Author: Shalini Bethala

Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney

  1. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
  2. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
  3. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
  4. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney Scheduled for March 25, 2023




The Dagger: Part 3


“It is a dagger.” Cane stated, his correction not in the least bit antagonistic nor confrontational – which only piqued Detective Pineclay the more. Had the surveillance cameras in the interrogation room not been monitoring, the detective would have granted this blood-caked killer a more up-close examination of this dagger…

Yet Pineclay restrained himself. Rather than lose his cool and go off like an apoplectic gorilla – a tactic which in the right circumstances had its merits – he would instead undertake a different tact. Slaps and insinuations having provoked nothing from this kindly gentleman – a kindliness bordering on the saintly which Pineclay found revolting – he would entertain Cane’s intellect, if only to grease the wheels of the interrogation. Anything that got him off the streets and a step closer to the chamber, Pineclay reasoned, was advantageous.

“A dagger, huh?” he said, toying with its sixteen inches of silver and bronze. “You don’t say? And it’s Mesapo….Mecepo-”

“Mesopotamian.” Cane smiled without a trace of antagonism. “Or at least from an age prefacing the earliest Mesopotamian civilisations. The craftsmanship does not correlate with anything I have studied before. It is entirely unique. Born of its own creation, somehow.”

As though a concrete monument upon which pigeons roosted, Cane spoke these words while sitting entirely motionless at the table, appearing neither anxious nor nervous nor even the least bit excited. There was only one adjective with which Pineclay could describe the killer’s disposition: content. Blissful, pleasant, Christmas Day-armchair content. Revolting…

“Well guess what, professor. When I run this dagger of yours for tests I can promise you this– your prints will be all over it.”

“That I would have assumed.” Cane shrugged his bare shoulders. “For more than a month that dagger has scarcely left my hands – but not for the reasons you would assume.” he added. 

“Enlighten me. What do I assume?” Pineclay enquired with a facetious wave of the dagger. “Don’t tell me you’ve been using this thing to carve up your Thanksgiving joint? You serial killers…where’s your sense of hygiene?”

“I would never dream of committing such a profanity.” Cane tittered. “No, I have been studying that dagger punctiliously ever since the wonderful Mrs. Haven brought it to my-”

This Mrs. Haven?” Pineclay pointed the dagger to the top-most photograph on the heap – a middle-aged woman surgically dissected into two rib-exposing fillets. “You’re going to have to help me, Cane. It’s not easy putting a face to your victims after you’ve skinned them.”

Cane glowed with moon-like innocence, not in the least bit offended by the detective’s bunt. “As is my expertise, the departed brought the dagger to my offices and requested that I perform a thorough investigation of it.”

“I’d say you did more than that…”

“I did what any proficient historian would do – I focused the entirety of my attentions into uncovering the mysteries surrounding the artefact placed in my charge. For weeks I locked myself in routine: I made do with a single meal, a single hour’s rest, not answering my phone nor checking my emails nor corresponding with friends or acquaintances or the last of my remaining family until I had succeeded in my task. I assure you, detective – my efforts, my every waking hour since receiving it, have been fixated absolutely upon that very dagger you hold in your hands.”

“And the verdict?” Pineclay glanced over the glinting blade. He noted that for the first time the killer did not meet his eye. As though air expelled from a worn-bald tyre, the old man sighed despairingly.

“Triumph…I found none. I failed in my objective, wasting so many hours, days…years…” His words evanescing at the cusp of his lips, Cane seemed for a moment swallowed by self-pity. It took some time for him to reassert eye contact with the detective.

“You recognise the ugly hollowness of which I speak, do you not, Detective Pineclay? The wrenching comprehension that your best years upon this earth have been squandered thanks only to your misguided priorities? You know this feeling, deep in your gut? Yes?”

Uncomfortable, Pineclay switched his attention from Cane’s gaze to the weapon, twirling it with dismissive fidgets. All the while, the police badge in his pocket seemed to double in weight. The gun at his hip felt as heavy as a slab. “Hollow, huh? Not your smartest choice of words…

“Tell me,” he pried, lurching himself down on the table and back into the position of aggressor. “What’s this thing worth? I’m no expert on antiquities like yourself, but I’ll bet it’s twice my salary.”

“You are correct. It is a treasure of immeasurable value.”

“Wow. As that much? So that’s why you killed the wonderful Mrs. Haven…”

Cane whistled a laugh, genuinely amused by the accusation. “No, Mrs. Haven did not allow me the opportunity to commit a theft so rash – even if I had intended to. Rather – to her eternal detriment, I may add – as an award for my fruitless endeavours for which I was emphatic that I apologise, she presented me with a gift.”

