Trembling With Fear 09/19/21
Please note: We are temporarily closed to short flash stories (unless for one of the Specials) but open to drabbles, unholy trinities and serials. We hope to reopen later in the year once we have caught up with the publication of those already accepted. Please also remember to read our guidelines, especially on word counts!
Slowly getting used to the drop in temperature as autumn moves on and with the darker nights, thoughts turn to things spooky. In my case, another first. I will be attending the UK Ghost Story Festival in Derby at the end of November and will be taking part in my first panel – Ghostly Connections- Folk Horror in 2021; I will also be hosting a Black Angel Press event with Alyson Faye, though she will be doing most of the talking 😊. We also have a book table, so please come over, grab a book, or just say hello.
First up this week in Trembling with Fear is Mind Shadow by Nathan Chu is cleverly constructed as the reader is invited to get into the head of the main character making it feel like a private conversation between you and him. Then you discover he has another audience, another reason for his explanation. And the final sentence is simply chilling.
Renewal by G.A. Miller brings together an occasion of remembrance and celebration. That the factor of remembrance might play a part in renewal is done with a light touch.
Slough by Christina Nordlander is a piece of writing which will trigger empathy in many of our women readers. Menstruation is little talked about. This short piece conveys a lot of the darker side of the process.
Tricksters by April Yates gives us a different perspective and it’s the tone of the writing that implies something darker is just around the corner.
Enjoy our stories and send in yours!
Today I wanted to show a personal thank you and shout out to Holley Cornetto! Not only has she joined our team as an article writer a bit back but has been helping write our last few newsletter entrees which has been a have savior of my time as my current class for my MBA has just been painful to my time.
Next up, a bit of a surprise. I completely forgot our store posted to social media when new things were added. So, when I tried to stealth re-add the store and add a couple of products to it, they were announced all over the place early! Horror Tree stickers are OFFICIALLY available. You can get the logo in our current style, sepia, grayscale, and red! (Thanks to those who ordered them early!)
Finally a couple of reminders:
- Trembling With Fear is open for our Halloween Edition until October 13th, so be sure to get your stories in! Full details can be found here.
- If you run a website and would like to write an article about Horror Tree or Trembling With Fear, we’d really appreciate that! Please reach out with any questions for facts in the article (who does what, when sections were started, etc), any promotional artwork, or with a link once it is live so we can feature it on the site and on our social media.
Have a great week e
Mind Shadow by Nathan Chu
“You can feel it, can’t you? It’s like a black satin cloth, all folded up and tucked between books on a shelf, only, you let a corner hang out, because one day you might need it. Keep it out of view, but leave a tag so you can snatch it up.
“It’s that dark well at the back of your brain, the place you shy away from when you sleep. You know you want that blackness, those thoughts that bubble up into your dreams, but you’re afraid you’ll tumble down the well, so you steer clear of it and huddle around your night light.
“Maybe something’ll creep up on you while you’re sleeping, so you keep your back to the light and watch it, watch it until you doze off into a half sleep. You never wonder if there’s something down there cowering and waiting for you to drop down.
“I first fell down in elementary school. I woke up propped against the basketball court wall. It was an outdoor one, with a roof, a kind of drab blue metal. Each hoop was bolted to the end walls, but there weren’t any walls running the court length-wise. The floor was a smooth concrete, very different from the rest of the playground’s asphalt.
“I must have run outside during class since there was no one around me. It was a cold day, gray skies, slight breeze. My arms hurt the most, all cold and sore.
“When I tried getting back into the building, all the doors were locked, so I had to climb the fence and go around to the front entrance which had had its glass shattered. When I knocked on my classroom door, my teacher rushed out and grabbed me. She screamed at me in that hoarse whisper that people get when they try to be quiet. Apparently there was a gunman on campus.
“They found his body in the basketball court. It had been dragged there.
“It happened like that a lot. I’d wake up with my hands and arms freezing, tingling. I’m not a narc, I’d just black out. My memory at least.
“I think the first time I was aware of what was happening was in middle school, eighth grade to be precise. We were sitting in the back of class, that was back when I still sat on top of the desks or backwards in a chair. I don’t know what we were talking about, but she just wouldn’t shut up and let me speak, so I slapped her.
“It wasn’t a hard slap, more like a tap, like a “let me speak for a second.” Of course she slapped me back, a lot harder. But that didn’t really bother me. Instead of being angry or feeling panicked, it was just a coolness. I didn’t really care what happened.
“That’s the way it was. I’d get a certain distance away from what was happening. Not like disassociation, no. I was still very much in my body, just… dispassionate. You understand, right? I can tell you do. You didn’t even flinch before. That’s why I’m telling you this.
“It’s useful, isn’t it? It helps when dealing with things, that detachment. You just don’t care much about what’s going to happen, how people are going to view you or what’s going to happen to them.
“It helped me win quite a few sparring matches in school. Did you know that punching the solar plexus is a rather bad move? If you’re going to punch, throw for the face. Not being able to breathe for a few seconds is hard, but a broken nose is harder.
