A Story Of Two Pompeii Lovers
A Mount Vesuvius explosion, a french bistro, the Messiah's return, and more climactic events.
By Ruby Thelot
The End Times is a column cataloguing the omens of the Apocalypse as they occur in culture.
A million Cassandra’s could not convince me to leave without seeing you. I extended my stay one more night, there were lots of logistics involved: chartering another chariot, dealing with the incessant questions of clerks, sending a hurried letter to my family in the capital to inform them of my delay, but I made it work.
When I mentioned I was looking for an inn, you replied that you had room to spare in your villa; your interiors were beautiful, recently repaired, the frescoes’ vivid stories always stirred my imagination, I spent countless hours perusing the horror-ridden face of Iphigenia being dragged to her death in Aulis, Euripides’ verses would echo through my head as I stood transfixed, my eyes would glide over to the purple Clytemnestra hidden under her a veil of shame. Who leads their loved one to death? I crossed the plaza animated by scores of people eating and drinking.
The clement October weather made it the perfect day to be outside, it was around 1 pm. You met me at the edge. Is there a more wondrous sight than that of a friend? The lively merriment of the city streets was interrupted by the thunderous sound of an explosion, a column of smoke appeared from afar, ejaculating from Mount Vesuvius.
We ran towards your house for cover, it reminded me of races in our school-days, competing against one another to see who was the fastest, the sky began to lose its blue to a somber ash, pumice fell from above, covering your arms and shoulders, I brushed them off with my hand. We reached your house and ducked under a stone table waiting for the precipitation to subside.
We heard screams all around, officials warning all to take cover. A sound like the roar of spinning wheels during a race became increasingly louder, I drew you near me, the sound brought with it an intense heat, stones were falling all around us, thumping on the stone roof, the sound was a grey and amorphous blob, a large cloud radiating with heat, it made its way through the front door. Arms and eyes locked, we awaited the arrival of the cloud, holding still in our embrace.
On December 21, 2012, I sat on your bedroom carpet memorizing the lyrics to Fiona Apple’s Werewolf; in lieu of a national ceremony with scarlet bagpipes, large shiny tubas, and heavenly trumpets, I was building my own playlist for the End. We planned a stroll on the beach away from your family; the lake’s hibernal waters glimmered with the gibbous moon’s impressionist reflections; I sat down to pull my boots on, your mother thought that was funny, something comical seeing a man struggle physically while wearing a bubble-like down parka, circles are the funniest shape; I wondered why she didn’t have a shoehorn nearby and why my foot’s arch was so high, these are all things I thought on December 12, 2012.
We walked down towards the beaches. I skipped a flattened dark grey stone on the once still surface of the lake, I stared at every ripple until the stone disappeared suddenly, then I looked at you. We were holding hands because it was cold. I could feel your warmth through your glove. You took it off. There was quiet before the End. We sat on a bench, intertwined, as a dark grey stone the size of the city made its entry in the water, creating ripples the height of skyscrapers in the once still surface of the lake, I could hear your mother screaming from far, I held your hand tighter.
In October 2017, we went to the park together, on the last day of Indian Summer, the liminal season which occurs in our part of the Americas, the leaves turn bright ruby red and fade into hues of orange, yellow and brown, before falling to the ground. My favorite pastime during those days, is stepping on the fallen autumn leaves, each stride emits a large crunch, and I feel like I am witnessing the end of something big. You were talking about the new exhibition at the nearby museum, a series of paintings depicting wars and the interventions of gods in our world.
I asked you to take me. Resting on the prickly grass, scrolling through our digital feeds, barely speaking, the sun suddenly dimmed, I welcomed the shade and its accompanying breeze, it felt good, like jumping in the municipal pool right before getting a sunburn, perfectly timed relief. The shade settled into a permanent darkness; it was happening again. A shape redder than a Burmese blood stone slowly entered the frame, its edges were made of pure ardent fire, my eyes dried up, I was suddenly blinded, I moved my hand iteratively until I found yours a few tries later, I crawled closer to you. It was the great Nibiru. Car horns and yells coalesced into the national ceremony I never got, sirens played the melody, a million footsteps overhead boomed like percussions. A final symphony.
In May 2239, we had dinner at a French bistro. Small tables, metal chairs, waiters running around, bottles of wine lining the wall, it doesn’t take much to make me feel like I am in Paris again. We ordered a bottle of red which I sipped as we caught up; 222 years later, 6000 years after the creation of Adam, we are still together. I wondered what you’d be doing the next 1000 years; you had so many plans: a version of Lord of the Rings set in the suburbs, a cabin made out of moonstones, a new memoir about life in the 20th century.
I heard the vibration of a phone from afar, others soon followed, more music for the end times; whispers undulated and reverberated through the small restaurant. You were looking at your phone and I asked you what was happening. Halfway through a bite of your steak frites, you told me calmly that the Messiah had returned. I paused for a second, called the waiter and ordered another bottle of wine, the expensive stuff. As the waiter uncorked the centenary bottle, he told me to make a wish. I already knew what I wanted: to spend the Age of Desolation by your side.
In 300,000 years, a triple star in a distant solar will explode and end all life on Earth
In 100 million years, an asteroid will hit Earth annihilating all of us
In 1 billion years, all living things will die of carbon monoxide poisoning
I am cursed by an evil spirit to relive the End
Over and over again
But blessed by every God known to man
To do it with You