Trembling With Fear 05/26/2019

I’ve seen a few comments on Facebook recently from fellow writers struggling to free themselves from the depression that comes from rejection and the frustration of not being able to break through when you know your writing is good enough. I’ve also seen the responses of others who commiserate and offer nothing but support and good vibes. It’s that feeling of solidarity which I love in our community. There is no shame in rejection, it does not always reflect on the quality of your writing, is often subjective or could be the right story at the wrong time, a great story but not the right fit. So many reasons, the majority of which take nothing away from your writing and do not reflect on you as an author. Do not be ashamed to admit rejection, instead be proud that you are writing and submitting, that you are continuing to hone your craft. You have us all in your corner, cheering you on.

Now to this week’s stories:

Trembling With Fear’s lead story this week is Scruples by Catherine Berry is a wonderfully atmospheric piece. Horror in the middle of nowhere, a good Samaritan who makes a mistake, the apparent innocence of children. Harmless, aren’t they, the little ones? Nothing is explicitly stated, except right at the end, yet all is told. The hints, tension and pacing are all spot on.

First Date by Lionel Ray Green is a tragic tale and one that is horrible to consider. The desperation of an abused woman frees her from one horror, only to succumb to another unseen. A clever use of twisting the impulse to survive.

Overcast by Patrick Winters has ruined my harmless hobby of finding images in clouds. The narrator in this also gazes up at those fluffy white bundles but they are not innocent. They are the death that is too come. A good example of taking something regarded as innocent and fun and painting it black.

Sisterly Love by Scarlet Berry takes sibling rivalry to a different and tragic level. A cold, calculating child is always scary. Seems to be a trend in this week’s stories!

 

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

I’m still slammed at work at the moment. I’d like to personally say welcome to our new Patreons and let everyone know that we should have edits for the upcoming TWF anthologies done this weekend! If all goes well, covers and preview copies will be ordered this next week! Hurray~

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Scruples

The highway had flooded, forcing Sam to detour onto an old back road; but at least the rain had stopped. She’d driven through gloom for hours, adding to the depressing atmosphere of the desiccated scenery. There wasn’t much to see except overgrown fields and an occasional dilapidated farmhouse.

 

“Why won’t this detour just end?” Sam griped, flicking the radio off as the signal fizzled with static.

 

Movement further up the road caught her eye. There, on the right near the edge of a field, dirty and ragged, something strange was coming out of the grass. It looked like a kid.

 

Slowing as she drove by, Sam turned in her seat to get a better look. Sure enough, there was a child under a mess of tangles and grime, carrying a baby. She watched the child make an aborted move towards the car, only to shrink back.

 

What were they even doing out here? Driving at a crawl, Sam looked for some sign of other people. A sick feeling slithered up from her stomach, burning her throat. There was nothing.

 

“Hell,” she sighed, pulling off the road. She watched the kids in the rear-view mirror, torn between a creeping feeling of unease and a nauseating guilt. It wasn’t safe to pick up hitchhikers; but those were kids. Grabbing her phone, Sam told herself, “Okay. Okay, first thing.”

 

A quick call to 911 had an operator promise a patrol car would be sent. Sam was told to stay in her vehicle and wait until they arrived.

 

 

 

Half-turned in her seat, knee against the center console, Sam alternated between watching the kids and scanning the area. Thirty minutes had passed since she’d called and it was starting to get dark.

 

The children hadn’t moved from their spot near the road. Occasionally, the older one would stare at the car before slowly looking away. The kid seemed to be wilting, struggling under the weight of the baby. Sam watched, stomach twisting, as the kid used a knee to try pushing the baby higher. From what she could see, they looked half-starved and desperately in need of care.

 

“God, this is a bad idea,” she grumbled, biting her lip as she eyed a bag of snacks on the passenger seat. A bottle of water and half a box of granola bars. It wasn’t much, but the kids probably needed it. Leg bouncing with nerves, she closed her eyes. The cops had to be there soon.

 

Glancing out the back window, she watched the older child wobble, almost drop, and said, “Screw it.”

 

Keys clutched in one hand, bag in the other, Sam stepped out of the car, looked around, and slowly headed towards the kids. She made it to the back bumper before the older kid noticed her, head snapping up so hard Sam winced in sympathy.

 

“It’s okay,” she said, trying to be soothing. She hoped they didn’t notice the slightly panicked edge in her voice. “Help is coming, but I have some food if you guys are hungry.”

 

She waited a beat. Two. Three. The kids did nothing as Sam opened the bag, angling it to show them the food.

