"Fortified with 8 essential Vitamins and Minerals!" Johnny studied the words on the back of the cereal box. Was eight enough? How many "essential" vitamins and minerals were there, and was he receiving his fair share? He thought about the number and types of minerals in the world. Surely there were far more than eight. The same could probably be said for vitamins. Were they all essential? What did they all do? By not receiving more than the mere eight provided by his bland tasting Cheerios, was he careening towards an early grave? Did his mother know about this? "I bet she does, that bitch," Johnny thought contemptuously.

Cheerios: One Child at a Time
The eradication has begun.
Johnny knew his mother's medicine cabinet was filled with all sorts of bottles containing things he couldn't even begin to pronounce, and he figured some of those were the precious, life-giving vitamins and minerals she was keeping for herself. She was poisoning him through a careful process of withholding things that would ensure his healthy development, and she was expediting the process by systematically removing the things that would keep him from rotting inside-out like some deranged Jack-O-Lantern that sat on the porch long past Halloween.

It was at that moment he realized how much he hated her.

"This cereal doesn't even taste good," he thought, "the least she could do is present me with something that doesn't remind me of chewing through a cardboard box to get to the candy inside, except here there is no candy inside. Only death."

Johnny figured it mattered not what he ingested, that what didn't kill him would only make him stronger.His mother came into the room, smiled, and asked him whether or not he was finished with breakfast. She seemed sincere and cheerful enough, yet Johnny could only assume she was a seasoned pro. How many children had she duped before? Johnny did not speak, but instead looked at his mother, slowly tipped the box towards his bowl, and replenished the near empty reservoir that contained only a half-inch of now fortified milk.

"No, mother," Johnny thought to himself, "I am not finished. I haven't even started."

Just moments before, as his wretched matriarch assumed her character and prepared to enter the kitchen, Johnny was filled with a sense of resolve, a determination to institute a strict policy of self-preservation that sought to barricade him from the inevitable decay of malnourishment. By having that second bowl, he was in essence doubling his intake of those eight pathetic vitamins and minerals that his body deemed necessary, and while he knew there was no way it was enough to stave off her wicked plan, it was something.

She didn't try to stop him, but instead retreated to the living room, presumably to re-evaluate her strategy should he be willing to go the distance. Johnny choked down his disgusting slop and felt slightly triumphant which, if nothing else, gave him hope. He began to formulate an elaborate scheme in which he would request a bowl of tasteless Cheerios with each meal, followed by late night raids of his mother's medicine cabinet. He figured it mattered not what he ingested, that what didn't kill him would only make him stronger.

As his mother read to him that night, he would perform light, almost unnoticeable calisthenics to prevent the destructive onset of arthritis. Did she think he really cared to listen to some nameless drone laboriously saying "goodnight" to each and every inanimate object in his god-forsaken house? Perhaps she was simply trying to project the same type of insanity upon her son, until Johnny was so mad with delirium he practically begged to be slaughtered.

It wouldn't work. He knew better than anyone that it made no sense to bid farewell to one's possessions on a nightly basis. They had no souls and the effort was wasted. He would outwit her psychological warfare and resist her digestive assaults as long as there was breath left in his sixty-pound frame. He knew not how he would escape his prison, but he trusted himself enough that when the time came, he would recognize the opportunity. As he stared at the box of Cheerios, he felt overwhelmed by the weight of what loomed before him. It was a lot for a five-year-old to take in.