NRA: We’re back in the car again

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 95-107

Buck Williams’ wife, Chloe, is trapped in the crumpled wreck of his Range Rover somewhere off the side of Lake Shore Drive. Buck is “walking quickly” to her side.

He’s already run more than a mile, and now:

There was no running left in him, despite his fear that she might be bleeding or in shock.

“I’m in the strangest place,” she said, and he sensed her fading.

She babbles on for a bit, “dreamily,” sounding “as if she were about to fall asleep.” She drifts in and out of consciousness and occasionally Buck hears “her groan painfully.” And he walks on. Briskly.

One odd thing about this whole Buck-searching-for-Chloe sequence is what does not happen in any of this. Buck doesn’t pray.

Chloe is in the car and Buck is in the tree … so where is the dinosaur?

The heroes of these books often make a show of pious prayer. Readers were even made to endure a multi-page silent prayer session in Bruce’s office in which their spiritual — and literal — groaning was at once, like a poorly written sex scene, overly explicit and helplessly vague. Buck and Rayford frequently pause to pray for guidance or divine protection or wisdom before meeting with their boss, the Antichrist, or before undertaking some more mundane task.

Yet here Buck hasn’t got a prayer.

That’s odd to me, since these are exactly the sorts of situations in which I’m most inclined to pray. I think that’s true for most people who believe in God even in the vaguest sense. Trekking on foot through a smoldering city, with scenes of devastation all around, many of us would reflexively be offering up some variation of the “God help those poor bastards” prayer. If I were desperate to find my injured wife and had no idea which direction to turn, I’m sure I’d be blurting out some form of your basic “A little help here!” prayer. And once I’d found out where she was and heard her weak, fading voice over the phone, my every sentence to her — “Hold on, I’m coming!” — would be accompanied by a pleading demand of a prayer making the same urgent request/command.

(In such dire situations, I confess, my prayers tend to sound a bit like those of Pedro Cerrano in Major League — “I’m pissed off now, Jobu. Look, I go to you. I stick up for you. You don’t help me now, I say ‘F–k you, Jobu.’ I do it myself …” — but these are still prayers. The book of Psalms, by the way, is filled with prayers very much like Cerrano’s.)

After that bit quoted above, with Buck having “no running left in him” even as “he sensed her fading,” I really expected the next lines to be Buck praying the beloved words of Isaiah 40:31 — “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint” —  and then for him to feel suddenly energized, sprinting to Chloe’s side as though on eagle’s wings.

Such a direct, instantaneous answer to prayer might not seem realistic, but it would be more realistic than the idea that Buck Williams, a real, true evangelical Christian, would be in this situation without praying such a prayer.

So from page 96 through page 99 we get a phone conversation between Buck and a dazed, groggy Chloe in which she describes her predicament. And then on pages 102 and 103, Buck arrives and describes the same situation in much the same words.

Repetition, alas, does not provide clarity. Buck’s Adventure With the Range Rover and the Tree, which unfolds over the next several pages, depends on readers being able to picture this scene quite precisely, and Jerry Jenkins doesn’t give us much to go on.

We should give Jenkins points here for degree-of-difficulty. This sort of scene is not easy to pull off. It’s a kind of writing that almost requires one to story-board out the sequence as though you were preparing to film it. Unless the writer has a perfectly clear image of the scene in mind, there’s no way we readers will be able to get a clear picture of it in ours.

The Range Rover was lodged between the trunk and lower branches of a large tree and the concrete abutment. “Turn those lights off, hon!” Buck called out. “Let’s not draw attention to ourselves now.”

That bit about the lights and an upcoming little bit about Buck using a flashlight are the first indications we have that it’s nighttime. Maybe I missed some earlier clue, but it wasn’t until I got to the flashlight that I realized that Buck has been running/walking around in the dark this whole time.

Buck doesn’t want to draw the attention of rescue personnel for the same reason he was so evasive when speaking with them earlier. Readers are apparently supposed to understand what this reason might be, but I don’t. It seems to me that the attention of police, firefighters or EMTs is exactly what Chloe needs just now.

I suppose Buck’s reasoning is that all such emergency responders now work for the one-world government of the Global Community, and thus they are all in a sense in the employ of the Antichrist. But Buck is too. It also may be that he’s worried that while rescuing his ailing wife, those emergency personnel might stumble across the print-outs from Bruce’s hard drive in the back of the SUV. You know how it is after the nuclear destruction of a city — cops are on the prowl for reams of email print-outs that they can skim in search of potentially troubling theology. Rather than risk that, Buck decides it’s better to deny his wife professional medical assistance. Better safe than sorry.

