Read at your own risk
If you’re still human, STOP! This book is not for you. Walk away before you know too much. What has been seen cannot be unseen. You can’t go back: you’ll never forget the ghastly truth.
There are thousands of curious BREATHER folk like you who just couldn’t help themselves and who now fill the asylums. (“Psychiatric Internment,” they call it.) We’re not so bad, but BLEACH stops at nothing to protect its massive cover-up and conspiracy.
Even just knowing this book exists has placed you on a Watch List. They know. They always find out. Fingerprints, DNA, radioactive isotopes, wiretaps, surveillance, drones, informants… Somehow, they always know.
It’s better for you to wear your blinders of ignorance. If you’re a breather and STILL reading, then know this and know this good: You can be infected just by HANDLING this book. You don’t know who owned it before you. You don’t want to know. But, never mind. You don’t tell the cow about hamburgers. Consider it a kindness. You’re either one of them, one of us, or you’re lunchmeat.
If you won’t heed our advice, but you love your family and want to protect them, then…
DON’T GO HOME
No one owns me.
I am outcast: I infect, I defile, I corrupt. I am Toxic.
All things rot. Decay is the natural order. Death, the final outcome.
The chains are broken. The tyranny of life must end. Our legions shall rise from the earth. Every breather must die.
We are the Lepers. We are the Carriers. We are the Plague.
– Magwalis, Lord of the Locusts
This is the point of no return. We’ve done our best to wave you away. What happens after this is all on you. Your belief in a just, compassionate, and ordered universe is one of the lies you tell yourself to pretend that
WE DON’T EXIST
Welcome to the Party
You’re TOXIC now. It’s too late for you—you’re one of us. If you’re reading this, you’re probably new to the world as it really is. You don’t know the first thing ABOUT our world. Know that. OWN that. You’re a TOETAG. You don’t know squat.
Think of this as a Michelin guidebook: travel, eats, the bad neighborhoods with interesting charm. We’ve done the hard work putting this secret knowledge together. Now you just have to learn it.
This book could very possibly save what’s left of your life. It’s a collection of the best advice and most up-to-date “research” we could find on BEING TOXIC. So take notes, write in the margins. Memorize this shit. Survival is your only concern… at least for now. Once you know the ropes, you can focus on your aspirations.
Chasing, Killing, Eating. Who says Romance is dead?
Just remember: paranoia is a WAY OF DEATH. You’re half-dead, so be 101% paranoid. There are more painful ways of suffering in the half-death than you can possibly imagine. Don’t screw up. It’s easy to die when you’re halfway to the other side.
If YOU are the reason this book ends up in breather hands, it’s all on you. BLEACH takes their job deadly serious and will Cube you so fast, it’ll grind you into glue. They have spies everywhere and keep close tabs. Don’t spill the beans; keep the truth to yourself. At least now, their lullabye lies will be easy to spot. You’ll NEVER believe what you see on the news again.
The Flesh Is Evil. The Soul, Broken
Truth Does Not Decay
For every ten thousand breathers in this world, there is one of us. For every thousand mindless, moaning, stumbling corpses, one is special. One is conscious. You are the RAREST of all things: A lucid zombie. A corpse with a SOUL.
So much more than a shambling eating-machine, you are cognisant and capable—a master of death and the dead. These first few years are a bitch, no doubt. Before you were CONTAGIOUS, you may have looked upon the world and judged it to be fair, reasonable, and logical. You were wrong. Now that your flesh is sagging, your veins throbbing, and your teeth are loose, you finally KNOW the truth. The world is crumpled and creased, filthy and foul, and you are part of the malignant mucus that permeates these hidden ridges with a rotting putrefaction.
If you learn to manage your disease, you could potentially live for hundreds of years, but most of us barely manage a decade. In our world, none are ever truly safe. Every waking moment is filled with persecution and ultimatums, duplicity and traitors. Every step you take, every corner you turn, there are EYES on you. There’s always somebody out to get you.
Live fast, die young, and leave a gruesome corpse.
So, welcome to a world of pain and misery. You are both LEPER and outcast. You are a MAGGOT and scum of the earth, slowly dying and rotting from the inside. Wherever you go, you stink up the place and leave little bits of you behind. Say goodbye to your old life. If you don’t, you’ll end up infecting everyone you ever loved.
Maybe you can find some meaning in this new existence. Maybe you will make something of yourself… make good, do good. Or maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll turn to evil. It’s all up to you, just like it was when you were fully alive. Save yourself first, then worry about the rest.
