Originally published August 21, 2017.
Contains: instant weight gain.
This one was based on an idea from ZBot316, who approached me one day with a very polite message asking whether I take suggestions for stories. While I always appreciate people thinking so highly of me that they want me to bring their ideas to life, the fact is that suggestions can be very hit or miss for me in terms of how much they grab me, so I always approach suggestions cautiously. However, this one was a hit, and immediately set my creative impulses a-whirring. As soon as I finished A Certain Kind of Problem Customer, I moved right on to this one, and finished it just as enthusiastically.
Synopsis: Paul and Zeke, father and son, are attending the wedding of Matthew, their son and older brother, respectively. After arriving early, they sneak into the tent where the reception will be held, and snack on the various food items laid out. When they reach the cake, they can’t help themselves, and Zeke eats three slices while Paul eats the entire top two tiers. Knowing no one will suspect them, they leave and return for the ceremony. When they arrive back for the reception, they discover the cake seemingly restored to its original state. Paul suspects they had a spare cake, but Matthew’s fiancée’s family has a few tricks up their sleeves for protecting wedding cakes, and getting back at those who might sabotage the newlyweds’ big day…
Paul and Zeke were both dressed in formal attire as Zeke drove himself and his father to his older brother Matthew’s wedding. Both wore rental tuxedos, as neither were exactly big on splurging for clothes that fancy. But Zeke found himself wondering if he should, as the outfit flanked his toned body in a way that even his one suit didn’t. Complete with his neatly trimmed goatee, he looked ready to be the best man, even though Matthew and Gabby had opted for a simple ceremony without the usual supporting roles.
Paul, on the other hand, sat back in the seat with his jacket unbuttoned, as his pudgy stomach crept over his belt from behind his shirt. Unlike Zeke’s precisely trimmed goatee, his flabby chin and cheeks were covered in facial hair that he’d shaved to a uniform length a few days prior. That gave it barely enough time to grow long enough to look intentional, like Paul had meant to grow it rather just forgotten to shave. But he’d put more effort into looking good than Zeke had expected. It was a pleasant surprise that Zeke hoped would set the tone for the rest of the day.
“A garden museum seems like a strange place to hold a wedding,” Paul mused. “I still remember when they were planning to hold it in the town hall. That made more sense to me.”
“I mean, you know her family’s faith is… not exactly like ours. Between the chappel-like function hall and the huge garden outside, I think it’s actually a pretty clever compromise.”
“What is she, anyway? Pagan?”
“I’m… not sure. I should probably find out if I want to be a decent brother-in-law.”
“Let me know when you find out. You’re better at getting the wording right when it comes to those kinds of questions.”
“Maybe we could find out before the ceremony. We’ll have plenty of time to spare.”
“Right. Time we could have spent changing in the hotel so we didn’t have to fly in these tuxes,” his dad grumbled.
“I told you, direct flights out here are hard to come by, and I didn’t want to risk showing up late for something this important. Besides, maybe we can help set up.”
“In these getups?”
It wasn’t long until the two pulled into the parking lot of the garden museum. Zeke gave their names to the parking attendant, who let them into the nearly empty parking lot. There were only about a dozen cars, probably from people setting up for the wedding, including Matthew’s car. On their right, they could see the welcome center and the function hall, and behind that, they caught of glimpse of the garden itself. Blooms of various heights, sizes, and colors all competed for their attention, and that was just what they could see from the lot.
“Well, let’s go inside,” Zeke said. “We can at least see Matthew before things get too hectic.”
“Sure,” Paul agreed, sounding less cranky than he had on the ride over.
The welcome center looked exactly like how one would expect a garden museum’s welcome center to, seemingly having been spared the wedding decoration treatment. Among the informational displays and blown-up photos of flowers, there was a receptionist who asked, “Hi, are you here for the Jacobs-Sousa wedding?”
“Yes,” Zeke answered. “I’m actually the brother of the groom, and this is our dad.”
“Hello!” Paul greeted.
“Well, you’re plenty early, but you can head in and visit in the meantime. The function hall is that way,” she said, pointing toward the only other building of significant size on the property. A glass-covered walkway connected the two, with plenty of plants inside and out to make walking through more interesting. “You’re also welcome to walk around the garden as much as you like.”
“That does sound appealing,” Zeke admitted. “But I think we ought to go talk to Matthew first.”
