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Old 12-16-2014, 10:53 PM   #26
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oouuuu... very good
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Old 12-17-2014, 08:44 PM   #27
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Chapter 10

A thick binder of work assignments waited for Raleigh on the coffee table. It was a project for the internship and it needed to be done by Monday. It was Saturday evening now and she hadn’t touched it.

She had spent the past few days moving back in, sticking to her diet, and trying not to believe in ghosts. She’d promised herself she’d burn through it over the weekend, but Alan’s ghost hunt had already consumed most of Saturday.

Raleigh gave the binder a sidelong glance, angry at herself for procrastinating, but still couldn’t get herself to feel productive. She was feeling hungry, though; Alan’s sandwich had awakened her appetite.

The diet shakes weren’t going to cut it. She tossed the binder up on the kitchen counter and there continued to wait, untouched, while Raleigh made her way to the food co-op for a grocery run. The journey was a slow one, as the snow was growing heavier and the winds fiercer.

Rory was at the register, of course. It was as though he knew in advance the random hours at which she’d shop and somehow scheduled his shifts accordingly. He smiled at her as she shook the snow off and waited patiently while she filled her cart.

“Hey,” he called as she passed the register on her way to the dairy aisle, “they’ve got a deal today. Spend twenty bucks, get a free oven-ready pizza.”

She rolled her eyes—pizza was the last thing her diet needed—but when she returned to check out there were two large pizzas sitting atop all her other items. She frowned at them, unsure how they’d gotten in there.

“I hear you had Alan check out the house,” said Rory, ringing her out.

Raleigh eyed him. She had sworn Alan to secrecy. “Figured it might set my mind at ease.”

“And is your mind at ease?”

“Dunno. He didn’t find anything. But I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.”

“A mystery.”

“Yep. Speaking of which, Mr. Detective…I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”

His eyes brightened. “Hm?”

“The first time I came in here, you knew my name.”

“Uh, yep,” he admitted, taking her credit card.

She narrowed her eyes. “How.”

He scratched at the back of his head. “It was, uh, on your credit card,” he finally replied, handing it back to her.

She accepted it and held it up for him. “Yeah, see, but this is my mom’s card. It doesn’t have my name on it.”

Rory smiled politely and cautiously handed her the receipt.

“Kinda creepy, your sleuthing,” she concluded. “Makes me a little suspicious. If I find out you’re the one who’s been messing around with my house…”

He threw up his hands, incredulous.

She glared at him, shook her head, and pushed her cart out the door.

The snow had grown even heavier, with angry winds blowing thick flakes to and fro. It was the kind of overwhelming snowfall that slowed the whole world down and left everyone in it sliding around blind.

The radio announced it to be the worst so far that winter; with that, the quaintness of winter was gone. In the Midwest, what begins in November and December as a sparkling, magical wonderland of snow becomes in January and February a harsh reality of relentless precipitation and miserable, often dangerous cold. Raleigh, who had finally thought herself adjusted to winter, now shuddered and shrank as it plunged to new depths.

Her car only made it halfway up the driveway before losing its traction and sliding awkwardly to one side. She gave up there, unwilling to shovel, and hauled her groceries inside.

The work binder was still waiting, shaming her. But next to it on the counter was a sheet of ratty, cracked paper: the painting of the young woman she’d found earlier.

Raleigh froze, grocery bags in hand, gaping at it. Perhaps Alan had brought it up while packing away his equipment.

She dumped the bags on the countertop, turned on the oven, sighed at the old painting, and launched herself back outside for the rest of the groceries.

The snow was even heavier and the wild winds were whipping up all the white already on the ground. Raleigh could barely see the driveway from the front door and each step through the storm seeming increasingly treacherous.

The wind slammed the car door on her backside while she reached in for the two pizzas. For the first time, she was thankful for the extra padding on her butt. Turning around to glare at the door, she spotted something in the distance.

There were shapes in the falling snow. They were difficult to discern—just small areas where the snow seemed to be falling around something. Silhouettes in the snowfall. Figures. People?

“Hello?” Raleigh called. Her shout disappeared in the wind. She couldn’t hear it herself.

They were large figures. Round, wide. A man and a woman, it seemed. Holding hands, waving kindly at Raleigh.

Raleigh tentatively raised a hand to wave back, but a huge gust tore across the driveway, knocking her flat. Looking up and wiping the snow from her eyes, she found the woman’s shape alone, the man gone.

And the woman’s shape was smaller now. She was shrinking, thinning. She reached a hand toward Raleigh, palm open, pleading. A lone snowflake traced an arc across her palm.

The scar on Raleigh’s palm grew hot and a sharp pain hit her stomach. She doubled over as a pained cry was carried to her ears on the wind.

She caught one last glimpse of the woman’s shape in the snow. It was impossibly slender and contorting, still reaching desperately for Raleigh. Another gust blew through, then she, too, was gone.

Raleigh staggered to the end of the driveway, eyes searching for the shapes, only to fall pathetically into a deep snowdrift.

There was no sign of them, no tracks in the snow. In the place where they’d stood, though, Raleigh found her red scarf half buried in the drift—it must have blown off her neck at some point.

She blustered back into the house and had just enough strength to dump the rest of the groceries on the counter before collapsing.

“I can’t believe people live up here willingly,” she moaned from the floor.

She threw one of the pizzas in the oven and looked at the mountain of groceries she’d piled up on the counter.

