Trembling With Fear 4-21-24

Greetings, children of the dark. Sad to say our April short story submissions window is now closed, and I thought I’d bring you a very real statistic to show why we moved our submissions process to this strange quarterly beast. 

The statistic is this: in that 2-week window, we got more than 50 submissions.

Yes, 50 stories. Each of you should have now received an email to acknowledge your story is in the system, but if you haven’t and were expecting one, please do get in touch. We are very old-school here at TWF Towers and there is no automated email immediately going back to you to say “hey, we got it!”—it does take an actual human (i.e. me!) to go into the inbox and fish them out, catalogue them, and put them into our system—but I’ve now moved every submission into the next step of the process. From here, Stuart, Shalini and I get to reading, reviewing, analysing, arguing, and finding those stories that we’d like to accept. Of course, with 50+ stories for essentially about 12 spots, we’re going to have to be very critical and maybe let go of something that would’ve made it once upon a time. For that, I’m sorry.

Before the move to a staggered submissions process, we would be getting around the same number of submissions every single month. And there are just a handful of us, all volunteers, trying to make our way through those submissions. And we can only publish one short story a week, alongside our three drabbles. (If you want us to be able to afford more, get to supporting us on Patreon!)

If we didn’t try to limit the opportunity to submit, we would currently be scheduling stories several years in advance—and no one wants to wait a decade to see their story in digital print! (And yes, we still haven’t made our way through all of the stories from the last window, and there’s actually a handful of stories I need to edit and send back to writers who submitted in the last half of 2023. Life, sorry, etc.)

This process is to protect our writers from frustration as much as it is to protect our tiny team from burnout. We do, of course, have many other opportunities within the Horror Tree ecosystem to flex your creative muscles and submit your works. Your story might fit one of the many open calls we list on this site—the very reason for our being!—or maybe you’d like to write for a special themed edition or submit a story for serialisation. We also have our short sharp speculations, aka the drabbles, of which we publish three every single week! Maybe try your hand at some teeny tiny stories, or stringing three of those together on a theme to tell a longer story as an unholy trinity

Anyways, this week’s TWF menu. Our main course is a silent one, and it comes from the dark mind of Mitchell Strickland Jr—and it’s so great to put a strong disabled protagonist on these pages. That story is followed by the short, sharp speculations of:

  • SG Perahim’s monsters under the bed 
  • Santiago Eximeno’s stranded mermaid, and
  • RJ Meldrum’s renovation surprise.

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!

Last week, I was busy with my youngest being home all week sick; this week, it’s been my oldest. (I swear… if I’m sick next week…) So. I’ve been doing a lot of prep work. There’s not much to show off quite yet, but there is more progress on Shadowed Realms, which is long overdue, and we are starting to hone in on our new layout as well as starting to plan for our next physical release. On the upside, we have a few new contributors interested in helping out on the site, which is exciting news! 

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

Mitchell Strickland Jr.

Mitchell Strickland Jr. was born and raised in Connecticut. He started writing during Covid as a hobby and is always looking to improve. A lover of all things horror, what interests him the most is the unknown and that is often reflected in his stories.

A Silent Night, by Mitchell Strickland Jr.

Tossing and turning, I finally reached a point where the dryness of my throat beat out my will to stay asleep. As I forced myself up to get a glass of water I saw that it was only 3:20am; that was great news to me since it meant I still had a good amount of sleep left before I had to officially get up. I started making my way to the kitchen, making sure all the lights remained off to keep myself in a daze still, but even in the dark I noticed that both my sister’s and parents’ doors were left wide open. Continuing down the hall I peered inside each room only to find them empty. This was strange—but even stranger, around the corner the front door was also left open.

Now fully awake and confused I made my way back to my room. Before seeing if my family were outside, I had to get my hearing aid first. After I closed the battery drawer and inserted the device into my ear, I began hearing a low, unfamiliar humming noise. I shrugged it off and made my way to the front door, rushing a bit as my mind started to run wild. As soon as I left through the door my hearing aid started to make a screeching noise that stopped me in my tracks, made me recoil from the sound. And then I saw that all of my neighbors were standing outside. In a hurry but unable to sustain the pain of the screeching, I took my aid off and placed it on the table next to the door then headed outside. I’d have to rely on lip-reading tonight.

