This is a slightly personal editorial post from me this week. Occasionally life throws things at you that make you stop and take stock. In recent years I have lost family and friends close to me. There is nothing unique in that, it is something we all go through and I send my condolences out to anyone who is currently suffering. Out of those I have lost however, are some who have gone too soon. This week (in my day job) I lost a dearly loved colleague. She was a woman so full of life and fun that the energy just fizzed off her, and nobody in her presence could be down or despondent for long. She went too soon.
And this brings me to my point. She was robbed of time.
One of the oft-quoted reasons for not writing is the excuse of ‘no time’ and so you let it slide, until at some stage you suddenly realise that ‘no time’ has actually become true and you find yourself on the slippery slope downwards on the hill of regret. Then your refrain becomes ‘if only’. Don’t let that happen to you.Stephanie Ellis
Offhand, I would like to once again point out how wonderful Steph is as making sure this continues. My time is shot at the moment and I’m not sure if we’d be making this weekly without her!
Also, I had five people reach out concerning formatting at the end of the year. I’d like to thank all of you and I’ll be in touch in the next week or so. I apologize for the delay, please see my opening above! 😉
‘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
You Must Not Remember
…Um…can anyone here me?
…No. No one is answering, again. Maybe I shouldn’t call out. I wish I knew better, I was
taught that I could know better, but something told me to run and hide. I’m in the ‘attic’, behind
a large row of ‘shelves’ against a ‘wall’. I can barely see in the ‘dark’.
This is miraculous, were the first words I ever heard. Was that when I was… ‘born’? I
want to learn more but–but, I guess I’m too ‘afraid’. I start playing with a ‘spider’ underneath
my ‘feet’. I don’t think they know where I am yet. Not these spiders, but other things down
What am ‘I’ anyways? I need to find a ‘mirror’. Please don’t make noise feet, oh
please oh please don’t make any noise–
The floor creaks, making me cover my mouth. I have to sit down again. I’m shaking. As I
curl up into a ball I try to force down my memories. They are bad, I don’t know why they are
bad, but I must not remember them. I have to keep away no matter what…
My ‘legs’ are hurting again. My ‘wrists’ and ‘neck’ feel sore when I feel them with my
My ‘ear’ is pressed against the floor, I can hear them speaking…but not what they’re
I have to move–‘do not’. I don’t know what I should do. I feel like ‘I’m crying’, but I’m
not, I’m not like them. I stroke my long ‘hair’ to try and ‘comfort’ myself. I learned a lot of new
words, and somehow know how to apply them. I was told that I was ‘smart’, and that I was
meant to ‘serve’…
No! No! No! My memories stop right there. I still want to see a mirror, to see an ‘image’
of ‘myself’’. If I move though, will they hear me? Will they find me? Will they–
“Stop!” I shout. I freeze. No, I shouldn’t have done that. Did they hear–
“I heard something”, a voice says from below. Movement. I have to move too. But I
can’t. Oh no I can’t make myself ‘move’. I listen to them talk some more. Again, I can’t
understand what they’re saying. Who are ‘they’ anyways? I don’t want to know anymore. I have
to get away. I must escape somehow.
I stand up quietly. Move silently. I think I saw a ‘window’ up here somewhere. Then I
hear the words:
“Upstairs, in the attic.”
I start making a lot of noise trying to find a window. Oh please oh please oh please oh
Please–I find a knob and yank it open. I stare at the pale moonlight in front of me, and the long
way down. A pitch black ‘forest’ is just beyond the ‘yard’. A noise comes from behind me, I
crouch down, and freeze in place. Please don’t let it see me through the light.
“Princess…where are you…” it calls. What is ‘it’ anyways? My memories again tell me
no, I must not ever remember them. But what happens if it finds me? Why do I have to be
so curious? I make a small yelp, it stops, then silence.
“Time to come back.” It rushes for me. I jump out the window.
I land hard and hear something break. I shriek ‘in pain’. Why, why do I have to feel pain?
But I have to move, somehow. They are coming for me again.
I can only ‘hobble’ into the dark wilderness. I can’t see, why can’t I see in the dark? So
many questions, I feel as though my memories have become faded–but my ‘escape’ is the only
thing that concerns me now.
I feel fear. It’s the feeling of fear that forces me to run, even though I am in a lot of pain.
It is fear that keeps my memories away.
But I have to stop against a ‘tree’, at least that’s what it feels like using my ‘fingers’.
Maybe they won’t find me, maybe they’ll ‘give up’. Those two words make my fear increase,
and I’m afraid to ask why…
I listen. I stay very still. The ‘door’ to the ‘house’ just opened. They are moving. I
can hear them moving but they aren’t calling for me.
I must move–if I don’t they will find me.
I use the tree for support, then try to put one ‘foot’ in front of the other-
“Ahh!” I yelp.
