It Stinks! By Joshua Scribner

Hello, Mr. Broker. My name is Alias Rankin. I’m your court appointed attorney.”
“How lucky for you?”

“Well, I won’t lie. Defending you will bring a lot of attention to my practice. The media is all over the case ever since you were caught.”
It Stinks!
It Stinks! By Joshua Scribner

“I wasn’t caught. I turned myself in.”

“The police report said—”

“The police lied. I walked up to those two cops, told them who I was and let them take me in. That doesn’t really matter that much, though.”

“I don’t suppose it does. Turning yourself in sometimes gets an accused person leniency, but with your crimes and the overwhelming evidence—”

“I didn’t turn myself in for leniency. I don’t want leniency. I don’t need it.”

“So why did you ask to speak to an attorney?”

“Well, I would have rather have spoken to the press, but they won’t let me. The only people a dangerous criminal like myself is allowed to speak to at this point are the cops or an attorney, and I’d don’t trust the cops.”

“I see. Why the press?”

“Because I have a story to tell, and I want others to hear it, before it’s too late.”

“Well, I’m bound by attorney/client privilege.”

“I’ll sign what I need to. You can tell anyone who will listen.”

“Fair enough.”

“You want to turn that recorder on?”


“Good. Here’s what happened. My wife was an employee at that hospital. Because of that I had privileges there at the hospital gym.”


“So I’d go there after work and lift weights. I didn’t much care for the gym. They did physical therapy, and I didn’t like working out around all those old and lame people. But it was free, so I went there anyway.”


“Well, one day I walked in and there was this horrible stench. I don’t know how to describe it other than to say it was stale, maybe like a dusty old house, but more concentrated.”


“Well, I could tell where it was coming from and looked to see what it was. And it was a person. And it wasn’t one of those old farts either. Nah, this woman was probably in her thirties, and she was kind of attractive, but she was one of those women who wouldn’t look you in the eye, like she was afraid you might start talking to her.”

“She worked there?”

“Yeah. She was one of the physical therapist or one of their assistants, I think. Anyway, she made you feel like you were some kind of sicko, just because you were a man near her. I’m sure you know the type.”

“I think I do.”

“Well, I moved away from her about as quickly as I could. I couldn’t handle that terrible stench. And it was kind of weird. It wasn’t like it should be, like the further I got away the less I could smell her. No. It was there one second and gone the next. And it was replaced by another scent.”

“By your expression, it was a scent you enjoyed.”

“It may have been the best smell in the fucking world. It was sort of vanilla like, but with a wild additive.”


“And it too had its source. I turned and saw this other chick that worked there. She was pretty too. I mean, she was a little on the chubby side, but not bad, and she had a kind face. And she’d been friendly to me sometimes.”


“Well, yeah. I have a muscular build. I’m actually a bit overly muscular by some standards. But some women really like it. But women aren’t like men. A man sees a woman he likes and he wants that woman all the time, at least until he’s had her once or twice.”


“But women see a man they want and they want him sometimes.”

“You thought she wanted you?”

“Well, I thought she wanted me at first. But later, I was certain of it.”

“Are you okay? You seem uncomfortable.”

“Yeah, well. We’ll get to that. You see, I moved around that gym a lot, very curious. And the women there had various scents, some good, some bad, some somewhere in the middle. But no smell was as good as hers. And it was one of her more friendly days. She kept smiling at me.”

“Sounds like you zeroed in on her.”

“Yeah. Her scent was addicting. I kept having to be around her. Wherever she went with her client, I was working on a machine nearby. And then, when she left, I followed her.”

“You followed her?”

“Yeah. I did. This was not something I’d ever done. I’d actually never done anything that close to it. But I just wanted that scent. I don’t know if she was heading on break. Or maybe she just had a little time between clients, but she walked right out onto the lot. I followed her to her vehicle. She started to get in and then turned to me. ‘Can I help you?’ she asked. But she didn’t look afraid. Her voice and her expression were inviting.”

“Are you sure you’re okay. You seem really uncomfortable. You look a bit disgusted right now.”

“Don’t worry about it, not yet anyway. Anyway, I said to her, ‘I think so.’ Then I moved into her and kissed her.”

“And she went with that?”

“For a little while. Then she stopped me. But she told me to get in her vehicle. And there we made out and we touched each other a lot. We both admitted to the other that we were married, but we kept messing around. Then she said she had to go, but we arranged to meet later. We did, and we fucked. It was incredible. That scent was there the whole time.”

