‘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’re up to the third installment and have a huge pile of quality work hit our inbox (though drabbles are still coming in a bit slow, HINT HINT! 😉 Hopefully you’ve been enjoying reading these so far and if so please comment on the posts with which shorts or drabbles have been your favorites!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Champ

By Kevin M. Folliard

“Somethin’ slippery between my toes, Mama!” Gracie called from off shore. Her head bobbed in the shoulder-deep ripples of Lake Champlain. Gracie squealed and tossed her head. “Oh! I think it’s a fish!”

Mama scowled from her folding chair and flipped a page of her paperback. “Probably leeches! You wouldn’t catch me in there! No ma’am!”

“Fuddy duddy!” Gracie called. “The water’s beautiful, Mama!” Gracie dunked and spun on her toes, drilling into the murky bottom. She bopped back above water and surveyed the hills, ripe with towering firs. A pine breeze cooled her wet head. “I could stay in this one spot forever!”

“Hmm.” Mama didn’t look up. “You always were a little fish, ever since you was a girl. Never leave the lake. Never leave the pool. Never wanted to go home and go to bed, where it’s soft and warm.”

“No, ma’am!” Gracie insisted. “When’s the last time you been in water, Mama?”

“Never.” Mama sipped her diet cola. “Never once.”

Gracie giggled. “Liar!”

“Never told a lie, neither,” Mama insisted.

“You told me about the Tooth Fairy, when I was young,” Gracie said. “That was a lie.”

“Tooth Fairy’s real.” Mama flipped a page.

“She is not!”

“Who else would give a dollar a tooth? Not me.”

“Might be right there.” Gracie floated onto her back. Wisps of cloud crept through the sky like molasses. “You’d like it in here, Mama.”

“Leeches, n’ slime, n’ bacteria. You’d best wash up good back at the motel.”

“I might roll around in your sheets first! Germs deserve a comfy bed too!”

“You’ll be sleepin’ on the roof of the car.”

Gracie squeaked with laughter.

Suddenly, a wall of liquid gushed up and cascaded over Gracie. She floundered and took a gulp of lake water. Her toes fluttered in the mud. She coughed. Gagged. Struggled to stay upright. Water flecked from the back of her throat until she cleared her wind pipe with a loud hack.

Gracie rubbed her eyes. A foamy ridge glided over the surface of the water, tapered towards shore, and washed over brown sand. Frothy, V-shaped ripples lingered.

“Mama! What in heaven was that?”

“Mmm?” Mama remained fixated on her book.

“Mama, did you see what caused that big wake?”

“Big who?”

“Mama!”

Mama finally looked up, eyes sagging with exhaustion. “What!”

“Somethin’ moved in the water. Somethin’ huge!”

Mama huffed. “Your big mouth. Been movin’ all day.” She returned to her book.

“I’m serious.” The shimmering stillness of the blue water returned.  Gracie tip-toed through the murk, toward shore. “I never felt somethin’ movin’ underwater like that before. Felt like a whale cruisin’ past.”

“You never felt no whale cruise past you before.” Mama shook her head.

“Well if one did, it would have felt just like that! A big bus of a thing pushin’ all the water around it.”

“Always had an overactive imagination.”

Gracie’s big toe slipped over a flat broad surface. “What in Sam Heck?” She ran her toe along the smooth, wide object. “Feels like someone sunk a rubber doormat here!”

“Nobody sunk no doormat.”

“You don’t even know what I’m talkin’ about, Mama. I’m standin’ right on it.” Gracie put her full weight down on the slick surface. Immediately, a green hump and slithering tail erupted like geysers. Gracie plummeted backward. An enormous flipper breeched and slapped the water.

Mama finally glanced up as a long neck craned from the churning water, ending in a toothy snout and shiny obsidian eyes. The beast snarled, jerked its thirty foot neck at Mama, and plucked her from her chair.

Mama’s paperback landed face down on the surface of the lake. The beast’s neck twisted and plunged Mama under. Its trunk shifted from shore with a shove of its front paddles, and it dove back into the deep.

