Trembling With Fear 09/03/2017

It’s not always monsters who lurk in dark corners. There are also stories, written long-ago, hidden in drawers or in boxes under the bed, waiting to see the light. So many writers spending hours polishing a story and then …

… and then they do nothing.

They tuck it away. Try and forget about it. Move on to the next one and the next. Eventually some will take the leap – that of sending their story out into the world but a number will never make that move and so great stories remain unread.

We need stories at TWF, whether drabble or longer flash, we need them, so dig them out and send them in; there must be so many good stories buried in the dark. Nor does it matter if you’ve never been published before – it’s the quality of the writing that counts. Everybody at Horror Tree has been in exactly the same position. It’s scary but it’s one of the best moves you could make – and it’s only the beginning.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

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

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Commander of the Clew

I have found something and I am impressed. By diligently digging deeper and pushing myself further than I have intended, I have found something in the dirt. I am in love. Hunched over on my knees, I cast aside my gloves so I can feel my discovery as I pull it from the earth, cradling its limp white form in both hands. I raise my little treasure to the sky and it wriggles, ever so slightly. I am devoted. I will never go hungry again.

#

I was born and raised in a city of impenetrable concrete and tar. As a toddler, I was the first to find the bottom of the sandbox. When it snowed I would be the first to meet it, head on, while the accumulated drifts would chip away from the earth like dead skin from the clouds above. I would burrow into the frost and dig tunnels, scooping clumps of maneuverable frost with my hands until I was submerged and hidden. At the furthest reaches of every street block, I was the boy who lived in the slush pile; stained by dirt and hungry sunlight.

I didn’t have my own backyard until I could afford my own home in a small college town, far from my un-crack-able city. I have grown old to the point that my joints are starting to tighten up, but I still have my inner list of pleasures to check off, the ones I first scribed in boyhood. I never quite got to play in the dirt the way I wanted to.

It’s a Saturday. I’m free from the office. I have a new shovel that I bought along with a toolkit because I’ve never owned one of those before, either. I’ve picked up a pack of seeds, too. I think they are pumpkin. After I start digging, I realize the seeds were an excuse. A mock rationalization to sink my shovel into the ground.

I have already taken a solitary walk through the woods, running my fingertips along the heaving trunks of the trees. I’ve memorized all their names from the textbooks I used to receive for Christmas. The woods aren’t new, surely, but it’s easy to pretend they are. All of America, and all of New England especially, has been built over for too many centuries to be fresh. Old moss covered walls of stacked stone scattered throughout the forest are the sole remnants of ancient property boundaries. I name the singing birds one by one and it is like déjà vu from an old dream. When I sink my shovel into the dirt the two and a half decades of separation between the boy I once was and the man I now am is breached.

I choose a spot at the edge of my lawn, where the grass is yellowed and weakened as it meets the fold of the forest. As if it knew I was coming, the ground has been made soft by a recent spout of rainfall I at first despised for the unnecessary difficulty it caused when I moved in.

One of the gloves I wear has a hole in it that quickly fills with dirt as I clear the mound of earth around my crater with long swipes of my arm. Winter’s memory keeps the air cool and the sweat along my brow never quite threatens to scorch my eyes. It’s almost a lazy motion, chipping the shovel’s blade into the ground. It’s almost like softly stirring a brewing pot of soup. It’s a gradual process before I’m standing in the hole that’s grown with each soft jab until it’s swallowed me up, gently. The smell of fresh earth is unlike nothing I’ve ever experienced. Flowers are pale, odorless weeds by comparison. I’m up to my waist when I notice the sun beginning to dip over the trees. I delicately lean the shovel against the side of my ground pocket and then head inside, for lunch.

I realize four hours have passed, without a sound, when I pass the clock in my kitchen. I’m surprised I didn’t get deeper into the earth. My pace must have been more relaxed than I thought. What’s the rush?

As I begin eating a hastily put together turkey sandwich, I notice a strange, crunchy sensation along my teeth. It takes me a while to realize I never washed my hands, and that the sandwich I’m feasting on is covered in dirt. You would have thought I was eating in the dark, oblivious with pleasure as I am. The whole experience reminds me of when I used to get stoned in high school and not even realize I was eating until my belly felt like it would burst.

As I lay in bed at night, listening to the owls signify their territory, the soreness creeps over my body as if some slivery black thing from the forest has suddenly decided to join me in bed.

Before the sun can beat back the morning murk, I find myself standing in the hole, barefoot. I’m craving the scent of fresh earth like one would a glass of water or bite of leftovers. I remember hearing that the urge for late night/early morning snacks relates back to primitive times when man would hunt at such hours. Before the sun can catch me, I start digging and whatever ache invaded me before bed is soon gone.

On Monday I decide to delay the start of my new job. I’ve done a lot already. I’ve made enough money to afford my own home with only a modest mortgage. At the university, there was a group of important people that greeted me on Friday when I went in for a meet and greet. They were excited for me to start but, really, I can start on a Tuesday, a Wednesday, even. It’s a relaxed job, I don’t even have to call out. I just have to show up to my office and get in touch with certain professors and, well, I am an organizer, see. I’m an academic coach, I get things moving. I am important. I am a special employee, and I get to pick and choose my hours when they get to have me.

On Tuesday morning, I dig faster. I grunt with every thrust of the shovel, hacking into the dirt I now need to climb out from with an old stainless steel ladder the previous homeowners left in my garage. If I were to take a break, I would have to run my hands along the walls of fresh earth forming a dome around me. I don’t take a break. Not until I find it. I am beginning to believe the last frontier is not in the ocean like some say, nor is it really space, not until we really get out there. The very ground beneath us, there is so much to discover. It’s where all the secrets are.

I am not sure what prompted it but at one point I begin attacking the ground, not even digging anymore just stabbing, spearing the earth until my arms fling the shovel away from me like a wildly swinging crane that’s cables have been cut. On my knees, I begin plucking through the brown with just my hands. I’ve forgotten to wear gloves. My hands are raw; blood and pus soaked, yet they don’t hurt. I tumble away the clumps of brown that grow darker and richer the deeper I dig. I pick through the bottom of my pit, and there I finally find the white worm.

