Trembling With Fear 06/16/2019

Well, the twitchiness of last week has lessened. I’m still waiting on news of various submissions but I have had two acceptances which I think has helped – and yes I’ve had a rejection as well so pretty much a normal week for a writer.

On the reading front, I have been looking at teen and YA fiction for my library and trying to find horror with leading male characters. There has been such a surge in recent years of stories containing strong female voices that it has, as far as I’ve been able to tell, swung the pendulum to far that way and when a male student asks for a book, it is hard to find one to suit. Monster Librarian (https://monsterlibrarian.com/) is currently compiling a list for me and Darren Shan responded to a tweet with some suggestions but top tip to anyone out there writing YA horror – there is a gap for horror stories featuring male lead characters.

Now over to Trembling with Fear which this week starts with The Driver by Thomas Vaughn and focusses on the growing panic and increasing paranoia of a driver who suspects he has killed someone, albeit accidentally, with his car. This story cleverly picks up on those moments, which we have all experienced, when you are driving so automatically, that you don’t always remember the actions you have taken, the ‘gaps in the memory’ mentioned by Vaughn. Those gaps happen in other parts of your life as well, eg the walk home. You know you’ve done it but can’t remember doing it – and that realisation can be scary.

Evil? by S. Gepp reminds us that most creatures that attack humans are only doing what comes naturally and we are part of the food chain. What is different here is that one of those in danger is still sympathetic to the sharks around which this story centres.

Go Back by Gary Hazlewood takes us to the liminal space between life and death. Forces on one side push against the force on the other and the person on the operating table is caught in the middle. Who will win in this battle of life and death?

Solitude by Patrick Wynn is good little example of being careful what you wish for – it might not turn out as you expect.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

What a crazy week! While I was *FINALLY* getting ahead and almost have the TWF anthologies up for pre-order, I had a bit of a setback.

It is time to replace our car, about two years before we had planned for it in the budget.

So…

Yes. That happened. Please send hugs. 😉

Also, send Drabble, Unholy Trinities, and Serials! We’re getting a bit caught up on those outside of those being scheduled further out from multiple submissions from our more proactive contributors 🙂 

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

The Driver

            The driver noticed the tuft of human hair and broken headlight at the same time. He had just pulled into the carwash. The hair was wedged in the plastic covering over the bulb. Instinctively he looked around to see if anyone else was watching. Fortunately it was midnight, so the place was deserted.

            He knelt and studied the damage, removing the hair with his fingers. It was long and honey colored. There was no doubt it was much too long to belong to anything else but human. The panic began to rise in his chest. How had it gotten there? He didn’t remember an accident. Reaching inside the covering he checked to see if the bulb was still intact and felt something loose. He retracted his hand and found that it held a human tooth. He stood and examined it in the light. It was very small—clearly that of a child’s. Now the panic constricted his throat as he tried to remember the drive to the carwash. There was simply no way he could have hit a child. What would a child be doing in the street this late at night? He tried to account for every moment of the trip, but there were gaps where his mind had wandered. It is almost impossible to remain aware of what you are doing every second of every day. 

            Retrieving a flashlight from his car he lay on his back and shined it along the undercarriage. He noticed at least three different places where bloody pieces of skin were wrapped around the control springs and brake housing. He turned off the light and contemplated the implications of hitting a child. There would be guilt and reproach. His life would be ruined.

            In a sudden flash of hope it occurred to him that he might be washing the wrong car. He had parked in one of the stalls then walked to the coin machine. It was a common model and color so he sometimes approached other people’s cars in parking lots before realizing his error. Exiting the stall he stood back and looked at all of the openings. They were all empty except his. That was when he heard the sirens. He stood like an alerted deer, tracking their progress across the city. He tried to remember his route. Had he come in from the north or the east? They were both equally plausible. He gauged the sirens to be coming from the northeast, but he couldn’t be sure. The fog was playing tricks with sound.

            With his mind racing the driver hurried into the stall and put coins in the slot, his hands trembling. The reassuring spray initiated and he returned to the front of his car. That was when he noticed the tooth was missing. Where the hell had it gone? He was sure he had put it on the hood—or had he? He looked around at the pavement to see if it had fallen. There was nothing. Now the fear migrated to his limbs and he began frantically washing his car, taking special care to blast the human remains off the undercarriage and into the drain.

