Author: Stephanie Ellis

Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 3) by F.M. Scott

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

PART 3

Brian’s grocery list reflected the usual haul.  Since Mina had been gone, he’d shackled himself to a dull culinary routine—soups, baked potatoes, and the like—this after he’d begun eating regularly again.  Not that the occasional impulse buy didn’t happen.  This time he threw in the ring bologna he’d always looked at but never bought: pink meat product in a bright red rind, jam-packed with nitrites and a taste like nothing else.  Its packaged shape always suggested the seat of a typical public toilet.  He laughed, dismissing what he decided was a useless food hang-up.  He left the deli meat section with the toilet seat bologna and headed toward the checkout line.  A woman pushed her cart past him in the produce section; a small boy dangled his legs through the front holes.  With a reflex as natural as breathing, Brian smiled at the boy, then at the woman.  The child’s eyes grew big and he let out a loud scream, burying his head in his hands.  The woman stopped.

“What?  What is it, shugs?”

The boy kept whimpering into his hands.

Brian stopped and turned back in their direction.

“What is it?  Did you see something?”

The child looked up and pointed straight at Brian.  “Bad face, Mommy!  Bad face!”

His mother gasped.  “Honey, that’s not a very nice thing to say.”

His finger stayed put.  “But it’s all tore up!  Man’s face is tore up!”

His mother turned to Brian and gave an uneasy chuckle.  “I am so sorry.  It’s—I don’t know, his imagination.  You know how little ones can be.”

Brian hesitated.  “No worries.”

The boy covered his face again. “Wanna go Mommy, wanna go now!”

The mother mouthed something to Brian that looked like “It’s all good”.

At the checkout the young cashier studied Brian.  “Are you okay?”  When she repeated the question, he snapped to.

“Oh… yeah, yeah.  I’m good.”

“You’ve been saying something about a bad face,” the cashier said.

“I-I’m sorry.  Really, it’s nothing.”

The sacker, a gawky kid with a spider tattoo on his neck, leaned toward his coworker: “He probably saw your ex-boyfriend.”

She rolled her eyes and mouthed something at him; he laughed.  Brian paid for his groceries and left.

The drive home seemed like a distraction from the things that began to add up.  The little boy’s terror, Phaedra’s episodes, and whatever spooked the professor at Hyacinth Road amounted to a real and consistent traffic.  Brian guided his Hyundai as a sick chill seized his core—the specter of new world forming around him, filled with things only cats, children, and other people could see and hear.  Things loud and elusive.  And tore up.

#

Indeed, it was often the little things that could make or break a moment.  Things that settled the soul and reassured with familiarity.  In this case, it was the taste of bologna.  Microwaved in barbecue sauce, it made the perfect lead for sides of oven fries and green beans.  Throw in a slice of Texas toast, and you had a decent home clone of a plate at most any barbecue joint.  Brian sat, wolfing down chunks of the pink stuff, gourmandizing the idea of food as escape.  Maybe comfort food wasn’t a myth after all, because the way it went down was a most satis—

Bweeeeeeeeaahh!

The squeal came from directly behind him, as loud and piercing as an air horn.  He shot up from the table.  Phaedra!  Is she hurt?  But as quickly as this thought came, a fact came down harder: He couldn’t breathe.  Every impotent lunge forward brought nothing.  A ripped suit in deep space.  Vacuum.  He stood, made a fist, and cradled it in the other hand.  He pumped feebly at his abdomen.  Again.  Again.  And again.  The mass of meat in his throat didn’t budge.  Twice more, and it dawned on him that he was going to be the gluttonous kid in the first aid video he’d seen in middle school, only not so lucky.  Worse, every pump began to aggravate a nausea that threatened to hasten his demise by flooding his lungs with undigested dinner.  The chair, dumbass!  Brian positioned his gut against the curve of the backrest and thrust against it.  Nothing came but a sharp blast of pain in his abdomen.  And he was about to throw up into himself.  Death had a scale of nobility, and this was not going to be a hero’s exit.  Brian shut his eyes, gave one more massive thrust against the sharp wood…and a wet clump of processed beef product flew onto the table.  He toppled backward; his ass hit the floor and his stomach convulsed as the rest of the evening meal spewed into his lap.  He worked himself to his knees, his stomach heaving bile between gulps of fresh, glorious air.  He fell back onto the kitchen floor, his awareness at a new height.  I’ve saved myself!

