The nights are definitely drawing in now and the days are flying by, bringing with it a wish that we humans could hibernate. All I seem to want to do is sleep – and unfortunately that is what happened to me when I put the latest Stephen King/Joe Hill offering from Netflix, In the Tall Grass. I’ve not read the story and the preview made me want to watch it but sadly that was not to be. I might try again but have a horrible feeling history will repeat. Comments on FB re the film appear to be mixed. I don’t know what anyone here thinks of it.

This weekend I will be accompanying my eldest daughter to visit the Monty Python 50th anniversary exhibition at the BFI in London but she also threw in a ‘by the way, do you mind if we go to Foyles bookshop.’ Do I mind? Do I mind? It’s their flagship store and I’ve always wanted to go. If I go in, will I ever leave, is more to the point!

Publication news this week comes from Justin Boote (he who triggered the original idea for our Unholy Trinity) with the release of his charity anthology A Discovery of Writers: short stories from around the world. Contributing writers include TWF alumni, Justin (obviously), Wendy Pearson, David Rae and Ryan Benson. Stories are a range of genres but with plenty of speculative fiction to satisfy TWF reader tastes. You can buy it on amazon here … and I’m sure they’d appreciate a review or two.

Now to Trembling With Fear which starts this week with The Thing on the Mountain by Billy Lyons. Counting flies sounds a bit like Sisyphus pushing a boulder up the mountain only to have it roll back down, although in Nancy’s case it’s to almost get there only for the insects to fly away. A thankless task but one which appears to allow her not to dwell on her situation. Much as the apparent treat of a McDonald’s takeaway also does. Hints of tragedy start to weave their way in half-way through the story, touching moments of closeness between brother and sister coupled with the knowledge that perhaps a big brother can’t be the protector they want to be. So much is shown here, normal banter between siblings, casual discussions of the merits of French fries, the colour of ribbon but with a couple of sentences towards the end you know all is not as it seems. The little things, the minutiae of life are used powerfully. Terrific writing.

Buttons by Alyson Faye brings horror in the form of a garment and a story which reminds me of Bluebeard. A drabble of a fairy tale a la Perrault. Retellings of those old stories of Grimm, Perrault and others would be a great challenge for a drabble.

Five by Patrick Winters gives us a window into a brain in decay. What are the last thoughts any of us would have?

Losing a Monster by Radar DeBoard is a story of absorption or ‘becoming’. A sense of calmness drifts over the writing, an acceptance of what is coming, the mood so at odds with the final result. I really liked the way this mood washed over everything.

Thank you to all, for writing and submitting to TWF.

 

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

We’re still fighting the good fight against site issues, but on the plus side, our first payments for Trembling With Fear for the upcoming year have gone out! Exciting news! (A personal thank you to the authors who have passed on payments to have them donated to the site instead.)

I’d like to send out another huge thanks as well. This one to Steph for formatting the post this week. I’ve got some things going on which are keeping me busy this week so the extra help is going a long way!

As always, we’re looking for more drabble. That being said, we could also use an influx of Unholy Trinity and serials as well!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

The Thing on the Mountain by Billy Lyons

Nancy sat alone in the kitchen, counting flies. To win, she had to count each fly on the opposite wall before one joined the group, or flew away. It wasn’t easy. Since every door and window in the house had been open since daybreak, there was no shortage of flies. Big flies, little flies, black flies, green flies. Flies coming in, flies going out. Even if it was possible to get a good head start on the count, it was just as likely they would all blend in with the winter’s worth of soot that had leaked onto the wall, making it impossible to distinguish one fly from five. On top of everything else was the unbearable heat and stickiness. Even in Appalachia, mid-summer weather could be intense. 

“Six, seven…” Nancy sat still as a mouse, counting to herself and digging her nails into her palms until they hurt. Only four more to go. “Eight…nine…”  She knew she was holding her breath, but didn’t dare exhale. The tiniest movement, even to breathe, might cause fly traffic, and she was so close, closer than close. It wasn’t until she got to the tenth one that she finally allowed herself the smallest of smiles. I’m going to make it, she thought, but before she could open her mouth to count fly number thirteen the fattest one of the bunch (second from the top) took off out the window, buzzing in contempt as it went.

“Lost again, didn’t you?”  David asked, as he lumbered in.

“You know I did,” Nancy grumbled, trying hard not to stare at the bag in David’s hand. 

“Well, it’s a stupid game anyway. How many times have I told you that already? Five, ten, twenty?”

“Zero. Just like you. Z-E-R-O. As a matter of fact, that’s your name from now on. Big Brother Zero.”

David laughed. “Hey, now. Don’t be making fun, or I might just have to take this back to Mickey D’s.”

Nancy’s entire being sprang to life. “You got Mickey D’s?”

“What else?” David said, his voice breaking just a bit. “A twenty pack, and all the sweet and sour sauce you can eat. Not to mention fries, two apple pies, and an extra-large strawberry shake. You think you can handle all that?”

Nancy jumped up from the table and threw herself into David. “I love you, Big Brother Zero,” she whispered into his chest.

David pushed her away as gently as he could. “Well, it’s a special night, isn’t it, so the sky’s the limit. Now eat!”

Nancy didn’t need to be told twice. She ripped the bag down the middle and started shoving McNuggets in her mouth, two at a time. David dabbed his eyes with his dirty t-shirt and sat down across from her, tearing the tops off sauce and ketchup packets. He could barely keep up, as she had downed ten nuggets already, and was reaching for the fries. “McDonald’s fries: the only fast food fries worth eating,” she said, her words distorted by said French fries.

