Trembling With Fear 02/18/2018

Today I’m happy, although it’s raining outside and it’s my son’s 21st birthday and he is away at uni. It is half-term which means a week off from the school in which I work and that gives me time to write something of my own instead of editing somebody else’s, to make a dent in my TBR pile instead of TWF submissions. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy this side of things but I do need some ‘me time’ and luckily my workplace, being a school, gives me that every six weeks or so. My target this half-term was to write and complete a short story and sub it somewhere, anywhere. Today I finished it and proofed it several times including a thorough search for errant spaces (Kim Plasket 😊), then I sent it away. I know some people advise ‘resting’ a story, which I do on occasion whilst others say ignore that advice – something else I do as well. Today I sent it away, no resting, no beta reads. I just pressed ‘Submit’. I was happy with my story and even if the magazine rejects it, I know I will still like it. And I think that’s ultimately what I want to say about taking writing advice. By all means read it and take it on board but you know your writing, the story you want to tell and it’s up to you to choose what to do with it. There are so many rules in the writing world, you just have to break them occasionally. But do remember to proof-read, I have had more than one contributor using a ‘steak’ rather than a ‘stake’ to do damage to a person. It doesn’t quite pack the same punch …

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

We hope you had a lovely time last week as we did! Now that time for hearts (broken or in love) has come to an end, we have some new works for you to enjoy! As always, remember to leave a comment so the author whose work that you enjoyed can get some feedback!

‘Trembling With Fear’ Is Horror Tree’s weekly inclusion of shorts and drabbles submitted for your entertainment by our readers! As long as the submissions are coming in, we’ll be posting every Sunday for your enjoyment.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Fool’s Errand

Sailors lost at sea didn’t find as much comfort in the glow of a lighthouse’s beacon as Rob did in the sight of the house with smoke billowing freely from the chimney and soft light twinkling through the windows. It was dark and the cold cut through his clothing, even as thick and warm as it was. He had set out too late and had rode for too long; there was no way he was going to make Slick Stone before the temperature dropped below what he could stand and there was no way he could make a camp fire anywhere near warm enough to be of use. Rob had no choice but to trust the mercy of whoever was inside that house.

He got off his horse and walked the remaining few feet up to the porch steps. The ankle-deep snow crunched underfoot and there was a thin coat of ice on the steps. Once he was safely on the porch, he knocked three times; it was so warm inside, he felt the heat floating off the wood.

An old man with a mustache like a dust bunny and leathery skin opened the door. He asked Rob, in a deep and booming voice, “Can I help you?”

“I sure do hope so, sir. I was hoping for a place to bunk tonight and somewhere to put up my horse. I’d pay you for the trouble, and if the only place for me to sleep is in the barn, well, that’s better than out here in the freezing cold.”

The old man nodded his head and jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “Ain’t got a barn. Stable out back, but not much of one. You can hitch your horse up there. No other animals out there right now.”

“I thank you, sir.”

“When you’re done, step on inside. Got some stew over the fire, some whiskey, some coffee.”

“Sir, you’re an absolute saint.”

“I’ll leave the door unlocked for ya.” The old man offered a weak smile and ducked back into his house, shutting the door behind him. Rob made his way off of the porch and led his horse back to the stable. Once the animal was safely in place, Rob made his way into the house.

The warmth inside was thick like gravy. There was a coffee table and a few other furnishings, but Rob was entirely focused on the roaring fire and a rocking chair by it, directly across from where the old man sat. Rob slipped his soggy coat and boots off and took his seat. He held his hands out to the fire and rubbed them together. There was nothing he loved more in life at that moment than that fire.

“So, what’s your name, sir?”

“Lawry. You?”

“Rob.”

“Fool’s errand to be traveling out in this weather, Rob.”

“Yeah, I suppose so.”

“Any man on the road in this snow is either desperate to run away or run to somebody.”

‘Well, outlaws don’t take a break for the winter.”

“You a lawman, then?”

“I chase down bounties.”

“Really?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Sounds like dangerous work. Your wife and children must be worried sick.”

“No wife and child to be worried.”

“Well, then, all men should be so lucky.” Lawry chuckled and rose from his seat. “Let me get you some utensils so you can have some of that stew. You want some whiskey?”

