Trembling With Fear 01/10/20

Thank you to everyone who continues to send in their stories to TWF, we enjoy reading and sharing them with you. As we have had a growing number of submissions, we’ve noticed a few things appearing more and more. On an occasional basis, the issues I mention below might not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but when you are working on the site week-in-week-out – with a growing number of subs – all these things combined add considerably to our workload so I am putting forward a little submission guide reminder here (though please do refer to the guidelines for all sorts of other information!). Help us help you get your stories published!

First – keep to guidelines. Whilst we do consider stories slightly beyond our range of 1500 words, if they are 2000+ please don’t send them. If you think they could be split into instalments for a serial, again, please can I ask that you do this prior to sending and not ask that we split ‘where we see fit’. This simply adds to our workload.

Returning to another theme as well – the use of spaces or tabs. One word – DON’T! If you indent the first line of paragraphs, please use the indent feature for the paragraph style, do not use tabs or spaces. Positioning titles and scene breaks should also be via the alignment feature, not by using the space bar. Again, it takes time to strip these out and correct them.

Stories should also be submitted as separate documents and not in the body of the email. This adds to work as I have to strip them out and create new documents to hold them and organise them in our Publication Date Folders. Unholy Trinities may contain all 3 drabbles BUT drabbles which are not trinities should not be in the same document – though they can be attached to the same email.

Publication plug this week goes to the ever excellent Kevin M. Folliard with his novella, Tower of Raven, from Demain Publishing. I love Kevin’s writing and I strongly urge you to give him a try. His story, ‘Sugarplum’, is one of my favourites in the recent Gothic Blue Book VI: A Krampus Carol and his novelette, Candy Corn – also from Demain – is a quality story.

The first story in this week’s Trembling with Fear is I Come Back by Trisha McKee is that back-and-forth drive between dream and reality. Which is the truth? There’s enough in this story to keep you guessing and it’s that pacing that makes it real. The use of dreams can be contentious in stories, especially if the end result is ‘it was all a dream’, something we will always reject at TWF. This tale interweaves emotion and a person’s grip on reality with the dream state effectively.

Gram and Grampa by Scarlet Berry uses pragmatic speech to add a touch of dark humour to the drabble.

Life and Limb by Patrick Winters turns on observations made. Be careful what you think!

The Pen by G.A. Miller gives us a metaphorical image of bleeding ink. Subtleties in writing are always appreciated, something that makes you pause a moment and rethink what was written.

Enjoy the stories and send us yours!


Take care



Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

For the love of God, Cthuhlu, Dog, or whatever you believe in, please follow our guidelines as Steph outlined above! Not only are we temporarily down a secondary editor but she is in the process of a few big life changes. These are not the few months to add any needed work! (That being said please send in drabble and Valentine’s Day submissions asap for TWF, as long as they’re following the guidelines!) 😉

Well. It’s 2021. My birthday was this week and was a total shitshow thanks to US politics. (Honestly, it wasn’t that bad at all aside from the mess that happened but I feel a bit bad about how much I enjoyed celebrating with my wife and kiddos.) So far, this year I’ve started sketching an outline for a new short story for an anthology I’ve been invited to and re-reading a novella that I have in the works and haven’t touched in over 6 months. I’m trying to be productive by not only keeping Horror Tree fully up to date but getting fully back into my creativity and working out. (Thanks Noom! Yes, that is an affiliate link but I fully support them as they’ve helped me lost a ton of weight.)

This week, we once again have some fantastic stories for you. I think that you’re going to enjoy them and I hope that they give you a bit of distraction from the world.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

I Come Back by Trisha McKee

Annette ignored her phone, pulling the covers up over her head. She understood people meant well, but she had no strength to lie and tell people she was fine. She could not assure everyone about her well-being anymore. She was anything but okay. Her love, her soulmate was missing. For two weeks, everyone searched, the news reported, and people called in with tips and sightings, but nothing panned out.

The only escape was sleep. Annette willed herself to shut her eyes and simply let go. To pretend all was okay, and if she slept, she would wake up to Clark beside her, pulling her close and whispering that it was all a nightmare.

