Halloween’s behind us although the long dark nights remain. So, what to do? Well, I don’t know about anybody else but I’m using November to create some new nightmares and like so many thousands of others have signed up to this year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I joined up a few years back, most efforts were a few half-hearted attempts then a couple of years back I took it a bit more seriously, used it to stop the writer’s eternal enemy—procrastination. One novel completed got through to a second reading round at Hodderscape. It now lurks in a drawer to be dusted off and revisited one day but its reception gives me hope. Last year’s effort wasn’t so much something completely new as to force me to finish an ongoing work. The first few chapters are now with Gollancz—it may fail but you never know. This year editing and beta reading has eaten into my writing time so I am being selfish(!) and reclaiming November. I have signed up to NaNoWriMo. I have an outline, which, for a pantser like me is amazing. There may be blood. But I am looking forward to it. Any one else up for the challenge?Stephanie Ellis
First off, as Steph mentioned it’s that certain month where many authors try to get a ton of words down that they can hopefully eventually turn into something publishable. For those of you who are trying, I wish you the best of luck! With the family and a brand new day job, I just won’t be able to try this year.
Secondly, I have to say that I really think the image that I choose for today’s short is more horrifying than anything that you’ll be reading today. I should probably apologize for it but I just…. Can’t…
‘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
Just A Little Bloob
Kathy couldn’t remember exactly when it progressed to hatred. She had a hazy recollection of the slide from young lust to something resembling love to begrudging acceptance, and then bored indifference, but when it finally crossed the line into hate somehow escaped her.
Joe wasn’t mean or abusive, nothing like that, but he was indifferent to her, to her wants or needs or feelings. They’d evolved into a dead end couple working dead end jobs to maintain their dead end house in their dead end neighborhood.
Not the fairy tale she’d often imagined as a little girl, no, not at all, much more like a reflection of her mother’s life when she looked in her mirror, becoming more clear and distinct by the day.
And she hated it. She hated her life, she hated Joe for his casual indifference, and she had to admit, she hated herself for just going along with it, day after day.
It had become worse lately, though. She began making an effort to eat better, more salads, more vegetables, leaner proteins, and Joe would have nothing to do with it.
“You can do what you want, but I’m not eating that Goddam rabbit food. I’ll pick something up on the way home from work for myself.”
And he did. He tried a few of the usual fast food places, and finally settled on a new place in town, the “Taco Tower”. He’d bring home spicy smelling bags and eat their contents while she had her salad, neither of them talking much at all during their meals any more.
The worst part for her wasn’t what he ate, not by a long shot. It was the aftermath.
He’d begun farting regularly, producing the most obscene, vile odors she’d ever had to endure. She’d worked in a nursing home as a teen, and tending to the bed pans was nothing compared to the repugnant smells he produced.
She soon learned that the loud ones, the ones that sounded like thick leather being torn, weren’t so bad at all. It seemed most of their energy went into producing the loud, wet noises.
No, the worst ones were what Joe came to call “a little Bloob.”
The tiniest popping sound, followed by a poof that reminded Kathy of actors blowing out candles in the old black and white movies. That was the “Bloob”.
And those produced the most hideous, rank odors imaginable. She’d be lying on the couch, he in his recliner, and as soon as she heard the little pop, she’d pull up the comforter and cover her nose and mouth with it. Even their little Jack Russel Terrier would hear that sound, jump off the couch, and trot outside through his doggie door to the fresh air out back.
With his sensitive little sniffer, she didn’t blame him. Even dogs had their limits, it seemed.
As time went on, Joe stopped there more frequently, and it got worse. She’d taken to keeping a can of air freshener at her side at all times, like a Sheriff’s six-gun in a lawless town, to try and offset the revolting odors emanating from his chair.
The arguments got worse, more bitter as time passed. One day, he made an extremely rude comment as she was in the kitchen, and she stopped her work, not believing what she just heard.
She finally lost it. She’d had enough. She raced in from the kitchen, her chef’s knife in hand from slicing vegetables, and told him she couldn’t take it any longer. She wanted out.
And he laughed. He actually laughed in her face, laughing so hard, he produced one of his room clearing “Bloobs”.
She shrieked, gripped the handle of the knife in both hands, and plunged it deep into his gut.
Even before he howled in pain, she heard the hissing, wooshing sound. The sound of a broken air line, or perhaps escaping compressed air.
She understood immediately that she’d made a critical mistake. She’d hit the stomach, possibly the intestines.
Her eyes widened to comical proportions, realizing what she’d done. She began backpedaling, waving her arms frantically, but the stench hit her hard, a noxious cloud straight from the very bowels of Hell itself.
Decomposing bodies floating in raw sewage would be spring roses in a field of lavender compared to the malodorous effluvium quickly filling the room. The back of her legs hit the couch, and she went down hard, choking and gagging. She leaned to the side and vomited profusely, trying to get it all out and not choke on it, completely ignoring Joe’s frenzied cries for help.
The Jack Russel was already out in the yard, howling instead of barking.
She rolled off the couch onto the floor, praying the stench would rise, like stifling air does. She began crawling toward the door to the kitchen, to try and get away, and as she passed the wall vent, she heard the click of the heat coming on downstairs.
And they heated their home with natural gas.
The resulting explosion shattered the windows in seventeen houses nearby, causing severe structural damage to the ones closest. A Desert Storm veteran who lived down the street was quoted on TV as saying it looked worse to him than direct hits by missile strikes from air support in the desert. He was not at all surprised to hear that the governor had mobilized the National Guard.
Neighboring towns had to lend support, tending to the wounded, and transporting the worst cases to nearby hospitals.
Neighbors first thought an aircraft fell from the sky, hitting the house directly, the fuel exploding on impact. The damage was too severe, too total to have been caused by anything inside. Kathy and Joe were normal people, they said, not criminals or terrorists.
