#WEP/IWSG August Challenge – Long Shadow

Crime never sleeps.

Apologies for the delay in posting this latest entry in the WEP/IWSG Challenge. As some of you know I’ve been ill and unable to write for some days.

However, in July I found bits of time to devise more Sparkle Anwyl mind games so the six-part story called ‘Custody Chain’ could continue. This episode is too long by 100 words – and unpolished – as my mind is not yet working at full deviousness.

For those that wondered, the revision of my first Sparkle Anwyl novel, Fevered Fuse progresses in sporadic spurts too – more like a stoppage now.

If you missed the first three parts of the story, or would like to refresh your memory, here are the links:

Chapter One – Café Terrace: https://rolandclarke.com/2020/02/19/wep-iwsg-february-challenge-cafe-terrace/

Chapter Two – Masterpiece: https://rolandclarke.com/2020/04/15/wep-iwsg-april-challenge-antique-vase/

Chapter Three – Cryptograph: https://rolandclarke.com/2020/06/17/wep-iwsg-june-challenge-urban-nightmare/

Please note there may be minor oversights/errors/omissions which editing of the final story into a novella will address. Writing new chapters throws up new clues to fathom.

Anyway, enjoy this new chapter, and if you wish, please comment, or suggest what happens next. Many thanks for reading.

Apologies if I’m slow to respond or slow to visit your posts.

Plus, ensure you visit all the other writers in this challenge via: 





Tuesday, March 18th

A raven conspiracy croaks from the depths of the wood. Trees scatter the setting sun, throwing shadows on the barn in Llanystumdwy.

My throbbing tattoos warn we’re not alone, but there’s nothing visible as I press the button beside the yellow door. As before the oscillating buzz echoes inside.

Cautious footsteps.

The door camera lights up, so we show our identity.

The female Police Community Support Officer assigned to assist and protect Tesni Szarka lets us inside.

She turns and smiles at her charge, adding some deft hand movements. “Mr Cadwallader is home.” A PCSO who knows sign language is a bonus.

Tesni throws her arms around her father. Tears streak her cheeks.

“I worry. Miss you.” She smiles as she signs. “Family matters. I love you.”

He holds her face in his hands. His mouth echoes his gestured response.

“You know I love you. You sensed our relationship. You are talented. Special. My ‘warmth from the sun’.

 As she leads Urien into her home, I turn to the PCSO. Cute 5 foot brunette – about eighteen. Sparkling eyes.

“I’m PCSO Dace. Pleased to be assigned to such a case. Miss Szarka is an amazing lady. And, please call me Lleilu.” I beam at her enthusiasm – as does Kama.

“Any sign of trouble?” My partner’s senses are heightened too.

“Nothing around this home.” She pauses, then points towards the wood beyond the picture window in the main space.

Kama nods towards Urien’s walled retreat, hidden in the trees.

“Our uniform colleagues watching his house have detected someone?”

“On the security system. A prowler—”

“—the attacker has unfinished business.” My tattoos twitch. I tap out M for Mistakes. “We need to learn more about Urien Cadwallader’s actions in Hungary.” The ones he was reluctant to share on the drive from Bangor.

We head into the main space with its exposed beams, ethnic furniture, and hung with Tesni’s masterpieces. All with the crow sigil.

The familiar smell of paint, varnish and coffee percolate the air. Workspace and sanctuary.

Through the central window, the dying glimmer of the sun is yielding to the starry night.

On an easel is Café Terrace at Night. But the stolen replica of Van Gogh’s masterpiece is in police custody – where we secured it.

Tesni notices us as she sips her coffee, brow furrowed. She points at the painting.

“Painted for Urien. So I insist return. Safer here. We protect. Together you promise.” Her riveting eyes and emphatic gestures are hard to resist. “Lleilu arranges.”

“I’m sorry, detectives. But Tesni persuaded me to ask DCI Baines if the artwork could be here. It arrived just before you two. With the message: ‘Draw’. Does that mean anything?”

My eyes lock with Kama’s. We nod and she leads me aside.

“Draw out the truth.”

“And the intruder.” My tattoos are thrumming and a mnemonic is forming in my head. “We need a plan.”

MAP. M for Mistakes. A for Artwork. P for Plan.

“When Tesni tackled the thief – she was at Urien’s. The figure in black and masked is still around. That’s who triggered the re-activated security system at the scene.”

“And now Urien’s here, along with the painting, he’s in danger as is Tesni. The assailant will realise who she is. They’re the draw – the bait. My cryptograph-mind suggested MAP – as in the layout between the houses.”

“And the intruder has probably reconnoitred most of that area, even if he was unaware who lived here. But now she or he does and has had time to plan his move – once we’ve left.”


We leave the barn by flashlight, and drive away in our unmarked police car.

