The Mercury staff recently took a vote, and decided any of us (even our physically handicapable intern) could kick the crap out of a mummy. And that goes double for the ridiculously ineffective Frankenstein and/or Wolfman. What were our grandparents thinking? These silly monsters aren't scary! It just goes to show that "the baby boomers" were in fact a bunch of pussies scared of a foreigner with sharp teeth and a nancy-boy cape. See, people in OUR GENERATION know that what's really scary is a little thing we like to call "REALITY." Check out the following "New Faces of Terror" selected by the Mercury Terror Squad—and don't be surprised if you poop your pants just a little.

TEENAGERS!

Teenagers scare the bejezus out of me, 'cause you know they'll flash mob you like it ain't no thing. They're extremely prone to excitement and on numerous occasions I've seen them shriek loudly and giggle for absolutely no reason. While they may be frightening, their one weakness is a fear of the "old ways"—packing around technological doodads like pizza-faced, voice-cracking cyborgs. To ward them off, just flash your two-year-old cell phone in their general direction—they will harmlessly hiss and slink away, leaving a trail of stinky pubescent hormones in their wake.

BEING BEATEN TO DEATH BY COPS!

Being beaten to death by cops would be pretty scary. Imagine, for example, being accidentally jumped on by a cop 100 pounds heavier than you, and having him and two other officers kick and punch you in the head and chest until you lost consciousness and began having seizures—maybe being Tazered to gain a little "pain compliance" while they're at it. Now imagine enduring such an ordeal as a heavily medicated paranoid schizophrenic, who's barely gotten over a profound fear of werewolves, and all for simply taking a piss in the Pearl District. Can't imagine it? That's probably because it's unimaginable. And yet....

SCIENTOLOGISTS!

O, the future! That gleaming land of promise and potential, of glittering technology and affable robots! Of space travel and enlightenment! Of hoverboards and healthiness! O, yes! The future! Am I interested in getting there sooner, you ask? Of course! Am I interested in a series of activities that can shape my everyday consciousness into something more enlightened? Why, surely! Am I interested in allowing Emperor Klaktu of Rigel VII to purge devil spirits known as Thetans from my frail humanoid frame? Uh... what? Do I want to join a celebrity-crazed cult that masquerades under the guise of religion while sucking the bank accounts of its blind adherents dry? No... no—I don't want that. Don't I fear the all-powerful Klaktu, and don't I know that merely by seeing the preview for Mission: Impossible III, I've unwittingly committed myself to serving in the 43 Eons War in the Klandathu Sector against the vicious androids of Psychlo? Oh, uh... yeah. I really have to go. I have this thing. I forgot about it, and now I have to go do it. Right. Nice talking to you, though.

TWEAKERS ON MINIBIKES!

The first time you see a pack of tweakers skeleton-ize a cow you will never look at meth the same way. Descending like gangly vultures on their Mad Max-ian custom minibikes, tweakers are trouble, and trouble means fear. Trouble also means toast crumb mustaches, Insane Clown Posse songs blasting from garages at all hours, and—worst of all—year-round shirtlessness. You know that Blue Öyster Cult song "Don't Fear the Tweaker"? Well, the BÖC was wrong—and were promptly skeleton-ized after recording that song. Fear the tweaker! Fear him before he gets your kids addicted to the meth and they skeleton-ize you.

NORTH KOREA!

Holy crap, North Korea's gonna nuke the West Coast! That's doubly frightening, and here's why: First of all, Kim Jong-il's ire is directed at George W. Bush, right? (I mean, my god, whose isn't these days? I think even the president's mom hates the president.) But dinky North Korea's nuclear weapons are... dinky. However, the dinky nukes are just across the Pacific Ocean from California, Washington, and Oregon—that's us! OMG, everyone on the West Coast is going to be turned into jerky, and Bush will escape unscathed! No fair! And extra scary—BUSH WILL OUTLIVE US!

GENTRIFICATION!

