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mark mclaughlin


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


Who goes there?

Ah, it's you.

You're looking well. I think you've lost some weight.

Come in. Sit down. Would you like something to drink? Wine? A gin-and-tonic? Wait there, I'll go rummage around in the fridge and see what there is to eat...

Okay, I'm back! Hope you like crab-cakes.

Let us talk once again about Fear, my friend.

Today's world is a place of marvelous opportunity, and we are all free to live our lives, pursue our dreams, play that funky music and rock the house.

At least, that's what we'd all like to think.

But we also know, everyone else in the world doesn't always agree with us. Sometimes others will refuse to cooperate, or will intentionally get in the way. Sometimes, others will try to control us, or hold us back--or worse.

Scenarios like that are common in horror movies--and in real life, too. That is why today's Fear is Coercion: being forced to do what you don't want to do.

Coercion is a very early, basic fear for all of us. Growing up, we all had to endure larger and/or stronger and/or meaner creatures (parents, relatives, babysitters, schoolyard bullies) forcing us to obey them. Some of those coercers may have used harsh words, threats of violence, or even violence itself to get us to see things their way.

Watch the TV news or read the newspaper on any given day--you'll find coercion on every page. Even in the comic strips! Sarge is always beating up poor Beetle Bailey, and Hagar the Horrible isn't afraid to throw his weight around. Nancy usually gets Sluggo to do her bidding, and who knows what kind of strings Lois has to pull to get Hi to reach his trembling hand into the job-jar?

An early movie featuring coercion is the 1936 production, Revolt of the Zombies. This creaky old black-and-white potboiler starts with a happy blast of what sounds like cartoon theme music. But then, nothing you see and hear in this movie is especially frightening. The zombies don't even look rotten. They're also referred to as robots and automatons--basically, they are everyday guys whose will is being controlled by mystical means. They've become mindless soldiers who stride implacably across Cambodian battlefields. Shooting at them doesn't stop them – cheap not-so-special effects reveal that bullets enter their body, but have no effect on them. They just keep moving, ever-onward. They exist simply to obey.