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ID: 5501

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December 27, 2008, 8:03 am

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Cheka Man

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Rot Beetle

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A plague in improverished locations, the Rot Beetle is the bane of those who are not careful about where or what they eat.

Full Description
Upon first emerging from its egg, the Rot beetle is so miniscule that it is almost impossible to see one with the naked eye. In most cases, scholars studying the larvae of this particular insect have to employ a magnifying lens to have a good look at it.

The Rot Beetle is a dull, grubby looking white in color, save for a few mottled khaki splotches. The more casual observer might mistake it for a wriggling grain of rice in fact, if ever confronted with one. Narrow and roughly oval shaped, the beetles chitin is perfectly smooth, with nary a rough edge. It takes a powerful magnifying lens to recognise certain features that would not be found on most grains of rice. The first is the tiny, wedge shaped head that protrudes from the rest of its body, tapering to a pointed edge, it possesses two stalks that dominate the insect’s face.  These little nubs of flesh contain powerful olfactory receptors. The second distinguishing physical trait are the legs that extend from the sides of the insect. Slender and jointed, they point backwards and resemble that of a dragon fly’s. However, unlike those of most terrestrial insect, the Rot Beetle’s legs do not terminate in ordinary appendages. Instead, they end in little sucker shaped pads which when scrutinised,  prove to have hollow centres through which organic matter can pass. The fringes of flesh surrounding this hollow centre also have adhesive hairs that allow them to cling to slippery surfaces. Lastly, there are a pair of gossamer wings folded against its sides. These allow the beetle to fly continuously for five hours.
Additional Information

The Rot Beetle is a tiny parasite that has a nasty habit of laying its eggs in rotting meat that smells of decay.  Drawn by the powerful stench of putrefying flesh, the beetle will scuttle towards the meat in question and deposit its eggs within the raw or semi-raw flesh. Burrowing into the meat by repeatedly ramming its body through the flesh, it finally ceases its efforts when it decides that it has exenterated deep enough within the flesh to find a secure location for its eggs. Once is it sure of this, the bug clenches its body tightly before expelling a clutch of five tiny eggs that are impossible to see with the naked eye. When this act has been carried out, the beetle scurries away. Blood beetles often attempt to avoid laying all their eggs in a single source of rotting meat. Operating on blind instinct, they scuttle from one source of rotting meat to the next, laying an egg in each. This is done with the express purpose of ensuring that their as of yet un-hatched larvae will not have to compete with one another for resources once they begin to develop.  Although this fact might seem peculiar to the unenlightened, it makes eminent sense when one considers the fact that the Rot beetle is a parasite. For example, when a Rot Beetle pays a visit to a butcher stall that displays a rack of less than fresh haunches of meat, it decides to lay a single egg in each haunch of meat instead of depositing them all within a single haunch. This act actually ensures that each of its young will have an entire host all to itself, instead of having to compete with its siblings with it comes to draining resources from the same host.   Innate, instinctual strategies like these have allowed the Rot beetle to become a much dreaded parasite.
When meat contaminated by Rot Beetle eggs, is ingested by an unsuspecting diner, the eggs slide down the gullet with the rest of the meat into the stomach. However, encased in a thick layer of chitin, they are protected from the fury of the digestive juices in the stomach and are left unscathed. After a period of three hours, the eggs hatch and the offspring squirm out. Miniature versions of their parent, they are equipped with a similar hardened layer of chitin that will keep them safe from the stomach’s digestive juices. Upon hatching, the first thing the beetles do is to latch themselves onto the stomach walls using the suction pads on their legs. Once they have securely fastened themselves, they will begin to commence feeding immediately. By employing the hollow centres of their padded feet, they are able to leach nutrients from their host. Thus, in effect, the Rot beetle is a parasite that drains its host of whatever calories it consumes.

A Rot beetle typically lives for five months. Nearing the end of this duration, it feels itself experiencing the biological urge to procreate. The moment this occurs, the Rot beetle leaves the body of its host, typically scuttling down the digestive tract until it emerges from the anus of the host, amidst a small expulsion of blood as it causes the rectum to rupture during the course of its exit. Once this has been accomplished, the beetle frantically begins to look for the nearest source of rotting flesh. It begins this search by extending the flexible stalks mounted on its head to detect the scent of rotting meat. After it has located such a source, it flys immediately towards it. When it has reached its destination, it immediately deposits its eggs in the rotting meat that attracted its attention. Shortly after that, the Rot beetle turns over and dies.

