The Masque of the Red Death
By jschrag, Updated
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The "Red Death" had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal. Sharp pains, dizziness, and profuse bleeding at the pores were it's symptoms- the latter (on the face) the most horrifying. Once you acquired the Red Death, you didn't have long.
Let's go hide from death! If we're welded into a building it'll never reach us.
Contrary to most other citizens, Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless. His dominions were half depopulated. He collected numerous provisions, summoned a thousand of his closest upper-class friends, and with these retired to one of his castellated abbeys- the doors of which...they welded shut.
About six months into the seclusion, the prince held an elaborate masquerade. It was a gay party held in the most peculiar imperial suite. There were seven rooms in the suite, running from East to West, and the drapings and decor were different colors corresponding to the rooms. The room farthest East was blue, then purple, green, orange, white, violet...and black. Each room had gothic windows of stained glass in the middle of the walls to the right and left, with a candlelight burning from behind the window, in a closed corridor. The stained glass of the windows corresponded with the room colors, except for the black room, in which the windows were a deep blood color. In the black room also, a giant clock of ebony.
The masquerade was a gay and magnificent affair, the guests in grotesque disguise, full of glitter, piquancy, and phantasm. There was much of the beautiful, and music all around. However, on the chiming of the clock at every hour, the laughter would subside, the music would stop, and the guests were petrified. As the night grew later, people spent less time in the black room, until it was vacant.
The clock continued to strike upon the hour, and upon the hour the music stopped, and the laughter ceased, just as before. However, upon the sounding of midnight, with the twelve strokes to be heard, the people became aware of the presence of a masked figure that hadn't been noticed before. The rumors going around eventually expressed terror, horror, and disgust. The figure out Heroded-Herod, and when Prince Prospero laid eyes on the figure, his brows furrowed with rage.
Did you see the hooded figure?
Yes, but I can't bear to look at him!
The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave. The mask resembled a stiffened corpse. He had gone so far as to assume the type of the Red Death. His vesture was dabbled in blood- as well as all of the features of the face. The Prince, who stood in the blue room, ordered the figure to be seized, but nobody came forth, which allowed the mummer to retreat to the black room, and soon after, the Prince followed him. When the Prince reached the figure, he drew a dagger to kill him, but the figure wasn't at all tangible, and the Prince fell to his death. Upon a wave of courage a throng of the revellers followed in suit, but met the same fate. Now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. The clock stopped, the lights went out, and Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all. So concludes "The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe.
Death conquers all.
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