Contains: general fatness, direct encouraging, and intimacy
This story was inspired by the 50’s sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet, which is also where I got the title from. As with It Fattens, I haven’t actually seen the movie that inspired this story. Rather, it was a YouTube video about the movie that inspired me to write this story. In this case, it was the Brows Held High video about it, which examined the movie as a Shakespeare adaptation. (Brows Held High is a great series, by the way. If you’re looking for an entry point, I recommend his video on “bi lighting”.) My idea was to do a gaining version of the story, with a different ending that better fits my version of the story. I hope you enjoy it!
Synopsis: Captain Roger Dorian and his crew of two pilots are traveling the stars in a rescue mission, looking for the doctor Joshua Marshal, who went missing on what was supposed to be a solo trip to a lab, after losing communication with Command. When they land on the planet he crashed on, they find him in an underground lab, where he’s researching synthesizing food. They also find a fat friend of his, Evan, walking around naked and enjoying plenty of the synthesized food. Both pilots have their own fun with Evan, Roger can’t shake the feeling that something fishy is happening…
“Captain Dorian, do you copy?”
“Loud and clear, Command,” Roger Dorian said as he sat in the cockpit of the spaceship.
“Good. You should be approaching Delta-23B7G.”
“It’s in our sights,” Roger confirmed as he looked through the windows, eyeing the blue and orange planet in front of them.
“Excellent. Now, the purpose of your mission is to try to discover what happened to nutritional researcher Doctor Joshua Marshal—“
“—who was flying a research vessel solo through this quadrant before losing communications with the Interstellar Activities Command Agency. I read the mission briefing,” Roger said with a hint of indignation in his voice. “What I’m wondering is, why are we being sent to look for him? Marshal disappeared two months ago. Hasn’t a mission already been sent?”
“A mission was sent to Delta-23B4Q, yes, because we believed he’d crashed there. But some new evidence indicates he might have landed on 23B7G instead. It’s in the star Delta-23B4’s habitable zone, for one. Speaking of which, keep your wits about you. We can’t rule out the possibility that Delta-23B7G might host hostile life forms.”
“Will do, Command.”
“Keep us posted. Command out.”
After the communications closed, Roger walked between the two pilots who were joining him for this mission. He’d never flown with either of them before, and though Don seemed more seasoned than Jason, he wasn’t sure how much he could trust either. “You two have any combat experience?”
“We both have over 1,000 hours of combat training,” Don replied confidently, prompting Jason to look at Roger with a smile and nod.
Letting out the quietest sigh he could, Roger said, “Let’s hope we don’t have to put it to use.”
“Agreed,” Jason said. “A peaceful resolution is always preferable to a violent one.” It wasn’t what Roger had meant, but he wasn’t about to tell Jason that he was wrong.
“Scanner readings are coming in from the planet’s surface,” Don said. “There’s a high concentration of non-native metal. Perhaps a certain scientist’s crashed spaceship.”
“Seems promising. Plot coordinates for a surface landing and let’s check it out.”
The rest of their trip passed uneventfully as the three touched down on Delta-23B7G. Standing up after a smooth landing, Roger was at least happy to know that the two were up to snuff as pilots. He felt even more relieved when Don started the standard outside conditions check without having to be told.
“Temperature readings… habitable. Atmospheric composition… compatible. Climate stability… calm. Simulated human immune response to local microbial population… successful. Looks like this Joshua fella picked a pretty good planet to crash on.”
“One generally doesn’t pick which planet they make a crash landing on,” Roger said sternly. But as he looked out the window, he soon forgot about Don’s snarky comment as he beheld a small research vessel ahead of them. It looked a bit beat up, but it was parked like it had made a safe landing “That has to be it.”
“It barely has a scratch on it,” Don said.
“Maybe it wasn’t technical failure that forced him to land. Let’s investigate.” As Roger gave the order, he pulled open the compartment that contained their combination battle armor and environmental suits.
“What are the suits for, Captain?” Jason asked. “Sounds like we’ll be able to breathe the air here just fine.”
“You heard Command. We can’t rule out the possibility of hostile life forms. Do you want to be wearing just that jump suit when something jumps out and claws as your throat?”
“Might do worse,” Don agreed as he suited himself up.
Jason followed suit and geared up. “Should we bring our rifles?”
“Keep it on your back in case you need it,” Roger instructed. “But keep your blaster handy, just in case.”
Once the three were ready, they stood in the circle in the center of their ship, the location of the surface contact elevator. Roger pressed a button on his wrist pad, and a glass cylinder came up through the floor to surround them. Soon the air around them was sucked out, conserved for later use in the cabin, and the three were disinfected to avoid forward contamination of the planet’s surface. “See?” Roger said through their intercom. “This would be a much less pleasant experience if you weren’t wearing armor.”
“We could have just turned that part off,” Don said. “Put the elevator in Earth mode.”
Roger shot Don a glare before the three were lowered out of the ship and onto the planet’s surface.
As they stepped off of the elevator, the three kicked up a fair amount of dust as they stepped onto the planet’s surface. It seemed that aside from Doctor Marshal’s landing, the planet hadn’t seen much activity of any kind in a long time. Up ahead, the three could see a crater-like pattern around where the Doctor’s ship had landed, likely from the thrusters pushing dust out of the way. After a quick walk, the three were walking around the ship, trying to find any clues as to why the Doctor had landed.
“Looks like it won’t open for us without the Doctor’s security credentials,” Jason said.
“Strange,” Roger muttered to himself. “There doesn’t seem to be any external damage of any kind. What would force him to land?”
“Perhaps equipment failure,” Jason suggested. “Depending on what failed, it could certainly force an emergency landing, and might not be visible from the outside.”
“Maybe we could ask him ourselves,” Don said.
“And how do you propose we do that?” Roger asked snarkily into the intercom, unable to give Don an unamused look, as he was on the other side of the ship.
“There are footprints here leading away from the ship,” Don answered flatly.
After rushing around the ship to join the other two, Roger was surprised to find there were indeed footprints leading away from the abandoned ship. “Boy, this planet really doesn’t see a lot of activity,” Jason said. “These look like they were left here today.”
“I’m more concerned why there are two sets of tracks leading away from the ship, with none coming toward it,” Roger said. “Marshal was supposedly traveling alone.”
“Well, let’s follow them,” Don said. “We won’t get any answers standing around like this.”
“True, but stay alert. We can’t rule out the possibility that this is a trap.” Roger ignored Don’s sigh as the three walked along the pair of trails, leaving their own larger footprints as the walked along in their armor.
There wasn’t much detail dotting the landscape of Delta-23B7G. A few boulders here and there, some taller than the crew themselves. But as far as they could see, it seemed to be a barren, desert-like landscape. That was, until they followed the footprints around a rather large rock mound and found that they lead to a door in its side.
“Well this is unexpected,” Jason said.
“I think we’ve found him,” Roger said.
The door was embedded in a cave of sorts, which was very clearly not a natural cave. In addition to the planet not seeming to have any erosive processes that could make such an opening, it was perfectly circular. Some kind of tool had been used to carved the cave, making an approximately three-meter-wide tunnel.
“But why would he add a door?” Jason asked. “What’s he trying to keep out?”
“Maybe those hostile life forms that this planet might have,” Don snickered.
“Maybe he didn’t want to be found,” Roger said. It was a sobering thought, as the other two said nothing in response. “His ship seems to be in perfect condition. Why didn’t he radio for help? Why did he have the technology to burrow into this rock and set up a door?”