“That would be right good, yes.”

Lawry got up and pulled a bowl and spoon from the cupboard, then retrieved a bottle of whiskey from a nearby cabinet. He handed the to whiskey to Rob. “You can finish it,” he said. “Not much left.” While Rob sipped on the whiskey and felt his insides warming even more intensely, Lawry ladled some thick and meaty stew out from the pot hanging over the fire. He handed it to Rob, who set his bottle down long enough to shovel several spoonfuls of stew into his mouth, unbothered by the searing heat from the still-smoking meal.

“This is good,” Rob said between smacks.

“My mama’s recipe. Has a little bit of red wine in it. Not much of a wine drinker myself, but it’s damn good in cooking. Mama was a Frenchwoman, so she ought to know.”

“Well, your daddy was a lucky man to have a woman who could cook like this.”

“Oh, that ain’t even half as good as when she made it.” Lawry leaned back in his chair and pulled a pipe and a pouch of tobacco out of his pocket. He filled his pipe, then reached back into his pocket for a book of matches to light it. Lawry took several puffs from it, then turned his attention back to Rob. “So, this man you’re running down—he must be worth a lot of money.”

“Oh, not so much. But, when you’ve been a few months without any money coming in, even a dollar is worth a scrap of trouble.”

“I suppose so.”

“So, what do you do Mr. Lawry?”

“Oh, nothing much. I’m a carpenter by trade. A bit too old to be doing that, though. Mostly just fish and hunt and drink nowadays.”

Rob held the bottle of whiskey up in a salute. “Not a bad way to live.” He took a swig of liquor and a chomped down on another spoonful of stew. “What kind of meat is this? Deer? Bear? It tastes different.”

“Oh, it’s a little of this, little of that. I use what I can get ahold of, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you exactly what you’re eating.”

“Well, it’s good just the same.” He finished off his stew and sat back in his chair. “So, where am I gonna be bunking tonight?”

“I’ve got a spare room. No bed, but I’ve got blankets and a pillow.”

“That’ll work.” Rob chugged down the last bit of whiskey left in the bottle. He set the bottle down and started to ask Lawry if he could pay him anything, but his tongue felt thick and his vision grew blurry. He shook his head and took several deep breaths, but started sweating like a man with a gun pointed at his head.

“You feeling alright, son?” Lawry asked from behind a sly smile.

Rob tried to tell him that no he didn’t particularly feel well, not at all, but instead he slumped forward and crashed to the floor unconscious, his bowl of stew crashing down to the floor and splattering in all directions.

Lawry walked over to the corner of the room and lifted up a trap door. “Alright, y’all come out,” he shouted.

A moment later, two young men came up from the trap door. Their eyes were blood shot and their hair was matted and dirty, giving them the appearance of rabid feral beasts. One of them darted across the room and dropped to his hands an knees by Rob’s side. He sniffed his neck and licked his cheek. “He’s a big one, daddy,” he hissed at Lawry.

The other young man joined him and poked Rob in the side. “Nice and tender, too.”

Lawry crossed his arms over his chest. “Yes,” he said, a broad smile spreading across his face. “He’ll make a fine stew indeed.”

M. Brandon Robbins

M. Brandon Robbins is a school librarian and aspiring author. He lives with his wife and two turtles in Goldsboro, NC. He wrote the “Games, Gamers, and Gaming” column for Library Journal from 2012 until last year. This is his second published work of short fiction, the first being “Lost Phone,” which was published in the debut issue of Shotgun Horror Clips. Brandon is currently revising two novels with hopes of publication.

A Free Meal

My crockpot bubbles with the fresh kill from yesterday; my coworkers grin red as they lap up my unique cuisine. Suzy asks me where I got the meat; I wink and say hunting. Panic strikes for a moment when I hear the name of our supervisor, Pat; they know he never misses a free meal. A chill wafts into the common area, carrying the smell of brown sugar and fat throughout the building. Megan tells the others she saw him last night storming to my office with a stack of errors. Don’t worry, I tell them, he’s around here somewhere.

