Trembling With Fear 11/11/2018

Following on from my comment in last week’s editorial re how to encourage more from the LGBT+ community to submit their writing and, in effect, become part of the mainstream, it seems that others have also been mulling the same issue. Jim Mcleod of Ginger Nuts of Horror fame has been thinking along the same lines, although much more deeply, and to that extent declared January would be LGBT+ at Ginger Nuts of Horror and put out a call for others to join in. Horror Tree is linking up with Jim’s campaign and one of the things we have agreed to do at TWF is to run an LGBT+ Special in January (no need to wait until June!). So, if you are a dark speculative fiction writer (remember we publish fantasy and sci-fi as well as horror) identifying as LGBT+ send us your drabbles and flashes (500-1500 words but we can be a little bit flexible), serials (installments of 1500 words) and dark poetry. As with all other work published on TWF, these submissions will also be included in our yearly anthology.

I would like to say, however, that I really would like to see such submissions as a matter of routine and not just as part of a ‘Special’, although I think January would provide a great showcase and get the ball rolling.

For more details, and if you would like to get involved in Ginger Nuts of Horror LGBT+ Month in January, visit http://gingernutsofhorror.com/horror-promotion/ginger-nuts-of-horror-wants-to-diversify. Jim is also on twitter @GNHorror.

Christmas! Ugh, far too early to be thinking about it – currently having the annual family argument about when decorations should go up, youngest thinks 1st December, Me? Well, let’s just say I subscribe to the ’12 days’ tradition although as always we compromise. (Eldest is generally unimpressed with Xmas as it is her birthday on Christmas Day.) But this does bring us to TWF’S Christmas special and as well as still accepting Christmas stories, we would just like to say we are loosening the word limit just a touch, accepting stories up to 2500 words in length.

Speaking of the festive season (smooth link or what!), let me plug an anthology here 12 Dark Days: One Hell of a Christmas which contains stories loosely based on each line of a certain carol. Edited by Dean Drinkel and in which I had to do something with 10 Lords-a-Leaping, the stories are all horribly good fun.) And of course, there’s the Trembling With Fear Year 1 anthology – still doing well on Amazon. Remember to leave a review when you get the chance.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

The holiday season is rapidly approaching and with it is the time left to send in holiday fiction! I apologize for the short comments this week, I’m massively behind this week and need to get back to scheduling posts and whatnot! 😉

‘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 Box

I woke into a world of blackness.  Stifling, compressed blackness.  The air was dying as I gulped at it.  I was on my back.  My arms rose, my fingers searched, found wood.  My feet kicked out.  They struck wood too.

I remembered.  I was in a coffin.  Buried deep underground.

After they fried me in the chair, they buried me in the jail yard.  Not that I was dead.  People like me, with black souls, we live forever.

The judge said I was the worst he’d ever met.  Cruel, vicious, with no remorse.

Remorse?  Why would I feel remorse?  I killed only one man, and that was when I was crazy mad on ice.  I enjoyed driving the knife into his chest, cutting out his heart, planting the red shiny throbbing meat on his face.  No, I couldn’t feel remorse.

I wasn’t dead … the thought kept buzzing in my brain.

I was alive, in a box, underground, no hope of escape.  Hey, who said no hope of escape?  I had to get out.  Like, if I was alive I couldn’t stay down here forever.  My fingers dug at the wood.  My nails scratched, scratched, scratched.  I sucked out the splinters, spat them away, kept clawing.

Perspiration sprouted on my face.  It trickled into my eyes, down my cheeks, down my neck.

How long would the oxygen last in the box?

I kicked up hard with my feet, again and again.  I figured if I could smash a hole in the coffin, then I could claw my way up through the soil.  But the wood was hard.  It didn’t give, didn’t budge.  I tasted salt in my mouth, the sweat was pouring out of my skin.

I sucked at the air.  I could still breathe.  I was sealed in a box but I could still breathe.  Hey, maybe it was someone’s idea of torture.  First they fry you, then they put you in a box where the air never runs out.  Shit!  Now I was kicking harder, harder.  My toes were in agony.   I curled them over to lessen the pain, kept on kicking.  My hands were up now, my fingers scratching, clawing, scraping.  The splinters went in deeper under my nails.  I sucked them out.  They felt as long as toothpicks.  I spat them away, tasting blood mixed in with the salty sweat.

I figured they wouldn’t put a murderer in a fancy coffin.  Like, the coffin would be made of really cheap wood, right?  So I kept kicking.  Then I used my fists, pounding on the wood above my head.  I had superhuman strength.  I lashed out, fists and feet.  Sooner or later the wood would split.  Once it did, I could force my way out and claw my way to the surface.

The wood was solid as steel.

A voice laughed beside me.

“Well, Kincaid, together again.”

I punched the air with one hand, struck flesh.  I recognized the voice.  It was Webster, the man I’d murdered.

“What are you doing here?” I screamed.

“Those of us who die innocent, we get to make requests.  I asked to spend the rest of eternity with you, Kincaid, in your coffin.”

“Why?”

In the darkness I felt Webster’s body turning toward me.  I felt his hands groping my neck, my face, exploring its way down my body.  I tried to push him away.  I had no strength.  He shifted even closer.  His breath was foul on my face.  “Relax, Kincaid.  There’s nothing you can do.  We’re going to be in this box together for all time.  Now it’s my time to be a little crazy…”

Mike Rader

James Aitchison is an Australian poet and author.  He writes noir fiction and horror under the pseudonym Mike Rader.  As James Lee, his children’s horror stories have sold more than three million copies in Asia.  Visit his publisher’s website: www.flameoftheforest.com

 

Dead Ringer

“You look just like my late wife.”

She pocketed his money.  He wasn’t the first to seek out the doppelganger of a lost love.  She didn’t care.  They paid, she provided the service.

“That’s nice love.  What do you want?”

She hoped it was just conversation.  Sometimes that was all the widowers wanted.  She was tired, sore.

“I miss her so much.  I wish she was back with me again.”

She watched as he reached into his pocket.  He pulled out a knife.

“I wish she was here so I could kill her again.  You will make a good substitute.”

RJ Meldrum

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.

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

The Drabble

“What are you doing now?!”

“I’m writing a drabble to submit to Horror Tree.”

“So, basically nothing!’

She slams the bedroom door.

Jason stares at his computer screen.

He types:

After thirteen years of marriage, his wife had grown to hate him.

From his desk, he removes a small, plastic bag filled with white powder, a gift from his co-worker Fred.

“If you mix it with her wine, she won’t wake up,” Fred said.

“For the night?” he asked.

“Forever,” Fred replied.

Jason stops typing, his eyes now staring at the small, plastic bag of white powder on his desk.

Lionel Ray Green

Lionel Ray Green is a writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. His short stories have appeared in the anthologies “Fifty Flashes,” “How Beer Saved the World 2,” “Graveyard,” “Frightening,” “Tales from the Grave,” “In Creeps the Night,” and “22 More Quick Shivers.” His work has also appeared in the 2017 issue of “From the Depths” and on the Horror Tree website (“Trembling with Fear,” Jan. 14 and Jan. 28, 2018).

https://lionelraygreen.wordpress.com/

Word Of Mouth

Ezra regarded himself as a craftsman, catering to a specialist market. His raw materials lay on the granite-topped trestle table:- baby pearlies, a bloody wisdom, cider-stained molars. He tenderly polished a canine with a white linen cloth.
A pair of glossy incisors dangled from silver chains. Bespoke order from a Slovakian billionaire.
Ezra ran his fingertips over a filigree gold necklace, set with minute baby teeth. Tricky to source.
He collected his pliers and hunting knife, stowing them in his Nike backpack. Locking the basement door he headed out into the city’s underbelly.
There were pressing orders to be filled.