“Fortunately, this should be enough to survive being snowbound for a few weeks.” She shuffled to the bathroom and began stripping off her snow-soaked outerwear. “And hey, if we’re snowbound, I’ll have plenty of time to finish that stupid assignment.”

The binder continued to wait patiently on the counter, just visible through the bathroom door. But the more she thought about getting started on it, the less she wanted to get started on it.

The more she tried to look at the binder, the more she instead found herself looking at the portrait beside it. Stepping out of the bathroom, she picked up the painting for a closer study. She rapped her knuckles on the table, entranced by the painted woman’s frightened look.

Raleigh looked back and forth from the portrait to the end of the driveway outside. She lowered the painting, hands shaking, and gazed up at the ceiling. She leaned forward against the edge of the countertop, exhausted; her gut squished up against it and crinkled the old paper.

“Okay, Raleigh,” she whispered, “these are probably thoughts we shouldn’t entertain. But…” She bit her lip and looked down again at the portrait’s desperate eyes. “…if we’re understanding this right, she needs our help.”

A fierce gust rattled the windows. Raleigh shook her head.

“Of course, it’s more likely that I’m the one who needs help. Serious help, if I’m really gonna start taking all this seriously.”

Behind the roar of the wind came a faint cry, plaintive.

“Oh, fuck it. Okay. Okay. Ghost, spirit, whatever, you are…” She took a deep breath. “…tell me how to help.”

The wind settled for a brief moment, just long enough for Raleigh to hear her stomach rumble.

She sighed. “Alan did say to recreate the scenario…augh, shit, this is so dumb.” She located the second pizza, unwrapped it, and slid it into the oven under its mate. “Look, stomach, we’re gonna break the diet just this once, to try and put this ghost business to bed. Then it’s got to be back to moderation and…” She glanced at the binder. “…back to work.”
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Old 12-17-2014, 10:58 PM   #28
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wicked good
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Old 12-19-2014, 12:41 AM   #29
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Fantastic! Your stories are always so engaging and well-written. Can't wait until the next installment!
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Old 12-19-2014, 06:35 AM   #30
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Chapter 11

The blizzard’s full force could be felt even in the basement. The house above was shaking in the wind as though shivering with the cold. Tree branches slapped and scraped at the walls and windows. Savage howling sounded through the poorly sealed glass and the doors whistled a warning tone.

Raleigh tried to ignore it all. The storm outside wasn’t half as frightening as the prospect inside of a real ghost.

She wasn’t sure how best to approach it or what it might expect from her. Clearly she needed to make a better impression than last time—screaming and scrambling away in her underwear probably wasn’t the best way to introduce herself.

Thus she stood before the old table in the little basement room dressed in a nice skirt and a button down blouse, with the red scarf still around her neck for good measure. The two pizzas sat steaming on the table between her and the portrait of the young woman.

“Uh, hi,” Raleigh stammered politely to the room, “I made dinner.”

The storm continued upstairs, but there was no response.

“I want to make up for last time. It was really sweet of…of you and I’m sorry for, uh, getting scared and leaving. I guess that was pretty ungrateful of me.”

She waited several minutes, standing there awkwardly, but no ghost appeared. There came no response at all, although her stomach’s growling steadily increased in the presence of so much pizza.

“Okay. Oh man. I can’t believe I’m doing this.”

Raleigh slid into her chair, took a deep breath, and bit into a slice of the first pizza.

A gust of wind slammed into the house, shaking light fixtures and rattling decorations. Raleigh put it all out of her mind and forced her attention onto the pizza: she had suddenly lost her appetite. The bizarre hunger that had been lingering under her skin since moving in suddenly evaporated and the last thing in the world she wanted to do was take a second bite of the pizza.

It was a relief, in a way, and she set down the slice. Was she cured of whatever had ailed her? Maybe she could just go back upstairs, finally free to work on her assignment.

But the portrait of the young woman continued to gaze from across the table, that desperate pleading in her eyes.

Raleigh bit her lip. “Fuck it. I don’t know who you are or how the hell this is supposed to help you, but let it never be said that I passed up a chance to help someone in need.” She picked up the slice, folded it over, and shoved the whole thing in her mouth.

Another gust hit the house. Somewhere upstairs, something fell off a wall.

“Fuck you, winter,” she growled through a mouthful of pizza. “Quit trying to scare me. I’ve made up my mind.”

It never quit, though, and raged on as she forced her way through slice after slice. Decorations fell from the walls upstairs. A standing lamp toppled over; later Raleigh could hear glass breaking. Sirens began to wail outside.

None of it mattered. There was pizza to eat and in time Raleigh had systematically devoured the entirety of the first pie.

She swallowed the last bite with a wince and slumped back in the chair. Her bloated stomach was already pressing against the buttons of her blouse. She made some room for it by unbuttoning her skirt and sighed as the bottom roll of her gut spilled out.

She glanced wearily at the second pizza, shook her head, and pushed her chair back from the table. Massaging her food-baby, she shut her eyes and belched mightily. When she opened her eyes again, the young woman was sitting across from her at the table.

Raleigh froze, breath caught in her throat. She could feel herself pale and fought the urge to run screaming again.

The woman sat silent, waiting.

Raleigh heaved herself to her feet, the bottom of her muffin-top hanging out from under the blouse.

“Hello,” she said slowly, palms spread, “my name is Raleigh.”

The woman didn’t respond, but followed Raleigh with her eyes.

“Um, okay, look, I’m pretty lost on what’s going on. But here we are, I guess. And as scary as all this is I figure…uh…I figure we’re roommates, in a way, so maybe we should get to know each other. Um, hang out, I guess.”

