Trembling With Fear 03/21/21

Time is moving at a very bizarre pace. On the one hand, it’s crawling as we wait to finish the house move – and it could still fall apart – and wait for covid jabs. On the other hand, it’s March already! Another week and we’ll be changing our clocks and our evenings will be getting lighter. Finally got my rejection for something I’d been waiting for almost 9 months for, ugh but I’ve put that behind me. My focus now is on that Crystal Lake Classic Monsters Unleashed anthology as I write my submission. Competition is going to be huge, I’ve done a couple of similar sub calls now and discovered there’ve been 900+, 1000+ subs but I still try. I hope you’re all giving these calls a go and not letting such numbers deter you too much, you never know …

To submit to TWF, please check out the submission guidelines here.

First story this week is Trembling with Fear is Mouse Ad Astra by Avra Margariti. A strangely lovely tale of impending disaster created from a child’s perspective. The small things important to a child add to a sense of sadness that such things should be.

Motel 40 by Zachary Hennis weaves a background tv commercial in with an event happening within that advertised motel. Very effective and original.

One of the Locals by F.M. Scott is a story told via an interview, complete with some scene description. A nice change of format.

Sudden Storm by Toshiya Kamei takes you to a forbidden place, another mythology. Seems the gods wherever you find them are jealous.

Enjoy the stories and send us yours!



Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Fun updates! Back cover details for Trembling With Fear’s upcoming anthologies have been written and we’re gearing up to move another step closer to the release. Huzzah! We’re that much closer to covers and formatting being finalized which really puts us on track for a MUCH EARLIER release this year!
As to Horror Tree, I’ve STARTED (very early stage) playing around with a new layout idea. We’re still at least 2-3 weeks away from letting the staff tear it apart and likely a month or more before our Patreons get the first sneak preview.
I hope that you’ve all got a great weekend going on and a fantastic week ahead of you!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Mouse Ad Astra by Avra Margariti

Mouse has decided: he will let his town and everyone in it be destroyed except for the members of his Junior Astronomers Society.

“What makes you think the world is ending?” Caroline asks, popping her pink bubblegum with her pinker tongue.

She looks through the eye of her telescope, angled toward the conservatory’s roof. The rest of the kids crowd around her, waiting for their turn.

“Nope,” someone says. “No comet, asteroid, or meteorite. Can’t see a thing.”

Mouse isn’t bothered by their doubt. He knows without knowing how that there’s a meteorite headed toward Earth–specifically, toward his hometown. He could change its course if he focuses long enough, except he doesn’t want to.

Mrs. Bailey, their club supervisor, releases a particularly loud snore from her desk chair at the far end of the room.

“Shouldn’t NASA know about these things?” Caroline continues, adding a second bubblegum into her mouth. “They have better telescopes than we do. Bigger, too.” 

Kristoff sighs dreamily and says in his lisping voice, “My dad’s getting me my own telescope for my birthday.”

Oh, Mouse thinks numbly, but Kristoff’s dad won’t get to see his son’s tenth birthday.

“Don’t worry, Kristoff,” Mouse says, holding the smaller kid’s sweaty hand between his own dry palms. “I’ve saved a spot for you in my escape ship. For all of you, actually.”

“Where is it then?” Caroline asks, looking up from her well-used almanac.

“Don’t worry,” Mouse says again as he draws himself tall. “It’ll be here when we need it.”


At home, Mouse leaves his backpack and shoes by the door and pads into the kitchen wearing only his socks, since Mom is worried about germs again.

He takes his usual seat and looks down at the cold celery soup waiting for him, the leafy bits floating inside like a frown. Mom hasn’t used the stove in months and months. Or the oven. Or anything other than the microwave, really.

“Why is my nickname Mouse?” he asks as he swallows spoonful after spoonful without tasting a thing.

Mom sighs, her hands twisting through her unwashed hair, gleaming with oil.

“Because, Brandon,” she says tiredly, “you used to be afraid of every little thing.”

You mean like you are now? Mouse thinks.

Still, he has to try. “There’s a meteorite hitting Earth, and soon. We could–”

“Are you trying to make me never leave the house again?” Mom shrieks.

Mouse takes his half-full bowl to the sink, wipes his hands, and heads into his bedroom.

She’s too tall for his escape ship anyway.

Mouse closes the shutters and draws the curtains tight. Lying in bed, he stares at the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling.

If he closes his eyes, the phosphorescent green shine remains. He can trace the meteorite’s flaming trajectory against the back of his eyelids. The meteorite is similar to the one that killed the dinosaurs. Mouse didn’t care much about Junior Paleontologists Society. Not like he cares about Caroline, Kristoff, and the others.

Mouse knows without knowing how that there’s a star for them out there. It has hot tomato soup with crackers, as much pink bubblegum as they can chew, and the best thing is, they won’t even need a telescope.

Not when the entire universe will be laid out at their feet. Clear and bright and unafraid.

Avra Margariti

Avra Margariti is a queer Social Work undergrad from Greece. She enjoys storytelling in all its forms and writes about diverse identities and experiences. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in VastarienAsimov’s, Liminality, Arsenikaand other venues. You can find her on twitter @avramargariti.

Motel 40

A modulated voice narrates through Frank and Dolly’s Crosley Larkswood.

-At Motel 40, we’re serious about family fun and value-

“Hey Dolls, you’ll never guess what the papers are saying about them murders down at the lodge,” Frank shouts from his recliner.

-Relax in comfort…-

“They found people suffocated with pillows.”

-…swimming at the indoor pool-

“3 people drowned.”

-We guarantee a warm welcome…-

“A gal was stuffed in an oven.”

-Rooms are full size, comfortable, and clean-

“They found innards strung-gghh…”

Dolly leers down at the meat cleaver in Frank’s spouting neck.

-Book your next stay at Motel 40-

Zachary Hennis

Zachary Hennis lives in Columbus, Ohio. He achieved his B.A. from Ohio State University and his M.S. from Kansas State University. Actively on Twitter @SpectreDrabbles

One of the Locals

“It kinda hovered like a shadow, then it shot right over and dropped itself on that bench there.  That night they found a fourteen-year-old kid in the field behind the church. Coroner cut the boy open. No organs, no blood, no nothin’. Skin and bones, that’s all.”

“You think the thing wasn’t human?”

“No way, nope.”

“Sure about that?”

“Yep. Thing just disappeared.” (Pauses) “Fourteen years ago today, in fact.”

“How I remember.”

“You do?”

(Sigh.) “Let’s end this interview. I need action, fun stuff. Like anyone who’ll always be fourteen.” (Turns whitish-gray, rises, and shoots off toward some rooftops.)

F.M. Scott

F.M. Scott is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lives and writes.  His stories have appeared in The Horror Tree,  The Killer Collection Anthology (published by Nick Botic Horror), Sirius Science Fiction, The Tulsa Voice, and The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine.

He can be found online at  Facebook and Twitter: @fmscottauthor.  Instagram: fmscottauthor.

Sudden Storm

Xiaolin knew they shouldn’t be here, but she held out the conch shell so the others could see. The slow-moving current caressed her feet as the sun glared through the afternoon air in the gorge.

The other women splashed through the water to congratulate her.

A chilly breeze suddenly hit her face. Sunlight gave way to darkness. Thunder boomed overhead and bolts of lightning zigzagged across the sky. The women stepped from the river and scrambled for shelter under canopies of shrubs. When the sun peeked out once again, the women gasped, doubting their eyes. Xiaolin had turned to stone.

Toshiya Kamei

Toshiya Kamei’s short fiction has appeared in Collective RealmsNew World Writing, and Utopia Science Fiction, among others.

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