Afterland: Chapters 24-25

[Content Note: Transphobia, Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), Rape]

Okay. Deep breath. Is this still helping anyone? I'm doing a good by continuing? I like to check in.

AFTERLAND. Chapter 24.

"24. Cole: Shotgun Sally"

Cole teaches Miles to drive because it's not like they're in a hurry to get where they're going, and a little old lady materializes out of nowhere to invite them to dinner for no reason. The narrative is *still* misgendering Miles constantly. We come to the second, and last, mention of the word "lesbian" in this novel when the Little Old Lady has to clarify that when she says a neighbor "family" comes over on Tuesdays, she means a LESBIAN couple, because I guess the concept of a family without men confuses.

The Little Old Lady sets out christmas crackers for the occasion, and can you even get those in America? She roasted a chicken and wasn't counting on every bite for herself, so again this is a very cozy apocalypse. It's all very nice but also a trap: the Little Old Lady locks them in and menaces them with a shotgun because she doesn't want them to leave. Cole instantly and easily disarms her and they're off again, only briefly inconvenienced. End of chapter.

I guess we'll do another chapter, since the last one was so very short and so very pointless.

AFTERLAND. Chapter 25.

"25. Miles: Indecent Proposal"

We're still "a week ago" and we're going to continue to dwell on the unnecessary homophobic slur! FUN. Miles is upset by it. I wonder where this is all going; is Miles gay? I'm sure that will be handled with all the care the subject deserves.

[CSA] Billie gives Miles a cigarette and tells him she wants to take him away from all this to a better life, but he just has to promise not to tell Cole, etc. and it's all very "grooming a child for abuse". Miles guesses she wants his sperm. Miles says he knows the future of the species requires babies and Billie says that, no, this is about "freedom of choice" and pontificates on reproductive freedom. That is now 3 times the villains have invoked repro rights, and 0 times for the heroes.

“It’s the future of the species, I know, I know.” All those animated videos. He’s still flushed. “No. Listen to me. It’s about the freedom of choice. It’s about the right to life. It’s the most basic and most fundamental human right, to have children, and these people, these governments of ours, are trying to control it, they’re trying to control us. Does that sound fair to you? Does that sound right?”

Is this author anti-choice? Does anyone know? Because it is seriously weird for characters who want to sexually abuse a child to *continually* keep talking about pro-choice rhetoric in ways that don't fit the situation and actually confuse their audience. [CSA] I... I don't know that I can finish this book. The narrative is focusing on Miles having an erection and it's... really gross in the context of everything going on. Like, I am actively very upset by this. Mind the trigger warning if you read the image.

He shouldn’t have said anything. He’s mortified. Why did she ask him that? About sex and jerking off and sperm. It’s so disgusting. And a little exciting too. Wasn’t it? Nope. Nope. Nope. That’s just his dumb brain and his dumb body responding and it could have been a zombie with half its head missing and brains oozing out, talking to him about jerking off, and his penis would have responded like an idiot puppy. He folds his legs, aggressively squeezing them together, trying to quash…the reaction. Just the word “penis” makes the blood go rushing in, like, didya mention my name? Didya call me? I’m here! Pat me. This sucks so much. The word “suck.” Stop it. Just stop it. Think of whales dying. Dad. He remembers what Jonas said at Lewis-McChord. A snag of overheard conversation in the gym, a joke about milkmen and milk boys. His face burns. Dad, I wish you were here. It’s wrong to have a semi while Mom and Billie are fighting in the bathroom. It’s gross, disgusting.

I'm just going to finish the chapter out as quickly as I can. ...Cole and Billie fight, breaking glass furniture. Billie leaves and Cole gives Miles hot chocolate to calm him down, but the cocoa is drugged. Chapter ends and that's why Miles was drugged in Chapter 1. There was no reason to drug Miles when he was okay with the escape plan, except I guess Cole's attack on Billie was premeditated and she didn't want Miles to see that. But drugging him is rich after Cole's speech on the importance of his bodily autonomy and consent.

Actually, no, Kissmate remembers--and we checked--that Chapter 1 has Cole saying BILLIE drugged Miles. But that doesn't make any sense with this chapter? Billie began making the hot chocolate to calm everyone down, then left the room when Cole rejected the cocoa and told her to leave. So she left drugs in the cup or cups, and Cole finished making the cocoa without noticing? Then, I guess, Cole noticed Miles drooping asleep and was too suspicious to drink her own glass? Or her glass wasn't drugged? I don't know. I find I don't care.

[CSA] What, really, is the point of this book? I'm three chapters away from the "interlude" and subsequent "part 2", and it's just non-stop misgendering, transphobia and bioessentilism, and sexually abusing minors while dwelling on their erections. I'm disgusted. I'm utterly, completely, totally appalled that someone would write a child being sexually abused by his aunt and then follow that scene up with the child being aroused by the experience. What a fucking choice.

[Rape] And, yes, some rape victims do experience arousal (and shame) during our rapes. Full disclosure that I was one of them. I don't find this lingering lurid literary depiction to be *RESPECTFUL* of that. It's exploitative. I'm going to do 3 more chapters of this book, but it's the 3 chapters that I know deal with trans stuff. And then that's it; I'm done.


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