"I'm serious, Penny! I heard it with my own ears! He is going to the hypnotist's show with Mrs. Chester!"
Laura Mills, an 18 year old blonde, was excited, her azure blue eyes sparkling. Penny Styrgon was the same age as her cousin and friend, but with raven black hair and brown eyes they created a stark contrast to each other. Penny was finally convinced that Laura's vivid imagination wasn't making things up this time. She smiled. A hypnotist's show? Why not? Even if he wouldn't have been there, a hypnotist's show promised to be fun. Not that she believed in hypnotism, at least not the type these shows generally promised. Shows where the supposed 'victims', usually students paid for their efforts she guessed, jumped on the stage like rabbits or whatever. She would enjoy a laugh or some smoke and mirrors on this boring class trip, and, well, he would be there.
He - he was Mr. Alban, their gym teacher. He was tanned, muscled and the living dream of every girl in the whole highschool. All of the girls in the class were excited when they found out that Mr. Alban was the teacher that was joining Mrs. Chester, their class teacher, on their trip. The problem was, with all pros Mr. Alban had to offer, every girl also had to cope with the fact that he had his hazel eyes firmly fixed on Mrs. Chester and no one else. It didn't matter how many lovesick batting eyelashes were send his way or 'accidental' touches he might receive from almost every girl in school. Incomprehensibly, Mrs. Chester, despite being divorced for some time now, had no eyes for Mr. Alban whatsoever! Penny shook her head. Even she still dreamt of Mr. Alban occasionally, and she had a boyfriend!
"Oh, come on, Penny, let's go to the show!" Laura begged, seeing Penny's headshaking and drawing the wrong conclusions from it.
"Okay, okay!" Penny threw up her hands as she gave in. So they sneaked out of the youth hostel and finally found their way to The Great Cardini. Now they were in a small club in the midst of a shady red light quarter, which was no place they normally would have been caught dead in. But if he was to be there...
Penny and Laura were sitting in a corner of the black clad room, dimly lit by red spotlights and filled with slow, mystical music. The audience was nearly all male. The only exception were themselves and the red haired Mrs. Chester, who had indeed arrived in the company of the gorgeous Mr. Alban. From their carefully chosen place, Penny and Laura could see the stage as well as their teachers, and they had great seats in their opinion. They were even near enough to hear what their teachers were talking about. The girls clinked their glasses of champagne, their mood perfect. Both were from rich families and therefore could afford something nicer to drink than their teachers. Besides, a bottle of champagne on the table along with their choice of expensive clothing would be a nice disguise in case their teachers happened to look at their table. They really didn't want to be discovered and sent back to the youth hostel by two angry teachers.
On stage, a juggler was tossing coloured balls in the air, warming up the audience for The Great Cardini, the hypnotist. The juggler got his share of attention and applause, but most guests still chatted and drank instead of really watching the show. So did their teachers. The girls eavesdropped shamelessly, hearing the teachers talk about school and colleagues, noting all the gossip that they would share with every other girl on the classtrip as soon as possible. All of the sudden the conversation between the teachers became even more interesting. Mr. Alban was trying to get Mrs. Chester on stage for the show, and he was offering to join her if she'd do it! The girls glanced at each other delighted. Their teachers both on stage, maybe jumping like rabbits? That would be too good to miss! Of course, Mrs. Chester had the same views as Penny about the reliability of these shows, so Mr. Alban had a hard time convincing her. Finally, Mrs. Chester agreed laughingly, saying she would go but only if she was selected by The Great Cardini himself. Penny smiled inside, sure that that wouldn't happen on a staged show. Still, imagining the vision of her teachers acting like rabbits was nice. Mrs. Chester excused herself to go to the restroom before the main event started, and Penny was about to take another sip of champagne when suddenly Laura nudged her hard enough to almost make her spill her drink.
Angrily, Penny glared at her cousin, but Laura just pointed at Mr. Alban. Penny looked over at him. What was that? Had she seen correctly? Did he drop some powder into Mrs. Chester's glass? He stirred the wine with his pen, and that action removed any doubt from Penny. Alban was trying to drug Mrs. Chester!
