Trembling With Fear 29/12/19

The days are getting slowly getting longer and we are almost into the New Year. I hope you all had a restful and enjoyable Christmas. I have been able to spend time with my three children who will all be leaving again soon as they off back to uni – even the one who lived at home while studying is moving out. What did I do?! 😊 I’ve also been able to catch up on writing and reading plans and to think back over the year.

Whilst I might have muttered at times, whether here or twitter or FB, about the difficulties of life, I am perfectly aware that some of you have faced far greater struggles than I could ever envisage. One of these is a writer who recently reconnected with me, Steven Deighan. I remember reading a book of his, Bethany Chiller, about a year or so ago and then all went a little quiet. When he contacted me again a couple weeks back with a sub for TWF, he mentioned he was 8 months into recovering from a heart transplant operation. To go through something as scary as that, to continue writing and be so upbeat about the future is truly humbling. Please show him some love and support and check out his latest ebook, a collection of short stories, called Submit Horror, available on amazon.

Whilst responding to emails at TWF, I was also sent a link to Aphelion webzine which has a great poem in it from TWF contributor Will Blackwell and I’m sure you will recognise David Berger’s name on the cover as well (a sharp piece of flash from David as always).

Over to Trembling With Fear where the first story is A New Bride for Kim Jong-un by JJ Munro. I’m sure when people read this they might wish it be true, a proper come-uppance for so much suffering caused. Touchingly written, gentle in tone, powerful in its message and the horror of what has been done in the name of Kim Jong-un.

The App by Lionel Ray Green. There is an app for everything these days and this one might get some takers!

Scene from a Slasher: Self Doubt from a Rapid Sprinter by Steven Holding uses sentence length and structure to pace the drabble so that it feels as if the story itself is running, catching its breath.

Fears by Sean O’Connor shows exactly where listening to an encouraging voice is going to lead you. What would you do for someone you trust? Using a strong emotion such as trust for the basis of a story is a good way to reel someone in and then pull the rug from under them.


Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

We’ve entered the final week of the year.

How crazy is that? 3 ENTIRE YEARS of Trembling With Fear is coming to a close with stories already scheduled into a 4th.

It seems, so crazy!

I hope you were all able to have a great Christmas and are going to end this year and start the next strong on your writing.

As always, we’re open to more fiction and drabble at this time and may have a few ideas of switching things up in the coming year if we track down a few more helpers for the site. We’ll see how that goes!

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

A Bride for Kim Jong-un by J J Munro

Her skin had mostly peeled from her arms, exposing raw bone and discolored sinew.  Fingers forever clamped in a claw refused to obey her brain. Her legs struggled to walk.  She stumbled into the bog, sank into the thirsty mud, the soldiers watching, their duty to ensure that any villager dying of ghost disease would disappear into the swamp for eternity.

Death was silent on that inky Korean headland where they tested nuclear weapons.  It was a place that harbored dangerous secrets. Mee-kyong had always been told to keep away.  She did. But, in time, the invisible menace came to find her.  

One day she could not stop vomiting blood.  Her young skin blistered. Blood trickled from her nose, ulcers claimed her mouth.  She took to her bed, too weak to walk let alone work in the field. Her lustrous hair fell away like dead leaves.  When at last the soldiers rounded up the victims of ghost disease they had promised them a trip to the hospital. But there was no hospital, not out here.  Just death in the bog.

Buried in the ooze. 

Frozen where she fell.  

Her final breath like a feather on the snow.

There was no cure for ghost disease, as villagers like Mee-kyong called it.  They did not know it was radiation sickness, and that it afflicted thousands of Koreans living near the nuclear test sites.  

A white light dazzled her.  She looked through it into a kindly face.  The man said, “I am a messenger of the Chosun Dynasty.  The Chosun emperors ruled Korea for five centuries. Under them, the people had peace, prosperity, literature, and great inventions.  The Chosun rulers cannot abide what has happened to their country and the suffering of its people. That is why they sent me, Mee-kyong.”

“Am I not dead?” she asked.  

“You are, but if you agree to help me, I can promise you peace.  There will be no more suffering, no more soldiers.”

“I am grateful.”

“Gratitude is not what I seek.  You have been grateful all your life, my dear.  Grateful to the regime for its small mercies. Now it is time for you to take action.”

“I do not understand you.  When you talk about the regime, I am fearful.”

“Mee-kyong, listen.  I speak on behalf of the Chosun rulers.  Now it is time for you to repay the Young Leader for all the trouble he has brought to people like you.”

Even in death, her fear was undiminished.  “I cannot speak of such things.”

