Category: Trembling With Fear

Trembling With Fear 9-10-23

Hello, children of the dark. Isn’t it mad that an entire summer can go by with not much happening, and then a mere two week period brings alllll the excitement? Summer has finally arrived in the UK, a week after the season’s official end. (I know it’s over – I saw evidence of the local strawjack harvest parade last weekend!) As this week’s edition goes live, my other half is up in the north of England doing a half-marathon for his sins. As next week’s edition goes live, I’ll be finishing up at the British Fantasy Society’s FantasyCon (do make sure you let me know if you’ll be there too so I can say hi!). And then… well, life calms down again. Hopefully the weather will be cooler. It’ll almost be Halloween month. The stores will be full of spooky-themed clothes I can buy to wear year-round (anyone else do that?). And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get time to write. Think it’ll happen? Yeah, me neither.

I hope you’re getting plenty of time to write. And if you’re looking for something to flex those creative muscles, do consider popping out a drabble or two, please. Our cupboards are looking a bit bare, and we’d hate to have to skip a week of TWF! (It’d either be that or a stack of my own, and that’s just way too self-indulgent for anyone.)

But for now, let’s turn to this week’s TWF menu. We get out the ouija board for this week’s short story from a writer who’s new to these pages. (Hello, Sue du Feu!) This is then followed by three delicious quick bites:

  • Christina Nordlander can’t find a way out,
  • John K Peck haunts with a twist, and 
  • Pauline Barmby finishes her probationary period.

Over to you, Stuart.

(PS sorry for all the bracketed asides this week! Not sure what’s got into me.)

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Trembling With Fear: Year 6 update: We’re down to just the cover art, specs are in, I’m hoping by the time you read this I have a copy or final copy in my hands and a proof copy of the anthology ordered as I’m writing this in advance, fingers crossed!

Shadowed Realms update: Next year, we clearly need to budget more reading time to be built in. (Also, I won’t be in an MBA program so I’ll be reading quicker.) Progress is being made, slowly but surely.

For those who are looking to connect with Horror Tree on places that aren’t Twitter, we’re also in BlueSky and Threads. *I* am also now on BlueSky and Threads.

If you’d like to extend your support to the site, we’d be thrilled to welcome your contributions through Ko-Fi or Patreon. Your generosity keeps us fueled and fired up to bring you the very best.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree


Unholy Trinity: The Basement, The Creature & The Child by Leigh Kenny

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.


The Basement


The basement was quiet.

Conor peeked through the crack in the door and gulped. The darkness pooled around the wooden steps like water. He didn’t like the dark, or water.

Taking a deep breath, he flung the door aside and ran down the steps, grasping for the jars his mother requested before he had even reached the floor below. The moment his foot hit the rough dirt; the basement came alive.

Shadows reached for him. Unseen things growled from every corner.
Conor fled, not looking back until he had reached the light flooded kitchen.

The basement was quiet once more.


The Creature


The creature stirred, silver eyes glinting in the darkness. The sounds and smells of the house above carried into the basement, like a song on the wind.

It could hear the child.

It wanted that child, needed it to sustain itself. But the child rarely ventured down to this malodorous pit, and on the rare occasion he had to, he did not loiter.

The creature, however, was patient. Centuries of hunting created a patience unmatched. An opportunity would present itself.

A creak, and suddenly a flood of light pierced the suffocating blackness.

The child.

Growling, the creature left the shadows.


The Child


Conor woke with a start, sweat beading his brow.

Another nightmare.

The boy had been having them more frequently since he was last in the basement. His nightlight cast strange shadows on the bedroom wall. It wasn’t helping his increased heart rate so he flicked it off and closed his eyes as complete darkness washed over him.


His eyes shot open. It sounded an awful lot like the basement door. a soft shuffling followed, growing louder as whoever or whatever was there approached his bedroom. He watched with wide, frightened eyes as the knob turned slowly.

“Mom!” he screamed.


Leigh Kenny

Leigh was born and raised in the beautiful garden county of Wicklow, Ireland. She is the mother and proud protector of two wonderful boys, a black Labrador, and a three-legged cat that hates people. She is also the bane of her long-suffering partner James? life. Leigh has always lived in the dark, with a fierce love for all things morbid and macabre. A voracious reader from a young age, she always knew she wanted to write, and it made sense to write about the genre she has loved for so long. She cites Ronald Malfi, Kealan Patrick Burke, and of course, Stephen King, as her most favoured authors and sources of inspiration.
You can find out more about Leigh’s work and any upcoming releases on her Instagram and Facebook pages: @LeighKennyWrites.

