Trembling With Fear 07/01/2018
We’re currently basking in an ‘official’ heatwave in the UK at the moment, ie it hasn’t rained for a few days, and it seems to have brought out every bug known to man, including a small ant invasion which interrupted my reading of your submissions. But after I killed them all, I got back to it and then moved on to my copy of >Drabbledark, edited by Eric Fomley which arrived yesterday. I’ve only read a few stories so far but not been disappointed and it’s great to see so many familiar names.
In a couple of weeks I’m off up to EdgeLit in Derby for the first time and I’m hoping to meet up with some of the indie authors I only know via Facebook or TWF as well as picking up some books from the small presses. One of these will be Her Dark Voices, edited by Theresa Derwin (LVP Publications) which will be officially launched at that time. The anthology contains stories by TWF contributors Ruschelle Dillon and N.O.A. Rawle and Horror Tree contributor Angeline Trevena amongst others. All proceeds go to Breast Cancer Now, so show your support and get what I am sure will be a great book. As soon as there’s an amazon link, I’ll include it in an editorial. It’s a cause close to my heart having had my own scare (thankfully the tumour was benign) and the treatment I had was excellent – the NHS was brilliant on this occasion.
If you have contributed stories to charity anthologies or are working on a project for a charitable cause, let us know and we’ll gladly give it a plug.
Just realised I got side-tracked. Some time ago on twitter I mentioned EdgeLit and Kim Plasket suggested wearing a Horror Tree t-shirt. So, Stuart got onto it, created a range and I have just ordered myself a top from Redbubble to wear at EdgeLit. Never thought I’d be a walking advert …
Why not check out the range and see if there’s anything there that takes your fancy?
Horror Tree: write it, read it, wear it …
Can you believe it is July already? We’re over halfway through the year and that slacker Stuart still hasn’t finished compiling the last parts of the 2017 anthology! (Actually, we’re just about there, only waiting on a few final responses which we may or may not include depending on how much longer we’re willing to give.)
Yes, putting the anthology together is almost done!
‘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.
My mother emerged from her basement lab midday. She brushed her fingers over the spines of dusty tomes on the living room bookshelf. She selected two leather-bound texts, set them on the coffee table for our daily reading, and flagged the chapters with silky black ribbons.
“Mother,” Marissa implored. “I wish to go to the high school in the fall.”
Mother wrapped herself in a shadowy cloak. “I will teach you and your sister.”
“Normal people do not learn this.” Marissa scowled at the towering bookcase. “I want to make friends.”
“Your sister is your friend.” She smiled at me.
“Samira is your truest friend.” Mother took us each by the hand. “The two of you must continue your father’s hunt, together.”
Marissa wrenched her hand free, crossed her arms. “Father is gone.”
Mother’s face darkened. She strapped a crossbow over her shoulders. “Do not open the door while I search. Not for anyone. I will learn what happened to your father.”
She slipped out the back door and faded into the misty woods behind our home.
Marissa shoved her daily reading to the floor. The book landed spine up, tissue-thin pages crumpled against carpet. She retrieved her tablet from its hiding place—the purple suitcase under her bed—and began to message far-off friends.
Hours passed. The shadows of the neighbors’ homes stretched into the street. I wondered about the people who lived in those houses, neighbors whom we had watched come and go, but never greeted in the eight weeks we had been there.
My eyes grew heavy over yellowed pages. I re-read the same passage several times, but I could not understand it.
A knock echoed at the door. Marissa set her tablet down. She checked the peep hole. I crept to the living room window and peeked behind the lace curtain.
A boy around Marissa’s age, fourteen or fifteen, waited on the front stoop. A cut on the boy’s forehead trickled blood. His hair curled like golden leaves. His irises glowed bright blue.
“I’ve been in an accident,” the boy said. “I need to charge my phone and call my father.”
Marissa glanced at me with eyes both imploring and demanding. You didn’t tell Mother about the tablet, Samira, she had to be thinking. You’ll let me have this too, won’t you?
I shook my head. “We can call the police, and they will help him.”
“He’s just a kid.” Marissa whispered, “He’s cute.”
“Don’t call the cops,” the boy said. “It will make my father angry.”
“Mother said no,” I insisted.
“Mother would have us make no friends at all.”
I studied this boy from the window. His clothes were an odd earthen brown. A cloud of dust seeped from his pant cuffs.
His left wrist made a complete rotation, until the thumb wound back to its original position like the hands of a clock.
The blue eyes strobed.
“Marissa!” I warned. “Don’t!”
The chain unfurled. The lock unlatched.
