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stevita

like the pancake
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
277
Location
Texas
An exiled medical professional is nursed back to health by a reclusive rogue. A high school graduate, upon turning 18, submits herself to a medical experiment to some enlarging ends. The leader of a militia allows his new subordinate to introduce him to the meaning of indulgence. A tortured radical finds solace in her gaining lover. Classified files will be stolen. Unjust laws will be broken. Keep your boots tight and your guns close, because this revolution will not be thinned.

2084

By stevita

PART 1: THE CATACOMBS

ONE

Dr. Jace LeCrone was making a break for it.

Actually, he wasn't sure about that 'doctor' bit. Would his medical license have been revoked now that he somehow found himself an enemy of the state?

He wasn't altogether sure how it happened. One day, he was working tirelessly in his lab as an epidemiologist with the CDC, and the next, he was being awoken by special ops breaking down his door in the middle of the night to arrest him in his bed. He didn't know how long he'd been in solitary confinement, visited by guards several times a day who would beat him and demand a confession of what he 'knew,' though to whatever information they sought, he was ignorant. Less frequently, they brought a meal to his cell--he suspected this was not a daily occurence. Every day he waited for the prison administrators to realize there had been some mistake. He was a respected physician, not some criminal, and he had no secrets that could compromise national security. Surely, someone up top had to realize that?

But as the days blurred and hope gave way to despair, and perhaps a touch of delirium, he came to accept that no one was going to save him, and began to wonder if, indeed, he was somehow a criminal and didn't know it.

Then something happened. A fire in the east wing, according to rumor, and as the inmates were corralled outside, he saw his chance and booked it.

For blocks and blocks he was followed by shouting and sirens. As he made his way deeper into downtown, he began to lose his tail, but the cacophony behind him was never far, and he was losing steam. He could scarcely catch his breath and felt on the verge of fainting.

And he was so, so hungry.

He was staring at his feet on the pavement, willing them to move despite the temptation to lie down on the ground and never wake up, when a hand closed around his wrist.

A woman's voice: "Are you okay? Your pulse is racing. Who's following you? Come with me…"

He didn't catch a look at her face. Just her dark, curly hair as she led him down the street, knelt down, and...opened the ground?

He had to be going crazy. But with no other options, he followed her. She led the way down some sort of chute, holding him up a few times as he struggled with the ladder rungs jutting out of the wall. At last, they reached the bottom, and then he blacked out.

***

He was propped up on pillows, a warm blanket draped over his body. He couldn't tell if he was in a bed or on a sofa; he was still too weak to open his eyes.

His savior arrived as he awakened, holding some sort of pastry to his lips.

"Good morning, stranger." Her voice was gravelly and throaty and somehow familiar.

He bit into the offering, his senses ignited by the sweet taste of chocolate filling.

He collapsed against her. She was soft. His head fell against her warm, inviting bosom, then her middle, and finally, her nice plush lap.

"That's it. Just relax," she said, pushing the pastry deeper into his mouth. "You need to put some weight on, otherwise you'll freeze."

He fell asleep again, this time full of chocolate croissants, in her tight embrace.
 

stevita

like the pancake
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
277
Location
Texas
TWO

Much like in the prison, time seemed nonexistent for the doctor, but now, wherever he was, his days were spent in comfort rather than misery.

Well, it was miserable at first, being long-starved and having not fully healed from the injuries he'd sustained at the hands of the guards. But it was a relief to be surrounded with blankets and pillows in a warm bed--for he had gotten a chance to raise his head to look around and discovered that he had been set up in a large, ornately furnished, and windowless bedroom. To the right side of the bed was a door which led to a private bathroom. As of yet, he had not stepped into the hall; he had been too weak on his feet, but his benefactor had provided him with everything he needed: toiletries, a change of clothes and a robe, books and a small handheld computer on which he could watch movies--though he had yet to use any of this entertainment; he was still too exhausted. Sometimes, she would come into his room and lay in the bed with him, outside of the covers as if to help keep him warm. He still hadn't gotten a proper look at her face, but her body felt plush and inviting through the layers that separated them.

Three times a day, or three times in what felt like a day, she would leave a serving tray on his nightstand. As the smells wafted toward him, he would become fully alert. She was always gone by the time he had a chance to dig in, but by that point he would be too engrossed in eating to wonder about her whereabouts. The food was amazing. Rich, hearty stews thick with chunks of meat and fresh vegetables and crusty, fresh baked bread...pasta with real butter, garlic, basil, and succulent, fat shrimp...one time, she even brought him a whole fish with the head still on. It was the kind of food you never saw in person unless you were high-ranking in the government or a CEO.

Breakfast was his favorite. She'd leave him plates of real eggs, over easy, none of that powdered crap, along with delicate, crispy bacon and fresh sausages, fluffy pancakes, thick syrup, and--holy shit--slices of avocado for his toast. More often than not, he'd devour breakfast and let it lull him into a food coma until his savior returned with lunch.

Then came the day when he no longer felt too weak and exhausted to take more than the five steps to the toilet and back, and he decided to have a look around.

The rest of the house--house?--was as finely furnished and windowless as the bedroom, with tapestries adorning the walls of the winding hallways and rugs like he'd only heard about in ancient history. The halls were lit with electric torches designed to imitate the warm glow of firelight. He came in his wandering to an open space that must be the living room, with its cozy-looking sofa set, fireplace, and state-of-the-art entertainment system.

It followed, logically, that the next room over was the kitchen. He smelled the aroma of something delicious cooking before he heard the clatter of activity from within. He stepped inside, finding her with her back to him, bent over the stove. She was wearing black pants and boots and though the sleeves of her black shirt were rolled up to the elbow, her hands and forearms were sheathed with dark gloves. Her collar came up high. He couldn't have discerned her skin tone.

"Have you gotten your bearings yet, or do you need the official tour?"

He jumped. He thought his entrance had been quiet enough, but she had still detected his presence.

"What is this place?" he asked.

Without turning around, she explained, "The feds built catacombs under the city in the 60s and disguised it as part of the sewage system in case they'd need a place to hide."

Ah, yes. He remembered now. She had pulled up a manhole cover. At the time, it had appeared to him like she had opened the ground.

"I see," said Jace. "Because of the war in Turkmenistan?"

"Actually, this bunker was built in response to the Billboard Wars."

"I can see that...but one could argue that the Billboard Wars would have never happened without the Malto Conspiracy, which was a response to the Turkmen War."

"You could think of it that way." She shrugged. "The fact of the matter is, though, the White House was more panicked not about the threat overseas, but the threat of its own uprising working class right here at home. So they built the bunker, but they never used it and they never came back to check on it, which is rather fortunate for me, because I've come to like it down here. Now, sit."

Obediently, he sat down at the kitchen table. He hadn't realized how out of breath he had gotten just from taking a short stroll until he got the chance to get off his feet. He'd have to get used to moving about again, instead of laying in bed all day. For now, it was nice to catch a breather though.

Only...was this chair smaller than normal?

"Eat. You've been through quite the ordeal," she said, setting before him a plate full of some sort of cheesy, saucy goodness he didn't recognize.

"This looks amazing, what is this?"

"Enchiladas with salsa verde."

"That sounds heavenly, too. Thank you, Miss--?"

As he glanced up to finally see his savior's face, he was surprised to see her regarding him from the other side of a sculpted black mask that hid her features entirely from view.
 

stevita

like the pancake
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
277
Location
Texas
THREE

Back at the CDC, Jace had had this friend--well, maybe friend wasn't the right word. Colleague. Acquaintance. Whatever. He'd been in exactly one board meeting with her. This was ten or so years ago. The issue on the table: how to prevent another outbreak of an epidemic like the one in the mid-2040s, or, more recently, the one in the late 2060s, that had decimated the population.

The meeting wrapped up, but one of the doctors wasn't satisfied, and as a senator from Texas stood up and left the boardroom, Dr. Cassandra Casey hastily followed him out with a stack of papers in hand.

"Excuse me, Senator, but is there any reason why you felt the need to dismiss my propositions on preventative medicine in front of the entire board?" asked the doctor.

The senator laughed. Then he stopped. Cleared his throat. "Oh...you were serious," he said.

"Why wouldn't I be serious? Public health is no laughing matter. In suggesting universal basic income and a four-day workweek for American citizens, I'm trying to address the issue of widespread malnutrition which, according to my team's research, is only one of the factors, but an important factor at that, in public immunity--"

"Malnutrition? Please. If the people are malnourished, why do we have an obesity epidemic on our hands?"

"Bodies go into starvation mode and store extra fat when they aren't being properly fed," said Cassandra, standing her ground. "And look at these survey results. We've got an overwhelming majority of the poor reporting living in food deserts...and even if they can get jobs, they've got no time to take care of their bodies, and not enough money even after forty hour weeks to maintain a nutritionally complete diet--"

"Fat apologism at its finest," scoffed the senator. "Sandra, just because you've porked up a little lately, doesn't mean you should make excuses for yourself and let your opinion influence your discussion on policy."

"I'm not talking about my opinion, Senator Mathison. I'm talking about numbers. And right now, compared to other countries, our numbers look like complete dog shit."

He scoffed and turned to walk away. She gripped him by the wrist before he could. "Senator, I'm going to try one more time to get my point across in a professional manner."

He sneered. "Get your claws off me before I call my security detail."

Jace had been impressed. He had asked her out for coffee after that, and took her to the little automated coffee kiosk up the street once work adjourned. The conversation mostly flowed like gum from a tree: he could think of no details of his own boring life that she might want to know. But he learned a couple things about her. Like, despite looking awfully young to be a doctor, she was only two years younger than he was. And, she was the second in her family to have upwards of a high school education, after her older sister, who had sold her soul to the government and was hopefully by now dead.

Halfway through sipping their coffees, she pulled a flask of whiskey out of her purse and spiked both of their drinks. He had had so many questions. Alcohol wasn't illegal, but it was expensive enough that you had to be fabulously wealthy to afford it. That, or you had to be willing to go to great illegal lengths to obtain it. He never asked which one she was.

That was the last time he ever saw Cassandra. He guessed she had left the CDC. He dreamt about her frequently, though. In his dreams, he would ask her a million questions. Most were about what exactly gave her the nerve, and where he might himself obtain some of it. Nowadays he couldn't remember what she looked like, only that she had dark curly hair, but still, he thought of her.

He remembered her now because he had gotten comfortable enough in the bunker to dream again, rather than pass out exhausted and sleep deeply but stir at the slightest sound, the slightest perceived threat.

Perhaps he was getting too comfortable, according to some people's definition? He had come to realize now that the chairs in the bunker weren't small, he was just getting bigger.

The masked woman had told him he would need to put on weight, and he might have overdone it a little.

It wasn't his fault. She cooked so well! He wanted to savor every morsel she put in front of him.

