Originally published November 6, 2017.
Contains: instant weight gain.
Like “Nutritionally Complete Candy for Growing Kids” and The Prize-Winning Pumpkin before it, this is another Halloween story that I didn’t get the idea for until it was too late to post it for Halloween. But if the reception those stories got is any indication, that won’t be a problem. And when I say “get the idea”, I mean it in the sense of “receive”, because this is another idea that ZBot316 floated to me that made me go, “That’s great. I have to write it.” It’s rare that I can find someone who’s ideas gel with me that consistently, and I always appreciate it when it happens.
Synopsis: Bethany and Tyrell are tired of their dads taking their Halloween candy when they come home from trick-or-treating. As they’re out trick-or-treating with their friend Sofia, she suggests casting “the candy tax” on their hauls, to punish anyone who tries to take candy from them without asking. Each of their dads gets their just desserts for how much they take, from Sofia’s dad who just takes one, to Bethany’s dad who always loses count of how much of her candy he eats.
“I’m just tired of my dad eating so much of my candy eat year,” Bethany lamented. “I swear he eats like half of what I bring home.”
“Yours does too?” Tyrell exclaimed. “I mean, mine won’t eat that much, but he’ll definitely take a few while joking that he’s ‘checking them for poison’. It wouldn’t bother me so much if we didn’t like the same kinds of candy.”
“You two are weird,” Sofia chimed in. “Why not just take your candy into your bedroom with you so they can’t get it?”
“That’s… just not something that’s done in our house,” Bethany said.
“Uh, he could still get it,” Tyrell added. “Plus, I think my dad would criticize me for not sharing if I did that.”
“I just… I dunno, it just doesn’t seem right. They can go buy some candy if they want it so bad,” Sofia asserted as she looked at her own haul for the night. The three of them were all fairly short, allowing them to continue trick-or-treating even as their fellow high school upperclassmen were getting asked, “Aren’t you a little old for this?” Of course, being older meant they could walk farther before they got tired, and thus get more candy. As they walked back to Sofia’s house, Sofia couldn’t help but feel it just wasn’t fair that Tyrell and Bethany would lose so much of their hard-earned haul. “Maybe there’s something we can do.”
“Like what?” Bethany asked, largely sarcastically.
“Okay, follow me on this. They say there used to be this goth kid at our school, long time ago. No one knows much about them except that they went by the name Raven, and they took Halloween very seriously. So seriously that they came up with a ritual to punish anyone who ate their candy without asking first.”
“Wait, wait, wait. Are you suggesting… magic?” Tyrell asked. “Aren’t we a bit old to be trying that?”
“We’re not too old to be trick-or-treating,” Bethany said. “Might as well try some magic too. What do we have to do?” she asked, at which Tyrell’s eyes opened extra wide before he rolled them to look the other way.
“Raven called it “the candy tax”. Supposedly, every Halloween, Raven took their favorite piece of candy out of the bucket and replaced it with a nickel, symbolizing the tax. They then burnt that piece of candy. After that, anyone who took candy from their bucket without their permission… well, that part’s not exactly known. I think everyone was too intimidated by Raven, even their parents, to test it.”
“I’m game,” Bethany said with morbid seriousness, before retrieving a lighter from her pocket.
“Why do you carry that?” Tyrell asked. “You don’t even smoke.”
“Because you never know when you’re going to need it. For example,” she said while motioning toward Sofia.
“I mean, I don’t think I’ll need it, but I’m down to try it if you two are.”
Tyrell looked at the other two with his eyebrows raised before saying, “I don’t carry cash, coins or bills.”
“I should have enough for all of us,” Bethany said as she pulled out her wallet, causing Tyrell’s eyes to grow extra wide as he looked at Sofia with an expression that asked, Why aren’t you stopping her? “You know, maybe we should throw in quarters instead of nickels.”
“Why so?” Sofia asked.
“I mean, the value of a nickel must have gone down since Raven was in high school. We probably need something more valuable to have the same effect.”
“You’re suggesting hexes are susceptible to inflation?” Tyrell asked.
“I’m just saying, I think it couldn’t hurt.”
“Okay, so we have the coins,” Sofia said. “We’ll probably need some paper to help the candy burn. We can do it on the beach near my house.”
