Soon: Chapter 35: It’s Going Down…Or Not

TW: violent death, torture, fake suicide

Jae, having crawled over enough broken glass for Paul, at least for one night, heads off to unpack.  And Paul goes to talk to Ranold.

Ranold is doing his best Sherlock Holmes bit, wearing a “burgundy smoking jacket,” because he rocks.

You see, while Paul was eating Cheesy Gorditas and writing Bold Manifestos with the zealots, Ranold and Bia were tracking Grace Dean, the hydrologist.  When Grace was called by Lois to come in and talk about the water system, Grace then called a few of her friends to go with her.

One of them was a NPO informant.

OH.

OH SNAP.

“Our plant was heading out for a business meeting.  Grace said not to worry and got someone else.  Of course, our informant called us.  But by the time we got someone to Grace’s office to follow her, she was gone.”

But the…

What kind of crappy operation is L.A. running here, that a “business meeting” of an informant would take precedence over a Christian terrorism plot like this???

DAMMIT HARRIET JOHNS, LEARN TO TRAIN UP YOUR INFORMANTS GODDAMN

So when they find that Grace has left, the NPO, including Bia and Ranold, just camp at her home until she gets back.

Making Bia and Ranold much better spies than Paul or this stupid L.A. informant are.

And then they do what should have been happening to Christians throughout this entire book: they torture Grace for information and then pull the Obviously Fake Suicide trick.

In the interests of not being too depressing, I will skip the gory details.  Suffice to say that they make it look like Grace slit her wrists in the bathtub.

Paul fought to stay impassive.  Monsters!

Oh, YOU’RE a one to talk, Mr. Let’s-Dessicate-the-Entire-City.  Monsters, indeed.

Please note: I am not saying that Bia and Ranold aren’t monsters.  Indeed, this kind of barbarism (and keep reading) is just what I would expect to see from an atheist dictatorship created in the mind of a RTC.

I’m just saying that Paul is a big, fat hypocrite.  Also, in addition, as well.

“Here’s where you come in, Paul.  Before opening her veins, Grace was repeatedly submerged to, shall we say, aid her memory.”

That is so horrible.

And again, exactly what I would expect from a Jenkinsian-atheistopian secret spy ring.

WHY HAS THIS NOT HAPPENED UNTIL CHAPTER 35 OUT OF 36???

“Balaam blindfolded her with a silk scarf—a nice touch.”

Um, why is it a nice touch?  If it had been a linen scarf, it wouldn’t have been as atheistopian?  I don’t get it.

“Each time Grace came up she gave us a little more about the cell near the port.  She only had first names, but she had a good description of the ringleader, the one who had all the questions for her about the water.  Seems he was from Chicago—an outside agitator.  Get this.  He called himself Paul and told her he had been blinded but that God had restored his sight.  She even saw his navy blue sedan.”

YOU GUYS

THIS IS IT

RANOLD IS ON TO PAUL—HE KNOWS EVERYTHING

“Paul, do you deny being that man?”

HERE IT COMES

“No,” Paul said.  He stood with fists clenched, trying to keep from erupting.

AND JAE IS HERE SO WHEN PAUL KILLS RANOLD TO ESCAPE HE’LL HAVE TO TAKE HER WITH HIM AND SHE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW HIS SECRET YET

“No, you’re not?  Or no, you don’t deny it?”

OMG AND THE STINKY FISH CHRISTIANS MAY ALREADY BE DEAD AND PAUL HAS TO WARN THEM BUT WHAT IF IT’S TOO LATE

“Hi, Daddy!” Jae said.  She rushed to her father, flung an arm around his neck, and kissed him on the cheek.

“Jae!  Honey, I—”

“You both seem so serious.  What’s going on?”

“Oh, just arresting your soon-to-be-ex-husband for conspiracy to commit terrorism, aiding the enemy, and being a practicing religionist.”

“Just business.  What are you doing here?”

“I missed my husband.”

Yeah, I’ll just bet Ranold buys that.  But Jae tells him that she and Paul are “totally patched,” and then she wanders off.

