October 79 AD, Pompeii, Prologue

Ad te, bone lector, hoc una legeris gratia Iouis.

It is my fervent hope that one day someone finds these pages, as I fear I have not much time left on this Earth. Since yesterday, it is more and more clear to me that the gods have forsaken us here in Pompeii. If not, how could they allow Gaius, my only love on this Earth, suffocate slowly and leave me here alone here in the everlasting darkness to wait for death? Even though I can already feel the hands of Hades around my throat in this unnatural darkness, whilst listening to the sky falling on us, I still cling to a hope that this will end and the sun will come out. Or maybe I will wake up from this horrible nightmare and find Gaius smiling on me, like he does on every morning.

I fear that this is not some nightmare sent by Somnia, the god of sleep and dreams, but instead, it is real, living hell. And it is because of that that I feel I must write down as much as I possibly can, to tell you about these past few days, the possibly last ever days of Pompeii.

Some of us, our master and mistress amongst them, have already left the city to seek shelter in Herculaneum or even further, possibly in Neapolis. Before they left, my master commanded me and my loyal Gaius to remain and guard the villa against looters and thugs. We barricaded the doors and lit offerings for Jupiter, Venus, and Minerva to guard us and spare us. Maybe because we tried to escape, this calamity befell us, trapping us here like mice waiting for the divine retribution.

Whilst writing down these words, the world has fallen silent, at last. There aren’t even screams of other trapped people now. The only thing I can hear now is the scribbling of my pen and Gaius’ breathing, which is very laboured. I don’t think he will last for much longer. I have to take care so that my tears don’t stain the papyrus I am writing on, but my heart aches so much when I hear my beloved slipping away from this life. I take refuge in his words that he said to me last time he was awake. He told me that he would wait for me at the fields of Elysium and that there we would dine together as a proper married couple under the eternal sunshine.

But now, when it is his time, I shall lay my head next to his for the last time and cry myself to sleep in his arms, and pray that we will meet in afterlife again. I have also planned to place these pages in an amfora, hoping that someone will find this account of the end of the world.

– Theokritos

To Part 1

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