Trembling With Fear 11/13/2022
Hello, children of the dark. I am emerging from my covid cocoon, though still coughing and spluttering all over the place. I’m thankful that, though this is my second round with the virus, I have managed to emerge relatively unscathed after a few weeks of rest and healing. Many others have not been that lucky, and I very much do not take anything for granted when it comes to my health.
Not that long ago, I was at the very end of my tether. Something had to give, and for a while it looked like it would be my health that gave up. I had been in burnout mode, getting by on fumes, for years and my mental health finally cracked. I had a burnout-driven breakdown. I was fortunate to be able to take a year out from work and really focus on getting better, and while I’m nowhere near recovered yet, I am back out in the world. And it’s writing and reading that helped me through. I tracked my recovery via a Substack newsletter (my way of staying accountable), and I spent many hours with my nose in books, both non-fiction (OK, OK, self-help) and fiction. I got back into journaling. I joined the London Writers Salon and got cracking on writing that novel I kept saying I’d write one day. (That novel has since been shelved because it just wasn’t ready to come out of my brain. Too much too soon, perhaps?) I found myself, and I continue to find myself every week, every day, with the help of this wonderful global community of genre writers.
I’m grateful that so many others are speaking up about their mental health journeys, too, and that the Horror Writers Association launched its Mental Health Initiative over the summer. Speaking out and speaking up helps those who haven’t yet found their voices, which I guess is why, when I opened up a document to start this week’s TWF intro, I found myself reflecting on the last couple of years. Please, if you need someone to talk to, please reach out to someone you trust.
But you didn’t come here for me nor my electioneering, so let’s turn to the task at hand: Ron Capshaw takes us in search of Bigfoot for this week’s Trembling main course. This is followed by three delicious quick bites:
- Finbar Hussey hears the fox’s cry
- Margo Rife reminisces while sorting some boxes, and
- Santiago Eximeno seeks mythic help with a problem.
If these stories inspire you to get writing, you’ll find details on how to submit to us over here on our freshly-updated submission guidelines page. Remember, we’re currently CLOSED to short story submissions, but are always seeking drabbles – that’s a complete story in exactly 100 words, and a real test of your craft. We’re looking for anything darkly speculative – it doesn’t have to be a super gory horror story; we don’t get enough dark sci-fi and fantasy! And I’m very much in the mood for gothic tales as the nights draw closer…
For now, it’s over to you, Stuart.
I feel like I’ve been stuck in a slump lately. I’ve been getting writing done, but as our redesign has been pushed back until 2023, I feel like I’ve been treading water. I haven’t had a chance to make any major changes to the site lately and am unsure what we even might do in the near future outside of the fact that we may be switching to another network, with Twitter being an increasing headache these days. I’m not sold on Mastodon, but it seems like it might be the next feasible option, I’m just not a fan of how it allows you to ‘find’ new people, which is something that was much easier on Twitter. We’ll see. If you’re switching networks, what do you plan to focus on?
Also, speaking of the redesign, if there are any changes that YOU have been hoping to see, please reach out on our contact page!
As always, I hope you had a great weekend.
William, by Ron Capshaw
You had to like him – even when you knew what a huckster he was. There was something endearing about someone who was up front about being in it strictly for the money.
William provided the one amusing moment in the horror that was D-Day. While we were waiting to get off the landing boat at Omaha Beach to try our luck aganst Nazi machine gun nests, he was still selling rabbit’s feet and “good luck” coins.
His “customers” died clutching them.
I miraculously made it to the beach and through the frozen hell of the Battle of the Bulge and into Berlin without a scratch.
William was not so lucky. A Nazi sniper shot off his hand just as he hit Omaha Beach. He was looking for it in the surf when that buck sergeant grabbed him by his backpack and dragged William to what passed for cover on the beach.
Just as the medic came over, the buck sergeant’s head exploded.
But the medic had seen it all, and without missing a beat, bullets pinging off his helmet, was able to save William’s life, even with the blood jetting out of the stump where his hand used to be.
