Shadowed: Chapter 3: Not Laid Plans
If Paul was trying, I doubt he could waste more time than he does in these first crucial minutes after the slaughter. Ranold has confirmed Berlitz is dead—he knows what’s going on, knows Paul is a believer, and has the whole force of the NPO at his disposal to capture and kill his son-in-law.
You’d think man’s man, military veteran, Ph.D., prodigiously intellected Paul would have a plan. He’s the one who penned the manifesto, he’s had a few days to work this all out in his head. After all, he blames atheists for not coming to belief within 40 hours, so why shouldn’t he have an airtight plan ready in the same amount of time?
But he doesn’t. He messes about with suitcases and whose car is whose*, when you’d think his primary concern would be getting his hands on money and one or more weapons. He lets Margaret and Jae fuss back and forth like the silly women they are about who is going and who is staying, when he should have just loaded everyone into a car and gone, knowing exactly where they were going.
But no. Your average 19-year-old has a better plan for when the zombie apocalypse comes than Paul does for when God’s wrath, that he begged for, descends.
*Cars—Ranold, either accidentally or on purpose, took “Paul’s rental” to get to Berlitz and Aryanna. Which makes the “only car left” being Ranold’s company car. Unless, of course, you remember that Jae has a car, with which she transported herself and the kids to Washington, D.C., in the first place. Jenkins does not remember that Jae has a car.
Everyone’s finally in Ranold’s car (wouldn’t Paul fear that such a car would have bugs/tracking devices so the NPO would always know where it is?) and Margaret’s in the kitchen, like a woman should be. Jae begs Paul to go back to talk to her, and see if they maybe should take her with them. Yanno, because they have tons of time to decide these things and weigh all the various options and—
JUST GO ALREADY!!!
The funny thing about this is that I am on the side of just-do-what-Dad-says, not let’s-talk-out-all-options-and-discuss-our-feelings. Which makes me seem much more RTC right now, I suppose. But, c’mon, this is an actual emergency we’re dealing with! Christ!
Margaret, who lost her only son mere moments before, wants to talk about exactly what you would expect: Paul.
“I saw the letter from your father, you know,” she said. “The one he sent you to open on your twelfth birthday. Jae showed it to Ranold and he showed it to me. He thought it would infuriate me, make everything clear to me. I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.”
“Why, even the death of my own son hasn’t distracted me from it!”
“It had the most profound effect on me. Your father was devout. He truly believed. And oh, how he loved you.”
Too bad he didn’t love other people enough to believe they didn’t deserve an eternity of torture for not thinking the same way as him. Oh well.
Margaret agrees with Ranold…
“That Connor is alive proves you are a believer.”
“Actually, it doesn’t, Mom, in spite of what Ranold thinks. By ‘firstborn male,’ we think the Scripture refers to a child that is both male and born first, not simply the first male born in the family.”
WHY DIDN’T YOU POINT THIS OUT IN THE FIRST PLACE, YOU STUPID MAN???
Also, there is even more significant risk to everyone now that this little tidbit has been revealed. (Well, it’s been sorta-revealed, since how are we to know that Paul’s interpretation of this phrase is the correct one?)
If Paul or other believers don’t set the populace straight on this point, a lot of atheists with second-born-children-who-happen-to-be-boys are going to find themselves in a heap of trouble, being suspected of being Christians and all.
Also, this still doesn’t explain why Ranold, apparently the firstborn son of atheists, is alive. And it doesn’t explain why Paul is alive, though I suspect it’s because God doesn’t give a damn that his evil atheist mother was an evil atheist. Because moms don’t count.
Anyway, Margaret looks upon all this with typically RTC selflessness:
“I don’t know what it’s all leading up to, but I want to be on the right side of it when it happens. I’ve already lost my son. I don’t want to lose my soul.”
Your son is in Hell right now, Margaret. I’m pretty sure my own evil atheist mother would happily travel to Hell to get me back. But hey, who gives a good gorram about Berlitz, anyway?
But Margaret is in good company, only thinking of herself and all…
Part of Paul wanted to just stay and have it out with Ranold, to challenge him, dare him to take his grandchildren’s father out of the picture.
I…wouldn’t “dare” that if I was you, Paul. Ranold just saw his only son dead before his eyes. He’s hated you for years. And to top it all off, for half his life, he’s blamed Christians for causing the deaths of “his entire army.” This is not the tiger you want to tease, Paul. Just sayin’.
Also, Paul says “have it out” like it’s a typical sort of family dispute, not a case of one family member praying that another family member be struck down by God…who then complies. Ranold might be more inclined to shoot than to “have it out.”
But it all comes to nothing, because Jae bursts in (leaving the kids in the car, alone) to tell Paul and Margaret that she is staying.
The primary caregiver of the nine-year-old and the six-year-old is staying behind while the abusive father is taking those kids on the run.
Worst parenting ever, this bunch.
Oh, and it gets better. Jae actually says:
“Paul, I know you have some plan…”
“…so take the kids and put it into action.”
Has Paul ever been alone with his kids before in his life? I wonder.
“Send for me or I will come to you, whatever you concoct.”
Great idea. What could possibly go wrong?
“Just go, Paul. This is your life. You’ll make it work.”
“Screw our kids!”
So Paul goes. He just goes with his kids.
What a freaking idiot.
Connor is all but catatonic in the backseat, but Brie is alert enough to notice the carnage.
“What happened, Daddy?” Brie called out.
“Lots of accidents, huh?” he said.
Yeah, how ’bout that. Go figure, eh?
“Yeah, but why?”
“Remember, you’re going to find out later. Daddy has to be on the phone for a while, so you be patient, okay?”
“Just stare at the mangled corpses and people keening in the streets, princess! Don’t distract Daddy, now.”
Paul is, indeed, doing some important stuff on his skull phone: “trying to connect with Straight, his faith mentor.”
He wouldn’t have to worry about this, I must point out yet again, if he had had a plan in the first place.
But with no plan, he can’t get in touch with Straight (even by skull phone!). But someone gets in touch with Paul: “tall, black, and direct” secretary Felicia.
She’s calling Paul to let him know that Bob Koontz, their boss, is a firstborn son, and is dead.
Kinda sad, since Bob was in charge of the Cone of Silence and all.
Meh, enjoy Hell, I guess, Bob.