Author: Shalini Nina

Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 4

  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 Scheduled for December 2, 2023



Parasites: Part Four


An e-mail pinged on Leila’s phone way too early the next morning. Although the boss had given them the previous day off, he still had a business to run. Today would be business as usual. With nothing more than her nightmares and a secret she barely believed herself as an excuse, she showed up.

Her mind wasn’t having it, though. It stuck in a whirlpool of anxiety, bounding between the insanity at the office, her disturbing dreams, and the parasites growing inside her.

The previous day had shaken her so badly, she’d forgotten about them. At least, until she’d got up for work and vomited all over the place. A pill had beaten the nausea back down. It had not stopped the strange ache in her abdomen.

She couldn’t carry eleven kids. Hell, she didn’t want one kid. Yet, thanks to the phantom feel of a knife in her innards, she couldn’t bring herself to step foot in the clinic again.

A couple of co-workers walked by Leila’s cubicle, talking in excitement.

A creak, a crack, and a yell of pain as something large and dark fell from the ceiling and on to the passersby. Blood splattered against the outside of Leila’s workspace, a few stray drops landing on her face.

Déjà vu came and stayed. A haze settled over her mind as the first-aid kit, getting low on supplies, was pulled free once more. Sirens. Gasps and screams. A gaping hole in the ceiling where a chunk of metal beam mysteriously broke free and fell, cutting a groove down a co-worker’s arm. She couldn’t even remember the password to her computer. She was beginning to think it didn’t matter.

“Leila Roberts, right?”

Leila jumped, then flushed. The EMTs had taken the victim to the hospital a while ago. Without Kat around to talk her down, she’d stayed staring at the hole above her. She hadn’t seen anyone approach. “Yeah, that’s me.”

The speaker, a heavy-set older woman dressed in attire far too formal for the office, smiled. “You’re friends with Katharine, aren’t you?”

“Katharine?” Leila struggled far more than she should have to connect the dots. “Oh… Kat. Yes, I am.”

“A good girl. She helps me with my garden sometimes.”

Leila blinked, at a loss for words. Kat had talked about helping her ‘elderly’ neighbor before, but the woman in front of her didn’t look more than middle-aged. Besides, she wasn’t sure what the lady wanted from her.

“Is she not here today?”

Ah, that was it. “No. She had a doctor’s appointment.” Leila squashed down the sudden memory of her own missed appointment as a sharp pain jolted across her torso.

“I see. A lot of those lately, isn’t there?”

“Excuse me?”

“You were there for all three accidents, weren’t you?”

Leila narrowed her eyes as she tried to discern what the woman was getting at.

“Have you been having nightmares, Ms. Roberts?”


The words came out on reflex. Whoever this woman was, she was making her more uncomfortable by the second. All Leila wanted was for her to leave.

The woman smiled again. This time, it seemed almost predatory.

Leila’s skin crawled.

“Sometimes our actions can lead to unexpected consequences,” the lady continued, seemingly oblivious to Leila’s unease. “They let in things we don’t quite understand. Things better left alone.”

“I’d like you to leave.”

A growl entered Leila’s voice as a flushing heat turned discomfort into anger. A small part of her wondered why she was angry. That part burned away in an instant.

“Of course. But, if you need help, help you can’t get in other places, please call my friend.” 

The woman pulled a business card from her pocket and offered it to Leila over the partition. Leila moved without thinking, jumping from her seat to slap the woman’s hand away. Her mind filled with white-hot fury. Who was this woman to tell her what she needed?

The woman’s eyes flashed, her mouth dropping into a frown for a second before reversing into a strained grin. “Think about it, Ms. Roberts. I don’t think either of us wants Katharine to come to harm, now do we?” 

She turned on her heel and rushed away.

Leila’s chest seized. Did the woman know something she didn’t? Was Kat in danger? She had been near all the injured, but that had to be a coincidence, didn’t it?

Her eyes locked onto the small, gold-trimmed business card that had fluttered to the floor. Her hand shook as she picked it up. Matthew Newcomb, it read. Professional exorcist.

