Originally published November 15, 2018.
Contains: accelerated weight gain.
This started out being inspired by all the families I saw walking around Halloween night, particularly the heftier dads, before a series of evolutions in the idea lead to what it is now. Shout out to my friend Joe, a.k.a. Atamekia, for helping me solidify the idea.
Synopsis: Keith is a muscular jerk who makes fun of the fat farmhands working the cornfields he drives by every time he sees them on his way home from work. One day, after they throw a rock that barely misses him, he stops his car and runs into the cornfield after him. But they manage to escape, and taunting him from within the field, they promise, “The corn will take care of you.” It’s a threat he doesn’t head, until his clothes start to fit tighter…
Keith had to drive past the corn fields every weekday as he drove from work to the gym by his house. Most days, it was just a boring part of the drive, as the featureless, repetitive rows of crops passed by his window while he listened to some music to pump him up for his workout. Some days, that pump-up music was the only thing that could keep him awake for the five to ten minutes of driving it took to get to a place to where there were actual landmarks that could mark his progress. It would all be worth it once he reached the gym, and could spend an hour keeping his body strong, defined, and muscular. On all but the coldest of days, he even made sure change into his gym clothes before he left work, so he could hit the ground running as soon as he reached the gym.
But things were different when it came time to harvest the corn. Then the farm’s workers came out, often wearing only overalls, save for the coldest of months. Those overalls didn’t do much to conceal just how fat all those workers were, only sparing Keith from having to see the full expanse of their giant bellies. But they did nothing to minimize the size of those guts, or workers’ other features. Sure, Keith could tell from their frames that they had plenty of muscle beneath that chub. Given the work they did every day, they had to. But it was only because he knew so much about body building that he could even recognize the muscle beneath those flabby frames.
And because Keith was an individual with an abundance of self-assurance, a lack of consideration, and an ability to read the room on par with that of a toddler reading a book by sounding out every letter, he felt like it was his obligation to let these portly farmhands know exactly what he thought of them.
Of course, Keith wasn’t going to stop his car and delay his own gym time just to make fun of some fat farmhands. Instead, he merely slowed down, so they could hear every syllable of whatever biting insult he’d managed to come up with that day. “Keep working and maybe one day you’ll work off that gut.” “It’s amazing that harvester can support your weight.” “You’re not supposed to eat all the corn yourself, fellas.” And every day, he’d drive off before he could hear whatever they’d shout back, smiling with an undeserved feeling of satisfaction.
Keith kept this up for the better part of a year. He started in late March, when the days started getting hot enough for the farmhands to go out without a shirt on under their overalls. He got his “best” zingers out in summer, when he was dedicated enough that he was willing to roll his window down and let the AC out to shout at those farmhands. And it continued into autumn, right up until Halloween.
Halloween’s drive to the gym started like any other, with Keith seeing the workers out in the field and slowing down to shout out, “Those are some nice plump-kins you’ve got growing under your overalls!” He was about to speed up and drive away before the farmhands could retaliate, like he usually did. But as his foot touched down on the grass padel, he was caught off guard by something passing right in front of his face, before it landed in hs passenger seat. It was a rock. A sizable one, too. Though it had missed him entirely and not seemed to damage his car, the fact is, those fuckers had thrown it at him. He couldn’t let them get away with it.
Slamming on the breaks, Keith put the car in reverse and backed up, until he could look out the window and see the Harvester dead on in the center of his field of vision. At that, the two portly farmhands on top of the harvester jumped off faster than Keith expected them to be able to move, while the rustling of the top of the corn indicated a third farmhand was running away too. After putting his car in park, Keith yanked the key out of his ignition and hopped out, slamming his door closed before sprinting toward the field of corn.
The workers had barely started harvesting, as evidenced by the expopsed stripe of the field running right up against the road, only as wide as the harvester itself and ending where the harvester had been abandoned. Behind that stripe was a wide field of corn, taller than Keith, that the three farmhands had retreated into. With his adrenalin pumping, Keith hopped the barrier at the side of the road, ran over the single harvested stripe, and dove into the corn. Fueled by his anger, he followed any noise he thought he heard to where one of the three farmhands running away. The snap of a stalk, the rustle of leaves, any noise he heard, he was immediately after it, ready to throw fists the moment he saw a person.
