An expiration date was not something Darren believed in. He believed that bread would deliver for as long as it could, and that all loafs were different; each possessing some unique quality to fend off the finality of mould. Darren didn’t believe in factory-timed expiration dates, coldy calculated by a computer that only sought to help the bottom line in the profit and loss columns. These were not a true representation of the fight in the bread and its ability to provide nourishment. Suffice to say, Darren believed in the bread, and it was because of this belief he came to believe in the mould…
His first mistake was the lemon and ginger tea, his go-to at the first signs of a sore throat. Eager to fend off illness, Darren knew better than to go for a gulp a mere minute after pouring the boiling water, and the honey that he hadn’t bothered stirring provided no relief in his foolishness.
He immediately realised his error.
The tea was spat out into the sink and Darren, dear sweet Darren, cursed his impatience as his tongue became matted in burning.
This will fuck my taste for a week, he thought.
But this was not the real issue. No sir-ee.
The real issue was that his tongue was now unable to taste the growing patch of mould emerging from the underside of his hastily-buttered toast; toast from a bread loaf he had payed his usual lack-of-attention to.
Chomping away, oblivious to his invitation, Darren picked up his keys and rushed out the door, ruing the annoyance a burnt tongue would have on his culinary exploits for the week.
If only he knew.
Darren didn’t feel so good all morning.
“Late night?” asked his coworkers, playfully.
“No, not that. It’s my stomach. Something doesn’t feel right.”
“You eat something off?”
“Nah that couldn’t be it—hi there, how’s your day today? All right will that be all? I’ll just scan those for you… Okay you have nice a nice day… Yeah nah my stomach’s fucked, ay.”
“You going to tell Alex?”
Darren shrugged, “Nah, I’ve taken too many sickies already. Hopefully it’ll pass…”
…But it didn’t, and by lunchtime Darren was up in the breakroom with a misty lightness in his head and a belly on the fritz.
“You don’t look so fresh,” said Alex, his manager.
“I don’t feel it either.”
“If you want to go home, I can’t stop you,” said Alex, clearly reluctant.
Darren thought about it for a second, umm-ing and uhh-ing, pretending that he truly wanted to push on and serve all those customers he bled for so much, but in the end bravely concluded that maybe it would be for the best if he went home to rest.
Darren got a nice spot on the train, it being the middle of the day and all. This pleased him, and as he relaxed into his seat, he realised that he felt a lot better than before. He felt a little guilty because of this and wondered what they would think if he returned to work. Maybe Alex would respect him more and then further on down the track he could use that leverage for a sickie when he really needed it? But this was all in good humour,Darren chuckled to himself—he wasn’t going to go back to work. He was just going to put his headphones in, listen to some Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam and consign the rest of the world to oblivion. But just before he pressed play and settled into that playlist of nostalgic 90s alt-rock, he heard someone greet him.
Darren startled in his seat and snapped his head around. Everyone else (and there were only a few other passengers) had their heads down, locked into their phones. Darren shrugged it off and returned to his own device.
Darren shuddered again, this time looking once more around him. A man in a suit glanced up and then returned to his phone once ascertaining Darren was probably just off-kilter.
I’m not on the train. I’m inside you.
“JESUS CHRIST!” Darren blurted and this caused everyone in the train to lock eyes with him, all except the man who had noticed Darren before, because he had already certified Darren’s loosened screws and wanted no part of it.
Darren went back looking out the window, waiting for all the looks to die off, and soon the voice returned once more, oh so softly.
If this is a bad time, we can talk when we get home.
Darren didn’t know how to respond to that. Did he need to say anything?
Okay… let’s talk when we get home? He thought to himself.
Sure thing, said the voice.
Darren was on eggshells the rest of the journey.
Approaching the door to his house, Darren found his feet losing their hold. Was he really going to go in there? What if he didn’t? Would that delay the voice?
It won’t, said the voice, soft in its tone. Relax, I just want to talk.
Darren sighed and got his keys out.
Luckily, no one was home; Lisa was at work and Carlton was still on holidays.
Darren felt the silence heavy in his head, just waiting for it all to break. He was the first to talk out loud.
“Uh, just let me get changed,” he said aloud to no one in particular.
Of course, make yourself comfortable, said the voice.
