Originally posted July 13, 2019.
Contains: mention of male weight gain. That said, this is not meant to be an erotic story. Please don’t read it and then complain that it was too serious and no one got bigger.
To be clear, today is not the 10-year anniversary of when I started writing gaining stories. We’re about six years away from that.
I used to play World of Warcraft. In fact, I played the game for about five-and-a-half years, from 2005 to 2011. I loved the game, but I might have loved the WoW blogosphere even more. I wanted to partake in that scene, so ten years ago today, in 2009, I started a World of Warcraft blog of my own.
Now, as I’ve mentioned in this journal entry, for most of my life, writing was decidedly not my strong suit. But because I was writing essay-length and essay-quality posts for my blog three times a week, I was unwittingly practicing writing. And through that, I went from struggling with writing, to my College Writing II instructor asking me to email her my last essay for the class, so she could show it to other students as an example of how to write a good essay. Without that blog, writing very well might have never become a hobby of mine.
After that, I spent about four years writing spoken-word poetry, and I dabbled in fanfic and original fiction for a while, before I eventually settled on writing gaining fiction. And that brings us to where we are today.
Naturally, I think the 10th anniversary of when I started writing for fun deserves something to mark the occasion. But I couldn’t come up with any ideas of my own that I felt were really appropriate for that significant of an anniversary. So I put out a question to you folks asking for suggestions. spirasider suggested this one, while justgiveme1username suggested the other one I’ll be posting today. ZBot316 suggested the idea of a retrospective on what happened to my characters after their stories, which I used in both stories.
I liked both ideas, but I couldn’t figure out a satisfying way to fit all my characters into one of them. So I decided to write both: the characters who got happy endings would appear in the reunion story, and the characters who got not-so-happy endings would appear in the support-group story. And thanks to a lot of time spent on my laptop in a coffeeshop and a lot of iced tea, I managed to finish both of them in time to post today, on the 10th anniversary itself.
It’s been a wild ride to get here. I wish I could thank everyone who supported me along the way, including the subscribers and readers of my WoW blog, and the people who supported me and cheered me on when I did spoken-word poetry. But what I can do is thank you folks. So thank you. Whether you’ve been here since the beginning or since today, thank you.
Synopsis: At a support group for victims of “unexpected weight gain”, characters from my previous stories who weren’t so happy with their endings come together to share their stories and find camaraderie. After they talk about their experiences that bring them to the group, things seem to be going well. But some of them can’t shake the feeling that there’s some higher power controlling their weight gain. And that feeling introduces more strife than the meetings organizer was probably expecting.
James was the first to arrive at the church’s function hall. His first order of business was setting up 31 seats for him and the 30 men he’d invited. It was something of a risk, trying to start a support group for men who’d been the victims of unexpected weight gain. He feared most people would see them as just folks who’d let themselves go and were looking for an excuse to blame anyone but themselves. But the more he read stories like his, the more he was convinced there was a need for it. And while he wasn’t a spiritual man, when the church accepted his request to use their space for the meeting, he wondered if it might be a sign from above that he was doing the right thing.
Regardless, he soon finished setting up the circle of chairs. In truth, he didn’t expect all of the men he’d invited to show up, or even most of them. Some of them had quite a ways to travel to make it to the meeting, and not just in terms of distance. But he’d sent the invitations out anyway, and having gotten more affirmative RSVPs than he’d expected, he hoped for the best. He’d even brought food and drinks to the event. However, due to its nature, he’d limited the menu to salads, fruits and veggies, and bottled water. He had a feeling the men he’d invited would appreciate that. With the chairs set up, he brought the food in from his car.
The meeting was scheduled to start at 6:00. The other attendants started trickling in at 5:45. Most of them greeted James as he stood by the door to welcome them. Some thanked him for taking the time to set the meeting up. James encouraged all the guests to take something from the food and drink table. Some took salads, some took some fruit and/or vegetable slices, and some just took water. Regardless, they all sat in the circle of chairs, mostly silent as they waited for the meeting to start.
James stayed by the door to greet people as they came in. By the time he’d welcomed the last straggler, he looked at the analog clock and saw it was just past 6:05. Closing the door behind him, he looked at the circle and saw exactly three chairs available. Seeing two attendants at the table grabbing food or drinks, he realized that everyone he’d invited had shown up. With a smile, he took his place in the circle.
Once everyone sat down, James looked around at the group of men that had shown up. As was to be expected, most of them were on the larger side. Those men ranged from having modest but noticeable bellies to humongous midsections that stuck out over most of their legs as they sat down. What surprised James was the half-dozen or so men who were thin like him, at least compared to the heavyset men that dominated the group. Once everyone had sat down, James stood up and cleared his throat.
“Alright, I think we’ll get started now. Of course, feel free to keep munching if you took some food. Firstly, thank you, everyone, for coming. I know some of you had your reservations about coming to this meeting. What brings us together is a… difficult memory for quite a lot of you. But based on the fact that I don’t see any empty chairs in this circle, it looks like everyone I contacted is here. That’s… truly wonderful to see. I’m glad we’re all so dedicated to helping each other through this.
“Now, I think it’s best if we don’t beat around the bush. We’re all here because we were victims of unexpected weight gain.” As James stated the group’s purpose, some of the heftier men looked uncomfortable, crossing their arms, looking down, or slumping in their chairs. Others looked at the thin men who’d joined the group with lowered eyelids. Not wanting infighting in his group, James immediately continued, “Whether it affected us or someone we know, whether it was temporary or permanent. It was more unexpected for some of us than others, but what we have in common is that the circumstances that surround it seem… somehow off. Whatever the cause, we’re here to help each other.