            When this was done he replaced the hose and studied the vehicle. He was somewhat comforted by the fact that it looked good as new. He began to calm down. Once he fixed the headlight it would be like the whole thing never happened. There was the problem of the tooth, but it had probably slipped to the pavement. Certainly no one would pay attention to such a small thing. He was thankful that the sirens had stopped.

Then he saw the bloody drag marks. Why hadn’t he noticed them before? Walking back into the parking lot he traced their progress from the road to his stall. There was something lying on the ground. He picked it up. It was a piece of bloody fabric. The color and design reminded him of something a child would wear. The panic returned.

How could he hit and drag a child without realizing it? Wouldn’t he remember doing such a terrible thing? But how can you trust your memories? We all die moment by moment only to be reborn into a new unreality. How can you be sure of anything when you are nothing but a transient observer, doomed to grapple with an alien world that is constantly changing? How can you trust a phantom self that died the moment it was born? The person who drove to the carwash was dead and now he was left to sort through this stranger’s crimes from inconclusive fragments of memory.

Looking at the bloody fabric the driver visualized the police investigating the accident scene, then noticing the drag marks. Soon they would follow them to the carwash. Driven by guilt and fear he stumbled back to his car, tossing the fabric onto the passenger seat as he got in and started the engine. Pulling onto the street he drove away from the carwash in the opposite direction from his home. He hoped he had been thorough when he washed the car, though a part of him wanted to go back and confess. As he contemplated that option, the ramifications were simply too awful to imagine. The best thing to do was look for a place to get rid of the bloody fabric. Perhaps he would drive by a dumpster. He reached over to make sure it was close at hand, but found that it was gone. Instead his hand closed on something else. He held it under the pulsing glow of the passing streetlights. It was the tooth. The driver pressed on the accelerator, fleeing toward a nightmare that rushed to greet him like an amorous lover—the two of them entwined in a never-ending cycle of death and rebirth.  

Thomas Vaughn

Thomas Vaughn is a speculative fiction writer whose work encompasses literary horror, science fiction and dark magical realism. He is a byproduct of the debris field of rural Madison County Arkansas, a place he calls the archive of pain. When he is not writing fiction he is a college professor whose research focuses on apocalyptic rhetoric and doomsday cults.

 

Brokentransmitter.com.

Evil?

The high dorsal fin sank beneath the waves.

“Come on!” screamed Joelle frantically.

Darren swam as hard as he could, striking out for the boat.

Joelle scanned the water, but could see nothing. “Come on!” she urged. They both knew it was still out there.

He finally reached the edge of the boat and hauled his chest up. “I hate sharks,” he growled wearily. “They’re evil.”

“They’re animals. It’s just hungry,” Joelle said, grabbing his arms to heft him out of the ocean.

“Easy for you to say,” Darren replied as the blood from his torso stained the water red…

 

S.Gepp

S.Gepp is an Australian who has been writing for a number of years in the horror, fantasy, sci-fi and humour genres. Tertiary educated, former acrobat and professional wrestler, a father of two and well past 40 years old, he hopes to be a real writer when he grows up.

Go Back!

The first face she saw was that of the old lady speaking silent words. As her vision cleared more faces came into focus, they too were speaking.

“Don’t go,” begged a middle-aged man.

The woman glanced nervously around. A surgeon bending over an operating table, a nurse stood beside a life-support machine awaiting the surgeon’s decision; her hand poised over a red switch.

The surgeon stared calculatingly at his unconscious patient.

“Please help us, you have to return,” the man requested.

An ethereal force was drawing the woman away. She turned, “Why?”

He murdered us all! You must go back…”

 

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.

Solitude

All his life Henry just wanted to be left alone, people just seemed to get under his skin. In elementary school Henry had no friends and he didn’t want any. He always ate lunch alone, spent time at recess looking for bugs, frogs or other little creatures he felt comfortable with. Middle school, high school and college were much the same he only interacted with people when necessary. But after all this time Henry sat watching a bug crawl across the grass he finally realized being alone was an awful existence, it almost made him sorry he released that virus.

Patrick Wynn

Patrick J Wynn is an author of short stories that contain shades of horror, humor and are just a touch weird. You can follow him on his Facebook page and look for his short story collections on Amazon.

Unholy Trinity – Let’s Trip

Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.

MIZARU – BIRTH.

What happened to the mute girl was unspeakable.

A brother discovered her, sprawled upon the monastery steps.

Sanctuary and time allowed broken bones to heal; her slowly expanding belly speaking volumes regarding what had been endured.

