While I lived in Minneapolis (1997-2003), and after I had finished the first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book (1997) and then “Our Fundamental Rights” (1998), I began to look again at fiction, toward the end of the year 2000, as I best recall. I recall that period in my life well. In October 2000, I had spent Columbus Day weekend in San Francisco for a special SLDN benefit. In late April of 2001, I went to Europe for a second time (and this time had no mess-ups). Among other places, I visited the Guggenheim in Bilbao. The summer of 2001 was a strange time for me, with a certain sense of foreboding, well justified as history would show. But during that time, I turned a lot of attention to another novel to be called “Tribunal and Rapture” which I have to refer to here as “TR II”. It really is not a sequel of the other 1988 draft. Since it was never commercially published, I can make no claims to a trademarked franchise or series.
However, I tried a new tack. The novel would be told through the eyes of another character. I invited a protagonist, Ali Mogul, a mixed race (black and white) man in his sixties with a background in moderate Islam and conversion to Christianity of sorts. But Mogul is somewhat of an intellectual for its own sake, who views religion as to be balanced with science (as had Islam a millennium ago). His Caucasian ex-wife is a surgeon and expert in tropical medicine, and they have been separated as the novel starts. Mogul has a long history in the military, as an FBI and then homeland security agent, and has been tasked to investigate what seem like paranormal threats, mainly on his own insistence, because of his long history of delving into deep secrets.
I introduce myself (Bill) as a kind of mystery character, who seems to link everyone else. Bill has escaped from prison by changing his body (David Lynch style), but has a history of connections with other important characters, such as “Frankie”, who ran a “re-education” Academy in Texas, and even Ali’s own son, Amos, who got in trouble over a bizarre mainframe computer hack (long before hacking was a common plague), and a recent college grad, Toby, who seems to have his own supernatural connections to the “angels” who are about to invade.
An important element of the book is a new retrovirus, which seems to like to live in cooler areas of the body (like the legs of older men), and is transmitted by close contact. It seems to have the ability to transmit the conscious memories from one person to another. A person make wither and die, or he may survive by taking on the memory of one of the “angels” (one of the 144000 in Revelations). Gradually, his life would become that of another (as if by lapsing into the same dream, like in “Inception”). There may be other ways to survive, with less desirable results, serving the interests of others, like by causing their children to be born. As people are infected, their grip on reality changes, and so could the entire country’s.
The early chapters present some other medical concepts, such as the possibility of other novel viruses, and the extremes to which physicians might have to go in the future for absolute infection control, including maybe male body-shaving.
The detailed history of Bill, and especially his “re-education” at the academy, his encounter with the super-teen “Matthias” and his history with Matt’s mother, Kelly (as a result of his personal history in Dallas in the past when he sold a condo) becomes part of another document, which I’ll discuss in detail here soon.
Here is the synopsis, presented in levels of increasing detail. The first summary is what I sent to “Mark Sullivan Associates” in New York for review in the spring of 2003. The plot is basically a road trip that circles much of the nation.
Book Title: “Tribunal and Rapture” (II)
Author: Bill Boushka
Genre: Thriller (suspense and sci-fi)
Time and setting: Late 2004, United States (various locations) and Titan (moon of Saturn)
Premise: American society is quickly and progressively threatened by a new virus that reincarnates the “souls” of those religiously “chosen” in Biblical times and overlays these “souls” onto current victims, while at the same time these same entities provide at last a way for today’s “chosen people” to escape to other worlds. In particular, a retiring African American FBI agent seeks to rebuild his own family so that he can escape, while (in a layered plot) an aging homosexual man, recruited into training for homeland defense in the trying days to come, stumbles onto tasting again his biological youth. While both social collectivism (particularly communism) and excess individualism have reduced “traditional family values,” escape from societal collapse might depend upon rebuilding the idea of family and lineage within a closed escape environment.
