NRA: Cater to their feelings

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 120-122

First, a quick reminder that Buck Williams is a jerk:

It was nearly time for Buck to head for Palwaukee Airport. Verna Zee was back at the Global Community Weekly office with the new (to her) used car Buck had promised to buy her from the fleet of leftovers from New Hope.

Verna, you’ll remember, had graciously loaned Buck her car so that he could go to look for Chloe after the bombs fell.

He abused it, blowing a tire, and then abandoned it. He’d promised Verna to replace it with “a better car,” and, apparently, has fulfilled that promise as minimally as possible.

A few chapters back Buck bought a car for himself. He used his Global Weekly credit card to buy a $100,000 Range Rover even though it was for personal use, not for work. (Buck stopped doing work in the last book, although he still collects his salary.) But he won’t use the company credit card to replace the car he took from his employee. She’ll have to make do with one of the Rapture-surplus cars Loretta had collected at New Hope.

I’m sure Loretta and Donny Moore gave Buck a competitive price for the car — just like with the laptops. I’m picturing them in the church office, counting the money, as Donny asks, “Do you think Buck will ever realize we just sold him Irene Steele’s car?”

Loretta, we’re told, “was at the church office fielding the constant phone calls about Sunday’s memorial service.”

And here’s how I imagine those calls going:

“No, it’s just for Bruce. Only Bruce. … Yes, I realize that our church lost dozens of members in the bombing, and millions more are dead all over the country, but … no, no, you’re right. You’re absolutely right, but it’s not up to me. … Buck Williams planned it. … Exactly, yes. …”

Chloe hobbled around on a cane, needing crutches but unable to manage them with her sprained wrist in a sling. That left Amanda to take Buck to the airport.

“I want to ride along,” Chloe said.

“Are you sure you’re up to it, hon?” Buck said.

Chloe’s voice was quavery. “Buck, I hate to say it, but in this day and age we never know when we might or might not ever see each other again.”

“You’re being a little maudlin, aren’t you?” he said.

The last time Chloe left the house she was badly injured in a car wreck due to a nuclear bomb. She also knows, for a fact, that the second, third and fourth seals of divine wrath are being poured out on the world, meaning that “a fourth of the world” will be dead in the weeks to come. So rather than seeming maudlin, her comment seems appropriate.

But the authors have to treat this like a “quavery” bit of overly emotional thinking on her part because that will allow Buck to callously dismiss her feelings, after which the authors, through Amanda, can deliver yet another Lesson in Christian Marriage.

That’s the point here, with this lesson meant to be some Mars-Venus business about men being too practical and unfeeling while women are overly emotional. The authors here are thus reminding good, godly husbands that they need to cater to the sensitivities of the weaker sex and pretend to be paying attention when their wives prattle on about their feelings. This is similar to the earlier Lesson in Christian Marriage in which godly husbands were urged to pretend to appreciate any “frilly,” feminine knick-knacks their wives have used to decorate the home.

That’s my summary, but look at what the authors have written here and judge for yourself if it’s accurate:

“You’re being a little maudlin, aren’t you?” he said.

“Buck!” Amanda said in a scolding tone. “You cater to her feelings now. I had to kiss my husband good-bye in front of the Antichrist. You think that gives me confidence about whether I’ll ever see him again?”

Buck was properly chastised.

The lesson here seems to be, roughly, “Husbands, cater to her feelings and make her think you’re really listening when your wife talks about … oh, you know … whatever it is that wives talk about when they talk about all that woman-ish stuff.” I can’t figure out whether the authors are simply unaware of the way their lesson on listening reveals that they don’t listen, or if this is actually meant to sound patronizing. I may think of “patronizing” as a bad thing, but I’m not sure the authors agree that it is. (If husbands are patrons, after all, why shouldn’t they be patronizing?)

After the lesson, Buck, Chloe and Amanda pile into the Range Rover — Buck driving, of course, because it’s his car and because penis — and head toward Palwaukee Airport.*

Buck was amazed that the built-in TV had survived Chloe’s crash. He was not in a position to see it, but he listened as Amanda and Chloe watched. Nicolae Carpathia, in his usual overly humble manner, was holding forth.