The next paragraph gives us a slightly better picture of the scene, but only slightly:

The wheels of the vehicle pressed almost flat against the wall, and Buck was amazed that the tree could sustain the weight. Buck had to climb into the tree to look down through the driver’s-side window.

Here’s what I’ve got: The Range Rover is tilted onto its right side, with the passenger door facing the ground. The wheels of the SUV are touching a concrete wall of indeterminate height or purpose.

And there’s a tree. It’s large. Based on the apparent abundance of lower branches, I’m guessing it’s some kind of pine tree.

Is the passenger side of the SUV lying on the ground? Or is the vehicle suspended, somehow, in the branches of the tree? Maybe it’s tipped nearly onto its side, leaning partly against the “trunk and lower branches” of the tree? But no, the wheels are “almost flat against the wall,” and that would mean the side of the SUV is also almost flat against the ground, right? So in what way is the tree having to “sustain the weight”?

Chloe’s position is a bit clearer. She “seemed to be dangling from the seat belt” of the driver’s seat. The driver’s side window is facing up, but it’s closed. So we get half a page of Chloe painfully squirming to turn the ignition on so that she can open the window. (Those of us driving no-option, no-extras models with dependable manual windows are excused for feeling a little smug here.)

“Can you unlatch your seat belt without hurting yourself?”

“I’ll try, Buck, but I hurt all over. I’m not sure what’s broken and what isn’t.”

“Try to brace yourself somehow and get loose of that thing. Then you can stand on the passenger’s-side window and lower this one.”

Our image of the SUV comes a bit more into focus — flat on the ground on its right side. And I guess the roof of the car is pressed up against the tree somehow.

Chloe can’t get out of the seatbelt, but she does manage to get her window open.

Buck reached down with both hands to try to support her. “I was so worried about you,” he said.

“I was worried about me too,” Chloe said. “I think I took all the damage to my left side. I think my ankle’s broken, my wrist is sprained, and I feel pain in my left knee and shoulder.”

… “You’re not bleeding anywhere?”

“I don’t think so.”

“I hope you’re not bleeding internally.”

“Buck, I’m sure I’d be long gone by now if I were bleeding internally.”

“So you’re basically all right if I can get you out of there.”

Yeah, she’s fine.

This next bit I can actually picture, except for how the tree fits in:

Buck lay across the side of the nearly upended Range Rover and reached way down in to put one forearm under Chloe’s right arm and grab her waistband at the back with the other. He lifted as she pushed the seat belt button. She was petite, but with no foundation or way to brace himself it was all Buck could do to keep from dropping her. She moved her feet out from under the dashboard and stood gingerly. Her feet were on the passenger’s-side door, and her head now was near the steering wheel.

Apart from wondering how Buck grabs something with his forearm, I followed most of that. The SUV is lying on its right side. Buck is lying atop its left side. Still not sure about the tree, or how “nearly upended” is meant to describe “flat on its side,” but I think I know where Buck and Chloe are at this point.

Chloe begs for help getting out of the SUV she’s been trapped in for the last several hours:

“I really want out of here in a bad way, Buck. Can we get that door open, and can you help me climb?”

Buck responds to this direct request with some ill-advised banter:

“I just have one question for you first. Is this how our married life is going to be? I’m going to buy you expensive cars, and you’re going to ruin them the first day?”

“Normally that would be funny –”


And then Buck shows he wasn’t entirely kidding, because instead of opening the door and helping her climb out, he asks Chloe to give him the flashlight from the glove compartment so he can inspect the damage to his precious.

He looked all around the vehicle. The tires were still good. There was some damage to the front grille, but nothing substantial. He turned off the flashlight and slid it into his pocket. With much groaning and whimpering, Chloe came climbing out of the car, with Buck’s help.

As they both sat on the upturned driver’s side, Buck felt the heavy machine moving in its precarious position.

For just a second there I was sure I had a clear picture of the scene. The car is lying flat on its right side, Buck and Chloe are sitting on top of it. But no, that can’t be right, because it’s position must be “precarious,” and a boxy Range Rover lying on its side isn’t going to be “moving in its precarious position.”

