The Best of Both Worlds by David Macfie
I looked out of the window and thought of Snoopy from the Peanuts cartoon. When he decided to be an author, he started his story “It was a dark and stormy night…” and he was spot on. It really was one of those nights. The rain lashed the windows and the wind howled over the roof and rattled the branches of the gesticulating trees. I heard a sharp crack and a large branch gave up the struggle and plunged to the ground, mashing my hydrangeas and flattening the flowering annuals in the flower bed across my lawn.
“Stupid weather, leave my garden alone.” I screamed. “I worked bloody hard on it. Just go somewhere else. Mess up some other garden, why don’t you?”
Of course, there was no reaction. Or perhaps there was. The storm got worse with thunder shaking the house to its foundations and lightning flashing across the sky. Suddenly a huge lightening bolt hit the middle of the broken branch that stretched over the small lawn between the house and the flower bed. I was blind and deaf and stunned for several minutes. It took a while to come back from the shock. When I regained my vision, I got a second shock. The branch had been tidily cut up into firewood and stacked next to my barbecue. There was no damage to the lawn. I must admit that I goggled at the sight. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I stood like a complete idiot trying to process what was in plain sight. I nearly died of a heart attack when a quiet voice spoke behind me.
“Thought I’d tidy up a bit. Sorry about letting the branch damage your garden, but I think I fixed it.”
As my head whiplashed round, I caught a fleeting glimpse of the completely pristine hydrangeas and a bed of flowering annuals without a trace of damage.
Shock followed shock. Behind me stood a completely unbelievable figure. He was extremely tall and powerfully built, with blue skin and snow-white hair. He was wearing a toga-like white robe. He had a long flowing white beard and he held a large, heavy, black trident, with the butt on the ground and the points aimed vertically. He had a gold coronet over the mass of white locks. I was nonplussed. He politely gave me time to recover. In several moments, I managed to stammer my first few idiotic words.
“Who are you and what are you doing in my garden?” I was internally cringing at my sluggish mind, while the words popped out like they had a mind of their own. How stupid to come out with such mundane words at a time like this. Obviously, the guy was some sort of crazy man dressed up like a Hollywood character in a Roman God epic. But, his resemblance to my mental picture of Neptune was pretty good. My mind was starting to work again but the guy humored me.
“You are joking with me, of course. You know who I am but not why I’m in your garden. Am I right?”
“You look like Neptune but he’s a mythical character, so I think you’re some sort of lunatic,” I stammered, off guard again.
“I assure you I’m not a myth. As evidence, I offer the branch into firewood trick and the repairs to your garden. These are not things that could be done by a myth, or a lunatic, for that matter. I am Neptune and I have been watching you for many years, Dougal Macpherson.”
“If you’re really Neptune, why on earth would you be watching me?” I asked, genuinely puzzled.
“Because you’re quite an interesting person,” he replied, seriously. “Let me give a few examples. You were into nature and conservation at a very early age, like two and a half. Always helping injured creatures and tidying up litter. As you got older
You took on causes like “Save the Whales” and “Stop Killing the Planet”. Unlike most people that embrace such stuff, you weren’t just about the emotional side of these causes, you also made it your business to become expert in the topics you championed. This is unusual and it made me notice what you were up to and more important, what makes you tick – you understand, at a visceral level, that man really is killing the planet. You also have studied all aspects of the earth from books and research and with extensive field work as close to your object of study as possible.
I was impressed by all that and so I decided to come to talk with you. I’d like us to work together to save the planet. What do you say?”
“What exactly would be involved?” I asked, playing for time to get my brain back on track. The idea appealed to me because I feel strongly about my causes and deeply want them to work. I want the planet to be saved, but I must admit I was at a loss to understand what I could do that he couldn’t. Provided he really was Neptune, of course, and not just some wild figment of my imagination. He was watching me closely, waiting to reply, but understanding that I wasn’t quite ready yet. Eventually, I looked back at him to show that my mind was focused.
“I see you still doubt that I am who I say I am. So, I will prove it to you before I explain our joint activity. I am going to give you a gift. Please come closer to me.”
A little tentatively, I came towards him. He slowly tilted the great trident until it touched me ever so gently on my head. For a moment I felt dizzy and disoriented and my eyes lost focus. Then I had the most amazing feeling of euphoria. Finally, power flowed all through my body and mind. I felt my body expand everywhere. My new muscles split my clothes, until they literally fell right off. I stood there, naked as the day I was born, and felt invincible.
“That went rather well,” smiled Neptune. “Now for a little experiment. I want you to imagine you are a bird – the one you would most like to be. Go ahead but imagine as hard as you can.”
I did as I was bid and, quickly I was transformed into a large Golden Eagle.
“Now fly into the storm,” said the sea God.
I leapt into the air and flapped my new wings. I soared into the lashing rain and battled the wind. It was the most exhilarating thing I had ever done. I enthusiastically played for a while then reluctantly returned to my garden.
“You will also be able to transform into any animal you choose or any fish. You should obviously take off your clothes first or you will destroy your whole wardrobe quite quickly. Now I think you will believe that I am really Neptune. Not so?”
“Yes, I believe you now. So, what next?”
“The reason for the gift is that you must be able, not only to observe the aspects of the planet, but to live them first hand. If you want to save the whales, you must experience being a whale. In the same way for the rhinos or the elephants or the dolphins or the frogs or the eagles. You can also transform into insects if you want to, like bees, for example. Only then will you be able to speak with true authority. Now, you were wondering what you could do that I can’t.”
“How the hell do you know that?” I spluttered, indignantly. “Can you read my mind as well?”
“Yes, of course. I’m a God. That sort of thing comes with the territory. Now, getting back to your question. The answer to that is in the reaction you had when I first appeared. You were dubious. You thought I was some sort of lunatic. Most people would react the same way if I appeared and tried to talk. You, on the other hand are already credible. Your work is well known. You have already spoken around the world and your causes have attracted a lot of followers. But, so far, just not enough. We need to reach everybody, if we can. So, there is one other part to the gift. I have enabled your mind to interface directly to your laptops and your cameras. What you see and hear will be directly captured on those devices. You will even be able to live stream onto the internet. In that way your audiences will be able to share, first hand, the lives of the creatures you are trying to save. That is what you can now do that I cannot. It will be a, hitherto impossible, up close and personal experience that will be impossible to ignore. We must get to the decision makers and the people who have the money and we must build an upswell of universal pressure onto those people that they cannot resist. They must be forced by the weight of support for the “Save the planet” cause to do the right things in all aspects of the solution. This is the only way humanity and the earth will survive.”
I had been holding my breath at the enormity of the possibilities. My mind raced, already conceptualizing campaigns using documentaries and live streaming to hand held devices. If I did it right the whole thing would go viral in no time. He was right. This would be the most compelling message ever to hit the world. I felt energized and raring to start. Neptune’s face broke into a broad grin.
“Ah. I hear that you have grasped the concept and its vast potential. Your thoughts are loud and almost triumphant. I gather you are keen on the idea.”
“Are you kidding? I can’t wait to get started.”
“Good. I will visit you regularly to talk and recap and feedback to you as well. We will make a great team. In the background I will do what I can to enhance all the initiatives so that they achieve the best and fastest results. For you, your powers will give you the best of both worlds – the human world and the planetary world and the project will save the planet.”
He disappeared and left me to plan many tomorrows for me and my new responsibility – the planet earth.