Trembling With Fear 08/12/2018

This Saturday, I am going AWOL from TWF and the writing world in order to attend Bloodstock, a heavy metal festival in the depths of Derbyshire in the UK. It is not as big as Reading or Download or other festivals but it does attract big names. I’ve attended on previous occasions when Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie were headliners. I’m looking forward this time to Gojira, Combichrist and Alestorm. Metal in a variety of forms-industrial, black, goth, doom-is something which goes hand-in-hand with my writing, the atmosphere it creates often feeding into my work. Music, and metal in particular, is actually more important to me than any horror film, perhaps because it allows my imagination a greater freedom. And the one thing I like about Bloodstock in particular, is the complete acceptance by everybody of everybody else. There is no posing or judging, just a wonderful time being had by all (of all age ranges!). So that’s my excuse for not writing this weekend.

Latest DeadCades anthology update for those interested in the Horror Tree/FlashDogs monster baby is that it is now out being read by the wonderful, and highly in demand, Christina Dalcher whose book Vox is coming out very, very shortly (I’ve got it on pre-order). Her book has received amazing promotion on tv and in the press over the past few months and life for her is a bit of a whirlwind but she has still found time to write an intro for us. If any of you dig deeply enough through TWF or even when we get our anthology out, you will find a story of hers in our pages. And her book, Vox, is based on the premise that women in the future are allowed to speak only 100 words a day – a verbal drabble, if you like!

I found a website the recently that might be of use to those of you who write longer works. Trying to visualise the size of your book in terms of what you see on the shelf is difficult but https://www.readinglength.com/ allows you to plug in the name of a published book and it can tell or estimate the number of pages and the word count, giving you something to compare your own work against.

Something else I subscribe to is Submittable’s newsletter Submishmash Weekly. This lists calls (not genre specific, quite often literary), has occasional job announcements, including ‘writer-in-residence’ offers, internships, news on grants and bursaries and the like. This newsletter is not just for writers and poets but also for designers, artists, and journalists. It particularly caught my eye this week because some subscribers are submitting their acceptance and rejection stats and Submittable celebrates both with them. I notice in the acceptances, Robert Allen Lupton (a TWF contributor, amazon author page https://amzn.to/2AQqwaY) was congratulated and then his name also appeared in the July top five for most rejections received. I’m wondering exactly what his submission rate is? Robert, let us know your secret!

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

The Trembling With Fear Anthology is getting CLOSER! We had some cover issues that we’re in the process of working out but aside from that, we’re actually golden! The entire book is formatted, uploaded, and looks GREAT!

I know that I WAS talking about a proof being ordered by this week but that has been pushed back to next. Still, progress. REAL PROGRESS! We’ve already got a few things in place to make next year’s anthology (potentially anthologies) a bit more streamlined!

‘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

Thanatos

The old woman lying in the hospital bed seemed to be made from paper and twigs. It was only when she tried to speak, dry and cracked lips struggling to form words in-between each laboured breath, that he realised that she could see him. Being recognised was a different matter.

He stepped into the room and closed the door behind him, shutting out the subdued murmur of the Oncology ward. She raised a trembling hand and motioned for him to come closer. He approached slowly, the soles of his shoes quietly squeaking as they rubbed against the linoleum floor, then lowered himself into the chair that was positioned by her bedside.

“You finally came,” she managed to gasp.

He nodded. She paused, fought once again to fill her lungs, then continued.

“I knew you would. How long has it been?”

He didn’t know. Time, he supposed, was paramount to her. He imagined it was the same for all of those in a similar position. The essentiality of every new day; the value found in each extra hour. He held little interest in marking the movements of the planets in minutes and in seconds. All he could offer her was a shrug of the shoulders.

She responded with the beginnings of a smile. It flickered across her face only to vanish as quickly as it had appeared. She began to cough; gently at first, until the hacking grew increasingly more violent. She rapidly lost control of her body, her insubstantial frame starting to buck and twist as if it were being exposed to a powerful jolt of electricity. As she struggled to slow her breathing, she reached out and grabbed for the PCA handset. Her twisted fingers jabbed repeatedly at the administration button. The morphine flooded her wasted limbs, causing her exhalations to subside. She looked up at him, a lazy tear rolling down one cheek.

“It hurts all of the time.”

Nodding, he placed his hand on her head and softly stroked her brow. A moment later he quickly slid his palm down her face, stretching his thumb and fingers until they clamped firmly across her mouth. Her resistance was barely noticeable; her movements weak and feeble like the last fluttering of an exhausted butterfly. He pressed down firmly, his other hand moving across to her nose, two of his digits pinching her nostrils tightly until they were shut. He watched silently until she finally stopped twitching.

Eventually he released his grip, wiping her saliva from his hands on the corner of her bedsheet. He stood up and headed back towards the door, the rubbery squelch of his shoes breaking the silence.

Back in the corridor the rest of the hospital quietly went about its business. Two Doctors stood huddled together examining patients notes on a clipboard. A nurse pushing a trolley passed hurriedly by, seemingly oblivious to his presence.

He took a deep breath, taking in the heavy smell of disinfectant, and then headed off towards the maternity ward.

Steven Holding

Steven Holding lives with his family in Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom. His work has been short-listed in several contests and his story, ‘Until The End Of The World’, was selected as the winning entry in the Writing Magazine 2016 annual short story competition. One of his monologues was chosen to be performed at Northampton’s Royal Theatre, while his adaptation of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was produced at Northampton’s Derngate Theatre in 2017. Other publishing credits include appearances in Ad Hoc Fiction’s weekly flash fiction ebook.

You can follow Steven’s work at his homepage: www.stevenholding.co.uk

Dragon Slayer

His cloak was fastened with a silver dragon pin. He was silent. Folk whispered that his kind burnt out their voices with poison, so they couldn’t share the horrors they’d seen. They pointed him to the smoking storehouse.

 

A great clamour of steel came from inside. The smoke petered out. Soon he walked out too, holding the dragon’s severed head high. They showered him in gold.

 

Later, in a seedy inn on the edge of town, he knocked back a foamy pint, the stitched leather ‘dragon’ head and smoke-bomb pouch lying at his feet. “To easy marks, and easier coin!”

Max Hallam

Max Hallam studies Creative Writing at Brunel University London. He lives in Hillingdon with his family, and can be found at @Max_Hallam on Twitter.

Saved By the Bell

The doctor declared her dead.  Cholera.  Her will specified a safety coffin with a cord attached to a bell, just in case the doctor got it wrong.  The cord was tied to her wrist.  The bell hung from a metal bracket next to the grave.

After the funeral he stared at the mound of earth.

“I always hated you.  I’m glad you died before me.”

His words clearly had some effect.  He saw the cord go tight, the bell start to swing.  Without hesitation, he pulled out the ringer.  The bell swung noiselessly.

“I told you, you died before me.”

RJ Meldrum

R. J. Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010 with his wife Sally. His interest in the supernatural is a lifetime obsession and when he isn’t writing ghost stories, he’s busy scouring the shelves of antique book-sellers to increase his collection of rare and vintage supernatural books. During the winter months, he trains and races his own team of sled dogs.

He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Digital Fiction and James Ward Kirk Fiction.

You can find out more about RJ at his homepage.

