Wither, Ch12

Last time on rape rape rape rape, many things happened and then finally Rhine tried to run away. She sees the end of the garden in the distance, then something clocks her on the head.

She wakes up presumably in the basement.

Vaughn is here. I can feel his presence. I can smell his cold metal scalpel. He’s going to cut me open.

He does no such thing, of course. Rhine continues to show amazing talent in overreacting to everything but the actual horrible things going on.

Later, she smells tea instead of scalpels and wakes to see the rapist.

Linden’s eager green eyes. His lips look redder, cut up, bloody. Strange purple welts make spreading circles on his face and throat. My hand is in both of his, and when he squeezes, it hurts.
“Thank goodness,” he says, and hides his face in my shoulder and convulses with a sob. “You’re awake.”
I vomit

I quote because this is the first sane response she’s made in quite a while. I too find all mention of poor sad baby Linden-chan and his pretty eyes to be vomit-worthy.

The vomit doesn’t make her unpretty or anything. She just wakes up again to find the rapist sleeping next to her, and as usual she doesn’t care. She does have a bit of emo over the thought she’s never going to get out, but as usual it’s incredibly mild for the situation. She’s sad in a very general way, not repulsed by the fact the rapist is currently breathing in her ear.

no matter where I go or how hard I try, I will always end up right back here.

Also, she’s just such a defeatist.

The reason it didn’t work is she ran away during a storm when people were looking for her. Most of the time she can go to those places and be fine. Furthermore, she was doing pretty well anyway because it seems people couldn’t figure out where she was or else were about as impeded by the wind as she was. The only reason she was caught is she stopped to climb the lighthouse, then got knocked out.

Once she wakes up, the rapist stays with her all the time because he’s so nice. I hope this means he’s been distracted from forcing Cecily to stay in bed. I don’t like him spending time with her, but even that’s better than her being left completely alone.

Evil scientist is there at times too.

In my medicated delirium he has transformed into some kind of talking snake. He tells me I won’t be able to put weight on my left ankle for at least two weeks, and it’s going to hurt to breathe for a while.

Rhine whines more about how nothing matters because she’s given up. You’ll notice this doesn’t prevent her from continuing the elaborate bits on why he’s secretly evil. Whine whine whine and then finally, fucking finally, evil mad scientist actually starts being evil:

“I must admit, a hurricane is more extreme than an air vent,” Vaughn’s voice is floating over me.

“Did you know that’s what your dead sister wife tried? The air vents! And she made it all the way down the hall in that air duct before she was discovered. Such a clever little girl she was, and only eleven at the time.”

So Rose wasn’t willing either. I can’t decide if that makes it more or less understandable that she’d do the same thing to other girls for the sake of her beloved husband. I think this does prove that even cultural relativism bullshit doesn’t apply to the rapist since for all the claims he loved her, he never let her out.

There isn’t a full explanation of why, but at least here there’s a glimmer of one. Vaughn explains that her parents were surgeons (…who owned massive orange groves?)

But then they lost their minds. They traveled state to state spreading some crackpot conspiracy that if we couldn’t find an antidote, there had to be some surviving country out there in that wasteland of water that would help us. They taught her all about the destroyed countries, as though any of that matters.”

This is dumb.

Believing there are still surviving countries is barely a step above believing the earth is flat. That is, you can rationalize it with sufficient effort, but it requires constant avoidance of any actual testing.

In this case, there are several things we would expect to be true if other countries exist.

1) Visible from space. From Rhine mentioning this, it seems they still have satellite up. It makes no sense for the government to lie about what’s visible from space when the country is imploding like this.
2) Radio or similar waves. If the remaining countries survived but don’t still have broadcast technology, they don’t have the technology to help.
3) Attempting contact. Just as it makes no sense that the American government would ignore other countries, it makes no sense they’d ignore us.

Now, if we bombed them, any survivors might be frightened enough to try to hide their existence, but if we’re that paranoid, we should bomb them again when we realize any of the areas are still twitching. The only way this could work is if we don’t have satellite technology, so it’s hard to tell if anyone’s alive, and even then, you can send people to find out. Or just blanket bomb the areas for good measure, I mean it’s not like we have any other use for the bombs now.

