The stories have started to come in and it’s been great to see but we do need more, simultaneous submissions are fine – we’ll just spread their publication out if they are all accepted.

On a related note, could I just ask that you check our submission guidelines before sending your work in. Word counts are important, 100 for drabble, 1500 max for longer stories … although we do cut ourselves a little slack with the latter and a good story which does exceed the limit can occasionally get through. Please though, no 4000+ or 6000+ word stories, life’s constraints, ie day job, family and my own writing means (my voluntary) time for Horror Tree is tight but I can still find myself spending several hours a week on it. (This includes the time I give to the anthology at present.) The result of this is that stories which do not fit guidelines are almost always automatically rejected, something which I feel terrible about but I simply do not have the time to give to these submissions.

Another little plea is from an editorial point of view, clean copy is always greatly appreciated and shows a professional approach, something which all publishers appreciate and getting a reputation for this never does anybody’s chances any harm at all. On the other hand, please don’t panic if the occasional typo or glitch slips through – it happens to everybody and is called life.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

We’re thankful for all of the stories everyone keeps sending in weekly and hope that you’re thankful for this weekend’s latest words!

‘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

Giving Thanks

They said they’d call at three sharp. Oh, for a shot of icy vodka now, but I’ve been dry for 10 years. When my wife was killed, I stopped cold turkey.

The phone rings. It’s a black old-fashioned rotary, crouching on my nightstand like a predatory beast. I must answer. My son’s newly happy life hinges on what the caller will say.

I lift the receiver. “This is Felix.”

“Oh. Kay.” The voice sounds female, robotic.

“Okay?” I repeat as I silently pray, please God.

“Okay Felix. We accept. Your life. As payment. For the debt. Your loser. Son. Owes.”

Relief floods my parched soul like cold beer, releasing a bit of dormant bravado, though it’s easy to be brave against a robot-voice. “Loser? My son? Just what are you insinuating?”

“No insinuation. Your loser. Son’s hoax. Cost Mr. Spore a lot. Of money. Mr. Spore has agreed to. Take your life to settle. The debt. Instead of your loser. Son’s. Your passing. Will be painful. Prolonged. Witnessed by Mr. Spore. And those. Who can afford. Ringside seats. For the live. Show. You understand?”

“That’s fine,” I say.

And I mean it. Just offering to swap places with my son had been a big, scary step. But last Saturday in the confessional, my priest—my late wife’s brother—had explained that it’s like someone offering their kidney to a needy donee before knowing whether the kidney would be compatible. If the kidney wasn’t a match, you’d still get credit for the magnanimous gesture.

But now I know that I’ll get way more than credit. I’ll get redemption. I’ll soon die, and not just die, but die horribly and painfully. So it’s more than fine, because just like Father said, the steeper the penance, the more assured the redemption.

Better to suffer for my sins temporarily on Earth than permanently in Hell.

My sins were deep. I’d been a horrible father to Mickey. Not just the yelling and whupping on the boy, but also on his mama.

She’d been running from my fists into a dark street when a speeding car had struck and killed her.

Mickey was damaged because of me. But Mickey’s pretty wife was transforming my son. He was now staying off drugs, staying employed, and staying kind and true to his good woman.

She was pregnant.

My grandchild needed two loving parents.

“Felix!”

I nearly drop the phone. The robotic female voice is gone.

“There’s two more requirements, Felix, in order to completely discharge your loser son’s debt.”

I shudder. Speaking now is the devil himself. The Kingpin of Death Porn. Benchley Spore.

“First, you gotta say the magic word before each, ah, procedure, is performed. Do you know the magic word, Felix?”

I white-knuckle the receiver. “Please,” I whisper.

“That’s right, Felix. Please. And second, what do I gotta hear outta you after each procedure is performed?”

I feel a smile relax my face. “Thank you,” I say. And I mean it.