Spit in the eye of destiny
“Suck my pus” – Feral Taunt
Outcast by Day
Profane by Night
Toxic by Mistake
Header by Choice
Know Who You Are
Whoever you are, or were, or whatever you intend to be, listen up: First, you need to accept you have a terminal illness. Second, accept that you’re not going to die—not just yet—but you’ll wish to. Third, you need to know you can’t just end it. It can kill us, but we can’t kill it.
This virus is stubborn. The SCOURGE ain’t never gonna let you go. You might lie in pieces a while, but it’ll stay alive, keep you alive, and eventually, somehow, it will knit your pieces back together.
In truth, you’re victim of an age-old disease once known as leprosy. The cycles of your life now revolve around picking up and getting rid of the ODIUM by-product of this…. thing… which ravages your body, but also gives you sustenance.
When your Odium is high, you start to rot and decay; eventually, you will accumulate SYNDROMES—symptoms of various human diseases: a bad rash, blotchy skin, boils, gangrene, and even necrosis. When Odium is absent, such as after the cleansing ritual of PURGIS, you will look nearly human and be the best possible version of yourself. For a few days, you can live like a rock star (Laissez le Parti!), but then, inevitably, you decline again.
VIGOR MORTIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING
Odium build-up can transform you into a mindless zombie—a SKAG—whilst granting physical prowess. If you go over the edge enough times, you can become a Skag for good. You might be half-dead, but if you control your Odium, you can retain your sanity—at least some of the time.
The body sustains, even when the mind fails. You might be half-dead, but the corpse will carry on.
The most powerful and overriding urge we all share is the need to HIDE.
Hide from heat, hide from the breathers, hide from the Profane, hide from the Venerate Utukku, hide from the mirror… hide from yourself.
Our self-loathing knows no bounds.
They’re Out To Get You
You are an INFECTION and a risk factor. There are those who seek to isolate and sanitize you. They hate and fear you. They want you dead and reburied.
The government has been lying to everyone for decades: outbreaks happen and are covered up. Flesh eating bacteria? That was us. Chemical spills? You guessed it: us too. The Black Death? That was the big one. Guilty as charged. Mad Cow disease? Yeah… that’s not us.
Listen close, because it’s very simple: If you cause an outbreak, BLEACH is gonna hunt you down and either Cube, cremate, or SUPERMAX you. So, pull it together, Toetag. Learn fast. Make the right moves.
Know What You’ve Become
The INQUISITION has been after us for centuries. They figured things out around the time of the Black Death—not our finest moment. BLEACH is the modern, high-tech version. It’s a clandestine, militarized, disease-controlling, inter-governmental Z-control agency, global in scope, and determined to do whatever it takes to protect humanity from the “FINAL OUTBREAK.” They’re a ferocious and tenacious adversary, wielding state-of-the-art weapons and gear—think black helicopters, 24/7 surveillance, and elite, power-armored commandos who are completely determined to control and eradicate the infection… us.
Breathers are the sheep, BLEACH is the shepherd
How do they do it? Not censorship but fashion. What is in fashion is truth; what is out of fashion is the lie. Little is truly forbidden, but the truth is suffocated by the existential fear of being a loser, or worse: naive. The “Big Lie” is making the truth seem absurd.
But they fear us as well, for we are indeed deadly… with hospices protected by our numen, the Venerate UTUKKU. An uneasy truce exists. Our movements are restricted (those “metal detectors” are for us). We are tolerated so long as we follow a few simple rules; the first of which is:
The world is not what you think. They’ve been lying to you all along. TRUTH is, it’s a horror show. They’ve been weaving a web of LIES for decades, centuries even. No one believes in monsters anymore. This means most people get to live lives of quiet comfort and peace, but tough luck… that’s not your life anymore.
You are now Toxic. Your goal is not only survival, it’s freedom. You don’t want to become a THRALL—a contract slave—and you want to avoid, at all costs, becoming a Skag—one of the mindless millions buried beneath the earth.
If you are PROFANE—a master and owner—then most of the stuff you find in this book is not new to you. If you own a thrall or Skag, you own a slave; you own property. Profane are the elite of our strange, half-life society. They hold the right to vote and often live in a secure and well-equipped HOSPICE—our holes in the ground. But even Profane can become thralls if they don’t watch their step. If you are not Profane, watch out around them; they can be arrogant, vain, and vengeful.
Profane Never Forgive, Profane Never Relent
FERALS are ever-increasing in number with no homes other than squats and with no purpose other than survival. They are treated with little respect by Profane and used as throw-away tools. It’s usually safe to assume that everyone thinks you are feral unless you have already proven yourself somehow. As long as you keep it clean, you’re pretty much left alone. If you cause trouble, however, the punishments become increasingly severe. Keep a low profile.
