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In the mid-1820s, during the height of American Western expansion, there existed a small Oklahoma town called Stadtlern. The town, like many others around it, was still developing, and thus had a great lack of food. Death by starvation was very common, and the citizens did whatever they could to procure food for themselves and their families. Quite a few instances of cannibalism took place, as well as periods of mass theft. For a long time, the town was on the verge of total desolation.
One day, a mysterious cloaked man arrived at the gates of the town by carriage, claiming to be from very far away. He brought with him a small bag containing seeds, which he gave to the town mayor. He explained that his associates had heard of the deplorable condition of Stadtlern, and had sent him to deliver the seeds, which would grow into a plant with edible fruit when grown. The fruit, he said, had the potential to bring the town out of starvation. However, the leaves of the plant should never be consumed; if so, the town would suffer a fate far worse than destruction.
The mayor, in desperation, decided to accept the man’s offering and plant the seeds in one of the town’s fields. The plant grew very quickly, and in about three weeks the fruit had ripened and was ready to eat. The fruit was spherical, bright green, and about the size of a person’s hand. It had a sweet and savory taste, and could be eaten as well as juiced. The leaves, on the other hand, were black, and smelt as putrid as a decaying corpse. Avoiding the leaves, the citizens of Stadtlern picked the fruit for years, replanting the seeds until fields upon fields of the plants had been grown. The town, rid of starvation, developed into a thriving community and began to grow in size.
To celebrate Stadtlern’s prosperity, the citizens began to hold a festival once a year on the day that the mysterious man gave the mayor the seeds, which became the new official founding date of the town. The festival attracted people from all around, and featured live entertainment, trading stalls, and delicious food. During the fifth festival, the mayor decided to honor Stadtlern’s fifth anniversary by recreating the mysterious man’s visit to the town in the form of a play. Actors were chosen to represent the mysterious man and the mayor, and a special carriage was built for the man to ride into town upon. It was anticipated to be a grand performance, and more people attended the festival than ever before.
However, something went terribly wrong during the play. Since the play was taking place at night, torches were adorned on the carriage, both for decoration and visibility. One of these torches was not attached to the carriage properly, and when the carriage hit a bump in the road the torch fell off and landed in a patch of grass. The grass was dry due to lack of rain, and immediately ignited, causing a large fire to form. The ill-prepared citizens did not have enough water at hand to put out the fire, and it spread to the fields of Stadtlern’s cherished fruit. In a matter of minutes, the fire ravaged the plants, and as it burned the black leaves, a dark smoke began to fill the air.
The smoke began to envelop the town, and as the citizens and festival-goers inhaled it, they began to cough horribly, but it could hardly be described as a mere cough. The noise was wretched, and sounded as if their throats were being ripped apart and pulled out of their mouths. As they coughed, dark red blood began to spew out, covering the streets of Stadtlern with a crimson glaze. Eventually, bits of flesh began to accompany the blood, and their lungs began to be crushed due to the continuous forced expiration. Many died of excruciating pain and blood loss; others killed themselves by shoving various items down their throats. The few that survived were unable to talk, and usually died a few days later due to breathing complications.
The death toll of the incident was estimated to be at least three thousand. Stadtlern, having a population of zero, was removed from the map by the U.S. Government, out of fear that someone might be able to find remaining seeds of the plant and use it for acts of terrorism. However, they say that if you ever do visit the town, you can still smell traces of the smoke, a smell as putrid as decaying corpses.