[Here is a weird tale of mine, previously published as part of Phantasmagorium's weekly free story series. I'm sharing it with you as a prelude to other weird, eldritch happenings later on. I hope you enjoy it]
The Granny Crunchbones Gospels
TheGnome’s Warning: mycophage.net
It is possible for two people to have the same dream. It is unlikely, but it is possible. It is possible therefore for two people to have the same trip. I’d like to believe this is an internet meme, but I have known too many people that could swear they saw her and too many of you have written in to me claiming to have made contact with this entity.
I am really leery of spreading this information. I don’t want this site to have any Blair Witch/Slenderman style bullshit. This is not 4chan. This site is to educate people on responsible consumption of hallucinogenic mushrooms not to spread fear and create spooky new internet memes. But I have known too many people that could swear they saw her. And I want it to be known that this happens sometimes.
Stay away from the rings. A lot of you have thought it would be cool to sit in the rings and take shrooms. Stay away from the rings. There is a myth that eating shrooms while sitting in the rings, or crop circles will enable you to make contact with the ships or whatever that left the circles. This has happened, but something else is happening. There are reports of seeing something different, something really fucking awful.
Tripping on mushrooms is rarely accompanied by full on visuals. You want visuals, try salvia or really good acid. Shrooms are not about visuals. They are about feeling a strong sense of wellbeing and connected to the Earth. That’s right I said EARTH. I’m not going to debate whether or not aliens exist, but if aliens exist, they’re not looking for people who just ate a bunch of shrooms to beam transmissions into their head. Don’t be retarded.
What do you get when you sit in “crop circles” and so shrooms? Well, I’m going to tell you. You get fucked. That’s what you get.
Let me tell you about her.
Maria sits alone with the baby, looking at the clock on the microwave. She doesn’t like being alone in this building. She doesn’t like this neighborhood. The apartment building is full of sounds of arguing and sirens slice through the night. She wants Eric to come home, but it will be another hour. He’s working late again. Least that’s what he says. He’d better be working late. He’d better not just be at a bar with his buddies trying to pick up some puta.
The baby begins to cry. Is it the noise in the apartment? Is it the absence of his father? Or is it something else? Is it the thing that crawls between the between? She tries to tell herself she’s seeing things as she watches the old woman crawl under the door as though she were flat. She tells herself she doesn’t see the yellowfanged, crustyhaired hag coming toward her extending gnarled, clawed hands, open as if expecting something.
It does not take Maria more than a moment to realize what it is the hag wants. She holds the baby tight, grabbing a kitchen knife in her other hand, trembling. The hag keeps holding out her arms expectantly. Maria keeps pointing the knife at her. Green, wispy figures materialize behind the old woman. They start to hum in unison. A sickly sweet tune, a song of wellbeing and safety.
Maria takes it in, sighs, eyes open wide. She places the child in the open hands of the old woman. She immediately knows she’s done wrong, giving it to the hag with the abbatoir stink and the skin of a toad. Still, she drops the knife, still she waits and watches, wondering what she has done.
The infant skin drains of color, the dusky brown of life giving way to moonpale, giving way to albinism and emptiness. Makes a tiny rattle, a tiny gasp and no more noise, never, never again. The old woman smiles and hands the dead child back. She is flushed with health, as much as an aberration crinkled as a paperbag can be.
The old woman slides back under the door, accompanied by the green spirits, leaving behind no trace other than a feeling of culpability and shame and a baby that will never cry again. Maria cries. Maria will do a great deal of crying.
Wandering the street below, the old woman lets out a series of loud howls and sobs. She remembers the days when they would bring the children to her and she could rend their flesh with sloppy, satisfied abandon. Those were better days.
Mycophage.net: TheGnome’s Warning Continued
User Dunsaniac was the first one to post about the hag.
