Trembling With Fear 12/10/2017

So the season is almost on us, although in many places it seems to have been going on since early Autumn; I think I spotted my first Christmas ads back in September. You can’t ignore it and it brings with it a horror of its own … the pressure to buy, the pressure to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas, the pressure to join those office parties you’d rather avoid. How do people cope with pressure, deal with stress? Drink? Probably. But a good alternative is to write. Use your stories as therapy, channel your angst and frustration onto the page, carve your horrors in ink. We need stories, drabbles and flash, and a lot more of them. Use the holiday to give yourself a gift, the gift of writing time. We look forward to the results.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Just a side note, we’re low on Drabbles for the first time in months! At any rate, it’s nearing the end of our first year of running Trembling With Fear. We’ve had a blast reading and helping critique your stories and hope you’ve had fun writing them. We have a few changes in mind for the upcoming year though nothing that will kick off right as January sets in.

Can you feel the excitement in the air as we prepare to see if we can put together an anthology of everyone’s work so far? (Editor’s note: That isn’t excitement. It is actually a mix of pure fear, stress, and adrenaline!)

‘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

David and Goliath

The laboratory was badly lit, the mains electricity had been off for a week.  Paul was relying on a diesel generator to power minimal lights and essential equipment.  The place was deserted, none of the staff had turned up that morning.  Only he and John were still working, and that was because they’d been camping out in the lab, rather than going home.  Paul guessed the rest of the team were either dead or dying.

Paul looked round at the piles of dirty glassware, discarded plastic and latex gloves.  He didn’t have the time or the inclination to clean up.  Instead, he continued to run the assay, his mind elsewhere.  What would the latest results show?  There were some interesting new compounds, they might be effective.  Would they be saved?  The door opened.  John entered, his white lab-coat stained with blood.

“I’ve got the results.”

“I was hoping you had.  Anything?”

John shook his head.

“The delta-blockers had zero effect.  Same with the chloro-quinolones.  Nothing is touching it.  It’s still completely resistant.  Every time we hit it with a new molecule, it spits out another set of enzymes to destroy it.”

Paul felt a wave of disgust and despair.  He looked at the window, at the world outside.

“We don’t have a chance.”

“What do we do now?”

“See if any of the other labs have made progress.  Check London, Geneva and Rome.  They were all working on different formulations.”

“Will do, but I doubt…”

“I know,” interrupted Paul, “but do me a favor and check anyway.”

John nodded and headed out.  Paul stood and walked to the window.  The lab was on the fourth floor of the university building.  He looked down at the street below.  The cultists were still there, standing behind the barricades.  They were protesting the research, as they did every day.  They wanted the world to end, they wanted the world to burn.

“You got your wish,” whispered Paul.  His head felt hot against the cool glass.

Two years, that was all it had taken to turn the world to shit.

“From inconsequential beginnings, dynasties will fall.”

It was a popular quote from the cultists.  He stared at a Petri dish sitting on the bench.

“Just a wee microbe.  Nothing special.”

Paul thought back to how quickly disaster had overtaken the human race.  The first case had been in Spain.  An infection, acquired in hospital.  It was considered routine until the clinicians realized the patient wasn’t responding to any antibiotic.  The bacterium causing the infection had developed complete resistance.  The woman had died in agony.

That was just the beginning.  The germ that killed the patient in Spain spread, first to rest of the hospital, then to the local city.  Thousands were affected, hundreds were dead.  The local authorities had requested help in containing the infection.  From that point onward, Paul and his colleagues kept a close eye on the spread of the disease, hoping it would be checked.  It wasn’t to be.

Within a month Spain had declared a nationwide epidemic.  By this time every global health organization was involved.  Travel bans were imposed, but it was too late.  Two months after the first Spanish fatality, cases popped up in the U.S. and China.  Six months later a global pandemic was declared.  The fatality rate was 98%.  This organism didn’t discriminate.  If you got it, you died.  It was as simple as that.

Paul remembered the day the email had arrived.  It was a call to arms.  Laboratories all over the world had rushed to find a way to destroy the organism.  Pharmaceutical companies, universities and governments all frantically collaborated.  Some were tasked with finding a new antibiotic.  Others were challenged with developing a vaccine.

Hundreds of people, including Paul and his team, worked round the clock to achieve these twin goals, while the number of the infected grew exponentially.  Hospitals were overwhelmed.  People were told to stay at home, no matter how ill.  Schools and colleges were closed.  Subways, buses and other mass transit systems were suspended.  Funeral homes refused to take the dead.  Corpses were collected by the military, until there weren’t enough healthy soldiers available.  After that, the bodies piled up in the streets or quietly decayed in their homes.  When Paul heard that news, he knew it was over.  Humanity was finished when there was no one left to bury the dead.

It didn’t take long for the tipping point to be reached.  Hospitals shut down.  Transport ceased.  Stores closed.  Paul’s laboratory was one of the few that still functioned, thanks to the judicious purchase of the generator and supplies of diesel, but the chance of finding an effective antibiotic was now remote.  Finding a vaccine was even more unlikely.  Too many scientists and physicians were dead or ill.  The critical mass for such large-scale research had been lost.  But, a few laboratories kept working, kept hoping.

Paul continued to stare at the small yellow colonies on the Petri dish.  So far, he’d been unaffected.  His parents, his wife, his kids and most of his friends and colleagues were dead.  He suppressed the grief he felt.  John re-entered the lab.

“Nothing.  They’ve all got the same results as us.  They’re shutting down.”

“I expected as much.  Well, that’s it.  There’s no more drugs to test, we’ve exhausted all possibilities.”

“Even if we found something that worked, how we would get it manufactured and distributed?”

“We wouldn’t.  It’s too late.  It was always too late.”

“I don’t feel well.”

“We’re all infected, John.  You know that.”

John started to cry.

“I’m going home.  I know my parents are dead, but I want to be with them.”

