Archive for December 8th, 2011

8th December
2011
written by amber

Black Hole

The first day, I didn’t think too much of it. A circle of mushrooms in my backyard or, more correctly, half a circle. The other half crossed the alley and took a bite out of the Goddon’s backyard. The mushrooms were much larger than ordinary fairy ring mushrooms, but they were the right shape and the right colour, so I took a picture, posted it online and forgot about it for the rest of the day.

I didn’t notice that within the giant circle the ground had subsided a little, but I sure did notice it the next day as I stumbled across the grass in my pajamas, leaking bag of garbage in hand. My eyes were barely open, so it was a surprise to me when my foot buried itself in the spongy gooey interior of a huge mushroom, at least twice the size it had been the day before. I lurched forward and tumbled down a good five feet.

I crawled out, enduring more contact with mushroom innards than felt healthy. Back in my house, I didn’t know whether I should call a gardener or a contractor. Envisioning some enormous underground septic bloom feeding fungus and rotting away the soil, I called both and left for work.

I’m not allowed to use my work computer to check personal media, but at coffee break I overheard someone talking about a strange large mushroom colony in his yard, so I decided to show him my photos and warn him about the trouble he was in for.

But I forgot about the warning when I saw all the postings my photo had attracted. Apparently, I was the one who had no idea of the trouble I was in for. I saw pictures of entire neighbourhoods punched with black holes, some no larger than a garden shed, some bigger than a shopping mall. Over and over again, came the warning – Get your stuff out of your place before you tell anyone about your hole. The authorities will quarantine your house and you won’t get any compensation.

I ran out of the building, trying to remember if I’d left detailed messages on the answering machines I’d contacted that morning. They had my cell number and they hadn’t called me back, swamped no doubt by calls about sinkholes all over the city, or – to judge by the postings I’d seen – the nation.

My neighbourhood looked normal. Quiet and deserted, as it always was on a Tuesday morning. Old Mr. Hubble had some mushrooms in his front yard, but they were barely visible in his uncut grass. And a circle of fungus was forming around the May’s house – that was bad.

I opened the gate to my backyard with trepidation. The mushrooms were now the size of microwave ovens, some of them even larger. That was unsettling but the ones I’d stepped on had become red ooze with white chunks, like a grisly crime scene. Edging as near as I dared, I looked into the hole, but I couldn’t see the bottom.

I told myself that I needed to see the bottom so I could inform the contractor what he would be dealing with, but that wasn’t true. I just needed to see the bottom. I got a sheet of plywood from my shed and laid it across the crushed mushrooms. Red slime slopped over the edges, but I avoided that as I inched myself toward the abyss.

First, a wave of heat struck me. I would not have been surprised to look down and see the fires of hell. Reality was wearing pretty thin. But all I saw was an unfathomable darkness, the familiar layer of dirt and roots and pipes and chunks of concrete a veneer over this tunnel of blackness from which a multitude of white shapes was crawling, far below me but toiling ever upwards.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

This story was inspired by an article in Discover magazine.