Author: Stephanie Ellis

Serial Killers: On the Origin of the Species (Part 4) by Avital Malenky

Serial Killers are part of our Trembling With Fear line and are serialized stories which we’ll be publishing on an ongoing basis.

At first, Hannah was just fascinated by the changes she saw in her daughter, watching her baby evolve in a new and unexpected way. Like every first-time mother, Hannah would sit and watch her daughter for hours, enjoying her bursting life. She also read every book the colony had on record about babies and their development, as she wanted to do a good job at being a mother. And now, having watched her daughter closely only weeks after the attack, Hannah was sure Edith was not growing up normally.

And not long after that Hannah started changing as well.

Hannah hid the changes in Edith’s appearance from the other colonists. Because of her position as a nurse, it was quite easy. Hannah inspected Edith alone when no one else saw, stating the excuse of checking her at home for time constraints. On the day after she would file the fake results in her office unchallenged.

Hannah breastfed and washed Edith alone and had to manage the poor baby alone after the attack. Edith developed a monstrous temper seemingly overnight and when Edith started biting and scratching her, Hannah couldn’t make her stop.

The poor girl had been through so much and Hannah tried to be with her every moment she could. But the baby’s temper was frightening her, Hannah’s breasts and hands were slowly being covered by Edith’s bites and scratch marks. She broke the skin so many times it left gushing red marks on Hannah’s once flawless skin. Hannah cried in silence as her tears and blood mixed with her daughter’s.

 Thankfully during the day time, or what the settlers knew to be days on Dryad, Edith seemed to be no trouble at all. The baby slept through almost the entire 16 hours’ period like the angel she used to be before the attack.

The biting and scratching nightmare during feeding time didn’t really stop until Hannah started changing herself. After a while, Hannah realized it was Edith’s biting her and breaking the skin which started the changes in her own body.

Still, she kept the altercations in them both a complete secret. Hannah’s skin and hair were changing, Edith was taking on a different shape. It was easy at first when it was just Edith that needed hiding. But eventually, Hannah will run out of all the makeup she brought with her. Hannah tried to stay at home with Edith as much as she possibly could to avoid being seen and that also worked well for a little while.

Itzhak came home very late almost every night. Even weeks and months after the attack he was still joining the search teams whenever he could. Hannah encouraged it, so Edith was already in her room when he arrived.

So you see the changes were relatively easy to conceal, and for a while, she did very well. But then her makeup ran out and Hannah had meetings she couldn’t cancel. Eventually, someone will notice the green hue in her skin or the curved nature her hands were taking and trouble will start. 

She found she watched the changes appear in herself as if she was having an out-of-body experience like she took too many drugs and was having some kind of an endless bad dream. It was almost comic what a predictable ending her daughter and herself will have. Hannah could see it all as if it had already happened.

Itzhak will find her and Edith out soon enough and will then be compelled to kill them both. Hannah couldn’t see another way to spare herself and her baby a lynching by the colonists. There was another option of being kept alive as a research subject for the human’s research on how to survive what happened to her. Being a medicine practitioner herself, Hannah saw the value in that, but she would honestly rather die than become a lab rat. 

When the extent of Hannah’s treasonous actions will become common knowledge, Hannah and Edith will no longer be safe, let alone welcome, in the colony.

Hannah intentionally didn’t keep track of any of her daughter’s changes and consistently destroyed all records of her and her daughter’s vitals as soon as she got them. Those actions will have probably earned her their deaths.

As Hannah and her daughter were becoming something else, something not human, the colonists will probably want blood for no other reason than for the crushing of the happy dream of peaceful existence on Dryad. Hannah would be a perfect vent for their rage and desperation when they find her out.

In a few days, she will not be able to hide anymore. Her skin was changing into something green and slimy and her pupils were elongating and deepening their hues, Edith looked more like a tadpole than a baby with every passing day.

Looking at herself in the mirror one morning Hannah realized she couldn’t mask the changes anymore. She decided to take her baby and run. A panicked Hannah packed some food and clothes and went out into the jungle in order to disappear forever, not sure exactly where to go. It was fear more than anything that made her run, Hannah didn’t have a plan.

Walking deeper into the vegetation with its eerie music and dark humidity, something stopped her from leaving the track into the thick of the forest she walked once before. They couldn’t follow the river, that’s the first place The Watch would look.