But after a few minutes of running around the featureless expanse of crops, as the anger started to subside a bit, he realized he’d been chasing spectres. All the snapping of stalks, the rustling of leaves, all the noses he’d been chasing with vengeance on his mind, were the noises he himself was making. And yet, they’d taken him rather deep into the corn, as when he tried to get his bearings, he couldn’t tell the way he’d come in from the way deeper in. The corn was hearty enough to not bear any markings of damage from his rampage, leaving him lost inside. Any attempts to jump up and see his way out that way were futile; the corn was too tall.
So Keith tried a new tactic and looked to the sky, to see where the sun was. Of course, he could easily see where it was setting, and determine which way was west. It was only then that he realized, he had no way which way the road ran. The gym was northeast of work, but all the backroads to get there wound and twisted their way, making the direction of any of them a guessing game. He tried to remember which direction the sun was in as he drove that particular stretch of road. He didn’t remember it as a part of the ride where the sun was ever in his eyes, so that at least ruled out running south.
“Heh heh heh, you lost, city slicker?”
Keith ran after the sound again. He was sure there was no way those farmhands could move faster than him, or move quietly through the corn. But once he reached the spot where he’d heard the voice, he’d heard no evidence of movement, and found no one there. Just more stalks of corn standing indifferent to his presence.
“That throw was just a warning. Why, we didn’t even damage your car. But now you’ve gotten yourself into an even deeper mess.”
This time, Keith tried following the voice more slowly keeping an ear out for any sign of the speaker moving. But he didn’t hear any, and by the time he reached the spot where the voice should have been coming from, he was still alone.
“You think you’re hot shit because everyone can see your muscles.”
“You make sure they’re nice and pretty so everyone can admire then.”
“And you think that makes you strong.”
“Think again, boy. You wouldn’t last a day on the farm doing real work.”
“Not with muscles like that that are all for show.”
“You think we look laughable because we’re built to use our muscles.”
“To us, you look like a scarecrow. And that’s about all you’re good for.”
“And there’s already plenty of scarecrows in this field.”
With the voices coming from different locations each time, not just one of three, and overlapping over each other as they spoke, it became very hard for Keith to follow just one voice and find any of them. In his desperation, he still tried, running around the field ready to dock any of them that made the mistake of showing their face. But it seemed none of them were going to be that reckless.
“Don’t worry, though. The corn will take care of you.”
At that, all three men could be heard laughing, before silence settled over the field. Keith kept his ears perked up, listening for any signed of movement, but all he could hear was the gentle rustling of the corn in the wind. It was as if the men had vanished from the field. He tried to listen for any other cars driving by, to determine where the road was. But such noises, if they were there, was muffled by the crops.
There was a deceptive sense of tranquility in the field, as Keith felt like maybe he was okay now. Maybe the farmhands had finished having their fun with him and had left him alone. With the noises so pleasant and the light of the sun diffused by the crops around him, Keith almost felt relaxed. Of course, he still had to get out of the field, but he figured, worst case scenario, he could just walk in one direction and he’d eventually get out. The field couldn’t extend forever, after all.
Keith looked around again, trying to find any sort of clues that could help him get his bearing and figure out how to get back to his car. It was then that he noticed all the yellow specks flying in the air around him. Was that what the farm hands meant when they said the corn would “take care of him?” That they’d make him sneeze with all the pollen he’d be breathing in. That was a thought Keith found laughable. He’d been lucky enough to never really experience pollen allergies, so whatever they thought the pollen would do, he was fairly certain he was immune.
