Snap and Crackle

An essay by Doctor Rufus Highgate, as provided by Maureen Bowden
Art by Scarlett O’Hairdye

My receptionist bounced through the doorway without knocking. “The new one’s arrived, Doc. He’s a jitterer. D’ya want a slug of Mother’s Ruin before I haul him in?”

I sighed. “Please show our patients some respect, Becki, and no, I don’t require alcohol-induced euphoria in order to cope with a phobia sufferer. I’m fully in control.”

She shrugged. “Whatever you say, but you know where the bottle is, and if a tooth and claw situation develops, yell, and I’ll come a-running.”

She bellowed into the waiting room, “Edwin Pollock. In here, now.”

He shuffled up to my desk. She hovered behind him, ready to spring to my defence if he displayed anti-social tendencies. I said, “Sit down, Mr Pollock. Becki, close the door on your way out.” She slammed it. The patient flinched, then sat.

“Relax,” I said. “I’m here to help. May I call you Edwin?”

He nodded. “You don’t have any breakfast cereal in here, do you?”

“No. Do you want some?”

“What? No. Keep it away from me.” He trembled, and broke into sobs.

“Ah, I understand.”

“Do you? I wish I did.”

“You’re suffering from manifrumentaphobia.”

“What’s that?”

“Literally, fear of morning grain, in other words, breakfast cereals.”

“Can you cure me?”

“If you trust me and co-operate fully, I believe I can.”

Art for "Snap and Crackle"

“I had nightmares about thousands of them, climbing out of cereal boxes, hiding under fridges and in cupboards, waiting to pounce and kill us all.”

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2017 collection.

Dr Rufus Highgate obtained his doctorate through the Open University. He is a renowned psychologist and leading expert in phobias. In 2016, he suffered a psychotic episode, and is currently receiving treatment as an in-patient at Grassendale Mental Health Clinic. It is expected that he will remain there for some time.

Maureen Bowden is a Liverpudlian living with her musician husband in North Wales. She has had eighty-four stories and poems accepted for publication by paying markets. Silver Pen publishers nominated one of her stories for the 2015 international Pushcart Prize. She also writes song lyrics, mostly comic political satire, set to traditional melodies. Her husband has performed these in Folk clubs throughout England and Wales. She loves her family and friends, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Shakespeare, and cats.

Scarlett O’Hairdye is a burlesque performer, producer and artist. To learn more, visit her site at

“Snap and Crackle” is © 2015 Maureen Bowden
Art accompanying story is © 2017 Scarlett O’Hairdye

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