Trembling With Fear 04/10/2022
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!
This last week has been very up and down for me in the light of recent events. I know some might expect me to refer to the incident so I will – but briefly and I will not go into the trigger for all this; that information is available elsewhere. After the closure of Silver Shamrock Publishing, I am currently in the process of re-homing my books and I do have a place for them and hope to announce soon. And one thing I have learned is that communication between authors and publisher is key. Silence can only undermine trust.
The other thing I will say publicly is that I acknowledge and thank Ken McKinley at SSP, together with Kenneth Cain and Kealan Burke for all the support I have received from them and for giving me the break into the book world. For a publishing company to end this way is heart-breaking and I wish everybody involved from fellow authors to Ken McKinley my best wishes for the future. And thank you, thank you, to everyone who messaged me to check in, offer support and make suggestions.
And to finish on a very positive note, there was nothing but support for the authors affected by the closure. Resources were compiled and made available for us to find publishers. Publishers contacted authors, as did readers and other authors. Everyone got involved to help our suddenly homeless books. This was the side of the community I loved to see. With that in mind, Horror Tree will be creating an Indie Bookshelf Special in a few months on which I hope to include books which have been rehomed, news of works in progress, publishers’ spotlights for all those who stepped up and special mentions for the individuals who took specific practical steps to help us. I’ve got a certain amount of information already but if anyone would care to nominate someone who has been active in this manner, drop me a line and they’ll be included.
Our first story in Trembling With Fear is Programmed by Katherine Kerestman. This takes a chilling look at the reliance of the human race on the information – true or not – coming from the internet. Technology is harnessed to, in theory, make life easier for us. But does it? This is such a horribly plausible concept and a very clever way to make us stop and think before it’s too late. Another clever touch is the use of the characters’ first names – when you take that onboard it takes the story to a whole new different level.
Neighborhood Watch by Steve Patchett plays with viewpoints, not through voice but direction of gaze. Who exactly is the voyeur? Who is dead? A piece to make you think as you play the scene back and forth. A story told through the senses.
Petals Don’t Lie by Pauline Yates carries the intention of malice, plants a scenario in your head which you won’t resolve until the last line.
The Woodchopper of Doorn by J J Munro is written against the backdrop of a Europe at war and its consequences. I enjoyed this as it sent me off to google Monro’s references and I found this little video of Kaiser Wilhelm II and his woodchopping activities here.
I hope you enjoyed our stories, now send us yours!
As mentioned above, Silver Shamrock Publishing is no more. If you were an author who was negatively impacted by this and don’t use Twitter or have been avoiding social media since it happened. We’ve compiled a brief list of some of the resources being made available to you to find a new home for your work. I’m sorry that you have to go through this. If you’re active on social media, I’m sure that you’ve seen all of these already.
Steph didn’t mention it above but we’re in the next phase of compiling the yearly ‘Trembling With Fear’ releases! Progress is made and things are looking good. I’m also working with our newsletter guru Holley Cornetto on a few of our other side projects and have been toying around with a completely different direction for our website’s theme change. We’ll see how that goes. I’m still trying to figure out how to budget changing our newsletter provider back to Mailchimp.
Last reminder: if you’re a fantasy or science fiction lover who is also obsessed with wrestling, please reach out to me directly on our contact form or social media.
Programmed by Katherine Kerestman
“Oh, do you think it will hurt the poor baby?”
“Not at all. They’ll use anesthesia.”
“But cutting into the skull and everything . . .”
“Think of the freedom from wearing straps about one’s head. Reality will be implanted in the individual now, rendering external apparatus obsolete.”
“Yes, dear. Our child will not need to wear a monitor before his face any more, as we have done. He’ll have reality in his brain.”
“Well, he’ll be a lucky one. Yet, what would we have done if we’d had to look at the world without the benefit of a monitor before our faces. What if we’d had to make sense of everything by ourselves – there would be chaos!”
“Enola, just get down on your knees and give thanks for the Internet. I remember how it all began – first, clunky labor-saving computing machines, and then smaller ones, used primarily for typing better, and then when they came up with games! Oh ho! and then social media! That’s when people saw the light!”
“Yes, George, there was no putting them down – especially when they were small enough to be carried in people’s hands – people no longer were forced to look at the physical world – or other people, for that matter. They walked around holding their phones in front of them, looking at the world in the pictures they carried instead of looking around them.”
“Glory be, Enola! People had found the Truth – Big Brother spoke to them always, from the palms of their hands. Big Brother told them what was true and what was false. What the weather would be the next five days, and what was going on in China and in Chile and the Kardashian household. People could stop reading books and newspapers. They could stop asking their neighbors and teachers to explain things to them – Big Brother speaking to them from the palms of their hands was all they needed.”
“George, don’t forget the shopping and the games! People soon became addicted. They could not put their phones down, and every move they made was directed by the Truths told them by Big Brother.”
