Trembling With Fear 05/16/21
I’m moving! I hope. Two possible dates given as I write this. If things get slightly delayed in terms of responses from me for TWF, this is why. Hopefully the move goes smoothly and I get internet sorted relatively quickly, but who knows, the way this year has gone! In the meantime, the boxes around me are multiplying. I’m still trying to write but this is all very distracting.
I’m also another year older. Fifty-seven yes, but age is completely irrelevant in the writing industry as far as I’m concerned – nobody is ever too old.
Before we go to the stories, here’s my usual weekly reminder to check out the submission guidelines for TWF. Also remember we are currently closed to short stories (unless for one of the Specials) but open to drabbles, unholy trinities and serials.
Our first story in Trembling With Fear this week is Mare Factory by Daniel Purcell. I really enjoyed the way it was told, almost as if in confidence, inviting you in to join in the horror and madness as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Find Me by Toshiya Kamei continues to introduce us to a story fixed in another culture which I love. I don’t even mind looking up unknown words, it keeps things fresh and broadens my knowledge.
Parting by Patrick Winters is an ending with a difference, beautifully written.
Puddle of Blood by Kim Plasket is a piece submitted as prose but the formatting gave it a poetic form and I read it as such. The idea of this puddle being observed and not claimed, waiting for the guilty party is something that particularly grabbed me.
Enjoy our stories and send in yours!
For those who have asked, the entire house situation has gone sideways. I’ll shoot out an update when we know exactly what is happening. Needless to say, that has been all time-consuming as of late.
That being said, you may have noticed the site responding quite a bit quicker! We’ve got both new resources on the back end and the front end which will hopefully have response times up. If you do come across any strange things, do reach out so we can make sure they are fixed asap! Our temporarily new front page layout will likely be able to go up quicker due to these speed increases. Huzzah!
As to Trembling With Fear, we’re eagerly looking for new drabble and the new anthology (I know that I’ve said this before) is getting much closer! 🙂
I hope you all have a great weekend and upcoming week!
Mare Factory by Daniel Purcell
Excuse me, may I help you? You seem lost, troubled. Though my appearance, which even I must admit shouldn’t grace the light of day, doesn’t seem to repulse you like it does everyone else. The Mare Folk, as I call them, did this to me. Literally the stuff of nightmares. Once, it was all sunshine and roses. Before they took away Momma and Papa and Brother, that is.
Go on, take a seat in front of me, just on the porch step there. Don’t mind that flickering Jack-o’-lantern leering down at you from my windowsill, the warmth making your cheeks ruddy, and the skeleton thing sitting in the chair opposite. It’s Halloween, of course: the most auspicious of nights for the Mare Folk and I. The time and place where it has to happen.
Quite the place as well, isn’t it? Momma and Papa did it up real good, God bless their souls. Even for someone of your persuasion and colorful background, you can see why it creeps the bejesus out of the kiddies. Yet they just can’t help themselves. Especially tonight.
Gosh, you’re something else, kiddo. Haven’t blinked once since checking out those big front doors, bearded with old lichen, blanched and a-crawl with all sorts of creepies. Nor when that wretched, shadowy thing twitched the rag of a curtain in the lounge window to see who’s outside. Never mind when old Bones, there, in the corner proffered a smile with that too-tight face which doesn’t quite sit right. I’d say ignore it when the things squirm under his flesh, but you aren’t perturbed one bit, are you?
Good, that’s the right answer. Let me begin then, shall I?
The Mare Factory, as I call this old shack right here, didn’t use to be like this — not when I was just a kiddo like those lot running past right now. We were new in town, and it thrilled me when Momma and Papa bought this old colonial palace for Brother and I. It was pristine when we’d moved and finished settling in. The talk of the street, so we were.
But not long after moving in, things changed real quick. They thought the house was the root cause of it, but it wasn’t. It was the nightmares, the Mare Folk. They tormented me for months; Momma and Papa were at the end of their tether with my night terrors, and Brother wasn’t sleeping either. And then I realized that They needed the power of fear, something — or, more, someone — to keep them alive, give them purpose. You can’t treat them like monsters (that’s just what the narratives have you believe.)
