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.


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.


Posted on January 24, 2012, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Hair of quicksilver, eh? That’s a new one.

    I’m picturing something like the semi-solid lumps of hair that characters in ReBoot had. Like so:

    • For this scene, Jenkins was a hair’s breadth away from writing “Bia Balaam was a T-1000 with boobs” and knocking off for the day.

      So in the movie, who do we cast for Bia? Tall and slender, businesslike and unfeminine, silver hair, mesmerizing eyes. Who fits that bill? Maybe give Sigourney a wig, or run Meryl Streep through a taffy puller, and tell ’em they’re playing androids.

      • Who do we cast for Bia? The late Bea Arthur, of course. I’m sure she’d come back from the dead for a role like this.

  2. I suppose this could be the usual Evil Regime trick of finding people they don’t like, dealing with them harshly, and then after the fact accusing them of being the bogeyman of the day. But you’re right; maybe life’s so good in Atheistopia that nobody can be bothered actually to go out and do any persecuting, except the head-cases.

  3. What amazes/bugs me is how efficient this brutal regime is. Given that the entire enforcing branch of Atheisopia seems to operate on a shoot-first-ask-questions-never policy unless there’s something they really want to know (in which case it’s ask-questions-then-immediately-shoot), you’d expect paranoia, fear, whispering, false accusations. But so far, we see that the Atheistapo, for all it’s incompetence, has a perfect track record. Any investigation not headed by Paul thus far has succeeded in tracking down the RTC-offenders and ONLY the RTC offenders.

    Guy-To-Stupid? RTC, found and executed. San Fransisco? RTCs correctly found and identified before Paul even got there. Texas? At least one RTC, and given the dialogue I think we’re supposed to believe those mexicans were indeed catholics. And if they weren’t, they weren’t actually arrested or killed by the Atheistapo, just by the racists oil tycoon. And now Raynold and his army found and took down all but one of the RTC group in LA in the time it took for Paul to make contact with the one RTC who’s adress was handed to him on a silver platter by that man’s allies.

    This is not how it generally goes in these kind of theocratic dictatorships. They generally persecute on the side of caution. This would make for a much more creepy world. But I guess Jenkins figured the only thing he has to do to make a world look horrible is to show that RTCs have it bad. The world can be otherwise a paradise for all its atheist inhabitants, who need suffer no more poverty, no illness, no violence and no fear, if RTCs are not treated well it’s hell on earth. The book started with quotes from two atheists who thought it would be a good idea to get rid of religion. Jenkins wrote a book that basically told them they were right: It will be great for atheists to get rid of religion worldwide. And lest we forget, Jenkins has no real moral problems with a theocratic rule that promises death and torture for all those with the wrong beliefs, just as long as it’s his theocratic rule and the death and torture is done by God.

    On a side note, guess the LA zealots aren’t that righteous and pious. Why else would God not do a rocks-fall-everyone-dies on Raynold’s squad. And another thing, for all Paul’s protests about a holocaust (5 dead RTCs? Oh yeah, just like a holocaust. Stay classy Paul), a less than 25% fatality rate among the suspects is better than the raid that Paul was heading. I suppose it’s too much to hope for that Paul remembers his own murders through this raid and has some introspective moment?

    • The world can be otherwise a paradise for all its atheist inhabitants, who need suffer no more poverty, no illness, no violence and no fear, if RTCs are not treated well it’s hell on earth

      Is anyone else thinking Omelas?

      • Jenkins has a fairly unique way of saying it’s like Omelas, since Atheistopia sounds like it might even tolerate private religious practice, and the whole notion of death squads pursuing RTCs in the first place clangs so badly against the strikingly non-totalitarian character of the society Jenkins portrays.

        In short, the pieces of the puzzle of this society don’t really fit fogether in a way that would make sense.

        But that said, an Omelasian situation could easily have been created by Jenkins as a way to show Paul reverse-crossing the Moral Event Horizon – that is, the equivalent of the Saulian “scales falling from his eyes” type moment in which he actively helps RTCs against the risk of being thrown into the Omelasian circumstances.

        • I agree – an Omelasian Ahteistopia would have made for a better story. Even better, Paul and the Underground Christians could have spent some time discussing what sort of society they wanted to replace this one and how they could keep all the good Atheistopian stuff while rid of the Olmelasian elements.
          However, i suspect that any thinking in this book about a future society, or any long-term planning at all, will consist of “Jesus appears, we get to Heaven, everybody else will all burn in Hell!”