“Agreed,” Paul said, before the two walked toward the connecting passage to the function hall. A few other early arrivers were helping to set up folding chairs, while Matthew and Gabby stood together in front, discussing things with another well-dressed woman between them.
“I thought the groom wasn’t supposed to see the bride before the wedding,” Paul whispered.
“You know, something tells me they don’t put any more stock in that tradition than they do in any other,” Zeke quipped, prompting Paul to take on a pensive look for a moment before he nodded.
It was easy to tell Gabby’s guests apart from Matthew’s. Matthew’s relatives and friends were all dressed in traditional formal attire, tuxedos for the men and long, single-color dresses for the women. Gabby’s family, on the other hand, wore outfits that resembled traditional formal attire only at a glance. The men all wore brightly colored suits with sashes and other accessories, with one even wearing what looked like a kilt, albeit without a tartan. The women all wore much more lavish and vibrant outfits than the women among Matthew’s party, and yet in spite of this, they were helping the men of both families put out chairs.
Though Matthew and Gabby were both deep in conversation with the third person between them, Matthew looked to the side and saw Paul and Zeke approaching, at which he gave an enthusiastic wave. “Hey!” he called out. Both men waved back and joined the two in the front of the function hall. Giving Paul a hug first, Matthew said, “It’s so good to see you two,” before he hugged Zeke as well.
“Ditto!” Zeke replied. “Gabby, good to see you too,” he continued as the two embraced.
“Gabriella,” Paul greeted, his voice low and soft, with a wide smile on his face. “You look stunning,” he commended. Although Paul had raised a few eyebrows at Gabby’s family’s ways, Zeke knew his father well enough to know the compliment was genuine. Which wasn’t that surprising. Gabby was dressed in a verdant green dress with embellishments and sashes in various shades of green. The flowers in her hair shone even brighter against the black curls. “And excited!”
“Oh I am,” she enthused. “But I’ll admit, I’m as excited for this to be over as I am for the wedding itself.”
“Yeah,” Matthew sighed. “I mean, we’ve been living together, what, three years now?”
“Yep. We’re basically already married. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to have a short ceremony as an excuse to throw a party to celebrate!”
“Speaking of which: dad, Zeke, this is our friend Robin. She’s ordained to officiating the wedding.”
“Pleased to meat you,” the woman greeted as she shook Paul’s and Zeke’s hands. Her outfit was somewhere between those of Matthew’s guests and those of Gabby’s, as she wore a long white dress with pastel-colored embellishments and accessories like those of Gabby’s family and friends.
“Well, we’re here this early. Is there anything we can do to help?” Zeke asked, prompting a tired look from his dad.
“Yeah, hmm…” Matthew said as he looked around pensively. “I mean, it’s not exactly going to be an elaborate ceremony, so there’s really not much to be done.”
“I think we have everything covered,” Gabby concurred. “People are putting out chairs, the festival has been set up–”
“The–did you save festival?” Paul asked.
“Basically the reception,” Matthew explained. “Gabby’s family is taking care of that, for the most part.”
“They certainly don’t mind,” she chuckled. “Big celebrations are what we do.”
“So, I mean, you could catch up with the other folks here” Matthew suggested. “Or you could walk around the garden. It really is beautiful.”
“And big,” Gabby added. “Plenty to see for the next few hours. Just make sure you don’t get lost before the ceremony,” she joked.
“You know,” Paul started, “There’ll be plenty of time to catch up with everyone during the… festival?” he asked, looking at Gabby with eyebrows raised until she nodded, at which his expression relaxed. “Why don’t we go walk around the garden while it’s still quiet?”
“I like that idea,” Zeke concurred. After pulling his phone out to check the time, he gave his dad a nod and told Matthew and Gabby, “I’ll make sure we’re back before the ceremony.”
A side door in the function hall took Zeke and Paul out into the garden, where they mosied around admiring all the growth around them. “I’ll give them this,” Zeke said, “I don’t think I’ll ever go to another wedding that smells as good as this one.”
“I dunno. I’d be more impressed by the smell of a good reception feast.”
“Speaking of which,” Zeke continued more quietly. “You see that tent over there?”
“You suppose that’s where the food for the reception is?” Paul asked, a devious smirk spreading across his face.
“You thinking what I’m thinking?”
Looking around to make sure no one would see them, the two snuck across the garden toward the giant white tent. It was surrounded by chairs and tables, though it seemed to be big enough for seating inside as well. After taking one last look around, Zeke zipped open one of the tent doors and the two snuck through, before Paul zipped it closed behind them.
