AND THE LITTLE STINKERS
Copyright Michelle Dry
For Tamsin who endured endless pong-versations at work
For Debbie who accompanied me on some seriously stinky research
For Lynda who is forced to pong-proof
For my endlessly enduring dad, who essentially had to sketch-a-stench
Thank you all!
DING-DONG-OOOO-WHAT A PONG
‘What an absolute pong!’ cried Tingle and Josh’s mum when she stepped into the hallway. Her nose wrinkled as she began to cough at the musty monstrosity. Her usual cosy calm collapsed and her perfectly arranged blonde bob was disrupted as she swished her hand through the air.
‘Wasn’t me,’ called Josh, peering out of the lounge. The five year old, with a waft of gravity-defying blonde hair, was hit by the pong too and frowned. He urgently covered his nose with his sleeve.
‘It definitely wasn’t me,’ said Tingle standing behind Josh. She had just turned eight and the awful stench hit her and made her eyes water. She desperately covered her nose with her jumper, scooped her large dark curls into the hood of her pink top and covered her head.
A moment later John – Tingle and Josh’s father, walked out of the kitchen and into the hallway. He was a sturdy man with dark hair, a thick beard and kind blue eyes. Something quite unexpected caused his nostrils to twitch so he paused, frowned and then retched. ‘What on earth is that? What a stink!’ he cried.
Dianne, Tingle and Josh glared at John with accusing eyes.
‘What?’ he asked innocently. ‘Oh nooo… That stink monster wasn’t me!’
‘Bring!’ went the doorbell. The family glanced at each other guiltily as they peered through the window. Auntie Joanna bounced around with excitement on the door step. Something thrilling was clearly going on.
They opened the door and…
‘Guess what?’ she said trailing off and covering her nose. Her lips pursed and her face strained as the stink invaded her nostrils. ‘Goodness what is that dastardly pong? It smells like doom, even worse than doom! It smells like doom combined with rotten sprouts and a dog blow off!’ she cried. She waved her hands dramatically in the air, grabbed some tissue from her pocket and shoved some up each nostril.
‘It wasn’t me,’ said Josh from behind his arm covering his nose.
‘Nor me’, said Tingle through her top.
‘I don’t have capacity to make such a pong,’ said Dianne as she crossed her arms and glanced sideways at her husband, as if he was clearly the guilty party.
All eyes were on John.
‘No! Now before I get the blame… you were all here first and I walked into it. I don’t have such skills to launch a stink ahead of me!’
He did have a point.
Auntie Joanna glanced about the hallway and noticed some faint marks on the windowsill. There were also a couple of smeared hand prints on the window pane. She then crouched down and studied the skirting board. There were some extra clues in the dust.
‘Hmmm,’ she said thoughtfully. She glanced up at the orchid on the windowsill. ‘Surely not…’ she said mysteriously. She removed the tissue from her nose and sniffed the wall.
‘What are you doing?’ asked Tingle looking very confused. It wasn’t often that you saw your auntie dragging her nose along a wall.
‘Are you pretending to be a dog?’ Josh asked curiously.
Tingle’s mum and dad glanced at each other, Auntie Joanna was quite renowned for doing odd things but smelling walls was a new one on them.
‘Erm Jo, what are you actually doing?’ Dianne asked watching Auntie Joanna skim her nose down the wall and make loud snuffling noises while methodically tapping the wall.
‘Stink detection,’ Auntie Joanna said as she inhaled deeply all around the orchid.
‘What’s that?’ asked Josh.
‘It’s when you discover a stinky crime and search for clues to reveal the culprit or the source,’ she replied. She made her way to the corner of the hallway; sniffed the corner and all along the door frame. Auntie Joanna traced her hand along the wall where all the coats were hung up. There were a few pairs of shoes against the wall, so bent over and inhaled again. ‘They are not terribly pleasant,’ she said, ‘but none of them are the source of that awful smell.’
‘Are you a stink detective?’ asked Tingle with a smile. She liked the thought of a specialist police person going to places to solve the origin of a stink.
‘You could say that.’ Auntie Joanna crouched down and then crawled along the floor. ‘I have found a track,’ she said. She continued on all fours towards the bathroom. ‘It hasn’t originated from the toilet because the smell decreases there.’ She turned back and crawled towards the front door. ‘Ahhhh they were clever,’ she said inhaling around the front door and all the walls beside it. ‘They made a stink decoy.’