Paul embraced his friend, then walked to the window to watch him push his way through the cultists.  He knew he would never see him again.  He could feel the bacterium in his gut, spewing its toxin into his bloodstream.  There was no treatment, nothing he could do.  He regarded the Petri dish.  He put his finger onto the surface of the agar and scooped up a layer of bacterial colonies.  He sucked his finger clean and swallowed.

“Might as well give my killers some allies to help their cause.”

He smiled.  In the end, it hadn’t been a comet, or nuclear apocalypse.  Nature herself had finished humanity.  The smallest creature on the surface of the Earth had doomed the most intelligent, the most advanced species.  David had once again defeated Goliath.

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.

Little Louis

Louis was such a sweet boy. He always helped me with the groceries, wanting no reward for himself. When my husband would go away on business, Louis would always come around. I could tell he had a crush. It was sweet in a way, him only being at the ripe age of twelve. He would look at me with his big brown eyes with such infatuation. Although delightful, I had hoped Louis would have been faster. He screamed more than I had thought as well. Didn’t put up much of a fight either. I’ll bury Louis’s body in the morning.

Eric Baker

Eric Baker is a professional cook and freelance Horror and Comedy writer from Chattanooga, TN. He currently lives in Twin Falls, Idaho with his wife and nine year old son.

Sunday Roast

“We need food, not words.”

 

“Then let the words of the Lord feed your soul,” said the priest.

 

“Gave up on our souls a long time ago,” grinned Jackson. “It’s our stomachs we need to take care of now.”

 

“Listen to me. I can give you sustenance.”

 

“On that we are agreed, Father.”

 

The priest smiled, a hopeful expression filling his face. “Perhaps a prayer?”

 

“Of course, Father. I have one that is pretty apt.”

 

The priest smiled as the men formed a circle around him. His flock.

 

“For what we are about to receive,” said Jackson.

 

 

The smile vanished.

Stephanie Ellis

Stephanie Ellis is a TeachingAssistant in a Southampton secondary school but previously worked for many years as a technical author. Her genre fiction short stories have found success in Massacre and Sanitarium magazines as well as a variety of horror anthologies. She is also an active member of theFlashDogs flash fiction online community where most of her contributions are of the darker kind. Also, co-curator and co-editor at The Infernal Clock.

You can find out more about Stephanie at: http://stephellis.weebly.com/.

Through The Jungle

 

Jack’s arm ached as he brought the Machete through another set of vines.  Darkness would be coming soon, and he needed to make the cave by nightfall.  The going had been slow since his guides had abandoned him.

He only needed to make it another mile but nature itself was trying to keep him away.

He smirked.

If he was right, what lay in the cave was by no means natural.  At least not to this world.

His arm screamed as the Machete cleared the path before him.

Nothing would stop him from reaching his destination and what lay within.

Stuart Conover

Hey! It’s the person who planted the seeds for the Horror Tree! You can read my bio below so if you’re checking this out please make sure to subscribe to our mailing list and follow the site (and all of the staff writers) on social media! Thanks!

Trembling With Fear 12/03/2017

‘Names. I like names. I like to address someone properly so that I don’t appear rude; sometimes though, I’m left trying to work out how to respond to a submitter when I haven’t a clue what name they go by. Some emails have a straight paragraph about their submission only; there is no ‘Dear …’ or ‘Hi …’ and no signature at the end. What to do? Look at their submission, I hear you say, … that has contact details—doesn’t it? Um, not all the time. Longer stories tend to do better in this regard but they will occasionally have an author identified by initials only and as to drabbles, just a few submitters contain appropriate contact information. If the name is not in the submission itself, I look at the email address and sometimes work it out from that—but again, that can turn out to be a bizarre handle and leave me completely in the dark. And then there’s those who seem to have more than one pen name each consisting of a variety of abbreviations.

This may seem a small matter but it does cause confusion.

Please, please when you submit, let me know your name. I like names.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

For the record, Steph had NO idea I was inserting that last image but I felt that it had to be done! 😉

Folks. We’ve only got a few Trembling With Fear installments left this year! If you’d like to be included (and we’re low on submissions!) please send them in ASAP!

‘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 Last English Speaker

Dr Ndosi crossed the well-manicured lawns of the clinic on her way to conduct yet another interview with the last lunatic on Earth.  Coming towards her was Dr Zahirovic, his tie loose, sweat dripping from his forehead.

“Sawubona,” she said and smiled.

“Zdravo. Vreli dan, zar ne?” he replied, as he glanced at the blue sky above and fanned his face with his hand.