When the time came, she mimed silent screams as she pushed the bastard out into this world.

One. Another. Then one more.

Leaving her to gaze upon the brood, the monks huddled, unsure of such portents.

Until the infants wailing ceased. Concerned, they returned.

To watch the babes suckle upon the bloody trickle that ran from the sockets where their mother had no eyes.

 

KIKAZARU – LIFE.

Of the three children, there was no doubting who was leader. First to draw breath, guiding his siblings, choosing what path they walked.

In his eyes, they were alike, both in skin and what lay beneath, and inside this unity lay their strength.

One heart, mind and soul.

So, when two happened upon the third, hands trembling, blue faced beauty lying at his feet, the eldest knew the sin had to be shared.

Crying tears of relief, the youngest took to the shadows, hands clasped to head, drowning out the sound.

As the boys each did one of their own.

 

IWAZARU – DEATH.

Those in the middle can see in both directions, he whispered, taking his seat.

Decades had passed since they had broken bread; each brother’s existence an escape from the shade of the others.

He had heard talk of their sins. The eldest, greedy and ruthless, fortune built upon the cruellest exploitations. The youngest, driven by lust, defined by violence.

Studies taught him of the shark; how their foetuses feast upon one another within the womb.

Savouring his first bite of meat, he gave thanks that he finally could have his family for dinner.

Then promised he’d never mention them again.

Steven Holding

Steven Holding lives with his family in Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom. His work had been published in FRIDAY FLASH FICTION, THEATRE CLOUD, AD HOC FICTION and MASSACRE MAGAZINE. Most recently, his story THREE CHORDS AND THE TRUTH received first place in the INKTEARS 2018 flash fiction competition. He is currently in the process of completing a number of new short pieces of fiction and is also working upon a novel. You can visit his website at www.stevenholding.co.uk

Trembling With Fear 06/09/2019

I have developed a twitch just below my eye, it manifested over the past week or so, and I have worked out it is linked to my current submissions status which seems to be set at ‘permanently waiting for an answer’. I have a fair few works out, and a number of those should be feeding back about now but so far the silence is deafening. It’s always that last bit of waiting that seems to stretch out longer than all the months leading up to it and is the hardest bit, for me to cope with. Or perhaps the twitch is the sign of something more sinister …

Part of me figured stress might be the underlying cause, the combination of real life work and writing life becoming a bit much so I allowed myself a little time off and spent last Friday binge-watching Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. It is terrific and I can’t recommend it highly enough (and yes I’ve got the book). Then I rewatched the original The Omen on Sunday. I haven’t seen it for a good thirty odd years – and writing that I now feel old so I’ll shut up.

This week’s stories in Trembling with Fear start with Find the World’s Center with Feelers by Donna J. W. Munro. This is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have read for some time. Her use of language is fantastic, the imagery startlingly apt for the atmosphere generated. Elegant and descriptive, the story feels almost gentle on that quiet night as the main character takes what turns out to be his last walk. This tranquillity is in contrast to the horror of what is to come, the sheer acceptance of it. And then at the end, the reader, is directly addressed, is warned ‘As she flows toward you, here and not here, fascinating and terrible, as her lips press the eternity of love and hate she holds for us all into your little, finite mind, you’ll burn away.’ A powerful sentence which does ‘burn’ itself into your mind. In truth, I could I have picked out many examples of the quality of the writing but I’ll just say go and read it for yourself. Powerful, emotive, and with gorgeous imagery, this may be a horror story, but it is also a poem.

Don’t Open the Door by Les Talma brings back, literally, a serial killer’s past when the dead rise, this is his day of reckoning. The idea of the killer being surrounded by his victims knocking at walls, windows and doors to get in immediately conveys an overwhelming sense of being trapped, of no way out. Simple but effective.

Playground by Patrick Wynn is a perfect description of a normal afternoon. Children are playing, parents are nearby and all is right with the world … until the last sentence which completely flips the reader’s perception as to what is going in. The art of the twist is alive and well.

Rainy Afternoon by Scarlet Berry written with a child’s voice is a recognizable story of sibling arguments, the viciousness bubbling below the surface, the dare … Then it finishes with a sense of underlying evil, the hint of worse to come, an ending which I love. Children behaving like this is a horrible thought, they should be sweet and innocent, not murderous.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Still slammed at the day job. That being said, Steph and I (MOSTLY STEPH!) were able to finish up the print copies of the next Trembling With Fear anthologies! I’ve got proof copies on order, and while everything looks good online I’m just waiting for them to come in at this point before we can unleash them upon the world! 

