UNDERGROUND BECAUSE OF A RASPBERRY SOUND
Quietly Tingle and Josh closed the door behind them and silently walked towards the area of light at the end of the corridor. They studied the walls because they didn’t know whether any of the chameleon-like Little Stinkers were merging with them. Nothing moved, so it seemed they were safe for the moment.
When they reached the end of the corridor they peered through to see a huge room with more funny looking creatures. The bizarre animals all seemed very busy working on something. In the middle of the room a tall, slim man with dark slicked hair stood on a podium. He appeared to be dancing about wearing a grass green velvet suit with dark green swirling patterns. In his hand he waved a funny long silver wriggly stick with a magical ball at the top which shone light from it. As he danced he swished around in a gold cape like he was a bull fighter. ‘Swisssssssssshhh!’
‘Is he a super hero?’ whispered Josh.
‘I don’t know,’ said Tingle.
‘He looks funny,’ whispered Josh.
‘QuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeetTTTTTT!’ cried the man making a stomp with his right foot. ‘Okay…. One more time,’ he called raising his arms in the air, as though he was about to conduct a huge orchestra.
‘An opera of odour on the count of three… One, two and…. THREE,’ he cried skipping about on his podium.
The creatures all stopped what they were doing and turned towards the strange man… ‘An Odorous Opera sounds better don’t you think? Much better than a smelly sing song!’
The funny little animals squeaked and grunted their approval.
‘Right! Hippobottymous you can take the lead…’ the man cried ushering a group towards the centre of the room. The hippobottymous was a creature the size of a middle-sized dog or a large cat and looked like the classical hippopotamus but with a much larger and wobbly bottom. What made them unique is they had wings like dragon wings.
‘Come on… This is the final practice before we share our Symphony of Stink with the world!’
Tingle frowned, were these creatures going to perform somewhere?
Josh noticed Tingle’s face, ‘But isn’t he a prisoner?’
The whisper made the strange man pause on the podium. ‘Who’s whispering?’ he said peering suspiciously at the creatures surrounding him. ‘There will be no whispering, only singing do you understand? DO YOU UNDERSTAND?’ he cried.
Josh and Tingle were quiet, could the strange man hear them from so far away?
‘Come on… Come on… Just because there was whispering it doesn’t mean that everything has to stop. Now get ready!’ The weird man waved his hand and ushered the creatures to the middle of the room.
All the hippobottymous left their working areas and lined up with their bottoms poised with one cheek higher than the other.
‘La la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaa….’ They waved their wobbly bottoms in time and began to sing in a deep baritone.
‘Laaaa la laaaaaaaaaaaaa. La la laaaaaaaaaaaa. Bottomy bonanza an extravaganza… La laaaaa laaaa.’
‘Sneaky Squeakies join in…’ the strange man said making an overly elaborate spin and his gold cape whooshed through the air.
‘Squeaky, squeaky oh so sneaky la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!’ They sounded like squeaky door hinges and looked like ferrets with fur wings. They were small, cute and rodent-like. ‘La laaaaaa. Sneaky Squeaky and oh so freaky la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!’ The Sneaky Squeakies moved in a wriggly manner and could curl and climb anything they wished.
‘Pump-kins you need to up your game this time… Now time for you to join in…’ cried the caped man making another dramatic spin and his gold cape whisked through the air.
A group of creatures with heads like beavers and big teeth rose into the air. They had bodies like jellyfish and undulated through space with long wriggly tentacles. With every propulsion a small Pump-kin blasted into the air and evaporated leaving what looked like a trail of ink with a very sharp stink.
‘Wow!’ whispered Josh. Tingle signalled for him to be quiet.
‘Whooosh, whoosh, whoooosh with a Pump-kin push la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!’ It was as if a whole shoal of jellyfish with beaver heads undulated past in a harmony of inky bad smells.
‘I want more from you Pump-kins… More sound! More push… More pizazz!’ The peculiar man yelled waving his arms in the air. ‘I need you to up your odorous opera game!’
‘With more flow our stink can grow! La la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!’
‘Beautiful… Genius… Powerful…’ cried the peculiar man… ‘We nearly have it! Droolers? Where are the Dastardly Droolers?’ He searched the area for the Droolers, who arrived from a neighbouring room. ‘I hope the slimy stink is ready?’ With a nod, some slimy creatures, with sloth faces and dragon’s bodies, oozed to the centre of the room. They left a slithery trail the same way slugs and snails left slime on paths. They appeared pleased with themselves because the stinky slime was brewing and close to reaching its perfect stagnant state. Their voices were quite raspy and whispery. ‘With a slither and a slime we create stinky crime… La laaaaaaaaaaaaaa! La laaaaa,’
‘Using our drool we create the perfect pongy pool la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!’
