Trembling With Fear 07/05/20
You’d think with all the troubles in the world people would learn to consider their behaviour towards each other. The blow-up on various platforms in the past week has shown how unacceptable actions continue to pervade our industry. The one thing I would say, having experienced sexism and harassment in both work life and when going about my day-to-day business when younger is that it is refreshing to see it get investigated and dealt with so quickly.
Back in the 80s – and even early 90s – it was a shrug of the shoulders and very much a ‘that’s men, they don’t mean anything’ attitude, put up with it. Putting up with it would usually result in me choosing a longer way to walk home to avoid building sites, to avoid short-cuts because I no longer felt safe, to putting up with ‘banter’, to working twice as hard in my earlier career as programmer/tech author to prove I was as good as the men. I proved it, was recognised as such but never got the pay rise to equivalent status, continued to be the ‘token female’ – and even introduced in this manner.
Women have a right to equality. They have a right to safety. They have a right to respect. They have a right to be. As do so many other groups regarded as somewhat ‘less’ whether by virtue of sex/gender/ethnicity/religion or other identifying factor people pick up on and decide to condemn. We are all equal and it’s about time those who disagree grew up and moved out of playground bully mode because to me, that is what this is.
And one final note. In those recent events, I did a bit of reading around in various places, before I commented in my own small way to show support. Yes, I believed the victim but I needed to be certain how to respond. Social media can be a howling mob and it can be so easy to jump in and condemn without the facts. The impact of an unjust accusation can be horrific. I do not want to be part of such instances and to me, this wasn’t. This wasn’t a mob, this was a huge outcry against something which happened and shouldn’t have.
Stay Safe is the slogan for the pandemic. Sadly, it seems to be a slogan too many others have to continue to apply to their own lives. We need to change that.
Thank you to all those publishers, editors, writers and readers who publicly came out in condemnation of the harassment and abuse of women and shown the horror writing world can be respectful, inclusive and safe.
Okay, that’s enough horror from real life. Let’s put it back on the page where it belongs. Our first story in this week is Perfection by Janine Pipe brings us the confidence of an obsession, draws the reader in to the planning and care taken in achieving what appears to be a standard workplace tryst. There are hints at something out of kilter with the abuse of authority, but to see far how out of kilter you have to read to the end. We all have our takes on the ‘normal’ work place. This story subverts such expectations with a good twist.
Deal with the Devil by Richard Meldrum beware the pitfalls of making a contract with good old Beelzebub. He’ll wriggle out of it somehow. And there’s never an excuse to plagiarise!
Nothing There by Radar DeBoard reflects on how the wrong fixation can ultimately provoke a disastrous outcome.
Slaint by Theresa Derwin is a neat little exercise in showing how fleeting victory can be.
First, a quick shout out to our Patreons! We lost a couple and gained one last week. So, while we’re down it isn’t by much and we’re still inching closer to our next goal for growing the site!
Wow. What a week! My work’s fiscal end of the year was finished up this week so I was slammed and finally got some breathing room after. What did I do with that extra time? Well, we’re in the process of just about finalizing our proof copies of the anthologies for this year and should be ordering them soon if we haven’t by the time this point has gone live! YES! Progress!
For those of us in the States, I hope you’ve all had a great 4th of July (and a socially distanced one at that…)
Perfection by Janine Pipe
Love. What does it mean to you? Being part of a perfect couple? Knowing that certain someone will always be there for you? When you look at them, and your heart beats faster – and kissing them drives you fucking crazy.
Well I had yet to experience any of that.
Until I met Adam.
I wasn’t looking for love. In fact, I was so over it. All around me, were couples. People dating, hooking up. Totally sickening.
Movies, song lyrics, books. Every damn thing seemed to be about finding that special someone, that perfect person. How you can’t possibly be complete without them.
Being alone was not acceptable. You NEEDED to be An Item.
Well I didn’t need that, didn’t want it. Total waste of my time. Men were only good for one thing. And that novelty wore off extremely quickly. As quickly as the act.
I was happy being me and just me. Until Adam.
He was Perfection. A vision of pure and utter beauty.
We met at work, which was really convenient as I knew exactly where he would be, for a short time at least.
Since I had an ‘Access all Areas’ super card, I was able to look through all his files too, to learn as much information as possible about him. I greedily drank it all in. I needed to know who he was, what he liked, did he have family? I was obsessed.
I specifically requested to supervise Adam myself. Spending so much time alone with him would ensure he would feel exactly the same way as I did, as soon as possible. Time was of the essence as always.
Thankfully it didn’t take long for my charm and feminine wiles to win him over. It soon became extremely obvious that he was also completely into me.
We worked really hard together that magnificent day. I wanted everything to be flawless. For the first time in months, the day seemed to fly by. I didn’t want it to end, didn’t want to say good-bye.
I stayed as late as possible, but inevitably, we had to part.
Am not ashamed to say I cried a little.
