24. Bonus: Volume 11 (L.B. Armageddon) spoilers

(The post formerly known as http://oldmaid.jallman.net/entry.php?id=29 )

Left Behind Volume 11 (Armageddon, c2003) spoilers

(Added April 2007)

Spoiler: Why are we covering Volume 11 (a.k.a. “Armageddon”) out of order?

Answer: Lots of characters die. Readers often skip ahead to this volume to see who lived. (Also, your host has been unusually busy of late. If we can review only one volume this spring, it might as well be one that readers particularly requested.)

Spoilers

Spoiler: As the novel opens, what are the major characters doing?

Answer: It has been a little over six years since the Tribulation began. Chang Wong is holding his position as a mole in New Babylon (pages xii-xvi). The plague of darkness blinds the unbelievers, but Chang and other believers can see in a dim sepia effect. Rayford Steele, Abdullah Smith, and Naomi Tiberias fly to New Babylon to retrieve Chang (pages 1-3, 5-10).

Naomi’s influence has grown mightily. “She had emerged as a technological prodigy … the teacher who taught teachers” (pages 2-3). Naomi will join Chang to complete a remote-control system that taps into the enemies’ electronics. They have worked together for months, but they have never met.

In New Babylon, Rayford is confronted by the shrieks and sobs of unsaved people who are helpless before the plague of pain and the plague of darkness. “The wailing pierced him, and he slowed, desperate to help. But what could he do?” (page 13). He tries to comfort a marked woman on the tarmac (pages 14-18). She asks if he is an angel. She prayed for one, she prayed to God, she prays and begs. She says she always knew “the truth” but did not accept it. She begs Rayford to feed her. She says, “I’ve been praying that God will save my soul. And when he does, I will be able to see.” Rayford has no words; he and she both just said that it is too late. Rayford looks for food, but the terminal has been looted. He cannot even bring food to comfort her.

“Rayford knew the prophecy—that people would reject God enough times that God would harden their hearts and they wouldn’t be able to choose him even if they wanted to. But knowing it didn’t mean Rayford understood it. And it certainly didn’t mean he had to like it. He couldn’t make it compute with the God he knew, the loving and merciful one who seemed to look for ways to welcome everyone into heaven, not keep them out” (pages 17-18).

Albie and Mac McCullum have been sharing a rental in a “forsaken” Middle Eastern neighborhood where the only questions asked are all pronounced, “Where’s the rent.” They usually are careful. Tonight, Albie feels he must take a risk to complete a mission.

Buck Williams, Chloe Steele Williams, and George Sebastian are hiding in their San Diego underground compound (pages 5-8, 10-12). Specifically, they live beneath an old military base (page 11). They have a vehicle bay (page 30) and a gym room with salvaged and reconditioned exercise equipment (page 42). Their refuge includes four wings of dormitories (page 30), wherein live more than two hundred people (page 26). Little Kenny Bruce Williams, almost four, sleeps in his own room, a small chamber next to the compound’s periscope. Chloe likes having the periscope in their very home. She calls it a protective instinct; Buck teases that it is a control issue (page 25).

At one o’clock A.M. Buck and George are alerted to a surface-side motion detector. Nine GC men are wandering and poking at random objects above their heads. George, an Air Force combat chopper pilot (essentially their weapons-and-tactical officer), concludes that the strangers are bored and pose no threat. Chloe is more suspicious. She protests that they are not doing enough to meet and convert unmarked people (page 11). Instead, they hide in their warren like “prairie dogs” and raise babies who hardly ever see the sun (page 12). Is there no isolated region out of the GC’s control? (Trivia alert: Zeke says there is. He lives in Avery, Wisconsin, and has never seen a GC troublemaker there [page 188].)

Chloe pushes the others to let her stand watch. Buck has stood watch for three nights, and George has been awake for some of that time. In the end Chloe prevails (pages 18-19).

Spoiler: Are there new romances in the novel?

Answer: There are two romances: between Ming Toy and Ree Woo (engaged to be married), and between Ming’s brother Chang Wong and Naomi Tiberias (just met).

Ming Toy wants Tsion Ben Judah to perform the marriage ceremony by videocam. She does not want to impose too much upon such a busy man, so she has designed a ceremony that would last just a few minutes.

Chloe is the only person who has not been trying to talk Ming and Ree out of marrying. Chloe remembers when the same people

… advised against her and Buck having a child during the Tribulation. But certain matters were private issues of the heart. Chloe couldn’t imagine not having married Buck, despite knowing how little time they had. And she couldn’t get her mind around the concept of life without their precious little one. If Ming and Ree wanted a year of marriage before the Glorious Appearing, whose business was it but theirs? It wasn’t as if they were unaware of the hardships. Starting a family at this stage was another thing, of course, but Chloe figured that was none of her business either, unless Ming asked” (pages 23-24).

Chang Wong first sees Naomi Tiberias on the New Babylon palace airport tarmac. He greets her “shyly” (page 10). Naomi perceives Chang’s emotional dilemma: as much as he loathes New Babylon, it has been his home for years (page 62). Chang is “determined not to let anyone pair him off with somebody. Especially not Naomi. She had to still be a teenager, which was all right. He was just twenty himself. And while there was no question about her intellect and technical brilliance,” she is primarily his co-worker. Yet he finds her attractive, “stunning,” in fact (pages 116-117).

Naomi, an Orthodox Jew who has accepted Christ, will not enter a man’s quarters, Chang’s quarters, because it is inappropriate in her culture (page 119). However, she lets him walk her to her quarters (page 125). She also takes him around the city unescorted (page 119), lets him drink water from her cupped hands, drinks water from his cupped hands, lets him brush his fingers through her hair (page 120), caresses his shoulder (page 121), and eats with him (page 122), all of which are more intimate acts.

When Naomi says grace over their meal of real manna, tears well up in Chang’s eyes. “Her young voice was so pure and sweet and her words so perfect” (page 121). He is fascinated by her clothes. “It was more robe than dress, like something he imagined women wearing in Bible times” (page 123). He walks home “enamored, happy, safe.” That night, all his dreams are of Naomi (page 126).

Five months later, Chang says to his girlfriend what an incredible time it is to be alive. She admits that she would rather have known Jesus earlier and gone to be with him at the rapture. Now, she thinks that

“…the greatest time to be alive will be after the Glorious Appearing. Besides getting to be with Jesus in a time of peace on earth, I’ll get to live with you for a thousand years.”

Chang was staggered by the thought. He stopped and took both her hands in his. “I wonder what I’ll look like when I’m a thousand and twenty years old,” he said.

“You’ll still be cute to me. I’ll be an old Jewish lady with lots of kids between the ages of five hundred and nine hundred-and-something years old.”

He cupped her face in the moonlight. “I am so grateful to have found you” (pages 284-5).

As it happens, Tsion and both of the young couples end up in Petra together. A few days after the situation with Chloe is resolved, Tsion personally officiates at Ming and Ree’s small wedding (offscreen). Chang and Naomi “are counseled to delay their engagement until after the Glorious Appearing” (page 267).