Conceptual Plot Synopsis
The protagonist is a religious 60-year-old African-American, Ali Mogul, who approaches the end of a long career as a decorated (and twice badly wounded) Army officer, defense contractor, and FBI sleuth. He has become separated from his wife and estranged from his rather sissy-boy son because the “real life” associated with family performance seems mundane compared to the disconnected creativity that he discovers in those he investigates and that he would like to develop within himself.
After an older alleged sex criminal whom Ali had helped apprehend escapes from an Arizona prison by inciting violence at a work detail, another informant (Frank L’Istesso) from a civilian defense training academy invites Ali to join a clandestine intelligence school where law enforcement, intelligence and military officers learn to use extrasensory perception and remote viewing to investigate possible terrorist threats.
During his first viewing he learns that the real threat really derives from the tribulation processes roughly like those in the Bible. Startled that his own “faith” and personhood will be challenged, he first throws up and then capitulates with a major heart attack. He had gotten himself into psychic intelligence as a kind of self-indulgence. Now, facing mandatory coronary bypass surgery and recuperation, he realizes that he must rebuild his small family, not just to survive, but to understand his first viewing.
His Caucasian ex-wife, an accomplished orthopedic surgeon, has learned of a major public health threat, a new virus that gives its victims very bizarre psychic properties before they die and selects its victims in a way that it threatens the demographic stability of American society. (It prefers victims with poor peripheral circulation, like diabetics, and is much more prevalent in high-altitude areas.) She takes a break from hospital duty and decides to invite Ali back into her home and help him recuperate. (He has to persuade her to take his new career interest seriously, and as deserving of personal respect more than love.) Ali revs up and starts recovering (like David Letterman), desiring again to “escape” from the taming influence of “family” and go back into the world and investigate the threat on his own. He sneaks out from his ex-wife’s house in Alexandria, Va. and travels on the Acela to New York to meet his son, who has reformed and transformed himself from childishness and aimless compulsive criminality to being able to help others now through newfound mechanical cleverness—hacking “legally: and secretly into the PC’s of other private citizens as well as large institutions. Rebuilding communication with his son (who had almost been killed in the 9-11 attacks) is a first step in realizing his own epiphany.
His encounter with his changing son highlights his focus on how he would spend the rest of his life if his world of relative freedom really does go to “hell and a handbasket” because of unstoppable terrorist attacks or this new biological epidemic threat. He would face some choices: re-connect with his family and live through that, return to his religious (Assemblies of God) faith as rather literally interpreted, or participate in the power struggle of those officials who would hunker down and plan surreptitiously to seize power in a society, paralyzed by martial law, that is “easier” to rule. Now he is suspicious that there are people like that; over the years he has sometimes been like that himself, just as more recently has come to discover “pleasures” of living outside of himself. He will sink into a quicksand created by those others whom he has come to emulate because of his own ennui over conventional life. And, going through his own investigative files (which he rescues after his own condo is burglarized) he finds plenty of evidence that the “old men” running the remote viewing school are on to real threats, however self-serving their personal motives. So Ali’s “problem” (in novel plot skeleton terms) comes in to focus: to given himself a valid “purpose” (participation in either “saving the world” for escaping from it), he needs to rebuild his family; the converse is also true. And he needs a purpose to survive (even “religiously”) at all.
His son’s efforts point him back to his own files as a former investigator, particularly the stories of the disappearance of the toddler son (Matthias) of a (female) health club fitness instructor (Kelly Skiis) and of the apparent criminal sexual encounter, some years later, between a middle aged colleague (Bill Berkowitz) and a vivacious Smallville-like “superman” pubescent teen who may after all be Kelly’s son, returned after a mysterious “abduction” and two-year disappearance. Bill’s “personnel” records had built up during his stay at “The Academy,” a network of largely privately funded training and living centers to house “asset persons” (or “civilian reservists”) who will keep the country going after expected and unpreventable terrorist attacks. Berkowitz’s own encapsulated “Ghost” story is that of an anti-hero escaping from his own character weakness (lack of empathy for others and a predilection for living “third person” in his own fantasy world), threatened with firing and unemployment, getting a “job” as an Academy trainee through reviving a personal connection with Frank L’Istesso, a former boy friend who had become ex-gay in the military himself and then helped start the “Academy” as a private businessman after leaving the military (when the “gay” problem catches up with him under “don’t ask, don’t tell”). Berkowitz has encountered and become involved with the teen friend (that is, probably Kelly’s son) through his misadventures at the Academy, been arrested and prosecuted, sent to prison in the high country in northern Arizona, and through his own ability to tease the homosexual fantasies of other prisoners, overcome “all odds” and escaped. But during the escape Bill has transformed or disguised himself as a younger person and taken on a girl friend, Tovina who, with her motorcycle, had helped with his escape. Before his “employment,” sex crime and imprisonment, Bill had built up some amateurish notoriety as a writer pushing for a constitutional convention or town-hall to discuss a new Bill of Rights.
