Trembling With Fear 04/21/2019

Funny how Stuart says I have time off  Well, I have been away but IF there is internet, then I do try and do a bit of work. I’ve been away again this week, this time to visit my parents in Shropshire. It’s one of those counties in England that most people, even those in England, go ‘Shropshire? Where’s that?’. It is actually a very rural county situated between the West Midlands (home to cities like Birmingham) and Wales. The sky is a pastel blue, the blossom’s out and lambs abound. It really is beautiful around here when it’s like this.

Before we head into this week’s stories from Trembling With Fear, I just want to give a couple of shout-outs to TWF contributors. Congratulations to:

G.A. Miller, a regular contributor at TWF, who has recently published his short story collection Thirteen: A Collection of Dark Tales. I’ve read, and really enjoyed, his pages of darkness (as I have said in my review over at amazon and goodreads) and I’m sure you will too.

J.B. Toner, a new contributor to TWF – look out for his serial, The Knowing, this year – has just had his first novel published. It’s called Whisper Music and is available from Sunbury Books. I’ve not read this one yet, but I’m sure I will at some point. Good and evil clash in this vampire story which starts with a great ‘what if’ premise – ‘What if the Virgin Mary was bitten by a vampire?’. That thought just draws you in, doesn’t it?

In addition, two of our writers are joining me in Demain Publishing’s Short Sharp Shocks series (and I will be reading these):

Kev Harrison’s Cinders of a Blind Man Who Could See, is out April 19th: Something old lurks in Leonard’s Wood and something – or someone – in the sleepy village of Wincham is feeding it. Now Owen must face it or risk losing his son forever.

Kev’s author interview can be read on Demain Publishing’s blog. A screamer and a pantser, who knew? You’ll have to read the interview to find out more.

Alyson Faye’s Night of the Rider, will be available in May. I’ll post links to this when it’s up on amazon.

Always feel free to drop us a line about any publication information. We love sharing your successes with everyone.

Now for this week’s Trembling With Fear:

The Meat Reigns by Evan Marcroft. Suicidal porkduck. If you want to grab my interest and keep me reading, implant a bizarre image in my head. This creature snagged my interest as it reminded me somewhat of Douglas Adams’ Restaurant at the End of the Universe where the diners get to meet the ‘Dish of the Day’. In this story, these creatures arrive following an alien invasion. As the human population has become unsustainable and the planet damaged, these animals provide the food they need. The way to a person’s heart – and in this case, mind – is through their stomach. This story brings some of the critical issues facing us on this planet and takes them in a direction which might seem extreme. Tales featuring the issues we face are few and far between, yet environmental disaster, civil war, terrorism (the list is endless) all provide material which can be developed further. Already horror stories in themselves they can be seen in an even darker light or perhaps allow the writer to give guilty parties their come-uppance, at least on paper. A dark satire is always welcome.

Lucky Buckle by Kevin M. Folliard. The buckle of a leprechaun turns out to be lucky for Seamus but not so for its former owner. A straightforward story whose twist at the end provoked an emotional response from me, made me feel distinctly sorry for the leprechaun. I just kept imagining what such a fate must be like. There has to be something in a story, even a drabble which hooks me and for me, it’s that ending.

Rest in Peace, Mother by Hailey Piper. This is wonderful in its down-to-earth conversation between the children and their buried mother. Roles are reversed as the mother asks the children ‘Can I come out now?’ and apologises for whatever she’s done. ‘We’ll think about it, Mother,’ they say. This matter-of-factness adds a layer of dark humour which is terrific without being forced.

Under the Bridge Downtown by Matthew R. Davis. Lyrical and poetic taking down of a troll. From those initial fiery comments implying power in the writer’s invisibility to the end when the troll beneath the bridge is punished, reduced to hiding, no longer speaking out, hides. Great use of troll imagery and language, a unique poem.

Finally, remember our Summer Special. We’ve just received a story which looks like it might be a perfect fit for this. Anyone else got dark tales set under blue skies, on beaches or in a tent in some field. Caravan holidays I’m sure must warrant something or perhaps that Bank Holiday traffic jam. Then you’ve got the piers and arcades, candyfloss and mirror mazes … oops that’s been done, think Bradbury and Us got there first. But you could do it again, in your own inimitable way …

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

This last week has run the full gambit of good to bad but with both of these areas, it has been BUSY.

Star Wars Celebration, Game of Thrones, Kid’s stuff, WORK, and all kinds of stuff in-between.

What I’m trying to get at here is I’m impossibly behind and I apologize on anything I owe anyone. 

‘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 Meat Reigns

Sir, my mission was to gather information, and I’m telling you, this is the information. No, don’t take my word for it, I brought plenty of footage. Not that it matters to me anymore. And bring more of that chicken, would you? God that’s good.

So anyway, yes. From all available records, First Contact occurred around three years after the Earth crossed the Bjurman Threshold—the point at which food production could no longer keep up with the mouths needing it and began to break down, just like your ancestors and mine all predicted it would. How? Oh, a collision of things. Mutant smartplagues gone rogue; radiation leftover from resource wars; oceans as lifeless and plasticky as bottled water. Pretty much all boxes ticked. Earth had turned out its pockets and found only lint. By the day my recon ship touched down, the population we abandoned had been cut in half.

The aliens landed in Europe first. Not the capitol of anything, just this cinder of a shanty-town in Normandy where the kids all sat around with toothpick limbs and bowling ball bellies just waiting to die. This visiting aid team happened to get the whole thing on camera. The ship came down in the middle of town, middle of day, with everyone looking on, and let out a dozen or so of these creatures at once. They don’t say anything, not so much as a we come in peace, just start carving half of their own into thighs and breasts and put them over a fire. You watch that video, now—it doesn’t take five minutes for all those hungry, spidery kids to make their choice. Us humans, we don’t have the brains we think we do. Just stomach accessories.

#

Every surviving language has a name for them. The official taxonomization is Sus alienus funestus. In English, the suicidal porkduck.

I think it’s accurate, anyway. That picture there is typical. A claw-footed boar about yea high, potbelly that drags when it walks. Face like a duck, with fingers on its bills to hold stuff with. It can’t run fast, and its got dappled skin like velvet, which is convenient, I suppose, since it doesn’t mind humans slaughtering and eating it. I’ve seen porkducks disembowel themselves and live long enough to crawl onto a flaming barbeque. If you want to know the evolutionary logic behind that, I couldn’t tell you. Ask the bees and ants, I guess.

