Phantom Gains - by Marlow ~BBW, ~MWG, paranormal, intrigue

Discussion in 'Fantasy/Science Fiction Archive' started by Marlow, Dec 7, 2014.

  1. Dec 31, 2014 #61

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2013
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    138
    Location:
    ,
    Chapter 17


    Feeling strangely worked up, Rory pulled his car to the side of the road on his way home from Raleigh’s. He hadn’t made it far and was still on the backwood road, where there were no streetlights, headlights, or signs of civilization.

    The full moon illuminated the wintry landscape outside the car. Rory spent a few minutes gazing out across the frozen lake, trying to clear his head. The fierce February winds had swept the snow on the lake into dunes that stretched out into mesmerizing ripples. It was a calming sight, if unwelcoming. Rory turned to check the road again and in his peripheral vision noticed something in his passenger seat.

    Sitting on the edge of the cushion, as though just now placed there to face him, was a small wooden carving. It was a happy, round little figure, adorned with a tiny red scarf.

    Rory raised an eyebrow. “How did you get there?” He studied it for a moment, then reached over to pick it up. “And what exactly—”

    As soon as he touched it, the world around him washed away. A downpour of colors rained down in its place, followed by a crashing wave of sound, followed by wafting smells: a wood fire, hot food, liquor, and winsome humanity.

    He was back in the creaking tavern chair, reaching out to touch a little wood carving on a nearby shelf. Its tiny red scarf fluttered in a draft. Rory followed the wind: the tavern door had opened.

    The severe, clean-shaven man was leaving, just as he had before. He dragged the heavy door shut behind him and the draft died, allowing warmth to slowly refill the room from the crackling hearth.

    Rory had evidently resumed his dream from where he had left it. The same patrons crowded the inn’s tables, eating the same meals, laughing at the same jokes, playing the same card games. Raleigh continued picking at her meal alone at the end of the bar. The colossal barmaid had watched the shaven man depart and now returned to the array of dishes she had prepared for the now-absent Scarlett.

    No one had any orders for her for a while and she was free to boredly munch on the bread and cheese and slurp down the bowl of soup. Rory watched in dreaming silence, again frozen to his corner chair.

    The barmaid polished off what looked like a reasonably-sized meal with detached efficiency. She dispatched it with as little effort as pouring a drink or wiping down the counter, as though eating were just one of her little occupational tasks.

    She slid the empty dishes away and checked in with Raleigh, who didn’t need a refill yet. The barmaid touched Raleigh’s scarf again, evidently very impressed by it, then took up a tray of drinks and squeezed herself out from behind the bar.

    Her roundness was incredible and as he watched her waddle about Rory marveled at how such a large woman could be on her feet for so long. She clapped some of the patrons on their backs as she made her way across the room, making bawdy remarks that drew rounds of laughter. As she worked her way between tables folks often got up and pulled their chairs apart for her. Even these lanes were never wide enough and she scraped furniture and guests as she went. But everyone laughed throughout.

    The tray of drinks was of course for the furthest table, who welcomed it and her with raised hands. She set the tray on the table and set herself into an open chair, which all but disappeared beneath her. She chatted with the guests at the table, looking amazed at one man’s story and laughing at his friends’ commentary on it. She shared a drink with them as they talked and they shared bites of their meals with her.

    After a few minutes she excused herself and rose, but waddled only as far as the next table. She sat down with this new group awhile, enjoying their food and their company. She visited several other tables in turn, laughing and eating heartily with each.

    Rory watched her, fascinated. She was a gorgeous creature. Blonde ringlets tied up behind a fat porcelain face, strong pioneer features softened under layers of sweet indulgence. She wore hardy trousers held up by a belt that remained buckled only by some miracle, a short brown jacket that reached just enough to cover the globe of her midsection and was splayed open enough on top to reveal the great depths of her cleavage, and a simple chain necklace with a round white pendant. As she guffawed the pendant dipped in and out of her bosom, an inlaid red gemstone gleaming in the firelight.

    Her appetite was amazing. She shared in the meals at each table she visited and tasted several of their drinks after finishing her own at the first table, yet when she rose to return to the bar there was no sign of fullness—merely rosier cheeks and a little more wobble to her waddle.

    She squeezed herself back behind the bar and called into the kitchen for something. A pair of hands passed her another round of dishes—a minor feast, it seemed—and pinched her enormous rear as she turned away from the door. Then the hands disappeared, their owner unrevealed.

    The barmaid laid the dishes out on the bar and called to someone at a nearby table. A couple of the men there rose and began retrieving the dishes, oohing and ahhing over the food. The barmaid poured them a round of drinks as well and shared a glass with one of the men as he paid for the food.

    She saved one of the dishes, as dessert, and set this down before Raleigh. Raleigh’s discomfort was visible, but she dutifully began packing the tart away, chewing methodically.

    Other guests began to filter out, waving fond farewells to the maid. They moved slowly as they left, hands to their distended bellies and eyes bleary. Everyone who left did so stuffed to the gills, and everyone who left did so without even finishing their meals.

    The crowd had thinned significantly when Raleigh finally finished her tart. Proud of her, the barmaid refilled her glass and her own and they toasted. When both glasses were emptied, Raleigh, flushed and glistening, set her head down on the bar and fell fast asleep, a tired grin on her face.

    The barmaid gave her a matronly smile and bussed her dishes. When she returned, the few remaining patrons had moved from their tables to the bar.

    They were a handful of old friends, it seemed, all cheerful and healthy and plump. The barmaid opened a bottle of clear liqueur and poured out a round of small glasses. For once she didn’t pour a glass for herself, but it was soon evident why: as they raised their glasses in toast, she raised the bottle in response. This woman evidently did nothing in moderation. She was a being of excess and everyone loved her for it.

    The guests toasted her and for the first time Rory could make out some of what was being said: “to our good luck charm! To H—”

    “…Heloise,” Rory heard himself say. A pair of gleaming yellow spots stared at him from a field of darkness—the gaping eyes of the deer he’d nearly hit, reflecting his car’s headlights. Rory forced himself to exhale, and wondered why he was shaking so violently.

    The deer turned away from him, as though he scarcely mattered, and sauntered off the road. It sniffed at a pile of snow near the shoulder, then disappeared into the woods along the lakeshore.

    Rory shifted back into gear and accelerated cautiously. The little wood carving had disappeared from his passenger seat.
     
  2. Dec 31, 2014 #62

    Tom the pig 8

    Tom the pig 8

    Tom the pig 8

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2014
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    ,
    This is soooo good! Thank you for sharing
     
  3. Jan 1, 2015 #63

    Jake (JMJ)

    Jake (JMJ)

    Jake (JMJ)

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    ,
    This is a great story and is very well written.

    Jake (JMJ)
     
  4. Jan 2, 2015 #64

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2013
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    138
    Location:
    ,
    Chapter 18


    “Remember the last time we ate here?” Adam asked as he sat down, glancing cheerily around the diner.

    Rory grimaced as he sat. The booth was sticky with decades of maple syrup. “I do. It was years before I was comfortable eating pancakes again.”

    “Don’t be a dick. These pancakes are the best. But, do you remember what we did while we were here?”

    “Yep,” Rory sighed. “We sat here for hours and planned out our hypothetical ghost-hunting business. I think there was gonna be a TV show at some point.”

    “And merchandising. And it was all gonna start with two eager young Minnesotan kids investigating and exorcizing the scariest house they could find: Ms. Magnussen’s old place in the woods.” Adam picked up a menu, frowned, and flipped it away. “Ten years later, we’re going to fulfill our destiny, man.”

    “I take it you found something?”

    “Oof-dah, did I find something. But first, tell me your end. Did you get any readings on the date? Did you get into the house?”

    Rory looked at the ceiling. “Well, the date was good fun…went pretty well, I think. She made it sound like we could have a second one.”

    “Ghosts, Rory. Focus.”

    “Of course, dear. But no, sorry. I didn’t pick anything up while we were at dinner…”

    “You were probably too distracted by trying to woo her.”

    “Stop. And she didn’t invite me inside. But I did have another dream or vision or whatever on the way home.”

    Adam gripped the edge of the table. “Holy heck. Seriously? The same one?”

