Soon: Chapter 17: Curses!

People seem to be curious about this whole New York Curse thing, so I thought I’d make up for lost time with two posts in two days, wooooo!!!

Okay, this is all pretty stupid and needlessly complicated and most of it is never fully explained even after Paul conducts his “investigation,” but here goes:

There is a New York brokerage firm named Demetrius & Demetrius.  It is run by, you guessed it, the brothers Demetrius, Ephesus and Arthur.

Yeah, Jenkins clearly is a fan of the name Demetrius.  In the Left Behind series, there’s a martyred Greek evangelist named…Demetrius Demeter.

Because he’s Greek.

Anyway, a whistleblower at the firm told the cops that the brothers were going to try to corner the silver market.  Then, a different employee accused Ephesus directly of trying to manipulate the market, and he “dressed her down” (oh baby) and then she responded with Bible verses, which Ephesus took as a curse, and fired her.


Turns out that Manhattan is “one of the most superstitious places on earth,” according to Koontz.  Paul is surprised (as am I) that “superstition” (by which Jenkins means “curses,” fortune-telling, Tarot, I Ching, astrology, etc.) is not illegal, not like real religion.

On the curse(s) specifically:

Paul checked his file for the so-called curse verse.  It was Job 27:19: “The wicked go to bed rich but wake up to find that all their wealth is gone.”

Ephesus had mocked her [the employee], calling her a witch and challenging her to make his wealth disappear.  She denied having that ability but warned that greed and duplicity would be punished, if not by the government then by a higher power.  She castigated him with Revelation 21:8: “The corrupt, and murderers, and the immoral, and those who practice witchcraft, and idol worshippers, and all liars–their doom is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.”

Ephesus had said, “Doom?  Prove it?”  He fired her then promptly disappeared. 

So, Ephesus is missing.

Two guards went down to the company’s vault (for reasons best known to themselves, I guess), and emerged catatonic, their hair turned white.  No one’s been in the vault since then.

And the hell-threatening employee is missing.

Maybe Ephesus built a bridge out of her.


I can’t believe I’m using brain cells to keep track of this stuff.


Posted on August 4, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. It still sounds more entertaining than it probably is.

    Okay, so astrology and Tarrot and Feng Shui are still legal. Fine, it was already mangamous of Jenkins that he acknowledged other ‘real religions’ were banned (even if the ban was fully justified for those other religions, natch), but why would manhattan be “one of the most superstitious places on earth”? I can see what he was going for, he probably thinks all these non-Abrahamic supernatural beliefs thrive with the dreaded liberal elite in Manhattan. But that would at best make it one of the most superstitious places in the US. I’m pretty sure that things like astrology and all those asian superstitions are still more popular in, y’know, Asia. And tarrot and voodoo are probably more widely believed in places like the Carabieen. But I guess it’s too much for Jerry “America, Fuck Yeah!” Jenkins to think of stuff like that.

    Oh, and once again we see that RTCs are useless. When dealing with a fraudulent boss, the non-RTC employee contacted the authorities. The RTC went to the boss and told him what a bad man he was and quoted some Bible verses on him, so she could be smugly superior if it blew up in his face. And Ephesus is apparently a mustache twirling villian who goes “Yes, I’m an evil man, and there’s nothing you can do about it, Haw Haw Haw”.

    Oh, and if it turns out God killed the banker with another miracle, I think it’s high time we hold God responsible for every crime committed that he didn’t bother to intervene in. Both in real life, and in this universe.

  2. she responded with Bible verses

    and he promptly said “Security! We’ve got a Christian in here!”


    It’s a good example of the joy of quote-picking, though. I mean, look at the rest of Job, which could reasonably be summarised as “the righteous man goes to bed rich but wakes up to find all his wealth is gone. And his family. And his house. And…”

    Ivan, I’m now picturing CSI: Atheistopia. About five minutes into each show, the lead investigator turns to the camera and says “OK, we know God did it. Now we need to fake up something our bosses will believe.”

