Trembling With Fear 11/24/2019

Hail Satan, Archangelo … that’s been my earworm for the past week, although, it’s not quite the song I can sing in the day job. Year Zero has been stuck in my head since seeing Ghost perform last weekend. It’s been a while since I’ve had any ‘switch off’ time so having a few days not writing and instead enjoying a live show was wonderful. Once Monday came however, it was back to work and the evenings have been filled with working on the edits for my novella. This has been a great learning curve for me as it’s highlighted some aspects of my writing of which I was vaguely aware but not the extent, namely the overuse of certain words or phrases. I have faithfully written out that list and I will be sweeping future work for those particular terms. Next time you write a piece, remember to check your writing for overuse? That’s one thing about this writing lark, you’re always learning.

Our first story at Trembling With Fear is The Arsenal by David Berger and is a brilliant piece of fantasy writing. I checked the comment I’d put against it on submission and it said ‘Tongue-in-cheek, Pratchettesque’. This is a high compliment from me as Terry Pratchett is a favourite author and I absolutely adore his Discworld novels. I think David and Terry would’ve got on fine.

Caught in the Axe by Terry Miller brings us violent revenge and an apt title. How apt is delivered in the last line. A cleverly worded title always piques the interest in a submission line.

Keep Your Gods Close by Robert Allen Lupton turns the tables on the gods. How powerless do humans feel when their Gods do not live up to their promises? Here we find out exactly what humans would do if they had the chance. The anger is palpable, the emotion blunt and explicit.

Random by David Berger brings us a somewhat philosophical discussion on the nature of things right before a rather uncomfortable procedure is about to start. The last line is so dead pan, it makes it a wonderfully humorous story.

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

Steph

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

First off, I’d like to say that I’ve been on a huge fantasy kick as of late (both writing and reading) so really appreciated David Berger’s contribution of “The Arsenal” to Trembling With Fear. It really hit the spot, even though it left me wanting more! (In all the best ways!)

So… Updates. They’ve been sparse as of late. I know we’re currently fiddling with the newsletter and still working out some issues on the website’s back end. We’ve got a few fun things coming but I am, as always, in the weeds. I’m hoping we’ll have a new Christmas LIst for Writers up soon as well with how well last year’s release went over!

Also, Horror Tree is still looking for help. Article writers (original ideas and those who would like to write and help compile socialized posts), reviewers, interviewers, a new interview coordinator would all be welcome! Please don’t hesitate to reach out. I hope you’ve all been having a great weekend so far and for those in the States are ready for a holiday week.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

The Arsenal by David Berger

One night, late, almost dawn, three warriors: an Elf, a Dwarf and a Nymph, known as the Warriors Three, sat around a small table at an inn drinking. The landlord of the inn, a Troll, was sleeping somewhere as Trolls mostly do. The fire burned low, and the spirits of the three were not high.

With the sunrise, they would hie out to fight a fearsome, unknown foe that had been ravaging the small valleys at the feet of the mountain range known as the World’s End. So hideous was this enemy that it befogged the minds of the pitiful few who saw it and survived its attack. 

And as the three fighters prepared to face the enemy, they drank and argued, as is the wont of warriors on the eve of battle. They also contemplated the Magical Weapons they were to bear.

“Boring, I say,” the Elf spoke in the irritating high-pitched voice of his kind. “Magical Weapons these days are the most boring I’ve ever seen. I mean a Ring, a Sword and a Book. Is there anything more tedious? I’m tempted to use those human arms we found in that cave. He kicked the pile of human weapons under the table, causing a loud “clank.”

“I see nothing wrong with the Magical Weapons we’ve got,” the Dwarf rumbled in the guttural tones of his race. “Those are the exact weapons we wielded at the Battle of the Icy Bog, when we slew the Snow Giants. The Ring cast light to blind them. The Book gave us spells to melt the Icy Bog under them. The Sword burst into flame, and I cut them down. What more do you want?”

“Boring!” the Elf said.

“I think,” the Dwarf growled, “That what you really want is to use those human weapons.”

“What is it about those human weapons arms that attracts you so much” the Nymph asked in the musical voice of her kind.

“I dunno,” the Elf squealed. “They’re heavy and shiny. My Ring’s tarnished; the Dwarf’s Sword’s rusty; and your Book’s cover is moldy. But these things … .”

“Well how about some new Magical Weapons?” the Nymph sang out.