    “I’m not sure. Again, it’s hard to remember much. I’m pretty sure I traveled to the same place and the same stuff was going on, but it was still different…later.”

    “What do you remember?”

    “It’s…old. A long time ago. Frontier time, I think. There’s…a party.” He shook his head. “I’ll try to bring it back when I have some time this week. See if I can piece anything together.”

    “Either way, it backs up what we’re finding. We’re definitely onto something. And my ectometer picked up on it this time.”

    Rory raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure? The fishfinder thing actually worked? We tried that at the Johansen place back in high school and all we got was yelled at.”

    “That’s because the Johansen place wasn’t haunted. Turned out to be Mr. Johansen hiding an affair.”

    “Wait, what?”

    “Anyway, it worked this time. Big time. I think I made contact with the entity.”

    “No.”

    “Yep. And, Rory, that fella comes off as pretty mean. I asked for a sign of his presence and he trashed the whole web. Burned up my holly and messed with the electronics and all sorts of crap.”

    “Wow. And you think it’s a man?”

    “Well, I had Scarlett on the phone the whole time, and towards the end she heard a man’s voice shouting at her. Man, I’m still wired from it all. Amazing stuff.”

    “Damn.”

    “Yep. This is the jackpot. All these years, man, we were right. We just didn’t know how right.”

    Rory nodded slowly. “Incredible. What do we do?”

    Adam frowned. “I’m not sure. We’ve…never gotten this far in a case. But I think the goal remains the same: learn what we can, then get rid of the ghost. We should talk to Raleigh.”

    “She refuses to talk about it. I tried to bring it up at dinner a few times and she just blatantly changed the subject.”

    “Well, she’s gonna have to face it. Ah, hello, Ruby,” Adam said to the plump young waitress who’d shuffled up to their table.

    “Morning, Adam,” she replied lazily, brushing bright purple hair from her eyes. A treasure-trove of piercings jingled with the movement. “Coffee?”

    “Please. So, Ruby, if you found out you had a ghost in your house, what would you do?”

    Ruby thought about it a moment. “I’d smoke a bowl with it,” she decided finally, and then departed to fetch their coffee.

    “Ruby’s an outlier,” Adam declared, waving her off. “Raleigh needs our help. We need to get this figured out before something happens to her. We need to understand this ghost and his motives…that’s why your dreams are so important.”

    “I’ll do what I can, I guess. What am I looking for?”

    “Well, let’s think about this: ghosts need a resource, like fuel, to exist and manifest and act, just like we do. Now, we’re physical beings, so our fuels are food and water and air and stuff. Ghosts are immaterial, so they need immaterial sources of energy, right? So they feed off feelings and emotions and sensations. Some use fear, some use anger, some use love, some use…I dunno, boredom, lust, nausea, hunger. Whatever. Could be anything like that.”

    “Presumably something related to whatever traumatic experience imprinted the ghost’s essence on the house.”

    “Exactly. At least, that’s my theory. So the more that sensation X is experienced by the victim of the haunting, the more effectively the ghost is able to manifest itself in the material world, and the stronger it becomes. We need to figure out what drives our ghost here…”

    “So we can cut off the supply, weaken it…”

    “And get rid of it before it hurts anyone.”

    “Gotcha. Oh, thanks,” he said to Ruby, who had returned with their coffee.

    “You guys want some pancakes or anything?” She asked with a sigh, gazing elsewhere.

    “Maybe in a bit,” Adam replied. “I’m not very hungry yet. Thanks.”

    “Gotcha. Oh, and Adam, I’ve been trying something new—did you know you can smoke sage leaves? Pretty smooth stuff. I can roll you some if you ever want to, uh…” She leaned in close. “…try it again.”

    Adam swallowed. “Uh, probably not, Ruby,” he managed, “but thanks. I’m pretty busy with a case.”

    Ruby winked. “I’ll get you some pancakes.”

    Rory watched the pudgy waitress depart. “Smooth. And how do we get rid of the ghost, then?”

    Adam sipped his coffee. “No clue. But it has to be stopped.”

    “Holy shit, this has to stop,” groaned Raleigh, several miles away.

    She had woken up in an antique reclining chair, staring at the ceiling. One hand clutched a 2-liter bottle, now emptied, and her other a fried chicken bucket, also emptied. A second empty bucket sat on the floor by her feet; next to the bucket lay her discarded dress. A plate rested on the smooth rise of her naked belly, littered with the crumbs of who knew what.

    “When did I buy fried chicken?” she wondered aloud, licking a buttery taste from her lips and blinking groggily.

    On the coffee table nearby sat her three thick work assignments, neatly stacked. Raleigh slid off the chair, hitting the floor with a fat thud, and opened the top binder. It was done, each page filled with brilliant, thorough work in her own handwriting.
     
  5. Jan 5, 2015 #65

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2013
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    138
    Location:
    ,
    Chapter 19


    “Raleigh, this is brilliant stuff,” her supervisor had said, paging through each binder. “Uf-dah, just incredible. How did you finish it so quickly?”

    “Well, I just woke up one morning and they were all done,” she had replied, half-hoping he’d believe her.

    And then, of course, he had found more for her to do. She had sworn to do these new assignments herself, wary of rousing the ghost again. But two more weeks flew by before she even touched them and when she finally did all she could do was waste an hour fretting about how much there was to be done for each.

    An image of the ghostly Heloise flashed in her mind. Her stomach growled.

    “No,” she said to the house. “I’m not playing your game this time. I want to stop. I don’t know what your plan is, but I’m fat enough. No more.”

    She decided to leave the assignments be until she was ready to deal with them properly and sought ways to distract herself. She toyed with the idea of calling Rory; she hadn’t spoken much to him since their date and when she did all he wanted to talk about was the ghost.

    She grabbed her phone and tried to call, but didn’t even get a ring. She checked the screen and found that there was no service.

    “What? I’ve had service out here all year. Shitty service, but service.” She wandered the house, holding the phone out, hoping a bar would appear, but found nothing. “Weird.”

    She glared out the window, as if something out there would help. The landscape outside was covered in deeper snow than ever; it had fallen steadily all week long and then with extra heaviness that morning before finally petering out. Raleigh’s car had all but disappeared beneath it in the driveway. The sky was clearing overhead, allowing a few stars to twinkle through as the sun set over the frozen lake.

    Raleigh watched the sun disappear. It was a soothing sight, but it left her draped in sudden darkness. She pulled herself away from the window, vaguely wondering why she could see her breath inside, and reached to turn on the lights.

    Nothing happened. She flipped the switches again, but the room remained dark.

    “That can’t be good,” she murmured, hurrying to the living room.

    Those lights wouldn’t turn on, either, nor would the television. Returning to the kitchen, she realized that the constant hum of the refrigerator had stopped.

    “No power,” she realized. She fumbled her way to a cabinet and pulled out a flashlight. It, too, proved dead, but next to it she found a thick red candle and a box of matches.

    The candle flared to life. Raleigh could see enough to get around, but it cast terrifying shadows everywhere she looked.

    Candle aloft, she rifled through more drawers and cabinets and finally located a battery-powered AM radio that probably hadn’t been touched since the eighties.

    It crackled on, though, and she sat down to scan the dial for something helpful.

    “The amount of snow we’ve had today,” a conveniently-timed news program announced through a layer of static, “has left many in the metro area without power this evening. Power companies have scrambled emergency teams to restore power as quickly as possible.”

    “Well, I should hope so,” Raleigh growled, pulling her cardigan tighter.

    “Compounding the issue, meteorologists are calling for dangerously low temperatures overnight tonight, with lows of almost minus-twenty degrees and a wind chill much below even that.”

    “Holy shit,” said Raleigh, standing. Her breath billowed in front of her. “No power means no furnace…I’m going to freeze to death. Oh, fuck the Midwest…”

    She killed the radio and took the candle upstairs. There she bundled herself in the hardiest winter gear she had (what still fit her, at least) and tried to formulate a plan.

    “I’ll go to Rory’s, see if he has power…I’m sure if he doesn’t he’ll know where else to go…okay. Keys.”

    The candle led her back downstairs. She stuffed her keys in her pocket, tied the red scarf around her neck, blew out the candle, and thrust herself out into the cold.

