Many thanks to those of you who contacted me with regard to feedback for your submissions. All were supportive and constructive, so I will continue to give feedback but not as detailed as before, this should help me get my writing balance right!

On the publication front, I have news that a new anthology, the Indiana Horror Review 2018 (James Ward Kirk Fiction) will soon be available, featuring no less than two stories – Slaughter Hill and The Immortalisation of Mary Kelly – from our own Richard Meldrum. Knowing his writing quality, I am sure this’ll prove a good read. I have also just received my copy of the Her Dark Voices charity anthology (written in support of breast cancer) featuring Horror Tree interviewer Ruchelle Dillon as well as other TWF contributors. This will be battling for my attention soon with the proof copy of TWF’s own anthology which is winging its way towards the shores of Britain … and that other little project of mine – DeadCades – is heading towards the last stages of production as well.

A little reminder now that we have special editions coming up in the next few months for Hallowe’en and Christmas. Feel free to send in stories relating to these themes. Much as I hate thinking about Christmas outside of December, I’m sure I can put those feelings to one side …

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank a few lovely TWF contributors for agreeing to beta read my novel (The Five Turns of the Wheel). Finally finished it and it’s now with Alyson Faye, Kev Harrison and Phillip Dixon (and a couple of other writer friends outside of TWF) for their opinions. This is a process I would recommend by the way – if I’ve not mentioned it before – whether it’s for short stories or a novel – find yourself people you know who will give honest and constructive feedback. Yes, it can be nerve-wracking as reading is subjective and they might not like it but it is one of the most useful things you can do.

With this WIP out of the way for the moment and other things coming to a head, it’s allowing me time to think of what my next project will be and I do have a few ideas. I am hoping NaNoWriMo this year will give a form to it. Anyone else doing NaNo?

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Ladies, Gentlemen, My Dog who I’m reading this out loud to in hopes to prevent any significant mistakes – I Have Good News!

We’ve finalized the cover for The Trembling With Fear: Year 1 which has now been previewed by our Patreons and proof copies have been ordered and are on route to Steph and myself! This means that once they take a week or so to come in and we each have a chance to look them over if there are no issues the anthology can go live shortly after! We’ll be doing the cover reveal here soon(ish!)

I’m excited, your hopefully excited, so I’ll leave you with this:

‘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

The Death of Rejection

“Unoriginal.” The felt tip screams in the silence as it pulls across the page to connect the corners, then squeaks as it is repositioned and connects the other two corners in an angry ‘X’.

“But–”

“Unnecessary.” A shake of the head this time as the dark red tears into the flesh of another page, a large circle swallows three paragraphs before the ‘X’ buries the words beneath the edit.

“Wait–”

“Uninterested.” The firm conviction of the decision swims in lifeless eyes that glare from the opposite side of the desk, intimidation and disappointment mute the slap of the manuscript as it skips from the wood and explodes against his chest.

He stoops to collect the papers cluttered with corrections, while the red ink hemorrhages and expands to disguise whatever story he was trying to tell. His arms fight to pinch a crumpled and unsteady pile clutched tight, as stray chapters flutter and depart in the soft breath of central air.

The crimson that hides so much of his work seeps into hungry skin, warmth from his hands spills into shaky arms, and veins thump taut in his neck beneath the grimace smeared across a purple face. His heart pumps fire and desperation as his eyes burn into the face that leans back across from him. The armloads of dissatisfaction drop to the floor as he steps forward, and a flinch allows him a laugh as he pulls something from between the mahogany and stacks of other unfortunates waiting to hear about their submissions.

Stained paper crinkles and crunches under tattered shoes as he backs away, a blink of sharp gold clutched tight in his fist holds the hateful stare now. He lowers to a knee, and then the other. The metal glows under fluorescent light as it is gently placed on top of the disheveled heap of unfulfilled expectations, and he sits back on his heels with a sigh.

