Wednesday evening/night is becoming very much my time for catching up with TWF. Work has been pretty draining of late and I’ve developed a tendency to fall asleep when I get home – hopefully just a phase but it does mean I don’t always check things as often as I normally do. If you haven’t heard about something for a while, drop me a line, especially on Wednesday and I’ll be able to give you an update (bear in mind the UK is about 6 hours ahead of the US). Weekends are also TWF but have been hit with family stuff, although that is settling as two of my kids have left for uni and the house is quieter. More time to procrastinate!

Speaking of procrastination, make sure to listen to This is Horror’s 300th podcast. I’m about half way through and it features Adam Nevill, Joe R. Lansdale and Josh Malerman amongst others. Entertaining and informative.

I recently heard that the Miscreations anthology from Doug Murano and Michael Bailey will be sending out decisions on story submission over this week, so good luck if you are one of the almost 900 who subbed.

Now to Trembling With Fear and the first story up is Deferment by DJ Tyrer. A young woman seeks to escape a troubled past only to have more than brush death. Each time the same stranger saves her, but is he truly her saviour or is he something more sinister. As events unfold, the reader has to reassess the stranger – good or bad, angel or devil. You’ll only find out at the end. And that is the sign of a good writer – keeping you guessing, forcing you to keep on to the end.

Fire and Ice by G.A. Miller is a telling. We often avoid pieces which don’t carry a ‘story’ as it were but there are exceptions and this is one of them. It’s an absolutely brutal depiction of pain and feels incredibly personal, as if the writer was using this as a catharsis. Raw, blunt emotion is a powerful weapon in a writer’s toolbox

The Guest by Eddie D. Moore is a variation on the theme of food which we all write and which are published quite regularly at TWF. The challenge these days is how do you introduce the ‘ugh’ moment. This example achieves it with a neat, understated last line.

Full Wife, Happy Wife by Alexander Pyles is another gastronomical delight as well as being a nice example of a revenge tale. Dark humour is also tinged with a hint of tragedy in the lives of others, sharing the recipe with others in her book club because ‘some of them could use it’. Tight writing at its best.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Whew. Busy week! Had a couple of drabbles accepted and made some real progress on actual writing for the first time in about a month. 

At any rate, I’ve got a couple calls to put out real quick! On the site end of things, our review and interview coordinator has to step back to just doing interviews so we’re looking for 2 new coordinators (one for each of the above.) If that sounds like something which you’d be interested in it would involve chasing down reviewers and interviewers, scheduling both of them, and formatting posts (either on the backend of the site or in an email to me which I would post from.) If that that sounds like something you’d be interested in, please send an email in to [email protected]!

The second request is to all of the writers who contribute to Trembling With Fear! We’re getting a little low on drabble and would love to see an influx of writing! That is all. 

We hope you’ve had a great weekend!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Deferment

She screamed as the pickup whooshed past her, the wing mirror clipping her arm.

“Got you.” She fell back into the arms of the man who’d grabbed her. He helped her stand.

“Thanks.” She rubbed her arm: It hurt and was certain to have a huge bruise, but it didn’t feel broken. She flexed her elbow; sore, but it moved okay.

“I’m Sarah,” she said, turning to look at the man. “You saved my life.”

He nodded. “You’re welcome.”

The man was tall and slim and wore a black suit; if he was a businessman, he was from Wall Street, not this small burg. With sunglasses hiding his eyes, he looked like a film star or a stylish Mafiosi. She felt an unexpected tingle as he continued to rest a hand on her arm; as if afraid she might stagger back into the road.

“Can I get you a drink?” He released her.

“Uh, well, I need to leave town.”

“There isn’t another bus for two hours,” he told her.

“How did…?”

“How else would you leave town?” His lips twitched as if he were about to smile, but his face remained expressionless. “Come on, I’ll buy you a drink.”

He slipped his hand into the small of her back and she let him guide her towards the coffee shop. If she were with him, she’d probably be safer than trying to hide somewhere on her own till the bus was ready to go.

A bell jangled as they entered the shop and the half-dozen customers looked around at them, then looked away, uninterested.

“Two Americanos, please,” the man in black called, tossing some dollar bills onto the counter as they went past, leading her to a private booth.

A waitress brought their drinks over.

“How about a game to pass the time?” He took a packet of cards from the pocket of his jacket and began to shuffle the deck.

“You’re weird,” she said, then nodded. “Might as well pass the time.”

He dealt the cards. “Poker.”

“You’re not suggesting a game of strip poker?” Sarah asked. Why was she acting like this? She shouldn’t feel flirty, not now, but she did.

The man shook his head just a little.

