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Vesuvio!

A Story Every Day in 2024 April 18th 109/366

By Rachel DeemingPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 2 min read
12
Vesuvio!
Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash

I found this video to accompany my story. It might be a good thing, even for the soundtrack rather than the visual, to have on whilst reading to create an atmosphere:

The ground had been rumbling but the people of Pompeii had lived with these movements before and they had come to nothing. Some talked of the gods expressing their displeasure over something but in the bright skies of the Bay of Naples, life was good and no-one thought that their lives were in any mortal danger.

Cornelia had been walking with her daughter, Cassia, taking some fresh bread to her sister, Bellona, a few streets away.

The day was fine, full of promise. They would share a lunch together and talk before Cornelia and Cassia returned home and Cornelia was looking forward to discussing her husband's latest harebrained scheme with someone who shared her views.

Cassia was skipping beside her, dodging through other pedestrians, carts rumbling past, happily going about their business.

When the sky shattered with an explosion that spewed and caked, the noise was terrifying. Shrieks rose everywhere and eyes immediately moved to the great conical peak that dominated the horizon.

"Vesuvio!"

Cries went up and whilst some people stopped to look wondrously, others moved into action, propelling themselves to places of shelter or making their way home to their loved ones to form a plan of action.

Cassia rushed to her mother and said, "What is it, Mama?"

Cornelia didn't want to alarm her daughter but as the pumice started to rain down small silver marbles, intent on encasement and absorption, she merely picked her up and ran. The ground as she knew it was starting to disappear and it was so hot, scaldingly so.

It was torturous. Precious minutes passed and Cornelia made no headway in the panicked crowds. She thought of Bellona and getting to her but soon realised that this was not going to happen as ash drifted its white hot feathers to lightly burn her skin.

Fear and heat drove her into an open doorway. At least here, they would be sheltered. She held Cassia to her as she did when she was tiny, jiggling her and pressing her mouth to her ear to soothe.

She watched as the ash and pumice slowly rose in the doorway like a sealing shield and feared for her life.

***

366 words

They are still excavating Pompeii and continue to find the bodies of its residents after that fateful day. I watched a programme about it the other night and it is a story that continues to fascinate me.

I can recommend Robert Harris' book Pompeii as a great way to visualise the eruption and the effects it had on the people as it happened:

I have been to Pompeii and Herculaneum and it is eerie, the intactness of these places. I have also climbed Vesuvius which was bubbling and sulphurous on the day of my ascent. Amongst some of the saddest sarcophagi I have ever seen are the casts made of the bodies .

They say that Vesuvius is overdue another eruption.

Roman history is on my mind at the moment due to the amount of material on TV currently. If you liked this, you may like this story about Hadrian and his lover, Antinous:

Thanks for stopping by! If you do read this, please do leave a comment as I love to interact with my readers.

109/366

thrillerShort StoryPsychologicalMicrofictionLoveHorrorHistoricalfamilyCONTENT WARNINGClassicalAdventure
12

About the Creator

Rachel Deeming

Storyteller. Poet. Reviewer. Traveller.

I love to write. Check me out in the many places where I pop up:

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Comments (14)

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  • Donna Fox (HKB)2 months ago

    Wow, that sound track really added to the intensity of an already quite tense story!! Great work Rachel, I felt the terror and raw emotion of the MC in this story and am left an uneasy feeling of what might have happened after the narrative!

  • Flamance @ lit.2 months ago

    Brave work done

  • Shirley Belk2 months ago

    History became alive in your tale....loved the gentleness before the terror...

  • D.K. Shepard2 months ago

    A fascinating and tragic historical event. And you captured it so well in this piece! The characters were compelling which made it hard to read their story knowing their fate. What a horrific but well written end scene of inescapable demise.

  • Andrea Corwin 2 months ago

    And sealed in they were, tomb of lava and fate sealed!

  • C. Rommial Butler2 months ago

    Well-wrought! There's something too in the paradox of being frozen (in time) by the searing heat that you touched on well here, showcasing the tender, lost final moments of mother and daughter.

  • angela hepworth2 months ago

    Both fascinating and devastating! I’ve been there within the past few years and there was so much history imprinted everywhere.

  • Gerard DiLeo2 months ago

    The deathcasts there are relatable. People clutching others. Heartbreaking. And the people of Herculaneum suffered much more quickly, scalding air rolling down the mountain to fry their lungs, at 80-100 mph. Your only inaccuracy was their looking at the conical mountaintop: there was no cone--it blew off in the first cataclysm. Great tableaux you painted, Rachel.

  • John Cox2 months ago

    An ordinary day interrupted by incomprehensible terror. Hard to imagine but you captured the fear and chaos and impossibility of it all very well. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are so elemental. Your either in the right place and survive, or your not.

  • Teresa Renton2 months ago

    Fascinating! I’m always intrigued by uncovered worlds, something so surreal about them. Your story adds a further dimension 😊

  • Paul Stewart2 months ago

    It's such a strange place. We went there one of my many visits to the other motherland and it's like a purpose-made museum of life. Fascinating and terrifying, sad and intriguing all at once and yeah...of all the volcanoes that are still active...this is the one I think is most terrifying. You wrote this wonderfully...not over the top...got the tone perfect from what I've undersood of it. Well done. I'd love to do the volcano climb next time I'm there!

  • ROCK 2 months ago

    I, too was there in 2007. It was unbelievable and to know it could happen again is horrifying. Some workers let me in to see some new findings, drawings on a wall and seeing the mother holding her baby really got to me. There were way too many tourists but I am grateful to have seen it. Great coverage of a time in history that haunts us still.

  • I had no idea about this incident. It's so devastating 🥺

  • D. J. Reddall2 months ago

    To be entombed in ash for eternity...certainly worse than the call center.

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