Brian changed into shorts and a T-shirt, scrubbed the kitchen, and did the laundry.  He dumped clean clothes and towels on his bed.  The shock from nearly dying had given way to a strange blend of duty and fatigue.  A soft meow issued from behind him.  Phaedra stood there with attentive eyes.   I’m here, and I won’t judge you.  He picked her up and pulled her to his cheek; she nuzzled him and purred as he carried her into the living room.

The pain from the chair knifed his gut as he plunked onto the sofa.  As he had done while driving home from the grocery store, he began to run events through the central reality filter of his mind.  A new wave of shakes hit him as he replayed tonight’s close call and fixated on how a fucking piece of meat nearly left him sprawled on the kitchen floor, open eyes still pleading for another shot at success, at love, at making an impact with anything he did.  A couple of shots of rye steadied him enough to overcome this and to remember his obligation to two hard facts:  He was alive, and a house had to be sold.

F.M. Scott

F.M. Scott is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lives and writes.  His stories have appeared in The Killer Collection, Sirius Science Fiction, The Horror Tree, The Tulsa Voice, and The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine.  A few of his drabbles were collected in Trembling with Fear: Year 2 Anthology.

http://writprodsm.wixsite.com/fmscott

Facebook and Twitter @fmscottauthor

Trembling With Fear 11/22/20

Sometimes I wonder why I do it to myself, but I always push myself to do NaNoWriMo and end up stressed! Mainly because I set higher targets at the start so I can ‘take time off’ if other things crop up. Anyway, I finished last week and have a body of work to get on with. It’s not a finished story but I know what’s happening and where it’s going. And it’s decided to be set during Yule. I’ve not written a festive novel-length horror before!

Claiming back my NaNoWriMo time means I can get back to editing Infernal Clock’s Inferno which will be out soon – and it includes a few TWF writers I might add!

Our first story this week in Trembling With Fear is The Life of a Butterfly by Keily Blair. A fantasy for a change – remember we are a speculative fiction outlet, although mostly on the darker side. Metamorphosis doesn’t just happen after the caterpillar stage, there is an extra step involved and there’s a different origin to these butterflies. Taking something from nature and adding to it can come up with a unique idea, like this one.

Aunt Neil’s Frottage by Will H. Blackwell, Jr.took me back to my childhood days when I remember school outings to the local graveyard and carrying out rubbings. Don’t think they do that anymore!

Blythe Crest by Patrick Winters is a moment of self-questioning, of someone at a point of decision. Can you allow the darkness to pull you on?

Sushi Bar Special by Hillary Lyon is a bit of a twist on a sushi tale (there’s a pun there if you read the story), with a dark ending for someone. I quite liked the lack of morality in this, the blunt pragmatism when it came to making money.

Enjoy the stories and send us yours!

 

Take care

Steph

 

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

I honestly love our intro story today. Something about it really resonated with me upon originally reading it and still does today as I was finding an image fitting for it.

I can’t believe that we’re coming up to Thanksgiving already this week. November has FLOWN by. While we’re all still sidelined by the Pandemic I hope that you all have something to be thankful for. With my writing hitting a brick wall (even though I did quite a bit for NaNoWriMo), I’m still grateful for it, and for all of you! 

We’re working on a few things to make the site a bit easier to manage and access in the next couple of months but with this being the holiday season, we’ll see how much time everyone has. 

Side note: Patreon now offers a yearly plan instead of month to month for those who prefer that. I enabled it and added a 10% discount for anyone who signed up to support the site in that manner. Thank you for your continued support!

More soon!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

(more…)

Unholy Trinity: The Battle by Melody E. McIntyre

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.

Victoria

The last of Victoria’s forces were surrounded by monsters. They were fighting to protect the village from the creatures of the night that had come to devour the children. The beasts had attacked without warning three days ago. Victoria had rallied what troops she could while her sister rode for reinforcements. They fought valiantly but the horde was endless. Of 500 troops, only 23 remained and Victoria intended to save them all.

Victoria brandished her blade and readied her stance. The monsters licked their lips. With a wild cry, she charged, offering a distraction while her troops made their escape.

Constance

Constance arrived too late with the reinforcements. From her perch on the cliff, she could see her sister’s valiant last stand. For three days, Constance had scoured the countryside, but the monsters had ravaged all the villages for miles. The small army she had gathered was cobbled together from the scattered survivors. They were beaten, but eager for revenge.

Constance knew they couldn’t defeat the legion of the dead, but they could save the soldiers still fighting for their lives. She gestured to her troops and they surged forward. Then she spread her black wings and dove into the fray.

