Trembling With Fear 12/06/20
Christmas is certainly looking different this year. Decorations went up before the end of November in my area and people keep telling me it’s Christmas. Not for my family yet, though! My kids are all still away at uni, we’ve no arrangements to see parents due to their ages and me and my husband are currently re-evaluating our futures and where we want to be. We have a plan in action which will hopefully pan out, otherwise you’ll find me crying quietly in a corner somewhere. After this weekend, I’m hoping to say what we’re doing and where we’re going but I don’t want to jinx anything.
Looking at some old Serial Killer posts the other day, I realised I’d got a name slightly wrong for which I must apologise. The serial, ‘How Much Did You Take’, was written by Stefanos (and not Stefan) Singelakis. I’ve tweaked the post to reflect this.
On the publication front, I’d like to share TWF writer Mark Anthony Smith has hit the high spots of the amazon charts with his book Brood, sitting at #36, a couple of places behind Stephen King. I’ve had a read and it is a very dark, unsettling tale – well worth your time.
Also taking over amazon, is Alyson Faye with The Lost Girl/Spindleshanks who hit the number one slot. Aly’s writing is something which never fails to hit the mark.
If you’re looking for other books to buy for yourself – or for Christmas, remember to check out our weekly Indie Bookshelf roundup on Fridays and there is a special Christmas bookshelf showing publications from contributors, sponsors, patreons and staff at Horror Tree.
Our first story in Trembling with Fear is Debris from the Wreckage by Michael Anthony Dioguardi. Fragments of a spaceship’s log document the events which lead to its destruction. Through the entry snippets you get a real sense of the excitement of the crew at their discoveries, whilst the technical scientific jargon is recorded via the most old-fashioned of methods – pen and paper. Danger is expressed in the briefest of phrases and fragmented sentences. Nicely done.
Mister Yum-EEE by G.A. Miller brings the scene to life with sound – and a killer ice-cream recipe!
Possession by RJ Meldrum reminds us that demons are always red-eyed and pointy-tailed. Taking a different view of trope can quickly give you another, bleaker tale.
Bones in the Bank by Mike Rader is a bit of a revenge story, of greed brought on by gold.
Enjoy the stories and send us yours!
Well. I have good news for all of the fiction readers who frequent the site! Our serialized stories (Serial Killers) are now all grouped together! If you’ve been putting off reading any of the serialized stories because they can be a bit difficult to navigate through, each one now has an option at the top of that post to go to any chapter of that specific story. This was a very common-sense change which we hadn’t thought of and was suggested by one of our amazing Patreons! Not only do they help keep the site running, but are also making it easier for all of our readers to enjoy! (Honestly, if you ever have any issues with the site’s ease of use please do reach out as we want to make it as user friendly as possible.)
Just a reminder, we’d all appreciate if you have a moment to head over to Writer’s Digest and nominate us for one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers? We made last year’s edition and would love to make it this year as well! 🙂
Debris from the Wreckage by Michael Anthony Dioguardi
The following documents are presented in the order in which they were found, salvaged from the landing debris.
At fifty-one AUs—a tad ahead of Pluto—we caught the last sight of them. A flurry of short-period comets hindered our pursuit, obscuring the pod’s path. The crew is growing restless. The Captain will not be pleased we had lost them so easily. We’ll have meal-time soon—not looking forward to it!
I suppose an explanation is in order; most of the public is unaware the complexities of such strange creatures. Half-machine and half-organic; their internalities are truly exotic and their behavior was even more stunning…
…tipped-nose that can smell radiation burning up to light year away. Fascinating! Their dorsal fins often shined like a cosmic beacon, fooling space-sailors for millennia. The sailors’ mistake almost always having ended with their demise…
The promoters of ichthyology as a stagnant science were stalwart opposers to the idea. Cetology had reached its apex and the rest followed suit. They argued there is no room for them in the hierarchy—that they exited out of the accepted taxonomy. After researching the remains of the ‘Charon Monster,’ it was concluded that they indeed demonstrated characteristics most deserving of the common nomenclature, namely, the subclass ecasmobranchii and in the class chondrichthyes. The foremost hypothesis regarding their hybrid nature focused heavily on their proclivity to not only devour carbon-based organisms but their vessels as well. The machinery would organize itself into their being, as if programmed into their DNA. Since they originated off of Earth, the scientists…
…crew in such great spirits. The pod was spotted this afternoon from behind a small cluster of TNOs. Following the announcement, the crew stormed the deck and poked their noses against the viewing chamber. So few had seen a hybodon, not even from a distance. Luckily our ship…
On the continuation of the hybodon’s taxonomy, their bodies were surprisingly slender. Since they resembled the long-extinct earthen hybodontiformes, it was only fitting to name them as such. Their most striking difference, however, consisted in the caudal fin, which at times seemed to propel their bodies at speeds inconceivable to the human eye…
