Trembling With Fear 09/06/20
Two days back at work this past week but it also saw me cram in a few more tasks before I had to start readjusting my available time due to the day job. I’ve been editing more stories for the Inferno anthology – and I’ve also been reading a book sent to me prior to its release. This book is something I would class as a YA Dark fantasy which, in keeping with my current dive into Hell, via the Inferno, focusses very much on that dark place, as well as Heaven and in between. Surviving Death by Sarah Gribble is a very smooth read with some great dashes of humour amongst the tragedies of human life. With my librarian head on, it’s one I would also put on the shelves for my older teens.
Still as a librarian, I would like to say something here to all those who write YA or younger and would like to see their books on school library shelves. I’ve read some indie press YA books which – whilst being very good stories – have been let down by the editing/proofreading/formatting. Typos which we know exist and can tolerate as an adult, understanding they will be addressed as newer editions come out, are something I cannot allow in. I rarely see them in books by the big publishers – possibly one, even rarer two, but that’s it. As someone who has to ensure quality in a school environment, the book has to be as near perfect as possible. If you intend to aim for this market, get an editor/proof-reader and go through your book with a fine toothcomb. I’ve cringed over the years at letters home from school, and even spelling lists, which have included typos. It’s an environment which has to set an example and I cannot wave a book at a student which has a noticeable number of such mistakes, regardless of the brilliance of the story. Sorry for the rant but that is a bugbear of mine in the day job. By the way, I’m not saying I’m perfect – I make mistakes and sometimes they slip through and I cringe when that happens – but the school environment is different.
Another shoutout here. This time to ourselves and I’m sure Stuart will mention this in his editorial bit. Our anthologies live! It’s taken a bit of time as real-life commitments have impacted on their progress but they are now available on amazon. Like Cerberus, the anthology has grown three heads: Year 3, More Tales from the Tree and Serial Killers. If we had combined our 2019 output in one volume, the result would have been a brick! Thank you to everyone who has contributed to TWF – your support has been really appreciated.
And the final mention today goes to the wonderful Kevin M. Folliard. A regular contributor to TWF with consistently excellent writing (his novelette, Candy Corn is terrific), he has a new collection of his dark stories available – The Misery King’s Closet. Grab a copy, let him know what you think!
The first story this week in Trembling with Fear, A Bloody Hounding by Mark Anthony Smith, is told simply – a straightforward dive into a teen’s angst, the typical moody teen, and a chilling transformation. Each step leads you on to an end whose impact is all the greater because of its bluntness. I often decry the lack of emotion in the characters of a story but when it is stripped away at a certain point – as it is in that last paragraph, it becomes a powerful tool.
Escape Room by RJ Meldrum uses a more modern setting, something which has provided a popular form of entertainment in recent times. Keep up with new developments and use them in your stories.
In the Flood by Mike Rader shows that some things never stay buried. Nature always has a way of getting involved. Use Nature’s ability to change the landscape of both the environment and a story. The paragraph beginning ‘The skeleton floated …’ is a perfect mini-chiller.
Nurse by G.A. Miller is a classic misdirection, set the scene and then undermine it with the last line.
Enjoy the stories and send us yours!
I’m so excited… and I just can’t hide it!
‘Trembling With Fear Year 3’ is out at long last! Today, you can buy it on Amazon as well as pre-order digital copies of ‘More Tales Volume 2 and ‘Serial Killers Volume 1‘ today. Whew. It has been a long ride and has taken longer then I wanted (my fault! Without Steph we wouldn’t have gotten this out the door in time!) but I’m thrilled to unveil it to the world.
With that in mind, we have a couple of big things in the works which I’ll hopefully be able to share more with you soon. Some of it has been on the back burner until we got these out the door.
Remember, if you like any of today’s stories do comment so that the authors can get some feedback. Have a great weekend everyone!
An extra shout out our contributors today. Mark Anthony Smith has been a huge supporter of Horror Tree on Twitter over the past year with RJ Meldrum, Mike Rader, and G.A. Miller all being strong contributors to Trembling With Fear. Thank you, all of you, for your great stories!
A Bloody Hounding by Mark Anthony Smith
Joshua wants to get over her. He thought it’d be forever. It isn’t. She said he deserved someone better. She wants to get her teeth into her Biology studies. Joshua senses Yolanda has been meeting the lad on the football team. “It’s her loss,” David said. That may be. Josh absolutely feels it is his loss too. The grief is eating him alive.
He can’t settle to watch a re-run of Life on Earth. He can’t study his Sociology modules. Josh doesn’t even want to talk with anyone. Conversations are forced, with his parents, at best. What to do? He fidgets and mopes. He starts something he can’t finish. Then he slips into his trainers and tries to forget about her. He leaves the house at 11.35pm.
