This story features obscene levels of weight gain. If that's not your thing, just move along. There's plenty of stuff elsewhere on the Internet to appeal to you.
I don't really believe telling my story will do any good, not when my only option is to throw it out into the morass of ephemera and would-be memes that is the Internet. Then again, the Internet isn't what it used to be, is it? Maybe I'm just writing this to ease my conscience. I feel like I have a lot to answer for, even if part of me rationalizes that my only fault was one bad decision made in a moment of frustration and little sleep.
Let's start at the beginning, because that's where things usually start. They're too afraid to start at the end because they don't want to die young. Excuse me. I haven't slept much the past few months.
It was in Des Moines. I grew up in rural Iowa, bottom of the middle class. Family wasn't rich enough to send me to a big-name college and my grades weren't good enough to get a scholarship, so the local state university was my only option. But the 'local' school was far enough away that moving to the city was a better financial decision than commuting to class.
Which is how I met Maura; a Craigslist ad for a roommate close enough to the campus. Let me just say it now: I'm not the best judge of character. I've come to realize that since then. But at the time, Maura just seemed like a big, boisterous party girl. And when I say big, I mean big. She had to be at least 300 pounds when I first met her, and she kept getting bigger over the next couple years. There was no question how it happened: she ate constantly, and any party was an excuse for her to down beer after beer.
It occurs to me now that I never saw her drunk; I guess she was too big for the alcohol to ever affect her.
Anyway, Maura seemed carefree and pleasant enough when we first met, and during the first week or two as roommates I didn't see her often. So it was only gradually that her more off-putting characteristics and habits revealed themselves. Her lazing about all day. Avoiding her share of the cleaning. Stealing my food. Her bossiness and sense of entitlement. But as her true character revealed itself, I was busy with my own concerns, juggling a full course-load and working part-time waiting tables. Most of the time my confrontations with her came late at night or early in the morning, when I was too tired to get worked up. Later on, away from her, I'd think of everything I wanted to say or I'd convince myself that THIS TIME she had gone too far and I was going to find a new apartment.
Only by the time I got back home I'd be too tired to do anything, and nothing changed.
A couple years passed like this, and while I suffered with Maura's annoying tendencies I also discovered a talent for the sciences, particularly neuroscience and related fields. By a stroke of luck (or maybe it was fate, manipulating me like a doll) I managed to get an internship with a local company that did a lot of business with the government, particularly with psychological operations.
That was where I found about 'Project: Marionette,' a not-cleverly named plan to create, stay with me here, a mind-control device. As an intern this was above my pay-grade, as they say, but as a burgeoning neuroscientist I just had to see what innovations these people had made. This may sound unsettling in a post-9/11 world, but I had no trouble gaining access to the lab where the work was being done, or in accessing their files and printing out my own copies.
Yes, a multi-multi-million dollar defense project was bared wide-open to a 20-year old intern. So maybe I shouldn't be blaming myself entirely.
The plans were amazing. Far more advanced than what I thought was the extent of human knowledge at the time. And yet, it didn't go over my head. What I didn't understand fell into place after a few late nights of poring over the notes and looking things up online; a couple more weeks of work (and some 'borrowing' of equipment from the office) saw me trying my hand at building my own device. I even saw some problems the crew at work hadn't overcome, and worked out my own solutions to them.
I thought I did, at least. After a while I hit a wall. The device did what it was supposed to do, except it
didn't. The design was modeled after the principles of a megaphone, amplifying and directing sound waves, only with a sub-textual pattern that would worm through the listener's conscious mind and implant the intended orders in their subconscious mind in such a way that they felt compelled to obey.
You could call it hypnosis, if hypnosis was a real thing. And if the device actually worked. Which it didn't. I had tested it a few times, aiming it out my window at people standing at a bus stop across the street. No success. The possibility that distance was an issue was dismissed when I grew bolder and tried it out on Maura (without her knowledge) from only a room away. No such luck.
So one night
or was it morning? One
day, I was holed up in my room, tinkering with the machine. The number of hours I had been awake were only about half of the number of cups of coffee I had drunk (and only a fraction of the number of times I had gone to the bathroom), and I was in a golden mental state where I didn't feel fatigue, but I wasn't exactly thinking straight either.
