Months of planning and discussion finally ended and work began on the great project, a 40 x 95 foot mural entitled Paradise on Earth.
Four weeks later it was finished and the scaffolding was removed.
The mural immediately drew quite a bit of attention, and a reporter and photographer were assigned to photograph
and write a story about it. The photographer discovered to her amazement that she could not get a picture of the mural. All attempts resulted in a solid grey rectangle. Other
people came to photograph the mural and got the same result. All kinds of photographic equipment were tried, all without success. Word of this phenomenon quickly spread, and soon
it was headline news everywhere. Hordes of people came to see if their camera might capture the image, but no luck. The scientific community had no explanation, and before long the worldwide media was calling it “the miracle of the mural.” The Conductor became the most sought-after human on the planet, and had no choice except to go into hiding. He and the Colors of the Round Table suspected this was the work of Lady Chameleon, the mysterious Muse of Color, whose powers, and even her existence, were unknown outside of the Kingdom of Color. The Conductor and the Colors realized that her purpose was to draw attention to Paradise
on Earth. But they were somewhat puzzled by her strategy. Perhaps Lady Chameleon, pure spirit that she was, did not anticipate the chaos that would ensue.
People, dubbed “Paradise Pilgrims,” came from all corners of the Earth, with their cameras, to
experience the miracle for themselves. The city struggled to accommodate the thousands of curious seekers, and the mayor and the city council considered covering the mural with
tarpaulins. They even talked about destroying it. They concluded, finally, that it might be a grave mistake to disturb or alter this miraculous presence in any way. Instead they
decided to erect a tall, attractive wrought iron fence around the mural to protect it from the crazed “Pilgrims” who wanted to pry chips from it to take home. Finally
they recommended that a commission be appointed to decide how to handle the situation. It was also decided that the Conductor, who it was thought had many questions to answer,
should be the head of it. If anyone knew what was going on it should be the Conductor, they reasoned.
Although still in hiding, the Conductor was fully aware of the furor over Paradise on Earth. He knew that
cults had sprung up, each with different conclusions about the meaning of the miracle. Some believed it was a sign from God. Some believed it was a message from aliens. And there
were those who believed it was a hoax or con game using some unknown electronic cloaking device aimed at the wall. So far, however, no one had made any money except the food and
t-shirt vendors in the streets near the site. Most people did believe that it was indeed something inexplicable, and that it might very well mean that Paradise on Earth could be of great significance to humanity, which was doubtless what Lady Chameleon had in mind. In spite of the frenzy and confusion at present, perhaps in the long run Lady Chameleon’s unlikely strategy would have the desired result.
When the Conductor met with the commission, the first thing he did was declare that he had no part in the miracle.
All he had done was paint a mural, with some help, of course. He had not used any unusual paints, and the sealant was a standard brand. He thought it best not to bring up the
subject of Lady Chameleon, who was known only to the Kingdom of Color, and among the race of Conductors. He did, however, explain at some length his purpose for painting the mural,
that it was meant to save the world from the ravages of the human species. His hope had been that it would affect people in such a way that they would resolve, in a totally sincere
fashion, to change a polluted, greedy, warlike and fearful world into a world more closely resembling the paradise he had depicted. The miracle of the grey photos must be, he
thought, the work of some higher power who wanted to draw attention to the mural and its purpose.
The commission eventually decide that, whatever had caused the miraculous phenomenon, it was their duty to ensure
that the mural was protected, and make it possible for everyone who wanted to view it in person to do so. It was decided that a plaza would be installed in front of Paradise on Earth,
and an ornamental wrought iron fence would be erected on both sides of the plaza. On the side facing the mural they decided that a large auditorium-style arrangement of seats would
be the best solution. People would be admitted to sit quietly in this grandstand for thirty minutes, no more, no less, so that there would be no disturbance while people were
contemplating the mural. Also, good lighting could be installed for night viewing. The problem would be accommodating everyone who wanted to see the mural. Reservations would have
to be made well ahead. Everything would be free of charge, although pilgrims would have to pay their own travel expenses. There were many logistical problems to be worked out, and
the entire city would have to be mobilized to make it all possible.
Exactly one month after the unveiling of Paradise on Earth, Lady Chameleon lifted her spell and suddenly all
cameras were getting clear images of the mural. Reproductions appeared by the millions, and held places of honor on the walls of homes in every country. Those who could afford the
travel expenses wanted more than ever to come and see the magic mural “in person.” Philanthropic societies funded by donation sprang up to help thousands of individuals
and families make the trip. These “Paradise Pilgrims” had to be put on a long waiting list, like everyone else. The viewing grandstand had a capacity of 1,000 viewers
every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day. But even at the rate of 48,000 viewers each day, there was a huge waiting list, always growing larger.
Movie theaters in almost every city in the world projected the image of Paradise on Earth onto their big screens and invited patrons, for about half the price of a movie ticket, to sit quietly in the theater for up to an hour, meditating on the miracle mural, and studying its colors and details. It was reported that many people were leaving the theaters with tears in their eyes. In one way or another almost everyone was exposed to Paradise on Earth.
The race of Conductors and the Kingdom of Color smiled at the realization that Lady Chameleon’s tactics and strategy were probably for the best
Those who stared at the mural with open minds were invariably moved by it. During the year following its
completion, a collective consciousness formed around the mural. It became generally accepted that Paradise on Earth was meant to give the human race a compelling motive to save the planet they called home.
Thus began the slow and difficult work of saving the planet, and eliminating the means and reasons for destruction.
The Conductor and the Colors of the Round Table, against all odds, had brought their crusade to a successful conclusion. And in the years that followed, the Kingdom of Color came
to be thought of as a new kind of holy land. The race of Conductors also was given a huge serving of respect, more than enough to satisfy the appetite of any painter.