“So, with that out of the way, I think the best place to start would be introductions. We’ll go around the circle, you’ll give us your name, and, if you’re comfortable sharing, the circumstances that…” Looking around at the thin folks in the room, James decided against saying, “caused you to gain weight.” Instead, he concluded, “Brought you here tonight.
“I’ll go first. Uh, my name is James, and while on a business outing to a fairground, I stumbled upon a hidden area where all the games made you fat when you won. I gained a fair amount of weight, before passing out and coming to in my bedroom… at my old size. When I went back to the fairground to pick up my car, the hidden area was gone.”
Several of the men around the room were giving James looks of disbelief, especially the larger ones. Putting his hands together, he continued, “I know, it sounds… fantastical. But I wanted to share it because I know several of you said you’re hesitant to share your stories for fear of not being believed. I want you to know you’re not the only ones here with unbelievable stories to share. And I want you to feel comfortable sharing them.
“And… some of you are probably looking at me wondering, what am I even doing here if I lost all the weight I gained? Well, I’d be lying if I said that day hasn’t left me shaken in some ways. But more than that, when I read about how all of you had similar experiences, unbelievable circumstances that caused you to gain weight, I wanted to bring us together. So you don’t feel so alone.”
The mood of the room was still tense, but James at least no longer felt like the center of the tension. With a deep breath, he said, “So, why don’t we all go around the circle, and introduce ourselves.”
The man to James’s left stared ahead for a moment before he glanced at James and saw that James was looking at him. “Oh, me,” he said as he sat up in his chair, a nontrivial task given how gargantuan his gut was. “Well, my name is Bob–”
“Hi Bob,” a few of the other attendants said unenthusiastically.
“Please, let’s save those. We could be here all night if we don’t,” James asked.
After moving his gaze from James to the group, Bob continued, “And, well, I’m the manager of a demolition company. I went to check out this house we were set to demolish, to make sure there would be no surprises for my team when we went there. And when I got there, there was a fresh feast set up on the dining room table, even though the house had been abandoned for years. I… couldn’t help myself. I ate the whole thing.” The wide-eyed stares of some of the other men around the circle indicated they’d had similar experiences to Bob. “A few more feasts, and, well, I was at the size I am today.”
“Thank you, Bob,” James said. “Shall we continue?”
The svelte uniformed police officer sitting next to Bob sat up in his chair and cleared his throat. “Sure. So, I’m Jake. I’m a police officer… not that I have to tell you that,” he chuckled. “And, around the time I joined the forces, a local bakery started giving away doughnuts for free to officers. The station filled with them, and all of my colleagues blew up. And no one found it suspicious that the bakery was suspected to be a mob front.”
“So how come you’re still thin?” the man next to Jake, asked.
“I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.”
A few of the men nodded, though some looked at each other unhappily.
“Well, that’s my story,” Jake concluded.
“Alright, well, I’m Tim.” Tim wasn’t quite as big as the other big guys there, but he was big enough to be justified in being suspicious of the thinner men like Jake. “And, uh… My parents fought a lot when I was growing up. When they fought, I used to hide in this cave in the yard, where there was this pool of slime that was… really sweet. But my parents never let me go back after they discovered it. Then I grew up, and I went back to it, and… eating it felt really nice.”
“You ate it?! Do you have any idea what it was?” Jake asked.
“Nope. All I know is… I think it was… alive, somehow… that’s all I want to say for now.”
“Thank you, Tim,” James said. “Let’s move on.”
Billy was about Tim’s width, but being shorter than him, he looked a good deal bigger. “Me, then. Okay, I’m Billy. Not much to my story. I drank some milk that had been contaminated with cow growth hormones, and I grew,” he said, before crossing his arms on top of his ball of a belly.
“Clark,” the next man said. “I’m an encourager. I help guys who want to get fat.” That comment drew a few distrustful stares from some of the men, but Clark continued unfazed. “I hooked up with this one guy who said he was a gainer. And at first, he ate a lot. But he got me to start eating instead, appealing to my ego, goading me to ‘show him how it’s done’. After taking photos of me, passed out with a stuffed stomach, and posting them without my permission, he never contacted me again.”
After Clark told his stories, the guys who’d seemed distrustful of him at first looked more sympathetic. “I’m so sorry, Clark,” James said. “Thank you for sharing.”
A very heavyset man in a baggy shirt was next. “I’m Ted. I was hiking one day and found an abandoned cabin. Like Bob, I also found it full of fresh food that had no reason to be there. And I ate it. Then this ghost took me hostage and kept feeding me more meals. I honestly can’t remember how I escaped. But the police tell me they found me in the cabin eating in bed before they had to carry me out on a reinforced field gurney. And now… well, I don’t go on hikes anymore.”
“I’m sorry, Ted,” James said, before he looked at the next man, himself also extremely large.
“Cam. I, uh, found this candy that was advertised as ‘nutritionally complete for growing kids’. The, uh… label warned me that I shouldn’t eat it. I guess this is what it does to adults.”
“I’m Adam,” said the next man. He wasn’t one of the biggest men in the room, but he certainly wasn’t one of the smallest. “I went to a Halloween party with a pumpkin painted on my belly as my costume. One the way home, I was…”
After Adam has paused for a bit, James told him, “It’s okay if you don’t–”
“I was drunk. And I cut through the pumpkin patch behind an abandoned house. Then I tripped and fell, and got tied up in the vines. It’s like they were holding on to me. And this… this ghost came out, and she sprinkled fertilizer on me and watered me, and… my belly kept growing. Then I woke up in my apartment. I wasn’t as big as I’d grown in the garden, but…”
Tears were welling up in Adam’s eyes, which he wiped away with the back of his chubby hand. Cam put a hand on Adam’s shoulder, until Adam said, “I’m fine, I’m fine. Um… I’ve never shared that story with anyone. I… didn’t think anyone would believe me. But hearing everyone else’s stories tonight, well… thank you, everyone.”