“What do you have in mind?” the Elf screeched.

“How about a Stone, a Wand and a Cup,” she trilled.

“Twice as boring!” the Elf practically shrieked.

“I have to agree with friend Elf,” the Dwarf grumbled. “I’ve seen Dwarf children using those for toys.”

“Well what have you got in mind?” the Nymph hummed.

“Not much,” the Elf squeaked. “Do either of you have any ideas?”

“Yes,” warbled the Nymph. “Why don’t we each write something down on a piece of parchment? Then we’ll put the parchments on the table, and each of us will read one. And we’ll see what each of us thinks of.”

Elf looked bored; the Dwarf snarled; the Nymph took three cold embers from the dying fire and three pieces of parchment from her pack and gave one of each to the other two. For a minute there was silence as they all wrote. Then the Nymph chorused.

“Let’s roll up our parchments and put them on the table. Then we’ll close our eyes and each take one. No peeking!”

“This is really boring,” the Elf wailed.

“Dwarf kid stuff,” the Dwarf rumbled

But it was done, and soon each of the three had a parchment.

“I’ll read first,” the Elf practically screamed.

“I should read first,” the Nymph canaried. “The was my idea.”

“I’ll go first,” the Dwarf roared softly. 

“BREAD!” the Dwarf read. “One of us thinks we can defeat our unknown foe with bread? That’s insane!”

“SNOT!” the Elf yelped. “That’s even crazier than bread.”

“A FEATHER!” the Nymph sang. “Who … ?”

“It doesn’t matter,” the Elf said in a remarkably low tone of voice for him. “Back where we started from, bored to tears.”

“I tried,” the Nymph said, starting an aria.

“So that’s what we go with,” the Dwarf said suddenly, in an amazingly smooth manner. 

“What do you mean?” the Elf squeaked.

“What are you thinking of?” the Nymph sang.

“We get a loaf of bread; cut a hole in it; and put the feather in; and plug the hole with snot.”

“Even for a Dwarf, that’s … .” the Elf piped.

“Don’t say that,” the Nymph whistled. “That’s kindish.”

“Sorry,” the Elf said. “Stress, y’know.”

“Don’t worry about it,” the Dwarf rumbled. “Let’s try it and see what happens.”

So they did. The Elf pulled a loaf of bread out of his pack and cut a hole in it with his dagger. The Nymph pulled a feather from one of her wings and put it in the hole. Then the Dwarf pulled an extra-large booger from his nose and plugged up the hole.

“Now what?” the Elf screeled. “I’m getting bored again.”

Just then a sunbeam came in through one of the windows of the inn. And a roaring sound was heard that shook the whole building.

“The Foe!” the Elf squealed putting on his Ring and grabbing his bow and arrows.

“To arms!” the Dwarf growled, brandishing his Sword

“Follow me!” the Nymph sang out as she leapt for the door carrying her Book with the Loaf under her arm.

The Warriors Three burst out of the inn to see, perhaps a hundred ells away, a Grey Fog. 

“It’s a Grey Fog,” the Elf shrieked.

“I can see that,” the Dwarf growled. 

“How do we kill it?” the Nymph anthemed.

“I don’t know,” the Elf piped. “No one ever has.”

And so began the Battle of the Troll’s Inn.

First, the Elf shined the light from his Ring at the Grey Fog, which seemed to be flowing towards them slowly. The Fog recoiled briefly and then kept coming on. 

Then the Dwarf, wielding his Sword, charged the Fog, which threw him back bodily and crashed him against the wall of the inn. 

Finally, the Nymph chanted an appropriate spell from her book. The Grey Fog hesitated for a moment, seeming to push against the spell, but then it continued toward the Warriors.

“What now?” the Elf screamed, causing the windows of the inn to shatter.

“Throw the bread,” the Dwarf growled with the volume of a she-bear defending her cubs, causing a few stones to fall of the inn’s roof.

Then the Nymph, with the grace of her kind, sang a battle hymn and threw the loaf at the Grey Fog. As soon as the object hit the Grey Fog, it collapsed in a puff of dirty yellow smoke that was blown away by the wind in less than a minute.

And so ended the Battle of the Troll’s Inn.

“That was all right!” the Elf squealed.

“So what do we do now?” the Dwarf growled.

“Maybe open a bakery.” the Nymph warbled.

They went back into the inn and sat back down. The Troll landlord, awake, but seemingly unaware of the titanic struggle that had just occurred outside his establishment, brought the Warriors Three morning ale.