Stepping ahead, Don placed his hand in front of the door’s digital panel. After it scanned him, the panels moved to the side, opening the entrance for the three men. “Doubt it. Else he would have set up some security.”
“Or he didn’t think anyone would find him,” Roger guessed. “Come on,” he said, walking ahead of the two with his hand close to the blaster pistol at his side.
After walking through an entryway that took them down a few flights of stairs, the three found themselves in an underground facility of impressive make. There was a small garden in the room they’d entered, with an artificial waterfall and a stream running through it. The planets were varied and bright, rivaling the gardens back on earth. On either side of the room were two doors, themselves both closed.
“This doesn’t seem like some kind of ad hoc shelter,” Jason said.
“Doctor Marshal!” Roger called out through his suit’s speaker. “Are you here?”
The door on the right opened, though the three men didn’t see anyone behind it. “Who are you?” a voice called out.
“We were sent by the Interstellar Activities Command Agency to look for you. To rescue you.”
“I’m surprised IACA even noticed I was gone,” the voice called out. “If this is a rescue mission, then why do you have laser weapons and combat armor?”
“We didn’t know what we’d encounter here. We mean you no harm, Doctor.”
A slim figure slinked out from behind the door frame, blaser pistol held close. “So… you come in peace?”
“Is there a reason for us not to?” Roger asked.
“Oh, no,” the doctor chuckled before putting his pistol back in the holster that wrapped around the waist of his lab coat. “Please, forgive me for being so jittery. I get a bit tense here working on my own.” He walked up to the three as he said, “You know, you really don’t have to be in those suits. The air here is perfectly safe for human respiration. I’ve been breathing it myself for two months without a problem.”
“Yes, we know,” Roger said sternly.
“Joshua,” Don said. “Why didn’t you radio Command to let them know you’re fine?”
“Oh, I’m afraid the communications unit of my ship was damaged during landing. I’ve been meaning to get around to fixing it, but I’ve been so involved in my research.”
“And what about this lab?” Roger asked.
“Ah yes, I’ve been working in this lab to study the planet’s composition, and how the materials here might help accelerate the manufacture of foods. Stuff that could end hunger across the galaxy!”
“And you didn’t tell Command about it?” Jason asked.
“Well, my research must stay classified until I have something I can show them. Don’t want to make promises I can’t keep.”
“I mean, you didn’t tell them you had a lab here?”
“Why, of course I did!” Joshua exclaimed.
“They said you were bound for Delta-23B4Q,” Roger said.
“Did they? Because I know I told them I was heading here. Must have been a miscommunication. 23B4Q and 23B7G are so close, after all.”
“Josh, who’s there?” a voice asked from behind the other door. “You didn’t tell me we were having visitors.” The door opened to reveal a man who was totally naked, and much fatter than any of the other men there. His round belly hung nearly low enough to cover his penis, which had been partially swallowed by his fat pad. He was mostly smooth all over, his body hair barely thick enough to be noticed. His limbs were flabby, though a modest amount of definition indicated some kind of musculature. And his face was even rounder than his belly, clean-shaven and with short hair.
Upon opening the door, the man’s eyelids and eyebrows rose as he beheld the three men in their suits. His expression looked a bit naïve, certainly not ready for the combat he might have presumed the suits were for. His mouth hung open as his eyes darted back and forth between the crew and the doctor.
“I, uh…” Joshua stammered. “Didn’t know we’d be having visitors.”
“And we were told you were traveling alone when Command lost contact with you,” Roger said gravely. “Who is he?” he asked as he looked at Joshua. “And no lies this time.”
“I…” With a sigh, Joshua hung his head. “Alright. This is my friend Evan. He came with me on the trip. I was supposed to travel 23B4Q, but if I’d done that, I couldn’t have taken him along.”
“And why did you take him along?”
“He’s always wanted to travel the stars! But he’s a civilian. He might have never gotten the chance to. Unless I snuck him aboard my flight and brought him here.”
“Am I in trouble?” Evan asked, nervously tapping his thick fingers against each other in front of his face, as his flabby arms hovered in front of his ample chest.
“What we’re more concerned about is making sure you’re okay,” Roger said.
“Yeah, why is he naked?” Don asked.
“Oh, I like being naked!” Evan interjected. “And since I’m more well-insulated than Joshua, this way he can keep the heat in here at a temperature we both like.”
“‘Well-insulated’?” Jason asked.
With no shame or hesitation, Evan patted the side of his belly, causing ripples to travel across the soft flab. “Fat,” he clarified with a chuckle.
“Should have guessed,” Jason mumbled.
“Be that as it may,” Roger said, giving Don another glare before he turned back to Joshua. “It’s dangerous for you two to be here without any way to contact Command. Does the lab not have any interstellar communication equipment?”
“I’m afraid not. I’ve been able to reconfigure the lab to provide functional living and research spaces, but not a comm setup.”
“Oh yes. You think I built this lab by myself?” Joshua said with a chuckle. “I detected some weak signals from the area on one of my trips, came to investigate on my own time when I discovered the planet was habitable, and found this facility. From there, it was a matter of fixing a few things, and voila! I’m not sure why the previous inhabitants left, or even who they were. All the research equipment’s memory had been completely wiped when I found this place. But it was still quite the find!”
“So you came here to do research instead of going to 23B4Q?”
“What researcher doesn’t want their own laboratory?” Joshua asked with a smile. “Besides, the equipment left here used the planet’s rich minerals to synthesize food in a way unlike anything I’ve seen!”
“It’s tasty too!” Evan added.
“Most of my work here has been trying to reverse engineer the process. If I can do that, we could build it on other planets and synthesize food just as easily there. It would be a major breakthrough in ending hunger!”
“Right. Well, we’re glad to see you’re safe. But we still need to get you some functional communication equipment.”
With a sigh, Joshua said, “If you must.”
“Why the attitude?” Don asked.
“Because you’ve already disrupted my research enough.”
“Maybe we could install it in your ship, then,” Jason added.
“Oh, no,” Joshua said hesitantly. “If you must add it, it’s better to do so down here. The equipment will be safer down here.”
“Doesn’t seem like there’s much to damage it up there. Your ship was in perfect condition.”
“No, the Doctor is right,” Roger said, bringing a smile to Joshua’s face. “But the safest bet would be two communication systems: one for the lab, and one for the ship.” At that, Joshua’s smile faded. “Either way, I’m sure command will want us to stay here with you until the systems arrive.”
“I see,” Joshua said with an aggravated tone. “And how long will that take?”
“Probably about an Earth week.”
“Very well. However, I’m afraid the living quarters in this facility only have beds for me and a guest. And of course, Evan has first claim over that guest bed.”
“We can sleep on our ship,” Roger said.
“Would you mind if we took a look around?”
“If you must. Evan, could you show our… guests around? Just not in the labs, please.” Looking back at the three, Joshua elaborated, “Classified, you see.”
“Of course,” Evan said. Looking at the three, he continued, “You’ll have an easier time getting around if you get out of those suits. Don’t worry, the air is fine!” he chuckled.
After looking at each other, the three did as suggested and opened their suits. Immediately, Roger was struck by how warm in the room was. Taking in a deep breath, he could smell the flowers that made up the garden, the floral aroma a stark contrast to the sterile air they’d been breathing during their trip.
“Ah, smells so much better than compressed air,” Jason affirmed.
“You can thank my garden here for that,” Joshua boasted. “Tending to it helps me take my mind off things, although most of the care and upkeep is automated.”
