Firstly, slightly belated Happy Halloween Birthday wishes to contributor and stalwart supporter of all in the horror field, G.A. Miller. Hope you had a great day and more treats than tricks and congratulations too on the publication of your novella, Spirit of the Dead (available on amazon). Congratulations too, to Lionel Ray Green on winning Writer-Writer.com’s Halloween themed Short Story Competition with Scarecrow Road. It’s great seeing our writers appear increasingly in wider writing circles and doing so well.
This week it’s more about reading than writing (although not for much longer!). I’ve done a bit of reading lately, partly to put a dent in my TBR pile but also to make the most of the last of my supposedly ‘free’ evenings for at least three quarters of November. With NaNoWriMo looming, I’m not going to get too much of a chance to do a lot more. This bit of time however has allowed me to enjoy Dave Jeffery’s novella Bad Vision (one of the books I picked up at FantasyCon and smuggled into my house without my kids noticing) which created characters you grew to care about and then twisted them in an unexpected way at the end. Check it out here https://amzn.to/2PzAmnz. Jeffery also writes YA and I will be getting round to his Beatrice Beecham book at some point (having read a related short story) to see about getting it for my school library which brings me to something else, an insider hint for YA writers. I’ve been sharing some horror stories with students in the library and if you write YA horror or horror for teens, I can tell you they love the Red Eye series (published by Little Tiger Press), favourites being Sleepless, Frozen Charlotte and Fir; another favourite (although definitely for upper school) is Amy Lukavics, all her books are regularly borrowed. Some of these titles I found via http://gingernutsofhorror.com/young-blood.html. The recommendations given there have been spot on, so as a source of information for those who want to write YA horror, you can’t go wrong by picking up some of the books they discuss. I just happen to be lucky in that I can buy them as part of my day job!
For those of you writing for TWF, remember we are after stories for our Christmas edition. Don’t worry about any dates you may see on the submission page at present, send them in so we can make it a bumper edition this year. How about Christmas horror from times gone by? YA Christmas horror? LGBT+ Horror? The latter is actually something we need to include more of. With my students I’m developing a section of books for them in the library and apart from those dealing with modern day relationships, there are few genre type stories with LGBT+ main characters. I’m sure there are other areas in terms of diversity as well which we should include – and will include – provided it’s a good story. Help us move away from the well-trod path – bring us horror about all and for all.
Just going to sneak in a thought here, as we have other ‘special’ editions, we could do a ‘Pride’ special during June. Not mentioned this to Stuart yet! 😊
The Trembling With Fear Year 1 anthology has been holding a steady position in the amazon charts and it’s great to see the paperback is now firmly out there as well. The book has already received 3 5-star reviews, so if you pick up a copy, please add your own rating – whatever that may be.
I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m still trying to catch up with Halloween being over and ‘Trembling With Fear: Year 1’ being released on Amazon!
Submissions have been coming in a bit slower as of late so it’s a good thing that we have most of the upcoming year scheduled as that should give us some time to really analyze everything that has come in recently. An initial response that we’ve received your work should have gone out to everyone as to what had hit our inbox by Friday so if you for some reason have a story floating around with us and haven’t heard that we’ve at least seen it PLEASE do reach out!
Also, if you have any thoughts on features we can add for fiction and helping get your work out into the world please don’t hesitate to contact us.
‘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.
Father Paley trudged across the battlefield, the mud sucking at his boots, the blighted Earth trying to claim another soul. A pistol crack echoed across the desolate landscape and he paused to listen. Three hundred yards distant, spectral in the morning mist, he saw the dim shape of his Commanding Officer in similar hunched anticipation, but a moment passed with no further alarm raised and both men moved on in their solemn, silent sweep.
The day was cool but Paley sweated within his vulcanised rubber suit, condensation trickling down the inside of the pitted glass faceplate that further obscured his view. It was a blessing, in a way, the sight of so much death and destruction too great to bear unfiltered. Paley had been there in the early days, shortly after the Armistice, when the stench of decay had seemed to seep into everything, and facing what man had done to the Earth had weakened many of his colleagues to breaking point and beyond. Now, five years later, Paley was the only remaining member of the original regiment, and even he knew that it could not go on much longer.
He found the boy at the foot of a withered tree, half buried in a morass of mud and dark, gelatinous flesh that was studded with shell casings which glinted in the weak sun as the boy writhed in his shallow grave. Paley kept his distance for a moment, watching the boy and idly scratching at the back of his right hand, cursing the thick gloves that prevented him from finding any relief from his discomfort.
The boy wore a German uniform, but the sounds that issued from his straining mouth were no Earthly language. His neck twisted as he sought to face the cleric, but his eyes were gone, and his head swayed and bobbed blindly, until Paley crouched at the edge of the pit and made a soft, soothing call. The boy’s head whipped towards the sound, tendons tearing and reforming beneath the grey, beardless skin of his neck as he strained to turn towards him. His lower half, beneath the mud, quivered obscenely. Hungrily.
Paley rose, fumbled in his satchel and pulled out his service revolver. Throughout the war, stationed in nearby Ypres, he had never had cause to use it, had never even drawn it in combat; now he checked the cylinder and found that only one cartridge remained, the other five gone in service to his mission; It had been a long morning. He took another look across the field, watching for his C.O., but the boy was the only soul in sight. Satisfied, Paley pulled off first one glove, then the other, then reloaded the Webley and took a moment for a deep, satisfying scratch at his inflamed hand. It was an offence to remove any part of his suit in the Red Zone, but he was sure that he was unobserved and it was too late to worry about the other reason for keeping his gloves on.
The red welts on the back his hand seemed almost to throb in pleasure at that thought.
