Spoiler warning? I still don’t know if we’re actually supposed to know if Carpathia is the antichrist yet. I mean, it could not be more obvious, but this is a book about the Rapture that had to tell us crime was happening rather than show us any crime to convince us that it was the Rapture right now, so…
Left Behind: Chapter 16
Buck is pretty sure the authorities are going to arrest him and extradite him to the UK and get framed for the murder of his two conspiracy theory friends. BUT Buck has to get his interview with Carpathia, because-
So they come up with a plan where his editor/boss, Steve, will go into the hotel with the fake press credentials that the police know Buck is using. If the police arrest him, then Buck is free to go in and interview Carpathia. Even the book is kinda eh about this one.
Both knew the plan was flimsy
So, naturally, it works perfectly.
Buck gets into the hotel, but not without escaping the notice of RIVAL PRESS REPORTER Eric Miller!
Who is suddenly here, now, a character in this story apparently.
“[Buck], what’s going on? The cops just shuttled your boss out of here, claiming he was you!”
“Do me a favor,” Buck said. “Sit on this for at least half an hour. You owe me that.”
“I owe you nothing, Williams,” Miller said. […] “If you’re trying to call Carpathia, [Buck], you can forget it. We’ve been trying all night.” […]
Rosenzweig answered Buck’s call. “Chaim, it’s Cameron Williams. May I come up?”
Eric Miller slammed his phone down and moved close.
[Buck] grabbed Miller’s shirt at the neck and pressed him against the wall.
“Listen, Eric, I told you I’d call you first with what’s shakin’ here, but if you try to horn in on this or follow me, I’m gonna leave you dry.”
Was this book written in the 1990s or the 1890s? What slang is this?
When Buck emerged [from the elevator], he was astounded to see that Miller had somehow beat him there and was hurriedly introducing himself to a uniformed guard as Steve Plank.
“Mr. Rosenzweig is waiting for you, sir,” the guard said.
“Wait a minute!” Buck shouted, showing Steve’s press credentials. “I’m Plank. Run this impostor off.” […]
Buck, younger and in better shape, overtook Miller and tackled him in the hallway, causing doors up and down the corridor to open.
Eventually, Buck gets to his interview with Carpathia, the novel’s primary antagonist who has had almost no dialogue and has somehow already been completely upstaged by Buck’s rival journalist who was just introduced a few pages ago.
Although as soon as the thoroughly inconsequential scene with Buck getting into a brawl over JOURNALISM ends and we finally get somewhere, the chapter immediately switches over to Rayford. Guess what Rayford is up to!
All of the above!
Rayford felt terrible about Hattie Durham.
I like how kicking off a Rayford chapter with some variation on literally spelling out “Rayford felt [sad]” is this deeply embedded into the book’s DNA already. Even the book knows that Rayford only exists in the story to feel bad about things. Although this is still better than how Hattie only exists in the book to be sexually desired. Or used in some other weird way.
His real motive, even for talking with Hattie, was to communicate to Chloe. Hadn’t she seen enough yet?
You ask a good question, book. How could the characters in this book possibly still not be like, “Oh yeah, this is the Rapture. It’s pretty obvious.”
That’s all that happens in Rayford’s scene before the book cuts back to Buck again. Even the book knows that Rayford is pointless.
Not that it’s doing a much better job selling Carpathia as the formidable antichrist.
“You do not mind my calling you Buck, do you? […] They call you that because you buck the traditions and the trends and the conventions, am I right?”
I don’t think we’ve taken any time recently to fully appreciate how fucking stupid Buck’s name-cum-entire character sketch is, so it seems like a good time for…
- “No need to tell me who you are. Red hair? Hand-me-down robes? You must be a redhairhandmedownsley. They call you that because you all have red hair and a lack of means in a scarcity-based economy, am I right?”
- “I could easily forgive Mr. Prejudice, if he had not mortified me, Miss Pride. They call us that because we are respectively prejudiced and prideful, am I right?”
- “Aren’t you a little short to be a stormtrooper?”
“What? Oh, the uniform! I’m Humbleorigins Rescuepeople! I’m here to rescue you!”
I’m gonna be honest. Buck and Carpathia have a really, really fucking long conversation in this chapter that I can barely follow. They go back and forth and back and forth about how Carpathia can help Buck out of his jam with the secret society that’s trying to kill him, except Carpathia is totally not involved with said secret society. That’s really it. Most of the chapter is this cat-and-mouse conversation with absurdly esoteric lines like “I believe in the power of money” and “The secretary-general must devote his time to the problems within Botswana. But first he will endorse my plan for the Security Council”, and fuck if I know what it’s all supposed to mean. None of this makes any goddamn sense. But Buck’s not gonna die any time soon. So nothing else that this chapter is about really matters anyway.
And Carpathia also gets a call from the president of the United States, asking him to stay as a guest at the White House, because this is not a book with particularly thought-provoking signifiers.
Well, at least we have good old Rayford to keep things simple. How ya feeling, Ray?
Rayford Steele could not sleep. For some reason he was overcome anew with grief and remorse over the loss of his wife and son.
Oh, phew. I wouldn’t know what we would do if we had a Rayford scene that didn’t establish that he was sad within the first few lines. I’d probably just have assumed he totally got over his raptured family.
In a way he felt he deserved this pain, though he knew better. He was beginning to understand the forgiveness of God
…is he though? I’m not religious, but I’m pretty sure there’s a bit more to it than the “you don’t need to understand all this theologically” approach to “aaaaaaaaand now you’re Christian!” religious awakening this book is taking. For a Christian fiction novel, I am learning very little about what it means to let God into your life in comparison to what I’m learning about batshit insane international political theory.
I do have to give some credit to this next bit, though, that finally realizes that Rayford is an insufferably boring character and needs some kind of recognizable conflict.
What more could he say or do? Bruce had encouraged him just to pray, but he was not made that way. He would pray, of course, but he had always been a man of action.
Although it will remain to be seen if this story ever recognizes this isn’t an excuse for its own lack of action.