aleph symbol with title UNSONG

Chapter 12: Borne On Angels’ Wings

May 11, 2017
San Jose

Sitting in bed with her computer on her lap, Erica Lowry watched the sun rise and writing the news.

The overt meaning of “news” is “new things”.

The kabbalistic meaning of “news” is “the record of how the world undoes human ambitions”.

This we derive by notarikon, interpreting “news” as an acronym for the four cardinal points: north, east, west, and south. There is a second notarikon of the same form. In Greek, the four cardinal points are arktos (north), dysis (west), anatole (east), and mesembria (south). When God took dust from the four corners of the world to make the first man, He named him after those four corners in notarikon; thus, “Adam”.

Despite this similarity, the two words have a difference: news goes n-e-w-s and Adam, converted to the English equivalents, goes n-w-e-s. The middle two letters are reversed. Why?

(when I was explaining this to Ana, I added that there was a third word in this class, that being “snew”. When she asked “What’s snew?” I said “Not much! What’s snew with you?” and she refused to speak to me for the rest of the day.)

I offer the following explanation for the variation. During the day, the sun goes from east to west. This sunrise – sunset cycle represents the natural course of the world, the movement from birth to death. Adam is the only one in history who reversed that pattern; he went from dead clay to living man. And his descendants continue upon that road, trying to reverse nature, to wrest a bubble of order out of the general decay. They raise children, build cities, unify empires. But nature always has the last word. Children grow old and die. Cities fall. Empires crumble. The works of man succumb to the natural cycle. The west-east movement reverses itself, and the east-west course of the sun and the world takes over. And when it does, we call it news.

And so: Erica Lowry watched the sun rise and writing the news.

Erica’s Stevensite Standard was one of the most popular magazines of the Bay Area countercultural scene. She had a gift. If I had to name it, I’d say it was a gift at taking things seriously. If someone organized a protest, and only five people attended, and then it started raining and so they all went inside and had lunch, Erica could make it sound slightly more heroic and monumental than the First Crusade. She didn’t misreport the facts, she didn’t gloss over things, she just wrote from the heart, and her heart was convinced that whatever she and anyone in her vicinity were doing was the most important thing.

This morning, Erica was making the final decision about what stories to include in the June issue. The cover story would be about the recent trend towards a few big hedge funds buying out stakes in all the theonomics. Aaron had contributed a long kabbalistic analysis of the nursery rhyme “There’s A Hole In My Bucket”, which was…very Aaron…but would at least fill pages. Last but not least, a call to attend a vigil for the dead Coloradans to take place in Oakland Harbor, just short of the bridge that no one took. Everyone was going to stand by the water and hold candles, and this would be a fitting tribute to the martyrs in the battle against tyranny, and…

She was so caught up in her work she almost didn’t notice the gunshots.

It had suddenly become dark outside. Somebody had used the Tenebrous Name. It didn’t matter. She didn’t need to see the street below to know what was going on. UNSONG had finally found them. She had known this day would come. Ana was out getting milk. She’d said Aaron had gone out to borrow a book from the library. She was all alone.

Whistling, she reached under her bed and retrieved her emergency UNSONG-fleeing-backpack, taking a couple of seconds to stuff her laptop into the front pocket.

Erica was a good magazine editor because she lived in a slightly different world than everyone else, a world where enemies lurked behind every corner and anybody could be a hero. Very occasionally, her world intersected the real world, and then she was like a fish in water.

She climbed out the window and jumped onto the emergency UNSONG-fleeing tree just outside. From there she jumped down into the neighbors’ yard, ran around the back, jumped the back fence into a different neighbor’s yard, then jumped out the front fence, and was on the street after her own. Making sure to look calm, she followed it until she came to the park, then cut across, and ended up on a different street entirely. She slipped into a cafe, ordered a coffee, and sat down.

That had gone exactly the way it did in her fantasies.

She took her emergency UNSONG-fleeing phone out of the backpack and texted first Ana, then Aaron. “Hey,” she wrote. “Santa Barbara is lovely this time of year. Wish you were here.” If UNSONG had their phones, it would knock them off the trail. If either of them had their phones – well, judging by what had happened when she had laboriously explained this system to them earlier, they would roll their eyes and tell her that real life didn’t work like that and code words were stupid. But hopefully they would at least text her back and tell her if they were safe.

