Thank you to everyone who’s continued supporting TWF by sharing their drabbles and flashes with us. We have been having a consistent run of quality work which has been wonderful to read.

Remember we are still seeking serials and currently have an author who is actively working on one for us now. It actually evolved out of her first submission which we felt was the start of a longer story and is now developing quite nicely. Perhaps you have something similar tucked away in a folder?

In addition, we’ve just accepted a poem for publication and if any of you have some dark poetry you would like to send in, we are more than happy to consider it. My only request would be that you follow our guidelines in terms of content and poems are reasonably short – they do not have to be drabble length. I would tentatively state no more than 30 lines and see how we go from there.

So, a slightly shorter editorial this week, but then again I’ve got a story to write for that rare Cemetery Dance submission window. Hope everyone else is having a bash at it, it’d be great if a TWF writer ends up gracing its pages. If you already have done, what’s your secret?!

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

With how long I took on getting things together for the first year’s TWF in print, some of the contracts had expired. This last week saw me mass e-mailing everyone involved and ideally, this will be a quick turn around that gets things moving forward asap as we’ve got almost everything else fully completed!

‘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

Misery In Chaos

By: Arthur Unk & A.J. Cain

Charlie watched the snow fall outside while lost thoughts wandered far away. Elizabeth’s sobs echoed through the emptied room and snapped him back to dark reality. He couldn’t see where she was. Something felt wrong, but he couldn’t focus long enough to hold a thought in his head. “Misery is peace in the eyes of chaos,” he whispered to himself. The voice inside his head was back and taunted him again. It was hard to tell what was real anymore. The salty taste of tears on his lips had been there for a long time.

He stared at the framed picture of him and Elizabeth on their wedding day. It was a special day for both of them. A few weeks afterwards they found out that she was pregnant; he was going to be a father. That was the happiest he and his wife had ever been. A strong feeling of sadness, like something, was missing washed over him again. There was a void inside him, and he couldn’t remember why. The oppressive darkness enveloped him and quietly faded all his senses to black.

Charlie found himself outside in a stupor trying to silence the demon in his mind. He made his way behind the steering wheel of his car and stared at himself in the rear-view mirror. He did not recognize the hollow eyes that stared back. sleep was a luxury he could no longer afford. A piece was missing inside. The demon filled the void with sad images and things unknown.

“Love has no price? Wrong again, Charlie. Your sanity is the price you’ll pay for her love.” The voice was not his own.

Faint echoes of a local rock radio station created a dull white noise. He pulled the car onto the road. Blue Oyster Cult played the evening’s soundtrack. Darkness returned as the road faded away.

“Come on baby. Don’t fear the reaper…

Charlie pulled off to the side of the country road, put the car in park, and watched the snow fall over a field. The snowflakes were fine like sand in an hourglass. Time became meaningless, abstract. Muffled screams mixed with the song on the radio.

“There’s a lady who’s sure. All that glitters is gold…”

“Help! Help me! Please! Anyone!”

“…And she’s buying a stairway to heaven…”

“Peace comes at daybreak,” Charlie whispered to himself. The cold barrel of a revolver against his skin brought reality together with this nightmare. The face in the mirror was hardly recognizable anymore. He took aim and closed his eyes. The revolver’s scream broke the silence of the night.

“…And as we wind on down the road. Our shadows taller than our soul…The tune will come to you at last. When all are one and one is all…”

Charlie’s eyes fluttered; ringing filled his ears. The demon in his head was silent for now. The voices stopped their screaming. A lingering odor of gunsmoke in his nostrils made the dream a reality. “Lord, why have you saved me?” Charlie cried. His thoughts shifted to his wife and daughter. A moment of clarity hit with the force of an out-of-control truck.

“Oh, Jesus! I have to save them!”

He scrambled out of the vehicle and the world went sideways as he slipped on ice. The revolver slid under the car and his head bounced off the pavement. The radio continued to play its concert to the drifting snow.

“Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again…”

Charlie woke with a headache and pain all over. Faded white ceiling tiles stared back at him. The bars across the small window cast playful shadows on the opposite wall of the mostly barren room. Charlie struggled to sit up, and rested his head in his hands. He closed his eyes in an attempt to will the throbbing away. The door next to his bed creaked open and an older woman with a white coat walked into the room.

“Good morning Charlie. It’s good to see you finally awake. How are you feeling?”

“Terrible,” Charlie began. “Where am I? What’s going on?”

“I’m Doctor Watkins and you are at the Macomb Institute.”

“This isn’t real. This cannot be happening,” Charlie said anger rising. “Macomb is a hospital for the insane.”

Doctor Watkins’s face remained expressionless, “Do you remember coming here?”

“No, I don’t. Where’s my wife? Is my daughter okay? I think they are both hurt somewhere.”

“That, I’m afraid, is a discussion for a later time.”

“What the hell do you mean at a later time? Where’s my goddamn family?”

“I just need you to concentrate on relaxing for now. You can go to the day room later if you think you can handle it.”

“How long have I been here?”

“We’ll talk more later on this evening. I’ll answer all your questions then.”

Charlie reached up and felt the bandages on his head after the doctor left. The heavy dressings did little to dull the tenderness. A few minutes later the pain regressed to a dull throb. Charlie left his room and walked down the hallway. There was an anxious feeling in his stomach like something bad had happened. It wasn’t long before a familiar voice sounded inside his head. The demon was awake again.

Charlie stopped at the entrance to the day room. The other residents watched television or played games at tables ignoring his arrival. He took one step into the room and the world spun out of control. The voice grew louder; the pain sudden and intense. Orderlies in white clothes circled around him and distant voices told him to calm down.

“Stay away from me! I don’t want to hurt you!”

Charlie fell to his knees and grasped his head. The demon took full control. His eyes turned black like the coal that fed the fires of hell.

“Nomen meum est Alastor… Nomen meum est Alastor… NOMEN MEUM EST ALASTOR!” Charlie repeated the same phrase over and over in a voice that was not his own.

The building shook; lights failed; people screamed; walls crumbled. Charlie embraced the chaos and left the hospital. Clouds overhead obscured a daytime eclipse. The demon in his head continued to laugh. Everything around him faded into a bottomless pit.

Charlie awoke kneeling in a cemetery in front of three graves. His wife was laid to rest next to his daughter; the third stone was his own. He could barely read the words on the stones through his tears. He remembered everything that had happened. Charlie began to sob uncontrollably and begged God for understanding. It all made sense now. He did not want the monster to have control over him anymore.

Charlie found a rough stone nearby and with a quick movement tore open his throat. The pain was horrible, but the relief was instant. He closed his eyes while laying on top of his own grave. His blood soaked into the ground. Charlie smiled as the demon’s voice and the world went away. Soon he would join his wife and daughter in the beyond. A song softly sounded through the air from the street nearby.

Oh, where oh where can my baby be? The Lord took her away from me. She’s gone to heaven, so I got to be good, so I can see my baby when I leave this world…”

Detective Andrews and a night nurse stood over the man who was found at the cemetery. The nurse checked his vitals and recorded them in her notes. “He’s lucky that anyone found him. Any idea who he is or why he did this to himself?”

“His name is Charlie Summers. So far, we know that he has been unstable a long time. He was a patient in the Macomb Institute off and on for the last three years. He had a wife, but she had a bad case of postpartum depression. She wound up killing herself along with their newborn daughter. From what I can tell, he snapped after the funerals and has pretty much lived in his own fantasy world since,” he said.

“But, how’d he escape a max mental hospital? I thought those places were locked down pretty tight?”

“The earthquake yesterday did some bad damage to the building. This guy wasn’t the only one that got out. Between the quake and the eclipse, all the loonies are in a tizzy this week. It’s a sad case, but you know what they say, ‘Misery is peace in the eyes of chaos‘.”

