Orion's Arm
Image by Reinhold Wittich on Adobe Stock

A slash ripped open the night sky, like a great sleeping black eye had blinked open. A gust of wind blew out and rippled around the globe, then as if the black hole was inhaling, the wind blew backwards off the earth sucking anything not grounded into the tear in space.

Colossal lenticular fingers appeared on the top and bottom of the void lifting the eye open wider. Out stepped garnished Mycelia, illuminated by brilliant quasar beams.

Bearer of Threads, Mycelia was awakened from hovering, silent, cosmic slumber by the cries of Mother Earth vibrating through her far-reaching mycelium. She shifted her world-connecting fabric delicately through the opening and bursts of radiant colors poured forth onto the world, as one by one, her orbiting halo of eyes emerged. With graceful intention in every movement, a windstorm stirred through her fibrous strings composing explosions of reverberating violin cries of song.

Her garnished, fruiting body of elegant, feminine light looked upon her beloved Marble Sphere transfixed, temporarily motionless, except for her mass of white-blue glowing mycelium, ever creating new weavings, on and around her, as she bore witness to the destruction.

Mycelia, Caretaker of the Marble Spheres, who Hung the Worlds, empowered with symbiotic connection between fungi, plant, beast, cosmos, created worlds too heavy to shrink, too large to eat. Heavy, with the weight of budding thought, borne from the minds of the creatures within, unfettered imagination fueling creation, intent, reflected, to one day be strong enough to spawn another new sphere; worlds, hatching worlds, hatching worlds ~

~ She cried to see it. To behold what humans had done to her Marble Sphere. Mycelia branched around the earth, cradling her Evergreen and Sapphire World in her soft nexus. The humans had turned her colorful world to gray. Her threads throbbed with passionate rage as a halo-eye fell on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Another surveyed the damage of nuclear disasters. Another the flattened biome of the venerated Amazon forest ~ another and another and another ~ contaminated soil, deadly chemical fogs, oil spills, opulent abundance towering over bitter, sunken-cheeked poverty.

Mushroom bombs welled in the corners of her nine rings of eye-light, dropping like nuclear teardrops, unleashing a psychedelic deluge. Psilocybin showers rained down with ferocity, flooding earth in a massive planetary dose of awakening.

Mycelia’s halo accelerated, swirled around her head like a crown. Her vengeance would come swiftly to the undeserving inheritors. She’d medicate them. Each would get their appropriate dose, equivalent to the amount of greed, destruction and hatred in their hearts, shrink it down and then expand it into revelation.

Soaked up into the toes of the remaining humans, Mycelia’s translucent threads spread through their bodies, waking them in panicked terror to the damage they’d wrought upon the earth, upon each other. Some threw themselves from buildings in agonized shame. Some offered their bodies to the oceans in remorseful apology. Some felt a warm transformation.

Alora and Io were at a distance. They'd always been at a distance but shared a fantasy Palace where their minds met. As Mycelia’s weeping flooded earth, Alora lay wrapped in the protection of a pair of ancient trees. Io stood trapped behind the broken glass windows of his high-rise.

Alora had tried to stop the cutting of the last two trees, tethering herself with a metal umbilical cord between her beloved Shakespearean behemoths. The State had decided there was no need for the wild anymore and Alora tried to shield them with her body.

She’d always sought out wild places. As they became more scarce, Alora became wilder. This was her resistance. She’d forage for purple dream ‘shrooms and then comfortably straddled the Love Trees, falling deep inside the thick forest of her mind. No one came to this last remaining bit of wild. It felt as if no one else knew or understood the gravity of their plight. But to be alone in this last vestige of the wild, well ~ she was grateful for that.

On her last visit, she absently stroked the rough bark, tracing the delicate shades of gray patterns within its dry patches. This was her playground, where all her deep-rooted fantasies seemed to naturally explode in her mind. Here, the doors of her fantasy Palace were never closed. She was Prometheus dreaming. Her imagination on a boundless quest within the closed canopy and she could explore, could escape the imprisonments of societal structure. Behind every door, frisson waited for her skin, jolts of heat waited to pulse through her bloodstream and wings waited to expand and flutter in her stomach at the rattled turn of an imagined doorknob.

Alora closed her eyes to the sunlight leaking through autumn leaves. She found herself in one of her frequent sound visitations with her beloved Leonard Cohen and he sang into her Palace, smoky lyrics echoing down the great halls “for you've touched her perfect body with your mind.” The Palace was cast in ethereal blur. Alora walked the halls waiting to hear the creak of a door opening. Eyes squint shut, she heard it. It was a little ways off. Far enough away for sweet anticipation and exquisite tension to build. She forced herself to walk with composure. Forced herself not to run. Tried to breathe in the addictive expectation. She could feel the rough bark on her back, and she squirmed into it. The door plaque read, Art of Tongues and she stepped inside.

