Big Shoes to Fill

Contains: long-term and accelerated weight gain, behind-the-scenes encouraging.

For the fourth anniversary of when I started writing gaining stories, I let my readers collectively plot my next story, with a poll to determine the parameters of that story’s plot. The results are on my writing Tumblr, and I combined those with one of the wildcard suggestions: that the protagonist should work with animals, e.g. in a zoo or aquarium. And now, it’s finally done. I hope it was worth the wait!

Synopsis: Ricardo is just starting his job at Central Zoo. His mentor is the heavyset Dustin, whom their boss, Vance, is sad to see go. Things are going well, until Vance drops a tidbit about the treats they give their wolves being addictive for humans. After trying one, Ricardo can’t help but eat more, and it starts to show…

“It’s fine to give the wolves treats when they do tricks during a demonstration, or to get them to be more comfortable in the enclosure. But don’t give them too many, or they could develop food aggression.”

“Gotcha,” Ricardo said as he took notes on his phone. It was his first week as a caretaker at Central Zoo, and with Dustin leaving soon, he didn’t want to forget anything the old caretaker told him.

“You know,” Dustin said in a more wistful voice, “I can tell these animals are going to be in good hands with you on the job.”

“Aww, thanks,” Ricardo replied. “I’ll do my best.”

“You have a lot of great people here to learn from. Just remember that you’re never finished learning, and you’ll be okay.”

“Gentlemen!” Vance greeted as he approached the two through the hallway behind the enclosures. “How are things going?”

“Great!” Dustin answered. “I think Ricardo here is going to make a fine addition to the team.”

“He’s going to have some big shoes to fill as your replacement,” Vance commented.

“Is that a fat joke?” Dustin asked, before letting out an uproarious laugh, one that Vance matched, as Ricardo chuckled uncomfortably. Dustin was a rather hefty man, with a belly that spread out as wide as his pudgy chest and a round, friendly face to match. His tight uniform made no mystery of just how round and ample his gut was, with the buttons straining to contain his belly. Yet it wasn’t tight enough to prevent his gut from jiggling as he laughed.

Vance had a bit of pudge on him, typical for a man his age who looked like he had teenage kids at home. But Ricardo wasn’t quite so hefty as the two men, being of average weight himself, and felt unsure about whether it was okay for him to laugh at a joke like that.

Curiously to Ricardo, Vance didn’t answer the question one way or another. Instead he just replied, “It’s going to be sad to see you go, Dustin.”

“It’s going to be sad to leave here. But we’re going to be driving twenty hours total as part of our move. Not exactly a distance I can commute daily.”

“Very true,” Vance chuckled as he looked at Dustin a bit longer. He then turned around to walk away, before turning back to the two and saying, “Oh, don’t forget, your going away party is in a half hour in the break room.”

“I won’t,” Dustin laughed, before Vance left the two alone. Turning to Ricardo, he asked, “Well, anything else you want to know more about before we head back?”

“Um, yeah… was that ‘fat joke’ thing an inside joke I didn’t get?”

Dustin chuckled before he answered, “Vance’s choice of words isn’t always the best, so I just like to keep him in check. He’s told me, ‘I didn’t mean it that way,’ enough that eventually I told him he doesn’t have to say it.”

“So he makes comments like that a lot?”

“We deal with a lot of big animals here, kid. If I demanded an explanation for Vance’s wording every time he mentioned something big, we’d never get anything done.”

“Right. But… does he make those kinds of comments when you’re not around?”

“How should I know?” Dustin answered with a chuckle. “Anyway, let’s go to the break room. I can show you a few more things on the way.”

After finishing up Dustin’s tour of the zoo, the two arrived at the break room, where a sheet cake had already been laid out for Dustin’s departure. “Hey, he’s here!” one of the workers called out, before Vance walked over to join Dustin at the front of the room.

“Well, Dustin, what can I say? It’s been a pleasure having you here for 17 years. And though we’ll miss you, we know wherever you go next, you’ll make it a better place.” Dustin and Ricardo’s coworkers started clapping, before Vance waved his hand at them and said, “Come on, enough formalities, let’s eat some cake!” A few “whoo”s were called out from the crowd, before Vance took a knife and server and walked over to the side of the cake. “Dustin, it’s your party, so you get first piece.”

“Just a small one,” Dustin said.

“Nah, come on, it’s your last day! It’s your last chance to enjoy cake with the team. Live a little.”

“Alright, I’ll take a big piece,” Dustin said with a smile.

Vance grinned as well before he cut a rather large piece off the corner, almost big enough that it didn’t fit on the small paper plates they had. “Here you go,” he said as he gave it to Dustin.

“Oof, very generous,” Dustin said, smiling as Vance started cutting up pieces for everyone else.

Ricardo followed Dustin for most of the party, not knowing his other coworkers well enough to strike up conversation with them easily. However, most of Dustin’s conversations were about his time at the zoo, which Ricardo couldn’t exactly comment on. Without much of a way to break into the conversations, Ricardo looked around the room instead. He watched as Vance cut cake for the other employees there. Curiously, he never seemed to pressure any of them to take a bigger piece. And after he finished serving cake to everyone who wanted some, he came over to their group and asked, “Ricardo, would you like some cake?”

