Glasses clinked and bright lights flashed. Laughter and conversation filled the crowded-but-comfortable rooms of the casino. The building was quite large and segmented into many different, spacious rooms; some functioned as bars, while others focused on gambling, food, and other... services. The hour was 10:35 PM on December 31st—everyone in the casino was partying away the night as they awaited the conclusion of the Times Square New Years Eve Ball Drop, which was being shown on numerous TVs throughout the place. In fact, it was the only thing being shown on TV, as any attempts to change the channel—even in the hotel rooms of the place—were simply met with another broadcast of the event.
One man in particular was walking around the casino in an Oakland Raiders jersey, occasionally bumping into people or tables before comfortably taking a seat in a room with a big stage. The man had short, dark hair that was trimmed neatly, as well as a beard that didn’t really seem to work on him. He looked around the place before sinking into his chair and resting the side of his face in his hand. After a couple seconds of fiddling, he managed to touch part of his ear and began talking in a deep voice.
“Dude, the auction’s not even for another hour and a half. Can’t we just do something else in the meantime?” the man asked.
“No,” replied a voice over the man’s communications device. It had a slightly posh British accent to it. “You need to keep an eye on the area and track the people’s movements. We can’t lose it again—not after that last stunt you did in the library.”
“Come on, I’m not waiting around for another… ninety minutes, man. Look, there’s a lot of games in this place. I can go do something for about an hour, then come back here and we’ll do the thing,” said the man insistently.
“This is a casino, Nnam. You’re supposed to lose track of the time,” said another voice over the comms. It was even more posh than the first and had a hint of infinite annoyance. “We have to do this right, otherwise it’s going to be us chasing after the next wanker for another month.”
“Which means instead of going home at the end of tonight, we all have to fill out more paperwork and plan the next operation,” the first voice muttered.
“Dude, Richard, those things take like twelve hours just to do one page!” exclaimed Nnam, suddenly shooting forward. His chair began to tip over, forcing him to catch it with one hand and grab his table with the other to secure himself. He was still talking when he did this, but now his hand had been removed from his comm device.
“You’re cutting out again,” said the first voice, which belonged to Richard.
Meanwhile, several people were gathered in a suite. The windows had been shut, curtained, and blinded, refusing to allow anyone to see in or out of the place. Everyone in the living room section of the suite was sitting on one of the two couches on either side of a fancy table, and they were all staring endlessly at several laptops that had been set up on its glass top. A lower shelf of the table contained several cups of coffee, which someone would occasionally grab and take a sip before putting it back, never once looking away from their respective laptop.
Two men—one with dark brown hair, a small beard, and a dark blue longcoat, the other a pale, black-haired man with baggy, black robes—were the only people not sitting at a computer. Instead, they looked back and forth between several TVs, which broadcasted various rooms of the casino. They each had a comm device as well, though they resembled headsets that went around the back of their heads and had a microphone on one side, which in turn extended in front of their mouths.
“Why did we pick him for this operation again?” asked the black-haired man, watching Nnam slowly get out of his chair. “STAY RIGHT THERE.”
“What am I supposed to do for an hour and a half then, Par? This is boring as fuck,” Nnam retorted.
“I dunno, masturbate with your stuffed duck or something. Nobody will see, I’m sure,” replied Par, the black-haired man. “Ask them for a tablecloth.”
“Dude, I got rid of that thing long ago,” said Nnam.
“And yet, it will never die,” replied Par.
“Sileeeeeeeeeeeeeeence!” Richard shouted. Par, who was standing next to him, instinctively recoiled from the double barrage of Richard’s shouting point-blank and over the comms.
“Just helping him pass the time is all,” said Par, taking his comm device off to rub his ears for a moment.
“With all due respect, ‘sirs’, why did we have to wait until New Year’s Eve for this?” asked a rather short, tan woman with dark brown hair and a look that somehow managed to combine wide-eyed and indifferent. She also seemed to have a consistent grin on her face, as if slightly amused by the whole thing. “I mean, this is kind of the only day we have off. Ever. Why wasn’t this done on Christmas?”
“Because we were getting your ass out of jail that day and set the plan back, Cher,” answered Richard, his gaze finally leaving the TVs and shifting over to the woman. His uninterested look hadn’t changed in the slightest as he blankly stared at her until she backed away, then he resumed watching the cameras.
Similarly-themed shenanigans continued for the next hour and a half. Like every other year, the Times Square ball reached its destination at the bottom of its flagpole at midnight, signaling the beginning of a new year.
“Heh, ball-dropping and the start of a new phase. I think there’s some hidden meaning-“ Cher began, but was interrupted.
“No,” Richard said monotonously. “Nnam, that’s your cue.”