“Yes, you can.  Kim Jong-un caused your sickness with his weapons.  You shall have your beauty returned, but the ghost sickness however cannot be cured.  But that is part of our plan. You shall use Kim Jong-un’s weapons against him. They contaminated you; you will contaminate him.  You shall be the instrument of revenge.”

“I still do not understand.”

“If you trust me, you shall be the one to achieve what no other young woman has ever done for her country.  You will set it free. Can we rely on you?” 

“Yes …”


Mee-kyong saw the white light vanish.  She was alone again, in death, though no longer in that fearful marsh.  She was suddenly wheeling her bicycle along a fine boulevard. New buildings loomed everywhere.  She paused to inspect her reflection in the glass doors of one such tower.

She cried out in shock.  She was sixteen again, a beautiful girl, her skin flawless, her cheekbones imperious, her eyes those of a young empress.  

A man stood behind her.

“Girl, where are you going?”

She spun around.  Saw the man with the bleak eyes, clad in military uniform.  

Before she could answer the man said, “Girl, come with me.  My young master would like to meet you. He seeks a new bride but his tastes are yet to be satisfied.  His power is total and you must obey me.”

The man gripped her elbow and ushered her into a black limousine, her bicycle discarded in the doorway.  The mighty car swept through the streets and into the gates of what looked like a palace.  

She was brought into the presence of a young man.  She recognized his face at once. Had it not been plastered everywhere in her school and village?  The leader of her nation, the young master who controlled all lives and minds in his kingdom, stood before her.  The young man whose aspirations had created the ghost sickness.  

Now it was his turn to experience it. 

She understood her destiny.  Tears streaked her cheeks as the eager young master pulled her into his arms.  “Oh yes,” she thought, “hold me—hold me—hold me—”

J J Munro 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  

The App

“He’s by far the best-looking one,” Samantha said.

“I know, but I like him better,” replied Tonya, swiping back on her smartphone screen to a dark-haired man in his 30s with a jagged three-inch scar on his right cheek. “I think I’d rather have experience over looks this time, and he looks like he’s been around the block a few times.”

“You’re sure this app is completely safe and secure?” Samantha asked. “All these guys are vetted?”

“As sure as I can be,” Tonya said. “Apps are a risky business, especially when you’re looking for someone to kill your husband.”

Lionel Ray Green

Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. His short stories have appeared in the anthologies Alabama’s Emerging Writers, The Heart of a Devil, Fifty Flashes, How Beer Saved the World 2, Graveyard, Frightening, Tales from the Grave, In Creeps the Night, and 22 More Quick Shivers. His short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition All Hallows’ Prose and his short story “A Tale of Two Shards” was third runner-up in the WriterWriter 2018 International Fantasy Competition Phoenix Rising. His work has also appeared in The Poet’s Haven Digest anthology It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, in Issue 1 of Cross+Decay magazine, and in the 2017 issue of From the Depths magazine as well as in Trembling With Fear, an online feature of the Horror Tree website.


Scene from a Slasher: Self Doubt of the Rapid Sprinter

One foot thrust in front of the other. Chest tightens, heart thunders, each snatched breath shorter than its sibling.  

All that matters in this moment is momentum. 

Crashing through foliage, branches cling to skin like eager fingers. 

In the clammy darkness, all sense of self disappears; a flash of Déjà vu and confident thought is replaced with sudden uncertainty.

Is this a race or is this a chase? 

Who is the pursued and who is the pursuer?

Dare to pause and the prey gets away. A sudden halt and maybe you’re caught.

The only choice: to keep on running.


Steven Holding

Steven Holding lives with his family in Northamptonshire in the UK. He currently has stories featured in Trembling with Fear Volume Two, Splash of Ink and the anthologies Monsters and Beyond published by Black Hare Press. He is working upon further short fiction and a novel. You can follow his work at



Am I afraid of flying? 

   Heck no, not normally, anyway. 

   But my girlfriend was egging me on, telling me to walk off that 

   cliff, that the wings would catch in the wind and I would be fine,

   that the hang glider would take to the air and I’d sail 

   up towards the heavens, up towards the angels. 

   So I skimmed, and staggered, and allowed my feet to leave the ground 

   and up…up…up…I went into the air 

   but…she was laughing now, laughing, pointing and I saw ahead… 

   the aeroplane, but it was too late, and she was laughing and…

Sean O'Connor

Sean O’Connor is working on becoming a horror fiction writer, and has found some success in the past with short listings and small publications. He wishes to understand the world … but how to talk to every single human alive …?

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