From the Malafarina Files ‘The Devil Is In The Details’ by horror author Thomas M. Malafarina

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By Thomas M. Malafarina
© 2015 Thomas M. Malafarina

“For Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.” – Isaac Watts
“If the Devil finds a Man idle, he’ll set him at work – J. Kelly, Scottish Proverbs,1721

Dirk Braxton was stock still, sweat glistening on his brow as he listened carefully for the
sound he had heard just a moment earlier. He was on high alert now, every muscle in his rock-
hardbody taut with anticipation, ready to spring instantly into action as soon as the need

Excellent! Bradley thought as he re-read the paragraph he had just scribbled in his
notebook. He especially liked the phrase “his rock-hard body taut with anticipation.”

“Pure genius.” He thought silently to himself. He had no idea where he came up with this
stuff, but he was certain it was nothing short of amazing. He honestly had to admit he enjoyed
his writing far more than he should. He only wished others would enjoy it half as much as he did.
If so, then maybe he might actually sell some books and someday become free of these boring,
mindless, repetitive temp jobs. Perhaps then, he could afford to stay home and write for a living.
But he knew that was a dream he might chase his entire life and never achieve.

For the moment, he was going the self-publishing route, having written two other Dirk
Braxton action-adventure novels. Still, he had barely made enough money to cover his minimal publishing expenses. Bradley knew he’d probably be homeless without these various crap jobs to
support him.

As a result, here he was on yet another crappy clerical temp job, bored out of his freaking
skull. He was on the graveyard shift at a local manufacturing plant. His desk was located in a
mezzanine above the shop floor. Several office complexes were in the mezzanines, each with
separate office modules. There was only himself, two others, and their boss Bill Emmerson in
Bradley’s module. His two coworkers were not temporary workers but direct employees, so most
of their time was spent out on the shop floor troubleshooting. His boss also tended to spend most
of his time out of the office. This meant that Bradley had a good amount of time alone and

Having experienced similar situations on other such jobs, he had brought his notebook
with him to sneak some work on his next book whenever he was in the office. He realized the
workplace was by no means an environment conducive to developing good literature. Still, it
often provided him with the opportunity to jot down some ideas. The front ten or more pages of
his notebook were filled with notes on his job responsibilities. The employee who trained him
had encouraged him to keep copious good notes so that if he had any problems, he could open
the book and have the answers at his fingertips.

The notebook was quite thick, making it look as if Bradley actually cared about his job.
But if someone were to take the time to start at the back of the book and move in about ten pages
with the book turned upside down, he’d find that Bradley had hidden notes for his latest writing
project there, the most recent adventures of Dirk Braxton.

Bradley wrote in his notebook, “As Dirk waited, he heard the sharp raspy breathing of
someone coming down the hall. Soon that person would round the corner and be in his kill zone.
Dirk recognized the ragged breathing; it was coming from the man he had been pursuing, the one
they called The Viper.”

Bradley heard the door to the office open, followed by a deep sigh of exhalation. He
flipped his notebook over and rotated it 180 degrees as furtively as possible. Then he opened it to
reveal his job notes. He began running his index finger over the contents of the notebook as if
desperately looking for something very important.

Although it was true that he had very little to do, Bradley learned years earlier to look
busy so he could keep the income, minimal as it might be, coming in. As a temp-type worker,
when he ran out of work, he was no longer needed and as such would be sent packing. So busy
or not, he had to look busy. He realized he was, in essence, stealing from the companies who
hired him, but he rationalized it based on the low wage he was making. He knew many high-paid
direct employees with full benefits who were even less busy than he was most of the time. He
figured it wasn’t a big deal.

An old-timer at a former temporary job told him the secret to success in a large company
was to walk fast, carry a notebook or file folder and look stressed. That particular individual had
claimed that he had done very little work of any kind for the previous decade before his
upcoming retirement. Still, everyone who saw him scurrying with his file folder through the
office looking worried was certain he was busting his butt. Bradley continued to appear
engrossed in his notes.

“How’s it going, Brady?” Bill Emmerson asked in a tone that suggested he really didn’t
care how things were going. It was just something, as the boss, he had to say.
“Fine, Bill,” Bradley replied. And it’s Bradley … not Brady.”

“Of course, of course,” Emmerson said dismissively, waving his hands as if the issue was
of no consequence. Good. Good to hear. Excellent. Keep up the good work, Brody.”

And with that, Emmerson walked out the door to Bradley’s work area, leaving him alone
once more. Bradley went back to working on his book. Before he put his pen to paper, he
thought again about Bill Emmerson and what a character he was. He liked Bill as a person and
especially liked that the man was clueless about how little work Bradley had to do. Then an idea
suddenly popped into his head like magic. Why not create a character based on his boss’s
physical characteristics and use that character as the villain in his story?

