Soon: Chapter 19: The Really for Real Miracle

Yeah, I’m totally not kidding, guys.

But first, a promise: as soon as Paul leaves New York, the next post will be the End Times Timeline post. 

Hey, if I say it, I have to do it, right?  😀

On to the Spooky and Mysterious Vault!

Post-suicide Arthur is scared to go:

“Can I just give you the access codes and tell you how to do it?”

“The warrant calls for your presence.”

Arthur slumped.

Shortly thereafter:

To get the car to reach the subbasement, Arthur had to have both eyes scanned, have both hands read by print machines, and turn two keys simultaneously.  Voice and DNA recognition technology opened the jetvator, and then he had to go through all that and more to open the floor-to-ceiling vault himself.

So when Arthur just offered to give Paul the access codes and tell him how to get in, was he planning to gouge out both his eyes and chop off both his hands?  Because I don’t see how else Paul could get in by himself.

The vault turns out to be not particularly spooky…except…something sparkly is in the air…

It’s a sparkly vampire!

 Just kidding.  Sparkly vampires aren’t very RTC.

“Vaporized silver!” Arthur said behind his hand.  “Gone to powder.”

“How does that happen?” Paul said.

“It doesn’t.  It’s impossible.”

Meh, I guess I’ll take your word for it Arthur.  Not feeling the Google right now.

So, there’s impossible silver dust in the air.

I bet you will never in a million billion years guess what they find in the next room!

There on the floor of the special room sat a man who looked very much like a statue of Arthur.  His eyes were open.  He did not move.  And he was covered, every millimeter from head to toe–hair, face, shirt, tie, suit, socks, and shoes–with silver dust.

Paul retreated slowly.  “Arthur, is that your brother–?”

SHIT JUST GOT REAL, YO.

“Ephesus!  Ephesus!” Arthur screamed, pushing past.  “You have become what you loved so much!”

Thanks, Arthur.  We never would have gotten the whole Midas thing without you.

So, honestly, I do kinda think this is the first real miracle of the book.  Every other miracle could be adequately explained via natural causes.  But if Arthur is right and silver can’t be vaporized, then I think God must’ve actually silver-blasted Ephesus and left him there.

I am wondering how he died, though.  Did God choke him with silver dust?  It must have happened pretty quickly, because Ephesus didn’t have a chance to use his skull phone to call for help.

Oh, and I need to tell you one last thing: we never do find out what happened to the woman.  Did Ephesus kill her?  Did she just leave?  Did something else happen?  We will never know.

Which also raises a point: was it really fair or nice of God to kill Ephesus with silver?  What did he do that was deserving of this unique, horrific fate?

Discuss!

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Posted on September 3, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 68 Comments.

  1. O_O

    I just don’t even this chapter. I mean, I see the words, but I don’t see any possible or reasonable explanation for what the fuck Jenkins was doing.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I don’t see any possible or reasonable explanation for what the fuck Jenkins does, period. Guess that’s why he’s the Greatest Christian Author of All Time.

      P.S. HC, that still in the posting’s gonna give me nightmares, I just know it.

  2. Well, I guess you could atomise silver; it would probably settle out eventually, but it might take a while. Breathing the dust would be a mildly bad idea.

    I can’t see any way of plating someone in silver quickly without also doing fairly substantial damage to them – to the point that they wouldn’t be recognisable. Maybe he was killed first and then plated slowly.

    • Yeah, you can atomize pretty much anything with enough heat. (According to Wikipedia, silver boils at 2435K.) How fast it settles back out of the air depends on the particle size.

      One (admittedly rare nowadays) method of making precision mirrors uses vapor deposition of silver: flash vaporize the silver using an electrical current in a vacuum chamber, and have it settle on the electrically charged glass surface. Aluminum is used more often for this now because it’s cheaper, and because aluminum oxide is transparent while silver oxide is not.

