Trembling With Fear 3-10-24

Greetings, children of the dark. This week, I’ve mainly been pondering my life and trying not to make it morose or morbid. On Tuesday, I was honoured to be asked to speak to a university MA class about being a jobbing writer, which had me reflecting on an almost-30 year career across two continents and way too many different companies. And then on Wednesday, the All Creatives Now podcast released its recent interview with me where I spoke about something very similar. I’m not used to all of this attention. It’s a bit odd, to be honest.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but this sort of reflection doesn’t tend to make me celebrate the wins—it’s more likely to make me lament the losses. And as I stood there, telling this university class about how I dreamed of being an author but was directed towards journalism so I could make a living, I started wondering about what might have been. What if I’d ignored the advice and stuck to my young guns? What if I’d tried, right out of school, to write books? And the truth is that I know I would’ve sucked. I had no life experience. I hadn’t lived. I had nothing to say: I came from a somewhat middle class suburban background, and hadn’t really fought for anything yet. Now, sitting in a different country and comfortably in my mid-40s, I feel more able to do it. I have learned a lot in 30 years of wandering the world of writing, and picked up a few tricks along the way. 

But I also need to work harder on recognising those wins. I need to recognise that I have things to teach, things to offer. That I’m not a bunch of tightly compartmentalised options; I am a singular, whole being with all the good and bad that entails. So, children of the dark, any advice on how I do that? 🤣

Enough of the therapy; let’s get to the point. (BTW, did you know I’m a coach and mentor to writers as well? Little plug there!)

This week’s TWF menu is kicked off by a not-very-nice character being not-very-nice—and it is delightful. It’s one for the geocachers out there, and it’s by Sabrina Fisher. That story is followed by the short, sharp speculations of:

  • Ariya Bandy’s dancing queen, 
  • FM Scott’s musical mindbender, and 
  • Don Money’s haunted hoodlum.

And finally, a shout-out to the lovely Nicole Eigener and Beverley Lee, a West Coast/UK duo who last week launched a book they co-wrote across the Pacific. A Conclave of Crimson combines both writers’ individual book worlds, and is an unapologetically queer vampire love story. It’s available now from here. Nicole and Beverley were guest speakers at my Writing the Occult: Vampires event back in October, and I’m so excited to see their combined work finally released to the wild.

Oh, and speaking of my Writing the Occult events, we’ve announced the speaker list for the next one. Our look at the fae on 6 April will not only consider the fairy in literature and lore, the dark side of fairy folklore, and, of course, the changeling, as well as hearing from Gabriela Houston how to take inspiration from folkloric creatures for your fiction, but we’ll also take a tour around the world to find out how the concept of the fae is manifest in cultures including Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, the Philippines, China, Iceland, Latinx, Greece, and South Asia. Event details are here, tickets are now on sale from Eventbrite, and I’d love to see you there.

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

We have a new site sponsor for the month, so if you’re looking to pick up a new book, I highly suggest The Dark Man by Referral and Less Pleasant Tales by Chuck McKenzie! Made a bit more progress on Shadowed Realms and we’re about to pass it off to who is putting it together for us, so more on that soon as well. Sorry for the lack of YouTube videos this week. Belinda was on vacation and while I had meant to put one together… It just didn’t happen. 
Don’t forget – Trembling With Fear Volume 6 is out in the world, and if you’ve picked up a copy, we’d love a review! Next year, we may be looking to expand past just the Amazon platform. If we do that, what stores would you like to purchase your books from?

ATTENTION YOUTUBE WATCHERS: We’ve had some great responses so far but are open to more ideas – What type of content would you like to see us feature? Please reach out to [email protected]! We’ll be really working on expanding the channel late this year and early into next.

For those who are looking to connect with Horror Tree on places that aren’t Twitter, we’re also in BlueSky and Threads. *I* am also now on BlueSky and Threads.