As the battle of Armageddon approaches, Chang feels that he is taking the easy way by staying in Petra when others—including Tsion—are going into battle. Naomi insists that he has served his time. He is needed where he is; he taught her everything she knows. “I would have been nowhere without your teaching me … Call me selfish, but I’m glad you’re not venturing out. Father loves me, but not like you do … Remember, we want to survive so that we can be together for a millennium. Let’s not risk that for the sake of your conscience” (page 321).

Spoiler: Where, when, and how do the characters get saved?

Naomi and Chang go alone to the Urn Tomb in Petra. Naomi gives her testimony on pages 159-164.

Naomi had had a happy childhood. Her father “owned several eateries in the area around Teddy Kollek Stadium.” Eleazar “provided well” and was devoutly religious. The family never missed synagogue. They knew the Scriptures. They loved God. “I believe my father was proud of that, but not in a bad way—you know what I mean?”

Naomi was eleven when her mother (name unknown) developed cancer of the [unspecified intimate body part which Naomi is too shy to name]. Eleazar had the money to hire help, but he preferred to do it himself out of loving service to his wife. Naomi was inspired by his example. “He made her happy despite her pain.”

Nevertheless, it became clear that Mrs. Tiberias was dying just after Naomi’s twelfth birthday. Her husband was forced to put her in the hospital. The doctors told him there was no hope, but he refused to accept it. He and Naomi would pray for healing, and God would grant it. They prayed, but she continued to decline.

One night Eleazar came home late, angry and (to Naomi) frightening. Was Mother worse? “No, but she might as well be,” he had said. Naomi had never heard her father have cross words with her mother. They had argued because Mrs. Tiberias said, “Jesus is Messiah.” Eleazar blamed her “heresy” on the drugs the hospital prescribed. She insisted that her belief was true and not influenced by palliative drugs. He demanded to know who had spoken to her. He told her to stop talking nonsense. If she did not stop saying such things, he would stop bringing their daughter to the hospital. (“I made her weep. The woman I love with all my soul, who is dying before my eyes, I upset her.”)

That night, with her family at her side, Mrs. Tiberias died. Her last words were, “I go to be with God. Study the prophecies. Study the prophecies.” But Eleazar “forbade” his daughter to study the Bible, let alone the prophecies.

Eleazar blamed himself. He felt that if he had not upset his wife, if he had made the correct bargain with God, his wife would have been spared. He was distraught that he had denied a deathbed request, but he also could not comply. He became depressed and buried himself in work. He stopped attending synagogue or reading Scripture. Naomi felt that she also had lost her father.

When Naomi was thirteen, people disappeared. That scared Eleazar and Naomi into attending synagogue again. Naomi began studying prophecies. She suspected her father could see what she was seeing, but he refused to admit it. He finally decided to pursue it when Tsion Ben Judah announced on television that Jesus was the Messiah. The next day Eleazar acquired a New Testament.

Eleazar and Naomi became fascinated by Saul-turned-Paul. The first verses they memorized were his words from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Eventually they “just prayed and told God we believed it and wanted to receive it. It was weeks before we read enough and knew enough to understand what we had done and what it all meant.” (That is, it really did take weeks [pages 163-64] before Eleazar opened the back cover of his New Testament to notice the “road to salvation” verses Romans 3:23 and 6:23 and related verses, that are printed in the back cover of many palm-sized New Testaments.)

Chang is deeply moved by Naomi’s testimony. Every testimony is different, yet the believers come to the same place. For some people, the impetus was the disappearances. For Naomi, it was her mother. And Naomi can hardly wait to see her again.

Spoiler: Who is Krystall? What is Rayford’s connection to her?

Answer: Krystall is Carpathia’s current secretary. Rayford slips into her office and eavesdrops on her telephone conversation with her mother (pages 34-7). Krystall bears the mark of the beast. The darkness presses upon her. She cannot see. She cannot sleep. She is thirty-six years old, but she feels like seventy-five. The plague of pain gives her no peace or relief. She compares it to the worst cramps, the worst headaches, the worst arthritis, and to carrying a great weight that slowly crushes her.

Krystall fears and hates Carpathia. He no longer informs her of his plans. He expects her to accomplish the same amount of work despite her pain, and even though she can only see when he stands next to her. (Carpathia glows in the dark, but faintly.)

Krystall moans that “He is not the man I thought he was … Mean, cruel, vicious, egotistical, selfish. I swear, I’d need a thesaurus.” Her mother must have told her to leave her job, because Krystall adds, “Where would I go? What would I do? He knows what I know, and he wouldn’t be able to let me out of his control. No, now I just have to live with it … It can’t end well. I don’t care anymore. Death will be a relief … Well, I’m sorry, but I mean it … Now don’t, Mom. I’m not planning anything rash.” Rayford “wishes he could speak soothingly to her, to say something Jesus would say. But she was beyond help now. Rayford had never felt so hog-tied.”

Krystall’s Uncle Gregory is the only member of the family who never took the mark of the beast. Krystall wonders how much longer he can survive. “Just tell him I’m proud of him and to keep it up, but be careful.”

At this point, “a big, bony man of about fifty” walks into the office. He and Rayford can see each other. They can see the seal of God on each other. Rayford gestures for the man to give him five minutes, and the man leaves.

Krystall hangs up the phone to receive her visitor. When the other man leaves, Rayford speaks (pages 37-40). Krystall jumps. She fears she has betrayed Uncle Gregory. Rayford proves that he is not GC because he can see in the supernatural darkness. Krystall holds up her hands, and Rayford repeatedly tells her how many fingers she is showing him. Defeated, she “pressed her lips together and looked as if she was about to cry.” Rayford slips around behind her to prove his point, but he just scares her again.

Rayford claims that he can help her uncle. She should pass a message to him that he should log on to Tsion Ben Judah’s website. Krystall retorts that she does not need Rayford to spell the name for her. Apparently Krystall has been surfing the net at work. Therefore, she asks Rayford a question:

“What’s the deal with it being too late for people who already took Carpathia’s mark? We don’t still have our own free will?”

Rayford felt his throat tighten. “Apparently not,” he managed. “I don’t quite understand it myself, but you have to admit, you had plenty of reasons to choose the other way.”

“So the statute of limitations ran out on me when I made the big choice.”

“Well, then for sure. Maybe even before that. Who knows the mind of God?”

“I’m starting to, sir. This hurts. It hurts worse than the pain from the darkness. Just learned it too late, I guess, that you don’t mess with God.” (page 40)

Spoiler: Who is Otto Weser? What is Rayford’s connection to him?

Answer: Otto is the man who interrupted Krystall’s phone conversation. When Rayford tiptoes out to him, Otto hugs him. Otto hugs everyone (so fiercely that he nearly lifts Chang off the floor), but not Naomi because he feels he should have her father’s permission. Naomi hugs him, adding that, “My father is not here, but if the permission is mine to give, you have it.” Otto beams, “Ah, I love the young ones who appreciate the old movies,” and embraces her (page 48).