Wow.  Jerry Jnekins almost had to write a tense action scene there.

That was close.

With a pat on the head and a glass of warm milk, Jae wanders off to bed like a good little girl.

Leaving Ranold to “explain” what his theory really is:

He thinks Paul was infiltrating the enemy all by himself.  That is, without orders from either him or from Harriet Johns:

“Paul, you have humiliated me—and even more, yourself—with your arrogance.  What made you go off half-cocked like that on your own?  Did you think you could compete with me?  With Balaam?”

Sigh.  I just don’t even.  As usual, veteran agent Ranold is only half-right.  Yes, Paul is insanely jealous of Bia.

BUT HE IS ALSO A NOT-SO-SECRET CHRISTIAN DAMMIT RANOLD

“So you just thought you could make a big score all by yourself?  You thought you had to go an extra hundred miles because you failed in San Francisco and Gulfland?  I can understand that, Paul.  But we all have missions that go belly-up.  A real soldier accepts it and moves on.  Or was it your bleeding heart?  You disapproved of our tactics and thought you’d bring in these renegades in cuffs instead of coffins.  Well, that’s not how it works with terrorists.”

Little does Ranold know that he’s talking to the biggest terrorist of them all.

Except maybe for God.

Ranold then reveals that the NPO raided the Stinky Fish Building and no one was there, which makes no freaking sense.  So, these dozens of believers just go there every day after work, drawing no suspicion at all from the actual fishermen and dock workers?

Yeah, sure.  Fine.

So, the NPO will be raiding the port on Sunday, “these people’s big meeting day.”  Har.

And what does Ranold have in store for Paul after his treason and terrorismmeddling“?

He’s going to report him to his boss in Chicago!

*gasp*  *choke*

Paul is relieved (as well he might be) and heads off to do more super sekrit squirrel spying.

Because he’s so good at it.

I’m sorry, I just am so disappointed in Ranold.

GORRAMIT

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Posted on March 12, 2012, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. All I can think of for why Paul DOESN’T regard the de-watering of Los Angeles as “monstrous” is because God, being The Source of All Justice and All Else that is Good, wouldn’t even consider answering the prayer if it WEREN’T just. Omniscient Morality License et al. Essentially, God’s omniscience fills in for due process. Decenti and Balaam…don’t quite have anything to fill in.

    Come to think of it…Do we know what Jenkins’s view of Calvinism is? I don’t know whether Calvin’s precepts are integral to dispensationalism or not.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Don’t know the relationship between Calvinism & Dispensationalism, but I don’t think they started out connected. However in the following 150+ years, I’m sure there’s been some overlap.

      And in Dispy End-of-the-World choreography, once the RTCs are beamed up, everything DOES run on rails of Utter Predestination.

  2. Grammar Police

    (As a lifelong Sherlockian, I must be a nerd and point out that Sherlock Holmes didn’t wear smoking jackets. He had three dressing gowns – one purple, one blue, and one mouse grey. Nerd Rant Ended :D)

    I had a mini heart attack when Jae cried “Daddy” and flung her arms around the man and kissed him . . . because somehow I missed the words “her father” and thought she was doing this to PAUL. . . . now that I’m done squicking, I can appreciate how Good Christian Stepford Jae has become, and all in anticipation for saying the Magic Jesus Words. Blech.

    RANOLD, YOU BLOODY IDIOT!!!! DON’T STAND THERE MONOLOGUING AT HIM! Arrest him! Take him down! Punch him the face! Step on his cheating balls! Ranold, seriously. You hate Christians. You actually tortured and killed a woman to get this information! WHY IN THE NAME OF ALL THINGS HOLY AND UNHOLY DON’T YOU ACT?! *froths at the mouth*

    • Jenkins really infantilizes Jae in that scene. “Hi, Daddy” indeed. (-_-) She’s – what, 30something? Grown adults do not address their parents using childlike monikers.

      • I dunno. I’m 27 and I still sometimes refer to my Aunt, Joanne, as “Auntie Joanne”.

