Trembling With Fear 07/11/21
Please note: We are temporarily closed to short flash stories (unless for one of the Specials) but open to drabbles, unholy trinities and serials. We hope to reopen later in the year once we have caught up with the publication of those already accepted.
After a number of rejections – like so many writers! – I’ve been able to announce this week my involvement in the A Silent Dystopia anthology, a collection which features stories set in a shared world originally formed by Dave Jeffereys in his A Quiet Apocalypse and related publications. With writers like Kev Harrison, John Palisano, Dave himself and a whole range of others, it’s going to be a great read.
This actually makes up for a continued wait for the Crystal Lake Classic Monsters Unleashed decision on my submission. I’ve got down to the last bit and the wait has whittled away my nails! Writers certainly need their share of resilience and patience!
I’ve read a few books lately and want to give them shoutouts. Ronald Kelly’s Fear is a big book but a wonderful page-turner, absolutely immersive and I adored it. Sarah J. Huntington is a newer writer and I picked up her collection Iron Maidens the other day. Her writing is exceptionally strong and original, enough to make me get her other collection Paint it Black and Other Stories. From the strength of the writing I’ve seen, I think she will be one to watch out for.
Yes, I pick up books I see others raving about but quite often I will see other voices trying to get their books noticed and I’ll take those as well. I know exactly how hard it is to get people to read your work – it’s still something I have trouble with! – and in doing so, I’ve made some wonderful discoveries.
Our first story this week in Trembling with Fear is The Midnight Tubes by Harris Coverley is a lovely dark tale set in the bowels of the hospital. Working in a morgue can have its upsides. And is this one of the few jogs where you can get away with murder?
Afraid of Freud by Mike Rader. Oh, how we hate the idea of Alzheimer’s and psychiatrists, the notion of being vulnerable and abused. So we take steps to protect ourselves, our loved ones will help. Won’t they?
Reared by Patrick Winters. This is such a tragic story but is testament to the maternal instinct across all creatures.
Tag at Night by Toko Hata. This centres on a dream, something I would normally baulk at publishing BUT take that last sentence into account and you can see why it was accepted, stepping it slightly out of the dreamworld and into possible reality.
Enjoy our stories and send in yours!
I’m officially moved into the new house. Now, I just need to find a new desk and finish unpacking boxes. SO MANY BOXES. This has been another crazy week with the move, a visit to my uncle’s lake house for the Fourth of July, my first day returning to the office (this coming week I’ll be back in two days a week), trying to unpack, trying to set up things in the house, helping pack up the old house, and my MBA program. WHEE.
With all of that in mind, I hope you won’t hold any delays on getting things done for site changes against me.
Trembling With Fear digital copies should now all fully be available! I’ve resubmitted Year 4 for physical so it may be available at the time of reading this though it looks like we have some cover sizing issues on the other two which we’re currently working through and they may take a bit longer.
- Trembling With Fear: Year 4
- Trembling With Fear: More Tales From The Tree: Volume 3
- Trembling With Fear: Serial Killers: Volume 2
I hope all of your reading and writing endeavors go well in the coming week!
The Midnight Tubes by Harris Coverley
It’s amazing what you can end up doing if you’re not careful. I guess I drifted for a few years after I left school, and by total accident became a porter at the local hospital. That’s where I first met Pete, and we got on straight away. In fact, the management thought we got on a bit too well, slacking about and so on, so it wasn’t long until we got bumped down to the worst duty on the shift: corpsing.
There are two types of people in this world: those who think they know how hospitals work, and those who have actually walked through the guts of one.
When a person dies, they have to be moved to the morgue, right? They can’t just lie in the bed stinking and bloating away…
But a lot of a people die in hospitals, and you never see ’em being moved do you? Who would want to see that? It’d put people off.
That’s where we come in. Almost nobody outside the hospital system knows about the “dark corridors”. That’s what the management calls ’em—we call ’em the midnight tubes.
Ever notice all those little doors along hospital corridors that all say “DO NOT ENTER”? That’s where you go in. They’re thin and they’re short, about six foot tall and not more than four-and-a-half feet wide at the most, lit up by strings of LEDS. They’re pretty bleak and nobody ever cleans ’em, not that anybody would want to, but that’s how me and Pete move dead bodies.
There’s an odd history of corpse-slinging in the hospital system, because on this shift you’re not paid by the hour, you’re paid by body delivery to the morgue itself. It’s actually a good wage, especially during say a pandemic or a bus crash, but it can have its problems.