    The wind slammed into her immediately, almost forcing her back inside. Chill tore through her layers of clothing and sank into her skin within seconds. Her breath caught in her throat and she stood there unable to move for a few seconds, shivering wildly.

    Eventually she convinced her legs to move again and they lead her cautiously down the steps to the driveway. It was slow going, since she’d been either too busy or too lazy to shovel the walkway all week. Each step was a major endeavor in over two feet of snow.

    “Holy shit,” she managed, reaching the driveway. She hadn’t shoveled it either beyond carving two ruts for the car wheels to follow, and after the day’s snowfall even they had all but disappeared. “Well, there’s hardly any use shoveling now…I’d freeze to death before I got halfway…” She looked at the car, tucked away to the side of the drive. “Okay. If I can get it out of that corner and build up enough momentum, I can probably just plow my way out to the…road…”

    She gaped at the road. It was as buried as the driveway. With all the plows needed to keep up with the snowfall on major roads, Raleigh’s little-used farm road had been left untouched. There were faint impressions from a car that had passed by earlier in the day, but that was all that set the road apart from the thickly blanketed landscape beyond.

    “Well, that guy made it,” she assured herself. Her teeth chattered. “Gotta try, I guess.”

    She shoved a pile of snow from her windshield and driver door and brushed off the lock.

    It was frozen over, though, and the key wouldn’t go in. “Oh my fuck,” she shouted at the wind. She flailed around for a moment, then shuffled her way back up to the house.

    “Don’t suppose you can be of any help here tonight, miss ghost?” Raleigh asked the house, shaking off the snow.

    She burst back into the cold a few minutes later, armed with her salvation.

    “And mom said I would never need a battery-powered hair dryer,” she giggled to herself, shortly before tripping and collapsing facefirst into a snowbank. “Yep. Let’s try that again.”

    It didn’t take long to melt the lock enough to jam the key in. Raleigh let out a cry of triumph and twisted the key, feeling the lock finally turn. The window was iced over, but a gentle glow told her that the dome lights had flicked on inside.

    She tugged at the door handle. It wouldn’t budge. “Of course. You know, Raleigh, this never happens in California,” she sang, hauling on the door with all her weight. It was a lot of weight to haul with; she’d hit 210 that week.

    The hairdryer saved her again, but it was clearly on its last legs by the time the door gave way and cracked open. Raleigh wrenched the door the rest of the way, wincing at the noises the poor, frozen hinges made.

    She shoved herself inside, squeezing her fat gut up against the steering wheel. The car started without issue, fortunately, and she cranked up the heat. She was, of course, nearly out of gas.

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” she groaned, nearly in tears. “Whatever…I just need to get to Rory’s. Okay, Raleigh. You’ve got one shot at getting out of this driveway. Get pumped.”

    She could barely see out the windshield, and the wipers were frozen in place and unable to help, but she had cleared enough to see what was ahead. She shifted into drive, twisted the wheel around, and slowly applied gas.

    The engine revved and the car shuddered a bit, but went nowhere. She pressed the accelerator further, but the wheels were only spinning underneath.

    She screamed. “Fuck Minnesota, fuck winter, fuck snow, fuck cold…” She revved harder and wrenched the steering wheel back and forth, hoping the tires would catch some traction somewhere.

    She pulled the wheel all the way to the left and felt something move. She accelerated tentatively and the car lurched forward, though only on her side.

    “Haha, holy shit. I’m heavy enough to weigh down this side of the car enough to find traction.” She shook her belly. “Thanks, fat! You’re finally useful.” She accelerated again.

    The car heaved forward, now on the straight section of the driveway. She turned the wheel, but it kept going forward. She turned harder, but it only slid more, twisting sideways as it went.

    “Oh no, oh no, no no no no…”

    With pathetic slowness, the car drifted past the edge of the driveway and settled in a deep snowbank at the bottom of the roadside ditch.

    “Augh, not again,” Raleigh cried. She tried to reverse, but the spinning of the wheels only buried her deeper. “Shit.”

    Her door was against the snowbank, so she had to heave her bulk across to the passenger door to get out. When she did make it out, she found herself up to her chest in snow. After a few minutes of grunting, she dug and pulled her way back to the driveway, where she finally found some footing.

    She looked back at the car. It lay forlornly in the snowy ditch; there was no way she was getting it out tonight. She trudged out to the road, still knee-deep, trying to formulate a plan. She had no neighbors and in snow this deep walking back to town could prove dangerous.

    She threw a minor tantrum, each curse word forming a frosty little cloud before her. When she was too cold to yell anymore, she turned and marched back into the house.
     
  6. Jan 5, 2015 #66

    booyahmanx

    booyahmanx

    booyahmanx

    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ,
    I love this story :) Normally I hate serialized stories because the updates are too and far between (or more likely never reach completion, and I hate not finishing something started), but you crank out chapters pretty damn quick hehe. Hope to see Heloise pile a bunch on Raleigh while she's snowed in :)
     
  7. Jan 5, 2015 #67

    BiddyGal

    BiddyGal

    BiddyGal

    Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ,
    so excited to see where these leads. i can has more please?
     
  8. Jan 5, 2015 #68

    HPab

    HPab

    HPab

    Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2007
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    ,
    Delurking to say that this is really fantastically written. Can't wait to see more.
     
  9. Jan 5, 2015 #69

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2013
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    138
    Location:
    ,
    Chapter 20


    The candle flared to life again, but offered little comfort. Raleigh turned the hairdryer on herself for a few minutes, until its battery finally gave way.

    She stripped her outerwear, since much of it was now wet, leaving herself in trendy white leggings and a plaid flannel shirt Rory’s over-generous family had given her. The leggings were just long enough that she could pull their waistline over the bottom curve of her gut, which helped keep it from falling out of the shirt. She kept on the silly knit cap and thick wool socks and wrapped herself in a blanket from the couch.

    The temperature outside continued to drop. Without the furnace, the interior was uncomfortable, but still habitable. As the exterior of the house froze, it shrank away from the warmer beams inside. Occasionally the tension between boards would force a sudden shift, creating a terrifying pop that resounded throughout the building.

    Raleigh had noticed this on a few cold nights throughout the year, but still jumped every time. It was like an icy gunshot. With temperatures dropping as rapidly as they were, she expected the cracks to be louder than ever.

    She paced around the house, candle flickering, trying to decide what to do.

    A word was floating up in her mind. She couldn’t tell what it was, but she knew it was important. “Ssssssssss…” She began, waiting for the rest of the syllable to appear.

    She continued hissing, trying to find the word. She squinted out the frosted window at the snow-buried road, at the faint pair of parallel tracks running down it.

    “Ski,” she vociferated at last. “Skis. There are skis in the basement. Skiing is faster than walking, right? I can ski back to town and find somewhere with heat.” She laughed, relieved.

    Her jubilation was answered by a low creak and another pop from the house.

    “Yeah, I’ll bet you’re disappointed,” she sneered as she opened the basement door. “You thought you’d trap me here all weekend again. Not happening this time, house. I’m making my escape, haha. Well, somehow. See, Raleigh, you’ve never skied before, and you turned Rory down that one time he invited you...”

    She wrapped the blanket tighter and made her way cautiously down the dark stairs.

    “How hard can it be, though? It’s just, you know, sliding, right? Put one ski in front of the other…” She sang to herself as she reached the bottom of the stairs. “Shit, it is weirdly warm down here.”

    She dropped the blanket and stood there in the shirt and tights, her thick curves casting a bulging shadow in the candlelight.

    “I could just stay down here…” She shook her head. “No, Raleigh, it’s just the house fucking with you. We’re not staying here tonight; we’ll wake up inside a fucking glacier.”

    The candle didn’t offer much illumination in the cluttered basement, but it was enough to get around. At the far end of the basement, leaning against a dusty chair, she found a pair of old cross-country skis. The ski-boots sat on the floor nearby. Raleigh leaned the skis against the wall, picked up the boots, and sat down in the chair to strap them on.

    “Well, here goes nothing. I assume there are poles somewhere? Must be.” The house creaked overhead. “Hey, that fits alright. Sweet deal. Alright, this can work. So, sorry, Heloise, but I’m leaving.”

