Magic Short 11 - A Small Box
Angelina felt frustrated, she had been assistant to Melinda for nearly a year and none of what she expected was happening. She had heard rumours that Melinda could use real magic, but in all the hundreds of hours of rehearsal and performance, the only magic she had seen Melinda perform was linking a couple of steel rings that did not seem to be gimmicked. She also fancied her boss and Melinda did not seem to notice.
They were coming to the end of Halloween season on Halloween night; the show was mostly the same old illusions with spookier patter, different costumes, too many spray-on cobwebs and some fake blood.
"Angelina, I've decided to change the finale this evening; we'll be using that prop instead of the buzzsaw."
This was a relief to Angelina, because moving the equipment onto the stage was heavy work and the screaming she was expected to do made her throat sore for most of the following morning each day.
Angelina took the chance to look at the box indicated and saw that it resembled a twister or a disembodied princess illusion, except that it did not seem to have any doors and did not seem to be as deep; it also seemed to lack the usual head-box. This did not worry her as she felt sure that Melinda would give her a heads-up about what this illusion did and how to operate it, before the time came to perform it.
During the interval, Angelina realised that she had not been told anything about the new illusion. She went to find Melinda to ask. "That new illusion you've said we'll be doing for the finale; you haven't told me anything about what it does or how to work it."
Melinda paused in what she was preparing. "It shouldn't be a problem, you don't have to do anything at all, I'll do what needs to be done. All you'll need to do is put on the white outfit, I've left for you, while I do the cut and restored rope routine to give you time to change and get it onto stage behind the curtain. Just give me a wave from the wings when you're ready."
"I guess it'll be okay if you say so, but not knowing makes me a bit nervous."
"And being nervous makes you perform better," Melinda responded, before returning her attention to the task in hand.
After Angelina had done her part in being vanished from a chair on a table and reappearing in a box on a stand on the other side of the stage, Melinda picked up three lengths of rope and stepped in front of curtain as it closed, leaving Angelina to change and ready the stage, while she entertained the audience with the antics of the ropes she had in hand.
Angelina pushed the table and the stand off stage and dragged the mystery prop to stage centre, then went to the screen set up backstage for costume changes. The 'white costume' turned out to be a Lycra body-suit with a high neck-line, that reached her wrists and a little below her knees. Once she had done the zip up the back she noticed the only other feature which was a line of beading that outlined the curve of her breasts.
The assistant padded to the wings and gave a wave. She got back a number of fingers to indicate about how long she would be waiting.
A few minutes later, Melinda finished her ropes routine, by having all three pieces of rope join into one.
As the applause died down, Melinda addressed that audience. "Thank you, you've been a wonderful audience; especially Tim and George and Mary, who were so good as to lend me a hand. I think that deserves a round of applause for yourselves." The crowd clapped enthusiastically. "And I would also like you to show your appreciation for the other person who has been on the stage this evening; my assistant, Angelina."
While the audience renewed their clapping Melinda beckoned the surprised Angelina onto the stage.
"This, ladies and gentlemen, is Angelina, and in common with most magicians I would be totally lost without an assistant; and Angelina has proved very adept at doing all the things that need to be done to keep the show going and entertaining you good folk."
The magician paused to allow the inevitable shouts of agreement.
"Angelina has not been with me for very long. How long has it been?"
"Erm, coming up to ten months, I think," said Angelina and was surprised to hear her voice coming from the P.A. in the same way that Melinda's did. There must be a microphone somewhere, she thought.
"So, this is your first performance on a Halloween night proper?"
"Yes, although we've been doing Halloween shows for the past few weeks; this is my first show actually on October the thirty-first."
"And, ladies and gentlemen, you are going to witness me initiating my assistant into the impossibilities of real magic. This is something that can only happen to an assistant on the night of All Hallow's Eve."
The curtain swished open to show a stage that was bare except for the illusion box. "This is the Cabinet of Aka-Natin, and has been used as an initiation test for magician's assistants on magically propitious days since ancient days when Aka-Natin was court magician to the pharaohs of Egypt. Have you heard tell of this cabinet, Angelina?"
"I've never heard of it, by that or any other name. And I've never seen it before today either. It's a complete mystery to me," declared Angelina. "It doesn't look very Egyptian to me."
There was a pause that caused the assistant to wonder if she had said the wrong thing and deviated too far from a script she did not know.
