Trembling With Fear 05/15/2022
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!
Dear all, changes are afoot. First, good news on the house front. We’ve found a house, had our offer accepted and things are in motion – though I know that can still be at a snail’s pace. And the other news – this summer will see me reach my fifth year with TWF. When I stepped away from the day job last year, I thought it would free up my time to cope with both my own writing and Horror Tree and everything else. But things don’t go as planned. I will admit openly here to having a horrible time with the menopause – that word which you are not supposed to mention – and the effects of that have been hitting me hard for some time. In addition, the time I had planned to slot all projects into has simply not materialised and I have reached the point where something has to give.
For me, I have realised it is now time for me to step down from editing Trembling with Fear. I will be around until the end of June, by which time someone else will have taken over these reins, and I will also see through the 2021 anthologies but after that, I will sink into the background. Though I might send in the odd drabble! I am not going from Horror Tree itself completely, however. I will continue with the Indie Bookshelf posts and behind the scenes prep the review posts sent in. I have also said that if ever there’s an emergency, I will do what I can to help.
So, I would like to say thank you to everyone for all your wonderful stories and friendship. I have got to know many fantastic writers through TWF, and it is a time I will never regret. The only thing that remains is for me to ask – is there anyone out there who would like to take on this role? If you’re interested, please let Stuart know.
Beelzebub by Hilary Ayshford is our first story in Trembling With Fear. This is such beautiful writing despite the horrific tragedy which unfolds as you read it. Innocence and vulnerability shine through with the use of first person POV and this makes it all the more heartbreaking.
Citrine Screams by Tess P. is a dark sci-fi with a very bleak time-controlled scenario. More sci-fi please.
Risen by DJ Tyrer delivers some great atmosphere with his depiction of the stirring graveyard.
The Road by Simon Kewin has some lovely scene setting in the introduction and a nice twist at the end. But this is not a ‘lazy’ twist, the story flows into it without jarring.
I hope you enjoyed our stories, now send us yours!
First off, I’m going to say that Trembling With Fear wouldn’t exist today without the help of Steph. I don’t say that lightly. She’s truly made TWF what it is and I’m both terrified and excited for where we’ll be going from here. I’m also thrilled that she is still staying part of the Horror Tree family!
So, yes, we are going to be open to a new head editor that will be helping with:
– Reviewing stories as they come in for inclusion.
– Light editing advice if warranted.
– Scheduling the posts and writing intros for them in WordPress.
– Helping with our yearly Anthology release.
If this sounds like something that you would be interested in and passionate about, please do reach out today on our contact form or directly to [email protected]!
Okay. With being in between classes I’ve been starting to plan out some of the upcoming changes for HT. We’re currently reevaluating our hosting plan in order to speed up the backend of the site and the front end on mobile as well as how our theme works. (We’ll likely be keeping it but adapting it for speed and usability on mobile devices.) Things are progressing, slowly. There are also three areas that we’re currently looking to expand though there might be a small pause as we work through TWF editorial changes. We’ll see! 🙂
Finally, if you missed it last week: we heard some REALLY good news. The latest Top 101 Websites for Writers are out in the current Writer’s Digest. Below is the cover and our inclusion!
As always, I hope you had a great weekend.
Beelzebub by Hilary Ayshford
I have a new friend! I open my eyes and he is there on the pillow, near my nose, staring at me. He’s very shy. As soon as I move, he’s gone. I shall call him Archie.
The noise he makes is really annoying, but it is his way of talking to me. It takes me a little while to understand him, but we have some long chats now. I tell him my name is Skinny Runt and ask him if he likes the name Archie. He says he’s never been called anything before, so it’s all the same to him. I don’t think he really understands what a name is.
I don’t know where he came from or how he got in here. He keeps trying to escape, though – throwing himself against the window so hard I’m scared he’ll hurt himself. I’ve told him there’s no point because the window doesn’t open, and even if I was strong enough, I couldn’t break it because of the bars. But he doesn’t give up.
I don’t try to escape any more. The window is too high up, and even if I stand on the stool and look out all, I can see is sky. The sun through the bars makes diamond shapes on the wooden floor. I sit on the bed and count them. I don’t know any numbers bigger than ten, though, so I use the same ones over and over again.
I think Archie must have come in when they opened the door to bring my food or empty the bucket, but that can’t be right, because nobody has come up here for ages, not since there was all the banging and shouting downstairs. I heard the car drive away, but I don’t think it’s come back, unless it was while I was asleep. I’ve tried banging on the door and shouting, but nobody comes. It just makes my throat sore, and my water jug is nearly empty.
