The Magic Castle

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Review Chain
A man recounts his attempt to get his niece tickets to her beloved television show.

Submitted: May 03, 2017

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Submitted: May 03, 2017

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The Magic Castle

by

Harris Proctor

 

I saw what I saw.  I have been silent for fifty-three years, but now the curtain is closing on my time here.  I must share what I know.  I need to reveal the horror that I thought was extinguished long ago.  The evil yet lives!

 

It was more than five decades ago when my niece, my precious and precocious goddaughter made a request for her birthday.  I had failed to give her something she wanted the year before.  Don’t all children need a socket wrench?  Clueless as to what a five-year-old might need, I asked the child.

 

“I want to go to “Magic Castle!” Prudence shrieked.

 

“What is that?”  I spent my work days repairing electrical lines.  My free time was typically spent fishing off the pier in Santa Monica.

 

“It’s her show,” my sister chimed in.  “Every Saturday morning she watches it.  I don’t care for it, but she throws a fit if she doesn’t see it.  They do it right here in Los Restos.  Kids from all around L.A. sit in the audience.  It’s impossible to get tickets.”

 

Accepting the challenge, I resolved to find admission to her beloved show.  I watched it that Saturday.  I found it to be silly at first.  The host was an awkward man in a cardigan sweater and bowtie.  Puppets moved about the windows and parapets of a large castle.  While the characters performed their routines, the man in the sweater acted as a sort of narrator.

 

“Lady Spree isn’t listening to King November, is she children?” the man in the sweater asked the audience.

 

“No, Mister Richards,” came the reply from children seated around the edge of the castle.

 

“Great King November might become cross.”  The children giggled as though they knew what was coming.  Then the puppet King spoke.

 

“I am the lord of this world!  None shall disobey me!”  The King pursued Lady Spree about the ramparts.  A wooden mallet was clutched in his miniature hand.  The children laughed uncontrollably as the mallet repeatedly cracked on Spree’s head.  So went the entire production, interspersed with commercials for cereal, bicycles and tinned meats.  King November would make a declaration, he would be defied, then he would chase the subject about.  At one point, Queen March jarringly sang a song about “behaving as you ought.”  I understood my sister’s distaste for the show.  The puppets had a strange pitch to their voice that seemed to make my ears ring.  Their wooden faces were eerie and stiff.  I preferred not to look upon them.

 

The show ended with a Los Angeles Post Office Box for ticket inquiries.  The birthday was mere weeks away.  Resolving to find a living person to contact, I established that a Harvey Dewey was the producer.  He had an office on the studio lot in Los Restos.  Repeated calls went unreturned.  That Friday I called out of work.  Determined as I was to fulfill my niece’s wishes, I approached Mr. Dewey’s office in the guise of a delivery man, complete with a small parcel.  I had recently witnessed such a clever ruse in a film.

 

I knocked on the door of Dewey Productions and received no answer.  I could hear a telephone ringing inside.  I tried the knob and found the door to be unlocked.  Within was a reception area and an unattended desk.  From behind another door, I could hear a man answer the phone.  His voice was hushed, but agitated.  I heard the distinct sound of a phone being slammed.  I waited a moment and then knocked on the door.  There was a very long pause before the stranger beyond replied.

 

“Who’s there?”

 

“Delivery,” I said and opened the door.  “Delivery for Harvey Dewey.”  A man in shirtsleeves sat behind an enormous desk.  He looked disheveled and sweaty.  His eyes were locked on mine as though he sought the answer to a tremendous question.  I had heard of the intensity of show business moguls but never witnessed it firsthand.

 

“How did you get in here?” he demanded.

 

“The door was unlocked.”

 

He looked me over and seemed to relax.  I heard him open a drawer and drop something heavy into it.

 

“Leave it on the desk.”

 

“I need to sign for it,” I said.

 

“You need to sign for it?”

 

“Yes,” I said opening the parcel and producing a blank check.  “I need you to name your price.  I want my niece to see your castle show in two weeks.”

 

“Good lord!” he exclaimed.  “Get out!”

 

“Please hear me out, Mr. Dewey.  I may be a modest lineman, but money is no object.”

 

“Money is the object that made me what I am today,” he roared.  “Get out of my office this instant!””

 

“Sir…” I began to protest.  He lifted the telephone receiver and stared me down.  I removed myself and hurried toward the exit.  I stopped at the front gate.

 

“I’m supposed to bring this to a studio building for Mr. Dewey,” I said.

 

“Fourteen,” the guard said without looking up.  “The one with the extra guards.  Leave it with them.”  I found the building.  Indeed, there were several sentinels standing around it.  Such defenses for a children’s trifle.  Yet I saw my opportunity.  The building was shorter than the others and close to the high wall which surrounded the lot.  Beyond the wall, a tall palm tree leaned, its top nearly hanging over the roof.  I climbed such poles every day.  I left the lot and headed home.  I had a new plan.  I could get inside and offer the same blank check to Mr. Richards and his puppet-wielding associates to appear in person at Prudence’s birthday.

 

Well after midnight, I returned with my equipment and climbed the tree.  From the top, the roof seemed miles away, although I reckoned it was less than ten feet.  I rocked the tree slowly, and threw myself onto building fourteen.  I lay motionless, listening into the darkness.  When I was sure my entrance had gone unnoticed, I went to sleep.  I awoke well past sunrise.  I looked to my watch and saw the show would begin very soon.  After dispensing with the morning’s necessity, I found an unlocked service door.  I lowered myself inside.