Pineclay paused his fidgeting. “A gift?”

“Yes, detective. A gift so valuable it can not be measured against mere currency.” 

Cane leaned across the table and extended his delicate blood stained hands into the form of a nest.

“Would you care for me to share with you this gift, detective?”



Unholy Trinity: The Beginning of the End of the World by Dana Vickerson

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.


One: Dark Shapes Inside the Clouds


Lightning flashed, and Christine peered into the gloom. The sky was a deep, menacing gray, with overtones of sickly green. The cloud mass took on an undefined haze, save a few dark undulating masses. Christine thought of the ocean and huge moving creatures just below the surface.

A high pitch noise ripped through her head, and she looked around in panic. In every car, people jumped and pressed hands to ears.

Chaos. People ran through the darkness in all directions. More screams cascaded off the cars, and the distinct sound of crunching metal and breaking glass echoed through the night.


Two: Too Many People for the Party


“No!” Elijah screamed. “Stay back!” He pushed his body against the dumpster and threw out his hands, signaling to the approaching group.

The woman — their obvious leader, straight backed and loud when the rest looked hunched and exhausted — inched forward, her arms out in the universal we won’t hurt you gesture.

Elijah looked to the green gray sky, looking for signs of agitation. No matter her intentions, the woman and her group were a danger.

They moved closer, and Elijah looked back to the dumpster, to those he loved huddled inside. 

The sky roiled, and the pods began to fall.


Three: Suck It Up and Keep Walking


Dane moved slowly through the overgrown brush, wishing for a car, a bike, anything from the world before. His oversized boots thumped on the uneven ground, and he thought how much easier this would be if he could walk on pavement.

The pods had destroyed so much in the early days, and whatever freaky shit had leaked out when the huge things exploded made quick work of buildings, infrastructure, and every last convenience Dane had known.

Suck it up, man. You’re alive. 

He pulled down his bandana and kept walking, the toppled concrete overpass barely visible through the huge vines.


Dana Vickerson

Dana Vickerson is an architect and writer living in Dallas, though she’s most comfortable deep in the woods where she loves to sit and listen to the symphony of nature. When not crafting buildings or stories, Dana can be found analyzing horror movies with her husband or making elaborate paper dolls for her daughters. Her short fiction has appeared in Trembling with Fear and Tales to Terrify, and is forthcoming in Zooscape, Dark Matter Presents: Human Monsters and other anthologies. You can find her on Twitter @dmvickerson.

Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney

  1. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
  2. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
  3. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
  4. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney Scheduled for March 25, 2023

The Dagger: Part 2

On coming face to face with the man accused of the murder of twelve people – the murder and mutilation of at least twelve people, he reminded himself – Detective Pineclay had to double-check the mugshot in his file against the unremarkable figure seated quietly at the table. For a moment he assumed his bungling captain had made one of his all-too regular oversights and sent him to the wrong room. Maybe it was all a rib? Cap’s idea of a thigh-slapping hee-haw? 

But Pineclay was indeed in the correct interrogation room, and this was indeed Andrew Walton Cane – an elderly man just as slight, straight, commonplace and bland as the walking aid with which he shared his name. The only noteworthy feature to distinguish this most forgettable of men was his state of dress: he wore smart shoes, trousers and belt – but no shirt. From the waist up, Cane was completely bare-

And coated in a semi-set residue of dried blood as thick as psoriasis.

Standing guard beside the door was a young officer – arms folded, yawning – clearly just as underwhelmed by this killer as the detective. 

With a pat of his side-arm, Pineclay inferred that the yawning officer take his leave. “Uncuff him before you go.” he added with typical curtness. This duty the officer performed without concern, freeing the killer’s binds before locking the door on his way out.

“There. Now it’s just us…all on our lonesome.” Pineclay winked to the killer. He allowed the tension inside the cramped and already claustrophobic little room to ferment; when he sensed it was at its peak, like that of pre-thunder, he reached up and disconnected the CCTV camera in the corner, making sure that the killer was observing him – a ploy, of course, as the interrogation rooms’ cameras could only be deactivated remotely, but the old tricks worked the best. In addition, the detective switched off the overhead lights so the only illumination was that which hummed from the lamp on the table, at which the killer was seated. Pineclay wanted no outside interference, nothing that would distract either he or the killer from the task of substantiating the latter’s guilt. To this end, the room’s heating had also been dialled down beforehand.

