The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 76
Magic

The applicants for the truth system dwindled in number. After the first test, 200 were left, after the second, 60, and after the third, only the 20 most intelligent and open minded applicants graduated from the course. To celebrate their success I took them, Rupert and a few others who had volunteered to help me with the system, to see Derren Brown, a famous, English magician.

From our almost front row seats, with a great view of the large red curtains, we could just about hear the orchestral music playing quietly while hundreds of excited voices made their way to their seats. I had organized tickets that would ensure that Shelley was seated next to me on my right hand side, with ten graduates next to her, and ten graduates next to me. I greeted the graduate to my left, a dark skinned man about my age, dressed in a smart suit and wearing small, black rimmed glasses. ‘Hi,’ I held out my right hand. They all knew who I was, so there was no need to introduce myself.

‘Hi, I’m Denver. Thanks for organizing this show. I’m a really big fan of Mr. Brown. Really eager to see this.’

‘No problem,’ I replied. ‘I’m a big fan myself. Very keen to see what he has up his sleeves tonight.’

The lights dimmed and mysterious music started playing. The curtains swept open and the stage lights illuminated Derren Brown marching towards the centre of the stage. The audience applauded the moment they saw him. ‘Good evening,’ he greeted us in a very cheerful English accent. ‘I’m sure you all know the game called twenty questions?’ he asked, nodding his head twice. ‘We’re going to do something similar, but I’m going to need some volunteers.’ He threw five frisbees out into the audience and the people who caught them were asked to join him on the stage. Annoyingly, one of the frisbees scraped the tips of my fingers as I reached for it and was caught by the man behind me. The volunteers made their way onto the stage where Derren asked them to think of a random object and then started asking some unusual yes or no questions. ‘Is it larger than a piano?’ he asked the first man.

‘No,’ the man replied.

‘Does it start with the letter “Y”?’

‘No,’ he answered again.

Derren inspected the man’s hands. ‘Is it a pillow?’ he asked.

‘Yes, that’s unbelievable,’ the man replied, shaking his head. Derren continued to ask the rest of the group similar questions, guessing each person’s answer with four or less questions, except for the last person, a young blonde lady.

Derren admitted, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t think I’ll be able to do this with you.’ The lady was about to walk off the stage when Derren called her back, ‘Wait; it’s not a kangaroo, is it?’ It was.

Blown away, and completely unable to figure out how Derren was doing his tricks I was very grateful to get a chance to test him myself. Derren had asked us to write down questions, place them in a black, opaque envelope and put them in a glass bowl on the stage. Not only would he answer the question, but he would try to guess the question as well. All we were asked to write on the outside of the envelope would be our initials and seat numbers. I wrote down my question and after placing it in the envelope, deposited it into the bowl on the stage.

The curtain opened once again and the audience quietened down. I waited eagerly for the show to carry on. Derren sat down on a chair in front of the bowl, and removed a handful of envelopes. After sifting through them and throwing some of them away, he continued the show. ‘Please try not to react when I call out the information on the card. AJ in 22K,’ he called out the initials and seat number on the envelope. ‘This is a lady, probably in her mid thirties. Please stand up if this is you.’

I turned my head around and spotted the tall, blonde lady standing up behind us.

‘Alison, is it?’ Derren asked.

‘Yes, that’s correct,’ she replied.

‘I want you to concentrate on your question. Stop thinking about dying your hair, and just concentrate on your...’ He interrupted himself, ‘Oh, you’re trying to test me. You want to know what word is engraved on the inside of your watch?’

She shook her head and looked down at the man sitting next to her, holding her palms up, with her mouth open, as if to ask, ‘How did he know my question?’

‘This is a fabulous question, because we can actually prove whether or not I know the answer,’ Derren explained. ‘So, I want you to picture the word very clearly in your mind.’

He bent forward and stared at the lady, wrinkling up his forehead. He scratched his chin. ‘It’s not a word, is it?’

‘No,’ she replied.

‘It’s a date. It’s the 22nd of January, 2001.’

The lady gasped.

‘Could you please take off your watch and show someone sitting near you, so that they can confirm?’ Derren asked.

She showed the watch around and the people nearby nodded in agreement. The audience applauded.

‘Thank you, let’s do another one.’ He pulled out the next card, ‘NB C17.’

Shelley nudged me, ‘It’s you.’

‘Oh,’ I replied suddenly. I had been in a bit of a daze, thinking hard about how he had managed to do that.

‘This will be a man, in his mid twenties. Judging from the handwriting I’d say he’s quite intellectual, so possibly a mathematician or a programmer, or something like that. And I’m going to avoid making jokes about his initials, because I’m sure he’s tired of hearing them. NB in C17, please stand.’

I stood up.

‘Nevil, perhaps?’

I shook my head.

‘Nathan?’

I nodded.

‘Yours is a tricky one, because it’s an intellectual question, so it’s not something simple like ‘What is my cat’s name?’ It might be quite complicated, but I’m getting a sense that it’s something about a wish, something about the future... of the planet, perhaps. I’ll need you to stop thinking about how I’m doing this and focus on your question.’

He paused and gritted his teeth, then looked up, and back at me. ‘Umm... you want to know... no, wait, this can’t be right. Okay, I don’t really understand the question, but this is what I’m getting... You want to know if the company that you work for will be able to change the world to end the major problems like poverty?’

I smiled and nodded.

‘Wow,’ Derren said, scratching his right eyebrow. ‘I suppose that would depend on which company you work... Oh!’ he interrupted himself again, ‘You work for Beyond Imagination. Okay, I’m not going to pretend that I know the future, but if I was pretending to be psychic or able to talk to ghosts or whatever, I would absolutely love this, because I could probably say anything and many of you would believe it. What I will say is that whether you do or don’t, I think you’re certainly going to have a lot of support. I mean, who wouldn’t want to end the world’s major problems? However, you will probably find a lot of sceptical people who don’t believe that you can succeed because people tend to accept the reality with which they’re presented. They will probably interfere, but please keep trying. The world definitely does need all the help it can get. Are you happy with that answer?’

‘Yes, that’s great. Thank you,’ I replied.

I didn’t tell him my question. Honestly, I did not tell him.

 

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