Leila laughed. A ridiculous looking red pentagram, little horns sticking out the top point of the star, adorned the center of the card. The woman was either a comedian with the best poker face in the world, or completely insane. Leila would be about as likely to go to her ‘friend’ as back to the clinic.

She dropped it into the wastebasket under her desk and turned back to her work, intent on losing herself in the mundane. She’d had precious little of that recently.

It worked as well as it could with the stabbing in her torso. After popping two painkillers, she even dozed.

Leila dreamed of the ceiling collapsing. A grinning, bulbous-headed creature grinned out at her from the remains. It laughed, a raspy noise which scratched along Leila’s skin, as blood seeped from under the wreckage. It scrambled away, only to drag Royce, a deep crimson hole punched in his stomach, in front of her. Then came Anne with a hole carved into the upper right side of her chest. The remains of a lung pulsated within. 

Electricity shot down Leila’s limbs as the creature laid a third body out in front of her like a cat with dead birds. Hair pulled up, clothes the same as the last time Leila had seen her. Blood seeped from her mouth, ears, and under her eyelids. 


Leila tried to scream as the creature giggled.

Her phone rang, jolting her out of sleep.

Leila’s hand shook as she picked up the receiver, the feeling of ice water traveling down her spine.


“Leila, thank goodness you answered.”

The high-pitched voice ricocheted around Leila’s head for a moment before she placed it. Kat’s mom. She hadn’t spoken to her in years, despite only living an hour away. Not since Kat got her own place. Leila couldn’t fathom what she wanted now. “Mrs. Meyer, how are you?”

“Kat’s dying.” Her voice cracked.

The trickle of ice became a torrent, seizing Leila’s muscles and stealing her breath. “I… I talked to her last night. She was fine.”

Fine. Leila’s mind echoed. This was all just a mistake.

“The doctor says she’s bleeding internally. She collapsed during her appointment. They don’t know why or how long she’ll last….”

Mrs. Meyer’s voice rambled on, each word choked out until she sobbed. “You two are inseparable… she’ll want you nearby when….”

“Of course, Mrs. Meyer.” 

The words came out of Leila’s mouth, but she had no connection to them. They sounded cold, distant. A small part of her screamed to pay attention. Most of her wanted to hide from the truth.

She listened to the second.

“What hospital?”

Mrs. Meyer told her. The information flowed through Leila’s thoughts without sticking. The line went dead.

Leila glanced at the edge of a business card, a horned pentagram in the center, peeking out from over the top of the wastebasket.

Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 3

  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 Scheduled for December 2, 2023



Parasites: Part Three


If Anne’s piece of lung had distracted Leila, Royce stabbing himself with a pencil de-railed her brain completely, so it was good the boss let them all go home, even if it was probably to avoid any more on-site crises. 

Leila got back to her apartment, mind on auto-pilot, and now sat on her bed, staring numbly at a wall. A knock at her door nearly made her jump out of her skin. Her phone buzzed a moment later.

Kat’s text popped up on the screen. Hey, let me in!

Leila obliged, more on routine than anything else.

Kat brushed by her, staring as Leila closed and locked the door once more.

“How are you holding up?” Kat asked.

Unsure of what to say, Leila stared back. At least she hadn’t ended up in the hospital, she supposed.

Kat sighed and motioned toward the couch. “Sit.”

When Leila didn’t respond fast enough, Kat gripped her arm and lead her to a seat, lightly pushing her down onto a cushion before settling in herself. 

“Look, I know we didn’t know Ann or Royce super well, but we’ve still worked together for years. It’s not easy seeing anyone hurt, let alone someone you sit next to. If you want to talk, or cry, or just sit in silence together, I’m here.”

Leila frowned at her friend and chewed her lip. Seeing her co-workers hurt bothered her, yet that wasn’t what bothered her the most. The blood, the flesh, the wound on Royce’s stomach. It all reminded her so much of the dream. What was wrong with her when a dream bothered her more than the wellbeing of another person?