      • *chinhands* Please, tell me more. 😀 (no, I’m not being a smartarse)

        • Well, heard some of the history while on a tour of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich, BC, many years ago. When making big precision mirrors such as for telescopes, vapor deposition is the usual process, because you can do it with a large vacuum chamber and a good set of electrodes; you don’t need to get into any chemical baths or the like, which quite often involve toxic chemicals.

          The Wikipedia page on Silvering goes into some other process details, like the fact that you normally use aluminum if it’s on the front of a mirror because when aluminum oxidizes the (sapphire) oxide is still transparent. Silver is a better reflector, though, so is often used if the back of the mirror is what you’re coating. Most telescope mirrors are reflective on the front side, which is why silver isn’t used much for that anymore: the mirror becomes less useful over the years.

          Of course, aluminum being plentiful and cheaper than silver is actually relatively recent in terms of mirror-making, because silver is a whole lot easier to purify. Metallic silver has been available since ancient times; metallic aluminum wasn’t really made in industrial quantities until the mid-1800s or so.

          • …you don’t need to get into any chemical baths or the like, which quite often involve toxic chemicals.

            Hmm, toxic chemicals for plating? Wouldn’t it have been a pity if Ephesus (really? Ephesus??) had encountered some of these toxic chemicals?
            (Not a serious hypothesis, since obviously Goddidit and doesn’t need chemicals.)

            And BTW, I’m a former jeweler who preferred silver, and I live right near the University of Arizona’s telescope mirror lab, where they make the biggest mirrors in the world, and for that reason. So, between Jenora and me, we should be able to handle just about any silver-related questions that come up.

          • Interesting info! I took a class once on materials chemistry so I know a little about vapor deposition, but heaven help me if I remember any details at all. So this stuff is fun to learn more about (especially when it’s not for grades. 😛 )

            To clarify: Are telescope mirrors, then, not coated with aluminum oxide? If so, that must make them very expensive to keep clean since silver tarnishes in air.

          • Well, telescope mirrors are always coated on the front, because if the light has to travel through the glass before getting to the mirror surface, it gets refracted and you get spectral diffraction. (I.e., prism effects where different colours go in different directions.) But if you coat a mirror on the front with silver, it tarnishes and becomes less useful. If you coat it with aluminum, though, (even though aluminum isn’t quite as good a reflective surface), then it stays useful even after the top surface oxidizes, and the bottom layer stays reflective.

            So modern reflecting telescopes always use aluminum as the base mirror because it means you don’t have to clean it off after a few years.

            But older reflecting telescopes did use silver, because it was a better reflector and because silver used to be a lot easier to get and process than aluminum.

          • BTW, I’d guess that the amount of silver needed would be a trivial cost, compared to the cost of actually doing it.

  3. Just as well that you didn’t sic Google on this. I just tried searching for “silver vaporize” (without the quotation marks). First page was all regarding Silver Surfer Vaporizers (apparently some kind of tobacco apparatus)…

  4. I don’t know WTF either. But it would appear that God really doesn’t like people who hoard silver; while he’s OK with people who burn other people alive. After all, we’ve not heard about anything bad happening to the Christian-hunting goons that Paul presumably still hangs around with.

    As for the silver thing, I googled for “vaporized silver” and found this: http://77vaporizers.com/silver-surfer-vaporizer.html Maybe this explains Ephesus’ death…?

    And srsly? Somebody named their kid Ephesus?. And when his brother sees he’s dead, he actually calls him that – not a shortening or a nickname?

    My head’s shaking so much, it’s gonna fall off.

  5. Mrs. Grimble, what is Arthur supposed to call him? Effie? Phesus? Why am I once again hung up on a small detail when there’s so much wrong to deal with?

    • That’s what I’m wondering – surely Arthur, in such a shocking discovery, wouldn’t address his brother by his full name?
      Siblings, in my experience, usually have nicknames or private names for each other. For instance, I have a sister named Margaret; it was only about 10 years ago (we are both well into middle-age) that she rather testily asked me to please stop calling her ‘Maggot’ in front of other people. 😀
      I’m also wondering – why did his parents call him Arthur? And not Troy, or some other ancient Middle-eastern city?

