Yeah, so this is pretty much happening every chapter: a new way for the underground zealots to be unspeakably horrible.
Paul is awake in bed and Jae is asleep next to him:
Was she finally sound asleep, feeling secure, warm, and fuzzy at the thought of her family under one roof? [Paul wondered]
It has been two days since the deaths of Jae’s brother and mother. However she might be feeling, I doubt it is warm and fuzzy.
Then again, Jae is RTC now, and is already abdicating parenting duties to her third-grader, so maybe I am giving Jae too much credit here.
Anyway, Paul is awake because he is thinking about the latest scheme of horror to be proposed by a zealot:
Pudgy Jack wants to flood the planet.
Yup. The slaughter of men, little boys, and little babies two days ago is not nearly enough to sate this man’s bloodlust. He calls this prayer plan “Operation Noah,” and even has a handy work-around to God’s promise never to flood the Earth again: “selective floods,” which Jack characterizes as basically flooding the entire planet except for Los Angeles, which would remain the refuge point for Christians.
“Believers can flee there. For anybody else who tries, it’s feast or famine. Get washed away in a flood or die of dehydration in L.A.”
I know I say this a lot, but wow. Just wow. The bodies are barely cold. People are still trying to even find the naked, carless bodies of their loved ones. And Jack wants all those survivors dead. The whole planet.
Though the thought occurs to me that “selective” flooding of the entire planet except one city is exactly the sort of “Gotcha!” I would expect from this God: “Ha ha, suckers! I promised never to destroy the whole planet by flood again! But I never promised not to destroy 99.9999999999999999999999999% of the planet by flood!”
(Still, it’s a pretty dumb plan. A worldwide flood only worked the first time because it had never rained before and nobody else had a boat. But there are rather more boats in the world now. I don’t think the evil atheists’ odds are as bad as Pudgy Jack assumes.)
Regardless, Paul is awake because he is very vaguely opposed to Operation Noah, not quite because he doesn’t want other innocent people to die, but because “he was weary of judgment, of mayhem, of chaos.” How big of him. How compassionate.
Stay tuned next week—I broke this chapter into two parts because the rest of it is taken up by paragraph after interminable paragraph about Felicia’s conversion.
Another super-short chapter from Dan Brown-wannabe Jenkins.
Even in a chapter this short, though…I mean, I knew things were going to get even more jaw-droppingly horrible as we progressed, but I had still somehow forgetten about some of the little horrible things. Like, say, this gem:
Jae watched carefully as Brie rejoined the kids and sidled up to Connor. On one hand Jae worried how such news would hit him, but on the other she trusted Brie to share it better than she herself could.
She trusts her eight-year-old child to deliver news like this to the six-year-old.
IN A ROOM FULL OF OTHER CHILDREN BECAUSE IT IS STILL JESUS STORYTIME.
Jae is some kind of stone cold bitch, I’ll say that for her.
Mother of the Year, too.
Bizarrely, it’s actually not quite as bad as I first assumed…I mean, I thought Jae had tasked Brie to deliver the news of Uncle Berl’s death to little Connor. But no, Brie is instead just telling him about the whole on-the-run-from-the-gubmint. Connor takes it well, because this means they’re now “bad guys” and that is awesome.
But I still wonder…does Jae think Connor will remain six years old forever? Sooner or later, he is going to learn about Berlitz and all the other firstborn sons. And she’s already establishing that her eight-year-old daughter will be the bearer of news to her six-year-old son?
I just don’t even, at this point. The kindergardener needs to know they’re in hiding because of Jesus, but not that Jesus killed one of his most-loved people last night?
And yanno, I can’t even get over this—I already knew my mother was awesome beyond measure, but she also never made me break life-changing news to my little brother when I was eight and he was six.
Anyway, back to our new pal, Greenie! (He’s Irish, don’tcha know!)
Jack has tapped Greenie to be in charge while he (Jack) takes his little field trip to the surface world. Paul, who has been a part of this organization, let’s remember, for less than forty-eight hours, starts grilling Greenie like this is all some job interview:
“People respect you around here?”
