My feet are planted firmly on the ground, and my hands are grasping the deteriorating red brick of the well. I gaze deeply into the unmolested water. My image is reflecting with mirror like quality, save the occasional ripple caused by an oak tree’s fluttering leaf. The deep blue linen shirt hanging over my shoulders matches the color of the skys reflection above perfectly. My eyes reflect on the surface of the water, and I continue to intensify my gaze. I analyze the green and blue speckled orbs with the focus of a surgeon before clamping my eyes shut. I tense all of my muscles for several seconds before opening my eyes and looking into the well once again. I am focused on the deep green foliage encompassing my image. The gnarled and twisting branches adorned with their many perfectly constructed leaves astound me. Such an abstract yet perfect structure in a world where many symmetrical yet imperfect beings reign supreme. The irony causes a smile to creep across my face before I shut both of my eyes at once. I remove my hands from either side of the well, and place them in front of me. With my eyes still closed I interlock my fingers, lean forward and allow myself to fall limply into the serene pool of humanity's most fundamental liquid.
The cold dark pool is suffocating. I can no longer feel my appendages, my body is frozen in place. My vision becomes saturated with absolute nothingness. Terror swells within my chest until I begin to feel as though my heart is going to burst. Just as the pressure below my rib cage seems to become insurmountable, my vision begins to deviate from nothingness. With my head towards what was once the sky, a bright orange light begins to shine. The water grows warmer, and the pressure in my chest lessens. My face breaks the surface of the water, and I take a deep breath of sweet and fresh air. My eyes open and the sky has turned from a beautiful blue to a wonderful blend of warm yellow and orange. The tangerine sky is mesmerizing, and my vertical gaze is unbreakable. This world is truly amazing. I scale the brick siding of the well, sopping wet but comfortable thanks to the marvelous weather. After a half minute of moderately difficult climbing I push myself up to the lip of the well. I plant both of my feet on the ground, and for the first time since taking the initial plunge I remove my focus from the depths of a brick cylinder, and instead placed it on the magnificent world around me. In every direction lays something so unique and magnificent that by the time I make it halfway around my field of vision, my jaw begins to cramp and my eyes water profusely.
To my left and 800 feet in the air is a building sized silver sphere with hundreds of windows and a constant stream of amorphous orbs floating to and from. To my right on an adjacent hill is a glistening gold figuring with its arms raised and feet crossed. Across its chest in a clean serif font reads Tall Tree Town. Despite boasting buildings in the sky, it seems that this reality has yet to escape the origin of its existence, a lone tall tree in the oldest part of town. The hill on which I had walked in order to reach the well is unchanged. Hikers are still meandering about without a care in the world.
For several minutes I simply lean against the well and look out at the many structures being transported around the sky. They don’t look to be any variation of flying car, rather some sort of goods transportation. After several minutes of observation I turn around, and jump at the sight of a tall teenage boy staring back at me. I realize quickly that this is other worldly me. I wonder aloud if he is aware of alternate reality.
“You aren’t that special buddy” he says. “Pretty much all of us have figured out the portal trick. Only some of us didn’t fall in like you klutz”. He says loudly.
“You sound like our dad” I say with a chuckle. “So how many of us have you had the pleasure of meeting” I ask.
While he obnoxiously counts on his fingers I look at his face, his hair, his eyes. It’s all perfectly identical. He seems a bit more dickish than me, however. Or so I hope…
“About 49 alternate John’s have come face to face with me I’d say” he finally boasts.
My eyes grow slightly wider, and my measly 4 alternate reality trips seem so insignificant for a moment.
“Does anyone else know about this in your world?” I wonder.
“Not that I know of” He says. “I try my best to keep it on the low for the most part. I don’t do much when I visit, mostly just find other me’s and go to lunch. Sometimes they’re hard to find, but we usually have a way of bumping into each other.”
His eyes move from the patch of golden grass in front of him and meet mine. I am overcome with the most peculiar feeling. One moment ago I was looking into my reflection on the water, and now I am looking to my reflection across the bounds of space and time. The gravity of the situation is astounding. The remarkable breakthroughs which my various selves have made in various universes is breathtaking.
What confuses me most is why given the intensity and impressiveness of our accomplishment, we only ever observe or casually partake in one another’s world. I ask myself.
“Well, you see John, we all live in our own universe, and at the end of the day, none of them matter to each other, or to anything really. One lost is one of infinite variations. It’s merely a drop in the ocean of space and time, a grain of sand on a well traveled road”
I stand in awe. He (I?) is spot on. None of this mattered. The only truly real and tangible thing with any plausible impact across universes is the feelings we are both experiencing. His eyes meeting mine, the hikers surrounding us with deep content and the feeling we both garnered from looking into a tangerine sky. These things were universal. These things had inherent worth. Not the technology, not the money, not the various gadgets and gizmos that this and other worlds have developed. Simple feelings are quite obviously the one real thing in existence. For the second time today, irony causes a smile to creep across my face.
“Well John, should we go to lunch?”
“Yes, we should. If this meal makes us happy, then god dammit we’re gonna eat.”