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Horror Mystery Science Fiction

      Most people were devasted by the drought and praying for rain, but I felt much safer in those months of dry weather. The lack of rain meant the death of the deadly mushroom demons, and therefore a period of relative security and calm in my life. I’m not foolish though. I knew those dehydrated and weakened mushroom monsters were releasing their spores, creating their water vapor, and struggling to bring about their life supply of rain so they could terrorize me again. Any day now they might be successful. They might create the spores that finally break the dry spell. When they returned to power, quickly and fiercely like they always did, all I could do was be ready.

           This all started one day when I decided to hike through the rain drenched forest. The moist weather had been endless, and I couldn’t handle being cooped up indoors any longer. I also vaguely remember being sad over something. I don’t want to remember that. I came across a patch of colorful mushrooms. A whole rainbow assortment of colors in fact. These mushrooms looked like the kind you’d find on some psychedelic-hippie-music poster. At first, they endeared me. They waved side to side doing a joyful little rain dance. I heard a chorus of tiny, tinny voices. A wave of strong earthy scent reached my nose and created a tingling sensation that made me sneeze violently. This was the first warning sign, but at that moment their charm held me captive and I didn’t recognize it for what it was. The next thing I knew, I found myself being drawn closer to them. Once they surrounded my ankles, I screamed in pain as their sharp little teeth pierced into my flesh. The rain helps them grow into alluring little tricksters, but blood is what grows them into ravenous monsters. 

           I barely escaped, clawing at dirt, lunging at tree roots to pull my body, and kicking frantically. I tossed soil in their menacing little eyes, but they basked in it and laughed gleefully. Nothing makes them happier than a mud shower.

           It didn’t take long for them to transform either. In the time it took for me to struggle free, they had gone from petite, long stemmed mushrooms, to bulging, bulbous creatures. I wondered if they might explode as they expanded at rapid speed. The massive, protruding vampire fangs have haunted my nightmares ever since.

           As soon as I was free, I fled at a speed I never knew I could run at. Once out of the woods, I gasped for air and hunched over with my hands on my knees desperately willing the sharp pain ripping through my lungs to vanish. Blood covered my sneakers. Teeth marks surrounded my leg. 

           Once I regained my composure, I headed home. There on my front lawn, I saw a collection of red mushrooms dancing side to side. I heard that familiar high-pitched soprano of voices and smelled that now horrendous earthy scent. I fainted.

           I woke up in a bright, white room. I panicked at the thought that they had pulled me into their lair or tore apart my limbs. I looked down to see my legs bandaged, but in place. I wore a hospital gown and had kicked off my blanket. My arms were bandaged too, so I knew those suckers had gotten their teeth in me before whoever rescued me. I’d later learn a neighbor saw me collapse and called an ambulance.

           The doctors said I was severely dehydrated and had poison in my system. They suspected I ate a poisonous mushroom. When I tried to tell them that, no, the mushrooms had in fact been eating me, they looked concerned. Though I soon learned that concern was for my sanity and not for the harrowing mushroom debacle I had survived. There was also concern over the number of times I had visited the hospital with injuries that year, but I didn't want to talk about that. Accident prone I told them.

           Several months later, Shauna, Curtis, and I were playing a board game in my living room. The drought had lasted this whole time, but now I saw the gray clouds from out my window.

           “The rain is coming,” I whispered, my voice shaky with fear.

           “C’mon, Micah. It’s time to stop with this mushroom stuff. Maybe you need a new therapist,” Shauna sighed while moving her piece six steps forward.

           “Tell me where they are again. Sounds like one hell of a trip. Maybe being near them was enough to get high,” Curtis laughed while rolling the dice.

           “That’s what everyone thinks. Like mushrooms are so innocent. Even if you don’t believe me, have you heard about the Death Cap mushrooms? Amanita phalloides if you prefer. Only six to twelve hours after consuming them and you’d be in a world of suffering with puking your guts out, bloody diarrhea, and intense abdominal pain. Can even mess up your central nervous system and blood sugar. They can put you in a coma or kill you. Mushrooms are not innocent.” I insisted.

           Shauna shook her head and drank her beer like she was trying to drown me out. She didn’t believe me. Who would want to? Curtis, on the hand, smiled that mischievous, scheming smile of his. 

           “Sounds like a rough night,” he shrugged.

           “Rough night? I told you they kill you. Same with conocybe filaris. Looks like food poisoning or stomach flu but can lead to liver and kidney failure. Mushrooms may not look like much, but they're capable of a lot of harm.”

           “Alright, enough of this.” Shauna put her hands up.

