Hello, Zoe’s fans. My name is Ariele Sieling and I write books.
This blog post is the first in a series across several different blogs. I will be sharing snippets of my work, some amusing memes I made (think, what would my characters say if they had iPhones?), infographics, more information on the world I’ve been building, and possibly a sneak peek at my current work in progress. You can follow me on Facebook or Twitter, or learn more about me through my website.
As I said, my name is Ariele and I write books. My genre is scifi and my medium is humor. Recently, I released my third book, entitled The Wounded World, that takes place in a galaxy far far away. Just kidding, it takes place all over the universe with a little bit of Earth mixed in.
The book is about Quin, a young man whose father worked for one of the most powerful government agencies in the universe. Upon coming come from military duty, Quin discovers that his father has disappeared, leaving only a dangerous new piece of technology behind. Together with his friend John, Quin sets out on a journey to find his father and solve the myriad of problems the man has caused. Intrigue, humor, and a teeny tiny bit of romance all weave together to create The Wounded World.
Sound interesting? You can grab a copy here.
If you want to know a little bit more, have a taste of the book itself.
Chapter 1: The Multi-Coloured Door
The countryside blazed by, a blur of green, brown, and blue, with speckles of red and orange. Quin idly wished they would install a Door at the outpost where he was stationed, so he didn’t have to take the train back and forth from Pomegranate City, but it was apparently an unknown security risk. But wasn’t pretty much any door into anywhere a security risk on some level? At least if you thought about it too much.
He shifted in his seat and crossed his arms. The woman across from him was giving him the eyes – that expression which said, “I’m interested in you and so I’m going to twitch my facial muscles around awkwardly until you feel so uncomfortable that you say something to me.” He ignored her and glanced at his watch. One hour into the trip. It was about time for him to take out his book.
“Excuse me, sir,” the woman across from him said.
He looked up, annoyed.
“I would just like to ask you a question.” She shifted in her seat, adjusting her pale yellow blouse and retying her scarf.
He nodded once.
“Have you ever noticed how perfectly everything aligns? The sun, the moon, our planet – the way we are able to cross great distances in a single bound, yet become as one to each living thing as we simply move one step at a time?”
Quin frowned. Not a typical come-on. He stated, “Religion died out centuries ago.”
“I’m not talking about religion,” the woman said. “I’m talking about hope.”
Another woman stuck her head around the seat and stared. She was wearing a green hat. Quin wondered briefly if the hat had a name or if that was all it was – a hat.
“It’s not about hope,” the woman in the green hat interrupted. “It’s about fear. You people proselytize to everyone you come across, not so that you can give them hope, but so that you can terrify them into giving your organization money to support lazy good-for-nothings that—”
“No!” The woman in yellow cut off the other woman. “The future is uncertain – there is much to be lost and gained. I and my brothers and sisters only want to encourage others to focus on taking control of their future, on not fearing death, and on seeking to love each other.”
“You’re a liar and a coward, spreading lies and brainwashing our young people to make poor decisions and spend their money unwisely!” spat the woman in the green hat.
Quin blinked twice and raised his eyebrows. This was getting unexpectedly heated.
The woman in the green hat stood up, glaring at the yellow-bloused woman.
The yellow-bloused woman continued, “You’re close-minded and ignorant, and you only care about maintaining the status quo, and not actually about improving our culture! As we reach out into the universe and meet other races and other cultures, we need to expand our thinking—”
The woman in the green hat simply could not wait any longer. She leaped forward and grabbed the first woman by the throat. The first woman responded by putting her foot in the green-hat’s stomach and pushing her back with all her might. Then a young man from across the aisle became involved, trying to separate the two, but instead found himself kicked in the knee and stumbling helplessly into an older gentleman who sat quietly reading the paper. The older gentleman began to swear loudly as Quin stood calmly, towering a head and a half over the tallest of the brawling passengers, picked up the first offender by her shoulders, and carried her into next car. He deposited the second woman back in her original seat; and he helped the limping man to the train’s medic.