‘Twerpers… Bring on the Tangy Twerpers!’ The eccentric man on the stage burst with excitement.
A mass of rolling armadillo-like creatures rolled in formation to the centre of the room. There was a united sound as they unfurled that sounded like a series of clicks… and they timed their unfurling perfectly. They then all rose as one and a new beat began.
Unexpectedly, Josh found himself dancing. The armadillo unfurling made the rest of the room create a stomping sound like a drum beat. A moment later a trumpet sounded from each of the Tangy Twerpers’ trunks….
‘Tang-a-lang a stink – we will make you blink la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.’
‘More… I WANT more!’ The man from the podium demanded lifting his arms.
‘Tang-a-lang-a henge we seek stink revenge la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.’
‘Ohhhh that is good but henge and revenge? Really… Oh who cares? It provides the right message to the world… Plus this is like no opera that anyone on the outside world will have ever witnessed and they certainly will never have smelt anything quite like it! Little stinking creatures singing an odorous opera while catapulting stench in all directions. Genius! The vision is beautiful! It was worth a couple of hundred years to take my retribution. Oh I just can’t wait I should have waited really… but what are a few years premature between enemies?’
With another theatrical spin, he waved at the room. ‘Where are the Whiff Warblers? I want the Whiff Warblers in for practice NOW!’
Josh tapped Tingle and pointed his finger at his ear and circled it. ‘Mad, mad, stinky and mad.’
The room was silent. ‘What was that?’ The man on the podium slowed right down and turned slowly as he scanned the room for the source of the sound.
Tingle and Josh pressed themselves back into the wall of the corridor.
‘Did someone say something?’ The room was silent. The man in the green velvet suit paused as if listening. ‘So no one here heard a… thing?’
None of the creatures replied. ‘Okay… So I am hearing things now am I? Sebastian the Supreme Stench is hearing things is he?’
The creatures remained silent. A few of them shrugged while others shook their heads.
‘Has living in a stink for so long sent the master odour maker doo-lally?’ He stood for a moment with his arms crossed and a huge frown. ‘I know my stink brink and I have far more capacity than you can imagine… So no… I am not hearing things. This wizard has more astonishing aroma capacity that anyone can imagine. Do you hear?’ Sebastian, wearing his green velvet suit and cape, stamped his foot and tapped his staff on the floor. ‘Can you imagine what it is like to be down here for over a hundred years without anyone of the same background to talk to? Can you imagine? You all have each other, you all have your own breeds, and me? Who do I have? Yes Mildred and Bertie live on the surface but you know they are only allowed limited contact with me and I am not allowed out… So what do I have? Who do I have? So you have to understand that if I hear a voice then maybe it is because I forget what anyone else’s voice sounds like. Now sing… Where are those Warblers?’ Sebastian’s tone became desperate.
Tingle and Josh looked at each other. ‘He has been alone for over a hundred years?’ Tingle whispered.
‘Stop! There it is again. I heard a whisper…’ The Warblers were mid-launch and landed. When they landed it sounded like the word squish. ‘Squishhhhhhhhhhhhhh!’
They had frog heads with those lovely big throaty bubbles that were perfect for warbling. Dragon-fly wings lifted their reptile bodies which enabled them to hover whenever they wished or squished.
‘Oh for goodness sake, I am trying to listen and you make an almighty squish!’ Sebastian cried.
Tingle gestured at Josh by putting one finger over her lips. Josh nodded and waved his dinosaur.
‘So the voices have disappeared. Is that what stress does? All this work for one great day and after such a long time – I start to hear things… No that is not going to ruin the Stink Spectacular or as I like to call it the STINKTACULAR…. Come on then Warblers it is time for you to give it some warbling welly… Make my musical day!’
The Warblers lined up and their great bubbly throats expanded to full capacity. After three seconds they gurgled and popped together until they reached a high-pitched warble.
Tingle and Josh’s hair stood on end. It was incredible!
‘With a gurgle and a pop no stink will stop… La la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!’
‘Ohhhh I like that more….’ Sebastian said with a clap, he was obviously pleased.
‘With a squelch and a squish the smell of rotting fish la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.’
‘Now that is perfect…’ Sebastian swam around the podium like a goldfish in a bowl.
‘Warble, warble, belch and bubble our bad smell will cause whiffy trouble… La laaa laaaaaaaaaaaaaa!’
‘Love it… But hang on… what makes you think you can have three lines in the opera?’
The Whiff Warblers warbled together… as if avoiding the question.
‘Okay… okay… It works – it whiffing works… but I won’t have you getting above your warbling station! So we need a quickie from the duck-billed-splatter-pus. I don’t want too much of your time ladies and gentlemen because you have some extremely stinky bubbles to create. As we know there is a bottom bubbling urgency because we have a target to hit.’