           “Soon as that rain hits, I’m looking for ‘em, man. Sounds like profit to me.” Curtis rubbed his hands together.

           “Don’t!” I pounded my fists on the table to assert my seriousness and the pieces on the board game tumbled out of place.

           “You’re both ridiculous,” Shauna groaned. “Do you want me to call the doctor, Micah?”

           “Why?” No more doctors.

           “You seem upset.”

           The scent of rain filled the air. It was coming. They were coming.

           “I need to destroy them.”

           Shauna rolled her eyes. “And how are you going to destroy all the mushrooms? Some are good you know. Some have amazing health benefits.”

           “They want you to think that. They’re not good.”

           Curtis broke out into a fit of laughter. “Dude, this is─”

           “Laugh all you want but stay away from them.”

           I turned to the window and saw glistening drops of rain clinging to the screen. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Shauna giving Curtis the shut-up death glare. Curtis remained convinced I had a bad trip on some “magic mushrooms,” as he called them. Shauna didn’t know what happened but believed something traumatic happened in the woods or before and that this was all my way of coping. What would have happened? Something upset me but I had forgotten.

           I told myself that screechy chorus was only in my head. They couldn’t have grown that fast. They had been withered away for months. Dead, I hoped. I told myself that earthy scent was just the rain hitting the dusty soil.

           “Are you going to be okay tonight?” Shauna asked in a genuinely compassionate tone.

           “You should stay. I don’t want you guys to go out there,” I said.

           Curtis laughed. “No offense, man, but no way I’m staying here and avoiding the rain.

           Shauna looked uncertain. “I’ll stay if you want. We can get through this together.”

           “Don’t baby him.”

           She fired another death glare at Curtis, and gently placed a hand on top of mine. It’s hard when no one believes you. When no one takes your fear and worry seriously. They didn’t believe me about this, and they wouldn’t believe me about Devon. I shook the memory away. Now was not the time for that.

           When Curtis stood to leave, I grabbed the weed whacker I kept by the door and told him I’d follow him to his car. He didn’t laugh this time. He looked at me with a sad look I didn’t understand. He grabbed his jacket and walked out the door. I followed with my eyes scanning the fried grass of my lawn. Conditions weren’t optimal for them yet. I still had time.

           “Please, promise me you won’t go looking for them,” I asked.

           “Sure, whatever.” Curtis shook his head and stepped in his truck. With a hand up, his form of a wave, he drove off.

           On my way back to the door, I saw a small quarter sized white mushroom cap. I decapitated it with a strong swipe of the weed whacker. Not on my lawn, monster.

           Shauna made us tea and inquired for the thousandth time about my mental state that day. I went on that hike the day after Devon and I broke up, she reminded me. I forgot all about that. The mushrooms had taken priority.

           “I remember you calling me that day,” Shauna said cautiously. “You left a message saying Devon did something really bad. You never told me what. Then you went on that hike. That hike was your favorite to go to together.”

           I remembered standing in the dark with rain pelting my jacket. I saw Devon…I shook the memories away. Sometimes it’s better to forget.

           “Why don’t we watch a movie? I heard good things about─”

           “See, you always try to avoid it. From what I remember Devon was working on some project with mushrooms. It seems reasonable to think─”

           “Devon did this.”

           “Uh, no. That’s not what I was saying.”

           “It makes sense.”

           Shauna sucked in a deep breath. “Do you talk to the therapist about Devon?”

           “Forget about, Devon. I don’t care about that.”

           “Micah, I…I just─”

           A numbness overtook my body. I remembered standing in the rain again, shivering. “I saw him with someone else.”

           Shauna put a hand to her heart like hearing this caused physical chest pain.

           “He was mad at me. Something about holding him back. Stopping him from being who he needed to be.”

           “You didn’t deserve that.” She placed a hand on my shoulder.

           “I really looked at the guy. Took it all in. I know who I saw. The next day his face was on the news. Missing they said.”

           “Huh?” Shauna’s expression changed.

           “I followed the story. They found his body. Said it looked like an animal tore him up.”

           “W-what?” 

           “Do you hear that?” I asked. The shrilly chorus was louder than ever.

           Shauna sat silently for a moment. “No, I don’t hear anything.”

           “It’s a buzzing, high pitch noise.”

           “Maybe.”

           I turned the living room lights off, and wave for her to follow me to the window. We quietly crept towards it. Shauna grabbed my hand. I could hear her breathing fast, short breaths as she saw the swaying shadows. I told myself it was the trees. The mushrooms grew with blood, but they were initially small. We pulled back the sheer curtains.