He had been struggling to find the right profile for his Viper character, but the more he
thought about it, the more it all made sense. He found himself loving the idea for several reasons.
He had already described The Viper’s breathing as raspy and wheezing. His boss was grossly
overweight, and every time Bill walked into the office, Bradley could hear his approach initially
by the man’s sigh, then his labored wheezy breathing. Now that he thought about it, Bradley
realized he must have subconsciously been thinking of Bill Emmerson all along in his
characterization of The Viper.

Being a writer who loved to describe scenes using excessive detail, Bradley created a
character sketch of The Viper using everything he recalled about his boss. By the time he was
finished, he had completed what he felt was an exact physical representation of Emmerson in his
book. Then Bradley went back to the main part of the story. As The Viper rounded the corner
with his large protruding stomach leading the way, Dirk raised his arm and smashed his mighty
fist into the side of the fat man’s skull, striking him hard on the temple. The Viper collapsed to
the ground in a dead heap.

Bradley was admiring what he had just written when suddenly the office door burst open,
and one of the workers from a different office section rushed in, heading straight for one of the
other work areas. Bradley looked on astonished, clearly noting that something was wrong.
“Yes … this … this is Ryan Jefferies, at Bleakerton Industries.” The man shouted into the
phone, We have a medical emergency. One of our managers has collapsed in the office. Please
send an ambulance immediately. After a few more seconds of Jefferies giving more
information, he put down the receiver, turned, and headed for the door.
“What happened?” Bradley asked.

The man turned and said as he was heading out the door,”It’s Bill … Bill Emmerson. He
collapsed in the hall between the offices. He was … grabbing the side of his head and screaming
in pain. I think … I think he might be dead.”

As the door slammed shut, Bradley sat and stared helplessly, his mind trying to come to
grips with what he had just heard. Bill Emmerson dying, maybe dead? “How could that be?” He
had just seen him no more than a few minutes earlier, and he looked fine for a man his age and
size. How could he possibly be dead? Bradley looked down at his notebook then at the closed
office door with the realization that his boss had likely collapsed at the exact moment Bradley
had killed the character The Viper. That character had been essentially a doppelganger of Bill

But that was impossible. Wasn’t it? There was no way he could write about a character
dying, and then the person he modeled the character after would likewise die in real life. It had to
be pure coincidence. What could possibly be the logic behind such a thing? There was none.
That was when he heard the office door burst open again. In came one of his coworkers, Chuck
Davidson. He wasn’t a temp like Bradley but was a direct employee. He wasn’t one of Bradley’s
favorite people either. Bradley had thought he resembled a weasel in many ways. His business
demeanor was distrustful, mean, and sneaky, which only cemented the weasel image. Bradley
felt Chuck’s weasel-like appearance was a perfect match for his personality.

“Hey, Job Shopper,” Chuck shouted. Job Shopper was a term direct employees often
applied to temporary or contract personnel. Chuck had never bothered to learn Bradley’s name
either. Like the possibly late Bill Emmerson, Chuck only thought of Bradley as some
unimportant commodity to be used then tossed away. At least Bill Emmerson had made some
feeble attempt at getting his name right; Chuck never even tried. Chuck continued, “Didja hea
what happened?” He said the word hear as if the at the end of the word was missing.  “Bill
Emmerson is dead … he just friggin’ dropped dead.”

Bradley thought to himself, “It’s too bad it wasn’t you who dropped dead and not Bill
Emmerson, you slimy weasel.” Instead, he acted surprised and said, “Oh no. Not Bill. He was
one of the good guys.” What he wanted to say was,” Oh no. Not Bill. He was one of those bosses
who left me alone, and I could write my stories almost all night long.” But of course, he couldn’t
say that, especially to Chuck the Weasel.

“Bill was a jerk,” Chuck said, which Bradley found rather surprising to hear not just
because it disrespected the dead but also because any time Bradley had seen Chuck with
Emmerson, Chuck had spent most of the time with his head halfway up the man’s backside.
Yeah. He thought he knew everything, but he didn’t know squat. So now that he’s bit the big
one, maybe I’ll be taking his place. Wow. That would be a hoot. Haha. Then you could end up
working for me, Job Shopper.