The woman still didn’t respond.

Another burp bubbled up in Raleigh. She stifled it, but the woman broke into a smile.

“Excuse me. Uh, yeah. And look,” Raleigh continued, embarrassed, “if you’re in trouble or something, let me know what I can do to help. I’m here for you. I mean, let’s…let’s be friends?”

The woman stood suddenly. Raleigh instinctively took a step back, but caught herself.

The woman, eyes locked on Raleigh’s, slowly crossed the room to her. Her movements were elegant and graceful, as though she were walking underwater. Her blonde ringlets fluttered in a nonexistent breeze. Her frail slenderness was visible beneath an ethereal silk gown; she was uncomfortably thin, her ribcage and hipbones easily discernible, her stomach concave.

She stopped right in front of Raleigh, close enough to embrace her. The wind outside roared in a sudden fever, but went ignored.

As the woman stood there, the bottom half of Raleigh’s blouse suddenly unbuttoned itself. The woman reached a translucent hand out toward Raleigh’s exposed food baby.

Raleigh began to protest, but the gravity of the moment overruled her. There was something mesmerizing in the woman’s eyes, something that assured Raleigh that everything would be alright if she would only open herself to trust.

Her pizza-filled belly poked out between the flaps of the blouse. The woman opened her palm, the crescent scar not only visible but faintly aglow. She inhaled sharply with the thrill of anticipation and delicately traced an arc in the softness above Raleigh’s navel.

Raleigh felt the fingers brush her and flushed. Everything tingled, then her senses began to shut down. The last thing she saw was the woman’s smiling face; the last thing she heard was her own voice whispering the name, “Heloise.”
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Old 12-19-2014, 01:30 PM   #31
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very good and funny
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Old 12-19-2014, 11:28 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Sulla View Post
Color me interested.
Got enough of that hue for two? I sure hope so. . .
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Old 12-20-2014, 08:18 AM   #33
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“You went over there?” asked Rory in disbelief.

Adam spread his palms. “Hey, she called me. She wanted me to check things out. It was daytime and I had an actual invitation, so it seemed a lot safer.”

“Ah, of course.” Rory shook his head and returned to shoveling.

“And I had my equipment with me this time,” Adam continued, leaning on his shovel. “I was prepared for anything.”

“And what was it you ended up being prepared for?”

Adam threw the shovel over his shoulder. “Nothing, as it turns out. I couldn’t find a damned thing.”

“That’s encouraging.”

“No, it isn’t. And you know it, as much as you want to deny it.”

Rory stopped, jamming his shovel in a snowbank.

Adam glared at him. “When we went over there with Scarlett, you felt something. Maybe you even saw something.” He poked at Rory’s chest. “You’ve been stubbornly ignoring your spiritual sensitivity for years now, but that night something got through to you and it was strong enough that you had to admit it.”

Rory grimaced.

“So we already know there’s something in the house. So my not being able to find it with my detection doesn’t mean there’s nothing there…it means that whatever is there is something we haven’t seen before. And that worries me.”

A snowplow growled past them on the street. The plow scraped across a layer of ice, never finding the pavement of the road. Now that they were in the thick of winter, that layer of ice would remain there, growing thicker and harder-packed until the spring thaw.

“I had a vision,” Rory confessed. “While Scarlett was in the house. I haven’t had one in years. I thought it was something weird I grew out of. But lately I’ve been picking up on facts I shouldn’t know and thoughts I shouldn’t hear…and when we were at the house I guess I picked up on a dream, or a memory, or something.”

“What was it?”

“I don’t remember much. I’ve been trying to piece it together. Nothing really happened, but it was…quietly powerful. We need to be careful and make sure we know what’s going on before we try to do anything.”

”But we do need to do something, Rory. Raleigh could be in serious danger.”

Raleigh was in serious discomfort. Painful pangs of pressure emanated from her churning stomach. Indigestion and heartburn smoldered in her throat. Her back ached from sleeping in an awkward position in an awkward place. Her head throbbed horribly, every little sound assailing her ears, and when she wrenched open her eyes the streaming sunlight seared her vision.

It took her a while to regain something approaching consciousness. She didn’t remember falling asleep, or even going to bed, or most of what had transpired prior.

As her eyes began to adjust—however reluctantly—to the sunlight, she rolled her head from side to side to see where she was.

She was in her kitchen, or the mess that had been her kitchen. She was lying sprawled on the dining table, one hand between her thighs and the other resting atop the most engorged gut she’d ever felt. She was stark naked except for the red scarf around her neck.

Plates, bowls, dishes, glasses, and bottles surrounded her on the table, all emptied save crumbs and dribbles. Looking across the room to the counter, she could see evidence of a great deal of cooking: most of yesterday’s groceries had been opened and ravaged.

“Holy shit,” she groaned.

She pushed herself into a sitting position. Her head swam and the pressure behind her bleary eyes increased.

“Holy shit,” she repeated, rubbing her temples.

There would be a lot of cleaning to do. It looked like a pack of raccoons had torn through the kitchen, scarfing down something from each grocery bag and hurriedly moving on to the next, sampling a little of everything. But a little of everything had added up to quite a feast.

She couldn’t possibly have consumed it all on her own, she tried to reassure herself. Her body—however much it may have grown in the past few months—couldn’t possibly contain such quantities. But the throbbing in her bloated stomach argued otherwise. The pizza sauce dried across her thickened thighs, the grape jelly smeared across her broadened gut, the icing speckled across her bouncier bosom, and the powdered sugar lingering around her lips drove the argument home.