In her dreams, she and Clark were rushing around in the morning as they always did, grabbing coffee to drink on the way to their jobs. Clark kissed her just as he did that last morning, the last time she ever saw him, and remembering, she grabbed him.

“Don’t go! No, something happens.”

And Clark nodded, as if he knew just what she meant. “I come back,” he whispered in her ear. “Don’t give up on me. I come back.”

Annette woke with a start and then realized someone was pounding on her bedroom window. By now it was dark, and she got goosebumps. Why wouldn’t they call or ring the doorbell? 

Slowly, she slid out of bed, her legs shaky as she stepped slowly toward the window. She felt as if she were moving through quicksand, but she made it to the window. Unable to stop herself, she pulled back the curtain and there he was – Clark. His skin was gray and eyes cloudy, but it was him!

“I came back,” he whispered. “I came back for you.”

And then she sat up in bed, sweat drenching the covers, her breathing fast and hard. A dream! But she could not shake how real it had been.

The next day she got dressed and for the first time since Clark had gone missing, Annette went to work. She smiled politely at everyone’s words of encouragement and answered, “I know he’s out there. I saw him in a dream. He is okay.”

And her coworkers gave her smiles full of pity and fake assurances as they nodded and patted her hand. She wanted to scream and slap them for only pretending to believe. They did not understand how real that dream was.

That night she dreamed again of that morning. As Clark was walking out the door, she called to him, panic washing over her, immobilizing her. He turned and smiled. “Netty, calm down. It’s going to be okay.”

She shook her head, her thick mane of auburn hair whipping across her face. “But it’s not. You leave here. You never make it to work. Something happens. You don’t get on the bus.”

“I come back.” He paused and then strode over to her, his brown hair falling into those caramel brown eyes. His ridiculously handsome features had been what initially drew Annette to him, but it was his heart, his sense of humor, his attention to the details of her soul that had caused her to fall in love with him. He swooped down and engaged her in a kiss so sudden and passionate that she forgot to breathe. Then he released her and repeated, “I come back.”

She once again awoke to pounding on the window. She glanced at the clock and saw that it was the middle of the night. Taking note of the details around her, Annette knew she was not sleeping. This was not a dream.

But again, she had trouble moving. Something pushed against her legs each time she took a step. Finally she made it to the window, and again, she pulled back the curtain. And there he was, Clark staring in at her. “Netty,” he called out, his mouth working awkwardly, his skin still an unnatural gray. His hair was flat and greasy, and she started to cry. 

“What’s going on, Clark? Where have you been? What’s wrong?”

“I came back. For you.”

“Why did you leave?”

“I didn’t. Not willingly.”

“Are you in danger?”

“I came back for you.” 

Chills ran up her spine, and she shivered. Something was off. But this was her love, so she ignored it. She saw the boy she had fallen in love with in college, the man who had a diamond ring hidden in his underwear drawer, the partner who had her back even when she was in the wrong. She saw her love and her future.

But before she could react, she awoke in her bed, again drenched in sweat. And she was left wondering how she got there, where Clark went. She had no doubt she had been awake during his visit. But now there were more questions than answers.

That day at work, someone approached her. “I’m so sorry about Clark. You must be beside yourself.”

Annette smiled. “No, it’s okay. He’s out there. I know he is alive. He’ll be back.” And again, there was that patronizing smile directed at her, as if she were to be pitied for her unreasonable hope.

But she knew he was alive. She remembered how it had not been a dream, how she had looked at the clock and seen the time, had felt the draught in the room, the slight sway of the curtain as he pounded on the window. 

It was that afternoon that she was notified they had found Clark’s body in the local river. They told her it looked like he had been there for weeks, but she knew that was not true. She explained she had seen him. They stared at her with pity, tried to explain that was not possible, offered to take her to the hospital to get some sedatives. But she refused. She knew the truth. She had seen him. Had talked to him.

That night she only suffered from nightmares about Clark being gone, lying at the bottom of the river. She woke up sobbing, the morning light giving her no hope in seeing her love. 