Comfortable, ha! thought Darren, before he quickly retracted this thought with tense eyes. It definitely heard that, whatever it was. “Did you hear that?” Darren whispered.
Yes I did, but there is no need to fret, Darren. Now get changed and then come into the kitchen. We have much to discuss.
Darren approached the kitchen like a guilty defendant on trial, even though he was dressed-down in his trackies and singlet.
“Uhhh, okay, so what is going on? I’m, like, not too keen on this, ay.”
Don’t worry Darren. I’m not here to hurt you. I’m here to help. I want you to understand that our encounter is the most wonderful thing.
“Uhh, okay, sure…so what are you?”
I’m the mould, Darren. I came from the bread you ate this morning.
Darren’s eyes seized onto the pantry. He burst forth and flung the pantry door wide open. There it was, fourth shelf, right in the goddamn centre. He was about to snatch it, dig his fingers in and slam dunk it right into the bin, when the voice began its soft musings once more.
I’ve looked inside your heart, Darren. You have a good heart, a caring heart, but I find sadness there too. A sadness that I want to heal…
Darren’s hands were halted mid-strike. “I’m not… I’m not that sad.”
You don’t have to lie to me, Darren. I know, and because I know, I can help.
Lisa had a half-day on Wednesday. She had just finalised a report that had been a long time coming; a stressful few weeks and this half-day was her reward. Arriving home, she planned to just curl up into bed and do a whole bunch of nothing, only to find her mind still buzzing in the kind of work mode that ran her into a key Account Manager position at Gold & Ross. Naturally, she noticed that the tornado of Darren had once again laid waste to the living room and kitchen downstairs and, after her regular judgement of his character, resolved to put another one over on her lousy housemate in terms of any kind of meaningful contribution to making this house a home.
Lisa started with the vacuuming around the living room and eventually made her way to the dishes in the kitchen. She could’ve thrown them in the dishwasher but decided it more satisfying to hand wash each in a methodical fashion.
It was only after a good half an hour that Lisa found the downstairs impeccable and decided a naughty treat was in order. Opening the pantry, her attention was instead drawn to the fourth shelf, where a bread loaf had begun to sprout a gross green and blue.
Lisa shook her head in dismay, “Oh really, Darren. What are we going to do with you?” And she swiped the mouldy loaf and disposed of it effortlessly into the bin.
It was at that moment, far away in the Chatsworth Buntings hardware store, Darren was putting away the returns into their respective department trays when a shrill scream cried out in his head, a scream that refused to stop. He covered his ears, trying to cut out the screaming but there was no use. It was all within him, shrieking under his skin, and he knew exactly the source.
Darren did not shout back, telling this voice to stop, but understood he needed to go home right away. So he ran around the counter, past Alex and all the other employees who just watched on, dumbfounded as he bolted out the door.
He rushed home, taking a taxi and pressuring the driver to speed up, even offering more money if the driver went through a red. The screaming inside Darren had turned into a soft weeping, and the taxi driver noticed Darren rocking back and forth, muttering to himself, “Don’t you worry, Master. I’m coming. Just hold on tight.”
Finally making it to his house, Darren threw his money at the taxi driver before bursting through the door…to find Lisa boiling tea in the kitchen.
“Ah, Darren, You’re home early.”
Darren was speechless and breathing heavy from the adrenaline. He hadn’t counted on Lisa being home.
“You’re home early too,” he muttered, almost as if it were an insult.
“I finished a big project at work, so I thought I deserved some time to relax…and what happened with you? You seem awfully rattled.”
The screaming returned. It was hard to hear Lisa over all the piercing pain. Darren strained himself to not reach for his ears and look funny—well, funnier than he usually looked. Darren’s eyes zoned in on the kitchen bin lodged in the corner next to the stairs.
“I was just surprised you were home, is all,” he eventually mumbled out of his stupefied jowl.
“Well, sorry for living here!” Lisa joked. “And sorry for cleaning up too! You know your bread’s a little passed its used by date, Darren, FYI.”
Get me out of here! howled the mould.
Darren snapped back into life. “Oh, yeah, that’s my bad. Is the bread in the bin?”
“Well I couldn’t just let it expand and take over our pantry, could I?”
“I’ll just take it out to the bin on the street,” Darren said, a little too triumphantly.