“You think we should draw pentagrams on the paper?” Bethany asked.
“Oh no, no no no no no,” Tyrell interjected. “We are not messing with any of that demonic bullshit when we’re already dealing with the dark arts. Let’s just go light your little bonfire and then leave,” he pleaded.
“Yeah, it doesn’t sound like it was part of the ritual anyway,” Sofia said.
The three made a detour to the nearest café to pick up supplies. Bethany picked up a pumpkin spice latté while Sophia stuffed her pockets with napkins and wooden stirrers and Tyrell waited outside, increasingly unsure whether he’d hang out with the other two again after that night. Once they had what they needed, the three walked down to the beach Sofia had mentioned, finding it mostly deserted on that cool night. Once they reached the moist sand, Sofia used a stick she’d picked up on the way down to dig a hole, into which she stuffed the crumpled up napkins and tossed the stirrers on top of those. “Alright, time to swap out your candy for the coin.”
Bethany pulled three quarters out of her wallet and handed the other two one each. Sofia and Bethany both solemnly rummaged through their hauls, which only made Tyrell feel more uneasy. “Ugh, I could have eaten this tootsie roll instead of using it for your dark arts shit.”
“Just think, though: if this works, your dad won’t be eating any of your tootsie rolls after this.”
“I don’t know how much longer you think we’re going to get away with being able to trick-or-treat, but… oh what the hell,” he finally said, pulling out one of the little rolls and dropping the quarter in.
The other two pulled out a peanut butter cup and a kit kat and exchanged them for the quarter without another word. With their candies selected, the three placed them on top of the pile before Bethany leaned down and lit a napkin. The whole setup went up in flames pretty quickly, with the wrappers melting away before the candy started to melt as well.
“So… do we do some, like… chants or something while this happening?” Tyrell asked to break the silence.
“I think we just wait for the fire to go out,” Sofia said.
As they watched their little pile burn up, the moment didn’t feel nearly as solemn or arcane as any of the three thought it would. Even Sofia was starting to regret burning a kit kat.
“So…” Tyrell stalled. “Either of you start the project for Ms. Major’s class yet?”
Alejandro sighed when he stepped into the house after giving Sofia’s friends rides home. He was happy to do it, as he was to do anything that made Sofia happy. Raising her on his own was difficult, but ultimately, getting to watch her grow was its own reward. Not that it made it any easier to have to do everything himself.
When he got home that night, Sofia was already in her room. Whether she was doing homework or not, he was just glad she was home safe and not getting into any trouble. With college visits and applications on the horizon for the two of them, he was glad that she’d never been a troublemaker kind of kid. He didn’t know if he could handle that on his own.
After walking into the kitchen and putting down his keys, Alejandro looked down at the Jack-o-lantern shaped plastic bucket that Sofia had brought back that night. Right on top was a piece of licorice, a candy he knew Sofia couldn’t stand, but that he personally loved. He knew it wasn’t right to take some candy without asking her first. But after Halloweens past, when he’d told her, “I ate some licorice from you Halloween bucket,” she’d thanked him.
“Ah, what the hell,” Alejandro whispered to himself as he took the candy off the top. After tearing open the packaging, he popped the piece of candy in his mouth, before tossing the wrapper in the trash.
It wasn’t long after that Alejandro noticed his pants seemed to be fitting a little more tightly. With a “Hm,” he undid his belt and slid it up a notch. In doing so, he felt his wrists rub against the warm underside of his belly, which was just big enough that his shirt didn’t cover the bottom. Strange. I’m sure this shirt fit me better than that, he thought to himself.
With a pensive look on his face, he walked into his own bedroom to change into his pajamas for the night. As he did, he looked in his full-length mirror and saw why his clothes were fitting a bit more tightly. Though he wasn’t exactly a svelte man–he didn’t know many fathers who were–it seemed he’d added a bit of pudge on his stomach lately. His belly, already flabby the last time he’d really looked at himself, seemed to have puffed out into a more noticeable layer of pudge. His face had rounded out a bit as well, his features loosing some of their definition and softening out. He wasn’t huge by any standard, and as long as he wore a loose shirt to the office the next day, he didn’t think anyone would notice. But it was still a definite change.
Heh, guess I better lay off the sweets.