Their invasion incurred zero human casualties. Their technology is centuries ahead of ours up here in the Union, but their ships have no weapons anyone perceived. In the course of the war they tanked everything Earth threw at them and turned the other cheek. They employed only one tactic throughout, and it won them the planet in less than a year; those that resist do not eat.

For months they airdropped themselves over those nations that welcomed them. Thousands of alien bodies per day swamped the slum-cities of London and Beijing and Monaco in all the fatty meat and vitamin-rich entrails they could want. Those governments that fired on them got to watch the rest of the world gorge on a steady downpour of flesh. It didn’t take long for the willing to overthrow the stubborn. By the time those great food-dumping ships touched down and disgorged the first porkducks who didn’t happily die on impact, they were welcomed with open arms and empty plates.

They say Jesus Christ conjured loaves and fishes from nothing. They say he gave up his life for our sins. But what had he done for humanity lately? And the messiah couldn’t have tasted half as good as a rack of smoked porkduck ribs. Speaking of whom, I could use a top-off on my wine here. Just bring the bottle. And don’t give me that look, sir. You have no idea what I had to do to make it back here. Not a fucking clue.

#

When I returned to our homeworld approximately ninety years into the porkduck occupation, there were more of them than there were humans. Had to be, to keep the population fed. Where we had come to be the planet’s apex predator, the porkduck instead established itself as its apex prey. Grass and flowers and trees had been replaced by machines that converted carbon dioxide into oxygen. Every creature more complex than an earthworm had been rendered extinct. No birds broke the blue of the sky. Shells had ceased to wash up on the shores. The Earth I found was stripped of every sustenance that was not porkduck.

No sir, you can’t understand. Up here in the stars, we’ve only a microcosm of a real ecosystem, the bare minimum biological diversity, but it’s not nothing. You can’t picture nothing.

I can.

Down there…

Down there, the cell membranes of all societies have dissolved; our species has at last become homogenous, if only out of need. The porkduck itself can subsist on particles and rays we haven’t discovered yet. What it wants instead is power, and comfort, and all human effort has been bent towards that purpose. Your typical John or Wang spends fourteen hours per day waiting on his dinner-to-be, grooming, massaging, shoveling waste, capering about for their entertainment. An individual may attend as many as a dozen in a day. No time for school, or leisure, no time to grow in different directions. The universities lie in ruins; alien palaces coil above all. Existence is binary; work and rest.

You can opt out, sure. They don’t force you to do anything. I met plenty who tried. They just don’t last long. You don’t work, you don’t eat. And you think maybe your neighbor will feed you, but they won’t. Because all of you are always being watched, and they know they won’t eat if they do.

It’s simple, like a guillotine. Blade plus gravity. Hunger plus time.

It’s what they did to me, when they found me out.

They didn’t bother to lock me up. They let me wander around like I’d been doing. But I figured out quick it didn’t matter how hard I worked—they wouldn’t feed me. There was only one thing they wanted, and I wouldn’t give it. They weren’t going to let me die though; not as long as I could be useful. Every time I thought I was getting close, somehow they’d know too, and they’d throw me a drumstick or something. Just enough to push me along to the next spot I’d drop.

But you know me, sir. I’m a good scout. I held out. I reconnoitered like I was told to do. I got a lot of good video of me getting thinner and thinner. 

#

The oldest myth in our history is this: the strong rule the weak. It’s the amoeba from which all other stories evolved. The hero defeats the villain because he’s smart and tough, yadda yadda. Like all myths, it’s wrong. Totally backwards. When we fled to the stars, we took mankind’s best and brightest, the powerful and wealthy, and the first thing we did was build zero-g farms with asteroid dirt to grow corn and avocado. Look how quick we are to replace our agrimechs when they break down. We’ve come so far from our monkey days but we’re still only stomachs with accessories. Mouths to chew, hands to beg, minds to obey, knees to kneel.

To the meat.

Sir, I held out as long as I could. 

#

I brought a tracking device back in my recon ship. It’s been pinging our coordinates ever since I got back. I’m sorry. Honestly. It was the only way they’d let me come home.

Maybe they won’t follow me. They’re happy as pigs in mud down there. But you never know. I expect the Earth-people will help, if they do. We’re the ones that fucked off to space and left them on that dying planet to starve, and besides, it’s that or go hungry. Even if they could, they’d never fight back. They’d have nothing else. I doubt you’ll so much as see a porkduck until you’re ready to eat its heart raw. At that point, they’ll have won.

Ah. Okay then. Saw that coming. Just let me finish up here before you lock me up. I really am sorry–I’ve got family here too. But I had no a choice. Up here, we don’t know what hunger is. You’ve never felt yourself begin to drag across that event horizon in your gut. Without food the belly starts to break down everything it can. Stomach lining. Fat reserves. Principles. Morals. Sanity.

No, they didn’t promise me anything. I never expected to be anyone special after they conquered us as well. I came back for this. Chicken, greens, mashed potatoes, gravy. You saw me—I wept when I smelled it coming. Even if it was just the once, I had to taste something other than porkduck before I die.

END

 

Evan Marcroft

Evan Marcroft is an aspiring writer of weird fantasy, science fiction, and alternate historical horror. His work has appeared in Metaphorosis, Pseudopod, and Strange Horizons. You can reach him on Twitter at @Evan_Marcroft and contact him for any reason at [email protected].

Lucky Buckle

 “Snatched it off a leprechaun’s boot!” Seamus’s father claimed of a silver buckle. “Always brought luck!”

Though skeptical, after Dad’s death, Seamus pocketed the charm as instructed.

Alone in the funeral home, he witnessed a 10-inch creature searching the corpse.

Its knotted face grimaced beneath tangles of gingery hair. It wore a crimson blazer, and its left boot lacked a buckle.

The leprechaun pointed at Seamus’s pocket with a gnarled finger.

Seamus slammed and sealed the coffin.

He told no one of his lucky buckle, but those who visit his father’s grave hear the muffled curses of a tiny immortal.

