Trembling With Fear 11/03/2019

Welcome to Trembling With Fear. The clocks have gone back in the UK, Halloween has passed over and now there’s NaNoWriMo rearing its head again. I’ve been so busy, I haven’t been able to consider it that much before now and suddenly here we are! After all the umming and aahing, I’ve decided to do it, mainly to work through an idea that’s been bugging me for a while and I just haven’t been able to do anything about it. It’s post-apocalyptic in setting but may actually be more of a thriller than a horror but who knows. I never plan and approach the month with only a vague idea but that’s the fun of this writing exercise, you are free to simply explore the possibilities, scratch that itch. If you’ve signed up at all, you will find me, under the name el_Stevie.

This week’s Trembling With Fear shines its own spotlight on POOP by Kelly Kurtzhals Geiger, now there’s an intro line I never thought I’d write, conjuring up all sorts of imagery! It is a story which could be read by a younger audience but is most definitely a fun read for all ages with a wonderful comeuppance for a brat. I actually worked with a student whose favourite word was ‘poop’, so this did ring true!

Art in Progress by Scarlet Berry is written in such a thoughtful, gentle – almost casual – tone that even with the horror it’s describing, it doesn’t feel horrific, in fact it just seems ‘right’ and that is scary. The final paragraph then jars against this, and you know this is most definitely ‘wrong’. A good use of tone to subvert horror by making it seem normal. And if we regard such behaviour as normal, then we should all be afraid.

Disclaimer by Kevin M. Folliard brings us a social platform of the future. And everyone ‘ll sign up without reading smallprint … could prove embarrassing. We have been warned and in such a realistic way.

Options by R. J. Meldrum is about smooth deliverance of the literally ‘killer’ last line. You don’t just write flash and plonk a twist at the end without thought, that is lazy writing. This isn’t. Each sentence builds the picture and then offers the revelation.

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



There’s no better month to be Unholy than October—with its specters, ghosts, goblins, and who knows what lying beneath those decomposing leaves and wilted flowers. Yet our cauldron of Unholy Trinities is boiling dry—and we need more! More brains, more blood, more sinister characters and gloomy circumstances… more creepy chronicles from YOU!

The Unholy Trinity is a trio of three, 100-word drabbles that observe the same theme or follow a story line. We’ve received some super ones that tackle Trump, spiders, and symphonies…all written in fine style, some with more than a little humor and satire.

If you’re a regular drabbler, why not try writing an Unholy Trinity? UTs are excellent creative exercises if you’re looking to develop your writing style or you’re considering a foundation for a longer story. And I’m happy to provide feedback on your submission, or help you tweak it to get it just right.

So don’t be afraid…of Unholy Trinities! There are many things to be frightened of, but here’s your opportunity to share your take on them with the world. Feed us…feed us…FEED US!!

Best witches…Catherine

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

‘Trembling With Fear’ Is Horror Tree’s weekly inclusion of shorts and drabbles submitted for your entertainment by our readers! As long as the submissions are coming in, we’ll be posting every Sunday for your enjoyment.
Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

POOP by Kelly Kurtzhals Geiger

Charles Arthur Pennyton was seven years old, but more importantly, his favorite word was “poop.” He was completely obsessed with poop. 

He screamed it at his neighbors: “You stepped in poop!” Causing them to look at the bottoms of their shoes. Not finding anything, they’d frown fiercely at Charles Arthur.

Charles Arthur laughed. He liked to embarrass people.

He told it to his school bus driver: “You smell like poop!” Forcing Charles Arthur to sit alone, right behind the driver.

Charles Arthur didn’t mind. He liked being alone. 

He told it to the girl at school: “Your face looks like poop.” Prompting Amelia Bedora to knit together blonde eyebrows so perfect, Charles Arthur couldn’t help taunting her again and again. 

“Charles Arthur Pennyton,” Amelia Bedora finally said, tears spilling from her teal blue eyes, “one day you’re going to say those nasty things to the wrong person, and then you’ll really be sorry.”

Charles Arthur did not believe in consequences. 

Days later, Charles Arthur’s mother dragged him along with her to the grocery store. He normally hated going to the grocery store, because he was afraid of the old homeless woman who sat outside the entrance with a dirty grocery cart filled with junk. Her dirty grey cat always perched in the child’s seat, scowling down with mean yellow eyes. 

But on this day, Charles Arthur was prepared.

He approached the old homeless woman. He beamed with anticipation over the zinger he had just formulated from his almost-graduated car seat. He hauled back and spoke out in his clearest voice: “Your breath smells like poop because you eat your cat’s poop! You eat poop for breakfast, lunch and dinner!” He almost felt like taking a bow after such a masterpiece of wordplay. 

In fact, he did take a bow. But when he extended his arm to his imaginary audience, the old homeless woman grabbed it.

“You will regret what you said.” Her voice was a black abyss and her eyes were pure thunderclouds. She tightened her grasp Charles Arthur’s arm with sharp skeleton fingers, like she could tear off Charles Arthur’s skin and use his skin like a coat. 

Charles Arthur felt a chill rake up and down his whole body, and an army of goosebumps invade his skin. “Let go of me!” Charles Arthur couldn’t pull his arm away. 

