Now! P. 110-130

Last week, if you recall, the Prison Guard is still monologing at Book!Merikay about her religious choices. In addition to talk about the Immortality of the Soul and The Sabbath, he has also told her that her family could suffer for her decisions.

I know I said this a lot in the last post: the guard is still monologing.

He stared at me with a cold, empty look. “Of course, if you were to change to God’s way and ask forgiveness for your sins, he would save you.”

Merikay knows she is right, but the guard’s words confuse her. She is particularly upset at the realization that harm could come to her family because of her actions. She wonders if the guard was telling the truth. The guard tells Book!Merikay to think about what he has said.

“But I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. If you want to, we’ll send you back to Kalamazoo; and then, after you’ve seen some of your friends and family, you can make your decisions.”

I’ve already talked about how this makes no sense, so let’s move on.

Book!Merikay is excited at this idea, and the guard takes her to a new cell, where she is alone.

But my home leave didn’t come. The days passed. Every few minutes a guard would look through the window and wake me if I was sleeping. Every day there were long hours of persuasion talks. I began to wonder if I was going to lose my mind. They seemed so positive that they were right, and yet I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was right.

I could understand wasting their time with this before the death decree became legal. Now that it is legal to kill her, why…. nevermind. I said I’d be nice, so we will try not to think about it too much.

Book!Merikay tells us that she is so confused by what is going on that she no longer is sure why she is right. She’s been starved, dehydrated, and deprived of sleep. Of course she is out of her mind. Of course she doesn’t know what’s true anymore and why.

They had so many good arguments, and always they kept bringing up my past.

If they have so many good arguments, how can you be sure you are right?

Are these arguments actually good, or does sleep deprived book!Merikay just thinks they are because sleep deprivation isn’t good for brain function?

And what past are they bringing up, exactly? Book!Merikay is 16 or 17. What exactly has she done that’s so bad that grown ass men and women would keep bringing it up? Did she do a lot of drugs? Have an active sex life? Kill someone? In some ways, I don’t necessarily need Teenage!Merikay to go into detail. But I need something to suggest why this is a problem for Book!Merikay. Teenage!Merikay could invent some shit that her book self did, and we’d never need to know if it was true or not.

Book!Merikay tells us that if Jesus kept the Sabbath, that should be enough for her. She worries more about whether or not she’s saved.

And I can’t help but wonder if Book!Merikay’s anxiety here about being saved is also Teenage!Merikay’s anxiety. Remember, Adventists believe that Jesus is coming next week. Any next week, not this particular next week. Teenage!Merikay absolutely believed the events in her story would come to pass. (If there is evidence to the contrary I would hear it.) Teenage!Merikay believes that Book!Merikay’s nightmare will soon be hers.

My heart goes out to Teenage!Merikay in sympathy. Her anxiety was my anxiety was everyone’s anxiety. Every single Adventist teenager, at some point, has gone through something like this. A lot of us can relate.

All day I would plead, knowing that there was no intercessor now. I was on my own. I had to stand firm. I couldn’t fail now.

Adventists believe that, in the last days, toward the bitter end, Jesus will no longer be interceding for his people. Whether or not this is biblical is up for debate. I am inclined to believe it’s bullshit, simply because any God who would expect me to stand for myself in the day of judgement without the blood of Christ to hide behind is a real asshole.

Any God who would throw me to the fires of hell for giving in to temptation while I was hungry, dehydrated, and so sleep deprived I couldn’t function is also an asshole. If you can’t think clearly, I don’t think you can be held accountable for the decisions you make.

Unfortunately, this is the part where Tom comes back. I get that he is supposed to be her guardian angel, and that it can be difficult to depict guardian angels in fiction….

I would rather Tom not exist. It is better to not attempt this at all than to attempt it and fail. I give Teenage!Merikay a bit of a pass because she is only 17…

Suddenly I woke up….I couldn’t hear the guard, but I knew he was in the cell. Rolling over, I sat up and looked at the man. It was Tom!

“Tom, how did you get in here?”

Good question. Maybe you should think about it for longer than 5 seconds. However, if she is clearly out of her mind from being tortured, she might not be capable of thinking about it for longer than 5 seconds.

“Never mind that, Little One.” He smiled.

Book!Merikay has been tortured. I think I can forgive her for clearly not being able to think very long about anything.

When he was around, there was no pain, no empty stomach, no heartache, no wondering. He seemed to carry an atmosphere of peace and love, of trust and joy, right with him; and to me the cell shone when he was there.

I…..can’t. I am trying to be nice, but scenes with Tom are just unreadable.

Tom gives her food. How did he get in her cell? How did he get food? How did he get the food to her in the cell? Book!Merikay does ask, but is told not to think about it. I can see her, with a sleep deprived hungry brain not thinking too much about anything.

Yet the guards still think she is capable of converting, even though she’s out of her mind from insomnia….

You know what, this will probably be a lot more painless if I don’t try to look into this too closely. Let us move on.

Tom tells Book!Merikay that they are going to be super hard on her from now on, that she is going home, but it won’t be a happy event.

How could he know my thoughts? I again felt scared. What kind of a man was this who could know what I was thinking? Then he smiled reassuringly, and I felt safe once more.

I’ve already mentioned how this wouldn’t be out of place in a horror novel, so we can move on.

I am also going to mention that one wouldn’t need to read Book!Merikay’s mind to know that the guards are going to send her home. And it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that it wouldn’t be as happy an event as Book!Merikay anticipates.

