The Cape Key

After dinner, one of my guests was looking around at some of the artefacts and objects I had on my shelf. He reached up and grabbed what appeared to be an old book. As he brought it down, its cover swung open and a large ornate key fell out and struck him on the bridge of the nose, “That’ll teach you to be nosey!” I said with a smirk.

“How in the blazes did that key fit into that book?” he exclaimed, rubbing his wound.

“The key”, I explained, “was hidden in that old book box to keep it away from those unfamiliar with the paranormal – you know, the spirit world! Meddling in that can be quite hazardous to one’s health, as you’ve already begun to experience.” I said, again unable to hide the smirk.

“In 1652, the Dutch arrived in what is now known as Cape Town. Jan van Riebeek was appointed first commander of the Cape of Good Hope. One of his first tasks was to build a fort (now known as the Castle), this would form a stronghold for the powerful Dutch East India Company. Things were very good for a while, for the Dutch at least. Unfortunately slavery was still the order of the day and many slaves were kept at the Castle. Most were mistreated and many were imprisoned in the dungeon of the fortress.

On one winter’s evening in 1685, a large fire broke out in the kitchen and quickly spread throughout the castle. Most of the inhabitants got out in time, including the cowardly jailor, who quickly fled his post leaving some 22 slaves to burn to death in the crimson flames that soon engulfed the entire castle.

The flames died down when there was nothing left to burn and the Dutch settlers returned to their home. During the salvage exercise the wretched jailor decided it might be time to check on his post. He wandered down the blackened steps to the dungeon, the charred remains of the slaves still smoldering, as he approached the main door. He thought it strange that the door was opened. He entered the chamber of ashes, holding his hand over his face to block out the smokey stench.

Indeed all the slaves had perished, “A shame,” he thought, “cost a fortune they did!”

Suddenly the door slammed shut. He ran toward it, tripping over a burning ember that could’ve been an arm or a leg at one point.

“That’s funny!” he thought as he noticed the large key in the lock, ON THE INSIDE OF THE CELL!! He screamed as he saw the key slowly turning, as if moved by the ghostly fingers of some terrible unseen creature.

His screams were heard by the guards in the cluttered courtyard above, they came running down the stairs. The spectacle that lay before them would haunt them in their nightmares and in the nightmares of their children who heard the story, for an eternity.

The door to the cell was wide open, the jailor lay dead in the middle of the cell, clutching the key to his chest, his face frozen in a grimace that could only suggest the most painful and terrifying final breaths. His hands were burnt to the bone as if they’d been pushed into the heart of the inferno that had consumed the fortress hours before!

Rumour has it that this is the key to that cell in the Castle in Cape Town, and if you look carefully and don’t make a sound you just might see what our poor unfortunate friend the jailor saw in his last moments…………………”

The workings

There are many books written on this effect and I suppose the workings of it are fairly obvious to most magicians. This is however definitely one of those effects that requires practice and an excellent delivery of a creepy story. The effect is that a large antique key is held in the hand of the magician, while he tells a story about the key it begins to turn slowly as if possessed by some dark force. I won’t go into the method here.