It's a simple tale of boy meets ogre.
The sun shone brightly in the sky, as it did every day because that's what a sun does, it shines. The few clouds skipped happily across the endless blue sky. Nestled between two hills bathed in the afternoon sun, the town was one long street flanked by cobbled pavements and shops of all kinds.
Young Matty Wormbottom was on his way to the town’s baker shop to collect bread for his Mother. He ran open mouthed through the streets of Wallham.
Folk of the town rolled their eyes as Matty raced down the street. With a hop, skip and a thump he tumbled like a fallen tree head first into the baker shop, nearly knocking old Mrs Faffle off her feet. She smiled a kindly smile and then without warning she raised her cane and brought it to rest upon Matty's head with a thudding sound.
"You silly, silly boy, " she growled. " You really are a clumsy oaf". With that she shuffled out of the door, whistling as she went.
Matty climbed to his feet and stood staring at all the delicious cakes and buns sitting in neat rows behind the glass cabinets. Mr Granary was a kind old soul who wore a permanent smile. He danced up and down the aisles placing various items into a large brown bag, whistling as he did so. He looked again at Matty and winked, selecting a cream bun and placing it in the bag.
"Your Mother won't mind," he said, smiling.
Matty took the bag and placed the money on the counter. He turned on his heels and ran out of the store and into the street as fast as he could.
Outside, Matty came to an abrupt stop. The town folk were hurrying indoors with looks of fear etched on their faces. The last door slammed shut and the streets were now deserted. Matty stood, alone.
"Hello?" Matty asked.
Nobody answered, not even a curtain was twitched, which was very unusual because Miss Greenback was considered the nosiest person for miles around. Matty smiled and carried on his merry way.
He had just about reached the edge of town when the ground beneath him trembled like jelly.
"What have you got in that bag?" a low rumbly voice asked.
Matty turned and beheld a horrid sight. Standing eight feet tall with bright green hair, pale blue skin and arms the size of a small tree stood the Womblecheep. It had the permanent demeanour of a lady who cannot find her favourite shoes and a temper as quick as lightning. Its raggedy clothes hung off its huge frame.
A few brave townsfolk peered from cracks in doors and gaps in walls; they had long feared the Womblecheep.
Matty looked up.
The Womblecheep glared at Matty.
“I said, what’s in the bag?" it growled.
Matty didn't much appreciate this question. "It's bread and rolls and it's for my Mother."
"That’ll do nicely that will, now hand it over boy, I'm hungry."
Matty stood unmoved. "No," he once again snapped.
The Womblecheep wasn't expecting this, he was not accustomed to people saying no to him, he much preferred people to run in fear and dive into hedgerows headfirst. This was most odd.
Matty tutted. "You’re not getting these rolls and that’s that."
The Womblecheep did not look amused. He snarled and reached for the brown bag, but Matty slapped his hand away.
The creature winced and shook his hand to relieve the sting, His face now as red as a post box, anger bubbling inside him.
Matty shook his head. “ You can’t have it."
The Womblecheep let out a deafening roar, waving his hands in the air, fists clenched in rage.
Matty stood, bearing the expression of somebody who was not impressed. He was either very, very brave, or incredibly stupid.
“You can’t have it, I told you," Matty instructed, smiling. Matty paused for a moment. “I’ll tell you what, if you can catch me, you can have it."
The Womblecheep roared with laughter.
“Alright then," he agreed.
“And if you can’t catch me, you’re never allowed in Wallham again, agreed?" Matty added.
The Womblecheep grumbled.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah," it dismissed.
Matty turned and started to run. Matty was out of town before the Womblecheep reacted with his first thundering step, then another until he managed to gain some momentum and give chase.
Matty ran out of town and over the old stone bridge. He climbed through the abandoned barn in the lush green meadows and headed for the hills. The Womblecheep thundered over the old bridge and smashed through the barn sending bricks flying into the air.
Matty climbed as fast as he could. The town below shrunk as he climbed higher and higher, finally reaching the top.
The Womblecheep was right behind him.
Matty, now stood atop the hill, whooped and sang a rather annoying song.
“Are you ready Mr Womblecheep?” he cried.
With that, he lay on the ground and began to roll down the hill, heading straight for the Womblecheep. The creature stood frozen and somewhat surprised as Matty rolled at great speed between his legs.
Matty was almost at the barn as he managed to get to his feet and compose himself. Above him, the Womblecheep tentatively gave chase.
“I’m coming boy, and I’m ‘ungry,” it yelled.
But being eight foot tall and weighing the same as an elephant, running downhill wasn’t easy. He carefully placed one foot in front of the other.
Such was the slope, and such was the Womblecheep’s weight that his feet gave way and he began to tumble down the hill, steady at first, but quickly gaining speed like a bowling ball.
Matty ran over the bridge and watched from the bank as the Womblecheep smashed through the barn again. The Womblecheep rolled up the short slope on the bank and flew into the air.
He waved his arms frantically screaming as he did. With an almighty splash, he landed in the river.
Matty stood at the bank and looked on. Town folk had now come out from hiding to see what the fuss was about. They couldn’t believe their eyes.
In the middle of the river, the water bubbled as the Womblecheep’s head broke the surface. He frantically thrashed his arms in the water.
“I can’t swim, I can’t swim,” cried the creature. “Please help me.”
Folk gathered at the bank, pointing and laughing.
“Silly Womblecheep, not so brave now, are you?” a little pigtailed girl shouted.
The Womblecheep had only just managed to make it to a tiny rocky island in the middle of the river. He sat atop, wet and miserable.
More folk gathered and laughing, they threw rotten apples at him. Some even made up daft songs.
As the hours passed the crowd dispersed and went home, leaving the Womblecheep all alone on his rock.
Days and weeks passed. People would often sit and stare at the monster in the middle. People would call him names; little children would sing daft songs;
‘The big bad bogey man he can’t scare and shock’
‘The big bad bogey man, he’s stuck on a rock.’
This made the Womblecheep very unhappy. He’d never felt so alone.
One sunny afternoon, a slightly skinnier and rather hungry Womblecheep was surprised to see Matty stood at the bank of the river. Matty had made a crude raft from the remains of the barn. He dropped it into the river and carefully climbed aboard.
Within minutes Matty and his makeshift raft were just feet away from the Womblecheep’s rock.
“Hello,” matty said quietly.
The Womblecheep offered a weak smile.
“Do you remember our deal?” Matty inquired.
The Womblecheep nodded slowly.
“I do,” he replied solemnly.
“Are you going to behave now?” Matty asked.
“Yes, yes I will,” the Womblecheep declared, spying the gathering crowd.
“Good." He pointed at the raft. “That’s for you." And with that Matty dived into the river and swam to the bank.
The Womblecheep lowered himself on to the raft and floated to the bank. The crowd had now swollen. All eyes fixed on the Womblecheep.
The Womblecheep stood on the bank, a hundred pairs of eyes watching him. Matty, now wrapped in a blanket, nudged him.
“Well, go on," he said.
The Womblecheep made his apologies. He apologised to Mr Poots for eating one of his bicycles. He said sorry to Bobby Clarke for hiding his girlfriend in a tree. The town’s folk moaned and groaned, but accepted his apology. Matty became a hero and the Womblecheep gave up his horrid ways and proved to be quite useful in the town.
He and Matty became best friends and the town grew to love the Womblecheep, Eventually.
The town of Wallham may not be renowned for much, but how many towns can say they have their very own Wombclecheep?
(c) Jason Moody