#WEP/IWSG October Challenge – The Scream

Crime never sleeps.

Well, despite destroying the original version of my October/Halloween WEP/IWSG challenge – accidentally – I managed to recall enough for another version. Only my wife read/heard the original, so might sense where this differs. We didn’t tempt fate by re-reading this version. Please note, she wasn’t the one who destroyed the earlier draft – unlike Fanny Stevenson’s response to her husband’s creation:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2000/oct/25/books.booksnews

I’m not saying my short is comparable to the famous novel, but reading this article, I see a few echoes – or maybe not.

Anyway, this 2021 Year of the Art theme continues to provoke some interesting thoughts – and tempts me down rabbit holes. One of those arose from an interesting link on the WEP site – more on that at the end.

Although this year’s posts are not another ongoing case for Sparkle Anwyl and Kama Pillai of the North Wales Police, I’ve attempted something else involving them. So, once more I’m going down the stand-alone path with my dynamic Welsh duo.

But this time, I’ve tried a change of genre – well, perhaps.

As always, 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:

https://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com

BLURB:

A detective confronts a deadly foe in the mist to save her wife from Death.

(Or for those familiar with the dynamic duo: ‘Sparkle confronts a deadly foe in the mist to save Kama from Death.)

VULPINE MIST

2016

Monday, 31st October

I jerk awake. A shriek pierces the darkness.

Relax. Just a fox howl. A vixen calling for a mate.

Wrong season as cubs now hunt alone.

The wail is almost human. A cry for help?

I turn to Kama, but she’s gone again. Only the curled indent beside me and her scent of vanilla and bergamot remain.

She must be wandering in our family home, Tyn-y-llyn, nestled in the Snowdonia mountains.

I creep downstairs, searching for Kama. I whisper her name. Only an echo from the gloom. No answer.

Call louder but I mustn’t wake the family.

But nobody stirs. My thorny rose tattoo prickles. I search every room –  no Gwawr, nor mam, nor my grandparents Gwyneth and Hywel Pugh. Nobody.

I’m alone.

A sigh from outside. “Fy ngwraig! Fy ngwraig!”.

Who’s calling ‘My wife! My wife!’ in the night? The voice sounds female. But not Kama’s sultry tones. Where is she?

Fog slithers under the front door, yet I’m drawn outside to the farm.

Tattoos jangle as the mist welcome me with cold embrace, clutching for my heart.

“Kama – where are you?” My shout recoils off the billowing barrier.

A chill as folk memories uncurl. A cyhyraeth is stalking the darkness, its disembodied wail sounding before a person’s death. Invisible but unyielding.

Who is it after?

Kama. My wife mustn’t die. I can save her.

I grope my way towards our llyn, where we swim and relax. But the pastures are overgrown with brambles. I must reach the safety of our lake.

More moaning. Closer.

“Fy ngwraig! Fy ngwraig!”

I shudder as thorns rip my skin. ‘My wife! My wife!’ is the summons of Gwrach-y-Rhibyn. The monstrous Hag of the Mist claims Kama. Never. She’s mine and I am hers – forever and eternity.

Fighting my way through the thicket, I follow the groans, now interspersed with cackles. At the stream feeding our deep waters, I confront my deathly foe.

The Hag washes her hands, polluting our pure brook. Her unkempt hair hangs around her wizened body. Withered arms widen and skeletal hands beckon. As a harpy, she hovers on leathery wings, and bares long black teeth dripping with gore. My heart pounds as I face this grim corpse of doom.

No sign of Kama. She’s safe – somewhere.

Gwrach-y-Rhibyn shimmers in the swirling mist. And morphs into a flame haired woman, beautiful with luxuriant locks falling over her revealing red dress.

A gust of wind shifts my vision. Kama is in this sensuous siren’s embrace, her head nestled between the seductress’s naked breasts. My wife moans, aroused. I’ve lost my skilful lover to this sultry temptress.

Tears well as rosy lips kiss Kama’s neck. Fangs glisten in the moonlight, dripping with blood – the life-force of my soulmate.

The vulpine shape-shifter laughs – howling as she licks her bloody mouth.

