Deep beneath the earth of a North Cumbrian wood lies the germinating mass of a fungus-like organism. How long it has occupied the fibrous soil of that place is uncertain, but Dr Jim Alburton estimates it is close to ten million years. Then again, this is not his sphere of expertise. He would normally consult Jane Milner and her partner. But both of them are dead — Jane being the victim of a rare, acute brain disease. Alburton found her on the floor of a laboratory, sticky orange fluid oozing from her ears. This was disturbing enough, however her partner’s face was mutilated beyond recognition, an apparent result of his girlfriend’s killing frenzy.
Alburton comes to know of the fungus because of Jane’s notebook, which describes its discovery but gives little scientific detail or where it is located. He can’t help thinking the discovery is bound up with her sudden death and that of her partner.
The police are moving too slow for Alburton’s liking and don’t accept there’s a connection between this incident and an increasing number of horrific deaths rapidly blooming in the area. A woman walking her dogs along a popular pathway is savagely attacked, a local student inexplicably murders the school nurse, a care-worker suffers a psychotic episode and attacks an elderly man in his home. The news bulletins deliver more reports by the hour.
As the number of incidents mounts, Alburton becomes convinced the county is quickly becoming the epicentre of a fungal disease epidemic that could spread nationwide. He concludes the fungus must be acting on its host’s nervous system, causing them to become depraved killing machines. Yet few believe him as he has little evidence for his theory. Now he faces the responsibility of tracking down the source of the disease, persuading the authorities and somehow preventing a cascade of bloody murders. With the newly christened phenomenon known as Mycophoria accelerating in its impact, there are only days or perhaps hours to accomplish this before the disease goes pandemic.