Alyson Faye

Alyson lives in West Yorkshire with her family and 3 rescue cats. She teaches creative writing classes, writes noir Flash Fiction and ghost stories. She is one of the writers in ‘Women in Horror Annual 2’, in Raging Aardvark’s ‘Twisted Tales’, her stories can be downloaded at www.alfiedog.com as well as being available on various sites like zeroflash/Tubeflash/101 words/three drops from a cauldron. Her flash fiction debut collection, ‘Badlands’ is out now from indie publisher Chapeltown Books – here’s the interview http://www.chapeltownpublishing.uk/2018/01/badlands-by-alyson-faye.html and is available to buy from amazon.

You can find out more on her blog- www.alysonfayewordpress.wordpress.com

or at her amazon author page http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01NBYSLRT

Trembling With Fear 11/04/2018

Firstly, slightly belated Happy Halloween Birthday wishes to contributor and stalwart supporter of all in the horror field, G.A. Miller. Hope you had a great day and more treats than tricks and congratulations too on the publication of your novella, Spirit of the Dead (available on amazon).  Congratulations too, to Lionel Ray Green on winning Writer-Writer.com’s Halloween themed Short Story Competition with Scarecrow Road. It’s great seeing our writers appear increasingly in wider writing circles and doing so well.

This week it’s more about reading than writing (although not for much longer!). I’ve done a bit of reading lately, partly to put a dent in my TBR pile but also to make the most of the last of my supposedly ‘free’ evenings for at least three quarters of November. With NaNoWriMo looming, I’m not going to get too much of a chance to do a lot more. This bit of time however has allowed me to enjoy Dave Jeffery’s novella Bad Vision (one of the books I picked up at FantasyCon and smuggled into my house without my kids noticing) which created characters you grew to care about and then twisted them in an unexpected way at the end. Check it out here https://amzn.to/2PzAmnz. Jeffery also writes YA and I will be getting round to his Beatrice Beecham book at some point (having read a related short story) to see about getting it for my school library which brings me to something else, an insider hint for YA writers. I’ve been sharing some horror stories with students in the library and if you write YA horror or horror for teens, I can tell you they love the Red Eye series (published by Little Tiger Press), favourites being Sleepless, Frozen Charlotte and Fir; another favourite (although definitely for upper school) is Amy Lukavics, all her books are regularly borrowed. Some of these titles I found via http://gingernutsofhorror.com/young-blood.html. The recommendations given there have been spot on, so as a source of information for those who want to write YA horror, you can’t go wrong by picking up some of the books they discuss. I just happen to be lucky in that I can buy them as part of my day job!

For those of you writing for TWF, remember we are after stories for our Christmas edition. Don’t worry about any dates you may see on the submission page at present, send them in so we can make it a bumper edition this year. How about Christmas horror from times gone by? YA Christmas horror? LGBT+ Horror? The latter is actually something we need to include more of. With my students I’m developing a section of books for them in the library and apart from those dealing with modern day relationships, there are few genre type stories with LGBT+ main characters. I’m sure there are other areas in terms of diversity as well which we should include – and will include – provided it’s a good story. Help us move away from the well-trod path – bring us horror about all and for all.

Just going to sneak in a thought here, as we have other ‘special’ editions, we could do a ‘Pride’ special during June. Not mentioned this to Stuart yet! 😊

The Trembling With Fear Year 1 anthology has been holding a steady position in the amazon charts and it’s great to see the paperback is now firmly out there as well. The book has already received 3 5-star reviews, so if you pick up a copy, please add your own rating – whatever that may be.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m still trying to catch up with Halloween being over and ‘Trembling With Fear: Year 1’ being released on Amazon!

Submissions have been coming in a bit slower as of late so it’s a good thing that we have most of the upcoming year scheduled as that should give us some time to really analyze everything that has come in recently. An initial response that we’ve received your work should have gone out to everyone as to what had hit our inbox by Friday so if you for some reason have a story floating around with us and haven’t heard that we’ve at least seen it PLEASE do reach out!

Also, if you have any thoughts on features we can add for fiction and helping get your work out into the world please don’t hesitate to contact us.

‘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

Zone Rouge

Father Paley trudged across the battlefield, the mud sucking at his boots, the blighted Earth trying to claim another soul. A pistol crack echoed across the desolate landscape and he paused to listen. Three hundred yards distant, spectral in the morning mist, he saw the dim shape of his Commanding Officer in similar hunched anticipation, but a moment passed with no further alarm raised and both men moved on in their solemn, silent sweep.

The day was cool but Paley sweated within his vulcanised rubber suit, condensation trickling down the inside of the pitted glass faceplate that further obscured his view. It was a blessing, in a way, the sight of so much death and destruction too great to bear unfiltered. Paley had been there in the early days, shortly after the Armistice, when the stench of decay had seemed to seep into everything, and facing what man had done to the Earth had weakened many of his colleagues to breaking point and beyond. Now, five years later, Paley was the only remaining member of the original regiment, and even he knew that it could not go on much longer.

He found the boy at the foot of a withered tree, half buried in a morass of mud and dark, gelatinous flesh that was studded with shell casings which glinted in the weak sun as the boy writhed in his shallow grave. Paley kept his distance for a moment, watching the boy and idly scratching at the back of his right hand, cursing the thick gloves that prevented him from finding any relief from his discomfort.

The boy wore a German uniform, but the sounds that issued from his straining mouth were no Earthly language. His neck twisted as he sought to face the cleric, but his eyes were gone, and his head swayed and bobbed blindly, until Paley crouched at the edge of the pit and made a soft, soothing call. The boy’s head whipped towards the sound, tendons tearing and reforming beneath the grey, beardless skin of his neck as he strained to turn towards him. His lower half, beneath the mud, quivered obscenely. Hungrily.

Paley rose, fumbled in his satchel and pulled out his service revolver. Throughout the war, stationed in nearby Ypres, he had never had cause to use it, had never even drawn it in combat; now he checked the cylinder and found that only one cartridge remained, the other five gone in service to his mission; It had been a long morning. He took another look across the field, watching for his C.O., but the boy was the only soul in sight. Satisfied, Paley pulled off first one glove, then the other, then reloaded the Webley and took a moment for a deep, satisfying scratch at his inflamed hand. It was an offence to remove any part of his suit in the Red Zone, but he was sure that he was unobserved and it was too late to worry about the other reason for keeping his gloves on.

The red welts on the back his hand seemed almost to throb in pleasure at that thought.

Paley pushed the idea away and pointed the revolver into the pit, murmuring the authorized, amended Viaticum, the Latin as alien and familiar to his ear now as the keening whine the boy gave out as he understood what was to come next and raised his arms to protect his sightless face.

Five years since the cessation of hostilities and the outbreak of peace, perhaps another three since this boy’s parents had received word of his supposed death, but still, here, in this forgotten, forbidden corner of the killing ground, he feared dying.

