Soon: Chapter 8: Roughnecks
Speaking of polluting the natural environment, the three men sit in the air-conditioned stretch limo for a solid hour, eating and looking at wells that are not actually on fire…
…eating box lunches of spicy gazpacho soup and thick slabs of roast beef and ham on sourdough bread.
That’s more description, right there, than we’ve had of Jae.
Also, this is not the first glowing description of food, especially sandwiches, that we’ll see in this series. I get the feeling that Jenkins wrote a lot of the Underground Zealot series just before lunchtime.
The guys finally head to the camp, where we find the roughnecks who had been working at the Miracle
Whip Well have been…
“…isolated in the new building,” Tick said. “It blew on the third day of their work cycle so no one’s expecting them home yet. Easier to keep them here for questioning before going through the formality–” he winked at Paul–“of detaining them in town.”
Tick smiled. “Their rooms have been searched–company property, you know–their phones have been confiscated and their implants disabled. Everyone will be incommunicado until we get to the bottom of this.”
Ummm…if everyone has skull phones in Atheistopia, why does anyone need a handheld phone?
And didn’t we just learn that news of the Miracle Well has already gone viral? And if you knew your husband or boyfriend or son (no mention of the possibility of female roughnecks in Atheistopia, despite the existence of female SWAT officers) was working the Miracle Well…a column of toxic fire, would it actually set your mind at ease when the men working there didn’t send or receive calls for two days? Me, if that was my boyfriend out there, that would scare me. Maybe enough to go out there for myself to make sure he was okay. And maybe enough to find a lawyer for my man once I found out that he was physically okay, but “detained.”
At this point, Tick expresses doubt that religion or the religious are involved with the pillar of fire. We, the readers, know he’s wrong, but that Paul is also wrong, since this is all an innocent and environmentally-disastrous Miracle Straight from God, not sabotage by Christian extremists. (Or Mexicans or “A-rabs” either. I’m looking at you, Donny.)
Still, this is another time that Tick adopts the…dare I say it?…pacifist viewpoint. He gently tried to talk Donny down from “beating the brains out” of the perpetrators, and now he appears to be advocating for a natural explanation for the Miracle Well, as opposed to Bad Guys sabotaging it. And I’m honestly not sure if Jenkins is trying to make Tick seem reasonable, or just a wussy pacifist. After all, the guy is under six feet tall! And height is important! Really important! Otherwise, why would Jenkins be telling us the height and weight and build of every single man we meet in this book, when we don’t even know what color Jae’s hair is?
Paul and Tick drop off Donny, and replace him with Dirk Jefferson, another NPO dude. Other than having a Manly Man name, Jefferson is a nonentity, and has almost nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the story. Certainly, he has no lines that couldn’t just as easily be spoken by Tick. If this was a movie, I’d think that Dirk Jefferson was an excuse for the director to give his brother-in-law a part.
Then Tick makes the following astonishing statement:
“We’re using the rooms at the far end of each hall for questioning. There was some Internet buzz, but we clamped down fast and tight enough to keep the press off it.”
This just defies all logic, it really does. A pillar of white-hot fire, hundreds of feet high and spewing toxic fumes into the air, is getting “some Internet buzz,” everyone in the area has been rendered incommunicado, and the press and general public have not picked up on this at all?
Finally, from down the hall, we get some action. Even if it is off-screen. Turns out a guard was picking on one of “the Mexicans” (the Mexicans are never individually named) and a big guy named Stephen Lloyd tried to stop the bullying.
Tick, to his credit, says that anyone else, including guards, who step out of line will be prosecuted.
And they haul off Stephen Lloyd, to begin his….mwoo-ha-ha-HA…”questioning.”