Chloe decides its easier to “go two feet up to the top of the abutment” than to climb down from the top/side of the car, so I mentally readjust the height of said abutment, still wondering what it is that it’s abutting, while Buck gives Chloe a boost up onto the top of the wall — wherever that may be and whatever might be up there.

And here I completely lose track of Jenkins’ storyboard:

When she made the last thrust with her good leg, the Range Rover shifted just enough to loosen itself from the wickedly bent tree branches. The tree and the Range Rover shuddered and began to move. “Buck! Get out of there! You’re going to be crushed!”

Buck was spread-eagled on the side of the Range Rover that had been facing up. Now it was shifting toward the abutment, the tires scraping and leaving huge marks on the concrete. The more Buck tried to move, the faster the vehicle shifted, and he realized he had to stay clear of that wall to survive. He grabbed the luggage rack as it moved toward him and pulled himself to the actual top of the Range Rover. Branches snapped free from under the vehicle and smacked him in the head, scraping across the car. The more the car moved, the more it seemed to want to move, and to Buck that was good news — provided he could keep from falling. First the car moved, then the tree moved, then both seemed to readjust themselves at once. …

And, like Buck, I’m struggling to readjust as well to my ever-shifting attempt to picture what’s going on here.

… Buck guessed that the Range Rover, once free of the pressure from the branches, had about three feet to drop to the ground. He only hoped it would land flat. It didn’t.

The car was suspended off the ground? That’s something Jenkins might have mentioned earlier.

The heavy vehicle, left tires pressed against the concrete and several deeply bowed branches pushing it from the right side, began slipping to the right. Buck buried his head in his hands to avoid the springing out of those branches as the Range Rover fell clear of them. They nearly knocked him into the wall again. Once the Range Rover was free of the pressure of the branches, it lurched down onto its right side tires and nearly toppled. Had it rolled that way, it would have crushed him into the tree. But as soon as those tires hit the ground, the whole thing bounced and lurched, and the left tires landed just free of the concrete. The momentum made the left side of the vehicle smash into the concrete, and finally it came to rest. Less than an inch separated the vehicle from the wall now, but there the thing sat on uneven ground.

I’m willing to give Jenkins the benefit of the doubt here and guess that repeated close and slow readings of this scene might yield some coherent sequence of physical events. I’d bet that if we gave him a half hour, some graph paper, a white board and some miniature models, he could walk us through all of that and show us what he was imagining in a way that made sense.

Or maybe not. But even if I don’t understand how we wound up here, I think I understand this part:

Except for the damage to the front grille and the scrapes on both sides, one from concrete and one from tree branches, the car looked little the worse for wear.

And it still runs. Buck climbs in and slides behind the wheel … but, oh no! — now the SUV is trapped in a rut. The adventure continues:

The Rover was in automatic and four-wheel drive. When he tried to go forward it seemed he was in a rut. He quickly switched to stick shift and all-wheel drive, gunned the engine, and popped the clutch. Within seconds he was free of the tree and out onto the sand.

And readers, too, are back on familiar ground as Jenkins settles back into the Cliff-Claven-esque narration we’ve come to expect. (“Ya see, dere, Sammy. When you get stuck like that, whatcha need ta do is switch to stick-shift and all-wheel drive, then pop the clutch. Works like a chahm …”)

The top of the abutment turns out to be an overpass. Like the Range Rover, Lake Shore Drive, the (pine?) tree, and the rest of Chicago, the overpass is “little the worse for wear” after the nuclear bombs, so Buck drives up onto it and helps get Chloe back in  the car.

He fastened her seat belt and was on the phone before he got back into the car.

Of course he was, but here he has a good reason — calling Loretta to “call around and find any doctor in the church” to tend to Chloe once they arrive.

Buck tried to drive carefully so as not to exacerbate Chloe’s pain. However, he knew the shortest way home. When he got to the huge barrier at Michigan Avenue on the LSD, he swung left and …

Yeah, ya see dere, Norm, the most direct route isn’t always the shortest. Now to someone who doesn’t know the area as well as I do, it might seem like you’d want to swing right there, but …

And on like that, for half a page more. It’s almost, but not quite, as thrilling as reading directions from Google Maps.


"Those too, I suppose."

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  • P J Evans

     That’s a really small poll you have there. At that size, it’s worth about as much as the paper it’s printed on.