There was silence. Nnam did not respond.
“Nnam? Your turn,” Par repeated.
“Ooh! One sec,” was what they heard over their comms. The sound of tokens clattering to the floor echoed over his end as he spoke.
“Goddammit,” muttered Par, turning to the people at the computers. “Did no one see him leave his spot?!”
“Ladies and gentlemen, a new year is upon us!” said a dark-haired, mutton chopped man in his late 40s. He wore a tuxedo with a bowtie and seemed a bit saggy around the belly area, but he was nothing compared to the Boogie Baby. “And we all know what that means… More booze, more games, and finally… tonight’s auction!”
Meanwhile, Nnam sprinted down several hallways, dodging the many patrons in his way as he headed for the room with the stage. A few women winked at him along the way, but he reluctantly shook his head and continued running. Eventually, he made it to the auction, sliding into his chair as an elderly Asian man was about to sit in it.
“Excited, are we? You should be,” the mutton chopped man continued, “for this is perhaps one of the greatest items I could possibly auction off, ever.” A curtain was immediately raised and several tall, thin men in white tuxedos pushed a stool forward. Upon it sat an orange, ordinary-looking man purse. “Looks can deceive, of course, for this is no ordinary bag! You can fit literally anything inside of this. Observe.” With that, the servants—both of them looking identical and resembling stereotypical cartoon butlers—began reaching into the bag and pulling out random items. First they started out with various fruits, which seemed to be abundant inside the bag, but the audience was particularly impressed when an entire dresser was—with great effort—removed from the bag.
“There it is,” said Richard. “Nnam, we’ve rehearsed this. Wait for your cue.”
“This is a pretty great thing, so we’ll start the bidding at… say, $40,000,” the man announced. “Do I hear 41,000?”
Everyone’s hand shot up immediately. This went on for some time, with the bid rapidly rising to about $100,000 in only a few minutes.
“Come on, I’m ready,” Nnam whispered into his comms.
“Not yet,” Par ordered.
“Dude, we’ve gotta get the fuck…ing…” Nnam paused between words before going silent altogether. His nose scrunched. “What the fuck’s that smell?”
It seemed everyone was starting to pick up on this mysterious odor as well. In the suite, the cameras started going out one-by-one, but communications still worked. Loud stomps echoed throughout the halls as a man in a dirty, tan trench coat stormed in, though his left arm was not in his sleeve, instead letting it dangle behind his back. He wore glasses and sported messy, wet, dark brown hair, including a mustache and a scruffy beard. His lips were tightly closed, and he moved his mouth from side-to-side as he pushed through the crowd.
“Is that it? I’m sure plenty of you are willing to bid on this?” the mutton chopped man said obliviously. There was silence, so he continued. “$100,000 going once… 100,000 going twice…”
“One… hundred souls-ah. One night,” the man in the trench coat said in a fish-like voice. He was now at the front of the crowd, staring up at the man intently.
“Nnam, what’s going on down there?” Par asked, a look of intent and confusion on his face.
“Some dude just walked in here,” said Nnam. “He says he’s bidding souls.”
“I dunno man, that’s what he said,” Nnam continued.
“Who?” asked Par.
“I just said, dude. The guy who walked in here,” answered Nnam.
“No, who is he?” Richard clarified.
“Oh, uh, I don’t know,” replied Nnam.
As this was going on, several fit-looking men in checkered suits grabbed the dirty man and started pulling him away, back through the crowd towards the door.
“Time to go, sir,” said one of the men in a monotone voice. “Nobody wants you here—go take a bath, maybe cut down on the TV, then you can come back... sir.”
“YOU WILL NOT FORESTALL MY JUDGMENT-AH!” shouted the man with glasses, wrestling free of the bouncers’ grips. He kicked several of them into each other, knocking them down like dominoes, then proceeded to lock his left hand around another’s throat, though he did so in the way a crab closes its claw. He reached out and wrapped his right hand around the host’s foot, tripping him but losing his grip as the bouncer fought back. One of them got up and rushed the man, who reflexively wrapped his entire right arm around his head and forced his face into his armpit, then tossed him aside. The bouncer apparently lost consciousness from the exposure, while the one trapped in the man’s iron grip slowly stopped resisting and fell to the floor. The casino flew into a panic as the crowd dispersed, screaming. The owner had also fled while the man was busy with the bouncers, snatching the orange man-purse off its stool and fleeing through a metal door in the back of the stage.
“Almost there… we have power! I think,” said one of the people in the suite.
“Direct it to one of the cameras in the auction room,” Par commanded, immediately turning to face the screens.
