The Portal Cartographer

Submitted into Contest #196 in response to: Write a story involving a portal into a parallel universe.... view prompt


Adventure Science Fiction

Lydiana found herself walking along a seashore familiar and restful though she had never been here before that she could remember. The last thing she remembered was exploring in a dusty curio shop tucked away in a back alley in a part of town she had previously avoided. She had been looking at old photographic images of a scene. These predated the usual contemporary holographic images of places. The scene she was most captured by was of a seaside, clearly far from her inland desert community where she lived and worked.

She was sure she had never stood beside an actual sea. She looked down. Her human feet were bare and her toes dug into the damp sand at the sea’s edge. She held up her hands and saw a vision of these same hands clutching a seashell. No, not a vision. Real. She was clutching a large curved seashell decorated with colorful red, yellow, and blue multiple parallel lines wrapping around it. She held the shell up to her ear and saw moving pictures of herself projected within her mind. These pictures showed her holding the shell in that curio shop and then blackness and then here she was standing on damp sand beside a green sea with waves breaking and washing against the shore, over her toes, and sinking into the sand.

Somehow, she had been transported from her previous where and landed here. But where was here and why? Her mind tumbled these questions about like a spinning gadgeterama. But no answers came.

She sighed. Her past experiences with portals suggested she was in another dimensional shift experience. Her lab experiments led her to know she had no choice but to follow the flow of the energy that manifested here and now and see what would be revealed. She opened herself to the sounds, smells, and feel of this seashore “universe.” The portal key seemed to be the beautiful curved shell in her hand, the same shell she had held against her ear in the curio shop. Her scientist's curiosity began to present possible hypotheses for this happening. Maybe the curio shop itself was a portal to which she had been vibrationally drawn because of her intense curiosity about the existence of yet unmapped portals to other dimensions. She was well known in the field of portal cartography. Portals, as she knew them, were usually induced as part of her reality exploratory work in her lab. This dimension shift through a portal, however, was spontaneous and not in the lab.

Her next thought was rational and typical for her.

What am I meant to learn here? After all, a spontaneous dimension shift just didn’t happen every day, not even to a portal cartographer.

She knew it was important to reflect on what was happening as it was happening. She took out her notebook and EVER-READY pen. She looked around to find just the right spot to reflect in writing, as she had been taught to do. Having surveyed the area, she moved beyond the damp sand to a higher spot on the beach where large rocks broke the landscape. She sat down in the sand still able to see the expanse of green sea and leaned against a rock. She took some descriptive notes and then, she closed her eyes and loosened her mind to follow the rhythm of the waves, slowly breathing in and out, in and out, until…

“Hello,” said a voice, “new arrival is ya?”

Lydiana opened her eyes and looked up into the eyes of a smiling young man simply clad in a loose tunic that reached to his ankles. Like her, his feet were bare.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Taking stock?” he asked.


“Any questions?” he asked.

“Do you have answers?”


“O.K. Why am I here?”

“Only you can know that.”

“Have I done a dimension shift?”

“Of course, you have. You figured that out already.”

She nodded. “Are you living here permanently?”

He cocked his head. “Nothing is permanent, if by permanent you mean forever.”

“Is there a way back to the dimension I left?”

“Ahh, if you are meant to go back, you will. Only you are keeping you here.”

“Why?” The question flew out of her mouth.

The lad shrugged in answer. He smiled and said gently, “Follow the energies. Welcome.” He pranaamed to her using the sacred bow commonly used in various cultures on Earth as both greeting and farewell. 

Lydiana folded her hands and pronaamed to him in response to his gesture. When she lifted her head, he had vanished, leaving no footprints in the sand.

The purple sun was setting into the green sea. Lydiana looked around. For the first time, she noticed lights blinking inland further away from the beach. She decided to follow the energy emerging from the distant lights.

She left the beach, and a trail appeared before her that seemed to be pointed in the direction she wished to go. She walked on.

After some while had passed, she found herself drawing near to the source of the light. It was a tall, round, stone tower girded by a winding stairway leading to the top where sat a huge light blinking its rays into the night. There was no sign of any inhabitants.

She approached the tower and paused at the bottom of the winding stairway. She breathed slowly in and out, centering herself before she took another step. Then, her curiosity overcame her hesitation. She began to climb the winding stairway bent on reaching the top. As she climbed, every once in a while, she came upon a rest station equipped with a stone table and stone benches on either side like an old-fashioned picnic table and benches once common in parks on Earth. Each time she rested and practiced her centering breathing, before continuing to climb. Her curiosity and her confidence increased as she climbed.

At the top of the tower, she saw a circle of small lights delineating a space within which three silent, cloaked figures were seated on small stone benches. They were chanting: “Ahh, Umm; Ahh, Nee; Ahh Umm; Ahh, thee; Ahh, we. A high-pitched gong rang out. They repeated the chant twice more, always punctuated by the gong. Lydiana listened, captivated by the vibration created by the chanting voices and the gong. The chanting ceased abruptly after the last gong rang out.

“Welcome, Earthling, join us please,” one of the figures must’ve spoken, but Lydiana could not tell which one.

She faced the threesome and answered, “Thank you for your welcome. I accept your invitation to join you.”

Suddenly, another stone bench appeared between two of the figures. One figure reached out and patted the stone bench indicating she should enter their circle of light and sit. She did so.

“You are in no danger,” the signaler spoke. “We are here to help you learn.”

“May I ask you questions?”

“Of course, but introductions first.”

Each figure stood, slipped their robes’ hoods off their heads and revealed their faces and then spoke in turn.

