Justin Bieber’s Not Dead

January stared down on to the slick city Paris streets from her third-story window. Her cat Felix purred and brushed his head against her arm, pleading for a suitable pat. She acquiesced and January leaned her forehead against the glass.

She wanted to walk to a cafe to write, but there was a hole in her left rain boot, and she didn’t want to have wet feet. So it was a stay at home kind of day.

January walked across the room and picked her computer off her desk, sat on her bed, and opened YouTube. She could put some music on and write at home. January preferred the hustle and bustle of the city. As an exchange student, she was trying to get the most of her experience. She was flying home in a month and wanted to get every moment in Paris that she could.

A recommended video showed a Justin Bieber song, a beloved singer to her much older sister, but to her, he was cheesy and shallow. But he had a mullet and was holding a saxophone for some reason, and it amused her, so she clicked it. The music swelled out of her surround sound speakers, and it confused her. She didn’t remember Justin Bieber being an 80s artist. She thought he was her sister’s age. Maybe he is doing some throwback thing, she thought. She glanced through the comments, as she always does, to see if people like the video or if they are mocking it. That’s when she noticed something very peculiar. Everyone was saying Justin Bieber died in 2004. They were saying things like, “My parent’s first dance was to this song. RIP Justin Bieber. Gone too soon. #cocainesucks.”

She laughed at first, but then all the comments seemed to echo that sentiment. As she wasn’t much of a pop culture fiend, she thought perhaps she had been mistaken, and her sister just liked an 80s artist.

She googled his name, and sure enough, it said he died in 2004. It baffled her as if he was her sister’s age, as she had always remembered, he would have been ten years old when he died. A ten-year-old using cocaine, absurd. She even remembered songs of his coming out over the years, which January had always happily ignored. She looked them up. They were all still there, tucked in and safe on the internet, but they were different. They were all 80s songs with comments saying RIP Justin Bieber.

This disturbed January. She googled his birthdate; it said 1962. January squinched up her nose and her cat, stepped with confidence onto her computer, purring while her tail whacked January in the face. January pushed the cat aside and stared at the screen in disbelief. 1962.

She googled “Justin Bieber” with her sister’s birth year “1994.” The top result was “Justin Bieber’s Not Dead.” She clicked on it, and it was a mediocre website with many pop-ups, but it claimed that Justin Bieber was still alive and was born in 1994 and that something had happened to the space-time continuum. He was alive and safe in a parallel universe, but here, he died. The author called it the Mandela Effect, people having distorted memories of things. It claimed that people’s memories were seeping through the cracks of the space-time continuum, that people could remember another Bieber, one that didn’t die from drugs and was born in 1994, not 1962.

January closed her computer. People are idiots, she thought. She’d been distracted and wanted to write. But now, maybe she’d risk getting her feet wet. Too much strangeness for one afternoon. She wanted to be around people. She put her boots and raincoat on and shoved her laptop into her bag.

“Felix, I’m leaving,” she said, hoping the fat cat would leap and bound over to her for a proper pat on the head. But Felix didn’t come. She looked under her desk and her bed. There was no Felix to be found. She tilted her head in bewilderment as she gave her apartment one last glance. Now she wasn’t certain she even owned a cat.

She strode out the door into the stormy streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Author’s Note: This story was inspired by the hilarious comments section of this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApLk3SLgofs. I sent this video to my cousin and I said it would be funny if it was a Mandela Effect. He said that would be a funny story but he doubted anyone would write it. Well, Andrew, here it is.