“Thank you,” several folks in the room said, which goaded Adam to smile as he wiped at his eyes one more time.
“Thank you, Adam,” James said. “It means a lot for you to share that.”
A heftier man dressed like a fraternity member was next. “I don’t know how I’m gonna follow that,” he said, which drew some chuckles from the other attendants. “I’m Chad. A few years ago, I bought this ugly sweater from a thrift store for an ugly sweater party. It was way oversized for me, and the tag inside said, ‘All fit one size.’ I thought it was a translation error,” he said before letting out a self-deprecating laugh. “I guess it was a warning.” After looking down for a while, Chad took on a happier expression and looked at the man next to him.
“Uh, I’m Gordo,” the man said. He was close to being one of thin guys there, but an undeniable belly slotted him in with one of the heavier guys. “And, uh, I’ve never shared this story with anyone either. But after listening to these stories, maybe you guys will actually believe me. I found this… house in the woods, which I thought was abandoned. I raided some of their food, and then these… three bears showed up. And not, like, fat gay guys. Actually fucking bears. They chased me out, and once I got my bearings…” He paused on that word, which caused a few of the other men to snicker. “Didn’t mean to do that. But yeah, once I stopped running, I realized the bloat from the proidg–I mean, food, seemed to be permanent.”
“Well, it wasn’t bears that got me,” the next man said, “but that would definitely make for a better story. Uh, Brad. Anyway, you guys ever hear of the Munchies?” Most of the men in the room shook their heads side to side, but one man farther down stayed still as his eyelids opened wide. “They’re these grey little things who come find you when you’re sad or got nothing to do. And they feed you. They fed me so much I almost got too big to leave my apartment. Definitely got too lazy to do so.”
Brad was definitely one of the bigger guys in the group, but he didn’t looks so big that he was teetering on being immobile. He was also wearing clothes that fit, something that someone who spent all his time in his apartment probably wouldn’t do. “So, what happened?” Ted asked. “I mean, you have to have left the apartment to get here.”
“Parents caught on,” he said. “Paid me a surprise visit, and the little shits all scattered, so they didn’t believe me that it wasn’t my fault. Dad cut me off from his credit card, and I had to get a job. I work in fast food now.”
“Well… it’s better than being a prisoner of your own apartment,” James said.
“Yeah, I guess,” Brad replied.
With Brad not saying anything else, the next man looked from Brad to the rest of the circle. He was one of the heftier men there, though his baggy clothes indicated that he’d managed to lose some of the weight he’d gained. “I’m Hector,” he said. “I have this friend, Diego, who’s an anthropology professor, and he convinced me to meet him in these woods where ancient tribes used to live. I got lost trying to meet up with him, and found these ruins with… ghosts inside.” After being silent for a moment, Hector continued. “You know, I never told anyone what happened that night. Not even Diego. But hearing you guys talk tonight, I feel less… weird talking about what happened to me.”
“Your experiences are valid, Hector. Especially here,” James said.
“Right,” Hector replied vaguely dismissively. “Well, anyway, they fattened me up, with food that somehow turned real when I touched it. And then I had to climb out of the amphitheater. That was when I finally found Diego, and he was fatter too! Somehow, he doesn’t seem to mind his new size as much as I do. I tried to convince him to come tonight, but he said it was silly.”
“Everyone reacts to something this unexpected in their own way,” James said. “His reaction doesn’t invalidate yours.”
“I know. He’s the insane one. Pinche gilipollas,” Hector said under his breath, causing another Latino man at the end of the circle to raise his eyebrows.
“Right…” James said, stalling before he looked on to the next man, a hefty man in a toga..
“I’m Tiro,” he said. “And, uh… my story might be a bit hard to believe, even by the standards you gentlemen have set.”
“Try us,” Hector said with a smirk.
“Well… I’m from Greece. You would probably call it ‘ancient Greece’. I didn’t think I’d be able to communicate with anyone when I came here, but it seems the same force that brought me here also gave me the ability to speak and understand your language, praise Zeus.” When Tiro looked around and saw that the rest of the group wasn’t looking at him like he had as many heads as a hydra, he continued. “I’m a sailor, and if you can believe it, a renowned swimmer. At least I was, until I fell victim to the sirens’ call.”
“And you didn’t die?” Brad exclaimed.
“That’s how good of a swimmer I was. The sirens tempted me with delicious-looking food, and… well, once the wax fell out of my ears, it all gets blurry from there. I know I made it to shore, and I remember something about singing their songs with them. How I escaped, I have no idea.”
“Wow,” said the man sitting next to Tiro, himself quite hefty too. “Well, I’m Dan. I work in a candy store, and one Easter night, the owner left me there with permission to eat as much of the candy as I wanted. I did, and, well…” Opening his hands, he motioned to his rotund belly. “Not much more to say.”
On Dan’s other side was another man dressed like he was out of place and out of time. He wasn’t one of the bigger guys, but he did seem like one of the least well-adjusted to his size. “Um, I’m Ren. And, uh, I wasn’t sure how to explain that I’m not from this time period either, but I guess Tiro and I have that in common. Um… I was an assassin, hired to kill a wizard. But he caught me and… turned me into a mouse. Somehow I got into the trash behind a tavern, and when I woke up, I was human… and more human than I was before.”
Most of the guys in the circle still looked at Ren with mild disbelief. But Tiro smiled at him. “It’s good to know I’m not the only one here who’s story seems like fiction,” he told Ren.
Next were two more thin guys, both fairly young, and with their heads hanging down. “Um, I’m Colin.”