Every time a new coffee shop opens in my neighborhood, I feel an icy chill run down my spine. With every new bakery, hair salon, and doggy daycare center that casts its shadow on the street, the fear in my heart grows just a little sharper. Oh, sure, the fresh-baked challah is delicious, and it's great having progressive pet care just down the block—but how long can it last? How long can I afford to live in a neighborhood that is clearly outgrowing me? How long until the only place I can afford to live is... is... Gresham? EEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

GYPSIES!

Just ask TV's Angel (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel)—a gypsy curse is an insidious thing and can last for all eternity. They might rub a couple greasy turkey bones together, spit in the dust, say "patwaaa!," and turn you gay. Or they could possibly drop chicken crap on your porch, speak the holy name of "Maxwell Klinger" six times, and turn your face into one big, white, glistening ZIT (which they'll send magpies to pop while you sleep). Don't believe the freedom-loving, fortunetelling, big earring-wearing gypsy hype; they are nefarious, corrupt, and use their mystical powers for evil. There are many myths that are just that—ancient American Indians weren't wise, dolphins aren't smart, and pro golfers aren't "artists." Gypsies, on the other hand, are VERY MAGICAL. And yes, this was written anonymously for a reason—the author wishes to remain curse-free, thankyouverymuch. But if any gypsy happens to ask, this was written by sarcastic bearded Mercury newsman Scott Moore.

ANGRY SMOKING DOWN SYNDROME THUGS!

We've seen 'em on corners and we've seen 'em at bus stops. We've also seen many in Gresham, Beaverton, and deepest, darkest Clackamas. We're talking Down Syndrome kids—but not the gentle, happy, sweetest-kids-in-the-world types you're used to. These are mad-at-the-world, mustache-having, cigarette-smoking thugs. And they will kick your ass to death (they don't know their own strength!). These bruisers travel in packs of two or three and have a Care Bear stare that could burn holes in Superman's heart. You know how you don't hear much about Superman anymore? The angry smoking Down Syndrome thugs KILLED HIM. Farewell good man of steel. (Next on their "to kill" list: Jesus, Osama bin Ladin, Santa Claus, Johnny Appleseed, and "most Australians"—whatever that means.)

HYBRID DOGS!

There are plenty of weird dog breed mixes that aren't half bad, like puggles and labradoodles. But a yorkie/long-haired Chihuahua mix recently seen running around a Portland dog park—with tufts of long, wispy hair sticking out haphazardly on its stunted little body—was one of the most terrifying things we've ever seen on four legs. And yorkihuahuas (or whatever the hell you call that thing) aren't the only frightening mongrels out there—I dare you to google Bea-tzu, Muggin, Chiweenie, Weimardoodle, or Crested Tzu. These hybrid dogs are evil incarnate. You've been warned.

LIBERTARIANS!

Libertarians, in theory, sound great—they're all about keeping government out of your life, and defending individuals' rights, including the right to smoke pot and check out strippers. Hell, anything goes for libertarians, unless you trample on someone else's rights. But that's where the party ends.

Libertarians, in reality, are anti-social fuckwits who will eliminate taxes (thereby choking off great public programs, like education) while stockpiling guns to defend their own damn rights. And while libertarians seem liberal, in the keep-your-laws-off-my-body sense, they're actually conservatives who hate government and society so much that they'll run the country into the ground to prove their point. That's freakin' scary.

FAT WHITE KIDS!

You've heard it before—maybe in the Little Debbie aisle of Fred Meyer, or while you waited for the bus with your back turned to the nearest elementary school. The sounds will forever haunt a man's nightmares. The KA-THONK, KA-THUD of approaching thunder, followed by blood-curdling whines gurgling with loose Cheetos phlegm. By the time you hear it, it's too late. You're in the footpath of the new face of horror—fat white kids! Suckled at the teat of Capri Suns and bred to grow up fallow, ineffective, and diabetic, fat white kids are on an unavoidable collision course with world domination, fueled only by Charleston Chews and an education borne of Family Guy reruns. Like bipedal Jabba the Hutts, fat white kids respect nothing but the almighty corn syrup, leaving lifeless beanbag chairs and McGriddle wrappers in their wake. Once considered the weak link in the playground evolutionary chain, fat white kids have multiplied in heft and quantity, outnumbering their spry, alert peers, and show no signs of slowing down (except when the Totino's pizza rolls come out of the oven). Be afraid. Be very afraid.

