Intended Side Effects

Originally published January 20, 2017.
Contains: accelerated weight gain.

After the marathon editing of my previous three stories, which were some of my most ambitious and conceptual yet, I wanted to cool down and get back into the swing of things with something simpler. Getting to write fantasy, sci-fi, and survival fiction were all fun and satisfying exercises, but they were also challenges. And writing two of them from the perspective of a character who wasn’t the gainer made them even more challenging.

So for once, I wanted to write something straightforward, from the perspective of the gaining character, and with characters with normal names. This was inspired by a guy on Grommr who had a particularly rotund belly and said in his bio that it was a side effect of a prescription he was on. I couldn’t remember his username and thus couldn’t look up what the medication was, so I did a bit of digging to find out what kind of medications cause increases in abdominal fat. That gave me the premise; to get the plot, I decided to dwell on the protagonist’s excitement at seeing his belly grow, along with watching that excitement deflate at the inconveniences it causes.

Synopsis: When Paul’s doctor prescribes him a medication for his breathing problems, he warns him that the medication can cause weight gain, especially in the abdomen. Under the guise of avoiding aggravating that symptom, Paul asks if there’s anything that aggravates it. His doc tells him to minimize his fat intake, and that’ll minimize his weight gain. Once Paul knows the medication works for his breathing, he starts eating all the fatty foods he can get his hands on. As such, his belly to swells up noticeably bigger every day, to his delight and his detriment.

Paul sat in his doctor’s office with his hands clasped on his lap as his doc held a manila folder with a few sheets of paper inside. Even at rest, his breathing was audible. “Well Paul, your breathing problems are definitely asthma related, but the good news is that we can do something about them.”

“What do you suggest?”

“There are a few medications out there you could try. The most effective ones are all steroid-based and will likely improve your breathing in just a couple of days.”

“Well great! Give me the most powerful one.”

After a pause, his doctor looked up at him with a concerned look. “There’s… one complication about the brand that makes the most effective one. In trials and in my own experience, it tends to cause… significant weight gain, especially in the abdomen.”

Upon hearing of that side effect, Paul’s ears perked up, though he tried to keep it to himself. Putting on a less excited face, he reasoned, “If it means I can breathe, that’s what I care about most.”

“Okay,” his doctor said with audible relief. “As long as you’re informed about your decision. Now, you’re a fairly lean guy, so a bit of weight gain, though it’ll be noticeable, won’t impact your health too badly as long as you’re still eating right and exercising. Typically people will gain five pounds a month even with no change to diet or activity. If you gain faster than that or gain more than thirty pounds total, give me a call and we’ll look at switching you to a different one.”

As Paul’s doctor wrote down some details on a small slip of paper, Paul looked to the side and coyly asked, “So… is there anything that can aggravate that particular side effect I should… avoid?”

“Fatty foods,” his doctor said without missing a beat. “Of course, you need a certain amount of fat in your diet for your body to function properly. But if you moderate your daily intake, you can minimize the impact of the medication on your weight. Pay close attention to the nutritional information of everything you eat and try to aim for about 70% of what they call your daily value. Whatever you do, don’t exceed 100%.”

With a nod, Paul said, “Understood, doc,” trying to hide his smirk.

Paul drove to his pharmacy to pick up his prescription immediately after his appointment, taking the first dose before he left the building. He kept his fat intake to a minimum that day, not wanting to do anything fishy with the medication until his actual health problem was addressed. Over the course of his day, his breathing improved noticeably, and after his second dose the next day, he could handle stairs like he could before his asthma had flared up. With his actual health issue taken care of, he knew what he was going to do next.

On his way home from work, Paul stopped at a the nearest chain fast food place to make a trip through the drivethrough. With an eager grin, he pulled up to the speaker. “Hi, what can I get you today?”

“Can I get a triple cheeseburgers, a double bacon cheeseburger, a meatball sub, and two large fries please?”

“Anything to drink?”

“A large chocolate milkshake.”

That day, Paul didn’t drive along his usual back roads route that avoided the worst of the traffic on the way back. As he sat in traffic with the radio gently droning on, the slow pace of his drive made it easy for him to wolf down the feast he’d ordered. With one hand on the steering wheel and another holding a sandwich or dipping into his bag for his fries, he kept his munching up as he drove home.