When she didn’t get an answer, she checked on the laptop, grumbled, finished her coffee and walked back out onto the street. She almost bumped into a police officer carrying a bag of bagels on her way out. She gave him a little smile, and he smiled back awkwardly.

She kept walking, street after tree-lined street, until she came close enough to the airport that the roar of planes overhead became deafeningly unpleasant. At one end of an asphalt lot was a shabby apartment building. After taking a notebook out of her backpack to make sure she had the right place, she knocked on door 3A.

A haloed head peeked out, the cracked the door a little wider to reveal an ungainly, winged body. “If this is about letting God into my life,” he said forlornly, “please don’t bother me. I’m already an angel.”

“Pirindiel,” she said. “It’s me. Erica.” Angels weren’t very good at distinguishing human faces, but they never forgot a name.

“Oh!” the other answered. “Sorry! Oh, I’m so bad at this! Sorry! I promise I didn’t mean…”

“It’s okay,” Erica said. “May I come in?”

Pirindiel’s single room apartment was bare. Very bare. I guess if you didn’t subsist off food, there wasn’t much reason to have a table, a stove, or a refrigerator. But where did he sit?

“I need you to help me get on the California Zephyr,” she said.

Pirindiel looked confused. “Aren’t you supposed to buy tickets?” he asked.

“The tickets are sold out months in advance, silly,” Erica told him.

Pirindiel was a fallen angel. Not a demon, mind you. The difference between a demon and a fallen angel is the difference between a submarine captain and a sailor who’s pushed off the deck of a ship without a life jacket. The demon knows precisely what he’s doing and enjoys every minute of it. The fallen angel, well…

G. K. Chesterton said that angels fly because they take themselves lightly. But what happens when an angel sees too much, gets too weighed down by the sins and suffering of the world? The clouds stop supporting his weight, the wings that bore him aloft in the days of Abraham and Moses grow weaker, and he plummets earthward. There, he gets stuck in a vicious cycle. No matter how cynical and jaded an angel becomes, it’s never enough. Angelic brains, or souls, or whatever they have, just aren’t built to hold the proper amount of cynicism for dealing with earthly existence. They end up hopelessly confused and constantly disappointed by everything around them, with almost no ability to adjust. There they will never take themselves lightly again.

“I still think if you want to get on a train, you’re supposed to buy a ticket,” said Pirindiel, though he sounded uncertain.

“Nonsense!” said Erica. “Imagine if that were true! Only rich people would be able to go on trains. Poor people couldn’t afford it at all!”

“Oh,” said Pirindiel, a little embarrassed. “I guess I didn’t think of that.”

“It’s all right,” said Erica. “You’re new to this kind of thing. Now, here’s what I need you to do…”

It had taken a kabbalistic rearrangement of the Midwest’s spatial coordinate system that rendered roads there useless, plus a collapse of technology so profound that airplanes were only able to fly if Uriel was having a really good day, plus the transformation of the Panama Canal into some sort of conduit for mystical energies that drove anyone in its vicinity mad – but America had finally gotten its act together and created a decent rail system. As usual, it was the Comet King who had made it happen, meeting with President Bush and Governor Deukmejian back in the late 80s and agreeing to upgrade one of the old Amtrak routes into a true high-speed railroad like the ones they’d had for decades in Asia. It started in San Francisco, crossed Nevada and Utah, continued on to Denver a hop and a skip from the Comet King’s capital in Colorado Springs, cut straight through the Midwest, and ended up on the Atlantic Coast.

That worked for about five years. Then there had been another sudden drop in the efficiency of technology, and parts of the route needed costly refitting to use the Motive Name. Then the Comet King had died and the security situation went to hell, in some cases literally. The smoking ruins of the Midwest had been taken over by warlords and barbarian chiefdoms – Paulus the Lawless, the Witch-King of Wichita, the Oklahoma Ochlocracy – who wanted tolls to pass their territory. The Other King seized Nevada and demanded another toll plus the promise that the train wouldn’t be used to lift the siege of the West children in Colorado. The smouldering conflict that had troubled the East Coast after the election of 2000 had devolved into guerilla warfare that made the whole Appalachian area dangerous. Now the Zephyr was down to one trip a week. Out of California on a Thursday afternoon, into DC Friday morning, then back in California by Saturday night. The tickets were expensive and sold out months in advance.

