There’ll be one more Left Behind post after this one. Then we’re going to finish off Mockingjay and put the Hunger Games movies to bed for good (not a moment too soon) and then continue our regular Let’s Reads.
I guess Rayford managed to pull of that difficult landing between chapters, because we open with the plane already landed and the cabin crew directing passengers to exit via those slide things. Check out this harrowing, nerve-shredding action:
Many feared they would be unable to jump and slide down the chutes, especially with their carry-on luggage. They were instructed to remove their shoes and to jump seatfirst onto the chute. Then crew members would toss them their shoes and bags. They were advised not to wait in the terminal for their checked baggage. That, they were promised, would eventually be delivered to their homes.
Passangers have to wait for their luggage to be delivered? Truly, the end times have come.
There’s a brief comedy bit where Buck tries to be Mr. Cool Guy going down the slide and bungles it, cracking the back of his head against the runway (better get checked for a concussion dude), and then Ray, his co-pilot and Hattie are the only ones left to disembark.
A slightly odd episode ensues, in which Ray refuses an offer to ride on one of the shuttle buses that’s come to transport people to the terminal because he thinks all of the space should be given to the passengers. His co-pilot Christopher decides he’s going to take the bus because fuck walking, and Ray makes a somewhat bigger fuss over this than I would have expected.
Rayford glared at him. “You’re serious?”
“I don’t get paid enough for this.”
“Like this was the airline’s fault. Chris, you don’t mean it.”
“The heck I don’t. By the time you get up there, you’ll wish you’d ridden, too.” “I should write you up for this.”
Later in the chapter we learn that Christopher’s sons disappeared and his wife died in a car crash, and he kills himself in remorse. This has a very morality play feel to it, where he suffers an unfortunate fate for having the temerity to… ride a bus instead of making a big show of humility like Ray.
Of course, our man Ray has also lost his wife and child, although he doesn’t know it yet. Inside the terminal we’re subjected to paragraph after paragraph of flight plans and logistics, which I’ll skip, and Ray manages to confirm that his college-attending daughter Chloe is alive and unraptured. But his attempts to call home are fruitless.
Well, at least he knew Chloe was still around. All he wanted was to hold her.
Can’t you just feel his relief?
Ray manages to finagle his way onto a helicopter heading out of the city (by waving his pilot credentials around, which is apparently okay even though riding a shuttle bus was unthinkable) and brings Hattie with him.
He buckled himself in and Hattie sat in his lap.
Uh huh. Okay, book. Sure.
But suicide! Was that an option for Rayford? No, not with Chloe still there. But what if he had discovered that Irene and young Ray were gone and Chloe had been killed? What would he have to live for?
Dude sounds like he’s considering switching his brand of toothpaste. This story really needs a shot of adrenaline, or possibly a better author.
Would he want to live if Hattie Durham were the only person he cared about? And why did he care about her? She was beautiful and sexy and smart, but only for her age.
One thing I’ve been wondering about is if Hattie is meant to be one of the heroes, or if the book is going to portray her as a home-wrecking harlot. Since this is a story written by and for fundamentalist Christians, and given what happened with Christopher, we can probably assume that the good, virtuous people come out okay while the bad people have various unfortunate things happen to them. According to the wiki she does eventually become a Christian, but only after marrying the antichrist and going through what appears to be a lengthy anti-abortion sub-plot.
Meanwhile, Buck gets around to reading the email from his editor, which instructs him to head off on a top secret journalism mission. Its goal? To investigate the sinister Jewish conspiracy currently convening in New York!
Political editor wants to cover a Jewish Nationalist conference in Manhattan that has something to do with a new world order government. Why they care about that, I don’t know, and the political editor doesn’t either. Religion editor has something in my in box about a conference of Orthodox Jews also coming for a meeting. These are not just from Israel but apparently all over, and they are no longer haggling over the Dead Sea Scrolls.
I think a lot of people don’t realise this, but some flavours of apocalypse-driven Christianity tend to be extremely anti-semitic. Jews and Isreal are frequently asserted to play roles in the end times that aren’t exactly flattering, either as instruments of an oppressive one world government (in this regard apocalyptic Christians are similar to secular conspiracy mongers, who are also fond of New World Order regimes headed by “international bankers”) or as bit-players whose role is to get the end of the world started by fulfilling some checkpoint in the end times prophecy and then obediently die so the good God-fearing folks don’t have to share a planet with them any more.
Needless to say, if you’re not steeped in LeHay and Jenkins’ particular brand of religion, suddenly invoking Jewish conspiracies seems both nonsensical and extremely off-putting.
Buck’s editor also name-drops a Romanian politician named Nicolae Carpathian. He is later revealed to be the antichrist. In case you were wondering.
His personality says “The Beast whose arrival was foretold in the book of Revelations” but his face says “that anal-retentive middle manager you hated in your first office job.”
That’s it for Ray and Buck and friends, but before we leave the Left Behind series there’s one more thing I want to write about. See, while the main series was happening LeHay and Jenkins decided to flip their chairs around youth-pastor style and write/commission a series of young adult Left Behind books, called Left Behind: The Kids (or Left Behind >The Kids< as it’s for some reason spelled on the covers). They were respectively 48 and 71 years old at that point.
I am dying to know what these books are like.