Trembling With Fear 07/02/2017

Another week and another set of stories to enjoy. Hopefully, next week I’ll be able to make the incredibly delayed announcement for a partial expansion of ‘Trembling With Fear!’ On a fun side note, I’m actually getting caught up on submissions for both short stories and drabbles!

‘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

Silver & White

The man didn’t want to be up here on these floors.  It was too noisy, too busy, too loud.  There were too many people, too many sensations.  He tried to tune it out, worked hard to keep his gaze firmly lowered as he pushed past the nurses in their trim, white uniforms.  He prayed they wouldn’t stop him, wouldn’t question him, and they didn’t.  They paid him no mind, just smiled and nodded as they wheeled the sick and decaying along faded linoleum on rattling, silver wheelchairs.

The elevators seemed to take an eternity to arrive.  The man could do nothing but wait, his heartbeat thundering in his ears like a distant, late summer storm.  It was during this eternity that he began to doubt himself, began to waiver.  Yet despite the strong urge to run, as soon as the elevator finally dinged its hollow sound and the silver doors slid open with a shake, the man stepped inside without hesitation.

It was the air.  That was the first thing he noticed upon exiting the elevator.  The air was sterile.  The smell of nothingness intermingled with an occasional whiff of ammonia or the sour stench of bleach.  It filled the hallway.  The man could almost feel it seeping into his pores, clinging to his clothes.  He hurried on, not looking back.

The door handle was cold to the touch, as was the door, and when he opened it, he was met with more of the icy chill, like a tangible manifestation of his own inner soul.

He examined his surroundings.  All was silver and white.  Polished metal cabinets lined the walls.  Trays with silver tools sat upon silver tables with clean white tablecloths draped about them.  The room was utterly dead, and the man knew all who dwelt within were dead as well.  As he turned to take in more of the still room, he was met with his own reflection in a thin silver mirror over a white porcelain sink.  It was a startling sliver of life in an otherwise lifeless setting.  He almost didn’t recognize himself and started suddenly at the image staring back at him.  He was thin and homely, with sunken in cheeks and eyebrows too bushy for his long, plain face.  He was wearing plain clothes, plain shoes, had a plain haircut…in fact, his entire being was screaming out in plain.  His manner suggested a shy, fragile man who probably had little contact with the outside world.  He had never had a girlfriend, or even a true friend for that matter.  He was the one picked on at school, the one always average but never above.  He was the person everyone looked at on the bus but never really noticed.  He was a tired, scared little man who had finally gone off the deep end but was afraid of drowning, and it showed in his every hesitant movement and gesture.

He maneuvered cautiously through the silver and white room, carefully winding his way around the metal tables until he arrived at the far wall.  This far wall was silver like the rest of the room.  Cold, metallic, lifeless, it had large drawers all along its face with numbers and letters scribbled above silver handles on pieces of white tape.  Trembling, the man reached out and grabbed one of the handles.  He gingerly pulled.  It slid open without a sound, and the man gasped.  The sudden intake of cold air made him cough, and as he coughed, he turned to see another man standing just a few yards away with another drawer from the long silver wall open in front of him.

As he turned, the other man turned as well, and their eyes locked.  Immediately, a sheepish, embarrassed look crossed both men’s faces.  Ashamed, they reacted as if they wanted to turn away, but some force seemed to hold them locked in a helpless, awkward stare.  The one was a fractured, mirror image of the other, as were the compulsions that led them both to this cold room in the dead of night.  Slowly and deliberately, both men pushed the drawers back into the long wall and stepped away.  Without a word, the stranger then quietly retreated into the shadows.  A moment later, a door creaked, and he was gone.

The remaining man stood rigid and still, breathing in the silence.  He looked down at his hands intently, held them in his gaze for a long moment, then reached over and picked up a silver tray from a nearby table.  He watched as his reflection distorted and cascaded, morphing into hideous caricatures.  Terrified, he dropped the tray, and for the first time in his adult life, unlocked the door hiding all of his innermost secrets, needs, desires, and emotions, screaming the scream of a dead man.

Joshua Shioshita

Joshua Shioshita


Joshua L Shioshita is a film school drop-out and occasional musician currently residing in the U.S. where he works an office by day and writes by night.  He is a proud lover of all things eerie and macabre much to the annoyance of his beautiful wife and two ferocious cats.
You can visit him at Joshua Shioshita

Date Night

Watched by dead eyes, me and Billy crack open the crypt’s padlocks.

Our bag tinkles with cans; this is as exciting as it comes in our little
town.

‘Ladies first,’ Billy sniggers.

We stretch out across the tombs. I’m lying on a Knight.

We drink, smoke and cuddle. I shouldn’t do the first two though. Not in
my condition.

Behind me I hear a rustle. Turning I spot her- bloodstained dress,
bashed in head, blue lips.

She looks familiar. I turn to Billy. ‘Is that…?’

No warning; his fists pulverise my skull.

Like trash, he stows me away. Smiling constantly.

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 online) and spooky 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.

Darkness and Light

The night was darker than usual.
No moon or stars lit her path.
The heat from the sun had lingered.
Carrying her coat in her arms she didn’t hear him creep up behind her.
There were no streetlights to cast a glimmer on the blade he raised and plunged it deep into her back.
She crumpled to the ground. Her screams muffled by the pungent hand held firmly over her mouth.
Piercing evil eyes met her panic as the knife sank through her flesh, stabbing her heart.
A bright light caught her eyes as her last breath left her body.

Amanda J Evans

Amanda J Evans writes paranormal and fantasy novels as well as children’s stories. Amanda lives in Oldcastle, Co. Meath, Ireland with her husband and two children. She was published in several journals and anthologies in 2016. Her first novel Finding Forever was published in 2017 and her forthcoming title Save Her Soul will be released in the summer of 2017. Amanda has also secured a publishing deal with Handersen Publishing for a children’s book and this will be released in the fall, 2017. Amanda is the author of *Surviving Suicide: A Memoir from Those Death Left Behind, *published in 2012. You can find out more on her website www.amandajevans.com.

Time of Death

I wake to find myself in a nightmare.  Instead of my bedroom, I’m in a white room with dozens of other people.  A small man with a clipboard stares at me.  On the wall there’s a number.  10.38.

