Trembling With Fear 3/5/2023
Hello, children of the dark. Keeping it short and sweet this week as your humble correspondent has been in her sick bed for several days. The universe is definitely telling me something – focus on spooky stuff and I’m totally fine; go back to the day job and I get sick. If anyone works out how to make a living without actually making a living, can you let me in on your secret?
Before I just straight into this week’s edition, though, a quick hooray and wunderbar that it’s March, which means Horror Tree will be celebrating women in horror for the next month. Keep an eye out for interviews, profiles and insights from some of the most talented women in this genre – and if you’re a woman in horror with something to say, please drop us a line and pitch us an idea!
For now let’s turn to this week’s menu. For our Trembling main course, Isaac Gbadebo has found a classified document that contains some deep, dark scifi horror. This is followed by three delicious quick bites:
- RJ Meldrum gets ready to rob,
- Paul Latham gets hungry, and
- Robert Allen Lupton gets active in the kitchen.
And don’t forget, we have an insatiable hunger for drabbles. Feed us, Seymour.
Over to you, Stuart.
Welcome to Women in Horror Month! We’ve long been supporters of the season and, as the trend has become, we’ve moved to March from February to coincide with the majority of other sites out there. We kicked things off with an Interview with Ruth Anna Evans and have been posting daily since with new interviews, guest posts, features, and more! I hope you enjoy our yearly celebration of women in horror!
Our server admin wasn’t doing well this week, so no progress on the upgrade front. I was hoping for better news this week there. Not much new to report, I’m afraid. Outside of school keeping me busy, prepping for WiHM always has me pretty busy on the site’s backend, and this year is no different! Have a great one all.
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For those looking to support the site, we’re always open Ko-Fi donations and always have our Patreon going.
As always, I hope you had a great weekend.
The Throne, by Isaac Gbadebo
WARNING: THIS DOCUMENT IS CLASSIFIED TO THOSE WITHOUT PROPER CLEARANCE. YOU MUST CONTACT YOUR SUPERVISOR BEFORE VIEWING THIS DOCUMENT. UNAUTHORISED VIEWINGS WILL RESULT IN DETAINMENT AND PROSECUTION.
From the womb of primordial darkness formed a voidbourne megastructure of terror and speculation. The Great Throne sits on the mathematical edge of the Sun’s gravity, three-quarters built by hands unknown to us, floating in the empty abyss. Dubbed “Object 212”, the megastructure has an approximate mean radius of 42,763.4 miles – roughly the same as Jupiter’s – and its seemingly proportionate gravity transcends the boundaries of the third dimension. After the RRS Starsurfer disaster of 2344, the Commonwealth of Man declared a no-fly zone within 80,000,000 miles of it in perpetuity.
The discovery of the Great Throne occurred after the vanishing of the North Sentinelese Islanders in 2290. After five extensive censuses, it appeared that North Sentinel Island showed no more human activity. Two years later, the Commonwealth of Man had decided to investigate the island for the first time in 301 years. The inhabitants had mysteriously disappeared, leaving their huts, weapons, food, and even clothes. An altar sat at the geographical center of the island, surrounded with food and jars of fresh blood. A throne sat atop said altar and sitting on the throne were the bones of what at first appeared to be a young child. However, after further investigation, the remains shared identical DNA and skeletal structure to Denisovan remains previously discovered across Asia, an early hominid that existed during the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic. The skeleton, upon several tests, appeared to have begun decomposition over two years ago. This of course baffled the scientific world and thus, for the first time since the prosperous unification of Earth, humankind was shaken to the core.
The throne on North Sentinel Island stood at 8.8 feet tall and had a jagged top and an almost ‘melting’ texture. It held strange carvings of circles and lines etched in with a tool so thin that scientists and anthropologists remain unsure as to how these archaic peoples could ever possess the technology to create such inscriptions. Additionally, when unobserved, the carvings on the throne would change shape and position, as proven when a series of photos of the throne taken days after one another were compared. When the throne was recorded, no such changes occurred. The head researcher of the first investigation, Dr. Gregory Parr, stated the following:
“The lines made a whistle as air passed through it. It reached these heavenly octaves I didn’t know humans could ever hear. Even our most powerful microphones couldn’t pick them up. Just our ears. It was like the whistles sounded in our heads, in our minds. And when you stared at the sacrilegious carvings for too long, the whistles whispered to you.”
