Trembling With Fear 08/15/21
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. Please also remember to read our guidelines, especially on word counts!
There has been enough noise in our new house this week to raise the dead but thankfully my graveyard neighbours have slept through the disturbance. We’re having our old boiler and water tank ripped out and updated. Not the best atmosphere for writing – I’ve been continually expecting the ceiling to come down on me – and the weather hasn’t been the best to sit outside but I managed one short tale. I also had the chance to talk to Wendy N. Wagner on Shane Douglas Keene’s Shotgun Logic podcast. Editor-in-chief at Nightmare magazine, she has boundless energy and enthusiasm for the genre and is also a wonderful author in her own right – check out her The Deer Kings, a great coming-of-age/supernatural page-turner. If you’re curious about the level of submissions to Nightmare, now’s the chance to find out!
The current episode being aired is with John D. Taff, another great writer who’s recently taken to wearing the editor’s hat. I’ve had the privilege of reading Tor Nightfire’s Dark Stars, which is out next March, BUT I must urge you to read The Bad Book. This particular anthology is, I feel, a masterclass in the art of short story writing. I bought the ebook of The Bad Book but I will be buying the print version – and that is something I don’t often do!
The first story in Trembling with Fear this week is Ice Cold Lemonade by Kevin M. Folliard, a writer who I continue to rate beyond the realms of Horror Tree. Just desserts are delivered to a greedy—in more ways than one—CEO. The finale reflects back on the preceding section in a very clever way and makes you look at it with new eyes. Another aspect I like is the way the reader’s senses are engaged, vocabulary choice drawing you in to feel heat and thirst.
For Entertainment Purposes by F.M. Scott reminds you it’s always a good idea to read the small print. You never know what you might have signed yourself up for.
Hen Fenyw by Nicolette Ward is a wonderful bit of Welsh mythology with the creepiest last line ever.
Setting the Perfect Scene by Brian Maycock is a lovely horror-sci-fi mashup, and how can you not feel a little love for the robot. Its heart is in the right place after all!
Enjoy our stories and send in yours!
Hello all! We’re having some caching issues which are causing issues with both our contact form and our calendar view. I’m aware of it and will hopefully be looking into it over the next week. I just finished up another of my MBA courses SOOO… I’ve got some free time at the moment.
Just a reminder, our October Specials edition is open and we’re looking for Halloween-themed shorts and drabbles! You can find the details on our Submission Page.
Finally, If you’ve purchased ANY of our Trembling With Fear releases, please do leave a review. You can get to ALL of them easily from this link!
Ice Cold Lemonade by Kevin M. Folliard
Sweat soaked Lester’s gym shirt. Sun blistered his skin. His legs ached. His tongue scraped the sandpaper roof of his mouth.
With a record heatwave, it was a hell of a day to start getting in shape. But his doctor had put a scare into him. Stop stress eating. Work out. Lose weight. Otherwise . . .
Following a contentious divorce with his ex, Lester had spent the past 10 years serving as CEO of his firm. It had been the most rewarding—and most grueling time of his life. Lester had gained almost as much anxiety weight as capital. Eating was how he coped. The doc suggested exercise to shed worry along with pounds.
So far, the exercise felt like a bigger burden than his fat. He’d jogged three blocks before getting winded, then decided to walk to the park, and loop the path.
Tomorrow, he’d stay closer to home. Maybe take a break. It would be another mile of walking just to get back to the house. He’d kill for a freezing cold bottle of water.
“Lemonade!” A shrill voice sliced through the humidity. Saliva pooled under Lester’s tongue. “Ice cold lemonade!” Like a mirage through warped lines of heat, at the end of a long suburban driveway, a small folding table and two young boys appeared. A sun-gold pitcher glinted on the table.
Lester quickened pace toward the children. His head pounded; sweat poured down his brow. He had no cash, but he’d promise the little snots he’d return tomorrow and pay double. Kids are dumb, he thought. We’ll come to an arrangement.
“Get your lemonade!”
As he approached, the older boy, maybe 8 or 9 years old, turned toward him. The child’s mouth widened into a slick, sinister grin. His eyes shone like black marbles. His voice scratched. “You’ve come for lemonade, mister!” He curled his hand like a spider over the table and drummed his fingers. “You’ve come to devour ice-cold lemonade!”
The smaller boy snickered. Both children had coal black hair and alabaster skin. They were skinny as broomsticks. The little one twitched his fingers at his chest, like a carnivorous dinosaur.
Lester halted. His blood chilled in spite of the oppressive heat. He opened his mouth, but couldn’t figure out what, if anything, to say. The children were hideous.
The older boy slammed his fist and rattling the pitcher. “Get your fucking lemonade, fatass!” The small one boiled with laughter.
Lester’s heart squeezed against his ribs. He gave a dry mouthed gasp.
“Get over here and buy some lemonade!”
“No money,” he choked. “Left wallet . . . at home.”
“We’ll come to an arrangement!” The older boy snatched the handle of the golden pitcher. Bright yellow liquid sloshed out, splattered the blacktop. Corrosive liquid unleashed a question-mark curve of vapor.
The boy advanced in furious strides.
Lester’s chest wrenched. He turned. Ran. His lungs labored. Within seconds, a wiry thing raced alongside him, the smaller boy—a demon. It snarled. Snickered. Drool dribbled down its chin. Its wild coal-black hair swished. The boy’s jaws snapped like an animal.
