Thanks to Aleta for contributing to The Troubadour. I enjoy posting articles and stories written by members of our staff (if I can get them to write!!!)
And Now Aleta's Story
The Magic Clipboard
By Aleta Clegg
I peered across the camp. Flashes of dull greenish light emanated from our esteemed leader’s tent. I paused in my nightly rounds. The members of our troupe lay in their bedrolls, wrapped in well-deserved slumber. Autumn was well upon us, frost touched the air. The crisp scent of fallen leaves hung over the camp, mixing with woodsmoke. In but a few short days, the troupe was due to encamp in our winter quarters, settling for the long season of snow and ice. What sorcery could Master Williamson be concocting this late in the season?
His tent glowed sickly yellowish green. This was not the usual magical smoke and trickery we used on our summer audiences. This was deep, dark magic. I shivered even as I approached.
“Master Williamson?” I whispered outside the tent.
“Come in, Mistress Aleta.” His mellow voice was the same as ever. He had not been possessed by demons or his voice would have changed, much as it did when he channeled the spirit of Dr. Markus.
I pushed aside the door flap of his tent. “Is all well? It is late and I could not help but notice the eerie light in your tent. Is is perchance a new effect for the bedazzlement of our audiences?”
He smiled. His face, reflecting green light from the object hidden in his lap, was a devil’s mask. “It is something much more wondrous. Behold!” He reverently drew the object from the velvet coverings. “It arrived just this evening by special messenger.”
I wrinkled my brow in confusion. It looked like nothing I had ever beheld. It was rectangular, a clear greenish yellow object like a flat board with a metal clip on one end.
“The magic clipboard.” Master Williamson stroked the smooth surface. “I have merely to place my problems on parchment and clip them thusly. The problems disappear! A dissatisfied audience? I write it on parchment and place it on the magic clipboard, and poof! No more dissatisfied audience. A patron who neglects payment? Place the bill on the clipboard and payment magically appears in our bags of coinage. Wondrous, is it not?”
He demonstrated, placing an overdue notice on the clipboard. Greenish light flashed. We blinked, blinded momentarily. The parchment had vanished.
“Wondrous indeed,” I murmured. “Good night, sir. Thank you for showing me.”
I left his tent, a creeping feeling of dread riding my back. I pushed chilled fingers into my pocket. Parchment crackled. I pulled the overdue notice from my pocket. Magic compelled me to slip from the camp, bound for the abode of Count Wasatch, who owed us for our performance a month past.
“So that is how the magic clipboard works.” My feet stirred leaves as I walked through the autumn night, locked by the spell into solving the problems placed on the clipboard.
For those of you wondering if the clipboard really exists, yes, it does. It resides under Mr. Williamson’s desk and has the following message written on it in permanent marker, “Aleta’s clipboard. Touch it and die. Mr. Williamson.”