I submit this hastily written piece for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge. BTFO.
“And for my next trick…” the magician said as the flames died down.
Doug leaned on the table, fighting the peer pressure to applaud with the audience. It’s a dime store trick. He’s got a torch under his sleeve. Same shit. Same Antiqua.
He emptied his glass of champagne, clapped a couple of times, looked at his equally disinterested date, checked his phone messages. Nothing was happening in cyberland. Figures.
“…I will need a volunteer,” the magician said. “You, sir.”
Doug noticed the Magician pointed at him. He looked around hoping he chose someone else.
“Yes, you sir.”
Doug looked at his date, who rolled her eyes leftward. She was blonde like lonely men dreamed about, built like sea bound sailors lusted about. He knew she would sleep with him that night. She’s paid in full.
Had to look like a good sport. “Ok,” Doug said and rose from his seat. A ragged chorus of cheers rose from the audience. He stood in front of the magician and waited to become a spectacle.
The magician was a short, roundish Trinidadian man with a crinkled straw hat, a simple blue blouse and slacks . The hotel billed him as a folk magician who performed authentic West African and Caribbean Indian tricks. “You no seem impressed with magic,” the Magician said, his dark face scowling.
“Seen better at childrens parties.”
“Then this one impress. I tell you story.” The Magician turned and fumbled through a burlap pouch tied to his waist by a woven belt. He pulled out a sachet.
“In de’ day before the White Man come, our world was the island. We knew nothing of the world beyond. But then the White Man come and my ancestor found the world was so big. Then the Conquistores took my ancestors land, everything. One ancestor gathered a handful of earth from his village and put it in this pouch. He say, this is our earth and no one will take it away. There are many earth pouches like this. This one was passed to me by my great-great grandfather.”
Get on with it Uncle Remus, Doug thought. His phone vibrated in his pocket but he had to know where this story was going.
“Today, I will give you this earth. Stand here,” the magician pointed to a well-lighted spot. Doug shrugged his shoulders and stood in the place. The Magician opened the sachet, then poured the earth at his feet, then walked backwards drawing a circle around him. In less than 30 seconds, Doug stood inside an earthen circle.
“This is now your earth,” the Magician said, pointed to the circle. He outstreatched his arms, “This is our earth. May I see your phone.”
Doug reluctantly handed the Magician the phone. “I see on this phone that there is a signal. Five bars. I can make a call.” He showed it to a woman in the front row to confirm this was true. The Magician handed Doug the phone. “Do you see a signal?”
Doug checked the phone and the readout said, “No Signal.”
“Make a call,” the Magician said.
Doug called his voicemail, but only static answered back. He knew this island has cell phone towers and internet connection, but the phone was dead. Something else was odd.
The scene around him was blurred, and he could hear voices but they seemed disconnected, as if someone was talking across a pool. He looked at the magician, who glowered.
“There is no signal in your world.”
“This is stupid.” Doug took a step forward outside the circle’s perimeter.
“Uh-Uh-Uh. This is our world. Not yours,” the Magician said, pushed him lightly backward. “Our earth. Our water. Our air.”
Doug slapped his hand away and stepped forward, and immediately started choking. “Can’t breathe,” he gasped. He feared he was having another heart attack.”
“You are not in your earth. You in space. No air in space.”
Doug stumbled backward into the circle and he inhaled a thick draught of air. He looked to the magician, to strangle him. Yet, all he could see of the Magician was smudged impression as if he was behind frosted glass. The glass grew more opaque.
“Your earth is farther and farther away, as the sun is from the Earth. Soon it will be as far as the Earth is from Heaven.”
Drugs. Hypnosis. It had to be. One of those weird Indian mushrooms. He reached out to the translucent wall that bordered his earth. It’s surface was cold. Soon, the wall darkened. All was black around him.
“Let me out!” He pounded on the wall. “I want out!”
He felt around the wall for an opening. He even tried to jump as high as he could, feeling around for a handhold or something he could use to escape his earth.
Exhausted, he fell to his knees. The solitude felt as real as the walls around him and he longed for another voice, even the bad breath of the people he loathed.
Voices and light struck his senses like gas fumes. The wall- gone. The audience sat at their tables, applauding and cheering madly.
The Magician extended his hand. “Your earth does not exist anymore. I have swept it away.”
Doug looked downward. The earthen circle lay in a neat pile at his feet. He stumbled back to his chair. “Ohmigod. That was so neat. You really thought you were trapped in there,” the hooker said.
“You could see me?” Doug said.
“Yes. You were like freaking out.”
The scene around him appeared vibrant, anxious with life that he had never noticed before. Wind nudged the dry palm trees. The waves churned and crashed on the bone white shores. People chatted, their faces lively and orange in the torchlight.
He put a one or two 100 dollar bills on the table in front of his paid companion. “You’re paid up.”
That evening, he called his wife and told her he was coming home.