Sardonic and merciless, this satire of the entire apocalyptic enterprise provides a humorous and timely interpretation of the bestselling Left Behind seriesthe adventures of those "left behind" to battle the Anti-Christ after all Born-Again Christians have ascended into heaven. From predatory preachers and goth lingerie to Indian casinos and art cars” at Burning Man, this religious spoof deftly pairs the personal with the fictional. Featuring an extensive author interview and biography, this contemporary parody also includes the unique one-act drama, Special Relativity, which asks the question: When Paul Robeson, J. Edgar Hoover, and Albert Einstein are raised from the dead at an anti-Bush rally, which one wears the dress?
About the Author
Terry Bisson is the host of the popular reading series SF in SF, the editor of the Outspoken Authors pocketbook series, and a recipient of the Hugo and Nebula awards. He is the author of Crossfire, The Fifth Element, Greetings, Numbers Don’t Lie, and Star Wars. He lives in San Francisco.
Read an Excerpt
The Left Left Behind
Let Their People Go!
By Terry Bisson
PM PressCopyright © 2009 Terry Bisson
All rights reserved.
THE LEFT LEFT BEHIND "LET THEIR PEOPLE GO!"
"The Holy Land," said Vince. "This is where it all began." He felt a thrill as he looked around at the arid rocky hills that had given birth to so many great religions. Although as a skeptical TV newsman he didn't believe in any of them, he respected them all.
"And where it's all still going on," said the Israeli general, Blitz Kreig, who was Vince's guide and host. "Don't forget we're in a security zone. This is not quite Israel — yet."
A stone bounced off his helmet.
"Understood," said Vince. While his worshipful (and cute) young camera-girl videotaped him, he began the broadcast he had come ten thousand miles to make.
"This is Vince Kirkorian," he said, "reporting for IHS News, and I'm here near the Israeli settlement of Itz-Al-Aurz to interview Dr Kramer Kramer, the Nobel Prize winning biologist who —"
RACKETY-RACKETY-RACK! Vince's intro was suddenly interrupted by a loud grinding noise, followed by high-pitched screams. AAAIYEEE!
Annoyed, Vince signaled cut. "What's all the racket?" he asked the general.
"Land reform," General Kreig said proudly, pointing behind him to an armored bulldozer, which was demolishing a two-story house while wailing women in Arab headdresses looked on. "We're making the desert bloom."
Another rock bounced off his helmet.
"By bulldozing houses?" Like most TV newsmen, Vince had a highly developed appreciation of property values. "Where will these people live?"
"They're Palestinians," explained General Kreig, firing a short burst from his Uzi into a crowd of unruly kids. "They can hop on their camels and find another place to pitch their tents. This is the land God promised us. It's in the Bible."
Another rock bounced off his helmet. It didn't seem to bother him.
"Oh, yes, the Promised Land," said Vince, remembering. It didn't seem quite fair, but he knew better than to question other people's sincerely-held religious beliefs. "Can you ask them to hold off on the land reform till my interview with Dr. Kramer is over?"
"Done," said the general, signaling the dozer driver, who shut down the huge machine. "And here comes the good doctor now!"
Vince couldn't hide his smile as the old man approached, walking down the path from the attractive concrete battlements of the settlement perched on top of a nearby hill.
In his ragged cardigan and baggy pants, he looked exactly like Einstein, even to the kindly twinkle in his eye.
"I always watch your news show," Dr. Kramer said as he shook Vince's hand. "The world needs more honest, enterprising young journalists like yourself. And so cute!"
Vince all but blushed. "Thank you, Dr. Kramer. Now please, tell us about your new discovery."
"My new bio-gen seed grows fish from soil," said the aged humanitarian. A rock barely missed his head, and he ducked politely. "Gefilte fish, lox, whitefish, pickled herring. You name it. No one will ever go hungry again."
"No Jew, anyway," said the general, scattering a clump of children with a short burst of fire.
"That's wonderful news for a hungry world," said Vince. "And how do you intend to market this new discovery?"
"Market?" Dr. Kramer looked confused.
"Aren't you going to patent and license this revolutionary new bio-gen? It's worth millions."
"I am an old man," said Dr. Kramer, laughing. "What do I want with money? All I ask in return for my discovery is that the world allow Israel to live in peace."
Just then, as if in answer, there was a distant roar.
It grew louder and louder.