  • Trixie_Belden

    With much groaning and whimpering, Chloe came climbing out of the car, with Buck’s help.

    I guess it’s just another example of Jenkins’s terrible writing, but I find the  phrase”with much” quite jarring in this context.   Putting “With much”  at the start of that sentence gives it a faintly contemptuous ring.  As in:  “With much groaning and whimpering, Jerry put a band-aid over his paper cut.”  It’s the way you would write when a character is making a big deal out of a little injury.  Chloe has just been in fairly serious car accident, no?  Her ankle hurts enough so that she thinks it may be broken.  I’ve never yet broken a bone by accident, but from my experiences with bones being repositioned due to corrective oral surgery, I can say I’m quite sure that broken bones must be very painful.  They would probably make that entire area of your body ache with an intensity that blots everything else out of your mind 

    I suspect it was written that way due to a reflexive contempt for females. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Apropos of nothing, just yesterday I found out that the “Dan” in Dan Quayle is short for “Danforth”. So I was apparently wrong to mock Rayford for having a name so ridiculous it couldn’t be real, and I shall now picture Dan Quayle in all of Ray’s scenes.

  • caryjamesbond

    Like everyone else, I’m rewriting this scene in my head and..

    why not just flip the fucking car?  Bomb hits, wheel runs up the concrete embankment, car flips. Chloe can get pretty much the same injuries, plus they would realistically keep her trapped (injured wrist would make it very tricky to pop the belt and catch yourself before hitting your head) the flow of blood to her head makes her woozy…

    above all-easy to freakin’ visualize.  Car. Car upside down.  Done. 

  • It would have just been easier and made ten times more sense if Jenkins had gone for the standard “stalled on the side of the road / semi-drivable / driver injured for some reason” trope that’s part and parcel of literature and movies and TV shows all over. It’s not hella flashy or cool-tastic, but it’s serviceable and the reader can picture it, which would have freed Jenkins to describe Buck’s worry and fear for Chloe.

    It takes some kind of sheer anti-Midas talent to take scenes and make shite of them.

  • And also, Carpathia opens a portal in space and summons forth a horde of demon locusts that are bearing down on Buck and Chloe as he’s struggling to free her…

  • Lori

    Well, 46% of 57 is not a significant number in a country with 300+ million people.

    If we assume that 46% of everyone who bought or was given a copy felt the same way as the 57 people who voted then we’re getting to a depressing number, but I don’t think we have enough information to make that assumption.

  • Lori

    Apropos of nothing, just yesterday I found out that the “Dan” in Dan
    Quayle is short for “Danforth”. So I was apparently wrong to mock
    Rayford for having a name so ridiculous it couldn’t be real, and I shall
    now picture Dan Quayle in all of Ray’s scenes.

    In fairness to Dan Quayle (words I never thought I’d use and hope never to use again), his first name is James. Danforth is his middle name. I assume Danforth was a family name, although I don’t know that for sure.

    ETA: I assume he didn’t go by James or Jim because that’s also his father’s name (although Dan is not a Jr or III, even though some people think he is) and using Dan was disambiguation.

  • “Normally that would be funny –”

    In what universe?

  • Someguy who hates pants

    Chloe’s injuries.
       How can she tell her wrist is only sprained but know her ankle is broken? Her knee and shoulder hurt but she doesn’t   guess if they are broken or sprained or even just bruised.  How can she stand and walk on her”broken ankle” one of the rules to decide if an ankle needs xrays to determine if it is broken is the patient’s ability to bear weight, if you can walk 4 steps no xrays in many Emergency departments. Now if she is just thinking her ankle is broken I can forgive her walking around, however I bet her self diagnosis while sitting in a dark car will be spot on.  If her ankle is broken and she keeps walking on it, it will just make it worse.

        How did she break her ankle if she was seat belted in and and the car is driveable?  For an ankle to break you either need force directly applied to the bones or a strong twisting force.  Being belted in she would have been moving the same way as the car, so no twisting force.  For force to the bone if the floorboards or door or something wasn’t driven into the ankle where did the force come from. If she wasn’t seat-belted in I could see how she could have been bracing herself and been injured that way, but as written it doesn’t make sense.

