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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Tybult

     You just broke my brain.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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

  • 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 article about how brutal a murderer Batman is. Why, here it is now:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • PatBannon

    Very well adapted. Good show.

  • Tricksterson

    So he’s a fundamentalist worshiper of Caffeina?

  • 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.

  • 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

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

  • 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.

  • 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.  

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.


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

  • 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.

  • P J Evans

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

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

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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. 

  • 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).

  • 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. 

  • 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.  

  •   (42 cups of pure black ambrosia)

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

  • Tricksterson

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

  • Tricksterson

    Or the Mentor

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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?

  • 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

     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!”

  • 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.

  • Tricksterson

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