    • Nice one. Though if it’s broadcasted by the Atheist propaganda machine, I’d expect the inverse: A show where unexplained phenomena occur, and a shifty eyed and ugly man warns then that this is the wrath of God (if they’re being fair, they can rotate this guy quoting from the Bible, Tora, Quran etc.), and then it turns out the religious guy orchestrated the whole thing as part of a sinister plot. It’s the future, so the copyright on Scooby Doo probaby expired by now.

      And you’re also right, we have an evil buisnessman who needs to get rid of an employee who knows too much… and has just quoted verses from religous book who’s mere posession is illegal and (as we saw with Straight) having knowledge of the passages is very suspicious in and of itself. Any conspiracy worth it’s salt would, in a world where religion is so fiercly outlawed, do their utmost best to implicate their enemies as being religious, and this woman hands him the evidence on a silver platter. This is like walking up to a shady buisnessman in Nazi Germany, tell him you’re on to him and then mention you’re a gay gipsy who recently converted to Judaism.

      I guess we’re supposed to think he didn’t know they were Bible verses, and thought they were perfectly legal curses (seriously Jenkins, that is allowed? Little consistency is all I ask for. That, and you getting into a non-fatal, not too painfull but highly humiliating and public accident involving 2 pounds of butter, a silk rope and a goat.), but for an evil mastermind, it should still be enough grounds to try and sick the Atheistapo on her, and perhaps leave a cross in her desk drawer just before they come knocking on the door.

    • Hmm, when reading Ruby’s description, that might actually still be on the table. His disapperance could be trying to draw attention to the woman, and get the Atheistapo interested.

      Am I reading it correctly that both Ephesus AND the woman are missing? “He fired her then promptly disappeared.” sounds like it’s the man that vanished, and Ruby later states the woman is gone. Am I reading it wrong or did they both disappear? In that case, my plan probably won’t work (why would he want to make her disappear and frame her at the same time), and I got to wonder how Paul knows what the woman and Ephesus said to each other? I can’t imagine Ephesus held his “I’m so evil, and I will fire you for questioning me.” in front of the entire staff, so who told the Atheistapo? Actually, even if only one of them is gone it makes no sense. The woman wouldn’t want to inform the police she quoted Bible verses, and Ephesus wouldn’t want to tell about this if he made her disappear just now.

      • Yes, they both disappeared. Ephesus fired the women, and then disappeared himself. And the woman also cannot be found. Since she was fired, this makes slightly more sense.

  3. Two guards went down to the company’s vault (for reasons best known to themselves, I guess), and emerged catatonic, their hair turned white. No one’s been in the vault since then.

    Wait, what?? If they were catatonic, and no one else has been down there, how the heck did they emerge? Was this just glossed over for brevity here, or was it really written that badly?

  4. Ok- obvious solution:

    1. Goddidit. He killed Ephesus somehow, and his body hasn’t been found yet. Or sent him on the Express Elevator to Hell. Or something. And then, as the woman said, he made Ephesus’ wealth disappear. And since the employee was a Christian, she just went underground.

    Or we have a couple more interesting solutions:

    1. Ephesus killed the woman, perhaps taking the money with him (the guards would logically still be in a massive state of shock at seeing all the money disappear, after all.) Then, after hiding the woman’s body, he goes on the run himself, and make it look like a completely different culprit was responsible for both disappearances. Heck, bonus points if he then “reappears”, claiming to have been kidnapped, or even on the run from the criminals.

    It would even fit Jenkins’ EEVIL GREEDY ATHEISTS paradigm, That seems a bit clever and elaborate for Jenkins, though.

    2. The woman did it. Kills Ephesus, either takes the money or assumes God will magic it away somehow, and goes underground.

    Even less likely than #1, because it doesn’t fit the Good Person= Christian pattern he’s setting, and the second-to-last thing I would accuse Jenkins of is being nuanced.