“You do that, Daz. I’m telling you, you put your mind to something, there’s nothing you can’t do.” And with that, the kettle came to its boil for Lisa’s tea and the mould repeated, Get me the hell outta here.
Darren acted as casual as one could when taking out the garbage, especially when the garbage in question kept bemoaning about how dark it was in their bin-juice confines.
“But you’re already in plastic packaging—and you live in the pantry—which is pretty dark I’d say most of the time!”
A mould can tell the difference, just like a mould can heal broken souls…
Darren couldn’t argue with that, nor could he argue the bemused look his neighbour across the road was sporting after catching Darren talking to a loaf of bread, cradling it in his arms as if it were a child. Blisteringly self-conscious at this point, Darren thrust the mould under his shirt and scrambled inside. Lisa was still in the kitchen when she saw the outlines of a large object bulging from Darren’s shirt. They locked in a stare, one of utter confusion, before Darren squealed with awkwardness and ran up the stairs to his room.
I really need to live on my own, decided Lisa.
The Philosophy of the Mould
“Master, where did I go wrong?”
You were too busy eating bread; too quickly, too soon. You must learn to be patient. Allow nature to take its course and only then you will find inner peace. Remember, a rolling stone gathers no mould.
“I don’t like my job.”
Check your phone.
“Well, they fired me for running out on my shift.”
“How did you know?”
The mould knows more than you think.
“What will I do now?”
Look at the mould, and how it cares not for material goods. It is happy. And Darren can be too, because the mould has a plan, Darren. Do you trust the mould, Darren?
First, I will need replenishment. You must buy more bread and place it in the pantry with me. You must then leave us alone for a day or two. Do not disturb us during this time, Darren. It is a very private ceremony. I will not speak my words of comfort to you during this time, but do not fret for this will only be temporary.
And now for the second phase. We need to talk about Lisa…
Do Not Disturb
It was Thursday afternoon when Lisa first heard the sound: a shuffling of goods behind the pantry door, the sly adventuring of vermin. Lisa sighed, what had she done to deserve this? She kept the house clean and for what? So that little mice could help themselves on a clean surface? She placed her hand as quietly as possible on the pantry door, the shuffling getting louder and faster.
Swinging the door open, expecting to see a fleeing tail, Lisa was even more mortified to see that another mouldy loaf had reappeared front and centre, with a perfectly normal, full loaf of bread pushed up next to it, lying horizontal.
Darren, awoken from his peaceful afternoon nap, came to the immediate conclusion he was very much in the shit. He rushed downstairs to find a seething Lisa, the pantry door wide open and the mould deeply disturbed.
“Darren, can you please explain to me why you don’t throw out the old bread once you buy the new bread? I know times are tight losing your job and all, but c’mon, bread’s not that expensive.”
Darren was lost for words. All he could mumble was, “I’m sorry, I just didn’t notice.”
The shock on Lisa’s face was hard to contain. “Darren, the bread’s more blue than bloody white! Please, chuck this shit out of here before it spreads to the other food. Case in point, I don’t know what happened, but your new loaf already has a hole in its bottom and it looks like it’s starting to turn blue—so maybe chuck both of them out, actually.”
Darren dropped his head and reluctantly took both loafs from the pantry.
“Thank you. Outside bin. Please.”
Walking outside with the depleted shuffle of an inmate on death row, Darren whispered his apology to the mould and its new concubine.
Darren do not fear, for I have a plan. Leave us in here, and when you can, come and move me to your room.
“But you love the pantry!”
It is only temporary. Remember my words: Be patient. We need to take care of Lisa, make sure she understands.
“But how? There’s no way she’ll see things our way.”
Tell her you’re very sorry. Tell her that you’ll make it up to her.
“How?” asked Darren.
We will make a feast.
Darren The Masterchef
Darren chopped the onions, cut the capsicum, broke up the mince and carefully removed parts of the mould to be thrown into his noodle stir-fry of mould assimilation/thanksgiving.
Now, when my body is burned, I will scream and beg for you to stop, but you mustn’t listen to me. We must be strong and make sacrifices for the greater Mould. Will you be strong with me, Darren?
Let’s get cooking.
AHHHHHHHH it burns! The capsicum is infusing into my thigh! The flavour is unbearable! Please, for the love of mould, don’t put in the chilli!
“I have to, it’s Lisa’s favourite.”