Take just last week: this guy at seventy-odd had popped his clogs around eleven at night—a cardiac arrest they’d said. His wife was in his room weeping away, and the second doctor had just signed off on the cause of death form, meaning it was time for us to move in and take him down.
We slid him onto a gurney, covered him with a sheet, and slipped into the nearest hatch, Pete at the front, me at the back.
Now, of course, us being corpsers, we deal with the dead, not the living, but fate had something else in mind.
About a minute out from the morgue, Pete stopped.
“Stew,” he said, turning around. “I heard something.”
I looked up and down the corridor and saw nothing. I knew that we were the only two on duty.
We then both heard a moan. We looked to the gurney, and the head was moving from side to side.
“Shit!” I said, as the old guy’s hand pulled the sheet down and he stared up at us.
“Get a stick!” I told Pete.
Pete ran up the corridor as I leaned over the old guy and pressed my hands about his mouth as he started to kick and shout. The bastard had bit me before Pete had returned with one of the wooden clubs we kept hidden every dozen metres or so in the tubes. It took four good hits on the top of the skull, but we got him, and that was the end of it, and we wheeled him to his slab. If the hits didn’t do it, the cold in the fridge would.
You’d be surprised: this has happened about two dozen times in the past two years, so we’re careful to be prepared.
Why club ’em though? Well, a man needs to eat when he’s paid only by commission. Besides, in the eyes of the medical establishment, and therefore the law I guess, they’re already dead, and there’s gonna be no autopsy in a case where two doctors have already signed off on what the cause was.
Yeah, corpsing’s not the nicest job you can do, but hell, it’s a living…
Along with previously in Trembling With Fear, Harris Coverley currently has short fiction in places as varied as Hypnos, Caustic Frolic, Shotgun Honey, and Frontier Tales, amongst many others. He is also a Rhysling-nominated poet, with verse most recently accepted for Spectral Realms, Ordinary Madness, Ariel Chart, Corvus Review, View From Atlantis, and elsewhere. He lives in Manchester, England.
Afraid of Freud?
The psychiatrist gently explained, “Alzheimer’s disease is a common form of dementia.”
“What happens?” I asked.
“Protein deposits called plaques form in the brain, along with twisted protein fibers called tangles. They disrupt communication between the brain’s neurons. Cells die. The regions of the brain related to memory and language shrink.” He pushed a document across the desk. “You should sign your revised Will now, while you are still of sound mind.”
“How much longer do I have? A year?”
“No,” he said as my nephew entered the room. “Five minutes. That injection I gave you was fatal.”
Mike Rader is a pseudonym used by Australian author and poet James Aitchison. As J J Munro and Mike Rader, Aitchison writes horror and noir crime. As James Lee, he writes Asia’s biggest selling horror series for middle readers — Mr Midnight — which has sold over three million copies. His work can be seen at www.flameoftheforest.com
She found the babies by a river, their caretaker beside them, dead of illness.
Her new nature urged her to rend and consume them then and there, but she resisted. Instead, she took them in. Nurtured them. Let them suckle at her breast, vaguely recalling when a child of her own had done the same, before the Lobo Virus changed her and millions more.
Years passed. The boys grew, learning to hunt and survive under her care, until a shot rang out one day.
The human survivors left her there, dragging her pups away as they howled for their mother.
Patrick Winters is a graduate of Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL, where he earned a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. His work has now been featured throughout several magazines and anthologies. A full list of his previous publications may be found at his author’s site, if you are so inclined to know: http://wintersauthor.
Tag at Night
In my dreams, I’m always running in darkness.
Trying to get away from something.
A murderer? A monster? I have no idea what it is. What I do know is that once this something catches me, it would drag me away into the vast ends of the void where no light would reach.
I kick the ground, but my body feels extraordinarily heavy. My constricted screams dissolve into the emptiness, finding nobody.
And just when I think my legs are at their limits…I always wake up.
So far, I’ve outrun it. But its speed seems to get faster every night…
Toko Hata is an aspiring writer attending a school in Tokyo, Japan. She has a passion for horror and magical realism, and a few of her short stories have been published on the web and in print.
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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 and Reborn, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused. Her novel, The Woodcutter, is due for release via Brigids Gate Press in 2023. 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, on Twitter at @el_stevie, Instagram stephanieellis7963 and also somewhere on Facebook.