“The Zephyr,” said Erica, “is going to leave the station in about two hours. The train is guarded at the station to make sure nobody climbs into the storage cars. But after it starts moving, there’s no problem. I just need you to fly me onto the train as it leaves the station. I can take it from there.”

Pirindiel looked miserable. “I want to help,” he said, “but I’m not very good at flying any more.”

“All you’d have to do is carry me a couple of meters, from the side of the track onto the train,” she said. “And I know that might be hard for you. But that’s why I have this.”

She took a vial of a clear liquid out of her backpack.

Angels fly because they take themselves lightly. Fallen angels are weighed down by the sins and sorrows of the world. But ever since ancient Mesopotamia, people have known an easy way to temporarily forget the sins and sorrows of the world. A couple of pints of beer will make help the most jaded of men take themselves lightly again.

Beer doesn’t work on angels, but holy water has much the same effect.

Pirindiel stared at it greedily.

“I don’t think I’m supposed to do that,” he said. He was right. Churches had very strict policies on giving holy water to angels or to people who looked like they were going to sell it to angels. Erica had only gotten a vial by seducing a seminary student and promising not to do exactly what she was doing right now.

“It’s for a good cause,” Erica explained patiently. “It’s to help you fly me onto the train. I need to go on this train, you know. It’s very important. It’s for true love. My boyfriend is in DC.”

“Really?” asked Pirindiel.

Sort of really. Erica’s sometime boyfriend, Brian Young, had left Ithaca three months ago out of annoyance at what he considered to be the excessive pacifism and hippie-ness of the California counterculture. He’d vowed to find BOOJUM, the terrorist cell that had already killed one President and was supposedly gunning for more, and the East Coast had been his first stop. A few weeks ago, he’d sent Erica a phone number. She hadn’t called it, because God only knew what sort of trouble Brian had gotten himself mixed up in and she didn’t know who might or might not be listening to phone calls.

But if UNSONG was really looking for her, she had better get as far away as she could. And if Brian had really fallen in with BOOJUM, they probably knew a thing or two about avoiding manhunts.

As for the fugitive thing, there was no way she was mentioning that to Pirindiel. Sure, once she had given him her Spiel, he’d come around to being an occasional member of their Unitarian cell. But angels just weren’t good at defying authority. If he knew she was a fugitive, there was every chance he might have a sudden crisis of conscience and turn her in.

“Well,” said Pirindiel. “If it’s about true love…”

And then he drank the entire flagon of holy water in one gulp. There were ways of dealing with conscience.

Three hours later, Erica climbed down a hatch into a luggage car and gave a long sigh.

She was, she reflected, pretty darned safe. UNSONG could search the entire West Coast for her, maybe they would, and they’d find nothing. And if Pirindiel told on her – and sure, he might – well, a lot of good that would do them. She’d told the angel she was going to Washington, but Brian’s area code said New York. She’d get off the train in Manhattan and let them search DC to their hearts’ content.

The train passed through the Central Valley, then climbed into the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. It was all the same to Erica. The luggage car didn’t have any windows.

She checked her cell phone one last time before the battery went dead. Nothing from Aaron. Nothing from Ana. She hoped they would be okay. She figured they would be. They both had good heads on their shoulders. Well, sort of. Okay, not really. But they were book-smart. That had to be worth something, right?

She rested her head against a bag of luggage and fell asleep.

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88 Responses to Chapter 12: Borne On Angels’ Wings

  1. boris says:

    The Comet King’s capital was in Colorado Springs–related perhaps to the clouds in the Rockies with elaborate architectural features?

    • bassicallyboss says:

      Maybe. Or could be just because Colorado Springs has gorgeous scenery and sunshine 300+ days a year and is therefore a nice place to live.

      Or maybe he partnered with Focus on the Family.

      • The Warren Peace NFL Report says:

        Slight factual correction: Colorado Springs is NOT a nice place to live. You’ve never seen a population so universally UNHAPPY to be there. This damn town even banned recreational marijuana dispensaries! How retarded is that?