If you’d like to extend your support to the site, we’d be thrilled to welcome your contributions through Ko-Fi or Patreon. Your generosity keeps us fueled and fired up to bring you the very best.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Sabrina Fisher

Sabrina Fisher, a novelist for the horror and thriller fanatics, is currently pursuing a BFA in creative writing at Full Sail University. She is a member of Full Sail’s Creative Writing Club and is proud to be part of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. In her downtime, she enjoys horror movies and playing laser tag with her two dogs and two cats.
X: @Terr0rTeller

Dine, Dash, Devil’s Cache, by Sabrina Fisher

“Five dollars for seventeen miles, are you kidding me?!” Rhett scoffs as he swipes the notification away, declining the order for Pizza Bros, and taking a hearty bite out of his heart-attack burger from his favorite eatery, Sloppy Joe’s. He taps on his phone screen to switch between the Dasher App and ‘Treasure Hunter’, his favorite geocaching app.

As the app loads, street lines appear dotted with various emoticons. Most of the emoticons are gold stars, a sign of his victory and found caches. Colors show off the level of difficulty for the remaining treasures, green question marks for easy finds, yellow smiley faces for a little bit of a challenge, and red exclamation marks for ones that are deemed ‘difficult’.

“Wait a second, what’s this?” Rhett notices an icon he has never seen before: a skull. As he zooms in, the skull travels further away from the other icons and recognizable street names, until finally, it stays still in a building on the west side of town in the old industry park. 

Rhett double-clicked on the skull to pull up the details and in the middle of the screen was a large, red zero.

“Oh man, I’m going to be the first person to find this!” Rhett sits up straight and toggles his smartphone back to his dashing app. He taps the ‘End Dash’ button before switching the radio on and throwing on his aviator shades. Shifting his lifted truck into drive and peeling out of the handicap stall he had been illegally occupying, Rhett merges into traffic and quickly cuts off a white minivan to take a hard left heading west.

Weaving in and out of traffic, Rhett makes record time to the outskirts of town. Large warehouses pepper both sides of the street. Long-forgotten relics of a time before robots and automated systems. Glancing over at the phone screen shows the skull icon should be—“Here,” Rhett lets out a breath as his truck comes to a stop.

Hopping down from his truck, he rounds the fender and stops to take in the building in front of him. The warehouse is crumbling, the roof partially caved in, and the bricks that remain show blackened edges. Rhett hesitates; the entryways are boarded up, the roof is clearly unstable, and no one knows he is out here. The last thought brought a smile to his lips as he looked at his phone and the large red zero once more. Rhett grabs a crowbar from his truck bed and makes short work of two sheets of plywood blocking the doorway. In under a minute, he steps over the threshold.

The boarded windows and a setting sun leave the warehouse in almost inky darkness. Rhett clicks on his flashlight and opens his Hunter app. Now that he has arrived the icon changes. The last Hunter update introduced a hot and cold feature which shows to be quite useful as he navigates the desolate open rooms of the warehouse.

“Cold, cold, cold,” Rhett mutters with annoyance dripping from his voice. HOT. The screen of his app changes from light frosty blue to a fiery red. He moves his phone up to illuminate a set of stairs descending in front of him. 

A scream echoes from below. Rhett stops dead in his tracks. Listening. Waiting. But he is met with silence; the only noise is his shallow quick breath. He lets out a laugh as he realizes it was probably the stairs he had just stepped on. Without another thought, he continues down into the unknown abyss.

Dirt. The soft squish under his sneakers throws Rhett for a surprise as he notices the floor and walls are packed dirt. “This is definitely not up to code,” Rhett mutters as he starts down the path ahead of him. The stale smell of earth and something strangely familiar and tangy fills his nostrils. Twists and turns have him disoriented to the point he almost swears he is walking downhill. 

Casting a glance at his Hunter app, the screen flashes HOT with flames flickering in the background. The smile on his face vanishes as he lets out a groan, “Piece of shit phone. There is no way I have only been down here for five minutes. Screw this trolling cache crap.” Rhett growls as he notices the time in the corner.