Of course she had no idea what he was going on about, probably something to do with the weather judging from his actions and his exaggerated puffing as he wiped the sweat from his brow.  So she smiled again and despite knowing that he couldn’t understand a word she was saying, replied, “Noma kunjalo, ngifanele manje ngikhulume ngenyanga yokugcina. Hamba kahle.”               Despite knowing better, she still hoped that one day the faces of her colleagues would light up in recognition, that they would understand that she had said she was going to interview the last lunatic on Earth, and they would then excitedly respond in fluent Zulu.  But instead, Zahirovic smiled at her vacantly, looked again at the sky as if seeking further conversational inspiration before obviously thinking better of it and saying, “Zbogom. Vidimo se kasnije” and scurrying off up the path.  She did not speak Bosnian but she had heard Zahirovic and his wife say it so often she took it to be some kind of valediction.               She entered the main Clinic building, pausing briefly to show her pass to the Japanese guard on the door.  Dr Mueller was sat waiting for her in the cool reception and as he saw her he raised his hand to get her attention before getting up, straightening his jacket and making his way over to her.  “Guten tag,” he said and nodded. Ndosi had never had a proper conversation with Mueller for obvious reasons, their interactions limited solely to purely functional interactions clumsily facilitated by whatever translation software they tapped their thoughts into.  Mueller was a pragmatic man however, so made no attempt at further niceties knowing that such interactions were futile.  Instead, he beckoned Ndosi to come with him to the secure quarantine ward where the last lunatic on Earth was now living.               Ndosi hated having to interview the crazy man.  Despite not knowing what he was saying, the way he would scream and wail and spit at her was upsetting and frightening and a depressing reminder of the international genocide/suicide that had killed one billion in a frenzy of violence and gore.  She braced herself for a moment before opening the door.  The lunatic, known only as Dave, any family name being long forgotten by the maniac himself or anyone who had ever known him, was shackled to the bed, thick leather straps across his knees and chest, his wrists and ankles restrained with thick, leather manacles.  He saw Ndosi and Mueller enter and from above the spit-mask he was forced to wear, his eyes blazed with hatred.  Muscles strained against his bonds and the bed creaked and rattled as he snapped at the straps.  “Oh look!  It’s the fucking Nazi and his pet.  Fucking let me out of here you fucking bastards!”               Dr Van Den Berg acknowledged their arrival as he held the boom mic near Dave’s face while Dr Horvath busied himself with the recording equipment.               “Let me out of here or I’ll fucking kill you” he screamed.  “Or I’ll just kill you anyway, you useless fucking bastards!”               The lunatic known as Dave continued to rant and rave and scream unintelligible abuse at her as she showed him pictures of atrocities committed in London, Sydney and New York back when there was a London a Sydney and a New York.               At first, the international community was at a loss to explain what came to be known as “The Madness” in the UK, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.  The enormous rise in murders, the streets literally flowing red with rivers of blood, the thoughtless brutality, the mass rapes.  But these were just on the individual scale.  When groups of murderers joined together there were riots and when the riots became larger and spilled out across national borders there were wars.  Husbands killed wives, fathers killed sons, neighbours killed neighbours.  That there was a reason for the Madness seemed obvious – its onset was so sudden it was clear that it was no natural phenomenon.  The International Community tested the air, the water, searched in vain for some kind of viral or bacterial pathogen.  Autopsies of those they found, whether they had been murdered or whether they had bashed their own brains out in fits of insane self-loathing, revealed nothing.  It was then that a Chinese team had found Dave, trapped in the rubble of Tipton, unable to harm himself or others, shouting his hate and rage out to the ruins.                He had been subjected to a battery of tests – psychological, toxicological, genetic – none of them finding any cause for the cause of his insanity.  And it was then that Dr Lem posited his hypothesis; the cause was the English language itself.  Lem hypothesized that neither thought nor culture was possible without language and that the reason the Anglo-Sphere had succumbed to mass insanity was that the English language itself, the means of thought for over a billion people, was in itself utterly schizophrenic, forever changing and taking elements from other languages, pillaging words and thoughts that were supposed to be used to express different personalities and cultures, and instead ramming them together, conflicting ideas and thoughts smashed together to express things that they were not intended to express.  Surely, Lem claimed, madness could be the only result of such cognitive dissonance, linguistic schizophrenia on a global scale.               So they had recorded literally hundreds of hours of Dave’s ravings in the years since the Madness had ended, sending the transcripts of his rants to international teams who would pick out words that shared etymological roots with their own languages.  They would then be passed on to another team who spoke a different language who would do the same and on and on until eventually they could work out what he was saying.                 “You fucking bastards, I’ll murder the lot of you!”               Mueller wrote down the word, “Murder”.  “Mord”? he said under his breath.  Van den Berg blinked and muttered, “Moord…..”               The fact that the English language itself was the cause of The Madness has now been proven beyond question, although how it could cause such devastation in such a short period of time was still unknown and the sole reason for the continuing research into Dave.               “Just come a bit closer and I’ll beat you to death!”               “Dood?” repeated Van den Berg, growing pale and unsteady on his feet.               And so now Ndosi had to listen to the unintelligible ravings of the last lunatic on Earth, recording his rants in a dead language so that those who were left could work out how this linguistic insanity manifested almost instantaneously across the globe.               “Oh, if I was free, I’d show you bastards a million levels of pain.”               “Pijn…” said Van den Berg, putting down the boom mic and rubbing his eyes.  “Pijn….”               At least one thing is clear, thought Ndosi.  Despite the horror of the affliction, at least as the Madness is linguistic in nature, it cannot be infectious.                               Van den Berg muttered, “Pijn,” his face contorted with hatred, as he reached for a nearby scalpel.

James Burr

I have had many short stories published in novellas, journals and Independent Press magazines, including Suspect Thoughts, Darkness Rising, Bizarro Central, Raw Edge and Ideomancer. My first collection of short stories, Ugly Stories for Beautiful People was published in 2007. A full publishing history and list of reviews can be found at http://james-burr.blogspot.co.uk/.

Fracture Clinic

Smith watched with trepidation as the man before him left in a wheelchair, his leg in a cast.  Smith was next in line.  The room was well lit and clean.  Biohazard and x-ray signs were dotted around.  Nurses and doctors bustled around him, as he waited for his appointment.  The technician arrived.

“Mr. Smith?  Come this way.”

The private room was cool.

“Mr. Smith, our records show an outstanding balance to the government of $500.  Parking fines.”

“Yes.”

“Standard penalty is a wrist.  Don’t worry, treatment is free.”

The technician reached back and lifted a small, but adequately heavy hammer.

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.

Jack in the box

My name is Jim. I am six years old. My brother is a Jack in the box. His name is Jack and I have put him in a small box. When I cranks the handle, he pops up with a scary look. It was very funny in the beginning. But I do not like my new toy anymore. It has started to smell and his eyes have popped out. I also have a little sister. She is called Jane. I think I will cut up her into a jigsaw puzzle instead. Thousands of pieces and all will be blood red.

Mathias Jansson

Mathias Jansson is a Swedish art critic and horror poet. He has been published in magazines as The Horror Zine, Dark Eclipse, Schlock and The Sirens Call. He has also contributed to over 100 different horror anthologies from publishers as Horrified Press, James Ward Kirk Fiction, Source Point Press, Thirteen Press etc.