‘They?’ John looked horrified as Auntie Joanna sniffed the set of drawers beneath the hall mirror and then dragged her nose along the wall once more. Wall sniffing wasn’t normal behaviour.
‘Auntie Joanna I have never seen a lady sniff walls,’ said Josh incredulously. ‘Actually you are smelling everything!’
‘Darling one has to do what one has to do to locate the origin of a wayward whiff. Now the Little Stinkers are clever. They like their suspect stinks to have a sense of mystery about them. That entertains them. Of course there are times when they are in a hurry and will create a pong and go… so there is usually a trail. In this case I am trying to determine the origin… It is very faint and needs a lot of focus.’
The family shuffled awkwardly.
‘Little Stinkers?’ John muttered. ‘Please tell me that they aren’t like the Splishy Sploshies?’
‘Or the Little Mischiefs?’ asked Tingle.
‘Or like the giants?’ asked Josh, he sounded excited.
‘Oh these species of Little Stinkers are a special group of their own. They have quite a few stinky varieties. I am surprised they managed to escape. That is, if they are truly the origin of the smell.’ Auntie Joanna replied. ‘Hmmm and why would they come here of all places?’ she said thoughtfully and stood for a moment. With a loud sigh she then sniffed the letter box, opened the front-door, and glanced up at the guttering. ‘Possible?’ she muttered and then walked towards the drain at the end of the garden path.
The family stood in the doorway and watched as Auntie Joanna checked no one was looking, crouched, sniffed the drain and snuffled along the drive. ‘I think we have the origin,’ she said as she sat up and took a deep breath. She then dropped down onto all fours again and sniffed all along the flower bed. She lifted some leaves to reveal some very faint tiny footprints. ‘Ahhh too obvious,’ she said under her breath. ‘That was clumsy,’ she muttered and then continued crawling to the front door. Tingle and her family watched from the porch and all shook their heads.
One of the neighbours from across the road peered out of the window and watched Auntie Joanna with a frown. The rather strange sight of a grown woman on all fours crawling up the path sniffing flowers, the drive and then the door wasn’t usual in the cul-de-sac.
‘Erm Jo… the neighbours are watching,’ said Dianne.
‘Let them watch. If we don’t find the origin of the stink then we will have an enormous pong problem on our hands. This stench is a mere warning, a precautionary pong as it were. There are more to come if we don’t find the source. We need to nip the nasty niff in the bud as soon as we can because we don’t want to experience a Great Stink like they had in 1858. That was the ultimate stink and went down in history as the most disgusting and hideous stench ever to engulf a city. If I am guessing right, the Supreme Stench is rising and he intends to reap his stinkacious revenge. ‘Remember the stories granny used to tell us about great, great, great granny and the stink? Dianne if that happens then you will say goodbye to fresh air and freedom, and live in a constant smelly smog.’
‘Supreme Stench?’ Tingle asked. Who had the power to make such a horrible smell?
Auntie Joanna stood up and made her way to the front door where the family looked relieved that she no longer had her nose nestled in the flower bed. ‘The Supreme Stench is a wizard who was banished for making stink potions. Originally he made beautiful perfume; however, he lost favour with the upper classes and after being banished, turned his skills to odour abomination.’
‘What does abomination mean?’ asked Josh.
‘It means something that causes disgust,’ said John.
‘Like the abominable snowman?’ Tingle asked.
‘Yes, well done darling,’ said Dianne.
‘I like the idea of a big snowman,’ said Tingle. ‘I didn’t know he was disgusting.’
‘I think we have gone off track with the stink. Can you tell us more about the Supreme Stench?’ John asked. He was curious that someone felt so bad that they wanted to make others inhale a disgusting whiff.
‘Yes, when he was banished for pelting pongs all over London, he said that he would return and create the biggest stink the world has ever known. Not only would he take down London but every major city in the world. He was really peeved to say the least.’
John sighed and rolled his eyes, ‘Jo surely that is a bit extreme considering all we had was a bit of a bad smell in our hallway. Maybe someone ate something strange and was just too embarrassed to admit they guffed. That does not mean that we are going to have an invasion of Stink Faeries who are focused on making a giant stench in revenge for a wizard’s banishment.’