Matt Brandenburg

Matt Brandenburg lives in Kalamazoo, MI with his wife, two daughters, and two dogs. He has been dipping his toe into the pool of horror fiction for a couple of years, but only recently worked up the courage to try to swim. In his spare time he reads a lot, watches crazy horror movies, tends a moldy pumpkin patch, and listens to synthwave soundtracks. He is currently working on a novella and the start of a novel. He has recently started writing book reviews for Storgy Magazine(https://storgy.com/).

 

Blog: https://keepyoufromscreaming.blogspot.com/

Coming Up Short

“What are you doing?”

“Checking my balance. I think I might be a little short this month.”

“How is that possible? You did all your collections, right?”

“I thought so. Crap. I’m missing like fifty souls.”

“Dude, you’re screwed. Management hasn’t been in a forgiving mood lately. How did this even happen?”

“I know. I ran into someone and dropped all my paperwork. I must have lost one.”

“Ran into someone? Let me guess. Amy from accounting. That girl is going to get you thrown into the pit.”

“Chill. I’ll work overtime. It’ll be fin … Ahhhh!!”

“I told you so.”

Andrea Allison

Andrea Allison currently resides in a small uneventful town located in Oklahoma after moving from a small uneventful town in Texas. She is an author who enjoys writing horror of all varieties and her work has appeared both online and in print.

Momentum

Icy breath caressed his skin. He lay against cold stone. Each crest of chilled rock cut into his back, the flesh tearing from his skin as he writhed against the rope encasing his wrists. Darkness, blacker than he’d ever experienced, encompassed his being, shedding no light on his unknown prison. He smelled her, the intoxicating scent of roses overwhelming his thoughts. She gently traced the knife along his throat, reveling in the scream that grew deep inside his chest. He breathed harder as she immersed herself in his dying breath. She smiled, leaving him there to search for the next.

Meli Goodell

Meli Goodell has been writing since she learned to spell, but has just recently pursued publication with three micro-fiction stories appearing in anthologies in 2017. She is currently in the submission process for her first novel, Salvagium. You can read more about Meli and her adventures in writing at www.meligoodell.com

Taking Submissions: TBA Scifi Asexual Romance

Deadline: April 15th, 2018
Payment: $25
Note: While many of Circlet’s calls tend to fall into speculative fiction, we’re still in a gray area on anything that would be erotica. However, this one doesn’t have that push unline many of the publisher’s titles so we thought you might want to take a look at something a little different.

Possible Titles: The Romantic Ace; Acethetic
Edited by Victoria Pond

It seems like every romance movie, book, and song out there equates lust with love, and that means some of us are left out. Not everyone feels lust. Not everyone even wants romantic love.

Here’s your chance to talk about romance for the characters uninterested in sex. Give me your space pilots in serious relationships with their sentient ships. Think about how an incubus would patiently court a demi-sexual. Maybe you have a regency fantasy where only a virgin can wield the talisman, and thank goodness we’ve got an adult countess who can step up.

Let’s not define this by what it isn’t. Allosexuality dominates the rest of the media. Here’s a chance for ace pride to shine. Submit your stories from all over the spectra—from science fiction to fantasy, from sex-repulsed to demi-sexual, from romantic to platonic.

This romance anthology celebrates asexuality in all its forms, in all its levels. Maybe your characters will take things to their allosexual conclusions, but maybe they won’t. And, as it ought to be in reality, that’s up to you.

“Ace” puns highly encouraged. (You know: the dogfighting “flying ace” who has a closer-than-lovers arrangement with his mechanic.)

Email your submissions to [email protected]gmail.com. We do not publish poetry. Stories should generally be between 2500 and 8500 words (though we’re flexible for a great story). Originals only, no reprints. We purchase first rights for inclusion in the ebook anthology for $25, with the additional rights to a print edition later which would also pay $25 should it happen. Authors retain the rights to the individual stories; Circlet exercises rights to the anthology as a whole. Submissions are open now, and close on April 15th.

Via: Circlet.

WIHM: The First Chapter Of ‘Purgatech: Jess’ Horror’

Below is the first chapter of ‘Purgatech: Jess’ Horror’ which is fully available for free on FicFun through a website and online app!

