Jonathan Creep – Magician's Assistant

Synopsis: For those who might have wondered just whom the Jonathan Creek UK TV series was based upon, look no further than Jonathan Creep, Design Assistant to the Magic Circle. In researching the 1920's magician, The Great Morgasmo, Jonathan meets Caddy Goodhope, who temporarily becomes his Magician's Assistant to perform the greatest trick ever known to Jonathan. The real question is, if there's no such thing as magic, how does it work?

Jonathan Creep – Magician's Assistant
by Lin Dale

Jonathan managed to find the barn conversion quite quickly. He'd seen it many times from across the other side of the valley when he was driving along the dual carriageway, and always considered it might be relevant to his personal research. However, never before had he had time available to turn off the main road and try to locate it.

The conversion had been well designed, taking little away from the brick built structure as it had been built hundreds of years ago. The windows which had been added as part of the conversion looked as though they'd been built into the original barn. The bales of hay stacked against one section of the wall had probably been bought for a hundred times their value in order to add character, and the pretty flowers in the beds running around the barn had probably been tended by an expensive gardener, rather than the country yokel they were intended to represent. But Jonathan believed in giving credit where it was due. It looked good; clearly a fortune had been spent on the conversion, and the building was now worth many times that investment.

He rang the doorbell and waited. Silence. He rang it again. Silence. He had, of course, been stupid to expect anyone to be actually living here; no doubt it was a second home, or maybe even a third or fourth home, and people graced its presence only occasionally.

He was walking back towards his own car when a BMW convertible swept onto the gravel forecourt. At the wheel was a middle-aged woman probably not far off his mother's age, and quite chubby with it, but a million light years away from her in style and appearance. She was an expensive-looking lady, with short red hair in a style that no doubt had cost a fortune; in a simple, but obviously-expensive pretty dress with a low-cut top which exposed, no doubt, expensively-expansive breasts.

She pushed her designer sunglasses onto her head, so she could look directly at him, an action that caused Jonathan to view her with new interest. For the eyes she exposed were lonely eyes, condemned to a life of bored, middle-aged, high-income, no-kids existence. They were now looking at an equally boring young bloke as though he was the most interesting thing that had happened to her all week. Maybe it was.

"Are you looking for me? I'm Cadence Goodhope. Can I help you?"

"You don't know me," Jonathan said, "but I'm Jonathan Creep. I'm a design consultant to the Magic Circle." Which of course, was the wrong way to start any kind of conversation. She was starting to look at him as some kind of weirdo. "I'm doing research on someone who lived in this area in the 1920s, and I wonder whether he might have used this building."

"Was he a farmer? Presumably you've realised this is a barn conversion?"

"He was a landowner, actually, Cadence," Jonathan said. "Thomas Morgan. He owned the manor house which is now part of the council offices, near the town centre. There are several roads named after him in the town."

"You'd better call me Caddy." She smirked at him in a most appealing manner, suddenly looking like a teenager. "Thomas Morgan, you say? I'm sure Peter my husband talked about him when he was looking at the deeds of this house before we purchased it. Could he have been the original owner?"

"It certainly sounds likely. You haven't got those documents available, have you? I'd really appreciate looking at them."

"Oh, now you're asking." Another wrinkle of her brow. "I leave all those kind of things to my husband. But come in and have a coffee, and I’ll see if I can dig them out."

***

"Why are you interested in this Thomas Morgan?" she asked him, as she made the coffee in her designer kitchen, in a machine that must have cost a hundred times more than the teaspoon Jonathan normally used to spoon instant out of the jar. "Peter didn't say he was famous, just some local old fart."

"He was actually a magician," Jonathan explained. "Not a particularly well known one, but he was noted as an enthusiastic amateur. He did have one particular act which should have made him legendary, but it was his other acts which got him blackballed."

"Blackballed?" That sounded interesting, she thought. She carried the coffees over to the kitchen table, got out some biscuits, put them on a plate and offered them to Jonathan.