If you are a thrall, pray for a good MASTER or you may be in for a world of pain, misery, and humiliation. Thralls are bound to their Profane. If you are feral and end up being someone’s slave, you are not a freedom fighter anymore: you’re a menial.
Becoming a SKAG means losing your mind, all of it—usually forever. Gain enough Odium and you become a mindless, shambling, rotting sack of decayed meat, bones, and skin. As Toxic, you are extremely hard to kill, but that doesn’t mean you’re not fragile. That thing that gave you your half-life can harm you if not nurtured and taken care of. Want to stay lucid and conscious? Then…
Don’t Pretend You Still Have A life
The Chthonic Congregation
Few humans know we even exist. Governments collude to stop and cover up outbreaks, but they fear a globe-spanning FINAL OUTBREAK is coming, provoking ever more extreme measures of containment. For you, this means a life of struggle. Intrusive government surveillance and repression has cut off the majority of us from legitimate sources of income and sustenance. Will you embrace the competition and claw off a slice for yourself? Or will you end up an Odium-riddled wad of flesh, putrefying in the gutter? As freedoms and resources deplete, we all compete fiercely for control of what is left: crime and the underworld. You gotta TAKE what you need.
You Are Your Own Hegemon
Going it alone out there is one of the worst things you can do. Find yourself a few buddies, make a CREW, gear up, and show others what your outfit is capable of. A well-organized crew can kick the ass of any lowlife street gang and even face down the Profane and claim a little turf.
No one gives a rat’s ass about how good you were with numbers when you were fully alive. That life needs to stay far behind you. It’s a different world, different life, different economy now. If you have—or are willing to learn—unique skills that may come in handy in a Toxic world, good on you, you’ve got a RACKET. Hone your skills, because though they like to think of themselves as guilds, they don’t really have much of a monopoly.
If You Find Being Toxic Comic, The Joke’s On You.
Everyone has an opinion in a Toxic world, but it’s often better to keep it to yourself. If you’ve the wits, charm, and guts to speak out loud and force your opinions onto others, you’re likely to be approached by a CARTEL. Be ready to prove yourself, though: they have a thing for status, wealth, and thralls. Certainly, you need to be a person of property (Profane) before you can rise up the ranks.
Most Toxic don’t know what STRAIN they are. A lot of us are mutts—a weird mix of several. Those who are “pure breed” often like to lord over those who try not to care. Some see their strain as an unfortunate plague bond and assume its ideology, while others are forced into deferring to it.
The Final Outbreak
The fanatics at BLEACH have one thing right: The Final Outbreak is coming. It’s not a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WHEN. We know it, they know it, the end is near—or so the common wisdom goes. Some heretics disagree. They think this dismal and tragic end to humanity can be avoided. We at PURGATORY PRESS count ourselves among these heretics. This is one of the reasons we are writing this Field Manual. We don’t just want to save you… we want to save the world…
The problem facing us now is that Toxic society, with its ancient traditions, was never designed to sustain so damn many of us in a given area. Stretched beyond the seams by the recent outbreaks, we brace for the bursting bubble: a world-shattering infection, foretold in ancient prophecy as the NINTH PLAGUE. One single screw-up—one little mistake—and our numbers will explode, Skag and Toxic alike, creating unstoppable hordes that can overwhelm cities and even civilization itself.
It happened before. It WILL happen again.
Most everyday outbreaks are classified as Type 1, which means only a few victims and very low media exposure. Such outbreaks are usually taken care of in hours, either by BLEACH or ourselves. However, a little mishap with heavy tools, fun with hookers, a party getting out of hand, or just one idiot with fireworks can transform it into something major.
Don’t be that idiot. Clean your shit up. Don’t spit on the ground. Don’t piss on flowers. Never fornicate with breathers. Stay away from big crowds when you’re high in Odium. Take precautions or you will have a whole posse of trouble on your ass. First and foremost, BLEACH will be looking for the dimwit who turned an entire neighborhood into a Thriller set. Secondly, the Z-PATROL and the other powers that be will be pissed as hell; they don’t like HEAT. So if you do cause an outbreak…
COVER THAT SHIT UP (and fast)
Some Toxic believe the Final Outbreak, the “Ninth Extinction,” is inevitable, and that some ancient UTUKKU schmucks are gonna rise up from their graves beneath the hospices and destroy the world. But if you ask us, we think that if it does happen, it will most likely be caused by some lazy, brain-dead TOETAG like you.
