Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Scout Anglin

“I’m telling you, you’ve got to stop the pumps!”

In hindsight, yelling and slamming my fist down on the head of Memphis Light, Gas and Water’s desk probably wasn’t the smartest idea.

Thankfully, he held his hands up and kept the security guards tackling me.

“Mister-,” he began.

“Professor,” I interrupted.

He coughed, then continued. “Professor Lucas, even if I believed a single word of what you’re telling me – and I don’t – this company supplies water to nearly a million people. Would you suggest I simply let them die of dehydration to satisfy your…speculations?”

I hung my head in frustration.

“The water in the aquifer belongs to them. They sealed themselves down there, God knows how long ago, God knows why, with a hundred trillion gallons of clean water.”

I was talking too fast, I tried to slow down.

“We’ve been pumping water out of an underground sea for nearly a hundred and fifty years. We never knew what was down there before. But with modern scanning, I’ve seen it. There is another city beneath this one. And it is waking up.

Now, please. You’ve got to stop the pumps.”

That’s when he threw me out of his office.

Memphis Note
There are actually four separate aquifers beneath Memphis, the largest of which is estimated to be somewhere around a hundred trillion gallons, maybe more. In all the time we’ve been pumping water out of it, the water hasn’t even dropped a hundred and fifty feet from its original level.

Shawn Wolowicz

The man in the drab trench coat walks along the empty road, sniffing at the air. He stops, licks his finger and sticks it up, testing for a breeze that isn’t there.

Shaking his head in disappointment, he pulls out a black notebook from his jacket pocket. Clicking his pen, he starts to jot down notes.

“Callis Cutoff,” he says aloud as he scribbles on the paper. “Site of multi-generational fear. Mostly unfounded, but there have been a few resonant events that have accelerated the decay.”

A wild howl cuts through the trees, snapping his head up. He listens for a moment longer before returning to his notebook.

“Concern a few unwelcomes might have already slipped through the veil. Will double check the area.”

Tapping on what seems to be nothing, but the air around his finger shimmers and vibrates for yards in all directions.

“We’ll have to send in a team to shore up the reality buttresses, make sure everything’s brought back up to code. Otherwise, we could be looking at a total esoteric collapse of this whole area.”

He snaps the notebook shut and slips it back into his pocket.

“And that, would be a paperwork nightmare.”

Memphis Note
The Callis Cutoff is an undeveloped side street near the intersection of Germantown Road and Winchester that has developed a reputation for being one of the scariest places in Memphis. Sort of like a suburban Voodoo Village. Sadly, those urban legends became reality when Lorenzen Wright, a beloved former professional athlete, was found murdered there.

Jamie Elkington

The fog pressed in on them, turning the open channel of the river into a claustrophobic nightmare.

The crew of the steamboat Mermaid were gathered on deck, peering out into the mist, straining eyes and ears for any sign of the shore.

“Lord, sir, I ain’t never seen it this thick before.” Said the boatswain, crouching to his captain’s side.

“Hush up.” The captain ordered. “Keep sharp, mister. We’ll make it through.”

The sloshing of the paddlewheel in the black water carried on until one of the crewmen yelled out, “There! In the water!”

Before them, eerie orange light sprouted from the water. Something was afire on the river.

“A wreck!” Came a voice in the darkness.

“Pikes to front! Clear a path!” Shouted the captain. A half dozen men scrambled forward, hoisting large pikes to guard front of the ship from flotsam.

A piece of smoldering wreckage floated past their port side. It was a broken piece of a boat hull, and there was something stenciled on the side.

As it drew closer, tongues of flame illuminated the lettering.

Mermaid, it read.

“Sir,” said the boatswain, a tremble in his voice. “I…I don’t think we made it through.”

Memphis Note
Memphis was one of the most important ports on the Mississippi River, and its harbor was always full of boats. But, travel on the river wasn’t safe. The average lifespan of a riverboat was five years, and they were lucky to make it that long. It is estimated that there are hundreds of lost wrecks between Memphis and Saint Louis. I imagine if ghost walked on water, that stretch of the river would be amongst the most haunted in the world.

Zack Parks

The devil liked it at the P&H Cafe. It had just the right mix of desperation, desire and crushing defeat that made his job so much easier.

It didn’t hurt that the stuffed burgers were hedonistically sinful, either

He looked around the smokey room, running his tongue over his teeth. It was early yet, so the pickings were still rather slim.

A group of comics were off in a corner, bumming cigarettes from each other and arguing over who’s turn it was to refill the pitcher. Dangle fame in front of them, and they’d turn on each other in a second.

In the booth behind them, a young filmmaker poked a timidly at his laptop, trying to catch the same bolt of lightning that Craig Brewer bottled here. And for a price, the devil could give it to him.

As the night wore on, more would flow in. More souls with more temptations.

The Poor and the Hungry, indeed.

What an absolutely perfect name for these people and this place.

If the devil ever dared to imagine his version of heaven, it would probably be a lot like this.

He ordered one of those stuffed burgers and settled in.

Memphis Note
The P&H has been the womb of and dashing rocks for many great artistic dreams in Memphis. The cheap beer, greasy food, and morally lax atmosphere has drawn in local creatives for years, and shows no sign of ceasing.

Shawn Wolowicz

“I don’t even want to know what we just slogged through.”

“Probably just rain water and leaves. No reason for raw sewage to gather in a place like that.” Mitch said, sweeping his light around the decaying cavernous interior of the Sears Crosstown building.

David frowned. “Just saying the words ‘raw sewage’ doesn’t instill a lot of confidence.”

Ignoring him, Mitch started to empty out the contents of his satchel onto the ground.

“I wonder if this was how Jonah felt inside of his whale. From his perspective, I imagine the ribs were indistinguishable from a vaulted ceiling”

He lit a candles and placed them in a circle around he and David, who was pulling out an ancient tome.

“Sears built ten buildings just like this, spread out across the nation to feed their catalog business. The developer’s trying to sell the building, but the old girl’s been silent too long. The life’s gone out of her. He thinks she needs a bit of a jump start.”

David opened the book to a certain passage and handed it to Mitch.

“They call it necromancy when you do it with people. Wonder what it’s called when you do it with buildings.”

Memphis Note
The Sears Crosstown building was one of ten retail and shipping centers built by Sears to power their catalog business. It was used up into the 1990s, when it was officially closed by Sears and sold to a private owner. Since then, several attempts have been made to resurrect the building as retail or living space, but nothing has taken hold so far.