The Spider’s Kiss Goodnight

She kissed him behind the Ferris wheel as the twilight began to fade.

“It’s not my kiss that will hurt you,” she said, holding his face in her hands.

He held her awkwardly around the waist pretending the fresh rain scent of her hair wasn’t a turn-on.

“It’s the spider’s.”

From her finger crawled a long black spider that dreamily walked towards his neck. It bit him hard enough to draw blood, but not loud enough for him to scream.

He whispered “remember me” as the poison began to blur the fireworks and the carnival screams faded into the wind.

W. Tyler Paterson

  1. T. Paterson is a New England writer.  A graduate of Second City Chicago and a 5 year road warrior touring across the country, he is glad to be back in Stephen King country.  Author of the three novels Dark Satellites, Wotna, and the King of Cowards, he currently produces his YouTube Channel “How Would I End It?” pitching ways to tie up popular movie and TV franchises. Send him a tweet @WTPaterson

Trembling With Fear 08/05/2018

Lazy days of summer, eh? Lies, all lies. Since finishing the school year, my break has been pretty much non-stop in terms of getting things done. It might ease up, I’m hoping it’ll ease up …

Hmm, what can I write about this week? Rejection? Yep, got one of those from Cemetery Dance – but I was in the company of hundreds and I still like my story so will submit it elsewhere. Anything else? My self-published poetry collection (Dark is my Playground) briefly shared the Kindle shelf with Dante. That made me happy as his Inferno is something I have used in my stories or referenced in some way. More? DeadCades, the FlashDog/Horror Tree baby is almost ready. All stories in, except one awaiting its final edits. That means the bulk of my editing commitments are over and I can get back to work on my WIP. You’ll know when I’m writing as I tend to tweet the music links instead of actually getting on with things! What distractions do you use to avoid writing?

Now, for TWF people.  I went over to Lionel Ray Green’s blog at the weekend, and had a read of his ‘Horror at the Beach’ post, great fun. He also includes reviews (and is also part of the HorrorAddicts review team, somewhere else  I also lurk), news and interviews, so please go over and take a look. I also visited G.A. Miller’s website. I haven’t had a chance to look too much at the content BUT I was very impressed by the whole layout – extremely professional. I’m hoping to sort out a ‘proper’ website over the next month and I’ll be checking up on people and maybe pinching an idea or two …

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Hit some snags with formatting on the Anthology but it is mostly together. I SWEAR UPDATES ARE COMING!

‘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

The Digger

By day, I dwell in the hollowed-out shell of a rotting oak in the forest outside your town. There I curl and sleep against damp, mossy wood. Shielded from searing sun. Away from day people’s prying eyes.

I myself have no eyes. Children of the dark do not require them. Only hands and feet and teeth and snout to claw and dig and sniff and chew.

Day people count hours with numbers. But I know time only by darkness. When shadows are pure and pitch and ice cold, they seep into my flesh. It is then that I know you are asleep, and I emerge to dig.

Not one night goes by that I do not creep into the pitch and search. In the woods. In the park. In your yard. In your trash and sewers.

On dry summer nights, I claw through cracked crumbling soil.

In the winter, I chew through the ice and scrape apart frozen rock.

On stormy nights, I slop through muddy puddles, soak in glop up to my shoulders, and squish wet earth as I grasp for treasure.

I do not always find things, of course, but I dig for the thrill of searching.

Day people are quick to dismiss my holes. A gopher, a mole, a sinkhole. Any explanation that helps them sleep, while I dig so close to their primrose gardens and soft pillows.

The things you find in the ground will surprise you. Priceless coins. A diamond ring. Bones.

Objects tell stories. They reek of those who buried them. They drip savory day people feelings.

A day boy stole a box of rare coins from his friend’s grandfather. Too guilty to keep them, too fearful to confess, he buried the coins. At the bottom of the tree where I sleep is a pile of coins and bottle caps. The boy’s coins are colder than the other metal things I keep.

A day man gave his day woman a ring. She accepted, and later returned it. The man was too poor, not attractive enough for her. Too ashamed to bring the ring back to the jeweler, he buried it and drove away. The ring waited in the ground to tell its story to my hands.

The ring’s man will be forgotten.

But the bones in your garden told a tale so sad that I lamented I have no eyes for tears. I could not bring myself to drag the bones back into the woods with me. I left them there, out of respect. I visited them nightly. They whispered their stories over weeks and months.

Bones are more powerful you see than rings and coins. A piece of a day person’s soul remains trapped in a skeleton for hundreds of years.

To a day person, bones are quiet. But to me they are music.

You have asked me who I am, and I have told you, but I ask that you silence your tongue a while longer. I wish to know you. I wish to know why you put this other day person’s bones in the earth.

But you will need time to think in quiet darkness. I will take you there now, so that later—when I have all but forgotten—I might find your bones again and hear the tale.

Kevin M. Folliard

Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose published fiction includes scary stories collections Christmas Terror Tales and Valentine Terror Tales, and adventure novels such as Matt Palmer and the Komodo Uprising. His work has also been collected by Double Feature Magazine, Flame Tree Publishing, Parsec Ink, and more.

LINKS:

Author Website: http://www.kevinfolliard.com/

Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Folliard/e/B0097S7T0A/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Superman

In every childhood fantasy, I was a superman.
Possessing powers only ever seen in dreams. Defying the laws of physics, travelling through space and time. A telepath, capable of placing my thoughts straight into a stranger’s mind. Destined to live forever; immortal, like a god.
A foolish youth, wishing for the impossible.
It was only as a man that I came to understand the true nature of art. The magic one can wield when a spell is really cast. Seven simple words, granting me the ability to do all that I yearned for.
I am the author.
Think of me.

Steven Holding

Steven Holding lives with his family in Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom. His work has been short listed in several contests and his story “UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD” was selected as the winning entry in the WRITING MAGAZINE 2016 annual short story competition. One of his monologues was chosen to be performed at Northampton’s Royal Theatre, while his adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland” was produced at Northampton’s Derngate Theatre in 2017.

You can visit his website at www.stevenholding.co.uk

Times Up

On wings and horror the devourer of souls was loose. It was the thing that evil ran from; power absolute. Yet, there stood a lone man unflinching and unafraid. This intrigued the ancient one.
“Tell me mortal, why do you stay?”
“I know that you are afraid,” the man replied.
The cosmic being recoiled from the tiny form. This was no chance meeting. The deepest pit of despair couldn’t contain the darkness inside him.
“Death you see, dear Sinthulas, comes for us all.”

Arthur Unk

Arthur Unk lives and works in the United States, but dreams of a tropical, zombie-free island. He hones his drabble skills via the Horror Tree Trembling With Fear (Dead Wrong, Flesh of My Flesh, The Tale of Fear Itself, and others yet to come) and writes micro/flash fiction daily. His influences include H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and life experience. You can follow his work from all around the web via his blog at http://arthurunk.com or read his many, many micro-stories on Twitter @ArthurUnkTweets

She Took Everything in the Divorce, so I Took Everything Out of Her

Janice loved that she got to perform her ex-wife’s autopsy. Slicing Lianna open didn’t quite make up for adultery and alimony, but that didn’t matter. Betrayed by her lover, with no family to mourn, Lianna’s corpse meant nothing to anyone.
Pulling out each organ and bone for fun, the mortician left a skin husk behind. Yet, as she began to embalm the skin, it clung to her, shredding through clothing. Too fast for her to scream, it adhered to her whole body, stretching, covering, consuming.
Once it took over, the new woman caressed her new body, smiled, and walked away.

