Trembling With Fear 3-24-24

Greetings, children of the dark. How goes your new season? Yep, we just celebrated the spring equinox here in the northern hemisphere, and as much as I love the dark stuff, I’m really looking forward to longer days and less need for jumpers. I grew up in Australia, after all; I just can’t get my head around layering and dressing to constantly be adding and removing warm bits!

More important than my need for sun, though: today marks the last day of Neurodiversity Celebration Week. It’s a worldwide initiative that “challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences”, aiming to transform how neurodivergence is seen within the organisations that rule our lives (work, school, daily life), to recognise the “many talents and advantages of being neurodivergent”, and to help create “more inclusive and equitable cultures that celebrate differences and empower every individual”. At least, that’s the deal according to the official blurb on its website

Why bring this to TWF on the last day of the week? Well, because neurodivergence awareness shouldn’t be confined to a single week. Because we should all be better at inclusivity across the board. Because in the last 12 months I’ve been diagnosed as a high-functioning ADHDer with strong autistic traits, including sensory processing disorder and dyspraxia, and I’m still figuring out what that means for me while also trying not to beat myself up for not knowing sooner. (Heck, they just didn’t diagnose girls in the 80s when I was in primary school!) And, importantly, because we in the genre fiction community are surrounded by neurodiversity. There’s something about fantasy, horror and science fiction that resonates with the different, the traditionally ‘othered’ of society. And I really, really love that about our community. And I want to celebrate it every day. 

So let’s take a moment to raise a glass, our fists-of-triumph, our hugging arms, and celebrate the neurodiverse writers and readers of the genre fiction community. Go forth and seek them out, or share your own stories, and let’s do what we do best: support each other. For example, in my other life as publicity and marketing officer at the British Fantasy Society, I published a few pieces this week from member writers sharing their stories, like this one from E.M. Faulds on late-diagnosed ADHD, and this searingly honest one from David Green about autism and writing and the way a lack of understanding can really hit hard. I am so proud of them for sharing their stories in such an open and vulnerable way. Head over and check out their blogs, then check out their works as well because both are fabulous humans. Here’s to the neurodiverse writers and readers of speculative fiction: We are many, and we are awesome. 

But enough of that. Let’s get to the reason we’re here (as important and, I’m sure, as much as you love my weekly ramblings!).

This week’s TWF menu centres around regular contributor DJ Tyrer’s adventures with mirrors. That story is followed by the short, sharp speculations of:

  • Cassandra Daucus’s supernatural helper, 
  • Paul Fletcher’s warning to runners, and 
  • Alan Moskowitz’s vampiric pursuits.

To finish, two quick event plugs. Writing the Occult: The Fae is coming up on 6 April, with a whole globe full of amazing speakers. Never fear if you can’t make the whole day—it IS long—because we’ll record it all, but only for ticket holders. Early bird price ticket prices end (I think!) today! After that, the price will rise to £40+bf, with sales ending the day before the event. Tickets here. (Yes, I’ll probably plug this every week until the event.)

Also: I’ve roped Stuart into being on a panel at the next British Fantasy Society online event day. The whole day is about “the book journey”—all those things besides the writing!—and I’ll be moderating the panel on marketing with the boss man, Jenn Hanson-dePaula from Mixtus Media, and indie writers and promo machines Beverley Lee and Nicole Eigener (aka Nicoverley). It’s free for BFS members, and just £5 for everyone else, plus it will also be recorded if you can’t make any/all of it live. Details are over here.

OK, enough from me. Before the stories come, as ever, it’s 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!
We made some changes in the past week, which hopefully have had ads decreased a bit on the site and made everything a bit more readable. We’re still fine-tuning it, but it should be much more readable now. Fingers crossed. On top of this, we’ve made some progress on Shadowed Realms. We’re in our final area of formatting, and fingers crossed, we will soon be able to release it to the world! 
And now the regular announcements:
  • 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

DJ Tyrer

DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines around the world, such as Chilling Horror Short Stories (Flame Tree), All The Petty Myths (18th Wall), Steampunk Cthulhu (Chaosium), What Dwells Below (Sirens Call), The Horror Zine’s Book of Ghost Stories (Hellbound Books), and EOM: Equal Opportunity Madness (Otter Libris), and issues of Sirens Call, Occult Detective Magazine, parABnormal, Tales from the Magician’s Skull, and Weirdbook, and in addition, has a novella available in paperback and on the Kindle, The Yellow House (Dunhams Manor). You can follow their work on Facebook, on their blog or on the Atlantean Publishing website.

Ugly, by DJ Tyrer

“My goodness, but it’s ugly,” said Carla as she leaned close to peer at the large gilt mirror.

Joe chuckled and she flashed him a look.

“And, I don’t want you making a comment.”

“Why? Whatever would I say?” He chuckled again, then nodded. “You’re right, though, it is ugly – the frame.”

She slapped his arm and turned away from the mirror with an exaggerated shudder.

“I really don’t know what your aunt saw in it.”

“Her reflection, I guess,” he said. “Sorry, I couldn’t help it. It’s old and so was she, maybe that was the appeal.”

The mirror was full length in height with a heavy gilded frame decorated with grotesque little cherubs and fat vine leaves that, as far as he was concerned, had no aesthetic value.

Joe followed Carla out of the bedroom.

“It’s no wonder,” she told him, as they went downstairs, “that your aunt died of a heart attack, with that horrible thing at the foot of her bed. Can you imagine it with the moonlight reflecting off it and sending shadows about? Ugh!” She shuddered.

“I thought they said it was a stroke.”


“That killed her. A stroke, not a heart attack.”

“Stroke, heart attack, whatever. I’m still not surprised.”

