Babylon Rising, Chapter 37
Time for action, folks! Time for the threads of Paul and Shari’s tentative romance/conversion attempt, the finding of the Serpent by the Murphy’s, and the evil plot of The Seven, Talon, and the erstwhile Chuck, all to come together in an action set piece.
Things start out with a bang (ha!) as Paul’s heart skips a beat when he shows up at Preston Community Church, “…and he was not sure it was because he was about to see Shari or because he was about to choose to enter a church for the first time.” (Emphasis theirs)
Do LaHaye and Dinallo know any non-Christians at all? I mean, I know Paul is quite young, maybe twenty or so. But it seems quite impossible to me that he has lived in the U.S. for his entire life, and never chosen to enter a church. Heck, I was raised in a secular home, and went to church for weddings, christenings, community events, etc. What the heck?
Making an utterly stupid decision that serves only to make sure that Paul is Where He Needs To Be, Paul decides not to go in the open front door of the church, but instead to track down the other door (that he assumes exists) that leads directly down to the basement, “to show Shari he was sincere about helping out with the clothing sorting.”
This is dumb on two levels. First, why does Paul assume that even volunteers should not go in the open front door? Wouldn’t he then ask to be directed to the basement to help? Dumbass.
Second, Paul turns out to be completely wrong, though I’m not sure if it’s his fault or Shari’s. Because clothing sorting is not going on at this time, and it appears from subsequent events that it was never planned to happen, at least not until the end of the meeting. Shari probably should have either explained this to Paul or planned to meet him in front of the church; but either way, there wouldn’t have been a problem if Paul had gone in the open front door.
So, he goes to the closed, steel door that leads to narrow wooden stairs. His eyes need to adjust “to the gloom,” so either there is no light switch, or Paul is too stupid to turn it on. Oh, and hey, genius, maybe you should go in the open door instead of the closed one that leads down stairs into the dark. Because maybe, just maybe, the fact that it is dark is an indication that the activity that is supposed to take place in that room has not yet begun? Maybe?
Damn, but Paul is a dumbass.
So he finally finds a light switch, and turns it on, and sees the boxes ready for clothing-sorting.
“Hello, I’m here to volunteer,” he called. “Where is everybody?”
They’re not there, you stupid, whiny child. They’re upstairs, where there was an open front door to let them in.
But, of course, Paul decides against backtracking and going upstairs. Instead, he decides to explore the gloomy, deserted basement, in the tradition of thousands of stupid teenagers before him who didn’t realize they were in a horror movie.
So, Paul trips over a body.
Color me shocked.
A young man is lying dead on the floor. Paul checks for a pulse and finds none. But, again, instead of going back upstairs (perhaps this time, running), “a single thought came to him with piercing clarity. ‘Shari!’”
Okay, I get his concern. Sort of. Though there is no real reason to think that Shari is down there, instead of upstairs on the first floor of the church, with everyone else, or waiting on the lawn or the parking lot, wondering where her dumb convert-prospect could possibly be.
Still, even if he thought Shari was in danger, wouldn’t it be better to go get help? Hell, there could be twenty guys down there. With sticks. And dogs. And Paul thinks he can take these twenty guys? Dumbass.
He stumbles around like a fool, and sees…another body. “A girl. But not Shari.”
Oh. Well, then I guess it’s okay.
Just as he’s checking her pulse (it’s there, but “faint”), Chuck Nelson accosts him. The two idiots banter back and forth for an entire page. “Have you got a cell phone?” “Gee, I think I left it at home.”
Then, Chuck speaks for the entire reading audience, telling Paul that “I’m getting a little tired of your whining.” Then Chuck (or possibly Talon—it’s unclear) knocks Paul out.