Trembling With Fear 10/16/2022
Hello, children of the dark. I must say I’m at a loss for words this week; the exhaustion of burning the candles at both ends has caught up with me, and there’s not much end in sight for another week or so. I’ll spare you the ramblings of my feeble mind, and rest in the knowledge that I’ll be spending the last week of October at a tutored retreat in the Scottish Highlands.
I’ve been lucky enough to secure a place at Moniack Mhor’s gothic retreat, which will be led by CJ Cooke and Natasha Pulley, with special guest Andrew Michael Hurley. If those names weren’t enough to drag myself through the next few weeks, the idea of a whole week in what Ali Smith has described as “a place of rare space and weather-wildness and beauty” definitely is. Moniack Mhor is a former croft built on the site of an ancient baron’s house, and surrounded by fields rich in the remains of Bronze Age civilisations. It’s a few miles from Loch Ness, and magic is in the air.
I’ll be counting on that magic to get me actually started on my dreaded first draft, but how could I not be inspired by those surroundings? Have a look at their Instagram for the views, and you might even spot a mythical Highland Coo. Yes, I’m a bit excited.
Let’s bring me back down to earth so I can talk about this week’s TWF tasting menu.
Warning: this week’s main course from Joe Prosit is not for the faint of heart. This is the grossest bit of bathroom drama you’ll read today. To cleanse your palate, we have three delicious quick bites:
- Joshua Gage gets talking through spirited magnets
- Micah Castle pleads to the cosmos, and
- Finbar Hussey reads a last will and testament.
If these stories inspire you to get writing, you’ll find details on how to submit to us over here. I’ve mostly caught up on our submissions backlog now, but we are currently scheduled for short stories through to the end of this year. If you’re thinking of submitting to us, you’ll have more immediate luck with drabbles if that helps to channel your creativity.
For now, it’s over to you, Stuart…
As Horror Tree is all about helping your writing career, we have an external website that we’re launching soon. This will be more for those who write for work outside of their fiction. Technical writers, editors, publicists, etc. We’re setting up a Writers Job Board over at WriteCareer.com. Now, the board itself is up and working. However, I would like to stress that the site is still in its early phases. There are incomplete sections that we’re going to be working on buffing up. I did want to open it up to those who might be getting into the holiday season and are looking to change things up in the job department or who are looking for work. Hopefully, this can help you find something. I do apologize that it isn’t fully polished quite yet but if I waited for it to be 110% ready, it would likely never be launched.
With the new layout being delayed until next year, this is just a reminder that if there are any changes that YOU have been hoping to see, please reach out on our contact page!
What kind of changes is minor enough to look into adding? We’ll probably add a few more ways to subscribe to our newsletter in areas around the site. I’d also be looking to do simple yet streamlined things, such as last week’s announcement that the Trembling With Fear Submission Page now has the submission form directly on it. If there are things that would help you navigate the site easier, please, do reach out!
As always, I hope you had a great weekend.
Bathroom Dermatologist, by Joe Prosit
I hate zits. I didn’t ask for them. I’ve done everything I can to get rid of them. The creams, the rinses, the lotions, the change in diets, the gimmicks, and on and on and on. Still, they persist, regardless of my interventions. And as long as they remain, I’ll be the nasty-faced teenager that no girl wants anything to do with.
God, I hate zits, but I love when they pop. The tension and the release. The pain and the relief. The wind-up and the pitch. The crescendo and the crash.
All I have to do is find the right one. So here I am in the mirror, searching and perusing, stalking and choosing the reddest of the red. The most swollen of the swollen. The tight and tender blemish. The fat wood tick. The distended roadkill along the highway. The one nine months pregnant with puss. Surely, they all connect. Like an inverse ant hill, all those mineshafts of goo twist and wind down through my skin to a central source, to a pressurized abscess, to a mother lode. If I can find the right one and pop it, all the rest of the pimples will drain out through that single tap.
Imagine the steady stream of pale gunk that will pour out of me like soft-serve ice cream.
And when it comes out, that long albino tube worm of acne, when it splats against the mirror or flops down limp onto the basin of the sink, will it only lay there, dead? Or will it rise up on its fresh but unstable foundation like a newly born foal?
