The Portal Bookshop
The Portal Bookshop
Ever since he could remember, Addric has been obsessed with the idea that he he is a highly advanced being from another civilisation. Addric’s world was like that, an endless array of unfinished stories, fantastic things he’d seen from afar but never really understood. He was a dreamer who coasted along with his head in the clouds collecting tidbits from galaxies far and wide.
For a boy who believed that anything was possible, he was not surprised to discover at the age of fifteen that his heritage was unique, but if it had not been for an intuitive artificial game with the ability to recreate the thoughts in a player’s mind, things could have been different.
If it had not been for that game, Addric would never have had a close encounter with the spectre of a Fire-Dragon or a mysterious stranger who steps through a time portal with a message he never wanted to hear. If things had been different, he would never have met the enigmatic woman who had been orchestrating his destiny from afar and he and his brother may never have resumed the rights to their ancient heritage.
Addric’s long held dream finally does come true and as he discovers he is a direct descendant of the Gods of Space and Time, but for a few short months, he will also have access to the unlimited powers of a Yumi Master.
Accompanied by gods and immortals, Addric and Dheago become the pivotal players in a drama of cosmic proportions. The future of their world rests in their hands and whether they succeed or not will take more than a little imagination, sheer audacity and a substantial dose of stealth and cunning. To a teenager with a vivid imagination, nothing is impossible. What Addric is about to discover is that he has all that and more.
Believe it or not, this book came out of the blue. Surprisingly, it is a story set in an inter-dimensional realm where universal energies and portals feature prominently, but if you have never had the opportunity to visit another galaxy, this is an opportunity to see one up close. In some ways it is not so different to our own and in other ways it will amaze and surprise you. The excerpt below introduces the main characters as they stumble through Labryinth, an intuitive artificial game with intentions of its own.
If they expected to find anything at the end of a long black tunnel, it was oblivion, a dark world with even darker prospects and the possibility of nothing much more after that.
When Dheago did eventually resurface he was still a little shell-shocked, but he was alive. He was exhausted and every muscle in his body was throbbing, reminding him of what he had just done. It was only moments later that he realised that they were somewhere else altogether.
‘Get up Addric, you’ve got to see this place,’ he cried.
Addric was flat on his back in a semi-comatose state and lost in a world of his own. He struggled to his feet and surveyed the terrain through bleary eyes, but very little of what he saw made any sense.
‘Are we still in that game?’ he asked.
'I don’t think so Addric.’
It was obvious that they were well and truly lost and from what they could see, there was no way out. The panorama was almost too overwhelming to comprehend at first glance. It took a few minutes for the reality to sink in; to come to terms with just where they were.
It took even longer to get their bearings, but it was apparent that they were on the upper deck of a semi-transparent highway and as they would soon find out, this was just one of the many features of the world in which they lived.
Inter-dimensional highways were rarely visible to the naked eye but they did exist and to the initiated, they served a valuable purpose. If they had known that they crisscrossed the Khavala from one end to the other, that would have been useful information, but they didn’t. For many reasons, this was the perfect way to travel.
It was also the perfect place from which to survey the details of this strange new world. This was a dimensional realm, a world within a world, an essential component of an ancient universe.
On first inspection, it appeared to be composed of cosmic dust and stars, but on closer inspection they realised that it was populated by an assortment of barely visible structures. Hundreds, possibly thousands of these ghostly things stretched away to an invisible horizon. Some had spires and domes and others yet again resembled exotic temples and palaces, and they were all floating quietly, like sparkling jewels in a spectral mist.
‘I wonder where we are,’ Dheago said.
'I have no idea,’ Addric replied, ‘but we have no choice except to keep on going.'
Dheago was somewhat hesitant. The highway was unfamiliar territory, a never-ending structure which rolled on and on without ever seeming to end. As a means of crossing the Khavala, energetic highways were a singularity without equal, the purposeful creation of the unseen mind. It was not entirely visible, but it was there all the same, glistening eerily in the spectral light.
While he kept a watchful eye on a series of changing events in the stratosphere, Addric was generating a few thoughts of his own. Over the next two hours, he tossed around one outrageous proposal after another, his ever active mind fuelled to overflowing by an endless range of unexplored possibilities.
