Magician’s Death - alignthougths

Magician’s death is a short story about a famous magician Hugo Xander who dies during his performance. This fiction reveals a deep conspiracy and is one of the interesting suspense short stories you’ll find online.

Part-I

“Hi, Marie, are you free this evening?” Sheriff Jamie Jenkins’s voice sounded different on the phone.

Marie replied briskly, “Yes, is there any case?”

“Oh, my dear, you are so workaholic that you cannot think anything beyond your work.”

Jamie sounded impatient. “I have managed two tickets for a magic show. Yeah… yeah…I know, it is nothing new for a Sheriff like me, but Hugo Xander’s magic show is different.” Jamie explained.

“Hugo Xander? The mysterious Bullet Man?” Marie asked.

“Yes, of course, he is,” Jamie replied, “The venue is Queens Museum, close to your house. Get ready at 5 pm sharp.”

“Thanks, a lot dear, I’ll definitely go,” Marie said.

“Only we two, no one else,” Jamie disconnected the line.

Marie smiled mischievously; he wanted to spend a couple of hours together. She looked at the wall clock; it was half-past four. Jamie would pick her up from the office, so, she still had half an hour time in hand. Marie searched the name Hugo Xander in her phone and the picture of a tall, lean man above fifty years of age, dressed in a black coat, trousers, and pointed hats appeared on the screen. It was his only official attire.

No one had seen him in any other clothes. There was a bio note of the magician. He was born in Greece, but brought up in London, so, he speaks fluent British English.

Later in his life, he shifted to New York and currently a US citizen. However, the man hardly stayed in one place. He traveled across Europe and America. He was well known for his bullet trick. In the show, the magician shoots his assistant with a pistol fully loaded with bullets, but the man survives.

The game was nothing new; everyone knew that this type of guns always had two or multiple barrels, and only one had real bullets, others had mere gun powders or false cartridges. The trick was old but risky and, people still loved this performance. Sometimes, people loved to be foolish.

Marie kept the mobile phone in her bag; shut downed the laptop and placed it within its cover. Then, she draped her black overcoat on her jeans trousers and a cotton shirt. Jamie would appear at any time. Hurriedly she started combing her hairs, and at that very moment, someone knocked at the door.

It was no other than Jamie, he smiled, “Ready for the show?”

Marie nodded.

“Good, where is your assistant Tanya?” Jamie looked around.

“She is on leave.” Marie replied, “I thought it was for me.”

“Of course, for you exclusively,” Jamie replied and asked politely to get into his car.

The Queen’s Museum was not too far from her office. The show was about to start at the ground floor auditorium. There were digital banners everywhere depicting Hugo’s oblong face with a pointed beard and black hat. In some pictures, he was standing with a magic stick or wand.

“The show of bullet man is nothing new in the US,” Jamie said, “Still…..”

“I know Jamie; I am not expecting a Harry Potter magic here.” Marie smiled, “but each time these magicians invent new tricks to fool us, I like to solve those tricks.”

“Really? It is very difficult to decode Hugo’s magic.” Jamie replied.

They went inside the auditorium and occupied balcony seats, specially reserved for the Sheriff and his companion. The show started within a few minutes, and at the beginning, Hugo performed some elementary magic like changing colors of plastic flowers, vanishing cards, and reproducing them on somewhere else. Then finally he introduced his assistants Claudia and Alexander. The first one was a young woman of the early twenties, with bright golden hairs, blue eyes, and an envious figure. She was dressed in a fancy purple gown with high neck bodice and lace covered with transparent sleeves. The lower part of her gown had made a multi-layered appearance, which created an hour-glass shape figure.

The second one was a muscular man of mid-thirties, with brown bushy hairs and same colored eyes. He was dressed in a full white shirt and formal black trousers.

They started showing dangerous games like the cutting of women in half, sword cabinet, water torture cell and finally the levitating woman. None of these magic was new, but their performance had something unique. There was no visible trick box or lifeline support; it looked like that the magician performed all these tricks without any technical help.

“Amazing, old wine in new bottle,” Marie appreciated.

“Now the bullet catch,” Jamie looked at his wristwatch, “It is the last one.”

On the stage, Alexander and Claudia started the necessary arrangements. Hugo brought out a pistol and fired at a wooden cut-out of a human figure. No doubt, it was a real bullet, its deafening noise echoed across the closed auditorium.

Some of the audience put hands on their ears and some closed their eyes in fear. Now he asked his assistant Alexander to stand in the dummy’s place. Without putting anything in between Alexander and the firearm Hugo fired him, but Alexander remained unharmed. Later Alexander brought out a cartridge from his mouth.

The entire auditorium broke into applaud, the magician bowed to the audience, and the curtain dropped gradually.

“Amazing, really amazing, only a small thing he forgot,” Marie said.

“Yes, what is that?” Jamie asked with a smile.

