Disclaimer: I do not in anyway own The Prestige, movie or book. I am not making money with this story. I am not enjoying writing this disclaimer.
AN: This story is entirely NOVEL BASED, 'cause I just finished the novel and I've only seen the movie once. And that was months ago. This takes place after the novel, so there are SPOILERS for it. Just so you're warned.
November 7, 1904
My name is Rupert. Sometimes it is Rob, and other times Robbie. I was once Rupert Angier, the world renowned stage magician. I was once Lord Colderdale, the 14th Earl of Colderdale. But now I am neither of those things. My existence as both ended separately as a result of an injury during a performance and cancerous ulcers. One of which I died from.
I am writing this four months after my death, mostly because it has been a habit to write in a journal all my life. I had once, as a young boy, picked up the pen with the intention of writing down my life's story. I have succeeded, and that journal is locked in the bowels of my family tomb, amongst the prestige materials. I am now writing in a fresh journal, leather bound with a key, just as I like them, because I could not bring myself to take that journal with me. That journal is for the story of my life. And the existence I have now…
Is certainly not living.
November 8, 1904
When I had finished the last journal I did so with the intention of using Tesla's apparatus to transport me back into my prestige, which was in a coffin awaiting burial. I was sure that by doing this, I would either reanimate the body and heal the sores and wound by which it died, or succumb to death along with it. Neither were correct. In the million of a second it too to transport I went from the cellar to the coffin. The stench of rotting meat immediately filled my nostril and I chocked and gagged. I was so dark! I could not see. Had I succeeded? Was I even now healing my body, causing the heart to pump and push blood into veins, reanimating the stiff flesh? Or was I dying? Was I to be trapped, conscious, in the dead body of my prestige?
In a panic I thrust my hands hard against the lid of the coffin, and I moaned when I realized my hands merely passed through. I rolled to the right, passing through the coffin and crashing in a heap on the floor. I gulped the fresh air. I had not been in the coffin for more than a few seconds but the stench still clung to me, causing me to gag and tremble, a convulsing, sobbing mess on the floor.
I jerked in surprise. Hutton was in the doorway, forehead wrinkled in concern. I forced myself to calm down and get up from the floor. Smoothing down the sleeves of my jacket I noticed with relief that there were no sign of sores on my body. The thought of that nearly sent me tumbling to floor again. I took a deep breath. "I am leaving, Hutton," I said to him as calmly as I could. "And I won't be coming back."
Hutton nodded, "Yes, sir."
"But I need a few things taken care of." He nodded again. "Good. The Tesla apparatus, I want disassembled and put back in the crates. Keep them in the cellar. And make sure all the directions are with it. There is also the matter of the prestige material I left in the cellar," Hutton's eyes slid from me to the coffin and then back to me again. I hesitated. "I'm not sure what exactly I left behind… but dispose of it in anyway you see fit. And my journal. It's sitting on the desk in my room."
"Would you like me to fetch it for you, my Lord?"
I shook my head. "No. I want you to take it to the tomb and make sure no one else finds it."
If he thought this request odd, he didn't show it. Instead he nodded in that way of his and said, "Very well, sir. Is there anything else you would like me to do?"
"Just…tell Julia and the children goodbye for me. Other than that…goodbye, I suppose."
"Goodbye, sir." He smiled a little, and were I not in this spectral form I suspect he would have grasped my hand affectionately. As it was, we merely shared one last nod, and I was striding past him into the hall beyond and then out the front door and away from Colderdale House forever.
November 29, 1904
It has been months since I left Colderdale and my existence since then has not been a pleasant once. Unable to live among other human beings, I cling to the shadows when I travel, avoiding any artificial light, which makes my skin transparent, so that I take the form of a ghastly specter, a hallowed face, dark eyed demon from hell. During the day I continue to wear greasepaint on my face, but my presence still brings others a significant amount of unease, so I spend my time alone.
I am once again in a state where I wish for death but am unable to kill myself. I despair.
LondonDecember 11, 1904
I paid a visit to Borden this evening. This, of course, breaks the oath I made to leave everything of my former life behind, to forget old loves, old claims, old feuds. But Borden, his presence in this world, just as it always has, pulls at me in some way.
I was traveling the streets of London, wearing the outfit that I always do when I want to be invisible, when I passed the theatre where Le Profeseur de Magie was performing. I found myself inexplicably curious about him. Not about the show, for I knew that Borden's The New Transported Man would not be performed, but about Borden himself. Which of the brothers died that night at the London flat? Was Borden living successfully in the illusion he turned his life into, or was he falling apart without his double? Determined to find the answers, I snuck into the theatre and into the magician's dressing room. I would wait there until the snow ended and Borden arrived.
Borden did not seem me at first. Walking through the door he tossed his top hat on the loveseat on collapsed beside it. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back with a sigh. Borden did not look well. The lines around his eyes were more pronounced, and he had the drawn, haggard look of someone who lost too much weight in too short a time.
