I’m about ten chapters into this incarnation of the same story that I’ve been trying to write for years now. Naturally, I’m looking to get rid of half of the chapters, but I’ll worry about that later. The working title is The Happy Valley and this bit is from chapter 9 or so and it pretty much sums up where this story is heading.
Max Grander jolted awake as soon as he hit the floor. He may not have been all together there to begin with but he had more of his faculties about him than he had earlier. He took a moment to shake the remaining clouds from his mind. He looked down at his ratty dingy bathrobe and his filthy sticky flesh and grew increasingly appalled at his surroundings. He appeared to be alone in abominable basement. The latest intruder into his house, Deeds, was sucked into the storm drain. For he all knew, his ghost friend had only been a construct born out of his own maddened mind-
“She’s gone,” he heard the solemn voice beside him and his periphery grew black. Grander jumped, it was one more scare to add to the evening- or whatever time it happened to be. He didn’t know how much more his heart could take. It was as if his fevered imagination had come into fruition. He turned to face his shadowed friend. “Can you-” he stammered in awe and asked in earnest, “read my thoughts?”
“Oh-” Bracken paused and Grander swore he saw him visibly shudder at the thought. “Dear Gods no-nonono… no…” He trailed off as he watched Grander’s face grow etched in worry. Gingerly, he pulled himself to his wobbly bare feet and tugged his robe closer. The fusty fabric offered little comfort. “The mushrooms-‘ he muttered searching his surroundings for the fearsome fungus. “Where are the mushrooms?” The last time Grander saw them they were of infinite size and they were spreading. He ascended into the heavens with them and from there he watched the world burn. From just the thought of it happening he felt his knees give out. For a horrible second he thought he’d never stop falling, but he regained his footing.
“They are still in the coal chamber,” Bracken pointed to in the cramped room that no light dared to touch. “Albeit a bit squished, her fall kicked up quite a cloud, you received a heavy dose.” He said drolly.
“You’re not affected by the spores?” Grader asked and realized it was a stupid question the moment it came out of his mouth.
“Nope,” Bracken said, his tone was dour but there was a hint of relief in his voice, and he held out a hand. “There is nothing to cling to. They just pass through. You and her-” he motioned to the hole in the floor as if the beast that was once Deeds would explode back out of it.
“I don’t like this!” Max Grander shouted after a few seconds of silence. It was clear something was bubbling up inside him ready to blow, suddenly enraged, he screamed at the shadowed form before him, “any of it! The spores, the fever, I keep getting knocked out every night and waking up on the damned floor. There are intruders, and mushrooms, and monsters. I’m shouting at a ghost! I’m- I’m just sick of it!” He whined and opined his laundry list of complaints that had accumulated over the past few days. His spittle sprayed through Bracken, “everything!” He even saw the world end, but he dared not say that part aloud. But deep down there was a part of him that secretly wished it would. “I just want this insanity to end,” he sobbed for a second and managed to gain his composure. Max Grander huffed and fussed with front of his robe. With new resolve he made his way to the rickety cellar steps that led to the world upstairs. “I’m going to get this off of me,” he motioned to his bare skin. “I’m going to have a long hot soak in the tub, and then I’m going to pet my cat until I fall asleep!”
On a mission, Grander disappeared through the blasted basement doorway. Behind him it appeared as if Bracken had grown ashen.