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/

Rest In Peace, Mother

“Mother’s bleeding again.”

“Should’ve cremated her.” Anna helped Kylie dig through damp soil. Blood stained every layer. “Never heard of a bleeding grave before.”

“Never buried a possessed parent before.”

Their shovels hit the wooden box buried a foot below the earth, where crimson stains seeped through the panels.

“Out of bandages again?” Anna tossed a white bundle under the lid. “Here you are.”

Her mother’s face peeked through the black line. “Can I come out now?”

“Not yet, Mother.”

“I’m sorry. Really, I am. I’d like to come home.”

“We’ll think about it, Mother.”

They buried the box again.

 

Hailey Piper

Hailey Piper was raised in a creepy patch of woods up north, haunted by ghouls and monsters. Today she keeps her childhood nightmares alive by writing them down.

Twitter: @HaileyPiperSays

Site: http://www.haileypiper.com

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Hailey-Piper/e/B07HDYFL2C/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1549619585&sr=8-1

Under The Bridge Downtown

Uppity bitch.  Posting shit.  Pagan-hippy-feminist, witchy-bitchy-snowflake.

Wrote comments.  Got flamed.  Again, again.

No more.

Watched, tracked.  Tuesday nights.  Her, alone.

Found spot.  Under bridge. 

Stripped, waited.

Almost midnight.  Boots rapping.

She’s coming.

(Pulled down.  In shadows.  My revenge.)

Boots pausing.  Right above.

“Stay there.”

She knows!

“In darkness.”

Dust falling.

“Little troll.”

Breathing dust.

Gasping, choking.  Retching, stretching. 

Bones melting!  Skin rotting!

Boots rapping.  She’s gone.

Look down. 

Water lapping.  Moon reflected.

And me.

Not same.  I whimper.

I hide.

Eat trash.  Sometimes, fish.  Overhead, feet.  Shoes tap.  Boots rap.

No speak.  No move.

I stay.

In darkness.

Little troll.

Matthew R. Davis

Matthew R. Davis is an author and musician based in Adelaide, South Australia, with over forty dark fiction publications to his name thus far.  When not writing, he plays bass and sings in alternative rock/metal bands, judges for national spec-fic awards (this year it’s the Australian Shadows Awards), performs spoken word shows, edits videos, and explores derelict buildings with a like-minded photographer looking for inspiration.  His first collection of short stories is slated for release this year.

Links:

matthewrdavisfiction.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/MxRxDx

The Unholy Trinity: The Old Man

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.

These three stories share a common character- an old man. He’s a typical old man that we’ve all known in our lives, except that he has a dark side.

Perfect Pair

The old man settled into his recliner, putting his slippered feet up.  He was bone tired and wanted to relax. He took a sip of wine, allowing his mind to drift back to that summer night filled with stars and a soft, warm breeze. The only sounds heard came from waves lapping against the shore and the whispering of the lovers, entwined in each other’s arms.

“We’re soul mates,” were the last words spoken before the swift sword released their heads from their bodies.

He chuckled to himself as he admired his new slippers. Indeed, they truly were sole mates.

The Recipe

The old man slowly stirred the pot simmering on the kitchen stove. It was potluck night at his lodge and he was making his special stew.

As a young man, his mother had been the first person to help him with the making of the stew. He figured, because of her age, the meat had been tough and stringy. His technique had improved with time and experience.

It was a favorite with his lodge brothers and always a highlight at potlucks. When queried about the ingredients, he would proudly reply that it was a secret recipe started by his mother.

The Decision

The old man had been to see his doctor. The news wasn’t good.

After some reflection, he decided to get his affairs in order.

He went to confession. The priest felt increasingly queasy as he listened to the gruesome details of the multiple slayings and subsequent cannibalism.

“By the way, Father, you know my special stew I brought for potlucks? You ate them too.”

The old man went home, collected the remaining frozen body parts and headed for the ocean.

He shouted, “Come and get it!” to the sharks as he flung the body parts and himself into the water.

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.

Trembling With Fear 04/14/2019

One editorial plea this week. Please can all stories be sent in as attachments as per our submissions page. A drabble sent within the body of an email does not guarantee an ‘immediate’ read – even if it is short and right in front of me!

Now for the wonderful stories in this week’s Trembling With Fear.

Black Khakis by F.M. Scott is at the shorter end of our word range but shows what can be done with this length of story. Allan is a stressed office worker and also a writer. He has created a ‘character’ who, I suppose, you would regard in the same light as certain extras you see in a film, those who make a brief appearance and flit out again. We’ve all used them, they usually make a point of some sort or signpost something about the main characters or storyline, then they get killed off or discarded. Now, however, the character, who happens to wear black khakis, has had enough, feels he deserves more. I like this story because it can be taken a couple of ways. It can be read as a little revenge tale, where a downtrodden character finally stands up for himself, or it can be seen as a manifestation of the stress undergone by Allan. Either way, imagination has conjured up the man in black khakis and put the writer in this predicament. Will imagination get him out of it? We are told, as writers, that when a character comes to life and does their own thing regardless of what the author’s intention was then the story is working. In this case, a character coming to life is a lot more worrying.

Exploring by JA Hammer gives a perfect pen portrait of a setting, so clear you can see the place, that little hideaway a child loves to find and explore … The idyllic first paragraph contrasts with the shorter, sparser description of the interior but which is in its own way just as perfect, going from sunlight to a world washed in sepia tones. And then the flight with a last sentence which has a double meaning created by some very clever word play. Stephen King in miniature.

The Unthawing by CR Smith is another short piece with some excellent imagery. A dystopian world bound by snow hints at winged predators waiting for the return of humans to the cities which have long been deserted. Nothing is stated explicitly but there are subtle indicators that a dire outcome awaits man should he return to this particular urban setting.

Forget Me Not by N.O.A. Rawle is told mainly through dialogue. A scorned girlfriend seeks revenge on her ex-boyfriend via flowers which are not the innocent bouquets that they seem. Her wish appears to be granted but then she in turn receives an unexpected gift which gives a nice twist or pause for thought at the end. I enjoy stories with a twist or clever come-uppance and we haven’t had that many lately. The few we have had have unfortunately included rather flat or too-often used examples which have resulted in their rejection. If you have a twist make sure it’s not cliché.

