Friday, February 5, 2016

There Is More Joy in Heaven

By Joseph Cunningham

[Tried my hand at a different genre some time ago; this is what happened.]
Philip Daniel Ambers stood tall and nimbly pranced around the stage under the spotlight.  Eyes of every color and size watched him breathe fire from his lips, pull green and red rabbits from his top hat, and even saw himself in half behind a box (and put himself together again) to a chorus joyous applause.  Far above the stage in back of the haze of fluttering straw particles he was being watched.  This was no ordinary night.

It was the summer circus in Little Rock.  A huge banner had been pinned up over the gigantic tent they put up over the race track every so often for ice cream socials and bluegrass festivals.  The sign read: “Summer Circus: the Best of 1986.”

Professor Ambers, as he called himself, was currently standing stoically in the middle of the stage, clapping his hands for quiet.  He only needed to clap twice.

“Ladies and gentlemen – your attention please!”  His eyes were black with whites on the sides, yet no color round the pupil in the middle.

“I will prepare to demonstrate to you what no magician in this world can demonstrate.”  There was a rush of breathing in that could be heard sweeping over the crowd.

At that moment, his handkerchief slipped from his hand and as he bent down to get it, his whole arm fell off and hit the floor.  He chuckled to himself and picked up both handkerchief and limb with the remaining hand, put them both back in place, and continued as if nothing had happened.  You could have heard a pin drop.

“I will point to one of you,” he said, his lips moving while his eyes froze still, “and he will tell you in detail the events that will happen in this room in the next 60 seconds.”

His arm flew up from his side and stopped suddenly in front of him.  His finger pointed to a young woman with scarlet hair.  She walked up on stage as if it were a planned trick; but it wasn’t.

“A woman in the back will scream and run out,” said the red haired girl.  Immediately a cry was heard from the back and Mrs. Madeline Peabody ran from the tent.  There was polite applause.  The professor was as still as glass.

“I see a raven,” said the girl; and a bird black as the night swooped down from the ceiling and slammed into the face of Professor Ambers, who didn’t even turn his head in reflex.  A few clapped; the rest were silent.  The room was quiet for a moment.

“All of you will run,” said the girl, “but first you will hear me speak.”

A thousand eyes were glued upon the girl and the magician frozen by her side.

“This man has bargained and his bargain is over.  June 6th, 1986.  You’re time is up Philip Daniel Ambers.”  The words slipped slowly out of her mouth in a syllabic rhythm: 6, 6, 6.

Just then a handle from the watchbox was pulled by a hand that had been waiting and watching from up there.  Cries and screams of every pitch shot through the air, and in mass confusion, every human being (save one) ran out of the tent as if chased by a ghost.  Even the hypnotized girl could be seen running unenchanted, her fiery hair waving.  For only a moment before, Philip Daniel Ambers had fallen through a trapdoor that had opened suddenly from under him.  It seemed an invisible a rope around his neck had caught him where he fell; and now his black eyes saw no more in the abyss underneath.  His body swayed as it hung, and his soul kept falling.

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