Raleigh carefully eased herself off the table and onto her feet. Her thighs wobbled and her belly suddenly felt so heavy it threatened her balance. She clutched it and held it up a little, afraid of how its mass would fall if she were to let go.

Though swollen taut, her midsection still felt soft and pliable in her fingers. It was strangely inviting.

Shaking her head, she plodded to the bathroom. Each step took extra effort and care; her legs felt so lethargic and her head was still aswim. Balancing herself against the sink, she took a deep breath, bit her lip, and stepped onto the scale.

“192,” it read.

“Holy shit,” she whispered. She’d put back on all the weight she had lost and then some. In one weekend.

She looked at the mirror in horror. The glazed-eyed version of herself that stared back was a bloated, disheveled, flabby mess, with thighs that rubbed, love handles that squished against her forearms, breasts that hung with a new heaviness, and the beginnings of a second chin.

A long, hot shower woke her up a bit more and allowed her time to calm down a little. Shapes fluttered into form in the billowing steam; the dancing, smiling figure of the ethereal young woman.

Raleigh tried to ignore it. When the shower was over, she tried to ignore the face that appeared when she wiped off the mirror. She stubbornly wrapped herself in a towel—feeling its softness stretch in embrace across the softness of her midsection—and headed back into the kitchen.

She was afraid to put on any clothing. The possibility of having already outgrown her new wardrobe weighed on her mind. She meandered absently around the kitchen, unsure where to start cleaning.

The work binder nagged her from the far corner of the counter. She cursed, having utterly forgotten the assignment. With a ragged sigh she stomped over and picked it up. She winced and flipped it open to see just how vast a landscape of work remained for her to do in what little remained of her weekend.

The binder was full of writing. Raleigh’s own writing, supplemented by several sketches, diagrams, and notes in the margins.

She turned through the pages in shock, eyes growing steadily wider. The whole assignment had been completed, even the optional extra tasks.

“Holy shit,” Raleigh breathed. She stepped back, glancing over to the basement door, one hand on her stomach. “Was this you?” she asked the house loudly. “Is any of this real?”

There was no reply, but the writing was real enough, as was her food-baby.

“If it is, well, ah, thank you, I guess. I can’t believe what I’m saying, but, maybe you’re friendly after all?”

“There’s no way this thing is friendly, man,” Adam hissed on the other side of town.

Rory, tired of arguing, sat quiet on the couch.

“You need to go back,” Adam decided. “See if you can learn anything more.”

“Or make things worse.”

“We’ll have to take that risk. We need information. But yeah, go when it’s safer. During the day. With an invitation.”

“Ah, right,” Rory mused. “I’m sure she’ll be all over that.”
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Old 12-21-2014, 12:15 PM   #34
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So good! Keep it up, this is one of the best stories I've seen here, and I really hope to see it complete!
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Old 12-22-2014, 03:29 AM   #35
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This is really great! One of the best stories on here in a while. It's rare that I actually care about the plot beyond the sexy bits.
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Old 12-22-2014, 07:50 AM   #36
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Chapter 13

Raleigh went about her workweek in a state of subdued shock. The wild implications of her weekend’s adventure had thrown the rest of the world out of perspective, giving her daily grind a distracted weightlessness.

She only wished she could make her body more weightless—the other interns were no longer pretending not to notice her fifty-pound inflation. But even their knowing looks and unhelpful advice couldn’t shake her from her confused funk. Her basic understanding of the world was changing, but she wasn’t sure what it was changing to.

Thursday afternoon a binder slamming onto her desk finally snapped her out of it. She looked up to see her supervisor, wearing a terrifying grin.

“Raleigh,” he said, “this was great work. We’re very impressed.”

Raleigh swallowed nervously and set down the rest of her candy bar. “Really?”

“Oh ya, fer sure. We’re glad we made ya full time, if this is the result. This is the best stuff we’ve ever had from an intern. Well done.”

“Wow. Uh, thank you.” She wished she had any idea what she had done. “It sorta just…happened, I guess.”

“A natural ability,” marveled the supervisor. “Well, Raleigh, we’re interested in seeing more of it.”

“I’d be happy to…ah.”

She bit her lip as the supervisor dropped three fresh binders on the desk. They were each thicker than the first one. She stared at them and made a small sound.

The supervisor held up a hand. “Don’t panic, haha. Take your time on these. No rush. We’re just interested in your take on things. If the higher-ups like what they see from these, ya may find yourself on the fast track to a position after your internship.”

Raleigh’s eyes gleamed. “Really?”

“You betcha. This is the stuff they look for in consultants. And you’d be eligible to move to different offices—I think there’s one near your hometown back West, even. Though I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to live up here in God’s country.”

Visions of California, glowing in the warm sun, danced across her mind. A well-paying job in her chosen field in her hometown could be worth any amount of effort…and any amount of time in a weird house.

She weighed the idea as she drove home that evening (after a celebratory supper out). She had plenty of time to think about it, for while the roads had been plowed traffic was still slow on the packed-down layer of ice. And thinking about it took her mind off how uncomfortable her car had become.

Her pudgy midsection was becoming a nuisance while driving. The seatbelt dug into her soft flesh and depending on how she sat either her rising thighs or spilled-out gut would rub against the base of the steering wheel. She wondered if she would still fit in the car at all by the time she returned to California.

