by Mark McLaughlin. ***FREE*** on Kindle Unlimited:
USA: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B011JR0Y0I/
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011JR0Y0I/

Excerpt from a recent 5-Star Goodreads review: “The stories in this collection are fun, funny and at times, eye-poppingly weird! …. Somehow, Mark McLaughlin manages to meld romance, pathos, the absurd, the grotesque and faux-noir – sometimes all in the same story! …. The humour is laugh/snort-funny and ingeniously clever at the same time.”


is a collection of some of McLaughlin’s most bizarre horror stories, and some of his funniest ones, too. In these stories, you will meet the grotesque underground cult of the Abysmal Elite … spies fighting a zombie conspiracy … fashion models with supernatural aspirations … Cleopatra’s unlikely reincarnation … a secretary developing godlike powers … and many more unearthly characters. So pour a glass of your beverage of choice, wine or otherwise, and start reading. #Kindle #KindleUnlimited #bizarro #horrorstories

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FOREIGN TONGUE: Six Bizarre Tales Of Love & Monsters



$2.99 on Kindle. FREE on Kindle Unlimited:
US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01A3LKQQI
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01A3LKQQI

FOREIGN TONGUE: SIX BIZARRE TALES OF LOVE & MONSTERS explores the many types of intense relationships that can exist between humans and unspeakable inhumans. You will learn the facts about monsters who are cherished friends … family members … dangerous enemies … passionate lovers. Here you will discover the many unholy creatures who lurk in the labyrinthine corridors of Valgrumbo House. You will witness the wicked goings-on at the Sweet Thang Adult Emporium … the reptilian horror of Motulu, Monster of Death … and the grandiose magickal Simulacrum of the desirable wizard, Mungha Sorcyllamia. You will attend a surreal film festival where nightmares and erotic fantasies entwine on the screen and in real life … all in FOREIGN TONGUE.

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THE ABOMINATIONS OF NEPHREN-KA & Three More Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos


THE ABOMINATIONS OF NEPHREN-KA & Three More Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos
US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015KCOYPE/
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B015KCOYPE/

From the author of BEST LITTLE WITCH-HOUSE IN ARKHAM and his CASINO CARCOSA co-author come a quartet of Lovecraftian horror stories: THE ABOMINATIONS OF NEPHREN-KA & Three More Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos by Mark McLaughlin and Michael Sheehan, Jr.

Three of the stories are set in today’s world and one takes place in ancient Egypt. The modern stories feature forbidden secrets and eldritch beings from icy ocean depths and the ruthless abyss of space. The title tale, a prequel to H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Haunter Of The Dark”, tells of Nyarlathotep and is set in a distant time when the Shining Trapezohedron was known as the Eye of Yuggoth and evil Nephren-Ka, the Black Pharaoh, ruled the unspeakable City of Night. Discover new realms of madness in THE ABOMINATIONS OF NEPHREN-KA.

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THE END OF THE WORLD IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY…. – A Tale of the Cthulhu Mythos

Here’s a video excerpt from the story, “The End Of The World Is Brought To You By…” from BEST LITTLE WITCH-HOUSE IN ARKHAM. In the story, Lovecraftian forces take over a TV network, and this excerpt describes one of the resulting programs.

YouTube link:

Link to the book on Amazon.com:

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BEN EADS Didn’t Break The Internet, But He Did Crack The Sky

Author Ben Eads

Author Ben Eads

As we all know, a certain curvaceous reality-show celebrity recently attempted to break the Internet by revealing her backside to a photographer. Horror writer Ben Eads hasn’t broken the Web with pictures of his anatomy (to my knowledge!), but he did crack the sky with a great new literary work … entitled, appropriately enough, CRACKED SKY. Let’s check in on Ben and see what’s cooking…

Cracked Sky

Cracked Sky

MM: Ben, rumor has it that when you were ten, you wrote a story for a school assignment that so horrific, it appalled your teacher! But, your classmates loved it. What was the story’s title and what was the plot?

BE: That rumor is correct, I’m happy to say. The title — hey, I was only ten, cut me some slack, ha! — was Halloween. It was about these kids who go trick-or-treating and find out they have to survive a neighborhood full of zombies! It was a writing assignment we were all given after our summer vacation. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was the inspiration as it was one of the first horror films I saw. The teacher held me back after class and said, “OK, you can write. But please, please, no more of that horrible stuff!” Well, rest assured, I didn’t stop. Ha!

