The short story "The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe tells of a horrific plague known as the Red Death that ravages a certain country. To protect himself, Prince Prospero abandons his fellow countrymen and locks himself away in a fortified castle with one thousand of his friends. They are well-provisioned, and they hope to enjoy parties and revelry while the plague decimates the people on the outside.
The castle has an imperial suite in which, after five or six months of isolation, a magnificent party is held. The suite has seven rooms, separated from one another so that people can only see one room at a time. Each room has stained glass windows of a particular color, and tripods in the corridors provide light that suffuses the room with that color. First is blue, then purple, green, orange, white, and violet. The last room is hung throughout with black velvet tapestries, and the windows are deep scarlet red, the color of blood and of the plague, as if symbolizing the final step of death. In the seventh room, there is also a huge clock that strikes each hour. That last room is so fearful that few people have the courage to enter it, and as the party progresses, the room becomes empty.
When the figure of the Red Death joins the revelries, Prince Prospero is in the blue room. This is because he is a coward. Just as he chose to shut himself off from his countrymen rather than make an attempt to help them during this devastating plague, so during the party he stays as far away as possible from the terrifying seventh room, with its black velvet hangings and blood-red lighting.
However, as is evident when the ghastly visitor shows up, Prince Prospero cannot escape his own terror any more than he can get away from the plague that has afflicted his countrymen. At midnight, the apparition of the Red Death finds Prince Prospero in the blue room. It then proceeds from room to room, passing close to everyone and infecting them. Prospero pursues it with a drawn dagger, but when he reaches the seventh scarlet-tinged chamber, he falls down dead. The partygoers assault the apparition and rip it apart but find no person inside. The Red Death infects everyone: they die, and the party ends.