Nicolae Carpathia, we have just been told, usually comes across as “overly humble.” He seems like a fake, in other words, a condescending phony.

He is a fake, of course. He’s the Antichrist — a false messiah. But the thing about any decent false messiah is that he has to seem like the real deal. That’s the salient fact about actual phonies — they seem genuine.

I think part of the problem here is that the authors simply do not trust their readers to dislike Nicolae without making him utterly unlikeable. This despite the title of the book: Nicolae: Rise of the Antichrist. His rise, we are told, is due entirely to his charisma, his preternatural charm and superlative eloquence. Yet they’re afraid to allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.

Instead what we get is every bad writer’s favorite method of making one character seem smart: making everyone else seem stupid. Consider poor Chaim Rosenzweig. He’s supposed to be a genius, but he comes across as clueless and dimwitted, utterly fooled by Nicolae’s obvious fraudulence and “overly humble” phoniness.

In this scene it’s not just the foolish Rosenzweig who is fooled by Nicolae’s obvious pretense — it’s the entire world.

Jerry Jenkins’ provided himself with another way of handling this. Back in the first book of the series he went to great lengths to establish that the Antichrist has supernatural powers of mind control. I keep waiting for him to make use of that in scenes like this — to suggest that Nicolae is working his mojo on the whole world through this broadcast while only the redeemed, those who enjoy the magic of divine protection, can hear what’s really going on.

But Jenkins doesn’t do that here. Instead, he falls back into the trap he set for himself by insisting that Nicolae is the greatest orator and most convincing speaker of all time.

Again, don’t ever do this to yourself as a writer. Don’t ever give a key character any superlative skill that will at some point have to be demonstrated on the page. Robin Hood stories are fine — you can describe an arrow hitting its target without having to wield the bow yourself. But don’t try to tell readers about the world’s greatest poet, or the world’s funniest comedian, or the most compelling orator of all time, because eventually you’ll have to back that up by supplying the poetry, jokes or oratory that live up to such descriptions. And unless you are, yourself, the greatest poet, funniest comedian, or most compelling speechwriter in all the world, then you’re trapped.

Jenkins is trapped. He is not the greatest speechwriter in the world. He is, rather, a terrible writer of terrible speeches.

And instead of great, or good, or even adequate oratory from Nicolae, what Jenkins gives us instead is this:

“Make no mistake, my brothers and sisters, there will be many dark days ahead. It will take tremendous resources to begin the rebuilding process, but because of the generosity of the seven loyal global regions and with the support of those citizens in the other three areas who were loyal to the Global Community and not to the insurrectionists, we are amassing the largest relief fund in the history of mankind. This will be administered to needy nations from New Babylon and the Global Community headquarters under my personal supervision.”

So New Babylon, the capital of the one-world government established after all nations were abolished, is going to oversee the distribution of “relief funds” to the various nations that need them. What?

“With the chaos that has resulted from this most sinister and unwise rebellion, local efforts to rebuild and care for the displaced will likely be thwarted by opportunists and looters. The relief effort carried out under the auspices of the Global Community will be handled in a swift and generous way that will allow as many loyal members of the Global Community as possible to return to their prosperous standard of living.

“Continue to resist naysayers and insurrectionists. Continue to support the Global Community. And remember that though I did not seek this position, I accept it with gravity and with resolve to pour out my life in service to the brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind. I appreciate your support as we set about to sacrificially stand by each other and pull ourselves out of this morass and to a higher plane than any of us could reach without the help of the other.”

It’s difficult to imagine that banal, contentless speech uniting the entire world behind its beloved leader. I’m not sure I can imagine anyone listening to the whole thing without changing the channel.

Buck shook his head. “He sure tells ’em what they wanna hear, doesn’t he?”

Set aside that the meaningless pile of throat-clearing noises above is being presented to us as an example of superlative oratory. Focus, instead, on the idea that this speech is also the authors’ best attempt to convey an oily politician pandering to the masses and giving them exactly “what they wanna hear.”

Who, ever, in all the long history of human experience, has ever wanted to hear that? How are the masses being pandered to by that indecipherable puddle of rhetoric?