No, Hannah and Edith would have to go into the vines. Taking that step out of civilization and into the jungle seemed suddenly very final. Standing on the edge of the living quarter and the wild green maze outside, she inhaled deeply and Edith growled. The vines stretched in their frames, seemingly making room for Hannah.

For the first time in her life she could smell how far the river was. It was calling her. She inhaled again but decided to wait before answering its call and crawling into the vines. Edith was wailing in her arms, trying to break free, the baby screeched in the dark and cold like an animal.

They had to leave the open road, anyone could hear and see them out here. Hannah found an open warehouse on the outskirts of the settlement and hauled up. Desperate and alone, she hopelessly waited for her husband and their deaths.

Itzhak showed up a few short hours later, frantic, he was terrified something had happened to his wife and child. He had the whole colony looking for them and was half out of his mind by the time he was nearing her. Feeling him approaching the creaky door, recognizing his smell out of a thousand new smells she was suddenly aware of, Hannah made a decision and stepped into the light.

She knew what she looked like, wild, disheveled, stranger to him than she had ever seemed before. Edith was hissing in her arms, her little talons pulling at Hanna’s green hair. Hannah was already crying when Itzhak ran towards her.

“Go ahead Itzhak, kill me, I won’t resist I promise.”

Hannah was determined to make him end it quickly.

“I’m begging you, I don’t want to be a lab rat and I don’t want to be lynched either. Just make sure I am dead before you kill the baby, Promise me before you kill her! I can’t – “

Hannah fell to her knees, putting her daughter carefully on the ground. Hannah saw Edith’s little face, she looked so cute, elongated lizard eyes but still so baby blue. “Goodbye my baby girl my lovely little girl, I loved you from the minute I knew you were inside me and I hope you felt it too, I really did try…” The rest was lost in her sobs.

His voice broken as well, endless minutes later, Itzhak spoke to her.

“Get up Hannah, I’m not going to kill anyone. Fuck Humanity baby, let’s take over this planet and live, I’m not giving up on either one of you. You are my wife and Edith is my daughter, change me as well Hannah, I’m with you forever.”

Hannah, Edith, and Itzhak survived, as did the rest of the colony, once they understood the inevitability of being one with us.

Avital Malenky

I grew up in an ultra-orthodox community in Israel but left that life very young. Having traveled all over the world after my Military service in Army Intelligence, I settled with my husband and son in England. I battle PTSD daily and am caring for my son, recently diagnosed with autism.

Angry Robot Is About To Be Open For Novels!

Deadline: July 19th, 2020
Payment: Advances and royalties
Theme: Science fiction, fantasy, and horror. From old-school to modern, pulpy to literary, classic to cross-over, if it’s genre, and it’s good, then we’d love to read it!
Note: This call officially opens on July 6th but we wanted to get this up asap in case you needed some last-minute polishing on your story!

Open the Pod Bay Doors! Open Submissions 2020

It’s the most wonderful time of the year once again!

No, not Christmas, the Angry Robot Open Submissions Period!

If you’re an SFF/horror writer without agent representation, this is YOUR chance to submit your novel-length manuscripts to Angry Robot Books!

In recent years our Open Submissions have led to publication of acclaimed and award-nominated novels including Shrouded LoyaltiesThe Light Years, and The Imaginary Corpse, and as always we’re excited to see what gems are sent in by budding authors this time around. As an imprint devoted to publishing the very best in genre fiction from the very widest range of voices, we particularly encourage those from minority and underrepresented backgrounds to send us their work.

The 2020 Open Subs period will run for two weeks, from 12:00am BST (British Summer Time) Mon Jul 6th to 11:59pm BST Sun Jul 19th – there’s no preference of any kind given to early submissions, so please do take the time to polish your submission documents before sending them in!

What we’re looking for:

  • novel-length works (60k words minimum) only
  • science fiction, fantasy, and horror. From old-school to modern, pulpy to literary, classic to cross-over, if it’s genre, and it’s good, then we’d love to read it! You can check out our complete publication list here to see how wide our tastes run
  • one submission per author, so take this as an opportunity to send us your best work!
  • finished manuscripts only

What we’re not (currently) looking for:

  • short story collections, novelettes, novellas, noveltinos, or anything else that’s not a novel
  • works in progress
  • works that have been submitted to our Open Submissions in previous years, unless they have undergone significant reworking – think a major rewrite/structural edit, rather than just tinkering here and there.

How to submit

Send your submission documents to [email protected], any time between 12:00am Mon July 6th BST (British Summer Time) and 11:59pm BST Sun Jul 19th.