Rot Beetles can have a devastating impact on communities and locations where foor is usually not prepared in a safe and hygenic manner prior to consumption. In many impoverished Poor Districts, the Rot beetle is a terrible scourge. Crowds of emaciated adults and children wandering the alleys are likely the victims of this nefarious insect.  Indeed, these parasites can inflict disastrous damage on the well-being of a host.

Over the months, as the beetle continues to drain its host, the afflicted person finds themselves experiencing a dramatic loss in weight. The sufferer consequently feels weak, often succumbing to infections. Unable to understand the reason behind their rapid psychical unravelling, the victim desperately tries to increase their caloric intake in a desperate effort to stave off starvation. This insatiable appetite caused by the ravages of the beetle becomes a lot worse when the beetle is nearing the end of its lifespan. In order to ensure that its un-hatched larvae will evantually have enough nutrients in their egg-sacs to keep them going for three hours as they rapidly develop, the beetle will secrete a potent chemical that floods the victim’s body with a powerful urge to continously eat.

During this period, the sufferer might be tempted to eat almost anything which seems edible. When the beetle finally abandons its host, it is a monstrous sight, having swollen up to many times its original size during its five month long invasion. At this stage, it is easily as large as a small mouse or vole. Fortunately for the beetle, its wings have also expanded proportionately, due to a growth hormone that is released in its body when it begins to feed off its host. And so like a repulsive bird, it flies away in search of the next source of rotting meat that will allow it to further propagate its foul kind.

As dangerous as they are to adults and young children, Rot Beetles are an even more terrible scourge for infants. Babies which have been given insufficiently cooked stews containing rotten meat while in the process being weaned off milk, often end up ingesting the eggs of a Rot beetle. Once this occurs, the infant is doomed to become a skeletal wreck that desperately drains whatever is placed before it,even as its slowly starves to death. In order to combat the menace posed by this dangerous pest to the well-being of infants growing up in the slums, some enlightened monarchs have despatched offcials to the poor neighbourhoods to press on young parents the importance of properly preparing the meals that they serve to babies which have just stopped nursing. In further efforts to minimise the suffering caused to the general population of poor districts by these bugs, dodgy inns that serve rotten mutton or beef have also been fined or even closed down by these royal officials.

The best way of ridding the body of Rot beetles is to get the afflicted person to consume large quantise of potent liquor that will serve to either paralyse or poison the parasite living within stomach. Once the bug has been exposed to waves of toxic alcohol, it becomes numb and begins to slowly die. This is a process that usually lasts from forty minutes to an hour. When this has been accomplished, the patient can attempt to remove the beetles carcass from his boy by attempting to vomit it out of his body. Alternatively, he can also be given powerful laxatives to ensure that the Rot Beetle’s remains pass out of his system via the anus eventually.
With that said, alcohol can be as much of a bane as it is a cure when it comes to the transmission of the Rot beetle’s insidious larvae. In many Poor Districts, illicitly distilled alcohol is the primary source of booze for many residents. Stills providing such alcohol often maintain less than perfect safety standards and as a result, often wind up selling bottles of liquor or beer that contain dead Rot beetles that have accidentally slipped inside them. While the alcohol contained within the bottle usually kills the beetle within minutes, any drink containing a Rot beetle in it still remains potentially dangerous to the wellbeing of the drinker.   In its death throes, the beetle unloads its deadly cargo of eggs. Encased within the safety of their shells, the un-hatched larvae do not suffer from the same effects of alcohol poisoning as their parents and thus pass into the system of an unsuspecting drinker while they are still alive.

Due to this nasty ‘‘beetle in a bottle’’ phenomena, sinister rumours have sprung up about a new breed of Rot beetle, one that thrives on alcohol instead of food. Latching onto the liver instead of the stomach, it hungers for booze and consequently turns its host into an alcoholic that drinks like a fish until his liver gives out. Urban legend has it that such a vile monstrosity was spawned when an illegal magical liquor enchanted to turn its drinkers into instant addicts ended up becoming tainted with a dead Rot Beetle and its un-hatched offspring. As the enchantment laid on the drink combined with the eggs floating in the liquor in a mysterious, unfathomable manner, a creature that hungered for alcohol instead of organic matter was spawned into existence.   As of yet, both city authorities and local mage guilds insist that this story is nothing more than a hoax created by mage-hating religious fundamentalists who want to make it appear as if local mages are involved with the illegal liquor trade.



