The Writers Voice
The World's Favourite Literary Website

Peter's Story


Stephen Collicoat

'There is magic,' Peter insisted. 'It's with us all the time. You just have to look for it.'

'Rubbish!' Alice snorted. She was three years older than her brother and thought herself much wiser. 'It's true what Mum says. You're a hopeless dreamer. You should wake up, instead of filling your mind with nonsense.'

'No,' Peter replied stubbornly, 'All sorts of strange things happen that no one can explain.'

'Such as?' Alice yawned. Conversations with her 12-year old brother usually ended with Alice yawning loudly and walking away.

'Well,' Peter stalled. Then with sudden inspiration, he suggested, 'Like the Indian Rope Trick'.

''Never heard of it,' Alice replied dismissively. 'Look at that rain! Why does it always rain when I'm on holiday? I'm so bored.'

'The Indian Rope Trick is something that no one can explain. A journalist saw it and published an account in his newspaper. Since then, millions have heard about it and no one can explain it, although it happened ages ago.'

Peter fell silent until Alice, as he expected, demanded in an exasperated tone, 'Well, go on then! What's this silly trick all about?'

Concealing his smile of triumph, Peter continued, 'It seems a journalist was once came to a remote Indian village where he found a crowd gathered in the square. In the midst of the crowd was a fakir - a holy man.'

In truth, Peter's recollection of the story he had read was hazy. In his imagination however he vividly pictured the hot and dusty square, the turbaned men, the sari clad women and the fakir, squatting in the chalk fine dust wearing only a loincloth: an emaciated man but with a calm and noble face. So infectious was Peter's conviction that Alice lost for a time her habitual scowl and sank down comfortably into the sofa.

'Beside the man was a basket - tall and made of wicker. As the crowd watched, he removed the top and plunged his right hand deep into the basket to draw out…'

'A cobra,' Alice finished with a delicious shudder.

'No, Smarty-pants,' Peter said. 'A coil of rope.'

'Rope! That's boring,' Alice laughed.

'No it wasn't, because as soon as he threw the coil on the ground, it began to grow. One end of the rope stood and began to stretch. It past one storey, then a second, until it was far above the rooftops then disappeared in the sky while most of the rope stayed coiled on the ground.'

'A rope doesn't stand up by itself.'

'This did and the journalist checked there were no hidden wires.'

'Then the fakir must have hypnotized the crowd.'

'The journalist wrote that no one appeared in a trance.'

'This is silly,' Alice shrugged.

'For heaven's sake, stop interrupting! After a minute or so, the fakir called for a volunteer: someone willing to climb the rope. Among the crowd was a small boy watching with his mother. When the fakir called for a volunteer, he darted forward before his mother could stop him and began shimmying up the rope as swiftly as a monkey. His mother kept calling for him to return until, fearing he might become distracted and fall from a great height, she fell silent. High up in the sky, the boy disappeared. First his head vanished, then his shoulders, arms, chest, legs and feet.

'The crowd was stunned at first, then went wild, cheering and turning to each other demanding if each had seen the same miracle. The minutes ticked by and the mother's anxious expression deepened. After a while, she began calling piteously to her son, begging him to return, but there was no sound from or sight of the boy, only the rope stretching up into the sky.'

'Creepy,' Alice breathed, impressed in spite of herself.

'Ten minutes of silence passed and the crowd grew restless. A man demanded that the fakir bring the boy back. Other voices agreed. Soon all clamoured for action.

'The fakir stared back as though in a trance, then roused himself and dipping into his basket drew out a scimitar, the keen blade of which glinted wickedly in the sunlight. Placing the blade between his teeth, he seized the rope and drew himself up, soon disappearing into the sky.

'There was a pause, then to the crowd's horror a bloodied, severed ear fell to the ground.'

'Yuck!' Alice exclaimed. Peter hid a smile. He knew his sister was far more bloodthirsty than he could ever be. One Saturday, two years before they had gone to a film matinee. The local cinema was filming 'Bhowani Junction'. As two hungry lions crept up on the tent where the white hunters were carousing, Peter had shrunk into his seat. 'Let's go, Sis,' he had pleaded,

'I'm scared!'

'You go,' she muttered fiercely, 'I want to see what happens.'

As the lions burst into the tent and the screen erupted in gore, Alice sat entranced, her fist full of popcorn paused halfway to her mouth.

Peter continued his story. 'After the ear, another ear followed, then the boy's nose, hands, feet, his headless torso until finally, the mutilated
head plummeted down, bounced and rolled across the ground to the feet of the boy's mother who shrieked in terror and grief before fainting.

'The fakir emerged from the sky climbing down the rope, his body streaked with blood, clenching the knife between his teeth. The crowd erupted in anger as he reached the ground. 'He's mad!' 'A murderer!' 'Seize him!' 'Kill the monster before he kills all of us!'

'The fakir placed his knife back in the basket and stood up, staring back at the threatening crowd edging closer to him, a slight smile playing on his lips…'

'Peter. Alice. Come to lunch. It's on the table,' the children's mother called from the next room.

'Shall I leave the story till later?' Peter teased. 'You know how cross Mum gets when we keep her waiting.'

'No, keep on,' Alice insisted in an agony of impatience.

'Alright. So the fakir picked up one of the severed arms and attached it to the torso. He took the other arm and did the same. The torso seemed to tremble as though life was returning to it. He kept attaching pieces until the boy was complete. As he did so, the spilled blood seemed to fade away into the boy's skin. Then the boy's chest heaved, he gave a tremendous sigh and his eyes flickered open. Seeing his mother lying in a faint, he leapt up and ran to her. You can imagine her joy when she revived to see him miraculously restored to life!'

'I won't call you again,' the children's mother called and there was no mistaking the annoyance in her tone.

'Coming!' Alice and Peter chorused.

After lunch, Alice found Peter. She was carrying a large red book.

'So much for magic,' she commented scornfully. 'This encyclopedia says that the Indian Rope Trick never happened. It was written as a hoax story by John Wilkie, a reporter for the 'Chicago Tribune' in 1890. Anyway, everything you said was wrong. The boy was his assistant and…'

Peter nodded indifferently. The magic to him was that for a few minutes he had conjured up an exotic world of mystery and terror far from his dull suburban life.

Critique this work

Click on the book to leave a comment about this work

All Authors (hi-speed)    All Authors (dialup)    Children    Columnists    Contact    Drama    Fiction    Grammar    Guest Book    Home    Humour    Links    Narratives    Novels    Poems    Published Authors    Reviews    September 11    Short Stories    Teen Writings    Submission Guidelines

Be sure to have a look at our Discussion Forum today to see what's
happening on The World's Favourite Literary Website.