The machines in urgent care continued to beep as the sleeping figure of Charlie Summers lay in a coma. His demon had left and now rested comfortably on the shoulders of Detective Andrews. A radio quietly played in the background.

“Life, it seems, will fade away. Drifting further every day. Getting lost within myself. Nothing matters no one else…

 

Arthur Unk

Arthur Unk lives and works in the United States, but dreams of a tropical, zombie-free island. He hones his drabble skills via the Horror Tree Trembling With Fear (Dead Wrong, Flesh of My Flesh, The Tale of Fear Itself, and others yet to come) and writes micro/flash fiction daily. His influences include H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and life experience. You can follow his work from all around the web via his blog at http://arthurunk.com or read his many, many micro-stories on Twitter @ArthurUnkTweets

 

A.J. Cain

A.J. Cain is an American writer who enjoys reading, sports, and spending time with his family. He is currently working towards his Master’s Degree in Military History with the hopes of one day becoming a college professor. His inspirations include Stephen King and James Patterson. Follow him on Twitter @AJCainOfficial.

Alone In The Forest

In that part of the forest where no traveller walks, the man who couldn’t die awaited execution.

He listened to the charges: treason, betrayal, hundreds dead thanks to his treachery.

A bullet would follow. A bullet, a shallow grave, and a miraculous escape some time later.

He didn’t start screaming until he saw the rope.

Afterwards, his brothers-in-arms remarked on how strongly he had kicked as the noose dug into his neck.

In that part of the forest where no traveller walks, the man who cannot die swings back and forth with the breeze, eyes long lost to the crows.

 

Douglas Prince

Douglas Prince is a 28-year-old writer of horror and other dark fiction. Born in Melrose, Scotland, he now lives on the Wirral peninsula, in Merseyside, where he writes stories and reads more books than can possibly be good for him. ‘Alone in the Forest’ is his first story.

WEBSITE: https://theprinceofdarkness.com/

The Change

I sat watching the mechanism on the wall clock gently slide back and forth. It was one of those fancy silver clocks with a mirror behind it; magnifying the slight, graceful swings of the tiny pendulums. No sound emitted from the clock, just mesmerizing movement.

“How many years would they continue to sway when the change came?” I wondered. I imagined hollowed out buildings overgrown with weeds, with mechanical instruments and gadgets entombed inside just quietly continuing to run. Some would run until the batteries died. Others would continue to operate on solar power: if the sun continues to shine.

Natalie Kurchak

Natalie Kurchak has always been an avid reader and consummate editor (willingly or unwillingly) of all things printed or posted in the English language. The first horror story that drew her in and never let her go was The Shining by Stephen King, followed closely by Salem’s Lot and The Stand. Horror is her favorite genre followed closely by history, non-fiction. She’s been married for 26 years, and has two kids and two pit bulls. A marketing professional by day, Natalie writes tons of marketing material for her job including commercial scripts, customer communications, and customer facing materials. A good friend of hers recently published her first book and in the process of helping her edit, she made the decision to start writing some tidbits. I hope you like what you read, and ask for more!

The Wolf Among Us

The wolf stalked through the underbrush, demon eyes a red fire in the moonlight.
I ran and the wolf pursued. I turned to face it and tripped over a branch, tumbling backwards just as the wolf leapt. The kitchen knife plunged deep between its ribs, slicking my chest with blood as the heavy body thumped on top of me.

I pushed it off, removing the chained ruby from it’s neck. It transformed back into Dad.

Tears streaked my face, remembering the scene I fled from. My family lost. I went deep into the forest, and hid the gem’s terrors forever.

Eric S Fomley

Eric S. Fomley writes Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror short fiction. He is the editor of Martian Magazine and the Timeshift and Drabbledark anthologies. His work has appeared in various venues including previous publications with Trembling with Fear. You can follow his publication on his website ericfomley.com or on Twitter @PrinceGrimdark.

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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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