Bloodpool Catwalks

A Level 1 Chain — Horrorcon 2022!

rating: +17

17 votes (+17, -0) 5★

rating: +17+x

Level Classification

Difficulty 2/5 The suspended catwalks make traversal of this level fairly simple. However, its grim and repressive environment can wear on your soul, and your sanity.
Entity Count 3/5 Many terrors swim in the pools. There are large fish and reptiles both natural and strange, most with predatory instincts.
Chaos Gradient 4/5 A tidal force stirs and churns the blood pools, draining large areas of space before violently flooding them once more. Depending on the location, the blood can run extremely deep.
Basset-Frazier Index 3/5 This level is simply better avoided if at all possible. There is little of value here to risk a crossing. Even seasoned porters choose detours around this awful place.

Description

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The Catwalks

The Bloodpools. They ebb and flow a rancid tide of homogenous blood and saltwater through a series of dark industrial warehouses. This is an absolutely abhorrent place, found among the deep guts of Limspace adjacent to The Halls. The overwhelming smell of the mixture flooding the level attracts millions of flies and maggots which live and drown in the blood and add to its revolting sludge.

Travel through the level is made possible only by the metal grated catwalks suspended above. It would be inadvisable at best to try and trek through the blood, for when the incoming tide rises, the pools can quickly reach depths well above your neck. The blood flows into eddies and swirls with a heavy, deadly undertow, carrying creatures that hunt in the swirling murk.

With a thriving ecosystem of fish, reptiles and all manner of entities and horrors surviving within the salty, congealing concoction, you can expect to see bones and husks of creatures floating below as you walk. As the tide sweeps away the pools, these husks and bones are deposited everywhere to dry. They are picked clean by swarms of flies. When the tide returns, the beached catacombs of moist, bloody bones are swept away and stirred back into the seas of gore. It's a never-ending cycle of detestation.

To put it simply, this is a level inhuman, churning with death and decay. Its very stink is assaulting and the constant knowledge of what swirls below you wears away at your mind. If you linger too long or become too lost within its confines, you will find there is only madness here. The environment gnaws at the corners of sanity, repressing even the most stalwart of survivors. Porters do not take this route.

It was discovered by pilgrims who were denounced from Alpha Point long ago during the first Exodus. They stated that "Life goes here to die."


Communities

In life, foul things seem to attract other foul things, and so too has the swirling rotting ocean of blood below the catwalks ensnared a grim population of the Brotherhood.

"Perhaps their survival in the Bloodpools was out of desperation at first. I try to give the benefit of the doubt to people here. When face to face with your terminal endpoint, your internal engine screeches so loud and fiercely with an intensity that is outside of the realms of rational thought and action. And I mean true desperation. The animalistic type that would have you screaming in the face of death and clawing through with tooth and nail.

Few people come here by choice. We surely didn't when we were banished from our home in The Halls. Perhaps the lost Brothers of Lim who reside here may have met a similar fate. Sentenced to wander or to death in the Bloodpools, cast out from their own. At that point your animalistic side is the one that takes the reigns — and you ask yourself what you're willing to subject yourself to before accepting your own death. In those situations, people surprise themselves. And they live on.

Or, knowing the Brotherhood, perhaps it is some sort of a rite of passage… an initiation ritual meant to teach some sort of eternal humility or grand wisdom. We've seen the end result. The broods of people who stagger out of a lifetime in the Bloodpools are difficult to consider human. I couldn't imagine living off the bloody scraps and bones that wash up in the salty tide, huddled in the darkness hiding from the entities. For that to be your entire existence is a certain specific type of hell."

Saffron K, Exodus Survivor

The scant population of the Brotherhood that resides here is indeed poorly supplied, ragged, and dismal. That should not suggest you enter the level without caution: they will murder anyone not of their own creed. Whether this violent disposition is learned from survivalist desperation or due to a murderous pledge to their figurehead Volkov is unknown. They are few, and disparate, but have claimed too many lives from the UNCB while documenting this territory as it is.

If you walk the catwalks and fear becoming one with the Bloodpools, always be on the lookout for the oldest and coldest of dangers: your fellow man.