Quin had never stopped a fight on a train before, but he supposed he just could add it to his Experience Portfolio, under Accomplishments. Shortly after he had relocated each of the individuals involved in the altercation, the train’s security arrived. As a regular on the train, Quin knew all of the guards personally.
“Mr. Black,” the security guard, Arthur, stated, nodding politely. “Thank you.”
“Welcome,” Quin replied.
“We’ll need your statement.”
“I’ll write it down.”
The security guard handed him the standard form, and Quin scribbled a few lines before handing it back to the officer.
“I’ll just keep my eyes open,” Quin said, gesturing to the car.
“Much appreciated, sir,” replied the security guard, and he scurried off to the next car.
For the rest of the trip, Quin paced casually back and forth, keeping a close eye on the now tense passengers who read their newspapers and chatted quietly. His height, massive build, and black scowl encouraged good behavior among the passengers. The train conductor came through once, nodding politely and murmuring, “Mr. Black,” in a quiet greeting.
The train arrived in Monapliet Station; hundreds of people swarmed the platform. As Quin moved forward weaving carefully through the crowd, a man to his right threw a punch. Before he knew it, a full-fledged brawl ignited around him, with punching, kicking, and insults. They shouted “non-believer” and “god-hater” and “it’s our god-given right.” After a few moments, Quin stood sweating over a number of brawlers who lay unconscious on the ground. The rest had fled or were being tazed by the Pomegranate City law enforcement.
It was turning into a rather unusual day, Quin thought.
“Officer Jones,” said Quin, reaching out to shake hands.
“Mr. Black,” Officer Jones greeted him. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” Quin nodded. “Have a nice day.”
He left the station and began to walk towards his house. A newspaper boy yelled, “Newspaper! One quarter! Pamphlet! On the house!” He threw a coin at the boy, and the boy tossed him a paper. Quin caught it neatly and opened it.
The headlines read “LIFE STARS HOLD CONFERENCE AT TRUCE CENTER,” “YOUNG MAN KILLED IN FOUNTAIN BRAWL,” and “ADMINISTRATOR ADERICK FROWNS UPON RELIGION.” The second and third pages told of the weather, how to safeguard personal residences, and of a missing girl. He flicked the newspaper boy another coin as a tip and strode down the street, stopping only at a vendor stand to pick up some fruit and pre-made sandwiches. He had no doubt that his father’s house was empty of any nourishment.
An hour later he reached the house, a modern construction which showed off the most recent advancements in technology. It sat on a rotating platform, which was programmed to turn different faces of the house depending on the position of the sun. It maximized heat efficiency during the cold months, and minimized heat buildup during the warm months. It also used solar power to fuel its many systems.
Quin stepped into the entry pod, which slid to the nearest door, like a horizontal elevator. He wondered when John was going to show up.
He frowned as he entered his father’s house. The kitchen television was on. As far as he knew, his father had been gone for months, so either the television had been on the entire time, or someone had recently been – or was still – here. He looked around cautiously.
“Life Star proponents have started their own radio station,” the newscaster stated, “and have begun broadcasting shows focused on converting others to their belief system. Their efforts include various shows focused on the politics of planet building, how Door legislation should be broadened to allow citizens to build and maintain them for private and commercial purposes, and proselytizing young adults looking for someplace to turn…”
Quin padded forward quietly, the content from the news show sliding through the back of his mind. Then he heard a small noise and froze as a much smaller person than him came barreling from the other room and tackled him. Quin braced himself so that when the collision occurred, he barely moved.
“Doggone it, Quin!” the gentleman responsible for the attack exclaimed. “Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! You’re as hard as a wall!” He grabbed his arm overdramatically and collapsed onto the nearest chair. “Why is it that I can never surprise you?” Popping back up from the chair cheerfully, apparently uninjured, he held out his hand. “Good to see you!”
“John,” Quin acknowledged. He and John had been friends for over a century, and John was known for staging periodic surprise attacks to “test Quin’s reflexes,” as he said.
“I’m so glad you’re back!” John began.
Quin headed for the kitchen to put away the groceries, knowing he was in for a full-on story.