To meet the submission guidelines, you’ll need to send us:

  • A cover letter introducing yourself and pitching your work (600 words max)
  • A separate MS-Word compatible doc including your work’s synopsis (one page max), and its first three chapters or first 15 pages (whichever is longer)

If we like what we read, we’ll get in touch to ask to see the full manuscript, and go from there!

Please note, the Open Submissions period is exclusively for authors without an agent – if you do have an agent, and you’ve got a manuscript you’d love to send to Angry Robot, ask your agent to send it to [email protected]!

Thanks very much lovely humans, we’re excited to get a taste of your amazing stories!

Via: Angry Robot and their agented submission call page.

Trembling With Fear 06/28/20

We’re in a strange place at the moment, a bit like one foot in the pandemic and the other out of it. I’ve continued to go into work and the stresses and demands of that have increased as students return. The school is strict in terms of distancing and hygiene and we enforce it as we should but I find those beyond the gates adopting different standards. I went out last night with my family for a drive to Southsea, hoping to have a quiet evening stroll along the sea front only to find the beaches, parks and shops packed with no social distancing whatsoever. Note, we didn’t stop, we drove out nearer to Portsmouth, found a quiet spot and had a short walk. It felt like everyone was on holiday but us. To cap it all, I heard news today that StokerCon UK has moved its dates to the end of January 2021. This is term time and those who work in school are not normally allowed time off. It looks like I might not be able to make it. ☹

Now looking at the bright side, and I am one of those who prefers to do that. High Point Number 1, my print copy of Todd Keisling’s Devil’s Creek from Silver Shamrock arrived. I’ve been wanting to read the book since it was announced. High Point Number 2: my little side project with David Shakes – The Infernal Clock – has started ticking again and we are creating an anthology, Inferno, based on the circles and rings in Dante’s Inferno. This has been partly by invite but we have put up a submission call on Horror Tree where a number of spaces have been reserved for those in either LGBT+ or POC communities. This is an intentional step to ensure greater representation in the Infernal Clock and to build up contacts for future work. Remind me I said this was a high point when I’m ploughing through edits! 😊

On a completely separate subject, I’ve been working on a small collaboration with Alyson Faye and wanted to create a .mobi but didn’t want to use Kindle. To get round this, I’ve used Calibre – E-book Management System software. It’s free and I’ve found really easy to use. I’ve tested the .mobi on my Kindle Fire and Aly’s tested it on hers and it worked. If you’ve not used it before, have a go. I can see it being of use for ARC copies as well.

Our first story in this week’s Trembling With Fear is Within by Maura Yzmore. The story itself is excellent but of particular note is its structure which really pulls the tale along. It is the internal voice, the inner dialogue which informs the reader as the main character talks to the detectives. It doesn’t give away the whole picture mind, at least not straight away. Little asides and snippets of information pull you on. Each turn of the conversation adding more whilst allowing the reader to build the story for themselves. As we near the end, these internal comments become more emotional, more detailed, unutterably tragic – literally.

Before My Very Eyes by Scarlet Berry, shows the pitfall of being a remote witness. On the one hand modern technology brings you closer together, on the other it highlights exactly how far apart you truly are. A terrible conflict.

Room 44 by Mike Rader is a very clever and spooky take on our pandemic suffering, pointing to its roots and to the warnings which went unheeded. Growing a story from reality is traditionally one of the ways we explore and learn from our mistakes.

Stick A Cork In It by Steven Holding certainly fills a lot of holes! Horror with a touch of dark humour at the end.

Take care

Steph

 

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

This is going to be a quick set of bullet points. I’ve got 5 huge deadlines at the day job this week and 3 next so I’m pretty behind.
– First up, A Trembling With Fear anthology update! We’ve uploaded the text to Amazon and are now having the covers finalized. I think we’ll be able to get proofs out VERY soon and actually get these up for order.
– Next up, we’ve had a nice influx of drabble but could still use more. Please send us your 100-word tales! 😉
– On a personal note, my oldest son is done with the training wheels on his bike as of last Friday. Proud dad right here!
Hopefully, you’ve all had a good week!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

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Friday Update: Pandemic Book Launches

Pandemic Book Launches and Hot Off the Indie Press  26.06.20

In addition to Jim McLeod’s Pandemic Book Launch group on Facebook – go here for more infomation – Joe Mynhardt has set up a collaborative Facebook group for the independent presses: Hot Off the Indie Press. This one carries all sorts of posts from indie publishers to ‘promote sales, sales and opportunities for authors’ amongst other things, if you want to see what they’re up to and what’s available, check it out here.  

