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death

KN, p. 200 “200 Ways to Die an Unnatural Death”

 

Thanks to the readers around the world, we have reached another milestone. This is page # 200 for Kerrian’s Notebook.  🙂  Hear Hammett barking? And the shovels clanking?

 

When Kerrian’s Notebook came into being, Charlie and Sheila Kerrian never expected to be around for 200 pages, not counting the additional posts devoted to our famous (or is that infamous?) Visiting Detectives. That’s a ton of cases, a ton of fun, facts, and a few dead bodies.

 

In honor of that milestone, we have come up with a few more ways to die an unnatural death, bringing the total on our deadly lists to a lethal 200.

 

Unnatural death is a category used by coroners and Medical Examiners for classifying human deaths that can’t really be described as death by natural causes. It might cover events such as accidents, homicide, clueless behavior, being attacked by wildlife, or even war.

 

Keep in mind that law enforcement personnel only investigate these deaths if foul play is suspected. Criminal intent is not always apparent, and autopsies are only conducted when suspicious circumstances surround the corpse’s demise.

 

Many thanks to all of you that contributed to our earlier lists. It wouldn’t have been as much fun without your (sometimes nefarious) methods of offing some unlucky souls.  🙂

 

Take a look:

100 ways to die an unnatural death

 

50 more ways to die an unnatural death

 

30 more ways to die an unnatural death

 

and now… 20 more ways to die an unnatural death.

 

  1. Broken neck – pitching over the handlebars of a bicycle without a helmet on

 

  1. Broken neck – diving into the shallow end of a pool

 

  1. Death by handheld fireworks

 

  1. Electrocution while storm chasing in a paraglider

 

  1. Death by coyote while hiking

 

  1. Death by spotted eagle ray – it leapt out of the water & struck a woman in a boat in the face. She fell and struck her head on the boat. The ray died as well.

 

  1. Crushed by a dumpster
    1. Death by a rolling bale of hay

     

    1. Impaled by the horn on a statue of a bull

     

    1. Death by flying manhole cover

     

    1. Death by colliding with fire hydrant and drowning

     

    1. Death on a golf cart – woman fell on the broken glass from the wine glasses she had been holding

     

    1. Death by selfie – maybe that should be: death by standing too close to the edge

     

    1. Death by asphyxiation while hiding in a cupboard

     

    1. Drowning – in a vat of wine

     

    1. Drowning – in a cat’s water bowl

     

    1. Water hammer explosion

     

    1. Death by prop gun on a movie set

     

    1. Smothered by clothing and gifts tossed from balconies onto the person onstage.

     

    1. Death by extreme sports – B.A.S.E. jumping with a parachute from fixed points (Buildings, Antennas, Spans (bridges), the Earth (top of cliff))

     

     

    All true, folks, but #194?  Maybe that explains all the Hallmark TV episodes where the good guys are hiding in closets with LOTS of air holes.

     

     

     

    The real question: Do you have friends that will help carry the shovels and pitchforks?  😉

     

     

     

    If you are a writer and have used any of the ‘200 ways’ in your work, let us know in the comments and you can plug your book here.   🙂

     

     

    *Photos by Patti Phillips, but nothing dastardly happened while she took them and no bodies were left behind. Promise.

     

    *Kerrian’s Notebook, and all of its content, is intended for entertainment purposes only.

     

     

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KN, p.185 “Is the mouse dead yet?”

 

Mouse copy

It’s been a very wet year. We have lived through a hurricane, flooding, high water levels, squishy lawns, damp/wet cellars, and fewer sunny days during the summer than I can ever remember from the past. That leads to outdoor creatures being flooded out of their nooks and crannies below the ground and in the woods. Mice and most snakes and insects don’t like wet feet any more than humans do, so they tend to go to places like houses and barns to dry out.

 

Not long ago, Sheila had a late evening craving for a cup of tea, went to the kitchen and turned on the overhead light.

 

And saw a mouse racing toward the stove along the top of the half-inch wide backsplash.