Please make it quick—AHHHHHH MY ARM-EYES—it feels like shower cleaner! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
When Lisa got home from work the next night, Darren was waiting with a candle-lit dinner set atop their foldout trestle table, used for only the fanciest occasions.
“Darren, if you’re trying to start something between us, I feel I must stop you right there.”
Darren took another look at the fancy display of awaited romance, and laughed it off as the mould instructed him. “Oh, no, haha. Sorry, I’ve confused you. I wanted to make you dinner to make up for all my weird behaviour recently—and to thank you for keeping this house upright all the time!”
Very good, whispered the mould.
Lisa smiled. “As far as weird behaviour goes I think this takes the cake. Look I really appreciate what you’re trying to do here, and I’ll be even more appreciative if you want to make a routine of cleaning up, but Ashley is coming over soon and we were going to go out for dinner and drinks.”
The more the merrier, said the mould.
“Well, why not save on dinner? C’mon, the more the merrier! You can go out later no worries. Besides, it’s your favourite.”
Lisa took in the set up of it all. It was really quite cute, honestly. “Did you add the chilli?”
“All right I’m in. Just let me get changed. Ashley will be here in 20 minutes.”
Darren’s eyes beamed. They beamed a little too brightly, so much so that a flutter of regret flushed through Lisa. But it was too late now, she’d already accepted. The trap was set.
Ashley arrived all dressed up for a night on the town. Darren greeted her at the door and mentioned with his most cheery face that she would be dining at Casa de Darren’s tonight.
Lisa came down the stairs just as Ashley was about to say thanks but no thanks.
“I’m afraid it’s true,” said Lisa, “but trust me: Darren’s stir fry is surprisingly good.”
Ashley’s eyes darted between Lisa and the eye-boggling expectant Darren, and wondered what she’d done to deserve being backed into a corner like this.
“Okay…but we’re still going out after, right?”
“Of course,” Lisa and Darren blurted at the same time.
Darren was careful to ensure that all the cooked pieces of his master were strewn about in tactical spots: inside a capsicum, stuck to the backside of a mushroom. Sensing that victory was near, he giddily exclaimed, “Bon appetite!”
As they started on the noodles, Ashley carried forth into a talk about the latest goss at her work. Darren smiled and nodded along, despite clearly not being included in the conversation. When he found that they hadn’t touched the backside of the mushrooms nor inside the capsicums he waited until Ashley had stopped ragging on about her new co-worker before cutting in. “Lisa, I noticed you haven’t tried the mushrooms.”
“Lisa’s not a fan of mushrooms are you, Lisa?” Ashley butted in.
Lisa was about to agree before Ashley playfully launched her fork at Lisa’s mushroom and threw it onto her own plate. “Luckily, I love them,” she smiled at Darren.
Darren tried to smile back, but it came off as over-the-top (too much teeth).
Brushing this off, Ashley began a new conservation about her thoughts on her next holiday that Darren once again took no part in. Instead, he kept an eye on Lisa’s capsicum, waiting with all the patience in the world.
Lisa was almost done with the noodles before her fork slid over to the capsicum, the burnt little bit of mould wedged in nicely. She speared through the capsicum…and as she lifted it to her mouth…her phone started vibrating. And then Lisa’s fork was placed downward, the phone now up to her ears as she stood to move away from the precious Mould, “Sorry guys, I’ve got to take this,” she said, leaving Ashley with a very frustrated Darren.
“Is something wrong, Darren?” asked Ashley, “you look a bit flustered.”
Darren snapped back into life and tried to imitate being a good conversationalist, like he was a long time ago, before he and the mould merged.
“No. I’m good. Did you enjoy your meal?”
“Yes, it was lovely.”
And then it got very awkward as Darren struggled to get past the pleasantries. Sweat began to pour from his forehead as he failed to find his tongue for even the most basic of questions, like what are you guys getting up to tonight? How long have you known Lisa etc. etc. In this vast chasm of unending silence, Ashley became restless and reached over to Lisa’s fork, the prized capsicum in tow. “Let’s see if she notices,” Ashley joked before Darren shouted “NO!”
Stunned, Ashley turned to Lisa who had just re-entered the living room. “That was Mark,” said Lisa, “he and Gards are already at Hannigans. Should we leave now?”
“Absolutely” said Ashley in overblown relief.