She sipped at her large soft drink and turned onto the dark, lonely farm road that lead to the house, dreaming of her homeland’s beaches, palm trees, and shirtless men. She imagined herself sidling up to a cute surfer boy on the beach; but the dream darkened, for as she sidled she realized she had squeezed her plump body into a tiny, indecent string bikini. At least she hoped there was still a swimsuit under those lovehandles.

She had to tear her mind from the broken reverie. It was snowing again and the road demanded her attention.

“This is ridiculous,” she muttered. “How is there any snow left to fall?”

A pair of headlights appeared in the rearview mirror. They were large and angry-looking, as though from a truck or SUV, and were catching up quickly.

“Sorry,” Raleigh said to the mirror, “I don’t feel comfortable going any faster than this.”

The lights rode right up on her tail and loomed there in the mirror, clearly upset at her slowness.

“Look, I’m not from here. I wasn’t born with tire-chains in my hands.”

A long horn sounded, impatient.

Raleigh sighed. “Okay, fine. I’ll try. But when we get around the turn you should just pass me if it’s that important to you.” She added some gentle pressure to the accelerator and the car nervously sped up.

She was far beyond her comfort zone when she reached the next turn, but the truck was still tailgating.

“Nope,” she announced. “Gotta slow down for the turn. Deal with it.”

The truck wouldn’t deal with it. Instead it swept outside her into the opposite lane and accelerated.

“Holy shit. You can’t be serious. On the turn?”

The truck pulled even with her as they came around the turn, but stayed there. It didn’t finish passing, though, instead riding alongside her, revving with menace.

“What the fuck, dude?” Raleigh shrieked, fighting to stay straight. She glanced out to see if she could see the other driver, but the snowfall was too heavy and the truck’s windows were frosted over. “Whatever. I’m not playing your game.” She moved her foot to the brake.

But it gave no response. She pumped the brake pedal, but the car wouldn’t slow. She swore and flailed at the brake, but the car had hit a patch of black ice and momentum had taken over. The truck revved again and she glanced out at it.

A face stared back from the passenger seat: a stern, severe-looking man, clean shaven. He was wiping the frost from the window with a bright green handkerchief. He was saying something, but Raleigh didn’t dare look over long enough to try to make out what it was.

The truck roared and suddenly sped ahead, somehow unaffected by the ice beneath Raleigh’s car. It swerved back into the right lane in front of her, close enough that she instinctively twisted the steering wheel. Her car twisted accordingly and before she knew what was happening it was spinning sideways.

The truck disappeared around the next turn as Raleigh’s car slid helplessly off the road. It jerked through another quarter turn and finally embedded itself in a thick snowbank.

Raleigh waited a few minutes before moving, letting her breath return and her heart rate slow down. She kept seeing that man’s face in the falling snow—she had only glimpsed him for a second while glancing at the truck, but his image had seared itself in her vision.

She dug the seatbelt out from under her gut and wrenched the door open. Something felt wet: the soft drink had spilled, which she found herself disproportionately disappointed about.

The snowbank was even deeper than it looked and she made a mess of flopping her way through it. But on the other side of it, she discovered, was the lakeshore. The ice was unusually thin here, with dark patches of unfrozen water visible around rocks and fallen logs.

Raleigh backed her way to the car, taking it all in. If her car had slid another few feet, she would have had a lot more to worry about than spilled pop.

She kicked around in the snowbank, vainly hoping to free her tires. Near the driver’s side wheel, though, her toe hit something hard and tripped her up. Cursing, she dug into the snow and uncovered the object she’d struck.

It was the fat little wood-carving, scarf and all. It lay wedged under her tire, smiling up at her. Raleigh shuffled backward with realization: the carving had been just enough of an obstacle, however it had gotten here, to halt her car’s slide toward the water.
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Old 12-22-2014, 11:53 AM   #37
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Dude so good.
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Old 12-22-2014, 02:20 PM   #38
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Mm Hmm.. wickedly good!
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Old 12-22-2014, 03:20 PM   #39
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Woohoo! Such great imagery! And I love the way the fat is both "realistically" loathed yet seems to loom evermore heavily as the plot thickens...
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Old 12-23-2014, 08:45 AM   #40
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Chapter 14

“That’s pretty lucky,” Rory whistled, hands on his hips.

“Somebody’s watching out for you, for sure,” Adam added, stomping through the snowbank. “You can’t be more than a foot or two from the bank…oof-dah, if you’d have slid any further…”

“She’d be a Raleigh-cicle.”

Raleigh rolled her eyes. “Thanks, guys. Though I think what would have been lucky would have been to not end up here at all.” She glanced at her car. It stared back at her from the snowbank like a wounded puppy. “Can we just get it out now?”

Adam nodded. “You betcha. Well, probably. Heck, Rory, it’s too bad Scarlett left for school last night. We could have used her truck to tow this out.”

“Ha, yeah. But we should be fine,” Rory replied from behind the car. “I mean, we might even be able to just push it. She isn’t that heavy.”

Raleigh folded her arms. “I dunno, haha. You didn’t see what I ate this…oh, you meant the car. Yep.”

Fortunately, neither of the boys had heard her, focused on their task. They also hadn’t noticed the freshly disturbed snow where Raleigh had buried the little wood-carving.

It took over half an hour of work, Raleigh spinning her wheels as Adam and Rory heaved, but at last the little car burst forth back onto the road. Triumphant, Raleigh threw open her door to celebrate with the guys.

