The cheap movie tie-in toy promised on the cereal box wasn’t what Marlon found when he sunk his hand into the new Honey Puff packet and groped about, the sticky puffs of wheat clinging softly to his skin like insect eggs. His hand rising out of the cereal box like an amusement park claw clutched a small set of cards wrapped in cellophane. Marlon brushed the last tenacious puffs from his forearm and set about tearing the wrapper from the cards.
He flipped through the deck of four and his brow furrowed. Scanned them again to check they were what he thought they were. He laid them out on the table next to his empty bowl and stared at them.
‘You finished breakfast yet Marlon?’ his mother called from upstairs. ‘You’ll be late if you’re not careful.’
Her words sent a chill up his spine and he stacked the cards and stuffed them in his blazer pocket.
Marlon didn’t go to school that day. Instead he headed to the den by the canal. In the rubble of the old lock cabin, hidden from view, he prepared a fire with some twigs and matches stolen from the kitchen at home. Once the little fire was burning he pulled the cards out from his blazer and flipped through them again. Though he was older in the pictures he recognised himself. Each picture showed him dead and each one was part of a set of one hundred.
The first, number 29, showed him as a young adult disappearing under the wheels of lorry that had run a red light. The second, number 47, showed a middle-aged Marlon washing up on a beach, his skin white and wrinkled from days in the water. The third, number 62, a picture of him burning in a house fire, an old man trapped and banging on an upstairs window as flames snaked up his pyjama trousers. The last, number 10, showed Marlon looking his age, choking on a spoonful of Honey Puffs, the cartoon character on the box pointing and laughing as his face turned blue.
Marlon burned each picture slowly, watched each one curl and blacken and die before starting on the next. He decided it best not to tell his Mum about the cards. He would ask her not to buy Honey Puffs again though.
In this way Marlon Flutter, aged ten, became truly aware of his own mortality.
18 Responses to Marlon Flutter and the free gift of death – #fridayflash
Good to know the Garbage Pail Kids are making a comeback.
Sorry… I had to! And it looks like my joke exploded in your comments section, so I’m doubly sorry.
Grim, but that’s fine. I think more children should learn about mortality earlier. I wonder if he finished his cereal despite the last card.
I’d forgotten about the Garbage Pail Kids. Or more probably, they were deep down in my subconscious as I wrote this. I can see why you would think of them while reading this, John.
And I think Marlon may well never eat cereal again.
And I fixed the comment surplus. 🙂
cereal’s a pretty poor breakfast – no protein to speak of, generally.
Now is he going to spend the rest of hs life avoiding large bodies of water, traffic lights etc…?
It works well as a short piece but I think you could work a lot more out of this creepy concept!
Marlon is a character I am tempted to return to soon. This piece is certainly a sliver of a larger whole, I think.
A can definitely see this as a small piece of the whole. Poor Marlon. It would be tough to find the guts to go out the door after that breakfast.
Such a great short piece that is decidedly creepy, almost Twilight Zone in the way innocence is subverted.
Forced to face your own mortality at such a young age; wonder if he gets to choose which card brings about his death.
Gosh I always knew that revolting cereal was dangerous, but not this scary 🙂
I’m thinking you don’t need that last line…I think we got the picture (from his pictures!) from the build-up.
Changed cereals lately?
Haha I love this idea.
I was wondering if you were leading up to a ‘history repeating itself’ type scenario at the end, with maybe all packets of said cereal containing the same ‘gift’…
I also wondered if he’d received a set of tarot cards.
Anyway, a creepy idea all round. Who would want to know what the moment of their death is goint to be like?
Clever concept, I liked the simile of the honey puffs clinging to him like insect eggs
I like this kid. I’m not so sure I could handle seeing the details of my death(s) in such a calm fashion.
He’s certainly wise beyond his years. I like the secret den by the canal. Great concept that works well like this or there’s plenty of room to expand – I’d love to learn more about this kid and what mysterious force is presenting him with these cards. Cool story.
Very good story. He’s a tough kid, facing all that on his own, not telling Mom. I want to know who’s putting those cards in the cereal in the first place.
This really could be excellent as an expanded piece. Nice job.
Wow, that is REALLY different. Very creepy. Imagine seeing all the ways you could die…probably the most grisly find I’ve read so far! Great flash.
Great story and very creepy. I think seeing yourself on a variety of collecting cards, each one showing a different way to die, would most definitely freak you out, regardless of your age.
What a great concept, I love it. I also love the way that he burns them, I found myself wondering if that meant they couldn’t come true.. funny what these flashes make us think, eh?
Very cool story. I remember fondly digging through the cereal to find the prize at the bottom, and having the especially sugary ones stick to my hand. Of course, the prize at the bottom was never something like this. Well done!
Superb original piece, Dan. I really enjoyed this. I wondered if they would be tarot cards at first, but photo cards of his own future life and deaths was better, and more imaginative, by far.
And what presence he has to coolly burn the deck! You’ve found quite a character here.
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