Illusion of Death

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Disclaimer: This story includes mentions of sexual abuse.

“You sure about this,” I asked.

“Trust me Nick. You’ll enjoy it, said Erika.

As far as I could remember, Erika was a fanatic of magic. Sure, she focused on history, but she liked reading about magic. However, I’m not sure if she realizes that these magic shows aren’t what you’d see in Harry Potter. But I guess this occult stuff interests her. I neither liked nor disliked it, but I wasn’t as livid for magic as she was.

Recently, our school announced that a renowned magician named Apollo Dynamo would hold a show in our area this weekend. When she saw a flyer for it around campus, Erika wanted the two of us to see it the weekend he’d perform. I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I gave into her demands and here we are. But I felt nervous. Dating wasn’t something I’ve taken the time to do. I just don’t want to make things a hassle.

“Apollo Dynamo’s the greatest magician ever. I’ve watched him on TV ever since I was in elementary school. He’s done amazing tricks on TV and on live streams. But the most amazing thing he can do is his skills as an escape artist. His famous water tank escape trick is something he’s mastered. Never has he ever failed to escape from it. And that’s a good thing. He’s inspired young magicians to follow in his footsteps. You don’t believe me now, but once you see him, it’ll be fine. You won’t regret it.”

A water tank escape trick? Is that even possible? I guess I’ll have to see it for myself to believe these facts are true.

“Hey look! There’s a crowd of women trying to be VIPs over there,” said Erika.

A bunch of women stood in front of the VIP entrance to the theater. They acted physically on each other, pushing and shoving to get to the front of the line.

“Let me in! I was supposed to be the assistant today,” one of the women said.

“You? I’m the best assistant he’s ever had! Why would Apollo Dynamo want someone like you anyway,” another woman said.

“Both of you are acting ridiculous! Apollo’s gonna choose me for this performance,” another woman said.
The women continued to bicker about before a group of people wearing yellow shirts came from the theater and restrained the women.

“Ladies, ladies! I don’t know what this is about, but Mr. Dynamo told me not to allow any of you in and that’s final! So get out of here unless you want me to use force,” one of them said.

Despite what the man said, those women kept on fighting their way into the theater.
What was that about? Were they assistants? Then why wouldn’t the magician want them in?

“You know, it is strange how he keeps changing assistants every now and then. It’s happened so many times it’s led to their little competition over who will end up marrying the magician. Or at least that’s what I’ve found from the online forms about him,” said Erika.

“Wait, he’s got a website,” I asked.

“Of course he does, silly! Heck, there’s even a Reddit for the fans to discuss the facts and rumors!”
He’s got his own fan subreddit? This magician must be a popular one.

After purchasing our tickets at the ticket booth, Erika and I took our seats in the theater. Only a few people were in the audience when we arrived.

“Huh, I thought the show would garner more attention. Apollo’s shows normally fill up. Then again, I’ve heard the attendance has been dwindling in recent days,” said Erika.

“Dwindling? How so,” I asked.

“Believe it or not, some of the rumors being spread sound malicious. At least I hope they are. Apollo wouldn't do those things!”

After some time, the lights turned off, only for two spotlights to move across the room as a drum roll could be heard.

“Ladies and gentlemen! The Walton Park Theater is proud to welcome the great Apollo Dynamo to our theater! And here he comes now,” an announcer said.

From the curtains came a man wearing a black top hat and a tuxedo and a woman. The man’s top hat had the initials A.D. in bright red.

“So that’s the famous Apollo Dynamo,” I thought.

The magician’s face was a bit pale, yet he smiled like everything was fine. It could have just been the lights causing a strange glare on him, but I was just amazed to be standing in front of a famous person. It felt like a dream everyone had since childhood. There were sweat spots on his clothes. But it didn’t seem that hot in the theater. But despite those changes, he dressed like he normally would.

Throughout the show, he performed a variety of tricks from simple card tricks to amazing illusions. However, they were normal to most magicians. I bet he was saving that water tank escape for last. If it’s his iconic trick, it’s got to be a big one. My predictions were confirmed as the curtains behind him moved away, revealing a giant water tank.

“For my final trick, I’ll show you all my most famous trick of all,” Apollo exclaimed.

As Apollo walked up the stairs, he started coughing a bit. His assistant followed him up the stairs, chained his arms together, and whispered into the magician’s ear. Suddenly, the assistant and pushed him into the watery trap and locked the tank. The crowd, or at least the few people in the audience remaining, gasped.

“What was that all about?” I asked.

“Apollo was pushed into his trap before. He’ll get out just fine,” said Erika.

Apollo struggled to release himself from the chains. As he tried to break free, a red liquid oozed into the water. After a few minutes of trying to break free, the magician’s body stopped moving. At first, we thought that it was a joke, but then we realized something was wrong. I could tell from the frightened look in Erika’s eyes that this wasn’t part of the act.

By the time paramedics arrived at the scene, it was too late. Apollo Dynamo was dead. We all witnessed the tragedy, but there was nothing we could do.

As I walked out of the theater, Erika held onto my arm.

“Why did this happen? Why did he have to die like that? What could have led to this disaster,” she asked.

But I didn’t know the magic behind his trick. I didn’t know what happened at all.

The next morning, Erika called me.

“Nick, did you hear? One of the assistants was arrested for murder,” she said.

“Wait, seriously?” I asked.

“Yeah! Apparently, that assistant who was with Apollo poisoned him before the show. She had to time it perfectly just so the poison would kick in while he tried to escape. And just to be safe, she put a knife into his throat. That would limit his breathing even more while underwater.”

“So she murdered him right in front of everyone?”

“It’s true! But honestly, I feel sympathetic for the assistant. That magician’s a jerk!”

“But I thought you said he was the greatest magician ever! What‘s gotten into you?”

“Didn’t you hear? The investigation found evidence that he sexually abused his assistants. He’d use his influence to prevent his secret from slipping out. But it gets even crazier. The assistants planned to take his insurance money for themselves. In fact, each of them tried to fight over it.”

“Insurance money?”

“Apollo wouldn’t pay his assistants decently. They each wanted the money for themselves. However, he caught wind of the rumors and banned them all from entering the theater. The one who made the kill earned his trust, but with malicious intent.”

“How’d you learn about this?”

“My sister told me all the details last night after she reported to the press. I don’t know how she does it, but she’s a master in keeping her identity a secret.”

“Wait, what do you mean by that?”

“If only I trusted her years ago...”


Hearing that made me regret not investing myself in dating. But now more than ever, I had to make things right. I promised myself to make Erika happy for as long as I lived.


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