Trembling With Fear 6-9-24

Greetings, children of the dark. I’ve got to say, you have blown me away in the last week! We had such a great response to the call-outs for helpers both with TWF and with Horror Tree as a whole and I am feeling the community love right now. But please know this isn’t a once in a lifetime kinda thing; we’re always looking for more helpers, particularly in terms of people to do interviews, write articles and reviews, and generally make Horror Tree the brilliant resource that everyone knows and loves. If you’ve got ideas or want to get involved, email us at [email protected] and let’s chat. Stuart’s especially keen to grow the YouTube channel, so if you’re harbouring secret desires to be a YouTuber/famous content creator, now’s your chance!

For this week’s darkly speculative offerings, our menu’s centrepiece is a creepy thing found in a dark cave created by regular TWF contributor Catherine Berry. That’s followed by the short, sharp speculations of:

  • Corinne Pollard’s hunger issues,
  • Sarah-Beth Watkins’s folkloric dabbling, and
  • Andy Meek’s misplaced curiosity.

Finally, a final plug for my next event which takes place virtually on Saturday. Writing the Occult: Connection to Land has a bumper lineup, no less than 10 sessions featuring some of the best speculative fiction writers around, and it’s all yours both live and recorded for just £40+booking fee (that’s around US$50). If you’ve ever wondered how to make the landscape a driving force in your narrative, if you’re pondering that ecohorror or climate thriller, if you’re wanting to get spiritual about the environment, this is for you—readers, writers, interested parties, all are welcome. Details, etc, over at, or grab your ticket here

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

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Hi all! 

Summer camp has started for my kids and some free time has returned! We recently put out a call for new talent to join Horror Tree and we’ve got quite a few responses! I’ve been spending most of this week talking to everyone and this has the potential to really ramp up some of the changes that have been on the back burner for awhile. 

Now, for the standards:

  • Thank you so much to everyone who has become a Patreon for Horror Tree. We honestly couldn’t make it without you all! 
  • I’ll include this for a second week though, it’ll be out of next week’s: , ‘The Trouble With Time‘. It’s being put together by a regular fiction contributor to Trembling With Fear, and I really wanted to give it a small extra highlight for this speculative fiction anthology that will be dealing with time travel. If you’ve got a story idea that could fit, check it out! 

Offhand, if you’ve ordered Trembling With Fear Volume 6, we’d appreciate a review! 🙂

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Catherine Berry

Catherine Berry loves whimsy, potatoes, and adventures with her dogs. Her work has been published in anthologies such as Trembling With Fear, the Trench Coat Chronicles, & Flights of Fantasy. More of her work can be found at

Bedtime Snack, by Catherine Berry

Nikki was swaying. Arms flopped uselessly above her head, her body felt like lead. She couldn’t quite force her eyelids to part. There was a distressed mumble, muffled, like someone talking through a pillow. Another reedy moan. Her mind felt disconnected from her body; hazy and unsure. The world tilted in the dark. Nikki fell back in a dizzying rush, hitting the ground with a heavy, barely felt, thud.

Focusing all of her energy, she managed to pry her eyes open a crack. It was dim; stray shafts of sun providing just enough light to see in the gloom. She thought it might be a cave. There was some kind of creature, like a distorted, spindly man a few feet away. Mottled skin clung tightly to an emaciated, skeletal body with impossibly long limbs; his fingers stretched into boney claws, clicking in excitement. He hunched over, dropping something onto the ground from his shoulder. It hit with a meaty thunk, limbs splayed, unconscious. It was a woman.

The Spindly Man crouched over her, long viscous strands of saliva sliding down his chin. Nikki’s mind froze in fear. Bile burned in the back of her throat. The woman gave a whimper, starting to come around. The creature leaned down, throat crackling, as she screamed. Nikki watched as the Spindly Man exhaled a cloud of foggy green breath. The woman choked and gasped as the noxious haze caressed her face, body spasming before going suddenly, horribly, still. The Spindly Man tore at his victim’s clothes as he slithered down her body. With a creaking, rattling, sound of delight, his fingers dug into soft flesh.

There was a strange relief and heartbreak as Nikki watched him consume strips of the woman’s skin. It was a small mercy she wasn’t awake to feel it. The air grew coppery as the sounds of the Spindly Man eating got wetter. Throat closed, Nikki tensed, toes curled, hands clenched. That was going to be her fate.


