‘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.Stuart Conover
Rosalyn raised her open palm again. “Our customers’ business is their business.”
Ellis rubbed his cheek and didn’t look up. “I know, but yesterday I smelled something around unit forty-one.”
“You and your thoughts and notions and allergies.” Rosalyn lowered her hand. “Wearin’ a flannel long-sleeve shirt and straw hat in this heat is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. And you look more the fool wearing that faded yellow bandanna over your nose and mouth.”
“The smell is like that of something dead,” Ellis said. “I think we should at least speak to the person—”
Rosalyn backhanded Ellis. “People pay us to store stuff. It’s our living. Not our business to ask questions.”
Ellis raised his head and looked eye to eye with his older sibling, one of the few times he ever had. “But our business is our business.”
Rosalyn flexed her fingers and glared at Ellis. They looked at each other for several moments, then she marched out of the room. She came back with what resembled a wooden spatula.
Ellis began to rock his upper body and rub the top of his legs. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please don’t use that.”
Rosalyn had named it the Thumper. It was a fourteen-inch long piece of hand-carved oak. The handle was as bit smaller than a paper towel tube, and it had notches in it for a good grip. The business end of the Thumper fanned out and was a half-inch thick. Ball bearings had been sunk halfway into the wood. “Your job, Ellis, is to clean the units after the renter has taken everything out. Not to snoop, not to play detective.” Before he had a chance to even nod, Rosalyn went out.
Ellis grabbed his crutches, got to his feet, put his arms through the crutch cuffs, grabbed each handgrip, and made his way to the front door.
Rosalyn was in the golf cart. “Get in. A wonder you get anything at all done around here, slow as you are.”
Ellis got in and the cart jerked forward. The bottom tips of his crutches bumped along the ground as they headed to unit forty-one.
The golf cart was the one decent thing Rosalyn had done for Ellis. He had several brooms in the back, a dustpan, and a box of garbage bags.
Rosalyn stopped and got out. Ellis crinkled his nose because of the smell and reached in his shirt pocket for his bandanna. Rosalyn slapped it out of his hand. “C’mon, I got end of the month bills to get ready.”
Ellis got out.
Rosalyn stood next to a dark, gooey mass. “Get over here.”
Ellis put a dab of sunscreen on his nose and made his way to his sister. “You don’t have a hat on and the sun—”
Rosalyn snatched the tube of sunscreen and tossed it behind her in the tall grass. “First off, the renter wanted something smaller and in the shade so he’s now got unit thirty-eight.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Rosalyn shook her head. “If I spent all my time telling you every detail I’d get nothing done and we’d go broke.” She gestured. “This is what’s called a tree line.” She pointed. “That is storage unit forty-one.”
“Yes, but what about—”
“Shut up and listen. A trapper rented forty-one. That’s why I had him rent near the tree line. That’s why these guts are here. You do know what a trapper is, right?”
Rosalyn huffed. “God help us. A wonder I’ve managed the business this long with the likes of you.” She marched over to unit forty-one and unlocked the padlock. She put the padlock in a small plastic tray that all rental units had bolted near the door.
Two steps in and she lurched forward and fell.
Ellis flipped on the light. “Rosalyn, are you all right? Let me help you.” He knelt down.
“Get away from me. I’m a grown woman.” Rosalyn, face down, tried rolling over. When she got on her left side she screamed. “My hip! I’ve gone and broke my hip thanks to you.” Her eyes fluttered shut. She moaned and went back on her stomach. “I wouldn’t have…wouldn’t have fallen in the first place if…if you’d not been so suspicious.” Rosalyn swiped at her grey-streaked light brown hair that clung to her face.
Ellis noticed the Thumper laying several feet from Rosalyn. He pulled it away with the butt end of one crutch and picked it up. “I’ve done my best to not let things get me down. I’ve gotten along pretty good since the Polio. Even when Mom and Dad split up and ended up giving you this business instead of me.” He looked at the Thumper. “Only two minutes younger than you and treated like a slave for as long as I can remember.”
His sister grunted. Her lip was swollen and her chin was bleeding.
Ellis looked at a dark spot on the floor. “You slipped on blood. I’ve said before those shoes aren’t fit for—”
Rosalyn turned her head and opened her eyes. “Shut your fool mouth! Always telling me what to do, what to wear. Damned cripples, wanting to give orders and watch everyone else do the work.”
