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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!

Mark McLaughlin

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


Funny thoughts enter my head at the weirdest moments.

When I was little, about seven years old, I was with my folks at a funeral for a local woman who had died in a car accident. After peeking into the coffin, I said matter-of-factly to no one in particular, "They should've pulled the hairs off that big mole of hers."

While that woman had been alive, her big, hairy, vaguely spiderlike mole had always bothered me. So, being such a frank little fellow, I just couldn't understand why they would allow her to be buried that way. They'd put lipstick on her dead lips and foundation on her dead face... so why hadn't they pulled the hairs off her dead mole?

I'm sure my comment must have shocked and rattled the other funeral attendees, but fortunately, an old man standing behind me defused the tension by saying, "God loves her, mole and all."

Fast-forward to last week...

I was watching the Fergie video, "Fergilicious!", with all its scenes of curvaceous women writhing in chocolate and whipped cream and sugary goo, and a funny thought entered my head (rest assured, lots of other funny thoughts have entered my head since that funeral, so long ago, but it would take too long to chronicle all the others). As I watched Fergie and friends bounce around in that sweet mess, I wondered, "Wouldn't all that sticky crap draw insects?"

And wouldn't that be a sight? One minute, Fergie and her sexy friends are playing and cavorting in sugar-coated bliss... Then, just a few seconds later, they are besieged by swarms of multi-legged critters hungry for sweetness. Bumblebees, wasps, cockroaches, ants, and flies, flies, flies! The flies would be the worst, because they come in so many different sizes, and they're all filthy, all ready to lay their nauseating maggot eggs. As Fergie herself would say, "Check it out!" Yes, indeed! Check it out as the pretty young performers are eaten alive by voracious vermin!

Thankfully, that sickening scenario never transpired in real life (to my knowledge...).

But where are my manners? I forgot to welcome you to my online parlor of perils, where "Fear" is just another word for nothing left to lose. This time around, we will be discussing insects. Creepy-crawlies. Critters. Limber little leggy things. BUGS.

Lots of people I know are afraid of bugs -- probably because they sting, bite, and generally enjoy nibbling on people. If a person happens to die outdoors, it's like an all-you-can-eat banquet for bugs. Mind you, not an all-you-CARE-TO-eat banquet... oh, no. Bugs just eat and eat and eat until they are filled to the brims of their tiny bug-lips. All-you-CAN-eat. They are insatiable eating machines, pure and simple.

Plus, bugs have a huge structural advantage over humans. They don't have sinuses! They don't catch colds... they never sneeze. You never see a cricket hopping around clutching a tiny box of tissues. I think that subconsciously, most folks are jealous of the unholy healthiness and gusto of insects.

Personally, I find most insects (except maggots and those nasty silverfish!) rather interesting and personable. I especially like praying mantises. They look like a whimsical cross between a robot and a grasshopper. What's not to love about them?

Godzilla (always the contentious one) has never shared my fondness for praying mantises. In Godzilla's Revenge (1971), also known as All Monsters Attack, the big green meany pounds the stuffing out of a pair of ketchup-colored mantises. Most of the old monsters from Toho Studios are clearly guys in padded suits, but not so with those mantises. Because they were so skinny, they had to be played by oversized puppets. You can even see the strings in the fight scenes. What a pity the Olsen Twins weren't around back then. Mary Kate and Ashley could easily have played the mantis twins. In fact, they'd have needed extra padding in their costumes, to bulk them up a bit.