Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Buck's Conversion

He had stared his own mortality in the face and had to acknowledge that something otherworldly -- yes, supernatural, something directly from God almighty -- had been thrust upon those dusty hills in the form of a fire in the sky.

That's when it all fell apart. That day when the bombs failed to fall. Surely it was the Hand of God that reached out to spare the Holy Land. Nothing had been right since then, but something so big, so enormous wasn't something that Buck was ready to accept at the time. None of the world was really. Buck had sidled up to the realization of God, catching glimpses out of the corner of his eye -- waking up from terrible dreams of fire falling on dusty hills, feeling his breath falter when he heard an unfamiliar noise, looking up into the sky more than he had before that terrible day.

Sometimes, when forced to endure the quiet of his apartment, he would find himself trying to explain it all away. Every time, his explanations range hollow -- false words from a false man who just wanted things to stay the same. Each time, it too a little more convincing to deny the miracle.

When the faithful vanished, Buck sought refuge in the same flimsy excuses and rationalizations. A strange electro-magnetic event. Sunspots. Aliens seeking conquest. Each time he sought answers, his mind circled back to that day -- the day he stood in the presence of God.
For days now, he had avoided even thinking about it. He was too busy, he told himself. He was going to get the big story, find out the truth. No matter that he knew his career was all built on bluff and misdirection. This time, this time, he'd get it right. Hell, maybe he'd even get the girl for once. So he asked for the interview with Raymond. He'd make this story personal -- an interview with the pilot of his plane when the Event happened. Surely he could write that.

Then Raymond had spent the entire interview talking about his theories of God and the Rapture. At first, Buck has been irritated. What Steele had said wasn't going to make good copy. Readers didn't want to read about yet another theory, and Buck didn't really want to write about it anyway.

As Raymond was drawing to a close, the universe shifted. Buck's soul was torn open and left quivering in a unrelenting spotlight of harsh truth. It wasn't Raymond speaking anymore, but God. God, through some unfathomable mystery, had put Buck on that flight. For some explicable reason, Buck -- horrible sinner that he was -- mattered. In that instant of horrific clarity, Buck saw himself. All his faults were laid bare; his self-denial, his disloyalties, his jealous fantasies - all burned themselves into his awareness as Raymond, poor clumsy Raymond, spoke with God's voice of salvation.

Buck managed to pull himself together long enough to whisper his thanks to Raymond -- though he realized even then that his was truly thanking God -- before fleeing to his apartment.

He'd planned to get drunk.

Instead, he found himself remembering that day in Israel when the bombs failed to fall. Buck fell to his knees, unheeded tears streaming down his face as he confronted the truth. This was God's plan. God was bringing mankind to account at long last for all the horrors that he had done, and He had graciously taken His children out of the fray. Not only had the Lord spared those who had seen the truth, He had also done so in the most astonishing way possible. Even now, Jesus was reaching out a hand to those who had forsaken Him. In agony, Buck looked upon his soul and recoiled from what he saw. "Please," he whispered to God as he curled in upon himself, "Please forgive me."

Friday, January 25, 2008

Working Back Through Left Behind

One of the things that I've added to the Index is links to stories that are attached to specific page numbers.

There are only a few listed currently (see pp. 59, 228-231, 250-251, etc.), but I was wondering if people would be interested in a weekly writing competition to rewrite Right Behind from the beginning of Left Behind.

After each week, I could post a poll of the entries. The person with the highest amount of votes would get a special mention on the Index page.

This would be a fairly loose competition. There would be no formal guidelines for content other than it would have to address either the content of the Left Behind pages or the content of Fred's analysis.

If people are interested, go ahead and post in the comments here to let me know. If you're looking for Exharpazo permissions, contact either me (worldsandtime -at- gmail) or Inigo Montoya (legendary.writeoff.2007 -at- gmail). If we don't get much interest, I'll drop the idea.

Thanks for the attention,

Spherical Time

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tomorrow at Midnight

And there stood at each end of the Wailing Wall a grandfather clock, a mystery in the face of the greatest mystery of mankind. The clocks wouldn't have been considered anything interesting in Jerusalem by themselves, fanatics and crazy folk has set up far more bizarre displays at the Wailing Wall even before The Event, after The Event the displays became even more outlandish and incomprehensible. These clocks wouldn't have seemed interesting at all, except for the fact that they exploded.