“I am RED,” said the first whose face was the color of many shades and hues of pure red put together like a patchwork quilt. “My field of knowing is the Body.”

Red sat back down.

“I am Blue,” said the second one whose face was the color of many shades and hues of pure blue put together like a patchwork quilt. “My field of knowing is the Mind.”

Blue sat back down.

“I am Yellow,” said the third whose face was the color of many shades and hues of pure yellow put together like a patchwork quilt. “My field of knowing is Intuition.”

Yellow sat back down.

Red spoke, “What would you like to ask? Please address us by our names. You may ask each of us one question of importance to you at this moment.”

Lydiana thought for a moment and then spoke, “Thank you for introducing yourselves. I am Lydiana. I am a portal cartographer from Earth. I would like to address my first question to Red.”

Red stood facing Lydiana.

“Ask your question.”

“Where am I, oh Knower of Body?” Lydiana asked.

“You are in a different dimension in a parallel universe to Earth from whence you came. We call our part of this universe after one of your legends. You have arrived in Atlantika.”

Red resumed his seat.

“Thank you,” Lydiana said.

Red nodded.

Lydiana realized she had to move on.

“Blue, my next question is for you. Is this experience I am having only in my mind, oh Knower of Mind, or is it in some way made up of measurable matter outside my mind?”

Blue was silent considering the question fully before he spoke. “The question of what is real often comes up when Earthlings come to this parallel universe in the dimension where Atlantika is located. First, there are measurable phenomena but these are not measurements of matter as you know it. Energy vibrations are what we measure in quak units to express the familiar mass, height, and width of an energy field and so much more. For instance, we have perfected ways to measure the vibrations of energy emitted in thoughts and dreams, as well as more solidified phenomena. Thus, asking whether an event is only in your mind is not really relevant in Atlantika. You may be assured what you are experiencing is REAL.”

Blue sat back down.

“Thank you,” Lydiana said.

Blue nodded.

Lydiana realized she had to move on.

Yellow stood up. “What is your question for me?”

Lydiana answered, “In what ways is intuition important here, oh Knower of Intuition?”

Yellow smiled and began speaking, “First of all, Atlantikans all have varying levels of intuitive abilities in much the same way Earthlings all have varying levels of intellectual abilities. On Earth, many of your scientists and thinkers place intellectual abilities above intuitive abilities, despite plenty of evidence of intuitive knowing being a co-equal way of knowing complementary to intellectual abilities. Here in Atlantika we value intuitive abilities greatly and work with our young soon after birth to develop and enhance their nascent gifts of intuition. So, the simple answer to your question is: Intuition as a way of knowing is important in all ways and contexts in Atlantika.”

Yellow sat down.      

“Thank you,” Lydiana said.

Yellow nodded.

“That concludes this session of questions and answers,” Red announced and continued, “You are our guest. You may stay as long as you like to study amongst us. However, you need to know that time doesn’t function here as it does on Earth.”

Lydiana responded, “I assumed as much. How does it function here?”

Red smiled. “That’s a second question, but I will indulge you and answer. This is what you might call a nearly timeless dimension, especially compared to Earth. When you leave Atlantika, you will feel like you have been away from Earth for a very long time. However, when you return to Earth, only mere minutes will have passed. Not every dimension works this way, but Atlantika does. This makes coming and going between our parallel worlds easier on Earthlings who do not usually handle time differences between worlds very well.” Red paused and then asked, “Do you wish to stay with us for a while?”

“You mean I have a choice?” asked Lydiana, flabbergasted by the possibility of having a choice.

“Of course, you have a choice. Stay or depart, it’s up to you. From this side, all you need do is hold the shell and think, ‘stay here’ or ‘go back from whence I came’ and it will be so.”

Lydiana considered all the possibilities. Her curiosity to learn more from the Atlantikans won out.

“I’ll stay for now. Maybe later I’ll return to Earth. Thank you for the choice.”

Red, Blue, and Yellow extended their arms toward her and in unison said, “Stay as our guest. Learn. When you want to return to Earth, you will be able to do so.”

Lydiana stayed and learned. She eventually returned to Earth with stories and data having found, tested, and mapped three viable portals between Earth and Atlantika, all previously unknown to Earthlings. She had a long and illustrious career as a portal cartographer. Despite being tempted, she never returned to Atlantika.

May 06, 2023 03:02

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Tommy Goround
14:31 May 10, 2023

The Portal Cartographer GOOD TITLE. 4.6/5 FIRST READ. NOTES IN CAPS. Lydiana found herself walking along a seashore familiar and restful though she had never been here before that she could remember. The last thing she remembered was exploring in a dusty curio shop tucked away in a back alley in a part of town she had previously avoided. She had been looking at old photographic images of a scene. These predated the usual contemporary holographic THIS GAVE A SENSE OF TIMFRAMES...images of places. The scene she was most captured by was of a ...


Julia Corliss
21:11 May 26, 2023

Thank you for your very detailed responses/comments to my story. I will think on everything you said. Happy writing, Julia


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Julia Corliss
10:16 Mar 20, 2024

I just reread all your detailed comments. I am going to attempt (for my own storyteling development) to do a rewrite of this story inputting as much of your detailed editing comments as make sense to me with respect to character purpose and keeping the story moving forward with that purpose as the driving force. I've not attempted any rewrites of my fantasy stories, mostly because of lack of time, so this will be a good exercise for me. I do not know how long this will take me, probably awhile. Is there a way I can send you the rewrite whene...


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