The Bill of Rights convention, having percolated for two years among interested third parties, is actually coming off, and provides Ali Mogul with the opportunity to network with old friends (especially Frank L’Istesso and a graduate student, Tobey Strickland, who had befriend Bill and helped promote some of Bill’s ideas) and solve the “mystery” as to whether the remote viewings really mean the coming tribulations and as to how to escape. Mogul goes through some “terror-related” misadventures on his odyssey to Minnestoa: a train wreck (when Tobey finds him), a construction accident in Pittsburgh (where Frankie is now working), a major security mishap on his flight to Mineapolis-St. Paul (when he isn’t supposed to fly so soon after coronary surgery). His wife, Ellie joins him in the Twin Cities and they all adjourn to a college “fraternity house” belonging to Tobey. Ali and Ellie reconsumate their relationship for the first time in ten years, while Bill, apparently in disguise, and Frankie appear.
Ali will have the legal duty to get Bill arrested and returned to prison if Bill “tells” who he really is. As the congregated acquaintances bridge the tensions among themselves and put their heads together and hack further into Academy records, they decide to visit a series of sites to look for “clues” that confirm their worst fears: that “angels” from Revelations will capture the personalities of many male persons, leading to the tribulations and the end of modern civilization, but that an escape to a new civilization (facilitated by “miracle” technology available through the angels to those who meet religious requirements) on another planet will be possible. For Ali, the clues and capabilities are in his own life to understand something like this. For example, Ali recalls the modern physics and engineering courses way back at West Point and then at war colleges, and reconciles this Wissenschaft with the Assemblies of God religious training (including speaking in tongues) that forces appreciation of a kind of aesthetic realism as well as the selective theology surrounding the “rapture” and the remote viewing. But the most important evidence comes from the story of superboy Matthias Skiis (who had died after the sexual encounter with Bill), as he has actually been to Purgatory and seen what tribulations are coming, as well as confirming that our recent technology came, not from extraterrestrials in the usual sense (“Roswell”) but from the “144000” angels who commute between our world and “Urantia.” There is also “Second Kind” evidence of “angel visits” related now to what he saw in the initial remote viewings: that very ancient societies (back to Atlantis) had information technology superior to ours but kept it within their priesthoods and conveyed it to the “masses” through ingenious mechanical technology with devices such as astrolabes (and monuments constructed as “computers”). Ali comes to understand that his eligibility to “escape” will depend on his ability to participate again in a closed society that will for some generations depend on blood family dynamics and propagation, and that this ukase will be even more critical for Bill. He makes a deal with Bill that Bill can go on the ship (and escape arrest as a fugitive from prison) if he proves that he can “perform” with Tovina and potentially father a child.