About Purgatech: Jess’ Horror:
When Jess Wilson’s beloved grandmother dies, the misunderstood college student is left with no family. Desperate to find a place she belongs, Jess withdraws into her obsession with the paranormal, just as her ex, Dylan, returns to town.
Working for a company touting cutting-edge technology that bridges this world with the afterlife, Dylan recruits Jess as a trial user. But Jess’ boyfriend, Kyle, warns Jess that it’s Dylan’s agenda and not his concern that drives him.
Torn between Kyle and her desire for answers to a life filled with unexplained occurrences, Jess plunges headlong into an intense ordeal that has her questioning her sanity.
You can find the entire serial of Purgatech: Jess’ Horror online at https://www.ficfun.com/novel/1943394-Purgatech:-Jess’-Horror.html
Or download the FicFun app here: https://ficfunapp.onelink.me/V4xu/812c2a

Purgatech: Jess’ Horror By Mary Rajotte

CHAPTER ONE

The Boston College campus was awash in the colors of fall. Stately pines were interspersed with the gold and yellow maples that lined the campus. Leaves skittered across the courtyards, making a crunching sound under Jess Wilson’s boots as she trudged from her last class of the day past the administration building.

 

The moment she turned the corner, though, she wished she’d taken the long route.

 

Coach Simpson’s whistle echoed across the football field in short, intermittent bursts as he barked out orders to the football team in their muddied uniforms. The Eagles were geared up and practicing for the big face-off with their big rivals, the Panthers. Jess knew that rivalry all too well. Her boyfriend, Kyle, was the quarterback for the Panthers and always got a lot of playful ribbing from his teammates about dating a girl from their most hated arch enemies.

 

Spying the Ladyhawks along the sidelines, Jess dipped her head and picked up her pace as she passed them. They were usually too busy primping or slathering on lip gloss to shoot anything more than a catty look in her directions.

 

“Look out, girls,” Kara Pine called out, ruffling her pom-poms in Jess’ direction as she passed. “Here comes Morticia.”

 

Jess glared at the squad. Their candy-colored uniforms only made her despise them that much more. But she bit her tongue. Another confrontation with the head bitch was the last thing she was in the mood for today.

 

“Where you going in such a hurry, Mrs. Munster? Late for a meeting with your coven at cemetery?”

 

Don’t stop, Jess told herself. Don’t do it. You always regret it.

 

But she could hear them snickering behind her back. One quick glance over her shoulder at their snide looks was all it took. She stopped mid-step and turned to face them.

 

“You know, you guys really need to come up with a better burn than that.”

 

Kara flipped her blonde ponytail as she strutted toward Jess. “Oh, I’m sure I can come up with something a lot better than that, freak.”

 

“Wow. So original,” Jess said. She clenched her fists at her side to keep her temper under control but it didn’t matter.

 

Just as Kara started toward her, Jess felt a familiar sensation.

 

The air around her suddenly cooled. Stray leaves flitted up in a whirlwind around her as the breeze lifted. The hairs on her arms stood at attention, as though some electrical pulse of energy was coursing through her body.

 

Kara stopped. Her eyebrows knitted together and a look of confusion riddled her usual resting-bitch-face.

 

Something flickered just out of the corner of Jess’ peripheral vision. A shimmering shape materialized and then moved around from behind her. Like a shadow in reverse, it was pale blue-white and just slightly taller than her.

 

As if sensing the figure, Kara took a step back from Jess. Her teeth chattered and she clung to the hot pink hoodie she was wearing, zipping it all the way up.

 

“What? You’ve got nothing else to say?” Jess said, stepping toward Kara.

 

“You know what, Wilson?” Kara said, taking a step toward her. But just as she did, her head yanked back so forcefully that she let out a yelp.

 

“Hey! Watch it!” Kara yelled.

 

All at once, the rest of the cheerleading squad were on their feet and rushing toward their captain.

 

“What? Kara? What happened?” one of them asked.

 

“Didn’t you guys see that?” Kara shouted. “She pulled my hair!”

 

Kara’s partner-in-crime Nikki stepped around her and lunged at Jess. “What the hell, Jess? This isn’t elementary school!”

 

“I didn’t touch her!” Jess shouted.

