NRA: Bored with Plank

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pg. 153

Bad news, I’m afraid, for Steve Plank.

You remember Steve? He used to be Buck Williams’ best friend. For years, in fact, Steve was Buck’s only friend. Buck lived alone in New York City, thousands of miles from his family. He had no friends from school, and most of his other colleagues at work viewed him with jealousy and resentment, so Steve was all he had.

If Buck needed a ride to or from the airport, he called Steve. If Buck needed to talk to someone about story ideas, he talked to Steve. Steve was also the boss who helped guide Buck’s career and his rise as a professional magazine writer. So Buck owes him.

And yet here we are in Book 3 of our series and it seems that Buck, and the authors, have grown weary of Steve Plank. Poor Steve’s days are numbered.

The authors telegraph Steve’s fate here in the middle of Nicolae, where Jerry Jenkins has decided to devote a couple of chapters to catching up with peripheral characters. Buck sees Chaim Rosenzweig and that leads to several pages of reminding readers who Chaim is, what’s happened to him so far, and how fond Buck Williams is of his old friend. Rayford Steele gets a phone call from Hattie Durham and off we go on a multi-page review of Hattie’s history in the story and a reminder of Rayford’s guilty sense of obligation to his former co-worker.

Those review sections emphasize that the authors are still invested in Chaim and Hattie (and also in Tsion Ben-Judah, a.k.a. Bruce Barnes 2.0).

But when we get to Steve Plank, he only gets two dismissive paragraphs. Uh-oh.

Those two paragraphs, of course, involve Buck making a phone call:

Buck settled into his room on the third floor of the King David Hotel. On a hunch he called the offices of the Global Community East Coast Daily Times in Boston and asked for his old friend, Steve Plank. Plank had been his boss at Global Weekly what seemed eons ago. He had abruptly left there to become Carpathia’s press secretary when Nicolae became secretary-general of the United Nations. It wasn’t long before Steve was tabbed for the lucrative position he now held.

It was no surprise to Buck to find that Plank was not in the office. He was in New Babylon at the behest of Nicolae Carpathia and no doubt feeling very special about it.

Buck showered and took a nap.

I’m not sure what to make of Buck calling Steve “on a hunch,” and then not being surprised that Steve wasn’t in. I suppose that means Buck is no longer surprised when his hunches turn out to be wrong.

In any case, Buck’s dismissive sneering makes it clear that Steve Plank’s fate is sealed. He has cast his lot with Nicolae and will therefore die and be damned to Hell for eternity. And the authors are no doubt feeling very special about it.

What has Steve done, exactly, to earn this sarcastic derision from his old friend Buck?

Well, first he took a job as an assistant to the Antichrist, signing on as Nicolae Carpathia’s press-secretary. For Buck and for the authors, this is unforgivable — even though, at the time that Steve took that job, Buck himself was busy giving Nicolae a standing ovation, then arranging for a private audience so that he could beg Nicolae for protection.

Buck stuck a deal with Nicolae in which he agreed to bury a story in exchange for his personal safety. As a consequence of that deal, three people were murdered — one pushed off a ferry and two shot. And despite knowing all this, Buck kept his end of the deal and never reported on any of it. But apparently none of that is as bad as taking a job as a press secretary.

We’ve just learned, though, that Steve is no longer serving as press secretary. He left that job for a lucrative post working directly for the Antichrist as his hand-picked puppet-journalist in charge of a daily newspaper. For doing that, he clearly deserves damnation.

Buck Williams took a lucrative post working directly for the Antichrist as his hand-picked puppet-journalist in charge of a weekly newsmagazine. And that, of course, is completely different.

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  • Original Lee

    That (personal knowledge of every living human being) would have been an awesomely creepy superpower for L&J to have given Nicolae. Which of course is why they didn’t do it.

  • Daniel

    Thank you kindly. I follow the golden rule to “write what I know”- arrogance, pomposity and a willingness to listen to flattery. Unfortunately I’ve already written more than the GIRAT otherwise I’d be a shoe in to play him in the remake.

  • Daniel

    Please, spare me the agonising wait until we get there- what happens? Does our brave young Buck force her feet into kitten heels? Is she given a flouncy, frilly Irene-Steele esque makeover? Or… oh I really hope she seduces Chloe. PLEASE let her seduce Chloe.