Kevin Holton

Kevin Holton is a cyborg and fitness junkie from coastal New Jersey. He’s the author of At the Hands of Madness (Severed Press), as well as the forthcoming novels The Nightmare King (Siren’s Call Publications) and These Walls Don’t Talk, They Scream (HellBound Books). He also co-wrote the short film Human Report 85616, and his short work has appeared with Sci-Phi Journal, The Literary Hatchet, Radiant Crown Press, Pleiades, Rain Taxi, Mighty Quill Books, and Thunderdome Press, among others. He can also be found acting, blogging with The Bold Mom, or talking about Batman.

You can find more of his work on his website, Patreon, Amazon, or just follow him on Twitter .

Trembling With Fear 07/29/2018

I thought I was on holiday but so far I think I’ve been working harder than I do in my day job! Firstly, Trembling With Fear. A little while ago, the always supportive (although occasionally scary) Kim Plasket asked about themes for TWF. We do have calls out for Halloween and Christmas on our submissions page and this year we also had Valentine and Easter specials – these were included pretty much on the hoof. Anyway, talking about it with Kim, we mulled over a summer holiday themed submission call and I was going to start asking people to send in their vampire bucket and spade stories or zombies vs lifeguards or whatever beach type horror you could come up with. Then I realised the snag. Unlike last year, we have now scheduled a number of stories in advance so any summer stories might not get published until the depths of winter which isn’t our intention. So, regardless of any ongoing submissions for TWF bear in mind you can submit for the following ‘specials’:

Halloween

Christmas

Valentine

Easter

Summer Fun(!) – for publication next year. Something for you to work on during long winter nights.

Although there are reading dates given in the submission page for the first two calls, I am more than happy to receive them before these dates. If you want to submit work for any of these calls, please indicate it in your email subject line, eg TWF Submission – Halloween. The usual guidelines apply.

If anybody has any ideas for other themed specials they’d like us to do, just get in touch. If we get a large enough number of submissions for the specials, they will probably have their own separate anthology.

On another note, I came across this tweet from TWF Contributor Douglas Prince (@darkness_doug) the other day and it made me smile.

#writingtips The use of proper spacing is essential for proper comprehension. It’s the difference between saying: a bigfoot is a legend, or saying: a big foot is a leg end.

I could do with more writing tips like these. Does anybody have any more? Send in your favourites.

Dark is my Playground is something else I’ve been working on over the past few days. It is a compilation of dark verse and nursery rhymes (a labour of love!), a mixture of published and unpublished verse which has been lurking in a folder for a long time. I finally plucked up the courage today and put it up on amazon at https://amzn.to/2mJEQIq (UK) or https://amzn.to/2OjEPY3 (US). It’s only available in Kindle format for the moment but I hope to look at sorting a print copy in a few weeks when less pressured. The aim for me was to actually press publish – it took a lot for me to go ahead, that horrible old self-doubt really holds you back at times. Although I have had work published it’s always been with the comfort blanket of being surrounded by others in the anthologies and magazines. To step out on my own is, for me, pretty daunting. Should you take a look at it, it’d be great to get some feedback.

Now I’ve got to go back to a certain little editing job I’m carrying out for The Infernal Clock. Our DeadCades anthology (horror stories for every decade) is on track and features a number of TWF writers, only a couple of stories left to look at but all is good. I’ll have to write a guest post about that at some point and you’ll be able to spot a few of TWF’s usual suspects in its lineup.

Just remembered there’s also a submission call whose closing date is 29th July which I wanted to go for …

Did I say I was on holiday?

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

‘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

Agnes And Cat

With the soft click of the back door, Agnes grinned as she turned to face the undergrowth. The thick twist of decaying trees lay beneath her at the bottom of the garden stairs. However, the dark swamp didn’t deter her. Gathering up her skirts, Agnes descended the stone stairs, the palms of her feet rubbing against the fuzzy moss. With every step, Agnes slipped into the dark, the thin fingers of the tree branches reaching out to her until the cool, dark forest encased her.

The branches twisted and interlocked above her, smothering the grey sun and curving upwards like a dome that only a child such as she could fit through. Immune against fear, Agnes took another step, feeling the soft, black soil between her toes.

She found them at the centre, gathering at the peak of the domes, like pink, white and blue stars in a black sky. They squeaked with glee when they saw her, their wings easing them down to her level. They carried tiny lanterns, flowers and pieces of fruit. Their tiny exoskeletons barely able to carry such items. Agnes could see their smiles, the tiny lines on their thumb-size faces sparkling with an innocent beauty.

Agnes grinned at the fae, their stick-like figures dancing like dandelions in a soft breeze. Her grin faded as two tiny yellow dots protruding from a mound of soft moss. Humming in curiosity, Agnes slid her foot towards towards the mound, slowing her pace as it scampered back against the wall of the dome. The fae squealed and dived down towards her skirts, pulling at the hem in an attempt to steal her away. As she reached the cloak of moss, they retreated to the top of the dome, watching as Agnes bent down to level herself with the glowing, yellow cat-like eyes.

She reached out to pinch its moss coat, revealing its silky face and squashed nose. It dug its head back into the moss, frightened of the child and ashamed of its grey, matted skin of fur.

“It’s okay,” Agnes whispered,

With a low groan, it pushed forward, the moss sliding from its body like a snakeskin. The tiny fae squealed as it grew in height, the top of it’s fuzzy head brushing against the dome, standing several inches taller than Agnes with his sleek, muscular legs. Its long arms started at its hunched shoulder and ended near it’s large, furry feet. The fae retreated upon view of the creature, disappearing into the undergrowth with their gifts and light.

Agnes ignored them, reaching to take hold of the creature’s plate-sized hand, barely able to wrap her hand around one of its clawed fingers. Its eyes glowed in the surrounding darkness, staring down at her as she smiled until it dared to smile back, convinced that it would not frighten her with it’s long teeth.

Agnes buried herself in her covers, curling into a tight ball as the noise continued to fill the house like toxic gas. She couldn’t retreat into the forest as her parents blocked her path, their battle taking place at the bottom of the stairs. Agnes pressed the covers against her ears, the all too familiar crunch and snapping of knuckles against flesh causing her skin to shiver.

The bed beneath her began to shake, her parent’s rage and violence seeping up from downstairs. Agnes whimpered as the bed rattled her like a doll in an earthquake, tossing her from the safety of her covers and onto the hard-wooden floor. Agnes sobbed as she landed, ignoring the pain as a thick darkness oozed out from beneath her bed. A pair of oval, blood-shot eyes immerged, glaring at her with a wicked intention. Two pairs of thin, skeleton-like hands protruded from the darkness that stuck to the fae like a habit. Agnes screamed and pushed herself backwards using the heel of her foot until she slammed into the bookshelf. Her parents didn’t hear her screams, too consumed in their hate to bother with their daughter. Agnes dipped her head, pressing her nose in-between her knees as the growling mixed with the screams from downstairs.