And this is when Maura came in.
Look what we have here."
I remember feeling startled by this sudden appearance of a 500-plus pound woman who didn't know the meaning of the word 'tiptoe,' which is a good indication of my delayed reaction and cognitive abilities.
"Do you actually KNOW 'what we have here'?" I asked testily.
"No, but it glows, so I'm interested." She reached out a hand for the red 'in use' light on top of the machine, which I smacked away.
"Maura, please. You eat all the food, you take up the whole couch, you're always late with rent, and you're bossy and lazy as hell. You are a TERRIBLE roommate. The only good thing about you is that you leave my work alone. Don't ruin that for us now."
"Fuck you, I'm curious about this one. What is it?"
"A mind-control machine." Yes, I actually told her point blank what it was. I didn't think to lie and say it was something boring like 'a karaoke machine' or 'a spinal implant for handicapped ducks.'
what, really?" she sounded skeptical, but somewhere in her voice was a hint of eagerness as well, "Does it work?"
"Probably not, no." Weeks of failure came welling up, changing from derision aimed at myself to irritation aimed at her. It was a common mood of mine.
can I try it?"
"Knock yourself out." I blurted out, getting up and squeezing past her to get out of the room. I had hit the breaking point with her (my tolerance for her had been falling steadily over the past few months, to the point that just a few words made me irritable), and was ready to do almost anything to get her out of there. Giving her a useless jumble of metal and wires certainly seemed like a cheap price. Maura was the most selfish, egotistical person I had ever met, but I knew she wasn't a brilliant scientist. In fact
what was she even studying at school? Probably going after some liberal arts degree. Nothing that would help her succeed where I (and the actual scientists at work) had failed.
"What's the worst that could happen?" I asked under my breath, because whatever force of fate or destiny that was controlling me wanted to be ironic/foreshadowing at this pivotal moment.
A week later I moved into a new apartment with a Poli-Sci major who didn't drink, date or do drugs. I think she was the product of fundamentalist homeschooling, but she never said much of anything. Which, after Maura, was a welcome change.
I completed my degree a year later, got accepted to the Master's program of an East Coast college, and left Iowa.
Flash-forward a few years later when I returned, doctorate in hand, to work for the company I had interned for. My job didn't involve working with any devices like the one I had tried to build earlier - it was more about evaluating test subjects put into stressful situations, finding out the physical and mental limits enemy combatants could be pushed to without it constituting 'torture'- but I took the opportunity to find out what happened with Project: Marionette proper. Turned out it was as much a failure as my own attempts were, and was scrapped when the project's budget came up for renewal.
A couple months later I was back at my old campus, visiting one of my classmates, Mikhail, who was now a professor. This was when I saw the first hints that something was wrong. I can't remember what it was first, the trio of women wheeling carts of food out of the cafeteria or the burly men standing by the padlocked gymnasium as if they were guarding it, but my whole time there it felt like something was
Later visits just made the feeling worse; it wasn't something as a overt as the feeling that I was being watched, or that everyone else was an emotionless zombie. But I always felt relieved when I left the grounds and went home. The campus seemed too quiet, the people too blank. At one point the idea of robots programmed to imitate humans, but did so imperfectly, came to mind.
So try to understand that more time passed without me figuring out what was up, or that anything even was up. Things happening at this point, like the announcement of several major genetics laboratories and pharmaceutical companies moving to Des Moines, were only later revealed to be part of what was occurring. At the time, it was just another story in the newspapers that I would read and then forget about.
It wasn't until more than a year after I had returned home that the dam finally burst. Or rather, the gymnasium did.
It was late one December night, and I was going home after a Christmas party some friends had thrown. I had taken advantage of the free parking at the school and was crossing the campus to get back to my car when I heard a loud crash. Naturally curious, I followed the sound to the gym, which had been boarded up and informally guarded this whole time, and was shocked out of my slightly tipsy state by what I saw.
One of the walls and a large part of the ceiling of the gym had been torn down, revealing a large pink, jiggling blob filling most of the interior. There was a crowd of 30 to 40 people gathered about the newly formed hole, watching a series of immense pulleys and winches was lifting the blob onto a giant mattress placed on the beds of a trio of semis. The work was slow, but the crowd gathered around the blob didn't seem in a hurry. After a moment I realized the reason why: among the crowd were several campus security guards, and a couple police officers.
