The Act of Misdirection

The curtain lifts to a torrent of applause, as the city's gents and ladies lose their decorum for a just few moments in anticipation of something magical. The spotlights drown the glitter of sequins and pearls, the metal cane-tops and the shining buttons on the waistcoats. From where you are, centre of the boards, behind nothing but a baize table with nothing but the clothes you stand in, you are quite alone in the blinding white light.

The Act of Misdirection is a short horror story about magic both fake and real, on the stage of Victorian England. It was nominated for a XYZZY for Best Story of 2004.