Featured Story
Recent Stories
Stories by Topic
News
Make the universe a better place! Support DSF with a donation:
small-go-arrowdonate
Take me to a...
Random story
top-rated stories only
Enter any portion of the author name or story title:
small-go-arrowsearch
Sign up for free daily sci-fi!
your email will be kept private

Breaking News
Get a copy of Not Just Rockets and Robots: Daily Science Fiction Year One. 260 adventures into new worlds, fantastical and science fictional. Rocket Dragons Ignite: the anthology for year two, is also available!
Kindle Edition
Kindle Edition
DSF stories are available in monthly digests for Kindle!
DSF for Kindle
Publish your stories or art on Daily Science Fiction:
Submit your story
Check story status
Not just rockets & robots...
What is Science Fiction?
"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.
close






art by Wi Waffles

Portal Worlds and Your Child: A Parent's Guide (With Examples)

Matt Mikalatos is the author of "The Sword of Six Worlds." You can follow him on Twitter (@mattmikalatos) or visit his website (mikalatos.com). He lives in the Portland, Oregon area with his wife and three daughters.
Warning Signs. One in every 250 children experiences inter-dimensional travel before the age of eighteen. Siblings and cousins are 40% more likely to enter another dimension than single children. If you discover your child hiding medieval items (crowns, trumpets, tapestries, chastity belts, swords, etc.), take action immediately. Likewise, if potential magical artifacts are found (uncommon rings, buttons, feathers, etc.), confiscate the item(s) and talk to your child. Watch for imaginary friends, talking animals, or strange behaviors (avoiding sidewalk cracks, fear of open closets, obsessively locking bedroom windows, etc.).
Example: In 1937, Mary Patricia Wall, aged eight, told her parents about "the Garden Lady," who came into their home and collected small items (bottle caps, cracked china, old letters). When her parents expressed concern, Mary Patricia said, "Someday the Garden Lady will pay me back for anything she borrows." Her parents installed new locks on all the doors.
Prevention. Upwards of 90% of voluntary inter-dimensional travel is portal-based. Portals tend to be child-sized (cupboards, crawlspaces, gaps in hedges, etc.) or places adults would not explore (wardrobes, sewer openings, window ledges, etc.). A simple exercise is to crawl around one's house at a child's eye level and install safety latches on every door. Once children traverse another dimension, the likelihood of a second journey is nearly 75%, and trips after the first are increasingly difficult to prevent. Children often gain artifacts or magic phrases allowing them to return to the foreign dimension at will.
Example: Mary Patricia Wall took her first trip to "the Horizon Lands," the first of five such excursions, after hiding from her cousins in a dumbwaiter. It fell at "terrific speeds" while "sparks of violet light" spread over her.
Preparation. If your child is a high risk for inter-dimensional travel (a family history of inter-dimensional travel, a vibrant imagination, a passion for books and/or story, an expressed desire to "get away" from family or school), it is wise to buy him or her sturdy shoes, all-weather clothing, and a pocketknife. Lessons in horse riding, fencing, field medicine, the sciences, and military theory would likewise be helpful.
Example: Mary Patricia Wall was expected to become a "lady in waiting" in the Court of Far Seeing. However, her superior abilities in math, particularly geometry, and the sciences, particularly astronomy, caused her to be elevated to Chief Magician by her third visit (1940, aged eleven). On her fourth visit (1941) she saved the prince regent from assassination at the hands of the Zhanin (literally: The Shark People; an underwater society often at odds with the Court of Far Seeing) and was officially inducted into royalty by the Sun King.
Recovery. Many portal worlds magically prohibit those over the age of eighteen from entry. Several organizations specialize in sending highly trained child operatives after your children, but these services are expensive and not guaranteed. Two suggested actions: One, make sure any remaining children in your home are not imposters. This is accomplished by holding cold iron against the child. If the child complains of burning, bursts into flame, or changes shape, call this office immediately. Two, make sure all portals are unlocked and unobstructed. Several families have had children return after twenty-five to thirty years, with the children having aged only a few days due to time dilation.
Example: Mary Patricia Wall, long thought to have returned in 1941, had actually been replaced by a reptilian shapeshifter of the Southern Court. Her parents, upon noticing her strange temperature fluctuations, uncovered the deception and drove the creature from their home, a full year before Mary Patricia's actual return.
Rehabilitation. Post-traumatic stress for returning children is common. Children may have been treated as royalty in another dimension, and may expect you to dress them, deliver food, and respond to their every whim. This can have deleterious effects (See the pamphlet, "You Are Not Royalty Anymore"). Counseling is available for those who cannot return to a foreign dimension (See, "Saying Goodbye: A guide for eighteen year olds").
Example: In 1947 after her fifth--and final--childhood journey to the Horizon Lands, Mary Patricia Wall grew despondent, claiming she had left behind a husband (Prince James of Pastisia) and small child. She wept often and could not be consoled. After years of counseling she came to grips with this reality. She did not marry (or, as she said, re-marry), and she could often be heard singing lullabies through the open window of her bedroom.
Conclusion. Children rarely die during inter-dimensional travel. They may return minus a limb or speaking ancient dialects, but they may also return with enough gold to pay for college. Stay positive: these events often work out for the best. Don't give up hope, and remember to express pride in your child should they save a kingdom, a world, or the universe.
Example: In 1977, at the age of 48, Mary Patricia Wall found a collection of bottle caps, twine, and broken china on her kitchen counter, along with a letter bearing the royal seal and a small vial of violet liquid upon which was written, "For the Shedding of Years." She caught a glimpse of the Garden Lady moving toward a gap in the back yard hedge, and Mary Patricia snatched up the letter and the vial and ran after her. And she lived happily ever after.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, July 4th, 2013


My three year old lost the white plastic cap to a disposable bottle of water and was crying about it. When I asked her what had happened she said, "The Garden Lady took it, but she says one day she'll give it back." I asked her who the Garden Lady was, and she said, "The old woman who comes into the house and takes small things." Of course I immediately nailed shut all the wardrobes in the house. Later, I started thinking about the response of children entering a fantasy world (wonder and excitement) and the response one should expect from those same kids' parents (terror), and decided to write a warning for all the parents out there. I hoped to capture some of the sense of longing, wonder, and loss that is common in portal fantasies and stories about growing up. I wondered if I could do that by implying a long series of stories rather than writing them, which is what I have attempted here. I hope you enjoyed it and I look forward to your thoughts.

- Matt Mikalatos

RATE THIS STORY
Please click to rate this story from 1 (ho-hum) to 7 (excellent!):

Please don't read too much into these ratings. For many reasons, a superior story may not get a superior score.

6.2 Rocket Dragons Average

SHARE THIS STORY

JOIN MAILING LIST
Please join our mailing list and receive free daily sci-fi (your email address will be kept 100% private):
 
Copyright Info
Tell a Friend
Send Feedback
About Us