Monthly Archives: May 2015

Shadowed: Chapter 23: This Is It, Part Deux

Lest you think we’ve heard the last of the horror that is Doctor Assface deliberately withholding medical care from atheists so they’ll heal slower, another underground Christian has thought of a way to make the whole thing even more terrible.

Straight wants some advice from Abraham, the head of the Heartland underground.  (It just kills me that I can remember that it’s Heartland, while Jenkins persists in calling it “Michigan/Ohio.”)

A few interesting points:

-Abraham still operates under his code name, while knowing everything about Straight and his life.

-He is also the first person in this series to refer to Straight as “Dr. Rathe.”  But there is so little description of how the characters are speaking that I don’t know if this is supposed to be a respectful acknowledgement of Straight’s Ph.D. in history, or an ironic reference to the simple fact that Straight volunteers at a hospital.

But I’m stalling.  Based solely on Straight’s retelling of the conversation, Abraham concludes that Doctor Slow-the-Atheists “sounds credible,” but that the relationship between he and Straight should be more “reciprocal.”

“And what do I want from him?” [asked Straight]

Abraham offered a weary smile.  “Think, man.  What do we most need?”

“Brother, I haven’t thought clearly for days.  Forgive me and tell me.”

Abraham sighed.  “You say this doctor assured you he doesn’t do any real harm to these patients, which would violate his oath. …”

I see we’re still going along with this fiction that slowing a patient’s recovery by days, perhaps weeks, is not doing any “real harm.”  You guys just keep telling yourselves that, I guess.

“…But surely a percentage of his cases are terminal nonetheless.  It would seem a small thing for him to let you know who those are early enough that you can take advantage of the information.”

“And appropriate their IDs.”

Good, Straight.  Don’t use the word “steal.”  Because stealing is wrong and stuff.

Abraham clapped a hand on Straight’s knee.  “See, you’re not so tired that it has completely clouded your judgment.”

It will never stop blowing my mind that Jenkins doesn’t see how monstrous this all is.  These are supposed to be the GOOD GUYS.  The GOOD ones.

***

Meanwhile, a far less monstrous man, Ranold, has been named “interim head of NPO USSA.”  So he heads to the White House (or rather, just to the West Wing, since the rest of the place was destroyed during WWIII and Atheistopia was too busy curing cancer to rebuild).

Jenkins once again manages to confuse himself a bit here—the governor of the Columbia Region (hey, at least he didn’t call it “Washington, D.C, Maryland, and Virginia”!) was the last vice president of the United States, yet his duties are “largely ceremonial,” yet it was his decision to name Ranold as the head of the entire CIA/FBI…

I’ll admit I don’t get it.

Anyway, Ranold likes the guy much more than Ball Dangler.  And despite Ranold getting a bit too big for his britches and interrupting the guy (“Haywood Hale,” if you please), he manages to save himself, and it is strongly implied that Ranold and Haywood are, at the very least, more simpatico than Ranold and Dangler.

***

Meanwhile meanwhile, Pudgy Jack is having a meeting of “the elders” of the underground, complete with flipchart, with Bible verses allegedly greenlighting his brilliant flood-the-entire-planet-except-L.A.” plan.

So in one chapter, we have two different sets of Christians plotting how best to destroy the people who survived the first massacre, who still have the temerity not to side with those who prayed for the deaths of their loved ones.

Shockingly enough, after all that’s happened and all he prayed for, Paul thinks this is a step too far.  Or, at the very least, that Jack is starting to sound mildly unhinged.

Though Paul thinks this mostly because they have “more pressing business“—they have to get out of their underground bunker before the NOP raids them…in ten days.

Ten days.

I can’t even begin to imagine what would take them ten days to get ready.  Just go get ’em, yanno?

Both sides in this conflict just suck.

 

 

Shadowed: Chapter 22: Now an Agnostic

Felicia and Cletus read the newspaper to each other over dinner.  This seems a tad odd as Felicia clearly has purchased an actual paper newspaper, when in the first book, Soon, a character expresses surprise that a younger man would even know what a book is.  Hell, nowadays, plenty of big cities have reduced their print editions to a couple of days of the week, the rest available via online subscription.

Anywho, the scene has nothing to do with Felicia and Cletus and how they’re coping.  It just has to do with how Trudy was right and the world is coming to see that it is best to capitulate to terrorists.  As several of you pointed out last time, that’s exactly what happened after 9/11, right?

Jenkins, surprisingly, gives credit where it’s due to the atheists-no-more:

“I was an atheist who is now an agnostic.  But that sounds foolish even to me when the promise of a curse, a plague, has been carried out before my eyes.  Hear me: I will not worship this vengeful God.  But neither will I ever again pretend He doesn’t exist and has not the power to squash me like a bug.”

Well, on second thought: this guy does confirm that atheists are only pretending not to believe in God.

Jenkins also makes sure to point out that Christians are “the new minority, the new oppressed.”

When I have the power to call down death from the skies, I’m sure I will feel, if nothing else, really oppressed.

Also, I wonder how these now-agnostics would react if they knew that even as they spoke of conciliation,the Christians were brainstorming even more ways to slaughter them all.

Still, Felicia feels bad for the poor widdle RTCs, because the atheists’ reactions are focused only on God’s wrath, not his love and mercy.

