Trembling With Fear 02/06/2022
Welcome back to Trembling with Fear, our online flash zine. We publish both new and established writers with many becoming familiar faces and being an ongoing open market, we are always after material. Submissions don’t have to be horror, they can be dark sci-fi or fantasy or some other aspect of the speculative fiction field. Nor are we averse to a touch of noir or a dark thriller. Humour is also welcome!
I’ve had a couple of days ‘off’ from things this week. My eldest was finally able to attend the graduation ceremony for the degree course she completed last summer back in Southampton. Blue sky, warm – a lovely spring day. Made me realise how much colder being this bit further up the country is! She could only have two guests so no siblings, but it was live-streamed. No masks but covid tests beforehand. Have two more graduations this year, will be interesting to see how the restrictions change by then.
Whilst I was away, I did some reading – I mean when you have to fork out extra for internet, it’s an excuse to stay away. As an active member of the HWA, this is my first year of being able to vote so I read a couple of publications up for the award and I still have a pile to get through. There’s some amazing work lined up. Which is a nice segue into this week’s Trembling With Fear!
First up this week Charlotte by Gareth Rees is a nice tale of misdirection, keeping you focussed on the pace of the chase and the reactions until the reveal at the end.
Pipe Links by Wayne Fenlon is a little bit (almost) gross, a little bit gruesome, enough though to make you consider the state of your own house’s plumbing. Wouldn’t want it to happen to you now, would you?
Sailing Day by Mike Rader doesn’t need to say much. He sets the scene and then starts to spell a name. Two letters is all it takes and we know the horror that awaits.
Taxidermy by Janine Pipe gives us a new take on the idea of not being able to let go. An extreme example of a controlling relationship and the idea of ‘ownership’.
I hope you enjoyed our stories, now send us yours!
A couple quick things about response times.
– We don’t often respond over the weekend. Sometimes Steph or myself will, but I know Steph has writing and time with her family on the weekend and I spend most of my weekend with my family as well.
– We do have multiple readers on all of our short stories that go into publishing. Some of these take a bit longer for sign offs depending on schedules. If we don’t respond with an acceptance or a denial within a couple of days. I feel that it shouldn’t have to be said but that shouldn’t be a reason to angrily reach out asking for feedback. 😉
When it comes to the newsletter, we’re still not loving SendFox. I’ve added a special Patreon Tier for those looking to sponsor the site. This cover specifically the newsletter going back to Mail Chimp and allowing for extra advertising perks. (I’m open to even more if someone wants to take it up and cover it full time. Just reach out with your thoughts!)
Okay, that is all for this weekend. Have a great read! 🙂
Charlotte by Gareth Rees
Charlotte ran, faster than she’d ever run before.
Ahead of her was a vast expanse of land, with nothing in view but a cluster of mountains, off in the distance. Salvation? Maybe.
She adjusted her course and pushed on, now heading for the only cover she could see. She felt the rumble through her feet as the giant followed her, every step bringing him closer, one of his giant paces the equivalent of a hundred of her own scampering steps. She was lucky he hadn’t spotted her earlier or he might already have caught her. She’d waited until nightfall before she’d entered this arid wasteland with the intention of crossing to find food. Her children would be awake soon and they would be ravenous. Their father had died, shortly after Charlotte had fallen pregnant and she was the only one left to provide.
Steeling herself for the long, dangerous trek, Charlotte had set off. Things had gone well for the first half of her journey; she’d made good time and seen nothing.
But then, when she was a little short of halfway to her goal, she’d heard a colossal booming sound. Suddenly her world had exploded into light, more powerful seemingly than a thousand burning suns.
Charlotte had stopped dead, blinking against the blinding light and praying that whatever had made that deafening noise wouldn’t see her.
No such luck.
She’d heard a roar of anger and, against every instinct in her body, had turned back to see.
The giant was enormous, easily a thousand times bigger than Charlotte. His huge eyes, each one three times as big as Charlotte’s whole body, were directly fixed on her. His huge brow furrowed beneath a bald head and his mouth turned into a snarl under his grey shaggy beard. Each dirty yellow tooth in that mouth was as big as Charlotte. She had visions of herself disappearing into that void, the blackness enveloping her and the teeth crunching together, ending any hope of escape.
As soon as she moved she heard another boom as the giant started after her. She would have screamed if she could but all of her attention was on running, pumping her legs as fast as she could, powering herself towards what she hoped was safety.
Time seemed to slow down. All there was in her universe was those mountains, the burning in her legs and the occasional thump of the giants’ feet hitting the floor.
She was so close now, maybe only two hundred steps away. The giants’ foot came down so close to her that her own feet left the floor. For a second she was hovering, flying even, then her soles reconnected with the ground and she lurched forwards.
She made it.
They weren’t mountains, their size had been an illusion, warped into a greater height by the absence of anything around them, but they were big enough.
Charlotte slipped into a crack, barely wide enough for her body and undoubtedly too small for the giant. Through the gap she could see his foot come down, so close to where she now hid. She breathed herself a sigh of relief. She was safe.