Dheago had become so used to his chatter that he realised he would never change. His one and only safeguard in situations like this was to block him out altogether. He desperately wanted to do that, but he just couldn’t, not this time. It was this place. What was it? Where was it? He had a suspicion that if he let Addric waffle on as he usually did, he might even say something which made sense.
‘And if it’s not one of those things,' Addric finally said, 'it might even be the arterial system of a gigantic and possibly very hungry, inter-galactic creature.’
‘Okay,’ Dheago said at long last, ‘give it a break Addric.’ There was a limit to even his refined sensibilities.
‘Well, it could be Dheago; there is supportable evidence, to some degree.’
As usual, Dheago just glared at Addric when he said things like that.
‘Yes,’ Addric said hopefully.
‘Not from my perspective, Addric.'
Addric was not to be deterred. Even as they wandered along the highway, he was searching for any vital piece of evidence. In situations such as this; his powers of observation were his greatest asset. Addric had already discovered that there were exit points at various intervals along the way. They were visible but not accessible, but he made a valiant effort to gain access all the same.
If one exit point had responded to their energetic signature, they would have found themselves on yet another energy highway heading deep into the unexplored realms of the Khavala arriving yet again at some other nameless destination. Until they found one which would respond to their presence, there was little they could do but speculate.
‘Is this even a part of the game,’ Dheago wondered. 'If it is, it has no purpose. It’s supposed to be a game of the mind, but whose mind is it. I can understand it being mine, but is it yours as well Addric.’
‘I don’t really know,’ Addric said, ‘but we can’t be clocking up any credit points wandering around from one dead end to another.’
Just as he was about to explore the finer details of an emerging dilemma, Addric darted ahead to investigate yet another possible escape hatch.
‘I’ve got a feeling this might be the one Dheago.’
Exit points could be identified by a slight variation in the membrane, but permission to pass was not always guaranteed.
‘I bet it’s another false alarm,’ said a despairing Dheago.
‘Maybe not,’ Addric said hopefully. He pushed at it tentatively, not knowing what to expect, but the membrane responded.
‘It’s the real thing Dheago and I have a feeling that it goes somewhere.’
Addric had no idea what to expect but he had to check it out all the same. This was either going to be the bravest or the most foolish thing he would ever do, but he did it all the same. He stepped through the membrane and before Dheago even realised it, Addric had vanished in an instant.
‘Addric,’ he cried, ‘what are you doing?’
Dheago was dumbfounded by this development; he raced up to the membrane with every intention of following along behind. As tempted as he was, he did not have the nerve to go any further. He rarely resorted to the use of bad language, but this was one situation in which he was sorely tempted.
‘Addric, come back here, now!’ he cried.
He glanced around warily, conscious of the fact that he was alone, stranded in the middle of nowhere and what little courage he had left was dwindling away with every passing second.
Ten minutes later, he was still pacing back and forth, expecting Addric to return at any given moment, glancing around nervously, uncertain as to what was going on.
Dheago knew instinctively that something was wrong. It was the parameters of the game; there was something about it which did not make any sense at all.
‘If this is a game and we're still playing, then we’re completely lost, and if we keep on going, we could end up anywhere. We could be here forever, matching our wits against sadistic mutants until the day we died.’
Every passing minute felt like an hour and Dheago was getting seriously worried.
‘Where is he, why did I let him go?’ he cried.
The membrane was a semi-transparent film, the outer shell which enclosed the highway from one end to the other. It looked so fragile that it might dissolve at any given moment, but being just a little curious, Dheago decided to take a closer look. From what he could see, it appeared to be composed of pearls of reflected light.
He cautiously placed his hand on the outer surface of the membrane and to his surprise it responded in a most unusual way; glistening as if it was aware of his presence. It was a beautiful sight to behold, a symphony of microscopic particles, as soft as a silken veil, a masterpiece of cosmic engineering.
Dheago stepped back immediately. If this was an example of universal energies, it was a conscious entity, a living thing in its own right. The idea of stepping into it and ending up in another world was a little daunting, but he had to do something and soon.
