The Purple Death


Bieber Fever had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal or so hideous. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the orifices. The progress and termination of the disease, also known as “The Purple Death,” took place within the span of mere hours. While most people resigned themselves to fatalistic attitudes, one man refused to accept the new dystopian reality: Prince.

The Artist Formerly Known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince took the spread of Bieber Fever as a personal affront to his own artistic sensibility. He, and not some Canadian brat, had laid claim on the color purple two generations prior to the outbreak of the Purple Death.

When Prince’s fanbase was half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand friends and fans, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of Paisley Park outside of Minneapolis. This was an extensive and magnificent structure built of cement and steel, the creation of Prince’s own eccentric taste. The courtiers, having entered, welded the compound’s steel doors shut. No one would be entering or exiting. Paisley Park was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. Prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure: There were ballet dancers, there were models, there were kitties. All these and security were within the compound; without was the Purple Death.

It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furiously outside Paisley Park’s walls, that Prince entertained his thousand friends at a masked orgy of the most unusual magnificence.

“Let’s party like it’s 1999!” Prince told revelers during a succinct monologue before the New Power Generation launched into instrumental versions of Prince’s greatest hits. Prince himself promised to take the microphone back at the stroke of midnight, at which time he had planned to wow the audience with a career retrospective comprised heavily of deep album cuts. Because he put out so many records, he advised his band to plan for at least a twelve-hour set with him at the helm.

It was a voluptuous scene, that masked orgy. It was held in a gigantic ballroom, with hundreds of revelers in various states of undress. There stood against the western wall a gigantic clock of ebony. Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang like an iron ballsack; and when the minute hand made the circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the clock the sound of a dove’s cry. At each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the New Power Generation paused their performance momentarily, in deference to the sound; and thus the orgy-goers ceased their sexual gyrations; and there was a brief disconcert of the whole company while the clock counted out the hours with the sound of a dove’s cry. But when the echoes had fully ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly; the musicians looked at each other and smiled and returned to their merry-making.

It was a most magnificent revel. Amongst the various sexual acts being engaged in, there was much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust, all set to the wild music of the New Power Generation.

And there strikes the ebony clock.

And then, for a moment, all is still, and all is silent save the voice of the crying dove. The revelers are frozen as they stand, in doggy-style, missionary, and every which position in between. But the echoes of the chime die away—they have endured but an instant—and a light, half-subdued laughter floats after them as they depart. And now again the music swells, and the dreams live, and writhe to and fro more merrily than ever.

And the revel went whirlingly on, with wangs and titties swinging about, until at length there commenced the sounding of midnight upon the clock. And then the music ceased, as I have told; and the evolutions of the orgy-goers were quieted; and there was cessation of all things as before. But now there were twelve dove cries to be sounded by the clock; and thus it happened, perhaps, that more of thought crept, with more of time, into the meditations of the thoughtful among those who reveled. And thus, too, it happened, perhaps, that before the last echoes of the last chime had utterly sunk into silence, there were many individuals in the crowd who had found leisure to become aware of the presence of a masked figure which had arrested the attention of no single individual before. And the rumor of this new presence having spread itself whisperingly around, there arose at length from the whole company a buzz, or murmur, expressive of disapprobation and surprise—then, finally, of terror, of horror, and of disgust.

In an assembly of phantasms such as I have painted, it may well be supposed that no ordinary appearance could have excited such sensation. In truth the masquerade license of the night was nearly unlimited; but the figure in question had gone beyond the bounds of even Prince’s indefinite decorum. The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in a purple hoodie and loose-fitting jeans. The mask was made so nearly to resemble the countenance of Justin Bieber’s face that the closest scrutiny must have had difficulty in detecting the cheat. When the eyes of Prince fell upon this spectral image he was seen to be convulsed, in the first moment with a strong shudder either of terror or distaste; but, in the next, his brow reddened with rage.

“Who dares?” he demanded of the courtiers who stood near him. “Who dares insult us with this blasphemous mockery? Seize him and unmask him so that we may know whom we have to hang at sunrise!” It was toward the rear of the room where stood Prince as he uttered these words. They rang throughout the ballroom loudly and clearly, for the music had become hushed at the waving of his hand. He was clad in a garish outfit. The tastes of Prince were peculiar. He had a fine eye for colors and effects. He disregarded the decorum of mere fashion. There are some who would have thought him mad. His followers felt that he was not. It was necessary to hear and see and touch him to be sure that he was not.

Prince stood with a group of nude revelers. At first, as he spoke, there was a slight rushing movement of this group in the direction of the intruder, who at the moment was also near at hand, and now, with deliberate and stately step, made closer approach to the speaker. But from a certain nameless awe with which the mad assumptions of the hooded figure had inspired the whole party, there were found none who put forth hand to seize him. Prince, maddening with rage, rushed hurriedly across the sea of flesh. Prince bore aloft a drawn dagger, and had approached, in rapid impetuosity, to within three or four feet of the hooded figure, when the latter turned suddenly and confronted his pursuer. There was a sharp cry—and the dagger dropped gleaming upon the floor, upon which, instantly afterwards, fell Prince, disemboweling himself in the traditional Japanese manner of ritual suicide.

Summoning the wild courage of despair, a throng of the revelers at once threw themselves upon the phantasm, whose tall figure stood erect and motionless within the shadow of the ebony clock. They gasped in unutterable horror at finding the hoodie and Bieber mask uninhabited by any tangible form.

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Purple Death. It had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped Prince’s guests in the halls of Paisley Park, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the revelers, and, in a world so cold, the Purple Death held dominion over all.