Trembling With Fear 11/22/20
Sometimes I wonder why I do it to myself, but I always push myself to do NaNoWriMo and end up stressed! Mainly because I set higher targets at the start so I can ‘take time off’ if other things crop up. Anyway, I finished last week and have a body of work to get on with. It’s not a finished story but I know what’s happening and where it’s going. And it’s decided to be set during Yule. I’ve not written a festive novel-length horror before!
Claiming back my NaNoWriMo time means I can get back to editing Infernal Clock’s Inferno which will be out soon – and it includes a few TWF writers I might add!
Our first story this week in Trembling With Fear is The Life of a Butterfly by Keily Blair. A fantasy for a change – remember we are a speculative fiction outlet, although mostly on the darker side. Metamorphosis doesn’t just happen after the caterpillar stage, there is an extra step involved and there’s a different origin to these butterflies. Taking something from nature and adding to it can come up with a unique idea, like this one.
Aunt Neil’s Frottage by Will H. Blackwell, Jr.took me back to my childhood days when I remember school outings to the local graveyard and carrying out rubbings. Don’t think they do that anymore!
Blythe Crest by Patrick Winters is a moment of self-questioning, of someone at a point of decision. Can you allow the darkness to pull you on?
Sushi Bar Special by Hillary Lyon is a bit of a twist on a sushi tale (there’s a pun there if you read the story), with a dark ending for someone. I quite liked the lack of morality in this, the blunt pragmatism when it came to making money.
Enjoy the stories and send us yours!
I honestly love our intro story today. Something about it really resonated with me upon originally reading it and still does today as I was finding an image fitting for it.
I can’t believe that we’re coming up to Thanksgiving already this week. November has FLOWN by. While we’re all still sidelined by the Pandemic I hope that you all have something to be thankful for. With my writing hitting a brick wall (even though I did quite a bit for NaNoWriMo), I’m still grateful for it, and for all of you!
We’re working on a few things to make the site a bit easier to manage and access in the next couple of months but with this being the holiday season, we’ll see how much time everyone has.
Side note: Patreon now offers a yearly plan instead of month to month for those who prefer that. I enabled it and added a 10% discount for anyone who signed up to support the site in that manner. Thank you for your continued support!
The Life of a Butterfly by Keily Blair
The wings were foreign, bulky intrusions on Luna’s thin body. They were yellow, spotted, and light. Her new joints and muscles ached. The magic inside of her sat like a rock in her stomach. It burned, flooding her with an invisible, smoldering fire. The hunger rose within her, gnawing and pushing her to work. She flew to the first flower, and pollen clung to her as she gulped mouthfuls of its sweet nectar.
The magic helped the plants grow, spread the pollen. In the mornings, she would collect dew from the flowers to give to thirsty little bugs. At midday, she busied herself flitting about between flowers, tapping them with magic to make them grow faster, aiding in pollination, and collecting nectar.
Humans liked to stop and stare at her, pointing at the pretty “butterfly.” She would wave to them, but they appeared to take no notice of the tiny, waving hands. When frustration took over, or the humans walked away, she would turn invisible and pinch or poke them. They would yelp, check for bug bites, and move on. She would watch them leave with an ache in her heart, her arms sore from hours of waving off and on. Sometimes she would fly after them and whisper apologies in their ears, but her voice never reached them. Or they mistook her careful apology for the sound of a fly buzzing in their ears, and she had to move, or else giant hands would swat her.
At night, she headed back to the treetops to sleep with her sisters. She crawled into bed, listening to them each tell stories of what they did to persuade humans to notice them long enough to see past the “butterfly” illusions that draped over each of them. Each one spoke with a humored smile, but the sorrow in their voices allowed the ache to creep back in. Luna tossed and turned all night, as she did every night, but in the morning, like clockwork, she left their hollow log home to complete the day’s chores.
Her wings flapped behind her, but her arms and legs dangled limp and tired. Her body moved of its own accord, watering the bugs, and collecting the nectar as she did every single day. Each tear that fell from a fairy created a new flower to look after, so Luna had long ago learned to approach each day with dry eyes.
