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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


It's happened to all of us.

You get to bed late and wake up in the morning really early, because you have a 7 a.m. meeting at work, so you're a bit cross. Actually, much more than a bit. In fact, you're so cross, any nearby vampire would take one look at you, hiss and slink away.

At breakfast, your French toast is cold, so you cast withering glances at your wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/SexBot 3000 (depending on your sexual preference and/or access to a time machine). Your drive to work takes three times longer than usual because your regular route is under construction, so when you finally get to the office (twenty minutes into the meeting), the little guy with big glasses from Accounting says, "Well, look who decided to show up today," and ...

...you snap.

You go off on that myopic wise-ass like a string of firecrackers in a blast furnace. "Oh, leave me alone!" you cry. "I don't snipe at you when you..." and then you list that measly twerp's various office offenses and iniquities, like putting smelly sardines in the office mini-fridge, or making a lot of personal calls or always forgetting to spritz some air-freshener in the men's room after dropping off some especially whiffy kids at the pool, so to speak.

Then you sulk for a while and start feeling guilty for being such an ogre (and certainly not a cuddly one, like that lovable Shrek), and you end up apologizing to the bipedal straw that broke your metaphorical camel's back.

That brings us round to the terror-topic du jour: the fear of losing control. Of unleashing the beast within. Of opening a can of whoop-tushy that's beyond your ability to seal back up.

Look deep into your inner zoo and tell me: when you unleash that beast within, what critter comes scampering out of the steamy jungle of your tortured psyche? Is it a weensy shrew or a rampaging elephant? A twittering canary or a screeching pterodactyl? Or ... God forbid ... the Deadly Mantis that ate Terre Haute, Indiana?

Let's take a look at how the world of film has dealt with the concept of anger-transformation, a surprisingly robust sub-genre. If you've ever watched the old Universal classic Werewolf of London, you might initially think (if you somehow hadn't taken in the movie's title) that the beast soon to shamble forth from out of the primal brainpan of the main character, aloof and aristocratic botanist Wilfred Glendon, will probably be a neatly trimmed poodle. But no, it is a hideous man-wolf, bent on destroying his one true love...'cuz that's what werewolves do. It's interesting to note: even though he has turned into a creature of hirsute, murderous rage, he still takes the time to put on his favorite jaunty cap before he goes out to tear people to ribbons. The scene where the blood-crazed werewolf takes just a moment to put on the right outerwear is my favorite part of the whole movie.