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Trembling With Fear 12-3-23

Hello, children of the dark. How’s your week been? Mine has been so crazy busy and overwhelming that I absolutely, honest-to-god nearly forgot to put together this week’s issue. The boss likes to have these mid-week so he has plenty of time to do his thing and schedule it all in. This week? I’m sitting at my desk at 1pm on Saturday afternoon, prepping Sunday’s edition. Whoops. Sorry, Stuart!

With that in mind, let’s just jump straight in with this week’s dark and speculative TWF menu. Our short story offering from Alyson Faye sees a young woman find her forever-soulmate. Then we’ve got three fabulous tasty morsels for dessert:

  • Robert Allen Lupton will make all the writers groan with this one, 
  • Jordan Kocevski is rushing to escape from something, and 
  • Ron Capshaw writes this one in tribute to the late, great Shirley Jackson.

Finally, we’ve been getting an absolute influx of subs to our 🎄Christmas special🎄. The deadline for submissions to this one is the end of this week, so get ‘em in quick. TWF special editions editor Shalini is going through the (frankly) huge amount of stories we’ve received, but you’ll likely hear from her much closer to the date of publication as to whether you’ve been successful.

Now, it’s over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Hey all! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. This is the LAST WEEK of my current class. On top of that, I’ve got a huge project at work. After this week, our focus will be getting Shadowed Realms contracted, formatted and out into the world. 
Don’t forget – Trembling With Fear Volume 6 is out in the world, and if you’ve picked up a copy, we’d love a review! Next year, we may be looking to expand past just the Amazon platform. If we do that, what stores would you like to purchase your books from?

ATTENTION YOUTUBE WATCHERS: We’ve had some great responses so far but are open to more ideas – What type of content would you like to see us feature? Please reach out to [email protected]! We’ll be really working on expanding the channel late this year and early into next.

For those who are looking to connect with Horror Tree on places that aren’t Twitter, we’re also in BlueSky and Threads. *I* am also now on BlueSky and Threads.

If you’d like to extend your support to the site, we’d be thrilled to welcome your contributions through Ko-Fi or Patreon. Your generosity keeps us fueled and fired up to bring you the very best.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree


Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 5

  1. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 1
  2. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 2
  3. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 3
  4. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 4
  5. Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 5



Parasites: Part Five


Leila stared at the convent from the sidewalk. It looked straight out of a medieval manuscript—all sharp edges, crosses, and stained glass windows. A statue of the Virgin Mary prayed on the wildflower-dotted lawn.

The business card flipped between her fingers as Leila thought about going in. The convent looked a lot more professional than her actual destination.

The address on the card pointed toward a squat, ramshackle house across the street. Its windows were barely hanging on, and there wasn’t a religious symbol in sight. In fact, it looked like the kind of place young girls went into and didn’t come back out.

“Can I help you?”

Leila lashed out at the voice, hitting a gray-haired guy in a threadbare business suit right in the gut. He grunted, but didn’t budge as pain radiated up her arm.

“My apologies for startling you.”

Leila yanked her throbbing hand back. The hair on the back of her neck stood up. “Uh… sorry. I’m a little jumpy.”

In reality, she wasn’t sorry at all, and wished he’d move on. But a small, still civilized part of her wanted this to be a normal conversation with another normal human being.

“Understandable. Especially if you’re desperate enough to seek me out.”

She stared at him with a frown.

He motioned at the card still clutched in her hand. “That’s my business card. Matthew Newcomb.” He held out a hand, then retracted after an awkward moment of silence. “I only give those out to my closest acquaintances. They only give them out to those in the greatest need.”

“Oh, great.”

This is stupid, the civilized voice said. It played over and over in Leila’s mind as Matthew looked her over.

Satisfied with whatever he saw, he motioned toward the ramshackle house. “Care to tell me your troubles?”

Leila glanced in its direction, pretty sure the house had grown darker since she last looked. “Can we talk here?”

Matthew chuckled, an affable sound that did nothing to calm the prickling of Leila’s skin. “If you want. Let’s start with what’s happened recently in your life. What makes you think you need an exorcist?”

“I don’t.” Leila blurted the words out, then backpedaled at his skeptical expression. “I mean, I’m not sure I do. A lady came to me and gave me this card.”


“Some accidents have happened where I work.”

“Go on.”

