The Sword and the Letter Opener II

I took a good, long look at my mysterious letter-opener, then placed it carefully in the hands of the tiny man on my desk. He withdrew the sword from his belt and threw it away as one might throw away a paper plate. He held Yeisril up to the light from my lamp and examined it closely. In my hands, it had looked like a letter opener. In his, it looked like it might be Excalibur. He noted a few dents sadly, then tenderly slid her into her sheath. He rested both his hands upon Yeisril’s hilt, then looked up at me with eyes that spoke of impatience to be going, but also of willingness to perform their master’s pledge.

“So where do you come from, now, sir?” I asked again.

“From Heath,” replied the man on my desk hastily. “What else do you wish to know? I must be going.”

“I’ll try to be quick with the questions. Who are you? And where is Heath?”

“My name is Alexandar,” replied the man. “I am the son of Rodrick the Shepherd, and I myself am a knight in the service of King Francis of Rockleigh.”

“I suppose Rockleigh is a large country in Heath?”

“Very small, I am afraid,” replied Alexandar. “And as for your question regarding Heath, I do not wish to answer. Past experience conversing with persons from your world have shown me that there can be no wisdom in this. Your minds are too small to comprehend it.”

“Too small?” I asked, insulted. “My brain is at least four times your size!”

“And your mind, sir, remains too small. So much more the tragedy.”

“Try me.”

Alexandar shook his head slowly, clearly ashamed of the ignorance he supposed me to have. I almost couldn’t hold back laughter at someone so small, with a sword at his side, and so serious, so formal, and so polite. I did manage to maintain politeness, though.

“Please, Alexandar. Humor me. Where is Heath?”

“We are your next door neighbors. Heath is to earth as what is on the other side of that door is to you.”

“Kind of like Mars?” I asked curiously.

“Not at all like Mars.” Alexandar shook his head again. “Mars is extremely far away. Your moon, even, is extremely far away. Heath, by contrast, is close. As close as you are to me – except closer. If I were inside of you – ” he shuddered at the thought – “But at the same time, not inside you.. then that would be like Heath.”

“A bit like a parallel universe.” I was slowly, I hoped, catching on.

“Some of your science fiction writers have come closer to understanding that reality than they have guessed,” answered the man on the desk before me. “However, Heath is not a parallel universe; it is a parallel world, and not even quite parallel at that.

“Fascinating,” I said. “How did you get here from Heath?”

“I walked.”

“You walked? You mean the same way I would walk from here to the parking garage?”

“Not quite the same, but similar. More like walking from your desk to your door. Heath is very immediate.”

“Immediate. Then why haven’t I ever seen it?”

“Have you ever seen God?” asked the short man.


“How do you know He exists?”

“I don’t. I am an atheist.”

“Then you, sir, are among the most foolish of all men. Our histories in Heath report that an age of reason had taken place on earth; I thought that with an age of reason would come the recognition that God is indeed quite real – in fact, reality itself. That is what we discovered in Heath when we went through our similar age of reason.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, little man, but our age of reason proved exactly the opposite. Maybe the people in your world are the ones with the small brains.”

Alexandar’s eyes flashed wildly with anger, then he withdrew my old letter opener from his sheath, flashed it madly, and then reason returned to his eyes. He returned it to its scabbard, then shook his head. “The fool has said in his heart there is no God. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.. I never understood what that meant until now. I thank you, great fool, for showing me what it means about claiming wisdom while being entirely stupid!” He walked toward the edge of my desk.

“Be careful,” I said quickly. “You could fall off!”

“I’m not that foolish,” said the little man. “Now, did you have any other questions, or may I be going?”

“You still didn’t tell me how you got from Heath to here.”

“I most certainly did. I said I walked.”

“And how do you expect to get back?”

“By walking.”