Eating and eating, it was no wonder he had started to get chubby. He knew he was malnourished when she first took him in, but now, a squishy layer of fat padded his middle. His ass was wider, his arms and thighs squishy on the insides...he had never been fat before...and somehow he liked it?

He felt sturdier now. More substantial. More resilient in case he was assailed from behind.

He was sitting on the living room sofa watching a movie, idly prodding his new belly pudge with his fingertips, when the woman walked in. "Comfortable?" she asked.

"Good. A bit chilly."

"Here."

She threw a blanket over him and sat down next to him, leaning the weight of her lovely, curvaceous body against him.
 

stevita

like the pancake
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
277
Location
Texas
FOUR

In his time in the bunker, Jace had surrendered more personal information than he normally would have. He never had been much of a talker. That was why he chose a job that kept him in a lab with his computer and his samples most of the time. But he had given the masked woman his name, former occupation, age, Zodiac sign, a brief childhood history, and a preference for dark chocolate over milk to work with, all in the hopes that she might reciprocate, but he had no such luck. She was a brick wall.

And yet, still, she had no problem eschewing physical barriers, almost as if she was seeking warmth. She was pressed against him on the couch while they watched TV, her weight against him preventing him from standing up to put his freshly cleaned plate of beef stroganoff (with crispy potato strips sprinkled on top for extra crunch) in the kitchen sink. It was like having a housecat in your lap. So, he simply reached over to set the plate on the coffee table. "Man, that was good. Compliments to the chef," he said, giving his slightly rounded belly a pat. He had grown all too quickly accustomed to eating until he could feel a definite stretch in his stomach; it was a warm, satisfying feeling he'd never known in his life on the outside. Used to be, he'd get by on cheap, prepackaged meals from automated kiosks on his way to and from work and his crummy inner-city apartment, and despite these ready-meals boasting of being nutritionally complete, they always left him with a lingering hunger. "Where do you get all these ingredients, anyway?"

"I intercept and steal packages addressed to the wealthy elites of society," was her answer. "Celebrities, politicians, and the like."

"Don't they raise a fuss when their packages go missing?"

"They wipe their asses with Benjamins. I imagine they just order more."

He laughed at that. "Where did you learn how to cook?"

"From my grandmother."

"Tell me something else about your grandmother."

"I'm told that in her youth she once fought thirteen cops and won."

"So you come from a long line of freedom fighters?"

"Oh, I haven't fought for anything in a long time."

"But you used to?"

She went stone cold silent.

He would have to try a different approach if he wanted any information. "Tell me about the Billboard Wars."

"All I know is what's in the books, I was only a little girl at the time."

So, she was around his age, then. It wasn't much to go on, but it was something.

About then, there was a ding from the kitchen. "Ooh! Wonderful! The brownies are done!" she chimed, and stood up, clumsily removing his plate from the table before flitting out of the room. He was glad that she had taken care of the plate for him, for now that her weight was no longer pinning him to the couch, he found the weight of his own heavily glutted stomach got the job done well enough on its own. She had plated him a pretty hefty portion of stroganoff, and he wasn't one to leave food on his plate, especially after prison. He ran both his hands up the sides of his belly, relishing the heft and firmness of his latest meal under the pliable layer of fat that had found its way there in his weeks of comfort.

She returned with a pan of brownies, which she set on the table, and a drink for each of them. "What's this?" he asked.

"White Russian."

He hoped she might take off her mask to drink, but instead she just slipped the straw through its little smiling mouth-hole. As he drank, the buzz hit him instantly. Not usually a drinker, he had just about no tolerance. As warmth began to build in his chest and a giddiness came over him, he wondered just how many calories were in the creamy concoction, and how much further it would fill out his figure.

And those brownies...they smelled so good…

"Will you have some dessert with me?" he asked.

"I had some earlier in the kitchen." Indeed, a corner piece was missing from the pan. He deduced that she usually ate while she was cooking--how else would she stay so tantalizingly plump when she never ate in front of him? Of course, doing so would necessitate her to remove her mask...why wouldn't she let him see her face? "Don't let that stop you, though."

"They smell really good...I am really full though," he said, leaning back with one hand still on his belly. Emboldened by the alcohol, he said, "Maybe if you helped me?"

"You're a bit of a kinky boy, aren't you, Doctor?" She pulled a brownie from the tray with one gloved hand and held it to his lips. He took a bite and sighed with contentment. "So good...dark chocolate, you remembered." She fed him another bite, and he moaned as he swallowed. The subtle growing tightness in his gut heightened his pleasure. That, along with her proximity, got the blood rushing south, and as he felt his erection fight against his confining pants, he put a hand on her hip, loving the softness he found there. "My god, this is delicious. It's no wonder I've been gaining so much weight; everything you cook is so amazing."

"I think you like it," she said, prodding the fat around his navel with the fingertips of her free hand. "Naughty boy indeed. You do know that deliberate weight gain is a federal crime, don't you?"

"Yeah, cause it's a form of draft dodging."

It started with the war in Turkmenistan over oil. At a shortage for soldiers because of the last epidemic, the US brought back the draft. Angry about it, a good chunk of the public had resorted to gaining weight on purpose to disqualify themselves from combat by means of various weight gain supplements, a movement which had come to be known as the Malto Conspiracy. Then came the Billboard Wars--the government started aggressively advertising for enlistment. So the working class tore down the signs. So the government automated them out of blue-collar jobs and gave them a choice: enlist or starve.

"Not like I'm not already wanted anyway," said the doctor.

"And do you know why?" said the woman.

She fed him another brownie, which he gladly accepted.

"Do you remember what you were studying? You were about to come to a conclusion the government didn't want you to come to. Do you remember what that was?"

Another brownie. He was getting really round now. His belly felt stretched to its capacity. Her gloved hand rubbed it through his shirt and his mind raced.

He'd had a hypothesis. He hadn't wanted to believe it. But looking at the numbers…

The disproportionate number of low income citizens who had died in the last few plagues…

The fact that treatments were priced in the millions…

She pressed on the crest of his belly with the heel of her hand, gently, but with just enough firmness to coax up a burp and that was all it took to make him bust in his pants from the indulgence of it all.

Breathlessly, he murmured the words he wished weren't true: "The last two plagues, at the very least, were manufactured."
 

stevita

like the pancake
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
277
Location
Texas
FIVE

The veritable underground mansion was kept always in a spotless condition, despite the woman having no automation. The machines, she said, would spy on you and snitch to the government. But she liked cleaning. When she was a little girl, her mother had told her that doing household chores before the age of fifteen was illegal, so of course she got tricked into doing them to satisfy her rebellious streak. It was one of the small factoids of her life she had willingly offered to Jace, and, these glimpses into who she was coming so few and far between, he treasured that fact like it was gold.

He had found a scale--one of the old fashioned ones that only showed your weight instead of calculating your BMI and body fat percentage before reporting all that information to your doctor--in one of the larger bathrooms, and for the past few weeks he had been stepping on it at periodic intervals just to survey the damage. He held his breath as he slid it out from its place between the toilet and the sink cupboard, tingling with anticipation before he toed its surface, then took his leap of faith.

226.7.

On his 5'11" frame, that wasn't huge by any means. If anything, he was just chubby now. But that number still represented a three pound gain in less than a week. It made him feel like a rebel.

The bathroom adjacent to his bedroom had no mirror, but this one did, and, looking in it, he thought to himself that anyone from the 'real world' that he asked would say he looked terrible. And okay, he had some work to do. He was paler now from a lack of sunlight and his curly dark hair was unkempt and overgrown. But he was in absolute love with how thick he was getting. He pulled up the silk pajama shirt the woman had provided him with and admired his new, doughy potbelly in the mirror, squeezing its soft underside and letting its yielding plushness bring a smile to his face. He liked feeling his thickening thighs brushing together and his soft chest growing sensitive. His cheeks had rounded out, and he suspected he'd see his chin start to double at certain angles if he shaved off the scruff from the last few weeks...he liked that, too. It gave him the impression of a luxury he had never dreamed of in his old life, nevermind that when actual rich folks gained weight, they called an automated cab to the nearest walk-in cosmetic clinic and had the fat frozen off or sucked out or killed with lasers.

"Like what you see, big boy?"

He had forgotten he left the door open, and gave a start, letting his shirt fall back down as he noticed Her standing in the doorway.

He'd been caught in the act...and in an instant, he was at half mast.

She closed the distance between them and gave his side a long, appreciative squeeze through his shirt. "Hmm, getting quite the little gut, aren't we?"

It was mesmerizing. It was frustrating. It wasn't fair. Why should it be that she had a direct line to his libido when he didn't even know what she looked like underneath the mask?

"I think you want me to fatten you more, though. I may just have to up your portion sizes."

Now, when he pressed a hand to his middle, it was defensively. "I'm already eating so much," he said. He stuffed himself to capacity at every opportunity. If she made him eat even more on top of that, it might actually hurt. He didn't like the thought of that. "Besides, as much as I like this deliberate gaining thing, I'm already gaining weight pretty fast."

"Of course you are. They starved you in prison. And even before then, I doubt you were eating enough on a lousy government stipend. Your body is still in starvation mode. It wants to cling to every extra ounce of fat it can. But eventually you'll hit a plateau."

As soon as she said the words 'starvation mode,' the memory dawned on him.

"Oh my god...Dr. Casey?"

She went silent and shut down, as she was wont to do. She started to back away, but he closed a hand around her wrist and held her there. He was tired of this--this barrier between them that seemed so nonsensical. They were sharing all this house and these delicious meals and this strange, exciting kink, and yet, she remained so guarded. He wouldn't have known her name if she hadn't confirmed it with her attempted retreat. Dammit, he wanted to kiss her. He wanted to see her face!

He lifted the chin of her mask and pulled it off. Along with it came a cloth covering wrapped all around her face, as well as her wig. Underneath, her eyes were cloudy and her skin was mottled. Her hair was growing back in patches on her head.

He didn't recoil, but he let her wrist go as she pulled away more forcefully. "I'm sorry," she choked out, even if he now felt like he was the one who had something to be sorry about.

She snatched her mask back and fled from the room.
 

stevita

like the pancake
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
277
Location
Texas
SIX

Jace hurried after her, but she was a good sprint ahead--his reflexes had not yet adjusted to all the weight he had gained. "Cassandra, wait!" Now that he knew her name, he clung to it for comfort.

But she didn't wait up.

After what felt like forever, he arrived at the open doorway to her room. She had already put her mask and wig back on. Well, the wig at least. He wasn't sure about the mask. She was lying face down in bed, her face buried in pillows.

"Go away!" came her muffled scream. He decided to give her her space, hoping in a few hours he could apologize and make things right between them.

But the next day, things went back to the way they were in the beginning. She left his food on the nightstand and he didn't see hide nor hair of her.

