Pompeii - Inspired By A Song

This is part of the Inspired by a song competition, based on Pompeii by Bastille.
Some key lyrics:
Eh-eh-o eh-o [4x],

I was left to my own devices,
Many days fell away with nothing to show,

And the walls kept tumbling down,
In the city that we love,
Grey clouds roll over the hills,
Bringing darkness from above,

But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like,
Nothing changed at all?
And if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like,
You've been here before?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?

Eh-eh-o eh-o [4x],

Oh where do we begin?
The rubble or our sins?
Oh where do we begin?
The rubble or our sins?


2. Eruption


It was early afternoon when the sky turned black, unexpectedly, as heat of summer blazed down onto the city. In the past few days a thin column of smoke had drifted into the sky, an omen. A bad omen. Wizened old men shouted with triumph, physicians sold “medicines” to protect the population and the whole city looked up in curiosity at the mountain.

Now, however, it was coughing ash and black pieces of rock, hurtling them into the sky. Clouds laden with smoke hung over Pompeii until it was as gloomy as dusk. My throat was tight with fear as I watched the gradually blackening sky.

“Uncle, please we have to leave!” I shouted hysterically, but the man would not budge. He protested that this sort of thing happened a lot, it meant nothing!

Of course it meant something. Up and down the streets people were staring at the spectacle, screaming or laughing.

“EVACUATE! LEAVE THE WRATH!” The man I had met on the street was standing on a rickety cart. 

Many were dubious and one woman muttered to her husband, “I’m not leaving until the streets are on fire,this is my home!”

Grey clouds rolled over the hills, bringing darkness from above; the ash started to rain down onto the sides of Vesuvius. I remembered the villages that lay nearer it and felt a sickening feeling in my stomach. Turning around, I tugged pathetically at my aunt’s arm. “The... it’s getting closer we have to leave, we have to go, the city we love will be destroyed!”

“It’s probably nothing, we’re too far away...” she started but I looked into her eyes and spoke.

“What if it isn’t?”

Despite the fact I barely had any possessions, it seemed to take hours to gather them. We packed up all of the gold and silk until the servants were laden and I could barely feel my hands.

“Where are we going?” My voice was scratchy and slightly shaky. What I really meant was: How are we escaping? By this stage the smoke had travelled near and tiny bits pumice that smelt like foul eggs were starting to occasionally land in the streets. Huge crowds of people were panicking and attempting to leave as quickly as possible.

“Boat. You know I own one down the bay,” Uncle looked distracted as we pushed our way past the throng of people. An insufferable heat ran through the people as the hot ash blew down onto the land nearer the mountain, blanketing it with ash. We shoved and dived through people until we reached a small boat, just big enough.

“Thank the gods it hasn’t been taken!” My aunt sounded relieved as we all climbed into it, the side rocking as we stepped onto the water. As all the family got on, I noticed many standing at the edge of the water, scrabbling to leave the doomed streets.

“Atticus! Can’t we go any faster?” My uncle sounded desperate as Atticus rowed on to the churning water. I gazed down at the shadow on the water and I could see Vesuvius looming down at us whilst hot pieces of volcanic rock were catapulted near us. When we were further from the bay, bright light shone from the top of the mountain. It looked like liquid fire running down, hotter that the height of summer and more deadly than the smoke. Briefly, aunt’s face was illuminated.

“What will your family say? Will they believe us?” Home seemed miles away from here but the boat was making steady progress through the waves.

“Word of mouth travels fast. Faster than us. But can we travel faster than...?” Uncle trailed off and coughed from the ash, “They were already saying our houses will be destroyed and there will be refugee camps.”

“Our home?” Aunt raised a hand to her mouth, her face seeming more lined than usual. I felt terrible. For me, this was a terrifying experience. For them, they were leaving their town, home, lives and friends in this small boat.

“I grew up in that house you know,” Uncle seemed to read my thoughts.

Aunt leaned over and held my hand maternally, “It will be fine. When this all blows over we will stay with your family for a bit and then return to our undamaged home. It will be fine.”

A shuddering vibration ran through the air as glowing rock fell from the sky.

"It will be fine," She sounded less than sure. Hours passed and the heat stayed. As we struggled on, the dense cloud didn't move from the top of the mountain whilst rivers of fire ran down toward the city. As the scene grew further and further away, I relaxed and slept until morning.

The last thing I remembered before I drifted off was asking my uncle whether we would ever return.

"Of course we will. Whatever happens... we will come back."

The city that we love...

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