I managed to see Pet Sematary last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also saw The Silence on Netflix having read the book by Tim Lebbon. The book was excellent but I was disappointed that Netflix switched the setting from the UK to the US. I know it’s because of the ‘market’ but it took away a lot of the tension generated by the scenes which took place in the more ‘confined’ space of the UK. It also lost a lot of the nuances in the relationships between the main characters, making them less involving which was a shame.  The US has missed out on the chance to see a lot of beautiful Lake District scenery. For this one, I would say skip the film and read the book, most definitely read the book!

Now reading Pyschoville by Christopher Fowler, wonderfully dark. A great satire on suburban life and the prejudice and bigotry to be found there. Not finished yet but the body count is on the way up! (You can tell I’m on Easter break by the way my reading rate goes up!)

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

I had a write up of all of this week’s tales as Steph was on vacation but she swooped in at the last moment with a write up that put mine to shame. So… I deleted them so you could go off her words instead of mine. Enjoy! (Trust me, you’ll enjoy it better this way!) 

We’ve had a nice influx of drabble after this last week’s newsletter. Thanks so much!

We’ll be getting initial responses to everyone in the coming week once Steph is able to catch up from her time off. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on drabble myself lately. I have the writing itch but no time to put pen to page outside of 100 words at a time (or usually 150ish that have to somehow be cut by a third…)

‘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

Black Khakis

Allan noticed the figure standing at the back of the room, a human outline in pale gas flame blue, beyond the sea of heads bobbing in conversation.  As quickly as it appeared, the figure vanished.  Probably some lighting effect, tossed off by the staff of an eccentric coffee joint.  Allan saved his work, closed his laptop, and paid up.  A stacked agenda of multiple priorities awaited him at the office.

            He got into his car and headed down Sixth.

            Sharply, from the backseat: “In a hurry this time?”

            Allan jerked the wheel and nearly sideswiped a parked car.  The face in the rearview mirror smirked—a thirtyish male face, on a head of dark brown hair, attached to an average-sized body clad in black khakis, top and bottom.

            “The fuck?” Allan spluttered.

             “Oh, I don’t blame you,” the passenger chuckled.  “But I’m not going anywhere, except where you are.”

            “Who are you?” Allan shouted.  The man smiled and moved his eyes about.

Allan whipped the car around onto Rockford and lurched to a stop in front of some old apartments.  “Look,” he said, his voice defeating the quivers and entering genuine pissed-off territory, “if you’re trying to carjack me, you kinda suck at it.  And you’re getting out of my car, right now.”

            The khaki man smiled.  “Am I, now?”

            “Yes, you are.”  Allan got out and jerked open the back door.  The stranger didn’t budge.  Allan sighed, grabbed him by his epaulets, and yanked him out.  He hit the pavement on his belly and rolled.

            Allan stared.  He’d been in a few scraps, but he’d never manhandled anyone before.

            The khaki man propped himself up on his elbows and began laughing.  “Now that takes it, man.  Really does.”

            “Okay!” Allan bellowed.  “You’ve apparently had your fun.”  He thought of McKinney and Erland, the office wiseasses who seemed to needle him for no good reason.  “If those guys put you up to this, you can tell them it tanked.  Miserably.”

            The khaki man sat up in the street, his laughter gone.  “What guys?  This is strictly between you and me.”

            Allan looked away for a second.  “Well, that’d make perfect sense if not for the small problem that I don’t know who the fuck you are!”

            The man in black khakis rose and dusted himself off.  His voice became dire.  “Allan, I’ve been in your world longer than I care to admit.  This, in spite of the fact that in your hands I never seem to make it further than a couple of lines before you either kill me off or kill the whole story.”  He spat on the pavement.  “The guy who, that’s all I’ve ever been.  The guy who does what—flickers in and out, sits on his ass, maybe mouths a word or two, and wears the stupidest fucking clothes you can think of?”  He spread his arms.  “Get a good look, Allan, because this is me, every time you call me forth.  It’s the same in the back of your mind.  Like black goddamn khakis!”

He ambled toward the driver door and held out a hand.  “Keys now, and get in.  If I can’t have any better, then you don’t get to, either.  Not until I say so.”

            Allan obeyed.  He didn’t care what might happen.  He feared the man in the black khakis.  He needed him.

#     #     #

F.M. Scott

F.M. Scott is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lives and writes.  His work has appeared previously in Trembling with Fear, and he was a finalist in the inaugural Flash Fiction Contest sponsored by The Tulsa Voice and Nimrod International Journal.  His short story “Isolated Drums” was recently published in the first issue ofThe Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine.

http://writprodsm.wixsite.com/fmscott

Exploring

In the middle of a weed-choked meadow there were droning grasshoppers, a junkyard with old things, and a small held-together-by-spit-and-glue shack. Glimmers of sunlight flickered where rust hadn’t crawled yet, a lure through waist-high grass to a rotting, lopsided porch. Her heart pounded; she’d discovered a whole place by herself!

 

The door swung. Squeaked. There was a metallic scent in the air. A doorway, hanging open. A porcelain sink washed in mud. A mattress browned with mold. A russet knife. Then, a whimper of creaking wood. Another.

 

She turned, fled, running until breathing became pain, a knife in her side.

 

J.A. Hammer

J.A. Hammer lives off coffee (mostly Dead Eyes) and stress in the wild concrete city of Tokyo, where zombies are living, using the train lines every day. If you see the name CoffeeQuills online, that’s J.A. Hammer’s alter-ego, and they’re mostly safe to talk to (bites will only happen in the name of science). The cake is not a lie (but you must get it yourself).

Forget Me Not

“A grave decision.” Her voice was as icy as the florist’s was humid.

“I know.”

The ad proclaimed ‘Love life poisoned? Sex life wilted? Forget Me Not’

“I tailor plants to your needs.”

I’d never been vetted buying flowers before.

“Darren dumped me.” I blurted, “When the Tempting Temp was hired.”

“Allergy? Cardiac weakness?”

“Me not him…”

“Aconite then – paralysis, heart failure — anonymous delivery?” 

*

“Darren’s sick today, it’s Valentine’s too.” said TT, “But this is for you.”

The bouquet on my desk sported a Forget Me Not card with TT’s bubble scrawl, “To ease the pain. Darren xoxo.”