One day, a young girl wandered through the grass, picking at the flowers. She giggled when she saw the butterfly fluttering onto a nearby rose. Luna waved to her, and to her surprise, the girl waved back. Luna cupped her hands around her mouth to call out to the girl.
“You can see me?” Luna asked.
The girl nodded, smiling.
“You can hear me,” Luna said.
This time, she did not care about the girl’s answer. She flew onto the girl’s outstretched hand and smiled.
“What is your name?” Luna asked.
“Willow,” the girl said.
Luna’s body trembled with excitement. The space where her wings met her back ached.
“Would you like to hear a secret, Willow?” Luna asked.
“Yes,” Willow said.
Luna alighted on Willow’s shoulder and whispered the ancient words that had once been whispered into her own ear years ago. The moment she did, the familiar ache in her muscles and joints returned. The magic inside of her grew hotter, scalding her insides and forcing her to double over from the pain. She barely felt Willow drop her. Her extra joints vanished, the wings crumbled away. In less than a minute, Luna found herself lying in the grass, human once more.
She gasped in delight. She stood and spun around, falling back onto the grass with a giggle. A flash of yellow caught her eye, and she frowned.
A butterfly rested on the ground nearby, twitching and preparing for a day’s work.
Keily Blair is a creative writing student at UT Chattanooga, where her nonfiction won the Creative Writing Nonfiction Award. Her fiction has appeared in Nth Degree, Five on the Fifth, and is upcoming in Night to Dawn. She is currently at work on a fantasy novel and a collection of essays about being a person with bipolar disorder.
Aunt Nell’s Frottage
Nellie liked to “trace the dead,” as she called it—rendering ‘rubbings’ from chiseled tombstone-inscriptions.
Most any tombstone-face would suffice, as long as she could read names, deduce ages—learn something of the person, obscured below.
She was fascinated by people no longer living—those brief blurbs about them, raised into vitreous charcoal from the stone-slabs—who they were, where they lived, what they had done with their lives.
She believed, in ways, she ‘renewed’ their histories, by transferring vital information to vellum’s lithe animus-surfaces—legacies there revived and, possibly, transformed!
She swore some learned to say their new names.
Will H. Blackwell, Jr.
Will H. Blackwell Jr. is a retired professor living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he continues research on parasitic fungi in freshwater. He has fiction in The Drabble, The Sirens Call, and 365 Tomorrows; poems are in Aphelion, Black Petals, and Blue Unicorn.
I stare, transfixed beyond reason, into the roiling black surf that churns below, wondering what dread eyes may yet be staring back at me from those obsidian depths. For I know they are there.
The shores of my ancestral home have been much alive this last fortnight, teeming with shadows that crest the waves with howls and obscene calls that, despite their horrid echoes, hold a fascination over my sleepless mind.
What strange, limitless world must they inhabit? And is there a place for me there?
I wonder: will they come for me, or shall I wade out to them?
Patrick Winters is a graduate of Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL, where he earned a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. He has been published in the likes of Sanitarium Magazine, Deadman’s Tome, Trysts of Fate, and other such titles. A full list of his previous publications may be found at his author’s site, if you are so inclined to know: http://wintersauthor.
Sushi Bar Special
“A good haul this mornin’,” Tom bragged, taking off his sweat stained cap. “Got something for ya.”
Ono-san leaned his elbows on the counter top. “I’m listening.”
“Went out early, a bit farther than usual. Sea was calm.” Tom squinted at the memory.
The sushi chef sighed. “Get on with it. I have to set up for lunch.”
Tom glanced up at Ono-san. “Suddenly, there’s violent splashin’ . . she was tangled in our net.”
Ono-san tapped the counter impatiently. “How much?”
“Legally, I can only sell you the mermaid’s lower half for sushi,” Tom pointed out, calculating his price.
HillaryLyon is a speculative,horror, and sci-fi writer whose stories have appeared in more than 60 print and online zines, as well as in over 30 anthologies. She’s also an illustrator for horror/sci-fi, and pulp fiction sites.
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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, Reborn, and The Woodcutter, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused (all via Brigids Gate Press). 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 can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on Blue Sky as stephellis.bsky.social.