Trembling With Fear 02/20/2022
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!
Something that we regard as critical when submitting to TWF, is that writers follow our submissions guidelines. Regardless of whether you are sending TWF a flash submission, a story to an anthology or sending your novel to a publisher, in all cases your chances of acceptance are much greater if you adhere to the guidelines. If you follow these, believe me, you will be noticed and appreciated. So often I hear of stories dismissed out of hand because they have failed this particular hurdle! Don’t sabotage your chances by not checking these out before you press send!
The first story this week in Trembling With Fear is In the Dark for One More Day by Donna J.W. Monro is a dark story about fear of shadows and what may lurk within them. And when safety and support is offered, is it what it seems? A tense and creepy story most definitely!
Red, Red Wine by SJ Townend is a nice exercise in using a recognised setup with the twist adding the punch.
The Winner by Sara Corris allows guilt to destroy what should be a happy time with a particularly horrible touch of ghostly revenge.
To End all Wars by RJ Meldrum is a well-written little ghost story. The last line adds in the chill factor.
I hope you enjoyed our stories, now send us yours!
I’m not going to lie. I’m so out of sorts this week I almost updated this without updating my own section! It has been a crazy week with my family, work, my marketing class for the MBA program I’m in, TWF, HT, etc etc.
I need a vacation!
More progress has been made on the anthologies and I believe we have our cover art fully sorted at this point! YES!
Another, possibly last reminder that 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!) We are looking at other alternatives as well that may be cheaper.
In the Dark for One More Day by Donna J. W. Munro
Her breath came in thread sips while her heart stuttered around the lump of fear hardening in her throat. Lunch. She had to walk across the call floor, down the hall with the flickering lights, into the safety of the cafeteria. Magda hated feeling like this. The others laughed as they walked away, glad for a reprieve from cold-calling cranky consumers to offer two-year extended warranties for a nominal fee, PayPal and charge cards accepted! Magda wanted to relax with them during break too, but it wouldn’t be that way again.
Not since she’d found the shadow.
She glanced around, thankful for the lighting that drowned the shadow in silky shine. Her bosses wouldn’t let her eat in the cubicles over the computers. They watched, hands on hips and feet tapping as she shuffled papers, trying to calm her anxiety with more sipped breaths. Her co-workers didn’t know, but Magda had seen management spot-check the cubicles once they left for lunch. Sketchy, but she had nothing to hide. She worked efficiently in good lighting.
But that damned hallway with faulty bulbs. Fluttering electricity through white, flakey tubes. Pools of darkness.
“Clear the floor,” Mr. Bronson said, behind her.
“Yes, Mr. Bronson.” She fled down the tight row, trying not to look like a rabbit escaping a fox.
She gulped a breath and stepped into the hall’s funhouse light. If only she could close her eyes and not see the puddles of dark that stretched as she passed or the red sparks that lined up like eyes watching. The stretching fingers that brushed her ankles with a cold, velvet touch. It might have taken fifteen seconds to pass through the hallway into the well-lit break room, but that few seconds stretched into a nightmare.
“Sit, Magda,” Lacy, her cubical neighbor, called as Magda sagged against the doorframe. Lacy was talkative and slow on calls, but nice to Magda. She at least knew Magda existed among the mass of nobodies on the call room floor. “I have plenty.”
And she did. She had chips, veggies, and even an extra sandwich. So nice. But…her table created a dark spot on the white floor. The shadow lapped at Lacy’s pumps in undulating waves. Tendrils clutched Lacy’s calves and flirted with her pencil skirt’s hem. Under the tables, the shadows caressed crossed ankles and bouncing knees. How could she not feel the velvety dark lapping at her skin?
Magda couldn’t work here anymore. Today would be the last day. She didn’t eat. She just sat with Lacy, nodding and smiling with as much charm as gritted teeth allowed.
At lunch break’s end, the others filtered out. Magda packed in with them to move down the hall but kept her gaze up, not wanting to see tongues of shadow licking the legs of the crowd. She wanted to lean against the man in front of her and weep. Like cattle in chutes, they twisted blissfully toward their own slaughter. To make them see what she could see– wouldn’t that be cruel?
To know you were creatures in a pen. To know your life, work, family, and goals weren’t really yours. Only she understood.
They returned to the cubicles, put on headsets, hit the call buttons, and chattered objection overcoming banter. The bosses wandered, looking efficient. But Magda saw a herd being rounded up, tagged and counted. Her headset gripped her ears vice-like, and the voices inside sounded fake. Canned.
The voice asked how much for two years?
She knew what she needed to say to close the sale, make her bosses happy, make a bonus. It felt like a maze with cheese placed carefully to keep her running and never getting anywhere. She pushed the release button, sending the caller spiraling into computer-generated nothing. Breath ground against her soft throat. They had to hear her in the other cubicles. Whimpering. The tears sat inside her blinking eyes, fracturing the bright light.
“Don’t you feel well, Magda?” Lacy asked, peeking over the cubicle.
Magda shook her head, letting the tears come. Maybe Lacy could help.
