We’ve got another fun week of fiction for everyone. Due to some real life issues, I haven’t had a chance to get further into details on upcoming changes but I have some (potentially) good news to share with everyone soon! As always, we’d be happy to take on more drabble 😉
‘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.
What the Dog Tells Me
When Aunt Martha leaves, I watch Atlas.
Atlas is a Great Dane whose head reaches the middle of my chest when he is on four legs. He is slow and cautious, a shadow that lurks in the corner of my sight and watches me from behind corners and the backs of hallways. For a long time, Atlas does not approach me. Does not trust me. He does not make a sound. His growl is low and shaking, a rattling fear that crawls along my lower spine like spider-legged paradise. When I sleep I imagine I hear him outside my door, his heavy open-mouthed breathing an infernal, lingering pantomime.
But in the mornings Atlas is silent and impassive.
I know I am imagining things.
Aunt Martha’s house is big and lonely, deep into suburbia where she has cut herself off from any relationship with her neighbors. Her house is full of photographs of a family that has grown old and apart; sons who speak only through email, daughters who send Christmas cards, pictures of grandchildren who she has only held once before. They stare out of their glossy two-dimensional lives and look into the vast now-emptied home that they left behind.
Atlas is in some of these pictures, but he always looks the same. No grey hairs, sagging jowls or sad eyes from the living shadow whose puppyhood is as ill-documented as the rest of his history. My cousins do not talk about the dog when I see them, nor do any of them have funny or cute stories which people so often ascribe to their animals. Instead they shrug, change the subject and say that Atlas has always been around.
I come under the impression that Atlas is not watching me out of suspicion but instead out of curiosity. As I water the plants and clean the shelves I feel his eyes on pressing on my shoulders shoulders, a physical weight which I can only take so long before my back is breaking. When I turn, I see a black silhouette retreat back into a place unseen. I cringe and whistle my fears of Atlas away. Increasingly I believe that he hates that I am here and am filled with the unnatural sensation that I am not the master in this house.
He watches me while I eat, sitting almost as tall as I stand, silently observing from across the room. I keep the television and radio off because the hair on the ridge of his back stands up when they speak. Atlas enjoys silence in his home, and in its totality he watches me until I lock a door. From the other side of my sanctuary I sleep uneasy in the knowledge that he is awake, sitting laying silently on a couch with his eyes open; waiting for me to unlock the door so that he may continue his persecuting vigil.
In the hazy moments between sleep and waking up, I believe I see him peering over my bed. He is massive in the dark fog between dream and reality, reaching the ceiling and bearing down on me with burning red eyes. His breathing his hot and infernal against my face.
I wake up in a sweat, and venture out to make sure Atlas is asleep.
But I cannot find him.
I do not sleep for the rest of the evening. It would be good, I imagine, if he were to leave. He is not a natural thing. But I know that he will be there in the morning, watching me as I reluctantly come out of the bedroom. I will need to eat.
And so will he.
On the fifth day, he finally speaks.
His eyes slide aside to reveal panels of shimmering white light. A horse moan issues from his long mouth, a tantric chant that begins with a guttural grown and crescendos in a man-like scream of rage. His meaty paws come down on my chest, and in a moment I am paralyzed under him as his teeth come closer and closer to my nose.
And after that he is off of me. I wonder the house in a daze, splashing water on my face from the kitchen sink. I feel his stink still on me, and I wonder if he truly said anything at all. I wonder if Aunt Martha’s hollow estate is really a good place for me. It is lonely here, and I am uncomfortable. I recall the words of one cousin who from the rim of their whiskey glass told me that he never wanted to go home. That there was a reason that his father left Aunt Martha.
That the house was haunted.
My breathing is heavy and labored, my hands shaking as stammering weeping comes out of my mouth. I am on the verge of real weeping, remembering that I had schedule interviews for the week I was to return from Aunt Martha’s. If this is not real, if I am so disturbed as to so vividly imagine the low, metal-on-metal grating of his voice, then I know I am in no shape for interviews.
Then I feel Atlas’ stare, and I wonder if I have ever been anything but insane.
In a delirious moment, I imagine the house is laughing with him. Then he shakes his head and leaves. I understand how hopeless I truly am. I clutch myself and cry on the kitchen floor.
When I wake up, he is peering over me.
He calls me horrible things, obscenities and slurs that are so foul that they cannot describe a human being. He tells me of the awful things he wants to do, the profane and abominable sins he wishes to unleash on me, on the world. He dips his head to my ear and begins to sing a song: He sings that the worm eats the man, that the worm grows the dirt and that all things walk on a bleeding planet. I begin to weep and he bites into my shoulder, telling me to stop my worthless screaming and that if I will do one thing right in my life it is to listen when he speaks.