“So, the Committee has been keeping this secret, something to do with your dad. I figured it out one day when I heard Drake and Tom talking. I may have been listening through a heat vent, but that is beside the point. So I did some digging around – almost got myself caught, too, but not quite – and came to find out it has something to do with Dad’s disappearance!”
“Disappearance?” Quin stated. It always bugged him a little that John called the man ‘Dad.’ He understood that John had basically been part of his family since they were kids, and that Grise was the closest thing John had ever had to a father, but still. The man was a selfish idiot and a traitor.
“Yeah,” John replied. “He said he went on vacation, but he has been entirely off the grid since he left, and he was supposed to come back three weeks ago.”
“So, after some digging around the office and listening at doors (and heat vents), I decided that maybe it would just be easier to come here and dig around and see if I could find anything suspicious. I am your best friend, after all, so I figured if I got caught, it would be fine. You know.”
“You’ll never guess what I found.”
John grabbed Quin’s arm and dragged him towards the living room; directly in the center stood a Door. Quin halted in surprise. This type of Door was not a typical door, not the kind of door which led from one room to another and was indicated by a wood frame of some sort. This Door was of the type which allowed the user to jump massive distances, to travel light years, with a single step. Quin knew a lot about these Doors, as a special agent for the military whose job it was to travel through them every day. But the Doors he travelled through were located in government facilities, hidden in difficult-to-find locations, or at least secreted away in a family basement. This one sat in the center of his living room.
“How did that get here?” he asked.
“I think your dad made it,” John said.
“But…” Quin frowned. Why would he make it and then leave it sitting in the middle of the living room for anyone to find? Unless… he wanted it to be found.
“I also think he wanted us to find it.” John began to circle the Door like a cat on the prowl. “But it’s not just that. Doors are hard to make. And I don’t just mean hard, I mean hard. It’s some of the most advanced science we have today, aside from planet construction. He’s smart enough though. But a Door, I mean, really?”
All of a sudden, John spun around and bolted towards the couch. From behind it he pulled out a small toolbox, opened it, and began to take out instruments of various sorts, commentating all the way.
“We should go through it. To see what’s on the other side. But first I need to make a few measurements – we wouldn’t want to destabilize a solar system, now would we? Or get chopped in half when we jump through!”
Quin frowned, feeling very hesitant, which was odd, as stepping through unknown Doors was something he did nearly every day anyway.
“But you see, there is something very odd about this Door,” John stated, suddenly changing conversational direction, “something very odd indeed. First and foremost it is the wrong colour.”
Quin turned back to look at it, nodding. Instead of a typical Door, which was almost like a blue film hugging onto a thin curtain of air, this Door was multi-coloured, although the effect was very subtle. He could see strings of purple and deep blue blinking amid the nearly invisible haze of light blue.
“Of course, lots of Doors are the wrong colour,” he continued, “but not wrong like this one is wrong. I’ve never seen a wrong Door this wrong before. Wrong Doors – the unstable ones – are usually slightly green, or have a pinkish tint. But this one has more than one colour. Does that make it dangerous, or does that make it special?” He pulled a wand from the toolbox, ran a wire from it to a boxy computer-like instrument and began to scan the Door. The computer began to print out a series of documents slowly.
“Secondly,” John added, “this Door has left a mark on the ground underneath it.”
Quin had noticed that too, but not thought it pertinent. It was a thin black line directly under the Door, almost like a scorch mark in the living room rug.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before.” John pulled away from the Door and looked at the readings on his scanner. Then he stepped over to the computer and pulled out the printed documents.
Quin raised an eyebrow. Whatever he was learning, it probably wouldn’t take long before it came pouring out of his mouth.
John shook his head and rapped the paper with his forefinger. “Well, that’s odd.” A frown settled onto his face as he absently loosened his tie. “According to these readings, this Door does not exist. It cannot exist. Except that it does exist and it can exist, but only because of these three numbers…this coefficient here…” he paused, scanning the sheet rapidly. “Quin, we need to go through.”
“No,” Quin said. “Too dangerous.”
“Quin, we need to go through.”
Quin raised his eyebrows.
John took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “Okay, I will tell you what. I will do some equations while you send some rats through. Then we can go through.”