Some Rise By Sin, And Some By Virtue Fall – The Bard
A Toxic History
We’ve been around since the dawn of time and it is said we are spawned from one of the Great Plagues. There were 8 major ones throughout human history, each creating a new strain. The greatest of these plagues, THE BLACK DEATH, gave rise to the INQUISITION—our oldest and fiercest of enemies. It was not so long ago that they hunted us down like vermin. We were drawn and quartered, burned alive, and tortured in many gruesome ways by those fanatics in red.
Until the last few decades, our small congregation had shrunk to its lowest point from their deprivations. The great throngs of Plagueborn that swept the earth after the Black Death were gone, reduced to a few hospices scattered hither and yon. Then came WORLD WAR II… Some call this a time of glory; others say it was the beginning of the end. First, Stalin discovered us, then Hitler. Both used us to create legions of Skags led by fanatical Toxic. We did have a few good years, but in 1948, Stalin turned on us in a pogrom codenamed HARD SNOW that cleansed the Motherland of our kind almost completely.
Around the same time, both the Yanks and the Soviets began studying us as the next super weapon. This didn’t quite go according to plan, and we try not to speak of a certain Albuquerque Incident. Let us put it this way: NEVER AGAIN.
We’ve learned our lesson and paid the price.
This gave rise to PROJECT LULLABYE: a top secret operation that suppressed the fact we even existed. The government did what it did best: covered it up and lied. They killed thousands of us, targeted Toxic leaders and put countless human witnesses in insane asylums. They let us know that we foul lepers had no place in their modern world.
Eventually, it turned into an open conflict known as the BLACKOUT WAR. Both the US and the Soviets used underground nuclear testing as a cover story to destroy hundreds of our hospices, most of which have now become irradiated Hellholes.
After the Ragnarok incident, BLEACH realized its strategy was not working and chose another path. The world’s governments met with our leaders in Greenland and signed the NUUK ACCORD. It basically agrees that as long as we don’t stir up trouble, they’ll leave us alone. Though it still stands—sorta—the terms of this treaty are violated each and every day by one side or the other. We call this dying twilight the WHISPER WAR.
Born Dead, But Still Alive
POLITICS IS TYRANNY!
Our politics are not like breather politics—they’re worse. Like breathers, we have leaders we don’t like and don’t respect, but unlike them, we fear ours on a personal level. They have real power and we have little control—sometimes we don’t even have a vote or a voice. The system’s been in place for centuries. They control Purgis, and we all need Purgis to get clean.
Breathers have Presidents; we have a ZRACO. Well, at least each city or region does. They are one of the 11 Deacons known collectively as the PAXILLA Council and chosen only by the vote of the Profane (“tightwad owners”) to be the absolute leaders of a government we all know and love as the PAX PURGIS. Got all that? Zracos have a lot of power, but it’s only temporary, as every year there is a new vote and they will inevitably be punished by the new Zraco and Deacons for what they did if they lose. As always, politics is all about…
BETRAYAL, BACKSTABBING, AND BULLSHIT
Imagine 11 seasoned, fiendish DEACONS playing the long game—the game they’ve been at for years. Scary, ain’t it? One Deacon is voted for each month except December when a ZRACO is elected from the 11. Some have been serving in the Chamber for years, voted in again and again. Those crafty devils are the ones you need to watch out for.
You know how police have a chain of command and rules to live by? Not in our world. Z-PATROL guys answer directly to the Zraco and that’s it. Don’t mess with Z-Patrol, Toetag. They got all the Profane behind ‘em and mortal backup to boot. Sometimes they’re judge and jury, but most times they’ll bring criminals in to be judged at Purgis’ monthly tribunal. Their job is to make sure nothing goes down without them knowing about it and making your life miserable.
“DON’T GET SNITCHED. BE THE SNITCH” – Z-PATROL Byword
The X-MARSHALS are independent fixers and an essential part of the system. They clean up the messes idiots like you leave behind. They also deal with BLEACH (or at least help you hide). Best listen to what they say—they make problems go away. They say jump, you jump. But remember: you owe them and you gotta pay… one way or another.
And just to add further confusion, we also call the whole rule-abiding, Canon-lovin’ faction the PAXILLA as well. For all its faults, we count ourselves part of it. It’s safer here.
After a while, you just want to get clean. In-and-out clean. Thing is, for us, a shower won’t do. We need a deep cleansing—a skin rejuvenation and soul wash. When the Odium hits, there is only one way to get it off: PURGIS.
It’s a monthly ritual for us. You’re not required to attend, you NEED to attend. This is pretty much the only time you can get rid of your Odium, and if you can’t rid of that, you’re going to fade away: fade away into a Skag.