The Choice

The village was gone, and my wounded daughters lay before me. They were on the precipice of death and hoping that I could save them. Constance’s femur was protruding from her thigh and she struggled not to weep. Victoria had wounds all over her body, but it was the deep gash in her side that was the most concerning.

They know there is a ritual that can save anyone from certain death. I have performed it many times. But they do not know about the cost. 

I raise my sword and make my choice. 

The ritual can save only one.

Melody E. McIntyre

Melody lives in Ontario and has loved reading and writing her entire life. Recently, she published her first piece of flash fiction with The Macabre Ladies. Her favourite genres to write are horror and mystery, but she will read almost anything if it has a good story. She studied Anthropology and Classics in University and remains obsessed with the ancient world to this day. When she isn’t working or writing, she loves hand sewing, biking and martial arts.

https://melodyemcintyre.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MelodyEMcIntyre
Twitter: @evamarie41

Indie Bookshelf Releases 11/20/20

Click on the book covers for more information.

Got a book to launch, an event to promote or seeking extra work/support as a result of being hit economically by Covid? Get in touch and we’ll promote you here. The post is prepared each Thursday for publication on Friday. Contact us via Horror Tree’s contact address or connect via Twitter or Facebook.

Support Your Indie Authors and Reviewers

This is a space which I hope will help bring extra work to those who’ve been hit economically by Covid. If you’ve lost your day job, had hours cut, are struggling and have services to offer, a new venture, a patreon page to promote etc, let us know and we’ll plug them here.

Todd Keisling – author of Devil’s Creek, Ugly Little Things is still experiencing employment struggles. Remember, he is not just a writer, he also designs book interiors, frontispieces and can provide other services related to marketing campaigns. For more information go here. Buy his books here. Support him on pateron here.

Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi’s dark poetry collection, Breathe, Breathe is currently on sale in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Her 25% off Covid 2020 discount for novels and novellas also applies until the end of the year. You can also find out about her editorial and publishing services here.

Reviewer Max Stark has created a gallery of his amazing photography https://www.pictorem.com/gallery/Max.Stark, where you can purchase his prints. If you have a space on your wall, you might find something here to fill it!

Events

Please send us details of any online panels, conventions, festivals and workshops and we’ll list them here.

Latest Book Launches

Charity Anthologies

 

2nd Oct 30th Oct It Came From The Darkness: A Charity Horror Anthology by [P.J. Blakey-Novis, David Green, C.M. Saunders, Justin Boote, Tim Lebbon, Gemma Paul, D.J. Doyle, Roma Gray, Matthew V. Brockmeyer, Mark Anthony Smith] End Nov

 

 

Horror Tree Sponsor* Releases!

16th Oct

*All Horror Tree sponsors are able to claim a spot at the top of our listing during the donation of their sponsorship. Please use our contact form for more advertising pricing.
 
 
 

They Slipped Through the Net!

20th June

 

 

October 2020

20thDownwind, Alice22nd 22nd Foul Womb of Night (Midnight Bites Book 1) by [Elizabeth Donald, Gustavo Bondoni, Adam Stemple] 23rd The Haunting of Hacket House by [Astrid Addams]

26th Forest of Fear 2: An Anthology of Halloween Horror Microfiction (Fright Night Fiction) by [Zoey Xolton, Stacey Jaine McIntosh, J.E. Feldman, Kevin J. Kennedy, Majanka Verstraete, Cindar Harrell, Stuart Conover, Beth W. Patterson, David Green, Valerie Lioudis]27th 28th F is for Fear (A to Z of Horror Book 6) by [P.J. Blakey-Novis, Renee Miller, David Green, Lee Franklin, Mark Anthony Smith, Donna Cuttress, C.M. Rosens, Ariel Dodson, Bryan Miller, Damir Salkovic] 28th Memento Mori: A horror collection (Shattered bulbs Book 1) by [Sabrann Curach]

29th 29th 30th A Song for the End by [Kit Power]31st The Ancient Ones (The Ancient Ones Trilogy Book 1) by [Cassandra L. Thompson]

31st Ascendant: The Martiniere Legacy Book Two by [Joyce Reynolds-Ward] 31st Full Moon Digest: Stories to read by moonlight by [G.A. Miller] 31st 31st Frankenstein's Mistress: Tales of Love & Monsters by [Michael McCarty, C.L. Sherwood, Holly Zaldivar, Terrie Leigh Relf, R.L. Fox, Cindy McCarty, Sherry Decker, C. Dean Andersson]