 

Yet in all his time in the Red Zone, day after endless day breathing the noxious, sulphurous air and trudging from one trench to the next as he tried to bring peace and surcease from suffering, Paley had never seen anything which suggested that higher thought remained. It seemed more than likely that in their transformation, under the effect of whatever hellish chemical concoction had permeated the land and warped their bodies, his charges had of necessity lost their minds, but whether it was human understanding and fear or simply the basic animal urge to exist, to continue to exist, the boy’s movements were the same. Paley saw the German pistol, the barrel protruding from a mass of congealed bone and sinew that could scarcely even be called a hand any longer. He finished the benediction, lowered his head, then fired into the boy’s sunken chest.

 

This was the closest he had yet come to battle, but it no longer scared him. What he did was an act of mercy, not war. The boy choked out a guttural bark of regret, then let his arms fall at his sides. A trickle of black, tarry blood trickled from the hole in the front of his tunic. His head lolled back and made Paley think of a frail, blind bird, struggling for each shallow breath. He holstered his Webley and carefully slid down into the pit beside the dying boy, taking the child’s misshapen hand in his own and whispering softly into his ear.

 

Across the field, listening intently, Paley’s C.O. waited for further alarm, then trudged on, satisfied.

 

A minute later, with the boy’s life over once more, Paley sighed heavily. He let the boy’s limp hand go and sat in the pit a little longer, using the barrel of his revolver to scratch at the angry red flesh on the back of his hand until the itch finally faded for a little while.

 

Then he reloaded the Webley, noted the time, date and location in his field journal and carefully eased his gloves back on, then stood carefully and climbed back up out of the pit.

 

Karl A. Russell

Karl A. Russell lives and works in the post-industrial darkness of the English North. He is a proud member of the Flashdogs online writing community, has published short fiction widely online and in some fine paper publications and is very glad to be back (again).

4 Leaf Horror

“I got you now you son-of-a-bitch!”

“It seems you have me.”

“I want my wish and your gold.”

“Is that what you think happens now?”

“I sure as hell ain’t lettin’ you go anywhere till I get somethin’.”

“What do you want?”

“I want my gold and to never be able to die.”

“Is that all?”

“Yeah.”

“As you wish.”

Magic filled the air around Marcus, he slowly rose into the air, and turned into a statue of gold. The leprechaun smiled and shrunk the statue down to pocket size. Marcus remained trapped in the tiny golden prison for eternity.

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

Bad Habits 3

The snow fell from the sky. The kids ran in delight to catch it with their open mouths. All great fun.

The snow fell all day over the town of Yarmouth and all the kids had a ball letting the cold flakes slide down their throats. It was too weak to make snowballs with.

A week later, the epidemic started. The kids first were struck with diarrhoea, vomiting. Days later they began to die. The autopsies showed abnormalities in their blood. Further tests revealed the truth, but it was too late. The flakes had been alien eggs and had hatched.

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.

Festering

He sweats a filth that makes the fetid waters of a swamp-turned-garbage-dump seem clean and pleasant by comparison, and spends his days guzzling chemical additives.

No, not sodas, nor sweets, nor processed goods. The bloated one drinks Red Dye 40 from the tap, surviving on a diet of aspartame and margarine, salivating at the mere mention of MSG.

People pay to see him, but VIPs are granted an audience. They kneel before this chemical refinery so he can stroke his hand along their flesh, enraptured as it bubbles, blackens, and burns. His followers stumble off, screaming, yet oh so grateful.

E. N. Dahl

N. Dahl is a novelist and award-winning screenwriter from a shady corner of the USA. She’s the author of Nova EXE, among others, and her short work has appeared with Thunderdome Press, Transmundane Press, Sci-Phi Journal, Helios Quarterly, The Siren’s Call, The Literary Hatchet, and many others. When not reading and writing, she can probably be found doing yoga or watching horror movies.

www.facebook.com/ENDahlWriter

www.Twitter.com/ENDahlWriter

www.ENDahlWriter.com

Trembling With Fear 10/31/2018 – Happy Halloween!

‘By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes’ – Macbeth, William Shakespeare

Halloween is almost upon us. Days of fog and mist, unnerving shadows at twilight, dark nights and strange sounds feed the imagination and lend an ‘otherworldly’ feel to this time of year. It is no surprise that this is the time regarded as when the veil thins and the dead walk abroad. Since time immemorial, humans have woven stories to explain the unexplained, to reassure as well as to safely terrify. The human imagination is a greedy beast, it feeds on the elements that play not just on our fears but also on our curiosity, it takes the unseen, the unexplained and the unknown and creates its own narrative. We love the scary story knowing that as we listen, or read, we are perfectly safe. We love being led into the dark, knowing we will always return to the light. We know there are no such things as vampires or zombies or werewolves. We know ghosts do not exist but … there is always that little voice in our heads saying ‘maybe’ and that sixth sense that makes your skin crawl. So do we really know? Can you say for definite what lurks in the dark? What does your imagination tell you as that floorboard creaks and the wind howls outside? I know one thing. It tells you stories and we have a few here …

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

It’s our Halloween edition for ‘Trembling With Fear’ and we’ve got some fun and festive stories for you this year. We’ve got a middle of the week celebration so it’ll be a bit short to not take away too much from your work, school, or trick or treating but either way, it should be an enjoyable read!

Offhand, in case you missed it we were finally able to release our first collected anthology of ‘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

How to Carve a Jack-O-Lantern

It was full fall the day the crawler emerged from the woods and sniffed the dusk. The old ash trembled slightly as the hungry thing burst out from underneath its roots; a clump of orange and yellow leaves dropped unceremoniously to the ground. October, yes – late October when doors open and defences are low. The crawler smiled its ghastly grin.

The crawler had bony, vine-like limbs, and could walk on four legs or two. Its bulbous head was a bright orange, save for a thick, brownish horn which sprouted from the top and twisted imperceptibly, sunflower-like, towards the darkest dark. Its teeth and claws, huge and triangular, were also orange, dyed from years of cannibalistic digging into the flesh of its weaker kin. Fire glowed from the cavernous sockets where other creatures may have had eyes.

The crawler’s favourite thing to do was eat. It ate its own kind, when it could. It ate other things. It ate the animals from the woods. Its favourites were the little animals, the rabbits and baby deer stumbling on new legs – not because they were weak (the crawler, though small, was frighteningly strong) but because they were innocent, and hurting the innocent amused the crawler. This was also the reason the crawler liked to sink its claws into little human children and drag them into the woods.

Usually the crawler stuck to the woods, where it could easily slink among the tangles of branches, blending in with the dead leaves. But sometimes it liked to go out.

Beyond the threshold of the woods, an old house loomed over the horizon. The building was tall and solid, its double doors locked and braced against the elements like a set of clenched teeth. The windows, too asymmetrical to pass for eyes, stared out at the world regardless.

The crawler had been to human houses before. It was generally best to creep around the back and slip in that way, never making eye contact with the façade. Today, though, the crawler felt free and invincible. And so instead of creeping around the back, it crept around the front, beelined for the porch, and began to mount the steps. It smiled again, a lipless contortion of its fanged slit of a mouth, as its first claw gripped the wood. Then, it looked up…

…and lurched backward in horror, its fiery grin inverted. For on the porch, nestled on top of an incongruous bale of hay, was a head.

