RINGING, SINGING AND TOILET FILLING
At six o’clock in the evening Auntie Joanna was the first to come round. She sat up and rubbed her eyes as she studied the plum room filled with rather beautifully decorated Victorian loos. They were very pretty toilets indeed! She traced her hand across the velvet sofa and actually felt like she would have happily continued to nap. The main thing bothering her was the remnants of the smell that had violated her nostrils. She glanced at her sister and John, who were still passed out. When she stood up her head swooned. Whatever that stink had been made of had definitely given her a headache.
After sitting for a while to get her head in order, Auntie Joanna strolled around the room and glanced at the toilets. Her intuition was ringing, something about the room excited her and it wasn’t the toilets. She had been told numerous stories about such beautiful Victorian style rooms from her grandmother and her great grandmother.
John suddenly sat up with a gasp. ‘Where am I?’ he said glancing around. The sound of his voice made Dianne stir too.
‘Oh goodness, what was that smell?’ Dianne asked. ‘It was terrible and I think my nostrils still have some of it inside.’
‘Don’t sit up too fast,’ said Auntie Joanna. ‘That stink was intense and it will take a while for your head to balance itself out.’
‘Where are we? How did we get here?’ John asked searching the room for clues. ‘Are those… toilets?’ he said staring at the line of ornate lavatories.
‘Yep,’ Auntie Joanna replied as though there was nothing unusual about a line of luxury privies.
‘Very pretty toilets…’ said Dianne allowing her eyes to focus on one particular toilet decorated with roses.
‘I think we are in some kind of Victorian Bathroom Boudoir and you will notice the sign on the walls. It says VICTORIAN BATHROOM BOUDOIR,’ Auntie Joanna gestured across the room.
Dianne sat forwards and placed her head in her hands. ‘Tingle and Josh? Where are they?’ she said sounding worried.
‘They escaped,’ replied Auntie Joanna.
Dianne’s forehead wrinkled, ‘But my babies are out there with a stink madman.’
Auntie Joanna studied her sister. ‘Yes and they are clever children.’
John changed position and grabbed his head. ‘That stink feels as though it has invaded my brain. I feel like there is a green smog inside my skull.’ He paused… ‘Josh and Tingle… We need to find them…’
‘Yes John we were just discussing that…’ Auntie Joanna replied.
John went to stand and his head swooned. He stumbled towards the door and tried to open it.
‘Now John, what made you think that you could simply stroll out of a room filled with toilets after we have been stinked?’ Auntie Joanna said watching John try the handle a few times.
‘I hoped they had forgotten to lock the door. It happens…’ John said attempting to open the door again.
Auntie Joanna studied John, ‘Since when has anyone forgotten to lock a room that people are supposed to be held captive within?’ Auntie Joanna went over to the decorated toilets and pulled a chain. It made a musical sound.
Dianne, even though concerned, smiled, ‘Well at least that is fun…’
‘Brilliant,’ said John. ‘My brain feels like it has been shaken and now you are going to play a toilet tune. I should have stayed at home.’
‘Oh don’t be like that… Oh look at this… You pull different toilet chains and you get a tune – they call it a pong-a-long rather than a singalong. That is fun.’ Auntie Joanna pulled a few toilet chains and managed to create a little bit of a tune.
Dianne watched her sister wander around the room. ‘What are you thinking Jo?’
‘There is something about this room. Look at the picture on the wall – it is an illusion. There is something going on here and I don’t know what it is…’ she replied studying the picture.
‘Well there are no windows,’ said John, ‘so we can’t escape out of a window.’
‘That is good to know John…’ Auntie Joanna said while moving to look at the painting from different angles.
‘I know I am stating the obvious but we need to consider all aspects. Sometimes the most obvious things are right in front of you and you can’t see them,’ he replied watching Auntie Joanna step sideways in front of the picture.
‘The door is obviously locked,’ said Dianne. ‘Josh and Tingle are somewhere in the complex too.’
Auntie Joanna stood right up close to the picture and peered at the details.
John began to knock on the walls.
‘Why do men always do that?’ Dianne asked shaking her head.
‘It is just something we do. I just want to see if the walls are solid. See this here is solid panelling. This one here is a solid wall. Now if we move over to where the toilets are mounted and tap the panel you can hear it is quite hollow.’
‘So what are you thinking?’ asked Auntie Joanna without shifting her gaze.
‘Well they must have some kind of organ behind there to make the tune from the flushing chains.’ John appeared pleased with himself.
‘That is what I liked about Edwardians and Victorians – they were creative and made places that were solid. They also built architecture that was original and sometimes they were playful. Toilet play is what that display of ornate toilets is all about.’ Auntie Joanna didn’t take her eyes off of the painting.
