Soon: Chapter 21: The Mother Ship
I wasn’t kidding before: Paul really is re-tied and re-blindfolded for the trip back out of the mine.
As Paul is wheeled out, he thinks about what he has learned:
…a city in a salt mine…a mother ship for Christian groups.
That is a very odd choice of words for Jenkins. You really want to compare RTCs to fictional space aliens? Granted, the analogy is apt in a way, what with the RTCs being yanked off the face of the planet by their very own Big Giant Head, but it still seems weird. I wonder what Jenkins thinks of space alien theories?
Once they’re in the back of a truck (where Paul still can’t see anything), he is unbound and re-sighted and gets to talking with Straight:
“Think about it.” [Straight says] “How many churches–or lampstands or stars–come up in [the third chapter of Revelation]?”
“And what seven divisions could Christians be grouped under?”
“Well, we are the United Seven States of America.”
“Right. And the affiliations aren’t random. You know history is my game, Paul. Check the history of those seven churches of Revelation and you’ll find that each bears a distinct correspondence to one of our seven states.”
Yes, because when Revelation was written, IT WAS OBVIOUSLY REFERRING TO AMERICANS. Because no other Christians anywhere else in the world matter.
US(S)A! US(S)A! WOOT! WOOT! WOOT!
“Take Ephesus.” Straight said. “It was a port city called the ‘market of Asia’ because it was the most important financial center on the Mediterranean. Besides banking, a major industry was making silver shrines to the goddess Artemis. The Bible tells us that, in addition to believing in false gods associated with silver, so many Ephesians believed in magic that when their divination books were burned, it was as if fifty thousand pieces of silver had gone up in smoke.
“Ephesus remind you of someplace?”
Paul stared, dumbfounded.
“Thought so,” Straight said. “And–just as an aside–remember, in Acts Paul is called upon to revive a man who fell from a third-story window in Troas.” Paul sat back, speechless. “See, Paul, once you start looking for signs that the end is upon us, they’re everywhere.”
Well, yeah, WHEN YOU WRITE THEM INTO YOUR OWN STORY OMG.
You know, I wouldn’t even mind this silly game-playing if it didn’t happen ALL THE DAMN TIME. But Jesus, our Paul-like hero is named Paul. His best buddy is named Straight (after Straight Street in the story of Paul). Paul persecuted a guy named Stephen, just like his Biblical namesake did, and it just keeps coming and coming and WRITE YOUR OWN STORY, DAMMIT.
I have no problem with Meaningful Names, I have no problem with imagery and playing with themes. But it’s just so obvious and it never stops and EVERYTHING is an anagram or a 1:1 Biblical reference.
Finally, Paul and Straight stop being astounded by their own story and get back to the hotel. It’s late at night, but two dudes are sitting in the lobby, reading newspapers. This is VERY SUSPICIOUS and also OBVIOUSLY ABOUT PAUL BECAUSE THE ENTIRE WORLD REVOLVES AROUND HIM.
Paul takes other people’s obsessions with his life as perfectly natural, and goes to bed.
The next day, he manages to set aside all his musings about mother ships and his United Seven States of American Superiority Complex and play some chess.
Being a Jenkins hero, I am sure you will not be surprised to hear two things about this tournament:
1. Paul dominates.
2. Everyone else is a loser. In every sense.
Many players looked antisocial, even unwashed.
Nice. These losers sure are different from our Glorious Hero Paul.
Although, I bet that any one of these folks has more friends than Paul, who came to the tournament with his only friend, a guy he has known for only a couple of months. And who just had him tied up and kidnapped. Sorry, I think the chess nerds win at life in this respect.
Some carried dog-eared paperbacks of chess strategy.
Really? They did?
An old-fashioned book was engraved on [Stephen’s medallion] and Jefferson peered at it. “I haven’t seen one of these since I was a kid. What’s that about?”
“Just a book.”
“You’re not old enough to remember books.”
That is pathetic.
Paul is in the novice division, playing against 13 others. Straight is playing in the “tougher” division. But of course, after a slow start, Paul becomes “the talk of the tournament” by dominating the afternoon rounds and (OF COURSE FUCKING OF COURSE) winning his division and a trophy.