What entered was not a boy, but a rush of wind, sand, and lightning. Metal hinges snapped, and the door knocked Marissa to the floor. A shape—like a man made of dust and electricity—loomed over my sister. A rushing sound, like jet engines, swallowed our screams.
The thing spread its hands above Marissa. Sparks crept up its spindly fingers. Marissa vanished inside the sandstorm of its legs. Its face flashed in my direction. I turned to flee, and a sucking force made the air thick as oil. I choked on sour fog. Sand scraped my arms and legs.
Ceiling plaster cracked and crumbled. Family photos shattered. Books tore from the library shelves, and their pages shredded in midair.
And then a hush sucked up the torrent of noise, like a giant’s gasp. And I heard my sister plead: “Samira, help . . . .”
But every fiber of myself fought in the opposite direction. It’s not her, I assured myself. Marissa would tell you to run! It’s the trick of the djinn!
And as I fled through a storm of debris, the djinn laughed. A chill, mechanical laugh.
I squeezed my eyes shut, covered my face with one arm. I struggled to the basement door, yanked it open, tugged against the grain of that desert storm; and at last, I managed to lock it behind me.
I raced down the steps. It battered the door. Wood splintered. The ceiling rattled to the timbre of insectile cackles. With trembling fingers, I lit a bowl of sage on Mother’s work table and huddled in the cold concrete corner.
I recited prayers.
Prayers for my safety.
Prayers for my sister.
Prayers to beg forgiveness, for cowardice had made me abandon her. And I was no longer sure if it had been Marissa or the djinn calling.
Blue fire danced over the table. Fragrant smoke swirled the air.
Mother had gone looking for it.
Mother had wanted to find it. This evil thing.
And I could not understand why.
* * *
By the time I emerged from the basement, night had blanketed the world. Marissa was gone. Scraps of our parents’ books—books on spirits, demons, and djinn—were strewn everywhere. Spider web cracks splattered the screen of her tablet.
I burst into tears when I saw Mother returning from the woods. Her crossbow and demon hunter’s pack were missing; her black cloak billowed in the wind.
I screamed that Marissa was gone.
That she and my father should never have searched for this one.
That it took my sister.
But Mother’s face remained blank. “My sweet girl.” She pulled back her cloak.
The breath fled from my chest.
Mother’s heart was gone, replaced by a charred hole. “I felt it happen.”
Kevin M. Folliard
Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose published fiction includes scary stories collections Christmas Terror Tales and Valentine Terror Tales, and adventure novels such as Matt Palmer and the Komodo Uprising. His work has also been collected by Double Feature Magazine, Flame Tree Publishing, Parsec Ink, and more.
Author Website: http://www.kevinfolliard.com/
Christmas Terror Tales on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristmasTerrorTales/
Follow The Leader
The hooded figure walked down the street. The smell of rain heavy in the air. Thunder clapped overhead. He walked a slow and deliberate pace; his gait seemed as if the Earth moved for him as opposed to him moving forward. A trail of people followed behind with expressionless eyes. The scene caused Wendy’s skin to crawl. Bright flashes of lightning revealed the hooded man had a skull for a face. Death led those that had passed to their next life. Her terrified scream became silence as her mouth went dry. Another soul was claimed for the march to oblivion.
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
The district walls rose without warning, ten feet thick and too high for the unlucky few caught atop them to survive the fall.
“This is for your protection.” Administrator Regis’s voice boomed from the embedded speakers. “Unrest will get you hurt. The walls settle when you do.”
Too many people, too few willing to go into law enforcement. Many thought a government with no enforcers would be weak. They just automated crime and punishment instead. Rebels and loyalists alike pounded at the borders, imprisoned.
There’d be no supply drops. Obey, or die. This time out would be a death sentence.
Kevin Holton is a cyborg and fitness junkie from coastal New Jersey. He’s the author of At the Hands of Madness (Severed Press), as well as the forthcoming novels The Nightmare King (Siren’s Call Publications) and These Walls Don’t Talk, They Scream (HellBound Books). He also co-wrote the short film Human Report 85616, and his short work has appeared with Sci-Phi Journal, The Literary Hatchet, Radiant Crown Press, Pleiades, Rain Taxi, Mighty Quill Books, and Thunderdome Press, among others. He can also be found acting, blogging with The Bold Mom, or talking about Batman.
The soldier lay in the shell hole, his hip shattered by shrapnel. His comrades had left him; they had no other choice, the battle was still raging.
He looked to the sky, praying for his god, any god, to send deliverance. Surely, after all these years of faith, he would be rewarded with a miracle.
Darkness fell. The soldier heard movement. It had to be the medics. His prayer had been answered.
He felt breath on his face. He looked up and saw a wolf. He laughed; it was a miracle of sorts. God obviously had a sense of humor.
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.