“People stopped reading books, chapters, pages – and they telegraphed their thoughts in Twitter feeds – so their thoughts grew smaller, and they didn’t need very many of them at all anymore. The eradication of individual thought is one of the greatest benefits of the Internet. A lot of people preferred sex on their phones to physical relations with other people — and talking to heads of people in their palms to talking with full-grown people in their bodies. People stopped needing people at all after a time, when they perfected virtual reality.”
“Everything they needed was delivered – they didn’t need to leave their homes, which was good, because they kept tripping when they walked with their phones in front of their eyes. This has been a problem with the monitors affixed in front of our faces even now, strapped around our heads. The collision warning systems have not been quite adequate to prevent people from missing their steps and falling in front of traffic or running into each other on occasion.”
“The next generation will be fortunate to have Reality implanted in their brains, Enola – they will have a clear visual field, and Big Brother in their brains will tell them what they see and what it means. No one will ever have to figure anything out again, decide for themselves what is right and wrong and what to do after work, or how many kids to have. Big Brother will tell them about Reality, and they won’t ever have to see and hear and learn things for themselves. And they won’t even have to walk around with a monitor before their eyes – aren’t they the lucky ones?”
“Oh, George, it will be a brave new world indeed – Truth and Reality no longer debated, everyone receiving the same digital Revelation. No more arguments, wars, or literary criticism – everyone will be programmed with the same ideas. No more competitions, original ideas challenging old beliefs – there is only one Truth, and everyone will know it.”
“Enola, I wonder what we will do or think or feel next?”
“George, we’ve recharged our circuits and our thoughts should have been downloaded by now. I’m feeling affectionate – please bump your face monitor against mine. That was nice.”
“I wonder how people managed before computers told them what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and with whom to do it?”
“Ditto. And what to think and feel – how do you think they ever figured out what to think and feel on their own?”
“Enola, let’s not go there. We know we have the truth about Reality now. Let’s play Catch the Peppermints.”
“And then, let’s buy that voice-activated computer that turns things on and off, so we don’t have to push buttons and flip switches any more. They’re the latest thing.”
Katherine Kerestman is the author of Creepy Cat’s Macabre Travels: Prowling around Haunted Towers, Crumbling Castles, and Ghoulish Graveyards (WordCrafts Press, 2020), a non-fiction travel memoir to destinations associated with macabre stories in history, literature, and film, as well as numerous short stories and horror non-fiction in anthologies and journals. She has a B.A. from John Carroll University, and an M.A. from Case Western Reserve University; and she is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Mensa, the Horror Writers Association and the Dracula Society. She loves Dark Shadows and Twin Peaks, and is known to frolic in the graveyards of Salem on Halloween. You can keep up with her at www.creepycatlair.com
The woman who lives across from us is not well. We’ve caught glimpses of her, standing in the light of her front room. Is she eating enough, is she on medication? Who will look after her cats, once she’s dead?
I want to ask what you think, but I daren’t break the glorious silence. I hesitate to touch your pale, cool skin. You ignore me and stare across the street at her, mesmerised.
Yesterday, she’d stared back, a frown on her decaying face, squinting into binoculars to see through the darkness into the empty front room.
That time, we hid.
Steven Patchett is an Engineer, Father and Writer in the North East of England. His works have been published in Ellipsis Zine, Lunate Fiction and Bear Creek Gazette. He can be found on Twitter, being encouraging. @StevenPatchett7
Petals Don’t Lie
I slide the knife from beneath the pillow and snick each petal from my lover’s rose. They fall upon his naked body, gentle caresses too soft to make him stir.
He loves me.
He loves me not.
He loves me.
He loves me not.
The last petal quivers beneath the blade: he loves me.
Leaving it on the stem, I hide the knife under the pillow, snuggle against his body and sneak a midnight kiss. I’m pleased he told the truth when he said we were destined to meet. There’s no room left in my freezer to hide another liar.
Pauline Yates has stories published with Metaphorosis, Redwood Press, Black Hare Press plus others, and her story ‘The Best Medicine’, featured in Midnight Echo #16, was translated for the Mondi Incantati series, published by Riflessi di Luce Lunare (RiLL), Italy. She enjoys finding the light in the dark, but sometimes she can’t. And sometimes, she doesn’t want to.
The Woodchopper of Doorn
Forty million ghosts. Every night they came. Howling his name. Across the fields, streaking his vision with blood.
Is that why the old man cut down forty thousand trees? Because he wanted open lines of sight around his new palace?
The Dutch tolerated him, this old grandson of a British queen. Cavalry charges rattled his mind. Massive guns boomed, gas clouds in the trenches fogged his senses. And now, amongst all the madness, worst of all, that corporal in Berlin who refused to restore his monarchy!
Again he heard his name, Wilhelm, Wilhelm, until he surrendered to the slaughtered dead.
J J Munro
J J Munro 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
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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 is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on Blue Sky as stephellis.bsky.social.