“I’d heard about the faerie ring from a friend. She told me she liked to go there, smoke up and write poems. Said she could feel the Earth and all of its energies surging up. She felt like there was all this…she called it “feral magic” in the air. Sounded like a cool place to go and trip. What better place to do it than in the middle of a ring of a mushrooms? So I went there. Wasn’t that far into the woods. Just half a mile off the trail. No spooky old trees, no winding vines, no wolves howling in the distance, no weirdass markings in the dirt. Just a circle of mushrooms. So I sat down and I ate the shrooms. And I felt the energy surging up and the wild magic. But, a few minutes later, just when I’m starting to really appreciate these energies, this hooded figure appears in the middle of the ring. It extends a bony vein hand, wants me to take it and I get this weird sinking feeling like if I stick around, I will. So I ran like hell. Never went back there again. Don’t trip in the rings.”
See, kids? Dunsaniac did the right thing. He saw that shit was about to get real and he ran, while he still could run. On the other hand, User CFORT666, was not as smart. Knowing CFORT, this shouldn’t surprise any of you. And knowing CFORT, it would seem unlikely that this happened. But, Dunsaniac is a pretty stable guy (much as any of us regular shroomers can be) and CFORT’s into David Icke and shit. This delusion does not fit in with the narrative of his other delusions:
“Holy shit. I can’t believe this happened. You’re probably not going to believe it either. And no, it doesn’t involve reptiles or anything like that. This is fucking different. This doesn’t make any sense. I didn’t expect to see the mushrooms like fucking bursting out of the ground to prove that they were there under the ground like you always said. And I’m surrounded by a ring of the things and these hideous little men are looking at me and laughing and making faces. And there’s weird, green ghostly outlines in the center cropcircle. I figure this is important, so I watch and I wait. Maybe these guys are experiments that the Greys made. You know, like they were children before. And then out of nowhere this twisted old woman in a black robe, her face all scaly and warty and covered in tiny hairs extends her hand to me. The green things are singing this weird song and the little men on the mushroom hum along. They tell some part of my brain that I should take the old woman’s hand. So I take it. I feel my head filling up with facts and weird images that I don’t understand, like maybe this is the stuff I wanted the reptilians to beam into me. She wants me to lead her out of the circle, like she couldn’t have gone on her own or if there wasn’t somebody that could see her. I lead her out of the circle and the feeling that I’m full of the knowledge I wanted grows and grows. I sit in the circle laughing and she disappears, off to somewhere else. And then the little men put their hands on the side of their heads and they scream together. I forget everything and I’m filled with panic. I know I’ve done something really terrible and I have no idea what it is.”
It’s just CFORT. He’s crazy, most of you think. Well, I hear that and I think that’s the first time I’ve really believed something he has to say. I think most of you will believe it to you. It doesn’t stop there.
Five Years Gone
When the others at the shelter sleep, he swears he sees their mouths still moving and hears them telling him things. He had to stop himself from taping up their mouths, because he knew that it would do nothing. They tell him to come back. He wakes up in the morning with caps in his pocket. He could eat them and she would come and he could go back, back where he belongs. Come live with me and be my love…
And go back to the moon where in chains of moss, gagged with exquisite sweets stuffed into his face by shimmering blueskinned pixie handmaidens, he would wait for the queen for what felt like days, tortured by the sharp fingernails and unwelcome pawing of Granny Crunchbones, yelloweyed dirkclawed fat ugly old beast. She’d breathe in his face, let him smell the stink of cribdeath and ruin the wonderful sweets. And he’ll be happy there because that’s where he belongs. Not in the city in the odorchoked men’s shelter.
He holds the caps in his hand as some men hold heroin needles and others hold the gun they’re about to put to their temples. He hears a woman crying in the distance. He knows what she’s crying about and the caps look more dangerous than ever. He puts them back in his pocket, remembering her claws on his bare chest and how he longed for the kisses of the Queen as he endured them. She’s deprived herself of another chance.