VEGETABLES!

Vegetables are insidious little fuckers. Sure, they claim to be all "nutritional" and "vitamin-packed," but I wouldn't turn my back on a radish if you paid me. Everyone says that they're "power foods," that they'll make your muscles "strong" and your eyesight "sharp," and you think you're being so healthy, loading up on the leafy greens... and then the next thing you know, you're shitting blood and your kidneys are shutting down. Spinach and lettuce are crawling with E. Coli—which vegetable will betray us next? Broccoli? Corn? Fucking potatoes? Maybe you're willing to risk life and limb for so-called "healthy eating," but I'm not. I'm just not.

TECHNOLOGY!

In 1986, Steven King wrote and directed a movie called Maximum Overdrive, in which a nebulous alien force began possessing machines—tractors, drawbridges, vending machines, etc.—that then traveled to a truck stop to terrorize sorry mortals (including a still-hot Emilio Estevez!). That shit was scary, but nowhere near as scary as the technological reality two decades later. Did you know that cell phones will give you brain cancer? And that laptop computers will make you impotent? Worse, technology is turning out a generation of button-mashing, screen-staring, text-messaging zombies who are soon going to be—eep!—in positions of power. Just wait until English is replaced with hacker-speak. SRSLY? OMGROTFLMAO. From there, we're only one step away from Armageddon.

FUNDAMENTALISTS!

On an intellectual level, it's great fun to watch warring groups of fundamentalists rip each other's populations to shreds over microscopic differences in their beliefs. (Think there's any substantial difference between hard-line Jews and militant Muslims, or warmongering neo-conservative Christians? Think again.) It's fun, that is, until you realize that many of these crackpots—including our very own president—are armed to the teeth, and are more beholden to their unwavering and arbitrary dogma than they are to not killing everyone in sight. Add nuclear weapons to the equation and—whooops!—the rest of us are now all totally fucked. And if we're not getting killed, we're being told how to live our lives by people who take their cues from an imaginary Santa Claus floating in the sky. Welcome to the new Dark Age—if you survive.

PREGNANCY: THE SCARIEST STD!

With advances in science and an increasingly informed social consciousness, STDs don't pack the same chill they used to. (Yeah, even herpes. It's virtually harmless, and as the French say, "Si vous n'avez pas l'herpès, vous n'avez pas assez de sexe."*) Pregnancy, on the other hand, is becoming an increasingly terrifying prospect, leading more and more women to avoid it as long as possible—despite the sickly ironic fact that doing so makes your risk of breast cancer higher (no, you can't win). The economy is one thing: If you are like most young Americans, you don't have health insurance, and you're working a much lowlier job than you would be if your parents' ridiculously populous generation wasn't hogging all the top spots and keeping the labor market weak. (Keep in mind that geriatrics is one of the least popular fields chosen by young medical students today... there could be a silver lining to that.) Then there's the fact that doctors are tossing off Cesarean births with increasing nonchalance—an invasive surgery that will nearly double your (as previously mentioned) uninsured medical bill, and add scarring to your souvenir collection of stretch marks, flab, and clothes that don't fit you anymore. Not that you'll be able to replace them any time soon, what with the extra $500-plus per month responsibility you've just given birth to. Kind of makes a prolonged adolescence and a case of genital herpes sound nice, doesn't it?

* If you don't have herpes, you are not having enough sex.

OREGON LIQUOR CONTROL COMMISSION!

Life is fucking frightening, right? And sometimes—i.e., all the time—all you need is a just a drink or six to calm your nerves so you can actually function in this unforgiving, dangerous world. But guess what—there's an agency designed to make that mission as difficult as possible: the OLCC. It's the OLCC's job to regulate liquor sales in the state. That's fine, we guess, but here's where it gets scary—they may soon play a role in shutting down strip clubs. Republican Kevin Mannix has made it his new goal to regulate strip clubs (AKA Portland's "Space Needle"), and has a ballot measure primed for 2008 that will allow governments to shut down nudie bars based on "alcohol control authority"—meaning the OLCC will be involved. A strip club-free Portland is scarier than a million terrorists armed with bombs filled with hepatitis-infected syringes.