“I’m not your type?”

“If I were looking for a lover, you would be exactly my type, Sarah.” His lips twitched again.

She felt herself blush a little. It almost felt as if life were worth living.

They started to play. She sipped at her coffee.

Suddenly, the man dropped his cards and half-turned his head. “We have to go.”

“What?” She looked around the wall of the booth, trying to see what was wrong.

“Come on.” He was already standing beside her as he took her hand and pulled her to her feet. As he led Sarah to the door that led to the washrooms, she heard the jangle of the bell and looked back: Two men had entered the coffee shop; she recognised them as Albie’s.

“This way.” The man in black led her into the ladies’ washroom and gave her a boost to the window. She managed to get it open and slithered through it. “Run for it.”

Sarah pelted off down the alley. When she glanced back, her saviour was just behind her.

She burst out of the alleyway and, once again, felt the man’s firm grip on her arms as he pulled her back before the cab struck her.

She threw her arms around him. “That’s twice you’ve saved me! Three times, if you count the coffee shop.”

She kissed his cheek. He almost twitched a smile.

“I know where we can go until the bus is ready,” he said, gently prising her off him.

They went via alleys and backstreets until they reached a scrap yard. Faded police tape flapped limply from a gatepost.

“In here.” He pushed a fence board back so she could slip inside.

“This place was in the news. Those three teens who were dealing crystal meth were murdered here. Albie had them killed.” She shuddered: The news report hadn’t mentioned her brother-in-law by name. She supposed the police knew he was behind the killings, but he was always careful to avoid incriminating himself. Just as nobody would ever prove he’d had Wayne killed.

“That’s right.”

“Why come here?” she asked as they headed for the shack that served as an office.

“I’m familiar with it and nobody will come here.”

Sarah shivered. Was he one of Albie’s thugs? Was this all just a ploy to kill her without witnesses?

As if he’d read her mind, the man said, “I know your brother-in-law well. Don’t worry, I mean you no harm, Sarah.”

“O-kay.”

They settled down on old wooden chairs either side of a rickety old table.

Sarah sighed. “I have to get out of here, start a new life. Not that I’ve any idea how: I’ve got money for my bus ticket and that’s about it. And, with…” She trailed off, then added: “I don’t know how I’ll manage.”

“You need cash.”

“And, how.”

He took a wad of bills from his pocket and laid them on the table. “There’s fifty-thousand there in twenty dollar bills.”

“I can’t take that!” she gasped, wondering what he expected her to do to earn it.

The man gave a shrug. “We never finished our game.”

He took out another pack of cards and began to shuffle the deck.

“I thought you left those behind: How many packs do you carry?”

His lips twitched and he said, “Shall we play?”

“Why not? There’s still over an hour to kill.”

“Tell you what, I’ll wager this.” He tapped the money.

“What against? I’ve got nothing.”

“How about you bet your life?”

“What?” Her earlier fears resurfaced.

“Without it, you can’t start a new life. How long till Albie’s goons catch up with you if you’re running on air? If you lose…” He left the outcome to her imagination. “But, if you win, you get this fifty grand to start over.”

“Sure, why not?” If he was going to kill her, he was going to do it regardless. If he was just joking or the offer was real, then why not?

He dealt the cards and they began to play. The cards were very much in her favour.

He folded.

“You win,” he said, sliding the wad of bills across the table to her.

“Really? No fooling?”

“Really. No fooling, Sarah. It’s yours.”

She took the money and slipped it into her handbag.

“Right, let’s get you both on that bus.”

They followed the back ways and he didn’t leave her side till she boarded the bus.

Sarah settled herself in an aisle seat near the back, hoping not to be spotted as the bus drove out of town. As it began to pull away, she leaned around her neighbour and got one last look at the man who’d saved her life. He watched the bus depart, eyes still hidden behind his sunglasses.

Her thoughts returned to his last words to her at the scrap yard: How had he known she was pregnant? Not even Wayne had known, before… She’d have to ask him: Somehow, she just knew she’d see him again.

 

#

 

The man in black slipped away, unseen. People only saw him if he wanted them to.

He felt no regret at throwing the game in order to let her live: It was merely a deferment. He would see Sarah again, one day, regardless, and her unborn son held so much potential. Everyone died, eventually, of course, but how they died was reflected in the… sustenance they provided, and Sarah’s son would offer them up in exquisite suffering.

His lips twitched the hint of a smile. He could almost taste them. Better, even, than those Albie gave him.

