Trembling With Fear 04/17/2022
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!
Life is trundling on and I was buried in the final formatting of Horror Tree’s Year 5 Anthology and the More Tales from the Tree companion. Now that I have page counts for these, I can turn the cover into a full wrap and we can finally upload. I’m allowing myself a week from today to get my end of things over to Stuart – nothing like putting yourself under pressure is there?
On a personal note I’d like to wish my youngest, Rhonwen, happy 21st birthday for yesterday and also get well soon to my eldest, Bethan, who has gone down with covid, a gift from our recent Ghost gig I think. Surprisingly, my own test has shown negative! Despite this result for my daughter, the concert was well worthi it – our first live gig since lockdown and it was a brilliant show.
I’ve continued my set 3 hours of writing time for three weeks now and it’s yielding tangible results. Things are getting finished, projects are moving on! Not worrying about word counts and merely focussing on time has been incredibly freeing. However, with bills hitting the heights they are, I am horribly aware that my writing time and the time I can give to Horror Tree might be curtailed as I seek more active income so I need to complete as much as I can before this happens! I have managed one or two formatting jobs recently, so that might be the way I will go – it is something that allows me to balance to my day. As an escape from all this, obviously I read! So, over to Trembling With Fear!
Our first story is Medical Waste by Chelsea Roth. This is a medical horror based on fact and then twisted, if you google teratoma, you will certainly be presented with some rather off-putting pictures. In this story, the horror of such a tumour is melded with the disturbances of the mind which can lead to only one grotesque – but strangely logical – conclusion.
Banshee Karaoke by Hillary Lyon has a great punchline and is a drabble where the title adds an extra layer to the story.
Notes from a Funeral by Kevin McHugh completely redirects his story with a simple whispered ‘what if’. This nuance adds so much and brings the reader’s imagination into play.
The Skull by Mike Rader is a clever shape poem which makes me want to try something similar!
I hope you enjoyed our stories, now send us yours!
At the time of writing this, we haven’t changed newsletter providers, though I think I’ve got one I can fit into the budget. I’ll be back to working for free on the site but the fact that so many of you aren’t getting emails at the moment will make fixing this problem worth it. (So, hey, if you ever want to sponsor the newsletter with a book ad, do reach out!) 😉
We have one of the two anthologies formatted and ready to go and are now proofing the second. I think we’re going to be good to go for launching quite soon! There is a lot in the works at the moment and I’ll hopefully be sharing some of that with you soon!
I hope you had a great weekend.
Medical Waste by Chelsea Roth
Angela ripped up her latest draft in exasperation. She couldn’t concentrate and nothing was turning out right. At this rate, there was no way she could make her deadline. It didn’t help that her stay in the hospital had eaten up a week and her jerk of a professor refused to give her any flex time. ‘You will receive the same amount of time as your colleagues, Miss Stanton.’ She sincerely hoped that his employers returned the same compassion if he had to ever go under the knife like she had.
Absent-mindedly, Angela began to scratch at her stitches as she struggled to restructure her thesis. She fought the urge to not look up, but the thought itched so fervently in her mind that she couldn’t resist. She glanced up at the top shelf on her desk. It bothered her to leave it out, but it also felt wrong just to stash it away in some dark dusty closet. Half-formed bones, gelatinous organs, pieces of hair and one pea-sized eyeball. Her teratome.
The pain had started over a month ago. Horrible, spasming pain in her abdomen. It had gotten so bad she had finally broken down and made an appointment at her doctor’s office, much to her abject reluctance. After some unpleasant probing, her doctor had told her that she had developed a teratoma. Apparently, an egg had decided to create a baby without help from sperm. A grab bag of biological material culminating in a monstrosity.
Monstrosity or not, Angela couldn’t bear not to keep it. A lost hair, a removed scab or fingernail. Ever since she had been very young, it had driven Angela mad to leave any detritus of her body behind. She could never justify it to herself, but somehow it felt wrong to leave a once growing part of herself behind. Of course, the teratome would be no exception. Before the surgery, Angela had paid a nurse to keep it from being dumped in the medical-waste bin. In secret, it had been presented to her in a jar of odd fluid.
Angela smacked at her face with the palms of her hands. She needed to focus on her paper. The surgery was over and done with. The object of her past agony was now nothing more than a macabre ornament. She had just settled back in when she heard a noise. It was very faint, but she noticed it nonetheless. She checked behind her. Nobody had crept into the room while she had been distracted. She was alone. Just as she was about to dismiss it, the noise began again. It had grown steadily louder. It almost sounded as if someone very young were crying. It was coming from right above her.
Shaking now, Angela glanced up at her teratoma. This time, the sound was unmistakable. A baby’s cry. It was coming from the jar. Standing up so suddenly that her chair flew backwards, Angela began to scream. The aberration in the jar cried even louder still. Each cry felt as if a knife were being plunged into her heart. Tentatively, she crept closer to the jar before lifting it from its resting place.
At a loss as to what she was doing, she cradled the jar and began to slowly rock it back and forth. The crying began to grow fainter and quieter before it stopped altogether. Tears began to stream down her face as she realized what she had done. She should have never let them be separated. It had been a terrible thing to do. Despite the pain, it had still been a part of her. Like a strand of hair, a scab or fingernail. She needn’t lose any of them. With one hand, she savaged her desk, searching for her scissors. Once she unearthed them, she pulled down her skirt and stared hatefully down at her stitched up abdomen. The teratoma cooed as she made the first cut.
Chelsea Roth writes mini horror stories for fun!
I am blessed with an amazing set of pipes. Not good enough to go pro; my talents lie elsewhere, and work allows me to travel the world. Everywhere I go, I make a point of visiting the local karaoke joint. I have an encyclopedic memory for pop songs, but I always allow the MC to choose my music, for fun. Without fail they select something goth or spooky, like “Season of the Witch” or “Spellbound.” Maybe because I wear black, and my enunciation is vaguely Celtic. When I sing, my audience is breathless. I knock ‘em dead, I tell ya.
Hillary Lyon founded and for 20 years acted as senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. Her stories have appeared lately in 365tomorrows, Black Petals, Yellow Mama, Sirens Call, Legends of Night Drabble Series, Revelations Drabble Series, and Whodunit crime anthology. She’s also an illustrator for horror & pulp fiction magazines.
Notes from a Funeral
Women stand before my open grave and weep.
Men throw soil upon the coffin to return my body to the earth.
The old pity and comfort the children that I bore.
The priest talked of my great deeds, some true, some false.
They all look to the heavens to pray for my soul.
Some glance down and whisper, ‘What if….’
One by one, the women and men, young and old, walk away from me.
Seasons come and go as the years roll on.
The church bell tolls its endless chime, and I scream and scream till the end of time.
Kevin McHugh is a code-monkey by day and a purveyor of the unpleasant by night. Having had several comics published by Future Quake Press he is now moving into prose. An avid fan of punk rock, cheap horror movies and even cheaper fast-food Kevin can be found pontificating either on Twitter – https://twitter.com/
Mike Rader 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.