Weight Room Title Bar

The Munchies
By Augmentor

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I based this story on an animated TV commercial that some of you might remember from the '80s. It was broadcast on ABC on Saturday mornings as part of that network's "nutritional messages" series. The commercial was basically a warning against the consequences of oversnacking.

I scribbled out the basic framework of this story a few years ago but never finished it. I figured it was time to quit procrastinating on the weight-gain fiction, so I dusted off the story. I have to flesh this out a bit more (pun intended), but I wanted to post this rough draft just to see what y'all think.

Please feel free to e-mail me at highcalories@hotmail.com to let me know what you think!

- TJ a.k.a. Augmentor -

Part One

Feeling bored and blue, Sarah Weller plunked down in the futon in her studio apartment. Just a few months prior, she had had a great job, a serious boyfriend, and the promise of a wonderful two-week summer roadtrip with her two best friends. But that was all gone now. Now she was unemployed; the formerly prosperous Internet company for which she had worked had since gone under. Her boyfriend of three years, Paul, had dumped her, offering her only some lame, vague explanation about "needing his space." And Amy and Diana had both cancelled their plans for the long-awaited roadtrip...which may have been the most bitter disappointment in this series of misfortunes--the anticipation of the trip was one of the few things that helped keep Sarah's mind off of her recent bad luck streak.

Sarah still had not found steady work and held out little hope for finding another job that would be anywhere near as good as the one from which she had been laid off. But she had managed to save enough money to tide her over for a while, supplemented by her modest unemployment checks. With no back-up plans, Sarah had nothing but empty hours ahead of her.

For the past month, she hadn't done much of anything except putter around her apartment. Mostly she watched TV, as she was doing now. With the remote control in one hand and the other hand twirling a strand of her layered, chin-length, almond-colored hair, Sarah aimlessly flipped through the channels. (She used to chide Paul for doing the same thing; she wondered what he would think if he could see her now.) Sarah sighed dejectedly and restlessly switched positions on the futon. She surfed through old sitcom reruns, talk shows, and nature documentaries, and finally let the channel rest on an informercial for some kitchen gizmo. Her turquoise eyes, usually bright and shiny, were glazed and dull from countless hours of staring at the TV screen. Sarah began to zone out as the host enthusiastically demonstrated the grating, chopping, and blending capabilities of the wonder product.

Sarah's drowsy TV haze was interrupted as several shapes appeared in her line of vision. Sarah gasped. Alarmed, she sat up and found herself surrounded by six or seven squat, blobbish clay-colored humanoids. They looked rather harmless--comical, even--and they seemed oddly familiar somehow. She wondered, was it possible for someone to be so depressed that she started hallucinating? Or had she finally gone completely insane? She blinked, rubbed her eyes, and did a triple take...the creatures were still there.

But Sarah was neither crazy nor imagining things. The creatures were in fact Munchies, mischievous imps who delighted in making people fat. Sarah was the perfect target. With her boredom and blueness, she was susceptible to overeating, a weakness that the Munchies exploited to the hilt.

The Munchies had been doing their work on Sarah for months now. Using their special powers to make her munch when she wasn't even hungry, they had taken full advantage of Sarah's vulnerability. Now Sarah would mindlessly reach for snacks to fill herself up. At first, it was a piece of pie here, a candy bar there. But as Sarah became sadder and lonelier, the Munchies had more frequent opportunities to pile the pounds on her. They were only too happy to accomodate her new gluttony. On trips to the grocery store, Sarah would stock her cart with fattening goodies, scarcely realizing what she was doing. To top it off, Sarah's lifestyle had become almost completely sedentary. She used to work out conscientiously, but her motivation had dwindled, and she had gotten lazy. Her once-toned body had quickly gone soft and flabby. But Sarah barely seemed to notice the change that had come over herself.

If Sarah had a job, she would no doubt realize that her work clothes no longer fit her, but she preferred to wear baggy casual clothes for lounging around. Today she was wearing khaki cotton shorts--once several sizes large, now almost snug--and a once-oversized white t-shirt emblazoned with the logo of the gym where she used to work out.

The Munchies' modus operandi was always the same. They would appear whenever Sarah was sufficiently bored or feeling down; then they would proceed to stuff her silly. (Lately, that was every day.) She never remembered these incidents. After she had gorged herself into a stupor, Sarah would drift off to sleep. She would wake up flabbergasted by the empty containers and wrappers strewn around her, but she would dismiss her vague recollections of being fed by globular midgets as fragments from some ridiculous dream.

