Picture this: You are strolling down a country road by yourself on a warm summer day when seemingly out of nowhere, a handsome young adult male appears before you.

Visualize him however you want, i.e. low, flowing hair, muscular body, whatever. He appears to you as an ideal 20something specimen — and he is stark naked, with the only adornment on his body being a simple gold band on his right index finger.

“Hello,” he says to you. “I’ve been spending some time in your dimension.”

You think you are being cute when you reply: “Haven’t we all?”

He laughs. “Good comeback. But I’m not from this dimension,” he explains.

“Well, I hope you enjoy your visit,” you respond, thinking it might be best to put some distance between him and you. “I have to get going. People are expecting me . . .”

He smiles and nods. “I understand how weird this must seem to you. But I would like to give you something before we part, something that will change your world.”

You ask: “Change it how?”

“Well,” he says. “There are myriad problems here. You could make it perfect, in every respect. And everyone would have rejuvenated bodies that never shows signs of aging and would heal themselves from all wounds instantly. It would be a paradise.”

You think you’re getting a clearer picture now. “Are you a Jehovah’s Witness, by chance?”

“What’s that,” he asks.

You reply: “A religious cult. Are you preaching about God, trying to gain converts?”

“What’s God,” he asks, innocently.

“The supposed creator of the universe and everything in it.”

“Huh,” he says. “Never heard of such a creator.”

You’re suddenly very curious about this fellow, because you have never come across anybody who hasn’t heard of God. You decide to humour him, because he seems harmless and quite likeable. “So, what do people believe in your dimension about their origins?”

“We’ve always existed,” he replies. “There was a time when our bodies aged, and we shed them and took on new bodies. But now our bodies last for as long as we want them. They never wear out.”

“So you believe in reincarnation?”

He replies: “What does that word mean?”

“When a person dies, their spirit leaves the body and after a period of time in-between worlds, it returns in the body of an infant, and grows to adulthood with no recollection of previous lives.”

He asks: “What does ‘die’ mean?”

“It comes from the word ‘death’,” you tell him. “Everything that lives in this world eventually passes away and disintegrates, and it’s debatable if there is anything inside our bodies that carries on.”

He smiles. “Of course there is. In our world, back in the time when our bodies aged to the point of not being fully functional, we would just go to a centre where we could transfer into a new one. We were fully conscious of the whole process. Now, our bodies are perfected, and we never have to trade them in. We can modify them to appear any way we want.”

You ask: “What about births in your world? You must have a huge population if nobody ever dies.”

“Births? What does that mean?”

You ask: “To reproduce, have babies. Don’t women reproduce there?”

“No. Our population numbers never change.”

Your mind is boggled, and you’re thinking that you really must be on your way. “Well, it has been nice chatting with you. But I gotta get going.”

“Wait,” he says. “I haven’t given you the gift yet.”

You respond: “You’re not carrying anything.”

He holds up his hand, snaps his fingers, and a ring like the one he is wearing appears in the palm of his hand. “Here,” he says, offering it to you.

“How did you do that,” you ask. “It’s as if you pulled it out of thin air.”

“Exactly,” he replies. “It was made from the elements of air, and by wearing it, you can do the same. You can make anything you want by just thinking it — you don’t even have to snap your fingers. I just did that for effect. And the first thing that would happen when you put on the ring is it would create paradise on the planet for every living being.”

You’re thinking Lord of the Rings at this point. “You wouldn’t happen to know Bilbo and Frodo, by any chance,” you joke.

He gives you a quizzical look.

You ask him: “If the ring can do so much, why don’t you change the world?”

He shakes his head. “It’s not my place to do it. It’s not my world.”

“Well, I suppose I could take the ring, and try changing a few things just to see how it works,” you say, humouring him.

He shakes his head again: “It doesn’t work like that. It’s all or nothing. When you put on the ring, everything changes in the twinkling of an eye.”

“What exactly would change,” you ask him.

“The planet would be cleaned up and made pristine. Everybody would be made young and healthy again and they would never fall ill and would instantly recover from any injuries they suffer. People would live forever in the same bodies, though they could simply modify them any way they choose. Everyone would have a ring like yours, and with it could produce food, drink, housing, you name it by simply thinking it. They would never lose their ring, for it would never come off their finger.”

You shake your head. “This is a warring planet. People who thrive on power would misuse the rings to hurt each other . . .”

The stranger smiles and shakes his head. “It’s not possible. The rings would not let anyone harm another life. And when you put the ring on and it cleans up the world, every weapon on this planet will disintegrate, as will money and the economic system here that leaves so many hungry. Anything that harms life on this planet will disappear. None of it will exist any longer. Everybody will have everything they need, and there will be very little work to be done because the rings will take care of it all. As for travel, just think of where you want to be . . .”

“And say ‘make it so’?” You’re thinking of Star Trek.

He smiles and nods.

You ask: “Would everybody be naked like you?”

He nods. “Yes. Because it would always be warm, and there would be no need for clothes.”

You grin. “OK, who sent you? Is somebody filming this for a TV show?”

“Nobody sent me,” he says, very seriously.

You ask: “So, why me? Why give me the power to change the world in such a dramatic fashion?”

“Why not? You are a good person, I can tell. You’ve taken the time to talk to me. Many people here would not have been so kind.”

You ask: “But it would create chaos, wouldn’t it? How would people know what’s happened?”

“Fear not. The new ring on their finger would answer all their questions.”

You ask: “And would they know it was me who made it all happen?”

The stranger nodded. “Yes, they would.”

“Could they change it back?”

He shakes his head. “No. The world would be made a paradise forever, and the rings would only be used to supply people with what they need, including your ring. Nobody would be able to corrupt the perfect world afterward. The rings can only be used for good.”

You say: “I’m not sure I have the authority to do something like this. Some people might say that the world as we know it right now is meant to be this way, that all things are unfolding as they should. Some might accuse me of trying to play God.”

He shakes his head again: “If there were such a God, do you think it would let so many people suffer?”

“Well, I was never a firm believer in God, anyway.”

He smiles. “So then, take my gift. Put it on and change the world.”

You take the ring from his hand, and poof! He disappears right before your eyes without as much as a “goodbye and good luck.”

And now you are pretty convinced everything he told you is true.

You are holding the ring in your hand. Do you put it on your finger and change the world into a paradise?

— Jillian

Photo: Earth. Source: NASA