Kat took Leila’s silence as her choice, and snuggled closer, throwing an arm over Leila’s shoulders. “Anne’s fine, by the way. I stopped by the hospital before I came. The doctors couldn’t figure out what happened, and neither could she. They’re keeping her overnight. Just in case.”

“What about Royce?” Leila asked, finally finding her voice.

“Alive. Not sure beyond that. They have him on suicide watch, and since I’m not family, I’m not allowed near him.”

“It’s so strange.”

Leila was referring to more than the office events, but Kat didn’t know the difference.

“I know, right? Royce’s like the most stable guy on the floor. Unflappable. Somehow manages to be okay with desk work day in and day out. So, why?”

Leila shrugged as a heavy fatigue descended over her, stealing what little thought she had regained. Darkness rushed in before she could respond.


Leather wrapped around Leila’s wrists, strapping her arms down to a cold, white table.

Four bare, sterile walls surrounded her. They stood barely far enough away to contain the table and two people in hazmat suits. One person, sitting directly at the foot of the table, towered over the second, who sat to the left.

“Just try to breathe, Ms. Roberts,” the tall one said in a raspy voice. “It will be over before you know it.” 

The rasp turned into a grinding inhale as they took a long, thin knife from somewhere unseen. The knife lowered. Realization rushed down Leila’s spine like lava.

“No!” She bucked, yet barely moved. Thick straps she could have sworn weren’t there before covered her waist and ankles, pinning her in place. A lamb to slaughter.

“Just relax, Ms. Roberts,” the short one hissed through their mask.

Agony erupted from deep within, spreading up as the knife penetrated further and further. 

Leila’s mind collapsed as liquid, hot and sticky, flooded down her legs, hitting the floor with the sound of thick rain.

A scream echoed in her ears, dulled in the searing pain.


“Leila. Leila! Wake up, for God’s sake.”

Leila jerked upright, feeling like she’d swallowed glass. Her skin still tingled where the straps had been. Her innards roiled and burned.

“Christ, Leila. You almost gave me a heart attack.”

Her mind whirled as Leila looked at Kat, trying to piece together what had happened. She was back on her couch, next to her best friend. No people in hazmat suits. No long, thin knives. She shivered. “What did I do?” she asked.

“What…?” Kat stared at her wide-eyed. “Screamed loud enough to wake the neighbors, is all. Wouldn’t surprise me if the cops show up soon. Everyone else in the building probably thinks you’ve been murdered.”

That explained the broken glass feeling in her throat. Leila shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry. No one around here cares what happens in someone else’s apartment.”

“If you say so. What the hell were you dreaming about?”

Leila’s thoughts skittered around the answer, already more than willing to leave the nightmare to rot in her subconscious. “I….”

Her answer stalled as the fading horror connected with a very real memory. Her chest tightened. “Kat, what time is it?”

Kat glanced at her phone. “Nearly midnight. Honestly, I’m glad you woke up, even if I wish it had been a little less harsh. You passed out on my shoulder, and I didn’t have the heart to wake you. Not like I have anywhere to be. I’m getting pretty tired myself, though, and this couch isn’t quite as comfortable for me as it is for you.”

Kat’s words passed by Leila, heard, but barely understood. The appointment. The procedure. She’d missed it. Yet, as a piece of her latest nightmare came creeping back, she found she wasn’t so bothered after all.

Unholy Trinity: The Last Note by F.P. Jones

Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.


Rose Piano


Drawn by an inexplicable allure, Amelia steps into the forbidden room in the crumbling mansion. Her heart pulses to the rhythm of a haunting melody only she hears. Inside, she finds an ornate, dust-covered piano. She plays, tracing the eerie tune that called to her. The air thickens as her fingers dance across the keys. Beautiful figures materialize, circling her. They whisper, their voices both chilling and compelling, urging her to continue playing. Realizing her grave mistake, she jerks her hands away. Still, the figures remain–Amelia’s eyes betray an unnatural glint; the spirits have found a new home.