Trembling With Fear 9-03-23

Hello, children of the dark. Tell me, dear ones: do you have any stories hiding behind your couch? Maybe an idea that’s been burning a hole in your brain but you’re yet to put pen to paper? Or maybe there’s that thing you were *sure* would be accepted to that anthology but you were ghosted… If you have a story lurking in the shadows, please consider submitting it to us here at TWF. You can do that here, or just email us via [email protected].

You see, I fear I may have scared you all off last week with my diatribe about how we’re really searching for dark speculative fiction and not evil humans in the real world. Please don’t let that put you off trying! One thing I love about this publication is how open we are, as well as how we’re often a jumping-off point for writers who are nervous about submitting elsewhere, or those who are at the beginning of their journeys. But I say this a lot, and I need to add this afterwards: we also welcome stories from those writers who are well-established, and those who are anywhere in between. We have an insatiable need for submissions, so I can’t say this enough!

Here’s a random tangent, but trust me, it makes sense in my head: when I was growing up in Australia in the ‘80s, there was a character in a TV commercial called the Gobbledock. This purple hairy thing only wanted one thing, and that thing was potato chips (crisps for the Brits). It would run around calling out “chippy chippy chippy” as it searched for the gold. And lately, I kinda feel like the editorial Gobbledock, constantly calling out for “stories stories stories”. I’m a broken record and I even annoy myself. But it must be done.

It’s the end of the northern hemisphere summer, and real life is calling. Maybe we should all spend some time this month indulging our dark sides. Get your fingers on those keyboards, and write!

But for now, let’s turn to this week’s TWF menu. Our short story offering this week comes from someone we’ve published in drabble form before, but this is her first short story: welcome to the longer form, S.G. Perahim! This is then followed by three delicious quick bites:

  • Ceferino Ruiz is trapped under water,
  • DJ Tyrer channels old Hollywood adventures and heads for Egypt, and 
  • Cassandra Vaillancourt finds things are not well at the mine.

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

It was a time of crazy busy-ness. The cover is moving forward, however, no real updates outside of that. Sorry, more to come! 

For those who are looking to connect with Horror Tree on places that aren’t Twitter, we’re also in BlueSky and Threads. *I* am also now on BlueSky and Threads.

If you’d like to extend your support to the site, we’d be thrilled to welcome your contributions through Ko-Fi or Patreon. Your generosity keeps us fueled and fired up to bring you the very best.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree


Serial Saturday: On The Road Again by JR Grues, Part 3, Finale

  1. Serial Saturday: On The Road Again by JR Grues, Part 1
  2. Serial Saturday: On The Road Again by JR Grues, Part 2
  3. Serial Saturday: On The Road Again by JR Grues, Part 3, Finale



