‘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.Stuart Conover
The cream-colored ceiling greeted me when I woke up. The silence in my apartment complex was surprising, especially at this hour. I turned to my nightstand, and my small, red alarm clock blinked 8:20. I had work at 9:30 and the alarm had gone off, however, instead of the obnoxious blaring it was faint beeping noises. Swinging my short legs over the side of the bed, it didn’t creak like usual. The hardwood floors felt warm despite it being December.
I bumped the bathroom door open with my bum and again, no creak. Meeting my own face in the mirror, I was confused. I squeezed my cheeks, lifted my eyelids, pushed my long, curly, black hair behind my ears for it to fall front again. For some reason, I couldn’t recognize myself. I see that it’s me but my skin looks gray and shallow. Blue lines of veins wiggle across my cheeks and forehead. The contrast of my dark hair to this zombified version of myself was chilling. I rushed the wet toothbrush across my teeth, scrubbed the minty foam along my tongue and spat. I didn’t look back in the mirror.
I opened drawers in search for warm clothing, and every wooden knob I pulled did not make a sound. I shot a look over at the clock, 8:20. My heart leaped and released a pump of blood that made my fingers and toes tingle. My toes. I wiggled them, they prickled with pain and warmed as I pressed them firmly into the ground.
Is the clock broken?
I moved the white curtains, and bright light seeped through the blinds behind them. The cars in the street were parked and abandoned. All set in their lanes as if rushing through morning traffic, just still. The sky was grey, like my skin, not a cloud in sight. Was it just one big cloud? I pressed my hand to the glass, and they stung with painful pinpoints like my toes did. It felt heated as if it were a summer afternoon. But clearly, there was snow on the ground.
I pile on my black jeans, wool sweaters, and leather boots. The echoes of the thick heels on my shoes were just silence in the stairwell.
I stopped and dug my pinky finger into my ear.
Am I going deaf?
I heard the alarm clock, didn’t I?
My fingernail had a thin layer of honey-colored wax on it. I stomped heavily as I ran to the bottom step but no noise emitted. My chest felt hot and my fingers prickled again. I pushed through the door to the outside and flashed my card at the reader.
I stared at the green bulb of the scanner and flashed my card again.
Beep, and it turned red. Why am I only hearing these strange beeping noises?
My curls bounced in the corner of my eye. It was warm out, and the tight layers were making me lightheaded. I brought my hand to my armpit, and it felt warm but not moist. I’m not sweating, but I feel so hot.
Making my way down the sidewalk, the city was eerily silent, like the apartments.
The local coffee shop had a buzzing neon OPEN sign that flashed various patterns. I reached for the doorknob, and with every flash, a beep followed.
The tiny bell above the door did not ring.
It was dark on the inside with the grey light illuminating whatever was near the windows. The counter was darkest, momentarily being lit by the red and blue of the neon sign.
Muffled voices came from the door behind the counter.
I dashed for the door and jiggled the handle, but it was locked. I kicked the door with my boot, and it sent tingles up my leg. The voices were getting louder.
I tried the handle again, and it wouldn’t budge. Punching the door, I tried to scream. My throat was warm and scratchy, but nothing came out. Bright light poured in from the bottom and side cracks in the door.
The voices were so loud it was like they were in my head. It was so overwhelming, I fell down onto my back.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
“Clear,” A loud voice said.
The air was squeezed from my lungs and the heat returned to my chest.
The brightness turned to the faces of people in masks and blue gowns. Some of them clapped, and I heard it.
My breathing was heavy. I tried to speak, but my throat was sore and scratchy again.
“She’s stable,” A masked man said, followed by a high-pitched beep, beep, beep.
Chanelle Pina is a Creative Writing for Entertainment student at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. Chanelle has previously attended the Art Institute of Tampa for Computer Animation. This quiet soul enjoys watercolor painting and charcoal drawing. She is a horror enthusiast and avid self-help reader and, of course, a caffeine addict. Chanelle has been published in the Polk County Poetry Anthology in 2010 and Down In The Dirt magazine in 2016. She has been an honor roll student for most of her schooling, going to art school from middle school through college, and continues to progress. She is striving to become an editor and writer for popular genre magazines and websites. You can read her writings on her blog at chanelleartista.wordpress.com
Starting Over… In Style
“Something old,” she mused, looking down at James. He was certainly old, forty years her senior. He lay quietly, hands clasped together.
“Something new,” she said, smiling at the five-carat diamond ring James had given her last night. It sparkled even with the curtains drawn.
“Something borrowed,” she continued, glancing fondly at the last of her luggage. She’d packed all the jewelry and money she could find.
“Cassie, are you ready?” David— until yesterday just the sexy pool-boy—picked up the last suitcase.
She nodded, looking back. “Something blue,” and yes, within the plastic bag, James’ face was definitely blue.
Rose Blackthorn is a writer, dog-mom, and photographer who lives in the high-mountain desert, but longs for the sea. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared online and in print with a varied list of anthologies and magazines. Her poetry collection Thorns, Hearts and Thistles was published in February 2015, and the novelette Called to Battle: Worthy Vessel was published in October 2015.
I’m missing my wife already. She was beautiful. Perfect.
Those diamond eyes that could kiss you with a stare and those luscious lips that could give you the real thing; her tickling fingers and her tiny toes; that adorable nose; her cute little ears, which she’d wiggle to make me laugh; those warm arms that would hold me in the day and those long, lovely legs that she’d wrap around my waist at night.
There wasn’t a single part of her that I didn’t cherish.
I admire each for one last time before I toss them into a garbage bag.
Patrick Winters is a recent graduate of Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL, where he earned a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. He has been published in the likes of Sanitarium Magazine, The Sirens Call, Trysts of Fate, and other such titles.
You can find out more about Patrick on his homepage.
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