Authors: L.M.J. Rayner
Copyright © 2012 L.M.J. Rayner
All rights reserved.
To all those that helped me on the way to getting this book into print-
To the Editors-
To the Editor in Chief-
To the Book Cover Artists and Designers-
To the Website Designer-
1 -MAGIC SHOW-
Mayhem. Constant sounds all around me, the splashing of water against the windows, nothing but a small rusty shell protecting me from the harsh outside. It was four degrees out there, even the wind wanted to get inside where it was warm. The pitter patter of the raindrops littering the hood, it harmonised, mimicking low level gun fire. I hate car journeys!
Alongside me are my dad and my best mate Eli, on our way to a magic show at the local theatre. I've always been fascinated with magicians, the ability to control a crowd by having them suspended in disbelief, well, it’s just magnificent. I feel uneasy riding in the front seat or being in a car in general. The terrifying idea of a slight mistake made by my dad could cause us to flip, crash and burn. The image of my father hunched over the steering wheel, lifeless and cold jolts into my mind. Me helpless, sitting there inanimately, whilst listening to my best friend scream for help. Burning alive, melting into the back seat, becoming unidentifiable. Looking back I don't see Eli, but a disfigured face, slowly drooping and falling into his own lap.
I sit there looking out of the cracked window at the smoke and fire, asking myself why didn't we walk, it wasn't that far. My concentration is broken by the sound of the radio in the car. I shake the thoughts from my mind, Atlas Cloud, sixteen and as paranoid as a bewildered old lady who is scared of the postman.
“You alright Atlas?” dad said, slowing the car down slightly.
“Yeah fine.” I said, realizing that I've been staring out the window stuck in my own thoughts for a good ten minutes. It was raining and the windows were glossed over with little droplets of water, thinking to myself that they come into existence and then are blown, reluctantly away off the car.
“You want a sour snake git face.” Eli attempted to say while stuffing almost an entire bag of strawberry laces into his mouth. I grab a green sugary snake out of his hand.
“Nom nom nom.” I bellow, making dad and Eli burst out laughing.
“So is he good then?” dad says looking in the rear view mirror at Eli.
“Yeah he's well good, I went there last week with Ma and Pa and he blew us all away.”
“What did he do?” I said butting in. “Dangle a bag of Haribo in front of your face.” I said laughing to dad. Eli always had a sweet tooth, ever since we were little. I could bribe him to do almost anything with a bag of liquorice. Two peas in a pod, inseparable most of the time, he's more my brother than my friend.
“We’re here!” said Dad with a surprising amount of joy in his voice and a cheeky little grin. I stepped out the car, pulling my coat over my head because it didn't have a bloody hood on it. The rain was getting heavier and felt more like little punches rather than droplets, it was dark and the car park outside the theatre was littered with puddles, all reflecting the moonlight as if it was a roller disco and they were lights in the floor. The rain washed away any evidence of humans from the tarmac. Cigarette butts, crisp packets, whatever we drop on the floor. Mother Nature cleans it away.
We got inside the theatre, sheltering our bodies from the weather. It was an almost run down venue. The wallpaper was peeling away in some of the corners, even the man behind the ticket stand looked antique and worn. He was made to wear a red fez hat and an even redder waist coat. He was a tall man; even though he was sat behind a wall of glass you could tell he was a giant of a man.
“Tickets.” The man said. He tilted his head at us and raised his eyebrows. Eli and I decided to stay back and let dad deal with it, he was behind a barrier but he gave me the creeps. After handing the man our tickets, he grabbed them and ripped them up, waving us off to the side, towards the stage.
“Enjoy the show.” He said, his voice lingering in the air, almost as if he was taunting me. We sat down, it was only seconds until Eli decided he needed to get up and get more sweets. It's my fault for pointing out the sweet stand in the waiting hall, damn my observation skills! It was cramped, sticky and a little uncomfortable, it was only a small venue, there wasn't many people here but it still felt crowded, as if we were all crammed into a storage cupboard with all the brooms and mops.
The stage was closed off with two big, almost menacing red velvet curtains, they felt out of place in this broken down hall, almost suspicious, with the gold rope border on the top, it was probably the only bit that got cleaned in this flea pit. Usually I would be a lot more uncomfortable sitting in a place like this but dad was there almost licking his lips in anticipation. Can't upset him now can I? Eli finally came back from the sweet stand with bags a plenty in his hands, you can tell that he couldn't decide what to get so he just bought as much as he could. He squeezed passed a couple who were sat near the aisle, not paying attention to his sweets he almost drops them all on the floor, he looked up after catching them and gave me a cheeky wink, to tell me.