      • I’m in my early 30s and still say “Daddy” every now and then. But mostly it’s “Dad.” I haven’t said “Daddy” in public in many years, and certainly never in the presence of a significant other of mine.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          But Jae is an RTC’s version of a Good Widdle Wifey.

          Just like all Jenkins’ “Good Girl” female characters.

          P.S. I saw a wife regress into Widdle Girl mode like Jae IRL. Mommy track burnout with three kids, twins on the way, and a husband Who Is Always Right, Period. She just burned out and went back to early childhood. It wasn’t pretty.

      • Once again, with better writers this would be kind of a chilling scene. Only we’d first have to see Jae get brainwashed or something. Then we could watch Ranold slowly realize that his beloved daughter has been turned into a mush-headed simpleton, completely in Paul’s grip. She could be used as a way for Paul to control Ranold.

        Sadly she’s just another Jenkins caricature of a grown woman.

  3. Why is Ranold the only one to recognize the description of Paul? Shouldn’t Bia have something to say about when, where, and how intensely Paul is called to account?

    • Well, this I can forgive. Ranold outranks both Paul and Bia by a whole lot, and Bia and Paul kinda work in different units. Seems to me that it’s correct that Ranold and/or Bob Koontz should be the one(s) punishing Paul.

      • It could also be a matter of Ranold feeling responsible in some way. ‘He’s my son in law, if he screwed up, I need to take it to him.’

        But, good grief, Ranold. Penalty foul, ten yards, for not thinking Paul is in like Flynn.

      • For whatever reason, I was thinking Ranold answered to Bia. There is still the conflict of interest, however. I take it Jenkins thinks that ethics rules will go out the window with organized religion?

        • The whole “letting Koontz handle the punishment” thing actually makes me think better of Ranold. He knows he’s not objective when it comes to Paul (quite naturally, given the fact that he has been cheating on Ranold’s only daughter for eight years), and he’s giving the responsibility to someone who presumably will be objective. This seems quite professional of Ranold, though I’m sure that is not the impression Jenkins intended to leave.

  4. Yanno, they know that Paul was doing his own sekrit “investigating” before when he went to Specs. So they caught him cavorting with Christians without having a report once. Then they get someone fingering him as a ringleader in a Christian cell and they decide to just let him explain himself? WTF?

    Not only that, but why didn’t the Atheistapo find the shipping manifests, printing press, ink, paper, spare parts and rotting fish in the warehouse?

    And lastly,

    You disapproved of our tactics and thought you’d bring in these renegades in cuffs instead of coffins. Well, that’s not how it works with terrorists.

    I can’t help but think that Jenkins approves of this approach with terrorists. He just doesn’t think RTCs can be terrorists, even if they’re plotting to sabotage a city’s water supply.

    • That got me as well. Between this and the napalm barrel and the ersatz waterboarding of Grace, I’m sensing a bit of projection on the part of Jenkins.

      As I said once before: I once wrote some fiction that had a caricature of evil named Jenkins. Who’d have thought that a real Jenkins would be so much more of a monster.

  5. You know, had this been any kind of logical, thought out book written without an agenda or a preconceived “adaptation in place” concept, another writer would totally have had Paul busted right then and there by Ranold, and then depending on just how squeamish the readership is likely to be, start either with immediate suspension pending internal affairs, or skipping any semblance of due process and going straight to Paul’s own little torture scene. (O_O)

    Arg! Jenkins was SO CLOSE to really ratcheting up the drama and action here!

  6. Lamest. Save. Ever.

    And Stupidest EvilAtheistapo Agents Ever, as well.

    Seriously, the only reaction I’m left with from this chapter is this.

  7. I’d like to think the Atheistopians know better than to torture people – but I suspect that in Jenkinsworld torture actually works, so of course people use it all the time.

    Paul’s thought: “duh… yeah! Infiltrating! That’s what I was doing! I is a HERO!”

