Trembling With Fear 02/26/2017
‘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.
By: Alyson Faye
It’s not easy being the youngest. Becca was always being left out or left behind. It wasn’t fair.
She so wanted to be in. Especially with them. So when Jake and Joss had laughingly challenged everyone to the ‘hugest dare ever,’ Becca had been the first in the gang to leap up and accept. Now she was sorry. Sorry seven times over. Joss had nearly choked with amusement on her chewing gum, while Jake had smirked behind his usual fag.
‘OK Titch,’ he’d said shrugging. ‘You’re on.’
Then he had bent down and whispered into Becca’s ear. Her bones had melted and she’d had to hold onto her bladder.
‘Bastards!’ She thought, ‘you 100 per cent bastards!’
Two nights later Becca sneaked out of her family’s tiny terraced house, with its clutchy curtains, and began hiking out of town along the main road towards the destination of the ‘dare’.
‘We ‘ll know if you bottle it Titch.’ Jake had warned her, waving his lighted ciggy close to her face.
She’d spotted him spying on her from his bedroom window when she’d strolled past his foster parent’s house. Keeping his beady on her. So to show him, she’d waved carelessly. He’d laughed and given her the finger.
Ten minutes later Becca faced up to the old Adelphi; a once regal hotel, now derelict. Its state of decay didn’t stop the local kids, druggies and the homeless creeping inside its rotten shell. Looking up Becca felt dwarfed. It had been such a grand old behemoth. She noticed the pair of stone lions still roosting on either side of what had been the main entrance.
‘Bollocks.’ She thought.
‘Don’t forget Titch, you gotta go right inside. All the way down to the basement, take a photo and send it me.’ Jake had instructed, smiling all the time. As if he was her mate.
Becca knew how to get in; knew exactly where to lift the broken hoardings and slide through, leaving only a little bit of skin behind.
Once infiltrated in the Adelphi’s innards, Becca found her way to the grand ballroom. Fifty years ago, with its marble floor and wall to wall mirrors, it had been the most glamorous venue in town. Now all Becca saw was a rubble strewn, filthy, echoey space.
Her phone bleeped. It was Joss, ‘U there yet girl?’
Becca frowned but obediently texted back, ‘Yeah. In ballroom. Stinks in here.’
Joss sent an emoji of a smiley face, ‘Watch out 4 dead bodies.’
‘Cow,’ muttered Becca with great force. But she didn’t text the thought back. She didn’t have the nerve.
In the shattered spiders webs’ of broken mirrors, Becca caught a glimpse of movement. Just a brief flicker. Heading for the door. She swung around.
‘Who’s there?’ The glass shards crunched under her trainers.
She walked back into the foyer where a trapped sparrow was frantically beating its wings against the ceiling’s fabulous plasterwork. The door leading to the basement was swinging slightly on its hinges. Just as if someone had passed that way. Becca gulped. Sweat was already breaking though under her armpits. Knowing she had to go through that same door didn’t help either.
Reluctantly Becca pushed at the green baize and holding her breath because of the smell, she inched her way down the stairs. Past signs which read ‘Kitchen’ and ‘Laundry.’ Down, down several flights until the ‘Basement’ sign greeted her.
‘OK. Let’s do this,’ she tried to encourage herself. The carpet was mushy with mould. Some of the spores stuck to her trainers. The walls were splattered with green mouldy patches rather like a Pollock painting gone to seed.
Worst of all though Becca could feel an energy down here; a thrumming. It made her skin itch and the hairs on her arms lift up. Pushing open another swing door, she found herself staring at a room filled with floor to ceiling racks once used for storage. At last she’d got here. The basement. The bowel of the beast.
She could hear the skittering feet of rats. The air smelt of a blend of wood, damp and something metallic, which caught at the back of her throat.
‘Just rats that’s all girl. Chill.’ She tried to breathe steadily, calming herself. But her heart banged away at a quicker rhythm.
She knew if she didn’t get this pic, she’d be out, ostracised, tormented, hounded. Right now though Becca thought perhaps she could cope with that. Maybe being ‘in’ wasn’t so big a deal.
Facing the racks Becca held up her iPhone at face height and took the shot. In the momentary flash she glimpsed a figure hanging from one of the top racks, its feet jerking, doing the death dance. She saw legions of dark things scuttling around on the ground feeding. She spied a stain creeping out from under the racks, dark and viscous. The air buzzed and hummed; she tasted iron in her mouth.
