Chapter Two: The Players

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Mac felt her head spin.  The man with the exuberant personality would not stop talking, and what he said made little sense to her.

‘So now we know why you are here.  I did promise you fun, Miss Jones, didn’t I?’

Mac was struggling to bring her thoughts together into one coherent whole. Are the drugs still affecting my mind? She wondered.  Whatever the reason, she was finding it hard to respond to this madman. 

‘The next step would be for me to tell you who I am.  I am assuming that you still haven’t guessed it?  No; such a disappointment.  I wonder with that failure already under your belt, how you will fare during The Game.  Let’s just say that past games suggest the odds are not in your favour, but you might surprise us all.  These things are not a foregone conclusion; a single roll of the dice can change a player’s luck,’ he offered enthusiastically.

‘So, who am I?  I am who?  Of course, in this business one cannot simply go around revealing their true identity willy-nilly.  There must be some safeguards in place for the conductor of our little game-playing ensemble.  Luckily for me I have a rather exciting pseudonym; it conjures up the perfect image.  I, Miss Jones, am...The Magician.’

Mac gasped for a variety of reasons.  She realised she had heard of this man after all, and was concerned that her activities had caught his attention. 

The Magician had been making the national news for a year now.  Every month or so, he would abduct a private investigator that he believed was at the top of their field, according to a written statement he had issued to a news channel.  He only played his game with the best, pitting one great mind against the other.

‘You know my name.  That pleases me, in a vain sort of way.  I wonder why you did not connect the dots before...’

‘The other detectives you had chosen were always in the papers.  I am not.  They worked on high profile cases.  I do not.  They were considered the best-of-the-best.  I am not.’

‘Don’t sell yourself short, my dear.  If I did not think you worthy, you would not have been chosen.  There is something different about you; something that I have not faced with the other competitors. 

‘You are the first female contestant.  Your feminine intuition combined with your other gifts interests me.  I want to understand how your mind works, how you reach your conclusions, how you solve the puzzles that are put in front of you. 

‘With you, I get the enjoyment of The Game plus the chance to observe how a very different mind works...pleasure and the opportunity to improve my own game; who could ask for more?’

‘But why me?’

‘Have you met any other female private detectives, Miss Jones?’

‘Some, not many.’

‘And out of those few, how many specialise in the catching of philandering spouses and the search for evidence which might suggest a pre-nuptial agreement would be advisable before a wedding?  Does that sound like a critical mind to you?  Does that sound like someone who is worthy of my attention, and what’s more, my time and effort?  Of course not.  Some private detectives are more paparazzi than Sherlock Holmes.

‘You should be honoured to be here now, Miss Jones, talking to me.  It shows what respect I have for you and what esteem I hold you in.’

‘I shall have to disappoint you again then; I would rather be at home, sipping a nice, hot cup of tea.’

'Then let's hope you make it back there.'

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