You can find out more about Mathias at his homepage.

Scarecrow

Out in the field, tied up on its pole, Harry’s scarecrow twitched. The button eyes were always open. It watched Harry’s ma creep out to meet her beau. It watched Harry’s dad following, shotgun prepped.
It noticed Harry wake screaming from a nightmare. ‘Mum!’
Fuelled by the memories of Harry’s love in its creation, the scarecrow hauled itself up from the mud.
‘I’m coming Harry,’ it slurred. With stiff legs it stalked the furrows.
Harry sat huddled. He heard a shuffle, then a stumbling on the landing.
‘Dad’s drunk again,’ he thought.
‘I’m here Harry.’
Lice crawled under the door.

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 11/26/2017

‘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

His Cousin’s Tale

“You’ve gotta be kiddin’ me.” The dwarf took a deep gulp of ale. A bit of froth dripped from his moustache to his beard. “Tryin’ to terrify ol’ Galbur, eh? Well, it didn’t work. That story’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard in years, boy.”

“Think what you will,” replied Ernoth, the tavern’s bartender, “but Alret was shaken. I’ve never seen him so upset.” Ernoth was in his twenties, but was hardly offended by his aged patron’s use of the word boy. Dwarves age into the hundreds, and Galbur, a traveling merchant who often spends a night in the tavern while passing through, had more than a few gray hairs wrapped in his auburn braids. “You know as well as I do that my cousin has no reason to lie about his travels.”

“Aye, no reason, apart from impressin’ you and anyone else fool enough to listen. This whole adventurin’ craze with young’uns is nonsense. It’s just a bunch of travel and trouble mixed together.” Galbur snorted, downing the last of his drink. “Still, I suppose it’s better to have your cousin forge his path as a travelin’ storyteller of sorts than hang around here as a farmer or some such, even if he is tryin’ to make you deathly afraid of a bloody box.” The dwarf chuckled. “Now, then, be a good lad. Give us another, and spare me your kin’s mistruths.”

Ernoth reclaimed the tavern’s mug and placed it below a tap. “He did mention something that might interest you. There’s been an awful harvest in a few villages just east of here.”

“Is that right? See now, that’s a bit more handy than a woeful tale for children. Have they got enough to get by?”

“They might have enough for themselves, but they wouldn’t sell Alret so much as a scrap when he passed through. He was glad to have a proper meal when he arrived here.” Ernoth passed the refilled mug back across the bar. “You often head east when you leave, don’t you? If I were you I’d take some food to sell along with your usual stock.”

Galbur bellowed a laugh, shaking in his stool. “Forget all the damn junk I’ve got loaded now. If they’re hungry I’ll leave the lot out back–if you don’t mind, of course, lad–and load the cart full with salted meats, onions, potatoes, and bread first thing in the mornin’. I’d not likely sell anything else if they’re all starvin’, anyway.” He took another deep drink, belching afterwards. “Well, thank Albert for me. And you, as well, for bein’ the messenger.”

Ernoth grinned as his cousin’s name was misspoken. The dwarf had a tendency for ignoring names as he was always hearing more of them on the road. The fact that he was able to remember that of a humble bartender was an unspoken compliment. “Paying your tab regularly is thanks enough for me. It’s not as though I could load a cart and go there myself. Someone has to tend the tavern while the sun is up.”

“Aye, and regale the midday patrons with fairytales while we wait for the servin’ wenches to come at sunset.” Galbur laughed again, the floorboards groaning beneath his bouncing seat. “I guess your cousin’s folly’s good for somethin’.”

“Alret was here?” called a voice from the entrance. Variel, the town’s blacksmith, made her way to the bar, taking the stool to the left of the dwarf. “Did I miss him?”

“You did,” Ernoth replied. “He headed north with his companions. They’re searching for another ancient ruin. I hope his journey will be safer than the last.”

“Aye, it’ll make for another fine story, to be sure,” Galbur said with a wink. “Say now, let’s have a second opinion, eh, lad? Tell her what you told me. See what she makes of your cousin’s bloody fable.”

Ernoth sighed. “My dwarven friend refuses to believe that there could be unknown dangers in the world. While Alret was adventuring, he and his cohorts came across a chest–”

“Hold there, lad,” Galbur interrupted, scratching at his damp chin. “Don’t rush right to the end. Tell the lady just what sort of adventurin’ it was that they were up to.”

“The same as he hopes to do now. He was scavenging a ruin with his colleagues.”

“They were robbin’ a crypt, the way you told it earlier. Dark, dismal, rancid with the smell of death and decay. Seems you’re leavin’ out all the flavorful details.”

“That’s hardly how he described it, or what I told you, for that matter. A ruin strewn with ancient corpses is hardly a crypt. It was likely a besieged castle that had been broken and battered long ago, having been reclaimed by nature since.”

Galbur shrugged. “I reckon a stinking, miserable crypt’d be more likely to hold treasures than some wreckage of an old fort left to rot. Albert’s smart enough to know that, too.”

“Let Ernoth tell his cousin’s tale,” Variel said, resting a hand on the old dwarf’s shoulder. “So, he came across a chest?”

“Yes. It appeared ordinary enough, so, naturally, one of Alret’s companions went to open the chest. When he did–”

“You said it was a man with giant’s blood, might have been twice as tall as me, didn’t you, lad?”

“My cousin said so. A hardened warrior from the mountains in the north. When he approached the chest and began to open it…” Ernoth took a deep breath. “Well, the chest attacked.”

Variel nodded. “Trapped chests aren’t unheard of.”

“It wasn’t a trap. The chest itself put up a fight. It sprang to life, thrashing about the room, flapping its lid back and forth. There were dozens of sharpened teeth in its maw. This chest flailed this way and that, trying to slaughter the group.”

“There you are, lass. The dumbest thing I’ve heard in years.”