Still not sure what direction he should move in, Keith absentmindedly put his hands in the pockets of his gym shorts. At least, he tried to, before finding the openings to be tighter than he remembered. After trying to slip his fingers in, he froze upon feeling a soft, supple surface beneath them. Those were his hips, previously rock hard with muscle, now soft and doughy like…
Keith looked down, only for his eyes to bulge open wide upon discovering: he’d grown a belly. His chiseled muscles, his size and definition, were now replaced by a dad bod. Lifting up his shirt frantically, he could see from the shape that all the muscle was still there underneath the fat, but the fat was still piling on. He didn’t know how, but if it had anything to do with the corn “taking care of” him, then he had to get out of there.
In a wild fit of desperation, Keith tried running toward the sun instead, knowing running in the opposite direction wouldn’t get him out of the field. “Fuck what those guys think,” Keith thought as he dashed through the field. “Let’s see any of them run this fast.” But as he moved, he became increasingly aware of just how much his new flab was slowing him down. The bounce of his belly, followed by the jiggle of his chest. The way his thighs rubbed together. The fact that the corn wasn’t rushing past him quite as quickly as it was before.
When Keith finally had to stop to take a breather–a good deal sooner than he expected–he looked down and discovered, to his horror, that he wasn’t becoming more aware of how much his new weight was weighing him down. He was simply getting fatter.
After just one run, Keith’s dadbod-esque figure had been replaced by the figure of someone who was just plain fat. He looked like the kind of guys who clogged up the gym in the first few weeks of January, when everyone’s New Year’s resolution had them seriously overestimating their dedication to fitness. Keith never resented them for their size–at least they were doing something about it–but the fact that they took up all the machines for workouts that none of them would stick to for more than a few weeks, that bothered him. And now, he was just as big as them, with a belly big enough that Keith couldn’t chalk it up to bloating if someone were to see him. He really had to get out of there.
Unfortunately, if Keith couldn’t jump above the corn to figure out where he was before, he really couldn’t now. When he tried, he only felt all his new heft anchoring him to the Earth’s gravity. Upon landing, he could feel his belly jiggling, causing him both panic and anger. But in spite of his whirlwind of reactions to his growing size, he finally noticed something that could be helpful: the corn was planted in straight lines. Facing to the left of the sun, he could see down the rows in a way that made the straight lines very apparent. It made sense that the harvester would ride parallel to the rows, so he had to move perpendicular to them. Turning to his right, he put his hand up to keep the sun out of his eyes and the corn out of his face, and took off running.
At least, he was running at the start. Before too long, and much faster than before, he was slowed down to a jog, looking the kind of runner who ran alongside the road while barely outpacing a walker. And before much longer, he was reduced to walking, swinging his arms along his sides in an exaggerated manner.
As Keith breathed heavily, he realized that he never had to block his eyes from the sun when he shouted at the farmhands. Yet here we was, running toward it, when he should have been running the other way. His heavy breathing was punctuated by a frustrated sigh as he turned around, and tried to jog in the opposite direction.
He couldn’t jog for long. Once Keith was once again reduced to walking, he looked down with disgust at what had happened to his body. Now his belly had grown so big that his shirt had ridden up high enough for him to get a good look at it. His gut spilled out over the beltline of his gym shorts, which had remarkably not yet split from his growing size. With all its new heft, his belly bounced side to side as one leg pushed it, before the other had a chance. Now he looked like those guys who stayed at the gym longer than a couple of weeks, but could never seem to use their workouts effectively to lose weight. He wasn’t sure what was worse: the fact that he was too tired to run, or the fact that walking made him more aware of just how big he was.
As he kept walking, though, he decided emphatically that the worst thing was that he was still gaining weight. Now he wasn’t sure if he could run even if he had all the time he needed to catch his breath. And he didn’t have that kind of time, not with the pollen–if that’s what it even was–still floating around him. In the setting sun, the scene looked almost serene. From the outside, Keith could have seen himself enjoying the view. But first he had to reach the outside.
Now moving with more of a waddle to his walk, Keith made his final, and slowest, race for the edge of the field. The one benefit he found to his newly added heft was that it was easy for him to push the corn out of the way. All he had to do was plow forward, and the stalks would be bent to the side, if not bent in front of him and snapping to let him pass. How the farmhands had managed to move through the corn without leaving such a trail of destruction, he didn’t know. After all, they were as big as him.
