From the Malafarina Files: ‘A Love Best Served Cold’ a short story by horror author Thomas Malafarina

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To introduce you to the works of Thomas Malafarina, the author has hand-selected one of his short stories.  Entitled “A Love Best Served Cold,” this short story is about a young man in love.  It is who he is in love with that is perhaps a bit different.  But who are we to judge?

Try your hand at rewriting this short story as a screenplay.  If you enjoy it, let us know.  We will pass along the word to the author.  He enjoys knowing what others think. 

A Love Best Served Cold by: Thomas M. Malafarina

The solitary young man sat silently in the shadowed blackness of his living room. The sole illumination came from the faint glow of light filtering through the open doorway of the adjacent bedroom, the source of which was a single candle burning on a nearby dresser. He always kept one burning. The blood red candle stood anchored in a puddle of hardened wax inside the inverted lid of a jar that had formerly contained his last helping of applesauce. It was his favorite kind, not the health-conscious stuff, but the type made with real sugar; lots and lots of sugar. He had no idea when he might be fortunate enough to find another jar, so he savored the delectable memory for as long as he could.

Oswald liked the dark. In fact, he loved it and always had for as long as he could remember. While most small children would scream in terror at the idea of being left alone in a dark bedroom at night, Oswald welcomed it and always longed for more. As a child, he cherished the darkness like a best friend and now as an adult; he embraced it like a long lost lover. And he was pleased there was now so much darkness to enjoy; now that the world had finally changed for the better.

The inhabitants of the earth as it had once been, always seemed to worship illumination and would often shun those like Oswald, who thrived in darkness. He recalled how in the old days, every summer scores of individuals would spend a substantial amount of their hard earned incomes to travel long distances and pay exorbitant fees simply to bake in the sweltering, blazing sun, like raw meat on a skillet. They thought nothing of risking the threat of skin cancer by lounging on some scalding oceanfront beach. All of that expense and aggravation just to soak in sunlight was something he could never understand, especially when there was so much more to enjoy in the dark.

He suspected light represented life to most people while darkness symbolized death. “So what was wrong with death?” Oswald thought to himself. After all, no one gets out of this world alive. So why not simply accept darkness and accept death and then learn to treasure it as simply another part of living?

Oswald J. Gorn was not what anyone would consider typical, nor had he ever been. During his high school days, he had been labeled with such disparaging terms as “creepy”, “weirdo”, “odd-wald”, “freaky” and even “scary”. He didn’t mind the insults and in many ways liked the attention his perceived oddness brought to him. Oswald realized if he had been able to fit in, if he were just like everyone else, it was likely no one would have ever even taken notice him at all. It was not that he needed or wanted their attention, but he found it fascinating how the other students would go out of their way to look and act like everyone else so they could fit in and to get noticed by the so-called cool kids. He managed to accomplish the exact same thing, albeit it in a negative way, by not trying to fit in but simply by being himself.

During and even after high school Oswald didn’t date, so to speak; he had absolutely no interest in building any type of relationship with any female. Some of the jocks in high school had insinuated Oswald might be gay, although he was quite certain he was not. He had nothing against people who were gay, but it was simply not the way he rolled. He did however, realize there was something out of the ordinary about his sexual desires and he didn’t know exactly what that might be; but he knew it was not homosexuality. But he did suspect and was quite certain that many of those same overly-macho, locker-room-towel-snapping jock types might have some of their own homosexual issues to work out.

Most of his classmates would have been surprised to learn Oswald was not a virgin and hadn’t been since the age of sixteen. He found there were quite a few girls in the school who were attracted to his idiosyncrasies, to his dark black clothing, his long wild hair and the sinister-looking jewelry consisting primarily of ornamental skulls and bones.

He never even had to leave his house to score with several different girls any time he wanted to, they simply came to him. But oddly, he was not very interested in any of those girls. They seemed to be lacking something, but he could not quite figure out what it might be.

He didn’t consider himself what the other students referred to as “Goths” or “vampires” and if asked, Oswald would have stated categorically that he had no desire to be lumped into any group. He preferred to stay to himself and to do what he wanted when he wanted.

After graduation, he chose to not attend college, much to his parents’ chagrin. But Oswald knew college was not the route he wanted to take in life. He wanted to spend a few years trying to discover what his true calling might be. He wanted to experiment with a number of different occupations until he hopefully found one he liked. Perhaps then he might decide to return to school to focus on furthering his education in that chosen field, but at eighteen years old, he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life.

Now looking back after several years, he realized he had made the right decision especially considering how useless all of those thousands of college degrees were now that the steaming defecation had finally hit the proverbial oscillating ventilation. Now that the world was stinking living graveyard, a good working knowledge of carpentry and plumbing as well as familiarity with guns, knives, self-defense or hunting were all more valuable skills than an MBA ever would be.