“You want the responsibility, the head job?”
Is it just me, or does Paul seem just a leeeeetle bitter that Jack didn’t offer the position to him? I mean, surely Paul couldn’t take it, since I’m sure he has much more important things, no doubt of global importance, to do, but still…it’s always nice to be asked. To be respected.
Greenie is fine to take up the mantle of Supreme Dictator of the D.C. Underground, in and of itself, but a new problem has reared its ugly head:
“Okay, we’re seeing some evidence that someone might be hacking into our server.” [said Greenie]
“How can that be?” [asked Paul]
“I don’t know, and you wouldn’t either if I told you, would you?”
“I don’t suppose I would.”
Am I just tired, or does that exchange make no sense?
Paul heads out into the hall and makes a skull phone call to the one useful person in this story so far: Felicia.
SHE IS STILL AT WORK.
Her son is dead. Her SON is DEAD. And she is still at work.
Felicia was “about to call [Paul] anyway“…yanno, to inform him of the hacking and all. Apparently Paul completely sucks at being a double agent, because he hasn’t spotted any of the other agents all around the USSA, who are all doing a bang-up job themselves, since the various undergrounds are on the verge of being, “contaminated,” “compromised,” and “exposed.”
We haven’t mentioned this in quite some time, but Atheistopia just always does a great job at…well, everything.
Also, I amuse myself by imagining that Felicia is lying through her evil atheist teeth, and never had any intention of calling Paul, and was just waiting for the moment he would be captured and napalm-barreled for praying to his enforcer to kill her son.
But no. Sadly, my little fantasy only lasts until the next line of dialogue, when Felicia tells Paul that she is “pretty well committed to your side now” and “what I need is God.”
Another one bites the dust. Sad,
Paul knows rich people!
Isn’t that exciting—isn’t that just almost as exciting as being rich yourself—knowing the right people???
Of course, sometimes you have to be careful of rich people…they can be just a bit self-absorbed:
[Arthur Demetrius] just jumped right in to his own agenda. “Paul, I miss you, man. Wish you were here, counseling me, teaching me, guiding me.”
“After all, you’ve been a Christian for a couple weeks more than I have, man!”
Arthur proves himself just as sociopathic as the next LaJenkinsian RTC:
“I can’t for the life of me figure how anyone can doubt God now, can you?”
Well, granted, Art, you got a personal miracle in the form of your murdered-by-silver brother. Not everyone was so “lucky.”
“How long will God put up with this? Doesn’t He have to intervene, even more than He has, if you can imagine that?”
Hot damn. The bodies aren’t even cold yet, and Arthur wants more “intervention” from God? That is some bloodlust, pal. Even Paul isn’t that bad. Usually.
Anyway, Arthur proposes a scheme that floors even Paul: he’ll put half his money “in a protected Swiss account,” from which he will donate five million dollars per month to each region’s underground.
Even assuming forty years’ worth of inflation, that still seems quite generous, so I guess that’s nice.
Paul is all excited, since this would “even the playing field between the international government and the zealot underground.”
That is some kind of sense of proportion Paul has, given that, again, the (naked, car-less) bodies aren’t even cold.
Meanwhile, one member of the Apostle family has an actual human reaction to the horror of this whole situation: little Brie bursts into tears in the middle of Jesus-storytime (seriously, do these kids ever study math or spelling or anything except how awesome Jesus is???). Jae, of course, prays about the problem, though I’m not sure she understands what the problem is, since Brie herself seems fuzzy on what has actually happened.
[Jae] wanted to tell the truth, but a lot of this was way too much for an eight-year-old.
Well, Jae, maybe her father should have thought of that before he wrote the manifesto praying for the deaths of millions, including his allegedly-beloved wife’s brother.
After chatting up their biggest “partner,” who is no doubt wiring his love gifts to Switzerland even as we speak, Paul heads back down to Roscoe’s cell. This scene serves little to no purpose, other than to reiterate that Roscoe is “whiny,” and that Paul has somehow managed to fool himself into genuinely believing that “we don’t kill people we don’t have to. It’s not what we’re about.”
