Anyway first chapter begins with Ryan riding away on his bike and thinking.
Yeah,they treated him like a baby and used names for him that made him feel even smaller and younger. But he had been acting like a baby.
I think it's clear Ryan has a touch of Stockholm Syndrome. Every part of this reads as an abused spouse saying, "He beats me but it's okay." Keep riding, Ryan. You owe these people nothing.
Anyway, I think Ellanjay realizes how much sympathy Ryan and his parents are attracting so they attempt an Authors Saving Throw by having Ryan reminisce about his Aunt Evelyn and we see this following conversation between him and his parents.
"Your dad says your uncle Walter's wife has always been some kind of a religious nut, Ryan," his mother had said. "But she means well. She's been good for Walter."
"Good for him?" Mr. Daley had chimed in. "Took all the fun out of him if you ask me. Got him the old-time religion and he became a Holy Joe."
"He was still fun, Dad," Ryan had said. "He was always being funny."
"He kept telling us we need Jesus," Mr. Daley said. "But frankly I don't feel the need for anything."
See, see, Ellanjay appear to be saying, they scoffed at Zod and now they're burning for all eternity. Of course, most of us are thinking,"So what? They're being tortured for all eternity over an off-the-cuff remark."
Basically Aunt Evelyn is a Jack Chick type character, the one evangelist thrown in so when the characters laugh at him or her and go to Hell, the writer can point to him or her and say, "See they had a chance." Because again, despite being told over and over again not to make rash decisions, the word of Zod is supposed to be so amazing that instant you hear it, you convert on the spot.
He wondered how many chances his parents had had. His dad always had some comment when he saw a preacher on television. He thought they were all crooks, but he never kept the TV channel on any church program long enough to hear what they had to say.
Again, we don't know the story of Ryan's parents. We don't know if a priest touched Mr. Daley or if he just did some studying on his own and found faith in God to be incompatible with what he knew to be right.
Once again, I have to ask, someone write fanfiction for Ryan's parents.
The rest of the chapter is a long action scene in which Ryan goes to Lionel's house to check on the hoods crashing there. Lionel should really give Ryan a damn medal for his work: he risked his life on his behalf after the way Lionel treated him. Anyway what happens is they spot them and Ryan has to peddle for his life and at some point, Ryan says some variation on The Prayer.
Next chapter, we cut to the others who are sitting around wondering where Ryan is. Also, Judd and Vicki talk.
"So do I, Vicki, but I made an ultimatum and I have to stick to it."
"No you don't. We're not about ultimatums. We're about mercy and grace, like Bruce always says."
Mercy and grace is what Christianity is supposed to be about but too bad the characters never listen to themselves and actually practice what they preach.
Also Lionel continually proves himself to be the most assholish character.
"I could be wrong," Lionel said, "but I think he's too chicken to get himself into trouble. That kid wouldn't go with me into his own house in broad daylight."
"He knows you think that too," Vicki said. "Maybe he went and did something foolish to try to prove himself to you."
"I doubt it," Lionel said. "I told you he just blew me off when I tried to apologize."
As would any sane person because you weren't apologizing because you were genuinely sorry, you were apologizing because you were afraid you were hurting your sales quota. Anyone could see that.
Anyway, Bruce, Judd, Vicki, and Lionel start getting into a discussion about the anti-christ. Vicki suggests that it might be President Fitzhugh which provokes this response from Bruce.
"I'd be very surprised if it was President Fitzhugh," Bruce said. "This week I want you to be reading the passages I have outlined on this sheet. It tells some of the characteristics of the anti-christ and one of them is that he has some sort of blood ties with the Roman Empire."
If blood ties with the Roman Empire are key, than a good chunk of the population is the anti-Christ given how far and wide the Empire spread. Also, I think I should translate what Bruce said, just to be sure you got the message: Silly weak female, everyone knows America is the greatest nation on earth, and all our actions are infalliably right. Even the corrupt dictators we prop up around the world are morally infalliable just because of their attachment to America. Now get back in the kitchen and bake us some brownies, sweetheart.
Anyway, Bruce serves to kill any suspense by pointing out the whole one in four will die which probably doesn't mean much to people living in places like Sudan or the Congo where one in four dying is pretty much a reality there.
Anyway, Ryan shows up and tells them his story and asks this question.
"I got to thinking when I was on Raymie's street, what happens if LeRoy catches me? Or what happens if I don't see some car and I shoot in front of it? I could die. Then where would I be? I made my decision and said my prayer while I was on that bike. Is that OK? I mean, I didn't even have the breath to say it out loud. Does it still count?"
The response is that it does count and the love-bombing ensues just as I predicted.
And that's it for this week. I'd like to remind all of you that if you want, you can still submit fanfiction to me and I'll post it up for everyone to read.