Shadowed: Chapter 12: Appropriating

Jenkins weirdly goes out of his way to tell us that Jae wakes up at nine in the morning on Wednesday, January 23.  Meaning that he has access to the internet, so he can tell us for certain that the slaughter of the innocent firstborn sons will take place on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2047, 6:00 p.m. EST.

Good to know.

Jae reflects as she lies in her palatial apartment:

So this was what it meant to be a believer.  Grief over her brother.  Mourning her mother.  Horrified at the unspeakable magnitude of loss around the world.  And yet a deep sense of peace.  She wasn’t happy.  Jae couldn’t call it that, not with everything that had happened.  But there was a bedrock contentment that God was somehow in control.

So much in control that he killed her brother and let her mother die of a heart attack.  So much in control that Berlitz is in Hell, now and forever, and nothing anyone ever says or does will get him out.

I suppose there must be some bizarre sense of contentment, a really warped version of it, at least, when you know an evil dictator is in charge of everyone’s life and death and afterlife.  In a certain way, it would make decisions easier—like whether to resist said evil dictator, or worship him.  Paul and Jae and I all find this an easy decision.

Speaking of Paul, we find that he has another amazing James Bond-like ability!

…he had the ability to recover from extended exhaustion with one good night’s sleep, as long as he got in enough hours.

Wow.  Real special, Paul.

(I will add that there is no way Paul got “one good night’s sleep,” since he got to bed pretty late, then woke back up at four to pretend to shoot Roscoe.  That is pretty much the definition of not a good night’s sleep.  Gorammit, Jenkins, keep track of the details you take such pains to tell me!)

Paul and Jae don’t even see each other in the morning, since Jae heads off with the kids to hang with Angela.  Paul has breakfast with Pudgy Jack, and sensitively volunteers to P.J. that he “slept like a gravestone.”

Tell that to your dead and innocent brother-in-law, you prick.


Meanwhile, Jae prays that her little children will convert quickly to the worship of the being who killed their loving uncle.


Meanwhile meanwhile, Pudgy Jack reveals to Paul the “pleasant surprise” that he teased a few chapters ago—what the loving, generous, spirit-filled Christians do with the cars and clothes of the recently slaughtered.

Just as several of you deduced, they’re stripping corpses.


What a bunch of winsome witnesses.

As if reading [Paul’s] question, Jack said, “No, we don’t steal their money.  We assume they have left families who need their resources.”

So they take clothes and cars, but not cash.  Does Jenkins really think that most normal humans carry around more cash than their car is worth?  Because the current Bluebook value of my car is about $8,000, and I can guaran-damn-tee you I am not carrying anything close to that amount of cash on my person.  Just sayin’, I would rather my surviving family have my car than the cash in my wallet.

“But if they’re dead, they certainly don’t need their clothes, their driver’s licenses, that kind of stuff.”

Oh, yeah—they take identities, too.  Because that is the loving, Christian thing to do.

Yanno, I may well be missing something here, but I don’t even understand what stealing an identity would accomplish for the zealots.  The usual goal in stealing an identity is to spend someone else’s money, and Pudgy Jack claims they don’t want to do that.  And how long could anyone from the underground pretend to be a person who has just been declared dead, complete with body, as a result of the biggest massacre in human history?

That aside, though, we can be reassured on one point:

“Trust me, we respect those bodies, even though we’re stripping them of clothes and ID.”

Gee, thanks, Jack, good to know that you’re not posing the bodies in humorous ways, I guess.

(I also think neither Jack nor Jenkins has any idea how difficult it is to remove clothes from a dead body, let alone one that has probably been mangled in a car accident.  Wrestling your rebellious three-year-old into his pajamas doesn’t really give the proper sense…)

But, much as Moses turned the Isrealites into an elite, child-killing army, Pudgy Jack has turned the underground zealots in D.C. into an elite army of chop shop mechanics.