It’s called “finding out as much as you can about a situation and applying logic.”

I cut Teenage!Merikay some slack because she is, in fact, a teenager. She’s also a sheltered Adventist teenager who maybe doesn’t understand how specific sounding adults can be when they actually sound very vague.

Shoot, I was the same way as a teenager.

Tom reminds Book!Merikay to stay close to Jesus, and if you try and forget every single scene Tom has ever been in, this actually works. Tom reminds Book!Merikay that Book!Jesus has saved her from dying recently, and that he loves her.

His eyes were soft, and he spoke with love and authority of someone who has been very close to the Savior. I knew he was the most wonderful Christian man I had ever met. Better even than Elder Brown and Elder Jenkins.

I’m being nice. However, I will say that teenage!Me thought passages such as this were absolutely unreadable. Teenage!Me thought that surely Parable of the Sower was so much better. At least the main character in mine wasn’t so dense.

That is what 17-year old Snowperson thought.

17 year old Snowperson soon intends to read Parable of the Sower, provided the liquor stores are still open and she can get some help.  Madame Snowman will soon see exactly how awful her teenage writing was.

In any case, we get some more paragraphs of Tom encouraging her. And I have nothing negative to say about it.

“Tom, tell me about your past,” I pleaded. “I want to be just like you, to have the strong faith you have. Please tell me about yourself so I can be just like you.”

Right question, wrong reason. But sure, if I was sleep deprived, I could see possibly using this sort of logic.

Tom tells her she should want to be like Christ, not like him.

“But tell me about yourself anyway. Please?”

Good on you Book!Merikay, keep asking.

Tom refuses, making her promise him she won’t get discouraged. Book!Merikay begs Tom not to go, but of course he does.

Then it dawned on me that the guard hadn’t been by for a long time. The whole time Tom had been here.

That’s not suspicious at all.

I didn’t want the guards to wake me up all the time or to make those sly remarks that were so characteristic of them.

I don’t know what “sly remarks” she’s talking about… This could be Teenage!Merikay’s way of glossing over the fact that the guards were behaving extremely creepily toward her.

How could Tom come and go so quietly? how could he be here just when I needed cheering, just when I was hungry? Everything was so strange.

There’s being subtle about something, and then there’s beating us over the head. My advice to Teenage!Merikay would have been to trust her audience. We get it. Tom is mysterious and has superpowers. Move on.

Merikay gets sent back to Kalamazoo.

Since earthquakes and floods had put the railroads out of business, and the increasing number of air crashes made air travel very undesirable, I traveled by car.

If the earthquakes and floods have done a number on the railroads, shouldn’t they have also done a number on the actual roads? Why has there been an increase in air crashes?

I could hardly recognize Kalamazoo. Buildings had been destroyed from the many earthquakes ore gutted from numerous fires. Streets had cracks running through them. Sewers had backed up. There were very few people on the streets.

Ten points to Gryffindor (or whatever Hogwarts house Merikay is in) this works. Her descriptions of how the city has changed are good.

Book!Merikay doesn’t get to go home, though. She’s put into the local jail, where she sees a girl she recognizes. We are told that Merikay and Abby attended GLA, and that she lives near Merikay’s home.

Abby tells Book!Merikay that it has been hard for her, but “just pray and things work out.”

Right. How’s that working out for you? You’re in jail. If things had worked out, shouldn’t you be in the mountains by now?

Book!Merikay asks Abby about the faculty at GLA. She is disappointed to learn that Elder Brown and his family not only didn’t get away from the Sunday Police, they apparently joined them. Points to Teenage!Merikay, the dialogue in this section works.

2 days later, the guard takes Book!Merikay to meet her book!mother. Elders Brown and Jenkins are there, and this is a twist I wasn’t expecting. Good job, Teenage!Merikay. I genuinely was not expecting this.

I don’t remember this section being read out loud in Bible class. It probably was and I just don’t remember, so I really was not expecting this.

Book!Merikay then tells us that teams of questioners pepper her with questions. We do not get to know what these questions are.

They gave me no chance to answer their questions, but answered themselves. The answers they gave were contrary to what I knew to be truth, but they backed them all up with texts from the bible.

If they actually wanted book!Merikay to convert, it would make far more sense to sit down with her, listen to her answers, and then refute said answers point by point. Adventists would argue that if they did that, the questioners themselves would convert. The thing is, even if Book!Merikay is right about the Bible, it is still possible to persuade her to believe otherwise by answering her questions point by point.

This is especially true because most SDA doctrines don’t actually hold a helluva lot of water.

Instead of actually listening to them and questioning what she knows, Book!Merikay stubbornly holds onto “I know I’m right.” She prays about this a lot. Even if I allow that she is right, she is also guilty of doing the very thing she is accused of: stubbornly refusing to consider the evidence that she may be wrong.

Not that I think that is worthy of the death penalty, mind you. As long as they are hurting no one, people are allowed their religious beliefs, even if they are rather nonsensical.

I think that’s where I’ll stop for now. Next time I’ll get to the really interesting parts. I never expected book!Merikay to have a chance to confront the people who, from her perspective, have turned their backs on her. I expected all of what we learn from them to be revealed in an infodump that would happen after the 2nd coming if I expected Teenage!Merikay to reveal it at all.

Points to Teenage!Merikay for taking the story in a direction I totally wasn’t expecting.

 

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