Atlas tells me of the world that has been woven into ours, about the evil men that live under the clear surface of water, the twisting snakes that crawl under the gnarled bark of trees. He sings about the black planet that moves closer and closer into our solar system, carnivorous and wide he says it will swallow us all. I feel warm and Atlas roars with laughter.
Men, he says, are incapable of dealing with fear in a rational manner.
I open my eyes and Atlas is gone, the house is quiet.
Aunt Martha will be home tomorrow.
S. L. Edwards
S. L. Edwards is a Texan currently living in California. He is a writer of dark and fantastic poetry and fiction, and also the co-creator of the webcomic “Borkchito: Occult Doggo Detective.” His work has appeared in Turn to Ash, Ravenwood Quarterly and Weirdbook.
You can follow his work on Amazon!
I’ve been following the beast for days
Armed with vanishing politics and torn flags
I’ve got a can of gasoline and my monkey has the matches
Ever since the war ended I’ve been delusional, it’s the clearest I’ve ever felt and aside from walking into random government buildings screaming it’s been quite beneficial
The footprints were getting fresher; I was close on its tail, I could smell it, a stench of death, lavender and gunpowder
They burned the books in the name of god, they burned the witches because they could, they burned the hopes that the new children would learn to burn
The castles offered little history and even less poetry, the rivers shone with glistening rainbows of oil, and garbage filled the banks, rat heaven. The corpses piled so high children used them as forts playing war
Me and my monkey found the fresh feces of the beast, it was here, I could hear the terra crackle under its feet, then its eyes, two bright yellow glowing eyes, and fangs, white, shinning in the moonlight
I won’t kill for those greedy bastards anymore, I won’t plant the seeds of ignorance and I won’t slaughter for anyone
Death comes as a cool breeze, a friendly tap on the shoulder, a black raven watching, waiting for its meal.
Judson Michael Agla
I’m a spiritually blind man creeping through the Arts on hands and knees through the streets and bars of Toronto. Being blessed with attributes such as O.C.D. and Bi-Polar disorder life has been a continuous crawl towards the surface. I paint, draw, write, carve wood, sculpt, fight monkeys (real or not), take a lot of pills (prescribed) and wait for Death, not to die however I just think we could have a nice conversation over coffee.
You can follow Judson at his homepage.
The Power of Suggestion
They were watching an Eighties film; the leading man was a famous actor.
“I wonder if he’s still alive?” she asked.
“He must be dead by now,” he replied.
The next day, a headline with a photo of the actor. He’d died in his sleep the night before.
That evening they were watching another classic film. It featured a different famous actor.
“He must be dead by now.”
The next day, another headline. Another dead star.
“You should stop saying that,” she said. “It’s uncanny. Too much of a coincidence.”
He looked at her.
“You must be dead by now.”
R. J. 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.
The Angry Tree
The tree stands at the center of the clearing. No other trees grow near it, they’re too afraid.
It has no leaves and its bark is black and twisted. Axe scars are visible; they’re ugly and cruel.
As I stare at it, I can feel the malevolence coming off the tree. Something dark has made it angry and vengeful. It wants to harm me.
As I stare at it, the tree bleeds. Dark blood flows from cracks in the bark. Red mist stains the air around the angry tree.
As I stare at it, I can feel it staring back.
Jacob Mielke is a horror writer living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has previously been published in Bards and Sages Quarterly, The Siren’s Call eZine and Jitter magazine.
Charlie forced himself to breathe deeply.
He was grateful to have the row to himself.
He hated flying with a passion, but it was unavoidable.
He told himself the sense of foreboding sending chills down his spine was nothing more than his heightened nerves.
As the plane ascended through the clouds, he thought he saw something.
He leaned into the window, searching.
Again, he saw it in the distance – it was cloud-like, but darker, thunderous.
He stared as the face opened its mouth wide and rushed towards the plane.
Charlie screamed as they plummeted towards the ground.
Liz Butcher resides in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband, daughter, and two cats, Pandora and Zeus. While writing is her passion, her numerous interests include psychology, history, astronomy, the paranormal, mythology, reading, art and music – all which help fuel her imagination. She also loves being out in nature, especially amongst the trees or near the water. Liz has published a number of short stories in anthologies and currently has a multitude of projects in the works including her upcoming novel, ‘Fates Revenge’.
You can find out more about Liz at her homepage.
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- Video Refresh: An Interview With Josh Finney & Patrick McEvoy - May 24, 2019
- Taking Submissions: Funny Queer - May 24, 2019
- Ongoing Submissions: Legendary Tales - May 23, 2019
- Taking Submissions: Claw & Blossom June 2019 - May 23, 2019
- Ongoing Submissions: Soft Surface Poetry - May 23, 2019
- Taking Submissions: The Twofer Compendium - May 22, 2019
- Taking Submissions: Putrescent Poems - May 22, 2019
- Taking Submissions: Grifty Shades of Fey - May 21, 2019
- Taking Submissions: Creature Feature Novellas - May 21, 2019