Trembling With Fear 05/21/2017

So we’ve had one potential co-editor step up who I need to get back in contact with which means things for next year could be moving forward. BIG THINGS, assuming we end up on the same page. I’ll let you know more about that hopefully soon so I don’t have to be vague on any Trembling With Fear expansions.

For submissions, we actually had a few Drabble come in this week! We’re still low on them but I feel like I can breathe on next weeks for a very welcome change.

‘Trembling With Fear’ Is Horror Tree’s weekly inclusion of shorts and drabbles submitted for your entertainment by our readers! As long as the submissions are coming in, we’ll be posting every Sunday for your enjoyment.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

The Lights

“There’s no such thing as monsters, Champ,” Benji Friedman’s father, Issac, informed him from behind the Sunday Times.

The five-year-old was sure that there was something beneath his bed at night that meant to devour him and had just given a voice to his nocturnal concerns over Eggo waffles at the family breakfast table.

“They quite simply do not exist,” the Friedman patriarch added, shaking his paper out flat to punctuate his point.

Unable to get a read on his father’s face, hidden as it was behind a phalanx of newsprint, Benji looked to his mother for confirmation.

“It’s true what your father says, Ben, under-the-bed-monsters don’t really exist,” she said.

Even Nana, present for her monthly visit from the Willow Glen retirement community, nodded her old head in agreement from across the table.

But Benji was far from convinced. He’d heard the sound of strange scratching noises coming from below him last night. Like sharpened claws scrabbling across the faux wood tiles. And the noise had carried too much weight behind it, too much heft, Benji knew, to be the mere scuttling of some tiny house mouse or even the largest of rats. Whatever it was, it was not small.

“The thing is, Champ,” Mr. Friedman said as he folded up his paper and set it aside, barely missing his plate of syrupy remains. “You’re five. And five-year-old boys have very active imaginations. I should know because I was one once.”

“Oh, and it’s not just the boys,” Nana piped in with that croaky old voice of hers. “Why, this one here was so afraid of the ol’ Boogey Man that she would weep like the prophet Jeremiah every time we sent her off to bed,” she said, referring to Benji’s mother.

“I still remember that!” Mrs. Friedman remarked with the muted half-chuckle of someone slightly embarrassed.

“And do you remember what I used to tell all of you kids whenever you were scared of something in your room at night?” Nana asked her.

“I do, I do,” Benji’s mother said, reaching across the table to wipe a dribble of maple syrup from Nana’s furry chin. “You told us that all we had to do was to turn on the lights and that all of the monsters would go away.”

“It was all we could do just to get you kids down for the night. You, and your brothers, all of you were quite the handful, oh yes you were…” Nana said, trailing off into memory.

“Well, there you go, Ben,” Mrs. Friedman said, turning her attention back to her son. “If you find yourself getting scared then all you have to do is go and turn on the overheads. And you just leave them on for as long as you need, sweetie.”

“Sounds like sage advice to me,” Mr. Friedman said, disappearing behind his paper once again. “You just go ahead and hit the lights next time you start to worry about monsters under the bed again, okay, Champ?”

Of course, he’d said it in a tone of voice that suggested he’d be more than a little ashamed if Benji were to do any such thing.

With breakfast finished, Benji’s mother cleared the plates and then ushered him off to his room to get ready. They had a big day ahead of them. Nana wanted to stop by the farmers’ market and the antique mall, and afterwards she had an appointment with the eye doctor. His mom had to drive her, and Benji was forced to accompany them because his dad had a football game to watch and didn’t care to be disturbed.

But all throughout his boring day, sitting and waiting while his mother and his Nana cooed over shiny aubergines or vintage China patterns, Benji couldn’t shake the feeling of impending doom. When the lights went out that night, he knew there’d be something waiting for him.

#

When bedtime rolled around at last–and after the area beneath his bed had been thoroughly inspected and deemed monsterless–Benji’s mother tucked him in beneath his Boba Fett sheets and comforter and kissed him gently on the forehead.

“Now, you remember what to do if you start to get scared, honey? You just get yourself up and go turn on the lights, and then poof! no more monsters, just like that!” she said, smiling down at him in the dim light.

Benji nodded slowly in response, still incredulous as hell.

With that, his mother left his room and shut the door behind her. And once more, he found himself surrounded by darkness.

#

Terrified, Benji lay there completely still for what felt like well over an hour, listening only to the soft cycling of his own breath and the night wind rustling through the trees outside his window. He listened intently, waiting upon the horrible scratching noises to commence, but he couldn’t hear a thing from under his bed.

After a while, his eyes began to adjust to the dark and Benji was soon able to make out the lumpy shapes of his bedroom furniture in silhouette all around him. But nothing seemed untoward or out of place.

In fact, he was starting to wonder if perhaps his father hadn’t been right after all, and that this whole “monster business” was simply his imagination on overdrive.

Little by little, Benji began to relax, and soon his eyelids grew heavy as sleep’s siren call beckoned him downward into its arms. But just as he was all but set to be spirited away to dreamland, he felt himself jostled from his somnolence by a familiar noise. A noise like the sound of a rusty nail being dragged down the side of a corrugated tin shack.

The scratching had returned.

Benji felt his blood run cold and panic set in. He didn’t know what to do. He lay there frozen with fear, his tiny hands white-knuckled around two wadded clumps of bed sheet, too frightened even to call for help. Not that his parents, planted firmly, no doubt, before the blaring television downstairs would have heard him, anyway.

The scratching gave way to a low, slithering sound and then a sharp and violent hiss like water being poured into a pan of hot grease. And then something bumped up against the bottom of Benji’s bed hard enough to lift it momentarily from the ground.

A wave of adrenaline surged through Benji’s body and his heartbeat grew loud enough to hear. He remembered what his family had told him about the lights and wondered if it would actually work. If the darkness brought the monster, could the light really send it howling in defeat back to whatever nightmare world had spawned it? It had to work, he thought.

It was his only chance.

Summoning every ounce of courage inside him, Benji threw back the covers and bounded from bed, the soles of his bare feet touching down upon the cold tile. There wasn’t much distance to cover and he was almost certain he could pull it off.

But as he ran for the light switch upon the far wall, a giant arm–impossibly long and almost skeletal in form but for a hideous layer of mottled flesh–shot out from beneath the bed and snatched him by the ankle. With a vice-like grasp, and its claws sinking deep into his tender flesh, the arm pulled Benji backwards, yanking him from his feet. He went down fast, his chin striking hard against the floor and pain blasting through his skull like a bolt of lightning. He attempted to scream only to find that the impact had caused him to bite his tongue nearly in two leaving his cries muffled by its mangled obstruction. And as his mouth filled with the copper taste of blood, and his fear reached a peak previously unknown, the monster began to pull him closer.

Benji thrashed about, his free leg kicking out into empty space, as he fought desperately to break the monster’s hold. His fingernails squealed against the vinyl tiling, looking for purchase, as it dragged his flailing form across the floor. He twisted from his belly and looked towards the place where he was being pulled. There in the dark below the bed was a circle of even blacker darkness, and as his body slid towards it he realized that it was ringed by rows of razor sharp teeth. A stench far fouler than any he’d ever smelled issued forth from this gaping maw, and thick ropes of saliva dripped from every tooth. Once again, he tried to scream, and once again, he found that he could not.

.           And so, in the final moments of his all-too-short existence, while this monstrous dentition sunk deep into the marble white flesh of his naked thigh, Benji cursed his parents and their awful advice in the forefront of his screaming mind. He cursed his stupid Nana, too.

Why hadn’t they believed him about the monster? And why, WHY hadn’t they realized the simple flaw in their stupid, stupid plan?

Sometimes, you don’t make it to the lights.