November 2020

3rd The Sound of Distant Engines by [Robert Dunn]8th EYES OF SLEEPING CHILDREN by [D. A. BUTCHER, KELLY CHEYANNE]11th Burning Reflection by [Tim Mendees] 13th Eight Cylinders by [Jason Parent, Crystal Lake Publishing]

14th Bleak Midwinter and Other Christmas Horror Stories by [Charlotte O'Farrell] 15th The Worm and His Kings by [Hailey Piper] 15th Realization: The Martiniere Legacy Book Three by [Joyce Reynolds-Ward] 16th

17th The Lupin Project: Amazon.co.uk: Allan Leverone: 9780998416144: Books 18th Less by [Caroline Angel] 27th

 

Kickstarters!

Slated for release by Crystal Lake Publishing in August 2021. This book of spiritualist horror contains many of the big names in dark fantasy and horror fiction. Find out more and/or support their Indiegogo campaign here

 

 

 

Happy reading.

Steph

 on behalf of Stuart and the Horror Tree Team

 

Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 2) by F.M. Scott

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

PART 2

Brian stretched out on his sofa, captivated by an episode of the series he’d been following.   Watching interviews with North Vietnamese and Vietcong war survivors was like getting stories from another planet.  These stories had existed for a long time, but no portal opened up to let them in.  When it did, you got to hear from the other side and you found people like you, with families and homes and jobs.

But watching films always carried a side effect: reminders of the solid video producing career Brian ditched in favor of selling more tangible chunks of the American Dream.  Mina was the center of his own dream until the night they quarreled and she went for a drive to cool off.  Brian’s girlfriend of three years, the orthopedic nurse with sky-blue eyes, drapes of raven hair to the shoulders, and a razor-sharp explanation for anything, turned her Mazda onto 36th Street near a blind hill, into the path of a pickup truck carrying a pair of gentlemen malfunctioning on beer at 70 miles per hour.  Mina flew backward through the rear windshield and landed in someone’s yard—all three sections of her.  The driver of the truck died at the scene; his buddy lingered in the ICU for a month before the tubes came out.  The rage seized Brian like a hot band around the head, forcing things from him that he hadn’t experienced since his school days as both bully and bullied.  One night he found perfect surrogate for those who couldn’t be there to suffer his wrath.  The guy zoomed, smirking, into the strip mall parking space into which Brian had been signaling to turn.  Under that smirk, of course, he also beat his wife.  He tortured animals.  He stank of cheap aftershave and wore the words Be All to End All, not just on both arms but on his whole fucking being.  These things destined him to have his nose broken and both eyes pounded shut by an All-Duty-No-Glory Avenger who parked two rows over and waited for him to return with his goods.  A kink in life’s random fabric—and the absence of security cameras—had helped the Avenger avoid being tracked down and arrested.  It was the bully between his ears who reminded him that his ambition died that night on 36th Street, and who now told him he’d sunk so low that he needed to sell his cameras and drones and give it all up.  You’re one of those people now.  But the world still has to feed your miserable ass, so you might as well do something to serve the deserving.  Houses, yeah, go learn how to sell houses.  Make good people happy, and the company will take care of you if you do right by them.  From then on, it was love.  A forceful, self-punitive love.

The music on the series soundtrack popped, Brian thought.  It was more than just a background; it was a cellist bent on wringing every possible sound from the instrument.  Percussive slams of the bow.  Plucked notes reverberating.  Whole chords pulsing in and out, bending and making hairpin turns, a musical Formula 1 road course.  And the squeals—desolate cries of one left in darkness, spidering out then reducing to one siren-like moan.  A moan that seemed to linger after the other music had stopped.  Isolated.  Coming from somewhere in the house.

Phaedra acted weird when he came home, Brian recalled.  She started to greet him with the usual rub of her face on his shin, then she recoiled as if he smelled of dog.  She didn’t want him to pick her up.  He’d grown accustomed to the vagaries of cat behavior, but now his gray-and-white shorthair had jumped from her throne of entitlement to some place where things poked and prodded her, changed her into something contrary and skittish.  “What is it, Phae?”  Brian went to the hallway, where he stopped and froze.  His cat stood facing the wall near the spare room, her back arched as if something had compacted her.  Her eyes darted about.  Drool dripped from a mouth that trembled with something between coiled rage and pure terror.  Her sound dropped to a beastly growl that had never before issued from her.  “Phae?  Sweetie?”  At once she jumped and swatted at something above her head.  She started after it, then came to a sharp halt at the door of the spare room.  Whatever she saw had apparently gone in there.

