by Chris Walters
Smashwords March 2011
Of course, Left is an ironic take on the Rapture. The avenging angels here are brought up to date. They are spectral robots, as faceless as de Chirico’s mannequins, but ablaze with blue light and sporting tentacles. Their method of taking people to the bosom of Christ consists in reducing them to cinders. They are attracted by prayer, but anyone in the vicinity can be a target too.
The story follows Beverly, the mother of grown up children, who, with several others of like mind, take objection to being incinerated. They would prefer to stick to the old method of going to their maker. They form a group and some of the younger men, naturally enough, decide to try and take out one or more of the angels. They lure one down with the unwitting assistance of a believer, and launch an attack with crowbars, hammers etc. The angel is not impressed and turns them all to toast, except for Beverly who flees. She is shunned by the believers she encounters after crashing a car, but fortunately a group of skeptics, heading out of town, pick her up. They stop off at a gas station and, as bad luck would have it, a fervently religious woman turns up and begins to pray. The nightmare begins all over again . . .
Left is written in first-rate narrative prose that perfectly balances description, dialogue and action. It’s a pleasure to read. My one criticism is that the story isn’t long enough.
Perhaps I felt this because Left is more than a mere satire on the already absurd notion of the Rapture. More interesting ideas are touched on. For instance, Beverly reminisces about visiting her daughter, Trish, who has been "saved" –
But everything that happened during those visits——the introduction to a friend, the church services, the dinner at a neighbor’’s house, the tickets to the symphony in St. Louis for her and Trish and Trish’’s friend from choir——seemed staged, as if they were all scenes strung together to tell a story called The Salvation of Beverly. Nothing explicit was ever said, but the invitation was always there, an invisible Jesus at her side
In other words, religious devotion has debased and lessened Trish’s love for her mother and turned their relationship into a mere exercise in trying to convert her. A whole novel could be written about that.