Several hands shot up from the crammed benches in front of the ramshackle stage. The carnival had arrived at its final stop, and the crowd had showed up with first-night enthusiasm. Everybody loves a big finish. And Mister Mysterio, Master of Magic and Mysticism, intended to give them one.
“Yes, you! The lady with the intriguing hat. Come right up. Don’t be shy.”
The volunteer tiptoed up to the platform where Mysterio took her hand with exaggerated chivalry and walked her to an oversized box festooned with patchy stars.
“And now, Miss…Sandra, thank you…Miss Sandra will enter the Shadow Box where I shall make her disappear!”
Sandra giggled nervously and stepped inside.
Mysterio rolled his shirtsleeves to the elbow. “Nothing up my sleeve.” He took off his worn bowler. “Nothing under my hat.” He stomped on the boards. “Nothing under the stage.” Then he bowed to the lady and closed the door with a click.
With a flourish of his wand, the magician tapped three times on each wall of the box. There was a sound like blowing a bubble in reverse, then he turned the knob and opened the door.
The only thing inside was an evaporating green mist.
The crowd erupted, and Mysterio luxuriated in the applause. But when he headed offstage rather than back to the box, the cheers turned to angry murmurs.
“Ah, ah,” he chided, wagging a white-gloved finger. “I promised to make her disappear. I never said anything about bringing her back.”
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