Otto is a German timberman, Judah-ite, and head of a small band of believers hiding in New Babylon (page 48). An exuberant and restless man, Otto tends to bounce on the balls of his feet when excited (pages 44, 235). He struggles to keep silent in the bugged corridors. In the safety of Chang’s apartment, he can hardly stop talking. Along the way, Otto plays a practical joke on a blinded Babylonian by sabotaging his watch. Otto chortles, “I think that was the last time he’ll have the time right” (pages 45-6). As they pass suffering people, Rayford whispers, “This breaks my heart.” Otto replies. “Not mine. But I’m working on it” (page 47).

Earlier that day, Rayford had slipped up behind Carpathia and mocked him in assorted voices for fun (page 32). Now, Rayford again sneaks up on Carpathia and his cabinet, with Otto in tow (pages 52-57). Since Carpathia cannot see his followers, he asks for an audible roll call. Otto mouths to Rayford that he is tempted to say his own name and see what havoc that might wreak.

Otto tells his story to Rayford, Smith, Chang, and Naomi (pages 49-50). Otto became fascinated by Revelation 18. (In that chapter, God calls his people out of Babylon.) Otto believed that there cannot be any people of God in New Babylon, so he and about forty other people resolved to go there. Besides, “playing hide-and-seek with the GC in Germany was getting old.” He states plainly, “We consider ourselves fulfillment of prophecy.” Otto laments that six of his people have since died, two of which he considers his personal fault. When the plague of darkness descended, he decided to leave their hiding place and see Carpathia’s offices, like a tourist with the museum to himself. None of Otto’s friends dared to come with him. Otto is understandably overjoyed to see another believer. None of his people can get them to Petra; maybe this new friend Rayford can transport them.

“Mac still was not sure what to make of Otto Weser. He was a good man, no doubt, but he was amateur in his thinking. He may have been a successful timber businessman in Germany, but Mac would not want to have served under him in combat” (page 325).

Rayford assigns Mac to evacuate Otto’s people. Only now does Otto absently remark (page 319) that he knows of other cells of believers who need Mac’s help. Fortunately, Mac has asked Lionel Whalum for a second air vehicle, a large jet, just in case. They should be able to evacuate up to 200 people (page 339).

Spoiler: How does Chloe get captured by the Global Community?

Answer: It is just past 3 A.M. San Diego time. Through the periscope, Chloe sees a GC truck pull up, then stop. After 15 minutes, Chloe decides to slip to the bay door and take a closer look. “It wasn’t as if those in the compound expected no traffic. But there wasn’t much else in the area, nothing worth stopping for at this time of night” (page 29). She pulls a hooded black sweat suit over her pajamas, a black ski mask over her face, and hiking boots on her feet. She tells herself she will not venture outside, but she takes an Uzi just in case. The walkie-talkie she leaves behind, so that an unintended transmission will not create noise. (Later, she realizes she could have simply turned it off.)

Step by step, Chloe rationalizes that she is only going to look out the door. Then, she is only going to sneak up to the truck and look in the window. Then she is only going to sneak around the corner, then just down the street. Her conscience frets at her that she is making a serious mistake (pages 41-2, 46), but the fresh air is so intoxicating (page 43)—and she finds men with Geiger counters and metal detectors walking a search grid (page 66). Chloe acknowledges to herself that her tactics are ill-conceived, but at the same time, Buck and George were wrong about the strangers being bored.

It happens that there are at least two trucks with almost twenty troops. Chloe decides to show herself and lead the enemy on a decoy chase (pages 66-70). She leads them a few blocks away before a 200-pound soldier tackles and cuffs her. Chloe’s face is bleeding. She wonders if they cracked her rib. She goes limp to buy more time. They cuff her feet to her hands, put her on her stomach in a truck, and drive away. Buck awakens to a sudden dread, but Chloe is already gone.

Spoiler: How does the GC identify Chloe?

Answer: Chloe gives a false name of “Phoebe Evangelista” and calls her child “Phoebe Evangelista, Jr.” (pages 68, 80). Her captors take her picture, but Chloe no longer resembles her old photographs. Her captors upload her fingerprints and eye scans to their Internet database. “If you’ve ever had a driver’s license, been to college, gotten married, anything, we’ll find a match” (page 72).

At 9 A.M. her captors call Chloe by name, stating that Stanford University recorded her iris scan when she enrolled in college (page 82). (Trivia alert: In Volume 2, Chloe the Stanford student has not heard of e-mail—Buck has to explain it, demonstrate it, and set up her account—but her university is now revealed to be so technologically sophisticated that it recorded the iris scan of all students as part of standardized record-keeping.)

Spoiler: What do the villains to do try to obtain information from Chloe?

Answer: “Jock,” a relocated Aussie, discusses the fate of the Williams child over breakfast (page 76). Normally he would rather enroll the child in the Junior GC (a sort of evil Scouts organization or church club) before the child begins school. But if it is the only way to obtain Chloe’s cooperation, Jock could list the child as a nonentity until the age of twelve (page 83). Chloe’s sentence can be commuted to life in prison. Jock promises to place her in a prison that would be relatively “livable.”

“‘And who would raise him?’ Chloe said, wincing, realizing hunger was an effective tactic after all” (page 83). She last ate at seven p.m. the previous evening (page 131), but already she is becoming “light-headed” as hunger gnaws (page 85).

Jock is pleased to learn Baby Williams’ gender, at least. Doesn’t Chloe want to live, to not leave her little boy orphaned? Chloe states that she is uninterested in life in prison. She will not take the mark (page 80).

Jock alternates his “negotiations” with a more leisurely approach. It is past Chloe’s breakfast time; the mere mention makes Chloe’s mouth water (page 79). Would she tell him her secrets for “an artery-clogging special: eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, pancakes with lotsa syrup” (page 84). No? Then would she mind if he eats? “As you can understand, ma’am, we don’t feed uncooperative prisoners.” She will receive periodic morsels of “some sort of nutrition bar” designed to keep her alive until they kill her (pages 79, 89).

Jock talks a little more trash about her family, then mentions Chloe’s undercover adventure in Greece. Chloe silently wonders if there is a mole in her group (page 81).

Spoiler: How is Chang’s situation resolved?

Answer: Chang is permitted to enter Petra because he bears the seal of God on his forehead. He also bears Carpathia’s mark of the beast on his forehead. (Trivia alert: in previous volumes, the teenaged Chang accepted Christ and received the seal of God. The seal is visible only to other believers. Others decreed that he was too young to make his own decisions, so he was held down and the beast’s mark applied to his head by force.)

Chang is treated like “royalty” in Petra, but he is ashamed to be seen. He acquires a baseball cap and never removes it, despite the disapproval of his elders who expect young men to demonstrate better manners (pages 118, 133). Chang implores his handlers Miss Naomi and Mr. Smith to bring him before Tsion Ben-Judah and Chaim Rosenzweig (page 117).

Tsion and Chaim receive Chang (pages 134-140). Chang begs Tsion to do something to remove the shameful beast-mark. Tsion decides that he, Eleazar, and Chaim will lay hands upon Chang and pray. Tsion asks only that Chang will accept God’s decision, even if the answer is No. Chang agrees, then bursts into tears. Tsion prays, incorporating Ephesians 2:8-9 and other Pauline verses. Chang experiences a physical response. Sweat drenches him. His limbs feel one hundred pounds heavier each. If the men were not holding him, he would fall down. But when they finish, Chang’s forehead bears only the seal of God.