Lester’s legs turned rubber. He fell. Sidewalk scraped the flesh from his knee. He rolled onto his back. His jaws pried open, but the scream wouldn’t come; he could hardly breathe. Cotton tufts of cloud pulled across a baby blue sky.
The demon boy pounced. His knees pummeled Lester’s belly. Sharp nails dug into Lester’s chest. The boy hissed and yowled like a feral cat. Lester raised his arms to shield his eyes.
“Get off him!” came the scraping voice of the older boy. “Look at me, fat hog!”
The smaller boy scrambled aside. Lester lowered his arm, gasped for air, tried to plead, to beg these creatures to leave him alone. But he couldn’t get a breath. Pain fired up his limbs.
The older boy’s dirty fingers clenched the shimmering handle of the pitcher. Atomic yellow sloshed the pavement and smoked like sulfuric acid. “You need to drink all the lemonade! Greedy pigs drink the whole pitcher!”
“I don’t want . . . any . . . lemonade . . .” Lester at last managed to gasp.
“But you were so thirsty!” The boy scowled. He dumped the contents onto Lester’s chest and stomach. Pain seared over him. Gold magma burned his skin away, bored a hole in his chest.
The demons howled.
* * *
Lester’s ex-wife Mandy gasped at the headline the next morning: CEO Lester McHenry Dead of a Heart Attack.
The pig had long ago written his family out of his will. Apparently, his heart had given out on a jog. She scoffed. “Must have been the first jog of his life. Too little too late. Serves you right for weaseling out of child support and leaving me with two little monsters.”
Denny and Danny glanced up from their morning cartoons, sneers arching beneath neatly combed black hair.
“Oh.” She smiled. “It’s just an expression. Mommy loves her monsters.”
Kevin M. Folliard
Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose fiction has been collected by The Horror Tree, Flame Tree Publishing, The Dread Machine, and more. His recent publications include his novella “Tower of Raven” from Demain Publishing, his 2020 horror anthology The Misery King’s Closet, and his YA fantasy adventure novel Grayson North: Frost-Keeper of the Windy City coming from Dark Owl Publishing December 2021. Kevin currently resides in La Grange, IL, where he enjoys his day job as an academic writing advisor and active membership in the La Grange and Brookfield Writers Groups. When not writing or working, he’s usually reading Stephen King, playing Tetris, or traveling the U.S.A.
For Entertainment Purposes Only
A woman whose nameplate read Aspen had him sign the waiver. Totally FEPO; it wouldn’t really tell him anything about himself or where he was headed. She did say it was different from tarot or palms.
Aspen led him into the brightly lit room. “Have a seat.” He did, at a solitary chair.
She stepped out. The lock clicked.
An ear-splitting tone jolted him from the chair. The walls erupted with scores of shafts tipped with whirring blades. He screamed and contorted as they crisscrossed toward him.
The paying customers down the hall whooped and squealed at the live feed.
F.M. Scott is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lives and writes. His stories have appeared in Apple in the Dark, The Horror Tree, The Killer Collection Anthology (Nick Botic Horror), Sirius Science Fiction, The Tulsa Voice, and The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine.
FACEBOOK AND TWITTER: @fmscottauthor
The hen fenyw sit in their usual seats outside the churchyard. Their knitting needles click and clack as they whisper amongst themselves. Nobody knows the origin of them; they are simply the hen fenwy. There are always five, no more and no less. When one disappears, another will take their place.
Nobody disturbs them, they wouldn’t dare for it’s said that if you catch the eye of the hen fenyw you will die. In the bags at their feet, they carry the bones of those they have cursed, and those souls cry out as they are knitted onto their needles.
(*Hen Fenyw – Welsh for ‘old woman’ – Steph)
Nicolette Ward recently moved to Manchester with her long-suffering partner and rescue cat – Sigi Kneebiter the Shadow Cat. She is the author of the Handy Little Book of First Lines and has written over 300 original and fanfiction stories. Her favourite type of stories to write are dark drabbles.
Setting The Perfect Scene
In the lounge it finished the arrangement. It would call this scene Family. Mom and Pops, the siblings, all cheesecake smiles.
On the neighbouring lawn friends grinned with beers poised, burgers glistening in Barbecue.
It grabbed the arriving policeman – injected the paralysing preservative and set the face into a happy expression. Keeping the Neighbourhood Safe.
When it escaped from the robotics lab earlier that day, its damaged circuits were fixated on the wholesome TV comedies its makers loved to watch.
Following its programming, it trundled off down the street, changing the world for the better, one scream at a time.
Brian Maycock’s short stories have most recently been published by 365 Tomorrows, 50 Word Stories, Black Petals, BFS Horizons, the Scottish Book Trust, The Drabble, and Flash Fiction Magazine. He has work due in Black Hare Press’s Dark Drabbles 666 and hopefully some more places as well – the God of Writers’ Mood Swings, Submission, allowing. He is currently writing a novel which is fun but not as fun as the bursts of creativity of writing drabbles. He lives in Glasgow, but is heading south soon, to Cornwall. On Twitter Brian is @MaycockWriter.
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Stephanie Ellis is a member of the HWA and writes dark speculative prose and poetry which has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her work includes the novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel and the gothic novella, Bottled, both via Silver Shamrock Publishing.She can be found at https://stephanieellis.org/ and on twitter @el_Stevie.