Not a human head, but the vacant, severed head of another creature like the crawler. Its face was frozen in a perverse grin, and its eyes still glowed faintly, as if the killer had found a way to prolong his victim’s suffering by keeping it in this torturous, semi-alive state.

A twinge of something that crawler had not felt in many hundreds of years – pity? compassion? – washed over it. Cocking its head for noises inside the house, the creature crept up the porch and peered into head’s vacant eye sockets, curious to see if there was any life inside.

What the crawler saw made it recoil. The head was a mere shell, sliced open and emptied of all brains, bones, and cartilage. Within the shell, a perverse mockery of the fires that burned within the crawlerkind, was a weakly flickering candle.

The crawler’s frown deepened. In a gesture of uncharacteristic tenderness, it blew into the shell and extinguished the candle. Philanthropic duty done, the crawler scuttled down the driveaway and onto the street, skulking from home to home in search of other amusements. But at every house, the crawler was greeted by more of the ghoulish, grimacing heads.

A warning.

What creatures could be capable of such large-scale brutality? The crawler was strong (why, only fifty years ago, it had snuck up on a farmer, scurried up his back, and snapped his neck before the man had even a chance to shout) and some of its kin were stronger. So what earthly being could have overtaken so many of them?

The crawler did not want to meet such a being.

And so, before the moon had even fully risen in the pinkish sky, the crawler scuttled back into the woods, feeling something it had never felt before: terror.

The crawler made its way expertly through the undergrowth, emboldened by the tree cover, pausing only when it came to a clearing. The ground in the clearing was soft and slightly damp under its claws, and it wondered if there would be worms to dig or beetles to eat. Suddenly, the crawler heard footsteps, and voices. Still perturbed by the things it had seen at the houses, the crawler scurried up a dying oak tree and listened.

It could see them now. A group of five humans – young, but strong-looking in the way that human young are hardier than their elders. They stumbled as they walked, however, and talked far too loudly for the woods. Sticks of smoke hung from their chapped lips, and polished brown glass glinted in their hands. The leader of the pack dragged a sledgehammer, and the smallest of the youths, who brought up the rear, had a white sack slung over his shoulders.

The youths settled in the clearing and began to take swigs of the foamy liquid that bubbled over the lips of their shining glass bottles. Thirst quenched, the largest of the five walked over to the discarded sack and dumped it out. A dozen severed crawler heads rolled onto the ground. Before the crawler could ponder the meaning of this, the youth picked up one of the heads, tossed it high into the air, and swung at it with the sledgehammer. The head exploded into chunks of orange.

Still clinging to an upper branch of the tree, the crawler recoiled. On the ground, the human picked up another head and lobbed it to one of his companions, who swiftly shattered it with a kick.

Their young defile the dead, the crawler thought.

And it yearned to reveal itself to the youths, to chase them out of its woods, to let the slowest four escape but cut the fastest of them off at the border and feast on his flesh. But fear stayed it. The crawler had seen the severed heads on every porch, saw the swollen bag that even these wayward youths had managed to collect. The humans were more dangerous than the crawler had ever fathomed. So instead, the crawler hid in the tree and watched in silence, waiting for them to leave.

But the killers didn’t leave; and with each defilement it witnessed, the crawler’s indignation grew. At last, the final head was destroyed, and the youths collapsed. Bodies drained from exertion and minds numbed by drink, the youths were soon slumped on the ground, surrounded by pumpkin guts.

The crawler crept closer. The youths breathed, but did not see, did not hear, did not move. Noises and chirps did not wake them. Prodded, they did not stir. They were not so fearsome after all.

The crawler approached the largest and strongest of the unconscious youths, and, using the gentlest of motions, brushed the smooth side of a claw across the young man’s forehead. The boy slept soundly.

And the crawler grinned, its flames burning brighter. It wondered how brightly they would glow when it cracked their skulls and replaced their brains with candlelight.

END

 

Madison McSweeney

Madison McSweeney is a Canadian writer, poet, and blogger.

Her horror, sci-fi, and fantasy stories have appeared in Unnerving Magazine, Women in Horror Annual 2, The Fulcrum, Horror Tree, 365 Tomorrows, and Dark Horizons: An Anthology of Dark Science Fiction. She also has stories set to appear in Weirdpunk Books’s upcoming Zombie Punks F*** Off and forthcoming issues of Polar Borealis and Deadman’s Tome.

Her non-fiction arts and culture coverage has been published in a number of outlets. She blogs at madisonmcsweeney.com and tweets (mostly about horror, rock music, and the Canadian arts scene) from @MMcSw13.  

The Ballad Of The Valkyrie And The Psycho-Killer

Death walks beside you tonight.

The grim reaper passes by me but he is not death. He is a boy in a mask with a plastic scythe, playing pretend. I am the true reaper.

Children dressed as ghouls and goblins run past, begging for sweets.  They growl and they shriek, but I am the real monster.

“Nice costume, bro!  I love those Jason movies!”

A skinny teenager in a skeleton suit, black with glow-in-the-dark bones, walks over to give me a high five.  I am unused to being addressed with anything other than screams or whimpers, so I do not respond. I stand there holding my hatchet.

“Staying in character, huh?  Way to commit, dude!”

He and his friends continue loudly down the street as I stand and watch them curiously, the sound of my breath amplified in my ears by the mask.

When books are written about my life, they will say many false things.  Like the skeleton-boy, they will assume that movies have inspired me to do the things I have done.  That couldn’t be more incorrect. Does the cobra watch a film to learn how to swell his regal hood and strike?

They will say that I hated humanity.  That I have done these things to avenge the wrongdoing of all of the bullies and abusers in my misbegotten life.  But I don’t hate anyone. Does the lion hate the lamb as he rends its woolly flesh?

I appreciate my prey for the sport they offer.  And while they may not provide sustenance for my body, I can assure you they provide food for the soul.

A band is playing loudly outside of a local bar, and a crowd is drinking and carousing.  This is the one night of the year when I am able to walk the streets and not raise an eyebrow, and I intend to take advantage of it.

“Five bucks dude.”

A large, muscular man in a tank top puts his arm in front of me.  I realize there are barricades on either side of him.

“Five bucks to see the show, man.”

I stare at him. I do not want the attention his death would bring.  And I do not have any money. I also do not want to turn around. So I stare at him.

“I get it, you’re a slasher-killer guy. Nice costume.  Very scary. But it’s five to get in or I gotta toss you out of here. Come on man, a line’s forming.”

“Here you go.”

From behind me someone hands the muscular man a ten dollar bill.

“For both of us.”

I turn to see the most beautiful girl I have ever seen in my life.  She is an angel as sure as I am not.

The muscular man waves me away like a fly, and I step through the barricades. I turn to see the angel walking off toward the bar. She does not turn to look at me.  I walk behind her at a distance, admiring the sparkling white wings swaying from her back.

But she is no angel after all.  She is dressed like a warrior, with plastic armor and helmet, and has a plastic sword strapped between her wings.

A warrior angel?  No. A Viking angel.  What is the word for that?

Over the course of the next hour, she smokes too many cigarettes. That is a bad habit, but some say murder is too. A few men stop to talk with her at the bar, but she does not seem to be interested.  She turns to look at the band, a sad look in her eyes, and that is when she notices me standing behind her.

