Fiction Horror Suspense

 The magician, simply known as The Great Bardot, has been in show business for thirty years. He started as a child by learning all the common tricks of magic. Disappearing coins and foam balls squeezed between your fingers suddenly appear as if from nowhere into full-size balls in your hand. And, of course, a plethora of card tricks.

           Bardot entered many amateur talent shows and traveled with a troupe across Europe. As his talent improved, people started talking about him. Night clubs were his next venue. Now that his name was more recognizable, his pay increased, and he could purchase more expensive materials. With better equipment, Bardot was able to do more elaborate illusions. These illusions were so complicated that he would perform only one or two per show. These amazed and baffled the audience.   With the complexity of each trick would come the question, “How do you do that?” To which Bardot would only say, “A good magician never reveals his tricks.”

           While Bardot is at the peak of his popularity, he epitomizes what a magician should be and what a magician should look like.  Suave and debonair, the forty-two-year-old Frenchman strikes quite the figure. He is tall and slender, wearing his dark hair pomaded straight back. His tuxedo is perfectly tailored to show his broad shoulders tapering down to his polished black shoes. He does, in fact, look like an exclamation point expressing the wonder of his performance. He doesn’t have an assistant preferring to work alone. If he needs someone to help him, he’ll ask for a volunteer from the audience. Using a live audience member enhances the effect of the magic.

One night after a performance, there’s a knock on Bardot’s dressing room door.

“Yes. What is it?’

“I have a telegram for Mousieur.” The boy enters and hands the note to Bardot and waits. Bardot knows the young man is waiting for a tip and reaches into his vest pocket and produces a silver coin. Before handing it to the lad, Bordot flips it into the air, where it disappears. The young man stands slackjawed until Bardot reaches behind the child’s ear saying, “Ah, here it is.” He smiles as he watches the lad leave under a hail of thank yous. 

Bardot’s pulse quickens. He sees that the note is an invitation from the world’s greatest magician, Monsieur Matteo Descoteaux. Descoteaux retired and bought a castle in the Hauts-de-France region near the Belgium border. He has lived there as a recluse, with no one seeing or hearing from him in over ten years. The note expresses that it is imperative that he sees Bardot, for he has something most important to share with him. Bardot lays the letter on his dressing table with trembling fingers, fearing he’ll drop it. The performer is dizzy with excitement at the thought of the world’s greatest magician wanting to share something with him. What could it be?


Bardot takes a train to Lille, where he rents an automobile.  He then drives for forty-five minutes to reach the entrance of the three-hundred-acre forested estate containing Descoteaux’castle. The woods are dark and foreboding, and the road condition is poor.

 Bardot steps out of his car and feels a chill run up his spine. The air is cold and damp as he inhales deeply to bolster his courage. The clanging of the metal door knockers reverberates through the surrounding woods, scattering mobs of crows in its wake.

As the massive oaken door screeches open, Bardot is greeted by an elderly servant. He is bent and rather shabby looking. “May I help you, Monsieur?” His voice is old and husky.

Bardot presents the note. “Yes. I am here on the invitation of your master, Monsieur Descoteaux.”  The butler takes the letter and asks Bardot to please wait while he informs his master of his arrival. Returning a few moments later, he shuffles up to Bardot. “If you will kindly follow me, the Master is in the library.”

Bardot finds the castle to be cold and dreary. The surrounding forest is so thick that it allows little sunlight to enter through the stained glass windows. Everywhere he looks, Bardot sees thick layers of dust.

The library is enormous, with beams of sunlight streaming through windows high up near the ceiling. The surrounding bookshelves are several feet tall and packed tight with numerous volumes. There are stacks of books measuring three to four feet high on the floor. At the far end of the library is a maple desk where Descoteaux is sitting.

“Come closer young man. Let me have a better look at you.” As he approaches, Bardot sees that Docsoteaux’ left eye is cloudy white, with an agitated red and slightly swollen rim. His complexion is dull and gray. He has an open ulcerated sore on his forehead that he scratches now and then with knarled, arthritic fingers. The top of his head is bald save a few wispy strands of grey hair falling to his shoulders.  His coat is thread worn and covered with dandruff. The ancient magician points to a nearby chair. “Sit.”  Bardot removes several books and sees how filthy the chair is.  He doesn’t wipe it clean, for that would be an insult to the Master.

“Monsieur Bardot, I have been following your career rather closely. It seems you are quite successful. I’ve studied your illusions and have found them most clever. I was wondering if you would like to learn the secret of true magic?” 

Bardot hesitates and thinks, “He says the word magic as if it is something different than what I’m doing, performing tricks which is what we magicians do. But if he’s suggesting another, purer form of magic, then what magician wouldn’t want to know it.” A smile escapes Bardot’s lips, “True magic?”

“Yes.” hisses Descoteaux. “True magic. The ability to create something out of nothing. To perform miracles, to dabble in the divine! Would you like that, Bardot?” 

Feeling like he’s drunk too much wine, Bardot murmurs, “What must I do?”

