Spencer listened for Sir David to descend the spiral staircase. He could follow his progress by which tread was creaking. This was helpful information, in case Spencer was doing something that Sir David would not approve. Like looking at his Book of Words.

David Wighton is the only magician to have been granted knighthood in the history of the British Empire, and he did not let one forget. He received this honor from the Queen for his service during the Boer War. He had developed Hypotyposis, and her military advisors were convinced it could be used to good advantage against the enemy. David Wighton was made a Colonel and put in charge of a brigade of magicians and sent to Swaziland. It had come to naught, but he did amuse the Queen with his wonders, and was awarded for that.

Spencer had been in Sir David’s employ for three years. Working with the great man, he was the envy of every member of the BMAU. But, Spencer had become tired of cleaning capes and hats of guano, polishing canes and shuffling cards. He had learned the ins and outs of many illusions, but never the big ones. He longed to make a name for himself. In short, he was tired of being the assistant.

One of the great man’s many achievements was his use of magic words. He did not rely on the likes of ‘Abracadabra’, ‘Presto’, ‘Hocus Pocus’, and certainly not ‘Bippity, Boppity, Boo’. Many thought he made them up, but not Spencer. One day in the library, while re-shelving Sir David’s books, he discovered an heretofore unseen button in the wainscoting. After a push and a click, a panel slid back, and there inside was a notebook and a fragile looking volume that appeared quite old. Spencer knew he had found the Holy Grail of Magic. With shaking hands he removed them and began to read. The notebook contained a history of the Boer War experiment to make the enemy vanish, and curiously the last entry was three weeks ago. Spencer knew the old man was crushed when he had not been asked to help during the ‘War to End All Wars’, and it appeared he was still working on a solution. Upon opening the old book, he felt he was descending through time as words leapt from the page and assaulted his mind. Some words he had heard Sir David use, so he knew he was on the right track.

Many months passed, and the lad practiced his craft, often returning to the book for guidance. It was on this day, with the sun streaming into the library, causing dust motes to dance in the air, that Spencer returned to the book. The panel slid back, but the books were not inside. A sound behind froze Spencer.
“Looking for something?”, Sir David intoned.
“I didn’t hear you come down, Sir”, Spencer was flummoxed.
The magician had descended the stairs by Hypotyposis. “Obviously not, boy, or you would not have been sneaking about. I knew you were up to something. What have you been looking for in my books?”
“A magic word, sir. Something I can use to be great like you.”
The great magician pondered, “I see. Well, I will give you a word I have just discovered that would have won the Boer War.” He whispered in Spencer’s ear. “You only have to repeat it three times. Now please go fetch me some tea.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Some weeks passed. Spencer had not been home and his mother was alarmed. His friends in the BMAU had not seen him, and that was not like Spencer. He loved a pint or two, and the chance to brag about Sir David’s latest success. In fact, he had been hinting at his own act soon to come. She suspected foul play.

Sir David’s assistant answered the door, admitting the police. They were ushered to the conservatory, and stood humbly before the great one.
“We have come to ask if you know the whereabouts of a Mr. Spencer Milburn, Sir David. He has turned up missing. Since March 27th, we believe.”
“Yes, most distressing. I had to hire a new assistant. Do you know how much work it is to train a new assistant? I was in the library, and sent Spencer to make tea. I sat there and waited, but he never came back.”

✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ 

Here are the instructions for my 750 word story to this week’s Speakeasy Challenge by editor Courtenay Baker:

Submissions must be 750 words or fewer. Fiction or Poetry. Your piece must included the following sentence as the LAST line: “I sat there and waited, but he never came back.”   And must include a reference to this video:

The photo is of the famous British magician David Devant, performing his astonishing illusion, Hypotyposis… Spencer is on the far left, I think.

26 responses

  1. Wonderful story! And your explanation of the picture was a nice touch.

    1. Thank you so much. I’m glad you mentioned the explanation, that is nice to hear.

  2. LOL I enjoyed reading from beginning to end. The magic words I presume ‘make tea’. Fun story.

    1. Thanks, Kymm… maybe.

  3. Thank you,Ted this is a very interesting story.

    1. I’m glad you like it Ranu… when are we getting you an avatar?

      1. I don’t know,you tell me.

  4. Very nice job! I enjoyed this story very much, and wondered at first if the boy would learn from the book how to finish from Sir David! Bravo!

  5. Well done Ted! Where in the heck did Spencer go? Maybe he went to China!! 😆

  6. Hypotyposis. I learned a new word today. This was a fun and enjoyable read.

    Also, the picture that you picked for this post is perfect!


  7. Really great backstory, Ted. I like how much you said by what you didn’t say. Excellent! 🙂 (But, of course, now I want to know more….)

  8. I appreciate that there was a passage of time… I didn’t see that in many stories.

  9. Always the assistant, never the magician…poor Spencer.

  10. Ted, was both interesting and fun u nailed it my friend. txs and I look forward to your next chapter.

  11. I knew about Abracadabra but that Bippity, Boppity, Boo lol it sounds so fun 😉 I’ll practice with that 😛 Loved your story as I love magic too ! Fascinating concept.

  12. Oh, way to end on a brilliant note! Great job Ted 😀 Loved the details

  13. This was delightfully sinister; a wicked little tale. I love the photo.

  14. Ooh, this is so good, Ted! Love the characters and I love the idea of a magician involved in helping win wars with magic. Awesome story! 🙂

  15. Wonderful story! As soon as he got busted in library, I suspected he was done for. And when David gave him the word to repeat three times, I hoped Spencer would not do it. But he did it anyway… like the woman in the movies who hears a noise and then goes and looks for it 🙂

  16. Oh, a mystery! I love flash-fiction mysteries 🙂 Great fun.

  17. Ted, you did such a great job with the prompts. I loved your story, I was hoping Spencer would get away with his snooping, but Sir David got him in the end.

  18. I loved the story, Ted, despite the unfortunate lad’s last name 😉 *ahem* Another new word learned with Hypotyposis (actually two since it’s a synonym of enargia, which I also didn’t know :D) Now I’m wondering what the word is that Sir David whispered! Great work!

  19. Posy Churchgate | Reply

    Cleverly mysterious, well set out story – so much detail and yet it fit the flash fiction criteria!
    ~I’m a big Black Adder fan ~

    1. Thank you so much, Posy. That is nice to hear.

  20. Loved the story, Ted. Poor Spencer, he should not have gone snooping! He wasn’t as clever as he thought he was…and he certainly wasn’t ready to try to outsmart Sir David! 🙂

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