    The house popped again and the two skis fell out from the wall, landing on Raleigh’s lap.

    “Hey,” she snickered. “Watch where you’re throwing things. Or, uh, thanks for handing them to me, maybe. Okay. Here we go.”

    She grabbed the skis and tried to stand, but some invisible force pressed the skis down against her thighs.

    “What the hell?” She set the candle on a nearby table and pulled up with all her might on the skis, but they held themselves against her soft lap. They were stuck and so was she. “Arrrh, this is not happening…” She tried to push the chair out from under the skis, but it wouldn’t slide.

    A draft flashed through the basement, lifting her hair and making her scarf flutter. The scarf fluttered violently enough that it slipped from around her neck and draped itself across her chest, each end hanging to the floor.

    Then the scarf began to slither. It pulled itself to one side and dropped to the floor.

    “Whoa, come back here,” Raleigh stammered, voice cracking. She reached down for it, but it whipped around and disappeared behind the chair. “What, seriously?” She couldn’t twist far enough to see back where it had hidden, so she slouched down and reached her arms behind her.

    Her hands fumbled around for a moment before finding wool. The scarf continued to writhe when she touched it and she clasped both hands firmly around it.

    “Gotcha. Now quit…oh shit.”

    The scarf had suddenly looped itself around her wrists, several times over, and began to constrict. Raleigh twisted her hands and pulled at all angles, but the scarf had her bound.

    The draft blew through again, extinguishing the candle. Raleigh sat in the darkness, unable to move, her breath loud in her ears.

    Something warm brushed against her cheek, then she heard something move in front of her. Then there was lots of motion, heavy motion, like sliding furniture. Then dishware and cutlery, glass, liquid being poured, lids opening, and gentle sizzling. An array of culinary aromas rose up to her nostrils and Raleigh found herself filled halfway with the dread of realization and halfway with a primal hunger.

    Her candle flashed back to life, followed by a dozen other candles throughout the basement, far brighter than hers.

    A table stood before her, laden with a sudden feast. Unlike the organized homestyle feast that had awaited her after the Christmas party, this meal seemed haphazard and unplanned, simply a collection of unrelated items: fajitas, lobster bisque, French fries, margaritas, and a carton of ice cream.

    “Holy shit,” Raleigh realized. “Those are my five favorite foods…in the exact order I listed them on my dating profile last year.” She bit her lip. “How did…Look, this is really…thoughtful, I guess. But I should really leave.”

    The scarf didn’t release her and the skis wouldn’t budge. The candles flickered in unison, waving in her direction.

    “Look, I’m not hungry...oh no.”

    A spoon was floating in the air before her. It danced a moment, then dropped and filled itself with bisque.

    “Are you seriously go—” The spoon rose up and shoved itself in her mouth mid-syllable. Raleigh had no choice but to swallow the admittedly delicious bisque. “Okay, yes, it’s great. Thank you. Bu—” Another spoonful shot into her mouth. She swallowed it, thought about making a snide remark, but decided instead to keep her mouth closed.

    The spoon, dripping with more warm, steaming bisque, floated patiently in front of her face. It floated forward an inch or two, proffering, but she shook her head.

    They sat in this standoff for a minute. After a while, other things on the table began to float. Tortillas drifted up and began rolling themselves around strips of chicken and peppers, making overstuffed fajitas. The fries danced in their basket. Raleigh glared and puffed out her cheeks, but wouldn’t open her mouth.

    Her blanket was shambling toward her across the floor, folding and unfolding, covering and uncovering clutter as it moved. She watched it circle the table and take stock of the situation. She stared at it in distrust.

    It slithered closer. She tried to kick at it, to no avail. It stretched a corner up, reaching its way up the side of her chair, then up the side of her body. It caressed its way over her hips, over her lovehandles, and up under her arms. There it buried itself in her armpit and began flailing wildly.

    The tickling was too much. Raleigh’s mouth flew open with a yelp and the spoon dove in. The warmth of the bisque filled her and it became apparent that fighting this feeding wasn’t going to get her far.

    The spoon dipped up more bisque. Raleigh sulked, but sullenly accepted the serving. She obediently took spoonful after spoonful until the generous bowl was empty. A napkin kindly floated up to wipe a dribble of bisque from the side of her mouth.

    “Uh, thanks,” she grunted, stifling a burp. “Here, look, I’ll play along. I can cooperate. Just let me use my own hands and I’ll finish the rest.”

    Nothing happened. The fajitas floated patiently over their plate.

    Raleigh sighed. “Yeah, you’re right. I would have tried to escape as soon as you untied the scarf. But can you blame me for trying? Here, keep the skis on, but let me use my hands, huh?”

    The scarf remained.

    “Aw, come on. What is this, some kind of punishment for not paying enough attention?”

    The fajitas drifted closer.

    “Ugh, this is so dumb. Fine, Mr. Fajita, jump on in.”

    It stuffed itself into her mouth. She barely had time to chew and swallow before the next bite was pushing its way in.

    “Oof. Easy, killer. Slow down. I’ll get to you. Look, if we really have to do this, at least pour me one of those margaritas.”

    As she began to cooperate less reluctantly, the feast showed a little more patience. Floating objects waited for her to nod before piling into her mouth and her constraints relaxed enough that she could wriggle around into a more comfortable sitting position.

    “I could probably get used to this,” she confessed between bites. “Beats having to cook for myself, I suppose. How do you do it? No, but seriously…of all the stuff you ghosts or spirits or poltergeists or whatever can do…starting fires and throwing things and killing people…for some reason you thought the ghostliest thing to do would be to make me fat? Okay, right, I probably prefer that to being killed, I guess. But some of my friends back home, haha…oh, we’re starting on the fries. If you must. Mmph.”
     
  10. Jan 5, 2015 #70

    Venjance

    Venjance

    Venjance

    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    ,
    The ghost shows its true colors at last. Keeping her safe before was all well and good, but it was not for Raleigh's sake. The ghost gains strength and with it more control. I look forward to the next chapter!
     
  11. Jan 5, 2015 #71

    JimBob

    JimBob

    JimBob

    Wondering Where You Are

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Messages:
    338
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    ,
    Weighing in (ha ha ha, honestly how many times has that been used on this forum) with my opinion: I'm adoring the buildup of detail and character and the nice cutaway narrative techniques. I also like the possibility that Raleigh is going to end up proportionately bigger than Heloise, based on the way they've both been gaining...

    Plus, I think there's some interest in the idea that Heloise does love Raleigh, though she may be expressing it in a twisted way.

    Also enjoying the way you're not focusing explicitly on 'milestones' (180 lbs, 200 lbs, etc.) but describing weight by shape and sensation.
     
  12. Jan 7, 2015 #72

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2013
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    138
    Location:
    ,
    Chapter 21


    Raleigh stared at the ceiling, trying to keep her eyes in focus.

    She was reclined in the old chair, still bound by her own scarf. Her flannel shirt was stretched absurdly over her bloated belly; diamond-shaped holes opening between the buttons displayed her thin undershirt. The bottom roll of her belly spilled out of the shirt on her lap. At some point in the feast she had allowed the ghostly blanket to pull her tights down from her hips; it had allowed the underbelly more breathing room, but it had also allowed her side flab to fall out past the edges of the chair. The tights weren’t going to last much longer around those thighs, anyway.

    The dishes on the table before her had been emptied. She hadn’t gotten very far into the carton of ice cream, which had melted too much by the time the spoon had gotten to it, but she was stuffed enough.

    She stifled a burp, gave a pained sigh, and looked back down.

    Heloise stood across the table, smiling kindly. The smile dimpled her cheeks; they were noticeably chubbier.

    “Ah, I was wondering when you’d show up,” Raleigh groaned, trying to sit up straighter. “I’ve been way past ‘full’ for quite a…quite a while now. Also, haha, holy shit, Heloise, you’re as fat as I am.” She blinked and shook her head. “Whoa. Sorry, rude. That’s the margarita talking; you’re beautiful.”

    Heloise curtsied graciously.

    “Okay, but seriously, you’re really packing it on. This is like forty, fifty pounds in two weeks. I thought your plan was to get strong, honey, not fat.”

