Monthly Archive for October, 2014

Story Tag: Story 5 Zane The Magnificent – Entry 15

 

Zane the Magnificent

 

Zane adjusted the magician’s outfit over his fur. His finale would wow the crowd.
He lifted the tattered top hat from his head with his left paw and held it up high. Zane thrust his right paw into it. He felt fur and pulled, a rabbit’s ear following his arm out.
And then—whack! The top of the rabbit’s head smacked into the interior of the hat. Zane hadn’t considered this. He knew how to pull a rabbit out of his hat—but as a mouse his hat wasn’t scaled to let any more than an ear through!
The rabbit squealed in pain. Zane could hear the rabbit wheeze, it’s entire fluffy body constricted by the confines of his small mouse top hat.
As the rabbit struggled, Zane dropped the hat. The audience laughed as the hat danced around the stage, but Zane knew the bunny would be effing dead soon. The sounds eminating from the hat were not unlike a constipated velociraptor.
Then the hat sparkled, levitated, grew to the size of a human’s top hat. The bunny toppled out of the hat, limping off, pissed as shit.
Who did that? Zane wondered. That was real magic.
Then, Zane started to sparkle.
He felt his fur start to bristle. His cape swayed. His body got lighter and lighter, and soon, he was rising from the stage.
The audience was going effing nuts. Zane had been so preoccupied with this sudden sensation that he had forgotten all about them. He looked down at them, put a huge grin on his face, and threw his arms out wide.
They think I’m the one doing this, and they love it! He thought.
“I am Zane the Adequate! You’ve been a wonderful crowd. Goodnight!” he yelled as he passed the proscenium.
“Great show tonight, Mr. Z!” said Henrietta as Zane walked offstage.
Zane had a policy to find employment for every past assistant. Like most of Zane’s stage crew, Henrietta had been the victim of magic. Ever since The Sawing Incident, Henrietta had worked the curtain at every show. Next to her were Henrietta’s Legs, also technically a stagehand but much less helpful with the curtain. As usual, The Legs were quiet.
“Thanks.” muttered Zane, lost in thought. Where did that come from?
That’s when he noticed the note that The Legs was holding tucked between two toes.
The Legs swung the paper towards Zane. Plucking it from immaculately decorated toenails—as it was far easier for Henrietta to paint them now—he unfolded the message.
THE NEXT ONE MAY PLEASE THE CROWD, BUT NOT YOU. MEET AT MEL’S AT 11 TONIGHT. ~ A FRIEND?
Zane’s furry brow furrowed. The sound of his lower teeth tapping the back of his large front teeth caused Henrietta to look up. It was only when Zane was worried that he stretched his jaw like that.
“Is everything alright, Mr. Z?” the halved woman asked.
“I’ll make sure it is,” Zane replied.
Zane the Adequate was worried.
It wasn’t the powerful magic that worried him. It wasn’t even the cryptic note. It was the question mark at the end of that note. A FRIEND?
Why would whoever wrote the note end it like that? How could the writer not know if he/she was a friend?
Zane could think of only two reasons: 1) the writer was being controlled by a magical force he/she didn’t understand, and the question mark was a subtle warning to Zane, or 2) the writer was an idiot who didn’t understand punctuation.
Both options scared Zane.
Magic Mel’s was a popular hangout for rodents in Zane’s line of work. On any given night, you could find a slew of small, furry illusionists there—from legends to hacks.
Zane figured he should arrive early to scope the place out—only a stooge would show up at precisely 11 to meet a shady character. He showed up at 10:45. The usual crowd was in attendance.
There was Sergio the Stupendous, a giant rat who’d lost his tail in a botched guillotine illusion. Kapow! was there—a squirrel who relied more on tired jokes than real tricks.
“I just glided here tonight and boy are the veiny flaps of skin that give my body the illusion of flight tired!” said Kapow! to muted laughter. He was wrapping up; Zane had seen this closer many times. As the flying squirrel told his last barrage of hacky jokes—“boy my wife sure is nuts”—the club began to steadily empty out.
