When Scott Roche titles his new story “Fetch”, it’s a safe bet he’s not on about that cartoon dog that runs his own game show.
In Irish folklore, a “fetch” is a more or less benign spirit that appears as a portent either of impending death if seen in the evening, or of long life if seen in the morning. It takes the seeming, or appearance, of the soul that it portends, and is sent to escort the soul to the afterlife – whether divine or infernal. The fetch is a silent creature, it does not stalk nor terrify, and may be seen anywhere, under any circumstance. While popular in Irish folk lore, the fetch is seldom seen in other literature.
Roche, true to form, sets out to turn folklore on its ear. While inspired by this traditional Irish spirit, Roche’s story carries little else of the Irish flavor on the reader’s journey through twilight. The result is slightly surreal, modernistic encounter with the edge of the supernatural. Roche’s style is easy to read, and this short story is no exception, waltzing from intro to conclusion with a steady pace and familiar language.
In the tradition of Algernon Blackwood, Roche’s skeptical protagonists are placed in a situation beyond their control. Their primary role is that of witness, and the main conflict of the story consists of spiritual debate rather than actions and deeds. True to his modern influences, when the action becomes personal it gets visceral and bloody very quickly. The conclusion is inevitable, and the story feels very complete when finished.
Roche’s missteps are few enough. For a story set in Ireland and drawing heavily on a very specifically Irish folklore and Catholic doctrine, there is not much of the Irish or Catholic flavor to the tale. But for one or two idioms, this story could have been set anywhere in the world, and the main character could represent any given religion. For a story whose pivotal action revolves around the spiritual merits of faith and the trappings of the Catholic church, the story blithely overlooks consistency of spiritual elements in favor of dramatic presentation. Twice, an otherwise pleasant read jars the reader out of the story with unexpected cursing.
“Fetch” is a solid entry in Roche’s stable of work, most of which is supernatural in flavor and paranormal in outlook. His work may be found on Smashwords, and with other writings in his own set of blogs, found at http://scottroche.com and at http://spiritualtramp.com.