He went to the hall closet and pulled out a chalkboard as Quin stood and watched. Quin remembered that his father, Grise, had used this very often, but this time it was completely erased – spotless, in fact. This was very odd. If the Door wasn’t evidence enough, that detail also seemed to indicate that he was hiding something.
“Well? Get going!” John demanded.
Quin rolled his eyes and went to where John had hidden the toolbox. There he found a cage with a rat in it. That had been the sound he heard earlier which had alerted him to John’s presence.
“You brought a rat.”
“Of course I did!” John made a face that communicated, ‘Do you even know me?’ and went back to scribbling equations on the blackboard.
Quin removed the rest of the equipment from the toolbox. In included a small leash, electrodes, some wires, and a tiny hat, all equipment which John had once explained as, “a ‘Rat On A Leash With A Camera.’ Clever name, eh? I made a little hat for the rat. A little army hat – I modeled it after yours. You know, the green one? It’s got a built-in miniature video camera with a wireless tap that sends its information back to the Door, which has a modem hooked to it that transfers the information straight to the computer. In addition, I wrote a program which, with wireless electrodes, allows us to monitor the rat’s vitals and take air and dirt samples from anything he touches.” John’s explanations were never simple, but always verbose.
The rats were standard – protocol now, ever since the incident where one of the Globe’s staff members had sent a robot through and confirmed that the location was safe. Then, an entire team went through and never came back. After the fact, it was determined that there was an undetectable gas that had never been encountered before which was poisonous for most living creatures, except for those that evolved in it, of course. Since then, standard policy was to send something through that could actually die, as opposed to a robot only designed to detect what it is designed to detect, and not unknown substances.
Quin taped the electrodes to the rat’s head, and attached the hat and leash. Then, he placed the wireless transmitter on the floor and pushed it partway through the Door. He took the rat and shoved it in, watching carefully as the computer began to transmit data.
Oddly enough, there was a pause before the data began to run.
“It paused!” John exclaimed from behind him. “There was almost a ten second pause before it started transmitting.” He came over and looked at the equipment over Quin’s shoulder.
“Yes,” Quin agreed. “Odd.”
Then an image appeared on the monitor.
“Is that a…” John leaned even closer. “A dump?”
Heaps of junk surrounded the rat. Old bed springs twisted into the air with tufts of grey pillow stuffing clinging to them. Smashed up machines dotted the dirty earth with old plastic bags, batteries, and bottles in scattered heaps nearby.
“Grise built a Door to trash?” Quin commented skeptically. “Seems atypical.”
“That is quite unusual,” John murmured. “Bring Raul back. Make sure he’s okay.”
“Yes, the rat! He has a name too, you know!” John reached out and pulled on the leash himself. It went slack, but the rat did not appear for a full ten seconds.
“He seems fine,” Quin noted, examining the rat closely.
“Maybe he’s going somewhere farther away than we’ve ever been before,” he muttered. “Let’s push him back through, to see if we can figure out where that place was.”
“One second,” Quin said, handing the leash to John. He went into the kitchen and cut up the apple he had purchased from the street vendor on his way home, and brought a small piece over to Raul. The rat ate it hungrily. He then pushed the rat through.
There was another ten-second pause.
The image flashed on screen: the camera bounced up and down as the rat ran forward into a lovely green orchard. The grass was neatly trimmed, and each tree grew equidistant from the next. Deep red fruits peeked through the thick foliage that dressed the branches.
“Trees?” John and Quin chorused. How could he have ended up in two places each time? Doors were… well, monolocus, or so Quin thought.
John closed his eyes, tapping his fingers against his temples. “Trees,” he muttered. Quin watched as the rat scurried around at the end of the leash, straining to escape into the beautiful, lush countryside. The vibrant colours radiated into the room.
“I think those are apples on the trees,” Quin pointed out. “And we just gave him an apple. Coincidence?”
“Oh… apples!” John exclaimed. “Apples, apples, apples! How could I be so thick? Pull him back through.”
Quin yanked on the leash and the image on the screen disappeared for ten seconds before Raul stumbled back into the room.
