James started the magic show doing card tricks, hat tricks, and other types of sleight of hand. Then, pretending to trip, he tipped his hat over a table, which was my cue to fall out from behind the hidden compartment near the top. The hat had been used for a number of tricks before I slipped inside as a kitty, so the audience had probably thought it empty. When he snapped his fingers, I leaped from the table up onto his palm. I could tell at a glance they admired him as they should. James was amazing. Unfortunately, many were now staring at me.
“Yes, she’s far more adorable than a rabbit pulled from a hat, isn’t she, folks? Far more intelligent too.” insisted James. Leaning down so his head was next to me, he nodded and then said, “Oh. They doubt you? No, look again. That’s not doubt, but awe.” He stood upright and gestured to me. “Give her a big round of applause, and maybe we can convince her to prove to you how utterly amazing she is.”
After the crowd had applauded, James said, “Thank you! Thank you. What would you like to see her do first? How about teleportation?”
Many people in the audience smiled at the suggestion, and others clap their hands. James progressed with the act, gesturing with his hand to activate the signaling device. There was a puff of smoke over the table, hiding the transparent tubes the rose out of it
He gently set me on the table, opened the nearby tube, and patted my head while saying, “Here you are, my lady.”
I knew my part and stepped inside, using my mouth to shut the door after I entered. I almost jumped when the audience applauded. Aaliyah had written into the script that they would, but I hadn’t believed it. I should have known that the princess would accurately predict them.
James stepped away from the table, smiling at the audience. “Now I’m sure some of you are already making guesses as to how our little friend here will teleport from one tube to the other, but you can keep on guessing as I remain over here.”
He then snapped his fingers, signaling the mist to fill both tubes. There was an electrical effect that shot between the tubes as an additional distraction. I had two seconds to open the secret compartment, get inside, shut it, enter the other tube from the secret tunnel in the table, and shut that hatch. I could have managed in a tiny fraction of the time.
This applause I was expecting, since the audience wouldn’t know how simple this trick was. I stepped outside of the tube and took a bow. The audience applauded again.
“Isn’t she every bit as talented as I promised? For our next trick, I’m going to allow Raine to saw me in half. Yes, you heard me correctly. This cute cat will be sawing me in half.” announced James with a wink and another smile.
Some of the audience laughed while others shook their heads. No one seemed to believe he was serious, but they did not know the princess was behind these tricks.
James assisted me in putting on a lab coat, wheeled out the machine with the sawblade, and gently moved me to the controls. He placed the two-by-four under the blade and ducked for cover when I activated the machine. There were some who laughed as he had ducked away, but many oohed after the two-by-four was cut. After clearing the debris, James confidently moved his box under the blade, pushing out the false feet once he was inside. I dutifully activated the machine and watched as his box was cut in half. I then pulled the lever to separate the box’s two pieces.
Tilting his head to see and smile at them, James asked the audience for requests on how he should move his feet as proof that they were his. He obliged the numerous shouts, using the voice recognition system the princess had made to cause the feet to follow his commands.
After a little demonstration, he said, “Those of you who are faint of heart should look away for this next part for Raine is all paws at using glue. Please excuse me if I start coming apart again after the show. The glue occasionally breaks on us.”
I lowered the big lever to put the boxes back together. Then I carried a bottle of glue across the machine and hopped with it onto the box. After some dramatic acting on James’ part as I pretended to glue him together, he stood up, revealing that he was whole.
Our act continued with the audience participating in card tricks, followed by levitation stunts, and then me using a crystal ball to act like a psychic. The last trick was especially nerve-racking for me, since James wasn’t helping with it. The princess had written a sophisticated bit of software which she implemented in a crystal ball to predict what answer I should give to questions asked by the audience members. My prompts appeared within the crystal ball, written too small for human eyes to notice. Then I was required to do impromptu acting as an attempt to convey the answers for the audience. Despite my performances, the audience seemed enthusiastic about the show.
I did my best to stay calm after the show when the girls wanted to come and pet me. I kept reminding myself that James was nearby. He would come save me if necessary. I could do this. The seconds seemed even longer than normal as I endured the attention, but I managed to get through. I then waited as James slowly took apart the props and stage, loading them back into the truck.
“Sorry to keep you, but I simply must ask… would you be willing to sell that cat?” asked Mrs. Vander, the birthday girl’s mother.
My fur stood on end as I heard those words. Countless scenarios of me being trapped in this place passed through my head before I could reassure myself that there was nothing here which would hold a monster. As far as I knew, there was nothing anywhere which could contain me. Furthermore, James was kind, too kind to try selling me.
“I really can’t sell her. She’s quite popular among my employees, and I can’t imagine she’d ever forgive me if I let her go. I would be quite willing to help find another cat suitable for your daughter if that would help.” he replied diplomatically.
“I can’t imagine training one so well to be very quick. I’m willing to pay a great deal if you’ll sell her to me this instant.” she insisted.
“No matter the price, I can’t sell my friend. She’s one of a kind. Please excuse me. I do have another engagement soon.” he insisted, scooping me up in one of his hands.
James had called me his friend. The thought elated me. Then the guilt came along with whispers from the dark place in my mind. He didn’t know me. He didn’t know that he held a monster. He had no clue that I could cause destruction by accident. With a turn, I could brush aside this semi truck, sending it flying miles away. The truck was fragile. Everything was fragile. If he knew that I was a monster, I was certain he could never call me ‘friend’.
Stepping aside, Mrs Vander said, “Well, thank you for listening. I do understand. We all loved the performance. Don’t be surprised if we ask you here again next year!”
James gently sat me on the seat after he hopped inside. I curled up on the passenger side and let myself zone. My stress for today was done. Well, not really. The stress was never done, but surely things couldn’t get any worse. Plus, I made money. I actually performed a job successfully and earned a paycheck! The paycheck couldn’t get rid of the voices here in the city. I could hear the conversations of thousands and thousands of people as if they stood next to me, but the paycheck would help me fit in with the people. I was a working girl now. Would Mom be proud?
I could hardly believe what was happening as the doors of the trailer in front of us opened. I should have warned James. I realized I had heard the men speaking to one another among the other voices. I hadn’t paid enough attention. Were they going to attack us? I saw energy moving around them, slowly attempting to form patterns. I was terrified that I would need to act. I would never allow anyone to hurt James, even if I must reveal that I am a monster to him, but I didn’t want to kill. What if I went too far? What if I hurt these people? The bloody mush that was left of the werewolves from when I was a toddler came to mind along with my mother’s terrified face. Killing was effortless and terrible.
The world sat frozen to me between one thought and the next. There was a chance that I could leave the vehicle, move all of the men behind us, kick away the semi, and be back inside before James knew what was happening. He was barely faster than a human. No. Wait. The semi might hurt people if I kicked it. I’d have to take the time to find a new place for it and be careful not to break it. If I wasn’t careful, shrapnel could rip off of things I moved, destroying what they hit more easily than bullets. Bullets were far, far too slow. Even James could dodge a bullet. Moving people required extra care. If I didn’t focus on keeping them safe… I shuddered and shoved the thought out of my mind.
The scenarios continued to play through my head as I considered what to do, what was safe to do. Some time later, I noticed that James was moving energy as well. Was I safe not to act? I decided to wait. The bad men were moved and seemed pinned. The other semi and trailer were lifted into the air, allowing James to drive under it. No one was harmed. James was safe. He was amazing!
I did my best to focus on the way home, staying alert in case anything should happen. I listened to the confusion of the men James had bound behind us with his magic, and giggled in my head. They thought he was scary. James was extremely gentle and caring, but the bad men thought he was scary. They were lucky I didn’t need to act.