The Day of Black Fire

It was August 24, AD 79, when my town of Pompeii was completely obliterated after the massive shadow mountain of Vesuvius erupted. This is my story.

I was merrily travelling the marketplace when a small tremor shook the earth. It knocked a few dates off of the fruit vendor's counter, but no one paid any heed to the warning from the earth. We'd had many small tremors before.

After buying a dozen dates for my father's tavern, I walked down the main street to the house where I lived. I delivered the dates, and then asked my mother if I could go out and see the outcome of the festivities at the amphitheatre. A gladiator battle had gone on a few hours earlier between a man armed with a sword and full armour and a man with nothing more than a trident and a fishing net. My guess was that the armoured gladiator had won. The graffiti on the city's walls had been advertising this battle for a few days. How could a man robed only in a cloth beat a man with a shield and shin braces? It was not possible.

As I soon found out, it was possible. My friend Shana, who liked the battles plenty more than I did, informed me of the armoured man's fate when I arrived at the awe-filled amphitheatre. The net man was speedy and sly, she said, and had netted the armour man in a few seconds. After getting a thumbs-down from the excited spectators, the armoured man's fate was only too clear. The matter was over within a minute.

I shuddered in horror. This was not my idea of fun and excitement. The slaves were already clearing the bloody sand on the floor of the amphitheatre and replacing it with new sand. I pulled Shana away and didn't speak all of the way back to my father's tavern.

That was when I noticed the small grains of pumice falling into my hair like rain, and the huge shadowy cloud that had now enveloped the grand Vesuvius. The pumice was choking me, partially blinding me, and falling faster and faster. I grabbed Shana's hand and quickly found my father.

"Father, father!" I screamed, covering my mouth with the front of my robe. "We must leave!"

But my father didn't see the trouble, never mind the wildly scared look in Shana's eyes. Shana looked like a trapped horse. My father just told me to go to my room and wait the storm out. But I would not, and, judging by the look in Shana's eyes, she wouldn't either. Making sure my father did not see me, I dashed into my room and grabbed my only story and my precious bronze necklace that my parents had given to me from my last birthday. Then, escaping through the ash-covered sunroom, I departed, taking Shana with me.

As I neared the city's exit, choking and coughing and carrying my precious items, I wasted one look behind me. All I could see was a nearby building collapsing and a wall of black smoke. I continued running, Shana beside me, away from all that I loved, all that I knew, the only home I had ever known. It was all covered in black. Then I looked back again, and my city was gone in a cloud of ashy smoke.

Years later, I would tell of my escaping to others. But the once glorious city of Pompeii was lost, and no one would find it again for another two thousand years.