The clocks sat at either end of the Wailing Wall all day and all night, incorrectly keeping the time, harming no one. Local authorities considered them so innocent in the face of many other more garish displays that they allowed the clocks to sit for a few days before attempting to remove them. It was then that the grandfather clocks became interesting.

Upon laying his hand on one of the grandfather clocks the luckless Israeli police officer burst into flames, along with the clock he was touching. The grandfather clock was completely destroyed, and all that was let of the police officer was a charred corpse. A grandfather clock was an odd mode of delivery for a bomb, but this was Jerusalem, and far more bizarre methods of death and terror had been implemented, even before The Event.

At noon they deployed the bomb squads robot to deal with the other clock. Remote inspection revealed no trace of a bomb, this one might have been a decoy, a gambit in the hopes the police would inspect it first and decide to let the other clock alone. Still it wasn't worth taking any chances, the bomb squad activated the robots pincers, and attempted to drag the clock over to the detonation van. This clock burst into flames too, taking with it $20,000 dollars worth of robot.

The next day the clocks reappeared, some say in the exact same positions as the day before, at least one of them was for certain, the bomb team had marked the second clocks outline with chalk, and the new one stood exactly within the lines.

The police weren't taking any chances this time, they cordoned off the area around the clocks, and just let them tick away. When they blew up, the police decided, there would be no one around except for the police, who would quickly put out the fire, and inspect the remains for clues too the bombers identity. So they let the clocks tick, and they did tick, for three days and nothing happened. The police were stumped, remote controlled cameras and thermal imaging revealed no bomb components in either of the clocks. but they didn't want to take the chance of touching them again. Nit being able to keep such large sections of the Wailing wall cordoned off for such long periods of time, the police allowed people nearby, but they had to stay outside of the clearly marked perimeter of the clocks.

And so the clocks stood when a tourist took note of them. The tourist wasn't interested in the clocks when he encountered the first one, only sparing a passing glance, noticing its engraving reading "Eli," but when he came across the second clock on the opposite end of the Wailing Wall engraved as "Moshie" he decided to give the clocks some thought. He watched the clocks for hours, and with the pen and stationary set he'd stolen from his hotel, he scratched out notes about the clocks. The clocks read five minutes after midnight, and after calculating the speed at which the clocks told time the tourist worked out that it would be almost seven years before the clocks would read midnight again.

After thinking about his discovery, the tourist turned the page on the stationary pad, and began making a list of all the things he wanted to do before it was midnight again.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Cookie Monster Part 1

Sarah looked up from wiping down the counter top when they walked in. The two seemed to have walked in from over a week ago, a normal totally infatuated couple who seemed to oblivious to world around them. Not there was anything wrong with that, well not anything wrong a week ago.

The man looked oddly familiar as he ordered two coffees and two double chocolate chunks, Sarah told them she'd bring them to their table. The man pawed around his wallet for cash and shrugged giving her a credit card. She smiled politely and pointed to the sign she taped to the register "At this time we can only accept cash, we apologize for any inconvenience." There was a pause and Sarah said "It's alright I'll bring them to you anyway, no worries." The woman said "thank you" and the man said nothing, unable to take his eyes off her as they walked to a booth in the small shop.

They talked in low voices and the man absentmindedly rubbed a spot on his head for a moment, Sarah's eyes hardened. She did recognize him, the reporter. She felt her self being pulled back to The Event. She had been handing over a drink to a customer when *fhit* there was no customer, only a pile of clothes and a cup of soda spreading rapidly across the floor. Her manager had been on a bathroom break, Sarah's first instinct was to run and fetch her but she stood rooted. Panic digging it's icy fingers into her ribs and the sounds of shouts and screams rippling up and down the terminal. Then the planes started falling.

She walked out into the hall, the cookie place was next to the duty free shop. Her friend who worked there had come out to investigate too. She met Shanti's frightened eyes with her own. Shanti turned when a sound like a cry of agony from animal in a trap echoed out from the store. A woman was holding a tiny bright red coat over a pile of clothes on the floor. Shanti gulped and walked to her, Sarah looked down the long concourse at the stream of rescue workers and volunteers carrying in the hurt and the dying from the tarmac.