This echoes the problem we saw earlier with the Lesson in Christian Marriage. Husbands are instructed to seem like they’re listening to their wives when they say all that stuff they’re probably saying, whatever it is. And politicians are criticized for pandering to the masses for saying all that stuff the masses want to hear, like …  you know, whatever that stuff is that the people want.

The authors have no idea what it is “they wanna hear,” because they view ’em — the masses, the maddening crowd, the hoi polloi — the same way they view their wives: as alien, inscrutable and unknowable. As a different, and subordinate, species.

And thus it doesn’t occur to the authors that it’s actually very easy to portray a politician saying what everyone wants to hear. Just have him say what you want to hear. To portray a crafty Antichrist spinning words to deceive the entire world, have him say the kinds of things that would deceive you.

Sometimes the authors’ lack of empathy is due to a lack of imagination. But here — with their world as with their wives, with the masses as with the Mrs. — they avoid empathy because they regard it as impossible. Empathy works by remembering the ways that you’re just like everyone else, and the authors refuse to accept that they are.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* This is not a long trip. I looked it up. Palwaukee Airport is only about 7 miles from Mount Prospect.

Yes, they’ll be driving through a post-nuclear wasteland, but we’ve already seen that the roads are fine. The only after-effect of the nuclear attacks on Chicago’s highways seems to be that there’s less traffic than usual. And anyway that’s downtown, in Chicago itself. The city was attacked with nuclear weapons, not the suburbs. If things that happened in cities were in any way connected to life in the suburbs, then, why, suburban churches would have to change almost everything they’re doing. And that’s just silly.

Palwaukee Airport is a good 18 miles from downtown, so no problem there.

Oh, and Buck Williams is certainly the only person who decided to fly out of the smaller suburban airport after O’Hare was destroyed in the bombing. So no need to worry about crowds or a riotous mob-scene when they get there.

In real life, it’s not called “Palwaukee Airport” any more, by the way. It’s now “Chicago Executive Airport” — they changed the name about 10 years after Nicolae was written.

There may be a lesson there for anyone writing stories with a near-future setting. It’s probably best to avoid using the present-day names for any airports, stadiums, concert venues or convention halls. Those names are too likely to change, making your “future” seem oddly antiquated.

I’m not criticizing Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins for failing to foresee this name-change. It’s just a novel, after all, it’s not like the authors claim to be prophets or something. Oh, wait …

The fact that, 15 years after this book first came out, Palwaukee is now called “Chicago Executive” does not undermine the credibility of their prophecy. What does undermine their credibility as prophets is the fact that, 15 years later, the airport — and the rest of the world — is still here.

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  • Lori

     So true.

    My genuine, not just trying to put a good face on it, observation is that being married to the wrong person is really lousy and that most people are better off single than with the person they’d end up with by playing idiotic games.


    The thing about The Rules is that there are several of them that are things that make sense for perfectly normal, honest people. The fact
    that someone does those things doesn’t mean she’s doing anything weird
    or manipulative. Being busy, and therefore saying no to a relatively
    last minute invitation is a perfectly normal thing. Saying no to a
    Thursday request for a date because it’s after Wednesday, even though
    you aren’t busy and would otherwise have liked to go is dumb.

    Reminds me of Heartless Bitches International’s Manipulator Files: Red Flag List that purports to be a list of warning signs that someone is a manipulator or abuser.

    It contains some good general advice mixed in among bizarre judgments of healthy behavior or non-harmful quirks and some really horrific victim-blaming.

  • fraser

     Oh, is that the one that warns against guys who read comic books or dating people who’ve had abusive parents?


    Oh, is that the one that warns against guys who read comic books or dating people who’ve had abusive parents?

    That’s the one. Someone who calls their mother before making major life decisions is apparently just as much a potential manipulator/abuser as someone who tries to make you financially dependent on them.

  • CharityB

    Many cult groups generally dissuade members from discussing the cult with outsiders except in strictly-defined preapproved ways. This helps the cult cloister its members from the outside world (strengthening its control — if they’re afraid of everyone who isn’t a member) while at the same time stopping members from coming into contact with inconvenient truths about the cult.

  • And “sleeps constantly”? That’s a manipulator?

