A common refrain re: 2020: We live in hell. It’s somewhat tired, yes, but then the preponderance of evidence cannot be ignored. We’ve had fire tornadoes whirling across Australia and seen the Arctic go up in flames (hellfire). Then there’s the descent of murder hornets (hell beasts) plus the biblical locust swarms to consider. And please do not forget that we are living through an actual plague, not to mention the return of the plague. Honestly, at this point, it’s gratuitous. We get it. We know the Hellmouth has opened. We definitely didn’t need a river of black molten sludge, coursing through the bed where a regular water river should be, to tell us! And yet, here we are.
Last Wednesday, a sludge river made its home in Pima County, Arizona. “Who had this on their 2020 hellscape bingo card?” officials asked on Twitter, referring to the ominous muck that filled the Cañada del Oro Wash after a storm. In the accompanying video, dark goop crawls over dry dirt with disconcerting speed, looking splintery and sentient like a mass of evil magnets.
According to IFL Science, what we have here is “a flash flood of mud and debris following wildfires in the region,” quite possibly from the Bighorn Fire that has been burning north of Tucson since early June. Pima County officials reportedly wanted to highlight the ease with which dangerous mudflows can arise, but I would like to highlight the fact that this sinister stream appears to be made up mostly of sticks. What is the name of that river you have to cross in order to reach Hades? Ah, right, yes, the River Styx. Of course it is.