 

“You did!” Kara said, her gaze darting around. “You…you yanked on my hair! You guys saw her, right?”

 

The girls let out a chorus of agreement.

 

“You know what? This is a waste of my time,” Jess said.

 

She brushed past them and moved in double-time to get away from them but the followed after her like a flock of vultures.

 

“Hey, where do you think you’re going, Wilson?” Nikki called out. “You know some people would consider that assault!”

 

Jess clenched her teeth together. Why the hell had she gone that way anyway? She should have known better.

 

“Hey, Jess, I’m talking to you!”

 

For a brief moment, Jess felt Nikki’s bony little fingers wrap around her bicep but just as Jess turned to confront her, Nikki gasped then did a face-plant in the mud.

 

Jess froze, covering her mouth with her hand and watching as Nikki flailed around in the mud for a second or two. By the time the rest of the girls had caught up to her, she was screeching and spitting out a mouthful of mud.

 

“Oh my god!” Kara shouted. “What the hell’s your problem, you freak?!”

 

Jess spun on her heel and raced away from the scene, letting the group hurl insults at her the whole way. It wasn’t until she’d made it across the road and around the block when she stopped.

 

She waited a beat…then another…and then burst out laughing.

 

A car pulled up beside her on the street and the driver leaned over the passenger side seat and called out to her.

 

“I see someone’s having a good day.”

 

Jess walked over to the passenger side window, leaned down and smiled at her boyfriend, Kyle Low. “I wasn’t…until now.”

 

She pulled the door open, slid into the seat and leaned over the console to kiss Kyle on the lips.

 

“Well, I’d like to think I had a little part in that,” he said.

 

“You’re half of the equation.”

 

“Oh?” he said. “And the other half?”

 

As he started up the street, Jess sunk down in her seat and cast a furtive look over her shoulder out the window. Kara and her minions had vacated the field.

 

“Oh, just a little run-in with the Ladyhawks.”

 

“Oh no. Not that again. I thought I told you to stay the hell away from those chicks.”

 

“I tried, babe. I really did but…”

 

“But what?” Kyle shot Jess a suspicious look out of the corner of his eye. “Babe…what did you do?”

 

Jess smirked. “Nothing.”

 

“Yeah, right. You’ve got that look again.”

 

“Oh? What look is that?”

 

“That look that tells me you did something you’re going to regret.”

 

Jess pushed herself upright and slipped on her seatbelt. “Look, all I did was stand up for myself.”

 

“Jesus, Jess…what does that mean?”

 

Jess rolled her eyes. “Look, you don’t get it. These catty girls make my life a living hell. I don’t go out of my way to get into it with them. But that doesn’t mean I’m going just let it slide when they antagonize me.”

 

Kyle was silent behind the wheel but Jess knew from the way his jaw was clenched and the pulsing vein on his forehead that he wasn’t exactly happy with her.

 

“Look, babe,” she cooed, turning toward him and leaning her head on his shoulder.

 

“Don’t babe me, Jess. You just bring this crap on yourself. If you would just…”

 

“Just what?” Jess said, sitting upright again and string at him. “Go on. Say it.”

 

He shook his head.

 

“Just say it.” When he still didn’t respond, Jess pulled away from him. “If I just stopped with all this spiritual vibe nonsense, it that what you were going to say?”

 

He shrugged and let out a sigh. “Well, yeah. I mean…you’re just making yourself a target when you go around telling people you believe in crap like that.”

 

“You know what?” Jess said, turning and looking at the window before she went off on him. “I don’t actually advertise it. I told one person that one time and now it follows me around like I’ve got some kind of Scarlet Letter pinned on my chest.”

 

Jess clenched her hands together in her lap and shook her head. This was why she was choosy about her friends. When they were kids growing up, she and Kara were friends. Best friends. They had sleepovers every Saturday night and the only time they fought was about which cheesy movie they would watch first.  It took Jess a long time to build the trust she did in Kara but when she did, she thought it would be safe to tell her about all the strange happenings that had surrounded her while she was growing up.

 

It wasn’t long after Jess’ parents died in a car accident that she started to have experiences. She tried to ignore them at first but it was only after so many whispers in the dark and that feeling that something was watching over her that Jess started to believe.

