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:
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:
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.)
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.
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.