    Buck’s Driving
    Buck popping the clutch(on an automatic, nice) is stupid.  When stuck isn’t rocking the vehicle the perfered way to gain momentum and work yourself free.  If you are spinning your tires popping the clutch will just make you break  traction and spin all the more. If you need more power wouldn’t it be better to give it gas in a steady fashion instead of hitting the gas all at once?  Sudden burst of energy by popping the clutch or just flooring it can damage the transmission or the powertrain.  Especially vexing in that this is a car that has just been in an accident and the suspension and drive train have already been through the original accident and whatever else happened to get it out of the tree.  Buck looks at the tires but does he crawl under the Rover and just look to make sure everything just looks alright. Speaking of checking the car has damage to the grill, that thing right in front of the radiator, and no mention of Buck checking on the radiatior. 
    Maybe Buck could have put something under the wheels for traction or jacked up the car and pushed the car sideways off the jack to move the car. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    If her foot’s bent wrong, it’s probably safe to assume something important broke.

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    I’ve passed out exactly three times in my life. Once after a long illness. Twice after breaking bones. I had to endure an entire night without pain killers for the second bone (my wrist), and the pain was severe enough that sleep was impossible.

    So yeah, pretty painful.

  • P J Evans

     I broke (or at least cracked) a rib or two once. It hurt to laugh. Or sneeze. Or cough. Ached for two months while healing. (They can’t do much for broken ribs.)

  • WalterC

    She can make fun of his crappy jokes after he’s freed her from the Range Rover.

    If Buck is anything like Rayford, all it takes is even the slightest hint of mockery or disrespect to get him to abandon someone to their fate,

  • Trixie_Belden

    Yes, that’s what I thought.  And now that I’m thinking about it again, the use of the word “whimpering” nags at me as well.  It’s not that the word choice is wrong precisely – whimpering is exactly what you do in that kind of pain – but it’s a word that’s so often used in reference to animals and children that using it here seems suspect, and it adds to the underlying feeling of contempt

  • Cathy W

    …now that you mention it, has there ever been a transmission you could switch between automatic and manual? If such a thing existed, it doesn’t look like Range Rovers ever came with one as an option.

  • hidden_urchin

    Yeah, that’s why Buck takes the time to check the Range Rover for damage.  It doesn’t mock him for his stupidity or distract him with trivial things like broken bones and pain.

  • The way people like Jenkins tend to describe or refer to women I suspect “whimpering” is an automatic infantilization (similar to calling grown women “girls”) that L&J wouldn’t even realize they did if it jumped up and biffed them in the face.

  • The 2000s Mazda passenger cars, some of them have a kind of manualish transmission? Like, you can shift gears up and down but you don’t need a clutch.

    I guess maybe if Buck wants to feel ~manly~ he could put the Rover in that kind of a mode, but then there wouldn’t need to be a clutch for that.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Yes, I think you’ve got it exactly right.  My guess as to what would have had to happen is this:  For some reason the car became airborne as Chloe was speeding along (was it a shock wave from the bomb?), tilting over to the right as it flew off towards the side of the road.  The car was flying  high enough to sail over the wall, or the abutment, on the side of the road and it lands on its right side in the strong branches of  what would have to be a large tree (I think Fred is right in guessing it must be some kind of evergreen) standing several feet from the road.  So the wheels are up against the concrete abutment and the top of the car is close to the tree trunk.

    That’s a lot of work  the hive mind had to do to make sense of one scene.

  • I’m reading a Nero Wolfe book (Please Pass the Guilt) and a line struck me as relevant to today’s dozen pages. It’s while Wolfe is stumped on the case:

    If what I was after was merely to fill pages, it would be easy to add a dozen or so with the next couple of days

    (for those of you unfamiliar with the series, they’re told in first-person POV by Wolfe’s assistant Archie Goodwin, who knows when to edit out the boring stuff :) )

  •  I’m still a little confused about the issue of the car falling out of a tree and landing onto a concrete surface. Is this tree growing out of the concrete, or is it growing on an open-earth area beside the concrete surface? This probably isn’t an author mistake, but I still can’t even visualize what’s going on after Buck frees the car from the tree.

  • Trixie_Belden

    My best guess is the tree is growing on a patch of (sandy?) land beside the roadway, several feet away from the abutment at the side of the road.  I still don’t see how Buck was able to drive back up onto the road so easily. If there was a concrete wall at the side of the road, and that road is an overpass, and the car sailed over the abutment at the side of the road and into the tree and dropped slowly to the ground, Buck would be at least six or so feet below the surface of the roadway, with a straight sided concrete wall  to one side of the car, and the road surface would be over the top of that wall.  He would have to drive on the dirt alongside the road for quite a distance until the grading leveled off.  