“103.  Below average.”

“What?”

“The total should be closer to 107.”

“What?”

“Deaths.  107 deaths per minute.  That minute.”

He points at the number.

“I’m dead?”

He nods.

“So, what’s next?  Judgement?”

“No.  You spend eternity with those who died at the same time.”

“What about heaven?”

“No heaven, no hell.  Just this.  It’s the most efficient way.”

I start to scream.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Trembling With Fear 06/25/2017

So, we’re finally about caught up on submissions. I’m hoping by the time you read this it means I’ve gotten back to everyone so if you haven’t heard on your sub, please reach out! I believe there might be a couple missing from when I moved around our e-mail. That being said, we could use a few new regular AND drabble submissions!

Also, I’m hoping next week that I’ll be able to announce a co-editor for TWF which will lighten my all too busy load as of late and lower our turn around even more! (A key step in some of the changes which we’ll be looking to make 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 Long Road to Immortality

It was dark. The road seemed to have been meandering forever. Her eyelids felt heavy and sleep was whispering sweet words in her ear that she’d already been half-seduced by. She’d passed through hill after valley, hamlet after village, and still her GPS pressed her to go on. The fuzzy white halos of light that were her headlights against the fog that surrounded the car had a comforting, relaxing aura about them, which only added to her wooziness.

Up ahead darkness loomed, somehow darker still. The car’s engine continued its purr, pulling her toward it. Closer now, she could see skeletal fingers through the fog. Trees, barren with the burden of the frozen winter. She zipped through the forest, her GPS still silent, its long, slender blue line still urging her on. The road narrowed and the tips of branches began tapping at her windows intermittently.

“In four hundred metres, turn left,” said the woman’s voice on her GPS.

She squinted, peering in to the murk. Could see nothing. Still she drove on.

“In one hundred metres, turn left,” the voice again. “Turn left.”

She slowed almost to a stop and could just make out a dirt track veering off to the left. She turned, the car bumping off the smooth tarmac on to bumpy earth and stone.

“Your destination is in forty metres, on your right,” came the voice of the GPS once more, the screen illuminated, clamouring for her attention to rate the directions she’d been given. She pulled in to the clearing on the right, swiped away the message on her screen and turned off the engine. She fastened her thick coat, pulled on her woollen gloves, tightened the scarf around her neck and stepped out of the car. She looked around. Nothing. No wait, a shape. She stepped towards it. Out of the gloom appeared a well. Old fashioned with a slate roof and a crank that could have been centuries old.

The wind blasted through the bones of trees that surrounded her as she approached the well. She looked back at her texts from him. ‘Meet me at these co-ordinates,’ the last one read. She looked around her again. Nothing. No-one.

She bit the middle finger of her right glove and tugged it off. Thumbed into the phone ‘Here’ and pressed send. The light started to dim, then brightened, a tick next to message. Delivered. She stamped her feet to keep the blood flowing in her legs. It was a frigid night. Then her phone buzzed, the screen brightly coming to life. She swiped up.

‘Do you still want to join the immortals?’ read the message in her preview.

She took her gloveless right hand from her pocket, tried to stop it trembling as she typed. ‘Of course. It’s why I’m here.’ Send. Since the first message left on her voicemail. The anonymously delivered envelopes of money that had followed. The secrets that had been revealed to her in those cryptic emails. Her ego, massaged like it had never been in her utterly unremarkable life to date, would not let her off this train now.

Another minute passed. The silence was deafening. Nothing stirred, but for the icy blasts from the north every few minutes. She looked over her shoulder to her car. Plumes of steam were still rising from under the bonnet. Then another buzz. She brought her phone to life, another message. ‘Coming,’ it read.

Then she waited. Paced. Reached out to touch the crank handle. Frozen, as she ought to have expected. She stepped backwards, almost tripping on an exposed root. Looked at her phone once again. Then she heard something. A cracking sound on the other side of the well. She tried to look, but could see nothing. Why hadn’t she brought a torch? “Hello,” she called out. No reply, but more cracking of branches. Closer. Then a figure – more of a shadow really – began to emerge from the woods.

“Hello Emily,” came the man’s voice. “You’ve come a long way. Thank you. Are you ready?”

Emily nodded. Then realised it was almost certainly imperceptible in the darkness. “Y…yes. I am. I think I am.” She shivered. She wasn’t sure if it was the cold this time, or the anticipation.

The man stopped at the other side of the well. She could begin to make out some of his facial features. “Go to the well Emily. Wind the crank.”

She stepped forward, put her gloved right hand on the dull metal of the crank and pushed. It wouldn’t budge. “It’s stuck,” she said, still trying to force it.

“It’s not stuck, it’s heavy. Two hands.”

She lifted her left hand and pushed the crank harder, it began to budge. Her muscles screamed and she felt herself starting to sweat at the weight of the bucket on the chain. It slowly rose, the effort required seeming to multiply every with every revolution. She heard creaking of the wood, but could not see in the cylinder of darkness that was the well shaft.

“Almost there,” he said in encouragement.

And then it rose up out of the darkness, that seemed to be broken like the surface of a liquid. In the wide wooden trough was a teenage boy. He was asleep. Possibly unconscious. It was difficult to see. He was wearing a filthy track suit, his hair was matted, his skin pale.

“Lock the crank, by pulling it down.”

She did as he said.

“Look down by your feet.”

She looked down. Could see nothing. Not even her feet.

“You’ll have to get closer.”

She looked at the man. His features, still out of focus in the shadows, remained impassive. She sighed and crouched, hearing her knees give off an arthritic click as she did so. She felt around with her hand, finding soil, leaves, twigs and then something solid. A knife. Her breath rushed from her. She tasted sick in her mouth. But she choked it back and stood, knife in hand.

“Now?” she asked, unable to form the rest of the question.

“Cut his throat.”

There was silence. The wind had dropped. She could hear her heart drumming, double-time in her ears.

“What?”

“Cut his throat.”

“And then I’ll-“

“-and then you’ll join the immortals. Do it.”

