An excerpt from the current draft of Mycota, one of the first three stories for Needle Teeth, my sapphic monsterotica series.
It was a while before Martha managed to catch sight of the shining purplish substance in the light of her phone again. With a quiet gasp, she picked up one of the leaves that was speckled with a light coating. Turning it under the light of her phone, she inspected the iridescent, fuzzy mold. It was definitely not like any mold or spores she’d seen before, and she said a silent prayer that whatever it was wasn’t toxic to small children. She placed it back on the ground and squinted for more, spotting another splash of color a few feet away beyond some trees off the path. Cautiously, she started to follow this patchy new trail, brushing away creeping plants and trying not to trip over gnarled roots.
After about ten minutes of searching and hopping from spot to spot in the dark, she noticed a strange glow from a tree about forty feet away. She approached with hesitation, taking pause to look up at it when she drew near. The light seemed to be coming from a glowing white mushroom placed dead center in an eight-inch circle of the violet mold, creating some sort of bio-luminescent lamp that looked all the world like it had to have been intentionally placed. A guide, a lure, something of the nature. Sinister, whatever it was, she was sure.
She looked back into the forest. It seemed as if there was another one of these semi-natural lamps on another tree further in. Seeing no other way, she walked towards it. Within feet of it she could see another couple of lamps leading the same direction beyond, and the simmering mixture of dread and determination started to churn stronger within her core. The glowing path continued, the frequency of the lights picking up the further into the woods and away from the trail she walked. She couldn’t help imagining some sort of large angler fish lurking at the end of the path, waiting for her to step into its waiting jaws.
She couldn’t shake the feeling of eyes watching her as she continued down the path of lights. Sure enough, whenever she looked deep into the brambles alongside her she would see the watching eyes of some small creature following her movements. She shivered, but continued to walk. Who cared if they were staring at her. Better that they watch than actually make a move, creepy though it may be.
Suddenly, something darted out in front of her. She jumped back, breathing a sigh of relief when she saw it was just an oversized field mouse. The dark little rodent had a slight sheen of violet over it that it shook off before staring up at Martha with its three beady little eyes.
Martha crouched down to take a better look at the mouse. There seemed to be a single dark purple mushroom stuck to the center of its forehead. When it blinked it’s tiny eyes, a strange black film pulled over the mushroom like eyelids. She gasped.
The mouse squeaked quietly, running a few feet away before looking back at her. Taking a slow, nervous step, Martha started to follow. This seemed to please the thing, which kept darting in short bursts down the fungus-lit path. As they continued, more little mice seemed to join in with her guide. They exuded joy, frolicking on wet leaves that Martha noticed seemed to be far more trampled down than she expected.
“Abandon all hope, ye who follow mice,” she muttered to herself. Barely a minute later, the mice scattered as she reached the end of the path. The woods opened up into a small clearing. Dead center was a huge rotting tree trunk. Its base was surrounded by a ring of white toadstools, sprinkled with the bio-luminescent fungus she had grown accustomed to. Gnarled roots were somewhat exposed, two of which seemed to have somehow straightened to form the edges of a pathway up to the tree itself. As she inched closer, she noticed a large jagged crack in the bark of the tree, seeming to form what looked like a door into the long-dead plant. She sunk her fingers into the moist bark, pulling the wood back. The tree groaned unnaturally, more like a human voice than the normal bend of wood. She tried to put that out of her mind as she looked into the tree trunk.
A stairwell. She blinked a few times, trying to rid herself of the hallucination, but it didn’t disappear. She was standing in front of a stairwell. Heavily packed dirt formed sturdy squared steps down into the earth, and the walls were made of well-polished wood lined with the large fungal lanterns she had grown accustomed to on this journey. She squinted down the stairs, and thought she could see the flickering of a fire down in whatever chamber was at the end of the staircase. Every inch of her body wanted to run from this unnatural place. She started to close up the door when she heard the distinct sound of a human baby cooing in the distance.
“Adelaide,” Martha whispered, hurrying quietly down the steps. The rich smells of earth and crackling firewood grew stronger as she descended. The violet moss on the walls started morphing from blotches and circles to intricate designs, almost like it was being intentionally formed into wallpaper.
The staircase ended in a cave formed in the earth, its walls supported by great curving logs covered in mushrooms. A warm fire was burning in a fireplace carved into the earthen wall, crackling cheerfully. Soft moss and lichen carpeted the floor, and light seemed to pulse in patterns from the spores on the ceiling. Martha looked around with a frown. She thought she could still hear Adelaide somewhere, but there was nowhere that a baby could be in this room. Besides, where did this even come from? What was this place? Who made it? Did someone live here?
“Ever the inquisitive one,” a voice hissed into her ear.