*Insert evil laugh here.*

With my time being extremely limited, getting these out into the wild will clear up some of it so I can hopefully keep everything on the site flowing better (I’ve been sitting on a book review for nearly two weeks just from a lack of time of being able to schedule it!) 

On a side note, I also join Steph above in recommending ‘Good Omens.’ I was fortunate to get an advanced copy (my first early review from Amazon Studios!) to review and as I’m on my fifth copy of the book can attest that it lives up to the high quality of the novel. 

As always, we’re looking for more Unholy Trinities, serials, and anything else you’ve been writing as of late. I hope you all have a great weekend! 

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Find the World’s Center With Feelers

            It was evening. Just before the sky turns that deep grey of the dying day where the yellow moon shines pale and the stars begin to peek through the gathering of night’s darkness. I walked at this time every day. Nerves. A sour stomach and shaking fingers overcame the peace of ending every day, so my feet found the street. As I walked through my neighborhood, my heart lurching and nerves firing, my eyes took in every light, every movement, every threat.  Others walked from pool of light reflecting on the wet pavement, cast from the sheer lamp above to pool of light, steps slacking and shuffling in the cottony night’s humidity. They smiled with a sweetness, a calm that belied a lack of alarm. A lack of knowing.

            They didn’t worry like me.

            They didn’t shake in the corner of their room after every contact with another person.

            They didn’t lay awake all night, eyes wide with terror thinking about the next day.

            Why?

            Why didn’t they see how the world peeled back at every edge? Every corner.

            And what was underneath, breathed poison through the cracks and sipped in our scents. Eating the blind fools stumbling from trap to trap. Things with rows of teeth. Things with too many eyes. Things that moved in insectile jitters, cretinous shells scraping. How could the others not hear it?

            My walking made the monsters within lay down, rest in the shade of forest. Watching but not stalking.

            I turned and went into the park, hoping the stew of green might soothe my pain. The velvet of the breeze settled on my face and for a moment, I felt relief wash into my belly. For a moment, I believed I could make another day.

            Every night I made this turn to feel human again.

            Because no others took that turn. I stood beneath the sky, line of dark trees encircling me in the field like the walls of Jericho. Someday they’d fall. Someday everything fails. But for now, the monsters hadn’t found the note to shatter our defenses. Still they marched, taloned feet scraping, claws skittering across the wall looking for holds and cracks. How did the others not know?

            I lay in the center of the field, staring up at the stars.

            The eyes of the beasts stared back. Searching.

            Behind me, shuffling steps, light as a flower’s kiss. My stomach’s calm turned as I did into a swirling, clenching fist.

            There, at the edge of the trees, a lovely woman smiled a Mona Lisa question. Brown hair tumbled with a shimmer of moon on moving water. She stood, though she was never still. Hair fluttering, body rocking side to side like a hooded serpent. Beautiful in a way that shattered my peace. And her eyes.

            They locked on me. Black orbs set in tan skin, shining with tears. Black as the vault of the sky between stars. Spider eyes.

            I moaned then, from some place in me so old and deep, I didn’t recognize it as myself until my chest rattled in time.

            The breeze stopped and shifted then, cool to hot as a summer storm, wet and full of promises. She took a step toward me.

            The movement halted in a way that made little sense. As if her two beautiful legs didn’t move at all, but some other legs I didn’t see shuffled her forward— a hunching gate, hard as a horse’s trot. Like there were six or eight legs carrying her along.

            My moan turned to a scream then. I didn’t want to. Didn’t want to attract her more than I had. Didn’t want my fear to spill out in the gasping, raving cry that filled the meadow and bounced off the trees.

            She stopped for a moment, tilting her head. Her beautiful face took on the mocking expression of care a mother might cast at a fallen child. Mocking because something like her couldn’t care. Something so not human.

            Her steps, now audible with clicks of joints made of something other than skin and bone, resumed and she drew nearer. Such a beautiful false face, smiling beatifically down at me, hands spread and arms out in a gesture of welcome. She looked so human. So perfectly lovely but for the eyes, how she moved, and now I could see, the horns that sprouted from her clavicles. Horn not like something on a deer or rhino, that might have comforted me. These were the horns you see on scarabs. Stylized hands feeling the world. Antennae reaching for information. For me.