Becca turned and raced for the stairs. Heart thumping, bile in her throat, sweat pouring down her body. She had only one thought, to get up and out. What if they followed her? What if? She slipped on the mouldy carpet, fell face down and tasted the dirt. She heaved herself up. In her haste to escape, she ripped her hand on the barbed wire fence. She’d have to go to A&E with that the next day she knew. It looked deep it. Damn it!
Only when she was back on her own street, did she pause and take out her iPhone to check the image again. Surrounded by her neighbours’ bins, gardens and under the street lamps she now felt calmer.
The image she’d clicked and sent onto to Joss and Jake showed only a cellar filled with tall wooden racks, stretching back into darkness. There was no hanging man, no scuttling insects, no pool of …fluid. Except when she peered closely at the top right corner of the screen there was a black spot there, a bit like a fly. Or a spore. Or something anyway.
Hearing a noise behind her Becca jerked around. No one was there. Except she couldn’t help but think she’d just missed seeing something scuttle away, out of sight behind No 33’s recycling bins. A rat, that’s all it’ll be, she told herself. Lots of rats round here. Armies of them.
Letting herself in quietly at the back door Becca made her plans. First up a shower. She felt disgusting. Those mould spores had got everywhere. Tomorrow she’d go to A&E, after that she’d tell Josh and Jake to count her out. Scary as those two made themselves out to be they weren’t half as creepy as what had happened in the Adelphi.
‘Sorted then,’ she muttered. ‘I’m all sorted.’
Rubbing her arms, she headed for the bathroom. ‘Jesus though I don’t half itch.’
Outside her bedroom window a black shape gripped the drainpipe and slithered up inside the tubing. Sucking in the damp and moist debris, drawn by Becca’s scent. It had followed her trail of skin fragments, blood and sweat. It had been alone a long time, but now it had a new home.
Alyson trained originally in the UK as a teacher/tutor. She wrote a couple of children’s books which were published by Collins and Ginn. Now she lives near Bronte terrain in Yorkshire with her teen son, partner and 3 rescue cats. She writes noir Flash Fiction (some of which is published on line) spooky longer tales and is working on a crime novella. She enjoys old movies, singing, and swimming. She is a confirmed chocoholic and is still hopeless at maths. Her blog is at http://www.alysonfayewordpress.wordpress.com.
The Paper Clip
By: Mathias Jansson
Do you remember Commodore 64? Perhaps you also remember that you could use a paperclip on one of the ports on the backside to reset a game?
My friend I must warn you. Never try that trick on Friday the 13th at midnight as I did. I was playing a new text adventure called Inferno when the game froze and I tried to reset it with a paper clip. Suddenly an electric flash hit my hand. When i woke up it was dark and when I screamed for help a voice constantly was repeating: “I don’t understand that command.”
Mathias Jansson is a Swedish art critic and horror poet. He has been published in magazines as The Horror Zine, Dark Eclipse, Schlock and The Sirens Call. He has also contributed to over 100 different horror anthologies from publishers as Horrified Press, James Ward Kirk Fiction, Source Point Press, Thirteen Press etc.
Amazon author page
By: Robert Allen Lupton
Carl slipped on a loose pile of gold coins and woke the dragon. It opened both eyes, spotted Carl, and knocked him over with one paw like a cat playing with a mouse. It tore open his backpack with a razor sharp talon and raised its eyebrows at the gold and jewels that tumbled out.
“I can explain. I’m sorry, I won’t ever steal from you again.”
A wisp of smoke curled from the dragon’s nostrils before it expelled a flash of fire and burned Carl to a crisp. “I know you won’t,” it said and went back to sleep.
The Monster from Moorsville
By: Erik Bergstrom
The smell inside the old barn was always the first thing they noticed. Old and rotted
and wet, it was almost a sweet smell.
Especially the newspapers—stacks of them on the floor, all forty, fifty years old or older. There’s one story Polly showed Nell from 1965, talking about the “Monster from Moorsville”, a name given to the man who stole kids from nearby farms and never got caught.
Nell was still reading the final paragraph when she and Polly first heard the footsteps and saw a large, dark shadow break away from the back wall of the barn.
Erik Bergstrom spends his days crafting and editing digital content for automotive marketers, and his nights releasing steam by writing gloomy fiction. His other interests include movie clubs and attending local pro wrestling shows. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and too many pets.