Shelly's in the hospital and Vicki is visiting her. At first I have to commend Vicki for behaving like a friend, nay a human being, for visiting Shelly and actually expressing concern over her, but as it becomes clear, Vicki is only doing this because she sees her chance to chalk up another on her fuselage. That sound you hear is my faint feeling of hope, dying a slow death. Pray for it.
Shelly repeats the story that the other girl had told Vicki about babysitting for the Fischers and watching all the Fischers, disappear, including the babies she was holding in her arms. Again, my heart breaks for Shelly especially when at the end, she demonstrates that she, unlike Vicki, knows that the kids have been slaughtered by God and are never coming back.
"Why did God have to take those kids, Vicki? They didn't do anything wrong."
Vicki responds with "God took them to heaven," but that doesn't reassure Shelly and right now, I'm wishing this whole novel was about her. Her story is so much more compelling than any of the Elsie Dinsmores that make up the YTF, and she knows something Vicki refuses to admit: The Fischers are dead and they aren't coming back, and neither are the other children, God slaughtered. Gone is gone and it doesn't matter if they were wisked away to heaven like Elijah or killed in a car accident. It doesn't change the fact they're not coming back. Ever.
Vicki immediately begins her spiel about sin and about how Jesus paid the price for our sins, but Shelly refuses to bite. Right now, I'm cheering because maybe she'll escape this novel the way Tom Fogarty did, but I've read ahead to the end of the next chapter and from there, it looks increasingly less likely. Let us all weep for Shelly.
Well, the YTF minus Vicki gets called to the office about the papers. But before the eeevil administration can get any information about the paper out of our brave heroes, Vicki hits the fire alarm and they escape. For Now. But the forces of darkness are colluding against our heroes and who knows how long they'll escape expulsion. But John and Mark, the newest members of the YTF, mention something interesting. Their Bibles, which were compensated by an eeevil teacher, have turned up in their lockers with verses highlighted. So gang, a mystery's afoot.
Meanwhile, you know him, and if you're anything like me or Fred, you love to hate him: It's Bruce Barnes. Finally I can dust off my "Bruce Barnes is Useless" tag.
Basically Bruce found out about their little newspaper and Bruce is peeved. Why? I don't know. Maybe it's because the YTF are proving how absolutely useless he is; they're actually trying to do something to help people, while he knows who the antichrist is yet sits on this information and refuses to share it because he deems them unworthy of the knowledge and deserving of immense suffering. :deep breath: Did I mention I really hate Bruce Barnes? I know it's hard to miss, given how subtle I am, but I do.
Thankfully Judd tears Bruce a new one and never have I wanted so badly to cheer.
"You keep saying we don't know how much time we have left, that people need Jesus before it's too late. So we do something about it and you criticize us for taking risks!"
"I know you're our pastor, but you're not our father. I don't know what everybody else thinks, but I'm prepared to risk this and a lot more. If it means the difference between people going to heaven or hell, I don't care what happens to me."
This may be the closest thing we get to a Huck moment in these books. Enjoy it while it lasts.
But Bruce says there's another underground believer at Nicholae High who believes they are all in grave danger. But right now, the whole world is in grave danger due to an evil (note I said evil and not eeevil) dictator coming into power, so needless to say I'm not all that shakened by Bruce's words. Bruce doesn't tell us who this person is in an attempt to create some suspense.
Judd says what I was thinking that they're endanger of being expelled which isn't exactly what anyone would call grave danger. But Bruce continues.
"Expulsion would endanger the whole group and your setup," Bruce said. "But this is worse than expulsion. Because of the high profile of the school, Global Communtiy forces want to make this a test case. They're talking about assigning GC monitors to the school, people with authority to make arrests."
Okay, so we're getting some real possible danger here, but I still have some questions. First of all, since when is a school in some distant Chicago suburb far away from the seat of the evil empire (referring to New Babylon, not Russia) a "high profile" school? Also if Nicholae is so all-consuming powerful that he's able to have monitors in every school, even a one-room school in some distant part of Africa, then why doesn't he already have them set up? Of course, doing so would probably lead to New Babylon being flooded with worthless tips ("That kid shouted 'Jesus Christ!' when he dropped his books on his foot. He must be a secret Christian.!") and so many other problems that any reader can probably point out the numerous obstacles to Nicky Cardamon's evil plan.
But fear not, the YTF have a plan! They're going to stash Bibles in Judd's garage. I'm dead serious. That's their plan. To horde Bibles to give to people who want to read them. As opposed to doing something useful like providing shelter to people who lost their homes because of the disaster (though to be fair, they could just camp out in one of the RTCs' empty houses) or stockpiling food and water so they'll survive the plagues. I am dead serious here people. I am only quoting what's in the book.
Next, Vicki goes to visit Shelly who tells her, her secret. Basically, before God came and slaughtered all the children, born and unborn, Shelly's mom was pregnant. But Shelly wasn't thrilled about the prospect of another sibling and told her Dad which led to a massive fight. Vicki's like "Uh your dad would have found out eventually." And Shelly says, "Not if she got an abortion." Then she ends this story with this.
"To be honest, I was kinda excited to have a little brother or sister. I thought that maybe I could take care of it, that it would make things better. I thought Mom might get some help, might sober up. But that night, when the Fischers and their babies vanished, God took my mom's baby too. He punished me for what I did."
It's strange how RTCs are anti-abortion, when their God gleefully slaughters all the children, born and unborn, therefore unintentionally acting like the RTC stereotype of abortionists.