We are creeping towards Christmas and stories are flowing in for our Special so this weekend I am hoping to make a dent in reading those submissions. It’s been difficult in the past fortnight to keep track of things, what with NaNoWriMo, joining an online writing group and keeping on top of everything else. However, with the Rugby World Cup firmly underway, my husband is taking our children off to Cardiff (they identify as Welsh on these occasions) and I am remaining at home. It will be peaceful and I will get a lot done … probably … possibly.

With regard to submissions, the time has come to repeat or introduce a few MUSTs in terms of how you send in your stories. Some of this is already on our submissions page, other bits I hope Stuart will add in the near future. But:

  1. All submissions, including drabbles, must be sent as attachments NOT in the body of the email.
  2. Do NOT use spaces to indent the first lines of paragraphs, use the first-line indent feature in Word. I’ve often seen this requirement stated on other sites and I assumed it was simply to keep alignment tidy. I’ve always used Word’s paragraph features, it’s easier and tidier. However, I have now seen exactly what can happen if you don’t do this. A story has appeared in our anthology with the paragraph breaks removed. Investigation revealed spacing had been used rather than the paragraph feature. A standard routine of mine in all work is to do a search and replace of double spaces. I have always assumed everyone used paragraph features as industry standard so never checked for paragraph breaks afterwards, assuming the search and replace would leave this alone (which it does). BUT if you use spaces for paragraph indents your lovely paragraph breaks get swept up and vanish. So please, DO NOT use spacing. Use paragraph settings and proper alignment for centring. (Corrections have been made to the anthology and a few other glitches swept up.)
  3. Single spaces after full stops.
  4. No underlines, italics to be used instead.
  5. Times Roman 12 pt preferably
  6. Double quotation marks for speech.

In general, if in doubt, follow the format here https://www.shunn.net/format/story.html.

Going back to NaNoWriMo, I’ve hit the 30000 mark and it’ll probably be higher by the time you’re reading this but only now is a story emerging. I actually think I’ve got two different stories which will need splitting apart but I am moving on and Grandma is taking on a bigger role in the story. I know many others have a less convoluted story development because they plan but I can’t do it. How about everyone else, stories turning out like you planned? Two weeks to go and then it’ll all be over for another year. Still can’t work out quite why I put myself through this …

Remember also, that in addition to the Christmas Special, we want stories from those in the LGBT+ community for a January Special. Drabbles, short flash, dark poems, serials, all welcome.

Before I go, congratulations to:

Alyson Faye with a latest anthology inclusion in Crackers by Bridge House Publishing and also her short collection of ghost stories in Trio of Terror – Supernatural Tales (which I’ve downloaded and hope to read soon).

If you’ve got something published anthology, collection, online or print. Let us know and we’ll give you a mention so we can all celebrate together.

Sledge Lit in a week’s time, might see some of you there.

Steph

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Stan Lee passed away this week. Even if you weren’t a fan of comics or comic movies it is hard to deny the mark that this creative genius has had upon the world. Stan “The Man” Lee has long been a beacon of hope and an icon on the comic industry. He is responsible for helping to create and grow some of the most influential superheroes and villains of our day.

RIP Stan Lee.

‘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

The Last Scar

The morphine is starting to kick in when Sergeant Freeman raps his nightstick against my door. The key clicks in the lock, and the burly Marine steps into my room. “Stay where you are,” he says, as if as if I could leave my bed without help and enough morphine to put an elephant in a coma.

Dr. Lanfield comes in behind Sergeant Freeman, a gaunt shadow in white lab coat. “Hello, Scar. How are you feeling?”

“Not my name.” I work the words through my uncooperative mouth. A grenade blast removed most of my right cheek three months ago. The scars have all but frozen the right side of my face.

“I’m sorry, Kyle.”

Usually he’d go on calling me that bullshit name, but he wants something, and he thinks it’ll be easier if he plays nice or pretends to. Fuck him.

“We have a mission for you.”

The drugs have dulled the nerve-scraping agony along my spine enough to sit up. “No more. Finished.” The word mission sent daggers of terror into my brain, but I won’t let him see that fear.

