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I am writing a story in which two children, ages 12-14 years old, discover a portal to another dimension. The portal is roughly the size of an average door and has existed for five years prior to their discovery of it.

The location of the portal must fit all of the following:

  • It must not be in a private home
  • It must not be in a remote location, must be somewhere near a small city/suburb
  • The children can trespass into a location, but there must be a reason why they will do it (best bet is to ensure that it's accessible from a public place)
  • It must not involve passwords or secret codes; it must be immediately usable once found
  • It must not be disguised as another object (ex. a poster)

So where could such a portal be? How could it be hidden for five years but suddenly found by two children?

I would prefer the portal being found in an indoor setting, but you can suggest outdoor places as well.

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    Why not make it a time thing ? Like an event which happens once every 5 years and the children are at the right place at the right time. – user96551 May 23 at 12:12
  • Are you sure all of those criteria are necessary? Without knowing why they're there, it's hard to say – DM_with_secrets May 23 at 15:19
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    Welcome to StackExchange. Your question is well thought out but doesn't have a real answer. It's akin to asking, "what should I write?" Most of us did the same thing as new contributors, but there are better places to have that conversation. Please see What types of questions should I avoid asking?. – rolfedh May 23 at 19:58
  • It's possible that you could rephrase this as a more general "What do I do when I realise I've plotted myself into a corner?" type of question, without reference to your specific scenario, which might address the point made by @rolfedh – DM_with_secrets May 23 at 22:29
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    Put it in the back of an old wardrobe of an old man who suddenly and unexpectedly has children living with him. – Jacob Krall May 24 at 0:28
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Accessible through a crawl space that only the children can fit through. Possibly because it was used for storage for things that never got touched. Virtually every public building has some storage space.

Why other children have not reached it will need some explanation, but perhaps it's unpleasant and the children are the first ones desperate enough, or they are playing hide and seek against an unusually good opponent, or there aren't usually children in a situation to move about freely (it's in the back of the town hall, where the public isn't supposed to go, or a store where the owner has no children of his own).

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The children could find be the first to find the portal for a number of years for many reasons:

  1. It is only accessible by kids (like @Mary's answer) and has not been found by others because it is hidden/in a dangerous place, but these rebellious kids went there anyway.
  2. It is only accessible by climbing behind a washing machine (or another appliance) and looking around but before now the way behind was blocked by something.
  3. It was in a scary park, behind a scary house... and the kids only want in there now because the scary woman who lived there died and they were on a dare
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Alternate entrance to a locked room.

The lolly shop has a back room, either the owner "lost the key years ago" (perhaps it was taken by the very person who created the portal) or the owner knows what is there and keeps it locked.

It has a tiny window onto a back-alley; one day during a storm the glass is cracked by hailstones, or there are bars but the kids bring a crowbar, stack some crates at night, and climb in. What 12 year old wouldn't want to break into a candy store?

You can vary anything. Maybe there is a chimney, coal chute, some animal dug under the wall.

Or...

The old man (store owner/postman/library keeper/lighthouse keeper) disappeared and the kids went to find/rescue him.

In this case the kids are trying to do good rather than mischief. Depends how you want their characters to be developed.

Maybe his disappearance had nothing to do with the portal but they find it anyway.

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