After three days of the silent treatment, he couldn't take it anymore.

He made a point of getting up early and found her at work in the kitchen. She had some eggs out, along with cheese, tomatoes, bacon, and avocados. He guessed she was making omelettes. She was bent over the counter, chopping onions, when he put his hand on the handle of her knife.

"Here, let me--"

"Hands off," she snapped. "Just because I can barely see doesn't mean I can't make my way around this kitchen."

He blinked. "Then how--?"

"Echolocation, mostly. A few years back a treatment was developed for the military to give soldiers heightened senses. I managed to get my hands on it. I can tell where things are and what they're shaped like, but I do miss color…"

She plated breakfast for him in the dining room and sat across from him with a smoothie which she drank through a straw that poked through the tiny mouth-slit of her mask.

The food was delicious, but he had so many questions he was distracted from his meal, the first of them being, "What did they do to you?"

She sighed. "My ideas were too radical. They threw me in prison...I'm sure everyone I used to know thinks I'm dead. They experimented on me...they were working on a pathogen that would cause the body to burn itself alive from the inside out. I'm alive today because I was rescued by vigilantes. For years, I lay low, always keeping tabs but never stepping out of the shadows...but then, when I saw you on the run, I decided to pay the favor forward."

"I'm glad you did," he said. "Do they hurt? The burns?"

"I wear a special protective cloth under all my clothes that keeps my skin from stinging," said Cassandra. "It's biodegradable and sloughs off in the shower. Body temperature water feels fine, too. But then I have to let myself air-dry before I wrap myself up again, and that, being exposed to the open air...well, that's excruciating."

He moved some potatoes around on his plate. "So I guess sex is out of the question?"

She laughed. "And here I was, about to tell you you're free to go if you find me repulsive."

"You're not repulsive!" he insisted. "I'm just sorry for what I did. I shouldn't have pulled your mask off. That was out of line. But even after what I saw, I could never be repulsed by you. The truth, Cassandra…" He swallowed a lump in his throat. "The truth is, I'm in love with you. I've been in love with you since we worked at the CDC together. You stood for things. You fought for things. I wished I could be like you."

She was quiet for a long time. Finally, she said, "Eat your breakfast, Dr. LeCrone. It's getting cold."

But that night, she curled up in bed with him the way she used to when she first took him in. Sex was indeed out of the question with the issue of her chronic pain at hand, but he relished getting to wrap her curvy little body up in his arms, and she sighed contentedly feeling herself sink into his now decadently soft frame.

As it closed in on midnight, she said, "So you liked it, that I stood for things?"

"That was what attracted me most to you."

"I think I'm ready to stand for things again. But I'm going to need your help."

"What would you have me do?"

"I think, if we can get you ahold of a badge, you can walk into your old office and procure the evidence it would take to prove that the government caused those epidemics. But in order to do it, you'd have to avoid being recognized by the facial recognition software there. And to do that, you might have to gain a good deal more weight."
 
Last edited:

stevita

like the pancake
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
277
Location
Texas
PART 2: A CURE FOR ALL YOUR ILLS

SEVEN

"I don't see why you're doing this. We have plenty of money. If you want something, all you have to do is ask."

It was Cindy Leigh Mathison in the passenger's seat of her mother's shiny black state-of-the-art battery-powered SUV as it headed north from the ever-receding gulf coast into the Texas countryside towards the facility where Cindy would be spending the summer as a paid test subject in a study evaluating the efficacy of a new immune-boosting drug, although her mother was less than approving.

"It'll look great on my resume."

"But you've already gotten into Rice on a full ride scholarship!"

"But after I finish my undergrad, I'll still have to apply to medical school. And they'll be thrilled to see that even in my early years, I was invested enough in the advancement of medicine to submit myself as a test subject."

Truthfully, Cindy wasn't sure she wanted to be a doctor. At eighteen, there wasn't a whole lot she was sure about. But having a good academic transcript and an intellectual career looked great on your application for the national breeding program, and the Mathisons were determined that their genes carry forward.

Well, Cindy's parents, at least. It was at their insistence that she chased accolades and set herself up to be the perfect candidate. She trudged along like an animal prodded by a stick, when really, not reproducing hardly seemed like the end of the world for her.

Her ulterior motive for signing up for the research study was this: she just wanted to get out of her oppressive household until it was time to go to college.

As they arrived at the lab, her mother dropped her off and she made a promise to text every day, which she already knew she would break.

She entered the facility into a large waiting room, where a secretary at a desk gave her a stack of paperwork to fill out. Soon, she was called back by a nurse and asked to strip and put on a hospital gown. The clinically cold air made her skin goosebump and her breath hitched periodically as the nurse guided her through the stations, recording her blood pressure, resting heart rate, height, weight…

5'5", 100 pounds even.

Physical fitness was a huge determining factor in whether or not one was accepted into the breeding program. As such, Cindy's parents kept her on a strict diet and exercise regimen. She hated it. Sometimes, when they were out of the house, she would simply turn the smart treadmill on and let it run, logging miles while she watched TV. Even still, though, she remained thin as a pin, with angular features and visible ribs. Supermodel-like, really. Perfect in the eyes of the people who picked out the genes of the next generation. She had always felt like her russet-brown hair was too big for her body, her blue eyes too big for her face, her bones too spaced apart for the expanse between them.

And her tits were too small, too.

The nurse had her change back into her own clothes and showed her into the doctor's office.

The doctor was a curvy, light brown-skinned woman with curly black hair in a labcoat seated at a mahogany desk. The placard on her desk read, VICTORIA CASEY, M.D. she was holding Cindy's chart and leafing through it. "Miss Mathison...tell me, any relationship to the senator?"

"Yes ma--Doctor," said Cindy. "He's my father."

"Good, good. Then you should be able to enjoy some degree of legal immunity. Here is your debriefing form…"

The doctor slid a stack of papers across the desk and Cindy signed them without a second thought.

The doctor cleared her throat. "Most people read the forms...but since you haven't, let me give you the verbal debriefing.

"The drug you're going to be testing is designed to protect the body from all common sicknesses, stress, physical trauma, and malnutrition. So far, the only observed side effect has been a weight gain of anywhere from 5 to 7 percent of subjects' starting body weight. I tell you this because there are laws in place which make 'knowing or deliberate' weight gain a punishable crime. With your father's influence, as well as the legal team I have on standby, you should be in the clear courtroom-wise, but if anything I've said makes you uneasy, you're by all means free to tear up that contract you've just signed and go home."

Cindy had zoned out somewhere around 'weight gain'.

See, ever since she was a little kid, she'd had dreams and fantasies about being fat. Sometimes she would just...well, be fat. Other times, she'd get fattened up, by a boy or girl, sometimes gently, sometimes forcefully. She always woke up wishing the dream hadn't ended. And recently, as she entered womanhood, she found herself waking up with a hand in her panties.

She had a feeling she would have fun with this study.

"I understand the risk, Dr. Casey," she said. "But I'm willing to do anything for the greater good."
 
Last edited:

stevita

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EIGHT

Dr. Casey escorted Cindy down a hall and into an elevator. "You'll have a private suite to yourself on the third floor of the facility," she explained. "Each room comes equipped with a full kitchen and replicator setup, washer, drier, one bedroom, one bath, and a balcony with a view. You're encouraged to make use of the common lounge, pool, and gym on your floor; social isolation never did anyone any good. There'll be a book by the phone containing my number, the number for maintenance, and the Wi-Fi key. You'll have high speed cable, and if you need anything, it's just a phone call away."

They exited the elevator and the doctor led Cindy down another hall and into her room. It was nice; as nice as the four star hotels her family had stayed in when her father traveled for business. "Now, on with the treatment!"

Cindy followed Dr. Casey into the kitchen, where a 750-mL bottle was waiting for her on the island countertop. "This is the serum we're going to have you take," explained the doctor. "This bottle should last you the duration of the experiment. The mechanism of action is outlined in your contract. I'm going to go ahead and email it to you; please do read it. Basically, the drug will help with nutrient absorption as well as divert absorbed energy into the production of antibodies. You'll receive weekly checkups; your first week I'll come to check on you personally to take note of any side effects. Assuming you choose to continue with the study at that point, you'll be checked up on by other doctors intermittently. By about the fifth week, we'll introduce you to a minor pathogen to test your immunity. The dosage information is on the label. Again: please read it. But since I'm here, I may as well let you know you're to take 10 cc's every morning with food."

"Got it, Doc," said Cindy.

But as soon as the doctor left the room, she poured herself a generous half a glass and chugged.

To her surprise, the serum didn't taste unpleasant. It was lightly tart and lightly sweet--kind of like if you watered down one of those baby electrolyte drinks. And it had an instantaneous effect on her.

She was warm all over and felt giddy. The edges of the world seemed to lose their sharpness as she surrendered to a happy daze and occasional bouts of giggling. Oh, shit. Had she overdosed? Was she going to die?

Who cared?

Then, the hunger hit her. It wasn't the sort of hunger she was used to: there was no sharp stomach pain from hours of cravings denied, but rather, a fatigue and a full-body need along with an understanding of, 'Damn, I could eat.' So she made her way over to the replicator on the opposite counter, and with a few swipes of the touchscreen, had herself a big paper bowl full of enough mac and cheese to feed her whole family (not that mac and cheese would have ever been allowed in her household).

She took her bowl to the couch in the living room and dug in with gusto. For replicated food made out of atoms pulled out of the air, it was delicious; warm and creamy with just the right blend of salt and seasoning. In minutes, she had polished the whole thing off. Her flat stomach domed out and felt tight to the prod of her fingers, but remarkably, she still felt like she could eat a lot more.

Returning to the replicator, she ordered herself a double cheeseburger and fries, some fried chicken, and a thick slice of key lime pie. She brought her feast back to the couch and turned on the TV this time, but turned it off after a few minutes of drab government propaganda. The media these days was no fun, and besides, she was entertained enough by how much bigger her belly swelled with each course she took down. For a moment, she felt a little guilty. Dr. Casey was trying to do serious medical research, and here she was using the doctor's experimental drug, which might've been her life's work, to play out a sexual fantasy.

But it was only for today, she rationalized. Tomorrow, she was going to commit to being a good little test subject. She just needed to satisfy an urge. Just once. Pinky swear.

By the time all the food was gone, she was stuffed in earnest. She had been stuffed exactly twice in her life before. The first time was at a family Thanksgiving. She had mindlessly eaten her way through four plates in order to drown out the rantings of her senile old racist great-grandpa Lee, who after all this time had not forgiven his sister for marrying a--

Well, it wasn't a word one said in polite company.

The second time, she'd been left at home alone while her father campaigned for reelection and her mother tagged along with. Unsupervised, she had decided to do a little experimental stuffing session. There was nothing in the house she had known how to cook besides brown rice, so she made herself a huge pot and committed herself to destroying the evidence before her parents could return home for the night.

