Rejections. I talked about them recently. What I didn’t mention was the ‘theory of twelve’ I discovered via a Facebook thread. I discussed this with Alyson Faye, a regular contributor to Horror Tree and TWF. A number of authors/editors on FB subscribe to the view that a story will usually get published by the time you reach the 12th submission of said story. (I wish I could remember whose thread it was so I could credit them properly!) Aly and I tend to sub a story a lot less than this before we move onto something new but it left me wondering if there was anything in it. So I am testing the theory with one particular story. It has received 2 rejections and is now out on its 3rd submission – 9 more to go perhaps? Sadly any updates will have to wait because this particular submission takes 6-8 weeks before I get a response. But it will be interesting to test the idea all the same. There was also the view you should have between 15-20 short stories out circulating in the ether at any one time. Um … I’ve got several but not sure I could achieve this rate. Anyone else care to test the ‘theory of twelve’?

Continuing with my visitations of various contributor websites, I dropped by that belonging to Kevin M. Folliard http://www.kevinfolliard.com/blog/ – 5 drabbles and 2 shorts accepted/published with TWF 2018. (A little way to go to reach RJ Meldrum with his 9 drabbles and 2 shorts but still prolific – when I have a moment, I will check out the status of our ‘league’ table). This in turn led me to an interview carried out with Hinnom Magazine which not only made Kevin a more ‘real’ person to me but demanded I read the story they were talking about (White Noise). What did I do? I bought a copy of the magazine and I look forward to reading it.

I hope that, like me, when you enjoy an author’s story, you check out their websites, read a little more about them, maybe buy their other works.

Remember to let us know of your successes and we will share them here – or perhaps why not go one better and write a guest post for Horror Tree?

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Oh, my, god, Becky, look at her book
It is so big, she looks like
One of those writer guys’ girlfriends
But, ya know, who understands those writer guys?
They only talk to her, because,
She looks like a total bookworm, ‘kay?
I mean, her book, is just so big
I can’t believe it’s just so full of words, it’s like out there
I mean gross, look
She’s just so, smart

Yes, I’ve lost what little is left of my mind.

‘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.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Catch Me

Charlotte was ready. Coat and boots on she stood in the doorway like a horse waiting to bolt.

She looked back into the room. It was always the same; Harry, still in the bathroom, reluctant to go, but she would be late if she didn’t set off now.

Charlotte called through the steam of the shower.

“It starts at eight. Kings Arms Pub, then onto the riverside trails. Catch up with me.”

“‘Kay,” came the reply.

A sizeable crowd had assembled inside and outside the Kings Arms, many with a drink in hand. Charlotte wasn’t inclined to enter the pub alone and hung around at the back of the group to wait for Harry.

Out of the shadows boomed Ray’s voice. Garbed head to toe in black, his tiny pinched smoky face the only variation in shade. On closer scrutiny even his lips appeared grey; a cavernous gateway to the raven-coloured chasm displayed when he spoke.

Ray welcomed everyone theatrically and beckoned the crowd closer, inviting and enticing them with his tales of spirits and tortured souls from the city’s past.

Charlotte was reluctant to move away from the back of her group in case Harry couldn’t see her but she found herself being pushed further inside as the pub dwellers made their way outside.

“Come forward if you dare. Payment into the hat. If you please.”

Said hat was thrust under Charlotte’s nose. She jerked her head backward, slightly disturbed by the peculiar man. He tilted his head and peered at her from the sides of his eye. She quickly paid and he flitted away in a flurry of cloak.

Hurry up, Harry’ she thought, but still there was no sign of him as the ghost tour began.

Back in the hotel Harry rushed around hunting for the information guide.

Ah, here, pretty sure it’s this one by the river. I must catch them up, shouldn’t be too hard. Oh, she will be cross.

The clock chimed eight fifteen as Harry approached the meeting point. He bent forward to catch his breath then looked around. He supposed they must have set off already and would be somewhere along the riverbank, so he jogged along the track.

Charlotte again sought to break free of the centre of the throng. She picked her way through to the edge of the group as they listened to the storyteller. Turning back, her eyes searched again for Harry. He must be nearby now.

“Dick Turpin rides this path!”