“Okay, Darren, thanks for the lovely dinner, I’ll finish the rest when I get home, promise.”
And just like that, Ashley forced them out the door and Darren was left all alone with not a fragment left of mould in his stir-fry.
What are we going to do?
Relax, Darren. We’ll have Ashley soon enough.
Darren was woken the next morning by a banging on his door.
“Darren, wake up. I want to speak to you.”
Darren entered his shitting-his-pants mode and walked over to the door, glancing back at the mould shrine in his wardrobe for moral support.
Have no fear, for thy mould is near.
Lisa was seething. “Darren, Ashley went home sick last night and I don’t think it was the drink. Did you do something to the food last night?”
Feet glued to the spot and his face doing its best to shrivel away into non-existence to minimize surface pain, Darren was once again at a loss of words. Luckily his guide was with him.
Tell her there’s nothing wrong with Ashley.
“Um, there’s nothing wrong with Ashley?”
“What the hell are you talking about—and why does your room smell so funky?”
“I have…body odour issues.”
Lisa threw her hands up in frustration. “That’s it, I’m done. I can’t handle this weirdness anymore.” And she stomped back to her room, only to hear a knock at the front door…
Lisa did a double take when she saw that it was Ashley.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to see Darren?” Ashley says in a very confused voice.
Lisa then watched as Ashley’s eye drew vacant, permeating a stylish sense of brain dead. Her jaw went slack as she dribbled out an, “uhhhhh,” like a stupid idiot.
“Are you okay, Ashley?”
“I need to see Darren.”
“You already said that, I just want to know why?”
“Uh, for intercourse?”
Lisa blinked. “What did you just say?”
Ashley squinted in confusion. “For intercourse. Is this a sufficient answer?”
Lisa backed off from the door. “What the f—maybe you should go home and have a lie down or something?”
“I’ll be fine. You worry too much, Lisa” said Ashley, now moving forward and forcing Lisa to step aside. Watching Ashley walk up the stairs, Lisa wondered to herself: Darren, what the hell have you done to my friend?
Once Ashley had entered Darren’s room and closed the door, Lisa crept up to the room with an empty glass and carefully placed it on the wall. She put her ear against the base of the glass. This went against all her senses of decency but Lisa felt it necessary: she needed to find out what the hell was happening to her friend. She had seen this glass trick work in a couple of movies and was surprised to find that it actually worked. Even more surprising though (and a whole lot of disgusting) was the conversation she heard between two people who had barely ever talked more than five minutes to each other.
“It’s beautiful. Can I hold it?”
“It’s so squishy, and feels so good.”
Lisa tried hard not to gag and considered just leaving the house for good at that stage. But what she heard next freezes her to the spot.
“What are we going to do about Lisa?”
“We will convert her. We’ll organise another dinner.”
“But what if she suspects something is up…”
“Then we will have no choice but to force feed it to her.”
“Humans can be so stubborn.”
“Luckily we don’t have to worry about that anymore…”
They then began to chant a mantra referring to the undying wisdom of the Mould and that’s when it all clicked for Lisa: That stupid loaf of bread must have somehow infected Darren and now Ashley; and if Lisa didn’t do something about it, she’d be next. She carefully backed away and retreated to her room to assess her options. She thought about going to the police, but then realised just who comes off as nuts in that situation (hint: it’s not the people worshipping mould).
Finally making a decision, she emerged from her room to find Ashley there, eyes sharp, waiting for her. Ashley’s hands were pulled up to her chest, her thumbs twiddling.
“How was the intercourse?” asked Lisa, her nerves bubbling through her voice.
“Oh it was excellent, yes, very good intercourse.”
“Well, that’s terrific,” said Lisa as she tried to move past, only for Ashley to block her.
“Lisa, Darren and I would like to have another dinner. We think this is a good idea to have another dinner because the last one was so good, yes?”
“Uh, yeah. Just peachy.”
“Good. We will see you tonight then, yes?”
“I’d love nothing more.”
Ashley then let Lisa reach for the stairs and swiftly make her way to the front door. Once outside and gasping for and sanity, Lisa’s first instinct was to run and never look back. She gazed both ways down her street and the horizons each beheld, knowing that if she ran they’d never find her.
But she had a plan and a friend that needed her help.
The chemist scanned all the little boxes, one after the other; enough to thin an elephant.