        Fortunately, Focus on the Family has so little influence here they might as well not even be here. Unfortunately, we still have more than our share of assholes thanks to all the low ranking cannon fodder stationed at Fort Carson (incidentally I want to kick anyone spouting off about supporting the troops in the balls). A good percentage of crimes committed here are due to shithead soldiers, as well as literally 100% of the KKK presence here.

        Yes, Colorado Springs is located in an absolutely gorgeous geographical area, and as it’s in a desert, we do get 300+ sunny days each year. Don’t let it fool you.

    • TheWonko says:

      So fun fact: I’ve lived in Colorado Springs for more than 20 years, and my first thought after “Wait, was he in NORAD?” was that Focus on the Family was founded in the late 70’s.

      Therefore: Dr. James Dobson is the Comet King.

  2. Pirindiel says:

    I couldn’t find llull anywhere, so I had to write her:

    Pull requests welcome!

  3. dsotm says:

    Does UNSONG need to subpoena cell phone location records or is there a name for that ?

  4. dsotm says:

    Also, wasn’t BOOJUM responsible for killing a congressman rather than a president ?

  5. Deiseach says:

    Erica’s Stevensite Standard was one of the most popular magazines of the Bay Area countercultural scene.

    *sinks head in hands*

    She publishes a magazine. Of course she does. Perhaps she thinks this is in the bold tradition of samizdat but are we really now surprised at all that UNSONG turned up on the doorstep? They didn’t even need tracking Names!

    I really am getting the impression Erica (at least) is hoping they’ll be Martyrs For The Cause, some big publicity about a group of people vanishing into UNSONG’s maw and that this will spark protests about how things are being done, and that’s why she’s doing her damnedest to wave a flag about HERE WE ARE COME AND GET US I DARE YOU! with things like this.

    In reality, they’ll all just quietly disappear off the scene and if anyone comes looking (like Ana’s parents), there will be so much legal obfuscation and men in reasonably good suits with educated accents talking in low, reasonable tones about possible terrorist links to the concerned enquirers that there will be a snarl of red tape around the whole affair.

    • Deiseach says:

      I think Erica may be underestimating how safe she is. UNSONG never surrounded the house or had anyone go round the back in case any of the suspects jumped out a window or ran out the back door?

      That seems remarkably sloppy.

      I wonder if they’re letting her run, in the hope that she’ll do exactly what she’s doing and lead them to much bigger fish.

      • beoShaffer says:

        Keep in mind that Aaron forced UNSONG in to action while they were still setting up and provided a pretty huge distraction (firefight with a Singer of unknown capabilities). While it seems like you’d surround the place before moving in its plausible that they hadn’t gotten to that stage yet and/or that the agents in charge covering that route got drawn into the firefight.

    • Vanilla Fog says:

      I don’t think she’s hoping to be a martyr – if they all vanish, there’ll be no one to publicize their disappearance. She seems to think of herself as the plucky underdog hero, who will successfully thwart the evil tyrannical organization and inspire others to follow in her footsteps, or something like that. Her carefully-laid plans for escaping UNSONG seem to indicate something to that effect.

      • DGD says:

        Which makes her a perfect fit for BOOJUM…

      • Deiseach says:

        Erica may be the kind who goes “We need a martyr for the cause – ah, you’ll do”.

        I’m not saying she would deliberately set someone up to get hurt or killed, but if it happened – well, it just shows the seriousness of the threat.

        Also that when she put her escape plan into action, there was nothing there about warning the others. Now, maybe she knew Aaron and Ana were up and about, but given that “She was so caught up in her work she almost didn’t notice the gunshots”, would she really have taken notice of Ana rattling around in the kitchen?

        When push came to shove, it was “Me first”. She may have hoped the others made it out, but it struck me as “I will memorialise you, my fallen comrades, and your sacrifice will inspire the struggle!”

        As well, she dumps the whole UU setup and heads straight for her ex who is probably in a terrorist cell (if BOOJUM are into political assassinations, that’s close enough to terrorism for it to count, and not simply a convenient “the powers that be label the activists ‘terrorists’ to smear them in the public mind” explanation).

        • XerxesPraelor says:

          “Ana was out getting milk. She’d said Aaron had gone out to borrow a book from the library. She was all alone.”
          In fact, she knew she was alone.