Gracie bobbed and trembled in the beast’s wake. The paperback absorbed water and sank. And it wasn’t until the book disappeared into Lake Champlain that Gracie found the power to scream.

Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose published fiction includes scary stories collections Christmas Terror Tales and Valentine Terror Tales, and adventure novels such as Jimmy Chimaera & the Temple of Champions. His work has also been collected by Sanitarium Magazine, Nosetouch Press, Black Bed Sheet Books, and more.

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Deep Woods

By: Chad Vincent

Snow falls sideways in damp flakes, wind howling. His feet slog through, pant legs getting wet, getting cold. Must keep moving. Something internal drives him forward, a fire that evades the raw wind at his face.

“Can’t remember if I’m running from or heading towards?” the clouds in his mind collide in a thunderstorm of confusion.

His body gives pause as a wave of exhaustion throbs muscles into spasms, giving time to glimpse at his surroundings. Behind, deep ruts follow in the form of hurried prints. Crimson blotches dapple his backtrail.

Then comes the echoless howl of the wolf, again.

Chad Vincent is a teacher in rural Missouri. He lives on a farm with his wife, 3 kids, 30 chickens, 9 guineas, 3 dogs, and one rogue cat that refuses to join the family. Though still waiting to be published, he has received many kind rejections.

Just Like HVN

By: Daniel Pietersen

An alpine breeze rustled Simensen’s hair. She looked up the valley to the mountains, snow-topped and hazy. Perfect. Behind her, the chalet processed its morning diagnostic routines. She sighed. The voices had been telling her that she needed to leave for days now. She’d procrastinated, but today was it. She’d be sad to leave. She lifted the gun-shaped device to her temple, sighed once again, then pulled the trigger.

She disappeared.

She dropped the v-manipulator into its charging cradle, started removing the haptics. A screen behind her scrolled text, then blinked: CH VALL HVN 777 – QA COMPLETE TECH SIMENSEN

Daniel Pietersen is an author of weird horror and terror philosophy, interested in how speculative works tell us about the world today as much as the world to come. ‘An Endless Laceration’, his work on the nature of horror in Clive Barker’s ‘The Hellbound Heart’, is due for publication in Thinking Horror in the first part of 2016. Daniel lives in Edinburgh with his wife and dog.

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Way Out

By: Brenna Harvey

“You’re Donna?” asked the doctor.

“Mona.”

“Agoraphobia?”

“Panic disorder.”

“Accompanied by obsessive compulsive tendencies?”

“Clinical depression.”

“Ah. Mistook you for Jenny. The young woman who counts wall tiles.”

“That’s Donna. And it’s window bars.”

“You’re scheduled for music therapy today?”

“I requested transfer to the community garden.”

“Not after that escape attempt over the garden wall, I’m afraid.”

“That was Jenny.”

“Sorry, Maggie. I’m afraid there’s no way out of this one.”

Mona fingered the long gash on her wrist, still raw and wet, though most of her body’s blood had gone down the shower drain.

“No. I suppose not.”

Brenna Harvey is a writer and comedian living in Hartford, CT. She teaches sociology and women’s studies at the University of Connecticut and the University of Hartford, as well as improv and sketch comedy through Sea Tea Improv. She is previously published in *OMGQueer*, *The Long River Review*, and *Theories of HER: An Experimental Anthology*.

The Shambling Dead

By: Franklin Murdock

I’m alone when they come for me, holed up in my house after the war ripped through our town, those strange chemicals rolling along the ruined landscape. They’ve all turned, friends and family, into the shambling dead.

But the dead have memories… they know I’m here.

I hear their hissing, smell the death. But before they can reach me, I detonate the pipe bomb I’d been holding since the beginning. Although I’ll die and they won’t, I relish knowing they’ll be reduced to pieces, unable to kill or feast, just a gibbering graveyard beneath a town we all once loved.

Franklin Charles Murdock is a fiction writer from the Midwestern United States. Though most of his work is harvested from the vast landscapes of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, Franklin strives to spin tales outside the conventions of these genres.

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