My parents installed a sandpile in our yard shortly after we moved to Newton. We’ve been there ever since. The sandpile has been heavily used. Every few years my parents have to pay a small fortune to refill the sand, as countless floods, yard projects and feet have carried the sand to parts unknown.
The sandbox loomed large in my world as a child. There weren’t a lot of kids my age in town, so I would spent countless hours out there by myself, creating empires and cities, mountains and lakes, and then destroying them when I was done.
While no game out there was the same, they all fell under certain themes and had other similarities to each other. The following story is my favorite theme. I present the first in a series: Tales from the Sandpile! To complete your reading experience, I encourage you to read the narration in the voice of your favorite male British actor. (My personal preference is John Hurt.)
IN THE BEGINNING…
Long ago, in the Cascade Range in Washington State, a crack opened in the earth and spewed forth lava and smoke. A volcano was born!
Over the next 500,000 years, the volcano continued its eruptions, creating a majestic cone that soared twenty thousand feet into the sky. Snow coated the summit, making it the most beautiful mountain in North America. Nearly five hundred years before the White Man came to the New World, the mountain went silent. In 1850, a small town was founded at the base of the mountain, called Stanley Creek, after a mountain man that roamed these parts. The volcano was named Morgan Peak, after the first white man to see it. The town thrived.
It became a major tourist attraction after the Second World War. Many ski resorts opened on the mountain, taking advantage of the year-round snow at the summit. Lodges, resorts and camp grounds graced the surrounding landscape.
Scientists assured the residents of Stanley Creek that the mountain was extinct.
In the summer of 1997, small earthquakes began to rattle Stanley Creek. Rockslides on Morgan Peak became common.
Scientists became concerned that the mountain might erupt in the near future. They installed seismometers, tilt meters and gas readers around the mountain. The stupid mayor, who had spent most of the town’s money on a brand new mansion for himself, assured the people there was nothing to worry about.
On September 7, the mountain awoke with a mighty roar.
As eruptions go, it was mild. Only a light coating of ash fell on Stanley Creek and no one died, but it threatened to destroy the tourist trade. Thinking quickly, the stupid mayor began to advertise Stanley Creek as the “Volcano Watching Capital of the World!” Thousands upon thousands of tourists descended into Stanley Creek, choking the only road in or out of the isolated mountain community. The mountain continued to belch smoke all that winter. Scientists were convinced that Morgan Peak was going to erupt in a big way soon, but no one listened to them. They all believed the stupid mayor.
A HUGE EXPLOSION RIPPED THE SUMMIT APART, HURTLING ROCKS THE SIZE OF HOUSES-
Due to pressing business elsewhere, God paused time throughout the universe and went on a quick errand.
SOME “TIME” LATER…
Where was I? Oh, yes. MORGAN PEAK BLEW OFF THE TOP OF ITSELF, RAINING FIERY DEATH UPON-
What? Oh, come ON, Mom! I already cleaned my room! No, not to your standards, but I DID clean it! Sigh…Fine.
Once again, God paused time and went to take care of some business.
An imposter enters the scene…
Oh no! An evil dragon swoops down upon the town!
People run screaming towards the hills, but the dragon swoops by again and swallows them whole!
The dragon lands upon the tall mountain, belching fire hundreds of feet into the air! The village below is in flames!
Stupid Kate, now I have to clean up this mess….oh look, the volcano has dragon prints all over it….stupid sisters, I wish I could ship them to Mars….sigh…she even destroyed the Mayor’s mansion….
Suddenly the Starship Enterprise flies over the town! She fires her phasers into the temporal anomaly that stopped time and let the dragon in!
The anomaly seals itself, and time resets to just before the dragon arrived! Their job done, Captain Kirk and his crew return to the 23rd Century.
NOW…if there are no FURTHER interruptions….
The eruption lasts less than an hour, but the damage has been done! The only road in or out of Stanley Creek has been destroyed! The entire town’s population of ten thousand, plus one hundred thousand tourists, are trapped in Stanley Creek! Even their little airport has been destroyed by lava bombs! So has the Mayor’s mansion! He has to live in a hotel! Everyone hates him!
The only scientist in the town says that a larger eruption is on its way. No one will survive. People flood into the few churches Stanley Creek has; it’s a rather godless town.
Three days later…
THE ENTIRE MOUNTAIN EXPLODES IN THE LARGEST ERUPTION IN RECORDED HISTORY!!
Half the mountain slides away in a massive pyroclastic cloud, slamming into Stanley Creek at twice the speed of sound!
The eruption cloud blots out the sun across the entire United States! Ash falls in New York! The nation is paralyzed! Morgan Peak’s eruption is one for the history books!
Two weeks later, rescue parties make their way to the desolate landscape that was Stanley Creek. Morgan Peak is a rump of a mountain now, only a shadow of its former self.
It was a rule that every mountain must look like Mt. St. Helens at the end.
Stanley Creek is buried under four thousand feet of rubble. It’s impossible for anyone to have survived. Wait! What’s that? A hand is protruding from the rubble. The rescue parties dig him out. It’s the Mayor! And he already has big plans!
Then God gets tired of the game, and goes to get sandwiches. Rest assured, he has not finished with Morgan Peak.