TEC: Chapter 14: Our Humble Hero

So we just saw a bunch of teenagers, recently orphaned, force-marched across the land to become eunuchs.

And now we catch up with Michael Murphy…waiting in a security line at the airport.

It had taken him almost an hour to get through the security check.

Oh boy.  Now I get to wait for another hour and forty-five minutes before the flight.

That’s “Oh great,” Murphy.  Pay attention.

Also, I get that it sucks to be in a security theatre line, but seriously, Phillips, you just finished with a chapter about force-marched eunuchized orphans.  Ever hear of first world problems?

Also, now that he’s through the line, he can just hang out until the flight.  So what’s to whine about? Get a coffee and read a damn book or play a game on your iPad or something, Murphy.

Okay, okay, I admit that one of my pet peeves is people whining about being “bored.”  Feeling bored just indicates a lack of imagination.  There is always something to do.

But I guess Murphy is just too special to wait in lines with the commoners:

Patience was not one of his virtues.  He didn’t like to wait in lines or sit around the airport.

Gorram, Murphy, you have a Ph.D.!!!  How are you unfamiliar with the concept of sitting and reading?

And oh yeah, he hates to wait in lines.  Because everyone else in the world loves that.

Not to mention, but that first bit about patience not being one of his virtues, reminds me of the Slacktivist’s observation about heroic “flaws” and how they parallel certain preachers he’s heard:

“I lose my patience in traffic,” the preacher says, as though confessing his worst sin. The unwillingness to admit to anything more meaningful — or the inability to recognize anything more meaningful — undermines the whole attempt to display humility. “Sometimes I’m ill-tempered,” he says,  as though this sets him apart. And then, you realize that what he’s really suggesting is that he’s more extravagantly remorseful that everyone else — that his guilt over such minor failings sets him apart from, and above, others.

NRA: Pulpit “humility”

And Phillips even goes out of his way to explain that Murphy isn’t like a normal, sinful impatient person—he has reasons to dislike lines and waiting:

It bothered him not to be active, doing something productive.

Again, this is an academic.  How is sitting and reading or writing not productive?  Hey, Professor, how about grading a few papers from that class you’re supposed to teaching while you’re traveling around the country in the middle of the semester again?

Now, you might think some kind of world-shattering event is going on to warrant Murphy’s very Christian impatience, but no, this less than three-page chapter (yep, it’s less than three pages, despite my bitching) is just about Murphy standing in line at the airport and then having dinner with Isis.

She looked like a supermodel who had just stepped off a fashion runway.

Sure, nothing less than a supermodel for Our Hero.

Who would have thought she was an academic?

Um, everybody, according to the first book.  But Phillips isn’t into things with even a hint of subtlety, like an academic who dresses frumpily in oversized sweaters but is super-pretty.  Nope, she has to look just like a model.

And he’s not there to date the supermodel or anything.  Perish the thought.  Just like in the last book, Murphy only contacts Isis when he wants something from her.  This time, he wants her to come along so she can verify the writing on the wall.

Isis doesn’t call him on this fact quite as well as she did last time.  In fact, she barely does at all, only sounding “a little irritated.”

But never fear, Murphy knows how to manipulate Isis.  Er, make it right with her, I mean.  Make it right:

He leaned forward, stretched out a hand toward her, and said soberly, “Isis, I want you to go with me.  Even if we don’t find anything, I want you by my side.”

“Right up until the moment we get back, at which point we’ll each go back to our lives as though nothing happened…at least until the next time I need something from you.”

Ugh, this is giving me flashbacks to my last relationship.  Dammit, I knew there was a reason I disliked Murphy!  😀

 

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Posted on March 8, 2016, in The Europa Conspiracy. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. One of the things fiction can easily do is compress time. “After a tedious wait at the airport and a cramped flight, Murphy met Isis and…” But hey, we’re being paid by the word, right?

    Has Pastor Bob ever seen a supermodel? They really don’t look like normal women. I’m sure there are people who favour that body type, but what that word says to me is not “utterly gorgeous” as he clearly intends, but rather “unusually tall and thin, with an unhealthily low level of body fat”. He’s using the cliché and not even thinking about it. I’ve probably just now put more thought into that one word than he did.

    (Divagation: I’ve recently written a (non-fiction) book. Very few people will buy it, but I have gone to a lot of trouble to make sure every single word is the right word in the right place. I get irked when I see writing that’s clearly come out with the ease, speed, quality and attention to detail of a bowel movement.)

    Real Isis has long since escaped, of course. Meta-Isis is a highly trained agent for the Eight (You Haven’t Heard Of Us, We’re Not The Seven) whose job is to make sure all this stuff happens as scheduled and nobody suspects anything. It’s all a setup to discredit RTCianity forever, by building up its great hero and then revealing the truth (just after the end of the final book).