She lifted her left hand to the boy’s head, tipped it backward, exposing the neck. His sallow skin darkened under the pressure from her hand. She raised the blade so that the edge was pressed against his neck. Her hand trembled. She let out a breath and steadied herself. Then she pressed and slid the blade along the line of his throat. Dark blood, near-black in the pitch of the woodland, began to seep from the wound, then flow faster. The glove on her right hand began to get heavy and warm as it soaked up the blood, running over the blade. Emily looked up. He was still watching from behind the well. The boy shuddered, spluttered as his lungs gave out and then was still.

Emily released her hands from him, let them hang limp at her sides. Felt the blood already beginning to coagulate on the fingers of her cutting hand. She couldn’t feel herself breathing. Was she breathing? Her mind was thrumming with what she had just done, but she managed to find a moment to focus. She looked directly at the man, or the shape of him, at least.

“And now?” She let her question hang in the icy air between them.

“Throw the knife into the well.”

She tossed the knife down behind the trough, heard the metal clanging against the shaft once, twice, before any trace of it was swallowed up by the darkness.

“OK.” She waited for a long moment.

“That’s it,” he said. “You’re immortal now. You’ll live forever.”

“I… I don’t understand.”

“Look up Emily, see your immortality.”

She looked up. Saw nothing but the spindly branches of trees, criss-crossed over one another, hatching out every last speck of sky above. She looked back to him.

“Really look, woman,” he said. It sounded like a taunt.

She leaned her head back again and then she saw it. Above and just behind her. A red light. A tiny LED. She felt the world enter a spin around her.

“Yes, it is,” he said. She could hear him smiling. “It’s a camera. Go-pro. Night vision. Why don’t you wave to your public?” He chuckled at his own joke. First I checked in to this location, then I started the live video broadcast, and then I tagged you. You’re a social media star, Emily. There are, let me see-“ He took his smart phone from the deep pocket of his long coat “-two thousand-and-thirty-one viewers.”

“But you-“

“Am not who I said I was. And an hour from now, will be someone else entirely. What’s that?”

He turned his head slightly, his eyes darting upward.

“Sirens?” she asked, though to whom she wasn’t sure. She looked back to the road. Nothing yet. She turned back in time to see the shape of the man melting into the shadows of the forest. She knelt. And waited. And wept.

Kev Harrison

Kev Harrison

Kev Harrison is a British author of dark fiction, living and working in Lisbon, Portugal. In the past year, he has had short stories published in anthologies by Jitter Press and 9Tales Told in the Dark. In the coming months, he has work awaiting publication in anthologies by MacKenzie Publishing and Lycan Valley Press. He is also working on his first novel.

Monsters

I never liked the well in our backyard. It scared me since the day we moved in. It smelled bad—like garbage and dead cats. The walls were covered in nasty moss, and it was in the water that mommy tried to pull up from the bottom.

And it was so dark down there. I knew there had to be a monster living in it.

I’m down here now, cold and waiting for the monster to get me. Mommy says that if I’m a good girl again, she’ll let me out.

I think the monster will eat me by then . . .

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 Magazine, The Sirens Call, Trysts of Fate, and other such titles.

You can find out more about Patrick on his homepage.

Roses Are Red: Volume 1

The baby’s crying was coming from the garden. Strange, he thought, because they didn’t have children. Joanne couldn’t, she’d told him.

He donned his dressing-gown, and headed outside. The crying was faint, muffled. It was coming from the rose bush, but, he thought, beneath the roses.

Oh God. Could someone perhaps have buried…? A young mother perhaps?

He put his ear the ground. The sobs died away.

Frantic, he scraped away the earth until he came to a small bundle. Opening it, he saw a photo, and a child’s skeleton. He looked at the photo. It was Joanne, heavily pregnant.

Justin Boote

Justin Boote has lived for over twenty years in Barcelona, Spain, plying his trade as a stressed waiter in a busy restaurant. He has been writing horror stories for just over a year, and currently has 8 published in diverse magazines including for Lycan Valley Press, Deadlights Shotgun magazine, Zimbell House Publishing, Dark Dossier Magazine and The Horrorzine’s summer edition.

He is also a member of a private writer’s forum called The Write Practice where he has also acted as a judge on two ocassions for their contests.

He can be found at Facebook under his own name, or at [email protected].

Jagged Little Teeth

They gleamed in the dark

Those jagged little teeth

Chomping at the bit

Nibbling at your feet

They’re from under the bed

And scurry across the floor

Monsters in the shadows

Who live behind closed doors

They fuel our nightmares

And hide beneath the stairs

The knock at the windows

Scratching in the walls

Peace of mind is in the past

As soon as night falls

The clicking of their legs echo

As they approach their sleeping prey

A plague on the sanity

For those who’ve ended their day

They feed upon the happiness

On all who have dozed away

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.

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.

Oh, he’s also the editor of this site!

You can find out more about Stuart over at his homepage.

Trembling With Fear 06/18/2017

‘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

Mr. Jackson

Darren Phoski lifted the blind and peered out the window. He was still there. Mr. Jackson; owner of the jewellery store across the street. Jackson had been watching him for over two hours now, and Darren was decidedly worried.

I shouldn’t be worried, he thought, if we analyse the basics. There was absolutely no way that Jackson could have seen him during the robbery. He’d been wearing a mask, and hadn’t said a single word that might have given away his eastern European accent. And besides…

So what the hell was he doing out there?

And what the hell am I gonna do about it?

Darren sat back down at the table beside the window, and with a trembling hand picked up the litre bottle of beer he was drinking. The liquid swished and foamed. Pretty much like what his head was doing right now.

The initial shock and horror was now subsiding, to be replaced by unease. Uncertainty. He looked at the bottle as though it may hold the answer or a solution to the problem, and to a certain extent there could be a relation here, he mused. Certainly, after downing the fifth since seeing Jackson the first time, there was a chance he might be imagining it. Alcohol could play havoc with one’s perceptions of things.

He decided to chance another peek. The seventh.

With the tips of his fingers, he lifted the blind, holding his breath without even realizing, and cast a wary eye out.

“Shit!” he hissed, and jumped back from the window as though it might explode at any minute.

Mr. Jackson stood across the road, dressed in his habitual three-piece black suit, arms by his side, and staring up directly into Phoski’s second-floor window. The overhead street light cast an eerie shadow around Jackson that should not have been there either. And Phoski would have sworn that the shadow moved of its own accord, albeit slightly. Swirling, expanding and decreasing as though it were breathing. Partners in crime. A dark one. Very dark.