    Heloise was unashamed. Her silk gown no longer flowed around her body, but stretched such that it hid nothing. And there was now a lot of Heloise to hide; she was more top-heavy than Raleigh, but very nearly the same weight.

    Heloise patted her huge pot-belly proudly and flexed her arms.

    “Fat is strength, huh?” Raleigh mused, trying to understand. “I’m not sure you really understand how the body works. Plus, in that case, I think we are both plenty strong enough. Urp.”

    A second chair slid across the room. Heloise guided it next to Raleigh’s and sat herself.

    “Look, Heloise,” Raleigh continued, “the human body isn’t really made to handle this much food. This is really, urp, uncomfortable. I am gonna pop.”

    Heloise only smiled back, appreciating her handiwork.

    “No sympathy, hm? Well, at least have enough mercy to give me a belly rub…”

    With a pleased nod, Heloise, leaned over and watched the buttons of Raleigh’s shirt unfasten themselves. The shirt flapped open, allowing her belly to swell freely. Her undershirt rode up past her navel and Heloise lifted it the rest of the way. The ghostly woman laid a transparent hand on the belly and began to caress, side to side.

    Raleigh could feel her physical touch this time. It was unexpectedly warm and incredibly soothing.

    “Oh, that’s perfect. Thank you. I feel so much better. Yes, please, keep going. Whoa, what are you…no, put the ice cream down. It’s too melty. Oh shit. Shit. Bad Heloise, bad…”

    Heloise had brought the carton, half-full of melted ice cream, to Raleigh’s lips. She gave Raleigh a wink and tipped it up.

    She gave Raleigh no time to breathe. Raleigh could only chug and chug the thick sweetness. It began to spill over her lips and drip down her pudgy cheeks as she fell slowly out of consciousness into the deep, satiated void.

    Across town, huddled at home in a cocoon of blankets, Rory dreamed again. He sat once more in the tavern, its action as fresh as if he had never left.

    It was, though, finally beginning to quiet down. The remaining few guests had had their absolute fill of food, drink, and merriment, and were rising to make their inebriated farewells to one another and to the colossal barmaid. Rubbing their guts and temples alike, they staggered out the door arm in arm.

    Laden with the leftovers of several separate insobrietous feasts, the tavern was an absolute mess. So too was its keeper, who after showing little effects of her indulgence earlier was finally succumbing to the great quantities she’d consumed. The barmaid sucked down what remained of the second bottle she’d opened with her friends and lurched with a wet belch.

    Rory sat in awe. Everything about this woman was excess. She was dedicated to doing and being more; a walking superlative. Well, a waddling superlative.

    It was evident in everything Rory had seen of her. She ate more than anyone around her. She grew more and weighed more. She was friendlier, she served more, and she shared more. She told funnier stories and laughed louder at jokes. She drank more and shouted more and sang more. And when the kitchen door opened and she turned to smile at the man who emerged, it was clear that she loved more, too.

    He was equally rotund, with a jolly, bearded face and his blue eyes gazed back with just as much adoration. He glistened with sweat and the apron draped over his belly was covered with evidence of a long night of cooking. He wiped his hands with a large rag and leaned over to give the barmaid a long kiss.

    Another belch burbled up from her after the kiss. They giggled at it together and kissed again, a thousand pounds together of true love.

    She was growing eager and grabbed his collar, squeezing her girth up against him, but he pulled coyly away and held up a hand. He gestured out to the tables and the mess that awaited them. She gave an exasperated sigh and fell drunkenly back against the counter; her jacket rode up as she arched her back, revealing a sliver of her belly’s pale, quaggy flesh.

    The man would not be dissuaded. He helped her up and they made their way out from behind the bar. Once out onto the main floor they paused, a look of impatient dread spreading across the woman’s flushed face.

    He whispered something in her ear, slowly, and her glazed eyes brightened. She took a deep breath, licked her lips, and sat herself down at the nearest table.

    The man smiled and clapped his hands. Thus they began their very curious method of cleaning up the tavern.

    With newfound relish, she set about eating up all the leftovers at her table. Some patron hadn’t finished her plate of vegetables; she stabbed them all onto one fork and shoved it into her maw. Someone hadn’t finished his baguette; she pushed it into her mouth one quick bite at a time. Someone else hadn’t finished his soup; she lifted the bowl and simply drank the rest of it down. The guests here had shared a bottle of wine but hadn’t emptied it; she poured the dregs from each glass into what was left of the bottle and gulped it dry. What was left at this one table was enough for a meal itself and she consumed it like a quick dessert to all that her gut already contained.

    When she had finished, the man stacked the empty dishware and quickly took it back to the kitchen. As he went, the woman gingerly lifted herself from the chair and wobbled over to the next table.

    There, impossibly, she repeated the process with what was left there. The man bussed the dishes again and after a moment to belch and breathe the woman moved on to the third table. Here she slowed, for this table had been distracted by it card game and one of the players—the clean shaven man—had left his meal almost untouched when he had departed. The barmaid methodically forced her way through it all, though, while her lover picked up the cards and poker chips.

    The card table at last cleared, she handed the emptied beer pitcher to the man and leaned back in the too-small chair. She was in great discomfort, it seemed, but also deep euphoria. Pained pleasure shone on her drunken face. The jacket rode up further as she stretched back; somehow her immense gut had bloated to even greater circumference.

    As she ate her way through the fourth table the jacket only rode up more, exposing her wide navel. The pale, gelatinous belly shook with her every movement, looking for ways to escape the clothes that tightened around it. Her lovehandles began to peek out from the sides, lightly striped with stretchmarks.

    The fourth table cleared, she reached her arms overhead and hiccupped. This sudden force proved too much for the jacket and its bottom button shot across the room. She giggled and undid the rest of the jacket. Her lover helped her up from the chair and pulled the jacket from her flabby arms as she staggered to the fifth table.

    After this table she had to unbuckle her belt. After the next the trousers, already pushed halfway down her incredible thighs, had to go. When she finally moved to the last table, near the corner where Rory sat frozen to his chair, she wore nothing the shining ruby pendant and a blissful, sloppy grin.

    Her wide, full breasts swayed as she waddled over and the pendant banged back and forth between them. Her apron belly, hanging halfway to her knees, bounced with each drunken step. Her chin jiggled in time with it. As she reached the table, with little coordination left, she knocked over half the glasses and dishes trying to steady herself. She crashed down onto a chair and with a violent crack it collapsed beneath her.

    She lay there a moment, laughing hysterically. The man returned from the kitchen, snickering at her, and tried to heave her up. She was amazingly heavy, though, and his own girth was in the way, but after a long, combined effort she was eventually set on a pair of new chairs. These held long enough for her to clear the last of the food and drink.

    Rory couldn’t believe the swell of her gut as she finished. The woman was unreal. She looked barely conscious at this point, drifting happily in her overstuffed drunkenness. Hazy as it must have been, however, there was one clear, dedicated goal on her mind. She seized the man as he came close and dragged him in for a long kiss, grabbing at him and biting his lip.

    He couldn’t wait any longer, either. He hauled her up from the chair and led her haltingly across the room. A narrow doorway waited behind the end of the bar where Raleigh slumbered—since the door at the other end lead to the kitchen, Rory figured this one must lead to the private quarters.

    The two lovers stopped to appreciate Raleigh as they passed by. The woman tousled the girl’s red hair and plucked at the scarf while her lover opened the little door.

    They bid a fond goodnight to the emptied tavern and turned to head in. It was no easy process, though—the doorframe had obviously been built for much smaller tavern keepers. They had to squeeze themselves through at an awkward angle, squishing their guts against the frame. Progress was slowed further by their desire to continue kissing and touching one another as they went.

    With an audible pop the lovers finally made it through and with that they were gone. The door slammed closed behind them. Muffled giggling drifted out.
     
  13. Jan 7, 2015 #73

    DaveTheBrave

    DaveTheBrave

    DaveTheBrave

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    ,
    Holy crap, Raleigh is going to get huge if she doesn't get out of that house...
     
