- Pub. Date:
From the twisted mind of horror master Thomas M. Malafarina comes the third short story collection in his "Malaformed Realities" series, appropriately entitled "Malaformed Realities Volume 3."
With twenty-three terrifying tales of horror such as "Cypress Knees," "Dead And Rotten But Not Forgotten," "The Coal Miner's Ghost," "Chuckle Land," and many more, Thomas takes you into the deepest and darkest recesses of his bizarre imagination.
Stories included in this volume:
- The Age of Man
- Old Bones
- The Devil is in The Details
- Chuckle Land
- Girls Don't Poop
- A Place of His Own - Apartment 313
- Dead and Rotten but Not Forgotten
- Aly's Cat
- Il Debito Da Pagare
- Jake Frost
- Cypress Knees
- Extra Careful
- Spider Mine
- Eternity Engine
- Gronk the Gruesome
- Jonbie the Clown
- Maniacal Grynn
- The Coal Miner's Ghost
- Old Mrs. Murphy
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THE AGE OF MAN
"The world is beautiful, but has a disease called man" – Friedrich Nietzsche
"If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed." – Albert Einstein
"Man is the cruelest animal." – Friedrich Nietzsche
The man known only as Peter, sat quietly in the guest chair waiting for his automotive service to be completed. He was participating in a ritual the humans of this world referred to as "getting the oil changed." His vehicle was visible through the large glass show windows, which opened onto the "Speedy Service" area of the Mega Lube Quick Oil Change garage where a team of young men dressed in oil-stained coveralls worked like an army of ants to change the oil and do a sixteen-point inspection, whatever that was, on his compact automobile.
Peter didn't know if the vehicle actually needed to have its oil changed and suspected it might not, but this was another good opportunity to observe them, to see how they interacted with each other. Unfortunately, Peter had arrived a bit early on this Saturday morning and was one of the first customers at the facility, so he sat quietly, alone, looking around the empty waiting area.
It was a fairly small room perhaps ten feet square, the periphery of which was surrounded with many comfortable metal and faux leather-covered guest chairs, identical to the one in which he sat. To Peter's left was a break in the chairs where a door stood closed displaying the sign reading "Restroom" with universal symbols for both male and female creatures. Peter knew these illustrations meant the room was considered "unisex," which to the best of his comprehension, didn't mean it was for humans equipped with both types of genitalia, male and female, but that it had facilities capable of handling the needs of both human sexes. From his months of living as one of these beings, he knew the purpose of such a room was to be a place where they went to "relieve themselves" as they called it; to empty their bowels and drain their bladders of waste material. He quickly did a mental check of his body to see if it required any such evacuation and determined he wasn't in need for the moment.
There was a square black wrought iron decorative coffee table with a transparent glass top situated between the u-shaped row of chairs leaving very little legroom, upon which sat a large low, rectangular box bearing the logo and name of some eating establishment called Dunkin Donuts. Peter stared at the box curiously for a few seconds noting its pleasant design. He determined, whoever Mr. Dunkin might be, he really knew how to market his product.
"Help yourself," a kind sounding voice said from across the room. Peter observed over on the far side of the small room was an area reserved for employees, equipped with machines, which he knew were called cash registers. In the background, behind the service counter were some additional windows and doors leading out to a larger shop that he determined was used for more time consuming repairs, as opposed to the "quickie oil change" which was conducted in the area where his vehicle was currently being serviced.
The price for the "quickie" oil change was $39.99 and also included their checking all essential fluids, checking tire pressure, the mysterious sixteen-point inspection and also a complete vacuuming of the interior of the vehicle. The smiling man who was addressing Peter appeared to be the proprietor of the establishment, or perhaps the manager. Whoever he was, Peter assumed him to be the male human in charge of the entire operation.
"Excuse me?" Peter said with something of a confused look on his face.
"The donuts," the man explained. "Help yourself to a doughnut while you wait. There's also a pot of coffee brewing which should be ready by now." The man pointed to a pot of coffee across from the service desk against the far wall.
"Thank you. That's very kind of you," Peter replied, determining it was the appropriate response to such an offer.
"You're most certainly welcome," the man predictably said. Peter had become quite familiar with the proper comments and responses uttered in the various service industries he had been observing. He suspected when his business transaction was completed, the man would suggest he either "have a nice day," or perhaps indicated he should "have a good one," whatever that meant. He never understood that particular phrase. Peter wasn't even sure he had "one" of whatever it was they were speaking, let alone whether he had a "good one" or perhaps one which might be deemed less desirable. Then the man said, "It's just one more way we try to provide the best service possible for my customers."
Peter cataloged this reply for further consideration and analyzed the phrase "best service for our customers." Although the man seemed cordial enough and the gesture of providing complementary food and beverages appeared to be quite generous, Peter assessed from the man's comments, the purpose of the kind act was derived from the perspective of increasing business revenue, rather than simply being an act of kindness. He couldn't comprehend how offering him a bit of food would do anything to increase the quality of the oil change service he was about to receive however.