“Cat!” Agnes wailed,

 

With a sharp bang, the window to Agnes’ bedroom flung open, the room trembling as Cat dived through. His claws ran along the floorboards as he landed, his roar overpowering that of the fae beneath the bed. Agnes felt like a precious jewel hiding in Cat’s shadow, her protector now fully grown, reaching almost six-foot. His arms bore long drapes of fur, like blankets attached to his forearms. His teeth remained the same, finger-length and aimed directly at the threat. The beast screeched and scampered back beneath the bed, leaving only the screaming banter downstairs to seep up through Agnes’ floorboards.

Agnes held her arms up for Cat, feeling the hard floor disappear beneath her as he gathered her into his embrace like a newborn infant. The screams from downstairs continued to plague her, causing her stomach to turn. She hid by gathering Cat’s arm drapes and placing them over her head and body. Cat smiled, rising to his feet to level himself with the bookshelf.

“Agnes, can you read me something?” Cat asked,

Agnes wiped her eyes before running them along the mostly empty shelf, fixating onto a book she had never read but always admired the cover. She pointed her index finger towards it, prompting Cat to sheath it from the shelf.

“I haven’t read it yet,” she mumbled,

“We can do it together,” Cat said, turning over the cover,

The book dropped from Cat’s hand as a violent pop blew the oxygen from the air. Several more followed like a firework show, the noise making Agnes scream into Cat’s shoulder. The shots faded into silence, the smell of death wafting from downstairs into Agnes’ nose.

“What was that?” Agnes whimpered,

Cat bent down, dropping Agnes before he lunged towards the bedroom door, dragging Agnes’ dresser across the floor. His five-foot-long arms clenched as he pulled the dresser in front of the door, growling with determination until the only entrance to the room was secured. Agnes held her breath, her heart pulsing in her throat as Cat heaved with exhaustion, his figure stretching taller to Agnes as she remained trembling on the floor. Agnes shivered as Cat’s yellow eyes widened, the thick hair on his back standing at attention.

“Agnes, you need to call for help,” he said.

One thing Agnes liked about funerals were the bells in the church. They were monstrously large, yet soft, their singing smothering conversation and giving her something to wonder at so people wouldn’t talk to her.

However, Agnes was lost interest in the bells, her attention fawning for the coffin. She hadn’t heard of a mortician until her first funeral, but she hadn’t decided that it was a profession built on lies until that afternoon. There was a man inside her father’s casket that Agnes didn’t recognise. His skin was tanned and blemish-free, his eyes glued closed to hide the pale blue and blood red behind them. He wore a fine suit instead of a shirt stained with alcohol and a pair of loose pants. The blazer of the suit even covered the bullet hole in his chest. The fine looking, middle-aged man in the coffin was, to Agnes, an imposter.

Fear kept a tight grip on Agnes, even as Cat stood beside her staring into the box. To Agnes’ surprise, he didn’t attract any attention whatsoever, it was as if he wants even there. She began to shake, the depth of death still a foreign aspect to her.

“What’s the matter?” Cat asked,

“When he gets up, he’ll be mad,” Agnes replied, “he’ll be really mad,”

Agnes dipped her chin down towards her chest, tears flowing onto her black blouse as she choked on her sobs. Cat placed his arm around Agnes, squeezing her opposite shoulder she leaned her into his warm, fuzzy neck.

Her tears attracted attention, her parent’s elderly landlord hobbling over to her as if the murky scent fed a strange addiction. She pulled a clean, white handkerchief from her purse, leaning down as she held it out to Agnes.

“It’s alright, dear,” she said, “God’s with him now,”

Agnes gaped at the handkerchief. She snatched it from the woman before crushing it into her palm, tossing it to the floor. The woman’s ignorance appalled her, the expression of shock on her face only fuelling Agnes’ bitterness.

“God doesn’t exist, stupid,” she spat,

With the wind at her heels, Agnes stormed from the church, the burning summer sun blinding her as she stormed from the veranda. She retreated into the shadows of the bell towers, Cat joining her once she collapsed against the wall.

“Don’t worry,” Cat said, “They’re burying him underground, they’ll probably only bring him back up for meals,”

Agnes sniffed and sunk sideways into Cat’s embrace, hiding inside his drapes as she cried into his shoulder. He stroked her back as he squeezed her tightly, rocking her back and forth,

“It’s okay,” he said,

Agnes sniffed, wiping her eyes with her knuckles before looking up to Cat, his yellow eyes gentle and thin.

“I love you, Cat,” Agnes said,

“I love you too,” Cat replied,

The funeral bells tolled a second time as Agnes wrapped herself deeply into Cat’s warm embrace. She pondered whether her mother would be coming back, the men and women in blue that took her didn’t seem too pleased with her. She knew the violence, and the negativity wouldn’t keep the trees from sprouting past the garden anymore. She wondered if flowers would grow if the soil would be rich after detoxing from the sickening toxicity of the house. Agnes wasn’t sure if she truly did want her mother back since she had Cat to protect her from the dark fae of the forest and the monster she’d continue to fear, no matter how deep she buried him.

Claire L. Smith

Claire L. Smith is an author, poet, screenwriter and artist. Her work has been previously published with my poetry and stories being featured in Death and The Maiden, Horror Scribes, Mookychick, Luna Luna Magazine, Rag Queens Periodical and more. She is also a writer/columnist with the horror-culture website Morbidly Beautiful, a Representative for the not-for-profit organisation Spreading The Love and enjoys spending her time looking through animal rescue sites and watching American Horror Story.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: https://smithlclaire.wixsite.com/author

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The smell jolted him from sleep, acrid and dense. Smoke filled the room, gathering above like great dark clouds. The house was on fire! He panicked, the door wasn’t the best escape, the smoke seemed heavier in that direction. Frantically, he ran toward the window, hands shaking, throwing back curtains and ripping the blinds out of the way. He faced a concrete wall, where was the window? He clawed at it as the room was fully engulfed. The aliens nodded to each other, checking boxes of different human reactions, “What do you think? Murder or drowning for the next one?”

Melissa Moos

M.T. Moos is an aquatic microbiology professor by trade and an aspiring writer and potter. Her passions include science fiction and the strange. When she isn’t working, she can be found playing with mud and creating functional earthenware pottery while contemplating new story ideas.

Damned In The Dark

The bounty hunter stepped into the alley. He switched on night vision in his helmet and gripped the blaster close to his chest. His power armor glowed crimson in the darkness.

The gangster transported into the alley, henchmen materialized on either of his sides.

“Heard you’ve been looking for me?” The hunter asked.

“There’s a target I need taken care of. She’s the leader of the White Suns. The usual fee.”

The bounty hunter leveled his blaster and blew a hole in the gangster’s face, then shot the henchmen in quick succession.

“Sorry boss, White Suns doubled the ‘usual’ fee.”

 

 

Eric S. Fomley

Eric S. Fomley writes Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror short fiction. He is the editor of Martian Magazine and the Timeshift and Drabbledark anthologies. His work has appeared in various venues including previous publications with Trembling with Fear. You can follow his publication on his website ericfomley.com

My Tormentor

I knew I was dreaming. It was the same as it always was. I was being chased through the woods by the man from my nightmares. My heart pounded, and I could smell the pine trees. Except this time, sick of running, I stood to fight. And fight we did. He kicked and screamed, cursed and yelled as my fingers closed around his throat and I choked the life right out of him.