“We were at a fairground, and we got convinced to join a pie eating contest. We both passed out, but when we came too, we were too full to move.”
“And we were in this tent on our own. Until the guy who hosted the contest came in and… stuck these hoses in our mouths. And forced us to drink this… fattening mixture.”
“And then, when we were huge, he dragged us out to some kind of… freak show stage…”
The two had a hard time continuing their story, but Cam didn’t seem impressed. “So how did you get to be the size you are now?”
“We passed out and woke up in a dumpster, filled with rotten vegetables. I couldn’t tell you behind that,” Peter said.
“You didn’t mention that the word ‘loser’ was still stamped on our chests afterward,” Colin said.
After letting out a sigh, Peter continued, “Yeah, they stamped it on us before we passed out. I guess the crowd didn’t like us.”
“I’m so sorry, you two,” James said. “That sounds like a lot to go through. Thank you for sharing your story.”
The two went back to looking at the ground, not saying anything and still looking uncomfortable in their chairs.
“Charles,” said the next man, well dressed and quite hefty. “I’m… not entirely sure how I got this big. My appetite seemed to increase out of nowhere, until I stopped going to that Italian restaurant for dinner on Thursdays.” After a moment, Charles’s eyelids lowered, and he said in a quieter, more menacing voice, “I know that manager had something to do it. I should wring his neck.”
“Okay, let’s try to keep the violence to a minimum here,” James pleaded. “Maybe we should move on?”
Two men who looked quite like each other, except for the fact that the older one was much heavier than the younger one, were next. “I’m Paul,” the older one said.
“Zeke. Uh, we… both got fatter at my brother’s wedding. I think the cake was cursed or something.”
“Did anyone else at the wedding gain weight?” Ren asked, surprised to hear about magic possibly existing in this world too.
“No,” Zeke answered.
“We’re not sure why it affected just us,” Paul interjected, after which Zeke hesitantly nodded.
Next was another quite heavyset man, wearing an earthy green tee shirt and dark green cargo shorts. “I’m Bud. I went exploring in this forest that the locals call the ‘Turgid Bog’–I guess it used to be a bog–because I wanted to prove it wasn’t haunted or cursed like they said. Then I found this cut vine that was seeping a sweet sap, and… I couldn’t stop drinking it.” Bud was quiet for a moment before he continued, “I would drink from it until I passed out, and when I woke up, before I could get my bearings, it would start pouring sap again. I was lucky one day to wake up fast enough to swipe it out of my mouth and eventually get out of there.”
“Plants, man,” Adam commented. “Not as innocent as you think.”
Another hefty man in a very casual outfit sat next to Bud. “Clark” he said gruffly. “It was one Halloween night. I sat down to watch a movie with a beer and some candy, and next thing I know, I’m fucking four- or five-hundred pounds. My wife and I went to the hospital, but they couldn’t find anything strange about the weight I’d put on. It took my wife and daughter’s word to convince them that I wasn’t that big at the beginning of the night.”
Another skinny man was next, and he sat looking uncomfortable in his seat. “I’m Greg. And, uh, before tonight, I also didn’t think anyone would believe me when I told them my story. The police certainly didn’t seem to. I don’t think they actually went looking for my friend Harold when I told them what happened.” After shifting uncomfortably in his seat, he continued, “So, Harold and I were lost in the woods, and we stumbled upon a cottage made of… gingerbread. And icing. Then the… giant who lived there trapped us in cages, and as punishment for eating his house, he tried to fatten us up. I escaped, but Harold…” After a few more moments of silence, Greg cleared his throat and said, “I think he got Stockholm syndrome or something. Still haven’t seen him to this day.”
“I’m sorry, Greg,” James said, starting to feel like a broken record, but knowing it was probably the first time a lot of these guys were hearing it.
Another skinny man sat next to Greg. He sat more confidently in his chair, though his arms were crossed. “I’m Max, and before I tell my story, I would just like to thank you for bringing salads and fruit and stuff to this meeting, instead of something like… pizza, I guess.” A few of the attendants murmured in agreement. “Because, well… I’m a protagonist in a gaining story. Always have been, for as long as I can remember.”
“I’m sorry, are you… implying that someone else is writing your life?” Billy asked.
“Something like that. The tropes are all there. Bringing less healthy snacks to a meeting like this would have certainly been one of them. And since I can spot them and I refuse to fall for them, they affect people near me instead, and they end up gaining weight.”
A commotion broke out across the room at Max’s statement. Some guys shuffled in their chairs away from him, while others got up so fast to get away from him that they knocked their chairs over. Clark and Charles both got up and instead walked toward him, scowls on their faces. “You son of a bitch,” Charles said.
“Not only do you have the audacity to come here when you’re not fat, but you put the rest of us at risk of getting even fatter?”
“Gentlemen, gentlemen, please!” James called out over the noise. “Please calm down!”
“If you’d let me finish!” Max shouted out even more loudly, at which a silence fell over the room. “Look, whatever or… whoever is doing this to me, they seem to respect that there’s a time and place for everything. It’s never happened to me during the more somber or serious moments in my life. And I think this counts as one of those. They usually happen as soon as I enter a new place, so if one of you were going to get fatter, you would have by now.”
That seemed to calm the rest of the men, though Clark and Charles both still scowled at Max as they took their seats again. Once the room had settled down and everyone put their chairs back in a circle and sat down, Max crossed his arms again and said, “That’s all.”
“Alright, then, well,” James said. “Shall we continue?”
“M-my name’s Seth,” the man next to Max stammered. “Um, I got fatter one night when my car crashed, and a stranger invited me to take shelter in his house while I waited for the tow truck. He offered me dinner, but for some reason the second course… well, it put a lot more weight on me than the first.”