The Dwarf reached under table and picked up one of the human weapons, an AK-47.

“I don’t think these would’ve helped,” the Dwarf snarled.

“Nasty looking thing,” the Nymph melodized.

“Maybe we can try ’em next time,” the Elf squeaked.

David Berger is an old guy from Brooklyn, now living in Manhattan with his wife of 25 years: the best jazz singer in NYC. He is a father and grandfather.  He has been, among other things, a case worker, construction worker, letter carrier, high school and ESL teacher, a legal proofreader and a union organizer.  Loves life, his wife and the world. Hopes to help the latter escape destruction.

David has been published by Verso with his graphic history of American bohemia: ‘Bohemians’, co-written by Paul Buhle and by DRABBLE for his works ‘Invisible Dudeand ‘Statuary’. His story, Ghoul Days, features in The Sirens Call ezine, Issue 45.

Caught In The Axe

Blood. The room was painted with it, the walls, the floor, even a few splashes on the ceiling. Zane was delightfully showered in the warm revenge of his blade. He licked his lips, feeling so exquisitely alive.

Jen was a cheating whore but a dead whore can’t cheat! Eric, her fixation, was a feast for the maggots now too. Zane caught them in the act, then caught them with the axe. It was so beautiful. Art. A masterpiece.

As Zane rushed to leave, he slipped, fell, and split his own skull wide open. Fate had a sick sense of humor.

Terry Miller lives in Portsmouth, Ohio right along the Ohio River. His work has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, Devolution Z, Jitter Press, Poetry Quarterly, O Unholy Night in Deathlehem, and was nominated for the annual Rhysling Award from The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association which earned him a spot in the 2017 Rhysling Anthology. 

Keep Your Gods Close

The warrior queen said, “We’ve killed most of these heathen gods and their priests. Mighty temples have fallen. Tell me, Englishman, is it the same in your country? When your gods grow troublesome, do good men kill them?”

“Not exactly, but many Englishmen died in the name of some deity.”

“But do your Gods die?”

“They lose their powers. The gods of Greece, Rome, and the Norsemen only exist in children’s fairy tales.”

“But men didn’t kill them.”

“No.”

“That’s not good enough. I want my gods where I can run a sword through them if they make me angry.”

Robert Allen Lupton is retired and lives in New Mexico where he is a commercial hot air balloon pilot. Robert runs and writes every day, but not necessarily in that order. He has been published in several anthologies and his short stories are online at www.horrortree.com and www.crimsonstreets.com. His novel, Foxborn, was published in April. His collection of running themed horror, science fiction, and adventures stories, Running Into Trouble, was published in October, Dragonborn, the Foxborn sequel was released in April, 2018.

www.amazon.com/author/luptonra

www.goodreads.com/author/show/15292457.Robert_Allen_Lupton

https://www.hometownreads.com/books/foxborn

​Random

 “You ask, ‘Why you?’ the Alien said. “You know how foolish that question is.”

“Why’s it foolish?” I asked, strapped to the Alien’s examination table.

“It’s foolish because you’re assuming causality here.”

“Well isn’t there a cause, a reason, why you chose me?”

“No. It was purely random. We assigned a number to every person on Earth. Then we used a random number generator, and your number came up: 4,732,533,619. And here you are.”

“Isn’t randomness itself a choice?”

“Hmm, perhaps.”

“So there it is: There was a choice!”

“Hmm, perhaps. In any event, let’s get that anal probe started.”

David Berger is an old guy from Brooklyn, now living in Manhattan with his wife of 25 years: the best jazz singer in NYC. He is a father and grandfather.  He has been, among other things, a case worker, construction worker, letter carrier, high school and ESL teacher, a legal proofreader and a union organizer.  Loves life, his wife and the world. Hopes to help the latter escape destruction.

David has been published by Verso with his graphic history of American bohemia: ‘Bohemians’, co-written by Paul Buhle and by DRABBLE for his works ‘Invisible Dudeand ‘Statuary’. His story, Ghoul Days, features in The Sirens Call ezine, Issue 45.

Stephanie Ellis

Stephanie Ellis is a member of the HWA and writes dark speculative prose and poetry which has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her work includes the novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel and the gothic novella, Bottled, both via Silver Shamrock Publishing.She can be found at https://stephanieellis.org/ and on twitter @el_Stevie.

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