 

 

Matthew Gorman

Matthew Gorman is an author of horror and other speculative fiction residing in Seattle, Washington. His work has appeared in several anthologies including the latest Supernatural Horror anthology from Flame Tree Publishing.

Matthew is a huge fan of classic horror in the vein of Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Robert W. Chambers, as well as a steadfast acolyte of such modern horror luminaries as Clive Barker and Stephen King.

Necrovore

 We are the secret ones who haunt your lore.

Our kind has walked beside you from the first,

Spawning your legends of a race accurst

Who feed and thrive on Death and human gore.

Unlike our cousin vampires’ sanguine thirst,

We crave the meat, the taste of human flesh,

The thrill of killing—and when kill is fresh—

The savor of the feast when blood has burst

Forth from the rend and bite of claw and tooth.

We roam your world, ne’er long in any place,

Looking enough like you that, face to face,

In passing, none can see the hidden truth:

Behind those lips that never smile, the fangs;

Inside those gloves, the curve of razor claws.

With many of your missing—we’re the cause,

And take the greatest pleasure from your pangs.

At each new hunting ground, we find a spot,

Secret and dark, to have our grisly meals.

The bones are picked clean, and the blood congeals.

Then—to be sure our kind are never caught—

What’s left is safely hidden in the ground

Of some deep nearby wood and buried deep,

Where Earth will long and long the secret keep.

And rarely—very rarely—are bones found.

We roam among you through this world of woe.

Few live who ever see us come or go.

When—if we meet—you see me bare my smile,

You have life left—for but a little while.

Frank Coffman

Frank Coffman is Professor of English, journalism, and creative writing at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois. A published poet, author, and researcher, his emphasis of late in literary criticism has been on the poetry of Robert E. Howard [edited Robert E. Howard: Selected Poems]. His weird/supernatural poetry has appeared in Spectral Realms, Skelos, and other journals. He is the founder of the Facebook site: Weird Poets Society. He has a keen interest in all of the genres of popular imaginative literature.

Kaidan

Yoshi awoke suddenly, unable to move, unable to scream. And scream he would’ve, for his wife hung above him—pale, moaning, and dripping wet.

She glared at him in mournful loathing, her mouth gaping, a choked gurgle coming out of her bloated throat. A torrent of frigid water came raging out of it, shooting across his face, down his nose, into his mouth.

Yoshi could not get out from under the horrid flow.

He died, drowned in the same waters that he had forced Akari under a month before, leaving her body to sink into the pond beside their hut.

Patrick Winters

Patrick Winters is a recent graduate of Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL, where he earned a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. He has been published in the likes of Sanitarium MagazineThe Sirens Call, Trysts of Fate, and other such titles.

You can find out more about him at his homepage.

Mother Knows Worst

Little Maisie was a bad seed.
She was evil.
That’s what her mother would say.
And Maisie believed her.
She came home bloody more than once, more than twice, with a skinned cat staining her lap.
Hunks of flesh turned up often through her hair and between her teeth; sometimes belonging to an animal and sometimes…not.
She was the neighborhood terror and a bane to the school bully.
Her mother said she was bad to the bone.
But which bone was it that made her bad?
Curious, she took out a kitchen knife.
And decided to start with her toes.

Ruschelle Dillon

Ruschelle Dillon is a freelance writer whose efforts focus on the dark humor and the horror genres.  Including the novelette “Bone-sai” as well as the video shorts “Don’t Punch the Corpse” and “Mothman”.
Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and online zines such as Strangely Funny III, Story Shack, Siren’s Call and Weird Ales- Another Round.
 
You can find out more about her at her homepage

Trembling With Fear 05/14/2017

Another week and another set of stories to enjoy! If you did like any of the works included, please be sure to comment to the authors in the comments below.

As usual, we’re a bit low on Drabble and if you could feel up to sharing 100 words it would be much appreciated! We’re also looking for some potentially interested editors to help out on the installments and grow this into next year!

‘Trembling With Fear’ Is Horror Tree’s weekly inclusion of shorts and drabbles submitted for your entertainment by our readers! As long as the submissions are coming in, we’ll be posting every Sunday for your enjoyment.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

The Portent

This is the last testament I shall pen on the horrors that unfolded around the incident of December 3rd, 1837. I will not go into the details of the voyage, for it was many months on brutal seas. Instead, I shall tell only of our arrival upon that rock. This brief document pertains to the voyage of Captain Manus from London upon the ‘Old Venerable’ and the fate of the crew of said journey.
The memory of my friends and crew’s execution upon that blighted isle is an image I wish not to recall, as such, I deign to skip to my own survival. That terror made manifest haunts me still, the thing from beyond the veil stalks me to this day, I fear. I imagine it may be the last testament I write, if illness does not claim me first.
I will start my recounting after the death of each and every man who had pledged to my service. I had been in the ancient construction for what felt like a full day. I had discovered each body in manners most macabre than any man should ever have to see. I resolved to flee, to escape; in that moment all the sanity left at my disposal demanded it. To this end, to save myself from suicide and other comforts, I ran away from.. It..
I peered, the gleaming flicker danced along the frame, spilling light down the stone hallway. The thumping footsteps subsided. Perhaps it tired or lost my trail, I could not allow the hope of either eventuality. I turned, fumbling through the archway, catching my sodden garments on the dry stones edge, ripping them further. The oppressive miasma forced its way into my nostrils; it’s unnatural pungency stinging the senses with the very offensiveness of it. How had it come to this? To what end had my fellows come when they beached this pitiless rock? The question that burned deep within my mind, the question that wakes me in fever when sleep ever takes me; what was the being I had glimpsed? That wet, glistening, nameless and formless thing. The human mind was not made to endure such sightings. Yet still, no matter the amount of narcotics I thrust into my veins, I see it.
Instinct pushed me onward. My breath came in gasps as I spied the stair that we had ascended, too blind in our rush for riches. Perhaps a hope was left in this place which sought to suffocate the dreams of man. I crossed the corridor quickly, taking pains to conceal my rush and began my descent. Then the rasping again. I can’t help but convulse somewhat as I write this. It was close. Close enough to echo from the bottom stair. The pulse that pounded in my veins accelerated further. How? How did it pass so quickly? From what pit of an unknown hell had this abhorrence been spat forth?
I doubled back, picking up pace. I still remember how my heart beat was like a cacophony in my breast. I wanted out. I slipped into the hallway again, hoping and praying to God this wretch had spared the fate of the others. There was no sound now. I allowed myself, foolishly, to hope it had gone and as I lay there, miserable and pathetic, I thought it had.
But then it came again. The guttural rasp of air through a violated mouth carried to my refuge and the terror returned like hands around my throat. That noise… It was like nothing the natural world has ever birthed. The palpitations threatened to overcome me. I was unsure if I was exerting extraordinary will, or if I was frozen in a grip too strong to overcome. As I hardened the fabric of my soul to the dread, I took one final, sharp breath. That was nearly my undoing. Silent, but not silent enough.
The grotesquery had spied me. Perhaps he always had. What came next was not meant for mortal comprehension.
The creature, for it could be described no other way, spoke to me. No language of man, no syllables devised by a sane mind. The noise. The thundering, agonising noise of its speech was like the roaring pistons of a dreadnought. At the same time, they seemed to suck the life out of the world. Like the numbing cold that follows a severe burn, they imprinted in my mind.
“Do you fear me?”
I collapsed against the wall, my tattered form destitute.
“You have released me. For this”, it hissed “you have my gratitude. Leave and behold the calamity to come.”
I remained as silent as I could be. I wanted to rip my own veins out for fear their frantic beat would be a beacon to this abomination.
“I have taken your cohorts. ”. A thin trickle of scarlet dripped past my lip, I recall the fecund taste of my own discoloured blood and the pressure that threatened to rip my head asunder. I thought “What has it done?”. A thought. Yet it heard me…
“Harken when I say, what I have done is beyond your comprehension”.
I heard it’s unnatural breaths cutting through the thick smog of this nightmare scape. It’s titanic footfalls slapping against the slab floor. It pressed towards me where I hid, it’s crushing presence threatened to squeeze life from me.
Then it came..
It was something primordial. Ancient. It was both humanoid and utterly bestial. A maw that shifted between hanging down and being ravaged and ripped to bloody shreds, to then retracting and displaying a blossom of teeth. The skin, if it was skin, shifted before my very eyes, taking on a plethora of tones which to see caused me to be seized by a wracking cough and my own blood to come from my eyes.
That truly monstrous effigy stared through me. It seen all my fears, every thought and emotion, all the shards of my sanity. And eviscerated them. When I at last seen the eyes, those orbs of such utter malice, burning in their intesity of sickly light I nearly weep while I write even now… I fled. What else could I do? I ran with rancid air burning in my breast, I ran in a state of terror induced delirium while the choking scent of putrefaction hung around me and the sinister moans pursued me. I left my companions, men I had been at sea with for years. I left them to die in that hellish domain. Those phantom discs plague me. That sighting will haunt me with tainted visitations until I am dust.