“And after that?”

“After that, she was interested in more. We would have done more, but then the other shit went down too soon.”

“You mean what you did later in that gym?”

“That and other things. Let me go on with it.”

“By all means.”

“It was the very next day. I’d just gotten off the work. I was on my way to the gym. As you can imagine, I was excited to go there. I wasn’t sure what would happen with Lori, that physical therapist. But I had to stop off at the gas station. I was filling up my car, when I smelled it. And it was a strong scent, strong enough that it smothered out the smell of gas.”

“What was it?”

“You ever smelled carnage, Mr. Rankin?”


“Yeah. Something dead.”

“Well. Yeah. When I was a kid, my family and I came home from vacation. The cat had gotten sick and died. It must have been dead for several days. It was a horrible smell.”

“It was like that. It was that putrid, sweet smell that makes you want to puke. And it didn’t make sense, but I could smell where it was coming from. The way I was perceiving odors had become like how a person perceives sights. I saw a young woman, probably not even adult, come out of the store. Pretty young thing. And just like I could look at her red hair and say it was the source of the red I saw, I could smell her from several yards away and know she was the source of the smell. And it was still there when she got in the driver’s seat of her car.”

“You could still smell her even though she was in the car?”

“I could smell her even after she drove away. It was like I’d somehow just gotten better at smelling certain things.”

“So what did you do?”

“Well, I hated that smell. But I was very curious as to why I was smelling it. I got in my car and followed her.”

“Did she see you?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

“How long did you follow her?”

“Well, until it happened?”

“Until what happened?”

“Until one of her tires blew out and she lost control of the car. I watched that car swerve into oncoming traffic. I watched it swerve back and hit the embankment. And she hit it hard.”

“So what did you do?”

“I pulled over and got out. I ran up to her car and looked inside. Someone had beat me to her, though, some woman. She was checking the young woman’s pulse. It seemed a bit unnecessary at that point, though. The way that girl was crushed between the steering wheel and the metal of the crushed hood, she was clearly dead. And maybe the weirdest thing about it was that the smell of death was gone now. She was dead, but there was no smell of death.”

“That is weird.”

“Well, the police came, and I told them what I saw. I didn’t tell them what I had smelled.”

“I would imagine not.”

“I’d bet you can also imagine that I was a bit freaked out at that point. And I felt guilty too. Seeing someone die like that really makes a person appreciate their family more. At least, that was how I felt for a while. I felt terrible for having cheated on my wife. I skipped the gym. I went home to my family. I ordered some pizza and we watched a Disney movie. It was a pleasant night. But it was the last one we’d spend together.”

“So the next day?”

“Yes, Mr. Rankin. It was the next day that the big shit went down. This is the part everyone will be interested in.”

“I know I’d like to hear it.”

“Okay. Well, those feelings of guilt. They were up against other feelings.”

“You were horny?”

“Yes. And horny won. The next day I went to the gym. I was just walking in when I smelled it. It was the worst scent yet. You ever hear a noise so annoying and so loud, it’s like it shakes every part of you and you have to get away from it?”

“Sure. My wife used to have a blaring alarm clock. I wanted to smash that thing with a hammer.”

“Yeah. Like that. But this was a scent. I took it in my nose, and it was sort of piercing. It hurt to smell it. And I could see where it was coming from. There was this guy in there, a patient. He was a young guy, but it was hard to tell how young, because he had a thick beard like one of those rednecks on that duck show. A physical therapist was working with him. He was strapped to a nautilus machine and was walking slowly backward, like maybe she was helping him recover from some kind of leg injury. Well, I did what was instinctual, I guess. I got out of there.”

“But you went back?”

“You know I did. Because it was like moving away from him only made the smell grow. Yet somehow, I still knew it was coming from him. And it was maddening. It was torture. And I remembered the girl. Her smell had gone away when she died. And I knew I had a choice. Either I got rid of him or I got rid of me.”

“And you chose to get rid of him.”

“Yes. But you have to understand. I was not in a normal state of mind. I was in a tortured state of mind. And I was pissed.”

“So you turned around?”