“Ah, sorry. You already know that, right? I guess I did just show you. He was a perfect example, just like those brutes in high school. Came at me without any guard, what an easy target.
“Are you climbing back out? Your eyes are darting all over now. It must be rough feeling your blood rush back into your body, all those little pinpricks, all those pesky emotions that you felt so calm without. Are you scared or interested? Or maybe both? It’s so troublesome to climb out.
“Him? Oh, him. What about him?
“Am I worried? No.
“Yes, even if they find him or when he wakes up. I imagine they’ll rush him to a hospital first though.
“The people? What will they think when they find out? It doesn’t really matter. I don’t care what they think. It’s not like they ever try and stop me or even say anything. Who cares if I knock someone off the street? They don’t care, I don’t care, unless they’re too scared to tell me, and then they don’t matter in the first place.
“You can walk through an entire city and not meet anyone willing to speak their mind or let their body move, at least not on their own. Oh, people can do it in groups, but if you make one person back down?
“Some people can stand up, like that man over there. That doesn’t bother me. They can handle what I throw at them. But it’s their fault if they decide they can’t after all. It’s even worse when they think they can and can’t.
“So why am I telling you this? It occurred to me that I’d like to share this freedom with someone, the way that things just slide off. It’s good for your health, gets rid of that tension, lets you slide down that well and be who you really are.
“You’re curious, right? After all, you’re still here. Instead of screaming and running, you’re here, listening to me.
“Think about it, think about that man over there. You’re not happy being around him, right? I saw how you were around him, cowering, shying away when he yelled at you to shut up. What if you just didn’t listen, didn’t care?
“I could see it in your face when I beat him down. You felt relaxed, didn’t you? It’s his fault for stopping me when I was just minding my own business and his fault for getting up again. It’s his fault for everything that happens, right?
“It’s his fault he didn’t protect you from this creepy man in the alley. It’s his fault for being weak and taking his frustrations out on you. Why do you need to feel for him?
“Come, let me tell you how to stop hiding from the dark.”
The officiant smiled and raised her hands to get the group’s attention.
“Good afternoon everyone. We’ve gathered together to share in the celebration as Catherine and Joseph renew their wedding vows to each other.
Before we begin, let’s first observe a moment of silence to honor those who cannot be here with us today.”
As everyone bowed their heads, the clapper inside the large metal wind chime struck the side once, ringing clearly in the quiet yard.
Heads looked up in surprise, the air warm, still and calm.
No one noticed Catherine’s eyes changing, turning deep red, her renewal complete.
G.A. Miller takes his ideas from every day, commonplace events that take unforeseen turns down dark corridors, often with horrific consequences. His lifelong bond with horror began in the late 1950s watching Shock Theater on TV and grew from there. When he picked up the first paperback edition of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot in 1976, there was no turning back.
Once he began committing his own demons to paper, he’s had numerous stories published in a variety of publications. His latest novella is The Shopkeeper: Curios, Curiosities and Rarities.
Eight days, and the menstruation continues. It hurts less, but the flow is as heavy as before.
“You must be losing one litre of blood a day,” Brentyn says.
But the largest part of menstruation isn’t blood, it’s tissue. The innermost, disposable layer of the womb sponges up and falls off with the cramps. The decidua, it’s called. There can’t be anything left of it now. Perhaps it is peeling off another internal layer, then another.
Sometimes I imagine that something new will fill the hollow. Sometimes I just think it will continue until there’s nothing left under my skin.
Christina Nordlander was born 1982 in Sweden, but has lived in the UK since 2001. She is currently living outside Birmingham with her husband Graham and two cats. She also has a PhD in Classics and Ancient History from the University of Manchester. She has published about ten short stories both in Sweden and the English-speaking world, most recently the drabble “New Sensation” in Trembling with Fear. Sometimes, she dabbles in indie game development and visual arts.
Link to her Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?
Link to her Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/
I observe them from my hiding place, making note of their habits.
They are tricksters, altering their appearance by ripping off their fur and skin, replacing them with new colours and textures, but they can’t fool me. I know they are the same ones who try to coax me from the safety of my shelter.
They must want me alive, because they leave me food and water when they disappear for hours at a time.
I drift off, for there’s nothing else to do.
I’m awoken from my slumber by being scooped up, the creature murmuring, “Theres a good kitty.”
April Yates lives in Derbyshire with her wife and two fluffy demons masquerading as dogs.
She should be working on her novella about the horrors of golden age Hollywood, but is easily distracted by the squirrels in her garden.
Find her on Twitter @April_Yates_ and tell her to get back to work, or aprilyates.com
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Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her longer work includes the folk horror novels, The Five Turns of the Wheel, Reborn, and The Woodcutter, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused (all via Brigids Gate Press). Her dark poetry has been published in her collections Lilith Rising (co-authored with Shane Douglas Keene), Foundlings (co-authored with Cindy O’Quinn) and Metallurgy, as well as the HWA Poetry Showcase Volumes VI, VII, VIII, and IX and Black Spot Books Under Her Skin. She can be found supporting indie authors at HorrorTree.com via the weekly Indie Bookshelf Releases. She can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on Blue Sky as stephellis.bsky.social.