“They’ve all… happened near me, and—” Leila swallowed the sudden lump in her throat. “One was to someone I care about.”

“Describe the accidents to me.”

That was the last thing she wanted to do, yet the words poured out of her mouth in grisly detail. A feeling of being detached, a passenger in her own body, came on in full force. The corners of her mouth twitched as she neared the end, as if she was about to smile.

Leila forced her mouth down, clamping her jaw shut mid-word.

Matthew stared at her, eyebrows drawn together. “Have you been having nightmares?”

The middle-aged lady’s words echoed back in Leila’s mind. Have you been having nightmares, Ms. Roberts? She glared at Matthew. A bit of vagueness was to be expected from anything related to religion, but this was getting ridiculous. “Why? What’s so important about bad dreams?”

“It helps—”

“Yes.” Anger boiled up, burning away the last vestiges of discomfort at the situation. She’d started the week partying with her best friend, and since her life had all gone to hell. Now she stood on a strange sidewalk next to a strange man while her friend bled out in a hospital. None of it made sense, and she was sick of it.

“I’ve had a few nightmares,” she said through clenched teeth. “Nasty ones. Ones I could swear were real, yet couldn’t possibly be. Do you want me to describe them to you as well? Maybe they’ll haunt you as much as me. Did I tell you my friend is dying? Why the hell am I here, and not with her?”

“Because you need my help. Your soul knows it, whether you do or not.”

Leila scoffed. “My soul? Are you going to preach? Is that what I came out here for, a sermon?”

An image flashed through her mind. Matthew, stretched across the pavement, with his ribs split open. The copper scent of blood filled the air, along with a deep earthen tang. A bulbous headed creature, barely reminiscent of a newborn, dug into the open chest cavity and giggled.

Leila choked, gagged, then vomited the remains of her lunch into the street.

Matthew reached out to touch her shoulder.

She shied away, her hand dropping to her stomach, where the sharp pain had quickened in tempo. “Can a baby be possessed?” she asked. Desperation creeped in thick. “Before it’s born?”

He hesitated. “I’ve never seen it.”

Leila coughed out a short laugh. “So that’s a maybe. What about eleven?”

“I don’t—”

Leila yelled, doubling over as the pain in her abdomen turned sharper. This time, she didn’t have the strength to move when he wrapped an arm around her.

A woman’s voice she didn’t recognize called out from the direction of the convent.

Matthew called back. Leila tried to focus on their words, anything to distract herself from the searing agony spreading across her mid-section.

A long, thin knife.

Creatures with needle-sharp teeth.

She heaved.

Motion. Matthew scooped her up, folding her in his arms. A bulge in her abdomen. Leila cried out as the agony sprouted more blades. The bulge grew, pushing out from under her shirt. The surface of her skin rippled, contorted, as something writhed to be free. A hand pressed from the inside, tiny fingers etched in her flesh.

“Don’t worry, now,” Matthew said in a strained voice. “We’ll take care of you.”

He yelled something about a book and a circle, but the words lost meaning. Leila screamed as the blades pierced out and down. Whatever was inside wanted out. Shadows covered her vision as they entered the church. A loud boom and rattling. A shock of cold on her back as Matthew laid her on hard ground.

Leila screamed again and kicked, bashing her head against something hard. A numbness spread, blessed relief as wet poured down on top of her, soaking into her skin and pooling underneath.

The relief was short-lived.

Fire burned it away as her insides twisted, turned inside out. A wail, not her own, cried out. High, piercing.

The agony faded to dull throbbing.

A high-vaulted ceiling hung over her, a prism of colors dancing across stone walls from stained glass windows. Leila lay on her back in a puddle of cool and warm, gasping for breath.

Rhythmic murmuring came from all sides. She forced her shaking limbs under her and pulled herself up into a sitting position. A holy water basin lay upturned beside her, its contents spilled on the marble floor where it mixed with crimson.

Leila’s breath caught as another wail echoed off the convent walls, answered by a boom of thunder which shook the stained glass.

Nuns surrounded her in a circle. Praying, hands clasped at their chests and mouths. One sat at her feet, habit sleeves red.

Don’t look. That small voice, long ignored. Leila ignored it once more.

She looked past her bare legs, pants awkwardly pulled to her ankles, to the pile of flesh, blood, and holy water between her legs. An infant thrashed, gray wrinkled skin contrasting with the red covering it. Large, rheumy eyes stared at her. It sucked in another breath, opening its mouth wide to reveal rows of shark-like teeth.