 

“I’m going to come a little closer and put the bag down, okay? Then, I’m going to get back in my car. The food is for you.”

 

Slowly, watching in case they startled, she took a few steps and put the bag on the ground. The baby’s face was hidden, but the older child watched, eyes fixed on Sam, unblinking.

 

“It’s okay,” she assured, as the children edged towards her,“you can eat.”

 

 

 

Hours later, a police cruiser pulled up behind Sam’s car.

 

“Dispatch, this is Kyle. Quinn and I have found the car described in the 911 report. No immediate sign of anyone. We’re going to have a look.”

 

“Empty,” Kyle said, as they came around her car, flashlights shining through the windows. Turning toward the dark field behind him, he called, “Hello? This is the State Police. Can anyone hear me?”

 

“HELLO?” Quinn hollered, walking down the road. “We received a 911 call. If you need assistance but aren’t able to respond, try to make some kind of noise.”

 

“Think we should look around?” Kyle asked after a few minutes.

 

“I guess,” Quinn agreed. He stopped, staring the edge of the field just behind his partner. “What’s that?”

 

Flashlights shifted, landing on the kids huddled low to the ground, practically invisible in the long grass.

 

“Hey, kids” Kyle called softly, as he crouched down, “we’re Police Officers. Could you come out?”

 

Slowly, the kids crept onto the road; wet, muddy, and splattered in blood. The officers shared a look. A silent conversation passed between them. Quinn turned, closely scanning the area, hand resting on his gun.

 

“It’s okay,” Kyle assured the kids, holding out his hand. “It’s okay.”

 

 

 

“Kyle. Quinn. What’s your APB?”

 

The soft crackle of the radio joined the wet, crunchy, smacking that filled the air as the children feasted. They hadn’t eaten so well in years.

Catherine Berry

Catherine Berry lives in Michigan, sings with her dog, and loves potatoes.

Her work has been published in Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear and in the anthology Trembling With Fear: Year 1.More of her work can be found at www.caterinaberyl.blogspot.com

First Date

Lip dripping blood, Anna slipped into the water, dipping low.

Hurting and hiding but living.

The voice of her attacker, a first-date nightmare of a man, faded into the distance, his quarry lost.

Anna’s sigh of relief sent gentle ripples toward the shoreline.

A glint of moonlight drew Anna’s eyes to a weeping willow along the bank.

Anna felt a sharp tug on her leg.

At the same time, she discerned the source of the shimmer.

It was an aluminum sign cradled loosely by the tree’s branches:

DO NOT FEED THE ALLIGATORS

Anna disappeared underwater, from one predator to another.

 

Lionel Ray Green

Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy 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 Alabama’s Emerging Writers, The Heart of a Devil, Fifty Flashes, How Beer Saved the World 2, Graveyard, Frightening, Tales from the Grave, In Creeps the Night, and 22 More Quick Shivers. His short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition All Hallows’ Prose and his short story “A Tale of Two Shards” was third runner-up in the WriterWriter 2018 International Fantasy Competition Phoenix Rising. His work has also appeared in The Poet’s Haven Digest anthology It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, in Issue 1 of Cross+Decay magazine, and in the 2017 issue of From the Depths magazine as well as in Trembling With Fear, an online feature of the Horror Tree website.

LINK:

lionelraygreen.wordpress.com

Overcast 

That one looks like a bunny, someone might say. Or a peace sign.

No, I could answer back. It’s my old friend, John Dearing, getting sliced in two by a sheet of falling glass.

I’ve always seen death in the clouds, you understand? Not sure how, but I do. Premonitions of demise, warnings of fatal accidents—all fluffy and floating along.

I saw my parent’s car wreck in a booming cumulonimbus; and I knew my wife would die of cancer, thanks to a wispy altostratus.

And that one there, passing by right now—what do you suppose it looks like . . . ?

 

Patrick Winters

Patrick Winters is a graduate of Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL, where he earned a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. He has been published in the likes of Sanitarium Magazine, Deadman’s Tome, Trysts of Fate, and other such titles. A full list of his previous publications may be found at his author’s site, if you are so inclined to know: http://wintersauthor.azurewebsites.net/Publications/List

Sisterly Love

            “Mama, I want a sister,” I said.

 

            “You already have one,” replied my mother.

 

            “I want one that I like,” I responded.

 

            I hated my little sister.  She was a brat who tattled on me whenever I hit her.  I was always having to take care of her.

 

            One day I did.