At this moment, the Munchies appeared very real to Sarah. She was now staring wordlessly at her unexpected visitors. They wasted no time on niceties.

"It's time for you to start munchin'!" said one of the little creatures.

"But I'm not even hungry!" Sarah argued.

"Here, munch this!" said one of the blobby little creatures, thrusting a large bag of potato chips at Sarah.

"B-But I don't want these!" she said. Sarah feebly tried to resist but found her willpower too fragile. No sooner had she spoken than then she found her hand reaching into the bag. She began stuffing chips into her mouth, crunching greedily.

"And there, munch that!" said another Munchie, handing her a can of cheddar cheese dip to go with her chips. Sarah popped open the can and scooped up heaping amounts of cheese on each chip. Within minutes, she had polished off the entire bag and was licking the very last dollop of cheddar cheese dip from her finger.

"More! More!" said another one of Munchies. He handed Sarah the phone. Before she knew what she was doing, she had placed an order for a large cheese pizza. The Munchie whispered something in her ear. "Better make that two. Extra large. With the works," Sarah told the order taker. "Oh, and can I get a side of bread sticks to go with that? And a two-liter of Pepsi, please."

An hour and a half later, Sarah lay on the futon, the empty pizza boxes on the floor beside the half-full Pepsi bottle. She rested her hands on her distended belly, moaning deliriously. The Munchies had watched the entire spectacle with delight, egging Sarah on and applauding with each slice she had devoured.

"Dessert?" said one of the little creatures.

"Noooooo..." groaned Sarah. "Please...I've had enough...I feel like...like I'm gonna explode..." Her shorts were tight and cutting into her waist. Just as she reached down to unbutton them, one of the Munchies grabbed her hand and began to pull her out of the futon. Then the others quickly gathered around, giggling and chattering, and lifted her up. "Hey! What are you doing?!" Sarah protested. "Where are you taking me?! Put me down!" She struggled briefly, but she felt her body go slack and realized that she was powerless. They carried her to the kitchen, and set her down in front of the refrigerator. Immediately, the little creatures opened the fridge door and began to grab food off of the shelves.

One Munchie handed her a piece of chocolate cheesecake, a leftover from an earlier binge a couple of days before. "Too much," mumbled Sarah. "Too..mmmmmmmmmm," she trailed off, her cheeks bulging with cheesecake.

"Atta girl!" said the Munchies.

"Here, have some of this!" said another Munchie, handing Sarah a spoon and pint of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. "No no no no no no no!" protested Sarah, as she tried to wave them away. But the creature insistently held out the container to her and Sarah relented. "Noooooo...I can't...I can't..." said Sarah, even as she opened the container.

"Shhhhhhhhhhh," coaxed the Munchie. "A little ice cream will make everything all better." Sarah helplessly began shoveling spoonfuls of the ice cream into her mouth, despite her overwhelming fullness. But her belly was nearing full capacity, and as Sarah neared the bottom of the container, she swallowed each successive spoonful more slowly and with increasing difficulty. At last, she choked down the last remaining spoonful, and set the empty container and the spoon down on the counter with finality. A little rivulet of melted ice cream dribbled from her lips.

Part Two

At 6:30 one Monday morning, Sarah awoke to the sounds of her rumbling belly. She had barely eaten for two whole days, and she was starving. After many weeks of half-hearted diet-planning and failed attempts to cut back on snacking, she finally had made up her mind to quit junk food cold turkey. And what better way to recalibrate her eating habits and self-discipline than through a weekend of fasting. But the first thought that popped into her mind this morning was doughnuts. Her stomach groaned loudly. She could just taste those freshly baked, wonderfully warm confections from the shop down the street...jelly, chocolate, creme-filled, glazed. She chided herself aloud, "NO! No doughnuts! Only healthy food from now on!"

Sarah had resolved to make a new start. She was going to get out of the apartment more often, get back in shape, find a new job, get her life back on track. She had decided that her weight gain was just the physical manifestation of the bad luck that had plagued her for the last few months. Now she was ready to get on with her life. She figured that once she started moving forward with her plans, the extra pounds would gradually disappear, and with hard work and a strong will, she'd soon be restored to her old self.

After a few moments of lying around and formulating a mental itinerary for the day, Sarah rolled herself out of bed and headed for the shower. Ever since that humiliating moment weeks earlier when she had burst out of her shorts, Sarah felt every pound of her weight. Now, everytime she showered, she felt hyper-aware of her enlargement. As the water cascaded over every inch and bulge of her body, Sarah lathered herself up and felt squishy layers of fat where there once had been toned muscle. She wasn't used to this feeling; she felt like a stranger in this overweight body of hers.