“It’s quite impressive,” Roger said. He couldn’t help but enjoy all the colors, as well as the sound of the water as it ran through the artificial river. “But let’s see what else is here.”
“Yes!” Evan said with a clap, before turning around to walk through the doorway from whence he’d come. Just like the rest of him, the lobes of his butt looked round and soft, and bounced a bit as he walked. Roger wasn’t sure he’d get used to Evan’s nudity, but it was something he could put up with.
Following Evan through the door, the three found themselves in a room that seemed like a living area, with several couches surrounding a projector, as well as a table and a few chairs. On the table was a half-empty plate of spaghetti. “Sorry for the mess,” Evan apologized. “You caught me mid-meal.”
“It’s quite alright,” Roger said. “I hope it hasn’t gotten cold.”
“Oh that’s alright. I can just make another.”
“That easily?” Don asked.
“Oh yes. That’s the whole point of Josh’s research. Of course, he hasn’t told me all the specifics.” As Evan waddled toward the back of the room, Roger saw a metal machine embedded in the wall, with a sizeable space in the bottom. “Josh has been working on technology that can synthesize food for some time now. But the process usually requires some materials that are simply too scarce to make it viable. But according to him, this planet’s crust is full of them! Can I offer you anything?”
“We have rations in our ship, but thank you,” Roger answered, looking back to see a disappointed expression on Jason’s face.
“Suit yourself,” Evan said, before pulling up the machine’s user interface. With a few button presses, the machine started whirring, before something materialized in the chamber below. It was soon revealed to be a cheese burger, and a rather hefty one at that. Without hesitation, Evan picked it up and took a bite.
“Aren’t you going to finish your spaghetti first?” Don asked, with enough confusion that it almost sounded like condescension.
“Well, obviously not right now,” Evan chuckled as he took another bite. Through a mouthful of burger, he mumbled, “Probably at some point.”
Still munching on his supplementary meal, Evan took the three to another door in the room. Pointing to a third one, he said, “That’s the bathroom, if you need it,” before opening up the second door with his free hand. Inside were two beds, as Joshua had described, with dressers on either side. The decoration was minimal, much like how Roger would have expected a laboratory to look.
“This is where you both sleep?” Roger asked.
“Where I sleep, anyway. Joshua sometimes sleeps here, but he often falls asleep in his lab. It seems he never takes a break from his research.” After taking another big bite of his burger, Evan concluded, “I don’t know why. There’s all the food you could want out here.”
After strolling back into the living area, Evan sat at the table near his spaghetti, and proceeded to eat both meals in turn.
“Is… that it?” Roger asked.
“Yeah, aside from the lab, and you know what Josh said about that.”
“Doesn’t seem like much,” Don said.
With a shrug, Evan said, “It’s got everything we need. A place to sleep,” he said as he pointed to the bedroom. “Entertainment,” he said as he pointed to the projector and couch. “And food! Oh, so much food,” he enthused before taking a large bite of his burger.
“I see,” Roger said. “Well, we better head back to the ship to relay back to Command and tell them the situation. Don, you stay here and keep an eye on things.”
“Will do,” Don said, pulling out a chair and sitting at the table with Evan.
Jason followed Roger back into the garden room, where Joshua was now nowhere to be seen. “He must have gone back to his research,” Roger mused.
“Yeah. Speaking of Joshua, I was thinking, sir: maybe I should stay here with Don.”
“Well, there’s two of them, and only one of him. If there is something nefarious happening here, Don should have some backup.”
“You have a point,” Roger said, thankful that at least one of his pilots were finally thinking about risks the way he did. “Go ahead and stay here. I’ll be back once I’ve heard from command.”
After he’d contacted Command, Roger returned to the lab without his suit, reasonably sure it was safe to do so. Once he’d walked in, he took in the smell of Joshua’s garden, a welcome change of pace from the inside of their ship and the planet’s barren surface.
“You’re back,” Joshua said as he stepped out of the lab.
“Yes. I just got off the intercom with Command. They’ve ordered that we stay with you and Evan until they arrive to install a communication system on your ship and in your lab. We’ve been given permission to sleep on our ship, but we must spend our waking hours here with you.”
Joshua was visibly unhappy about the news, though he seemed to be doing his best to hide that fact. “I suppose I should be grateful for your vigilant watch.”
“Are you not?”
“It’s going to surely mean an interruption in my research. They’ll probably install it in the lab, since that’s where the most resources are. Which means I’ll have to make sure all classified materials are properly stored or otherwise hidden. That could take days.”
“You lab is that big?”
“The process is that elaborate. How long until they arrive?”
“Eight earth days.”
“At least they gave plenty of advance notice,” Joshua sighed as he rubbed his closed eyes with his palms. “I should have enough time to wrap up some tests before I have to start putting everything away.”
“I won’t keep you any longer, then,” Roger said.
“Thank you. There’s an entertainment system in the living room, if you’d like some help passing the time. Evan can help you with it. He uses it more than I do.”
“He did say as much,” Roger confirmed as he looked over to the door to the living room. Inside, he could see Evan still eating at the table. But it wasn’t spaghetti or a burger on his plate, but rather a pizza. It was big enough to feed several people, and it seemed he was eating it on his own. A wide smile spread across his round face as he ate, pushing his cheeks up higher and making them look even pudgier. “He certainly seems to enjoy eating.”
With a chuckle, Josh confirmed, “Yep. Always has for as long as I’ve known him. This was really the perfect trip for him. He never could quite satisfy his appetite on our home planet, and now, he can eat to his heart’s delight.”
“Must make for good testing for your technology too.”
“Oh yes. I suppose he must have explained that already. As easy as it is to synthesize food, I would feel a twinge of guilt if I synthesized large amounts to test this technology, only for it to go to waste. With him here, that’s not a problem.”
“Do you ever worry about him, though?”
“Oh, the synthesized food is much healthier than its standard organic counterparts. Something about the materials that are so abundant on this planet… although I’m not sure I can say much about–”
“I mean when he goes home. If he becomes accustomed to the amount he can eat here, won’t he be painfully hungry when he goes home?”
With his eyebrows raised and a flat expression on his face, Joshua was silent for a moment. “I didn’t think of that,” he said. “It is my goal to fine tune this technology to the point that it’s sustainable on any habitable planet. With a bit of luck, I might be able to send Evan home with a prototype.”
“And if you can’t?”
“I suppose we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. In the meantime, I must get back to my work.”
Joshua hurried back into the lab, locking the door behind him. Roger made his way to the living room, where he assumed Don and Jason were, since their armor was still in the lobby. He’d brought some rations with him to share with them until they could go back to the ship.
“Hey,” Roger said as he entered the room.
“Hey,” Don and Jason’s muffled voices repeated. Looking at the couches, he saw that they were eating pizza too. After closing his eyes for a moment and taking a deep breath in, Roger proceeded to tell them what he’d told Joshua. He left out the bit about the rations.
Jason usually went first when it was time for the three to get ready for bed. He liked to go to sleep a bit earlier than they did. But that night, he’d let them wash themselves and brush their teeth first, and took his time doing both. Once he was finished, he peered out of the washroom and saw that both men were in their cots. Listening carefully, he could make out Don’s rough snoring, along with Roger’s more quiet snoring. They were both asleep.
With a nod, Jason made for the elevator. He would have liked to wear his armor, as he didn’t know if he trusted the planet yet. But it would make too much noise. If he was going to make it out, he had to stay quiet. Thankfully, the elevator didn’t make much noise when lowered in Earth mode, and he touched down on the surface without issue.
