|“||A single spore has such grim power, that you may die within the hour. But is dilution simple? Of course - just one dose of root of horse!||„|
|~ The poem about the Medusoid Mycelium.|
The Medusoid Mycelium, also known as the Mycelium is a deadly mushroom and an evil phenomenon found in the novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events. It is a highly contagious, dangerous black coloured mushroom which lives in aquatic environments or in damp places. When infecting a human, it enters through the mouth or eyes. One single spore can kill an entire person in an hour, unless the victim takes the only known cure - horseradish.
Ishmael was prepared for such an outbreak, and he made use of the horseradish-coated apples in his arboterum to protect himself.
The Mycelium is black in colour, bulbous spores on top of the ground and gigantic, long tentacles spreading out hundreds of feet below the surface. It is the mycelium such as these that Count Olaf is after, because of his terrorist threat to poison all his enemies to death. This is his most evil and fearsome plan and he will make sure he gets the Mycelium at any cost.
According to the following poem written by a volunteer worker from V.F.D. (short for "Volunteer Fire Department"), the most notable cure to a Medusoid Mycelium infection is horseradish, "Is dilution simple? But of course! Just one small dose of root of horse.".
Consuming this antidote will kill the fungus, leaving no traces of it behind inside the victim's body. Other spices and substances with the same bitter, strong taste or intensity are also able to stop such an infection. Violet and Klaus discovered wasabi as a cure for the poison when their little sister Sunny requested it, and they gave her the spicy condiment, which effectively killed the fungus and strengthened her breathing.
In the past, V.F.D. made it a priority to make sure that there were plenty of locations where antidotes could be found, effectively protecting the world. The organization once processed horseradish in the Opportune Odors Horseradish Factory on Lousy Lane. In an effort to find another cure, Bertrand and Beatrice Baudelaire created a hybrid tree, cross breeding horseradish with apple trees. This hybrid tree grew on The Island, and its fruit can dilute the poison with a single bite. Perhaps yet another remedy is bitter tea, which most members of V.F.D. drink exclusively. It has even been hinted that anyone mentioning having sugar in their tea was immediately considered a villain, although this could also be because of the battle between both sides to possess the sugar bowl.
The fungus may actually be the source of some marvelous remedies, although these are currently unknown.
It is known that V.F.D. started in ancient Greece; and as the Medusoid Mycelium is named after the Gorgon Medusa in Greek mythology, it is possible that the actual legend of Perseus fighting the Gorgon comes from a volunteer of V.F.D. named Perseus who combated the biological threat of the Medusoid Mycelium in ancient Greek times and saved the human race from global infection.
A member of V.F.D., Gregor Anwhistle, was experimenting on the Mycelium because he knew that despite its evil reputation the Mycelium was the source of some incredible medicines. The Mycelium soon made Gregor realize that he could use it to infect his enemies, the arsonists of V.F.D., and kill them. Gregor justified his actions by saying that these people were evil and deserved to be killed but Kit Snicket thought Gregor was becoming as evil as his enemies and warned him of his possible mistakes. Something did indeed go wrong at the Anwhistle Aquatics Headquarters, maybe during the arson set by Fernald, the Hook-Handed Man, and the whole place got burned down. Only the Mycelium remained.
In the Gorgonian Grotto
Captain Widdershins, an agent of V.F.D., took his stepdaughter Fiona down to the Gorgonian Grotto to find the fabled sugar bowl which held horseradish, a cure for the Mycelium, but he ran into the Baudelaire orphans and recruited them. The Baudelaires joined the quest, and went with Fiona into the fearsome Grotto. They found the sugar bowl not, but they did find the Medusoid Mycelium, which waxed and waned threateningly around the children, but managed to infect Sunny Baudelaire through her helmet visor. The children didn't know of her infection until when they returned to the submarine and then Sunny began choking. Soon, Olaf trapped them, locked them in his brig, and got the Hook Handed Man to torture them, but he joined Fiona when he saw his sister. Fernald also stole the Mycelium when Sunny was cured and he gave it to Olaf who delighted in seeing his one weapon was in his grasp.
At the Hotel
In the Hotel Denouement, the Mycelium remained hidden throughout the Baudelaire's recruitment there. It was only mentioned after the trial and Olaf said he'd never be able to poison anyone.
On the Island
Count Olaf and the Baudelaires got washed up on the mysterious Island after a storm shipwrecked them, and Olaf captured the Mycelium having clung to it all through the storm, and he threatened everyone with it, but was ejected from the Island because of his cruel ways. He reappeared, and when Ishmael shot his stomach, the helmet burst open, and the Mycelium circulated once more in the air and infected everybody. Only Ishmael and the Baudelaires were cured, because of the apples, but although Olaf ate an apple, he was too wounded, and died soon after. Ishmael took the infected islanders away with him on his raft, and the Mycelium presumably died when the islanders either died or cured themselves.
- The Mycelium serves as possibly the main antagonist (other than Count Olaf) in the final three novels in the series, due to Olaf's threats to use it as a biological weapon.
- As novelist Lemony Snicket states in his narration, V.F.D. was most likely an ancient Greek idea, (given his description of the Cimmerians and as he mentions Medusa the Gorgon as being the namesake of the Gorgonian Grotto) this possibly means that Perseus was one of the first volunteers in V.F.D. and that he sealed the Mycelium (represented in the story by Medusa) into its cave and thus stopped further infection.