Chapter 22:

The Mosh Pit

Purple Prose

“Issei…Issei wake up.”

A finger prodded his cheek, and his head lolled to the other side.

“Come on, our stop is here!”

His eyes shot open as Issei awoke with a start, believing he was riding a massive earthquake beneath him, but instead Murasaki was shaking him.

She giggled, her hands still on his shoulder. “I thought I had to be the one woken up. Let’s go!”

Yawning, Issei shambled to his feet, his eyes feeling worse than before. Feeling her hand take his, she led him down the aisle and out of the train before stepping into blinding light.

“So that’s what you look like when you’re asleep.”

Issei scratched his head. “Do I sleep weird?”

“Maybe it’s because you were leaning back, but…” She sputtered as she laughed behind her hands. “Your mouth was wide open! You must have been dead tired.”

His lips barely moved. “Dead tired, I still am.”

“Alright, let’s get some caffeine in you, Mister.”

Columns of people filed up and down the street as Hagane Ono Fest was in full swing, the delicious smell of oil and butter filling the air. Like most festivals, food stands and carts were set up in rows, chefs bellowing advertisements whenever anyone approached.

“Ah. Perfect.”

Issei languidly walked wherever the crowd went until Murasaki pulled his arm to the right.

“Welcome Miss!”

“Hi! This man needs caffeine pronto–one large and one medium boba tea please.”

Issei blinked as, moments later, Murasaki had placed something cold in his hand, then, when he slurped from the straw, a rush of cold, sweet brown sugar plunged into his stomach. Not only that, but the drink had somehow revived the feeling in his eyes.

“What did you get me?” Issei asked, peering at the black beads collecting at the bottom of the cup.

Murasaki recoiled, her eyes bulging. “Oh my God–you don’t know what boba tea is? It’s amazing, isn’t it? It’s sweet and has caffeine to wake you up.”

Issei took another swig, and a large bead of what he now knew was tapioca had flown through the straw and dived down his windpipe. He gasped for air, but only choking noises came out as he doubled over.

“My–girlfriend is–trying to kill me.”

Murasaki laughed, patting his back as he coughed with no end in sight. “Don’t shove the straw through the bottom then! Drink from the top.”

His struggle over, and taking her advice, Issei made sure the straw was nowhere near the devilish little bastards before taking a drink. Soon his energy returned, and even the scenery was less fuzzy. 

A cluster of people flowed into a bottleneck like a river, and they had no choice but to follow the stream. Murasaki stood up on her toes, her head waving about trying to find the end. “I can’t see–where are we going?”

Issei, who was taller, saw the river of people being corralled to a wide expanse of more people, all facing one direction: the stage.

He grinned. “The concert awaits–the crowd is going to be dense, so hold my hand tight, alright?”

Murasaki took his arm. “Okay. I’ll hold on really tight.”

A single gate attendant and security guard were all who stood in their way, and if the crowd were rebellious, they could easily be bulldozed through. They paid their tickets, though, and continued filing up towards the mass of people.

It didn’t take long for the air to be stifling: they were nearly packed in like sardines, and being surrounded by people made it incredibly humid. All Issei could smell was dirt and sweat, and he couldn’t hear himself think with the constant noise surrounding him.

“Hang on.”

Murasaki let go of his hand, causing him to turn his head–she was unbuttoning her pea coat. She tugged on the sleeves and unwrapped herself, revealing the Catalot shirt she had bought last week. Now she looked like a standard concert goer. Murasaki tried tying the pea coat around her waist, but Issei took hold.

“Here, tie it around me–that way it won’t get dirty.”

“Oh, thanks.”

She said that, but as she tied the sleeves around his middle, her lips were down-turned as if jealous that the coat got to hug him.

A thundering of bass drum sounded out like a war call, and Issei’s ears were assaulted as the crowd screamed in joy. Four black-clad figures wearing doll-white makeup joined the drummer on-stage: two guitarists, a bass, and vocalist. The drummer raised his fists, and as he pounded down, the three instruments strummed with the intensity of cannon fire. Issei’s insides were battered by the sheer force of sound, a maelstrom of waves vibrating through the empty cavities of his chest. Murasaki’s eyes widened, and she watched as the hairs on her arm stood on end.