Immediately, they had a visual of the room with the stage, and subsequently, the source of all the chaos. There, they saw the man in glasses, who suddenly ripped a tablecloth off two of the tables, wadded them up, and stuffed them into his coat pocket. He looked up at the camera watching him and grinned toothily. After a few seconds, the man grabbed a fancy vase and emptied it of its contents. He then punched two holes in it and shoved it onto his head, turning it into a mask. Stuffing the flaps of his coat into his pants, he suddenly started shaking violently and sped up the stage to the door.
“…Is that… Bill?” Richard said blankly, figuring out how to properly react.
“Shit,” Par muttered. He then realized Nnam was pushing his way through the panicking crowd. “How did you not recognize his voice, Nnam?!”
“I dunno man, it sounded weird and fishlike!” was Nnam’s response.
“Not important now,” said Richard. “Nnam, get the hell out of there—do not engage Bill.”
“Dude, he’s fucking up the operation. We need to get that bag and he’s ruining it,” Nnam replied.
“And we’ll get it,” Par retorted. “Regroup—we’re revising the plan and setting contingencies in motion.”
“Bill’s too dangerous to engage alone, especially for you,” Richard continued. “Get your ass over here, sausage.”
Meanwhile, Bill pounded his fist on the door several times before shaking even more violently. The vibrating nexus of stench lunged forward at the door, and part of him seemed to phase through it. However, this did nothing, as he was suddenly rejected by the door and thrown back onto the stage. He let out a strange, dry-sounding shout as he sprung back to his feet and zipped out a nearby window. Nnam quickly broke his chair on the floor and took two of its legs before running over to the same window, peeking his head out just in time to see what Bill was doing; the humanoid toilet was, somehow, cramming his entire body into a pipe. It was quite small—only a little thinner than Bill himself—and yet, in he went, a sloshy, sucking, popping sound being heard from it. Nnam’s eye twitched in disgust as he ran out of the room to find an alternate route.
As for the mutton chopped-man, he was running through several well-lit hallways that were off-limits to non-personnel. The man was in a state of pure panic and confusion, and the only thing he could think about was getting away from this… thing, that had just attacked him. His foot stuck to the carpeted floor as he walked, prompting him to stop for a moment to check what it was. The man cringed as he got a whiff of some sticky material that had apparently gotten onto his foot—the same one that Bill had grabbed in the chaos. Shuddering, he pulled the shoe off and left it on the floor as he took off down another corridor.
“Well, Nnam’s gone off on his own,” said Richard. “That means we’ll need to act without him, and hopefully complete the operation and save his ass from whatever Bill does to people.” He turned to Cher and raised an eyebrow. “You’re running the show for the time being. Par and I need to stop Bill and get the bag.”
“Shouldn’t it be the other way around?” Cher suggested. “After all, I took on both of you and won.”
“This will require a bit of teamwork, and Par and I are best for that,” replied Richard, checking his otherwise hidden pistol. “Plus we know Bill’s tactics better and… to be honest, we’re a tad more subtle.”
“Have it your way,” Cher said, shrugging indifferently. “I’m here if you need me.”
“Just keep us informed and-“ Par began talking when suddenly, the lights went out. After about ten seconds of darkness, a couple of them turned back on, though they were dim and clearly running on very low backup power. “…Try to get the power back, for the cameras at least. If we can track down Bill and Mr. Preston, the better our chances of retrieving the bag.”
“Just follow the bodies and bad smells,” replied Cher, grinning.
“In Bill’s case, we’re going to try to lure him to one of the areas below this suite. Check the blueprints of the area and be ready to join the action when the time comes,” Richard instructed.
With that, Richard retrieved all of the forks from the kitchen’s silverware drawer, while Par opened the fridge and grabbed two cans of Hawaiian punch. They both put their respective items in the various pockets in their clothing before heading out.
There was cracking and tearing in one of the walls of the casino. Bill suddenly emerged, bursting through the wall and finding himself in a room containing a generator, which hummed as it sent emergency power throughout the casino. He immediately removed the vase from his head and took out the two tablecloths he had taken earlier, tying one of them around his waist and wrapping the other up into a turban, which he placed neatly on his head. He walked over to the generator and searched for a control panel, which he opened up before pushing random buttons.
“3.14159265…” Bill muttered with each button pressed, though none of them actually had any numbers on them. After a brief pause, he suddenly tore the control panel off the generator and started jamming random objects into it. The sound of machines breaking down was heard as the generator gave out, and all the lights went out again. Bill smiled before sniffing the air for a moment, then he walked through a door with the control panel in both hands. After about five minutes, he tracked his way to the casino owner’s discarded shoe, continuing down the same path as his target with a look of satisfaction on his face. A guard suddenly appeared around the corner, accidentally shining his flashlight in Bill’s face. The Stench Lord recoiled with a look of anger and disgust before continuing forward.