“Those who don’t use firearms, they cannot make a difference between a cartridge and a bullet. He brought out a cartridge from his mouth, not a bullet; it means it was already inside his mouth, not fired from the pistol.” She replied with a smile.

“Oh, Marie, come on,” Jamie mischievously said, “If he gets half of his audience like you, the man will probably be dead. But one thing you have to admit, he did not even change the pistol or put any glass or board in between.”

“I admit uniqueness,” Marie got up from her seat and started walking towards the exit door. She noticed a crowd at the entrance.

“The second show will start within half an hour,” Jamie said.

“How many shows does he perform every day?” Marie asked with a surprise.

“Two shows every day,” Jamie replied, “The first one starts from 6 pm to 7.30 pm, and the second one lasts 8.00 pm to 9.30 pm.”

“Thanks, dear, thanks a lot for such a lovely evening.” Marie thanked her friend. She noticed a pinkish shade on Jamie’s fair cheek.

Part-II

“So, you had a lovely evening yesterday?” Tanya mocked Marie, “The magician must have done some spells on you and Jamie.” Marie went pink.

“We can go again tonight if you like,” Marie said.

“After the office?” Tanya asked.

“Yeah, at the second show, and today is the last day of his performance,” Marie replied.
Tanya looked tempted, “I am a big fan of Hugo, but half of his show is performed outside the States.”

“Well, then book two tickets online, take my debit card and do it now,” Marie said cheerfully. Really, the performance had uniqueness; she wanted to see it again.

Autumn evenings were colder than daytimes; today it was not only chilly but also drizzling. She intentionally did not take her Camaro and preferred to use the subway train. However, rain and wind gust could not decrease the show’s popularity. The auditorium looked a little more crowded than last evening.

Marie and Tanya occupied the same balcony seats, and the performance started. One by one Hugo presented his magic without any flaw, and finally, the last game started.

The magician again convinced his audience that it was a simple pistol with real bullets and fired at the dummy with deafening noise. Tanya looked scared to see the effect.

“My God, it’s real!” She was about to scream.

Marie nodded, “Yes, it is real, but he will manage to survive.”

Today, he did not shoot but asked Alexander to shoot him instead. Alexander pressed the trigger and fired; Hugo jumped backward with a loud cry, just like yesterday his assistant did and, fell onto the floor with a loud bang. He acted like a dead man and remained motionless on the stage for a couple of minutes. Marie knew he would rise anytime to accept applauds from the audience.

“He will suddenly rise and will bring out a cartridge from his mouth,” Marie said.

However, several minutes passed, but nothing happened. Hugo remained on the ground; blood oozed out from his black coat. Initially, the wound was not visible due to the black coat. Claudia shrieked, Alexander ran towards him, and the curtain dropped abruptly.
Tanya touched her hand, “What’s happened, Marie? Is there anything wrong?”

“I think the man is dead,” Marie replied. “It must be a pathetic accident, Tanya and we cannot do anything here. Let’s go.” Marie left her chair. Half of the audience had already vacated the auditorium. She heard sirens of police vehicles and ambulances. Tanya followed her with a heavy heart.

Suddenly an announcement stopped them, “Miss Marie Claire if you are still in the auditorium, may you please visit the green room? We need your help. Thanks and advance apology for bothering you.”

“Strange, how did they know that I am here?” Marie surprised.

“We booked tickets online, and it required some personal data, where I put your designation as a private detective,” Tanya replied.

“Oh, yeah, we are living in the age of big data.” Marie smiled, “Let’s go then.”

She walked hurriedly towards the green room located at the end of the crowded lobby. People were looking worried as well as scared; they stepped aside to see her running towards the opposite side. Finally, when they reached into the green room, they found Hugo’s bloodstained body was lying on the carpet, and Claudia was standing still as a puppet.

“Marie,” she raised her eyes and found Jamie was standing next to the body, “She is Marie Claire, the famous detective, who has assisted me in many cases.”

Marie waved at the crowd surrounding the body. She did not know any of them except Claudia. Hugo’s male assistant Alexander was not among them. The others might be technicians and organizers. A middle-aged man with white whiskers and fleshy face walked closer to her.

“Hi, Miss Claire, I am Albert Schiffer, the show organizer and President of Angel Wing. It is a charitable organization, which raises funds for war victims.” He introduced himself.

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Schiffer,” Marie replied, “I am sorry for this mishap, I think you had organized this show for fundraising?”

He nodded his head, “Unfortunately yes. And, Hugo was not taking any fee. Today was his last show.”

“When did he die?” She asked.

“The doctor declared him spot dead.” He showed a young man standing next to his right.

“Hi ma’am, I am Dr. William Harder, a medical practitioner. He died on the spot. Two bullets together pierced his heart. If I am not wrong, the murder weapon was an automatic double barrel pistol.” He replied.

“Where is his assistant Alexander?” Marie asked.