I care not for any judgement from whoever shall find and read this. It is my last words to the world and if it condemns me as a madman then so be it. I have left this quill for the past hour, my body was overcome with a sudden malady (apologies for the blood on this parchment). The hour is now ten past the stroke of midnight and I fear I won’t have the sobriety to scribble these last few words so I shall finish what I can now. I have never chosen to write of this event, nor even break breath of it.
Tonight is different. Tonight, after the last thirty years of my life spent in fever and wavering sanity, I have succumb. The beast… it has returned.
I can feel it. I feel it as surely as I feel the opiums seize me, as surely as I feel my pulse. I have felt it for months, but now… Now that palpable tension reached its crescendo when I seen them. Those eyes. Those eyes…. The eyes. They gnaw at me. They stalk me still. And now they have found me. Even as I write I feel it. I feel it. Hell has never birthed a more triumphant son than it did the day my nameless tormenter managed to leave that blighted isle…
….Out the window before me… Good God in heaven, I see them… I see it…
May God forgive my soul for the cardinal sin I am about to commit.

(Found in the empty room of Captain Manus along with a shotgun, blood stains around the writing desk and the log of the ‘Old Venerable’ of the 3rd of December, 1837. Log of voyage on file with London Constabulary. Scattered notes and journals discovered at scene, to be read and recorded. No body discovered.)

 

Shaun Mclaren

Shaun Mclaren is from Glasgow, Scotland where he stays with his fiancee and swarm of (two) rats. Specialising in old fashioned and extremely dark horror and dark fantasy to rival the grittiest as well as poetry. Currently working on his first full length horror novel, ‘Father William’, set for release later this year as well as producing flash-horror collections alongside new-comers ‘Four Horsemen Press’. Check out his Facebook page for updates on his dark secretions.

Ageless

Princess Samira locked herself in her bedchamber, then eagerly retrieved the empty oil lamp hidden in a wardrobe. She’d killed for this. Unable to wait a moment longer, she rubbed the vessel and recited the incantations she had read in the forbidden texts.

Mist arose out of the vessel, taking the shape of a man.

“Milady, I shall grant you three wishes,” the djinn said.

“My only desire is to be young and beautiful forever,” Samira said.

“Your wish is granted,” the djinn replied, bowing with a flourish.

Samira froze in place, her youth and beauty forever cast in stone.

Mary Jo Fox

Mary Jo Fox is so new at writing professionally, she doesn’t even have a website yet. However, she has had a couple of stories published already, “The Beast Outside” in the Shadows of Salem anthology (2016) from FunDead Press and “Dead End” in Deadhead Miles Vol. 2 (2016) from FoF Publishing.

The Good Son

When we left her with our three years old son she smiled and with her
strange foreign accent said:

“Your son look so good. I could eat him.”

When we later returned home, the house was filled with the lovely smell of cooking.

“I have cooked your son” the babysitter explained.

“I have cooked for your son” my wife corrected.

No she said and dragged us into the kitchen. She showed us the pot on the stove and when the steam dissolved, I could see my son’s face under a layer of vegetables and he surely looked good to me.

Mathias Jansson

Mathias Jansson is a Swedish art critic and horror poet. He has been published in magazines as The Horror Zine, Dark Eclipse, Schlock and The Sirens Call. He has also contributed to over 100 different horror anthologies from publishers as Horrified Press, James Ward Kirk Fiction, Source Point Press, Thirteen Press etc.

You can find out more about Mathias at his homepage.

Sight

Megan squeezed her eyes shut, yet nothing could stop the images from flashing within her mind.
Since the car accident, the visions tormented her.
Relentless, violent, horrific-awake or asleep- they came.
With each day they’d increased in frequency and duration. She felt like she was losing her mind.
The doctors answer to her pleas was a padded room and a myriad of pills that did nothing at all.
Megan opened her eyes to find herself surrounded by decaying corpses.
Their distended jaws mocked her with gaping smiles.
With a distraught howl, she ran headfirst into the door, praying for darkness.

Liz Butcher

Liz Butcher resides in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband, daughter, and two cats, Pandora and Zeus. While writing is her passion, her numerous interests include psychology, history, astronomy, the paranormal, mythology, reading, art and music – all which help fuel her imagination. She also loves being out in nature, especially amongst the trees or near the water. Liz has published a number of short stories in anthologies and currently has a multitude of projects in the works including her upcoming novel, ‘Fates Revenge’.

You can find out more about Liz at her homepage.

Trembling With Fear 05/07/2017

I got this one going a bit late this week due to being massively behind, thankfully it was all able to come together. As always we’re low on Drabble and I’m curious as to if any of the editors out there would be interested in a long term plan on helping out with ‘Trembling With Fear’ for weeks like this or if we were to expand next year? Please get in touch if so!

‘Trembling With Fear’ Is Horror Tree’s weekly inclusion of shorts and drabbles submitted for your entertainment by our readers! As long as the submissions are coming in, we’ll be posting every Sunday for your enjoyment.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

The Worm Turns

The life of a bartender is an interesting one. The pay ain’t great, but the stories you hear and the eccentric folk you see, are priceless. I bar-backed in a Gold Rush town at the foot of a mountain.  It was colder than the kiss of death there, but the warm glow of gold kept the town alive. Found a few of the nuggets myself back when the boom first started. Although knowing what I know now, I would have taken that money and run until my legs were nothing but bloody stumps in the snow.

 

The morning started off well; the miners were in high spirits. One of them told me they found a cave deep under the mountain. The guy said it “was not natural, and looked to be made by hands other than mother nature.” Another one chimed with excitement in his voice.

“Didn’t go too far, but we saw some pictures on the floors. Like nothing I ever seen before. Looked like big coins with a mass of snakes in the center.”

It didn’t take a genius to assume they were all hoping to find the treasure of some lost civilization.  I  thought little of it, as long they were eating and drinking.

 

With the morning meal, and pint of drink in their stomachs the miners left for that cave under the mountain. It was not long after the miners that the rest of the town woke up. Cake bakers, bankers, cobblers and constables began pouring in. Most of them were relatively new. Once the word got out of the gold boom, people began showing up from all over. Almost overnight a whole town sprung to life. All was well, and all was good, until about mid-day.

