Best Stories; An Imaginative Short Story About Compulsive Truth Telling, The Truth Mushroom
This is to introduce one of my best free online short stories from the writing and literature section of hubpages. If you like free short stories and good short stories online, then feel free to visit my hubs – just go to the end of this story and click on the link!
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so here we have some online truth – the truth about a mushroom! They can give you some strange affects,
those mushrooms can! Here you will
learn a lesson in the trials and tribulations of telling the truth. Truth
telling can have its benefits but can lead people into all manner of trouble.
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It is in this story that I shall show you how an innocent mushroom caused chaos in the land of Piddle through compulsory … not lying, but truth! You heard of the magic mushroom? Well, this mushroom has a magic all of its own! Fancy learning more about mushrooms? Well you will find some bargains at the end of this hub.
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It all started with the discovery of that odd looking mushroom deep in the Brazilian rain forest; you remember, it was the one that everybody made such a fuss about. Bellamy kept waving his arms around with excitement.
The mushroom had been kept in the labs 'The Eureka Corporation', that's the one that the government had been pouring millions of pounds into, and eventually gave away to a bunch of slightly dubious accountants.
Well, to cut a long story short, the mushroom had not been kept as securely as everybody had thought, and one bright morning the wreched thing, without any help from anybody, promptly exploded. Some fool of a technician had left a window open, and millions of spores had gone sailing, up and away into the morning sunlight.
Wherever the spores settled, within a day or two, green pockmarked, and slightly slimy mushrooms sprouted. The population generally avoided them, for what you're not sure of, is usually best left alone. The mushrooms left to their own devices did what most living things will do given half the chance. They multiplied!
Clumps would appear on the green bits in the middle of roundabouts. Rings of the wretched things would sprout on grazing land, and as they looked rather like stale cowpats, they tended to blend in with their surroundings, and not be noticed.
It wasn't just in the country; they appeared in towns and cities all over the place, they even invaded London. They found their way onto canal banks, sewers, blocked up drainpipes, in fact you name it, they were there.
It wasn't noticed at first, so it came as a bit of a shock when prominent people started saying what they really thought. A senior Member of Parliament, much to the chagrin of his own side, actually agreed with a member of the opposite party, or when an Arch Bishop expressed the thought that perhaps religion was after all, really just a bit of wish-full thinking. The managing director of a well known detergent company admitted publicly, that a rival product was just as good as theirs, and a bit cheaper to boot.
When the chancellor was asked why taxes were once again to be increased, he actually admitted that the last time around, he had got his sums wrong. All over the country, starting from the little town of Market Piddle, where the labs of 'The Eureka Corporation' was situated, people who had spent their lives telling porkies, suddenly started telling the truth.
Slowly people started telling the truth...
In the village of North Piddle, (which is fairly near South Piddle, and nearer still to Piddle in the Hole.) The local writers circle sat in absolute silence.
"For goodness sake somebody read a story," cried the organiser in exasperation. First one writer, then another tried to begin, but before they could utter the first line, their mouths clamped shut, and any rendering of their work became impossible. Unbeknown to them, a mushroom, which had grown just under the open windows of the church hall where they were sitting, had just released an enormous quantity of spores.
Now a writers circle is a group of people who spend a great deal of time and energy, around a table telling lies to each other, and the one thing that can't be done in the presence of a mushroom, is the telling of lies.
Slowly people started telling the truth. Not a bad thing you might think, but consider how you would feel if you only heard the plain unvarnished down- to-earth fact.
Mrs Jones was pushing her new baby from the North Piddle shops, when she met Sally Waters, who cashed the giro cheques in the local post-office. "Oh you've got your baby at last, let's 'ave a deco". Proudly Mrs Jones pulled back the pram cover for Sally's inspection. Sally peered into the pram. They say that every mothers duck is a swan to her, so Mrs Jones was somewhat taken aback at Sally's pronouncement.
"Cor, e don't 'arf look like a pig, ee's nufink like ee's farver is ee ! " The baby as if understanding every word that Sally had said, promptly turned a deep shade of purple, opened it's mouth, sucked in a huge lung full of air, and let out a piercing scream. Mrs Jones snatched up the baby and endeavoured to comfort it, while Sally, blissfully unaware that she had said a word out of place, carelessly went on her way.