Like a fat pinecone gone pale, I pick it up. I cradle it to the sky, and then bring it into the light. Cupped in one hand, held in front of my face, I don’t let it leave my sight until I have left my hole behind. It is alive. It has been calling to me, all this time. It has decided to leave the soil and the dark behind. It has decided it wants to be found, and it chose me.

I set it on my dinner table and watch it come alive. There’s a colony of black dots, eyes, along one fatter end of it. It slowly rolls and wriggles until it’s facing me, as I lean close. I have not slept, I have not bathed. The flesh along my hands has been stripped and my feet are black and my toe and fingernails hang in shards. Dirt clogs my nostrils. Above all, though, I do feel, abruptly, one thing, as I stare into the worm’s many eyes. It wants one last thing from me. I pick it up, and the thing is growing warm. There’s a faint black slit below its eyes. A mouth, a little flickering blue tongue like that of a lizard. It wants more than a kiss. I raise my idol, and take a bite.

Nick Manzolillo

My short fiction has appeared in over thirty publications including Wicked Witches: A New England Horror Writers Anthology, Thuglit, Grievous Angel, and The Tales To Terrify podcast. I’ve recently earned an MFA in Creative and Professional Writing from Western Connecticut State University. By day I am a content operations specialist, editor, and writer for TopBuzz, a news app. Thank you for taking the time to consider my work for publication.

Love’s Last Kiss

The dwarves dropped the cover to the stone sarcophagus when the handsome prince rode his charger into the clearing at sunset. His horse flinched at the sound and the prince bit his tongue.

The prince dismounted, wiped his mouth, strode to the stone coffin, admired the raven haired beauty inside, and bent to wake her with a kiss.

His blood caressed her ruby lips, her eyes opened, and she smiled as her fangs extended. Her strong arms held him and her teeth slid smoothly into his neck.

He shuddered and three drops of his blood splattered her snow white cheek.

Robert Allen Lupton

Robert Allen Lupton lives in New Mexico where he is commercial hot air balloon pilot. He writes and runs every day, but not necessarily in that order.

Recent publications include short stories in the following anthologies:

Uncommon Origins
Twelve Days
Hindered Souls
Potters Field #6
Worlds Unknown #3

The novel, Foxborn, was published by West Mesa Press in April of 2017.

Other short stories are available online from “Crimson Streets”, Daily Science Fiction, and two drabbles have been published in “Trembling With Fear”.

“Running Into Trouble”, a collection of 15 fantasy, science fiction, horror, adventure, and humorous stories, all with running as a central theme, will be published in July of 2017. The novelette, Dejanna of Mars, will be published in August 2017, and the second book in the Foxborn series, ‘Here There Be Dragons,” is scheduled for February 2018.

Other short stories will be published online and in anthologies through the year. Visit Robert’s author pages on Amazon and Goodreads for more information.

Bugs

Christine swatted another spider with the newspaper. She hated them, feared them. She reckoned she’d killed thousands at her home over the years, and was proud of it.

She curled up in bed, confident she could sleep peacefully without another intruder frightening her.

The Human had killed its mate. It wanted revenge. It darted across the blanket, and dived underneath. It found the opening between her legs, and scurried inside. After a while, it delivered its package and left.

The next day, Christine felt stabbing pains below. She sat on the toilet. Screamed. Dozens of spiders ran down her legs.

Justin Boote

Justin Boote has lived for over twenty years in Barcelona, Spain, plying his trade as a stressed waiter in a busy restaurant. He has been writing horror stories for just over a year, and currently has 8 published in diverse magazines including for Lycan Valley Press, Deadlights Shotgun magazine, Zimbell House Publishing, Dark Dossier Magazine and The Horrorzine’s summer edition.

He is also a member of a private writer’s forum called The Write Practice where he has also acted as a judge on two ocassions for their contests.

He can be found at Facebook under his own name, or at [email protected].

Story’s End

Momma’s reading me a bedtime story about a princess again, but only because I begged.
The princess is beautiful like a summer day at the beach, or at least how I imagine those types of days.
Momma doesn’t allow what’s left of my skin to bathe in the sun’s glimmer.
The princess falls in love.
The prince destroys the monsters.
The freaks.
The couple lives happily ever after.
I ask Momma why don’t we ever get the happy ending?
“Because,” she says and closes her yellow eyes, “monsters don’t get happy endings, child. You know this.”
She closes the book.

Sara Tantlinger

Sara Tantlinger resides outside of Pittsburgh on a hill in the woods. She is the author of “Love For Slaughter,” has published pieces with Page & Spine, The Literary Hatchet, and the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume II, and she is a contributing editor for the Oddville Press. Find her lurking in graveyards!

You can follow her work on Amazon.

Trembling With Fear 08/27/2017

This week, we thought it was about time I introduced myself properly now that I’ve had a few weeks behind the scenes reading and responding to all your stories. Like all of you I am a writer and that was what brought me initially to this wonderful site roughly 3 years ago. It was here that I found the majority of submission calls for various magazines and anthologies resulting in over 20 short stories published – to my ongoing amazement – and, as I am not the most prolific writer due to work and family pressures, I take this as a pretty good success rate. In addition, my first novella length story will soon be published in another anthology, again found at Horror Tree. And that is why I am here, it is my way of giving back to a site which has been invaluable in developing my writing career, not only in terms of submission calls but in the supportive articles which I refer back to when I need motivation when that horrible writer’s curse of self-doubt creeps in. I’ve been chuffed to bits (def. = pleased, UK) that others have supported TWF by sending us their flash pieces and drabble, and I have tried to be as supportive and helpful as I can with my responses. I know so well how frustrating it is to get a rejection and then have no idea why and as long as time allows I will try and feedback in my responses. Now I’d better go and check that inbox again …

Stephanie Ellis

Trembling With Fear, Horror Tree

‘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

Notes From The God Chair

Number 4 said she hated spiders.  Fuck, will she regret that.  He wondered how long.  Probably by next shift.  Maybe they’ll wait.  But she’ll wish she hadn’t let that slip.

 

Number 6 wanted something to drink.  She begged.  She raised her voice.  He sent her into the antechamber and then had the grunts take away her stool.

 

Number 2 casually mentioned that he was born with 6 fingers on each hand.  He’d had his extra fingers cut off.  His ancestors were from the West Indies, he said, as if that explained it.  He said the extra fingers were a sign of good luck.  The man asked “Then why did you cut them off?”  Number 2 had no answer.  Per the ordinance, the temperature increased 30 degrees.