Inside the tent were plenty of tables and chairs for sitting, just like the outdoor area. But on the right side, one of the lengthier sides, was the buffet spread. Hors d’oeuvres and appetizers started the table, which lead into salads, lighter fare, heartier entrés, and desserts. Though they could see the wedding cake far at the end, there seemed to also be plenty of other sweet options, like chocolates and pastries and even fruit dishes.
“Where to start?” Paul chuckled.
“From this end, I suppose. Just make sure you don’t take too much of any one thing.”
“Right. Wouldn’t want to fill up when there’s all this food to try.”
“And, you know, wouldn’t want to arouse suspicions once everyone else gets in here.”
The two made their way down the table, sampling everything from the deviled eggs to the chopped up caprese salad to the mac ‘n’ cheese to the chicken parmesan to the chocolates at the end. Gabby’s family seemed to have emphasized quantity over elaborate placement, which made it easy for them to sample each dish without making it obvious that something had been taken.
Of course, the wedding cake was a different matter. It was a five-tier confection, adorned with a mix of pastel greens and purples and intricate rosettes of frosting and other edible decorations. There was no miniature of Matthew and Gabby on top, but Zeke supposed that wouldn’t have fit with the aesthetic of the rest of the cake.
“God it looks amazing,” Zeke whispered with a palpable sense of craving in his voice.
“It sure does,” Paul agreed in a lower, huskier tone, before licking his lips.
“Of course, we can’t–” Zeke started, before he was interrupted by his dad striding forward and walking around the cake.
“Hey, there’s a knife back here!”
“Dad!” Zeke pleaded in his most assertive whisper. “We can’t–” But Paul had already cut off a fourth of the top tier, which he put on a paper plate he’d fished out from behind the cake and dug in. “Oh what the hell,” Zeke sighed, before he joined his dad behind the cake and took a slice from the bottom.
Once Zeke tasted the cake, though, all his hesitations vanished. The frosting was smooth and flavored with cinnamon and other spices, while the moist, gingerbread-esque spice cake inside pleaded to be eaten. With one slice eaten, Zeke had no hesitation about taking a second, followed by a third. The cake was so delicious that it made him forget just how much he was sabotaging his own brother’s wedding.
Zeke savored his last slice, before a burp from Paul made him look up at the cake. In addition to the portion that he’d cut out, the entire top two tiers were missing.
“Dad!” Zeke croaked, nearly shouting before realizing he had to keep his voice down. They really couldn’t afford to be caught after what they’d done to the cake. “What did you do?!”
“Same as you, kiddo. I was just more committed. A missing tier or two is less conspicuous than a missing slice.”
“I… doubt that… oh god, what are we going to do?”
Licking his fingers clean, Paul said, “Listen, they have no reason to think we would be the ones to do this, given that we’re Matt’s family. For all they know, some animal could have snuck in from the garden and done this.”
“But we didn’t see any–”
Before Zeke could object, Paul took the knife and used it to rough up the edges where Zeke had cut his slices and the exposed top of the cake, making them look more like the rough claw marks of a varment than the clean cuts of a human blade. After taking a napkin and using it to wipe off the knife, he put it back down and said, “There. Convincing enough.”
“But what about our plates and forks? And the napkin?”
After looking around briefly, Paul walked toward a garbage can, which had already been filled with refuse from setting up the festival, and stuffed their plates, forks, and napkins underneath the trash that had already accumulated. “There. Problem solved.”
Zeke walked out from behind the cake and approached Paul. “Do I have any cake on my face?”
“Mmm, maybe you better use another napkin before we head out.”
After clearing his face of all evidence, Paul walked to the same side of the tent they’d entered through, with Zeke close in tow. “God, we shouldn’t have done this,” Zeke fretted.
“What’s done is done. The question is, do you want to get in trouble or get away with it?”
Zeke was silent as he followed Paul to the zippered entrance. Leaning against the tent, Paul listened for signs of anyone outside. With the coast clear, he zipped open the tent and beckoned Zeke to follow before he closed the zipper behind them.
No one else seemed to be in the immediate vicinity when Zeke and Paul emerged. As quickly as they could without looking conspicuous, they returned to the paths through the garden and started walking around as if they’d never approached the festival tent. Once they were back on the path and Zeke could finally relax, he turned to Paul and said, “You know, it is kinda curious that they’d leave the food out here just in the tent like that. An animal could definitely get in under it.”
“See what I mean? So don’t worry.”