“He has been arrested,” Claudia replied, “still shocked.” She sobbed, “The show was my only source of income, and now it is gone. I am a single mother of two; I don’t know how to survive.”

Marie felt sympathetic but did not show her emotion. She looked at Jamie, “I think it is an unfortunate accident. Bullet catching is a risky trick; if something goes wrong, it may kill the performer. So, I think……”

“No, ma’am,” Claudia shrieked, “It is not like that. I know someone tricked him to death. Hugo never went wrong. He showed this trick over the last twenty years……”

“Claudia, no one knows when death will come, and when it comes, a slight mistake can be fatal. I am sorry, but I personally think that it is just an accident.” Marie said.

“Marie,” Jamie said, “I also thought like that, but Claudia has shared an odd secret. Do you know Hugo did not use real firearms on the stage? It was not a multi-barrel pistol, but entirely a false one, a toy pistol. However, this pistol was real. Claudia thinks someone has just replaced the false one with a real one.”

“Impossible,” Marie discarded, “When he fired at the dummy, it sounded real. I thought that it was a multi-barrel automatic pistol.”

“It’s an amplifier ma’am. I played the recorded sound of a real pistol from the backstage, and the sound system made the magic. The dummy already had that hole. He showed the other side of the dummy to the audience, so, they thought that the bullet had made the hole.”

Claudia sobbed again, “Believe me, ma’am, the flash, the smoke, the deafening sound all is a magician’s trick. Actually, earlier, he used multi-barrel automatic pistol, but recently the US Government banned it. So, he did not take a risk and picked up an entirely false pistol.”

She paused, sobbed and, again said, “All of his equipment was self-made. I know very well that all the pistols are false and we have five more pistols in the bag. ALL ARE FALSE.”

She indicated her index finger towards a jute bag placed on a wooden chair.

Marie walked towards it and opened its mouth. She looked inside the jute bag; it had only five pistols. All were toys; only the sixth one was missing.

Marie did not imagine that world-famous sorcerer Hugo could use such simple techniques to fool his audience. She nodded, “I really amazed, Claudia. I have used firearms many times, still could not identify those simple tricks.”

“They look real, Ma’am.” She replied, “Hardly anyone can identify. We often face problems during airport security checking, but Hugo had the permission of carrying these staffs.”

“I also could not figure out,” Schiffer remarked, “though I am a gun collector.”

“That was the uniqueness of Hugo’s magic, Marie,” Jamie said, “I hope now you can understand why I have called you here.”

Marie was still in a dilemma but accepted the fact that the case had a complication. Though Jamie had arrested Alexander, he intentionally did not kill Hugo. If Claudia was right, someone might have replaced the toy gun with a real one.

“May I see the pistol?” Before finishing her words, a policeman handed over a plastic. She examined it; the bag had a semi-automatic pistol with two barrels and two triggers. Pressing one trigger would automatically lead to firing from two barrels simultaneously.

“It’s no toy, Marie.” Jamie said, “A fully loaded pistol. This brand is banned in the USA.”

Now Marie understood why Claudia was looking so remorse. If she could not produce the magic pistol and the person who had intentionally replaced it with a real one; the entire team would be in jail in charge of carrying banned weapons.

Marie emptied the barrels and raised her eyebrows. Each barrel had four bullets, not six. If her assumption was not wrong, someone fired two more bullets before killing Hugo.

“Where is the toy pistol, then?” Marie asked herself, but Claudia thought she was asking her.

Claudia sobbed, “I have no idea.”

“Alexander too replied the same,” Jamie added.

“Who usually takes care of the equipment?” Marie asked.

“We do it, ma’am. After the first show, we gathered everything and prepared them again for the next show. I saw Alexander put the false cartridge inside the barrels and fired twice in the dressing room.” She sobbed again. “Either Alexander or Hugo checked the pistols before every show.”

“Did you leave the pistol unattended any time?” Marie again asked.

“Only for a couple of minutes, ma’am,” she replied, “When Hugo was showing the sword chamber game, and I was inside the box, Alexander was attending it. At the end of the game, Alexander exchanged the boxes, and I came out unharmed. The entire thing took only five minutes.”

She paused and replied, “No one was allowed to enter backstage, except the host and us. Mr. Schiffer appeared only once for informing us about the showtime. I went front stage for delivering his message. It took only a few minutes, and again I came back.”

Marie noticed Mr. Schiffer looked uneasy, “I did not stay for long, ma’am.” He explained.

“I’ll try my best to find out the culprit.” She promised.

 

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Mala Mukherjee was born in Kolkata, India and began her literary career in her mid-twenties when her short stories were published in various websites during Halloween. She is an academician by profession. She has completed her Doctoral Degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India and currently working as an Assistant Professor in a research institute. She is an author by passion, an impulsive writer, who enjoys writing the horror story, paranormal and fantasy fiction.