 

Number 3 asked him to talk to her, about anything.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

The man was excited because this morning he’d tried a new way to work, and it had saved him 10 minutes.  On the 705.  Go figure, he thought.  On the map, that route looked like it went far out of the way.  The system never even suggested it.  But he tried it and he beat the system.  It made him feel good.  Empowered.

 

At the beginning of every shift, the man checked the envelope that waited for him by the chair.  Nothing out of the ordinary today.

 

He sat in the dark, watching the monitors.  An entire wall of them.  Different angles of the subjects crying and screaming.  Having deep dark existential crises, and sometimes simply experiencing normal everyday crises.  It was like having forty-eight windows into Hell.

 

While spending long hours in the dark room, at times he would begin to nod off.  Then he’d snap awake, terrified that someone might discover he’d fallen asleep. Two curators had been removed for “inefficacy,” never to be seen again.  Thankfully, the screaming kept him awake.

 

The man watched Number 7 and Number 9 as they were forced to assemble furniture in their respective cells.  At least they thought it was furniture.  The one who finished first got a sandwich and the other one got the fog.  As they nailed and screwed the bulky frustrating pieces together, they came to realize that they were building coffins.

 

He asked Number 8 if she had the chance, would she let Number 4 go.  Number 8 asked why.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

“If you press that button, someone gets hurt.”

 

No response.  Just the hollow eyes, not knowing where to look.

 

“If you press that button twice, someone gets seriously hurt.  But you get ice cream.”

 

“I don’t want to press the button.”

 

“Then no ice cream.”

 

“I don’t care.  Fuck you.”

 

Then there was Number 8…

 

“If you press that button, someone gets hurt.”

 

“Alright.”

 

“If you press that button twice, someone gets seriously hurt.  But you get ice cream.”

 

“I don’t like ice cream.  What happens if I press it three times?”

 

“What would you like to happen?”

 

“Can I choose who gets hurt?”

 

The man had grown to like this Number 8.  He wondered how long she would be around.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Number 3 is gone after an extended breakdown.  She kept repeating that she wanted an apple.  She screamed for the apple.  When she was a girl, her mom used to give her an apple after school.  All she wanted was an apple.  An apple.  The episode began before lunch and was still going on when he got back, only at a much more shrill pitch.  Number 3 was done.  They carried her brain-fried remains from the cell.

 

The man found himself watching Number 8 more than the others.  He knew he wasn’t allowed to do that, but he couldn’t help it.  He was alarmed to discover that he was doing it without realizing it.  He silently promised himself to correct that in the future.  But he didn’t.  He was fascinated by Number 8…what she did when she wasn’t doing anything.

 

Number 1 isn’t moving.  The man wasn’t sure if she was still responsive.  Sometimes they just shut down for a time.

 

The man told Number 8 that she was the only one who never asked about the voice, and the person who spoke to them.  The man asked her why.  Number 8 simply shrugged.  The man told her the rules stated that no answer meant a 30 degree temperature change, either hot or cold.  Number 8 just grinned.

 

He didn’t put in for the temperature change.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

The veins on Number 2’s forehead were bulging.  It seemed like they’d been that way since this morning, and the man wasn’t sure what to make of it.  It looked bad, like his head might explode, or he was on the verge of experiencing some type of aneurism.

 

Number 2 didn’t seem more agitated than his normal state of perpetual agitation.  The man didn’t think he’d ever seen Number 2 smile.  The man asked Number 2 about the worst smell he had ever smelled.  The brief from the envelope instructed this, in hopes of finding a smell even worse for the person.

 

Number 2 said that the worst smell he’d ever smelled was the fur of a manicou being burnt off.  The man inquired further, and learned that a manicou is an animal like a possum.  In Trinidad, people put manicous into a fire to burn off their fur after they’re dead.  Then they can cook and eat them.  They say the manicou’s fur being scorched off is the worst smell in the world.

 

There were alligators in the river where Number 2 played as a child.  He had to dodge them while he played.  Number 2 seems like the toughest one in this batch, the one who’s lived the hardest life.  This would probably lead most people to bet on Number 2 to outlast the others, but the man had been here long enough to know that things rarely worked out that way.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

When they were begging, he almost wanted to inform them that there was very little he could do.  He couldn’t question what was in the envelope next to the chair.  He followed the rules just like everyone else.  He had to.

 

The man turned up the white noise so none of them would realize he was gone while he ran to the bathroom.  It would be about 3 minutes.  It had never been a problem.

 

Shit.  Someone else has lost it.  Every fucking time he leaves the goddamn chair.  These screams had that distinctive last stage pitch.  Number 5.  But he’s hitting his head against the wall, which sadly for him, is not a valid way out, according to the big book.  The man put in for the sedation of Number 5.  Someone needs a rest.  Then the process will continue.

 

The room is dark, except for the small reading light by the God Chair, like a tiny beacon on the black sea.

 

Number 2 is making a stand.  He’s naked, and he’s yelling.  Oh Number 2, that’s so you, the man smiled, watching Number 2 punch the mirror and walls while defiantly shouting.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

The coffee was foul.  This whole area was disgusting.  The grunts never cleaned the area around the folding table with the horrible white powder that’s supposed to be milk.  They call it “hazelnut” to try to hide the fact that it tastes like freeze-dried human carcasses.  It doesn’t taste like hazelnut, and it doesn’t seem anything like milk.  Even if it did taste like hazelnut, like this world has seen an actual hazelnut in decades, the man didn’t want any flavoring at all.

 

The girl was starting her shift.  The man smiled at her with his eyes down and they made pleasant small talk in the dark corner.  He liked the girl, but he only saw her in passing when their schedules sometimes crossed.

 

The girl smiled.  Her eyes met his for a fleeting moment, “Sometimes I wonder if we’re the ones they’re really watching…”

 

Number 7 pulled off her own fingernail with her teeth.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

He tried yet another new way to work this morning, a variation of his recent experiments.  He took Cedar Road to a small street called Thorne which led him right onto the 705.  Taking the 705 saved him almost 10 minutes, again.  That was the third time this week.

 

The man was excited, because he thought he’d found his new way to work.