“Come closer, my young friend, and lend me your ear.  I shall whisper all the secrets of the universe into it.”

An hour later, Bardot leaves the castle and drives recklessly down the ruinous driveway to catch the next train to Paris. While packing for an extended tour of the United States, Bardot hears on the evening news that the world-famous magician, Matteo Descoteaux, was found dead in his library. The one-hundred-and-two-year-old entertainer died of natural causes. The year is 1959.


Over the next two decades, Bardot’s career soars. He appears on talk shows and variety shows like the Ed Sullivan Hour. Bardot receives a five-year contract to headline at Circus Circus in Las Vegas. He truly is “The Great Bardot.” But at last, no matter how great you are, people’s interests change. The world of magic is no different. With interest fading, Bardot continues to perform sparingly.

Toward the end of the seventies, Bardot makes a rare appearance on the Tonight Show. Johnny Carson, once having been an amateur magician, introduces Bardot with great zeal. In the center of the stage is a common folding table and chairs. Bardot invites Johnny and co-host Ed McMahon to join him. He also requests that the cameras come close and focus only on the tabletop.

Bardot addresses the audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, what I will demonstrate tonight can only be true magic. Please watch closely.”  He asks the bandleader, Doc Severinsen, to come over and examine the table for hidden traps. Severinsen feels around the table and announces, “Looks good to me, man.”

Bardot then asks McMahon to press his finger as hard as he can into the center of the tabletop to demonstrate that it is indeed solid. McMahon does and reassures the audience it is so.

Bardot stands and walks to the edge of the stage. “Might I please have someone lend me a coin the size of a quarter or half-dollar?” An eager young man from the front row rushes forward and hands Bardot a quarter.

Bardot thanks him and asks him to tell the audience if they have ever met. The young man confirms they have not. Bardot calls the fellow over to the edge of the stage and bends down. Then in a low voice, “Are you by any chance a magician too? If so, meet me after the show tonight.”

Returning to the table, Bardot hands the coin to Johnny. “It is real, yes?”

“Oh, it’s very real.”


 Bardot places the coin on its edge and holds it with his forefinger. He then tells Johnny to put his hand under the table about four inches from the bottom.

“If I can have camera number one focus tightly on the quarter and camera number two focus on Mr. Carson’s hand, I shall begin.”

Bardot closes his eyes and starts pushing down on the coin. His concentration is great, as evidenced by the beads of sweat on his forehead. As he pushes harder, the audience seems to hold their breath. There is dead silence. The intensity is so palpable that the TV audience at home can feel it. The coin beneath Bardot’s finger vibrates, echoing through the silent studio. As the camera records, the coin starts to shimmer and fades in and out until, all at once, it is gone. Camera number two catches it falling into Johnny Carson’s hand! Bardot leans back, mopping his brow with his handkerchief.

  Eyebrows raised and eyes wide, Johnny exclaims, “It’s hot! Ed, how can this be? Doc, you checked the table. How did it pass through?”  The audience gives Bardot a standing ovation. Bardot bows and exits the stage.

A short while later, there is a knock on Bardot’s dressing room door. Knowing who it is, he lets the young magician in and locks the door behind him.

“What is your name, young man?”

“Aldrich, sir.”

“You want to know how I performed this miraculous trick tonight. Please have a seat, Mr. Aldrich, and I shall tell you how I became “The Great Bardot.” I lived in France a long time back when I was invited to the home of the most famous magician in all the world, Matteo Decsoteaux. He told me he could teach me to employ real magic in my routine. But there was one condition.”

Captivated, Aldrich utters, “What was the condition?”

“I will tell you in a minute, my dear Mr. Aldrich, but first, look into my eyes. Look deeply into my eyes and listen to my voice. Over the course of several lifetimes, I have emersed myself in the study of ancient books of Alchemy. I have learned to control others and transport my spirit into them. You are on longer in control of your body or your will. They are both mine. When Bardot visited me those years ago, I tempted him with the promise of using real magic. I then took over his body.”

Aldrich struggles to scream, only to find he has no voice. He can not so much as utter a faint squeak.

“ I possessed his body to carry on my life work of magic. This body that I now inhabit has contracted cancer and shall die soon. So here you are, Mr. Aldrich! A new vessel for Descoteaux to occupy for years to come! “ Descoteaux throws his head back and laughs diabolically.

Tears of terror stream from Aldrich’s eyes as he feels the warm breath of Dexcoteaux on his ear, whispering his death warrant.

July 18, 2023 05:15

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David Ader
02:03 Jul 28, 2023

Good story and very surprising twist at the end. One caution is your spelling.. the first mention of Monsieur for instance. You mention foam ball at the start. I'm a terrible magician but can tell you that in the 'trade' they're called sponge balls. Enjoyed this overall.


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Nicki Nance
17:50 Jul 22, 2023

Nice twist at the end. My favorite part was using your name for the third magician. you reversed on and no in one spot.


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Mary Bendickson
12:31 Jul 18, 2023

Magical! One spot you need France not Frace?


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