Trembling With Fear 12/13/20

Christmas is a time for giving – in our case giving books! I hope some of you have been able to take a look at our Christmas Indie Bookshelf and perhaps considered picking up a book or two from the shelves. The majority of books on the post are the creations of Horror Tree’s contributors, staff, patreons and sponsors – a little bit of free promotion as a thank you for all your support this past year. The first ‘shelf’ however is given over to charity, so please consider grabbing a copy of one of those to help the wide range of worthwhile causes. I can tell you now, that Diabolica Britannica raised a whopping £750 for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). As someone with a story in that one, I’d like to give a personal thankyou to everyone who bought a copy!

I’ve had a small success this week with an acceptance in the Far From Home anthology from OffLimits Press, ed. Samantha Kolesnik, a call I must add I found in the Horror Tree pages! I won’t go over those I’ve received rejections from … 😊 I hope you are finding success in your trawls of Horror Tree’s submission posts.

Trembling with Fear starts with The Magic Hour by G.A. Miller brings a story within a story to life. When we write it’s to escape the world around us, to create our own universes and play God. But what happens if what you write becomes reality – and then are you God or the Devil?

A Loving Community by Ryan Benson is a great bit of rural witchraft. More covens and folk horror please!

Bricked Off by Radar DeBoard adds a little twist to the face-in-the-storm drain trope.

The Kiss of the Abyss by Steven Holding takes its main character to a very dark place. Drugs take him to the brink but he wants more. And if you look into the void, can you survive?

Enjoy the stories and send us yours!

 

Take care

Steph

 

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Hello all!

The end of the year is coming. How terrifying is that? Our Christmas edition call of Trembling With Fear has closed for 2020 and responses are already going out which should hopefully be done soon!

Just a quick recap for those who missed last week:
– 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!
– 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! 🙂

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

The Magic Hour by G.A. Miller

His eyes opened partway, just enough to reveal a huge clown staring at him. They opened fully, that image on the flat screen just an advertisement for a movie that was available on demand. He realized the screen saver was on, and he’d fallen asleep in the recliner again.

He found the remote on the cushion beside his leg and turned the TV off. Birds chattered and chirped among themselves in the darkness outside. What appeared to be a bright moon shrouded by clouds in the dark sky was actually that new LED street light viewed through the folds in the sheer curtains hanging in the picture window. Between two of those folds, he could see the subtle shift of the black sky to more of a bluish gray tone, the approaching sunrise those birds must be discussing out there.

As he shifted in his chair to reach for his phone, each creak of the frame was louder than it would be among daytime distractions, giving them a more sinister presence in the silent house. He narrowed his eyes against the bright screen that advised him he had no messages but his battery was running low.

Let it go off, he thought as he set it back down, There’s magic in the air right now, as the night reluctantly hands its dominance off to the invading light of day. Technology has no place here.

The full bladder that woke him asserted itself just then, reminding him that he had something to attend to. The spell now broken, he got up and made his way to his bathroom while he wondered if there was a way to capture that magic somehow, to bring it back at will and fully explore the possibilities it held.

That detail completed, he shuffled into the kitchen and pressed the button on the coffee maker, which he’d set to go the night before. Measuring grounds and water to make coffee is a job for one who’s already had their coffee, he thought. If that isn’t oxymoronic, then what is?

As the coffee maker got to the business of brewing, he returned to his recliner and picked up his laptop. He’d scan the news until the coffee was ready, bypassing the usual ads and prompts vying to divert his attention. His plan for the day was to focus on his new story and practice social media distancing to prevent distractions.

“And I don’t even need to wear a mask!” he chuckled as the screen came to life.

The first thing he noticed was that he had no Wi Fi connection. He glanced at the router and saw it had power, but the connection light was off. He picked up his phone again and saw that had no local connection either, but seemed to be getting a signal from his carrier. He tapped the app for the local news station and his jaw gaped open.

PANDEMIC TO PLAGUE? The headline screamed. The story said that bands of ‘unidentified creatures’ began running amok on the streets shortly after sunset yesterday, attacking anyone or anything in their path seemingly at random.

These were not robberies or sexual assaults, the intent seemingly to maim and kill their victims, inflicting copious amounts of damage with ‘claw like’ hands with no other motive.

“This can’t be real,” he muttered softly as the beep sounded in the kitchen, alerting him the coffee was ready. He set the laptop and phone on the table beside his chair and went to the kitchen to pour a cup. As he turned to open the fridge and fetch the creamer, he glanced out the window, the street outside now brightly lit by the morning sun.

And saw the blood pooling on the sidewalk in front of the house next door beside the prone body of what used to be the woman who lived there. She looked as though she’d been fed head first into a running wood chipper, then pulled back and tossed aside when she proved to be too big to pass through the spinning rollers.

He remembered the night before, how he’d raised the volume on his TV because she was outside talking loudly on her phone, seemingly her mission in life. He’d always described her as a ‘Trailer Park Drama Queen’ who’d moved in to care for her father when he fell ill, and then stayed when he’d passed away, to his great dismay.

He looked back at the carton of creamer in his hand, leaking now from his having squeezed it unconsciously while he viewed the carnage outside. He poured some into his cup and grabbed a paper towel to wipe the container off before he put it back and closed the fridge.