He sat up with a gasp, his eyes wide as they searched the room. "Who's there?" His voice was harsh, breathing erratic.
I stepped out from my corner. "Just me."
Borden was gripping the arm of the loveseat with his left hand, and his wide eyes were fixed on me. "Angier," he croaked. "How?"
I sat down in the armchair across from him. "You did this to me. The night you unplugged the apparatus in Lowestoft. The transportation was interrupted, and I was split in two." It didn't bother me that I was giving away my secret to In A Flash. I was no longer performing, and neither could Borden ever perform his version again. Both our magic acts were now only ruins.
"But you are dead!" he cried. "And yet I have seen you twice since your death!" I could not tell if he meant that he was the one who suffered through my mad attempt at murder or if "I" referred to his brother. But I could not question it then, Borden was close to hysteria.
"That night I was split in two," I said again. "I ended up a mere doppelganger of myself, a soul with no solid form. The other me had the original body but in a weakened form. He could not move without over straining the body, and his immune system was severely damaged. That night we became two separate entities of the same person." I thought that this was something he could understand, better than I could, even. "It was the other Rupert Angier that died."
We were silent for a moment as he absorbed this.
Borden finally spoke. "And you are here to avenge him? To once more try to take my life?" His knuckles were very white against the dark fabric of the loveseat that he gripped.
I sighed wearily. "I have given up on my revenge. I should never have sought it. It was after all, the lust for revenge that led me to this." I waved a translucent hand at my body.
There was another moment of silence, this one longer than the last, and it seemed like it would just keep continuing, with the two of us sitting together in silence. Angier and Borden, both half the man they once were, both only living this life because they had no other choice, both finally, and absolutely alone. Perhaps it was my curiosity that caused me to finally break the silence, or perhaps the silence, and the revelations that came with it, was simply too horrifying for me. "Borden," I said quietly, "which one are you?"
He reared back as if I had hit him. "I… I don't know what you are talking about."
I sighed in exasperation. "Which twin brother? Frederick or Albert?"
"Angier, I have no twin. My name is—"
"Give up the illusion, Borden! I have read, and published your journal!" I was standing now, looming dangerously above him as I roared. "I have talked to a man who saw the two of you together and what's more, I have seen you together! Now, let go of the secret and tell me, which one are you?"
"ALFRED!" he screamed. "My name is Alfred! I have no twin! I am alone! ALONE!"
His panicked scream knocked me from my rage and allowed me to look at him. His face was pale and shiny with sweat, and he was trembling a great deal. His hands clenched and unclenched sporadically on the cushion on the sofa. I realized that despite my telling him that I had no intention of revenge, he was still frightened of me. I also realized one other thing when I peered into the very wide, flickering eyes: there was madness in them.
I took a step back and attempted to regain my composure. "Forgive me," I muttered. "I did not come here tonight to rekindle old feuds. In fact, I had hoped to finally put them to rest. I want to apologize for all my actions over the years, they were pointless, and they helped no one. Certainly not me. I realize that had I merely responded to the letter you wrote years ago this could have all been avoided. But I was stubborn and fool hearted, and I deeply regret not doing so. I am very sorry." With that I swept him my best performance bow, and with only one more glance at the crumpled figure on the settee, I was out the door.
I spent several hours afterwards roaming the streets in London, invisible to all who passed me by. I spent these hours contemplating my once rival. I came to two realizations. The first was that Borden had spent his whole life being one half of a whole, but more than that, he spent his whole life, believing that he was one half of a whole. Believing that he and his brother were actually one in the same. There was no separation of "me" and "you," no real differences in opinions or goals. They were the same man. They did not live their lives creating an illusion for the world to believe, theybelieved the illusion, lived in the illusion. And even now, with one of the brothers dead, Borden clings to that illusion. He is not Albert or Frederick, he is not a surviving twin, he is not a whole man. He is Alfred.
The second realization was that despite Borden's extensive magical knowledge, despite his showmanship and his skill at making the audiences believe the impossible, despite the arrogant air he had when it came to performance magic—even in his own journal—all Borden's tricks could be broken down to that first simple rule: that behind every great illusion is a simple and disappointing explanation. This is why he feared me so. I had thought, that as a fellow magician he might be able to understand the lengths one goes to for a performance. After all, he and his twin brother had lived their entire lives as a single person! But I had broken the rule; I had stepped outside the borders of stage magic and into something else, something dangerous. Unlike even Borden's highly coveted trick, which had a simple, explanation, my illusion wasn't an illusion at all. Mine was real.
I was struck by how different, and yet, how similar our situation was. Borden is now struggling with the fact that all his life had been nothing but an illusion. And I, I am struggling with the thought that my reality, my life, would have been better off it was an illusion.
But enough of this. If these are the type of contemplations that meeting with Borden rouse, I shall not see him again. I am resolved.
End Chapter One.