The alarm clock jangles, but I've beaten it again. I am sitting cross-legged on the bed, wide awake, staring at the vibrating alarm with a single raised eyebrow.
"There," I say. "I'm already one step ahead of Time."
I climb from my bed and slip into my slippers. I then burst into a run, skid into the hall, and sit down at the table in three seconds flat.
"Ha!" I cry. "I bet Time wasn't expecting that. Now I'm in an alternate universe."
I eat my breakfast.
However, halfway through a mouthful, I realize that it might be a good idea to have some exposition...before the reader makes any obscene judgments like the last eighteen psychiatrists. But you're not a psychiatrist, now are you? No, you're a reader who wants a story. And that means you'll be the first to actually listen to me, right?
Now...let me go back in Time one month, three days, eleven hours, forty-nine minutes, and twelve seconds:
I am one of the best magicians in the world. I have invented some of the most clever tricks in existence, and I have toured across the globe, causing the eyes of a million children to go wide with wonder.
It is a show like any other; I am performing on a stage in a theater in the round with an entire elementary school surrounding me. Their eager faces watch me. Their eyes are wide like always. I gaze across them in the throws of my energizing act. And then--quite suddenly--I find myself staring into a set of seven year old eyes that are staring me down like those of a cold-blood killer.
An incredible amount of meaning is colliding with the walls of my mind, and yet I cannot understand any of what those eyes are saying. And so I ignore him completely, and my mind continues with the show through a robotic dream of motions.
After a few more moments, my eyes slip inevitably to that same watching face. The meaning that jolts into my mind from that intensifying eye contact screams to me that it is obvious, but I still do not understand.
And then, to my horror, the boy stands up and begins to walk down the aisle toward the stage. I falter once, again, and then my voice aims and fires--I find myself saying, "And who are you?" Not a good question.
The boy does not respond, but the entire audience throws their attention upon him. 'No!' my mind screams, 'He's not part of the show!'
He walks the stairs like a zombie and approaches me with an alarming stage presence. I find myself saying, "Can I help you, little one?" Not a good thing to say.
The boy responds with three simple, blatant words that throw my entire act out of the window. "You hypnotized me."
I am caught off guard, but being the professional I am, I decide to go with it and make a new act on the fly. I announce that I am about to do a trick that has never been done before on the face of the planet.
The crowd is in awe, and I ask the boy: "Would you like to be the first to try this most terrifying trick? You do seem to be overly keen to be a part of this show!" The crowd laughs. I am relieved; they seem to know that I am improvising, that this boy does not belong.
And like before, the boy utters a few simple yet shocking words. "You will make me vanish."
I raise an eyebrow. "You--" I ask, completely unprofessional, "want me to make you vanish?" My voice is incredulous, shocked, and uneasy. "Now," I say, "That is a very advanced and dangerous spell." Stupid thing to say; this boy is serious and doesn't want any story-telling.
"Count down from three, and make me vanish," he repeats.
"Now, why don't we do a different trick?" I'm arguing with him now like a little school boy who doesn't know the answer to a question.
He is persistent. "Count down from three," he demands.
"Well," I say. "Vanishing tricks take plenty of preparation."
"You can do it," the boy states.
I stammer for a second. I count down from three.
The boy vanishes.
Fast-forward three days, and I've been sitting in the creaky chair of an interrogation cell for thirteen hours. No progress has been made. The boy has not shown up. And neither has my sanity.
Fast-forward one more day, and I'm on the bus home. They've decided I'm harmless. But I'm not allowed to leave the city. They're still searching for the boy. And I'm still searching for my sanity.
Most psychiatrists would have stopped me by now to ask a million questions. They're not so good at suspending their disbelief in order to get to the good part. But you're a reader with some imagination.
So, as a result, here's the really good part: