Raymie… Raymie could be cut entirely without affecting any aspect of the story or characters.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    You’re not the so-called writer. It’s the writer’s responsibility to remember these things. While readers often misread, forget, and misinterpret, it should be completely impossible for a reader to ever forget that Rayford lost his wife and son if the writer is writing at all. That anyone possibly can is the fault of Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye and no one else.

    One does not write a story in which the protaganist’s wife and child are killed, and have those facts be anything but centrally important to the story. It is simply not done. Jenkins is neither a writer nor an acceptable human being.

  • GeniusLemur

     It isn’t just Ray. Everyone in these novels has completely forgotten the rapture and all the people lost in it.

  • Launcifer

    Obviously Bruce was the drummer who died in a weird telephone-related accident while pruning his rose bushes one morning. Rayford wasn’t always an airline pilot: once he was the singer in a middling NWOBHM-ripoff heavy metal band. That’s how he met Buck, actually. Buck’s not a hotshot reporter – he’s the poor, washed-up sod from Kerrapp!I who’s so desperate to keep his job he gets all the crummy the stories that the reporters won’t touch.  He also plays keyboards in the church band,  though nobody knows. They usually just leave him out in the corridor with a Cassio and let him noodle away, maybe leave the door open so that people can hear.  

    Conversely, Nicolae isn’t even the antichrist, at least not deliberately. He’s the lead singer in the second most successful Led Zeppelin tribute band to come out of Romania. That’s why he’s obsessed with aeroplanes – he read that Zep’ used to charter the Starship when they toured the US and he wanted to be just like his heroes, bless ‘im. The mind whammy thing? That’s an accident, kinda like his very own backward masking unit – except it’s real, obviously. Some idiot made a bootleg of one of his band’s gigs (let’s call ’em Let’s Zep! or something), whacked it up on youtube and, next thing he knows, it’s all gone viral and now there’s some guy who insists on being called “Buck” like he’s something out of an old eighties sci-fi programme trying to get an interview.

    He doesn’t have any idea how he got a standing ovation from the U.N either. He just found himself there, standing next to that Bonio fella (poor Nic’s already worn out four copies of The Joshua Tree he liked it that much) and he started naming all of the countries he could think of because he didn’t know what to say when they plonked him behind the lectern. All of a sudden people are cheering him on like he’s the king of the world, so he just carries on calling out countries he can find on a map. Mr Carpathia (though he’s since changed his name to “Mt. Doom”, because it sounds more rock and rool) still thinks he only got to be Secretary General because of all that revision he had to do once for a fifth form geography test.

    That business when those two guys committed suicide right in front of him? Another accident: he was just trying to branch out and get with the times. How was he to know that Bullet in the Head would have such literal repercussions?

    *takes a breath*

    O-kay, I have absolutely no idea where any of that came from, but I’m so glad it’s now everyone elses problem and not rattling around inside my head like it has been for the past two hours.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Some idiot made a bootleg of one of his band’s gigs (let’s call ’em Let’s Zep! or something)….

    I think that considering the implications of the name, “Kingdom Come” would be just right.

  • Launcifer

    I was toying with the idea of a Stairway to Heaven gag, but I couldn’t find a way to make it funny. Maybe Nicky’s just the Hammer of (the) God(s) and there’s nothing he could do about it.

  • Launcifer

    And I broke the formatting. *headdesk*

  • LC

    Out of curiosity, is there another Armageddon/Eschaton that has quite the same sort of “checklist” mentality as this one? I mean, I know there are signs of the end times in a lot, but does anyone know of any others that have turned into quite this systematic series of ticks on a ledger?  And I’ve always assumed there are alternate arrangements of the ticks even here, correct? Doesn’t the timing or even existence of the Rapture change in a few versions?

    I was wondering if you could write an end times story along a different checklist that might even be open to some question as to whose end time story it was.

  • Ken

     Out of curiosity, is there another Armageddon/Eschaton that has quite the same sort of “checklist” mentality as this one?

