An historical fiction about Pompeii.
| Black ash spewed out of the mountain and blotted out the sun. Pompeii was plunged into darkness when it should have been sunny. The ground shook. People ran and screamed as lava began to cascade down the mountain. It flowed over the grand city, freezing people in their tracks. The red hot lava engulfed the whole town until the last baby’s screams and mother’s tear were silenced. Pompeii was gone. All that was left was darkness and a deafening silence.
Vito startled awake from his vision, dread and foreboding spread through him. A date popped up in his mind like an afterthought; August 24.
“Two days.” He thought. “I have two days to warn and evacuate the city. Two days before Vesuvius explodes.”
The sun was just rising as Vito ran out of his house. As early as it was, Pompeii was already bustling.
Vito sprinted to his father’s stand, which was closer to the mountain that towered over the city than others. His father’s stand was one of the larger merchant stands in the city.
Vito’s father made and sold pottery, and Vito’s older sister- by a year- painted the clay before it was sold. His sister’s name was Aria, and her artistic talent combined with her long brown hair and deep green eyes, attracted many young men to the stand-not to buy pottery, but to browse the stand, straining to catch a glimpse of her working; tongue stuck out in concentration.
Vito skidded to a halt in front of the stand, and called for his father. His father emerged out from behind the curtain separating the work room from the actual stand. The look on Vito’s face quickly alerted him to the fact that something was wrong.
“Another vision?” Mr. Maurizio Kominsiki asked his son, grey eyes filling with concern. He ran his hand through his black hair, which was beginning to turn grey. Vito immediately nodded “yes,” and Mr. Kominsiki motioned for his son to follow him back into the workroom of the shop.
Vito walked briskly around the edge of the stand, and joined his father in front of the breezy white curtain separating them form the workroom. Vito’s father turned and walked through the curtain, and Vito trailed after him. When Vito walked into the room, he instantly caught sight of his sister, who was working on painting tiny delicate flowers on a small clay vase.
Vito greeted Aria, and when she looked up, his father addressed her and told her of Vito’s situation. When she heard, she gasped and dropped the paint brush, which splattered a small amount of paint on the table and the intricate design on the vase.
Vito’s father and sister sat down on one side of the work bench, and Vito, himself, sat down on the other side, so he was sitting opposite his family. He took a deep breath and prepared himself to recite his vision-talking to his mother had been so much easier. She had shared Vito’s gift. When she fell sick, near the end of her life, Vito had a vision of her death. When he came to his mother crying, she simply smiled and told him not to worry. Vito knew she had the vision too, he could see it in her eyes. The next day, however, she passed away.
Vito’s sister’s green gaze brought Vito back to the present and their looming fortune. As he explained his vision- not leaving a detail out-, he watched his family members’ expressions change to horror. Aria’s eyes began to fill with tears. They had never been able to stop one of his visions from coming true.
Since a young age, Vito had been able to see the future. Even though he wasn’t quite able to control his power, or gift, as his mother preferred to call it, the more important things were still shown to him without him attempting to tap into his power.
His family had told him not to reveal his gift to anyone outside of the family. His mother had given him the information he needed about his power, and then she passed away when he was six years old.
However, Vito knew now that he would have to tell the whole town about his power in order to get them evacuated before the seemingly calm mountain exploded. He suspected his father also realized this, and that was why he kept running his hand through his hair. Vito knew he only did that when he was nervous.
Mr. Kominsiki was the first to speak and break the silence that fell after Vito’s speech. “What should we do now?” he posed the question that the whole family was wondering.
“I think we should tell the town.” Vito said, hesitantly. Tears began to slip down Aria’s face. Vito’s father put an arm around her in an attempt to comfort her.
It was then that Aria decided to pitch into the conversation. “What if they don’t believe us?” she questioned, “They could all die!” she leaned on Mr. Kominsiki as a new wave of tears shook her body.
As Mr. Kominsiki patted Aria’s back, he spoke aloud again. “We’ll just have to take a chance here. We have to at least try to save our city.” He reasoned.
“And if they don’t believe us?” Vito questioned.
“We will deal with that when the time comes, Vito.” Maurizio addressed his son. “But if that happens, at least we can say we tried to warn them.” He finished solemnly. After his father finished speaking, Vito promptly stood up from the table and crossed the room. He stuck his head out of the curtain leading to the outside of the stand and looked up at the sky.
As he walked back to his family, he declared his opinion on the situation. “We better get started then. The sun has nearly reached the middle of the sky.” At this remark, Mr. Kominsiki and Aria, who were still seated at the table, arose. Aria was still wiping the last of her tears from he green eyes and Mr. Kominsiki was still attempting to comfort her. Aria quickly put her painting tools away while her father hastily cleared up the rest of the shop, preparing it to be closed down for the rest of the day. Vito simply stood out of the way in a corner of the shop, pondering what-and how-to tell the town about his vision.
