(This story was based on this prompt from Seventh Sanctum. "This is a tale of personal transformation. The story is about a smooth magician. It takes place in a keep in a university town. The story climaxes with someone getting lost. A magical accident plays an important role.")
“Yo, Bailey, you going to the show tonight?”
“What show? I’ve been so deep in my coursework that if it’s not in one of my books, I haven’t noticed it.”
“Campus art gallery has a magician doing a show tonight. It’s 20 bucks to get in, part to pay for his appearance and part to pay for some renovations,” Ollie replied. “His show is supposed to be pretty good.” Ollie slapped at the book on the table. “And you really need a break, mate.”
“I must have been out of the dorms at least once today,” Bailey huffed.
“I might believe you’ve been out once this week. But not today or yesterday.” Ollie tapped Bailey on the head. “Your brain is going to be mush. Nothing but mush. Tell you what, I’ll shout the first drinks.”
“It’s in the gallery, Ollie. There may not be drinks,” Bailey protested. He tried to concentrate on the book in front of him.
“Of course there will be drinks. Where do you think the REAL money for the renovations is coming from? Overpriced beer, but you can get slapped with penalties if they catch you sneaking some in.” Ollie reached over and closed the book. “Come on, it will be fun.”
“Are you going to take no for an answer?”
Ollie gave an exaggerated sigh. “I’d rather you said yes, but I’m not going to drag you there. So, I guess I’ll have to find some hottie to buy a drink for.”
Bailey stood up and stretched. “Well, if you are going to twist my arm,” he said as he held out one arm. Ollie lightly grabbed the wrist and gave it a tiny twitch. “OUCH! All right, all right, I’m going,” Bailey laughed.
“The show starts in 2 hours. Time for you to change your clothes and we can grab a burger before heading for the gallery.”
“Change my clothes?”
“I swear you have been wearing the same shirt all week. Go on, get changed and we can take off.”
They arrived at the campus gallery half an hour before the show was due to start. As Ollie predicted, there were drinks available. The choices were overpriced beer or overpriced wine by the glass.
“I love the high class,” said Bailey as he grabbed the plastic cup.
“Don’t bitch about it. After all, this one is on me. When you buy a round, then you can complain about the plastic.” Ollie took a gulp of beer. “Besides, can you blame them? I’m sure they will have plenty to clean up as it is. They don’t need broken glass everywhere.”
“Dude, check out this sculpture. I swear, we should be art students. My baby sister could do better than this.” Bailey was staring at the twisted form on the pedestal. It was composed of ‘found’ objects, namely trash collected from around campus.
“You know why we aren’t art students. The odds of being successful at it are too low. I know I don’t want to spend four years just to flip burgers because I can’t find a job.”
“Not every business student finds a job,” protested Bailey.
Ollie shook his head. “Our odds are still way better. Especially if we do well at one of the special subjects in the last year.”
They wandered around, looking at the other art while waiting for the show to start. A couple of beers later and the art was looking much more interesting. Much of it was for sale, but neither of them had the inclination or cash to think about buying anything.
The magician was Malthos the magnificent. The show itself was pretty decent given that it was a small stage in an art gallery. Bailey was certain Malthos could do more, if he had a more elaborate place to set up. As it was, the magician had made a lot of things appear and disappear. His pretty assistant had been through the crowd a few times, much to the delight of the guys.
“Now for my next trick, I would like a volunteer from the audience.”
“Here’s where they grab a plant, wonder who it will be?” said Ollie in an undertone to Bailey.
Malthos scanned the audience a few times. Several people raised their hands but his eyes barely paused as he looked around. He pointed directly at Bailey. “You, sir. Would you kindly approach the stage?”
Bailey looked around but everyone was already applauding and the assistant had a firm grasp on his arm. “Right this way, if you don’t mind.”
“But I do mind. Take someone else.”
His protests fell on deaf ears. He gave up and let himself be led up on the stage.
“Now, kind sir, your name please.”
“And have we met before, Bailey?”
Bailey shook his head. “We definitely have not.”
“Now, all I need you to do is step into the magic cabinet, right over here. Will you do that for me, Bailey? Don’t worry about anything, just step inside.”
Bailey nodded and stepped into the box. He heard Malthos talking to the audience as he shut the door. He began to worry about his next exams. They were soon and Bailey wasn’t as prepared as he wanted to be. “There are times when I wish I were somewhere that exams didn’t matter. Grades didn’t matter. For that matter, somewhere that universities don’t even exist.”
Time passed and Bailey grew tired of standing. “Ready or not, here I come,” he said as he pushed open the door.
He was in a lush green forest. He looked back but the cabinet was gone. “Where am I? How do I get home?”