After she had stepped out of the shower and toweled herself down, she studied her figure in the mirror and clicked her tongue despairingly at the corpulent version of herself that she saw reflected back at her. She turned to the side and examined herself in profile. It struck Sarah that her ass stuck out like a giant mushroom, her tits looked as though she should be nursing quadruplets, and her stomach pooched out like a ball of dough. She grabbed her lower abdomen with both hands and squeezed a ring of blubber. "Oh god, I'm so fat," she sobbed. "Fat, fat, fat!"

She brushed her almond-blonde hair, realizing that she hadn't gotten it trimmed in a couple of months. She decided that she would let it grow until she lost some weight. Her old hairstyle, layered and medium-length, would now make her rounded face look much too wide. She could hardly believe how pudgy her cheeks were now, and when she tilted her head slightly downwards, her double chin was clearly visible in the mirror. Sarah sighed loudly. "I have to get thin again, that's all there is to it," she said to her reflection. From the looks of herself now, she could barely believe that she was once petite. It would take quite a deal of effort to undo all the extra poundage.

Sarah got dressed in the baggiest clothes she could find--in other words, the only clothes that would fit her anymore. Today, those happened to be an oversized white t-shirt and a part of black sweatshorts. Then she grabbed a notepad and a pen from her desk, sat on her futon, and began to jot a list of all the things that she wanted to accomplish today: take a long walk, renew her gym membership, stop by the health food store. She also reluctantly added to the list a task that she was not so eager to do, but which needed doing: buying temporary "fat clothes."

But at this particular moment, she knew that she wouldn't have the energy to do any of those things until she got some breakfast in her stomach...something to tide her over. She decided to go to the supermarket to pick up a quart of orange juice and maybe some lowfat yogurt or Nutri-Grain bars.

Unfortunately for Sarah, the doughnut shop happened to be en route to the supermarket. "I'm just going to drive right past," Sarah said. "Just drive right past." Even as she said this, she found herself making a left into the doughnut shop parking lot. Sarah thought she heard giggling in the back seat, but when she turned around to look, no one was there. "There I go again...hallucinating," she said. "Lack of food, probably."

She got out of the car and hesitated, wondering why she was so weak-willed as to stop at this place. She turned to get back in the car, but felt as though she were being pushed toward the door of the doughnut shop. She couldn't resist. "I'll just get a whole-wheat bagel," she assured herself.

But inside, Sarah was overwhelmed by the warm aroma of fresh baked goods that wafted around her. Her mouth watered as she got in line. When it was her turn to order, Sarah summoned all of her willpower. "Just a whole-wheat bagel, no cream cheese," she said to the cashier. A few seconds later, she recanted. "No...wait...better make it one of those Bavarian Cremes..."

Before she knew what she had done, Sarah had also picked out eleven other doughnuts, for an even dozen. She felt self-conscious; she was sure the cashier girl was thinking she was a total glutton. In fact, Sarah was sure the girl had a self-satisfied smirk on her face as she rang Sarah up. But Sarah knew that when she was thin, she probably would have done the same thing if she had seen someone making such a hog of herself. The cashier was dark-haired, tanned, slim, and pretty...probably a high-school girl working a summer job. Sarah wondered whether constantly being surrounded by all those fattening treats would eventually take its toll on the girl's figure. She wished she could somehow warn the cashier about the dangers of munching, but she realized that any comment like that would seem entirely out of place. Sarah just stood there quietly and paid, smiling nervously.

Sarah couldn't wait to get back to her apartment. It was all she could do not to tear into the box right in the car, but she restrained herself and drove home without touching the doughnuts. She had forgotten completely about the "healthy breakfast" that she had intended to buy at the supermarket.

Once inside her apartment, Sarah momentarily had second thoughts about this decidedly unhealthy purchase. She felt a stinging sense of embarrassment that she had succumbed so easily to the temptations of sugar, grease, and dough. She sat down on her futon, clutching the box of still-warm doughnuts.

"Hiya, Fatso!" said a voice to her left. She turned to see who was talking to her. She was startled to see a gang of squat, blobbish humanoids in her apartment, but the creatures looked oddly familiar. Of course, Sarah couldn't remember her previous encounters with the Munchies, albeit they had visited her many times. It was always as though she were meeting them anew. The Munchies had the power to erase Sarah's memory of their visits; they left added pounds as their calling card.