“Hold it!” the guard shouted, aiming the flashlight directly into Bill’s eyes this time. “God, you smell horrible. You must be the one making trouble.” He grabbed a walky talky from his belt of appliances. “I found him, guys—he’s in hallway E3 behind the stage. No idea how he got in.” After a long pause of Bill simply staring blankly at him, the guard looked downward. “Why’re you wearing a dress?”
“…This is not a dress,” Bill responded with a lisp. “This is a tunic. It was the height of fashion 3,000 years ago, I assure you.”
“Okay,” was the only appropriate reaction the guard could come up with. “Well, it’s not 3,000 years ago anymore—this is the 21st century, and there are certain laws that let me hold you until the cops arrive. Come with me.” The guard reached out to drag Bill away, but the latter instinctually batted his hand away.
“HOW DARE YOU!” Bill shouted, his breath forcing the guard to move his head away in disgust. “If you touch me again, I shall stench you right now! Do not touch me!”
“Sir, you started it all by attacking Mr. Preston. Now I have to have you brought in,” the guard insisted.
“This is a no touching zone!” was Bill’s response.
“That’s nice. Anyways…” the guard reached out again to grab Bill.
“Oh my GOD! I can’t believe you reached across like that again! I can’t even belie-“ Suddenly, Bill swung the severed control panel at the guard’s head. With a resounding clang, the security guard doubled over, unconscious. Stepping over the man, Bill continued down the restricted hallways of the casino, though complications with more locked doors forced him back into the plumbing.
Mr. Preston, the casino’s owner, felt his way through the darkened passageways, the bag’s straps wrapped around him securely. Terrified of Bill, he found himself shaking uncontrollably as he navigated by touch through the building, which had now become quite possibly the worst place he could be now. He was alone with a madman hunting him relentlessly, and his eyes were barely adjusted to the darkness the sewer dweller had brought forth. As he slid along the walls, he nearly tripped thanks to the complications of wearing a single shoe in his situation, but barely caught himself, letting out a sigh of relief. Suddenly, the vent next to him shook and crashed loudly, its cover springing out and clanging against the opposite wall. An all-too-familiar odor overcame Preston as a hand grabbed his coat, pulling him up against the ventilation shaft.
“Your debt is yet to be satisfied! One hundred smells of my armpit, as a start-ah!” Bill shouted in his fishlike voice as he repeatedly pulled Preston into the wall, slamming him against it over and over.
Though he was panicking, Preston quickly thought to toss the orange bag away so he could properly remove his suit coat, which Bill ended up dragging into the vent with a gurgling sigh. The man darted away from the shaft and snatched up the bag again, running at full sprint through a series of rooms. He ran into several walls, and always ended up crashing into a door before he could open it, but he successfully—albeit temporarily—evaded the stench of Bill. His security detail began to gather around with him, huddling up in the darkness with only their flashlights to give them somewhat of a visual.
Meanwhile, Richard and Par made their way down to the auction room, taking a moment to examine Bill’s victims. The bouncers he attacked were all either unconscious or dead, each one bearing a scrunched up look of horror and nausea.
“Well, at least Nnam didn’t get himself killed,” Richard commented as he climbed up onto the stage.
“Yet,” said Par, likewise getting on the stage and procuring a device of sorts. He inserted it into the lock on the metal door in the back, and after a few seconds the two of them heard a loud clicking sound. “Night vision.”
As if on cue, the two reached into their pockets and each put on a pair of sunglasses; their vision lit up in the darkened corridors, which were otherwise slightly illuminated by the moonlight going through the windows. Richard jiggled the doorknob and the door opened. On they went, taking the device with them. It only took about a minute or two before they found the security guard Bill had knocked unconscious not too long ago. He was just starting to get back up at this point, groaning in pain.
“Sorry, nothing personal,” Richard said as he clubbed the man over the head with his dropped flashlight, and the man was out cold once again. “Alright, be ready for anything. You know how Bill can be.”
“I’m more worried about Nnam shooting us in the middle of this mess,” Par muttered as he readied a can of Hawaiian punch and continued onward alongside Richard.
As this all happened, a man in a purple hoodie stood quietly in the streets, having watched Richard and Par walk through the auction room. After they disappeared through the stage door, he began walking around at a leisurely pace, stopping by the pipe Bill had burrowed into earlier. His face had a look of disgust, which only got more intense as he closed in on the pipe.
“Any tool of the Stench must be… freshened,” the man chuckled, procuring a simple room freshener and inserting it into the pipe. He didn’t dare to touch thing, though a sizzling sound could be heard as his hand got closer to it. Any filth or dirty liquid coming out of the pipe seemed to burn away, a faint purple cloud enveloping the area. Once the room freshener had been properly inserted, the man clenched his fist. “Metal pipe.” Immediately, it crushed inwards, sealing itself off from any further interaction from Bill.
