The Mushroom that ate Gramma (almost)
A Zandra Belle Story
Gramma looked worried. She was walking around with a strange look on her face, shaking her head mumbling to herself, “It’s the strangest thing. I’ve never seen plants grow this fast.” I tugged at her shirt to get her attention and asked what was wrong. Startled, she looked at me like she forgot I was even there, scratched her head and said, “Those plants growing in the front yard have me puzzled. Even as tall as the Hollyhocks out back grew, it took those flowers months to get that big.” I love the gigantic pink Hollyhocks that are almost eight feet high and I crawl through them pretending that I am a fairy and live in a tall flowery forest.
My name is Zandra Belle and I was named after my grandmother who was named after her grandmother and before that I don’t know. The Belle part anyway. I am almost nine years old and love visiting my Grandmother. Sometimes my Uncle Troy comes over and we always seem to get into trouble, not on purpose but things tend to get mixed up and go wrong. Uncle Troy calls them adventures and nothing much seems to bother him.
I was playing Club Penguin on Gramma’s computer, it’s my favorite game, when I heard a big commotion in the front yard and hurried outside to see what was going on. There was Uncle Troy hopping around, waving his finger in the air yelling, “NO WAY! No way am I going to smell my finger.” He ran for the house and, in his rush to reach the kitchen to sanitize and save his pointer finger, knocked me over.
Gramma bent over laughing when she saw me plopped on the ground. “Zandra, come and look at this.” She motioned to me and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that after watching Uncle Troy’s crazy behavior. I slowly got up, brushed off my clothes, and inched closer to her. Gramma leaned over and with both hands pulled apart the big green leafy plants and I could see this large, whitish, roundish, strange looking thing. It looked like it came from outer space. It even had green sprouts growing out of the top like a deformed Chia pet.
Gramma said, “I think it’s a mushroom. It sort of looks like a mushroom and smells like one.” She lifted her finger and wrinkled up her nose and sniffed. She pointed her slimy coated finger toward me and I jumped back as fast as Uncle Troy. No way was I going to touch or smell that yucky strange looking blob of goop hanging from Gramma’s finger. Now I understood why Uncle Troy was doing an Indian war dance in the front yard that could bring rain before nightfall.
Gramma stood up and let the bushes snap back together and hide the deformed plant creature growing larger and larger. She wiped off her toxic infected finger on her apron and wondered out loud, “Why is a mushroom this large growing in the middle of a desert? (In case you are wondering, Gramma lives in Arizona.) Mushrooms grow in wet, damp, cool places with lots of rain.” Gramma was puzzled and talking mostly to herself. “I wonder if it has anything to do with that big tree we cut down. The stump is still in the ground and maybe it has something to do with this abnormal plant growth.” Still looking confused, Gramma stepped away and turned toward the house. I didn’t have any answers to her questions about mushrooms and being abnormal and was glad to follow her back inside. When I was safely inside the house, I did not think any more about the weird plant creature growing in her front yard. Out of sight – out of mind was my motto.
A couple of weeks went by before I came to visit Gramma again. I walked up to the house and stood in shock; my eyes bulged and mouth dropped open. Large leafy plants had completely taken over the front yard and were winding onto the front porch. I skirted around the huge green twiney vines and got as close as possible to the house and inched my way passed the growing menace. I stepped on the front porch and ran for the door. I stopped and quickly looked around to make sure nothing was going to reach out and grab my ankles. I shivered like something cold had ran down my back. It looked like the movie Jumanji where all the plants took over the town and tried to eat everyone. Then I saw it. That horrid mushroom had grown larger and larger and was now higher than the planter and yellow ooze was bubbling all around the old tree stump and dripping over the planter’s edge, like a slimy yellow cloud fuming out of the ground.
I turned and knocked as hard as I could for Gramma to open the door and let me in. I knocked again. And again. Then I started pounding with both fists and yelling, “Gramma open the door.” Finally, I gave up and realized she wasn’t coming to open the door and save me from the mushroom monster. I turned away from the door and swallowed hard when I noticed that Gramma’s car was in the driveway. I began to worry where was Gramma?
