Trekking through the jungle of my remote copywriting island isn’t easy when you’ve lost an arm, so you’re struggling to keep up with me.
We wade through streams.
We climb up vines.
We hop over rocks.
I climb up a waterfall ahead of you, then reach down an arm to hoist you up.
“Here! Grab on.”
With your right hand, you clasp my arm and I begin hauling you up.
Suddenly, upstream from us, you see a GIANT fin slicing through the water at frightening speed … straight towards you.
I turn around and spot it.
“Oh, no!” I scream. “One of the native giga-sharks!”
With my spare arm, I reach for my Compendium shotgun, but it’s too late.
The giga-shark comes flying out of the water, its jaws open, aimed right at you. And for a moment you get a glimpse of the thing.
It’s … enormous.
So far you’ve seen lions, gorillas and toucans that were all bigger than you expected … but this … is just awful. It’s a full sixty feet long, and it looks like it could swallow both of us in a single gulp.
Because I’m on top of the waterfall, I manage to roll out of its line of motion … but you, dangling from the waterfall from my arm, can’t do that.
You hold out your left arm in a futile last show of defence as the shark barrels through the air at you—
The shark’s jaws bite down on … nothing?
For a split second, you lock eyes with the shark as it flies over the edge of the waterfall.
It almost looks confused at why it didn’t manage to grab anything …
… as you smirk and wave your amputated left arm.
Which, naturally, offered nothing for the shark to grab.
The shark gives you what you swear is a death stare, and then—
With my free arm, I’ve now managed to pull out my shotgun, and I give it a blast from behind.
The giga-shark sails off the side of the waterfall … and plummets down into the rocks below.
With one final pull, I haul you up, and we both collapse onto the rocks beside the top of the waterfall.
And then … I stand up and dust myself off, point behind you, and say:
You turn around …
… to find a large wooden shack, sitting in the middle of a clearing on the top of the mountain.
Emblazoned on the doors are the words:
“The Council of Copywriters”
We push open the doors …
… to reveal a dozen or so figures sitting around a large boardroom table.
They all look up at you simultaneously.
You see their faces … and gasp.
“Is that …”
“Welcome to my personal Council of Copywriters … the copywriters past and present who’ve had the most influence on me.”
Your eyes run around the table.
You recognise most of the people there.
There are several who you thought were dead:
David Ogilvy. Claude Hopkins. Gary Halbert. John Caples. Gene Schwartz.
Others you recognise as still living:
John Carlton. Ben Settle. Gary Bencivenga.
And there are a few more you don’t immediately recognise.
For a moment, they all stare at you in silence.
Then John Carlton breaks the tension:
“One arm, eh? Reminds me of a great headline I once wrote about a one-legged golfer—”
At this boast, several of the other copywriters let out annoyed grumbles.
“Oh, zip it, Carlton!” snaps Ben Settle. “We’ve all heard it enough.”
“At sixty miles an hour the loudest noise in this room is your ego, old boy,” adds Ogilvy, with a puff of his pipe.
“Most ripped off and respected copywriter alive?” says Caples. “You’re just lucky I’m dead!”
“YOU?” scoffs Hopkins. “I literally wrote the book on this industry! If you want to go a few rounds to settle this like I did with Ogilvy, just say the word …”
(At the banter, John Carlton winks and nudges Gary Halbert in the ribs with his elbow. They exchange a snigger.)
Yes … because of you, the greatest copywriters of the last 100 years have all started bickering between themselves.
I clear my throat and shout for attention:
A hush falls over the room.
Once everyone is still, I gesture towards you. “Our … friend here has a request to make.”
Everyone turns to look at you.
Your blood runs cold. You weren’t expecting this.
You clear your throat:
“I … uh … was wondering why all of these people are men? Why isn’t your list of influences more diverse?”
The room lets out a groan.
Gary Halbert rolls his eyes.
Ben Settle scowls.
And then —
“Do I LOOK like a man to you?” huffs Joanna Wiebe from the back of the room.
And then she adds:
“Although … I agree. A very disappointing lack of diversity,” she says, folding her arms. “The real me would never approve of something like this.”
“Ah, but this is my council, and it’s a very woke-free zone,” I add with a smile. “I simply pick who I want to pick. Now … spit it out. Your request.”
Everyone looks back at you.
You mumble your petition:
“Um … I was wondering … can you guys fix my arm?”
The council erupts into fierce debate.
“I say no. The missing arm adds character!” shouts Ogilvy, banging the table. “My best ad had a man missing an eye, for goodness’ sake!”
“Well, I vote we fix it. I’d have struggled to write much with only one arm,” chuckles Gary Bencivenga.
“No way! There’s enough of these goo-roo fanboys chasing quick fixes in this industry already,” snarls Ben Settle. “If this blue-light special is too stupid to look out for some giant shark, I say let ‘em suffer the consequences!”
“Gentlemen, we clearly need to put a time limit on this debate,” says Gene Schwartz, pulling out a timer and setting it for 33:33.
Finally, the council decides to put it to a vote …
… and the motion to save your left arm narrowly passes.
With a sigh of relief, I pull out a remote from my pocket, labelled:
“Normally I can do whatever I want in these stories,” I explain. “But for exceptional cases like this, I need to run things past the council before I do anything rash … don’t want to get in trouble with the FTC for any miracle cures, after all.”
I press a button on the Narrator Power remote …
… and your left arm immediately appears back in place.
“Well,” I say, turning to face the council, “thank you all for your help. That’s what we came here for. We’d best be off before it gets dark—”
Gene Schwartz interrupts me.
“Actually … as the council, we have a message for you, Daniel.”
“For me?” I say, stunned.
So does the rest of the council behind him.
He keeps talking to me, but he points to you.
“This person here, Daniel … I foresee them being important for your business. Very important. They could have the potential to do some huge things for you.”
I frown and gesture towards you.
“This one? But over the last few days I’ve seen this person nearly get killed by giant lions, time travel, futuristic gorillas, river sharks, and—”
“Irrelevant!” says Schwartz. “Trust me. As the council, we’re telling you … there is a strong chance this person could be the One.”
He turns to you now.
“In your inbox is one final email from Daniel. To fulfil your destiny, you need to read it. And if you are indeed the Chosen One of our prophecy … you’ll know what to do.”
And with that, the council bids us both goodbye, and gets back to arguing about which of them should be the greatest.
As we trudge back to the lab — amidst some typically creepy noises from the forest jungle — I shake my head.
“Well, I think I have an idea what they were talking about,” I say. “But whether you can do it … well, it’s up to you.”
We arrive at the lab and I open the door.
“Either way, this is the last time I’ll be seeing you in this parallel world … for now. You’re officially at the end of my welcome funnel, and you’re going to start getting my ‘live’ emails. Whether or not you hang around is up to you. Frankly, it doesn’t bother me whatever you choose … you’re free to go at any time, and you know the fate waiting for you if you leave. But if you stick around … it should be fun.”
And with that, I retreat into my office, and close the door.
You look down at your phone.
One last email?
A special mission?
What could it be?