SHARP PARP, SWAMP SMOG AND THE WRONG PONG
At the end of the corridor Tingle and Josh waited for a while to see what the creatures were going to do next. Would they all go somewhere for their dinner? Would they keep working? Where did Sebastian go when he wasn’t dancing around wearing a cape? So many weird and wacky questions churned through their minds.
A bell sounded and all the creatures stopped what they were doing, put down their tools and made their way to a room beyond the stink laboratory. When the stink laboratory was empty Tingle and Josh crawled in and took a look around. There were jars full of coloured gases, all with funny label names. SHARP PARP – A stink that will make your eyes water. Tingle smiled, she didn’t intend to turn the nozzle that released the smell. The pair continued to the next jar which had a green mist turning inside and read SWAMP SMOG – A smell that resembles drains and rotten eggs. Josh made a ‘that’s yucky’ face and waved his dinosaur. The pair crawled to the next jar A WOOFY WHIFF – The smell of wet, muddy dog combined with gorilla breath. Tingle didn’t like the thought of that one at all.
‘I do like the names,’ whispered Tingle to Josh. They crawled to the next one EGGEDY SMEGGEDY – The depth of rotten eggs combined with mashed rotten sprouts.
Beside that JUICE OF SKUNK – The aroma captured directly from the skunk’s behind. It is so putrid that it makes a person’s eyes water at ten paces. If one gets too close, they will cry and pass out.
There was a whole shelf that was out of reach with A COLLECTION OF REVOLTING SMELLS FROM AROUND THE WORLD. From the depths of Calcutta to the penguin nesting areas in Antarctica – every kind of sordid or scandalous stink to ever exist.
‘Oh look,’ said Tingle. THE TERRIFYING TRUMP – A tormenting treasury of trumps that will makes your hair stand on end. A combination of toad slime, testy turnip and a hint of trout.
‘Here,’ said Josh noticing a grey mist turning in circles. FESTING MURK – A collection of dubious murks from around the world left to fester until full fruition. Think piles of rubbish or garbage on a hot day, unwashed sweaty feet and vinegar. Now leave it for a few years and… Ta daaaa! Tingle read it and whispered the words under her breath. Josh waited for Tingle to figure out what it was.
‘Josh I can’t explain all of the words but imagine dirty sweaty feet and rubbish that has been kept out in the sun.
Josh made a yerrrruckkkk! expression and poked out his tongue. ‘Nasty! Very Nasty!’
‘Just one more…’ whispered Tingle. THE WRONG PONG – A combination of all the nasty smells that are wrong in the world. Numerous wrongens have been perfectly combined to send the unsuspecting sniffer PONGKERS (rather than bonkers).
‘What does that mean – PONGKERS?’ whispered Josh.
‘I think it might be a smell that sends you mad,’ Tingle replied and trailed off.
There was a weird silence and Josh and Tingle felt as though they were being watched.
‘I knew it!’ cried Sebastian. ‘I knewwwww I heard voices.’
Tingle and Josh froze… A group of creatures stood behind Sebastian watching the pair of them curiously. They were Stink Stonkers. They had very strong legs, bottoms like baboons and faces that looked as though they were straining. Each had a furry face that had a white circle of fur like a large moustache surrounding their mouths and that was for both the males and the females.
‘So what are you? Very small adults or… erchhhh, children?’ Sebastian smoothed his hair to one side. He tried to say children again and retched. ‘Why do I find saying the word children so awful?’ He retched as he said the word child again and frowned.
‘Hello Mister Stinkworthy,’ said Tingle. ‘I am Tingle and this is Josh and we are children. How do you do?’ She put out her hand to shake his hand.
Sebastian stood for a moment looking at Tingle’s outstretched hand. ‘Now that is very polite.’ For a moment he folded his arms because he seemed confused. After fidgeting for a while he pulled a glove from his inside pocket and finally shook Tingle’s hand.
‘How do you do?’ said Josh waving and then extending his dinosaur to shake its claw.
‘Ermm…’ Sebastian appeared caught off-guard.
‘This is Dino. He wants to say hello too,’ Josh said with a grin.
‘Erm… very good. You will have to forgive me. It is a very long time since I have seen a child, let alone a dinosaur. That is a dinosaur isn’t it?’ Sebastian bent over and peered at the rubber creature.
