Mischa and Rupert, as per the mountain’s prophesy, had been traveling east for weeks, but they hadn’t encountered anybody since their meeting with the purple mountain, nor had they seen anything other than vast, empty desert.
“You know, Comrade, I am beginning to think that maybe that mountain gave us some bad information,” said Mischa.
“I said that yesterday,” grumbled Rupert as he kicked a rock out of his way. “Why don’t you ever say anything original?”
There was absolutely nothing around them; they were in the middle of a barren, inhospitable wasteland. The only living things they could see were vultures, and even those were lying supine on the ground, motionless and dead. Now that I think about it, I don’t think they can be considered living.
Rupert, who despite working for Mischa was clearly leading the expedition, decided to stop walking around noon, because the sun was getting far too hot for either of them to endure. In reality though, it was only too hot for Mischa to endure, because Rupert was inured to such hot conditions, having once survived in the middle of the Sahara without food or water for a month, during the course of which he developed quite a taste for tumbleweed. But that’s a story for another day.
They constructed a makeshift shelter out of sand and heat and were getting ready to relax, when all of a sudden, Mischa spotted something that seemed quite out of place: a gigantic purple mountain.
Yes, it was the same mountain they’d seen earlier. The two men were flabbergasted; after all, there are few things odder than a talking purple mountain, but if anything is, it’s a talking purple mountain that can travel vast distances instantaneously.
“Comrade, do you see what I see?” asked Mischa.
“I think I do, Mischa. I think I do,” answered Rupert. “Unless you have visual problems, in which case you probably see something different from what I see. But I’ll just assume your eyesight is decent...in spite of the rest of you.”
The two (well, just Rupert again…Mischa’s not much of a leader) decided to approach the mountain and ask it two things: what it was doing, and how it got there. Before they were halfway to it, however, the mountain spoke.
“I JUST REMEMBERED THAT I MEANT TO SAY WEST, NOT EAST. SORRY ABOUT THAT.”
And with that, the mountain vanished, leaving Mischa and Rupert feeling a mixture of extreme confusion and extreme annoyance. They ran up to it, nearly passing out from the exertion, searching every crevice, every crater, for some sign that the mountain had been there. They found nothing.
“Well, I guess we should start going west,” suggested Rupert, shaking his head as if to make sense of what had just occurred.
“Yes, that sounds good. Let us go!” agreed Mischa, and they set off once more…in the opposite direction.
Having traveled for so long, the next few weeks were spent retracing their earlier steps, and it was so boring that the men were almost driven to cannibalism just to break the monotony. Finally though, they reached the point where they’d first encountered the purple mountain, and sure enough, there it was, sitting alone (as mountains do) beside the valley.
“Hello Comrade,” called Mischa. “We have returned, just as you told us to!”
“WHAT DO YOU WANT?” spat the mountain. “I WAS WATCHING THAT’S SO RAVEN.”
“How is that even possible?” wondered Rupert. “You clearly don’t have a TV, and even if you did, there’s no conceivable way you’d get cable. I have a sneaking suspicion you’re lying – like a Communist.”
“I’M A TALKING PURPLE MOUNTAIN; I DON’T HAVE TO MAKE SENSE. SO WHY ARE YOU IDIOTS HERE?” retorted the mountain.
“You came to us in the desert and told us to come west!” said Mischa. “So we backtracked, and now we are here again.”
“NO, I DIDN’T DO THAT. YOU MUST HAVE SEEN A MIRAGE. OR MAYBE YOU’RE JUST INSANE. I DON’T KNOW. I DON’T REALLY CARE, EITHER. I MEAN, I’M A MOUNTAIN. WHY WOULD I?”
Mischa and Rupert looked at each other, mouths hanging wide open, for a long while. The year was moving onward and they still needed to find 99 more soldiers.
Not only had they wasted many weeks going backward, but now it looked as though they’d have to waste even more time just to get back to where they’d already been.
“Let’s just clone ourselves 99 times,” suggested Rupert.
“Good idea, Comrade.”