Sean met his son at the door with a smile on his face. “Hey, Ty,” he greeted enthusiastically, before wrapping his son up in a big hug. Sean was a tall man, and though Tyrell seemed to have wised up to his “checking for poison” ruse, he still had a smile on his face when the two separated. “Did you have a good a time? Get plenty of candy?” Sean asked with a knowing smile.
“Yep,” Tyrell sighed.
“Good, good! I’ll check it for poison tonight as usual.”
“You really don’t have to do that, dad,” Tyrell groaned. “That’s only an urban legend. It’s been debunked by several outlets.”
“Oh, they can say whatever they want, but I still want to make sure my boy is safe,” Sean said with a wide grin. Of course, he’d read the articles too. He knew no one was trying to poison his kids, or any kids. But it was still an excuse for him to indulge his sweet tooth a bit now that he was too old for trick-or-treating himself.
“Alright, but… can you at least leave the tootsie rolls this year?”
“As long as they haven’t been tampered with.” When Tyrell started to roll his eyes, Sean put his hand on his shoulder and continued, “I mean, Ty, it comes in an unsealed paper wrapper that can be easily opened and closed again. It’s way too simple to tamper with it without you knowing. But hey, the bigger ones come in those plastic wrappers that make tampering easy to check for, so I promise you’ll be keeping more of those.”
“If only people gave out more of those.”
“Well, I’ll leave as many as I’m comfortable leaving, kiddo,” Sean assured Tyrell with another pat on his shoulder. “Now, do you have any homework that needs to get done tonight?”
“Well, it’s getting pretty late, so you better start on that.”
“Yeah,” Ty agreed before going off to the dining room. Sean, meanwhile, brought the bucket of candy to the kitchen to rummage through it.
Sean’s husband Genji was in the kitchen taking care of dishes from the two’s dinner. “Still doing the whole ‘checking for poison’ thing, huh?” he asked with a tone somewhere between endearing and exacerbated.
“Aw, what’s the harm?” Sean asked.
“You know, you’re a grown-ass man. You can go out and buy candy for yourself if you want it so bad.”
“I know, I know. But I’m trying to get this under control,” Sean said as he patted his pudgy waist. While Sean wasn’t as hefty as most of the men in his family, he still had a veritable stomach that pushed out from behind his shirts. On a man as tall as him, it seemed largely proportional, making him come across as more like a teddy bear than anything else. Genji didn’t seem to mind at all, but his doc had been reminding him that it would be good if he could take it in a bit.
“So what makes this candy more excusable than candy you could buy for yourself?”
“Because this is only once a year. If I get in the habit of buying candy, this is only going to grow bigger,” Sean said as he patted his stomach a bit more.
Genji’s eyelids rose, as if he would have liked that, but he still smiled and said, “Whatever makes you happiest, hun.”
With a smile, Sean poured Tyrell’s haul out over the kitchen table. “Not bad, Tyrell,” he muttered, not wanting his son to hear him in the other room. “Not bad at all.” Sifting through the pile of candy, Sean removed several smaller tootsie rolls with more distressed paper wrappers, leaving the ones with more intact wrappers for Tyrell. He also took out several fruit-flavored hard candies, a peanut butter cup, and a couple of mini chocolate bars, before putting the rest back into the bucket.
Sean didn’t let himself have candy very often. Even when it was free at work, he tried to abstain, knowing he wouldn’t be able to stop before he’d taken more than his fair share. So he put Tyrell’s bucket to the side, where it would be out of sight, and looked down at his own pile he’d made for himself. With a grin, he gingerly unwrapped a tootsie roll and popped it in his mouth. Once he got his first taste, he lost all restraint and plowed through the rest of the pile.
It wasn’t until Sean’s pile of candy was reduced to wrappers scattered on the countertop that he stopped to take inventory of his present circumstances. And when he did, he wondered if he should have eaten that fast.
Looking down at the counter, Sean could see that his belly had grown even bigger, to the point that he was now as big as most of the men in his family. His once flabby paunch has grown into a rounded gut, a protrusion with its own presence that wrapped around him in front and on the sides. He had to lean back to counteract all the extra weight he now carried in front of him. As his curious hands ran over his newly expanded midsection, he found that they could only push in so deeply. Unlike the soft flab he’d had before, there was now a firm core to his gut.