          “When push came to shove, it was “Me first”.”
          It’s the airplane air thing – it’s safer for both of you if you get out of danger first, and then look for other people, especially since she knew they weren’t immediately nearby.

        • Deiseach says:

          Actually, that’s what struck me about Erica and Ana- Aaron went charging in to rescue Ana even though the sensible thing to do would have been to leg it and assume Ana was okay and had got out in time.

          But both Ana and Erica just grab their gear and vamoosh, not even a shout of warning to the other occupants of the house about “Cheese it, the cops!” They put themselves first (and salve their consciences by saying the others probably got out okay). Objectively, their actions are more sensible than that of Aaron, I’m not disagreeing. But that neither of them apparently spared a moment to think of any others in the house?

          I’m definitely seeing a family resemblance here, but nothing to make me like either of them better. When the chips are down, it’s Mé féin and you can shift for yourself.

          • XerxesPraelor says:

            “But that neither of them apparently spared a moment to think of any others in the house?”

            Erica knew she was alone. Since there were no other people in the house, it makes sense not to think of warning “the other people in the house”.

            Ana knows that Aaron is in trouble, and doesn’t help. But she does think about it:
            “There was a part of her that wanted to run back and help (how? wielding the bag of groceries as a weapon?) and another part that wanted to at least run inside to destroy the computers before UNSONG could get its hands on them.”

            Neither of those characters really fit the type you have in mind.

        • MugaSofer says:

          when she put her escape plan into action, there was nothing there about warning the others.

          That’s what the elaborate code word system with contradictory plaintext meanings was for.

          No, I think Erica’s state of mind is that she ultimately EXPECTS everyone around her to be tragically martyred. It’s tragic, yes, but its inevitable. Maybe they’ll get lucky, but … probably not. That’s just the way the world is, when you’re the hero, so you need to be ready.

  6. YumAntimatter says:

    We have seen Brian Young before, in Chapter 5. When Aaron first came to Ithaca, he met Brian, who was then “moving out in a few weeks.” This places Aaron’s first visit to Icatha at three and a half months before this chapter takes place.

    Also, at some point between 2001 and 2017, BOOJUM apparently managed to kill a President. Any guesses as to which one?

    • null says:

      Probably Bush II, given that there was a reference to President Cheney in a previous chapter.

      • Cheney with even more power and an even better excuse, that may be the scariest thing so far

      • The Coment King says:

        Evidence against: They refer to Bush I as just “President Bush”, without adding “senior”.

        Evidence for: 2000 election was still super-controversial, suggesting it didn’t change much from our timeline.

        • Sniffnoy says:

          Yeah, but which President Bush is clear from context, so I don’t think that tells us much. I think there’s clear evidence for Bush II in Interlude Bet:

          It took all the way until the turn of the millennium before America listened to a bush and then got stuck wandering in a desert without an exit strategy.

  7. James Babcock says:

    Shouldn’t an UNSONG-fleeing backpack contain a spare cell phone battery?

    • Eve Matteo says:

      Probably has a spare charger, and I’d be very surprised if there’s plugs in the baggage car.

    • Aegeus says:

      Isn’t “The government can track your cell phone” like, Paranoia 101? I’m surprised she brought her cell phone at all, rather than swapping it for a prepaid burner phone.

      • Aegeus says:

        Whoops, I didn’t notice the mention of the “emergency Unsong-fleeing phone.” She’s using a burner.

        • Subbak says:

          But she immediately texted both Aaron and Ana’s real phones with it. So… what is the point?

          • MugaSofer says:

            To be fair, the text didn’t identify the sender as worthy of immediate investigation. Still sloppy.

          • Masked_Discombobulator says:

            Coming to this much later:


            Erica has two burner phones in her bag, one for immediate communication if possible with her closest friends and housemates, and one for normal use. She throws away the first and keeps the second.

            Hypothesis Two:

            Erica threw away her only cell phone shortly after realizing Aaron and Ana weren’t going to respond, and gave up.

  8. Sniffnoy says:

    Hm, so are we about to see the beginning of Exodus? After all, this is Chapter 12, and there are 12 parshot in Genesis. (Then again, doing it by parshot would make for a total of only 52 chapters, and I think Scott has said that the total number of chapters is going to be comparable to HPMoR, which is 122.)

