TEC: Chapter 59: A Building That’s on Fire
Disappointing Bingston, who feels “like a kid in a candy shop,” Murphy moves the team on from the Chamber of Wonders…
…back to the hallway of secret heavy doors. In fact, after a few minutes, they do find yet another secret door. In a bizarre scene, it takes the three men FORTY MINUTES to shove it open.
(By the way, I know Isis is A Girl and all, but didn’t Phillips spend a lot of time in Ararat telling us how fit and athletic Isis is? But no, A Girl can’t help. I picture her sitting back and filing her nails as the wussy men heave and sweat.)
(Also also, you guys had some cool ideas about Meth and how he found everything the team is now re-re-discovering. And no, Meth is not a secret angel. Which makes it all the more bizarre that he has apparently been here before, ALONE, getting through doors that it now takes three young men forty minutes to open…then closing them again as he leaves.)
The doors opens into a dining room with long tables, which Murphy immediately intuits was Belshazzar’s banquet hall.
“I have a feeling that we’re going to discover the Handwriting on the Wall very soon.”
Well, you’re not technically discovering shit, Murph, since Meth was here doing the discovering not too long ago.
Bingster finds the throne, and Murphy snidely corrects Isis on a very minor point about who say in which chairs. Then he Scooby-Doos that the writing must be on the opposite wall from the throne, where Bel could see it. So they all walk over to the wall, and Murphy goes for the drama:
“Let’s do this together,” Murphy advised. “Let’s all raise our lights at the same time and see what we might discover.”
Or, yanno, you could all just look however you like. But Murphy has apparently decided they’re in a movie. Either that, or if they all shine the lights at the same time, nobody will ever be able to claim they found the Handwriting before Murphy.
Yeah, I’m going with the latter option here.
And, of course, they immediately see the writing. Though Jassim sees it first.
Isis, expert that she is, explains it all:
“It says ‘ene, Tekel, Uphars–‘ This is it! The first Mene is missing along with the first letter of the second Mene. The Tekel is quite clear, and two letters are missing off the back end of Upharsin.”
Wow, thanks, Isis. It’s a damn good thing you’re here, as we could not have figured that out without you.
Jassim takes a zillion pictures while Murphy mopes.
“What’s wrong, Michael? Aren’t you happy?” Isis asked. “You’ve found the Handwriting on the Wall!”
“Well, Methuselah found it and dragged you to it by your nose, and the Marines did all the work, but still…you shined a flashlight! That’s something!”
“But I’m wondering what will happen when we share this news with the world. Will people believe it? Will this discovery really change anyone’s behavior? Will people understand the importance and significance of God’s coming judgment? I feel like I’ve been standing outside a building thats on fire. I yell for the people to come out and be saved from the flames, yet they ignore the warnings of smoke, heat, and my pleas.”
Well, I never thought I’d say this, but I get what Murphy means. I now know exactly what it feels like to see horror coming, yell warnings, yet know that many people will dance happily to our collective doom.
The difference being, of course, that Donald is a real person in the real world, soon to be exercising real power. As opposed to Murphy’s God.
And, of course, Murphy’s God certainly has no interest in preserving this thing after Murphy’s seen it, much like he had no interest in keeping the Ark out in the open after Murphy had found it.
Because JUST AT THAT MOMENT, an earthquake hits.
Everyone hits the deck (Murphy, because he’s the designated hero, gets to shove Girl Isis out of the way of falling debris). Jassim gets his leg broken and Bingber helps him out of the tunnel, but silly Muslim Jassim is so pained by his little ole broken leg that he drops the camera, so heroic Christian Bingwold runs back to get it.
And just as he gets so far in that they can’t go in after him..an aftershock!
There was absolutely no hope that Will could have survived.
If you say so, man.
Murphy and the reader can mourn poor Bingbell’s death for half a sentence before…
[Murphy] felt a tap on his shoulder. He spun round and there was Bangham—his clothes torn and dusty—with a huge grin on his face. In his hand he held the camera, battered but intact.
“Looking for this, Murphy?” he asked.
HE’S A DEMON!!! OR POSSIBLY A ZOMBIE!!! RUUUUNNNNNNNN
Bob Phillips: not exactly the master of suspense.