Trembling With Fear 06/13/21
I’m surrounded by boxes, not so many and this time in Wales. Yes, we’ve finally moved. Contracts exchanged on Monday afternoon, and we moved on Friday. So many delays have made these past six months a stressful time – the worst fear always being the worry the sale was going to fall through, simply because we would go weeks without hearing anything. Still that’s all over and I can try and get my life into some sort of order.
It’s quite good timing as I’ve just put the first draft of a novel aside to rest. This is allowing me to get on, not just with the move, but also with the first of the novellas I owe Silver Shamrock. In terms of reading, I’ve finished Catherine McCarthy’s short story collection, Mists and Megaliths and T.C. Parker’s novella Salvation Spring. Very different to each other, they are both excellent reads.
I will warn you that I may not respond to emails for a week or so as I get our internet established. I’m hoping to use hotspots but if you don’t get any response, then that’s why. Normal service should resume after 21st June.
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.
The first story this week in Trembling with Fear is Whisper of Temptation by Chris Rodriguez, a tale of sin, an earthly Garden of Eden with its own forbidden fruit. A child defying her father despite warnings of punishment, displays both strength and vulnerability through her actions. A good example of showing and not telling.
Snow Nekrós by Catherine Berry brings us a hostile environment and apparently easy prey, or are they?
The Greater Fear by Scarlet Berry shows that even an apparently strong person has an Achilles heel. Human weakness or fear, especially one of the most basic ones, is a useful hook on which to hang a story.
The House that Breathes by Elyse Russell creates a revenge via a killer of a different kind. I love the personification and bringing-to-life of this particular killer.
Enjoy our stories and send in yours!
Last week I shared that we were in the process of getting Trembling With Fear into KDP. We’re in the final stages of editing when I’m writing this and, hopefully, by the time you read this, we’re just prepping the last of it as 99% of it is worked out! (Now, with Steph moving this might be slightly delayed but I just wanted to keep you in the loop that we’re close. VERY CLOSE!) 🙂
It was recently noted that our upcoming open call calendar could use a few additional features. We’re exploring budgeting for those which would either be expanding the current version (which is more limited) or switching to an entirely new calendar setup (which is daunting but could potentially offer a LOT more features.) So, more on that as things progress. Other site changes are coming rather soon!
Finally, we’ve had a few responses to our call on social media that we’re looking to add some interviewers. This is still the case! If you want to help the site by interviewing authors, do reach out with our contact page to get in touch!
Whisper of Temptation by Chris Rodriguez
“Ever notice that the whisper of temptation can be heard farther than the loudest call to duty?” Earl Wilson
Is God watching? Beth lay on her back contemplating the oceanic depth of the sky. Will He strike me down with lightning or turn me into a pillar of salt?
A wave of vertigo rocks her back into the world. Shocked pupils dilate in response to her father’s voice.
“Beth! Get yourself back in this house now!”
With luck, the garden vegetation will shield her. The air in her lungs escapes with a soft whoosh. There was still time to back out.
Earlier when she hinted about the plan to her little brother, his eyes widened, “Father will kill you!” She felt half dead already. The Harvest Fast lasted an eternity. It took a toll on her already thin 17-year-old body. With eyes closed and arms crossed, she sucked in her breath and lay still as a corpse in the narrow garden row pretending it was a casket cradling her cold body.
Did being dead hurt? Will I know that I am dead? Will I still hear the world around me, feel my mother’s hot tears dropping on my face?
Father’s boots spank the porch boards. He calls her name again from the far side of the house, in a voice like the thunder of imminent doom. Beth’s temples throb with each step.
The pilfered glass salt shaker slides from her pocket into her sweaty palm. Specks of debris dot the crystal faceted surface, no doubt collected from the blood-darkened earth as she crawled through the wide rows where others had died, slaughtered for their sins. Beth had been taught that salt was a necessity of life. None could be wasted.
One filthy hand reaches toward a low branch on the bush in front of her wide-eyed face. Fear-numbed fingers encompass the shiny red ball, as red as the blood that was shed for it. Twisted from the thick vine, she pulls it closer. Beth’s heart thumps in the syncopated rhythm of the boots that practice a funeral march in her honor. A sweet, pungent aroma fills the air around the succulent orb prompting a thin rivulet of saliva to run down her dimpled chin.