…stowed away on this vessel too long. The men always tended to lose their heads. White-outs were frequent; when there’s nothing but spangled darkness in every direction, it’s…
Unidentified entry (between 70-80) [Fragment 8]
…often in pods of five to seven, it is rumored that they play with their prey, savoring each moment…
…a pair of passing red eyes…
The Captain called us all to the galley. He pontificated terrifically atop his pedestal; no one dared trickle away. He snarled and whipped his arms around, entranced in his own galactic stupor. Calling out, he cried, “We’ll not stop, you hear? This pod’s no match for this crew! We’ll not…
Unidentified entry (175 +) [Fragment 11]
…in their jetsam. Time itself seemed to warp behind the hybodon’s wicked tail. I write with one hand and grip my trinitro-harpoon with the other…
Unidentified entry (175 +) [Fragment 12]
It’s lonely and quiet among the cosmos. It’s only a matter of time I suppose until my oxygen runs out. I luckily snatched a handful of my papers before our vessel was pierced. Having already prepared myself for this inevitable doom, I doubt any of the others made it out alive. There will be no support vessel, just the fragments of our ship and crew. The hybodons ripped right through the hull; the rest of the ship was gargled up with ease; we never stood a chance. They know I’m still alive. Their red eyes—they blinked in unison with the stars. My pen might run out any minute, or I might be their next meal; I’m not sure what’ll happen first. I can feel the force from their…
…why I was writing on paper? Well, it was none of his business. But I suppose there’s a bit of nostalgia in it, no? Documenting the voyage like the sailors of yesteryear…
…the size of a full-grown man and razor sharp. They had several hundred, between countless rows…
Unidentified entry (175 +) [in the corner of Fragment 12?]
…lightheaded…they’re around me…
Unidentified entry (Presumed day 175?)
…cut through them! More vicious than they’d ever seen! Grab your harpoons and suit up!” The Captain doubled over and strapped on his helmet. “Today! God…
Unidentified entry (175+) [Presumed ripped from Fragment 12]
My flesh will soon make their meal. May God have mercy on my soul.
Unidentified entry (date unknown)
…for money? For fame? I can’t put my finger on it. I’m not sure either.
Maybe we’re here for no good reason at all…
Michael Anthony Dioguardi
Mike teaches and writes in upstate New York. His work has been published by 365 Tomorrows and has been featured or is forthcoming in Close to the Bone, Sirens Call eZine, Dark Dossier, Red Cape Publishing’s E is for Exorcism Anthology, and Black Hare Press’ Lockdown Sci-fi Anthology Series. Tall Tale TV will also be reading one of his stories in an upcoming podcast this summer.
The clear clanging of the bells in counterpoint to the grumble of the diesel engine, followed by the moan of worn brakes obscured by the laughter and yells of the children lined up at the curb for the ice cream truck’s arrival.
The sounds of summer.
Mister Yum-EEE slid the glass window open and greeted the children as he took their orders, patiently filling them with a happy smile as he always did.
Was the cyanide in chocolate and arsenic in vanilla or the other way around?
He smiled and filled orders. It would all work out in the end.
G.A. Miller is a new voice in the chorus of horror authors, drawing his ideas from everyday, commonplace events that take unforeseen turns down dark corridors.
He stood at the front door of his house, unwilling to enter. The demon, the one that’d possessed him for so long was inside, waiting for him to return. He wanted to be able to run away, to flee from the monster and abandon it forever, but he was too weak. He turned the knob and entered. The demon sat where it always sat, on the kitchen counter. He knew what it wanted. He walked over to it. Tomorrow I will defeat you, he said to himself. He unscrewed the cap and took a swig from the bottle of scotch.
RJ Meldrum is an author and academic. Born in Scotland, he moved to Ontario, Canada in 2010. He has had stories published by Sirens Call Publications, Horrified Press, Trembling with Fear, Darkhouse Books, Smoking Pen Press and James Ward Kirk Fiction. He is an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.
Bones in the bank
Castlemaine looks like London — huge decorative stone facades built when the Victorian Gold Rush poured millions into the city’s lap.
I’d started a bookshop in an old bank building. But I’d heard the stories.
Hundreds of hardworking Chinese were massacred when they took over abandoned mines and found all the gold missed by the Irish. Not a good recipe for racial harmony!
Some bodies had never been found — until I broke open the old vault in my basement.
Skeletons, piled high!
Their spirits freed at last, they handed me bags of gold. Fortunately they didn’t ask my name. It’s O’Leary.
Mike Rader is a pseudonym used by Australian author and poet James Aitchison. As J J Munro and Mike Rader, Aitchison writes horror and noir crime. As James Lee, he writes Asia’s biggest selling horror series for middle readers — Mr Midnight — which has sold over three million copies. His work can be seen at www.flameoftheforest.com
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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 is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on Blue Sky as stephellis.bsky.social.