Age Range: 12 and up
Approx. Length: 9,230 Words
A ninety-eight-pound weakling orders cereal hyped by a once-famous athlete. During the mayhem that ensues, he discovers heroes aren’t always what they seem. And the prize at the bottom of the box might be more of a surprise. Poor Ned winds up in a horror story by Lori R. Lopez!
He just wanted to improve a few things about himself and impress a girl. The product that was supposed to transform him “Like Ike” has some serious and disturbing side-effects. In fact, the small print on the back of the cereal box neglected to warn him its secret ingredient works too well. Or maybe it’s that the prize inside appears to be cursed. Like the saying goes, be careful what you wish for!
Look for the author’s horror collection Odds And Ends, containing Cereal Box Surprise!
Terrified, yowling, he struggled to keep it together mentally and emotionally as his body experienced drastic alterations. Physically? The poor guy didn’t know where it would end. Or if he would survive.
~ from Cereal Box Surprise
It was one of those moments he would remember. The kind that stood frozen in a block of ice — loominous — preserved like a mastodon with such grave clarity you could glimpse its ultimate breath. Hearing the knock, opening the door, his sense of excitement as he grasped the oversized carton being thrust toward him by a faceless delivery guy. He would never forget that instant of rapture. Although he was expecting the package, it felt like Christmas or his birthday to gleefully pry loose the top, separate flaps and dig through Styrofoam peanuts.
Jumbled within were fifty boxes of Frooties cereal. He checked the invoice. It was all there. He had waited eagerly, anxious for the order to arrive. It symbolized hope. Finally he would be taken seriously! At his job and at his mother’s house — where the uncle who sneered and pushed him around, called Ned a pipsqueak and wussy and far worse behind his mom’s back, would have to grant him respect. That was key, an important goal, but not his principle objective.
He wanted a girl to notice him. A honey-skinned bookworm who read as voraciously as he did. She was so pretty, yet not too attractive that it was inconceivable she could love him. Or too gorgeous that he would constantly have to worry about men stealing her. Dina was just right, he felt. Except that he couldn’t catch her eye or chat with her after the book club they attended weekly. Partly for fear she would reject him. Also due to being intensely shy. In truth, she didn’t act interested. Why should she? To be honest, every guy in the group was vying for her approval, so he needed to change. Which was exactly what the spokesman for this cereal advised.
“Sad and lonely picture of a man, this is what Ms Lopez hands us this time, so wonderfully portrayed I felt like kicking his butt.
As the bought, consumed and promised juju works its magic so our little wimp is transformed and goes on the rampage… but of course with Ms Lopez there is always the sting in the tale!
Loved the image of an inner monster leaking into the outside.
Fantastically wicked ending.”
The Fluffy Red Fox Reviews; Amazon Review
“This story grabbed me because most people can relate. Everyone who is unhappy with themselves are looking for the next great thing to make us look better, feel better or just to give us the most amazing body ever. Well, unfortunately for our main character, Ned, he not only gets pulled into the hype of the next best thing, it really works!!!! . . . You will have to read this story to find out what happens to Ned. Does he live? Does he find happiness? Most of all after you read this will you be able to eat cereal without this story popping in to your mind?”
“It is always a pleasure to read the latest from Lori Lopez. And Cereal Box Surprise was no exception. The rhythm and narrative flow read like an EC Comics story, with its descriptions that cried for frames drawn by artists like Wally Wood or Jack Davis. The story tells of Ned, a 98 pound weakling not unknown in the 1950s when Charles Atlas graced the ads in comic books across America, promising homely males to become the “man” they long to become . . .
Lori captures the character’s self-loathing with a tongue-in-cheek voice. Lori shows a playful narrative style, the other side to her prosaic prose that tells her darker tales. Here she takes a serious subject (enhancement drug abuse in major league sports) and fashions a whimsical voice to underline its dangerous results and risks. It was also nice to see in the story a “Curandero” (male witches that can either be good or bad) make it into the story. Structurally, the story is a change of pace for Lori that displays her versatile talent for telling tales with a wide range of voices.”
Servante Of Darkness Blog; Amazon Review
“A short story should have a bit of an intro and story to get the plot moving and things happening. This gets done, and the author takes the reader to the places in the story.”