“Cold?” the detective commented knowingly, leafing absently through his wedge of documents as he stalked the lamp light’s verge. “Bit cold to be going around half-naked, no? Not good for an old man with barely a chicken wing’s worth of fat on him. And balding. Yeah, I can see the goose-pimples behind your ears. Haven’t you been offered anything? A coat? Coffee? Not even a nice hot water bottle?” 

Needless to say, the arresting officers had made no such proffer of magnanimity – considering the atrocities he was deemed to have committed,  this little man was lucky to have made it through the system without a succession of heavy beatings, never mind a snuggle. Still, the detective posed the question all the same. Keep the ‘suspect’ guessing, that was the key. Pineclay was well versed in every devious manoeuvre, knowing them all like the back of his hand – the back of a hand which he summarily lashed across the killer’s Dunchenne smile.

“Get that smirk off your mouth!” he barked, jabbing a knuckle into the killer’s exposed and somewhat flabby torso. “Where’s your shirt, huh? Did you burn it? Where’d you dump it?” he escalated with an old-school wrestler’s chop, coating his forearm in flecks of smutty dried blood. “And whose blood is this?”

Pineclay was well aware that his inquisition was only just getting warmed up, very much in its developmental stages. Nonetheless, in spite of such stimulating motivation, he was perturbed at the killer’s lack of reaction. The majority of murderers the detective had subjugated during his long career – from the crime of passion housewives to the harelipped boilers of children – would have either pissed their pants or tried to bite him by now. But this mild and diminutive Cane…if even a wrinkle of disconcertment had blemished his ordinary face then the detective had been too slow to catch it.

“Nothing, huh? Figures. I guess you’re not so brave when you’re unarmed. And to think…an hour ago you were found kneeling next to this.” Pineclay said, tossing the ream of crime-scene photographs across the table, the bloodiest and most heinous anyone in the department, including the coroner, had ever seen. “Ring any bells? How about this one? Him? Her? Any of these?” he added, slapping down photo after photo, each more gruesome than the last. “Same pattern every time, same signature – one cut. Head to bowels. Like a hog for the pit.”

Table strewn with images of violence, the detective moved to strike the killer again – but just as before, much to his frustration, the killer did not flinch beyond an initial twinge of inconsequential imbalance. Worse, in fact. Upon casting his eyes across the photographs, the colourless man seemed only to examine them with a religious wonder, as though baring witness to some obscured beauty nestled within the proliferated deluge of so much blood and entrails. To Pineclay’s growing sense of umbrage, it felt as though he were merely presenting this gentile old codger with nothing more unsavoury than the Polaroids of his newborn children, the residue plasma which accompanies a labour irrelevant and essentially invisible when set against the miraculous inception of a child. 

Having been indisposed for the birth of both his children, however, Pineclay could not confirm this assertion – he thus accelerated his interrogation, pacing ever-tightening circles around the killer.

“Yeah, you were a clever bastard, I’ll give you that. No connections between your victims, no trail of breadcrumbs left for me to follow. Guess I’m getting old and fat, huh? Not so willing to make the sacrifices as I used to be…otherwise I’d have brought you in myself.” he snarled regretfully.

“Yet still I’m left wondering,” the detective pondered with intentional theatricality. “Little sprout like you, arms like pea shoots. Some of those victims, your victims, were big lugs, twice your size – how’d you manage to slice them up so clean? Always figured you used a power saw, or some kind of spinning blade like they have down at the abattoir. Never pictured you wielding this hunk of junk.”

Slipping it flippantly from its evidence bag as though the last chip in the packet, Pineclay held the long-bladed knife under the lamplight, rotating it from side to side so its blade did glare into the killer’s eyes – not that he blinked.

“What is this thing, anyway? Some kind of letter opener you got in a cracker?” the detective teased, juggling the knife from palm to palm. It was heavier than it looked, its sixteen inches of silver blade and bronze handle weighing nearly as much as a brick. This being the first time he had actually seen the murder weapon, the detective now saw that the tip of the blade curved into a small hook no wider than an owl’s claw, while the intricate and ornate detailing around the handle was perhaps Grecian? Egyptian?

“Mesopotamian.” the killer announced with a disconcerting softness, a voice equally as genteel as the man himself. “And it is not a knife, detective, nor a letter opener.”


Unholy Trinity: What Can You Do? by Andy Martin

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.

What Can You Do?