    …what, don’t other people build fantasy plots to get through this stuff?

    • Yup. I’ve been writing up my Lost & Abandoned project on the comments section of Fred’s Left Behind reviews for a while now. Basic idea is that Left Behind is set within the World of Darkness RP setting. Based largely on how many plot holes I spackled over just by dropping it into the game setting.

      • Which World of Darkness? (Old or New?)

        • New, mainly because that’s the one I’ve got all the books for. Though I’ve got a few people interested in the idea of writing in characters from OW’s Changeling: the Dreaming as well. As long as we can find ways to keep everything coherent, I’m all for it.

          • InquisitiveRaven

            Before Fred moved to Patheos, I’d tried to get a Mage: the Ascension RP going. It all started with a character I’d cooked up as a Buck Williams expy who was a member of the New World Order. Maybe I’ll try to revive it.

          • Inquisitive, it won’t let me respond directly to you for some reason, so I’m talking to myself. Sorry.

            Good choice, I wrote Buck in as a member of the Secret Keepers faction of Network Zero, a group of NWoD Hunters. The SK’s main focus is to keep a lid on everything, because they feel mankind is NOT ready to know the truth about the supernatural. That pathological fear of sharing what he knows carries over after he converts.

          • If I’d played M:tA, I’d probably be totally on board. But I was more or less just a V:tM fanboy back in the day, and didn’t really branch out until NWoD.

          • I think the ‘some reason’ you can’t respond directly to IR is just that the comment system has made the interesting choice that when it can’t reasonably indent the nesting comments any further, it will just keep you from replying, so it doesn’t have to worry about trying to nest things deeper than that. Seems rather cart-before-the-horse, if you ask me, but that’s how it is (or at least seems to be).

  2. Um, Phillips? Here’s what a supermodel straight of the fashion runway possibly looks like, and this is not even going very far to the deep end: http://bjorkaoddities.com/images/portfolio/Fashion/Horrible_Fashion_Designs/19.jpg

    • OK, that is my new mental image of Agent Isis.

      Everyone else turns to look at her. Murphy doesn’t notice anything odd.

  3. It bothered him not to be active, doing something productive.

    I’m pretty sure that’s everyone’s problem with waiting and lines. You could be doing something with that time even if it’s just traveling to your next stop, but no you’re standing here doing nothing because of ineffective security theatre or because the store never staffs more than a quarter of its check-out lines at once or… well, any of a number of situations where you have to stop and wait just long enough to be insufferably dull but the high likelihood of being interrupted (to inch forward for more waiting) prevents you from getting into something.

    I know it’s a relatively minor complaint compared to the other grievous literary and moral sins this series commits, but this weird need to make Murphy seem special for being exactly like everyone else just gets under my skin. It’s so mundane that trying to claim it as an exceptional trait for someone just makes it sound like they’re insulting literally everyone else in the world as subhumanly stupid, just because they can’t come up with an actually exceptional trait to give Murphy.

    “I’m the only one special enough to be bored because I could be doing something else with my time – all the rest of you are useless drudges who are only impatient because you don’t know you deserve to have your time wasted.”

    • …And suddenly I want to read a book where the first thing we learn about the main character is that they love waiting in lines.

      • Where they then proceed to get tased by the TSA for being too conspicuously happy in an airport line?

        • Nah, they come there every couple of days or so as a hobby, so all the agents recognise them by now. What kind of security registers they’ve ended up in is another story entirely, though. (Possibly even the plot of the novel?)

      • One of my friends is working on a Changeling for my Lost & Abandoned project, and is planning to be one of the people who expands it from just fix-fics into an actual RP, who’s response to having been Fae-napped is that on his return to mundane life, he embraces the mundane to the point of being the antithesis of the Dos Equis guy. The embodiment of Banality, because it dampens his Wyrd, and strengthens his Clarity, helping him feel more human and less Changeling.

        The stricture and routine of waiting in lines would appeal to him quite a bit, I’m sure.

    • Maybe Pastor Bob reckons that the little people should be happy to wait in lines all day, but important people like pastors and archaeologists shouldn’t have to put up with stuff like that?

  4. My grandmother loved waiting in lines, but she was one of those people who got into cheery conversations with the people in front of her and behind her and by the time they got to the checkout counter the entire line would be chatting with one another and then the sales clerk would get drawn in too.

    I have yet to figure out how she did that.

  5. inquisitiveraven

    If I know I’m going to be waiting for a while I like to have a crochet project or reading material handy. I haven’t been on a plane since about 2005, but I like to joke that the security to get into jury duty where I am makes the TSA look sloppy, and they’ve generally been pretty chill about crochet hooks. Knitting needles not so much as someone I know found out, not even big honking plastic ones.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for March 11th, 2016 | The Slacktiverse

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