Both times, it had left her with a horrible case of indigestion, but this time, she felt no pain--just an exciting internal pressure and a definite but not unpleasant stretching sensation in her middle as she rubbed the sides of her belly and marvelled at how round it was. She pulled up her shirt, stunned and aroused by her bulging food baby. It didn't take her long to finish herself off, and after that, she passed out on the couch in a blissed-out food coma.
 

stevita

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NINE

Cindy rose with the sun the next day and immediately felt...different. Her shirt pulled a little snugger than it had before and her pants button was hanging on for dear life. Pulling up her shirt revealed that, while the swell of yesterday's gorge had fully deflated, she now had a small but undeniably squishy start of a muffin top spilling over her waistband.

"...What."

She ran to the bathroom and checked the mirror. She was a little fuller in the chest than she remembered, and was it just her imagination, or was her jawline a little less defined, too?

There was a scale in the corner of the bathroom, tempting her curiosity. Shaking with anticipation, she stepped on.

105.

105? How had that happened? The doctor said subjects gained five percent of their body weight throughout the whole clinical trial, and she had already put on that much in a day! Then again, all those other patients had probably followed the dosing information they were given.

This could be very bad. Could she get kicked out of the trial if it was discovered that she had abused her meds?

Willing herself to calm down, she took her next dose, exactly as directed. As the serum went to work, her anxiety dissipated, and soon, she was in the kitchen, ordering herself a breakfast of scrambled eggs, pancakes, and bacon--more than she'd ever been allowed to eat at home but still absolutely modest compared to last night's epic binge.

It was a challenge not to overdose again when she missed that happy, dazed intoxication she'd felt with her first glass of the serum. Luckily, later that afternoon, she found an alternate means of becoming intoxicated.

She was exploring the amenities when she met an old woman named Maude in the common lounge. Maude came from money and didn't need the stipend the study provided. However, she had signed up for the treatment hoping Dr. Casey's miracle drug could treat the digestive issues associated with her lifelong case of Chron's. ("Disgusting, isn't it," said Cindy. "This country could've cured so many diseases, but instead they chose to sink all that money into wars over oil," to which Maude replied, "Preaching to the choir, kiddo: I was alive for the wars.")

Being as wealthy as she was, Maude had access to liquor and was more than willing to share. Sipping whiskey together while playing card games in the lounge soon became Maude and Cindy's daily tradition.

Another daily tradition that Cindy couldn't seem to break the habit of was, last thing at night, chucking down an extra dose of her medicine and stuffing herself stupid. She'd told herself it was going to be a one-time thing, but she had lied. It just felt too exciting to give over to her long-repressed desires, and before the week was up, nightly stuffings had turned into all-day stuffings, beginning after her card games with Maude ended and finishing with a grand orgasm, after which she promptly passed out, only to wake up in the morning to find herself even heavier than the day before.

The day before her first check-up, Maude greeted her in the lounge with a smile. As she sat down at the card table, the old woman patted her tummy and said, "Someone's getting plump! I don't mean that as an insult, dear, just stating it as fact."

Cindy blushed. Unable to resist gorging herself at every opportunity, she had added a grand total of 25 pounds to her frame since she had arrived at the facility. She was still nowhere near fat (nowhere near fat enough, she thought secretly to herself.) In fact, now that her formerly stick-like limbs were starting to fill out, she looked more healthy than anything else. But compared to how thin she used to be, she was now absolutely thick all over.

"I know...I just didn't think you'd notice." She was wearing her longest shirt, which concealed the fact that she had her pants held closed with a hair tie, but even the shirt was tight around her fuller chest and upper arms. But Maude was pretty old, right? Cindy hadn't anticipated her being observant by any stretch of the word.

Maude laughed. "Honey, this medication has done wonders for my eyesight. Don't stress about it, though. As cold as it stays year-round, you'll feel better with a little extra padding. In fact, when you first walked in here, I was surprised you hadn't froze already."

"You could say that about most of the girls at my school."

"Yes, I guess it's fashionable to be undernourished these days," Maude agreed. She shook her head as she stood up to retrieve two glasses and poured them each two fingers of whiskey. "It didn't used to be this cold. Damn climate change. Polar ice caps melting and taking all the cold down here with 'em. And it's always been the same twenty asshole billionaire families fucking up the planet."

"Language, Ms. Maude!" Cindy teased.

"Don't you tell an old woman what she can't do," said Maude, bantering in turn before she cut the deck and began to shuffle. "Now, I hope you've got your head for arithmetic on, because today I'm going to teach you how to count cards."
 
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stevita

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TEN

That night, Cindy went on another binge, and in the morning, she skipped her card game with Maude to get all giddy on her meds and stuff herself nonstop again. She knew the doctor was coming in the evening to check on her, which was perhaps why her willpower broke. When her pleasure was so forbidden, taking it anyway made it all the sweeter.

She was high as a kite and sitting in bed, eating a cookies-and-cream pudding parfait, when the doctor came knocking. Watching her from the security monitor in her room with a view of the front door, Cindy called, "Come on in, it's open!" Almost immediately, she wished she had thought better of it.

She had had another growth spurt overnight. Her once nonexistent breasts were now fighting to escape her tight pajama shirt, her nipples hard with arousal from the sensuality of it all. She managed to put on a real shirt over her thin nightshirt, but there was no hope of any of the jeans that she'd packed would get up past her thickened thighs, not to mention her now globular ass and her waist--her belly still stuck out round and proud with her last full meal. She wondered if it would start to hang yet if her stomach was empty. She wouldn't know, she had launched straight into stuffing herself as soon as she was conscious that day.

In any case, the pajama pants would have to do.

"Good evening, Miss Mathison," said the doctor as she walked inside. Cindy quickly finished her pudding in two gulps and threw the biodegradable container and spoon in the trash. "I was wondering how you were doing with the treatment. I also wanted to ask you about some unusual reports I'm getting from your replicator and scale; I hope none of the machines need to be...recalibrated…"

When Cindy met her in the kitchen, her jaw dropped. Cindy blushed, hyperaware once more of her ill-fitting clothing.

"Oh my," said the doctor. "This is quite unprecedented in my research. Of course, if you'd like to opt out of the program, I completely understand. And you'll be compensated a hefty extra sum for the...ahem...damages."

"N-no!" said Cindy, a bit too quickly. She didn't want the study to end. Ever. "I mean, that's alright, Doctor. I'm happy to stay the course. And don't worry, it's not your fault."

Shit. How was she going to say this?

"I...um…" She shifted in place.

One foot to the other.

Oh come on, out with it.

"I upped my dosage," she admitted.

"By how much?"

"Most days I just took two doses, but there were a couple of times that I, uh...chugged it."

"Why would you do that?" The doctor's head was cocked, interested. Her brown eyes were wide.

Deep breath in. Out.

"This, it...might be a long conversation...and I was just about to order dinner...are you able to stay?"

The doctor shrugged. "Why not? You're my last appointment of the day," she said, and invited herself to a seat at the kitchen table.

Cindy couldn't decide between the eggplant parmesan and the pumpkin coconut curry with shrimp, so she ordered both for dinner, along with a side of 'pan' fries, a slice of tiramisu, and another pudding parfait--that last one had been seriously good! The doctor contented herself with grilled cheese on a croissant and a cup of tomato cream soup.

"Okay, I don't really know how to say this," Cindy prefaced as she faced the doctor across the table. She still had a little buzz going from the serum, though. Emboldened, she finally confessed: "Ever since I was little, I've wanted to...to get fat. And when you said your treatment was noted to cause weight gain, I guess I couldn't resist."

"Interesting," said Dr. Casey, "so it works both ways."

"I'm...I'm sorry?"

Dr. Casey gave a small chuckle and dipped the corner of her sandwich in her soup. "My younger sister was always drawn to...shall we say, individuals of size? Even before we were old enough to have sex drives, she used to make fat little figurines out of modelling clay in art class. It got her sent to the school counselor more than once. As we got older, she started paying attention to the more heavyset guys in our year. Of course, that was before the breeding program was implemented."

Cindy had seen the video in class, of course, of the President going on the news to announce that from then on, marriages and children would happen at the government's discretion, to breed healthier Americans who would be resilient in the event of another pandemic. That was before she was born. Some kids in school used to say it was a load of shit, and that ethnic cleansing was the true purpose of the breeding program. Those kids were quickly transferred to another school, or at least, that's what everyone was told.

"Cassandra was very popular amongst the young men she paid attention to. Many of them had never experienced female affection before, and she had them wrapped around her finger. Everyone else ostracized her, though. They made her out to be some sexual pervert. Cassie wasn't like that, though. She was very passionate about equal rights, not only for heavier people, but for the poor, the disabled, and minorities...she really cared about everyone."

Cindy's heart leapt. So, there were women out there that preferred fat men. Did that mean there were men out there that preferred fat women?

"She sounds wonderful. What does she do for a living?"

Dr. Casey sighed. A long, shuddering exhale left her throat. "She went to work for the CDC. But, radical as she was, the government didn't appreciate her ideas. They threw her in prison. By now she must be dead."

Cindy had just finished her dessert, and the news was sobering. Her buzz effectively wrecked, dinner seemed to sit heavier in the pit of her stomach. "I'm so sorry."

"It wasn't your fault. Now, let's get you checked up, yeah?" After they cleared the table, Dr. Casey busted out her equipment and took Cindy's vitals. They all came back normal--healthier, even, than a week ago--and, satisfied, the doctor took her leave with a promise to check back up regularly.
 

stevita

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ELEVEN

Cindy awoke to a package left in front of her door. Taking it inside, she tore it open to find a 1.75L bottle of her medication, along with a note: 'Saw you were running low. I don't want you missing a dose during the study. -Dr. C.'

Well, now it just felt like she had the doctor's blessing to overdose to her heart's content.

So long as she was consistent about it.

The next few weeks flew by in a daze of pure, unadulterated bliss, punctuated by long naps, laughs with Maude over drinks, old movies, marathonned late into the night, calls from Mom (which went unanswered and ignored), weekly visits from doctors that turned up no causes for alarm besides a startlingly climbing BMI, and the best food Cindy had ever tasted: rich, hearty gumbos, savory steaks, all manner of skewers, risottos, and whole cakes and pies, until the scale tipped at 180.

Not to mention the paychecks.

Her pay came by direct deposit to a card issued to her by the facility every two weeks, and by the time the second check landed, it was clear she had to replace her wardrobe. Nothing fit her except a bathrobe, and even that could no longer conceal her generous cleavage.

At her new highest weight, her belly had come in soft and pillow-like, resting gently against the tops of her thighs when she sat. Her ass was round and globular, her breasts nearly the size of her head, and her double chin was a done deal at any angle.

