Trembling With Fear 07/12/20
Sometimes good things happen and this week has at last allowed a charity anthology I’m involved in to step nearer to the light – and it’s shameless plug time because it’s for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). With fellow TWF contributors Alyson Faye and Janine Pipe, we appear alongside Tim Lebbon and Adam Nevill in Diabolica Britannia. Not only that, the foreword comes from the great Ramsey Campbell (who’s book Midnight Sun, I’m about to start. His The Wise Friend was terrific, by the way). It’ll only be available in ebook format but I reckon it’ll be a great buy for a worthy cause; you should be able to fairly soon …
If any readers here are involved in charity anthologies or events, remember to get in touch and let me know. We can promote here and anthologies and other books can also be listed in our weekly Pandemic Book Launch roundup.
Last weekend I was looking at a bit of software Stuart’s assessing for turning text to speech as I’ve started investigating accessibility of material online for those have a disability. Whilst Stuart and others have provided some information about reading the material in the first place, my interest lies in submitting. Whilst we have provided submission guidelines, I’d like to know if there is anything there, we could tweak for those who may be visually impaired/blind or other issue which means our guidelines actually become a barrier. I tweeted on this a few days ago and mentioned these are early days in an ongoing process. Let me know ideas, thoughts, difficulties.
Back to Trembling With Fear for this week and our first story is The Scar on His Young Wife’s Knees by David Berger. David has written a few stories for us now and we’re beginning to recognise quirky tales shot through with humour are a trademark of his. From the intriguing title, to the story told in dialogue which pulls you on as want to read the punch line, to that little throw away comment at the end about hair colour, this is refreshingly different to many of the submissions we receive. I would recommend digging through old TWF posts and re-reading his earlier stories again. (And have you heard his wife sing? Here she is, Ms Audra Blu.)
A Scarlet Promise by Patrick Winters was subbed as a drabble but reads as a poem. It is beautifully crafted. The words create such a gentle atmosphere and even in the horror of the ending, that air of tranquillity remains. Excellent work.
Preacher by G.A. Miller is a wonderful dig at the cult of evangelical preachers. I loved the little song at the start, brilliant.
They Gnaw by Jack Deel takes a much-underused horror trope – the garden gnome – and mixes it with the modern environmental concern over plastic. The result is a B-movie in miniature, wonderful. (And I hate garden gnomes by the way, they are not cute, they are evil.)
Thanks again Patreons! You’ve come through and we’re slightly up from where we were last week! THANK YOU!
Okay, I’ve had a bit more time to breathe this week. By the time you read this, I’m hoping that we have the final covers in our hands and the anthologies are uploaded and being looked over for errors. We, might, depending on when the final covers are in, also have ordered proof copies. We’ll see!
I’m still not fully caught up from last week’s fiscal end so don’t have much in the way of news to announce. One cool thing though is that our YouTube channel (which is HIGHLY neglected) at some point passed the subscriber number so I could give it a unique URL! https://www.youtube.com/horrortree it is folks! This might seem minor but I’m excited. Now, to just find a way to add more content to it again for those of you who have been kind enough to subscribe!
The Scar on His Young Wife’s Knee
“That’s quite a scar you’ve got there on your knee,” the young husband said to his young wife shortly after they got married.
“Yes,” the young wife said to her young husband. “It is.”
“That’s a scar, not a bruise,” he said.
“Yes. It’s a scar,” she said.
“That means you got the injury quite a while ago, right?”
“Yes. Quite a while ago.”
“So how’d you get it?” the young husband asked.
The young wife said, “You don’t want to know.”
“Yes I do. Please tell me,” he said.
“Last chance,” she said.
“I still want to hear it.”
“An alien bit me.”
“Oh, come on.”
“No, an alien bit me.”
“On my knee, silly.”
“I mean when and where did this all happen?”
“About a month ago, at the Wal-Mart.”
“An alien bit you at the Wal-Mart?”
“Yes. I was bitten by an alien at the Wal-Mart.”
“Well how did that happen?”
“I was in the produce department, and I picked up an artichoke, and a small alien with big teeth jumped out from behind it, bit me on the knee and ran away.”
“I don’t believe it,” the young husband said.
“You can ask the produce manager. He saw it,” the young wife said.
“I don’t know him.”
“Sure you do. Abdul. He’s tall and bald and wears an apron. He’s always very friendly.”