“I never made it to the parking lot. I went back to the gym. I walked right by that guy en route to the free weights. I grabbed a 25-pound disc. I moved up behind him and spun around like a discus thrower. I cracked him right in the back of the head. He fell to the floor. His trainer screamed and moved away. Her client was out on the floor. But I knew he wasn’t dead. I knew, because I could still smell him. Those plates only went up to forty-five. But the dumbbells went up to a hundred. I grabbed one of those instead. I walked back up to him. By this time, there were other people screaming and shouting. I dropped the dumbbell on his head anyway. I heard it crack. I saw it come open, saw the blood. But he still wasn’t dead. A man charged at me. I think he was one of the physical therapist or one of their assistants. He was a fairly big dude, but I was still in a fit of rage. I caught him turned my hips and tossed him. He landed on the floor. Before he could get up, I kicked him right in the face. I heard the crack of his nose. He cried out stayed down. I picked up the weight and dropped it again on the head of the foul smelling patient. That one must have done the trick, because I couldn’t smell him anymore.”

“Could you smell anything else?”

“I could smell a lot. And it was kind of amazing. There were all these scents, but they didn’t come like a mixture. It was like I could separate them in my mind. By that time, there was an alarm going off. There was a PA announcement telling people to leave the building. Security was on the way. At least, I was pretty sure it was security. I could smell them getting closer. They smelled like smoke to me. The scent gave me a sense of urgency. There was one direction their scent was not coming from. The scent there was good. It was sweet, and in a good way, like baking cookies. I knew that was the way I had to go. I went to the back of the gym, where there was an emergency exit. There was an alley, a short stretch of grass and then woods. The scent came from the woods.”

“Did you keep following the scent?”

“That scent and others.”

“And you were able to evade the cops for months.”

“Yes. With ease.”

“The man you killed in the gym. Do you know what they found out about him?”

“Yes, the scents led me to many safe places. Sometimes these places had tvs or computers. I was able to follow the news. I found out what you found out. His name was Ronnie Harold. He had ties with various white supremacist groups. Explosives were found in his apartment. It looked like he was planning some kind of attack.”

“But you didn’t know that before you killed him?”

“Not at all. I’d never even seen him before.”

“Do you consider yourself some kind of savior? Do you think you were led to him for a reason?”

“No I don’t consider myself some kind of savior. I killed him for selfish reasons. I killed him because the olfactory torture had made me out of control. And I do think I was led to him for a reason. I know it.”

“But he’s not the only one you killed.”

“No. I killed more. I killed whoever repugnant odors led me to, but only if that scent was lingering. I didn’t kill a person who smelled bad if I could simply move away and not smell them anymore.”

“But some of the people you killed were innocent.”

“Yes. But no. They were innocent. But they wouldn’t always be. They would have been corrupted eventually. I’ve taken out killers and future killers.”

“How do you know they were future killers?”

“It was their scent. It was different. It had a sort of distant feel to it.”

“How can a scent have a distant feel?”

“I can’t describe it to you, because you couldn’t even imagine what it’s like. It’s just that I got better and better at smelling things. I can tell the difference between a killer and a serial killer. I can tell the difference from a man who killed someone a year ago and a man who will kill people five years down the line.”


“As real as the explosive they found in that man’s apartment. As real as the body parts they found in another man’s.”

“William Vester?”

“That would be the one.”

“Okay then. I think I have enough.”

“Enough what?”

“I think I have enough to build a case. There was no chance I was going to show reasonable doubt that you were guilty. Security cameras recorded your first murder, for crying out loud. You left prints and DNA at all the others.”

“Yeah. Well, I wasn’t too worried about being caught.”

“I see.”

“What’s so funny?”

“So if you were so certain you were killing future murderers and such, and you were so sure you’d never get caught, why would you turn yourself in?”

“Well. I think there was some kind of plan for how the world was to go. I think a guy like me and probably others around the world were here to sort of help it along in that direction.”

“I see.”

“No. You really don’t. The thing is, all the scents went away. Then there was only one. And it’s been growing. Actually, it’s been accelerating. And it rendered pretty much anything I could do or had done null and void.”

“How’s that?”

“There it is.”

“There what is?”

“It has sort of climaxed. I hoped there would be time. I hoped by getting the word out, maybe someone would know something that could be done. But it’s too late now.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Well, I know you can’t smell it. But listen for a little while.”

“What I don’t . . . Oh.”

“There they are.”

“They’re probably just testing the civil defense sirens.”

“Testing. I don’t think so. That’s not what I smell.”


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