MM: The nerve of that teacher, trying to stifle your creativity! (Note to self: Write a stern letter to the PTA and send it back in time to Ben’s school.) I’m thinking you must have read a lot of horror fiction as a kid. Back then, who were some of your favorite authors?

BE: You’re correct. I’m big fan of Stephen King. I read my first King novel when I was eleven. After that, I starting getting into Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, Jorge Lois Borgis, Robert Howard, Charles L. Grant, Terry Brooks, Clive Barker, John Steakley, Joe R. Lansdale, Ramsey Campbell, Shirley Jackson, Kafka, Somerset Maugham, Neil Gaiman, Algernon Blackwood, Jack Ketchum, and Richard Matheson … those were the biggest influences.

MM: What was your first published story — and, where have subsequent stories from you appeared?

BE: My first published story was through a free-zine. I’m not proud of it, however I mentioned it because I’ve noticed most writers start there, submission-wise. Don’t! You won’t learn anything from it. My “real” first published pro-sale was a short story titled Full Circle to Shroud Magazine. Since then, I’ve had more fiction featured in Shroud Magazine, The Ashen Eye, a few anthologies, and some really killer anthologies coming out this year. One is by Bram Stoker Award-winning editor Michael Knost. The other will be in an anthology Tales From The Lake Volume 2, by Crystal Lake Publishing. I’ll be sharing the pages with Jack Ketchum, Lisa Morton, Graham Masterton, etc… I’m really looking forward to that one!

MM: Your first published book is the new novella, CRACKED SKY. Tell us about that project.

BE: The concept of CRACKED SKY hit me like a diamond bullet between the eyes! I knew I had something very big on my hands. It was like a monkey was on my back; I didn’t have a choice. It’s the best experience I’ve had writing yet. It was also the most challenging. Stephen King said in his book On Writing that you shouldn’t come to the blank page lightly. Check! He also said you shouldn’t be afraid to “go there.” Well, it took a lot of courage to follow the latter. I’m glad I did because a lot of people have contacted me and told me that after reading the novella they decided to reach out to loved ones they hadn’t spoken to in decades, etc… Mission accomplished!

Ha! The “movie trailer” for it played it my head like this: Reeling from the loss of their only child, Stephen and Shelley Morrison learn that her killer has been found dead. What they don’t know is that his agenda goes far deeper than the grave. Beyond the storm, beyond the crack in the sky — where their daughter is trapped with The Lost Ones — something is using Stephen and Shelley’s agony to fulfill its goals: Terrorize. Consume. Destroy.

In essence, the characters in CRACKED SKY represent what could happen to us if we suffer a great tragedy, and the protagonist and antagonist are both sides of the same coin. I love melding real-life horror with the supernatural. Emotions are powerful and have weight — sometimes they can rip a hole in reality, and something can come out.

MM: CRACKED SKY is the compelling story of the loss of a child, grief and family tragedy. Powerful stuff! What was your inspiration? What drove you to write such an emotionally charged tale?

BE: Thanks for the kind words! Although I’m single and don’t have any children of my own, the closest I could relate to these characters was the loss I felt after losing my job, and both my house and car. After the first draft, a dear friend committed suicide. These were my anchors; the closest I could come.

I did a lot of research as well. I wanted this to be as realistic as possible, and it became quite depressing at times. It took a lot of courage to go there. However, Darrell — the villain — provided the darkest head-space I’ve ever been in. Sadly, books and film have one-dimensional villains. It’s as if they just walk up with a “Bad Guy” badge. I really wanted to sympathize with this monster, and have my reader’s sympathize with him as well, to a certain degree. I’m pleased to say the advance praise it’s received and the reviews it’s getting made all the pain worthwhile.

MM: So, how can people obtain a copy of CRACKED SKY? And while you’re at it, can you give us some links to an author page and other Eads-oriented websites?

BE: You can hop on over to Amazon.com and purchase it in print and electronic editions:


However, if you subscribe to The CRACKED SKY Newsletter on my webpage — http://www.beneadsfiction.com — you’ll have a chance to win free copies of CRACKED SKY, free copies of magazines where my short fiction has appeared, and I have some signed numbered limited edition books by legends in the field of horror as well.

Aside from my website, http://www.beneadsfiction.com, I have an Amazon.com author page too:


Also, you can follow my insanity on Facebook and Twitter or drop me a line:




MM: Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, Ben! I’m sure this book will be the first of many!