"Hit the dirt!" cried General Kreig, pulling Vince and Dr. Kramer to the ground with him. Vince looked up and saw swarms of funky-looking fighter-bombers streaking in low across the barren hills.
They were firing rockets and machine guns. Bombs were bursting all around.
"Arab jets!" cried the general as they all crouched behind the bulldozer, in the rubble of the wrecked Palestinian home. "Israel is doomed!"
"Maybe not," said Dr. Kramer. "Look!"
Anti-aircraft fire was blossoming around the planes, knocking them out of the air. They crashed into the hillsides, one after the other.
"Israeli missile defense!" said Vince. "Just in time!"
"I wish!" said General Kreig. "But our missiles are tied up in Gaza, taking out terrorists and bystanders. I don't know where these missiles are coming from."
"I do!" said Dr. Kramer. "Look. It's a miracle."
Vince stumbled to his feet, heedless of his own safety. He shaded his eyes from the sun and looked more closely at the shapes in the sky. He could hardly believe what he saw.
What he had thought were exploding missiles were actually Angels, armed with Uzis, riddling the shabby Arab jets with holes and then batting them out of the sky with their snow-white wings.
"Get this on video!" he said to the camera-girl. Angels? he wondered. Could this be happening?
"They're all down!" said General Kreig. "Israel is saved!"
"For now, anyway," breathed the kindly old scientist.
"Did you get all that?" Vince asked the cameragirl. They were standing amid the rubble of smoking planes.
"I think so," she said, her eyes shining.
"Let's get out of here," said the general. "You can finish your interview back at the settlement!"
Firing a few short bursts to clear the way, the general ran toward his armored Humvee. Dr. Kramer and the camera-girl were right behind him.
Vince was about to follow when he heard a noise behind him. He turned and saw an old man in a dirty robe of goat's wool. He had a mad look in his eyes and carried an ancient Winchester 94 in one hand.
"Charlton Heston?" asked Vince, unbelievingly. He was pretty sure Heston had retired.
"Wrong prophet!" said the old man. His eyes were like two burning bushes. "Talk about tsuris! The Anti-Christ is coming, and a nice Jewish boy he is not!"
Then he fired the rifle into the air and disappeared.
An Old Testament prophet!, thought Vince, as he ran toward the armored car. Could this really be happening?
"Did you get all that on video?" he asked the camera-girl, when he got to the Humvee.
"I think so," she said, her eyes shining.
"Come on, come on," said General Kreig. A rock bounced off the windshield of the Humvee as they sped toward the settlement. The general didn't seem to mind.
"I wonder why he has such a heavy Brooklyn accent?" Vince mused to himself. "There are mysteries everywhere I turn."
ELEVEN HOURS LATER
Except for take-offs and landings, which still require our hominid skills, modern airplanes fly themselves. Which is a good thing. The EconAir 777, high over the Atlantic, was on autopilot, and so was its pilot, Captain "Cap" Church. He wasn't thinking of the gigantic machine stuffed with dozing passengers that was in his command, or even of the faithful (if slightly dotty) wife, troublesome punked-out daughter and grubby son he had left behind in the USA.
He was thinking only of the lovely young stewardess, Amy, who was sitting on his lap, and of the hominid task at hand (literally): the unhooking of her brassiere.
Just as he managed to skillfully undo the clasp with two fingers, he heard a ding.
Amy stiffened. The Captain was already stiff. "That was a call button," she said.
"So what?" the Captain murmured, waiting for her ripe full breasts to fall into his eager hands, like oversized fruit from the Tree of Life. "Let 'em wait."
"First Class," said Amy, rehooking her bra. "It's a special ding."
"Then let 'em eat cake."
"We're out of cake," she said, hurriedly buttoning her blouse.
Amy softly shut, sealed, locked and secured the cockpit door behind her and tiptoed into the First Class cabin.
It was quiet and dark, just as it should be. She tiptoed toward the lit call light.
The white-haired old lady in seat 4E looked alarmed. "Where's my husband?" she asked. "He was sitting here, in 4F, reading the Bible, when I dozed off, and when I woke up, he was gone!"
"Are you sure?"
"OK, maybe it was The Wall Street Journal," the old lady sobbed.
"Perhaps he's in the bathroom," suggested Amy. Old men peed a lot, she knew, from personal experience.
"With all of them? Doing what?"
"All of who?"
"Them!" screeched the old lady, waving her hands in the air.
"They're all gone!"