Lilac Souls


In a secluded European village, Viktor, the piano maker, crafted a grand piano from wood sourced from a cursed forest. Ignoring warnings, he embellished it with arcane symbols, seeking to harness the forest’s dark energies for unparalleled sound. When he played the first note, the piano’s timbre was surreal, almost otherworldly. But that note also served as an invitation. Spirits from beyond the veil seeped into the piano, infusing it with malevolent sentience. Viktor vanished mysteriously, but the piano was found untouched and sold. A wealthy patron of the arts purchased it–the piano awaited its next opportunity. 


Vintage Promise


We sat dormant, an elegant relic in a forgotten chamber. Then, a curious musician named Oliver arrived, intrigued by whispers of Amelia’s madness. Unlike her, he was not swayed by our haunting melody but by ambition—eager to uncover our arcane secrets for fame. When his fingers touched our keys, we felt the voracity of his intent. He played, and we unleashed not just ethereal figures but twisted reflections of his avarice. Our insatiable greed made Oliver one with us, his essence captured within our wooden form. Now, we sleep, harmonizing in sinister silence for the next curious soul.



F.P. Jones

Jones received his bachelor from the University of Arkansas and a Juris Doctor from William H. Brown School of Law. The Arkansas native currently divides his time between the state he loves and traveling for inspiration, most likely stopping frequently for a selfie. He now lives in Little Rock, Arkansas. My current projects include tales for a upcoming dark fiction anthology and a serialized dark fiction short stories.

Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 2

  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 Scheduled for December 2, 2023



Parasites: Part Two


Leila dragged herself to work the next morning with hair unbrushed and clothes rumpled. No one batted an eye. Everyone looked half-dead on Mondays, especially before their third cup of coffee. 

Currently, Leila stood in the break room, pouring way too much sugar into her first cup of the day. The nightmare replayed in her head. She could still feel the creature’s slimy, chubby hand rubbing against her skin. The eyes, big and innocent, clashing with the mouthful of teeth and flesh. Leila shivered. It was just her subconscious freaking out. It had to be. After her evening procedure, it would all be over.

Someone bumped her on the shoulder. She jumped, splashing hot coffee all over her hands. The mug slipped from her grasp as she yelped, burning pain flushing across her fingers. It hit the marble countertop and bounced off.

“God!” Anne caught the mug, tossed it in the sink next to Leila, and turned on the faucet. She grabbed Leila’s hands and shoved them under the cool water. “Jesus, Leila. I’m so sorry.” She rubbed Leila’s hands with hers, which only made them sting more.

“It’s fine,” Leila said as she pulled her hands free.

“Fine? I just gave you third-degree burns.”

Third? No. Look.” Leila held up her red, but otherwise intact, hands. “Scalded, at best. I shouldn’t be zoning out at work.”

Anne leaned in to inspect Leila, the scowl of concentration on her face deeper than usual. “You sure you don’t want some burn cream for that? Might as well get some use out of that dusty first-aid kit.”

“I’m fine. In fact, I think I’m just going to get back to work.”

Leila turned to go. Anne reached out, more protests on her lips. The words caught. Leila’s eyes grew wide as Anne’s face turned purple.


Anne’s hands flew to her throat, her mouth opening and closing in silence. 

Behind Leila, someone yelled. She watched, frozen to the spot, as quiet, reserved Dan rushed forward. He wrapped his arms around Anne and squeezed.

A thick, purple and red glob flew from Anne’s mouth. It hit the floor with a splat. The edge of the mass looked jagged, as if many tiny, sharp teeth had torn it free.

For the first time in Leila’s three years of working a boring desk job in a boring cubicle, an ambulance was called. By the time the EMTs arrived, Anne swore she was fine, and hadn’t the slightest idea how she had gotten the ‘thing’, as she put it, lodged in her throat. Of course, the boss would have none of it, so off she went for a full check-up.

