Summary: Gray and Tan apply logic to the situation.
NOTE: This is a very rough draft with no editing at all (per National Novel Wiriting Month rules) and is presented for amusement value only. Think of it as a periscope into my writing process rather than a coherent story!
There will most likely be spelling and grammatical errors afoot as well as flat out bad writing, info dumps, plot holes, contradictions/retcons, uneven characterization and pacing. These snippits are also posted out of order, so please refer to the Outline to figure out where it’s supposed to fit.
Clarke’s Second Law
There was a long pause.
“Why did you do that?” Tan finally asked, his ears pinned back and tail tucked between his legs. He’d slunk back to her side when the gong ended, but was looking everywhere but at the tree.
“I– I’m not sure,” Gray couldn’t look away from the long tunnel that had appeared in the tree. “I was asking for answers, I guess. You knock at doors–”
“It’s a tree, not a door.” Tan licked his nose and then sneezed unhappily. “It’s still a tree and it makes my head hurt.”
“Don’t think about it.” Gray was distracted from the surrealism of the moment by the threat of another seizure. Tan could handle things that made sense, but only up to a point. The contradiction the tree presented could cause harm if she didn’t find a way for him to explain it away. “Ah, here, it’s just a projection.”
“I can’t smell a projection,” the dog objected.
“It’s a prototype, obviously, something new we haven’t seen before; a combination of a real tree and a hidden door. Fancy tricks, that’s all, just a trick.”
Tan sneezed again, but he was starting to relax somewhat.
“It’s not a tree; it’s a door that smells and acts like a tree. We have lots of kinds of doors, right?” Gray said.
Tan shook his head and pawed at his nose. “It’s a door, not a tree. Door, door, door– I don’t like it, can we leave?”
Gray looked back at the doorway. “I think she went in.”
“I know.” Tan said, his whole body sinking towards the ground as he tried to get as far from the tree as possible without moving. “I think I can smell her, but if I try then I remember it’s a tree– door, door, door.” He rubbed his nose against a foreleg, then buried it in the old leaves and snorted in the scent of decaying forest to clear his mind.
Gray stuck a hand through the doorway, wincing, but nothing happened. While Tan was distracted she stepped all the way in.
The floor was hard, but biological and the walls of the tunnel appeared to be made of wood, although she couldn’t tell if it was truly part of the tree or manufactured. After a moment her eyes adjusted to the light and she turned to look back out into the bright circle of forest.
“I think it’s safe.” She ran a hand along one wall, absently tracing the raised patterns of the wood grain.
“Can you know please?” Tan asked, without looking up.
“That’s what you’re for,” she teased gently and the hound sighed, then shook himself and trotted through the doorway with his eyes tightly closed.