“Did you see that?” Elias Grady, I call him Eli, medium height, stocky build, and dark brown hair. Almost complete opposites when it comes to appearance, I'm taller than him, thinner than him, smarter than him even though he denies it, he says
“If you’re smarter than me, then why am I better at Math’s?” He beats me on one Math’s test and he thinks he's friggin' Albert Einstein.
After a good fifteen minutes waiting, the curtains start to shimmer and slide apart, revealing a cracked wooden stage. It looked old and beat up but, oddly, still had that familiar oaky shine.
“Here we go.” Dad whispered in my ear with giddy expectation. He is the reason why I am so involved with magic, practicing simple card and coin tricks. I don't see him much; he was always away on business trips and other work related gatherings. Every time he came home, to cheer me up, he always had a new special magic trick to show me, but he never showed me how to do them. He would say
“A magician never reveals his secrets.” Always with a smug look on his face and then a wink. He had a chiselled jaw and a smile that infected you. I’ve got used to it now but it’s his eyes that worry me. They look like they have seen so much. His face trying to hide the story behind his golden brown eyes.
The lights in the theatre dim and the stage lights come on, illuminating the jet black back drop on the stage. It was silent, except for a small knocking sound in the background; it was gradually getting louder and louder, echoing around the theatre, bouncing off the walls. A shadow appeared on the wall at the back of the stage. It grew as the knocking got louder, both in unison. A tall, bearded man with long, dark blond hair stepped on stage, using a staff as a walking stick. It was as if they had a stereotypical magician machine out back, one button press and Dumbledore appears. He didn’t use his walking stick as an old man would, or so I’d imagine him to, but he used it as a mountain hiker would use a tree branch, banging the floorboards as he walked. No wonder the stage is so battered. He was wearing a hat similar to a cowboy hat and a long dark yellow trench coat with black buttons unfastened down the front.
He was holding a girls hand. She was short, in Goth clothes but without the make-up. She had dark blue hair in a sort of bob style. Everything together should have made her look a bit weird and out of place, but she didn't. She looked like she was meant to be there.
“Hello ladies and gentlemen, I am your entertainer this evening, Sebastian Farro, magician.” He said humbly, whilst bowing.
“And this is my trusted assistant Roko.” She nodded to the audience. “Tonight my friends, I will bring you in to the world of magic and show you that if you use your imagination, then anything is possible. Even the impossible.” He stepped to the side to let Roko take centre stage. “I will before your very eyes, make her disappear.” He said. He had all the criteria for a stage magician, the look, and the voice and the mystery. I've seen numerous disappearing acts on the telly and the computer, most can be solved easily with a slow motion cam or even good eyesight. Usually there's a trap door underneath them, or it’s a mirror illusion and they’re still standing there.
“He didn't do this one last time.” Eli whispered nudging me in the arm. “Should be good.”
“Hopefully.” I whisper back to him trying to sound as enthusiastic as him. I sense this is going to be a trick I've seen twenty times before.
The magician lightly grabbed the assistants hand and led her to the front of the stage. He then fluttered around her so that he was on the right of her. I guessed there would be some sort of special manoeuvring, don't want her to fall and hurt herself when that trap door opens.
“I will stamp my staff three times.” Farro bellowed out into the audience, just to make sure everyone heard him. “And on the third strike of the floor she will disappear. Keep your eyes open.” He said winking at me. It was pretty dark down in the audience, I doubt he could see anyone clearly and yet it looked like he winked straight at me. Farro raised his staff up and slammed it down onto the floor.
“One.” I mutter under my breath. Farro raised his staff again and then pummelled the ground with a much more forceful blow than before. The stage lights above him shook, as if they were getting ready to ruin the show by collapsing down on him. “Two.” I say again, surprised that I'm so enthralled by the drama. I glance at Roko, she's still standing there arms apart, with her eyes closed, waiting, ready for the third strike. Farro steps back slightly, as if he's going to jump into the crowd I notice the staff he carried had what looked like a skull on the top with green stones as the eyes. He lifted the cane above his head this time and then in one swift move he lunged forward as if he was getting on one knee and bowing to the audience. He shouted something out as he was moving, but it sounded like gibberish. He impacted the ground so hard this time that the stage cracked. Roko exploded into a flock of doves, her skin and bone disappearing, the doves becoming her, taking over her body and flying away. They flew into the audience and made the crowd gasp and scream. Some were scared of the illusion as if he were an evil demon, murdering a young girl on stage. “Amazing,” I have never seen a disappearing trick done with such flair and gusto. Eli jumped into the air and applauded, screeching and whistling with excitement. I look over at dad to see if he's erupted into applause, but he wasn't, he was just sitting there, staring at Farro, and I don't mean a quick glance. It was as if he was gazing into his soul. He must have loved it. I have never seen such a strange reaction to a trick before, half the audience were still wailing and cheering and the other half were silently taking in what they just saw.