A VOLUNTEER FROM THE AUDIENCE
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Thanks to Storyseeker for beta-reading this. As usual, if you have any comments or preferences, please don’t be shy. RandR.
Zatanna gave the crowd a bright smile as she continued her patter and tossed off two more minor sleights of hand before moving to the big finish. She was in her element. The League did necessary work, and she was always ready to lend a hand, but she loved the stage.
Glancing around to make sure everything was in place, she didn’t miss a step when she saw her plant in the audience hurrying out with his cell phone pressed to his ear. There went her ‘volunteer’.
Oh, well, not unexpected. Mick had been waiting on news about his new grandchild for most of the day, so she had arranged a backup in case his daughter went into labor before the show.
It wasn’t the first time something had happened to change her plans mid-show, so she always made sure to have a plan B. She took a second to find him, sitting in the third row next to his girlfriend. The handsome young man sitting next to a stunning young woman with dark brown hair was watching attentively. She hoped he was ready for his part in the performance.
They had a prearranged signal of course, and she saw him nod when he got it. “And for the grand finale!” Zatanna grinned at the audience. “I’m going to pull a rabbit out of my hat.” There was a groan from the audience at the corny old gag. “Oh don’t worry, you’ve never seen it done like this before.” She reached into the hat and felt around. The audience chuckled when her arm vanished almost to the shoulder. “Come on, Bugs, where are you?” she said in a stage whisper that got another laugh.
With a whispered spell the audience did not overhear, she opened a spatial rift and reached down to pick up her volunteer. There were startled gasps, which she was expecting, and a stinging sensation across her knuckles, which she was not. She quickly drew him up through the rift and set the six-inch tall man down on the stage. He looked decidedly annoyed, a reaction which startled her, but she kept up her patter.
“Well, you may not be furry, but you’re just as cute. She waved her wand over him and reversed the shrinking spell before she stood up. Nothing happened.
“Huh?” She knelt again and tried again. No result. She added a growth spell.
“Stop that,” the tiny man snapped. She knelt down to hear him better. “I never should have let her talk me into this. ‘It’s just stage magic. It’ll be fun.’” He snorted. “Might as well have said, ‘what could go wrong?’” The squeaky voice was at odds with the subject or the aggravated tone.
“I’ll fix it,” she assured him, before straightening up and facing the audience. “Um, well, this is a little embarrassing.” The crowd, assuming it was part of the act, laughed again. She saw the man’s girlfriend moving toward the stage, looking very unhappy. There was a glint of steel in her hand, and Zatanna glanced at her hand. There were small cuts across her knuckles, and she suddenly realized where they came from. Oh, crap. Now what?
Zatanna thought quickly, trying to reason out why the spells failed. There was a gasp from the audience, and Zatanna realized the spell must have kicked in. She glanced back and noted with relief that he was returning to normal size. “Huh,” she looked at the audience and shrugged. “Delayed reaction.” There were chuckles and the girlfriend stopped her advance on the stage.
There was a strangled cry from behind her and the sound of tearing cloth. She suddenly remembered the growth spell. Please, no
The girlfriend had developed a wide grin and gave a loud wolf whistle. Turning quickly, albeit reluctantly, Zatanna found herself face to dangly bits with her volunteer.
The man quickly snatched up what was left of his shirt and positioned it strategically, even as Zatanna backed away. Once covered, he grabbed the curtain with a free hand and pulled. Both sides came together smoothly, leaving Zatanna in front of them. She was still trying to decide how to wrap up the current mess for the audience when the man solved that problem for her. He stuck his head through the curtains.
“Th-th-th-that’s all folks!” He then looked down at Zatanna and whispered. “Now fix this!” The audience laughed and clapped loudly as Zatanna, still bright red, gave the audience a brief bow and slipped behind the curtain.