The La-Iin Series
“The Neighbor’s Hood–Part 2”
“Look, Mom, look! I found a mushroom!”
“That’s great, Fer-Shi!” Tei-Sheu exclaimed. She got down on her knees to examine it, but as soon as she did, the color drained from her face.
“What’s wrong, Mom?”
“Well, er, Fer-Shi, I don’t think we’ll be eating this mushroom….”
Through bleary eyes, a man who lived nearby to the Sanhuuns watched the ordeal, his mouth hanging open.
“Mushroooooom…..? Maybes I should ask if the Sanhuuns’re willin’ to give ‘un up….” A wry smile made its way to his lips. “Of all people, never expected th’ Sanhuuns to be those types….always seemed so happy ‘n cheerful….philanthro….pacifis…eagley….those types. But I guess ‘ose sorts of things always come from where you leas’ expect ’em….”
The man looked down at the crumbled grass nearby him. Through all the death, a sole mushroom was peeking its way up. He was exausted, but the sight of the mushroom gave him strength. He reached down, plucked the mushroom from his lawn, and popped it into his mouth.
“Life is gooooood,” he sighed through his mouthful of mushroom.
“Why can’t we eat this mushroom?” Fer-Shi asked her mother.
“Well, Fer-Shi, I don’t think this is the edible type….I know you love mushrooms but I really think this isn’t safe. Looks like one of those radioactive mushrooms that came from spillover from Nyappon….”
“What’s a radioactive mushroom?”
Through the blinds of their window, two people peered out at their neighbors across the street.
“That’s the Sanhuuns.”
“Yes. Sanhuun Tei-Sheu and Sanhuun Fer-Shi to be precise. Sanhuun Fer-Shi is the daughter of the beforementioned Sanhuun Tei-Sheu and her husband Sanhuun Den-Matsu. Sanhuun Fer-Shi is eight years old. Sanhuun Tei-Sheu is–”
“The data is not necessary. I am aware of the data we’ve collected on the Sanhuuns. I have gone over it a few times. They seem to be a bit of a philanthropist family.”
“Their inspection of that mushroom is quite intriguing.”
“If I am remembering our files correctly, the favorite food of Sanhuun Fer-Shi is mushroom.”
“Yes, that is about accurate. It would make sense, then, that she is examining a radioactive mushroom.”
“Yes. That mushroom there has all the signs of being a radioactive mushroom. You should know. You have come into contact with many different types of radioactive foods in the past.”
“How did the Sanhuuns get their hands on a radioactive mushrooms!? Were those not phased out after the last world war!? Bledger has not been involved in any wars for years, not even the ones involving Vaelyn–how would a radioactive mushroom make its way here!?”
“Do not ask me. Perhaps it was the will of Sanhuun Fer-Shi that brought the radioactive mushroom out of its hiding place in the ground.”
“She is a Normal! How could she have willpower strong enough to grow a mushroom!?” The blinds of the windows closed. “I must do something about that radioactive mushroom.”
“And I must keep you from harming the radioactive mushroom,” the other said. “I do not care if you harm the Sanhuun women. But do not harm that radioactive mushroom!”
“….so whatever you do, don’t touch that mushroom,” Tei-Sheu said.
“Do you know for sure that it’s a radioactive mushroom? Not that I’m saying you’re wrong!” Fer-Shi exclaimed.
“I’m pretty sure….but if you really want some secondary confirmation, then I can go and look it up…”
“I’m not sure I trust the internet too much.”
“Well, I’m sure we have a book about radioactive foods somewhere….”
“Damn, the Sanhuuns again,” a woman holding a rifle close to her chest sighed. “Can’t stand their stupid voices….and their kindness.”
“Whatchu got against the Sanhuuns!?” Someone yelled at her.
“They’re fools is what….thinkin’ they can change the way the world is with ‘kindness’ and ‘selflessness’ and ‘gratitude’ and ‘charity’ and such and so on….blegh! Those types of people make me sick! Optimists dunno how to change the world, they just wanna take the easy way out. They’re lazy. So instead of handling things as they should be handled….they take the easy way.”
The woman cocked her rifle. “What they don’t understand is that all the world’s problems can be solved with a form of aggression. Doesn’t have to be violent. But niceness, kindness, all such stuff’s not a form of aggression no matter how aggressively obnoxious one decides to be about it. Seein’ them thinking they’re gettin’ results with the way they act….makes me mad.”
“DON’T SHOOOOOOOT!” Someone yelled. He went running at the woman and tackled her to the ground. A single bullet fired out the rifle and into the sky. The man and the woman scrambled out the way of the bullet before it landed back on the ground.
“What was that noise!?” Fer-Shi exclaimed.
“I’m not sure…I’d say it sounded like a gun, but I don’t know what a gun sounds like. Ah, here it is…..radioactive mushrooms. See, Fer-Shi?”
Fer-Shi and Tei-Sheu walked outside with the book. Tei-Sheu pointed to the mushroom on the page.
“…Mum, the Sanhuuns are scaring me,” a small Birdmix-Goathoof boy said. “They are observing closely a radioactive mushroom.”
“You mustn’t stare at our neighbors so intently, Lai-Ryun,” his mother said.
“Why not, Mum?”
“They are all bad influences,” she said. “Why, look at this neighborhood!”
“But Mum, the Sanhuuns have never scared me before. They are kindly from what I have seen before, Mum. So why do they scare me now?”
“Those who seem nice are often the most terrifying, Lai-Ryun,” his mother said. “Now, come inside before the sun makes you panic again.”
“The sun will not make me panic today, Mum. I am wearing my specially-designed black clothes. Do not worry.”
“I will always worry until the day you leave home….if such a day ever happens. I would fear allowing you to leave home….tell me, Lai-Ryun, would you ever truly want to leave home?”
“No, Mum. I would be scared to try and make it in the world on my own. I would likely be shot or bombed, I believe. …..fears I’ve written in my diary but never told you,” he said, mumbling the last part.
“What was that?”
“I am glad to hear all that, Lai-Ryun,” his mother cooed. “Then I will never let you leave home. Never ever. Thank you for informing me.”
“You are welcome, Mum,” he said, nuzzling up against her.
“If we touch it, will it make us sick?” Fer-Shi asked.
Out from the bushes, a small Werewolf boy watched the duo as they examined the radioactive mushroom.
“It’s the nice girl….maybe I should thank her for the ice cream….” He whispered to himself.
Before he could react, two men ran out their house faster than anyone else could react either and over to the Sanhuun’s lawn. They approached the radioactive mushroom and stomped down on it, then dug up the ground around it and put it in a bag.
“You will thank us in the near future,” they said before walking back to their house with the baggie. They shut the door.
Everyone around them was left in a state of shock, save for the Werewolf boy, who was so surprised that he ran away.
“Is my finger supposed to bleed green?” Panic was evident in her voice.
Without another word, Tei-Sheu rushed her to the hospital.
“Do you think we were too late in retrieving the radioactive mushroom?”
“Nah, we were just in time.”
A man took a piece of the mushroom out the bag. The men gasped.