She ordered herself a few pairs of pants and tops in a size XL, and then, just to be self-indulgent, some workout attire in a size smaller.

It was a passing fantasy of hers, to work out squeezed into skintight clothes as everyone else at the gym watched her huff and puff and struggle with what an out-of-shape slob she had become, and--albeit under the influence of the serum and that day's day drinking session--she decided, now that she was properly chubby and had a gym at her disposal, why not?

She arrived at the gym one afternoon flush with excitement. Oh, there were stares, which she had expected. Her tight, hot pink crop top squeezed her boobs together to make them even more impressive, but other than that, it did her no favors, making her muffin top and armpit fat bulge against the seams. Her shorts were losing the battle against her burgeoning belly, its waistband rolling down an inch while the seat strained against her ass. Several guys snickered at her, and one young woman snorted like a pig.

But then there was Maude, on the stair machine, beckoning her over with a smile. "Cindy! Come over here! Damn, I'm having the time of my life! I ain't used a Stairmaster in decades!" As happy as she was, you'd think she was on a carnival ride. As Cindy got on the treadmill next to her, she dropped her voice and said, "Don't pay those folks any mind. People always get mad when you're happy to be different from them. Besides, since when did Mattie Lam become sexier than Marilyn Monroe?"

"Now there's two names I haven't heard in a while," said Cindy, starting the treadmill.

To her surprise, she didn't lose her breath. Within a few minutes, she had the machine running at its fastest setting, but she was still keeping perfect pace and not even aching for water. She decided to try out the other machines, all the while loving the feeling of her excess flesh bouncing and jiggling, until finally she tried her hand at lifting weights, which she had never done before.

A thin, athletic guy named Raoul, maybe in his early twenties, came to help her correct her form, but once she had the hang of it, he stood back, amazed, as she benched more than her own weight. "Not bad, for a girl," he said.

Not, 'for a fat girl.'

She reflected on her former self, the thin little waif who'd had trouble lifting her backpack off the ground at school, and realized she'd never said a proper goodbye to that skinny slip of a thing. Now, she wished she'd had the foresight to look that girl in the eyes in the mirror one last time and say, 'good riddance.'

"I wonder what else you can do. Say, do you want to shower together in my room?"

They didn't have full on intercourse, but they went pretty far.

It was no wonder, she thought, that he stayed so fit: clearly, he knew how to satisfy his appetite for food by eating other things instead.

In the morning, she took the walk of shame with vigor in her step, humming to herself and still feeling fantastic. She found a pair of kitchen scissors in her room and gave herself a choppy, chin-length haircut in the bathroom mirror. She took her medicine, helped herself to a big breakfast, and enjoyed a wonderful bubble bath while rubbing her full stomach under the soapy water.

Then, all too soon, it was time for the part of the study that actually made her nervous: the day she would be tested for resistance to pathogens.

"Don't be nervous," said Dr. Casey as she led the way out of the elevator and down the hall into the medical level of the facility. Cindy wondered when in the history of forever that had ever convinced a nervous person to have a change of heart. Before the appointment, she had repeated her dosage and attempted to steady her nerves with a family serving of chips and a half dozen donuts, but her heart still beat too fast in her chest as she was corralled into a small private examination room. There, the doctor had her change into a hospital gown behind a privacy curtain and sit on the bed while she had multiple sensors stuck to her skin, all plugged into a small handheld monitor.

Noting her darting eyes and rapid breathing, Dr. Casey said, "Ms. Mathison, I'm going to need you to calm down if I'm going to get an accurate read on your vitals."

Said, "If it helps, you can talk. Talk about anything. It might distract you."

"Who makes the food here?" It was the first thing that came to mind.

"The replicators make the food, of course." The doctor crossed the room, retrieved a syringe from a drawer, and filled it from a bottle she pulled from her inside coat pocket.

"I know that, but the machines aren't creative. Someone has to program them."

"Don't let them catch you saying that, or they'll be none too kind to you when the robot uprising comes around," the doctor joked. "But if you'd really like to know, I programmed the replicators."

"Where'd you learn to cook?"

"My grandmother."

"I bet she was a great lady."

"Delightful woman. Once killed thirteen cops."

Cindy gaped. "No shit?"

"Yes, shit," said Dr. Casey, continuing to work with distant precision. She swabbed Cindy's upper arm with an alcohol wipe and prepared to insert the syringe.

"What's that?"

"Just a local anaesthetic." The needle went in, and Cindy felt a tiny sting, but no pain after that. "Anyway, my family has a long history of being enemies of the state. My parents were actors, until they were blacklisted for starring in too many subversive and one might say anti-establishment films. My uncle was a maltodextrin dealer. And then there was Cassie…"

"Maltodextrin...isn't that the drug people used to get themselves too fat for the draft? During the Turkmen War?"

"I'll bet you got a kick out of that, reading about it in history class."

More like a raging lady boner.

"How'd you open this place?" asked Cindy. "How'd you get the funding, if everyone else in your family already had a target on their head?"

"That, I'm not so proud of. I sold out to the military. I'm no longer working for them, but I still get quite a substantial stipend...the things I had to do, though…

"If Cassie were still alive, I would be dead to her. She actually stopped speaking with me shortly after I signed on with the government. But I had a dream, a dream to improve American lives, and sometimes, Ms. Mathison, sometimes you have to make compromises.

"I developed a treatment for the army to enhance the senses of soldiers. With my help, special forces were altered so they could navigate by echolocation, sense objects, smell intentions, and never have to sleep. But then I found out: the soldiers being given the treatment were being brainwashed as killing machines. What's more, just so they couldn't see the gravity of their actions, Uncle Sam sewed their eyes shut."

Cindy had heard about Operation Unstoppable and how it was killed, but she didn't know the dirty details. "Someone leaked it to the public, right?"

Dr. Casey smirked. "Who do you think? See, I still have a humane bone in my body...I just didn't anticipate them cutting all the would-be supersoldiers loose to practice their conditioned bloodthirst in the streets."

So caught up in talking, Cindy never even noticed the second needle going in her arm until the doctor was pulling it out. "What was that?"

"That, my dear, was H1N1."

Cindy tensed. "Swine flu."

"You seem to know your way around medicine."

"My parents want me to be a doctor."

"And what do you want to be?"

Cindy thought for a minute. "Free."

Dr. Casey studied her monitor for a while. Scowled. Puzzled. Then, she smiled with glee. "Amazing! Your body has killed the infection in record time! Then again, I shouldn't be surprised. You do have...uh...quite a reserve of surplus energy that can be diverted into fighting off pathogens."

"So I'm healthier...because I'm fat?"

"The science has said for decades now that carrying a little extra weight protects your health, but who listens?" said Dr. Casey. "In any case, you've done a good job for me today. Now let's get you back into your clothes and to your room."
 

stevita

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PART THREE: A BURNING WORLD

TWELVE

Jace knew it didn't feel like summer should feel--or at least, how it used to feel, back when he was a little boy. Temperatures averaged in the 40s and 50s at the end of July, and even in the bunker, with a fully functional fireplace and heating system, he could still tell the warmth was missing from the days, but only because he read the thermostat. He had never felt warmer in his life.

It made perfect sense: he had picked up an awful lot of insulation lately. The last time he had checked the scale, he had been drawing close to that milestone 3-0-0. Now, a week later, here he was, on his back in bed, stark naked. His hips, waist, and thighs had all widened to such plush and lofty proportions that nothing fit him anymore, but it wasn't as if he would offend the good doctor's sensibilities if she was functionally blind, and besides, he already knew she liked fat men. She had ordered him some clothes using a stolen debit card, but they had yet to arrive at the PO box she maintained under a pseudonym somewhere in the city, so for now, his birthday suit would have to do.

In her usual all-black regalia, Cassandra straddled his generous hips as she spoon-fed him the last bite of a not-to-be-scoffed-at pan of bread pudding. Course number one had been stuffed mushrooms, followed by a filet, medium rare, with creamed greens of some sort and mashed potatoes rich in texture with butter and the skins still on, but the pudding accounted for most of his huge meal and he rested his hands on her thighs, the upper crest of his belly doming upward and outward, drum-tight and struggling to stretch.

Setting the dish aside on the nightstand, stacked on top of the others, she leaned forward to caress his doughy arms and softened chest. Her mask was off, but she still wore her special cloth bandages wrapped around her whole head and neck, down into her clothing, leaving only her mouth exposed. It was enough, though, that he at least got to see her smile, proof of how proud she was of him. "You did so good for me tonight, Dr. LeCrone."

"You and all of America," he reminded her. Although, true though it was that their scheme to make the public aware of the government's treachery hinged on him being able to infiltrate his old workplace unrecognized, he liked to think he was fattening up for Cassandra, helping to make up for her long suffering by giving her the simple pleasure of having more to cuddle up with as she was so inclined to do. And he was doing it for himself: since she had taken him in, he had surrendered to indulgence, and it made him the happiest he had ever felt.

"Think anyone you knew could identify you now?" she asked.

"I don't know," he said between labored breaths. "Between the coworkers and the face scanning software, I might--oof--want to put on some more weight just to be safe. If only we had some malto...but all the old kingpins are dead, aren't they?"

Cassandra smirked. "My darling...haven't you figured out by now that I'm full of surprises?"

"But how--?"

"I have an elderly uncle who used to be the first name in maltodextrin on the gulf coast during the war. He no longer deals, but he still knows where to get it, and I was able to get him to set me up with a family discount. Wait right here, and I'll do the dishes and then I'll fix you a little malto milkshake to fill up the empty spaces." She patted the side of his belly--it quivered and he let slip a small belch.

"It's...ooh...not like I'm going anywhere."

"You know, Doctor...I think I might love you, too. Especially since there's so much of you to love now!"

His heart began to race.

As she left, he squirmed in bed, trying to get comfortable. He used to lament the fact that he couldn't touch her intimately, skin to skin, at least, not without causing her excruciating pain. But right now, he was so stuffed that even as he popped a boner at the sight of how fat he'd gotten, he couldn't even fathom the thought of getting himself off. All he could do was rub his distended belly, belch softly, and hope the bloatation would pass soon and allow him to sit up.

Well, it passed. He even got enough of a break to relax and digest enough to sit up and check the time on the tablet that Cassandra had left on the nightstand. It was 8:20. Soon, he was craving that milkshake; 'dear Lord, what have I gotten into' turned into 'bring it on' as he began to miss the now-familiar pressure in his gut telling him he was oh so sinfully full.

And she still wasn't back.

Still naked, he heaved himself out of bed, letting curiosity lead the way. Curiosity and just a little impatience.

He found her in the living room, sitting on the couch, with the TV on, listening intently.