“Yes, I’m sure that would be interesting,” Bradley said agreeably, knowing that five
minutes after Chuck the Weasel was made his supervisor, Bradley would be on the phone to his
temp agency asking them for a different assignment. There was no way in Hell he would ever
work for that moron. Chuck stood up from his desk and went back out into the office corridor.
Then Bradley remembered his notebook and the coincidence which had just happened. What if it
wasn’t just a coincidence? What if it really did happen? Then an idea struck him like a bolt of

Bradley immediately began creating a written description of a character he called Ralph
the Rodent. By the time he was done adding all of his descriptions, Bradley had used words to
paint a detailed replica of Chuck. He wasn’t quite sure where or if he would fit the new character
into his book, but that wasn’t the point of the exercise anyway, was it? No, he just wanted to see
if there was anything to this newfound skill, which he seemed to have suddenly developed.
Bradley quickly wrote a scene where Dirk Braxton broke down the front door to a run-down
crack house purported to be the lair of the drug-dealing child molester Ralph the Rodent.
Dirk smashed down the door and flew into the room with guns a-blazing catching the
Rat in his crossfire, blasting his stomach to pieces and practically cutting the villain in half.
Blood splattered the wall with crimson as Ralph fell to the floor dead lying in a spreading pool of

Bradley closed the notebook, folded his hands, resting them on the book, and waited
calmly and patiently to see what, if anything, would happen next. No one came into the room to
call for medical help. Bradley realized Emmerson’s death actually must have been nothing more
than coincidence after all. He decided to go out into the hall under the pretense of using the
men’s room to see if he could learn anything more about what happened to Bill Emmerson. He
saw a group of people standing around the prone body of a fat man down at the end of the
hallway. He saw several paramedics zipping closes an oversized body bag. The women in the
crowd were weeping uncontrollably.

Not wanting to be part of that circus, Bradley ducked into the men’s room, where he
planned to lay low and out of sight. As he entered the bathroom, he noticed a strange odor,
something that smelled coppery, and it instinctively made the hair on the back of his neck stand
on end. He saw two long thin legs sticking out from under one of the stall doors. The door was
slightly ajar. Bradley opened the door calling to ask if whoever was inside was all right or if they
needed assistance. This was all a formality of sorts because Bradley had recognized the pants and
shoes before he ever got near the stall. They belonged to Chuck the Weasel.

When he opened the door, he wasn’t surprised to see Chuck on the floor with his pants
down around his ankles, obviously dead. There was a pool of blood spreading across the floor
under him. The body didn’t appear wounded in any way, but the blood was seeping out of him
from somewhere. Perhaps it was some sort of a rectal hemorrhage if something like that existed;
Bradley didn’t know. However, it was now with certainty that Bradley realized he had done
exactly what he had set out to do. He had killed Chuck and with only the power of his words.
In the case of Bill Emmerson, it had been an accident, something he had never imagined
would have happened. But with Chuck, it had been deliberate. Bradley hated Chuck, and the
thought of him becoming the boss was more than he could tolerate. True, it had just been
something of an experiment he didn’t believe would work, but Bradley had wished Chuck were
dead with every single word he had written in his detailed description. Now Chuck was dead.
What sort of incredible power did he have? And from where had that power so mysteriously and
suddenly originated?

Thomas M. Malafarina

” I’m not really a writer; I’m just a secretary transcribing the ideas that clog my mind, in a futile hope of relieving the pressure of a never-ceasing flood of creativity.”  Thomas M. Malafarina

Thomas M. Malafarina ( is an author of horror fiction from Berks County, Pennsylvania. To date he has published seven horror novels  “What Waits Beneath”, “Burner”, “From The Dark” , “Circle Of Blood”,  “Dead Kill Book 1: The Ridge of Death”, “Dead Kill Book 2: The Ridge Of Change” and “Dead Kill Book 3: The Ridge Of War”. He has published seven collections of horror short stories; “Thirteen Deadly Endings”, “Ghost Shadows”, “Undead Living” “Malaformed Realities Vol. 1, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3” and most recently “Horror Classics”. He has also published a book of often-strange single panel cartoons called “Yes I Smelled It Too; Cartoons For The Slightly Off Center”. All of his books are published through Hellbender Books, an imprint of Sunbury Press.(

In addition, many of Thomas’ stories have appeared in anthologies and e-magazines. Some have been produced and presented for internet podcasts and radio plays as well. Thomas has shared anthology pages with some of the biggest names in horror fiction such as Jack Ketchum, Joe Lansdale, Jonathan Maberry and Luck McKee to name a few.

Thomas is best known for the twists and surprises in his stories as well as his descriptive, often gory passages. Thomas is also an artist, musician, singer and songwriter. A native of Ashland, PA he now lives in Western Berks County, Pennsylvania along with his wife JoAnne.

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