Day 60. 161 pages, 58,131 words.
“Hatboy,” the Myconet said as soon as I’d closed the door.
The third thing you notice about the Myconet is that she doesn’t really talk, as such. Obviously, she can’t – because she’s a mushroom and mushrooms don’t talk unless they’re a certain type of mushroom and you’ve already eaten a couple of them, if you know what I mean – but it’s not exactly telepathy either. Not as it’s classically understood. The words are just there, inside your brain, in your memory, and you’re convinced that you actually heard them being spoken out loud.
I generally just go with it. When a big sentient mushroom wants to talk to you, I tend to pack my bag and lunch and head directly to the ‘whatever works’ school of thought.
“Hey,” I said. “Fancy meeting you here.”
Now when I say the Myconet is a mushroom, I should probably get around to explaining what I mean by that. It’s not quite the same as saying that Yool, the nauseatingly buff Christmas tree who has been here the whole time, is a nauseatingly buff Christmas tree.
The Myconet is about two feet tall, and most of that is the big, craggy grey-brown bulb of her head. A bunch of slimy fungal tentacle-things dangle down from underneath it, along with her stalk and her foot which is usually stuck into whatever she’s decided to appear on at any given time. Garden mulch, for example, old curries, or one of my boots.
Today, she was sitting on the Conference Room 4 table and her foot was sort of spread out, snail-like, on the smooth mahogany surface, with a few more of the tentacle things snaking across the surface like little buttress roots.
“It was probably a coincidence,” she said, “but perhaps not surprising, given the logic of looking at the corpse rollback effects from an elevated position, and this being the only semi-publically-accessible high-rise building in the region of the old prison quarter.”
I went to the window and looked down. You couldn’t really see the part of downtown that had once been a combination work camp and penal colony, of course, since most of the remaining structures were underground or demolished, built over with sewers and streets and big gleaming skyscrapers like L&E. The graves were deeper still – or they had been, right up until Creepy had refused to put back that stupid trumpet.
Look, I told you it was a long story.
“Looks like the old compound went all the way up to Barnsley Avenue near the freeway,” I said thoughtfully, “and down to the Cock & Bull and the library,” I traced the invisible line and looked at the seeping, joining-up puddles in between. The water was swampy, black, and I knew from experience that it smelled exactly like it should, considering the number of putrefying corpses that had been marinating in it. “And there’s a major bunch of water and sewage pipes along this stretch. But there weren’t bodies buried under the whole thing … were there?”
“I have long since ceased to be surprised,” the Myconet replied, “at how many bodies are buried under things.”
“Where does this lead?” I asked, almost as much to myself as to her.
“I don’t know,” the Myconet replied. “Probably nowhere good.”
The fourth thing you notice about the Myconet is that she’s not all there. And I don’t think there’s ever been an entity more perfectly suited for that phrase.