“Just words,” his voice barely audible over the electric hum of a recycled breeze, “Uninspired and meaningless to you, maybe, but this is part of me.” He closes a fist around wadded streaks of scarlet and black, pain and memories mixed into the fiction that soaks creased sheets between his fingers, and lowers his gaze as his body begins to shake violently. He blows a sharp breath through clenched teeth with a whistle, and the sparkle of gold turns over and changes hands while he waits, until he explodes in choking gulps for air. He pulls his shirt up over his head, jagged shadows shift and dance to hug the crude scars that litter his abdomen. “These stories live within me and clog my veins. I bleed ink.”

The shiny tip of the letter opener parts the skin and pushes into his stomach a few inches to the side of his belly button.

Silence does little to disguise the shock in the eyes across the table as the gold tugs at the skin and splits the pink of old wounds, rivulets of crimson wiggle and disappear between his fingers to join the growing pool beneath him, and his hands are at the other side. Slick blood drips from the blade before it disappears into the skin again, just beneath the sternum. The mouth beneath horrified eyes gapes and pushes the stench of nicotine and coffee into the air between them.

The hands quit moving again once they reach his pelvis, their eyes meet, and he falls forward into the stinking squish of his intestines with a smile.

An exasperated sigh bleeds into the beginning of a question, and confidence returns, “Are you done?” The editor stands and continues, “Still nothing new.” Sunglasses unfold and wrap the head that shakes in disbelief, “Seriously? Ritual suicide? Hara-kiri?” Gravel scrapes out a chuckle, “It’s been done. Now,” he looks at his watch, “since you’re dead, I’m late for lunch.” Slick leather soles tiptoe through the gore and over the corpse lying prone in the middle of the floor. “And another thing,” he wipes a sticky heel on the carpet, “why didn’t you just email it?” He pauses at the door and watches the fallen writer for a moment, “You just started, and you’re already outdated. Plus,” he kicks the overflowing wastebasket near the exit, “the garbage is getting pretty full.” He spins to leave and a burst of sputtering gasps startles him.

“Wait.”

The voice pulls to his knees, then leans forward onto all fours. He tries to stand and stumbles, tripping to a mouthful in the slippery tangle of entrails. He reaches the edge of the desk and pulls himself up, “Wait, please, this is different,” his knees wobble and the wood cracks under his grip, but he doesn’t fall.

“Nope, I’m done.”

“But I’m not.” Scotch Tape squeals from the dispenser and breaks into long strips that hold his guts in place, the lengths criss cross and bunch together, until the roll is finished. “I’m not going away. I invest myself fully in everything I send your way, and every rejection kills me, but I will never truly die.” Half a smile on his lips, a stapler is pulled open and slams into his stomach. Each tiny piece of metal barely strong enough to hold the stray curl of intestine that it tacks down. He stops to feel around, satisfied, and points at his handiwork with a smirk, “See?”

Speechless study is the only response.

“You can hurt me…you can even kill me,” he motions toward his sloppy wounds, “but you can’t get rid of me.” He bends to gather the scattered papers and stumbles again, but regains his balance. Holding his words in a sticky, controlled mess that dangles dangerously close to disaster, he mutters, “Thank you for your time and consideration,” and shoulders past the stunned editor. “Keep your eyes on the inbox for my next one.”

Kevin Berg

Kevin Berg is the author of Indifference and Daddy Monster. His shorts can be found at Pulp Metal Magazine, Near to the Knuckle, The Blood Red Experiment, and Horror Sleaze Trash, among others. Look for him on Goodreads and Facebook, let him know what you think.

Webpage: https://kevinbergauthor.wordpress.com

Amazon author page: https://author.to/kevinberg

Facebook: Kevin Berg

Ggoodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16225161.Kevin_Berg

 

Beneath the Ice

At 11pm the town’s rink was deserted. The McGuire sisters were there alone and illegally.

Laughing they glided onto the ice.

Livvy tripped, fell face first on to the ice, then screamed. An endless ululation. Amy wobbled over, looked down and froze.