See, we live in a quiet cul-de-sac. There is a light at the entrance to our street which doesn’t reach this far at night—a challenge generally fixed by the lights on our garages and doorsteps. Tonight, the entire street was void of any light; the moon being covered by clouds didn’t really do our street any favors. In the dark I could still make out people standing around—I could only assume it was our neighbors since I could also see their front doors had been left open like in our house. I approached some of my neighbors and tried asking if anyone had seen my family. I knew it would be too dark to read lips, but I hoped that someone would point me in the right direction. I couldn’t seem to get anyone’s attention, almost like they were ignoring me. I noticed that everyone seemed to be fixated on the sky, but when I looked there was nothing to be seen besides a few clouds and the moon trying to make an appearance.

I started to grow more concerned as I stumbled around, but then I saw my sister Lisa, staring off into the sky just like everyone else. I tried getting her attention by shaking her and forcibly getting her to look at me, to no avail. I scanned the area looking for our parents, but they were not within sight. Suddenly a flash of green illuminated the sky, the sudden shift from dark to bright was blinding, but I seemed to be the only one reacting. After taking a moment to adjust, I looked up towards the sky to find the light’s source—but could only tell that it came from behind the clouds. I turned to face Lisa and saw that she had tears in her eyes. For the first time tonight someone acknowledged my presence, she looked at me and spoke. I read from her lips: “It’s such a beautiful sound.” Then she was gone.

Pulled from my sight in an instant; if I blinked then I would have missed it. She was lifted into the sky, accelerating upwards with no sign of slowing down. My eyes were only focused on her, but my peripherals were soon filled with the bodies of my neighbors, joining her towards the lasting green beyond the clouds. Then like a switch the night sky returned to its peaceful state, and I was left in the dark, alone.

Vantage Point

“Mum! They’re back!” 

Mum shrugs and sighs but obeys the urgency in her daughter’s shrill voice. The tiny messy room feels stuffy. Something smells damp. Did she leave wet clothes lying around again? 

“Still under the bed?” 

Her daughter nods. Wrapped in a blanket. Mute totem huddled on her rainbow-coloured bed. Mum kneels down. You’ve got to play the part. Three Lego blocks and a dusty doll stare back at her. She calls softly:

“Monsters… Monsters? They’re not here, Darling.”

“They are. But you can’t see them.”


“Because they’re behind you now,” she whispers, as the damp smell thickens.

SG Perahim

Stéphane G. Perahim is a middle-aged French lady who lives in Belgium and teaches English for a living. When she’s not surrounded by her young, charming yet snotty students, she writes detective novels and short stories, plays with rather lifelike and creepy dolls, runs half-marathons or works on improving her nascent skills at capoeira. Find her on Instagram @Nefisaperahim.


You remember her disconsolate look, the whisper of her voice in your ear when you found her stranded among the rocks at the foot of the cliff. You remember the wetness of her arms around your neck as you carried her to the house. You contemplated her chimerical beauty as you filled the bathtub in which you left her. Moreover, you waited by her side until she died.

You look out to sea, aware that your wife will be back soon, with the children.

You will have to do something about that rotten fish smell that permeates the whole house.

Santiago Eximeno

Santiago Eximeno (Madrid, Spain, 1973) is a Spanish genre writer who has published several novellas and collections, mainly horror literature. His work has been translated to English, Japanese, French or Bulgarian. His last book published in English is Umbria (Independent Legions Publishing, 2020). You can find him at


Dave remembered the trend from when he was a teenager. Wall up a plastic skeleton behind drywall to scare future owners when they renovated.

So when he removed the first section of drywall from the basement, he felt no surprise or fear. Instead he sighed. The skull staring at him reminded him of that silly trick. He knew the house had been last renovated in 2020, at the peak of the trend. Pretty realistic, he thought. Fake flesh and skin hung loosely from the stained jaw. He stared more closely. Very realistic…then it hit him; it was more than realistic.

RJ Meldrum

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.

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