Leila went back to her organized, sterile, white cubicle and attempted to work. All she did was stare at her computer screen while images of torn flesh danced through her mind.

“Messed up, huh?”

Leila stifled another yelp. She really needed to calm down.

Kat frowned at her from over the white wall dividing their identically rectangular work spaces, her frizzy hair doing a good job of escaping her ponytail. “Mark said it literally looked like Anne coughed up a piece of lung.” She grimaced. “Talk about in bad taste. I hope she’ll be all right, and she’s not contagious. Wouldn’t that be great? I can see the headlines now — ‘data monkeys ground zero for new plague!’”

Leila forced a thin smile. Mark wasn’t the only one with poor taste, but she’d known Kat long enough to realize she wasn’t trying to be insensitive to Anne. She was just trying to distract her friend. Kat always seemed to know when she felt off. “Yeah. Even with getting the day off, I think I’ll pass on coughing up chunks.”

“Oh, speaking of which,” Kat’s eyes lit up. “You don’t know how much I hurled after Saturday night.”

“You’re right. I don’t.”

“What about you?”

Both of them paused. 

Kat’s face scrunched up. “Not the hurling. The guy. How’d it go with that guy you were dancing with? Did you even get his name before he whisked you off for some extra fun? Actually, who cares. How was he in bed? He seemed pretty awesome on the dance floor.”

Leila’s mind stuttered, stalled. Guy? As usual, she and Kat had visited a local night club Saturday night. She remembered the loud music pulsating in her bones. The lights flashing, the acidic smell of sweat and booze. Too much booze. The details were hazy at best. Any guy she might have met melted into the faceless crowd in her memory.

“Leila?” Kat raised an eyebrow as she studied Leila.

“I… don’t remember.”

“What he was like?”

“The guy.”

“Oh.” Kat’s expression soured. “Did he drug you? Because if he did, so help me, I’ll hunt him down and cut off his junk.”

“I… no. I don’t think so. We only drink things we order each other, right? So how would he?”

“You got pretty drunk, Leila. Maybe he… you know what, it doesn’t matter. I was an idiot for letting you go off on your own.”

“I’m not your kid, Kat.”

“No, I’m your wingman, and a piss poor one at that.” She clenched her teeth. “You think—”

A loud thunk followed by a gurgling cry from the cubicle in front of Leila cut off whatever Kat was about to say. She leaned over to look. Her face blanched. “Holy hell!”

She disappeared into her own cubicle. The sound of the landline phone at her desk being pulled from its cradle echoed back.

Bile rose in the back of Leila’s throat. Her body felt leaden, her eyes glued to the divider. She started to shake as Kat’s voice filtered through the wall. “The guy in front of us, I think he’s just stabbed himself.”

Unholy Trinity: Emergence, The March & Necromancer by Martin P. Fuller

Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.




The grave is cold, devoid of light. Something urges it to lift decaying limbs, breaking the rotting coffins lid. A cascade of soil crashes through. It digs, claws, and pushes upwards.

Time is irrelevant as it tunnels higher. A fierce desire to bite and devour settles in what passes for its mind. 

A fist breaks the surface. A final lunge. Rebirth from the womb of the tomb. It is compelled to wander the world, driven by a voracious need to sate a taste for flesh, the drip of blood on dry withered lips, and the crunch of bone. 


It walks.


The March


The dead thing was joined by a fellow journeying cadaver. They walked abroad, stumbling occasionally, decaying legs almost crumbling beneath them. Something had changed their rotting tissue, making it harder, stronger. Muscle and tendon transformed, becoming similar to rusted iron. Regeneration, especially after the first victim’s been torn apart by sharpened teeth. Flesh invigorated and restored. Their addiction to consume human meat increases. The companionship of other reanimated corpses returns a memory of community. They are given purpose. Hunt, kill, render, and feed. Bring the living into the herd of the dead.

All travel on into a blood red future.




He falls to his knees, exhausted after the incantation, hands and chest smeared with the sacrificial victims blood. The cemetery trembles with a shimmer of movement as the dead arose through the cold earth. Their decomposed brains were congealed into instruments of his will, and his will was strong.