The man next to Seth, another skinny man, sat in silence for a while, even though his glances around the room indicated he knew it was his turn. “Alright. I’m John. One night after a dinner with some coworkers, I cut through an abandoned farm to get home, even though my coworkers warned me I shouldn’t. Turns out they were right, because it was haunted. And the ghosts of some farmhands mistook me for a pig, and… fed me until I was a lot bigger. I woke up the next day in my apartment, back to my old size, but…” Before he spoke again, John turned to reveal a ring passing through a piercing in his right ear. “There wasn’t an earring here when I woke up. It was a… tag. A tag they use for tagging pigs.”
Adam seemed especially shaken by John’s story, though no one seemed to know entirely what to make of it. So the room stayed silent until the next man spoke, a man dressed in business-casual clothes with an impressive gut. “I’m Kenny,” he said. “I’m a manager at a burger place, and I used to be a gainer. Gained a hundred pounds by eating the leftover food at the end of the night. Then, uh…” Looking at Brad, he continued, “Well, the Munchies paid me a visit too. I never thought anyone else had the same experience until tonight.”
The man next to Kenny was looking at him judgingly, even though he was even bigger. “I’m Keith,” he said. “It all started when I was driving by this corn field and some farmhands threw a brick at my car. Miraculously, it didn’t break anything, but I ran out after them to give them a piece of my mind. Then they disappeared into the field, and this… pollen, I think, appeared. And I started getting fatter. I couldn’t find my way out of the field because the corn was taller than me, and by the time I escaped, I was this size.”
Another rotund man sat next to Keith, though he wasn’t quite as big. “I’m Bruce,” he said. “I’ve always liked video games where you can make the character you play as gain weight. Then one night, I…” He stalled before saying, “Well, I never thought anyone would believe this story, but after hearing all your stories, you folks just might. I somehow got sucked into the game, and ate a bunch of food to eat so I could experience being fat. Then I got sucked out, and I was still fat.”
By then, the other men in the room had heard it all, so they didn’t seem all that surprised by Bruce’s story. He found that surprisingly comforting.
“I guess that just leaves me,” Jorge said. He was solidly in the middle of the weight spectrum of the guys there. “I used to be a competitive eater. I have this condition where my body digests food almost as soon as I eat it, so I don’t really get full. Pie eating was my specialty, because, well, I love pie.” After a few chuckles settled down, Jorge continued, “One night, I was picking up a torte for me and my boyfriend. I got locked in the bakery because the owner didn’t know I was in the bathroom. And, uh… I couldn’t stop myself from eating the pies there. Especially when I went in back and saw how many there were there, still cooling. And… that’s how I got this big.”
James looked at Jorge with his lips pursed. “Alright. Thank you for sharing, Jorge. And everyone, thank you. I didn’t think everyone would share their story this first night. But it makes me hopeful that we’ll really be able to help each other. I’ll be honest with you folks: I’m not a professional at this. I’m not an expert on running a support group and I certainly don’t have any education in psychology. But I put this group together because I think we’re better off together than apart.”
As James finished his little speech, some of the men around him were looking at each other and smiling. Though the overall mood of the room was still solemn, it gave James some hope that this support group might prove to be worth it after all.
“So, we’ve talked a lot about our pasts, and our experiences that brought us here. Would anyone like to talk about their present? About the ways your brushes with unexpected weight gain have affected your lives since?”
Bob was the first to speak up, perhaps emboldened by being the first to talk during introductions. “Well, I was already a pretty big guy before I entered the house. My employees joked about it, but it was never anything mean-spirited.”
“Have they teased you about your weight more since… you know,” Billy asked.
“Actually, no. In fact, when I first came back, they tiptoed around it more than anything else. I think the fact that I put on so much weight so fast had them concerned. And the fact that I’ve never addressed it, never mind explained it, probably makes them feel even more awkward about it.”
“Have you ever thought about telling them what happened in the house?” Tim asked.
“They wouldn’t believe me,” Bob grunted. I mean, some of you guys have similar experiences, so you believe me. But how could I expect them to?”
“I mean, if you gained so much weight so quickly that they were dumbfounded,” Kenny said, “maybe they’d be willing to believe an unbelievable-sounding explanation like that. Could a believable explanation account for an unbelievable transformation like that?”
Bob raised his eyebrows and tilted his head to the side. “You might be onto something there. Say, you were the one who was the victim of tiny grey creatures that fattened you up, right? Have you told your employees about that?”
Kenny, looked down as he shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “No,” he said quietly. “I, uh… haven’t talked with my employees about it either.”
“So what did you say when they found you the next morning?”
“I told them I didn’t have an explanation. That I’d passed out while closing and woken up like that. Word got around before I returned to work, so when I did, I just said I didn’t want to talk about.”
“I did the same thing,” Seth said.
“Me too,” agreed Bruce.
“I’d like to pose a question,” James interjected. “Is there anyone here who has told the people in their lives about their brush with unexpected weight gain?”
“I did,” Hector said. “The Red Mountain Woods have a reputation in my area. All I had to do was tell my friends and coworkers that I went exploring in there, and they instantly become more shocked by the fact that I would go in the woods alone than by my weight gain.”
“I’ve told some of my friends in the gaining community about it,” Clark said. “I haven’t really told anyone else, since I’d have to explain what a gainer and encourager are.
“I ended up being part of a pretty well-publicized lawsuit against the company that put out the contaminated milk,” Billy said. “But I was the only one who went public about my experiences, to make it easier to explain it to my friends and family. The other victims chose to remain anonymous. It was nice to have some support from the other victims. It was like this support group in miniature. That’s why I didn’t hesitate to come here.” James smiled at Billy story, nodding at him as the two exchanged glances.