She retracted her hugging arms immediately, though, for both men were covered head to toe in muddy slush, caught in the spray of her spinning tires.

“Oh, shit,” she breathed, “guys, I’m so sorry.”

Rory wiped at his face and shrugged. “Part of living in Minnesota. It happens. It’ll probably happen again.”

“I know how she can make it up to us, though,” Adam said flatly.

“She doesn’t need to make it up to us, Adam.”

“Come on, of course I do.”

“See? Of course she does.” Adam glared sidelong at Rory.

Rory glared back and whispered something back at him. Raleigh bit her lip.

“I’ll say it, since he won’t,” Adam announced with a grin. “How about you take Rory out on a date?”

“Ignore him,” Rory implored.

Raleigh looked back and forth between them.

“Something friendly and easy,” Adam continued. “Valentine’s Day is in a few weeks, after all.”

“Oh my god. Alright, fine,” Raleigh sighed. “I’ll call you later and we can work something out. Thanks again, guys. I’m gonna get some sleep.”

She squeezed herself back into her driver’s seat and eased her car down the road.

Rory watched until the car had disappeared around the next turn, then hit Adam with a snowball. “A date? Very subtle.”

Adam spat out the snow. “What? Look, we agreed we needed to investigate further. This accident proves she’s in some danger.”

“A Californian dealing with snow for the first time spun out on a dark, icy road. Yep, ghosts are definitely involved here.”

“Your desperate skepticism is just an insecure attempt to deny your abilities as a medium. Also we’ve already covered this.”

“I am not a medium.”

“So you keep saying. But you had a vision at the house. Plus she’s definitely possessed if she’s actually willing to go out on a date with you.” Adam trudged back up towards his car. “Look, this is a perfect opportunity. Going on a nice date takes her mind of the haunting, keeps her spiritual energy more positive. That helps fight off bad ghosts. While you’re out, I get to take another look at the house, take some more readings, do a séance, whatever. And you A: get close enough to see if your sensitivity as a medium can tell us what she’s experiencing and B: get to go out on a date with a girl you find quite attractive. It’s a win-win-win.”

Rory lowered himself into the car. “I don’t mind going out on a date. I mind using the date as a pretense to sneak into someone’s house.”

“We’re trying to help her.”

“No, we’re trying to justify your hobby.”

Adam started the car. “Our hobby. I get that you grew up, but come on, man. We were a kickass ghost-hunting team back when you weren’t too cool to believe in what we were doing.”

“We were kids.”

“And do you remember all the stuff we found, even though we were just kids? And I’ll remind you: you’re the one who pulled me into it. You were the one having the scary dreams while you were awake. You were the one who heard things and saw things and asked for help figuring out what they were.” He shifted into gear and they rolled into motion. “For some reason you’ve tried to forget all of it, but I remember, man. I remember how scared my best friend was and I remember how much I wanted to help.”

Rory rubbed the bridge of his nose. “You’re right. I’m sorry,” he sighed, looking out over the frozen lake. “Well, your best friend is still scared. Scared that it’s all happening again.”

“I hear that. So this time, we’re doing something about it. We’re gonna do our research, find this ghost, and beat the ectoplasm out of it.”
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Old 12-24-2014, 02:37 PM   #41
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BiddyGal has said some nice things

this really is a marvelous story. Thanks for sharing it, and hope it keeps going. A perfect balance between plot and gain, and your pacing and characters are spot on. love this.
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Old 12-24-2014, 06:50 PM   #42
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Excellent writing...keep up the awesome

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Old 12-26-2014, 07:51 AM   #43
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Chapter 15

Raleigh put the date off for a while, letting a couple more weekends slip by.

Part of her wanted to avoid distractions from work. Her first binder had been completed by a ghostly miracle, but it wasn’t a miracle she had any desire to repeat. With her spare time at home she pored over one of her three new assignments and was making slow progress. There hadn’t been any major ghostly activity since and she was starting to hope that the spirit had been satisfied by finally being acknowledged and humored that night.

Another part of her was still coming to terms with the extent of her body’s growth and dreaded the idea of dressing up her weight gain for a hot date. She even returned to her diet in an attempt to at least be on the way back toward her old self.

But as progress on her assignments stagnated and her loneliness flared at the approach of Valentine’s Day, she finally gave Rory a call. They settled on a Saturday night dinner at a casual place downtown. Despite her reluctance to make the call, when she had hung up she couldn’t help but feel a flutter of excitement. She was bubbly the rest of the week, unused to having something to look forward to.

But when Saturday came, it brought with it a frustrating milestone: 200.

“Holy shit,” Raleigh shrieked at the scale. “No way.”

There was no denying it, however. She couldn’t deny that she had to crane her neck weirdly when she looked down at the scale, since she had to peer around her jutting gut and bulging breasts. She pushed her fat aside to get a clearer angle, but the three digits on the scale wouldn’t change.

She shivered and reached for her bathrobe. “Ugh…with this layer of blubber I shouldn’t be so cold, then, right?”

But there was no escaping the cold, not in Minnesota in February. She marveled at the thermometer outside every night before bed, witnessing temperatures she’d only read about in scary stories.

It didn’t help that her seemingly limitless growth had rendered her wardrobe increasingly limited. She had a hard time finding outfits that didn’t expose her flab to the cold—and to co-workers’ stares—and was afraid to waste money replacing what she had with something she’d only quickly outgrow.