 

            It was laundry day.  The washtub was filled with boiling water.  We were alone for a moment.  My little sister leaned too far forward and fell in; with a little help.

 

            As my mother held her baby’s drowned, blistered body, I asked, “Now can I have a sister?”

Scarlet Berry

Scarlet Berry is a Yooper. She’s been married forty years to the same man and they raised four children together. She is a mystery wrapped up in a conundrum, and loves to laugh; both evilly and happily.

Master of Lies

Pelo was known throughout the kingdoms as a man with a golden tongue.
A peddler of secrets.
He knew where your enemies slept.
But information hadn’t kept him safe.
Tied down, he asked, “What do you want? I’ll tell you anything.”
Lord Zenlan gazed upon him.
“I have use for your talents Pelo. But your tongue wags far too much.”
“You can trust me! I can keep a secret!”
“You were willing to sell out anyone for your life. No. Taking your tongue will only be the first step in ensuring your silence.”
The blade drew closer, and Pelo screamed.

Stuart Conover

Who does this guy think he is? Not Batman, that’s for sure! 

I did hear he loved the ending to ‘Game of Thrones’ so clearly something is wrong with him. What that could be, we’ll never know! 

Your friendly neighborhood editor-man wanted to throw a drabble into the mix last minute and hope you enjoy! 

Unholy Trinity – Marauders, Missing, Mission

Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.

Marauders

The first man checked the device on his wrist, Braunau am Inn, Austria, 20/04/1889.

They’d arrived safely, now to find the hospital. Leaving the seclusion of the forest on the outskirts of town they followed a worn, twisting track towards their destination.

The first man ushered his companion with the surgical bag inside the hospital and followed the signs towards the maternity ward.

Finding their destination they prepared themselves for the task ahead. A porter, pushing a trolley, approached them. He raised a silenced pistol and fired.

They fell.

Why do these time-travellers insist on coming after Hitler? he thought.

 

Missing

Placing a gloved hand upon the door handle he forced his way inside the residence.

A cloaked man was standing over the body of a mutilated and disembowelled woman. He was holding a knife in one hand and her heart in the other.

Aiming his pistol towards the murderer the man spoke, “Put everything inside your bag and move slowly towards the door.”

Puzzled, he begrudgingly obliged.

Pressing the pistol into the murderer’s back, he cautiously escorted him from 13 Miller’s Court.

“Walk slowly towards the yard on your left.”

In an electric blue flash Jack the Ripper disappeared, forever.

 

Mission

“Do you have everything, Lewis?”

One final check and the man gave a solemn thumbs up.

“Great, now go fetch your companion.”

Lewis left the room, momentarily, returning accompanied by another man dressed in a smart suit, top hat and cape, carrying a leather surgeon’s bag. They both presented the appearance of 19th century gentlemen.

Before securing away his pistol Lewis gesticulated it in front of The Ripper, “Don’t give me cause to use this. Just do exactly as I say.”

Lewis directed his fellow traveller towards a futuristic, arched steel construction.

“Good luck, Lewis. Time to go kill Hitler.”

Gary Hazlewood

With two novels to his name and when not watching soccer Gary enjoys writing short horror tales. He lives a hectic family life outside of a small town in the north of England.

Trembling With Fear 05/19/2019

Thank you for all the lovely birthday wishes I received on Facebook this week. At my age, it is just another day, although the students were somewhat shocked that I didn’t have the day off. As usual, I always get birthday books so my TBR pile has now gone back up, supplemented by Stoker winner The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste and Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (they say vary your reading, which is what do – but still no to romance/chick lit, I can’t, I just can’t – I’m only just about coping with some YA romance in dark fantasy ). Pleased to hear Paul Tremblay won a Stoker for his novel The Cabin at the End of the World. He was present at Edge Lit last year so I managed to get a book signed. Really looking forward to attending Stoker Con next year when it comes to the UK, although before then I’ll be going to Edge Lit in Derby in July. They’ve got a good line up again – Tim Lebbon, Sarah Lotz and Neil Spring amongst others. If you can make it, I would highly recommend the day.

Now to this week’s stories:

Trembling With Fear’s lead story this week is Third Time’s a Charm by Robert Allen Lupton written in the style of a fable. The insects as we know, are supposed to be amongst the most successful of all living creatures on this planet. What we didn’t know was that apparently they were also ‘in charge’ of our world. They had created the ‘Pig People’ as their food source but as that species develops, they are subjected to pesticides, immunity of the population from disease and so on, so that the insects lose their food supply (sound familiar?). Then they spot the apes, something tells me we all know how that’s going to end. A very clear warning to all of us from Nature’s side.