Oswald peered through the darkness into the adjacent bedroom and considered going in to do what he needed and wanted to do, but decided to wait a bit and savor the anticipation just a little bit longer. He could see the sheets on the bed ripple from the movement of its occupant and heard a slow moaning sound like that of someone in pain.

He smiled knowingly and looked at the battery-powered digital clock on the nightstand next to the bed and saw it was ten-fifteen. He decided to wait until ten thirty if for no other reason than simply because he could. He often played these sorts of games with himself; he felt it helped keep his life interesting.

Oswald thought back to the various part-time, full-time, permanent and temporary jobs he had tried after high school and how he never seemed to fit in well with any of them. It was not like he really cared as these were all experimental jobs, but he quickly learned that the people hiring him, those paying his salary, were not quite as accepting of his peculiarities as he thought they might be.

Although Oswald had quit many of his jobs, he was more often than not, fired most of the time. Yet he had always managed to find employment in one form or another and was able to afford to live on his own in his apartment, although it was a far cry from luxurious by any stretch of the imagination.

After three years of hopping from one job to the next, he began to think he might never find his true calling. That was, until he answered a want ad in the local newspaper for a mortuary in his town that was looking for a general laborer/helper. Oswald had no idea what the job was or what it might pay, but for some unknown reason, the idea seemed to appeal to him. After one quick interview he was immediately hired.

And much to his surprise, he found it to be the perfect job. He did virtually anything and everything the funeral director, Mr. Wilcox needed from parking cars, to helping set up chairs for the services to preparing the funeral parlor. After several weeks he was surprised when Mr. Wilcox asked him to help assist in preparation of a body for burial.

He had no idea what to expect. Up until that point, he had never been allowed to go into the embalming room and was thrilled at the chance to be part of the action. His first assignment was simply to watch Mr. Wilcox prepare the body and hand him whatever tools he might need to complete his work.

Oswald was shocked and pleasantly surprised to discover the body lying naked on the slab in the center of the laboratory was that of a young woman perhaps twenty-five years old, just a few years older than he was. Her face was distorted and her body badly cut and bruised as if she had been in an accident or had been beaten or perhaps had even been murdered.

As his eyes traced the contours of her naked body, Oswald felt something incredible stir inside of him. A sensation of sexual arousal the likes of which he had never experienced with any living girl before. He realized it had nothing to do with the corpse’s voluptuous shape, full breasts or lovely legs, but it was her pale color and the chalky mottled condition of her dead flesh. At first, the strange sensation frightened him but then he realized this was what he had been missing all of those years. This was the one thing which none of his past lovers could provide; this was reality, this was death.

Over the course of the next several months, when the Mr. Wilcox was not around, Oswald would sneak into the lab and check out what special treat awaited him on the slab. Most of the time, he was disappointed to discover shriveled old men or wrinkled old women. But every so often, he would be rewarded with a young or middle-aged woman laid out on the table. And if the occupant happened to tickle his fancy, he would simply drop his drawers and have his way with the chilly cadavers. He figured what the hell, they were already dead; no harm, no foul.

Oswald did however understand right from wrong as dictated by the mores of the civilized world and knew he would be chastised by society and prosecuted by the law, if caught. However, he also knew what he liked and those dead bodies, rigid with rigor, cold with death, having the slight scent of impending putrefaction were exactly what he desired. He had never experienced lovemaking with any living girl that could compare with even one these wonderful ice princesses.

Then as he had feared, his good times soon came to an abrupt and tragic end. One night he was enjoying the pleasure of an attractive thirty-something young lady who had passed away from an aneurysm or something of that nature, when the funeral director walked in and caught him in the act. Wilcox was outraged and in his fury, he grabbed one of the implements of his trade, a long drainage tube of some sort and proceeded to whip and beat Oswald with it.

Unable to defend himself with his pants down around his ankles, the young man tripped and fell to the ground, trying to ward off the attack with flailing arms. Eventually he managed to free one of his legs and kicked out wildly and accidentally struck the mortician in the chin hard with the heel of his foot. The blow was a wild gesture of self-defense, completely unplanned, but somehow it managed to knock the man backward. He lost his balance, fell to the floor, cracked his head against the marble tile and died instantly.

Unsure of what to do next, Oswald panicked realizing his life was essentially over. Self-defense or not there wasn’t a jury in the world that would accept his story. After all, Wilcox was a well-known, well-respected local businessman and he was… well a freak in the eyes of many. And if the knowledge of his illicit activities with the dearly departed ever surfaced, they would lock him up and throw away the key.

