A young boy walks the road to Rome, his feet calloused and his ears now broken by the horrific blasts he has heard. Never again will he hear the sounds of birds or of other little boys or girls. He will never again hear his mother's voice, because he is now deaf, and she is now dead. His world is a pillar of smoke. Just a week before, he laughed as his father read him a dirty poem carved on a stone wall as they both went to the market. His strong father, a merchant, was building a future for the boy, a future of prosperity, a future undercut by total death.
Horses pass the boy, and he cannot hear the voices of the soldiers and engineers who have been sent from Rome to assess the scope of the catastrophe. “Boy,” they shout. “Boy!”
The boy shuffles on, emotions and awareness now as buried as his home. He has escaped with a few other stragglers.
“Forget him,” one soldier says. “He's like the others we've met. On to Pompeii.”