THE ROOM
TRISTAN LOTZ

Keith stepped into the room cautiously, unsure of just where he was. It was a room; a room which had book cases full of old but dustless volumes with titles many of which he had heard of and many of which he had not. The floor looked like stained oak, and there were primitive but stylish looking electric lights on the walls and old-styled but new-looking chairs that were very welcomingand beckoned to be sat in. There were four windows, but they were made of stain glass and only light came through. There was also a door directly opposite of him on the other side of the room. He entered this room, this strange, unknown room and found a can of his favorite soda on a table next to one of the chairs. He sat down, and started drinking. Incredible! Keith thought to himself, it's ice-cold! But how could this possibly be? The lights were the only thing electric in this mysterious room . . . where am I anyway? He wondered. He stumbled into this room totally by accident, and it had not been here before—

Suddenly his train of thought was interrupted by the opening of the door on the other side of the room! Through it stepped someone he had never seen before. "Oh!" the stranger said, "I'm sorry, is this your room?"
"No," Keith said, "…is it your room?"
"No," the stranger said, "I've never seen this room before . . . never in all my life."
"What's your name?"
"My name is Hector. What is your name?"
"I'm Keith. So, if this isn't your room, and it isn't my room . . . who's is it?"
"I don't know—is that soup you're drinking?" Hector asked suddenly
"No, it's Coke! Don't you know Coke?" Keith said
"Wait—what? Isn't coke baked coal?"
"No it's soda!"
"You mean like baking soda?"
"It's a drink. Don't they drink soda where you come from?"
"No, this is more what we drink where I'm from." Hector said, motioning to a couple of tea bags, a kettle and a cup. "Green tea lightly sweetened! Where are you from, anyway?" He said, sitting down next to Keith.
"Arlington County, Virginia."
"That's where I'm from!"
"Where do you live?" Keith asked
"I live in Rosslyn."
"So do I!"
"What street do you live on, maybe we live nearby…" Keith said
"I live at 86 Colonial Terrace." Hector replied
"But . . ." Keith stuttered, "That's my address!"
"Impossible!"
"It is! Check my driver's license!"
Keith took out the card and displayed it to Hector, who's eyes widened. "Inconceivable! How could this be?!"
"Do you think," Keith began slowly, "It's something about this room?"
"What?" Hector asked, "so there's two 86 Colonial Terraces, in two Rosslyns, in two Arlington Counties, in two Virginias?"
"Maybe…"
"Who is the Premier of the America?"
"The what?"
"The Premier, you know, the leader of the Dominion of America!" Hector said impatiently
"Virginia is in the United States of America, and the President is Barack Obama."
"Barack Obama is a news anchor from Hawaii. President?"
"Premier?"
"Oh God…" Keith breathes
"What is it?" Hector asks
"I saw this in a documentary on National Geographic Channel," Keith said to Hector, "It is possible that you and I can live at the same address in the same city of the same nation, but know nothing about each other, soda, or Dominion of America or whatever because you and I are from different dimensions."
"The Many-Worlds Theory of Barnard and Stokes!" Hector exclaims, "of course! This is incredible, most truly! So Keith, what is your world like?"
"Well," Keith began, "Rosslyn has a little under ten thousand people, and we're across the river from Washington D.C.—"
"What's that?" Hector asked curiously
"Washington's the capital of the U.S. (United States), our name for America, and Barrack Obama is President, as I said before. He's the first black President we've ever had, and there was a big celebration, but a bunch of people also hate him and think he's from another country or a Muslim—"
"So what if he is a Muslim?"
"They think Muslims are terrorists who hate all Americans and all Christians."
"That's strange," Hector said, "in my world, Christians and Muslims get along fine."
"Really? Wow, 'cause right now we're at war with Muslims—"
"Did you just say war?"
"Yeah. So?"
"You mean you fight them in armed combat? With weapons, and try to kill them?
"That's what the word 'war' means in our world, so yes."
"America . . . at war? But, but, but, that is such a vile, hideous thing . . . I get sick just saying the word…"
"So they don't like war in your world?" Keith asked
"Oh heavens, no!" Hector exclaimed, "How could any civilized person think . . . that thing . . . is good? It kills innocent people, robs children of mothers or fathers or both, it destroys cities, and artifacts, and cultures, it kills the Earth, it brings nothing but misery and pain!"
"So they don't fight in your world? Ever?"
"Almost never; in my world, a man named Jesus Christ came to Earth, he was sent by God-Of-The-Universe to bring peace and love to Humanity. And in the East, a man named Gautama The Buddha taught similar messages to the people of Asia and India. After they came and left, people saw that fighting and violence is evil and wrong, and that God-Of-The-Universe wants us to live in peace and love one another.

