‘The parts you could see – what most people called a mushroom – was just a brief apparition. A cloud flower.’ –Margaret Atwood


To Whomsoever It May Concern


Dear Sir / Madam,


I do not wish to impose, but some interpretations are so outstanding by their

nature I prefer to outline clearly what has appeared before me. The findings are not

scientifically proven, yet, but I am driven to persevere for the future of science. As I

record this, the case of Subject #93 is concluded. The variances I have analyzed of finger

and mushroom is hereby complete. All mortuary guidelines have been followed as noted.

All findings have been safely archived.


Before I proceed further may I categorically re-emphasize that the pathology of

living enzymes in finger-mushrooms are indeed impossible to trace were it not for

guidance received from superiors, some may argue brilliant but unscientific. It is not for

me to judge. I leave that to the machinist departments and experts handling forensics in a

sterile environment.


At the outset to be clear, if not for the puffball clouds, a breakthrough would have

been impossible to record. I have much to learn. Mother nature is my guide. These are

my findings, as accurate an account of what occurred as is humanly possible to make



On the seventeenth of August in the year nineteen hundred and fifty-four an

autopsy was conducted on Subject #93. How long the body had lain in the morgue could

not be verified. It could have been four months, it could have been four years. According

to existing paperwork it was four days old. Rigor mortis had set in which was normal.

There was some muscle and tissue decomposition. No faded blood. No evidence of

violence–except for two missing forefingers on both hands, sliced clean to the bone.


A strong smell of formaldehyde and decaying vegetable matter was in the air. As

students it is our job to find out how the subject died. About half way through a six-hour

procedure one of the junior assistants a newbie student took ill. Work came to a stop for a

breath of fresh air.


The forensic pathologist Dr. Momaller’s main adjunct to us students had always

been a call to perfection. Never to alarm. Concentrate on what is happening. Catalog all

that you see. But, with students putting in eighteen-hour shifts, looking like axe-

murderers at the end of the shift, fatigue and blackouts were all too common.


We streamed outside. I heard Dr. Momaller say to the lot of us “We are at the

balancing edge of science. To be in the medical field the most grueling of discipline is

called for. But go on, go on. Take a break. Study the clouds.”  The day ended.


The tenth time this occurred a pattern had formed. Dr. Momaller’s scathing words

still ring in my ears “If you are unable to handle the demands of this profession, I have a

long list of highly qualified applicants just waiting to replace you.” Akioba the sickly

newbie fell routinely ill. She dreamt corpses. She dreamt fingers. She ran around the

mortuary in jerks and spasms yelling ‘Mushrooms! Mushrooms!’ No one made the

connection. There was none to make.


By that time the forensics examination was taking months to conclude. The rest of

us felt like a bunch of neo-Frankensteins. We were not research experimenting but it felt

like it. Dr. Momaller was turning hysterical dealing with Akioba, wrestling with

concluding that Subject #93 had been mushroom poisoned. The clue lay in the fingers. At

whatever the state of decomposition it was imperative that the two missing fingers be



We were diligent in our work. But if ever the remnants of the two fingers were

found in the subject’s digestive tract contents we were not to know. It was never

recorded. Through it all I held myself together, as did most of us present towards the end.

However, that last day, this is the true account of what Akioba saw and the true state of

her affliction.


The sky was a mass of shadowed mushrooms, choking, gobbling, suppurating that

day. Then voila! One dropped like a dead fat finger being axed from the upheavals.

Akioba saw the blood flash, churn, scatter as the giant puffballs fled back-firing in unison

to make good their escape. A hopeless struggle ensued. The sky imploded. The

message was written in blood.


In her hand she held what looked like a hacked off bloodied forefinger. It felt

rubbery—mushroom-like. The finger clutched, curled, stretched, writing a series of

messages in unintelligible script. She could not recall how she had caught it. She could

not toss away the finger either. Her finger was the finger-mushroom of Subject #93’s

missing parts.


Subsequently, I left. Thereafter I lost contact with most of my colleagues. I have

heard Dr. Momaller resigned soon after Akioba’s finger covered the mortuary walls with

manic mushroom writings. I cannot accurately state whatever happened to Akioba except

to say it was rumored that she re-grew two missing forefingers. At her autopsy soon after

the entire forensics crew fled the mortuary. I do not know the outcome. It is inexcusable,

however, details were sketchy from the start and never revealed to me.


Before I conclude this missive I have one last fact to reveal—the loss of both my

forefingers. At the bone I see a re-growth.


It was a difficult case from the start.


Yours truly,

Jatmine Tulkveri




Rekha Valliappan’s flash fiction features in various journals including Bending Genres, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, Critical Reads, Friday Flash Fiction, The Cabinet of Heed, Foliate Oak, Vestal Review and other venues. She is a writer of multi-genre short fiction and poetry.