“Mom!” Charles Arthur cried for her, but his mother was preoccupied by the cherry pies on sale near the store’s front entrance.  

“You will regret what you said,” the old woman repeated, slowly uncurling her fingers from Charles Arthur’s navy-blue blazer – his favorite blazer, with the round gold insignia on the left breast which made him feel official. The old woman reached forward and tapped the gold circle on Charles Arthur’s blazer and repeated a third time: “You will regret what you said.”

Charles Arthur sprinted into the store, finding his mother putting a cherry pie into her shopping cart. “Mommy, the old lady scared me!” Charles Arthur was near tears, and it had been a while since he had called his mother “Mommy.” She cradled an arm around her son’s shoulder. But when Charles Arthur turned back to accuse his offender, the old homeless woman and her cart – and her cat – were gone.

That night, Charles Arthur could not eat his dinner. Everything on his plate was rank and foul. “This food tastes like poop,” he declared.

“Please don’t talk like that,” his mother said. She tasted his food. “Your food is fine.” 

He tasted his mother’s food. “It’s nasty!” he wailed. He couldn’t eat anything.

Charles Arthur’s mother was worried. Her son always had a good appetite, even as a baby. He must be sick, she reasoned, deciding she would put him straight to bed. 

Charles Arthur was still hungry. Very hungry, in fact. “Could I try a piece of cherry pie?” He turned his best puppy dog gaze onto his mother. She clucked her tongue, but agreed to give him some pie, even including a dollop of sweet vanilla ice cream on top.

Charles Arthur could already smell the putrid odor as soon as his mother set down the plate. He used his spoon to scoop up a heaping helping of gooey cherries, flaky crust, and melty ice cream. He brought it to his lips. Maybe this just smells bad, he told himself. It looks so good. Maybe it doesn’t taste bad.

It tasted bad. He spat it out onto his plate and ran to his room.

Days clicked by and Charles Arthur could not eat. He cried. His mother cried. He could no longer eat chocolate pudding, or fried chicken, or pizza, or buttered noodles, or even drink water.

“Please drink it,” his mother begged.

Charles Arthur tried. He really tried. His stomach growled and growled but everything, absolutely everything, was inedible – only to him.

Charles Arthur asked his mother to take him with her to the grocery store. She agreed, hoping he could pick out some food that he could eat. But all Charles Arthur wanted was to find the old homeless woman, or even her grey cat. 

They were nowhere to be found. 

His mother took him to the hospital, where a nurse with bright purple scrubs hooked him up to an IV drip. A doctor came too, but when a week went by with Charles Arthur unable to eat or drink, the doctor and the nurse in the bright purple scrubs tried force feeding their patient. 

Charles Arthur screamed and bit the doctor. 

The doctor tasted like poop. 

Despite the hospital’s best efforts, Charles Arthur died. He was buried in his favorite navy-blue blazer, the one with the round gold insignia on the left breast. And eventually, when the worms tried to slither into Charles Arthur’s coffin to feast off his ripe dead body – they stopped short, their tiny worm brains not understanding why they couldn’t burrow inside.

The worms weren’t smart enough to realize that the entire coffin was filled with… 

Kelly Kurtzhals Geiger is a 6-time Daytime Emmy-nominated television producer and former standup comedian whose name and headshot still hang on the walls of The Comedy Store in Los Angeles. She is currently pursuing her MA in English from California State University at Northridge. Kelly has published short stories in the anthologies Hell Comes to Hollywood II and Cemetery Riots, as well as The Northridge Review, and is an Affiliate Member of the HWA.

Find her on Twitter:

Art In Progress

The snowflake floated softly through the air, slowly meandering until it landed gently on the scarlet stained snow. A headless body lay strewn nearby as if carelessly tossed away like an old candy wrapper. A trail of blood and footprints led to two large snowballs, stacked one on top of the other. The head completed the bizarre snowman, pieces of coal placed where eyes had been.

Harry stepped back to admire his work.  He decided that another head was needed to finish his masterpiece.  He hurried to check the tension of the wire stretched across the running trail and waited.

Scarlet Berry is a Yooper. She’s been married forty years to the same man and they raised four children together. She is a mystery wrapped up in a conundrum, and loves to laugh; both evilly and happily.


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Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose published fiction includes scary stories collections Christmas Terror Tales and Valentine Terror Tales, as well as adventure novels such as Matt Palmer and the Komodo Uprising. His work has also been collected by The Horror Tree, Flame Tree Publishing, Hinnom Magazine, and more. Kevin currently resides in La Grange, IL, where he enjoys his day job as an academic writing advisor. When not writing or working, he’s usually reading Stephen King, playing Street Fighter, or traveling the U.S.A.

Author Website:





The fly moved sluggishly. She poked at it, but it didn’t respond. Too cold. Dammit, she thought. If the weather was stopping the flies, then the bacteria wouldn’t be working either. So much for acting on impulse. She really should have waited until Spring to act.

An idea occurred to her. If the smallest organisms couldn’t help, then perhaps the bigger ones would. It would be a pain to dig it up, but she had to make sure a coyote could find it. Being eaten would work just as well as decomposition. She had to dispose of her husband somehow.

R. J. 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.

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