Snap, Crackle, Blergh.

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #151 for April 16th, 2010

While digging in a cereal box for the toy surprise, a child makes a grisly discovery.

Jackson rubbed the sleep from his eyes and padded down the hallway towards the kitchen.  The morning had ticked over into double digits, which was the prescribed time that an almost thirteen year old boy should emerge from his hiding hole.  He still wore his flannelette Superman pyjamas and matching slippers.

From the kitchen he collected the necessary utensils and cutlery to make breakfast.  He sat down at the table across from the television and surfed for Saturday morning cartoons.  He moved the cereal box between himself and the television and looked at the proclamation at the top right hand corner.  Contains one “Secret Agent Decoder Ring and Badge” said the packet.

Jackson had a rule, slightly unorthodox as it was.  The rule was that the surprise toy or gift must not be scrummaged for; it must fall from the box during the pouring of cereal.  Only that way would it truly be a surprise.  Scrummaging was for those who had no discipline, like sisters.  Especially his sister, Celia.

Today’s the day, thought Jackson, calculating how many bowls he had consumed, their relative volume and what was left in the box.  He chanced a peek and saw the plastic edge jutting out like a shark’s dorsal fin in a sea of cereal.

Out of the box tumbled golden flakes of sugar-encrusted breakfast-y goodness.  Jackson waited and poured.  And poured.  The bowl filled half-way.  Three-quarters.  Edging towards full.  It was almost at Jackson’s Point of No Return where the adding of milk would cause an overflow onto the table.  And you didn’t want to get Mum offside if you spoiled her clean tablecloth.  One final shake.  Light caught the plastic and reflected like a diamond as it dropped in slow motion.

Jackson looked down as his prize with the anticipation of Indiana Jones.  He even licked his lips.

Option A

Jackson let fly with a string of invective that would have made the school bully blush.

“Jackson, what caused you to say such a thing?” said his mother.

“All week I have been waiting for my Secret Agent Decoder Ring and Badge and all of a sudden I find I have a girl’s doll dress up set.  I’ve been had.  I’ve been swindled.  I’ve been set-up.  I am going to email the breakfast cereal company and demand to know why my breakfast cereal box contained a Belle of the Ball Dress Up Set and not my Secret Agent Decoder Ring and Badge.”

His mother nodded, “Just don’t use that type of language.  You can help me with the washing as punishment this afternoon.”

In her bedroom, Celia tried on her Secret Agent Decoder Ring and Badge and thought it looked rather nice with her fancy dress ensemble for Stephanie’s party that night.

Option B

Sitting atop his sugar crusted flakes was a small vacuum-sealed bag.  A long finger pointed accusingly at Jackson.  Just above the cleanly cut stump was a simple gold band.

“Mum, I think you need to come and see this!”

His mother came into the kitchen with a questioning look, which suddenly brightened up.

“So that’s where I put it.  I must be more careful when disposing of ex-husbands.  How careless of me.  Let me take that from you.”

She scooped it from the bowl and put it into the pocket of her apron.  Jackson stared at his bowl before pushing it away.


12 responses to “Snap, Crackle, Blergh.

  1. Again, cheating with Fiction Friday’s prompt (see here: TWO endings . I’ve done this before with a shorter piece – The Date
    I had a third option, but decided that it was too long to fit in here. Also, it was too similar in its denouement to a previous draft I had posted.
    After a few prompts that have had a teenage protagonist, I’m thinking that YA fiction might be an area I could explore for a novel. Any thoughts from my regular readers?

  2. I thought the piece was excellent up until the optional endings. Jackson was a believable almost 13 year old having breakfast in superman pajamas. The part about the prize falling out of the box was very good, I used to do that myself.

    Option A didn’t feel like it fit at all. All of a sudden the boy is slinging vulgarities like a sailor and talking about emailing the corporate headquarters of the cereal company. It felt like in an instant the boy had the mentality of someone several years his elder.

    Option B was my favorite of the two but still didn’t feel like a proper fit. If the woman took the care to place a finger in a vacuum sealed bag, how could she manage to misplace it in a box of cereal where her son could so easily find it? Not only that, she buried it in the box so that 3/4 of a bowl had to be poured out before the finger came tumbling out.

    Again, I think the piece was very good up until the optional endings. Neither option felt as though it was the same quality as the story that lead up to it.

    Thanks for the read

  3. Fair call, Walt. Cheers for the honest feedback.

  4. I believe you have a knack for seeing the world through the eyes of a teenage and it is reflected in your writing. I say go with what you know and enjoy. The story was wonderful until the end but like Walt I was a little let down. I think the finger was a good touch but needed a little editing. Since you alread mentioned the sister in option A, maybe she could have stolen his prize and let something disgusting in its place?

  5. I forgot it was fiction friday! Wait… today is Thursday. 😉

    I like this story, but I felt it felt a little short at the end but I love the theme. As soon as I read the prompt I had to read the story.

  6. Must have found the magic “suck” button somewhere on the keyboard. Meh. That’s the way the metaphor crumbles.

  7. You just don’t have that morbid mind twist some of us freaks have. Nothing wrong with that!

  8. I think I’m going to disagree with most of the things said. I really liked ending A. I actually laughed out loud (not good when sat on reception), it is so something I would’ve done to my younger brother. Excellent.

    Although I liked ending B, I think it threw up too many questions, did the boy know his mother had killed his father?

    I agree about the pyjamas – I don’t think a 13 year old boy would have superman on them, but then I’ve never been a 13 yo boy, so I’m not in the place to say anything.

    I think you should definitely try some YA stuff, the description of him getting up was great.

  9. I actually prefer Option A, mainly because I can completely sympathise with his sister. Hurrah for breaking gender stereotypes!

  10. I agree with option A. I liked the build up of anticipation as he’s pouring his cereal. It’s something I can picture myself doing as a kid.

  11. Like several of the other commenters I can’t somehow see a teen age boy in Superman jim jams, but I really liked the story and felt the first ending sat better with the start. Interesting!

  12. I stand by my original idea that a 12 year old (he’s “almost thirteen”) could wear Superman jammys. Now to go and put on my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle jim jams and have a nice cup of warm milk and a choc chip biscuit.

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