Name: Sunset Crater
Volcano Type: Cinder Cone
Eruption Status: Dormant
Last Eruption: approximately 1085 CE
Location: 35.3642° N, 111.5040° W,
Northeast of Flagstaff, AZ, USA
Part 1: Heated History
The midday sun scorches the earth with its white light. You wipe a slick of sweat from your brow with the back of your hand. Leaning on your spade, you stop to survey the long rows of hard-packed earth where you will plant the seeds you gleaned from last year’s harvest. In six months, the crop will be ready to feed the hungry mouths of the village.
You smile at the thought of your wife grinding maize into flour on the hearthstone while your youngest plays nearby with a doll made from the husks. Your son practices throwing a spear outside, anxious to join the hunt this fall for the first time. You’ll teach him the things your father taught you, and his father before him.
A low grumbling fills your ears. You lift your spade, hand at the ready on your knife. Has the puma come down from the nearby hills again? As the ground quivers beneath your feet, you realize it’s just another earthquake. They happen frequently around here. Perhaps a little too frequently in recent days.
The heat chafes your tongue and you reach down for the water skin. Thirsty as you are, the water tastes of rotten eggs and dirt. Your nose scrunches as you gulp it down. Hopefully the search party will be able to find a new source of water. Between the earth shakes and the tainted water, the gods must be angry. A sacrifice should be made.
The ground trembles again, then bucks hard like a bronco. The entire world rattles. The dirt you’ve worked hours to unearth tumbles back into the holes. A fountain of ash bursts through the field in front of you, spewing rock a thousand feet into the air.
I’m kicking the metal leg of my desk as I tip back in my chair. The clock is rolling backward, and I’m wondering how long it’s going to take before the teacher hollers at me to “Quit it!”
A spit wad whacks me square in the ear, ricocheting onto my desk and leaving a glob of ooze behind. I lose my balance and come thumping down onto all four chair legs. I earn a stern warning glance from Mrs. B and I send my best friend a vicious glare as he sniggers from a few rows behind me. That rat is toast when the recess bell rings. I’m gonna make him eat gravel.
Y’know. Assuming the recess bell ever rang.