"...Insiders are saying that this so-called miracle drug can cure viral and bacterial infections, as well as prevent common ailments such as tooth decay, bone decay, and malnutrition," a bland, blonde news anchor was saying to the camera and microphone before the screen switched to an elderly woman whose name, emblazoned in white letters on a red banner, was Maude Sommers.

"I feel great!" said Maude. "The treatment cured my Chron's disease! And I can move around like I couldn't before, and I can think a lot clearer and my eyesight is like I'm eighteen again!"

A short montage was shown of Maude's progress, from a frail old lady with a hunched stance to how she looked today: fuller in the cheeks, more vibrant in the eyes, with better posture, and smiling.

The screen returned to the reporter. "And yet, some officials are worried about the controversial statements made by Dr. Victoria Casey, the mind behind this treatment."

The screen switched again to a voluptuous, brown-skinned brunette, perhaps in her 50s, with curly hair and a strikingly familiar set of determined brown eyes.

"Who is that?" asked Jace.

"Nobody."

"She doesn't look like nobody," said Jace. He almost said, 'she looks like you'. Well, the way Cassandra used to look. But he realized that if he were in her shoes, he wouldn't want to be reminded that he had been mutilated by the government, and thought better of it. "And she has your last name."

Into the microphone, Victoria Casey said, "It's always been my aim to protect the health of the American public. I believe I've had my breakthrough. And, if we're able to make this treatment mainstream--if we're able to get it into the hands of every American--it would mean an end to medical debt. It would mean an end to many of the struggles associated with poverty. And it would mean the obsolescence of the selective breeding program."

Cassandra sighed deeply and turned off the TV.

"She's my older sister," she said, "and boy, are they going to crucify her."
 

stevita

like the pancake
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
277
Location
Texas
THIRTEEN

Dear Valued Participant,

Thank you for taking part in our immunity research study! Due to the unprecedented efficacy of our investigated treatment, it has been decided that no further study is required before the treatment is released to the public. Therefore, your services are no longer required, though you will continue to be compensated for the duration of the timeframe outlined in your initial contract.

If you have left a vehicle in the facility's parking garage, you are free to leave after checking out with the front desk. If you have not, your next of kin have been contacted to arrange your travel home. You are required to vacate the facility by 5:00 PM on this date, July 25, 2084, so that staff can perform routine cleaning and maintenance.

Please find enclosed a supply of the formula with which you were provided throughout the duration of this study. Though yet to be cleared for distribution by the FDA, it is compatible with standard household replicator technology.

Thanks once again for your valuable time and for your cooperation. Together, we have taken a great step in improving healthcare for all in our country.

Best regards,

Dr. Victoria Casey

***

With just a little under two weeks left in the study, Cindy awoke late one day, took her medicine, replicated herself a full buffet of breakfast fare, and went to town. As she approached the 200 mark, it amazed her just how much food it took for her just to feel full, much less achieve that stuffed-to-bursting feeling she craved. But eventually she reached her limit, belched profanely, and took a long nap, if it was still called a nap if you passed out at the kitchen table.

She woke up to three missed texts from Maude:

11:30: Where are you honey?

12:23: Just going to leave an old bitch hanging?

1:12: Guess I'm playing solitaire today

Feeling guilty, she trudged sleepily to the bedroom, pulled on some clothes, and stepped outside, thinking she would see if her friend was still out and about so she could apologize proper.

That's when she found the letter and another 1.75L bottle outside her door.

She checked her phone again. It was 4:30.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.

She had planned to hire a driver and go straight from the research center to university, but it looked like that wasn't going to happen now.

Sweet Jesus...her mom must already be en route to pick her up.

And when she saw her like this, she was going. To. Flip.

***

Growing up, Victoria Casey had never been seen as a rebel, but when you came from a long line of dissidents, a conformist was the most rebellious thing you could be.

Growing up, Tori looked at the world around her and thought back on her cop-killing grandma, and her drug-dealing uncle, and her socialist-propagandist mother, and took a long, hard look at the world and came to the conclusion that while her family's hearts were in the right place, in the long run, the world hadn't gotten any better for their efforts. In fact, it had gotten steadily worse.

So she came to the conclusion that in order to make things better, she had to make improvements to the system she was born into.

She grew up saying "yes ma'am" and "yes sir" to teachers, acing her classes, avoiding drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex, and, once she was old enough, voting for the candidates who were most aligned with her beliefs. When she was upset with policy, she called her senators.

Then, her favorite cousin was executed for impregnating a woman outside of the breeding program. That had hurt. But she forged onward, determined to do some real good. She researched cures. She helped people. And when her funds were looking low, and the largest terrorist organization in the world approached her for a need of a doctor of her talent, she signed her soul away on the dotted line, because the name of that terrorist organization was the US Military, and if she signed on with them, she was golden.

That was when Cassie estranged her. She always thought they would reconcile. But then, she caught word of her sister's incarceration, which could only mean her imminent death…

Something snapped in Tori then.

And she hatched a plan.

She would take her funding, develop a cure for all one's ills, and release it into the public. In this way, she could arm the poor and destitute in the class war long overdue.

She had just released 200 people into society with her miracle drug, more or less instructed them to replicate it, and taken it on good faith that they would share it with anyone in need.

It was time for a revolution.

But she couldn't stick around. After the statement she had just given to the press, the government would be after her head.

So she took a bus north, with half a contingency plan baked, and prayed that America would do the right thing.
 

stevita

like the pancake
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
277
Location
Texas
FOURTEEN

(TW in this chapter for implied attempted sexual assault. If you don't want to read that, skip to the end for a summary.)

"Another shot before we're released back into the wild?"

"Make it a double," said Cindy, before raising her glass with Maude in the lounge a final time. She downed her shot in one, no chaser.

"Damn, honey, you're getting good at this!"

"Let's just hope I don't withdraw once you're no longer around to supply me. Say, you didn't drive here, did you?"

"My grandson dropped me off, and he'll be picking me up. But I think I can drive now! And don't worry about the withdrawals: that Dr. Casey really is a genius, I'm sure her treatment will keep you feeling right as rain. For the rest of your days, too! That bottle she sent us off with might just be my lifetime's supply. I know I'm an old woman. But as for you, you can just give a sample to your replicator at home and you're golden! What I wouldn't have gave to have a chance like this when I was your age...one little dose, once a day, and then never have to worry about getting sick...did I ever tell you about the pandemic of the 2040s?"

Cindy was listening, she really was. But she was tearing up, too, as the realization dawned on her that this was goodbye. In the middle of Maude's story about living in the time of lockdowns and mandatory mask use, she closed the distance between them and wrapped her up in a hug.

"Thanks for being my friend, Maude!" she said. "I'm sorry I missed cards today!"

"Damn, Cindy! Ease up on the force! I may be in the best health in years, but I. Am. Still. OLD!"

"Whoops! Sorry! Didn't mean to crush you," said Cindy, pulling back.

It was with dread that she picked up her bags and made her way to the atrium of the facility. She was lightheaded. She could feel her pulse in her ears. Her mother was going to kill her…

Only, it wasn't her mother in the atrium. Mom had sent a valet to pick her up, some twentysomething Hispanic guy that she had never seen before, holding a sign with her name on it. Every muscle in her body relaxed. She could have shit herself with relief. He had no reason to be upset with her, and no reason to believe he was meant to pick up a girl about half her size. She still couldn't go home, but at least she had time to think of a strategy.

She accompanied the valet, whose name was Valdomero, to his car, where she quietly took a seat in the back.

For the first few miles, she was silent, just watching the scenery roll by through the window. This part of Texas was a mix-up for sure. Pockets of affluence met pockets of destitution at random seams throughout the drive. It was in one of these pockets of destitution that she paused to really consider her options and contemplated losing her escort.

She checked to see if she had any new texts from her family, only to remember that at some point in a food-drunk stupor, she had blocked all their numbers.

Maybe they wouldn't be home, she thought to herself. Maybe they were off in DC on some political agenda and she'd have the house to herself until the semester started.

Or maybe her mother would boil over with rage at the sight of her now and drag her by the hair to a clinic where she'd have the last months' progress sucked out of her. She had heard horror stories from her school friends about weight loss clinics, from botched surgeries that left you with lifelong digestive problems to failed anaesthetic that had you awake on the table mid-procedure, screaming internally, still paralyzed and powerless. That whole industry, in the boom of its demand, resorted to cutting more and more corners in the modern era to keep overhead costs low, but the girls at high school still dealt with it, reasoned with themselves that it wasn't so bad, even, because they'd rather be tortured than stay fat in a country where it was considered anywhere from undesirable to, depending on the circumstances, criminal.

She could lose the suitcase in the trunk, she decided, as long as she had the backpack full of drugs, her phone, and a prepaid debit card loaded with a cool $43,000. She'd find an alternative means of transportation to college. Or maybe, her future be damned. She never really wanted to go anyway. She didn't know what she wanted to do. Where was it written that you had to know at eighteen what you wanted to do with the rest of your life?

Anymore, only one thing was certain: she was not going home.

As they came up on a convenience store, she said to the driver, "Can we stop? I need to use the bathroom."

He parked and let her out of the car, and if he had any questions as to why she took her bag inside with her, he didn't ask. Sometimes girls needed to change their, you know, their stuff, that stuff they kept shoved deep into their bags so that no one would see it and know what, you know, what time of the month it was.

She made her way to the back of the store, where she dipped out through the service exit.

From there, she broke into a light jog, zigzagging through alleyways and figuring in a few blocks, she would be in the clear. Jogging presented a particular distraction; it was always arousing to feel each ounce of her new figure bounce and jiggle with her movement. Dammit...she should have packed at least a change of panties in the backpack, because now hers were soaked. She wondered when and if her body would ever stop feeling so novel and exciting…

It was in the middle of this contemplation that she tripped on uneven ground and faceplanted on the pavement.

Well, she wasn't invincible.

Her palms were scraped open from catching herself and her phone screen was cracked, but she might have cracked a bone if not for her recently acquired padding. All in all, things weren't as bad as they could have been.

She ducked into an alley behind a pile of debris to collect her things. Grunting with effort, she shoved her phone and wallet into her pockets and decided to discard her purse. Less things to juggle meant an easier trek.

Just then, footsteps approached. She heard a male voice: "Y'all hear that, boys? Sounded like lady sounds."

"Smells like blood."

"H-hello?" Cindy called into the falling dusk.

"Ah, she's got one of them telephone voices too. Bet she feels real nice inside."

Fuck. Why hadn't she started running already?

Three men walked into the alley. The fact that it was white guys wearing dreadlocks told her enough...but then she saw their eyes, or rather, the eyes tattooed on their eyelids along with clowning smiles and exaggerated eyebrows. Their eyes themselves were sealed shut.

Boy, was she in some deep shit now.

Dr. Casey had told her about the abandoned super-soldier project, but nothing could have prepared her to come face to face with its rejects.