“No thanks,” he said. “I’m trying to stick to my New Years resolution, and I know if I have one piece, I’ll probably cave and give up entirely.”

After a pause, Vance nodded and turned to Dustin. “How about you, Dustin? Our man of the hour? Surely you want another piece.”

“I haven’t even finished this first one yet,” Dustin chuckled, causing his belly to jiggle as he did.

After he looked up from watching the fat shake, Ricardo caught Vance looking at Dustin’s belly too, before he looked back up to Dustin and said, “Of course, silly me. Just want to make sure you don’t feel neglected. I’ll come back and ask later.”

As Vance left to mingle around the rest of the party, Dustin looked from Vance to Ricardo with a laugh and said, “This guy.”

“Yeah,” Ricardo replied, forcing out a laugh so he looked like he was in on the joke.

It was time for Ricardo to feed the wolves. Bringing several cuts of raw meat with him, he walked out to the enclosure and was met by three who started jumping on him. Ricardo was not especially tall, and even holding the meat up as high as he could didn’t keep it out of the wolves’ range. So he quickly put it down, spreading it out so all three had enough to eat, and took a step back.

While the three wolves ate, Ricardo noticed one more in the corner, lying down with its head on its front legs. Unlike the others, it didn’t seem at all interested in the meat. Ricardo remembered being told about a new wolf the zoo was trying to socialize, one that had been brought to them after it was struck by a vehicle. It had made an impressive recovery, but didn’t seem to be integrating into the pack.

With a concerned frown, Ricardo went back into the passages behind the enclosures. Opening up the bag of wolf treats, he grabbed a few to put in the pocket of his vest, before grabbing some more meat from the nearby refrigerator.

“Afternoon, Ricardo,” Vance said as he walked down the hallway.


“I saw you reaching for those treats. Gonna do some tricks with the wolves?”

“Actually, sir, the new one is having a hard time acclimating to the environment. I’m trying to use the treats to lead him to eat with the others.”

“Good plan. The wolves can’t resist those treats. Rumor has it they’re so good that if a human were to eat them, they wouldn’t be able to stop.”

“Has… has someone tried that?”

“Your guess is as good as mine. Anyway, I shouldn’t keep you any longer,” Vance said before he continued on his way.

With a confused look on his face, Ricardo shook his head side-to-side and stepped back into the enclosure.

Approaching the lonesome wolf, Ricardo crouched to take on a less imposing stance. As he got closer, the wolf looked up at him, before raising its head a little. Reaching into his pocket, Ricardo pulled out a treat and tossed it in front of the wolf’s mouth, where it could easily reach over and eat it. Once Ricardo had the wolf’s attention, he was able to lure it closer to the other three with another treat in his hand. One more brought it to the area where they were eating, where he put down the meat for the wolf to eat.

After a bit of hesitation, the lone wolf joined the others in eating their meal. The other wolves were close to finished with theirs, so Ricardo stuck around to make sure they didn’t take any meat from the lonely one. To his delight, as they finished their meals, they took an interest in the wolf rather than his food. With some friendly sniffs, they greeted him like one of their own. And for once, he seemed okay with that.

Ricardo chalked that up as a win as he turned back to go tend to the other animals.

The rest of Ricardo’s day passed largely without incident. Driving home at the end of the day, he felt satisfied that he was settling into his new role as a zookeeper quite well. He felt like Dustin would have been proud of him.

Once he got home, Ricardo emptied the pockets of his vest so he could wash it with the rest of his laundry. However, when he reached into his breast pocket, he was surprised to discover one of the wolves’ treats. It seemed he’d forgotten to put it back when he was done feeding them.

Looking at the square between his fingers, Ricardo thought that it didn’t look all that different from a dog treat, albeit a good deal bigger. He was reminded of Vance’s words, about how the treats were addictively delicious to human taste buds. And in spite of himself, he wanted to see if that was true. After all, the treat had already made it home with him. There was no sense in bringing it back to the zoo. If it was just going to get thrown away otherwise, why not try it?

Though Ricardo knew eating the treat probably wasn’t a good idea, he was curious. It was that curiosity that made him want to learn more about animals in the first place. And if he was going to try one, it was better to do so in the privacy of his own home than at the zoo, where someone could catch him. With a shrug, he tossed the treat in his mouth and took a bite.

Ricardo’s eyebrows rose. The treat tasted somewhere between gingerbread and a graham cracker. But the inside was what surprised him, as the treat seemed to be made up of two cracker-like layers with a kind of creamy filling. It wasn’t all that sweet, not at first. But as it melted on his tongue, it reminded him of the icing that came on a gingerbread man. Combined with the taste of the outside, it was far more delicious than he’d expected.

As Ricardo chewed, the dense texture of the filling made for a nice contrast with the flakier, but still heavy, layers around it. As the pieces of cracker broke off in his mouth, the filling warmed up and became less viscous, allowing the flavors to meld harmoniously. By the time he’d swallowed the whole thing, the filling had left a very sweet aftertaste, with the flavorful notes of the outside still dancing on his tongue.

“Mmm,” Ricardo muttered in spite of himself. His eyes darted from side to side, as if there were anyone around who could have seen him enjoying the lupine treat. Man, that was a lot better than I expected, he thought. I don’t know about addicting, though, he concluded, chuckling out loud before he went about his evening.