He smiled and took one of the biscuits. He always ate his biscuits straight from the pack. "Let's say his performances were considered rather risqué at the time. Not much by today's standards, but then he was regarded as a total cad."

"Tell me more." Caddy sat down opposite him, showing no desire to start searching through old documents. However, Jonathan did find it pleasant not only talking to someone who didn't immediately switch off as soon as he opened his mouth, but who also displayed such a tremendous cleavage.

"He called himself The Great Morgasmo," Jonathan said. "Most of his acts involved his beautiful assistants ending up naked."

"You mean, striptease?" Caddy said.

"In all but name," he said. "But the best striptease is when the girl appears not to want to lose her clothes. In other words, it's not the stripper teasing the audience, it's the audience being excited by someone appearing to lose her clothes against her will. In this case it was Morgasmo stripping his assistants."

"He doesn’t sound a very nice man."

"We live in changing times," he said, "but I bet that if you go to the right places, you'll find plenty of women prepared to show their all in order to pay for the mortgage, or the kids' private education."

"Mmm, you may be right. So was he making their clothes disappear?"

"Probably. I'm not certain if they had bras in the 1920s but it was essentially the trick we use now of removing someone's bra without first removing their dress."

"Gosh! Can you really do that?" She looked panic-stricken and crossed her arms across her own breasts.

Jonathan grinned. "Since I'm a member of the Magic Circle, I'm not allowed to offer any explanation, other than that magicians have wonderful powers. On the other hand, if that was possible, don't you think that it would be all over the internet and you wouldn't be able to walk down the High Street without someone whipping off your bra?"

She looked unconvinced, so Jonathan stood up, moved around the table to her and said, "Just think about it." He placed his hand behind her back and suddenly snapped it away, clutching a bra in his hand. "This is yours, I believe, Madam."

Shocked at first and hurriedly checking her breasts, but then realising her own bra was still in place, her shock changed to a surprised smile as she took it from him and said, "Where did that come from?

"I nicked it from that pile of laundry." He indicated a basket of laundry in the corner of the kitchen."

She frowned. "But you were sitting at the table and then just stood up and put your hand behind my back. You went nowhere near the laundry."

"I took it whilst you were making coffee with your back to me."

"But hang on. We weren't talking about bras then. Are you some kind of pervert, nicking bras?"

"I'm not a pervert, it's what we magicians do. I saw the laundry with that bra on top. I took it and then planted the thought in your head and you reacted to it. But the point about that demonstration was that even though I produced your bra, you knew, and the audience would see that the bra you were wearing was still in place, so it wouldn't fool anyone for a minute. It certainly didn't fool you, because you immediately checked your own bra."

Caddy looked puzzled. "So how do magicians do it?"

"In order for the magic to look real, you would have to have been wearing some trick bra which collapsed as I produced the other bra, so the audience see the two separate events and make the assumption they were connected."

"You mean the girls pretend to be surprised?"

"Precisely. Magician's assistants have to be very skilled."

"And that's what you do?"

"No, no. I'm a design consultant. I plan the tricks. But coming back to Morgasmo, he would remove all their underwear, piece by piece, with the girls appearing to get more and more terrified – which was just a show – before whipping off their dresses and they'd then go screaming off stage."

"Very erotic," she said. "Designed to play up to the sexual needs of a dirty male audience." She was clearly oblivious to the fact that her own breast were nicely displayed to Jonathan, and he thought he could see the edge of one of her areole

"Oh, no," he said. "He played to mixed private audiences of a pretty high class nature. His wealth, of course, was new money, relatively, anyway. His predecessors were mine owners, and very wealthy ones at that. But that meant that he not only got educated at the best of schools, but he didn't actually have to work for a living, other than occasionally firing his mine manager for not bringing in enough income."

"Hmm." She paused for a moment and then added, "Didn't you say that he had one special act? What was that?"

