I understand chocolates. I agree in principal with flowers. I tolerate greeting cards, but I cannot fathom why anyone would want balloons for Valentine’s Day. It’s just a bag of gas. I don’t care how pretty they are; the moment my boyfriend hands me a balloon is the moment he gets thrown to the curb. I’ll tell him that when I find him.
So, it was February 13th and all the men were in the boutique buying greeting cards and balloons. Nothing says, “I love you,” like $10 worth of helium and latex.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” said one as he walked out with 20 heart-shaped balloons.
Around closing time the store was empty. I was alone, so I cleaned up and tried to go home 15 minutes early. The door opened and in walked a couple. The woman looked around as if she were being followed. I thought, ‘Please don’t come over here, please don’t come over here…’
They came over. ‘Damn it!’
“Excuse me,” the man said.
“Hal,” said the girl. “Let’s just go, please!”
“No, you’ve put this off long enough.”
“Please, Hal, it’s okay.”
“Don’t worry.” He smiled at me. “We’re looking for some helium.”
“I sell balloons, not helium.”
“Maybe this’ll change your mind.” He handed me $50. I’d sell him the entire store for $50. “Where do you want it?”
He pointed to his girlfriend’s stomach. I didn’t get it.
“In there,” he explained.
“Put it…in there.”
“Hal, please,” the girlfriend whined. “I’m embarrassed enough as it is.”
Deep down I understood that this man wanted me to pump his girlfriend full of helium. I kept asking him what he meant because I assumed he wasn’t crazy. He quickly proved me wrong.
“Sir, I think you have the wrong store.”
“Wait, please do this for us.”
“I can’t do that, they’ll throw me in jail! Also, you’re crazy!”
“Oh, forget jail! The stupid nanny-state is just worried some kid will inflate themselves and float away outside. That’s impossible.”
“I’m not doing it.”
“I’ll give you $100.”
“Hal, can we please go.”
“Gretchen, let me handle this!” The man took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He looked me in the eye and begged me to inflate his girlfriend.
“Gretchen and I…we’ve been through so much. We met at a Con and we barely escaped the police that time. We’re just trying to…to have crazy inflation sex, but we don’t want to go to jail for it. All we need it a little helium, and if we don’t do it now we’re never going to get another chance.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because tomorrow we both have to work. We couldn’t take the day off, and if we don’t do it now we’re going to go crazy. Please, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. It’s either this or I get another bunch of balloons and we’ll have to pretend.”
That I could not abide. Besides I didn’t want to stay at work much longer. “I’ll do it.”
“And you’ll give me the $100 too?”
I let the two walk behind the counter. We spent an awkward moment staring at each other until Hal broke the ice. “The hose goes in her belly button.”
“Oh, of course…”
Gretchen lifted her shirt. She was a small, girlish woman with a little, doughy bely. I stuck the hose into her navel. Hal held her hand. “Everything’s going to be alright.”
“I know,” she said, kissing him. I was starting to turn red. Slowly I turned the valve.
With a little squeak led to a faint hiss, Gretchen’s belly inflated immediately. “Should I stop?
“No!” she groaned, holding her stomach.
“Are you alright?” I asked.
“I feel amazing!”
Her tummy lost its doughy softness and tightened like a basketball, like she was pregnant. Her whole torso widened like a barrel. The swelling quickly moved to her waist, then her chest, and then her butt. I could see her boobs pushing her bra against the inside of her sweater. With more helium they bulged around the cups. Her face turned round and her limbs got thicker.
I closed the valve. Gretchen looked like a fat blowup doll.
“Thank you,” said Hal. He pressed a two fifties into my hand and grabbed his wife. “Let’s go!”
“Whoa there!” she said. She could barely walk. She was so swollen that her joints were too stiff to move. She wasn’t in pain, her legs were just too thick to bend properly.
Hal lifted her like she was made of Styrofoam. Gretchen floated up and landed on one foot like a ballerina. He pulled her close and kissed her. Her skin squeaked as she laughed. I was too embarrassed to watch anymore.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” they said, their eyes gleaming in the moonlight. I went home that night with a lot on my mind. Perhaps I had seen too much. Lying in bed, I thought about Hal humping his girl like a rubber raft, and Gretchen squeaking like a chew toy.
I went back to work; it was Valentine’s Day. Every time I filled a balloon order I saw Hal and Gretchen getting nasty in my mind. I was shaken out of my daze when a man walked up to me carrying a box of heart-shaped lollipops. “Good morning,” he said. He was a big man wearing a graphite suit with a silver-colored tie.
