Welcome to December’s latest offerings as we stagger towards Christmas. I’m not quite in the festive mood yet, a new kitchen is being installed on Monday and I haven’t the faintest how long it will take, only that it will be chaos (although it is a small kitchen). Only when that is done can I think about relaxing and looking forward to the festive season – although with a family dental check up on the 27th that does add a little tension still. I hate going to the dentist. The easiest way to switch off from all that is obviously to read.

Our longer piece of flash this week is Spring by Evan A. Grace. This is a painting, the words splash colour and sound, emotion and sensation across its canvas. The personification of the land adds so much to the mood of this story, earth and sky are alive and brooding. The girl, the watcher, the whole world is involved in that moment. Memories of ancients infiltrate the modern, the past, the ancients reclaiming a son, time stretches and ancestral memory links all. This was not just a painting, this was poetry.

Six by Steven Holding as a piece of dialogue between two characters featuring many stories within one main story – those 6 word tales people ask for and I can never come up with. They’re clever and always make me a little jealous, why can’t I do that? And then there is the main story, the last six being the crux of the tale and is the reality rather than the fiction. A great interweaving of wordplay between the couple.

The Loch Ness Monster by David Rae depicts a perfect moment between a pair of young lovers but as you read, the language used starts to hint at something else, the water is a ‘dead lover’s caress’, one character is compared to a ghost. These are subtle clues as to what is to come when against this backdrop of tranquillity and fun, something stirs. You know it won’t end well. Clever and subtle use of language to hint at the story’s outcome.

Rain by G. A. Miller uses sound as an extremely effective method of setting a scene and creating an atmosphere, juxtaposing expected tranquillity against a strong sense of tension and unease. I love it when writers use the senses to pull in the reader – you are there straight away, listening to the rain … and of course a killer last line.

Out in the wider world, I caught wind of our stalwart Richard Meldrum’s latest publication, Trick in Sirens Call free ezine (available here http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/ezine.htm). What did I find however when I opened the pages? A roster call of TWF contributors. So many familiar names, it felt like coming home. So, congratulations not just to Richard but to Patrick Winters, DJ Tyrer, B.B Blazkowicz, Rie Sheridan Rose, Alyson Faye, Andrea Allison, Mathias Jansson, Ken MacGregor, G.E. Smith, Michael Carter … and if I’ve missed any, apologies. I’ve dipped into the stories a little but hope to give it a proper read at the weekend.

Back to Christmas now. I’ve just posted a little Christmas flash on my site – it gets dusted down each year and put on display. Does anyone have any Christmas/New Year stories or poems they’ve put up on their own sites for the season? If you have send us the links and I’ll put them in next week’s editorial.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

It is the holiday season my friends and I actually scheduled today’s post with the singular thought that I wanted something refreshing in the middle of winter. Something titled “Spring” has to fall into that category to keep you in a good mood, right?

…right?

‘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

Spring

He stands at the edge of the clearing amongst his brothers and watches the

horizon slowly stub out the sun, spitting fire. Smashed idols and thrown crimsons paint

the sky and he smiles. He hears the crickets hum their legs together and warm the

ancient chorus as shadows stretch and pool in periphery. He feels the air convulse

once–twice–and become still. He stands as his father and his father before.

As the sun disappears the wind picks up again and he smiles. She will hear his

song.

The girl appears in the distance, her image wavering and curdled against the sky.

She carries a book in her twisted hands and her hair is bundled and messy; tied like

straw above her head. Her shadow grows long and flickers and leaps over the stones

and tall-grass as she begins to run. The line of trees at the far end of the plot grows

closer and in that moment one might be unsure if it were they or the girl in motion. The

sky looms and lists drunkenly as insects buzz, suspended in time above the flaking

corpses of trampled grain. The air is tight; alive and expectant.

The girl—and maybe time itself slows, unsure.

He watches and his excitement grows. He will feed his brothers. He will make the

Fathers proud.

 

The girl stops and shades her face. Her eyes narrow and she tilts her head to

hear. Underneath the cricket-hum, through the loping breeze…down, down into the

loamy wormy earth she can feel it in her body. All other sounds fade and her senses

sharpen to a point. The air turns thick and she hears him.

Unearthly and earthy, an alien concerto: his voice is throbbing and sensual. He

sings and she is drawn to him. She sees his smile turn vulpine and she is attracted and

afraid. Every cell of her body is a screaming klaxon but the song pulls at her, all knotty

white knuckled anger that leaves bruises and promises. She sways and begins to lurch

unsteadily toward the tree line. The sun winks out and all goes black.

His task is complete and his brothers have been satisfied. Soon they will be

strong again but for now they slumber and swim through the distant memories and

ancient dreams of the Fathers. He can feel them waiting and whispering across the

cold, inky expanse of abandoned dead and distant worlds. On clear nights he can catch

fragments of their murmurs and tortured thoughts like tinny, ghostly voices from a

static-filled radio. They are hungry and time is short. But for now he will watch and wait

through the frozen winter until grey becomes green and life returns and he will begin

again. They are on the cusp of reunion. All is quiet, peaceful.

This was an easy one, he thinks. Sometimes he has to drag them by their hair.

