By Andy Duncan (PS Publishing; 2009)
This 39-page novella is short (obviously!) and snappy. A recent entry in PS Publishing’s Holiday Chapbook series, it’s neither profound nor Earth-shaking, but leaves a mark nonetheless.
Andy Duncan is known in certain horror/fantasy circles for the collection BELUTHAHATCHIE AND OTHER STORIES (2000). I wasn’t familiar with his work prior to reading THE NIGHT CACHE, but after doing so it’s clear I should definitely be reading more Andy Duncan!
THE NIGHT CACHE is told from the point of view of a young gay woman who meets a like-minded gal while working at “Yarns Ignoble.” The latter woman, one Destiny Creech, makes her entrance in singular fashion via the purchase of a Val Lewton DVD set. The nature of Lewton’s films–horror–is an appropriate introduction to Destiny’s courtship with the protagonist, which evinces disquieting undertones almost immediately. Destiny has a daredevil streak, which goes against the heroine’s more cautious nature, and eventually Destiny none-too-unexpectedly passes on. But is she really dead? Or rather, is she really gone?
A particularly interesting feature of this novella is its use of encrypted caches, which the protagonists are both into (and which are carefully laid out for the less knowledgeable reader). Caches come to play an important part in the unfolding narrative, and are used in extremely clever fashion in the riveting climax–wherein I can honestly say that the final ghostly confrontation is presented in a manner I’ve never before encountered.
Aside from being one of the few truly convincing attempts at a first person narrative from a person of the opposite sex (and a lesbian first person, moreover), THE NIGHT CACHE is extremely well characterized and endearing. The supernatural business doesn’t actually kick in until the final pages, yet the rest of the tale is resonant and chilling. Obviously THE NIGHT CACHE will never displace GHOST STORY or HEART-SHAPED BOX in anyone’s mind, but in the arena of modern ghost stories it’s a terrific entry.