September already – where has the summer gone? I’ve been fortunate to have had 6 weeks off from the day job but I’ve found every day has been pretty much packed with writing, beta-reading or editorial tasks (for different projects) and occasional time out with my family. Thank goodness they’re older and relatively understanding. Not sure how I’m going to cope going back to school …

Anyway, back to TWF which this week received submissions from its youngest contributor. With only a little work needed – he provided a very clean copy which made me happy – we will be hopefully publishing his tales in the not too distant future. How old? 15. Young, yes, but it shows there are no age barriers at TWF with contributors from both ends of the spectrum. If your writing is good that is all that counts.

Now, websites. Just to let you know I’ve been umming and aahing about a new website following Stuart’s articles and have taken the plunge and upgraded (a bit). I’ve moved from my free weebly site to WordPress https://stephanieellis.org (although not gremlin free yet!), although as a total WordPress newbie it’s going to take a bit of time getting used to. This week I also did my usual peek around the web and dropped in on Andrea Allison at http://southern21.blogspot.com/ to find her celebrating the publication of two of her drabbles in Chronos, An Anthology of Time Drabbles (Shacklebound Books, edited by the prolific Eric S. Fomley). Great fact to know: she has had a story published alongside Wil Wheaton and Orson Scott Card in Stories of Strength, an anthology to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

I’ve also found out some of you have set yourself some real challenges. Robert Allen Lupton has been writing a drabble a day for www.erbzine.com, a site honouring Edgar Rice Burroughs. So far he’s written 106. I’ve not read them all but would recommend ‘If You Don’t Mime, It Doesn’t Matter’ from June 14th.

My editorial top tips for contributors this week:

  1. Avoid using ‘that’. Learned this very early on in writing career. If a sentence reads fine without it, delete it. Everybody overuses it – including me.
  2. Try and avoid repeating the same word in close proximity. A thesaurus is good. I spend many happy moments at www.thesaurus.com, and yes, I have a copy of Roget …

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

With our monthly round-up yesterday I’m a bit drained on anything new to share. So, I’ll just say please make sure to comment on any ‘Trembling With Fear’ post whose authors that you’ve really loved to share what you’ve enjoyed about the work and be sure to share their stories out to social media as well so they know what you love and why!

‘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

Editor, Horror Tree

Conspiracy

It was their weekly coffee. Two middle-aged ladies, meeting for a drink and a chat in their local café. They’d been friends for decades, ever since university. Amanda often wondered why they’d stayed so close; they didn’t really have any shared interests. Maybe it was because they lived in the same town. Maybe it was because they were both single; Amanda had been widowed in her thirties, Linda had never married. No matter the reason, their weekly meetings had become routine.

Linda had always been a little odd, but as the years passed, she’d become downright eccentric. She was always coming up with new, crackpot theories. Today it was about doctors. Amanda patiently listened without comment.

“It’s the doctors that give you cancer and those horrible diseases. How many times have you heard about a perfectly healthy person dying a few weeks after a routine checkup? They walk in, healthy and fit, and then the doctor diagnoses some dreadful disease!”

“Well, yes, I’ve heard that a couple of times. But I don’t understand why you think it’s the doctors causing it. Those people were just ill without knowing it.”

Linda gave her friend a condescending look.

“Oh, Amanda, you’re so naive. I’ll tell you why. It’s the doctors, they have special toxins, poisons. Bacteria. They’re paid by the drug companies to infect you, so they can make more money! It’s a global conspiracy.”

The conversation was getting a little too much, even by Linda’s standards. Amanda spoke, trying to inject some sanity into the topic.

“Linda, you know I work at a doctor’s surgery. You think I wouldn’t have noticed a little thing like that?”

“Of course not! You’re not in the loop, the doctors keep it to themselves.”

“I handle all the orders, including the drugs. I would have noticed.”

“Don’t be silly, Amanda. The poisons aren’t going to be sent through the normal routes.”

Amanda sighed inside. It was aliens last month, now this. She wondered for the umpteenth time if she could simply stop talking to her friend. Would Linda let her?

The next day at work, Amanda thought it would be funny to mention Linda’s theory to her boss, Dr. Lansing. His eyes flashed in annoyance and some other emotion Amanda couldn’t quite identify. It almost looked like fear.

“How ridiculous!” he snorted.

“That’s what I told her.”

“I hate hearing nonsense like that.”

“I know Dr. Lansing. I tried to tell her. She’s always getting these silly ideas, she spends too much time on the internet. She believes all that silly nonsense and then insists on spreading it around. It was aliens last month.”

He picked up a piece of paper from Amanda’s desk.

“She is clearly delusional. Disturbed. Write her name and address. She needs help.”

Amanda hesitated. Lansing detected her reluctance.