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Here for your reading pleasure is HER HORRIBLE APARTMENT, a complete story from my story collection, HIDEOUS FACES, BEAUTIFUL SKULLS. Here’s a link to the collection’s page on Amazon, in case you’d like to learn more about the book:http://www.amazon.com/Hideous-Faces-Beautiful-Skulls-Bizarre-ebook/dp/B00IVM5X8S/

Her Horrible Apartment
by Mark McLaughlin

As soon as she came through the door, she told us she’d found an apartment at the mall. This didn’t seem to make any sense, but everybody smiled and said how lucky she was, and so we made plans to see the place after work. We even decided to make a little party of the occasion.

I liked my job – computer graphics – but the workload was very boring that day: plopping copy into the same old newsletter formats. She walked by my desk on her way to the copying machine, and I thought: she’s so skinny. She’s starving herself like one of those scrawny fashion models. She was a pretty girl, and a very nice person, but I didn’t find her attractive. Her skinny neck and nervous eye movements were too birdlike.

At break time, I went down to the vending machine area and there she was, sipping steaming black coffee from a styrofoam cup.

“So. The mall.” I gave her the most encouraging grin I could muster. “You’ll be shopping like crazy.”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m right next to my favorite store, The Bracelet Hut. It’s like heaven.”

I looked at her wrists. She was wearing dozens of thin bracelets – plastic, copper, gold, beaded. Had she always worn so many? Probably so.

“Lot of food places at the mall… Hope you don’t have a pest problem.” I meant rats, of course, but I didn’t want to scare her.

“There are some bugs, but that’s okay.” She shrugged. “Nothing’s perfect. Only stupid people expect things to be perfect.”

After work, I drove to a discount liquor store for some wine, then headed for the mall. I was pretty proud of myself: the wine I’d bought was a dirt-cheap German vintage with a long name. Everyone at the party would think it was so chic.

The shoppers were out in full force, and I had to park a long way from the mall entrance. As I walked across the lot, a heavyset blonde woman sneered at me, and I suddenly realized that I probably looked like some kind of bum, carrying around a bottle in a paper bag.

Inside, I located The Bracelet Hut on a directory display (it was practically at the other end of the mall) and began walking again. After a while, I noticed that people were staring at me. Staring with looks of disgust. Of pity. I slipped into a menswear store and found a mirror.

My suit was all dirty and torn. My face was covered with dark stubble. There were dark circles around my eyes. I thought to myself, Oh, this must be a dream, and tried to wake up. And–

Nothing happened.

I left the menswear store and said “Damn!” – because men swear. Well, I was dirty and a little scary, but no matter: I was only dreaming. Probably. I hurried along to the party, the silly little party for her silly little apartment at the mall.

I passed Doughnut Heaven and Makeup Madness and and Love Them Computers and a lot of other stupid stores. I stopped for a moment to look through the door of a store called Measure Your Pleasure: inside, naked men were gauging their privates with golden rulers.

I just laughed. Oh, I HAD to be dreaming!

Finally, I found The Bracelet Hut – and next to it, a dusky-pink door with the words Her Apartment on it. I knocked and she let me in.

The apartment was nothing more than a converted men’s room, complete with urinals (she’d planted flowers in them). A dozen or so middle-aged men in blue coveralls were standing about, laughing, drinking, gobbling hors d’oeuvres, pretending they were going to pee on the flowers. Each man was holding a blue lawn rake.

I turned to her and said, “Who are these guys? Where are the folks from work?”

Her eyes were very sad. “These are the exterminators. I had to cancel the party because of the bug problem. But please, don’t let the snacks go to waste.” She crossed to a side table and returned with a trayful of cocktail weenies. “So why aren’t you wearing any clothes?”

I looked down in utter shock: I was naked, caked with dirt, and my toenails needed trimming. Everyone in the room turned toward me and laughed. Except her: she simply sighed.

Suddenly, fat, moist-looking iridescent bugs began to scurry around the room. They had way too many legs and bulging compound eyes. They seemed to be talking to each other in a shrill little buggy language. As I watched them, I realized that a form of nausea very close to car-sickness was building inside of me.

One of the exterminators, a tall man with red hair and a redder face, handed me a rake. “Make yourself useful, ya bum,” he said.

I looked around and saw that all the other men were chasing the bugs, slicing them to bits by passing the rake-teeth over them. I sliced up a few of the slower bugs, and hated doing it. Sure, the slimy freaks were utterly loathsome, but they were still living beings. My nausea became so intense that finally, I had to crouch in a corner and breathe deeply to keep from vomiting.