    I thought excessive sleep was considered a possible sign of metabolic disorder or clinical depression, which have nothing to do with emotional manipulation.

  • WalterC


    He’s just a dick who got a lot of power and likes to pretend he has some big plan.

    Yep. He’s not a character, he’s a plot device. Nicolae Carpathia serves the same function as the Rapture, or the star Wormwood, or any of the other Judgments. He has as much personality as any of the 10 Plagues of Egypt. He’s essentially a natural disaster that happens to be able to wear a suit.

    He makes so much more sense when you think of him like that.

  • Yep, and you should stay away from a guy who’s into history or television or comic books.  I mean, geez, who would want a guy with interests?  Ewwww…

  • Alicia

    Yeah, who would want a man with no apparent motives, desires, interests, or hobbies?

    I mean, besides Hattie Durham, Amanda White, and Chloe Steele? 

  • Good grief, some of that list is vile.

    For the record, I met my (wonderful) husband *because* he was into nerdy interests that I happened to share. But no, clearly I should have gone for a handsome face with no interests instead.

    And the victim blaming is just… wow. So just because you’ve been abused or had an otherwise sucky life, that means you should never have a chance to be in a relationship? I’m baffled.


    And “sleeps constantly”? That’s a manipulator?

    I thought excessive sleep was considered a possible sign of metabolic
    disorder or clinical depression, which have nothing to do with
    emotional manipulation.

    Oh no, according to HBI metabolic disorders and clinical depression are ALSO signs of emotional manipulation.


    For the record, I met my (wonderful) husband *because* he was into nerdy
    interests that I happened to share. But no, clearly I should have gone
    for a handsome face with no interests instead.

    Well, according to #10 someone with no hobbies is ALSO a manipulator. So a potential partner is safe only if their hobbies fall into a limited but unspecified range of interests.

  • In college I created the “makeup theory of grades” based on the fact that there were about 7 women in all my computer science classes. The 1 who slept late and skipped makeup got As, the few who wore some got Bs, and the ones who went all out got Cs.   I’m sure the small sample size had nothing to do with this. 

  • Tricksterson

    That wasn’t a “fall” it was an assassination attempt.

  • Ah, the Range Rover had AI, then? :P

  • Nora Roberts, Kay Hooper, Judith McWilliams, Kristine Grayson, Janet Evanovich, Linda Cajio … ok, my romances are dated, but they’re reprinting lots of Hooper’s and Evanovich’s early romances.

  • KevinC

    Grrr.  I’m really starting to hate this “Rule” that says nothing happens unless Raygun or Camshaft sees it (and it doesn’t reallyhappen until the one that sees it tells the other about it over the phone).  It’s like some kind of Schrodinger’s Universe that requires one or both of them to open the box.  As long as Camshaft doesn’t notice that there’s been a nuclear war, or a global crime wave, or Horsemen or Vials or Trumpets or Bowls, etc., then he and those close to him can inhabit a weird Normality Bubble and apparently spend the entire series hovering, Wile E. Coyote-style, over the abyss of the Apocalypse, safe to worry about First-World Problems like whether the TV in the Range Rover is still working or the reception on their Super-Awesome Gold-and-Diamond Plated Status Phones.  As long as Cam-Cam doesn’t look down. 

    Better authors could have used this to interesting effect by having, say, Amanda being disoriented and nervous around Buck, as if there’s something horribly wrong, but she just can’t place it, and then when she separates from him, suddenly ERMAHGERD–NUCLEAR WAR AND ZOMBIES AND MAD MAX BIKER GANGS!!!  Running frantically through a terrifying apocalyptic doomscape, only barely evading the forces of evil and savagery, she calls Cam-Cam to warn him, but it’s as if what she’s saying gets lost in translation somehow.  He caters to her feelings, tells her to find some nice quiet place to relax and unwind.  So she tries to get to him to warn him in person, but when she gets close enough, *thwooosh,* Oh dear, my hair is quite a mess, and would you look at these horrible stains on my clothes!  That one almost looks like blood!  Oh yes!  I have to warn Buck…about…

    But of course we’re not dealing with better authors.  So instead of being a useful, even interesting story device, the Rule forces Ellenjay to constantly reinforce Camshaft’s Normality Bubble because the Antichrist can’t really do something unless Camshaft can see it on TV or hear about it over the phone.  Which means that, no matter what, there still has to be TV and cell coverage.  And since nothing else can happen unless Camshaft can get there to see it, there has to be gas at the gas stations, cars in the car dealerships, private planes at the airports, and money (of which Buck, of course, has plenty) still has to work.  Otherwise, that little trip across the suburbs of post-nuclear Chicago would be a lot more like Sam and Frodo getting into Mordor, and casual flights to Israel to get a couple Bible quotes out of Moses and Elijah would be right out.