Carefully, she wiggled her toes, tightened and relaxed all her muscles; she was starting to move again! Nikki glanced at her captor. There was no hope for the other person, but maybe there was still a chance for her. Nikki waited, adrenaline rising with each crawling minute, until he was gorging himself. She saw him, dripping, sloppy, and red, hands buried to the wrists in the person’s torso. Slowly, so slowly, Nikki stood up. Holding her breath, eyes fixed on the horrific feasting, she quietly crept away. Rounding a bend in the cave, her speed picked up, feet carrying her faster and faster as she headed towards a growing pinprick of white.

Nikki stumbled into the light, blinded, running full tilt, and didn’t stop. She bounced off trees and people, slipped on wet grass, fell hard, struggled back up. The pain didn’t register until Nikki was leaning against a cool marble statue, chest burning with every desperate gulp of air. Her body throbbed in time with her thundering heart. Scraped palms stung, tired limbs burned, her ribs felt close to collapse.

The sound of kids laughing and shouting broke through her panic, and Nikki realized she’d been running through a park. There must have been some hidden tunnels that the Spindly Man used for his victims. Her heart lurched like a jackrabbit. Did that mean there were other entrances? Had he noticed she was gone? Was he coming for her? Nikki looked around, desperate for help, terror rising. The bus! It was headed towards a stop on the street. She raced through the park, heedless of people shouting as she trampled a picnic, and tripped over a dog. The bus was almost at the park entrance. A little further, then she’d be free. The air left her lungs in a sigh of relief as the bus doors jangled open. Almost there. Only a few people ahead of her in line. As she reached the park’s metal gates Nikki felt a rush of tears. She was safe!


Eyes fluttered open. Nikki stared up at the dark ceiling of the cave. Tears pooled in her ears. Her limbs were unresponsive. A shivering sob rattled in her chest. It wasn’t fair! Her hips jerked. There was a rough tugging, but her body was numb. The nerves were dead. Nikki tipped her head with a struggle, tears overflowing with a pitiful moan. The Spindly Man was crouched over her legs, hands buried in the gaping chasm that was her torso. He didn’t even spare her a glance as curled, dripping fingers scooped viscera into his jagged, stretched mouth. Rasping breaths stuttered out of her tight throat. She’d never made it out of the cave.

Cannibals Anonymous

“Hello, I’m Hank…”

Hungry. I’m so hungry.

“… and I’m a cannibal. It’s been two months since my last feed, thanks to the support of the C.A.”

Look at them. I’m salivating. 

“This week has been difficult. It’s hard to remember that killing is wrong when I can’t forget how good it felt, muffling their screams, snapping their arms and legs, and crisping their skin over a slow roast. Don’t even get me started on how tender their flesh was!” 

He looks delicious. Nice beefy thighs. He’s next on the menu.

“Normal food isn’t enough unless someone dines with me…”

Corinne Pollard

Corinne Pollard is a disabled UK horror and fantasy writer, published with Black Hare Press, Three Cousins Publishing, The Ravens Quoth Press, A Coup of Owls, and Raven Tale Publishing. With a degree in English Lit and Creative Writing, Corinne enjoys metal music, visiting graveyards, and shopping for books to read. Follow her dark world on Twitter and Instagram: @CorinnePWriter

Boanne of the Waters

I slept with the Dagda. Shamed my husband. Love turned to rage. I ran to the salmon waters to cleanse my sins.

Nine hazels witnessed me run around the well widdershins. Cursing the gods, I was answered with devastation. The surging waters tossed and boiled. Blood and bone wrenched asunder. The Dagda didn’t save me.

My soul left my broken body to rest in the ether. From there I saw a river form made of my body and as my essence returned to the waters, I vowed to remain.

I am not gone. I am here. I am the river.

Sarah-Beth Watkins

Sarah-Beth Watkins wrote fiction shorts many years ago for Beyond the Rose and QWF. After many years of writing historical nonfiction, she is returning to her first love of fantasy combined with mythology and folklore.

I Should Have Listened

I’d prayed that I wouldn’t see it again but there it was, dragging another body down the street. The same as last night, and the night before, and the night before that. What on Earth was it? An abomination, that’s what. Long, spindly limbs. Glowing red eyes. And the teeth! How could anything have so many teeth? I couldn’t breathe. Did it know I was watching? I’d moved the curtain less than an inch! How could it? Surely, I was safe?

Then it turned its head…

The Curse of the Curious they’d called it. Oh, how I wish I’d listened.

Andrew Meek

Andrew Meek is new to creative writing but is brimming with ideas which he’s eager to explore.

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