  8. The sheer number of lucky breaks Paul gets are just ridiculous. Forget the water-stopping or turning people into silver, THIS is the clearest example of divine intervention in this wretched novel. Both Ranold and Bia hate Paul. They have repeatedly noted his complaining about the unfair treatment of RTCs, they’ve seen him give non-denials about his lack of comitment and they now have firm evidence that he’s going behind their backs, meeting with christians for days without informing them or attempting any sort of arrest… and they still can’t imagine he’s betrayed them. Hell, they know he told the RTCs he became a believer when God miraculously cured his sight. Ranold must be aware that Paul’s sight was healed without medical treatment. Can’t he connect the dots?

    There’s actually a second point that relates to Ruby’s ‘about damn time’ comment: Even if Ranold and Bia are completely guillible and don’t believe Paul could possibly be a believer, why do they care? Ranold is a hardass that hates Paul. Bia is an unrepentant murderer who dislikes Paul and feels he’s trying to get in her way. Why aren’t they taking this opportunity to get Paul out of the picture? Because that is an element to this atheist dictatorship that I am still missing: The signs of corruption, suspicion, fear of being named a believer even when your not. In this case, the idea that Bia would leap at the opportunity to imprisson Paul, even if she foolishly doesn’t realize he’s actually guilty. I think that’s still because Jenkins can only imagine two kinds of suffering: The horribly, unjust suffering of RTCs at the hands of non-RTCs and the well-deserved and just suffering of non-RTCs at the hands of god. This leaves us with many questions as to Ranold and Bia’s motivation. If they aren’t people who persecute, murder or torture people for fun and profit, then why are they so gung-ho about doing that do RTCs? Do they really believe the zealots are that dangerous? Did they have a reason to think so (we know they will in a few days)? What motivates them?

    And of course it makes us, or at least me, wonder which side is right, or at least less wrong, even as one side tortures and kills a woman. Because we once again see that the Atheistapo unfailingly targets zealots only. Unlike in a most distopian settings, this world is really good for anyone who’s not a believer. Now, that by itself would still make me side with the believers, because I see no harm in letting them believe and certainly don’t condone violence against them…. except that I think this pray-for-drought plan actually provides a justification for violent oppression. The zealots have repeatedly are not only willing to pray for an entire city to wither and die if they don’t get what they want, but they’ve repeatedly stated that while god will be doing the actual deeds, he will do it ONLY because many of them are going to pray for it.

    Even if we accept that the zealots only did this because of their immediate desperation and fear of death (which I don’t think the text has properly showed us. Paul was still enjoying the afterglow of the succesfull loitering air strike when he got the idea that’d be even cooler to make the atheists suffer right after they spread the message that the zealots wouldn’t dream of harming the atheists.), Atheistopia now finds itself in a situation where there is a group who’s willing and able to destroy any city just by agreeing to all want it together. Like a terrorist group with nukes, except that the nukes are invisible and intangible, and can strike anywhere at any time as long as enough of the terrorists are alive. Even imprissoning them all won’t stop their ability to rain terror and destruction on civilians everywhere.

    Ironically, at the end of this story, the Atheistopian government has only two options left. Either give in to the terrorists every demand or do whatever it takes to kill every last member of the group. The NPO’s actions have just become at least vaguely justifiable.

    • “So, Paul, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.”

      Indeed, one of the first things to happen in a climate of paranoia is that people start to settle old scores by turning each other in.

      I tend to class this sort of power as “ontological weaponry”.

      • Grammar Police

        Dark Helmet for the WIN!

        Oh, and I dare give Paul the raspberry. (Heck, everyone involved in this drek deserves raspberries.)

  9. Headless Unicorn Guy

    “Balaam blindfolded her with a silk scarf—a nice touch.”

    Um, why is it a nice touch? If it had been a linen scarf, it wouldn’t have been as atheistopian? I don’t get it.

    I do.

    It sounds KINKY.

    • Ugh. So now we have Jenkins commenting on… on…. AUGH SQUICK.

      I get a very strong vibe that Jenkins is trying to make Bia out to be like Major Hardcastle from That Hideous Strength. With all the misogyny, homophobia, and other implications inherent in that character.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Only thing is, VMink, “misogyny & homophobia” is a lot more characteristic of Jenkins’ heroes than his villains. Especially the homo-anything — I would expect an Atheistopia as imagined by RTCs to resemble a nationwide Castro Street bathhouse in that respect. Mandatory homosexuality including being taught to Our Children Our Children Our Children, conversion & recruitment, etc. Homosexuality is such a bright red snarl word to RTCs, practically an archetype of The Other.