Steve Bevilacqua

Steve Bevilacqua is an author and screenwriter.  He has produced lots of TV shows for places like IFC and Vh1.  A web series that he wrote and directed was nominated for a 2016 Primetime Emmy (Best Short Form Series – it lost.)  Steve is a longtime resident of Venice, CA. 

Bloodlust

She was born a predator, easily catching mice and other pests. She had the skills, but spent most of her time playing, throwing them in the air and holding them in her teeth. There was a simple solution for that: starvation. Let the girl go hungry. Teach her that hunting wasn’t about fun.

Soon, our walls were mouse free. She’d even patrol the garden for squirrels. Once, she took down a groundhog.

I suppose I should’ve stopped her when neighborhood pets disappeared. Someone called the police.

The police are coming, but the blood will never wash from my daughter’s teeth.

Kevin Holton

Kevin Holton is the writer behind all sorts of work, ranging from dozens of short stories, to a variety of poems, and even a co-written screenplay. He also dabbles in book-length works, and has a YouTube channel reading some of his shorter pieces. When not writing, he’s a gamer, actor, athlete, and coffee enthusiast who probably likes Batman too much.

You can find out more about his work at www.kevinholton.com and support him at www.Patreon.com/TheHoltoning or www.amazon.com/author/KevinHolton.

Sympathy Dish

The widow Lady Adrianna was a woman of exotic tastes. She liked organ meats. Fermented fish entrails in Thai curry, cervelle de veau for calf’s brains, and sweetbreads of lamb pancreas. I ached to sample the mix of flesh and elixirs from her lips. Her husband’s palate was too simple, but he was lean like well-bred swine. After he died, I brought the Lady a sympathy dish. “It’s veal heart,” I said as we dined together. My eyes focused on her pale throat as she ingested the meat, complimented its tenderness. She bit into her husband’s heart again. Swallowed. Smiled.

Sara Tantlinger

Sara Tantlinger resides outside of Pittsburgh on a hill in the woods. She is the author of “Love For Slaughter,” has published pieces with Page & Spine, The Literary Hatchet, and the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume II, and she is a contributing editor for the Oddville Press. Find her lurking in graveyards or on Twitter!

In The Woods – On The Hunt

The sound of the crunching leaves could wake the dead. Ken walked through the forest, at night, searching for it. He’d seen it earlier today. It’s unmistakable dank, musky smell could make anyone puke. That smell would give it away at night. His rifle’s strap dug into his shoulder.

Leaves rustled in the distance. Something else was out there. He pointed the flashlight in the direction of the sound. He detected the same smell. It’s close. He readied his rifle. He heard a deep grunt from behind. He turned in time to see Sasquatch rear its arm back and swing.

Pernell Rogers

Pernell Rogers is a product of the supernatural world. In his mind, the real world isn’t real at all. All human motivation is based on fear, and it’s that fear that he tries to expose in his writings.

You can follow his work on Smash Words.

Trembling With Fear 08/20/2017

Thanks to Steph, we’re pretty well caught up on what has currently hit our inbox! Ideally, by the time this goes out everyone who had sent something in prior to this last Monday should have heard back in one way or another. As always, we could use more drabble but we’re at least a bit further out and more organized than we’ve previously been!

Things are looking up!

‘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

Arrogance

My mind argues that I didn’t know.  How could I know that reading the book would actually end the world?  But no.  Let’s not lie.  I am a man of science.  I have lived my entire life logically, and have made it a point to refuse being ruled by superstition or emotion.  I have challenged and successfully debunked mystics, soothsayers, and all manner of supernatural mumbo jumbo without any real effort.  So when I saw the book on the shelf in the used bookstore, how could I not read it?  How could I not challenge it?  There has not been a single time in my life when I have not been able to disprove the proposed “truths” of the gullible and the foolish.  I suppose this would be pride then, wouldn’t it?  Pride is listed among the seven deadly sins after all.

No!  No.  I will not give in to this.  Even now.  Even… at the end.

The book was sitting all by itself.  No other copies.  “The end of all that is” the book’s title read.  And the author was listed simply as, “I AM.”  Please.

I purchased the book, brought it home, and sat down in my study to read it.  Opening the book I was insulted.  Ink dark enough to be the void of space, printed on a page so white that it seemed to glow; but as if it were written for children, only a single phrase was printed in the middle of that page.  “A storm shall come.”

I rolled my eyes.  Storm season was already upon us, and we’d been promised a big storm this very evening.  So I thought nothing of it as the wind began to blow.  Each page that I turned revealed only another, single, solitary sentence.  They described the storm covering the world, along with earthquakes, and flame.  I live in Los Angeles.

The earthquake didn’t surprise me, and we have wildfires of varying intensity every year.  I was fairly certain there’d already been a wildfire burning when I began reading, so to smell it’s smoke did not overly bother me.  I listened for sirens telling me to clear out of the area, and hearing none, I went back to reading.  The fact that these things occurred while I was reading the book meant nothing more than coincidence.  But as I continued reading about men on horses, and clashing forces of good or evil, I began hearing things I could neither explain, nor discount as coincidence.  Horses are common enough in this area, but the screams of my neighbors are not.

I read on, determined to prove the book wrong, and I heard homes stripped from their foundations, saw the detritus which used to be the world I knew fly past my parlor windows; and all of it backlit by the flames of annihilation.  I felt the tremors of giant footsteps, and heard things which do not sound or smell human enter my house.  Part of me suspects that they may well be behind me as I speak; smiling, reading over my shoulder, waiting for me to turn.  Stopped from taking their action only by the fact that I haven’t read their actions yet.

There is nothing beyond my windows now.  I hear a low wind whistling past the place where my stairs used to be.  I’ve turned to the last page, but I won’t read the last word.  I can’t.  I know what it says, and can see it’s shape even through my tears.

“Die.”

“End”

Bryan Nickelberry

Bryan Nickelberry is a short story writer raised in the rain water of the Pacific Northwest. He searches in bookstores, under rocks, and through people for stories, and now he’s begun to tell his own. Some of the anthologies he can be found in are on Amazon, and Smashwords.

The Countess

Today, my servant brought me the youngest meat I ever dined on.

I remove layers of skin and fat, my sharpest knife easily cleaves through, until I have a whole cut of meat, the rump being the sweetest.