I kill the headlights, then park off the road.

“Nothing on either security system.” Kama taps her Smartphone to confirm. “Let’s stealth back to the barn.”

“Glad we prefer wearing black – even if our biker leathers would’ve been even better for crawling around.”

We slip into the wood and sneak back to the barn.  A drystone wall screens us as we watch the only two entrances.

A shadow separates from the invasive rhododendron bushes. A masked figure in black who points a device at the house.

“He’s disabling the security system.” Kama pulls out her phone. “Confirmed. But the shutoff will have alerted uniform at Urien’s house.”

“But we need to follow him inside.”

Kama unfastens her plaited snake head belt as we slip through the open front door.

Dark and silent. Tesni’s territory.

The intruder is framed against the window, caught by the starlight as he slips towards the Café Terrace at Night painting.

Three torches blind him, but he pulls out a gun and fires into the glare.

A belt whips around the gun before he can fire again. I rugby tackle the figure and my choke-hold restrains him.

Urien strides over and pulls off the black mask.

“Tűzvirág? Why? Your brother sent you. Didn’t he?”

“Who did you expect? Barangó is too stupid to deal with you directly.”

Urien looks from the handcuffed woman to us, then motions to a couch,

“You need to know more – my secrets have found me.”

We all sit – the subdued intruder between Kama and me.”

My partner poses the questions. “Hungary? This woman is…a relation?”

“My wife, Csilla was. Her sister, Aranka is married to Barangó Fekete. He’s a profiteering thug who has made crime lucrative – and legal. Or so he believes.”

“My brother is a businessman, respected in Hungary and beyond. You owe him – for everything.”

Urien’s face darkens. “It was a grave mistake to trust him when I needed to save Csilla. How many times must I pay? What does your jealous brother want now? Not my daughter, please.”

“That’s the new price – now we know she exists. Her forgeries will help my brother’s international enterprises thrive. Never forget your past has cast this long shadow over everything. Not Barangó’s devoted and loyal comrades.”

Hungarian policemen stand at the border crossing between Hungary and Croatia – http://www.express.co.uk


Word Count 1,104: FCA

Comments are welcome as usual, and the following applies:


First, congratulations to all the writer winners of the WEP/IWSG Long Shadow Challenge. I admit that for once I read no entries, but the intent is now there, along with the impetus as the writing has proved high-quality ever since I discovered this Challenge.

Full details of the Winners can be found here:


Second my thanks to the WEP/IWSG Challenge team for awarding me the Extraordinary Encouragement Award – an honour which feels undeserved as many of us cope with difficult circumstances. For instance, I have at least two writer colleagues struggling with the same MonSter condition as I do – as the supportive comments below show.

This was totally unexpected as I felt posting an edit of something already drafted was not impossible – the skeleton was there. And the posted episode was over the limit.

However, I am still grateful – and will try harder next time to produce a polished entry.

56 thoughts on “#WEP/IWSG August Challenge – Long Shadow

  1. Roland, you’re a wonder! Your determination is inspirational! I hope you haven’t taxed yourself too much getting this chapter ready for the WEP challenge. I think it’s one of the best yet. Of course once it’s done, you’ll draw it all together.

    I loved seeing van Gogh’s painting – Cafe Terrace at NIght make an appearance, and toward the end, ‘grave mistake’ foreshadowing the next WEP challenge. So well done.

    I wish you all the best, Roland. Be well. Thanks for the mammoth effort it must have taken to get this done for the challenge. I’m sure everyone familiar with your story will be pleased to have another episode.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks, Denise. If I hadn’t done a first draft earlier, this might have been more of a struggle. I felt the painting had to remain central to the case – and sneaking ‘grave mistake’ was hard to resist – an all the ‘shadow’ allusions like ‘umbrage’.


  2. Hello! I’m glad you were able to post! You did a great job with this chapter. The intrigue and tension keeps on building. The past does indeed cast a long shadow. I can’t wait to read what happens next!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Roland, echoing Denise.
    I am thrilled to see this post and hope it hasn’t run your precious resources dry.
    And yes, I agree this is one your best installments to date, and I am really, really looking forward to reading the whole (in the fullness of time).
    Look after yourself. Please. I know a little of how much it has cost you to post, and that the recovery will not be a matter of resting for a day or so.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello, Roland, this is Mary Louise in Harlech, I read Writing Wings with interest and amazement when it arrives, what a fertile imagination you have! Would you please tell Juanita hello for me, and tell her that Jackie, the newest resident of your house in Pant Mawr, knows the history of the memory rose in the garden, for Juanita’s daughter, cherishes the rose, and has plans to move it.  The rose is very tall now and being assaulted by the winds, which we have had this summer continuously, it seems, so Jackie wants it in a more protected position.   Your cats, Willow and Kefira, have been in their new home for a year and 4 months now, they are very, very happy there.  Willow goes outside in their garden and Kefira is starting very tentatively to venture out.  I will send you some pictures of them.  My very best wishes to both of you, Mary Louise

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mary Louise. Wonderful to hear from you – and with so much news. Juanita is thrilled to hear Jackie is cherishing the Joseph Coat rose of remembrance. So glad the cats are settling in their new home. Quetzal and Treeky are thriving. How are you?