…did they hear? The only noise my ears pick up are the ‘crickets’. I ‘wait’, and stand
Something ‘snaps’ nearby me, I begin running again.
And running and running and running–both of them are behind me–and running and
running and running and running–I stumble when my ‘dress’ snags on a branch–and running
and running and running and running–I yelp in pain again–and running and running and
It catches me by the ‘waist.’ I ‘freeze’, not from the grasp, but from the ‘fear.’
“You poor thing, you damaged yourself…” the one holding me says.
“It doesn’t matter, that’s not the only thing wrong with her,” the other one says.
“Why did you run Alayna?” The holder asks. ‘Alayna? Is that my name?’ My fear
“No–no!” I shout. Not knowing why, just that I ‘can’t’ remember. No matter what…
“Why is she so loud?” The second one asks.
“An issue among several. Such a shame too, she was going to make a wonderful edition
at the café,” the holder says.
Why is it talking like that? It’s as if the holder is ‘bored’ of my fear. Why does it–
Instant pain shoots through my ‘head’, the repressed memories are starting to come back.
What is this…new feeling? It’s called…‘panic’. What I feel now–is panic. The holder
begins prodding my scalp, and then ‘twists’ my leg a bit-
“Stop it! Please!” I shout. The holder only sighs.
“No good, this leg is completely busted, beyond repair,” the holder says.
“Well then, we can at least salvage her for parts,” The second one says.
I turn to look at them. My memories have blocked the images of what they once were.
All I see now are ‘fuzzy’ and ‘pixelated’ shapes. But I can still see their ‘smiles’, their ‘teeth’.
A room full of ‘computers’ and ‘wiring’ appears in my head. No, no the fear says, you
must not remember anything else…
“Time to go back inside Alayna,” The holder says. I begin to ‘struggle’. The other one
grabs my legs, making me feel even more pain.
“Help! Help! Help, somebody, anybody!” I yell. The one holding me before smothers my
‘mouth’ shut with a ‘hand’.
“No one can hear you, no one will come. Just accept it okay? It’ll all be over soon.”
…‘Over soon’? I focus internally, keep trying–no, try again–don’t let it out! The block
on my memory breaks. Everything is coming back. No…
I scream as loud as I can, but the hand muffles it. Now I know why I hid, what I am, what
they tried to do to me before, what they’ll do soon enough, what ‘they’ are. I look up at that
‘face’ as they carry me back inside the house. I want to cry, but I’m not physically capable of
doing that. Not yet, please, not yet…
“Once you’re completely disassembled, you won’t feel any pain or suffering anymore, I
promise.” The ‘human’ smiles.
Jason D. Grunn
When the literary forces were too much to contain inside my head, I was taken over, and compelled to submit my works. So far, I have had a few short stories accepted: A fantasy-themed one I called Scry, which you can find here; http://adelaidemagazine.org/f_
However, this one I present to you was born in a much darker corner of my mind…
The deal was simple. Sign up online and receive a mystery package. Membership was free.
How can I resist that offer, he thought?
Eagerly, he signed up.
The email confirmed he was now a member of the exclusive serial killer club. Open the box, investigate the crime.
The package arrived a week later. Fake bloodstains adorned the exterior.
Excitedly, he opened it in front of his wife. She looked dubiously into the box.
“Look at that!” he exclaimed. “A fake severed head.”
She stared at the blood oozing across the counter from the saturated cardboard.
“I don’t think it’s fake.”
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.
Ahead In School
Ms. Mason was pulling a sheet of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies out of the oven when she heard the front door slam. She smiled when her sixth grade son, Bobby, entered the kitchen.
“Did you have a good first day at school, dear?” she asked
“Sure, Mom.” Bobby answered.
“Did you do everything your teacher told you to do?”
“Yeah.” He unzipped his wet backpack.
“With no backtalk?”
“Of course not.”
“That’s good.” she said. “I want you to get ahead in school this year, son.”
“I already did.” Bobby smirked, and pulled out the principal’s dripping, severed head.
Jean E. McIntosh
Jean E. McIntosh has written stories for Ravenelectrick, Kansas Heritage, and many others. Right now, she’s working on a novel about the witch of Endor. She lives in Tornado Alley. Hans My Hellhound follows her on Twitter.
Booze soaked, head thumping, Rosie fled the nightclub into the streets of Valletta.
Thoughts of ice cold baths and all night pharmacies propel her deeper into the old town’s maze of ochre and vanilla houses.
Lost, she halts by an ironwork gate. A man loiters there, smoking, sweating.
Flirtatiously she takes his hand and sees red rose petals smeared on his palm.
‘I’m Rose Red.’ She laughs.
Meeting his eyes she sees the foreignness in them.
Inside his garden paradise he strokes her head with his hoe and harvests her.
Bundled up under the hibiscus she is laid to rest.
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.
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