           Five larger-than-human mushrooms swayed in the streetlight. Moisture glistened on their smooth caps. Each one had one of my neighbor’s limbs dangling from their mouths. They chewed and chomped merrily. Their caps tilted back, their beady little eyes raised to the sky, and they shimmied in the glittery drops of water.

           I turned to Shauna waiting for the moment to be revealed. Have I been imagining them this whole time? Shauna’s mouth was covered by her hand. Her wide blue eyes stared out the window in horror. She stepped back, her arm flailing as it searched for something to grasp.

           “Oh my god, they’re real,” she cried.

           I breathed in relief and felt the tension in my body break. I wasn’t crazy. Then I grabbed my weed whacker and flung the door open. They were bigger than I anticipated, but my anger was likely stronger than they anticipated. In a blind rage, I ran through the congregation swinging the weed whacker wildly. Bits of cream colored, squishy foam like mushroom bits flung around me. Their screams thrilled me. I slammed the whacker into their colorful caps chopping them to pieces.

           Soon Shauna stood beside me spraying something from a bottle.

           “What’s that?”

           “I read online that soapy water kills them.”

           The mushrooms shrank back from the spray, so Shauna sprayed more furiously. Then she sprayed the lawn preemptively.

           We stood on the clear lawn gasping for breath, while raindrops splattered across us. My clothes already felt thoroughly soaked through.

           “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you,” she said.

           “It’s okay. I probably wouldn’t have believed you either if it were the other way around.”

           “It’s hard to believe even seeing it.”

           “We should make sure Curtis is safe.”

           She nodded in agreement. We walked into the house, locked the door, and put on the tv to check the weather. She dialed Curtis’ number and put him on speaker phone.

“You won’t believe what I just heard,” he answered.

“Curtis, there’s something I need to tell you,” Shauna said.

“Wait, me first. You remember Devon?”

We exchanged a curious glance.

“Yeah, we were just talking about him.”

“I saw him on the tv. Selling these pet mushrooms. They sing. They dance. They’re a real delight. Sounds a bit familiar, though, huh?”

The mushrooms were in our spot. He knew I'd find them. I could see through it all now. He always had a dark side.

“What?” Shauna gasped.

I focused my attention on the tv knowing I couldn’t handle this. The memories flooded back. I stood in the rain, surrounded by darkness. My heart broke in a million pieces. The warning signs were there, but I never saw them. Never wanted to see them. I was too entranced by the show he put on to hide what lurked deep down inside. A little song and dance can keep you distracted from the sharp fangs reading to bite.

The weather was on. The weatherman smiled in his yellow suit. My eyes focused on the screen. There were so many little rain clouds. Happily, he predicted ten more days of heavy rain and it all hit me like being slapped with a brick. 

September 21, 2021 18:14

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6 comments

18:51 Sep 30, 2021

Wow, at first I got this Fey vibes the moment you described the little mushrooms, and thought it would have been a paranormal story, only to see these little things turn into monsters. It reminded me much of the first Gremlins movie, only much more viscious and horrifying in comparison. Can't imagine myself in a scenario like this... well done!

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Annalisa D.
20:55 Sep 30, 2021

Thank you so much! I love Gremlins so I appreciate the comparison. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I know it's a bit weird so I wasn't sure how anyone would react. It was so fun to imagine and write though. Thank you for reading and letting me know what you thought!

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Danny G
06:24 Sep 22, 2021

I liked this one. It was a good story with a bit of an evil dead vibe. I liked the connection from the start to the finish and it ties up nicely, setting up a grim reality for the characters as the rain front comes in.

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Annalisa D.
12:25 Sep 22, 2021

Thank you! That's wonderful to hear!

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Eric D.
21:59 Sep 21, 2021

This was a very interesting story I really liked. It could totally be from the same world as one of your previous stories about evil little vegetations. I liked how scary it was especially the ending where it seemed it the mushroom attack would get much worse. But I also like how it left some things for interpretation. I started to get a little suspicious about the protagonist a little I think she believed the mushroom monsters existed but there was something I read about her visiting several times in the hospital. Even though there was a s...

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Annalisa D.
22:18 Sep 21, 2021

I guess I am creating a little evil nature series haha. Thank you for reading and your thoughts. My hope was to make people question Micah as mental health could have been a factor or the hallucinations of certain mushrooms, but then as you see what's really going on switch over to questioning the relationship with Devon and role that might have played. I may have been too vague to get to part 2 there but I guess thats fine too. Different interpretations are all welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed it and I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Thank you!

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