Perched upon a porous boulder at the toes of a fiery mountain, I regarded a distant but nearing lava flow. No flames breathed from the peak above, but smoke billowed moodily into the evening sky. The ground vibrated with constant rumbling and heat soaked my hair with sweat. This was no place for people, yet many had waited here before me, judging by an ash-dusted stack of stones nearby.
It was not until after nightfall that the approaching lava flowed close enough for a vapor spirit to step from the fiery goo. The smokey creature billowed forth, eyes and mouth mere burning pits. Behind it, the lava strip glittered like a golden ribbon.
“My master has accepted your request for audience.” The spirit’s voice hissed like escaping gas. “You may ascend.”
I nodded my thanks, holding my breath against its toxic vapors behind a cloth mask.
Upon the mountaintop, I found bubbling magma simmering within a massive crater. Extreme heat snatched at my eyebrows.
“What would you ask of me?” the mountain growled. “A bountiful crop? Love? I cannot grant those wishes.”
Keeping my distance from the rim’s edge, I held up a carved jade figurine – a stylized bear, all wide eyes and snarling maw. “An offering. For safe passage.” With a grunt, I hurled the figurine far into the center; it burned up before even touching the surface.
The entire mountain hummed. “Delicious,” it rumbled. “You will pass in safety.”
I glanced out at the huge lava field blocking my way forward. Before my eyes, distant glowing stripes of melted rock and pockets of fire blinked out as the magma cooled and solidified. When I passed by the stone pile below, I set another on top, for solidarity with those who’d told me the secret of what to offer.
Thanks for reading!
Subscribe to my list of readers who get new stories, sneak peeks, and book reviews delivered to their inboxes.
Little Blue Marble 2022: Warmer Worlds
Featuring “I Hope This Email Does Not Find You!”
The last eight years have been the warmest on record.
Little Blue Marble‘s anthology of speculative climate fiction and poetry from an international slate of authors mourns and hopes in equal measure for the fate of our world and its ecosystems.
May these visions of the future inspire collective action before climate chaos becomes irreversible.
Show Your Support
If you enjoy my writing, please consider leaving a tip. All amounts welcome!