It was he that had done it, the bastard. He’d sabotaged my shows, coming in disguise, heckling and revealing the secrets of all my tricks. I couldn’t prove it, but I knew it.
What a fall from grace! From the sublime to the ridiculous, from revered and admired to mocked and despised, from world famous to the grimiest depths of ignominy, and now he took my place up on center stage, stealing all of my tricks, no less! How could no one else recognize it?
Well, vengeance would be mine today. Two can play at this game, Great & Mysterious Riebold! For how could you possibly know that the bearded man in the audience beneath the bowler is none other than your arch-enemy, the Mysterious and Mystical Ernest R. Peabody! Here to reveal the secrets of all the tricks you stole from me, and bring you back down into the depths of obscurity! Soon it will be you performing in the dockyards next to the burlesque shows and opium dens, not I!
“And now for my greatest trick,” Riebold shouted out over the audience melodramatically. “I will produce from thin air, summoning from the very depths of hell…..”
Pain gripped my chest. An intense pain like none I’d ever felt before. It was as if some foul demon had staked a garden spade into my ribcage and driven it home. I clutched my chest and gasped, and the audience members all around shushed me.
My vision blurred, and in the distance on stage I blearily saw Riebold lift something with triumph, something red and spherical. The crowd gasped, then erupted into thunderous applause.
“…..a human heart!”