Go figure.

***

Meanwhile, Ranold is a bit of his own oppressed minority: one of the few people who actually wants to get some shit done, even if it is the apocalypse and all.  And he’s ready to head to Switzerland to see the leader of the free world in person, to either “talk sense to the man or muscle him out of the way.”  And when it becomes clear that Ball Dangler has only one issue on his mind (talking to Paul), it’s kinda hard to blame Ranold.

***

Meanwhile meanwhile, Paul has been noodling (GORRAM, I hate when the word “noodle” is used as a verb) the idea of contacting Bia Balaam.  After extensive praying about it, he…decides to play games with her.  He decides to “leave the burden on her,” which translates to her calling him again and again and again, and he never actually answering.  So finally, she reveals that she knows exactly where the underground is and who all is there, and that an attack is planned.

Well, hell, I’m glad someone besides poor Ranold is interested in taking some actual action beyond writing letters to the editor.

But that’s not the most exciting part.  Felicia is so upset that the atheists didn’t see God’s infinite compassion when he killed every firstborn son on the planet, that she enlists Hector Hernandez to send Paul’s instructions on how to switch teams receive Christ as their savior to every computer on the planet.  And I dunno, didn’t a bunch of Atheistopians just say that they had no intention of ever worshipping such a god?

Weird chick since she converted, Felicia is.

Shadowed: Chapter 20, Part 3 and Chapter 21: One More Crusade

One little subplot tacked onto the end of Chapter 20 and then, inexplicably, broken up and continued in Chapter 21, has to do with our favorite new RTC, Felicia.  She has hunted down one of the IT guys who is trying to hack into the underground’s network.

OR IS HE???

In fact, he is, of course, not trying.  Or perhaps he is “slowing” progress.  Either way, he vaguely hinted to Felicia that he had sympathies with Paul.  So when Felicia accidentally startles him in his cubicle and he spills his coffee, he…draws a fishie in the spill.

Weird dude.

And because Felicia is so well-versed in Christian symbology…

…she immediately gets the reference.

They’ve barely begun a conversation when a female security guard named Trudy shows up…but she’s a secret believer, too!

Fun!  And all the secret believers at the Chicago NPO bureau have a monthly secret meeting—at a seafood restaurant!

HA!

(By the way, this doesn’t exactly speak well of them, of Paul, or especially of Straight.  Paul could have had an entire network of support, from basically every department at his workplace, over the whole course of the last two books, and NOBODY KNEW WHO WAS ACTUALLY A SECRET CHRISTIAN.)

Worst spygames ever.

Trudy mentions that the newspapers have been full of:

“Editorials, opinions, letters to the editor—everybody’s ready to cut the underground some slack.

…even unbelievers are getting on the bandwagon.  Nobody wants a repeat of what just happened.”

Well, I can think of one or two people who do want a repeat of what just happened…though even worse.

Aside from that, although I can imagine some people being so blinded by fear that they want to cut some slack to the worshippers of this murdering god, I can imagine many more people who would be so angry about that little matter of husbands and fathers and sons dying that they would never consider such a thing.

***

Speaking of Pudgy Jack, he’s still obsessed with this plan, and wants to set out on a little crusade to the other underground RTC locations, “to encourage them, tie them together, and rally them to pray for one more dramatic act of God.”

Because, after all, it has been nearly one whole week since the deaths of millions upon millions of innocents.

Paul was fighting him, agreeing with Greenie that if the slaying of firstborn sons around the world had not reached the hard hearts of the people, nothing would.

Well, yeah, that’s Jack’s whole point, Paul.  They’ve got hard hearts (just because they were raised atheist and then a god murdered their loved ones), so they deserve to drown or die of thirst.  That’s Jack’s kind of logic.

And lest we think too well of Paul, he’s against this plan mostly because he doesn’t want to leave Jae.  This is a much bigger reason for him than preventing the deaths of billions of people.

Just as Pudgy Jack is outlining his latest idiotic scheme to Paul (I’m actually not sure how much sympathy Jenkins wants us to have for Pudgy Jack and his world-destroying scheme), Paul gets a skullphone call (left on his skullphone voicemail) from Bia Balaam.

And bizarrely, Jenkins immediately attempts to retcon Paul’s opinion of Bia:

…Bia was everything the former Paul Stepola would have admired in an NPO chief: ruthless, cold, cruel, ambitious, condescending, sarcastic.

Except that Paul hated Bia Balaam at first “sight” (since he was blind at the time).

Why the retcon?  Well, that’s an interesting question.  I’m willing to bet that a big part of the answer is that Bia has been brought low.  And if here’s one thing Paul likes, it’s when a woman is made to feel pain.  Here is part of her message:

“I am going to betray the NPO, betray my government, and go against everything I ever knew, was ever taught.  …  I’m conceding.  You win.  Your people and your God have proven themselves, at least to me.  I have lost my son, my everything, and I have nothing more to lose, nothing more to offer.  No way I’ll risk my daughter’s life for a cause I no longer believe in.”

I have lost everything…except my daughter.  I have nothing more to lose…except my daughter.

Meh, what’s a daughter when you have a son, amirite?

Also, chalk up yet another person who doesn’t want to follow their beloved child to Hell.

Oh Bia.  Bia, Bia, Bia.