The three children watched as the beasts continued to run from the erupting volcano.
Nathaniel and Ada turned their heads to face the volcano. Lava began to run down the rocky side of the mountain looking like rivers of fire. The lava began to move rapidly towards the three children.
Ada turned back and shouted “Jacob, run. The lava is getting closer”.
Jacob whirled around to take a look. His eyes grew larger as the panic rose inside his body.
“Good plan Ada” he called back, and turned to run. “That hill over there. Head for it. The lava won’t get us up there”.
Nathaniel, Ada and Jacob ran faster than they had ever ran as they sprinted across the grass towards the hilly area. Finally they began to feel the earth rise beneath their feet, but they didn’t stop running. They continued, sucking in mouthful after mouthful of air until eventually they reached the peak of the hill. There on a rocky plateau they fell to ground, lay on their backs looking at the sky as their bodies heaved in and out.
Slowly the children regained their breath. Nathaniel was the first to sit up and look around. The low ground below them was slowly turning orange as the lava crept along the plain. Where they had stood not long ago was now just a glowing mass of slowly moving liquid rock, with steam and smoke rising into the air.
Ada and Jacob sat up, joining Nathaniel, and all three turned to look at the animals.
Something very strange seemed to be happening. The beasts were no longer running from the volcano. Instead they were stood still looking towards the still erupting mountain. The beasts of the air had landed on the ground and were still. The sea beasts had surfaced and seemed to be laying motionless in the water, whilst the land beasts simply stood where they had stopped running and lifted their heads to face the volcano.
“Run, you silly things”, Ada muttered under her breath as she stared at them.
“What are they doing?” asked Jacob, confused by the behaviour the beasts were displaying.
“Wait. Look.” called out Nathaniel, pointing to the closest beast. “That warthog over there. It’s… it’s…. it’s turning back into stars.”
All three children sat in amazement as the warthog vanished in front of them and a group of stars rose from where it had been and climbed high into the sky. They craned their necks to follow as the stars continued rising until they were no more than pinpricks of light.
The children’s gaze returned to the gathered creatures in front of them. More beasts began to transform into stars and rise into the sky until eventually not a single living creature could be seen anywhere. The land was empty. The sea was empty. The sky was empty. The children were alone in the world, just like they had been after that flash of purple light.
“They’ve…. gone”, cried out Ada. “They’ve just… gone”.
“Wait a minute”, called out Jacob, his mouth contorted as he bit his lip, “Wait. This is like it was when we first arrived isn’t it. There was nothing here then either. It was only when the stars began to fall that the animals appeared”.
“So what are you saying?” asked Nathaniel, “We watch the stars to see if they fall again?”
“Yes” answered Jacob. “That’s what we’re going to do”.
The children sat on the rocky plateau and watched. First they saw the lava cool, turn black and slowly give way to fresh grass growing through the fertile soil, and then – slowly at first – they saw a single star, then two begin to move in the sky to form familiar constellations.
“It’s happening”, Nathaniel whispered.
“It’s starting all over again, just like before.” Ada called out, clapping her hands in delight.
The children sat watching as three stars in the warthog constellation slowly began to fall towards the ground. They watched the falling stars until they hit the ground and a familiar warthog appeared in front of them, snorting and eating the juicy grass.
The children looked at each other, smiled and said “Here we go again”.