She stands up from the bar, draws her sword, and points it at me.

Valkyrie.  I remember the word now.

She walks over slowly, brandishing her weapon.

“I guess you’re wondering why I paid for you, huh?”

I feel something inside of me that I don’t know how to process.

“I don’t know. I guess I’ve got a thing for weirdos and freaks, and you definitely seem to qualify.  That’s a pretty scary costume.”

I take a step forward.  The streetlight gleams off her auburn hair.  She wears thick-rimmed glasses that are not in keeping with her costume.  Her bottom teeth are bunched together. She is perfect.

“Oh I get it,” she says.  “You don’t speak. You just hunt down the cool kids who are drinking and having sex and waste them, right?”

I tilt my head.  She lowers her sword, takes a drag off her cigarette, and looks off in the distance.

“I can get down with that,” she says, more to herself than to me.  “There are consequences in this world.”

Behind the mask, unbidden, the corners of my mouth turn up.

The band starts into another obnoxious song, and those around us scream and swoon.  

But my Valkyrie doesn’t scream.  My Valkyrie doesn’t move. She stands as a statue, sword in one hand and smoke in the other, a magnificent sculpture of sorrow.

I drop the hatchet and hold my hand out to her.

For a while she doesn’t notice, but when she does her eyes narrow.  Then she drops her cigarette and squashes it beneath her boot. She sheaths her sword and takes my hand. I hold her arm out to the side and wrap my other around her waist.  She smiles, even laughs. She leans her helmed head on my shoulder and we sway together.  We are dancing to the rhythm of our own song. When the band stops playing, we dance on.

The Valkyrie smiles up at the psycho killer.

“My slasher,” she says.

And for the first time in my life, I wonder why I need the mask.  I wonder why I need the hatchet.

Because, for the first time in my life, I have found someone that I do not want to kill.

THE END

Grant Grogan

Grant Grogan is an American author, musician, and filmmaker. He mostly writes Horror and Fantasy fiction.  He has produced music in nearly every genre, and worked on a few short films. He loves Giallo films, analog synthesizers, the Clemson Tigers, John Carpenter, H.P Lovecraft, and hot sauce.  He resides in South Carolina with his wife and two small boys.

Homepage: grantgrogan.com

Butcher Knife

Buddy boy you wound me deep
You prank for fun
But play to keep
You promised Dad you would be good
Respect the neighbors as you should
I let you out for Tricks and Treats
Holes sliced in bedroom sheets
Marbled eyes like rings of ice
Assurances you would be nice
Little ghost who haunts the town
While I linger, drink, and frown
Prayers to God to hold you back
Dulling fears away with Jack
Kitchen counter, I eye with shock
Empty slit in wooden block
I’ve unleashed my ghoul with steel
Your costume’s fake
But your knife is real.

Kevin M. Folliard

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

LINKS:

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

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

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

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

 

In The Blood

Ripples ran across the lake surface, and I turned my face into the wind, enjoying the study break, even if the needle mark from donating was beginning to itch.

Lower on my arm, on the back of my hand, an ant wove its way through my arm hair, tickling complementing the need to scratch. Then it crawled higher, going from my wrist to near the outside of my elbow. When I looked, I noticed that the ant was small, almost the size of the hole in my skin.

The tickling sensation stopped, and an acidic fire started under my skin.

J.A. Hammer

J.A. Hammer lives off coffee (mostly Dead Eyes) and stress, willingly surrounding themselves with needles of all kinds (2+ galleons of blood donated, hedgehogs, and cacti) and books on genetic mutations. In moments of rare free time will usually have a splatter movie playing in the background. If the zombie apocalypse did happen, they would most likely die as Tokyo is a all-you-can-nom buffet. 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 if contagious, in the name of science). They also have cake.

Halloween Pie

Nobody bakes a Halloween pie, Ruth thought. It’s always candy with these children.

“And they never say thank you anymore,” Ruth grumbled. “In my day, you got an apple and you said thank you.”

When the first children knocked on Halloween, Ruth opened the door and faced a witch and a werewolf.

“Trick or treat,” they yelled.

Ruth smiled.

An hour later, another knock on the door.

In the kitchen, Ruth dropped the werewolf’s liver into the boiling pot of apples and wiped her blood-stained hands on the witch’s costume.

“I’m coming,” Ruth said, wondering if she’d need more ingredients.

THE END

Lionel Ray Green

ionel Ray Green is a writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. His short stories have appeared in the anthologies “Fifty Flashes,” “How Beer Saved the World 2,” “Graveyard,” “Frightening,” “Tales from the Grave,” “In Creeps the Night,” and “22 More Quick Shivers.” His work has also appeared in the 2017 issue of “From the Depths” and on the Horror Tree website (“Trembling with Fear,” Jan. 14 and Jan. 28, 2018).

https://lionelraygreen.wordpress.com/

Yellow Hallowe’en

Not a winner for best costume compared to the fabulous Frankenstein Monster, but the imposing figure in yellow robes and featureless white mask sure is striking, always present if aloof: never talking, never dancing, just there. Nobody is quite sure who they’re meant to be.

Then, the witching hour is struck and it’s time to unmask. Everyone does, but them.

Cajoled, they shake their head in flat refusal, saying, “I wear no mask.”

But, the figure does open their robe and those who see never speak of it again. For them, Hallowe’en will never more be a night of fun.

 

Ends

DJ Tyrer

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

 

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

 

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

Trembling With Fear 10/28/2018

This weekend saw me at the British Fantasy Society’s FantasyCon in Chester. A full two days of listening to author interviews, attending panels and book launches and finally meeting one or two people in real life as opposed to knowing them only via online contact – and of course I bought a few books. I returned home inspired and determined to get on with my writing and then promptly got sucked in to family stuff including spending the morning on Old Winchester Hill with bandages over my eyes as part of my youngest’s photography shoot (previous instances have seen me with a pillowcase over my head and a rope around my neck). I’m sure there’s a story in there somewhere. As a result, the only writing I’ve managed are the TWF editorials and the start of an outline for NaNoWriMo. 2000 words a day? At the moment, no chance, so instead I’ve been catching up on reading (easier to pick up and put down a book than the pen) and leaving a review here and there. Note that where I review books, it is very much as a reader, preferring to keep it short rather than give a full in-depth analysis. I think when we see people giving reviews, and how long some of them are, it frightens people off leaving their own as it becomes another area where we might not be ‘good enough’. It shouldn’t be like that, a simple ‘yes, I liked it’ or ‘no, I didn’t’ and maybe the reason is good enough.

I’ve also checked out another TWF contributor’s website. This time I’ve gone to Canada to Madison McSweeney’s site madisonmcsweeney.com. There’s a great range of pages to look at, plenty to read (I followed the link for her story The Beast & the Hummingbirds which appears in issue one of the Rhythm and Bones zine – I loved the fairy tale quality of this story) and some great music to listen to as well.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Things are a little crazy right now. I’m sure you’re expecting a ton of Halloween Shinanigans in this weekend’s edition of ‘Trembling With Fear’ but you won’t find a single one here. That’s because we’ll be releasing a special edition on the morning of All Hallows’ Eve! Yes folks, double the TWF enjoyment this week thanks to the festive holiday.

