Two weeks into the New Year and submissions are coming in steadily which is great to see. We have received our first submission for our Valentine Special but none so far for our LGBTQ+ edition which was intended to be published at the end of January. If you still wish to submit for the latter, please do, otherwise we could perhaps try this again later in the year (during June to link in with Pride?). Let us know your thoughts.
This week’s Trembling With Fear leads with Unburied Horror by B.B. Blazkowicz, a story set on a farm – we don’t tend to get too many rural tales, unless someone is running through the woods(!). Blazkowicz creates a setting which is initially portrayed as normal, even though there are animal hides and skulls, flies buzz and dust is evident – until an antlered skull full of mealworms is seen and the child doesn’t recognise the main character. Then the main character goes to the Silo … This story has a good folk horror feel towards the end which we both enjoyed.
Elvis Says Hello by Hillary Lyon brings a Ouija board story to the table and is great fun. They say children shouldn’t meddle with such things, especially when they can’t spell … a moral here!
Lost and Found by Jacob Kane sends a child into a basement … and we all know nothing good ever comes of that. The simple greeting at the end by a voice in the darkness, which in other circumstances would sound normal, is made sinister. This is something I like in stories, using normality in a horrific setting, the mundane clashing with the abnormal, making the contrast starker, the reader more uncomfortable.
Narcissistic Cannibal by Arthur Unk caught my eye initially because of the title, this writer knows my love of metal and a certain band (check out the track here). Yes, it features a cannibal – the story, not the track – but one who is determined not to let others win the prize of himself … a different twist on cannibalism which lives up to the title.
If anyone else wants to attract my attention in a similar way, I like Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Rammstein, Rotting Christ, Slipknot, Blutengel, Ludovico Technique … lots of tracks you could weave into stories. Lots of excuses for me to post links to their music! I did actually slip a Five Finger Death Punch reference into the blurb for The Infernal Clock’s first anthology but nobody noticed except my co-editor, David Shakes.
As we’re talking about music, well I am anyway, we recently received a drabble from a new contributor which will be published in the near future – and very good it was too. This particular writer (David Berger) also included a little bit about himself on a more personal note including a reference to his wife, Ms. Audra Blu – ‘the greatest jazz singer in NYC’. I asked for a link and watched with my daughter. This woman is amazing (she completely won over my 17-year-old), watch her here.
Congratulations to Richard Meldrum as well on his recent publication, The Photograph in TWF. I didn’t realise until Alyson Faye alerted me to his tweet that this is in fact his 90th short story publication (not all with TWF). I’m sure he’ll hit his centenary this year. Anyone else hit landmarks of any kind?
I feel as if I’m going at a snail’s pace compared to Richard!
Richard Meldrum is putting us all to shame. That is all.
Actually that isn’t all! We’re working on various aspects of bringing the 2018 anthologies to life. Yes, I said anthologies! We’ll be splitting up our 2018 output slightly due to the increase in submissions over the past year. Also, I wanted to make everyone aware that we’ve slightly changed up our guidelines which you can find on the Trembling With Fear Submissions Page. The main changes were to add in our holiday-themed calls and details about both our “Serial Killers” and “The Unholy Trinity” selections.
‘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.
Brian was never a social butterfly, but this is starting to get weird. I curse my lack of a four-wheel drive vehicle as I sluggishly make my way up the muddy gravel driveway to his old farmhouse. I involuntarily begin rubbing my eyes, working graveyard shift sucks but it has been three days since anyone has seen or heard from him. There are no lights on inside when I pull up. The car is here, so at least that means nobody has left. It also rules out my theory of him bailing out of town because he got paranoid and thought the DEA was on to the weed plants growing out in the surrounding woods. Besides some meek clucking from the nearby chicken pen there was total silence.
I walk onto to his porch, noticing the neglected deer hide up on a rack. I took a deep breath before heading inside. Normally what would happen, if you walk into another person’s house uninvited, is you’d get a loaded gun pointed at your chest. It’s more than a little strange that being on the business end of an over-under would have actually been a relief. At least then, it would have meant nothing was wrong. While nothing seemed out of place, it gave the appearance of a place recently vacated. Everything was undisturbed and the dust had settled. I swatted a group of flies away from my face and went straight to his bedroom. It was empty, of people at least. It was full of other assorted crap. There was Brian’s ever expanding collection of milk crates filled with Vinyl records, various animal furs hung up on the wall, and a few bleached deer skulls placed lovingly about. Nothing out of the ordinary, except a fish tank. A fish tank with what almost looked like a human skull with antlers that had a mouth full of mealworms. I cocked my head off to the side. Okay, now that is out of the ordinary. Before I could ponder the odd bit of amateur taxidermy any further I heard something outside.
That better be him.
I make a quick pace through the house and back onto the porch. Even the chickens were silent now. I heard a crunch of gravel and looked towards my car to see Brian’s kid standing there.
I thought his mom picked him up already.
“Hey where’s ya daddy at, I was starting to get worried about him. You two go on a hunting trip and lose track of the time or something?” He looked up from my car towards me and replied and a flat voice:
“He went over there, Mister.” He raised his hand and pointed to the old grain silo.
The kids lack of reaction was not putting me at rest.
“Mister? You’re funny. You know I used to change your diapers, right?”
I start walking towards the silo. A few years back we converted it into a man-cave of sorts for him and his kid. “I haven’t heard from your dad in three days you know that? If you all want to take a vacation or something, I understand it, but he has got to at least least tell his work or something. You can’t just be trying disappear on everybody.” I spoke in a casual tone trying to obfuscate my own unease.