  9. Wait a moment… If planes are so unreliable, why would the CEO of Serpens have a private jet?

    • null says:

      To hide the fact that they have the Flying Name, of course.

      • void says:

        No, to *pretend* to hide the fact that they have the Flying Name.

        So as to hide that they actually *don’t* have the Flying Name.

        Of course.

    • aphyer says:

      There was mention of a Motive Name that let trains run — maybe it’s a kabbalah-powered jet?

    • Deiseach says:

      Conspicuous consumption signalling. “Our company is so awash with profitability we can recompense our CEO by giving them a pointlessly expensive and unreliable luxury good as a toy”. Same reason wealthy estate owners had ornamental hermits 🙂

      Possibly also to advertise that they are able to make tech work (or can forecast when it’s likely to be the day that Uriel manages to make things run) so you can rely on their products/services as superior to the competition.

  10. Dennis Ochei says:

    These “Illuminati confirmed” fake etymologies are the bomb. Scott really outdid himself with this news/Adam one.

  11. Little Yid says:

    “I offer the following explanation for the variation.”
    “She had a gift. If I had to name it, I’d say it was a gift at taking things seriously.”

    This chapter looks like it’s written from the first-person POV of Aaron, like all the other named chapters, yet he somehow seems to know what Erica is doing while he’s off in Unsong’s sex dungeon. Is there some obvious explanation that I’m missing?

    • Tasty_Y says:

      Speculation: at some point in the future Aaron uses Shem haMephorash, achieves demi-godhood, becomes a literally omniscient narrator.

    • Thecommexokid says:

      You could ask a similar question about Ana in the previous chapter. The “obvious” explanation is that Aaron didn’t write this book until after this was all over. It’s clear at many points in the story that Aaron is narrating with the benefit of hindsight (“This isn’t the part that led to the apocalypse. That comes about an hour later” from chapter 1, for instance.) So he would have had time to find out what Erica was doing during this time, before he tells the story.

      The bigger question in my mind is how to reconcile the various third-person mentions of Aaron’s name in this and the previous chapter.

      • Ben Finkel says:

        And that’s because he’s narrating their perspectives on him. Erica thinks about Aaron’s submission to the Stevensite Standard as “very Aaron”. Should Aaron, narrating her thoughts, have instead said it was “very me”? That sounds very awkward in the context.

      • Good Burning Plastic says:

        OTOH in the first chapter he says “I am twenty-two years old” in the present tense, even though he hardly ever uses the historical present. So it looks that less than one year elapsed since he was kicked out of Stanford until he wrote the story.

    • The Coment King says:

      Isn’t that fairly common literary practice, though? Off the top of my head, Artemis Fowl 1 was supposedly written by a fairy psychiatrist but contained details he couldn’t possibly have known.

  12. R Flaum says:

    What about “sewn”?

    • Thasvaddef says:

      Sewn has the same form as news, but S precedes N. Sewing has its origins in the South – rich textiles from India and the Fertile crescent. But it is travelling Northward. The North is cold, and sewn garments become increasingly needed.

      Note also that S -> N connotes ascending, rising upward. By our labours in sewing we have transcended from animal nudity to the farmer in a course tunic, and to the king in embroidered robes.

      “sewn” written backwards corresponds to Adam written forwards. The opposite of Man is Woman (Allowing the first palindrome, which was also the first sentence ever spoken – “Madam, I’m Adam”). For all of history, women have stayed at home and sewn while their men went out to make news. But their patience has paid off – womankind has risen to the North, and is approaching equality with men.

      • The Coment King says:

        Also, Adam was originally naked in the garden – and even when he made “news” by hiding his nakedness, he did so with fig leaves. Therefore, “Sewn” is complementary to both Adam and “news” – it represents the craft of sewing, the opposite of Adam’s nakedness that wasn’t captured by the equivalent of “news”.

    • Thasvaddef says:

      And “wens”.

