A chilly wind swirled around Jacopo d’Arrigo as he stood on the balcony of his Luthernburg hotel room, overlooking the steep canyon slope below. This room was certainly not for those afraid of heights. Since d’Arrigo had flown countless times with a hang-glider, and had recently “commandeered” a hot air balloon in Kuthernburg, he certainly did not fit that mold. It was Sunday morning, very early, and very cold. d’Arrigo had arrived before most of the other guests for the international conference, because he wanted to meet with the Global Furnifold Commodities Market. It was also the perfect opportunity to give a speech to the employees at Manleh Cousins, and collect a large compensation sum along the way. ‘Killing two Chonvors with one stone,’ as one might say. The ethics behind this was hazy at best, but d’Arrigo communicated that no official from Manleh Cousins was to talk with him about anything policy-related. He did get a gift basket for speaking, and in it was a note outlining some policies Manleh Cousins wanted to be focused on. But, he wasn’t talked to, and therefore, everything was completely ethical…
d’Arrigo had gone stir crazy. Before stepping out onto the balcony, he had unlocked his phone to see if he had received any text messages from Queen Lilith. Not seeing the flash of a bright pink new message indicator (how did she get her text messages to appear like that in his phone, anyways?) the Magistrate locked it, fixed himself a drink, and then had stepped outside, contemplating. He had texted the Queen that he brought along his hang-gliding chute and gear, and was going to take her hang-gliding at the conclusion of the conference. This was what he was most looking forward to, as the conference itself would likely result in he being told by other nations’ leaders that Furnifold needs to agree to some environmental standards or another that would raise the price of doing business in Furnifold. While in theory having environmental standards is a good idea, I really don’t think our nation has the resources to meet them without businesses shutting down under the burden of regulations. The Chancellor is going to laugh in my face when I tell her what the proposals coming out of this conference are likely to be, he thought. But, the theory is solid, and I am here to sell it to my people.
Why would I be here if I didn’t believe in the cause?
He turned around and walked back into his room, the cold finally overwhelming him. It was almost always 30 degrees Celsius in Furnifold, except in the mountainous or the arid areas, so this cold weather was really getting to the man. When d’Arrigo walked in, he realized he hadn’t used a hang-glider in years. To him, it may have been like riding a bike, but he was trying to impress (and not kill) the Queen Lilith, so a refresher was likely in order. Still seeing that the Queen had not responded, he thought of a fun idea to put his phone to good use. He remembered that a famous businessman from Absurdistan, Buzzy Bergmann, always live-streamed what he was doing with his followers. The Magistrate was not a follower, but he stumbled upon a live-stream of Buzzy eating cereal, and saw that close to one million people were watching him eat cereal. That was incredible enough to him to prompt him to sign up for the MyLyfe suite of products (Chirper, Quikpik, etc.), and decided to live-stream some goings-on in Furnifold. He only had a few hundred followers, because nobody cared about the Magistrate’s meetings or chatting with other Furnifolds. Some of the selfies he took got shared among the nation’s followers, but there really wasn’t any entertainment value in watching the Magistrate. So, Jacopo figured why not give the people some entertainment…
He grabbed his hang-gliding gear, replaced the long-range camera wedged on his stick with his phone, and made sure everything in his gear looked good enough to glide. Donning the cold-suit, he returned to the balcony and got on the rail. He grabbed and unfurled the large glider, and secured himself with a cable on the rail so as not to fall off prematurely. Luckily the balcony was huge at this five-star resort, and the Magistrate’s hang-glider was comfortably able to be fully unfurled without problem. He got off the rail, realizing that he would need a running start. But first, he needed to live-stream.
The Magistrate opened his phone, hit the live-stream app, and pressed the record button. He would probably not be getting any viewers at first, except maybe Jackson Woolf, until people started to notice that the Magistrate was not in his usual recording place (his office or some chamber or another). He waited a second, realized he was on, mumbled something about the dang-blasted phone working, then started to speak into it.
“Good evening everyone in Furnifold, I am here in Luthernburg, Kuthernburg, and it is just a hair past five am. I am meeting with other world leaders this week to discuss some environmental policies that I believe will help make Furnifold people healthier, stronger, and will set up our economy for the long-term. But first, I share with you something I have always loved, hang-gliding. I wanted to take you along this journey with me.” d’Arrigo moved the stick holding the phone so that the people could get a panoramic shot of the balcony, overlooking the canyon below. He returned the camera to his face. “As you can see, I am staying at a resort overlooking a huge canyon, and it is very cold here. But, when I flew among the Chonvor, it was also very cold, and also very dangerous. This is too. I don’t know what is at the end of this canyon, hopefully it’s something flat.” d’Arrigo smiled ruefully. “I’m going to be a bit of a daredevil; my security team will likely try to barge their way into my hotel room soon, and Jackson Woolf, my Foreign Minister, will probably be calling every number imaginable to ensure my safety. Don’t worry, Jackson, I’ll be safe, I always am. I’m going to be jumping in a bit; I’ll need to take a running start with my glider, so I can clear this balcony. Let me just get everything ready…”
“While I am doing that, let me talk to you about why the environment is so important to protect. The environment is like our soul; it is eternal. Our life returns to Allah when we die, and our bodies nourish the earth, so that new life can be created to praise our God. When we are gone, the environment remains. In our text, it reads that we must care for the earth as we care for ourselves. Many times, we don’t do it. Just like we take each other for granted, we may also take the planet for granted. We, as humanity, as well as other species of Urth, have realized that how we live is not sustainable; it will not provide new life for our God. Therefore, it is imperative we take our jobs as stewards seriously; we must care for the earth so that it may continue to outlive us, to provide a bounty for our children, grandchildren, and further progeny. I will be at a conference here in Luthernburg, discussing and coming to an agreement with other world leaders on exactly how to do that.”
Finished with his preparations, he swiveled the phone to overlook the balcony. He continued, “When I glide, I want you to look out at what you see. I want you to stop what you are doing, and I want you to watch, to listen, and to contemplate your role in nature. You’ll see the rush of land as I fly through the canyon, and the expanse of land as the stone walls envelop me below and to my right and left. Life has been bountiful on this Urth, and we as a sentient set of species have the responsibility to ensure that life remains on this Urth. We just need to understand our place on Urth. I think this exercise will help me, and I sure hope, by Allah, it helps you.”
Finished with his soliloquy, d’Arrigo turned the phone around, unhooked the cable on the rail, stepped as far back as he could without messing up the glider’s angle, and ran. He ran until he reached the railing, inhaled quickly, and jumped, gripping the hang-glider tight. The cold air whistled around him as he flew, the walls of the canyon coming into focus and quickly swallowing his glider. He glided and turned his phone around, recording the journey for his followers of Furnifold, and possibly Urth, to see.