Edge of Apocalypse: pages 232-233 (Chapter Forty)
This’ll be s quick write-up, but it allows us to drop in on Atta Zimler, “sub”-contract killer, very messy kinda guy when it comes to this kind of stuff and not at all the kind of loose cannon Caesar Demas wants working for him long-term. His go-between, Feditzch, isn’t comfortable dealing with the guy, having had to deal with loose cannons before.
I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll confine myself to broad speculation and discussion. Time for some lit-crit, so pull up a mouse and follow along. 😀
Parshall has introduced this man as a way to eventually create a conflict with Joshua Jordan – the typical Good Person vs Evil Person that’s a staple of many a spy novel. Think of Robert Ludlum’s books, for example – The Janson Directive, The Ambler Warning. They involve characters who have to find out who the shadowy Bad Guy (or occasionally Bad Girl) is and defeat them. The tension is enhanced by the use of a limited first-person perspective, so we only ever see the main character’s thoughts and emotions. This allows for the big reveal at the end of it all, and is a rather satisfying way to end the story and resolve the tension.
However, in Edge of Apocalypse, Parshall’s approach is more in line with Jerry Jenkins. But unlike Jenkins, who uses people like Rayford Steele and Buck Williams almost exclusively as ways to relay to us, the audience, what’s going on in the world of Left Behind, Parshall actually has his characters doing and saying things which are of their own volition, and whose ultimate objective may not immediately be obvious. This avoids some rather tortuous plot points that strain the suspension of disbelief one necessarily carries into a fictional series about a world based on religious doctrine one may or may not believe in. For example, it is necessary, as Fred Clark points out, for Buck Wiliams – of all people! – to be entrusted with the US President’s last-ditch attempt to beat back the Antichrist.
Buck Williams is thus perforce obligated by the plot to do and say nothing about the President’s intention to start a nuclear war he cannot win, except to go with Chloe and buy a fully-loaded
747 Range Rover in the most transparently traceable way possible. As I noted in my “Christ Clone vs Left Behind” post, this kind of childish chortling he does completely slides past the fact that in law, such a thing is called “unlawful conversion”, or in common talk, “theft”. What more stupid way to raise red flags all over the place than driving off with a vehicle that isn’t yours to keep, and has a traceable car phone?
Thankfully, this sort of self-indulgent behavior isn’t quite as evident in Edge of Apocalypse, but we have other egregious examples of misbehavior being excused on the basis that the character committing such acts is a RTC or an incipient RTC: Abigail Jordan bullying her son into compliance by the use of love-bombing stands out the most. Probably second-most is Josh disobeying the lawful orders of the government which has granted his company quite a bit of money to invent fanciful defensive and offensive weapons technologies.
To wrap this up before I quickly zip through the chapter, I note that the Good vs Evil conflict in this book is set up in a way that taps into existing prejudices about Middle Eastern peoples: Atta Zimler’s name was clearly chosen for the stock “Arab terrorist” trope, while Josh Jordan is set up as the “all-American patriot”, and secondarily, John Gallagher as the ne’er-do-wrong loner. As such, it is virtually ordained that the Good shall win; it’s just a question of how soon or late the Bad gets defeated. So, vicariously, the audience gets to defeat the shadowy terrorist threat without having to put themselves in danger to do so.
With that, let’s follow Zimler as he pit stops in West Virginia to buy some stuff.
“Which mining operation did you say you are working at?”
“Wyler Coal,” Atta Zimler said, concocting the name instantly and doing a good imitation of a slow drawl. “It’s a small mine. It’s family owned. Just opened up.”
“Okay,” the hardware man said. “So anyway, these are the solid-pack Bridgewater-type blasting caps. They detonate from an electric spark…”
Standard stuff. Won’t blow up from cell phone signals or static electricity; needs the blasting caps and a signal down a wire.
Zimler grinned. He had no intention of telling him the truth. His primary was military grade plastic explosives he had already obtained on the black market for a pretty penny at a drop spot outside of Pittsburgh. All he needed now was a detonator. Blasting caps set off by an electric charge would be perfect. He had already purchased the remote switches from an electronics shop. Rigging those up with cell phones to send the charge would be child’s play for him.
Zimler pays cash, but is momentarily flummoxed when told he has to sign for the blasting caps. I don’t know what the regulations are about sales of explosives, but it seems reasonable to me for the government to require keeping track of who buys what.
Before the store owner handed over the box of blasting caps, however, he grabbed a clipboard and slapped it on the counter. “We’re supposed to get this from everyone who wants explosives. Got to put your John Hancock right here…”
Zimler smiled and acted like he understood the phrase. But he hesitated for just an instant.
He looked at the clipboard and noticed the signatures on it.
“You want me to sign here?”
“That’s the general idea.”
Zimler signed a fake name. The shop owner handed over the box.
And that’s that. Zimler drives off to do whatever it is he’s gonna do. The chapter links up with John Gallagher’s own travels, and I’ll tackle that in a write-up later today or tomorrow.