Amy turned and looked around. It was true! First Class was empty, except for the clothes that lay neatly folded on the seats. But how could that be? She had attended to them all, heard their complaints, served them their "champagne" (a fun California varietal) and fluffed their pillows herself.
"Calm down," she said. "Let me check."
Amy tiptoed up and down the aisle. All the seats, except for 4E, were empty. Each had only a little pile of clothing left behind. Even the socks were neatly folded in the shoes.
There was no one in the bathroom. Then she heard a tapping noise from the back of First Class.
One man sat alone, in seat 12A by the window, working on a laptop computer. As she approached, Amy saw that it was Vince Kirkorian, the famous TV journalist. She had noticed him boarding. He was even cuter in real life than on his award-winning TV news show.
"Excuse me, Mr. Kirkorian," she said.
"Sorry but I can't give autographs while I'm working," he said politely, without looking up. "I'm in the middle of a big story. I'm on my way back from Israel, where"
"Who was sitting next to you?" Amy asked. "Did you see what happened to them?"
"Some supermodel," he replied, tapping away furiously without looking up. "She was cute. I was telling her about how I saw, or thought I saw, actual Angels with Uzis knocking Arab jets out of the sky during an unprovoked sneak attack on Israeli settlements, and she dozed off. Is she not there? She must be in the bathroom."
Supermodels had to pee a lot, he knew, from personal experience.
"In the bathroom with twenty-two other people?" Amy asked. "All naked?"
That got Vince's attention. He looked up, then down at the almost-empty seat beside him.
"That's her underwear!"
"How do you know?" asked Amy.
"Just a guess," said Vince, eyeing the lace-trimmed Victoria's Secret bra and panty set, neatly folded on top of a Chanel gym suit. Like most TV celebrities he had a keen eye for nice things. "Those must be her shoes on the floor. Prada, and not a knock-off either. Something very strange is going on here."
"You're telling me," said Amy. "I'm going to get the Captain."
"Isn't that him?" asked Vince.
It was. Captain Church was standing in the open cockpit doorway, struggling into his uniform jacket. It was a little tight across the belly.
"Zip up your pants, Cap," said Amy. "We have a crisis here."
"Done," said Captain Church. "Now, what's the problem?"
Amy told him. "First Class is almost empty. All that is left behind, except for Vince here — do you mind if I call you Vince?"
"Not at all," said Vince. She was kind of cute.
"— and the old lady blubbering in 4E, is little piles of clothing, neatly folded, one on each seat."
"Perhaps they are in the bathroom," offered the Captain. "They have their own, you know."
"All of them at once?" said Amy. "I checked. It's empty, except for a neatly folded pile of clothing on the toilet seat." She shuddered, remembering the skid marks. "Somehow they all just suddenly disappeared."
Hmmmm, thought Vince. He wondered if it had anything to do with the mysterious Angels he had seen downing Arab jets, or the crusty old Prophet who had sputtered some nonsense about the Antisomething or other.
"Jesus Christ!" said the captain. "Pardon my French but we're looking at a paperwork nightmare. I wonder if it could be the Rupture."
"The what?" asked Vince.
"The Rupture. It's some Bible thing my wife back home is always mumbling about. Everybody goes to Heaven all at once or something."
"First I've heard about a wife," muttered Amy.
"Rupture. That doesn't sound right to me," mused Vince. "There must be some logical explanation for all this."
Suddenly they heard shouts and cries from the back of the plane — the narrow, dimly-lighted tube where the Economy passengers sat squeezed together like pig parts in a long sausage.
Ayiesha Washington, the cute Economy attendant stuck her head through the curtain that separated the classes.
"I need help back here!" she said. "Hey, where did everybody go?"
Amy told her.
"That explains it," said Ayeesha (she spelled it differently every time herself). "Somebody must have peeked through the curtain and saw the empty seats in First. Now they're all demanding upgrades."
"Has anyone disappeared back there?" asked Amy.
"I wish!" said Ayessha. "Only the two Air Marshals. I went to wake them up, and their seats were empty. Nothing but two jump suits, neatly folded, and a couple of Glocks."
"Jump suits?" asked Vince.
"Orange," said Aiyesha. "They were traveling disguised as convicts. They were handcuffed together."
They heard shouts from the back of the plane, then a deep, calm voice said, "Let's roll."
"Uh oh," said Amy.