The truth is... If you're lucky you might get what you've paid in, which wouldn't buy you a garden rake!
All over the country, similar scenes were being enacted. A couple strolling along the front at Piddle-on-Sea, gazed into each other’s eyes. "Do you really love me Ron? "
" No" he replied, his hand reaching down into the top of her low cut dress. "What," screeched his girl friend, jumping away. "What about all those things you said last night, before I let you" -----her voice trailed off into a long drawn out sob. Ron tried to explain that he did love her, but when he opened his mouth, only a strangled gurgle came out.
The insurance salesman from 'Piddle Life,' sat in Mr and Mrs Muggins front room. He had been sitting there for the past hour and a half. He had drunk three mugs of tea, which had now descended to his bladder, and were begging for release.
"Do you understand the wonderful value of this contract Mrs Muggins"? Mr Muggins was every insurance salesman's nightmare. He earned fairly good money at the South Piddle chicken factory, but where it went, and what he was expected to do with it, was completely beyond his comprehension. "Well, the missus always looks after that side of things," he muttered.
Mrs Muggins entered yet with another tray of tea. "Well what do you feel about this contract Mrs Muggins"? asked the salesman, both his patience and bladder now nearly at the end of their tether. "Well he is the man of the house, so he should make the decision", she replied.
"I'll just go over it one more time, and if you are both agreeable, I'll ask you to sign the forms. Now you pay £20 per month for twenty years, and the company insures your life for £2,500, are you clear on that"? The next bit should have been the small fortune that Muggins would receive at the end of the twenty years. But for the unfortunate salesman, what he actually said was,
"If you're lucky you might get back what you've paid in, which wouldn't buy you a garden rake".
The sale, the pent up bladder and the salesman's temper, were all lost as he sailed in a most ungainly fashion down the front path, aided by Mr Muggins boot. The only witness to this tragedy, was the rather ugly mushroom, which was growing about two inches from the salesman's nose where it and his dignity finally came to rest.
Piddle Autos, Eugene Sly the Proprietor ... winds back the speedo, fills in the rust holes and stood the car in pride of place: 'Bargain Of The Month!'
Towards the east end of Piddle high street, Piddle Autos stood resplendent, decked in red, white and blue bunting. The cars shone in their coats of new paint. Eugene Sly the proprietor stood looking apprehensively at his latest acquisition.
He had purchased the car at the Long-Piddle auctions a week or so before, at a real knockdown price. It had taken a couple of days to fill all the rust holes, and another couple to spray it and wind back the Speedo. Now it stood in pride of place, a 'bargain of the month' signs on top, and 'one owner, low mileage' stickers on each side of the price.
Mr Punter stopped outside the car-lot, it was his lunchtime, and he had been grateful to get away from the stuffy office, and into the fresh air for an hour. "Good day Mr Punter", said Sly, doffing the trilby, which he always wore when out on the lot. "Good day to you Sly, that looks a nice motor you have there." "Indeed it is sir, only just come in, care to take a closer look?"
Paul Punter was a single man in his forties, and he lived with his mother in a small cottage in South Piddle. He was rather shy, never being a one to push himself forward, even in his work as second clerk to a building firm or in his private life, which is probably the reason why he was an under-paid second clerk, and unmarried.
"My car's past its prime, I suppose I should be thinking about replacing her," said Punter. "I've got just the thing," replied Sly, shoving him towards this months 'bargain'.
Sly had been a second-hand car dealer for over ten years, and knew every trick in the book. But to day he seemed to be doing everything he wouldn't normally do. Instead of trying to push his recent acquisition on to Punter, he guided him instead round to the back of the lot, to a bright little car that he was using himself.
"Now this is the car for you, it's absolutely perfect". The was PERFECT. He had purchased it from a solicitor who was disposing the assets of an old lady who had recently died over in Long-Piddle. The price he quoted was the price he actually paid himself; it was as if somebody else was in his mind, manipulating his every move.
Reginald Sprout owned the supermarket... he ruled his empire with the flexibility of a short crowbar!
It did not take long, forms were signed, and documents handed over, and with a look of utter anguish and amazement, Sly watched the car and his profit disappear down Piddles long narrow high street.