    • How about “bro”? Anything’s better than “Ephesus”!

  6. There’s so much wrong here, it’s hard to know where to begin. I’m pretty sure one can reduce silver powder, since that’s one of the ingredients of dental almalgam, so either I have some impossible fillings or Arthur has no idea what he’s talking about. Speaking of Arthur, I find it hard to believe that anyone would say “You’ve become what you loved!” on finding their brother dead by…electroplating? (Or did he literally get turned to silver? I mean, really, wtf is supposed to have happened here?) I’m thinking “Oh my god!” and “Noooo!” are far more likely responses.

    And how do we know this was God and not black magic, anyway? I mean, yes, the person who cursed him claims to be a Christian, but… Oh, wait, in this universe God is one of the Elder Gods. Nevermind.

    (And I must join the people wondering what kind of parents named their kid Ephesus – especially when their other kid is named Arthur. It sounds more like a bad D&D group where you have Anlyth the elf, Bob the fighter, and Cheetobreath the gnome.)

  7. Okay, there is once again so much wrong here, I’m bringing in bullet points.

    If it is impossible to vaporize silver, which neccesarily implies Arthur could never have seen any, how the hell does Arthur recognize it immediately when he sees it? I’m sure there are ways to have somthing sparkle in the air that are not “impossible”.

    What kind of search warrant demands a certain suspect is nearby when you search it? I’m not up-to-date with police procedures, but I can’t imagine this is normal. And why would the Atheistapo need Arthur there?

    Why would this sight immediately send two guards cataconic? Okay, it looks freaky, but it doesn’t sound like something you’d be unable to ever speak, even days after the event. For all they know, Ephesus might have really made a silver statue of himself. It sounds kinda weird that this would traumatise two guards, but not really affect Arthur, the man’s brother, all that much.

    If every buisnessman who committed financial fraud was mysteriously killed in an ironic way, we’d see a few dozen people drowned in oil every month, and several times that people choked on a mouthfull of bank cheques. Why does Jenkins think God would bring out the miracles for this? And if he admits this is a totally fictional story, does he realize how much of an asshole he is and (more importantly) how much of an asshole he makes God by deciding he’ll bring out a ton of lethal yet pointless miracles? I mean, the sight of his brother wasn’t neccesary for him to lap up the RTC-propaganda, so God could’ve locked Ephi in his appartment for a few days and gotten the same result there. And why, oh why, are the RTCs who buy these books fine with all this, yet never question why their ‘persecuters’ aren’t stricken by lightning bolts.

    BTW, those two guards got into the vault, so perhaps Arthur planned to give some other guard who also had access to the vault orders to let Arthur in. Still doesn’t explain why he would need to give Paul the access codes though, since that guard could’ve filled that in himself. And punching in an access code is the one thing Jenkins doesn’t describe him doing.

    • ‘And if he admits this is a totally fictional story, does he realize how much of an asshole he is and (more importantly) how much of an asshole he makes God by deciding he’ll bring out a ton of lethal yet pointless miracles?’

      I just realized that TurboJesus is The Spectre in this series. Except this one would have succumbed to the Red Ring.

  8. inquisitiveraven

    Actually, the one thing that’s easily explained is the lack of a call for help on the skull phone. Vaults tend to be made of metal, half meter thick metal. Seal that shut and it’s impossible to get a signal out. I should know, my cell phone’s been stymied by less than that in a college gym. I’d think sealing the vault would be required just to keep the victim from running out.