Auntie Joanna didn’t respond because she had found what she was looking for. There was an envelope hidden behind the pipe descending from the gutter. She stood up and waved the envelope triumphantly. ‘I found it… They want our attention. That was a purposeful pong!’
John rolled his eyes. ‘So we now have faeries writing little notes about the disgusting pong they made. Why does it always happen to us?’
‘What does the letter say?’ asked Josh. He was strangely excited about the Little Stinkers taking the time to write a letter regarding a bad smell they had made.
‘To whom it may concern…’ Auntie Joanna read aloud. ‘The Little Stinkers have returned. Are you ready for the biggest stink known to mankind? Stinky regards, The Little Stinkers.’
Auntie Joanna shook her head. ‘They have made a nice picture of a gruesome stink at the bottom of the page. Look how the people cover their noses at a passing stink cloud.’
‘Can I see?’ asked Tingle. John peered over her shoulder. The pair began to giggle at the picture. All the people looked shocked and upset as they attempted to run away from the stink cloud. Josh and Dianne peered over Auntie Joanna’s other shoulder and couldn’t help but laugh.
‘This has to be a joke, and why would they come to our house?’ John was amused and at the same time clearly not impressed.
‘They are aware of Dianne’s and my family lineage. Great, great, great, great granny was alive during the Great Stink. In fact, she was instrumental in helping calm the stink.’ Auntie Joanna said, she turned the note over and looked at the wafty decoration on the cover. The Little Stinkers had spent some time and effort creating a lovely stink design. It wasn’t often that anyone drew a decent picture of a smell.
‘Of course she was,’ said John matter of factly. ‘What weirdness isn’t your family involved in?’
‘Don’t be like that John,’ said Dianne. Admittedly the women within her family line were often involved in something mystical. They couldn’t help it. It always came to them too.
‘Darling… every time something odd happens… it seems that either your gran, great, great gran or another great female relative has been involved. I just wonder how we always end up being sucked in.’ John said looking somewhat concerned. ‘I don’t think anyone in my family has had to face up to a giant whiff before.’
‘Well at least our lives aren’t boring!’ Auntie Joanna stood with her hands on her hips. ‘Well you know what this means?’
Tingle and Josh’s eyes lit up.
John shook his head, ‘Oh no…’
‘Do you know what time it is?’ Auntie Joanna asked Josh and Tingle.
‘Yes,’ they both replied.
‘Adventure time!’ Cried Auntie Joanna thrusting her arms in the air.
‘Yey!!!!’ yelled Josh and Tingle before Auntie Joanna could say any more.
‘It is time to go on a Great Stink Adventure!’ A large smile filled her face.
‘Yey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’ the children cried again.
‘I just wanted to do a bit of gardening and read the paper,’ said John with a deflated sigh.
‘You can stay here John if you want, but surely you would like to discover the source of the Great Stink.’ Joanna’s voice was enticing. ‘Imagine missing out on discovering the hidden underworld of pongs, stinks, whiffs and stenches.’
‘Well now you put it like that… Erm No,’ said John. ‘I like nice fragrant smells and I say no to pongs, whiffs, guffs, stinks and stenches. Just saying!’ John folded his arms.
Josh and Tingle giggled at their father’s reaction.
‘Come on dad,’ said Josh. ‘It will be fun.’
‘Josh since when have bad smells been fun?’ John replied.
‘At Christmas. When you ate sprouts. You thought bad smells were fun,’ said Josh.
‘He has you there,’ said Dianne with a smirk.
‘Yes dad we don’t want you to miss out on any funny smells,’ said Tingle. ‘I really want you to come too! Come on daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!’
‘Well thank you Tingle,’ said John sensing the family were ganging up on him.
‘Come on darling, it’s a family stink adventure,’ said Dianne. ‘You can’t miss out on this.’
John sighed and shook his head. ‘What did you do over the weekend? Oh I went on a Great Stink Adventure.’
‘Yey!!!!!!!!!!!!’ cried Tingle and Josh knowing their father had given in. ‘You’re going to be a stink detective too!’
John nodded his head with an expression of reluctance. ‘I won’t sniff walls!’
His wife studied him, there was a hint of amusement in his eyes. As much as he said he didn’t want to be involved, he was also a little bit inquisitive. ‘I will say that again… I WON’T sniff walls! I need to make that very clear!’
‘Well get ready then…’ said Auntie Joanna. I will go and get the van warmed up.