On The Road Again: Part Three, Finale




I made my way through the hiking trail to get to Cabin 4. It was a nice trail, very dark but oddly lit in a way to make the perfect midnight hiking experience. I did not like the noise, however. The bugs sang like they were warning people of my presence. I wish I had the time to hunt every one of them down and squash them like they deserve, but I had to keep my mind on the prizes. Only one of the three young ladies was outside. She was raising her cell phone, scrambling. I could tell she was trying to find a signal. No luck here, little lady. She was very attractive, with blonde hair and a tight slim body—but still with a sizeable chest and butt. She was not dressed for the outdoors. She wore booty shorts, tank top, and what looked to be house slippers. She was almost screaming to her friends inside the cabin, complaining about not being able to connect her calls and that her phone was almost dying. “Is there one in the car?” I heard her yell to her friends as she made her way to their vehicle. “This is almost too easy,” I thought. I could pick them off one by one. The young woman fumbled in the car for a bit until she finished up and started to exit. I had a good size rock in my hand that I had picked up along the trail. I crashed it down on her head as if it came down from the sky. She fell to the ground as hard as the rock came down on her skull. She started to twitch and seize, so I struck her a few more times until that beautiful face was unrecognizable. What to do now? I only thought that for a few moments until I heard the cabin door open. I quickly ran behind the cabin. Just before the second girl noticed her disfigured friend lying dead, I swooped behind her, putting my hand on her mouth and knife against her ribs. I threw her up against the cabin and told her to be quiet. She tried to scream through my palm, so I buried my knife into her side and twisted with full force, releasing and stabbing multiple times until the shock kicked in and she had nothing left. I let her down slowly to the ground so as to not make too much noise and rested her dying head safely on the gravel ground. The final girl had no knowledge of what had happened to her dear friends. As I peeked through the window of their cabin, I noticed her alone, on the bed listening to an old CD player. I felt a wave of Déjà vu. I had not seen one of those types of CD players since my sister’s final breath. I would have taken hers, but it fell in the water during our little tussle. I used to listen to hers when she would leave it laying around. I remembered how the songs would skip if the disc was too scratched. I hadn’t thought about it until now, how music doesn’t skip any more. I liked the skipping. After hearing something repeatedly, I get bored. Something unexpected happening—the lyric not being said after anticipating it, or knowing the next line is coming but then it doesn’t—resonated with me. It was very comforting.

I made my way into the cabin. The final girl was distracted with her tunes, staring at the ceiling, unaware a stranger had entered her world. She must have felt a presence enter the cabin, but most likely assumed I was one of her friends just enjoying the weekend getaway like herself. I crept to the bed and still she yet to open her eyes. She wasn’t as pretty as her friends, but the way she blocked out the world and enjoyed her peace made me feel a fondness for her greater than anything I felt for her friends. She had not a care in the world. She was much older than me—as were all her friends. They were all in their mid-twenties, but still they had a young quality about them that made me think of them like children. She in particular had an innocence that I envied. Just like those bitches from my school, but I feel like this one would be nicer to me than they had ever been. Oh, how I wish I would run into some of my old high school classmates. Another time perhaps. 

The final girl’s hair was soft when I gently touched it. I wanted to run my hands through it, but I decided against it. She had yet to open her eyes. When I lifted one side of her headphones and whispered, “What are you listening to?” she jumped up and let out a low toned scream. I jumped on her, not hesitating, and attempted to hold her down. This one had some fight in her. She kicked and scratched at me, knocking me to the ground. She screamed for her friends as she tried to run out of the cabin. As she stepped over me, I grabbed her leg, trying to get her to the ground. It was tight quarters, so I had limited space to maneuver around and get to my feet. She kicked me square in the face and then I felt a hard smack to the head. It was a pan, or some other kitchen utensil, and it stunned me for a moment. I heard the cabin door finally open, and I got myself together. I got to my feet and, just as I exited the cabin in chase of her, I heard it—the horrid scream that would ruin the rest of my night. She stumbled across her friends and now she was letting my remaining yet-to-be victims know that this camp site was not safe. The night may be over early, but I could not let her get away.

Outside the cabin I saw her standing, hands on her mouth, screaming and crying at the gruesome sight of her closest friends. She noticed me approaching her, and she went to run, but in typical victim fashion, she tripped on her own feet. I pulled my knife and began to slash away at this woman who I had briefly admired. With every cut deeper than the next, she screamed louder and louder. I came down on her with everything I had on her chest and stomach, until her insides were what showed the most. I dug my hand into her open wounds and kept digging, reaching for something. My arm was submerged to my elbow and at that moment I realized I did not know for what I was reaching. It wasn’t until I heard the muffled yells from two men that I took my arm out of her. 