My tormentor.

I wake suddenly, out of breath, and look at my darling wife lying beside me. She was dead, the life choked right out of her.

 

C.M. Saunders

C.M. Saunders is a freelance journalist and editor from Wales. His work has appeared in over 60 magazines, ezines and anthologies worldwide, including Loaded, Maxim, Record Collector, Fortean Times, Fantastic Horror, Trigger Warning, Liquid imagination, Crimson Streets and the Literary Hatchet. His books have been both traditionally and independently published, the most recent being Human Waste and X3, his third collection of short fiction, both of which are available now on Deviant Dolls Publications.

Find out more on his website:

https://cmsaunders.wordpress.com/

Red Was His Colour

Red was his colour. Red rags, red mist, red-handed. Dawn had worn his brand for years on her crimson-slashed back and maroon-masked stomach, a heart in a bruise, bleeding. She longed for a change, anything to wash away the stain. She preferred ivory, its cold tone, its sense of peace; the grave-bound bones of the babies she had denied him wore this shade. Dawn made his new bed alongside them, earthy and shallow, ready for him to lie in it. She poured him a glass of his favourite red and added granules of ivory. A poisonous combination. Like their marriage.

Stephanie Ellis

Stephanie Ellis writes speculative fiction stories which have found success in a variety of horror magazines and anthologies. Her first novella, Domnuill-dhu has recently been published in Dark Chapter Press’s Bloody Heather anthology. She is also co-editor at The Infernal Clock and at Trembling with Fear, the online magazine branch of Horror Tree (the online writer’s resource). She is currently awaiting decisions from publishers following submission of a novel and a novella.

Samples of her writing can be found on http://stephellis.weebly.com/

Trembling With Fear 07/22/2018

Last Saturday I attended my first EdgeLit convention in Derby, (mainly because I was finally able to afford it). This, for those who don’t know, is a major event for writers and readers of speculative fiction and attracts some big name authors; this year their line up included Paul Tremblay, Francis Hardinge, Laura Purcell, Adrian J Walker and Conn Iggulden. I wore my Horror Tree T-shirt and met one or two who recognised the brand, as well as spending a large part of the day with two of our regular contributors – and two of the nicest people you could wish to meet – Martin Fuller and Aly Faye (she also interviews, reviews and does a multitude of good things for Horror Tree). I also caught up with horror stalwart – and the person I credit with getting me writing in this genre – Theresa Derwin, and was made to feel welcome by the group that had gathered at her court. I spent most of the day attending panels featuring Paul Tremblay, Laura Purcell and Adrian J Walker and managed to get Paul to sign my copy of Disappearance at Devil’s Rock so I left happy. Even my husband – a non-writer but very supportive partner – enjoyed the day. I didn’t stay for the Gemmell Awards as exhaustion had pretty much started to set in by that point – perhaps next time. Derby also holds a Christmas version of this event, SledgeLit, and I hope to go to that as well. I’ll have to buy a Horror Tree hoodie though as it’ll be too cold for a t-shirt! If anyone else attends and spots me, come over and say hello. If you’ve not done this sort of thing before, take the plunge. It’s a good way to make an online life ‘real’, give your writing a boost and make you realise you are not as isolated as you think – that some people share your – sometimes bizarre – world view!

Big news also was the announcement of the first StokerCon UK which is to be held in Scarborough April 16-19th, 2020. I have checked the school calendar and it’s at the end of the Easter holidays so getting from Southampton to Scarborough is a distinct possibility. Anyone else up for that? Time to start saving …

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Working hard or hardly working? News on the first anthology soon! We’ve got the names sorted and are slowly moving forward! San Diego Comic-Con is this weekend so I’m a bit backed up covering that remotely for side work.

‘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

Flagellum Di Diaboli

This, indeed, was his place of worship. As Marty pushed open the squeaking double doors that led into the auditorium, the connection between cinema and church seemed even more pertinent than usual. The architecture of the place was breathtaking. Art deco in design, faithfully renovated, the building certainly succeeded in generating an appropriate sense of reverence.

Business had brought him to the area, and with nothing to fill his evening other than the prospect of a solitary drink from his minibar, he had been unable to resist the allure of the lurid posters pasted upon the building’s exterior. A horror retrospective; best of all, a double bill. An unapologetic cinephile, Marty had spent countless hours gazing up in awe at the silver screen. It was the only thing in his otherwise dreary life that came anywhere near to replicating the beauty and wonder of his dreams.

As he’d purchased his ticket, he had asked the decrepit-looking pensioner serving him if the cinema had allocated seating.

“Choose where you want,” replied the old codger. “So far, you’re the only one in there.”

The old man had not been lying. Every row that stretched out before him was empty. Thrilled by the prospect of a private viewing, Marty made his way towards his favourite spot; third aisle from the front, centre seat. Perhaps not to everyone’s liking, but Marty enjoyed the sense of total immersion he experienced being so close to the screen. Slipping off his jacket, he quickly settled down into his chair.

As the lights dimmed, he peered over his shoulder. The cinema, much to his satisfaction, remained deserted. Marty’s attention returned to the brilliant white rectangle in front of him. The room finally slipped into darkness. A flickering black and white film leader appeared. Marty felt a giddy wave of anticipation as the projected numbers counted down before his eyes. He was familiar with the evening’s main film. The support feature, however, was a picture he had never encountered before. Even its title, ‘Flagellum Di Diaboli”, had drawn a blank after a quick search on his phone. The prospect of rediscovering some previously lost cult classic made him tingle with excitement.

The film lacked any opening credits. Instead, Marty was presented with a stark monochrome image. The interior of an ancient church. A single, unbroken shot as the camera gazed silently at an empty altar. Behind it, magnificent stained-glass windows stretched up to the building’s ceiling. Centre frame, dominating the entire scene, hung a haunting representation of Christ upon the cross. Marty swallowed. It certainly was an incredibly powerful sight. As the seconds ticked by, movement began on the left-hand side of the picture. A figure. A girl in a nightdress, shambling slowly into view. He couldn’t discern if her jerking shuffle was the result of good acting or the subtle manipulation of projection speed. Either way, it had a most disorientating effect.

Marty looked away from the screen. He suddenly felt compelled to turn around and sneak another look behind him. The desire was overwhelming. Slowly, he twisted his neck and took a quick glance.

A solitary figure sat in the middle of the back row.

Marty spun round and sank back down into his chair. Back upon the screen, the young lady lazily inched closer towards the static camera. Marty had been witness to all manner of weird and wonderful celluloid portraits in his time, but something about the girl unsettled him. The film’s soundtrack caught his attention. There was no music as such, just a barely imperceptible drone. It took a few seconds before he realised that the sound was steadily increasing in volume.

It was then he noticed the knife in the young girl’s hand.

Marty shuddered as he felt an unexpected lurch in his stomach. Why this new development within the movie’s narrative should elicit such a response remained unclear. Baffled, he quickly turned, eager to try and ascertain what the rest of the audience thought of the strange visuals being presented.

He let out a gasp of air.