    There are a couple other theories that involve a human third party, but they are less likely, so I won’t waste my time. Either Ephesus or God did it, with God at a 95% probability, particularly given the emphasis on “miracles” thus far. So… how long is it going to take for this part of the book to end?

    • Choir of Shades

      Even less likely than #1, because it doesn’t fit the Good Person= Christian pattern he’s setting, and the second-to-last thing I would accuse Jenkins of is being nuanced.

      We are talking about Jerry Jenkins, right? I’m not sure his idea of a “good person” matches either of ours. Remember that this is a group that thinks that people who perform abortions and the women who seek them should die. That people who don’t believe the same things as them should be tortured for an infinite amount of time. Jenkins’ “Good People” are total sociopaths, so I really fail to see how that objection fits. My only problem is that Jenkins’ “Good People” are generally also much more ineffectual than that. Killing the bad guy and absconding with his fortune is TOO heroic for them.

      • Even though the Ebul Atheist is a “Bad Person”, I really don’t think that even he would be idiotic or bigoted enough to call killing somebody, presumably stealing their money, and then escaping from the police idiotic enough to be considered a “heroic act”. Perhaps I’m giving Jenkins too much credit as a person here, but if that is true, he is not only flipping off the moral codes of modern society, he is flipping off the moral codes of his Holy scriptures, since then both “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not steal” would have to have “Unless you’re a RTC, then everything’s cool.” Oh, and that’s ignoring Jesus’ order to- at least to some degree- obey established authority, such as Matthew’s famous “Rendering unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.” That is reaching Phelps level crazy.

        It is true that he believes that we’re all going to fry eternally after we die, and that taking care of the world until the Rapture is JUST WACKY. And I will definitely eat crow if I’m giving JJ too much credit here. I simply believe that arguing that murdering a man (presumably?) in cold blood, then stealing his fortune, would be incapable of being spun into a heroic act. JJ’s Christians have thus far not been completely sociopathic, and I don’t believe he would want his readers to see them as such. Ergo, although I CAN see the possibility, which is why I concluded it, (and could even see a hypothetical spin that JJ could make), I’d give it a 1-2% chance of being correct.

        Again, I am going to be reading and commenting from now on, and expect me to be mocking myself if I’m wrong. I just… don’t see it.

        • My opinion is that RTC heroes in these books are sociopaths, but not psychopaths. They would smile as the evil atheist suffered and lost his wealth, but they wouldn’t, of their own accord, murder them in their sleep and take his stuff.

          (I hope I don’t have the medical definitions of sociopath and psychopath wrong here)

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            The folk definition I’ve used has been “A psychopath cannot tell or understand the difference between right and wrong. A sociopath can but doesn’t care.”

    • The woman did it, using God as her murder weapon. (After all, God in this setting generally only does stuff when people pray for it to happen.) In other words, she really did curse him.

      • Ah, I see. I was treating this as a straight mystery, thus making things unclear, which was stupid. I apologize to Choir, for misunderstanding.

        However, I don’t know that you can call God a “murder weapon” so much as an accomplice. The fact that people in Africa, South America, the Middle East, etc. are continually suffering from poverty and political discrimination is indicative that God only chooses the prayers that he wants to answer. Thus, the fact that he chose to answer to this one prayer for the man to die, makes him just as guilty to the murder as she is. I assume that Jenkins is going to spin a way around that, though.

        • Choir of Shades

          Nah don’t apologize. That wasn’t what I had in mind. After all the crap I’ve seen Jenkins pull out, I could buy the full murder + theft of fortune, with the explicit message that this person was an atheist and “attacked” Christians.

          Remember a couple posts ago? The one where we noted that Paul is asked by the *snrk* Watchmen to “take care” of other non-Christians/non-RTCs? And Paul follows through, executing otherwise basically innocent people and this is morally upstanding because they weren’t RTCs. Yeah, I can’t in good conscience give Jenkins the benefit of the doubt here.