Ten creatures that looked like duck-billed-platypus waddled in. Their beaks made them look as though they had huge smiles. As they toddled, bubbles rose from their bottoms in streams.
They formed a line and circled like dogs chasing their tails. Once they were settled they made a united quack together. They then, in a quacky ducky voice, began to sing. ‘Laaaa la laaa – a bottom bubble means huge trouble!’ They sang and then slapped the floor with their webbed feet. ‘From the water a smelly bubble will rise… and create a stinky surprise!’
‘Love it!’ Sebastian cried, ‘and I still have never worked out how a smell seems far worse when it rises through water. I have many theories – yet you, my secret bottom bubbling deterrents, are genius. Thank you!’ Sebastian clapped again and his hands appeared to be praying as he gazed up at the ceiling. He looked incredibly pleased with himself. ‘Right the Dancey Doom Dunkers… Where are you? Give it your all!’
The room fell silent and creatures with eight legs side danced into the room from another stink laboratory beside the Pongatory, beyond the stink central lab, where all the other Stinkers were standing. As they arrived another beat filled the room and they all made a thumping sound. Those creatures were quite different to the rest because their bodies were decorated and they had very cute heads with large dark shiny eyes. Their four arms were raised and made them look like they had cactus arms. What made the Dancey Doom Dunkers distinctive were their different shades of pastel colours. They were decorated in dotty patterns and their heads had horns that rose sideways. They looked like they were wearing big hats.
Tingle looked at Josh, he was thinking the same thing. They liked the eight legged, four armed creatures but didn’t know what to make of them.
When the creatures arrived on the dancefloor, they formed a circle and began to tap four of their legs to the beat and used the rest of their legs to dance. Their four arms waved in time as they made a long harmonious ‘Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo’ sound, each with a different tone.
After a short while Tingle and Josh realised they weren’t singing ‘Oooooo’ instead it was ‘Dooooooooooooooooooooooom! Oh dooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.’
‘Now really. That is all you could come up with….?’ Sebastian folded his arms and didn’t appear particularly pleased. The foot beat changed and the stomp picked up.
‘It’s so funky and so doom dunky… La laaa laaaa.’
‘Not amazing… but better.’ Sebastian was thoughtful.
The Dancey Doom Dunkers continued… ‘To make you groove our stink is smooth… La laaaa laaaaa!’
Sebastian grinned at the rest of their dance. They undulated from their waists like belly dancers, made a circle and moved their hands all at different levels as though waving.
‘Okay, you did well… I like it… In fact I love it!’ Sebastian said with a series of claps. ‘Sooo the rest of our stinking tribe are currently engaged in a bit of a mission. I really wanted to see what the Gross Grunters came up with. They are always so reluctant and moody but it will be a real treat when they move beyond their grumbling to sing their super smelly song! It may well stop them looking like they have a smell under their noses. Well we’ll just have to wait a little bit longer.’ Sebastian paused thoughtfully. ‘So I have some news. I have been informed by Bertie and Mildred that a family have figured out what we’re up to, and like detectives, thought that they would come and visit Waftness to share their concerns. I don’t know how they guessed but I sense they will regret that decision because we will be keeping them prisoner until we have released the stink. Are we excited? All this hard work is going to pay off and no one can stop us! After following the most glorious stinkacious vision… years of hard work, and we will soon be able to deliver.’ He grinned and admired all of the Little Stinkers. ‘What a joy. Thank you for all of your hard work. I bet you can’t wait to see the outcome too! Ooooh exciting!’
It seemed that the Little Stinkers were equally excited and the room clapped and cheered enthusiastically.
‘You wait my wondrous workers – you will be amazed by the power of a putrid pong… We have all worked together to create a gross guff of gargantuan proportion. After years of testing, sniffing and developing horrific hums – we will finally be able to share our creations with the world. There is nothing better than delivering years of work and planning to an unsuspecting world – a world that takes nice smells and fresh air for granted. What they don’t know is that these stinks are built to last and have been refined over years and years. Not just a little stink here or there but a mighty pong that would make massive monsters queasy. Oh what a joy and I have the perfect remedies for such a stinkathon. They will be so grateful and so appreciative or they can endure ten years of endless stench. Oh I just can’t wait for them to beg for wonderful whiffs. From foul fragrance to scrumptious scents – that is the power of the pong or pong power!’
Tingle and Josh looked at each other with faces full of wonder. So that was what Sebastian was up to. They had to tell their parents and they had to stop Sebastian Stinkworthy. But how? Josh gazed at Tingle who was in deep thought. Could she come up with a plan?