But the really hilarious part (and, indeed, it is played for laughs), is that Roscoe hates God, and that Paul (and, presumably, Pudgy Jack) wants to kill Roscoe. However…
“That’s just our flesh talking. God would have us spare you. So be careful how you refer to Him around us.”
“That’s for sure.”
Back at the
ranch Bible study class, Jae tries to explain Uncle Berlitz’s death to little Brie, a task somewhat hampered by the way that Jae couches it in terms of Poor Daddy and how the government is oppressing them all. No talk of how God oppressed Uncle Berl into the grave—indeed, Jae pulls the good old RTC not-quite-lying trick and says that Berl died in a car accident, not that God killed him…and then the car crashed because he couldn’t drive it, what with being dead and all.
Damn, I tell ya, this book is a gift that keeps on giving—no sooner have we gotten past discussion of Roscoe Wipers’ “retail shop” name than we are introduced to a new lovely character…
Greenie (“Please don’t ask”) Macintosh
Yeah. Oh, um, he’s Irish. Just in case there was any doubt.
I get the feeling that Jenkins thinks all of Ireland is like this:
And of course, there’s a whole story behind Greenie Macintosh’s name (because we all need to know just how clever Jenkins is with non-American names, even though he has already more than proved it with such classics as Baldassare and Calvino, Hannah Palemoon, and Ming Wong Toy Woo).
His mother (‘scuse me, his “ma“) named him Grenadier.
“Somebody who lobs grenades. We’re a warring people in a warless world.”
Okay. Okay, first of all, I don’t think you can call yourself warless now, not with all the stripped corpses lying in the streets.
Secondly, are people really so concerned about the meanings of names? I mean, my name means something, and I have never once in my life had anyone so much as make reference to the meaning. It’s just a name.
So, young Grenadier tries to get his friends to call him Gil, but they just tease him that he “looked like a fish and a little green around the gills,” so they call him Greenie.
Which doesn’t explain why he still goes by Greenie as an adult in the USSA, but hey, isn’t it clever? Greenie? Macintosh? From Ireland! It’s perfect!
Greenie is Pudgy Jack’s first officer. And on that exciting note, the chapter ends.
Jenkins weirdly goes out of his way to tell us that Jae wakes up at nine in the morning on Wednesday, January 23. Meaning that he has access to the internet, so he can tell us for certain that the slaughter of the innocent firstborn sons will take place on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2047, 6:00 p.m. EST.
Good to know.
Jae reflects as she lies in her palatial apartment:
So this was what it meant to be a believer. Grief over her brother. Mourning her mother. Horrified at the unspeakable magnitude of loss around the world. And yet a deep sense of peace. She wasn’t happy. Jae couldn’t call it that, not with everything that had happened. But there was a bedrock contentment that God was somehow in control.
So much in control that he killed her brother and let her mother die of a heart attack. So much in control that Berlitz is in Hell, now and forever, and nothing anyone ever says or does will get him out.
I suppose there must be some bizarre sense of contentment, a really warped version of it, at least, when you know an evil dictator is in charge of everyone’s life and death and afterlife. In a certain way, it would make decisions easier—like whether to resist said evil dictator, or worship him. Paul and Jae and I all find this an easy decision.
Speaking of Paul, we find that he has another amazing James Bond-like ability!
…he had the ability to recover from extended exhaustion with one good night’s sleep, as long as he got in enough hours.
Wow. Real special, Paul.
(I will add that there is no way Paul got “one good night’s sleep,” since he got to bed pretty late, then woke back up at four to pretend to shoot Roscoe. That is pretty much the definition of not a good night’s sleep. Gorammit, Jenkins, keep track of the details you take such pains to tell me!)
Paul and Jae don’t even see each other in the morning, since Jae heads off with the kids to hang with Angela. Paul has breakfast with Pudgy Jack, and sensitively volunteers to P.J. that he “slept like a gravestone.”
Tell that to your dead and innocent brother-in-law, you prick.
Meanwhile, Jae prays that her little children will convert quickly to the worship of the being who killed their loving uncle.
