–Hit the BarnesAndNoble.com Top-50 Bestseller List
–Hit the Amazon.com Bestseller List in the “Magic and Wizards” category
–Winner of the National Indie Excellence Book Awards (DVD-Fiction)
–Winner of the London Book Festival (E-Book)
–Two-time Winner of the Los Angeles DIY Book Festival (E-Book, Audio)
–Second Place in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards (Audiobook)
–Finalist in the ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Awards (Audio)
–Two-time Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards (SF/F, Audio)
–Fallen Angel Reviews Recommended Read
–Flamingnet TOP CHOICE Award for Young Adult Fiction
–Third Place for the Preditors and Editors Best SF Novel Award
–Honorable Mentions from the Hollywood, New York, New England, and Beach Book Festivals
Parallel Worlds LLC
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
PARAWORLD ZERO: BOOK ONE OF THE PARALLEL WORLDS SERIES
Copyright © 2008 by Matthew Peterson
Published by Parallel Worlds LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher, except for brief excerpts in connection to reviews or articles.
Cover art and chapter illustrations by Matthew Peterson
To my loving wife and to our five wonderful boys,
who prayed and prayed for my dream to come true.
Many people have played a role in the creation of my book, but none more than
my family. For over a year, my little children prayed in earnest for someone to publish Paraworld
Zero. Their sweet prayers were finally answered. I would like to thank them for their
My wife deserves more gratitude than I can give. She has been the pillar of
strength that has kept me going all this time. Her inspiration has made my book what it is today.
Thank you, my dearest friend.
Other family members—especially my parents, my wife’s family, and my “almost”
twin brother, Paul—have also lent me their support and encouragement. Thank you, guys. I love
Many thanks go to the authors at the online writers groups I participated in.
I wish you all success. Lastly, I’d like to acknowledge the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Lloyd
Alexander, and Douglas Hill. Without their inspiring books I never would have started this
project. They gave a young boy the power to dream. And now I can share that dream with
Table of Contents
The woman was dying, and no one on Earth would mourn for her when she was
gone. Not a soul would know of the secrets she possessed or of the ultimate power that emanated
from within her limp body. The hope of the universe was about to be lost—that is, unless she
arrived at the hospital in time.
A torrent of watery darts hit the windshield as the ambulance squealed around
another corner. The hospital was not much farther. A spark of lightning erupted in the night sky,
as if to point the way the ambulance should go. Rumbling sounds resonated from the darkness
above, accompanied by a faint groan of atmospheric indigestion echoing in the distance. The
storm, like the mighty hand of a demon, buffeted the vehicle with its cold fist, but the driver
“We’re losing her,” a paramedic cried.
“Come on, lady. You can make it,” another said.
The vehicle skidded to a complete stop, and the back doors flung open.
Interns rushed to help with the gurney, but in the process, one of them slipped on the wet
concrete and lost his grip, causing the stretcher to jolt. The poor woman, her skin infested with
blistered lesions, lifted her head and moaned. One of the students gasped.
A paramedic took hold of the gurney and entered the emergency room. He tried
to keep his eyes away from the grotesque figure in his care, tried not to even breathe the same
air that spewed from her deformed lips and nostrils. Visions of horrible diseases filled his
mind, but he dispelled them with the thought of a quick dispatch to labor and delivery.
A consternated expression etched itself across the gynecologist’s face. Word
of the woman’s arrival had spread quickly. The doctor peered at the sores on her face and arms.
“What happened to her?”
“I dunno,” the paramedic said. “She’s all tripped out and won’t say
“Someone found her in a park and called it in,” he added. “She’s not
contagious, is she?”
The gynecologist winced but remained silent. He looked closer at the gruesome
sores on her body, then pulled up her sleeve and discovered more pustules on her arm. He checked
her legs and found that they too were infected.
“I have no idea what this is. Almost looks like she’s been exposed to
something.” He turned to a young nurse. “Do an ultrasound and get blood and tissue samples. Keep
“Aren’t ya gonna set up a quarantine or something?” the paramedic
“I want to know what we’re dealing with before we put the whole city in a
panic. It could just be an allergic reaction.”
The woman on the gurney jerked upright, as if waking up from a nightmare. “My
“Calm down, ma’am. We’re here to help.”
“My son… Simon… His name is Simon,” she mumbled. “And his… And…” Her eyes
Just then, the doctor noticed the blood and discharge on the sheets. “Nurse,
delay that order. We’re not going to have time for tests.” The patient arched her back and
screamed. “Her baby wants to come right now. Let’s get ready.”
The paramedic left, and the nurses took charge. They moved the pregnant woman
directly to a birthing room. The windows streamed with rushing water, and the howling wind fought
against the thick glass. Ferocious thunder hammered the building, making the surgical instruments
vibrate. One nurse held up a sterile gown for the doctor to put his arms through while another
nurse doused the woman’s belly with clear gel.
The doctor held her hand gently. “What’s your name?”
The monitor picked up a huge contraction, which surged throughout the woman’s
body like a tidal wave. She clenched his fingers in a vice-like grip.
“Forget the ultrasound,” the doctor said, releasing his hand and stumbling
past the nurse. “I can already see the head. That was fast. Ma’am, I need you to push.”
The woman held her breath and pushed. Her face turned red. She let out a deep
sigh and pushed again. Beads of sweat collected on her forehead.
“Almost there…” the doctor said mechanically. “Almost there…” A twinge of
nervousness crept into his voice as three pustules on the woman’s skin burst. He adjusted his
hands, avoiding the thick liquid that oozed from the open sores. “Just one more push.”
Within moments, a baby’s cry filled the room. The doctor picked up a plastic
syringe and suctioned the amniotic fluid out of the newborn’s small mouth. A nurse handed him a
pair of surgical scissors.
“Congratulations! You have a boy.” He snipped the umbilical cord.
Suddenly, an explosion of bright blue light sprang from the baby and
shattered the glass in the doors and windows. The medical personnel dropped to the floor. A
whirlwind of pastel light filled the once-bland room, and a strange mist arose from somewhere
below. The wisps of sparkling color danced upon the plumes of thick smoke and vapor, making it
hard for anyone to focus his or her eyes. The doctor looked up, squinting to see through the
chaos, and gasped as he witnessed the infant emerge from the translucent smoke.
Simon was floating in the air.
“Oh, my…” cried a nurse from beneath a table. Breathing hard, almost to the
point of hyperventilation, she made the motions of a cross on her chest.
Simon looked in her general direction, his brown eyes wide open and his arms
flailing about. He drifted towards the bed, the smoke parting on both sides of his frail body as
he moved, and came to rest in the arms of his mother.