Darren slumped back into his chair; drunk, nervous, and alarmed. He mentally recalled the robbery. It had gone perfectly. Five minutes before closing time at eight, when Mr Jackson would have no customers, people would be busy rushing home from work, and Jackson no doubt thinking of dinner, and putting his weary feet up in front of the television. He was reasonably old-near retirement age presumed Phoski-thus should provide little or no threat. By simply removing the revolver he kept hidden in his jacket, no words would be necessary. The language of guns was universal.

Jackson had looked scared, as though he might suffer a heart attack even. Phoski didn’t want that to happen. It was one thing going away for a couple of years for theft, another off for fifteen for second-degree. So, he finished the job as quick as possible before anything nasty might happen, and left. The next day, he sold the jewels for a tidy eight thousand, and life seemed wonderful again.

And now this.

Somehow that old fucker had discovered that it had been him. How, he couldn’t even begin to wonder, but then, considering that what was waiting, lurking, outside for him- and who knows what ideas Jackson might have in his head should they be re-united- it might be an idea to start looking at things in a new light

Because Mr. Jackson, owner of Jackson’s Jewellery Shop, should not fucking be there.

All kinds of drunken thoughts passed through Darren’s head. Maybe he’d read the article in the newspaper wrong? Perhaps he was shitfaced and imagining it? The guilt of what he’d done catching up with him. Could it be that…? No. Don’t go there. Because that’s impossible, right? He would be the first to accept that plenty of weird shit happened in the world-often tragic, occasionally amusing, sometimes downright bizarre-but that was the kind of shit you laughed and joked about in the bar with your buddies. The usual thing;

‘been smoking too much dope, have you?’

‘been watching too much X-Files, pal. It’s getting to ya.’

‘good idea to see a psychiatrist, don’t you think, chum?’

On one occasion, during the robbery of a gas station on Halloween of all nights, the employee’s girlfriend had startled him (scared him almost to fucking death actually) by appearing from the office wearing a zombie mask after hearing the ruckus out front. That had freaked him out, and for several days afterwards, had seriously considered a new career. An honest one. But this…

This bordered on abnormal. Beyond comprehension. Fucking neurotic.

Darren dropped the empty beer bottle. He couldn’t stay here all night, on the verge of a mental breakdown, wondering if he had finally lost it, or there really was an explanation plausible, natural. It was time to confront Mr. Damn Jackson who should be somewhere else right now, somewhere specific that did not allow for doubt or certain questions about one’s state of mind.

“Fuck it,” he said and stood up, rapidly grabbing onto the edge of the table to avoid falling back down again.

Two things were about to happen. One: some guy impersonating Jackson was going to get very probably shot for freaking him out so much, or two: Darren was going to need lots of help very probably in the near future. If he survived.

He picked up his trusty revolver, thrust it into the back of his trousers, and before heading towards the door, looked once more at the newspaper article to confirm his suspicions;

JEWELLERY STORE OWNER DIES IN ROBBERY

Andrew Jackson, owner of Jackson’s Jewellery Store, was found dead of a heart attack this morning following a robbery at his store. Police are currently investigating the robbery, but as yet have no leads…

Justin Boote

Justin Boote has lived for over twenty years in Barcelona, Spain, plying his trade as a stressed waiter in a busy restaurant. He has been writing horror stories for just over a year, and currently has 8 published in diverse magazines including for Lycan Valley Press, Deadlights Shotgun magazine, Zimbell House Publishing, Dark Dossier Magazine and The Horrorzine’s summer edition.

He is also a member of a private writer’s forum called The Write Practice where he has also acted as a judge on two ocassions for their contests.

He can be found at Facebook under his own name, or at [email protected].

Soul Mate

We gorge ourselves on the scents and sights of the street market. From behind the church, a lone flute pipes its melancholy notes. Lured in, we wander over to where the toppled tombstones hug the earth. A line of dancing children snakes out of the graveyard grass. One of them, a bedraggled girl, approaches with a pitiful smile showing rotted teeth.

‘Rosemary?’ She holds out her hand.

You cannot resist her call. The music tugs at your spirit. You are drifting away from me.

Selfishly I have kept you with me too long. It is time to let you go.

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 online) and spooky 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.

The Itch

There was a need she couldn’t fill.

Sex, drugs, rock and roll, she’d tried it all.

It was always there, unfulfilled.

She wanted more. Needed more.

The boys couldn’t help with lust and desire.

The girls couldn’t help in the heat of the fire.

The highs lead to lows and turned happiness to woes.

The music was a reprieve but couldn’t satiate her need.

But one day she found the solution to her pain.

An accident that happened while driving in the rain.

She’d killed her first in that dreary night.

It wouldn’t be the last. It felt so right.

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.

Trembling With Fear 06/11/2017

‘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

Cargo

Virgil can’t resist a good deed. Early in relationships, girlfriends always tease him about it.
“You’d throw yourself in a wood chipper to save a squirrel’s nuts,” the sweet gal from Georgia had said, her southern accent fumbling over a few drinks. This was during their first at-home date (his home) as he explained stories behind Peace Corps pictures.
“It’s just who I am,” he replied, bragging yet flirtatious.
“It’s just who I am,” he repeats, staring at the back of the van a few car-lengths ahead of him.
The doors are waves of fresh white over warped metal, paint splashed on patches of un-scraped rust. Obviously, the van is a throwaway intended for a few human trafficking trips, dressed up just nicely enough to pass for inconspicuous. Had it not been for one of the two back windows, he wouldn’t have noticed. Greyish curtains hang down. They don’t necessarily warrant suspicion, but what first caught his attention was the lower, left-hand corner of the right window. A solid substance– a board perhaps– is broken behind the glass in that section, and a piece of curtain was being tugged ever-so-slightly. He saw this at a stoplight and began following the van. Now he is sixty miles from home (his intended destination), in a town he vaguely recalls from the night he met the foul-mouthed girl from Nebraska.
Finally, gas station ahead, the van’s turn signal blinks. Virgil makes sure that the driver pulls in and commits to a pump before he drives into the side parking lot. He leaves his vehicle and peaks around the corner of the Go Mart to see a bald man with a handlebar mustache exit the van and step inside. He will pre-pay, obviously, in cash.
There’s a line of customers, so Virgil walks to the van and peers in the only open space of the back window. Four women, tied; they see him. Their throaty screams are barely muffled by ball gags. Sudden pain bites Virgil’s bicep. The bald man has grabbed his arm.
“Thought you were tailing me, you son-bitch!”
With his free hand, Virgil points at the window.
“Aluminum vinyl next time. One of your girls chipped off a corner of wood and was tugging at the curtain. Also, invest in better sound-proofing. Go to a music shop and tell them you’re building a studio.”
The bald man releases Virgil’s arm. His jaw drops the length of his mustache.
Virgil checks his watch.
“If you don’t mind, I really should be going. I followed you far away from home. Safe travels, friend!”
Back inside his car, he looks in the rear-view mirror and smiles at himself. He spots the reflection of groceries in the backseat. Georgia, Nebraska, Ohio, and Utah are probably very hungry (it’s not like they can leave the basement to get food), but he’s sure they’ll understand when he tells them. He can’t resist a good deed, and he wants to set the right example for their soon-to-be children.