Blood seeps from every orifice but I need not worry, china bowls are there to collect the delicious crimson fluid, which I insist is warm before I bath in it. What I despise are the muffled screams these girls expel when their meat is carved to the bone. I am so damn mad… I slice their pretty little necks wide open. Ha!

D.J. Doyle

D.J. Doyle is a horror / thriller author with a published novel, The Celtic Curse: Banshee, and novelette, Hades’ Gate both available on Amazon.

If you would like to know more about D.J. Doyle and other projects she is working on, please click the links below. D J Doyle Website

Picture Perfect

His photos were famous. Traveling anywhere he pleased, people rarely questioned a man with a camera and confidence. Most found it flattering to have a professional take their picture. They had no idea. No one ever did. He enjoyed immortalizing moments in his photos; keeping them safe from the passage of time. It was the dimming light in their eyes, as death claimed them, that he savored the most; even more exciting than finding, taking, and killing them. In every city he obsessively roamed the streets, looking for the next person to add to his collection. His picture perfect someone.

Catherine Berry

Catherine Berry lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. When she isn’t working, she’s spending time with loved ones or satisfying her varied hobbies. Her work has previously been published in Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear.

More of her work can be found at www.caterinaberyl.blogspot.com

Roadkill

He waited on the side of the road for a ride back to college. For every car that sped past he hoped the next one would stop to pick him up.

As evening strong armed the light, his chances for a ride waned. He knew no one would pick up a stranger in the dark.

Who could blame them?

Scary people are out there.

With luck on his side, a car stuffed with college kids stopped.

He hopped inside but scrutinized each smiling face, making sure there wasn’t a serial killer in the bunch.

There wasn’t.

But there was now….

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”.
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 Anthology to be released. Her collection of short stories, Arithmophobia, will be out in the Fall of 2017.
Ruschelle lives in Johnstown with her husband Ed and the numerous critters they share their home with. When she isn’t writing, she can be found teaching guitar and performing vocals and guitar in the band Ribbon Grass Acoustic Group.
Stalk her on:

Trembling With Fear 08/13/2017

‘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

Anything Storage

Rosalyn raised her open palm again. “Our customers’ business is their business.”

Ellis rubbed his cheek and didn’t look up. “I know, but yesterday I smelled something around unit forty-one.”

“You and your thoughts and notions and allergies.” Rosalyn lowered her hand. “Wearin’ a flannel long-sleeve shirt and straw hat in this heat is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. And you look more the fool wearing that faded yellow bandanna over your nose and mouth.”

“The smell is like that of something dead,” Ellis said. “I think we should at least speak to the person—”

Rosalyn backhanded Ellis. “People pay us to store stuff. It’s our living. Not our business to ask questions.”

Ellis raised his head and looked eye to eye with his older sibling, one of the few times he ever had. “But our business is our business.”

Rosalyn flexed her fingers and glared at Ellis. They looked at each other for several moments, then she marched out of the room. She came back with what resembled a wooden spatula.

Ellis began to rock his upper body and rub the top of his legs. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please don’t use that.”

Rosalyn had named it the Thumper. It was a fourteen-inch long piece of hand-carved oak. The handle was as bit smaller than a paper towel tube, and it had notches in it for a good grip. The business end of the Thumper fanned out and was a half-inch thick. Ball bearings had been sunk halfway into the wood. “Your job, Ellis, is to clean the units after the renter has taken everything out. Not to snoop, not to play detective.” Before he had a chance to even nod, Rosalyn went out.

Ellis grabbed his crutches, got to his feet, put his arms through the crutch cuffs, grabbed each handgrip, and made his way to the front door.

Rosalyn was in the golf cart. “Get in. A wonder you get anything at all done around here, slow as you are.”

Ellis got in and the cart jerked forward. The bottom tips of his crutches bumped along the ground as they headed to unit forty-one.

The golf cart was the one decent thing Rosalyn had done for Ellis. He had several brooms in the back, a dustpan, and a box of garbage bags.

Rosalyn stopped and got out. Ellis crinkled his nose because of the smell and reached in his shirt pocket for his bandanna. Rosalyn slapped it out of his hand. “C’mon, I got end of the month bills to get ready.”

Ellis got out.

Rosalyn stood next to a dark, gooey mass. “Get over here.”

Ellis put a dab of sunscreen on his nose and made his way to his sister. “You don’t have a hat on and the sun—”

Rosalyn snatched the tube of sunscreen and tossed it behind her in the tall grass. “First off, the renter wanted something smaller and in the shade so he’s now got unit thirty-eight.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Rosalyn shook her head. “If I spent all my time telling you every detail I’d get nothing done and we’d go broke.” She gestured. “This is what’s called a tree line.” She pointed. “That is storage unit forty-one.”

“Yes, but what about—”

“Shut up and listen. A trapper rented forty-one. That’s why I had him rent near the tree line. That’s why these guts are here. You do know what a trapper is, right?”

Ellis nodded.

Rosalyn huffed. “God help us. A wonder I’ve managed the business this long with the likes of you.” She marched over to unit forty-one and unlocked the padlock. She put the padlock in a small plastic tray that all rental units had bolted near the door.

Two steps in and she lurched forward and fell.

Ellis flipped on the light. “Rosalyn, are you all right? Let me help you.” He knelt down.

“Get away from me. I’m a grown woman.” Rosalyn, face down, tried rolling over. When she got on her left side she screamed. “My hip! I’ve gone and broke my hip thanks to you.” Her eyes fluttered shut. She moaned and went back on her stomach. “I wouldn’t have…wouldn’t have fallen in the first place if…if you’d not been so suspicious.” Rosalyn swiped at her grey-streaked light brown hair that clung to her face.

Ellis noticed the Thumper laying several feet from Rosalyn. He pulled it away with the butt end of one crutch and picked it up. “I’ve done my best to not let things get me down. I’ve gotten along pretty good since the Polio. Even when Mom and Dad split up and ended up giving you this business instead of me.” He looked at the Thumper. “Only two minutes younger than you and treated like a slave for as long as I can remember.”

His sister grunted. Her lip was swollen and her chin was bleeding.

Ellis looked at a dark spot on the floor. “You slipped on blood. I’ve said before those shoes aren’t fit for—”

Rosalyn turned her head and opened her eyes. “Shut your fool mouth! Always telling me what to do, what to wear. Damned cripples, wanting to give orders and watch everyone else do the work.”

