The Humungus Fungus


Alexander ran ahead through the woodland, pushing aside ferns and grasses, eager to find it. Cleopatra and Bodicea followed in his wake, scouring the leaves beneath their feet for it. What was it they were all looking for? The mystical king of mushrooms! Elusive, rare and delicious: They were on the hunt for the Boletus Cep! Giggles fluttered from ahead as Alexander discovered that patience is a virtue, and a lot of leaves look like mushrooms! To the rear a grumpy old bear or should we say Dad plodded along, flask in hand. He settled upon the lowered bough of a giant beech, noting to himself how it creaked almost as much as he did. To many this may be a lowly tree stump, but after a morning of searching, it was a seat fit for a king. “Perfect!” he sighed, deciding it was time for a cup of tea.

Alex and Bod came and sat down next to him, proud of their baskets overflowing with mushrooms. Alex had gathered a basket full of shaggy judge’s wigs and woodland drumsticks. Bod loved picking mushrooms with wriggly maggots, stuffing them in her dungaree pockets, but also had a basket full of hedgehogs and many a wood blewittt- which is purple! Mushroom picking had been a veritable success. But something was missing, no, not the Boletus Cep but Cleopatra!

“Cleo, come and have your tea” Dad called, but there was no reply. Bod and Alex joined in and even Biddlebop the golden retriever joined in with purposeful woofing. But Cleo was far ahead, ignoring the calls, she was on a mission. She was determined to find the mushroom who once covered the landscape of East Sussex, but today had all but vanished from our countryside.


As Cleo stumbled into a clearing, the stillness of the morning was broken by the loudest of whoops and a euphoric “Whoop!” followed by a shout to the others. “I have found it! It is the most gigantic, most enormous mushroom I have ever seen! It is perfect!” Dad immediately knew that Cleo had not just found a mushroom, she had found the original Boletus Cep. Alex and Bod were already running in the direction of the copse from which the excitement was coming.

“Come on old bear, Cleo is telling the truth!” shouted Alex. As Dad arrived a few minutes later, slightly out of breath, in the glade, he saw it. There it stood, the Cep of all Ceps, at least 3 feet high. The children danced around the record breaker, and Daddy was absolutely pooped from all the excitement. Cleo ran and hugged the mushroom, which, much to her amazement… smiled! The ground began to rumble, and Cleo leapt back from the Cep. “Dad what is happening?” Asked a frightened Alex. “I don’t believe it!” shrieked Dad. The Mushroom was growing right in front of their eyes- it may have been enormous before but now it was almost as tall as the trees around them! Biddlebop did not believe it either and started to woof at the cep, wagging his tail in excited confusion.

Alex screamed “RUN!” and they needed no convincing! The friendly forest became a foe as the ferns they had laughed through earlier became an obstacle course! Finally they were upon track to the car park and they all scarpered to the Landrover, Bod holding Cleo’s hand holding Alex’s hand holding Dad’s hand holding Biddlebop’s paw. Biddlebop woofed in alarm, and everyone turned their heads, and in total disbelief saw that the giant Cep was following them down the track! ‘This must just be a very bad dream’ exclaimed Dad as he bundled them into the car. “Can you smell dog poo in dreams?” replied Alex, looking warily at his wellington boot.


They were all in their seats when the Cep appeared in front of their eyes- now the height of the Scots Pine, and it was heading straight for the road! It was time to go, go go! As the Landy sped up the hill, overtaking tractors and horses alike, Dad looked in the rearview mirror to see the tractor they had just overtaken engulfed by the Cep. With a flash of genius Alex shouted “Turn down Nanny’s drive”, to which both Bod and Cleo excitedly agreed, so Dad obliged and did a handbrake turn down the bumpy track! The ground shuddered as the Cep lumbered past, engulfing and consuming anything in its path, but sticking to the road! They were safe and hurriedly entered the cottage. As they settled down with a blanket and a cup of cocoa, it seemed impossible that any of this had happened. Dad was convinced that this was a silly joke someone was playing on him, but when they turned on the television, he realised that denial is not just a river in Egypt, and that the night of fungi terror had only just begun.

“We interrupt this programme with news of a giant mushroom eating cars on the A22, and this is no hoax! Lock your doors and find some garlic- we are facing a national disaster”. They watched as police helicopters chartered its journey through the county. Woods Corner, Dallington, and Punnetts Town were the first villages to be devoured, nothing but nothing remained- as if civilisation had never touched the landscape. As the Cep moved it took larger and larger roads as if to support both its growth and direction. By 9pm Heathfield was no more as the cep continued along the London road. At 10pm, they were still watching the news, wide eyed, despite it being hours past Old Bear’s bedtime. The cep had reached Ashdown forest, where it paused, wandered into hundred acre wood and seemed to take a nap, much to the frustration of the silly bear! Then with a lurch the cep moved on, leaving the woods untouched.


