Soon: Chapter 16: I C Wut U Did
The underground salt mine RTCs listen to Straight tell the story of the most fascinating thing in the entire world: Paul Apostle.
They also take Straight at his word that the whole Paul-getting-his-sight-back was a miracle, even though, as we’ve discussed, it might well not be. Seriously, Jenkins, these “miracles”…pics or they didn’t happen.
When Straight mentions the trip to Washington and “the figurative opening of Paul’s eyes,” Angela feels the need to chime in:
“[My sons and I left Washington] one step ahead of Bia Balaam, who was responsible for the killings following the blossom miracle.”
“Bia means ‘force’ or ‘might’ in Greek,” Straight said. “In Greek mythology, Bia set up the torment of Prometheus.”
“That’s fitting,” said Angela. “Her specialty is intimidation. She masterminded my father’s death and a snake attack at the Asclepian Zoo, and now the latest atrocities—a Christian leader crushed in the machinery at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing…”
Wait, what?? Bia masterminded some guy getting crushed in a coin-press?
Okay, I know that’s awful, but it also makes me giggle at little on the inside.
Yeah, I’m going straight to Hell.
Oh, and nice job, Straight and Angela, pointing out how fitting Bia’s name is. It’s almost like she has that name on purpose, as though she was a character in a novel instead of a real person, and the author was trying to be all meaningful with her name…
“And Angela means ‘angel,’” Straight continued. “Even though in the Bible, angels are often sword-wielding harbingers of doom, pre-Atheistopian popular culture portrayed them as gentle helpers of humanity.”
“That’s fitting,” said Angela. “After all, I don’t seem to have any faults, and am meant to be all innocent and sweet. Except maybe for falling for an abusive jerk, but I don’t think readers are meant to see that as a fault.”
“And your father’s name was ‘Andrew,’” Straight said. “Andrew means ‘manly’ or ‘warrior’ in Greek. In the Bible, Andrew was an apostle who was eventually martyred for his faith.”
“That’s fitting,” said Angela. “Even though Dad left his shelter without a weapon, and even though he forgot he had a biochip in his arm that could identify him, just like we all have, he’s clearly meant to be a noble, martyred Christian warrior. And it’s fitting that he’s named after an apostle, too—after all, Paul is supposed to be a direct corollary to the apostle Paul.”
“And Stuart is an Old English name meaning ‘steward,’” Straight said. “A steward administers an estate. And in the Bible, God tells Ananias to go to Straight Street to meet Saul of Tarsus, who becomes Paul.”
“That’s fitting,” said Angela. “You’ve basically taken charge of Paul’s entire life, displacing even his wife, acting as though Paul is your own private estate over which you have complete control. And it’s extra fitting that your nickname should just so happen to have a parallel in the story of Paul.”
Hat tip to himself taken care of, Jenkins gets his characters down to business—Straight is there to plead Paul’s case (without Paul’s knowledge or consent, mind you) as a double agent in the NPO, spying for the zealots.
Looks like Straight ignores personal space not only in the physical sense (touching people who have asked not to be touched), but in an emotional and professional sense, too. Paul has certainly not volunteered to be a part of God’s Army of Super Secret Squirrel Spies.
Abraham, the older man, has some concerns. And, refreshingly, he has concerns for Paul as well as for the zealots. He cites the danger Paul would be putting himself in every day, as well as the chance that Paul might flip and reveal them all to the NPO.
Straight addresses the concerns for Paul’s safety about as you’d expect:
“I know him,” Straight said. “I trust him. I’m not a fool. If I thought there was a chance in a million he wasn’t who I think he is, I’d never have brought it up. We need help in high places. You don’t get much higher than this guy.”
Wow, I can see that concern for your friend’s safety is really eating away at you, Straight. You tool.
(Mind you, it’s not like I give a crap about Paul’s safety, either, but I’m not advertising myself as his only friend. And btw, nobody is considering the danger to Jae and Brie and Connor if Paul becomes a double agent.)
I find it very odd that after more than 30 years in Atheistopia, the underground hasn’t found a way to place a double agent in the NPO. Hell, they could have trained somebody from childhood to be their Secret Agent Man (you know they’d never send a woman) by now. Honestly, it took them three decades to find someone? Lazy asses, the lot of them.
But now Straight has found someone. And maybe it’s just me, but his tone seems to convey that this was his plan from the moment he met Paul: to turn Paul to their side and then convince him to become their double agent.
Check out the way Straight talks about Paul:
“I’ve become involved with a very unusual convert,” he began, “one in a unique position to help us. But there are also huge risks. His father-in-law was one of the original big guns in the NPO. The convert himself is an agent.”
He described how he had met Paul. “The nurses had asked me to check on him. His bitterness was interfering with his healing, and he had alienated his family. But he was also listening to the New Testament on disc.”
Even ignoring the way Straight phrases that (it sounds like the nurses told him about the NT discs as a positive thing, although that does not seem possible), the whole thing reads to me like Straight had a master plan from the beginnning. This plan appears to be:
1. Devote all spare time to being hospital volunteer.
2. Find NPO agent who is also coincidentally listening to the NT on disc.
3. Sit around and wait for him (of course it’s a he) to become a Christian.
I mean, I’m glad everything is working out for the zealots and all, but this does not seem like the most organized bunch ever. They have the luxury of designing plans that take years to come to fruition, and they settle for chancing upon an agent who just so happens to be one of the handful of people on the planet who are allowed to read the Bible?
But hey, who needs plans when you are true believers who get “such an obvious gift from God“?
And that is what clinches it: Paul is a gift to them from God, so regardless of his consent, Abraham decides to meet with him and scout him out as their new pet spy.
You can tell that these RTCs are all about free will.