There is a moral to today’s story and it is something every parent should teach their kid. Name your story after the webpage your submitting your work to and it is more likely to be accepted. Joking aside, I almost didn’t even read this one due to the name but Steph insisted that it was good. As always, she was right. Enjoy!

‘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 Horror Tree

“The wise are silent, the foolish speak, and the children are thus led astray” – Algernon Blackwood

 

“They say this is the only one like it in the world.” The man said to the boy.

The boy looked at it, there some distance ahead of them, then back at the man. The boy said, “but there’s lots of trees in the world? Even ones that look a little like that, I’ve seen them down by the creek.”

The man looked down from the crooked tree to the boy, “there are lots of boys in the world too. But you are the only you, are you not?”

The boy smirked, toying with the idea, then said, “I guess so, I’m no twin like the two down on Bittacy Street.”

“And are those twins not then each their own person? Their parents didn’t give them the same name, did they? They don’t each do exactly as the other does? Do you think they think the same thoughts?”

The boy looked back up towards the tree, it was bent and though he thought it looked like other trees it certainly had grown differently, then he looked at the man and shook his head. As he did, the boy didn’t notice the leaves and boughs of the tree shake and rustle despite there being not the slightest hint of wind.

The man scratched his beard, thick as the scrub and foliage around them, “so this tree is like no other.”

“But you haven’t seen all the trees in the world, have you?”, chirped the youngster, “so how do you know there’s no other one like it? There could be another me, somewhere in the big wide world, far away in another country, and maybe we’ll never see each other and then always think we the only one.”

The man looked at the boy sternly; his thick, caterpillar brows drew together. As he pursed his lips they disappeared beneath his bushy moustache. The boy watched him tug at his beard. This time the boy heard the creak and knock of wood. As he was about to turn his attention to the sounds from the tree up ahead, the man spoke in a tone that suggested it was best the boy give the man his full attention.

“This is the only one like it in the world. Perhaps you simply need to take a closer look.” He put a hairy, knuckled palm on the boy’s shoulder and urged him forward, closer to the tree. The man asked, “what do they call those trees by the creek? The trees you say look like this one?”

Feeling the forceful hand, the boy trudged forward, thinking to what he’d been told he answered, “willows I think…weeping willows.”

“And do they weep?”

“I don’t know what weep means.”

“It means to cry. Do these willows of yours by the creek cry?”

The boy felt the gnarled fingers squeeze tighter and their pinch insisted he take another step towards the tree that was like no other in all the world. He answered, hoping that the answer would lessen the man’s forceful grip, perhaps even slow their march, “no, they don’t cry…can…can this one?”

The man’s grip slackened, the points of his fingers still held the boy fast but they were no longer pushing into him, trying to burrow into his flesh and bones. The man said, “I’ve never seen it cry. But I suppose it can. It wouldn’t surprise me. I don’t think it’s had reason to cry for a long, long time.”

Trunk and branch creaked and sighed like abandoned stairs under the steps of a ghost. The boy felt like he no longer wanted to be led any closer, but the man’s grip and his steadfast gait told the boy he no longer had much of a choice.

The man continued, “you ever hear the tale of Old Man Willow?”

The boy shook his head. The man stopped. The boy was grateful. There was a rustle of leaves that sounded like a hiss.

“Hm, I’m surprised. I thought a boy who knew about weeping willows would have heard of the saddest, and angriest, willow of them all.”

Not wanting to go on, the boy asked the first question that came to mind, hoping it would keep him at bay from the strange tree ahead, “why was he sad and angry?”

The man shrugged his heavy shoulders, his long and matted hair shifted as he did, “for the same reason any tree gets sad and angry I suppose.”

Sensing that that was the end of the tale of Old Man Willow, and sensing that with the end of the tale he would be made to march closer to the tree that was unlike any other, the boy quickly asked, “is this tree, is it sad and angry?”

“I think it can be. Perhaps it was, back when it had a reason to weep.” With that, the man began forcing the boy forward once more and the boy tried in vain to drag his steps and dig his heels. But the man showed no notice of this, he only pushed the boy forward. A groan came from ahead and the boy felt as if many things just below the surface, beneath the undergrowth, things that were deep down in the soil, were urging him forward now too.

“Then it can’t be a weeping willow then!” The boy cried petulantly, feeling that he would soon start weeping.

“I never said it’s a weeping willow, nor a willow of any kind.”

The boy tried to break away but the man grabbed him tightly by the wrist. He looked up at the man’s face, at the bushy beard and hanging hair. In the mottled shadows of the forest, the boy thought the small patches of exposed flesh on the man’s cheek and nose looked like grey and aged barked. And his eyes were the pale green of sun-starved lichen.

The man did not seem angry at the boy’s attempt to break free, he only held him tightly. Again, there was the groan of old wood and the rustle of excited leaves.

“Well then what kind of tree is it huh? It can’t be so special if it doesn’t even have a name!”

“It does have a name”, the man said and dragged the boy forward.

They were close to the tree and the boy tried feebly to free himself again, this time it wasn’t only the man’s hand and gaze that held him. Dark roots slathered with peat and dirt rose and coiled about the boy’s ankle like rotten wooden worms.

The boy began to scream but a vine dropped from the shadowy boughs and wrapped itself about his throat, choking his cry. The vine felt slimy and cold, again more like a worm than any vegetation.

“It’s called a Blackwood”, said a voice that did not belong to the man.

The boy felt himself yanked upwards by more vines, and tugged downwards by wriggling roots and still the man pulled him closer to the massive trunk. Everything worked together against the boy, in a way that told his aching and stretching young frame it didn’t matter if he arrived at the trunk in one piece.

The boy’s vision was going hazy as he desperately struggled to breathe, through tears and the blur of strangulation he saw that from all the branches, that extended outwards from the tree like a spider’s web, hung the dark vines. It was as if they no longer wished to stay hidden in the draping of leaves. Those that weren’t interested in him were all fashioned into dangling nooses, as if someone long ago had planted gallows from the bloody seed of a hanged man’s heart.

The voice that wasn’t the man’s, or perhaps it was only what the Blackwood’s voice sounded like when it came from barely human lips that differentiated the two, spoke again, “but little boys who follow strangers and know about weeping willows, have a different name for me…they never speak it…they never can…but I hear it all the same…”

The voice paused. The vines pulled the boy up, tighter and tighter, the roots did the same but dragging him down into the mud and the man, still clutching the boy’s wrist, walked right into the ashen bark like he was the tree’s shadow, and the boy felt the flaking strips of wood begin to absorb him. To gnaw him.

As the splintered jaws slowly worked on the boy’s arm like toothless, mossy gums, the voice spoke again.

“Yes…that’s the name they use…The Horror Tree…”

 

Aristo Couvaras

Aristo Couvaras is twenty-seven years old, of Greek descent (if the name doesn’t give that away) and who was born and raised in South Africa, where he still resides. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in both English Literature and Clinical Psychology, as well as a Bachelor of Law degree, both attained from the University of the Witwatersrand. He has an upcoming work titled The Natloer, set to appear in Things in the Well Publications latest anthology -Beneath the Waves- Tales from the Deep. Anyone wanting to contact Aristo can do so on twitter @AR1sto.

