The red death
Trigger Warning: Drug use, body horror
The first thing that hit me was the smell - a putrid stench of rot and death. I was expecting a body - the neighbours claimed they had not seen the man for days - but there was nothing except a pile of rags in the corner. I stepped closer to the rags. It took me some time to register what I was seeing. It was not a pile of rags at all, but a puddle of flesh. A scream strangled in my throat. The puddle had a face.Bloodcap-induced disintegration is a rare condition caused by the ingestion of the extract from the bloodcap mushroom. It is not clear what triggers the beginning of this disorder, as one person could drink it a hundred times and be fine, whilst another could try it once and be dead within the month.
SymptomsThe first sign of bloodcap-induced disintegration is chronic fatigue, which appears within the first couple of days after ingesting the extract. The sufferer will find everyday tasks labourious and will find that sleep no longer allows them to feel rested. After a week, the sufferer begins to feel pain spreading throughout their body. This is the beginning of osteomalacia, or bone softening. Walking, followed by standing, becomes impossible as the bones are no longer strong enough to hold up the body. After two weeks, the pain becomes intense as the bones begin to disintegrate inside the body.
My blood is on fire! What did I do? What did I do? Please, mother, make it stop! Make it stop!With care, the sufferer can live a month or so after the onset of pain. However, the body becomes formless and organs shift from their proper places. Most often, the cause of death is suffocation, as the lungs collapse without the protection and structure of the ribcage.
PrognosisBloodcap-induced disintegration is fatal in all cases. Once the fatigue sets in, there is nothing anyone can do. Death occurs between two to five weeks from onset of symptoms. Attempts to prolong life beyond this point have proved unsuccessful.
TransmissionIt is generally accepted by Caian scholars that, on rare occasions, spores contained in the extract penetrate the jawbone through the teeth. Once inside the bone, the fungal root system quickly spreads throughout the skeleton, feeding on the minerals in the bone and destroying the bone marrow. It is not known why being inside the human body speeds up the bloodcap's growth cycle, though scholars generally believe that the presence of certain minerals or chemicals in different concentrations to its natural environment contribute to this.
Cultural PerceptionAmongst the general public, bloodcap-induced disintegration is often believed to be the result of a curse or some maleficence. Though the link with bloodcap extract is widespread knowledge, the fact that it is a rare side effect leads most common people to believe that there has to be some foulplay involved. In Caillah, in particular, bloodcap-induced disintegration is believed to be a form of divine punishment.
An artistic rendition of a victim by a drunk guard after a particularly gruelling shift.
by Cole Keister