Josh nodded and waved Dino’s claw. For a short while the group stood silently looking at each other. The Stink Stonkers started tapping their feet.
‘We liked the song…’ said Josh. ‘Laaaa laaaaa laaaaa.’
Sebastian flushed red, ‘Oh I wasn’t expecting anyone to see it.’ He shuffled and appeared thoughtful. ‘Oh… to receive a compliment too,’ Sebastian became awkward and flicked his hair again, shuffled and then placed his hands on his hips.
‘Woofy Whiff sounds funny too. It made me giggle. I love funny words. Eggedy Smeggedy…’ Josh said doing a little dance.
‘What is Pongker? Is it a mad smell?’ asked Tingle.
‘Very close,’ said Sebastian not really knowing how to respond to the innocent children in front of him. ‘It’s a smell that makes you go mad for a little while because it’s so horrid. You just can’t get that nasty niff out of your nostrils.’ Sebastian pulled some very strange faces to show how awful such a smell could be.
‘Did that happen to you?’ asked Tingle.
‘Erm… might have…’ Sebastian replied. He frowned and thought some more. Was he a bit mad because of the nasty smells he created? Sebastian stroked his chin thoughtfully as he studied the children. He actually quite liked them and they weren’t rude or loud. They were polite and asked good questions. They even liked the smelly songs.
‘Are you going to eat us?’ Josh asked.
‘What?’ Sebastian laughed. ‘No, why would I do that?’
‘I asked giants too,’ Josh said. ‘They said children tasted like farts.’
‘Well that wouldn’t surprise me,’ Sebastian responded thoughtfully. ‘You asked giants?’
‘We just like to check because our parents told us not to talk to strangers and we have to talk to you because you are talking to us and there is no one to help us. So we just want to check that we are not going to be your dinner because in a lot of stories children get put in cooking pots and there are all these funny pots here. They are filled with weird smells and… because children taste like farts we thought you might… put us in a jar or…’ Tingle trailed off when she noticed Sebastian looking puzzled.
‘Do you stink?’ Sebastian asked with a sharp tone.
The children shook their heads. ‘We like to bath and shower… We like nice smells too.’
‘Ahhh’ said Sebastian, ‘I love nice smells.’
Josh glanced at Tingle and appeared confused.
‘Then why do you make all of these nasty smells?’ Tingle asked.
‘They are my revenge… You know what? I am going to let you into a little secret…’ Sebastian crouched down into a flat footed squat.
‘A secret?’ Josh replied.
‘I would like to show you what I used to do before I made putrid pongs.’ His face lit up as he thought about the beautiful aromas he had created before it all went pong-wrong. ‘Would that interest you?’
Josh took hold of Tingle’s hand and moved close to her.
‘Ahhh Josh, don’t you worry. I am not going to hurt you, but I am going to keep you here until after the Great Stink or Supreme Stench has been released. I haven’t decided on the perfect name yet.’ Sebastian sucked his lip through his teeth. ‘Profound Pong?’ Sebastian sighed, ‘I think Supreme Stench or Great Stink has some pong power being it… Hmmm.’
‘How long will that be?’ Tingle asked distracting Sebastian.
‘What? Oh… Yes… Tomorrow is my perfect dastardly dollop detonation day!’ Sebastian stood up swirled and then bowed. ‘I had considered a vile Valentine’s revenge release. That would have been hilarious. Imagine all those happy couples out on romantic dinners and Thwwwarp! Putrid Cupid detonates an enormous stink. From love to hate in a matter of internationally pong-filled moments. How could anyone feel romantic amongst a ghastly gassy aroma? Yet I came to the conclusion that tomorrow is actually the most perfect day.’ Sebastian smiled mysteriously to himself.
‘What is special about tomorrow Mister Stinkworthy?’ Tingle asked.
‘It’s my birthday and what better way to celebrate your birthday?’ Sebastian replied.
‘I like to go ice skating with my friends on my birthday,’ said Tingle. ‘Josh likes dressing up as dinosaurs with his friends and going to soft play.’
Josh made a little roar and pretended to be a small Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Sebastian laughed at the small boy strutting around and roaring. ‘You will still have to remain here until the Stink has been dispatched. Think of it as a pong protection. You would not want to be out there when the stink rises,’ he said.
Josh and Tingle glanced at each other and Tingle folded her arms. They didn’t want to be prisoners.
