TUESDAY: Cereal Killers


Copyright is held by the author.

THEY WERE responsible for killing off the dinosaurs. Small, they were, not quite microscopic, but about the size of a dust mote. Roundish, with little bumps, pale in colour, their mouths opening their little bodies to almost 90 degrees. Teeth. Tiny teeth, granted, maybe even microscopic, depending on your definition of microscopic, but 10,000 teeth in those little mouths and a million, two million, 20 million of those little creatures attacking an animal at once? — that animal was history. The dinosaurs, literally. And since something that is 85 percent microscopic teeth does not leave a fossil record, this is the first you’ve heard of them.

They swarmed, the little things, in the hundreds of millions, but fortunately there were only six or seven swarms on the planet at any given time, down through a billion years of history. Still, their influence was seen — where do you think extinctions came from? Any given species that goes extinct is extinct from a certain area, ever notice?  Even if dogs went extinct in China, we’d still have dogs in North America. It’s not “environmental” stuff, it’s a swarm of these things, settling on a food source they like until it’s gone. Then they move on.

And it happened, oh not so long ago, that a swarm of them found their way to rice plantations in Louisiana. With a billion years of evolution behind them, they were tough, oh yeah, they were survivors, they lived through the threshing and the crushing and the baking and the processing and the packaging and the dosing with preservatives and the long weeks and months on the store shelves.

And it happened once, then twice, and then a hundred times, that someone opened a box and poured out the processed rice where the little things waited and doused them with milk which didn’t drown them and then swallowed a spoonful of the little buggers.

And then they went to work with a hundred million little teeth.

Snap. Crackle. Pop.


Elliott is the author of the comic whodunit novels The Corps Vanishes and Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, the blackly-comic murder cozy Authors’ Rep, and the collection of shaggy dogs, Damn the Torn Speedos! Full Speed Ahead! Pending a lottery or PCH win, he lives in New Jersey with his first wife.