Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Rikki Boyce

In her arms, the kitten started to purr, oblivious to the human drama playing out around it. The teenage girl was holding it tight, hiding under her bed in the shack she shared with her fathers and brothers.

When the white men with torches and clubs came into the freedmen’s camp, her father told her to stay hidden until he returned, then took her brothers out to what men sometimes must do.

The angry shouts started shortly after and were quickly overtaken by the din of a riot. She’d lost all track of time since then. It could’ve been hours, or mere minutes.

It broken her heart to think of such violence coming to the peaceful, eclectic settlement hers and other freed slave families had built.

From outside the thin walls of the shack, she heard a man scream in pain, cutting through everything else. The girl was unable to tell if it belonged to some one she knew or not.

Then she noticed her kitten had stopped purring. 

It had fallen asleep. She petted it hard so it awoke and began to purr again.

The purring of that kitten was the only sound she could stand to hear now.

Memphis Note
Once Memphis was captured by the Union in 1862, the black population exploded as escaped slaves flocked to the city. They settled in contraband camps – renamed freedmen’s camps after the Emancipation Proclamation – and some joined the Union Army. However, this population growth caused friction with the white population of the city, which exploded into one of the worst race riots in US history in 1866, from which the city has never fully recovered.

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.

Josh Roberts

She’d been through this before, in her younger years. She was fit enough, pretty enough where it didn’t matter; she was saved. The cage was something she didn’t comprehend, didn’t live behind long enough to worry about.

Then her owners had grown old, things had happened she couldn’t help, and one day one of them was gone. The other followed soon after, and she was left behind, forgotten or simply left behind. Either way her life began again, alone this time.

It was years later they came for her. She was too much of an oldling by then. She’d heard the stories from the others about what to expect, and there wasn’t strength left in her to resist.

Now, back in the cold steel of the cage, she found it was no longer her she worried about, but rather the lostlings. Their plaintive howling sounded into the empty night, fear and uncertainty in all their voices, gnawing at her soul.

She couldn’t help but think of her childer, and hope they were not among the mournful choir. But she knew it did not matter. For now they were all but dogs to the men that walked them to their end.

Memphis Note
Right now there is a crisis in Memphis. It revolves around the quality and morality of the city’s animal pound. Any animal that isn’t deemed cute or adoptable enough is thrust out of sight to be killed as soon as possible. Numerous legal issues and firings have also cast a looming shadow of doubt over the efficacy of the city’s management of the facility.