Jason was surprised to see that it was still day out, though he quickly realized there was no reason for the planet to follow Earth time. As his eyes adjusted from the dim interior of the ship, he saw the elevator doors start to open. In spite of himself, Jason found himself holding his breath. He remembered Don’s report had indicated that the air was safe to breathe, but something in him was still unsure. But it was too late at that point, so he closed his eyes and took a big breath.
What immediately struck Jason was the smell of the planet. The doctor must have had some advanced climate control technology in his lab, because it didn’t smell anything like the planet’s surface. There was a dry saltiness to the smell, like a beach on earth, but without algae, or any life, for that matter. How the planet had maintained such an oxygen rich atmosphere, he wasn’t sure. But he wasn’t going to question a good thing.
Slowly, Jason stepped out of the elevator. He kept his steps in the footprints left by the armor suits, hoping his little trip wouldn’t be obvious the next day. The suits’ footprints were much bigger than his. But he hoped leaving footprints in the suits’ footprints would at least be less conspicuous than a whole new set of footprints next to them. Looking behind himself, he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the footprints he stepped in had barely changed at all. It seemed the suits had already displaced all the material on the surface that there was to move.
Jason followed the footprints to the doctor’s ship, then continued in their path. After a tense stroll across the landscape, he finally reached the rock where the doctor’s facility was located. Placing his hand on the digital panel, he was relieved that it accepted his handprint. Once the door was open, he stepped inside.
The lights had been dimmed inside the lab, likely to simulate the day-night cycle of earth. But there was enough ambient lighting for Jason to make his way through the garden and to the living room.
Inside, true to his word, Evan was waiting, sitting on one of the couches as something played on the screen. His ample belly spilled over his legs and beyond his sides. After turning his head to the side, he yelled out, “Hey, you made it!”
Jason tensed his shoulders. “Shouldn’t we be quiet?” he whispered. “What if Joshua hears us?”
“Oh, he hasn’t been out of his lab yet, so he probably fell asleep in there. And when he falls asleep in the lab, no amount of noise out here will wake him up. I think the walls are soundproof.”
“So you’re sure he won’t catch us out here?”
“As sure as I can be.”
“Alright,” Jason said, still a bit nervous, but a smile spreading across his face as he thought about the food that was available to him now.
“What would you like?” Evan asked as he walked over to the machine, his ample rear end bouncing as he walked.
“Anything,” Jason sighed. “That pizza was the first real food I’ve had in days. Before that, it was just rations.”
“Are they at least tasty?”
“Not in the slightest,” Jason said as he walked over to join Evan by the machine. “How about a nice burger?”
“Sure thing. What would you like on it?”
Jason felt a bit overwhelmed as he looked at the screen, with so many options available to customize his burger. “Did Joshua develop this interface himself?”
“So he says. Pretty impressive, huh?” Evan asked, a smile pushing up his chubby cheeks.
“It definitely is,” Jason said, before punching in the specifics of how he wanted his burger. Once he’d accepted his selections, the burger quickly materialized in the chamber below.
After the machine made a beep, Evan reached in and handed the plate the burger was on to Jason. “All yours,” he said. Once Jason had taken his meal, Evan turned back to the machine and punched in his own meal. Soon a tray of lasagna materialized in the chamber, at a size that could have fed a whole family.
“Is that all for you?” Jason asked.
“Not if you want some,” Evan said with a smile.
“I’m all set for now.”
With their meals in hand, the two walked over to one of the couches by the projector. Sitting side-by-side, Evan queued up an Earth documentary for the two to watch as they ate. Sticking his fork right into his tray of lasagna, Evan started eating.
Jason barely watched the documentary as he ate. He had a hard time taking his eyes off Evan, who ate the lasagna with a gusto like it was his first real meal in days. He ate even more enthusiastically than Jason, who still wolfed down his burger once he tasted how delicious it was. Yet he couldn’t out-eat Evan, who rested the tray on his thick thighs as he ate. He seemed to be trying to eat over the tray, but his ample belly pushing out over his thighs as he sat made that impossible.
Jason finished his burger fairly quickly, leaving him free to watch as Evan scarfed down his lasagna. If it weren’t for the time he and Don had spent with Evan in the breakroom, he would have thought Evan hadn’t eaten all day. But he’d eaten the entire time that Don and he were there. He was always either wolfing something down or snacking mindlessly. Jason had no reason to think that Evan had stopped eating since they’d left. Even if he had, it wouldn’t have made the voracity with which he ate any less impressive.
“Man, you really like food, huh?” Jason asked, so transfixed by the sight of Evan eating that he forgot his manners.
“Mmhm,” Evan mumbled through a full mouth, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the question might be rude. After swallowing, he continued, “Which made this the perfect trip to accompany Josh on. I tell ya, getting to spend all day eating whatever I want, it’s a dream come true.”
“I can imagine,” Jason replied, not sure what else to say.
“If you want anything else, help yourself.”
“I think I’m all set,” Jason said. Food was the furthest thing from his mind as he watched Evan eat. His globular belly looked like it was swelling before his eyes.
“Suit yourself.” Evan was about halfway done with the lasagna, and was only then starting to slow down. But he seemed to enjoy it too much to consider stopping. With his eyes alternating between the documentary and his pan, he shoveled in bite after bite. It seemed nothing would stop him from finishing the family-sized dish.
And nothing did. With laborious breathing and determined grunts, Evan finished all the lasagna. After dropping his fork into the empty platter with a clink, he leaned back and let out a short sigh. “Oh that was good.”
“Must’ve been for you to eat that much.”
“Oh, that was a typical dinner for me.”
“Yeah. Usually second or third dinner, after something a bit less dense.”
After putting the platter beside him on the couch, Evan let out a few grunts, extending his arms in front of himself in a feeble attempt to get up. After trying a few times, he let himself fall back and said, “Nope, I’m done for the night.”
“Done for the night?”
“Once I can’t stand up, that’s it.”
“Does that happen often?”
“If I can help it,” Evan chuckled. “It’s definitely been happening more and more the longer I stay here. One day I might just have to plant myself on a chair near the machine.”
“So you don’t have to get up?”
“Because I won’t be able to get up,” Evan said with a smile, before rubbing the top of his hefty gut.
The way Evan had surrendered to this fate left Jason unsure what to think. He’d never encountered someone with such a mentality. And while he did wonder what might become of Evan if he suffered such a fate–if “suffered” was the right word for it–it seemed Evan would be perfectly happy with it.
“Oof,” Evan grunted as he kept rubbing the top of his belly. “Yeah. I’m not going anywhere for a while.”
Something inside Jason was excited by the way Evan had given in to his hunger, so much so that it now pinned him in place. Without thinking, he found himself reaching out toward Evan’s engorged belly. His hand crept closer until his fingertips made contact with the mound of flab.
“Mm?” Evan murmured, but he didn’t object. As Jason’s palm came to rest on Evan’s gut, he felt the warmth emanating off of it. It resisted as he sank his hand into it, but he was still able to make an impression. He squeezed a bit as he took a sharp inhalation, overwhelmed by the amount of heft in his grasp.
“What are you doing?” Evan asked.
Jason was frozen for a moment, before he pulled his hand from Evan’s belly and mumbled, “Sorry.”
“No, no, it felt nice. I just… never had anyone rub my belly before.”
