Mr. Snarr’s science class was the best. Every day he had a new experiment for the kids to perform. With his long white lab coat and messy hair, he stood in front of class and demonstrated the experiment. He used a lot of comedy and usually ended up making a big mess. His favorite expression was, “If you are not making a mess, you are not making science.”
Today, they were growing mold in a petri dish. Mr. Snarr showed them how to boil the solution. He spilled some on his hand and pretended to turn into a monster. The kids all laughed (though some were scared at first).
Marty Gifford laughed the hardest. He loved science. He was always doing experiments at his house. His mother found all kinds of strange things in his room. Once, he built a pulley system so he could open all the drawers in his dresser. His mother got all tangled up in the ropes and was stuck there for half the afternoon. After that, Marty had to take his experiments to the shed.
Being curious and adventurous, he decided to add a little extra to his mixture. He had a chewable vitamin his mother put in his lunch for him to eat each day. Marty hated the vitamins, because they tasted horrible. He thought, “Why can’t my mom get me the gummy vitamins like all the other kids.” His mom had insisted on this particular vitamin since it was organic and all natural.
He took out the vitamin, crushed it up and proceeded to sprinkle the green powder on top of his petri dish solution. He hoped the vitamins would make the mold grow faster and he would amaze the teacher with his new findings.
The next day, Marty was excited to see how his mold was growing. However, he was disappointed when his mother told him school was cancelled. She said the school was contaminated by some kind of fungus. Marty wondered if it had something to do with their petri dish experiments.
Later that day, Marty’s friend Oscar came over to play. As they were playing cards, Marty asked, “Hey Oscar. Your dad is a policeman right?”
Oscar answered, “Yes, he usually works at night, but was called over to the school because of what happened this morning. He told us some strange mushrooms were growing all over the school. Weird, right?”
“Yeah. Weird.” said Marty. “We should go check it out.”
They got their bicycles and rode down to the school. Police cars were everywhere. They saw some men wearing protective white paper suits that covered them from head to toe. Their heads had those gigantic helmets on with the big clear plastic facemasks. Some were carrying out wheelbarrows full of bright yellow and orange mushrooms.
People from all over town were standing around watching. One of the mushrooms fell out of a wheelbarrow and instantly more mushrooms began to grow. They spread like a wild fire, each time one popped up, five more popped up around it. Soon, they covered most of the school grounds.
Everyone started backing up and some started to run. Marty and Oscar got on their bikes and pedaled back to their homes. When Marty got there, his dad was packing up the minivan.
“Hey Marty,” hey yelled. “Grab some clothes and your toothbrush. Don’t forget some clean underwear and socks. We are getting out of here in fifteen minutes.”
Marty knew this was serious. He rushed to his room and got out his luggage. He filled it with some clothes, his toothbrush and his video games. He couldn’t survive without those. His older brother and sister were running around like crazy trying to figure out what to bring. Their dad only allowed them one suitcase each.
They quickly all piled into the minivan and started driving. When they got to the edge of the town, they were barricaded by the police. Marty’s dad decided to try another route, but it was blocked too.
He parked the car down a deserted road and told everyone to get out and grab his or her bags.
“What are we going to do now?” asked Marty’s older brother Todd.
His dad answered, “We need to get out of here. We are going to have to walk.”
After some arguing, they each got their suitcase and started walking. They made it through some trees where they were stopped again. This time it was the military. They had set up a big chain link fence. It looked like it went all the way around Willakaville. Army tanks rolled past followed by men with machine guns patrolling it. Big steam shovels were digging a huge trench and filling it with some type of green chemical.
“Well,” said Marty’s dad. “I guess we are under quarantine. Let’s go get some groceries and head back to the house.”
When they got to the grocery store, it had been ransacked. Most everything was gone. Only a few things like deodorant and toenail clippers were left. Still, Marty’s family searched the store. They managed to find some lima beans, asparagus soup and rye crackers.
