Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Michael Whitten

The air is still; dead.

This was not always the way of things.

Before, when we would take to the skies, we would black out the sun with the beating of our wings.

That was before you men came. With your guns and your endless sport of extinction.

I think I am the last of my kind to nest in Pigeon Roost Road. The winding trail through bramble and tree and swamp and field was our favorite place in the world. It was safe, food was plentiful, and we called it home.

You gave this place its name because of us. We, the humble passenger pigeon, that never once wronged any one of you. We cleared your skies of the insects that ate your fields and sucked your blood, but you saw fit to hunt us for entertainment and feed us to your poor and enslaved.

There are not words to describe the horrors your kind levied upon mine. Tens of thousands dead in an hour, in every hour of a day. Calling out, hearing nothing but cries of pain in reply.

Now when I call out, no one calls back. And I can hear our end in the silence.

Memphis Note
The passenger pigeon is up there with the buffalo and the grey wolf as horrific examples of America’s effect on the natural world. The passenger pigeon used to be the most numerous bird in North America, with flocks numbering into the billions. But, those great flocks made them easy targets for hunters, and the pigeons couldn’t survive without them. Just south of Memphis, near what is now Highway 78, was Pigeon Roost Road, one of the great sheltering spots for the birds. There haven’t been any passenger pigeons there in over a hundred years.

Matt Farr

Purscilla took her place at the head of the quorum. She noted the heads that bowed, those that looked away, and those that stared back in fiery defiance.

She narrowed her eyes at those, but stopped short of showing them her fangs for their insolence.

Placing her paw on the coyote skull atop a pile of other canine skulls, she brought this gathering of the pride to order.

“The moon is full, we are gathered, the pride is here. What business is there?”

“Still working on the two that are trapped in the house with the big window.” Said Shadow, the black manx. “They seem unwilling to join us.”

“Educate them as to the folly of that action.” Purscilla decreed.

“There is a new yapper on the corner.” Snowball, the white Persian with the different colored eyes shouted out.

The pride erupted in hisses.

Purscilla felt her claws involuntarily dig into the skull under paw. Banding together to kill that coyote had been her idea, her responsibility. Purging her neighborhood of dogs since was her pleasure.

And those little yappers, those dogs that never shut up, she hated them most of all.

“Well,” Growled Purscilla, “let’s introduce ourselves, shall we?”

Memphis Note
There are a bizarrely large number of cats in my neighborhood, and we we’ve also had a few coyote sightings. I’ve never seen the coyote, but I have seen a half dozen cats within a block of each other. Which makes me think that maybe they’ve done something to that poor lost coyote.

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.

Scott Brown

Look, let me get this out of the way right at the start of this: I’m a bull shark. What’d you expect from me?

What was I supposed to do when you started dumping all those delicious, oily, greasy morsels of who knows what into the water shed?

That’s the stuff I like, for pete’s sake. Not just the stuff I like, but the stuff I am absolutely delighted to find a mere morsel of after days of searching.

Seriously, how could you not expect me to swim up that giant mouth of taste heaven looking for where all those flavors and smells were coming from? I’ve eaten the fenders off of old Edsels out of sheer boredom. This was like mana from proverbial heaven.

But, I guess would be something more like tuna from heaven for us.

Alls I’m saying is that when I come up in the middle of a bunch of you hairless monkey things riding plastic dolphins things in the middle of a muddy river, it’s not my fault when I take a bite out of the nearest thing to find out what it is.

I’m a shark, after all.

I am not a clever animal.

Memphis Note
Every year, a few bored bull sharks somehow wander their way up the Mississippi River. Most times, no one ever knows they are there. But, sometimes they get desperate and strike out at humans. There have been reports of attack as far north Saint Louis. Now, imagine what a bull shark would think if it happened to pass by Memphis in the middle the annual canoe and kayak race at Mud Island. You could hardly blame it for wanting to find out if any of those things were edible, could you?