The figure had moved. It now sat just a few rows behind him. Marty blinked as he attempted to make out the person’s face. It was a man, that much was certain, but the details of his features were obscured by the darkness. All he could tell was that it didn’t appear to be the old gentleman who had sold him his ticket. Flushed with embarrassment by the irrationality of his own actions, Marty shifted his focus back to the film. The girl was even nearer now, her blade reflecting brief snatches of light as it gradually shifted in her hand. The soundtrack was rapidly getting louder. A cacophony of noise; discordant and disturbing. Marty could identify tiny threads within the whirlwind of sound. The buzz of insects, the braying of cattle. The anguished wail of an infant.

When a pale, drawn face appeared at his right shoulder, he thought his heart would stop.

“What do you think of the film?” whispered the man.

Despite his shock at the stranger’s intrusion, Marty could not seem to quieten his inner critic.

“Pretentious art house nonsense. Rubbish.”

The man nodded his head.

“Why?” continued Marty. “What do you make of it? “

“It is difficult to remain impartial,” replied the stranger. He leant in closer. Marty felt his pulse quicken.

“Especially when one is the director of the piece.”

The stranger placed a heavy hand upon his shoulder. Marty heard a whimpering. It took a moment for him to realise that he was the one making the noise. He looked back up at the scene that was unfolding before him.

The wretched girl continued to crawl impossibly nearer. Marty watched with horror as the figure on the crucifix also began to move. As the cross that bore him slowly began to rotate upside down, the Christ figure stretched its mouth wide in silent protest.

Marty’s shrill scream seemed to echo in perfect synchronization.

 

Steven Holding

Steven Holding lives with his family in Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom. His work has been short-listed in several contests and his story, ‘Until The End Of The World’, was selected as the winning entry in the Writing Magazine 2016 annual short story competition. One of his monologues was chosen to be performed at Northampton’s Royal Theatre, while his adaptation of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was produced at Northampton’s Derngate Theatre in 2017. Other publishing credits include appearances in Ad Hoc Fiction’s weekly flash fiction ebook.

www.stevenholding.co.uk

Creature

When the creature stirs, all of us go silent.  Burdened by darkness, trapped by the caves of our own choices, we have become the dying breath of a drowning sailor.

 

But when the creature stirs, we silently await our orders.

 

Prisoners to a system that doesn’t understand us, we unite in the shadows to fulfill our hearts. They beat with the same blood as the creature’s, but the creature reigns supreme.

We are not in control, nor were we ever.  Our impulses cannot be chemically undone.

When the creature stirs, we feel a world that haunts the edges of desire.

 

 

W. T. Paterson

W. T. Paterson is a New England writer. A graduate of Second City Chicago and a 5 year road warrior touring across the country, he is glad to be back in Stephen King country. Author of the three novels Dark Satellites, Wotna, and the King of Cowards, he currently produces his YouTube Channel “How Would I End It?” pitching ways to tie up popular movie and TV franchises.
Send him a tweet @WTPaterson

The Healer

I jolted awake one warm Summer night, sweat pouring from my brow. My mother took one look at me and knew a phone call needed to be made. The fever began draining me of life as a man draped in wrinkles and gold silk appeared at the foot of my bed. Raising his sleeve he etched another mark into his arm, dropping blood and bits of flesh into a wooden bowl. Mom mixed it with warm chicken broth and brought it to my lips.

“You must drink it all if you want to live forever with us in the collective.”

 

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.

Taphophobia

Leonard Carson, 23, 2015. An accidental case. Got too drunk on a spring break trip to southern Spain. Carson stumbled into a pothole and was paved over. Both arms were found protruding from the ground in the morning.

  1. Ontario. Latori Bates, 22. Left foot found sticking through the end of the coffin. Latori had kicked through, couldn’t pull her ankle back out. Her shroud was torn, her free leg drawn under her chin, one arm under her head – cradled herself like a sleeping baby. Maybe she rocked back and forth in the dark. Anything to try and fall asleep.

Katherine Roberts

A graduating student from Montana State University earning a BA in English and a long-time horror fan. In high school I decided to try contributing to my favorite genre and have loved writing ever since. I am currently in charge of blog posts and am the head website editor for a local gift company.

A Tap At The Window

Tap.
David woke with a start.
The middle of the night. It was probably his sister Jen getting home.
The last month before she went off the college meant their parents let her do whatever she wanted.
Closing his eyes, all he wanted was to drift back to sleep.
A tap at the window.
David opened his eyes.
Another one, louder this time.
She must have locked herself out.
Tap.
Serves her right.
Tap.
He got out of bed and drew back the curtains to look out the window.
Yellow eyes glowed in the darkness stared back at him.
Tap.

Stuart Conover

Your friendly neighborhood Horror Tree editor is swinging in with another drabble! Please be sure to comment below with any of the works that you like and share this post on any social media site which catches your fancy!

Trembling With Fear 07/15/2018

Important things first. Belated Happy Birthday to Richard J. Meldrum, one of our more prolific submitters. Look out for his stories in August and September. Also, lovely to see @SophieKearing celebrating the publication of her story, Servitude, in TWF on twitter and the responses from people to this. First publication is always a huge step for anyone, I know it was for me, and it’s great to see writers cheering each other on.

There are many other firsts to come as well following on from publication and something I have still not got used to is the online interview. An accepted story will often go hand-in-hand with a request to answer questions ready for promotional purposes. I’ve done a few, not loads, but they always make me cringe inside (possibly a British thing). I don’t know about anyone else but this is often the time I feel like a fraud. Other interviewees declare how they knew they would be a writer from the age of five, loved horror in all its forms and proceed to quote classics, use long, ‘intelligent’ phrases … and then there’s me. I’ve always loved reading but never considered writing until a few years back, never crossed my radar as a career, the onus being to get out and work. Horror films – enjoyed Hammer Horror in 70s, saw all those 80s horror films, then went off them. Read Stephen King and Poe but on the whole did not delve deeply into the genre until more recent times when my writing took me that way, although the books I did read always had a dark undercurrent; never was a Mills & Boon fan. What has always affected me more is the dark nature of music and the atmosphere of places, whether twilit fields or old ruins. So, do I try and be part of the club or do I be myself? Well, I’ve opted for the latter, better to be true to yourself than say what you think people want you to say. I might not sound as ‘learned’ as others but at least it’s me.

Talking of music, I was about 13yrs old when punk (and later, new wave) hit Britain and I was a big fan of Siouxsie and the Banshees (her music was always dark – Juju was a classic album), The Stranglers, Magazine, Joy Division. These days I listen to a lot of the darker side of metal and I often share it with people on twitter, just because I love it. The emotions in the music and the story in the videos can often be as powerful as any book or film, two favourite videos being Behemoth – O Father O Satan O Son, which has a hypnotic quality to it and Rotting Christ’s 666, nor should you forget Marilyn Manson’s version of Sweet Dreams. So if you can’t find inspiration in book or film, turn to music’s darker side. It’s a wonderful world out there. (And just to clarify, I am not a devil worshipper!)

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

At the time I wrote this there were a few days left on extended contracts for our anthology from last year. At the time you’re reading this we’ve closed up shop and have a solid idea of whose work will be included! This means that if all goes well, I’ll be ordering a proof copy for both Steph and myself by the end of this coming week and we might actually get this thing out and into the world soon!