By now the nation is disintegrating as the news of the epidemic spreads and mass evacuations of higher-altitude areas where infections are common proceed. The “tag team” meets victims (and spouses) of the disease victims, and recognizes now how the disease has personally affected them, all of this providing and ante-climax. Frankie helps Bill, Ali, and others “escape” to the spaceship site at a major strip mine in West Virginia, but, having hijacked a train during the final race for the launch site, is arrested and kept behind to live in an unpromising world—a disappointing but deserved end for a character who as a young man had been almost as gifted as Matthias, without having (like the Clark Kent character) the advantage of indirect extraterrestrial lineage. Ali will take his reconstituted family into space because there is no other future, and Bill will get to go now once (on the last night of their “road trip” when a “first experience” provides a personal point of recognition) he has proven that he can procreate and start a family, however late in life. The ship takes off and makes a 24-hour journey to Saturn’s moon, Titan, which, at the end of the novel, the characters learn has always been synonymous with Purgatory. During the “transoceanic length flight” angelic medical technicians determine that Tovina is indeed pregnant with Bill’s child. The journey to one other reachable civilization some dozens of light-years awayangels can get them close to Einstein’s limit of light speed but they don’t violate the laws of physics and “uncertain” causality will require families to be able to carry on lineage for a generation while living in a closed space environment, yet ironically none of the major characters escaping had established lineage until near the time of their group departure.
Ali Mogul: An African-American, born 1940, has had a career in the Army, severely burned in Vietnam in 1969, loses both legs in an auto accident in 1977 in what he believes to be a collision with a UFO; has had a career with FBI in covert operations and domestic homefront preparedness; in 2000 has joined a highly classified government program preparing for an alien threat. Converted to Christianity from Islam during early boyhood.
Ellen Cantor, white, born in 1941, married to Ali Mogul, married Ali Mogul at a West Point ceremony when Ali graduated in 1962, went to medical school and became a surgeon in an era before many women could do this (and tried to raise Amos at the same time). Separated often by Ali’s military and government duties, Ali and Ellen have become estranged after Ali’s second accident, and have been separated but “friends” since the 1980s. But Ellen has very recently become more curious about Ali’s work after learning through her contacts of a surgeon of “rumors” in the medical community about a second “AIDS-like” virus.
Amos Mogul: Only son of Ali and Ellen, born 1962, grows up and (perhaps because of less parental attention as he has been raised by a nanny) becomes a somewhat effeminate homosexual, has a relationship in the 1990s with an Air Force pilot, Gary. He had stood by Gary as Gary mysteriously developed diabetes, in a manner unrelated to AIDS. But then he falls into committing computer crime, and is fired and jailed for supposedly trying to pilfer money from insurance agent commission checks. Reformed, he has become a much more practical and trust-gaining persons, and now works as a process server and, secretly, as an Internet security consultant.
Bill Berkowitz: White and single, born in 1943, has lived a life of a “professional” homosexual dilettante. He has attracted the attention of the government by gradually stumbling onto pieces of the UFO research program.
Frank L’Istesso: Born 1960 to a West Virginia coal miner, he is apparently gifted and his his parents send him to school with relatives in New York City. He decides that he is gay and “comes out” at 18. Then his family has a crisis, and (keeping his sexuality to himself) he joins the Marine Corps to help his family with income. He does extremely well in the military, joining Naval Intelligence. He has also developed more interest in the opposite sex. He eventually marries a female Marine who has been thrown out after being falsely accused of lesbianism. After he leaves the military, he helps establish a company, Handyman Systems, that will secretly help the government set up homeland security while publicly acting as an I.T. consulting firm. .
Kelly Skiis: Born 1958. A woman with Ukranian and Turkish roots, has worked as a fitness instructor since the early 1980s. She marries a financial planner in 1980 and with her husband has bought a condo from Bill. She has a son, Dan, who dies in 1986 in a freak accident, being struck by lightning. She has a second son, Matt, in 1986. She has trouble raising him as a single parent, gets fired, and then goes to work at one of Handyman’s rural training facilities in Texas. Her son disappears, only to reappear in Utah as a very precocious teenager who has enjoyed an epiphany on another world.
Tobey Strickland: Has graduated from a Twin Cities area college in the late 1990s, and though starting a career acting and modeling for high-end commercials, has secretly entered the world of covert planning for a national emergency after meeting Bill.
Robert Stiles: A young resident surgeon whom Bill had befriended in the 90s.
Arthur Femeri: Born around 1930, informal head of a shadow government (informally called “The Brotherhood”) behind the FBI and part of corporate America who has gradually set up preparations for an eventual “rapture”—literally, escape to the outer reaches of the solar system where those favored by Revelation have set up a space station on Titan Femeri has at times functioned as Ali’s “matrix” boss both the military and the FBI. (This is a loose reqorking of the idea of an “Opus Dei.”)