“Don’t do that,” said the red-haired man, pulling me to my feet. “Are you crazy, letting your butt drag so close to the floor? One of those bugs could have crawled up there, and then…” He made a face – a disgusted yet smirkingly knowing face – and returned to the task of bug-raking. More and more of the creatures were crawling about. Soon they were joined by frogs, scorpions and lizards, all multi-colored, all dewy with slime. Thin rivulets of steaming ichor flowed across the floor as more of the little horrors were sliced up. A hot, farty smell filled the air.

My skinny hostess took my hand. “Let’s go,” she said. “We don’t want to get in their way.”

As we were heading out the door, I looked back for a second, just in time to see an iguana force its way down the red-haired man’s throat. The look in his eyes was – well, I suppose it was one of pleasure. There are so many different kinds of pleasure, and oddly enough, some of them aren’t all that pleasant.

She led me next door to the Bracelet Hut, where the clerks were fighting off glistening Komodo dragons. She loaded down her wrists with gold and platinum, pearls and diamonds. Then we zipped across the corridor to Chick-Chick-Chicken, where we helped ourselves to some tasty hot wings. The fry-boys were too busy to stop us: they had their hands full, smacking rainbow-hued crocodiles with brooms.

We sat by the fountain in the middle of the mall’s Food Court, licking wing-sauce off each other’s fingers.

“I can’t believe we’re doing this,” I said. “It’s not like we love each other or anything like that.”

“Well, we are friends, aren’t we?” The tone of her voice was borderline frantic. “Everything’s going to hell and it would be nice to face the end with a friend.”

I looked – really looked at her. Sure, she resembled a sad, skinny little bird, but this particular bird needed me. Needed my support. My understanding.

I cradled her face in my hands. “For a while now, I’ve been thinking that this whole day has been one big bad dream. Not mine, not yours… Maybe the God of Slimy Things is taking a nap. Why don’t we just wait and see what happens? It sure can’t get any worse.”

She flashed a cheery smile, revealing hundreds of thin, sharp iridescent teeth. “Okay.”


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Here for your reading pleasure is SQUIDD, INC., a complete story from my story collection, BEST LITTLE WITCH-HOUSE IN ARKHAM. Here’s a link to the collection’s page on Amazon.com, in case you’d like to learn more about the book:


by Mark McLaughlin

Henderson snapped one day in the department head meeting and began speaking in tongues: “Ulala pizani! Y’kha Shub-Niggurath ghakala! Azagga pupago ma’azu!”

Henderson’s seat is right under the huge chrome Squidd, Inc. logo mounted on the wall, and his outburst was more than a little blasphemous – an affront to our disciplined business world. Or so I thought. We all looked to bulbous-eyed Old Man Squidd, our flabby corporate pooh-bah, to watch the fireworks.

The Old Man sat up in his chair (a formidable task for one so huge) and said, “By God, Henderson, I like a man with Spunk.”


Spunk. Spunk. Spunk with a capital S became our watchword, our password, our office shibboleth.

At that time, Squidd, Inc. specialized in the production and distribution of pharmaceuticals, with interests in medical equipment and biochemical research. I was Director of Sales, and I longed for Spunk like the cartoon coyote longs for roadrunner meat.

I’d been with the company for twenty years; my hair had turned grey and my skin had grown spotty in the service of Squidd. My chair at the meeting table was choice: only three seats down from the Old Man. But did the younger Directors have any respect for my years of experience? Sorry, no. Whenever they deigned to speak with me, their smug expressions told the story too well. They saw me as nothing more than a corporate leftover – a dried-up old piece of sushi.

I wasn’t about to let the matter of Spunk, and my lack thereof, cripple my standing with the company. I prayed at my desk: Gods of Commerce, I need more than just daily bread. Lead me deep into temptation and give me a magnum of champagne, a midnight-blue BMW, a penthouse office, a stock portfolio to die for, and most of all, a generous helping of high-energy, high-octane, high-and-mighty Spunk.



McCallum, Director of Public Relations and the youngest of our lot, tried his hand at Spunk the next week. He entered the department head meeting wearing a studded black leather collar and an orange Mohawk.

Old Man Hawthorne gave him the big thumbs-up. “Spunky,” he said, winking one of his staring sea-green eyes. “Damn Spunky.”

Each executive at Squidd, Inc. took their own personal walk on the Spunky side (except myself – my time had not yet come, my glorious dawn of Spunk).

Abernathy patched his pinstripe suit in gingham and replaced the handle of his briefcase with a corncob, like the mayor of Dogpatch.