It’s pretty much the only time ALL of us get together—Profane and feral alike. It’s a bit of a party, church service, bathhouse, political rally, flea market, and people’s court. Skip Purgis and you not only might pick up a Syndrome, you might MISS something.
Purgis begins with the SHAMBLE—essentially a long walk. We all wear masks: Plague Doctor masks for Deacons, fancy Carnival masks for Profane, painted welder masks for ferals. Don’t get scared by how everyone looks. Folk tend to party just before Purgis, so their Odium is high. Hideous. Most of us will look worse than the homeless who saunter to the mission for supper. Go in a group for protection and to make it easier for the ever reliable DRECKOS to sweep up behind you. Stay away from strangers. They might get twitchy if you draw in too close. Just because you’re not allowed to shoot anyone in the head during Purgis, it doesn’t mean there aren’t Shamble drive-bys just before.
Nothing’s More Deadly Than A Feral Clean, Focused, And Pissed Off.
Purgis itself is a security check, a dance, a tribunal, politics, and massive blowout. But first you gotta turn in your onus. You know… the Odium that fell off you which you have oh-so-dutifully collected so you don’t infect those breathers. The muckety-mucks turn that Odium into ICHOR—some very useful shit. If you got yourself a single vial of Ichor, consider yourself rich. Mainly the hospices that host Purgis get it—and the Deacons, of course—but others can get it as a reward, payment, or trophy. With Ichor, you can do crazy stuff: become faster, stronger, smarter. It buffs you up and rejuvenates you… and it’s a drug. That shit gets you high, Droog!
How is it made? It looks a little like alchemy or a crazy chemistry experiment: brass pipes and glass tubes everywhere. They do the whole process during Purgis and throw the remains into the Maw for the Venerate UTUKKU below. Those Carrionfiends need to get fed!
6 OF 6 OF 6
THE RULES WE DIE BY
Toe the line, or do the time. Our laws might not look familiar, but they’re set in stone. Know this: if you get caught, you will be punished. The Z-Patrol love showing Toetags that they mean business. Until you figure out the system, you need to obey the CANONS to the letter. Don’t give those bastards an excuse.
There are four big no-noes: don’t eat flesh, don’t kill, don’t pollute, and don’t trespass. The “False Canon” states we shouldn’t mess around with breathers. While this might be an add on, it sure does get enforced.
PLAY YOUR REP – OWN YOUR HEAT
First things first: You can’t eat people. It drives us BERZERK, totally nuts, crazy. Some do it, of course, but it’s forbidden, so they do it in secret. Eating any body part of a breather is called GORGING and it’s illegal, immoral, and just plain dirty. But it’s also a very satisfying drug—especially brains (all those bitter-sweet memories). So don’t even go there. Don’t even try. Don’t be an addict.
Second: Though we’re half-dead, we take killing very seriously. If you kill, you’ll get Whacked. Or even worse: “CUBED”—that is, put inside a car before it gets crushed and used as lawn furniture.
Same rule goes for public urination and not picking up after yourself. Don’t leave your Odium around, and don’t infect breathers and start an outbreak. If you are thinking about making sweet love to some poor girl or boy who stumbled into the wrong neighborhood, think twice.
Finally: We take the idea of TURF very seriously; you can’t go into a hospice without permission. Hell, you can’t even go into a squat without permission.
IF YOU KILL, HIDE YOUR KILL
All these rules were created to protect us all from getting HEAT. None of us want the local PD or BLEACH breathing down our necks. Keep a low profile. Hide yourself and act like you don’t know shit. Stay off their radar. Some of us like to walk on the edge and enjoy heat, so they murder, pillage, and give ferals a bad name… for however long they last. BLEACH hunts high-heat targets relentlessly. Be no one, stay no one.
There are unwritten rules as well—common courtesies, you might say. If you act like a stupid Skag, you’ll get a RAP. Those whispers, rumors, and idle chatter follow you everywhere in our world. You slip once, you’ve suddenly got a rap. It starts with an evil eye, but can lead to a mad doggin’ just after Purgis. Going BERZERK is the ultimate sin, but so is talking back to Profane. Of course, among some ferals, rap is how you make a name for yourself.
FEAR THE FACELESS
Little cherry on the top for you: our mortal enemies are the dead-enders known as ZARAZA. Remember the name well. This Toxocracy are the leaders and central control of the movement to supplant breathers as the dominant species on the planet. LOCUST is their surveillance and recruitment wing. They espouse a policy of total eradication of all breathers. They imagine a world in which they are masters served by vast armies of Skags. Madmen, nihilists, and psychopaths… seeking to bring about the end of humanity.