Alexander Lloyd King

Alexander Lloyd King

Author Alexander Lloyd King is a proud resident of Sistersville, West Virginia. He appreciates his small town and finds inspiration there.

Posted: No Hunting

Margaret was kind, pleasant, and charming. Athlete, great grades, gorgeous. Everyone should’ve hated her, but she was so damn nice.

Her classmates began to turn up dead and butchered after Halloween. Margaret smelled the rancid stench of troll on the bodies. She searched until she found the trolls’ bridge and pounded the railing with a baseball bat.

Her glamour vanished when the seven trolls approached. “Boys, you’ve been hunting in my territory. Mama was a hellhound and Daddy was an Imp. You are so screwed.”

She took batting practice, caught the runners, and made it to homeroom the next morning.

Robert Allen Lupton

Robert Allen Lupton lives in New Mexico where he is commercial hot air balloon pilot. He writes and runs every day, but not necessarily in that order.

Recent publications include short stories in the following anthologies:

Uncommon Origins
Twelve Days
Hindered Souls
Potters Field #6
Worlds Unknown #3

The novel, Foxborn, was published by West Mesa Press in April of 2017.

Other short stories are available online from “Crimson Streets”, Daily Science Fiction, and two drabbles have been published in “Trembling With Fear”.

“Running Into Trouble”, a collection of 15 fantasy, science fiction, horror, adventure, and humorous stories, all with running as a central theme, will be published in July of 2017. The novelette, Dejanna of Mars, will be published in August 2017, and the second book in the Foxborn series, ‘Here There Be Dragons,” is scheduled for February 2018.

Other short stories will be published online and in anthologies through the year. Visit Robert’s author pages on Amazon and Goodreads for more information.

Formative Experience

Mary had her hands around the grip, fingers near the trigger. Her glassy eyes didn’t see much beyond the barrel.

“Hey now,” Mike said. “Give it here. I know you don’t want to hurt me, right?”

No response. Chrome gleamed in the flickering light of the bedroom’s energy saver bulbs. Mike took a step closer. Another. Not sure if Mary saw him.

She turned, pointed, bumped the trigger. A flash broke his heart, each chamber neatly separated. Mary wailed, with no father left to comfort her. The evening news read, “Toddler kills father. Up next: Live Coverage of Chili Cookoff!”

Kevin Holton

Kevin Holton is the writer behind more than seventy short stories. His work has or will be published with Siren’s Call Publications, Radiant Crown Publishing, Mighty Quill Books, Eos Quarterly, and Hellbound Books, among others. When not reading and writing, he’s an archivist who spends his time meditating and watching Gotham.

You can find out more about Kevin at his homepage.

The Glow in the Mirror

Looking at my reflection I noticed a slight glow at the back of the mirror.
I wasn’t sure at first and turned to see if I’d left a lamp on, I didn’t.
I peered closer, moving my face nearer the glass.
The glow appeared brighter, glowing.
A shape started to emerge in the light, moving, forming, solidifying.
I moved closer, my nose almost touching the mirror, watching the shape appear.
Two eyes, a nose, and a smile that turned sinister.
I pulled back, not quick enough, as the shape emerged.
A hand shot out dragging me into my glass prison.

Amanda J Evans

Amanda J Evans writes paranormal and fantasy novels as well as children’s stories. Amanda lives in Oldcastle, Co. Meath, Ireland with her husband and two children. She was published in several journals and anthologies in 2016. Her first novel Finding Forever was published in 2017 and her forthcoming title Save Her Soul will be released in the summer of 2017. Amanda has also secured a publishing deal with Handersen Publishing for a children’s book and this will be released in the fall, 2017. Amanda is the author of *Surviving Suicide: A Memoir from Those Death Left Behind, *published in 2012. You can find out more on her website www.amandajevans.com.

Trembling With Fear 06/04/2017

We’ve got another fun week of fiction for everyone. Due to some real life issues, I haven’t had a chance to get further into details on upcoming changes but I have some (potentially) good news to share with everyone soon! As always, we’d be happy to take on more drabble 😉

‘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

What the Dog Tells Me

When Aunt Martha leaves, I watch Atlas.

Atlas is a Great Dane whose head reaches the middle of my chest when he is on four legs. He is slow and cautious, a shadow that lurks in the corner of my sight and watches me from behind corners and the backs of hallways. For a long time, Atlas does not approach me. Does not trust me. He does not make a sound. His growl is low and shaking, a rattling fear that crawls along my lower spine like spider-legged paradise. When I sleep I imagine I hear him outside my door, his heavy open-mouthed breathing an infernal, lingering pantomime.

But in the mornings Atlas is silent and impassive.

I know I am imagining things.

Aunt Martha’s house is big and lonely, deep into suburbia where she has cut herself off from any relationship with her neighbors. Her house is full of photographs of a family that has grown old and apart; sons who speak only through email, daughters who send Christmas cards, pictures of grandchildren who she has only held once before. They stare out of their glossy two-dimensional lives and look into the vast now-emptied home that they left behind.