Van Doring donned the robes of a Tibetan monk and delivered his marketing report in a complex but undeniably Spunky combination of Morse code, sign language, and hula dance.

Johannson filed his teeth to points, then decided to get in touch with his feminine side by personally designing a red velvet, off-the-shoulder business suit, perfect for the office or a night on the town.

Ms. Devlin, the only woman in the group, thrilled the Old Man with a brilliant display of Spunky initiative. She shaved her head, carved notches in her ears, and had a blue-green dragon tattooed across her face. She chain-smoked clove cigarettes and insisted that we call her ‘Lobo.’


I was sitting at my desk, thinking about Spunk, when I began to make paper airplanes. As I folded in the wings of my seventeenth memo pad stealth bomber, I stopped to consider the printing at the top of the sheet. The stylized cephalopod depicted in the logo stared back at me. Its gracefully curving tentacles seemed to be reaching out … but not to crush me. To embrace me.

I put in a request for an extended leave. And not for just a week. This particular leave would eat up all of my vacation time. Sick time. Holiday time. Personal time. I had to pull some strings and cash in some favors, but I finally managed to swing it. I then arranged for my work to be covered by several efficient but lackluster lackeys (Rule No. 1 in the white-collar jungle: never hire anyone with more Spunk than yourself). I divided my duties among these underlings in a complex, piecemeal fashion, to prevent any one of them from attempting a coup in my absence.

Having battened down my administrative hatches, I began my sabbatical. I had a lot of accrued freedom coming, and would need every second of it for what I had to do.


When I returned to work, a delivery boy standing in the front lobby screamed and fainted. The copying machine repairman flew under a desk and began to whimper.

My entire life savings had gone into my transformation. Skin grafts. Hormone injections, both natural and synthetic. The removal of certain bones. Tendon and cartilage augmentation. Gland transplants. Extensive redistribution of muscle tissue. And more. Much more.

I was supreme, imperious, an industrial juggernaut: the Squidd, Inc. logo incarnate.

I slithered into the department head meeting and stopped in my slime-streaked tracks. Abernathy, he of the gingham-patched suit, was sitting in my chair. With a squeal of outrage, I lashed out a tentacle, knocking out his teeth from across the table.

He rushed out of the room, his mouth gushing blood. I then looked to the head of the table, anticipating a big thumb’s-up.

It was then that I saw the unthinkable.

Next to Old Man Hawthorne sat McCallum. The Spunky young Director of Public Relations had given up his orange Mohawk and dog collar. Now, he too sported a slick, cone-shaped head and a writhing cluster of sinuous appendages —

Six inches longer than my own.

McCallum wriggled up to me. “Nice try, my friend,” he said with a gurgling chuckle, “but I’m afraid that mine is just a bit … nicer.”

A red mist of fury seethed across my vision.

“I have news for you, McCallum,” I stated, whipping my two largest tentacles into the air. “It’s not the length that matters…” I lashed my mighty musculature around his thick throat. “It’s what you do with it.”

And then I squeezed…and squeezed…and SQUEEZED…

First, his cone turned dark purple.

Then his eyes bugged out of his skull.

I decided to let go when his brains started to squirt through his thin, vestigial nostrils.

Old Man Squidd bared his dark teeth in a crazed grin. Later, he took me aside for a man-to-monster chat.

He said he admired my drive and ingenuity. He told me about a special clinic in his hometown of Innsmouth that could fit me with gills, making my transformation truly complete. He then lifted his flabby jowls, revealing shallow, green-edged fissures just under his jaw line. He explained that this sort of thing happened to the men of his town when they reached a certain age. And someday, after his gills finished growing in, he would take me down, down, down to the ocean floor, to visit the sunken Home Office. There we would pay honor to our Chief Executive Officer: mighty Cthulhu, powermonger of the deeps.

But in the meantime, there was work to be done.


I have become the prototype for an exciting new product line. The Old Man’s empire is expanding, taking the world of plastic surgery by storm. Around the globe, Squidd BioMorph Clinics are currently under construction.

Are you tired of the same old body, day in and day out? In the market for a new look? Our skilled specialists know how to bring out the real you. Ladies: fuller lips and bouncier breasts can be yours for the asking. Men: there’s certainly no need to suffer the shame of, shall we say, tentacle envy…

But don’t stop there, my friends. Try fangs. Pincers. Ghoul claws. Night-gaunt wings. Let your imagination run wild. You will love what we can craft out of you.

We’ll have you looking smart and sassy —

And as Spunky as hell.

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