The two passed by a few more guests as they walked through the garden, running into more familiar and new faces as the time of the wedding approached. At 10:30, they decided they should head back, finding themselves part of a fairly sizeable crowd that was doing so. “You know,” Zeke whispered to Paul, “with how many people were out here, even if they don’t think it was an animal, it could have been any of them.”
“Yeah, yeah, now don’t bring it up anymore,” Paul whispered back. “That’s just asking to get caught.”
The ceremony, of course, went off without a hitch. Robin said a few words about commitment and love that were indeed quite beautiful, before Matthew and Gabby exchanged their vows. All told, the whole thing was finished before 11:15, much to Zeke and Paul’s pleasant surprise.
After the two kissed and the applause quieted down, Gabby turned to the crowd and called out, “Alright everyone, let’s get on with what we all really came here for,” prompting cheers from her side of the function hall and some confused, reluctant applause from Matthew’s size. But when Matthew and Gabby walked out of the function hall and Gabby’s family followed them into the garden, everyone followed suit.
As the crowd approached the food tent, Zeke gave Paul a nervous look, which Paul returned with steely eyes and a solemn nod. Zeke wasn’t sure what his father meant by that, but it didn’t matter much when he heard the first few guests leading the crowd shout out, “Oh, the cake!” Closing his eyes briefly, he opened them again when he realized he could run into someone if he walked without looking, and braced to put on his best shocked face. “It looks so beautiful!”
Both Zeke and Paul looked at each other with confused expressions. Once they got into the tent, they saw that the cake looked exactly like it had looked before they got their hands on it. The top two tiers had been replaced, and there were no crumbs or smeared frosting or any indication that the cake had been touched before the festival.
Both Zeke and Paul were left speechless. As more guests piled in, they wandered off to the side, where they could talk without being heard. “How?” was all Zeke could blurt out.
“Maybe they made a spare cake. You know, in case any animals came in and ruined it?”
“That… I’m ashamed I didn’t think of that before,” Zeke muttered, sounding more at ease. “Okay, looks like we’re in the clear.
Gabby and Matthew walked right up to the cake as all the other guests filed into the tend, intent on doing the customary cutting of the cake as soon as possible. “Oh Gabby,” Matthew beamed, “this cake looks amazing. Your dad did a great job.”
“You can always trust him to bake something incredible,” she concurred. “It’s spice cake, too. Bet your family won’t see that coming.”
“No, probably not. Hopefully they don’t complain about how spicy it is,” Matthew joked.
“Heh,” Gabby replied with a drawn out sigh. “I want to laugh, but I could see some of them doing that.”
“But I mean, wow. How could they turn this down? The decoration alone is incredible. And not a nick or dent in the frosting anywhere,” he marveled as he looked around the cake.
“Oh yeah. Mom probably put a confection protection charm on it.”
“A confec… I don’t think you’ve told me about that one before.”
“Basically, if anything happens to the cake before we cut it, it’ll be restored to its original state, and whoever sabotaged the cake will be punished appropriately.”
“Is… is cake sabotage something your ancestors had to worry about a lot?”
“More than you’d think,” Gabby chuckled. “If you had family tensions boiling over or an enemy who you wanted to get back at, no better way than destroying the centerpiece of their wedding. Especially when sugar was so hard to get in those days. So they started charming the cakes to protect them, with the charm being broken when the newlyweds cut the cake together.”
“So… what happens if someone messes up the cake by accident?”
“Oh nothing, usually. The payback is proportional to both the extent of the damage and the intent. You could even drop the cake and get let off the hook if you truly didn’t mean to. But those enemies or family rivals of yours who would sneak in and pummel the cake into crumbs? Well, when the newlyweds cut that cake, those would-be saboteurs would fall and break a few bones.”
“Your ancestors were hardcore.”
“Yeah,” Gabby chuckled. “These days, it’s more for tradition than anything else, and keeping the cake from getting nicked and smudged.”
“Speaking of the cake…” Matthew said with a grin.
“Yes, yes! Excuse me, everyone!” Gabby shouted out. “Could we have everyone gather around the cake, please? I know most of you won’t want to start with dessert, but if you could humor us for just one moment.”
Chuckles emanated across the crowd as everyone gathered around the cake, which Matthew and Gabby stood on either side of. Matthew’s smile grew extra wide when he saw Zeke and Paul make their way to the front of the crowd.