    Even if Raygun was not already fully-loaded with evil from the very start, the Rule would force him to be.  Since he’s leashed to the Antichrist and the Antichrist can’t be stopped, he can’t even try to do anything significant to oppose him beyond the occasional whoopee cushion and joy-buzzer handshake.    Again, better authors could have Ray eventually realize that Nicky Sangre de Christo can only do horrible things as long as he (and Buck) witness it.  So he calls Buck and says, “Buck!  TURN OFF YOUR TV!  Turn off your radio, don’t pay any attention to Nicolae Carpathia, OK?”  Then, he finds his first opportunity and makes a daring escape from the Antichrist’s clutches, pursued by Supreme Commander Leon and his goons.  Action, explosions, maybe a few bullet-holes in Ray’s precious flesh, but then, as he staggers those last few steps before collapsing, putting Nicky outside of his Schrodinger radius, *thwooosh!*  Nicky is just the Secretary General of the United Nations.  UN Chief of Security Leon Fortunato is wondering what he and his men are doing pointing guns at the guy in the pilot’s uniform, and the cops who have just showed up with sirens blaring are wondering the same thing.

    Or, Ellenjay could have just used the omniscient point of view.  By itself, that would have improved the books by at least one order of magnitude.  All of a sudden, Ray doesn’t have to be the Antichrist’s most trusted minion.  All of a sudden, it isn’t necessary to spend page after page explaining that the Range Rover’s TV is working, the cell phones have their full complement of bars, or how Buck got the Range Rover or the phones or the laptops or have him driving quiescently through the suburbs, because the events in the Middle East can still happen without him.  The Antichrist can make a speech that is heard by the people who aren’t in the middle of the nuclear war zone (and not necessarily by those inside it) because Buck doesn’t have to be the one to make both real simultaneously.  So Buck & Co. could have a much more exciting survival drama because they don’t also have to be inhabiting an unaffected area so that they can watch TV. 

    As a bonus, it becomes much easier to make the Antichrist a larger-than-life villain.  Without a camera-character having to watch him as he orders coffee, takes bathroom breaks, makes staffing decisions, adjusts his necktie, etc., etc., he’s never dragged down to a banal, human level.  Compare with Darth Vader in the original trilogy, or Voldemort in Harry Potter.  Distant, spooky, almost completely unknown to the audience and the characters until details slowly trickle in.  And when the villain does appear, there’s a moment of surprise and fear, because this towering force that’s been pulling the strings behind everything is suddenly there, in person.   Imagine how much more difficult it would have been for Lucas or Rowling, if Lando Calrissian had to be Darth Vader’s personal pilot and valet, or if Ron Weasley had been Voldemort’s adopted son, and each had to spend the entire series constantly in their respective villain’s presence, trying to be on the good guys’ side while the plot forbids either to Just Shoot Him.

    Instead, these books constantly torture the reader with massive cognitive dissonance between the Normality Bubbles around Camshaft and Raygun and the OMG! APOCALYPSE! that’s supposed to be happening outside.  On the other hand, their intended audience already has an astounding capacity for cognitive dissoance, so I guess that isn’t a problem.

  • KevinC

    One more thing: it’s only the Rule that makes the casual sexism of this week’s theme even possible.  It’s THE APOCALYPSE AND NUCLEAR WAR AND…we’re dispensing “Mars and Venus” marital advice?  Really?!  Even setting aside (with the requisite Herculean effort) that it’s awful, sexist advice, the very idea of it is only applicable to the comfy, workaday suburban normality that any apocalyptic story (whether it be zombies, robots, nuclear weapons, Mayan prophecies, or the Book of Revelation) is specifically designed to shatter and sweep away.