“It killed the giant man! It bit into him as though his bone was soft as butter.”

“The only thing that chest killed was your common sense when you decided to believe in it, boy. I’ve sold every damn sort of chest and box you can imagine. Not a single one has flapped around or nipped at so much as a mouse.”

“If the ruin was a castle, it could have had a mage. The chest may have been enchanted.”

“Magic, is it?” Galbur scoffed. “Come now, you know better than that.”

“I admit, it does seem somewhat far-fetched,” Variel said, leaning back in her stool.

“Yes, but Alret’s reputation is ironclad. He wouldn’t lie about such things.”

Variel nodded again. “Of course, but when it comes to that chest, who are we to say? Alret saw what he saw. Perhaps it really was a trapped chest. In a moment of panic we might’ve seen it the same way.”

“Fine, fine, to each their own. Me, I say it’s a tall tale. The first of many, most like. Maybe next time he’ll come back talkin’ about townsfolk turnin’ into wolves or drinkin’ blood.” Galbur slid his mug back across the counter. “Time’ll tell, eh? In the meantime, keep fillin’ me up, lad.”

Variel left shortly thereafter, and Ernoth returned to his home once the barmaids arrived to take his place. Galbur, however, stayed long into the night, having far too much to drink and entertaining his fellow patrons with Alret’s ridiculous secondhand story.

The inebriated crowd found the tale as absurd as Galbur had, causing scattered bouts of raucous laughter each time it was told. Eventually the patrons stirred enough of an uproar that none of them took notice as the tavern itself began to creak and sway. It chortled at the naivety of the mortals inside. The structure had sat idle for decades, but determined that tonight would be a truly poetic occasion for the townsfolk to learn about the unending hunger that a wooden creature can possess and the savage wrath it can unleash.

Ethan Hedman

Ethan Hedman is a speculative fiction writer from Cutler Bay, Florida who spends most of his time trying to lure new, compelling stories out of his imagination.

You can follow his work on his homepage and Instagram.

How To Prepare Roadkill

During a quiet spell at work I searched the internet for tried and tested ways of jointing and cooking a human. On the way home I drove to the supermarket, purchasing a meat cleaver, a plastic sheet and an extra large wok.

 

I timed it perfectly. As my prey stepped off the pavement I put my foot down, stopping only to collect his carcass. There was a fair amount of meat on the man. My mouth watered imagining ways I’d cook him. Stir-fried. Poached. Braised…

 

 

What I wasn’t prepared for were the bloodcurdling screams when I began to dismember him.

CR Smith

CR Smith is a student of Fine Art at the University of Kent, UK. She splits her time between art and writing and has a liking for Gothic fiction. Her work has been published in such places as 101 Words, 50-Word Stories, Ink In Thirds, Sic Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Train Flash Fiction Magazine, Spelk Fiction, Ellipsis Zine, Paragraph Planet, Zeroflash, Visual Verse, Glove Lit Zine and Ad Hoc Fiction. She also has a short story in The Infernal Clock horror anthology with two further pieces scheduled for upcoming anthologies. Her artwork has appeared in Calamus Journal, Hypnopomp Magazine, Green Light Literary Journal, Flash Frontier, Moonchild Magazine and Formercactus.

You can follow CR on her homepage and Instagram.

The Parasite

It will damage the optic nerve en route to your sinus cavity, but you will not be blinded. It needs your eyes. You will see it, amorphous and dark, always at the edges of your vision, writhing. Growing. The incubation will end by the dawn, when it will crawl across the dry tongue of your corpse and begin to feed. And when you are nothing but a suit of soulless flesh, it will take your form and go home to your family. Your mother will sit beside it at the dinner table. They’ll drink coffee together and it will laugh.

H.B. Diaz

I am a lover of all things mysterious and strange. For my day job, I manage author and independent retail accounts for Penguin Random House, Inc., but I spend my nights wide-eyed and writing about the weird. I live with my husband in an historic (and probably haunted) Maryland town.

Two If By Sea

The evening sky was clear over Waikiki and the moonlight danced on the steady ocean waves. Miranda and Tommy sat on their straw mat and dug their toes into the cool sand, watching a young couple bodysurf nearby.

Miranda hiked up her sundress and pulled a flask out of her garter. She took a swig then offered some to Tommy but he declined.

“Drink, baby,” Miranda said. “It could be hours before they come to shore.”

“I’ll wait,” Tommy responded. “Let ‘em bask in that lovely mixture of salt water and oblivion, just as we had. Before they turned us.”

Jennifer Canaveral

Jennifer Canaveral is from San Francisco but currently lives in Kodiak, AK. Her work has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, Canadian journal Blood & Bourbon, and on the Horror Tree and Friday Flash Fiction websites. She is working on various projects, including a collection of short horror stories, a novel, a memoir, and, most importantly, her writer’s webpage.

Trembling With Fear 11/19/2017

‘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

The Scutterings

I know they are out hunting again. I hear their scampering’s and scuttering’s as they sneak ever nearer, waiting in the dark. Stalking. Watching.

It’s at this time of year that they hatch. They travel with the blowing leaves, a twitch in the corner of your eye, a blur across your vision, masking the sound of their clawed feet under the rustle of the leaf.

It sounds insane to those who do not know: who have not been blessed or perhaps cursed, with the sight. The ugly realisation that we are not alone in our cruel intelligence.

They bide their time as summer dies and look for an opportunity.

Let me ask you a question. How many of society’s outsiders vanish?

The homeless, the tramp, the vagrant. All of those we try to avoid thinking about. Those living in the dark, lonely places away from our sight.

Some are fated to become the feast of the Autumn born.

We hardly notice their sudden disappearance? Who cares that the unsightly in our society just… vanish. We don’t bother to ask where they go.

Only when our own beloved pets go missing and homemade posters adorn lampposts in the neighbourhood, do we ever begin to wonder.