By the time Paul got home, he had finished his entire order, and was definitely feeling it. With a grunt, he got out of his car and stood up straight, not an easy task with his stomach full of bread and meat. After he stood up, he gave his abdomen a rub, hoping to relieve the pressure at least a little bit. He was lean enough that he could feel the firm mass of food as he rubbed his belly over. He didn’t do much that night, opting to go to bed early as he felt the food coma set in.

The next morning, Paul’s eyes opened slowly as his alarm went off. He hit the snooze button and nearly turned over to go back to sleep, before he remembered the previous day. As his eyes shot wide open, he flung the covers off his bed and rushed to his full length mirror.

Looking back at Paul was the reflection of a man who looked much like him, albeit with a brand new centerpiece. Where his flat, featureless abdomen had previously resided was now a respectable, round belly, just over the width of a bowling ball. Against his still-skinny frame, his belly stuck out literally and figuratively, like a bulge in a snake’s body after it had swallowed its meal. True to his doctor’s word, it seemed all the new weight had gone to his abdomen. He looked like his new girth was the result of an overly full stomach rather than a new addition to his frame.

Paul was quite pleased with the change. With a smile on his face, he brought his hand to rest on the side of his new heft. It was firm underneath his hand, giving in only slightly as he pushed his fingers in. He slid his hand down his side and watched it arc around his body, before rubbing his gut over in the front. As his hand covered the round expense, it felt like it was drifting farther away from him, though it remained on top of his rounded out abdomen.

With a chuckle, Paul remembered his doctor’s words and figured this was exactly the kind of weight gain his doc would want Paul to call him about. But Paul was thrilled with the changes. Though it was a far cry from how big he would have liked to be, the sheer extent to which he’d grown after one day meant it might not take him long to get there.

With a smile stuck on his face, Paul went about getting ready for his day as usual, not thinking much about the consequences of his growth. For one, his clothes. His pants fit him about as well as they did the day before, coming to rest under his gut, for his waistline itself hadn’t swelled much.

His shirt was another story. As he pulled his Polo on for work, his found slipping it over his new belly a tougher task than anticipated. Whereas he usually stuck his arms in the holes and let it fall, now it bunched up around the top of his stomach. Even once he’d pulled it down as far as he could, he looked in the mirror and saw that it wasn’t a pretty sight. His once comfortably loose shirt now wrapped around his waist like a sausage casing, leaving nothing about the shape of his new heft to the imagination. He could even see the cloth form a divot over his belly button. Under the bottom hem of his shirt, he could see the newly rounded bottom of his belly peeking through.

With a sigh, Paul headed out, planning to make a detour to stop at a department store to replace his shirt before he got to work. It would have to be a department store, he reasoned; the dedicated clothing stores weren’t open that early.

Paul came home that night with some new Polos and tee shirts in size large. He’d also brought home some XL shirts and some pants the next size up, intending to not be caught off guard by his growing belly again. It was a wise choice, for he never even got to wash his large shirts before he outgrew them.

The night that Paul outgrew his size-large shirts, he’d brought home a large meat-lover’s pizza with extra cheese and a large order of cheesy breadsticks. From the place that he’d gotten the pizza, two slices of a large usually made for a satisfying lunch. So he quite looked forward to devouring four times that much, with added meat and cheese for good measure.

Paul was amazed by his own appetite that night. After sitting down for a TV dinner, he mindlessly scarfed down the breadsticks, follow by all eight of the loaded slices of pizza. The breadsticks themselves would have made for a filling meal, so to eat a whole pizza on top of those didn’t seem feasible. But with the TV distracting him from how full he was, he kept eating until every slice was gone.

Paul finished his last slice as his third episode came to an end. As the credits rolled over the final scene, he pushed the crust of the last slice into his mouth, feeling like he had to force himself to finish the pizza. But he got it all in, much to his satisfaction and his stomach’s dismay. Reaching for the remote, he came to a realization of just how full he was as his stomach protested even just to him reaching to the side.

Once he hit the off button, Paul dropped the remote with a loud sigh and leaned back on his couch. With his new layer of fat cushioning his abdomen, he couldn’t quite feel the firmness of his swollen stomach as directly as he could the previous night. But his belly certainly did feel wider in his hands, jutting out especially far up top as he rubbed it over.