Oswald hid the man’s body in a closet. Then he did his best to wipe away any trace of his ever being in the building and fled home to his apartment, unsure of what he would do to next. Then to his dismay something happened which he had never believed could have happened; something, which made his problem pale in comparison.

The press called it the plague, Internet bloggers called it the long awaited Zombie Apocalypse, but Oswald thought of it as his salvation. Whatever it was and whatever had caused it to occur no one knew for certain, but for some reason, the dead had begun to leave their graves, rise up and feast on the flesh of the living.

It didn’t take long for local society to break down completely; just a matter of weeks, and then the entire world was thrust into chaos and anarchy. For most people it meant the end of the world, the end of mankind’s reign at the top of the food chain. But this was not necessarily the case for Oswald.

He understood survival would be a challenge and at some point in time, he would likely end up being killed or simply dying only to arise once again to join the ranks of the undead. But this thought did not trouble him. Oswald always felt death was simply a part of life and that was true now more than ever. He could only do what he could to get by until that day came and in the meantime, he planned on enjoying himself as best as he could.

He soon learned that this brave new world of walking corpses was exactly the type of world he wanted to live in. He did not flee for his life but adapted and learned quickly how not only to survive in such a world, but how to truly enjoy life for the first time and to partake of the many benefits such a world had to offer.

***

As Oswald sat in his dark living room looking out into the partially lighted bedroom he glanced once again at the clock and noticed that an hour had passed. It was now close to eleven o’clock. He was amazed at how much time had passed so quickly. From the adjacent room Oswald heard the bed squeaking once again followed by the faint moaning sound.

“Well, no time like the present.” He said to no one in particular. Then he stood and walked slowly into the dimly lit bedroom.

Lying on top of the sheets was the writhing body of a naked woman. Her wrists and ankles were each secured with heavy rope to one of the four bedposts. There was a gag over her mouth. He was not concerned about her screaming, as he was quite certain no one would hear her, but he did worry about her possibly biting him. He knew that would not be good at all.

She looked at Oswald through one filmy dead eye sunken deep in a bony dark ringed socket, not with fear or hatred but with an insatiable hunger. The other eye was missing, leaving a hollow pit crawling with worms. All that was left of her once beautiful tresses were a few patches, wispy strands of wild straw-like hair.

Her mottled gray flesh was covered with the filth and grime typical of her kind and dozens of flies swarmed about her. Some of them stopped to deposit their eggs in the puss-filled weeping sores, which covered her spasmodically gyrating corpse. Maggots from earlier deposits crawled from boreholes and dropped onto the bed sheets.

The single candle, although scented, did little to mask the vile stench of decomposition, which permeated the room. To most, the aroma would be considered repulsive, but to Oswald it was the scent of love. As he made his way toward the bed he began to slowly undress, knowing once again he would have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the new world; a love best served cold.

About Thomas Malafarina

Thomas M. Malafarina is a horror fiction author from the South Heidelberg Twp area of Berks County, Pennsylvania. He was born July 23, 1955, in Ashland, Schuylkill County, PA where he lived until moving to Berks County in 1979.

Many of Thomas’s stories take place in his native Schuylkill County and also in Berks County settings. Thomas’s books are published by Hellbender Books, an imprint of Sunbury Press of Mechanicsburg, PA.

Thomas’s early novels included 99 Souls, Burn Phone, Eye Contact and Fallen Stones; all four of which are now out of print, having been reworked and re-titled by Thomas from 2016-2019. They were replaced by the new books, It Waits Below\, BurnerFrom the Dark and Circle of Blood. Other novels include three in his Dead Kill series,  Dead Kill Book 1: The Ridge Of Death, Dead Kill Book 2: The Ridge of Change and the third installment, Dead Kill Book 3: The Ridge of War.

His short story collection 13 Nasty Endings is no longer available having been replaced by 13 Deadly Endings.  Several of his earlier short story collections, Gallery of Horror, Malafarina Maleficarum Volume 1, Malafarina Maleficarum Volume 2 are no longer available.  His other short story collections, Ghost Shadows, and Malaformed Realities Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3 are available. Other collections in the series,  Malaformed Realities Volume 4 and Volume 5 will be released in 2020, Malaformed Realities Volume 6 is currently in the works as well. He also has a collection of single-panel cartoons called Yes I Smelled It Too. In addition, many Thomas’s stories appear in many a variety of anthologies currently on sale online.

Thomas has had a life-long love of the horror and monster genre in all its form of books, movies and art. Annually, Thomas creates works of horror art, props and scenery, which he donates to a local non-profit Halloween Barn Of Horror.

 

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