The world would fall with his army of the dead, each containing the seeds of death and re-birth in their bite and scratch. The hellish host would thus increase and march on, blood and flesh their payment for being soldiers of the grave.

The Necromancer stands, ready to own the world.



Martin P. Fuller

Martin lives in Menston in West Yorkshire. He was in previous exitances: beer salesman, pall bearer, car delivery driver, and oh yes… a police officer for over 34
years. He now runs a small antique shop selling haunted and cursed items to the public. He started to writing in 2013, preferring the darker genre’s. He’s been published in Horror Tree, Sirens Call and a number of anthologies.

Serial Saturday: Parasites by R. Minter, Part 1

  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 Scheduled for December 2, 2023



Parasites: Part One


Eleven sacs. Eleven tiny crescents with eleven tiny heartbeats. A staccato rhythm beat in Leila’s chest, nearly as frantic as the pulses coming from the ultrasound machine.

This couldn’t be happening. She was still in bed, still asleep, dreaming the impossible. She had to be.

The technician, a short, stout woman with dirty blonde hair, shot her a sideways glance. “Um… give me just a moment, Ms. Roberts.” The picture on the ultrasound screen shifted to a hazy gray cone as she withdrew the probe and rushed out the door.

Leila’s stomach clenched. Sweat broke out across her body, bringing with it an almost unbearable itch and desperate need to vomit.

She shot up, burying her face in the barf bag clenched in her hands. Bitter liquid flowed out, leaving in its wake a burning in her throat and nose. She spit, grimaced, gulped air. None of it made sense. She’d only come to the clinic because of the stupid idea she’d woken up with. The pregnancy test had to be wrong, the ultrasound… definitely wrong, on more than one level.

A sharp knock at the door heralded the return of the technician, this time flanked by a taller woman. 

“Hello Ms. Roberts. I’m Dr. Stetson,” the tall doctor said.

Leila frowned. She was getting sick of hearing her last name this morning. “Hello.”

Dr. Stetson sat down on the stool near Leila’s feet and put a hand on her arm. Leila fought the urge to pull away.

“I’m going to take a look, if you don’t mind.”

She minded. Leila had come to the clinic on paranoia, waited nearly an hour to strip and lay out on an ice cold exam table so a strange woman could prod her and tell her the impossible. At the same time, she needed someone to tell her this all had been a huge mistake. User error. Sorry your technician is new and can’t read ultrasounds or count. If getting that answer meant another stranger prodding her, so be it.

Leila forced a half-smile, which felt about as natural as walking upside down. “Sure, go ahead.”

Dr. Stetson gave her a final pat, then scooted toward Leila’s feet. A few uncomfortable moments later, the ultrasound screen lit up with dark ovals.

The doctor, unlike the technician, counted silently. Her eyes narrowed. Her other hand came up, moving across the screen as she counted again.

A twist of the probe made Leila want to kick her, and one oval grew larger, revealing the gray crescent within. More twists, more shapes. Leila gritted her teeth as her stomach turned again.

The probe retreated just in time. 

The technician, who had until this point been wringing her hands by the door, jumped as Leila vomited. “I’ll go get you another bag.”

Dr. Stetson watched the technician leave, then turned to Leila.

Finally, she’d get the truth, and she could go back to her life.

“Ms. Roberts, there’s no easy way to say this. Not only are you about seven weeks pregnant, you have eleven implanted embryos.”

Dr. Stetson continued, saying something about never seeing so many before, but the words barely registered. Ice solidified in Leila’s veins, clashing with the inferno on her skin. Her pulse pounded in her ears, faster and faster. The room spun.

She couldn’t be pregnant with one baby, let alone eleven. She was careful. This didn’t happen if you were careful.


