Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fruiting Bodies by Guy Riessen

Release date: February 16, 2017
Subgenre: Horror

About Fruiting Bodies:


It’s 1979 and a secret all-out war between science and nature has erupted in the forests of the eastern United States.

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, also known as the Zombie Fungus, infects the brains of ants. A daring military mission has recovered samples and it looks like the fungus just evolved into humanity’s worst nightmare.


There wasn’t enough starlight filtering through the branches to light up shit. Johnny “Shrub” Kieterman reached up and snapped on the IR LED, switching the goggles to active-vision. Looking down, he saw filaments glowing in the infrared, filling the hole, looking like spider webs or arteries. He could see and feel the stuff undulating and writhing around his calves.
     Shrub tugged at his legs, pulling up at his right knee with both hands. His leg remained stuck. He yanked his tac-knife from the sheath on his thigh and jabbed and sawed into the glowing threads. In the green light, more glowing white goo leaked from everywhere along the sides of the hole, staining his pants, blade and hands. He cut with his right and dug and pulled at the filaments with his left. The hole seemed to be filling with the thin webbing faster than he could cut it away. As he watched, a thicker vein of material as big around as his gloved thumb slithered and jerked out of the muddy side, flopping wetly from side to side, twisting and moving like a worm freshly baited on a hook. 
     Shrub’s breath came hot and fast now as panic set in. He could see the thick, white, probing thing twisting closer to his boot. As soon as it touched the canvas and leather, it pulsed out from the side of the hole, twisting, wrapping and entwining from the heel of his boot up his calf. The pointed tip, glowing wetly in the artificial light appeared to back up, then jabbed into the back of his knee, right between the straps of his knee pad. Pain shot through Shrub’s leg, like alcohol poured on an open wound.
     The pain urging him on, Shrub sliced through the pulsing thumb-thick appendage and hauled his feet out of the grip of the thrumming webs. He fell backwards, knocking the AN/PVS-5 off his helmet. Gooseflesh raised across his skin; He scraped and rubbed with both hands where the white root had penetrated his knee. He grabbed the sample case again and tried to race for the tree line. His knees weren’t working at all, so he shuffled on his thighs and forearms, his knife still gripped in his right hand. With his left, he dragged the case.
     Painful heat was spreading out from the wound. The tree line was getting closer.
His eye caught his pale reflection in the knife blade. His face a grimace of pain and determination, and what the hell?  He looked at his reflected eye, and he could see the red veins from the corner to iris bulging, even pulsing. His sclera writhed with motion beneath the surface.
     Shrub grabbed the red smoke grenade from his tac-belt. The bad-shit-is-going-down red smoke. He pulled the paper-tabbed wire ring with his teeth and threw it as hard as he could through the trees and out into the clearing. He could see the red puffs beginning to billow and spread from the aluminum can. His arms twitching and not quite responding, he pulled the silver sample case up and back to the side. He saw the flesh of his forearm start to bubble. Lumps rose and fell, tracks of raised, web-like tracings sliding and moving just below the skin.

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About Guy Riessen:

Guy Riessen is an American author of contemporary dark fiction spanning the science fiction, horror, fantasy and crime genres. Born in 1967 in South Dakota, he grew up in the Southern California beach town of Huntington Beach. He moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1985, graduated with a degree in English from UC Berkeley, and has been living in the wild lands north of San Francisco ever since. After nearly two decades of creating artwork in the visual effects industry for feature films, he returned to his first passion: writing speculative fiction.



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