‘Will dog’s tails stop wagging?’ asked Tingle in an upset tone. ‘It isn’t fair for dogs to sniff nasty smells.’
Sebastian began to laugh a hearty laugh. ‘So you don’t care about being held captive or staying the night… Or the humans… You just want to make sure that the biggest stink in the world won’t stop dog’s wagging their tails? I loooooooooooooooove it!’
Tingle nodded. It wasn’t funny! ‘Dogs shouldn’t feel sad and stop tail wagging. Plus humans can do something about a nasty smell. They can put tissue up their noses or cover their face with jumpers. Most animals don’t wear jumpers or own scarfs so they can’t escape the nasty smell.’ Tears welled up in Tingle’s eyes, ‘And I… I like animals.’
‘I like animals too,’ said Josh defiantly. ‘And dinosaurs!’
Sebastian moved to sit cross legged in front of the children. ‘I am going to let you into a little secret. Dogs never ridiculed me or said nasty things about me. In fact no animal has ever upset me so they will not be bothered by any of the stinks. The nasty niffs are specifically designed for humans. All the animals will be fine. I know that because the Little Stinkers are not affected by the smells and they are made up of different animals. Instead they can create smells and not be hurt by them.’
A sense of relief filled Josh and Tingle’s faces. None of the animals on the planet were going to be affected by the stink. That was a relief.
Sebastian sat thoughtfully, for years and years he had obsessed about every aspect of stinks, smells, pongs, wiffs and niffs. Now he finally had a chance to impart his findings. ‘Now children I have some special information to share with you – during my time in the tunnels I remembered some very key facts. Have you noticed that when a human passes wind that they don’t get upset or feel ill? They usually laugh and it is only those around them who feel ill or upset. That human has a natural resilience to any stink they create. That got me stink-thinking. We then worked out that if an animal passes wind it is not bothered by its own smell either. It is only those around that are. Have you noticed when a dog makes a bad smell, even though it has an amazing sense of smell, it doesn’t get upset by that terrible bottom bandit. So with that in mind, we created smells that contain the base-ingredient of animal blow-off so that no animal will be bothered by the stench or the stink.’
‘So dogs will still wag their tails?’ Tingle asked with a glimmer of hope in her eyes.
‘Yes they will Tingle.’ Sebastian said calmly.
‘Yey!!!’ cried Josh and Tingle with excitement and began to jump up and down.
‘Okay, okay… I understand you are children and unexpected cheering is what children do… I just think you might need to calm down.’
‘Boring!’ said Josh.
‘Boring?’ Sebastian repeated with a frown.
‘Josh you shouldn’t say anything is boring. He will send us back to Boredooom!’ Tingle said with a fearful look in her eyes.
‘Boredooom?’ Sebastian appeared inquisitive.
‘We were bored and Auntie Joanna made us go to a place called Boredooom, which is a whole world that is just sooooo boring and grey. You never ever want to go there. It was soooooo boring!’ Tingle sighed and shook her head sadly.
‘Boring, boring, BOOOOOORING!’ Josh cried waving Dino.
‘Boring… let me tell you about boring… Imagine spending around a hundred and seventy years down here with no company other than Little Stinkers. What makes it worse is I created the Little Stinkers using magic. Boring… I can tell you about boring! I forgot to create personalities or decent conversation. So it has just been me and Stinkers for what seems like eternity. Now that is boring!’
‘Do you wash grey knickers in grey water every day for an hour?’ Tingle asked.
‘No! Why would I do that?’ Sebastian spat. The confused look on his face made Josh giggle.
‘To experience boring to the highest level. That is what they do in Boredooom! Sometimes they wash grey knickers in grey water in a bucket for hours and hours. Then if something exciting happens they tip to the side and fall asleep to get over all the fun.’
Sebastian studied the children, he had never heard anything like it. ‘This Auntie Joanna… she took you to Boredooom because you were bored. Why?’
‘So that we never complained about being bored on a rainy day ever again.’ Tingle replied.
‘Did it work?’ Sebastian asked thoughtfully.
‘We don’t get bored anymore because we don’t want to go back,’ said Tingle.
‘So why are you here now?’ Sebastian asked.
‘Auntie Joanna made us come here…’ said Tingle.
‘Ahhhh,’ said Sebastian.
