Chapter 50 - Mycelium

Unseen dwellers of the woodlands, spirits of the rock and fell,

Sita renders you obeisance as she speaks her sad farewell


But the will of Fate is changeless, Death is mighty in his sway,

Peerless Rama, faithful Lakshman, sleep the sleep that knows no day!


If in duty and devotion I have laboured undefiled,

After Earth I who bore this woman, once again, receive thy child!

The Ramayana

As under cover of departing Day

Slunk hunger-stricken Ramazan away,

Once more within the Potter's house alone

I stood, surrounded by the Shapes of Clay.


Said one among them-"Surely not in vain

My substance of the common Earth was ta'en

And to this Figure moulded, to be broke,

Or trampled back to shapeless Earth again."

Omar Khayyam, The Rubaiyat

Life is like a book. However bad the story has been on the previous pages, there are always laid out the pages to come, which are pure white, new, and flawless. It is the same with our life; however bad it was yesterday, there will always be a new day. Use this opportunity as you write, leaf by leaf, in the book of life, always with the ink of love and the pen of wisdom.

Anon (translated from the Indonesian)

And so they lay there, Rosa and Ed, naked in each other's arms. They were covered in snow peas and melted ice, and painted with the fairy dust of mushroom spores; a mesh of silken mycelial threads slithering over them, uniting their two bodies as it consumed them.

Pressed between Rosa's thumb and forefinger, held in place by rigor mortis, was a discreet sliver of literature which simply stated: All that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity.

Jaromil lay only a few metres from the two of them, obscured by a rock. The others were spread out over the forest, searching for Rosa, Ed and Jaromil.

Masako spotted a gorgeous specimen of the reishi mushrooms that she had been handed by Michael as her characteristic species. Leaning over it to its side was a patch of enoki mushrooms - Jaromil's characteristic species - lapping up the company. The reishi mushroom glistened enticingly in the sunshine, imparting a vibe of health and vitality.

A beacon of hope? Masako wondered, desperately searching for any sign to hold on to.

Strewn throughout the forest were the bodies of the other rebels who did not make it out of the UGI headquarters. Sarah Lieberman. Joshua Reynolds. Catherine Murphy. Lee Stewart. Vernon Blair. Van Nguyen. Marcia Jones. Maria Delgado. Chin Song Lee. Jacqueline Picard. Shriram Patel. Ruth Ward.

The search party found these bodies one by one, each time saddened immensely at the loss of a comrade, but greatly relieved at who the bodies were not.

Amongst all the carnage, Noel began to ponder the futility of their quest. He was not aware of a process that was going on before their eyes, but Hanuman heard a silent voice, whispering to him:

As fungi spread over their food, they learn from it, in their own way, gaining wisdom from a plethora of species, sharing the intimate secrets of each one.

Chemicals, hallucinogens, are used in the process to access certain parts of the mind to greater understand its contents. They dissolve the barriers that would otherwise deny this access.

Where did that come from? Surely he had heard it before, but where? And so, by this process, the experiences, past thoughts, lives and selves of Rosa, Ed, and others who had died were absorbed into one great organism.

Somehow it didn't seem so futile to the fungus, when it was all put together into the one great jigsaw. Bits and pieces, individual actions seemed immensely stupid, but viewed holistically it made sense.

As if watching a movie, the fungus wanted to scream out things like: 'For God's sake, you're not really alone Rosa! Ed is right around the corner!' or, 'Michael don't be such a fool! You know the UGI is not benign,' or even, 'Hanuman don't you know that you can talk and have superpowers! Use them for Christ's sake,' but then realised it had all already happened, and it was powerless to change the events of the past.

Only the actors in this film had the power to alter the course of events, but they did not appreciate this because they were so caught up in the chaos and suffering, as well as joy and distraction of what had happened, to be able to sit back and reflect.

Despite it all, the fungi, as passive observers, found meaning in everything that had taken place. Even though the journey had come to an end, it was worth it for the momentary magic.

If the fungi could speak one million languages, they would have said nothing more than: 'Thank you, Rosa Asmara.'

Jaromil groaned in agony from under a rock, before hearing Masako yell out desperately 'Jaromil, is that you?'