This week I’m returning to the subject of rejections, an everyday fact of life for anyone who is a writer. I always reject stories with a heavy heart and feel worse when it is someone who has been rejected once and then been declined again on their next submission. I know what it feels like to be in both those positions. How do I cope? A trick I have learned in recent times is to start putting it in perspective, ie look at the number of submissions that call has received and also look at their acceptance rate. I have found that once you know there is a low acceptance rate you don’t feel so bad when you get rejected. A personal example is my continual effort to get into Apex (currently undergoing another attempt!). I have subbed 5, all rejected but 2 got through to the 2nd reading round. Their acceptance rate is 1 in 400 according to this article Acceptance-rates-what-are-the-chances/ where Aeryn Rudel also lists other publications, eg Black Static and Pseudopod, to give you a flavour of the difficulties we face. I am also waiting on another submission call from way back last year when The Binge-Watching Cure announced a horror edition call. I’m still in the running but now know there were 1600 entries for 20 slots! So, when you’re depressed that a perfectly good story has been rejected, remember sometimes it’s just the numbers that are against you and it’s not necessarily a reflection on the quality of your work.
Great to see new projects out there from Trembling With Fear writers, the latest coming from Eric S. Fomley, currently producing his own Drabbledark anthology featuring horror, sci-fi and fantasy stories. From what I’ve seen on twitter, I think there will be a few familiar TWF names amongst the contributors. To find out more about Eric, check out his website https://ericfomley.com. I’m looking forward to reading the finished product.
On another note, Emerian Rich of HorrorAddicts.net is currently seeking management-level help at her site. Horror Addicts have published submission calls at Horror Tree and promote horror not just in books but in movies and lifestyle. They also ran The Next Great Horror Writer Contest last year. If you are interested in helping this truly supportive site, email: [email protected].
Well, our first run of a serial seemed to be a success so we’d like to publish more! If you’ve got something that you think would fit, please reach out to us!
‘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.
“Oh, I love a rainy night, I love a rainy night…” I warbled alone in the cocoon of steel and vinyl that is my Crown Vic. She’s my prize possession—a tank that would probably survive a Zombie Apocalypse better than I would. By a long shot.
In my car, on a night when the rain falls in crystalline sheets barely glazed by the headlights, it doesn’t matter that I have a voice like broken glass. No one has to listen but me, and, to me, I sound like a rock star.
Not that I look like one…everyone calls me “Mouse,” even my parents did—and I do rather look the part. I’m mostly forgettable. Which is fine with me. I like my own company best, and I know there is more to me than meets the eye.
With no particular place to go on this particular night, I was just cruising. It might be irresponsibly wasteful of me to squander gasoline in my huge metal monster, but who cares if I squander my own money? I pulled up to a stoplight just as Eddie finished crooning, the big car idling like a purring cat.
I was minding my own business when something bumped me from behind. The light turned green and I took off. It was just a love tap, and I really didn’t want to get embroiled in all the red tape that came from a traffic accident. No way such a tiny bump hurt my car, and I really wasn’t worried about the other guy. After all, it was their fault.
I wasn’t going to let the other driver spoil my good mood.
Taking a left on one of the farm roads dotting the landscape, I headed vaguely homeward, but not directly. I wasn’t finished cruising.
Meatloaf began wailing teen angst and unrequited lust, and I belted it out at the top of my lungs. Glancing in the rear-view mirror, I saw headlights behind me. No big deal, there were a lot of farms out this way still…
I felt a slight frisson run up my spine. It was a bit remote out here, and I hadn’t been expecting any trouble, so I hadn’t taken my usual precautions.
I laughed aloud at my foolishness.
No one was following me. I was perfectly safe. Everyone in Steelville knew the Crown Vic, and knew me by sight if not name. I knew all of them. At the worst, the car behind me was one of the Peterson boys or Liam Thompson getting up to a bit of mischief. Nothing to worry about.
I put the car behind me out of my mind and went back to planning the gardening I needed to do tomorrow. The rain could be either a blessing or a curse, depending on when it let up. I had planned to start this evening, but the rain had put a literal damper on that.