Spoiler: What does Albie do?

Answer: Albie (“Al. B”) needs help to complete a mission with three objectives (page 88). One, he wants to know where “the largest ever cache” of nukes has been stored. Two, he wants to plant transmitting devices in Carpathia’s next meeting room or hiding place. Three, he cannot complete objective Two unless he learns where to find this meeting room or hiding place. (All Albie knows is the name of the city.)

As he prepares, Albie broods on his past (pages 77-79). Of the three top black marketers in the Middle East, Albie and Mainyu Mazda (“Double-M”) were two; Mainyu murdered the third. It is said that Mainyu has a tattoo for every person he has killed. (Supposedly the one representing his wife has “a feminine flair.”) Unfortunately Mainyu is the only person who might be able to help Albie complete the mission in so short a time.

Albie pays “Sahib,” Mainyu’s lackey brother-in-law, to watch his scooter while the big boys talk (pages 90-92). Albie is nonplussed that he has to compete with a deaf-mute tattoo artist for Mainyu’s attention. Who was MM’s last victim, Albie inquires. Mainyu corrects him: who will be the victim. “Sometimes I get them in advance.”

Spoiler: How does Albie die?

Answer: Mainyu comments that it is no secret that Albie has no love for Carpathia (page 98). He offers the services of the tattoo artist to give Albie a fake mark. Albie declines. Mainyu jokes that Albie is afraid that “the evil spirits” will get him. MM fears nothing. MM has a fake mark. He adds that if his mark were real, it would be the number 1, because he “looks out for number one” (himself). He claims that the Global Community allows him to operate with impunity, because his business includes bounty hunting (page 99). He is paid twenty thousand Nicks for every unmarked individual he produces, dead or alive. “I find the dead more manageable. No escape attempts.”

Albie offers MM thirty thousand Nicks, all the money he has. Mainyu says that his services are worth fifty thousand. Albie assumes they are haggling over the price, like old times. But MM calls in his brother-in-law and asks for a gun. “My old friend and I are twenty thousand Nicks apart, and he is the solution. What is the bounty on unmarked citizens again, Sahib?” It is, of course, twenty thousand. MM adds, “And we don’t even have to do the job” (pages 100-102). He shoots Albie in the head.

Spoiler: What do the villains do next, to try to obtain information from Chloe?

Answer: It is late in the afternoon during Chloe’s first day in prison. A custodian enters the cellblock. He expresses surprise, saying that he was not told they had anyone in custody. Chloe, “dying to be charming,” jokes with him about her bad luck in wandering into a cell block, accidentally locking herself in, and coincidentally attiring herself in clothes identical to prison garb (page 103).

The custodian hesitates. Did Chloe receive her One Phone Call as per American law and custom? No, she did not. The man admits that he thinks the unmarked rebels get what they deserve, but he still thinks that an American under arrest should get one phone call. He slips Chloe his phone, poor “pretty little thing like you. What’s the harm?” (page 104).

Spoiler: Does it work?

Answer: Not really. Chloe assumes the call will be traced (page 105). She blurts out a short speech so that her father cannot interrupt her. She says she is in the San Diego GC jail. She tells her family she loves them. (She makes another tactical error by calling baby Kenny by name [pages 106, 217].) Chloe asks Rayford three times if he remembers a vacation that the Steeles took in Colorado about twenty years ago. She asks that he think of it, so that whatever happens to her, they will be thinking the same thing.

Rayford and Mac ponder Chloe’s words. Mac prods Rayford to list their entire itinerary from that old vacation. Rayford mentions a country-music concert at Red Rocks. (He remembers because he had to carry Chloe—she was only five or six years old—and it was hard to breathe at that altitude.) Mac concludes that Chloe is warning them to evacuate the San Diego survivors to the red rock city of Petra (pages 126-28). Rayford summons more of Lionel Whalum’s fleet of air vehicles (page 142).

Meanwhile, Chloe shatters the cell phone. The custodian reappears and informs her that the call was traced to a moving target, probably a plane, off the East Coast. When it is forced to land to refuel, the villains think they can catch it (pages 109-110). However, since the resistance has its own landing strips and fuel—Rayford selects Jacksonville—the truth is that Chloe’s phone call has placed her father … somewhere on Earth.

To reward her, the custodian gives Chloe advice (tell Jock what he wants to know), offers to fetch Nigel with her energy bar (she declines), and turns on the cellblock’s television (much too loud, to annoy her).

Spoiler: How do the villains describe Chloe’s capture?

Answer: Chloe is the lead story on the 5 o’clock news. In Detroit, news anchor Anika Janssen interviews GC Chief Akbar over the phone (pages 111-13). Akbar claims that Chloe was apprehended without incident in a raid that had been meticulously planned by two task forces for months.

Spoiler: How do the villains describe their prisoner? What are the (false) charges?

Answer: Akbar claims that Chloe was expelled from Stanford six years ago, after threatening the lives of the faculty.

Janssen adds that Chloe is the daughter of Rayford Steele, who was fired from his job as Carpathia’s pilot for insubordination and drunkenness on the job. The resentful Rayford joined the conspiracy to assassinate Carpathia. Chloe’s husband, Cameron Williams, was “formerly a celebrated American journalist who also worked directly for the potentate before losing his job due to differences in management style.” (The anchor adds that his current writings have few readers.)

Allegedly the trio are “wanted for more than three dozen murders around the world. Mrs. Williams herself heads a black-market operation suspected of hijacking billions of Nicks’ worth of goods around the world and selling them for obscene profits to others who cannot legally buy and sell due to their refusal to pledge loyalty to the potentate.”

Finally, the anchor claims that “The Williamses, who have amassed a fortune on the black market, have one child remaining after Mrs. Williams apparently aborted two fetuses and an older daughter died under questionable circumstances.” A surviving child, a two-year-old son, is supposedly named Jesus Savior Williams, because he supposedly is the reincarnation of Jesus and the future physical and spiritual ruler of the world. (“Chloe sat staring at a toddler, clearly not Kenny Bruce, who had a Bible in his lap and wore a tiny T-shirt that read, ‘Kill Carpathia!’”)

The network switches to a local feed with reporter Sue West, who interviews Jock, called Colonel Jonathan Ashmore (pages 113-14). Jock is ill at ease on television—his uniform “may once have fit him but now encased him like a sausage” (page 74), and his grasp of geography is equally small—but his lies are bold. He portrays Chloe as a sniveling coward who pledged her little son over to the custody of the GC Juniors to avoid a death sentence. Jock then claims that Chloe betrayed someone else (see next spoiler).

Spoiler: How do the villains describe Albie’s death?

Answer: Jock claims that Chloe betrayed Albie to bargain her way out of prison (pages 113-114). Albie purportedly shot himself to avoid being captured. The broadcast shows a photo of Albie’s body. At the sight, Chloe screams, then sobs. She repeats that it is not true, someone tell her it is not true, please tell her. Nobody comes to her.

