4Heads Literally Exploded During the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius
Italy's Mount Vesuvius is infamous mainly for erupting so hard on Pompeii's face that the entire Roman city (and all its dick sculptures, since it was the sex capital of the empire) remained buried in ash for the next millennium and a half. What you may not know is that the gods were actually merciful to Pompeii compared with the horror that went down in Herculaneum, which was a smaller city situated even closer to Vesuvius when it started ejaculating magma everywhere.
Pictured, from left to right: Vesuvius, Herculaneum, and Pompeii.
What Pompeii experienced was a classic disaster flick: huge cloud of smoke, people running, blanketing ash, and maybe a subplot about Tara Reid reconnecting with her ex-husband and showing some sideboob. Herculaneum, on the other hand, experienced a full-blown supernatural horror movie due to them being hit with "superheated pyroclastic flows of molten rock, mud, and gas," which is a fancy way of saying that a whole bunch of people went like this:
Seriously. The human skull is loaded with lots of liquids, and if you heat it up super quickly, it reacts much like a hamster in a microwave. We know this because that's precisely what happened at Herculaneum when everyone in the city was hit by a cloud of gas with a temperature of nearly 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In less than two-tenths of a second, "skin vaporized, ... brains boiled, and skulls exploded." Like, without any shotguns or grape shot. It just happened all on its own, just as Mother Nature intended. From the inside.
Here's hoping this doesn't happen to the fine folks in Naples, who stubbornly insist on living in the precise spot where Vesuvius patiently waits to wipe them out again.
3 The British Pet Holocaust of World War II
A. J. O'Brien/Hulton Archive/Getty Image
There are so many horror stories in war that some just get lost in the pile. That's too bad, because often by discussing things in broad, heroic strokes -- the bombings, the invasions, the cities reduced to rubble -- you lose sight of the more personal horrors that occurred day-to-day. For example:
Fred Morley / Stringer / Hulton / Getty
Awww, look at the ... wait, what the fuck does that sign say?
During the run-up to WWII, the British government formed the National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee in 1939 to decide what to do with all their animals once war broke out. The committee's primary concern was food shortages made worse due to people feeding their pets, so to curtail this potential problem, they sent out a pamphlet called "Advice to Animal Owners" ... which came with an advertisement for a specific type of gun. You can see where this is going.
UK National Archives
Keep calm and kill your cat.
The pamphlet advised the population that if they could not send their pets into the countryside, "it really is kindest to have them destroyed" (the wording suggests that it was written by an early Dalek prototype). How did the British population take this order? With protests across the Isles, surely? Not exactly. Within the course of a week, 750,000 family pets were "destroyed."
Also, please note that this took place during the summer of 1939 -- i.e., before Germany invaded Poland, and during a time when the British government could have done a lot more damage to Nazi Germany if they simply attacked them instead of massacring all family pets and printing posters for when the Nazis conquered London.