Leila stared at the piece of paper in her hand the entire bus ride home. Dozens of bodies pressed in. Sardines in a can, not unlike what was happening in her uterus. Nausea settled in at the thought. The medicine the doctor gave her kept her from spewing all over the three businessmen, one businesswoman, and two teens in cut-off jeans packed in front of her. Just barely. Leila’s face flushed as the room tilted.

She focused harder on the paper, on the hand-written scribble at the bottom of the page.

Room available at 4pm tomorrow. Emergency d&c.

Leila had never wanted kids. She took great lengths to keep it that way, yet the thought of doctors digging around her innards made her skin prickle almost as much as the parasites busy sucking her dry.

The bus screeched to a halt in front of an apartment building. Leila stood, moved toward the door, and half the bus occupants moved with her. People closed in, rubbed against her exposed arms, legs, back. Electricity shot from her head to her toes. Bodies crushing in, constricting her lungs until she couldn’t breathe.


Her voice came out weak, drowned in the racket of dozens of people trying to be the first off the bus.


She pushed the person in front of her. They shifted slightly, not even bothering to look. Leila changed targets, elbowing the guy beside her in the ribs and wedging herself into the little space he made as he reeled back with a glare. 

Crimson ran down his face. He yelped, his hand shooting to his nose where blood ran like a faucet. Leila’s eyes went wide, but she didn’t wait to apologize. 

The sides of the bus squeezed in until she swore she heard her bones pop. She fought her way to the front as the shuffling of feet turned to yells of anger and surprise, not stopping until the smell of urine in the stairwell gave way to the smell of black roses blooming on her balcony. The smell of cinnamon pot-pourri joined the flowers as she opened her apartment door. It nearly knocked her off her feet, but the familiarity of it washed some of the heat in her skin away. 

Leila slammed the door behind her as she spun, throwing the bolt in case anyone from the bus decided to complain in person. She lay her head against the cool wood, her arms trembling at her sides. 

She was so tired.

Her grasp on wakefulness fled with the last bits of adrenaline. She stumbled to her bed, welcoming the oblivion of sleep.


Feeble cries surrounded her. Babies. Her babies. Leila searched for them through inky-black. She walked, ran, until her lungs ached and her legs gave way. As she hit the ground, infantile wails turned to rumbling growls. Low at first, then louder and louder. Something skittered in the darkness.

Leila strained to see it as a hiss echoed. A lunge from her left followed by the copper scent of blood. The black flashed to red. A small creature crouched. Under it, another lay, with bare, thin arms splayed out.

A sickening crunch, and a squeal. The top creature looked back at Leila. Wet flesh hung from jagged teeth, out of place on its babyish face. Large rheumy eyes sat in its bald head. It smiled.

A shudder passed through Leila. She looked away, toward the creature still splayed underneath the other. Her stomach dropped. A gaping hole replaced where its chest should have been, hazy eyes staring blankly up. A gray heart sat still in a pool of flesh and blood.

Leila tried to run, scream. Her body refused to respond. The victor gurgled, leaning its head back to allow the piece of flesh in its mouth to slide down its gullet with a slurp.

The growls returned, ricocheting from all around.

From the red rose bulbous shapes, stretching, straining against a thin membrane which covered the floor.

A part of the membrane tore, then another, and another. Nine more razor-teethed creatures crawled from the holes, hunched over with limbs askew. Nine gazes locked onto Leila. A hiss from a creature to her left as it lunged for the one next to it.

Chaos erupted. The creatures tore into each other. Screams, screeches, ripping, crunching. Blood splattered until it dripped down Leila’s skin, filling her nose with acrid, bitter tones.

She clenched her eyes shut, the only part of her body still under her control. She focused on the sound of her breath, ragged and rapid. Anything to block out the noises.

Silence. A skitter.

Leila kept her eyes shut.

A coo. A touch on her leg which reverberated up like an electric shock, forcing her eyes open.

A single creature stood at her feet, surrounded by the flesh of the others. Blue, black, brown, pink, red. An obscene rainbow settling on a never-ending background.

The lone survivor cooed once more, a sound which should have brought the desire to protect, yet only brought revulsion. It rubbed its blood-slicked hand across her calf and grinned.