At her ear was Ray, his jaw pecking towards her as he warbled tales of ghostly highwaymen and where to find them.

Ray circled the group making them laugh and jump in equal measure. When he finished his highwaymen tale, he flapped his cloak dramatically around him and took flight to the next destination.

Harry heard the storyteller’s voice and rushed to join the group. He couldn’t see Charlotte; it was so dark. He didn’t want to call out her name as the guide was in the midst of reciting anecdotes of highwaymen and tavern landlords.

Charlotte now found herself forced to the head of the bunch, uncomfortably close to Ray. This was not the evening she had expected. Hopefully Harry would catch up soon.

As the group crossed towards the illuminated tower, she glanced backwards towards the river paths. An unusual looking shadowy clutch of bodies had congregated and amongst them she spied Harry.

Typical. He’s with the wrong party.

Charlotte didn’t remember noticing the other group earlier but gave it little thought. Whilst the others in her party were gazing mesmerised at the tower she stepped out of line to dash back, to grab Harry so they could continue the tour together.

“Where are you going?” twittered Ray, creepily close again. Before she could explain he folded his foisty black coverings around her; earthy warmth clinging to her shoulders smelling of rot.

“Let me take you under my wing.”

Harry now realised he was not where he should be. Raising his head above the others he observed a large figure swoop upon Charlotte. Angry at both his own tardiness and the stranger’s manhandling of his girl, Harry lunged through the bodies. They reacted angrily.

Thunderous beating sounds pounded his ears. He was drawn backwards, hauled in by frenzied beings, pecked and clawed. Harry stumbled, his jacket ripped from him. He was snared and as the trampling began, he submitted to the terror.

Ray moved slowly into the tower shadows, he resumed his tour speech pulling Charlotte inside his greasy feathered overcoat. Its fluffy inner warmth muffled Charlotte’s cries and smothered her. She became weak.

Rumbling of heavy boots over towards the tower stirred panic within Ray and he flapped away to the shadows, taking Charlotte with him.

The apologetic boot-wearer, Pat, announced himself to the crowd as their guide for the evening. He had been delayed … profound apologies … was everyone okay?

A puzzled member of the group began to talk about their guide Ray when a screech of pain illuminated the night air. An enormous dark hooded shadow clumsily took flight. Within its clutches there appeared a woman, lifted higher and then upwards to the sky.

Gasps of astonishment, applause and appreciation for the amazing act twittered through the crowd. Only the current host, Pat, remained silent.

Harry’s eyes scanned the skies. He watched Charlotte’s captor, now in full raven form, settled on a pillar with his prey.

Harry used one last surge of strength and propelled his suffering frame across the ground, fleeing the grasp of his own murderous flock.

Harry cried out and caught off guard, Ray loosened his grip. Charlotte fell.

The commotion caused crowds of bodies to surge around the river trails.

Harry’s torturous group morphed into their natural forms and screeched away across the skies followed by a large, dejected raven.

A whisper breezed through the trees. “Catch me Harry.”

Charlotte’s fall was broken by a tree, before she plunged towards the ground.

Harry stretched out his arms but, arrived late.

He died from his mysterious injuries, soon after Charlotte.

The storyteller now has a new tale to tell of The Raven, the Girl and her Sweetheart.

If you look carefully, through the trees, near the tower, you might just glimpse two chasing shadows, one trying to catch up with the other.

Joanne Campbell

Joanne Campbell lives in Yorkshire in the North of England and write short stories and flash fiction with an ambition to eventually pen a novel. Her passion is and always has been for the dark, supernatural, spooky world.

She loves discovering tales from ‘new’ writers and have found some great talent out there such as Michael Leese author of Going Underground (Jonathan Roper British autistic detective) who she discovered via a Kindle free offer.

Some of her flash fiction stories has been published in two anthologies by Otley writers –

‘The Pulse of Everything’ and ‘The Darkening Season.’ Both are available to buy on Amazon.

Her aim for the coming year is to update her newly set up Word Press blog https://jocampbellcreepycreations.wordpress.com and begin that novel.