"Those doughnuts smell delicious!" said one of the Munchies. "A perfect fat-fest! Dig in!"

Sarah opened the box on her lap. Her hands were trembling. "Oh god, what am I doing," she said, as she reached for a powdered jelly doughnut. "I'm supposed to be on a diet."

"One little doughnut couldn't hurt," the Munchie assured Sarah.

Sarah held the doughnut in her hand ambivalently. "No," she said. "I won't eat this."

"C'mon," said the Munchie, jiggling Sarah's paunch. "A growing girl like you needs a good breakfast to start her day."

"No!" protested Sarah. "I know what you're doing. You're trying to make me bigger. Well, it's not going to work." She put the doughnut back in the box and closed the lid.

The Munchies frowned. They began to chant in unison, "Munch! Munch! MUNCH! MUNCH!"

Sarah felt her willpower melting like butter. She reopened the box. The Munchies were egging her on. Sarah tried to resist, but her hand moved almost magnetically toward the doughnuts, as though she weren't even in control of it. "I'm not going to!" she cried. But she couldn't hold out any longer. At last, she grabbed the jelly doughnut again, and shoved it into her mouth, biting it in half. After a few chews, she popped the other half into her mouth.

The Munchies laughed and applauded. "Bravo! Eaten like a true fat girl!"

Sarah tried to say something, but the Munchies shushed her. "Don't talk...EAT!" they said. "Have another doughnut!" No sooner had Sarah swallowed the last bite of the jelly than she accepted a double-chocolate doughnut from an attendant Munchie. She devoured this doughnut almost as quickly as she had the last.

Sarah licked the powdered sugar and melted chocolate from her fingertips and took a deep breath. "That's it. That's all I'm having. I can't eat the rest."

"Oh no!" said the Munchies. "You've just started!"

"No...I'm finished...that's all...no more...I'll get GIGANTIC if I keep eating like this!"

"That's the idea!" said the Munchies.

Sarah struggled to get up but found that she couldn't. One of the Munchies shoved another doughnut under her nose. It was apple-cinnamon. Sarah swiped the doughnut from the Munchie and began chomping.

"Here munch this, and pretty soon...you'll blow up like a balloon!" sang the Munchies.

"No! Stop!" said Sarah with her mouth full, her cheeks bulging with doughnut.

The Munchies took turns handing out the doughnuts. Sarah tried helplessly to refuse; her flabby arms jiggled as she tried to shoo the Munchies away. They just laughed and continued to tease her.

"There munch that! It's no surprise, you're getting huge thick thunder thighs!" they sang.

"Please," pleaded Sarah. "Why are you doing this to me? Leave me alone!"

"It's our job!" said the Munchies.

"But I'm already fat! Look at me!" yelled Sarah.

"Not quite fat enough," said the Munchies. "You could still stand to gain a few more pounds!"

"No! No! I'm too fat as it is! I don't wanna be any fatter!" sobbed Sarah. "I don't wanna..."

The Munchies shut her up by popping another doughnut into her mouth. "Here munch this! Now guess what? You've got a great big blubber butt!"

Sarah winced as she looked down at herself and noticed her billowing haunches bulging out beneath her, stretching her sweatshorts. Yet she felt powerless to do anything except munch away. Her pace was slowing, however, and as she worked her way throught the box, she ate more and more slowly, breathing heavily after swallowing each bite. At last, a single doughnut remained: shredded-coconut-covered.

"Please don't make me finish the whole box," Sarah pleaded. "Please...aren't I fat enough?"

"Awwww, what kind of attitude is that?" said the next Munchie. "You already ate eleven...what's one more? Look at that poor little doughnut sitting there all by itself...doesn't it look lonely?"

The whole gang of Munchies gathered around Sarah. "Open wide!" they said.

"I can't! I can't!" said Sarah, shaking her head.

But Sarah's mouth opened reflexively as the Munchies held up the last doughnut. They goaded her until she forced it down, bite by bite. She moaned her disapproval but kept on chewing in spite of herself. "I don't feel so well," Sarah groaned, after she had swallowed the last piece of doughnut. She felt dizzy and enormously bloated.

"Watch a little TV and relax a bit, take it easy. You need to rest up. That'll give all those calories time to turn to pure fat!" suggested a Munchie, handing her the remote control. Sarah happened to flip to a daytime talk show. She stretched out on the futon, resting her hands on her distended stomach. She tried to concentrate on the program...it was all she could do to distract herself from the aching fullness of her belly.

