Monday, October 17, 2005

Chapter 4.

Nime flew towards the mushrooms. As soon as she entered the north side of the tree she felt the air change. It smelled wetter, heavier, and the buzz of her wings was muffled. The air was certainly colder and she gave a tiny shiver before seeing the cluster of moss and mushrooms that grew on the north side of the Max, and extended into the upper branches.

She flew up as far as she dared. Bees do not like to be alone in the dark, damp, and far off the ground. Birds live in trees. This thought gave her another shiver and she lost some of her nerve. She flew closer to the moss and mushrooms. “Hello?” she asked. Her voice sounded hollow.

The moss seemed greatly disturbed by her presence. They waved tiny projections in the air like green spears and muttered to themselves. The moss was of the darkest green. Every so often a huge crescent shaped mushroom erupted from the tree trunk as though someone had thrown a disk into the tree with such force as to half bury it. The mushrooms had gills underneath, which were delicate and an off white color. Abovetheir gills they appeared wooden and damp, with dark brown patches on a light brown background.

Illy and Lilly would have made several other comments. That the brown was ugly, but nicely set off by the pale undersides. They would have called these autumn colors, only out of politeness. They would have noted the smell of moist earth and disapproved.

Nime flew to one of the larger mushrooms and landed on the circular edge. “Hello?” After waiting a moment, “Hello, are you there?”

“What? I’m still sleeping. Who’s that? What’s that?”

“I’m a bee. My name is Nime. I’ve come on behalf of the flower patch on the other side who need to send a message to the tree.”

“Hum.” The mushroom woke up a little and regarded this buzzing bee. “Everybody calls me J. Why do flowers need help from us mushrooms?”

Nime explained the situation as best as she understood it. Finishing, “Mr. Azure says they will not have enough sunlight to survive until next season.”

“If you trust the sun you’re in danger. You can’t rely on it. We fungi’ve given it up many many years ago. The sun’s not dependable. Not dependable at all.”

Nime was also not directly dependant on the sun, but she was smart enough to know that because the hive was dependant on flowers, who are dependant on the sun, that they were dependant on the sun. Nime was smart enough to take that rule and make it general. All living things were dependant to the sun if they depended on things that, in turn, depended on the sun. Nime knew in an instant that the mushroom was living off of the tree, eating from the tree, and protected by the tree. A tree who depended directly on the sun. She was also smart enough to keep quiet about her thoughts, as well as her sudden realization that this mushroom was not very bright, which could make him either harmless or dangerous.

Nime had always found that a direct line was the best way to get places, so she asked, “So you’ll help the flowers?”

“Whaddya want me to do?” The Mushroom’s voice seemed to get thicker as he became more comfortable with her.

“We just need to transmit a message to the tree.” Nime felt that she had to explain herself as to why she couldn’t do it, “I’m too small to fly up to the tree’s ear. And also afraid of birds, wasps, and spider traps, among other things. I’d like you to pass along the message to mushrooms higher on the branch than you, to eventually reach the tree’s ear.”

“Right. What message? I could see to it that it happens.”

“Dear Max, the flowers to the south below you are getting no sun. Please move your main south branch ten degrees west. This will uncover the morning sun. Thank you. And hi from Caruso.”

“Now, the thing is that we mushrooms like the dark and the damp. We don’t do so good in the sun. I’m not sure I wanna send up this message. I’m not sure we mushrooms want more sun in the morning. We’ve got moss to look after. It’s not just about us.”

Nime hadn’t thought of this, “I’m sure it wouldn’t affect you. You’re all the way on the other side. The light won’t get to you no matter what.”

The great big mushroom was silent for quite some time. Then he let out, “OK. It’ll happen.”

Nime gave her most gracious dance of thanks. This was lost on the mushroom, who was tickled by the slight vibrations. She also left him one of her most delicate pheromones of many thanks, which was also lost on the mushroom, who could not smell such things. But it didn’t matter, because Nime had already flown off.

“Billy. Billy, you up there? Wake up!” The great mushroom could just barely see Billy’s pale white underside above him.

“Hey. Yeah. What’s goin’ on J?”

“I just got a request. Seems the flowers to the south can’t stand the tree’s shade. They want the tree to give ‘em more sun.”

“Yeah, we gonna help ‘em out or what?”

“Yeah, we’re gonna help ‘em out and what for. Pass this up to Carl. ‘Dear Max, the flowers below you are getting no sun. Please move your south branches ten degrees straight down. And please send us down some of your nutricious bark, if you’ve got any. Thanks and Caruso says hi.’”

Billy couldn’t see Carl, but he knew where Carl was, he was located deep within a knot in the tree trunk a little above him. Billy called up, “Carl, hey, you up up there?”

“Billy? That you?”

“Who else. Carl. Pass this up until it gets to Max, the flowers below are getting no sun. Please move your main south branch two degrees straight down. And please send us some of your bark. Caruso says hi.”

Carl may have been one of the dumbest mushrooms, or it may have been that he never heard anyone very well, living in a hole. Either way, he was puzzled when he heard Billy say, “The fungi below are getting no sun. Please move your main east branches two degrees down, and please send us some of your bark. OK? Russo says hi.” He was sure he got part of it wrong, the fungi loved not getting sun, but was too embarrassed to ask, so he shouted out, “OK Billy.”

None of them could see Nime, who heard every word from a crack in the bark where she hid. Nime heard enough, then jumped off the tree and fell nearly straight down, using her wings only to steer herself, until the ground seemed to rush up and was about to hit her when her wings suddenly blurred, sending her buzzing in a perfectly straight line to the flowers.