An aging African-American FBI agent tries to re-establish his ties with and then “escape” with his estranged wife and adult homosexual son after he learns of a grave and probably unpreventable national security threat and, at the outset of his effort, has a heart attack himself.
Ali is attending his first remote viewing session in a secret facility in the Virginia Blue Ridge. He experiences “becoming” two characters from pre-Incan South America and then views a social encounter between an aging homosexual, Bill Berkowitz, and a graduating college student, Tobey, whom Bill is courting.
After the viewing session, Tobey gets a bizarre email from his estranged wife. Disoriented from the remote viewing, he falls ill with a frank myocardial infarction and is rushed by helicopter to University of Virginia hospital. He is told that he is acutely ill and must have immediate bypass surgery, and join “the zipper club.” He recognizes one of the surgical residents, Robert Stiles, as a friend of surveillance subject Bill Berkowitz, and also notes bizarre new infection control procedures at the hospital. Stiles helps Mogul reach his wife, who drives down to visit as he recovers. From the hospital, he reaches (by cell phone) younger business associate Frankie L’Istesso, who confirms his suspicion that an upcoming shadow convention on rewriting the Bill of Rights was actually set up by Bill Berkowitz, who has escaped (with some underground cooperation) from jail in Arizona where he had been convicted of sexual activity with someone under 18 (Matthias Skiis) in an encounter two years ago where Matt was found dead.
Ali and Ellen drive back to Ellen’s home in Alexandria and note a large number of mishaps along the Interstate highway. Once home, Ali begins to recover very quickly and is well enough to visit his own condo near Frederick Maryland when he learns that it has been burglarized and the nearby gated residential area disabled with an e-bomb. Ali had kept his dossiers on several “subjects” in his home, perhaps foolishly, but he had converted them to optical format and some of them were scanned personal papers, so they are intact. He picks them up.
He “escapes” the “prison” of his wife’s house and rides an Acela train to New York to visit his son, Amos. Amos takes him to his secret, post-terrorist-attack sniffing facility in New Jersey and hacks into various databases for information about this “new disease,” a retroviral disease of skin and central nervous system attacking mostly middle aged men, causing them to hallucinate that they have become other people connected to the “angels” who will live on earth after the Rapture, and then to die—although some disappear and some are found in various landfills and campsites with body parts missing.
Ali continues his journey by train the shadow convention in Minneapolis. (He is careful not to fly because of his invasive heart surgery.) But his train wrecks on the Eastern Continental Divide, near the Horseshoe Bend curve. He hitchhikes to a truck stop on the Pa. Turnpike west of the Allegheny Mountain tunnel. He encounters Bill’s important college-age friend, Tobey Strickland, who made it through the tunnel ten minutes before a bomb closed it. Tobey says that Ellen called him, but he wonders how Tobey knew his movements.
Tobey drives him to Pittsburgh to meet former business partner Frankie L’Istesso, who has had to find freelance work as a high-rise building security consultant. Along the way, Tobey talks about having to cancel plans for competing in the Rockies next year in the annual cycling race. Ali didn’t even know that Tobey had become a competitive athlete, and Tobey indicates that Bill’s knowledge of Tobey’s previously colorful life as a college student was limited to Tobey’s modeling and movie-extra cameos.
Frankie provides Ali his own biographical notes and burns some of Bill’s paperwork onto DVD;s; given the distraction of Ali’s surprise visit, makes a mistake an allows a tragic accident in a high rise drill using a net-funnel. Frankie will lose his job for real, and find himself on the run.
Ali now must fly to Minneapolis to get there before the convention. A fellow passenger—an elderly man—becomes sick on the plane and goes into hallucinations, and then Ali becomes sick in sympathy. He is grilled by airport security but allowed to pass.