She exerted so much exterior control over the confines of life on the outside to keep within the boundaries and rules, that in her fantasy Palace, she often just wanted to relinquish all control to what lay behind the doors.

And he waited for her…

She closed the door, found she was surrounded by red brick walls, and he was there. He was always there. And always with a look of hunger only she could match.

“I’m still sucking on your finger,” she teased, but the look in his eyes told her he was not going to let her speak again. Whispered scolding filled the room and the vintage rabbit fur coat she was draped in was heavenly peeled away. His hand swam down her neck as he pushed her against the bricks and his delicious method of setting the pace began. Firm hands ran slowly up the inside of her heated thigh, lifting her skirt as he inched higher and higher and higher.

Alora could hear the wind rustling in the leaves, an insect buzzed onto her mouth for a taste of blood, but he kept her there, locked in the brick pleasure room, as the bug drank from her lips and her tongue whirled in motion with her exploding imagination. The room filled with the scent of animal exertion as she choked on his love, and he taught her the Art of Tongues.

But now, The State killed the last of the wild, cut her steel thread and chainsaw teeth sliced through the Love Trees. They thundered to the ground. The impact triggering a sustained trembling and a great gurgling sound resounded. A deluge of sloshing human filth and excrement filled the streets.

Mother Earth shook, trying to release the hold humans had on her planetary body. Alora stood between the huge stumps, held fast to the Love Tree's exposed entangled roots, trying to hold on to anything stable. With limbs tucked under the natural rises in the roots, she closed her eyes to the carnage. She felt her body lift from the ground, the stumps regenerating skyward, branches flourishing with variations of luminescent lobed, serrated, scalloped edged leaves. Inosculation of the Love Trees, merging, kissing, creating one grafted Yggdrasil, one united Eden, encompassing the heritage of all the world's wood, every bough alternating, some dripping heavy knowledge inside the nucleus of cinnabar rich fruit and bodhi-awakening figs. Some holding ancestry cognizance within the shells of nourishing silver hazelnuts, leathery fermented Mesoamerican cocoa drizzled from beans, lust-sweet peaches, elder-infused lemony baobab, salty Mediterranean sage-emerald olives, noble sakura petals carpeting the humans asphalt sewer-soaked ground, and from the forging, the Love Trees towered towards nirvana, protecting her in their ascent, as she had once tried to protect them.

A hush seized the world. Alora had been lifted through the multilayered cake of atmospheres, felt the reaches of the beyond and passed out from lack of oxygen. The Cerberus-fierce guardian Love Trees lay her exhausted slender body inside a cracked, spiky-green, goliath-chestnut pod, slid the human seed down through the cascading arms of contrasting branches and back into the oxygen-rich troposphere, gently cocooning the nut in the safety of the lowest leaves a few meters from the ground.

She couldn’t bring herself to open her eyes. She was too terrified by what she might see. The sky opened, releasing torrents of water. Cleansing her sweat and blood-drenched clothes, skin, hair. Cleansing the world.

Io looked out upon the psilocybin sea from behind the broken glass of his high-rise windows, panicking at the thought of Alora out there drowning beneath the waves. Threads crawled under his front door. He watched and allowed them to bind to his legs, crawl up his body and seep down his throat. A connection fired and their minds met and entangled through the threads. He felt Alora’s mind imploding in on itself. Through the threaded mindscape, Io played their Palace hallway music louder, trying to reach her.

Alora heard his call. With closed eyes, she ran down their Palace hallways and knew where to find Io. She didn’t need to hear the rattle of the doorknob, nor the creak of the door opening to lead her. It was their favorite room and this time, she ran to it, as the Palace music drifted down the great halls and into her ears “and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes / I thought it was there for good so I never tried.”

No composure left to her eager, wanting feet, she violently flung open The Couch Reading door and found him waiting there, book in hand, with an irresistible vulnerable smile. A tear threatened to escape the corner of her eye and she forcibly slowed herself.

Quietly, she walked to the familiar soft couch, laid her head down in his lap, curled up her long, tired, root-bruised legs and closed her watery eyes. He stroked her red hair and read to her of expanding worlds, great serpents, lost love, blood-soaked battles, myths and legends, heavens, hells, heroes, paradises lost, and ~ as was his gift ~ he read her mind.

Like a Cartographer, he'd mapped her long ago. Had found remote roads that led to her buried treasures.