And another thought occurs to me re: clothes…clothes are some of the cheapest things in the world to get.  There are five used-clothes stores within walking distance of my home, and hell, since the zealots see nothing wrong with thievery, they could just raid the donation bins of the very generous Atheistopia.

In addition to the “respect” they give the bodies of the men now roasting in Hell forever, Jack has this justification:

“And we are on the right side, after all.”

“Of course.” [said sociopath Paul]

Jack also points out that a majority of the elders have agreed to this whole strip-bodies-and-steal-cars-and-identities plan, but he really has a much bigger issue in mind that he wants to discuss with this man he barely knows:

See, Pudgy Jack wants to go topside.  He’s basically been completely in hiding since the death of his brother in Soon, so it’s been awhile.

Trust a zealot to have only his own desires in mind a few hours after the biggest disaster to ever befall the planet.  He and Paul will get along swimmingly, I’m sure.

One final thought about Pudgy Jack:  He comes across as all innocent, but he reminds us here how upset he was by the napalm-barreling death of Andy.  Given that, there is an extra level of heartless evil (and, perhaps, conscious or unconscious revenge) to Jack’s glib justifications of corpse-looting.

Something to think about.



Posted on February 7, 2015, in Shadowed. Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. Their actions are justified because they’re on the right side–rather than their being on the right side, or not, being determined by their actions.

    A small part of me wants to see someone try to explain the problem with that to Jenkins. A larger part of me knows that it would be frustratingly disappointing for everyone involved, with Jenkins, even if for some reason he put forth his best-faith effort to understand the concept this obvious unwashed heathen was trying to explain to him, being quite unable to see the idea of morality being a matter of actions rather than team jerkins as anything other than ludicrous.

  2. This plan of stealing identities might do something to fix the problem that all believers with at least one son have just painted a bull’s-eye on their chests, provided they don’t stay in the town where their respective former identities lived.

    Of course, it won’t take long for a halfway competent government to catch wind of this (if only from all the stripped corpses they find. And how are the zealots going to hide doing that anyway?), and ask everyone to report their missing relatives. (Fortunately, this curses only affected people who had living relatives, so except for cases where the eldest son was driving a car with his parents and all other relatives, or cases where the parents were killed by the runaway car of some other dead firstborn, the list should be fairly complete.) Then it’s a matter of asking for ID of anyone who recently moved into a new town. If he or she’s on the missing-person list, trot hir in front of the relatives. If they don’t recognize hir, give the relatives some rocks or knives and set them loose on the person who helped murder their relative and then stole hir ID.

    Hey, wait a second, “asking for ID”? “Their driver’s licenses?”

    He ran a detector over Andy’s limbs, stopping when a high tone signalled the ID biochip beneath the skin of his right forearm. The young man studied an LED readout. “It’s Pass, all right.” Soon, Prologue

    “Trust me, we respect those bodies, even though we’re stripping them of clothes and mutilating them to rip the ID chips right out of their arms. And then we surgically remove our own chips and implant the fake ones, cause we can do that apparently.”

    “And we are on the right side, after all.”
    “Of course.” [said sociopath Paul]

    I think Jenkins is trying to win by goading his opponents, like us, into a Godwin.

  3. Is it ever explained why they need to take the clothing as well as the IDs? In spite of the fact that some Christian sects saw clothing as ungodly and went around naked, I doubt that the underground Christians here believe likewise and therefore need to disguise themselves with stolen clothing. And do they each only pick bodies that wear their own clothing size?
    But what really disturbs me is wondering where on earth Jenkins got this whole stripping-the-corpses idea from anyway. When I read it, the image that immediately came into my mind was the Holocaust, in particular those exhibits of victims’ piled-up personal possessions. Surely he didn’t intend *that*…?

  4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

    “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

    In an effective surveillance state, stolen identities are hugely valuable, because your identity is being constantly checked everywhere you go. Though actually my original theory was some sort of art installation, along the lines of graffiti Hiroshima shadows.

    So they’re taking the clothes and vehicles from dead people, and leaving behind, what, a naked body and a pile of cash? Is there anything else they don’t take?