At last, the shop was clean and ready to be closed. Vito still hadn’t found a suitable explanation to give to the townspeople yet. Dread and nervousness began to fill his emotional range as he, and his family, stepped out of the dim shop, and into the bright sunlight. Vito blinked a couple of times, and his eyes got used to the blinding light eventually.
All three family members exited the stand by means of the gate located at the side of the stand. Then they set off down the cobbled road leading to the town’s center.
It took about twenty minutes for them to reach the town’s center. This was due to the masses of people packed into the street. The family had to dodge merchants and consumers alike.
Vito never realized this many townspeople came to the market and made purchases everyday. This was due to the fact that he spent most of his time alone in the family home, brooding.
When the family finally reached their destination, the sun was quite a bit past the mid-day mark in the sky.
Vito’s father led the way over to the fountain located in the middle of the plaza. Vito an Aria trailed after him.
Mr. Kominsiki hopped up onto the fountain’s edge, took a deep breath to steady himself, and called the attention of the bustling crowd of people in the town’s center.
“Attention. Please give me your attention.” He called from his perch. The noise of the market swallowed his words up as soon as they had left his lips. But, lucky for the, Kominsikis, Aria was very popular, and some of her friends-Isabel, Arabela, and Cascata- just happened to be in the market. They strolled over to her, and were followed by some young men Vito didn’t recognize that were hoping to talk to Aria.
A small crowd soon formed around her, but when they caught sight of the look on her face, and asked her what was wrong, she simply pointed to her father, who was still begging for attention from the fountain. Aria told them to listen, and they did.
The group around Aria got bigger as more people stopped, noticed and joined the growing congregation around Aria and the fountain. Soon, the loud cacophony of the market was no more than a faint din.
With a nod from his father, Vito climbed up onto the fountain next to him. Vito turned and faced the people in front of him, addressing them at the same time:
“People of Pompeii. I have some….grim news.” Vito took a breath to keep himself from faltering while he was speaking, then continued. “Our mountain,” he raised his arm to point at Vesuvius, “is going to explode.” Gasps came from the crowd at this point.
“How do you know?” a villager, Feleti, the fruit seller, spoke up. “Have the gods been communicating with you personally?” he questioned. Vito then shot a quick glance at his father, who nodded his encouragement to his son. Vito then looked back out at the crowd gathered before him and began his story-the story of his vision, his gift and his life.
When Vito was finished, there was a complete silence from the crowd. Then, somebody started to laugh. And the other townspeople, unsure of what to do, joined in. Soon, the entire gathering-except for a select few-were laughing at the Kominsiki family.
Mr. Kominsiki quickly leaped off of the edge of the fountain and pulled Vito with him. They ran over to where Aria was standing stony-faced in the middle of her group of friends. Her friends were some of the only few not laughing.
Vito pulled Aria out of the middle of the cluster, and Aria came to her senses. All three sprinted out of the plaza and back to their house, which was located about a half a mile from the city’s gate that surrounded and protected the city.
The family stopped just in front of their house, when they heard cries of wait” coming from direction of the market where they had just been. As the calls became closer, Mr. Kominsiki stepped in front of his children in an attempt to protect them from the unknown.
Footsteps grew closer, and Aria’s three friends came into sight. They were followed by four or five young men. Two young couples- one of them with a small child- and then, at the back, an elderly couple following along, the man limping at his fastest pace.
Mr. Kominsiki relaxed, and stepped out from the defensive position in front of his children. The group slowed down once they realized they had the family’s attention.
The miss-matched group skidded to halt in front of then Kominsikis and their home.
“We believe you.” Isabel spoke aloud for the group. “We want to leave the city with you. Everyone one here does. We all think we should form a plan of action.”
The Kominsikis stood there, flabbergasted. They hadn’t expected this; not after the scene that had just occurred in the middle of the town.
Then, Mr. Kominsiki broke the silence by saying “Thank you for your confidence in us. We need some family time to think first, though. We will meet back here, just after sunrise tomorrow.” He declared, looking coolly and making eye contact with the group in front of him.
The assembled people in front of him all nodded “yes” in acknowledgement and then promptly disbanded. Mr. Kominsiki turned and walked to the front entrance of his medium sized home. Vito and Aria followed, still speechless by the events of the day and deep in their own thoughts.
When they got inside, Aria set up a place to sleep in her brother and father’s room. Neither Vito or his father made any objections- the family didn’t feel much like being to far apart right now- they wanted to stick together for comfort.
None of the family was hungry that night, so they all ended up going to bed just as the sun was setting. As darkness fell into the room, Aria quickly fell asleep. Vito, however, did not. He rolled over and whispered cautiously to his father. “What are we going to do, dad?”