When he reaches the safety of his hotel in suburban Minneapolis, he reviews all of his files. Bill’s notes tell the story (in “flashback” fashion, relative to the observation point of the novel) of how he was “recruited” by Handyman to attend a homeland defense “Academy” in rural Texas just before being fired from his conventional I.T. for uneven performance and perhaps for conflict of interest over “the power of his pen.” During the travels associated with his apprenticeship, he encounters precocious teenager Matthias Skiis, who eventually tricks Bill into a fulfilling homosexual encounter, after which Matthias mysteriously dies.
By now Ali is convinced that some younger men, affiliated with Bill (including Tobey), have become upwardly affiliated with angels by their “infections” with the new virus and the ability of the virus to transmit identity cells holographically.
Ali, Frankie, Kelly, Tobey, and other associates attend the Shadow Convention, just before Thanksgiving. Bill—looking younger after an apparent makeover—helps to lead it in conjunction with several conservative groups. Is it really Bill, or mistaken identity? As long as he is not sure, Ali does not have to make an arrest of Bill as an escapee. Bill has a new girl friend, who picked him up recently in Wisconsin and brought him to the campus.
The convention takes a shockingly left wing turn, as participants view collective good as more important than individual rights.
The participants adjourn to Bill’s adopted “group home” with other “younger” college students in St Paul. Kelly tells her story, including the two-year-long disappearance of her gifted son, Matthias and his reappearance as a “young man.” She apologizes for the trouble her foreclosure caused Bill, whose note she had assumed twenty years before. Bill brags that he has a capsule DNA sample to prove he is no longer the same person; Tobey had arranged his status as a graduate student in philosophy.
That night, Ali and Ellen have their first satisfying sexual encounter in 20 years in the master bedroom of the house. But Bill, now bringing along a “diesel dyke,” Tovina, who had mysteriously assisted with his escape from jail, has lost sexual interest in Tobey.
Picking up on the gumshoe work of Amos but without any more illegal Internet hacking, Tobey presents proof (in the form of an Internet worm) that “the Club” (the underground network of government officials and defense contractors who have been preparing the comprehensive civilian emergency readiness program) expects societal capitulation and preparing an escape for the chosen few. News reports report the disease spreading rapidly, by the day, in all locations in the United States at higher elevations. Tobey takes off, and lets Frank, Bill, Kelly, Ellen, Ali and Tovina take off on a cross country road trip, visiting several locations with important progressive clues about the escape. At one point, they visit the astronaut training center in the high country of Arizona, which is now being closed while nearby high-country civilians are evacuated. Near the Academy, north of Abilene , Texas, national guard units are managing mass evacuations and local authorities are setting up legal infrastructures. The “disease” epidemic has started mainly in areas of high altitude (where presumably blood carries less oxygen) and high air pollution, and moved out. Congress has quickly passed a law bringing back the draft.
The travelers wind up on the Texas Gulf Coast, where Frankie hijacks a train to wheel them to the space ship, which will be launched from a large strip mine in West Virginia. Bill consummates his “relationship” with Tovina and must prove that he can sire a child if he is to join the escape—indeed partake of “real life.”. But in just two more days political disintegration of the country is quickening, after e-bomb attacks on several smaller communities in the Eastern states. Several states plan to secede and announce their own sovereignty as mass casualties among the middle-aged and older male population mount, and evidence of mass infertility among younger men is reported.
The tag team assembles at the space ship in the middle of an artificial “moonscape”—a deep strip mine in the West Virginia Alleghenies. Mystery “bad guy” from the Club, who has apparently been courted by these omniscient “angelic” beings from Revelations, Femeri shows up (the first time he appears “on camera”) to arrest Frankie but falls ill. Amos must stay behind to help them both. Bill is allowed to go if he will marry Tovina on ship.
The “flight” to Titan takes about as long as a flight from New York to Australia. On board, they have a consciousness-raising group, watch some unusual time-lapse videos of human growth and aging, sleep, are served breakfast, and get views of what the mysterious Titan really looks like. It has been settled in only one area with a small, “Disneyland” type model city and artificial gravity wheel. Kelly relates that this is where Matthias was educated. The “Angels”— now clearly shown as monosolar beings intermediate between God and humans, run the place and use Atlantean-like technology that seems like magic and can never be widely shared (as on the Internet). The tag team will go to another world 60 light years away (requiring two generations of extended family life on the space ship) and start over a new experiment in freedom.