Tiro was the next to chime in. “I mean, among my people, saying you fell victim to the sirens’ song and survived garners more amazement than a sudden weight gain like this.”
“Similar case for me,” Red said. “Saying you got on a wizard’s bad size can explain a lot.”
“I didn’t really have a choice,” Ted said. “I was missing for months. Since I was in a reception dead zone, they couldn’t track me by my phone any better than knowing which forest I’d disappeared into. I told the police exactly what happened,” he said, his tone of voice getting higher as he did. “They concluded that I’d hallucinated the whole thing due to a lack of sensory stimulation. They never could explain where the food came from, though. And further investigation of the cabin did prove that I hadn’t left it in the months that I’d been missing, so they knew I wasn’t leaving it to get food. I don’t know what conclusions they came to about that. But I’ve never budged on my story. I know what happened to me. No matter how many times they might try to make me doubt it.”
Murmurs of affirmation were vocalized around the room, before it became quiet for a while. “Okay, thank you everyone for sharing,” James said, pacing back and forth as he tried to figure out where to take the meeting next. “So, I think what would be helpful now, if you’re willing, would be to talk about things you’ve done to help yourself acclimate or adjust to life at your new size.”
“Well,” Bob said, “I’ve taken up learning how to make my own clothes. Affordable and good-quality clothes are hard to find at this size, so I looked into making my own. Turns out, it’s surprisingly simple once you get a sewing machine. I think I’ve made all of the shirts I now wear on a regular basis.”
“Hey, could I hire you to make some for me?” Ted asked.
“Me too,” agreed Brad,
“Oh, me too, please,” Paul chimed in.
“Alright, alright,” Bob interjected. “Let’s talk about this after the meeting.”
“Thank you, Bob,” James said. “Anyone else?”
“Well,” Dan said. “Ever since my weight gain, it’s been harder for me to work in the kitchen of the candy store. So my boss has me working out front more often. And… it turns out I kinda have a knack for it? I don’t know, I don’t think I have a knack for sales, but I do think people see a big guy like me and trust my suggestions when it comes to candy and chocolate. It does mean I have to dress nicer for the job, but it is nice to get out of the kitchen. And, you know, it’s easier to sneak a snack when I can take from the displays and not the pans of uniformly arranged candies in the back.”
“I thought you said your boss gave you permission to eat whatever you want?” Brad said.
“After we closed on Easter, yes, when we were overstocked on treats that we knew wouldn’t sell fast enough before they went stale. Anyway, that’s been a nice silver lining on this whole experience.”
“I’ve had the opposite experience,” Kenny said. “I thought I was ready to be this big, but the stares and off-handed comments from customers… well, these days I do most of my managing from in my office. Upside is that it’s air-conditioned in there.”
“Suing the company that made the milk that made me fat definitely helped give me some closure,” Billy said.
“How very American of you,” Hector grumbled.
Billy stared Hector’s way with lowered eyelids before saying, “Anyways, with the money I won, I was able to buy myself clothes that fit at my new size, and a few new games to distract myself. It could be worse.”
Clark was the next to speak up. “Well, after I gained this weight, I thought my time as an encourager was over. But, it turns out there are a lot of guys out there who want to be encouraged by a guy much fatter than them. It’s taken some getting used to, using my new size to muscle them around–in a manner of speaking–but I’m just glad I could go back to doing what I love.”
“So… you love making men fatter?” Charles asked with a sneer.
“Men who want to get fatter, yes,” Clark clarified. “I wouldn’t ever fatten up a guy who didn’t want to get fatter. I… know all too well what that’s like.”
The room was silent for a moment longer before James stood up and spoke again. “Okay, thank you everyone for sharing.
“It’s been incredible to see just how much we have in common. And I don’t just mean our brushes with unexpected weight gain, either to ourselves or someone we care about. Listening to your stories, I hear a lot of similarities: Ghosts, and other supernatural phenomena. Abandoned buildings. Holidays. Farms. Plants behaving weirdly. Themes. A surprising amount of themes,” James said, finding himself contemplating what they might mean before he shook his head and continued. “They show how much we have in common. And our commonalities give us strength.”
“It’s almost like they’re by design,” Tiro said.
“Like someone’s doing this to us,” Max concurred.
James stared at Max with an unamused expression and lowered eyelids. “Alright, look, I know there’s been some talk about some kind of… force dictating that all this happens. And Max’s story certainly seems to lend some credence to that. But, even if something or… someone has ordained that this happen, if there’s one thing I want to get across to all of you tonight, it’s that you don’t deserve what happened to you.”
“Well, maybe I do a little bit,” Jorge said. “I should have just left instead of eating those pies.”
“Nah, man,” Adam chimed in. “That guy shouldn’t have locked you in there. That’s rude. He’s lucky you only took his pies.”
“Are you saying I should have robbed him?”
“I’m saying you could have.” Jake didn’t seem very amused by this conversation, but he kept his thoughts to himself as he kept his uniformed arms crossed.
“Oh my god,” Seth said quietly, before he looked up at Jorge. “I just realized why I put on weight. It was the second course. The guy offered me the first one, but he seemed really put off when I asked for more. It must have been because it wasn’t offered. It was my… punishment for being greedy.”
“Alright, that’s enough of that,” James interrupted. “What happened to you wasn’t a ‘punishment’.”
“No, I think he’s onto something,” Zeke said. Paul nudged his shoulder while grumbling something trying to tell him to stay quiet, but he continued, “We snuck into the reception tent before wedding and ate some of the cake beforehand. Ended up ruining it. Somehow, though, it looked fine when we arrived with everyone else. We thought they had a spare cake, but… my sister-in-law’s family does seem like the type who would dabble in magic. Maybe they had a spell that could put the cake back together, and also made us fat.”
