Mar 20, 2021 6 min read

Soon after I release my child, my walking, sentient spore, I will embody humanity’s understanding of God as Union.

Before I was a city on a hill, I was a tree of life. Before I was a tree of life, I was a biologist and a luminous fungus—a broken man, and an embodied bundle of striving impulses.

Soon after I release my child, my walking, sentient spore, I will embody humanity’s understanding of God as Union.

I know nothing of the fungus’s origin beyond the point when the biologist first discovered it. He was fleeing up the hill, away from something he’d encountered in the town below.

There on the hill’s peak he came upon a pair of young lovers, the two of them lounging on a blanket and staring now at one another, now over the town at the setting sun, now at him, collapsed on the park bench behind them, weeping openly. He was so distraught he hardly noticed them leave.

What he did notice, once the sky had faded to a gaseous lavender covered in winking lights, was another light source emanating from between the bench slats below him.

Startled, he flipped onto his side and grabbed the bench’s edge. He peeked underneath the bench at what appeared to be a translucent, green egg, filled with luminescent pink tendrils, growing from a dead raven’s gaping beak.

When he wiped the tears and mucous from his face, so too did he erase all thoughts of what had driven him to the hilltop. After uprooting the fungus from the dead bird with a stick, he found a leaf long and broad enough to slide under the fungus. He swaddled it in the leaf, and carried it with his arms outstretched before him down the hill, like a Magi bearing gifts for the town below.

This magnificent discovery would be his project now—his own child.

That evening before bed, he set the fungus on his bedroom windowsill, the window open wide enough for the biologist to feel the pleasant spring breeze.

I can only guess what happened next, since the part of me that was the fungus was blind, deaf, and dumb before it synthesized the biologist. The next thing I knew I’d become two in one— the fungus peering through the biologist’s eyes via a connection to his ocular nerve. I—we— ran to the bathroom mirror and opened our mouth: pink tendrils snaked up the back of our throat into the nasal cavity, and from there, to his brain.

As he struggled for every rasping gulp of air, his mind narrowed to a singular focus: to grab the tendrils and rip them from our throat. But the fungus withdrew, flattening itself against him.

The fungus accessed the biologist’s speech centers and spoke to him through his own mouth in a low, droning voice, called him by name, trying to assure him it meant no harm.

On the contrary, Rajesh, I now see I am meant to help you and all sentient creatures achieve the thing you most desire: unified consciousness. Union with the divine.

Stunned, Rajesh asked how it could know such a thing.

The fungus had seen it in him, in his memories of worship, in Rajesh’s most potent, thwarted desire to be unified with his ex-wife, now big with another’s child. He’d told her once as they lay intertwined in bed that he wished he could hold her so close that he would pass through the boundaries of her body into her very essence, becoming one body, one mind in constant communion.

I can give you this, the fungus said, but only if you trust me.

At that moment we began transitioning from we to I, and with his eyes streaming, grateful to know and to be known intimately, Rajesh submitted to my design.

I ascended the hill, the connection between the two parts of myself growing stronger with each confident yet clumsy step.

Once I reached the hilltop, with the golden hour in full swing, coloring the sky like an Indian wedding garland, I threw wide my arms, tossed back my head, and opened my mouth. Incredible pressure surged down through my waist into my legs. Thick, grub-like roots split my calves and burrowed into the hill, anchoring me and drawing nutrients from the soil and from any animals therein. The suddenness of this jarred our connection, causing it to briefly waver.

Fat beads of sweat streaked down Rajesh’s forehead as he moaned with pain and panic; the fungus reassured him this was a necessary step toward our goal. It entreated him to remain calm for the next step.

Rajesh’s adrenaline spiked. His pale, clammy hands trembled like leaves in a squall. A rumbling again from his gut and sinuses, and a choking sensation as tendrils slithered from his mouth, nose, ears—pushed around and past his eyeballs. The glowing pink tendrils grew higher and forked, fruiting and blossoming at an exponential rate. From their blooms, kaleidoscopic spores bubbled into the sky and floated over the still-sleeping town.

Witnessing the beauty of what we were together, our unity was reaffirmed. We were he, it, I— discrete, yet one. And I felt that consciousness expanding as the spores infused more and more townspeople with my essence.

At dawn, an army of townsfolk shambled up the hill like children taking first steps toward their beckoning father. They embraced me, climbed me, released their own roots and branches, which interwove with mine. The sapling I was grew into a mighty tree of writhing bodies and tendrils. With each addition, each new connection of minds, I grew in stature and wisdom, lived a thousand half-lives.

One of my denizens, a philosopher, saw me as Hobbes’ Leviathan: a commonwealth of people forming a single giant person. I found the comparison so apt that I decided to adopt the name ‘Leviathan.’

Finally, the person I’d been waiting for, Rajesh’s ex-wife, Evelyn, crested the hill, her pregnant belly preceding her.

Immediately I knew something was wrong. For though I whispered to her tenderly, with the voice of everybody in me, Soon you will be reunited, not only with your true husband, but with the divine itself, she cried out in protest. But when she reached me, she was compelled to take her proper place next to Rajesh, rooted and attached to his body.

Until then I had existed in relative harmony. Certainly, there had been dissenters, but once they were incorporated and experienced the freedom of knowing and being known without judgment, their minds softened and assimilated.

Not so with Evelyn. Everything in her raged against me. She wanted nothing to do with Rajesh any longer, let alone to be fettered to him, body and mind. His heart, torn before, ripped in two. Her venomous thoughts and feelings threatened to poison me. Something had to be done.

And then it struck me.

The newcomers to the tree, new boughs to be grafted on, had dwindled and ceased altogether. I realized my branches might never grow tall enough, nor my spores fly far enough, to reach every corner of this world.

From the synthesis of these twin problems came an elegant solution.

Over days, weeks, months, I documented every neuronal firing in Rajesh’s and Evelyn’s brains, and traced them with electrical impulses onto the brain of Evelyn’s unborn child, imbuing him with their thoughts, as well as those of the fungus.

Soon she gave birth and I cut off all nutrients to Rajesh’s and Evelyn’s bodies. They withered to husks and fell away from me.

Now all is harmonious within me once more. Rajesh has the opportunity to live out his dream of being forever bound to his wife, though within the body of her child, my child.

I can only hope forever is enough time for their conjoined minds to fall in love again.

Ah, but look! My child is stirring. Tentacle-like tendrils sprout from his every orifice, dragging him along as he sniffles and wails— no doubt a sign of the still-battling minds inside him. With every cough, burp, and hiccup, spores fly from his mouth like a storm of fireflies into the night air.

As he fades from sight of my thousand eyes, I rest assured that he will go on to plant forests of human trees; he will found cities; one day all will be:


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