Food. The creatures of the falling foliage regard us and our furry pets, as food. Clever food. Intelligent food. Dangerous food even.

 

That’s why they hunt in packs, letting the windblown leaf, cover their stealthy advance till they are near. Till they can pounce. Until they can kill and feed.

You must… must… have seen something. The faded shape suddenly speeding across the road in front of your car. A sudden scrape sound around your feet. Remember the shock of fear before you rationalise that it’s just the breeze and a few dead leaves idly tumbling across the ground.

You are so easily tricked by the dark creatures, in their seasonal migration from the tree tops in Autumn. They journey to breed in the winter months of long darkness as they have for millennia, this ancient nemesis of humanity.

You will never see them directly. You will fail to describe their small jaws, sharp needle teeth, mouldy green eyes. You will not be able to relate their colour or number of limbs. Nor could you know of their instinct to secrete themselves in the soggy piles of detritus, waiting for a gust of wind. The same piles of leaves you allow your children to kick with such happy abandon, under the predatory gaze of the pre-winter killers.

Be warned and learn from one who knows. Listen for the breathing of the wind, the touch of decaying greenery, and try not to walk alone as the nights draw in.

Martin Fuller

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

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

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

Crimes of Passion

Antoni sat in his car and gaped at the statement for the joint credit card. Her affair was itemised.

The bedroom light was on as he pulled up. His key wouldn’t work in the front door. He hammered on it. No reply.

The key wouldn’t open the back door, either.

There was a half house brick in his hand, edges rough, corner jutting.

The back door jerked open. His cuckold leapt out, shirtless, brazen and cursing. Antoni quietened him with the brick, and went after the woman.

He’d need to find a new woman. One of them would be faithful.

Michael Parker

Michael James Parker is a struggling amateur author striving to become a struggling professional one. He writes horror and sci-fi, mainly, but will try his hand at anything. His work has appeared in anthologies by Dark Chapter Press, and Iron Press.

Flashes

When I woke up yesterday I realized I could see how people around me were going to die. I said hi to my neighbor and saw a flash of him strapped to a gurney in a white robe, an IV inserted in each arm. Confused, I ran back inside. I remained inside all day, I didn’t even look at people on the street passing by.

This morning I looked into the mirror and saw a flash. It was my neighbor, holding a piece of rope as it descended around my neck. Then there was a bang in the next room.

Tara Devlin

Tara A. Devlin spent the first two thirds of her life living in Australia, the next third living in Japan, and now finally resides in Europe. When she’s not procrastinating on the internet or looking after her two cats she enjoys horror and pew pew movies. You can find her collection of horror and fantasy writings at taraadevlin.com and on her Amazon Page.

No Ordinary Game

The film hadn’t scared them so much as intrigued them.

“Let’s make a Ouija board – there must be a DIY on YouTube,” Joy suggested.

“Wouldn’t work,” Bill dismissed.

“Let’s ask Mr. Vincent in the toyshop – he’ll order one – knows nothing about toys!” The kids slapped a high five.

 

Mr. Vincent frowned, “Ouija board? Why of course.” He shuffled behind the curtain hiding the back of the shop.

“I told you he knows nothing about toys,” Bill whispered.

In the darkness Mr. Vincent lit a black candle then blew out the match.

“So true, so true. But about the occult…”

Naomi Rawle

N.O.A. Rawle graduated MMU with a degree in writing and philosophy. She lives with her family in the middle of mythical Thessaly, teaching English by day and scribbling creepy weird tales by candle light into the wee hours of the morning. You can get to know her better at www.noarawle.blogspot.com.

Trembling With Fear 11/12/2017

‘Following on from our recent Halloween edition at TWF, remember we have a submission call out for Christmas-themed stories. Twist the topic, bring us your disturbed elves, your winter solstice rituals, your rabid Rudolph’s, turn that jolly Santa into something else, make it original. As always, send us your stories as drabbles (exactly 100 words) or flash pieces (1500 words and under).

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

Charla Nash

I used to tease my school buddy, Sandra: she would never be brave enough to keep a monkey. 

She proved me wrong. 

It was Friday the 13th when Travis arrived. We felt damn lucky. That weekend we, best friends forever, neither slept nor had meals. 

In some weeks Sandra let the chimpanzee out of his cage. 

The Herolds, Sandra’s family, ran a tow-truck business. When Travis got to ride in the truck, we asked: ‘Steak?’ Nod. ‘Cupcakes, pretzels?’ Nod. ‘Lemon tea?’ Nod.  

On his birthday pink champagne. 

Once, not himself, he stormed out and roamed. Sandra called me to interfere. 

The chunklets of my fingers reminded a witness of minced meat. Most of my scalp went, my eyelids got bitten, my nose and lips were ripped off. 

Not my ears. 

Everyone talks about my ears, noble like ivory. Nobody mentions my removed eyes and the hole in my face to drink through. 

Whenever I have visitors from hell, I try to chase them away by touching my forehead – but I have only one thumb left, and it is numb. And there’s nothing to feel, only a polished yet raw bust to represent I’m able to chin up. 

I made it to the Oprah show, I was wearing a veil. 

Sandra? We are not on speaking terms. What words could we exchange? 

I might look shattered but I remained the same. 

Travis was shot dead. 

If I had my eyes, they could still talk to him, offering relief. 

 

Agnes Marton

Agnes Marton is a Hungarian-born poet, writer, librettist, Reviews Editor of The Ofi Press, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, founding member of Phoneme Media. Recent publications include award-winning ‘Estuary: A Confluence of Art and Poetry’, her poetry collection ‘Captain Fly’s Bucket List’ and two chapbooks with Moria Books.

In the Woods

You’ve gotten all tied up in how dark and mysterious everyone says the woods are.  There’s nothing here but the trees and squirrels.  Come on, I’ll show you.

Don’t jump at that rustling.  It’s just a mouse in the grass. See, there’s an owl diving to catch it.

