The Magic Chip

30-Day Flash Challenge, Day 26

Photo by The Organic Crave Company on UNSPLASH.

In the video, the magician takes a chip from a bag; he places it on the counter and rolls up his sleeves. Then, he makes a big production of showing his hands are empty. Slowly and without any tell-tale hints that he’s making “moves,” he raises the chip to his mouth and eats it.

The camera pans down. The chip is back on the counter.

It wasn’t cheap. In fact, it was the single most expensive magic trick I’d ever purchased. I would tell you how much, but you wouldn’t believe me.

I had watched the video promo for the trick thirty-seven times. Now, I know a lot about magic, misdirection, psychological feints, ploys, stratagems, but I had no idea how this illusion worked. All I knew was that this was the trick I had been looking for my whole life, one impossible, reputation-making miracle. I have loads of magic routines, but not one of them holds a candle to this one. I had no choice; I had to add The Magic Chip to my repertoire.

In the video, the magician repeats the effect six more times. No one in their right mind performs a trick seven times in a row. Hell, professionals never repeat a routine – not even once. By repeating it, you run the risk of the spectator figuring out how the trick works.

The Magic Chip was the much-promised, long-expected, and overdue illusion, the perfect magic trick.

All the comments on the video were similar.

“You must think we’re stupid. Is that it? That is obviously trick photography. Not even. All you did was point the camera away when he ate the chip. Hard pass!”

Dozens of magicians made similar comments.

The armchair brigade of magicians sitting at home had deflated the illusion. MagicMan Incorporated would have to pull the product and offer an apology to the public.

But then came a new comment. Seven hours after the product was launched and 147 amateur magicians had roundly dismissed the thing as nothing more than some stunt, Houdini_1028 posted this.

“Y’all are blind. You missed it, didn’t you? He led you down the ivory path of self-deception, and you all went along like obedient little sheep. Do you honestly think the creator wouldn’t think you’d think that? THE MAGICIAN WANTED YOU TO THINK THAT! You’re right about the camera; it does cut away in the first five performances. It also cuts away for a second in the seventh. But what all of you missed is this: the camera didn’t cut away in the sixth. It doesn’t cut away for even a millisecond. I would say more, but this trick is dangerous. You should not buy it.”

That kicked off a whole flurry of new comments. Some people softened the tone of their initial reactions. Others claimed Houdini_1028 was a shill working for MagicMan, trying to drum up more sales for their product.

After that, Houdini_1028 disappeared from the comment thread. In some people’s minds, this was an admission that he had been a stooge, a plant designed to attract more buyers.

Then others pointed out the obvious. If you don’t have to pan the camera away for the trick to work, why not film all seven iterations of the illusion with no cutaways.

Reverse psychology,” some shouted.

Double bluffs,” cried others.

The irony, if Houdini_1028 didn’t want people to buy the trick, his one comment was controversial enough that some people, those blessed with disposable income, did buy it.

The tracking number shows that it’s “out-for-delivery.”

A knock at my door; I rush to open it, sign the tablet indicating I’d received my miracle.

I am so focused on the delivery that I don’t notice whether the delivery-person, was a man or woman.

I study the box carefully. It’s a little smaller and lighter than a toaster.

From now on, I will mark my life by what happened before and what happened after opening this package.

I fight back the urge to rip the box open lest I destroy some delicate mechanism or gimmick crucial to its working.

I carefully peel back each seam and open the cardboard box. Gently, I raise the lid. Inside is a bag of Doritos and a folded sheet of instructions. There’s nothing else in the box.

Doubts fly through my mind.

You fool.

They conned you.

It was camera trickery.

“Relax. This is merely an oversight. After I contact MagicMan, I’m sure they will send me whatever gimmickry is needed to perform the routine,” I say to myself.

Then I have an idea; maybe the missing mechanism is buried in the chips. I delicately pry open the bag of chips and slowly spill them into a mixing bowl.

I don’t see it.

I’m back to contacting MagicMan with an angry email.

I pick up the sheet of instructions. Well, at least I can see what was supposed to be in the package. I can learn the secret, see how it is done for when the gimmick does arrive. I take a deep breath, pick up the folded instructions.

It’s just one page, folded in quarters.

I open it and stare.

I want to throw the instructions down, burn them, run far, far away, but it’s over in an instant. I try to look away from the instructions, but the devilish intent was already planted in my mind.

The sheet is covered in swirly icons, glyphs, sigils, and other magic-with-a-“K” symbols.

The truth is there is no physical mechanism that makes this trick possible.

The truth is I can and have done the illusion. I’ve performed it lots of times.

While there are no physical gadgets behind the illusion, there are infernal beings associated with it. And from this point forward, I’m hopelessly tethered to three demons that perform the real magick, and they have no intention of ever letting me stop performing this hellish miracle. My soul is forfeit.

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