And will it know its father? Its master? Its god? Without a doubt, it will obey my commands. And once commissioned, my progeny will go out into the wider world, multiplying via mitosis into broods of divergent larva. They will disperse through town, creeping through the streets along gutters and sewer lines, squirming up drainpipes into homes and bathrooms. In my premonition, I see them spreading while infecting, penetrating while writhing through flesh, manipulating while boring deep into brains. At my behest, they’ll inject people with my will. My spawn will nest in the deep recesses of their minds. There, they will fester and grow and build in pressure. Then, like superheated magma, they’ll rise up through cracks and fissures of the flesh until they boil up to the surface. And through my sentient pustules, I will bend the masses to my will and puppet the world. And I’ll finally have some control.
But God damn it. This one just isn’t going to go.
Joe Prosit writes sci-fi, horror, and psychological fiction. He has been previously published in 365Tomorrow, The NoSleep Podcast, Metaphorosis Magazine, and Kaidankai Podcast. He lives with his wife and kids in the Brainerd Lakes Area in northern Minnesota. If you’re an adept stalker, you can find him on one of the many lakes and rivers or lost deep inside the Great North Woods. Or you can just find him on the internet at JoeProsit.com and follow him on Twitter, @joeprosit.
Best If Used By:
Growing up, every kid had alphabet refrigerator magnets. 26 letters and 10 numerals for all the messages a child would want to write.
I LOVE YOU
ARE YOU 0K4Y
When the ghost of the little girl who was murdered in our kitchen discovered ours, mornings became interesting.
1 AM 4SHLEY
Soon, alongside the jolt of the toaster and the hiss of the coffee, the scrape of molded plastic letters rearranging on the steel of the fridge became just another breakfast routine.
WIL7 YOU B FR1ENDS
It stopped being cute the morning she got angry.
SO0N U WIL7 D1E
Joshua Gage is an ornery curmudgeon from Cleveland. His newest chapbook, blips on a screen, is available on Cuttlefish Books. He is a graduate of the Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Naropa University. He has a penchant for Pendleton shirts, Ethiopian coffee, and any poem strong enough to yank the breath out of his lungs.
They spoke the words, moving their threadbare bodies around the bonfire, and held their calloused hands to the dark heavens. Sweat glistened on their faces, ran down their sides. Muscles taut as they raised their tired arms.
Stars pushed aside as the gnarled fingers dug through the black, even the moon couldn’t stand against the celestial current as its cratered form erupted from places unknown.
It had heard their call. Shouting, they pleaded for ascension from flesh and bone, muscle and sinew. It lowered and blotted the world. Vicious peridot fluid flooded its craters and cascaded out, turning all emerald.
I am Marius Trench, of sound mind and body, and this is to serve as my last will and testament.
My beloved family, I leave you with only one request, burn the house. I do not regret that I can leave you no wealth; I regret that you might think me mad. I cannot explain to you the curse I have lived under, the festering, writhing things within these walls. How every ill-fated misfortune has left me frail and small. I’m too weak to fight it anymore, I have withered.
Please, burn the house, let it die.
I love you.
- About the Author
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Lauren is a writer with various hats – journalist, copywriter, content marketer, fiction – and considers herself a storyteller at heart. She writes gothic and folk horror and is currently working on a novel set in the world of the Victorian occult. It’s the supernatural and the occult that really give her goosebumps, and a good ghost story or vampire tale with a rising sense of dread will always pique her interest (and yes, Midnight Mass hit many of her buttons). She also has a developing fascination with folklore, the old ways and our fast-changing relationship with the natural world; this sneaks into her writing, too.
In The Real World, Lauren has more than 20 years’ experience as a professional content creator. She’s established and led global content teams and editorial strategies, including setting up content newsrooms for some of the world’s biggest brands. She was a music editor for a daily newspaper in her native Australia (a good gig and the beach remain her happy places), though she’s been London-based for 16 years and works as an editor, proofreader, marketer, and writing coach. She’s also a mental health advocate; her Substack, How to Be Self(ish), tracked her year of sabbatical and self-care, and she continues to write it irregularly as a mental health companion.
You’ll find Lauren haunting south London, where she lives with her Doctor Who-obsessed husband and their aged black house rabbit. You’ll also likely find her hosting Writers Hour sessions for the London Writers Salon a few times a week.