The Execution of Mary the Elephant: The 13th of September 1916 – Erwin, Tennessee

(found in the mud by the train tracks)

Hayden, my boy!

Well, you see, they’ve gone and strung her up.

It was some kind of sight, to see that cable flung around the poor beast’s neck, to hear the creaking of the great metal crane used to hoist her in the air and to feel the ground shake when she croaked out one last moaning breath.

It was really quite terrible. Terrible indeed.

And the whole crowd cheered. Every damn person here cheered and whooped and hollered. One scruffy looking man raised his hands up, his tattered shirtsleeves hung down at his elbows – not even wearing a jacket! He went carrying on and shouting about justice, about how justice had finally been served.

Justice? They call this – any of this – justice?
There’s no reason for this. There’s no fairness. Man hasn’t served any higher cause here, any ideal. There’s no justice.

Listen, now, I’m no great supporter of the gallows, but I can tolerate it in some respects, certain heinous contexts.

But what were we doing here? Setting an example to all the elephants? String up one of their own to keep them all in line?
Or what? The death of that animal, will it bring back the poor fellow that got trampled? Can we just trade the spirit of one creature for another like that?
No! No!

See, this wasn’t justice. It wasn’t justice in the slightest.

It was punishment, plain and simple. It was cowardly retribution, with no purpose, no goal and no ideal.

It was motivated by anger and frustration, understand? It was the wicked lashing of a cruel carriage driver bringing his whip against the frayed haunches of a tired horse.

But it was fear, too. There was fear in that crowd, fear of death, of the things we can’t control. And when that poor monster groaned one last time, I could feel the relief in all those dirty people, cheering and clapping at a corpse. It was a quiet relaxation that swept over the whole group, like the feeling a little baby gets after mother tucks him in and tells him a sweet little bedtime story.

It was such a shame, a real shame to see. How could men and women and those innocent children behave in such a way?

Hopefully you can write soon with some better news.




Find more responses to this week’s Writing Challenge here:


  1. A Random Short Story | Musings | WANGSGARD
  2. Second Time Around: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn | Never Stationary
  3. Housecleaning 1900′s Style | The Library Lady and Rosie Bear
  4. I grew up on an island. How did I never read this? | Andrea Reads America
  5. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | The WordPress C(h)ronicle
  6. The Day Before the Snowdryft | Project eXa
  7. My dream trip | Myriad Notions
  8. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | In my world
  9. One Night In Summer | Fish Of Gold
  10. Hallowed Canaries | field of thorns
  11. Labor Day Weekend, 2011 | Simple Heart Girl
  12. Memorial Day Weekend, 2011 | Simple Heart Girl
  13. On the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial | Lead us from the Unreal to the Real
  14. Going Back at Birth | Navigate
  15. DP Challenge – The tale of the Hiry Mammoth | Properties for sale in Cuba
  16. DP Challenge – The tale of the Hairy Mammoth | Properties for sale in Cuba
  17. Day 280: If I Had a DeLorean | Writer’s Desk
  18. To go back in time… | adventuresofaneverydaywoman
  19. The free ticket. | chey4412
  20. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | Ramblings of a Midwest 20-Something
  21. Weekly Writing Challenge : Time Machine | Simply about Life
  22. Time machine | Icezine
  23. In Our Hands | risingrave28
  24. A Peek Into My Past | Ninjas In Stitches
  25. Time Machine | Thinking Languages!
  26. The Deep Time Society: Imagining Academia and Time Travel | THIS CREATIVE REALITY
  27. The Race. « Restawyle
  28. Sulfur Island | Speculative Paradigm Shifts
  29. Time Machine | jenniferannefleming
  30. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | imagination
  31. Dark? Ages | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  32. I’m Happy Being In The Present, Thank You Very Much! | Sammi Talk
  33. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | The Rambling Rose
  34. The Girl in the hammock | thejimmieG
  35. Among the Whispers
  36. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | Sarah’s World
  37. The Metal File | lostinthisdaydream
  38. The Conversation | The 253 in the 402
  39. On Train Tracks & Stopwatches | Hullabaloo and Susie Too
  40. My Time Machine | waltbox
  41. Long In Tooth | A lot from Lydia
  42. What if I could travel through time? | Okay, What if ?
  43. A Trip to the Doctor | The Seeker’s Dungeon
  44. Bali, 1938 | A Simple Note
  45. TIME MACHINE- 50′s Dance | The School Of Minds
  46. Looking Back: The Day I Should Have Left | Between Madness & Euphoria
  47. We Can’t Turn Back Time | I’m no stargirl
  48. Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge | Christine Morgan River
  49. xyz | Layperson’s Outlook
  50. xyz | Layperson’s Outlook
  51. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | Old Glory | Shawn
  52. Royal Male | litadoolan
  53. What if we can Travel Through Time. | Free Thinkers Mag.
  54. Endure. Breathe. (Repeat) | MightWar
  55. Weekly Writing Challenge | Time Travel | Focal Breeze
  56. cycle lost | Just Thinking
  57. Time traveling to my younger self | MindBodyBreath Malaysia – Yoga in Shah Alam
  58. Time Machine | The Colours of Life
  59. Coherence Insults My Intelligence | Bumblepuppies
  60. Letter to My Future Self | the intrinsickness
  61. Turn Back the Time #fiction #addiction | Moondustwriter’s Blog
  62. Two Tone Memory | Notes of a Prairie Lotus
  63. Nature’s Second Chance | Wired With Words
  64. Weekly writing challenge | THE BIG MUNCH
  65. Thoughts Tuning Tim | A Nerdy Geek’s blog
  66. Urban Living in the Year 3000 | A Life with Limits
  67. The Future is Yesterday | cateritforward
  68. Creating Ticonae | Artfully Aspiring
  69. A no-brainer for every earth scientist: time travel! | EARTH SCIENCE SOCIETY
  70. Well, I’m Going to Hell. | meg lago
  71. Nancy: Weekly Writing Challenge | Ty
  72. How I Became a Storyteller | Pocket-Sized Musings
  73. the past and the future | whimsical mayhem
  74. The Never Know | Time Travel Writing Challenge | The Never Chronicles
  75. A Walk in the Past | Eclectic Alli
  76. Say That Again | Master of Something I’m Yet To Discover
  77. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)
  78. Time Machine | Love is always there. Between the lines.
  79. Time Machine? No Thanks. | Laughing Through Life
  80. How to deal with bad managers: Life Skills | Your Well Wisher Program
  81. “The Contact” | Lekhikaa’s diary
  82. DP Challenge: Time Travel Free Pass | This Natasha Life
  83. Mental Time Travel | Psychology Muffins
  84. A Time to Every Purpose | Love, Support, Educate, Advocate, Accept…
  85. Pneumatic | Be Less Amazing
  86. Back in Time | itsmayurremember



  1. I like the honesty in what you wrote. And the best part, something that I aim at when I try writing is to make reader feel the scene.
    I felt the scene described.

    (Which event are you talking about?)

    1. Thanks!

      I’m not sure where I first heard this story, but it’s always struck me as being cruel and unusual and worth sharing.

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