The Illusionist by Michael J. Solender

It was the kind of occasion where if you blinked, you surely would miss the sleight of hand he employed to achieve the illusion.

All week my crew and I waited for the snuff party. An obscure fete where someone gets killed strictly for the entertainment and viewing pleasure of others. Before you judge us know this, people die every day for no reason at all. The arrangements made in these underground “snuffs” were such that all were willing participants, all played a role, all were compensated in one way or another.

That’s why we paid so much money. He said we’d not be sorry, “Your monies worth and then some, memories that will excite you for a lifetime.

Rich and bored is a deadly combination for thrill seekers. We were all fortunate that our fathers were born before us. We’d had it with coke and girls and gambling and other vices we could very easily manipulate, we needed more, perhaps more than we could handle.

Murder, and one staged on our behalf at that for us to witness was something else again.

His apartment was as we expected, clean lines, brass and glass and all sorts of magic paraphernalia. Photos of Houdini, David Copperfield and others hung on his walls. We were about to witness the greatest magic of all, the extinguishing of a life.

We were to know nothing about the victim. For our own safety he said.

Upon collecting the cash, he gave us each a cocktail and told us the show would begin in a moment.

My throat immediately began to tighten, not from any apprehension but from the strychnine in my drink. The inferno in my throat was laying waste to my esophagus and my lungs were burning as I gasped for air.

My friends did nothing in assisting me, my last view was the glee on their faces. They each stood over me as the blood spit from my eyes streaking red a sun that would rise for me no more.

“Oh yes,” the illusionist said, “A brilliant performance for you gentlemen.”

As I lay dying I had to admit, I was no longer bored.


Michael J. Solender is the editor of Full of Crow’s nonfiction magazine,  On The Wing. You can find more of his work at his website and also at the NOT.

20 thoughts on “The Illusionist by Michael J. Solender”

  1. I once met a guy who called runaway street teens “free range chickens” because, he said (though who really knows), he’d tasted some. For a moment I thought that’s where your sparky little story was going to go.
    One question I have for you and others who write their own death scenes is, how does the story get written if the protagonist dies before our eyes?

  2. “The only horrible thing in the world is ennui, Dorian. That is the sin for which there is no forgiveness.” Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

  3. Michael,

    As per usual, excellent.

    My particular thrill? As we’re going along, we expect something to happen to someone outside of the story, not in the group.

    We definitely do not see the narrator choking on the strychnine and as our brains register what’s going on, it’s like when the bus comes to sudden stop, everything goes flying one way and then back the other. Same thing with our brains.

    Thanks for making my gray matter hit the front of my skull, Michael. Made my day.

  4. “Solender clever” — hell, yeah. Jeez, I’m coming to expect nothing less from you. Tight and fast, and I didn’t see it until it was too late (well, hell, neither did he).

    I’m not bored anymore, either. 😉

  5. Short and sweet. When the spoiled little shit’s throat began to tighten, I’m sure my own face was bright with glee. I was hoping all their throats would tighten, too, but you can’t have everything.

    Brilliant, Michael. brilliant.

  6. “My friends did nothing in assisting me, my last view was the glee on their faces.” Such clean, yet evokative phrasing.

    Smoothly written, and with a very satisfying conclusion…much like a good glass of red. (!)

  7. Michael, I read this story with my first cup of tea. You always deliver, even when your dead. 🙂

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