Meanwhile meanwhile, Pudgy Jack reveals to Paul the “pleasant surprise” that he teased a few chapters ago—what the loving, generous, spirit-filled Christians do with the cars and clothes of the recently slaughtered.
Just as several of you deduced, they’re stripping corpses.
What a bunch of winsome witnesses.
As if reading [Paul’s] question, Jack said, “No, we don’t steal their money. We assume they have left families who need their resources.”
So they take clothes and cars, but not cash. Does Jenkins really think that most normal humans carry around more cash than their car is worth? Because the current Bluebook value of my car is about $8,000, and I can guaran-damn-tee you I am not carrying anything close to that amount of cash on my person. Just sayin’, I would rather my surviving family have my car than the cash in my wallet.
“But if they’re dead, they certainly don’t need their clothes, their driver’s licenses, that kind of stuff.”
Oh, yeah—they take identities, too. Because that is the loving, Christian thing to do.
Yanno, I may well be missing something here, but I don’t even understand what stealing an identity would accomplish for the zealots. The usual goal in stealing an identity is to spend someone else’s money, and Pudgy Jack claims they don’t want to do that. And how long could anyone from the underground pretend to be a person who has just been declared dead, complete with body, as a result of the biggest massacre in human history?
That aside, though, we can be reassured on one point:
“Trust me, we respect those bodies, even though we’re stripping them of clothes and ID.”
Gee, thanks, Jack, good to know that you’re not posing the bodies in humorous ways, I guess.
(I also think neither Jack nor Jenkins has any idea how difficult it is to remove clothes from a dead body, let alone one that has probably been mangled in a car accident. Wrestling your rebellious three-year-old into his pajamas doesn’t really give the proper sense…)
And another thought occurs to me re: clothes…clothes are some of the cheapest things in the world to get. There are five used-clothes stores within walking distance of my home, and hell, since the zealots see nothing wrong with thievery, they could just raid the donation bins of the very generous Atheistopia.
In addition to the “respect” they give the bodies of the men now roasting in Hell forever, Jack has this justification:
“And we are on the right side, after all.”
“Of course.” [said sociopath Paul]
Jack also points out that a majority of the elders have agreed to this whole strip-bodies-and-steal-cars-and-identities plan, but he really has a much bigger issue in mind that he wants to discuss with this man he barely knows:
See, Pudgy Jack wants to go topside. He’s basically been completely in hiding since the death of his brother in Soon, so it’s been awhile.
Trust a zealot to have only his own desires in mind a few hours after the biggest disaster to ever befall the planet. He and Paul will get along swimmingly, I’m sure.
One final thought about Pudgy Jack: He comes across as all innocent, but he reminds us here how upset he was by the napalm-barreling death of Andy. Given that, there is an extra level of heartless evil (and, perhaps, conscious or unconscious revenge) to Jack’s glib justifications of corpse-looting.
Something to think about.
Well, thanks to all this talk about the Christian Sasquatch movie, I now need to watch MST3K: Boggy Creek II today.
And that is no bad thing.
Something unique was happening with the kids, Jae decided.
Mostly because she’s shocked that instead of asking questions about what has happened, the kids just want to sleep after the movie. This has been a big day for them, what with their uncle and grandmother dying and being yanked around a grief-stricken world to an underground apartment. And it was also movie night. So I’m honestly not too surprised that they’re tired. I’m more surprised that Jae is surprised.
But this newly-Christian mom respects that exhaustion little enough that she keeps them awake to tell them about how she prays before she sleeps, and about how Jesus is real and not “a fairy tale…a make-believe story” as Brie asks.
Wouldn’t want the kids exercising any critical thinking at this important faith juncture, after all!
Speaking of the make-believe story, is anyone else surprised that the RTC underground is capable of making movies that can entertain Atheistopian children, who are used to the entertainment extravaganzas described in Soon? I mean, we have plenty of evidence from the movies critiqued at this very blog, that Christian movies are, by and large, low budget affairs that tend to sacrifice plot and characterization on the altar of…the altar call. So I can’t imagine Brie, especially, being impressed.