Then Peter finally comprehended; the proprietor was hoping by providing such free enticements while some of his competitors may choose not to do so, he'd be able to steal those customers away from those competitors. The doughnuts and coffee were not so much an act of generosity as some sort of bait to lure customers into a trap; that trap being the subliminal planting of a motivator to get them to offer him their return business. Peter suspected if he took the time to check out the various competitors' prices he might find the costs at this particular establishment to be perhaps a dollar currency unit or perhaps two higher than the rest.
He quickly did the calculation and determined if his assessment were true, and assuming the business did fifty oil changes during a typical Saturday morning at two dollars more than his competitor, the business would earn an extra one hundred dollars for an investment of about ten dollars. Peter believed that to be what was known as a substantial profit for a minimal investment. In addition, if the customers were pleased with the service and remembered the additional snacks, they'd perhaps pass the information on to their friends. This would result in not only return business but in additional business as well. Peter had read somewhere during his research "word-of-mouth" was the best form of advertising in a capitalistic society. The more analysis he did, the less generous the gesture seemed. "Interesting," he thought.
He reached into the box, retrieved an item he knew to be a Boston Cream doughnut and began to eat it. He didn't know what the city of Boston in a state called Massachusetts, had to do with the doughnut he was currently eating in Pennsylvania, but he enjoyed it nonetheless. He chose to pass on the offer of coffee, as he had never been able to acquire a taste for it. In fact, he couldn't understand how humans could possibly be drawn to any of the high-end coffee shops and coerced to pay exorbitant fees for a simple cup of something that he smelled and tasted so foul. This phenomenon always perplexed Peter.
He sat enjoying the delicious pudding center and chocolate topping of his doughnut, watching the big screen television, which was suspended from the ceiling and was playing some twenty-four hour network news broadcast. As he did so, he heard a one-way conversation coming from behind and off to the right of him. He determined someone was entering the waiting room through the outside door and was speaking on a cellular telephone. Peter never ceased to be amazed at how when some humans were conversing on a cell phone, the rest of their surroundings seemed to disappear from their field of vision. They could often be counted on to speak about the most intimate of subjects right in front of a room of total strangers as if no one could hear their conversations.
"Yeah. I fixed her but good," the voice said as a large overweight man about six-foot three inches tall with a head of uncombed hair dressed in blue jogging pants and a gray stained sweatshirt walked right past Peter as if he wasn't there. The man flopped into a chair along the wall to the left of Peter and continued his conversation.
Peter did a quick analysis of the man. He was perhaps forty years old, appeared to have been once athletic, perhaps a high school or college football player, whose muscle had gone to fat many years ago. His face was somewhat bloated and red; his nose showing the signs of veining Peter determined came from drinking too much of the substance known as alcohol. Peter determined based on his quick assessment the man would likely be dead of a heart attack or stroke within five or ten years if he kept up his current lifestyle, which Peter had no doubt he certainly would.
He also judged the man to be much wealthier than his outward disheveled appearance, by the confidence the man exuded in both his posture and mannerisms. The man was obviously an alpha-male type in a very high-paying, perhaps stressful position, who was used to getting what he wanted when he wanted it.
The man had probably just gotten out of bed, thrown on some previously worn clothing and rushed right out to have his oil changed. This was another fact, which always astonished Peter. He couldn't understand how some humans thought nothing of showing up in certain department stores and places of business such as this with total disregard to their personal appearance. It was as if they felt the people providing the service were so insignificant that they, the customers, had no need to care about how they looked, or smelled for that matter. Peter felt if he were one of the employees working in such an establishment he might feel slighted by this lack of respect. Then again, neither did the employees seem to take much pride in their own personal appearance.
"I figured it was her own damned fault," the man said continuing with his conversation. "She's the one who had the wreck. She tore the door off her freaking forty thousand dollar Lexus luxury SUV. Let her suffer." There was a hesitation while his friend on the other end of the conversation responded. Peter liked how he had been obviously correct in his assessment of the man's affluence; as such, a vehicle was beyond the reach of most common workingmen.
The man resumed his side of the conversation. "Yeah, the insurance company gave her a loner, a piece of crap Kia. Oh my God, I laughed my ass off." Peter found it quite disturbing how the man used the name of his God and creator in the same sentence with a word commonly used as a term of profanity for one's posterior. It appeared some humans showed as little respect for their chosen deity as they did to the people around them.
"She asked me how she was supposed to take the kids to school and show up in a Kia. Ha ha. Dude! It was hilarious. Can you imagine a car like that parked on my street? All of the neighborhood women were like feeling sorry for her because of her having an accident, while all the husbands were thinking how stupid she was. The dumb bitch."
Peter found this also incredibly offensive. How could the man demean the woman whom likely only a few years earlier, during one of the human's most sacred marriage ceremonies he had sworn to love, honor and cherish for the rest of his life? Yet here the man was joking with another male friend at his so-called life-mate's expense.
