One of the things on my To Do list includes revamping my website, making it more professional and keeping it up-to-date, unfortunately this is one of the areas in my list of tasks which continually gets pushed to the bottom of the pile – I might get to look at it in the summer holidays, perhaps. Actually, scrub that perhaps, I WILL sort it in the summer. A decent, professional website is a must for authors. It is your ‘shop window’ as much as Amazon or any other outlet which may be selling your work. It gives your readers a chance to find out a little more about you and start that reader/writer relationship.

However, whilst I have lapsed on this front, that doesn’t stop me checking out those belonging to others. I like to look at layout, style and content in the hope I can pinch some good ideas. A blog I’ve looked at this weekend comes from one of our contributors, Lionel Ray Green. It warmed the cockles of my heart to see his comments with regard to Horror Tree which he feels is ‘more like a writing community than a website’, (https://lionelraygreen.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/my-5-go-to-sites-as-a-horror-writer/). His website is entertaining and well presented, so why not drop by and take a look.

Speaking of the element of community or family which we foster here, I would like to wish another contributor of ours, Martin Fuller a very Happy Birthday for 28th April. A late-comer to the world of horror writing, he is still relatively new to publication BUT he has shown originality, a willingness to listen to ideas and a good sense of humour, plus he appears to have his apostrophes finally under control! Anyone else got a birthday soon? (I’ll just whisper mine’s 15th May ).  Happy Birthday again, Martin.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Anthology Update: Cover is partially done and will be finished once we have an exact page count. TOC had an error we found which has been corrected. Most of the interior text is sorted. Need to snag some blurbs and a few misc things and we might have an actual update but it IS almost there! GAH!

‘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

Editor, Horror Tree

Dream endings

I died again last night, this time by hanging. The abrasive bite of the rope crushing my throat, my body dancing at the end of a noose for the amusement of a jeering mob still haunts me. Death’s oblivion ended my torment, as it had on all the other occasions.

I awoke with a muted cry, disorientated, nauseous, sweat pouring from my body. I’d vomited immediately, ridding myself of last night’s supper and the remains of my dignity.

I collapsed on the bathroom floor, weeping until fatigue pulled me into more mundane dreams.

I opened my eyes to a cold dawn, still on the tiled floor, shivering with cold, the memory of fear still haunting me.  

Staggering back to my bed, I lay staring at the ceiling trying to make sense of the latest insanity.

These were not mere nightmares but something else. Something evil in my mind and perhaps my very soul, was destroying me.

It had started at the beginning of June, when one evening I drifted into sleep slumped in my favourite chair, assisted by a large glass of brandy and a warm, soothing fire.  The dream started quickly.

I felt the heat of a blazing sun. I was balanced on a tree branch reaching for some fruit.  I was in the body of a creature covered in a thick coat of matted hair. I could think clearly but had no control of the body I inhabited. Its brain had limited intelligence and bestial needs. I looked out of its eyes sharing its desperate thoughts of survival. Without warning there was a bellowing roar behind me and I was pushed from the branch.

I landed hard, my ribs breaking, pain dominating my senses. Another creature, more ape than man, loomed over me. It attacked me raining down blows with its fists. I succumbed to the savage wave of violence, bones breaking and blood flowing. The final blow to my temple did for me. Black nothingness descended.

 

I came around, jumping out from my chair, somewhat shaken but amazed at the dream’s clarity. The next day I joked with my friends and colleagues at the university about my dream adventure. I was teased mercilessly, enduring playful taunts of ‘monkey man’ and ‘goodbye Mr Chimps’. It seemed a harmless fantasy in daytime.

My next dream-sleep extinguished any merriment I had felt as I again was killed.  

On that occasion, I was recognizably a man, wearing the skins of animals. I felt an adrenaline -fuelled rage as I found I found myself fighting with Neanderthal man, stocky and powerfully built. I was screaming, advancing on him, violence in my heart. The man creature gave a guttural howl and with a deadly swiftness, threw a piece of sharpened stone at my forehead. I fell stunned, and was set upon by this semi-human beast. My skull was crushed by a flint hand axe and the deep darkness came again.