    There are a few with fairly detailed predictions.  For example in the Norse Ragnarok the gods know exactly how they are going to be killed in the final battle, and there’s nothing they can do about it.  I suppose one big difference is that there’s no equivalent of Scofield or LaHaye, who’s sat down with the Eddas and said “Fimbulwinter – that must be a nuclear winter!  And the Midgard Serpent is obviously a metaphor for Great Britain, since their empire stretches around the globe!”

  • LC

     ::nod:: The Norse was one of the only ones I came up with.  I suppose the Zorastrian at least has some of that checklist. But it really does seem no where else inspired the same sort of “It must mean X!” passion.

    I was trying to think of a way you could do a similar story with a checklist that would still allow for more action by the heroes. I suppose you couldn’t overlap this space well, though, since I don’t know of any other that includes something like the Rapture.

  • Ken

    There’s a similar trope in fantasy, where the Prophecy says the Evil Overlord will conquer all, unless stopped by the Chosen One.  It usually runs in reverse, with the Evil Overlord trying to spot the signs of the Chosen One and kill  him (or her) first.   And usually the Chosen One is one of the few people who doesn’t know the Prophecy, until the he (or she) is saved from the first assassination attempt then briefed by a Member of the Resistance (who will later morph into the Designated Love Interest).

  • Tricksterson

    Or the Mentor

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

    I think that one’s been done so often that a machine could write that story now. And probably make it more engaging than Left Behind, which takes all those cliches and tropes and misuses them all — the prophecy is extremely straightforward and obvious, and it is fulfilled in the most obvious way possible; the Chosen One in the story isn’t the hero, but a genetically-engineered megalomaniacal superman who looks like Robert Redford; the Resistance is a small group of religious fundamentalists who disagree with the Antichrist but comply with his every wish…

  • GeniusLemur

    Hey, sometimes the briefing guy morphs into an old-guy mentor.

    I was tinkering with a plotline once where the evil overlord gets the prophecy that the chosen one will destroy him. He says, “Well, it’s prophesied, so I can’t do anything about it,” and refuses to do anything to find or destroy the chosen one.

  • fraser

     While I didn’t much care for JV Jones “Book of Words” trilogy, one thing I loved in it is that instead of being preserved perfectly from time immemorial, the Prophecy has been rumor-gamed so much that by the time of the first volume there are at least a half-dozen different versions. So the chief bad guy is operating on the wrong playbook.

  • fraser

     I wrote a Lovecraftian parody once (it sold to an online magazine a few years ago) where the same sort of End Times analysis is applied to Alhazred: “It’s obvious, the strange brood of Hali who will be yoked by Nyarlathotep refers to the European nations becoming the EC!”

  • TheBrett

    If only Rayford was more noble and self-sacrificing. I can just imagine the scene that might ensue:

    Rayford: *Does everything necessary to lock in the plane for a collision with the ground, after broadcasting Carpathia’s treachery to the world before the nukes fall.Carpathia: Blah Blah Blah How could you betray me? *Mind control!* *Mind control fails!*

    Rayford: It ends now, Nicolae. May God have mercy on your soul, because gravity will have none. 

  • Kiba

    But we still have no idea what the Antichrist wants.

    Well obviously he wants to destroy all the airports. Not sure why but, man, does he ever hate those things. 

    (I am Nicolae Carpathia and you are the airport that killed my father. Prepare to die. **drops nuke**)

  • Launcifer

    Maybe it’s not the airports he has a problem with so much as the quality of departure lounge coffee?

  • Kiba

    “You call this swill coffee?” He yelled as he threw the cup against the wall. “This blasphemous transgression against the holy bean can not stand!”

    Stalking angrily out of the departure lounge he snarled to his aid, “I’ll show those heretical bastards. When we are clear I want this place reduced to ash. I will leave them howling in despair in the brilliant radioactive blow of the rubble. I’ll teach them to profane the most holy bean that way!”

      

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    Actually that’s probably one of the best reasons I’ve seen here to completely annihilate the airports and everyone connected with them and their excuse for coffee.

  • Kiba

    In that case the hospital I used to work at would have to be on the list as well. You couldn’t find a decent cup of coffee anywhere in the entire place, but I think the water had something to do with that. It tasted funky all on its own and just tainted whatever was made with it. 