Again, I hugged the wall inching my way off the porch and past the strange creeping creatures. As soon as I was clear, I ran as fast as I could around the side of the house, opened the gate and hurried into the backyard. I raced to the swing on the patio and sat down and pulled up my feet. I was breathing hard from my rush to escape whatever it was that had taken over Gramma’s front yard. When my breathing returned to normal, I found the house key that Gramma keeps hidden in case she locks herself out. I unlocked the back door and went inside. It was strangely quiet and dark, not a light was on and all the shades were closed. It felt like Gramma wasn’t home or had ever been home. I slowly crept through the house, peeking around the corner before I would enter a room. I checked the kitchen – no Gramma. I checked the living room – no Gramma. I checked the bedroom – no Gramma. I was becoming worried and a little scared.
I slowly made my way back to the kitchen, tiptoeing not to make a sound. I’m not sure why I was being so cautious since there was no one to hear me. I pulled a chair out from the kitchen table and sat down, leaning my elbows on the table and rested my chin in my hands. I was trying to figure out what to do and I sat there for a long time and thought.
If I called 911 and reported — I can’t find my Gramma– that would be good for a few laughs at the police station, because everyone that heard me would joke about Gramma hadn’t come home from a wild night of Bingo. I tried to think of where Gramma could be and thought so hard my head began to hurt. What if Gramma had fallen and couldn’t get up, like those old people on TV who push a button and some ones says – don’t worry help is on the way. Strange and scary thoughts started to creep into my brain — What if this or what if that. I squeezed my eyes shut and was holding on to the table as tight as I could, trying to push all those scary thoughts out of my head.
The phone rang, a loud shrill echoed in the silent house and I almost jumped off the chair. I grabbed the phone and yelled, “Gramma where are you? I’ve been so worried.” But it wasn’t Gramma who answered me; it was Uncle Troy wanting to talk to Gramma. My chin began to quiver as I tried to tell Uncle Troy that Gramma wasn’t here and I didn’t know where she was. That was what I wanted to say but what came out of my mouth was a loud wail and sobs and hiccups, and mumbled words about Gramma’s not here and could be hurt or fallen and can’t get up and giant ankle grabbing plants and man eating mushrooms and I was worried and scared.
I was still holding the phone and trying to stop the tears running down my cheeks when the doorbell rang – ding dong – ding dong – ding dong – one ring quickly after the other and the other. I threw the phone down and rushed to the door and threw it open, thinking Gramma had locked herself out again. I looked up, my mouth opened, and I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t sure who or what was looking back at me. I blinked once, twice, and then rubbed my eyes. Were they playing tricks on me? “Who – who – who are you?” I stuttered, sounding like an owl in distress.
It was big. It was masked. It was dressed like something that escaped from the pages of a comic book. And it gripped this humongous sliver battle axe. Then the creature spoke in a low vibrating voice. “I thought this job called for some Super Powers.” The masked creature turned sideways and silver spikes on its arms glistened in the sun light. Then it took one large swing with the big shiny axe – SWOOSH. I jumped back to avoid being sliced in half. “Well Sidekick, are you ready to rescue Gramma?” the monster grinned and then I realized who it was.
“I’m no Sidekick. I’m Super Girl!” Whish – whish – jump – kick. Super Girl split the air with a double karate move and a high flying scissor kick and was no longer afraid.
“OK Super Girl, what’s the plan?” The masked man asked. Plan. Super Girl had been too distraught, too upset, to think. HUM – Super Girl stood very still, running the events of the day through her mind just like a super hero would do. “I’ve checked the house – no Gramma. Front and back yards – no Gramma. Her car is in the driveway.” Super Girl firmly said as she clicked off each item with a finger, trying to determine the next step.
The masked creature stepped back and tripped on a vine that had already inched its way on to the front porch. Super Girl looked down at the masked man and asked. “What do I call you?” The masked man pondered the question and then he stood up and said, “The Annihilator.” Super Girl wasn’t sure what Annihilator meant, but it seemed to go with the outfit. “Well Annihilator, I’m worried about all these stupid plants and just look at the size of that strange mushroom-like creature.” Super Girl said sweeping her arm out to circle the front yard.
The horrid mushroom had taken over the planter, molding itself around, over, and oozing between all the other plants. And it was beginning to stink. The other plants had also grown gigantic leaves as large as plates and the strange vines were attaching to anything they could reach, like ropes they coiled tightly around and around. The Annihilator spoke, “I remember watching a movie where the plants ate all the people and took over the town.” Super Girl gasped loud– could this be Gramma’s fate? Tied up by the twisty vines and waiting to be gobbled up by – by the stump people. Wild visions popped in her head of short hairy creatures hopping around with forks and knives ready to devour Gramma for dinner.
