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"Agaricus & the Giants" by Carlos Hernandez

Congratulations to Carlos Hernandez for being of the winners of our Fairy Tale Contest. Enjoy "Agaricus & the Giants" 🍄

Eons after our current era of science, human society had begun to peter out. The human quest to mold the Earth in their image had backfired and conflicts erupted as people scrambled to control what was left of the planet. Gone was the era of man, though not all hope was lost as from the places man once stood grew another, from flesh to dirt, to dirt to… mushroom? Yes, the next great species of earth were the Mycene, created from the souls of man that infused with mushrooms that grew aboveground, inheriting their intelligence, their resolve, but also their flaws.

In comes little Agaricus, a two inch tall button mushroom and only a few weeks old, though already a footsoldier to the Basadia Empire. Normally he’d be too young to join, but dwindling numbers have pushed local villages to send younger recruits, thus Agar was left with no choice other than to promise his mother Chanterelle a safe return. Timidly standing between ranks of Mycene soldiers, Agaricus awaited command from General Hiratake. “People of Basidia,” Hiratake bellowed from atop his toadstool podium, “it is our right, no, our duty to reclaim the lands that were once ours! The once great civilizations of Humans,” he continued, as he riled up his troops, “have imparted us with a destiny that no man nor shroom will be allowed to stand in the way of, certainly not those dreaded Zygos!” Those around Agaricus booed at the mere mention of Zygos, raising their spears in collective anger, to which Agar took note and participated half-heartedly.

The battalion of soldiers lurched forward, commencing their long journey to the enemy base. As the ranks picked up speed, Agaricus’s small legs could not keep at pace, and soon lost balance, rolling back and forth as to avoid being trampled. It seemed as though no one had noticed the downed soldier, and eventually little Agaricus was kicked out the side of the block formation where he met the downward slope of a hill. Dazed and alone, Agar found he had tumbled down to the mouth of a cave where he saw… fire? He stumbled in, indeed finding the glowing embers of a dying bonfire, though more importantly, fleshy creatures that matched the myths of humans back at the village, legends of the ancestors that vanished along with their knowledge and technology. Agaricus froze in shock, the humans were supposed to be extinct, and yet, here these giants cowered before him, as afraid of him as he was of them. This lessened his fear into a profound curiosity.

From what he had studied of animals, Agaricus reasoned that this was a small family of humans, with the parents shielding their child from perceived harm. Agaricus could almost laugh, he himself struggled to take down a praying mantis, but perhaps they’ve had bad experiences with his kind already, so he showed he meant no harm by dropping his spear to the ground. The child warmed up to him first with some time, and they began to communicate as best they could using drawings in the dirt. Agar drew of his home and the Basadia empire, dead set on constant expansion into new land, pointing to his spear to show his role in that, to which the family felt for. He drew friends he had lost due to war, Shiitake, Puffball, and Huichacotle.

Needing to share this discovery, Agaricus convinced the family to come along with him, guiding them to where his comrades had gone. Hitching a ride on the shoulder of the father, Agar saw in horror the truth of the battle in how one-sided it was, with the supposed Zygo threat nearly decimated. The Basidia troops stopped in their tracks at the sight of humans, shouting “giant!” and “golems, retreat!”, to which Agaricus responded that these humans meant no harm. “General Hiratake, you have to stop this,” shouted Agaricus, “how can we inherit the earth from humans when they’re still around! We can’t be living like this, repeating the same mistakes of the humans, not when infighting nearly brought them to extinction!” The troops looked around at what they had done, dropping their weapons, what had this been for?

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