  • Tybult

    The picture I get is that Chloe was driving along on a road that’s elevated above the landscape. She slid off during the chase (perhaps going through a guardrail but Ellenjay never mention that).
    The car was caught between the tree and the concrete abutment, but wedged so that it doesn’t touch the ground, and its right side is down.
    But then this:
    The heavy vehicle, left tires pressed against the concrete and several
    deeply bowed branches pushing it from the right side, began slipping to
    the right.

    I have no idea how that works – the tree would have to be to the right to get the car wedged against the concrete to the left.

    And I have no idea how the car got there without any damage.

    And what if the car had been damaged? I see it like this:

    Chloe climbed out and stood off to the side. Buck began inspecting the car. Suddenly, he dropped to his knees and wailed.
    “What?” Chloe asked. “I’m fine.”
    Buck lifted his fists to the sky. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
    “Buck, I’m right here. It’s okay.”
    “Not my baby!” Buck screamed. “Not my baby!” He broke down into sobs, and leaned over to place his palm against the cracked transmission housing.

  • Tybult

     He should have included the Velociraptors.  This story would be greatly improved by the addition of Velociraptors.

    “Tell me, Mr. Steele,” Nicolae said, “do members of your particular sect believe in the dinosaurs?”
    “I’m sorry?” Rayford choked out.
    “It’s a minor matter, really, a point of contention among my PsyOp experts. In any case, allow me to introduce my Heavy Utahraptor Cavalry.”
    He gestured towards the hangar doors that were even now opening.
    “They should be most effective against Jesus’ First Triceratops Battalion,” Carpathia said.

    (You’re right, that makes a much more interesting story.)

  • Turcano

    You have clearly never seen The Gods Must Be Crazy.

  • Carstonio

    True. My point was that Buck’s lack of prayer in the situation would make sense if he were a realistic character and not a Jenkins stand-in. What you describe is one of LB’s massive failures of verisimilitude. All of the existing RTCs were gone so Buck and Rayford and the others wouldn’t have been able to pick up on those quirks, or to act like they had been raised in that environment. They’re recreating an evangelical church almost from scratch. Ellanjay could just as easily made these folks apostates or rebels who had grown up in that type of church but abandoned it in adulthood, and are now returning to it.

  • GeniusLemur

     Conan Doyle has a good trick for situations like this. Whenever there’s a lot of record-examining drudgery to do, Holmes goes off and does it, comes back, and summarizes the results for Watson.

  • GeniusLemur

     Well, to be fair, I can’t see the target audience for this stuff getting worked up about the fate of a mere woman.

  • Mrs Grimble

    What strikes me about this scene is that Buck never checks Chloe over
    for injuries when he gets her out.  Does he even say something like “Can
    you walk?” or “How’s your head?” or “Are you OK on your own while I
    drive around to you?”
    A month ago, I had a bad fall on on the
    doorstep and hit my shinbone on the edge of the step very hard, just
    below the kneecap.  It damm well HURT; I was swearing my head off for a
    good ten minutes.  Luckily, the bone didn’t break – I could still put
    weight on it.  But it hurt really badly, like I said, and it immediately
    swelled up to a quite magnificent size (it’s still a little swollen).
    husband was with me; normally, he cracks jokes about anything.  But it
    was only a good hour later, when he’d seen me swallow some high-strength
    painkillers, that he dared to make a lame remark about how I needed better glasses. At the time, when he was helping me up checking me over and making me comfortable, he was far too worried and anxious for jokes.

  • DorothyD

    A month ago, I had a bad fall on on the doorstep and hit my shinbone on the edge of the step very hard, just below the kneecap.

    Ouch. I hope it’s all better now.

    At the time, when he was helping me up checking me over and making me comfortable, he was far too worried and anxious for jokes.

    It’s not just about the physical injury, it’s about the the psychological distress of a bad fall and injury or, y’know, having your car blown off the road and into a tree by a nuclear blast and then hanging there sideways for a few hours. 