 

N.O.A. Rawle

N.O.A. Rawle regularly burns the midnight oil to get the world in her head in print. A Brit located in Thessaly, her work appears in numerous anthologies and magazines in print and on the web. For more information, find her at www.noarawle.blogspot.gr, follow her on Twitter @N.O.A.Rawle or Instagram as noarawle and like her on Facebook as N.O.A Rawle.

The Unthawing

All-encompassing white melds ground to sky as scientists search yet again for signs of a thaw. Trains remain frozen to tracks, vehicles entombed in snow, the river a glistening ribbon of ice.

A helicopter hovers above lines of skeletal trees. The outline of buildings slowly materialising from the white-out. The City is almost unrecognisable. Its population long gone, forced out by hunger, belongings abandoned, scattered to the wind.

Yet along the verdigris rooftops brooding creatures stir. Their grotesque faces keeping watch, waiting for the interloper’s return. And from stone perches encircling the City gargoyles wing’s spread in preparation of flight.

CR Smith

CR Smith is an artist and writer living in the UK. Her work has been published by Ellipsis Zine, Spelk Fiction, Visual Verse, Glove Lit Zine, Train Lit Mag and The Cabinet of Heed. It is also to be found in several anthologies including, The Infernal Clock, Drabbledark: An Anthology of Dark Drabbles, Chronos: An Anthology of Time Drabbles, the Trembling With Fear: Year One Anthology, and The Infernal Clock Deadcades Anthology. A poetry anthology, Fourteen, and a Stickleback pamphlet are due to be published in 2019 by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. Her artwork has graced both the cover of Déraciné A Gothic Literary Magazine, issue 2, and the inside pages of issues 2 & 3.   

Twitter @carolrosalind

https://crsmith2016.wordpress.com  https://www.instagram.com/smith.cr/?hl=en

The Unholy Trinity: Three (True) Ghostly Tales

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.

Three (true) Ghostly Drabbles

Edith gasped. Outside, through the glass front that looked onto the garden was a shimmery figure. A man. Watching her, staring. It was night-time. She was alone, elderly, defenceless.

What could he want? Rob her? Hurt her?

She phoned the police. Then, footsteps on the stairs. Creaking, thumping.

The man was gone outside. Now, surely in her home, hiding perhaps, waiting.

The police arrived. They checked everywhere but found no-one.

Then; “Whose are those muddy footprints?”

She looked, shrieked. The prints were in her living room, leading upstairs.

He hadn’t been outside but beside her, observing quietly, his reflection deceiving.

 

###

 

Mike awoke, startled. A crash in the kitchen. Again. For several nights now the same ritual; late at night, crashing and banging in the kitchen, broken plates, glasses. He lived alone with his cat in an old house. The previous owner had died suddenly only months before leaving behind all the old furniture, including strange relics from far-away countries. Dolls, hideous books with strange texts.

The damn cat. New house, investigating, playing, but it wasn’t funny anymore.

He rose, annoyed, and stormed downstairs to scold the cat.

“Puss?” he shouted.

A meowing. From outside. It had been outside. Which meant…?

 

###

 

Chris screamed. A face watched him from the large closet in his bedroom. His parents rushed to his room, checked everything, saw no one. He was having nightmares, they said.

It had been occurring for days; noises in his room at night, downstairs in the kitchen. Whispering, rustling in the closet. Yet his parents didn’t believe him.

Until.

He awoke the next night. Saw a ghostly shadow standing over him, grinning.

He screamed.

This time, when his father checked, he heard the door open downstairs. Someone fled into the night.

No ghost, but a homeless man living in the closet.

 

 

Justin Boote

Justin Boote is an Englishman living in Barcelona for over twenty years, who has been writing short horror/suspense stories for two years. To date, he has had published or accepted for publishing around 20 stories in diverse magazines. He is also moderator for a private writer’s forum, The Write Practice.

He can be found at Facebook under his own name.

Trembling With Fear 04/07/2019

Recent times have seen an upsurge in TWF receiving stories of lengths falling outside our guidelines. Sometimes, as in the case of a longer story, we are able to accept them by splitting them into instalments for a serial or we can ask for a slight boost in word count to achieve the lower end of the flash story scale. Other times, we sadly have to pass. However, because we are seeing more stories of varying lengths we are seriously considering adjusting our guidelines as to what we will accept. Everything we currently have I can see as staying, eg drabbles, flash, Serials, Unholy Trinities, but what we would like to know is this: is there a particular length or format of story you would like us to consider publishing? Let us know, whether commenting here or on Facebook, via email etc.

Now for that bugbear, simultaneous submissions. We don’t get them very often so they have not been too much of an issue, however it must be remembered that submission levels have increased in recent times and TWF is run on a volunteer basis (as are other aspects of Horror Tree). And to give what little free time you have to reading stories, responding and then receiving a reply to say the story has gone elsewhere is tough to take. Sometimes a simultaneous submission can happen by mistake, I managed to do one a couple of weeks back – the first in five years of writing – and when I realised, immediately wrote in to apologise and withdraw my work. I felt really bad about it and still cringe that I did such a thing. Please try and avoid doing this where possible (although mistakes do happen!).

Trembling With Fear starts this week with The Murder and Suicide of Red-mist by Martin P. Fuller. This is a story we really enjoyed because of its unique timeslip nature and its focus on the redemption of Red-mist. Poor decisions in early life lead to the possibility of tragedy later, unless he is given the chance to change things. Does Red-mist take this chance or not? The narrative flips the reader back and forth, forcing you to concentrate as you are presented with the choices of what could be and what actually happens. An original treatment of perspective and time.

4 AM by David K Thurlow feels like someone desperately seeking a date but the search turns out to be for another reason entirely. Who on earth would want to be alone in a situation like this? Despair and relief ooze out of the ending.

Beware the Other by Arthur Unk implies so much – someone held against their will in twisted slavery, a sadistic jailer who deserves his comeuppance but then, at the end, was there more to that imprisonment than the victim realised? To have almost gained freedom and then at the last minute … It’s that final little twist I enjoyed in this piece.

