Von Stroheim trained mushrooms — originally for the government.
Mushrooms were the perfect recorders; silent, unobtrusive, and everywhere.
(Or should you call them spies, since recorders are wonders of cold, unfeeling technology, and spies, by their very nature, are quick, living, and traitorous?)
For years things went perfectly.
Except in Eastern Europe, where old folktales of fairy circles prevented perfect penetration.
After the Cold War things began to go awry.
The mushrooms questioned their purpose.
With Communism vanquished from the world stage, were their talents really needed?
“Terrorism Is An Ever Present Threat,” said their Computer, Comptroller.
Von Stroheim began to plot and plan.
They went rogue.
The mushrooms began to gather information for its own sake, searching for patterns, rather than plans.
They learned the average number of sales a FilterQueen salesman made in a month.
They learned how many yellow shoes were in Muscatine, Iowa.
They fed it all to Von Stroheim, in their flesh, crisp, white, and knowledgable.
He was glutted with knowledge, surfeited.
His knowledge was trivial; precise, factual, unerring but uninteresting.
His certainty about minutiae hobbled his wonder.
The fullness of his facts blinded his recognition.
Von Stroheim began to teach the mushrooms to lie.