10 Days To The End

Day 1: We meet
Day 2: You sweep me off my feet
Day 3: It all starts to sour
Day 4: I hate you more with each passing hour.
Day 5: You tell me I am the only one for you.
Day 6: You fail to listen when I say I don’t care and
We are through.
Day 7: I tell you that I want to be free.
Day 8: You say I will be free when you are dead.
Day: 9: It took just a moment to separate your body from
Your head.
Day 10: I am free forever.

Kim Plasket

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

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B074YCLRCF
.

A Skinful of Booze

Drunk Steve laughed off reports of black ice. Skids and spins? He had them mastered. Turning up the radio before speeding off, he challenged himself to keep the car pointing in the right direction.
Nobody was around to see him lose control, skidding to a halt as the car wrapped itself around a tree.
Nobody heard his cries, or detected the rising terror in his voice, as flames engulfed the engine. Nor did they witness Sober Steve squeezing through the smallest of windows at speed.
They found him the following morning completely flayed, detached skin flapping like a crumpled parachute.

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, Zeroflash and The Cabinet of Heed, and is to be found in several anthologies including, The Infernal Clock, Drabbledark: An Anthology of Dark Drabbles and ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’. There are also upcoming pieces in the Trembling With Fear 2017 Anthology, The Infernal Clock Deadcades Anthology and Chronos: An Anthology of Time Drabbles.

https://crsmith2016.wordpress.com

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

 

Underworld

The cave stretched away. Claire’s helmet light flickered. Expired. She was the last one left. They had once numbered five. Adrenaline-fuelled, they had burrowed into the earth’s bowels, seeking adventure.
A roof fall took the two sisters; a broken ankle resulted in one being left behind.
‘We’ll be back,’ their lips said, their eyes spoke the truth though.
Claire and Becky foraged on, shoulders straining, feeling the weight of millions of striations above them.
Water wasn’t a problem. The caves’ walls bled liquid. Hunger gnawed at their senses.
Sitting on her haunches, Claire sliced a slab from Becky’s flaccid flesh.

Alyson Faye

Alyson lives in West Yorkshire with her family and 3 rescue cats. She teaches creative writing classes, writes noir Flash Fiction and ghost stories. She is one of the writers in ‘Women in Horror Annual 2’, in Raging Aardvark’s ‘Twisted Tales’, her stories can be downloaded at www.alfiedog.com as well as being available on various sites like zeroflash/Tubeflash/101 words/three drops from a cauldron. Her flash fiction debut collection, ‘Badlands’ is out now from indie publisher Chapeltown Books – here’s the interview http://www.chapeltownpublishing.uk/2018/01/badlands-by-alyson-faye.html and is available to buy from amazon.

You can find out more on her blog- www.alysonfayewordpress.wordpress.com

or at her amazon author page http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01NBYSLRT

Her twitter handle is @AlysonFaye2.

Pastry Chef

Rolling it out was the hardest. Roll and turn, they said. Roll and turn. Sprinkle flour on the worktop and the rolling pin to prevent sticking. Roll and turn.

Puff pastry also required chilling to prevent cracking as it was rolled out. He looked at the square he’d cut from the mound remaining in the fridge, the blobs of fat between the layers. There had certainly been plenty of lard on this one’s owner. At least he wouldn’t have to put up with his irritating wheezing any more. The man should’ve gone on a diet, been less puff, more filo.

Stephanie Ellis

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

Samples of her writing can be found on http://stephellis.weebly.com/ and she is on twitter at @el_stevie.

‘Trembling With Fear: Year 1’ Has Officially Been Released!

After doing battle with the great Amazon over cover formatting, I am thrilled to tell you that ‘Trembling With Fear: Year 1’ is now officially out in physical form!

US Readers can score a copy right here while our friends in the UK can snag copies right here! We of course offer them in every area that KDP allows for as well in case you’re from another location and are interested in picking up a copy.

You can also order it digitally on Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever else your local market is! At some point, these listings will be combined but we’re still at the mercy of our Amazonian Gods for when that may happen.

Steph and I had spent a lot of time on getting this right (and you can all thank Steph for this being done when it was as I was falling behind on my parts of formatting. As always, Steph is amazing!)

I’d also like to give a huge shout out to Andrew Butcher for all the work on helping us get the formatting correct on the cover!

Synopsis:

This Trembling With Fear anthology is a compilation of all the drabbles, flash fiction stories and dark poetry published during 2017 at HorrorTree.com. In its pages, you will find work from both the novice and the established writer, the newbie, and the award-winner. Here, the dead walk and murders abound, demons and ghosts torment the living whilst vampires and wolves compete for space with internet and aliens. Within these pages you will find dark speculative fiction from contributors across the globe, for our world is a world without borders. Nowhere is safe from the dark.

We have had some amazing talent contribute to the first year of ‘Trembling With Fear,’ and we hope that you enjoy reading these as much as we have!

If you’re looking to help spread the word, we’ve included various digital assets below!

Standard Post For Blogs And Various Content

Instagram Post

Twitter Cover Photo

Facebook Cover Photo:

If you need any specific artwork sizes for helping promote the book, please reach out through the contact form!

Trembling With Fear 10/21/2018

Before I say anything regarding TWF, can I just take the opportunity to wish my lovely husband, Geraint, a very Happy Birthday today. It’s due to his tolerance and support that I have been able to give so much time to TWF and all my writing endeavours.

Back to TWF:

So, that was the week that was. Trembling With Fear finally emerged onto a more public stage and found itself on the shelves of the mighty amazon, keeping company with both Brian Keene and Charles Dickens. Dickens is one of my favourite authors, I started reading him at 11yrs (I had his Christmas books for Christmas – naturally – and I still have them, complete with name and address proudly written in the front) and have continued to return to him ever since. If you want a masterclass on character creation, just read his stories. He has created some of the most wonderful and memorable characters in print, and I don’t mean just the good guys. What about Bill Sykes, Fagin, Uriah Heep or Madam Defarge? The latter features in my favourite Dickens story, A Tale of Two Cities and that last scene when Carton approaches the guillotine, whilst trying to comfort a young girl also heading for execution, gets me every time. And what worse horror was there than The Terror of revolutionary France?

If you’re stuck for an idea, a setting, why not examine history’s pages? We recently published The Rise and Fall of the Parricide Punisher by Michael Carter which I loved. I honestly would like to see more dark fiction stories set in times gone past, there is so much scope. I had a story published in an anthology a few years back called Ungodly, which featured cannibalistic puritans and I had great fun writing that. Let’s shelve the standard tropes for a while, no more running in the woods unless it’s Birnam Wood (Shakespeare himself shamelessly pillaged history … and rewrote it!) or hiding in the cellar, unless perhaps it’s an abbey during the Dissolution. Find the real story, blend the facts with your imagination and create a new horror.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

The last week has been a whirlwind of madness. ‘Trembling With Fear: Year 1’ is out in the world and we’re mostly caught up with our current submissions! A slew of posts have been scheduled and we’re pretty well mapped out for much of the upcoming year. Once things calm down a bit more from the release of our first collection, I’m going to be making time to sit down with Steph (digitally) and plan out what we’re doing for next year!

We’ve got a pile of ideas we’ve casually brought up over the year to make things even better and just have to sit down and knock out the details! Offhand, we’re slightly low on drabbles so if you’ve got 100 words to spare, feel free to send them in!

‘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 Purest Art

There is a house of dubious repute burrowed into the space between two abandoned factories in one of the more seedier parts of town.