Do not enter. Come inside. You want this. Play, haunt, like us. What is it? You hear them? They like to pry, if you let them.
Back to it. Momma told me once, one night after I’d woken from a nightmare, that if you pull the covers up over you nice and tight, the monsters can’t get you. That was when I realized Momma and Papa were liars. After she left, I fell back asleep again, the soft snoring of Brother across the room having a soporific effect (he had his uses.) Then, the hand of Mr. Grimes the Clown, just from my dream, spidered along my duvet and ripped it away, waking me up.
I sat bolt-upright and went to call Momma, but the clown covered my mouth with a rancid hand. There was a loud thudding in my ears. The clown’s eyes were wild, and he stooped from a great height, wearing a capacious jester outfit. Around his neck was a white ruff and above that his white face paint was besmirched, uneven black smeared around his eyes and lips. A shock of greasy blue hair fizzed down past his ears. His breath stank of mold when he whispered uncanny words to me. Among them was:
“Let me play with your brother and I’ll have a word with the other Mare Folk, to get them to stop,” he told me. “Brother won’t be top of the tree and the favorite in the house anymore. That’s what you want, right, kiddo?”
Next day, Brother didn’t come home from school. There was talk of a crazed clown on the loose; it was on the news and radio. Maybe you heard? Anyway, Momma and Papa blamed me, of course; they always did when it came to matters untoward. Mr. Grimes the Clown said that would happen too — and that they’d never find Brother when they would go to look, desperate, week upon week.
That was just the start, though. I kept having the nightmares, and the monsters kept coming, eager to fulfill their dreadful duty. It wasn’t always in the house when they sought me out either.
On journeys to and from school, things stalked and clawed from storm drains, school lockers, and the shadows beneath vehicles. Once I dreamed them, they existed out there, had autonomy: things with fangs agleam; things with coarse thatches of fur; things mummified and wrapped head to foot; things with lizard-like flesh. And, worst of all, the vast thing from the sky: all jerking appendages and limbs the size of skyscrapers, its maw forever agape and screeching.
More children went missing. Some friends of mine. Momma and Papa feared the worst, especially after Brother, so they kept me off school. A terrible decision indeed.
In the chill of winter, inside the house bloomed a wilderness and, from it, came the tall, gaunt creature. You’ve never seen anything like it. So horrid it is, with misshapen bone stretching its ash-gray flesh, antlers piercing the ceilings, eyes a-large like an owl, sharp talons, and that foul stench of decomposition.
Day and night, Momma said prayers to the Lord, seeking to vanquish the thing that trawled the house — weeping and singing, like the devil incarnate, meat hanging from its tattered lips. All the prayers in the world would never work, though.
There wasn’t much left of Momma and Papa when it stopped toying with them, and I thought that would be it; nobody left to play with but me. But they’ve never stopped. The house is just full of nightmares, clamoring to torment.
Why not destroy the Factory or myself, you ask? I grow to miss them when they’re out to haunt. They’re like family; I need them just as much as they need me, you see. Momma and Papa and Brother were never as generous or loving. Here, in my Factory, I make the nightmares and they always win: no happy endings or silver bullets or holy water or crucifixes to ruin things. Monsters deserve a better end credits, don’t you think? You, of all people, should agree.
Come on, it’s time. Follow me inside. That’s it, step over the threshold and hear the voices, discordant, beckoning.
Take it all in, my Factory: a morbid menagerie of the worst fears, don’t you think?
No, of course you wouldn’t think that, would you? Feels familiar, doesn’t it?
Settle down, settle down. Hmmph. You’re amongst brothers and sisters, but they’re very loyal ones to me. Don’t wanna upset them. Not Mr. Grimes the Clown, jiggling his knife in the corner over there. Nor the Vast One above you. And definitely not the Wendigo in the jungles of the kitchen through there (you can hear that low skittish growl now.)
Good. Now for the pièce de résistance. This is what you’ve been waiting for. I’ve seen the glint in those callous, cavernous eyes of yours. Here, take the mask and wear it proudly. It’s yours, you’re free now. I just couldn’t bear to see you flounder any longer in that asylum. They had clipped such voracious wings and now I’m giving you them back. Don’t waste them.
