Scoutmaster Tim and his scouts of Troop 52 relish their yearly trip coinciding with the pioneering badge. Falstaff Island, a government-owned dwelling that hosts as an emergency shelter, as well as home to marine and insect life, has been chosen for this year’s site. Absent of full-time human occupation it is the perfect location for the five boys’ last hurrah, as they are getting older and ready to exit the Scout life. Once settled in, an unidentified man arrives with abnormal physical attributes and is in obvious need of medical attention. An unusual sickness radiates from the stranger as the young men notice the devastation of his body. Not knowing that secret agencies were pursuing, sanctuary and medical treatment are given to the foreigner. Forced to perform a minor procedure, a disturbing discovery is made. A white thick tube inside the man’s stomach begins flexing, constricting and eventually emerging from the body to morph itself into something appalling that couldn't be identified. As the horror unfolds before the onlookers, a disease begins to spread. What begins as a routine three day camping trip now becomes a horrifying extreme need for survival for each individual. As the Scout handbook says: always be prepared.
Nick Cutter paints a terrifying picture by using his main characters as a brush in his novel The Troop. With a limited amount of people on a confined isle, the tone is a bit claustrophobic, as is the fear of the unknown. Moments of transformations become pure horror and will cause unavoidable queasiness for the reader. These transmutations are directly related to worms, the oldest species on earth that become nightmare houseguests within the human body. With the ability to lay eggs in their own skin and detachable segments, the worm is capable of having endless self-creation. The concept of human kind attempting to save others they love and care about only to acquire the contagious infection themselves becomes a social obstacle that the inhabitants must conquer. From the mind deteriorating to physical strength no longer existing, the progression of the metamorphosis is described with a ghastly edge and a chilling flair. It's a pleasure to know Nick Cutter is not only an obviously talented author in the horror field; he is also a self-proclaimed fan of the genre.