She got up and ran as fast as her thickened legs would carry her, but it was no use. Even as she turned corners and got herself lost in a maze of urban sprawl, they were gaining on her quickly. She may have been in peak physical condition thanks to the treatment, but she was no match for literal mutants, and it wasn't long before one of the men took her down. She fell once more, hard, with his weight on top of her, his arms around her waist…

"Aw, nasty! It's a fat bitch!" he shouted, recoiling. Then, she heard POP-POP-POP! and all three of her assailants hit the ground.

Her savior was standing on a dumpster, but as the bodies went limp, he hopped down to Cindy's level. "Close call, huh? I've been trailing these fools for miles after they killed one of my own. But I guess it's time to go home now. Say…"

Holstering his gun, he helped her to her feet and lifted her chin ever so slightly so that he could get a look at her. He was a good head taller than she was, with dark buzzed hair and a golden brown complexion. He needed a shower, along with a good meal--seeing the sharp cut of his jawline and the narrow spread of his waist compared to his broad shoulders made her ache somewhere deep down. But there was a warmth and kindness in his round, brown eyes as he said, "You don't belong to these streets, do you?"

She shrugged. "I'm kind of between lives right now."

"Kind of between…? God, that's beautiful. Tell you what, if you want, you can swing by my squat and we can get you cleaned up before you decide what your next move about to be. I'm Ty, by the way."

"Pleasure." She didn't miss it when he gave her a conspicuous once-over. In fact, it made her blush a little. It was nice, getting attention in her new, plump body. As long as she wasn't, you know, getting attacked. "I'm Cindy Math--"

"Shhh." He held a finger against her lips. "No last names. This here's a dangerous world. Best not to form attachments. Now c'mon. If you want. I parked round the corner."

She followed him to his beat-up old sedan, eyes widening. "Is that a gas car?" She wasn't aware any of those were still running, what with the world's oil supply being depleted.

"Out here in these streets, you find what you can get," said Ty, "and ya make do."

((For anyone who needed the trigger warning: our intrepid heroine just ditched her valet back home and, in the middle of her escape attempt, got assailed by three former supersoldiers before a stranger came to her rescue and offered her a place to get her bearings.))
 

stevita

like the pancake
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
277
Location
Texas
FIFTEEN

"Is that a gas car. She said!" Ty chuckled as he opened the car door for her. "I'm surprised you wasn't more worried about the gun."

"Yeah, well." Like most people, Cindy had grown up told to believe certain things, like that skinny girls were prettier than fat girls and that guns were bad unless they were in the hands of police officers, but deep down, she wasn't good at doing what she was told. "Your seat is...awfully claustrophobic. How do you move the seat back on this dinosaur?" she asked, feeling uncomfortably close to the dashboard with her backpack pressed between the glove box and her chest.

"Here, I got you." He pulled a lever by her right side and let her scoot back until she was satisfied.

"Better?"

"Much."

"Well, now that you happy…"

He walked around to the driver's seat, got in, and keyed the ignition. The engine came to life with an offensive roar. "Oh my god, is it going to explode?!"

"Nah, we fine, girl," said Ty. "Worst case, we run outta gas and it stops, but in that case we'll just find another old beater abandoned on the road with a half a tank left and take that instead."

They were silent for a while, listening to static on the antiquated radio. Ty muttered something about how it helped him drive. After some time, he asked her what she was thinking. She was thinking that she felt bad for Valdomero. Families like hers were the only reason the handful of blue-collar jobs like his still existed: the rich liked to have a little human touch in their service. That was probably the only reason Cindy had managed to escape: if not for him coming to pick her up, it would have been an automated cab straight home.

And she had probably doomed the poor guy to homelessness. She could just hear her mother screeching at him…

But she didn't say anything. She wasn't sure how much she wanted to reveal. She trusted Ty--he had saved her life, after all--but she didn't know if she had the energy to explain why she had needed to make a break from her valet, which in turn would mean explaining the events of her life over the past couple of months. Today had happened so fast, she was way too exhausted for that.

Exhausted and hungry.

Her stomach growled insistently, audible over the 'music'.

He glanced in her direction. "Thinkin' bout food, I see. Girl, I got you." He pulled into a small automated drive thru. "What you want?"

"What's good here?"

"I don't know, I don't like that replicated crap. And just so you know, when we get back to the place, I'll be making you a nice dinner. But if you want a little snack in the meantime, it's on me. You like apple pie?"

"I love apple pie!" she said eagerly. Nevermind that she had only tried it for the first time within the last couple of months. She was curious about this promised dinner--she had never had home-cooked food before. But she was hungry NOW, and not in that gentle way induced by the serum. This was fierce, haven't eaten in hours, clawing-at-her-insides hunger.

He keyed her order into the keypad and paid before she could mention that she had money, then drove up to the next window and picked up a brown paper bag. He handed it to her and she took out what looked like a turnover. It was warm and light, and biting into it, she found it flaky on the inside with a dense apple filling. It could use some improvement: maybe a topping of sugar crystals, and more cinnamon mixed in with the apples. Man, she was spoiled after experiencing a whole summer of Dr. Casey's cooking. But she wasn't going to complain since Ty was being so benevolent, and besides, it satisfied her hunger, for now. Once or twice while she was eating, she caught Ty glancing her way before his eyes returned to the road and she flushed, suddenly self-conscious and worried about making a mess even though he didn't seem the least bit concerned about the car.

She brushed the crumbs from her lap into the bag, balled it up, and stuffed the trash into her backpack, not wanting to be discourteous.

"Do you mind if I hit my vape?" he asked.

She regarded him with her head cocked. She hadn't initially pegged him for the sophisticated gentleman type, but if there was one thing she should know by now, it was that people were full of surprises.

"Not at all. THC or nicotine?"

"CBD. Helps for the nerves. You want some?"

"Sure, hand it over."

She was getting comfortable with him.

He took a hit. She took a hit. It was nice. She felt relaxed. A little sleepy.

Finally, they arrived at a hotel. The parking lot was chillingly empty as he parked and led the way inside. There were no staff.

He brought her into a luxurious room. There were two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living space, the works. Three people were sitting around in the living room: another man, perhaps a little older and darker than Ty, and then a kid of about sixteen with curly hair and a band shirt on, and a woman, mid-twenties, dark skin, braids, burgundy dye job. "Cin, this is Ax, Q, and Mal. Gang, this is Cin. Found her by a dumpster," he said impassively. She raised an eyebrow. She couldn't tell if he was putting on an air now, or if he had been in the car when he was acting all attentive, almost sweet. But the gang quickly warmed up to her, so she guessed this was just the way they talked to one another.

"Been there, he found me facedown in a ditch by the side of the road," said the girl, who stood up to offer her a fist bump. The guys, similarly, rose to greet her.

"Welcome to the family," one of them said.

"Oh, by the way, guys, mission accomplished." Ty dipped into the kitchen and returned with a bottle of liquor and five plastic cups.

"Shit, I'll drink to that," said the girl. He poured them all up, filling his own cup to the brim, and left the bottle on the table for anyone else who might want a refill. Nobody did, though, and after downing her measure, Cindy could see why. Whatever he poured was clear and tasted the way she imagined nail polish remover would taste. Ty was the only one who was able to chug his in one, and when everyone else filed into line at the sink to take a drink of water and wash the taste out of their mouth, Cindy followed suit.

"Pussies," said Ty, but his tone was still good-humored. "I'll start dinner, yeah?" He showed Cindy where she could stash her stuff and then set to work in the kitchen, with her still close at his heels, her curiosity and her hunger both reawakened even though she had missed the second dose of serum she usually took before dinnertime. It would appear that a summer of unrestricted hedonism had had a lasting impact on her capacity and her appetite.
 

stevita

like the pancake
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
277
Location
Texas
SIXTEEN

The kitchen had one of those antique setups, with an oven, four burners, and a vent hood up top. It was the sort of thing most people Cindy's age had seen in a history book, but wouldn't know how to use, like a manual corkscrew or a hammer and nail or a 4G phone. The hotel, Ty explained, was one of those fancy ones where rich people stayed who brought staff to cook and ate real food, or at least, it had been before the owners defaulted on their rent. According to him, if you keyed into the local rumor mill, you'd hear about upcoming evictions on commercial properties like this. Most business owners fled before the police could drag them out, and with some luck you could find yourself a nice little squat with its water and power still on. Keeping the fridge and cabinets stocked, he said, was as easy as shooting out the tires of an automated produce convoy headed for wealthier driveways.

While he talked, he put some rice on to boil, took another shot of liquor, and set about cooking chicken, shrimp, pork…

She watched, amazed, as he checked each pot and pan in turn, eventually adding celery, bell peppers, onions...she had never seen any of these vegetables whole before.

Tomatoes…

More spices than she could name…

He tipped the rice into one of the frying pans...

"What are you making?" she asked.

He took another shot. "Just a little jambalaya. They gave it to us at the w--at my school all the time. Replicated, of course. I had to reverse-engineer this recipe myself. Took a lot of trial and error, but I think I did an alright job."

"I'll be the judge of that--you might have guessed, but I happen to be a connoisseur of good food." She smirked. Fuck. Where had that come from? The alcohol must have emboldened her.

He gave her another one of those glances up and down, said nothing, poured another shot, raised his cup, and downed it.

By the time he served dinner at the coffee table in the living room, he was stumbling, but he still managed to get everyone's food onto a plate and into their hands. Wedged between Q (who she had by now deduced was the girl of the ensemble) and one of the boys, she spooned up a bite, put it in her mouth, and gazed, starry-eyed, up at Ty.

It. Was. Delicious.

The rice was perfectly seasoned and fluffy, the meat succulent, and the vegetables a soft medley tying together the dish.

She could honestly marry him.

Catching her eye, he smirked once more. God, she was already coming to enjoy those smiles of his. "The food tastes better when it lived and died, doesn't it?"

She used to think animal slaughter was one of those barbaric things rich folks still did just because they could and it was horrifying. She still found it horrifying. But she couldn't deny that the food was better than any replicated dish she had ever had (sorry, Dr. Casey), and it was hard to raise a moral objection against impeccable flavor. And if it was already dead, they might as well eat it here, in a foreclosed hotel, instead of letting it go to the need-nots, right? (Wow, within a couple hours she had already come to feel at home as part of a ragtag band of vagabonds.)

"I have to hand it to you, Ty. You're a great cook. So...what is it you all do?"

"We're the new resistance, baby!" chimed one of the boys.

Ty shook his head and chuckled. "Curb your enthusiasm. We're just a bunch of folks fallen out from the system, tryna survive."

"And what about you, Cin, what's your story?" asked Q.

"You know the rules. She'll volunteer information if she wants to," said Ty, refilling everyone's plates as they began to run low (well, Cindy had been done for a while now).

"Aren't you eating anything?" asked Cindy.