I had to think quick of what to do. Is it over? Am I content? NO! I see in the distance two older men hastily making their way down toward me. The husbands! I do not hesitate, and I do not overthink. Quickly I rub the fresh blood from my last victim over my leg. I notice my head is bleeding from where she struck me in the cabin. I could use this along with the blood I’ve accumulated throughout the night to appear as what I am, a survivor. I put my knife back in my boot and I approach the husbands. I put on my limp routine that I’ve used plenty before. I ready my voice to sound helpless. The men are close but not close enough. They know there is trouble, but do not know who has created it. We meet each other in the road, and I beg for help. “HELP ME, HELP ME PLEASE! SOMEONE IS AFTER ME AND KILLED MY FRIENDS!” One husband, the bigger of the two, throws one of my arms over his shoulders. My hero. The other runs past us a bit, inspecting the crime scene. “OH MY GOD!” he shouts, seeing the results of the slaughter. The bigger husband attends to me. “Who did this? Where are you hurt?” I bend down in fake pain. I grab my knife from my boot. “I did this!” I said just before I stabbed my would-be savior in his eye. The first hero fell back in agony, and in a quick motion I reveal my gun and kill the other with a headshot. I pointed my weapon at the remaining man, who was attempting to dislodge my knife from his eye socket and ended his life with a bullet through his temple. The remaining wives were easy. I shot one in the back for trying to run away from me. The other was too scared and distraught to attempt anything but compliance. I smashed in her head with a log from their firepit. I could’ve shot her and made it quick, but I wanted to save the remaining bullets for any surprises on my way towards the exit. There was none. 

This was my night. It went perfectly and I made it through with only one scratch. Mr. Johnson was the only one who was not fully dead. He crawled a few feet and made his way to his wife. I saw the blood trail was still fresh, so I put a bullet in him for peace of mind. The others were surely dead. This would be a crime scene to remember. The high from the night was already starting to fade, but the sureness of nonstop news cycles and public outcry would make me feel better. I could always look back on this night as something to cherish. A perfect scene, better than anything one of those hack writers could ever imagine. Who would play me if they made a movie? What would they call it? What would they call me? Should I leave a note behind, maybe put some dumb cheesy name that would live on in infamy? I almost want to find the nearest payphone and call my brother. I wonder what he is doing right now. He has no idea what I’ve just accomplished. My first massacre. “The Glamping Massacre.” That’s what the movie should be called. It would be an instant classic. 

I decided I should take the Johnsons’ car just a few miles and ditch it. It would help me get plenty far away before the bodies were discovered. I grabbed my bag and some snacks from the office, changed my clothes, and threw my bloody ones in the Johnsons’ fire pit and reignited the dead fire. I should have checked the other cars for some supplies for the road, but best not be too greedy. I’m a bona fide cold-blooded murderer, and I pride myself in that—not so much a thief except for the occasional necessity grab. I popped the trunk of the Johnsons’ car and to my horror, there he was. He was there all along—the missing Johnson boy. He was tied up in his parent’s trunk with a plastic bag wrapped around his head. He had been dead for some time—over twenty-four hours from the looks of him. What did he do? What was the trouble he had gotten into in school? What kind of punishment was this? He must’ve done something awful that his own parents would murder him. They most likely planned on burying him out here, or were they just going to ride around forever with their son in the trunk? These people were really twisted. How could you sit there making smores while your own flesh and blood rotted just a few feet away from you? I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again. This is a strange world with stranger people. Poor kid. Did he deserve this? Maybe they just wanted to be free. I couldn’t take this car anymore. In no way shape or form would I ever let a body count be added to mine that I did not deserve. This is the Johnsons’ victim, and I will not be credited. I closed the trunk and grabbed my things from the car. I walked over to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and soaked their blood in a rag I found on the ground. I wiped on the trunk a clear note for the crime scene investigators. 


On the road again, I walked. I cut through some woods and some small towns to make my route difficult to trace. I stopped at a rest stop and dyed my hair again. I went from blonde to black and cut it down to my shoulders. The scratch on my head was healing pretty good. A couple more days and it would be as good as new. Any day now the news will break, and I cannot wait. “Multiple casualties at the local campsite.” BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS! I will be riding high on a euphoria that no drug could ever give me, and just in time for my seventeenth birthday. Seventeen will be a great year. As I stick my hand out and walk down this highway, I make a bet with myself on who will stop. Maybe they’ve already heard something. Maybe we will be riding down the highway together and the news will break over the radio. I need to practice hiding my excitement. It’s going to be almost impossible. I hear the air brakes from behind me, and I turn around to see a big rig coming to a slow stop. Here we go again. The truck stops and an older man lifts his head to meet me in the eyes. He asks what they always ask.

“Where you headed, pretty lady?” 

I put on my best fake smile.


Unholy Trinity: Theseus, Minotaur & Daedalus by Patrick Norris

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.




“Get me out!” I ripped the VR headset from my head and viciously tore the wires from my sensation-suit. A sharp pain throbbed from my right arm; I could see rivulets of blood flowing from between the rubber strands of the suit.