If you buy, please also consider leaving reviews for the authors and even dropping them a line on twitter or their websites to have a chat with them about the book.

Pandemic Book Launches 

 *** Charity Anthologies ***

     Diabolica Britannica, ed Keith Anthony Baird. Raising money for the NHS. More details soon!

 

 

 

 

They Slipped Through the Net

This section features books recently published but which have only just come onto our radar.

14th May

June 2020

1st June 2nd June June
12th June16th June 22nd June

24th June

 

July 2020

 

1st July 8th July 20th July
20th July

 

August 2020

4th August10th August

 

18th August 28th August

September

10th Sept

 

Future Releases (note: dates not always available)

Happy reading.

Steph

 on behalf of Stuart and the Horror Tree Team

 

Serial Killers: On the Origin of the Species (Part 3) by Avital Malenky

Serial Killers are part of our Trembling With Fear line and are serialized stories which we’ll be publishing on an ongoing basis.

The search party walked the makeshift streets heading towards the river. The air was almost mute in Hannah’s ears as she walked with the rest of the searchers. She was out on the alien planet, looking for its monsters. The vines absorbed the sounds as the vegetation completely took over the surface. Within a few short steps, the small party left their budding civilization and its loud white noises far behind.  

They followed the river. The only paths carved through the greenery were made by the force of water as there were no animals to create animal tracks, or so they thought. The humans didn’t know yet where the creatures lived or moved so they started with searching places they could access.

Dryad had 48 moons which reflected its sun constantly, effectively keeping daylight constant above the canopy. The many clouds and endless rain were blocking some of the sunlight but could hardly control the jungle.

Deep under the canopy where the humans lived the sun was mostly blocked, seeing the sky was a great surprise for Hannah and a long-awaited delight. How she missed the sun. The constant darkness she lived in darkened her mind and she hadn’t noticed, not until she came into the light, looking for her daughter’s monsters.

Walking the bright green edges of the forest, the water whispering around her feet, Hannah felt in a trance. The sounds of the planet were clear and carried pure in the air, free of any vocal growls, they rang precise in her mind. Vines of all widths and colors had made an impenetrable wall to her left and right and she ravished the sights of the bright green ravine coming to life in the sharp yellow sunlight.

The bottom layers of the vines along the banks had been rotting away into compost for eons it seems, how many of them Hannah had no idea. A year here – that is, the time it takes Dryad to circle once around its star is 90 earth days thereabout. The years were short because Dryad was a big planet and its Sun a small one.

The dead plants at the base of the living walls lost their spectrum of green colors and took on a rainbow of dead earthly tones. Browns and greys, purples and mustards. Beneath the green canopy the planet was so much more colorful than Hannah ever imagined. The walls of vegetation stretched for meters above her, as far as she could see, swallowing all sunlight in its hungry pigments, leaving only a slither of  direct light Hannah saw crisscrossing across the water. Everything was so different and alien, how could they ever hope to find anything in this mass?

These animals, these taloned monsters, stayed away for years. Their attack was a complete surprise and everyone in the colony hoped it would not repeat itself again. Hannah, as well, hoped to find a weak enemy if they had to find an enemy at all.

Far better would be to find nothing despite all the searches. That would mean the two species could be separated completely, each of them ignoring the other, it was a big world. Slowly, the other species will be forgotten. Out of sight out of mind.

Hannah knew the people were angry and hurt. The attack on her daughter felt like a personal attack on each of them and they all took it to heart. They felt that after all these years thinking Dryad was the perfect planet, everything crumbled to dust the night her little Edith was attacked. Hannah knew this and the fact that if push comes to shove, humanity will do whatever it can to survive. All the aliens will have to die. If this beautiful world will have to be wiped clean, so be it. It was life above all for the humans.

The planet was full of sound even though it was almost devoid of life, Hannah was wrong thinking it was silent. The vines strained against each other and were making a moaning haunting sound as the wind picked up. The rippling gurgling of the water gushed in the gorge and bounced off of the living walls with every step she took along the shallow banks. The life of Dryad all around her made the air vibrate with a non-stop hypnotic melody. How precious was this universe, how terrifying and unforgiving to us.    