“Well, I hope you can force yourself to survive one night with it,” he said as they entered the kitchen and she flicked the kettle on.

“What do you mean?” She looked at him. Her brow furrowed.

He pulled his phone out and checked the time.

“Well, there’s no way we can drive home tonight, so it’s either the bedroom or we each take an armchair down here.”

“Why can’t we take the spare room?”

“Go give it a sniff. It smells of damp. You’re welcome to sleep there, but I think you’ll find it more off-putting than the mirror.”

“Couldn’t we open a window and air it out?” Carla glanced at the window, which was splattered with sleet. “Or, maybe not. Oh, okay, I’ll risk the mirror. But, and I’m firm on this, there’s no way that mirror’s coming home with us.”

Joe laughed and began to make their coffees.

“Good grief, no. No. All we’re taking is the paperwork and the boxes of mementoes we picked out earlier. Don’t worry – everything else is for the house clearance men.”

“Good. Good.” She glanced at the ceiling. “Well, I guess one night couldn’t hurt, could it?”




Joe felt himself being elbowed awake.

Yer? Dammit, Carla, what is it?” He dragged a pyjama sleeve across his lips. “What?”

“The mirror…”

He would’ve rolled his eyes, if only he could force the lids open.

“The mirror? You’re having a nightmare.”

That earned him a harder blow from her elbow.

“Will you look!” Then, she made a horrible sound that mingled a shriek with nausea.

He pushed himself upright and rubbed furiously at his eyes, kneading the sticky lids. There was a glow from the mirror. Moonlight.

“Just a nightmare,” he mumbled.

Then, as he finally forced his eyes open, he saw there was no light through the curtained window. He glanced at his wife: Carla appeared transfixed in terror.

“What the hell? Carla?”

She didn’t respond, just continued to stare straight ahead at the bright glow.

He looked at the mirror. He didn’t want to – it was as if every fibre of his body were screaming at him not to – but, he just had to. The glass was lit brightly, like he was staring at a television screen. For one moment, his brain tried to tell him that it was a TV, but he could see the frame, the grotesque little cherubs shadowed into gargoyle-like forms upon it.

Something was moving in the glass. Or, behind it. He wasn’t sure. A human figure, thin and gaunt.

There should have been an image reflected in the mirror, of course, that of Carla and him, but only one figure was present. But, yes, it was a mirror image, of sorts. He recognised it. Oh, yes, he recognised it…

The face had become clearly visible and was that of his aunt, twisted as if with fear and pain. Her hands reached out towards them, pressing upon the glass; imploring, perhaps, but more like groping claws.

Somehow, he could see her, in her final days, sitting in this bed, staring into the mirror as her health declined, as she slowly suffered, until…

Somehow, he understood what had happened, even if it made no sense. And, now, it was happening to them…

He had to stop it!

With all the strength he could muster, Joe threw himself out of the bed and towards a low chair. He seized it and swung it.

As he did so, for just a moment, he thought he saw Carla’s face staring out at him in wide-eyed terror from the mirror, then the glass shattered and the light vanished.

It was over.

“Seven years bad luck,” wheezed his aunt’s voice from the bed.

They Just Wanted to Help


I jerk my hand away from the fuse box and clutch it against my chest; the flashlight beam wobbles at the ceiling.

“Jesus, I didn’t hear you there.”

You chuckle from over my shoulder. “Can I help?”

“Yeah, thanks. Take this.”

I pass the flashlight into the dark. You hold it by my ear, humming a familiar tune. I clip in the new fuse and the basement lights flicker yellow. Your hum cuts short, the flashlight clatters to the floor.

I turn around, proud and preening, to face an empty room.

I curse; you’ve returned to your grave.


Cassandra Daucus

Inspired by H. P. Lovecraft, M. R. James, Shirley Jackson, Robert Aickman, and a ton of fan fiction, Cassandra Daucus (she/her) writes soft horror and dark romance. She is intrigued by how the human mind responds to the unknown, and also enjoys a good gross-out. She has stories published and forthcoming in several literary magazines and anthologies. Cassandra lives outside of Philadelphia with her family and three cats. Her social media and website links can be found here

The Thing from the Sign

The road sign was bizarre. The triangulated terror it warned of an abomination. A fabricated image he thought; hoped. Black, horror silhouette on a white background.

He shouldn’t be here; was lost. In a runner’s fugue he pounded oblivious down a forbidden route. Naked running – no phone, no map. Clearly his mistake.

What was that thing anyway? A chimeric creature of the Malebolge, where night fiends dwell and dream wicked.

His chest burned, his legs heavy, shins aflame. He slumped, heaving air, on a track bisecting tenebrific trees.

It came, finally, diddering towards him.

The noisome thing from the sign. 

Paul Fletcher

Paul Fletcher is 46 and works in scientific publishing. Based in Leytonstone, London, he has always been drawn to the peripheries of fiction, where the weird and melancholy exist. Paul has only recently started to commit his own thoughts and stories to the page, unleashing a world full of ferns, fungi and cosmic horror.

Sir Horace Lofting’s Quest

Sir Horace Lofting had grown old in his pursuit of the vampire that had slaughtered thousands. 

He had discovered the first coffin hidden in a rank catacomb. Pushing aside the lid, raising the sharpened stake, he found only native soil.

Painstakingly searching coffins for decades and finding no body drove Lofting mad.

When he opened what would be the last casket, for he felt his heart failing, he found only cursed dirt.

Deploring his failure, Lofting drove the stake into the earth.

A hideous scream shattered the air as the soil merged into the creature, cursing Lofting as it decomposed. 

Alan Moskowitz

Alan loves writing genre drabbles for fun and sanity.

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