 

I could hear distant voices.  I was certain one voice was that of Dewey himself.  Others sounded piercing and impatient.  I found myself on a catwalk which hung all about.  I quietly made my way down the metal stairway.  Across the vast room, I saw the Castle under bright lights, beside it, Mr. Richards staring vacantly.  A trio of massive cameras trained their eyes on the scene.  Twenty or so children were arrayed on benches at the perimeter.  Beyond them stood Harvey Dewey.

 

I crept along the wall and took cover behind two three-wheeled carts, each baring two large canisters of gasoline.  I told myself they might come in handy for a quick exit.  I noticed an array of peculiar hooks along the wall beside the stage.

 

The show began.  I watched from a hundred feet away.  As before, The King berated his subjects to the delight of the children.  Today he was enraged at his son, Prince September, and some beastly thing named Wolf-wolf.  The King’s voice was yet more eldritch in person, the stiff faces more disturbing.  Soon the production was done, and Dewey remained.  Frustrated that I might yet lose my opportunity to commiserate with the performers, I contemplated leaving.  The jump to the tree would certainly be far more difficult than the jump from it.  I felt like a failure.

 

“Clear!” yelled Dewey and flipped a lever.  Then the horror began!  The cameramen, children and Mr. Richards all slumped.  Limp and lifeless, they yet remained seated or standing.  King November turned to Dewey with an unnerving pivot.

 

“National!”  The voice was unbearable.  It had the peal of a pig in mid-slaughter.  “We are national by the end of the month, or we find a new producer!”  I asked myself why the puppeteer chose to remain out of sight.

 

“I need time,” Dewey anxiously pleaded.

 

“Do you wish to join the crew?” the King squealed and waved a tiny hand toward the lifeless cameramen.  They seemed under some sort of mesmerism.  King November lowered his lidless gaze at Dewey.

 

“No, my lord, no!  I just need…”

 

The puppet King leapt from the rampart.  With no person or string near it, the King rushed across the floor with his wooden mallet held aloft!  The terrible thing climbed Dewey in an instant and gripped the producer by his nose.

 

“You need to obey me!  I am the lord of this world!” roared King November, cracking Dewey square in the forehead.  “National!  National!  National!”  Thrice more he hammered the same spot.  The abomination jumped down and strode back to the castle in a most ghastly fashion.  It was like watching an empty pant leg locomote.  “Put the puppets away!” it screamed.  All the castle’s inhabitants- Queen March, Prince September, Lady Spree, Wolf-wolf and the rest- moved in that same horrifying gait.  With unimaginable strength, the tiny monstrosities hoisted the men and children aloft and hung the limp bodies on the peculiar hooks.

 

Dewey knelt on the floor and pressed his fingers to his bleeding wound.  The horrible things returned to their castle, except Queen March.  She sauntered over to the broken man and began to sing in her unnatural pitch.  I know not what words filled Harvey Dewey’s ears, but his face was a twisted mass of pure revulsion.  She finished and joined her company inside the keep.  King November appeared one last time.

 

“If you disrupt our plan, the agonies we intend for this world will be yours alone!”  With that, the King disappeared behind the wall.  Dewey ran from the building in a fit of blood, sweat and nonsensical blubbering.  I crept back toward my exit, pausing at the carts.  Though nearly frozen with fear and on the brink of indescribable madness, I realized none would believe my tale.  It was upon me to dispatch with the tiny fiends.  Grabbing the canisters of gasoline and several tarps, I remounted the catwalk and made my way to the spot above the miniature Pandemonium.

 

Soaking the tarps with the petroleum, I steeled my nerves.  I pulled length after length of the electrical wiring that ran everywhere along the roof and walls.  I dropped the fuel-soaked cloth to the set.  For the first time, I looked upon the inside of the Magic Castle.  Within was a vortex of shadow, spinning like a hurricane of pure and miniature-proportioned evil.  I poured the leftover gasoline all about.  Stripping the wires, I set fire to the castle and everything around it with a barrage of sparks.

 

I turned to run, but momentarily glanced back into the keep.  How I regret the thoughtless action, for the sight of the King’s face rising through the shadow to shriek at me has haunted me ever since.  I ran as fast as I could.  I scarcely remember throwing myself into the embrace of the palm tree as the flames erupted.  I spent days in a sort of apoplexy.  Eventually I resumed my life, content to know I had spared the human race from some unimaginable fate.  I spent a lifetime wondering what other monsters lurked in plain sight, televised or not.  I reminded myself that there was, if nothing else, one less horror.

 

Then today, decades later…

 

As I visited with my niece and her grandson, I heard that eldritch voice, coming from the living room.

 

“What is that?” I asked, aghast.

 

“It’s just the boy watching videos on the tablet.  They find all kinds of strange things on the internet.”

 

I rose and found the boy on the floor, his face hovering above an infernal screen.  For on that screen, in living color, was that stiff, eerie face I thought had been destroyed.  And his voice seemed to fill the room.

 

“I am the lord of this world!”

 

 

THE END

 



© Copyright 2017 Harris Proctor. All rights reserved.

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