Spoiler: How have Chloe’s friends reacted to this past day of terrible news?

Answer: Buck awakens suddenly, sensing trouble. He cannot locate Chloe. He asks Ming Toy to baby-sit Kenny Bruce. Buck immediately calls George (page 58).

Buck frets that it is “just like [Chloe] to be out without a walkie-talkie or a phone, which he attributed to strategy rather than impetuousness. He would have a hard time convincing anyone else of that, though” (page 63). Rayford also keeps his doubts to himself. “Chloe had been Daddy’s girl from day one. She loved school, was inquisitive, single-minded, stubborn. She was the last person in the family to come to Christ, and Rayford had no illusions that he was responsible for that. He had taught her to believe only in what she could see and smell and touch. Chloe always wanted to be in the middle of the action, and if someone wouldn’t put her there, she’d put herself there. He wanted to resent her for it, especially now, but he was overwhelmed with worry and fear” (page 73).

News of Albie’s death travels. Chang cannot believe that Albie is dead. The only way Smith can convince him is to state plainly that Albie’s cell phone was answered by the man who is believed to have killed him (page 131). Mac, though, believes it at once.

George yells at Buck that, “if it was my wife out there,” George would not become paralyzed with “feeling sorry for himself” (page 64). Buck yells at George that it is hypocritical for George to propose abandoning Chloe (pages 82-3). George is safe, here, now, precisely because of the “selfless, heroic efforts of the Tribulation Force, Chloe in particular” during a recent raid in Greece. George argues that the cases are not parallel. He is a strong man who is trained to kill; he could not have been rescued if he had not taken out a captor in his own right. Even though he trained Chloe, George thinks the odds are simply too bad this time.

Abdullah Smith agrees. Storming a stronghold “is not like surprising a band of amateurs in the woods, as they did in Greece” (page 129).

George does think that it works to their favor that Chloe is more valuable to her captors alive (page 108). Smith disagrees. Not only will Chloe choose not to cooperate, she will “enjoy” saying so. The fear is that “this will shorten her potential benefit to the GC and thus shorten her life” (page 129). This only makes Buck more frantic. He has to be discouraged from launching a raid alone (pages 129, 141, 154). George gives him a five-page tongue-lashing, until Buck finally produces a good idea: the enemy will swarm at the location where they originally apprehended Chloe (page 158). They might talk amongst themselves, yielding clues in their gossip.

George assigns “Razor,” another military man, to observe the enemy at said location. The news is bad: Razor thinks they moved Chloe about six hours before Razor returns to base to inform them. Buck shrieks that this was their best chance to rescue Chloe, and Razor let them sleep through it (pages 178-9). No, in Razor’s opinion, the stronghold was too heavily fortified. Buck takes out his anger on the furniture. George and Rayford respond that Razor probably made the correct decision (page 180).

At Petra, the believers compose a written statement. They state that Chloe dropped out of Stanford after the rapture. When she was enrolled, she held a 3.4 GPA (out of a 4.0) and was active in student affairs. Her father and husband were not fired. They quit. Buck’s cyber-magazine is exceedingly popular, circulating to “the same audience that is ministered to daily by Dr. Tsion Ben-Judah, at last count still more than a billion.” The Steele-Williamses never murdered three dozen people. They admit to “one kill for Cameron Williams and two for Rayford Steele, both in self-defense.” Chloe has no fortune. She barters. She never had an abortion or lost a child, and has had but one pregnancy, resulting in her son, who is much older than the notorious televised toddler. Chloe’s child is not Jesus and no one they know ever said it or thought it. By the way, Nicolae Carpathia is the Antichrist, they add. Chloe is not bargaining with the GC. She is willing to die for Christ. She did not sell out Albie, and no evidence supports the GC’s claim that he did it to himself (pages 147-9).

Buck caroms around the compound, admitting that he is making a nuisance of himself (pages 183-5). He does not even help write the Internet statement. When he fails to produce a rescue plan either, he apologizes to Razor and asks how he got his name. The sheepish Razor mentions a collision involving a rookie snowmobiler, his head, and a “razor” (barbed wire) fence. (Now Buck cannot stop thinking about Chloe’s probable death by decapitation.)

“Rayford had only an inkling of what Buck must be going through. It had to be different for a husband than for a father. But he couldn’t put his finger on it” (page 211). Rayford’s private rescue plans are equally desperate and unworkable. When he suggests they wander the Midwest in a two-seater, Buck reminds him that even if they find Chloe, where on the plane would she sit (pages 211-12).

“Buck told Rayford of his tormenting daydreams. To his surprise, Rayford’s lip began to quiver.” Rayford also grieves. “A father has a different take, you know. Imagine how you feel about Kenny. I was there when Chloe was born. Seems like yesterday she was a little red ball of squealing girl who could be comforted only by being tightly wrapped in a blanket and put on her mother’s chest. Then, to us, she was the most beautiful creature we had ever seen. We would have done anything for her, anything to protect her. That’s never changed. She’s grown up to be a beautiful woman, and somehow, even with all her injuries and disfigurements, I still see her that way” (page 186).

Spoiler: What do the believers do to try to rescue Chloe, that has the best chance of working?

Answer: Rayford calls Krystall at her home late at night (pages 93-95). The operator refuses to transfer the call unless the caller identifies himself. Rayford identifies himself as Uncle Gregory. Rayford asks if Krystall has heard any gossip about “an important arrest” that could be Chloe. Yes, says Krystall. She has not heard anything privately that differs from what they all see on the news.

Rayford asks if there is anything he can do for Krystall. She says that she needs her eyes. Rayford sends Otto to be her eyes (pages 105-6). Krystall asks, what is in it for Rayford? Rayford asks Krystall to give Otto access to her communications, equipment, and files.

Zeke distrusts Krystall. She could have second thoughts and set an ambush for Otto and Mac. Mac replies that they do not know another way to learn the information she can provide (page 194). Zeke concedes that “we’re not going to try to stop prophesied events, but it’ll be good to know exactly what’s happening” (page 203).

Mac proposes Krystall could be included in the evacuation of New Babylon. (Rayford gives consent; page 226). Mac refuses to admit Krystall to Petra, though; it is for believers only. “Sad as it is, she made her decision, took her stand, and accepted the mark. Getting her out of New Babylon just keeps her from dying in that mess … She’s going to die anyway, sometime between then and the Glorious Appearing, and when she does, she’s not going to like what eternal life looks like. That doesn’t mean we can’t befriend her and be grateful for her help” (pages 203-4).

Otto gushes, “Miss Krystall has been a gem. I wish she was on our side.” Krystall let him listen in on a phone conversation involving Akbar. The believers now have the information for which Albie died: the exact date, place, and time of Carpathia’s meeting with his ten kings (pages 222-23).

The believers bid for and win a contract to wire Carpathia’s conference hall for sound (pages 268-70). They are checked for card-carrying ID but not the mark. (They wear gloves and hats.) The firm “Woo & Associates” finishes the (double) job ahead of schedule, “and to their credit, the GC electronically deposited full payment via the Internet. ‘We are now on Carpathia’s payroll,’ Chang told Rayford.”

