Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Matt Farr

Louie had anchored himself in a small cove off the Mississippi. He didn’t want to set foot ashore, afraid the Chickasaw might not take too kindly to his trespass.

Then, from all around him, came a great racket, like a strong wind was tearing through the wood around him, only, the air was still.

All of the fowl hiding in the trees and bramble suddenly took to wing, screeching and cawing at each other.

It was one of the most downright peculiar things Louie’d ever seen.

However, the water beneath his boat suddenly flowing in the opposite direction quickly outstripped it.

But when the sandy shore started to shake like frying grease, he knew he’d never see its like again.

And thanks to the falling tree that crushed his boat, he nearly didn’t.

As he hit the frigid water, he remembered the only sound advice his father had ever given him. “Swim with broad strokes, boy.”

Broad strokes, he reminded himself as he swam toward the beach.

Ashore and thankful to be alive, he hoped that Chickasaw would understand his predicament and not kill him on the spot.

Escaping one death into another would just be too much to take.

Memphis Note
The New Madrid earthquake of 1811 was probably the most powerful earthquake to happen in the continental United States in recorded history. It was actually series of four 7.0 and higher quakes that reshaped the Mississippi coastline from New Madrid all the way down to the bluffs of what would become Memphis.

Shawn Wolowicz

Pastel oranges and purples smeared across the sky as the sun crept out of view. The man in the black lab coat sat atop the embankment of the bluff, munching contentedly on a boiled peanuts from an oil-stained brown paper bag.

“I always loved sunsets from this view.” Said another man in a black lab coat, walking up the path.

“Peanut?” The seated man lifted the bag.

“Oh, yes.” The standing man took a peanut, and tossed it into his mouth, shell and all. “I forget how enjoyable taste buds are.”

“You didn’t come down here just to remember what salt tastes like.”

“Sadly, no.” The standing man took another peanut. “The firmament is stirring again. Pressure needs to be relieved.”

“Really? So soon? The old thing’s being unbearably fussy of late.”

“We built the releases eons ago, to keep the heart of the planet from cracking open. Safety valves against the stresses of time. They have to be used.”

“Pity,” The sitting man sighed. “The barbecue here is really quite exceptional.”

“They could always rebuild.”

“Mayhap. They’re stubborn enough.” The sitting man stood, nodding at his companion. “Keep the peanuts. There might not be many more of them.”

Memphis Note
The US Geological Survey has reports that say upwards of 60% of Memphis would be destroyed if there was ever a 7.0 or greater quake at the New Madrid Fault. And it’s only a matter of time until that happens. And then what would we do? Would we let the Peanut Shoppe’s boiled peanuts and the city’s amazing barbecue slip forever into the stuff of legend? Or would we rebuild and keep the legacy strong. I know what my answer is. What’s yours?

Scott Brown

Bored, I kicked my short legs against the back of the passenger seat in front of me.

“Mooooom! Make him stop!” My sister whined.

“Short round, you may be outta reach, but I’m at home all day with your toys. Bad things can happen.”

This was one of her regular threats. I called her on it once, and came home to find all my Batman toys sequestered to the top of the fridge.

I hadn’t tested her since.

“Don’t see why we have to go to stupid school anyway. Bobby Miller said there’s gonna be an earthquake. So did the man on the TV last night.”

“Well, if Bobby Miller’s anything like the man on TV, he’s an utter moron.”

That took me aback. Had my mother really just called the most popular kid in my grade an utter moron? I decided to try a different approach.

“But, no one’s gonna be there.”

“Perfect. Time to ask really deep questions.”

She stopped at the pedestrian crossing next to school and let us out.

“Hey, kids,” she shouted after us. “Just in case Bobby Miller’s not an utter moron, don’t forget to duck and cover!”

My mother was a strange woman.

Memphis Note
In 1990, Iben Browning predicted that the New Madrid Fault, to which Memphis is uncomfortably close, would experience an earthquake of a magnitude of about 7.0 on a certain day. Despite the fact that Browning had no credentials or experience to make a prediction like this, international media lept on the story, and set off a wildfire of public worry. Of course nothing happened, but, it didn’t stop the city from turning into a ghost town the day he predicted the earthquake to hit.

Kevin Hardee

She watched for the signal from the dive master. He touched his thumb to his index finger, and rolled back into the cold, brown water. She and the rest of her cohort followed suit.

They descended into the murky depths of the Mississippi Sea. She was taught that this had once been a river, one of the greatest in the world. Then the Big One came, a quake that split the continent from the Cracked Arch of Saint Louis to the Bay of Orleans, swallowing everything between.

Without the dive master, her archeological expedition would’ve never known where to look for the lost city of Memphis. The entirety of it had slid into the river, like a carpet drug across a floor. From the surface, there was no sign of anything beneath.

Below, whole city blocks remained as they were centuries ago. Silt piled in the streets like snow. It was a treasure trove of knowledge, perfectly preserved.

As she swam through the streets, peculiar names on glass windows sent her mind racing. Cockadoos. Kooky Canuck. Schwabs. What where these places? What was their purpose?

She marveled at this, a whole city, transformed in a moment into a new Atlantis.

Memphis Note
Everyone who lives in Memphis knows that we’re decades over due for an earthquake from the New Madrid fault. And the last one that hit us created Reelfoot Lake and made the Mississippi River flow backwards to fill said lake. God only knows what the next one will do.