Eula stirs in her bunk. Something is wrong.
She rolls out, throws a crochet shawl around her shoulders and waits in the dark, listening.
She hears it again. Her eyes go wide.
She sprints through the galley, bare feet slapping against the planks, up to the main decks.
Leaping over sleeping soldiers, she heads forward, toward the engine room.
Rounding a corner, Eula slips down into the hot, humid guts of the boat, looking for the ship’s master engineer.
As she steps into the engine room, the roar of metal and fire gives her pause. It is like they’ve bound a monster in irons to power the ship.
“What are you doing down here, girl?” Comes a rough growl from behind her; the master engineer.
“Sir, my father built this boat. I was born on it. I know all her sounds. And the sound she’s makin’ right now? It ain’t good.”
“What are you talking about-” He’s cut off by a sharp metal ping that rings through the air.
“The boiler, sir. The monster’s about to burst its fittings.”
The master engineer looks at her and snarls. “Why can’t you be as good a cook as you are a mechanic?”
Memphis was originally founded to be a center of transportation on the Mississippi River. The rise of cotton helped make it greater than anyone had thought possible. At its peaks, dozens of riverboats stopped in the Memphis port each day, transporting people and goods up and down the river.