Morning and the air was cool, the city still sleeping except for the birds, so when Kate got to 2nd and Reed she kept going.

She was three blocks passed her usual turn around when she skidded to a halt.

She’d never seen this little park before, tucked in on the west side of Two Street and in the shadow of 95.

She jogged in place, taking the statue in, then shook her head and turned for home.


“You ever see that crazy statue?” she asked Craig.

“The Band of Brothers one?”

“No, it’s like somebody’s Nona…and a UFO.” 




“I thought you were kidding.”

She gave him a look.


The statue was indeed somebody’s Grandma. She was waving a rolling pin in front of a crashed UFO. A little, big-headed alien was crawling out-


Allied Bread was on fire, and Marie could hear air raid sirens over the fire trucks.

Marie was running toward the bread factory, she had neighbors, friends working there, what could she do? 

A silver disk spun out of the columns of smoking rising from the factory and poured narrow beams of green light into the street, flames exploding where they touched down-




“This is like some weird art thing, right?”

“I don’t know. If any place can keep a secret, it’s South Philly.”


Confused screams in the street, no one believing what spun above Two Street spraying laser-death.

The saucer dove to incinerate a fire truck and clipped one of Allied Bread’s Egyptian Revival columns and skipped across Two Street like a stone.

The bubble at the top opened, a little gray bug-eyed thing crawling out-

Marie was running, remembering the rolling pin in her hand, neighbors, friends, burning up all around her and raised it high-

What could she do?


The End

Andy Martin

Andy Martin is an archaeologist and musician who lives in South Philadelphia with his partner and cat. His writing profile on Instagram is @grassapewritesandyells. His music can be found at and Instagram @clamfight.

Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney

  1. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
  2. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
  3. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
  4. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney Scheduled for March 25, 2023

The Dagger: Part I

Detective Pineclay barged shoulder-first from the elevator and down the corridor toward the Homicide Department’s interrogation rooms. He was crimson with indignation. His bulldozer strides fuelled by equal measures caffeine and gall, the veteran detective could not believe his luck – or, to be more accurate, lack thereof.

Leaning beside the door of Interrogation Room Two with that desultory Southern indifference he was so renowned for, Captain Finlay greeted the sour-faced detective.

“Congratulations.” he yawned from his slovenly recline. “Figured I better call you, seeing as the lights were out in your office. Not like the department’s resident night-owl to be absent.” He yawned again, knowingly, peering all the while through the small rectangular window in the door. “What kept you? No, don’t tell me – your idea of a vacay is working a few extra hours down in the bomb squad?”

With an insubordinate grunt, Pineclay shoved the rotund captain to one side so as to peer through the wired glass – as though sticking his arm into a scorpion’s nest only to retrieve a cold, shed skin, the resulting sag of the detective’s already downcast features suggested that he wasn’t exactly elated with what he saw. Or rather, who.

“You should be happy, no?” Finlay assumed. “You’ve been on this guy’s ass for a helluva long time.”

“Too long.” the detective replied, snatching the file of arrest documents from under his captain’s arm. He scrutinized every page, his expression of disdain consistent. “Nine months on this case, nine damned months, and he gets himself caught the one night I take off early.

“What difference does that make?” the captain shrugged, turning his obesity back to the window. “Your guy got lazy, you got lucky – that’s how it goes.

“Still, kind of ironic, huh? All those hours you’ve spent cooped in your office, haunting this place like the spectre of some frontier sheriff gunned down at his desk, and when a break does come your way–”

“I was still working.” the detective corrected, nostrils flared with an indignant sniff. “I always take my work home with me.”

This the captain had noticed. All too clearly. “Another case?”

The detective gave something resembling a nod.

“Christ, Pineclay. The way you burn the midnight oil we’ll soon be shipping it in by the barrel!

“Although isn’t today the day…you know?”


“And you’ve still?–”


The captain rubbed the folds of his chin. “And your wife doesn’t–”

“Yeah.” the detective repeated, an unmistakable stone-faced stipulation that the matter was not to be furthered – unless gunshots were fired.

“Anyhow, however you slice it,” the captain plucked sharply at his braces, “your man’s been caught. Red handed. Blood red – right up to his wrists in it, if those money shots are anything to go by.” he nodded fleetingly to the crime scene photographs sticking out from the file, not wishing to see them again lest he regurgitate his last three meals. “There’s enough in that file alone to fix him with the penalty, never mind the evidence you’ve already gathered. And that knife they found him with, the one still wet in the bag, there. If that’s not a final nail in the coffin I don’t know what is.”

