Best of the Net 2015  

The Face of Things

I had three uncles. The one I loved most was mind-controlled by a fungus. It was the kind of fungus you get if you clean your ear with a very old vegetable. The uncle I loved most used to work in the produce aisle at a grocery store. The produce aisle was like an old folks home for vegetables, and that’s where my uncle got the fungus. He snorted a pharmaceutical powder and washed his head with a special shampoo, but the fungus kept growing until it poked through the top of his skull. If you didn’t know better, you would of thought it was a case of spinal ejection; that’s how much the fungus looked like a spine. As soon as the fungus pokes out through the skull, it starts receiving signals from funguses on other planets. My uncle was extremely tall so the signals were especially strong. He made himself stilts so he was even taller, and I made stilts too so we could walk around together and talk about the galaxy. Technically, my uncle was dead, and it was the fungus I was talking to with my dead uncle transmitting what the fungus was saying and acting as a translation device. I knew this but I still thought of the fungus as my uncle. It’s hard to love things that don’t have faces, and my uncle was the face of the fungus. I loved him a lot. One day, my other two uncles cornered me as I was stiltwalking on observatory hill. They doused me with gasoline and tried to light me on fire, but I ran fast on my stilts and their lighters kept going out as they ran after. Later they said they were trying to save the human race. This is terrible but years after the uncle I loved most disappeared I found my other two uncles dead in the cab of their work truck. I saw the silhouettes and thought at first they had been mind-controlled by a fungus; they had long things poking out of the tops of their skulls. But with them, it wasn't a fungus. It was a case of spinal ejection, plain and simple.

–Joanna Ruocco (from Threadcount Magazine)