Hush.  Those aren’t fingers in your hair.  It’s just the branches brushing against you.

Don’t worry about the fog.  It’s not entirely out of reason for the weather to turn hazy at this time of year.  …I think.

That snarling?  It’s probably…  Look, maybe we should go back.

…Which way is back?

Steppen Sawicki

Steppen Sawicki lives in Michigan, where she writes horror and science fiction stories and consumes caffeine. You can read more of her work at SteppenSawicki.com.

Pink Poodle

Amy found a pink poodle buried halfway into their lawn. “Amy! Come play!”
“You’re a talking, doggie?”
“Yes!” The poodle’s eyes shined. “Pet me!”
She reached for it.
“Amy!” her mother called. “Lunchtime!”
The poodle yipped as she hurried inside.
She ate PB&J on the porch and watched the poodle emerge. The top was a fluffy dog, but the bottom was a huge pink crab with orange tiger stripes, scissor-shaped claws, and gnashing teeth hidden under the dog’s torso. It crawled to the neighbor’s lawn and burrowed back down.
Davey Chen came skipping outside.
“Davey!” the poodle said. “Come play!”

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.

You can find out more about his work at his author website!

Tea Party

Edward hands his guests china cups. Several pairs of glassy eyes stare back. It?s a quiet gathering. Edward is the centre of attention. Just as he likes it. He combs Lillian?s blonde tresses. Silky soft and real. Shorn from her dead scalp. He remembers the girl vividly. Her wide pink mouth and lolling tongue.
A knock makes him jump. ?Put your dolls away. It?s dinner time.? His wife announces.
Guiltily Edward drops his hand. Red faced he stands up knocking Josephine who falls into Lillian?s lap.
?They?re historical artefacts.? He whispers.
Edward kisses each doll?s cheek. His silent adoring girls.

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 11/05/2017

Halloween’s behind us although the long dark nights remain. So, what to do? Well, I don’t know about anybody else but I’m using November to create some new nightmares and like so many thousands of others have signed up to this year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I joined up a few years back, most efforts were a few half-hearted attempts then a couple of years back I took it a bit more seriously, used it to stop the writer’s eternal enemy—procrastination. One novel completed got through to a second reading round at Hodderscape. It now lurks in a drawer to be dusted off and revisited one day but its reception gives me hope. Last year’s effort wasn’t so much something completely new as to force me to finish an ongoing work. The first few chapters are now with Gollancz—it may fail but you never know. This year editing and beta reading has eaten into my writing time so I am being selfish(!) and reclaiming November. I have signed up to NaNoWriMo. I have an outline, which, for a pantser like me is amazing. There may be blood. But I am looking forward to it. Any one else up for the challenge?

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

First off, as Steph mentioned it’s that certain month where many authors try to get a ton of words down that they can hopefully eventually turn into something publishable. For those of you who are trying, I wish you the best of luck! With the family and a brand new day job, I just won’t be able to try this year.

Secondly, I have to say that I really think the image that I choose for today’s short is more horrifying than anything that you’ll be reading today. I should probably apologize for it but I just…. Can’t…
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

Just A Little Bloob

Kathy couldn’t remember exactly when it progressed to hatred. She had a hazy recollection of the slide from young lust to something resembling love to begrudging acceptance, and then bored indifference, but when it finally crossed the line into hate somehow escaped her.

 

Joe wasn’t mean or abusive, nothing like that, but he was indifferent to her, to her wants or needs or feelings. They’d evolved into a dead end couple working dead end jobs to maintain their dead end house in their dead end neighborhood.

 

Not the fairy tale she’d often imagined as a little girl, no, not at all, much more like a reflection of her mother’s life when she looked in her mirror, becoming more clear and distinct by the day.

 

And she hated it. She hated her life, she hated Joe for his casual indifference, and she had to admit, she hated herself for just going along with it, day after day.

 

It had become worse lately, though. She began making an effort to eat better, more salads, more vegetables, leaner proteins, and Joe would have nothing to do with it.

 

“You can do what you want, but I’m not eating that Goddam rabbit food. I’ll pick something up on the way home from work for myself.”

 

And he did. He tried a few of the usual fast food places, and finally settled on a new place in town, the “Taco Tower”. He’d bring home spicy smelling bags and eat their contents while she had her salad, neither of them talking much at all during their meals any more.

 

The worst part for her wasn’t what he ate, not by a long shot. It was the aftermath.

 

He’d begun farting regularly, producing the most obscene, vile odors she’d ever had to endure. She’d worked in a nursing home as a teen, and tending to the bed pans was nothing compared to the repugnant smells he produced.

 

She soon learned that the loud ones, the ones that sounded like thick leather being torn, weren’t so bad at all. It seemed most of their energy went into producing the loud, wet noises.

 

No, the worst ones were what Joe came to call “a little Bloob.”

 

The tiniest popping sound, followed by a poof that reminded Kathy of actors blowing out candles in the old black and white movies. That was the “Bloob”.

 

And those produced the most hideous, rank odors imaginable. She’d be lying on the couch, he in his recliner, and as soon as she heard the little pop, she’d pull up the comforter and cover her nose and mouth with it. Even their little Jack Russel Terrier would hear that sound, jump off the couch, and trot outside through his doggie door to the fresh air out back.

 

With his sensitive little sniffer, she didn’t blame him. Even dogs had their limits, it seemed.

 

As time went on, Joe stopped there more frequently, and it got worse. She’d taken to keeping a can of air freshener at her side at all times, like a Sheriff’s six-gun in a lawless town, to try and offset the revolting odors emanating from his chair.

 

The arguments got worse, more bitter as time passed. One day, he made an extremely rude comment as she was in the kitchen, and she stopped her work, not believing what she just heard.

 

She finally lost it. She’d had enough. She raced in from the kitchen, her chef’s knife in hand from slicing vegetables, and told him she couldn’t take it any longer. She wanted out.