  9. Silver-FINGEERRRR!
    He’s the man, the man with the argent touch!
    An alarming touch!
    Such … a bitter finger
    Beckons you, to enter his vault of sin
    But don’t go in

    Silver words he will pour on your brain
    But the greed that he feeds stays unchanged
    Any broker knows when he meets him
    It’s a conference of death with Mister … Silverfinger

    (wah waaaah wah)

    Christian spies, beware of his HEART OF SILVER!
    Nothing rhymes with silver

  10. I should toss out there, for those who don’t know, that these Demetrius brothers are surely based on the real-life Hunt brothers, Nelson & William, who tried (and somewhat succeeded) to corner the silver market back in 1979-80. Just in time for the price of silver to drop 80%, to just about what it was before they started manipulating the market.

    And for good measure, Nelson at least is a John Bircher now, and, aw heck, I’ll just quote the whole Wikipedia paragraph:

    He was one of the main sponsors of the conservative organization Western Goals Foundation founded in 1979 by General John K. Singlaub, journalist John Rees, and Democratic Congressman from Georgia Larry McDonald. During the mid 1980s, Bunker Hunt contributed almost half a million U.S. dollars to “The National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty” (NEPL), a conservative fundraising organization later heavily implicated in the Iran-Contra affair. Hunt is past Chairman of the Board of the Bible Society of Texas and the past Chairman of, and significant contributor to Campus Crusade for Christ International’s “Here’s Life” Campaign (1976–80), as well as providing a $3.5 million loan guarantee for the 1979 Campus Crusade film Jesus.

    • So in the real world this greedy guy got converted without any miracles – OK, to a religion of greed, but hey, you can’t have everything – but that’s not Special enough for Soon

    • Wow. Nice catch, Randy!

      • Incidentally, the whole thing about him being a conservative Bircher supporting Christian causes was completely new to me. I had no idea until I went to the Wikipedia entry to make sure I got their names and the years right. It was just their silver market activities that made me think of them in connection with the Demetrius brothers, since it’s not all that often that a couple of people manage to corner the market in a commodity like that.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      And besides, knowing Jenkins’ see-how-clever-I-am school of character names, Hunt brothers should translate to Artemis instead of Demetrius.

  11. Personal failure

    Did YHWH ever kill anyone in an ironic manner in the Bible? YHWH kills millions, sure, sometimes in horrifying ways, but not ironically. Irony just wasn’t a literary thing amongst the Israelites.

    I, too, wonder why the guards were so improbably traumatized. (Catatonia is very rare.) maybe they witnessed it happening? Would electroplating a person be that horrifying to witness? I mean, those guards are likely ex military, surely they’ve seen people violently killed before.

  12. Just kidding. Sparkly vampires aren’t very RTC.

    No, that’s a Mormon thing…

  13. Anybody ever watch The Avengers? Not the Marvel ones, the British series from the sixties. That’s what this makes me think of. Sealed vault, dude coated in silver paint… send in Steed and Peel.

  14. I think breathing in silver dust would be more harmful than just possible argyria — if there’s enough atomized silver in the air to turn it sparkly, wouldn’t it affect one’s lungs just like any other airborne particulate? i.e. impede the lungs’ ability to metabolize oxygen?

    • I’d definitely think it’d kill you in short order if you breathed enough in.

      • But that sounds like a horrible and painful death, such that you would find the guy collapsed on the floor, not sitting up.

        I am, like others, fascinated by a small detail–that he was sitting. Now, if he accidentally got stuck in his own vault, I can see it–nobody can come in until the next day, but that’s not a huge deal, so just sit down, relax and wait.

        So then does God just *poof* instantly make him dead and be-silvered? Ephesus would never know what had happened to him, but that’s not really the point–the point is to scare the guards and get Paul on the scene and finally scare Arthur Christian. These plans of God get more and more Rube Goldberg-y.

  15. I, too, had my first reaction to this section be “Why in the world would somebody look at something that is completely impossible and say that’s got to be the explanation?” If I see someone walking on water, I usually think that it’s odd that they look like they were walking on water, but I’d naturally assume that they were standing on something, or the perspective was weird, or something. “This is an actual miracle!” would not be my first reaction (or my second, or my third). In fact, I’d need a fair amount of convincing – in the case of the vaporized silver, that would be three months worth of lab tests at an absolute minimum.