Paul’s third episode ended at 8:30, but it wasn’t until the TV box said 8:47 that he tried to stand up. He spent the interim time massaging his bloated belly, hoping it wouldn’t protest quite so strongly when he got up. He was thankful when it didn’t take him much pushing to get up, encountering just a bit of pressure that he grunted his way through.

Once he was upright, Paul gently patted his full belly and hobbled off to get ready for bed. He left the boxes on the living room table, resolving to clean them up when bending over wasn’t quite so taxing. After getting ready for bed, he sat on his bed with a grunt and slowly leaned over to sleep. As his eyes closed, he hoped the pizza would stick to him as much as the sandwiches had that first night before.

When Paul opened his eyes the next morning, he excitedly swung his legs out from under the covers. At least, he tried to; the usual amount of effort it took him to get his legs out only got them to the edge of the bed. Something, it seemed, was weighing him down. With a grunt, he pushed his legs over the edge of the bed, followed by him flinging the sheets off. With another grunt, he pushed himself into a sitting position, only to find himself teetering on the edge of falling back and requiring a second push to become fully upright. Once he was sitting, he put his right hand on his stomach with a sigh, finding it hit his stomach earlier than he expected. With a newfound jolt of energy, he stood up and strode over to the mirror.

Paul’s belly had previously been a round little growth, sticking out in front but not having enough volume to protrude noticeably to the side. It only looked remarkable when he stood perpendicular to the mirror. Now, his belly had swelled wide enough to be unmistakable from any angle. The beach ball sized bulge now stuck out over his hips as he stood looking at himself head on. Turning to the side, it stuck out even more, taking on a presence of its own. It had stretched so big that even his chest seemed to have perked up a bit, slanting out due to the pull of his newly grown gut.

Paul had a grin on his face as he ran his hands over his newly grown expanse. His gut had grown so much that even his body hair felt like it had dispersed, not feeling quite so dense under his touch as his hands ran over the bulbous expanse. As his hands circumnavigated the globe in front of him, he found the journey taking longer than before, for his hands needed to cover more ground to travel from the top of his belly to the bottom. Once his hands reached the bottom, he pulled up on the underside of his gut, only to find it had very little give. It was nearly rock solid, barely yielding to his touch as he tried to sink his fingers into his new flab.

Now that he’d taken stock of his newly expanded frame, Paul set about getting ready for his day. With his excitement having died down, he found it a good deal more difficult than it had previously been. Just walking from his mirror to his dresser, he found himself having to lean back to account for his newly shifted center of gravity. The lack of bounce in his belly seemed like a blessing at first, as he didn’t have to account for any jiggling as he walked. But rather, he found himself striding forward with little bounce to his step either, as if his belly were a separate entity pulling him forward. The extra effort he’d expended getting out of bed made a more sense now.

Paul decided he’d be better off not even trying the large Polo shirts on and reached in his bag for an XL. In his hands, the shirt felt significantly bigger than his large shirts, and he wondered whether it might be too baggy. Once he slipped it over his head, though, he found it fitting quite snugly around his newly rounded out waist. As he pulled it down around his gut, he felt the bottom edge hanging from the front his belly like a curtain, while the back wrapped tightly around him. With a perplexed expression, he pulled the shirt off to check the tag and ensure he’d gotten the right size. It was indeed an XL, and another XL from the bag fit him just as tightly.

Returning to his full-length mirror, Paul saw that the shirt was wrapped snugly around his distended gut, tightening slightly on the bottom half before hanging straight down to accentuate his heft. The bottom edge of the shirt seemed to just barely reach the top of his underwear, implying the shirt would barely cover his belly once he put pants on. He raised his arms up and watched the shirt rise up to expose the bottom of his gut. With a sigh, he let his arms down, causing the shirt to bunch up rather than descend to cover his belly again. Once he pulled the shirt down to cover his bulging belly, he closed his eyes briefly before stepping away from the mirror. It would have to do until he could go buy bigger shirts for work.

It was Friday night, and Paul had just come home with 2XL and 3XL Polo shirts, along with work-appropriate pants in bigger sizes. He’d also brought home a pair of cargo pants that fit loosely on him and a 3XL shirt that fit likewise. He had a busy weekend ahead of him, having planned breakfast, lunch, and dinner dates to catch up with friends he hadn’t seen in ages. He knew the weekend would be a blur, and he didn’t want to have to worry about changing out of his clothes as he outgrew them.

