TITLE: THE LAST MESMERIST
GENRE: YA Fantasy gaslamp
Hilda stood behind the impossibly heavy red velvet curtain, waiting for it to open or, perhaps, fall from the coiled mechanism holding it up and crush her. She didn’t particularly want to be crushed, but at least it would be something different. An adventure of sorts. Something other than performing over and over without an end in sight. Well—she swallowed the too-painful thought away—there was an end, but not one she cared to think about.
“Miss Hollow, a moment!”
Hilda turned toward the unnecessarily loud voice, her silk ruffle overlay flapping against the smooth velvet of her skirt like a smothered scream.
One of the sound operators raced up to her. He held out a silver micro-trumpet then quickly pulled it back against his chest before she could remind him, again, that chanters of illusion didn’t need amplification.
She clenched her fists. This was only her fifteenth time singing here on her three-year tour of opera houses and grand hotels. However…he was merely trying to do his job. Besides, perhaps he was new. She took a moment to really look at him. Thoughtful eyes. Sweaty brow. Disheveled jacket collar. Yes, definitely new. She relaxed her hands but didn’t answer. He wouldn’t have heard her anyway, not with the silencers—large brass discs—over his ears. Tiny cranks in the center of the circles could be turned and tightened to stamp out sound. The opera house required all employees to wear them. The proprietors said it was because they didn’t want the workers to be drawn into an illusion.