    The only thing I can think of here is that “impossible” is just a bit of a hyperbole/sloppy writing, and actually means “impossible in a sealed vault without a whole bunch of specialized equipment, not to mention it ought to have settled out of the air long before that.” (or something)

    And yes, “You have become what you loved so much!” is an absolutely RIDICULOUS thing to scream upon seeing your dead brother. Though hey, at least he had a stronger and more loving reaction than Paul did (though that’s a little like saying something is louder than a barely-audible whisper).

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      And yes, “You have become what you loved so much!” is an absolutely RIDICULOUS thing to scream upon seeing your dead brother.

      Unless you’re speaking and thinking in Christianese.

      • inquisitiveraven

        I can maybe see him coming up with that after he’d been sobbing for a while, but first thing out of his mouth on seeing the man? Nuh uh. His name or whatever nickname he usually used for his brother sure. “You have become what you loved so much!”? Not really. It’s too long and (sort of coherent). I wouldn’t expect coherent at initial discovery.

    • Indeed, the “You have become what you loved so much!” line proves Arthur is prime RTC material. He comes face to face with his own brother who’s been divinely murdered, and despite his grief his first comment is how just and appropriate the horrible death (and subsequent torture in Hell) for this sinner is.

  16. “Ephesus Demetrius”?

    Don’t tell me, let me guess: we get riots on Wall Street in the next chapter? I can hear them now…Great is Artemis of the Financial District!…er, maybe not, this is Atheistopia… Great is the silver of the commodities market, and wholly to be invested in!

  17. I’m disappointed it wasn’t anything about juniper bushes bringing forth juniper berries.

  18. “You have become what you loved so much!”

    Who the eff talks like that? Even when they’re in shock?

  19. To get the car to reach the subbasement, Arthur had to have both eyes scanned, have both hands read by print machines, and turn two keys simultaneously. Voice and DNA recognition technology opened the jetvator, and then he had to go through all that and more to open the floor-to-ceiling vault himself..

    Does any of this make sense in context? I assume by “car” Jenkins means elevator. Is that the same or different than the “jetvator”? And really, jetvator? I want to echo that it seems rather improbable that two security guards (or Paul) would able to get in the vault without Arthur present. And Midas? I thought Jenkins was cribbing off of Paul of Tsarsus. Even by Jenkins standard this subplot is messed up.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Does any of this make sense in context? I assume by “car” Jenkins means elevator. Is that the same or different than the “jetvator”? And really, jetvator?

      That’s a name-coining straight out of bad pulp SF.

      But then, the Huge Black Glass Boxes of Atheistopia’s rebuilt cities ARE Futuristic — for 1970s Pop SF. That was the heyday of “The International Style” of minimalist highrise buildings sheathed ground-to-parapet in Solarbronze glass panels — literally A Black Glass Box. Check out ARCO Towers in downtown Los Angeles for the type example of the Giant Black (Solarbronze, actually) Glass Box.

      • That’s a name-coining straight out of bad pulp SF.

        Exactly. It’s like Jenkins is just cribbing off some half-remembered sci-fi novel from his childhood.

        • inquisitiveraven

          Well, there was a great deal of discussion on Pre-Patheos Slacktivist about how Ellenjay seemed to be stuck in the Fifties when it came to their understanding of American culture. Obviously when you remove LaHaye from the picture, Jenkins can manage to move forward a couple of decades. However, I looked up Jenkins biography when Ruby began this deconstruction and he grew up in the 50’s and 60’s. So 70’s era pulp isn’t quite his childhood, but might be his earliest exposure to that kind of thing.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            According to the link, Jenkins was born in 1949. That would put him in his twenties through the 1970s. I’ve heard it said that the music you remember as the best is what was popular when you were in your Twenties. If this “imprinting” pattern holds true for other things than music, Jenkins would have imprinted on the 1970s.