Ricardo pulled a frying pan out of his cabinets to make a quick dinner. But as he pulled ingredients out of the fridge, he realized he already felt fairly full. He thought back to his lunch earlier that day, the same thing he always ate. Had the treat really filled him up that much? Thinking about how big the wolves were, Ricardo reasoned it might have been possible. Still, he pulled out some vegetables to make into a meal so he’d get all his nutrients.

For most of the night, he didn’t think about the treat. But as he lay in bed, waiting to fall asleep, it came back to mind. The contrast between the crunchy outside and the smooth filling. The way the flavors came together, and how the spice of the outside layer cut the sweetness of the creamy core. He found himself fixating on when he’d be able to sneak another one at work. With a shake of his head, he told himself that desire would be gone in the morning, and turned over to fall asleep.

Ricardo swerved from lane to lane as he hastily made his drive to work the next day. Since he’d woken up, the wolf treat was all he could think about. He wanted nothing more in the world than to have another. He’d even skipped breakfast, figuring that the treat itself would make for a sufficient meal if they were all that filling. “Damn slowpokes,” he muttered as he switched from the left lane to the middle. “Don’t drive in the left lane if you’re only going to go 80.”

Soon enough, Ricardo arrived at Central Zoo. He usually arrived around 8:00, but in his haste, he’d managed to arrive at 7:17. Thus he was able to park much closer to the staff entrance than he usually did.

As Ricardo got out of his car, he saw Vance getting out of his too. “Ricardo! Fancy seeing you here so early.”

“Well, I woke up before my alarm today, so I figured, why not come in and get an early start on the day’s work.”

Smiling and nodding, Vance said, “Can’t fault you for that,” and the two men entered the zoo.

While Vance made his way to his office, Ricardo headed straight for the wolf exhibit. He found the bag of treats and ripped it open, pulling one out and nearly eating it on the spot, before he looked around to see if anyone was watching him. Once he was assured the coast was clear, he tossed it in his mouth, chewing it with a relieved sigh as he savored the delectable flavors.

It was then that Ricardo realized he’d forgotten to pack a lunch before heading to work. Though the food at the zoo’s café was certainly serviceable, there was a reason few employees ate there, and it wasn’t because they didn’t want to eat with the visitors. Not mainly, anyway. Thinking about the prospect of eating one of the café’s personal pizzas or a platter of chicken fingers and fries, or their sandwiches that were always way too greasy, he took another wolf treat and stuck it in his pocket. It would make a better lunch than what was available at the café.

Except the treat didn’t make it to lunch. After he finished tending to the tigers, Ricardo found himself with half of the treat in his hand, the other half in his mouth. Without thinking, he’d retrieved the treat from his pocket and taken a bite. As he heard footsteps approaching him, he shoved the other half in his mouth, not wanting to put it back and fill his pocket with crumbs.

So as to avoid being caught chewing on his forbidden snack, Ricardo went back out to the tiger enclosure. Not having anything left to do to actually care for the tigers, he went for the one that was closest to the edge of the enclosure and started petting it. Several onlookers pointed toward him and smiled, before raising their phones to take photos. Ricardo looked up to give them a smile, before he looked back down to finish chewing the treat.

Once he was done, Ricardo stood up to get back to his duties, only to be surprised by how difficult it was. In spite of having eaten nothing but two of the wolf treats all day, he felt quite full, like he did after going out to dinner with friends and eating a bit too much. Walking back into the hallways behind the enclosures, he leaned against the wall to take a breather.

“You doing okay?” one of his coworkers asked in passing. Ricardo gave her a thumbs up and smiled, before he let out a deep exhalation.

In spite of how full he felt, Ricardo still wanted something to eat for lunch. Swinging by the wolf exhibit, he pocketed another treat, then took two more, just in case.

At the time, Ricardo felt silly taking two more treats. How could he possibly want that much to eat when he already felt so full? Surely one more would tide him over until the end of the day, right?

And yet, by the time 4:00 came and Ricardo was ready to leave, all three treats had disappeared from his pocket and into his impressively stuffed stomach. As he ambled out of the zoo, his gait was noticeably changed. Part of it, he reasoned, was because he was so stuffed off of the treats. But he didn’t feel much more stuffed than he did after tending to the tigers.

As Recardo pondered the feeling, he ran into Vance on the way out, who stopped before they crossed paths. “Hey, Ricardo?”


“Your stomach is showing from beneath the bottom of your shirt.”

Looking down, Ricardo tugged at the bottom of his shirt, only to find that it wouldn’t cover his belly. No matter how he tried pulling it down, it sprung back up to reveal modest flab underneath, not quite so modest now that it was being shown off. “Heh, sorry, it must have shrunk in the wash.”

“What, in the time that you were here?” Vance asked with a smirk. As Ricardo felt the blood rushing to his cheeks, Vance laughed and continued, “Don’t worry about it. I’m not here to play wardrobe police. Just be sure you wear a shirt that fits tomorrow. Professionalism and all that.”

“Of course, of course,” Ricardo said, before he made haste to separate himself and his boss.

“And have a good night!” Vance called out.