Brian turned on the overhead light.  He wiped Phaedra’s mouth and hauled her into his arms.  Her motor purred and she nuzzled his cheek; she had returned.  But her eyes told a different story, not one of comfort or security.  Maybe a kind of seizure, something to keep an eye on.  He sat Phaedra down and surveyed the chair, file cabinet, and stacks of boxes—none of which held a single clue as to his cat’s all-new behavior.

#

The first showing of the house on Hyacinth Road brought a recently widowed University of Tulsa professor.  He was chatty, recounting some recent travels and conceding a slowness to start over after his loss.  The question loomed as to why a single person would be interested in buying a house that size.  The answer, of course, flew like a flag: Who gives a fuck, as long as he has the money!  The professor scarcely made it past the checkered tile of the front hall before he stopped, his head cocked toward the floor.

“What is it?” Brian asked.

“That.”  The professor pointed at his feet.  “Don’t you hear it?  Don’t you feel it?”  Brian shook his head, and the prof described in detail a metallic pounding.  “Like someone banging a hammer on a piece of pipe or something.”  Brain strained to listen.

The two reached the kitchen.  “There it is again!” the prof declared.  Again, Brian shook his head.

“But it’s as loud and real as can be!”

Great, Brian thought, recalling plenty of awkward moments in the business, but nothing like the task of denying a prospect’s word without implying that he was delusional.  Four fast years in real estate had won him the ability to think on his feet and maintain a sense of humility.

“Hmm.  I suppose this is the moment when I go back to check what they call idiot bells.  Those ring when something needs attention.”

But something had sucked all of the humor out of the professor, whose already sallow complexion was now milk jug white.  Brian leaned in.  “You okay?”

“I…I don’t want to be rude, but I have to go.  Right away.”  Without the smallest apology, the prof turned and left, closing the front door behind him.

Brian went to the kitchen and took a seat at a barstool.  The house was certified to be in excellent condition.  Apart from the weird smell in the little storage area, there wasn’t much more to go on.  As he reviewed things, he became aware of another prospect, implausible but not impossible: Someone might be fucking with Brian Best.  Had the parking lot altercation finally caught up with him?  Even if so, who would (or could) go to the trouble required to freak out a prospective buyer by staging noises, sensations, and smells.  The logistics were next to absurd.  Since he neither heard nor felt the pounding that spooked the professor, he could link nothing to trickery or a problem with the house.  Let it cancel out and move on, Brian concluded.

#

Phaedra met him at the door that evening.  She gave her usual “where the hell have you been” meow and implored him to scoop her up.  He did, and she purred.  Brian cuddled her, planting kisses on the top of her head, and his mind went to the hallway episode.  There was no explaining cats, period.  As long as his loyal companion was okay now, he had no reason to belabor things, only to be watchful.

F.M. Scott

F.M. Scott is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lives and writes.  His stories have appeared in The Killer Collection, Sirius Science Fiction, The Horror Tree, The Tulsa Voice, and The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine.  A few of his drabbles were collected in Trembling with Fear: Year 2 Anthology.

http://writprodsm.wixsite.com/fmscott

Facebook and Twitter @fmscottauthor

Trembling With Fear 11/15/20

Nice to report on some good news this week with regard to one of our regular writers, Patrick Winters. He has not only gone through major surgery but is also out of hospital and writing. I have no doubt we’ll see more from him soon.

NaNoWriMo is ongoing for a number of us. I’m not far off finishing and I’ve found that whilst I’ve meandered, the writing is pushing me towards the final focus the book will take. What I’ve written so far is not wasted and will simply be re-ordered. When I get stuck, my attituded is to write the scene that’s on my mind – even if it’s not linear, eg it would fit earlier or suits the ending more. My folk horror world is developing nicely!

Remember if you have publication news, events or are offering work services after suffering income drops/job loss due to covid, we have our Friday roundup of the latest indie releases. We have moved away from the ‘pandemic’ label as this feature will continue as an additional support to writers as covid eventually – hopefully – dies off. And sometimes, it’s just nice not to see a reference to the pandemic for a change! Feel free to send info/links to us!

Trembling With Fear this week, leads with The Haruspex by Harris Coverley. An historical setting, it shows us the horror we commit ourselves, through our beliefs, with no recourse to any horror tropes. The characters and their roles in the deaths and sacrifices described came through as very believable, because of its grounding in fact. Refreshingly different.

A Man’s Kingdom by Ryan Benson shows that sometimes a solution to a problem does not go to plan. A few nicely placed clues to inform the ending.