I rushed out of the VR pod, falling to the cold floor. I survived the game.

A jovial voice resounded from the speakers above.

“Congratulations, you are the lone survivor of The Labyrinth! You have provided us with the data needed for the final phase, Release.”

“No, you can’t! You sick fucks!” 

I survived. But will anybody else?




Bodies hanging from chains fill the room, eviscerated, mutilated, nothing human could have done this.

“I thought you said this was supposed to be a practice run!?”

“It was captain. But the AI, it evolved into something…we couldn’t anticipate.”

“You mean turn into a goddamn butcher, doctor!?”

An ominous voice booms from beyond the rays of the overhead light.

“Into something unique.” Glowing red dots appear from the surrounding darkness, followed by loud metallic thuds encroaching on the doctor and captain’s position.

“The game has only begun.”

Cadaverous soldiers shuffle into the light, grotesque machinery protruding from their carved flesh.




“Gamers are tired of ineffective AI.” The man adjusts his sunglasses.

“Exactly, I want this game to feel as real as possible, the stakes as high as possible!”

“What I have to offer you is an AI program originally intended to train our Special Forces, it was abandoned after it proved…too much for the participants.”

“This sounds illegal.”

“Following the dismissal of the project all files pertaining to it have been destroyed. I, have the only living copy of the program.”

“Is it safe?”

 “We’re talking about a game; nobody will get hurt.”

 A devious smile forms across his face.



Patrick Norris

My name is Patrick Norris, and I am a starting-out author. I have spent my entire life enjoying authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, Michael Moorcock, and Jules Verne. I am excited to share my stories with other individuals who share the same interests.

Trembling With Fear – Summer 2023 Edition!

Summer is coming to a close…but it’s not over yet! We still have plenty of time for sun, water, cool drinks- oh, and all the wild and crazy things that can happen on a summer getaway. Not sure what I’m talking about? Well, dive into our Summer Edition to find out!

This year’s writers crafted engaging tales that cover many different types of summer experiences. Whether you’re camping, enjoying the beach, or attending afternoon at a festival, these stories will have you see your experiences in a new way. These tales have monsters, love and a bit of fun, so pull up your beach chair or gather around a campfire and dive into our Summer 2023 Edition of Trembling With Fear!

Happy Reading!


Shalini Bethala

Editor, Trembling With Fear

The clouds are circling, the air is cooling, and summer is officially coming to its close. Halloween might be just around the corner, but we want to go for one last tyre-swing-over-the-river! And so, TWF is proud to present the 2023 Summer Special. Shalini has chosen some absolute crackers for you, and I hope you enjoy them all. 

Remember, we do four special editions every year, and we’d love to feature you in these pages some time. Yes, YOU. Get the details over here, and then get those darkly seasonal cogs whirring for your next terrific speculative opus. 

Lauren McMenemy

Editor-in-Chief, Trembling With Fear


Trembling With Fear 8-27-23

Hello, children of the dark. I’m running a bit late this week (sorry, Stuart!), so I won’t do my usual rambling unfurling of my mad mind. I’ll just say hi, I’ve finally got my ticket to next month’s UK FantasyCon—spurred on by the fact I’ve now joined the British Fantasy Society as its PR and Marketing Officer—and I hope to meet a few TWF-ers while I’m there! Make sure you come and say hi if you see me. I’ll be the one in the corner that looks like me.

But for now, it’s time for this week’s offerings on the TWF menu. Our short story this week is a tasty bit of cosmic horror—thanks for this one, Patrick O’Malley! Patrick also marks the first of our new short stories now we’ve reopened after a year’s publishing backlog. We’re really trying to make sure that doesn’t happen again, but please don’t be shy about submitting your stories!

Speak of which, our timely cosmic horror is followed by three delicious quick bites:

  • Adam Ehrenberg picks up a hitchhiker,
  • Caroline Jenner gets magical, and 
  • Engilbert Egill has unfinished business.

BTW if you happen to be in the UK and in the vicinity of the Midlands town of Derby next month, be sure to check out this awesome event: the Paracinema Cult Film Festival happens 22-25 September!