The next dream reversed the roles and it was I who was the Neanderthal.  I instinctively felt that many centuries had passed since the previous attack. It was I who now held the carved hand axe, but my human opponent held a flint- headed spear. The encounter was brief.

The man thrust out the spear, piercing my stomach. Burning agony filled my abdomen and I fell onto the cool earth. I gazed into the eyes of my killer, saw his joy and exhilaration as he pushed the spear into my throat. Another black curtain fell across my mind before consciousness returned and I sat up in bed sobbing.

Weeks of death dreaming have now passed always restricted to the final few moments of the life I was inhabiting.

Fighting back was futile. I was killed in single combat or against large groups of assailants.

It was always pain.

Always death.

My execution on the gibbet signalled a change. I now die by the hands of executioner and interrogator.

I have sought medical assistance believing my mind is suffering an acute mental ailment, but firm diagnoses are hard to drag from the doctors and specialists I consult. I take the drugs they prescribed but to my despair, their effects make me feel more wearisome, unable to fend off fearful sleep.

Nothing stops the visions which become ever more real and prolonged in nature.

In the third week of nightmares I have two nightmares each sleep.

In the first double dream I was flogged and nailed to a cross,  hauled upright into the view of columns of Roman soldiers. They marched past me, some grinning at my plight, others gazing on with pity.  Although the dream can only have lasted part of the night, the dream time passed infinitely slowly. I expired over several days eventually dying of thirst. No sooner had the familiar darkness delivered me from that suffering than I was thrown into another hell. Here I was being hunted with dogs by men on horseback. My death was a savage mauling, torn apart by those huge and vicious canines.

There was no escaping my doom.

My doctors were baffled, and despite numerous tests and treatments the bloody visions continued.

On the Monday two days ago, I died three times.

With the first I was dragged to a scaffold and hung by the neck until near unconsciousness.

I was cut down, my genitalia sliced from my body, and my intestines ripped out of my abdomen and burnt before my eyes.  

My screams echoed throughout the hospital ward where I had been brought for observation. No sedative could quiet me. No frantic attempts by worried nurses could wake me. I slept on in torment.

The second dream and another hideous ending, this time being burnt alive tied to a stake. Faggots of dried wood blazed high around me, watched by a silent crowd, my flesh burning from my bones as monks chanted prayers and labelled me heretic.

The third dream was so evil, so terrifying  I can’t even bring myself to think of it, shutting it away, afraid to even look upon the memory.

I came around on my hospital bed, surrounded by concerned medical staff. I realised in my heart they could do nothing for me and despite their strenuous objections, discharged myself and returned home.

The end of June approaches and I have endeavoured to stay awake for three days and nights.

I avoid alcohol and continually drink coffee supplemented by drugs to keep me in the land of life.

I know I am becoming irrational, barring my door to friends and avoiding their pleas to help.

In my fatigued state I trip, injuring my foot. In my discomfort I pray to God for an end to the torment. There is no answer.

Now crying like a frightened child, I pray to the Devil himself for release.

Sleep catches me unawares. My head sinks onto my chest, the world slips away.

I dream again, but this time it is different. I stand on a wooden scaffold, a guillotine at my side.

A woman is pushed up the steps and forced to kneel, her head placed securely in the lunette. She awaits my hand on the trigger which releases the blade. I listen to the frenzied shouts of the crowd. I release the rope. The blade falls, her head is severed, and droplets of warm blood splash my hand. White light blinds me.

I am again on a scaffold, looking onto yet another crowd through the eyelets of a mask. Kneeling by a wooden block is a man of noble birth. He places a small purse in my left hand which jingles with coin. In my right hand in the shaft of an axe, its cruel blade rusted with old blood. I kill the traitor before me. Light shines.

The Saracen who tries to stop me taking the city for God’s glorious crusade, I kill.

The politician whose policies are contrary to my masters, I kill.