Archie is getting brave. Just now he came and sat on my arm. It made the hairs tickle. Then he moved onto my face, walking over my lips, and sitting in the corners of my eyes. I sneezed when he tried to crawl up my nose, though, which made him fly up to the ceiling. I hope I didn’t scare him too much.
It’s very smelly in here. I think it must be the bucket, although it could be me because I’m too weak now to get off the bed when I need to go to the toilet. Archie doesn’t seem to mind; in fact, he seems to like the stinky bucket because he spends a lot of time flying in circles round it.
I think Archie is sick. He is lying on his back on the bedside cabinet, not moving. When I reach out and touch him or blow on him, he whizzes round really, really fast then lies still again. But even if he dies, I won’t be alone because he has brought some of his friends to see me. There are eight of them now, and they all look just like him with shiny eyes, glossy wings and beautiful blue-green bodies. I can’t tell them apart, so I call them all Archie.
I am very thirsty. I’m hungry as well, but even if there was any food, I couldn’t eat it because my tongue is stuck to the top of my mouth and my lips are cracked and bleeding. The sore places on my bad leg are oozing the green stuff again. It hurts so much when I move that I stay as still as I can.
The Archies are trying to help by kissing the sores better, but it doesn’t make any difference. There are lots and lots of them now – so many that they cover the whole window, and I can’t tell whether it’s day or night. I can’t count them because I don’t want to move my head, and anyway, they don’t keep still long enough.
They are clustered on my pillow, whispering in my ears. Come with us, they say, fly away from here. I tell them I can’t because the window is too small, even for a Skinny Runt like me to get through, and it’s too high, and I can’t fly because I don’t have wings like they do. But they want me to try, so I do. And then I am in the air, floating near the ceiling, looking down at myself on the bed. Am I dead? I don’t think I can be, because my eyes are still open, and there are ripples of movement under the sheet.
The buzzing in my head gets so loud I scream, but it comes out as a croak. Then everything fades into silence as I drift away, out through the closed, barred window.
Hilary Ayshford is a former science editor based in Kent in the UK. She writes mainly micro and flash fiction, and short stories across a variety of genres. Her work has been published by Retreat West, Funny Pearls and Pure Slush, among others. She is currently attempting her first novella-in-flash.
Xeron scratches her wrist. Luminescent droplets spurt, splattering her face. She knows not to ingest. T.H.E.Y. inserted the T28 safety chip in her wrong hand. Innocently? Doubtful, but impossible to prove. She bandages the necrotic swelling; leakage is perilous. Only in her thirteenth decade with nineteen babies to seed; she is way too young to terminate. She sighs. Desperate to reach the life-charging station, but with fuel reserves empty, her chances are slim. She perseveres. She has to. T.H.E.Y are waiting…watching…smirking. Xeron’s wrist violently erupts, shooting lethal citrine down her choking throat. She silently screams… illuminating… for the final time.
Dark earth stirs in the misty graveyard, soil tumbling up out of the ground, like ghastly mole hills of prodigious size. Fleshless arms reach out, fingers grasping the empty air. A boundless, inhuman hunger gnaws at guts long ago rotted away, driving the dead to rise from their dreamless sleep.
Figures with eyeless faces shamble forth from their posthumous homes, seeking relatives as dead as they, hungering for flesh.
The gravedigger watches from his hut as they stagger by, grateful for the first time in decades he died long ago.
By dawn, the village is as empty as the graves.
DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines around the world, such as Chilling Horror Short Stories (Flame Tree), All The Petty Myths (18th Wall), Steampunk Cthulhu (Chaosium), What Dwells Below (Sirens Call), The Horror Zine’s Book of Ghost Stories (Hellbound Books), and EOM: Equal Opportunity Madness (Otter Libris), and issues of Sirens Call, Hypnos, Occult Detective Magazine, parABnormal, and Weirdbook, and in addition, has a novella available in paperback and on the Kindle, The Yellow House (Dunhams Manor).
Snow slanted across the road, so thick Kerry could see only a few yards. Her headlights lit up skeletal trees, twig-arms a tunnel to drive down. These were dangerous bends. Lots of accidents over the years.
The figure emerged from nowhere. Kerry swerved and slid, a blur of trees before the jarring impact.
Blood was warm on her face. Nearby, the shadowy figure stood unmoving, watching. Then it faded into the whiteout and was gone.
Later, icy cold, Kerry arose from the wreckage. Feet not touching the ground, she drifted into the road to take her turn in the chain.
Simon Kewin is the author of over 100 published short and flash stories. His works have appeared in Analog, Nature, Daily Science Fiction, Abyss and Apex and many more. He is also the author of a growing number of novels. He lives deep in the English countryside. Find him at simonkewin.co.uk and as @SimonKewin on Twitter.
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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.