After a few moments of tense silence, Ted spoke up. “I went back to the cabin. More than once. I should have stayed away when I realized I was gaining weight. And that ghost didn’t force me to stay. It… convinced me.”
“The cashier at the thrift shop told me someone bigger than me could have used that sweater when I bought it,” Chad said. “I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but… well, if someone that it fit had worn it, they probably wouldn’t have gotten fat.”
“I was living off of my parents’ money and making no effort to find a job,” Brad said. “I’d make up jobs to tell them I’d applied for, but never actually did. When the Munchies came to me, I’d been refusing to find work for months.”
The Clark who’d yelled at Max chimed in, “I ate my daughter’s candy without asking her first. When I talked to her friends’ dads, they’d seen similar effects that night. They didn’t gain as much as me, though. They also didn’t eat as much candy as I did.”
“Dale asked me to not take any pictures of him,” Clark the encourager said. “But after he’d passed out, I took some. I thought he didn’t know, but… he definitely did. I only kept them for myself, but… I think he fattened me up in revenge. I deserved it.”
“Clark!” James shouted out.
“I deserved it too,” Cam added. “That candy I ate that Halloween night? I was supposed to pass it out to needy children. Instead, I kept it for myself, even after the event coordinator warned us to not eat it.”
After the room was silent for several moments, Colin let out a sigh and said, “We made fun of the people at the fair. We both hate our hometown, and we were looking forward to getting out of there.”
“But we still shouldn’t have called the people there…” Peter stalled before concluding, “losers.”
“Alright, I’ll admit,” Keith said, “I’m no angel either. I used to be a fitness nut, and I was the worst kind: the kind that made fun of fat people. Those farmhands who threw a brick at me? I’d been yelling mean things at them about their weight since long before then. I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking. But I had it coming.”
The room remained silent a while longer, before Charles sighed and said, “Alright, I didn’t tip the waitress the week before my appetite went berserk.”
“Oh that’s low,” Brad chimed in.
“If you could see how poor her service was that night–”
“Alright, alright, that’s enough,” James finally spoke up. “Look, some of you have done some… questionable things, sure. But that doesn’t mean you deserve to have gained a ton of weight, Jesus Christ, I can’t believe I have to say that.”
“So why did we?” Keith shouted out. “You’ve heard everyone’s stories. This isn’t normal. People don’t just suddenly get fat when they do something questionable.”
“Something’s punishing you,” Max said.
“Max, for the love of God, will you cut it out?” James pleaded.
“I’ve seen it myself! Any time there’s someone being a jerk around me, they’re always the ones who get fattened up when I dodge a weight gain premise. Especially if it makes for some poetic justice. People who make fun of fat people are always the first to swell.”
“I’m just saying, there are rules. And if you know the rules, you can avoid getting fattened up.”
“It’s a bit too late for most of us here, dipshit,” Clark said, his arms crossed as he glared at Max.
“Fair, fair,” Max relented. “I’m just saying, these events aren’t as random as you might think.”
“If that were true,” Greg said, “Then this country, hell, this whole world would be full of people swelling up out of nowhere. It would be all over the news. And yet, here we are, only 30-something of us. The things you guys have described doing?” Greg continued. “They must happen all the time. Hell, our whole culture hates fat people. If this were any sort of fair system, people would be fattening up left and right.”
“Thank you, Greg,” James said. “If the things you folks have done were sufficient to ‘doom’ you to gaining weight, there would be a lot more of us here tonight. You aren’t somehow more deserving of getting bigger than anyone else.”
“Maybe whatever’s doing this is just overstretched,” Jake guessed.
“Come again?” James said.
“Well, imagine if there were only a few police officers in the whole country. Murders and robberies and such would still happen all the time, but only those people whom the few officers could catch would be jailed for it. It wouldn’t be fair, but that wouldn’t mean the few people who are caught don’t deserve what they get.”
“Listen to everyone’s stories,” Dan told Jake. “Whatever or whoever did this can make people fat with no effort. Do you think it really can’t be watching everyone at all times?”
“It seems to us like it takes no effort, yes,” Jake concurred. “But we don’t know what the limitations on this… thing are. Just because it’s capable of things we can’t do doesn’t mean it can do everything we can’t do.”
“Alright, look, can I just say?” Bob chimed in. “I don’t like this analogy. We live in a society where we implicitly agree to not murder or steal, or else we could go to jail. That’s the agreement you make to gain the benefits of living civilization. If you don’t like it, you can go live in the woods, but you’ll have to grow your own food and you don’t get the internet. But nowhere is it stated that we agree to not, I don’t know, make fun of fat people, or not tip waitstaff, lest we get really fat. They’re dicksh things to do, but those consequences aren’t written down anywhere like laws.”
“I don’t know,” Jake said. “Max makes a pretty convincing argument that there are rules at play here. And as an officer of the law, I am forced to remind you that not knowing the rules is no excuse for breaking them.”
“Shut up, gringo,” Hector grumbled.
“I have to agree, Jake; you’re really not helping,” James concurred.
“I just want to know what it wants,” Billy said. “Why is it doing this? Does it enjoy doing this? Or does it think it’s actually doling out some kind of sick justice?”
“I don’t think we can know,” Tiro answered. “It’s not like we can ask it. Maybe it’s… just not our place to know.” Murmurs emanated from around the circle, with many of the men seemingly not satisfied with that answer.