Too Frightened to Move by CR Smith initially appears to be an excellent description of the fear we often feel when listening to a storm from the safety of our beds but she then finishes with a very creepy last line hinting that much more is going on. This turns a place of safety into a place under siege. A good twist away from the expected.

Old Wives’ Tale by Maddison McSweeney takes us back to the folk tradition of the witch (or crone) who can transform herself into an animal to do harm. I enjoyed this because again, it touches on an area of horror – whether folk or dark fairytale or tradition – which is so often overlooked in favour of a mad killer. Perhaps we could have drabbles that are pretty much ‘potted’ Grimms. That would be interesting.

Vow of Chastity by DM Burdett was something you found yourself believing in despite it being totally implausible. Quite often, I will read something and decide there’s no way this could or should happen. With story, I just accepted it – a sign of good story telling – and a perfect last line.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Quick anthology update. We’re in the very final round of updates on the text for the books. The digital cover has been completed. The full cover needs a final page count to be completed.

After that, we’ll, of course, need to order a couple of copies to verify everything checks out on the print edition.

We’re almost there people! One of these years we’ll get a quick turn around.

Offhand, we had a new Patreon sign up in the last week. I want to send out another personal thank you for helping keep this site going! We’re inching towards our next goal, and I’m excited for us to be moving forward!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Third Time’s A Charm

The Ant King called a meeting and all the insects attended. The roaches, beetles, flying insects, biting bugs, and stinging wasps answered his call. They flew, crawled, swam, and marched to the conference.

The Ant King said, “There are too many people. They carry too much water in their bodies. They poison us, they destroy our homes, and they eat too much food. This has to stop.”

The Roach Queen said, “It’s your fault. You bred the bony animals for food. You let them get out of control.”

‘Not true,” said the Ant King. “The mosquitos and fleas were supposed to keep their numbers under control.”

The Mosquito King said, “Not our fault. They created potions to protect themselves. They kill my children by the thousands.”

Queen Flea agreed. “We do our best but their medicines protect them.”

The Ant King pointed at the moths. “If you’d eaten the papyrus like I told you, they wouldn’t have learned to write. That was the beginning of the problem. But no, your larva didn’t like the way it tasted. You brought this on ourselves.”

The Beetle King said, “It’s not the moths’ fault papyrus tastes like so bad. My people eat almost anything, but no one likes papyrus. We have to do something. They’ve modified some of the plants so we can’t eat them. They treat their waste and their dead with chemicals and we can’t eat them. We’re starving.”

The Ant King shouted for order. “I know. That’s why we’re here. We need a solution, not a blame session.”

The Queen Bee of all queen bees said, “Millions of my people die every day. We’ll do our part.”

The Chief Locust said, “My people want war. We’ll breed like crazy and destroy their crops.”

The Beetle King said, “Their power is in their inventions. We’ll crawl inside their machines and destroy them.”

“They have billions of machines, but our numbers are endless. If we lose a life every time we kill a machine, we’ll win,” said the Gnat Prince.

The Ant King laughed, “We’ll show them what it means to have a bug in the system.”

Electricity arced from the computer server and David jumped. He spotted the short immediately. He used plastic tweezers to remove a roasted caterpillar. He slapped his neck and looked at the crushed bee in his hand. Bees swarmed him and he dropped the damaged module. An army of ants crawled over his body and into the thousands of servers.

Carlos pointed at the dark cloud. “Locusts.” The hoard blackened the sky. They ignored the pesticides and devoured the crops to their roots. They forced their way into people’s mouths and suffocated them. The insects packed their bodies into the air intakes of the equipment. The engines overheated and died.

The mosquitos and fleas found a diseased male, swarmed him, and filled themselves with his contaminated blood. They spread it widely and untold millions died. The people never found an antidote to the new pathogen.

In months, the people were reduced to primitive living conditions. Their cities, machines, and power supplies were only a memory, but the insects didn’t stop. The Ant King ordered, “Kill them all.”

The insects met again after the last person died from untreated malaria. The Roach Queen asked, “What do we do now. We have to breed new people.”

The Flea King hopped to the front and said, “Yes, we need new people to prey on. I move we begin immediately.”

The Bee Queen asked, “This will be the third time. Our ancestors tried with lizards and that didn’t work.”

A wasp woman interrupted, “The Pig People were a disaster. They turned on us and we had to kill them all.”