Atlas is in some of these pictures, but he always looks the same. No grey hairs, sagging jowls or sad eyes from the living shadow whose puppyhood is as ill-documented as the rest of his history. My cousins do not talk about the dog when I see them, nor do any of them have funny or cute stories which people so often ascribe to their animals. Instead they shrug, change the subject and say that Atlas has always been around.

I come under the impression that Atlas is not watching me out of suspicion but instead out of curiosity. As I water the plants and clean the shelves I feel his eyes on pressing on my shoulders shoulders, a physical weight which I can only take so long before my back is breaking. When I turn, I see a black silhouette retreat back into a place unseen. I cringe and whistle my fears of Atlas away. Increasingly I believe that he hates that I am here and am filled with the unnatural sensation that I am not the master in this house.

He watches me while I eat, sitting almost as tall as I stand, silently observing from across the room. I keep the television and radio off because the hair on the ridge of his back stands up when they speak. Atlas enjoys silence in his home, and in its totality he watches me until I lock a door. From the other side of my sanctuary I sleep uneasy in the knowledge that he is awake, sitting laying silently on a couch with his eyes open; waiting for me to unlock the door so that he may continue his persecuting vigil.

In the hazy moments between sleep and waking up, I believe I see him peering over my bed. He is massive in the dark fog between dream and reality, reaching the ceiling and bearing down on me with burning red eyes. His breathing his hot and infernal against my face.
I wake up in a sweat, and venture out to make sure Atlas is asleep.

But I cannot find him.

I do not sleep for the rest of the evening. It would be good, I imagine, if he were to leave. He is not a natural thing. But I know that he will be there in the morning, watching me as I reluctantly come out of the bedroom. I will need to eat.

And so will he.

On the fifth day, he finally speaks.

His eyes slide aside to reveal panels of shimmering white light. A horse moan issues from his long mouth, a tantric chant that begins with a guttural grown and crescendos in a man-like scream of rage. His meaty paws come down on my chest, and in a moment I am paralyzed under him as his teeth come closer and closer to my nose.

“Leave.”

And after that he is off of me. I wonder the house in a daze, splashing water on my face from the kitchen sink. I feel his stink still on me, and I wonder if he truly said anything at all. I wonder if Aunt Martha’s hollow estate is really a good place for me. It is lonely here, and I am uncomfortable. I recall the words of one cousin who from the rim of their whiskey glass told me that he never wanted to go home. That there was a reason that his father left Aunt Martha.

That the house was haunted.

My breathing is heavy and labored, my hands shaking as stammering weeping comes out of my mouth. I am on the verge of real weeping, remembering that I had schedule interviews for the week I was to return from Aunt Martha’s. If this is not real, if I am so disturbed as to so vividly imagine the low, metal-on-metal grating of his voice, then I know I am in no shape for interviews.

Then I feel Atlas’ stare, and I wonder if I have ever been anything but insane.

In a delirious moment, I imagine the house is laughing with him. Then he shakes his head and leaves. I understand how hopeless I truly am. I clutch myself and cry on the kitchen floor.

When I wake up, he is peering over me.

He calls me horrible things, obscenities and slurs that are so foul that they cannot describe a human being. He tells me of the awful things he wants to do, the profane and abominable sins he wishes to unleash on me, on the world. He dips his head to my ear and begins to sing a song: He sings that the worm eats the man, that the worm grows the dirt and that all things walk on a bleeding planet. I begin to weep and he bites into my shoulder, telling me to stop my worthless screaming and that if I will do one thing right in my life it is to listen when he speaks.

Atlas tells me of the world that has been woven into ours, about the evil men that live under the clear surface of water, the twisting snakes that crawl under the gnarled bark of trees. He sings about the black planet that moves closer and closer into our solar system, carnivorous and wide he says it will swallow us all. I feel warm and Atlas roars with laughter.

Men, he says, are incapable of dealing with fear in a rational manner.

I open my eyes and Atlas is gone, the house is quiet.

Aunt Martha will be home tomorrow.

 

 

S. L. Edwards

S. L. Edwards is a Texan currently living in California. He is a writer of dark and fantastic poetry and fiction, and also the co-creator of the webcomic “Borkchito: Occult Doggo Detective.” His work has appeared in Turn to Ash, Ravenwood Quarterly and Weirdbook.

You can follow his work on Amazon!

Footprints

I’ve been following the beast for days

Armed with vanishing politics and torn flags

I’ve got a can of gasoline and my monkey has the matches

Ever since the war ended I’ve been delusional, it’s the clearest I’ve ever felt and aside from walking into random government buildings screaming it’s been quite beneficial

The footprints were getting fresher; I was close on its tail, I could smell it, a stench of death, lavender and gunpowder

They burned the books in the name of god, they burned the witches because they could, they burned the hopes that the new children would learn to burn

The castles offered little history and even less poetry, the rivers shone with glistening rainbows of oil, and garbage filled the banks, rat heaven. The corpses piled so high children used them as forts playing war

Me and my monkey found the fresh feces of the beast, it was here, I could hear the terra crackle under its feet, then its eyes, two bright yellow glowing eyes, and fangs, white, shinning in the moonlight

I won’t kill for those greedy bastards anymore, I won’t plant the seeds of ignorance and I won’t slaughter for anyone

Death comes as a cool breeze, a friendly tap on the shoulder, a black raven watching, waiting for its meal.

 

Judson Michael Agla

I’m a spiritually blind man creeping through the Arts on hands and knees through the streets and bars of Toronto. Being blessed with attributes such as O.C.D. and Bi-Polar disorder life has been a continuous crawl towards the surface. I paint, draw, write, carve wood, sculpt, fight monkeys (real or not), take a lot of pills (prescribed) and wait for Death, not to die however I just think we could have a nice conversation over coffee.

You can follow Judson at his homepage.

The Power of Suggestion

They were watching an Eighties film; the leading man was a famous actor.

“I wonder if he’s still alive?” she asked.

“He must be dead by now,” he replied.

The next day, a headline with a photo of the actor.  He’d died in his sleep the night before.

That evening they were watching another classic film.  It featured a different famous actor.

“He must be dead by now.”

The next day, another headline.  Another dead star.

“You should stop saying that,” she said.  “It’s uncanny.  Too much of a coincidence.”

He looked at her.

“You must be dead by now.”