“Oi!” a man’s voice shouted from behind. The hoodied man turned around immediately at an unnatural speed, throwing the other person off a bit. As it turned out, a police officer had arrived on the scene to check things out. “We got a call about a disturbance in the building. Would you know anything about that, sir?”
The hoodied man’s head turned to the side as he glanced back over at the casino. Then he looked back to the officer. “Yes.”
“Could you tell me about it? We lost communications with the place almost immediately after the call and we don’t know what to expect,” the officer asked. He eyed the man cautiously—something was off about him.
“It would take about a month to explain why that question doesn’t make sense,” replied the man, grinning. “There are things at work that you simply can’t understand, and you’re better off not trying.”
“You know… the phone call mentioned something about a guy attacking the place smelling of something wicked strong,” said the cop, putting one hand on his waist, specifically near his gun. “Though they said he smelled really bad.” He sniffed the air. “Eh, nobody in town likes that cologne anyways. I need you to come with me.”
“Because I think I got my guy,” the officer replied.
“Oh, but I’m not at all like the Stench,” the man laughed, as if he was waiting for the opportunity to say this. Every word was dripping with satisfaction and glee as he threw off his hood. “Some would say I’m the Reverse!” He posed, as if ready to attack… but instead he waited.
“Keith, we have a situation by the car. I think we-“
Suddenly, the Reverse Stench zipped forward, seizing the officer by the throat and pinning him up against the police cruiser behind him. He simply stared him in the eyes, though now his were starting to glow purple. Additionally, the man was now vibrating rapidly.
“In about two minutes, your partner will return here to find what’s left of you,” said the Reverse Stench, his tone sounding very informative as if he was speaking from memory. As he spoke, it became more and more distorted, developing a deep, ominous feeling. “He will call for backup and your fellow officers will arrive on the scene, but none of them fast enough to stop me or the Stench. They’ll lead him where I need him to be.”
“You don’t have to kill anybody, man,” the officer choked, trying his best to speak, but it was difficult with the man’s hand wrapped around his throat.
“Not killed, no. Freshened from the air,” the Reverse Stench replied, putting two fingers on the man’s lower jaw and pulling his mouth open. “Like this.” Immediately, the officer began coughing and choking, a purplish mist emanating from his nose, mouth, and eyes. After several seconds of struggling and distorted screaming, the officer was reduced to a shriveled corpse, which began to rapidly fall apart. The body—and the remains of his uniform—now had a purple hue to them, and the scent of countless different colognes and air fresheners filled the air. The Reverse Stench proceeded to hold his hand out to the police car. “Metal car.”
With the sounds of creaking and crunching metal, the vehicle very quickly collapsed in on itself, compressing into a perfect ball of metal. The Reverse Stench summoned it into his hands, then immediately sped away.
Preston leaned against a sink in his private bathroom on the fourth floor of the casino. He was constantly applying soap to his skin and clothes and violently rubbing the spots where Bill had grabbed him, trying to wash out the stench. About four guards were posted outside the door, and another had his gun pointed at the vents. One was inside the stalls as backup, meant to ambush any threats that made their way into the bathroom, which was quite large. As such, two more were patrolling the shower area, likewise keeping their eyes on the vents. After some time, sirens could be heard echoing from just a few blocks away from the casino.
“Finally,” Preston sighed with relief. “What’s this guy’s problem?”
“Sir,” one of the guards said, entering the section with the stalls. He came from the shower section with another guard, as well as a man with a dirty longcoat, though now it was turned inside-out to reveal a dark blue side to it. The man was clearly Bill, though he looked bruised now and had a pouty lip. Bill had also been double handcuffed, and there was a crack in his glasses.
“You got him?”
“Found him in the vents. Didn’t put up much of a fight—he was just sleeping,” the guard answered, kicking Bill in the shin. “He kept shouting about your bag, sir.”
“…Right,” Preston said blankly, looking down at the orange man-purse. “The police are gonna ask questions. What’s the body count at?”
“Ninety-two,” Bill immediately replied with a grin on his face. He no longer sounded fishlike, or scratchy, or lispy, but simply used a Danish accent, combined with sounding out his words as if for the first time. “And I’ll coat them all in my stench before long. I’ve waited a long time to take back the bag... and you have brought me very close to it.”
“Not happening, with my guys about to drag you over to the cops in chains,” Preston sneered as the guard who had been accompanying him walked up behind him. Aiming around Preston, the man pointed his gun at Bill.
“What guys?” Bill randomly asked.
