Dealing with the Devil: A Cautionary Tale

Prompt Day #255: Give a character an occupation involving cages (warden, zookeeper, dancer, wrestler…) and then trap them inside of one.

Dealing with the Devil

A Cautionary Tale

Chazz Sloane needed a gimmick. Every good magician had one. David Blaine took the human body to its limits, Chriss Angel had his street magic and 1980’s Goth look. Chazz knew all the classic tricks and it kept his calendar booked with parties and conferences. It paid the bills, but he wanted more. Chazz Sloane wanted his own show in Vegas. He wanted fame and all the women that came with it. Chazz learned early in his magic career that if you weren’t famous, you were a loser nerd destined to spend a lot of money on KY and Kleenex.

It was after a lonely night spent in this way, that desperation guided Chazz to the internet’s darker realms. He’d reached the limits of his abilities and he was willing to do or try anything. By midnight, he’d found Satan’s personal website where you could electronically sign your soul over for your deepest desires. Chazz put in his request for magical abilities, scrolled through the Terms of Agreement, clicked the yes, I agree button and was in bed asleep before he could give it a second thought.

When you are in the business of creating, waking up with a fresh idea is one of the best feelings in the world. For a second rate magician barely making ends meet, waking up with not only a fresh but an unbelievable idea was worth his loss of his eternal soul, after all, that was a long ways off, he could worry about that when he was lying by the pool of his Vegas mansion.

The idea involved cages. Cages with bars. Bars are see through. If a magician could take something and transfer it from one side of the bars to the other, that would be something! And if he could say, rearrange an entire zoo, he could guarantee his fame and permanent place in magical history.

He knew he had the power to do it. He felt it. He practiced with some mice he bought at the pet shop and there was nothing to it. There was no physics to figure out, no mirrors or optical illusions to graph schematics for. Just power exchanged for his soul. Now all he needed to do was find a zoo that would agree to a little temporary rearranging in front of a live audience. Of course he would dangle the idea of a special after hours VIP event that the zoo could charge special rates for in order to get their agreement.

The only zoo that would even consider his outlandish idea was a small locally owned “Exotic” Zoo full of tired, pale creatures trapped in small barren cages reminiscent of the zoos of the seventies. The cougars, chimps, zebras, and one matted lion barely raised their heads with interest as Chazz toured the facilities, mapping out his ideas. An interesting feature of this zoo was the large fence that surrounded the entire property. Guests entered the souvenir shop, purchased tickets and were then let through the fence gate. Chazz assumed this was in case a crazed exotic beast decided it had nothing left to lose and escaped its particular enclosure, it was still in fact caged with in the park, making capture that much easier.

This gave Chazz an outrageous idea. An idea so crazy, that if he could do it (and he had no doubt he could) it would ensure his first step on the ladder to fortune. The flyers were sent out, advertisements purchased, and tickets sold out in hours. An unexpected boost in sales came from an animal rights group that saw his stunt as a statement on the mistreatment of these animals and perhaps all animals in zoos. Their social media support lead to several interviews and TV stations coming on board for this now eagerly anticipated magic event.

Chazz Sloane, Transporting Magician, proposed to take an entire live audience and in a feat of unimaginable wizardry, transfer them inside the animal cages while at the same time putting the animals outside in the viewing areas.

Chazz spent his time, not in constructing elaborate bait and switch illusions, but in writing a spell to call on the powers of dark magic to do his bidding. When the time came and the viewers were gathered in their places, TV cameras and lights bright in his eyes, and the animals tense and pacing in their cages, Chazz Sloane spoke into the mic attached to his earpiece. His incantation called for an exchange of body and souls, human and animals, the viewers and the viewed.

The instant his voice and its echoes ceased, all lights went black; there was a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning. Screams of panic and roars of feline agitation mingled as their molecules passed in the ozone created by the added electricity. When the lights and cameras regained their power and those caged by the success of the stunt were able to adjust to the light, only one person remained screaming. Chazz Sloane, lone human, stood among a group of crazed, feral predators for a single split second before falling into a frenzy of feeding. Chazz Sloane who had called for the audience and animals to change places, who hadn’t realized that he was not technically a member of the audience and therefore was not part of the charm, who hadn’t read the terms and conditions before signing an agreement with the Lord of Evil gave his audience a stunt that would indeed go down in annals of magic history. He would indeed be remembered and become famous for the stunt he paid for with his soul.