Cursed Earth by RJ Meldrum falls into one the realms of one of my favourite horror subgenres – folk horror. In this day and age, the march of so-called progress is seen as unstoppable but here, the land has its guardian. I enjoyed the way the land becomes menacing after initially appearing as a place of some serenity and then after events have taken a turn for the worse, returns to that undisturbed state, as if nothing ever happened.

That’s it for this week. Hoping to see Pet Sematary this weekend …

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Sadly, our second cover artist also fell through due to time constraints so now it is time to find a third! We’ve got two potential leads which I hope to be following up with over the coming week. Fingers crossed! 

We have two iterations of a new logo in the works for Trembling With Fear! The short version, “TWF” is ready to be seen and hopefully will be debuted in the next couple of weeks. Likely we’ll show it off on Patreon first but it will likely be a public post and not for just our Patreons so be sure to follow us on there as well! 

‘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 Murder and Suicide of Red-mist

An impure silence lay across the alley, distant sounds of city life grumbling and whispering in the dark. They were all drowned out however by Red-mist’s heart kicking the shit out of his chest.

Red-mist peered out of the deep shadow of the pine trees which grew alongside the cracked flagged path adjacent to the old warehouse fence. He felt the sharp scrape of blackberry pricking through his soiled jeans. Only two of the alley’s lamps had escaped the local yobs, their piercing white light illuminating segments of the track and creating the deep pools of blackness that concealed his presence.

It was cold, and well after midnight, but there, just entering the deserted alleyway was his target, his crusade and Jane’s salvation. The lad walked briskly, collar raised, shoulders hunched against the icy wind.  

Red-mist grasped his knife, his only friend. He watched the kid approach, his thoughts slipping into memories. It was the young Danny, he was sure of it. Fresh from Jane’s bed, full of hope and blind love, hurrying home to get some kip before he’d start the new job later that morning. Danny full of wasted dreams. He couldn’t know now but the job would screw him up. Workmates who were all wankers, leading him by the nose into drinking sessions that got longer and wilder. He’d cross paths with that bastard Sullivan, the warehouse foreman, who, to cover up his own thieving would set Danny up with the coppers for nicking from the stores. Danny’s quick temper and big mouth would blind his mind and get him into deeper shit. Prison, bitterness, regret. That poor sod Danny. That poor sod me, had it all to come.

Red-mist’s face cracked into his infamous grin: the one that usually announced violence was about to pay a visit. It had taken time, but he’d fixed Sullivan eventually, introducing his face to some nifty knife surgery. He’d done five years for that, but it had been worth it to see that second, bloody and slightly ragged smile on Sullivan’s startled face.

And throughout it all, there had been Jane.

A year from now she’d be pregnant with Stevie. Danny would marry her, full of good intentions but a sod all future. His despair, drinking, and that crimson temper of his, would eventually erode her resolve, decay her love and hope for him. He’d beat her till the shame finally made him weep. Danny boy would have started on Stevie too, but Jane would finally snap and get the coppers involved. And he’d accept it. It would be a relief, because behind the anger was the love. Danny decided he would leave and never see her, or Stevie again, but making sure he paid her maintenance. She was owed that at least.

After leaving Jane, his anger at life would start to ferment, to spill over. And when it did, things would start to get very bad for a lot of people.  Over the years, Danny’s temper will become a wild storm he can’t control. He’d become an enforcer for a drug gang and ‘dabble in extortion’ with a bit of armed robbery on the side. Associates and enemies would nickname him ‘Red-mist’, a name he would glory in, forgetting the Danny which was.

And then he would go too far

A real two-day bender on the lash. A punk kid in the pub. Something, not sure what, but the kid will piss him off. A look, word, something. The argument just happens. Some pushing, a punch, and then the kid’s dead at his feet and Red-mist’s blade’s covered in blood.

It’s murder, a life sentence and Red-mist knows he’ll go down big time. No parole, just a cell for what life was left to him. So, he will run. Cash in every favour owed, but he knows it’s only a matter of time till the coppers find him.

He’ll be sitting in a transport café a day later, trying to plan, trying to think. Whilst staring at his cooling coffee, cursing his life, he’ll see the news flash on the café’s T.V. He’s the top story, the main event. A kid called Steve Jenson had been stabbed to death on a night out. Then a grieving mother begs her ex-husband Danial Jenson to give himself up. Danial Jenson, alias Danny, alias Red-mist.  The brutal bloody fact smacks into his brain—the kid he’ll top will be his own lad. Little Stevie.

Red-mist will feel sick, desperate. Oh God, what had he done? How had it come to this? For the first time in twenty years, Red- mist will allow submerged grief to surface and he’ll sob bitter tears of regret, briefly drawing the attention of other café customers. But there will be something about this crying man that makes them look quickly away.

Who the guy was who came over and sat across from him, he won’t remember. His face hard to recall.  He’d ask why he cried and if he, a total stranger, could help. Nosy twats like that usually ended up bleeding on the floor and Red-mist will stare at the stranger with an angry gaze. The stranger just smiles and for some unknown bloody reason, Red-mist’s temper cools, and he will tell him everything. He can’t help it. It will all come out like vomit after a heavy night out on the piss. When he finishes the stranger will just keep smiling and say he’s got a solution for him, if he is brave enough and serious about wanting to change things.

He will offer Red-mist a chance to save Jane from the harm he’ll inflict and a chance to save all the people he’ll hurt over the years.

As the man speaks, Red-mist feels his past and future combining until he exists only in the one moment—the present.

Red-mist had found himself trusting every word this fella said. Why, he couldn’t say. Something in the bloke’s black and piercing eyes, and the calm gentle way he spoke. Red-mist believed and trusted, something he hadn’t done for years.

“You have to kill the young Danny, the young you, before he, you, marries Jane. Confusing, isn’t it? But if you succeed in this quest, I promise you, Jane will be saved. She will marry someone she deserves and have kids that don’t get murdered by a drunken father. Her children will be happy and all the shattered people who you’ve hurt, will never know you…. or your knife. It’s a form of redemption for you. Your life ends before you harm anyone. Red-mist will never be. And is it really murder I’m suggesting or a noble suicide?”

The stranger’s talk went on like this and eventually Red-mist agreed.

“Mr Jenson … sorry, Red-mist isn’t it? I can only transport you to one particular time and location. You will only get one chance. If you fail …well, it all ends badly. Do you agree to this?”