  • Tricksterson

    So he’s a fundamentalist worshiper of Caffeina?

  • P J Evans

     I thought it was supposed to be Sts Caffeine and Theobromine.

  • Kiba

    I would have to plead guilty to that charge as well. =P

    Yesterday, in the wee hours of the morning, I set up the coffee pot (42 cups of pure black ambrosia) and when I went back to get a cup I thought the apocalypse had actually stuck because the pot hadn’t turned on. Turned out that the the fuse in the electrical socket and flipped and after I reset it the coffee pot started percolating away and all was right with the world.  

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

      (42 cups of pure black ambrosia)

    Wasn’t that a Richard Roundtree movie from the 70s?

  • Kiba

    I just realized that what the Antichrist wants, what he really, really wants, could be to just zig-a-zig-ah.

    Makes about as much sense as anything else in these books. 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Pets are a pain in the ass to write about. Seriously. They’re like, for advanced writers only. Though I’m speaking as someone who’s trying to write a pet who’s coming along on a huge journey and participating in fights and — argh. I am regretting it, but the pet is important to the story now and I can’t imagine it without him. I’m a good cook, but it feels like I’m trying to bake and decorate a wedding cake. I advise against it until you are very sure of yourself.

    Writing about a modern household pet would, of course, be a far lower level of difficulty. But Jenkins can’t even remember his protaganist’s wife and child whom he killed off in the beginning pages. There is no way he would be able to remember Puffington.

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

    Oh yeah. I only write these “The Pets” because L&J set such a low bar for being able to write with more verisimilitude. :P

  • Photon

    Well, “some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They
    can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just
    want to watch the world burn.”

    IMO Nicolae’s large scale actions seem indeed pretty Joker-like. But as a person he doesn’t seem like that, more the calculated evil ruler. You could of course say that he has a Joker-motivation and only pretends to be a politian.

    Still, Kiba’s theory holds water too…

  • Veylon

    You wouldn’t think it would be that hard to simply have Nicolae be a post-Millenialist type who’ll happily use end-justifiies-the-means logic to justify his actions to build a blasphemous-sounding “Heaven on Earth”. Throw in a few Illumanati and/or Masonic catchphrases and you’re good to go. If you need to have the guy do something irrational, have some ritual/symbol/rule of his belief that demands it of him. This should be the easy part.

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

    And once again, I refer you to the Christ Clone…. :P

  • fraser

     The excellent history The Rasputin Files concludes some of Rasputin’s wilder behavior was because his oddball sect believes you can’t have real redemption until you’ve racked up lots of sin. I could see Nicolae with some twisted version of that (only he doesn’t realize he’s never going to get that redemption).

  • Tybult

    I feel like there’s several flash fictions I could come up with here: Rayford tuning in to hear Carpathia discussing knitting techniques; Carpathia keeping an assassin around just because being stabbed and poisoned constantly amuses him; Carpathia talking about having to decant the clones because he just nuked a good chunk of the planet’s talented administrators.

    The problem is the things I’m parodying keep coming up. It’s like the Onion versus the GOP – the fake news simply cannot keep up with the Batshit Singularity that is the American right wing.

  • Will Hennessy

    What with all the Batman talk I can only think of two things:

    The ‘batman’ in Gravity’s Rainbow (a Corporal Wayne, as I recall…),

    and that cracked.com article about how brutal a murderer Batman is. Why, here it is now:

    http://www.cracked.com/article_20111_the-6-most-brutal-murders-committed-by-batman.html?wa_user1=1&wa_user2=Movies+%26+TV&wa_user3=article&wa_user4=feature_module

  • Hc_rudbeck

    Wait a minute: This callous selfish disregard for the lives of the unsaved – this obsession with logistics and transportation … is it possible that the author is imitating “Atlas shrugged”?

  • GeniusLemur

     No, it’s just a common feature of stories written by horrible people trying to preach their bullshit ideas.

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

    OTOH, there are plenty of religious conservatives who, although they think Ayn Rand is being pressure-cooked in Hell for her atheism, nonetheless think she had some pretty awesome ideas about stomping on the necks of lesser beings.