Arson and bomb squad investigators ran every forensic test in their arsenal, looking for trace evidence. They suspected a meth lab, a hidden cache of explosives and weapons, but every test came back negative for those elements.
The only unusual result was an exceptionally high trace of natural methane, which they could not explain. There were no signs of accelerants, and the trigger seemed to be the pilot in the furnace going on as it should, nothing more than that. Even the FBI, once called in, had no meaningful results from their labs at Langley.
The medical examiner couldn’t shed much light, as there just wasn’t enough left of Joe or Kathy to autopsy.
The mystery remained front page news for a couple days, only to be replaced by the latest wave of scandal and accusations making the rounds in the Capital.
Locals looked forward to the new coffee house being built on the grounds of the former “Taco Tower”, which had been shuttered and abandoned by its owners without explanation.
Life moves on.
G.A. Miller is a new voice in the chorus of horror authors, drawing his ideas from every day, commonplace events that take unforeseen turns down dark corridors, often with horrific consequences.
Born between the original Japanese “Gojira”, and the Americanized “Godzilla, King of the Monsters!”, G.A.’s interest in horror developed early on, nourished by televised movies on “Shock Theater” (Hosted by Zacherley, the “Cool Ghoul”), Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines, old issues of the late, great EC Comics, the British Horror Invasion of great films from Hammer Studios…the list goes on.
Making a living as a technician, he enjoys stepping away from the digital world, where ones and zeros are absolute, and entering the world of dark imagination, where a single “What If?” can turn normalcy to nightmare in a frenzied heartbeat, and rules of logic do not apply.
His published tales include:
“Bequeath” – Hinnom Magazine 001, Gehenna & Hinnom publishers.
“Shower Time” – The Edge: Infinite Darkness, Patrick Reuman publisher.
“Ear Wax” – Year’s Best Body Horror Anthology 2017 – Gehenna & Hinnom publishers.
“Nightmare” – Horror Bites Magazine, November 2017 Issue
G.A. lives where Lovecraft lived, due south of where King lives. Perhaps there’s something in the water in New England? One wonders…
Website – http://gamiller.info/
Break Her Back
He first heard the rhyme when he was eight years old. He believed it absolutely. He couldn’t imagine hurting his mother. That was when he started avoiding the cracks on the sidewalk. His mother chided him for staring at his feet, but he couldn’t stop.
For forty years he followed his own rule, but the inevitable happened. He was at an intersection. He stepped off the kerb without checking. Looking down he saw his foot, sitting neatly on a crack between two pavers.
He prayed the gods would forgive him. His phone rang. It was father. It was bad news.
R. J. Meldrum
Let Down Your Hair
The old tower was covered with moss and ancient vines. The doorway was bricked with dry crumbling mortar.
The Prince called to the turret high above and a woman answered.
“Thank goodness. Help, A wicked witch chained me here years ago.”
“The doorway’s bricked shut.”
“I’ll let down my long hair. Climb it.”
Her golden hair cascaded downward like a waterfall. The Prince caught the first strands, but the hairy deluge continued until he was trapped and the weight suffocated him.
Rapunzel pulled up her hair. Damn, I’ve killed another one. Not to worry, the wolves will eat him tonight.
Robert Allen Lupton lives in New Mexico where he is commercial hot air balloon pilot. He writes and runs every day, but not necessarily in that order.
Recent publications include short stories in the following anthologies:
Potters Field #6
Worlds Unknown #4
Strangely Funny IV
The novel, Foxborn, was published by West Mesa Press in April of 2017.
Other short stories are available online from “Crimson Streets”, Daily Science Fiction. A piece of flash fiction and a half dozen drabbles have been published in “Trembling With Fear”.
“Running Into Trouble”, a collection of 15 fantasy, science fiction, horror, adventure, and humorous stories, all with running as a central theme, will be published in September of 2017. The novelette, Dejanna of Mars, will be published in August 2018, and the second book in the Foxborn series, ‘Here There Be Dragons,” is scheduled for February 2018.
Doctor Henson ran to the injured girl, laying in the rain by the roadside. He decided on mouth to mouth. As he breathed, movement to his left caught his eye. A puddle was forming rapidly around them. He had to reanimate her quickly or the puddle would cover them both. The water covered his ankles, then his legs. As he breathed into her mouth, something tickled his tongue. My God! Is she kissing me? Then, it ran down his throat. Shocked, he spat it out. The thing ran to join its companions that were the puddle. The cockroaches engulfed him.
Justin Boote has lived for over twenty years in Barcelona, Spain, plying his trade as a stressed waiter in a busy restaurant. He has been writing horror stories for just over a year, and currently has 8 published in diverse magazines including for Lycan Valley Press, Deadlights Shotgun magazine, Zimbell House Publishing, Dark Dossier Magazine and The Horrorzine’s summer edition.
He is also a member of a private writer’s forum called The Write Practice where he has also acted as a judge on two ocassions for their contests.
He can be found at Facebook under his own name, or at [email protected].
- Taking Submissions: Urban Crime - September 24, 2018
- Taking Submissions: American Gothic - September 24, 2018
- Taking Submissions: 2100 A Health Odyssey Contest - September 24, 2018
- Ongoing Submissions: Zooscape - September 24, 2018
- Ongoing Submissions: Nanoism - September 24, 2018
- Trembling With Fear 09/23/2018 - September 23, 2018
- The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Dean M. Drinkel - September 22, 2018
- Taking Submissions: Black Labyrinth Anthology I : Possession - September 21, 2018
- Video Refresh: Finding Your Identity - September 21, 2018
- Taking Submissions: Speculative City - September 20, 2018