NRA: A responsive reading

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 133-135

If the first few pages of Chapter 7 of this book had been excerpted and published as a sneak-peek teaser before the rest of the book came out, then this little section might have been bearable.

Jerry Jenkins is doing several things at once here — reinforcing Buck Williams’ role as a (literally) jet-setting VIP, reintroducing the character of charter pilot Ken Ritz from back in the first book, and presenting another little Sunday-school lesson on the duty of personal evangelism. The first and last of those are a bit tedious, but Jenkins does a capable job of the second one.

Like most of the peripheral characters in these books, Ken Ritz benefits from not being Buck or Rayford. We want to be able to like someone in this story, so we’re inclined to treat characters like Ken with a generous benefit of the doubt. In this passage, taken by itself, Jenkins doesn’t give us any powerful reasons to dislike Ken, so we’re willing to regard him as a breath of slightly fresher air and to find him somewhat interesting even despite being told, clumsily, that “Ritz was interesting.”

Unfortunately, though, we can’t take this passage entirely by itself. Chapter 7 follows the previous six chapters, and those were pretty eventful — at least in terms of body count.

Millions of people were just slaughtered. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City have all just been “destroyed” with nuclear weapons.

The metropolitan areas of those cities are home to more than 107 million people, and given what we know of the indiscriminate mass-destruction of nuclear weaponry here in the real world, the previous chapters seem to indicate that somewhere around 100 million people were just killed in this story.

But we’ve also seen in those chapters that this story doesn’t work like reality. In the unreal universe of these books, the death toll from the beginning of World War III is probably less than that.

At least some of the nuclear weapons deployed by the Antichrist’s military were apparently a special, non-radioactive variety. These weapons also seem magically bound by city limits, such that a nuclear bomb dropped on the City of Chicago can go almost unnoticed in Evanston or Calumet City, and won’t cause even the slightest disruption to daily routine 90 miles away in Milwaukee. And Buck’s walking tour of post-nuclear downtown Chicago seemed to suggest that, in the fantasy world of these books, the majority of a city’s residents might survive a direct nuclear strike. So let’s take Nicolae Carpathia literally when he tells us that all these cities would be “decimated” by his nuclear destruction of them. Let’s assume that, somehow, nuclear war only claimed one tenth of the post-Event population within the city limits of these targeted metropolises.

Here’s some hasty diner-napkin arithmetic: If the miracle bombs are confined to city limits, so that Dallas gets nuked but Fort Worth is untouched, then we’re dealing with a pre-Event city-limits population of 39 million or so.

We calculated earlier that the post-Event world without children or RTCs would have a population of around 4 billion instead of 7 billion, so let’s use that same ratio to say the city limits of the Antichrist’s nuclear targets would be home to a post-Event population of around 22 million.

And then let’s accept the physical impossibility of nuclear attacks on those cities resulting in the death of only 10 percent of their population. And then round down.

That impossibly low estimate still gives us two million dead. That is the death toll of the events described in the first six chapters of Nicolae. That is what happens during the first two days described in this book.

Two million people killed, and then Chapter 7 begins. Two million people were slaughtered yesterday, and then Buck Williams wakes up on day three and catches a plane.

Buck had always had the ability to sleep well, even when he couldn’t. He could have used a dozen or more hours the night before, after the day he had had. However, seven-plus hours had been just enough because when he was out, he was out. He knew Chloe had slept fitfully only because she told him in the morning. Her tossing and turning and winces of pain had not affected his slumber.

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

Now, as Ken Ritz landed the Learjet in Easton, Pennsylvania, “just to top off the tank before headin’ to Tel Aviv,” Buck was alert. He and the lanky, weathered veteran pilot in his late fifties seemed to have picked up where they left off the last time he had employed this freelance charter service. Ritz was a talker, a raconteur, opinionated, interesting, and interested. He was as eager to know Buck’s latest thoughts on the vanishings and the global war as he was in sharing his own views.

“So, what’s new with the jet-setting young magazine writer since I saw you last, what, almost two years ago?” Ritz had begun.

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

Buck told him. He recalled that Ritz had been forthright and outspoken when they first met, admitting that he had no more idea than anyone else what might have caused the vanishings but coming down on the side of aliens from outer space. It had hit Buck as a wild idea for a buttoned-down pilot, but Buck hadn’t come to any conclusions at the time either. One theory was as good as the next. Ritz had told him of many strange encounters in the air that made it plausible that an airman might believe in such things.

That gave Buck the confidence to tell his own story without apology. It didn’t seem to faze Ritz, at least negatively. He listened quietly, and when Buck was through, Ritz simply nodded.

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

“So,” Buck said, “do I seem as weird to you now as you did to me when you were propounding the space alien theory?”

“Not really,” Ritz said. “You’d be amazed at the number of people just like you that I’ve run into since the last time we talked. I don’t know what it all means, but I’m beginning to believe there are more people who agree with you than agree with me.”

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” Buck said, “if I’m right, I’m still in big trouble. We are all gonna go through some real horror. But people who don’t believe are going to be in worse trouble than they could ever imagine.”

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

“I can’t imagine worse trouble than we’re in right now.”

“I know what you mean,” Buck said. “I used to apologize and try to make sure I wasn’t coming on too strong or being obnoxious, but let me just urge you to investigate what I’ve said. And don’t assume you’ve got a lot of time to do it.”

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

“That’s all part of the belief system, isn’t it?” Ritz said. “If what you say is true, the end isn’t that far off. Just a few years.”

“Exactly.”

“Then, if a fella was gonna check it out, he better get to it.”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” Buck said.

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

After refueling in Easton, Ritz spent the hours over the Atlantic asking “what if” questions. Buck had to keep assuring him he was not a student or a scholar, but he amazed even himself at what he remembered from Bruce’s teaching.

“It must have hurt like everything to lose a friend like that,” Ritz said.

“You can’t imagine.”

Two million people were slaughtered yesterday. New York, Washington, London, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto and Mexico City are no more.

Here ends today’s reading.

 

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