‘Anything could happen,’ he thought, ‘this thing could be inhabited or even worse.’
He braced himself, preparing for what he had no idea. Only seconds before he made his move, the membrane began to tremble and then ripple back and forth.
It was then that he saw a ghostly shadow reflected across its surface and he cried out, ‘Oh my God, what have I done?’
Dheago was about to turn and run, when, to his relief, Addric stepped through the membrane.
'Addric,' he sighed, 'I wish you wouldn't do things like that.'
‘Dheago,’ he said, ‘I’ve found a way out of here.’
‘What do you mean,’ he said, ‘a way out to where?’
‘I don’t know where it is D, but there’s a park with trees and it’s a place. At least it’s got to be better than this. Come on, come and have a look.’
Dheago was a more than little hesitant but after a while he realised that he had no other choice. He took a long deep breath and did the bravest thing he had ever done in his life.
Dheago is not one to trust in the fickle finger of fate or any other nebulous energy for that matter, but he stepped through the membrane only to find himself in a somewhat creepy looking tunnel.
Dheago is one of those people whose anxiety levels are activated by confined spaces and anything out of the ordinary, To his dismay, this looked like just such a place; Addric was keeping a close eye on him nevertheless.
The tunnel was even creepier than Dheago had imagined, a sort of murky pinkish grey in appearance, but the most disturbing element was the fact that it really could have been the intestinal tract of a living, breathing creature.
Addric knows Dheago better than he knows anyone and he would have been praying that it didn’t burp or gulp or do something even worse.
‘Hang in there,’ Addric said reassuringly, ‘there is life ahead.’
The strange discolouration in the tunnel gradually faded away and not long after, it had taken on a more agreeable appearance, but what Dheago saw as he stepped out the other end did not make him feel any better.
An eerie light threw long twisted shadows across an open field and there in the distance, nestled amongst the bushes and enveloped by an ominous-looking mist was their next destination.
‘It looks like the perfect place for a murder,’ he groaned.
They made their way up a hill, fought their way through a hedge of tangled vines, clambered over an old brick wall and moved along hesitantly, sidestepping puddles as they did so and wading through an inch thick layer of decomposing leaves.
Not long after, they saw the first sign of hope, the barely visible outline of a building and to their relief; it was not all that far away. It looked as if it could have been a farmhouse, but they could not be sure. The closer they got, however, the less inviting it started to look. When they were less than a few hundred metres away, they stopped. It was definitely a house, or what was left of it.
It might have been a very beautiful home at one point in time, but now it was a sad and sorry sight, as bleak and dismal as its surroundings, littered with rubbish, broken furniture and decomposing plant life; the walls were disintegrating and some had even collapsed.
Addric didn't like the look of this at all and was just about to suggest they make a fast getaway when he happened to notice the expression on Dheago’s face.
‘I don’t believe this,’ Dheago cried.
‘What's wrong,’ he asked, ‘what’s the matter Dheago?’
This was not looking good. Addric knew that look. It was as if Dheago had just seen a ghost.
‘Whoever created this game,’ he said, ‘must be just plain evil.’
Not everyone would have called this a game; but it was, up to a point. After level one, it was programmed to evolve along most unusual lines.
Ever since the loss of his parents, despair had haunted Dheago on a daily basis. The last few years had become worse rather than better, the turmoil he endured never seemed to end. It was always there, waiting for the likes of Addric to set it off, or as now, the elements of this intuitive, artificial game.
Dheago did not understand this or even its intentions, but he had never expected to end up in the one place he never wanted to see again, a place where the landscape was riddled with more emotional baggage than he could handle.
‘This is nothing but a dirty trick,’ he cried. ‘What sort of game is this?’
‘I'm not following,’ said a confused Addric, ‘what are you talking about?’
‘It’s my family home Addric, it’s my parent’s place. Don’t you recognise it?’
He did not and even as he stood there, Addric was dumbstruck. Something very strange really was going on here, he knew that. A game with the capacity to conjure up memories from a long gone past was one thing, but why it was happening, that’s what he didn’t understand.