Recardo kept trying to pull his shirt down as he made his way out, to no avail. As he did, he passed by the wolf exhibit, before stopping in his tracks. No, I shouldn’t, he thought. I’ve already gotten myself in enough trouble because of these things. And yet, he didn’t keep walking. Instead, he looked around to make sure no one would see him, and then grabbed four of the treats to put in his vest pocket.

Two weeks and two shirt sizes later, Ricardo found himself looking in the mirror with distaste. When he’d started working at the zoo, the front of his vest lay on the front of his torso, clearly loose enough that he could button it if he wanted to. Now the sides of the vest were pushed aside by what had become an impressive paunch pushing out from between them. If he’d tried to button it closed, he’d look like a busted can of biscuits. If the armholes of the vest had been smaller, he could’ve justified getting a new, bigger one. But for now, he was stuck with that one.

But the vest was not the primary issue. The primary issue was that Ricardo had gotten fat. Having found the wolf treats just as irresistible as Vance had warned him, Ricardo couldn’t stop sneaking more and more to snack on. And it was showing. The treats had caused him to put on more weight than any human food could.

Looking in the mirror, Ricardo barely recognized the man looking back at him. His face had puffed out with pudge that rounded out all his sharp edges. His legs had grown wider, like tree trunks supporting all the mass above them. He was thankful his vest could at least obscure his chest, which had taken on a prominence he wasn’t used to. And his belly, big enough to push out from between the sides of the vest, had grown to the size of the balls the larger mammals were given for enrichment.

Unfortunately, Ricardo didn’t find much enrichment at all in his new size. As he left his apartment to drive to work, he could feel his belly bouncing on his abdomen. It felt funny in a strange sort of way, but not a way that Ricardo liked. With a sigh, he got into his car and drove to work.

That day started out standard for Ricardo, as he went about his usual responsibilities. When he found himself hankering for some of the wolf treats, he made his way over to their enclosure. However, before he turned the corner to the back entrance, he could hear Vance and one of his coworkers, Nate, having a conversation that made him decide he’d rather remain unseen.

“You see? We put this bag of treats here two weeks ago, and it’s already almost gone.”

“You think the wolves are making their way back here to take them?” Vance asked.

“Ha!, I sure hope no one is leaving this door unlatched like that. Besides, if it were the wolves, they’d just take the whole bag with them.”

“So you think one of our employees is doing this.”

“Who else could it be?” Nate asked indignantly.

“Well, have the wolves been displaying food aggression?”

“No, not yet.”

“And wouldn’t they show food aggression by now if someone were being too generous with the treats for two weeks?”

“I suppose that’s true.”

“So we have nothing to worry about.”

“Noth–you don’t find it the least bit concerning that the treats are disappearing faster than they have before?”

“As long as the wolves are happy and healthy, no.”

“Not even from a financial standpoint?”

With a deep laugh, Vance answered, “A few bags of treats is hardly going to put this zoo under. Now come on, we both have more important work to do than talking any more about this.”

The two men went their separate ways, with Nate walking down the hallway away from Ricardo. Vance, however, walked Ricardo’s way. As he passed, he gave Ricardo a silent nod with what looked to him like a knowing gaze. Ricardo wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it, whether Vance was acknowledging that he knew what Ricardo was doing, or just had a lot on his mind and looked serious.

Either way, overhearing the conversation hadn’t quelled Ricardo’s desire for the wolf treats. Walking up to the bag, he looked around to make sure no one was watching him, and then took four to put in his pockets.

The rest of the day passed as usual for Ricardo. By then, “as usual” included up to a dozen wolf treats, in addition to his breakfast at home and the lunch he brought to work. It was no wonder he couldn’t keep the weight from piling on. With how addictive the treats were, the only thing stopping him from eating more of them was the fear of getting caught. But that would only slow him down, not stop him.

At the end of the day, Ricardo ran into Vance, who told him, “Oh, Ricardo, you got a package delivered to you today.”

“A what?”

“A package sent to the zoo with your name on it.”

“Wha–I didn’t order anything to be sent here. I always order it to my apartment. Why would I get it mailed here?”

“Lots of folks get their packages mailed to work. It can be safer than having it get left at their place.”

“But a zoo?”

“We’re as much an employer as anyone else. Now look, I’m not going to go looking through your mail, so if you could stop by the offices on the way out to pick it up, I would appreciate it. The receptionist will be expecting you.”

“Alright,” Ricardo agreed reluctantly.

After making his way to the offices, Ricardo walked up to the front desk and said, “Hi, I was told there’d be a package for me?”

“Are you Ricardo?” the receptionist asked. Ricardo was thankful he’d never seen her before, and that she wouldn’t remember the days when he was thinner. If she had, she probably wouldn’t have recognized him.

“I am.”

“Great,” the petite receptionist said, before she stood up and leaned down to pick a box up off the floor. With a grunt, she lifted it up and placed it on top of the desk in front of her. “There you go.”

The box looked big enough that even a professional delivery driver would have probably needed a buddy to help him lift it. Then again, if the receptionist could lift it, then it shouldn’t have been that hard for Ricardo. Or so he thought. He tried lifting it up, and though it wasn’t impossible, he did put it down with a surprised grunt. “God, what’s even in here?”

“You don’t know? It was addressed to you.”

“I didn’t order anything to be delivered here! Who sent it?”

