Tick Tock Goes the Clock

The Red Death had come. We stayed behind doors.

Quaking and shaking, blood seeped from our pores.

Until with a crash and a strange little gurgle,

We breathed our last breath with barely a burble.

We fell one by one with our faces stained red,

We corpses piled up behind each house and shed.

Our Prince, it was said, was dauntless indeed.

He cared nary a bit for Death's latest great deed.

Despite all the quaking and fearful bemoaning

He grandly proclaimed to all his friends who were roaming,

"Join me! Behind my castle's strong iron gates.

We'll weld them all shut until the Red Death abates.

We'll party and dance and drink and make merry

Until one and all forget it's so very scary."

And so all of his courtiers scurried inside.

Happy to be somewhere Death did not reside.

And they partied and drank and were oh-so-merry

They even drank wine from the oh-so-drunk berry.

They forgot to be scared. They forgot the death rattle.

They all laughed instead as they danced and they prattled.

But the Prince sought the party beyond all before

So he gestured and pronounced as he paced on the floor.

"To all who are here, let us celebrate how

We've defeated Death's insistent demands here and now.

Seven chambers he readied each a new color.

Every single one different from any other.

The first one was blue, then purple, then green,

Orange was next and a white blindingly clean,

Violet was next and the final one black.

(An ebony clock there was at the back.)

An interesting relic, the clock gonged, clanged, and beeped

Until every first minute it bonged loud and deep.

Every last guest would pause in confusion

And shudder when thinking about their seclusion.

Until the bongs faded, sound out of sight

And the guests could forget about the red blight.

Midnight came to the party and the clock clanged and bonged.

Its peal an odd but still musical sound.

The music, it ceased, as the crowd stopped to think.

One by one they all noticed a new guest and did shrink.

A tall spectre in the form of a corpse none could miss.

Tattered robes hung in streamers from a form most amiss.

The Prince froze in fear and revulsion and bellowed,

"Who dares wear the mask of the Red Death? What fellow?"

The figure deliberately paced his neat gait

As he walked past the Prince at a stately, proud rate.

The guest strode through all chambers, each of its color

Unchallenged by guests who held one another.

He walked through the blue then the purple then green…

Then orange, then white - so starkly pristine -

Then violet like twilight and finally black

Before the Prince cried out and tried to attack.

A dagger gleamed brightly but before it could land,

The wraith whirled about and reached out for his hand.

The knife fell to the carpet with barely a thud

The Prince collapsed with a face the color of blood.

For many minutes all stood - still as a stick.

As the ebony clock ticked out all its ticks.

Over gurgles and burbles until silence reigned

Just the clicking of time drawing out all their pain.

One by one they admitted the Red Death had arrived

To take them despite the protection contrived.

And they fell to the floor and they gasped and they wheezed

Why, one of the guests, why he even sneezed!

But each gave in to Death's invitation at last

Each wearing the mark of the Red Death as they passed.

And the ebony clock in the corner conspired

As it gonged and it bonged each guest's final hour.

Until even that marker of present and past

With a final soft peal, stopped ticking at last.