"We have to warn Mrs. Chester!" Penny whispered to her cousin. "There! Mrs. Chester is coming back to her place! I'll go to her..."
But Penny was stopped by Laura's hand.
"Wait!" Laura ordered, seeing that Alban was now leaving the table. "We can warn her later on. Let's see first what Alban is up to. Oh, I can't wait to go back to the hostel and tell all the girls! Our friends won't believe this story! When we tell them – wait! Alban isn't going to the restroom! See? He's hurrying to the main door. Wait here, Penny, I'll follow him! You stay and watch if Mrs. Chester drinks her wine, and don't interfere!"
With these words Laura left their table, hurrying after her gym teacher.
Penny was left behind. Unsure about what to do next, she looked at Mrs. Chester, hoping she wouldn't drink her wine, at least not until Laura was back again. Her teacher would surely notice the faint blue shimmer the wine had taken on? Or was it a trick of the light? Where had Laura gone? Shouldn't she warn Mrs. Chester in spite of her cousin's unnamed plan?
The minutes went slowly while Penny tried to decide what to do, if anything. Meanwhile, a snake charmer was playing his flute on the stage, which in her eyes was a bit more fitting for a hypnotist's show, but not much. There was still no sign of either Laura or Mr. Alban. After a few minutes Penny started drumming her fingers on the table, anxiously watching the main entrance more than the stage or Mrs. Chester, as Laura had told her to do. When she turned back to the teacher and looked at the wineglass, her heart almost missed a beat. While she had been distracted, her teacher had already drunken more than half of her bluish wine!
At least that saved Penny from the question of whether or not to warn Mrs. Chester. Her teacher didn't seem to be half as distressed as Penny at being left alone by her companion.Finally, Mr. Alban came back, and he was obviously in a very good mood. Seeing his colleague's glass more than half empty made his smile widen even more. Penny kept glancing at the doorway and though she felt as if several eternities had passed, there was still no sign of Laura. Meanwhile, Mrs. Chester emptied her glass. Was it Penny's imagination, or were her teacher's eyes getting glassy? It was a bit too dark in the room to see clearly, and of course her table wasn't exactly next to their teacher's also. At least Mrs. Chester wasn't getting green in the face or falling unconscious!
Finally, to Penny's immense relief, Laura came back. She almost knocked over her chair while sitting down in her eagerness to tell Penny what she had heard. Before Penny could even start in on her for leaving her alone for so long, Laura started talking, her words almost tumbling over themselves she was whispering so fast.
"Mr. Alban and that Cardini know each other! They are friends from childhood or something like that! The hypnotist is going to call Mr. Alban and Mrs. Chester on stage for his show! Mr. Alban drugged her so she would heed Cardini's commands! And that's not all!" Laura took a deep breath; she was winded from her obvious haste to come back and tell her friend everything. Penny couldn't wait for her to continue. Were they actually going to see their teachers jumping like rabbits on the stage? Penny giggled, and immediately felt for her cell phone. The pictures of this show would surely be a major event in school! Laura's smug grin told her that there was much more than rabbits to be expected.
"You'll never guess! I'm going to be on stage too!"
Penny was speechless but before she could comment, Laura excitedly continued.
"I went to Cardini right after Alban was gone, and I threatened to turn him in. I promised to play being hypnotized on stage for him, but without getting drugged. He will charm me or whatever it's called, and then he'll 'force' me to ... kiss Mr. Alban!"
Laura looked at Penny triumphantly, her eyes almost glowing in the half-dark. Penny knew her friend had dreamt of that kiss for a long while, but she couldn't believe she had threatened a hypnotist to achieve it! And what would Mr. Alban think? Or Mrs. Chester? If she noticed it at all, Penny noted soberly to herself, in her drugged condition.
Laura obviously wanted to add more, but now the music got louder. The snake charmer was gone already, unnoticed by the girls in their excitement or shock, and now the curtain was parting to finally introduce The Great Cardini. He was a small and gaunt man with tanned skin and a carefully groomed black moustache. His long, dark hair was worn in a braid with interwoven crystal shards of various colors. Open-fingered leather gloves covered each hand, with eight more crystals affixed to the knuckles. The crowd went silent. Everyone was watching the main attraction now.
.... There is more of this story ...