We watched him unpack the leather bound boxes, producing all manner of strange objects; hats, scarves, candles and parts of some complicated contraption. Already a crowd had started to gather, ladies, gentlemen and even children, though he was obviously far from ready. He had no assistant to help, nor, I believe, would he want one. Each object, no matter how seemingly unimportant, paid he the utmost attention, and placed it so precisely that we saw how truly a master of his art he was.
Now, with everything set as he would wish, and with the crowd now so large that several shoppers in the square had begun to complain, he stood before them all, dressed in top hat and tail coat, his gloved hands raised to command attention.
‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ said he, his voice rich and full of control. ‘Today you shall bear witness to such wonders as you have never before seen. Today you will question truth, logic and even yourselves.’
We could not help but be drawn in by his speech, and as he calmly demonstrated his abilities, starting with the levitation of a glass orb, followed by the sudden vanishing of an ornately carved cabinet, we admitted that we were indeed witnessing wonders.
‘And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, I require a volunteer. Ah, yes, madam, if you would please step forward. Yes, yes, here we are now.’
Astonished as we were, we found ourselves stepping forward, and, after he had placed a cushion seated chair before us, we sat in front of the crowd, awaiting the master’s instructions. Up close, we could see that his white collar was somewhat stained, his jacket far from clean also. Yet his eyes, they were still sharp, bright and inspecting us with rapt attention.
He held out a pocket watch, instructing us to watch as it swung from side to side. We felt our eyes slowly growing heavy, and we faintly heard the master speak again, though now he sounded far away, all but an echo in our ears. Our eyes now closed fully and a fog, thick but somehow light, filled our head. For how long we stayed in that fog filled place we do not know, but now we heard the master speak again. Still we did not hear what he said, but we knew his meaning. The fog began to drift away, and we felt as though wings had sprouted from our shoulders and were lifting us up to the skies.
‘Now open your eyes.’
Our eyes opened.
No, my eyes opened.
‘You alright there, love? Gave me an’ the boys a right nasty scare seeing you collapse the way you did.’ The man standing over me had a rough appearance, but looked genuinely concerned.
‘I collapsed? But–’
I sat up and looked around. People were rushing past along the high street, going in and out of shops, sparing not a glance at us. ‘Where am I? Who are you?’
‘I was just about to ask you the same, love.’