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

School has started up again, and I’m taking more classes than I have before, so, unfortunately, expect my usual complaint of not having much time. That being said – I’m closing in on the finish line of my MBA. I’m not there after these two classes, but I’ll be VERY close. Side note: I have everything I need now to get the TWF final covers formatted and am sending that over to our artist this weekend so expect some real news on that front SOON! (Finally! WOOHOO!) 

For those who are looking to connect with Horror Tree on places that aren’t Twitter, we’re also in BlueSky and Threads. *I* am also now on BlueSky and Threads.

If you’d like to extend your support to the site, we’d be thrilled to welcome your contributions through Ko-Fi or Patreon. Your generosity keeps us fueled and fired up to bring you the very best.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree


Serial Saturday: On The Road Again by JR Grues, Part 2

  1. Serial Saturday: On The Road Again by JR Grues, Part 1
  2. Serial Saturday: On The Road Again by JR Grues, Part 2
  3. Serial Saturday: On The Road Again by JR Grues, Part 3, Finale



On The Road Again: Part Two


The sign read . . .“Welcome to The Cabin Getaway. Camping has never been more Glamorous!” It was an Airbnb mixed with the idea of camping. The site was comprised of a small circle of tiny cabins that were more like tiny homes. They even had a sketched map of the place on the sign near the entrance. There were five small trailers accessible by a gravel road. The one lane road led to each home and looped all the way around back to the entrance, which was also the exit. There was one way in and one way out. At the entrance was a small office trailer. It appeared to be where the tenants checked in and out. That would be my first stop at dusk. The thoughts were nonstop in my head. “How could I do this?” “Should I make a plan or just wing it?” “Knife or gun?” I could just use what was readily available. I should wait to use the gun until I absolutely need it. I haven’t needed it since I found it. I picked it up off one of my famous truckers. It was a black 9mm honor-guard. I also found a full box of bullets. It has some bang to it, but the kick back isn’t too bad. Best not to use unless necessary, perhaps maybe for my final victim. There was no need to alarm the entire campsite before the fun really got started. 

The sun starts to set, so I make my way to the office. There was only one person at the front desk. This will be a piece of cake. I don’t want to get too cocky just yet, so it’s best I make sure he is the only one around. The door was open, so I invited myself in for a chat with the man sitting at the desk. 

“Excuse me sir, is there a manager I could speak to? I’m having trouble with the Wi-Fi.”

The man looked confused for a second. There are not that many cabins, and I assume he meets with everybody that checks in. He didn’t recognize me and was unsure which party I was with. 

“Umm…what cabin are you in?” he asks as he checks the computer. “The Wi-Fi is up, so I’m not sure why you wouldn’t be getting a connection.” Still looking at the computer, he clicks the mouse a few of times before he focuses his attention back to me. “Are you sure you’re connecting to the right userna…” The sight of my gun now pointing at him threw off his speech. I asked him again, “Is there a manager I could speak too, sir?” He shivered at the presence of a gun. So many thoughts probably flooded his head. Who is this? What do they want?  He most likely begged me for his life in his own head before he could ever get the words out. Please don’t hurt me, take what you want! But those thoughts never translate to words when regular people are thrust upon with real violence and threats. He finally spit out some words riddled with stutters. 

“Please, I, I’m the only one working. We don’t have any money. It’s . . . It’s all done online. Please.”

This was fun and all, but I had no time for this. Once the piss became visible in his jeans, I told him to turn around and take off his belt. I instructed him then to get on his knees and close his eyes. He complied. I placed the gun on the desk and tied his hands with his own belt. I saw a meat cleaver in a butcher’s shop about a month ago, and I just had to take it. I knew someday the perfect time would present itself to use it. Today was the day. I grabbed the cleaver from my bag and went at his neck until I freed his head from his body. He had soiled himself, so I dragged his body into a closet that was filled with toiletries and snacks. I propped his head on the desk for my own personal amusement. I helped myself to a bag of cheese puffs as I scrolled through the computer files, checking on my new guest. This system had it all—the detailed layout, trails to and from, even a complete guest list of who was staying in each cabin. To my disappointment, only three out of the five were occupied. How could there be vacancies on the night of my arrival? Were they not expecting me? How could they do this to me? Very well. I will make do with what little opportunity I have. 