  14. Jan 7, 2015 #74

    booyahmanx

    booyahmanx

    booyahmanx

    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ,
    lets hope she doesn't get out of that house then :)
     
  15. Jan 8, 2015 #75

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2013
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    138
    Location:
    ,
    Chapter 22


    “Still nothing,” said Rory, sticking his phone back in his pocket. “She texted me Sunday night and said she’d survived the power outages, but I haven’t been able to get a hold of her since.”

    “The ghost must have her,” Adam concluded, eyes wide. He pushed his rolling chair back from the card table for emphasis.

    “Or she’s just not that into you,” chided Scarlett’s voice from Adam’s phone, sitting in the middle of the table. “Rory, you know, I figure a guy would know what it means when someone doesn’t return calls.”

    Rory rubbed his eyes. “Thank you, miss dating expert.”

    “Hey now,” the phone retorted, “I’ll have you know I met a guy and he’s totally awesome and totally real.”

    “That poor fool,” Adam lamented. “Congratulations, Scarlett. If that’s true. But let’s get back on topic. We’ve ruled out ancient burial ground, so what else?”

    Rory put up a hand. “Wait, how did we rule that out?”

    “I have my sources. And the dreams you’ve been having don’t seem to suggest that. So we need to look more recent.” He opened a ratty notebook, filled with scratchy handwriting and unlabeled diagrams. “Unfortunately, there’s a lot in the historical journals that isn’t available at the local libraries, but fortunately, we have somebody at a famous and important academic institution.”

    “I’ve never had this much fun doing research,” Scarlett exclaimed. “Professor was all over it. So I was able to piece together a little history of the house, but there’s still a lot missing.”

    “Just give us what you have.”

    “Okay. So the original building on the property was just a little homestead, built by a Swedish settler; guy named, uh, Sven. A year after he settles, there’s a marriage certificate for him and a girl named Heloise, who came to town with some French trappers.”

    “Sven, Heloise,” Adam repeated, scribbling in his notebook.

    “We know them from a little bio the local gazette put together. Apparently Heloise did the annual ice sculpture at the winter festival.”

    “Ice sculpture,” Rory echoed thoughtfully.

    “Few years later, they open their house as the town’s first inn.”

    “Oh, cute,” said Adam. “Good for them.”

    “Yep. And looks like it was a pretty popular local attraction for almost ten years. Then, in 1870, Sven up and dies. No cause of death listed, but he was still pretty young. Frontier life, I guess? Anyway, the inn shuts down and Heloise is listed as a resident for a few more years…”

    “Rough going. I assume she remarries?”

    “Doesn’t look like it. She kind of disappears…can’t find a death certificate or anything, but records weren’t great back then. You guys might want to take a walk in the old cemetery sometime and see if you can find her.”

    “Sure, Rory can take care of that.”

    “I don’t like cemeteries,” Rory protested. “Too many voices.”

    “Anyway,” Scarlett continued, “the property gets sold about twenty years later by someone, last name Sorensen, to the Magnussen family. It operates as an inn again for a while, then it’s rented out to a series of tenant farmers. No one lasts in it for more than a few years, from what I can tell.” The sound of pages flipping rattled through the phone. “In the early twentieth century it’s turned into a schoolhouse, then it’s back to tenant farming for a while…in the fifties the property is donated to the park service, who use it as a ranger station until 1967, when it’s sold back to the Magnussen family. The current Ms. Magnussen inherits it in 1990 and has been renting it out since then.”

    “Thrilling stuff.”

    Adam reached over to his shelf for another notebook. “A lot of that jives with the local lore we’ve picked up over the years…” He searched for his page. “You remember the stories the older kids would tell us about the house when we were growing up.”

    “I remember you telling me stories when we were growing up.”

    “Work with me here. Everyone had a different backstory for the ghost in Ms. Magnussen’s house…” Adam flicked off the overhead light and twisted his face in the orange glow of a nearby lamp. “Gather round, children, for a tale of terror!”

    “Oh god,” said Scarlett’s voice, “is he doing the lamp thing?”

    Adam put on his best theatrical voice. “No one knows where the spirits came from,” he wailed, fingers waving. “Some say they’re guests from back when the house was a roadside inn…the evil innkeeper would lock his unsuspecting guests in their rooms and fatten them up until he was ready to eat them! Boooooooo!”

    “Please don’t.”

    “Some say they’re the spirits of children, from back when the house was a school, where the warlock schoolteacher would lure his class in with candy and fatten them up until he was ready to eat them! Booooooo!”

    “This is the worst version of Hansel and Gretel I’ve ever heard.”

    “But some remember, not so long ago, when a young woman, lost in the woods, came upon what she thought was a ranger station, but instead she found a crazy old man inside who—”

    “Fattened her up and ate her?”

    “I don’t appreciate your tone, Scarlett. But maybe, yes.”


    “Not sure about the cannibalism part,” Rory added, “but I remember my dad talking about a woman who went missing around here in the sixties. She was never found, but her necklace turned up in the woods near the house.”

    “And some say,” Adam resumed, “that the demonic spirit wanders the woods around the house, waiting for unsuspecting victims to wander through, so that it can kidnap them and—”

    “Fatten them up and eat them. Got it.” Scarlett sighed. “There’s a pattern here.”

    Adam shrugged. “Well, look at Raleigh.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Rory.

    “Rory, dude, look at her,” Adam scoffed. “She’s gotten huge.”

    “She’s put on a little winter weight. That happens to lots of people.”

    “Not me,” Scarlett piped.

    “Well, Raleigh’s never had to deal with Old Man Winter before.”

    “Rory, it looks like she ate Old Man Winter,” Adam laughed. “Seriously, dude, I don’t know how you find her so attractive.”

    “Ew,” Scarlett added.

    “Right? Scarlett, you should see this girl. She’s gotta be over two hundred pounds. Like two-twenty, now.”

    “Whoa. That’s basically, like, two of me.”

    “That doesn’t make her unattractive to me,” Rory snapped. “Sorry if you think that’s weird.”

    “I suppose I have no right to speak on weird. Anyway, back to ghost hunting.” He bounced a stack of papers on the table. “Rory felt something malevolent at the house. So, just in case we do run into anything, we need to be prepared to defend ourselves.”

    Scarlett snickered. “With what, holy water?”

    “That’s an option,” he affirmed. “But that’s better for demons. For ghosts…” He flipped through his notes. “We’re looking at burning sage leaves…sprinkling salt…church bells…iron…”

    Rory cocked an eyebrow. “Sage? Hey, you could borrow that waitress’ cigarettes…she’d probably be thrilled to see you again.”

    “Also: iron?” Scarlett’s voice asked. “Like, anything made of iron, or..?”

    “They fear that metal for some reason,” Adam pontificated, throwing Rory a glare. “They can’t affect it or deal with its weight. Medieval folks would lay iron crosses or rods on top of coffins to keep the dead from rising.”

    “My professor said that’s brass,” Scarlett retorted.

    “Pretty sure it’s iron.”

    “Brass.”

    “Iron.”

    Rory's head thumped against the table. He sighed and went back to thinking about Raleigh.
     
  16. Jan 8, 2015 #76

    DaveTheBrave

    DaveTheBrave

    DaveTheBrave

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    ,
    Snap. Secretly hoping this plan to weaken the ghost backfires...

    Great work, Marlow!
     
  17. Jan 9, 2015 #77

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2013
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    138
    Location:
    ,
    I should note: no offense is meant to the fine people of Minnesota (strange as you are!)...Raleigh's just in a bad mood here. Also, thanks again for all the feedback, everyone!

    Chapter 23


    The longer winter dragged on, the more Raleigh marveled at Minnesotans. She couldn’t fathom why anyone would move there voluntarily and she couldn’t fathom why young graduates would ever choose to stay.

    But the locals seemed bred to the cold. They didn’t just endure it; they enthusiastically embraced it. They knew as many things to do in the snow as Raleigh knew to do on a beach. The outdoors were harsh and unwelcoming but the locals still eagerly looked forward to every opportunity they had to go out into it. And everything they did in it was athletic in nature.

    As February turned into March, Raleigh began forcing herself outside more often as well. She needed reasons to avoid spending more time in the house, which had been less friendly and patient in its desire for her to overeat. She hadn’t seen Heloise since the power outage, but there was always a huge meal waiting for her at home and the pushy old house wouldn’t relent in spooking her until it had been eaten. She went to bed stuffed each night and woke up to a big breakfast each morning.

