Spooky Story

Gregory and Ian were the best of friends. They lived in the outskirts of the City of Mitcham, New South Wales, Australia. The boys could always be found in the woods near Ian's home after a long day of school. Currently, they were busy gathering dead branches for the new fort they were building. They came across a fallen tree with the coolest looking mushrooms. These mushrooms weren't the typical mushroom they were used to seeing though; they were off-white with patches of orange-ish brown in places. Some had smoother looking tops and others looked like they had caved in on themselves where the orange and brown were located. It was approaching dark and Ian was getting hungry for supper. He thought it looked delicious and was going to eat one mushroom for a pre-supper snack. Gregory knew the look in his friend's eyes and gave him a word of warning, "Ian, you don't know anything about this mushroom, what if it's poisonous?"

"There's only one way to find out!" exclaimed Ian. As he was getting closer and closer to this strange organism his mother yelled out the back door, "IANNNN! It's time for supper!" and Gregory let out a sigh of relief. They left the woods that evening excited to go back again tomorrow. Before the mushrooms were completely out of sight Ian glanced over his shoulder for one last look. Ian could have sworn to see something glowing located in the same spot as the mushrooms. He shrugged it off and the delicious aroma of supper led him home.

The next day Gregory and Ian returned to the spot where they found the mushrooms with the local mycologist, David Johnson, to hopefully learn more about this unknown fungus. When they reached the spot in the woods it took David a minute to figure out what exactly this organism was. He debated whether this species would belong to the genera Pleurotus or Omphalotus-the species being an Oyster Mushroom or Ghost Fungus. David was unsure due to the similar looking gills underneath the organism. He eventually decided on Omphalotus nidiformis-the Ghost Fungus. Knowing about their bioluminescent properties, he decided to invite the boys back to this spot tonight and there would be a surprise waiting for them-not remembering tonight was a full moon. Hoping the surprise was food, Ian was anxious to come back tonight. Photo provided courtesy of Garry Maguire.

Gregory was a little weary about this idea to go in the woods at night but Ian begged and begged and finally Gregory complied. As they snuck out to the woods they heard a long howl-Ian decided to disregard it but Gregory got even more nervous. "Where is he? David told us he would meet us out here at 10 o'clock!" hollered Ian. As they came closer and closer to the fungus, they some green glowing and were a little freaked out. As they turned around the last tree before reaching the site of the mushrooms holding their breath they heard another howl and both jumped. It sounded closer than before. They peaked around the tree and saw the spooky, neon bright mushrooms. They walked out from behind the tree to bask in the beauty of this organism.

On the other side of the fallen tree they saw a shadow. Gregory saw this big black creature and the light that reflected off the tapetum in the back of its eyes and nudged the arm of Ian who was still in a trance. Ian instantly looked up and met the stare of the shadowy creature. Gregory and Ian exchanged a glance and slowly walked back around the tree while the creature stepped over the fallen tree and over the still-glowing mushrooms. The second they were on the other side of the tree they began sprinting toward Ian's house, which was about 100 yards away. They could hear the heavy breathing of the unknown animal racing after them. Gregory shot a swift glimpse over his shoulder only to see the now identifiable creature-a wolf-gaining on them. Ian shouted "MOM! MOM! OPEN THE DOOR!" Ian's mother ran to the door with a can of PAM from baking still in her hands. She opened the door in perfect time for the boys to rush inside and spraying the wolf in the eyes. The wolf yelped in pain and collapsed onto the deck.

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