Trembling With Fear 05/23/21

Did I say I was moving last week? I think we’ve moved a millimetre nearer to Wales since last time so I am trying to keep myself distracted by finding other things to do beyond packing boxes. The distraction last weekend was my birthday and I’d like to thank everyone again for all the kind wishes I received on Facebook and twitter. I allowed myself to switch off for most of the weekend and just read and that was wonderful. I’ve signed up for StokerCon this weekend so I might ‘see’ some of you there, though as in real-life I’ll probably spend my time wandering around getting lost. I’ve got back into a novel I’m writing and sent a few stories out. If some of you are experiencing a run of rejection – I’m there with you, I’m having a bit of a bad time on that front, especially when a number got the ‘close but no cigar’ response. Picking myself up and dusting myself down is proving tough this time round but I’ll get there – I hope you do to! And to cheer myself up, I’m off to Waterstones again but this time, the café is open. Sitting in a bookshop with a coffee is one of my happy places.

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.

Trembling with Fear starts this week with Charlie’s Adventures with Hair by David Berger. This story is an absolute delight. An original premise, easy flowing conversational tone, humour and undercurrents of darkness. Wonderful.

Bone Deep Cut by Kevin M. Folliard considers life choices and the consequences. I particularly enjoyed the choice of career which allowed some clever imagery.

Escape Room by DJ Tyrer brings us a cruel twist of fate when pretence becomes reality.

My Second Husband by K.A. Williams is a nice little revenge tale. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!

Enjoy our stories and send in yours!

Steph

 

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

What a roller coaster of a week.
Non-stop showings on the house have kept me working remotely for the day job which has been a bit hectic (not to mention that hasn’t helped keeping things updated here, though I’ve been able to manage!)
To reiterate Steph above, we’re primarily looking for drabble, serials, and Unholy Trinities at this time! There has been a flood of amazing short stories the past few months and unless we revise printing 1 a week, we need to slow down the flood. (Not a horrible problem to have!)
As to progress on the revised layout, with everything above I have not been able to make much there, though I do have ideas so hopefully we’ll be able to roll out a couple of the changes soon.
Catch you all next week!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Charlie’s Adventures with Hair by David Berger

I – RAPUNZEL

You want to know about the turban, Charlie? I’ll show you in a minute. No, it’s not cancer. I have a full head of hair: and it’s the most amazing hair you’ll ever see!

What, Charlie? You want to see it now? Sure, but let me explain first.

I’m a Rapunzel, Charlie. No, Charlie, not that silly girl locked up in a tower. I’m a Rapunzel. A special person; a creature. 

Watch me unwrap it, Charlie. You ever see hair that color red?

Beautiful coils, eh, Charlie? Soft, thick and heavy. Let me uncoil them for you. Watch! I can do it without even touching them. It just sort of whips off my neck. It’s amazing, isn’t it, Charlie?

Isn’t lovely, how the coils wrap themselves around your neck … Charlie.

II – MARILYN

Oh, Charlie, do you really like my hair blonde like this? It’s actually colored, y’know. 

Yeah, I know but it looks real.

What, Charlie? You want to know the original color? Why?

Well, actually, that’s quite a story.

Y’see, Charlie, I’m not from around here at all?

Where am I from? You wouldn’t know the name. And it’s in another language. My language. You noticed my accent, I hope.

So, what color is my hair originally? Well, actually … . 

Right! See how I can change it just like that, without any chemicals, and without even touching it. That’s wild, isn’t it, Charlie?

I change some other things about myself besides my hair, Charlie?

What things? Well lie down on the bed, and I’ll show you. 

That’s right, Charlie. Let me roll you in my four lovin’ arms.

III – MEDUSA

Don’t ask me why I’m bald, Charlie. I keep it that way deliberately. It’s a long story that you’ll never hear. Just accept that I like it this way. Okay?

A wig? Why should I wear a wig? I choose to be bald, and that should be enough for you. Take or leave it, Charlie, ’cause what you see is all you’re gonna get.

A tattoo on top? Now that’s an interesting idea. Actually, that’s the first interesting thing you’ve said so far. What kind of tat do you think would be right?

A snake of some sort? Hey, maybe. That’s another good idea. One of those Indian snakes with the body of a snake and the torso of a woman. Or maybe a Medusa. Y’know, with snakes for hair: nice, blue, wiggly snakes. What d’you think of that? Float your boat?

Don’t care for that, huh? Well then, Charlie, just be happy with my shaved head. Or you’d be a very unhappy man.

IV – SELKY

Hi. What’s your name? 

Charlie? That’s a nice name.

Yeah, I do have a lot of body hair, Charlie. And I keep it short on top, like a cap. 

Wow, surf’s pretty rough, tonight. And it’s real dark. Moon’s not up yet. I like that.

Yup, Charlie, my bathing suit’s the same color as my body hair. You can hardly tell where one begins and the other ends. 

You know any folk tales from around here, Charlie? Oh, you’re not from around here? Well, there’s lots of old stories about the selkies. Ever heard of them? 

Well, they’re sort of half human and half seal. They live in the sea, mostly. But sometimes they come up on the land to look for human mates.

Take my arm, Charlie. Let’s walk down to water’s edge. Yeah, I know I feel all soft, almost like I’m blubbery. Feel, the water, tickling your toes? 

Yes, that’s a big wave coming. No, let’s stand here and let it wash over us. It’ll be okay. Don’t worry, Charlie. You’re safe. I’ll hold you real tight.

David Berger

David Berger is an old guy from Brooklyn, now living in Manhattan with his wife of 25 years: the best jazz singer in NYC. He is a father and grandfather.  He has been, among other things, a case worker, construction worker, letter carrier, high school and ESL teacher, a legal proofreader and a union organizer.  Loves life, his wife and the world. Hopes to help the latter escape destruction.

David has been published by Verso with his graphic history of American bohemia: ‘Bohemians’, co-written by Paul Buhle and by DRABBLE for his works ‘Invisible Dudeand ‘Statuary’. His story, Ghoul Days, features in The Sirens Call ezine, Issue 45

Bone-Deep Cut

The butcher’s son cut deep when he abandoned his father to join the traveling theatre.

“Acting is no future, son! Blood, meat, and sustenance provide consistency.”

But butchery wasn’t in the boy’s bones. He craved the stage.

For twelve months, the handsome lad performed to the delight of audiences. He tasted pleasures and savored the mountains and distant shores. 

When the troop circled home, he found his father’s shop teeming with flies. Dead of grief, Dad had spoiled like a slab of meat.

His director dismissed him. “There’s no comedy in grieving eyes.”

The boy buried his past and future.

Kevin M. Folliard

Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose fiction has been collected by The Horror Tree, Flame Tree Publishing, The Dread Machine, and more. His recent publications include his novella “Tower of Raven” from Demain Publishing, his 2020 horror anthology The Misery King’s Closet, and his YA fantasy adventure novel Grayson North: Frost-Keeper of the Windy City coming from Dark Owl Publishing December 2021. Kevin currently resides in the weterun suburbs of Chicago, where he enjoys his day job as an academic writing advisor and active membership in the La Grange and Brookfield Writers Groups. When not writing or working, he’s usually reading Stephen King, playing Street Fighter, or traveling the U.S.A.

 

Escape Room

His role in the escape room tableau: Zombie chained to the wall.

The longer the players took escaping, the longer his chains grew. Take too long and he’d seize them – game over!

He loved his job.

Until, things went awry…

It began with one of the players looking ill, sweating and shivering.

Great!

Still, he did his best. Professional.

Then, the player… turned, and he was no longer the only zombie in the room.

It bit the others in a frenzy, then came for him.

Tangled in his chains, he realised the irony: This was one room he wouldn’t escape…

DJ Tyrer

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 CallHypnosOccult Detective MagazineparABnormal, and Weirdbook, and in addition, has a novella available in paperback and on the Kindle, The Yellow House (Dunhams Manor).

DJ Tyrer’s website is at https://djtyrer.blogspot.co.uk/

The Atlantean Publishing website is at https://atlanteanpublishing.wordpress.com/

My Second Husband

My husband always came home late and said he’d been working overtime at the office. Right. If that’s what Dan called making love to his secretary on the sofa bed.

He thought I was asleep and didn’t hear all those whispered phone calls in the middle of the night. Tonight Dan came home late as usual. 

“Sorry you had to work overtime again.” I microwaved his dinner.

“Thanks, honey. New recipe?” he asked, after the first bite.

“Yes.” I smiled as I watched him enjoy his last meal. “Ever wonder how my first husband died?” I checked the kitchen clock.

KA. Williams

K.A. Williams has had more than 90 speculative or mystery/crime or general fiction stories published over the years in many magazines including Trembling with Fear, Mystery Tribune, Yellow Mama, Black Petals and many more. She also won an Editor’s Choice Award for prose in 2009 in The Rockford Review. Apart from writing, the author enjoys listening to music (especially rock), playing computer chess and text adventure games on the smartphone and reading other people’s work.

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Stephanie Ellis

Stephanie Ellis is a member of the HWA and writes dark speculative prose and poetry which has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her work includes the novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel and the gothic novella, Bottled, both via Silver Shamrock Publishing.She can be found at https://stephanieellis.org/ and on twitter @el_Stevie.

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