Six tons of ivory were crushed to dust at the National Wildlife Property Repository north of Denver, in a place called Commerce City. My mother lives in a nursing home there. When she woke up that morning, she had no idea that so much ivory would be destroyed, so close by. She blindly reached into her little jewelry box and took out her ivory earrings.
Crushed to dust. A movie star talked about baby elephants, how they need their mothers. A politician talked about how the profits from the illegal ivory trade go to arm terrorists. There are grotesque pictures on TV of dead elephants in pools of blood, heads partially gone, skin unbelievably baggy, elephants that have been killed for their ivory. These pictures terrorize me, terrorize my children. How dare you put them on the local news? I need drugs to counteract the effect. I need alcohol.
Ten thousand elephants are killed each year. There are only 100,000 elephants left alive. In ten years elephants will be extinct. It’s simple math. Nothing can stop the killing. Humans are about killing. More people and more animals will be shot to death, will die from human greed. Nothing can stop it. It’s inevitable. We’re fucked. Climate change will kill us with floods and droughts. As we drown we’ll hear the ghosts of elephants trumpeting their last.
Meanwhile, in the midst of apocalypse, Motorola invents a tablet that dissolves in stomach acid and turns the body into a password. Out on the highway I steal a shipment from a tractor-trailer and ingest a huge quantity, which enables me to become the first human to pass through death’s doors, all ten thousand of them, simultaneously. Once in, I reconstitute myself, though certain cells have drifted off, never to be recovered, so I look a ghoul. I don’t care. I was never a celebrity who lived life in a mirror.
Sylvia had died three days earlier. She had steeled herself to fight pancreatic cancer long enough to see her daughter married. The morning after the event I hugged her goodbye, and felt the bones of the living skeleton she had become. Her fragility took my breath away. I remembered when we ran together on cold mornings under oaks hung with Spanish Moss, and lifted weights in my garage.
Sylvia walked slowly and painfully onto the balcony. The sun was glinting on the silver ocean, the most beautiful sight in the world. She drew the image into herself, collapsed, and was dead the next day.
Now my body is a password and the technologists didn’t know the potential of their craft. I catch up with Sylvia. We fly together. Ben, her deceased quadriplegic husband, joins us. We fly like a team of superheroes, over herds of elephants that stretch further than the eye can see. We fly forever, and never look back.