Looking at the corner of the box, the receptionist answered, “Looks like it’s from the same people who send us most of our supplies and equipment. Maybe they sent it to you by accident because it’s something under your purview.”

“How would they know that?”

“Don’t ask me,” she said. “Anyway, if that’s the case, and it’s something you don’t want, you can always bring it back here.”

“Right. About that,” Ricardo said hesitantly. “Look, I’m not sure I can carry this to my car on my own. You’re clearly very strong. Is there any way you can help me take it to my car?”

“I’m flattered,” she said with a smile, “but I’m afraid I can’t leave this desk unattended.”

“I’ll watch the desk,” Vance said as he came around a corner, a friendly smile on his face.

“Are you sure?” the receptionist asked with surprise.

“I’d help if I could, but Ms. Williams here is definitely the stronger of the two of us.”

“Alright, if you say so.”

As the receptionist stood up and lifted the box all by herself, Vance took her seat and smiled at Ricardo. Ricardo wasn’t sure what to make of his smile, but he didn’t get much time to think about it before the receptionist grunted, “Come on, I need you to show me where your car is parked.”

Once Ricardo got home, he realized what a predicament he was in, now that he’d have to carry the package without the receptionist’s help. After he popped his trunk, he looked down at the package with weary eyes. He decided to open it and see what was inside. At best, it would be something meant for the zoo that he could take back on Monday. At worst, maybe what was inside was something that would be easier to carry up to his apartment without carrying the whole box. Grabbing his key ring, he picked one and pulled it across the tape that was keeping the cardboard box closed.

Ricardo’s eyebrows rose once he looked in the box. Inside, surrounded by packing peanuts, were six bags of wolf treats, all just as big as the ones they had at the zoo. It seemed this package might have been one that was meant for the zoo after all. Then again, there was no reason the company would know to ship it to him. Part of him felt he should have taken it back to work. But if Nate was so worried about the wolf treats disappearing so quickly, now he wouldn’t have to be. With a smirk, Ricardo decided he’d keep them for himself.

The treats proved to be a lot easier to bring into his apartment two bags at a time, with Ricardo carrying one under each arm. His trip proved easy enough the first two times. As he brought in the final two bags, he passed another tenant at the apartment who said, “That’s a lot of dog treats.”

“It pays to buy them in bulk,” Ricardo said as he continued walking, not wanting to make conversation and risk the tenant realizing they weren’t dog treats at all.

“You must have one spoiled pup.”

“Nothing wrong with a little spoiling,” Ricardo called back, before he turned the corner and power walked to his apartment with the remaining two bags. Once he was inside, he put down the bags and locked the door behind him.

Ricardo looked at the six bags of wolf treats that now sat on his counter. In the two weeks since he’d started snacking on the treats, he’d been taking them all from the same bag, and it had caused him to grow quite noticeably. As he stared at the six imposing bags, he pondered that they had enough treats in them to grow him significantly bigger, unless he ate them over the course of years. Maybe it would be better for him to take them to the zoo after all.

As Ricardo pondered doing just that, he walked up to one of the bags and ripped it open. The smells that wafted out emptied his mind of those thoughts, as his eyelids sunk and his mouth curled into a pleased smile. Reaching into the bag, he pulled out one of the treats and looked it over. The last vestiges of reservation faded away as he popped it into his mouth.

Though the taste of the treat wasn’t any different from the ones he’d been taking from the zoo, it was nice to open a fresh bag of them. It was nice enough that he grabbed another before he’d finished chewing the first, and tossed that in his mouth as soon as he was done. As he chewed it, he brought the bag with him to his couch, like a family-sized bag of chips, except the intended family was a pack.

Grabbing his remote, Ricardo turned on the TV and changed the channels until he found something he could veg out to. Once he did, he started snacking on the wolf treats like they were crackers, and lost himself in a daze of mindless TV and delicious snacks.

Night had fallen by the time Ricardo came to his senses again. By then, his hand had been feeling around inside the treat bag for longer than he wanted to think about, only to discover that there weren’t any left. With a frown, he tossed the bag aside and leaned forward to go grab another.

Only to fall back against the couch. With another forward lunge, Ricardo tried to stand up again, only to meet the same fate. When he looked down, his eyelids opened wide when he saw why. His belly had grown substantially since he’d sat down. Not quite as much as it had grown in the previous two weeks. At his new size, it would take more treats to achieve the same amount of growth. But his belly seemed to have already swelled a couple of inches in all directions. And with all those treats in his stomach, it was no wonder he couldn’t get up.

So Ricardo instead leaned back and licked his fingers clean. After wiping them on his shirt, which had risen up to expose a stripe of flab around the bottom of his belly, he lifted that shirt up and started rubbing. His gut was remarkably firm, with only the surface being at all pliable to his fingers’ touch. Beneath that, his stomach was so packed with the treats that it felt like he’d swallowed a rock. As he rubbed his hands over the swollen expanse of his gut, he was relieved to feel the pressure going away. He felt satisfied and full, so content that he didn’t worry at all about the fact that he’d eaten an entire bag of the treats in one sitting.