Unfortunately, they still cannot locate Chloe. Buck suddenly wonders if the GC is feeding Krystall false information to test her loyalty (page 224). Rayford asks her to take the initiative: to phone someone who really would know, even though she lacks clearance to ask. She agrees, then … silence. Rayford and Buck wonder why she has not called them (pages 229-30). Buck implies that Krystall is needlessly tardy. (“You should have given her some kind of a time frame. Doesn’t she assume we’d like to know before the execution?”) Rayford replies that she has been a “godsend.” Buck snorts that this is an “interesting thing to say about someone bearing the mark of the beast.”

When Krystall’s efforts fail, Rayford rules that they will make no further attempts to save Chloe. “She’s in God’s hands now. If he chooses to spare her somehow, he’s apparently decided to do it without our help” (page 237).

Spoiler: How does Chloe get from San Diego to Joliet?

Answer: Chloe gets sedated. The night matron, a black woman named Florence (page 143), explains to Chloe what words like jail and prison mean. Shower once a week (if Chloe lives that long); one energy bar daily (250 calories) if Chloe asks nicely; maybe male guards who “want a date.” Chloe responds that if anyone enters her cell, “one of us wouldn’t come out of here alive” (page 144). After Chloe threatens four times to kill any captor (including Florence) or die trying, Florence groans why Chloe “can’t just give a little, girl?” If Chloe stops with “the sassing,” Florence will bring her the daily energy bar around midnight (page 145).

Florence turns off the obnoxious television … and turns on the lights and the obnoxious radio, tuned to a loop of “Hail Carpathia!” all night (page 146). Nevertheless, she brings the “tasteless” energy bar at midnight as promised (pages 164-65). It has been about 29 hours since Chloe last ate, at home. Chloe tries to save half of the snack for breakfast. What else does she have to look forward to? (“Maybe Jock would show up and eat his breakfast in front of her again” [page 172].) But Chloe eats the rest after another half hour. She slips into bad dreams about being headless and her family rejecting her.

Florence returns at about 4 a.m. to consume a hamburger and a soft drink in front of Chloe (pages 169-73). Florence tells Chloe she is a mother too, to three-year-old Brewster. Chloe wonders if she can reason with Florence, mother to mother. After some bickering, Florence sneaks Chloe a chocolate shake: “cold, thick, rich, and—if anything—too chocolaty.” (It has been 4 hours since Chloe ate the energy bar, and 33 hours since Chloe ate supper at home.) Chloe trusts Florence because the food has no terms or conditions and it was fine last time. Of course, the strong flavor covers the taste of the sedative. Chloe giggles, sobs, and says nonsense words. She drops the milkshake, then slides off her seat and plops into the spill on the floor. “Loved the bit about you having a kid,” says Jock. Florence replies dismissively, “Oh, honey, they easy when they hungry.”

As for transportation, Jock drives them to the airport in a hearse (page 181).

Spoiler: What happens to Chloe in Joliet?

Answer: The plane lands at about noon (page 189). Jock decides to “finally” feed the prisoner and “play good cop.” He claims that if Chloe has not been broken by now, she never will be … not without truth serum, anyway (page 190). Jock and Jess call her “a tough bird … I’d have been doing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ solo by now.” Jock brings “food,” the same full meal, whatever it is, that the rest of them are eating for lunch. Chloe prays that the food will not make her sick, for discipline to eat slowly, and that God will “override any poisons Jock might have put into it” (page 192). It has been 8 hours since Chloe drank half the chocolate milkshake; 12 hours since Chloe ate the energy bar; and 41 hours since Chloe ate supper at seven P.M. at home.

They enter Joliet’s Stateville prison. A reporter, seeing the brown stain on Chloe’s clothes, asks if she “soiled herself” (page 202). Chloe hollers “chocolate, chocolate” at them, until Jock knocks the wind out of her and tapes her mouth shut (page 201). (He is getting a promotion out of her capture, and if she corrects his facts, he will lose it.)

Jock tells the reporters that Chloe tried to trade “physical favors” for leniency, but they have standards to uphold (page 201). Jock shows her the seven guillotines, caked with dried blood. The blades are sharpened, but the machines are no longer cleaned. Sometimes sticky things stick in mid-action. Heads go in a Dumpster. The stench makes Chloe want to retch. Chloe is scheduled for the guillotine in the center, tomorrow, at ten A.M. If Chloe prefers other arrangements, it is time to tell Jock everything (page 197-200). She is imprisoned in darkness in solitary confinement.

Reporters, guards, and Krystall insist that Chloe is in Angola, Louisiana (page 204). Jock moved her so that she would never be rescued.

Spoiler: How does Krystall die?

Answer: Otto tells Mac that he went to Krystall’s office and found her dead on the floor with the phone buzzing (page 235-6). He checked her pulse. Otto adds that the air smelled bad. He thinks that someone suspected her of treachery. Even in the darkness, they found her. “Maybe they had someone who knew the palace come back and feel his way up there, make sure she was there by talking to her, and then toss poison gas or something in there.” Mac challenges that Rayford has been waiting for Krystall to call him. Otto apologizes. “I didn’t know what to do. I was so upset.”

Spoiler: What does Chloe sing in prison?

Answer: In San Diego (her first full night of captivity), she sings the warped anthem “Fail, Carpathia!” (lyrics on page 146) to drown out the noise of “Hail, Carpathia!” (lyrics on page 21). Her husband wrote the parody. (Aside: lyrics for both here).

In Joliet (her second full night of captivity) she sings “Trust and Obey” by Sammis and Towner, and “Standing on the Promises” by R. Kelso Carter (pages 208-9). At this point an unseen angel (called Caleb on page 238) manifests in the cell to strengthen her.

Later that night (page 212), Chloe is injected with truth serum. She sings “[There Shall Be] Showers of Blessings” by Whittle and McGranahan, and “Amazing Grace” by John Newton (pages 215, 219). Later still that night, when Chloe returns to solitary, Chloe “sang and prayed and quoted Scripture” but the specifics are not recorded (page 228).

(On a music-related note, Jock is puzzled that Chloe really believes all this “pie in the sky by-and-by” with harps and white robes stuff. Chloe replies, “I hope you’re right about the pie but not the harps” [page 220].)

Spoiler: Why does the “truth serum” fail to work?

Answer: Reader interpretations vary. It is true that Chloe prays for strength to resist questioning (pages 192, 201). Then she prays, “I need you to override the truth serum,” (pages 206-7). When Chloe is restrained and injected with truth serum, she sees Caleb seated in Jock’s chair (page 214). Chloe feels the chemically induced euphoria, yet she somehow “knows better” than to tell Jock any secrets. (Alternately, it has been suggested that Caleb makes Jock ask only questions to which Jock already knows the answer. A third possibility is that Caleb has diluted the drug, either by altering its formula or potency, or by causing Jock to misread the dosage.) Whatever the reason, Jock abandons the attempt after three pages. He says he has never seen anything like it (page 219).

Spoiler: How does Chloe Steele Williams die or escape?