The big flat spot behind the barn would be just perfect. There are few rocks left, because Papa cleared that space for hay way back when our farm was a working concern. There might be some residual clumps of roots or something, but it shouldn’t be too bad to dig up.
A bright light caught my attention, and I looked up at the mirror in time to see headlights fill it. A loud bang sounded, and my car skidded forward about three feet. “Damn!”
My hands gripped the wheel so tightly my knuckles went white in the glare through the rear window. My heart raced faster than Secretariat.
I still had confidence that the Vic was undamaged, but that hadn’t been a car sliding on the wet road at a stoplight. He’d attacked intentionally.
I floored it. Despite her size, my car has a lot of horsepower under the hood. I pulled away from the vehicle behind me, thanking the powers-that-be the rain was slackening.
The roads beneath my wheels were packed caliche and gravel, not smooth asphalt. They sucked at the wheels in places, and slid out from under them in others. I focused on the road unwinding before me, muscles locked with tension.
Despite the endorphins of pursuit being thrown into the mix, or maybe because of them, I felt a sense of exhilaration. Did someone really think they could intimidate me? Think a couple of taps on my bumper would throw me into a tizzy and make me do something stupid?
They’d picked the wrong Mouse for that.
I’d been driving these roads since I was twelve, I had a full tank of gas, adrenaline coursing through my veins, and—according to my Mama—a bit of a death wish.
The wheels spun and grabbed as I rounded the tight corners between my neighbors’ fences. The vehicle behind me—it had to be a truck or something with the headlights riding that high—took them almost as quickly, though I flatter myself I was a bit faster, a bit more in control.
My mind raced, trying to decide what to do. The farm was in the other direction now. Turning for home and the safety of Papa’s shotgun was very tempting, but that might end the fun.
I took a hard right, heading back toward the river. If he followed me—I knew instinctively it was a he—it would prove my assumptions correct. He skidded around the curve with a rattle of pebbles and a spray of dirty water in his headlights.
Okay then. Definitely following me. Most likely with less-than-honorable intentions. My heart raced even faster—I hadn’t known that was possible.
A giddy little giggle escaped. I hadn’t had this big a rush in a very long time. Probably not since the reading of my parents’ wills, when I found out that the Mouse Hole—as I liked to think of the farm—was mine free and clear with a nice tidy nest egg besides. Who knew they were so thrifty?
It was enough that I could quit my job pretending to teach children English. How can you teach something to anyone who would rather throw eggs at your chalkboard than turn in an assignment, and whose parents are totally okay with that? Now, I am a lady of leisure…except when I’m being chased by big pickup trucks with probable mayhem on their mind…
How long did I want to play this game of cat and Mouse? Eventually, he was going to catch up to me. The truck was at least as powerful as the Crown Vic, and the second collision had shown an intent to cripple the car. A lesser made vehicle would have stopped in its tracks. Once again, I sent up a swift thank you for good ol’ American steel.
I careened around the next turn, fishtailing a little on the wet caliche. Time to bolt for home. If he got bored before I got there, no loss. If not…the shotgun was loaded and just inside the front door.
I sped up the straightaway that led home. There‘re no other farms out in my neck of the boondocks. The river curls around my property protectively, but it makes farmland limited. The last family within shouting distance left several years ago…but I liked the solitude. Usually.
The truck behind me was keeping pace. I was a bit surprised. These roads weren’t the easiest to navigate.
I really should get a Concealed Carry permit. Then I could carry a pistol in my glove box. Legally.
I have often considered carrying one without a permit, but there’s really no need to tempt fate. As soon as I do, I’m bound to get pulled over for a broken taillight or something and wind up in jail for an illicit firearm. That would never do.
I took the turn onto my property, hitting the cattle-guard with teeth-rattling speed. I threw it into park as soon as I hit the front yard, and saw the truck’s headlights wash over the Vic as he followed.
My key was in my hand, and the door open before he crashed into the back of the car again. This one popped the trunk lid. I grabbed the shotgun and turned back to find a stranger staring dumbfounded into the trunk well of my car.
I sighed. “You had to go and follow me, didn’t you?”
He pulled his gaze away from the plastic-wrapped body currently residing in my trunk. If it hadn’t rained, I’d have buried it already…
The shotgun let off a satisfactory belch of fire and sound. “That’s for Vic, you jerk.”
