#WEP – Write…Edit…Publish – OCTOBER CHALLENGE – DEJA VU OR VOODOO

October-WEP

 

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.

 

WEP_IWSG

 

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.

 

White Lady

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.

Voodoo lady
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.)

critique badge1

Visit other participants at https://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2018/10/welcome-to-wepff-writeeditpublish.html

 

POSTSCRIPT:

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.

 

56 thoughts on “#WEP – Write…Edit…Publish – OCTOBER CHALLENGE – DEJA VU OR VOODOO

  1. If folks avoid churchyards, stiles, and crossroads, during the Nos Calan Gaeaf rites because the spirits are thought to gather there. These two must have been looking for proof that they exist. Did this accident give it to them or are they still skeptics. Me, I’m totally convinced and you won’t find me in such a place rites or no rites! Great story and one very familiar during October! Like an Urban Legend told in many different ways. I’ve seen the woman in white and I avoid graveyards because of it!
    Thanks for the great entry!
    Happy Halloween!

    Liked by 1 person

    • For some Welsh people, the Nos Calan Gaeaf rites are similar to Samhain celebrations in Ireland and other places. I’m not sure if either Sparkle or Kama are sceptics, more attempting to balance a road traffic incident with what they feel. I suspect that the December story – Part II of this – will reveal more. And those standing stones exist – I’ve driven past them a few times – and they are modern, erected for an Eisteddfod. Calan Gaeaf Hapus.

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  2. Some mythical creatures are entirely too wicked and vengeful for my taste. They torture not the ones who deserve it but the ones who are susceptible. The weak. The ones who believe. If those mythological deities punished the bad and rewarded the good instead, this world would’ve been a much better place.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had to research some of the words you used, just to get some background. I love learning lore and rituals of different cultures. And I like how your characters reacted to the stories possibly being true. Who knows what’s real and what isn’t… Very cool post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope that the research was out of interest, Tanya and not because my words didn’t work in context. I was aiming for a Welsh Halloween setting without leaving the MC’s head. I suspect that my characters are willing to believe – especially when they find more evidence in December. Calan Gaeaf Hapus.

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  4. Hi Roland.Loved this creepy tale with to me aspects of Overlander. The standing stones fascinate me. I am enjoying learning this story by snippets but it does take some concentration. I think you segued in the elements of Welsh language well. Too much can be tedious to read, but I think it is just right. I love learning myths and legends which are often similar in different culture.
    Looking forward to your December entry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Standing stones always fascinate me, Denise. I kept wondering about the ones pictured when we lived near there. Although they were built for a modern Eisteddfod in 1987, they were in a perfect location for this tale. Calan Gaeaf Hapus.

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    • The coachman was in the car driver’s dream and driving the coach that hit the woman – back in time. I plan to unearth more in December. I note on your website, Kalpana that you might be in Delhi. So, does my Tamil detective fit – even if she grew up in South Wales? Calan Gaeaf Hapus.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The Nos Calan Gaeaf rites have always fascinated me. Olga and I agree: some vengeful spirits seem intent on cruelty to those within their reach not to those who deserve it. Yet, I think that evil opens the door to the Other Side whose inhabitants care little about justice only gleeful venting of pent-up fury. I am currently writing a Christmas ghost story with that theme Love this entry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and Olga are right to beware of those vengeful spirits from the other side – and I am exploring that more in the sequel. But from a shamanic perspective, not all those Other Side spirits are evil – some are powers for good when the Veil between our worlds is opened. Calan Gaeaf Hapus.

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  6. Hi Roland – the Celtic myths being wound into troubling tales of the modern road – while they can sleep for another month amongst the trees. I learnt a few things too – I’m not at all aware of the different customs … so I’ve learnt a few here. Fascinating tale – thank you … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Creepy and atmospheric! The woman in white exists in some form or other in so many places around the world. I’m personally fascinated by cultural parallels. A great Halloween flash.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the positive thoughts. This is meant to be the start of a short, Michael, although there will be the second half in December. However, there are linked stories and I am planning to compile them for NaNoWriMo. Calan Gaeaf Hapus.

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  8. An intriguing tale! I definitely want to know more about these characters… I see that this is part of something on-going, so I’ll root around a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you were intrigued, Rebecca. My first WEP entry in August, Change of Heart was the same protagonist – as I say in my intro. There is more info if you follow the Snowdon Shadows link. But, I’m working on a linked series of shorts that are my NaNoWriMo attempt next month. So, for now, there are just hints and clues to tempt my followers as the plots evolve.

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  9. Sure set the atmosphere from the get go and enjoyed the quick pace. Always enjoy legends mixed in, even though it seems they always go after the easy to manipulate folks and let the bad win. Dirty buggers haha

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I was immediately drawn into the story, Roland, despite not knowing any urban legends or anticipating what the tale was about. It stands nicely on itself, but I have the desire to learn more, about the relationship of the main characters and about the white lady. I like the short sentences as well, which pick up the pace.

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