Trembling With Fear 05/29/2022
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!
It’s been a busy week this week. Chillercon – what was to have been Stokercon UK 2020 – has been and gone. I attended all days and took part in a couple of panels: Folk Horror – with James Brogden, Jan Edwards and Paul Kane, and Indie Presses with Justin Park, Gemma Amor and Steve J Shaw. I think it all went well(!). It was also lovely meeting many of the folk I only get to talk to online. Now I’m just wondering if there’s going to be a covid breakout as there was at Stokercon recently! Fingers-crossed this doesn’t happen.
Another bit of good news was the re-release of my folk horror novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel, by Brigids Gate Press. It’s got a lovely new cover and I hope some of you will check it out. I’ve recently completed its sequel and done the first edits on that. I confess to choking up at the end!
I also want to give a callout for more drabbles! We do have a number on file but these are by the same author(s) and so will be spread out over the year. This leaves a bit of a gap. More 100 word delights, please!
Now to Trembling with Fear. Our first story this week is Cold Fireplace by Kevin M. Folliard. This story, told from cat’s perspective, is a beautiful tragedy. The emotion it evokes from the reader as the cat discovers the changes in its owner and how it tries to make sense of its world, is heartbreaking.
Family Dinner by me! A little blood-offering to fill in the gap during our drabble shortage.
Nobody is Home is a great gothic shape poem by J.J. Monro. Appropriate word choice to give it this gothic edge!
The Stalker by Patrick Wynn has a nicely-turned last line to this stalker tale.
I hope you enjoyed our stories, now send us yours!
News on staffing for Trembling With Fear (and Horror Tree) soon!
The Trembling With Fear proof copies are both in! I’m busy going over them and will be setting pre-orders soon. VERY SOON. In the next week soon. More details to come! I also have the rough write up of what we’re looking for in the new theme and will be going through that shortly.
There were some sound issues on our first weekly round-up on our Horror Tree’s YouTube channel. These have been resolved! Please, subscribe to the channel, like the video, and comment on the video if you like it and email any suggestions or thoughts in!
I’m still planning the layout changes which will be similar though slightly expanded to what we currently have. If there are any features or ‘things’ that you would like to see in a new layout, please reach out!
At the request of one of our readers, I’ve added an “Artwork” category, for those of you who are also artists or know some. I haven’t had the time to actively update all of our existing posts into it, though will be adding all future ones as they come in. This can be found quickly as the bottom option under “Non-Anthologies” on the main menu.
As always, I hope you had a great weekend.
Cold Fireplace by Kevin M. Folliard
The cat roused from slumber on the living room chair. The chair smelled like him, and she liked that.
Her wide yawn exposed pearly incisors. She arched her back and, like a dancer preparing to rehearse, she gave a languid stretch of her front legs. She leapt from the chair. Her white feather-duster tail swept the air as she strutted about.
She wondered about the quiet. Was he away? The copper and glass fireplace door hung open, and a chill swept through the living room. Soot dusted the carpet. The cat brushed her face against the doors. Typically, if this door was open, a fire flickered and crackled, and she would curl at the foot of his favorite chair and bask in the heat.
The cold cavern unnerved her. She entered the fireplace and mewed up the shadowy chimney. If she cried out enough, would its warmth return? But she’d tried that already, hadn’t she?
She padded into the kitchen and lapped stale water from her dish. She crunched a few pieces of old food. She wanted new food. She wanted fresh water. This water was too close to the bottom of the bowl. It irritated her whiskers to drink. She meowed in frustration.
Her ears perked at a buzzing noise from upstairs.
Alarm coursed through her. Something bad had happened, hadn’t it? Something she didn’t understand.
She scampered across the living room. Her claws stabbed the carpet extra deep. It had been some time since he’d trimmed them, hadn’t it?
She skidded across the wooden foyer and thundered up the steps. In the upstairs hall, the buzzing grew louder. A black dot circled and landed. Her alarm waned as she tracked its hypnotic path. Translucent wings twitched. The insect hopped, hovered, and landed again. Her head darted to follow.
The cat swatted.
Her amber eyes targeted the bug as it looped and landed again. She hunkered down, imagining invisible tall grass to conceal her. She crept closer. Waited.
The fly rubbed grubby legs. She locked onto its bulging eyes.
Her pink paw slammed the bug. It buzzed and wriggled. She pressed. Released.
The bug scrambled. Crooked wings twitched. She pinned it again. Released. Pinned it again.
She had it! He would be pleased! So pleased that—
More flies lazily circled. They exited and entered his bedroom.
Why hadn’t she slept there? Why had she awoken downstairs on the chair? She always slept on his bed. Then she caught a whiff of the bad smell. It had gotten worse. Stronger. She was remembering the bad problem.
Every time she napped, she forgot.
She tiptoed into his room. Clouds of flies hung over the bed. She mewed with concern. She leapt onto the bed and saw him. Wrong-looking. Yellow skin. Wet eyes. Flies crawled over him.
She hated it so much. She wailed. She pushed her forehead into his palm. She wanted to make his fingers scratch her. But it smelled bad. It felt cold like the fireplace. She wanted to curl by his feet and make him better, to cry until he got up and filled the bowl, but she feared this wrong thing would not stop.
So she hurried downstairs. She slunk past the cold fireplace. The kitchen window cast a rectangle of sun. And there, on warm tiles, she slept.
Kevin M. Folliard
Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose fiction has been collected by The Horror Tree, The Dread Machine, Demain Publishing, Dark Owl Publishing, and more. His recent publications include his horror anthology The Misery King’s Closet, his YA fantasy adventure novel Grayson North: Frost-Keeper of the Windy City, and his 2022 dinosaur adventure novel Carnivore Keepers. Kevin currently resides in the western suburbs of Chicago, IL, where he enjoys his day job in academia and membership in the La Grange Writers Group.
“Do I have to go?” grumbled Kathryn, picturing her friends currently sampling the London nightlife.
“They’re your grandparents. They won’t be around much longer and it’s not as if you’re short of time,” said her mother. “Plus, we’ve our inheritance to protect. They’re our last blood relatives.”
“I thought they’d written you out of the will,” said Kathryn.
“They did, but changed it when Uncle Gerald mistook the maid for a snack.”
“Bet they’ll change their minds again.”
“That’s why we’re visiting. To make sure they don’t. We can grab a bite to eat … and yes, you can drink.”
Stephanie Ellis has been published in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies. Her novellas, Bottled and Paused, and her novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel, have just been republished by Brigids Gate Press. Her found poetry collection, Metallurgy, is due out 16th June -inspired by her love of heavy metal. She is an active member of the HWA. Find her on twitter @el_Stevie.
Nobody is Home
J.J. Monro is a pseudonym used by Australian author and poet James Aitchison. As J J Munro and Mike Rader, Aitchison writes horror and noir crime. As James Lee, he writes Asia’s biggest selling horror series for middle readers — Mr Midnight — which has sold over three million copies. His work can be seen at www.flameoftheforest.com
Steve tried his best to ignore her, but she seemed to always be there. Walking down the street, eating at a restaurant, the movies, the gym or standing outside his apartment she found ways to always be nearby. He wasn’t afraid, he knew she could do little to harm him. Reporting her to the police would just cause him more problems than he wanted. Police would ask questions he didn’t want to answer and if he gave a description of the woman, he knew it would match the missing persons posters and after all maybe he shouldn’t have killed her.
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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 is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on Blue Sky as stephellis.bsky.social.