"I'll handle this," said the Captain, grabbing an intercom from the bulkhead. "This is your Captain speaking!" he said. "Return to your seats immediately."
"No way!" came a shout. "We have miles. We have weapons. We want upgrades."
"I shoulda grabbed those Glocks," mused Iyesha.
"I can help."
"Who?" They all looked at Vince. "You?"
"I'm a TV newsman," he reminded them, straightening his tie. "I'm all about reassuring people."
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
This is kinda fun, thought Captain Church as he brought the big 777 down for a landing. He usually let his co-pilot handle the landings, but it was good to get a little practice.
Besides, the co-pilot has disappeared with all the others, leaving only his neatly-folded uniform behind.
The disappointed Economy passengers filed off while Church filled out his log, dreading the paperwork ahead. Twenty-four missing, all from First Class. Plus the co-pilot and the Air Marshals.
Luckily, no one noticed. Church was relieved to find that the Flight Manager who checked off the passenger manifests was gone.
Vince followed the captain off the airplane, looking around in amazement. The Air Security ex-cons who poked through everyone's baggage were also gone. The long lines moved quickly.
The airport was strangely quiet. Peaceful.
"All the uniformed personnel have disappeared!" said Vince. He studied the Arrivals and Departures monitor:
Then he looked at Captain Church in his blue and white EconAir uniform, with the gold stripes on the sleeve. "Wonder why you were spared, Captain?"
"I was temporarily out of uniform. And you can call me Cap."
"Cool, Cap," said Vince, who was on a first-name basis with celebrities around the world. "Can I get a ride with you to my hotel? It looks like the shuttle buses are all missing their drivers."
"No problem," said the Captain, waving farewell to Amy and Ayiesha, who were meeting their dates in the gift shop. Amy didn't wave back. "I owe you one for cooling out all those Economy Class complainers."
The airport exits were chaos, and the highway was worse — littered with burning and overturned cars, mostly caddies and SUVs. Luckily Cap's Hummer H-1 was big enough to crunch through the debris.
Some awesome tragedy has occurred, thought Vince, whose newsman "antennae" were on "full alert," taking in the scenes of destruction all around.
The hotel driveway was blocked by a burning bus, filled with screaming seniors, who were attempting to crawl out the narrow windows, without much success.
"No problem," said Cap, executing a U-turn. "You can stay at my house."
"Are you sure your wife won't mind?" asked Vince.
"Positive," said Cap. "She's a Born-Again. Do unto others and all that. My grubby son will hardly notice. And my daughter will be thrilled. You're a TV personality, and you're kind of cute."
"If you're sure it's no trouble," said Vince.
It was almost dark when they arrived at Cap's modest two-story colonial in a leafy, woody suburb.
They were met at the door by his punked-out daughter, Gotha.
"They're gone, Dad," she said.
"Mom and Billy."
Rushing into the house, Vince and Cap saw two neat piles of clothing on the sofa, one large and one very small.
"My wife was grossly overweight," said Cap. "And my son was small for eight. This is their stuff all right. And this is my daughter, Gotha, sixteen."
"Eighteen," said Gotha. She was covered with tattoos and piercings in odd places. She wore black lipstick, which looked funny with her rosy cheeks.
She's kinda cute, thought Vince.
"We were watching the Jerry Springer Show," said Gotha. "I was sitting on the couch between Mom and Billy when Jerry started to float upwards. I thought it was the horizontal hold, so I grabbed the remote from Billy, and I noticed that he was gone. Mom, too."
"Hmmm," said Vince. "Your remote has a horizontal hold?"
"Turns out it doesn't," said Gotha. "Once Jerry was gone, all the guests stopped fighting. They didn't exactly make up, but they sat down and shut up. I had the feeling that even though the show was in trouble, the world was a better place, if you know what I mean."
"I think I do," said Vince. He liked this girl. She had a way of looking on the bright side.
Excerpted from The Left Left Behind by Terry Bisson. Copyright © 2009 Terry Bisson. Excerpted by permission of PM Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
THE LEFT LEFT BEHIND "LET THEIR PEOPLE GO!",
"FRIED GREEN TOMATOES",
ABOUT THE AUTHOR,
PM PRESS SPECTACULAR FICTION,
PM PRESS OUTSPOKEN AUTHORS,
PM PRESS OUTSPOKEN AUTHORS,
PM PRESSOUTSPOKEN AUTHORS,
FRIENDS OF PM,
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