Paley pushed the idea away and pointed the revolver into the pit, murmuring the authorized, amended Viaticum, the Latin as alien and familiar to his ear now as the keening whine the boy gave out as he understood what was to come next and raised his arms to protect his sightless face.
Five years since the cessation of hostilities and the outbreak of peace, perhaps another three since this boy’s parents had received word of his supposed death, but still, here, in this forgotten, forbidden corner of the killing ground, he feared dying.
Yet in all his time in the Red Zone, day after endless day breathing the noxious, sulphurous air and trudging from one trench to the next as he tried to bring peace and surcease from suffering, Paley had never seen anything which suggested that higher thought remained. It seemed more than likely that in their transformation, under the effect of whatever hellish chemical concoction had permeated the land and warped their bodies, his charges had of necessity lost their minds, but whether it was human understanding and fear or simply the basic animal urge to exist, to continue to exist, the boy’s movements were the same. Paley saw the German pistol, the barrel protruding from a mass of congealed bone and sinew that could scarcely even be called a hand any longer. He finished the benediction, lowered his head, then fired into the boy’s sunken chest.
This was the closest he had yet come to battle, but it no longer scared him. What he did was an act of mercy, not war. The boy choked out a guttural bark of regret, then let his arms fall at his sides. A trickle of black, tarry blood trickled from the hole in the front of his tunic. His head lolled back and made Paley think of a frail, blind bird, struggling for each shallow breath. He holstered his Webley and carefully slid down into the pit beside the dying boy, taking the child’s misshapen hand in his own and whispering softly into his ear.
Across the field, listening intently, Paley’s C.O. waited for further alarm, then trudged on, satisfied.
A minute later, with the boy’s life over once more, Paley sighed heavily. He let the boy’s limp hand go and sat in the pit a little longer, using the barrel of his revolver to scratch at the angry red flesh on the back of his hand until the itch finally faded for a little while.
Then he reloaded the Webley, noted the time, date and location in his field journal and carefully eased his gloves back on, then stood carefully and climbed back up out of the pit.
Karl A. Russell
Karl A. Russell lives and works in the post-industrial darkness of the English North. He is a proud member of the Flashdogs online writing community, has published short fiction widely online and in some fine paper publications and is very glad to be back (again).
4 Leaf Horror
“I got you now you son-of-a-bitch!”
“It seems you have me.”
“I want my wish and your gold.”
“Is that what you think happens now?”
“I sure as hell ain’t lettin’ you go anywhere till I get somethin’.”
“What do you want?”
“I want my gold and to never be able to die.”
“Is that all?”
“As you wish.”
Magic filled the air around Marcus, he slowly rose into the air, and turned into a statue of gold. The leprechaun smiled and shrunk the statue down to pocket size. Marcus remained trapped in the tiny golden prison for eternity.
Arthur Unk lives and works in the United States, but dreams of a tropical, zombie-free island. He hones his drabble skills via the Horror Tree Trembling With Fear (Dead Wrong, Flesh of My Flesh, The Tale of Fear Itself, and others yet to come) and writes micro/flash fiction daily. His influences include H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and life experience. You can follow his work from all around the web via his blog at http://arthurunk.com or read his many, many micro-stories on Twitter @ArthurUnkTweets
Bad Habits 3
The snow fell from the sky. The kids ran in delight to catch it with their open mouths. All great fun.
The snow fell all day over the town of Yarmouth and all the kids had a ball letting the cold flakes slide down their throats. It was too weak to make snowballs with.
A week later, the epidemic started. The kids first were struck with diarrhoea, vomiting. Days later they began to die. The autopsies showed abnormalities in their blood. Further tests revealed the truth, but it was too late. The flakes had been alien eggs and had hatched.
Justin Boote is an Englishman living in Barcelona for over twenty years, who has been writing short horror/suspense stories for two years. To date, he has had published or accepted for publishing around 20 stories in diverse magazines. He is also moderator for a private writer’s forum, The Write Practice.
He can be found at Facebook under his own name.
He sweats a filth that makes the fetid waters of a swamp-turned-garbage-dump seem clean and pleasant by comparison, and spends his days guzzling chemical additives.
No, not sodas, nor sweets, nor processed goods. The bloated one drinks Red Dye 40 from the tap, surviving on a diet of aspartame and margarine, salivating at the mere mention of MSG.
People pay to see him, but VIPs are granted an audience. They kneel before this chemical refinery so he can stroke his hand along their flesh, enraptured as it bubbles, blackens, and burns. His followers stumble off, screaming, yet oh so grateful.
E. N. Dahl
N. Dahl is a novelist and award-winning screenwriter from a shady corner of the USA. She’s the author of Nova EXE, among others, and her short work has appeared with Thunderdome Press, Transmundane Press, Sci-Phi Journal, Helios Quarterly, The Siren’s Call, The Literary Hatchet, and many others. When not reading and writing, she can probably be found doing yoga or watching horror movies.
- Taking Submissions: “Deep Underground” Novellas - September 18, 2019
- Contest: Tales From The Moonlit Path: Halloween Special Edition - September 17, 2019
- Taking Submissions: Resistance Art Attack - September 17, 2019
- Taking Submissions: LampLight Magazine - September 16, 2019
- Taking Submissions: Trouble Among The Stars #4 - September 16, 2019
- Can some of us ‘sense’ Hell? - September 16, 2019
- Trembling With Fear 09/15/2019 - September 15, 2019
- Enter To Win An Autographed Hardcover Copy Of Black Wings (US Only) - September 14, 2019
- Taking Submissions: Split Lip Magazine - September 13, 2019
- Taking Submissions: Samhain Secrets - September 12, 2019