Soon: Chapter 29: Reign of Not Enough Terror
Paul obeys Ranold’s instructions to get his ass over to South Central L.A. There, he finds:
…his father-in-law amidst a knot of military men in combat gear, congratulating each other on the success of a shoot-out that had killed five Christians, wounded six, and seen a dozen captured.
Well, it’s ABOUT DAMN TIME.
I don’t mean it’s a good thing that Christians were killed. I mean that for an eeevil anti-religion dictatorship, it has been half a year since any violence against the religious masses. It was January back when the Bible study group in San Francisco was taken down, and it is now well into June.
In between, we have only had isolated incidents: Paul uncovering St. Stephen, and Donny Johnson beating him to death (an action violently opposed by the actual NPO bureau chief at the scene), and mention of Bia’s “campaign of terror,” which has so far consisted of three guys dying–Angela’s father, the snake-bite victim, and the pressed-in-coin-press victim.
Sorry, but as Evil Reigns of Terror go, that’s…not a lot.
Especially since only the San Francisco group was revealed to be a religious group at all. The other deaths were reported as Weird, Tragic Accidents.
That just doesn’t seem in keeping with the image that your common or garden Evil Oppressive Regime wants to project.
Anyway, Paul has officially Had Enough. (After all, another group of Christians was killed SIX MONTHS AGO…never mind.)
“Ranold, how did we get from suspecting a small cell here to this holocaust?”
His father-in-law flushed, leaning close to Paul’s ear and hissing, “Listen to me, Cub Scout. Don’t ever challenge me in front of my subordinates? And you ought to be proud to be part of this. What’s the matter with you?”
“Why, it’s almost as though you felt sympathy for these practitioners of religion, and were really on their side instead of ours…WAIT A MINUTE!”
Perhaps not the smartest move a double agent has ever made, but I guess it’s fine, since Ranold lets it drop.
A tall, rangy figure in fatigues detached from the group and sidled over. It took Paul a moment to register that it was a woman. Got to be Balaam. When he was introduced to her in the Rose Garden, he had been blind.
Sure makes life simpler when unattractive, “mannish” women are always evil. Makes them easier to spot.
But wait, there’s more!
Her eyes mesmerized [Paul]. Like her hair, they were silver and seemed to pulse and shift like pools of mercury.
Wait, her hair seems to pulse and shift like a pool of mercury?
Also, I can’t really tell if Paul is repulsed by her or attracted to her. The word “mesmerized” is oddly used here.
They also seemed to rob his head of thoughts.
Not that that’s hard to do. Ba-dum-DUM.
She looked nearly inhuman.
As Crow T. Robot once said, “It’s just proof that slightly unattractive people ARE evil!”
Paul escapes as soon as he can and Skull Phone calls Straight from his car. Which seems like another dumb move, given Paul’s now-apparent sympathy for the zealots and the high likelihood that Atheistopia has his Skull Phone bugged.
“I just heard,” Straight said.
“Wait, Straight, how did you just hear? I just heard! Geez, if you know this much this quickly, why didn’t you, I dunno…WARN THEM???”
“Those people weren’t armed and had no munitions.” [Straight said]
So, once again, it’s tell don’t show. Just like in Frisco, we are told the Christians were unarmed, instead of showing us an exciting scene of soldiers bursting in on a bunch of unarmed, peaceable Christians, and taking them in for the horrible crime of practicing religion.
Nah, it’s okay. It’s much more exciting to hear about it after the fact.
As Paul drives back, he notices the billboards have gone dark. He doesn’t know if this is becaise something has happened to Specs, or whether this is Specs’ attempt at a memorial. Regardless, he tries to Skull Phone call him…but gets no answer.