Wearily, Pineclay held the bag up to the corridor’s fluorescent tubes, casting the silhouette of a long-bladed knife across his wearied face. The detective remained staring up at the knife long enough for his captain to interject the disquiet with his typical bedside patter.

“Jesus, Pineclay. I’ve seen porcupines with less stubble. When was the last time you slept?”

The detective twisted the knife in the light. “The last time you skipped lunch. Captain.”

Finlay rolled back to the window. “Touché. You friendless bastard.”

A woman dressed in a sharp suit and a sharper scowl approached the two men, her bayonet heels clipping against the corridor’s tiles. “Here. Here’s everything I’ve been able to dig up on your killer.” she insisted, handing Pineclay a slither of biographical profile which the detective considered to be meagre. Pathetically meagre.

“No arrests. No misdemeanors. Nothing previous in all his seventy years…” He flipped back and forth through the half-dozen pages, all the while disconsolately shaking his head. “Not a lot to go on, Doc.”

“Cut her some slack, Pineclay.” Finlay scoffed. “Shrink’s been here half the night trawling that up, never mind handling all the other loonies under her guard. If she doesn’t work as hard as you then she works just as long! Speaking of which, Rushton.” the captain addressed the woman in a tone heavy on the rhetorical. “Did you ever get around to taking that honeymoon with your newly-wed?”

“Not as yet, Cap.”

“But you’re planning to, right?”

“Hawaii.” the psychiatrist replied with android formality. “Once I’ve cleared my backlog.”

The captain blew out a sigh. All this ambition exhausted him. “Married nearly a month and you’ve only been home to shower. Damn it, Rushton, you’re not even wearing your wedding ring.”

“I was worried it might get damaged, sir.” she stated, all the while swiping through the itinerary on her phone. “Besides, it interferes with my work.” With her free hand, the department’s sole psychiatrist reached into her shoulder bag and retrieved another file of documents, this one so thick it could chock an airliner. She passed this dog-eared wedge to Pineclay – as though a parcel being exchanged between conveyor belts, the detective accepted it without acknowledgement and began shuffling tonight’s newly acquired material into the ever-thickening chronicle, these late additions testing the strength of its already overtaxed binding. All the while, Rushton continued scrolling her phone, the blue light bleaching the colour from her face.

Casting a disparaging glance between his two most prolific – if misanthropic – subordinates, Captain Finlay exhaled heavily. “You two should have an affair. Go find a cheap hotel somewhere outside of town and get down to some illicit, ham-cold fornicating.”

An appointment to keep and seemingly oblivious to her captain’s remark, Rushton made her excuses and clipped away. Pineclay concluded his shuffling, and checked his watch.

“Has he been primed?”

The captain chuckled, stepping aside from the door. “He’s all yours, Pineclay. Go do what makes you happy. Hey, but before you go,” he added, catching the detective’s elbow. “When this case is through, how about you take that vacation you’re long overdue? Unwind, huh? Blow off some steam.”

“Yeah yeah.” the detective frowned, the idea sounding about as productive as trying to sell bath salts on the deck of the Titanic. “There’s problems with the Urbana case that Collins needs my help with, and the trio of bodies we dug up near the lakes, and there’s the case–”

“There’s always a case, Pineclay.” Captain Finlay growled, impressing the authority that his rank imbued. “For once, why don’t you try solving the problems you’ve got between the cases? Take that wife of yours to see the grand-kids. Visit your daughter. Christ, do regular things like regular folk – before you finally snap and I have to turn that damned shrink on you. Yeah?”

Alas, deaf to his superior’s advice, the detective had already slunk into the interrogation room and slammed the door behind him.

Unholy Trinity: Cotton Ball by Gully Novaro

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.

Cotton Ball

Adam was a curious boy, like every three year old. As often seems to be the case, curiosity was bold. 

Chanced upon a cotton ball, deep within a rose, noticed it was really small, and stuffed it up his nose. 

Then his throat felt funny, a thousand tiny legs, the cotton ball was spider web protecting little eggs. 

Daddy tried to bring him back, seeing he couldn’t breathe, attempted doing mouth to mouth, got spiders on his teeth.

This is how the story ends, now Adam is no more, because he came upon a choice no nose has known before.


Little Worm

Little worm whispering in my head, where did you come from? And why would you say that?

That rings true, little worm. Your voice appeared after we brought mom and baby Jane from the hospital. Makes sense I met you there. 