A series of petroglyphs and writings were carved into the base of the altar. Using other nearby Andaman dialects, The Commonwealth’s Indigenous Rights council successfully translated the markings on it. This was deemed difficult, as the North Sentinelese Islanders’ self-isolation had isolated their language from even their nearest neighbors. Upon translation, we found that the inscriptions held accurate heliocentric coordinates of what we would later find out to be Object 212 itself, located beyond 2018 AG37, the farthest known trans-Neptunian object from the sun until then. This new phenomenon split the artisan and conscientious minds of Earth as to what aspect of this discovery was more terrifying. The former would ponder where the Sentinelese even went, and the latter argued over the source of their knowledge.
What we had later come to find out was that the Throne and Object 212 itself are made from the same material and are the only two places it exists in our solar system. Dr. Parr was the first human to come into physical contact with “metal 99”, after ignoring safety protocols during the second expedition on the island:
“I kept dreaming of it. It whispered to me. I’ve studied the North Sentinelese for the better part of my life, and I got to finally study them up close. I just wanted to touch it. I removed my safety glove to feel the intricate carvings on the strange, moving metal and bathed in the euphoria, the hypnosis. What snapped me out of it was the smell of my burning fingers. The sound was like bacon on a frying pan, but the metal was freezing cold.”
The altar was subsequently quarantined.
Two weeks later, Dr. Parr, who studied Anthropology for over forty years, suddenly had insights into matters of aerospace engineering and quantum physics beyond every leading scientific community of that paradigm. Cited as the father of ionic propulsion, Dr. Parr’s innovations between 2292 and 2300 ushered in the second scientific golden age after the Third World War. In his own words, he “suddenly just realized how the universe worked.” Dr. Parr’s mental health deteriorated along the way, as seen when he claimed his 2298AD Nobel prize completely naked. Constantly in and out of mental institutions, Dr Parr always demanded a notepad and pen to scribe mathematical equations that further spurred human innovation. And if no pen or parchment were given to him, he would use his own feces. His dreams were of significance also:
“These are no dreams. I am dragged to this place against my will every time I lose consciousness. It’s more real than here, now, this plane of existence is my dream. When I slumber, I spend eons in this limbo, building some great white monolith as the stars die above me. Something dwells there, beyond my five senses. Something ushers me to climb up the infinite stairs of starlit ivory, agonizing my poor old bones to drag identical cube blocks as white as light. I can only think, cry, and lament. I fear closing my eyes.”
“There is another dream. I am running through infinite corridors with a ceiling shrouded in darkness. In this place, there is one other, that lurks behind every corner. The other searches for me, and I hear the malice in its footsteps. I hug the walls and cower in the shadows as it marches this place of disorientation in search of me. One of these days, one of these dreams, it will find me. In fact, it already has. It has found and devoured me an infinite number of times, my physical body just hasn’t caught up with the happenings beyond time-space. Soon, it will. Not just with me, but with all living things.”
Anesthesia and opioids were constantly administered to him by force as he would refuse to sleep. Despite his madness, Dr. Parr pushed the boundaries of humankind beyond the asteroid belt and in 2300, humans set foot on Neptune’s largest moon, Triton, for the first time. During the party held in honor of Dr. Parr that evening, he completely vanished, last seen entering his bathroom. The door remained locked from the inside and there was no sign of forced entry or exit. He would never be seen again until his remains were found on Object 212, during the Starsurfer disaster.
As more research concluded on the island, the human population spiraled into chaos. Some questioned the fabric of the Earth’s nation’s prosperous unification as the discovery of Object 212 rebirthed tribalism last seen before the Third World War. Cults sprang up in various fashions, worshipping the throne and condemning it. Humankind hung at the brink of decadent madness, sharing similar dreams of infinite oceans and endless corridors. Moreover, disappearances and unexplained happenings in seemingly remote parts of the world further turned the populace against itself. To reunite the world, in 2330, the high council of Earth voted to begin building spacecrafts to reach the heliocentric coordinates left to us by the North Sentinelese. What spurred them was the idea that if they could plant their foot on it, it would no longer hold such power over mankind. A new space race occurred that successfully brought humankind together again, and on the 14th of January 2340, the RRS Starsurfer departed from Triton’s launch base towards the edges of the solar system, in search of a sick horror dwelling in a blackened ocean of nothingness.