“Good morning,” I said. “That’ll be one dollar.”
“I’m also looking for some balloons.”
I sighed. “What kind?”
“Big ones, like the size of my wife.” The woman next to him nodded. She was wearing a high-collared dress like a Victorian school teacher. Both of them stared at me. I knew what was coming, but I tried to play it cool.
“That depends upon the size of your wife,” I said.
“Oh, she’s big enough but she could always be bigger.”
I looked at her. She hadn’t so much as opened her mouth, but she turned to her husband, who nodded.
“Yes!” she said.
“I’m sorry, it’s too early in the day. Come back at closing time.”
“I’m sorry, but we’ve taken a lot of time off to arrange this and we’d really like to get our time’s worth. Tonight is just too little time.”
“Well, I can’t do this out in the open.”
“We’ll take a back room.”
“This isn’t a hotel,” I snapped. “Besides, what are you going to do when we’re finished?”
“I’ll park the car in back. I’ll put her in there when we’re done.”
Suddenly the door opened. In walked two men. “Excuse me, is this the place Hal came in last night?”
“You guys know Hal?” said the big man.
“Yeah, we just saw his post on the forum. Are you TheMarquis?”
“Yeah, who are you on the forum?”
“Oh my God, nice to meet you, man! Is this your husband?”
“Almost!” he laughed. “We drove all the way from Pennsylvania to get here”
“All night? Oh my God!”
I looked at the wife. “What’s going on here?”
She only grinned at me.
The Marquis said, “Man, I wish we could hang out today, but my wife and I…”
“Ugh, I know! I mean, we could double, but that would probably be weird.”
“I’m for it!” said the wife. The Marquis glared at her and she shrank back like a bunny.
Suddenly the bell rang again and a man walked in with a young girl. “My daughter needs inflation now!”
We all stared.
“No, no! It’s not what you think.”
“Dad, you’re embarrassing me!”
“Everybody, please!” I said. “You’re going to scare away the customers.”
They looked around. “What customers?”
“I mean, if my boss comes back and finds all of us yelling, I’m going to get fired.”
“What about us?” asked the Marquis. “We could get arrested.”
Molarity added, “We came so far already.”
“I need to be inflated!” said the young girl.
The bell rang. In walked another couple. “Is this the place that Hal talked about?”
“Wait your turn!” everyone shouted.
I just wanted them gone. “If I do this, will you all just leave?” They all agreed. I’d get some bucks out of the deal, but this was more than I cared to do on a work day.
Molarity and his boyfriend wanted only a small inflation. “Just make us look pregnant,” he said. I didn’t ask any questions. I stuck the hose in his boyfriend’s navel and opened the valve.
“Whoa, too much!” His belly got as big as a basketball very quickly. I tried to turn it down but he kept expandin.
Molarity hugged him from behind and put his hands on the expanding stomach. “You’re going to make a great daddy,” he whispered.
“Okay,” he trembled. “…but that’s enough, now.”
“I’m sorry!” I said. “I’m closing it!”
“No! I don’t want to have twins…” Suddenly he was the size of a yoga ball. “…or triplets! Stop it!”
“I’m trying! I asked the Marquis were trying to close the valve as much as we could. Slowly, it was closing.
Molarity gasped. “Look at ‘em blow up!”
Boyfriend’s body was getting more toned. His biceps inflated, his quads swelled, and his butt strained the seat of his jeans. I finally shut the valve. Molarity was stunned.
“Look how buff you are!” He squeezed Boyfriend’s arm and it squeaked like an inner tube. It wasn’t muscle: he was just full of air. “I love it!”
“It’s…kind of hard to move.”
Molarity shoved his boyfriend so hard that he bounced him off the ground. “Ha! Now I can push you around!”
“Hey, stop that!”
“That face!” Molarity gasped. “You look so cute with that face I can’t stand it!”
“Calm down,” I muttered. “It’s your turn.” I plugged him in and blew up his belly. Soon his belly was as big and tight as Boyfriend’s was. Molarity waddled around the boutique, chasing after his boyfriend, and meanwhile, the Marquis took his wife’s hand.
“It’s my turn,” he said.
“Slave, take off your dress.”
It was, as I mentioned, an old-fashioned dress with a high collar, but it was deep red with matching heels. It was odd, but nowhere near as odd as what was underneath.
We all watched her undo the buttons in the back, and when she loosened her collar the whole dress fell, exposing a suit of latex that shone like a black mirror. She had metal rings through her nipples, in her navel, through her labia, and in her ears, and laced through all of these, except through the ears, was a length of golden chain. The Marquis removed the chain so that it wouldn’t get in the way as I stuck the hose in her bellybutton. Her waist was whisper thin.
