– An Eco-fable – In Fourteen Sections –
Mayor Myles stood at the window of his office on the sixth floor of the town hall and gazed at the forest. The morning sun made the tree trunks glow as if they had been gilded. The needles of the tallest evergreens in the world seemed to reach for the warming rays. With a deep sigh, the most important man in town turned away.
He shook himself out of his reverie and with a sudden resolve he tugged his desk away from the window into the middle of the room and turned it around. Now with his back to the forest, he could preside at yet another meeting of the Canadian Condo Company with fewer tugs at his conscience. There was just one more thing. He reluctantly put the school picture of his thirteen-year-old daughter into his top desk drawer. Her accusing eyes were too much for him.
In the past two decades great changes have taken place, especially in Western Canada. One of these changes is that animals have evolved to where they can talk to each other and, stranger still, to humans as well.
Near Mayor Myles’ town in the southern tip of British Columbia a giant Douglas Fir stood reaching halfway to the stars, 100 metres tall. Not too far from the top of the tree lived a raven called Midas in a fantastic mansion carved out of the massive trunk. About five years previously, he had coerced a crew of pileated woodpeckers to hollow out the space he needed. Inside he amassed a treasure of shiny things, mostly jewelry but, in fact, anything that glittered. His sole purpose in life was to add to his treasure, to gloat over it and to count the pieces over and over. He became a recluse because he did not want to share.
Even though he had nothing to do with his own kind, Midas tried to strike up a relationship with a newcomer. Although the forest was not the usual habitat of mourning doves, Munro had been living there for almost a year. He was lonely and went about lamenting among the evergreen needles and other ground debris. Midas heard his sad little cries one evening and hatched a selfish plan.
“Look,” Midas said in his hoarse voice, “ do you want to be my partner?”
Munro took a few tentative steps towards the huge shiny black bird that had swooped down and stood before him. He looked up at the gleaming eyes and sharp beak and jerked his head a couple of times.
“I said,” the raven tried again,” do you want to be my partner?”
“What would I have to do?” Munro finally found his voice.
“It’s very simple. You just liberate a few trinkets for me.” Midas strutted in a circle around the dove who began to cower a bit. “ And bring them to me. I’m semi-retired now but there’s more treasure to be had..and I want it.”
Since the dove was still hesitating, the raven said, “I’ll pay you a percentage.”
“That will depend on how well you perform.”
Munro jerked his head a few times and then agreed to the proposition. Midas flew up to a low branch with a swoosh so that Munro had to look up. Midas liked that. He liked power.
“Well?” he croaked.
“I’ll give it a try.” cooed Munro.
“I’ll have a job for you at dawn. Right now I’m going to polish my silver.”
“Oh,” replied Munro, not knowing what the raven was talking about.
The forest grew quiet except for eerie rustlings, and Munro settled down in his nest under a juniper bush, a very simple abode but cosy and warm.
He had just tucked his sleek head under his wing when he heard another swooshing sound. He thought it was his new friend coming back, but he could see nothing in the darkness. A breeze lifted his feathers and scattered pine needles around his nest. Munro put his head under his wing again and tried to sleep but the breeze suddenly grew stronger and a greenish light appeared all around the juniper. Frightened, the dove stood up and took a few steps out into the aura that surrounded him.
A huge creature sat close by with gigantic wings outspread. Its fiery eyes glowed in the green light and bored into the shivering little dove.