But enough of the kids! Back to Paul and his spy games:
In answer to a question asked about the last chapter, Wipers lied about the code words he uses in his communications with Bia. Paul knew this, not because of his own “prodigious intellect” or anything, but because Felicia found out for him.
Paul heads to the apartment for a nap before the Bia-call, and he and Jae engage in some pillow talk regarding Jae’s dead mom. Jae thinks her mother as good as converted before her death, and Paul really doesn’t say yay or nay to this. As I’ve said before, this seems a less formal standard than Jerry Jenkins usually has, given that Margaret didn’t make “the transaction,” but I’m sure this is far more comforting alternative to Jae than imagining her mother being tortured forever in the newly-believed-in Hell.
Yanno, like Berlitz is. Right now.
At ten to four, Paul meets back up with Pudgy Jack. Their conversation consists of Paul’s self-absorbed observation that he is currently “the most recognizable and vulnerable fugitive in the USSA,” and Jack’s commentary on Roscoe’s name:
“Where’d he get a name like that anyway?” Jack said. “Sounds like a retail shop.”
Paul stared at him. Surely Jack wasn’t expecting an answer. Where does a man get a name like Jack Pass either?
I am utterly ashamed that Paul and I are in agreement about something…anything.
Also, did Jenkins just poke fun at himself? Mind blown.
At least I can take comfort in the fact that Roscoe Wipers doesn’t at all sound like the name of a “retail shop” (seriously, who even says it like that?). Roscoe Wipers sounds like a two-bit thug in a 1930s gangster movie, which I can only imagine is what Jenkins was actually going for.
Given that they know the difference between the real code words and the fake code words, Paul and Pudgy Jack come up with a plan:
“We get him connected, make sure he says the right stuff, have him tell this woman’s machine that we have moved out of Washington. Then, just as he’s starting to tell her where we’ve gone, we interrupt him, tell him he’s been made, fire off the gun, he drops the phone, end of threat.”
Well, unless they’re actually tracking him and are ready to move. I mean, gorammit, what are even the point of these stupid skull phones if you can’t keep track of your spies?
They purposefully and unnecessarily slam open the door of the cell, startling Roscoe, who “whines.”
Damn, people who lose loved ones are just so whiny in this book!
Amusingly, Paul is surprised when Bia actually answers Roscoe’s call, instead of letting it go to “machine.”
Turns out that she was up anyway, because her son is dead, too.
Anyway, the dumb spy games continue, as Roscoe spews some nonsense about everyone moving but nobody telling anybody where they’re actually going (?), and Paul and Jack pull the ridiculous “oh noes, he’s been found out, shoot him!” ruse, and that’s that.
Still seems like a really bad plan, but okay.
And a new thought occurs to me—are Paul and Pudgy Jack and the other believers really this unconcerned with being thought murderers by the NPO? Granted, the NPO already knows that they successfully prayed for the deaths of millions, but now they also shoot suspected spies in cold blood.
They’re the good guys…remember that.
Jae awakens from her little catnap when Angela brings the kids to their new spacious abode.
The kids are, of course, blown away by the idea of Jesus. And Jae, feeling especially vulnerable, breaks down in front of Angela and blurts out her whole life story, including, of course, “how she had seen a change in Paul.”
I can’t help but imagine that Angela is thinking, “Damn! Dodged a bullet there!”
Jae also tells Angela how “guilty” she feels about the children, not instilling in them the religion that she herself did not believe until a few days ago.
Angela reassures her:
“Actually, Jae, they’re at the perfect age. It would have been good to have them younger, of course, but at eight and six they have no guile, no cynicism.”
Probably. They do, however, know the difference between fact and fiction. And the schools may never have mentioned God, but certainly the kids have picked up by osmosis that religion is “pretend.” If not Connor yet, then surely observant, parentified Brie, so attuned to the adults around her.
Jae is also embarrassed for herself and how little she knows of Jesus (as well she might be, considering how little of the Bible she has actually read), so Angela offers her a job as “assistant,” so she can learn as the kids learn.