    A story my husband tells – once on
    his daily commute he saw a pickup truck come flying off an overpass and
    land nose-first on the pavement a few hundred yards ahead of him.
    Probably it had hit a snow bank and gotten launched up over the bridge
    railing. He was the first person to reach to truck and was fully
    expecting to see blood and carnage what from the way the woman inside
    was screaming. The truck was totaled, the driver had… a broken

    Yay for airbags and I hope she didn’t end up with PTSD because seriously…

    But yeah it’s difficult to figure how the Rover could have been blown
    over the railing and into a tree without sustaining any damage while
    Chloe is injured badly enough that she can’t climb out on her own.

    Also, how does Buck inspect the car if it’s up in a tree??

  • Wait a minute.  Chloe was in the middle of a car chase when the car went into the tree, wasn’t she?  What happened to the police car?  

  • They’re probably like the monsters in video games with bad AI–the second they lose sight of you, they forget you exist.

  • Sometimes a joking attitude can be helpful in an emergency situation.  You want to keep the other person and yourself from panic, so you put on a “it’s no big deal” face, something that EMT’s usually do.

    The thing is, in a written work you have to explain that’s what Buck is trying to do, otherwise the reader will interpret as a genuine “don’t give a damn” attitude.  Same thing with inspecting the car.  He -could- be seeing if it’s still drivable, so they can get the hell out of Dodge, but you have to tell the reader that, otherwise you look like a jerk.

  • hidden_urchin

    The weird thing is that even a relatively minor injury can cause psychological distress even in the absence of something truly terrifying like having your car impersonate an airplane.

    This past summer I broke my toe and thought I was either going to throw up, faint, or both because the experience was so unsettling even though the pain, relatively speaking, wasn’t that bad.  I had to lie down for a good half hour before I felt like I could stand without falling over.
    Did my mother come check on me, even though she had been standing right next to me when it happened and saw me run for the bathroom while swaying like a drunken sailor? 
    Nope.  She was, wait for it, on the phone.

    I find it hilarious now.  At the time, not so much. 

  • I want to see more this.

  • depizan

    The fact that Rovers are generous inside just makes her getting injured even more unlikely. Cars are big metal boxes that protect people. You get hurt in an accident either because they get squished into you or you (not belted in) get squished into them. If the left side of the car is merely scraped, how did Chloe get injured?

    I suddenly suspect that the authors have never been in car accidents. Or known anyone who has. A friend of mine was driving a modern normal sized sedan that was T-boned on the driver’s side. The car was totaled. She ended up with a few bruises and a temporary aversion to similar intersections. Chloe shouldn’t have worse than seatbelt bruises.

  • Greenygal

    Same thing with inspecting the car.  He -could- be seeing if it’s
    still drivable, so they can get the hell out of Dodge, but you have to
    tell the reader that, otherwise you look like a jerk.

    Not just the reader–he needs to tell Chloe that.  One of the reasons that joke comes off so amazingly badly is that Buck isn’t joking as he helps Chloe, he’s explicitly joking instead of helping Chloe.  If there’s a reason he can’t immediately help his injured wife out of the car when she asks him to, he needs to tell her that.  Softening it with a joke would be fine, replacing it with a joke really isn’t.

  • quietglow

     The confusing thing is how the Land Rover fell sideways onto a tree
    (assuming pine, as Fred does) without structural damage. The frame might
    be bent when it fell five feet sideways onto a tree trunk. You’d think
    the roof would be bent in and the windows broken, with the safety glass
    spidered where it wasn’t gone. Flipping and landing would have knocked
    things around more. How did it just damage the front grille? 

  • Tricksterson

    And make the dinosaurs cyborgs.

  • I was once cycling up to a junction (a roundabout). There was a car stopped in front of me, waiting in a queue. On a bike, you can skip that sort of queue, but I generally prefer not to. I’ll stay in the road and move with the traffic. So I was in the middle of the lane, slowing down, ready to come to a stop behind this car. But you can’t change gear on a stationary bike, so I was fiddling with the gears trying to get them down before I stopped, misjudged my distance, and bashed into the back of the car. Slowly. No damage of any sort was done to anyone or anything.

    I was still shaken enough (by my own silliness, really), that I walked the rest of that journey.

    I can well imagine that a more serious accident could lead to a fair bit of trauma. But I think I almost prefer EllenJay to ignore that sort of trauma than to make a ham-fisted attempt at portraying it.


