Babylon Rising, Chapter 39
This is the chapter where shit gets real, folks. A bomb goes off at Preston Community Church.
Which means that things are going to start off in the most exciting manner humanly possible: by hearing about Michael Murphy’s archeological adventures.
“…let me tell you the good news…”
I c wut u did thar, Tim LaHaye!
“They’ve found a piece of Moses’ Brazen Serpent. The one King Hezekiah destroyed in Second Kings, Chapter Eighteen, Verse Four.” There were a few gasps. Clearly some people hadn’t heard the news.
And just as Tim LaHaye imagines how awesome it would be if some pastor was telling an entire congregation just how incredible and life-changing his Michael Murphy’s novels archeological discoveries are, Greg Dinallo realizes that there is a bomb in the basement, and decides to make it go off at a Significant Moment: to wit, just as Pastor Bob is saying of the Hebrews, “…they lost their faith…”
Bomb goes boom.
And Dinallo does a perfectly serviceable job of portraying the odd thoughts that go through a person’s mind during a sudden shocking moment:
…Murphy had time to wonder why Reverend Wagoner was flying through the air toward them before the thunder of the explosion hit…
The stained-glass windows imploded in a shower of red and gold…
Just like on The Tudors!
Murphy was on his feet and without thinking staggered toward the flames beginning to shoot up from the gaping hole behind the shattered pulpit.
Without thinking, indeed. Hurry, Murph! Towards the danger!
Then he remembers that 1) this situation is still dangerous and 2) oh yeah, his wife, and he and Laura get out of the church, already.
Murphy tells Laura that he doesn’t think the explosion was the boiler blowing up. Given his extensive training and expertise in explosives, and all. Or not.
Despite sitting in the front row, when the explosion seemed centered around the pulpit, Laura’s only complaints are that, “My knees are grazed and my elbow hurts a little…”
Murph seems entirely uninjured. ‘Cause he’s a manly man.
Shari stumbles toward them, telling them that they have to find Paul. She’s seen his car in the parking lot, and figures he must have gotten there early…and gone to the basement. Because he’s a dumbass.
So, Murph, hero that he is, decides not to wait for the actual trained emergency personnel, and heads back into the church to get his research assistant’s conversion prospect out of there.
In the church, Murph comes across Pastor Bob. Despite being practically on top of the blast, he has only broken his arm. A woman granted only a first name (Jenny) is dead. Murph sends Bob out (Ah, the classic, “Go, GO! There’s nothing we can do for her! GO!” moment)
Then Murphy gets what I assume the authors thought was a Crowning Moment of Awesome, but to me just comes across as a Crowning Moment of Goofy. The blast ripped a hole in the floor behind the pulpit. (Yeah, and Bob only has a broken arm. Right.)
So instead of climbing down or finding some damn stairs or something, Murphy jumps down the hole.
Let me repeat: he jumps from the first floor to the basement. The floor of the basement, we are told, is concrete.
So, instead of being the hero of the hour by saving Paul, Murphy breaks both his ankles and lies there helpless until the real emergency personnel come to save him.
HA! Just kidding.
He landed in a crouch…shouting above the roar of the collapsing timbers, “Paul! Can you hear me? Paul!”
Murph magically finds Paul’s unconscious body, strangely not also finding the bodies of the three other people lying in the basement, dead or unconscious. He staggers up the steps with Paul in his arms, and firemen break the door to the basement right off its hinges (why didn’t they just, yanno, open it?) just as Murphy reaches the top of the stairs. Wow!
Also, wait, what? The fireman knows Murphy’s name. Why?