 

Her Gram wanted her to keep things normal so just a few weeks after the accident, Jess was back at Kara’s for a slumber party. Jess remembered every last painful moment like it had just happened to her.

 

“Here,” Kara said, shoving a box at her.

 

Jess looked down at it. “What’s this for?”

 

Kara pulled off the lid, lifted the board and unfolded it. It was pale brown with dark letters scattered across it. A Ouija board. Her first foray into the unknown.

 

They’d both sat there, giggling with their fingers placed on the planchette, neither of them expecting it to move. But it did. And things were never the same again.

 

“Who do we contact?” Kara asked.

 

Without thought, Jess said, “Mom? Dad? Are you there? It’s me. Jess.”

 

When nothing happened, Jess felt her stomach drop.

 

But she waited, hoping with everything in her that something would happen, that the indicator would move. When it finally did, Kara looked up at Jess accusingly.

 

“You moved it!”

 

“I didn’t!” Jess remembered crying out.

 

“You did! It’s not funny, Jess! Just because you’re an orphan, doesn’t mean you can go trying to scare me!”

 

Jess remembered feeling an overwhelming sense of anger as the hot tears rolled down her cheeks. She looked up at Kara. Her eyes were wide. Her pupils round as saucers. Then just as she got up to leave, she flew a few feet across the room and face-planted on the floor.

 

The same way she had today on the football field.

 

“Look, babe. I’m sorry alright?” Kyle said, interrupting Jess’ memory.

 

They’d arrived at Jess’ place a few blocks from campus. Kyle put the car into park and went to turn off the ignition.

 

“You know what? I have a headache. Why don’t we just go out tomorrow?”

 

“Jess…come on. Don’t be like that. I drove all the way here, don’t let something as stupid as this ruin it. I said I was sorry, alright?”

 

Jess couldn’t even look at him. She knew how he felt about things, but she thought he’d at least be a little more supportive of her.

 

“Babe…”

 

She couldn’t listen to one more lame apology. She opened the car door and slid out of the seat, leaning down before she said, “I’ll talk to you later.”

 

“Jess-”

 

She slammed the door before he could finish. She spun around, directly into the arms of her best friend, Erica.

 

“Whoa! Lover’s spat?” Erica said. “From what I hear, that’s not the only fight you got into today.”

 

Jess rolled her eyes and tilted her head to one side. “Look, I just heard it from your brother in there. So please…if you’re going to chew me out-”

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Jess,” she said, holding both hands up in protest. “I wasn’t even. In fact, after I heard what happened with those Hawk beyotches, I figured you could use a little pick-me-up.”

 

Erica held up a grocery bag.

 

“Cookie dough. Your favorite. We can eat it with a spoon right out of the package! Huh? What do you say?”

 

Erica nudged Jess a few times. “Come on. You know my brother’s an idiot,” she said, making a face at Kyle over Jess’ shoulder.

 

“You can say that again.”

 

“And that’s why you live with me and not him. Come on.”

 

Before Jess could protest, Erica had taken her by the hand and pulled her up the walkway. Jess felt momentarily guilty for not saying anything to Kyle, so she stopped short of going up the steps to the porch. When she turned around to at least give him a perfunctory wave, Kyle sped off, leaving her standing there with her hand in the air.

 

“I don’t know what you see in him, anyway,” Erica said, bounding up the steps and unlocking the front door. “I mean he’s my brother and I love him. But he’s also an idiot.”

 

Erica laughed as she pushed open the door and went inside. Jess reluctantly followed after her, and had just closed the door behind her and was walking into the kitchen when there was a knock on the door.

 

“Well, that didn’t take long! I knew he wouldn’t bail after driving for two hours just to see you. Time to kiss and make up!” Erica called out to her. “Don’t let him talk you into ditching me, though! You and I have a date with this chocolate chunk cookie dough!”

 

Jess couldn’t help but smile. She knew how Kyle felt about her and her beliefs. But they’d been together for almost six months now. If he didn’t know her by now, that she wasn’t just making things up, then he didn’t know her at all.

 

She went to the front door and hauled it open.

 

“So, who gets to apologize first?”