          • Choir of Shades

            To clarify, I could buy the murder for reasons explicitly laid out, and I can buy the theft as a “just reward for the noble crusader” type thing.

  5. I could see the frame-up, it just seems… too strange. There would be such simpler ways of doing that, especially if Ephesus himself is responsible for the woman’s disappearance. But even if he isn’t, it’s just so convoluted. I mean, even after she was fired, she was an employee there, right? So logically, he’d have her information. Even if he didn’t think of it at the time, he should have still been able to perhaps plant info at the office that she was a Christian (if, for some reason, he felt being into the occult wouldn’t have been enough to report her), and then leave it at that.

    • Um, this is the writer who came up with the Todd-Cothran/Stonagal plot in the LB, right? Convoluted and pointless is kind of Jenkin’s thing when it comes to bad guys. I think we will find out that God is behind Ephesus (really? in post-Atheist america?) disappearance and the woman will show up in the salt mines, er underground railroad.

      Actually, if even owning a bible is illegal, I can see how people would be unable to identify a bible verse as such and mistake it for a direct threat from the speaker. I’m still really unclear on Paul’s job so I can see him being in charge of all “spiritual” expressions, especially those that come across as threatening. I got the impression that only Paul or someone in his office recognized her words as biblical.

  6. And no one’s been in the vault since? There’s something in the vault that reduces people to catatonia and nobody’s gone in to see what it is?


    And why would they send in FBI agents? (That’s basically what our hero is, right?) Shouldn’t they be sending in CDC agents in full biocontainment suits?

    Also, while stories are rife with people’s hair turning white in an instant, that doesn’t really happen. In order for hair to be white/grey, the pigment inside the hair itself has to disappear. If you’ve ever tried to lighten dark hair, you know how difficult that really is. Now, it’s possible for illness to make all future hair grow in without pigment through damage to the hair follicle, but all previously grown hair would still be the former pigmented color.

    /pedantic science stuff

    • PF, I should think a sufficiently high dose of ionising radiation could break down the chemical bonds of the pigment. Depending on what frequency and dose, the guards are either going to the burns ward or dying of radiation sickness, but hey, it’s all in a good cause, right?

  7. Turns out that Manhattan is “one of the most superstitious places on earth,” according to Koontz. Paul is surprised (as am I) that “superstition” (by which Jenkins means “curses,” fortune-telling, Tarot, I Ching, astrology, etc.) is not illegal, not like real religion.

    I could probably see something like this happening. I mean, there’s still a generation or two of people who lived before the establishment of the atheistopia, and you can’t just turn off all the little cultural traditions and superstitions that people live with for their whole lives. They certainly wouldn’t disappear within the lifetime of the very people who created this new world, and it would probably be expensive to invest too many resources to policing such meaningless little things. It was apparently well within the employer’s rights to fire a woman over a curse, and it does say that she disappeared. If she wasn’t taken by the secret police (too subtle, not their style) she could easily have been hidden by her Christian contacts for protection, before the secret police got around to investigating.

    But then I remember that this is a Jenkins book, and that there’s probably a simpler and less interesting explanation. “Those hypocritical atheists don’t really care about rationality! If they did, they wouldn’t be led astray by fortune-telling and other witchcraft! More evidence that they just hate God!” Or something along those lines.

    • Actually, the superstition thing is one of the few things in this book that makes sense to me. In Leyshon and Thrift’s monograph *Money/Space*, a sociological study of the financial industry, one of the things they found was that financiers tend, as a general rule, to be massively superstitious. L and T’s explanation for this is that financiers are in a high-stress profession full of uncertainty and difficult-to-explain phenomena, so they cling to anything which seems to provide some sort of explanation and/or way of enhancing their chances of increasing their wealth. But, obviously, I doubt Jenkins knew about this study, so I think he just got it right by accident.

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