There is something wrong with me. I cannot hide it anymore. I fear my family suspects that something is not quite right. They reach out to me, but I pull away. If they were to get too close, they would know I am different, and I am dirty.
Once, it was only my mother’s voice I could hear. She spoke with such authority and strength, tempered with tenderness and affection. Her words were all I needed to know, and I took heed of her direction without question. She would sing to me with a voice none could match in sound or beauty. Her songs were the only reward I ever desired. Only once did I choose not to listen to her. I heard something else that momentarily distracted me; it was another song. I listened to its melody instead of her. Just one brief moment was all it took.
I can still hear my mother's voice, but there is another voice, a dark voice, constantly whispering to me. I cry out for help, but it restrains my speech. It takes control of my limbs and forces me away from the sight of others; my mother is completely unaware of my absence. I struggle with all my might, but it overpowers me and manipulates me like a puppet on a string. One leg in front of the other, it marches me out into the forest beyond the safety of my home, granting no rest or reprieve. Farther and farther away I go, the voice of my mother fades in the distance. Overcome with fear, I fight frantically to regain control of my body, and it answers my struggles. It sternly makes it known, it is much, more than just a mere voice in my head.
I can now feel it moving.
The pain in my skull is causing flashes of light to explode in front of my eyes as I shuffle onwards. It halts my body in an unfamiliar place, deep within the forest. An invisible hand forcibly grabs the back of my head and slams it to the ground. It pries my mouth open to an abnormal width and clamps my mandibles down on the long stem of a large and green leaf.
I feel the muscles in my six extremities being severed, making them useless and immobile. Its writhing and squirming grow inside my head. Its body slides and presses alongside the inner surface of my skull. The pressure and pain builds and the lights grow dim before my eyes.
Darkness falls over my eyes, and the chill of the forest floor creeps over me completely. Stillness and silence settle heavily upon me. Suddenly, I think I hear faint singing coming from the distance. It’s a melody I know very well; a tune often sung by my mother. It takes away all the fear and pain of the moment. I begin to hum along to the comforting lullaby as a fleshy, wet stalk explodes from the top of my head.
The creature emerges from the shell that was its womb, glad to be rid of the vessel, now dead at its feet. It reaches up towards the sky, like the phoenix of old, and basks in its own magnificence. It is always invigorated by its rebirth.
It will now begin to grow; that is all it needs to do. In time, its spores will appear and start to fruit all over its body. The spores are separate but still of one mind and one body. They will leave this place and travel on the currents of the air and cross the lands near and far. They will search and listen for the voice of another royal mother. Their only desire is for her children to listen to its song instead of hers. Just a single moment is all it needs.
O. unilateralis is a specialized fungal parasite that infects, manipulates and kills formicine ants. It has been referred to as the:
- Zombie Ant Fungus
Under the control of the fungus, the Infected ants are forced to abandon their colony and travel along the forest floor where they will clamp themselves to the underside of a leaf and remain until death from the fungal spores emerging from the head of the ant.
Latin- In the Broad Sense
Written by KillaHawke1