The featured guest on the TV talk show was the author of a new diet book. The hostess was talking with some women who had lost many pounds and had successfully kept off weight with the diet, which they lauded as "revolutionary" and "incredibly easy." Sarah made a mental note of the author's name.

"You don't wanna watch THAT," said the Munchies. "Watch something else instead." They switched the channel for her.

"Hey! Put that back on! I was watching that!" said Sarah.

The Munchies played keepaway with the remote control. "If you want it, come get it!"

Sarah didn't have the energy to grab the remote control back. Besides, it hurt to move. She tried to recall the title of the diet book or the name of its author, intending to add the book to her list of things to get, but she found that it had slipped her mind already. Sarah zoned out to music videos instead. After the post-sugar-buzz crash, she dozed off, and the Munchies sneaked away.

Sarah's doughnut-induced torpor gave way to a series of bizarre dreams, most of which involved eating. She woke up wondering what she was going to have for lunch. "Ugh...why can't I stop thinking about food?" Sarah wondered aloud as she looked at the clock. It was already after 2:00 P.M.

Sarah was furious at herself for wasting the entire morning and a good portion of the afternoon. She wished she had adhered to her bright-and-early start. It seemed too late to start doing anything now. She decided that she might as well take it easy for the rest of the day, since she had accomplished nothing and no longer had the incentive to do much.

Sarah grabbed a small stack of magazines and paged through them. As she read, she came across an article about self-motivation in one of her women's magazines. She was struck by several of the guidelines suggested by the author: "Don't punish yourself" and "Don't try to get rid of your bad habits overnight---start by making small changes in your lifestyle."

Sarah had an epiphany. She realized why her weight-loss strategy was not working: She had been trying to make the transition too quickly from overeating to restricted eating. Her body was rebelling against a newly imposed calorie limit. She figured that must have been why she had polished off an entire box of doughnuts this morning. The feeling of being deprived had led to the binge.

So, she decided to try the opposite. Tomorrow she would give herself a guiltless "free day," to eat whatever she wanted. In fact, she would deliberately overindulge. She would have a final food jag, one last spree before she began her diet in earnest. She reasoned that she could eat so much junk food that it would become distasteful to her, so she wouldn't crave it again. Sarah was aware of this paradoxical effect. She had heard stories of kids who were caught smoking and whose parents made them smoke an entire pack of cigarettes in one sitting, so they'd never smoke again. She figured it would be worth a try with food.

Sarah felt a burst of enthusiasm. The prospect of an entire day in which to eat anything without worrying relieved her, and she was sure that it would give her a newfound determination to carry through with her plan to lose weight. She got her notebook again and began to compile a list of all the treats that she would buy from the store....

Part Three

"Just a temporary setback," Sarah tried to assure herself one Sunday afternoon as she polished off the remainder of a batch of chocolate cupcakes that she had baked the night before. The Munchies watched with delight as Sarah popped the last cupcake into her mouth, her chubby cheeks puffing out and her double chin rippling as she chewed greedily.

"Now don't be wasteful," said one of the Munchies, handing Sarah the container of leftover chocolate frosting. Another Munchie dumped the last of a bag of peanut butter cups in front of her. Sarah unwrapped one after another and dunked them one by one into the frosting, and when she had finished off the last one, she swirled her finger around the edge of the frosting container, making sure to get every last bit. For the chaser, she gulped a tall glassful of whole milk.

And all this was merely the "dessert" to her lunch, which had been a triple helping of macaroni and cheese and a whole loaf of foccacia bread smeared liberally with butter. It was the eighth time in three weeks that Sarah had gone on "one final binge." She was trying not to become completely discouraged, but she realized that if she kept stuffing herself at this rate she would never get back down to her former size.

In just the few months since she had let herself go, Sarah had lost the ability to restrain herself around food. It was difficult for her to even imagine that there had been a time not very long ago when she ate low-fat meals in sensible portions. This was perhaps the most fiendish aspect of the Munchies plot: They had made Sarah forget how to be thin. Sarah wracked her brain trying to recall how she had ever managed to eat in moderation. But now she had no idea how to do so.

Even after so many setbacks, however, Sarah didn't abandon hope that she would shed the extra weight. She recently had bought a workout videotape, figuring that she'd try to lose a few pounds on her own before rejoining the gym. In fact, she regularly woke up early to work out to the tape, but every morning she met with the same results: She would become winded just several minutes into the routine. She wasn't accustomed to exercising as a fat girl. Gravity had taken its toll, and Sarah couldn't get used to the sensation of her boobs, butt, and paunch weighing her down, bouncing heavily with every movement she made. So she would shut off the tape, huffing and puffing, and help herself to a big breakfast, convinced that she had at least worked off a few calories. Then she would go back to bed.