The realization that he had grown just as fat as the farmhands made Keith panic just enough that he could almost pull off a power walk as he tried to leave the field. Running, however, eluded him, as he simply had too much girth to haul to move that quickly. It felt like the farmhands were reaching out and grabbing at him, forcing him to exert more effort just to move forward. But no one was slowing him down other than himself, and his expanding body.
As Keith neared the edge, his focus was set on only one thing: moving himself forward at all costs. No matter how out of breath he felt, no matter how sore his body got, he had to keep moving. If he stopped, he would only keep growing. And as big as he’d already gotten, he was terrified that if he stopped moving, he’d get so big that he wouldn’t be able to start again. There was something to his fear, as he could feel a wider swath of corn being plowed down by his widening belly as he kept waddling ahead. But he couldn’t let it deter him; he had to keep moving.
Though it felt like forever, Keith did eventually reach the edge of the field. As the light shone through the stocks to let him know he was almost there, he pushed through one last time, before he found himself finally out, facing the empty road. Unsure how far he had to be from the corn to be safe, he waddled over to the barrier and climbed over, having a much harder time of it than he did before.
Once he was on the shoulder of the road, Keith looked side to side, only to see that he’d emerged a ways down from where his car was parked. Already panting and breathing heavily, he didn’t relish the idea of having to walk even more. But as he nervously took a look back to the corn field, he saw that the pollen was dissipating, and the wind was blowing what remained back into the field, away from him. It seemed he was finally in the clear.
His relief was short-lived, however, once he realized he still had to waddle all the way to his car. Cursing himself for running so far away from it while he was still able, he let out a sigh and started his trek. Without panic to hasten his steps, he found himself utterly appalled by how he had to move now, with his arms hanging diagonally at his side, his torso wavering back and forth, and his legs shuffling ahead slowly as they had to hold up his new size. And even moving only that slowly, he still found himself breathing loudly with his head leaning back, mouth agape to allow his breath to pass through. The only positive was that he was so front-heavy now that he had to walk with his back straightened, or else he might fall forward.
“Get some clothes that fit, you fucking whale!” a voice shouted, preceded by horn honks that startled Keith enough that he could feel his body jiggle in response. It took him a moment to even realize that now he was the target of those jeers, and worse, they weren’t wrong.
Looking down, Keith let out yet another sigh at just how big he’d gotten. His bulbous belly had pushed his shirt so far up his torso that it resembled a sports bra. He never saw folks as big as he was now at the gym, only ever in restaurants that his friends would drag him too, where he’d be forced to search the menu for the least unhealthy option. His belly dwarfed those of even the farmhands, looking as big as the exercise balls he sometimes used in his routines. It had about as much bounce too, but far more weight. But unlike those balls, it seemed his belly had not been inflated in a way that could be undone as simply as pulling a plug. He was fat, for real fat. As he was reminded of every time he took a step toward his car and felt his gut bounce when his foot hit the asphalt.
Keith let out another sigh and kept walking, trying to ignore the consequences of his weight gain. But the way he was forced to waddle along the road, the feeling of the breeze on his bare stomach, and how out of breath just walking made him, forced his new size to the forefront of his mind. He wasn’t sure how long it took him to get to his car, but once he did, he let out a sigh of relief as his hand landed on the roof. Another sigh of relief followed him fiddling in his pocket and finding his keys, glad that he hadn’t lost them running through the field.
Upon opening his car door, Keith had to struggle to bend down low enough to slide in. Once he did, he found his bulging belly pushing up against the steering wheel, forcing him to recline the seat back. That allowed him to at least fit inside, but getting the seatbelt on was another matter, as he had to string it around his waist and over his chest, making it wrap around his belly like a harness. On top of it all, his belly blocked the bottom of his view.
But he was finally back in the car, and could start driving. As he turned the key in the ignition, he wondered if he should head to the gym and start working some of that fat off. But as he put the car in drive, he decided he’d rather go to the local takeout place and get himself a few pizzas.