I snuck behind a tree and watched as the blob came out of the gym. After a few minutes I noticed a large tube leading from the blob and branching out into several oversized kegs sitting in front of what I now realized was not an 'it' but a 'her.'
It was a woman they were moving. A supremely-obese woman. She had to weigh tons, literal tons. I could just make out a head of hair on top of the blob, and from there I could make out a face. The tube was going into her mouth. Her head just flowed into the rest of her body, her countless chins and neck fat merging into her torso without definition, the rest of her body just a large pile of rolls and bulges with little distinction besides the two swollen spheres that were her ass and the round fleshy orbs that were her breasts, identifiable only because of the oversized nipples the grew erect in the cold night air.
It took what felt like hours for the crowd to get the woman loaded onto the trucks and out of there, the people switching out the large kegs periodically, and even after the crowd followed and I was left alone I didn't move for quite a while. I couldn't believe what I had just seen.
Stepping out from behind the tree slowly - though what I was afraid of I don't know - I walked over to the gym, looking in through the large hole. The two-story complex had been stripped clean at some point, the second story and inner walls knocked down. All that was left now was the rubble and dust from the work of tearing the wall and ceiling down, and a few carts piled with discarded plates and serving platters.
Torn between going home, going to sleep and forgetting I had seen anything or trying to follow this mystery woman, I did the sensible thing and I went home.
Then the next day, worried about what I would find but unable to wave away my curiosity, I returned to the campus. The illumination of the day changed nothing: the gym was just three walls and half a ceiling. No one had any idea what had happened, though they all seemed curiously uninterested when I raised the question. People just walked around the large blocks of rubble and went to class as normal.
This weirdness went too far now. I had been able to ignore a vague feeling because it was just a vague feeling, and the hyper-hyper-obese woman could have been passed off as a weird hallucination caused by cheap wine and staying up too late. But this
The problem was several hours had passed, so any hopes of tracking the woman and her followers(?) were gone. The solution to this was the fact that an immobile woman requiring a small fleet of trucks to move around wasn't going to go far, and only had so many places she could go.
Checking out a map of the city in the campus bookstore, I found several places outside of town depicted as empty. Maybe it was intuition (or maybe fate, still toying with me, wanted me to find this mammoth woman as soon as possible), but one section stood out. It was just a couple miles outside of the city, not at all hilly or foresty. Just wide open field, surrounded on all sides by farmland.
I drove out there, and even before I got close I knew my hunch was right. What was supposed to be open field was now occupied by a large building. It looked like an oversized shed; a shed covering a couple acres (including some of the land marked on the map as farms). I parked a ways away from the structure, but there weren't any guards or cameras I had to worry about. I was able to walk right up to the building without any trouble.
Which turned out to make me cocky, and my attempt to sneak in through the front entrance ended up with two large hands grabbing me from behind.
I got in, sure enough, being dragged inside and up a couple flights of stairs to a catwalk overlooking the monstrous woman. From up above it was easier to make out that she was a woman, even with her extreme proportions. A large chute was leading down to her mouth, and I traced it back up to another section of the catwalk where a group of men and women were dumping wheelbarrows of food into a giant funnel, then going back down in an elevator to load up more food, go back up, dump it, and continue the cycle.
It was incredible. It was obscene. I was stunned, to the point that I couldn't even struggle against my unseen captor as he carried me to the back of the building.
And then I got a good look at the woman's face, and my entire body seized up.
"MAURA!?" I cried out.
The circle of wheelbarrows stopped. The man dragging me stopped. And the behemoth below me stopped chewing, the very tip of the chute raising a bit so the food stopped sliding down toward her insatiable maw. I could feel the arms wrapped around me tense up, and could see it in the faces of the wheelbarrow brigade that I just broken some taboo.
"WHAT?" It boomed from the immobile woman beneath me, and though her voice was deepened under the vast tonnage, I recognized it at once. Demanding, expectant, forceful. It was Maura. "WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU IDIOTS ABOUT ADDRESSING ME LIKE THAT?"