Despite her attempts to slim down, Sarah had succeeded only in getting fatter, and the pounds were piling on faster than ever. Her figure had rounded out significantly. Sarah's whole body was now insulated with soft layers of blubber. Her hips and buttocks had widened considerably, her thighs rubbed together when she walked, and her abdomen positively bulged.

She had bought new clothes just a couple of weeks ago, albeit in the smallest size that she could still fit into. She was embarrassed by how many sizes she had gone up, but she refused to accept the possibility of further weight gain. She hadn't counted on outgrowing her new wardrobe, as she was doing already.

The last time Sarah had stepped on a scale, she had been so taken aback by her new weight that she had resolved right then and there to rid her apartment of all but healthy foods. And in fact, for a few moments she was prepared to throw out every last morsel of junk food in her apartment. But at last she thought better of it. It seemed such a shame to waste perfectly fine food that she had paid good money for. She finally amended her intentions: She would finish up whatever treats were left, at a reasonable pace--a nibble here, a sampling there--and then, whenever all the junk food was gone, she would buy no more. Sarah figured that if she rationed herself, her cravings wouldn't be so intense.

But there was never an end to it. The Munchies always made sure that Sarah bought goodies from the store, so there was always one more cake to be eaten, or one more pint of ice cream, or one more candy bar. The Munchies had even tricked Sarah into stuffing her face AND making her think that doing so was the necessary first component of her weight-loss program.

Now Sarah groaned as she pushed herself away from the table. She felt the tightness around her waist as her bloated belly strained against the fabric of her pants. "Dammit, I just bought these jeans!" she yelled, noticing that her flab was pooching well over the waistband. The Munchies snickered as Sarah tried to suck in her paunch to no avail.

The meal had made Sarah drowsy. She didn't want to fritter away the afternoon, but she was suddenly overcome by torpor. She waddled to the futon and unbuttoned her jeans, sighing with relief as her belly bounced free. As she sat down, her belly billowed out into two large rolls with another tiny roll just beginning to form beneath her breasts. She grabbed the remote control, turned on the TV, and flipped through the channels for a bit before letting the channel rest on PBS. She sat through several cooking shows and found herself growing a little hungry again just watching them. She leaned back and held her engorged belly with both hands.

When Sarah recovered from her post-binge languor, she looked at the clock and sighed with frustration. It was already 3:00 in the afternoon, and she hadn't done anything all day except eat and watch TV. "So much for getting an early start," she reprimanded herself. She lazed around for a few more minutes, then decided that since the day was mostly shot anyway, she would take care of her grocery shopping.

She stood up and tried to rebutton her jeans, but she was still bloated. She put on her newest pair of shorts, which were slightly baggy by design and the only thing that she could still fit into fairly comfortably. She brushed her hair, clipped it up, and left the apartment.

At the Super Value Supermarket, Sarah reminded herself that she ought to buy healthy foods, but they all seemed so unappealing to her. She found herself instead almost magnetically drawn to the snack aisle, the ice cream freezers, and the dairy case. Aside from essentials, she filled her cart almost entirely with goodies. Sarah swore to herself that this was her last splurge before she found a new job. Her money was getting almost as tight as her clothes, and she needed to budget herself better.

Sarah proceeded to the checkout line and waited to unload her items. She absent-mindedly leafed through a tabloid; then she happened to glance up. Her heart quickened and she could feel herself blush: There, in the check-out line next to hers, was her ex-boyfriend, Paul. He was far enough ahead of her in line that he probably couldn't see her. The woman being rung up in Paul's line had coupons and was writing a check; but Sarah's line was moving pretty quickly. Sarah thought about backing out of line, but there were already people behind her. As her line moved forward, she found herself almost directly opposite Paul. Sarah kept her head down, desperate not to make eye-contact. She held the tabloid up closer to her face. She was so eager not to be seen that she didn't notice the person ahead of her had again moved forward.

The man in line behind her cleared his throat. "Ma'am. Ma'am!" he said. Sarah turned around. He pointed to the conveyor belt, indicating that Sarah could put her groceries there now. As she put the tabloid back onto the rack, she noticed Paul glancing over at her. He did a double-take.