The Flea King said, “Doesn’t mean we quit trying. My children have been watching some small apes. The apes seem peaceful. They never fight. They just play in the trees, breed, and sleep. I believe they have potential. I suggest we develop them.”

After much debate and a fight between the Beetle King and the wasp woman, the insects voted to develop the apes.

The Ant King said, “So be it, but I want the apes under constant surveillance. Let me know immediately if they get out of control.”

The Flea King laughed, “They’re afraid of their own shadows. They won’t be a problem.”

Robert Allen Lupton

Robert Allen Lupton is retired and lives in New Mexico where he is a commercial hot air balloon pilot. Robert runs and writes every day, but not necessarily in that order. He has been published in several anthologies and his short stories are online at www.horrortree.com and  www.crimsonstreets.com. His novel, Foxborn, was published in April, His collection of running themed horror, science fiction, and adventures stories, Running Into Trouble, was published in October 2017, Dragonborn, the Foxborn sequel will be released in April, 2018

 

www.amazon.com/author/luptonra

www.goodreads.com/author/show/15292457.Robert_Allen_Lupton

https://www.hometownreads.com/books/foxborn

 

Old Wives’ Tales

The women of my village believed that cats sucked the breath from babes. I didn’t believe them until I saw my own child gasping for breath, a black cat perched on his chest.

I drove it out with a poker from the fire, slashing its eye. It escaped and fled into the woods. Pursuing the creature, I watched it slip through the open window of a shack where an old crone lived alone.

A maiden answered the door, a vision of the crone on her younger years. I gasped as she emerged from the shadows: she was missing an eye.

 

 

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.  

To Frightened To Move

Trees swayed bending against their will, casting strange shadows across the slanted ceiling of our attic bedroom. We lay there, too frightened to move in case an arm or leg should escape the safety of blankets, taking it in turns to keep watch, our hearts thumping every time the billowing curtains revealed the smallest crack of light, as someone — or something — tried to get in; the window frame rattling, driving rain hitting the misted panes like pebbles thrown from the ground, a sudden flash of lightning illuminating everything, allowing a glimpse of the contorted faces pushed up against the glass.

CR Smith

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

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

Vow Of Chastity

Urgent knocking woke Jaycee. She opened her eyes into the subdued light of the hotel room.

Dan, her husband, the surgeon, watched over her.

“Police! Open up!” More insistent banging.

She remembered the tangle of sheets, her yoga instructor, Dan’s angry face.

A heart monitor blipped next to her. “What have you done?” she breathed, terrified.

“I don’t like to share.” His smile didn’t touch his eyes.

The door exploded. Officers spilled into the room but faltered at the sight.

“A hemicorporectomy,” Dan whispered. “I amputated your body below the waist.”

Jaycee made a choking sound.

“No more screwing around.”

 

 

DM Burdett

DM Burdett was born in the UK, roamed as an army brat, and now lives in Australia where she spends her days avoiding drop bears and killer spiders.

She has published a Sci-Fi series, had success with short stories, and is currently working on a YA dystopian series.

She has worked in software development for three decades and has published two children’s series on the subject.

A life of roaming the shores of Australia in her teardrop caravan calls to her but, until then, there always seems to be just one more software project to complete.

Website – www.dmburdett.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DMBurdett/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/dmburdettauthor

Unholy Trinity: The Soul Trilogy

Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.

Salvation

Mother lay there quietly. There was nothing anyone could do; her clock was winding down. She gazed at me serenely, she was at peace. Amongst the clinical whiteness I saw an incongruous sight. A moth fluttered across the ceiling. It found its way to the window, its wings hitting the glass. I instinctively reached out to squash this unwelcome visitor in the death chamber, but a gasp stayed my hand. My mother’s eyes stared at me imploringly. I suddenly understood. I opened the window and let it fly. It soared to the heavens. Behind me, mother took her last breath.

Redemption

I lay in the road; the wheel of my bicycle and the fender of the car that had hit me were the only objects visible. I couldn’t move my body. I heard voices around me, shouting about blood and injury.  I felt my eyes closing, my heart stopping.

“Keep awake,” said a voice, but I couldn’t will myself to draw in air.

I saw a moth fluttering above me. It descended, alighting briefly on my mouth before flying away.  I felt an odd sensation in my chest. My heart suddenly beat once more, and I found I could breathe again.

Damnation

The third injection hadn’t worked. The condemned man twitched and moaned on the gurney. He was unable to move.

“Damnit, can’t you find a vein?” cursed the guard.