When Ricardo came to again, the sun was shining in through his windows. Pulling out his phone, he saw that it was 6:48 AM on Saturday. Apparently he’d passed out from food coma after eating all those wolf treats. He closed his eyes and rubbed his face, groaning from the not-so-great night of sleep he’d gotten on the couch. But now he was awake, and he could start his day properly.

As he struggled to get up from the couch, Ricardo quickly became aware that the bloat he’d experienced the night before had not gone away. Once he’d struggled into a standing position, he leaned back to account for how much heavier he was in the front, swaying a bit until he found his balance. Once he did, he looked down and saw that his belly hadn’t shrunk from the night before.

“Hmph,” he muttered as he walked to the kitchen to fix some breakfast.

Ricardo stuck a bagel in his toaster and waited for it to finish. As he did, he couldn’t help but eye the remaining bags of wolf treats. I shouldn’t, he thought, before he walked over and grabbed a bag to bring back with him to the couch. Pulling the controller on the table closer to himself, he switched his game console on and, while it was booting up, the bag of treats. When the toaster oven dinged to indicate that his bagel was done, he paid it no mind.

Gaming the day away, Ricardo took any chance he could to snack on a treat. When there was a loading screen, or dialog, or a cutscene, he’d grab one and toss it in his mouth. He couldn’t eat quite as consistently as he did when he was watching TV, but the treats were still disappearing faster than they did while he was at work.

By the time Ricardo finished the first bag, noon had already passed. He briefly considered whether he should do something else with his day. With a grunt, he pushed himself off the couch, knowing it would be difficult. But he pressed on, and soon enough, he was upright, having to lean back even farther to keep from falling forward. Walking that way, he stumbled into the kitchen, not quite adjusted to moving all the mass he now commanded. Turning to the side to swing his belly out of the way, he grabbed the bagel and tossed it in the trash.

Once Ricardo had made his way back to the couch, he plopped himself down and heard the carpentry creak beneath him. Once he was certain it wouldn’t give way, he ripped open the bag, tossed a treat in his mouth, and unpaused the game.

The rest of the afternoon passed much the same way as the morning, with Ricardo stuffing himself with more of the treats as he gamed the day away. By then, he was already feeling quite full, his stomach stretching to contain all the treats as he leaned back to give it more space. But the game did enough to distract him from his fullness that he could keep eating, mindlessly munching on the wolf treats as his belly swelled bigger and bigger. Even the act of resting the controller on his stomach didn’t deter him from stuffing himself. He just found it to be a nice place to rest his hands.

And there he rested his hands–when they weren’t fetching another wolf treat for him to chow down on–until the day came to an end, and he’d emptied both bags. As Ricardo reached into the second bag and found no more treats for him to enjoy, he frowned and muttered to himself. Once he’d licked his hands clean, he went back to the game, playing until he found a good point to stop.

Unlike the previous day, Ricardo knew that he wouldn’t be able to get up easily. And unlike the previous day, he didn’t care. With a small burp, he lifted up his shirt, which now stretched around him like it was vacuum sealed, so instead it bunched up around his chest. With his shirt out of the way, his hands were free to explore his belly as much as he pleased, which he did for the remainder of the evening.

Any alarm Ricardo might have felt about his growth was nowhere to be found as he felt over his newly expanded belly. Looking down, he realized he was now as fat as Dustin, without age as an excuse. His belly had grown entirely from an inability to resist the treats meant for a creature bigger than him. Before he’d gotten home that weekend, that might have bothered him. But as he felt his massive all-day meal settle in, he felt no qualms about his new size.

As he rubbed his massive gut, impressed at how firm it had become from all the food inside, Ricardo felt a food coma calling to him once again. He listlessly ran his hands over the warm surface of his belly, powerless to resist the pleasure he got from doing so. He was also powerless to resist the pull of sleep, which soon took him.

Ricardo groaned as he rubbed his eyes, the sun creeping in through his windows and stirring him from his slumber. His hands felt softer against his face than he was used to, but he didn’t see that as precisely a bad thing. Nor was it a surprise, for Ricardo knew what to expect after all his eating the night before. With a sigh, he lifted up his hand and plopped it on top of his belly. At least, he intended to, but he’d only lifted it high enough to land on the side. Without looking down, he slid his hand to the top of his gut. He felt it rise and fall with his breath, and he felt calm.

At least until he was awake enough to remember that there were three more bags of the wolf treats left in his kitchen. That motivated him to get off the couch.

But lifting all his new heft to a standing position was certainly easier said than done for Ricardo. After struggling for a while to lean forward, he tossed aside the bag of wolf treats on his right and scooted over to that side of the couch. With the help of the armrest, he was able to roll himself off of the couch and push himself up, finally standing up straight. With a few heavy breaths, he stood still until he got his balance, which was no small feat for a big man like him.

As he slowly strode into the kitchen, Ricardo could feel just how much more weight he carried now. His steps were shorter and wider, for he had to be careful maneuvering that much heft. His arms stuck out higher at his sides, helping him balance as he made his way through the apartment. And his belly bounced with every step, a constant reminder of what he’d done to himself by eating all those treats.

