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…