John bent down, grabbed the rat, and darted into the kitchen. He opened the freezer and dumped the rat in.
“John!” Quin exclaimed. “That’s air tight! Ethics committee!”
“Hush, Quin, it’s only for a minute! And the ethics committee isn’t here.” John frowned. He glanced at his watch. “Another thirty seconds.”
Thirty seconds later he pulled a perfectly fine, if slightly chilly, rat out of the freezer and ran back into the living room, practically tossing the rat through the Door as he skidded to a halt on his knees on the carpet.
They waited for an interminable ten seconds.
Then they saw a bright, clean beach appear before them. A hot, white sun blazed in the blue skies that stretched over a white-capped ocean, and tall, straight-trunked trees rose out of the sand. The rat scrambled over a log that lay in front of it, coming face to face with a lizard.
“Look out!” Quin exclaimed, gesturing to the lizard.
At that moment the lizard opened its mouth and burped. Flames licked along its tongue and over the edges of the log, right into the rat’s face.
“Raul!” John exclaimed, yanking on the leash. The rat stumbled backwards and into the Door. The screen went blank for ten seconds as they waited for the rat to reappear. As soon as Raul fell into John’s arms, the scientist jumped up, dumping the rat into Quin’s arms. “Pop lizards! That was a pop lizard! Those are on Mara!”
“So Grise went to Mara?” Quin frowned. This also seemed like unusual behavior for his father, given that their technology was several centuries behind Sagitta’s.
“No, no, no.” John pushed himself away from the computer, one hand gripping his hair. “No, no, no. That’s not it at all. The first one wasn’t Mara; the dump was filled with metal. Mara isn’t advanced enough to have all that metal.”
He strode over to the chalkboard, shedding his jacket and loosening his tie. “I need to think. If there are two or more places… time differences or possible… differentials…” he continued to mutter, and then trailed off into a series of barely intelligible words. “…cognitive mathematics… insanity… partial influence of the vector… coefficient…”
Quin stood behind him for a moment, watching as John absently erased Grise’s blank chalkboard over and over. Then, he carefully removed Raul’s equipment and placed him back in the cage. He also gave the rat a few more pieces of apple before turning his attention back to John.
“You know those ten seconds?” John drew a picture of a blank computer screen with the number ten. “This is what I would call ‘bad.’ This is unusual, weird, wrong, if you will. But it can’t be wrong, because it exists. But we should be worried. Yes, worried. Or maybe not. Who knows, really? Change is inevitable, after all.”
Quin listened quietly. Eventually John would get to a coherent point.
“But when you walk through a regular Door,” John continued, “do you forget where you are for a moment? No. Do you experience a moment of discomfort? No. Do you experience confusion? Only if you’re getting really old.” John began to pound the chalkboard with the chalk. Little pieces flew into the air and landed in a scattered pattern on the floor. “But the real question is: do you stop transmitting data? No!
“So, the rat left here and arrived there, but, for a period of time long enough for us to discuss his absence, he was somewhere else. Where was he? Where was that rat?” John rapped on the chalkboard once with his chalk and it broke in half, the free half flying sideways and shattering as it hit the floor. “Damn rat.”
He began to pace in front of the chalkboard.
“A moment. A space. Why? Limbo? Dead? Time travel? An invisible world? And Raul went three different places, so maybe that was just a fourth, or woods with ponds…” He gripped his hair as he descended into his mindless chatter once more. Then he spun around and began to scribble rapidly, numbers bleeding from the chalk and dripping down the black surface of the chalkboard.
Quin shook his head. John was gone, at least for the time being, visiting that place only mathematicians ever visited, full of lines and numbers and all sorts of things he couldn’t possibly fathom – nor did he wish to. He tidied up the remaining equipment, filled the toolbox, and placed it all back in John’s hiding place.
He glanced at John as he wandered back towards the kitchen. John was writing with both hands. He smiled, unwrapped himself a pre-made sandwich, and then threw himself into a living room chair where he promptly fell asleep to the sound of scratching chalk.
What did you think? Comment below or grab a copy here.