  5. I’m also terribly confused about why, exactly, they’re doing this. Is this meant to imply that the Underground is *so* underground that they can no longer send people out to buy clothes for them? “The security people at Atheist-Mart caught on to us, so now we’re just sending out people to strip the clothes off of corpses in the middle of rush hour, because that’s so much more subtle.”

    If this were a different writer, that bit about “we’re on the right side” would be sending up massive red flags. Anytime a superior in a game/book/movie has the protagonist do something totally objectionable and then tries to justify it with “it’s okay, we’re the good guys,” I automatically assume he or she is going to pull a Face-Heel Turn sometime soon. (Honestly, having Pudgy Jack be revealed as The Mole and Roscoe turn out to be a true believer whose son actually did just die at around the same time would actually be a fairly clever twist.)

    Unfortunately with Jenkins I guess the whole “I am secretly a bad guy *twirls mustache*” vibes that Jack is putting out are just a result of him being unable to tell his good guys apart from his bad guys by anything other than their RTC status.

  6. This whole passage implies that Christians are the only people doing any looting.

    • Which is amusing for two reasons:

      1. It shows how moral the allegedly-amoral atheists are–sure, they may be filthy unbelievers, but you don’t see THEM looting corpses and stealing cars.

      2. It shows (again!) how awesome Atheistopia is–as explained in Soon, there is basically no poverty, no homelessness any longer. So there’s no reason for anyone to steal clothes. Or even a car.

      • Unless, of course, they’re having to hide because the horrible atheist government is persecuting them for their religious observations, unkindly termed “mass murder” by those awful atheists.

        • And it’s extra challenging for them because if there is one time when it’s difficult to remain hidden, it’s when you’re trying to disrobe a mutilated corpse on the side of the road.

        • And I’m not sure why the zealots think stealing their cars will be any easier. If the firstborn were driving those cars at the time, they might be conveniently available with the keys still in the ignition, but they’ll also be heavily damaged from the crash right after its owners death. (Remember all that terrible breathtaking chaos the transportation infrastructure suffered after your Rapture, Jenkins?) And if they weren’t driving them at the time, those cars will be on the driveway of their houses, no easier to steal than before, or to distinguish from cars who’s owners are still alive. Unless the zealot’s brilliant plan is that, with the firstborn’s family grieving, they’ll be too distracted to notice the zealots stealing their cars?

          I really wish that last question was retorical, but in this book…

          • Yeah, this makes me remember a crash I was involved in myself. And it was rather like the crashes that happened the night before in Shadowed, in that it wasn’t my fault in any way (I suppose, in a LaJenkinsian mindset, it was God’s fault). 😉

            The car was certainly in no condition that anyone would want a car to be in, and if I count myself as wearing six pieces of clothing/accessories (I won’t even count undergarments, as it’s unclear whether the zealots consider these fair game or not), only one of those pieces could ever be worn after the crash.

            Just seems like they’re going to a lot of effort for very little possible reward.

          • This is atheistopia, though. And one thing RTCs hate even more than public transport is restrictions on their driving. So what probably happened is the car saying:

            “Alert! You have stopped driving. Are you all right? I will drive you to a hospital.”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        When SOON ended with the supernatural desiccation of Los Angeles (Los Atheis?), there was a Jenkins mention of the RTCs living it up in the desiccated area, taking possession of the cars and stuff of “The Judged” as war booty.

  7. Ugh. Would it be uncouth of me to puke on Jenkins’ shoes if I ever met him? What a creepy ghoul. At least in Fallout the corpse-robbing can be put down to the world being just that harsh and scarce on resources and you need to find improvements somewhere. Similar with career adventurers in a fantasy game, with an optional justification of keeping powerful and dangerous stuff out of enemy hands. In a rich, abundant modern-day or near-future First World setting like Atheistopia it’s just disturbing.

    I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have called him a ghoul, especially with Fallout being brought up. Most of the ghouls throughout that series are more pleasant than the normal humans. It’s not fair to insult them by comparison to Jenkins.