Charlotte took a moment to survey her surroundings. The structures she’d taken for mountains were huge monuments, stacked on top of one another. Each one was probably four times her size at least. Most of them were a dull grey but Charlotte noticed now that some were a beautiful shade of green. She gasped, almost forgetting the giant who’d chased her and moved closer to one. It was vaguely reflective, showing Charlotte a dimly distorted version of herself. She stared into her own eyes, enraptured by the beautiful colour.
Then the world was ripped away from her.
The giant stood over her, holding the interconnected monuments in one hand and glaring at her furiously. She saw now that he was holding a huge tree trunk in his other hand, long enough and wide enough to crush Charlotte twenty times over.
Her relief was gone, fear once more taking over. She ran again, fleeing this awful creature that was strong enough to rip huge monuments from the ground. Beyond what she’d taken for mountains, visible now that they were gone, was a grass ocean, tall enough to hide her. She could lose the giant there, lie flat beneath the grass and be invisible. It was her only chance and she went for it wholeheartedly.
The ocean was only a hundred steps or so away but the giant was right above her. She forced herself to run, faster and faster, fifty steps, now thirty, now only ten.
A shadow appeared above her, blotting out the light.
“No,” Charlotte thought, “I’m so clo…”
Her existence ended with a crushing blow, flattening her and sending one of her legs careering almost into the grass ocean she had strived to reach.
Gordon Pratt lifted the rolled-up newspaper and allowed himself a grin.
“Got you, you little bastard,” he whispered happily. He’d only come downstairs for a glass of water when he’d seen the creature. He couldn’t let it go, couldn’t risk the wife seeing it. She’d scream like no tomorrow and he’d never hear the end of it. Hell, she’d probably even refuse to walk on the floor for two weeks; she’d done that before. No, better to deal with it now.
It had almost gotten away though, hiding itself between the bricks of the Duplo house his five-year-old daughter had built the previous afternoon, then almost under the rug too, but his newspaper had done the trick.
He looked down at the mess he’d left.
“I’ll clean it up in the morning,” he said, before putting the newspaper under his arm, pouring himself a drink from the kitchen and heading back to bed.
As he flicked the light switch Charlotte’s remains were once more thrown into darkness.
“What was that noise?” Gordons wife asked sleepily.
“Just a spider,” he replied, “Goodnight.”
Gareth Rees is an aspiring writer who enjoys specifically writing horror. He has written a number of short stories and is currently in the process of seeking representation for a novel he has written.
I returned from the dentist, skull completely numb from some weird novocaine reaction.
A bath sounded perfect.
I wedged my inflatable pillow between the taps, lit some candles, and sprinkled in some Radox.
Five minutes later… Frank needed a dump.
I sank underwater. I wasn’t listening to him grunt one out.
He went to wash his hands, started ripping clumps of hair out of the sink, then stopped. He stared at me, white-faced before dropping to his knees. He couldn’t lift my head. The drain acted like a vacuum
He pulled harder. Tore me away. Blood spurted from the sink.
Wayne Fenlon resides in Danderhall with his partner Liz, and their kids, Joe and Katie. He is the author of drabble collection: Scattered Little Pieces. If he’s not writing, he’s either reading or creating little animations for book covers.
“Wake up, Liam, it’s the eleventh of April.” The big day my mother had talked about for weeks.
Wind blustered as she led me along the pier. High on the hill the huge cathedral spire rose into the mist where my friend Jesus lives.
I shivered in the queue. “Why is it called Queenstown?”
“The Queen came here. But there’s no Queen where we’re going.”
We boarded the small boat for the trip out to where our ship was waiting. Mother held me tight. I looked up at the mighty bow where a name slid into view. T – I –
Mike Rader is a pseudonym used by Australian author and poet James Aitchison. As J J Munro and Mike Rader, Aitchison writes horror and noir crime. As James Lee, he writes Asia’s biggest selling horror series for middle readers — Mr Midnight — which has sold over three million copies. His work can be seen at www.flameoftheforest.com
Death won’t keep us apart.
Your body hasn’t left me.
What was the point in all those hours of taxidermy, if not to keep you whole, here with me?
Rodents wearing hats is one thing but allowing our love to continue must have been the real purpose.
I couldn’t bury you, burn you.
You must remain with me.
I lovingly remove your organs.
Tenderly drain your fluid.
Attentively embalm you, sew you back up.
Paint your ruined face.
Now you are perfect again.
Just because I ended you, doesn’t mean I can’t keep you.
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Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her longer work includes the folk horror novels, The Five Turns of the Wheel and Reborn, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused. Her novel, The Woodcutter, is due for release via Brigids Gate Press in 2023. Her dark poetry has been published in her collections Lilith Rising (co-authored with Shane Douglas Keene), Foundlings (co-authored with Cindy O’Quinn) and Metallurgy, as well as the HWA Poetry Showcase Volumes VI, VII, VIII, and IX and Black Spot Books Under Her Skin. She can be found supporting indie authors at HorrorTree.com via the weekly Indie Bookshelf Releases. She is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org, on Twitter at @el_stevie, Instagram stephanieellis7963 and also somewhere on Facebook.