Suddenly, there was a loud, sucking sound, followed by a ker-plunk. Water splashed inside of one of the stalls. Preston and his men immediately jerked their heads in the direction of the noise. The same thing happened in another stall, though a shout could be heard for a second before immediately being replaced with gurgling. Bill headbutted Preston in the face, knocking him into the guard behind him. Both Preston and the guard were disoriented from this, with the former leaning against a sink and sliding to the floor while the former attempted to shoot Bill. With unmatched speed, Bill swerved to the side and the bullet hit one of the guards. He began to laugh ominously to the tune of the Vandal Savage theme; “Ha. Ha, HAHAHA. HA. Ha, HAHAHA!”
A stall door opened up and a blur—followed by a trail of toilet water—slammed into the last guard behind Bill, dragging him out of sight. Shouting could be heard from the other side of the bathroom door. Bill lashed out at the final man—the one who shot at him—and twisted his gun around, pulling the trigger and forcing him to shoot himself. He pulled the bag away from Preston and slowly unzipped it.
“Guys, he’s in here!” the mutton-chopped man exclaimed, his eyes widened in fear. As he said this, the men stationed outside the door fell through the door, their faces twisted into an expression of horror and agony. A pungent smell—almost as bad as Bill’s—added to the collective odor of the room.
“Your men are dead-ah,” Bill said, his fishlike voice returning, “pulled under my armpits by my stench. Did their expressions not tell you that?”
“How did you do that? They were… they were right… what?!” Preston shouted in frustration.
Bill didn’t answer this question at first, instead examining one of his rolled-up tablecloths before pocketing it again. “Stink remnant.”
“…What?” was Preston’s only response to this.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Bill said in a monotonous voice, though it sounded like he was just quoting something from memory. With that, he swung the bag over Preston’s head and down the rest of his body, sending him into its vast space. “Let’s take a walk.” He then stumbled out of the bathroom, making squishy, fishlike sounds with his mouth as he did so. It was at this point that the sounds of more shouting could be heard as police officers poured into the same corridor Bill was in.
“Get down on the ground and put your hands behind your back!” several officers ordered, but Bill had other plans. Looking to the window beside himself, he saw police cars pulling into the casino parking lot. Without a second thought, Bill flung himself out the window, somehow landing on his feet, slamming into the pavement with a resounding thud. He didn’t seem to have any problem with this, as he continued to stumble forward before suddenly zipping through the barricade of police cars.
“WOT,” Par shouted in surprise as Bill fell past a nearby window, hearing the collision immediately after.
“Cher, he’s in the parking lot,” Richard said over his comms. “Get him!”
“He has the bag!” Par noted.
“I saw,” Cher replied over her communications device. “Already on it.” She had already gotten down to the first floor by now, and was running at a breakneck pace to get to the lobby. As she neared the exit, she felt something grab her, and was overcome with an overwhelming but pleasant scent as she suddenly found herself in the streets.
“Lost contact,” Richard growled.
“Guys, get the police scanner,” Par ordered over the comms. “Keep track of anything related to Bill. You’ve read the dossiers—you know what to look for.”
Meanwhile, Bill tore through several police cars, flipping them over onto each other and jamming his fingers up the noses of any officer unfortunate enough to be caught in his path. Two cops unloaded their guns on Bill, but the walking trash can easily dodged them, emanating a thick, green cloud and spurting green lightning as he spazzed out and appeared to be in multiple places at once. He sped into one of the officers shooting him, putting him in the way of one of the bullets, before grabbing the other and punting him into a random Asian bystander.
Suddenly, there was another gunshot, but it didn’t belong to the standard-issue pistols the police carrying. It came from a rifle of sorts, fired at long range, but that didn’t even matter. Bill was already standing next to the source of the shot, dropping a dart containing Nnam’s favorite cologne next to its owner: Mr. Nice himself. Bill grabbed him by his hair and held him up at eye level.
“Goodbye, Duckpants,” Bill growled in a deep, guttural voice. “You, too, were not fast enough.” He then breathed in Nnam’s face and tossed him into a random bush, then zipped away. Unfortunately, he caught a whiff of something… nice smelling. It could’ve been remnants from Nnam’s cologne for all he cared, but next thing he knew, he was no longer speeding through the streets. Instead, he tripped and flipped several times in the air as he, screaming in his dry, guttural voice, “flew” down an alleyway, colliding with the ground and rolling and flopping along it until he plopped against a building. A spark of green lightning shot off Bill, but he only slightly twitched. Spazzing out, Bill repositioned himself into a sitting position, leaning against the building with a wide-eyed expression. “Fresh…” he mumbled.
“Bill?” Cher’s voice echoed as she rounded a corner, seeing Bill leaning against the building. He simply smacked his lips in response. “Hey, it is you!” As she said this, she fake-smiled as she slowly walked over to the Stench Lord, who silently watched. “You alright?”