    • I would rather like to see Paul meet Roy Phillips. I mean, granted, it’d last two seconds, but those two seconds might be quite entertaining.

  8. “Gee, thanks, Jack, good to know that you’re not posing the bodies in humorous ways, I guess.”

    Good point. First they prayed for these people to die, now they’re stripping them naked or near-naked, rifling through their stuff to take their ID (or, as Ivan pointed out, actually ripping open their arms to get their ID chips, if Jenkins could remember his own worldbuilding for two damn seconds at a time), and leaving them where they are: how much more disrespect did they actually plan? I suppose what he means is that they’re praying over the bodies. Of almost-certainly atheists. Who they already prayed to die. And go to Hell. Real respectful.

  9. I’ve been thinking about this looting business on and off and I still can’t come up with a good reason why its needed. The Underground Christians knew WHAT was coming, knew exactly WHEN it was coming, but don’t appear to have done much, if any, prepping for it. What kind of underground movement doesn’t prepare for the worst?
    Obviously, they now needed new IDs, so I suppose if they couldn’t fake these they’d have to steal them. But stealing these from people known to be dead, in a society where everybody is on a database? Just moving to a different town where they won’t be recognised won’t stop the Atheistopian cops from coming after them.
    And I suppose they’d need to change their cars as well, since, of course, every car is on a database. But couldn’t acquiring vehicles that are at least semi-legal have been a part of their preparation beforehand? That would be much easier than hurriedly stealing cars belonging to now-dead people.
    And once again – WHY STEAL CLOTHING??? FROM DEAD PEOPLE??? Are these Zealots so underground that they haven’t ventured out clothes chopping for years and are walking around in patched rags?

    I know Jenkins is aiming for a modern-day ‘Plagues of Egypt’ storyline, but can he claim any biblical justification for this godawful looting of corpses? I don’t remember that from the Bible.

    • I’ve been trying to puzzle that out myself. Why steal the clothes? The best theory I’ve been able to come up with is this: When a person is killed by a direct act of god, a residual charge of divine energy remains in the fabrics they wore at the time. The zealots gather the clothes and fashion them into scarecrows. They plant these scarecrows around their base, forming a protective ward. Atheists will be unable to approach these divinely imbued talismans. The presence of god radiating from the scarecrows will force any atheist to flee in terror.

      Another thing that I find strange here is how incredibly convoluted the moral rules are. Stealing clothes is fine as long as you are “respectful” to the naked corpses you’re leaving in your wake. But don’t try stealing any money, because that would still be wrong. Respectfulness only entitles you to clothes, not cash. Taking cars, however, is fair game. Provided that you are “on the right side”. Napalm-barreling is a terrible evil, death-prayers are perfectly justified.

      I’ve been reading Adam Lee’s critique of Atlas Shrugged, and Pudgy Jack’s weird and inconsistent morality reminds me of that. Rand’s heroes throw huge hissy fits whenever someone tries to make them do something they don’t like, such as pay taxes or obey safety regulations. And yet these same heroes feel free to take or destroy anything they want as long as they can rationalize that other people weren’t using it the right way.

      • It’s a sort of opposite of situational morality: act X is a right act because it is being committed by a good person, and the same act committed by a bad person would be a wrong act.

        • Or rather, Act X is a right act because it’s being committed for the correct philosophical reasons – Christians can loot corpses and Objectivist pirates can rob relief ships, and it’s all okay because the proceeds are going to benefit their author’s chosen cause.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Rand’s heroes throw huge hissy fits whenever someone tries to make them do something they don’t like, such as pay taxes or obey safety regulations. And yet these same heroes feel free to take or destroy anything they want as long as they can rationalize that other people weren’t using it the right way.

        Well, Objectivism IS a philosophy of Utter Selfishness…

      • They should eat the corpses to gain residual Holy Spirit energy.

        Stealing clothes is fine as long as you are “respectful” to the naked corpses you’re leaving in your wake.