Archer Avenue by Darlene Holt allows us to see the truth behind a rhyme which was always regarded as nonsense. Using children and rhymes always offers a lot of scope in horror.

Special by Phil Slattery has a nice touch of dark humour at its end.

 

Enjoy the stories and send us yours!

 

Take care

Steph

 

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

I hope you’re all having a great weekend (or whatever day it may be as you read this one.)
As always, please do leave a comment below if you find a story (or multiples) that you like so the authors know how you feel about their work!
I also have a personal request this week. We’re contemplating changing up the layout of the site and would like your opinion. We currently post in the traditional blog style and have been leaning toward switching to a ‘magazine’ style. Please head over to our Patreon and vote on which style you prefer. (Free to register if you don’t have an account!)
Thanks for your time and I hope you have a great read and week ahead of you!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

(more…)

Indie Bookshelf Releases 11/13/20

Click on the book covers for more information.

Got a book to launch, an event to promote or seeking extra work/support as a result of being hit economically by Covid? Get in touch and we’ll promote you here. The post is prepared each Thursday for publication on Friday. Contact us via Horror Tree’s contact address or connect via Twitter or Facebook.

Support Your Indie Authors and Reviewers

This is a space which I hope will help bring extra work to those who’ve been hit economically by Covid. If you’ve lost your day job, had hours cut, are struggling and have services to offer, a new venture, a patreon page to promote etc, let us know and we’ll plug them here.

Todd Keisling – author of Devil’s Creek, Ugly Little Things is still experiencing employment struggles. Remember, he is not just a writer, he also designs book interiors, frontispieces and can provide other services related to marketing campaigns. For more information go here. Buy his books here. Support him on pateron here.

Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi’s dark poetry collection, Breathe, Breathe is currently on sale in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Her 25% off Covid 2020 discount for novels and novellas also applies until the end of the year. You can also find out about her editorial and publishing services here.

Events

Please send us details of any online panels, conventions, festivals and workshops and we’ll list them here.

Latest Book Launches

Charity Anthologies

 

2nd Oct 30th Oct It Came From The Darkness: A Charity Horror Anthology by [P.J. Blakey-Novis, David Green, C.M. Saunders, Justin Boote, Tim Lebbon, Gemma Paul, D.J. Doyle, Roma Gray, Matthew V. Brockmeyer, Mark Anthony Smith] End Nov

 

 

Horror Tree Sponsor* Releases!

16th Oct

*All Horror Tree sponsors are able to claim a spot at the top of our listing during the donation of their sponsorship. Please use our contact form for more advertising pricing.
 
 
 

 

October 2020

15th Inheritance: The Martiniere Legacy Book One by [Joyce Reynolds-Ward] 15th 18th A Seed in a Soil of Sorrow by [Keith Anthony Baird]20thDownwind, Alice

22nd 22nd Foul Womb of Night (Midnight Bites Book 1) by [Elizabeth Donald, Gustavo Bondoni, Adam Stemple] 23rd The Haunting of Hacket House by [Astrid Addams] 26th Forest of Fear 2: An Anthology of Halloween Horror Microfiction (Fright Night Fiction) by [Zoey Xolton, Stacey Jaine McIntosh, J.E. Feldman, Kevin J. Kennedy, Majanka Verstraete, Cindar Harrell, Stuart Conover, Beth W. Patterson, David Green, Valerie Lioudis]

27th 28th F is for Fear (A to Z of Horror Book 6) by [P.J. Blakey-Novis, Renee Miller, David Green, Lee Franklin, Mark Anthony Smith, Donna Cuttress, C.M. Rosens, Ariel Dodson, Bryan Miller, Damir Salkovic] 28th Memento Mori: A horror collection (Shattered bulbs Book 1) by [Sabrann Curach]29th

30th A Song for the End by [Kit Power]31st The Ancient Ones (The Ancient Ones Trilogy Book 1) by [Cassandra L. Thompson] 31st Ascendant: The Martiniere Legacy Book Two by [Joyce Reynolds-Ward] 31st Full Moon Digest: Stories to read by moonlight by [G.A. Miller]

31st 31st Frankenstein's Mistress: Tales of Love & Monsters by [Michael McCarty, C.L. Sherwood, Holly Zaldivar, Terrie Leigh Relf, R.L. Fox, Cindy McCarty, Sherry Decker, C. Dean Andersson]

November 2020

3rd The Sound of Distant Engines by [Robert Dunn]11th Nov Burning Reflection by [Tim Mendees] 13th Eight Cylinders by [Jason Parent, Crystal Lake Publishing]14th Bleak Midwinter and Other Christmas Horror Stories by [Charlotte O'Farrell]

15th The Worm and His Kings by [Hailey Piper] 15th Realization: The Martiniere Legacy Book Three by [Joyce Reynolds-Ward] 16th 17th The Lupin Project: Amazon.co.uk: Allan Leverone: 9780998416144: Books

18th Less by [Caroline Angel]

Happy reading.