“Are you ready?” William said, zipping up the Bigfoot suit with the hand that stayed attached to his body. He then covered the brass zippers with fur so the camera wouldn’t pick it up.
“Hurry up, will ya? This thing is hotter than hell,” I said.
“Just think about how rich we will be when we sell this to NBC,” he said, picking up the hand-held camera he brought to lend the “sighting” some authenticity. The idea was that he would make the camera lens go all over the place because he was chasing the “creature” across the rough terrain of the California mountains.
“Remember to swing your arms like a gorilla. Then look over your shoulder at me, and then race into the woods.”
He grinned and said, “Action.”
I was good. We got it in one take.
By then, the sun was starting to go down.
We made camp.
Of course we swapped war stories. Of course we got shitfaced.
We toasted the Bigfoot suit that lay neatly folded by the tent.
William was out of shape in the drinking department. He passed out first.
I polished off my glass of apricot brandy and did likewise.
As usual, I dreamed about the war.
…When the landing craft door opened, I dove over the side of the boat just as my comrades in front of me exploded in cloth and blood and brain matter.
Unlike the others who floated underwater past me, I was able to get my 20 pound backpack off and not drown.
I swam/crawled to the beach, Nazi bullets miraculously not hitting me.
Right when I found some cover—courtesy of two corpses I stacked up in front of me—-I smelled a rank, sweaty smell.
That’s not how corpses smell…
I came awake, looking into the lifeless eyes of William. He died with the same expression on his face as I saw on those who had their life shot out of them on that horrid day in 1944. Confusion more than horror.
The rest of his body was several feet away.
Pieces of the Bigfoot costume were flying into the air.
It stopped, and turned to me.
We had invaded its feeding grounds and now we were its food.
Or maybe it was mad because we pretended to be it.
Ron Capshaw is a writer based in Florida. His novel The Stage Mother’s Club was released in June by Dark Edge Press.
My mother once told me not to be scared when the foxes cry.
I first heard them screaming in the woods the night my father succumbed to his cancer. I’ll never forget their horrible, shrill shrieks; the electricity that slowed its way up my spine and through my brain; the suffocating darkness of the forest around our home.
I heard them again, years later, the night my mother died. She had been out shopping when the aneurysm popped. Ever since then the trees seem taller, the house smaller, I feel surrounded.
I can hear them again tonight. I am afraid.
Finbar is an Irish horror fanatic and author-for-fun who has recently begun writing short stories. In his day job he is a graphic designer and by night is a pallid ghoul hunched over his computer tapping out spooky stories and devouring horror movies.
I live in a kingdom of sad cardboard boxes—dirty, water-damaged and bulged-out from storing a heavy load these past four years. And for their valiant service, they’re going to be torn apart and tossed into a dumpster.
There’s so much good here, but it’s like gold nuggets in a mine, you have to dig through the worthless to get at the valuable stuff.
Aha! Her frail clavicle bone—broken in four places. The basement steps are steep and she was so clumsy. Keep or toss? Does it bring joy? No. “Out with the old…”
Does Goodwill take broken bones?
Margo Rife has had work published in Trembling with Fear, The Wrong Coat Anthology, Idle Ink, Outré Review, Reflex Fiction, New World Writing and the Transmundane Time Anthology. Margo is also a playwright and her monologues and short plays have been staged at various theatres. Her podcast Basement Stories is produced at the LaGrange Library (in the basement).Twitter: @rife_margo
I keep the Gorgon’s head in the freezer. It has been in our house since we planted our family tree. It did not come with an instruction manual.
When my parents used it, they had debts of those that you cannot pay with money. They hid the consequences. By night. With a shovel.
I buried my parents yesterday.
That lawyer told me at the cemetery that I will have to sell the family home. I have invited him to dinner tonight.
I do not have a shovel.
What I need is a full-length statue in the middle of the room.
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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.