The vines when rotted looked like old bones even though Hannah knew it was just the exposed inner layers of their alien cellular structure. The sight still made her think of her own death, how one day she will die, and so will her daughter, and so will everyone else walking beside her.

The sides of the river suddenly looked like a grave, bones upon bones lay on top of each other, the colors of decay adding to the effect, receding down ever browning cliffs of doom. She must be mad, Hannah thought, walking a strange planet instead of nursing her own daughter back to health after a vicious alien attack.

Everyone in the colony was very sorry for the little girl being attacked but children were fragile and the first to suffer from any conflict or disease, unfortunately, they were usually the first to go. Many lost children and pregnancies on the voyage over and during the first few hard years of building the colony. You try your best but you can never really fully protect the children, every mother knows that.

Still, the common feeling in the community was that of hope. Most of the settlers thought that if Hannah’s daughter would survive, it would prove that life on Dryad was possible after all.

The searches continued all the while Hannah nursed little Edith back to health, but nothing new was ever found. Weeks and then months passed while Dryad kept its secrets safe.

As the days after the attack lengthened and no other encounters were reported, the settlers settled into the assumption that the whole thing was a one-time-only incident. It seemed a fragile coexistence was not impossible, as the aliens were clearly unable or just disinterested in hurting the humans any further.

Edith eventually was well enough to be released from the infirmary even though Hannah knew deep inside that she wasn’t. She wasn’t better. Edith was infected by that animal somehow and was changing right before her mother’s grieving eyes. Hannah watched in horror as her child was growing a bit more alien every day.

Avital Malenky

I grew up in an ultra-orthodox community in Israel but left that life very young. Having traveled all over the world after my Military service in Army Intelligence, I settled with my husband and son in England. I battle PTSD daily and am caring for my son, recently diagnosed with autism.

Trembling With Fear 06/21/20

This bit is going to stay here until the pandemic is over. Thank you to all keyworkers who continue to keep us going during the pandemic. As the UK and Europe moves out of lockdown, I really hope that eventually we can get some sort of normal going around the world.

As for me, I’m done. Not in a bad way, but a good way. By end of Monday, the novels I’d been working on in recent times and some earlier ones, were out on their way to publishers to see if perhaps they have some merit. Four in total. I always meant to do something with them but just never really got round to it. Those earlier ones I’d sent out once or twice, got positive rejections but then I moved on to writing the next and never sent them out again. I’m terrible that way, even with shorts. There are some I will send out but a number of others will sit on my spreadsheet, unloved, and waiting for me to do something with them. I tell others to send things out again if rejected but I’m awful at taking my own advice.

What am I going to do with all this ‘free time’? Not much 😊: a poetry collection, a poetry/flash collaboration, an Infernal Clock anthology, another collaboration with 3 other horror writers and all the other things gone by the board as I focussed on the novels. Amongst that there will also be edits for The Five Turns of the Wheel coming out in October from Silver Shamrock. It is going to feel surreal when I get to add that to the Pandemic Book Launch roundup further down the line! And I’ll make sure to put the TWF anthologies up there as well at some point. These are in progress and I don’t think are far off publication ready. Stuart can confirm status but I did a bit of formatting this week for the More Tales and Serial Killers and they were pretty much there.

If you’re running out of new reading material by the way, remember to check out the roundup on Fridays and see what’s coming out. I’ve been waiting for a certain Devil’s Creek by Todd Keisling which is finally out but hasn’t been delivered yet – it gives me time to finish Neal Stephenson’s Fall or, Dodge in Hell which is a mere 883 pages! Do you get the idea I like ‘giant’ books. Reducing my TBR pile is another ‘to do’, although with Waterstones reopening, I should really go and offer my support …

This week’s Trembling With Fear starts with Let’s Twist Your Head by Kristen Reid and takes a situation many of us have suffered and turned it into something to dread. Nightmares, sleep paralysis, night terrors, whatever version you consider, we’ve all suffered one or other of them at some point. That makes it personal to the reader because you take a commonly shared experience and ratchet it up a level in terms of horror. I’ve woken up in the middle of the night on more than one occasion and seen a ‘shape’ sat at the end of the bed, although they didn’t turn round and go for me! Having that experience however, brings the story closer to home. A useful technique when engaging the reader.

Believe by Janine Pipe questions your belief in yourself, do you trust your intuition and risk looking a fool or do you deny it and pay the consequences. The question of faith is something which has challenged humans for centuries.