  • Mrs Grimble

    Rereading the post, I was struck by the fact that the first thing Buck says when he sees hi injured wife stuck in the car is “Turn off the lights!”  OK, I can get that he’s worried about being seen, so he doesn’t straightaway ask her how she is.  But why didn’t he already know about the headlights being on?  He and Chloe were continually on the phone to each other – didn’t she think to tell him “You should be seeing me soon, I’ve got the headlights on” ?
    It only makes sense if you know the authors never go back and edit their stuff, but just sit at the keyboards for a couple of hours each day of non-stop writing and then fling the results at their publisher.  L Ron Hubbard used to write his stories the same way; according to his first wife he never  edited or rewrote a thing.  The differences between Hubbard and Ellenjay are
     a) Hubbard was actually pretty good at writing stories that way (not that results were terrifically good, but if you read them, you’re never likely to complain  about 12-page phone calls holding up the action);
     and b) unlike Ellenjay, he was writing for a living, getting paid a penny a word so he needed to churn the stuff out fast.

  • Rereading the post, I was struck by the fact that the first thing Buck says when he sees hi injured wife stuck in the car is “Turn off the lights!” OK, I can get that he’s worried about being seen, so he doesn’t straightaway ask her how she is.

    I’m not sure I actually do understand this.  Even leaving aside the fact that it’s stupid for Buck not to want Chloe to have the best emergency care, bombs have just beem dropped on the city and Chloe’s accident has to be only one of thousands.  It’s a freaking war zone out there, after all.

  • banancat

    Buck inspecting the car seems to me like a failure of narrator POV. I don’t think these books ever use an omniscient POV so the only way for the audience to know that the car is likely drivable is for Buck to know. Why the authors want to decrease suspense and assure us that the car is fine in the first place is a completely different matter of bad writing.

  • Hell, it could have been written into the story, as sketched:

    – Buck finds Chloe; she may have a concussion but as far as he can tell she has no broken bones.

    – He carefully gets into the truck and eases Chloe gently into the passenger seat.

    – He starts the car, hears a worrisome grinding/growling sound and THEN wonders “is it drivable?”

    – Deciding there’s nothing but to try and get it on the road, he punches the gas, rocketing the truck out of the ditch and it shudders down the road as he trundles at 20 MPH to get out of the disaster zone.

  • Trixie_Belden

    I think the answer is Jenkins, as the deity of theses characters, has contrived for a miraculous event to occur: the car goes off the road and falls, not onto the tree trunk but into the space between the abutment wall and the tree trunk, with strong tree branches stretching out between the tree trunk and the concrete wall and acting as a sort of perfect net, and, if that isn’t miraculous enough for you, the branches then slowly give way and lower the car, twisting it upright as the car is lowered to the ground, just like it was in a hoist.   Yeah, I know.  Pretty contrived.

  • quietglow

    So Jesus has made another appearance, just as a tree.

  • P J Evans

     Probably about 5 feet,or a little less, at the side windows. The widest part of the car exterior seems to be at head-and-taillight level, and it’s about a foot narrower at the roofline. Figure another foot for wall thickness.

  • P J Evans

    Chloe shouldn’t have worse than seatbelt bruises.

    If she got thrown in the right direction, she could hit something like a lever on the center console. (Broken ribs and nasty bruises.) Not to mention that flipping over tends to throw you around.

  • depizan

     This is where the writing fails us horribly.  We’re left – as the audience – trying to figure out how Chloe got the injuries suggested while buckled into a seat in a car that has a scratched paint job.  They aren’t _impossible_.  Certainly weird shit happens in real car accidents.  But fictional car accidents have to make more sense than real ones, not less.

    First there’s the unclear accident itself.  How _did_ the car get where it ended up?  Did she drive off the road when the bomb went off?  Did the shockwave throw the car there?  Aliens? (That would explain the missing police.  Abducted.)

    Then we have all of Chloe’s injuries being on her left side, as if she were thrown against the door (I guess?) at somepoint in the accident, but I’m not sure the directions of force would be right, what with the car ending up with the other side down.  (Unless it’s meant to have rolled somewhere in there?)

    Then the car is so wide that a 5’7 tall person needs all kinds of help getting out of it.  (Which would make it less likely that obstructions would be close enough to the driver for them to bang into as long as the car stayed intact.)

    Then the car only has scratches.

    I don’t know.  It just really bothers me that she has injuries sufficient to keep her from getting herself out of the car (possibly including a broken ankle) and the car has… scratches.  I dislike this both because it seems improbable, and because it seems like the author, like Buck, thinks the car is a more important character.