Faces stared up at the sisters. A gallery of them; men and women, children with ice-glazed eyes, Mouths open in stretched silent screams. Jaws unhinged.

Amy scrabbled at the ice, ripping her nails. A crack appeared.

Skeletal hands reached up, caught Amy’s blades and tugged her down. The icy underworld’s denizens consumed her.

Livvy lay till morning. Watching.

Alyson Faye

Alyson lives in West Yorkshire with her family and 3 rescue cats. She teaches creative writing classes, writes noir Flash Fiction and ghost stories. She is one of the writers in ‘Women in Horror Annual 2’, in Raging Aardvark’s ‘Twisted Tales’, her stories can be downloaded at www.alfiedog.com as well as being available on various sites like zeroflash/Tubeflash/101 words/three drops from a cauldron. Her flash fiction debut collection, ‘Badlands’ is out now from indie publisher Chapeltown Books – here’s the interview http://www.chapeltownpublishing.uk/2018/01/badlands-by-alyson-faye.html and is available to buy from amazon.

You can find out more on her blog- www.alysonfayewordpress.wordpress.com

or at her amazon author page http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01NBYSLRT

Her twitter handle is @AlysonFaye2.

Dinnertime

Princess Kata entered the courtyard carrying a large bowl of table scraps in her hands. She bent to set down the dish and a Samurai assassin stepped from the shadows. He brandished a longsword in one hand and his short sword in the other.

He stepped forward and smiled. “Well, Princess, I’ve got you now.”

The royal wolfhound leapt from the shadows and bit off the Samurai’s arm.

The Samurai dropped to his knees and looked at Princess Kata with questioning eyes.

She watched him bleeding to death. “He hates it when you stand between him and his food dish.”

 

Robert Allen Lupton

Robert Allen Lupton is retired and lives in New Mexico where he is a commercial hot air balloon pilot. Robert runs and writes every day, but not necessarily in that order. He has been published in several anthologies and his short stories are online at www.horrortree.com and www.crimsonstreets.com. His novel, Foxborn, was published in April, 2017. His collection of running themed horror, science fiction, and adventures stories, Running Into Trouble, was published in October, 2017. Dragonborn, the Foxborn sequel will be released in April, 2018

www.amazon.com/author/luptonra

www.goodreads.com/author/show/15292457.Robert_Allen_Lupton

https://www.hometownreads.com/books/foxborn

The Ride

In the small boat, Alice and Bob floated thru the water ride, “Tiny World”.

Animatronic children sang and sang, “It’s a tiny world.”

“Annoying,” thought Bob.

“Babies” dreamt Alice.

The ride halted.

The children sang louder.

A robotic voice boomed over the intercom. “Resuming – one hour”.

“Seriously?!”  Bob. yelled toward the voice.

“I hate babies,’ Alice wept.

Another hour…

“…It’s a tiny world…”

“My brain aches,” moaned Bob.

“My eardrums are throbbing” whined Alice.

The boat finally lurched forward.

Then emerged outside.

Finding the couple slumped together –  dead – with Alice’s ears bled out, and

Bob’s rattled brain exploded.

 

Fayth L. Borden

I have written and published nearly one dozen horror poems the past few years in small press zines.

I have written these poems for many years now and began submitting them. Happily several editors enjoyed them and published

From the conciseness of horror poems I turned to writing horror drabbles.  I discovered the challenge of Drabbles which have the feel of poetic storytelling to me as they must be concise, direct and grab an emotion at the end.

Horror in any form has intrigued me all my life.  I’d spend hours in the libraries, from childhood till even now, reading horror and learning how authors create macabre worlds with a thought and a string of sentences with the right words that scare!  

My love of the horror genre began as a child listening to the stories told by my Sicilian aunts and uncles of ghosts, exorcisms and all unholy phenomenon from the homeland.  Scaring me and my cousins was an achieved goal. And we loved it!

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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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