Sebastian studied some papers. ‘Right we have nearly completed our rehearsals but as I mentioned before, we are missing the very Gross Grunters with their straining faces. Oh and who else? Ah yes… our lovely Smog Sprouters. They always bring a smile to my face with their flappy penguin bodies and husky heads… So who else have we forgotten? How could I? The Stink Stonkers – they like to stomp before they make a Stinky Stonk… We will just have to look forward to their stonking surprise. So in the meantime we all need to unite in the final verses…. Have you all learned the last part of our song?’
All the creatures nodded.
‘I will teach those nasty people who ridiculed me about chorus… How dare they make a pong song about me and think they will get away with it! Well this Odorous Opera, Musty Musical or Stinking Symphony is going to surpass anything they could ever have imagined… And then we have the stench solo that will launch the rancid raspberries and then we…’ Sebastian paused and counted his fingers to make sure he had not missed anything. ‘Detonate the sprouts! And… Pongs Away!!! Hurrah!’
There was a cheer amongst the Little Stinkers.
‘Detonate the sprouts?’ Tingle mouthed at Josh who frowned back at her. That had to be bad didn’t it?
‘Soooo… You all have your harmonies ready don’t you? It is time to rehearse the raspberry rhapsody… first…’
A harmony of raspberries reverberated around the room to another raspberry beat…
Sebastian nodded and appeared very pleased as the raspberry volume increased…
‘Thwaaarrrp, thwarrrp… THWARRRRP!’ The raspberry rhapsody sounded as though hundreds of people were squashing whoopee cushions at the same time. The only difference was they had slightly different tones in a tune. It could have also sounded like those naughty boys at school who put their hand under their armpits and made parping noises.
Both Josh and Tingle covered their mouths and shook with laughter. The sound was so funny yet so weird. As the tune continued it became so rhythmic that it made Tingle and Josh want to jiggle.
‘LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE IT!’ cried Sebastian dancing about the stage. ‘The people of the world will be united in a raspberry rhapsody and will desire to dance. Ohhh the perfect party pong moves! Who could not dance to that marvellous melody?’ Sebastian took a deep breath and prepared himself. ‘Now for the final verses… and then the finale…’
Half of the creatures continued the harmony of raspberry while the rest prepared to sing.
‘Laa la Laaaaaaaaaaa
We made a pong because of your song
To seek revenge after so long…
La laaaaaa la laaaa
When the stink has come and you wonder why
It’s because you made an innocent man cry…
La laaaaaa la laaaa
Now the time has come for the greatest stink
To accuse an innocent will make you think
La laaaaaa la laaaa.
Sebastian Stinkworthy skipped and danced around swishing his cape with an expression of sheer joy.
‘Now for the harmony of gurgles, warbles, raspberries and squelches… All together and then simulate the release!’
The Little Stinkers paused and waited to sing the finale. With that, all the stink creatures took their positions. Some squelched, others gurgled in harmony until the group reached a crescendo and a moment of silence before… ‘Thwarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp!’ The loudest raspberry you could imagine sounded through the hall and then…
‘We introduce the Parpsichord of Honking Horror! We have Pongle the Parpsichord Player who has been practising… accompanied by Janella the operatic hippobottymous supreme.’
Tingle and Josh looked at each other. Pongle was dressed in a very smart tuxedo and took a bow.
‘Now just imagine Pongle playing and then you know what happens?’ The room filled with Little Stinkers all nodded.
Tingle and Josh had no idea what a parpsichord was and what the honking horror could be.
‘You know what we do next? YES! We release the stink… We detonate the sprouts and we squirt the juice of skunk according to each musical note… It is a beautiful moment…’ cried Sebastian raising his arms… ‘Just pretend we have all our stinks, stenches and pongs ready. Just pretend to let them all go after years and years of refining the perfect pongs, stenches, smells, whiffs, niffs and guffs. This is our final practice before we release the greatest international stink the world has ever known tomorrow.’
The creatures all pretended to release their nasty niffs. ‘Now the finale…’ Sebastian cried with absolute joy.
The Little Stinkers took deep breaths and stood up tall.
‘Oh what a stink… will make you think…
After such time a stinking crime…
Especially made for you…
A stench and a smell to feel unwell
Horrible whiffs that make you stiff are suddenly very free!’
Sebastian lifted his hands into the air… ‘Too much – is it too much? No… The final line…’
The Little Stinkers all prepared to sing a different note to enable a harmony…
‘PONG– A–LONG-A–POOOOOOOO–FROM ME TO YOU!’
The song trailed off and the room fell silent. It was done. The rehearsal had finally gone smoothly. Sebastian whooshed his cape around, bowed and then clapped all of the Little Stinkers!
‘Beautiful… Absolutely beautiful! Well done! We are ready! The question is – is the world ready?’
Illustrations by Robin Dry – Thank you so much!