Josh watched Sebastian stand up and stroll around broodingly.
‘Why did she make you come here?’ Sebastian asked, something was out of sorts.
‘To find Little Stinkers…’ Josh answered.
‘Did you make a bad smell?’ Sebastian turned on his heel and his cape whisked through the air.
‘No,’ said Josh giggling.
‘We found a bad smell in our hallway and none of us made it. It wasn’t even dad that time.’ Tingle said arranging her hair behind her ear.
‘So how was Auntie Joanna involved?’ Sebastian asked with a tone of suspicion.
‘She sniffed the walls of our house and said Little Stinkers had visited,’ Tingle answered watching the strange man put his hands on his hips and balance on one leg.
A fury rose in Sebastian, ‘What?’ he said trying not to shake. He stamped his foot and paced for a while trying to understand what the children had said. ‘Hmm I knew Mildred and Bertie has some ‘nosey visitors’ but… I didn’t know about the Little Stinkers. I will have to have a little chat with Mildred and Bertie.’ Finally, with a flick of his gold cape, he turned to the Stink Stonkers, ‘What do you know about that?’
The group of Stink Stonkers shrugged.
‘How did the Little Stinkers enter the outside world without my permission?’ Sebastian demanded.
The Stink Stonkers glanced at each other… they didn’t have a clue.
‘I think they came through the drains,’ said Tingle.
Sebastian took a deep breath and began to count. ‘Okay, so that is a possibility. They are small and they can climb through things.’
He pondered some more… ‘When your toilet flushes does it make any musical notes?’
Josh looked at Tingle and shook his head. Tingle considered her toilet flushing and there definitely had not been a single musical note played. The only sound was water pouring through the toilet bowl.
‘No Mister Sebastian. Our toilet isn’t musical…’ she replied.
Sebastian scratched his cheek and then folded his arms… ‘So no musical toilets in your house and you have never played a toilet tune?’
Josh giggled, ‘Toilet tunes… fun!’
Sebastian wasn’t terribly amused, ‘It is something I have been working on… A surprise tune from a toilet is worth its weight in gold…’
A look of complete amazement crossed Tingle’s face as she imagined flushing the loo and a tune playing.
‘That is a very strange thought…’ Tingle said.
‘Well having toilets squirt water at the person flushing is far more of a surprise. At one time I had a sense of humour,’ Sebastian said as he paced.
‘A water pistol toilet?’ asked Josh, who looked amazed. ‘We saw one when had tea and toilet shortbread biscuits. It was only small. Fun!’
‘Ah the toilet shortbread…’ Sebastian said.
‘Are you thinking a full sized toilet with a squirter?’ asked Tingle as she covered her mouth and sniggered.
‘Yes – a full sized toilet gusher!’ Sebastian was caught up in other thoughts. ‘The point is this place is a prison and I have been confined underground for all these years because there are guards outside. There have been guards for over a hundred years. The only places the Little Stinkers should be able to visit are the cities to place the stinks and they need my magic to go there.’
Tingle glanced at Josh, neither had noticed a single guard. The pumping station didn’t look like a proper prison either.
‘I like Hippobottymous,’ said Josh. ‘They have wibbly wobbly bottoms. That was funny.’ Josh swayed the same way as the Hippobottymous had when it was their turn to sing.
Sebastian’s shoulders appeared to relax, ‘Thank you.’
‘I like the Sneaky Squeakies,’ said Tingle.
‘Are you hungry?’ asked Sebastian.
‘Yes,’ replied Tingle and Josh. They glanced at each other because their stomach’s had been rumbling.
‘Would you like dinner?’ Sebastian licked his lips as he thought about eating.
Josh and Tingle appeared awkward and shuffled.
‘Children, I will eat what you eat. There will be nothing strange in it,’ Sebastian said.
‘Can we just have biscuits from a packet?’ asked Tingle.
‘That isn’t proper food. You don’t trust me do you?’ Sebastian made a loud huff.
Tingle shook her head, ‘Mister Stinkworthy you are going to release the biggest stink the world has ever known to upset lots of people and make their noses hurt. I don’t think you like people. So that means you might not like children. That also means that you might feed us food that smells like farts because you might not like us.’
Sebastian raised an eyebrow. ‘I can kind of see the logic there but why would I do that?’
