This week I bring you news of a new feature to be included in Trembling with Fear. In the past we have had a few writers (notably Justin Boote) who have submitted 3 drabbles together, linked by a common theme. Normally we have accepted and spread out the drabbles over a few months. Recently we received a submission of 3 drabbles, which were very good, but being so closely linked would have lost their edge if we’d spread them out as normal. To combat this issue, we have created the Unholy Trinity. You can submit 3 drabbles on a common theme (or perhaps showing the continuation of a story) and these will be printed together under the Unholy Trinity title. (Stuart will be sorting the logistics!).
Sticking a pin in the list of authors published by TWF resulted in DJ Tyrer being selected this week for a visit. On dropping in on his site (https://djtyrer.blogspot.com/), what was the first thing I read but the sentences ‘Are you infested with parasites? Do you crave the crawling sensation of invasive inhabitants beneath your skin?’ Yes, ugh … but it kept me reading and it turned out to be a pitch for an anthology containing his work called To Be One With You, where he is found keeping company with the likes of Paul Kane and Marie O’Reagan. His site is bristling with tabs showing the sheer extent of work he is involved in – poetry, stories, gaming, non-fiction and is worth taking a look at. Seriously, where does he find the time? He certainly wasn’t having to power walk back and forth across a part of the New Forest so youngest daughter could get a ‘blurred’ shot of moving feet for her photography coursework – these are the things which I stop writing for (and which I will always stop for when it comes to family, although I’m not sure what she’s going to get me to do next …)
Anthology Update: Still working around the cover! It’s gone back for revisions and hopefully after: Success?!
As Steph mentioned above, we’re digging this Unholy Trinity of Drabbles that a few writers have been sending in and if that seems like your thing, please do work on getting us a set! 🙂
‘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.
The ringing. The constant infuriating ringing in her ears. Wouldn’t stop. Never stopped. Despite the days-long blizzard in which all sound was silenced by the thick quilt of snow. She was safe, inside. But even the snap-crackling of the wood fire couldn’t dampen the shrill shriek in her ears. It was all that registered in her head. It accompanied her as she attempted to concentrate on reading the 700-page novel she’d picked from the shelf when the snow began. It was a bit of a literary slog, but it was the best option to keep her occupied.
She’d hoped her husband would have caught the train from the city before the storm began, but his last text message had indicated he didn’t think he’d make it. Thousands of people were stranded, and she assumed his phone battery died when she didn’t hear from him again.
This was the third day of the storm. The highways had been closed, and no plows were attempting to clear even the county roads. Electricity had been out for almost twenty hours. In the cold, the fridge and freezer contents would survive. She’d cooked toast over the fire. Crunchy and scorched around the crusts. It hurt her teeth. She had food, and heat. But the ringing. The incessant ringing. Like a million telephones and doorbells and fire detectors running rampant in her brain.
She was reading by candlelight. Thankfully, she’d stocked up on the scented three-wick candles from the fancy store at the mall. Her living room was cathedral-like in its flickering light and tang of incense.
Her phone battery had died out after the first day. She would have welcomed the sound, any sound, of YouTube or podcasts that might mitigate the squealing in her ears. But for the fireplace, she considered the house was silent. Other than the ringing.
She slept and read. Dozed, then replenished the firewood. Dragged the thick quilt from her bedroom to the chesterfield in front of the fire. Opened and finished a bottle of wine. Slept some more. Found some Southern Comfort in the back of a kitchen cabinet. Shuddered at its sweetness but drank it anyway. None of this silenced the deafening bells in her ears.
On the fifth day, the snow subsided. The electricity flickered, then resumed its regular role. The fridge hummed back to life, adding to the cacophony in her head.
She folded up the quilt and prepared to dig her way out of the house. The snow had drifted to the top of the front door, making her route to the shovel impenetrable. Even the window at the top of the door was caked with white. In the kitchen, she grabbed a large stainless serving spoon and a plastic ladle. Her tools for escape.
