Trembling With Fear 09/04/2022
Hello, children of the dark. This writing malarky can be awfully solitary, can’t it? By our very nature, writers tend to be introverts. Add in the lure of the dark stuff, and you’re likely to find us huddled in corners, by candlelight, scribbling away and creating nightmares.
But, just because we hate to be cast as the creep in the corner, there are exceptions to this rule. Around the world, you’ll find writers regularly gathering to celebrate each other and talk shop at conferences. This aspect of the writerly life is still quite new to me; I only attended my first conference last year, a ghost story festival, which is where I met our wonderful Steph Ellis for the first time. Earlier this year, I was at ChillerCon, the UK’s answer to StokerCon, and felt so welcomed and embraced by the horror community that it confirmed in my heart that I’d made the right decision to properly pursue my writing.
So imagine my surprise that less than a year after my first proper writers’ conference, I find myself planning to lead a workshop at this month’s UK FantasyCon. Yes, I’m not only going to be there, but I’ll be kicking off proceedings by running a workshop on building an author brand in a natural way, without any of the hacks or tricks that can feel intimidating. It’s kind of a marriage of my old life in content marketing and my new(though fated) life in fiction and writing coaching. If you’re in the vicinity, maybe I’ll see you there?
I know, I know – not everyone is lucky enough to go to conferences. Not everyone has the location, the money, the means to attend these things; they can get pricey between tickets, travel and accommodation. And not everyone has the confidence to walk into those rooms alone – I am definitely one of those socially awkward types who cannot do small talk! What is a writer to do in these cases?
I’ll let you in on one of my secrets… over the pandemic lockdowns, I joined a global online writing community that has really helped build my confidence and courage in my convictions. It’s called the London Writers Salon, and it actually hosts Zoom-based writing sessions four times a day, for free. You just join, set an intention, go on mute, and write in community. Something strange happens in those sessions… Words get on the page when you have 100 people on your screen doing the same thing. This community has helped me so much that I actually now host a few of the sessions – usually 8am New Zealand time on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays (a day earlier in the northern hemisphere – it’s 9pm here in the UK or 4pm ET) – so I might see you there some time? If you do join when I’m the host, DM me to let me know you read TWF!
And who knows? Maybe a writing community is just what you need to kickstart your next submission to Trembling With Fear. You could join those providing this week’s feast of darkness.
Our trembling main course from Beth Mills has a woman trying everything she can to save her marriage. Meanwhile, we have three delicious quick bites for you this week:
- Michael Bettendorf’s folk horror explores the bond between father and daughter
- Eddie D. Moore’s retirement is not quite as he imagined, and
- Mark Humphries’ old wives tale has more truth than you realise
If these stories inspire you to get writing, you’ll find details on how to submit to us over here on our freshly-updated submission guidelines page.
For now, it’s over to you, Stuart…
Getting closer to being able to share a few updates with you on various projects that we have going and AHHH! It’s hard to keep quiet. 🙂 Nothing to talk about on the new layout quite yet, it is coming soon though!
A quick reminder that we’re now on MSN and would LOVE it if you can throw us a follow on MSN! We should have more content coming soon!
As always, I hope you had a great weekend.
Woman’s Intuition, by Beth Mills
Clifford and I had hit a rough patch in our marriage. He kept saying everythin’ was fine, but a woman knows when somethin’ is off. We’d been together almost ten years. High school sweethearts! So romantic right? Unfortunately, the luster was beginnin’ to wear off. He was so distant lately, though he didn’t exactly seem unhappy. A woman knows these things.
So what’s a gal to do when her marriage is on the rocks? Does she give up? No! When your silver starts to fade, you don’t just throw it out. You polish it until it shines again! So, I started workin’ out! I cooked all’a his favorite foods, while I (being a dutiful wife) ate only the bare minimum. I’d never been thinner. I’d never felt better about the way I looked, and so surely this put the spark back in my marriage, right?
Wrong! Now he just seemed sulkier than ever. Almost like he felt guilty? It seemed strange, but who can understand the whims of men?