 

Then screamed that horrible, deep-throated scream that always makes me think that Freddy Krueger is headed our way with a meat cleaver.

 

After the screaming and barking stopped – I’m not admitting to more than one person screaming – we did the snap mousetrap bit, but he was smarter than we were. He knew what we were up to – or else he just didn’t like our goodies. Almond butter? Bird seed? Bits of fruit? Cheese? Nope, not a nibble. Placing poison inside the house was not an option because of Hammett, our wonderful Irish Setter.

 

We finally called the Killer Elite Squad – the exterminators. They came, they saw, and did things under the house. We wanted the furry creature gone or at least chased back to his old home in the woods. The plumber came and plugged up holes under the house. The electrician came and closed up gaps near a socket in the garage. Mission hopefully accomplished.

 

We haven’t seen the invader since and Sheila has finally returned to the kitchen after a week of carefully avoiding that scary room. Hammett has snuffled at the doorway. Big sigh of relief here. I can cook, but only to survive, and take-out dinner from a limited selection of restaurants every night is not as exciting as you might first imagine.

 

Part of the solution under the house involved poison and it made me think about the consequences of it getting into conniving, possibly murderous  hands. Mice and humans are both mammals, after all, and what is lethal for one might also be deadly for the other in the right quantities. Rodent poison is readily available to anyone, sitting on grocery, hardware, and big box store shelves alike. Bonus? There is a perfectly good reason to buy it. Who would suspect anything devious behind the simple purchase of a couple of boxes of the stuff, especially this time of year?

 

Why does it work? The main ingredient, brodifacoum, causes blood to stop coagulating. Brodifacoum causes death in mice by thinning their blood so much that they hemorrhage. Death is not immediate, so they crawl away or return to eat more of the stuff, oblivious to its harmful effect.

 

In theory, mouse poison could kill a person if administered in enough quantity over a period of time, also causing them to hemorrhage. But, in all honesty, the flu-like symptoms of nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, etc. would send you to the doctor long before death could occur, especially if the symptoms worsen. Who would want to deal with that any longer than necessary? Plus, the amount needed to do in a grownup is considerable. And there is an easy antidote – vitamin K – which acts as speedy coagulant.

 

Poisons are used in books and other media to get rid of victims all the time, but is feeding rat poison to the potential victim a method that is used outside the entertainment industry?

 

It turns out that about ten years ago in real-life, a disturbed teenager from the Midwest decided to make his family sick, a little at a time. He mixed the poison in with their food over several weeks until they finally realized that they were getting lots worse, with numerous bouts of painful symptoms. A doctor visit revealed the truth.

 

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2005/01/can_mouse_poison_kill_you.html

 

At this point I usually say that no bodies were found while researching and/or writing this post. Maybe not this time, but if you hear screaming in the future, I promise you: There will be. Of the furry kind.

 

*Photo credit? the internet. Sheila was too busy screaming to take a photo.  😉

The Kerrians are fictional characters, but the mouse debacle really happened.

 

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KN, p.182 “Deadly Poisons in the Animal Kingdom”

 

PoisonDartFrogBlueIMG_4362 (1)

Have you ever been bitten by an insect? How about a snake? Or a frog? Or a snail? I’ll take a fire ant bite over the bites of some of the animals in this article any day.

 

I would bet that most of you have endured the after effects of a mosquito bite – the itchiness, the redness, the swelling, but rarely does anyone die from it. There are nasty diseases that a mosquito can carry – i.e., Malaria and the Zika virus – but the everyday, backyard variety generally just delivers an annoying couple of days of discomfort. We can’t tell the difference by just looking at them as they dive at us, so we use insect repellent to ward them off. There are couple of great products that golfers use to keep pesky gnats, horse flies, and skeeters away, but, there is no magic spray that works to chase away the deadliest animals that co-exist with us on the planet. We have to rely on treatment after the fact, or the best idea of all: avoidance.