The entire night, I couldn’t stop thinking about him, couldn’t wait to see him again tomorrow. Oh god, how I yearned for him. I was besotted, infatuated. And I just knew he felt the same way.
Work couldn’t come soon enough. Luckily, he was there waiting for me, just as he should be.
The second I saw him again I almost burst with pure, unadulterated lust. Although it hardly seemed possible, he looked even sexier today than he had before.
The way his lips were parted, the look in his eyes … oh man, he clearly wanted me so badly too.
That day I managed to mainly get him all to myself again. A few other people came in to ‘chat’. I spent as little time as I could possibly get away with tolerating their mind-numbing drivel, then the rest of the time we were alone.
I knew I was going to take him home with me. If we could emit this much passion for each other in a sterile workplace, imagine the heat we would be packing back at mine.
I spent all day meticulously planning every little detail.
I knew he was willing. He was dying to be with me. And I had the perfect plan
There had been another newbie yesterday. He was also going home later, albeit to a slightly different kind of party. They would be easy to switch. No one would check …
It was harder to get him to fit into my car than I had anticipated. I realised he was tall but come on? Way to make life hard for me! Luckily, I just about squeezed him in. And it was so ridiculously dark in the evenings no one would see us driving off together. We needed to avoid ‘office gossip’.
Thankfully I live alone, in a rather remote area of town. No nosey neighbours.
Oh god Adam. You are finally here with me. Damn the way you make me feel is unreal. I know this love will last forever. Nothing can come between us.
We just about make it to the bedroom.
He was so heavy! And cold. And stiff.
But you are so fucking perfect Adam.
You hit every button.
And you will never fall out of love with me.
I run my fingers down his chest. I look proudly at my work.
Sure, there are scars from the incisions, but I used my best saw. And I took the greatest of care when I opened his chest cavity and removed the heart. I can still taste his blood on my lips as I gently kissed it before packing the organ up for the lab to be tested.
I knew I had to keep you Adam.
Luckily when I checked your files, the family didn’t want an open casket. So the fact I sent that John Doe who was meant for incineration to the funeral home in your place, means no one will be suspicious that you are missing.
Everything is perfect Adam. Just like you …
Janine Pipe is a Horror lover and writer who was first introduced to the genre at the tender age of 9 by reading ‘Salem’s Lot – and she hasn’t looked back since. She is inspired by Stephen King and cites Glenn Rolfe and Jonathan Janz as her favourite current writers. She likes to shock with her writing, there is usually a lot of gore and plenty of swearing … She is very thankful to her biggest cheerleaders, her husband and daughter and her mentor, Graeme Reynolds. She reviews and chews the fat with fellow authors on her blog – Janine’s Ghost Stories and is a guest reviewer for Gingernuts of Horror and Creature Feature reviewer on Nightworms.
You can find her work at Tales to Terrify, Ghost Stories the podcast and The Horror Tree. Coming this year she has shorts with Kandisha Press, Iron Faerie Publishling and Black Hare Press, as well as a super exciting secret project …
Check her blog here – https://janinesghoststories.wordpress.com/
Follow her on Twitter here – https://twitter.com/disneynine
Deal with the Devil
I’d been found guilty of plagiarizing dozens of stories by other authors. I was ordered to pay a breathtaking amount of money back to my publishers. Furious, I chanted the words to summon him. He appeared.
“You told me if I sold my soul I’d become a famous author!”
“I fulfilled the contract. You were famous, briefly.”
“But the stories you gave me were copied! My reputation is ruined!”
“Well, I wasn’t going to write them myself. My world is full of authors, so I asked them. How was I to know they’d simply submit their old stories?”
R.J. Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010. He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Smoking Pen Press and James Ward Kirk Fiction. He is an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.
The closet door creaked and Samantha let out a gasp of fear. She didn’t see if the door had moved, but she had heard it. She stared at the closet hoping it wouldn’t move again.
There was another creaking sound and Samantha knew it had moved. She was certain that there was something hiding in there, but she was too scared to check.
However, the closet had never moved.
Samantha had imagined that it did. She was so focused on the closet that she never heard the sound of movement coming from under her bed until it was too late.
Radar DeBoard is an aspiring writer who just wants others to find enjoyment in his work. Even though he lacks publication and experience, he hopes his work will have an impact. He has a passion for horror and finds it the most interesting genre to write.
Jerry raised the tumbler, swirling the amber liquid.
He inhaled, then smiled.
He needed this.
Glancing at his office floor, he chuckled at the bloodied, battered figure that lay curled on the carpet.
“Slainte, Fergus,” he whispered, raising the glass and toasting the body.
He took a decent slug of the mature malt, his eyes drawn once more to Fergus’ remains.
He laughed, gulping the rest, coughing.
Throat on fire, he dropped the glass, banging his fists on his chest.
A chill swept through the room as he took his last ragged breath.
If a corpse could smile, Fergus would.
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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 can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on Blue Sky as stephellis.bsky.social.