 

DJ Tyrer

DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines around the world, such as Chilling Horror Short Stories (Flame Tree), All The Petty Myths (18th Wall), Steampunk Cthulhu (Chaosium), What Dwells Below (Sirens Call), The Mad Visions of al-Hazred (Alban Lake), and EOM: Equal Opportunity Madness (Otter Libris), and issues of Sirens Call, Hinnom Magazine, Ravenwood Quarterly, and Weirdbook, and in addition, has a novella available in paperback and on the Kindle, The Yellow House (Dunhams Manor).

DJ Tyrer’s website is at https://djtyrer.blogspot.co.uk/

The Atlantean Publishing website is at https://atlanteanpublishing.wordpress.com/

Fire and Ice

Fire and ice.

Yeah, we’re all familiar with the phrase, but let me tell you something. You don’t really know fire and ice until a cold steel blade pierces your skin and forces its way inside, slicing through anything in its path.

The cold metal shocks you then the heat of your body reacting to the unwanted intrusion flushes warmth to the area.

Your skin is warmed where the blood flows yet cooling everywhere else as you begin the slow descent into cold darkness, a pitch-black abyss with no tunnel, no light beckoning to you.

That is fire and ice.

 

G.A. Miller

G.A. Miller is a new voice in the chorus of horror authors, drawing his ideas from every day, commonplace events that take unforeseen turns down dark corridors, often with horrific consequences.

His work has been published in numerous anthologies from a variety of publishers, and he’s just released his first novella, “Spirit of the Dead”, now available at Amazon.

https://talesfrommiller.com/

http://gamillerdotblog.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100015787309417

https://twitter.com/GMiller666

Full Wife, Happy Wife

Jim was a good husband. I took another bite of dinner. The place settings were all laid out so impeccably. Streaks of maroon marred the white ceramic of the plates

 

Oh, silly me for noticing the table. Jim was such a goof, when he wasn’t hitting me. Son of a bitch had a helluv an arm. The bruises would last for days.

 

I sighed as I took another bite, this recipe is excellent though. I will have to share with the book club. I know some of them could use it.

 

Jim’s last good deed was as a good meal.

 

Alexander Pyles

Alexander Pyles resides in IL with his wife and children. He holds an MA in Philosophy and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. His short story chapbook titled, “Milo (01001101 01101001 01101100 01101111),” from Radix Media, is due out fall 2019. His other short fiction has appeared in Drabblez Magazine, 101fiction.org and other venues. He is also featured in several Black Hare Press anthologies. You can find him at www.pylesofbooks.com or @Pylesofbooks.  

The Guest

The timer dinged. Peter smiled at his guest, and said, “It’s finally done.” He placed the roasting pan on the table and removed the lid. The smell of seasoned meat, potatoes, and carrots filled the room. Peter fixed two plates.

Peter sighed when his guest refused to look at the food. “If you don’t eat meat, at least try the vegetables.”

“I’m not hungry.”

Peter took a bite and followed it with a sip of wine. “You should try it. They pair nicely.”

His guest glanced at the bandage covering the stump where his leg ended and shook his head.

Eddie D. Moore

Eddie D. Moore travels hundreds of hours a year, and he fills that time by listening to audiobooks. When he isn’t playing with his grandchildren, he writes his own stories. His stories have been published by Kzine, Alien Dimensions, Black Hare Press, Nomadic Delirium Press, Fantasia Divinity Publishing and by dozens of online publishers. You can find a list of his publications on his blog, eddiedmoore.wordpress.com, or by visiting his Amazon Author Page, amazon.com/author/eddiedmoore. While you’re there, be sure to pick up a copy of his mini-anthology Misfits & Oddities

Welcome To Slaver Town

Fry Machete had taken out insurmountable evil in his day.

Nothing could have prepared him for what he found in Regal Snow, Texas.

He’d been there to cover Brisket Battalion for “Monsters, Munchies, and Mayhem.”

Instead, he found a creature that bewitched its customers.

Enslaving them to return, imagining the perfect life, and feeding off them.

It had feasted for decades.

Thankfully, the creature was no match for Fry.

Now he could get back to his cushy life as a star.

Just after he stopped into the new brisket place in town he was dying to try for the show.

Stuart Conover

Stuart Conover is a father, husband, rescue dog owner, horror author, blogger, journalist, horror enthusiast, comic book geek, science fiction junkie, and IT professional. With all of that to cram in on a daily basis, it is highly debatable that he ever is able to sleep and rumors have him attached to an IV drip of caffeine to get through most days. 

A resident in the suburbs of Chicago (and once upon a time in the city) most of Stuart’s fiction takes place in the Midwest if not the Windy City itself. From downtown to the suburbs to the cornfields – the area is ripe for urban horror of all facets.

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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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