  • mcc

    Is it possible that the Rapture really did just take everyone on earth except these 11 people

    The reason we only hear from these 12 or so characters (Bruce Loretta Steve Rayford Buck Chloe Nicholae Chaim) over and over is they are the only people left in North America. The reason they use Chaim for every scientist role is he is one of maybe 4 people with a science PHD left on earth. The reason they need Rayford for every pilot role is he is one of two people trained to pilot an aircraft left on earth. The reason why the President of Romania becomes secretary-general of the UN and unquestioned leader of earth is that the UN halls stand empty and there is no one to tell him otherwise. The reason why nobody expresses grief or remorse at the nuclear leveling of entire cities is the cities stand not just devoid of people imbued with the Holy Spirit, but rather that those cities are literally unpopulated.

    Any un-named character is not real. Characters like the car salesman a few chapters back are in the text because the handful of remaining humans like Cameron are play-acting at things like having conversations with a car salesman in an auto dealership and waving a magical “global community credit card” (no such thing). It would make more sense to just walk into the abandoned auto dealership, grab some keys and walk out, but it would feel too lonely. Let’s imagine we’re not the only ones. Nicholae turns on the cameras at the U.N., stands in front of them and gives a speech to an empty room. He can make his speech just be a list of alphabetical countries, whatever comes to mind, because he knows no one is listening. And so on.

    What we have been reading is a shared fantasy by the maybe 13 people left alive at this point– swelling to 25 or something in the later books, as they find more Rapture survivors. It seems a little nonsensical because as with any improv, nobody contradicts anyone else. People clump together based on what they know they are, what the others say they are. “I’m the President of Romania”, one person says, “I’m an airline pilot”, another says, and everyone grabs onto that hard and runs with it (Rayford says, you’re a politician, well surely you could aspire to something higher, uh, Secretary-general of the U.N! Nicholae says, yes of course, and you’re a pilot, you will fly Air Force One for me!) because they are all mutually trying not to face the idea that things like Presidents and Airline pilots don’t anymore exist because Romania and airlines don’t anymore exist. The narrative is focused on communication and the logistics of the few named characters finding each other because those tiny moments of connection with the few remaining humans are the most precious thing in the world to these horribly alone people.

  • Thrifty

    Steve isn’t killed. He just sort of drops off the face of the Earth during this book and is never heard from until book 8, when he turns up all deformed from injuries caused by one of the earlier judgments. He’s working covertly against Carpathia doing basically what the Tribulation Force SHOULD be doing; undermining Carpathia from the inside despite the inevitable course of nature. He tries. But Steve becomes a Christian and is eventually executed for failure to take the mark.

  • The Other Weirdo

    And ended up karate-chopping every single one of them. He was very sorry afterwards.

  • Newbiedoobiedoo

    “Vast tracts of land”?
    “Nicolae smiled”?
    I was going to say “steaming piles of produce,” but that wasn’t the authors. That was all of us.

  • Vermic

    Somewhere, Buck knows, Steve Plank is doing the Superior Dance in a cushy new office with a coffee cup that says “Nicolae’s #1 Best Friend <3". Buck can picture it and it just eats him up.

  • Original Lee

    Kafka writes Left Behind! I love it!

  • ScorpioUndone

    agreed about consent. I think with books like 50 shades, because both characters exist simultaneously within the author’s mind, it’s almost like consent has been given, either actively or implied. Negotiating is never sexy, well, unless I’m doing it. *Anything* can be fun if you do it right.

    I’ve seen this in a lot of books though, where the issue of consent is just sort of skipped, or considered to be an already done deal. I’ve noticed something similar happening in my own writing when I get sloppy. I like to think I notice it more often than not.

    Alternatively, you’re getting a glimpse of the author’s fantasy. A kind of consensual non-consent, or the top who is a mind-reader and knows exactly how far to go without ever going *too* far. Oh sure, he’ll push her boundary past her comfort level, but she’ll thank him for it later. *gag*

  • Pacal

    Once again we find out that Buck et al are willingly working with what and who they “know” is the embodiment of pure evil. Enabling that evil to further spread and prosper. Yet because in their hearts they are “True Christians”, they are holy and unmarked by collaboration with Satanic evil. Why because their “intentions” are pure and holy. Intention is the magic Kool-Aid that makes everything better. Well whatever! This of course forgets the stuff about the road to hell is paved with good intentions.