      “Wens” corresponds to “Wensday”. W before E = Unnaturalness. N before S = Coming from the North. The barbarians coming from the North are the Norsemen or Vikings, and they named Wensday after their god Odin or Woden. That’s right, Wens is a Name of god – but not the One True God. Pagan gods are demons, so to speak or write Wensday would invoke the Demon God of the Northern Barbarians. So we obfuscate it to Wednesday (for the same reason Aaron used Pig Latin), by adding “de”. “de” (德) is the Chinese for virtue. Thus we neutralise the power of the false god by adding virtue.

      The NS in WENS represents National Socialism (AKA Nazism). The Nazi ideology was based on supremacy of the Nordic race. They respected the old myths such as Odin. But now we revile the Nazis and want to distance ourselves from them as much as possible. Thus WE ___ | ___NS. The word is divided in the middle. It is for this reason that Wednesday is in the middle of the week.

      (Modern Germany especially wants to distance itself from the Nazi regime, and prevent that evil from happening again. Thus “de” 德 in Chinese also means Germany).

      You may point out that some of the causations I claimed go backwards in time. But God is beyond time. He is not concerned with your “Whens”.

  13. If fallen angels have trouble getting off the ground, that might mean the being possessing Ken Kesey could not have been one.

  14. hnau says:

    Usage quibble: ‘gift at’ versus ‘gift for’

  15. Rand says:

    “But where did he sit?”

    Nicely done.

    • Kinetic_Hugh_Reeve says:

      Confirms the obvious: she mainly tunes Aaron out when he’s on a tear. He has certainly given the “angels can’t sit and here’s why” talk a dozen times, and still…

      • Kolya says:

        OK, why can’t angels sit? Pirindiel came to dinner and there was no mention of him standing while he ate angelhair pasta. Googling bible+angel+sit doesn’t help either.

  16. AnthontC says:

    A priest once told me that there are two ways to make holy water: have it blessed, or boil the hell out of it. Think that would work on story? Maybe you could placebomancy some if nothing else.

    And do Rees it have to be hot water from a particular religion? There’s lots of quick ways to get ordained.

    • Yossarian says:

      In Othodox Christianity (not sure how it would fit into this particular setting), there is a certain holiday for the baptism of Christ, when ALL water counts as holy water. Wonder if angels spend that day totally drunk off their asses or have to not drink anything at all.

  17. Quixote says:

    Another great chapter. I loved this bit:
    “Erica was a good magazine editor because she lived in a slightly different world than everyone else, a world where enemies lurked behind every corner and anybody could be a hero. Very occasionally, her world intersected the real world, and then she was like a fish in water.”

  18. COPYEDITING THREAD — reply to this comment with typo fixes and other noncontroversial edits. Other forms of pedantry or kabbalistic nitpickery can be top-level comments.

    1. typo: “the cracked the”
    2. [argh, there was another one that I thought I’d remember but didn’t and I’m still not spotting it after rereading the chapter!]

    Another technical thing: google is failing to index for some reason. This is of course very bad for posterity and for spreading the good word about this book to all and sundry. But also it’s super annoying not to be able to google things from past chapters!

    • Arandur says:

      Typo: “And so: Erica Lowry watched the sun rise and writing the news.”

      • Anon Cowherd says:

        Agreed; presumably “Erica Lowry was watching the sun rise and writing the news.” The same grammatical flaw mars the first sentence of this chapter. It doesn’t *seem* to be intentionally significant; it *seems* to be a bug.

  19. Ara says:

    It’s confirmed that a Mr Young is designing bombs for Dylan Alvarez/BOOJUM. I think this is likely Erica’s Brian Young, though from his few lines in ch 5 he didn’t seem like much of a bomb-maker.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      While nothing about bombs is mentioned, we have more explicit in-story confirmation of Brian Young’s BOOJUM membership from the Passover chapter.

  20. Огромный Зайцыще says:

    Excuse me, how do you pronounce “Pirindiel” in American? There must be some pun or another kind of sense I am missing.

  21. QueenThera says:

    I’m actually rather amazed that the connections drawn here between “news” and Adam actually resolve an odd mystery of the Oz canon. East and West are mirror reversed in the maps, but the author never explained why. Now, it is obvious: Oz, as land of immortality, as a place where the inanimate can readily come to life, is a land of Adam!

  22. Emily says:

    Tense discrepancy:

    “Erica Lowry watched the sun rise and writing the news.”

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