 

Jess’s smile froze then slid from her face, leaving her expression blank.

 

“Miss Wilson?”

 

Jess’ pulse instantly quickened. Sheriff Wolf stood in front of her, his hat tucked under one arm. He shifted from one foot to the other, his mouth pulled into something between a weak smile and an awkward grimace.

 

“Is that pathetic brother of mine groveling yet?” Erica said.

 

Jess didn’t answer, not even when Erica came stomping up the hall behind her.

 

“What is it? What’s going on?” Erica said, the panic in her voice going from zero to 50 in 2.5 seconds. “Is it Kyle? What happened to him? He just left here!”

 

Sheriff Wolf nodded his head and gestured inside.

 

“This isn’t about Kyle. This is about…your grandmother, Miss Wilson. Can I come in?”

 

Jess was vaguely aware of moving aside and allowing the sheriff to come in. She barely felt Erica’s hand grab hers and lead her into the living room. Her ears were ringing so loudly that she had no idea what the Sheriff was saying but his face told the story. His eyebrows dipped together in the middle like two sad caterpillars. He kept scratching at the back of his neck as his lips moved. Everything he said fell on deaf ears but Jess didn’t need to hear him to know she was about to live another nightmare.

– END OF CHAPTER 1 –

Mary Rajotte

Mary Rajotte

Toronto-native Mary Rajotte has a penchant for penning nightmarish tales that haunt and terrify. Sometimes camera-elusive but always coffee-fueled, Mary’s creepy tales explore myths, dreams and nightmares. You can find Mary online at http://maryrajotte.com/blog/

Taking Submissions: Apparition Lit Magazine – April 2018

Deadline: February 28th, 2018
Payment: $0.01 per word, minimum of 10.00

Apparition Lit is open for poetry and short story submissions four times a year.

  • February 15-28
  • May 15-31
  • August 15-31
  • November 15-30

Starting January 2018, Apparition Lit will also hold monthly flash fiction contests. These stories will follow selected themes and be published online.

For more information on themes and submission guidelines, please see the flash fiction drop down below.

Our themes for 2018 will be:

  • Apparition (Now CLOSED to submissions, publishing January 2018)
  • Delusion (open for submissions February 15-28, 2018, publishing April 2018)
  • Vision (open for submissions May 15-31, 2018, publishing July 2018)
  • Diversion (open for submissions August 15-31, 2018, publishing October 2018)

PAYMENT:

Apparition is a token rate magazine, paying $0.01 per word, minimum of 10.00 dollars (excluding flash contest, a flat rate of 5.00 dollars to the winning flash). If we accept your story, we are purchasing the right to publish the story online and in the quarterly edition. Rights will revert back to the artist after one year.

WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR:

SHORT FICTION:

We will only accept stories between 1000-5000 words. If the story is complete with an extra hundred words, then it will still be considered. Any stories over 5,200 words will automatically be rejected.

PAYMENT:

Apparition is a token-rate magazine, paying $0.01 per word, minimum of 10.00 dollars (excluding flash contest). If we accept your story, we are purchasing the right to publish the story online and in the quarterly edition. Rights will revert back to the artist after one year.

HOW TO SUBMIT:

  1. Format the story using the Shunn manuscript
  2. Please retain all proper formatting marks. Keep font italicized and bolded. We’re not in the typewriter age anymore.
  3. Please only use Times New Roman or Arial font in your document
  4. Save as an RTF file and attach to an email
  5. In the text of the email, provide a brief cover letter that includes your name, the title of the short story, word count, and any relevant publications
  6. Edit the email’s subject line so it reads: SUBMISSION: Title of Your Story
  7. Email your formatted email and short story manuscript to [email protected]
  8. Add Apparition Lit to your Safe Senders list so you can receive our auto-response emails

RESPONSE TIME:

All acceptances and rejections will be emailed by the 15th day of the following month after submissions close.

If you have not heard back by the 15th, send a query to: [email protected] with the title of your submission. Before emailing, please check your spam folder.

To make sure you receive all emails from Apparition Lit, please add us to your Safe Senders list in your email client.