    The Rule is so grating in part because even Ellenjay’s patriarchal sexism could have been more sympathetic without it:

    “Cater to her feelings?!  Are you serious, Amanda?!  Look at her!  Do you see those bandages?  The cast?  The cane?  I didn’t have a bomb shelter built under our church so that we would never freaking use it!  Chloe is staying there because the last time I let the woman I love out of my sight she almost died and OK Chloe you’re coming with us get in.” 

  • KevinC

    Clarification: I don’t mean to say that having Ellenjay’s sexism be more sympathetic would be a good thing (more like “less terrible”).  Rather, that it’s possible to make a character who’s a dick and still have them be sympathetic enough that the readers don’t wish there was an eternal fiery Hell for them to go to.  And in the case of an actual good writer who wants the character to become a hero, have them grow and change and learn to not be a dick.  ‘Course, this is Ellenjay we’re talking about here, so the Fractal Awful is inescapable.

  • KevinC

    A quick fic:

    “International aviation rules prohibit me from flying again for 24 hours.”

    “Nonsense,” Fortunato said.  “How do you feel?”


    “Nevertheless, you’re the only one qualified to fly this plane, and you’ll be flying it when we say you’ll be flying it.”

    Rayford blinked at Leon, stunned for a moment by the sheer, pig-headed irrationality of the man’s words.  Here they were, in the middle of World War III, and this numbskull wanted GC-1 to fly straight into Middle Eastern airspace–almost within spitting distance of the last, well-armed, sovereign nation on Earth–with a pilot at the helm who would be struggling just to keep his eyes open.  Rayford tried.  Really tried, to hold his anger in, or maybe direct it toward some harmless outlet, like maybe a pissing contest with Leon.  But it was like some fissure cracking open inside him, seething fountains of orange-red magma bursting through a hard, brittle crust.

    Ray had taken this job because he’d been convinced that God had wanted him here.  He’d endured Nicolae’s sickening malevolence, watched helplessly while he murdered millions while he waited for the Holy Spirit’s leading, all in faith that he had been put here for a reason, that God would have some great good for him to do that would make it all worth it.  He’d waited on the Lord, not wanting to lash out in the flesh and miss his chance for God’s greater good.  But this one, last straw of random, stupid, pointless meanness detonated under the tower of his faith and patience, sending it all collapsing into its own footprint.  In that moment he could only feel one thing: pure, white-hot hatred for the man in front of him, only want one thing: to erase that cocky look from Fortunato’s face.  To erase him.


    Fortunato’s clothes slumped to the floor.  The Event?  It’s happening again?  How?

    “Ah, Rayford, Good to see you on your feet,” Nicolae’s smooth, ever-so-confident voice purred.  “I was looking for Mr. Fortunato.  I trust he has spoken to you…about…”  The Potentate’s eyes fell to the heap of clothes, then up to meet Rayford’s.  Their usual genial gleam suddenly turned to the flash of a freshly-drawn sword.  “What have you done with Mr. Fortunato?” he asked in a cool voice with only the smallest hint of malice.  Nicolae never needed more than that.

    “Me?  Wha…?” Rayford stammered.  And then…he remembered.  Back on that 747.  An erection pressing uncomfortably against his tight belt, demanding to be set free.  Pulsing with each heartbeat, each forbidden thought of dragging Hattie into the latrine, or taking her right there in the flight attendants’ break room, or…  And then the surge of anger.  At himself, yes; but then, at the people who caged him, who had kept him from boning Hattie like he’d wanted too all those years–hell, like she’d wanted him to all those years: Irene, and Raymie.  And how he’d thought, for just one second, how much better his life would be…if only there was no such thing as Bible-thumpers and kids.

    The incomprehension on Rayford’s face slowly faded.  With each passing second, a whole lot of things started making sense.

    “I expect an answer,” Nicolae said, the tenor of menace in his voice rising.  A smile spread across Rayford’s face.

    “He should have called me Captain Steele when he had the chance.  As for you?  You have held the world in thrall long enough.  I want you to go away now.”  With the sound of a clap by cupped hands, air rushed into the vacuum where Nicolae had been.  His suit crumpled to the ground at Rayford’s feet.