“Love and Pain”

The mist turns to dense blackness. Kama becomes a man – in the arms of a scarlet haired woman. Then everything freezes.

No sounds. No movement. I stare at the Vampire painting.

The canvas creeps towards me. Creaks and cracks – closing.

Behind, I hear a sibilant sigh, rising to a shriek.

I turn and face another painting – The Scream.

Munch’s master creations curl in on me. Trapping me. Sucking in the air, stifling me.

I scream – silently.

And wake entwined in Kama’s arms. Her lips are on my neck.

Our jackdaw trickster, Negesydd taps at the window banishing the Nos Galan Gaeaf spirits. Halloween is buried – for another year.

Sunbeams dance as we caress each other.

From our beach, the sough of the surf carries on the sea breeze, the salt scent tempting us outside to swim.

623 words FCA

I mentioned a rabbit hole, and from The Scream prompt, I was led to Edvard Munch’s Vampire painting: https://www.edvardmunch.org/vampire.jsp. Reading this gave me my climactic scene – including that last piece of suggestive dialogue, “Love and Pain”.

As for December’s Challenge – Narcissus – my mind is already pursuing that one down a burrow. Google, isn’t a daffodil – the Welsh national flower – a narcissus? Tune in next time for the answer.

Finally, for those wondering about my first Sparkle & Kama novel – Fevered Fuse – I managed to collate the feedback from my stalwart beta readers. The manuscript is now with my editor, who helped get Spiral of Hooves published.

26 thoughts on “#WEP/IWSG October Challenge – The Scream

  1. Hi, Roland. I prefer the “Love & Pain” vs “Vampire” title. Not the least salacious as far as I can see. A man finding comfort. Simple as that? But who knows the painter’s slant?
    I’m glad the trickster left them safe in each other’s arms. But what a tale! Perfect for Halloween, perfect for the Challenge too! The description was so well done. I journeyed to the lake with Sparkle, and the vision of the Hag and Siren, doubly well done. I can imagine your angst after losing all that work, but you’ve recaptured it beautifully. Thank you for working so hard to bring this to us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The title fits better, and anyway Munch used it and implied his ‘slant’ was something else. But, as you say, who knows.
      Your praise made me blush, and yes I had a mini-meltdown when I deleted the original.
      The trickster jackdaw is a re-occurring character, who aids Sparkle and Kama – the positive aspect of the trickster archetype… for them at least.

      Like

    • Thanks Debbie. I needed a bookend which mirrored the opening and was like when most of us wake from a nightmare.
      I still need to submit the edited book – the published book was the one released in 2013. Sorry, about the confusion.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Roland, I’m so pleased you soldiered on and came forth with this wonderfully spooky story, perfect for The Scream. I confess I was taken with Munch’s ‘Love and Pain’ or ‘Vampire’ painting and gazed at it. It could tell any number of stories and we’ll never really know what the artist intended. Congratulations on your publication date!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Roland – that was a tale worth remembering and letting us read; I hope it’ll remain in your armoury of stories … I love how you combine the two paintings bringing them to life and reimagining their lives into your tale. Wonderful telling … thank you – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your narrative skill was on full display here. Your descriptions were so vivid they made me shudder. A true nightmare indeed, and a thoroughly enjoyable read. Wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Apologies for not answering everyone personally.
    Although this version was recycled from memory fragments, I’m glad this version worked for you all – difficult to re-assemble, but rewarding.
    Munch’s ‘Love and Pain’ worked with ‘The Scream’ in my mind. As for the title, yes, we’ll never know what he intended, but we can speculate,
    As for the structure, I went for bookends – the end mirroring the opening. Most dreams and nightmares tend to be a mix of elements from our daily lives, churned up with hopes, desires, and fears.
    I’d like to believe when most of us wake from a nightmare, the ending is relief or better. Although, the return to reality can be a disappointment – like I walk in dreams – and run in nightmares – but wake in a wheelchair. Some days, reality is the nightmare – for too many people.
    Finally, sorry about the confusion over Fevered Fuse. I still need to submit the edited manuscript – after I revise it in December. The published book was Spiral of Hooves released in 2013 – paperback version in 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: #IWSG – Blurb Blitz | Writing Wings

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