About the Book
At any given moment, the human body contains millions of parasites. This is the story of just one. A really, really nasty one.
Benjamin Wilson was having a lousy month even before the stomach pains began. He was about to turn forty. One of his students has been shot while on a homicidal meat cleaver rampage. And shortly after the funeral, Benjamin didn’t feel so good…
Now everything is changing. His body is being affected in some very unpleasant ways. His personality is developing a few “quirks.” But the biggest change is that he has a bunch of evil and/or psychotic people trying to hunt him down to acquire the parasite. His only hope is Julie, a gorgeous bounty hunter who may or may not have Benjamin’s best interests in mind, and who may or may not be competent enough to help him anyway.
MOTIVATION FOR READING: So here’s what happened: I was relaxing and reading on a Sunday afternoon and suddenly my peace was shattered by the arrival of three testosterone filled males talking loudly and basically acting like morons. Hubs was rambling about bowling or hockey or some other type of sport. Youngest son was begging for money for the traveling fair or the movies or something else that you need to pay for. And oldest son was going on about the prom, tuxes and whether or not I had ordered a corsage yet for his girlfriend. Knowing that this could possibly ruin any chance of continuing my lazy, bookish day, I decided to play my “female who is completely insane” card and scare the freaks away. So I grabbed the closest book to me, jumped onto the sofa, book swinging violently around and screamed “That’s all well and good, but what does it have to do with Jeff Strand’s fiction?” Once they all turned tail and ran, I sat back down and read the book I had grabbed which turned out to be Benjamin’s Parasite!
WHAT IT’s ABOUT: The book’s official blurb is up above. But here’s a brief summation: Benjamin is an average guy who is a teacher, a dad, a husband and he’s approaching the big 4-0. He thought that was bad, until the morning he arrives at school and hears that one of his students went psycho-crazy with a meat cleaver, ending up dead in the process. Being a good person, Benjamin decides he should probably make an appearance at his students funeral. That’s when the trouble starts, he’s nervous to begin with – who wants to look at a dead kid? – but he starts to get a little more nervous when he thinks he sees the dead kid, named Brian, move.
He continued to watch.
Brian didn’t move again.
Good. Deceased kids weren’t supposed to move. They were supposed to lie peacefully in their caskets, lips motionless. Any movement was strictly prohibited by the laws of nature.
And then Benjamin swore – swore – that the body exhaled.
Not possible. No way in hell. He’d had an autopsy for God’s sake. You didn’t exhale after coroners cut you open and scooped out your insides. Brian was a troublemaker, but not that much of a troublemaker.
After convincing himself it was just a trick of his mind, Benjamin goes back to his normal life. Except not long after the funeral he begins to feel a little weird. At first it’s little things like suddenly feeling like a teenager who just discovered sex, and being unable to satisfy his cravings for chocolate. Too much sex and candy isn’t something he’s really concerned about, but when the stomach pain begins Benjamin thinks something is really, seriously wrong. And his assumption is quickly verified when he is kidnapped from a hospital emergency room by a gorgeous woman with a gun.
WHAT’s GOOD: There are way too many good things about this book! The best thing is the writing – it’s not like most of the horror I read, in that it is chock-full of humor while still managing to give me the creeps. The following scene where Benjamin is receiving the results of an X-ray from his doctor in the hospital had me holding my sides, I was laughing so hard!
(Dialogue – Doctor White = blue and Benjamin = red)
“You seem to have some sort of intestinal parasite.”
“Intestinal parasite.” Benjamin considered that. “Better than an alien, anyway.”
“Well, yes, that’s one way of looking at it.”
“So it’s like a tapeworm?”
“Not quite. It’s a bit more sizable.”
“I actually don’t know how big tapeworms run these days,” Benjamin admitted.
Doctor White held up an X-ray.
“Holy shit!” Benjamin exclaimed. “That’s in me?”
“Get it out!”
“That’s our intent.”
Benjamin took the X-ray from him and gaped at it. The thing was a frickin’ monster! A squid monster. “Is this picture life size?”
“It’s the size of a hot dog!”
“We know. As I explained earlier, the X-ray results were somewhat alarming.”
“Look at those tentacles! I’ve got Chthulu is my gut!”
“It’s from H.P. Lovecraft.”
“Squid creature writer.”
The supporting characters are also perfect, even though Benjamin steals the show with his clever comebacks and hilarious inner thoughts. I loved the bad guys! The Smith brothers have been sent on a mission by their father Mr. Smith to acquire Benjamin and his parasite for some evil plan. The only kink in Mr. Smith’s plan is that his sons are complete idiots – and that’s being nice. Between the two of them they don’t have the brains of a dead tree. The following quote is what Joey Smith is thinking moments before he has to call his Dad, Mr. Smith (keep in mind that Joey and Clyde are full-grown men and supposedly dangerous bad guys):
His preference would be to not update Dad on the situation until they had good news, but he had a missed call from Dad showing on his cell phone and ignoring that for too long could be as bad as failing. They’d done “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to determine who had to call. Joey picked rock. Clyde picked paper. Clyde always picked paper. But Joey always picked rock, and if he switched to, say, paper the one time Clyde switched to scissors, he would’ve felt like a complete idiot.
I could probably quote the entire book here with things that I liked. So one last thing I thought was awesome about this book was that it started out slowly, building up a nice background, and then it took off. The situations went from bad to worse to completely, insanely out of control. Insane cows, vans filled with psycho killers, a sentient stomach bug, and a parachute scene worthy of the big screen. But even with all the unbelievable happenings, I never once thought to myself “Oh right, like that would ever happen!” The reason why is simply that I never had the chance, Benjamin’s Parasite is just that terrific.
WHAT’s NOT so GOOD: There’s nothing not good about this book. Seriously the worst thing I can think of is the queasy feeling I experienced from descriptions of the parasite. I’m sure that if my stomach had growled while reading this book, I would likely have died on the spot! But that’s not really a bad thing at all, I like getting the heebie jeebies from my horror. Probably the worst thing about this book is that it’s the only book I’ve read by Jeff Strand and I desperately want more now!
FINAL THOUGHTs: Most assuredly the creepiest book I’ve read lately. And the funniest. But I would not recommend it to anyone whose pregnant – I know it would have sent me running to the hospital for an ultrasound just to make sure I was carrying a baby and not some crazy experimental parasite. (o.O)
Benjamin’s Parasite is available to purchase in trade paperback or digital format at Horror Mall.
About The Author
Jeff Strand is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of such demented books as The Sinister Mr. Corpse, Gleefully Macabre Tales, and Pressure. He lives in Tampa, Florida where his problems with intestinal parasites are few and far between, although that last burrito (the one with the funny colored sour cream) didn’t work out so well for him. He can’t remember if he already mentioned that he lives in Tampa, Florida. If you’re a brave web-explorer, you can visit his website at www.JeffStrand.com
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