 

A stranger walked in. He was dressed from head to toe in dark purple, silky robes, the likes of which I never saw before. Or ever again. His head was hung low and obscured by a large hood. Everyone fell silent and stared at him- If you could call it a him, or her. The figure strode silently up the bar and sat on a stool. I could feel myself start to tremble. Something was not right with this stranger. Still, I offered a drink. No need to make a tense situation worse. No reply came from the stranger. Instead, a long, ornate leather glove came out from the robes and point to a bottle of whiskey on the wall behind me. Not wanting to test the stranger’s patience I grabbed a glass and quickly poured him three fingers of whiskey on the rocks. His hand then reached into the robes for what I hoped was money when a miner burst through the door.

“Cursed Beast!” he screamed at the stranger between heavy breaths.  “That monster…that monster killed everyone!” He yelled, shaking all over. His eyes darted around like a cornered animal. He aimed the revolver at the stranger, cocking the hammer with a hand that looked like there was an earthquake in his elbow. I looked down at the stranger expecting him to produce a gun of his own. The stranger looked up slightly revealing an uncanny smoothness to the face. Before he could react further, a shot rang out. The bullet caught the stranger right through the chest and embedding itself into my counter. The robed figure did not even seem to notice, and there was no blood. What happened would make any man of faith deny their god, For what diety would let something so abhorrent run amok in their creation?

 

The robed figure slowly crumpled to the floor and out from under those flowing silk garments came thousands of sickly grey worms. Everyone at the bar got up from their chairs and pressed themselves up against the far walls. Their eyes were wide and fixated on those dreadful writhing… Things. All at once they bolted across the towards the miner, crashing into his legs like a tidal wave. He screamed out in pain as they wriggled their way up his body. He began thrashing about in vain trying to knock them free. Nobody moved. Nobody helped him.

“Maybe they would be appeased by the miner and let us be,” they surely thought. Soon the worms covered every inch of his body and silenced his suffering wails. His body then went completely stiff. The worms continued wriggling and running their way up and down the body, and with a fluid motion the body stood.

 

The miner then calmly walked back across the bar and donned the dark silky robes. The gloves came next. The miner casually slid them over worm-infested hands. Then it bent down and picked up a white, pristine porcelain mask. A few people nearly fainted as it lifted the mask to it’s head. The worms slid back from the mask, revealing a freshly cleaned skull beneath. My blood ran cold at the sight of it. The miner had been picked clean. No eyes, no scalp, not a trace of tendon or hair. Even though there were no longer eyes in those sockets I could swear I could feel it staring at me.

 

It was at this point everyone vacated the bar. Tripping over one another trying furiously to get away from this thing. I could hear them screaming of demons beneath the dirt as they dispersed. I, on the other hand, was a little cornered the only way out was past that, unless I somehow jumped through a wall made of whiskey and solid bricks.

The thing then sat down, grabbed the glass of whiskey and slowly drank it in silence. After what felt like several lifetimes of screaming inside my own head, it sat the empty glass down. I smiled meekly and thanked it. The robed abomination nodded it’s head before reaching into robes like it tried to earlier. I backed up to the wall expecting to be the next one devoured as it did this. In it’s gloved hand were two gold coins which were then placed on the bar counter. The robed creature then stood up and strode out the door. I looked down at the coins. One was a mass of worms. The other was a skeleton in prayer.

 

Those two coins still sit on that counter to this day.  As quickly as it sprang to life the town became abandoned. Stories of things that that writhe and bend the bones of men drove anyone who was not at the bar that day from their homes. These days I hear little about that ghost town at the foot of the cold dead mountain. Sometimes though, I hear about some bumbling fool who claimed that they were going to recover the riches hidden beneath that dreadful place. That is also where the stories always end, because none of them return.

Yea the life of a bartender is an interesting one. Sometimes a story is just a story. Sometimes a story rings true. So if one of those interesting people you meet have a porcelain face and are clothed in robes from time unknown. Then do yourself a favor and buy them a drink, lest you become food for the worms.

B.B. Blazkowicz

B.B. Blazkowicz is a carbon-based human male from planet earth, just like all of you. He writes horror fiction for the entertainment of his fellow humans and has been previously published in Horror Tree, Horror Writers and Bloody Disgusting. He enjoys ingesting the native plants and animals through his mouth hole for nourishment. His hobbies include breathing and lying in the dark with his eyes closed for eight hours a day.

A Walk In Sunlight

The sun was shining.  There was a gentle breeze.  The grass was green and the birds were singing.  He could see the crest of the hill; he’d nearly reached the summit.  That was where he’d rest and enjoy the view.  He was surprised at himself, at his age he hadn’t expected to find the climb so easy.

He reached the top.  Suddenly, there was a high-pitched noise.  Its penetrating pitch disturbed the peace.  He grimaced, his head pounding.  He felt sick.

The nurse switched off the machine and the flat-line alarm ceased.  The doctor spoke.

“Time of death, 9.02 p.m.”

RJ Meldrum

R. J. Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010 with his wife Sally. His interest in the supernatural is a lifetime obsession and when he isn’t writing ghost stories, he’s busy scouring the shelves of antique book-sellers to increase his collection of rare and vintage supernatural books. During the winter months, he trains and races his own team of sled dogs.

He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Digital Fiction and James Ward Kirk Fiction.

You can find out more about RJ at his homepage.

No Funny Business

Eyes wide open she awoke in darkness.

Emma tried to scream.

She couldn’t.

Bound. Gagged. Blindfolded.

Terror set in.

She swallowed it down.

“I’ll set you free if you promise to behave.”

She knew the voice.

Bloody likely lecherous fool.

She choked down the anger.

Keeping it off her face, she nodded.

A blade traced down her cheek and pushed into her neck.

“No funny business sweetheart.”

The blade cut the binding.

It cut the gag.

Finally, he leaned in to remove the blindfold.

“Big Mistake”

Was the last thing he heard before she sank her teeth into his neck.

S.C. Cornett

The Midwest’s very own curvaceous author of strumpets, harlots, kink, fetish, and all kinds of other illicit and fun-filled naughty activities!

You can follow her work at http://sccornett.com.

Burnt Soup

“Mommy! Dad burned the soup. “

Closing her eyes, Linda took a deep breath. The kids didn’t need to know how angry she was, again.

“That’s okay Beth. Mom will fix it. Where’s dad?”

“in his office. He hasn’t come out all afternoon. “

Of course, he hadn’t.

Walking up she tried the door. Locked. That was unusual.

Taking out a hair pin she easily opened the cheap locks they used.

Walking in, the anger rose in her voice.

“Richard! “

The anger turned to fear as whatever was feasting upon her husband turned to her.

Hunger filling its eyes.

Stuart Conover

Stuart Conover is a father, husband, rescue dog owner, horror author, blogger, journalist, horror enthusiast, comic book geek, science fiction junkie, and IT professional. With all of that to cram in on a daily basis, it is highly debatable that he ever is able to sleep and rumors have him attached to an IV drip of caffeine to get through most days.

Oh yes, he’s also the editor at a little site known as HorrorTree.com

A resident in the suburbs of Chicago (and once upon a time in the city) most of Stuart’s fiction takes place in the Midwest if not the Windy City itself. From downtown to the suburbs to the cornfields – the area is ripe for urban horror of all facets.

You can find out more about him at: StuartConover.com.

Trembling With Fear 04/30/2017

‘Trembling With Fear’ Is Horror Tree’s weekly inclusion of shorts and drabbles submitted for your entertainment by our readers! As long as the submissions are coming in, we’ll be posting every Sunday for your enjoyment.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

The Watchers

It’s been three years since I retired from Maverick Heat & Air and fulfilled our dreams of moving to the country. Alice and I were never wealthy, but we got by. We made do during hard times, tucked away what we could in the good. Once Kyle and Molly were grown, we’d even managed to save enough to buy some land and a trailer near the lake. Fishing had always been our shared passion and in our new home, we looked forward to years together along the water’s edge.