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 Angry Tree

The tree stands at the center of the clearing. No other trees grow near it, they’re too afraid.

It has no leaves and its bark is black and twisted. Axe scars are visible; they’re ugly and cruel.

As I stare at it, I can feel the malevolence coming off the tree. Something dark has made it angry and vengeful. It wants to harm me.

As I stare at it, the tree bleeds. Dark blood flows from cracks in the bark. Red mist stains the air around the angry tree.

As I stare at it, I can feel it staring back.

Jacob Mielke

Jacob Mielke is a horror writer living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has previously been published in Bards and Sages Quarterly, The Siren’s Call eZine and Jitter magazine.

Flight 666

Charlie forced himself to breathe deeply.
He was grateful to have the row to himself.
He hated flying with a passion, but it was unavoidable.
He told himself the sense of foreboding sending chills down his spine was nothing more than his heightened nerves.
As the plane ascended through the clouds, he thought he saw something.
A face.
He leaned into the window, searching.
Again, he saw it in the distance – it was cloud-like, but darker, thunderous.
He stared as the face opened its mouth wide and rushed towards the plane.
Charlie screamed as they plummeted towards the ground.

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 05/28/2017

I’ve had a few potential editors reach out to me this last week – Thanks! (I apologize for slow responses. The day job is a bit insane right now.) A couple are interested, one has pitched ideas, things are looking interesting. I’ll hopefully have more updates for you in the near future as to what direction this might take these shorts!

‘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

Altarstone

By: Robert Allen Lupton

The Yucatan is riddled with cenotes, sinkholes in the limestone making up most of the karst landscape. Many are partially filled with water, but some are dry. The Mayans used them for many things, some good and some bad.

I didn’t know how many there were until my junior year. That summer, I joined a university sponsored mapping expedition. My motive wasn’t anything as noble as archeology, geology, or Mayan history. If Martina Crestada was going, so was I. We’d taken three semesters of Mayan culture and four language classes together.

The area is covered with rainforests and riddled with underground rivers. Wildlife is abundant, ocelots, jaguars, and wolves thrive on the armadillos, squirrels, rabbits, and peccaries.

I mentioned jaguars for a reason. We took a break after rigging an A-frame sling on the edge of an overgrown cenote. The pit appeared dry and there was a large flat stone in the center. There were carvings on the stone. Martina looked through her binoculars while I played the flashlight beam over the multicolored stone and she said, “Red veins. Could be iron oxide, or maybe blood. How exciting, Philip, do you think they’re bloodstains? Is it an altar stone?”

A workman screamed before I answered. “B’alam! B’alam!’ he shouted. B’alam is Mayan for jaguar. I turned and saw a jaguar slink closer to Martina and me. We were pinned against the pit’s edge. I wasn’t armed, I had a flashlight, a pocket knife, and a pith helmet, like an explorer in a Tarzan movie.

I threw my helmet like a Frisbee and hit the jaguar in the shoulder. It shrieked and charged. I pushed Martina to the side and unconsciously stepped backwards from the leaping cat. I fell into the cenote and the jaguar flew over my head and fell with me. We screamed all the way down.

I woke up on a pile of decayed leaves that the wind had deposited in the pit. My left arm was broken and I hurt all over. Martina called my name and I assured her I was alive.

“We’ll be down for you as soon as we can. I’ve sent for a stretcher.”

“I just need a harness. The air is pretty stale down here. It smells like rotten fruit.”

“The jaguar fell with you. Make sure it’s dead.”

It hurt me to walk, but I found my flashlight. The jaguar was draped like a praying supplicant over the altar stone and the altar was decorated with carven images of cats, snakes, and wolves.

The jaguar appeared dead until I lifted its feet onto the altar. Its yellow eyes opened and it bit my forearm. It was a soft bite, almost a caress, but hard enough to make me bleed. I jerked my arm away and hit the cat repeatedly with my heavy flashlight.

Our blood mingled and flowed into the red stained cracks in the limestone altar. The stench of rotting fruit became overpowering and my head spun. I passed out and collapsed on the jaguar.

The pain in my arm woke me. The cenote was filled with flickering torchlight and smoke. Several men costumed in ancient Mayan ceremonial regalia filled the cavern. I looked for Martina. She wasn’t there. The pit’s edge was lined with women and children. The quiet was frightening.

It was like one of the silent moments in a horror film before all hell breaks loose. I wasn’t the best judge of body language, but these folks weren’t happy to see me.

I spoke in English. “I didn’t know you were filming a movie. I’m sorry I messed up the take. I could use some help, my arm is broken. If it hurts any worse, I’ll pass out.

A short ugly tattooed man with a snake headdress and bad teeth shook his obsidian knife and spoke in Mayan. His pronunciation and cadence was different than what we’d learned in class, but he said, “Who are you and what do you do here? You dare disturb this sacred ceremony. You have killed B’alam, the symbol of life, and you flaunt your misdeed by displaying his body on the gateway altar to Xibalba, the underworld.”

I admired the multicolored snake tattoo on his forearm and said, “Where’s the camera? I said that I’m sorry. I’ll pay for damages to your set, but I’m really hurting here, I need a doctor. Stop with the Hollywood Mayan mumbo jumbo and help me. We’ll sort this out later”.

Snake Tattoo motioned to one of the other men, who pulled a war club from a leather sheath. He took two steps and punched me in the stomach with the club. It knocked the wind out of me. I bent over and he hit me in the neck with his fist.

I woke up in the cenote for the second time. Getting knocked out is no fun. I was tied to the altar. That’s not a good thing. My audience was still visible through the smoke and fumes. A number of women with small pots and slivers of obsidian surrounded me. My arm throbbed and I was frightened for the first time. Who were these people?

Snake Tattoo said, “We must sacrifice this man with strange clothing. His sacrilege is an affront to Xibalba and his murder of the jaguar insults our gods. The gods say that the afterlife is closed to us until his death reopens the path.”

“He is unclean and must be cleansed. He is ugly and must become pleasing in the sight of Itzamna, he who rules the gods.”

The women forced a disgusting herbal mixture down my throat. They turned my head to one side and caught my vomit in bowls to ensure that I didn’t foul the altar. They pinched my nose and filled my mouth with castor oil. The combination flushed my body from both ends. I’d envisioned that being clean would involve ritualistic bathing, but I was wrong.