"A fair observation," the magician allowed. "That is because this is not the original Cabinet of Aka-Natin, but as faithfully a restoration as could be made, which includes some of the dust of the original in the paint, which is enough to give it its power. It is not decorated in the Egyptian style in case some powerful hieroglyph be accidentally included that might negate the powerful magic of this cabinet. This particular one is at least two hundred years old."
"Ok, but what does it do?" asked Angelina.
"It tests an assistant's abilities to achieve the higher levels of those possible for a magician's assistant. And if the assistant is not fit to perform with real magic, it will make that clear too."
"And how does it do all that?"
"The assistant enters the cabinet and the illusion is performed. There are three stages to the illusion and I will know if you are ready for the second and third stage once the previous stage is completed, but first we will have to perform stage one."
"What happens if I'm not ready for stage one?"
"In the days of Aka-Natin, when wizards were cruel and life was cheap, the performance of the first stage would kill the potential magical assistant if he or she was not ready. Thankfully, by the time this replica was built, magicians had more regard for human life and stage one has been moderated to being extremely painful, rather than fatal. Angelina, are you ready to be tested by the Cabinet of Aka-Natin?"
The assistant looked towards the audience, who cheered her. "If you think I'm ready, I suppose I'm ready. Anything else I need to know before we begin?"
"If stage one does not work, I'm going to have to start looking for another assistant, but I will keep you on until you have found someone else to assist."
"So, if I can't do this, I'm fired?"
"Not exactly, but I will move you on to someone who can use your current talents, rather than keeping you to discover what new talents you might develop."
"Oh well, we might as well get on with it. How do I get into this, because when I looked at it earlier, I could not see any doors."
"That's because you get in the top. Once we have the top open, I'll help you get up there and then you can get in." Melinda began to dismantle the top of the cabinet. Angelina watched catches being undone and three sets of boards with circular cut-outs were pulled free from channels at the tops of the sides and across the top, then the two double sided channels were removed to fully open the top of the cabinet. A quick check underneath showed Angelina two holes that were too small for her legs and too far apart.
"I'm guessing from the holes in the bottom that getting into this thing isn't going to be an easy proposition."
"You're right. Once you're up there, you need to lie across the top with your bottom over the cabinet and then with your hands at your sides, you'll fold yourself into the cabinet so that your hands come out the bottom and your head and legs stick out the top, then I fit the top back on. You got that?"
"Yes, I understand, but it won't leave me much room to do anything."
"Doing stuff isn't your problem once you're in; you only have to concentrate on remaining calm and feeling magical." Melinda knelt down and then patted her raised knee and then her shoulder, to let Angelina know that she was expected to use her boss as a ladder to the top of the box.
Getting on top of the box was quite easy. Getting in proved easier, because she was trying to do the 'lie on top of the cabinet' stage, when her hand slipped and with an undignified screech she folded into the box with the slipped hand next to the hole, so that the next thing to do was to move her other arm down her front and then find the other hole.
When the first hand appeared, Melinda shackled it to the base of the box, preventing Angelina from pulling the hand back in. The second hand, when it appeared, was treated similarly.
Angelina was getting an idea how constraining this box was. It was a little less than shoulder width wide, meaning that she took up what little depth the box contained more that her torso thickness, by twisting a little to get her shoulders in. Her breasts were being pushed together by her thighs with her knees against her shoulders. She used the fact that her hands were now fixed in place to wriggle a little in the hope of finding a more comfortable position.
While Angelina fidgeted in the box, Melinda re-fitted the double channels to the top of the box, finding it necessary to push her assistant's legs outward a bit to get the channels into the places from which they had come.
Angelina heard the channels click into place and knew that, unlike most of the boxes and cabinets that she had experienced since getting the job with Melinda, she was not getting out until she was let out. The only way out was through the top and that now had bars that were closer than her body could fit though, even it she could release her hands and unfold her body.
When Melinda began to slide in and lock the elements of the stocks about her neck and sticking up lower legs, Angelina knew there was something very wrong with what was happening. Before the stocks were fitted her upright calves and shins framed her head's view of the audience, because her head was behind where her legs rose. After the stocks were fitted, with the same worrying click that the bars had locked into place with, her head was forward of her vertical calves, but she could still feel her knees pressing against her upper arms.
With Angelina installed in the box, Melinda invited a couple from the audience to check that she was securely in the box, while she went back stage to collect the rest of the things that were needed for the three steps of the illusion.