“Beneath the silent hum of empty space, I can hear the screams that follow the cosmic abominations interloping in our reality. We should have stayed on our little rock.” – The final message relayed by Admiral Arthur Lee from the RRS Starsurfer, (2344).
Says Isaac: I’ve been writing for four years now, going through university, and excited to get my stories out into the world. I like writing about the strange happenings in our minds. God knows I have a lot of them to write about, and I think what interests me the most is how humans create fears and act on them as though they were real.
The house sat in darkness. No external lights, no cameras. No alarm system. It was almost too perfect, it almost felt like a trap. It could be, but he was desperate. He had a debt to pay and he didn’t want his legs broken.
The back door opened easily. His flashlight showed a reasonably well kept interior, with a good chance of him finding something of value. He saw some nice antique silver in a display cabinet.
“Can’t believe they left this place without any security.”
There was a slight growl from behind him. The home security had been activated.
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.
Tim’s hands shook uncontrollably as he sat down at the table. He had woken up five minutes before, slightly hungry, and stumbled downstairs. Despite his burning fever and shaking hands, he’d poured a bowl of bland cereal.
Now, he could barely hold the spoon. Trembling, he lifted rice puffs to his mouth. They tasted terrible, but then he accidentally bit the inside of his cheek and it tasted delicious. Some part of his mind thought so, and then his mind slipped away and something else took its place.
When the people in hazmat suits crashed inside, Tim growled and charged.
Paul Latham is a writer in Tennessee. He enjoys reading and writing short fiction and poetry. Previous publications include two pieces in The Flame Tree Fiction Newsletter and the story “A Bad Day at Sea” in the Maelstroms anthology from Shacklebound Books. Find him on Twitter @Plamhat
Follow the Recipe
‘Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble,” chanted Lizzie. She added wood to the fire and tossed in another eye of newt and a fistful of frog’s toes for good measure. She pricked her thumbs with needle-sharp thorns and dripped blood into the fire.
The smoke billowed and took the form of a monstrous demon. The creature spit four frog toes at Lizzie. “One toe! The recipe says one toe. You wanted something wicked, you got it.”
The creature ripped off Lizzie’s head and let her bleed into the pot. “Blood. It needs more blood for balance.”
Robert Allen Lupton
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. Over 180 of his short stories have been published in various anthologies. More than 1600 drabbles based on the worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs and several articles are available online at www.erbzine.com. His novel, Foxborn, was published in April 2017 and the sequel, Dragonborn, in June 2018. His third novel, Dejanna of the Double Starwas published in the fall of 2019 as was his anthology, Feral, It Takes a Forest. He co-edited the Three Cousins Anthology, Are You A Robot? in 2022. He has five short story collections, Running Into Trouble, Through A Wine Glass Darkly, Strong Spirits, Hello Darkness,and The Marvin Chronicles. Visit his Amazon author’s page for current information about his stories and books. Like or follow him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or visit his website.
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Lauren is a writer with various hats – journalist, copywriter, content marketer, fiction – and considers herself a storyteller at heart. She writes gothic and folk horror and is currently working on a novel set in the world of the Victorian occult. It’s the supernatural and the occult that really give her goosebumps, and a good ghost story or vampire tale with a rising sense of dread will always pique her interest (and yes, Midnight Mass hit many of her buttons). She also has a developing fascination with folklore, the old ways and our fast-changing relationship with the natural world; this sneaks into her writing, too.
In The Real World, Lauren has more than 20 years’ experience as a professional content creator. She’s established and led global content teams and editorial strategies, including setting up content newsrooms for some of the world’s biggest brands. She was a music editor for a daily newspaper in her native Australia (a good gig and the beach remain her happy places), though she’s been London-based for 16 years and works as an editor, proofreader, marketer, and writing coach. She’s also a mental health advocate; her Substack, How to Be Self(ish), tracked her year of sabbatical and self-care, and she continues to write it irregularly as a mental health companion.
You’ll find Lauren haunting south London, where she lives with her Doctor Who-obsessed husband and their aged black house rabbit. You’ll also likely find her hosting Writers Hour sessions for the London Writers Salon a few times a week.