Two virgins, John & his “sweetheart,” adrift on a raft, find a tropical lagoon. Anchored there is a sail boat overgrown with gray fungus. John climbs aboard & explores the deck until he feels “suddenly lonely”; he locates a rope ladder so his sweetheart is able to accompany. Here they live until,
On the seventh morning, my sweetheart woke to find a small patch of [the fungus] growing on her pillow, close to her face. At that, she came to me, so soon as she could get her garments upon her. … When I saw the thing upon her pillow I shuddered, and then and there we agreed to go right out of the ship and see whether we could not fare to make ourselves more comfortable ashore.
Gray fungus covers nearly the whole island. “In places it rose into horrible, fantastic mounds, which seemed to quiver, as with a quiet life, when the wind blew across them.” A small patch is free of the fungus; a patch of “fine sand.” There, John & his sweetheart set up camp.
A month later, fungus begins to grow on John & his sweetheart. They’re starving, too. John attempts to provide fish, but his catch is meagre.
Then I made a very horrible discovery. One morning, a little before midday, I came off the ship with a portion of the biscuits which were left. In the mouth of her tent I saw my sweetheart sitting, eating something.
Both eat the fungus, promise each other not to eat the fungus, are consumed with a desire to eat the fungus, &… it’s too late, “…the fungoid growth too hold of our poor bodies”—irrevocably changed.
Is the island an anti-Paradise? All the fruit forbidden. Knowledge = death. There’s no indication in William Hope Hodgson’s “The Voice in the Night” that John & his sweetheart become sexually aware; they remain as chaste after they eat the fungus as they were before.
Human virgins—asexual? Just like a fungus.
[ Image from Matango (1963), directed by Ishirō Honda. ]