Steph

 on behalf of Stuart and the Horror Tree Team

 

Serial Killers: The Child of Hyacinth Road (Part 1) by F.M. Scott

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

PART 1

The following is an excerpt from Episode 19 of the award-winning online series, Unsolved and Unhinged.  The program is known for its investigative and dramatic language, and for its blending of facts, eyewitness accounts, and conjecture.

The Holy Ghost seized young Richard Vandewater.  Growing up dirt-poor in Turlock, California, Richard fell under the spell of the Pentecostal Church, whose hallmarks included tent revivals that came through town.  The Ghost told teenaged Richard to go forth and multiply, in both family and wealth.  His people, if they loved him as an instrument of the Lord, would help him make the latter happen.  So Richard went forth and found lots of those people in Oklahoma.  He moved to Tulsa, already home to iconic televangelist Oral Roberts and his empire.  There he founded Vandewater Enterprises, and turned a church into a fast-growing media company.  And his people, just as the Holy Ghost had promised, made him wealthy.  Soon he married and multiplied.  But later his eldest son William, who helped to spread his father’s word as the fearsome and literal truth, slipped up and strayed from the Lord.  He met a young music store employee named Christine Pritchard, whose piano playing and silky demeanor stirred his carnal lust.  Christine received William’s seed.  At first, Richard became enraged, as he saw was good and right in the Lord’s scheme of things.  He scrambled about, engineering the cover-up of his son’s fornication and the prospect of an out-of-wedlock child—something that was sure to tarnish him and threaten his domain as a Chosen One.

William and Christine married hastily.  A grandson, Corey, was born in 1974 with hydrocephalus and a host of cardiovascular and neurological problems that kept him from walking and talking.  Richard, after bearing witness to William and Christine’s love and diligence in caring for the child, changed his tune and rewarded his son and daughter-in-law.  A big stone house went up in an exclusive section of Tulsa’s Gilcrease Hills—spoils to the young Vandewaters, who would keep the child a secret while doing God’s work.  But after three years in that house—three years of Corey nearly dying of this seizure or that respiratory failure—William Vandewater began to tell his father that there were other things at work, too.  His son, endowed with a precocious will he was unable to express in words, was nonetheless angry and vengeful at his lot.  Corey wanted to die.  It showed when his eyes sank back into his face and fixed on his father.  If kept alive, he would punish his father for making him live in misery.  And that displeased the Lord while appeasing Satan.  From his wheelchair, Corey began to do things.  Without his hands.  Toys would show up on the stairs at night.  A glass lamp exploded, sending shards into William’s neck and arm.  A tire blew on the Broken Arrow Expressway, causing William to crash his BMW into a retaining wall and break a few ribs.  Soon, Corey developed a snickering laugh, hthth-hthth-hthth!—through the teeth, snakelike.  Other times he would let loose with sudden and piercing screams.  Satan is testing us, the young Vandewater proclaimed.  His father agreed.  You are right, son, and you must be stronger!  William and people from his father’s circle began to hold meetings at the house with hopes of casting out whatever foul spirit had seized Corey.  But Christine, exhausted and at the end of her rope, turned.  Her husband had gone off the rails, and she had to protect her child.  It was now two against one.

Police found two adult bodies, each with massive gunshot wounds to the head, in the living room of the Vandewater home on a humid night in June 1977.  A .38 caliber revolver lay near William, with his fingerprints on it.  A small wheelchair stood empty nearby, a prelude to what left investigators baffled: Three-year-old Corey Vandewater, known to his father’s inner circle but kept a secret from the general public, had vanished without a trace.  The story hit big at first, then took a back seat to the Girl Scout murders at a camp in Locust Grove that same week.  Police ruled William and Christine Vandewater’s deaths a murder-suicide.  Richard Vandewater, at first crazed with grief and rage against the forces that took his son and his family, eventually accepted their deaths but could not accept the mystery of his grandson’s disappearance, let alone his son’s implication in it as well.

