Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Steven Raney

“Remind me again what we’re doing here?” Asked David.

They were standing in an open field in the middle of the night. The lights of the city encircled them, a distant glow on the edge of their vision.

“We’re hunting ghosts.” Mitch said as he spread his things out on a patch of dirt.

“Oh, right. So a worthwhile use of my time.”

Mitch shot him a disapproving look.

“David, we’re standing on the grave of one of the grandest structures in Memphis history: the Mall of Memphis.” Mitch was starting into a lecture, David hated when he lectured. “Which, at the time of it’s demolition was the largest mall in American history to die.”

David scrunched up his nose, he had a bad feeling about where all of this was going.

Mitch continued, “If traumatic deaths can make the spirits of mortals linger in a place…why not the spirits of physical things?”

“Like you want to seance a Betamax player or a pair of acid washed jeans or something?” David had a nightmarish vision of haunted children’s toys trying to kill them.

“No, nothing so small,” whispered Mitch. “I want to talk to the ghost of a building.”

Memphis Note
The Mall of Memphis was shuttered on Christmas Eve of 2003, and demolished shortly there after. At the time, it was the largest enclosed mall to fail in US history. There’s little more than an open field between a neighborhood and a Taco Bell to ever mark that it was ever there.

Amanda Yarbro-Dill

“I can’t believe they’ve done this to us. I really can’t.” Gerald paced back and forth in front of the fire gnawing on his fingernails as he spoke. “We’re putting our lives on the line for Southern Independence and those bastards won’t even let us have a damned drink!”

“Sober man makes a better shot.” Retorted Clarence from inside their tent.

“Dammit all, Clarence!” Gerald shouted back. It’d been less than a day since the general order came down banning all beer sales in Memphis, and he was well into the throws of withdrawal. “It’s not like I’d be walking across the field of battle lit up like a Christmas tree!”

“Really? Because I sure would be. That’d be the only way it’d make any sense to me.”

“Pffft.” Gerald scoffed at Clarence. “What I wouldn’t give for a good beer or some corn whiskey or maybe, maybe even some of that gin the captain’s always sippin’ on.”

From inside the tent, Clarence could see the sweat standing out on Gerald’s brow.

“I think you might have a problem, Gerald.”

“And I think you might just need to shut the hell up, Clarence.” He said, just before throwing up again.

Memphis Note
General Order #7 issued by the Provost Marshall of Memphis in the summer of 1862 forbade the sale of beer in Memphis. Apparently the enlisted men stationed here were doing little but drinking themselves into the gutter, and the Confederate Army had had enough.

(Beer is a four letter word, by the way.)

Chris Lam

Aggoraxia’s massive head rose out of the mire of the swamp behind her. Great scaly lids rolled back from bottomless black eyes as he focused on her.

“Child,” said the ancient, “come away from there. Those things are not for you.”

Zel spun and hissed at him, hair standing straight off her hackles. “What do you know of it, swamp beast?”

His eyes watched her, emotionless and vast. “That their world is not ours. Even for one as young as you.”

“I sometimes slip away, you know. Phasewalk into the between place, and travel amongst them unseen.” She turned away, looking at the flickering lights across the river. “They call it a city. Emmm-phes is its name.” Her voiced drifted off. “Look at how the lights dance…”

The great beast chortled, a sound like bubbling mud. “They are intoxicating. But beware those that live under them, kit, they are capable of terrible things. And their world will soon consume our own, I fear. Why not stay in ours while it lasts?”

With that, Aggoraxia silently melted back into the swamp.

Zel watched the lights for a while longer, then slipped down off her perch and back into her world.

Memphis Note
Ever wondered what sort of magic might have existed in the unseen spaces before we got to them? About how it might’ve felt, watching us slowly grind toward it?

Blake Palmer

Arlene sat on the hood of her beat up old Datsun and watched the tiny birds streaming west as the sky turned the color of a bruised peach. She couldn’t make out what kind of birds they were, and didn’t much care. Individually, they didn’t matter. But when they flocked at dusk they became something greater; living ribbons cutting through the sky, endlessly reaching from one edge of the horizon to the other.

As she looked up at them, Arlene expected to start crying at any moment. But then the moments blended together and she just didn’t feel it. Which confused her even more.

After all, Greg was dead. Shouldn’t that make her sad? He was her husband, after all, and she loved him, didn’t she? She thought she had when they’d gotten married, but how was she supposed to know for sure?

The sky was darkening, the birds were getting harder to see. Arlene wondered about their existence. The unwavering belief they must have in each other to move like that. She wondered if Greg ever felt that about her. Or if she ever felt that about him.

And as the sky finally went black, Arlene began to cry.

Memphis Note
If you look up at dusk in Memphis you’ll see thousands of birds flocking west, toward the river. They’re flying out to roost near water. And you can’t find water much bigger than the Mississippi River.

Ben Powers

“We’re going to time travel.” She’d said to him.

“We’re going to what?” Had been his response.

“Go back in time a million years.” She explained.

“I don’t believe you.” He said stubbornly.

“You will.” Was her smiled reply.

He thought about that conversation as they paddled through a narrow creek. Him in front, her in back, steering. A maze of ferns, spider webbed bushes and saplings trapped them in the tiny channel.

His manly nature kept rearing its recalcitrant head, whispering in his ear that she had no idea where they were going, that he needed to take control of the situation, save them both before things got too bad.

Then it all fell away. The claustrophobia evaporated into a wide open lake, dotted with lilly pads and dappled with sunlight drifting down through the cypress trees.

“See, time travel.” She said behind him.

“Wow,” was all he could think to say.

She piloted to a sandy shore and beached the canoe. Then she took a blanket and spread it out for them. Finally she helped him from the boat and laid him down on the blanket, where they made love for the first time, a million years ago.

Memphis Note
I’m convinced the Ghost River is a wrinkle in time. You turn a nothing bend in a creek and suddenly you’re seeing the world as it was long, long before human kind ever thought it would be a good idea to come down out of the trees.