No numbers this week – or rather statistics – although I will post them from time-to-time to see how we’re faring in terms of gender balance. I have been pondering something else though and that is age. Is it a barrier to writers? As I follow news of publication deals and events, unless the author is already well known, those who are following through are often from the younger end of the spectrum. Yet frequently we are reminded of those writers who never got published until in their 50s, 60s, 70s and told it’s never too late, until yet another award or publication appears for a ‘bright young thing’, ie younger than 40 and your heart sinks.
I hope that you’re hungry for horror today as we’ve got a few tasty treats for you to read!
‘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
Death By Barbecue
The heavyset waiter tossed the fourth plate of steak down in the middle of the table. Luke greedily reached over with his fork, dragging a slab of blood-drenched meat onto his plate. There, he began slicing it, rubbing chunks in a thick puddle of mustard before stuffing them into his eager mouth.
He wiped the mixture of blood and butter from his thin lips and grasped a shining, golden chicken leg. He brought it closer and took a huge bite, evoking childhood memories of the Flintstones and brontosaurus burgers. He rotated the leg, gnawing away, in no way perturbed by the grease that was building on his cheeks and in his beard. He cast aside the naked bones and burped obnoxiously.
He looked around to see the reaction of his fellow diners, but the restaurant was empty. Not a soul, waiter aside.
“Is it always this quiet?” he said, barely stifling another violent belch.
The waiter stood, smiling and moving his head, taking in the scene – as close to a battlefield as a restaurant table ever might look.
“Are you enjoying your meal, sir?”
“Don’t let me stop you. All you can eat.” The waiter hurried off to the kitchen before he’d even finished speaking, returning with a plate piled high with ribs, the fragrance of chicory, bourbon and pork dancing a few paces ahead of him. He stacked empties to make room and slotted the ribs in, barbecue Tetris played out in front of Luke’s eyes.
The smell was intoxicating, mouth-watering. Luke extended his arm, gripping a huge chunk of rib with both hands. He chomped off mouthfuls of meat and fat, the thick, vibrantly red sauce ingraining itself under his fingernails. He dropped the stripped bone on to his plate and tipped back the bucket-like cola that sat beside his feast, glugging the bubbling, sugary liquid down his throat.
It was only then that he noticed the roiling of his stomach. He reached down with his free hand and felt the vibrations within. An unexpected fart escaped from under him, noisy and moist. His inner voice announced that he’d had enough, but his eyes were fixed on the waiter. He wore a beaming, almost sinister smile as he delivered a tray of chicken skewers. The smell of marinated flesh was pure seduction, Luke fighting and losing as he slid the tender white meat onto his plate and carved through it with his steak knife, heaping it into his mouth and chewing.
A surge of pain ran through his chest as he swallowed, but still he forced the next forkful down, his mandible exhausted from chewing through such enormous quantities of flesh. He was lazily groping for another rib when bold, wall-mounted letters caught his eye ‘Come for lunch, stayed ‘til you’re finished.’
He hadn’t so much as wondered about the slogan as he’d walked in. Nor about the lack of patrons in a high street restaurant. At lunch. On a Saturday.
“Eat,” said the waiter, nodding.
Kev Harrison is an English teacher and writer of dark fiction, living in Lisbon, Portugal. He has only started taking writing more seriously in the last twelve months and has had work published, during that time in the Below the Stairs: Tales from the Cellar anthology, Theresa Derwin’s Mummy Knows Best, Two Eyes Open from Mackenzie Publishing and others, including Trembling with Fear itself. He is currently (nervously) putting the finishing touches to a supernatural horror novella.
You can follow Kev’s work on Amazon
It spreads, the darkness.
What begins as a speck of blackness in your mind expands, clouds all thoughts, poisons every action. Takes away any light.
The darkness took me several years ago. I’m no longer in control.
Maybe one day it will consume me completely and I will be no more. But for now, I keep walking.
Do not look for me. And if you do see me, walk the other way, and fast. The only good I can do is to warn you away. To keep you safe from the dark that has gripped me.
It spreads, the darkness.
David Turton has extensive training in Journalism, Marketing and Public Relations and has been writing as a career for over fourteen years. David has written several short stories, all centred around dark tales of horror and dystopia. Look out for his post-apocalyptic horror novel The Malaise which us due in late 2018 and download a free ebook from his website.
You can follow David’s work at: http://davidturtonauthor.wordpress.com
A Special Treat
They always ask. “What’s the red thing in the ice cube?”
I always tell them it’s a drop of a rare red wine for flavor. Play it off as some new novelty drink, but I know its true origins. A drop of crimson death added to each drink has become my life’s work.
A special treat for the wealthy to die for. A present passed from one of them to me never to be spoken of. It’s sometimes hard to conceal my smile as the cubes melt and they consume it whole without hesitation. I’m a part of them forever.
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.
Trapped in the room it eternally waited.
Bound to guard the room and stairs leading to the darkness below.
Unable to leave, not even to feed.
It waited. Wanting. Needing to eat.
The thought of sinking fangs into anything was the only it was still capable of.
On rare moments of clarity, it could remember a life before all this, a name, a destiny, dreams.
But to dream requires sleep and that too was denied.
All that remained was the hunger. The need to guard the stairs. The knowledge that where it allowed free that it would devour the Earth.