“Do you know what you did?” he asked. He was talking to his wife.
She nodded, but the Marquis was not satisfied. “Speak! What was it?”
“I…I don’t remember.”
“Guys, tone it down,” said the father. “You’re scaring my little girl.”
“N-no they’re not!” the girl trembled.
“Relax,” said the Marquis, “It’s play-time. You understand, don’t you, honey? It’s make-believe.”
“I’m sixteen,” she said. “Not six.”
The Marquis looked at the father. “She’s a load of fun.”
“She gets it from her mother.”
“Let’s keep this thing moving,” I said.
The Marquis told his wife, “You lied to me, and that means you’re going to be extra-big.”
“Silence!” He turned to me and said, “Turn on the gas.”
In an instant the Wife’s whisper-thin wait turned inside out. Her belly grew so big that I could see my whole body reflected in her latex cat-suit. She didn’t say anything, she just whimpered. Tears streamed down her cheeks and dripped onto her expanding body.
“That’s it,” said the Marquis. “Cry, you little baby. Cry…”
The second couple was standing nearby, watching intently. They seemed to be having second thoughts about the whole inflation idea as they watched the Wife grow to the size of a refrigerator.
Soon she was bawling, her legs getting shorter and shorter until her crotch touched the floor. Her arms disappeared inside of her. Her hands flapped like flippers. She was a perfect sphere of shiny latex. Tears were still flowing down her sides, forming a puddle at the bottom. Soon, I had to stop filling her up because the whole thing felt pretty awkward, but The Marquis was ecstatic.
“I forgive you! I forgive you so much!” He tried the chain back around her nipple rings, and everyone else just quietly stood aside and let them walk through. The Wife was still crying, and The Marquis bathed in her tears.The father eyed the couple warily and brought his daughter closer.
“Can she go next?”
I said, “I don’t care,” I pointed to the other couple. “You guys care?”
“No, by all means…”
Before I could plug her in, she reached into her purse and pulled out a bathroom scale. She stood on it and said, “Let’s go, come on!”
I didn’t really get it, but at this point I didn’t care. The boss wasn’t back yet and I was halfway done. I plugged the hose into her pudgy belly. It got even pudgier very quickly, but she was constantly looking down at the scale. ‘If she’s doing what I think she’s doing…’
“Daddy, I lost a pound!”
“That’s great, pumpkin.”
“Oh God…” The more and more helium that went inside her body, the lighter she got. Her belly was five feet wide before she lost four pounds, but she was elated. “Daddy, I’m losing weight even faster now! I’m almost ready for the Valentines’ Dance.”
Molarity said, “But kiddo, you’re still getting fat—“
“Shh!” said Dad.
She was getting wider and wider every second. She couldn’t bend over because her waist was thicker than a trash barrel. Even if she could bend, she wouldn’t have seen the scale past her six-foot belly. “Dad, can you see the scale?”
“Yeah, it looks like you already lost twenty pounds, sweetheart.”
“Yay! Thank you so much.”
The girl’s face was getting bigger, her cheeks swelling into softballs and her head sinking into her neck. Her arms were blimps, her legs were cones, and her clothes were so tight that they looked like a second skin.
The scale ticked backwards to 120 pounds, then 100 pounds, then 70. “Okay,” he said. “That’s enough, Lindsey.”
“No, wait! I want to lose it all.”
“Okay, just make sure you don’t pop.”
“I feel fine, Dad.” The scale had ticked down to 50 pounds. “I’m as light as a…uh, what’s something really light?”
Her skin stretched and her arms shrank. Lindsey’s shoulders were up to her ears. She was squeaking and shuddering; the pressure was building inside of her. Lindsey’s arms were part of her body. The scale ticked down to five pounds, then two. “I don’t feel so good.”
“Lindsey, that’s enough!”
That’s when she floated off the ground. Quickly I turned the valve, trying to keep her from taking off, but Lindsey floated off the scale and towards the ceiling. “I’m flying, Daddy!”
“Honey, be careful!”
I handed him some ribbons to tie her up before she floated away. “That’s almost everyone.” I turned to the final couple and asked, “Which one of you is getting blown up next?”
“Neither,” said the woman.
“Great,” I said. “Goodbye everyone—“
“…because you’re all under arrest.”
Everybody froze. The officers pulled out their handcuffs. ”You’re all under arrest for public indecency, and you,” she said, pointing to me, “You’re under arrest for inflating a minor, aiding in conspiracy to inflate, and inflating without a license.”
