This month, I am taking part in the #WEP October Challenge, part of WEP’s 2018 Challenges and my second WEP tale. I’m posting a day early to avoid the rush and be ready for reading great pieces tomorrow.
Once again, the IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) have joined in the fun.
Beyond the seasonal theme, I will try to give some background to the piece. I’m attempting to avoid deadly spoilers here as, in a way, this piece must stand-alone – for instance, the identity of ‘I’ is gradually revealed in the piece.
However, this is another incident in the career of a central character in my Snowdon Shadows series – SPOILERS ahead. The incident is set three years after my August WEP Challenge and will become a chapter within my NaNoWriMo attempt next month, entitled Fevered. There are incidents between my August contribution and this one, but I hope that this tale works on its own. Enjoy.
Copyright © Roland Clarke
Silhouettes prance in the glow behind the standing stones. Night and long grass hide us from prying eyes.
Do they care what Kama and I are?
A screech arrests our embrace.
Headlights stab across the field. A car plunges off the bypass and smashes into the stonewall. Rubble splashes into the ditch.
We leap to our feet and weave through the crowd. Did anyone see the crash? Or were they engrossed in the Nos Calan Gaeaf rites?
I jump the water beside the steaming wreck. The driver and passenger are conscious but bleeding. I call the incident in as I climb through the smashed wall.
“Single car accident on A487 westbound from Porthmadog Roundabout. Visible injuries. DS Kamatchi and PC Anwyl attending. Over.”
“Will dispatch ambulance and traffic unit to assist. Control out.”
Kama helps the passenger who has dragged himself to the verge. Blood from his forehead smears his hair. He rambles in Welsh about a woman.
Is there a body in the roadway? Shivers. Sweat. Nobody other than stopped cars. My tattoos tingle. I finger my studded bracer. N for Night, S for Spirits, A for Accident.
The driver’s eyes are glazed. Drink or drugs? The traffic police will have to investigate.
I open his door and crouch.
Did I dream you up or are you for real?
Are you for real?
I point to the radio, but the driver ignores it. The music dies.
“Ydych chi’n iawn, syr? Are you okay, sir?”
Mouth agape, his eyes track over me. “You aren’t her. What are you?”
From Cardiff by his accent, but Welsh is our shared language.
“An off-duty police constable. Can you remember what happened, sir?”
Blue lights flicker behind us. My traffic colleagues.
“The dream was so real. Will this ever end? She threw herself in front. I tried not to hit her. Is she alive?”
Midnight on All Hallows Eve.
A shadow shrouds me. I start.
“Sorry. I’m PC Morrow. Have you breathalysed him”
I face Morrow – shake my head. Wave him forward.
As he measures the driver’s blood alcohol, I study the accident scene.
Kama talks to the other traffic officer placing cones around the area. Paramedics treat the injuries.
Skid marks – visible in the patrol car’s lights. Did the driver swerve to avoid something – someone?
I examine the mangled bonnet of the vehicle and the remains of the dry-stone wall. No sign of a body. Under the car? No fur, no blood. Nothing.
“He’s Ellis Pryce. His documents check.” Morrow shows me the licence. “He’s been drinking – not enough to explain his ramblings. Are you the pale person Mr Pryce wants? My Welsh is too basic to make sense—”
Intriguing. The mystery teases me.
Morrow falters. “Don’t think he means DS Kamatchi as she’s – dark-skinned. Anyway, why’s a detective here?” He judges me and Kama. “You’re friends and—”
Juggle the truth.
“Flatmates. We’re off-duty – a girlie night out. But as my tad says, crime never even observes the Sabbath. I’ll see what Mr Pryce wants.”
Morrow scratches his head. “Wise man, Sergeant Anwyl. The best.”
Lean back inside the car. Does my tad suspect my affair with another woman? Do any of our colleagues?
Pryce drowns out my concerns.
“The dream was so vivid. I’d never driven a carriage. Even at our farm in Ogmore. Horses, yes. Not a coach. The hooves killed her.” He stares through me, reliving his nightmare. “The blood? Where is she now?”
Shivers. That South Wales accent. Different like their legends. A troubled soul?
Or something more realistic? Clouds-, a reflection, a seagull. I can ask Kama – my Tamil girlfriend is shrewd.
First, reassure the man.
“You hit no one, sir. The woman has left. My uniform colleagues will make sure that you and your friend stay safe—”
“Never stole her gold. I’m not a thief. I’m a coachman earning an honest living.” His eyes are closed. “Let me check my horses before I leave.”
I signal to Morrow. “This car won’t move. Is roadside assistance coming? Do you need us to interview witnesses?”
“Breakdown lorry’s on its way. If you and Detective Kamatchi want us to finish here, type up a report – tomorrow. Good to work with you both. Nos da.”
I echo his farewell. Kama lures me across the road and back into the shadows. Arms around each other, the footpath away from Port draws us.
My brain probes. “Did the passenger see someone too?”
Kama stops. “A woman dressed in a white dress.”
My fingers trace her tears forming. She shivers.
“You too, cariad. Y Ladi Wen – the White Lady. The bogeyman from our myths.”
“As a child in the Valleys, I heard the legend.”
“Here, it’s the frightening Hwch Ddu gwta, a tail-less black sow that terrorises people.”
She nods, then kisses me, stroking my hair.
“My parents told similar tales from Tamil Nadu. About creatures with different fangs. What do you believe?”
I delve into my upbringing – my faith.
“My blood is Celtic. Chapel will never rule this soul-night – nor our bond. Spirits journey among us. Maybe the driver experienced that—”
She brushes my lips with a damp finger.
“Enough. You needn’t solve this, nor should traffic. Call this a cold case – a ghostly one.”
Does Y Ladi Wen want this unresolved? Is she leading us further?
The path branches off to the right, through a gate into the darkness of ivy-clad trees.
Hidden, we settle on the ground. No need to pretend.
Roots are our pillow. Night sounds echo. Bats flit above us.
Earth scents banish sweat and shivers. Bodies and hearts entwine again.
But my tattoos are tingling. More letters. D for Dream, C for Coach, L for Lady, and E for Eerie. My mnemonic guide. CALENDS? November First?
We will dig more.
Comments are welcome as usual, but for the WEP Challenge, the following applies:
Word Count 993: MPA
(FCA welcome – if you want to send one, just let me know in the comments.)
If you have enjoyed this tale, I am looking for beta-riders willing to read some other episodes in Sparkle Anwyl’s career.
Yn ddelfrydol siaradwr Cymraeg.