Ellis closed his eyes for a moment. After a measured breath, he looked at the posted laminated sheet on the inside of the door. All the units had one. “At least you fell inside, out of the direct sun.”

He smiled, waited a moment, then put on his reading glasses. His smile grew wider and he began to read. “Rule one: Always turn the light out upon leaving any storage unit.”

“You’ll burn in Hell for this, Ellis!”

“Rule two: Always make sure you completely shut the storage unit door.” He did, then reopened it. “This should keep you company.” Ellis tossed the Thumper into unit forty-one. “Mind your fingers now.” He closed the door.

Rosalyn hollered. She reached forward with nothing to grip but a rough concrete floor. She put her foot against the wall and tried to push herself toward the partially-open door. “Damn you to the darkest, hottest place in Hell!”

Ellis raised his voice. “Rule three: Under no circumstances are you to leave any storage unit for any time or for any reason without locking it.” He closed the door, flipped the slotted latch over the U-bolt, slid the padlock through, and locked it.

Back home, Ellis went to his sister’s office and turned on the radio.

“…and is expected to reach ninety-eight, with a heat index of one-o-five,” the forecaster said.

“Whew, now that’s hot.” Ellis grabbed a pen and opened the daily logbook. “Storage unit forty-one occupied indefinitely.”

G. E. Smith

G. E. Smith

G. E. Smith has written gospel clown skits, script for his local junior high D.A.R.E. and PeaceBuilder programs, silly rhymed children’s verse, and horror fiction of various lengths. His lighter work has appeared in Northern Stars magazine and Nuthouse. His darker work has appeared in Dark Fire Fiction, Black Petals magazine, The Cult of Me site of Michael Brookes, The Haunted Traveler, and The Nocturnal Reader’s Box. He works in north central Illinois, where he lives with his wife Joyce.

Roses Are Red: Volume 3

The rose bush was Sarah’s pride. With reason, it had featured in many a gardening magazine, winning many prizes. Its petals were bright red, blood-red almost. The thorns; deadly. She smiled as she prepared the fertilizer. Her secret fertilizer. She mixed the ingredients, and added her special touch, leaving just a few drops for afterward.

She stopped briefly to listen to the news; another child-Shaun- had gone missing.

“Terrible shame,” she muttered.

Sprinkling the mix with the soil, she poured the drops she had saved over the petals.

The petals opened to receive them.

“Good-bye Shaun. Thank you for helping.”

Justin Boote

Justin Boote has lived for over twenty years in Barcelona, Spain, plying his trade as a stressed waiter in a busy restaurant. He has been writing horror stories for just over a year, and currently has 8 published in diverse magazines including for Lycan Valley Press, Deadlights Shotgun magazine, Zimbell House Publishing, Dark Dossier Magazine and The Horrorzine’s summer edition.

He is also a member of a private writer’s forum called The Write Practice where he has also acted as a judge on two ocassions for their contests.

He can be found at Facebook under his own name, or at [email protected].

The Twins

The twins, Tom and Lawrence, were identical in every way, except that Tom bit his nails and Lawrence twiddled his thumbs. They existed in society as one person, and the school they attended only knew of that one person–Jim–and Jim would either be Tom or Lawrence, depending on the day. While one twin was at school the other got to do whatever he wanted.

But it became problematic when Tom started to murder. Eventually, the police apprehended him, and he was subsequently thrown into prison with a life sentence.

In class, Jim would now only bite his nails.

Matthieu Cartron

Matthieu Cartron is a French American student at the University of New Mexico. He will be entering his sophomore year of college, and he writes for the New Mexico Daily Lobo.

Nest Of Bones

Up in the attic on the floorboards lies a brown feathery ball. Tattered and torn. Its blood spatters the dust. A fly lands on the bird’s glassy eye. It does not blink. Sickened I turn away.

In the neglected fireplace rests a nest. An intricately woven tangle of twigs. Inside nestle white bones. Cuddled up. I hold them gently in the palm of my hand.

Thump! Turning I see bird after bird. An unkindness of ravens. A murder of crows. Target the windows. Some get in. They fly around, cocking their heads in unison. Surrounded, I wait for the attack.

Alyson Faye

Alyson trained originally in the UK as a teacher/tutor. She wrote a couple of children’s books which were published by Collins and Ginn. Now she lives near Bronte terrain in Yorkshire with her teen son, partner and 3 rescue cats. She writes noir Flash Fiction (some of which is published on line) and spooky longer tales (3 are available for download on www.www.alfiedog). She has a collection of her Flash fiction coming out soon from Chapel Town Books in the UK. She enjoys old movies, singing, and swimming. She is a confirmed chocoholic and is still hopeless at maths. Her blog is at http://www.alysonfayewordpress.wordpress.com.

Trembling With Fear 08/06/2017

‘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

Portrait In Blood

Durston stopped momentarily to wipe the perspiration from his face with his sweat-soaked handkerchief that he kept in the palm of his hand. He glanced up at the full white moon that shimmered in the early August sky, then continued on. An eddy of dust skimmed across the road in front of him and bits of blowing plant debris and grit battered his face and collected in his nostrils, ears and on his lips. By the time he reached the concrete pathway leading to the Pfrimmer house, huge sweat stains had formed on his shirt beneath his underarms.  He pushed open the wrought iron gate and stepped through onto a narrow path blanketed with black pebbles.

At the bottom of the steps leading up to the wrap around porch he was able to form just enough spittle in his dry mouth to spit out the dirt. He looked up at the large, weather-beaten two story white house and climbed the stairs, the steps creaking beneath his dust covered shoes.

After knocking on the door he leaned his tripod against the door frame and brushed the dust from his shirt and shifted the strap of his camera bag. The bag wasn’t heavy but in the heat the pressure of the strap on his skin felt as if he were carrying a lead weight. Rivulets of perspiration ran down his face and dripped from his stringy hair.

A little girl with long blonde hair and wearing a white summer dress and white shoes opened the door.

“Who are you?” she asked, her body half hidden in the shadows of the doorway, beyond the shining light of the moon.

“I’m Durston Hansen, the photographer,” he said.

“You’re late,” the little girl said.

“My car broke down a little ways down the road,” he said. “Who are you?”

