art by Wi Waffles
Portal Worlds and Your Child: A Parent's Guide (With Examples)
by Matt Mikalatos
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.