Rhett turns on his heels and starts back the way he came, but it still feels like he is going down. He stops and strains his eyes, first to look the way he was going and then to look the way he had come, biting his lip and looking for any hint he was going the right way. His phone is frozen, and the time on the top still shows 7:06. The only option to get his phone to stop glitching would be to restart it. Hopefully, then he can get the hell out of here. 

Rhett stares at the power down button before pressing it and plunging himself into darkness. Seconds pass and he presses the side button, ready to power up again. The phone does nothing.


Rhett whips around to look towards the new sound but can see nothing but darkness. He turns again and takes off running, frantically pressing the power-up button on his phone. Behind him he can hear footsteps echoing, gaining on him. The sound is almost as if there was a herd of horses galloping through the narrow passageway. The hairs on the back of his neck stand up as he imagines fingertips brushing against his nape. His phone screen flashes and powers on. He pushes himself to run faster. Looking down, he sees the Hunter app has loaded instead of his usual start-up screen. For a second, his brows furrow beneath the sweat.

Before he knows what is happening, his feet are pulled out from underneath him, causing him to bellyflop the earth with a hard uumph. Rhett struggles to catch his breath, leaving him unable to scream as he is pulled back the way he came. Left where he fell, his Hunter app updates and the big, red zero turns into a one before the screen goes black.

Not Much of a Dancer

“Really, I’d rather not dance,” I shout over the music.

“Come on! Your senior prom is only going to happen once!”

“Yeah! What’s the fun in just standing there!” They still hit every beat while calling me to the dance floor. It’s only a few inches beyond the edges of my toes, but riding a broken rollercoaster would be less nerve-wracking than this.

“Fine. I’ll join for one song. One.” I hold my gown out of the way with sweaty palms and step onto the floor as the music fills my body.


Welcome to our hive consciousness, a true family.

Ariya Bandy

Ariya Bandy is a writer of fiction and poetry who loves to surround herself with many types of literature. Painted Winds, her debut poetry chapbook, is out from Bottlecap Press. Her work appears in Iceblink Literary Magazine, Querencia Autumn 2023, and elsewhere.


The song ends but it plays on anyway—notes and changes and turns, just as they always do.

Notes changes turns notes changes turns, and louder. But you have stopped moving. You try but you can’t.  

No one is there to tell you it’s night now. A new voice sounds over the tune: “Sweet little jam, isn’t it?”

You want to clutch your head but you can’t. You’re there but you aren’t. From across the room you try to scream. You watch yourself convulse as one ear dribbles pink, wet tissue ahead of jagged teeth ripping their way through it.

F.M. Scott

F.M. Scott is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He recently retired, winding up his day career in nonprofit mental health services. He now devotes all his writing efforts to horror. His novelette, “The Child of Hyacinth Road”, appeared in The Horror Tree in 2020, and was collected in Trembling with Fear: Serial Killers, Volume 2. His stories have appeared in Apple in the Dark, The Horror Tree, The Killer Collection Anthology (Nick Botic Horror), Sirius Science Fiction, The Tulsa Voice, and The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine.


I see her hovering there in the background of every bad decision I’ve made since she died. I’ve seen her too much lately. That is a thought I never would’ve believed possible when she was alive.

Ghosts were not something I believed in before the first time I saw Mom hovering behind the man I held the gun on. When I pulled the trigger she shook her head dejectedly. 

I’m scared by the look she gives, but I am more afraid of losing this empire I have built. I can’t change my ways. I’ll learn to live with the disappointment.

Don Money

Don Money writes stories across a variety of genres. He is a middle school literacy teacher. His short stories have been published in multiple anthologies including with Trembling With Fear, Shacklebound Books, Black Hare Press, Wicked Shadow Press and in Troopers, Martian, Stupefying Stories, and Stygian Lepus magazines. Don can be found on Twitter @donmoneywriting

You may also like...