Melinda returned towing a large box, which she parked behind Angelina. She got the report of the two audience members. "It's a near miracle that she fitted in the box in the first place, anything else would be magic of some kind, because the assistant is totally immobilised."
Melinda went to the large box and pulled out a stack of rectangular blades with narrow wooden handles on one end and a sharp edge on the other; an edge so apparently sharp that some of the audience imagined they hear the sound of the highlights from the stage lights as they travelled along them.
Taking the first blade, Melinda said, "This is going to be intense for you, so you'll need to let the feelings out, you might explode if you try to keep the feelings in." Keeping the blade low, the magician moved to the side of the cabinet and located the blade in a slot in the side about half way up; the top of the box would hide the blade from Angelina's view. "I'm going to do it now." The magician pushed on the handle and the audience watched as the blade, half as long as the width of the box, was inserted into the box and its tightly packed occupant. They wondered what noises the assistant would make, but hoped they would not be screams of anguish.
On the word 'now' Angelina felt something happen to her elbow on that side, which quickly spread across the base of her ribs until it stopped in the middle of her body. To her it felt like fire and ice together, without the burn of either; hot but refreshing. The noise she made was 'Oof!' as if she had been thumped in the ribs.
Melinda took a look at her assistant's face and tried to interpret the expression there. The eyes were wide in there sockets and the mouth was a small circle. The magician could not divine the meaning of this expression, except that it did not seem to be indicative of pain. She expressed her relief by wiping the back of her hand across her forehead.
The second blade was the same size and pushed from the opposite side of the box; still handled in such a way that Angelina could not see it. The assistant oofed again, but her eyes did not widen further and the circle of her mouth did not narrow; Melinda hoped this was a good sign. Angelina was still none the wiser what was happening to her as a new sensation of fire and ice invaded her body to meet the original one at the tip of her breast-bone. All the audience, except a couple of die-hard sceptics, believed that Angelina had been divided into two sections; the part below the blades, which had to contain her abdomen, hips, upper thighs and forearms, and the upper part holding the assistant's chest, upper arms and lower thighs.
"How are you holding up, Angelina?" Melinda asked.
"Ok, I think. It felt a bit like a pleasant version of being kicked in the ribs. I know that doesn't make sense, but it's a totally new experience and I haven't found the words to express it properly."
"That's okay. I am told that this takes every assistant in a different way. But is it alright with you if I finish stage one?"
"I don't know. I was thinking that stage one was complete. But I don't even know what you've done, but it doesn't feel too bad."
Behind her assistant, Melinda took up the next blade. She pantomimed for the audience that she would be pushing it through from the back of the cabinet. The blade was held vertically and lined up with the bar across the top that held the edges of the neck stock and one of the leg stocks. The magician located the blade in the slot and shoved the sharp edge forward through her assistant.
A sudden look of uncertainty crossed the assistant's face, signalling to the spectators that she had felt the third blade. Angelina was feeling more fire and ice sensations as the blade touched and then penetrated her shoulder blade. None of this made any sense to her. As the feelings reached the flesh of her breast, it became a tingle that made her wish that, whatever it was, it could have gone through her nipple rather than the outside of her breast. Her face signalled her pleasure to the audience, that she was not averse to this treatment, the small circle of her mouth was widening slightly, appearing to be on its way to becoming a smile.
Blade four, placed symmetrically opposite the third, had a similar effect on the feelings and expression of the assistant, but the noise she made was now an 'Oooh!'.
Melinda showed the fifth and seemingly final blade to the audience; it seemed no different to the previous two. She carried it to the front of the cabinet, still keeping it low so that Angelina did not catch sight of it. The magician lifted the blade to a line in the middle of the lower section. "This is the final one for stage one," she told her assistant, then pushed the blade into the cabinet.
At first Angelina felt the fire and ice sensation in a line down the front of her belly, then it hit all the pleasure centres in her lower body at once. She'd imagined the possible pleasures of having a skilled lover, but this exceeded those imaginings, by many times. Angelina screamed her pleasure until ever the most sceptical member of the audience could not mistake it for anything other than a scream of unleashed rapture.
With the blade in place, Melinda gave the cabinet a full turn, which Angelina did not notice, because she was concentrating on trying to remember as much as possible of the pleasures she had experienced.
Angelina was still breathing heavily, when Melinda said, "I think it is time to move on to stage two."
