My first thought was that I had stumbled upon a Republican photo op. I had just concluded an interview with a rock legend staying on the seventh floor, in town for his group’s farewell tour, and as the elevator doors opened into the lobby, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Three full-grown elephants loomed over couches, lamps, side-tables and faux Persian carpets.
As I stood rooted, a few steps into the lobby, several people squeezed past me to get into the elevator, where they started wildly pushing buttons. It took a moment or two, before the reporter in me realized that, whatever was going on, this could be my story of a lifetime.
Warming to the opportunity, and noticing that the reception area was empty, I realized that I appeared to be the only reporter on the scene. I called my newsroom and asked for Jane, my go-to photographer, to come immediately. If a story ever needed pictures, clearly this was one.
I was still stuck on the notion of a Republican stunt gone bad, when it occurred to me that if this really were a staged photo shoot, its organizers would be filming it. Abruptly, my sense of the situation shifted.
Even before one of the elephants started bellowing, lowered his head, and rolled a large couch across the floor, it got through to me that I could be in real danger. On its way to crashing against a wall, the tumbling couch took out lamps and side tables. Then the trumpeting elephant, seeing another coffee table still standing, smashed it into splinters.
While the enraged elephant had its back to me, I sprinted for the glass doors. Outside, I saw that Jane had arrived and was already filming. But her camera wasn’t directed into the hotel lobby. It was pointed towards the parking lot where I had parked my car earlier that morning. I ran to where Jane stood with her camera and turned in the direction that had drawn her attention,
The scene that greeted my eyes instantly erased all thoughts of an article. I knew that anyone, who reported the events of city life, as I did, no longer had a viable occupation.
A ship, far larger than any military transport–since no helicopter or jet-propelled carrier that big could possibly get airborne—took up almost the entire parking lot. Lined up, as patiently as shoppers, hours before a Black Friday sale, stood tigers, pigs and cows; eagles, horses and lions; pigeons, rabbits and donkeys; each pair waiting their turn to ascend the ramp. And at that very moment, at the threshold of the cavernous interior of this Flying Ark, I saw two elephants, their trunks gracefully swinging back and forth with every step.
It hit me then that those elephants in the hotel lobby had not made the cut and so would not be leaving on the Ark. And then another realization forced its way into my mind. The human species would not be embarking on this life-raft, about to sail to another world.
We had had our chance to live in a beautiful world and had squandered.it. What intelligent species could possibly consider us worthy to join this journey into a new future? It was time to give the species we had been charged with protecting, their day under a different sun.