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The Magician

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Tom was sitting in his chair watching the security cameras, "Another boring uneventful night." He sighed and rested his head in his hand. He was working at an insane asylum, jail type of place. He didn't like sitting at a screen all day but he had no other choice.

Throughout the night, he had to listen to the inmates complain about how they had no food or the spaces were getting smaller, "Hey, let me out! It's getting smaller."

"No me! I haven't eaten in days."

Some of them however, had a reason to act the way they do. Some of them were actually insane and deserve to be there, others faked insanity just to get better living quarters. 

More like cells, he thought to himself. He continued reading a book and ignoring the prisoners. After a few minutes, his eyes were getting very heavy. They felt like anvils as they slowly dropped over his eyes. 

Clank, clank, clank! Metal clattering against metal awoke the guard with a start.

Down the hall, he could hear a man, "Mind if I have a deck of cards sir?"

Tom yelled back, "Beg your pardon?"

The man from down the hall said, "Cards sir. Like playing cards." Tom obliged and brought the man a black checkered deck from a nearby locker.

The man got excited and immediately took the deck out of the package, shuffling, "Would you care to see a trick, sir?" Tom was surprised at the prisoner's kindness and gentleman-like attitude.

He pulled up a chair, "I'd love to, Mr...?" The prisoner didn't answer.

The man spread out the deck and said, "Pick a card, if you would." The guard took out a card from the deck, the eight of clubs.

The prisoner cut the deck in half and said, "Please put it back."

Tom did as he said and the prisoner shuffled the deck, "So tell me about your wife, and... son? You have a son don't you? David, isn't it?" The guard nodded.

How did he know I have a son? Tom couldn't put the puzzle pieces together as the man smiled and shuffled more. He didn't answer, but the prisoner asked him another question, making his heart sink, "Carmen, your wife, how is she?"

The guard didn't respond. Tom looked the man behind the bars up and down, trying to figure out who he really is.

Still smiling, the prisoner gave the deck to the guard through the bars, "Look through this deck and tell me if you can find your card, please." The guard did so and couldn't find it. He shrugged and gave it back.

"So what? Anyone can do that trick. Next time you show a trick. Don't do something a four year old can do." Tom got up from his seat and walked away. As he walked away, something grazed his cheek and cut it. The object pinned itself in the wall: a card.

"I'm not finished," the man behind the bars said. Tom sighed and sat back down.

The man set the deck down and said, "Oh really? It's been a while since you were last sick. Maybe you still are. Cough." He imitated a coughing sound. The guard did so and felt something in the back of his throat. He coughed more but to no avail, the object was stuck.

The guard started choking on it and screamed at the man, "You've poisoned me!"

The man stood up smiling, "No good sir, not poison." Falling to his knees, Tom felt his life slipping away as his throat swelled and his face turned blue. He fell to the ground and after a few more seconds, stopped moving.

The man reached for the officer's keys and unlocked the door, kneeling beside him, "My friend, you don't know what real magic is." He reached into his throat and pulled a wrinkled piece of paper.

He unfolded it and showed it to the guard's lifeless face, "Is this your card?" The eight of clubs was staring back into Tom's fear-stricken eyes.

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