After a long investigation, which the family called “sloppy” and “haphazard”, Corey’s case went cold.  Rev. Richard Vandewater fell over dead on a turkey hunt in 1980.  His media empire began to crumble.  His most visible legacy consisted of dead-end debate and speculation, and cast a pall over one Tulsa neighborhood—one that faded but would return decades later, in a big way.

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Hyacinth Road curved upward through a wooded area of Gilcrease Hills, terminating at a perfect vantage point for the downtown skyline a few miles to the south.  It was the only stretch of pavement in Tulsa that bore its name.  The large stone house stood at its dead end.  A circular drive split off toward a tall iron gate anchored by sandstone pillars and ended at a three-car garage.  The remaining front lawn sported landscaped beds dotted with clumps of liriope and hybrid poplars whose small leaves gave a crisp rattle in summer breezes.  From all appearances, the house’s four decades had been kind to it, even lent it a near-timeless look not common to houses of that era.

Brian Best began his preliminary once-over upstairs.  In his fourth year as a realtor, he continued his policy of sticking to the basics when showing a house, avoiding the use of superlatives like “peach” or “gem”.  If a prospective buyer got hooked, it happened naturally.  Gilcrease Hills was new territory, a chance to build on the impressive sales he’d scored in Villa Grove and Florence Park.

The house on Hyacinth Road changed hands a number of times since 1977.  Its occupants were, of course, a succession of upper middle-class people—mostly families, whose behaviors didn’t contribute to any notable history.  Not that the neighborhood rumor mill didn’t put out.  One morning, Brian struck up a conversation with one of the neighbors, an elderly Ms. Weston, who used oxygen and whose blunt manner conveyed that she wasn’t impressed with you, no matter what you did or said you did.  She had moved into the neighborhood during the late Eighties and admitted to being a people watcher.  Sometimes, she said, the gossip got too good, too juicy—the only way that life on such a small, isolated street could keep an interesting face.

The father of the family that last vacated the big stone house was a senior hotshot in a prominent law firm.  One story related to Ms. Weston was that he’d been canned after getting caught with a young paralegal on a conference table after hours.

“Legs, tongues, and pie filling,” she deadpanned.

Another story went that the family could no longer afford the house and keep two kids in private school, and the man of the castle was not happy.

“I like the first story,” Brian chuckled.  “Lends the place some character, for better or for worse.”

Ms. Weston cleared her throat.  “I’d say he was about your age.  What are you, about forty-five, fifty?”

He paused.  “I’m thirty-seven.”

Brian checked the closets and windows of the four spacious bedrooms upstairs.  All bathroom fixtures and plumbing were secure and drip-free.  The downstairs rooms, including a den, a kitchen, a dining room, and a library/study that perked his envy, looked fine as well.  In a utility room off the garage, something else caught Brian’s eye: a narrow door, which he opened with little thought.  Beyond it, a few bulkhead stairs led down to what amounted to a dark, tiny joke of a basement.  At most, the space would hold a few average-sized boxes.  Brian pulled a string and lit up a bare bulb on the ceiling.  In an opening at the back of the space lay something even more curious: a patch of bare earth about five or six square feet in area.  In the faint light, Brian tapped it with a foot; it gave a bit near the center.  This odd caesura in construction didn’t appear to pose any structural risk; still it was nothing he had ever seen.  In the garage he retrieved a trowel he’d kept for making small touch-ups to flowerbeds.  When he returned he squatted and plunged the blade into the soft spot in the dirt.  Another stab.  A third, and a loud whistling sound, like air rushing through a tiny space, issued from the soil.  The sound lasted a few seconds, then shut off.  Brian stared at the hole, knowing that the average trowel would not likely rupture a steel gas line.  But there was a smell—a strong odor of decay, like a small roadkill, that lingered.  An outgassing from the soil, maybe.  Still, that didn’t explain the whistling noise; there was something organic to it, too.  Something almost animal.  Brian grimaced as he refilled the hole and patted the dirt down.

He hung the trowel back on its hook.  Nothing here, he thought as he went back inside to wash his hands.  Who, apart from kids playing hide-and-seek, would spend any real time in such a tiny space?  And if there were people to call, they would hold office at the Bureau of Unaccountable Shit.  All was good with the house, and what couldn’t be explained needed no attention.

F.M. Scott

F.M. Scott is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lives and writes.  His stories have appeared in The Killer Collection, Sirius Science Fiction, The Horror Tree, The Tulsa Voice, and The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine.  A few of his drabbles were collected in Trembling with Fear: Year 2 Anthology.

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