It’s Tuesday, so it must be time for another short story inspired by the Benedict Cumberbatch name generator. In case you’re new to this idea, B. Cumberbatch (actor) has a silly name that inspired someone to devise a generator to create similarly silly names, and I thought I would use it to spark some story ideas. I’m posting them here in lieu of any more interesting or relevant content, for you to peruse or ignore at your discretion. First I told you of Timothy Clavichord, and last week it was Syphilis Crumplehorn. Today you can read about the unfortunate Wimbledon Commonwealth.
‘I thought the style was skinny jeans, darling? You won’t get any compliments on your pins in those old things.’
Wimbledon Commonwealth fixed her mother with her most withering eye roll.
‘Can I borrow them or not?’
Mrs Commonwealth sighed and thought, not for the first time, that she would never understand her daughter. She was probably switched at the hospital by a nurse with a grudge, as was so common in the soap operas. What self respecting 15-year-old girl wants to wear bright green flares to school?
‘Of course you can, sweetness,’ she trilled, wafting away in a cloud of perfume and tinkling bracelets. Prolonging the conversation would only bring on a migraine.
Wimbledon pulled on the trousers with a feeling of satisfaction. These trousers were going to be the talk of the school – give it a week and everyone would be trying to emulate her.
She left the house without eating breakfast, as was her wont. Her best friend Trudy was always telling her off for this habit, piously pronouncing that it was the most important meal of the day, but Wimbledon hated breakfast foods passionately and indiscriminately. Wheats and brans and fruits and fried stuff – bleurgh. The fact it was a completely redundant meal was just about the only thing she and her mother agreed on.
She slammed the door so her mother would know she was gone, and launched herself into the crisp morning sun. Autumn had struck overnight, and the pavement by the house was littered with conkers and squirrels and other detritus. Wimbledon took a few moments to enjoy the golden tint spreading across the foliage – not too long, in case anyone was watching – then she set off at a brisk pace, flares flapping widely around her ankles.
The walk to school took her to the end of the road and across the local common. This early in the morning it was generally filled with dog walkers and joggers, but today she found it strangely empty. As she veered off the path and onto the grass, a grasping finger of wind stole the end of her scarf and sent it spiralling up above her head, a whirl of black and silver. She grabbed it back down and wound it more tightly around her neck, stuffing her hands in her pockets and squaring her shoulders. No element was going to get the better of her!
Then, without so much as a by your leave, a gust of wind snaked around her ankles and crept under the hems of the flares. It wrapped around her shins and inflated both trouser legs so much that Wimbledon was raised up into the air. She instinctively pulled her hands out of her pockets and stuck her arms out for balance, but this only served to make her more aerodynamic and before she knew what was happening she found herself a hundred feet in the air and still ascending.
‘Hurgh,’ Wimbledon Commonwealth whispered in shock.
‘Quark,’ replied a passing goose, who was similarly surprised.
‘Screw this,’ said Wimbledon Commonwealth, who wasn’t especially fond of heights, ‘I’ve got to get to school.’
She kicked her legs out, trying to lower resistance – but the motion only inflated the trousers further.
She pressed her outstretched arms down against the current, but the wind thought she was flapping and raised her higher still.
She tried to maneuvre herself into a diving position, head pointing earthward, but rather than allowing her to plummet down the wind held her safe, stretching her out flat and carrying her on in a smooth glide.
‘Bumsticks,’ said Wimbledon Commonwealth. She had no idea how she was going to get down. Maybe she should have worn the skinny jeans after all.
The wind blew Wimbledon over her school, where she could see Trudy waiting, banana in hand, preparing to give the breakfast lecture once again.
The wind blew her over the office block where her mother worked part time as a holistic interior designer. Wimbledon heard the barest twangle of wind chimes on the company’s executive balcony, which meant her mother’s secretary, Bryan, had opened for the day. He had a much stronger work ethic than his employer.
The wind blew her over the tower blocks surrounding the scheme where she was never to go, ‘that’s where the poor people live darling, you wouldn’t like it,‘ and over the cemetery where Grandma Bowen lived, and finally it blew her over the hills and far away.
Eventually the wind blew itself out completely, and dropped her unceremoniously on a hillside dotted with heather. Wimbledon Commonwealth put her hands back in her pockets, for by this time they were blue with cold, and looked around.
There wasn’t a huge amount to see. Wimbledon suspected this was what the authors refer to in literature as a ‘blasted heath’, for it seemed to have been comprehensively flattened on all sides – and there were no buildings, trees, shrubs or other scenery to speak of.
‘What now?’ Wimbledon wondered.
‘Now, we dance!’
Wimbledon whirled around, ‘who said that?’
‘I did,’ whispered a voice in her ear. It was strange and sinister and sent a prickle of electricity down her back.
She turned, but there was nobody there –or was there? As she squinted at the space where her ear had just been, she thought she could discern a shimmer in the air. Wimbledon focused all her attention on that spot, and traces of a translucent face began to appear. It looked oddly familiar, although she couldn’t say why.
‘Come now, daughter,’ said the face in the wind, ‘dance with your mother dear.’
‘You’re not my mummy,’ Wimbledon said, but the words felt furry on her tongue and her stomach swelled with the sinking feeling that generally accompanied her bigger lies.
‘Oh yes I am, changeling child,’ the lady in the wind laughed mirthlessly. ’We had our fun with your human sister, but she’s all used up. Now it’s time for you to come home.’
Wimbledon did not like the sound of that, but she swallowed her fear and faced the creature bravely. ‘What do you mean, all used up?’
‘She blew herself out bringing you here,’ the creature said with a smile in its voice. ‘One last sacrifice for the adopted family who loved her so much.’
Wimbledon edged backwards, steeling herself to make a run for it, but as she did so she felt an icy touch on her elbow. She looked down, and was shocked to see that her arm had faded around the edges. She could see the blasted heath beneath it, as though it was no more than a trick of the light. The effect was rapidly spreading.
‘What-?’ she began, but there was no time for anything further. Within moments there was nothing left of Wimbledon Commonwealth or her impressive green flares but the merest shimmer of movement in the air.
Far away, on the empty common by Wimbledon’s house, a lone dog walker thought he heard an echoing laugh – then realised that was impossible, there was nobody out but him.
He shivered, winding the black and silver scarf his daughter had made closer around his neck.
‘Must’ve been the wind,’ he said.