Peter had observed many males such as this one during the time of his research. He often wondered if these men who acted with so much machismo were actually covering up for homosexual tendencies. He understood what homosexuality was and as an outside observer, found the practice quite curious. He had no moral stance on the practice, just a natural inquisitiveness. It appeared to Peter this man enjoyed being with his "buds," as such men called their male friends, much more than he enjoyed the company of the woman he had chosen for his partner in life. Although he wasn't being judgmental, he found the entire state of affairs very odd indeed. There was another pause while the man listened to his friend respond over the cellular phone.
Just then, a serviceman walked in with a piece of paper showing two drops of some viscous fluid. The customer told his friend on the phone to hold on for a moment while he spoke with the attendant.
"Sir," the worker said, "on the right is what your transmission fluid should look like, and as you can see, yours on the left is much darker. It indicates it's time to flush and replace your transmission fluid."
"How much?" the large man asked curtly, cutting right to the chase, as humans were fond of saying.
The serviceman replied confidently, "Only ninety-nine ninety-five, and we can have it done in about half an hour."
The large man looked at the attendant as if he were insane and said, "No. Don't bother." The serviceman walked away obviously unhappy that he missed the opportunity for a sale, and the man resumed talking to his friend.
"Dude! This guy from out in the garage just tried to rip me off. He wanted to charge me like a hundred bucks to change my transmission fluid. Screw him, dude. You know Vinny? Yeah, yeah, that Vinny. He's got a bunch of illegals working for him at his garage, and I know I can get it done there for like half that price."
"Anyway, where was I?" He asked, "Oh yeah. Well, last night we went out for our sixth anniversary dinner and I told her we were going in the KIA. I even made her drive it, as a punishment. We showed up at a top-shelf mucho-expensive restaurant driving a piece of crap. It was wild! No, no, I told you, I wouldn't let her take my Lexus. Screw her. I made her take the Kia. Dude! It was great! She cried her freakin' eyes out."
Again, Peter was troubled by what he heard. This human was actually taking enjoyment from making his so called "true love" suffer what she'd perceived as obvious humiliation on the celebratory anniversary of the couple's taking their wedding vows. Peter found himself becoming enraged. He assumed the feelings were a side effect of his being stuck in the human body for a prolonged time.
"Ford Focus?" The man behind the counter called, jarring Peter from his angry thoughts. That was the make and model of the vehicle Peter was driving, which meant his service must be completed. Peter looked out the windows and saw his car outside the garage waiting for him. He walked to the service counter and paid for his service with cash, all the while listening to the man's conversation and determining his next action.
When he finished his transaction, the man behind the counter smiled and said jovially, "Have a good one." There was that strange expression again.
"Thank you very much, and the same to you," Peter said, issuing what he determined to be the appropriate response. He wondered once again silently, "What is this mysterious 'one' which this man hopes will be good for me? Strange, very strange indeed."
As he walked away from the service counter, he heard the man on the cellular telephone tell his friend, "Sorry man, I gotta go. My Lexus is finished." Peter walked outside and got into his car, preparing to drive away when he heard the door to the shop opening as the large man walked out onto the pavement. He looked down at Peter in his small compact Ford, as if actually seeing Peter for the first time, giving him a disgusted look similar to the expression one might make if he stepped in something nasty a dog might have left on a sidewalk.
Peter slowly nodded in direction of the large man appearing to offer a greeting, and the man's face immediately turned to one of complete shock as he involuntarily reached up grabbing his chest as if experiencing incredible pain. His face became ashen and foam dribbled from the corners of the large man's mouth as his tongue began to swell, extending over his lips, which had turned blue. He shook and convulsed, obviously having difficulty breathing. A moment later, the big man collapsed in a heap on the ground.
Peter turned his car to the right, heading away from the service center. Looking in his rearview mirror, he saw the main door burst open as several workers rushed out to come to the man's aid. Peter knew the men were wasting their time trying to revive the big man, as he had been dead before his body had hit the ground.
Turning out onto the busy highway, Peter followed the flow of automobiles to the next traffic light where he stopped behind a sub-compact automobile adorned with three bumper stickers that he found very interesting. Peter was fascinated with the humans' use of bumper stickers and he loved to read them, as they told him a lot about the person who was driving the vehicle.
Excerpted from "Malaformed Realities Volume 3"
Copyright © 2018 Thomas M. Malafarina.
Excerpted by permission of Sunbury Press Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Age Of Man, 3,
Old Bones, 18,
The Devil Is In The Details, 24,
Chuckle Land, 34,
Girls Don't Poop, 50,
A Place Of His Own – Apartment, 313,
Dead And Rotten But Not Forgotten, 83,
Aly's Cat, 91,
Il Debito Da Pagare, 95,
Jake Frost, 109,
Cypress Knees, 114,
Extra Careful, 119,
Spider Mine, 123,
Eternity Engine, 131,
Gronk The Gruesome, 138,
Jonbie The Clown, 147,
Maniacal Grynn, 153,
The Coal Miner's Ghost, 162,
Old Mrs. Murphy, 167,