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The Checkerboard

by Julie Wornan

“I’ve been thinking,” said Janey as they set out the pieces. “Look at this board. It has squares of two colors, black and red. But we only play on the squares of one color. Imagine — two other players could be playing their own game on the other squares. Neither game would interfere with the other one.” Janey had an economical turn of mind; she was the sort of person who ate the perfectly good ends of bread which other people would throw away.

“I wouldn’t much care to be elbow to elbow with two other players,” said Dick.

“Well, I wasn’t thinking about the players, but the checkers. Think about this: Everything, including this table, is made of electrons, neutrons and stuff, but there is mostly empty space between those particles. Now, suppose there were other bitty bits in that same space which interacted with each other but didn’t ‘know’ about the first ones? All the forces — gravity, electromagnetism and all that — which act on our set of particles would be ‘invisible’ to the other set, and vice versa. So there could be two worlds in the same space.”

“Hmm,” said Dick. “Interesting idea. So you think there could be another world right here? What do you think that world might be like?”

“I don’t know. It could be like ours — or very different.”

“Maybe the people would wear their shoes on their ears.”

“Maybe they’d get born big and grow little.”

“Maybe they would have a hundred fingers so they would be good at computer games.”

“Maybe they’d be cuddly and furry.” Janey loved cats.

“Maybe there would be monsters that ate the cuddly furry people.”

“Maybe.” Janey didn’t much care for the turn the conversation was taking.

“Maybe they would kill each other. Maybe they would have terrible weapons and keep hurting and killing each other all the time.”

“Surely not when they grew up?”

“Maybe they’d throw each other into dark dungeons and leave them there for years and years and hang them by their heels and push water up their noses.”

“Oh, Dick, you read too much stupid fantasy fiction. Your turn now,” she said, moving a piece to a diagonally adjacent red square.

Copyright © 2009 by Julie Wornan

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