“I’ve never rubbed someone’s belly either,” Jason said. “It just felt… right.”
“Yeah,” Evan concurred. “It did.” As a smile slowly spread across his face, he continued, “Do it again.”
With a smile of his own, Jason placed his hand on Evan’s belly again, less hesitantly this time. Feeling his hand come to rest on Evan’s soft, smooth flab, he took another deep inhalation. Slowly, he breathed in, taking in just how much of Evan there was to enjoy. His hand traveled from one side of Evan’s gut to the other, a lengthy journey to make, but one he enjoyed enough to make several times. Soon Evan’s eyes were closing, and his head leaned back.
“You like that?” Jason asked softly.
“Yeah,” Evan whispered, his eyelids half-closed as he looked vacantly forward.
“Good.” Jason’s back-and-forth movements were replaced by circular motions, his hand traveling around the edges of Evan’s belly. He had to lean toward Evan to reach the far side of his gut, but getting a bit closer to such a handsome man was hardly a bad thing. The realization that Evan’s belly was as wide across as Jason’s whole arm was long took his breath away almost as much as his first sight of Evan had.
As Evan’s eyes were nearly closed, Jason rubbed in wider and wider circles, until he could reach all the way to the other side of Evan’s spherical gut. Wrapping his hand around its side, he pulled on it gently, until he’d pulled Evan’s heft toward him as much as he could. Then he let go. The motion jostled Evan awake his gut sloshed side to side, like a plate of jello. He let out a few grunts as his mountainous belly came to rest, until it was still again. “Yeah, there’s a lot to move around.”
“I’ve noticed,” Jason chuckled. “Were you always this… enthusiastic of an eater?”
“I think I always wanted to be. But coming with Josh on this trip allowed me to actually do it. Food just wasn’t this plentiful on my home planet.”
“From what I’ve seen, I don’t think food is this plentiful anywhere.”
“Heh, yeah. I’m really lucky,” Evan said. As Jason kept wobbling his belly back and forth, he clasped his hands together and rested them on top of it. His arms waved back and forth a bit as his belly was shaken to and fro, something which only enhanced Jason’s enjoyment.
“So what are you going to do when you go back?”
“When you go back to your home planet, and food isn’t as plentiful.”
“Oh… I hadn’t thought of that. Josh hasn’t really given any indication of us going back any time soon. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
“You might be too fat to cross it by then,” Jason teased.
With a laugh that shook his belly, Evan said, “I think Josh’s ship can carry me back.”
Don was quick to make his escape the next night, after letting Roger and Jason get ready to sleep before him. After finding out about the night Jason and Evan had enjoyed together, he was ready for a turn. And thankfully, Evan was amenable to his ideas, even excited about trying them out. Now all he had to do was get back to the lab, and get in without Joshua catching him.
Getting out of the ship was easy. Roger slept like a rock, and Jason certainly wasn’t going to blow his cover. Once he was on the surface, he followed their footprints back to the lab, before touching the digital panel on the door. Like Jason had described, it opened for him without issue. “That doc really ought to spruce up his security,” Don whispered to himself. “But as long as he’s slacking…”
Tip-toeing his way down the stairs, Don kept his ears peeled for any signs of activity. He could hear something coming from the living room, maybe some movie that Evan was watching. Don just hoped he was watching it alone. Moving carefully, he made his way to the side of the doorway and peered inside. Joshua was nowhere to be seen, but Evan was on the couch, nude as always, snacking on what seemed to be potato chips.
After stepping inside, Don called out, “Hey.”
Looking over his shoulder, Evan replied, “Hey!” Getting up enthusiastically, he waddled his way toward Don like an excited dog. “You made it.”
“Wasn’t too hard,” Don boasted. “Your buddy didn’t put in much security outside.”
“That explains how you three were able to get in in the first place. Maybe I should talk with him about that.”
“Well, if he does put in some kind of security, we won’t be able to visit you like this.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t talk with him about it,” Evan said with a smirk. He looked up at Don with a mix of anticipation and eagerness, ready for what the night would bring.
“So,” Don said, “you still want to do this?”
Evan nodded rapidly. “I mean, I really liked Jason rubbing my belly and all that. This seems like the next step.”
“Mmhm,” Don said, feeling a bit of doubt about whether Evan was ready for what he had in mind. “I hope you understand that what Jason and you did was more… tame than what I like to do. I do wonder if this might be too intense for you.”
“If it is, we can just stop, right?” Evan asked. There was a naiveté in his voice, like he’d never been pressured to do something he didn’t want to do. Don envied that, if it were the case.
Either way, it reminded him that yes, they could tone things down if Evan wasn’t comfortable with it. They didn’t have to just stop entirely. He smiled an almost embarrassed smile at needing to be reminded of that. “Of course.”
Don took a step closer to Evan, so their midsections were touching. Evan took a sharp breath at Don’s touch, but Don was steadfast, breathing in slowly and enjoying the presence of such a gorgeous chub in front of him. Don brought his hands up to hold Evan’s belly by its sides, taking in another deep breath as he felt just how wide Evan was. “You’re a big boy, aren’t you?”
“Y-yeah?” Evan answered nervously.
“Do you not like it when I point it out?” Don asked in a more neutral voice.
“I… actually, no, I… I do like it.”
“Yeah?” Don asked. “Do you like it when I play with your big, fat belly?”
“Yeah,” Evan gasped. He wavered back and forth as Don handled his belly, his head especially, like his neck had lost its integrity.
“You love being a fat boy, don’t you?”
“You love eating and eating and eating, stuffing that round face of yours and filling your gut until you can’t move, and getting fatter and fatter because of it.”
“Then what are you waiting for?” Don whispered.
Don could feed Evan shuddering as his belly shook against his own stomach. But soon Evan was waddling away from Don as fast as he could, making his way to the food synthesizer. His shaking fingers tapped the buttons on the display, and soon a rather wide dish appeared in the space beneath. From what Don could see, it seemed to be a meat lover’s pizza with extra cheese.
“Good choice,” Don said as he sauntered over to stand behind Evan. “Plenty of calories in that,” he said before grabbing Evan’s belly by the sides. “Going to get you nice and fat,” he concluded as he jiggled Evan’s belly, coaxing some moans out of him.
“Yeah… fat,” Evan repeated, his breath heavy and his voice quaking.
With one hand still on Evan’s belly, Don reached around with his other hand to grab a slice of the pizza. The cheese stretched for a good 25 centimeters before all the strings snapped, hanging off of the side like decorations. Once the slice was free, he brought it to Evan’s mouth and shoved it in. “Nice, big bites, tubby.”
Breathing heavily, Evan dutifully did as Don told him, chomping down until half of the slice was in his mouth. Grunting and groaning, he chewed until he was finally able to swallow all the pizza, marked by a grunted gasp as his mouth opened up again. As soon as it opened up, Don shoved the slice in again, rubbing Evan’s belly a little harder to motivate him. It seemed to work, as soon enough, Evan had finished the rest of the slice. With his mouth empty again, he breathed heavily as Don worked his belly with both hands. “That was good, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Evan gasped, wavering back and forth at Don’s touch.
“Bet you can’t wait to get the other seven down, can you?”
“No,” Evan answered with a protracted moan.
“Then get to it.”
Moving slowly as he still wavered at Don’s touch, Evan reached out to take another slice of pizza. Once he’d brought it back to his mouth, he shoved it in just as forcefully as Don had, never taking the slice away from his mouth. With Don’s hands rubbing and caressing his belly, he seemed intent on getting that pizza down as fast as possible, not even giving himself a break from it. He grunted his way through the slice, chewing so loudly that Don could hear it, until he finished the whole thing.