"The Roman Empire became Christianized and stopped conquering, and when the Norseman converted, they stopped pillaging, and when the Christians of the West, and the Buddhists of the East met on the silk route, they shared their teachings. The Buddhists found the Christians strange, because they believe in a central god, while they are non-theists, and the Christians found the Buddhists strange, because they didn't believe in a central god, but their teachers said similar things, and they realized their scriptures were both heaven-sent. Did Jesus or Buddha not come to your world?"

"On no," Keith said, "Jesus and Buddha both lived in my world. But Christians fought wars against the Muslims and the Jews because they weren't Christians. The United States is fighting the Muslims because they blew up a building in New York—"
"What is 'New York'?" Hector asked
"It's the biggest city in America." Keith explained, "It's on an island called Manhattan, over near Long Island."
"Oh, in my world it's called New Amsterdam."
"Well, there was a building in my New York—your New Amsterdam—called the World Trade Center, and some Muslims took an air plane—you know what that is right?"
"Yes."
"—Well, they took two air planes, crashed them into the buildings, and crashed a third into the Pentagon, which is the headquarters of the United States Army. They tried to crash another plane into the capital building, but the passengers on the plane stopped them."

"So strange…" Hector said, "I know so many Muslims, and they are all great thinkers and scientists, and wonderful people. Why did they attack you? Where did they get the weapons?"

"The United States gave them to them in the 1980s because they were against Russia."
"Why would you be against Russia?" Hector asked, "Russia is a great and noble land with vast forests and amazing art and culture!"
"Well, after World War II—" Keith began before being interrupted by Hector
"World War? II? You have had two world wars!?"
"Yeah." Keith said nonchalantly, "World War I was fought in the 1910s because all the countries of Europe were mad at each other and some crazy dude shot the archduke of Austria. We ended up beating Germany up, and took a bunch of their land and took away their honor, and in the 1940s, a guy named Hitler took over the country and started conquering other countries and killing millions of Jews. It was America, England, and Russia against Germany, Japan and Italy. After World War II, America and Russia disagreed on how to rule the world, and something called the Cold War started."
"Cold War!?" Hector yelled, "Do your people do nothing but fight!? You've fought against the Germans, the Russians, and the Muslims!"
"We also fought the Koreans and the Vietnamese." Keith said nonchalantly once again.

"Your world sounds like a terrifying place to live…" Hector shuttered, "nothing but fighting and killing...how do you even survive long enough to have and raise children in such a place?"
"Not everywhere is at war, and there's seven billion people in my world—"
"Seven billion? Amazing! You kill so much, but you have more than double the people of my world . . . We have a population of four billion, and the last fight in Europe was the French Revolution. That was the most atrocious…war…in all history. It made even the rapes and pillages of the Vikings seem mild! The most evil man in history, Robespierre, overthrew the monarchy, and claimed to start a reasonable government that stood for the people, but instead he slaughtered thousands but guillotine! Robespierre is considered the face of evil in our world."
"Kind of like Hitler in ours!" Keith said
"Hitler, a killer?" Hector said, "Hitler was a philosopher who wrote innovative—if not controversial—books full of new ideas about society and people. I have one of his books, Diet of the Superman. It called for people to not drink, smoke, or eat meat. But he was also very cold towards the Jews in his books…"

There was a long pause, during which both Keith and Hector pondered what they had just heard of each other's worlds. Then Keith spoke this: "So . . . if there are like, no wars in your world . . . what are the countries like? What is life like without wars? What are the people like? What's the government like? What's the church like?"

"Well, there's the Dominion of America, Quebec, Canada, and Mexico and Brazil in the Americas, and in Europe there's Great Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Federation, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the Byzantine Republic. Asia has China, Russia, Japan, Tibet, India, and Persia. We all live in peace and respect each other. Jesus Christ of the West, Muhammad of the Middle East, and Gautama Buddha of the Far East's teachings are all kept at heart. The most important thing for people is get a job, get married, have kids, and enjoy life. We don't want to waste our time fighting and trying to kill each other. God-Of-The-Universe made us all, and we are all of Him, and He is in us. He wants us to live in Peace. Jesus of the West died trying to teach us Compassion, and Muhammad was persecuted for preaching against warrior gods, and Gautama Buddha was emaciated because he dedicated his life to meditation and teaching Love and Peace.

"Why would anyone civilized want to fight . . . wars . . . anyway? Like I said before, they kill innocent people, orphan children, and destroy civilizations. Human life and culture is too precious to waste on such barbarianism."