Dr. Lanfield sits in the plastic chair opposite my bed. Behind him, Sergeant Freeman looms. There was a time I might have fought them, and I know Freeman just aches for it, the sadistic fuck. But all I want now is to let the world slip away in a narcotic haze.

The doctor leans forward, feigning the compassionate physician. His usual bedside manner involves restraints and Freeman’s nightstick. “I know you’re hurting, and I know we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but your ability has saved a lot of important lives.”

I sneer at him. The shape of my mouth makes that one easy. “What about my life?”

“I’m sorry about all that, Kyle. Truly. How were we to know your gift would have these . . . unforeseen consequences?”

I chuckle, even though it feels like my face might rip apart. I can heal any wound, no matter how bad, just like those guys in the comic books. Unlike those high-flying heroes, whose bodies heal perfectly every time, my gift–as Dr. Lanfield like to call it–leaves behind scars.

The scars are no big deal when it’s a superficial cut or even the odd broken bone. They’re an altogether different matter when you eat a full magazine from an AK-47 to save the Vice President from yet another assassin. I healed, but each bullet left behind scar tissue in my lungs, in my liver, in my muscles. They called me a hero, but I didn’t feel like one when I jumped through the eighth story window of the military hospital they keep me in, hoping the glass and the fall would kill me. It’s not exactly comic book material when you wake up with most of your body held together with yet more scars and the knowledge maybe not even death can free you.

“No more.”

Dr. Lanfield shakes his head and sighs. “I could let Sergeant Freeman persuade you, but with your rapidly deteriorating condition, that would not suit our purposes. So I will make you an offer. Complete this mission, and it will be your last.”

“Don’t believe you.” I hate the tiny spark of hope his words have kindled. He’s lied to me before.

Dr. Lanfield shrugs. “Believe what you want. The mission requires only that you do what you do best: survive. Well, for a little while. Then it’s over. The missions, the pain, all of it.”

The tears surprise me. They stream down my battered face, a white flag signaling my compliance. I want what he is offering bad enough to do what he wants. He knows it, and his smile communicates that perfectly.

“One more.” The desperation I hear in those two words hurts almost as much as speaking them.

#

My glider is remote piloted and flying low. They told me the enemy would not detect the aircraft until it was too late. Outside the canopy a city appears on the horizon. It is the heart of the enemy’s empire, five million people.

They’ve seen the glider, but they can’t just destroy it. I’m too close. I could be carrying anything. Small arms fire erupts from the ground and bullets pierce the thin fuselage. I take a hit in the right leg, the left arm, and one bullet plows up through my left buttock, through my chest, and bursts from my neck in shower of blood. The wounds heal almost instantly, leaving keloid trails in my skin. I have enough morphine in my system to keep the pain at bay for now.

The glider shakes as the bullet holes compromise its aerodynamics, but I’m close. Buildings loom ahead, and the glider takes a sharp nosedive between them. People scatter as the ground rushes up to meet me. I brace for the impact, folding my body around the device.

Awful pressure.

Breaking glass.

Darkness.

#

The pain is a demon raking fire across my body when I come to. I would scream, but I can’t draw enough air. A piece of rebar has punctured my chest and both lungs. My body has healed around it. Many of my bones have broken and then mended in gruesome, unnatural angles.

Voices drift through the shattered canopy. The enemy approaches.

Fighting through the agony, I inspect the device. It is intact. I toggle open the switch guard, and the button beneath flashes red. Dr. Lanfield promised this would be my last mission. He promised an end to the pain. For the first time he told me the truth. I don’t think even I can come back from a thermonuclear blast at ground zero.

Frantic voices and then gunfire erupt outside the ruined glider. Bullets riddle my body, but I barely feel them. I will leave behind one last scar. I close my eyes and press the button.

END

Aeryn Rudel

Aeryn Rudel is a writer from Seattle, Washington. His second novel, Aftershock, was recently published by Privateer Press, and his short fiction has appeared in The Arcanist, Havok, and Pseudopod, among others. He occasionally offers dubious advice on writing and rejection (mostly rejection) at www.rejectomancy.com or on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

Demon Cloud

Black clouds of boiling obsidian, advanced across the horizon.