Which brings me neatly to my next point, what sort of fucking morons think the solution is outside the country so the best idea is to travel around the interior? This is why I draw the flat earth comparison. Just as if you actually wanted to know for sure you could get on a plane, they should have just bought a damn boat. (This assumes planes flat out no longer exist, which hasn’t even been said but at least there’s been no mention.) They’re apparently filthy rich just like evil mad scientist. You know where the land masses should be, just sail around those areas and see if there’s anything large and inhabited. Hire other people to do the same.

There’s been no sign people can’t leave if they want. Rhine is clear that the contamination that makes the fish so bad to eat is confined to the coastline and fishing boats leave regularly, so there’s no sign it’s even discouraged. If there’s some big conspiracy to keep people from finding out about the other countries, why not say all the fish are contaminated and if you go to far it’s radioactive?

Plus, there’s the very simple conspiracy theory test: if (something awesome) existed and was known about to a few people, why is there no evidence that (something awesome) is being used by those few? In this case, if there’s any way of fixing the kids, some member of the elite would have fixed their kid by now even if we accept that for no reason they want things to stay like this for everyone else.

Anyway, he says that they took Rose with them everywhere until one day, car bomb.

A bomb. I have heard those in Manhattan, a distant boom! telling me that people have just died.

This seems to have no purpose but grimdark. Why are people constantly being exploded in New York? Because. Because is why.

At least the car bomb evil mad scientist mentioned had a purpose, namely that some people don’t like other people looking for a cure. I really wish we’d hear more of them, doomsday cultists are sadly underused as anything but a plot device.

Rhine is all “yeah I know stupid”.

My parents received so many death threats for their lab work. There are two warring sides: pro-science, which favors genetic research and the pursuit of an antidote; and pro-naturalism, which believes that it’s too late, and that breeding new children and subjecting them to experimentation is unethical. In short, pro-naturalism believes that it’s natural to let the human race end.

Hello failing to understand how people work!

There would be at least one group who thinks experimenting on kids is wrong but having them is fine. And I’m sure there’d be a group that was in favor of science but that human experimentation in particular is a bad idea – I mean, from the sounds of it, they’re just taking DNA, running it through a test, saying they found nothing, and then taking more DNA and doing the exact same test. I’d oppose that kind of bullshit. And of course there’d be people who figured it was a sin and if we just atone enough kids will start living full lives again – a lot of people, I’d say, given this disease is apparently supernatural given they can’t even find any physical sign of it.

Plus there’d be the super-pro-science people, who’d advocate making doubleplussuperbabies to solve the problem, focusing on making kids who can survive instead of fixing the current ones. And another group who’s trying to splice human genes into chimps because there’s no mention of the “virus” hitting animals, so if you could make human-brained animals you’d have saved the important part of the human race. (As I mentioned, chimps don’t have the same lifespan as humans, but as I also mentioned, even their shorter wild lifespan is still better than twenty/five years, and I’m sure the species would start selecting for extended lifespan. Plus they hit sexual maturity earlier, so the period for raising kids would be even longer.)

Anyway, evil mad scientist’s point is the world is dangerous so she should stay here. This doesn’t actually make sense! See, evil mad scientist only gives a fuck about her as she relates to the rapist, namely he figures the rapist would be sad if she died. So why does evil mad scientist let the rapist leave if his only real concern is protecting the guy?

And suddenly it makes sense that Rose tried to deter me from escaping. It wasn’t simply because she wanted Linden to have a companion after she was gone. She was trying to warn me, to spare me whatever punishment she faced for her own escape attempt.

While Rose deserves sympathy for her own suffering, this seems like Rhine’s usual nonsense. If Rose had any interest in sparing them, she wouldn’t have told the rapist to get Rhine and the others. If Rose was uninvolved, this would be reasonable, but she claimed she was the one who actually caused everything to happen. This seems to be another manifestation of how the book inexplicably thinks everything can be blamed on evil mad scientist who’s just hanging out in the basement and not the actual people involved.