“No, no, no.” Leila tried to scramble back. Her hand slipped in the mess, laying her on her back once more. Pain bloomed in her skull, but she didn’t care. She had to get away from this thing.

The nun with blood on her sleeves moved up beside her and pushed down on her chest.

“Let me go, damn it!” Leila swung a fist, hitting the nun in the shoulder. She didn’t get a second chance. Two more nuns appeared, pinning her arms to the floor.

She fought, but it was pointless. She was too damn tired, too weak to dislodge the women. Hot tears ran down her cheeks.

The chanted prayers got louder. The sky answered. A peal of thunder shook the church as if God himself hammered at the ceiling.

“Our God in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

Matthew’s voice at her feet. Leila tried to look, but the bloody nun blocked her view.

“Thy children call upon thee in their hour of need.”

More hammers from on high. Rain pelted the roof, melding with the ever-increasing volume from the chants and prayers, creating a cacophony that vibrated in her bones. Leila gritted her teeth, wishing she could block out the noise, but the pounding of her heart would have given her no respite, anyway. She choked out a sob and screamed.

“Have mercy on this innocent soul,” Matthew continued. “Cast out the demon. Remove it, and cast it into the bottomless pit.”

Glass shattered as another hammer fell. Multi-colored shards rained down outside the circle of nuns. Then, silence.

Black clouds dissipated outside of the broken windows, giving way to a sunny day in seconds. Two of the nuns holding Leila down moved away. One stopped, removing the outer layer of her habit and draping it over Leila’s lower body. The last nun wrapped her arm around Leila’s shoulders and pulled her up into a sitting position. 

She felt numb, drained, teetering on the edge of an abyss that refused to claim her.

Matthew stood in front of her, dangling a cross pendant over the baby he cradled in his other arm. He looked at Leila and smiled. “The exorcism worked. It’s a boy.” He leaned over and offered the naked child to her.

Bile rose in the back of her throat. “No.”

Epeolatry Book Review: Posthaste Manor by Jolie Toomajan & Carson Winter


Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: Posthaste Manor
Author: Jolie Toomajan & Carson Winter
Genre: Ghost Fiction; Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Tenebrous Press
Release Date: 18th October, 2023

Everyone has a story about Posthaste Manor.
None of the stories end well, but that doesn’t stop the hopeful from hoping and the desperate from trying.
This composite novel stands as both history and eulogy of one very haunted house, as recounted by artists, real estate agents, and beloved family pets; by the debauched, the dead and the dying, and anyone looking for one last chance.
Raise a glass in celebration. Just don’t linger within its walls for long.


Open Markets For Speculative Fiction Writers | Top Open Calls November 27th-Dec 1st, 2023

Welcome, weavers of the mystical and the macabre! 🍂🌙 As we transition from the fading whispers of November into the early chills of December, spanning from the 27th of November to the 1st of December, let us draw inspiration from the enchanting prose of Alice Hoffman. In your hands, the ordinary becomes steeped in an aura of wonder and the shadows dance with an unseen life, much like the subtle magic that permeates Hoffman’s narratives.

This week’s collection of opportunities opens doorways to realms where the lines between the real and the surreal blur, each link a portal to unexplored territories that beckon your unique voice.

As we bid farewell to November and usher in December, let’s embrace a curious fact: Did you know that in many ancient calendars, December marked the end of the year? It was a time of finishing old business and preparing for the new, much like writing a story where every end is also a beginning, an echo of possibilities yet to come.

Taking Submissions: Flashpoint Science Fiction 2024 Open Window #1

Submission Window: January 15th – March 31st, 2024
Payment: $0.02 per word
Theme: Science fiction, fantasy, slipstream, and everything in between
Note: Reprints Welcome

We are open to submissions:
Jan. 15 – Mar. 31
May 15 – Jul. 31
Sep. 15 – Nov. 30

Before submitting, please read the writer’s guidelines below.

Story Guidelines

Flash Point Science Fiction wants speculative fiction stories from 100 to 1,000 words in length. Send us your science fiction, fantasy, slipstream, and everything in between, so long as it’s short. We here at FPSF are partial to flash fiction and want to see the flash market grow. So as much as it pains us, please take your 10,000 word tour de force elsewhere. We’re not looking for the next Brandon Sanderson. (Unless you are, in fact, Brandon Sanderson, in which case we’d be delighted!)