            I couldn’t help but scream, all the fear pouring from my mouth, all the horror I’d ever known.

            She kept coming, because why would a scream stop her?

            She settled in the grass in front of me, a flowing movement that folded her legs neatly in a triangle under her, though she floated above the ground.

            Her arms came up around me and enfolded me in their softness, hands gentling me as they fluttered across my cheeks.

            “Quiet, little one,” she said, though her mouth didn’t move. The smile locked her lips into a pleasant fiction. The antennae moved and turned toward me.

            I felt like she could see through me, light falling on every cell, though the light’s warmth didn’t brighten my eyes. I felt it inside. And the minute the gaze of those horns perched on her chest shifted, my stomach calmed. The fear didn’t settle or dissipate. It ceased to be. In that moment, staring in the black of her predator eyes, I was lost.

            “My queen.” Words without thought. Words older than the ring of trees. Maybe older than the stars.

            They’d found a crack and sent in the mother of them all.

            In her black eyes, I knew we’d named her.

            Mother of Demons. Lilith.

            Only now, with her locked on my soul, hands gentling me and rewriting my knowing, I saw that she wasn’t Lilith at all. What she was couldn’t be known completely here. Only pieces of her glory might be seen in this limited light, this limited sight.

            I sighed with my cheek in her hands, ready for destruction.

            “I am yours,” I said to her, lost in the ancient gaze. Lost in the clutch of her beautiful claws.

            “Ah little one, you will be my favorite toy,” she said. Then her lips, frozen things on her masterpiece of a mask found me.

            What you see is only defined by the three dimensions of our eyes. But what you feel expands.

            In that touch, I knew her.

            I knew her and all my fears burned away.

            Burned away because knowing hell is accepting it.

            She ate my innocence, my shelter, in that kiss and opened me to the universe.

            And now, I am to do the same for you.

            Do you feel her approach in your guts? Soon you’ll hear the clicking of her dainty claws coming for you. The others hum from the void, a swan song for their queen. A song that sinks your feet into the earth as she presses through. Coming for you washed in beauty that cuts. In her black eyes shines the heaviness of history that brings you to your knees, screaming. Screams are her feast. As she flows toward you, here and not here, fascinating and terrible, as her lips press the eternity of love and hate she holds for us all into your little, finite mind, you’ll burn away. Those feelers will gather your pieces up and you’ll know.

            She’ll eat us all and rip open the sky.

            I’m not afraid. Soon you won’t be either.

Donna J. W. Munro

Donna J. W. Munro has spent the last nineteen years teaching high school social studies. Her students inspire her every day. An alumni of the Seton Hill Writing Popular Fiction program, she published pieces in Every Day Fiction, Syntax and Salt, Dark Matter Journal, the Haunted Traveler, Flash Fiction Magazine, Astounding Outpost, Door=Jar, Spectators and Spooks Magazine, Nothing’s Sacred Magazine IV and V, Hazard Yet Forward (2012), Enter the Apocalypse (2017), Killing It Softly 2 (2017), Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths II (2018), Terror Politico (2019), and several Thirteen O’Clock Press anthologies. Contact her at https://www.donnajwmunro.com

Don’t Open The Door

There was a knock at the door. 

It was a little girl.

Weird. How’d she get out there?

Wait, dirt on her dress, the deteriorated pallor of her face, the hollow stare…was she fresh from the grave? Or just lost in the woods?

No, he recognized her, he’d just buried her yesterday.

She sensed him behind the door, and started to claw, then pound it down like a maniac. 

He backed away. But now there were knocks at the windows, the walls and the basement door. He had been busy, and now they were all coming back to get him.

Les Talma

Les Talma lives in NY. He’s drawn to quiet places, works in a library, and once did some of his best writing in a Dunkin’ Donuts at 2 am in NJ. Now he looks for similar quiet and productive places.

He also likes: horror movies, amusingly strange TV shows, comic books, fairy tales that are dark and delicious.

He scribbles things in notebooks, sometimes they end up as finished works.

He’s working on finishing a lot of things right now.

https://lestalma.wordpress.com/

Playground

Sitting on the bench Lowell watched as the kids ran, screamed and laughed their way around the playground. Seeing the kids run and jump chasing each other brought back memories of his youth and it always brought a smile to his face. The boys pushed and shoved taking turns fighting for who would be first down the slide. Girls gathered around the swings giggling and laughing as they took polite turns on who was pushing and who was swinging. Lowell loved the playground and with the moms’ attention on their phones, it was the perfect place to pick out dinner.

