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The people of the desert were happy and healthy. They lived in soft, cool homes and traveled in airtight containers. They breathed clean air and drank clear water. They were in complete control of the things they saw, heard, and tasted. Their worries were few, and their futures were bright.
They were blissfully unaware of the danger that lay beneath their feet.
And why not? There was no yearlong drought afflicting them. There were no panicked town criers or murmuring priests in their public markets. They had no recorded prophecies, nor would they have regarded prophecies with any seriousness. The only people who could have warned them had been extinguished long, long ago in a purge called the Advent of Boiling Rain.
Those earlier people, despite their prayers and preparations, were smitten by a harsh and swift plague from the heavens. In an instant, the original people of the desert saw their cities washed away while the sizzling desert sand drowned out their cries of agony. The liquefied remains of these people sunk into the cracked crust beneath them, and, over time, lower still, until they were dispersed throughout the molten river that circled the planet's core.
And though their prayers were not answered in the spans of their human lives, they would find themselves returning to the surface one day, eons later, in a grand, cathartic display of destruction. Their misery was to be transferred onto their successors in a perverse inversion of their own demise, and without so much as a single wrung hand signaling their arrival.
In their naive moment of bliss, the modern people of the desert stood as living monuments to the human capacity for denial. Their curly-haired children, manicured lawns, and bountiful harvests were like dainty water lilies perched calmly atop a roiling sea. They had become nothing more than the punch lines of some crackpot historian.
Even the name of their grand city, Phoenix, was a darkly ironic prophecy unto itself, for the rebirth that approached would only bring death and despair.