When Ricardo reached the kitchen, he made no pretenses about what his plans were. Grabbing one bag of wolf treats under his right arm and carrying the other two in his hands, he brought them back to the couch and dropped them on either side of where he would sit. Before he began his feast, he removed his shirt, showing off the ample lobes of his chest. As he felt at his waist, he realized his shorts had somehow survived his growth, albeit with the button having popped off and his fly having come completely unzipped. Slipping his hands inside his beltline, he pushed at his shorts until they fell around his feet. This left him in only his boxers, the only item of clothing stretchy enough to grow with him.

Now that he was comfortable, Ricardo plopped himself down on the couch again, hearing it creak more this time, but still holding up to all his weight. That morning, he turned his TV to some kind of mindless program instead of the game. He didn’t want his hands busy with a controller when they could have been feeding him more treats.

Without a second thought, Ricardo ripped open all three bags of treats and grabbed one in each hand, tossing one in his mouth before he immediately grabbed another one. He felt a nameless but irresistible need to chow down on the treats until there were none left. To make them disappear inside of his expanding girth. To gorge on them until every single one was gone. And as he stuffed treat after treat into his mouth, that was exactly what he intended to, to stay plopped on that couch until all three bags were empty.

It didn’t take Ricardo long to feel full again, as he crammed the treats into his belly relentlessly. But something had taken him over, some kind of animalistic need to fill himself. He was like a predator who’d gotten his first kill in days, ravaging it for all the food he could. Even though he’d stuffed himself the days before, he filled himself like a bear fattening up for hibernation, swelling larger like his life depended on it.

Unlike the previous day, Ricardo didn’t stick to one bag until he’d finished it and then move on to the next. All three bags were wide open, and all were fair pickings as far as he was concerned. So he grazed from all of them. The couch was his territory, and all the food within it was for him. And he intended to strip that land clean.

As Ricardo leaned back, he could feel his stomach swelling with all the treats inside. It left him grunting as he kept shoving them down, struggling to satisfy his insatiable gluttony. But that gluttony demanded more, and he was powerless to stop it. So he kept scarfing down more treats, his stomach muscles pushing out like a hard-on, swelling in anticipation.

As the day passed and Ricardo’s eating grew slower, he could feel the massive weight inside of him pinning him to the couch. He tried to scooch in any direction, shifting his arms and legs to give him a start. But he remained stuck in place, glued to the spot by all the food inside of him. He didn’t much care, for his reaction to the realization was simply to pat his swollen belly, feeling how firm it was, and grab more treats.

And so he kept eating, stuffing himself into the night as he forced down the last few treats. He could feel the bags nearing empty, and he didn’t intend to stop with only a few treats left. He intended to scarf down all of them, leaving only empty bags and a giant mountain of flab pinning him down.

As the time neared 8:00 PM, Ricardo achieved that goal. With one more treat stuffed into his greedy mouth, he shook the bags and heard only crumbs bouncing around. With a triumphant groan, he patted this sides of his rotund expanse, breathing shallowly and grabbing eagerly at his gut. As painfully stuffed as he was, rubbing it felt far too good to resist.

He certainly had plenty to rub. With food coma pulling him in and out of awareness, he didn’t realize just how much he’d swollen up. All he knew was that his belly was big, and it felt good to rub it. So he did, letting his hands navigate around his globe of a gut. Extending his arms to grab his mound of flesh, he could barely reach around it to touch the bottom, and couldn’t bring his hands together beneath it. The gravity of that fact would not occur to him until the next day.

In the meantime, he kept feeling his gut’s swollen expanse, drunk off the sheer girth of it. He couldn’t stop gliding his hands across its taut surface. At least until the burden of having all those treats inside of him finally pulled him under, and he fell asleep.

As light shone in through Ricardo’s windows, he saw that it was 6:34. In theory, this was enough time for him to get ready for work and get there on time. But a groggy as he felt, he still remembered the three days that had passed before. Even with his eyes barely open, he knew he wouldn’t be getting off that couch any time soon.

With the passing of a few more minutes, Ricardo was finally able to open his eyes all the way. Looking down confirmed his doubts, as the massive gut that weighed him down spread out to his sides. Getting off the couch was going to be an ordeal. Going into work was probably not going to happen.

Feeling around on the floor with one of his feet, Ricardo found his shorts, and was able to hook them onto his leg. After he brought them closer to the base of the couch, he was able to lean to the side, reach down, and pick them up. With his shorts acquired, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and called in to work.

“Hi, this is Ricardo… Yeah, I’m not feeling well. I’m going to have to take a sick day… Okay, thank you… Yep, bye.”

With that taken care of, Ricardo let his head fall back and his hand fall to his side, where he dropped the phone on the couch. Bringing both of his hands up, he placed them on his belly and let them wander so he could get a sense of how fat he was. He had absolutely outgrown Dustin. He could feel that his belly was a great deal bigger than Dustin’s was. Squeezing it on the sides, it felt quite squishy and soft. Yet when he stopped pressing against his belly, it spread out again with enough inertia to push his hands aside.

With a grunt, Ricardo let himself fall sideway, knowing he wouldn’t be able to get up if he tried to lean forward. Moving his body along the cushion, he was able to bring himself to a position where he was bent over his thighs, which made pushing himself up into a sitting position easier. Of course, his belly did most of the pushing for him, forcing him up as it rolled over his legs. Once he was sitting up, he inched forward until he was mostly off the couch, his center of gravity now over his feet, and pushed himself up.