Something wasn’t right–rather, something Issei should have expected in a music festival that he did not prepare for–and he only realized his grave mistake when the guitars continued strumming power chords. The vocalist took his arms and made a pushing motion to each side. As if he were parting a sea, Issei felt temporary relief from the stifling air, but only because the vocalist actually was parting a sea: an ocean of people.

Issei and Murasaki then were two of only a dozen isolated people in an ever-widening chasm of a crowd about to spring back.

“Oh shit.”

This was a Death Metal band.

Issei pulled her close. “Murasaki, we need to move right now.”

“Why–oh, okay.” Seeing his worried face, she relented, keeping closely behind Issei as they pushed through an already-saturated wall. Murasaki of course had no idea what was about to happen–she knew what Thrash Metal was just two days ago–so there was no way she didn’t know about Death Metal.

Another strum. The bass picked up.

“Stay behind me and don’t let go, okay?”

“Okay, but what’s going on?”

It was too late, and they didn’t get far enough: all at once, the vocalist bellowed to the drummer’s blast beats and raking guitars, and Issei stood fast against a horde of marauders who were called to war. Just like a war, all he could hear was the roaring blood lust of the crowd who were seconds from smashing into each other. Murasaki shrieked in fear as a wall of flesh rushed past and against him, and though Issei liked to believe he was strong, one body forced to run by another was still enough to challenge his balance. Colors blurred on both sides, but Murasaki still held on.

Then the center of the battle–the chasm they were moments from getting swept into–had spiraled back, and despite Issei’s best efforts to rush to the outside edge, a second wave of flesh came their way.

Issei’s back felt empty and he heard Murasaki cry out–he spun around and watched as Murasaki’s legs flew up before falling onto the ground.


At once, Issei knelt down, helped Murasaki to her feet, then pulled her close. Luckily, the crowd saw what happened and, knowing the rules, avoided them.

“Are you okay?” He asked.

Murasaki held her head as if it was spinning. “I think so.”

“We’re almost to the top exit. Grab on.”


Issei took her arms and knelt down, then he hoisted Murasaki onto his back, feeling her weight sink into him. After she wrapped her arms around his neck, he trotted for the upper left exit.

The Death Metal gig blasted on without them, the volume immensely subdued as Issei found a nearby bench, then he allowed Murasaki to climb down while they took a breather. He tensed up: he should have known which bands would get extreme, then warned her when they were next on stage. What kind of boyfriend lets her get broadsided to the ground?

She sighed. “What in the world was that?”

“So…that was Death Metal, and we were about to be in the middle of a mosh pit.”

Issei thought for sure the mood was ruined–she fell down for crying out loud–but he watched in amazement as Murasaki threw her head back and laughed.

“That surprised me! I landed right on my butt!”

He gulped. “Are you sure you didn’t get hurt anywhere?”

She looked herself over, then gave a firm pat on her backside. “I don’t think so–but I might not know until later.”

Maybe their date wasn't dashed to the stones. 

Issei breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m glad you’re not hurt.”

Murasaki kept giggling. “Aww relax, it was kinda fun, and the sound was great. I didn’t know something like that existed! People just throwing themselves at each other? Isn’t that dangerous? I wonder why they do that. What if they get trampled on?”

“It is odd, isn’t it? But it turns out there are rules for mosh pits.”

 Murasaki watched him explain. “Usually, only those in the vicinity of the mosh pit are allowed to be rushed. And even if people willingly enter it, if they ever fall down–like in your case–people must help you up or avoid you so you can recover. They’re not written rules, but Metal fans abide by them.”

Murasaki’s mouth hung in surprise. “That’s incredible–but why do mosh pits even exist?”

Issei smiled. “Well, I like to think because people need to air out their frustrations. Whatever is eating at them, it helps to let loose, and it feels good to help people too.”

He looked at his feet. “That’s why I think Metal fans are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met–they know what it’s like to be admonished, or looked at with contempt. So in a way, everyone getting wild together and picking them up when they fall gives a feeling of brother and sisterhood.”

Murasaki squeezed his hand. “So you feel a connection with them. I see. Do you want to go back in?”

He squeezed back, gazing into her eyes. “I’d love to, but...maybe it’s best to wait for the next acts.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right–I might actually get a bruise if I fall down again.”

Issei laughed with her, and it was like a ton of brick had been lifted off his back.