He can hear her sobs, the wails of an aging zoo lion angry that stakes are not being tossed her way. It’s one of the worst sounds he ever heard. If these men who’d lost their homes and lives to that kind of greed and privilege could hear it, they’d slash their wrists he imagines. Would they? Is he that much stronger for coming out of something like that a broken man tortured by temptations worse than death?
He proves how strong he is by sobbing uncontrollably along with the monstrous hag hiding somewhere in plain sight. He stops only when he realizes that she could come and slide under the door, flat and hungry and ready to bring him back to the lunar kingdom. Or, in her state of desperation simply rip him and everyone in the room to shreds.
He lies quietly on the bed remembering the mushroom songs from the court and the cosmic caresses of the Queen, all the more rewarding after the humiliations endured at the hands of Granny Crunchbones. He stays awake through the night, listening to the gibberings of his housemates.
“You don’t belong here.”
“Eat the caps.”
“Back where you belong.”
In his memory, the Queen slides off her garment of lichens, revealing glowing skin, purple nippled breasts and a thatch of verdant mossy pubic hair that moved about it and twitched. The hair would sing to him, inviting him in and telling him that he’ll be loved for always. If he comes back, he will be loved for always. It smells so bad at the shelter. And no matter how many times he throws out the caps or how hard he tries to drown out the voices of the men around him, it doesn’t stop.
He takes the caps out of his pocket. He examines them intensely. Another five years that felt like five hundred. Like heroin, like a gun to the temples. It’s inevitable. But not tonight.
Mycophage.net TheGnome’s Warning Continued
CFORT is not the worst offender. I have heard from some who have gone much further with their stupidity and reckless behavior. User DanDeLion decided CFORT and Dunsaniac were clearly full of shit and that he would prove them wrong. User NatalieSmythe69 suggested she drive up and they would make a day of it. Longtime Mycophage members will remember that Dan and Natalie got pretty hot and heavy with the online flirting to the point at which many of us were positively grossed out. I was secretly relieved that these two would finally take our advice to “get a room” (as Squid_Charlemagne would say).
“All I can say,” says Dan, “is shit, man. I’m sorry, CFORT. I hope you’re okay. I’m not feeling okay. But I’m here, on the board because I don’t want anybody doing the thing we just did. Don’t do it. I’ll leave it at that.”
Dan was greeted by a lot of insults, a lot of jokes about how Natalie must have fled in terror when she saw him naked and links to sites with cheap Viagra and the Amazon page for The Joy of Sex. Some of those users are still around, so I’m not going to editorialize about this behavior…oh, look, I just did…moving on…
“I should just let you assholes be punished like I was. Like Natalie was. But I couldn’t live with myself if I did that. So, fine. We’ll get into it. You notice how Natalie hasn’t been around? It’s not because we hooked up and she didn’t want to hang on the board and fuck around. Some of you are going to assume that no matter what I say. But if I can stop one of you from shrooming in the circles, it will be worth it. Faerie rings and crop circles are not good places to do drugs. Should be common sense. But that’s why we do drugs in those places, right? What happened or didn’t between Natalie and me isn’t important to the story. I hope. I’m telling myself that. We went out into the woods, sat down in the ring and we did shrooms. We had a god time. Natalie’s every bit as sweet and cool and smart and great in person, she really is. We were tripping for awhile before either of us felt anything. Natalie said she felt something funny in her stomach. Shrooms can fuck up your stomach, so I didn’t think anything of it. She took my hand and started squeezing it really hard. I’ve got some serious scratches. She screamed out “It’s not human!” And I start to feel like we’re not in the woods anymore. And like I can’t get out of the circle, but I have to to stay alive. I start to see these green lights darting around and hear music. Someone is singing and pleading me to stay and telling me I can be happy here.I don’t even know where I am and I believe it. Natalie doesn’t look happy at all. She keeps screaming “Get out! Get out!” She’s crying. It looks like blood, but it might just be that I’m tripping. It’s hard to tell if that’s what it is. And not just because I’m tripping balls. And out of nowhere, there’s a disembodied face, pale skin, purple lips, perfection. And it’s not subjective. You couldn’t argue about this face. The face wants to kiss me.