    Buck’s cell phone rang.  He drew its from its holster, letting it ring a couple more time while he caressed its sleek form with his thumb.  Of course he could not resist its siren song for long.  he touched the ‘Talk’ button like a lover’s clitoris.  “Buck.”  His face brightened when he heard the familiar voice.  “Ray  Thank God you’re alright!  Where are you?”

    “I have some good news for you, Buck,” Ray said.  “Nicolae Carpathia is no more.”

    “…What?  How…is that possible?  He’s the Antichrist…the prophecies…”  Something about Rayford’s chuckle made the hairs on the back of Cameron’s neck stand up.  “You’re saying you…killed him?”  Ray laughed this time.

    “‘Kill’ is such an ugly word, Buck.  Every child on Earth, gone in the blink of an eye, and not one of us ever said they’d been killed, no not once.”

    “Ray?  Are you OK?”

    “Never better.  I have some more good news for  you, Buck.  You are the only person who could have matched me.  The only person who shares my power.”

    “Uh…Ray?  What are you talking about?”

    “For the ‘Greatest Investigative Reporter of All Time, you never were very bright.  But then, you never had to be, did you?”

    “Ray…you’re starting to scare me.  What’s going on?”

    “When was the last time you wrote a story, Buck?”

    “Well, just last…”  Buck’s brows furrowed in confusion.  He could remember all the exciting news he’d seen…the attack on Israel, Chaim’s all-but magical crop-growth formula, the Event, the rise of Nicolae.  He could remember receiving the acclaim and admiration of everyone around him, as if he’d produced a Pulitzer Prize-worthy account of each one.  And the money!  Even before Nicolae hired him, the paychecks came in as if he was the most read reporter in print.  But…for the life of him…Buck couldn’t remember actually writing anything.

    “I don’t suppose you’ve ever wondered why, in the middle of the Apocalypse, your life just kept going on almost like normal?  Why your money was still good for cars and gas and plane tickets while everybody else in the world has been reduced to barter and looting by the collapse of the global economy.  Except when you were around.  When you were around, their lives were normal too.  They didn’t even miss their children.  Am I right?”

    “I…don’t understand…”

    “Of course you don’t.  But that’s alright, Buck.  You don’t have to understand.  Because I have some bad news for you too:  I want you to go away now.

    Buck’s cell phone dropped onto the heated leather seat of the Range Rover.  The driverless vehicle began to swerve. 

    Chloe screamed.

  • Ymfon Tviergh

     …Wow. Just wow.

  • aunursa

    Rayford: The Rise of Anthonychrist

  • j_bird

    I’ve also heard the gender-essentialist line that women who complain
    want huggy-feelies and not someone who’ll bail them out or help fix the

    I’m a known and avowed ~woman~, and I do often find that I’d rather just have a listening ear for my problems than to have someone try to fix them.  Partly, it’s because talking through them helps me figure out what to do; partly it’s nice to have someone affirm that the problems are real and nontrivial.  But largely it’s because of a desire to be *independent*; i.e. I don’t *want* someone else solving my problems for me. 

    But wait!!! Aren’t independence and self-sufficiency supposed to be male traits? Damn conflicting stereotypes…

  • j_bird

     Apparently complaining-to-vent is a “feminine trait” and focusing on solutions is a “masculine trait”

    I’m trying to think back to overheard conversations between men in which one of the guys is talking about some problem.  I’m pretty sure that for every “Have you tried [solution]?”, I’ve heard several instances of “Yeah man, that sucks. [shakes head]  Shit…”

  • Yeah. As I said in my original post the “wanting an ear” phenomenon is, in the gender-essentialist paradigm, not a part of a person’s makeup, but instead claimed to be a feature of ALL women because they’re just so ~emotional~.

  •  There have been many times in my life when my penis was no impediment to me wanting someone to just pat my shoulder and tell me it was going to be okay, rather than say things I’m sure they thought were helpful but which sounded a lot like “Your problem is actually trivial because I can rattle off a simple solution I am sure you are too dumb to have thought of yourself”