Today’s prompt from DIYMFA’s Writer Igniter was: a retired magician; trapped; red shoes; a tropical/jungle setting


“Breathe,” he told himself. “Slow and even. Keep your heart rate down. Don’t waste a molecule of oxygen.”

It was how he had always done it. Sure the old escapology tricks had been mostly illusion, but there had always been that moment, when The Lovely Samantha, or The Adorable Annette, or The Luscious Lavinia had slammed down the lid of whatever contraption this decade’s audiences had wanted to see him escape from. That moment before he found the tripwire, the trigger, the trapdoor, when he had felt his confinement. The moment of panic. The moment he had always had to talk himself through.

It was a funny occupation for a claustrophobic, he would say, only half-joking. His parents had only been able to scrape together enough cash to pay a cut-rate therapist. She was the one who had come up with the crazy idea. And so, the Amazing Toddini had been born…and had paid his parents back from the money he earned with his first few performances for astounded neighbors.

Over the decade, though, his audiences had become harder to impress even as his body had resisted his efforts to contort it into smaller and smaller spaces.

Tank God for cable. That final HBO special and been enough to buy him the ultimate escape, here to his tropical paradise.

Of course, he hadn’t reckoned on his need for applause. Hadn’t thought about the consequences when he’d rigged up that elaborate illusion simply to delight his village neighbor’s daughter. The new red shoes she’d been coveting in the marketplace had been easy enough to secure. They’d been hidden under his sarong all along, of course, but when he’d produced them from nowhere and presented them to the confounded girl, it had looked like witchcraft.

And now here he was, confined to a 4’x 4′ corrugated iron cell. Breathing slowly. Trying not to panic. And this time the only trapdoor waiting for him was one he didn’t want to trigger.

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