This is a story for a flash fiction challenge at Terribleminds.

The conditions for the challenge were the use of random items from 4 categories, mine were:

  • Horror-Comedy
  • Apocalypse!
  • Insane Asylum
  • Sentient Fungus

So here’s what I put together.

Greg cleared his throat. “Right, so, um, Mr. Pepper, is it?”

The man wearing the straight jacket shifted in his chair but said nothing else. He was still staring absently at the metal table between him and Greg. State Patrol Officer Simmons kept his eyes hard on the seated man from where he leaned against the concrete wall. Greg glanced at Jim and back to the seated man.

“So, Mr. Pepper, I just want to go over this again to make sure I have it all straight.” He looked down at the open file folder before him before continuing. “You were found in the grocery store, in the produce section, covered in blood. The produce clerk was found dead with his head bashed in and you holding a mallet.” The three foot long wooden device lay in its evidence bag in the corner. “You insisted that you had not kill him, but that the…”

Greg had to pause, Jim saw the corners of his mouth curling up on their own. Greg cleared his throat, pulled his features under control and continued.

“But that the vegetables had killed him.”

The man’s head came up at that. There were still bits of something grey on his face. Jim’s stomach roiled at the thought that they were probably brains.

“Vegetables never hurt anyone,” the man said forcibly. “Don’t be ridiculous. Only a madman would believe that.”

Greg blinked in confusion. He opened his mouth.

“The vegetables didn’t do anything. I said the mushrooms killed him,” Mr. Pepper said.

Officer Simmons snorted.

Jim couldn’t help himself. “The … the mushrooms?”

Mr. Pepper nodded. “The Morels. Should be called fungus of death. Disgusting things. It’s too late anyway. They’ve already put their plan into action, the world will be theirs soon. It’s only a matter of time.”

Greg’s mouth still hung open. Jim nudged him with an elbow and it snapped shut.

Jim had apparently gotten him going again. “We made them pay for it though. Oh yes we certainly did. Me and Mrs. Dash got them good.” His eyes gleamed with satisfaction.

Jim glanced to Greg, just confusion there. Officer Simmons jerked his head toward the mallet in its plastic bag. Jim could make out chunks of grey matter covering the mallet’s head.

“Oh, I see,” Jim said weakly.

At least the grey bit stuck to Pepper’s face was less disturbing than he had first thought. He mumbled as much and Pepper froze.

“What? Where? Where is it?” Pepper asked, increasingly frantic with each question. “Get it off,” he said, then started shouting, “Get it off me. Get that damn fungus off me now!”

He whipped his head back and forth as he yelled. Simmons and Greg converged on him. Greg pressed Pepper’s head between his hands while Simmons quickly picked the chunk from his cheek.

The man had ceased thrashing but his body heaved through short panicked breathes, his eyes were wide and locked on to the grey bit pinched between Simmons’ fingers.

Simmons rolled his eyes clearly tiring of the man’s antics.

“Hell’s bells,” he cursed, “It’s just a mushroom. See.” And with that he popped the grey bit into his mouth.

Officer Simmons had seemed like the gruff type, maybe a bit overly forceful, but he hadn’t appeared obviously stupid when he brought Pepper in. Jim had apparently been wrong in this assessment. The action had the desired effect on Pepper as he froze, but then again so did Jim and Greg. All eyes were now on Simmons.

He rolled his eyes again and opened his mouth to speak, but no sound came out. No air came out either. A curious look crossed his face and then he grabbed his throat.

Always the first to leap into action, Greg was behind him in a heartbeat. Blows to the back did nothing but swing Simmon’s head around like a life size bobblehead, and so the old Heimlich came into play. Greg wrapped his arms around Simmon’s midriff and squeezed. Nadda. Squeezed again. Simmon’s eyes bulged. Third squeeze and Simmon’s eyes really bulged. They bulged right from their sockets. Jim didn’t remember that happening before. Fourth time and Simmons’ entire head pulsed like a water balloon. Greg was oblivious as he got a better grip for another attempt.

“Um, Greg…”

The fifth squeeze was already on. He had a tight grip and was really going for it. Simmons features distended from the neck up. Pepper screamed and toppled out of his chair. Jim’s head whipped around at the clatter and then there was another sound. The one of Simmons’ head exploding.

The  small room was painted in crimson gore. Jim could feel it running down the side of his face. There was something warm and wet in his ear. He shouldn’t have but he looked back. Greg’s entire face was plastered in bits of Simmons. It looked like some might have even gotten in his mouth. He still held Simmons’ body upright, but above the collar of the regulation blue shirt was a just a dripping mess. A dripping mess and something grey in the center of what should have been his neck. Something that might have been a rapidly swelling mushroom.

Greg let the body fall with a dull splat and back peddled into the wall. Jim had apparently lost the ability to speak but Pepper hadn’t.

Somehow he’d avoided most of the splattering gore and was pressed into the corner with Mrs. Dash. He was rocking back and forth in time to his words.

“Shroom doom. Shroom doom. Shroom doom.”

At one point Jim might have called him crazy, but… but what did you say to an exploding head?

Greg made a sound from the floor. A choking sound. His hands were clawing frantically at his own throat. His eyes were wide with panic. His face was already swelling, pulsing with each heartbeat.

Jim found his words. “Oh shit.”

Greg’s head exploded.