He dropped like a stone, and I stepped forward, nudging the body with the toe of my shoe. I’ve always been a good shot.
“Thanks…now I’ll have to do twice the gardening.”
Rie Sheridan Rose
Rie Sheridan Rose multitasks. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies, including Nightmare Stalkers and Dream Walkers Vols. 1 and 2, and Killing It Softly Vol. 1 and 2. She has authored ten novels, six poetry chapbooks, and lyrics for dozens of songs.
Links: website — www.RieWriter.com
She hits the dance floor, just before the DJ hits play. Bodies bump and grind almost hard enough to shake rust from the rafters. It’s been too long since she could lose herself in someone else’s rhythm, letting a bass line blast the stress from her soul.
It all starts with a heel snapping off. Her ankle rolls, hard enough to tear a tendon. No one notices. She hits the ground, and gets caught beneath stomping feet. They play a familiar tone on her skeleton, the snap, crackle, pop of bone breaking to the beat. Her eyes shut. Song’s over.
Kevin Holton is a cyborg and fitness junkie from coastal New Jersey. He’s the author of At the Hands of Madness (Severed Press), as well as the forthcoming novels The Nightmare King (Siren’s Call Publications) and These Walls Don’t Talk, They Scream (HellBound Books). He also co-wrote the short film Human Report 85616, and his short work has appeared with Sci-Phi Journal, The Literary Hatchet, Radiant Crown Press, Pleiades, Rain Taxi, Mighty Quill Books, and Thunderdome Press, among others. He can also be found acting, blogging with The Bold Mom, or talking about Batman.
Roland drank deeply from his latest victim. His thirst grew with every drop. Something was wrong. Normally he would stop, leaving enough to keep his victim alive and weakened. This time he fed savagely.
He dropped the empty body to the ground wanting more. The convulsions hit first and took him to his knees. Too weak to stand, he lay on the ground. Two shadows materialized over him.
“See. What’d I tell ya? They can’t get enough.”
“But, the homeless guy is dead.”
“Can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.”
A sharpened stake entered Roland’s chest. Eternal torpor awaits.
Arthur Unk lives and works in the United States, but dreams of a tropical, zombie-free island. He hones his drabble skills via the Horror Tree Trembling With Fear (Dead Wrong, Flesh of My Flesh, The Tale of Fear Itself, and others yet to come) and writes micro/flash fiction daily. His influences include H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and life experience. You can follow his work from all around the web via his blog at http://arthurunk.com or read his many, many micro-stories on Twitter @ArthurUnkTweets
She scraped away the final layer of soil, revealing the treasure. There was an intake of breath from behind her.
“I never thought you’d find them.”
“I told you to have faith.”
“Maybe we should leave them, it’s illegal to own them.”
“Worth a fortune though.”
She stared at the items, rusty, stained and dirty. A crucifix and a wooden stake. Artifacts of an evil time. Thankfully, the right side had won, although it’d been a close thing. Memories of death and dismemberment flashed into her mind. Instinctively, her lips drew back, exposing elongated fangs, the mark of her kind.
R. J. Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010 with his wife Sally. His interest in the supernatural is a lifetime obsession and when he isn’t writing ghost stories, he’s busy scouring the shelves of antique book-sellers to increase his collection of rare and vintage supernatural books. During the winter months, he trains and races his own team of sled dogs.
He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Digital Fiction and James Ward Kirk Fiction.
You can find out more about RJ at his homepage.
- Ongoing Submissions: Syntax & Salt - May 24, 2019
- Unholy Trinity – Marauders, Missing, Mission - May 24, 2019
- Video Refresh: An Interview With Josh Finney & Patrick McEvoy - May 24, 2019
- Taking Submissions: Funny Queer - May 24, 2019
- Ongoing Submissions: Legendary Tales - May 23, 2019
- Taking Submissions: Claw & Blossom June 2019 - May 23, 2019
- Ongoing Submissions: Soft Surface Poetry - May 23, 2019
- Taking Submissions: The Twofer Compendium - May 22, 2019
- Taking Submissions: Putrescent Poems - May 22, 2019
- Taking Submissions: Grifty Shades of Fey - May 21, 2019