Even on the twentieth floor he heard mankind’s screams of primal fear.

Opening the window, he climbed out onto the ledge, two hundred feet above the car park.

There was no refuge, no escape, no hope.

The dark wall of judgement came on with increasing rapidity, whilst the cities lights failed, blinking out and mimicking the human life subsumed into Hell’s onslaught.

And in the cloud, he saw the demons brandishing their brutal inferno.

He jumped, praying for a desperate freedom in death.

His torn, rendered body, never touched the ground.

Martin Fuller

Martin lives in Menston in West Yorkshire. He was in his previous exitances: –

a beer salesman, a pall bearer and a police officer for over 34 years. These days he tops up his pension as a part time delivery driver for a car rental firm.

He started to write in 2013 after attending a local creative writing class.

Discovering his dark side, Martin has had several stories published by the on-line magazine ‘Horror Tree’ (www.horrortree.com/trembling-fear-11-19-2017) and in two anthologies from Otley writers. ‘The Pulse of Everything’ and The Darkening Season’ (available to buy on Amazon). He has appeared also in ‘Tycho Alba’: short stories by new Leeds writers, edited by S.J.Bradley published by Comma Press.

His dark fiction will next appear in October 2018 in Deadcades, an anthology published by indie press The Infernal Clock (http://infernalclock.blogspot.com/2018/05/deadcades-anthology-final-author.html)

Currently, he tinkers with a blog using his dated and dodgy technology skills.  

The Rejected

Ian clenched a butchers knife in his meaty fist as he read the letter. His chest tightened and he gasped breaths of ragged fury through his gas mask. When he finished reading, he stabbed the letter into the wall with the others. He produced a notepad from his jacket and copied the signed name to his list.

Ian plopped back onto the stool at his workstation and continued his delicate work, lacing a stack of envelopes with anthrax. He copied the list of names onto the envelopes.

The editors had sent their last rejection slips.

Now it was Ian’s turn.

 

Eric S. Fomley

Eric S. Fomley writes Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror short fiction. He is the editor of Martian Magazine and the Timeshift and Drabbledark anthologies. His work has appeared in various venues including previous publications with Trembling with Fear. You can follow his publication on his website ericfomley.com or on Twitter @PrinceGrimdark.

Two of One

My shadow has been fucking with me lately.  It stops following me.  I always know, because there’s a chill at my back as if I’ve been stripped naked.

When I go back after it, it starts flitting around, an ethereal squirrel.

This time I trap my shadow and lay face-down on it.  There’s a wiggle, a thrash, a muffled hissing sound.  Then a jolt, like the touch of an exposed wire, propels me onto my back.

This time I can’t get up.  But I’m already up there, laughing at my dark form on the floor.  I watch me walk off.

F.M. Scott

F.M. Scott is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lives and writes.  His work has appeared previously in Trembling with Fear, and he was a finalist in the inaugural Flash Fiction Contest sponsored by The Tulsa Voice and Nimrod International Journal.  His short story “Isolated Drums” was recently published in the first issue of The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine.

http://writprodsm.wixsite.com/fmscott

Facebook and Twitter @fmscottauthor

Jeremy’s Journey

The sun rose, and Jeremy’s journey begins.
Down from the temple and into the world.
Over a path carved into the mountains a Millennium ago.
The teachers taught Jeremy to survive the trials.
Yet no students had returned in decades.
Jeremy stared down the wolves, and they let him pass into the forest.
Beyond it, the darkness beckoned.
He brought fire to lighten the way, and the darkness unfolded before him.
A fork in the road offered two paths to choose.
One was worn.
The other unused.
Jeremy set off on the path most traveled.
Tomorrow another’s journey shall begin.

Stuart Conover

Stuart Conover is many things… A father. A husband. A messiah. A rescue dog owner. A Writer. An editor.

But most importantly this week he is in mourning over the loss of Stan Lee.

Always the showman, we can at least honor this icon’s legacy by continuing to entertain the world which is one of the most important things that help keep both the creators and those who enjoy our work going.

‘Nuff said.

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About Stuart Conover

Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!

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