While weighing the pros and cons of offering sample chapters of my as-of-yet-unpublished works of fiction on this website, it occurred to me that there could be little harm in posting—and, effectually, publishing—a short story that could never be published anywhere other than a blog.
- I will not profit in any way from this story, which features copyrighted characters. Think of it as fan fiction from a time before fan fiction was commonplace.
- I wrote this story in early 1997 for a high school creative writing class. It does not reflect my current writing skills, voice and aspirations. It does, however, shed some insight on my sense of humor.
And so, without further ado…
Morning Meal Mayhem: Battle of the Breakfast Cereal Icons
Very seldom do the mascots of popular breakfast foods come together in a single place. We have all seen these characters on strategically placed commercials on Saturday mornings and after school, advertising their respective products—their individual claims to fame. They come from different brands. Their cereals boast quality and nutrition; they are all “part of a complete breakfast.” But forget catchy slogans and free prizes. Today, none of them are cordial, generous, or even civil.
Today is the Battle of the Breakfast Cereal Icons.
It doesn’t matter if you work for Kellogg’s, Post, General Mills, or some other less reputable brand. This day decides the ultimate champion of mornings’ meal. There can be only one winner in this royal rumble.
The big money is on Tony the Tiger of Frosted Flakes fame. His athletic background and physical prowess is impressive and imposing. The cat’s size alone is enough to give any opponent second thoughts. Walking tall and proud (on two legs not four), the gigantic tiger is one of the first to enter the arena.
Close behind Tony are the Alphabits, on whom many have placed their bets; after all, there are twenty-six of them. We all know that there is strength in numbers, but keep in mind that the representatives of Alphabits Cereal are actually enlarged versions of the crispy cereal pieces. In other words, the Alphabits Army is not known for its endurance.
Another team-up enters the ring. The three sprite-like fighters from Rice Krispies are truly a force to be reckoned with. Snap, Crackle, and Pop have been working together for years, so their enemies had better beware. Some fools will bet on losers such as Toucan Sam or Sonny (from Froot Loops and Cocoa Puffs respectively) simply because the pay-out will be so great if by some miracle they would win. But despite visible advantages and favoring odds, it is still anyone’s game.
The battle begins. Right off the bat, many of the combatants—mostly from the generic brands—are tossed out of the arena and automatically disqualified. The birds take to the air, hoping to evade the battles until the ground units take away some of the pressure by eliminating the overwhelming numbers. Toucan Sam is undone by the agile and acrobatic monkey mascot of Cocoa Krispies, but the animal soon finds himself being flung past the boundaries as blue diamonds, red balloons, green clovers, and purple horseshoes pelt him from all directions.
But Lucky the Leprechaun (the icon of Lucky Charms) does not watch his back. Lucky as well as Count Chacula, Digum (from Honey Smacks), Cornelius (the rooster from Kellogg’s Corn Flakes), and a few others, are trampled beneath the boots of the military men known as only as the Alphabits. Slowly but surely, the literary soldiers make their way through the masses, leaving a trail of colorful cartoons in their wake.
The Alphabits advance is soon stopped short, however, as Cap’n Crunch orders his crunch berries to destroy the crispy letters. Meanwhile, the Cookie Cop (from Cookie Crisp) knocks his foes left and right with his steel baton, and the Bee (from Honey Nut Cheerios) stings unwary mascots with uncanny accuracy.
Wendell the Baker was originally one of three culinary artists who advertised Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The truth of what really happened may never be known, yet the murderous gleam in the old man’s eyes this day makes one wonder if Wendell hadn’t offed them when no one was looking. Today, he wields a long knife and lurks around the fringe of the ring, silently slashing out at unsuspecting contenders.
At the other end of the arena, Tony the Tiger tosses Sugar Bear and the duet from Bedrock (Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble) far from the legal borders of the battlefield. Neither the representative of Super Golden Crisp nor those of Fruity Pebbles will take first place this year.
No one notices the Trix Rabbit. Perhaps no one thinks a cute and passive bunny rabbit could ever pose a serious threat. In the stands the Rabbit can see his costars, those children who taunt him day after day with their “Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids!” litany. Soon crimson flames replace the pinkish hue of the bunny’s countenance. He snaps as all the rage and hate pent up inside him flows unbounded. Razor-sharp claws slash through a cuckoo bird, an Irish policeman, and a distracted sea captain. As the last crunch berry and Alphabit warrior falls to the ground, so too does the seaman known only as Cap’n Crunch.
But Tony the Tiger is ready for the rabid rabbit, and the wild cat’s own claws extend and twitch in anticipation. Seeing the tiger awaiting him in an anxious stance, the Trix Rabbit’s frenzy reaches a new level of ferocity. Tony easily parries, blocks, and dodges the deranged hare’s slaughtering slashes. In their bloodlust, neither animal remembers the few remaining foes. A powerful swing of the Tony’s mighty tail sends the Rabbit to the ground. The wind knocked from his lungs, the Rabbit is helpless as the orange and black predator pounces on him.
The Trix Rabbit is no longer an eligible contestant.
In the midst of the melee, Crackle kneels over his fallen brother. Snap’s head rests at an impossible angle, and while he realizes that his kin is an invincible cartoon, he cannot help but agonize over the temporary loss. He turns too late as a rolling pin makes contact with his kerchief-clad head. Pop, the third of the elfish triplets, laughs, knowing he will never be underestimated again by his older brothers. His stolen glory is short-lived, for he, too, is attacked from behind, and falls to the ground beside Snap and Crackle.
The buzz of insect wings and the wound from his sting is the only evidence of the Honey Bee’s mischief.
Stalking the circumference of the arena, Tony’s feral eyes shift from left to right. Although he sees no enemies remaining, he knows that he is not alone. Were he the sole survivor of the scrimmage, he would already hear the trumpets and gongs heralding his victory, declaring him the champion over all the other gladiators. Tony hears no horns or cheers, only the telltale hum of a low-flying bug.
Tony dives out of the way, narrowly avoiding the Bee’s razor-sharp rear-end. Relying on his supreme feline hunting skills, Tony attempts to squash the annoying insect. Suddenly, he recalls his Achilles’ heel: All cats are allergic to bee stings.
With a burst of speed, Tony puts a good distance between him and his rival. He tries to clear his mind, pushing back his primal urges and warrior’s instinct in order think of a plan. Then he notices the heavy hat of the fallen Cap’n at his feet. Squinting in concentration, Tony launches the blue headpiece like a Frisbee.
The Honey Nut Cheerios hero easily avoids the missile, but the hat was not meant to hit the bee. Instead the Cap’n’s cap crashes into one of the many statues that line the arena, causing it to tip. An empty bowl (the bowl that is to be filled with the cereal of the winner), two huge slices of toast, and a monstrous pitcher of milk fall from the platform. The Bee realizes his peril too late. His wings wet from the calcium-fortified flood, the Bee is no longer able to fly. The Bee flounders pathetically, but he cannot escape Tony. Using the Cookie Cop’s black baton, Tony bashes his final adversary into a pulp of unrecognizable ichor.
Tony the Tiger has won the match.
Within minutes, everyone is back to normal due to the miracles of animation. Those who had been Tony’s enemies not two minutes ago now congratulate him on his victory. Frosted Flakes is poured into a new ceremonial bowl. The crowd roars, and as a flag with the emblem of Tony’s head rises to great heights, the athletic tiger exclaims, “They’re Gr-r-r-reat!”
Soon, the spectators stream from the arena, speaking in excited tones about the day’s events and already making predictions for next year’s Battle of the Breakfast Cereal Icons.