"Forgive us, Mistress!" One of the women manning a wheelbarrow, a bony thing with wiry muscles (no doubt the result of moving food around day after day, serving Maura), got to one knee, bowing her head. "It was not us. Your pitiful slaves would never presume to be so familiar. But he!" As she pointed at me I wondered if Maura, from her vantage point, could even see the woman or follow her hand to where I was. "This intruder dared to speak to you as an equal. Punish him, not us, Mistress!"
Maura tried to turn to face me. It took some serious effort, even when the man holding me moved me back to a more direct line of sight, but she managed to twist her head enough. Her eyes narrowed, then burst wide.
"ETHAN! WHAT A SURPRISE! HA HA HA HA!" All of her corpulence began shaking back and forth, great tides of flesh, with her laughing. "BRING HIM DOWN HERE!"
My captor complied, taking me down a level to, I now saw, an outcropping of scaffolding that came out closer to her (but not so close I noticed it before). Maura had already resumed eating, the stream of food coming steadily down the chute. From my new vantage point I could make out what she was eating. There was no rhyme or reason to it. It was just a potpourri of fatty, salty, and sweet goods. I saw sausages, pies, tangles of spaghetti, baked potatoes covered in butter and sour cream, ham, chicken filets, cakes, giant hamburger patties with ketchup and mustard
I could go on. It was all going down into Maura. She barely seemed to be chewing any of it.
After a minute she realized I was standing there, and she stopped again.
"Burp! Oh, please excuse me, Ethan." And she giggled in an affected, exaggerated way.
"What happened to you?" I asked, trying to cut straight to the point in a commanding tone, but instead sounding like a confused child.
"I got fat, dummy! What do you think happened?" She said, laughing in a deeper, more natural tone. "I ate. And then I ate some more. And then I kept eating. And I'll keep eating and keep getting fatter and keep eating more and getting fatter and eating more
!" The pitch of her voice climbed steeply, and she started to sound like she was raving before she stopped.
"But that's not what you meant, is it?" Serious again. "You want to know HOW I did it, don't you?"
She looked at me, her eyes and grin the old familiar shade of mischievous I knew well, but even sharper now. Then I realized she was waiting for me to answer her.
"Yes." I squeaked out, my attempt to sound in command evaporating like spit in the Sahara. Seeing Maura this immense had been confounding, but seeing her order around everyone else, hearing the unmitigated glee and voracity as she described an endless cycle of eating and getting fatter
That had been humbling. That had been overwhelming. I wasn't in control here, that was as plain as day to me.
She was. And she knew it. And maybe she saw I knew it, or maybe she knew she could make me see it, because right then and there she explained everything.
"I got your device to work. You remember it, right? That mind control device. You couldn't get it to work, you thought. Actually, it was that you didn't figure out how to use it. You only tried it on people who were awake, didn't you? Well, that's the problem. It doesn't work on a person while they're awake. But I had an idea. I had heard somewhere, or maybe I saw it on a TV show or something, that you can hypnotize people in their sleep. I don't know if it's true normally, but one night I had some friends over for some beers and after they had passed out I thought 'Hey, I wonder if this works on someone when they're asleep.' Like, maybe their conscious mind doesn't fight back or something.
"So I tried it on Vivian and Harley - Harley's the one that just ratted you out - telling them that when they woke up they would be hopelessly subservient to me, bowing to my every whim. And guess what happened!"
Another pause, an opening for me to speak up.
"It worked, apparently."
"Better than I could have hoped!" Maura squealed in delight, rocking slightly while feebly attempting to throw her arms up. "When I woke up they were both standing next to my bed, and they bowed and Vivian said 'What are you wishes, Mistress?'
That first day? That first day was beautiful." Her eyes looked up toward the ceiling wistfully.
"And the next few days were fun as well. I made them empty their bank accounts and buy me all sorts of goodies and treats, and then I just laid back while they fed it all to me and rubbed my belly and pleasured me. Oh! So much fun. I didn't want things to end. I couldn't! There was no way I could give this up. No one else in my shoes would have. No one with any imagination at least.
"But after a week or so a problem emerged: Vivian and Harley had, for all intents and purposes, gone missing. They had been sleeping on the floor in my room every night, ready to serve me as soon as I awoke. But people had noticed them not coming to class, not showing up for work. If people started looking for them it wouldn't be long before they found them, but that would lead them to me, and my wonderful machine.