The priest who preaches heresy. I kill.

The Celtic warrior defying Rome, I castrate, then slash his throat. I kill.

I kill.

I kill.

These deadly visions of murder and cruelty never cease. I travel through time and space, a spectre and implement of death.

Throughout the endless waves of blood, I feel as if this is all a test, a macabre interview for some hateful purpose, some job where only Satan himself can be my employer.

Whatever will occur now, I can only state with bitter, painful experience, that it is better to be the victor than the defeated, the executioner rather than the condemned, the torturer rather than the tortured.

I dream on.

 

Martin Fuller

Martin P. Fuller is just the west of 60 and trying to enjoy a semi-retirement from being a law enforcement officer for over thirty-four years. He works part time delivering cars for a rental company and endeavors to join as many writing classes as time and finances allow. He lives in a small terrace cottage in Menston, Yorkshire England.

It was because of these writing classes that he started gain the courage to submit his work for publishing. He prefers darker stories especially if he can affix a twist in story although he has dabbled in some comedy and poetry pieces.

So far, he has had work printed in self-produced anthologies from writing groups but hopes for a story to appear in October in an anthology published by comma press. He is hopeful that people will like the twists and turns of his dark mind. Either that or recommend serious therapists!

I Will Always Have His Heart

His warm eyes, strong jaw and washboard stomach are hers, I’ll always have his heart.
His insatiable desires, inquisitive mind and easy charm are hers, I’ll always have his heart.
His tattered flesh, battered organs and severed tendons are hers, I’ll always have his heart.
The bits of meat I didn’t recognize, the chewed scrapings left upon the blade are hers, I’ll always have his heart.
His ripped nerves, splintered bones and threadbare tendons are hers, I’ll always have his heart.
She may have had him first, she may have him when I’m done, but I’ll always have his heart.

Kevin McHugh

Kevin McHugh is a writer from Scotland. He writes Short Fiction, Comics and hopes to one day string enough coherent words together that he can pass them off as a novel. His influences include Clive Barker, H.P. Lovecraft, Warren Ellis and Ira Levin. When not writing or reading he can be found listening to punk rock, reading comics books and watching the best schlock horror the 1980’s has to offer. He can be found on the twitter machine @kevinmchugh

My First Kill

After years of false predictions, one panned out in the form of an infection. I darted from one end of the house to the other, collecting my zombie killing tools. All those years of playing Call of Duty and watching The Walking Dead were about to pay off.

With a backpack filled with ammo and my pistol at my side. I opened the door. A smile spread across my face when I realized it was my neighbor. Planting my feet, I took aim. I declared victory before squeezing the trigger. Click. My heart stopped. I forgot to load the gun.

Andrea Allison

Andrea Allison currently resides in a small uneventful town located in Oklahoma after moving from a small uneventful town in Texas. She is an author who enjoys writing horror of all varieties and her work has appeared both online and in print.

Porcelain Doll

A porcelain doll sits on a shelf in Granny’s guest bedroom. Her gown glows like moonlight. When I nod off, she titters. When I startle awake, her hand rests against her flour-white cheek.
I climb out of bed, eyes on the doll, and inch toward the door. I turn to open it.
Something hits the hardwood. Tiny saddle-shoes tip-tap toward me.
I rush into the hallway and pull the door shut.
She kicks, bangs, and unleashes lunatic giggles.
She can’t reach the knob.
I slink toward the living room couch, curl up.
Over the piano, the clown oil painting glowers.

Kevin M. Folliard

Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose published fiction includes scary stories collections Christmas Terror Tales and Valentine Terror Tales, and adventure novels such as Matt Palmer and the Komodo Uprising. His work has also been collected by Double Feature Magazine, Flame Tree Publishing, Parsec Ink, and more.

LINKS:

Author Website: http://www.kevinfolliard.com/

Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Folliard/e/B0097S7T0A/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Christmas Terror Tales on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristmasTerrorTales/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kmfollia/

 

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About Stuart Conover

Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!

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