Trembling With Fear 05/03/20

This bit is going to stay here for every week until the pandemic is over. Thank you to everyone in the health services across the world, to everyone who is keeping us going from delivery drivers, to checkout operators, from armed forces to public services. When this is all over, I hope those who used to look down on so many of these, many occupying some of the lowest pay brackets, reassess and give them their due. Keyworkers should be valued and whilst songs and claps might be nice, let’s see something more tangible for them further down the line. Thank you again from everyone at TWF.

I’m losing track of how many weeks we’ve spent in lockdown, partly because it started during term time but has now also included the recent Easter holidays, so it hasn’t felt like a full lockdown as such. I’ve been allowed back into the workplace as my new library is self-contained, and although I can’t shelve the books yet, I can get the muddled pile of thousands of books into some sort of order for when the bookcases arrive! It’s making me feel I’m doing something a bit more tangible. It’s only about two weeks work but it’s a bit of a break – and quite a workout. I particularly need the latter, as my youngest, who’s back home until September enjoys baking and cookies, flapjacks and cake have all appeared.

Reading has still filled in many hours. I’ve recently finished Aaron Dries, Fallen Boys and would recommend it. A psychological horror, it has a very brutal story line, and is a more harrowing read than I normally pick up, but is very much worth the effort. I’m still reading Beloved by Toni Morrison, which has even more horror in its pages – much of it sadly just as grounded in human reality.

I want to give a personal shoutout here to Kev Harrison. He has been a great supporter of my writing for a while and kindly gives up his free time to beta read my work. He does this despite all the demands on his time – real life work, This is Horror features (I may have mentioned the podcast before, https://www.thisishorror.co.uk/podcasts/. Go and listen). This week has seen the release of his novella, The Balance from LVP Publications. It’s currently lined up for me to read and knowing his writing, I can’t wait to dive in. You can buy it here at payhip.com. (Amazon seems to be playing silly games with the book at the moment.)

Now to other reading matters. The first story this week in Trembling With Fear is A House That Breathes by Radar DeBoard. Feng has moved into a new house, bought for a bargain price. Was it too good to be true? You’ll have to find out for yourself. What was a feature I liked in this story?  The portrayal of the house itself as a character, as an almost living, breathing organism, something to be considered as well as the humans. To give the inanimate the appearance of possession, of a soul or spirit, is something which I like to try and do in my own writing and something I like to see in others.

Her Eyes by G.A. Miller is a drabble relying on the last line to deliver the punch, which it does quite smoothly.

She Moves by Radar DeBoard (two stories form him this week!) brings us the mythical Baba Yaga. Sadly the main character’s future is looking somewhat miserable. Folklore is a wonderful source to mine for writing inspiration. (I actually read the children’s book, The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson last year – it used the Baba Yaga to create a very moving story showing you can turn something feared into something to care about.)

Snow Day by RJ Meldrum takes us back to a colder time, just as summer approaches. This story gives us Charon in a different setting. I do like stories which retell or bring in classical references and modernises them.

 

Take care

Steph

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

While we’re still behind on the anthologies, I’m really hoping that we can drive some real progress in the coming week. Hot on the tail of that will be a couple of other fun announcements which I’m eagerly looking forward to discuss with you! We’re SO CLOSE to some big changes and yet so far.

Outside of reading all of those who submit to Trembling With Fear, as I’ve been writing more fantasy lately I’ve recently picked up the annotated edition of the original 3 “Dragonlance” books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Not only has this been a welcome reintroduction to a world I read extensively in about 20 years ago but also an insightful look at some of the inspirations which helped bring it to life! (I ordered a copy slightly before the pandemic hit and it only came in recently.)

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

A House That Breathes by Radar DeBoard

Feng beamed with a sense of pride as he looked around his new living room. It had taken him almost a whole weekend, but he had finally unpacked everything. He plopped down into his grey, worn recliner letting out a tired sigh. He was still stuck on how cheap he had gotten the house for. It was located in a good neighborhood, had large square footage, and was in almost pristine condition. Yet for some reason no one had been trying to buy the house. By the time Feng had come along, it had been on the market for over three months. Thus, Feng was able to haggle the realtor down to a price half of what Feng was willing to pay for it.

 He let out a long yawn, the full weight of his exhaustion hitting him like a freight-train. Slowly rising from the chair, he made way back to the bedroom. He fell asleep almost immediately, his snores filling the room. Halfway through the night Feng shot up in bed. He was breathing rapidly, and a cold sweat rolled down his cheeks. He searched and failed to identify the cause. 

He shrugged it off as his body reacting to the new house, and started to drift off again. He was at the precipice of sleep, drifting in and out of consciousness. He woke up the next morning, feeling a bit on the stiff side. He assumed he was just sore from the move and rolled out of bed. By the time he was finished with his shift, he didn’t feel like doing anything. So he went directly home and decided to stay there for the evening. 

Just before he pulled himself out of his recliner and headed off to bed, he took a second to appreciate how quiet it truly was. He finally had a place all to himself, and he was really enjoying the solitude. A loud thud coming from behind him, shattered the silence. He whipped around to find the source of the noise. Feng found his framed diploma, laying on the ground. It had fallen from the wall. He picked it up, checking to make sure it hadn’t broken. 

He looked at the wall trying to figure out why it had fallen. He scanned the area and found no explanation/ Though he did notice a small bump roughly three or four inches wide in the middle of the wall, just a few feet from where he had hung his diploma. He found it strange he hadn’t noticed it before, but shrugged it off. He hung his diploma and trudged off to bed. 

