1453 c/o Crispin Best


Volcano was lonely. He wanted to feel strong.

Volcano was bored and lonely and wanted to do something.

Volcano erupted. He tried to dance but felt self-conscious. He spat ash into the sky. The earth shook. Volcano erupted and his island split in two. Things happened.

Volcano gargled lava and tried to sing. He thought volcanoes should feel very good and alive when they erupt, but Volcano felt bad. He tried to think of funny ways to describe the eruption but realised he had no-one to tell. He spat lava and ash and smoke up into the sky. He tried to smile. He was erupting and he knew he was erupting. He thought he should feel sexy or something. He felt alone. Soon the sky was full of black ash and Volcano couldn’t see anything.

Volcano sat in the darkness. He said ‘hello?’ to nobody. He sat there for a long time. He said ‘hello?‘ again. He started to cry. He was done erupting.

Later, Volcano woke up and looked at the dark around him. Things were still happening. Smoke and ash got blown about by wind. Lava hit the water and the ocean boiled. Cooked fish floated to the surface. Over-eager seabirds burnt their beaks.

Gradually wind moved ash higher and somewhere else. The upper atmosphere got fuller until the sun couldn’t get through. People on beaches started to boo. They blew into their hands. Volcano listened and felt nervous.

The world went cold. Volcano didn’t understand. The whole world. All that fire he had made and the world had gotten colder. There had been a mistake maybe. Volcano couldn’t believe it. But there was nobody to ask. Volcano felt shame.

The world went cold. The sun couldn’t get through all the ash. For a whole year, no corn grew in Europe. Volcano heard this and felt awful. Volcano thought that breakfast would probably change forever. Cinemas would have to rethink their finances. It was all Volcano’s fault. He felt just terrible.

The two halves of Volcano’s island missed each other. They shouted sad messages across the giant crater that Volcano had opened up. They cried and sang and Volcano listened and knew all the words and felt terrible.

There was a corn shortage in Italy. How would the Italians survive without their daily polenta? Volcano sat and imagined their suffering. No polenta!

Wheat crops suffered too. Four feet of snow fell on parts of China. The Yangtze River froze. The Yellow Sea froze. Two hundred thousand people froze and died. Two hundred thousand. And still there was a noodle shortage.

Constantinople fell. Hailstones rained on celebrations. People went out into their gardens to sit and try to feel alive. They looked at their gardens and their gardens were ugly and dead. They felt awful and went back indoors. They shouted at their spouses. They did the washing up noisily.

Whole street parties were washed away by rain. Houses, hotels and shelters flooded. Thousands more died. There was one loaf of bread for the whole of Cyprus. A meeting was called.

Fog crashed ships into cliffs. Sunsets looked like the city was on fire. There was an eclipse that had nothing to do with him but Volcano saw it and he screamed. Halley’s Comet came, bright gold with a rusty tail. Volcano looked at it and he screamed.

Everything was wrong. Volcano wanted to apologise. He wanted to do something. He was a volcano. He couldn’t move. He sat and looked up at the sky and tried to think. He looked at the sky and felt terrible. He felt sick. He started to sink into the sea. He noticed what was happening and he thought it was OK and he sank down and went underwater. Volcano cried. He reached the ocean floor and he cried. He cried and yellow bubbles rose and hit the surface and then popped, like bubbles do. He cried and bubbles of hydrogen rose to the surface of the water slowly.