And the weekend was indeed a blur, starting as early as that Friday night. Every night, Paul met friends at the bar to reconvene. He always got a meal in addition to the appetizers they all shared, usually something with meat or cheese, if not both. He kept his doctor’s warning against high fat intake in mind as he ordered drinks, ordering frozen mudslides, piña coladas, and white Russians that were light on the vodka, so he could drink more of them. After getting a ride home, he’d wake up in the morning feeling predictably hungover and ready to treat his headache with some fatty breakfast foods from a local diner. Lunch was accompanied by water so he could eat more food, and so he’d be ready to party that night. Except on Sunday night; he didn’t want to end up with a hangover going into work, so he volunteered to be the designated driver and spent the night drinking milkshakes instead.

When Monday morning came, Paul woke up to see the sunlight streaming gently into his bedroom. He turned his head to look at his clock and saw that it was 15 minutes before his alarm was supposed to go off. He felt somewhat groggy from his busy weekend, but the lack of a hangover left him feeling mostly ready to face the day. So he reached out to turn off the alarm and threw the covers off himself.

Paul was astounded by what he saw even before he got out of bed. In spite of his gut being as firm as it was, it usually fell victim to gravity’s pull when he lay on his back, compressing down into his stomach. Now his belly pushed out far enough to block his view of much of his bedroom at the foot of his bed. With a grunt, he started shuffling his legs to the side, a far more monumental task now than he was used to. Once his knees were bent over the edge of the bed, he tried to push himself up, only to fall unceremoniously back down with a quiet “oof”. He had to roll on his side to push himself into a sitting position, angling his bulging gut to not be quite so in the way.

Once Paul was upright, he scooted to the edge of his bed to make standing up easier. On his feet, he found himself having to lean back even farther than before to counterbalance his newly grown gut. Rather than an excited dash for his full-length mirror, he hobbled around his bed, arms hanging at an angle from his body as he maneuvered his gut. With his head leaning back and his mouth agape, he found himself breathing more heavily than usual just walking across his room.

When Paul reached his mirror, seeing the girth of his newly blown up belly made it all worth it. His globular gut was nearly the diameter of a car tire. Just rotating his torso to look at himself from different angles, he found it had about as much inertia as the tire swings he remembered playing in as a kid. But this was attached to him, and he couldn’t let it go to get some measure of relief. Instead, it jutted out from his torso, making even turning in place a tricky prospect.

Turning to the side, Paul could see that his gut stuck out twice as far as his chest did, though his chest itself seemed to be sticking out only as far as it had to to keep up with his growing belly. As he looked at his bulbous reflection, he caught himself wavering back and forth, still not quite having found his newly moved center of gravity. With a chuckle, he patted his rotund midsection, finding it firm as always beneath his touch.

Turning back to face the mirror, Paul tried to bring his hands underneath the bottom of his gut. He found he could barely bring his fingers together underneath his new expanse. Once he did, he tried lifting it again. Though his gut was definitely heavier, it did seem to have a bit more give. Paul supposed even a belly as firm as his had to have a point where it would be too big to stay perfectly still.

Walking toward his dresser with more pep in his step, Paul found that to be exactly the case. His newly enthusiastic walk made his belly bounce just a bit with each step, jiggling just slightly when he foot came down on his bedroom floor. It wasn’t much, and he wasn’t expecting much from a gut as firm as his. But feeling it wobble as he walked made him smile. His belly felt like it was developing a mind of its own, having taken on so much additional heft that it could move like its own entity.

As exciting as it was to experience, the reality of it set in when Paul went to try on his new work shirts. He put on his new work pants first, glad to find that they fit fine. So much of his weight had gone to his belly that it hadn’t caused his pants size to increase quite so dramatically. He skipped over the 2XL, picking up the 3XL and finding that in his hands, it felt more like a burlap sack that a shirt. But that shirt still wasn’t quite big enough to fit him. As he slipped it over his expanded form, he felt his hands stop just short of the beltline of his pants as they pulled his shirt down.