"Does that mean that I've passed stage one?" asked Angelina, between intakes of breath.
"You have; and I think you'll do well with stage two, too."
"I hope that's good, but I don't know what has happened."
"I'll explain later, just brace yourself for stage two; I'll go and get the bits I need."
The audience knew what they thought had happened; Angelina had been squeezed into a box with her hands, head and lower legs left visible and the box she was in had been divided into five sections, each with one of Angelina's visible parts sticking out. Most of them still thought that this was a very clever illusion and wondered how Melinda was going to make stage two more impressive than what they had already seen.
From the large box behind the cabinet Melinda pulled a set of five rectangular things. From behind Angelina, she showed the first of them to be a thin-walled metal tube. The shown tube she set against the back of one of the top corner sections and then the magician thrust it through until part of the front of that section dropped to the floor with a clatter. As Melinda peeked at the audience through the gap that opened in the cabinet, Angelina asked, "What was that?"
"What was what?" Melinda with mock innocence in her tone.
"You know what I mean," accused the assistant. "There was a noise of something hitting the floor, but more importantly, why does my shoulder, upper arm and lower thigh feel strange?"
"The noise was a panel coming off of the cabinet to show our lovely audience what I have achieved with the first part on stage two. It is going to happen again four more times before stage two is done."
Melinda picked up a second tube and more briefly than before showed it empty, but solid, then pushed it through the remaining upper corner of the cabinet.
The panel that was dislodged, made some noise, which covered Angelina saying that the strangeness had spread to her other shoulder. Melinda went round the front and moved the panels onto the base of the illusion. Once round the back she added another two panels from the back to the stack and then brought two larger tubes round the front. It took a few moments to insert these through the lower sections on the cabinet. Angelina was heard to complain that the strange feeling was spreading, but not in a tone that implied that she found it distressing.
Another trip behind the cabinet, most of which could now be seen through, had another panel stowed on the cabinet's base and the last tube brought to the front and displayed to the onlookers. The magician then showed the rectangular metal tube to her assistant. She advanced on the cabinet, while Angelina, stammer questions about where it was going and protests that there definitely not enough room in the cabinet as it was. The audience could see that there was no room in the cabinet for the assistant to hide, even without the addition of this final tube.
The tube went through the remaining section of the cabinet, with no apparent resistance, then Melinda stood aside to allow the audience to appreciate the view through Angelina, even if it was not a particularly spectacular view through to the backdrop.
"Now most of my body feels strange," said Angelina.
"That's ok. You are expected to have unusual sensations throughout this illusion. because it is full of things that you have never experienced. Now it is time to prepare for stage three, while the audience get a good look at your predicament."
The preparation that Melinda did was to set out three wide trestles across the front of the stage and lay a couple of light-weight boards across them.
Most of the audience were trying to puzzle out how Angelina could be in a box that now contained vastly less space that it had to begin with, which, even then, was too small to hide one person. The cabinet now seemed to consist of five thick tubes stacked together, the wall of each of these tubes was no more than two or three inches thick; from the outside of each of these tubes stuck one of Angelina's limbs and her head and there was no space to the parts that these visible parts should be attached to.
"Are you ready for stage three?" called Melinda.
Before Angelina could express any reservations, the audience returned a resounding 'Yes!'
Melinda went to the cabinet and put a hand into each end of the nearest upper tube. She braced herself and pulled.
Angelina caught the movement out of the corner of her eye and her jaw dropped to the stock round her neck, as the adjacent stock complete with its section of lower leg was carried away and deposited on the end of the trestle table that Melinda had set up. This was also the first time that the assistant saw that most of the sub-part of the cabinet was ventilated by a tube.
Melinda did not stop there; Angelina's other leg was soon carried with its section of cabinet and placed on the other end of the makeshift table.
"What do you make of that?" asked Melinda as she returned to the cabinet and took a hold of the top middle of the cabinet.
"I don't know what to think. Am I seeing what I think I'm seeing, or are you actually doing magic with me at last?"
Melinda retrieved the remaining two sections from the posts of the base and inverted them so that Angelina could wave to the audience.
"That is the end of our show, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you had a memorable time and wish you a safe journey home. Those who wish to may come up and check out what I have done to Angelina. I had better get backstage and start packing up, because I've temporarily not got an assistant to help me." To Angelina she whispered, "Don't worry, I'll fix you later. Have fun, and I love you."
Angelina whispered back, "I love you too!"