Holderness Road is quiet. There’s few cars about. Joshua hasn’t got a plan other than to walk. He walks towards East Park. There’s very few people about apart from a shadowy man walking towards him. It looks like his Rottweiler has too much leash. Josh thinks about crossing the road to give the dog a wide berth. His forehead is wringing with sweat. Josh decides to stand his ground.
The dog approaches. It sniffs his balls. Joshua really can’t be bothered. He wants to be alone. The dog sinks his teeth into Josh’s leg. There’s blood. Josh screams and kicks out. It hurts. But he’s more perturbed at being bothered than bitten. Why can’t he be left alone? That bastard. He’d jolt it. He’d show it not to mess. He buries his teeth into the dog’s neck and lashes out at it.
The dog walker tries to pull Joshua away as the dog whimpers. Joshua bites the dog again. The thick-set owner drops his baseball cap as a butterfly knife chinks on the tarmac. Josh is blind with rage. He takes the knife and stabs. He stabs and lashes out. His jeans are bloodied. Everything swims back into view. The streetlights and the breeze are concrete as he realises what he’s done. He shakes his head. The man and his dog are laying on the path. There’s blood everywhere. The man is struggling to breath.
Josh runs home. He takes the back streets. He doesn’t want to be seen. There’s cameras everywhere on the main road. No doubt he’s been clocked already. Josh runs. He feels panic and distress. He can’t believe his strength. His anger is terrible.
Joshua is home. He quietly unlocks the front door and creeps upstairs. The last thing he wants is an ear bashing off his mam. He is covered in blood. Josh undresses. He balls the clothes up into a pillow case. Then the pains kick in. The bites and the scratches are prolific. But there’s growing pains too. His legs hurt so much he growls. He scratches. Josh’s back really hurts. He feels a bit better on all-fours. There is relief in that posture. His forehead burns against the carpet and he grits his teeth. The pains are everywhere.
Joshua howls in torment. He wants to forget about Yolanda. He laughs. He just wants feeding and for someone to take him for a walk. He notices the matted fur on his arms. The laughter turns to disbelief. Joshua looks up at the bedroom window. He doesn’t recognise anything. He doesn’t know where he is. He is hungry. He paws the bedroom door and bounds across the landing. He smells sweat. There is stale sweat and feet and cheap aftershave. He scratches at the door near the bathroom.
The woman wakes up. She doesn’t recognise her son. Joshua doesn’t acknowledge his mother either. He is hungry. He licks her leg and sits. She lashes out from sleep and confusion. He is hungry. She strikes with her foot and he feeds.
Mark Anthony Smith
Mark Anthony Smith was born in Hull. His fictions have appeared in several Horror Anthologies and small press including ‘Aphotic Realm’, ‘Rune Bear’ and ‘The Horror Tree’. His third book, Keep It Inside: and Other Weird Tales published by Red Cape publishing, is on Amazon pre-order.
Facebook: Mark Anthony Smith – Author
The location of the escape room was an abandoned factory. The host took their money, locked them in a room, then switched off the lights.
“I suppose we have to find the hidden catch to exit the room,” said Robyn.
They searched, but there seemed to be no way out.
“I think we’ve failed. Let’s get help,” said Ian.
They thumped on the door, but there was no response. Ian put his ear to the door. There was nothing but silence. It took them two days of waiting in the darkness to finally accept nobody was coming to free them.
RJ Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010. He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Smoking Pen Press and James Ward Kirk Fiction. He is an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.
In the flood
The big river pushed its swollen burden down the network of creeks, forcing predatory tides into shallow drains. The water rose ever faster, lifting detritus from clogged waterways to the surface.
The skeleton floated in the shambles of a night gown. Fish had fed on her eyes but their sockets surveyed the passing banks.
Over there! The house where her husband strangled her, before dumping her body in the canal.
Clutching at reeds, the skeleton stumbled free of the flood.
She staggered to the door, slipped through the timbers, and greeted her descendants.
“See what your father did to me.”
Mike Rader is a pseudonym used by Australian author and poet James Aitchison. As J J Munro and Mike Rader, Aitchison writes horror and noir crime. As James Lee, he writes Asia’s biggest selling horror series for middle readers — Mr Midnight — which has sold over three million copies. His work can be seen at www.flameoftheforest.com
The whisper of legs in white stockings approaching the bed. A 50s era bullet bra thrusts twin peaks against the starched nurse’s whites as her cool hand rests on my forehead. Her ice blue eyes move as she scans my chart before treating me to a gentle smile and a soft, soothing voice.
“Can I get you anything, dear? Maybe a sip of water?”
“How about some shaved ice? I’m awfully warm.”
“I know, sweetie and I’m sorry, but we don’t have ice here.”
“Here? Why’s there no ice in a hospital?”
“A hospital?” she grinned, revealing long, sharp teeth.
G.A. Miller is a new voice in the chorus of horror authors, drawing his ideas from everyday, commonplace events that take unforeseen turns down dark corridors.