        I’m guessing they are “respecting” the corpses by leaving their underwear, because murder is one thing, but nudity is Teh Ebil.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I know Jenkins is aiming for a modern-day ‘Plagues of Egypt’ storyline…

      Which is a real kicker when you remember all this shit started out as an attempt to retell the Book of Acts in a near-future setting. I don’t remember ANY “Plagues of Egypt” in the Book of Acts. (Though Peter’s miraculous escape from the Antonia and its implied immediate aftermath comes across as a Mission Impossible with a sense of humor.)

  10. Only Some Stardust

    Don’t they have license plates / car ids in this future? Street cams? Just driving a stolen car should catch notice and cause a flag in the surveillance databases. How are they going to change the plates on these cars? I suppose it might make more sense if instead of using the cars they simply sold them on the black market.

    This is a power fantasy, truly the oldest one in the book (or second oldest, if murdering your enemies is first). “I shall take stuff from my enemy, regardless if I truly need it or not.” “I deserve this more than you so I am going to take it.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Like the desiccation of Los Angeles for the RTCs, it’s a Cozy Catstrophe, Night of the Comet sub-type. “YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS? MALLS ARE OPEN!”

  11. I’ve thought of a way the Zealots could have acquired new IDs, if they’d done their prepping: they could have sought out loners and drifters, people with no close family or friends, murdered them and assumed their identities. Simples!
    But of course, killing people is bad and against the Ten Commandments…..

  12. Something that just occurred to me – are the zealots “respectfully” leaving the stripped bodies at the scene of their demise, or taking them elsewhere, possibly for a “respectful” burial? Because a stolen identity is a little more likely to be useful when the original owner’s body is buried in an unmarked grave in the woods rather than lying in the road waiting to be found, identified, and officially listed as dead by the authorities.

    • There is still a problem. The zealots are not stealing any money, because the dead may have “left families who need their resources”. In order to follow their convoluted morality, they need to ensure that the money ends up with the correct next of kin. So if they are not leaving the money next to a naked body on the street, they must make other arrangements. Perhaps sending the money by mail. But then, anonymous envelopes of cash arriving to persons with missing family members would be a pretty conclusive clue that they are in fact dead. Defeating the purpose of hiding the bodies in the first place.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Remember who wrote these three piles of Jesus Junk.

        The Greatest Christian Author of All Time (GCAAT — “See How Clever I Am?”) has never been known for thinking things through; why should he start now?

      • Actually, envelopes full of cash arriving at a house would seem to imply that their relatives were not dead, because who else would have reason to send them money? On the other hand, the only reason to go into hiding would seem to be if you were part of the Christian Underground, which means the whole thing would be useless.

        • If one family received an envelope of money, that would imply that the missing relative is still alive. But if many families are receiving such envelopes, that’s a suspicious pattern. And most people don’t carry large amounts of cash, so the envelope would contain a rather odd amount to be a gift. The police would notice when numerous missing person reports mention the family receiving an envelope containing seventeen dollars and fifty-five cents (or something similar). That feels less “person in hiding helping their family” and more “murderer feeling guilty and trying clumsily to make amends”.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      How do you loot bodies “respectfully”?
      Make long prayers?
      Quote a Bible verse (Book of Joshua, maybe)?
      Or just Greyhawk them while the melee’s still going on?

      • What kind of prayer would be appropriate for the known-to-be-damned? “May the fires not be quite as hot as they could be even though you totally deserve the worst suffering only God could imagine”?

        (What’s Greyhawk them mean?)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          When I encountered it in D&D in the mid-nineties, “Greyhawking” meant obsessively looting the enemy dead without even waiting for the melee to end. (As in while you’re still fighting the bad guys/boogies.) And by “looting” they meant every dagger and copper piece (and any stitch of clothing that might be valuable) on the body.

          “Greyhawk” was also the name of Gary Gygax’s first D&D Campaign (though Arneson’s “Blackmoor” has a better case of being the first D&D), but I don’t know how the word got the later meaning.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for February 13, 2015 | The Slacktiverse

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