Chapter 1 “Chest Work”
Ali Mogul has heart attack after first remote viewing exercise and is evacuated to hospital.
Chapter 2 “Sick Leave”
Ali is prepared for surgery and learns about a bizarre new disease.
Chapter 3 “Pivot Point”
After surgery, Ali recalls a turning point in his life, an auto wreck in which he lost his legs and which he thinks a crashed UFO was involved. Then he learns that one of his attending physicians, Rob Stiles, is gay, and this brings up a former long-term contemporary, Bill Berkowitz, who has reportedly escaped from jail after sexual involvement with a precocious teenager, Matt Skiis, who died in the encounter.
Chapter 4 “Family Life”
Ali’s estranged wife, Ellie, visits him as he learns more reports about the disease.
Chapter 5 “Your Duty to Escape”
Frankie calls Ali, still confined to the hospital bed but adept with palm pilots, to tell him more about Bill’s escape and his disguise as a younger man, to escape not only arrest but this bizarre new disease. The “new Bill” still plans to direct a liberty conference.
Chapter 6 “Do Men Still Change Tires for Women?”
Ellie drives Ali to her Alexandria, Va, home and along the way they witness many accidents before they have a breakdown themselves.
Chapter 7 “The House”
Ellie teases Ali about their being an interracial copy before Ali’s former boss, Art Femeri, calls him and tells him that his own condo in exurban Maryland has been burglarized. When Ali gets there he finds the complex was targeted by an e-bomb but he is little affected since he had stored his own data on optical CD’s.
Chapter 8 “Remembrances With and Without War”
Back at the House, Ali plays the CD that shows Bill’s “going down” and conversion to a younger man.
Chapter 9 “More Streets and Roads”
Ali reviews his entire history with Bill in flashbacks, back to the 50s days that Bill introduced him to backyard baseball.
Chapter 10 “Full Tray”
Stiles advises Ali to have a pacemaker implant. Ali agrees, and decides to go on a voyage to look for Bill.
Chapter 11 “Coming Alive Through the Lord”
Ali attends an Assembly of God revival in northern Virginia and spots on of Bill’s idols, Williams, still unphased.
Chapter 12 “Sometimes a Great Notion”
Without his wife’s permission, Ali escapes the House and takes an Acela train to New York to visit his estranged son, Amos, who is putting his life back together as a process server after a conviction for computer hacking..
Part 2 “Frankie and the Path”
Chapter 13 “The Path Pit”
Amos takes him out to New Jersey where he still has access to a computer that he can hack, into Frankie’s “Academy” computers where there is a lot of information about the new disease and rumors of extraterrestrial origin.
Chapter 14 “Train Wreck, and the Cab Stays On”
Ali takes another train, intending to go to Pittsburgh and catch up with Frankie, and then proceed to the Liberty Forum. On the way the train is wrecked.
Chapter 15 “Tobey”
Bill’s younger friend Tobey (from the Introduction) appears near the wreck site to escort him to Pittsburgh. Tobey was also present when Bill was “changed.”
Chapter 16 “Consultant Kelly-Boy”
Ali catches up with Frankie in Pittsburgh, where Frankie is testing a new escape chute for high rise buildings. There is another accident as the chute falls.
Chapter 17 “Frankie’s Pre-History and How He Changed”
Femeri comes to give Frankie a chance to tell his side of the training accident. This is the first time he has been in real trouble in his life, despite a long military and the industrial history with the corporate right wing (and a forced “reparation” from homosexuality while in the Marine Corps).
Chapter 18 “Airline Security”
Ali, against doctor’s orders, tries to fly to Minneapolis, but an adjacent elderly male passenger (with the disease) goes crazy and vomits all over him. The Ali gets sick himself. The plane lands in Cleveland and Ali will make the rest of the journey by bus.