Marie Anderson

Marie Anderson is a Chicago-area married mother of three. To date, 30 of her stories have appeared in various publications, including LampLight, Brain Child, Woman’s World, and Morpheus Tales. Since escaping from the University of Chicago Law School without graduating, she’s worked in offices and schools, and facilitates her local library’s writing critique group.

Two books she edited and published are available on Amazon: “What Good Moms Do and Other Stories,” (a collection of 27 of her previously published stories), and “The Wrong Coat,” (a themed anthology of stories and poems from 18 contributors).

 

Dead Wrong

He looked down at his phone again. The buzz of a new message only increased his anxiety level. It was almost over. The game only lasted 24 hours. It started out as gross and harmless pranks, but he could not deny the dark twists of the last few hours.

Use the gun under you seat and kill the person in this picture. You have 5 mins left or your family dies.’

Quietly he reached underneath the park bench and found the revolver. He looked up and into the barrel of a similar revolver. Obviously, he wasn’t the only one playing.

 

Arthur Unk

Arthur Unk lives in the United States with his wife, son, and dog Chuzzle. He spends his days writing and playing video games. His primary influences include H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, R.A. Salvatore, and his grandfather. He is also a voracious writer and reader of all types of flash fiction.

You can follow Unk’s work at http://arthurunk.com.

Doug

Doug stared at the blank television. It blacked out yesterday, along with all power in his house.

In a way, he was glad. The news reports had been nothing short of crazy. Cartoonish words like zombies and apocalypse had been thrown around by panicked newsreaders.

Doug hadn’t left his house for years and that wasn’t about to change with these developments.

He opened a bottle of scotch and poured a large measure. Draining the glass with a cough, he drank three more, then fell asleep on his battered old armchair.

He didn’t wake when the first one came to feed.

David Turton

David Turton has extensive training in Journalism, Marketing and Public Relations and has been writing as a career for over fourteen years. David has written several short stories, all centered around dark tales of horror and dystopia. Look out for his post-apocalyptic horror novel The Malaise which us due in late 2018 and download a free ebook from his website.

You can follow David’s work at his homepage.

Patience

The winter wind died, a merciful act of nature allowing family and friends to linger around the coffin after the service. Nine-year-old Norah felt lost in the sable sea of heavy-hearted humanity. Eyes wandering, Norah noticed a disturbance in the corner of the cemetery near a gravestone inscribed with a single word: Patience. Struggling but determined, a pair of skeletal hands punched through the soil, clawing until a young girl emerged. Coated in dirt, she wore a blue dress and black Mary Janes. A scarlet ribbon accentuated her matted strands of hair. Norah waved shyly. Patience beckoned, “Play with me.”

Lionel Ray Green

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

Disconnected

The servants of time had vanished; literally. Clocks had slowed, stopped and then disappeared. Yet the sun still rose and set and the moon waxed and waned but the people could not see that in their blinkered, ear-plugged world. Slaves to the Motherboard, the days and seasons were dictated to them and they lived accordingly until they had exhausted their allotted bandwidth – although the bit rate varied according to status and wealth. Then their connection was dropped and they were disconnected. With their battery spent, they still had some use – replenishing the earth with blood, bone and blissful ignorance.

Stephanie Ellis

Stephanie Ellis is a UK-based writer of dark fiction. Her poems, short stories and novella have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies. She has written a novel which she is hoping to get published and is currently at work on a second. Steph is an active member of the FlashDogs flash fiction online writing community and is also co-editor at The Infernal Clock, a fledgling publishing effort which has so far produced two well-received anthologies, The Infernal Clock and CalenDark, The Infernal Almanac. She reviews ARCs on occasion for Crystal Lake Publishing, is on the review team at HorrorAddicts.net, and is a beta reader. Steph currently works with secondary school students developing their literacy skills. In the past she worked as a senior software author in a technical publications company. She lives in Southampton with her husband and 3 children.
https://stephellis.weebly.com/

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About Stuart Conover

Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!

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