“I have, three times now,” replied the exasperated doctor. He tried again. The death row prisoner stared at him in mute agony.

Aware of the growing disquiet of the watching people, the guard looked round for a solution.

“Just keep injecting him, doc.”

“I’m running out.”

A moth fluttered past the guard’s face. He reached out and crushed it, throwing the pulverised creature onto the floor. The prisoner finally closed his eyes.

 

R.J. Meldrum

R.J. Meldrum is an author and academic.  Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010.  He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Smoking Pen Press and James Ward Kirk Fiction.  He is an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.

Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/richard.meldrum.79

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

https://twitter.com/RichardJMeldru1

Trembling With Fear 05/12/2019

Funny the things that make you smile in your writing career. Last week, I discovered the Russian version of my name, courtesy of Oleg Hasanov, editor of the Horror Without Borders anthology which is out later this year. It’s a really strange feeling to see a TOC knowing you are on there but not sure exactly where … thank goodness for Google Translate! I also noticed Oleg announcing he’d been accepted into the Black Hare Press’ Monsters Drabble Anthology which includes a number of TWF writers, Stuart being amongst these. My worlds (and editors!) are colliding again, this time East meets West. Definitely no borders in writing.

Before I move on to TWF, I saw a post this week by Monster Librarian on Facebook saying how numbers checking out their site have dropped. This site provides readers with reviews and authors with a place to be reviewed amongst other things and is currently struggling to survive. I confess to not having checked out this site too often in the past but will attempt to do so now. I urge you to read the post here (scroll down to 6th May post) and show some support. It is a site run by volunteers for the love of the subject, like Horror Tree and so many others.

Now to this week’s stories:

What I loved most about this week’s lead story from Trembling With FearSuccumbing by Noel Wallace, was the author’s use of language. Rich and textured, it created some wonderful imagery right from the opening line ‘Skittering firework embers shed ruby streaks into the sky’ and continues in a similar vein throughout. I will confess to having to read through this story a couple of times to understand what was going on but the language used made me feel this story was perfect despite that. Sometimes a story speaks more to emotion rather than specific understanding, just like a painting. This story is a painting.

Farewell Texts by Kevin M. Folliard uses a technique which now often features on the news, often to detail the last moments of someone on the point of death. This drabble is very much a written form of ‘found footage’, bringing an immediacy to the reading particularly with its 1st person narration. Variety in format or viewpoint is something we always look for.

Fire Door by David Berger is a lovely bit of banter between Eddie and the demon. Despite the tormenting of Eddie, which he didn’t seem to mind too much, I enjoyed the ongoing attempt of the demon to ‘train’ him. Nice piece of dark humour.

Flesh Like Wax by Terry Miller brings us the invisible enemy, you know it’s there but aren’t sure what it is. The not knowing and seeing something which should not be has a habit of freezing the mind … and body. A chilling little description of a person’s last moments.

 Other stuff this week … I may be a bit older on the 15th!

Стефани Эллис

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

As always, I’m behind. (I’m sorry! This update is getting old, I know!) That being said, we made HUGE strives on getting the next anthology put together! The end is nigh!

Honestly, I just wanted to share that good news with you this week. Patreons should be getting an early preview look at the cover art SOON! Huzzah! (It won’t be too much in advance as likely once we have the cover we’ll be ordering a preview copy and after Steph and I check it out it’ll be up for order!) 

Also, this week we’d like to share a special shout out to our long-time contributor Richard Meldrum! With his Unholy Trinity being published on the site this Friday it will be his one hundredth-publication! That is insane, keep up the fantastic work!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Succumbing

Skittering firework embers shed ruby streaks into the sky. The naked branches of clustered trees framed and then obscured the show from sight. It was the silences in between volleys that tore at her nerves the most, the pauses that spurred her staggering into sprinting.

Her long dress had split up to her thigh, revealing flesh mottled with golden-blue bruises. She wanted to ruin the rest. Her fingers flexed over her collarbone. Would that she could, tear the pearl necklace and scatter it; but the beads would only turn into bread crumbs, into a bridge that leads to the worst ending within a fairy tale.

Won’t let him catch me. Won’t be caught. Can’t be caught.

Another firework whistled overhead. They wouldn’t keep his attention. Soon he’d return to the checkered blanket, the lukewarm wine and untouched food to find her gone.

He’ll wait for me. And when I come back, it’ll be the look. He’ll hold me inside it, hold me there until it hurts, hold me until I drown inside the black of his pupils, until I can’t breathe and–

 

She ran. The question of where was no more present in her mind than it is for any prey fleeing its predator. She ran until she had cleared the woods and found herself before a broad, black-watered fountain. The decimated remains of fall leaves floated in broken clumps. Branches cleaved the moon and starlight into a quivering stratum.

