Chief Executive Alfred Deville surveyed the crowded conference room. As silence fell, he gestured to the vast image of tyrranosaurus rex on the projector. He waved one carefully manicured cloven hoof and smiled, showing pointed teeth. ‘We are finally making progress, team. Our work is beginning to pay off. Just a few millennia ago, we zapped the dinosaurs. Then, after that, we dealt with the dodo.’

The picture changed to a group of pig-tailed sailors chasing a waddling, flightless bird.‘Tasty but dim, I remember,’ said Deville, licking his lips.

Bankers in the front row downloaded the image to their iPads, snickering. Deville changed the scene again.

Planes speared through the sky over a landscape of melting glaciers and smouldering forests.‘My best idea to date,’ boasted Deville. ‘I stole it from the last dragon, who, you remember, melted the North Pole with his dying, fiery breath. Bless him.’

Deville drank in the admiration. Wait. What was this? A new acolyte frowned, puzzled. Deville leaned forward. ‘Before your time, perhaps, young Mr….’ He read the name tag out loud, ’Mr B L Zebub. Interesting name. Well Mr Zebub, I am well aware that the Pole froze over again. Dragons are not perfect, but it did not matter. Already I had my grand plan.’

He waited, timing it. ‘Global warming!’

The tumultuous applause died at last. ‘Air Transport,’ Deville continued, ‘is central to my plans. Every single plane emits enough CO2 to melt the glaciers in, oh, roughly a year or two, I should think.The more planes, the sooner disaster will overtake this pesky planet.’

He waved a hoof vaguely. Detail was not his strong point. He left that to his team. ‘Humans adore their flights, their holidays in the sun, their lunches in Rome. They will never give them up, no matter what their scientists advise. My work is nearly done.’

At the back of the room, unnoticed, Gerald O’Dadd sighed and stroked his long, white beard. He pulled a battered Pocket Atlas from his battered pocket. Quietly he flicked through the book, speed-reading. He stopped at a page marked Iceland.

Gerald O’Dadd thought. He scratched his head. He frowned.

At last he smiled and retrieved a pencil from behind his right ear. He scribbled a note in the margin. ‘Volcanic Eruption.”

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