You Think You’re Dying of Cyanide Poisoning?

Visions of his own death at any second—that’s all the boy can see in the dark as he lies on his back. That and the news report he had seen while passing through the front room to play outside near dusk. He could see bottles of the soda Slice being pulled off the shelves.



“Did you get a drink at the movie today with the Ranes?”

“Yeah. I got a giant Coke. And I got peanut m&m’s. You?”

“I got Slice and Reese’s Pieces.”

“Sounds good.”

“Think there was any cyanide in the Slice?”

“What’s that?”

“It’s poison.”

“You think there was poison in the Slice?”

“There was a report on the news that bottles of Slice were being pulled off the shelves because someone said cyanide had been put in them.”

“No way.”

“Yeah. And it happened with Tylenol a while back. Someone poisoned Tylenol and kids and people died.”

“Do you think you’re gonna die?”

“I don’t know. My stomach kind of hurts.”

“Oh man. You should tell Mom.”

“She hates it when we get out of bed. Plus she says I always imagine this stuff.”

“It was on the news?”


“I think you should tell her.”

He stews in bed. What were the chances? It was just his overactive imagination again, right? But what if he just never woke up? And it was on the news!

Finally, he slowly moves out of bed. “I’m gonna ask Mom.”

“Dude, I hope it’s all ok.”

He moves slowly down the hallway, the knot in his stomach tightening, a wave of nausea passing over him. Maybe this was it! Eight years old and dead of cyanide poisoning in San Antonio, Texas! Imagine the news reports!

He slowly pushes the sliding door open.


She’s on the sofa, folding clothes as something plays on TV.

“For crying out loud, what are you doing out of bed?”

“Mom, please. Just listen. This is serious.”

“Hurry up!”

“There was a report on the news that someone put cyanide in Slice today.”


“Well, I had Slice at the movies today.”

“And now you think you’re dying of cyanide poisoning?”

“I don’t know, but my stomach kind of hurts.”

“Good heavens, son! Go get back in bed. If you had drunk cyanide you’d be dead by now.”


“Yes. It kills you very quickly. You convulse and foam at the mouth. Are you foaming at the mouth?”


“Then get your little butt back in bed and don’t bug me again.”

He turns back toward his room, the knot in his stomach gone, a lightness in his step.

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