Damn, it might be the end of the world, but the indoctrination will continue apace!
Back to Roscoe Wipers!
Paul’s “professional opinion” is that he should just murder Wipers as a favor to the underground. Yet, in a downright 1984-ish conversation, Paul explains to Wipers that “We’re people of faith, people of redemption, people of second chances.”
But Paul really, really wants to kill him, because he got the information about Wipers from poor, overworked Felicia, and knows that Wipers has been giving them false info about how and when he makes contact with Bia Balaam.
But it is Pudgy Jack who advocates for not killing Wipers. Not because he is a person of second chances and love and forgiveness or anything, but because they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place: if they let Wipers contact Bia under their supervision, he could give away the underground’s position, but if they kill him, the NPO will also know he’s been made.
Short chapter. Sometimes I think Jerry Jenkins has aspirations to be Dan Brown.
A few chapters ago, Pudgy Jack told Paul “how limited our resources are, especially space.” It now appears that Pudgy Jack is a big fat liar, because the Apostle family is immediately given “a den of two rooms with a bathroom down the hall.” It has “privacy, ample bedding, and seating.” Because Hell forbid that our hero reside in anything even mildly uncomfortable for a even a little while.
(Honestly, does Jenkins even keep track of what he’s written? I spent most vacations of my childhood in much smaller hotel rooms than this, four people on two double beds in one small room, and now the Apostles have a small apartment while the parents have death sentences hanging over them. Pfft.)
Jae dozes off, praying here and there, “even” for Ranold and Aryanna.
Remind me, what did Aryanna ever do to her, except be really kind to her and her children?
And as for Ranold, aren’t Christians supposed to pray for their enemies?
We’ve been talking lately in the comments about Jenkins’ tin ear for names in specific generations, but it’s important to note that he also screws up common turns of phrase: Jack, another person born in the early 2000s, has this to say:
“I was never military or law enforcement, Paul. Education was my game.”
“X was my game,” is a phrase whose unironic use I only associate with Baby Boomers like…oh, say…Jerry Jenkins. Wanting to be sure of this, I even asked my own parents, also Boomers. My father said it’s a phrase he’s rarely heard even among people his own age, and even then, usually referring to actual games. (“Tennis is my game.” “Poker is my game.”)
Oh, and Paul tells Pudgy Jack that if Wipers squeals to the NPO, “They’ll be on you like Elvis on felt.”
This from a man who would be an elementary-school-aged child right about now.
All this discussion of generational phraseology just to avoid the sadness of Paul’s next conversation with Felicia.
Oh, but first! (I’m avoiding this for as long as I can.)
Jack has an exciting teaser for Paul about the underground’s plans in the wake of this global slaughter:
“Wait till you see what we’re doing with cars and dead people’s clothes.”
We won’t find out for a couple of chapters yet what this is, but trust me: just when you think these people can’t get any more monstrous, they manage it. In fact, this book has a passage (much later) that is the only time in the whole series that my mouth actually dropped open in shock and horror.
Sigh. Okay, enough stalling. On to Felicia.
Paul calls her, and she’s working despite the fact that her son has been dead for only a few hours. I can’t decide if this makes her really dedicated, really being deep in denial, or if Jenkins just forgot what he did to her again.
“I mean, c’mon, Paul, widespread death is pretty hard to argue with.”
“Well, if there’s no God, who killed all the men?”
That’s Felicia talking. She never references her son as an individual, we don’t even know his name, and she refers to his death only as one of the “widespread” ones. Her boy was one of “all the men.”
I’m going with Jenkins forgetting.
Under the circumstances, Felicia is astonishingly forgiving of Paul never saying a word to her about God or the fact that he was a double agent. She excuses everything Paul ever didn’t say to her, even concluding “we still love each other in spite of it all.”
I don’t think Paul is capable of loving anyone, Felicia. Just sayin’.
Oh, and if you think that Paul is calling his good friend and coworker to commiserate or apologize or express sympathy, you probably haven’t been reading these critiques for very long. Paul just wants Felicia’s help. Because he hasn’t done enough for her yet, what with praying for the death of her kid and all.