 

But my Alice died of cancer the following spring.

 

After her illness, there wasn’t much money left. I had little desire to fish. Then, last Christmas, the kids surprised me with the kayak.

 

“Dad, you should get out on the lake again,” Kyle said as he and his sister carried in the blue plastic boat topped with a mammoth red ribbon. They set the gift beside the tree and Molly stared up her eyes wet with concern. “You’ll get exercise while you’re at it,” she said. “I know mom would want you to go on.”

 

They’d both been right. Getting back to the lake had relieved much of my loneliness, and my strength grew as I ventured further and further along the shore. Then, in early June, I’d met Burt Grimes, Sid Meyers, and the enigmatic Hog’s Leg Creek. Like me, both men were retired; Burt a gruff Army colonel from Ft. Sill, Sid a chatty software developer from Houston. Like me, they both loved to fish. Over the course of that spring, we grew to be friends.

 

Then, on an early-July morn I rowed to a meeting I didn’t realize would be our last. Fog parted in silent gray curtains before the bow of my kayak as I rowed to that meeting. The metered dip of the paddle and the hollow thump on my boat’s plastic hull were gulped down by the mists. Almost as if they hungered after any sound marring their uniform silence. I let the kayak drift and unhooked my rod. Then flicked the lure into the void; the unseen splash my only companion on the water.

 

I paddled along what I guessed to be the shoreline, throwing in the occasional lure. As the fog cleared, great stands of trees emerged along the banks, like the rough, bandy legs of giants. Burt was already anchored at the mouth of the murky Hog Leg tributary fishing rod in hand.

 

When he saw me, he glanced up and waved. “Bout time ya showed up,” he called. “Thought I’d be fishin’ alone.”

 

I eased my kayak next to his fourteen-foot bass boat and dropped anchor. “Not all of us have years of experience navigating in this crap,” I said.

 

“Speaking of which,” Bert said. “Have you heard from Sid? Without his GPS that guy couldn’t find his ass with a map and a flashlight.”

 

“Hey, you old farts,” Sid’s disembodied voice hailed from the mists. His canoe emerged from a bank of fog his angular form hunched over the oar like some primeval savage. “I heard that.”

 

Burt roared with laughter, pulling a cigar from his tackle box and lighting up. He filled the dense, morning air with its rich aroma. “So where we headin’?”  Burt keyed his boat’s ignition, the throaty motor gurgling to life. “We goin’ up the creek? Try an’ catch The Watcher?”

 

“That’s nothing more than an old wives tale,” I said. “There’s no giant fish living up that creek. If there were, don’t you think Sid here would have caught her?”

 

“Or been dragged to the bottom like legend tells,” laughed Bert.

 

Sid’s face grew serious. “I wouldn’t poke fun,” he said. “There’s more to those old stories than people let on.” He set his oar across his lap and drifted close, the metallic hull of his canoe bumped lightly against mine. “I’ve seen things along the Hog Leg, things watching from the water.” He unscrewed the cap on a silver flash and took a long swallow. With a sigh, he lowered the container and wiped a hand across his lips. “Maybe someone released an alligator into the lake. I don’t know what I saw, but I’ve been followed on this creek.”

 

“Oh jeeezus,” Bert drawled. “Not another one of those stories.” His engine whined up in pitch and the boat pulled away.” Hash out that bullshit later,” he called over his shoulder. “It’s time ta fish.”

 

I watched him slip through the thinning mist and disappear around a bend in the creek.

 

“I’m not bullshitting,” Sid said, his expression as flat as stone. “There’s something living out there. Something that watches us.” His eyes drifted to the fog-shrouded creek. “The fishing’s good but you’ll never find me out here after dark.” His eyes caught mine. “Ever.”

 

Five weeks later, the night of Sid’s funeral, Bert and I sat alone at a table inside the Cold Nine Bar reminiscing on our friend’s good nature and love of blarney.

 

“I never understood his affinity with that Watcher tale,” I said, the memory of Sid’s stoic expression while he spun his myth bringing a smile to my face. “He sure could pull your leg.”

 

“He wasn’t pulling your leg,” Bert said. He set down his beer and leaned back in the chair. “He believed every word.”

 

I laughed, but the set of Bert’s eyes halted my mirth. “You’re kidding, right?”

 

He shook his head, dropped his elbows to the table, looked me square in the eye. “I kid you not.”

In the intervening silence, Bert pulled a cigar from his jacket and scratched a match across the table. The waitress shot him an angry glance as he puffed the stogie to life. “You know how he died?”

 

“His wife said a heart attack,” I answered. I felt a pang of guilt that I’d not been with him that day. Maybe there was something I could have done.

 

“More than a heart attack,” Bert said. “The ranger who found him said he had the look of a man who’d seen the devil himself.” He blew a pillar of smoke waving it away with his hand. “Personally, I think he was stuck on that creek after dark; scared himself to death.”

 

I eyed my friend with suspicion. “You’re messing with me, right?”

 

He lifted his beer and took another languid puff. “No… I ain’t. An’ I’ll tell ya another thing,” he jabbed the cigar at me like a finger. “I’ve seen them Watchers. That’s why I carry this whenever I go fishin’,” he pulled aside the hem of his jacket revealing a holstered 1911 pistol. He drained his glass and rocked back in his chair. “I ain’t sayin’ I believe in none ah that shit, but I ain’t runnin’ into trouble without protection neither.”

 

I stared at Bert in disbelief. Sid was a dreamer, a watcher of sci-fi movies and horror flicks, more terrified of the shadows in his front yard than real dangers presented by the modern world. But Bert; Bert was a no-nonsense warrior. He didn’t believe in anything he couldn’t rub between his calloused fingers.

 

“What do the Watchers look like?” I asked.

 

“Eyes,” he said. “Eyes in the water.” He drained the dregs of his beer then banged the glass on the table. When the waitress looked over, he swirled his finger above the table in a sign for another round. Then, leaning forward, he glanced left and right as if fearful someone might overhear.

 

“I seen em’ on the shore. They got heads like toads but their bodies are …weird.”

 

Just then the waitress arrived with our pints; the subject changed. I never figured if Bert was yanking my chain or not.

 

I didn’t go fishing after that and I lost contact with Bert. The story of Sid’s death and the Watcher had nothing to do with it. My son, Kyle, and his wife, Abby, had their first child. So I stayed with them for a few weeks; helping out with the baby. But eventually, I needed to return home.

 

When I got back, I began thinking about Alice; how much she would have loved to see our granddaughter. It was soon after that I began drinking. I didn’t go out much or answer the phone. A week later, I was going through a stack of unread papers and spotted Bert’s obituary.

 

My friend had died on a Thursday, buried the following Monday, three days before I discovered his passing. I searched the internet and learned he’d drowned at the lake. Right then and there, I promised I wouldn’t shut myself away. I could picture Alice, arms crossed, her head tilted in her own jaunty fashion chiding me on self-pity. She’d want me back in the world, enjoying life.

 

The next afternoon, found me paddling along the overgrown banks of Hog Leg Creek, the September air alive with the call of cicada and buzz of grasshoppers. The sky a blue so intense the jays beat through the branches voicing their jealous protest.

 

I had some luck catching Crappie early on, adding three good sized fish to my stringer. Then, I paddled between the cattails to a spot Bert, Sid and I frequented for lunch. The creek was calm between the wide banks, the mirrored water deep. I sat munching my sandwich and staring absentmindedly at the far shore.

 

Then I saw it.