    She languished through each workday too bloated and uncomfortable to get much done, but she could do no wrong in the eyes of her supervisor. He raved repeatedly about Raleigh’s assignments, the best he’d ever seen. A new stack appeared on her desk.

    As the house grew less friendly, the snow covered park grew more so. The Friday the new assignment appeared, she left work early to visit the park and collect her thoughts.

    She found a bench near the ski trail and lowered herself into it like a pregnant woman. She could feel her fat spread as she relaxed and winced as the wood creaked gently beneath her. She furtively reached a hand under her coat and tried to massage away her indigestion as the world of winter sports raced by.

    The majority were Nordic skiers. They skated by in long, undulating herds, chattering away to one another about ‘grooming,’ ‘waxing,’ and something called a ‘Birkie.’ A handful of old classic cross-country skiers would shuffle along after, huffing and puffing. Beyond the trail, Raleigh could see a pair of snowshoers making their way up a white hill. Three snowmobiles zipped past them, driven by worryingly young boys. On the trail, another Nordic skier glided past, with her dog running ahead on a leash.

    Raleigh scoffed. “Dog’s almost pulling her.”

    “He’s supposed to,” answered a voice. A lanky, white-haired woman sat down on the bench next to Raleigh to adjust her ski-boots. “It’s called skijoring, ya know.”

    “Huh. So like a dogsled?”

    “Ya, in a way. But that’s a dogsled.”

    Raleigh followed her gesture. There was indeed a full-on dogsled speeding down the trail. “I am a stranger in a strange land,” she muttered.

    “Where ya from?” the woman asked, standing.

    “Uh, California,” Raleigh replied, as though it were a confession of guilt. “Experiencing my first actual winter.”

    The woman clipped on her skis. “Ah, welcome. Well, my advice is to stay active through the cold. You’d be amazed how it helps. Have ya tried skiing yet?”

    Raleigh thought back to the old skis pinning her to a basement chair. “Not yet, no.”

    “It’s a great way to stay in shape. Heck, look at me. I’m sixty-four!” She beamed and launched herself onto the trail.

    “Wow,” Raleigh acknowledged. “Thanks for the, uh, advice.”

    “You betcha!” The woman called back. She took a couple of long strides and was gone.

    Raleigh rolled her eyes. Suburban Minnesotans were a strange, highly specialized breed of human. Blonde hair, long legs, hardy faces, wealthy families, and a freakish natural athleticism. Their bodies were invariably toned, sinewy, and absent of fat; it was ubiquitously evident through all the spandex. They moved with the natural confidence of people who had come from success and expected only the best from their lives. They pretended a Midwestern modesty but underneath the friendly smile was a weird sense of pity for those who weren’t like them.


    Raleigh was growing tired of the passive-aggressive condescension. She was growing tired of Minnesotans holding their Minnesotan-ness over her head. She was growing tired of their ridiculous world and was growing tired of trying to fit herself into it (she was also growing tired of trying to fit herself into ever-tighter clothes). She was growing tired of the inescapable cold and she was growing tired of never seeing the sun.

    She was growing tired of growing. She hadn’t been shocked to see 225 on the scale that morning and that was before breakfast. It had been before the doughnuts at work, too. She burped just thinking about them.

    “I have to do something,” she decided with a sigh. “But, Raleigh, it’s pretty clear that we can’t resist the house. And it’s getting worse as I get fatter…Heloise was right about her strength.” She folded her hands over her belly. “I can decide all I want out here, but as soon as I go home the house is going to start shoving food down my gullet again.”


    Beneath her folded hands, her stomach rumbled.

    “Yeah, and you would like it for some reason. Ugh. But…” She unfolded her hands and straightened up. “But what if…what if I don’t go home?”

    She looked in the direction of the house. Even miles away, she was afraid it would hear her.

    “I didn’t see Heloise last week, so she’s probably planning something for this weekend. Seems to be her pattern. Haha, but what if…I’m not there this weekend? Oh, fuck yes. I’ll stay somewhere else. The house will have to just skip this week’s feast. I don't have to play along if I don't want to."

    Her scarf flapped as the breeze picked up. She pushed herself to her feet.

    “Okay: plan. Stay with Rory? No. Too much food at that house. His parents are almost as pushy as Heloise. Adam? No…he’ll interrogate me all night about my haunted house. Well, maybe that would be a good thing; maybe he can do something to help. Or maybe he’ll just be creepy and weird.” She put her hands up. “Raleigh, stop. You're a big gir--er, an adult. You can handle this. Get a motel for the weekend and figure out a gameplan from there.”

    Satisfied, she began stomping her way back to the car.

    “Can’t go home to get clothes and things, though,” she realized. “Or maybe it’s, oof, time for some new pants anyway.”

    The car settled heavily to the driver’s side as she dropped her weight into it. She patted the steering wheel.

    “Easy, now. I’ll go slow. We’re not getting you stuck a third time.”

    Raleigh felt surprisingly liberated. She only drove to the far side of town, but it felt like leaving for a much-needed vacation. As the pressure of having to return to the house receded, so did the pressure of her indigestion.

    She found a roadside motel, vacant save for a few long-haul truckers. They seemed confused at first to see the stylish, plump young redhead, but extended her their polite Midwestern hospitality.

    The room smelled awful, the shower was sputtering and weak, and there was no wireless, but the bed was comfortable. More importantly, however, there was no sign of any ghost. She opened the mini-fridge and found it to be blessedly empty. She had escaped.

    Raleigh lounged in the bed, staring at her phone. She hadn’t talked to Rory in a while and had been generally aloof since their date. It made her feel like a bad friend. And he was pretty cute.

    “But I can’t drag anyone into this weirdness,” she decided, turning off her phone. “Look what this ghost has done to me and my life.”

    She cast a glance over to the mirror, at the plump, apathetic woman lying there in Raleigh’s clothes.

    “But...hopefully this works and I can figure out how to deal with the weirdness. I promise, Rory, when I’ve got this dealt with, I’ll let you in.”

    She stared at the ceiling for a few minutes, toes tapping each other. The Paul Simon song she'd heard in Rory's car was stuck in her head again.

    "I should have stopped for snacks," she grumbled.
     
  18. Jan 10, 2015 #78

    Tom the pig 8

    Tom the pig 8

    Tom the pig 8

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2014
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    ,
    Thanks for the new chapter. It is very good
     
  19. Jan 12, 2015 #79

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Marlow

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2013
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    138
    Location:
    ,
    Chapter 24


    Rory scratched snow from his beard. He tried the doorbell again.

    “Raleigh, it’s Rory,” he called, as politely as possible. “Just let me come in for a minute. I’m worried. I’m sorry, but I am. I…” He threw up his hands. “I know about the ghost. Let’s just talk.”

    The house remained silent. Rory shook his head, turned, and slumped against the door. This new angle allowed him to look back at the driveway.

    “Rory, you idiot. Her car isn’t even here.” He sighed at himself and jumped down from the porch. He trudged down the driveway a ways, then stopped to look back at the house. It was dark throughout and difficult to discern in the moonless night.

    But from behind the house, gently illuminating the back woods, a faint glow was visible. Rory squinted at it.

    “Oh, screw it,” he huffed, stomping back up the driveway. “I have to try.”

    He turned into the deep snowdrifts of the sideyard and burrowed his way around to the back of the house. He looked over at the eerily illuminated woods and turned to the origin of the light: the little basement window.

    “Hello again,” he muttered, crouching to peer inside. The basement was fully lit, proudly displaying its dusty clutter. Rory could make out a small table in one corner, covered in empty dishes. Beyond it, an old door was propped open to a small side room. Rory couldn’t see much of the room, but he could see a shelf against its back wall, on which sat a fat little wood-carving identical to the one that had appeared in his car.

    Rory looked around, nervous. He steeled himself, then looked back through the window.

    But the basement had changed. It was clean and furnished, with several round tables, chairs, décor, and a long bar. It was the tavern from his visions and as he sat back in surprise Rory found he was no longer looking in on it from a window but out at it from his chair in the far corner.

