The audience rose one more time to show their appreciation for Mad Martin’s tricks. Madison Square Garden was full, not a seat in the house, and the magician on stage was soaking up every bit of praise the audience could dole out. He turned with a flourish, raising his arms as a large screen dropped down from above.
“Behold! My greatest trick, the most bold and daring that I have ever taken on! And you, yes all of you, will be a part of it tonight!” He turned back to the audience as a countdown started from ten, and Lovely Luna walked off stage, waving and blowing kisses as she went. “We all wonder what it would be like to rule the world, don’t we? I have decided to take the ultimate step and do just that. I have mastered the art of controlling electricity, conjuring food, and creating water, as you have all seen here tonight! In effect, I am my own messiah! Which is why I don’t believe I need any of you any longer.”
The audience looked at one another, confused.
“Don’t bother leaving. Your card is already punched,” Mad Martin said, the countdown already at three. “We may as well watch my handiwork, right? You see, I’ve been poisoning the world’s water supply during my rise to stardom, and I’ve calculated it all to precisely now. Tonight is the night where the poison has reached lethality, not only for you, here, but for the entire world!”
The countdown hit zero, and footage of an outdoor concert came on screen.
“This is in California,” Mad Martin said, gesturing to the image. “Now pay attention.”
The audience watched in horror as the crowd, who were once a dancing and writhing mass, fell over on top of each other, like a dominoes game gone to hell.
“Perfect, isn’t it?” Mad Martin said, laughing. The screen turned to a scene from downtown Denver, where crowds of people were lying dead on the sidewalk, and the streets were clogged with recent automobile accidents.
Mad Martin moved over to his conjured meal and sat down, starting to cut at a piece of chicken as the screen flickered again, moving east across the United States. The audience watched the screen in silence. Now, it showed the El in Chicago, off its track, dangling over a wreck of dead commuters. Then, Atlanta’s freeway system appearing like a scene from a disaster film, with smoke and fire rising every hundred feet.
“Which brings us to right here,” Mad Martin said, taking a sip of conjured water. He turned to the audience. “You all have ten seconds to live. Make good use of your time.”
There was a flurry of activity. Cell phones flew out of pockets. Couples threw themselves at each other. Others just sat and cried. Ten seconds is not a long time to settle life’s affairs, and before anyone had said their goodbyes, they were all dead in their seats.
Mad Martin sat back down to eat and watch his masterpiece. Tourists and employees of the Tower of London, lying on the cobblestones. Men, women, and children, piled on top of each other in front of the Mona Lisa. The Red Square covered in corpses dressed against the cold. The path to the Taj-Mahal littered with lifeless bodies.
He smiled as the screen showed images of Beijing, of Tokyo, of Sydney, and moved on to more cities over the globe, if only for his sense of completion. Mad Martin sat and marveled at each piece of footage, more pleased with his work as views of each city passed on to the next. It was the ultimate in high entertainment.
When he finished his dinner, he clapped his hands twice. “Luna! Take my plate, please!”
But she did not come. It would have been a most magical of magic tricks for Luna to fetch his plate, as she’d been murdered along with the rest. Mad Martin clapped his hands again, less patient this time, but still no Luna. She was lying on her side, breathless and cold to the touch, backstage.
He did not have a way to un-conjure his food and was unaccustomed cleaning up after himself. So, Mad Martin did what any other spoiled child would do upon not getting what they want: he smashed the dishes and everything else on the table.
His plan was not so well-thought-out after all. He thought he’d accounted for everything, but he’d forgotten one important thing. Being Mad Martin, and the world’s sole ruler, he’d need servants. His loyal servants were all dead, and he’d ensured there was no one left alive to take their place. He did the only thing left to do, he looked at the mess and started to cry.
He was unfamiliar with the sensation, being a man who’d always got everything he ever asked for. He turned away from the carnage of his dinner and walked to the edge of the stage, looking out at the carnage of the concert hall. He wanted his mother. She would have been so proud of him, but she, too, was dead. Likely in her bed at the nursing home he put her in ten years ago.
Mad Martin pulled out his cell phone, staring at this now useless piece of technology. He looked at its black and lonely screen, the waterproof case, the crack in the glass from throwing it one too many times. He held it in his hand, thinking about throwing it again, when it rang. He looked at it as it continued to ring, an incoming call from a blocked number. How could someone be calling him? Hadn’t he accounted for everything? He’d been so careful, ensuring the exact doses of the poison. His hand was shaking as he answered the call and put the phone to his ear.
“Hello?” he said.
“Well played,” said a woman’s voice. “But you’re an amateur. Now it’s my turn.”
© Jordan S Kurella, 2015
FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE FROM TERRIBLEMINDS.COM: MUST CONTAIN 3 THINGS