All he wants right now is for this griefstricken mother to access a file on our pal, Roscoe Wipers. Felicia is pretty okay with this, and says straight up that it’s because she’s scared of God and thinks she’ll be “in trouble” with him if she doesn’t help Paul.
Paul, sensitive as always, has this to say:
“I’m not sure that’s the best motive, Felicia, but I do need your help and have to trust you.”
Yeah, Felicia, how dare you not have “the best motive” when you’ve just discovered that you live in a world with God who will slaughter innocents on the whim of his followers!
Man, almost-RTCs are so dumb sometimes!
As the Apostle family heads through the tunnels to the yet-more-underground (the children must be terrified, since they are given basically zero explanation of anything that’s happening), Jae is thinking not of said children, but of the inevitable meeting with Angela Barger, Andy Pass’s daughter and Pudgy Jack’s niece, a woman she has only seen in pictures and read of through flirtatious correspondence. I see that now that she’s a genuine RTC, Jae has also become expert at keeping her mind on the most important issues at hand.
(Although it seems that Jae has not become magically aware that being RTC makes you magically immune to cheating. Perhaps this is because, even when Jae was an evil atheist, she never did cheat on Paul.)
It turns out that the “underground” is the underground of an abandoned industrial park, where the water and electricity and stuff used to be controlled. Paul is dismayed that it is not as awesome as being in a salt mine, so I’m sure he’ll write a scathing review on Atheistopian Yelp about how such accommodations are beneath his standards.
And here’s Angela! Paul notes only that she looks tired and not overjoyed:
And only the most twisted person would take any joy or find any satisfaction in the “victory” God had wrought, especially when it brought such tragedy.
Too little, too late, Jenkins. You’re the one who told us Paul was “celebrating” the dessication of L.A., so I see no reason why such a sociopath wouldn’t be celebrating the deaths of even more people.
And, by the way (and part of me hates having to keep harping on this point), but good, decent people try to prevent tragedy. They don’t beg for it, then pretend to be a tad remorseful when what they asked for actually happens.
Turns out that Jae’s worries were all for naught, as Anglaa is way more interested in the kids than in Paul. Because this educated woman, formerly employed by the Library of Congress, now teaches little kids about Jesus. Because that is the most important thing someone with her training can do, I guess.
And Angela wants to show the kids a movie: “The Boy Who Gave His Lunch to Jesus.”
Presumably, this is a kids movie about Jesus feeding the five thousand (or four thousand, depending on which version you read) with five loaves and two fishes (or seven loaves, depending on which version you read). It’s a story that seems to enjoy popularity (if Google is any indication) as a way to teach kids what a miracle is, though I amuse myself by noting that in none of the four accounts is it stated in so many words that the boy gave his lunch to Jesus. Instead, Jesus just takes the food and multiplies it.
By the way, this all should prove a dandy lesson to Brie and Connor…
Angela: *switches off the video* So, class that’s what a miracle is. And Jesus still does miracles to this day. Can anyone name a recent one?
Brie: *raises hand* Killing my uncle in cold blood?
Angela: Very good, little heathen!
Jae, still strangely vaccillating between wanting to control her kids’ religious education and being too ashamed of her own ignorance to do it, whispers to Angela that, “The kids have had zero exposure.”
Yeah, I guess we wouldn’t want the other believing kids to make fun of them for being atheists or anything. Because certainly RTC kids would never sneer at nonbelievers!
So, the kids go off to watch the movie and Jae goes off with “another woman” to do womany things like see their quarters and unpack, and Paul is left to go with Pudgy Jack and see the alleged atheist.
Pudgy Jack is quick to point out that they feed the prisoner just like everyone else, and they “don’t treat him bad, don’t torture him.” The way he says it makes it sound like it’s been days, but the curse only happened a couple of hours ago, tops.
Paul actually does something useful for once in his life and identifies the man as a Gulfland NPO agent.
Wipers is actually the kind of guy Paul feared through all of Soon—a fellow agent who has infiltrated the underground but isn’t a traitor like Paul is, and who could inform the NPO of little details like that Paul penned the manifesto about killing firstborn sons.