And then he did it again, and again, and again. Don already knew that Evan was an enthusiastic eater. It was not an exaggeration to say he was always eating when the crew was there during the day. But there was something different now. This wasn’t the relaxed eating that Don was used to seeing, where he savored every bite like food was the most exquisite experience life could offer. This was an urgent eating, like food was going away and he to get in as much as he could. He was like a large mammal eating for hibernation, but his hibernation would only last eight Earth hours, and then he’d be back to eating again.
And Don loved every minute of it. As he massaged and squeezed the sides of Evan’s belly, he swore he could feel the growing mound of food in his stomach pushing back against his hands every time Evan swallowed. His stomach was so weighty and wide in his hands, a testament to his gluttony and ravenous appetite. He had the makings of a gainer long before the crew had landed. He just needed someone like Don to bring it out of him. And now that he had, Evan was unstoppable, wolfing down every slice of pizza until they were all gone.
“Atta’boy,” Don whispered in Evan’s ear. He could feel Evan leaning back in ecstasy against him. “Wasn’t that delicious?”
“Yeah,” Evan moaned, extended his pronunciation of the word.
“Would you like… more?”
“Always,” Evan gasped. That time, he didn’t have to be told what to do. He quickly hit some more buttons on the machine, and was rewarded for it with four bacon double cheeseburgers.
After letting out a devious chuckle, Don resumed handling Evan’s belly with an affectionate roughness. Again, Evan didn’t have to be told what to do: he reached out and picked up one of the hefty burgers, opened his mouth wide, and took a big bite.
“What a good boy you are. Eating and eating and eating. I bet you’d never stop if you could.”
“Only thing stopping me,” Evan mumbled through a mouth brimming with burger, “is the size of my stomach.”
“From how much I’ve seen you eat, I think your stomach can hold a lot more than the average person’s. You’ve really been stretching it, haven’t you?”
“Mmhm,” Evan said, before swallowing and taking another bite.
“Soon enough, this meal you’ve had so far tonight will just be a snack.”
“Mmph,” Evan moaned, leaning back against Don. The more he ate, the more he leaned back, as if all the food in his stomach were forcing him to bend back and make more room. From how his stomach was pushing out, so bulbous that Don could barely get his hands around it, it seemed a likely theory.
Don lost himself in savoring Evan’s gut. The giant ball of flab was only growing heavier, heftier, and harder as Evan kept eating, giving Don even more to enjoy. What had once been a distraction became the all-consuming focus of his attention. Don was as fixated on Evan’s bulging belly as Evan was on filling it. So it seemed to him like Evan was able to finish all four burgers in the blink of an eye.
Though Evan, it seemed, felt differently. With a lot of groaning and panting, he wavered in all directions, so full that he’d compromised his balance.
“Uh huh.” Evan gasped.
“Well let’s go sit you down, then,” Don said softly. He stayed behind Evan as Evan waddled to the couch, enjoying the feeling of his flab jiggling with each step. It took Evan a while to reach the couch, for he was walking even more slowly than usual. But soon enough, he was standing in front of one, and slowly lowered himself down. He groaned until he was finally seated, when he leaned back with his belly bulging above him.
“Mmph,” Don grunted. “What a fatty you are.” Looking toward the food synthesizer, Don said, “I’ll be right back,” and walked over to it.
Touching the display brought up a set of buttons that looked easier to navigate than Don had expected. He pressed “beverages”, then “dessert”, and right there in front of him was a “milkshake” button. “What’s your favorite flavor of milkshake?” he asked.
“Cookies ‘n’ cream. Why?”
Don merely smirked as he pressed the button for that flavor, and selected the “extra large” size. He then watched in amazement as the milkshake, as well as a paper cup, a lid, and a straw, all materialized in front of him. Don took off the lid and straw and left them in the machine, before taking the impressively tall cup and walking back to Evan.
Evan looked like a beached whale now that he’d settled into his new spot. His panting was so distracting it almost made Don forget his intention. But the cold of the milkshake in his hands brought his attention back, and he looked down at Evan with a devious grin. “I brought you something.”
“Oh, I, uh, I don’t know if I have room.”
“Don’t worry. It’ll melt around everything.”
“Promise,” Don whispered as he straddled Evan’s lap. Leaning over his massive gut with a smile, he brought the shake up to Evan’s face and started pouring it into his open mouth. Looking in from the side, Don was able to make sure that his pouring kept up with how quickly Evan was drinking the shake.
But as Evan got closer to finishing the shake, Don grew impatient. He poured the shake into Evan’s mouth faster, eager to see Evan finish it all. In turn, Evan chugged faster, as was made evident by his more frequent gulping noises. But he still couldn’t keep up, and the shake dripped down his face from either side of the cup.
“Oh, big boy making a mess,” Don teased, before easing up on the shake. With his free hand, he ran a finger up each side of Evan’s face to clean off the shake, before licking his finger clean. He had to admit, it was a good milkshake, almost enough to make him want one. But the stuffed fatty in front of him was all he needed, and more.
With the cup tilting upward, Don was satisfied with Evan’s performance. After putting it down on the table behind him, he placed both hands gently on Evan’s no doubt stuffed gut and rubbed it slowly. “Good boy.”
“Urgh,” Evan groaned. “You said it would melt around everything.”
“Did it not?”
“I can feel it,” Evan kept groaning, his arms limp at his sides.
“I didn’t say you wouldn’t. Just that you’d find room.”
Don’s explanation didn’t seem to satisfy Evan, who kept groaning as Don’s hands made slow, wide circles around his gut.
“Doesn’t it feel good?”
“Mmmm,” Don moaned. Evan was so wide that Don had to stretch to reach around his belly and take in all his girth. With his hands wrapped around Evan’s gut, he gave it a slow shake, causing Evan groan as the contents of his packed stomach were disrupted. Don couldn’t help but smile. While he had certainly helped Evan eat himself into this state, he wouldn’t have been able to do it if Evan weren’t the natural gainer he was. “Man… I can’t believe this was your first time doing this. You eat like a pro.”
“I mean, maybe it wasn’t.”
“What do you mean?” Don chuckled.
“My, uh, my memory isn’t that great. Especially anything that happened before we made this trip, it’s pretty fuzzy.”
“Really? For all the other guys I’ve done this with, this kind of thing is pretty memorable, even when it’s mediocre.”
Evan merely shrugged, as much as he could while leaning back the way he was. As his arms came to rest, a ripple traveled across his belly, unimpeded by the massive mound of food in its way.
“Has your memory always been that bad?”
“You expect me to remember that?”
With a self-effacing chuckle, Don conceded, “Good point.”
Roger walked pensively down the stairs to Joshua’s lab. He knew Jason and Don had both snuck away the previous nights, and there wasn’t anywhere else they could have reasonably gone. Why they’d gone, he didn’t know, nor did he understand why they felt like they couldn’t tell him. If they suspected something fishy was going on in the lab, as he did, why wouldn’t they share it with him? Were they trying to be lone heros? Bravado like that had gotten greater folks killed.
Either way, he kept his hand close to his blaster pistol as he walked through the garden. He peered into the living room and couldn’t see anyone inside, concluding that Joshua and Evan must have been asleep. He then crept back to the laboratory door. The digital panel appeared as he got close, and he tried putting his palm on it. Unfortunately, it didn’t open for him like the surface door had. It seemed Joshua was more careful about his experiments than he was about the compound as a whole.
