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F is for Funghi
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He tried to work out what manner of creature this was, only to come up empty. There was nothing within the grasp of his understanding to explain what this thing was. Only that it was huge, and had obviously been spreading for some time through the Morison’s house.
When was the last time he’d seen them? He wondered, aware that it had at least been several months. Had this thing been growing inside all that time?
What he could see of the basement was a dense forest of interlaced vines. Nothing looked as it should, and every available surface had been covered by these invading objects. The bar that once stood along the wall was wrapped in a layer of intertwined vines that pulsed in time with the steady thrumming sound so reminiscent of a heartbeat.
With a voice like the rice crispies cereal of his childhood, that impenetrable wall of vines grew behind him, pushing him down a narrow artery toward the sound pulsing through everything around him. He came to a wider room, the thrumming pulse so loud it wrapped itself about him, invading his body, his thoughts, matching the steady beat of his own heart stride for stride.
In the center of the room he saw her. Surrounded by a forest of these primitive things that seemed to be dancing in time with the steady rhythm coming from the treadmill she was running on. Sweat glistened against the flesh of her face, her eyes fixed on an object he could not see, her face set in a mask of disturbed concentration.
Onward she ran, her slender legs scissoring in a steady rhythm as she kept her pace on the treadmill. She was clinging to the handle with white knuckled hands and as he got closer he saw that she was far from enjoying herself. He had the impression she was no longer exercising, but was running for her life, the slender appendages surrounding her were weaving back and forth in time with the steady rhythm of her feet on the treadmill.
Were they feeding on her misery? The thought stopped him cold as he took in the slender objects gathered around her in a dense crowd. They stood no more than two feet high, like supple tree branches with little to no distinguishing features to tell one from the next. At their base they were each connected to the other by an interlaced network of smaller vines that formed a latticework pattern on the painted concrete.
As he approached she turned her head and spotted him, her eyes growing wide in surprise as he gingerly made his way through the dense crowd that parted to permit him access.
“Can you stop?” He asked, and she shook her head silently. She was winded, struggling to maintain her pace, her face a mask of fatigued terror.
What could he do to save her? He wondered as he looked around the basement at the discarded electronic equipment scattered along the walls. How could he get her out of there? What would happen if she stopped running? The questions chased one another though his mind as he struggled to come up with a solution. His gaze fell on his old recording equipment, he’d put together tracks for a couple of local bands when he was much younger, driven by the hope of discovering something big. A hope that never panned out.
He looked back at the treadmill, at Nadine’s faltering step, the steady sound of her running missing several beats. She was winding down. The creatures became agitated at the interruptions, their smooth surfaces sprouting wicked barbed thorns that quickly smoothed over as the beat picked up again.
She was literally running for her life.
If he recorded her running, maybe he could get her out of here, get both of them out of here before those things turned nasty. The thorns had looked like they were quite capable of tearing a person to shreds. Was that what happened to the Morison’s? He turned away from that line of reasoning, focusing instead on getting his old equipment back together.
Confidence eluded him as he struggled to put his system back together. It had been too many years since he’d fooled with it, and he worked clumsily at first, then more confidently as muscle memory resurfaced to guide him. Soon he was ready and he cautiously approached the treadmill, taking care to avoid those dancing things gathered around her, the memory of those wicked thorns not far from his thoughts.
To be continued!
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