“I cannot be shot at like some training dummy-ah,” Bill groaned in his fishlike voice.
“Huh? Of course not,” Cher concurred, continuing forward.
“Rrrrauuuuuuuugh,” was Bill’s response to this, suddenly taking on his Bane voice. “Let’s not stand on ceremony here.” Bill slowly stood up and turned his coat inside out again so the tan side was on the outside again. He put it back on and held both sides of the coat. “Ms. Bitch.”
“What?” Cher asked, stopping in her tracks. She feigned a confused look.
“Theatricality and deception. Powerful agents to the unstenched,” Bill continued to babble, adjusting his footing. He promptly wrapped one of his tablecloths around his head, from his chin upwards several times and tied in front of his mouth. “But we are stenched, aren’t we, Cher?”
“Bill, what are you talking about?” Cher inquired, scratching her back. With the same hand, she reached for her concealed dagger.
“AND YOU BETRAYED ME-AH!” This time, Bill spoke in several of his different voices at once. “YOU AND DUCKPANTS!”
“Oh, Nnam,” Cher sighed. “Sorry about that, hon—we were just trying to get the bag back. Nnam went berserk.”
“And you brought him there?” Bill interrogated, his eyes staring intently into Cher’s. There was a level of discomfort that she wasn’t used to, even from Bill.
“It wasn’t supposed to happen,” Cher insisted. “That’s why I’m here—to fix things.”
“You panicked,” growled Bill, “and your weakness has cost the lives of-“
Suddenly, Cher flung her dagger at Bill. The blade embedded itself into the almighty stinker’s left shoulder and sank about halfway up to the hilt. Bill barely reacted to this, instead looking blankly at the dagger before marching forward towards Cher.
“We both know that I now have to stench you,” Bill declared. “You’ll just have to imagine the New Year!”
“Like you weren’t going to anyways,” Cher retorted, rolling her eyes. And with that, she lunged forward, feigning a punch to the jaw as she brought her foot up into Bill’s crotch. This did nothing, as Bill simply closed his legs around her foot and backed up immediately, pulling her off balance and forcing her to catch herself with her hands. Before Bill could do anything else, Cher kicked the hilt of her dagger, knocking the weapon out of Bill and sending it clattering to the side, then used her free foot to push herself away from Bill, her other foot coming free.
Bill instinctually began stomping the ground in an attempt to hit Cher, but she was too quick. She beat him before—she could beat him now if she played this right. Before Bill’s foot could make contact, Cher rolled to the side, towards her dagger, then swiped Bill with her leg to trip him. Snatching her blade, she brought it downward towards Bill’s other shoulder, hoping to weaken him enough to disable the threat he posed. Unfortunately for her, Bill caught the dagger with both hands and glared at her through his tablecloth mask.
“Booze has cost you your strength-“ Bill prepared to gloat again, but Cher headbutted him in the face to interrupt him. Still, Bill managed to pull Cher’s knife out of her hand and toss it away. Without really much to hurt Bill—who was clearly quite resistant to pain with his current personality—Cher sprung back up and dove for the knife, while Bill climbed back to his feet bolted after her. He arrived just in time for her to twirl around and sink the knife into the knot in the tablecloth, then she punched Bill in the face, causing it to slide around his face and cover his eyes. Bill began making robotic groans as she repeatedly stomped on his toes, eventually cutting the tablecloth loose in the process. Bill’s groans became shouts, like he was in constant pain without his mask on, then he charged into her, slamming her into a wall and repeatedly punching her in the gut and sides. This whole time, he was making more high-pitched moaning sounds, then he finally fell backwards.
“Who’s the weak one now, bitch?” Cher laughed, then took the opportunity to lunge forward at Bill again with her dagger out, but this time he batted her hand to the side and pulled the weapon from her grip, twirling it around as he shoved Cher down onto her hands and knees. When she attempted again, he caught her arm with his suddenly improved reflexes and twirled her around. With one arm wrapped around her neck from behind, he readied the dagger with the other.
“I am not a bitch, I am a force of nature,” Bill muttered, once again taking on the persona of Vandal Sewage, “a servant of stench. I BRING ABOUT THE ODAH! I’m sorry, Priestess Cher-ara.”
“The fuck?” was Cher’s input. Bill prepared to stab Cher with the dagger, but there was a sudden flash of purple and an overwhelming fragrance in the air, and Bill and the bag were gone.
Meanwhile, Bill found himself face-to-face with the Reverse Stench, who was grinning ear-to-ear and vibrating. The orange bag was dangling from a laundry line. They were in another section of the city, far from Cher and the others. Bill began to randomly speak in Egyptian as he marched towards the Fresh Lord.