She walked back into the shop. Her manager wasn't coming back from that break. Panic congealed into cold hard fear. She couldn't just stand there, she had to help. She saw the cooler full of bottled water and juices, she rolled a cart out of the storeroom and loaded it up. She wheeled it down the hallway, passing unBearably Cute, where the customers acted like a mix of the woman at the duty free shop and frantically digging and searching through the barrels of stuffed animal skins and stuffing and pounding on the employee only door at the back. She stopped at the Pan Con Club member lounge, it had been turned into a makeshift infirmary.

People groaning on stretchers, a frantic EMT trying to attend to a severely bleeding patient and people sitting in a state of shock or frantically trying to call loved ones on their cell phones. The reporter had been sitting near the entrance, reading an email with great interest, holding a wet cloth to a cut on the back of his head. She rolled the cart slightly in, a few looked at her "I've brought some water and juice, if anyone needs it." The EMT tightly fastened a bandage on his patient, "Thanks, I could actually use some water to clean wounds, I'm just about out of antiseptic." She handed him several bottles.

Those that weren't still trying to reach someone, anyone on the phone had turned their attention to the wounded. A woman draped her coat around another who sat on the floor stock still and shivering, another held a man's hand as he sobbed uncontrollably. A few took bottles from the cart and walked to nearby gates handing them to rescue workers and wounded people who had the strength to take them. The reporter drummed his fingers on his laptop and murmured some notes into a personal tape recorder. A well dressed man walked up to him,

"I'm a doctor. Let me dress your wound." The reporter looked rather blank, and nervously fiddled with his press badge.

"Just let me do this pal, I'm going crazy here with nothing to do, and I have my bag."

The reporter shrugged and the doctor went to work. The EMT had caught this exchange and started incredulously at the man wondering why he hadn't volunteered before. Then Sarah noticed his arms where streaked with blood and while he chatted airily with the reporter he would grimace in pain. The doctor stepped to the side and she saw one pants leg was soaked through. A woman approached with a clipboard. By her name tag she was an administrator for one of the private charter services O'Hare offered.

"Dr. Dives?"

The Doctor looked at her curiously.

"You need to come with me sir, your wife has been airlifted to Cook Regional, we need you right away."

A kind of heart-scalding rage and grief seemed to fill the doctor's face, his efforts to mold it into a casual air made it all the more terrible

"What do you mean?, she's fine, I'm with a patient."

The reporter had fallen back into reading whatever he was with rapt attention. The EMT walked to the woman, she took him aside and told him quietly, "He was on a flight with his wife and daughter, they where clipped by another plane trying to land, the pilot somehow got it on the ground, but he didn't make it, neither did the girl, and the wife's critical. Her fingers tightened around her clipboard "The girl looked to be just about sixteen, he tried to save her."

She looked at Dives again, he allowed himself to look at her, that same drowned, desperate look of denial, she took a deep breath "Sir your wife and daughter need you." He stopped attending to the reporter he stared at her, she continued "Emily and Anna are waiting, they need you there."

Sarah felt turned to stone and she didn't try to stop the tears that were pooling on her lips as her nose began to run. The doctor picked up his bag and tried to walk after her, the EMT signaled another to help him, he put his arm around the doctor's shoulders and the doctor limped after the woman. The reporter still hadn't moved. She made it back to shop and locked herself in the tiny storeroom, crying until her throat felt like tissue paper.

She shuddered remembering that day, and watching the reporter playfully wipe a crumb off of the woman's mouth. The woman appearing to have a struggle to find that gesture charming instead of supremely off putting. She walked over with their snacks, feeling a strong urge to dump the coffee on his head.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Slacktivist's Left Behind Index

About two weeks ago I tried to open the Slacktivist's Left Behind page from home. At work I have a spiffy and fast internet connection, but I noticed that from home it seems to take a long time to load.

I've spent some time putting together an index of Fred's Left Behind criticism, including links to each post and a sentence or two about its contents. I've dated it so that it shows up as the first link in the Blog Archive under April 2007, and I'll add it under "Links" in the sidebar.

I'll continue to update the index once a month, and I'm still fiddling with some of the links. If you have any questions, comments or changes let me know and I'll fix them.

Spherical Time