Road Out of Hell

The room is ostentatious, just as much, if not more so, than the building in which it is housed. Gold is the predominant color, largely because gold is the predominant element. The cloudy, almost dirty mirrors reflect the dulled yellowish hue of the room’s interior. The lights that have been rigged to illuminate the day’s proceedings don’t exactly compliment the reflective nature of the chamber, but then this is not the location one would have thought for such an historical event. If visual recording technology had been more advanced, it is likely those in the press would have had a few words to say about the aesthetics of the matter.

The delegates sitting around the table almost appear bored, except for the three sitting on the southwest corner of the room; whose faces wear the expressions of persons resigned to the task at hand, but would rather be anywhere else in the world at the moment.

The atmosphere is particularly stuffy inside the room, which might seem unusual for a space of its size. No windows or doors are open. Outside, it is a warm June afternoon, and people are crowded onto the meticulously manicured lawns that seem to stretch all the way to the horizon. They are awaiting news of the conference inside the room, called simply ‘The Hall of Mirrors’, one of the more flamboyantly decorated chambers that comprise the palace of Versailles in France.

The year is 1919, and the proceedings taking place inside what was once the crown jewel of Louis the XIV’s vastly palatial home are those of an armistice agreement between the recently defeated country of Germany and the allied powers that needed five long years of bloody fighting to subdue them.

There is a lot riding on these proceedings; more than just the acceptance of unconditional surrender from an aggressive country that once seemed poised to conquer the planet which then spent two years attempting to delay the end of the war by entrenching itself and refusing to yield the battlefield.

The deciding factor in the victory was the reluctant entrance of the United States into the war; a conflict most of its citizens were convinced was a solely European affair, but which solidified the U.S. position as a major player in world events. The U.S. delegation needs a strong outcome to this armistice, as their country has been sold on the idea that this was the ‘war to end all wars’ by President Woodrow Wilson. They are here to make sure another power such as Germany cannot possibly threaten the safety of the planet ever again.