“I’m Annabella,” she said.

From a room further back in the house, a woman’s voice called out. “Who’s at the door, Annabella?”

Annabella turned and shouted, “The man is here to take our picture.”

Behind Annabella a young woman also with long blonde hair and wearing a white floor length  dress of a gauzy material appeared. She was holding a candle. The light from its flame flickered on her pale face and made her dark eyes glisten like black marbles. “I’m Mrs. Pfrimmer,” she said. “We’ve been waiting on you.”

“I’m so sorry,” Durston said. “My car broke down. It’s practically brand new. It just stopped and I couldn’t get it running again.”

“Walking that road at night can be dangerous,” she said. “Wolves roam the countryside.”

“Wolves?” Durston said with surprise.

“You’re here now,” she said. “Come in.”

Durston lifted the tripod and went into the house and turned to see the door close on its own. He followed the woman and girl into a room with a small settee with red and black cloth upholstery in the middle of the room. Burning candles were on every table and lined the mantle place over a stone fireplace where logs snapped and crackled in an intense blaze. The room smelled of smoke, though none was present, and it was as hot and moist as a sauna.

“We wish to have our family portrait taken of us together on the settee,” Mrs. Pfrimmer said. “Mr. Pfrimmer will be up from the basement momentarily.”

Durston opened the tripod and set it up facing the settee. He took his Pentax 35mm camera from the bag and screwed it onto the tripod.

The woman and little girl were watching him very closely.

“Is that the camera you used to take the portraits in the flier that was left on our porch?” Mrs. Pfrimmer said.

“Yes it is. It’s not fancy but for the kind of portraits I like to take it works great,” he said. “I don’t use digital cameras. I prefer the older models and think of my portraits as art.”

“Ours will be black and white?” she said.

“Yes, just as you requested in your letter,” he said. “I’ve already loaded the film.” He took the flash attachment out of the bag and started to slide it onto the top of the camera.

“What is that?” Mrs. Pfrimmer said.

“It’s the flash unit,” Durston said. “Even when you turn the lights on the flash may be needed. I prefer natural lighting and may not use the flash at all but I have it just in case I need it.”

Mrs. Pfrimmer shook her boney index finger in his face. “Light other than from flames isn’t allowed in this house at night,” she said.

Durston looked around the room. Shadows of the flickering flames danced on every wall. “I guess there’s enough light,” he said. He put the flash attachment back into his bag and wiped his face with his sweat-drenched handkerchief. “Could I get a glass of water?”

“We have no running water,” Mrs. Pfrimmer said.

“No running water?” Durston said.

A door at the end of the room burst open. A cloud of dust and the smell of sulfur billowed out making the candle flames quiver on the wicks. A tall man with a gaunt face and shoulder length black hair and wearing a tuxedo stepped out. He looked at Durston and smiled. “You’re not married, you’re twenty six years of age and you spend many nights at the bar,” he said.

A chill ran up Durston’s spine. “How do you know that?”

“I know everything. I’m Jackson Pfrimmer,” he said, crossing to Durston as if blown there by a breeze. He held out his hand for Durston to shake.

Durston took the man’s hand and immediately pulled it away. He looked at the palm of his hand expecting to see it frozen.

“Shall we have our family portrait taken now?” Jackson said.

“Yes, please, if we can,” Durston said nervously.

The husband and wife sat on the settee with Annabella sitting between them. They stared at the camera, their faces like stone.

“Say cheese,” Durston said as he bent down and put his eye to the viewfinder.

“What is cheese?” Annabella said.

Durston began taking shots.

*

In his photo lab, Durston staggered backward against the enlarger. Clipped to a line above the table with the development trays were the enlargments of the portraits taken of the Pfrimmer family. In the black and white photographs, bright red blood dripped from two fangs bared by each of them. The white dresses of Mrs. Pfrimmer and Annabella were spotted with blood. These weren’t the pictures he remembered taking at all.

He raised his hand and put it on the side of his neck and felt three separate pairs of puncture wounds.

THE END

Steven Carr

Steven Carr

Steve Carr began his writing career as a military journalist and has had over seventy short stories published internationally in print and online magazines, literary journals and anthologies. His plays have been produced in several states. He was a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee. He lives in Richmond, Virginia and writes full time.

Guilty

Three rings to voicemail and an email response. A paper trail; that’s all they’ll get from me. That way I can choose my words carefully. I can answer those questions with the kind of precision it takes to stay one step ahead.

Paranoid? I don’t think so. This is all submissible in court; every word, every passing conversation might be splayed open to scrutiny. It never hurts to be cautious. This watched pot will never boil.

What do I have to hide? I can’t tell you that, out in the open where any passing dolt might hear, now can I?

Sarah Doebereiner

Sarah Doebereiner is a short story author from Central Ohio. For the past year, she has worked with Claren Books as their editor. Macabre themes fascinate her because of their tendency to stay with readers long after the book closes, but the joy in short fiction is the opportunity to try out all kinds of genres. You can follow her work on Amazon.

Lightning Need Only Strike Once

The storm closed in while Peter was cutting the grass in the back paddock.
When it roars, head indoors echoed in his mind, so he made a beeline for the house. As Peter headed back, there was a crack and a flash from above.
He flinched, but kept running.
Reaching the house, Peter heard a scream from indoors.
His wife.
Alarmed, he reached for the door, amazed when his hand passed through the wood. The rest of his body followed.
Peter didn’t have to look back to see the crumpled shape lying the grass.
He’d already guessed what had happened.

R. J. Meldrum

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

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

You can find out more about RJ at his homepage.

Just Right

The three bears came home and found a golden haired girl asleep in Baby Bear’s bed. Someone had eaten their porridge and broken one of their chairs.

Mama Bear pulled a blonde hair from Papa Bear’s whiskers. She shook the girl awake. “Is this that cheap hussy that you’ve been seeing while I hibernate?”

The girl said, “Hi Papa”, and the big bear smashed the girl’s head before she could say another word. “I’ve never seen this one before.”

Baby Bear thought she tasted too tough. Mama Bear thought she tasted too stringy. Papa Bear thought she was just right.

Robert Allen Lupton

Robert Allen Lupton lives in New Mexico where he is commercial hot air balloon pilot. He writes and runs every day, but not necessarily in that order.

