This is another snippet from Smoke and Mirrors, which I wish I had more time to work on, but, ah well, such is life. In it, Theo and Josephine go to visit a scholar whose essay has gotten Theo all confused. He's hoping to find out that his suspicions have been only that, but, well... we don't always get what we wish for.
“Forgive me for intruding, Mr. Atwood-Berkley-”
“Nonsense. Reynolds never lets anyone in to see me, it’s getting rather ridiculous.”
His wide, fixed grin was beginning to make Theo uncomfortable, and he felt Josephine shift uncomfortably beside him. He repeated his faltering introduction of himself, this time including Josephine. She dipped a short, brief curtsey.
“Ah, excellent, excellent. Do sit down. Reynolds! Bring us some tea, that’s a good chap.”
The butler bowed, a gesture that made him look as though he was two fixed pieces on a hinge, his torso remaining quite straight throughout the quick bob. Theo and Josephine seated themselves on a sofa near Atwood-Berkley, the feather cushions very much deflated. Theo settled his bowler hat on his knee, Reynolds having apparently forgotten to take it when they entered the house. Perhaps he was not quite as good a butler as his demeanour suggested, or perhaps he was not expecting their visit to be of long duration. True, the entire thing was making him uncomfortable – the fact that he was still sinking into the sofa as though it wanted to trap him did not help – but nothing so far suggested that there was anything wrong. He struggled to match the writer’s unnerving grin, hoping very much to find his suspicions proven wrong.
“I’ve been working on a thesis about practical applications of magic,” he began. “My professor gave me one of your articles-”
“Ah, yes, he would at that. He is quite fond of my theories. It’s odd that no one else is, I haven’t been able to publish for months. What do you make of that, then?”
“I – I find it all very strange. You seem to suggest in the article I was given that illusory magic could be made corporeal-”
“Oh, well, yes, of course it can. Rothfeldt and I came to that conclusion years ago.”
For a moment, all Theo could do was stare at him. He could not be serious. He could not smile brightly at him and calmly deliver such a statement. It simply was not possible.
“But – surely that is impossible-”
“Nothing is impossible. Difficult, maybe, but not impossible. Reynolds, there you are. Won’t you show them?”
The butler had returned with a tray of tea things. The man paused, but then set down the tray and moved closer to where Theo and Josephine sat. He rubbed at something with his foot, something on the floor that Theo could not see. And then Josephine yelped. Before he knew what had happened, he had fallen to the ground, with his sister sprawled there beside him, and the sofa they had been sitting on was gone. It had vanished, leaving nothing in its wake, not even a solitary goose feather.
“There, you see? Not at all impossible.”