“You are just as annoying this time as you are any other, Reverse Stench,” Bill said in English.
“I am merely fulfilling my purpose. Things that stink need to be… freshened,” the walking air freshener responded. “Might as well start with the source.”
“Blegh, freshness. How boring,” Bill growled, still twirling Cher’s dagger. “You think it’ll allow you to blend in and away from the stench? Stench will always exist. Now give the bag to me and I will make your stenching fast.”
“That’s not how it works, Billy,” replied the Reverse Stench, his eyes sparking purple for a moment as he spoke in a deep, distorted voice.
“Of all the noses I’ve stenched across the years… yours will be my favorite,” said Bill as he sprung forward with the dagger, but the embodiment of freshness simply darted out of the way, causing Bill to stumble and cleave through an entire railing on a nearby staircase. Ignoring this, Bill wheeled around with his other tablecloth just in time to catch a spear of metal hurled by the Reverse Stench. The Fresh Lord seemed to be pulling them out of nowhere as he flung each one at Bill, who kept tangling them in the tablecloth before slashing the other end of the railing. Brandishing the item like a staff, Bill started swinging it at the Reverse Stench, launching green, foul-smelling beams of liquid at him.
“You can do better than that, Stench,” the Reverse Stench laughed, zipping around the area before finally slamming Bill into a dumpster. Bill tapped the ground with his “staff”, causing the dumpster to swing open and fling forward at the Reverse, its contents flying out in every direction. The few bystanders who were nearby panicked as trash came raining down onto them, including a random Asian man who was hit in the head by a flying soda can. “Metal dumpster!” the Reverse exclaimed as he held his hands out, stopping the dumpster in mid-air right before it hit him, then sent it flying back at Bill. His smirk still on his face, the almighty freshener procured the ball of metal and zipped in a zig-zag formation towards Bill, eventually circling him while unleashing a torrent of pure freshness, as well as clubbing Bill in the head with the ball several times. In retaliation, Bill spun his “staff” around and embedded it into the ground, creating a green cloud that enveloped the entire street in an explosion of stench. Par, Richard, and Cher, in the meantime, were looking on in shock from a distance as Bill’s stink consumed an entire part of the city.
“That’s the spirit!” the Reverse Stench laughed. “You can’t stop me, Stench, and you never will.” With that, he began to zip around the area that was affected by Bill’s explosion of stench, conjuring up a massive cloud of purple freshness. “Perhaps you should’ve chosen a better personality.”
“Like this?” Bill’s guttural voice returned. “I… am Fuuuuuuuuuuuume.”
“…Wait,” the Reverse said quietly. “You can’t do that! You only get one personality per fictional universe!”
Bill simply grinned at this as he began wrapping his tablecloth around his head again. “Per show.”
However, neither Bill nor the Reverse were able to do anything at this point. First they found themselves exhausted, as if all the stench and freshness had been sucked out of the vicinity. Then they found themselves unable to even breathe. About two seconds later, they fell flat on their backs, their legs and arms spread and their eyes staring up into the sky blankly.
“At last,” a voice said calmly, though neither Bill nor the Reverse could quite place it. A thin-mustached man in a grey pinstriped shirt, a deerstalker hat, and a monocle rode into the area on a scooter, taking the time to insert a pipe into his mouth. He didn’t bother to light it, simply choosing to chew on the pipe. From Bill’s point of view, an arm had extended upwards and grabbed the orange bag from the clothesline, tugging it free effortlessly. The man then rode into view; his arms and body were far too short for him to reach the bag, and yet there he was, wrapping it around his arm. “Time to take this back to Ood,” he muttered to himself, continuing to ride the scooter before pausing beside Bill and the Reverse Stench, who were simply staring at him with the same blank expression. “Ah yes. Can’t have you hurting yourselves again.”
The next thing Bill knew, he was on the outside of some sewage pipe. He didn’t lose consciousness, nor was he moved by anything; he just seemed to appear there. He was now up to his chest in sewage, and he could once again move and breathe.
"...Ood?" the stinker asked, this time simply too stunned to make a move on the man. "On a scooter?"
"Yes, it's rather simple, actually," the man replied cheerfully, adjusting his monocle. "You see, on Ood, scooters don't move forward and backward, or side to side... but rather up and down." Suddenly, the man and his scooter began to descend... into the ground, or rather, a concrete walkway off to the side of the sewers. It was strange, even for Bill; the vehicle and its rider simply phased through the ground and disappeared from view, like a ghost going through a wall, or a scuba diver submerging themselves into water. Groaning, the almighty stinker slowly sank below the sewage and into the depths, a piercing expression of many, many mixed emotions now present on his face.