Sarah quickly unloaded her cart. She was so nervous, however, that she fumblingly knocked a bag of cookies off of the conveyor belt and onto the floor. She bent over to pick it up, then straightened up with embarrassment as she realized that she was calling undue attention to her enormous butt. She tugged and straightened her t-shirt and brushed her hair behind her ears with her fingers.

"Sarah?" she heard Paul say from the next line. She pretended not to hear, but her face felt hot. She tapped her foot nervously as the cashier scanned and bagged the groceries for what seemed to take forever. As soon as she paid and the grocery bags were loaded back into her cart, Sarah waddled as fast as she could out of the store, making sure not to look at Paul even as he craned his neck to catch her attention.

Sarah quickened her pace until she got to the car, by which time she was out of breath. She threw the groceries in the trunk, then waited in the car, curious to see whether Paul would look for her. Some minutes later, Paul emerged from the store with a befuddled expression on his face. He scanned the parking lot, but he didn't see Sarah. Sarah watched from her car, her heart racing. She felt giddy, angry, and embarrassed all at the same time. She wished that she could talk to Paul, but she knew that it would be too awkward.

Sarah had hoped that Paul wouldn't recognize her now that her hair was longer and she was so much heavier than the last time he had seen her. But since she was wearing shorts, he had probably noticed her tattoo on her right ankle. And her ear was pierced seven times on her right ear...Paul would have recognized her by that as well.

Sarah returned to her apartment, put her groceries away, and plumped down on her futon. She couldn't bring herself to do much of anything except mope. Sarah couldn't believe that Paul had actually seen her...like this. She knew it was only a matter of time until all of her and Paul's mutual acquaintances would hear about how fat she had gotten. She had hoped she could lose the extra pounds before anyone would be the wiser, but now she realized that was a pipe dream. It was no longer a matter of dropping a couple of extra pounds. She was fat, and it would take some really serious effort to be thin again. Sarah was now beginning to think that it would be close to impossible to ever be as skinny as she once had been.

Though she had barely exerted herself and hadn't done much of anything all day, Sarah just wanted to nap. After lounging around for a while, Sarah fell asleep. She was interrupted a couple of hours later by the ringing of the telephone. The cordless handset was across the room. Sarah dragged herself off the futon and stumbled to the phone. She was afraid it might be Paul, but the built-in Caller I.D. indicated that it was Amy--one of the two friends with whom Sarah was supposed to have gone on a roadtrip over the summer. Amy lived out-of-state. She and Sarah had met in high school and had been best friends ever since. They had both taken jobs in other cities after college, but they kept in touch and got together as often as they could.

"Hi, Amy," said Sarah groggily.

"Is everything OK? You sound out of breath."

"Yeah, fine. I just woke up."

"Napping at 6:00? It must be nice."

"Yeah yeah yeah," Sarah replied with mock indignance. "Well, it's good to hear from you."

"Long time, no talk. So what's going on?"

The two friends caught up. Sarah explained to Amy about her post-breakup depression, her procrastination in finding a new job, and the general slump she had been in for the past several months. She mentioned nothing about her weight.

"Listen, I'm going to be in town soon," said Amy during a pause in the conversation.

"You are?! When?!"

"In three weeks. You want to meet up with me?"

Sarah was eager to see her friend, but immediately she began to worry: What would Amy say about her size? Amy was a fitness freak who had to work very hard to maintain her weight. Sarah had a feeling Amy would be disappointed in her. Sarah considered formulating an excuse about not being able to meet up with Amy, but she decided against it. She wanted very much to see her friend, and the fact was that Amy was going to see her fat whether she liked it or not.

Sarah took down all of Amy's flight information. She made plans to pick up Amy at the airport on the evening of Amy's arrival.

Sarah also took the opportunity to broach the subject of her weight gain. "There's something you need to know. You won't recognize me. I'm fat now."

Amy laughed. "What, you mean you gained like two pounds? C'mon, how bad can it be?"

Sarah sighed, "No, I mean it. I'm really fat now."

"You, fat? Yeah, right. I'll believe that when I see it. You've always been tiny. I'm sure you're exaggerating."

"Well, you'll see. Don't say I didn't warn you, though."

"Whatever!" scoffed Amy.

She changed the subject, and the two friends continued chatting for another hour. Sarah enjoyed the conversation and hung up the phone with a smile.

When she had gotten off the phone with Amy, Sarah read for a while, tidied up her apartment a bit, and then turned on the TV again. Then she began to think about seeing Paul at the store earlier in the day. Soon Amy was going to see her as well. Everyone was going to know what a blimp she was!