And I’ve never wanted to kiss anyone so much, even if it’s just a face, or someone whose face is the only thing I can see. But Natalie’s crying and clawing at me. I have to hold her, even if this face wants me to kiss her and these voices want me to stay there. But Natalie’s crying and clawing at me. I have to hold Natalie, even if this face wants me to kiss her and these voices want me to stay there. I put my arms around her as she screams. I can see the outline of the hooded thing, but her wide eyes are on it and I can tell she can see all of it and she can’t look away.
“Take it! Just take it!” she screams. I can see the hooded thing’s hands reaching out toward her, bony, gnarly, scaly monster hands that want something from her. I squeeze her hard as I can and the shapes fade. I’m back in the forest, but from the look on her face and the ranting she’s doing, I can tell she isn’t. I have to drag her out of the ring and call for an ambulance. I don’t think she’s left the forest. Her family won’t speak to me so I don’t know what’s happened to her. She can’t call. She can’t write. Don’t go out into the rings. Something might follow you out. “
It’s serious. I don’t think Dan would make something like that up.
Kelly doesn’t feel very good. It’s not just the cramps and the embarassment.The stew mom left to reheat had funny chunks of things in it and didn’t go down well. Her brother can’t stop crying. He’s three years old. He shouldn’t be screaming all night like that. She puts in the headphones and listens to her ipod. The ipod plays only one song. It’s unfamiliar to her. It stiffens her joints, chills her blood, aggravates the cramps.
“Mother’s girl’s fed at the breast
When mother’s girl’s life starts
And mother’s the one that’s loved the best
In baby’s tiny heart
Mother’s girl’s fed at the breast
Til mother’s girl is able
To eat the meat that granny brings
To mother’s kitchen table
But then the Moon sees mother’s girl
A bathin’ in the river
When Mistress Moon sees mother’s girl
She makes her her’s forever
The Moon’s your mistress now
And she brings blood to you
And you’re no longer Mother’s girl
So granny gets her due”
She drops the ipod, looking at it as if it had suddenly transformed into a snake. Craig is crying louder and pounding on his bedroom. She would never have agreed to stay and look after him if she’d thought it would be like this. The worst part of it was that she is starting to think he has a reason for crying so loudly. It isn’t just that he was a baby and he missed mommy and daddy. She once again looks to the ipod on the floor, unable to stop thinking of the song it had played. She doesn’t want to be in the same room with the device and maybe Craig is crying about something worth crying about. She goes to the three year old’s door.
Craig rushes to her, hugging her tight. He tries to choke back his sobs so she can understand him.
“She’s at the window.”
This is not the sort of thing she likes to hear while babysitting. Not the sort of thing she likes hearing anytime, but when a scared three year old was saying it, it hit her hard. Fist against her resolve, boot on the throat of “I’m a big girl, I’m not going to cry.” Worse yet, it makes her feel inclined to look out the window. She doesn’t want that. He is a baby. Only three years old and she…she’s a grownup, as evidenced by the blood and her responsibility for him. She doesn’t have to believe him. She is better off not believing him. But still, she tries not to let her eyes wander to the window, the window, which she, whoever she is, is standing right outside of. .
“There’s nobody at the window,” she lies. Craig looks at the window. He begins crying again. He has to be looking at something.
“Shh,” she lies again, “there’s nobody there.”
It strikes her that when she was a child, her parents had told her that there was nobody at the window when she had thought she’d seen someone at the window. Her parents may have been lying. Every child’s parents may have been lying…
No. Kelly is shocked that she is thinking like this. This is crazy. She isn’t a baby like Craig. Grownups don’t think that children are right about the stupid things they believe. They assure them they are wrong. Unless they’re right. And someone is at the window. Nobody could be at the window. Although, were that so, then why would the boy be looking? This logic feels alien to her. This is not the way she thinks.
She looks out the window. Nothing is there. Her parents were right.