With a sigh, Paul shuffled back toward the full length mirror to survey the damage. Indeed, the shirt lay high enough on his belly to show off a long, thin strip of his newly-earned expanse. Trying more intently to pull it down only caused it to bounce back up more dramatically. Grumbling to himself, Paul steeled himself for what would not be a fun day at work. The department stores didn’t carry 4XLs, and the local big and tall store wouldn’t open until after his workday had begun.

But Paul tried to stay positive. He promised himself he’d spend as much time at his desk as possible that morning, and once his lunch break came, he’d pay the big and tall store a visit. He just hoped he was reaching the maximum of how big the medication would cause him to grow. His final dose remained downstairs, so he told himself his weight gain would surely stop soon, and he wouldn’t have to buy any more new clothes.

Paul tried in vain to suck his gut in as he slipped out of his car. In all his time since he’d taken his asthma medication, he’d never had much success reducing the volume of his abdomen by sucking it in, but those days, he had to try something to get in and out of his car. Even with the seat slid all the way back, he found himself leaning the seat back farther and farther to fit himself inside.

Finally out of his car, he waddled ahead to his apartment complex. For most of the time that he’d been gaining weight, his new heft gave him a slow stride he could pass off as stateliness as he walked. But that awareness of all his girth had gone from a sort of poise to a necessity just to walk from point A to point B. As he moved now, his feet followed closely after each other in short, wide steps, his gait having grown wider along with him.

Once in his apartment, Paul kicked off his shoes and went straight for his bedroom to shed his clothes. His lifted off his 6XL shirt and dropped it in the laundry hamper, wondering whether it would just go right in the trash after being outgrown before he could even wash it. Taking off his pants was another matter; he slid his belt through the belt loops until the buckle was at his side. Once it was within his reach, he undid the buckle with one hand and pulled the belt out. Without the belt’s support, the pants fell down around his ankles. Those days, Paul didn’t bother to button his pants closed, settling for zipping them up once he got the belt on.

With a sigh, Paul left his belt on top of his dresser. After pulling one leg out of his pants, he dragged them to the hamper with his other leg. Once he was in proximity, he lifted that leg up to drape the pants over the edge of the hamper, the best he could do those day, before picking them up and dropping them in properly. It was a complicated ritual for taking off his pants, but it was easier than bending over to pick them up.

That was the point where Paul usually went about whatever business he wanted to attend to after work. But that night, he caught a glimpse of himself in his mirror and waddled over to get a better look.

Most of Paul’s body hadn’t swelled up as much as one would expect for someone at his weight. Granted, his face had swelled up into a robust ring of fat strung around his cheeks and under his chin that matched his gut quite nicely. But his arms looked like toothpicks in comparison to the rest of him, and his legs hadn’t grown much either. He supposed that if he’d gained the weight more slowly, they would have bulked out just from carrying him around all day.

But thanks to Paul’s accelerated growth, the rest of his body had largely been left in the dust by the expansion of his gut. It was now nearly the size of a yoga ball, and stubbornly jutted out as round as ever. At its present size, it had quite a bit of bounce to it, since a ball of flab that gargantuan couldn’t help but move with a mind of its own. But Paul rarely felt it himself. He didn’t have the strength to lift his own gut, and he couldn’t walk fast enough those days to make it bounce. His heightened awareness of all his body’s girth kept him from walking with much bounce at all.

Just rubbing his belly from top to bottom took more time than Paul had ever conceived it could. Feeling his firm-as-ever belly over, he found it impossible to bring his hands together underneath his gut. It wasn’t until he brought his hands well above his belly button that they could touch again. By that point, his hands were already above the elevation of highest circumference on his gut. With his fingers interlocked, his arms rested on top of his belly like a giant pillow.

That was until he found himself wobbling back and forth again, at which point he brought his arms back down to help him balance. With how quickly Paul had grown heavier, he never had a chance to get used to balancing all his new girth, making even just standing up a challenge. Once he regained his steadiness, he brought has hand down on his belly to give it some hearty pats. It felt less like a form of appreciation than like him trying to calm a tensed up animal, an animal that could bring him down if he wasn’t careful.

Looking at his bulging belly in the mirror, Paul’s eyes narrowed pensively. With a sigh, he looked down at the massive mound of fat jutting out ahead of him, watching it expand and recede with his heavy breathing. He brought his hand to rest on its top and rubbed his thumb gently along it, conceding, “Maybe it’s time I take the doc’s advice.”

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