Apparition Lit is seeking original, unpublished speculative fiction that meet our quarterly theme. Speculative fiction is weird, almost unclassifiable. It’s fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and literary. We want it all. Send us your strange, misshapen stories.

Send us stories with enough emotional heft to break a heart, with prose that’s as clear and delicious as broth. We’re looking for proactive characters and beautiful language, all wrapped up in a complete story.

Diversity is as important in fiction as it is in real life. We want a mosaic of stories, from authors of all identities and walks of life.

WHAT WE DON’T ACCEPT:

While we love dark stories with macabre elements, we will not accept stories with gratuitous and graphic violence or rape. We also will not consider stories that have extreme, purposeless violence toward animals.

We do not publish erotica or thinly-veiled fanfiction.

We do not accept multiple or simultaneous submissions. Please send only one submission per category during each reading period. Apparition Lit wants your best story that meets the current theme. At some point, if your story does not meet the theme, you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall.

At this time, we do not accept reprints or resubmissions.

Via: Apparition Lit.

WIHM: Unzip Your Darkness

Women have made great strides in the world over the past few centuries. For example, rather than thousands of us being burnt or hanged for supposed witchcraft, we just get accused of being part of a witch-hunt for calling men out on their sexist bullshit. Baby steps, right? Obviously, women are still facing unimaginable horrors, one only needs to read the truly horrifying stories brave women have shared as part of the “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movements to be aware of that. It’s no wonder women are so adept at writing horror. Horror is part of our daily lives, and we have many stories to tell.

 

My go-to writing is always poetry because, well, it is my first love, but for me it is the perfect way to craft a meaning from few words. Horror poetry is such an exciting niche because when you find kindred souls you can exchange your dark snippets with, it’s like finding your tribe of word-warriors who understand the places you’re coming from, without judgement. I’m a big believer in writing what you want to and ignoring the people who choose not to understand your point of view, and especially ignoring anyone who says, “oh you’re too nice or too cute to write horror, why would you want to do that?” But you can never be too much, you can only be you. So write what you want, and when that teeth-grinding kind of conversation happens, tell them you’ll see them in Hell as you sit on the throne, writing your next piece. This is our time to be dark, weird, eccentric, sexy, witty, literary, or whatever fills your heart with bursts of excitement as you craft those words into stories.

 

You must write because the stories in your finger bones demand it, because it is an exorcism of the pain you harbor, of those stories you haven’t been able to tell yet, but I know you can, because the world can be ugly, but the spilling of our horrors, whether they are based in truth or fantastical creations of a beautiful, haunted mind, brings some sense of dark beauty back into the roots of our souls, and because this is who you are, a storyteller. A writer. A woman who uses her voice to weave suspense, fear, terror, and driblets of blood into something incredible. So, go be incredible.

 

In closing, I leave a poem, (shocking, I know.) Happy writing, ladies!

 

Reach around back

until fingertips collide

with the zipper

notched into your spine

pull it down

step out of your skeleton

undress flesh from bones,

rattle them until they spill

the riddles in their marrow

riddles of womanhood

of understanding blood and love

in the way someone who constantly cleans

up blood does

from our own wounds

from cuts and scrapes of children

from between our thighs

 

redress yourself

your veins, those congealed lengths

of stardust and swallowed light,

brush off the grime

from your organs

they belong only to you

and only you

have the right to reveal their inner

workings, their life-giving secrets

 

as you reassemble your skin,

thank it for its hardness

protecting you, sheltering,

for its softness

allowing you to feel

when you choose to

 

pull the zipper back up

secure yourself in,

pick up a pen

tell the story of what you saw

inside your own flesh

tell the story of how

you witnessed beauty, darkness,

madness, life, love, everything

between all those bones

 

 

 

Sara Tantlinger

Sara Tantlinger

Sara Tantlinger resides outside of Pittsburgh on a hill in the woods. She is the author of Love For Slaughter, has published pieces in several journals, the most recent being with Abyss and Apex and Lycan Valley Publishing. She is a contributing editor for The Oddville Press, a graduate of Seton Hill’s Writing Popular Fiction MFA program, and an active member of the HWA. She embraces all things strange and can be found lurking in graveyards or on Twitter @SaraJane524 and at https://saratantlinger.wordpress.com/

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