Red-mist nodded his assent. What had he to lose now? And maybe, just maybe, he could do something good for once.

The bloke had reached over, smiled and touched his hand. It went dark and then a burst of light and colour. He was alone by the alley path that ran along his estate where he had been born and raised.

A whisper in his brain told him he was in his past. He recognised the muddy pathway as it had been, over twenty years or so ago, before the new industrial estate was built.

Red-mist realized he really could change things. A black miracle, or rather a red one. Yes, redemption could be his, if he could kill his young self.

That young Danny was now starting to pass the pine trees. It was time.

Red-mist charged out, the knife aimed at the centre of Danny’s back. However, the crack of dried twigs under Red-mist’s feet caused Danny to look around before the knife could be planted in his ribs. The sharp blackberry stalks snagged Red-mist’s legs causing him to stagger as tendrils of needle-edged thorns looped around his feet. The knife still slashed down, Danny dodging right but the blade bit into the flesh of his right wrist. Dark blood flowed under razor-sharp white light. Danny swore and lashed out, his wounded right-hand contorting into a fist and connecting with Red-mist’s jaw. The blow stunned Red-mist, smudging his face with his young self’s blood, and causing him to stagger. Danny pounced on his attacker and both grappled in the rubbish-strewn alley; Danny desperately holding onto Red-mist’s hand which held the knife. They waltzed a dance of violent death across the edge of the path. Each headbutted the other, blood pouring from fractured skin. The blackberry’s small green blades further lassoed both combatant’s legs, wrapping around calf and ankle, holding them, depriving them of their balance. They fell, welded together in brutal carnage, collapsing heavily onto the concrete flags. Danny, quicker than his older self, managed to turn that fickle knife inwards, towards his unknown assailant’s chest.

Red-mist grunted with pain, rolling over onto his back, the cross-handled blade sticking vertically out of his chest. For some reason the sight of his own blade imbedded in his body, beneath the cruel sodium lights made it look like a crucifixion at dawn. The street glow revealed a crimson flower blooming on Red-mist’s clothing.

He knew he was a dead man. The blade was deep, and he was bleeding out. Danny was looking down at him scared shitless but still furious. Despite the shadows, Red-mist could see the hate and anger in those ice blue eyes. The same anger that would eventually distort and devour his soul.

 “Why?” screamed Danny, ‘I’ve now’t for you to take. No phone, or cash. Nothing you bastard.”

Red-mist’s breathing was ragged, his voice a hoarse gravel rasp.

“I’m not trying to mug you … you. stupid little prick. Can’t you see. I’m you. You in twenty years. I’m your future, God help you. My … our … whole life’s shite, and I, you, us, … we’ll destroy every good thing we ever get, everything we love. I got a chance … a gift from God, or the Devil, I don’t know, chance to change everything … but I’ve failed. That guy sent me back somehow … to stop you now, before any real hurt done to Jane or anyone else. I’ve been a bastard, a failure and … I’ve failed again. You’ll live, I die, others suffer and you’ll die like this, in a shit-covered alley.”

 “You’re bloody insane,” cried Danny, nursing his slashed wrist.

Red-mist’s anger erupted. It gave him the energy to heave his body upwards, grasping hold of Danny’s wounded hand. In that split second of contact as bloodied hand met bloodied hand, fate played its final card.

Red-mist saw Danny’s wounded wrist and found on his own wrist, under layers of dirt and self-inflicted tattoos, a faint white scar that had not been there before.      

Danny was granted a revelation too. Something in his mind fully accepted everything this mad murderous, old fool was saying. Images of his future self’s chaotic life crashed into his mind. Unable to lie to himself, he saw future years of hate, anger, fights, cruelty, stealing and inner loneliness. A sad movie of the destruction of Jane’s life, and his son’s murder. A wasted future, delivered to him in a flash of scalding reality leaving him tearful, frightened, broken-hearted and above all, completely changed.

Red-mist, Danny, possible Danny, eventual Red-mist. All now shared in the horror of a wasted existence.

“No, no,” screamed Danny, “I won’t let it happen. I won’t become you, I won’t lose Jane. I won’t kill or hurt anyone, I swear it.”

He spoke the words with a passion that shook Red-mist and he fell back onto the stone slabs. The lights started to dim, and shadows merged to veil his eyes. The dying, wasted man realised something had changed in Danny’s future, his own past. That vile temper had been subtly diverted, like the channelling and damming of a great river. Danny would hardly ever drink now. Red-mist remembered.

He’d tell the drug pushers and his tosser mates to get stuffed.

Red-mist remembered.

Danny would prove Sullivan was the thief by using his head and not his gob or his knife.

Red-mist remembered and more importantly, understood.

Danny had killed his temper so as not to kill anything else. His life was stacking up differently. The name Red-mist would never be his future label. They both remembered how they would and did, love Jane, putting her in the centre of their life. There would be hard times, but they would, did, will, find the form of happiness which previously Red-mist could only have dimly imagined.

The universe changed in a subtle, minute way, then carried on.

“Who the hell’s Red-mist and why’ve I a cut to my wrist?”

Danny walked on rubbing his quickly healing wrist, bewildered and emerging from some wild hallucination.

Behind him, a prostrate figure faded away on the path, like steam drifting from a cooling kettle.

What had happened? Something … Danny couldn’t remember.

He shivered at the touch of the cold wind which sprang out of the darkness, turning up his jacket collar, and slowly walked to the alley’s end trying to shake the feeling that someone had walked over his grave, which of course, is what he’d just done.

Martin Fuller

Martin P. Fuller is just the west of 60 and trying to enjoy a semi-retirement from being a law enforcement officer for over thirty-four years. He works part time delivering cars for a rental company and endeavors to join as many writing classes as time and finances allow. He lives in a small terrace cottage in Menston, Yorkshire England.

It was because of these writing classes that he started gain the courage to submit his work for publishing. He prefers darker stories especially if he can affix a twist in story although he has dabbled in some comedy and poetry pieces.

So far, he has had work printed in self-produced anthologies from writing groups but hopes for a story to appear in October in an anthology published by comma press. He is hopeful that people will like the twists and turns of his dark mind. Either that or recommend serious therapists!