Unholy Trinity: Monstrous Reflection by Hannah Foster

Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.




The glass windows of the office reflected a hideous stranger.

Steven leaned back in his chair. His breath stuttered from his open mouth. Lukewarm coffee spilled across a manila folder as the porcelain mug clinked against his desk.

Behind the reflection, lights from the city twinkled in the darkness. 

“Steve, you good? You should be celebrating.” Someone—he couldn’t remember the name—poked his head in as he unfastened his tie.

“I’m fine,” Steven muttered, staring at the stranger in the window.

The monster stared back for a moment, then slowly pointed an emaciated finger at the man facing him.




The last mirror. 

Erik’s gaze traced his features, the mottled, inhuman skin and protruding horns. Hideous

“Erik?” His sister. She was peeking around the cellar door above him. “Come back. It’s freezing down here.”

“It doesn’t bother me,” he mumbled, staring at himself. That reflection. 

Her hand touched his spined back. Her reflection joined his, a pale, delicate figure standing stalwart next to him.

With a roar, he slammed his horns into the glass. It splintered, sending shards everywhere. His sister shrieked and cringed away, blood smeared across her cheek.

The last mirror, and the last of his humanity, gone.




The guard lay motionless in a pool of sunlight, veins branching dark across his cheeks and forehead.

I killed him.

The truth uncoiled in the princess’s mind.

My venom. My fangs. My fault. 

Footsteps, three sharp raps on the door; she swayed in the middle of the room.

Please go away. I could hurt you.

But the transformation had begun, a twisting agony that started in her feet and took hold of her body.

Go away…I’m dangerous…I will kill you.

She saw herself reflected as she changed, fangs slick and inhuman eyes slitted with malice: those of a giant serpent.


Hannah Foster

Hannah Foster is a writer and artist based in northern Nevada. Fed on a steady diet of fantasy and Gothic literature, her imagination provides an endless supply of quirky stories, mainly in the form of flash fiction. She lives with her husband and a fluffy Aussiedoodle doggo named Mabel.

Trembling With Fear – Halloween 2023 Edition

It’s one of my favorite times of year! Halloween is upon us, and if you have been unable to enjoy all the fun of this holiday, you’ll get a chance to catch up with the stories in this special edition.

This has been an especially fun edition for me because our writers have a plethora of topics and ideas to choose from. This holiday is associated with so many things from ghosts to vampires; haunting people to tricks and treats. This is a time where our writers get to stretch their creative muscles and run wild. While we had a lot of submissions this year, we’ve selected a few of our favorites. Happy Halloween!


Happy Reading!


Shalini Bethala

Editor, Trembling With Fear

As the veil between worlds thins and the shadows grow bolder, we find ourselves standing on the threshold of Halloween—a day rich with history, mystique, and a touch of the macabre. It’s Stu here, one of your curators of curiosities and teller of tales, ready to embark on a journey through the fantastical and the frightening with this special edition of ‘Trembling With Fear.’

I’ve always believed that Halloween is more than just a day on the calendar; it’s a portal to the parts of our imagination that lie dormant, waiting for permission to come alive. The stories we’ve gathered for you this year are a testament to the power of this hallowed holiday. They weave a tapestry of terror and wonder, inviting you to suspend disbelief and embrace the unknown.

Did you know that Halloween has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, a time when the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead was believed to be at its thinnest? It’s a tradition that speaks to our deepest yearnings to connect with something greater than ourselves, and it’s the perfect backdrop for our literary adventure.

So, dear reader, I invite you to join me in celebrating the allure of All Hallows’ Eve. Let’s revel in the magic and mystery of the stories that await, and perhaps, just perhaps, we’ll discover that the line between fiction and reality is not as clear-cut as it seems.

Welcome to the Halloween special of ‘Trembling With Fear.’ The shadows are waiting, and the tales are ready to be told. Are you?

Lauren McMenemy

Editor-in-Chief, Trembling With Fear