Trembling With Fear 11/01/20
This week has seen my book baby, The Five Turns of the Wheel, appear from Silver Shamrock Publishing. It’s a nerve-wracking time waiting to hear people’s responses but there have been a lot of supportive comments, especially over on twitter. Five Turns is also providing the inspiration for NaNoWriMo which I’m going to use as the kick up the backside to get on and write the follow up. Can’t say anything about the storyline or it becomes a bit of a spoiler to Five Turns! If any of you are joining in NaNo this year, you’ll find me as el_Stevie if you want to connect. I think I’m less prepared this year than any other year, which says a lot for a perennial pantser – it may end in tears!
Halloween has been and gone. Apart from seeing a few bits in the shops, I haven’t seen much evidence of celebration over here. I know some kids I’ve spoken to have said they’re having Halloween at home and not going out and about. Now the clocks have gone back, it’s as if we’re all ready to go into hibernation mode, which I am a little bit this week as I’m on half-term. I’ve been able to read, write and edit without the stress normally accompanying that time after a day at work. Bliss!
The first story in Trembling With Fear this week, is A Strange Creature Looming by Sophie Kearing. It’s great to have a survival story – or at least that scenario – for a change. You are guided by what the survivor sees but this in itself leads to some misdirection as the character suddenly realises the truth of her situation. Small clues are planted and you can pre-empt some of it but it’s not done in a heavy-handed way, just enough for you to feel satisfied that you guessed the ending correctly – that can be something difficult to achieve.
Flip by G.A. Miller is based on the thoughts of a character, those moments you never quite get to see and a final one you wish you could do! A nice bit of dark humour at the end.
Longpig by RJ Meldrum reminds us your actions have consequences and you can ultimately pay even when you think you’re in the clear.
Wheel of Death by Mike Rader is another story where the consequences of your actions or wishes can bring your downfall. Fairs and carnivals have a lot of scope. They feature in films and longer stories but we don’t seem to get many in drabble form.
Enjoy the stories and send us yours!
Holloween has come and gone. How crazy is that? I hope you enjoyed the stories in our special Trembling With Fear Halloween edition yesterday. I also hope you had a way to celebrate the holiday! We’ve got some great stories this week and, as always, if you love any of them please do let the authors know in the comment section below!
Last week we put up a new poll about what you like on the site. I’m hoping to get a few more responses so will ask one last time but won’t pester you next week 😉
Last month we had 2 sponsors. One of them will continue to mid-November and the other has come and gone but I’d like to give you encouragement one last time to pick up a copy of either of the following books! Supporting our sponsors also supports the site as it will encourage them to come back another time!
– ‘SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire‘ which was edited by the extremely talented Nicole Givens Kurtz (
– ‘It Calls From the Sky‘ from Eerie River Publishing. This one was edited by A. Robertson-Webb and M. River.
If you’re looking to sponsor the site or even a giveaway please do reach out. Also, we have an extra thank you this year for the sponsors of Horror Tree. If you’ve been a Patreon, sponsor, or have some supported the site in a major way we’re going to be putting together a special Christmas Shopping list that showcases you! Please reach out with what you’d like included and see this post on Patreon for more details!
Welcome to November folks. It’s going to be a rocky couple of months coming up but I have faith that we’ll all be able to pull through it!
A Strange Creature Looming by Sophie Kearing
At first I do little more than feel sorry for myself and wait to be rescued. But by my second day on this god forsaken island, reality sets in. I could die before I’m rescued.
A jungle animal could kill me.
A tsunami could plunge this entire landmass under a deluge of shark-infested ocean.
I could starve.
I’m hungry enough to prioritize finding food. I am not hungry enough to target anything living, like the enormous beetles that are currently the bane of my existence, or the fish that venture close to the shore. I stare at a cluster of coconuts high in a tree. They don’t look very appetizing, but from what I understand, you can both drink and eat from a coconut. I have no clue how I’m going to get myself one of those gruff brown orbs, but I know that I must.
I wander around in search of fallen coconuts. This is when I find the first body. It’s a dead man, belly down, the side of his face pressed into the loam. His features are arranged into the contours of abject terror. There’s a long, smooth trail originating from some unseen point in the jungle and disappearing into his mouth. Is that… a snake track? Is that possible? My mind races with imagery of a thick, muscular serpent winding its way into this poor man’s stomach.
I heave. Nothing comes out.
I heave again. My mouth is filled with a nasty, acrid taste.
Though I can’t bring myself to search the man’s pockets, I do snatch up his machete.
The sun is setting when I find a coconut tree whose fruitful canopy is level with a verdant plateau. By the time I make my way to the edge of this fortuitous shelf, it’s dark. I manage to hack free a trio of coconuts with one hand and catch them with the other. I have no clue how to make a fire, so it’s strictly by jungle-filtered starlight that I crack into the stubborn fruit, drink its oily offering, and scoop out some of its fragrant innards to eat. I gag at the odd texture and taste. Well, I guess I can’t expect coconuts off the tree to taste like coconut cream pie.
Come morning, I wake to a sour stomach. It’s the kind of feeling I usually get when I haven’t eaten in so long that I’ve transitioned from hunger to nausea. Or maybe I’m just really thirsty. I decide that I’ll put some coconut water in my stomach, then go to the stream for some freshwater. I stab one of a coconut’s three pores with the machete’s tip and take a few pulls. I make my way down from the plateau and head in the direction of a stream I saw yesterday. I’ve never approached it from this direction, so the scenery is all new to me. I trip on something.