I’m not going to hint at a release date quite yet as we need to make sure everything looks good first but hopefully, at long last, this is happening! (I promise you that this years release won’t take nearly this long to release and the year after Steph and I are already discussing on how to mix things up even further!)

‘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

Visitors

A line of cards with prints of flowers and comforting messages stand uniformly along the mantelpiece above a warm, crackling open fire. Orange flames dance between charred, splintered logs sending spirals of incandescent sprites twisting up the chimney flue.

I sit on the sofa, eyes wandering between the flickering images on the TV screen and my dad, sat snug in the recess of his favourite chair. He stares blankly across the room barely registering an acknowledgement to what is happening.

It’s been six months since the accident and I think dad still hasn’t come to terms with the unfortunate situation. Unsurprisingly, the whole thing has hit him badly.

Mum, sitting beside me on the sofa, places a hand on the back of my head and gently strokes and toys with my loose, blonde curls. She hasn’t done this since I was a little girl and the whole thing brings back a flood of memories of happier times. Baking cakes, going on picnics, dressing up and inventing fun games on soaking wet Sunday afternoons.

The TV show draws to a close as the credits role steadily up the screen. A musical crescendo finishes everything off. It’s time to go.

Mum stands up, straightens her skirt and offers me a comforting smile as she walks over to the television. A soft, white light appears. The brighter it gets the more transparent mum becomes until she disappears completely.

I get up from the sofa and cross the room towards dad’s chair. He’s still staring with sunken, empty eyes towards the TV. I bend down and kiss him gently on the cheek. A translucent tear builds in the corner of one eye then spills over the aged, wrinkled creases around his eye and rolls down his cheek. I’m touched by his sadness. With an emotional lump in my throat and a heavy heart I turn to leave the front room.

As I approach the door I hear a rasping, hushed voice. Dad is calling my name, Jane.

He calls again, this time he’s closer. Jane.

I turn to see my dad standing before me, his eyes are looking pleasingly brighter.

“Wait for me,” he says, holding out a fragile hand.

I gently take his hand in mine and together we turn and walk towards the living room door.

A the warm, inviting, bright light appears and hand in hand we continue on our way.

Dad has made his peace and now, despite the accident that stole the lives of mum and I, we’ll all be together once more.

Gary Hazlewood

With two novels to his name and when not watching soccer Gary enjoys writing short horror tales. He lives a hectic family life outside of a small town in the north of England.

Another Nail In Your Coffin

Another nail in your coffin, every lie you ever told me. Each time you put me down when you made me feel as if I was not good enough. You never will see who I have become.
Red hot love, now just bitter ashes. Used to burn bright enough to light up even the darkest of nights. Now your screams will rip open the skies as I slam the lid shut. Each nail is a dream I had, now my dream is your death.

Your death is my freedom, I shall walk away knowing you will suffer as I did.

Kim Plasket

Kim Plasket is a Jersey girl at heart relocated to sunny Florida. She enjoys writing mainly horror and paranormal stories and lives with her husband and 2 kids. When she is not slaving away at her day job, she can be found drinking coffee with fellow author Valerie Willis and planning the demise of some poor character. Currently she has several short stories featured in anthologies such as ‘Demonic Wildlife’ and ‘The Hunted’, also has a story in an Anthology Titled Fireflies and Fairy dust she also has had a story featured in Shades of Santa  with more to come.

Fatberg

Down in the sewers, fat and wet wipes collect, combine, grow grotesquely in the darkness, merging with layer upon layer of filth. And, so fatbergs are formed.
Workers, masked and suited, with high pressure hoses, grudgingly descend into the malodorous darkness and set to work breaking it up.
Muttered curses and the whoosh! of water muffle sounds in the shadows, soft whispers like running water.
Oblivious, the men prove easy prey for the viscous darkness that flows from shadowed pipes, sometimes liquid, sometimes plastic, reaching out with crude and temporary limbs.
The men vanish and the fatberg continues to grow.

DJ Tyrer

DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines around the world, such as Chilling Horror Short Stories (Flame Tree), All The Petty Myths (18th Wall), Steampunk Cthulhu (Chaosium), What Dwells Below (Sirens Call), The Mad Visions of al-Hazred (Alban Lake), and EOM: Equal Opportunity Madness (Otter Libris), and issues of Sirens Call, Hinnom Magazine, Ravenwood Quarterly, and Weirdbook, and in addition, has a novella available in paperback and on the Kindle, The Yellow House (Dunhams Manor).

DJ Tyrer’s website is at http://djtyrer.blogspot.co.uk/

The Atlantean Publishing website is at http://atlanteanpublishing.blogspot.co.uk/

Rattlesnake Stew

“Where’s my supper, woman?”
“You’re late, deadbeat.”
“Watch your lip.”
“Or what?”
“Or I’ll make it fatter.”
“Dinner’s cold now.”
“It’s food, ain’t it?”
“Stew.”
“Aw heck!”
“All I could scrape up.”
“What’s in it?”
“Broth and desert sage. And reptile.”
“You couldn’t find a bird?”
“Slim pickins along that road.”
“Slim pickins when I married you.”
“You lose tonight?”
“Who says I wagered?”
“That fucking casino!”
“It’s my money!”
“Never for long.”
“Watch that lip!”
“You can’t make me any uglier.”
“I can make you hurt.”
“Dish up your own stew.”
“What the—Something’s moving in this pot.”
CHT-CHT-CHT-CHT-CHT-TT-TT-TT-TT-TT-TT-TT-TT-TT-TT-TT-T-T-T!

Kevin M. Folliard

Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose published fiction includes scary stories collections Christmas Terror Tales and Valentine Terror Tales, and adventure novels such as Matt Palmer and the Komodo Uprising. His work has also been collected by Double Feature Magazine, Flame Tree Publishing, Parsec Ink, and more.

LINKS:

Author Website: http://www.kevinfolliard.com/

Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Folliard/e/B0097S7T0A/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Christmas Terror Tales on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristmasTerrorTales/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kmfollia/

 

Please share using any of the links below and scroll down a bit further to leave a comment as to which of these works you enjoyed and why!

Trembling With Fear 07/08/2018

Time for a celebration at last! Last week saw a break in my rejection streak with an acceptance into the final TOC for the Fiends in the Furrows anthology to be published by Nosetouch Press in September. I will also add that I received a rejection for a story the day before. As you can see, my writer’s life is probably pretty much the same as those of you who read this – although I get a very strong feeling that many of you are doing much better than me!

When thinking about the Fiends story, it made me reflect on that old saying ‘write what you know’. Something which I’ve often thought that if I followed would actually stop me from writing. However, in my recent dive into the world of folk horror I’ve realised that I am to a certain extent already doing this. In this recent story, my main character was based on a barman who used to work in my parents’ country pub (they managed it, didn’t own it). He didn’t kill anybody but he did maintain the hedges surrounding the carparks and two fields belonging to the pub. He used the old-fashioned method of hedge laying where branches were spliced and woven together, keeping the hedge healthy and creating a sturdy boundary to the land. I can still picture him now, slaving away over the wood, one of those little snapshots of memory that stays with you. So yes, I have a hedge layer in my story … but obviously with a twist. If ever you’re stuck for an idea, why not go back and see what memory you can turn to the dark side?

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

We’re brainstorming some ideas on making the drabble experience even better, possibly new details soon! (Unsure at this time if it is something that would happen soon or early next year.)