"Imagine the scene," Jonathan said. "He's playing to a small, select gathering of say twenty people who all know and are friends with each other. He's done a few standard tricks, all interspersed by removing the assistants' clothes. The room darkens and he says: 'For my final act, I require two volunteers from the audience, preferably one man and one woman.' A screen then drops to reveal two coffins, standing side by side with their lids open. 'I must tell you,' he says, 'that the volunteers will be required to lie in the coffins as we close the lids for a few minutes, although you have my word we will not physically bury you in the ground.' So the audience selects two people who aren't claustrophobic, and the near-naked assistants help them to lie inside the coffins and then close the lids.

'I told you that these people will not be physically buried,' Morgasmo says, 'but their spirits are going into the underworld and when they return they will have exchanged bodies. You may ask them any questions you choose to ascertain whether that has actually taken place, and you may continue to do so for the rest of the evening. They may need assistance in certain matters, for example, how does a lady inhabiting a man's body go to the toilet and vice versa? Whilst we wait for these two to return from the underworld, you may like to think about the questions you will ask them, but I beg you, please do not discuss them now since, if this were a trick rather than an act of incredible magic, it might give them time to prepare an answer. Tomorrow morning, after a good night's sleep, the two will have returned to their respective bodies. Now,' he turns to his assistants, 'Let's see if they have returned from the underworld yet. Open the coffins.' "

Jonathan smiled at Caddy. "Apparently, the volunteers exhibited exactly the weird kind of reactions you'd expect from people who had really done a body swap. Even very sceptical members of the audience became convinced that the transformation had taken place."

"So how was it done," Caddy asked.

Jonathan smiled. "Magic?

"Or maybe," he added, "there were false bottoms to the coffins, they got out into the below-stage area and exchanged a few personal details about their lives. Remember that these people were generally known to each other so they'd have to reveal the more intimate stuff. But what I find most difficult to grasp is that the volunteers not only convinced the audience during the performance, but when the performance was over, they went home with their respective husbands, wives, lovers, whilst still keeping up the act, if it was an act. In many cases, it seemed, wives would refuse to sleep with their husbands as they were really 'Best Chums', or they might say how very different from usual was their night of passion." He shrugged. "It all sounds very convincing."

"Perhaps it's true," Caddy suggested.

Jonathan shook his head. "These things are never true," he said, "although, as a member of the Magic Circle, I never said that. It's discovering how he did it that's the mystery."

"OK," Caddy said, "but that doesn't explain what you're doing in my house, drinking my coffee and wondering whether you can do the disappearing bra trick on me for real."

Jonathan looked embarrassed. "Sorry. No. I realise I may have been accidentally staring at your, er… cleavage but…"

"Jonathan," Caddy said, "the money my husband has paid to have these boobs done, I certainly hope it was no accident you were staring at them."

"Well, they are, er… very nice, but that's not getting us any closer to The Great Morgasmo."

"No. Would you like to see around the house first? If we go into the bedrooms you'll be able to see the genuine timbers in the barn roof." But only if I'm on top, she thought.

Clearly, Jonathan was not interested in the type of activities she was thinking of, for he gave a little shrug and said, "I don't suppose there's a cellar, is there? It's not the kind of thing barns usually have but…"

"Yes there is," she said. "It was used to store beer at one time. Do you want me to show you? We use it for storage, now."

As she led him through a door in the hallway leading to a flight of steps, she asked, "You've explained why you're interested in Thomas Morgan, but I don't really see why you want to see my cellar. There's certainly nothing of his stored down here. It was completely clear when we moved in."

"The point is, Caddy," he said, "that these performance were considered obscene. They could all have got arrested if they were discovered, and it seems the police did raid the manor house a couple of times. So, the question in my mind is where would he give the performances? Nowhere public, that's for certain, so an old barn on his estate, maybe?"

"Maybe, but it's quite small down here and not big enough for a magic performance. In any case, it's all been decorated. You're not going to find any evidence of whether he performed or not."

"Hmmm." Jonathan thought she was probably right.

***

Caddy was right. The cellar was totally full of junk that the Goodhopes had stored down there, the walls were covered in a clean white paint, with little hope of finding any nooks and crannies containing vital clues. The only thing…

"Do the two of you come down here very much?"