“Amanda, anyone who believes such nonsense is obviously mentally ill. She needs some intervention before it gets worse. Don’t you want to help your friend?”

Amanda wrote down the required information, with a sense of disquiet. Linda wasn’t ill, just eccentric, but she supposed Dr. Lansing knew best.

Linda didn’t answer when Amanda phoned the next week to arrange coffee. That was worrying. Amanda went round to her house, but there was no response. Had Linda decided on a spur of the moment trip? Surely, she would have let Amanda know. Amanda briefly thought about phoning the police, but decided she didn’t want to make a fooL of herself. Linda would turn up.

It wasn’t until the next week that Amanda saw the headline in the local newspaper.

Local woman, Linda Evans, found drowned

Amanda felt an overwhelming sense of grief. Only now, after this, did Amanda realize how much her silly friend had meant to her. But amidst her tears, Amanda sensed something wasn’t right. The article reported that Linda had died while swimming in a nearby lake. Her clothes had been found at the scene, indicating she’d decided to take a dip. The weather had been unusually warm. There had been no suicide note; nothing to suggest it was anything other than a tragic accident.

“Well, that can’t be right,” she said to herself.

Amanda knew something about Linda that no one else knew. She’d discovered it by accident at university, when Linda had been hysterical after being pushed into a swimming pool by some of their classmates. Linda had told her that she’d always been terrified of water; she’d never even learnt to swim. Linda would never have decided to go swimming in the lake, not in a million years. Amanda was reminded of the note she’d written for Dr. Lansing. There couldn’t be a connection, could there? Surely the timing was a coincidence. It had to be. She thought back to the expressions that had flashed across Dr. Lansing’s face. Anger, then fear. Despite herself, she began to wonder.

RJ Meldrum

R. J. Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010 with his wife Sally. His interest in the supernatural is a lifetime obsession and when he isn’t writing ghost stories, he’s busy scouring the shelves of antique book-sellers to increase his collection of rare and vintage supernatural books. During the winter months, he trains and races his own team of sled dogs.
He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Digital Fiction and James Ward Kirk Fiction.
You can find out more about RJ at his homepage.

Addicted

Paul shot the junk into his veins. He felt the warm embrace and relaxed his body to enjoy the high. An odd feeling pried his eyes open. The demons stood all around him arguing over who had rights to his eternal soul. His body refused to respond to any movement request. Terror held him immobile. Flashes of acrid smoky light accompanied the visions of arguing devils. The demons left one by one until only two remained. He could not hear the words, but watched the smaller one disappear. A gnarled claw reached out to drag its prize back to hell.

Arthur Unk

Arthur Unk lives and works in the United States, but dreams of a tropical, zombie-free island. He hones his drabble skills via the Horror Tree Trembling With Fear (Dead Wrong, Flesh of My Flesh, The Tale of Fear Itself, and others yet to come) and writes micro/flash fiction daily. His influences include H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and life experience. You can follow his work from all around the web via his blog at http://arthurunk.com or read his many, many micro-stories on Twitter @ArthurUnkTweets

Amongst marble and the dead

As we descended into the abandoned cemetery’s derelict crypt they told me to take the lead. I was growing accustomed to it.
“When did you find this place?” They asked me.
“Found it years ago, I was just waiting for a rainy day to bring all of you.”
The moment the stairs ended, the marble door slid shut. I calmly reached into a coffin and retrieved my centuries old hand-axe before turning back to them. They beheld my true ghastly visage in shock and silence.
I wryly responded to their terror:
“Philosophy’s not the only way to open someone’s mind.”

B.B. Blazkowicz

B.B. Blazkowicz is a horror fiction writer currently tied to a chair in an Antarctic research facility. A bearded man who smells of Scotch says one of us is assimilated. If you are reading this please send me transportation to your densest population centers.

@BBblazkowicz

https://toiletwineconnoisseur.wordpress.com/

Everyday Things

I stood on the platform and sipped my coffee. The train was pulling into the station.
A couple were on the wrong side of the platform; the train doors only opened on one side. They dashed across the track. The train’s horn blared. They were too close. One of the girl’s shoes caught in the rails. She fell, sprawling in front of the behemoth. Her companion, not noticing, ran on. I saw the expression of terror on her face, just before the train sliced her, squashed her…dismembered her.
I stood on the platform, ignoring the screams. Everyday things. Everyday horror.

RJ Meldrum

R. J. Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010 with his wife Sally. His interest in the supernatural is a lifetime obsession and when he isn’t writing ghost stories, he’s busy scouring the shelves of antique book-sellers to increase his collection of rare and vintage supernatural books. During the winter months, he trains and races his own team of sled dogs.
He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Digital Fiction and James Ward Kirk Fiction.
You can find out more about RJ at his homepage.

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About Stuart Conover

Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!

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