Ellis closed his eyes for a moment. After a measured breath, he looked at the posted laminated sheet on the inside of the door. All the units had one. “At least you fell inside, out of the direct sun.”
He smiled, waited a moment, then put on his reading glasses. His smile grew wider and he began to read. “Rule one: Always turn the light out upon leaving any storage unit.”
“You’ll burn in Hell for this, Ellis!”
“Rule two: Always make sure you completely shut the storage unit door.” He did, then reopened it. “This should keep you company.” Ellis tossed the Thumper into unit forty-one. “Mind your fingers now.” He closed the door.
Rosalyn hollered. She reached forward with nothing to grip but a rough concrete floor. She put her foot against the wall and tried to push herself toward the partially-open door. “Damn you to the darkest, hottest place in Hell!”
Ellis raised his voice. “Rule three: Under no circumstances are you to leave any storage unit for any time or for any reason without locking it.” He closed the door, flipped the slotted latch over the U-bolt, slid the padlock through, and locked it.
Back home, Ellis went to his sister’s office and turned on the radio.
“…and is expected to reach ninety-eight, with a heat index of one-o-five,” the forecaster said.
“Whew, now that’s hot.” Ellis grabbed a pen and opened the daily logbook. “Storage unit forty-one occupied indefinitely.”
G. E. Smith
G. E. Smith has written gospel clown skits, script for his local junior high D.A.R.E. and PeaceBuilder programs, silly rhymed children’s verse, and horror fiction of various lengths. His lighter work has appeared in Northern Stars magazine and Nuthouse. His darker work has appeared in Dark Fire Fiction, Black Petals magazine, The Cult of Me site of Michael Brookes, The Haunted Traveler, and The Nocturnal Reader’s Box. He works in north central Illinois, where he lives with his wife Joyce.
Roses Are Red: Volume 3
The rose bush was Sarah’s pride. With reason, it had featured in many a gardening magazine, winning many prizes. Its petals were bright red, blood-red almost. The thorns; deadly. She smiled as she prepared the fertilizer. Her secret fertilizer. She mixed the ingredients, and added her special touch, leaving just a few drops for afterward.
She stopped briefly to listen to the news; another child-Shaun- had gone missing.
“Terrible shame,” she muttered.
Sprinkling the mix with the soil, she poured the drops she had saved over the petals.
The petals opened to receive them.
“Good-bye Shaun. Thank you for helping.”
The twins, Tom and Lawrence, were identical in every way, except that Tom bit his nails and Lawrence twiddled his thumbs. They existed in society as one person, and the school they attended only knew of that one person–Jim–and Jim would either be Tom or Lawrence, depending on the day. While one twin was at school the other got to do whatever he wanted.
But it became problematic when Tom started to murder. Eventually, the police apprehended him, and he was subsequently thrown into prison with a life sentence.
In class, Jim would now only bite his nails.
Matthieu Cartron is a French American student at the University of New Mexico. He will be entering his sophomore year of college, and he writes for the New Mexico Daily Lobo.
Nest Of Bones
Up in the attic on the floorboards lies a brown feathery ball. Tattered and torn. Its blood spatters the dust. A fly lands on the bird’s glassy eye. It does not blink. Sickened I turn away.
In the neglected fireplace rests a nest. An intricately woven tangle of twigs. Inside nestle white bones. Cuddled up. I hold them gently in the palm of my hand.
Thump! Turning I see bird after bird. An unkindness of ravens. A murder of crows. Target the windows. Some get in. They fly around, cocking their heads in unison. Surrounded, I wait for the attack.
Alyson trained originally in the UK as a teacher/tutor. She wrote a couple of children’s books which were published by Collins and Ginn. Now she lives near Bronte terrain in Yorkshire with her teen son, partner and 3 rescue cats. She writes noir Flash Fiction (some of which is published on line) and spooky longer tales (3 are available for download on www.www.alfiedog). She has a collection of her Flash fiction coming out soon from Chapel Town Books in the UK. She enjoys old movies, singing, and swimming. She is a confirmed chocoholic and is still hopeless at maths. Her blog is at http://www.
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