"Hardly ever," Caddy said. "Just when we need to retrieve or put something down here."

"Yet if you look as those floor slabs, which are clearly as old as the barn, there's a slight scuffing as though a lot of people have walked down the stairs, along this side," he walked the walk, "turned around whatever was placed here and then…" He stopped facing a blank end wall.

"You think there's something behind there?" Caddy gasped. "But Peter would have to get builders in to pull it down and I'm not certain that he would agree anyway."

"Hmm." He studied the wall carefully, starting at the bottom and moving his eyes upward. "There's an extra ceiling beam, there." He pointed to the ceiling. Eventually, Caddy could see that there was one extra beam interrupting the regular pattern. "Do you mind if I stand on this chair?"

He pulled a dilapidated kitchen chair from a pile and placed it beneath the beam, stepped up on it and then pushed and prodded the beam until it slide a few inches lengthwise into the wall and then stopped. "Let's give it a try," he said, stepping down and then leaning against the wall where the scuffled slabs disappeared. It hinged forwards, revealing a dark room beyond.

"Jonathan, that’s brilliant," Caddy said.

“Hmm.” He moved forward into the darkness and flicked an old style light switch. Unsurprisingly, nothing happened.

"I have a torch in the kitchen,”Caddy said. “I'll go and get it."

"Hmm. Do you have an extension lead which will reach as far as this light switch? I might be able to rig something up to get all the lights working."

"Oh Jonathan," Caddy gave him a kiss on the cheek. "That would be brilliant."

***

Ten minutes later, he told Caddy to plug in and switch on the extension lead. The lights came on to reveal a small auditorium. At the far end, was a raised stage. On the stage were a pair of coffins.

"Fantastic, Jonathan," Caddy said, wondering whether she could give him another kiss and deciding she could not.

They walked in, making their way to the stage. Jonathan immediately opened one of the coffins and looked inside the beautifully upholstered box.

"Hmm. In order to see what's beneath, I need to pull out this upholstery, but that would be vandalism. Let's go see if we can find steps down to the below-stage area."

To the one side of the stage was a little changing room. Caddy went straight across to view a silver dress hanging on a coat hanger.

"Oh, Jonathan. Just look at this dress. Isn't it divine?" She held it in front of her own body. "It must have belonged to one of the assistants. I reckon it would just fit me."

"Mmm. I guess the steps down are on the other side of the stage." He walked over there to find a metal door with a secure lock on it, well beyond his ability to pick it open. "I guess he didn't want anyone to discover his secret," he said. "No surprises there. I don't suppose he's hidden the key anywhere but it's worth a try." He started searching the obvious places.

"Jonathan. Take a look at this."

Hoping she had found the key, he turned to see Caddy wearing the assistant's dress, and clearly, not much else. It was a backless halter neck, plummeting at the rear to the cheeks of her buttocks. At the front, a deep V descended as far as her navel, with just a tiny strap keeping the two halves together at the bust, the skimpy sides revealing most of her breasts. Long slits fell down from each hip, revealing the absence of any panties, which Jonathan could see hanging with her bra in the changing room opposite. She looked absolutely ravishing.

"Are you crazy?" he said. "This is an historic costume. Any decent museum would give their eye-teeth to get hold of such a specimen. They will handle it wearing gloves, and here's you slapping it down your body, which you probably haven't washed since taking a shower this morning."

Needless to say, Caddy was rather disappointed with his reaction. "May I remind you, Jonathan, that you are in my house. The building and all its contents belong to my husband, Peter. So this is my dress and if I want to wear it, I shall. Is that clear? Now where have you got to in solving the mystery of this coffin trick?"

He had to admit, "Nowhere."

"Then in that case let's try a little of the Caddy Goodhope method. Get into one of the coffins."

"What. You must be joking…"

"So what are you going to do? You know if you get any expert involved, they'll steal all your glory. How much better for you to write a paper, or whatever, explaining how Morgasmo did his trick."

He couldn't deny her logic.

"So get in the coffin."