      • I’d have totally respected this story (well, if a few dozen other flaws were fixed maybe… you know what I mean) if I got the impression it was sending such a message. If this book was written towards atheists. “You think it would be good to live in a world without religion? You think it’s holding you back? You think it’s causing all those conflicts? Okay then, here’s your world. And look, all kind of technological advancements were made. And those conflicts have stopped. NOW let me show you why this is still terrible and creepy.”

        But it never really happens. This book is clearly written for RTCs. The murderous hatred for religious people is never explained or even acknowledged, because Jenkins likes to think he’s already being persecuted now, so for him the only difference is that the atheists in this story need to hide what they already want to do less. There’s barely any effect of this policy on everyday life, except for a few personal hobbyhorses Ooh, prostitution is legal and movies include more smut? Why, hold me mommy, I’m scared now. When asked, people seem to have an instinctive hatred for religious people but they never seem paranoid or afraid that someone might be a closet religious nut. (Actually, that too could’ve been interesting if we learned they though Christians were monsterous beings and couldn’t possibly be anyone they know, but that’s never explored either)

        And let us remember, the RTCs in this story aren’t a randomly selected kid that needs to be beaten. In this story, the kid is the one who berates the town for it’s prosperity and is beaten while trying to tear it down to change to suit his views. That’s still not an acceptable behavior of the townspeople, especially given how savage the beatings tend to be here. But it isn’t the same story anymore now that the kid isn’t the seemingly innocent victim that needs to be sacrificed, but an active antagonist to the townspeople trying to recruit more people against them. It could’ve worked in this story. It could be shown that, in 1984 style, the Atheistapo frequently cracks down on random groups and publicly show them to the public as a danger that they must remain vigilant against. But like I said, the Atheistapo is so far shown to be unerringly accurate with its actions, excesive though they are. And that’s not even bringing up the factor that, in this story, the RTCs worship a real God who reaches out and murders atheists, chucks those killed people into hell, and tortures them forever.

        There’s no getting around the fact that every page of this story breathes the RTC spirit. It is by RTCs for RTCs, and if you weren’t already on their side this book has no intention of showing you why you should be. Omelas was written to make the reader think of what he’d do if he were an inhabitant of Omelas. Soon was for RTCs with a martyr complex who like to imagine they’re the child who’s biding his time untill the mayor of Omelas steps in and slaughters the townpeople for their crimes.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          Just like Left Behind, Soon is meant to tickle the itchy ears of the RTCs/Church Ladies and remind them that You Are Right, Dear Reader. Just Like You, Dear Reader. They Are Wrong, Dear Reader. You Are Right, Dear Reader.

          This is the secret to Jenkins’ best-sellers (and which he conveniently never mentions in his $1200-a-pop Internet Course on Becoming a Best-Selling Christian Author). I call it “Giving You, Dear Reader, a hand job. (You Are Right, Dear Reader. They Are All Wrong, Dear Reader…)”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          P.S. And it is long obvious Jenkins has no clue on the concept of Dystopia. Not even “Crapsaccharine Dystopia” (i.e. Hell with a pretty coat of paint) which he seems to be trying for.

          The only thing Dystopian about the world of Soon is that it’s (sinister music) ATHEIST. If Born-Again Bible Believing Christians (TM) were in power and acting the same, it would be Paradise. Cheer For Our Side, Us or Them, nothing more.

    • On a side note, guess the LA zealots aren’t that righteous and pious. Why else would God not do a rocks-fall-everyone-dies on Raynold’s squad.

      Hmm, that’s right, God killed everyone but Paul, right? Which begs the question, Ruby, whose body count is higher right now, God or Atheistopia? God killed Mr. Richie Richi with the weird name directly. I think some bystanders died in the big TX oil fire/miracle but I’m not sure. Can’t recall how many took part in the San Francisco raid but i think it could equal the number of Christians killed in both raids.

      As usual Jenkins misses his own opportunities. He could have Ranold falsely linking the good (albeit vandalizing) Christians of LA with the murderous drug cult in Las Vegas, thereby justifying the overly violent raid.

    • The world can be otherwise a paradise for all its atheist inhabitants, who need suffer no more poverty, no illness, no violence and no fear, if RTCs are not treated well it’s hell on earth.

      So it’s a sort of RTC Omelas? The Raptured are the ones who Walk Away, and TurboJesus is the one who Comes Back?

  4. So Bia Balaam has silver eyes, looks strangely inhuman, and spends her time hunting down targets which are, on the surface, indistinguishable from the general public. And yet she’s very, very good at picking them, and only them, out from the masses and executing them in especially gory ways.


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