“Oh, yeah. I know him. And Abdul saw the alien bite you on your knee?”
“So what happened after the alien bit you?”
“Abdul helped me go in the back and cleaned the bite and put a band-aid on it.”
“He called the general manager, and she asked me not to tell anyone about it. She told me it would drive customers away if they heard that people were getting bitten by aliens in the produce department.”
“I would think so.”
“Then she offered me $1000 not to tell anyone.”
“Did you take it?”
“So what happened to the $1000?” the young husband asked
“It’s in an envelope in my purse. I was holding it to buy you something special for your birthday,” the young wife answered.
“My birthday’s not for another month. When did all this happen?
“Like I told you, about a month ago.”
“And you never said anything.”
“It was going to be a surprise.”
“And you wouldn’t have told me anything about this unless I’d seen the scar?”
“That’s right. I just would have bought you a great birthday present.”
“You don’t expect me to believe all this, do you?”
“You can ask Abdul.”
“How does an alien happen to be in Abdul’s produce department at Wal-Mart?” the young husband asked
“I don’t know. He said they’d been having this problem for a couple of months. He said they might have come from a shipment of dragon fruit from China, but I don’t know if I believe that,” the young wife answered.
The young husband sighed. He was accustomed to odd tales from his young wife. Odd things did seem to happen to her. Then again, she was an odd young woman. For example, she often told him that her bright green hair was dyed. But he had never seen her dye it.
David Berger is an old guy from Brooklyn, now living in Manhattan with his wife of 25 years: the best jazz singer in NYC. He is a father and grandfather. He has been, among other things, a case worker, construction worker, letter carrier, high school and ESL teacher, a legal proofreader and a union organizer. Loves life, his wife and the world. Hopes to help the latter escape destruction.
David has been published by Verso with his graphic history of American bohemia: ‘Bohemians’, co-written by Paul Buhle and by DRABBLE for his works ‘Invisible Dude’and ‘Statuary’. His story, Ghoul Days, features in The Sirens Call ezine, Issue 45.
A Scarlet Promise
I am called by those who sleep amongst the tombstones. I am not afraid; I am promised pleasantries and eternities.
I am taken from my home in the middle of a frosty night.
I am hoisted on shoulders that carry me like a gentle tide across a moonlit bay.
I am placed upon an altar where I shall be worshipped and wooed.
I am caressed by alabaster hands that are softer than the finest linens.
I am given a lullaby, sung by voices of the ancient and loving.
As the first bite is taken, I could wish for nothing more.
Patrick Winters is a graduate of Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL, where he earned a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. He has been published in the likes of Sanitarium Magazine, Deadman’s Tome, Trysts of Fate, and other such titles. A full list of his previous publications may be found at his author’s site, if you are so inclined to know: http://wintersauthor.azurewebsites.net/Publications/List
“I went to see the preacher,
a very well-dressed man.”
“He offered me salvation
on the easy payment plan.”
“I looked around his mansion
at the chandeliers above,”
“He said his congregation likes
to shower him with love.”
Reverend Jasper Perkins bellowed, interrupting my song.
“You cannot release such a blasphemous and purely evil song as that!”
“Sure I can, Rev. Just watch me,” I chuckled. He pointed at me, hand trembling.
“There’s a place in Hell reserved for you!” he seethed.
“Oh no, Rev… that place is all yours,” my eyes narrowed. “and they call it a throne.”
G.A. Miller is a new voice in the chorus of horror authors, drawing his ideas from everyday, commonplace events that take unforeseen turns down dark corridors.
I remember when gnomes were nice. Well, maybe not ‘nice’, but at least they were rare. My mother used to cry whenever she caught one in a mousetrap. “They’ve got such lovely little faces,” she used to say.
Then they evolved into plastivores and spread into the city. I kept telling my bosses, “I’m a rent-a-cop, not an exterminator; your chewed-up mannequins and food trays ain’t my problem.”
Now I wonder if this town could’ve been saved if I’d only swatted some of them when I had the chance – back before they discovered that there are microplastics in human blood.
Jack Deel is the fiction-writing pen-name of Jack Fennell, a recovering academic from Limerick, Ireland. He is the editor of the Irish science fiction anthology A Brilliant Void, and his own short fiction has appeared in the anthologies Hell’s Empire and Chronos. He can be found at https://jackfennell.com, and on Twitter at @JFennellAuthor.
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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.