She forced open the frozen door, pulling with all her might. Began carving and scraping the hardened snow. As she picked away at the icy mass, she fell back against the door, exhausted. Something sharp hit her lower back. She turned, and noticed keys hanging from a chain, in the lock.
Furiously, she scraped and scraped at the snow.
She hit something hard. Dark blue. Fabric. Protruding from the ice. She dropped the tools and dug with her hands, faster, following the line of the fabric. First, she discovered her husband’s corporate logo on the jacket sleeve. The ringing in her ears screamed; the blood pulsed in her head. She continued. Digging, scratching, clawing. The blue changed to red. A mitten. Frozen. Against the doorframe. Against the doorbell.
She collapsed. Her heart stopped. But the ringing. The ringing did not.
Cat Kenwell is an author and mediator living in Barrie, Canada. After 30 years in corporate communications, she sustained a brain injury, lost her job and joined the circus. She is currently writing a book on her experience with post-concussion syndrome and PTSD.
An evil, demonic spirit can seep into anything, even a device. On a remote subway stop in Brooklyn, there stands a vending machine. It sells chips and candy. It seems old, but it’s brightly lit and the candy looks insanely appealing to a weary subway rider at the end of a long day. But when you reach in for your chocolate bar or bag of corn chips, metal teeth bite down on your arm. The hopper expands much like the jaws of a snake and you are drawn into the churning stomach of the machine, almost too astonished to scream.
Gregory Von Dare
Greg Von Dare has been writing for many years and is a published journalist, author and dramatist. He loves sci-fi, mystery and horror stories, and rarely sleeps soundly.
We stood together in the wet sand, our hands clasped as the bracing cold of a retreating wave buried our feet in a shared grave. I gave my free hand to her smooth, brown collarbone, delighted at so benevolent a jailer.
She pondered the infinite horizon. “Fancy a swim?”
“Not really,” I replied, exploring the fine hairs on her neck and enjoying their response.
“Let’s stay here until it ends.”
She turned to me, brushed my cheek with the back of her hand, and smiled.
A flash of static. Our cortices returned to their jars.
Back to storage.
Brian Koukol, raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, now makes his home among the salt breezes and open spaces of California’s Central Coast. A lifelong battle with muscular dystrophy has informed the majority of his work, which is written with the aid of voice recognition software. His work has appeared in LitMag Online, Phantaxis Magazine, and The Society of Misfit Stories, amongst other places.
The wind heightened, grey clouds unfurled. Fallen leaves danced between trees and headstones.
Three people stood forlorn at a graveside.
The priest stooped to scoop up a handful of soil.
A lady held a delicate handkerchief to a teardrop.
And the groundsman rested awkwardly on his shovel.
Uttering final words of remembrance the priest scattered soil onto the coffin of a man whose final wish was to be buried alongside his wife.
The service drew to a close. The groundsman gripped his shovel.
Two solemn male figures strolled dutifully back to the chapel.
A man’s dying wish fulfilled.
With two novels to his name and when not watching soccer Gary enjoys writing short horror tales. He lives a hectic family life outside of a small town in the north of England.
End of the Pier
The End of the Pier show had made the news, was said to be a real experience and the family wanted to see it. So here they were.
“Roll up, roll up,” cried the man at the entrance.
They entered the tent. It was a full house.
“Tonight, Ladies and Gentlemen, we off you a unique experience, something you will never see again. I give you … drumroll, please … THE END OF THE PIER.”
The red-eyed MC cackled as the timber cracked and tumbled into the sea, taking the audience with it. These humans, he loved to oblige them.
Stephanie Ellis writes speculative fiction stories which have found success in a variety of horror magazines and anthologies. Her first novella, Domnuill-dhu has recently been published in Dark Chapter Press’s Bloody Heather anthology. She is also co-editor at The Infernal Clock and at Trembling with Fear, the online magazine branch of Horror Tree (the online writer’s resource). She is currently awaiting decisions from publishers following submission of a novel and a novella.
Samples of her writing can be found on http://stephellis.weebly.com/ and she is on twitter at @el_stevie.
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