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mark mclaughlin


We're extremely proud to include Bram Stoker Award winner Mark McLaughlin's column Four-Letter Word Beginning with `F' as one of the features EXCLUSIVE to HORROR GARAGE!

Brine Mark

Mark McLaughlin's fiction, nonfiction and poetry have appeared in more than 800 magazines, anthologies, newspapers, and websites, including Horror Garage, Doorways, Hungur, Cemetery Dance, Space & Time, The Black Gate, Galaxy, Writer's Digest, FilmFax, Dark Arts, Midnight Premieres, and two volumes each of The Best of the Rest, The Best of HorrorFind, and The Year's Best Horror Stories. Collections of his fiction include Pickman's Motel, Slime After Slime, Motivational Shrieker, At the Foothills of Frenzy (with Shane Ryan Staley and Brian Knight), and All Things Dark and Hideous (with Michael McCarty). Also, he is the co-author, with Rain Graves and David Niall Wilson, of the poetry collection The Gossamer Eye, which won a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry. His most recent poetry collection, Phantasmapedia, was a finalist for the Stoker Award.

In September 2008, Delirium Books/Corrosion Press released Monster Behind the Wheel, a novel Mark wrote with collaborator Michael McCarty. In that same month, Skull Vines Press released Attack of the Two-Headed Poetry Monster, also co-written with Michael McCarty. These and other books can be ordered at www.horror-mall.com. Be sure to visit Mark online at www.myspace.com/monsterbook and


If I remember my high-school science classes correctly, the human body is somewhere around seventy-five percent water, probably more (though in my case, I think my main liquid component would be coffee... cannibals could drink my blood as a high-energy drink). And as we all know, our human juices are pretty salty. You know that if you've ever bitten your own lip or tongue. The stuff that flooded over your taste buds didn't taste like Pepsi, did it?

So basically, each of us is a big mobile bag of sea-water. So why are some of us afraid of the ocean (and/or repelled by fish)? That would be like a balloon fearing air. But the fact remains, some people are afraid of the briny deeps. Fishy fears send them into salty shivers.

I wonder if any individuals with such fears had a bad birthing experience, or perhaps in their fetal days, a uterine experience so dreadful that distant memories of their free-floating terror in the maternal marina can be dredged up upon witnessing nautical imagery. If, for example, Eric Everyman's mother was accidentally elbowed in the womb while she was carrying him, will Eric remember that moment with horror every time he watches 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? Can such things be? Hey, if Shirley MacLaine can remember what she had for breakfast back when she was Cleopatra, I bet Eric Everyman can remember that traumatic elbow-nudging from his days as a fetus.

Perhaps that reproductive angle explains the existence of Humanoids From the Deep , a crappy drive-in movie that was later remade as a crappy video release. In Humanoids, slimy, scaly, web-fingered fish-men slosh out of the midnight waters bordering a seaside city to impregnate beautiful young women. Apparently there aren't enough creatures in the ocean for them to have sex with.

These horny fish-dudes must be descendants of the Gill-Man from Creature From the Black Lagoon from the old Universal horror series. Those movies revealed Gill-Man to be a sucker for any cute blonde he might find shrieking in his path. He was a hopeless romantic that way ... it didn't matter if the object of his affections was screaming her brains out. Of course, maybe he was just used to hanging out with sea-mammals, so he interpreted her squeals of terror as sultry dolphin pillow-talk.

Poor lady. She had no way of knowing that "Eeee! Eee! Eeeeee! Aiiieeee! Aaaaiiieeeeee!" translated in ocean squeak-speak to "I'm the catch of the day, you big hulking sea-monkey of love! Let's get it on!"

Those old Gill-Man movies usually did sneak in the occasional scene toward the end where the lovely blonde, safely extricated from the scaly arms of her would-be suitor, would then look with mingled pity and concern upon her briny beau as the human authorities dealt with him. What might she have been thinking in those scenes? "Aaaw, look at the big slug ... I mean, lug. They're shooting at him. Maybe he wasn't so bad. He really liked me, and he had such big eyes and full lips. Am I being too picky? After all, I'm not getting any younger. I bet we could have made it work..."