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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » A cry for help? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

ptbeast
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Oregon
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Not long ago, in this forum, someone asked if any of the séance performers also believed in real spirits. I placed myself in the camp of the skeptics, but I also stated that I had seen things that I couldn’t explain. The following story is true. I know that it is, as I lived it. I saw it with my own eyes. I would like to find a way to illustrate this story with an effect or two and am looking for ideas…

The time is 1978. The place is a rambling ranch-style house in middle class suburbia. A two car garage. A big yard. Green grass. The American dream… or nightmare. You see, this house held a dark secret. Not ghosts or goblins, though some will tell you that they were there too. No, the dark secret in this house was drugs. And child abuse.

Not physical abuse, not usually at least. The parent in this household, a single mother, had turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with life. It helped her live in her own reality, and created a new reality for her children. There were long nights of sleep deprivation while being told how they had ruined her life and how much of a disappointment they were. There were many other nights when they were simply home alone. While there always seemed to be enough money for cigarettes, and booze, and drugs, sometimes food got overlooked. The kids were left to fend for themselves and did the best they could.

At one point this single mother became desperate for money. She wanted a change. To move to a new place. To start over. She schemed and plotted with her boyfriend, and they came up with a plan. Arson! They would burn down the rambling ranch house and collect the insurance money. So, on July 4th, 1978 they packed up the kids and took a little trip. What was about to happen was not kept a secret from the children, though I doubt that the youngest – a little girl of 8 – really understood what was happening. Favorite belongings – a bicycle, a bow and arrow, a doll were left behind. It had to look real you understand. Everything must stay behind.

A few days later, they were allowed to enter the remains of the house. The arsonist knew his craft well. Whatever accelerant he had chosen had caused the house to burn quickly and hot. Everything was black. Not just covered with soot and ash, but charred.

As the eldest of the children walked into his sister’s room, the last to explore, a chill went down his spine and a tear down his cheek. The damage was equally as extensive here. Every inch of wall, ceiling, and floor that was visible was charred. Except for on the little girls bed. Right in the middle. A circle. A perfect circle. About three feet across it was. And as fresh and new and clean as it had been when the little girl had gotten up to make her bed for that last time. No ash. No soot. No smoke or water damage. And perfectly in the center of that circle, as if within some hidden ring of protection, lay the girls favorite doll.

This scene was etched into the mind of that 14 year old boy. He still gets a shiver when he thinks about it. What did it mean?Was it divine intervention? A miracle? A protective spirit? A wall put up by the girl herself? I will leave that to those smarter that I am.

I would really like to find the perfect effects to illustrate this story. Even if I find them, I may never perform it. It is too real. Too personal. Then again I may. Have you ever heard of art therapy? Perhaps the magic can work its magick on my soul.

Any ideas or comments appreciated.

Your brother in magic,

Dave
Philemon Vanderbeck
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Seattle, WA
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A profound tale indeed...

As for a possible methodology to illustrate it, may I suggest a miniature cremation illusion?

The doll could be placed in a box along with other flammable stuff. The contents are set ablaze, and after the flames have died down, the box is opened to show that while everything else has been consumed into ash, the doll remains unharmed.
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
That Creepy Magician
"I use my sixth sense to create the illusion of possessing the other five."
David de Leon
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Sweden
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It would be a shame not to perform this! Philemon’s suggestion sounds good to me.
Caleb Strange
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Manchester UK
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Dave, your story made me cry. I think that it's more than strong enough to be presented simply as a story, but Philemon's suggestion is good.

For me, the most powerful aspect was a sense that this little girl, like so many sufferers of abuse, was saying, 'You may scar my body, and terrorise my mind, but there is a secret part of me that you cannot reach. That you will never reach. And it remains, unbroken'. And, of course, this is strong, and defiant, yet also sad. For this survival mechanism, this buffer zone, can remain long after it's needed.

I'm not sure how you'd express this, but the image of the unmolested circle, is extraordinarily powerful, and will haunt my mind for a long time.

Warm regards,

Caleb Strange.
-- QCiC --
cmwalden
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Cedar Park, TX
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I want to echo Caleb's comment about just telling the story. As magicians, we always want to puncuate our tales with a special effect. Sometimes I think that cheapens the story-- which can have a most profound effect on it's own.

I would like to see you place this story in the middle of some other effects, and just tell it well. I don't think any magic is necessary. It would definitely set the tone for an unrelated manifestation.
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

- William Shakespeare
ptbeast
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I have, of course, told this story before. Just not in the context of performing. It has often had a strong impact on people. I agree with cmwalden and Caleb that it stands well on its own. One reason that I have never found effects to go with it is that I have been afraid of cheapening it. As I said it is a true story. On the other hand, it is strong, with a real supernatural bent. Maybe I can find a way to tell the story as a lead-in to supernatural related experiments. Maybe I can even use it to introduce the doll, but not have the effects directly related to story, but to the doll?

I appreciate the ideas (and any more that are forthcoming).

Thanks everybody,

Dave
Caleb Strange
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Manchester UK
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Yes Dave, I also wondered whether you could introduce the doll with the story, and do some unrelated effects afterwards. The supernatural element in the story, that haunting circle of fresh linen with the enigmatic doll, is so visually strong, that it stands by itself, for me. If you were to introduce the doll, perhaps it would be best to let the audience infer it was THE doll.

One other possibilty's been on my mind. I got the image of a family photograph, maybe from a happier time, curling in the flames. Maybe you could suggest the children had a protective force, internal or external, and demonstrate it by burning such a photograph. The children remain intact in the protected centre, but the mother is lost to the flames.

Lee Earle has a story called 'The Musing Box', which has similarly 'heavy' subject matter, which he does augment with magic. But I don't know if that story is true. It feels that the magic completes HIS story. Yours feels complete as it is. Thank you very much for sharing it.

Regards,

Caleb Strange.
-- QCiC --
ptbeast
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When I perform, my character is very much my real life. As with many bizarrists I am a collector. I am also somewhat of a skeptic. Perhaps this story can illustrate a defining moment for my character. An explanation of why he (I) explores all these strange stories. When the theme turns to things supernatural, I simply tell the story as it is above and continue something like this...

I am no longer a scared fourteen year old boy. Yes, I am sure that you guessed that I am the older brother. I grew up and went on to be a Sailor in the United States Navy, a police officer, and ultimately an attorney. These careers have given me the opportunity to observe the human condition. I have shared time with men and women facing potential death in battle. I have seen more death, abuse, and neglect than most – certainly more than any man should. I deal with those who have been heart-broken, injured, or accused on a daily basis. And I can tell you this: never, since that day, have I seen such direct, powerful, and obvious intervention of a divine or supernatural nature. But I have heard stories. Today I would like to share a few of them with you.

As an attorney, I have taken to collecting artifacts from famous crimes, trials, and tribunals. Many of these are said to have been the center of supernatural happenings. I am certainly no expert on the supernatural, but I have researched these stories. With your assistance, I would like to explore some of them further. Perhaps, together, we can discover evidence of these forces beyond our understanding. Here I have…

Thank you all so much for helping me think this through. Further comments are certainly welcomed.

Dave
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