Lacy called the boss over with a flirty wave of red tipped hands. “Just look at her, Mr. Bronson. She’s ill.”
“Not my problem what crazy Magda is feeling,” the brute in the suit said.
Magda wished it was him that would help her, but she knew he was too cold hearted to care. A sad jitter sliced through her resolve, but Lacy put a warm hand on her shoulder and said, “I’m taking her home, Mr. Bronson.” And it was decided.
Bronson sneered but dismissed them with a wave.
Lacy helped Magda gather her things, turning off the five lamps Magda kept burning at all times in her cubicle, even under her desk. She marched her with linked arms out of the office and into the subway.
“You don’t have to…”
“Nonsense,” Lacy said.
Magda found the seat closest to light, trying not to see the red eyes watching under the benches, from the rocking void between the cars, and from dark windows.
They got off and made their way toward Magda’s building. Hers was a squat brownstone, leaning against the street with an inky alley separating it from the next. Magda stopped seeing them as apartment buildings. Now they were chicken pens. Tiny spaces just big enough to keep animals alive until they ripened.
The mouth of the alley gaped with soupy shadows that swam across the brick. Magda shook as the shadows bunched there. Poor Lacy.
“I live there.” Magda pointed a shaking finger at the end of the alley.
Lacy smiled with such kindness. In a herd, the standouts are the ones picked off. Magda had been a standout–bright and competent. That’s when the shadows had struck her. They’d showed her what they were.
All she wanted was one more day.
That was their promise. One more day each time she complied.
Lacy stepped into the inky dark of the alley, and Magda followed. Lacy nattered as she walked, talking about customers and shoes — a bright conversation. Such a shame.
The shadows piled up into solid, stretched coal-dark things. Teeth white, eyes red. The air cooled as the breath of their world followed them. Lacy’s eyes grew wide, only seeing dark but knowing something else was there.
Then they were on her. Arms wrapped like ropes, stifling her screech and squeezing her throat. The shadow crawled up her legs, swallowing her like a snake. Lacy’s gaze landed on Magda, a silent plea. Save me, as clear as if she’d said it.
“One more day,” the shadow whispered.
Magda nodded and walked toward her apartment, relief flooding her. The shadows were no threat now. Not until tomorrow.
Donna J.W. Munro
Donna J. W. Munro’s pieces are published in Nothing’s Sacred Magazine IV and V, Corvid Queen, Hazard Yet Forward (2012), Enter the Apocalypse (2017), Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths II (2018), Terror Politico (2019), It Calls from the Forest (2020), Gray Sisters Vol 1(2020), Borderlands Vol 7 (2020), Pseudopod 752 (2021), and others. Check out her first novel, Revelation: Poppet Cycle Book 1. Contact her at https://www.donnajwmunro.com or @DonnaJWMunro on Twitter.
Red Red Wine
Bryan steps into the confession booth.
“Father forgive me, I’ve sinned.”
“What’ve you done?”
“Ungodly relations. My wife’s younger sister. And brother.”
“Thirty Hail Marys. Drink the blessed wine.”
A bony hand slides a chalice of red, warm liquid through the small hatch.
“Certainly Father. Thank you.”
Bryan necks the pungent drink and exits the booth, staggering. He sees Father chatting to an elderly woman at the far end of the church
“Father—who did I confess to?” he says, panicking.
“No idea,” Father replies.
Bryan falls, lips a-froth with warm red lace, eyes rolling, body convulsing. In seconds, dead.
SJ Townend has been writing
evil lies dark fiction in Bristol for three years. She’s currently putting together a collection of horror stories, working title: SICK GIRL SCREAMS. SJ hopes her stories take the reader on a journey to often a dark place and only sometimes back again.
He left her for me. She never got over it. And she blamed me–her suicide note made that very clear.
It was terrible. I felt so much guilt throughout the pregnancy, and more. Fear.
I saw her in my nightmares, looking happy. I dreamt of her face and not my baby’s.
I felt her there during the ultrasound appointments, watching. I felt her more than my baby.
But the birth went fine. They handed me a beautiful healthy baby, with a squiggly red birthmark on his left shoulder.
I don’t have a birthmark like that.
But she did.
Sara Corris resides in Brooklyn with a dog from London and a spouse from Buffalo. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming at Bending Genres, Defenestration, Horror Sleaze Trash, WryTimes, Funny-ish, Misery Tourism, and Fiction on the Web.
To End All Wars
I left the field hospital, finally done with my injury. It’d been serious; I’d been shredded by shrapnel, but now it was all over. I hopped on a transport to the docks, then onto a troopship back to Blighty. The war was over, and there was a lot of movement of men and supplies.
I took the train from Dover and headed home. I hadn’t seen it for four years. I walked into the village, to the green. I touched the smooth surface of the war memorial. I had come home to make sure, and there it was, my name.
RJ Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010. He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Smoking Pen Press and James Ward Kirk Fiction. He is an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.
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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, Reborn, and The Woodcutter, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused (all via Brigids Gate Press). 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 can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on Blue Sky as stephellis.bsky.social.