It’s a leg.
“Hello?” I say, trembling. “Hello?”
When no one answers, I push aside some glossy green fronds to uncover exactly what I suspected I’d find: another corpse. It’s a man on his back, his belly torn into a maw of shredded intestines as well as cotton threads from his clothing. I pivot away from the desecrated body only to stumble upon another. This one is a woman lying in the fetal position, eyes bulging, mouth pulled into a heartbreaking grimace. The seat of her khakis has been reduced to bloody tatters. A sickening trail leads to the woman’s backside. I clamp my hand over my mouth. My stomach lurches wildly. This time, I collapse onto all fours. I upchuck burning, coconut-flavored liquid.
My vision hones in on perhaps the most important piece of this puzzle: coconuts. Some have been scooped clean, some have merely been halved and abandoned, but all of them are unmolested by the sun in this lush, shaded area. There’s movement in one of the unharvested shells. I take a closer look. The fruit is teeming with tiny white larvae. Not maggots, but something barely detectable unless by targeted observation. Strings of saliva, bitter with realization, stream from my mouth. I clutch my stomach. Sure enough, I feel something twisting in there.
“No, no, no, no…”
Just when I think I could not be any more terrified, I hear a faint, unfamiliar sound. I look up. There’s a strange creature looming toward the top of a tree. Its small head bears the needle-like pupils, flat nostrils, and prominent fangs of a snake. But it has black ears, tiny arms sprouting from its scaled flanks, and a crimson tail that looks like a scorpion’s. The sound is coming from its tail, which must double as a rattler and a stinger.
A pain shoots through my gut. Something inside me has torn. I fall onto my side, hot tears streaming down my face. Now that the creature knows I’m not a threat, it stops rattling and carries on with its day. It plunges its razor-like “stinger” into a coconut. Its body pulses obscenely as it deposits what I can only assume is a batch of eggs. I wish I could vomit. But an excruciating sensation is spreading through my torso, and I’m paralyzed by the agony. I am rendered mute by the shock.
I think of many things in my last few moments. I think of the snake tracks in the loam. They weren’t entrance paths, after all. They were exit paths. I think of the off taste of the coconuts. Finally, I realize that a jungle animal really did end up killing me. But it wasn’t the vicious attack of a wild boar or the hungry gnashing of a big cat that did me in. It was the lethal spawn that I’d unknowingly consumed with hopes of survival.
Sophie Kearing is a lover of writing fiction, drinking coffee, and delving into all things dark, true crime, and psychological. Her work has been picked up by Horror Tree, Mojave Heart Review, Ellipsis Zine, Left Hand Publishers, Moonchild Magazine, The Sirens Call Publications, Spelk Fiction, Jolly Horror Press, Pixel Heart Literary, New Pop Lit, and other publications. She loves the #WritingCommunity on Twitter and would love to connect with you.https://twitter.com/SophieKearing
Work finally done, I closed the cover of my laptop slowly, watching the reflection of the screen on the keys until it turned off. I remember being about 4, maybe 5, closing the door on the fridge slowly, hoping to see the light go out before the door fully closed.
But I never did.
It’s just one of those quirky things we do. Another of mine is not going to sleep until I flip the pillow at least once to find the cold spot.
Now, if only I could do that in my casket… right during the eulogy, of course.
G.A. Miller is a new voice in the chorus of horror authors, drawing his ideas from everyday, commonplace events that take unforeseen turns down dark corridors.
Once he’d made the decision, it was easy. A blow to the head, dismemberment then the chunks dumped into the pigs’ stall to be consumed. He told their friends his wife had left him and gone to live with her mother. He got away with it.
A month later, he was in the stall when he felt a nudge from behind. It was a pig, snuffling at him. He kicked it away. Suddenly, he felt teeth in his calf. Helpless, he was pulled down onto the straw. The pigs had enjoyed the taste of flesh. They wanted a second helping.
RJ Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010. He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Smoking Pen Press and James Ward Kirk Fiction. He is an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.
Wheel of Death
It was Annie, my girlfriend. It was her fault. She wanted to ride on the Ferris wheel.
“But there’s a storm coming,” I argued.
“Even more exciting,” she argued back.
Soon we rose two hundred feet above the fairground. The storm struck. Black clouds massed around us, lightning crackled, fat raindrops slapped against the car. Day became night.
I looked down. Saw nothing. We were lost in the howling storm.
The wind whipped hard, tugged at us, sucked us screaming clear of the car. I clung to a spar, slowly descending out of the clouds. I never saw Annie again.
Mike Rader is a pseudonym used by Australian author and poet James Aitchison. As J J Munro and Mike Rader, Aitchison writes horror and noir crime. As James Lee, he writes Asia’s biggest selling horror series for middle readers — Mr Midnight — which has sold over three million copies. His work can be seen at www.flameoftheforest.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 and Reborn, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused. Her novel, The Woodcutter, is due for release via Brigids Gate Press in 2023. 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 is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org, on Twitter at @el_stevie, Instagram stephanieellis7963 and also somewhere on Facebook.