 

The man wakes in a sweaty fit. A branch rakes against the window, cackling like

a witch and the wind is insane. He gets out of bed, loudly cursing his body, and

stumbles to the bathroom. He pisses and washes his face. Down the stairs, and into the

kitchen, now.

He grips the counter, and opens the twin windows above the sink. The curtains

begin to billow, and he pulls them aside and squints, looking out. The air is

cool–crisp–and he hears and sees nothing but moonlight.

Those trees have got to go. They’re hurting the crops; but it was just a dream, he

tells himself. It will be nine years in November and he still reaches for her in the night.

He stumbles and sees nothing but white lights blinking as his head catches the back of

a chair and he falls to the floor.

A branch reaches through the window and tickles his hand, offering buds. He

coughs, and grabs at the branch and eats from it. The branch begins to enfold him like a

glove and he feels safe. In that cozy place he hears the song, and he begins to hum

along.

The branch grips tighter, kissing his forehead, and the man sucks at his thumb. Now all

is chorus and he hears chanting.

“You will make our father proud.”

Over and over and over.

He can only hold out for so long.

 

The man seems to melt into the floor, seeing visions of alien worlds: where trees

are like people, and people are mouths. The man becomes immobile, and the branches

stretch, groaning; covering his face.

Evan A. Grace

Evan A. Grace is an aspiring writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin: a city commonly known as being somewhere north of Chicago. His credits include handwritten letters to the local village newspaper, decorating Pringles cans for birthdays, and staging shows for his parents that he’d cancel immediately if he felt the response wasn’t what he had hoped for. Evan began and ended his college career at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, studying journalism and wasting a lot of money. As a child, Evan was plagued by scary dreams that frighten him to this day so now he writes them down, and draws weird stuff @laurapringleswilder on Instagram. He hopes he can pass on the feeling of skin, just crawling back across itself, making faces. Boo!

Rain

The random patter of rain on the windows in counterpoint to the steady tick of the wall clock should make for a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere in my living room, yet instead creates an air of tension and unease… but why?

This is a late summer rain, no storm or winds, no reason to take shelter, so why am I looking over my shoulder for shadows that aren’t there?

Why do I keep glancing at the door, as though expecting it to burst open, an intruder dashing in?

Well, let him.

I have room for one more body out back.

 

G.A. Miller

G.A. Miller is a new voice in the chorus of horror authors, drawing his ideas from every day, commonplace events that take unforeseen turns down dark corridors, often with horrific consequences.

His work has been published in numerous anthologies from a variety of publishers, and he’s just released his first novella, “Spirit of the Dead”, now available at Amazon.

https://talesfrommiller.com/

http://gamillerdotblog.wordpress.com/

Six

She smiles at him.

“Tell me a story. A horror story. In six words.”

He grins. Nods. Thinks for a second.

“Face at the window. Nobody’s home.”

She giggles, shivers.

“Your turn,” he whispers.

Chews her lip. Claps her hands.

“Siamese twins. Separated at birth. Reunited.”

His nod of approval. She gestures. His go.

“God is a fiction, whispered Beelzebub”

A shriek of delight. He tickles her. Her round.

“All alone? Who’s that behind you!”

He fakes a scream. She punches him.

“You do better!”

A pregnant pause.

“The knife took his wife’s life”

She’s in bits. Carpet’s a mess.

Steven Holding

Steven Holding lives with his family in Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom. His work has been short listed in several contests and his story UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD was selected as the winning entry in the WRITING MAGAZINE 2016 annual short story competition. He is currently in the process of completing a number of new short pieces of fiction and is also working upon a novel. You can visit his website at www.stevenholding.co.uk

The Loch Ness Monster

We rode out to the loch in your dad’s silver merc; you drove. Giggling, laughing, we stripped on the water’s edge letting our clothes fall together. Our eyes stealing shy glimpses of smooth skin. We swam out into the loch, out to the deep water; backstroke, breaststroke, crawl, the icy water like a dead lover’s caress.
In the full moon’s light, your hair and skin glowed like silver, like you were a ghost or a spirit.
You swam towards me and treading water, you kissed me. Your lips tasted of salt water and lip balm.
In the depths, something stirred.

David Rae

David lives in Scotland. He loves stories that exist just below the surface of things, like deep water.

He has most recently had work published or forthcoming  in; THE FLATBUSH REVIEW, THE HORROR TREE, LOCUST, ROSETTA MALEFICARIUM, SHORT TALE 100 and 50 WORD STORIES. You can read more at

Davidrae-stories.com

Damien’s Dilema

Damien Cross hated his Godforsaken name.
He knew that for it only his parents were to blame.
A stupid movie from the seventies would forever have other kids call him the Devil’s son.
Though the chances of finding him without his head in a book are slim to none.
Damien knew that one day soon he would put his newfound knowledge to good use.
Everything he was learning about from poison to politics would help him end the abuse.
He might not be the devil, but he was no one fool.
Damien had always known he was born to rule.

Stuart Conover

Your local Horror Tree editor has been super busy as of late! With the holiday season, I’ve been working diligently on keeping the site updated and not much else. My writing has been slim to none as of late. However, that slim has still allowed me to pen an outline for a fantasy novella.

I’m hoping that when the new year hits that things will calm down and I can really focus on it because…


Hopefully, this will be a piece of writing I can actually get finished!

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