‘Toilet humour at its best,’ said Dianne.
‘Do you think you can play a proper tune with the toilet chain flushes?’ John asked pulling each one individually and working along the toilet line. Each toilet played a different note.
‘I think there is more to it than that,’ Auntie Joanna replied as she listened to the different flushing sounds.
‘I can hear footsteps,’ said John.
‘Quick pretend to be asleep,’ said Auntie Joanna.
The group dashed back to their sofas and laid with their eyes shut.
Mildred unlocked the door. Some of the Little Stinkers carried trays of food above their heads.
‘Right quickly in… and quickly out,’ she said as the Little Stinkers dashed in with food.
‘Gosh that stink was a strong one. They are still passed out and it has already been five hours. They will definitely be ready for food when they wake up. It’s close to six o’clock already… ‘Only 18 hours until the Stinkathon begins,’ she said gesturing for the Little Stinkers to set to down the food in front of the sofas.
Mildred stood by the door studying the grown-ups. ‘Once the full stink has been released our prisoners can go home… But who would want to wander into a wicked waft of such epic eggy proportion?’ Mildred paused as she glanced at the sleeping adults. ‘You have no idea what is about to be unleashed my friends. Nearly two hundred years’ worth of stink and stench experimentation by a man who is so filled with vengeance venom… When a person has time to really experiment and discover all the details of stink then you won’t be surprised by such complex creations. He has mastered his fragrant art. The world will never be the same again and people will wish for the day that they had lovely fresh air and sea breezes.’
There were a few squeaks and grunts from the Little Stinkers who were very aware of how extreme the foul smell was. They had witnessed it first hand and had grown resilient to it. In fact they had the capacity to choose to smell something or not – that was a magical enhancement that Sebastian had introduced over time.
‘Come on Little Stinkers, we need to lock the door and make the final preparations for tomorrow. Plus I need to ice the cake and try and fit two hundred candles on it.’ Mildred said, waving the Little Stinkers towards the door.
There was squeaking amongst the Little Stinkers as they placed down the food. One of them moved up close and sniffed John. It paused for a moment studying him thoughtfully. ‘Quick, quick,’ said Mildred. ‘We can’t waste a single moment.’
With that she ushered the Little Stinkers through the door and turned the key in the lock.
When the door was closed and the sound of footsteps became faint, the group sat up.
‘Eighteen hours!’ Dianne cried. ‘Eighteen hours until the world is engulfed by a huge stench.’ There was panic in Dianne’s tone.
Auntie Joanna remained thoughtful while John studied the food.
‘A nice roast…’ he said glancing at Dianne and Auntie Joanna. ‘You will feel better once you have eaten,’ he said glancing at his wife.
Dianne picked up her plate and sighed. ‘We have to find Tingle and Josh. Then we have to stop Sebastian and…’
‘She is putting two hundred candles on a cake… You know what that means?’ Auntie Joanna said in a moment of realisation.
‘It’s a big cake?’ said John, he then took a bite of his Yorkshire pudding.
‘No… It is Sebastian’s birthday,’ Auntie Joanna said.
‘You know what that means?’ Dianne said shaking her head at her husband.
‘He is a year older…’ said John with an annoying grin.
Auntie Joanna and Dianne gave him a certain look…
‘He is about to have a pong party… to celebrate. It makes sense now and that will result in the stench being released at midday. Tomorrow is Sunday and…’ Auntie Joanna explained.
‘So how come we have a roast today?’ John studied his dinner.
Dianne glanced at her husband, had the stink affected his brain?
‘Who knows, the point is that tomorrow is Sunday and the stench will be released at midday when people are at their height of resting and doing nice things at the weekend. Also when they are about to eat their lunch. He has perfectly planned the ultimate stink release,’ Auntie Joanna cried.
‘Ah that makes more sense,’ said John. ‘They have given us a Sunday roast today so it won’t be ruined tomorrow. I wonder what we will have to eat tomorrow instead.’
‘John you only think about your stomach!’ Dianne sighed.
‘Well it is obvious he has been planning the stink release for a very long time,’ said John taking a bite of a nice crunchy roast potato. ‘This is really tasty! We have time to come up with a plan and you don’t want your dinner to get cold.’
Auntie Joanna and Dianne tucked into their food. All the while their minds churned.
‘Right we eat our dinner, then we figure out how to escape, we find Tingle and Josh and then we stop Sebastian,’ said Auntie Joanna between mouthfuls.
‘I think there might be desert in between dinner and escape.’ John said eyeing the apple and rhubarb crumble. ‘Plus we have to make sure we are fully fuelled to stop a stink.’
Auntie Joanna and Dianne both shook their heads at the same time, it seemed that bad smells could also be mad smells too.
Illustrations by Robin Dry – Thank you so much!