But why would you say those things?

You saw?

Oh, little worm inside of my head, if you saw we need to do something! They swapped baby Jane with an evil monster baby?

But how can I know? Pinch its little toe?

It cried! You spoke true!

Stab it? Okay little worm. Mom will be so happy with us!



I watched her sleep, victim to the sedatives in her water.

Admiration. Envy. Hatred. 

Bella, the good twin. The one with beautiful auburn hair and perfect green eyes. It should have been me.

I took a deep breath, grabbed my scissors, and cut her hair. I needed all of it. Snip.

I looked in the mirror, holding her hair to my head. I still wasn’t beautiful. Something broke.

I held Bella’s mouth open and forced her hair down her throat, pushing it deep with my fingers. 

And when I was done I went to sleep, the choking gasps my lullaby.



Gully Novaro

Gully Novaro is a Non-Binary writer from Buenos Aires, Argentina, with love for all things out of this world. Their work aims to explore feelings of dread, solitude and wonder, and has been featured in “Wyrms: An Anthology of Dragon Drabbles”, “Well, This is Tense” and the “Dystopian Drabble Showcase, Vol. 2”, among others.
Twitter: @GullyNovaro

Unholy Trinity: The Lure by Tony Hipwell

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 Lure

Picking the right lure is the trick. Not all fish are attracted to the same insect you see. I take my time and craft the perfect fascinator for my quarry. Everything would be perfect if it weren’t for all the mosquitos. I spend half the night brushing them away. One in particular dances around me to the point of contempt. Finally, I snap and angrily crush it between my hands. I open my palm with grim satisfaction to find a curious hook resting in my finger. The thin line connected to it grows taut and I’m lifted into the air.


Black Rain

They fall like black rain. Bound in tear drop vessels made of alien tar from a pitiless storm, they hatch upon landfall and crash upon the inhabitants. I wanted to stay and fight, I wanted to help my friends, but I saw too many collapse into a mess that no longer resembled them.

I ran. Made for a cargo ship that was breaking atmosphere as the malice began. Hunched inside a cramped hold and streaming in sweat made from fear, I praised my ingenuity for sneaking aboard. I had escaped. And then I felt the black rain on my neck.


The Eye

I adore the stars. A billion pin pricks in the nights veil. As a child I had whiled away countless hours studying them. I still have my first telescope. It sits now beside the one I designed. Larger than any built by mankind to see further than we ever have before. I excitedly scan the endless horizon, the stars never brighter. They almost seem to pierce the blackness to reveal a world beyond. Suddenly, they begin to blink out as a great shadow moved in front of them. No behind. And then I saw the hungry eye behind the stars.

Tony Hipwell

Tony is a multi-award-winning storyteller whose work has screened at Academy Award, Canadian Screen Award, BAFTA and BIFA qualifying festivals such as Fantasia, FrightFest, Edinburgh, and in competition at the Leeds International Film Festival.

In 2012 Tony co-wrote, edited and directed the micro budget feature, Whoops! The comedy horror premiered to sell out audiences at the 2013 Raindance Film Festival before being picked as the only British film for the national Raindance on Tour in 2014 with Vue cinemas.

Since then, Tony has developed projects with the BBC and Searchlight Pictures, worked as the Video Producer for Young Thugs Records in association with EMI Records and been selected for the inaugural Future of Film Incubator.

Tony’s most recent project, an award-winning adaptation of ‘Standing Woman’ by internationally acclaimed author Yasutaka Tsutsui has screened at academy award qualifying festivals such as Deadcenter and HollyShorts and is now available on ALTER. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @hipsince1980.

Trembling With Fear – Valentine’s 2023 Edition!

It’s that time of year again! When February rolls around, its the season for love, for passion, and for all the creepy twists and turns where love can take you. 

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Sure, it’s not a holiday that most people would associate with “spine-chilling”, but that didn’t stop our writers from crafting bewitching tales that will have you thinking twice about a “bad” date. From long lost loves to wishes gone bad, other worldly experiences to characters blinded by love (or lust), this collection of short stories and drabbles will leave you never seeing Cupid’s Day the same again. 

Come with me as we dive into these illustrious works of fiction that explore all the ways love can take a turn for the worst. 

Happy Valentine’s!


Shalini Bethala

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Love is in the air!
Of course, what some might consider love isn’t shared by the rest of us.
Today, we have a fantastic mix of stories from wanting to bring love to us no matter what the cost to what happens when we let love fade away.
As always, we hope you enjoy!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree