Submission Guidelines – don’t groan. Please can I politely ask anyone who submits to just check over their work against our guidelines before they send it in. One bugbear of mine is having to deal with stories sent within an email. Our submissions procedure involves transferring stories into an ‘Unread’ file, really easy to do with an attachment but when it’s within an email, I have to cut and paste it from the email into a new document. Another dislike, which luckily doesn’t happen too often, is writing content which is too ‘extreme’ for TWF. Yes, we publish horror and yes, there is violence and pain and scary stuff but no erotica, porn or graphic sex and definitely no child abuse. Remember to check your word counts as well for longer flash stories. We are flexible but there is still a limit. If you want to sub a longer story, look at turning it into a serial. We could do with a few more of those. And my last moan, please could I also ask that if you are going to write to us, give us a name to reply to – even if you use initials as your byline. I feel extremely awkward just replying to someone with a ‘Hi’ because I don’t know their name, I feel as though I’m being rude (it’s that very British thing about good manners😊). I know I’ve said some of this before but …
Now on a happier note, I’d like to say thank you to everyone for their birthday wishes recently. I had a lovely day and increased my TBR pile considerably. One of the books was Guillermo del Torro and Chuck Hogan’s The Night Eternal. It is the last instalment of a vampire trilogy which so far, I would highly recommend. I am aware it is a TV series but I haven’t been able to catch that yet. I should be reading a book for review but I snuck this one in ahead. I’ve still got a while to the deadline …
And finally, here’s a website I would recommend http://gingernutsofhorror.com/index.html. Whilst reviewing books, films and working tirelessly to support all things horror, they also offer writers guest post slots amongst other features. Follow them via twitter @jimbomcleod.
As you read this, I am on vacation so I’m going to keep it short and sweet (that has been happening a lot lately hasn’t it? The short and sweet, not the vacations.)
I hope you all have a great weekend getting your writing in and would love to see some serials hit our inbox if anyone else is interested in contributing any!
‘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.
“Do this: and you will live.”
Our city lives – just – I can hear its slow heartbeat: the metronome from the radio that ticks once every two seconds, broadcast when there is no music and nothing to say.
I open the kitchen drawer. I know which knife Mama meant.
They have carried her down the stairs and put her on the sledge. We drew lots: Papa, Tyotka; Nadia. It fell to me – Nadia – to take her across the park. She’ll stay there until the spring when the earth softens and she can have a proper burial.
Tiny snow nips my face in the late morning twilight. I take the strain of the rope on my shoulder. The sledge – the one I used to ride, laughing, with Mama – jolts from its frozen grip: we’re moving.
The road crossing is smooth but the park is heavy going. Breaths come laboured through Papa’s woollen scarf. The rope twists into my hands through thin mittens.
“Don’t stop. Keep going till you get to the fir trees: and you will live.”
But I can’t: the sledge has jammed on a lump in the ground and won’t budge. My strength is gone. My stomach is collapsing; the cold is starting to chew at my fingers.
What do they taste like..?
I fall to my knees: pull the knife from the deep pocket of Papa’s coat: study the rough steel blade.
Mama’s face is hidden: wrapped in a shawl, but the fringe only just covers her neck. She’d meant me to halt just up there, out of the wind: out of sight…
I can’t bear it.
But she’d said, “Nadia, it won’t be the first time I’ve fed you. Just imagine it’s borsch.”
I turn over the knife.
We used to have meat.
I feel sick.
But she’d said, “What if you were an artist? And you spent fourteen years creating something beautiful: something that should live on after you? And then it just curled up and faded away: how would you feel?”
I stab at the lump that’s stopped the sledge.
Paper! You can eat that!
I tear it and stuff it in my mouth: the savoury taste delights.
It’s stuck round something, wrapping it. I thump the block to move it. It crumbles: rich_
I scrabble at the dark, frozen lump: press its fragments to my face, to my open mouth. I shut my eyes: take in the gorgeous scent. A tiny warm spark lights, takes hold, deep inside.
I can keep going…
The man hands me Mama’s outdoor clothes: her fur coat, scarf and boots. He frowns at her bare hands: no rings.
“Would you like tea?”
“No… Thanks. I’d better get back. It’s getting dark.”
His face isn’t yellow and lined.
His hands aren’t bony.
He doesn’t even stoop.
And I’d never have noticed that furtive look if I hadn’t been alert: my senses revived by the bread.
I’ll keep going now.
The siege will lift.
The spring will come.
And we will live.
C.L. Spillard is a complex interplay of matter and energy in wave-patterns whose probability cloud is densest in York, U.K.
The moon landings influenced the young pattern’s self-awareness mechanisms, igniting lifelong interest in Physics and in humanity’s plight on Earth.
C.L. Spillard’s wave-pattern enjoys proximity to a second pattern originating in St Petersburg (Russia), and these two have since generated two younger ones who are now diffusing over the planet stuffing themselves with knowledge as if it were going out of fashion.
C.L. Spillard authored stories published in Mad Scientist Journal, Flash Frontier and three anthologies, the latest being ‘Steampunk Universe’ (ed. Sarah Hans). She has two ‘Science in SF’ pieces on Dan Koboldt’s page.
She claims full responsibility for the recently-published fantasy ‘The Price of Time’.
We could wait them out. Entropy was our ally. Zombies reaved the Earth, so we hid and waited. For however strong, savage, unstoppable, the zombies were necrotizing tissue. Dead flesh and bone, animated yet decomposing. We pledged patience, enduring while the zombies decayed. We forgot about formaldehyde. Zombies didn’t rise the moment life’s spark fled, they sat up on funeral homes’ steel tables, veins filled with tissue fixatives. So obvious in hindsight. When the first zombies attacked, they drew close and claimed their victims easily, because they hardly looked dead at all. Smooth skin, rosy cheeks: their makeup was flawless.
Dale W. Glaser
DALE W. GLASER is a collector, re-teller and occasional inventor of fantasy tales. He requires air, food, water and stories in order to survive, not necessarily in that order. His lifelong love of written words has manifested as a devotion to the English language almost exclusively, which is probably just as well because if he were to master any of the dead tongues that conceal ancient mysteries and invoke malevolent forces, we’d all be in trouble. His short stories have been published in magazines such as Cheapjack Pulp, Occult Detective Quarterly, and Trysts of Fate, as well as anthologies such as Final Masquerade, Eldritch Embraces and Carnival of Fear. He currently lives in Virginia with his wife and three children. He can be found online at https://dalewglaser.wordpress.com.
“We need a Peninsula Trail map,” Bobby told the store clerk.
“I can show you,” old Eugene offered, waving a wrinkled hand towards clouded blue eyes. “Sight’s gone, but I’ve walked the trail for years.”
Bobby and Sarah hesitated, shared a skeptical look, and accepted.
Eugene guided them along ocean cliffs leading down into lush green woods.
“It’s beautiful,” Sarah commented, embarrassed for doubting their guide.
Later, wiping the blood off his fresh, young skin, Eugene blinked with Bobby’s brown eyes. They were still sensitive in his skull, but harvesting the couple had revitalized him. Every sight felt new again.
Catherine Berry lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. When she isn’t working, she’s spending time with loved ones or satisfying her varied hobbies. Her work has previously been published in Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear.
More of her work can be found at www.caterinaberyl.blogspot.com
I Cannot Allow You To Touch Me
Why not? What will happen? Will you disintegrate, vampire-style? I won’t simply stretch out my hand; I respect your words. But I need to know. Are you a ghost? A virtual being inside a computer?
Some questions demand answers. Before she left, my wife said I’m obsessed. Do I only hallucinate you? But you aren’t even my type. Infectious disease? Just tell me! You owe me that much, after all you’re costing me.
You’ve left me no choice but to stage this accident. Take my hand and live, refuse and drop thirty storeys. Come on, let me find out. Please …
The Half Elf’s Triumph
Zelly bent to the stream, cupping water to wash dirt and blood from her face.
One eye swollen shut, it was a battle well fought.
Her kind wasn’t known to take on a troll single-handedly.
A deep rumble caused her to turn.
The troll stirred.
Dark magic now animated the corpse.
Grasping her halberd, there was no time to think.
Racing past the undead as it steadied itself.
Into the forest beyond.
In the shadows, the enchanter was lost in his possession of the beast.
As her ax swung down, it would be the last mistake he ever made.
All Fathers, Cthulhu, Gods, Demons, all fall before Stuart as he goes about his daily routine!
Well, his pen at least.
Now if he could only have “The End” fall into the last page of his current WIP!
Your resident Horror Tree editor has snuck in a drabble past Steph this week and hopes you enjoy!