Mycelia’s threads hatched the awakening survival and universal life-binding knowledge that had been closed up in the stagnant eggshell minds of the remaining humans, and they moved forth emanating love. She watched the new inheritor's consciousness flower.

Mycelia wiped the last psilocybin-infused tear from her coral eye, looked at her altered, but saved world and felt the united, mixed leafed-crown of the entangled Love Trees that soared above the atmospheres. She felt Alora’s presence cradled within the World Tree. Bade Alora stare into the vacuum of her orbiting eyes. Alora's light pulsated through the connected mycelium.

Alora couldn't look away. She was lost, euphorically trippin’ in the abyss. She'd long ago opened the doors of perception in her mind and therefore hadn’t suffered the bad-trip trance awakening most other humans had endured. For Alora, her expanse only opened further. Mycelia gently, soundlessly, touched the human’s forehead, and Io called through the subspace of Mycelia’s luminous fingertip.

“Alora! Alora. Come to me.”

With every ounce of strength left, Alora muttered to Mycelia, “Io?" The god lowered one of her many hands, motioned for Alora to climb on to go to Io. Alora cracked the opening of the seed further, unraveled herself from the bonded leaves and gave the savior trees a deep hug of gratitude. She struggled, but rose up onto Mycelia’s hand, who folded the earth-born creature up and placed Alora into an orbiting cerulean eye. Gently, Mycelia’s threads spun out into the world to locate Io.

Io felt Mycelia intercept his mind. He looked out his shattered windows and waited for Alora ~ preparing the Palace.

Comforted, Alora fell unconscious into the fantasy Palace. Her tall boots splashed through imagined puddles down the flooded melodic hallways “walk me to the corner, our steps will always rhyme.” Her mind visualized herself in a beige trench coat with a wide, black umbrella and she came to The Rain One door. Io opened it before she reached it, took her hand, pulled her in, pressed her against the door and slowly unwrapped her from wet clothes. He dried her with a lavender-scented towel, pressing it to her hair, drying it in patches, gently wiping her face. She leapt with naked abandon into his arms, legs wrapped like tentacles tightly around his waist and he carried her off to a warm, dry bed.

Holding Alora in his mind, Io held her tightly under warm blankets trying to still her shaking body, while externally he threw anything within reach at the jagged glass to smash free from his prison. He leapt onto Mycelia’s offered hand, then they slipped back into her black gate, to begin her measured walk, on and on, through and through, the quantum slipstream.

Across time and space, Mycelia walked. In and out of black holes with ease, like the doors of Alora and Io's Fantasy Palace. They watched the universe reveal itself from behind Mycelia’s eye, allowing the earth-born to see with god vision. Suns and moons, planets and comets marked their steady passage. Their eyes soaking in the sites of hourglass Fermi Bubbles, undimmed Eta Carinae and the tangling Antennae Galaxies collide in starbursts. They feasted on sunlight blazing through a diamond planet brightening space in a rainbow of rotating color. They drank up signs of life on inhabited worlds and found there were other travelers out here in the expanse. Mycelia gently reshaped a small, disarrayed vapor as she passed her Pillars of Creation.

Music filled the eye “let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone” and Io and Alora entered the Pleasantly Haunted room. Slowly, the ghostly screen that had kept them apart evaporated. With swirling musical notes the divide cleared “dance me to your beauty with a burning violin.” They sat at a distance savoring the moment. Alora pulled a Love Tree branch from her braided hair, making sure Io drank up every bit of movement, every bit of meaning in her eyes ~ and stroked it, with the tips of her fingers “and dance me to the end of love.”

Slowly, she began to stroke herself with it. Letting the strength of the fibrous wood lift her skirt and reveal her world. They traced each other. Every line, every curve, inch by inch, studying, before crossing the room.

About the Author

J. M. Platts-Fanning

J. M. Platts-Fanning is a PEI Writers’ Guild 2022 Island Literary Award poetry winner, the 2022 PEI Writers’ Guild Battle Tales VII Champion, the Humans of the World 2022 Summer Poetry Challenge 2nd place winner and recipient of a 2020 short story Island Literary Award. Poetry and short story publications include, the 2023 Pownal Street Press’ anthology, Fiona: Prince Edward Island Accounts from Canada’s Biggest Storm, the Toronto Metropolitan University Department of English creative writing journal White Wall Review in 2022 and 2023, Write Launch literary magazine’s 2022 June and August editions, Artistic Warrior’s Dribbles, Drabbles and Postcards anthology, Prometheus Dreaming cultural magazine 2022, Common Ground March 2020 edition and GIFt Horse anthologies Vol 1 through 5.