In this place sits the Curator of an attraction that draws a significant number of visitors each evening. Viewers from diverse cultural and social strata, contrasting in appearance and manner and nature, rubbing shoulders and hips, each breathing in the smell of the others. The air becomes a soupy mix of sweat and grime and soap and perfume. They all come to look.

And see. And gape.

The street is sodden and the air carries the stench of burnt plastic. Rats scurry in places unseen eating other unseen things.

The house has a spire that spikes out of its west side and a steepled roof on the other which cuts into the sky like a razor. It has no path and no gate and certainly no door.

Word is spread of the attraction from lips to ears. Whispers.

The lawn is so unkempt and overgrown that the grass reaches to the Viewers chest. It has the shape of wheat. Feral cats hunt vermin in its depths. The rustling of the undergrowth gives away the prey’s whereabouts. Their shelter betrays them.

The Viewer pushes through the grass and up the wooden porch steps which creak with the weight of each heavy step.

The Curator knows the Viewer has arrived.

Shadows fill the hallway, almost pitch black, insulated from moonlight by floor to ceiling red velvet curtains. Up the stairs to the top landing. Resplendent in his tuxedo and top hat, the Curator waits outside the viewing room. He stands silently in the dark. He only gestures to the doorway, to the curtains that hang there in lieu of a door. Pulling a black silk handkerchief from his pocket, the Curator ties it across his eyes and when it is secure he leans to the side and pulls the curtains apart.

A solitary wooden chair faces the far wall. The Viewer is guided to it and there he sits.

It isn’t really an artefact or a work of art. It is a unique thing. A curio.

The Curator closes the curtains and the Viewer is alone to look upon the thing he has come to see.

There is no roof here. The empty stars wheel overhead, the night sky illuminating the room.

The wall has an image scratched into the brick work. An eternity of fingernails clawing at the masonry and plaster has created it, carving the matter into something else. It takes the general shape of a circle but it consists of squares and triangles and other complex shapes and criss-crossing lines.

It is not a circle. It is a hole.

The Viewer stands for a closer look.

The scratches have gouged so deeply that the surface of the circle has smoothed out the brick work.

Closer still. The hole fills the Viewers vision. All he can perceive is the hole. All he can comprehend is the hole. It is black inside the hole. The Viewer pushes his face against the surface, but there is no surface, only a gossamer thin membrane that splits under his touch. The Viewer pushes his head through. It is not a circle. It is a spiral of scratches. A funnel gouged into reality. Or out of reality. The skin of the world is unpicked. Transition occurs.

The Viewer screams.

“I can’t tell what it is.”

The moon rises behind him and the moon sets and the stars grind against the heavens. A deep humming fills the void.

They always scream. They cover their eyes but it doesn’t stop their minds from shattering. The blindfolded Curator fumbles along the wall till he finds the Viewer and he leads him back out of the room and down the stairs. He removes his blindfold there and takes the Viewer out through the hunting grounds, where a kingdom of cats wage war on the rat race, and out into the sodden street. The Viewer claws and foams and wails.

“I can’t see.” He tears at his hair and claws at his scalp until blood trickles over his forehead.

A car is waiting to take the Viewer home. The Curator lies him on the back seat of the car, he can no longer sit up. The Viewers head is full of realisation, or is empty like a void. The Curator whispers something to him before the car leaves.

“It is art. The purest kind. It is nothing and everything. The soul of the world.”

Whispers pass from lips and tongue and teeth to ear and mind.

Once upstairs he dons his blindfold again and draws the curtains closed and takes his place on the top landing.

A stretch limousine drops off another who has come to view. They push through the long grass where the cats hunt.

 

End

John Paul Fitch

Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, John Paul Fitch is a writer who lives in Perth, Western Australia with his wife and three children. He was shortlisted for the Australian Shadows Award for short fiction in 2014

Dearest Lydia

They kept him chained in the basement.

Lydia skipped into the kitchen, hugged her mom.

“Mornin’, dearest.” Her mom, apple in hand, moved toward the basement door. “Be right back.”

“Mommy, why don’t we just let him go?”

“What fun would that be?”

Lydia busied herself with breakfast, interrupted by a scream from below. She raced downstairs, her mom dead on the ground, the bucket used for his bathroom in pieces, a chunk jutting from her neck. Blood everywhere.

Her dad trembled. “I’m sorry for the past. But please, let me go.”

Lydia stood tall. “What fun would that be?”

Nico Bell

Nico Bell is a horror and dark fiction writer whose publications can be found in Drabbledark Anthology and Splickety. She is a book and movie reviewer, a podcaster and unapologetic WWE fan.

Links:Author Website www.nicobellfiction.com

Social Media www.twitter.com/nicbellfiction

www.instagram.com/nicobellfiction

Movie and Book Reviews: www.scificandscary.com

 

Propolis

Old queen Bud-Ihm, spry on six legs yet almost blind in the ocelli, watches her home world vanish on the ship’s honeycomb screen.

 

An invasive species poisoned the fields and left Bud-Ihm’s offspring hungry, ravaged by mites, weaker and sicker with each generation. So she gathered her children, promising fragrant meadows under a different sun.

 

Bud-Ihm’s compound eyes darken. There are no fragrant meadows under a different sun. Her children will all die on this journey. But, without Bud-Ihm’s kin, the flora that sustains the invaders will perish and those who destroyed her world will starve. Bud-Ihm feels no remorse.

M. Yzmore

Maura Yzmore writes short-form literary and speculative fiction, as well as humor. Her recent work can be found in Asymmetry, Exoplanet, The Sirens Call, and elsewhere. Find out more at https://maurayzmore.com or on Twitter @MauraYzmore.

Solve et Coagula

Detective Bryant’s legs shook. A mile of track climbed from Middleton to the derelict chapel at Holcomb Scar and he’d raced here, pursuing his strange and alluring suspect.

 

Leaning against a wall, slick with rain, he cast about for a clue. Suddenly a slithering sound reached him and the woman swayed unnaturally through the chapel doorway.

 

Torchlight distorted her outline. Men in donkey jackets appeared, each bearing a sickle. They’d been expecting him.

 

Before  the startled officer could react, the goddess yawned then loosened, enveloping him completely.

“Dearly beloved … ” his failing mind caught, as powerful enzymes tore him apart.

 

 

Tony Martucci

My exploring ancestors, I guess, were largely Homo Sapiens. I’ve traced a few of them to North Africa, Sicily, Italy and various strands of Irish, Scottish and English people. They teach me things. Writing helps.

Last Punch

The empty seats squeaked as the train tore down the tracks.
This express was never late as it hurled towards the end of the line.
Only one passenger sat silently in the car.
She gazed at the world, flying past the window.
There were so many places to stop and see that she’d never been to.
Each one of them a small regret to her soul.
Nearing the station, the conductor came and collected her ticket.
Last punch” the voice barked while taking it.
FINAL STOP” came over the intercom as they pulled into the station.
Purgatory awaited her arrival.

Stuart Conover

Emerging from the shadows once a month, the Stuart has reached back into the dusty brain of his to produce another drabble for your (hopeful) enjoyment. An author. A father. A husband. A coffee addict. A guy who has too much time on his hands while writing this mini-bio. Oh, and the editor of this little website which you happen to find yourself on right now.
To stalk him, head over to StuartConover.com today!

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