Her belly was the center of her swelling, but on the whole her body had taken on a uniform thickness. Her thighs had widened considerably and had torn through multiple pairs of jeans; when she sat down they rolled out wider than her doughy rear. And her lovehandles reached almost as far out to each side as her stomach reached forward, striated with stretchmarks and curling over the waistband of anything she tried to wear. Her cleavage was popping the buttons off blouses and straining bra-hooks.

“Thick,” she echoed to herself as she stripped off the robe in her bedroom, trying to plan an outfit. A stretchy skirt finally volunteered itself; it had once been loose and flowing but now became translucently tight. A decent blouse accompanied it and although it couldn’t cover all of her midriff a long cardigan was able to reach. Getting it to reach meant leaving a lot of cleavage exposed up top, unfortunately, but nothing else would stretch. The deep cleavage and snugly-skirted butt gave the outfit a much more provocative air than intended, but it would have to do.

She tried not to think about the last date she’d had back home. She’d worn a trendy black dress that had perfectly accentuated her toned abdomen and ended short enough to show off her long, slender legs. She still had the dress, she realized.

Out of grim curiosity, she dug it out of the closet and tried to tug it on. It wouldn’t slide over her one thigh, though.

“Fuck me,” she wheezed. “My thigh by itself is thicker than my waist was back then.”

The doorbell chimed. She panicked and tossed the dress aside. She pulled the skirt back on, buttoned what she could of the cardigan, covered her cleavage with the thick red scarf, and bounced her way downstairs.

She regretted not cleaning the kitchen before the date. With the dishes and cookware strewn about as they were, there was no doubt Rory would see her as a slob. She regretted having used the kitchen at all that evening, but she was hoping that the huge meal she’d eaten would keep her from being too unnaturally hungry in front of her date.

Rory cleaned up well. He hadn’t shaved, but the ruddy beard looked a little more presentable than usual. He had traded his usual frayed flannel for a dark fleece, although this still had plaid accents around the collar and cuffs.

“Look at you,” Raleigh cooed. “You gussy up nicely, for a lumberjack. Oh, hold on—need my purse.”

“You know, I’m told flannel’s very hip these days,” Rory said, watching her climb back up the stairs.

“Maybe in flyover states,” she called down.

Smirking, he waited a moment, till he heard her steps overhead. Then he began easing his way across the kitchen to the back door Scarlett had used at Christmas. “It’s a good thing we’re going downtown tonight, actually,” he said loudly, to cover his footsteps. “You’ll see all the high winter fashion of our local elite.” As he spoke, as nonchalantly as possible, he reached out and unlocked the door.

He returned to the main room just as Raleigh was coming back down. “How quaint,” she huffed, out of breath from the exertion of the stairs. “Shall we?”

He nodded and opened the door for her. The sun was making its final descent below the treeline as they left, dimming the world to the bleak greys and blues of a below-zero night. The house glowed red in the reflection of Rory’s taillights for a moment, then darkened.

A few minutes later, the house shone in a pair headlights. A new car rumbled up the gravel driveway and rocked to a hurried halt. Adam blustered out and hefted a large duffel bag onto his back, dialing his cellphone.

“Scarlett? Scarlett!” he hissed, plowing his way through the deep snow to the rear of the house. “Hey. I’m here. At the house. I’m going in now.”

“Seriously?” asked the phone in disbelief. “How?”

“Rory’s got the girl out on a date. He got inside just long enough to unlock the back door.” He knocked a pile of snow aside and shoved the door open. “Haha, I’m in. You ready to hunt some ghosts with me?”

“Oh, this awesome. I wish I could be there. But didn’t Rory warn us off last time? I thought you were heeding that.”

“I did. But I brought my wards this time.” He dropped the duffel bag on the kitchen counter and jingled the mass of pendants and lucky charms around his neck. “I’m ready for anything now. And now that it’s nighttime and I’m not in as much of a hurry I should get better readings than when I went for my ‘official consultation,’ haha.”

“Gotcha. So any more apparitions since then?”

“She hasn’t reported anything. But I’m convinced she’s hiding something for some reason. And Rory doesn’t get visions for nothing.” He opened the bag. “Okay, we’ve got a few minutes while I set things up. Talk to me—how’s the new semester?”

“What? Oh, not too bad so far. I’ve been in kind of a funk, but otherwise, meh.”

“A funk, you say?”

“Yeah, I guess. Had a lot on my mind. I don’t think I told you…the night I drove back here from home I didn’t actually leave right away. I just drove the truck around town for a while to try and clear my head. Probably anxiety about going back to school, you know?”

“Probably,” Adam grunted, half-listening.

“And then the day I get back, Leslie breaks her ankle.”

“Leslie? Oh, your roommate.”

“Yeah. She’s a dancer, so this kinda throws things off for her. We’re not super close or anything, but she’s my roommate and I’m feeling all her frustration and pain, you know?”

“Sure. Bad auras, man.” Adam opened a long telescoping pole—it had begun life as a fishing rod—and began unraveling a ball of twine. “How’d she hurt it?”

“I’m not really sure,” Scarlett admitted, her voice dropping. “I was asleep that night and woke up to her screaming. She said she tripped on a handkerchief, but neither of us owns a handkerchief and I didn’t see anything on the floor when we got the lights on.”

Adam set the pole standing straight up on the kitchen table. “Weird. Maybe she was drunk.”

“Leslie? Pfft. Never. Her one focus in life is keeping her body in top shape. Hell, she’s a healthier eater than I am.”