“Agreed.” David brushed a tiny chunk of chicken off his arm. 

Nothing further was said until the last slurp of the milkshake. David gathered the trash and tossed it. “Nancy,” he began softly, “Mom and Dad wanted to be here – everybody did…, it’s just that – “

“I know… it’s okay,” Nancy said, and looked up from her feet. “I’d rather it’s you anyways. Just you and me, like always.”

“The One and a Half Musketeers.”

Nancy laughed. “It’s The One-Half Musketeer now, or did you forget you’re Big Brother Zero?”

“Nope,” David said, and left the room. Nancy popped the lid off the milkshake, and peered inside. Disappointed, she threw it in the trash with the rest.

“I think I remembered everything.”  David returned with a couple of Wal-Mart bags. “Dress, shoes, hair ribbons –“

“You brought the pink ones, right? My favorites?”

“Sorry. You know they have to be white like everything else. It’s the – “

“The rules, I know. Oh, well, the white ribbons are okay, I guess.”

“I think the white ribbons are great,” David said, and glanced at the wall clock above the sink. “Well, I hate to break up our little party, but it’s time we got started. We’ve got quite a hike ahead of us.”

“Okay. I’ll put my clothes on and then we can go.” Nancy took the bags and headed towards the bathroom, but stopped. “David, you’re sure it’ll work, right?  For the whole year, it’ll work?”

“It always has, hasn’t it?”

“Everybody eats, nobody gets sick, nobody dies?”

“Yes.”

“Promise?”

“I promise,” David whispered.

“Okay, then,” Nancy said, and left the room.

“Try and hurry,” David said, hating himself for it, but knowing they couldn’t be late. 

The thing on the mountain was hungry, too.

Billy Lyons

Billy Lyons is the author of four previously published horror short stories. Cell 334 was included in the November 2014 edition of Another Realm e-zine. Black-Eyed Children, Blue-Eyed Child was featured in High Strange Horror, a 2015 anthology from Muzzleland Press. This story will also be featured as a reprint in Strangers, an upcoming anthology from Horrified Press. Sheep and Snakes was published in Two Eyes Open, an anthology released by MacKenzie Publishing in August 2017. His latest, Where You Find It, was featured in Home Sweet Home, an anthology released in September 2018 by Millhaven Press.

His debut novel, Blood and Needles, was released in June 2017 by Intrigue Publishing.

You can find out more about him on his Facebook author page:  www.facebook.com/billylyonsauthor.

Buttons

He  watched her fingers fumble over the oval, smooth buttons. He ignored the tears on her cheeks.

The peacock velvet gown flowed over her curves. 

“You are exquisite, my dear,” he crooned.

Hands shaking, his new wife finished securing the last fastening.

“Step nearer.” She obeyed.

He kissed each blanched button, from the cleavage to the hem, naming each one, “Jemina, Louisa, Margarite, Rosalind. Farewell.”

His wife stood trembling, bile in her throat, hate in her breast. For him. Not for them, his dead wives, all eight of them.

Each bride represented by one ivory button fashioned from their bones.

Alyson Faye

Alyson lives in the UK; her fiction has been published widely in print anthologies – DeadCades, Women in Horror Annual 2, Trembling with Fear 1 &2, Coffin Bell Journal 1 and Stories from Stone and in ezines, most often on the Horror Tree site, Siren’s Call and The Casket of Fictional Delights. In May 2019 Night of the Rider, was published by Demain, in their Short Sharp Shocks! E book series and reached the amazon kindle top 10 best seller lists. Her work has been read on podcasts (eg Ladies of Horror), shortlisted in competitions and published in charity anthologies. Future work will appear in anthologies from Things in the Well, Mortal Realm and Twisted Wing Publishers.

She performs at open mics, teaches, edits and hangs out with her dog on the moor in all weathers.

https://alysonfayewordpress.wordpress.com/

Twitter @AlysonFaye2

Five

There wasn’t a whole lot left in his mind, but at least the numbers were still there. As an accountant, they had been his life — when he still had one. They floated around in his decaying gray matter, dead leaves across a murky pond. 

Soon, there’d be nothing left but the numbers. And then there’d be nothing at all.

Seven days of chaos and news reports. Four major cities overrun in that time.

One bite. Three hours for the infection to spread.

Two fingers left on his hand. Twelve people eaten.

Five — what? The word wasn’t there.

Five . . . five . . .

Fiiiii . . .

Patrick Winters

Patrick Winters is a graduate of Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL, where he earned a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. He has been published in the likes of Sanitarium Magazine, The Sirens Call, Trysts of Fate, and other such titles.

Social Links:

http://wintersauthor. azurewebsites.net/Pages/Home

https://m.facebook.com/ patrickwintersauthor/

https://twitter.com/Weird_Winters

Losing a Monster

That creature always shows up 

just before midnight.

It stands in the doorway silently

watching me for several

minutes. Then its grotesque

form shuffles to the foot

of my bed. It will stay there

till just before dawn, simply

watching me.

Having this creature loom over

me as I sleep is not what scares

me. It’s that I am getting used 

to the image of it. Its once long 

fingers now seem to be the same 

length as mine. The skin now 

has an almost human shade. 

The eyes are now green 

like mine. Its face, now

identical to mine.

Radar DeBoard

Radar DeBoard is an aspiring writer who just wants others to find enjoyment in his work. Even though he lacks publication and experience, he hopes his work will have an impact. He has a passion for horror and finds it the most interesting genre to write. 

https://www.facebook.com/WriterRadarDeBoard/

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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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