A magician is a person with magical powers also called a witch, wizard or necromancer. Zayne and Zaneida were none of these. They were the other kind of magicians the ones who perform tricks of mind and senses. The siblings were ranked 478 of all the magicians in the world and they were once proud of it.
“Where did the doves go?” Zayne showed off his empty hat to the wide-eyed audience. “Perhaps the lovely Zenaida knows?”
Zenaida lifted the top off the box she’d been holding. Out flew two white doves to the gasps of the young crowd. Zayne raised his arms in triumph. As the applause died down, a tall woman wearing a green turban stood.
“Smoke and mirrors,” the woman shook her head. “These are mere tricks.”
Confused and doubtful whispers filled the small room.
Zayne tilted his head back and laughed. “It’s no trick.” He threw his arm out with a flourish. “It’s magic!”
The woman smiled and snapped her fingers. The two doves from Zenaida’s box disappeared then reappeared, one on each of the green-clad woman’s shoulders. The party-goers gasped. The woman waved her hands in front of the birds and the doves vanished.
“Where did they go?” Someone asked.
The woman snapped her fingers. “One. Two.”
Zayne felt a sharp pain on the top of his head as a dove suddenly nested in his hair and pecked away. His sister let out a yelp as the other swooped toward her face. They jumped around flailing their arms like maniacs trying to shoo the stubborn birds off. The audience laughed and cheered.
“My name is Verrica the Extraordinary Sorceress,” the woman announced, “and I know true magic.”
You may be thinking that true magic doesn’t exist; and once upon a time you were right. Now that has changed. Regular old magicians like Zayne and Zenaida have watched the noose tighten on their livelihood along with all involved in the industry, including their manager, Harry.
“We had three parties lined up and all of them cancelled in order to snag this Verrica instead.”
“All?” Harry repeated.
“On the spot,” Zayne said.
“I’m glad you weren’t there to see it, Harry.” Zenaida held her head between her hands. “She made complete fools of us.”
Zayne pointed to the bird poop crusted in his hair and Zenaida held up the tatters of what was left of her best pink wig.
Harry sighed. “I told you, the act can’t afford to lose anymore business.”
“There must be something left for us.” Zenaida said.
Harry shook his head. “Sorry kids. It’s over. Everyone wants real magic.”
“They can’t push aside every magician who’s trained hard because a few people have discovered they have supernatural abilities.” Zayne pounded his fists on the table. “Who cares if it’s real or not? Isn’t it all entertainment? A show?”
“Doesn’t matter what it is, it’s competition.” Harry stood and put on his hat. “So you’d better figure out a way to get back on the playing field.”
“How?” Zenaida asked.
“Find your own niche.” Harry shrugged. “Out magic magic.”
Outmaneuvering supernatural power with street tricks was impossible. The siblings signed gigs where they could but work was too far and few to keep crumbs in their mouths. They traded magic tricks for steady jobs.
Several years passed. Though resigned to their fates, the passion of the heart never completely goes away.
“That’s amazing! Do another.”
Zenaida had gotten on as a maid and sometimes regaled her co-workers with a trick or two.
“It’s not real magic.” Zenaida placed the wine glass that she had broken and “magically” repaired on the table.
“So what? It’s fun.”
Fun? Even as she brought out cards for another trick, an idea sparked.
Zayne was a grocer’s assistant who did coin tricks for the children who came in. The joy on their little faces melted his heart. Joy. Zayne’s mind lit up.
The siblings got together with the same concept. People were still interested in smoke and mirrors. The draw wasn’t true magic. It was the show, the entertainment, the thin space between truth and illusion where fun, joy and wonder reside.
Over the next year, they worked hard creating and practicing new while reinventing their image. It was mostly frustrating, but it paid off. They re-debuted as the Wonder Twins (Zenaida was two years older, but twins were more exciting than siblings) they challenged Verrica the Sorceress. The show was dubbed the showdown between the natural and supernatural. Who can tell the difference?
For all the razzle-dazzle, sparkly malarkey, haunts and daunts in the performances, only the magicians both old and new, illusionists and supernaturalists knew for sure.
The rest of the audience simply enjoyed the show. The spells were spectacular and the illusions were such clever feats they were fantastical. Zenaida and Zayne had found a way to out magic magic.
A/N: Words: 800 Pictures: 10
Ladies and gentlemen, I was going to enter the spectacularly extraordinary simlit exhibition that is the Monthly Simlit Short Story Challenge. Unfortunately, I was ill with a really bad infection this month plus school and work when I wasn’t in excruciating pain or knocked out from painkillers. Still, I didn’t want to break the habit of writing a story a month so I slapped True Magic together. This month’s topic was It’s Magic with a word max of 800 and 10 pictures. Please check out the stories submitted for this month. Read ALL the entries and vote for your top 3 favorite stories in BOTH the Novice AND Veteran categories. Top 3 in both categories–6 votes total–is required! Thank you for supporting SimLit!
Also, this idea was inspired by the actual “feud” that took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries between science and spiritualism. It was exemplified in the one and only Harry Houdini (yes, that Houdini) who spent a great portion of his career debunking spiritualists. Houdini represented using science and human ingenuity to accomplish feats and illusions (magic). While the spiritualists claimed to gain powers from the supernatural and would perform fortune telling, seances, and even necromancy (also sometimes billed as magic). For this story, I wondered, “what if the supernatural powers were real”.