Short Story: The Evangelist

sustainability-1190327_1280“Come in, come in…so you’re the new assistant? Welcome to the Climate Change and Ecological Sustainability Department! Bit of a mouthful I know but we think it’s important people know exactly what we do and understand we mean business. Please…take a seat. Oh, sorry about that. Just put the plastic bags on the floor. You’d think they’d be able to make disposable nappies less bulky these days, wouldn’t you? Still, they’re so handy… when I think about how they washed and re-used all those cloth nappies years ago… we’re pretty lucky nowadays aren’t we?”

What? You haven’t got any children of your own?

Well, I suppose that’s one way of looking at it but I’m a bit of a sceptic about doom and gloom predictions of people having too many children and using up all the world’s resources. Besides, I’m bringing up my five kids to be eco-warriors… like my Honeyblossom Petal when she told me she’d just joined one of those online forums to save the endangered New Zealand Hopping Cockroach…nearly 2000 Likes already on Facebook! And I’m damn proud she’s more interested in causes like Teens Against Methane instead of that Myly Whatshername or Justin Bibby­–hey, guess what she said in the car on the way to school the other day? If we fed cows garlic tablets, we’d cut methane emissions by 20% which would have the net effect of slowing down global warming by a stunning 0.002% over the next decade! Amazing kid isn’t she—what’s that?

Well, I suppose she could walk but you hear stories these days about kids getting abducted only a block away from home so I’d rather be on the safe side and it’s far too dangerous for the kids to ride their bikes on the road with all the cars, so the wife takes three of them in the SUV and I take the older two to school and pick them up at 4.00–

No, the University doesn’t mind  me leaving early. That’s the best thing about working in a family-friendly workplace. Besides, I have a great assistant who’s happy to stay later and take any messages. Now…what was I saying? Yeah, I like to think I’m a pretty good influence on my kids when it comes to caring for the environment. I’m proud to tell my kids I’m a climate warrior. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say I’m an evangelist. Well, it’s the greatest moral challenge of our generation, isn’t it?

What? Really? Are you one of those? I don’t think I’ve ever met a denier in the flesh! Ah, only a sceptic. Well, it’s a slippery slope… anyway, now you’ve started work here, I’m looking forward to converting you! Now – about that test. We’re getting everyone in the department to do it. It’s a simple matter of logging on and answering some questions about your carbon footprint.

What sort of questions? They’re pretty innocuous like how much rubbish your household generates, how many cars you have and how many kilometres you drive each day—

Oh, you ride a bike? Well, I suppose you can if you don’t have kids. Kids need to be ferried to school, to sports practice, to music lessons and play dates—anyway, the point of the exercise is to make us think what we might be able to do to lessen our ecological impact. Did I mention I’m doing a paper at the sustainability conference in Albania later this month? Three weeks later, there’s another one in California. About seven of us from the department are attending. We’re planning to hire some cars when we get there and take a trip to Las Vegas after the conference–

No, the University’s paying and none of us mind sacrificing our time. It’s all in a good cause isn’t it? Like saving the world for our children–

Oh, you have to go? Shopping? Love your bag. Sustainable sea-grass if I’m not mistaken? I’ve got about six of them at home. Where are you going shopping?

The farmers’ market? Isn’t that pretty expensive? I couldn’t afford to feed five kids if I shopped there. Sometimes it’s just easier to take them all to McDonalds–

Yes, it’s been great meeting you too. Before you go, would you mind photocopying my paper for the conference? I’ll probably need about three hundred copies… use the recycled paper of course—Hey! What the…?

Tuesday, 23 August

The police department is asking for the public’s assistance to locate a missing man.

Mr Matthew Pleasant was last seen at about 4:30pm on Monday in his office. He informed colleagues he was meeting a new staff member after which he planned to head home.

Mr Pleasant lives in Natureville and is married with five children.

Friday, 26 August

Police believe they have identified missing man, Mr Matthew Pleasant, whose dismembered remains were found in organic waste disposal bins at the University earlier this week.

Detective Superintendent Gumb confirmed the man’s body was decapitated, with arms and legs removed from the torso. The man’s tongue and testicles have yet to be located.

“We are hopeful we might be able to locate the killer via the means of disposal of the body. The killer was meticulous and placed Mr Pleasant’s body parts in special eco-friendly rubbish bags designed to bio-assimilate in the open environment similar to the decomposition of a leaf. The technology used is new and relatively rare.”

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to contact the police on 000 555 000.

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