She tottered over to the fountain and gazed down at her reflection. At her red-rimmed eyes. The cheap foundation, smeared and flaked over swollen knots.

I won’t be caught. I can’t be caught.

Sudden motion caught her off guard: a beetle, crawling over her temple, feelers wriggling. When she batted at it, the creature toppled down into the water and fractured her reflection into trembling pieces.

She watched the beetle fight to keep afloat.

Can’t be caught.

“help”

Its legs splayed out and squirmed.

Can’t be caught.

Bile filled her throat.

“help”

She raised her hand and struck. Created a wave to pull the drowning thing under.

“ah”

Glancing down, her reflection held its jaw and smiled. An angry red welt blazed upon the reflection’s skin.

“i wanted him to stay with me”

It mouthed the words with the corners of its chapped lips upturned. Its eyes were slit into mirthful razors.

I’m hallucinating.

“i wanted him to hold me hold me” Its plaintive note sank like a nail between her eyes. “hold me hold me hold me hold me”

“Stop it, you’re hallucinating,” she snarled into her palm, but the reflection did not copy her, only continued to gaze up with mocking eyes.

“i wanted him to hold me down and”

STOP IT!

She thrust her hand into the fountain, crushing the water into ripples and foam, soaking her dress, catching grime in her fingers.

When her reflection reassembled, it was with cuts and bruises. Still, the eyes glinted merrily. Still, the lips, the bleeding lips, mouthed the words:

t-o -d-e-v-o-u-r -m-e

STOP”

She plunged both her hands into water. There they found not wetness, but flesh, a neck to squeeze, and so she squeezed it, squeezed against the flesh and blood and bone, until the water went still.

Upon withdrawing her hands from the fountain, she found them slick with black blood. The reflection’s face broke above the water with a plop. It bobbed slack-jawed, laughter still trapped inside its lifeless eyes.

Drawing back, she screamed. A fresh wave of fireworks erupted overhead.

I killed her!

Triumph or despair?

I KILLED HER!

She turned from the fountain and ran.

When she cleared the forest, the show had only just ended, firework smoke staining the sky, but there were no more picnic blankets to be found, no rows of cars or lukewarm coolers. Instead she found herself standing at the foot of a long, unraveling silk white carpet.

The carpet stretched out towards seven figures who stood gathered in the field. Dazed, she stepped onto the carpet. Her body pitched forward–or was she walking towards them, the scenery running fast beside her?

She came close. Six of the seven moved off into the grass. Whether they were shadow or flesh, man or woman remained unknown and unseen. The moonlight promised nothing.

As the carpet carried her down, her filthy feet smeared mud and water over the ivory silk. When she reached the six shadows, she cast her eyes down, terrified and abashed. They took no breath, only stood and drank her in with black, glittering beast eyes.

The seventh, the one waiting for her, gnawed at his fingernails, smiling even as he tore them bloody. The whites of his eyes were pitch-black, but this only served to enhance the beauty of his features.

The seventh’s stare swept over her dress, her bruises, her pulverized face.

Shame overtook her. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“For… for being…” A sob flexed in her throat. “…for being like this.”

The seventh shook his head. “Please. Give me your hand.”

The six shadows drew closer. Their combined anticipation was heavy, palpable. When she raised her hand, the seventh reached out without hesitation and squeezed her bloodied fingers into his own.

“Now, look at me.”

When she did, he caught her right inside his gaze, and smiled.

“You’re perfect.”

Noel Wallace

Noel Wallace is a published author, with poetry and prose featured in over ten anthologies, including semi-pro and professional markets such as Liquid Imagination, Deep Magic Magazine, and Mirror Dance Fantasy.

Website: www.noelwallace.com

Farewell Texts

Hope you get this text because I love you

Weak signal

It baited me with Stevie’s jacket

Lured me into the caverns

Don’t search

Too dangerous

Too dark

I hear its hundred legs shuffling

Chemical stench burns my eyes and nose

It’s huge

And fast

Stevie is gone

Please don’t blame yourself

Remember what you told me at the beach when I got scorched like a lobster and Stevie built his Great Pyramid sandcastle

You were right

The sunburn was worth it.