Ah, is that a flicker of joy I see escape your lips as you pull the mask down? Revel in the fear of all those virgins and kids and couples and jocks and priests that are a-calling. Here, you’ll want this, too. Meat hooks come in handy. Still awash with the warm blood of that Final Boy down in the cellar; he didn’t enjoy sitting with Momma, Papa, Brother, or them children one bit, did he? Test the weight of it and taste the copper. Finish him, stop the screams.
Perfect. Remember how they locked you up, tormented, and you were just another manic voice ignored? Look up, don’t let your head drop in shame. Remember how they didn’t let you play or grow up or smile? Not anymore. Now, you can play Masked Psycho Returning for Revenge on Halloween.
Goodbye. Close the door on your way out. Don’t worry, we’ll be waiting. Embrace the night.
Daniel Purcell lives with his girlfriend in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied English at the University of Liverpool — where he was born — and has travelled extensively around the world, living in America for six months along the way. When he’s not travelling or procrastinating, he mainly enjoys writing and reading speculative fiction. He has upcoming short-fiction being or already published with Farther Stars Than These, three Black Hare Press anthologies (Oceans, Ancients, and Lockdown Sci-Fi #4), 101 Words, a Rogue Planet Press anthology (‘Unexpected Turbulence,’ in the Halloween 2020 edition), Eerie River Publishing (‘The Beast in the Black Isle’ in It Calls From The Forest Volume 2), Iron Faerie Publishing (FAERIE, HEXED, FOUR HORSEMEN: FAMINE and PLAGUE Anthologies), Unity Volume 1: A Magical Realism Anthology, Tritely Challenged Volume 2, and AntipodeanSF (November.)
“Kazuki, where are you?” Shinji singsongs. “Ready or not, here I come!”
I grab a pocket flashlight off Dad’s desk and crawl into the oshiire. I slide the door shut behind me and darkness engulfs me. A musty odor wafts up from the damp futon, and I wrinkle my nose. The shoji screens rustle. Feet slither across the tatami and move away.
I wake to a breeze striking my face. Drops of water drip on my head. With a shaking hand, I pull out the flashlight and flick it on. Limestone pillars tower over me.
“Shinji!” My scream echoes endlessly.
Toshiya Kamei is a fiction writer whose short stories have appeared in Bending Genres, New World Writing, and Utopia Science Fiction, among others.
I’m leaving him. And nothing will stop it from happening.
It’s not my choice. In fact, there is no choice. This is how it has to be. Living the way he has, after all these years, it was always going to end like this.
My time in his life, in his heart, is through.
We say our goodbyes as the bullet tears through his chest and I fly through the air. He falls to the ground, and I continue to pour out of him, pooling and already growing cold.
As he fades, we both wish that things could’ve been different.
Patrick Winters is a graduate of Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL, where he earned a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. His work has now been featured throughout several magazines and anthologies. A full list of his previous publications may be found at his author’s site, if you are so inclined to know: http://wintersauthor.
Puddle of Blood
A small puddle of blood is all that is left of a once-hot love.
Nobody knows how the puddle got there or where the body is but
there is one person who knows. They will never tell but one day their
terrible dark secret may be released into the world.
Karma will come for them I’m sure but until then they will
pass by the puddle each day wondering if they will
ever be caught.
Nobody tries to clean the puddle, they wanted to see if anyone
would admit to it.
A single small puddle left from a forever love.
Kim Plasket enjoys writing horror and paranormal.
YEAR ONE (Dark Moments)
Demonic Carnival: First Ticket’s Free: A Dark Humor Short Story Collection
Demonic Household: See Owner’s Manual: A Dark Humor Short Story
: A Fantastical Funny Adventure
Forgotten Ones: Drabbles of Myth and Legend
Scary Snippets: Christmas Edition; Valentines Day and Halloween
Shades of Santa
The thrill of the Hunt: Buried Alive
: Urban Legends Re-Imagined
: Cabin Fever
Trembling With Fear: More Tales From The Tree
Once Upon Academy: Anthology
Debut Novel: The Forgotten Ones..
With more to come in the next few years….
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
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.