"Nah, I don't want to wreck my buzz."

"You know, you'll stay buzzed longer with some food in your system. Otherwise you'll pass out pretty quick."

"Trust me, hun, when it comes to vodka, I'm a professional." He poured himself another shot and downed it. "You want the last of it, girl?" he asked, preparing to tip the rest of the jambalaya out of the pan and onto her plate. "You seem to be enjoying yourself."

She certainly was. She had become quite the sucker for fantastic food. But she wasn't blind. Ty was obviously the leader around here, and it was clear why the others followed him. From what she could tell, he had found this place and set them up in comfort. Here he was, cooking, serving all their needs, on his feet while he allowed them to kick back and relax...if he was always this attentive to them, it was no wonder they let him make the rules and reduce them all to single syllables. But there was a point where selflessness became self-abuse.

And he was so, so painfully thin.

She looked up straight into his eyes and said, "No, Ty, I want you to eat it."

He chuckled. "Well, if it'll please the lady."

"It will."

He still refused to sit down, but he obliged her in eating, right from the pan with the serving spoon until he had cleaned it. "Damn. I am pretty good, aren't I?"

Later on, when he was clearing the table, Cindy jumped up to help. Meanwhile, the others turned on the TV.

Onscreen, a news reporter was saying, "Having fled the research facility, Dr. Victoria Casey is now wanted for questioning by the FBI. She is also a suspect in the kidnapping of Cynthia Mathison, daughter of Senator George Mathison from Texas."

A picture of her waifishly thin face from before the study flashed on the screen. Frozen in place with a stack of plates in her hands, she tried to gauge the others' reactions.

"This is bullshit if I ever saw it," said the guy in the band shirt.

"I heard that doctor wants to obsolete the breeding program. That's why they want to get rid of her," said Q.

No one seemed to have recognized her.

She brought the dishes into the kitchen, where Ty was hard at work washing the pots and pans and drinking, drinking, drinking.

Without turning to face her, he said, "You the missing girl, ain't you?"

Said, "You gave me half yo last name, I put it together."

Said, "Don't worry. I won't tell."

Said, "By the way, that was a good idea. Changing your image. I don't know what you running from and I don't know why, but apparently now they think your ass kidnapped, and nobody finna recognize you."

"Actually…"

Ty was making it abundantly clear that he held everyone at arm's length. He was going out of his way to avoid learning anything about her, as if afraid she might die right before his eyes and he didn't want to be too attached if she did. But a spark of affection for him was already building inside her, and she wanted to give him at least one tiny piece of herself for him to mull over.

"Actually, I gained all that weight for fun," she said.

He laughed. "Damn. Back at home base there's an old computer I found forever ago with a bunch of literature on it you finna love." He took the plates out of her hands, stumbled, and promptly dropped them. They shattered on the kitchen floor, making a mess. "Here, I'll get the broom--"

Her eyebrows knitted in concern. "No, you've drank too much. You need to lie down." With both a delicacy and sternness she hadn't known she was capable of, she led him to one of the bedrooms and let him collapse into bed. He kicked his shoes into a wastepaper bin by the bedside, which she guessed he hadn't meant to do, so she fished them out and set them on the floor.

"Is there anything you need?" she asked. "Water? Piece of bread?"

"I'm fine," he said, but she didn't believe that for a second. So she sat down on the bed, keeping watch over him. Eventually, he passed out. He looked more peaceful asleep. Untroubled. When he rolled onto his back, she pulled him back onto his side so if he threw up, he wouldn't choke on his vomit.

She started to get comfortable. She reclined against the pillows, kicked up her feet, and watched him breathe.

And in his sleep he wrapped his arms around her waist and clung like his life depended on it.

"Knew you were human," she muttered softly and caressed his head with the side of her pinky finger.
 

stevita

like the pancake
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
277
Location
Texas
SEVENTEEN

When Cindy woke up the next day, Ty was still passed out hard. As gently as possible, she slid out of bed so as not to wake him, crept to the kitchen, and took her things out of the cabinet where she'd stashed them to take her morning meds.

The kid in the band shirt was already up, eating cereal on the sofa, but she didn't think he'd seen her take her dosage, and for now, she was going to keep her identity and her involvement in the study under wraps. She knew these people were vagabonds, but she couldn't force them to be knowingly complicit in the harboring of a missing daughter of a prominent politician. "There anything else to eat around here?" she asked.

"Plenty, take your pick."

So she wandered back into the kitchen, and he followed her back there as she made herself a sandwich with some bread and cheese she found in the fridge. "You're--?"

"Mal. I know it can get confusing. You're not gonna warm that up?"

She shrugged. "I don't know how."

"Here. And really, you're just gonna eat it dry?"

"Like I said, I'm not exactly a chef."

"Here, I got you. You like spice?"

"Love it."

He opened her sandwich and squirted a drizzle of some kind of red sauce from the fridge inside before throwing some butter into a pan and placing the sandwich on it to warm. "Ty didn't give you any trouble last night, did he?"

She blinked. "No, why? Is he known to be troublesome?"

"It's nothing bad, he just likes to drink, and I wanted to make sure he didn't get too drunk and throw up on your shoes or something like that. You can hardly blame him though. He's had a hard life."

Cindy knew Mal probably shouldn't have been offering her any information on Ty, but curiosity burned inside her about the man who'd so graciously saved her life. So she let him continue: "His parents had him outside of the breeding program. They were executed, but not before he came to term. This country makes such a big deal about not killing babies, as if what they do to the ones born outside the program is more humane somehow."

Her sandwich was ready. He plated it for her and she bit in. It was hot, hot enough to burn the roof of her mouth, but the pain only lasted for a second before her accelerated healing started to kick in.

"What do they do to them?" asked Cindy.

"They throw them in work camps to build machines all day. It's rough physical labor and most of them never make it to twenty. They just work to the bone until they're dead."

"Jesus," she said. "I can see why he drinks."

"Yeah, he's recently gone through some other traumatic stuff, too. There was another girl with us, Mae, but she got killed. We came here so Ty could get his revenge; he really didn't want to let it go. They were close." Mal sat down at the table with Cindy and returned to his cereal.

"How did he bust out? Of the work camp?"

"That he doesn't talk about, so I'm inclined to think he killed someone. I know he has killed before, but I've never seen it with my own two eyes."

That brought a warmth, albeit a morbid one, to Cindy's insides. She felt like a member of an exclusive club.

"He can lay waste to a machine, though, that I know. He saved me from correctional bots when I was thirteen."

"And what was your crime?" she asked.

"My parents were trying to reserve me a spot in the breeding program, but I don't like girls like that. So I ran off. Fell in with this gang," said Mal. "Anyway, if you're coming back to home base with us, Mae's old clothes should fit you, she was about your size. You are coming, right?"

***

They shipped out a few days later, bound for home base in Richmond, Texas in the old beater car once they had run out of supplies. It was Ty driving with Q and Cindy taking turns in the shotgun seat while the boys sat in back, Q and Ax having to constantly remind Mal about his seat belt. Just like he had at the hotel, Ty made sure his people wanted for nothing, always happy to make a stop to pick up a snack for them. He was especially attentive to Cindy, but she wasn't sure if it was because he genuinely had a torch for her, or simply because her appetite demanded it.

Or if it was because she reminded him of his dead girlfriend.

Her heart ached at the thought that she was just someone else's replacement.

She hoped it was Option A.

And just like at the hotel, she was the only one who made sure he ate something, too.

She was opening a package of snack cakes in the shotgun seat, the others all asleep in the backseat, when she offered, "Twinkie?"

He smirked that charming smirk of his and said, "If I didn't know better…"

"If you didn't know better, what?"

"I'd think you were trying to fatten me up, Cin."

She blushed scarlet. Okay, guilty as charged, she meant to...to fatten him up, a little. But it sounded so malicious when it was put that way! It was one thing to eat your way out of your entire wardrobe, but quite another to push food on someone until they started rounding out…

Although, he did look to have filled out in the few days since she had taken it upon herself to look after him and make sure he was consuming more than just alcohol. She wished she could say this wasn't her intention, but that would be a lie. His face was still slim, but it had lost the harsh hollows in his cheeks and under his eyes. She couldn't tell about the rest of him, though, his baggy clothes hung too loosely over his frame.

And still he sat there grinning.

"Do you want the Twinkie or not?"

"Only if you'll do the honors."

She didn't think it would be possible to blush even deeper, but she felt her face heat once more as the understanding dawned on her what he meant.

She slid the little cake out of its package and held it to his lips. He ate it in three bites, not savoring it in the slightest. He had said he didn't like replicated food. But this wasn't about the food, was it? It was about pleasing her.

As she placed the last bite in his mouth, he took her around the wrist and held her hand close so he could suck her fingers clean.

Goddammit! How could someone so aloof be so seductive?

About that time, the car ran out of gas.

The others awoke with a start. "This is gonna be fine," Ty reasoned as they all got out. "Abandoned cars are everywhere out here in these streets, we'll have some luck."

They made it about a mile up the freeway on foot, but no such car appeared out of the abyss. They did have a stroke of luck, though: after an hour or so, a pickup truck pulling a boat headed inbound from the coast stopped on the empty road. The driver hesitated, as if sizing them up before he stepped out. It was some fortysomething with a receding hairline in a Hawaiian shirt and board shorts. Midlife crisis much? "Y'all need a ride?"

"We're headed for Richmond," Cindy nodded.

"We have money we can wire you for gas," Ty added.

The man scoffed. He glanced at his truck and his boat, then back to the travelers and said, "Does it look like I'm hurting for cash? I will be needing some, ahem, compensation, though."

It was Q who stepped up to the plate. "I see," she said, approaching him and winding an arm around his shoulders. "You'd be doing us quite the favor, and I'm willing to be very accommodating."

"That's the idea," said the man. "But I think I'll take the other one."

Ty squeezed Cindy's hand. "You don't have to do this. We can keep walking."

But even as she filled with dread, she squeezed back and said, "Sometimes you gotta take one for the team."

***

Cindy had never been so humiliated in her life. She never would've imagined she would lose her virginity in the backseat of a pickup truck to some rich bastard who would smack her around all the while and call her a 'worthless, fattened sow'. Jesus, if that was what he thought, why hadn't he just had sex with Q?

She, Ty, and company rode in the truck bed, and while she tried to be strong, she couldn't help but let a tear slip every once in a while. A sniffle here, a choked-down dry sob there. Ty was a steel mask, until the driver stopped and exited the vehicle at the Richmond city limits. "This is as far as I'll go out of my way," he said.

Ty put on an amicable air then, hopping out of the truck bed with an easy smile. "Thanks man! Here's good, you really did us a solid." He shook his hand and said, "Turn around, buddy, I got something for you."

And when the man did, Ty whipped out his gun and shot him in the back of the head.
 
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