Here's what's even scarier: You can't buy liquor by the bottle on Sundays. That forces liquor-lovers to go to bars on Sundays, increasing the chances that you'll be killed by a drunk driver (maybe even the executive director of the OLCC!) heading home from the tavern. Thanks a bunch, fascist fuckholes.

PEDOPHILES!

Congressman Mark Foley and John Mark Karr notwithstanding, we should make one thing clear: Just because the Mercury has a five-year subscription to Tiger Beat magazine, and our editor regularly posts pin-ups of celebrity teenagers on his walls, and then spends most of the editorial meetings going on and on and on about how Zac from High School Musical is the most dreamy dreamboat EVER—that does not mean we are pedophiles. Real pedophiles hang around Justin Timberlake concerts to seduce impressionable young girls, while WE hang around Justin Timberlake concerts for the music. Besides, those screaming nine-year-olds have no true appreciation for JT's musical genius, and are awful at giving blowjobs. KIDDING!! JUST KIDDING!! Don't call the feds to confiscate our computer hard drives, unless you never want to see a copy of this tabloid again! (Besides, there's absolutely nothing to see. Management made us delete all of our "Hot Teenage Lesbian Cheerleader" bookmarks last week.) But real pedophiles? THEY'RE SCARY.

OVERSEXED PREDATORY TEENS SENDING TEXT MESSAGES!

And another thing, Congressman Mark Foley and John Mark Karr notwithstanding, is it really so wrong to be friendly to teenagers? And yet certain of these cruel post-pubescents seem determined to ruin our lives by sending us sexy text messages—what are we supposed to do? IGNORE THEM? Psychologists and teachers are always screaming, "Wah! Wah! Wahhhh! Listen to the children when they are talking to you!" And yet, the minute we start listening, these hyper-sexualized teens and their horny fingers start typing out all sorts of lewd come-ons to us, such as, "Ur so funny LOLROTF!" Or, "I study betr when I drnk win koolurs." Or, "Meet ya in Alabma [where the legal age of consent is 16]! <kiss>!" BEWARE THE HORROR OF THE OVERSEXED (and technologically advanced) PREDATORY TEENAGER!

ACCIDENTAL CEll Phone "BUTT-CALlS"!

Despite what some "newspapers" tell you, working as a barista is boring as fuck—so it's natural to spend A LOT of time on shift behind the counter talking shit about your ugly customers, drug-addicted boss, and of course, when precisely you're planning on dumping your wealthy girlfriend. Imagine your half of the conversation goes like this: "I don't see it lasting beyond the summer, but her dad's paying for us to fly to Turkey on vacation and I don't want to miss out." Of course, it would be ridiculous for that precise snippet of the conversation to make its way, via an inadvertent "butt-call" made in your pocket, to RECORDING ITSELF onto said wealthy girlfriend's swanky Nokia voicemail for use, about three hours after your shift's over, as justification for slapping you in the face and saving you the trouble, dumping-wise. Ridiculous? Indeed! But life is stranger and more frightening than fiction, friends, and so are cell phones: Ours still haunt us.

STINGRAYS: THE HEARTLESS BASTARDS OF THE SEA!

Oh, shit. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. Did you see that? That shadow? Swear to god, I saw a shadow. Like a kite. It looked like a goddamn kite, man. Fast. It was a goddamn... a goddamn stingray, man. The thing that got the Crocodile Hunter! Ka-THUNK, man—a goddamn poisonous tail right through your heart! That's how it happens! They're not even angry about anything! They'll just do it! Crocodile Hunter never hurt anybody! And then one day—ka-THUNK, man—he was dead! And then his corpse got raped by a stingray. And then just a week ago? A stingray jumped into some old guy's boat and stabbed him in the heart! No. That's true. He wasn't even in the water! The bastards are jumping now—onto LAND. I'm not taking any chances, dude. Swear to Christ, I saw something. A shadow. You'd better get out of here too. Unless you want a stingray to stab out your heart and rape your corpse.