As Sarah sat there worrying, The Munchies, as they had so many times before, arrived on the scene to offer her solace with food.

"Go away!" said Sarah, vaguely recalling that the little imps were responsible for her present situation. "I'm already as big as a house!"

"We just want to make you feel better!" said the Munchies.

"You just want to make me feel fatter is more like it," snapped Sarah, crossing her arms defiantly. "Well, I'm not falling for your little tricks anymore."

"C'mon, a snack is exactly what you need," coaxed the Munchies.

"NO!" yelled Sarah.

"Just a little something to tide you over," said another Munchie.

"Absolutely not," said Sarah.

Ignoring her spurnings, the Munchies gathered around Sarah and began to lift her up. "Oof!" they exclaimed, their pudgy arms straining under her weight. "You're so huge we can hardly lift you!"

"Put me down! Stop!" said Sarah, trying to push them away, but the Munchies were already carrying her to the kitchen.

Despite her protests of moments earlier, Sarah unwrapped a pound cake that she had bought from the store that afternoon. She set a knife and a plate on the table and took a quart of chocolate milk from the fridge.

She paused and tried to talk herself out of it. "What am I doing?" she said. "I can't eat this! I'll..."

But the Munchies pushed her down in the chair. Sarah sat stubbornly for a minute, determined not to give in.

"You can't hold out much longer," teased the Munchies. And they were right.

With a sigh of resignation, Sarah cut a slice of pound cake and dipped it in the chocolate milk. She swallowed it in two bites. Then she immediately had another slice, and another, and another, until the cake was gone. The Munchies encouraged her, cheering and whistling.

"Room for more?" said one of the Munchies, tearing open a bag of cookies in front of Sarah.

"I really shouldn't," she said demurely.

"Nonsense!" replied the Munchies.

"I'll just have one," she consented.

"Eat as many as you like," said the Munchies. "We won't mind!"

One cookie became two, two became four, and before she could realize just how full she was, Sarah had finished the entire bag and swallowed the last drops of chocolate milk. The Munchies applauded Sarah on a job well done.

Sarah sat for a few minutes in disbelief, wondering how she had managed to stuff herself again even though she hadn't been the least bit hungry. She had no idea how she could have been so easily persuaded by the mischievous blobs, and she was disconcerted by her lack of willpower.

The Munchies gathered around Sarah and lifted her up again, carried her into the living room, and lay her down on the futon. One of the Munchies hoisted himself atop Sarah's enormous paunch as though he were climbing a hill.

"Hey! Cut that out! Get off of me!" scolded Sarah.

"What a nice, soft, gigantic gut you have!" teased the Munchie. The others laughed and patted it as well, giggling as Sarah's flesh jiggled.

"It's not funny!" yelled Sarah.

"Sure it is!" said the Munchies. "It's hilarious!"

The Munchies broke out in song. The Munchie that straddled her enormous tummy began to joggle up and down to the rhythm. Sarah watched helplessly as her blubbery belly bounced in time with their chant.

Hello, Sarah, how's it going? Glad to see that you're still growing!
You're bigger than you've ever been! Remember back when you were thin?
You had such a tiny waist--far too scrawny for our taste!
You were thinner than a rail; you looked so underfed and frail.
But we had lots of tricks in store. You're not so skinny anymore!
When we first met, you were bored and blue. So this is what we did to you:

We made you munch, bite by bite. You munched until your clothes got tight!
We made you munch, you couldn't stop. You munched until your buttons popped!
We made you munch, you couldn't quit. You munched until your seams all split!
We made you munch, you couldn't cease. You munched until you got obese!
We fed you cookies, cakes, and pies, pizza, chocolate, shakes, and fries.
We fed you candy bars and sweets and lots of other fattening treats.

You put on pound right after pound; we made you flabby, soft, and round.
And you kept overindulging; now you're positively bulging!
All day long you stuffed your face. Now we've put you in your place.
You used to be thin and athletic. Sorry we're not sympathetic.
And we won't apologize for more than doubling you in size.
Your metabolism's out of whack; you'll never get your figure back.

You had your chance, now it's too late! We're glad we made you overweight!
So goodbye, Sarah, it's been fun. But it looks like our work here is done.
We've got other folks to visit. But it's really not so bad now, is it?
You're done with counting calories; free to eat as much as you please.
Stop worrying about your figure. You can go on getting bigger.
We did our job; we're proud of that! You're permanently BIG and FAT!

At this the Munchies cheered and guffawed as they took turns patting Sarah's blubber. Sarah just lay there languidly, feeling like a beached whale....