Growing up, I’ve always been into magic. I got one of those kits for Christmas in elementary school, and I had been practicing since. Until recently, anyway, but I’ll get into that. I’ve never considered myself good enough to pursue any kind of career, but I was pretty well known in high school and competed in all the talent shows and everything. I even performed at Prom.
I continued throughout college, though with less frequency. Just occasionally to impress friends with a card trick here or coin trick there. After I got my undergrad, I moved to a new city and began working on my graduate degree.
I worked as a server at a local bar for a while, but the joint shut down a few months ago. Employment opportunities were thin, and I was starting to get tight on money. That’s when an old acquaintance from high school, Kaylee, messaged me on FaceBook. Apparently, she had also moved here and was working with the city for some kind of festival. She said they needed some street entertainers, and she had seen that I was in town and remembered my magic shows from school. She asked if I was interested in performing, and gave me the details.
The festival was three nights, each night lasting around four hours. All I would have to do would be walk around and pull tricks for people, going at my own pace and interacting with whoever. I would be paid a lump sum of $200, though I could be tipped as well. Additionally, I would be given a free dinner ticket every night to use at any of the tents; knowing the price of festival food, that’s kind of a steal. I took it pretty much instantly; the job sounded fun and low stress, I needed the cash, and I definitely could use the free dinners.
The festival was only about a ten minute walk from my house, and I had all the supplies I needed already, including a costume. The first night, we had to show up an hour early to get set up and everything. It was nice to catch up with Kaylee, and I got to meet a variety of people which was nice since I was pretty new to the city still.
The first two nights were quite enjoyable. It was nice to be out performing again, and most people were easily impressed. Essentially, I could take breaks whenever I wanted to, so if I was feeling tired or burnt out I could recover. The food was tasty as well, and the dinner break was generous. I also made a decent amount in tips, which I was pleasantly surprised about.
The third night, things were essentially the same for most of the evening. In the last hour, I was performing a couple of tricks for a woman. My final trick was fairly simple, just the whole pulling a coin from behind her ear gig. I did make it flashy and played around with her quite a bit, and she was reasonably impressed. After, she slipped me a $5 and wished me a good night. Feeling satisfied, but also tired, I was willing to sort of take the rest of the night off for the most part. Then, I heard someone clapping.
I turned and looked, and saw a man in an alley. He was likewise dressed like a magician, the full suit and top hat and such. He was clapping slowly, mockingly, his gloved hands making loud smacks that I’m sure were not meant to be taken as admiration. He smiled smugly at me while shaking his head slightly.
I’ve never considered myself a confrontational person, but something about this guy’s demeanor really put me off. I walked over to him, stepping into the alley. “Impressed?” I asked in a sarcastic tone.
He let out a small laugh. “Your showmanship and sleight of hand are certainly passable. But you aren’t a magician.”
He glared at me through these strange dark lenses, and I started to feel uneasy. Nevertheless, I wasn’t going to be walked all over by this guy. “Mad you didn’t get the gig?” I retorted. He stood up off the wall he was leaning on, and at that point I noticed he was holding a cane, which was strange considering he had been clapping with both hands and I hadn’t seen him reach for it. “No, no, I have no need to prove myself. However, it does bother me a little when people like you pull a few fancy parlor tricks and baffle a person. Why don’t I show you a trick?”
He opened his other palm, which revealed a large gold coin of sorts, the center of which was a monkey covering its eyes, in the “see no evil” style. He rolled the coin over with his fingers, revealing a headless monkey. It was slumped over, implying it to be a corpse.
“Now, I saw your little coin trick.” He began to play with the coin like I had, flipping it and such. “And, you pulled it from behind that lady’s ear,” he continued, hiding the coin. I was sort of confused as to where he was going, but I was admittedly engaged and didn’t think about leaving.
Suddenly, he reached around my head, and I felt one of the worst pains I have ever experienced behind my right ear. It was hard to describe, sort of like a tearing sensation on my skin coupled with the pressure of an object being in my skull. The pain only lasted for a flash, but it still shocked me. I yelled and ducked, covering my head and stumbling back, before realizing I was alright. I looked at him confusingly, and he had the coin outstretched towards my face, dripping in blood and viscera.
Panicking, I touched my ear, only to find no trace of a wound on my fingertips. I looked back towards him, and the coin was as clean as it was when he first revealed it. His smirk turned to a threatening grin.
“Figured it out yet?” he asked, before snapping with the coin in his palm. Instantly, I began to choke, unable to breath. I gasped for breath, feeling a large object lodged in the back of my throat. I began retching and heaving, collapsing to my knees, before finally spitting the object out. It was the same coin, now coated in my saliva.
I continued to inhale rapidly, trying to get my breath back. I felt a visceral fear, a kind of panic I have never felt before.
He laughed maniacally, before composing himself, and revealing the coin out of his hand, clean again. He walked up to me, and pulled me off the ground. “I have one more trick up my sleeve for you.” I began to stammer, scared and witless, but he put his finger over my lips. He then pulled out my phone from his pocket, and FaceTimed a number. As it dialed, he simply said “watch” before stuffing it into my hands. When it finally loaded, it was him. At first, I couldn’t tell where he was, and I looked around, seeing he was in the alley no longer. Looking intently at the screen, I saw a familiar painting; it was my mother’s artwork she had given me, and it was hung in my apartment. The horrible realization dawned on me that he was in my living room. I helplessly watched as he sat down on my couch, turned the camera around, and flipped the coin towards the table. He hung up right before it hit.
I stood still, gripped by sheer terror. My head spun, and I felt nauseous. My first instinct was to call the police, but I had enough sense to realize how stupid I’d sound saying a magic man teleported into my house. Besides, even if they did show up, it’s pretty clear he had power way beyond any normal person.
In a state of shock, I left the festival silently; I was supposed to join everyone later for drinks, but I was in no mental state to go out. I felt like there was nobody I could talk to. I also felt a very strong conviction to return to my apartment. I knew in my soul that if he wanted to, he could kill me wherever and whenever. I wasn’t going to avoid my fate by not going back. There was also a sort of morbid allure to it, given that I would not know what I’d find. I’ve always been the kind of person to try and get bad things over with anyway, so I shuffled myself back to my apartment.
I stared at my door for a long time, shaking as I moved my hand towards the door. I gripped it for a while longer, before finally taking one more deep breath and creaking the door open. The hallway was dark, and only the light of the TV in the living room illuminated anything. Feeling like my feet were encased in concrete, I took step after step, finally coming out of the hallway. Nothing was out of place, and nobody was waiting for me on the couch. Other than the TV being turned to static, there was no sign anyone was ever in here. At least, until I noticed something on the table. The coin. A feeling of dread came over me, but I nevertheless approached. I got close to the table and leaned over, squinting at the coin. The side with the monkey covering his eyes faced upwards. Subconsciously, I went to grab the coin, but I stopped myself, deciding to leave it undisturbed. As I backed away from the table, I was overcome by a great deal of fatigue, and decided that whatever my fate was, I had no energy to deal with it anymore, and collapsed on the couch.
I woke up the next morning in a state of fuzziness, wondering if everything that had transpired last night was some kind of delirium or psychotic episode. I sat up slowly, and looked at the table. The coin was gone, but the monkey was emblazoned on the wood, holding his eyes still. It’s been a couple weeks since, and I have not seen the man again, nor has anything strange happened. But, the monkey is as clear as ever on my coffee table; I dare not try and clean or get rid of the table, though I still get the chills whenever my eyes wander to it. I haven’t practiced a single magic trick since.