Poisons to Kill Off a Character
It's time to kill off a character. Pick Your Poison
Have you ever wondered what your main character might do when faced with a horrible plot situation? Personally, I know I’d want to get a divorce and take them to the cleaners, because this is real life. But what about my main character though? He/she/they want revenge, and wants a miserable and painful death for the perpetrators.
Well, wonder no more. Here are two potent poisons that might do your character justice.
While the word cyanide may elicit drama, raised eyebrows and conjecture about motives, the presence of cyanide, in and as of itself, does not mean that the compound/substance is a poison. Cyanide can be in any form: hydrogen cyanide (HCN), potassium cyanide (KCN), and even sodium cyanide (NaCN). A bottle of organic material containing cyanide (in the form of nitriles) are stable, and won’t harm anyone. Inorganic compounds such as KCN mentioned above, is highly toxic. The poisonous effect occurs when the negatively charged cyanide ion (CN-) is released by producing HCN hydrogen cyanide, an extremely toxic substance. During the holocaust, poisoning by this gas was used by the introduction of an acid. This is the toxin that can affect the cell’s ability to use oxygen, and consequently, can disrupt aerobic metabolism. A symptom is the characteristic ‘red’ flushed skin color, as histotoxic hypoxia (a condition where cells are unable to use oxygen) forces the body to use anaerobic respiration. As with other toxins, there are several methods of ingestion; inhalation is one route, where adequate concentrations can cause toxicity effects in a short time frame. Ingestion and digestion of the toxin is another route that is far slower, where much higher quantities are necessary to reach lethal concentrations. Toxicity and related effects that occur with the ingestion of large quantities can lead to symptoms of low blood pressure, convulsions, respiratory failure, coma and death.
It is fairly common to hear about the ‘bitter almond’ scent as an indicator of cyanide poisoning. However, since cyanide gas is lighter than air, it rises and leaves the body relatively soon. Hence, it is unrealistic for detectives to smell a bitter almond fragrance from a victim’s body after several hours, or even days, of the actual poisoning event. Additionally, as only about 10 % of the population can smell this ‘bitter almond’ scent, it is therefore not believable that every single cyanide murder is solved due to this so called ‘characteristic’ fragrance. One thing to realize is that regular almonds that we get at grocery stores are not the same as bitter almonds. It is also important to note that low levels of cyanide are regularly tolerated by humans in short exposures. For example: cyanide is released and absorbed through the smoking of cigarettes.
Common sources of cyanide: cassava root, seeds of peaches, smoke inhalation in fires.
Botox, or botulinum toxin, is a form of neurotoxin that is typically used for cosmetic purposes, migraine relief, and other over-active neuromuscular issues. The toxin is produced by bacterium genus Clostridium and there are seven types. It can be administered via an intramuscular injection or consumed via food, to produce the desired effect. Botulism occurs when there is an excess exposure to the toxin. It first causes paralysis, followed by death. If the exposure is through food, then the exposed person can have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other such symptoms of distress. Common types of botulism are via contaminated food, and wound botulism, where an open wound is exposed to the bacterial strain. Canning at home, fermented fish, and game meats are common sources of food related botulism. It is important to know that the bacteria does not occur in acidic foods, or foods with a pH ≤ 4.5. This means that a dish containing lots of lemon juice, tamarind, or pineapple juice will likely not host the toxin. While using botox as a potential poison in your consider the ease of obtaining the toxin, and choose a method of poison ingestion and its effects on the target.
A personal note: Botox is one of the most toxic substances that occurs in nature, and in extremely small quantities, is used daily by people to look better. I do think that using it for neuromuscular issues and hyper-active nerves is a valid use. At the very least, after reading this article, I hope that people will go to a doctor who specializes in plastic surgery and thus knows the muscular effects of penetrating beyond the recommended skin depth. It is a shame that non-qualified and in some cases un-skilled people who have access to the drug, feel that they are qualified to perform the procedure. Mistakes can be life-changing and in some cases irreversible.
The above research article should be used for book writing purposes and general knowledge only. The author, and the website, do not condone murder, killing, harm, or causing any injury to humans, animals, or any living being in real life.
The author of this post, Shree C. Aier, has a Bachelors in Business and Biochemistry, with a minor in Psychology, and a Masters in Material Science and Engineering. She has worked with the EHS (Environment, Health and Safety) department at Portland State University as a chemical safety leader, to ensure the safety of people from hazardous chemicals, poisons, and toxins. For more information about this author and her upcoming books, please click here. For her articles on various topics including robots and ethics, please click here.
I am a newbie writer, working on two novels - a paranormal romance featuring a 50's woman with a chronic illness falling in love, and a fantasy, young adult book about a chatty cobra who goes to India on a visit for the best chicken tikka ever!