“The eyes are faster than the hands. The brain is even faster than the eyes, that’s why you have to attack the brain. Magic is then surprise, before everything, surprise.”
Elijah Lye was admitted to the penitentiary only five days before he broke out. After his escape he was only seen again six years later, but that is suspected to be a rumor. However, his story became somewhat of a legend for those people that knew him, or heard of him. It was a favorite at parties when one wanted to impress with a fascinating account. And also on those lazy days when one was sprawled under the shade of a tree with friends or close ones or children, and the mind’s eye was all one had to entertain. Elijah’s magic assured him a place in every generation.
His crime was murder. His assistant Haiiti died of poisoning, on stage, with four hundred witnesses to attest to it. After he asked her to swallow an allegedly sugar-coated apple peel in the shape of a rose, which was supposed to bloom a few seconds later on top of her right ear, she crumbled to the ground like an abandoned marionette and was pronounced dead by Lye himself.
If one were to judge at a moment like this, saying nothing would have been wiser as panic spreads through crowds like fire. Lye however, said it out loud to overcome denial. He looked up at his crowd with wide, anxious eyes and the once-amused audience stared back at him with fear and suspicion. There were gasps, sobs and mumbling all around him. Some people started to leave. Someone loudly suggested calling the police.
His arrest came as a shock to the whole community. Elijah Lye was a shy, graceful and elegant man, one who would have easily incorporated himself into haughty circles such as a literary society or an elite club. Instead, he opted for magic despite the popular image people had of it; that of a circus segment. He bulldozed his way to a professional and respected career, giving no attention to the denigration that was cast at him on the way. His perseverance paid off at the end when tickets to his shows started selling out within an hour after they had gone up for sale. From then on, and until his imprisonment, Elijah Lye was the most admired gentleman in his town and its’ vicinities.
After the aforementioned incident, gossiping about the murder was as much a part of the daily routine as was brushing one’s teeth. However, all the tales that were tossed around were untrue, exaggerated or narrated in a very dull manner. What you’re about to read is the real account of the events as they had happened on that fateful week.
On the first day of his incarceration, the prison guard started to complain about strange happenings in Lye’s cell. First, it was the window changing its position whenever he looked. Initially, it was supposed to be located right on top of his bed, on the right hand corner of the cell. But when Moren, the prison guard, was going around the cells to check on the prisoners, he was perceptive enough to notice that the window was now on the left hand corner. His first reaction was to shut his eyes tightly for a few seconds and open them again. No, he wasn’t dreaming it up; the window had indeed changed its location.
Meanwhile, Lye was standing solid in the center of the cell, twiddling his thumbs.
This episode was received with a great deal of hilarity from the town inhabitants. No one believed the guard. Some went as far as abusing him publicly. Lye was without doubt a talented magician, but supernatural powers he had not.
On the second day, Moren waited an extra hour before giving Lye his dinner. He eyed him suspiciously as he slipped the food tray through the opening. When he came back hours later, to take away the tray, Lye was once again standing dead center in the middle of the cell. He raised his arms, and with sinuous movements traced the shape of a large circle in the air. Instantly, bright light spilled in from between the window bars and inundated the whole room.
“What in god’s name is happening here?!”
Moren was now on his knees, shielding his eyes with his arm, and his tone was desperate. When he finally raised his head and looked up, Lye was sitting on his bed, looking down at Moren with a sardonic look in his face.
These occurrences caused special delight to the people. Moren was now pitied, and some people believed they were humoring him when they told him that Lye was a powerful and dangerous man and that caution was necessary when dealing with him. In return for their compassion, they asked him to come to them first and foremost the next time he witnessed one of Lye’s phenomena. In reality, everyone wanted to be the prime source of gossip in town and only a handful of persons truly believed in Moren’s sightings.
Lye got a visitor on the third night: A woman. Though he was not allowed any visitors, she was let in on the account that she was Haiiti’s sister. Moren stood behind her, against the wall, watching grudgingly for any irregular interactions between them. She and Lye spoke gently for ten minutes; five of which she spent in tears. He seemed to be able to provide her with the comfort she needed, for when she left, she seemed a lot calmer and happier than her initial state. Moren was curious, but too terrified of Lye to make a move to appease that condition.
The following day brought forth astonishing tidings. News of Moren’s psychotic state could have been sold for the price of a house. It was said that he lost the ability to talk. However, later in the day, he recounted to his doctor what came to pass.
“I don’t know how or why, but there were rectangles all over the wall. I’m betting on charcoal. The easiest thing to smuggle into prison is charcoal. And he’s a magician, is he not? He could’ve used magic to get it, how should I know? I don’t know why sir but the symbols frightened me. My head started to spin from looking at them. Then I noticed him, standing in the corner, where the window was three days ago. But it was back to where it had been. You believe me don’t you? The window moved back, but he was there, a giant! He was at least ten feet tall sir!”
“Yes sir, a giant. But it was him, it was Lye. Could he have used magic to turn into a giant? Is he that sort of magician? I’m not proud of what I did, but I ran away as fast as I could and I even got sick on my desk. I must have lost consciousness then…”
So that’s how it happened. Moren was replaced by a stronger stomached guard. Lye’s cell contained no rectangles or symbols of any sort, but it did seem that the walls were dirtier than they should have been. Lye was proportional and his usual silent self.
It was on the fifth day that the magician performed his majestic and much-discussed finale. A black cloud impregnated the cell and caused a little panic to the new guard. He could see absolutely nothing. He feared that Lye had somehow set his bed on fire, but he had no time to muse upon whether this was done intentionally or not. He contemplated calling the fire department but the expectations on his shoulders weighed heavy. The last thing he wanted was to lose credibility as Moren had. It was, after all, his first day at work. So instead, he opened the door to Lye’s cell to determine the cause of the black smoke and to deal with it single-handedly.
Suddenly, three loud thumps sounded off outside, and the black cloud settled down as dust over the ground, the guard and the intact bed. It was only then that the new guard realized what a foolish thing he had done.
Elijah Lye had disappeared.
Though he swore that his body was blocking the entrance of the cell, it was clear that the new guard would be held accountable for the escape of the great magician. Theories about Lye’s getaway were passed around like cards. Every little detail was dissected then recomposed but the only person who knew the truth was Elijah Lye himself. He was said to be fond of his fans, and this reputation was fortified when the note that he left behind was found:
“I bid you farewell, friends, with my greatest magic trick to date, for it is nothing, after all, but a trick.”