Much to Sean’s relief, his sweatpants had stretched out along with him. His sweater, however, was another story. The once baggy, cozy garment had shrunk relative to his body, barely going down far enough to pass the point of greatest circumference on his belly. If he raised his arms or bent backward so it went above that point, it popped up and slowly rose up to his chest, exposing the deep brown ball of flab in all its globular glory.
After pulling his sweater down a few times, in vain, Sean finally spoke up, “Uh, babe?”
Before Sean could find the words to say next, Genji turned around. Once he saw Sean, his eyebrows and eyelids both shot up higher than Sean thought anatomically possible. “Jesus Christ, hun, what did you do?!”
“I… I don’t know. One minute I was my normal size, then I ate my pile of candy, and now I’m…”
When Sean couldn’t find the words to say, Genji chimed in, “You mean Tyrell’s candy. Serves you right,” he muttered under his breath as he turned back to the sink. “Lying to the boy for years so you could get a few sweets.”
“Uh, right now I’m a little bit more concerned about what to do about all this,” Sean said as he patted his newly widened midsection on both sides. “I mean, bellies generally don’t spontaneously grow this much in a healthy person.”
“Tragically,” Genji muttered under his breath. At a more audible volume, he asked, “Well, do you feel ill?”, sounding like he was finally taking this seriously.
“…surprisingly, no,” he said after pondering his own state.
“Do you feel bloated or unpleasantly full?”
“Nope. I feel about as full as I would expect to feel after eating a dozen pieces of candy,” Sean said, wondering if he’d still look like his old self if he’d eaten fewer pieces.
“Does your skin feel stretched at all?”
“No, actually. It seems to have stretched with the fat.”
“Well then,” Genji said, taking on a more pleasant tone of his voice. Walking closer to Sean, he took the sides of Sean’s belly in hand and continued, “I think what we ought to do about this, is enjoy it while we have it.”
“Wha–’while we have it’?”
“Look, I don’t know what got you this big this fast. But if it seems to have stopped, and if it doesn’t have you feeling ill, then I have to imagine it’ll go away on its own. You don’t eat enough to maintain a belly this big,” he said as he started rubbing Sean’s gut over. Though the sensation of being that big was alien to Sean, Genji rubbed the full expansion like a seasoned pro. “Although if you wanted to maintain it,” he said more quietly, “I could always cook bigger meals.”
The idea seemed ridiculous to Sean, until his frenzied mind focused on the feeling of Genji’s hands on his belly. As Genji worked him over like an expert masseuse, Sean found himself wavering as he stood in place, his motions involuntary as Genji’s sensations had him rocking back and forth. Sean’s worried expression soon turned into a smirk, before Genji coaxed a full-on grin out of him. As Sean’s smile widened, Genji’s did as well, until the two were looking at each other with toothy grins. “You know…” Sean said, “maybe I’ll take you up on that.”
Clark had already been watching TV for an hour when Bethany came home. He and Brenda had eaten dinner together before going their separate ways for the evening, where he watched TV with a bottle of beer next to him while she read magazines in the kitchen. At least, that was what she usually did. But that night, she came into the living room yawning and said, “Hey Clark? I’m gonna hit the hay early tonight. Can you stay up until Bethany gets home?”
“Oh yeah,” Clark replied with a nod, feeling giddy now that he knew no one was going to be up to stop him from eating as much of Bethany’s candy as he pleased. Brenda didn’t always approved of his yearly pilfering, but the way he saw it, he was doing Bethany a favor. He knew Halloween was like harvest time for dentists looking to make money on filling cavities. And while his old teeth could take the beating of all that sugar, he didn’t want hers to have to do the same. Besides, he thought, she never ate it all herself when left to her own devices. Why not take some for himself?
So when Bethany got home and yelled out that she was going to her room to work on homework, Clark wasted no time scuttling into the kitchen. Bethany had left her bucket of candy on the kitchen table, faithful as usual. With a pleased grin, Clark took the time to wash out his beer bottle and throw it in recycling before grabbing another to wash the candy down with. Normally he was a one-and-done man when it came to beer–though certainly not to candy–but that night was something special.