Recent publications include short stories in the following anthologies:

Uncommon Origins
Twelve Days
Hindered Souls
Potters Field #6
Worlds Unknown #3

The novel, Foxborn, was published by West Mesa Press in April of 2017.

Other short stories are available online from “Crimson Streets”, Daily Science Fiction, and two drabbles have been published in “Trembling With Fear”.

“Running Into Trouble”, a collection of 15 fantasy, science fiction, horror, adventure, and humorous stories, all with running as a central theme, will be published in July of 2017. The novelette, Dejanna of Mars, will be published in August 2017, and the second book in the Foxborn series, ‘Here There Be Dragons,” is scheduled for February 2018.

Other short stories will be published online and in anthologies through the year. Visit Robert’s author pages on Amazon and Goodreads for more information.

Trembling With Fear 07/30/2017

Finally some news, we have a new assistant editor for the Trembling With Fear portions of the website! Stephanie Ellis has signed on to help out and so far things have been going amazingly well. We’re ahead on drabbles and things are *gasps* organized! She’s been a huge help so far and as long as this continues we’ll be able to make some of the changes I’m hoping for next year to expand!

‘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

Now I Lay Me Down

Cali finished her last gulp of milk before climbing into bed. After downing a mug of her own, Evelyn slid under the covers next to her five-year-old daughter and blew out the candle on the nightstand.

The milk made Cali sleepy. But she wanted to talk.

“Mommy when will the lights come back on?”

Evelyn could hear the tracks of the tanks in the distance chewing through the rubble.

Closing her eyes Evelyn whispered, “I don’t know.”

Cali reached under the blankets for her dirty but well-loved stuffed dog and kissed its frayed nose. She offered it to her mom.

“Candy wants a goodnight kiss.”

Evelyn heaved open her eyes and gave the ragged dog a half-hearted kiss before tucking it between them both under the blankets.

Cali yawned but continued chatting, fighting the urge to sleep.

“Will daddy be home tonight? He said he’d be home soon. ”

Evelyn brushed a stray blonde hair from her daughter’s forehead.

“I don’t know,” she sighed

The pillow under Evelyn’s head was worn and flat. She attempted to fluff it anyway. Cali helped plump the broken feathers before pulling out a particular one that had poked through the threadbare cotton. She rubbed the down against her nose, followed by a playful move to tickle her mom’s nose.

“Do you think I could play outside tomorrow?”

Evelyn snatched the feather from her tiny fingers and twirled it in her own.

“Just for a little bit,” Cali pressed.

But before Evelyn could open her mouth to answer, the room shook from the mortar fire.

Covering her daughters head as a thin layer of dirt and dust gushed through the house’s broken windows, Evelyn heard the men’s voices and knew they would be on their street soon. She hoped the barricade against the door would hold for just a little while longer.

“Mommy, Candy’s scared. It’s really dark in here tonight.” Cali whispered as she snuggled against her mom and kissed her cheek.

“Is this what it’s like to be dead?” she whimpered.

“I don’t know honey.”

Evelyn fumbled under the covers for a small handgun she had tucked in the pocket of her nightgown.

As her daughter breathed soft and steady the milk finally taking effect, Evelyn fought through her own milk induced haze.

She could hear the men and war machines outside her door as she pulled back the hammer.

“But tonight we’re going to find out.”

Ruschelle Dillon

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”.
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 Anthology to be released. Her collection of short stories, Arithmophobia, will be out in the Fall of 2017.
Ruschelle lives in Johnstown with her husband Ed and the numerous critters they share their home with. When she isn’t writing, she can be found teaching guitar and performing vocals and guitar in the band Ribbon Grass Acoustic Group.
Stalk her on:

Exit

Now traffic news: there’s been an accident on the A45.

Oh-oh, Jason mumbled to himself.

A truck crashed into a car right before the exit to Birmingham.

Great, that’s my exit.

Witnesses say the car just stalled, as if it broke down suddenly. The truck behind it couldn’t          avoid the crash. The right lane is now temporarily closed.

That’s strange. There’s no traffic jam.

The driver of the car didn’t survive the collision.

Okay, I’m nearing the exit. There’s no sign that anything just happened here. It’s – wait, why’s my oil light blinking all of a sudden?

Oh, shit.

Bart Van Goethem

Bart Van Goethem. Micro and flash fiction writer. Drummer. Addict (Real Racing 3). You can find out more about Bart at his homepage.

The Day Was Hot The River Inviting

Joe was warned not to but the day was hot and the river inviting. He plunged straight in. Coolness quickly turned to tingling, followed by burning, and before he knew it his body was dissolving. His feet and lower half went first, then his torso, until only his head remained. It bobbed up and down on the water’s surface, drifting with the current, eventually washing up on the riverbank joining the row of other heads. Some must have been there a while. All looked in various stages of decomposition, yet for some strange reason, they were all totally compost mentis.

CR Smith

CR Smith is a student of Fine Art. She splits her time between art and writing and is aiming to combine the two at some stage. Her work has appeared both online and in print and she has a story in The Infernal Clock.

You can find examples of her work here https://crsmith2016.wordpress.com and https://www.instagram.com/smith.cr/

Hunting Him Down

As you spot the lusty beast through your rifle scope, the wolf howls at the full moon. It’s a wail of pain. You lift your finger from the trigger as its face contorts. Squinting through the lens, you see brown hair fall away like a porcupine shooting its quills, pointed ears curling down into lazy lobes. The creature tumbles in the soil and then stands erect, dirty, but bathed naked in moonlight. You wonder if the silver bullet you made from your ring will kill the monster or if you’d only be murdering the man.

Your prodigal fiancé waves hello.

Michael A. Arnzen

Michael A. Arnzen (http://gorelets.com) recently appeared in The Year’s Best Hardcore Horror (Comet Press, 2017) with his catalog of morbid fantasies, “55 Ways I’d Prefer Not to Die.”  A recording of “Vampire Stories: Live from Transylvania” has also been published to http://arnzen.bandcamp.com.  Arnzen holds four Bram Stoker Awards for his dark fiction and poetry. He teaches full-time in the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University, near Pittsburgh, PA.  His creative horror newsletter is a recipient of the Stoker — subscribe at http://eepurl.com/IY4o9. You can also check out Arnzen’ books on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2sW2uTw

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