Beth hesitates, but the rumbling of her stomach seals her resolve. Her moist tongue flicks out to lap the smooth surface of the stolen treat. Careful not to waste a single grain, she sprinkles salt on the wet spot, then brings the forbidden fruit to her mouth. She isn’t Eve, but knows if caught, she will be expelled from this Garden of Eden, stoned with hard words by her brothers, shunned by her sisters.
Thin red juice and yellow seeds run down her chin to be caught and trapped in the hollow of her throat. The first ripe tomatoes of the season are the guilty pleasure that lures her from the straight and narrow path. Beth risks a soul-saving punishment from her pious father for this sacrilege.
Father reminded the family at the bland and meager meal each evening, “Nobody is to eat the sacred tomatoes. There has been a famine in the land since The Annihilation. We will be reborn if we persevere.” The precious fruit was to be tithed to the church. Boundless spiritual blessings would come to the family. Land given them for the good of all so they could grow untouchable food for another year.
“Beth!” Her father roars. He has spotted her.
She stands facing him before taking one last defiant bite. In deliberate slow motion, she stretches out her thin arm, displaying the decimated core nestled in the palm of her hand, then drops it unceremoniously to the ground beside her bare feet.
With a serpentine hiss of his belt, her father yanks the leather strap through a scabbard of pant loops. He folds the stiff leather in half and wields it above his head like the Sword of Gideon. She watches through narrowed eyes as he steps from the porch and warns in his low, dark voice, “Don’t you dare run, little girl.”
“I won’t.” One taste of Heaven is worth a dozen burning lashes of Hell – if I survive.
Chris Rodriguez has retired from the horrors of conventional life. She now lives on the brink of inspiration in a 100-year-old cottage in Pocatello, Idaho. Her works have appeared in various themed anthologies including Rhetoric Askew, several by Horrified Press/Thirteen O’Clock, Left Hand Publisher’s, Mindscapes Unimagined, Parabnormal Magazine, DL Russell’s Nobody Goes Out Anymore and Blunder Woman Productions, Wrong Turn, which has recently won Best Audiobook Anthology at the SOVAS Awards. You can find her latest at https://www.chrisrodriguez-
The world ended, leaving food scarce and a hostile winter environment. People killed to survive, and Silas was a survivor.
He watched the house. Dozens of snowmen littered the yard, but the building was pristine. One woman inside. No defenses. It would be easy.
Silas crept through the snow, weaving between the snowmen. He felt a tug on his coat; saw the gaping maw and hollowed eyes. He screamed.
Three of her snowmen had torn into his body. The woman watched, unconcerned, as the newly ravaged corpse jerked to life. After all, what threat were the undead to a necromancer?
Catherine Berry loves whimsy, potatoes, and singing with her dog. Her work has been published in several Trembling With Fear Anthologies & The Trench Coat Chronicles. More of her work can be found at www.caterinaberyl.blogspot.com.
The Greater Fear
“This little lighter of mine, it’s my only life line,” Sarah sang softly. She was curled up in a small cave with darkness enveloping her.
“Three days ago, I was the predator. Now, here I am: no team, no ammunition, no chance of rescue and I am the prey.”
Sarah’s lighter began to flicker. “That’s not good,” she murmured, feeling a cold sweat covering her body. She was terrified of the dark. “I wonder if they can smell my fear?”
Sarah heard the scraping of claws on rock as they approached. She felt their breath.
Her feeble flame faded out.
Scarlet Berry is a Yooper. She’s been married over forty years to the same man and they raised four children together. She writes for the joy of it and has contributed to Trembling With Fear.
The House That Breathes
I will always be this house. I am the doorstep where I met my love, the hallway where I kissed him, and the kitchen where he killed me. My lips are the pillows that cradle his head at night. My eyes are the portraits that hang on his walls. He towels his hands in my long, long hair.
He will never leave this house. My banister arms lock iron tight ‘round his chest. My piano-key teeth sink deep into his neck.
He thought he’d be rid of me when he stabbed me in the night.
Now I’m slowly digesting him.
Elyse Russell is a previously unpublished writer who enjoys working on short stories, poetry, and graphic novel scripts. Look for her on Twitter at @ElyseRussell13 (BraveLittleTeapotThoughts).
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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.