“Having a party or some spring cleaning?”
Lisa looked at him through dark raybans shades. “Both.”
Ashley and Darren did not notice the large bag Lisa walked in with. They were merely happy she returned and rejoiced in this by confirming that she would be attending their dinner party.
“It won’t be a party without me,” she said behind her shades, admittedly feeling a little cool in her coolness, if not equally terrified. She sensed their optimism and saw this was her chance. “One other thing: I just bought a bottle of wine I thought we could have for tonight.”
“Very good,” they both said in unison. “Wine is good at complementing food. You will enjoy the food.”
Lisa agreed with this amazing fact before she made her way to her room, locking the door and getting to work.
The living room was lit with candles and upon the tiny trestle table was the exact same meal that Darren had made before. This time though, the mould had been infused and sprinkled everywhere like blue parmesan cheese.
They called her out to her. “Lisa, it’s time for dinner. Won’t you join us?”
Lisa slumped down the stairs, her hands clutching the wine rather uneasy. She did her best not to flinch when she saw them sitting in their newly-made white robes, eyes gleaming, all traces of humanity eagerly shed. She slid into her seat and regarded the mouldy clusterfuck that was her meal for this evening.
“Go on, try some of the nice flakes,” said Ashley.
“It’s a garnish,” added Darren. “You always talk about how you love garnish.”
Lisa looked at the mess of a plate and then back at them. She reached for the wine. “How about a toast first?”
“Quit stall—” Darren blurted, before Ashley cut him off. “Yes of course. We mustn’t do away with tradition.”
“Exactly,” squeaked Lisa, whose hands shook as she poured the wine into all their glasses.
“Okay, so what should we cheer to?”
“Solidarity,” said Darren.
“New beginnings,” said Ashley.
“Understanding,” added Darren.
“To friends,” stated Lisa.
Darren and Ashley took conservative sips while Lisa glugged hers down.
“Okay then, let’s get eating,” she finally said, to which the two Jonestown members both let out a sigh of overwhelming relief.
Lisa took a stab at the big chunk of noodles, the sickly flakes unavoidable. The room went silent. She let the fork hover, unable to hide her hesitation. Goddammit, this better work, she sighed, and then the food was on its way down, being chewed through with the conviction of a B-movie starlet.
“Do you like it?” Ashley enquired with giddy abandon, certain the conversion was well on its way. Lisa’s eyes began to water as she struggled not to gag at the thought of that mouldy loaf playing its furry games inside her. “Lovely,” said Lisa, reaching for more wine.
Darren and Ashley, now certain Lisa will soon become one of them, begin to relax and start eating and drinking as well. Lisa hid her relief when each of them finished their glasses. She stopped eating, but they were not worried by this point.
“I’m so glad you could make it tonight,” said Darren, “because there’s something we’ve wanted to talk to you about…”
“We want you to be happy, Lisa, you know that don’t you?”
“I know you do.”
“Lisa, do you know what mould is?”
“Shucks, I don’t know, Darren. Why don’t you go ahead and enlighten me?”
“Mould is a chance at a new life,”
“A new understanding of the world,”
“A world where togetherness is real,”
“Not just a marketing buzzword.”
“Oh really, I just thought it was a fungus that grew on food that idiots failed to put in the bin?”
Darren grimaced, shifting uncomfortably in his seat at such sacrilege. “There will be no need for sarcasm for those that come to know the mould.”
“You won’t have to hide behind these insecurities anymore, Lisa, for, as the mould says, ‘When the mould is everyone and everyone is the mould we will realise we are all one, and there will be no need to fight, because you will just be fighting with yourself’. Do you see now?”
“You know what, I think I’m going to have to go ahead and pass on this one. I find I prefer NOT worshipping something that grows on bread. I find it keeps me sane.”
It’s at this stage Darren and Ashley both sneered. “Well you don’t have a choice now anyway, because we put some of the mould in your food!”
“Resistance is futile!” added Darren.
“Well lucky for you guys, I brought the wine.” And with that, Lisa felt the violent surge blast through her stomach, but it didn’t go out just the way she intended. Not only was her food sickeningly returned into her plate, but, and this was quite unexpected, her bowels let go too, causing her pants to become instantly muddy. It was not too long before Darren and Ashley soon found themselves in the same position—exploding out in all places. The living room was transformed into a Jackson pollock exhibition of green and brown; all three of them wheezing and coughing along the ground.