  • C E

    I am still baffled by Rayford making Nicolae fall on his butt in front of his cronies is seen as a small victory.  Because when a protagonist does that to an all powerful villain, it’s supposed to ruin said villain’s credibility as fearsome to his henchmen.  Here, it does not.  Granted, Nicolae is not the least bit scary, but still.  

  • SkyknightXi

    Admittedly, we DO see, towards the close of the main series, WHAT the Antichrist–and, by extension, Satanel–want. Namely, endless glorification, and the erasure of their foes. Which, of course, is the same thing God wants. The only real difference seems to be the tone of how their loyalists live. God’s loyalists live in utter calm and phlegmaticism, Satanel’s in fervor and…sanguinity or biliousness? Even so, I have no idea HOW the Unsaved are said to live after the Indwelling (and before Har Megiddo).

    Nonetheless, this whole cosmic war doesn’t seem to have THAT much substance beyond who gets to rule all of creation. Other than the proper vectors for attaining delight, there doesn’t seem to be much philosophical difference between the two factions. Putting aside the “erase you if you don’t join” elements, what DOES LaHaye see as the reason why one should join God, rather than join Satanel or abjure them both? Preferably his own words, from his non-fiction works.
     

  • arcseconds

    Putting aside the “erase you if you don’t join” elements, what DOES LaHaye see as the reason why one should join God, rather than join Satanel or abjure them both?

    Backing the winner?

  • Tricksterson

    So Phlegmatics follow RTC God and Sanguines follow Satan.  What deities would Cholerics and Melancholics follow?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Cholerics seem a Mars type, Melancholics more Hestia. (Obvious Mediterraneancentricism is obvious.) Not at all clear on what is attractive to Phlegmatics about the RTC deity, though.

  • SkyknightXi

     I was thinking in terms of how RTCs think God wants his followers to be in Heaven, and how they were “supposed” to be in Eden.

    To reiterate my point about the incentive for choosing God over neutrality or Satanel…Posit that for reasons yet to be fully deciphered, there will not BE a Final Conflict. God and Satanel will have influence in perpetuity. What philosophical reasons would there still be to choose God, and not neutrality or Satanel, in LaHaye’s view? In other words, what motivations does he see that DON’T relate in some way to risk of perdition?

  • Tricksterson

    Im not clear on what is attractive about the RTC God to anyone so dont ask me

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

    RamboJesus! That’s what’s attractive, at least to some folks. (-_-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    IN has a point. 

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

    Continuation of previous LB: The Pets starring Charlie, a Russian Blue.

    Charlie was in the moving box now. He looked at the woman and meowed urgently. He wanted it to stop!

    She ignored him and kept the box moving, sharply moving it this way and that.

    He pushed himself up on his hind legs and put his paws up on the shelf so he could at least see outside of the box. He saw humans rushing about among many moving boxes, many of which were emitting plumes of smoke.

    Unfortunately, the box shifted sharply, again and Charlie had to hurriedly curl up on the chair to keep from being flung about. He meowed insistently at his human’s fellow-human, but was unsurprised to get a distracted pat on the head as she kept swerving the box around the other still boxes.

    Finally, it came to a stop. Charlie was picked up and carried in the oddly brightly lit chamber, and as the woman entered her building, he heard the mechanical grinding sound he remembered once or twice before*.

    Oh, no. Not another small upward-moving box. “Meeeaaaaoooaoooow,” he whined.

    The woman began petting him and cuddling him closer to herself, which helped soothe him somewhat as she entered her domain (he could smell her everywhere; humans had funny ways of marking their territory, and hers apparently was to spray a scent on herself, which seemed to get into the entire area she lived in).

    She put him down on the floor, and rushed to her couch to curl up in it, grateful to not be in any moving boxes. He watched as she rushed to a device similar to the one he knew his human made human noises into. She pushed several buttons and looked around nervously as she put the device to her ear.

    Was she going to find his human? He hoped so!

    * The apartment building has a secured parkade. Charlie heard the anti-intruder garage-door-like barrier close.