Entrances and Exits

The Bloodpool Catwalks exist adjacent to the Halls of The Halls. They bridge the Halls and a number of deeper levels, with rumours suggesting connections to the Sub-Basement, Sunken City, and the endless shopping halls of Boundless Retail. There may be even more, even deeper connections within; but few are willing to explore these depths to document them.

No sane individuals use this level for travel unless they have no other choice. The gradients that blend the Bloodpool Catwalks with other levels are slow, gradual gradients of decay, where walls and floors transition into crumbling concrete and grimy stained metal. Sewers and pipelines that run underneath the crumbling outskirts of Boundless Retail pour blood endlessly into the pools. Where that blood comes from, no one knows. Simultaneously, slow dripping leaks of saltwater from The Flooded City mingle with the carnage and that keeps the mixture from coagulating. It's imagined that over time, as more blood endlessly fills this repulsive pit, it will eventually spill out and cover all its connecting levels with tidal waves of frothing crimson gore.

A rather grim and unsettling notion, but, nonetheless one that may offer insights into the grand design of the Backrooms system itself.


Additional Reading

A note on neurodegenerative diseases and the curse of the 'Laughing Lost'.

With the remote insights of Dr. Nolan Davis of the GMG, steps to understanding the phenomenon of visitors to the Bloodpools developing uncontrollable bouts of emotional instability have been made possible.

Observed in both explorers and lost rescued wanderers, many who were exposed to the level long-term were seen to switch rapidly from states of extreme depression to uncontrollable episodes of laughter and elation. The laughter was pathologic and would come forth in bursts, paired with acute memory loss and reduced motor control during episodes. In a chilling account, they were said to "laugh themselves to death".

For a very long time, the cause of this madness had left a mystery, labelled an anomalous factor of the level which may never be explained. The Laughing Lost would in time degrade until there was no spark left, no conscious awareness and little control over their mind or body. They would succumb to episodes of laughter and delirium until they would, indeed, pass.

The Bloodpools soon received a stark reputation of being cursed. Rumours of ghost possession, anomalous insanity, and other tales stalked the bloodpools like a hanging shadow. Tales of Bloody Madness, zombification, and all manner of folklore developed around the area. Stories spread by Porters ensured that even far away settlements were told to never enter its bloody depths.

In time, news of these Laughing Lost spread through the UNCB on precursor terminals — until the disease caught the eye of Dr. Davis, a studied professional from Baseline who was able to shed some light on a possible explanation. Recalling medical studies from their time on Earth Dr. Davis suggested the disease mirrored the widespread deaths in Papua New Guinea after practices of funerary cannibalism of the Fore tribe were observed. Known as Kúru, Dr. Davis states it was largely eradicated in the 1950s after the Fore stopped eating their dead and practiced more sanitary burial practices.

"It's been a very long time since medical school, but there is something unsettling about a laughing sickness that you never quite forget about. And we've seen similar things more often than you might imagine, it goes beyond even just the Fore tribe. Depending on when you spliced in you may remember the term "mad cow" disease. It's a similar thing, a neurodegenerative disease caused by eating brains. Or, more specifically, a specific protein in brains. Prions? If I remember correctly. I wish I had some reference material, you'll have to take my word for it.

Regardless, if the description of the Level is correct then there is plenty of raw and exposed blood and carcasses in the Bloodpools. It would not be a stretch to imagine that contact or consumption of anything in there could cause a host of illnesses. Kúru fits the bill. I wouldn't step in there without a full suit, gloved up, and making sure my eyes, ears, mouth… any entrance into my body fully covered. The level is a biohazard stew. All superstition aside, it'll kill you from viral infection if nothing else gets you. Assuredly."

— Dr. Nolan Davis, Grand Mercantile Guild

Despite this account, a curious detail remains. The Laughing Lost, in death, always display the same patterns of morbid rigor mortis. During their final fit, the ribs crack and compound fracture, exposing the lungs. Additionally, their faces contort into permanent grins as the muscles around the jaw contract and pull taught in death. While Dr. Davis may be correct regarding the abundance of viral danger from the area, he had no comment on these effects. As such, rumours of a curse remain.

The Laughing Lost are often disposed of with care and ritual. The grinning, open bodies are unsettling after passing. Most are burned.

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