Troop
by Cutter, Nick






Leading a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a traditional weekend camping trip, scoutmaster Tim Riggs encounters a disturbing, voraciously hungry intruder in the woods who infects the troop with a bioengineered disease.





Some thrillers produce shivers, others trigger goose bumps; Cutter's graphic offering will have readers jumping out of their skins. Scoutmaster Dr. Tim Riggs takes his troop for their annual camping trip to Falstaff Island, an uninhabited area not far from their home on Prince Edward Island. The five 14-year-old boys who comprise Troop 52 are a diverse group: popular school jock, Kent, whose father is the chief of police; best friends Ephraim and Max, one the son of a petty thief who's serving time in prison and the other the son of the coroner who also serves as the local taxidermist; Shelley, an odd loner with a creepy proclivity for animal torture and touching girls' hair; and Newton, the overweight nerdy kid who's the butt of the other boys' jokes. When a skeletal, voracious, obviously ill man shows up on the island the first night of their trip, Tim's efforts to assist him unleash a series of events which the author describes in gruesome, deliciously gory detail. Tom Padgett is the subject of a scientific test gone horribly wrong, or so it seems, and soon, the Scouts face a nightmare that worms its way into the group and wreaks every kind of havoc imaginable. With no way to leave the island (the boat Tom arrived on is disabled, and the troop was dropped off by a different boat), the boys fight to survive. Cutter's narrative of unfolding events on the island is supplemented with well-placed interviews, pages from diaries, and magazine and newspaper articles, which provide answers to the reader in bits and pieces-but perhaps more importantly, it also delivers much-needed respites from the intense narrative as the boys battle for their lives on the island. Cutter (who created this work under a pseudonym) packs a powerful punch by plunging readers into gut-wrenching, explicit imagery that's not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. Readers may wish to tackle this heart-pounding novel in highly populated, well-lit areas-snacks optional. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.





The Troop
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1

EAT EAT EAT EAT


The boat skipped over the waves, the drone of its motor trailing across the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The moon was a bone fishhook in the clear October sky.

The man was wet from the spray that kicked over the gunwale. The outline of his body was visible under his drenched clothes. He easily could have been mistaken for a scarecrow left carelessly unattended in a farmer’s field, stuffing torn out by scavenging animals.

He’d stolen the boat from a dock at North Point, at the farthest tip of Prince Edward Island, reaching the dock in a truck he’d hotwired in a diner parking lot.

Christ, he was hungry. He’d eaten so much at that roadside diner that he’d ruptured his stomach lining—the contents of his guts were right now leaking through the split tissue, into the crevices between his organs. He wasn’t aware of that fact, though, and wouldn’t care much anyway in his current state. It’d felt so good to fill the empty space inside of him . . . but it was like dumping dirt down a bottomless hole: you could throw shovelful after shovelful, yet it made not the slightest difference.

Fifty miles back, he’d stopped at the side of the road, having spotted a raccoon carcass in the ditch. Torn open, spine gleaming through its fur. It had taken great effort to not jam the transmission collar into park, go crawling into the ditch, and . . .

He hadn’t done that. He was still human, after all.

The hunger pangs would stop, he assured himself. His stomach could only hold so much—wasn’t that, like, a scientific fact? But this was unlike anything he’d ever known.

Images zipped through his head, slideshow style: his favorite foods lovingly presented, glistening and overplumped and too perfect, ripped from the glossy pages of Bon Appétit—a leering parody of food, freakishly sexual, hyperstylized, and lewd.

He saw cherries spilling from a wedge of flaky pie, each one nursed to a giddy plumpness, looking like a mess of avulsed bloodshot eyeballs dolloped with a towering cone of whipped cream . . .

Flash.

A porterhouse thick as a dictionary, shank bone winking from fat-marbled meat charred to crackly doneness, a pat of herbed butter melting overtop; the meat almost sighs as the knife hacks through it, cooked flesh parting with the deference of smoothly oiled doors . . .

Flash.

Flash.

Flash.

What wouldn’t he eat now? He yearned for that raccoon. If it were here now, he’d rip the hardened rags of sinew off its tattered fur; he’d crush its skull and sift through the splinters for its brain, which would be as delicious as the nut-meat of a walnut.

Why hadn’t he just eaten the fucking thing?

Would they come for him? He figured so. He was their failure—a human blooper reel—but also the keeper of their secret. And he was so, so toxic. At least, that’s what he overheard them say.

He didn’t wish to hurt anyone. The possibility that he may already have done so left him heartsick. What was it that Edgerton had said?

If this gets out, it’ll make Typhoid Mary look like Mary Poppins.

He was not an evil man. He’d simply been trapped and had done what any man in his position might do: he’d run. And they were coming for him. Would they try to capture him, return him to Edgerton? He wondered if they’d dare do that now.

He wasn’t going back. He’d hide and stay hidden.

He doubled over, nearly spilling over the side, hunger pangs gnawing into his gut. He blinked stinging tears out of his eyes and saw a dot of light dancing on the horizon.

An island? A fire?






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