The sorridronel /sɔɹədroʊˈnɛl/ is a blue-skinned, red-eyed stranger with thin limbs and a slender snout and tail. When touched, the sorridronel's immediate surface is cool and dry, and feels remarkably similar𐊃 to human skin. When pressed, it becomes hot and sweaty, almost feverish at the point of contact. Its grey inner flesh feels dry to the touch, but exudes a thin, just-red fluid when gripped. Its body cavity is lined with black skin and contains a ribbon-like,𐊵 red and black series of tissues. Its odor is musty.
𐊃 Or similar enough, at least, for some.
𐊵 Like shoelaces tangled up in rubber.
The sorridronel's entire body is soft enough that it can be easily ripped apart with one's bare hands. Injuries often beget further, spontaneous wounds – a single cut upon the sorridronel's surface produces other slash-marks nearby, while bruises spread out to cover a large area. In addition, the sorridronel presents no healing abilities; bruises turn soft and cave inwards, while cuts grow gradually deeper and wider. Even a small puncture wound eventually becomes a gaping laceration through which the sorridronel's organs spill forth.
The sorridronel appears only in interior environments with low light levels, cramped quarters, and walls that press in tightly. It does not tend to appear in abandoned areas, nor does it appear in areas which receive much activity. It can commonly be found at the ends of hallways, at the bottoms of basements, or on closet floors inside buildings that are barely maintained, but which have not yet fallen into complete disrepair and disuse. Incidences within an infested city tend to remain minimal, with only a handful of sorridronel appearing for the duration of the infestation, and never in close proximity to one another either temporally or geographically.
The sorridronel starts off as a blurry and indistinct shape, which grows more discernible over a period of several minutes, and shifts to solidity with a sudden focus of detail.
The sorridronel's disposition is pitiful but not pitiable. Unable or unwilling to ambulate, it moves only to bury its face in its hands or scratch feebly at the floor beneath it.
The sorridronel mimics human speech perfectly, using the voices of sensitives killed by predatory strangers within the city. It speaks through a garish sob, and does not cease its vocalizations, which are desperately loud and wet, and which require only a slight opening of the mouth to convey. If no sensitives have been killed by predatory strangers within the infested city, the sorridronel is silent, shuddering voicelessly into its own palms.
Other strangers actively avoid it, although it will cry louder when in proximity to another strain.
When a sensitive is within a quarter-mile of the sorridronel, its wails reach a fever pitch,Ꮄ and it reaches its hands forward in a futile beckoning gesture. The sorridronel uses a variety of cries in order to call forth the attention of sensitives, even using the names of those individuals whom its voice's original speaker knew in life.
Ꮄ It calls us to them, but has no reason for it; desperation without a cause.
When it encounters a sensitive face-to-face, it uses all of its strength to slumps forward and clutch at any clothing or skin that it can reach. Its motions do not appear aggressive, and if allowed, the sorridronel will hold the sensitive close to them. Its sobbing does not cease regardless of any actions on the part of the sensitive. Even comforting touches and strokes only cause the sorridronel to cry out in choking gasps.
It will not let go on its own, nor will it follow people who leave it alone. Upon being abandoned, the sorridronel tends to attack itself, typically using its fists or any nearby object to bludgeon itself in the forehead with a seething ferocity. Following this self-attack, and once subsequent wounds begin to appear in an unremitting cascade, the sorridronel displays a great deal of regret towards its own violence, shivering as its hands run across the spreading bruises and attempting to hold shut any cuts that appear.
As such, there are no interactions between sensitives and sorridronel which do not prove fatal to the sorridronel.
In addition, 6% of encounters cause a specific effect in the sensitive, as well. This effect can lie dormant for up to twenty years, and tends to occur on the upper bounds of this range. Affected sensitives become overtaken by a sudden and overwhelming impetus for self-injury, and grab at any sharp object within range (from a knife, a screwdriver, nail, or shard of glass) to slash at the body. The intention does not seem to be self-murder (with the throat, for example, being the first target of self-assault only rarely), but rather, utter destruction of the body. This attack upon the self does not cease until the affected individual either dies due to the extent of these injuries, or is physically restrained or sedated. Even such external restriction, however, does not stop the underlying impulse, and any lapse in bondage or medication causes this frenetic self-injury to recur. All speech, aside from wordless screams, ceases immediately upon onset.
The sorridronel grows weaker as it ages, its sobbing less loud and its scratching more lackluster.৭ It moves only at the very end of its life, picking itself up with the last vestiges of its strength, but never managing to walk more than a half-dozen steps before it collapses to the ground, passing away with a final, spluttering expulsion.୨ The sorridronel's tissues first turn papery, then stain red from the outside in, wet as they crumple up on the ground. After several weeks, this pile darkens once more, as it dries out to a pile of soft, maroon flakes.
৭ Boo-hoo, babydoll, crybaby all bawlin' up,
Here come those flood waters, and I'm all alone.
Carrie Sands. Crybaby Blues.
୨ But even after the cities have died off and there's nothing but empty rooms and unread books, the wretches will still plead...
Ricarda Sharpe Shearer. I Remember Muralia.