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

    Chloe – The Rise of Antichrist.

    It was the most unnerving sight that Rayford had ever seen, and that was saying a lot, given the events of the past.  A crowd of of hundreds, walking in complete silence.  The did not jostle or bump each other, as normal crowds tended to do, but moved as a single unit, with a single purpose.

    Ahead of them all was his daughter leading them towards his plane.  They surrounded it, unmindful of the noise, and the risk of getting sucked into the uptake.  He could push down on the throttle and kill a dozen of them, if he’d had a mind to.  Not that he would, at least until they posed a threat to his plane.

    Chloe approached the side and made a small gesture.  The light on his panel, indicating that the passenger door had opened, came on.  He had no idea who had opened it.  Next to her, stood Buck, his head bowed like a dog whipped into submission.

    He turned on his hidden microphone.  Over the noise of the engine, he could hear the crowd.  They were chanting a single word over and over again, softly, but in unison.  It was a name he had first heard over twenty years ago, the name of his firstborn.  They were chanting “Chloe” over and over again, chanting in worship to the… thing that his daughter had become.

    She spoke, and as one they fell silent.  “I must go and spread our message to other lands, but I know that our mission will be in good hands, my children.  What is the message you will spread?”

    The crowd spoke in unison.  “Peace through strength.  Peace through Unity.  Peace through our enemies’ destruction.”

    “Go then, and do likewise.”  The door closed and he watched the crowd disperse off into the ruins.

    He pulled off his earphones and half ran to the back of GC one.  There she was, her clothing in bloody tatters, but wearing that self satisfied smirk on her face that he had come to loathe.

    “Hello, Daddy.  If you would, get us ready to go to New Babylon.  I’ve got a lot of work to do, as you can probably guess.”

    “What…” he said through clenched teeth “have you done?”

    “I’ve given them what they want.  Peace and security.  They’re terrified and they want someone to tell them what to do.  They saw me rise from the dead, and heal some of them, so they will do anything I ask, as long as I can promise them that this.. ” She gestured to the ruins around her.  “will end.  And so it will.  Our numbers will grow and we will root out any who oppose us and make examples of them.”

    “Suppose I stop you?  Suppose I fly this plane into the ocean?”

    “Oh you had your chance for that, but you chickened out, Father.  Now, that would be inconvenient, but pointless.  Right, Cameron?”

    He nodded slowly and she snickered.  “Good boy.  Now go shower and change and wait in our bedroom.  I’m in the mood to try cranking out some heirs.”

    He turned and mutely headed for the back of the plane.  She kicked off her shoes, stretched, and headed for one of the other rooms.  A small black form thumped to the floor quickly padded after her.

    In his shock, Rayford could only think of one thing.  When had they gotten a cat?

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

    LB: The Pets (Arnold the cat)

    Arnold’s ears perked up when he heard the click. His human stopped petting him, then he made a pleased noise and resumed the slow strokes over Arnold’s fur.

    Arnold sniffed the air curiously and peered at the human approaching them. His ears went back as he smelled the cowardice. This human reeked of it.

    The only other time he had smelled such cowardice was when the ungainly, burly dog had barked at him, prompting him to hiss and slaw the stupid beast, sending it clattering away from him, howling all the while.

    He narrowed his eyes and hissed in displeasure again.

    —-

    Rayford Steele was discomfited.

    Nicolae’s grey-black cat, incongruously named Arnold, had accompanied them from the moment he’d stepped into the new airplane.

    The cat seemed to either purr adoringly at Nicolae, or benevolently ignore anybody else near him.

    But strangely, the cat seemed to dislike Rayford.

    Nicolae’s urbane voice broke in on Rayford’s uneasy thoughts. “Mr. Steele? Excuse me a moment. I think my cat requires a bathroom break.”

    Perfect politeness.

    Perfect gentility.

    Yet Rayford couldn’t shake the notion that the cat was relieved to be removed from his presence, and that Nicolae had smirked the briefest of smirks as he rose from the chair while holding his cat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    The Antichrist’s cat is black and named Ah-nold? YAAAAYY!!! Now I can die happy!