The creature’s coming

Battery dying

I’ll go down fighting

Have a sharp rock

I’ll go for the eyes

Kevin M. Folliard

Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose published fiction includes scary stories collections Christmas Terror Tales and Valentine Terror Tales, as well as adventure novels such as Matt Palmer and the Komodo Uprising. His work has also been collected by The Horror Tree, Flame Tree Publishing, Hinnom Magazine, and more. Kevin currently resides in La Grange, IL, where he enjoys his day job as an academic writing advisor. When not writing or working, he’s usually reading Stephen King, playing Street Fighter, or traveling the U.S.A.

Author Website: www.KevinFolliard.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kevinfolliard

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kmfollia

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

Fire Door

Eddie was in the lounge pouring a second cup. To his right was a fire door marked “NO RE-ENTRY.” Eddie heard a knock, turned and opened the door. The demon came in, grabbed Eddie’s head, twisted it off, swallowed it, crapped it out and stuck it back on Eddie’s head.

“You never learn,” the demon said. “Third time this week.”

“I need to be more alert,” Eddie said.

“Yeah, right,” the demon replied. “Bet I getcha once more before Friday.”

“No way,” Eddie said.

“Yeah right,” the demon said.  It backed into the stairwell and slammed the door behind him.

David Berger

I’m an old guy from Brooklyn, now living in Manhattan with my wife of 25 years: the best jazz singer in NYC. I’m a father and grandfather.  I’ve been, among other things, a case worker, construction worker, letter carrier, high school and ESL teacher, a legal proofreader and a union organizer.  Love life, my wife and the world. Hope to help the latter escape destruction.

 

Flesh Like Wax

Jack watched the steps leave fleeting indentations on the bedroom carpet, they were definitely not human prints. They stopped and remained at the side of his bed, a brooding presence huffed just inches from his face; a scent like a freshly extinguished candle. 

Jack’s voice escaped him through a muted scream, fear paralyzing. His body levitated with the deep compression of fingers pinning his arms to his sides. His intent to struggle failed to reach his unresponsive limbs. The creature huffed once more as Jack’s flesh dripped like hot wax, muscle and bone burning to ash at its impressioned feet.

Terry Miller

Terry Miller lives in Portsmouth, Ohio right along the Ohio River. His work has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, Devolution Z, Jitter Press, Poetry Quarterly, O Unholy Night in Deathlehem, and was nominated for the annual Rhysling Award from The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association which earned him a spot in the 2017 Rhysling Anthology.

Unholy Trinity: The Sea of Siren Screams

Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.

Hooked

 

Fishing was one of Electra’s joys. The challenge of finding a good spot, the relaxing wait, the thrill of reeling in a catch.

 

Today, sunshine filtered through the sea like a sparkling aquamarine jewel. Perfect weather for sailing.

 

As if on cue, a shadow passed above. A dropping anchor sent shudders through the water and quivers of anticipation through Electra.

 

She swam upward, waiting for the line and bait to drop too. A hook for her to snag. As it did, she tugged down hard, a man splashing in after it.

 

The Siren and her children would eat well tonight.

 

 

The Sea of Siren Screams

 

Manolin hated fishing. His da had gone missing in these waters.

 

Yet here he was, rod in hand, floating in a dingy.

 

The line grew taught. Manolin held tight. The rod ripped down, dragging Manolin into the sea.

 

As he sunk down Manolin saw it – the beautiful yet terrible creature from sailor’s tales. The thing bared its teeth in a smile, snaring Manolin in her embrace.

 

Manolin smiled too. He pulled out the knife he’d tucked in his shorts and stabbed the Siren in the side.

 

Blood, seawater and Siren screams mixed together as Manolin reaped his sweet revenge.  

 

A Song of Sorrow

 

Vivian sat watching the ocean where her mother had died. A sad song drifted from her lips, floating over the water like waves of sorrow. 

 

Then, a sound from behind made her stop. A young man stood listening on the rocks.

 

“Are you okay?” he asked. “You sound so… alone.”

 

“Not alone,” Vivian said as the man approached.

 

She felt a stab of guilt as a blade split through his neck from behind.

 

Vivian’s Siren brother smiled as the corpse on his knife fell to the ground. She was the bait, he the hook. Their mother would have been proud.

Tim Hawken

Tim Hawken is a dark fiction writer based in the isolated badlands of Western Australia. His work has appeared in publications such as Midnight Echo, Stab, Soggy Bones and more. Best known for his Hellbound Trilogy, Tim also drops a new, art-inspired drabble on his Instagram page each week. You can get a free eBook copy of Hellbound by heading to his website: timhawken.com

Pin It on Pinterest