“We were not planning to be gone long,” he replied, again in that flat tone. Now that I think about it, Brian sounded about the same when I talked to him last.
We made our way across the field to the old corn silo without event, besides occasionally swatting some flies away from us.
I waste no time opening the door and climbing inside. It was completely empty, save for a fissure teaming with maggots and mealworms. I stumble back only to be shoved forward by a pair of small hands, and I tumbled down about an 8-foot drop.
I roll over, trying to get a footing only to find a swarm of flies on the ceiling clinging onto two skeletal corpses. I begin hyperventilating and my clawing against the tide of slithering grubs becomes more frantic. Something grabs my leg, pulling me towards the center. It’s that same skull with antlers from the house. It rises from the fissure, attached to a humanoid body made of gnarled, blight covered branches and vines. A sharp pain shoots from my chest up my arm as it pulls me down into the wretched earth. The mouth opens and it speaks in a voice that is the thunderous buzzing of insects.
“I… am… the irrevocable poison put on this earth.”
B.B. Blazkowicz is a horror fiction writer currently tied to a chair in an Antarctic research facility. A bearded man who smells of Scotch says one of us is assimilated. If you are reading this please send me transportation to your densest population centers.
They cannot fool me! I am on to their scheme. I’ve seen it on their faces and heard it in whispered conversations. Cannibals all of them! My secret plan will beat them at their own game. The door is locked, and the straps are tight. I slice into the meat, all the way to through bone, and begin to eat. One leg gone, two legs gone, then my left arm. I dig into the belly; my screams mix with laughter. I can see the astonished looks on their faces before the darkness takes me. I’ve robbed them of their prize.
Arthur Unk lives and works in the United States, but dreams of a tropical, zombie-free island. He hones his drabble skills via the Horror Tree Trembling With Fear (Dead Wrong, Flesh of My Flesh, The Tale of Fear Itself, and others yet to come) and writes micro/flash fiction daily. His influences include H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and life experience. You can follow his work from all around the web via his blog at http://arthurunk.com or read his many, many micro-stories on Twitter @ArthurUnkTweets
Elvis Says Hello
“Let’s contact somebody famous!” Marie squeaked. “Like Elvis! Hunka, Hunka—”
“Nah—let’s talk to Granny,” Jenny countered. “She’s always happy to hear from us. Some old dead singer won’t—”
Marie grabbed the planchette from her sister’s hand and moved it along the Ouija board’s glossy surface.
“E,” Marie said breathlessly, “V, I, L—Elvis! Elvis says—what?”
Jenny watched a towering, horned figure rise up behind her sister. The unearthly beast grabbed Marie in his cruel talons and dragged her back into the screaming, infernal darkness.
“That’s not Elvis, you idiot—” Jenny chided. “You never could spell.”
Hillary Lyon is founder and senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. Her stories have appeared recently in Night to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Sirens Call, and Tales from the Moonlit Path. She’s also an illustrator for horror & pulp fiction magazines. Having lived in France, Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern Arizona.
Lost And Found
The basement of the abandoned house was full of heads. Most were naked bone, and a good many were rotting away, the flesh wriggling with maggots. Then there were two fresh kills, their faces contorted with fear.
Recently dried blood coated their necks and the back of the cabinet that was their home. My stomach, already churning, became a whirlpool as I recognized the visages of my friends, missing since yesterday. I retched, vomit slapping the dirty concrete.
A sound came from the darkness behind me. A shuffling of feet over the dusty floor.
“Hello, child,” a bass voice chuckled.
Jake Kane is a writer and visual artist living in rural Pennsylvania. In his spare time, he enjoys reading occult lore, spending time in the woods, and illustrating the contents of his psychic explorations.
Sleight Of Hand
Plam pocketed some fruit as the merchant before him haggled with a customer.
This wasn’t stealing, just sleight of hand.
His living had been performing before magic was banned.
Walking down the rows of vendors, he bumped into a man in a dark robe.
Glancing down, the bracelet he’d taken would be worth weeks of food.
He slipped it on.
It bit into his wrist, tightening painfully.
Plam couldn’t scream before falling to the ground.
The last thing he saw was the man in the robe.
Not a man.
It smiled before lifting him onto its shoulder.
Who lets this guy get another drabble in? Your Horror Tree is back with another one just to mix things up, and hopefully, you enjoy it!
This has been a crazy new year so far, and my writing has fallen behind so I’m thrilled that I’m able to get something in, even if its only 100 words at a time.
You can follow me over at my homepage!
- Taking Submissions: In Darkness, Delight: Fear the Future (Volume 3) - January 24, 2020
- Taking Submissions: Untitled Local Oddities Cemetery Gates Anthology - January 23, 2020
- Taking Submissions: A Monster Told Me Bedtime Stories - January 23, 2020
- Taking Submissions: One Story - January 22, 2020
- Ongoing Submissions: Public Domain Fanzine - January 22, 2020
- Taking Submissions: Best Vegan SFF of the year (Reprints Only) - January 21, 2020
- Ongoing Submissions: Infinite Worlds Magazine - January 21, 2020
- Taking Submissions: Guardians of Time - January 20, 2020
- Taking Submissions: Horror USA: Alaska - January 20, 2020
- Taking Submissions: Twenty Twenty - January 17, 2020