The room stirred in anticipation, a faint whisper evident as the appointed time approached, arrived, and passed. The lights dimmed, and the whispers silenced. The audience collectively held its breath.
The curtain parted to reveal—to everyone’s apparent shock—an empty stage.
At the back of the room, an anonymous audience member stood up, dropped his assumed mantle of confusion, and spoke. “Good evening,” he announced, “thank you for indulging my little experiment.” As he spoke, he made his way to the stage and took his place.
“You expected to find me on stage, and the tension felt when the stage was revealed to be empty was marked and evident to all. So much so that your patience outlasted mine. I was unable to remain hidden any longer than I did. I actually had a small bet placed (which I have lost) before the show, predicting how long I would hold out. I became concerned that waiting any longer would poison you as audience against me as performer.”
The cry had come from somewhere to the back of the room, where another audience member had stood up and dropped an apparent disguise. “Imposter!” he said. “Tell the truth. You are no more the real star than I am.”
With that, they both turned around and vanished.
The audience member left standing grinned, turned and left.