 

And he laughed. He actually laughed in her face, laughing so hard, he produced one of his room clearing “Bloobs”.

 

She shrieked, gripped the handle of the knife in both hands, and plunged it deep into his gut.

 

Even before he howled in pain, she heard the hissing, wooshing sound. The sound of a broken air line, or perhaps escaping compressed air.

 

She understood immediately that she’d made a critical mistake. She’d hit the stomach, possibly the intestines.

 

Her eyes widened to comical proportions, realizing what she’d done. She began backpedaling, waving her arms frantically, but the stench hit her hard, a noxious cloud straight from the very bowels of Hell itself.

 

Decomposing bodies floating in raw sewage would be spring roses in a field of lavender compared to the malodorous effluvium quickly filling the room. The back of her legs hit the couch, and she went down hard, choking and gagging. She leaned to the side and vomited profusely, trying to get it all out and not choke on it, completely ignoring Joe’s frenzied cries for help.

 

The Jack Russel was already out in the yard, howling instead of barking.

 

She rolled off the couch onto the floor, praying the stench would rise, like stifling air does. She began crawling toward the door to the kitchen, to try and get away, and as she passed the wall vent, she heard the click of the heat coming on downstairs.

 

And they heated their home with natural gas.

 

The resulting explosion shattered the windows in seventeen houses nearby, causing severe structural damage to the ones closest. A Desert Storm veteran who lived down the street was quoted on TV as saying it looked worse to him than direct hits by missile strikes from air support in the desert. He was not at all surprised to hear that the governor had mobilized the National Guard.

 

Neighboring towns had to lend support, tending to the wounded, and transporting the worst cases to nearby hospitals.

 

Neighbors first thought an aircraft fell from the sky, hitting the house directly, the fuel exploding on impact. The damage was too severe, too total to have been caused by anything inside. Kathy and Joe were normal people, they said, not criminals or terrorists.

 

Arson and bomb squad investigators ran every forensic test in their arsenal, looking for trace evidence. They suspected a meth lab, a hidden cache of explosives and weapons, but every test came back negative for those elements.

 

The only unusual result was an exceptionally high trace of natural methane, which they could not explain. There were no signs of accelerants, and the trigger seemed to be the pilot in the furnace going on as it should, nothing more than that. Even the FBI, once called in, had no meaningful results from their labs at Langley.

 

The medical examiner couldn’t shed much light, as there just wasn’t enough left of Joe or Kathy to autopsy.

 

The mystery remained front page news for a couple days, only to be replaced by the latest wave of scandal and accusations making the rounds in the Capital.

 

Locals looked forward to the new coffee house being built on the grounds of the former “Taco Tower”, which had been shuttered and abandoned by its owners without explanation.

 

Life moves on.

 

 

THE END

 

G.A. Miller

G.A. Miller is a new voice in the chorus of horror authors, drawing his ideas from every day, commonplace events that take unforeseen turns down dark corridors, often with horrific consequences.
Born between the original Japanese “Gojira”, and the Americanized “Godzilla, King of the Monsters!”, G.A.’s interest in horror developed early on, nourished by televised movies on “Shock Theater” (Hosted by Zacherley, the “Cool Ghoul”), Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines, old issues of the late, great EC Comics, the British Horror Invasion of great films from Hammer Studios…the list goes on.
Making a living as a technician, he enjoys stepping away from the digital world, where ones and zeros are absolute, and entering the world of dark imagination, where a single “What If?” can turn normalcy to nightmare in a frenzied heartbeat, and rules of logic do not apply.
His published tales include:
“Bequeath” – Hinnom Magazine 001, Gehenna & Hinnom publishers.
“Shower Time” – The Edge: Infinite Darkness, Patrick Reuman publisher.
“Ear Wax” – Year’s Best Body Horror Anthology 2017 – Gehenna & Hinnom publishers.
“Nightmare” – Horror Bites Magazine, November 2017 Issue
G.A. lives where Lovecraft lived, due south of where King lives. Perhaps there’s something in the water in New England? One wonders…

Website – http://gamiller.info/

Blog – http://gamillerdotblog.wordpress.com/

Break Her Back

He first heard the rhyme when he was eight years old. He believed it absolutely. He couldn’t imagine hurting his mother. That was when he started avoiding the cracks on the sidewalk. His mother chided him for staring at his feet, but he couldn’t stop.
For forty years he followed his own rule, but the inevitable happened. He was at an intersection. He stepped off the kerb without checking. Looking down he saw his foot, sitting neatly on a crack between two pavers.
He prayed the gods would forgive him. His phone rang. It was father. It was bad news.

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.

Let Down Your Hair

The old tower was covered with moss and ancient vines. The doorway was bricked with dry crumbling mortar.
The Prince called to the turret high above and a woman answered.
“Thank goodness. Help, A wicked witch chained me here years ago.”
“The doorway’s bricked shut.”
“I’ll let down my long hair. Climb it.”
Her golden hair cascaded downward like a waterfall. The Prince caught the first strands, but the hairy deluge continued until he was trapped and the weight suffocated him.
Rapunzel pulled up her hair. Damn, I’ve killed another one. Not to worry, the wolves will eat him tonight.

Robert 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 #4

Strangely Funny IV

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. A piece of flash fiction and a half dozen 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 September of 2017. The novelette, Dejanna of Mars, will be published in August 2018, and the second book in the Foxborn series, ‘Here There Be Dragons,” is scheduled for February 2018.

Bugs #3

Doctor Henson ran to the injured girl, laying in the rain by the roadside. He decided on mouth to mouth. As he breathed, movement to his left caught his eye. A puddle was forming rapidly around them. He had to reanimate her quickly or the puddle would cover them both. The water covered his ankles, then his legs. As he breathed into her mouth, something tickled his tongue. My God! Is she kissing me? Then, it ran down his throat. Shocked, he spat it out. The thing ran to join its companions that were the puddle. The cockroaches engulfed him.

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].

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