I said, “You need a license to inflate people?”
“Now, just a minute,” said Dad. “No one’s arresting my little girl. Can’t we just talk this over?”
“Why don’t you talk it over with the judge, creep?” When the male officer moved to cuff, Daddy, The Marquis stepped in his way.
“What did you call him?”
Before I realized it, Daddy and The Marquis jumped the policemen and pushed them back. “Run!” Daddy said.
The Marquis shouted, “You know how! Get everyone away from here!” He wrestled the man to the ground and pinned him to the floor. Daddy had the woman in his arms, stopping her from grabbing her stun gun. “Get Lindsey out of here!”
We ran for the storage space. Molarity and Boyfriend rolled the Wife into the supply room, then we all squeezed Lindsey through the door and locked it. “Is there any helium back here?” they asked.
“In the corner: that’s where we keep the spare tanks.”
“Perfect,” said Molarity. “Fill us up. I’m not going to prison for this bullshit.”
His boyfriend said, “I really don’t think running is a good idea.”
“Too bad!” Molarity opened the back door and shoved Lindsey outside. The round girl floated into the sky.
“Whee!” she squealed. “Bye-bye, gay guys!”
I was freaking out, but suddenly, the Wife spoke up.
“We’re going to be thrown in jail for this. My husband—my master—he bought us this time. He would want us to get out of here while we have the chance.”
“Fine!” I shouted. We shoved the Wife out the door and I plunged the hose into her belly button. She was already a sphere, so it didn’t take much air for her to get airborne. She didn’t cry, and she didn’t weep. She just flew into the sky as sirens began blaring around us.
“Your turn, Jackson.”
“Honey, no!” Boyfriend had no choice. His arms were too weak from being inflated. I plunged the hose into his belly button and turned up the gas at full blast. His muscles blew up. He stood with his arms out to his side like a blow-up doll. His chest grew and his pecks swelled, but he was as soft and hollow as a rubber raft. He grew to eight times his normal size before he lifted off the ground.
“Hurry, I need to hold onto him!” Molarity begged. I inflated his belly to the size of a small car, big enough to carry dodecatuptlets. He ascended into the heavens with his arms wrapped around his boyfriend. I was alone. The sirens were getting nearer.
I could hear people shouting on the other side of the store, but I hesitated to stick the hose into my own belly-button. I had no idea why, but then saw a police officer run around the corner, gun drawn. I panicked and shoved the hose right into my belly.
“What are you doing?”
By that time I had opened the valve wide open and pulled the handle off.
The feeling was one of emptiness. Inside my belly I had this great big space and it was getting bigger, pushing me further and further from the ground. It spread to my butt and my chest. My breasts pushed out in front of me like yoga balls. Strangely, I could feel the skin on my boobs getting further away from me, and that same, strange emptiness building underneath it. I was being stretched wider and large than ever before. My clothes rode up over my belly and rode down under my butt, and in no time they tore apart under pressure. I was naked, but kept getting lighter.
The police tried to turn off the tank. They tried to pull the hose out of my stomach. My skin was getting thinner and my body was getting rounder. Soon my hands were inside of my body and I so were my feet, shoes and all. I couldn’t pull out the hose even if I wanted to, and I did want to.
After the panic of seeing my first police officer with his gun drawn, and after so many minutes of feeling myself blow up, I realized why I hesitated: I had no idea where I was going. Feeling my ass detach from terra firma I had no idea how I was supposed to steer. I had no idea how to get down. It was like stealing an airplane in and realizing I had no idea to land. My boobs were as big as inflated trash bags and I had no way to make them smaller again. Still, I rose. I got higher and higher. The police grabbed onto the hose and tried to weigh me down, but soon I was dragging them with me.
Their combined weight popped the hose out of my belly button. I was twice the size of a minivan: way bigger than the guys I had helped escape. I saw the entire shopping complex beneath me. Daddy and the Marquis were being loaded into a police car. My boss came back and stared at my naked body ascending into the wild blue. The policemen grew smaller. I saw my entire town. I watched people and cars disappear, and I saw clouds below me. I saw everything I had ever known in my entire life in one field of vision, and I saw it shrink into a dot on the face of planet Earth. Everything turned green and brown. I saw the rim of the ocean to my left. I was being blown towards it.
Drifting through clouds, I was just as big and puffy as they were. I drifted over the ocean, I drifted into the night side of the Earth, and after a while I simply fell asleep.
When I awoke, my real troubles began.