By the fifth night, Annette started to doubt herself. Perhaps it had all been a dream. A way for her broken heart and destroyed soul to deal with the loss of Clark. Perhaps she had fooled herself into believing it was more than just a wishful dream. 

But that night, she had that dream. It was the morning of his disappearance, and before he even had a chance to walk toward the door, Annette ran in front of him, sobs busting from her.

“Netty, no,” he soothed, slinging an arm around her and pulling her to him. “Don’t cry.”

“You don’t understand. You leave here, and you don’t come back. So don’t go.”

At first his hold tightened, but then he pulled back, bending forward so their faces were only inches apart. “Listen, Netty. I come back. And when I come back, don’t be scared. Don’t hesitate.”

She woke with a start, sitting up and panting, and it took a moment for the knocking to register. This time she did not hesitate, and she fought through the fog that seemed to hold her back and slow her down. She worked at getting to that window. 

Clark was there, waiting. She opened the window and crawled out and then threw her arms around her one true love. “They said you were gone.”

“Never gone,” he whispered, his arms tightening around her. “I came back for you.”

His speech was slurred, his skin cold, but she tried to ignore that. “Don’t ever leave again. I can’t be without you.”

“I didn’t want to leave in the first place. You know that, right? But we can be together again.”

“Yes. Please. I can’t do this without you.”

Clark pulled back, and Annette could not ignore the blankness in those filmy eyes, the dried skin around his lips. As if he sensed her sudden hesitation, his grip on her arms tightened. “You won’t have to be without me. I promise you. But for you to be with me, for you to come back like I have, you have to die first.”

And Annette was torn between terror and relief as he dove for her neck. 

Trisha McKee

Trisha McKee resides in a small town in Pennsylvania where her front door opens to the town cemetery. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in J.J. Outre Review, Horror Magazine, Night to Dawn Magazine, Kzine, Crab Fat Magazine, ParABnormal Magazine, 4 Star Stories, several anthologies, and more.

Gram and Grampa

“He’s dead.  A little squeeze won’t hurt him,” my grandmother said.

“Gram! Have you no respect for the dead?” I replied, feeling shocked.  “That’s Grampa lying there!”

“So, it is!  Help me put him in this wagon!”

I gingerly lifted my grandfather’s body and followed Gram to the garden.

“Now this part might be a little tricky.  We’re going to burn your Grampa, but he’s too big to fit in the barrel.  We have to cut him up.  Go get the chainsaw.”

As Gram started cutting through a leg, Grampa screamed.

“My mistake!” Gram said and lopped off his head.

Scarlet Berry

Scarlet Berry is a Yooper. She’s been married over forty years to the same man and they raised four children together. She writes for the joy of it and has contributed to Trembling With Fear.

Life and Limb

Mark was traipsing through the woods when he saw the parachute, entangled in an elm and flapping lazily in the wind. 

Dangling up above it, like some forsaken marionette, was a skydiver, head lolling and a wicked branch punched clear through his chest.

Mark stood beneath the body, thinking: Jeez, what a crappy way to die . . .

Then there was a loud crack; corpse and tree limb came plummeting down, straight onto Mark.

Mark laid on the ground. The skydiver laid on top of him. And the bloodied branch, somehow, had pierced his own chest.

What a crappy way to die . . .

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 MagazineDeadman’s TomeTrysts 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:

The Pen

Edgar sat at his desk and opened his journal. He picked up the pen he’d been gifted, delighted at how perfectly it fit his hand.

He began, planning to apologize for the wrongs he’d committed and the people he’d hurt throughout the years. 

He wrote throughout the night, pausing occasionally to visit his bathroom, always reluctant to set the pen down, out of his touch.

As the sky lightened, the pen began to skip, running out of ink, and when he wrote the final “Sorry” on the page, the pen ran dry and Edgar collapsed to the floor, stone dead.

G.A. Miller

G.A. Miller is another 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.
He’s had numerous stories published in a variety of publications and resides in New England.

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