Once Ricardo was upright, he spread his legs to help his balance and wobbled a bit until he found it. With such a big belly now hanging from him, he was forced to lean back in order to account for the extra weight. With careful movements, he waddled to his bedroom, his arms sticking out as if to avoid touching his belly.

Once he’d gotten to his bedroom, he sat down on the chair in front of his computer. The creak it let out had him worried, but it managed to hold up under his new weight. He grabbed the mouse with his right hand, and rubbed his belly absentmindedly with his left, feeling just how much heftier it was. He then typed in “big and tall clothing same day delivery”.

As Ricardo drove to the zoo the next day, he was trying to count his blessings. He’d managed to get clothes delivered to him the day before, although the shipping had cost him an arm and a leg. And they even fit him decently well, even though he didn’t know his new sizes before buying them. On top of that, that weekend gorge seemed to have cured him of any desire he had to eat more of the wolf treats. They were completely unappealing to him now.

But the thought of going into work now that he was two or three times heavier than he was the week before? Try as he might, he couldn’t find a way to put a positive spin on that. At best, he’d have to find a way to explain to his coworkers how he’d gained so much weight in one weekend, and hadn’t burst in the process. At worst, they wouldn’t believe it was him. And either way, his vest was way too small for him.

Ricardo let out a sigh as he pulled his car into a parking spot outside the zoo. After staring blankly through the windshield for a while, he opened his door. Getting out with all his new heft proved to be quite the challenge, at least if he wanted to do so without denting the car next to him. Once he was out, he closed the door, and braced for what was at least going to be an interesting day at work.

Before he could do any of his usual responsibilities, Ricardo had to see about getting a vest that would actually fit him. Maybe it would have bigger pockets, he mused, still trying to be positive. Either way, he made his way to the offices first, to inquire about getting a new one.

To Ricardo’s surprise, no one stopped him as he made his way to the office, either to ask him what happened or whether he was supposed to be there. The first one didn’t surprise him much, since he was unrecognizable from the frame that he had on Friday. As for the second one, he supposed the badge on his belt line gave him enough legitimacy at a passing glance, as long as no one looked too closely at the photo on it.

Once Ricardo reached the office, he walked up to the person working the front desk, a different receptionist than the one who’d helped him carry the treats to his car. “Good morning,” he said.

“Morning,” Ricardo replies hesitantly. “So, as you can see, this vest doesn’t really fit me anymore. I was wondering if I could get a new one.”

“Oh yeah, we can absolutely get a bigger one for you. I wish you’d come in and asked for one earlier so you didn’t have to be wearing that tiny one. How long have you been wearing that one?”

“Since I started here,” Ricardo said. It wasn’t a lie.

“Well, whether that vest shrunk or you, um… either way, let’s get you a new one. Can I see your Central Zoo badge?”

“Oh, uh, s-sure,” Ricardo stammered. “Although the photo hasn’t been updated since… since this vest fit, so…”

“That’s fine,” the receptionist said, before extending his left hand out while still looking at the computer screen.

Ricardo’s shaky hands undid the clasp of the badge and removed it from his belt line. After he handed it to the receptionist, he looked at the badge, then looked up at Ricardo with an expression Ricardo couldn’t quite read. He looked down at the badge again, and Ricardo feared the worst.

“Ricardo? Is that you?” Vance asked as he walked toward the desk.

“I’m surprised you recognized me.”

“Well, your voice tipped me off, but… well, are you feeling better than yesterday?”

“You could say that.”

With a nod, Vance’s eyebrows lowered and a small smile spread across his face. “Well, I overheard that you need a bigger vest. I think I might have one in storage that I could give you now. Also, we should get you set up with a new badge. Victor, please arrange that for Ricardo here.”

“Of course,” the receptionist said.

“Wait right here, Ricardo,” Vance said before walking back into the offices. Ricardo did as instructed, standing around awkwardly as he looked around at what little there was to see in the offices. Vance had reacted to his new size a lot better than he expected, and he wasn’t sure what to make of that.

When Vance returned, he held a vest that looked like it would be comically large on him. Once he reached the front desk, he said, “Try this on.”

Ricardo struggled to get out of his vest, but once it was off, he placed it on the receptionist’s desk and took the one Vance held. Slipping his arms through the holes, he found it much easier to put on. And though it wasn’t quite as baggy as his old vest had been when he first joined, it certainly fit a lot more comfortably than his old vest did now.

“I think that should do until we can get you a new one.”

“A new one?”

“Well yeah. It needs to have your name embroidered on it.”

Looking down at his chest, Ricardo saw that the spot where the names were usually embroidered was empty, with just holes where the thread had been. “Ah.”

“Yeah, I had to use some scissors in my office to cut the thread off.”

“Whose was it before?”

“Dustin,” Vance said with a bittersweet smile. “Seems appropriate: first you take on the skills he teaches you, then you take on his vest.”

“Yeah,” Ricardo agreed quietly.

After perking up a bit, Vance continued, “Plus, we try to give our employees vests that are looser than that. Makes it more comfortable.”

“I suppose it could be a bit baggier.”

“Yeah. Plus, it would give you room to grow if you need it.”

Ricardo looked up at Vance with his eyebrows raised.

“Or not,” Vance said, before turning to walk back to his office.

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