"In my world," Keith began, "the Catholic Church fought holy wars against the Muslims called the Crusades and had an organization called the inquisition to exterminate Jews from Spain."
"Holy War?" Hector said in shock. "There's nothing holy about war! It damages God-Of-The-Universe's creation! It would be like if you took a knife to the Mona Lisa! God is the Supreme Artist!"

"Hector," Keith asked, "Do they have murderers in your world?"
"We do have men who commit the act of homicide," Hector said, "and when they do, we imprison them."
"Do you have the death penalty?"
"The what?"
"Do you execute them? Do you kill them?"
"Of course not! These are such old ideas you go by! Punishment is so primitive. All we do is keep them away from society. They usually get counseling to heal their broken hearts and minds. Inflicting harm on a wrong-doer is a sick act of revenge."

"That's one hell of a world you live in." Keith remarked. "So there are no wars?"
"Sometimes, unenlightened rogue states will wage wars against each other. But even that has calmed since the International Guard was established in 1945."
"We have an organization called the United Nations that was established the same year."
"Really? Does it keep peace around the world?"
"It tries to, but it does a very poor job of it. A lot of the countries in it want to wage wars regardless."
"Only peace-loving and democratic nations are allowed in the international guard. We have soldiers who will sometimes go into rogue states and stop battles."

"Do you have sports in your world? You know, like soccer, football, basketball, baseball, rugby?"
"What's rugby?" Hector asked
"Rugby is like a cross between football and wrestling."
"Wrestling? Why would anyone do that for sport?"
"What about boxing?"
"What is boxing?"
"Boxing is where you put on thick gloves and try to knock out your opponent."
"Of course not!"
"Do you have guns?"
"Oh yes, we have guns. We use them for hunting and target shooting."
"Do people ever shoot each other with them?"
"Occasionally, but it is really hard to do so." Hector explained, "Guns aren't allowed to leave the shooting range and are only carried by hunters and occasionally troops of the International Guard."
"Sounds nice." Keith said, thinking of how his friend's cousin was shot to death five years previously. "So, do they smoke marijuana, or shoot heroine in your world?"
"Some do," Hector said, "I used to smoke the occasionally marijuana cigar when I was younger, but I couldn't take the smoke. Why do you ask?"
"Because in my world drugs like that are illegal, and people are always arrested for doing them, or get into fights over them, or get injured or killed over-dosing."
"We have over-dosers in my world, too. But most people don't want to over-dose, it damages the body and reduces one's enjoyment of life. Why would anyone want to blur their own vision or distort their own consciousness, and miss out on life?"
"That's a good question…"

There was another brief pause, as the two digested what they had heard of each other's respective worlds. "Hector," Keith began, "How is . . . sex treated in your world?"
"Oh, the streets of our cities are filled with lovers holding hands and in the parks and by the lakes there are lovers cuddling, and whispering in one another's ears or kissing! It is beautiful!"
"It's not considered bad?"
"It is rather unclassy for them to share a bed out of wedlock, but that's not my business. By the way, what time is it?"
"Oh it's…" Keith said, checking his phone, "…4:22!? We've been here a while!"
"We have!" Hector exclaimed, "I must be leaving, I've got to be somewhere by five and my trolley leaves in eight minutes!"
"Yeah, I gotta go too."
"Well," Hector said, "It was nice meeting you, Keith, and hearing of your world."
"Yeah," Keith said back, "it was cool meeting you, too. Do you think we'll meet again?"
"I really don't know…" Hector said.

They crossed to the opposites ends of The Room, toward the doors from which they had emerged, and then turned to face each other one final time. "Hector," Keith asked, "I don't understand it! I just don't! How can people in your world get along so well? How!?"
"Why don't people in your world get along?" Hector asked back, "We're all Human beings, and all of Divine origin. All men are brothers and all women are sisters, and the Earth is our home. We want to preserve it, and improve it, so that someday we can pass it on to our children."
"How can I make my world like yours?" Keith asked
"Look for the Light." Hector said.

And with that, the two bid a final farewell to one another, and two doors, leading to two separate, but similar worlds closed with their own sharp, crisp clicks. Why had all this happened, this meeting of two people from two realms? Was it simply a fluke in the continuum of all the worlds, or was there some Cosmic significance. There in the great complex existed two torches, one burning brightly, the other with a much smaller flame. But some greater Force tipped the two together for just a moment so that maybe, with luck, some of the flame and some of the Light will spread to the dimmer torch, and Light the way for others…

THE END