Patrick Wynn

Patrick J Wynn is an author of short stories that contain shades of horror, humor and are just a touch weird. You can follow him on his Facebook page and look for his short story collections on Amazon.

Rainy Afternoon

            It was a rainy afternoon.  I was bored.  I sat on the couch, watching my sister sew.

 

            “That blouse is uglier than you,” I said.

 

            “If you don’t stop teasing me, I’ll stick this pin in your forehead!” yelled my sister.

 

            “Go ahead and try!” I taunted.  “You’d probably miss!”

 

            She lunged at me with the pin, aiming for my forehead and stuck it in.

 

            At first, we were astonished that she did it.  Then she started laughing.  “Go look in the mirror!  You look so funny!”

 

            I did and I laughed too.  “Now let’s try it with the scissors!”

Scarlet Berry

Scarlet Berry is a Yooper. She’s been married forty years to the same man and they raised four children together. She is a mystery wrapped up in a conundrum, and loves to laugh; both evilly and happily.

Unholy Trinity: Call The Exterminator

Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.

One Fearless Night

The camping-trip honeymoon had been Agnes’ idea, to help Kyle confront his unmanly phobia of insects. First, her smiling, nude form had helped ease his terror of chirping crickets. Second, the brief shock of a tick-sighting had proved to be a harmless skin mole. Third, after making love to the pitter-patter of raindrops on their tent, he had drifted blissfully to sleep beneath loving caresses employing insect repellent lotion.

When Kyle awoke the next morning, he rolled over to kiss Agnes, only to discover her eyes and tongue bulging and blood-swollen ticks blanketing every inch of her clammy, white skin.

Dreams of Revenge

Months after his wife’s grisly death in the woods, Kyle still suffered from horrific nightmares.  The theme was always the same: ubiquitous, invasive ticks. Every time he pulled off his socks or lifted his chin to shave: ticks.  Every time he brushed his teeth or sat on the toilet: more ticks.  He typically awoke to the pounding of his heart and an echoing whisper: “Revenge! Revenge!”

Hypnotherapy and anti-anxiety medications helped only slightly. Ultimately, it was the haunting whisper, which finally began to give him peace. “Revenge!” he agreed, squashing a bug. “Revenge,” he agreed, setting fire to the forest.

A Job with No Boss

Employing ex-cons was risky, but subsidized.

The exterminator twisted open the jar on his desk, extracted a wiggling cockroach, and held it near the job applicant’s face. “Do insects bother you?” he tested.

Kyle squished the pest in his fist and then wiped the jelly on his pants. “Ticks killed my wife,” he growled. “I hate insects.”

Marty smiled uncomfortably. Seeking to recover high status, he pointed out that ticks, like spiders, are “arachnids”, not insects.

Picking up the glass jar, Kyle smashed it into Marty’s face and then ground the shards into the exterminator’s arteries.

“Die, insect,” he said.    

Shawn Klimek

Shawn M. Klimek’s microfiction can be found in anthologies and online by the score, including Black Hare Press’ “Dark Drabbles” anthologies (blackharepress.com/publications/ ), Blood Song Books’ “Tiny Tales” anthologies: (bloodsongbooks.com/publications/), CafeLit, (CafeLit), and more. Find him on Amazon, Facebook @shawnklimekauthor or a complete index of his published works at jotinthedark.blogspot.com.

Trembling With Fear 06/02/2019

Man’s history is scattered with instances of real horror. People and events who performed deeds you couldn’t even dream up in your worst nightmares (see Remembrance below). My youngest went on a college trip to Auschwitz recently, sent me pictures, told me of what she saw, how she was affected. It was a trip we gladly supported, believing as strongly as we do that it is our duty to remember and ensure such a thing does not happen again. Amongst her anecdotes, she also described how others viewed the site. Most were respectful but she couldn’t get over how some attended carrying glittery backpacks, wearing clothes and colours more suited to a fun day out than a visit to the site of one of history’s most notorious war crimes. She also told me of people smiling for selfies on the railway tracks, turning someone else’s suffering to their own attention-seeking ends. Has society really become that self-centred and self-obsessed? It makes me despair …

On a happier note, I’ve enjoyed my week off from school. I’ve been able to pace my writing and get a couple of short stories done, critiqued others, read a few books and reviewed them and still had time to watch a bit of tv, do a little housework AND start compiling the 2019 anthology!