He laid back, allowing the softness of the blankets to soothe him. As he teetered on the brink of sleep, he heard it again. The sound of someone else breathing. He held his breath, trying to see if the breathing continued without him. He didn’t hear anything. Feng let out a sigh of relief and slowly drifted off. Several hours later, Feng woke from his slumber screaming. After several seconds he stopped. He was confused as to why he had been screaming, or what the feeling of uneasiness that hung over him was. All he could do was to try to forget what had happened and go back to sleep.

Over the next few days Feng would wake in the morning with his body feeling worse than it had the prior day. Night after night of broken sleep had left him utterly exhausted. Each night, he heard breathing that wasn’t coming from him. More and more, Feng felt as though the house itself was breathing. 

Feng stopped going out. At first it was to avoid hanging out with friends. Soon however, he had stopped even going to get groceries from the store. He didn’t feel tired and sore in his home; it was his safe haven. Despite the strange breathing, the house had a comforting aura that he had become dependent on. Feng took a day off to relax and get some sleep. It didn’t work. He found himself waking up even more during the night, still hearing the strange breathing.

The most frustrating thing for Feng was that his diploma kept falling off the wall. Every time he inspected the wall fixing however, he found nothing wrong. The bump in the wall, meanwhile, had grown dramatically. It was now almost three feet wide, and seemed to grow every day. He didn’t know what was causing the warp in the wall, but kept telling himself he was going to fix it. Each time he was about to call someone to repair it, he found himself too tired and unwilling to do so.

As he stared at the deformity, he noticed something different. The bump was now made up of several shapes. One group of imprints had five small bulges, each one connected to a slightly larger bulge in between them. 

It’s like a hand, Feng thought for a moment. 

Then there was a larger shape a little bit further up the bulge that if he looked at it long enough, he saw the impression of a face. He stopped, quickly turning away from it. 

You’re just tired, he told himself, there’s no face in your wall.

He laid down in his bed, trying his hardest to relax. His mind was still fixated on the deformity in his wall. Feng focused on slowing his breathing, hoping it would lull him to sleep. After several minutes he started to drift off, but then he heard the strange noise that had been plaguing his nights. 

 “Where is that coming from!” he screamed. 

He threw the blanket off and stomped out of the bedroom, focussing all his effort on pinpointing where the breathing was coming from. At that moment a strange sound came from the living room, it sent a chill down Feng’s spine.

Slowly, he made his way down the hallway, creeping into the living room. He immediately turned his gaze to the deformity. Feng could tell something was off. His diploma had vanished from the wall. He moved closer towards where his diploma should be, a terrible feeling growing in his gut. The closer he got, the more he could tell the imperfection had grown.  

Feng thought to himself, it’s moving. 

He reached out towards it, his mind racing. The wall moved in small, continuous motions as he placed his hand on it. Then the deformity split down the middle, creating a wide opening. Feng froze, gasping in horror as he stared into the black abyss.

***

Joshua unlocked the door, and walked into his new house. He still couldn’t believe he had gotten it for such a cheap price. He honestly couldn’t figure out why no one else had snatched it up before him. He noticed something on the ground, and picked it up. 

“Who’s Feng?” he asked, looking down at the framed diploma in his hands.

Radar DeBoard

Radar DeBoard is an aspiring writer who just wants others to find enjoyment in his work. Even though he lacks publication and experience, he hopes his work will have an impact. He has a passion for horror and finds it the most interesting genre to write. 

https://www.facebook.com/WriterRadarDeBoard/

Her Eyes

She had the most amazing eyes I’d ever seen. “Ice blue” doesn’t do justice to their actual color, and the gold flecks that seemed to come and go completely at random to reflect the light just made them all the more distinctive.

She didn’t so much look at you; she looked through you, to the very depths of your soul.

If you were keeping a secret, she’d know it. I don’t know how, but she’d know, yet it didn’t seem to matter. She’d know, not judge.

Those eyes are why I never noticed her canines until it was too late.

G.A. Miller

G.A. Miller is a new voice in the chorus of horror authors, drawing his ideas from everyday, commonplace events that take unforeseen turns down dark corridors.

Web: https://talesfrommiller.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/GMiller666
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100015787309417

She Moves

She’s been here for years now. One day I walked outside, and she was just there. The Baba Yaga. She’s been watching me with her black eyes ever since. Moving closer towards me every day. 

At first it was horrifying, but with time she has become just another part of my life. She doesn’t do much, but watch me. That’s why it’s easy for me to forget she is there. Until I see her move, and then my fear returns. She’s so close now. I’m afraid of what she’ll do. The worst part is she only moves when I laugh.

Radar DeBoard

Radar DeBoard is an aspiring writer who just wants others to find enjoyment in his work. Even though he lacks publication and experience, he hopes his work will have an impact. He has a passion for horror and finds it the most interesting genre to write. 

https://www.facebook.com/WriterRadarDeBoard/

Snow Day

A storm dumped a foot of snow overnight. The road was bad, black ice. The tires lost grip. My car started to slide towards the ditch. I closed my eyes, waited for the impact. I felt the car turn over.

I opened my eyes to find myself standing at a deserted train station. I had no recollection of getting there. Perhaps I had bumped my head during the accident. I noticed I was holding a coin.

A train arrived. A figure descended and extended his hand. I handed over the coin and boarded. I finally realised where I was going.

R.J. Meldrum

R.J. 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.

Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/richard.meldrum.79
Website: http://wolfstarpublishing.com/meldrum/
https://twitter.com/RichardJMeldru1

 

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