“See? She tells Craig,”nobody’s there.”
The paranoia pushes its way back to the front of her head. The pain from the cramps and the stomach ache brings her almost to her knees. More devastating than they had been yet. The song plays back in her mind. She puts down the boy.
“It’s going to be fine,” she tells the both of them. And both know she’s lying. Something is terribly wrong. Something is at the front door. She locks the boy’s bedroom door. She goes to the kitchen and gets a knife. She sits down in the livingroom, listening to the sound of scraping at the door and the song playing over and over in her mind. She considers turning on the tv, but is frightened of what might be on there, or what might come through.
There were funny chunks in the stew. Mushrooms. Funny texture. Funny taste. Something was wrong with those mushrooms. Her stomach hurts for a reason. Her brain is funny for a reason. There is scraping at the door for a reason. She’s been drugged.
The hag slides under the door flat as a shadow. She doesn’t need to be invited in. She is no vampire. She does not approach Kelly, but gives her a moment to take in her presence.
“Put down the knife, little lamb. Bring me your brother. He was promised me.”
Kelly stands up, pointing the knife at the monstrous old woman.
“I don’t believe you,” she says. She doesn’t know where this courage comes from, but she’s glad to have it.
“You ate the mushrooms. Your mother made the deal. Give me what is mine.” The old woman presents yellowed fangs, no doubt honed on centuries of bones.
“She gave me the mushrooms. I didn’t choose to eat them. She made no deal.”
The old woman laughs. Wispy green figures appear from nowhere and join in the chorus of mockery.
“When your mother was your age, she gave her brother and when her mother was your age, she gave hers. And so on for generations. The deal is made so give me what is mine.”
Sounds reasonable enough. It was done often enough. The boy belongs to the old woman and that is that. And you’re no longer mother’s girl, so Granny gets her due. No. It isn’t so.
The oldwoman grinds her teeth resentfully.
“I haven’t got all night. Bring me the child.”
Kelly does not stand down. She doesn’t drop the knife. She understands the old woman isn’t lying and that she was fed what she was fed and left alone when she was left alone for a reason. And maybe that reason wasn’t her mother’s reason. The old woman takes a step closer, gnashing teeth and brandishing razor sharp claws. The girl charges, knife in hand. She thrusts it at the old woman with all her strength. She plunges the knife into the old woman’s head, the warty, scaly skin surprisingly penetrable. The old woman shrieks, stunned by the pain. The girl pulls the knife out. Thrusts it in again and twists it. All she knows of knives, she’s learned from carving pumpkins. The old woman lets out another howl of pain.
The old woman backs off, beady eyes full of shock and contempt. Though no blood has come out of the wound, the great gaping hole in her skull is more than enough to let her know that she will not have what is hers this night. She slides back under the door hungry and disappointed.
Kelly unlocks Craig’s door and picks him up, bringing him into the livingroom. They watch tv together for another hour before mother and father get back. Her mother almost faints at the sight of her daughter holding her brother close, breaking with tradition, failing to give in to intimidation. They lock eyes and mother’s heart breaks. She has a son but has lost her daughter forever.
Mycophage.net Comments Section
Bullshit Bullshit Bullshit Bullshit
Thank you, Gnome for taking time out of your busy schedule to scare kids out of doing drugs. Do you not notice what forum you’re running?
Yeah, I agree. I don’t get the scare tactics, Gnome. This post made me lose a lot of respect in you.
Didn’t think you were that starved for attention.
This is real. This is all real. This is more than real. Stay out of the rings.
You’ve been played. I’ve heard of this shit on other boards. Granny Crunchbones is just another urban legend. Don’t you check Snopes?
How do we know?
Fuck you, flave.
Go fuck yourselves. I tried.
This is real. This is all real. Stay out of the rings.
[For more arcane madness, you can get my poetry/flash fiction/gibbering madness collection the Pserpent Psalms here for only $1.08. And keep your eye on this blog tonight, spooky crazy things are gonna happen!]