No, really. I’m sure of it.

For some background: I grow mushrooms. Mushrooms are a lot more like people than they are like other plants, as they breathe oxygen and consume stuff like coffee (well, used coffee grounds) and oat bran. They are low-effort to raise, as you can keep them in a sealed bucket and they will eventually poke out mushrooms. However, you do need to top up the coffee, oats and water after every harvest.

Mushrooms in the early stages

Feeding is also a good time to get rid of any mould that sneaks in. Mould is bad. So when I spotted mould at the bottom of this particular mushroom bucket, I thought I had a problem. I’ve been growing mushrooms for over a year now, and past experience told me that this thing wouldn’t last very long. There was quite a bit of mould, a large blue green patch at the bottom. So I considered throwing it away. I may have voiced this thought out loud. (This may be relevant later.)

I didn’t throw it out though. I left it in a dark corner of my room and procrastinated on mushroom feeding.

And more mushrooms grew. I picked them and didn’t add food to the bucket.

And more mushrooms grew. I picked them and didn’t add food to the bucket.

And more mushrooms grew.

At this point it has produced over a kilogram of delicious mushroomy goodness, and I’ve fed it twice. I’m now convinced there is no mould. That blue-green patch is more likely to be an eldritch being that lives in the bottom and encourages mushrooms to grow. Why, I’m not sure. Perhaps it heard me say I wanted to throw it out, and it is doing its best to avoid that fate. Perhaps it is putting parts of its spirit into the mushroom, so that it can be spread around the world… I don’t know.

These shrooms are ready to eat! Or to take over the world, either one.

This is one of the occupational hazards of a heavily exercised imagination. The other members of my household don’t see any problem with a mushroom bucket that just sits there producing more mushrooms. ‘Why are you worried?’ they ask. ‘Isn’t this the best possible thing—mushrooms that grow without you doing any work?’

The problem is, I am literally in the middle of writing a story that heavily features sentient plant life. I have, in the past, written a story in which mushrooms take over a household. It’s too easy for me to see something like this and immediately jump to the impossible, most horrific option.

The other issue is, when I write my stories have to conform to certain aspects of reality. There are rules. If magic was as simple as waiting for mushrooms to grow, fantasy would not be as fulfilling as it is. Magic or not, there is always, always a cost. So seeing free mushrooms grow is deeply unsettling. How exactly will I have to pay for this fungi?

I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Until then, I guess I’ll be having mushrooms for dinner.