He had to inwardly confess he was thrilled at the very idea. They walked over and examined it. It did look extremely comfortable, with a padded lining all the way round and a kind of ruched effect around the head so it looked almost like a halo.

"I suppose it wouldn't hurt if I get in," he said.

It was quite poetic that his beautiful, almost-naked assistant helped him in, as they would have done almost a hundred years ago. And it was very comfortable, after he found where to rest his arms – by his side, rather than crossed over his chest.

"Let's try closing it now," she said.

A sudden unease came over him. "I'm not certain about that," he said, but Caddy had already closed the lid. "At least, don't throw the catches," he called, just before he heard a couple of clicks. With his arms by his side, he couldn't push the lid upward very firmly, but it was obviously secure against his kind of resistance. After all, a performer wouldn't want a claustrophobic volunteer re-appearing before they were supposed to.

Now the lid was closed, he could feel a slight breeze on his face. There must be a fan blowing, somewhere. Fortunate that he had earlier connected the electric; otherwise he'd be suffocating, now.

"That's time enough, Caddy. It's very comfortable."

Silence. Suddenly, he knew she was getting into the other coffin. At least nothing would happen until Morgasmo threw a switch. No, he corrected himself, Morgasmo was standing in front of the audience; he wouldn't have access to a switch. And surely he'd have noticed one during his search if one of the assistants had used it. That means it could have been automatic, as soon as both coffin lids were closed.

"Don't close your coffin lid, Caddy," he called. He realised that he hadn't heard a thing of Caddy or her movements since the lid of his own coffin had been closed, which probably meant that she couldn't hear a word he was saying…

There was a low whirring noise, as though a motor had been activated. He could feel the upholstery in the lid squeezing down on him. With his arms by his sides he was powerless to resist and it became so tight he had difficulty in breathing.

The bottom of the coffin started to tilt downwards, but only at the end nearest his head. His feet were remaining stationary, presumably the coffin floor was hinged at the far end. He was tilting more and more steeply with his head dropping well beneath his feet.

"Stop it," he called, but the machine took no notice.

He was now hanging vertically upside down, held in place by the tightly-squeezing upholstery. Only his head was free although it was pitch black and he couldn't see a thing.

Lights suddenly came on and hanging next to him was Caddy, similarly trussed and upside down like he was.

"Another fine mess you've got us into." He'd chosen the light-hearted words to try to relieve the extreme tension she must be feeling. She didn't respond and Jonathan realised she was unconscious. He hoped it was simply that she'd fainted. That'll teach her, he thought. She wouldn't be playing tricks like this on him again. He wondered whether either of them would ever have a chance to do so.

Another motor whirred and they both started moving downwards. Jonathan glanced down to see where they were going to land. Beneath him, a whole series of lights seeming to stretch down forever, like a bottomless pit. Of course! The Morgan family had been miners. This building had been put over a mine shaft, and Morgasmo had used it as part of his trick. Hell, it was scary. What if the hundred year old equipment broke?

As soon as he had the thought, there was a clucking noise above and he stopped moving downwards, whereas Caddy continued to descend. Down and down she went and he was stuck here like a lemon – perhaps forever. Staring carefully, he could see the rocky bottom of the shaft, probably a hundred feet below. Caddy's downward journey slowed to a halt as she arrived there, and she stopped with her head just about touching the ground.

Now what? Perhaps if he could swing a little he might be able to grab hold of something with his teeth. No way, he realised, but it didn't stop him trying.

With his first movement, there was another crack from above and he was suddenly in free fall. It had taken a couple of minutes for Caddy to descend to the bottom. He was going to do it in a couple of seconds.

In the last half second before he hit the bottom, he opened his mouth and screamed. No one heard him.

***

He awoke to a smell which he couldn't quite place, although he knew he should. A smell of chemistry labs.

Ether!

That was it. Then it all came back to him; how Caddy had made him get into the coffin and had closed and locked the lid on him. He must then have been knocked out with ether, probably the only anaesthetic available in the 1920s, and that had started the dream. Clearly, it must be a dream because he was still alive, lying in the coffin, and not smashed into tiny pieces at the bottom of a mineshaft. He couldn't be in the afterlife because he didn't believe in it.