Clark sat down with his daughter’s bucket of candy in one hand and a newly opened beer in the other. As he did, he could feel his sizeable belly jiggle. Clark definitely had a sweet tooth, which was why the call of his daughter’s candy was so hard to resist. In his younger years, he could burn off all the candy he ate. But with the advent of age, all those sweets had found their way to his waist, accumulating into a rotund belly that stuck out like his stomach had been replaced by a beach ball.
As Clark switched through channels, he came across some old black-and-white horror movie. He was never really a horror fan, but he knew those movies were generally considered not scarey by modern standards. It was perfect for kicking back with a beer and some candy and just relaxing.
At least, Clark thought it was perfect. But it didn’t take much to keep a scaredy cat like him on the edge of his seat. Right from the scene his channel flipping had dropped him into, the tension was building. With his eyes glued to the screen, he alternated unwrapping a few pieces of Bethany’s candy and taking a sip of beer. By the time the first commercial break came, he must have been surrounded by a several dozen candy wrappers, with the beer nearly gone. And only with the calm of the commercial break was he able to take his eyes off the screen long enough to see where it was all going.
Then again, if Clark had eaten much more, he wouldn’t have been able to keep his eyes glued to the screen without his now mountainous belly getting in the way.
“What the fuck?!” Clark screamed out upon seeing just how wide his belly had grown. The keg-sized mound of fat had grown out enough to spill onto the armrests of his arm chair, giving his flabby arms barely enough room to rest on them. His thighs too had expanded, spreading out to where he could feel them touching the side of the chair as well from beneath his mammoth belly. The bulbous mass was topped by the two lobes of his chest, themselves now big enough to be bellies of their own.
Clark’s clothes were an utterly lost cause. His shirt had bunched up around his chest, allowing his belly to hang out in full view. His pants, unbeknownst to him, had split at the seams as his thighs grew too wide for them. Only his underwear was stretchy enough to keep up with his growth, and even that seemed tenuous.
In his surprise, Clark had dropped his beer and Bethany’s candy, causing both to be spilled on the ground. He tried to get up–he had no idea what he’d do when he was up, but it had to be better than sitting and doing nothing–but his gargantuan belly pinned him in place. As he tried to lean forward, his belly pushed back against him with just as much force. He had so much inertia now that his body simply refused to be moved. His flabby arms and thick legs all flailed to no avail as he tried to rise into a standing position, only to fall back with an “Oof.”
“Clark, what the fuck?!” Brenda exclaimed when she walked into the room in her bathrobe and slippers. In all their years of marriage, Clark had never heard her scream so loudly.
“That’s what I said,” Clark replied, not sure what else to do but try to ease the tension.
“Jesus, what happened?”
“I don’t know!”
“God, well we have to take you to the ER. I don’t know what’s going on with you, but it can’t be healthy.”
“No it can’t. But first you’ll have to help me get up out of this chair.”
With an exasperated sigh, Brenda walked over and took Clark’s flabby hands in her own. Neither one of them could have gotten him up on their own, but with Brenda leaning backwards with all of her weight, they finally got Clark off his chair. Once he was up, he wavered as he tried to find his newly moved center of gravity. Unsurprisingly, it was a lot farther forward now. WIth his back arched to avoid falling forward, Clark inadvertently pushed his belly out farther into the space in front of him. He must have taken up twice as much space in each direction as he previously did, he estimated. “God, how are we going to fit me in your car?”
“I don’t know, but we’ll have to figure something out. I just hope I don’t keep growing.
From her bedroom, Bethany overheard both of her parents exclaimed, “What the fuck?!” in turn, before urgent conversation broke out between the two. Such profane exclamations weren’t uncommon in her house, so she didn’t pay it much mind. At least until her mom came barreling into her room and said to her already fully-clothed daughter, “Bethany, get dressed, we need to take your dad to the emergency room.”
“Wha–what happened?” she asked.
“Either he has the worst case of bloat modern medicine has ever seen, or he somehow put on 200 pounds in one night. Either way, we need to get him looked at.”
Brenda had already stepped away from Bethany’s door, assumedly to get changed herself, before Bethany could react. As such, Bethany let a wide, satisfied grin spread across her face. “I’ll be right out,” she called out, feigning urgency as she finished the math problem she was on before closing her notebook.