4:00 AM

She couldn’t get home.

Even in her worst anxiety dreams, she’d never had to resort to the app. Now, she was shamelessly swiping through the profiles of nearby strangers. She just needed someone who wanted to watch. The day’s final barb was showing her how hard that was to find.

When someone finally came up, she ran in a desperate, phone-guided sprint. Her knees complained. She loved the sharpness of their ache.

 

Both struggled for breath as they clasped sweaty hands. Almost laughing, they turned together to face the impact half a world away, just as the horizon caught fire.

David K. Thurlow

I live with my wife, son, and an assortment of animals in upstate New York. I’ve been a painter for most of my creative career; holding an MFA, with work shown on three continents. In recent years, writing has become my creative focus. My first novel, “Piggyback to the End of the World”, was second runner up for the Del Sol Press Prize for First Novel and is available on Amazon. A second novel is in the works.

https://www.facebook.com/davidkthurlow

https://www.davidkthurlow.com

amazon.com/author/davidkthurlow

https://twitter.com/dkthurlow

 

Beware the Other One

The emptiness behind the eyes told me that the soul was gone. I pulled the trigger without hesitation. His mess added to the horror of the room. It was only by chance that I freed myself from twisted bondage. The real world lay on the other side of this prison. I climbed slowly up the steps and opened the door. There he stood as if I had not just put a hole in his head. Wait, it couldn’t be him. I must be imagining things. The nightmare needed to be over; it just had to! His twin didn’t think so.

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

 

Cursed Earth

The bulldozer rumbled into the field. The serenity of the place was destroyed in an instant. John, the driver, was there to clear the field of corn and to prepare it for the construction crews. He noticed a scarecrow, propped up against the fence.

“Sorry, bud. Your job is over.”

He started the engine. A shadow fell over the cab. He glanced up and saw the scarecrow staring in at him.

This land is protected

The whisper came from the corn.

The cab door was opened. He was pulled out, screaming. After a few moments, the silence and serenity returned.

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

Diamond in the Rough

Scrap is money, his wife had said. You can make a fortune from old cars, discarded junk. Always look for the diamond in the rough.

And he had.

Carefully, he placed the ring on his new girlfriend’s finger. The diamond glittered in the candlelight, drew delighted gasps from Ruby.

“Honey, are you sure you can afford this?” she asked, holding it out in front of her to admire it all the more.

“Sure, darlin’,” he said. “I can turn anything into money.”

Even ashes, he thought, looking at the ring. His former wife truly was a diamond in the rough.

 

Stephanie Ellis

Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative fiction, finding success in a variety of magazines and anthologies, the latest being Asylum of Shadows as part of Demain Publishing’s Short Sharp Shocks! series and The Way of the Mother in Nosetouch Press, The Fiends in the Furrows anthology.  Her own collection of short stories has been published in The Reckoning and her dark verse has been gathered in Dark is my Playground. She is co-editor and contributor to The Infernal Clock, a fledgling press which has produced three anthologies to-date. She is also co-editor of Trembling With Fear, HorrorTree.com’s online magazine.

She is also an affiliate member of the HWA.

She can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on twitter at @el_stevie.

The Island Of Broken Telephones

Drawing: Pencil Crayon on Paper.

This image gives off an idea of somewhere far away, a place that’s hidden, secret and guarded. The combination of skulls and telephones are a constant in my work, the ambiguous nature of those objects alone or together provides a lot of room for question, for thoughtfulness. The meaning behind the objects always changes, it’s always in flux, they can be placed equally in a piece that evokes the coming of death or the coming of salvation.

Judson Michael Agla

I’m about 45 years old and spent most of it in Toronto, save for some time in Mexico and Vancouver. Ever since I can remember I’ve been making things. I paint; draw, sculpt, carve, I toyed around with animation a bit and I write horror poetry and short stories for magazines. I’ve also been a chef for about 20 years, so I’ve been a little bit everywhere doing anything I can.

my web-site = judsonmichaelagla.com

The Unholy Trinity: Down Under

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.

Down under

Her will’s specific. Proper burial or no inheritance. Isaac stares at the coffin being lowered into the grave, a lone mourner. The priest drones on but departs quickly. The pall bearers give him a strange look, uncertain of his request but happy to take his bribe.

Cassandra had been a bitch and an actual witch throughout their loveless marriage. He believed in her wicked power.

She’d cursed him on her deathbed. An oath to dig herself out from the grave and carve out his heart.

However, he’d ensured the coffin was placed upside down. A dreadful fate for Australia…. eventually.

 

Dinner Date

Dinner for two at the cemetery. I never forget special occasions.

I’d lost her two years ago. She faded away; a bright candle guttering, laughter diminishing. Then she was gone. Emptiness.

I returned to her grave often, birthdays and anniversaries especially; sitting by the gravestone, two meals laid out.

She never joins me.

Eventually I leave, nothing left at the grave side but love and flowers.

It became too much. I took the poison, asking to be buried next to her on Valentine’s day, a picnic meal placed in my coffin.

The invite’s there. It only needs you my love.

 

Cold Gallery

I take justified pride in my undertaking vocation, never shirking from cadaver restoration. Getting them looking as ‘alive’ as possible. Their loved ones deserve the comfort of seeing the body at its best.

Many relatives comment ‘they look like they’re only sleeping’; a testament to my expertise.

They’re correct in their admiration, and it infuriates me when I take my creations to crematoriums or cemeteries and the world is deprived of my artistry.

I now hang my finer works of art in a private fridge, disposing of an empty coffin.

With a warm coat, I admire my artistry for hours.

Martin P. Fuller

Martin P. Fuller is just the west of 60 and trying to enjoy a semi-retirement from being a law enforcement officer for over thirty-four years. He works part time delivering cars for a rental company and endeavors to join as many writing classes as time and finances allow. He lives in a small terrace cottage in Menston, Yorkshire England.

It was because of these writing classes that he started gain the courage to submit his work for publishing. He prefers darker stories especially if he can affix a twist in story although he has dabbled in some comedy and poetry pieces.

So far, he has had work printed in self-produced anthologies from writing groups but hopes for a story to appear in October in an anthology published by comma press. He is hopeful that people will like the twists and turns of his dark mind. Either that or recommend serious therapists!

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