Indie Bookshelf Releases 12/01/2023

Got a book to launch, an event to promote, a kickstarter or seeking extra work/support as a result of being hit economically by life in general?

Get in touch and we’ll promote you here. The post is prepared each Thursday for publication on Friday. Contact us via Horror Tree’s contact address or connect via Twitter or Facebook.

Click on the book covers for more information. Remember to scroll down to the bottom of the page – there’s all sorts lurking in the deep.


Before you scroll down through the books however, please could you consider checking out the ‘Creatives in Crisis’ section. This has been added to help those who need additional support at this time. Thank you!



Writing at Frightmare in the Falls

Frightmare is an annual horror convention that takes place in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. It began in early 2017 as an offshoot of Niagara Comic-Con when co-owners James Ponce and Chris Dabrowski decided to create a horror-only event for Niagara Falls. Each year horror fans, icons, and celebrities gather to celebrate the scary side of fiction. This 3-day event takes place at the Niagara Falls Convention Centre each year featuring more than 50,000 square feet of “all things horror” including panels, photo ops, displays, celebrities, cosplay, memorabilia and more. 

What did I think of it?


Taking Submissions: Mysterion January 2024 Window

Submission Window: January 1st – 31st, 2023
Payment: 8 cents/word and 4 cents/word for reprints
Theme: Speculative stories–science fiction, fantasy, horror–with Christian themes, characters, or cosmology
Note: Reprints Welcome

Mysterion is looking for speculative stories–science fiction, fantasy, horror–with Christian themes, characters, or cosmology, and for artwork for this site.

Fiction Guidelines

Technical details

  • Stories can be up to 9000 words (thanks, Patreon supporters!). This is a hard limit–our submission system will enforce it.
  • We pay 8 cents/word for original stories (or original translations of stories that have not previously appeared in English), and 4 cents/word for reprints (thanks again, Patreon!).
    • Authors are paid once we’ve agreed on edits and signed a contract, prior to earliest publication (generally on our Patreon page).
  • We are seeking 6 months’ exclusive worldwide publication rights for original works (with exceptions for established Best of the Year anthologies), and non-exclusive worldwide print and electronic rights thereafter for both original works and reprints.
    • We want to publish your story online in our webzine and keep it there indefinitely.
    • We’re also acquiring the right to offer ebook versions of the stories we publish, as Patreon rewards or for purchase; and to publish a print and ebook anthology of all the stories that appeared in the webzine over a given 1- or 2-year period.
    • For original fiction, we want to be the only place publishing it for the first 6 months; after that, you’re welcome to publish it anywhere else in any format you like.
  • No multiple or simultaneous submissions.
    • If multiple writers co-write a story, we consider each distinct group of writers a different submitter. In other words, if two people co-write a story, and they submit the co-written story, and each of them also submits a story written on their own, that would not violate our no multiple submissions policy. Submitting two stories co-written by the same two people would violate our no multiple submissions policy.
  • Don’t resubmit a story we’ve rejected unless we request revisions.
  • We usually manage to respond to everyone within four months of the submission window’s closing. Feel free to query ([email protected]) if it’s been longer than four months since the end of the submission period.
  • Format requirements:
    • Stories must be double spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman or Courier font.
    • The story title, your byline, a word count, and contact information should appear on the first page, and your last name, story title, and page number should appear in the header information of all other pages.
    • If you want to make our lives easier, our preferred format is Times New Roman, italics for emphasis, one space after periods and colons, smart quotes, m-dashes instead of double hyphens, and first line of paragraph indented 0.5″ in Paragraph formatting instead of with the Tab key. But we aren’t that particular about any of this when evaluating your stories.
  • Stories should be submitted via the Moksha submissions system:
  • Submit your stories in .doc, .docx, or .rtf format.
  • Your cover letter should contain a list of your three or four most prestigious publications (if any), and any pertinent biographical details: tell us if you’re an astronaut writing about space travel, but not if you’re an astronaut writing about the elf-dwarf war. Invert that if you’re an elf. If you’ve met us in person, feel free to mention it. Finally, let us know if the story is previously published and where it first appeared–even if it appeared on your blog or Twitter feed. Don’t try to summarize your story or explain why it’s a good fit for our publication (if it’s a good fit, we should be able to tell by reading it).