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"The Vermin Episode" by Jacob M. Appel

"The Vermin Episode" by Jacob M. Appel 

This story comes from the collection "Scouting for the Reaper" written by Jacob M Appel. 

This story was the oddest and weirdest story in the whole collection.  I'm not sure what to make of this story to be honest.  It was fantasy, science fiction, but somehow based in reality if that can even be possible.  Throw in a monster, religion, and a few Jews and you have the story in a nutshell. 

A family that lived upstairs from a rabbi had a son that died.  The strange part was that the son somehow turned into a monster of some sort.  Referred to as vermin, but the son had multiple feet that grew out of his stomach and mutated into something not human.  This mutation lead to a problem that forced the family to ask the rabbi for help. 

Because the son had mutated into some sort of monster the local church wouldn't bury him.  The church believed that the mutation was caused to his sin and if they buried him they would be going against God's will. 

The family asked the rabbi if he could find a spot to bury his son since they could find no one else to help them.  The rabbi promised the family he would find somewhere to bury the son.  This is where the problems in the story really begin.  The rabbi has a hell of a time finding a place to bury the son.  Also he ends up with the son's body in his living room.  This causes heaps of trouble with the rabbi's wife.  The story then follows the rabbi as he searches for answers and somewhere to bury the family's son and keep his promise to them. 

This story had some really weird turns and twists throughout.  I'm not sure if I'm overthinking the story or if I am missing the theme of the story completely, but the story seemed to show the hypocrisy of the church. 

The church preaches peace and love, yet when they are truly needed they are no where to be found.  They want to claim someone is affected by sin and therefore don't deserve their love and support.  Leaving the family to fend for themselves. 

This is furthered by the Jewish religion turning their back on the son, and the rabbi, by refusing to taint their cemetery with the son's remains. 

I like the characters in this story.  The rabbi seemed to develop well as the story progressed.  His intentions were moral and just.  He was a man of faith, but also a man who kept his word.  The end of the story proves that he was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish his promise. 

The one thing that bothered me with this story is all the Jewish words that were dropped throughout.  Since I am unfamiliar with the Jewish faith and the terminology, if you will, used for their faith I felt the use of the terms out of place.  The Jewish words knocked me out of the moment and I had to keep reorienting myself with the story. 

Other than the Jewish words used this was a well done story.  I would of liked to know more about how the human mutated into a monster.  That would have been more interesting than the story of the rabbi.  It was like a big elephant in the room and the question was never answered. Oh well, a story for a different day maybe?


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