Siphonism is an umbrella term for a variety of related supernatural conditions in the Clarkwoods Literary Universe. Individuals afflicted by these conditions, who are called siphons, feed on the potential of other sapient individuals (called sieves).
The nature of this “feeding” varies, with some siphons drinking blood, others dining on emotions, and still others feasting on the raw carnal energies of their sexual partners.
Debate rages over the origin of these conditions, with diverse folklore springing up across the cosmos to explain each affliction. In Eden for instance, particularly amongst the indigenous halfling population, the tale of “The Siphon and the Sieve” is taken as literal truth.
The cause of the condition is a supernatural parasite.
Though bodily fluids—or, in some cases, thoughts and/or emotions—are regularly exchanged between the infected host and their victim, the organism which causes siphonism cannot take hold without informed consent. That is: a sieve cannot become a siphon unless they are aware of the consequences and consciously agree to bear them.
Symptoms of the affliction vary, but the most common symptoms include a nigh-insatiable hunger for the fluid, energy, or meat of their choice; enlarged and sharpened canine teeth; a noticeably more gaunt appearance; and a paler complexion.
The gauntness and pallor are less pronounced immediately after feeding.
None, save—theoretically—the renunciation of the blessing/curse which originally created the parasite, by the specific fairy who conjured it.
The afflicted individual is rendered immortal, forever unable to die and cross over into whatever’s next. Though they may starve to the point of insanity, and though their physical forms may be injured or even destroyed, they cannot die. Their spirit will persist, through it all.
Just like they wished for.
Cultural reception varies widely, with some accepting siphons into their societies, others shunning the afflicted, and still others actively hunting them. The Munchkins of Oz, for instance, fear siphons so much that they bloody their scarecrows to keep the monsters away. And yet, the Munchkins’ southwestern neighbors, the free-loving Quadlings, welcome siphons with open arms.
Types of Siphons
There are as many different types of siphons as there are ways to feed on a sapient being’s body, mind, and soul. That said, the most common types are:
- Vampires, who—as in Earthling legends we in the real world are familiar with—drink the blood of their victims to survive;
- Succubi/Incubi, such as Cass Stoker from the short story “Vamp,” who feed on the sexual energy released during their partners’ orgasms;
- Psychic and Emotional Vampires, who feed on the thoughts or emotions of their victims respectively;
- Soul Suckers, who feast on their victims’ immortal souls; and,
- Straw Men, who—similar to the “click-clack” in Neil Gaiman’s 2015 short story “Click-Clack the Rattlebag”—liquify a victim’s insides. The difference? They take things a step further towards the Gross-Out Zone™ by inserting a straw into one of their victim’s orifices to slurp them up from the inside out.