 

The first thing I noticed were the eyes. Two jet black orbs gleaming amongst the mossy twigs. When it blinked, I leapt to my feet, the thing disappearing into the depths with a heavy kerplunk. I could almost believe I’d been dreaming except for the wide ripples spreading across the flat green surface.

 

I continued my meal convincing myself I’d seen a frog. As a kid, I’d caught plenty of bullfrogs, some as long as your foot. I’d heard of Louisiana frogs as big as a newborn child. Although the eyes of this creature were the size of golf balls, I convinced myself a frog was what I’d seen.

 

Then I spotted two empty, brass casings glittering on the shore. They were .45s. The same caliber as Bert’s 1911. I imagined him killing time plinking away at turtles. Then a more disturbing target came to mind.

 

I brushed away ridiculous ideas of lurking monsters and pushed off from shore, letting the current carry me deeper into the marsh. Until the sun dropped below the towering oaks, and I spotted them again. A pair of eyes bobbed alongside a half-submerged branch to my left. I caught the gleam of that malevolent stare and snapped my head around. The thing disappeared in a widening ring of fear that spread across the water’s surface and set my boat to rocking.

 

Reeling in my bait, I plied the paddle towards the creek’s mouth set on never returning. I hadn’t taken but four strokes when, beneath my craft’s hull, a rasping scrape brought me to a jolting halt. I’d been stranded on sunken limbs before but my efforts to break free were, this time, in vain. Images of submerged goblins ensnaring my craft beguiled the recesses of my mind, but I drove these thoughts away.

 

Although the water was deep, the muddy banks were a scant ten feet distant. An easy swim. I could even carry the anchor line and once relieved of my weight, might easily free the kayak from shore.

 

As I mulled these thoughts, my paddle dipped idly in the water, then was suddenly ripped from my grasp and dragged below.

 

It was then they came.

 

Creeping out of the woods like a plague of slime encrusted locusts. In snake like slithers and deformed, lumbering hops, they sidled across the leafy shore before plopping their disfigured bodies into the water, the brackish surface seething with their activity. Then, one by one eyes bobbed to the surface, surrounded me. A forest of ebony orbs lit with the malicious red glimmer of the westering sun.

Jeff Dosser

Jeff Dosser

Jeff Dosser is a burgeoning new writer living with his family on their wooded property outside of Norman Oklahoma. He retired from the Tulsa Police after eighteen years of service and now spends his time working for the man, writing and taking long walks. Jeff’s short stories have been picked up by Yellow Mama, Down In The Dirt, and Pulp Fiction magazines.

He can often be found wandering the woods behind his rural home pondering on what lurks in the darkness.

You can find out more about Jeff at JeffDosser.com.

The Impossible Visitor

Ellen stumped downstairs, running a hand through sleep tousled hair. She saw her husband leaning against the wall. He stood with his arms crossed over his pajama clad chest and a look of contemplative concern on his face.

“Mark, honey,” Ellen said, “What are you doing? Is everything alright?”

Mark nodded toward the wall opposite. “There’s a knocking.”

Ellen followed his gaze. Where did that door go? She thought. Oh yes, that’s right. “The basement door,” she said out loud, “Did an animal get in?”

Mark now looked at her with concern. “Ellen,” he said, “We don’t have a basement.”

Carl R. Jennings

Carl R. Jennings is by day a thickly Russian accented bartender in Southwestern Virginia. By night he is the rooster themed superhero: the Molotov Cocktail, protecting the weak and beer-sodden. While heroically posing on a rooftop in the moonlight in case a roaming photographer happens by, he finds the time to write down a word or two in the lifelong dream that he can put aside the superhero mantle and utility comb to become a real author.

The Fart

His intestines screamed in pain after the great buffet. It was his first
time in Paris and it sounded so great and funny. Eat all that you want and
pay with a fart.

He couldn’t hold it back any longer. He had to fart. The gas seeped out
from his buttocks and was ignited by the candle. The flame burnt of the
string holding up the guillotine’s blade that fell down with its heavy
weight on his neck and decapitated him.

His head rolled over the floor and stopped by the sign which translated
into “The exclusive human deli store.”

Mathias Jansson

Mathias Jansson is a Swedish art critic and horror poet. He has been published in magazines as The Horror Zine, Dark Eclipse, Schlock and The Sirens Call. He has also contributed to over 100 different horror anthologies from publishers as Horrified Press, James Ward Kirk Fiction, Source Point Press, Thirteen Press etc.

You can find out more about Mathias at his homepage.

Kill Shelter

The building was grey and anonymous.  Inside, the doctor and tech set up the syringes and vials for the next batch.  The doctor was an old hand, the tech was brand new.

“Doesn’t this job give you nightmares?”

“Used to, when I first started.  But someone has to do it, it’s unpleasant but necessary.  It’s not our fault, it’s the breeders.  They just won’t stop.  The population is out of control.”

The door opened and the guard brought in a fat toddler.  The doctor sighed.

“To think they used to do this to dogs.  Now, that’s what I call cruel.”

R. J. Meldrum

R. J. Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010 with his wife Sally. His interest in the supernatural is a lifetime obsession and when he isn’t writing ghost stories, he’s busy scouring the shelves of antique book-sellers to increase his collection of rare and vintage supernatural books. During the winter months, he trains and races his own team of sled dogs.

He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Digital Fiction and James Ward Kirk Fiction.

You can find out more about RJ at his homepage.

The Unremarked Return

Jesus watched the six o’clock news on an immense flat-screen TV.

None of it was good.

He walked among the people, but no one saw him. They looked at their feet, their phones, at anywhere but others walking by.

He stopped before a church. It depicted, at the top, his own painful, drawn-out death. Seeing it took him back, made him relive the days he spent bleeding, aching, dying.

He came back to bring hope, to heal a broken world.

Shaking his head, he left the world the way it was. It was too much; he couldn’t bear this burden.

Ken MacGregor

Ken MacGregor’s work has appeared in a whole mess of anthologies and magazines. His story collection, “An Aberrant Mind” is available online and in select bookstores. He edits an annual horror-themed anthology for the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers. Ken is an Affiliate member of HWA. One time, he even made a zombie movie. Recently, he co-wrote a novel and is working on the sequel. Ken lives in Michigan with his family and two cats, one of whom is dead but still haunts the place.

Trembling With Fear 04/23/2017

‘Trembling With Fear’ Is Horror Tree’s weekly inclusion of shorts and drabbles submitted for your entertainment by our readers! As long as the submissions are coming in, we’ll be posting every Sunday for your enjoyment.

If you enjoy any of the short stories or drabbles from the authors I know that they would always appreciate a comment or perhaps take a moment to head over to their website and see what other works they have available.

As always, our inbox could use more Drabble 😉

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Paying the Bills

We were about to lose our home, so naturally, I was distracting myself with the internet. I didn’t have a job, though not for a lack of trying, so I couldn’t help with the rent. Vacuuming, doing the dishes, folding laundry, that all fell to me, because Mom was busy working and my sis was always bogged down with homework. That’s okay. I didn’t mind jobs other people might’ve called “womanly.” Mom and Dad split years ago; I had to pick up the slack he left behind. There’s no gender involved with duty.

When the owner hiked up our rent, Mom begged him to reconsider. Didn’t work. She made a decent salary, but not enough to support two kids, car payments, incidental bills, insurance, and a house. As always, she stayed positive, insisting we’d be okay. Abby stayed quiet and finished her AP work. I was scouting for boxes, ready to pack up and move.

I’m not a homebody, but most of my time has been spent at home, so I’m pretty tech savvy. Now, I almost wish I wasn’t. Almost. Of course I had a PayPal account, and I thought nothing of it when Abby asked me to explain how it worked, and what my email was. I could’ve explained so much—how proxy servers work, what’s a VPN, how to use TOR. Anything, really. Her request was a simple one, easily obliged.