He wondered whether he was still locked in the coffin so he gave the lid a push; it moved. He managed to push it fully open, vaguely surprised about something but uncertain what. Presumably the ether had left him confused. He lay still and composed his thoughts.

The lid had opened the wrong way, surely? When Caddy had helped him in, she'd been standing on his right and the lid hinged from the left. Now the lid hinged from the right hand side. How could that be?

Then there was something else which had niggled him as he'd opened the lid. His hands were different. He lifted them before his eyes and stared at the pink nail varnish on his fingers. He gasped and then, as the implication sank in, he clutched his chest. Only it wasn't his chest he was clutching, but the voluptuous breasts of Caddy Goodhope.

"Shit!" He sat up as quickly as he could and looked around. The auditorium was still empty, but the other coffin was on his right, not his left as it was when he had got in. And as he looked down at his body, he was looking down at the body of Cadence Goodhope in her fabulous magician assistant's dress.

For good measure, he said it again. "Shit!" The voice was that of Cadence Goodhope.

He stretched one leg over the side of the coffin and tentatively felt for the steps located next to it. He was exposing his leg, he realised (make that, her leg) from hip to toe. Good job Jonathan couldn't see him now.

Which of course, raised the question, 'What had happened to Jonathan Creep, the body he had lived with all of his life?'

He stumbled out of his coffin as quickly as possible – oops, that should have been: she stumbled out of her coffin as quickly as possible – and walked round to the other coffin. The latches were still fastened and she unclipped them and lifted the lid.

The coffin was totally empty of both body and upholstery, and the bottom of the coffin was missing, so she could peer down and see the top of the mineshaft into which he, Jonathan, had fallen. Jonathan's upholstery-wrapped body, which had clearly not just smashed into the pit floor – was being hauled out of the mineshaft as he watched, and lifted until it was hanging vertically beneath the empty coffin. Then the coffin floor started hinging back into place, bringing his body with it. Within a few seconds, his body was properly placed in the coffin, and the upholstery released from the tension holding it.

Jonathan was fast asleep.

***

As she bent over Jonathan's inert body, she could smell the ether on him. So what had happened down there? Prior to being lowered, Caddy had been anaesthetised with ether. Their bodies had been lowered to the bottom of the pit, except that Jonathan's body had stuck for some reason at the top and Caddy's had continued to the bottom. Jonathan's body had suddenly slipped and had crashed down to the bottom. She could still remember that fearful scream that he (Jonathan) had given just prior to hitting the bottom. Except of course that he hadn't.

"Errr," Jonathan muttered.

"Caddy," she said, thinking she ought to at least let her wake up before giving the news.

"Wha…?"

"Caddy," she said. "Something terrible has happened. The magic trick worked. It wasn't magic, but it's certainly something currently unknown to science."

"My God!" Jonathan's body said. Then he looked at Caddy and said, "You look gorgeous."

"What?" Caddy couldn't believe her ears. "Caddy did you hear what I said. Your mind has been transferred into Jonathan's body, but don't worry, it's only for the rest of this day. Tomorrow we'll be back to normal."

"In that case," Jonathan said, "we've got no time to lose." He climbed out of the coffin in an instant. "You’re the magician's assistant and I am the magician and you have to do your duty. Let's fuck."

"Caddy, er, Jonathan. It's you that's crazy. We're occupying other people's bodies. We can't abuse our position of trust."

"Caddy," Jonathan said, "as the official owner of Cadence Goodhope's body, I hereby authorise you to have sex with Jonathan Creep. There, that's done. You look absolutely fabulous. I'm going to take you here and now."

"No, Jonathan. No. Jonathan, no and I mean it…"

***

"So how was that for you?" Jonathan asked some time later.