        Remember that “Letter from 2012” Focus on the Family put out during the 2008 elections? That “I send this back in time to you as a warning” didactic dystopia from the fourth year of an Obama dictatorship? Crushing of Bible-Believing Christians for their Homophobic Hate Speech and forced Exaltation/Glorification of Homosexuality was a BIG item in that Future Persecution Dystopia.

        • Ah, I see I misspoke. I was attributing misogyny and homophobia to the *author* in their character-craft. Major Hardcastle is written as (Lewis’s idea of) a sadomasochistic lesbian. Bia is not turning out much better. Vera from Left Behind may not have had the Atheistapo thing going for her, but she was still ‘a woman in sensible shoes’ and made out to be an antagonist of some kind. I think it’s a gross failure on the part of all the involved authors and really makes it patently clear what they think about women and QUILTBAG folk in general, by lumping all sorts of authorially unpleasant elements in with the character’s homosexuality.

          (Seriously, looking back on That Hideous Strength, Lewis just keeps racking up the things that he has to answer for; it’s gone from ‘A lot’ to ‘How many lives must one live to get through this all?’)

          • Grammar Police

            SPOILER FOR LEFT BEHIND!

            .
            .
            .

            Vera turns out to be a lesbian also. Buck uses this information to blackmail her. Our Hero, people.

            Because in Jenkins’ world, a woman in sensible shoes who doesn’t swoon at the feet of Manly Man Hero must clearly be an Eeeeeeeeevil Lesbian! *eyeroll*

          • Yup, Vera’s a lesbian.

            Bia is not, but she’s something almost as bad…DIVORCED!!11!!!1!ELEVENTY111!!!!!

          • That’s VerNa, by the way. 😛

          • Ooh, divorced! Let me guess. She’s the one who wanted to divorce, probably because she wanted to get rid off her kindly husband who wanted to love her and provide all for her so she would never want to work!

            Or are we going with the ‘Bia is a bitch’ theme and implying no one could ever love a stocky woman like her?

          • Bia’s not the stocky one—that was single-in-her-forties Grace.

            Bia’s the one who’s really tall and thin—so tall that Paul thought she was a man back when he was blind.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            That’s VerNa, by the way. — ApocalypseReview

            Not just similar to Velma from Scooby-Doo (who she probably resembles), but full name “Verna Zee”. As in “Ms Zee — Missy? Get It?”

            (Like “Viv Ivins — VI VI VIns — Six Six Six, Get It?”)

            (And “Stonagal — Stone-a-Gal, Rock-a-Feller, Get It”?)

            (And “Paul Stepola — Paul Apostle-spelled-sideways, Get It?”)

  10. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Hobby night last night at the KoC hall, somebody had a DVD of Waterworld on the big-screen. Really awful movie, all the more awful for the Important Message Elements.

    And it reminds me of LB, Soon, and all the other Christianese stuff. Like the two are funhouse mirror reflections of each other. Both equally dumb & lame, with Important Message Themes.

  11. I think we can give Ranold a break here. He clearly has a low opinion of Christians, and let’s face it, the one cell he has had contact with is full of morons. Ranold has a low opinion of Paul, sure, but it isn’t that low. I can see how it would be hard for Ranold to accept that Paul has converted.

    Jenkins however, can not be forgiven. What kind of agent asks a question that can’t be clearly answered?

    This: “No, you’re not? Or no, you don’t deny it?” has got to the stupidest conversation Ranold has had yet.

  12. I’ll give Jenkins points for actually having a torture/death that succeeded in being pretty nasty and somewhat believable.

    However, all those points are docked because the victim is once again someone we don’t even care about.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Red Shirt Syndrome.

      As in “Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, and some red-shirted Ensign we’ve never seen before beam down to the unexplored planet. Guess who gets killed to show us how the monster works?”

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