Much Piddling lay in a small valley, it wasn't much of a place, hardly a town but bigger than a village. It boasted three pubs, two tobacconists, greengrocers, a bingo hall and a small supermarket. Reginald Sprout owned the supermarket. He had been in the business since leaving school, and he had constantly reminded his customers of this fact, if they ever dare to complain.
Some of the younger members of the community sometimes did dare, but the older ones had long since given up trying. Sprout ruled his empire with the flexibility of a short crowbar. A price was sacrosanct, and profit margins immovable.
It was Monday morning, and Sprout opened up the shop as usual, dead on the stroke of nine. He opened the shop at nine because he always had, which the greengrocer was grateful for.
He opened his shop at eight, and sold a fair bit of grocery to people on their way to work, and those who had run out of milk or eggs for breakfast. Sprout did not notice the mushroom growing beneath the front step of the supermarket.
Mrs Crabtree... 'Are these fresh?'
Mrs Crabtree poked at the rotting tomatoes and asked the crooked owner.. 'Are they fresh?'
Old Mrs Crabtree was the first customer. "Are these tomatoes fresh"? She asked, poking a bony finger into one. Much .to her amusement he replied "No not very, they've been sitting there since last Thursday, tell you what, you can have them at half price."
She gathered up a couple of pounds (leaving behind the one she had poked) and looked around for more bargains. Another customer came in, a very young woman pushing a toddler in a buggy. Normally Sprout discouraged young children, fingers everywhere trying to grab sweets and biscuits, but today he felt differently. Instead of a frown of disapproval, he smiled and gave the toddler a lollipop.
"How much is that"? Asked the young woman. "Oh it's free, one of the reps gave me a whole box." 'What's wrong with me' he thought, 'I had planned to sell those, and make a bit of extra profit,' but he just couldn't help it. Almost against his will, he started to cross out prices and substitute lower ones on goods he had purchased at a discount. Meanwhile the mushrooms discharged ever more spores.
Al over the country similar scenes were being enacted, but it did not stop there. The press were perhaps the first to suffer, for what is a lie. Is it a half-truth, an exaggeration, or even an embellishment? No more lurid headlines or innuendos. The newspapers became boring, so people stopped buying them.
Thousands of reporters, journalists and editors became unemployed. Accountants joined these, because there is no requirements to assist with tax forms if only the true amounts are disclosed.
Fiction writers just gave up, turning their hands instead to more useful occupations, such as pig farming. The advertising men, film-makers and actors found their talents lost, for there is no difference from telling lies, than writing, filming or acting them.
Businesses suffered, exports fell as sales-people only told the absolute truth. Factories closed or went on short time. Dole queues, and the fear of redundancy stalked every home. Questions were asked in parliament, but because ministers could not lie, no reassuring message was given to the people.
All through the summer and well into the autumn, things went from worst to terrible. The dole queues lengthened and cash became very short. Car boot sales were one of the few activities that prospered. People sold anything and everything; the few that had money purchased vast amounts of goods, hoarding them for when times improved.
Shops closed, once busy shopping malls became empty, the only adornment on the shuttered windows were 'to let' boards, and as the shops closed, so the dole queues were swollen by redundant shop workers.
November saw the first icy tentacles of winter. Early in the month, hoarfrost stretched a crystallised hand over the fields, turning cobwebs into diamond tiaras. Now this may be all very poetic, and I could go on about little bunny-rabbit's gathering up nuts and the like.
I could wax lyrical about birds flying south, but what's really important is that a mushroom from Brazil had never heard of frost, and didn't really want to know about a cold British autumn.
Tomorrow came and things got worse, it was cold...
Outside the church hall in North Piddle, a rather miserable mushroom lay shivering in the cold. It hated North Piddle, and it hated church halls. But most of all, it hated life in a British November. It stuck it out, along with thousands of its fellows all over the country, that day.
Tomorrow would be warmer, things would return to normal, but tomorrow came, and if anything it was worse. Not only was it cold, but nasty wet fog clung around it, in a most unpleasant way.
The mushroom gave up. It had, had enough? It could not take any more. It collapsed in on itself, and grew even slimier. Then it turned black.
That evening at the writer’s circle, a young man stood up and started to read a short story that he had written a few weeks before. He held them enthralled as he slowly recited his tale. The name of his story? Why, ‘The Truth Mushroom,' of course.
© This work is covered under Creative Commons License
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