Answer: In solitary, Chloe feels the presence of God (page 231). Hunger continues but troubles her less than before. She cannot get comfortable, and her muscles ache. When she finally drifts off to sleep, she is awakened by the sound of several helicopters. She wonders if her family has launched a raid in force (page 237). It would take a “miracle” to rescue her, but Chloe has seen miracles before.

The helicopters are merely carrying news crews. The GC assigns Chloe a cosmetics artist. It is important to the “pageantry” to prove that Chloe has been well treated. Chloe retorts, “Snatched from my family, starved, drugged, flown halfway across the country, injected with truth serum, and held in solitary confinement overnight is your idea of fair treatment?” The woman shrugs. “Hey, I’m just the makeup artist” (page 239). Over Chloe’s protests, the woman tidies Chloe’s hair and washes her face. Chloe submits to rouge but refuses the mascara and lipstick. She finds it absurd that the TV people go to such effort to ensure that she has the best-looking head in the Dumpster (pages 240-41).

“Early on in her spiritual walk, Chloe had entertained a smugness, particularly when people berated or derided her for her beliefs. She was too polite to gloat, but she couldn’t deny some private satisfaction in knowing that one day she would be proved right. But that attitude too had mercifully been taken from her. The more she learned and the more she knew and the more she saw examples of other believers with true compassion for the predicament of lost people, the more Chloe matured in her faith. That was manifest in a sorrow over people’s souls, a desperation that they see the truth and turn to Christ before it was too late” (pages 231-32).

This thought makes Chloe wonder if she still has a charge to keep. Could there be in prison any individuals who bear neither the seal of God nor the mark? There are. Jock points to ten unmarked persons on death row; Chloe would be the eleventh (page 244).

Chloe notices that many of the thirty-six prisoners are Jews, “identified with stenciled Stars of David or wearing self-made yarmulkes, some made of scraps of cloth, some of cardboard. The people were wasted, scarred, having been starved, beaten, sunburned … Carpathia wanted these to be tortured to within an inch of their lives but not allowed to die before their public beheadings” (page 243).

As the spectacle begins, a frightened unmarked prisoner asks if she is “Williams.” Chloe replies that, “If you know who I am, you know what I stand for.” Chloe tells the woman to put faith in Christ, admit that she is a sinner separated from God who cannot save herself. She should ask God to save her by the sinless blood of Christ, who died on the cross for her sins. “You will die, but you will be with God.” When the prisoner falls on her knees to pray, a guard charges her to tackle her. Chloe breaks line and tackles him first, knocking out some of his teeth. He slinks away. The woman is now saved. She has the seal of God on her forehead and sees the seal on Chloe’s face (pages 245-6).

(Unbeknownst to Chloe, Chang has tapped into the GC’s television feed, all the way from Petra. He stands ready to pull the plug, to take the channel off the air so that no one will see Chloe die. However, he does not want to interrupt the broadcast prematurely, because it could deny Chloe a chance to witness to the television audience [page 249].)

Jock executes a marked prisoner. (The machine sticks.) Jock summons an unmarked prisoner. Caleb manifests in the prison yard. He appears to be 15 to 16 feet tall. His raiment is so dazzling that it hurts the spectators’ eyes to look upon him (pages 247). For three pages he quotes Scripture at the assembly and television audience. Jock mocks Caleb for interrupting a TV show and “[making] it better! Is this great theater or what?”

Caleb’s appearance creates a delay for the ten unmarked prisoners to pray. Chloe rejoices to see that six receive the seal of the saved. “The other three looked miserable, and Chloe assumed they were among the hard-hearted who may have been desperate to change their minds but had waited too long” (page 253). They take the mark on the next page.

Jock, out of intimidation or desire to adhere to the TV schedule, starts executing prisoners by sevens, to fill all machines. Caleb glows brighter still, so their tormentors cannot see the believers actually die. But, when the believers are dead, Caleb vanishes. The lighting returns to normal, the executions continue on schedule. “Chloe had stood in the hot sun for more than an hour … weak from hunger, parched with thirst, and dizzy from standing, she fought to maintain her emotions.” (If it is now 11 A.M., it has been 23 hours since she ate lunch with Jock, 31 hours since the chocolate milkshake, 35 hours since the energy bar, and 64 hours since Chloe was eating supper at home with her family around her.) With Caleb invisible again, she has to stand on faith (page 255).

Jock, full of himself again, turns Chloe “gently” and puts an arm around her. She wants to spit on him, but this is her last chance to make a positive impression upon potential converts in the television audience. Jock repeats the lies about her, then tells Chloe she can say a few last words if she takes the mark. Chloe pulls the microphone from his grasp and still refuses the mark. Jock tries to take back the microphone. Caleb manifests again. Jock instantly becomes rigid, then falls like a tree. In spite of themselves, the audience laughs (pages 256-58).

Chloe quotes Paul and Jesus and paraphrases Nathan Hale. She gives “eternal thanks to my father, who led me to Christ.” She tells her husband and son that she loves them. In the resurrection, she will be waiting for them just inside the Eastern Gate. Then she walks unescorted to the guillotine (pages 258-60). “As she knelt and laid her head under the blade, Caleb’s glow blinded the eyes of the world. Chloe heard only the pull of the cord and the drop of the sharpened edge of death that led to life eternal.”

Spoiler: What is Carpathia doing in this volume?

Answer: Besides putting a bounty on unmarked people and sending Jews to concentration camps (pages 24-25), Carpathia gradually abandons his darkened capitol of New Babylon … and the doomed people in it.

Carpathia continues to pollute the airways with his obscene pronouncements and activities. Chang and Tsion create a television commercial that states, “Proclamations from your potentate are allowed only by the goodwill of Tsion Ben-Judah and your friends at Petra” (pages 286-7). The next time Carpathia belittles Chang’s electronic supremacy—it is Chang who can take him off the air at any time, not the other way around—the exasperated Chang says he is so going to air that commercial.

Carpathia gives a long-winded (pages 294-301) speech about himself. He calls himself eternal, everlasting through everlasting, a product of evolution just like his evolved rival and the rival’s favorite evolved being, who call each other “father” and “son” (pages 293-4). (Trivia alert: there is no mention of the Holy Spirit.)

Carpathia takes credit for misleading “the woman,” who “really wanted” to do what she did. The “first siblings” were “easy,” because one wanted what Carpathia wanted. “These creatures are not really products of the older angel’s creativity. Within a few generations, I have them so confused, so selfish, so full of themselves that the old man no longer wants to claim they were made in his image” (page 296).

Carpathia snorts that his rivals are weak because they favor the Jews. “My forces and I almost had them [i.e. the Jews] eradicated not so many generations ago, but father and son intervened, gave them back their own land, and foiled us again” (page 297). This time, Carpathia “will prevail.” Why? He claims he has two advantages. One, he says he knows the truth of his rivals’ origin. Two, his rivals put their intentions into writing. (Carpathia says, “I can read.”) Carpathia plans to attack Jerusalem. This will force his rival, the son, to come back and defend it. Carpathia will ambush and eliminate him. Then Carpathia can prepare for the next task, namely, eliminating the father. Carpathia insists that he will win through sheer numbers (pages 298-99).