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Comments ( 8 )
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Voted Murometz
December 17, 2008, 9:14
0xp
Some details could use a once-over, like the fact that it starts off miniscule, then grows to "10 times" its size to resemble a small rat. If a bug the size you originally describe grows to 10 times its size, it would still be relatively tiny, maybe the size of a thimble or so, not a small rat. Also being the size of a small rat with wings, I simply dread visualizing the "exit strategy" :)


Interesting bug overall. Despite the fact that it infects the host with eggs (something that has been done to death), it seems believable and casts a reflection on the society where it proliferates.

Good.
Voted Chaosmark
December 17, 2008, 12:39
0xp
We'll go with what Muro said: interesting, and entirely believable. I have issue with the description at the beginning, where it was described to the casual observer as a wiggling grain of rice, combined with the one at the end, where it has grown to the size of a rat. The two simply don't seem to match properly. A bit better explanation would be nice.

Otherwise, an interesting fellow you have here. Keep up the submissions, I'm liking what I'm reading.
Voted Cheka Man
December 18, 2008, 11:16
0xp
Not a nice thing to ingest.
Silveressa
December 19, 2008, 20:57
0xp
Nice idea, but like others said it could use a little polishing for consistency. (Mainly where it;s already been mentioned)

Also your lines: After a period of five days the eggs hatch and the offspring squirm out. Upon hatching, the first thing the beetles do is to latch themselves onto the stomach walls using the suction pads on their legs.

After 5 days the would have most likely traveled entirely through the digestive track and been expelled with the rest of the bodily waste. Perhaps having the hatching time be a couple of hours rather than days would be better. (it takes approx 2-6 hours to digest a meal depending on what and how much was eaten)

Otherwise it fits nicely into any squalor and slum area, although I am curious how it denotes the difference between under cooked /raw meat and an open bloody wound on a person/creature. The other question I have is if they can swell to rat sized, what happens when a person has 5 or more of these things inside them? Does it rupture the stomach lining in the last stages of growth? Prevent consumption of any food do to filling the stomach?

Also any treatment/cure to alleviate the symptoms would be nice to see. (With it directly in the stomach I would imagine digestion of a large quantity of hard alcohol would serve to paralyze or possibly kill it) Does vomiting effect the creature? Is it possible to throw one up if you heave with sufficient force? (Especially if paralyzed by alcohol

Oh and the name seems a little incongruous with the description, since it spends the majority of it's life as a larvae in the hosts stomach)

Sorry to nit pick, but this has the potential be a neat sub with a bit more cleaning up.
Maggot
December 27, 2008, 2:32
1xp
Updated:
This is the updated bug, with some modifications and additions made. I've incorporated the many useful suggestions that both Scras and Silveressa made.
Voted Silveressa
December 27, 2008, 4:30
0xp
Excellent rewrite Maggot, although there are a few punctuation issues and some wording bits that could use a small bit of cleaning out.

This new beetle as presented feels much more complete and well defined; and also much more insidious.

Another creepy parasite for the poorer sections of cities. (It also could work well in a modern/future post apocalypse game with a little modification)

Great job on the rewrite, and an updated vote!
Voted Scrasamax
December 27, 2008, 8:25
1xp
Couple of parasite pointers, the beetle is much more likely to latch onto the lining of the intestines rather than the stomach. This is actually where the majority of parasites are usually found. (the next most common location is in the blood stream, just FYI). I don't know that a chemical secretion to boost a host's appetite is really required, the drain from the beetle itself should be more than sufficient to keep them hungry.

I see a left-over from the previous version, I don't think a rice grain sized beetle is going to cause a colon to explode when it exits the body. Besides, a real parasite doesnt have the intention of killing it's host. The danger of the Rot Beetle wouldn't be just carrying one of them (assuming your bum doesnt explode), the real concern would be to become a host to a colony of them. How much tainted meat could be eaten in five months? Someone with a gut full of beetles could have so many beetles that undigested might not be able to pass unimpeded out of the body.

From there you could get an expression like 'Blood and Beetles!' since someone who is so parasite ridden that their bowel movements are mostly blood and beetles, the blood from where the beetles were torn free of the intestinal wall.
Maggot
December 27, 2008, 22:25
1xp
Well, just to clear two things, by the time the beetle exits its host, it's the size of a small mouse as is stated in the sub. Anything that size which crawls out someone's bum is gdefinitely oing to leave some damage in its wake. Plus, at this point, the beetle is nearing the end of its life-span and so dosen't really care if it ends up killing its host as it makes its way out.

With that that said, thanks for telling me about parasites latching onto the intestinal rather than the stomach walls. And I guess the secretion wasn't probably that neccessary. I might make a couple more modifications.


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