Disappointed, Roger hung his head low. In doing so, he noticed the corner of a piece of paper sticking out from under the laboratory door. Perhaps it had fallen off of a table inside and slid to its current position. Bending down, Roger was able to press his fingernail onto the paper and pull it out enough for him to grab it.
After standing up, Roger flipped the paper over to read the notes on it. They were scribbled in a handwriting that bordered on chicken scratch, but he was able to make out enough of the words to figure out what was written.
Day 62. 178.1 kg.
Subject continues to spend the majority of the day eating. This is fantastic, as I was worried the hypnosis might start to wear off by now. However, this makes it hard to get an accurate weight reading when he goes to bed. The fatter he gets, the more he can eat in a day, and the more of his weight comes from the food inside of him.
If I’m going to get accurate readings for this experiment, I need a way to weigh him after he relieves himself in the morning. Perhaps I can find a way to weigh his discharge, and subtract that from the weight measured when he gets in bed at night. It might be overly complex, but my options are limited if I don’t want him to find out I’m weighing him. And I don’t. At least, not unless he becomes too fat to do anything about it.
Improvements on the food synthesis are going well. Subject continues commenting on how good the food tastes. Over the past week, he’s made an average of 14.7 such comments a day, up from 3.2 our first week here. The deliciousness of the food might be responsible for the ease with which he keeps eating.
Based on my measurements of the planet’s resources, and extrapolating how much the subject’s appetite will increase, we should have enough materials to continue synthesizing food for at least another 10 years. My hope is that the experiment won’t last that long, but we simply don’t have the data to find out. The record for the heaviest human is 680 kg, but he didn’t have the kind of care that the subject is receiving here. With that care, I truly believe he will surpass 1,000 kg. One megagram. What a sight that would be.
I still have not resolved the question of what to do at the end of this experiment. Given that the purpose is to see how fat a human body can get, it seems logical that the experiment will end in the subject’s passing once we surpass that limit. But perhaps the limit will not be lethal, but rather a ceiling that he cannot surpass.
Which will be equivalent to outcome B: we run out of resources to synthesize food. At which point, I will be forced to leave the planet. I see no way that taking the subject with me could not end in, at the very least, removal of my research license and some length of imprisonment. As such, I will be forced to leave him here. Whether it’s more ethical to euthanize him or let him starve, I have not decided. The former is a direct unethical action on my part, but the latter will inflict more suffering on the subject. After everything he’s done, I think he deserves to have his suffering minimized.
I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Roger’s nostrils flared, his eyebrows as high on his forehead as they could travel. After pressing the intercom button on his wrist display, he spoke quietly into its microphone to relay to the ship. “Don, Jason, get yourselves to the lab as quickly as you can. I have evidence that Doctor Marshal has been engaging in unethical and malicious experimentation, with intent to cause further harm. Bring your weapons, but leave the suits behind. We need to be discreet if we’re going to bring him in.”
After finishing his message, Roger heard the familiar buzz of energy based weaponry. Instinctually, he rolled away from the laboratory door, keeping the sheet of paper close to himself as he reached for his blaster pistol with his free hand.
But upon landing with the pistol aimed at the living room door, he saw that it wasn’t a weapon that had made the sound. It was a one-way energy shield, the kind that would let energy and laser rounds through it from behind, but block any coming from the front. And behind it stood Joshua, with a laser rifle that rivaled the crew’s rifles. “So, you’ve been rifling through my research notes?”
“The one you let slide under the door to your lab, yes.”
“How much do you know?”
“More than enough to bring you in on charges of unethical and malicious research practices.”
“So I’ve heard. I hope you understand why I can’t let you do that,” he said as he raised his rifle, trailing the sights on Roger.
“Why, Joshua? Why do something like this? Was Evan not your friend?”
“He was enough of a friend to be convinced to come with me on this trip. And luckily for me, he got a little flight phobia before we took off. It was easy to convince him to let me try hypnosis to quell it. From there, making him think of nothing but food and eating was a cinch.”
“But why? What value is there is finding out how fat a human can get?”
“There’s always value in knowledge.”
“Not at this cost.”
“The history of science is filled with unethical experiments that nonetheless provided valuable knowledge to their respective fields. The suffering of a few created knowledge that benefitted many. We’re researchers, not angels.”
“But why would you willingly engage in unethical experimentation?”
“I think we are calling to each other across an ideological impasse.”
“Freeze!” Roger heard Jason call out before he looked up and saw him and Don having jumped out from the stairwell, rifles drawn.
“Ah, good, you came too. Now I can tie up all the loose ends and once.”
“Command will be sending people over soon,” Roger said. “What will you do then?”
“That will give me plenty of time to make my laboratory entrance more secure, and less conspicuous.”
“But they know what you’ve done. They’ll find you.” Looking up at Jason and Don, Roger asked, “You did radio command before you came here, right?”
The blank expressions on their faces said it all.
“Fucking amateurs,” Roger grumbled.
“Then it’s settled. My little secret dies here, with you three. I hope you enjoyed your stay,” Joshua said as he lifted his rifle.
Jason and Don both fired shots at him, but the shield absorbed them, leaving Joshua unscathed. “Valiant attempt,” Joshua said as he placed the rifle against his shoulder and his eye on the scope. “But I’m afraid it’s too late for you.”
The sound of an energy round rang out from the living room, and Roger flinched, closing his eyes as he anticipated his doom. But he didn’t feel the burn of an energy round on his skin, nor did he hear Jason or Don screaming. Rather, the screams he heard came from the living room. Looking up, he saw Joshua grabbing at his arm, the clothing around it burned, and his rifle on the ground. From his angle, he could see Evan behind Joshua, holding a blaster pistol.
“Evan… why?” Joshua cried out.
“I heard everything, you piece of shit,” Evan said, walking slowly toward Joshua with his pistol trained on him. There was a sternness in his voice that was chillingly unfamiliar to the crew. “And now I remember everything too.”
“Evan, please,” Joshua gasped. “Is this not what you wanted?” he pleaded as he turned to face him. “To travel the stars. To eat however much you want. You remember what it was like before. You felt self-conscious about buying as much food as you really wanted to eat. I took that away. The judgemental glances. The self-doubt. You were living the dream.”
“This is what you wanted,” Evan sneered. “You never cared about what I wanted.”
“That’s not true!” Joshua shouted.
But it was no use: Evan let out a volley of shots, this time targeting Joshua’s legs, and bringing him to his knees. At that, Roger immediately ran forward, pulling out his multi-use cord to fashion some restraints to keep Joshua in place. With little sympathy for the man, he grabbed his hand that was pressed against his wound and tied it with his other hand behind him. A few more ties kept his legs together, and left Joshua sitting against the wall.
“Your burns are pretty bad,” Roger said. “Is there a first aid kit here?”
“It’s in the lab,” Joshua said dejectedly.
“Well that’s a problem for you, isn’t it?” Roger said. “Seeing as none of us can get in.”
“I can get you in,” Evan said. “Josh registered my handprint, in case I ever needed to get through in an emergency.”
“And you never went in? Not even out of curiosity?” Roger asked.
“Ha!” Joshua blurted out. “You really think I wouldn’t have hypnotized that curiosity out of him too?”
“You shut your mouth,” Evan said as he aimed his pistol at Joshua again.
“Evan, Evan,” Roger pleaded. “It’s okay. It’s over. You can put the weapon down.”
