Edge of Apocalypse: pages 15-19 (Chapter Three)
I left you all at the end of the “physical description” phase of this chapter. Immediately afterwards, we start moving to the “something’s not right here” part of the chapter:
“The two of them crossed Broadway, underneath the brazen illumination of the giant three-hundred-foot-high LED screens, neon signs, and flashing JumboTrons of Times Square. Abigail and Deborah were almost to the island in the middle of the street that housed the large glass-encased TKTS discount tickets booth. They would have to get off of Broadway to find a cab. For many years traffic had been banned from Times Square, so Abigail and Deborah were about to head to a side street to hail a taxi.
But just then they heard the awful sound. A sickening metallic crash.
Abigail and Deborah quickly whipped their heads around. A cab had just smashed into a vendor’s hot dog cart.
Abigail was stunned. What’s a cab doing in Times Square?”
We see other car crashes, other strange events. And in the midst of this chapter – the phone porn.
As readers of Fred Clark’s Left Behind blog will know, a great deal is made out of how LaHaye and Jenkins describe in exquisite detail every aspect of telephone usage, even down to needing two phone lines in a 1990s-era book when you had to have one dedicated line for the fax machine and your computer’s modem.
While at the time it was attributed to Jenkins rather than LaHaye this tendency to beat people over the head with telephone gadgetry, I am starting to suspect either Jenkins’s style rubbed off on LaHaye, or LaHaye has his own telephone obsession.
“Suddenly cell phones started to ring all around her. For a moment it was as if the world encompassed in that twenty blocks of Times Square had stopped to answer the same communal phone call. Abigail had her cell with her, but it was turned off on purpose. She cherished her alone-time with Deborah. [...]
Abigail grabbed for her Allfone, the new generation multifunctional cell phone, to turn it on. Every person around her with a cell phone, as if on cue, was moving now–some running, others crying, some screaming wildly. Everyone else simply stood there with bewildered faces.
Abigail punched the speed dial for her husband. By then Joshua would be up in the chopper high over Manhattan, heading to his office.”
See? Can’t have a LaHaye book without telecommunications gadgetry.
The chaos continues, as we see here:
“Abigail could not imagine what chaos had just been loosed. Cars and buses were colliding, creating bottlenecks, forcing more people to spill onto the streets on foot. Subway entrances were jammed with people trying to escape the mayhem above ground. People pushed and shoved, knocking others to the pavement in a mad exodus to nowhere. The plate-glass window at the empty Nike store was shattered by looters who had already grabbed overpriced shoes, jerseys, and anything else they could get their hands on.”
We then get the first inkling of what this is all about from some rather nice foreboding foreshadowing:
“Deborah was circling around helplessly, watching, and shaking her head. ‘We’ve got to do something…’
But Abigail’s mind was whirling. She shouted back. ‘Have to figure out where it’s safe. Where the danger is…’
Just then she noticed people looking up at the sky, mesmerized, as if waiting for something beyond their control, something catastrophic to fall on them.”
And sure enough, the awful truth dawns on us:
“Then Abigail saw it. She pointed down the street to a giant ribbon of digital text wrapping around a building. The breaking news headline scrolling high above Times Square was too outrageous to make sense of. Then it sank in. The digital words were announcing a headline that was too horrible to comprehend:
TWO NUCLEAR WARHEADS HAVE BEEN LAUNCHED FROM A N. KOREAN SHIP OFF THE COAST OF GREENLAND…TARGET: MANHATTAN“
But maybe, just maybe there’s hope! We learn Abigail is privy to something on which the book will end up pivoting on, if the blurb on the back cover is any indication.
“Deborah shouted, ‘Got to find a bomb shelter…’
Abigail grabbed her hand. ‘Stay with me. Let’s run to the Crowne Plaza. Maybe they’ve got a basement level…’
The two women began to sprint together across Broadway toward the hotel. A human flood of screaming pedestrians were scattering in all directions.
Deborah yelled as they ran, ‘The sign said nukes. Nukes, Mom! A basement won’t save us. We’re ground zero!’
‘Maybe they’re wrong. Maybe they’re not nukes.’
‘But what if they are?’
They were at a full sprint now, blowing through the chaotic crowds. But Abigail knew something that even Deborah didn’t know. A few details about her husband’s top-secret project. Joshua ought to be very close to his office by now. His R&D team was supposed to be waiting for him. Maybe. Just maybe…
Abigail yelled over to her daughter as they were locked into matching strides, ‘If they’re nukes, we have to pray that Dad can stop them…’
Without breaking her stride, Abigail started to pray. Tears were starting to come. But it didn’t stop her voice as she shouted out a prayer.
‘Heavenly Father, oh, please, God, please save us…and help Josh…help him, Lord!’”
And on that cliffhanger, we end.
I have to say, inasmuch as we already know the target of the nukes, it’s still a very good action-y sequence here. The only complaint I have, mechanically, is that there are too few exclamation marks used in a situation that should be a lot louder and crazier than the dialog mechanics would suggest – since the characters shout, but tend to trail off rather than sharply exclaim.
Also, we get some call-outs to the religious audience of this book; Abigail lets loose the obligatory prayer of watchfulness even as she scrambles to find a shelter, somewhere.
So that was a quick overview of the impending disaster. Next installment, we meet… Joshua Jordan. And yes, the Allfone makes another appearance in even more intimate form than we get in this chapter.