“Thank you all for joining us. It means the world to us to have so many of you with us on this day. As is customary, we’re going to cut a slice of the cake before everyone dives in to whatever they’d like to start with. We cut it together to symbolize that we will work together on all things, big and small, in the years to come.”
Gabby’s family and friends all cheered loudly, while Matthew’s made polite applause. It made Matthew chuckle as he joined Gabby on her side of the cake. “That was beautiful, dear,” he commended.
“Aw, babe,” she cooed. After Gabby picked up the knife, Matthew wrapped his hand around hers, and they brought it down onto the frosting and through the cake.
A commotion from the audience prompted Matthew to look up. Upon hearing Zeke’s voice saying, “What the hell?”, he leaned to the side to peer around the cake. Zeke’s jacket was open, and his once flat stomach had been replaced by a mound of pudge more akin to their dad’s belly.
And it was growing. The buttons on his shirt strained to hold in all his new flab, causing the seam to stretch open, revealing the pudgy flesh expanding underneath. When the first button popped off, Matthew jumped back. He was less startled with each subsequent button after the flew off the front of Zeke’s shirt, as his expanding belly tested the limits of his rental shirt’s stretchiness, and his shirt failed the test.
By the time Zeke seemed to have stopped growing, as evidenced by him letting out a long sigh and untensing his shoulders, all the buttons that were once over his stomach had popped off. The two sides of the shirt hung limply like open curtains, flanking the blown-up gut for everyone to see. Much of Zeke’s weight gain seemed to be contained in his beach-ball-sized belly, as his facial features had only softened a bit, and his pants didn’t seem especially uncomfortable. As such, his belly jutted out far over his belt, swinging with a wide berth when he rotated his torso to examine himself.
“Ah, Jesus,” Matthew heard his dad call out. Leaning around the cake some more, he saw that his dad wasn’t doing much better. His belly had blown up bigger than Zeke’s, bursting through his outfit similarly, to the point where he had to undo his belt. And Paul’s growth didn’t seem to have stopped. Even as the shirt buttons over his chest popped open, even as his pants ripped at the seams, even as his jacket was tearing trying to contain his growing body, he was still swelling.
Both men had to lean backwards to counteract their newly added weight, but Paul’s stomach had swelled up so big that he seemed to be testing the limits of just how much he could arch his back. As such, the growth of his massive gut was only accentuated, bulging out even farther as the curve of his back forced it forward. This didn’t help his already compromising situation, with his clothes ripping off of him in new places every moment, leaving him practically naked as only his boxers didn’t tear open from his growth.
By the time Paul stopped swelling up, his belly had grown to nearly the size of a yoga ball. His once pudgy, squishy abdomen had rounded out like his own body was billowing out from trying to contain all his new girth. Sparse body hair adorned the sides of globular mass, while a line of the hair ran down the center, accentuating just how much his gut had bowed out on top. Even his chest had plumped out too, creeping over the rounded top of his belly before spilling over the sides. Behind his beard, a double chin had descended into the space below, before rounding his face to meet his pudgy cheeks.
Even Zeke was flabbergasted by how big his dad had grown, staring with jaw agape as both men stood motionless and spilling out of their clothes. Matthew’s guests were similarly speechless. Gabby’s guests, however, all burst out into uproarious laughter. Matthew could hear one of the nearer guests say, “I didn’t know we were still using confection protection,” while another one of the guests added, “Guess that old charm still has some kick in it.” All such comments were interspersed with chuckling as the guests couldn’t contain themselves.
With wide eyes and mouth hanging open, Matthew looked at Gabby and asked, “Did your mom’s magic do this?”
“I mean, it might have,” Gabby stammered, “But only if your brother and dad did anything to the cake before we got here.”
At that, Matthew remembered suggesting the two wander through the garden before the ceremony, which would have put them right next to the tent where they stood now, looking much more filled out than they had when they’d arrived. Zeke looked like he’d eaten the entire cake himself, while Paul looked like he’d eaten an entire cake that big every day for the previous year.
“Eaten the cake…” Matthew mumbled to himself as he considered the plight of his brother and father, and what sort of crime this punishment might fit.
“Hmm?” Gabby asked.
“Nothing, dear,” Matthew assured here as he looked out onto the crowd. He felt for Zeke and Paul, standing in front of all the guests with their massive guts bursting out of their tuxes that were now in no state to be returned to the store, their chubby cheeks growing increasingly red. But the laughter of Gabby’s family and friends was contagious, and he found himself smiling along. “They got their just desserts.”