Chapter 19 “Bill’s Current History and Proof of Illness”
Ali settles into the hotel, and reviews his history of Bill, how he attended Frankie’s (civilian reservist) Academy, met teenager Matt Skiis, and gradually moved into a fatal sexual encounter, followed by arrest and prison.
Chapter 20 “Getting Arrested”
Ali and Josh Williams go on a walk in the area where Frankie claims he “initiated
Bill so he could disguise himself as a young man. Now Ali realizes that Robert Stiles, Tobey, and Williams himself are undergoing transformations that will change their identities to live through a coming catastrophe.
Part 3 “Bill and the Path Pit”
Chapter 21 “The Instantiation of Bill”
Ellie appears, and then Bill, looking a bit oriental, at the hotel, and Frankie convinces Ali that Bill has legal cover.
Chapter 22 “Shadow Convention”
They hold Bill’s shadow convention, which deteriorates into angry exchanges over meritocracy.
Part 4 “Virile Grad Student”
Chapter 23 “Meanwhile”
Bill, Ali, Ellie, Tobey, and Amos congregate at the old 1521 club and Bill will enjoy his new youth. He confers the supernatural nature of his experiences, even with respect to helping convict Amos after his own trial. Frankie assures Ali that Femeri (as of the time of the accident) expects martial law soon.
Chapter 24 “Virility”
Ali and Eli consummate their marriage again.
Chapter 25 “The tribunal of Frankie:
Over breakfast, Frankie gives his own account of his viewing Stonewall as a boy, his encounter with Bill 25 years before, and his straightening in the military.
Chapter 26 “Tough Love”
Kelly tells the story of her purchase of a condo from Bill, her default, and the virgin birth of Matt Skiis after her divorce, followed by Skiis disappearance and reappearance as a young man.
Chapter 27 “U.S.A. bis Australia”
They discuss the evidence of the new disease hitting eldery men, first at high elevations, and decide to go west, to see a country that will lose its mountain playground as a habitable area.
Part 5 “Tag Teams and Ascensions”
Chapter 28 “Road Movie Personnel”
The seven friends now head first to southern Minnesota for their first clue, in a gun shop, and Frankie finds out that he is fired.
Chapter 29 “Back to Sparta”
Their next clue is near the site of Bill’s initiation, near the bike paths in Sparta WI, in a house that used to be a smaller remote viewing center. The woman living there and her aging gay son claim that Femeri used to be their father and a good family man until he “changed” and seemed hell bent on bringing on the purification.
Chapter 30 “Waters of Jordan”
They visit the Jordan commune in Montana, near the site of the 1977 accident, and find more clues of a previous crash, including clues that the craft might have been the relic of an earlier earth civilization rather than extraterrestrial. Amos is given a competence test with an arranged girl friend and fails. Bill, of course, already has Tovina (from the ceremony).
Chapter 31 “Black Mesa”
They visit northern Arizona, including the Academy training site for the astronauts, and Tobey is “processed.” Tobey has become an angel and will have immortality but not procreate. Williams tries but doesn’t make it.
Chapter 32 “Academy”
They visit a refugee camp as most of the higher altitude areas are being evacuated. Then they stop by the Academy, where Amos find the remaining information and evidence that the spaceships that they will escape on were brought here in the 1970s by selected survivors from an ancient civilization.
Chapter 33 “Hijacked Trains”
Bill impregnates Tovina, to prove that he can father a child to take off the planet, and Frankie steals a freight train to take them to the space ship.
Part 6 “New World”
Chapter 34 “Escape for the Raptured: Few are Chosen; Many are Taken”
They arrive at a West Va. Stripmine where the ship is stored. Frankie is arrested and taken away by federal troops as they learn that martial law is nationwide now. The rest board the ship.
Chapter 35 “Titan”
The remaining travelers make the quick voyage to Titan. Bill and Tovina are married on ship, but Bill shows his hots for Tobey as they descend to the surface. Femeri disintegrates and Amos dies. The last triumph belongs with Tobey.
(Published Tuesday April 29, 2014, 2 PM EDT)