They Are Everywhere Among Us, Their Work Not Yet Done

Pushed this up in the order for those who might’ve missed it.

Incoming transmission, through the filaments…

Did you ever dream of something coming up through the ground, a spy, a periscope, a conduit? Something so mundane maybe you didn’t even think of it that way. Maybe you didn’t even see them. Even though they were always there.

Even when you do notice them, you don’t think network, you don’t think connected. But they are: sentinel towers communicating underneath the soil.

They can look almost delicate, and be misleading that way. You can forget they exist in a landscape of decay and dissolution.

Until you encounter one that sits there, toadlike and muscular, tough as nails. That makes you think of something that’s neither plant nor animal, whose perception of the world is entirely alien to your own.

Some try to mimic flowers to get under your defenses, to make you think everything’s normal.

Some get caught in mid-step, in mid-journey, on their way to distant battles of spore and climate, colonizing as they go. Foot-soldiers that freeze as you look at them because your senses are inadequate to grasp the movement there.

Some of their journeys reach an unexpected end in squalid inbred colonies, far from the humming, ever-living discourse of decay. From high in dead branches, they whisper down into the mulch.

Recreating the memory of skulls from ages of spore-memory, some mock both the living and the dead and give to those who witness them a shudder of horrible recognition.

There are the shy loners who watch from the side…

…and the ones that call attention to themselves so you will miss something else that is vitally important…

A few rogues extend one all-sensing ear above ground, the great bulk hidden in the soil, waiting for the moment to rise and re-make the world.

Great shelves of cities rise in the aftermath of rain, vast, complex communities of micro-organisms, ants, lichens, and lizards taken refuge under that many-tiered shield.

In the darkness of deep mulch, the elders, falling apart, rotted to rust, and almost senseless, dissolve into particles that each tell part of a self-renewing story.

The oldest of all, past memory and past recall, communicate with no one and nothing, not even the wind. Nothing can dissolve them. Nothing can move them. They simply are.

It’s just a forest path. Nothing seems to move. Nothing seems to breathe. But everything moves. Everything breathes. You just don’t know it yet.


  1. Hellbound Heart says

    oh shit, freaky….know what i’ll be dreaming about when i go to bed after this…..bbbbrrrrr….

    (wake up surrounded by a ring of fungi that have sprouted through the padding of my mattress…..oh now i DO have the willies…)

  2. jeff vandermeer says

    Here in Tallahassee at San Luis Park, a lovely half-hidden outpost of wilderness in the city that has a surprisingly diverse ecosystem. It’s nice and hilly too. The assortment of mushrooms/fungi was just remarkable last week and so I brought my camera this week. Not quite as much diversity but still cool. I took the photos right before and during a thunderstorm, which is why some are with a flash.

  3. says

    Cool. Reminded me very much of Pier’s Anthony’s discourse on fungi in (I think) Omnivore, where I saw the word saprophyte for the first time. (Not the writing, just the subject.)

    When I lived in Florida, I had a perennial yellow slime mold living in the front yard. We named it Ed.