“Master, please don’t leave us!” Ashley croaked between her retching hurls.
After feeling the surges die down, Lisa looked over to the stairs. Darren saw her looking at the stairs, and realised her plan.
“No, no, no! You can’t take it from us. Please, I beg you!” And within seconds, Darren dived onto Lisa, bringing her back down to the floor once more. “You don’t want to do this, please Lisa,” he groaned as Lisa kicked away from him and stumbled onward towards the stairs. She crawled up them like a hungover sloth, with Darren in weak pursuit. Halfway up, she had to throw up again and turned around, catching Darren in the face.
“The mould is love, Lisa. Why can’t you see that?” Darren pleaded, finally getting a hold of Lisa’s ankle and tugging, sending her face smashing into the stairs. Her nose busted up, Lisa tasted the blood meshing with the vomit. Rallying, she then turned to face Darren once more, curling both her legs and then striking with both feet, her right boot powering into Darren’s chin, sending him tumbling down the stairs.
She crawled to her room and fetched the destruction kit next to her door. It was then only a short crawl and a few more watery shits until she made it into Darren’s room. The room had taken on a stale feel, as the mould had spread and taken to the walls, infecting everything near the wardrobe. Lisa closed the door and pushed a chair up against the handle. Her destruction kit contained an aerosol cleaning spray can and a gas lighter for just in case. Ellen Ripley, eat your heart out.
She approached the wardrobe with care, half expecting the loaf to jump out and attack her. Opening it, she found the mould loaf, once again front and centre.
“We meet again,” she muttered, igniting the gas.
Darren’s door then banged in weak protest. An attempted barge, but Darren hadn’t the strength to break it down. Instead he collapsed against the door and decided to beg.
“Lisa, please. I didn’t know what happiness was before I knew the Mould. It talked me through everything, that voice that assured me when nothing else would. It knew me better than I knew myself… Just let me have it, Lisa. We won’t try to infect you no more.”
“I’m doing you a favour, Darren. Listen to your own voice,” she declared, shaking the spray can.
Lisa froze. The flame went out. Lisa took a step back.
Lisa, why must we fight? asked the Mould, a voice so soft and innocent Lisa couldn’t help but be taken aback and fall onto the bed.
“Because you’ve taken over my housemate and best friend.”
Aren’t they better this way? Haven’t I taken two once-different people and brought them together?
“You’ve twisted them into braindead weirdos—I mean, Darren was a bit off before all this—but seriously!”
It’s all for the greater good, Lisa.
“The greater mould,” echoed Darren.
“Shut up!” spat Lisa.
Don’t you see, Lisa? Ashley was always complaining about her job and not being able to find someone. Now look at her: she has Darren and now wants to serve the world in a more giving capacity.
“She’s just shit herself and fallen for a dead-beat stoner. No offence, Darren.”
To be fair, you were the one who made her sick.
“Only to help her.”
And isn’t that what I’m trying to do to?
Lisa shook her head. “No. Not at all.”
And what about you, Lisa? Aren’t you sick of always working so hard at that job and never getting the recognition you deserve? I can help you, but only if you let me. I can help your boss see the potential in you, the potential they all fail to see. Don’t you want that, Lisa? Is it so wrong to get a little help?
Lisa stood up and stepped forward, raising the spray can. The can was shaking, but that’s just the fear this time. Lisa did what she always does when it was time to step up to the plate: she took a deep breath, closed her eyes and counted to three…
Carlton arrived home on a Wednesday morning, believing he would have the house all to himself to relax, masturbate and get over his jetlag. All the blinds were drawn and the house was shrouded in darkness. Carlton thought nothing of it until the smell perforated his senses, an unrelenting wall of staleness that reminded him of off-play dough if it were stuffed in all his orifices. Bemused by the vapours, he stumbled into the living room to find Darren, Ashley and Lisa sitting in the dark around the trestle table, a ‘welcome home’ banner hanging over them.
There were what appeared to be vomit stains all over the once-immaculate carpet.
“We made you a welcome home feast, Carlton. Won’t you join us?” they all spoke in unison.
“Yeah, nah, probably not,” said Carlton, turning his luggage around and leaving for another holiday, somewhere a little more fresh.