“I think Tiro has the right idea,” James said. “I know that, as people, it’s our natural urge to look for rhyme and reason behind everything that happens. To try to figure out why things are the way they are. We wouldn’t have science without that. And the whole appeal of faith is that it provides that rhyme and reason in areas where it’s hard to find. But maybe some things don’t happen for a reason. And if we try to find that reason, we’ll be looking for something that doesn’t exist, trying to find patterns in randomness. It’ll all be for naught.”
“So what do we do?” Dan asked.
“We support each other. We help each other however we can. Which is why I wanted to get this group together in the first place.”
The various members of the group looked around the circle in silence, but some of them looked down, as if ashamed of derailing group from its original purpose.
“Look: I don’t know why this happened to any of us. I don’t know if someone or something dictated it, or if we’re just victims of a cold, uncaring, random universe. I don’t know if whatever did this to us can be reasoned with. But I know we have each other. And we can do way more by helping each other than by arguing about why this happened.”
Looking at the clock, James saw that it was 8:15. “Alright, as much as I would like to end this meeting on a… happier note, we have gone over the time that this church said I could use this space. But, I do think we had some good discussions tonight. I hope you’ll all join me next week when we meet again. For now, I think it would be helpful to close out with an affirmation. When I ask my first question, you say ‘strong’. When I ask my second question, you say ‘we do’. Got it?” After the men around the room nodded, James asked, “What are we?”
“Who decides our fates?”
“Good. Thank you, everyone. Get home safe. Especially you,” he concluded as he pointed at Tiro and Ren, who both chuckled.
Most of the men filed out of the room, many moving pretty slowly as they maneuvered their gargantuan stomachs. Max was the last to get up, and he hesitantly approached James. “You want some help putting the chairs back and all that?”
“Actually, that would be great,” James said. “If you put the chairs back on the tables, I can clean up the food and load it into my car.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Max said as he started lifting chairs up and putting them back on the tables like the rest. James, meanwhile, re-covered the salads and fruit and veggie spreads and piled them back in his car.
Together, the two men finished pretty quickly. When they were done, James turned to Max and said, “Alright, looks like we’re finished. Thanks for helping.”
“Yeah, of course. I, uh… felt like I was kind of a little dipshit during the meeting, and wanted to make it up to you.”
“Aw, hey…” James said, stalling because he couldn’t honestly tell Max he was wrong.
“You don’t have to sugarcoat it. I know. I just got too full of myself. Fancied myself clever when really I’m just genre-savvy. It’s like being book-smart and thinking you’re street-smart, and then getting indignant when actually street-smart people try to tell you what’s up.”
“That’s… certainly one way to put it.”
“Anyway, I promise I won’t be so dismissive next time… if I show up.”
“You don’t think you’ll come?” James asked. “I mean, I don’t want you to feel pressured or anything. But I do think we all have unique ways that we can help each other.”
“I appreciate that. I really do. But I’m starting to think the group might be better off without me here.”
James was silent for a moment, before he nodded his head and said, “It’s your choice to make.”
Max nodded back before turning to leave. Before he could, James shouted out, “Max.” Max stopped at the door and looked back James, before he asked, “Most of the other guys here–actually, I think all of the other guys here–have had only one brush with unexpected weight gain so far. You’re the only one who’s seen it happen multiple times. And it sounds like you’ve seen it happen a lot.”
As he nodded, Max replied, “I’ve stopped counting.”
“That’s why I hope you’ll stay. Look, don’t tell the group this, but I’m starting to think these events aren’t random coincidences. I think they’re connected. And if anyone can tell us anything about whatever it is that connects them, it’s you.”
At that, Max perked up a bit as he walked a bit closer to James, so they didn’t have to talk so loudly. “So you don’t think I’m crazy for thinking these are connected?”
“No. Not at all. I just… don’t think it helps the other guys in the group to say that there are ‘rules’ and that this fate can be avoided if you ‘follow them’. It comes across as victim blaming.”
“Got it. I promise you I won’t bring that up during the meetings again.”
“But tell me–and all I ask is your best guess–do you have any idea what or… who could be behind this?”
“I wish I could tell you, James, but I have no idea. It’s as capricious as a human, but seems as powerful as a god. All I know for sure, is that it doesn’t like when it sets out to fatten someone up, and no one gets fattened.”
James looked at Max wide-eyed and speechless. “But… you said it never makes someone gain weight during somber and serious moments moments, right?”
“Not that I’ve seen. But that’s just my experience. Anyway, I’ll see you next week.”
Max turned to leave again, this time making his way out of the church without James stopping him. James found himself breathing quickly, before forcing himself to take deep, slow breaths to calm down. Still, once he got his bearings, he made haste and left the church as quickly as he could.
Here are the stories that these characters come from, in order of when they appear in this story:
James – The Fun Zone
Bob – The House that Time Forgot
Jake – The Not-So-Thin Blue Line
Tim – The Slime in the Cave Back Home
Billy – Growth Hormones
Clark – How the Dinner Tables Have Turned
Ted – The Haunted Cabin
Cam – ”Nutritionally Complete Candy for Growing Kids”
Adam – The Prize-Winning Pumpkin
Chad – ”All Fit One Size”
Gordo – Fattened Fairy Tales – Gordolocks
Brad – In the Grasp of the Munchies
Hector – An Overfed Offering
Tiro – The Sirens’ Dinner Call
Dan – Easter Treats
Ren – A Wizard’s Bad Side
Colin and Peter – Losers
Charles – A Certain Kind of Problem Customer
Paul and Zeke – Something Old, Something New
Bud – The Turgid Bog
Clark – The Candy Tax
Greg – Fattened Fairy Tales – Harold and Greg
Max – Decadence Denied
Seth – More Than Offered
John – The Prize-Winning Pig
Kenny – The Munchies After Close
Keith – Corn-fed
Bruce – Immersive Gameplay
Jorge – Easy As Pie