The Magician: Chapter 3 (An Andromache Jones Mystery Short Story)

About The Magician: An Andromache Jones Mystery

“I am about to set you a challenge, Miss Jones, one that has very real life and death consequences.”

Andromache Jones has somehow managed to capture the attention of The Magician and finds herself caught up in The Game, his challenge that has very real life and death consequences, and not only for her. Can she complete the test he has set in the allotted time and live to see another day, or will failure, and The Magician triumph?

Read Chapter 1 Here or find the Index to All Chapters Here

Chapter 3

The Rules

Suddenly the notion that The Game was real dawned on Mac. The way in which he said he hoped she would make it home made her blood run cold. She was going to have to play, whether she wanted to or not, if she wanted to live.

‘Time is moving on; we have a schedule to keep, I’m afraid. On reflection I should have allowed more time to sit and talk with you; it is not often I make mistakes, and it is even rarer that I admit them.’ He began pacing the room.

‘We have established why you are here, we have named the players. The start of The Game approaches,’ The Magician said in an excitable tone. ‘But what is a game without rules?’ he asked rhetorically. ‘It wouldn’t be fun without a set of parameters in which to confine The Game, would it?’

He walked over to Mac, removed her blindfold and untied her wrists. The sudden light hurt her eyes; she considered trying to make an escape, but quickly realised that in this condition and with The Magician’s penchant for planning, she wouldn’t get far.

‘Your eyesight will be blurry for a little while yet. I have no fear of you seeing enough of me to provide a decent description to the police, if you live. Of course, I hope you do survive, but rules are rules, and we must stick to them or chaos will reign.’

Mac looked around, trying to make out details of the room she was in, but nothing stood out. She saw blurs of dark colour. She could see a faint light hanging from the ceiling.

Nevertheless, when The Magician stood in front of her, she could see what he was wearing. He looked like something out of a Victorian costume drama; he was dressed very formally. Black trousers, white shirt, black dress shoes that clicked slightly as he walked. Over the white shirt he wore a waistcoat, and over that a dinner jacket; on his head was a top hat, and soft, white cotton gloves graced his hands. He appeared to be holding a crystal-topped cane. However, just as he had informed her, Mac could not make out any features of his face, bar his facial hair; a broad black moustache swept in waves above his mouth, and a pointed goatee beard sat on his chin. For all she knew these were fake and had been glued onto his face.

‘You have a dramatic style.’

‘Thank you for noticing, Miss Jones. It goes with my dramatic nature, don’t you think?’

‘It’s very… Victorian.’

‘I knew you would understand. The era of real gentlemen, when the name magician meant something. If only we had had the chance to meet before now…every magician requires a beautiful assistant.’ He picked up one of her hands in his gloved hand and kissed it. ‘But alas, The Game calls.’

‘I have a question.’

‘That’s what I want to hear, that you are getting into The Game. It makes it so much more likely that you will survive. Ask away.’

‘What is the purpose of The Game? What does it entail? What is the point of it?’

‘Well, the purpose is to test your levels of deduction and the gifts you possess; it entails a challenge made up of smaller tests, and the point of it? To see whether you can beat me at my own game.’

‘But what do I have to do? Have I to steal something? Solve a riddle?’

‘That will become clear shortly. Any other questions?’

‘No.’

‘Good, now on with the rules…

‘Number one: you must play,’ he said, beginning to pace the room as his movements became more animated. ‘Refuse to play, and I will be forced to shoot you in the back of the head.

‘Number two: you must play alone. Speaking to anyone other than The Magician, moi, or yourself, will result in a bullet to the back of the head, unless of course, you are instructed to do so.

‘Number three: you may only use the items that you begin The Game with. These items can be found here on this table. If it’s not on this table, you cannot use it. Use something that isn’t on this table, and you will find a bullet in the back of your head.

‘Number four: the only phone you can use will be the one on the table; you are not allowed to use any other phone until you complete The Game.

‘Number five: if by chance you come across a computer or any other device that is connected to the internet, you are prohibited from using it. No internet access is allowed whilst The Game is in play.

‘Number six: do not test my commitment to my rules. I will be observing you at all times. Break the rules and you will die. You will of course, be aware that some of your predecessors did not heed this warning. I have had to dispose of six out of the past twelve contestants.

‘That makes you contestant number thirteen. I hope you approve as it was no accident. The number thirteen is considered sacred in witchcraft, is it not?’

‘It is.’

‘Splendid. So, the rules have been laid out. All the pieces of the puzzle can be found on this table. If you need to speak with me, my number is in the phone. I stress, if you are unsure of something, ask first, or you will regret it, ma cherie.

‘One more thing, the challenges I create have a time limit. If you don’t successfully complete the test within the allotted time… bang,’ he said, holding his fingers in the shape of a gun.

‘Your time limit is three hours, three minutes and three seconds. I like to be precise. Again, I hope you are pleased with the reference to another sacred pagan number.You have been truly inspirational in this challenge and I must thank you for that. The others were so common and…well normal. To compete with a clever witch, a psychic one at that, has really made me think about what I am doing. It has posed a challenged in itself.’

‘It’s a shame that you didn’t delve a little deeper into The Craft and come across the ‘harm none’ tenet. Then perhaps there would be no need for The Game.’

‘Where would be the fun in that? I thought that you understood, about me, about The Game. I was wrong.’ He sounded hurt.

‘Murder is not fun.’

‘And neither is failure, Miss Jones. I hope you will remember that.’


Chapter 4 coming next weekor you can read the whole short story right now, for FREE, over on Wattpad

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