I always use TOR, because I don’t like the idea of some shadowy government operative tracking my browsing history, or our internet provider selling that information off. I don’t usually go on the deep web. That day, I felt drawn to these darker reaches of the internet, compelled to explore the fringes of virtual society. If anyone was likely to understand, and help with, my family’s situation, they’d probably be there, on a secret message board, sharing secrets on how to dodge taxes and come into some quick, if illegal, money.

On one such thread were links to sites no one should visit. Places full of hackers, testing the realities of their cyberworld, and indigents, looking to celebrate all the parts of life mainstream society was too polite to even discuss. Some offered ways to make money doing it. Tons of links to prostitution. Organ farming. Martyrdom.

This last one pulled me in, its little, unassuming hyperlink glowing like a beacon, luring me to shore. I wound up on a page full of embedded videos, a note at the top saying that all content was free, but donations to the “performers” was expected. Curious, I clicked on one at random.

A recording popped up, laid over the original page, with a note that said “Streaming over: donations still accepted.” On the footage, a tired-looking man with thick stubble and haunted eyes stared into the camera. He stared for so long I had to check and make sure it wasn’t paused. Then he whispered, “Please. Make sure my brother gets the treatment he needs,” and popped a pill. A few seconds later, he jerked, body beginning to shake. My stomach lurched. I’d seen enough movies to know what cyanide does: the seizure-like tremors, the foaming at the mouth. He collapsed, limp and unmoving, in his high-backed chair, head lolled to the side like a ragdoll cast into the corner of a child’s bedroom. In the corner of the feed, a donation count steadily rose upward.

In movies, this is where someone would puke, but I’ve always had a strong stomach. I stared, open-mouthed, hands numb on my keyboard. A new box popped up over the video asking if I’d donate to the man who posted the video, titled “Frank Hibbert’s ALS Care.”

I clicked the X in the corner, getting rid of the window. I closed the man’s video and almost left the site when a new Live Streaming notice popped up, demanding my attention, blinking angrily as I tried to click the address bar. The video was titled “For the People I Love” and a thumbnail-sized feed displayed a blurry, fumbling hand adjusting the webcam’s angle. I almost clicked “Not interested” when the hand pulled away. My heart stopped. I clicked “View now” to confirm what the tiny preview window suggested.

In the footage sat my sister, Abby. I didn’t recognize the building behind her. It looked like an empty warehouse or factory of some kind. One emptied recently enough that the power company hadn’t cut electricity yet.

“Sorry if the quality isn’t great,” she said, her voice shaking. “I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’ve never live-streamed before.”

Messages started popping up—comments from those watching. I was too shocked to type, not helped by what the other users were writing. More like death-stream, from Jax818, and First time, last time, from MariaAntwonet.

“So, I’m here because… well… My family needs money. We’re broke. About to be homeless. Mom already works herself crazy. My brother… doesn’t have a job, but he’s sent out maybe fifty applications, didn’t get a single interview. He does the chores, which is more than I can say for myself.”

Economy’s shit right now.

Get on with it!

I’m not here for your sob-story.

“Right, sorry,” she sighed. “Just… figured you should know. They work really hard. They’re good people. Me, I know I’m smart and all, but college is my only real option. If we don’t have money now, how could I ask them to pay thirty grand a year so I can get a degree?”

Fumbling, I reached into my pocket to pull out my phone. Someone wrote, College is worthless anyway. I called her. If your so smrt, y u gotta pay? Genuises go 4 free. In the feed, her phone rang, buzzing along the table next to her. She glanced at it, then gave a sad chuckle. “That’s him now. Calling me.” Abby clicked the volume button, silencing the ringer.

I sent a text: I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING. STOP. CALL ME.

An anonymous user wrote, This might be the only time you’re of use to the world.

Another: “JUST DO IT!” lmao

Abby read the text message, looking confused, then her face scrunched up and she turned away. “Wow. That’s… really? You’re watching right now?”

I clicked the message bar at the bottom and typed, Yes, it’s me. Stop, now, please!

She squinted at the screen, then gave a sad smile. “I… I wish I could. But I think this was a long time coming anyway.”

Family bonding!

More like family bondage. Hehehehe giggity goo.

“Mom, Greg… I love you. Don’t ever forget that.” She picked up two power cables with clamps on the end, one red and one black, letting out a shuddering breath as I typed frantically, calling her phone, typing some more. I thought about 9-1-1, but even if they could get there in time, I didn’t know where “there” was. “For all you out there who want to know, these are hooked into a backup generator. The computer’s on the main grid. All the extra electricity… well, that’s just for me.”

She crossed her arms and snapped the clamps down on her wrists. Electricity cracked and snapped as her body began to jerk. I screamed, looking away, but wouldn’t mute it. I didn’t have the strength to watch, but I refused to cut myself off from it entirely. I was the older brother. I should’ve been providing for us all, should’ve walked the streets with resumes and begged for a job if I had to. If it could’ve prevented this.

When the harsh cacophony of her death finally stopped, I looked up. A flood of comments rushed in, blurred through my tears as I stared at her blackened, smoking body. If I hadn’t seen this footage, I never would’ve recognized her.

This just in: smart girl uses science for suicide! More at eleven.

And her brother watched? How… shocking.

DAMN. ZAP-DE-ZAP!

Shame. She wuz hot. Would’ve given $$$ for XXX.

A button popped up in the top-right corner, no doubt enabled by a moderator. It read “Donate” and an account labeled Admin posted, Suggested donations for electrocution start at two bitcoins. Double if underaged.

I wept as my phone began to buzz with email notifications. “You’ve got money” “You’ve got money” “You’ve got money…”

 

Kevin Holton

Kevin Holton is the author of more than one hundred short stories, poems, and critical works. Specializing in horror and sci-fi, he has published with Siren’s Call Publications, James Ward Kirk Fiction, and Crystal Lake Publishing, among other companies. When not reading or writing, he is a student, actor, and coffee enthusiast who spends too much time talking about Batman.

You can find out more about Kevin at: www.kevinholton.com.

What Follows in the Fog

The fog was thick enough so that the rows of trees appeared like ghosts—there, but not quite. Thick enough that Jeff breathed vapor.

He’d just broken down camp, stalling afterwards with hopes the mist might clear. There was no way of telling from where he’d come, or where next to start out. Around him, echoes of clattering rock and snapping twigs unnerved him.

In three more minutes Jeff chose a direction and walked. Something was following. He turned, curious, and saw the children, dressed in virginal white, following him at a distance, fading in and out of the fog.

Erik Bergstrom

Erik Bergstrom spends his days crafting and editing digital content for automotive marketers, and his nights releasing steam by writing gloomy fiction. His other interests include movie clubs and attending local pro wrestling shows. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and too many pets.

Raking

Shay’s fingers raked down his back, drawing blood.

Laughing at his whimper.

Last night he had said he liked it.

Telling her to hurt him.

Smiling she dug in deeper.

Last night he had been on top when this was happening.

Now he was strapped in, facing a mirror.

He couldn’t see the blood running down his back.

She wrapped him in an embrace and dug into his chest as well.

Whispering in his ear that it wouldn’t be long now.

Licking the blood from his back as her fangs extended.

Shay just couldn’t help but play with her food.

S.C. Cornett

The Midwest’s very own curvaceous author of strumpets, harlots, kink, fetish, and all kinds of other illicit and fun-filled naughty activities!

You can follow her work at http://sccornett.com.

Oddworth’s Silent Partner

“Congratulations,” said the hostess. “You’ve survived Oddworth’s House of Horrors. Exit to your left.”

The guest, still trembling from the experience, looked up. “It seemed so real,” he moaned, recalling the sagging floorboards, the shaking walls, the apparitions.

