Trembling With Fear 05/01/2022
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!
Well this has certainly been a week! With the rights for my books back, I’ve now signed with Brigids Gate Press and The Five Turns of the Wheel, Bottled and Paused will all be back around May/June! Not only that but they’re publishing two more of my books – both folk horror – Reborn in October and The Woodcutter in January next year. So yes, there’s been some happy dancing in the Ellis household. We are also moving again, the second of our planned 3 moves towards our ‘final’ home and have a buyer BUT we do need to find somewhere and it’s a bit of a frenzy in the old market. Might end up pitching a tent in a field!
And before I turn to TWF, I’m going to do the shameless maternal plug here, this time for my son and his singing partner’s first single which is available on Spotify. You can listen to Sleeping Seaglass by Dullan (aka Dylan Ellis!) and Annabelle Johnson here. (FYI it’s not metal! 😊 )
The first story this week in Trembling With Fear is Drone Attack by K.W. Roberts. I really liked the voice of this story, set up as a very casual and conversational missive to friends, the method allows the tone to change as the situation deteriorates. A clever way of developing mood.
Bad Hair Night, 1921 by Mike Rader brings in the historical setting of twenties London. I do like different time settings, it allows for so much variety. How about the French Revolution or perhaps Louis XIV, the Sun King, the Spanish Inquisition (nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!) and then Hannibal or Caesar. So many ways to twist horror into history!
Cycles by Quinn Parker takes the desire for revenge to a level with an outcome neither party was prepared for.
The Special by RJ Meldrum shows you should be wary of regulars when you visit the local pub. Don’t make a sound!
I hope you enjoyed our stories, now send us yours!
Did a bit of work on the Mailchimp newsletter. Made it easier to update and did a little bit more for tying it in directly to the domain which should allow for it to more easily be received by everyone. Still have a couple more steps to do but progress is being made!
The latest anthologies… Might be on pause only because I need to upload them to our account to order proofs and it is my final week of my current MBA class so am a bit slammed outside of an already busy work week. Next week, expect some real progress! (Or, at least, hopefully, proofs being ordered.)
We’re still working on sorting having a weekly round up on our Horror Tree’s YouTube channel. Please, subscribe to the channel, like the video, and comment on the video if you like it and email any suggestions or thoughts in!
I hope you had a great weekend.
Drone Attack by K.W. Roberts
Just thought I’d showcase my new place. And I really do like it, though there is one thing that bugs me. Today I started the heater and was surprised how loud it was. Maybe this recording can pick it up. The weird thing is it’s different in all three rooms. In the main room it’s a vibration, but it’s a buzz in the bathroom and in the bedroom it’s pure mayhem. If not for this storm I might have spent tonight somewhere else. Ha!–Like I’d admit this! Still, ranting is better than nothing. I’ll keep this on. Earplugs would help and I had bags of the damned things in a drawer, but I tossed all that junk moving over here. When I hold my ears I can tell they would have made a huge difference.
With the TV up it’s still pretty bad. It’s impossible to drown the racket. Not even tuning the radio to static and holding it near my ears really helps. What a weird problem. Well, I’ll fix it. All I had to do was turn the motor off to know the cause, though I can’t keep it off long in this weather. They weren’t kidding about this cold snap and here in the canyon it’s probably ten degrees colder than the twenty-five they’re reporting in town. Oh well, though. If a noisy heater is the worst problem this house was still a great buy. Though it creeps me out. Now that my mind is muddled it seems weird to think that both the previous owners died here. Like their spirits are buzzing around in the walls or, worse yet, whatever is buzzing caused their deaths. Nutty, huh? Sounds that kill? Still, they blast sounds at military prisoners, and with no one to talk to I feel like one. This house is so small!
The most grating noise—the one in the bedroom—is this low-pitched, pulsating drone, which lasts a few minutes then fades to a high-pitched vibration. The weird thing about the vibration is that its loudness depends on where I’m at. Some spots I can barely hear it. Some it depends which way my head is turned. Then the walls start humming, getting increasingly loud, until they suddenly drop back into that low, pulsating drone and the cycle starts all over. Everything’s busy. The whole house is busy like it’s infested with mechanical bugs. When I tried to lie down my pillow seemed to be crawling with them so badly I hurled it across the room. I don’t know where I’ll sleep. There are spots where the noise lessens but, ironically, since the reason I moved here was for peace and quiet, I doubt I’ll sleep one wink. I’m too wired to read. Can’t watch TV. Can’t think. All I can do is rant!
Okay. It’s me and you! But—who are you?
I’m tempted to think you’re malevolent but my rational mind thinks not. You’re amoral. You might not even care I exist. You’re grinding away in your soulless, mechanical way. My being here doesn’t matter. That’s an unfair relationship, don’t you think? No, you don’t. You can’t think. You’re not sentient. You’re something else. To look at you, you’re just a noisy motor. I’m the human! I can whack you with one flick of a switch. Don’t think I won’t! There, I warned you. No more drones. I’m free as a bird. It’s so peaceful now—though cold.
Finally, some rest!
K.W. Roberts is a writer of science fiction, horror, and crime fiction, and his first published story appeared recently in an anthology entitled URBAN CRIME SHORT STORIES from Flame Tree Press.
Bad Hair Night, 1921
Alone, Aloysius Thirkell ventured along Narrow Street. Cravings gnawed at the businessman’s mind.
Inky water pooled around silent vessels in Limehouse Basin. Out on the Thames, a siren warned of treacherous fog.
Reaching Shoulder of Mutton Alley, Thirkell quickened his pace toward Ah Chai’s opium den. His heartbeats drummed in his brain, drowning out the Manchurian whispers.
He was seized from behind.
Something looped around his throat.
Strong as rope, it choked his screams, crushed his windpipe. One assailant removed Thirkell’s wallet. The other untwined his long pigtail from the businessman’s neck and let him crumple dead to the cobbles.
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
Jane sure as hell had Paul’s coffee ready. Always did. He worked fifty-hour weeks—a traditionalist with set expectations. Dinner every night. Cup of joe each morning.
Of course she worked too. 2020s weren’t an affordable decade. The woman made twenty grand more per year with just five seven-hour days.
Morning ritual time: sit down to enjoy his caffeination before work.
Something wrong: a weird, harsh taste. Unrecognizable. Then everything went black.
Jane hid the antifreeze, as she’d hid so many bruises before, and left.
She didn’t know he knew—that he cut her brakes.
Scream. Crash. Dead on arrival.
Lawrence sat sipping a beer. There were four customers, but the only sound was the clock ticking. They all came for the quiet. Three youths entered the pub. The noise was jarring. Lawrence winced, it was more than he could stand. He glanced at the landlord.
“Three specials for our friends.”
This drink was reserved for customers like this. Three glasses of red liquid were dispensed. It only took a moment for the poison to work. The three stood frozen in place. The landlord carried them to the cellar for disposal. Peace returned. Lawrence smiled; he did enjoy the quiet.
RJ Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010. He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Smoking Pen Press and James Ward Kirk Fiction. He is an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.
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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 can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on Blue Sky as stephellis.bsky.social.