“And that’s saying something.” Adam began stretching the twine from the pole to a guest chair across the room. “Well, hope she feels better soon. So is your paranormal class as exciting as you’d hoped?”

Her sigh was audible through the phone. “Not at all. Just a bunch of skeptics picking apart famous hoaxes. I try to throw in some optimism now and then, but I think they just chalk it up to me being a weird goth.”

“They’re a bunch of sheep,” Adam declared, running another line of twine, this time to a cabinet handle. “Well, soon you’ll have some sweet evidence from this house here and they’ll have to face the truth.”

“Can’t wait. So what’s the plan?”

“Almost ready.” He tied off a few more pieces of twine and stepped back to examine his handiwork: a three-dimensional web of twine spread from the pole to various points in the kitchen. He rifled through the bag and pulled out an armful of dried leaves. “I’m constructing a room-sized matrix connecting a number of salient household features to a central vortex. At each nexus of the web I am hanging a sprig of holly, for clarity and sight, and at the vortex itself I am setting up my ectometric sensors and a strip of birch bark, to focus the energies.”

All this done, he switched on his ectometer (a spray-painted fishfinder) and sat down in the only un-twined chair.

“Now we’ll see if we can make contact with anyone,” he announced grimly, “or anything.”

“Want me to stay on the line?”

“Definitely. Tell me if you can hear anything that isn’t me. Sometimes phones will pick up spectral sounds that the naked ear can’t hear alone.”

“Gotcha. Okay. I’ll listen. You do your thing.”

“Putting you on speaker.” He set the phone on the table, near the ectometer. “Here goes.”

He stood back up and spread his arms. His charm necklaces danced against his chest. He had bracelets of holly on each wrist; the leaves fluttered in a faint draft.

“Spirit or spirits of this home, I come humbly before you, willing to hear and see and feel,” he enunciated, as slowly and clearly as he could manage. “I am a seeker of truth. If you are here, I beg for a sign of your presence.”

He waited a full minute, but nothing happened. His stomach suddenly whined and regretted not getting something to eat beforehand.

“Scarlett, you hearing anything?” he asked quietly. She didn’t respond. “Scarlett? Still there?”

The smell of smoke reached his nostrils. A faint smoke, vaguely herbal, like—

“Burning leaves,” he realized. He gaped around. At each nexus of his makeshift web, the leaves of holly were turning black and shriveling up, each consumed in its own unseen fire. The smell deepened as the smoke thickened.

Adam checked the fishfinder’s monitor. The lakebed texture presented on its readout flickered and danced. It reported a small fish, soon joined by two more. They swirled around one another.

“Holy heck,” Adam gasped, staring.

The kitchen lights flashed. The oven clicked on and the microwave set its timer to 5:00. On the fishfinder, two of the fish were growing rapidly, with the third, smaller fish frantically circling them as they expanded.

“Who are you?” Adam shouted. “What do you want?”

The back door crashed open, allowing a gust of frigid February wind to thrash its way into the kitchen. It toppled the fishing rod, snapped several of the lengths of twine, and knocked Adam out of his chair.

The whole web collapsed, sparks flying from the shriveled leaves of holly. The smoke swirled in the wind, filled with otherworldly shapes and figures.

Then the wind calmed, as suddenly as it had arrived. The smoke slowly dissipated. Adam pulled himself up, detangling himself from the fallen twine, and peered at the overturned fishfinder.

The lakebed texture was empty, save for the lone smaller fish, which floated calmly.

“Adam? Adam?” called Scarlett’s voice.

“I’m here,” he replied, picking up the phone from the floor.

“I didn’t get everything you said there toward the end. What was all that?”

“Huh? I asked ‘who are you?’ and ‘what do you want?’ That’s all.”

“No, after that. Something about the old world and cities in the clouds. Sounded really really angry.”

Adam’s eyes widened. He began shoving his equipment back into the duffel bag.
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Old 12-26-2014, 10:43 PM   #44
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Default Expanding Wardrobe

Might be time for the spirit to start replacing her wardrobe with larger sizes, albeit with older fashioned clothes, or perhaps she finds an old trunk with larger clothes in it...
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Old 12-27-2014, 02:09 PM   #45
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DIrtyOlive has said some nice things

Don't make suggestions to someone else's story. What is wrong with you?
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Old 12-27-2014, 03:04 PM   #46
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strataadvance can now change their title

OTE=DIrtyOlive;2112948]Don't make suggestions to someone else's story. What is wrong wit. h you?[/QUOTE]

It happens all the time. And how is it your business to chastise on behalf of the author?
Matter of fact why don't you read his other stories and see if he hates getting suggestions.
Before you go popping off.
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Old 12-27-2014, 05:44 PM   #47
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Phrozen has said some nice things

Originally Posted by DIrtyOlive View Post
Don't make suggestions to someone else's story. What is wrong with you?
Not to mention that he could also just be musing in an intrigued sort of way
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Old 12-27-2014, 09:55 PM   #48
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Constructive suggestions are fine, authors are free to disregard them but every now and then someone has a useful idea that gets incorporated. I do like the idea.
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Old 12-28-2014, 02:04 AM   #49
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booyahmanx has said some nice things

Originally Posted by DIrtyOlive View Post
Don't make suggestions to someone else's story. What is wrong with you?
Why do you care if he makes a suggestion? What's wrong with you?
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Old 12-28-2014, 03:55 AM   #50
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DIrtyOlive has said some nice things

Well. Guess I'm never commenting on fucking anything again in this forum.
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