      As this post states, I’m recovering from an MS attack but nothing can stop my thoughts. As you can tell, North Wales is still close to us – hence my Welsh detectives. Glad you found this site.


  5. I really like how this whole series is developing! I also liked the allusion to starry night cleverly inserted in the flash. I’m sorry that you’ve been unwell and hope you feel yourself soonest. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry to hear you’re still not feeling well, but glad you were able to submit this month. I hope it didn’t take too much out of you. I love where the story is going. I think I’m sensing a slight change in Sparkle’s use or approach to her mnemonics. In any case, it works well. I like how you brought back elements from previous prompts and subtly introduce the next one. This story is complex and involved and I am, as ever, enthralled. Looking forward to more.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful opening line, raven conspiracy croaks. Brave transcribing sound language dialogue, really adds to atmosphere. As usual, I tend to get lost in the plot and dialogue and would like more descriptive passages … but that’ s only me. The full novella will no doubt address that issue. Hoping you are feeling a bit better and can make progress on your works in creation soon. All the best. Susan. Any word from Welsh friends ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had fun crafting that opening, Susan. Playing with words, sounds, and images. Sadly, I find the word count restricts how much I can balance the elements like the description and plot when this feels like a novella. Not sure if your friends got back as not checked for a week.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Roland,
    i hope you are feeling much better and getting your strength back. As always, I looked for your post the first day we went live for publishing on the WEP and also the second day and did not see a story from you. I didn’t know you had been sick. Take care of yourself. I admire your motivation to write even though nolt feeling your best. Soimetimes we have to do that.
    I like how your Sparkle Anwyl stories are progressing. They are engaging and so far each one has drawn my attention.
    Wishing you all the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love your continuing story and how you weaved each of the challenges prompts so neatly through the story and continue to do so in the new installments. I enjoy your characters and the lovely artwork that goes along with it. I’ve been watching Professor T on PBS and love it. Your Sparkle Anwyl stories would be a lovely addition to that Mystery series, so keep producing and I’ll keep on being a fan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Praise indeed, Yolanda – to have Sparkle compared to a successful TV detective. Not watched the series yet, as watching the Canadian series The Murdoch Mysteries – with another inventive detective.


  10. The thrill stands tightrope. I am, as usual, looking for more.
    I am really inspired by your endeavor for writing and posting this chapter. You have won over your ailments and wrote quite strong.
    Stay safe.
    Wish you all the health of the universe.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Roland – well done for getting through the ‘dampening of your spirits’ – I hope your health improves … take care and all the best with that/them. I’m getting to grips with your story idea – the mnemonics, the reminder about the painting and its duplicate, as too the next prompt … well done – I have trouble just writing something appropriate. I hope your long shadows disappear and you have your health returning soon … take care – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I was looking for this next episode, so am happy to see that you snuck in at the last. And, as always, the story does not disappoint. Another twist, and the tension builds. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Also, umbrage is a favourite-of-all-time word!
    On a personal note, I hope you’re feeling better. I noticed in one comment, you said it’s MS. As a fellow MS’er, I know that the road to better is windy, but I hope you’re on your way! Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Roland
    So sorry I missed your post earlier. It wasn’t there when I last checked. So got pretty late. I am already in awe of your imagination. This series is going really well. And the best part is you’re already on the grave mistake. That was clever. I really liked that bit and am waiting eagerly for the next part now.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Congratulations Roland. I’m sorry had no idea about your personal struggle with your health. It’s so commendable of you to have come up with an awesome entry despite all odds. Wish you a speedy recovery and good health always.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Congratulations Roland … and I’m so pleased you’ve been acknowledged for participating, bearing i mind your struggles – I hope you’re feeling easier … take care and with thoughts – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: #IWSG – Beta Author-Author? | Writing Wings

  17. Well done on getting the story out there, even if you feel like it needs more polish (going a few words over the max seems no crime to me 🙂 ) . I like how it’s developing, and I think you are finding your way to make the mnemonics work well, so keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pleased the mnemonics seem to work better from one of my star beta reader’s perspective. I keep hoping and praying for you – and send you encouragement at all times. Stay safe, sensible, and inspired, Rebecca.


  18. Pingback: #WEP/IWSG October Challenge – Grave Mistake | Writing Wings

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