Cabin 1- The Johnsons. Husband, wife, and child. Ages aren’t shown in the registry, so I will have to determine that upon visual. Maybe I can circle back to them on my way out. They are the closest to the exit, so maybe that’s not a good idea. I’m expecting some screams so best not make it too easy for escape. 

Cabin 4- Cindy Pental along with two female guests. This one could be fun. Three friends camping together, who knows what kind of debauchery they are up to. They could be drinking heavily and consuming drugs together. I find it odd that they have their sexes identified in the system. Anybody could be looking at this thing, so why would you make it known three girls are alone in a cabin out here? Strange world. 

Cabin 5- Louie and Lucy Lockwood along with Brad and Stacey Vine. Two married couples. This could be my toughest one yet. The husbands could be a problem. Maybe they are swingers, then I could surprise them all while they are in the middle of full-on orgasmic group sex. What are the odds they are a boring pair of couples out here for some regular glamping?

I’ve made up my mind. First, I’ll hit the Johnsons. I’ll take care of the couple and the child first. The office attendant had no car in the parking spot, so I can use theirs to block the exit so no one else has an easy escape with a vehicle. Then I will take care of the three damsels, in soon enough, distress. I will have to be sneaky with that group to limit the number of screams. I will save the toughest for last. If all else fails, I can always use my trusty firearm to end the husbands and polish off the widows. I don’t ever cover my face when I do my deed. I’ve never once left a witness to any of my doings. Why start now? In a situation like this, a mask or paint of some sort is useful. It gives off a certain spookiness to my victims—makes the scares even scarier. All my big screen heroes have them, but there are no viewers here, so who am I trying to impress? Plus, I may have to blend in and make myself look like a camp goer. Nobody in their right mind would trust some stranger wearing a hockey mask asking for directions. 

I disabled the internet and checked the office attendant’s phone to see if he still had service. He didn’t. That’s great. Assuming he lived nearby and still had horrible service in these parts, then the tourists wouldn’t either. I stashed my bag in the office for safekeeping. I tucked my gun in my waistband and my knife in my boot and made my way through the trees to Cabin 1. I thought about casing every cabin out before I made my move on the family, but I spent too much time planning in my head already, I just wanted to get started. I couldn’t wait any longer. The excitement was too much to bear. As I crept on the first cabin, I felt as if I needed to pee. I was almost shivering in this hot humid night from wanting this so bad. The Johnsons were sitting at the campfire outside their cabin. The orange and red flames lit the front of their faces as they sat with marshmallows at the ends of their sticks. They were an older couple, maybe in their 40s. As I sat in the darkness, I got lost for a second in their conversation. They were worried about their son who was having trouble at school. They didn’t know how to deal with it anymore. They talked as if they had given up. The mother started crying a bit and then I snapped out of it. Where was this child? What was wrong with him? What kind of parents would give up on their son? I snapped a branch, knowing it would get the father’s attention. It did. He shot up, not out of worry, but weirdly excited. “Did you hear that?” he said to his wife. “Could be some wildlife.” 

The wife grew worried a bit. “Should we get inside?” she whispered to Mr. Johnson.

“No, nothing too dangerous out here,” Mr. Johnson responded sarcastically to his wife as he approached the tree line to where I was hiding. As the husband walked closer to where I crouched, he turned to his wife and told her to get his flashlight on the picnic table closer to their cabin. She reluctantly went for the light as her husband now stood mere inches away from me. I pounced from the shadows of the forest and stabbed him in the throat with three of the fastest jabs I’ve ever taken. I felt an intense quake run through my body starting from my knees. I couldn’t stop there. With the same murderous angst, I rushed toward Mrs. Johnson, who had yet to turn around to witness the brutality that awaited her. I grabbed the back of her hair and pulled her head back to expose the bare and vulnerable neck. I slit her throat from ear to ear with a clean cut from the sharp edge of my trusted blade. Neither of them made more than a slight moan from my quick and precise attack. Now, where is the kid? I peeked through the window of the cabin and to my surprise it was empty. You can view the entire cabin and bunks through the main window. No one else was with them and their luggage looked to be packed for just two. This was confusing, but I assume they needed a little separation from the troubled child, deciding to leave him behind. I took their keys and moved the Johnsons family vehicle to block the road. No one will leave this camp alive but me.