Avoiding the outside view this time.

He returned to his chair and picked up his phone to call 911, but hesitated at the sound of sirens somewhere nearby. As he listened, the sound grew louder as they approached. He set his phone down and looked at the router again. 

Still no signal.

He turned on his TV, hoping he still had a feed from the fiber cable strung outside along the telephone poles, but there was nothing other than the splash screen from the DVR indicating it was looking for its signal. 

He grabbed his phone again, and now the signal bars were missing, the battery indicator blinking red. He tried 911 anyway, but never heard anything beyond the beeps of the 9 and first 1 digit as he pressed them. The phone went off before he pressed 1 again, the battery finally exhausted.

“Shit!” he exclaimed, remembering he hadn’t plugged it in earlier.

Phone still in his hand, he realized the volume of the sirens had peaked and was fading again, apparently heading to another scene instead of the one outside.

He looked over at the closed laptop that contained the beginning of a new story, one that connected the dots between the wildfires triggered by global warming, the current pandemic whose symptoms seemed to mutate and change overnight, sightings of massive insects and their impact on the local ecology… he’d basically been drafting the end of the world, but hadn’t yet introduced creatures that had somehow spawned from it all.

Not yet. But… had he thought about them? Imagined their origin or purpose?

He thought he might have. 

It might have been during that twilight time when the night plumbs its depths before reluctantly surrendering to the dawn that the idea had come to him.

He had a momentary thought, something to do with a gate or gates being breached during the hysteria, releasing something that was never meant to walk the surface again, but that thought left as quickly as it had arrived.

Had he written anything? He had to check and see.

It was then, just as he lifted the laptop off the table, that he heard the loud cracking of the locked back door being snapped apart followed by the clicking of claws on the floor tiles in the kitchen.

Large claws.

And then, he heard no more.

G.A. Miller

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.

Web: https://talesfrommiller.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/GMiller666
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100015787309417

A Loving Community

Mercy beamed as she and her ‘sisters’ encircled the ceremonial bonfire. Smiling in church was a sin back in the colony. No anger or joy in the New World—just faith in the Lord.

Mercy swayed. Her old community labeled her a poor choice of a Goodwife, but in the forest, all the women shared their husband, the Dark Prince.

Last full moon’s incantation had wasted the colony’s livestock and blighted their crops. Tonight’s ceremony would send pestilence. Every Goodman and Goodwife would feel their throats burn and lungs close.

Mercy’s sisterhood would care for the children.

A loving community.

Ryan Benson

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.

Web: https://talesfrommiller.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/GMiller666
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100015787309417

Bricked Off

Justin stooped down and looked at the large pile of bricks stacked inside the storm drain. A small gap in the center of the bricks was the only opening he could see. 

A girl’s face suddenly appeared in the gap and Justin fell backwards.

“What’s wrong Justin?” Mr. Robinson asked as he walked up behind him.

“T-There’s a girl in there! W-we have to help her!”

“I see,” Mr. Robison said quietly, “You saw Lacy.”

In one quick motion, Mr. Robinson grabbed Justin and firmly pressed a chloroform soaked rag on his face. 

“I’m afraid you’ll have to join her.”

Radar DeBoard

Radar DeBoard is an aspiring writer who just wants others to find enjoyment in his work. Even though he lacks publication and experience, he hopes his work will have an impact. He has a passion for horror and finds it the most interesting genre to write. 

https://www.facebook.com/WriterRadarDeBoard/

The Kiss of the Abyss Lingers Forever

Many missions as a psychonaut taught me that the third eye was blind. Peyote and LSD spirited away reality, giving a hint of the infinite, but I wanted more.

To smash open the door and access the void forever.

I found a rope. Formed a noose. Took one last heroic dose.

Reached the peak, then fell. 

I was found, cut down, barely alive, pulled from the other side.

A lucky escape. But there’s no sanctuary from the unforgiving Gods that await.

No surprise I took my sight with a rusty knife.

Always screaming, for still I see their sempiternal lives.

Steven Holding

Steven Holding lives with his family in the United Kingdom. His stories have appeared both online and in print. Most recently his work has featured in the collections ‘TREMBLING WITH FEAR YEAR TWO’, ‘SPLASH OF INK’, and the anthologies ‘MONSTERS’ and ‘BEYOND’ from Black Hare Press.  He is currently working upon further short fiction and a novel. You can follow his work at www.stevenholding.co.uk

Those Unmistabkable Wails

Jesse wasn’t quick trudging through the snow.

But, neither were they.

The undead’s wails trailed behind him.

The sound echoing over the frozen landscape.

Growing up in the Midwest he had moved to Cali to escape this weather.

He was visiting home when the outbreak hit.

Now his family was gone, and home was a memory.

The cold wasn’t.

It permeated the layers he wore.

Finally, he spotted a house in the distance.

Breaking in, he closed the door.

At least he was out of the wind.

Suddenly, down the hall, he heard it.

The unmistakable wails of the undead.

Stuart Conover

Growing up in the midwest, Stuart knows all too well the feeling of a deep winter’s cold. Having always dreamed of moving to California for the weather, this is a bit of how he suspects being stuck back in the Midwest after having a warmer life would feel. 

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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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