Once I stopped spasming from both ends, the women washed me. I fought, but they held me and stabbed me repeatedly with sharp obsidian splinters. I was able to turn my head and see one arm and it was covered with blood and bruises. But it wasn’t bruised. The little pots were filled with ink and dark spots on my skin were tattoos.

I’d read about the death by a thousand cuts in Fu Manchu novels, but I’d never considered death by a thousand tattoos. I’d fallen on a fire ant bed when I was a child, but this was worse. I was terrified. I couldn’t stop the women and they worked as fast as a modern sewing machine. Dip the obsidian quill in ink, put it in place, tap the splinter with a block of wood to embed the ink below my skin, and repeat about thirty times a minute. It was excruciating. My body bled from a thousand cuts, my arm was broken, and I couldn’t imagine what they had planned for me next.

Snake Tattoo twisted my broken arm and intoned, “His pain is nectar to the gods.”

I screamed myself house and passed out. I woke up dehydrated and weak from the forced bouts of diarrhea and vomiting. I had no idea how much blood I’d lost from the gang tattoo rape. Sometimes there was daylight visible above the cenote and sometimes there wasn’t, but here were always people watching like the witnesses in an operating theater. I felt groggy, I was never really awake or asleep. I was only aware of the constant pain and my fear of whatever awaited me.

When the women tattooed my groin area, any residual hope I had that I’d fallen into a movie set was dispelled when the relentless obsidian needles moved from my upper thigh. I clenched my teeth so hard that I broke two of them.

Mercifully, the women finished. A ray of sunlight, like a tangible beam gleamed from the noonday sun. My audience waited, quiet and expectant. The sweet scent of rotten fruit filled the air.

The priest covered me with jaguar’s skin and lifted an obsidian knife overhead. The smoke from the dried fruit incense made my head spin. I tried to move, but my muscles wouldn’t respond. I couldn’t scream. I felt my eyes lock open in terror when the knife descended.

***

I opened my eyes and Snake Tattoo was gone. Martina’s face was above me. She screamed, “I found him. He’s alive, but he’s covered in tattoos.” She waited with me while the workmen went for a stretcher. “I was so worried. I searched the cenote three times and you weren’t there. Suddenly, you appeared on the altarstone. I was terrified.”

“So was I. How long have I been in the pit?”

She hugged me and cried, “Only about ten minutes.”

“It seemed longer to me.”

***

A week later in a Houston hospital, my mind cleared. Hell of a dream. I suspected I’d been hallucinating until saw the IV in the snake tattoo that completely wrapped my arm. I sat up and a blue green jaguar face looked back from the mirror. My stomach clenched at the smell of the decaying fruit basket on the counter.

The doctor arrived and he was a small dark man with a snake tattoo on his right forearm. “Good, I glad you’re awake. I’ve been waiting for you. We have unfinished business, you and I.”

 

 

 

Robert Allen Lupton

Robert Allen Lupton

Robert Allen Lupton lives in New Mexico where he is commercial hot air balloon pilot. He writes and runs every day, but not necessarily in that order.

Recent publications include short stories in the following anthologies:

Uncommon Origins
Twelve Days
Hindered Souls
Potters Field #6
Worlds Unknown #3

The novel, Foxborn, was published by West Mesa Press in April of 2017.

Other short stories are available online from “Crimson Streets”, Daily Science Fiction, and two drabbles have been published in “Trembling With Fear”.

“Running Into Trouble”, a collection of 15 fantasy, science fiction, horror, adventure, and humorous stories, all with running as a central theme, will be published in July of 2017. The novelette, Dejanna of Mars, will be published in August 2017, and the second book in the Foxborn series, ‘Here There Be Dragons,” is scheduled for February 2018.

Other short stories will be published online and in anthologies through the year. Visit Robert’s author pages on Amazon and Goodreads for more information.

Out Of Time

Grains filed through the pinch point, running down from the top of the hourglass. I’d warned her that time was short; she hadn’t believed me. More than half the sand was gone.

“I love the symbolism,” I told her. “Sand. Ground rocks. All that’ll be left when everything—everyone—is dead.”

She didn’t reply.

“In a perfect world, the top wouldn’t empty. Sorry, darling.”

Looking down, I watched her thrash against the restraints. Her eyes were still open, blinking granules out, her nose and mouth covered by a small dune. The sand kept flowing into an hourglass with no bottom.

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.

Worms

Veronica gasped as she entered her kitchen and saw several fat white worms slithering on the walls.

They smelt horrendous, like wet, rotting mushrooms. They fell onto her arms, biting her flesh. Veronica brushed them away but they kept coming. She grabbed a knife and slashed one, but it became two wriggling worms. She staggered forward and turned on all the gas knobs. As flesh fell from her body, eaten alive where she stood, she lit a cluster of matches. She was soon engulfed in flames, the air acrid with death and cooking flesh as she melted with the worms.

David Turton

David Turton has extensive training in Journalism, Marketing and Public Relations and has been writing as a career for over fourteen years. A huge horror fiction fan, particularly the works of Stephen King, David has written several short stories, all centred around dark tales of horror and dystopia. One of his short stories is set to be published in a Body Horror Anthology in 2017. He is also in the final stages of his first novel, an apocalyptic horror set in the near future.

Time With Ethan

The man played with his son, but his mind drifted miles away to his office.  The four year-old’s words pulled him back to the yard.

“Dad, how do you spell ‘stop?’”  The boy sat on the concrete, chalk in hand.

“Sound it out, Ethan.”  Would he make partner?

“Love you, Dad.”

The man smiled. Had he neglected Ethan? Next weekend they’d get ice cream. Their time was precious.

A screen door slammed shut. A woman stood, hands on hips. “Ethan? Who are you talking to honey?”

“Just talking to Dad, but he disappeared again.”

She frowned. “Dad’s in heaven, Ethan.”

Ryan Benson

Ryan Benson previously found employment as a Professor of Biology in the Boston, MA area and now reside outside of Atlanta, GA. His interests lie in speculative fiction and postmodern literature. His work has been previously published in Wordhaus and Short Fiction Break and was awarded first runner up in the 2015 Write Practice Writing Contest.

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