Humanity 2020 by Zoey Xolton is a reflection on recent events. Remember those early days, the sheer selfishness of so many? Writing is a useful tool to hold a mirror up to ourselves. Trouble is, we might not like what we see.

Sick Boy by Patrick Winters combines the horror of loss and the horror of haunting. A sad and also chilling tale.

Take care

Steph

 

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

As mentioned last week, our site wasn’t showing authors on the front page – that has been corrected! (Nothing of my doing outside of the fact that the theme released an update that included it!)

For ‘Trembling With Fear’ news, we’ve made a lot of progress on the anthologies this last week (a little from me, a LOT from Steph!) We might finally be on track to getting these out the door and into the world! We’ll see soon. Also, thanks for the new drabbles which have come in. We’re always looking for more drabble, serials, and Unholy Trinity so please keep up the great fiction 🙂

In case you missed it last week, we’ve recently added a new shirt and new tote to our store. These both feature the new site logo. We’ll likely be adding a hoodie and potentially a few other items down the line as well.

I haven’t thanked our Patreons here as of late so wanted to give a quick shout out to help the site continue running. It is directly your support which keeps our doors open!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

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Friday Update: Pandemic Book Launches

Pandemic Book Launches and Hot Off the Indie Press  18.06.20

In addition to Jim McLeod’s Pandemic Book Launch group on Facebook – go here for more infomation – Joe Mynhardt has set up a collaborative Facebook group for the independent presses: Hot Off the Indie Press. This one carries all sorts of posts from indie publishers to ‘promote sales, sales and opportunities for authors’ amongst other things, if you want to see what they’re up to and what’s available, check it out here.  

If you buy, please also consider leaving reviews for the authors and even dropping them a line on twitter or their websites to have a chat with them about the book.

Pandemic Book Launches 

 *** Charity Anthologies ***

     Diabolica Britannica, ed Keith Anthony Baird. Raising money for the NHS. More details soon!

 

 

 

 

June 2020

1st June 2nd June June
12th June16th June 22nd June

24th June

 

July 2020

 

8th July 20th July 20th July

 

August 2020

4th August10th August

 

18th August 28th August

 

 

Future Releases (note: dates not always available)

Happy reading.

Steph

 on behalf of Stuart and the Horror Tree Team

 

Unholy Trinity: There’s Something On Your Face by Catherine Berry

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.

I

She could hear the voice whisper in the dark. Sibilant hisses. Deep growls. Reedy whines. The words echoed in the trees around her. Things had seemed so safe with her friends; now she was running.

Her arms and legs were covered in stinging, slowly seeping cuts. She’s stumbled over roots, scrambled up rocks, dodged and ducked around trees; but the voice kept repeating. Kept following.

Fingers slid around her throat and clamped down. Her feet shot out from under her. Something wet and sharp pressed against her cheek. A breathy chuckle next to her ear.

“There’s something on your face.”

II

“There’s something on your face,” the woman next to Emily hissed, pressed against the side of the elevator.

“Where?” Emily brushed her hands over her skin. “Is it still there?”

“It’s wriggling!” the woman squealed.

“Could you get it?” Emily stepped closer.

“Don’t come near me!”

“Okay,” she soothed, “I won’t.”

Phone set to selfie, Emily’s face looked normal. She eyed the trembling woman, inched towards the doors, and smiled awkwardly. The elevator stopped and Emily rushed to reception.

“Excuse me, I think someone’s having a psychotic episode.”

The receptionist flinched, stare fixated on Emily. “There’s something on your face.”

III

The date had been going well. When Lee brought Amy home she’d invited him in.

“Where were we?” she purred.

“Here,” Lee whispered.

Kissing her was intoxicating. Dizzying. Hands trembling, heart thudding, chest tight. Lee pulled back; his bones ached like the flu.

Amy licked her lips, pupils blown wide. “Delicious.”

Lee stroked his thumb along her cheek leaving a thin, red scratch.

“There’s something on your face,” he mumbled, rubbing gently over the mark. Amy’s skin bunched and ripped revealing glistening red tissue underneath.

“Kiss me,” she demanded, clenching Lee’s head painfully in her hands. She swallowed his scream.

Catherine Berry

Catherine Berry lives in Michigan, sings with her dog, and loves potatoes.
Her work has been published in Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear and in the anthologies Trembling With Fear: Years 1 & 2.
More of her work can be found at www.caterinaberyl.blogspot.com

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