Round 2 - DNash
"Good lord!" exclaimed Malone, choking on the foul smell that was suddenly rising from the pond. He gagged and stumbled back a step. His foot caught on a rock, and he sat down hard in the cold water.
Veronica would have laughed if she hadn't been trying so hard to control the nausea the swept over her. She dropped the blouse she was scrubbing and stumbled toward Ned who was just beginning to rise. One hand still over her mouth, she reached out the other and hauled Malone to his feet.
Challenger met them at the water's edge. He'd wisely tied a large handkerchief over his nose and mouth, leaving both hands free to help them out. "Here," he said, his voice slightly muffled by the cloth. "It's not so bad over here."
The three scrambled to where Challenger's new invention stood and the air was considerably fresher. All three took a moment to regain their breath.
Roxton approached the trio, an inquisitive look on his face. "What's going on?" he asked. Then the wind shifted and he caught a whiff of what had sent his compatriots gasping for air. He wrinkled his nose in disgust.
"It's coming from the pond," Veronica finally choked out. She glanced back over her shoulder toward the pool, and her eyes widened. It was no longer its usual clear blue color, but a murky reddish brown. "Marguerite's going to be mad." The three men eyed her curiously. "I left one of her blouses back there."
"Any idea what that smell is?" asked Malone. He'd finally gotten his breath back, but the vile scent seemed to cling to the insides of his nostrils. He sneezed.
Roxton looked at him. "Well, at the moment," he replied, "you."
The younger man looked up from where he sat on the green slope of ground. "Huh?" He took an experimental whiff and cringed. "Great," he muttered. "I'm wet, I stink, and our pool isn't going to make me or my clothes any cleaner."
"Good thing we have my auto-washing tub in that case," declared Challenger, not one to let the opportunity to tout his newest invention pass.
The others tried not to roll their eyes. If the thing worked it would make all their lives easier. If it didn't at least they wouldn't be any worse off than they were now.
"That might clean the clothes," admitted Malone, "but I'm sure as hell not climbing in that thing myself." He rose and stood there, dripping and annoyed.
"Of course not." Challenger was genuinely surprised at the suggestion. "You're much too heavy for it. It would be damaged."
At that moment, an impatient Marguerite appeared from the direction of the Treehouse. "Anyone want to explain why you lot are all lolly-gagging while some of us " She glared at them and corrected herself. " one of us is trying to get some laundry done? I'm waiting for you, you realize. I can't--" The dark-haired woman stopped her small tirade abruptly. Her eyes widened and she suddenly looked as if she'd bitten a persimmon. "My god, that smell! Ugh. Who died?"
Veronica was still staring in the direction of the pond. She pointed a lithe, graceful arm in the direction of the water. "He did."