Caddy paused a moment to gather her thoughts. "It's strange, having someone invade your body. Knowing that his obscene phallus – and I happen to know just how obscene it is – is thrusting right inside your most personal area. Even worse that I didn't really want to go ahead and you forced yourself into me, which was painful. But then, when you started to arouse me it was bearable, and then I was coming to an orgasm and that's when you shot your load and it all ended like a damp squid. Incidentally, are you certain there's no chance of me becoming pregnant?"

Jonathan shook his head. "Caddy finished her period yesterday, which is why she would have been happy to jump into bed with you earlier instead of wandering down to the cellar. However, I am so glad we did. Just look at me: For just one day, I've gained fifteen years of life and a penis; what more could any woman want?"

"Would you want this to be permanent?"

He nodded. "You bet. I suppose there's no hope of that?"

Caddy frowned. "Without fully understanding what happened, who can say. There were no reported incidents like that during the time The Great Morgasmo was performing that trick so I guess not."

"So the great Jonathan Creep was wrong about there being no such thing as magic. There's no other explanation for this."

"There's always an explanation," Caddy said. "A scientific one, even though scientists may not yet be able to explain it. I have my ideas."

Jonathan shook his head. "No, nothing can explain this."

Caddy thought through her comments before speaking. "Caddy was given a knock out whiff of ether as soon as her coffin lid was closed. Jonathan got his a few minutes later, so Caddy became conscious again before Jonathan. It meant I was able to get out of my coffin and open your lid and see what was happening." She told him everything she had observed.

"OK," Jonathan conceded, "there was a lot of human jickery-pokery going on, but it still doesn't explain the body swap."

"As your body was being lifted out of the mine shaft, I was obviously concentrating on you, but I noticed something in the background and I've been trying to make sense of it. Looking through your empty coffin down the mine shaft, which was still illuminated at that time, there appeared to be a large hole torn in the rocky bottom of the shaft."

"A hole torn in the bottom? What are you talking about? Maybe there was some subsidence where you hit the ground, but a falling human body can't make a large hole in the ground, particularly without being killed."

"That was my reaction," Caddy said. "Then I thought, suppose I wasn't actually seeing the bottom of the mine shaft, only something that looked like the bottom of a mine shaft."

"Like what?"

"A large sheet of printed paper stretched across the mine shaft, at the point where Caddy's body was being held?" Caddy suggested.

"What would be the point of that?"

"To make me, as Jonathan, think that I was falling to my death and it was only an instant of a second away. My spirit had to seek any solution it could find, even one which is not recognised by science. At the moment before impact, Caddy was relatively safe, her head was only inches away from my own and she was unconscious, so she was unable to resist a human spirit desperately trying to escape certain death."

"You mean your impending death caused you to do a body swap with Caddy? Is that what you're saying?"

"It's highly unlikely but it's my only explanation. Jonathan was about to crash into the pit bottom and die. He managed to flip his spirit into Caddy's mind, thus displacing her own, which entered Jonathan's in the instant before impact. Except that the impact was not with a solid lump of earth, it was with a sheet of paper covering the shaft which went down a lot further. The brake on the cable came on at the same time as some automated mechanism blew ether into Jonathan's face. We were both then winched back up the pit and loaded back into the coffins. Jonathan was much further down the shaft than Caddy, which is why it took so much longer to winch you back up. It may be stretching the boundaries of credibility, but can you think of a better explanation?"

He shrugged. "Magic is all I can suggest. I've always believed in it and today is the proof." He stood up and began to quickly dress.

"What are we going to do now?" Caddy asked.

He smirked. "You can do as you like, but I am going to drive into town in my car, which I suppose is technically yours, so I'm stealing it. So, get me arrested. I'm going to the home of one of my friends – sorry, your friends, but I'm not telling you which one, and since she is currently at work, I'm going to have sex with her nympho of a daughter, Roxy, who is the sexiest girl I have ever seen."

"What makes you think she'll want to have sex with you?"

"She seems to have sex with every man she meets, but I'm strong enough to force myself on her if she resists."

"But that's rape! You can't."