Sooo, next I strove to keep the house spotless and clean enough to eat off the kitchen floors! My afternoons were now split between killin’ it with calisthenics and lavin’ it up with Lysol. Even my mother-in-law was impressed! Surely my Cliffy-boo-bear would be so elated and proud of me, he’d run into my open arms and everythin’ would be swell again!
Wrong, wrong! He tried; oh I could tell my Cliff was tryin’. But somethin’ was still wrong! A woman can tell these things! I was at my wit’s end! What else was there to do to make him love me like he used to?
I made sure all’a his shirts was pressed, and all’a his pants was starched just how he liked ‘em! Everything hunky dory again?
Wrong, wrong, wrong!
Now, before I tell ya this next part, ya gotta understand: I ain’t like one of those sex deviants like ya hear about on the news. But, ya see I was at the end’a my rope! I didn’t have no other choice here. My Cliffy-Wiffy just wasn’t the same man I married. Somethin’ was seriously wrong! A woman knows these things.
What was I to do? The only thing I could do! It was our anniversary you see, nothin’ wrong with doin’ somethin’ special on the big one-oh anniversary, right? And, you see, I hate to say it but Cliff is kinda like one of those sex perverts you hear about.
So, I planned a whole big evenin’. I put on that dress he likes with the big polka-dots. I made ab-so-lutely all’a his favorite foods (eaten by candle light o’course). Then, finally, I whispered in his ear exactly what I wanted to do to him.
Boy howdy I never seed my Cliff-Cliff move so fast. He scooped me up, just like it was our honeymoon. He only made it halfway up the stairs before he couldn’t breathe no more and had’ta put me down. That’s okay though, it was still the most romantic he’d been in months. We walked the rest of the way to the bedroom.
It was almost funny how quickly his clothes disappeared. Poof! Harry Blackstone would’a been proud! When I gave him the rope and told him to tie his feet to the bed, he happily obliged. It was like we was kids again, he was suddenly so spry! I made sure he’d got the ropes good and tight, before I gave him the handcuffs (and boy don’t even ask me how hard those were to find!). There he was all tied up with nowhere to go, so I put the on finishing touch, a nice gag, and decided it was time for his special surprise.
And you bet your bottom dollar he was surprised, he was, when I brought out our little playmate for the evening! She was all tied up too, and Cliffy’s eyes about bulged right out when he saw her naked there. His breathing got even faster when I told him what I planned to do next; how he was gonna get to watch us before I gave him his present. Shoot, he was so excited and breathing so hard, I knew I’d have to be quick or Cliff might pop-off a little too early.
I gots ta admit I was mighty nervous. I’d never done another girl before! It was kinda exciting though, I’d forgotten how wet and slippery it could be when done right. She was so tiny and I was shocked I could fit my whole hand inside her. I could tell Cliff liked it too, he was thrashing around and moaning. My fella never did have any patience! She tasted so sweet, I’ll admit I hated to be finished with her, but Cliffity-Wiffity was starting to whimper so I figured I’d better have mercy on the poor fella.
I left her tied up for now (not liked she would mind) and went to Cliff. My poor man was crying with anticipation. I sat down on the bed smoothed his thinnin’ hair down.
“Cliff baby,” I said to him, “Do ya remembuh our wedding vows? What I told ya?”
As the tears and snot ran down his face, I suddenly couldn’t remember what it was about him I’d ever loved to begin with. I took the gag out so he could answer me.
“Oh god!” he whined. “What have you done!? You crazy b-”
“Ah, ah, ah!” I stuffed his mouth full, cutting him off. “I told you, on the day you promised to be always faithful, that if you ever cheated on me I’d rip her heart out and make you eat it! So how does she taste Clifford!?” I held his mouth and nose shut until he swallowed what was left of his mistress. “Everythin’ I’ve done for you! All those other men I kept out of your way, and that’s how you repay me!?” I made him look at her, all hollowed out now, and he cried and said I was crazy. He’d never cheat on me. Okay, maybe just the once, but it didn’t mean nothin’ and he’d never do it again.
I laughed. He didn’t know I’d already scared off two other women he’d been sleepin’ with. I’d let them off easy with most of their fingers intact, but this! This was the final straw!