“Hurry, Annihilator. We have to rescue Gramma.” Super Girl screamed and she grabbed the closest green tendril and began pulling with all her super strength to get it off the porch. Two large boots – at least a size twelve – waded into the middle of the large circular planter. “Stand back. Give me room.” The Annihilator shouted and began swinging the axe in a high circle above his head as the plants hovered around his knees. He turned a full circle stomping and staring into the dark depths of the thick vegetation. He looked over at Super Girl and yelled, “I can’t see Gramma down here.” Super Girl started jumping up and down and screamed, “It’s the mushroom. It’s the mushroom. Chop it down”. Super Girl was shouting as loud as an Army drill instructor barking orders to the soldiers.
Once again the Annihilator lifted the mighty axe and in one giant swing hit the mushroom mid center, splitting it in half all way down to its roots. Mushroom goo erupted like a volcano, spewing its insides all over, splattering the porch, the windows, and Gramma’s car. Dripping and oozing, mushroom pieces slowing fell to the ground. The Annihilator was covered with yellowish slime dripping from his arms and head, whitish strings hung from his ears and nose. Super Girl had not been spared when the mushroom exploded under the Annihilator’s axe and looked in horror at her ruined clothes. She smelled worse than someone getting sprayed by a skunk. YUK.
Super Girl sprang into action, ready to do battle with the green growing invaders in order to save Gramma. “The vines.” Super Girl screamed and pointed around. On cue, the Annihilator turned and attacked the vines that had escaped the planter and taken over the yard and was climbing on the porch. Green vines, being chopped to pieces, swirled around like a tornado had touched down. The more Super Girl jumped around and yelled and pointed at this plant and that vine, the faster the Annihilator swung and chopped. This went on until there wasn’t anything left but green confetti covering the front yard.
The Annihilator was sweating profusely and breathing in big gulps of air. “I need a break.” He gasped; his super powers were exhausted. Super Girl was worn out too by the battle they had just fought. Both were leaning against the house, staring at the havoc they had brought upon the vile and vicious vegetation, when a large, shiny black limousine slowed and stopped in front of Gramma’s house. Gramma stepped out of the limousine, all dressed up in her new blue pants suit, which she said made her eyes sparkle, and not a hair on her head was out of place.
Super Girl was relieved to see Gramma get out of the large car but was confused – still thinking the stump people were to blame for Gramma’s disappearance. The smile on Gramma’s face vanished when she saw her front yard in ruin. Her hand flew up to her chest and she wobbled backward. She gasped, “What happened to my yard? Why are all the plants chopped to pieces? What is going on here?” She pointed to the Annihilator and exclaimed, “Why are you dressed like that?” The Annihilator pointed to Super Girl and said, “It’s all her fault.” Super Girl wasn’t sure if she was totally to blame and glared back at the Annihilator.
“Will one of you please explain?” Gramma looked sternly at them with her hands on her hips. Both Super Girl and the Annihilator started talking at the same time, sounding more like excited parrots than super heroes. First was the part about Gramma missing, then the scary mushroom and the vines, then the stump people, and the need to rescue her before she became dinner for the stump people. Gramma started laughing as she listened to their story. “You,” she pointed to Super Girl “are watching too many cartoons.” “And you”, she pointed to the Annihilator, “Have read too many comic books.”
Gramma carefully stepped to the front porch, trying her best not to get her good shoes covered in green slime. She explained. “I called the Garden Guy on 3TV and he came by this morning to see the mushroom and took a lot of pictures. Then he invited me back to the TV station for lunch and interviewed me. I’m going to be on tonight’s show.” Gramma puffed up at the thought of her being a TV celebrity. She continued, “He also said that the old tree stump when it reached a certain stage of decay will give off some type of ammonia or something like that and it is used in fertilizer. All of these plants have been in fertilizer over dose mode for weeks. With the stump being rotted and dark and damp at the bottom, it was just the right condition to grow a mushroom, because mushrooms are part of the fungi or fungus family.” Gramma was proud of all she learned from the Garden Guy.
Gramma then returned to her normal practical self and ordered, “You two can clean this mess up. Then your stinky selves.” She didn’t have to remind the two super heroes that they stunk. “When you’re done, I made a batch of Snickerdoodles this morning and we can watch the Garden Guy’s show and have cookies and milk.” She turned and went inside. Super Girl and Annihilator once again teamed together, combining their super powers to clean up the green mess out front as fast as possible. Both of their stomachs growled and mouths watered thinking of the treat to come. Gramma was the best Snikerdoodle cookie maker ever and they couldn’t wait to chow down.