    The old tavern was quiet. The candles had burned themselves out, but sunlight now streamed in through the windows, illuminating evidence of the previous night’s festivities. Rory squinted, feeling as though he’d just woken. He checked the end of the bar, where dream-Raleigh slumbered on, head in her folded arms.

    Behind her the private door swung open and the barmaid’s husband squeezed his enormous, burly form into the room. He stopped there to yawn before closing the door. While it remained open a deep, rumbling snore could be heard and Rory could make out a large, blanketed mound in the dimness.

    The man scratched his gigantic belly and eased the door closed, then shuffled into the room. He made his way between the tables, humming softly, pushing chairs in and straightening things. But when he reached Rory’s corner of the room he stopped, lowered himself into a chair with a grunt, and smiled.

    “We haven’t been introduced,” he said.

    Rory froze for a moment, stunned that his presence was finally being acknowledged. “No,” he stammered, “net yet. Everyone’s been…ignoring me.”

    The man nodded and scratched at his beard. “Of course they have, friend. They do not have the sight, like you and I do. Most people cannot see the memories that linger as we can.” His kind, soothing voice rumbled with a heavy Swedish accent.

    Rory swallowed.

    “I am Sven,” the man announced, extending his hand. “This is my home; you have now visited it in your life and in mine.”

    “Rory,” said Rory, shaking the hand.

    “A pleasure, Rory. I must beg you to relax, if we are to be friends. You are all a-quiver and tense, but have nothing to fear here. You are safe, Rory, for you are dreaming.” Sven clapped him on the shoulder and lounged back in his chair. His body engulfed it. “I know this, for I have done the same. No danger has ever befallen me in my dream-journeys and, my friend, I can tell you that I have not been all too cautious in them, haha.”

    Rory tried to relax himself, but it turned into more of a nervous slouch. “It’s all just very new to me. I saw things in dreams when I was younger, but then it had stopped. Until this year and this…dream.”

    Sven nodded. “The dreams find you when you are ready to hear what they have to say. And they lead you to important places.” He pushed himself to his feet. “Come.”

    Rory was about to protest, for he had been glued to the chair throughout the dream, but suddenly found himself rising from the seat. Sven began squeezing his way between the tables.

    “So, this girl sleeping at the end of the bar here,” Rory began, worried about where Raleigh had gone, “is she dreaming like me?”

    Sven scratched his beard. “I do not think so, no. She is very real here, living among us, though a newcomer to town.”

    “But—”

    “A curious young lady. My Heloise has certainly taken a liking to her. We’re renting her the upstairs room, although it appears she chose to sleep downstairs last night.” He smiled down at her. “She is still…growing used to our local customs, haha. Growing, yes.”

    Rory rubbed the bridge of his nose.

    “But we were speaking of our dreams,” Sven continued, pausing at his private door. “My greatest dream journey began ten years ago, when Heloise and I were first married.” He leaned over and tapped a framed picture on the wall.

    Rory squinted. It was a sketched portrait of a young Sven and his blonde barmaid. Young and very, very thin.

    “Those were leaner times, you see, haha.” He patted his gut and gazed nostalgically at the portrait. “The town had only just been settled and we were treated to several very harsh winters. Farming was almost fruitless. We were all of us starving. We would fantasize about fattening up like bears to survive the cold…that carving on the shelf over there, the one you like?”

    Rory looked back to the shelf. There sat the fat little carving that had appeared in his car, red scarf hanging limp.

    “Heloise whittled that for me during one of those awful winters. Wishful thinking, I suppose.” He snickered at himself.

    “She carved that?”

    “Oh yes. She is amazingly skilled, my Heloise—she can carve ice, as well.”

    Rory grimaced. “Ice.”

    “Back to my tale, though,” Sven resumed, “the winters were times of hardship and starvation. But then I began to have the dreams…I dreamed of the past, before my birth, of people I did not know and never could. As you are now.” He closed his eyes, remembering. “The people I met…they led me to amazing places and showed me amazing things.”

    Sven pushed open the door and led Rory inside. It was the little room he had seen in the basement. It was filled with a bed that spread nearly wall to wall, a bed that was nearly filled edge to edge with the barmaid’s bulk. Rory wondered how she and Sven could possibly share it.

    “Ah, my beautiful Heloise,” Sven marveled. “Do not balk at her nakedness, Rory, for we are unashamed and quite accustomed to guests, haha.”

    It was a lot of nakedness to balk at, but Rory nodded politely, staring in fascination. Heloise’s body lay piled up like plowed snow at the end of a parking lot, her mountainous abdomen obscuring half the bed.

    “In one of the amazing places I visited in the dreams,” Sven continued, “I was shown a circle of giant stones, white like marble. They were attended to by a band of nymphs in the wilderness and brought good fortune to all the surrounding lands.” He sat down on the edge of the bed, filling what remained of it, and rubbed at the swell of Heloise’s belly. “I was filled at first with envy, for outside of this dream there was only hunger. But I asked one of the nymphs, ‘what must I do to bring such prosperity to my family and friends?’ and told her I would give up anything to see them filled with such…life.”

    He gestured for Rory to sit. Rory hesitated, finding nowhere to go, but followed Sven’s outstretched hand and set himself up by the pillows, the only open space that remained. He tried to avoid Heloise’s head, but between snores she inched over and nuzzled up against Rory’s hip.

    “Ah, she likes you,” Sven remarked with a pleased grin.

    “Yay,” Rory managed, voice cracking, wondering if all of Heloise’s judgments were made during heavily inebriated slumber.

    Sven ran his hand up and down her gut. It rippled at his touch. “The nymphs, I think they heard my plea. They brought me over to one of the stones and, to my amazement, chiseled out a tiny chunk. They placed it in my hands and bid me honor them with the generosity and compassion they had seen in my heart. And when I woke…” He ran his hands up between Heloise’s fulsome breasts. “I still had the stone in my hands.”

    He held up the white pendant hanging from her neck, the inlaid Ruby gleaming in the morning sun. Rory looked back and forth from it, to him, and to her.

    “I made it my gift to her that year,” Sven said, after a moment. “And our harvest bloomed. We reaped more than the two of us could ever eat—though we certainly tried, haha—so we shared it with everyone in town. And the next year, their harvests bloomed, too. We grew more food than anyone could need. Year after year, we grew more. And year after year, haha,” he patted Heloise’s belly, “we grew more.”

    “The good luck charm,” Rory murmured.

    “Prosperity for all, and we were the center of it. And we have always sought to share that prosperity; we have tenanted the farm and made an inn of our home, so that we may always share our blessings with our friends and guests.”

    Sven reached down and unfastened the pendant from her neck. He let Rory examine it for a moment, then accepted it back and fastened it around his own neck.

    “We have found that, as much as we share out, we enjoy doubly ourselves. Truly, giving has been its own reward, you see, for the more we give, the more we are, haha, given.” He patted his own gut. “So Heloise and I trade each week. This week, I prepared and cooked and cleaned while she ate and drank and enjoyed. Now the week has ended and we trade: next week she prepares and cooks and cleans while I eat and drink and enjoy.”

    “Interesting system.”

    “And one we share. At the end of each week we host an evening of merriment, as you have witnessed. The whole of the town joins us. And no matter what the week has brought, each of our friends staggers home afterward replete and in a lover’s arm, filled with affection, satisfaction, and a deep happiness.”

    Sven pulled the blanket back up over his wife’s girth. Rory stood up, scratching at his beard.

    “My dreams have brought this community a decade of prosperity, my friend,” Sven concluded, lying down. “You must not fear yours, for they have a purpose for you, as well.”

    Rory nodded. He stepped out of the little bedroom with a pensive grimace. Looking back, he found that Sven had squeezed himself up against his wife and shut his eyes. Rory quietly shut the door and walked back to the bar.

    He pulled out the stool next to the unconscious Raleigh and sat down. “Raleigh,” he whispered, leaning in close. “Raleigh, wake up.’

    Raleigh woke with a long belch. Her eyes fluttered open, one at a time, and then narrowed as she tried to determine where she was.
     
  20. Jan 13, 2015 #80

    The_Hero

    The_Hero

    The_Hero

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2006
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    ,
    Interesting...wonder how that explains Heloise forcing Raleigh to eat though...
     

Share This Page