“You think I’m just some dumb broad Cliff, you’ve got another thing comin’.” With that I pulled the trash bag over his head and tied it tight. I watched for a long time before he finally stopped kicking and twitching. I made sure to clean up everythin’ I’d touched real good. Then I placed Cliff’s “suicide note” just so on the nightstand.
I know what you’re thinkin’. But it was them or me! They was plottin’ to kill me. A woman knows these things.
Beth Mills is a library worker and writer living in West Virginia. She was a fan of horror movies before she could walk. Beth has previously been published in the horror anthology “99 Tiny Terrors” from Pulse Publishing. Visit her online: https://bat-beth.wixsite.com/othermonsters
As Above, So Below
She sat in the palm of the withered tree, which jutted from cracked earth like an outstretched hand in the center of the village. It was said if one expressed their most genuine and earnest desire, it would be granted. Though but a child, she knew better, for children were wiser than the villagers believed—and her father, the most genuine man she knew, had been gripped by the tree and pulled below. Her wish was simple. To remain on this Devil’s throne and feed on the villagers’ foolish hearts forever, so she could dine with her father in solidarity.
Michael Bettendorf (he/him) is a speculative writer from the Midwest who does his best to convince the world Nebraska is too strange to be a flyover state. His most recent work has appeared/is forthcoming at The Razor, The Martian Magazine, The Horror Tree, and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter @BeardedBetts and www.michaelbettendorfwrites.com.
The Hell Bats
The Hell Bats took me when I was twelve.
An old wives’ tale to scare children. Or so we thought.
“Beware the Hell Bats!” our mothers warned. And we trembled with laughter.
Their stories depicted a black-caped multitude of riders, legs pounding the earth, kick scooters rumbling onward. Forever forward. Faceless and multiplying with every hamlet, village and market town. Sweeping up children like leaves. Always at dusk.
Then they arrived.
Ground groaning under their wheels, I heard before I saw them.
Football forgotten; they swamped me.
Now I am one of them.
And I have been riding ever since.
Mark Humphries has a BA Honours Degree in English from the University of Sheffield and teaches ESOL in Leeds, England, where he lives with his wife. His stories have appeared in Horla, East Of The Web and Tales From The Moonlit Path.
Success! Charles shut his computer and closed his eyes while relishing the moment. All his investments had paid off. He’d sold all his stocks, moved his assets to protected accounts, and set up monthly transfers for the interest payments to his checking account. The rest of his life would be beaches, cocktails, and relaxation.
He heard a noise behind him, and as he turned, something stabbed into his back. He felt warm blood and heard someone whisper, “Sorry, buddy. You should’ve locked the back door. All I need is your wallet.”
Charles’ vision darkened, and he thought to himself, figures.
Eddie D. Moore
When Eddie D. Moore isn’t playing with his grandchildren, he is driving and visiting strange new worlds via audiobooks, or he is lost in his imagination writing his own tales.
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Lauren is a writer with various hats – journalist, copywriter, content marketer, fiction – and considers herself a storyteller at heart. She writes gothic and folk horror and is currently working on a novel set in the world of the Victorian occult. It’s the supernatural and the occult that really give her goosebumps, and a good ghost story or vampire tale with a rising sense of dread will always pique her interest (and yes, Midnight Mass hit many of her buttons). She also has a developing fascination with folklore, the old ways and our fast-changing relationship with the natural world; this sneaks into her writing, too.
In The Real World, Lauren has more than 20 years’ experience as a professional content creator. She’s established and led global content teams and editorial strategies, including setting up content newsrooms for some of the world’s biggest brands. She was a music editor for a daily newspaper in her native Australia (a good gig and the beach remain her happy places), though she’s been London-based for 16 years and works as an editor, proofreader, marketer, and writing coach. She’s also a mental health advocate; her Substack, How to Be Self(ish), tracked her year of sabbatical and self-care, and she continues to write it irregularly as a mental health companion.
You’ll find Lauren haunting south London, where she lives with her Doctor Who-obsessed husband and their aged black house rabbit. You’ll also likely find her hosting Writers Hour sessions for the London Writers Salon a few times a week.