Fungal Emissary

When I was at my lowest, that’s when she came for me. I had nothing and no one to care for me. I was delirious and dying, and when I was gone, no one would mark my passing. Maybe that’s how she found me, even. Suffering like mine was a beacon to a certain kind of creature.

One moment I was alone, the next a shadow fell over me. I had just enough strength to raise my head to peer into the face of the woman with the fungal halo. With inhumanly smooth motions, she broke a piece of that halo off, kneeled, and parted my lips to place it in my mouth.

It was bitter, but her insistent fingers did not offer me the chance to reject her gift. They glided over my tongue, pushing the morsel back and down my throat. I reflexively swallowed, and she responded with a purring vocalization like praise.

Pallid face split open in a sharp-toothed grin, and with her needle-sharp teeth she broke the skin on her fingers before plunging them back into my mouth and painting my tongue with a sweet and pungent taste like nothing else. Coaxing noises implied I should swallow this too.

Her fingers slid in and out of my mouth while I weakly swallowed her medicine or poison—I was beyond caring which. I sucked what passed for her blood from her cool and delicate fingers with an eagerness that soon surprised me. Eventually, for the first time in ages, I felt full.

More gentle cooing accompanied her hands stroking the length of my body in a gesture that felt oddly comforting and right. Then I fell asleep. I awoke to a buzzing in my head and at last had the energy to stand. I felt the city humming with life, and she would want me to meet it.

Step after shaky step, I hauled myself closer to the warm and beating heart of the city. The light and color swelling inside helped me carry this frail body of mine onward long past what would normally have been its limit. The people I passed stared. Could they see the light too?

Ah, I was singing. I had not noticed. A wordless melody the color of the light within me flowed from my mouth, and I carried it with me as I walked until I arrived at last in a bustling open-air market. It felt right. Here, I could end my journey. My feet stopped.

Most people kept their distance for some reason, but one—entranced by song, a faint glimmer of light in her eyes mixed with longing—approached me. “Please,” she whispered in my ear, “I want what you have.” I brought my lips to hers and shared my light.

When she finally pulled away, her lips were stained with the color I carried. Smiling softly, she sat on the ground nearby, and together we began singing our song again. More curious people full of longing approached, and we shared our light with each of them too.

Over hours and days, we gathered more, and as my body decayed, it fell to the others to spread our light. The body collapsed and eventually burst open, releasing a tangle of shimmering, iridescent tendrils which rooted themselves in the ground and spread.

Wherever the tendrils met the light-touched, we connected. We rapidly added nodes to our network from among the first to give themselves, then among those who came after. Each connection enriched the whole, and we drank the city in until there was only us.

The city lived in a way it could never have imagined before we connected us with our song of light and color. We who populated it now comprised a harmonious whole, and we welcomed all who chose to step foot within us.

Yet we never forgot the original blessing that granted us true life. Let us pass it along, make for ourself an angel of our own. A beautiful creature with bright fungal halo, carried on wings of music. Let her bring the gift of our color to those who need it most.