Carpathia acquires three new associates. They lurk in the background, resembling “triple manikins” in black. Tsion questions whether they are cardboard cut-outs. Do they even blink (pages 291-92). They live, says Chang, who recorded their entrance. In Carpathia’s private meeting with the ten kings, Carpathia refers to the three bodies as “shells” (page 301). Carpathia and Leon Fortunato then calmly vomit forth three slimy froglike creatures (two from Carpathia and one from Fortunato). “The three now bore a striking resemblance to Carpathia. They sat back casually, smiling, nodding to the potentates all around. The leaders looked stunned and frightened at first, but soon warmed to the personable strangers” (page 302).

Carpathia asks his human associates to formally lay hands upon the creatures. Carpathia commissions them to go forth and gather all enemies of God, and to perform signs and wonders to recruit said enemies (pages 302-3). “Ashtaroth, Baal, and Cankerworm” then disappear in a huge bolt of lightning (Carpathia’s lightning, that is). Buck and Chaim call this incident the fulfillment of Rev. 16:13-14.

Spoiler: How is New Babylon destroyed?

Answer: Otto’s unnamed friend breathlessly reports that an angel manifested before them and quoted the Bible verses that told them it was time to flee (page 338). Mac lands at a palace landing strip, where 150 believers await them.

From page 340, in its entirety: “Mac and Lionel had their planes loaded and turned around and headed down the runways when two invading armies attacked. Before Mac was even out of New Babylon airspace, black smoke billowed into the heavens. He circled the area for an hour, and Lionel followed, as their charges watched the utter destruction of the once great city. Within sixty minutes every building was leveled, and Mac knew that every resident was slaughtered. When the mysterious armies who had invaded from the north and northwest pulled out, they left the entire metropolis aflame. By the time Mac turned toward Petra, the only thing left of New Babylon was ash and smoke.”

Spoiler: How does Tsion Ben Judah die?

Answer: Tsion preaches that after Babylon falls, Jerusalem will fall (pages 310-311). The Euphrates will dry up and enemies will cross on dry land. Even Carpathia believes this prophecy. He has placed measuring instruments in the water (page 316). One day the 1500+ mile river dries up “instantaneously” (page 323). The people who depended upon the river for their employment, water, electricity, and defense are left with nothing, but their reaction is offscreen.

Tsion states that Zechariah 13 proves that one-third of the Jews still alive will convert (page 309). But how can they convert if they get killed? Tsion decides to learn the art of war. “I want to be taught to fight, to use a weapon, to defend myself, to keep my comrades and my fellow Jews alive” (page 306). He would rather “die with my boots on” in battle, than watch that battle on television. He adds that if the Lord allows it, no man can stop it. Tsion has informed the elders. “Were they happy? No. Will they pray about it? Yes. Do I care what they come back with? Only if it is a yes” (page 307).

Mac McCullum “got a kick out of the whole thing. He was all for Tsion learning to be a soldier and coming with them to Jerusalem” (page 308). Tsion studies under Razor and George Sebastian. Tsion likes the machine gun best (page 314). How can anyone miss, he asks. He can spray it back and forth like a garden hose.

Rayford flies Tsion and Buck to Jerusalem (page 322) and drops them off at the Western Wall (still called the Wailing Wall in the novel). Orthodox Jews have come out of hiding to pray and slip papers into the cracks in the Wall (pages 326-7). Tsion and Buck stand before the “expectant” crowd and preach (pages 327-37). “Hundreds and soon thousands wept aloud and fell to their knees, repenting before God, acknowledging Jesus Christ as Messiah, pledging themselves to the King of kings” (page 336). Having witnessed to the point of exhaustion, Tsion and Buck spend the night with the Shivte family (pages 347-9).

In the morning, the battle begins. Tsion loses his escort Buck (page 359), whom Rayford assigned to protect him. To Buck’s horror, a zealous crowd carries Tsion on their shoulders … in the air … where the bullets are. Fortunately for Tsion, Buck drags him down in time. As they run toward the healing pool of Bethesda, Tsion jokes, “I was not hit, Cameron! No need for healing!” (page 365).

They experience a lull in the attack, which Tsion attributes to Zechariah 12:4. He preaches. Carpathia interrupts them with a loudspeaker. If the crowd will be silent for 15 seconds, Carpathia will take this gesture as a truce and enter their city in peace and forgiveness. Instantly, “thousands of weapons fired into the air, including Tsion’s and Buck’s” (page 372).

Carpathia’s battering rams compromise the walls of the Old City. Weapons fire follows. Tsion, shot, crumples to his knees, then to the ground. Buck drags him about an eighth of a mile, back toward the Bethesda pool and a small chamber where they shelter. Tsion is bleeding to death. He quotes 2 Timothy 4:6-7 because he is too is “being poured out as a drink offering” (pages 374-8). Tsion dies, with Buck at his side (page 378). Tsion missed Christ’s return by days, maybe a day, maybe hours.

Spoiler: (How) Does Cameron “Buck” Williams die? (How) Does Rayford Steele die?

Answer: Buck is nicked in the carotid artery by falling debris, after the enemy bombs Jerusalem’s Rockefeller Museum (page 391). He tries to stand up on his crumbling perch—keeping a hand tightly pressed on his neck—but the perch falls away too. His foot is hooked in the rubble. He finds himself hanging upside down, with blood pouring from his hip and neck.

Simultaneously, Rayford in Petra has wandered outside the perimeter of the divine forcefield or shield. (Alternately, it may be coming down as part of the divine timetable.) An enemy shell explodes directly in front of him (page 388). His all-terrain vehicle becomes airborne, rolls over him, then throws him clear as it disintegrates in its descent down the hillside. His phone plummets down the same path. Another shell falls, knocking Rayford’s head into a sharp rock. Blood spurts a good six feet from his temple (page 389). Both his knees are injured; one of his legs is down to bone where flesh-and-bone should be; he may have broken an ankle on one leg and a shinbone on the other. He hops, then crawls, all while trying to keep his hand pressed to his head wound. He is a mile from the nearest help. No one knows where he is (page 392).

In the last four paragraphs of the book, the text uses only terms like “he,” “him,” and “his.” One character asks himself what is the use of trying so hard to stay alive. “Come, Lord Jesus, he says. The other character has lost too much blood. He can see nothing though his eyes are open. He whispers, “Lord, please,” falls limp, and dies (pages 392-3).

(Bonus) Spoiler: Which man died, Rayford or Buck? Did the other man die, or did he live?

Answer: That is the cliff-hanger ending. The authors want the readers to be curious about the answer, that they might obtain and read Volume 12.

(If the Gentle Browser insists, Buck died. Rayford lived. Baby Kenny has lost both his parents, but his grandfather will live.)

Discussion topics will appear in a separate post.

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Author: The_Old_Maid_of_Potluck

Author of Potluck2point0: The resource formerly known as http://oldmaid.jallman.net (a.k.a. My humongous [technical term] study of "What's behind 'Left Behind'").