After a moment of hesitation, Evan slowly lowered his pistol to his side. “Come on,” he said as he walked out of the living room, kicking over the energy shield generator as he did and causing it to short.
“Jason, you go with Evan to get the first aid kit. Don, you go radio Command so they know to send enforcers.”
As his pilots did as commanded, Roger kneeled down on one leg to get a bit closer to Joshua. “You still haven’t answered my question,” he said, prompting Joshua to look up at him indignantly.
“And what question is that?”
“Why? Why do this kind of research? Did you get some kind of sick enjoyment out of it?”
“Just like you Agency types, to assume that everything you find unusual is motivated by some kind of sexual deviancy,” Joshua said, before he looked down angrily. “I’m a nutritional researcher,” he said in a more even tone. “I’ve done a lot of research on the extremes of the human condition, and how to make people healthy again when their bodies are pushed to those extremes. That research included helping people be healthy when unhealthy lifestyles lead them to gain weight, regardless of whether they subsequently lost it or not.
“But we could only research people who’d gotten to those extremes on their own,” Joshua continued. “And while we saw some very extreme cases of malnutrition, exertion, and trauma, we never saw just how much the human body could really be pushed when it comes to the upper extremes of weight. I wanted to find out.”
“Yes,” Joshua said, without even a hint of remorse in his voice.
“Don’t you think this was a bit far to go in the name of curiosity?”
“Evan was well taken care of. I used the latest advancements in my research to ensure that his vitals all stayed within healthy levels. Blood pressure, blood sugar, mobility, epidermal health. All top notch, and they would have remained so up until the end.”
“When he died,” Roger said sternly.
“We’re all going to die some day. I would have ensured he had the best last months of his life possible.”
“You really can rationalize anything, can’t you?” Roger asked disgustedly.
“If I could, I could have rationalized giving him low-quality food that tasted mediocre. I wouldn’t have gone to so many lengths to make sure he stayed healthy as he gained weight. I wouldn’t have put so much effort into making the food so delicious.”
“Bullshit. If you didn’t keep him healthy, you wouldn’t find out just how extreme of a weight the human body can handle. He would have died of complications before then. And the deliciousness of the food helped ensure he never caught on to your plan.”
Joshua stared blankly ahead, not talking for a moment. “I guess if that’s what you want to think, I can’t convince you otherwise.” Roger was unmoved, but he was a bit surprised when Joshua looked up at him with what seemed like genuine concern. “What’s going to happen to him now?”
“You’re not concerned about what’s going to happen to you now?”
“I know what’s going to happen to me now,” Joshua said resignedly. “Will he be okay?”
Roger was silent a moment, before he answered, “Command will likely classify him as a captive of interstellar crime. As such, he will be offered placement in a program that will help him re-acclimate to civilian life. It’ll help him find a job and housing, and reconnect with friends and family he lost contact with during his captivity.”
A sliver of a smile spread across Joshua’s face.
The crew kept watch on Joshua and Evan in shifts until Command’s enforcers arrived a few Earth days later. Evan mostly kept to himself, watching the entertainment system to keep himself occupied. With the hypnosis having worn off, he didn’t eat nearly as much as he used to. In fact, he sometimes had to be reminded by the crew that it was breakfast, or lunch, or dinner time, and he ought to have something to eat.
Things stayed that way until the enforcers arrived. With Evan granting them access to the lab, as well as Joshua’s own confession, they had more than enough evidence to bring Joshua in on charges of unethical, negligent, and malicious research practices, as well as abduction. They offered to take Evan with them too, but Evan had requested that he travel with Roger and his crew, as he felt more comfortable not being on the same ship as Joshua. The enforcers deemed it a reasonable request, and they took Joshua away on their own, leaving Evan and the crew in the living room of the laboratory.
It was then that Evan started sniffling. “Evan, you alright?” Roger asked.
“I don’t know,” he blubbered. “I just… I wish I’d done more to stop this. To keep your lives from being put in danger.”
“Hey, hey,” Don said as he walked up to Evan and put a hand on his shoulder. “You’ve done more than any civilian should have to. You saved our lives. You helped make sure Joshua will see justice for what he’s done.”
“Not only that,” Roger chimed in, putting his hand on Evan’s other shoulder. “If you hadn’t intervened, the technology Joshua worked on might never have been discovered by anyone else. In time, I’m sure command will send more… reputable scientists to this lab. They’ll be able to improve on his technology and bring it to other planets. I bet you a lot of galactic hunger is going to become a thing of the past thanks to this technology.”
Evan tried to smile at the two men, but it was clear from his expression that they weren’t making him feel much better.
To Roger’s surprise, Jason pushed through both of them and wrapped his arms around Evan. Evan laid his head on Jason’s shoulder, and the tears started flowing in earnest. “It’s okay,” Jason said, his hand gently stroking Evan’s shoulder. “You’ve been through a lot. This can’t be easy.” Don and Roger looked at each other and stepped back, letting Jason and Evan have their moment. It seemed Jason was the one to defer to.
Once Evan seemed to be in a better place, Roger said, “Well, I don’t think there’s any reason for any of us to stay here any longer. Um, Evan, Command sent some clothes for you with those enforcers. You don’t have to put them on now, but it would be a good idea to put them on before we get back.”
“I’ll put them on now,” Evan said, taking the bundle from Roger. Upon Evan unwrapping it, they saw that it included a tee shirt, a stretchy pair of pants, some shoes, and two pairs of underwear and socks. Most of them fit Evan just fine, but upon topping off the outfit with the tee shirt, they discovered it didn’t quite go all the way over his belly.
“Hmm. Sorry it’s not better fitted,” Roger said.
“It’s better than nothing,” Evan reasoned.
“Is there anything here you want to take with you?”
“No,” Evan said. “Josh told me this would just be a quick trip across the stars, so I didn’t think I’d need much. And since he had to sneak me on his ship, he told me to not bring anything that could be tracked. So… I really didn’t bring anything.”
“Not even clothes?” Don asked.
“They wouldn’t fit me now anyways.”
“Right… well, I think we should head out, then,” Roger said. And the four did, making their way back to the ship. As they prepared for launch, Jason and Don prepared for bed. Don’s shift watching Joshua and Evan had just ended, and Jason had been woken from his sleep to accompany the other two as Joshua was taken away. With Roger being the only one awake and alert, he volunteered to pilot the ship for the start of their journey.
Roger spent his time inspecting the ship to make sure they were ready for liftoff. When some sort of mechanical sound came from the crew’s quarters, he shouted out, “Everything alright in there?”
“Yep,” “Yep,” Jason and Don both shouted back.
Once the ship was ready for liftoff, Roger went to the back of the ship to let the crew know they’d be lifting off soon. What he found was Jason, Evan, and Don all sleeping in the same bed, seemingly the two pilots’ beds having been brought together to make one large bed. Evan lay in the middle, lying on his back with his arms behind his head. Jason and Don lay on either side of him, both lying on their sides facing him, both with a hand resting on his belly. His shirt had been lifted, so their hands were able to touch his bare belly. His gut was so big that they could both hold onto him without their hands straying to the other’s side. For the first time since their stand-off with Joshua, he looked at peace.
Roger raised his eyebrows before smiling a gentle smile. Not wanting to disturb the three, especially not Evan, he went back to the cockpit and set the ship to fly in anti-turbulence mode. Once the engines were sufficiently warmed up, he lifted them up from the surface and steered the ship to fly back to Command.