As they drove home, they could see a large area of Willakaville covered with orange and yellow mushrooms.
Several days had passed since the mushrooms first appeared. Everything closed down. People were too afraid to leave their houses. They did not know what the mushrooms might do to them.
The town was scarce on food. It had to be delivered each week by truck. All they got to eat was pasta, cereal, spam, bananas and milk. Marty was so sick of eating the same thing everyday. In fact, everyone was.
Marty was bored and looked out his front window, wishing he could go out and play. He missed his friend Oscar. Marty’s brother Todd, saw Marty and came next to him. He gave Marty a pat on the back and then opened the door.
“No!” screamed Marty. “Dad said we can’t go outside.”
Todd did not listen. He just kept on walking. Marty watched in horror as his brother crouched down, picked up a mushroom and ate it. Marty started crying, thinking that his brother would soon fall over dead. Luckily, he did not. He just sat there eating mushroom after mushroom. After eating about six or seven, Todd looked at Marty and gave him the thumbs up sign with a big smile on his face.
Marty opened the door and shouted, “You are crazy!”
Todd replied, “Come on out, these taste really good.”
Marty said, “No way! Who knows what those can do to you. They could be poisonous!”
“Whatever,” smirked Todd.
Marty’s father was furious with Todd. His mother, who always worried about everything, kept crying all night. Todd seemed fine though. He said that he felt great. He had tons of energy and even cleaned all the dishes that night. Marty thought, “Maybe all these mushrooms are not so bad after all. Everyone is probably freaking out over nothing.”
Unfortunately, Marty was wrong. Just when he thought everything was ok is when things got worse. I mean really worse. The next day, Todd started eating more mushrooms. It was all he wanted. He would not eat anything else. It was as if he was obsessed with them. In fact, he was obsessed with them. He started getting angry when he didn’t have one. He was eating so many that his skin was turning yellow and orange like the mushrooms.
His father saw what was happening and locked Todd in his room. But, the mushrooms made Todd crazy and gave him superhuman strength. He broke the door down to his room and ran out of the house. His dad tried to catch him, but the mushrooms gave Todd the speed of a cheetah.
They searched for him all morning. Along the way, they saw other people running around like wild animals and eating mushrooms. They all had that same crazy look in their eyes like Todd. It was as if they were zombies. Orange and yellow zombies. All they cared about were mushrooms. They almost hit a few of them on the way back home.
Things got even weirder. At night, groups of ten to twenty of the mushroom zombies gathered and made noises. It sounded like some kind of deranged gorillas. You could hear a low “Brooo, Brooo, Brooooooooo!” in the middle of the night.
Day by day you could see more and more of these yellow orange mushshroom zombies wandering around, eating mushrooms and making strange noises. Marty thought that this might be the end for Willakaville.
That was, until one day, his friend Oscar came over. He was very excited about something.
“Marty, Marty,” he said gasping for breath. “I made a discovery.”
“What is it?” answered Marty.
“Remember when Mr. Snarr was teaching us about fungus and how it can grow on your bodies?”
“Well, do you also remember when he told us that garlic and oregano are natural anti-fungals?”
“I decided to pour some garlic salt and oregano on some of the mushrooms. And one of those mushroom eaters ate it. About an hour later they were cured. The other mushrooms I put it on also died and no new ones grew back.”
“That is excellent!” exclaimed Marty. “We have to tell everyone!”
Marty and Oscar told their families and they went out with garlic and oregano and demonstrated the effects to their neighbors. Soon, more and more people heard the news and they passed it on to more and more people. Within a few days, the whole town was practically cured.
Word eventually made it to the military, who ended up spraying the entire town with garlic salt and oregano. All the mushrooms were finally destroyed. The military removed the fences and buried the ditches. Things finally got back to normal in Willakaville, except that it smelled like a big piece of lasagna.
Poor Mr. Riggatoli had to change his Italian restaurant into a hair studio. No one in Willakaville was hungry for Italian food for a long time…