The Cep approached the M23, route one to London, it was becoming very clear where the mushroom was heading. The line was drawn at junction 10 for Gatwick, when the authorities released a CODE RED attack upon the Cep. The night was set on fire, the RAF like a swarm of bees attacked the boletus until all that could be seen was smoke and haze. Cheers rang from the people of Crawley. But out of the haze emerged a silent beast- the troops and fighter jets nowhere to be seen, just a great big fat fungi monster! The newsman nervously looked at the camera and shouted “It is invincible! We’re doomed!” as he ran out of the studio, leaving them in the cottage to decipher the live footage themselves. Alex broke the tension with a lightbulb moment “Dad! I know how to stop the cep!”. “Do not be ridiculous” the old bear retorted, “If I don’t know, and I am often right, then you certainly won’t! It is much safer to stay here”. Cleo and Bod looked at each other, and then looked at Dad “Listen to Alex!” they cried “At least he has an idea!”. Biddlebop looked up from his place sprawled across their laps and woofed in agreement.

Dad realised they were right, looked Alex in the eye and asked him “What should we do?” Alex looked at his father, and said “Veni, vidi, vici, Dad! We know where it is going”. “Where?” replied dad. “Why,” said the children, “London of course!” He hesitated, but then he looked at the most important thing in the world to him… “Okay Biddlebop,” he said “let’s do it”! The children cheered and made a flask of coffee for the journey ahead. Before you could say ‘Jimmy James!’ they were back in the Landy, perfectly suited for driving down a dirt track where a road once existed.


The Cep was now the size of East Sussex and happily munching its way through the M23 log jam of traffic, yum yum! In went the noise and fumes absorbed by the advancing fungi, and out came silence and the regolith of the earth. The darkness of night cloaked the mushroom as it crunched through the streetlights, with stealth on a humungous scale the South East was being steadily ingested. 5 million people were now unaccounted for, all that was left of towns were memories, the trains halted and power stations eradicated by the mushrooms ginormous wobbling bottom. The British armed forces impenetrable shield, around the M25 orbital disappeared: as 10 000 tanks, 162,355 artillery rounds, 763 fighter jets and 392,766 troops disappeared into the advancing Cep. The shock waves of this massive clash spread across the nation, and the white cliffs of Dover crumbled. Silence fell across the country.

The morning sun struck out across the North Downs, shafts of light piercing the ceps shadow exposing the reshaped landscape devoid of human interference. The people of Reigate, and Croydon held their breath. “Has it worked?” they cried, “Is the Cep dead? Have the military defeated the beast?!” But their questions were quickly answered as they saw that the shadow did not fall with the Cep, it had instead continued to grow! The Cep was now terrifying, a monstrous Fungi, industrial buildings reduced to the rock of ancient time. They noticed, however that the green belt was left untouched as the super cep moved ever closer to London.


Shaggy Inkcap (Judges Wig)

“Look” said Cleo, “nature has come back” and sure enough as they drove along the uncovered roman road, animals were happily roaming the woods and grasslands untouched. The Cep had no quarrel with the green and pleasant land as it sat down on Surrey for a rest. The Landy reached the M25 where the A23 corridor to Croydon and the capital remained intact. Alex insisted on getting in front of the Cep, “We must stop before it reaches Big Ben and the government does something very very stupid!” Dad braced himself for the descent into London. “Okay, hold on kids the road is a no no there are millions of people trying to escape! We will have to let the train take the strain, here we go….whoop whoop!” The Landy smashed though the wire fencing down the bank and on to the Waterloo line, with no trains to worry about! “Next stop is embankment!” shouted Dad excitedly. “We will have to mind the gap!” laughed Bod.

The Humungous Fungus now towered over London, creating an eclipse which engulfed the shops, houses and roads alike, as an eerie silence befell the capital. The military was now in charge, the government had dissolved itself in fear, only the Prime Minister remained; manning the clock tower, producing stoism by the bucket load from a rather large tannoy.

The Landy was nearly there, they only had to get across Waterloo bridge, but they had to run the blockade. “Alex, Cleo, Bod, are you ready?” “Yes!” they cried, “Go for it”! “May the force be with you” replied Alex with a cheeky smile. “Will we back home in time for tea’?” squeaked a very tired Bod. Dad put the pedal to the metal and the Landy rattled and roared across old Father Thames. The Landy came to a sudden halt at the Parliament gates to be greeted by a very small man standing on a big chieftain tank. Immediately he ordered the police to surround the vehicle. Before they knew what was happening, they were all marched into the basement of the houses of parliament, where they were welcomed by the cabinet. “Would you like some english breakfast tea and cake?” asked Mr. Wrestletine, the Minister in charge of catering (for the moment). This was received with a unanimous nod of approval and a shout of “Hear hear!” from the minsters, it had been a very long night. “What about us?” asked Bod, and the Prime Minister crouched down to her “I’m afraid that none of you are authorised to leave, it is a Code Red situation”. Bod looked back at Alex and Cleo and they began to hatch a plan to escape.