            Also according to Wikipedia, LaHaye was born in 1926. That would center his “imprinting” in the late Forties/Early Fifties.

          • @HUG:

            That makes sense. I keep liking the dance/technoish stuff that came out during the 1990s, which is when I hit my twenties. 🙂

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            A little more about LaHaye, assuming my previous theory is right.

            Splitting the difference, LaHaye would have been in his mid-Twenties right around 1950. You know, the year usually cited as The Godly Golden Age of This Christian Nation (TM) because church attendance in the US peaked around 1951 to 1953?

    • I think that “car” and “jetvator” are indeed the same thing, so the steps go: have the eye/palm/key stuff done to get the car to go to the basement. Voice/DNA scan to open the door once you’re there, to get into the vault lobby. “All that and more” to open the vault.

      Which is kind of silly, really. What’s the point of letting people get the car to the basement if they’re not going to be able to open it when they get there? You’re just inviting them to burn through the doors.

      I’m now picturing how a jetvator might work. Obviously you’d need a bypass duct to allow airflow round the car – or maybe up a pillar punched straight through the middle of it, which would make it easier to get at the engine for maintenance. The engine spools up, and you slam against the ceiling as it heads down the building… then almost at once, it shuts off and then goes into reverse, and you slam against the floor. That’s assuming the engine reverse worked, otherwise you hit the end of the shaft. But it’s really fast and efficient!

      • The whole rigamarole is just silly. I mean I guess it depends on who or what the vault is for, but assuming its not for Demitrius’ personal use then people besides them need to get into it. I mean, they aren’t going to put all that silver* in it themselves are they?

        *I’m assuming that’s why the vault exists.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          The whole rigamarole is just silly.

          Not unless you’re the Greatest Christian Author of All Time (GCAAT) who always wanted to write Technothrillers. (Remember all the conspiracy technothriller setups & shticks introduced in Left Behind Volume 1 for the Author Self-Insert and then abruptly abandoned?) This is The GCAAT being all James Bondish with the handwaving.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Just hit me with “Jetavator”:

        A jet engine is a gas turbine. “Elevator” is American English; outside the US, the same thing is called a “Lift”.

        Decipher “Jetavator” through this and you get TURBO LIFT. Just like on the Starship Enterprise, remember?

        (Doo, Dee, Doo Doo Doo Doo Dooooooo…)

        • And yet Jetavator sounds idiotic and turbo lift sounds reasonable. I’d blame it on turbo mostly being associated with speed in people’s minds, but even jet lift would sound better than jetavator. It’s the ill conceived word combining.

        • inquisitiveraven

          This is Jerry Jenkins we’re talking about, remember? While I wouldn’t put that kind of cutesy naming past him, that would require him to, like, know this stuff and we all know about his level of ignorance and research fail.

  20. I’m a member of the Christian left. I hate Jerry Jenkins’s books. That is all.

  21. Okay, what happened in this part actually gave me a bit of the willies, but “Ephesus! You have become what you loved so much!” just kinda ruined it.

  22. Base Delta Zero

    So, honestly, I do kinda think this is the first real miracle of the book. Every other miracle could be adequately explained via natural causes. But if Arthur is right and silver can’t be vaporized, then I think God must’ve actually silver-blasted Ephesus and left him there.

    Silver can, of course, be vaporized… but the amount of energy neccesary to vaporize a vault full of it is not gonna happen without someone noticing.

    I, too, wonder why the guards were so improbably traumatized. (Catatonia is very rare.) maybe they witnessed it happening? Would electroplating a person be that horrifying to witness? I mean, those guards are likely ex military, surely they’ve seen people violently killed before.

    Yeah, but there’s a difference between seeing someone killed by a bullet, and seeing someone killed by being turned to silver. It’s not so much gruesome as utterly unnatural and bizzare. Much like seeing Cthulu has a far greater effect than seeing a really ugly squid should.

    Also, we don’t know that the guards are ex-military…

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