‘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

Servitude

Single people chafe at the existence of married couples that stay together despite the uncovering of one spouse’s unsavory deeds. The typical offenses are lying, gambling, and cheating. Well, I’ll tell you right now that there are worse things a spouse can do. I’ll also tell you that those things can actually solidify the nuptial bond.

I’m in the kitchen chopping, tenderizing, and marinating again. Lord knows I hate that I spend so much of my time in here. But it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

I do all the cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping. But Justin gets up at 5:30 in the morning, suffers through a hellish commute, and spends his days being inundated with phone calls, e-mails, and needy clients. Modern singletons frown upon my role in our traditional arrangement. But that’s because they don’t know how good it is to sleep in every day and waste zero closet space on business professional attire. They can’t fathom how wonderful it is to have the mortgage and bills be somebody else’s responsibility.

I place the meat in extra-large freezer bags. I put one of the bags in the bottom shelf of the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer downstairs. I return to the kitchen and tidy everything up. I get into the tub. A long bubble bath at 4:45 in the afternoon on a Wednesday is yet another perk that will never be enjoyed by the working singleton.

When I hear the front door creak open and the clunk of Justin’s keys on the console table, I feel a pulse of excitement in my deepest parts. Here’s another fact that the tragically unattached overlook: A lot of married couples remain fervently attracted to each other. The passion that my husband and I share hasn’t waned; in fact, each passing year has brought us an amplified interest in the nuances of the other’s evolving tastes. I hurriedly dress and join him in the kitchen, where he’s pouring two glasses of red wine (Perk #3,609: I always have a drinking buddy).

I give him a kiss on the mouth. “So, how was your day?”

“Pretty good. I finally closed the Wincek deal.”

“That’s awesome, babe,” I say, testing the waters by pulling a box of pasta from the pantry and some tomatoes and homemade broth from the refrigerator. “You must be starving.”

In no time his body is pressed against the back of mine. His parted lips warm my neck.

“I’m ravenous,” he whispers. “You know what I’m hungry for.”

“Maybe we should wait a few more days? Try to stretch out the time in between?”

His body tenses immediately. “Why would we stretch out the time?”

“We can’t have meat every night,” I admonish. “I’d have to go out two nights a month!”

“So go out two nights a month.”

I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised. After all, I’m the one who chose to share with Justin the spoils of my nocturnal activities. I had done so hoping that the profound intimacy we shared would make it possible for him to overlook my crimes. I had no clue that my biannual harvests would not only be tolerated, but encouraged to the point that I’d soon be out every ninety days. The thought of going out twice in one month simultaneously thrills and terrifies me.

“You don’t give a shit if I get caught,” I say. “Just as long as you get to have plenty of women.”

“I would never let you do it if I thought you’d get caught, Kev. You have an I.Q. of 166, for chrissakes. You’re literally the smartest person I know. Trust me, you won’t get caught.” His arms tighten around my waist. “And meat is the only thing I would ever want from a woman.”

A tear meanders its crooked path down my face. “I wish that were true.”

Justin turns me around and stops the flow of my words with a probing kiss. When he’s done, he takes my face in his hands and says, “It is true. As long as I can eat them, I don’t… desire them. You are my one true love, Kevin. I’ve never once cheated on you…”

The rest of his sentence hangs in the air with tacit magnitude: and I never will, as long as you keep killing, chopping, tenderizing, and marinating.

My throat is so constricted with emotion that I can barely swallow. This pain that wracks me—this knowledge that if I stop my murderous, culinary servitude, my husband might venture into a titty bar or a brothel or the bed of his wanton secretary—is something that I’ve signed up for. You see, I could tell that Justin was bisexual early on in our relationship. But I was so absolutely taken with him that walking away wasn’t an option. The second happiest day of my entire life was the day he proposed to me. The happiest day was the one on which I prepared my victim from the previous night just as I would a rack of lamb and Justin told me that he could taste my love for him in every bite.

Well, I won’t start letting him down now. I won’t let the miserable singletons reclaim me as one of their own. I am a married man, and I take my vows to love and obey my husband very seriously. If going out twice a month is what I need to do to ensure the longevity of my marriage, then that is exactly what I’ll do. I will obey. For better or for worse. Till death do us part.         

Sophie Kearing

I’m a night owl who writes dark fiction inspired by the works of Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Brundage, Stephen King, Lionel Shriver, and Han Kang.

Pareidolia

Fear was all encompassing. Her identity had now become irrelevant. The only thing that truly mattered; that she was everywhere. On the surface of the soup bubbling on the hob. In the dripping condensation. Even within the pattern of the paisley wallpaper. Wherever Isaac turned, her grinning face was there.
The dread it instilled in him was absolute.
He had to get out.
Kicking open the door, Isaac bolted into the sanctuary of the garden. For a fleeting moment, he felt his terror subside.
Until he raised his head and gazed at the cloudscape in the sky up above him.

Steven Holding

Steven Holding lives with his family in Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom. His work has been short listed in several contests and his story “UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD” was selected as the winning entry in the WRITING MAGAZINE 2016 annual short story competition. One of his monologues was chosen to be performed at Northampton’s Royal Theatre, while his adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland” was produced at Northampton’s Derngate Theatre in 2017.

You can visit his website at www.stevenholding.co.uk

The Darkness

The darkness speaks to me.
It whispers those things best left unsaid, of the secrets hidden in shadow, of the lies we tell ourselves while basking in the warm sunlight, of the lives we lead quietly, where no one can see.
It knows the unknowable, the myth from the fact, the things that lurk just beyond the range of sight, ever waiting for their window of opportunity.
It hears the movement of the air, the harbinger of change, the motion of wings, the echo of a rose petal falling unseen onto a wet paved road.
The darkness speaks to me.

G.A. Miller

G.A. Miller is a new voice in the chorus of horror authors, drawing his ideas from every day, commonplace events that take unforeseen turns down dark corridors, often with horrific consequences.

His published tales include:

“Bequeath” – Hinnom Magazine 001, Gehenna & Hinnom publishers.
“Shower Time” – The Edge: Infinite Darkness, Patrick Reuman publisher.
“Ear Wax” – Year’s Best Body Horror Anthology 2017 – Gehenna & Hinnom publishers.
“Nightmare” – Horror Bites Magazine, November 2017 Issue
“Just A Little Bloob” – Horror Tree Website, November 5th, 2017, Trembling With Fear column
“Rough Draft” – Evil Podcast Website, November 20th, 2017, November episode
G.A. lives where Lovecraft lived, due south of where King lives. Perhaps there’s something in the water in New England? One wonders…
http://gamiller.info/ and http://gamillerdotblog.wordpress.com/.

Writer’s block

I am written in the book of life. Literally. My hand is aching, my fingers bleeding, but I cannot stop writing, it will kill me. It all started the day I strolled around the flea market looking for some inspiration to solve a long writer’s block. Then I found that beautiful notebook with its alluring quote on the front: When you start to write in me, you cannot stop writing. It was true. My writer´s block is gone and I cannot stop writing, every time I try I feel my heartbeat slowing down and it feels like I am dying.

Mathias Jansson

Art critic, cultural journalist

Homepage: http://mathiasjansson72.blogspot.se

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