Now to this week’s stories:

Trembling With Fear’s lead story this week is Like Mother … Like Son by Ruschelle Dillon examines the strength of the mother/son bond. No one is good enough for this woman’s son and his closeness to his mother causes him to believe her, to accept that no girl was going to hang around for him, that they will all leave in the end … but do they? Great Hitchcockian (if that’s a word) feel to this.

No Happy Endings by Arthur Unk brings us the Easter Bunny, that lovely cute fluffy creature which we all loved when we were little … and completely destroys the innocent image, coating it with alcoholic fumes and giving it a gun. It does not end well. An enjoyable noir subversion.

Remembrance by RJ Meldrum is horror in its real form, a reality which existed and which we humans created. Sometimes you don’t need to make things up, only remind us of the dark deed’s of man’s past. Short, direct and hard-hitting.

Smile More by Kevin M. Folliard relentlessly forces you to read on with each repetition of the word ‘Smile’, it is at times protection, a mask and ultimately a bringer of death. The rhythm and repetition brings to mind the ‘Choose Life’ quote from Trainspotting.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

It has been a bit of a crazy week! Outside of the huge project at my day job which still looms over all of my waking thoughts, we’re closing in on the Trembling With Fear anthologies! Covers have been approved, things have started to be created on KDP for publishing, progress is being made! 

On top of this, I had a chance to give a first round set of edits on a story being worked on by one of our Patreons. It is a fun read and I’m looking forward to seeing where he is able to end up placing it as I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to once it is finished! 

As always, we’re open for more shorts, drabble, Unholy Trinities, serials, and more! 🙂 

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Like Mother… Like Son

Momma kept me safe. She taught me to read and write among other things. She raised me to be a proper gentleman. A simple ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ kept me in God’s good graces as well as Momma’s.

Momma always said she was a good judge of character. She knew when my friends were using me. And they were always using me. When I brought a girl home, before she even stepped through the door into the living room Momma knew if she was dirty. She kept the dirty girls away.

My momma left me on a Wednesday. She was sick. For years momma hid it; using mascara and red lipstick to paint on a lovely face. I had inklings, but I could never bring myself to discuss it with her. Maybe part of me didn’t want to know.

One evening, I peeked in her room and caught her washing specks of blood from her flushed cheeks and scrubbing the reek of piss from her clothes.

I mustered up the nerve to confront her.

She didn’t deny it.

Her tiny frame crumpled to the floor, bawling like a newborn. Grabbing my hand she said she wanted nothing more than to spare me from pain and heartache.

It wasn’t long afterwards that momma died. I would like to think she didn’t suffer but her sickness brought with it a lot of pain. In the end, I tried my best to comfort her. I wiped the dried blood from her mouth and nose and untangled her hair with her favorite comb. She deserved to look pretty to meet Jesus. I kissed her forehead and folded her hands to her chest. She looked peaceful.

Putting her in the ground was pure hell. There were no mourners or friends to give me comfort. Momma said we were all we needed, her and I. And now she was gone.

Through my grief and tears, I almost didn’t see the sweet face of my last girlfriend. Momma hated her; she said she was one of the “dirty girls.” But, as the old saying goes, “the heart wants what the heart wants.”

Eventually, my girl stopped coming around. It hurt real bad. I thought she liked me but Momma said, she was a no good whore; definitely not the girl for me.

It didn’t matter any longer. Momma was gone and here was my lost love ready to comfort me.

I wiped away my tears and took her hand in mine. It snapped off at the elbow as I pulled her from the soft dirt.

I chuckled at the surrealness of the moment. Our mother-son moment. Oh Momma, what are the odds we’d pick the same plot of earth in the acres of pine and laurels behind our home to bury our dead.

Ruschelle Dillon

Ruschelle Dillon is a freelance writer whose efforts focus on the dark humor and the horror genres.  Ms. Dillon’s brand of humor has been incorporated in a wide variety of projects, including the irreverent blog Puppets Don’t Wear Pants and novelette “Bone-sai”, published through Black Bed Sheet Books as well as the live-action video shorts “Don’t Punch the Corpse” and “Mothman”.  She also interviews authors for the Horror Tree website.

Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and online zines such as Strangely Funny III, Story Shack, Siren’s Call, Weird Ales- Another Round and Women in Horror Vol 2, Dark Voices Charity Anthology, Deadcades and Sanitarium Magazine. Her collection of short stories, Arithmophobia, published by Mystery and Horror LLC is available through Amazon & Barnes and Noble.  

 

Stalk her on-

https:www.ruschelledillon.net

No Happy Endings

The Easter Bunny walked drunkenly down the back alley with a gun in hand. The wolves were chasing him again. He stumbled into a wall leaving a long smear of blood on the dirty brick wall. The growling behind him grew louder. A dead end at the end of the alley greated Easter Bunny with a dull flickering grin. One bullet left. Fangs and teeth showed through the dark as the pack inched closer.

“Who wants it first?” Easter Bunny said.

The uncaring demons continued their deadly path. A single shot tore through the night followed by howls and screams.

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

Remembrance

He left the tour and headed out by himself into a wooded area. There’d been a building here at some point, bricks were scattered all around. He bent and picked one up. Suddenly, there were voices in his head.

They choked us, naked, standing in our own filth

They killed our children

They stole the gold from our teeth

They burned us

He dropped the brick, his head pounding. He ran back to the tour group, seeking sanctuary. He passed through a metal gate, the words above were still visible. Arbeit Macht Frei.  The voices of the dead followed him.

RJ Meldrum

R.J. Meldrum is an author and academic.  Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010.  He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Smoking Pen Press and James Ward Kirk Fiction.  He is an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.

Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/richard.meldrum.79

Website: http://wolfstarpublishing.com/meldrum/

https://twitter.com/RichardJMeldru1

Smile More

You need to smile more.

Smile because the sun is shining.

Smile so boys will like you.

Smile so girls will like you.

Smile with your heart.

Smile in your brain.

Smile deep inside your guts.

Smile because you’re free to clench your teeth and keep smiling!

Smile more than everyone else.

Smile because life is a great big smiling contest.

Smile until your face hurts.

Until your eyes water.

Until you’re terrified to stop smiling.

Until your smile infects everyone.

Smile at them until smiles slice into their flesh.

Smile until they’re dying from a killer smile like yours.

Kevin M. Folliard

Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose published fiction includes scary stories collections Christmas Terror Tales and Valentine Terror Tales, as well as adventure novels such as Matt Palmer and the Komodo Uprising. His work has also been collected by The Horror Tree, Flame Tree Publishing, Hinnom Magazine, and more. Kevin currently resides in La Grange, IL, where he enjoys his day job as an academic writing advisor. When not writing or working, he’s usually reading Stephen King, playing Street Fighter, or traveling the U.S.A.

 

Author Website: www.KevinFolliard.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kevinfolliard

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kmfollia

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

Unholy Trinity: The Fridge, The Lamp, The Bed

Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.

The Fridge

You’re probably wondering why I’m covered in blood and filled with a putrid rotting odor. Well, it’s a bit of a complicated story and I’m short on time. Unless you could save me from that smasher……no response? Eh, I expected as much. People don’t typically talk to me and if they do its weird nonsense.

I lived with Dahmer. I kept his victims cold and fresh. Oh! I can nearly smell the ripe, warm organs! The police came and took me away after he left. Now, I’m stuck here awaiting my fate. I will be dead like my owner’s victims.  

 

The Lamp

Today I got a new lampshade! The original shade had been nice but this is custom. No more plain-Jane fabric for me. It used to be warm and drippy but it’s all slick, stiff, cold human hide now. I’m pretty sure there are rotting eyeballs glued to the front. Now I just need a smile.

I’ve seen her working and I think I’m going to get one very soon. Her tooth collection has grown. She will get a big reward from the tooth fairy, but we have plans for her! All those beautiful, white, glistening teeth. They will be ours.

 

The Bed

I don’t know how it could get any worse. I was split down the middle, half a body stuffed into me, filled with lime, then crudely sewed back up. I guess I should back up a bit. I live in a hotel room. I provide rest for people.

Now, I’m in ruin. I can feel that body rotting inside of me. Somehow nobody has noticed. Two people fucked on top of that body this morning and I have fresh linens on now. Who knows how long this will go on before my secret is discovered and I am thrown away

Jonathan Grisham

Jonathan Grisham lives in TN with his fiance David, 4 dogs, 2 cats and numerous chickens. He works full time in the customer service industry and writes as often as he can. Hobbies include cooking, video games, scrounging for rare books and rescuing animals. 

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