Mercifully, Kapow! eventually left the stage, went out back for a smoke with Sergio. Zane was all alone.
Or was he?
“Didn’t think you’d come” rasped a voice from the dark corner of the bar.
“Fuck you, Mel.”
The joint’s owner, Mel the Mole, scuttled forward from the darkness, a thick claw and tight squint shading his eyes. Even the current dimness, the darkest the customers would tolerate, was brighter than Mel preferred it himself.
“Fuck me? I’m not the one with a tab longer than his tail,” Mel’s words forced their way through the gravel of his aged teeth. A nail poked Zane’s side. “You better be here to pay up.”
“I’ve got business with someone, I didn’t pick the locale,” Zane replied confidently. He knew Mel wouldn’t try anything in the middle of his own place.
“You’ve got business with me.” Mel poked Zane again.
“You don’t understand, I got this letter.” Zane looked around for his mystery man.
“Yeah, that was from me. I said meet me here at eleven. To pay your tab.”
You made me levitate?”
“What? No.”
“What did ‘The next one may please the crowd, but not you’ mean?”
Mel shrugged. “Just sounded tough. Wise guy magician lingo.”
Zane grunted and begrudgingly paid his tab.
Minutes later, Zane stepped out into the dark alley behind Mel’s to head home.
“How’d you like levitating?” Kapow! the Squirrel stepped out of the darkness.
Zane was shocked.
“You made me levitate?”
“What? No.”
“What did ‘How’d you like levitating?’ mean?”
“Oh, I just… just wanted to know.” Kapow! said. “I heard about your show from Steve. You don’t have to be a dick about it.” He shuffled off down the alley, muttering to himself.
Zane sighed. He turned to leave, when he heard another voice.
“Levitating, eh?” the voice was an ominous baritone.
“Oh, what, are you the one who made me levitate?” Zane said, turning around. There was nobody there.
“Yes.”
Zane felt a sharp pain in his neck, and everything went black.
Zane awoke in a bedroom he’d never seen before. His head was throbbing and his mouth was dry. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness.
That was when he noticed the walls.
There were hundreds of posters covering the room, showing every stage of his career. Zane the Adequate at every club he’d ever played. There was even a poster from the early days when he was Zane the Two Drink Minimum No Refunds.
Zane realized that tonight wasn’t an isolated incident. Whoever was doing this had done it before: they were helping his career.
“So…” the ominous baritone voice resonated through the room, “It took a question mark to finally look for me?”
“What?” Zane muttered, testing his shaky legs, “How’m I supposed to ‘finally look’ for you if I didn’t know about you until tonight?”
“Well, there were my notes—”
“NOTE,” Zane corrected while standing up, “Just the one I got today.”
“No, I’ve left notes with your stagehand at your last twenty-five shows!” the voice exclaimed.
“Well, maybe next time give it to someone with eyes and thumbs,” Zane muttered.
There was a moment.
“Well, now I feel bad about killing you.”
Zane gulped. “You’re going to kill me?”
“Yes.” The voice said. “Painfully too. But then I’m going to raise you from the dead. And make you famous as crap.”
“Why?” Zane asked.
“Because,” Scott Hicken said in his deep voice, turning on the light and looking down into the shoe box apartment he built for Zane. “I created you.”
Zane looked up at the lanky, goateed, thin-but-oddly-malnourished giant. “Are you…God?”
“Not thee god. But I am the god of this world. I built it so that my model train town would have living inhabitants.”

Entry 15: Lally

“If you created this world, and me, does that mean you control my world?” asked Zane.

“Yes,” Scott hissed, wringing his hands.

“Well, couldn’t you have made sure I got all 25 notes?”

“Uh…. Technically….”

“And shouldn’t you have known I wasn’t getting them?”

“Well, I did know, but for the sake of the story…”

“Are you getting confused? Because Mel said he wrote that last note.”

“I made Mel write the note, so I wrote it, really.”

“So you control everything we do and say?!”

“Yes!” Scott said triumphantly.

“So… are you having this conversation with yourself right now?”

Check back Friday for the next entry!