The Trees of Malice is a collection of sixteen short stories “of horror and the weird,” as the publisher called it, but even though I love zombie movies, my own writing is more weird and strange than straight horror. I look at the world we know not as a steady, solid place…subject to sudden bloody disruptions, but as a pretty sideways place already.
For instance, in the lead story, “Clarence Avery,” Clarence is eating dinner at home when TV News reports that a man named Clarence Avery is wanted for murdering his boss and co-workers. Clarence doesn’t remember doing that. As he investigates, it becomes more and more clear to the reader that Clarence is guilty, even as he convinces himself ever more firmly that he isn’t.
In “Music Box,” Claire and Donald buy their starter home, an old 1950’s Cape Cod. Not much of a house, but it’s all they could afford. While trying to tame the run-riot back-yard lawn, they discover the entrance to a long-forgotten underground fallout shelter, and investigate. Inside is a woman’s body. Finding diaries and papers, they discover that the family who hid from what they thought was a Soviet nuclear attack was very much like them. And, then there is a new body. It’s Claire’s.
In “Home,” Tyler’s buddy Miguel is recruited by a strange mind-bending cult, and Changed. Miguel tries to induct Tyler into the cult, but Tyler escapes, now knowing what the cult is like, to find that the U.S. is being quietly overrun. He meets Micki, the only other person he can find whom he’s sure hasn’t been Changed. They desperately pretend, mouth the required sentiments, and walk the same way with eyes averted. And then, finally…
You’ll have to read the story to find out how it ends. No, it’s not what you expect.
“This Time the Hammer” begins, “On Tuesday, August 14th, the mirrors failed us. There had been some forewarning, to be sure: faces dimmed; haircut not reflected for several days, by then growing back; confusion as to whose reflection was whose. A trick of light? Or, perhaps the voltage on that unusually warm New England day, but…”
Each of the sixteen stories was collected for this book after previous publication in periodicals and original anthologies. “Clarence Avery,” for instance, was published in the Big Book of New Short Horror, “Music Box” in the Midwest Literary Magazine, and “Home” in Fusion Fragment magazine. Other stories in The Trees of Malice were published in various places including Roar and Thunder (Australia), Niteblade (Canada), Dark Fiction Spotlight, Weird City 2, and elsewhere.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The Trees of Malice is a collection of sixteen stories of horror and the weird. The stories portray people like you, caught up in events where the ordinary, everyday world they know crumbles. Some of these stories could happen, even if unlikely, while others take place only in the improbable world of the mind.
Welcome to the land of Malice – where things aren’t the way they seem.
The Trees of Malice is available from the publisher, BookLocker.com, as well as from Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and many other stores. If purchasing from BookLocker, use this discount code when checking out to get 10% off: Backstory
Terence Kuch is a native of Washington state and lives in Northern Virginia. Now retired and writing full time, he spent 52 years in the computer industry, from mainframe computer operator trainee, to Vice President of an international I.T. consulting firm.
His less-weird fiction, poetry, and non-fiction has been published in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Ireland, Australia, France, Luxembourg, and Thailand, including New Scientist, Dissent, Commonweal, Descant, Diagram, Gravel, Grub Street, Luxembourg Review, Mademoiselle, The Moth, North American Review, Poetry Motel, Sheepshead Review, Thema, Timber Creek Review, Washington Post Book World, Washington Post Magazine, and elsewhere. His novel, The Seventh Effect, was praised by Kirkus Reviews. A satirical poem of his won first prize in a New York magazine competition, was praised and reprinted in the New York Times, and included in a Random House collection. His book of poems about ancient and modern Greece was published in 2018 by Apprentice House / Loyola University. A poem of his has been nominated for a Pushcart prize.
He has survived interviews by the New York Times (on computer use in elections) and USA Today (on current American fiction). A sci-fi story of his is included in the science curriculum of Houston (Texas) public schools.
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