“I don’t know.” Mr. Kominsiki replied, rolling over to face his son. “I just don’t know. But I do know you are gong to need your sleep for the next to days that are coming. Goodnight son.” Mr. Kominsiki rolled back over, ending their already brief conversation.
Vito sighed. He was at a loss. But he knew his father was right. Soon, he was lulled by his complicated thoughts into a dank, dreamless sleep.
The next morning, the Kominsikis were all up just before the sun rose. Aria left quickly to retrieve some things from the pottery shop, because they obviously weren’t going back there anytime soon.
By the time Aria arrived back at the Kominsiki home, carrying a paint kit, a small pot, and a lump of untouched clay, a few of the members of the group from yesterday were beginning to arrive. Aria led them inside and showed the few that had arrived- Isabel, Arabela, and the young couple without the baby- to the traditional style main room of the house.
When they walked into the room, Mr. Kominsiki, who was standing in the room simply thinking, greeted them. There was a knock on the door, and Vito appeared out of the bedroom the Kominsiki family all slept in last night, and crossed through the main room to get to the door.
When Vito got to the door, the other members of yesterday’s group had arrived at the home. Vito held the door open as the four young men, Cascata, the young couple with their baby, and at the back of the group, again, the elderly couple trailed through the door and found their own way into the main room of the house. Vito closed the door and then proceeded to follow the group into the room where they others were sitting.
When everybody from the previous day was in the main room and settled, Mr. Kominsiki spoke up. “Now that we are all here, what do we do?” He posed a good question, which left the others silent with thought.
Finally, the elderly man spoke aloud, and proposed that they should leave the town early tomorrow morning. The others agreed with him and made plans to go back to their individual houses and pack up any valuables- sentimental or otherwise- that they wanted to take with them when they left town. The mismatched group decided to meet back at the Kominsiki residence just before sundown with all of the things they needed. They would spend the night at that house, and get up before sundown to leave Pompeii.
When the group had finally dispersed, Aria set about making food for the next few days- just some rice, olives, and a modest lump of cheese or two. Vito began to set up sleeping places for the guests that night. The women and the baby were to sleep in Aria’s room, and the men were going to sleep in Vito and Mr. Kominsiki’s room. While the children were setting about their tasks, Mr. Kominsiki was wandering about the house, packing necessities and valuables to take with them. He gazed sadly at a picture of his wife before carefully placing it in a hand-made rucksack.
The rest of that day just dragged on for the family, until the cluster of people began to rematerialize at the Kominsiki residence. Aria welcomed them in and showed them where to put their things and where they would be sleeping for that night. It turns out that the rest of the group had brought small knapsacks of food with them, though none of them really felt like eating that night. They all just solemnly sat around and thought to themselves.
When the sun began to set, the whole group went outside to watch the last sunset that they might ever see within the great city of Pompeii. Then, when the darkness of night had cascaded over the town, the assembly went back inside the home to get ready for bed and to sleep. They had a long day ahead of them.
Early the next morning, long before the sun had risen, the rumblings began. The trembles roused the whole city from their slumber, but the only people who took really notice of it were the ones staying in the Kominsiki household.
Every person resting at the Kominsiki house had been awakened, so they all just thought it better to go ahead and get up. The women went to the kitchen and finished packing food, while the men packed up last minute supplies. The whole group was silent throughout the morning’s chores, and all they ate was a small piece of bread each.
As the sun began to rise, the assembly went outside to watch the last sunrise they might ever gaze upon in the streets of Pompeii. Tears began to slip down Aria’s face and her friends came over to her and hugged her before reentering the home. Vito and Aria were the last to enter their house.
The set gathered once more in the living room and picked up the things each one had brought with them. They had decided to walk to a hill, a good three or four miles away from the gates of Pompeii. They had reasoned as a whole that they needed to get far away to higher ground.
Some of the girls shed tears as they walked through the gates of the city, treasures from their life stowed in a rucksack. And then, the day passed slowly like that- silent tears, tired feet and depressing trembles from the location of the city.
It was about noon when the seriousness of the event set in. The trembling became rumblings, and the rumblings became massive quakes. Vesuvius began to smoke and ash immediately began to fill the sky, turning the warm, bright day into cold darkness.
The group began to run. They were nearly at the mountain. Adrenaline kept them all going, even the elderly couple. The last straggler had just reached the top of the hill when all hell broke loose. The mountain blew its top. Lava cascaded down the mountain and over the city. Screams were heard from the city. The group assembled on the hill all looked on in disbelief as their city disappeared.
Aria hugged Vito, and her tears soaked though his clothes. Vito held his sister and watched incredulously as everything he had known was taken away from him in a matter of seconds. Silent tears began to roll down his cheeks. “Goodbye.” he thought to himself. “Goodbye, my Pompeii.”