Second of all, honesty compells me to admit that I don't much care for Judd Thompkins, the protagonist of this chapter. It's not that he's a kinky self-involved control freak ala Rayford Steele or a self-deluded coward ala Buck Williams, it's that he's just very bland. Plus the porn style name makes me picture Jerry Jenkins sitting around going, "Judd Thompkins...He's the name, the name you'd love to touch..." I also picture him doing this with Buck's name and I picture LaHaye doing it with Rayford's.
Anyway, this chapter starts slow, taking a while to get to the meat of the story. Much could have been trimmed so we can get to the meat of the story faster but editors are for the weak according to Ellanjay. We do get this head-slammer of a line, though.
She had told him so many times he had memorized it,"Christianity is not a religion, it's a relationship with God through Christ."
Let's begin with a quick definition of religion according to Dictionary.com. I'll go with the first definition because it is the longest and most comprehensive in my opinion:
a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
Now let's ask a few questions. Does Christianity have specific beliefs regarding the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe? Are they often attributed to superhuman agents? Do they have ritual observances and codes of conduct? Then I'm afraid Christianity is a religion same as Hinduism, Judaism, and whatever religion you can name.
Anyway, it starts to slowly dawn on people that people are missing and we get another cameo from Buck.
Buck crouched and studied the clothes Mr. Petereson had left in his seat. "Does your husband have epilepsy?"
I must confess that Buck acts more like a reporter here than in the main books that make up the series. He sees someone missing and starts asking about any medical conditions they might have. I'm not sure if this counts as a continuity error or not.
But Judd immediately knows the truth.
Judd was afraid too, but he wasn't puzzled. As the pilot came over the intercom, pleading for poeple to remain calm, the full realization of what had happened hit Judd. He didn't know how many people on the plane had any idea, but he sure did. Christ had come as he promised and raptured his church. Judd lowered his face into his hands and shuddered. It was the worst nightmare imaginable, and he was wide awake. He, and most of the passengers on that plane, had been left behind.
And we have title, folks.
I suppose we should count it unrealistic that Judd immediately went to "God did it" rather than shrink rays or aliens beaming peole away, but I'll cut Ellanjay some slack. Unlike Rayford and Buck, Judd had been raised in a PMD church and by parents who no doubt rammed PMD theology down his throat, so there's a chance that he might see people's clothes and automatically go to rapture.
Also, I think Ellanjay realized that the drunk executive was Fred's favourite character and changed it to punish Fred for liking a character that wasn't one of the main Mary Sues. In the original Left Behind book, the drunk executive was the only one who seemed to comprehend something was going on world-wide and expressed compassion; here, he's just an insensitive drunk. So say hello to a continuity error.
Also as another continuity error, Hattie has the gall to tell Buck to get back in his seat and he actually obeys this uppity woman, thus proving in Ellanjay's book how desperate he is in need of salvation.
Anyway so the plane is flown back to Chicago.
As the airport came into view, it as obvious no one was going anywhere soon. There were planes as far as the eye could see, some crashed, some burning, the others gridlocked in line. People trudged through the grass toward the terminals. Cranes and wreckers tried to clear a path through the front of the terminal so traffic could move, but that would take hours, if not days.
Forget about all the details of the wrecked planes, what about the people? The runway should be swarming with EMTs and fire trucks and police cars, trying to care for the wounded, clear away the dead, put out the burning wreckage, find the missing, and sort out the hurt from the merely traumitized. What about the smells that are present? Burning fuel, burning bodies, and blood all have very distinct odors and should be prominent. I know this was written before 9/11 so they probably couldn't imagine anything on that kind of scale, but it was 1998. The OKC bombing had happened and they had seen plane crashes on the news so they should have been able to come up with some approximation of what that would be like.
Judd raced outside and through the jammed cars, following lines of people to cabs and limousines. He sprinted to the front and stuffed a huge roll of bills into the driver's hand. Judd told him his address and the man pulled away.
Our hero. Lesser heroes would have expressed concern for their fellow human beings and offered in some way to help as a stretcher bearer or donate blood or do something. Judd however is an Ubermensch and the first thing he does is try to get away. I suppose this is a little more acceptable than Dr. Dives or Rayford or Buck because Judd's a kid, but it still shows a lack of fortitude.
Not to mention, since he knows this is happening world-wide, what makes him think that the driver would be able to pick his way along the burning wrecked cars on the freeway any better than he would?
It took two hours to pick their way through the results of crashes and fires. The limo driver said, "Some people disappeared with stuff cooking on the stove, and there was no one to turn it off. That's why you see so many houses burned or burning."
That detail about the burning houses is an admirable attempt on Ellanjay's part to add some realistic detail but they fail miserably. If Judd took off for London from Chicago in the middle of the night, than it must be the early morning hours when he gets back. Who would be cooking in the dead of night? I'm going to go with Fred's theory that it was some post-coital cigarettes. Also, maybe their unattended meth labs exploded. That's my theory anyway.
And I'll leave us here until Sunday when we deal with Vicki's chapter.