Hedgehog Mushroom

After a while of calm, the tea party came to an abrupt halt as a group of very important soldiers marched in, followed by the chief general of all general chiefs of staff, president general How-many-pips have i got. “Priminister I need the authorisation code for detonation”. “Certainly’ replied the PM, as he fumbled around in his coat pockets for the code booklet. “Goodness gracious, they have gone M.A.D! They are going to obliterate England to stop a mushroom!” “And all the people inside!” cried Dad and Bod started crying. Alex meanwhile had spotted the booklet on the floor, turned to Dad, gave him a big hug, and whispered “Don’t worry- I have a cunning plan”. He ran passed the silly PM- who was still looking in his coat, picked up the booklet and sprinted for the door, where he was thwarted by very special soldiers. Simultaneously Bod ran to pick up the Booklet that Alex threw to the floor and ran to another door causing disarray. Cleo looked at the stairway to freedom, and back at Alex who screamed at her “Seize the day!” Bod did a double bluff on the soldiers brushing passed Cleo, who ran in the opposing direction allowing her to run free!

There was no sunny morning on London bridge, a slow cold wind blew across the empty road. Out of the obliteration, there came Cleo, walking straight down the middle of the (usually very busy) road, directly towards the monstrous mushroom which was looming outside Big Ben. The police and army were too late. Cleo turned and waved to the amassing crowds, “Everything will be fine, I’m just going to feed the mushroom” and she disappeared into the Humungous Fungus.


General How-many-pips-have-I-got triumphantly marched on to the bridge, “I have the Prime Minister’s code!” The soldiers cheered in harmony with the people of London. The nuclear tipped missiles made a loud clunking, whirring noise and they locked their targets on to the cep. Dad hollered at the general “Cleopatra is in the mushroom!” The general looked at him in amusement “The Egyptian Princess?” Dad replied in a violent tone “No you blithering idiot! My daughter!” “Oh” said General Pips, “There is nothing we can do for her now”. He handed in the code to a rather technical looking soldier and started to reel off the fateful countdown “10, 9, 8, 7…” Suddenly, an enormous tank thundered up the embankment stopping with the barrel pointing right up General Pips nose. Everybody gasped as the tank turret opened, and the King of England climbed out. “Destroy the mushroom and I will destroy you, Sir!” Dad, who by now had General Pips in a headlock, released him and looked at the King. “Thank you your Majesty! But how did you know?!” Three little heads popped out of the tank. Bod, Alex and Biddlebop appeared next to the King. Biddlebop jumped out and began woofing at the Cep. Dad was relieved to see them with the King. “Was this your plan?” he asked Alex. “Strength and honour!” replied Alex. “It’s really not very far to Buckingham Palace you see!” Said Bod. This was their plan all along! As Cleo had ventured off and Dad had followed her, they had run to alert the King and enlist him to help! The beef eaters arrived, the PM, King, civilians, and police all pointed at the General with many pips. “Seize him” shouted Dad, and they did. “To the tower with him”, stated the King, “and home with me, Jeeves!” A tap on his shoulder prevented him from leaving: “Excuse me, are we not forgetting something?!” shouted Alex “Cleo is still inside the Cep!” Shouted Bod.


Egg and Bacon Mushroom (Smells like apricots)

Suddenly, the ground started to rumble, at first like a distant thunderclap, then like an approaching locomotive, finally the tanks on the bridge started to shake, then the whole of London shook asunder…. KABOOOOM…the humungous fungus exploded.

Silence followed, no sound, only frantic heartbeats could be heard. Large chunks of fungus fell hither and thither, and from where the mushroom once was, millions of people appeared. At the very front, there was Cleo. Bod, Alex, Daddy, the media(as if by magic) ran ecstatically towards her, all wanting to give one big giant hug. The PM approached Cleo “How on earth did you do it?!” Cleo looked at Alex, Alex looked at the King, the King looked at Bod. Bod put her hands in her pockets and gleefully pulled out a handful of maggots. “Mushrooms are a maggots favourite food!” Exclaimed Cleo. They all laughed as Cleo was held high by the beefeaters, “Three cheers for the little maggots, hip hip huzzah!”

Ring ring went Dad’s mobile, it was mummy “Dinner is ready in an hour”! “What are we having darling”? Mum replied “boletus Cep stew!” The children laughed, the people laughed, Biddlebop whooped, It had been a very long day….. and the old bear was ready for bed!