The girl shrugged. “Amazing what you can do with trick wires and holograms.”

As the guest left, an invisible presence slammed the door shut. The walls warped, and the framed certificate of poltergeist infestation fell to the floor and shattered.

The hostess braced herself as the air grew noxious. Then, an unearthly shriek:

“TRICK WIRES!? HOLOGRAMS!?”

Oddworth’s benefactor, it seemed, was offended.

 

Madison McSweeney

Madison McSweeney is a writer, poet and communications student from Ottawa, Canada. In addition to horror and science fiction, she writes a lot about the Canadian and international music scene.

Her work has been published in Dark Horizons: An Anthology of Dark Science Fiction, 365 Tomorrows, and The Fulcrum (the University of Ottawa’s student newspaper). Her fiction and non-fiction work can be found on rantsandwritingsblog.wordpress.com and cloudshadeblog.wordpress.com.

Trembling With Fear 04/16/2017

‘Trembling With Fear’ Is Horror Tree’s weekly inclusion of shorts and drabbles submitted for your entertainment by our readers! As long as the submissions are coming in, we’ll be posting every Sunday for your enjoyment.

We’ve had a nice influx of short stories as of late, too much for me to quickly keep up with but I’ll be sending out a slew of responses hopefully this upcoming week! Drabbles, we’re sadly always low on. With the response we’ve had I’m exploring ways to expand TWF in the future and have a few ideas though a couple of them would require a co-editor of sorts.

We’ll see how that plays out. Until next time – enjoy some Sunday horror!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

The Heart Song

By Timothy Rock

     “I wanna stop, Mama. It hurts.” Desiree said. She was bent over the family washbasin, her hands plunged deep into the ice filled water.

“You’ll do no such thing.” Mama said “If you move those hands, I’ll whip you good.” There was the quick rapping of wood on wood; the spoon, Desiree thought, striking the table.

Mama marched across the room behind her. Desiree heard her heavy steps on the dirt, the opening and closing of cupboards, the rattling of jars and the clanging of pots; a frustrated grunt then a squeak of exaltation followed by the dry, scraping din of metal.

Desiree couldn’t take it anymore. Her hands felt warm and tingly, alive with cold fire. She removed them from the icy water.

The pain was quick and sharp. Mama grasped Desiree’s hands and submerged them back under the water. The wooden spoon was in her other hand. The pain on Desiree’s neck brought tears to her eyes.

“I know it’s hard, Dezzy.” Mama said. “It’s always hard the first time, but you need to do this. Only dead hands can find a dead heart. A few more minutes, then you can move.”

Desiree nodded okay and Mama disappeared again. The minutes passed. The quiet ruffling of sheets as Mama finished setting up, then: “It’s time, sweetheart. You can move, now.”

Desiree got up, her legs stiff and her hands heavy. Her normally dark skin was ashen and lifeless.

Papa lay on the table, dead, and naked save for a washcloth over his eyes and a towel to hide his decency. Mama stood over him, the Special Knife gripped in both hands.

Mama beckoned to her, and Desiree went. She was scared, but everyone is scared at first. That’s what Uncle Amos had told her. Uncle Jasper and Aunt Lily, too.

Mama placed the Special Knife on the table and pulled a small hammer from the inside of her smock. She gently stroked the gray stubble on Papa’s cheek.

“Your Nana’s Mama called it the Heart Song. The beat.” Mama said, her fingers searching over Papa’s ribs. “It’s the strength of your life force. The first time I introduced Papa to your Nana, she was out of her skin with excitement. Said she could hear Papa’s Heart Song through the walls. Said he had good ribs. ‘Singing ribs’. Acoustics like a goshdarned opera house.’”

Mama’s finger settled on a rib just below the sternum. When she was certain of her choice she brought the hammer down hard. The chosen rib snapped like dry wood.

“The Heart Song keeps on after you die. Like a band that continues to play even though its conductor has left.” Mama smashed another rib.

“But it can’t be found with living hands. No, only dead hands can find a dead heart.”

Desiree watched as Mama made the incision between the smashed ribs, burying the Special Knife to the hilt and opening a glaring red mouth.

“Your father loved you, Dezzy. He would have wanted this.”

Mama guided Desiree’s cold hand into her father’s broken ribcage. The heat was intense, like a vice. She pushed through it, glancing off tissue and broken bone until she found what she was looking for: a knot. Her fingers wrapped around her father heart.

“I don’t feel it.” Desiree said, panicking. Had she done it wrong?

“Just wait, dear.” Mama said.

Desiree waited, her hand gripping the soft tissue. Then, she felt it. A beat.

“I feel it, Mama.” Desiree said. It was picking up, becoming stronger with each thrum.

“Pull.” Mama ordered.

It only took one tug to pry the organ free. Desiree pulled it out into the open air. The heart beat in her hand like palmed thunder. It made her mouth water.

“Your father’s heart was strong, dear. It has a lot to offer to you. Take it.”

Desiree’s hesitation evaporated. She tore into the heart greedily. The taste was intoxicating. Her father’s heart seemed to beat on her tongue, between her teeth.

Mama said something, but Desiree couldn’t hear her. All she could focus on was the taste, the hot blood, and in the back of her head, a high, singing chorus.

 

 

Tim Rock

Tim resides in central Pennsylvania, on the cusp of obtaining his bachelor’s degree. When he isn’t working at the bar or studying for law school, he writes, and he one day hopes to make something of it. His previous work can be found in the first issue if MYTHIC MAGAZINE.

Norman’s Bunny

Norman took Archie with him everywhere. The pub, the bookies, the Social.
‘He loves that bunny of his,’ the pub landlady said.
‘Like his other half,’ intoned Mike who worked at BetzRUs. No one saw Norman’s wife much. Archie was cuter anyway.
Flashing his winnings though cost Norman his benefits.
Worried, Mike dropped by with some supplies. A huge pot sizzled on the hob.
Beside it sat Norman. Alone. Stirring the stew.
Shocked Mike exclaimed, ‘Not Archie?’
Relieved he spotted the sleek rabbit snoozing nearby.
Norman laughed. ‘Course not mate. I’m not a savage. It’s the wife in the pot.’

Alyson Faye

Alyson trained originally in the UK as a teacher/tutor. She wrote a couple of children’s books which were published by Collins and Ginn. Now she lives near Bronte terrain in Yorkshire with her teen son, partner and 3 rescue cats. She writes noir Flash Fiction (some of which is published on line) andspooky longer tales (3 are available for download on www.www.alfiedog).She has a collection of her Flash fiction coming out soon from Chapel Town Books in the UK. She enjoys old movies, singing, and swimming. She is a confirmed chocoholic and is still hopeless at maths. Her blog is at http://www.alysonfayewordpress.wordpress.com.

Burn

Bound to the stake, she grimaced as the flames licked her bare feet; not from pain, but for the farce she’d endured for months.
Now that it was over she saw no reason to pretend anymore.
The heat from the fire caused the skin to split along her legs, and she glared down at the gathered crowd as the skin fell away in chunks, revealing red, molten flesh.
They gasped in shock and horror as the fire danced up her body, igniting her true form to reveal itself.
She laughed as her scalp fell away to reveal her monstrous horns.

Liz Butcher

Liz Butcher resides in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband, daughter, and two cats, Pandora and Zeus. While writing is her passion, her numerous interests include psychology, history, astronomy, the paranormal, mythology, reading, art and music – all which help fuel her imagination. She also loves being out in nature, especially amongst the trees or near the water. Liz has published a number of short stories in anthologies and currently has a multitude of projects in the works including her upcoming novel, ‘Fates Revenge’.

You can find out more about Liz at her homepage.

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