 

Here are ten of the worst:

Some animals have developed neurotoxins to dispatch their victims. The worst spider in the world is found in Australia – just in Sydney, to be exact. The Sydney Funnel Web Spider can kill a human or a monkey within 15 minutes. Apparently, no other animal is susceptible to the poison. There is an anti-venom, but you’d have to be really close to the hospital to get treated in time.

 

The South African Spitting Scorpion uses three neurotoxins to protect itself – one to stun, one to paralyze and one to kill. It spits the lightest dose when chasing the victim away, but it only needs a billionth of a gram of the deadly dose to kill a small animal. Death is not pleasant, with tremors and convulsions that go on even after death.

 

The Lonomia Caterpillar is responsible for over 500 deaths in the past twenty years and kills by causing hemorrhaging near the site of the bite. The victim’s blood no longer clots and this condition spreads as the body tries to cope. Scientists don’t yet know the composition of all the toxins involved.

 

Unlike other poisonous animals, the Poison Dart Frog creates its toxin from its diet. Scientists have discovered that in captivity, the frog is rendered harmless by changing its diet. That means that even if the frogs in my photo above had escaped, they would have hopped around, doing no damage to me at all if they had touched me. Good thing, because one little wild frog from Central or South America has enough toxin to kill about ten fully adult humans. Hop, hop, hopping about, enticing us to touch its pretty skin, doing its worst by causing heart attacks.

 

The famed Puffer Fish carries a neurotoxin that is 100 times deadlier than potassium cyanide. What may not as widely known is that same toxin can zap you if you touch certain varieties of sea snails as well as the blue ringed octopus, a small but nasty bit of sea life. Contact with one of these unfriendly sorts can cause blindness, paralysis, and/or death. And while the Marbled Cone Snail may be gorgeous to look at, there is no known antidote for a strong enough dose of its venom. I’ve never been a strong ocean swimmer, but when I stick my toe in a wave at the shore, I expect to be alive afterward, pretty sea snails or not. Maybe I’ll forgo the next snorkeling trip.  😉

PoisonPuffer-fish2

http://listverse.com/2012/12/26/10-animal-poisons-with-amazingly-specific-purposes/

 

The Inland Taipan is among the deadliest snakes on Earth. Anybody that gets bitten by one of these can die within 45 minutes. It’s an Australian snake and there is anti-venom for the bite, but I wouldn’t want to count on getting back to civilization in time to get the treatment. If I was a snake handler Down Under or if I lived in the Outback, I’d think seriously about keeping a vial of the remedy on hand.

 

The King Cobra can strike fear into the heart of anyone that gets within spitting distance. Just a 1/4 ounce of its venom (about 7 ml) can kill a full grown elephant within minutes. To put that into perspective – about twenty grown men could die from that same 1/4 ounce dose. The good news is that unless you’re traveling to India or China, or the local zoo lets one escape, you’re safe.

 

Several varieties of Jellyfish can deliver stings that cause a great deal of pain and sometimes death. They are physically brainless, but their make-up is all about survival. Tentacles can be anywhere from less than an inch (the translucent Irukandji) up to ten feet long (the Portuguese Man O War). They are found in oceans all over the world, can be almost invisible or quite colorful (the Sea Nettle found near the Chesapeake Bay in the USA). My advice? If you see one, swim away as fast as you can.

PoisonJellyfish2 copy

http://www.conservationinstitute.org/7-deadliest-poisonous-jellyfish-world/

 

If you’re using the information in a book you’re writing, choose your poison source carefully. Somebody has to gather that poison before it can be injected or mixed with food. Will it be the villain or someone she/he hires?  There are medical uses for some of the neurotoxins – those can be purchased legally with the proper credentials. On the other hand, snake venom is not easy to collect, and somebody might actually have to catch the snake first.  Snake bags anyone?

 

Do you have a favorite villain in literature that has used a rare animal-based poison to do his/her evil work? Please share in the comments below.  🙂

 

 

*Photo credits:

Poison Dart Frog & Jellyfish – Patti Phillips

Puffer Fish – ListVerse

 

 

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