But it all seems very simple: Wipers checks in with Bia Balaam at 0200 every day, and agrees with Paul to lie to her tonight and tell her everyone has left for a new location that they didn’t tell him.
Yeah, makes total sense.
All that said, Wipers certainly doesn’t behave like a man in the throes of grief after losing his son (presumably because he’s an evil atheist, and we all know they don’t really love their kids), and Paul and Pudgy Jack certainly have zero sympathy for anyone who lost his kid.
And I’m sure they find no satisfaction in this situation. None at all.
request order, the driver takes the Apostle family back to Ranold’s “appropriated” car.
“Our whole lives are in that car,” Paul said. “Let’s risk it.”
Let’s risk Jae’s and your and my lives, dude! And losing our kids!
Honestly, what could possibly be in that car that is worth risking your lives for? All you have is whatever you packed to go to Europe in Silenced. And what Jae and the kids packed to spend an extended vacation at Grandma and Grandpa’s. What precious cargo is in those suitcases besides easily-replaceable clothes and toiletries? I mean, presumably, Paul has been carrying his wallet and Jae has been carrying her purse all this time.
And if there was something so incredibly important that you couldn’t live without it, why didn’t you take it with you when you ditched the car to collect Jae and get picked up by the underground?
Paul is just the worst covert agent ever.
Guess I’m wrong, though, because it’s all just fine. And back in the underground’s car, Paul and Jae have the following whispered conversation:
“Any reason the kids have to know about your mother?”
She shook her head. “We’re going to have to tell them about Berl. They deserve that.”
But they don’t deserve to know their beloved grandmother is dead? I don’t get it.
And it’s not like this is something they’ll be able to fudge over forever. This is already on the news and will always be findable. What are Brie and Connor going to think when they grow up a bit and realize their newly-minted RTC parents lied to them about the death of one of the few people in their lives to show them genuine affection?
Again, though, I guess we’re supposed to assume that it’s fine.
Anyway, they arrive at the underground, which is apparently literally underground, just like the Midwest one.
Bizarrely, given the crazy entering and exiting procedures in Italy, the D.C. underground has twelve entrances, each guarded. Which seems terribly conspicuous, but then, I’m not a super-spy like Paul.
As they travel down to the “complex,” Jae reflects on her children’s lack of religious education:
Jae wasn’t sure either Brie or Connor even had a concept of God. How she would have loved to begin their education about Him with the story of God’s sending His only Son to Earth.
Jae certainly has specific and strong opinions for someone who has read a tiny fraction of the Bible.
How could they be expected to understand Him when it was likely that within a day or two of finding out their parents were God followers, they would learn of His fearsome power to kill?
And to kill their beloved uncle in particular.
She also thinks about how, in Atheistopian schools, “God was simply never mentioned, never acknowledged.” Which seems a bit odd for a world that has outlawed religion entirely because of how religion almost destroyed the planet and all. But it does sound rather like America’s public schools today (or at least, how America’s public schools should be). So I kinda wonder if Jenkins is trying to make a dig at our evil, secular schools, though this seems more subtle than what we generally see from him.
Oh, and don’t worry—in the next chapter, we will see exactly how religious instruction for children is handled in the underground.
Finally, the Apostles meet up with Jack Pass.
Paul hadn’t known what to expect, but certainly not a fortyish man, pudgy and balding. He saw zero resemblance to Jack’s late older brother, under whom he had served in the Special Forces years before. Andrew Pass had been a military cliché: crew cut, trim, ramrod straight, all that.
And, as we all know, no former serviceman could ever lose his hair or gain weight!
I’m sure we are supposed to be most taken aback by Jack’s dreaded weight, but the only thing that even mildly surprises me is that Jack is as young as he is. Because Andy Pass had a thirty-something daughter and had been a father figure to Paul, so there’s apparently a larger-than-average age difference between the brothers.
But who cares about that kind of detail. I mean, the man is pudgy.
Good thing Paul is here to take over. Otherwise, a non-skinny person might have been left in charge!