His smirk broadened. "Try me. OK, I realise that the arm of the law may catch up with Jonathan, by which time I will be Caddy again and you'll just have to take your punishment like a man. I shall get a builder I know, who is very discrete, to remove everything from the auditorium and destroy it. I shall simply tell the police when interviewed, as I'm sure I will be, that you found the way into that hidden area but it was totally empty, so I had it cleaned up. Incidentally, after I've had my way with Roxy I shall go touring the streets, seeing if I can pick up one or two other women. And I expect to end the day either in their house or an expensive hotel paid on your credit card. There, any questions?"

"Jonathan. You can't do those things. They're evil. It's not fair."

"I'm a man, now, so I don't care about fairness. My only concern is to fuck as many women as possible. What I have now is a free pass with no come back. All clear?"

"You're being totally vile."

"I'm a man, so get used to it. Bye."

And he had gone.

***

As soon as they had met each other, he, Jonathan, had not rated Caddy as particularly bright. Combine her mind with Jonathan's testosterone-fuelled body and you had a rather stupid and dangerous young man. For him to state his evil intentions in advance seemed totally idiotic. It took Caddy only a few minutes to locate her handbag (which of course, Jonathan had not taken with him), find her phone and search her contacts list for a Roxy. She was listed along with her parents, and it was only a few seconds to telephone her and say that a very weird character called Jonathan Creep had just been to see her, and Roxy was on no account to let him in. If he persisted, she was to call the police.

Then she dialled 999 and told the police that she'd had a visitor to the house who appeared to have taken her car keys and stolen her car. She reasoned that, one way or another, Jonathan would end up in prison by the end of the day, and she was unable to stop that. But it was better to be under arrest for stealing a car than raping a young woman.

***

"Mrs Goodhope?"

The policeman at the door looked very serious. Surely Jonathan had not come out with a bizarre tale of swapping bodies with her.

"Yes." She smiled. There was no need for both of them to be unhappy, and she'd actually had a wonderful day, clearing up the house, changing the bed linen and preparing a meal for her husband, Peter. "Have you recovered my car?"

"I'm afraid your car has been involved in an accident. The young man who stole it visited the house of one of your friends and tried to gain forceful entrance. She called the police; there was a chase and I'm afraid your vehicle was involved in an accident and the driver is dead."

***

"Hello darling, I'm home," a man she presumed was her husband called out as he entered the house.

"Hello, darling." She flung her arms around his neck. "Something dreadful has happened."

"What's the matter?" he asked. "Have you maxed out your credit card again?"

"Oh darling," she said. "I know I'm often stupid but I'm talking about something really important. A young man called this morning and I'm afraid I let him in without checking any of his credentials. He said he was from the Magic Circle and he was researching Thomas Morgan, who used to own this barn. He gave me some cock and bull story about Morgan being a magician and I believed him, and let him in and gave him a cup of coffee. I thought I was being quite helpful to him, and then he said as a magician he could take off my bra without removing my dress. He'd been sorting through my laundry until he found a bra and then he tried to play a trick on me.

"But I'm not stupid," she continued, noting her husband's attempt not to grin." When he tried to get me to show him the bedrooms so he could look at the ceilings, I asked him to leave. He did, but he must have palmed my car keys, because he shot off in my car. I rang the police and they chased him and he crashed and now he's dead. Oh darling, isn't it horrible." She pressed her body against him and slobbered into his neck.

"Never mind, Caddy," he said. "The main thing is that you're safe. Can I smell cooking?"

"Oh yes. I decided not to use all those silly convenience meals we have in the fridge but to cook something properly. You don't know how much this has made me think about how lucky I am to have you. And the meal won't be ready for another forty minutes, so why don’t we go upstairs and I can show you how pleased I am to see you?"

Hopefully, Caddy thought, Peter would be a lot better lover than Jonathan had been. She didn't know what would happen on the stroke of midnight, but she was hopeful that tomorrow morning she would still be Cadence Goodhope, and could wake Peter with a morning kiss. And maybe she could introduce Peter to a little magic in his life, but certainly not of the kind she had just experienced.

THE END



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