‘Because you don’t like people… and we are just little people who will one day become big people.’
‘Ah… now that strangely makes sense, but you have done nothing to upset me. If anything you have shown respect and complete honesty,’ he replied.
‘I like cake,’ said Josh. ‘And…avocado.’
‘Okay, let’s go to the dining room. I will have sandwiches and cake… and biscuits in packets laid out. I will also put some cooked vegetables out plus some avocado. We also have lemonade. If you want I can eat some of the things you want to eat before you eat it. That way you know it is safe.’
‘Where do you go shopping?’ Tingle asked.
‘The food is delivered to us from upstairs,’ Sebastian said gesturing for the pair to follow him through a series of large rooms including laboratories.
‘Do you have pong resistance?’ asked Tingle. ‘Aren’t you a wizard?’
‘You children are very suspicious and ask a lot of questions,’ said Sebastian.
‘We were told never to talk to strangers, never to eat sweets from strangers and never to trust strangers…’ Tingle replied honestly.
‘Oh,’ said Sebastian sucking his lip through his teeth and making a rasping sound. ‘Well that is very wise… The problem is there really isn’t a choice is there?’
‘Well you could bring our parents and Auntie Joanna down here,’ Tingle responded thoughtfully.
‘Why would I do that?’ Sebastian studied Tingle with a baffled look on his face.
‘Then we could all know who you are and you wouldn’t be a stranger. Then we could all have fun together,’ Tingle replied.
‘Clever, but no! You will all gather against me and try and stop the Bilious Bottomy Birthday Bonanza! I can tell what you are up to and now my patience is wearing thin!’ Sebastian was stern in his tone.
‘I’m hungry,’ said Josh.
‘So we will go to the dining room because I am peckish and if you wish to eat then you can… Follow me or the Stink Stonkers will carry you there,’ Sebastian began to take long strides in the direction of the dining room.
Tingle and Josh followed Sebastian through the PONGPLEX. On the way Tingle and Josh paused when they saw a whole room of jars filled with smells. On the wall was a sign saying ‘FESTERING FAILURES’.
‘What’s that?’ Tingle called after Sebastian.
He paused and turned, ‘Those are stinks that did not make it to full fruition or were disappointing. They had so much stink potential, yet when the horrible aromas were combined they did not amount to anything. They were just a bit murky or gloomy.’
‘What’s that?’ asked Tingle pointing at a sign that said ‘PONG BATH’.
‘You do ask a lot of questions don’t you?’ Sebastian paused.
‘Yes,’ said Tingle. ‘I am a child. We do that.’
‘Well my dear a pong bath is the opposite of a lovely luxurious fragrant bath. Instead you can wash in a really strong pong. The Little Stinkers think it is hilarious.’
‘But why?’ asked Josh.
‘Why not?’ Sebastian replied watching Josh’s reaction.
Josh appeared confused.
‘Josh it was just an experiment. When you are being creative it is good to explore opposites. In this case the world loves to bathe in beautiful smells and I thought why not shock them with unexpected pong baths. That is one of my reserve plans, should I ever need to up my pongy game.’
Sebastian really had thought about everything. Tingle noticed an area of pink gases floating around in one particularly large jar.
‘Pretty,’ said Josh pointing. ‘What is that?’
‘You don’t need to know…’ Sebastian turned and continued to walk.
Tingle ran to the jar and watched the pink gas rise and fall in a cycle. ‘It says neutral-iser’.
‘Get back here!’ Sebastian cried and turned on his heel.
‘What is a neutraliser?’ Tingle asked.
Sebastian sucked his lip as he thought how he should put it and whether he should tell them.
‘Let’s go to the dining room and I will explain,’ he said after a pause.
Josh came to a standstill and noticed a small button in the wall. It said ‘DO NOT OPEN’. He ran over and pressed it.
‘For goodness sake!’ cried Sebastian. ‘Can’t you read?’
‘I am five. I can write my name,’ Josh said writing his name in the air using Dino.
Tingle stood next to Josh and folded her arms. ‘Mister Stinkworthy, I think you need to remember that we are children,’ said Tingle in a definite tone. ‘If a button says ‘Do Not Press’, then we press it because we need to find out what happens. That is what children do. That is why we are children.’
Sebastian glared at the small children. What else did children do that he had forgotten?
Illustrations by Robin Dry – Thank you so much!