Contact

The house was reputedly haunted. We decided to explore.
“Hold my hand,” she whispered.
We climbed the stairs. The landing was pitch black.
“I don’t like this,” she said.
Her hand slipped away. Blindly, I reached out. For a few frozen moments I couldn’t find her. I encountered a hand in the darkness.
“Let’s go,” I said.
I lead the way, back towards the top of the stairs. I looked down. She was standing near the open front door. She glanced up at me, her face terrified. I stood, frozen in a paroxysm of fear. Whose hand was I holding?

RJ Meldrum

R. J. Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010 with his wife Sally. His interest in the supernatural is a lifetime obsession and when he isn’t writing ghost stories, he’s busy scouring the shelves of antique book-sellers to increase his collection of rare and vintage supernatural books. During the winter months, he trains and races his own team of sled dogs.
He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Digital Fiction and James Ward Kirk Fiction.
You can find out more about RJ at his homepage.

Pillow Talk

Beloved hush now. Do not struggle so. You cannot break the binds that tie. Lay your head upon the pillow I’ve fetched from our marital bed. Here be a dozen candles for you to see by. Let me wrap you in your second favourite woollen cloak, lest you catch a chill from the earth seeping into your casket. Here is my final bequest; the gift of light. A box of Lucifers. Aptly named.

Remember to bid the Devil, ‘Hello’. I am sure you will be seeing him. Do use these strikes sparingly. You have eternity, my love.

Rest in peace.

Alyson Faye

Alyson lives in West Yorkshire with her family and 3 rescue cats. She teaches creative writing classes, writes noir Flash Fiction and ghost stories. She is one of the writers in ‘Women in Horror Annual 2’, in Raging Aardvark’s ‘Twisted Tales’, her stories can be downloaded at www.alfiedog.com as well as being available on various sites like zeroflash/Tubeflash/101 words/three drops from a cauldron. Her flash fiction debut collection, ‘Badlands’ is out now from indie publisher Chapeltown Books – here’s the interview http://www.chapeltownpublishing.uk/2018/01/badlands-by-alyson-faye.html and is available to buy from amazon.

You can find out more on her blog- www.alysonfayewordpress.wordpress.com

or at her amazon author page http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01NBYSLRT

Premonition

I wake to agony. I’m inside a coffin. I hear the crackling, feel the heat. It takes seconds to realize my wife has done this. Drugged me, got her pet doctor to sign the certificate and then cremated me. I thump against the wood, but it’s too late. I’m done for.

I wake to cool sheets and a sense of relief. Just a nightmare. My wife and the doctor peer down at me.  She smiles.

“You know, I do believe he knows our plans.”

“Impossible. We’ve been too careful.”

I see the syringe in his hand. I try to scream.

RJ Meldrum

R. J. Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010 with his wife Sally. His interest in the supernatural is a lifetime obsession and when he isn’t writing ghost stories, he’s busy scouring the shelves of antique book-sellers to increase his collection of rare and vintage supernatural books. During the winter months, he trains and races his own team of sled dogs.
He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Digital Fiction and James Ward Kirk Fiction.
You can find out more about RJ at his homepage.

Red Was His Colour

Red was his colour. Red rags, red mist, red-handed. Dawn had worn his brand for years on her crimson-slashed back and maroon-masked stomach, a heart in a bruise, bleeding. She longed for a change, anything to wash away the stain. She preferred ivory, its cold tone, its sense of peace; the grave-bound bones of the babies she had denied him wore this shade. Dawn made his new bed alongside them, earthy and shallow, ready for him to lie in it. She poured him a glass of his favourite red and added granules of ivory. A poisonous combination. Like their marriage.

Stephanie Ellis

Stephanie Ellis is a UK-based writer of dark fiction. Her poems, short stories and novella have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies. She has written a novel which she is hoping to get published and is currently at work on a second. Steph is an active member of the FlashDogs flash fiction online writing community and is also co-editor at The Infernal Clock, a fledgling publishing effort which has so far produced two well-received anthologies, The Infernal Clock and CalenDark, The Infernal Almanac. She reviews ARCs on occasion for Crystal Lake Publishing, is on the review team at HorrorAddicts.net, and is a beta reader. Steph currently works with secondary school students developing their literacy skills. In the past she worked as a senior software author in a technical publications company. She lives in Southampton with her husband and 3 children.
https://stephellis.weebly.com/

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About Stuart Conover

Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!

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