“If you value your life, you won’t run again.”

Except he just said his whole issue with her running away is that the rapist would be sad if she died. So this can’t be a threat, because killing her would just cause the thing he’s worried about. In context of what just happened, he seems to be relying on scaring her with the thought of dying as a natural consequence of escaping, something that’s outside anyone’s power.


  1. I don’t get the whole America-destroyed-the-whole-rest-of-the-world subplot, or whatever it is. It makes no sense — why would America start bombing the fuck out of other countries in the middle of a plague? Or did that happen pre-plague? Or was it that America was the only country affected and they were paranoid that “oh noes no more Americans growing up to be adults we’ll be overrun by foreigners/won’t be powerful any more?” Or am I overthinking this and it’s not meant to be anything but a bunch of pretty grimdark. This book, it sounds so much like a bad first draft written by a high-school student during a Goth phase.
    1. And… I looked this thing up on Amazon and it apparently was published by a Real Publisher™ (Simon & Schuster). Welp, there goes any last vestiges of the idea that being published by a trad house = better written/edited work. Not that I’d believed that for some time, but still.
    2. Maimh says:
      I keep entertaining the idea that is the rest of the world who freaked at the whole superbabies and plauge thing, so america is being kept perfectly isolated. Now the first-gen have convinced themselves thay are the last people of earth, cause they are idiots, as the society shows.
      1.  “…america is being kept perfexctly isolated.”

        That’s what I’d do! That would make more sense than “we blew all the continents up into little itty bitty bits” which… how does that work exactly? Does the author think the continents are made of cardboard and are floating on the ocean? How do you completely destroy the Himalayas, for example? Mountains aren’t exactly easy to destroy. The magickal “Disappearo Continents-o!” would need a whole lot of force — way more than we have in our collection of nuclear weapons.

        Okay, I’m definitely thinking too much about this.

        1. Lexington says:
          I hope you both know you put more thought into three paragraphs than this author did in the entire book.

          on that (completely unrelated) note Farla, you should totally facebook the author the link to this. 

          1. Act says:
            There’s nothing to be gained from that; it’s just trolling. It’s unlikely that she’ll understand the problems here no matter how it’s spelled out. 
          2. Farla says:
        2. Farla says:
          The problem is America wouldn’t take a quarantine well, so unless they nuked us, we’d go try to invade them. The only option is that while we were messing around with deadly babies, the rest of the world suddenly got alien technology allowing them to explode anything that ventures beyond the established border.
          1. purplekitte says:
            I’m still holding to the theory that this was all done by someone who really hated birds. Fuck you, penguins, fuck you.
    3. Farla says:
      I like to think we got the superbabies and were like okay genetic diversity problem SOLVED FOREVER, we no longer need the rest of the world!

      Someone tried to point out the rest of the world is where we make our stuff but was drowned out by the chant of SUPERBABIES SUPERBABIES.

    4. Rachel says:
      To be fair, I don’t think that’s what the book intended you to think.
      1.  Authorial intent doesn’t really matter once the work is in the reader’s hands, but a good writer at least tries to give the reader enough info so they aren’t forced to make up their own scenarios about what’s happening just so the story can make sense to them.
  2. Act says:
    Just in case we doubted the author was an ignoramus with no sense of morality or responsibility, here’s an infuriating quote from her Facebook about how it’s not her fault she wrote about how cool rape is you guys, it’s just the story!

    “One of the most surprising things about being published is that I get so many questions from readers about my ethics, my sense of right and wrong, my intentions in writing this story. I get asked what kind of message I was trying to put out there, what kind of example I mean to set. My answer to this: Does it matter what I think or how I feel? I could tell you all about my ethics and what I think of my story. But that isn’t my place. I wrote this story, sure, but then I gave it to you.”

    1. Farla says:
      It’s sort of cute how she thinks her story isn’t already telling us all about her ethics.
    2. Lexington says:
      oh, I get it. It’s kind of like how if I stab a puppy, but then hand the knife to you, it’s your problem now.

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