"I guess it was your machine, really. But *I* made it work, so I consider it *my* machine." And with the way she said 'my' that feeling of control and power I had seen in her grew even more. She wasn't just the party-girl stealing bits of her roommate's food. She was an irresistible force laying claim, challenging anyone to deny her knowing they couldn't.
"So other people would find out about my machine. I couldn't have that, could I? I needed to let Viv and Harley go back to their normal lives, throw off suspicion. But what was I supposed to do, then? Go back to my old life? Never!
"I did what made sense. I expanded. *giggle* I invited a few more friends over for drinks, refusing to let them drive home at the end of the party (purely for their safety, of course!) and worked my magic on them as they slept. In one night my staff of slaves had grown from two to seven. I now had enough people that at least one could be with me at all times, ready to carry out my wishes.
"And for a while this was fine. Especially when the summer came and only a couple had jobs to attend to. I spent all summer kicking back and growing bigger. But then the fall came, my slaves had to go back to their studies (and I made sure they were doing their homework and passing their tests, earning their paychecks; they had to lead a normal life, I ordered it so), and I had to settle for stretches of just one helper at a time.
"Which soon proved insufficient. The day came when I could no longer get up under my own power. Months of gluttony and laziness were bringing me to the point of immobility, and now I needed someone's help to stand up. But how long do you think I could do this with only one person helping me?" Another pause.
"A few months?" I guessed.
"Less. I don't know what it is about my body, but I'm practically blessed in that the fatter I get, the more I can eat. Which means it takes more to fill me up, which means I gain even more weight, which means I need more food
Just a couple months and I needed two people to help me stand up. Only a lot of the time there weren't two people around.
"The problem was easy to solve: my slaves had long-since proven their loyalty to me, and I trusted them well enough to let them take my machine out of my sight. It was risky, but it paid off: each in turn took it home and used it on their roommates or friends, who became loyal to me and could now take it to *their* roommates and friends. Within a few days my staff had doubled. Within a fortnight it had quadrupled, and it kept growing. I didn't need everyone waiting on me hand and foot all the time, so I had them come up with a schedule where they could work their shifts serving me into their normal demands of school and/or work. The rest of the time they went about their lives as normal, but always ready to come to me when I called."
She stopped talking and turned back to the chute, shifting forward slightly to bring the end down in reach of her mouth. She ate relentlessly for several minutes, then turned back to me.
"Sorry. If my blood sugar gets low I get lightheaded. Hee hee." That fake giggle again.
"Getting my slaves to draft more people alleviated my concerns about people noticing anything suspicious, and even better as my control spread I could focus on people with certain talents. Or resources, I should say. The owners and workers at all the fast food franchises around campus fell quickly, and it was easy for them to up their orders of burgers, fries and whatnot just for me. Same with the grocers and restaurant owners.
"I was careful in this early time. It wasn't like I wanted one Burger King location to suddenly order twice as many burger patties; just nudge up their numbers every other week. Spreading out these demands made it easy for me to keep my belly full without drawing attention. I mean, I was eating a lot more every day, but I wasn't even close to realizing what my potential was, so there was no need to raise any alarms yet.
"But another problem was presenting itself: as loathe as I am to ever say anything disparaging about my fat (Oh god, how I love my body! And I love it more the bigger I get!), there was the very real problem that I was getting too fat to, well, live. People aren't really supposed to weigh eight hundred pounds.
"But fate stepped in. It was as if the universe wanted me to continue on my course. The news came out of Europe. Sweden or Switzerland or some place that started with 'S.' A potential 'miracle cure,' they called it. A group of scientists had made a breakthrough in treating obesity (they considered obesity a disease unto itself), and the media reported it as just the first step in solving all health problems caused by being overweight. I thought it was funny that it was the Europeans rather than us fat Americans who came up with it. I guess fate has a sense of humor.
"Anyway, an idea occurred to me. I had brought a halt to the drafting of more slaves, since all my dietary needs were met, and I didn't like the machine being out of my sight too much. But I saw I now needed more people working for me, and not just ordinary peasants to flip burgers or rub my belly. I needed people who were
I guess I can concede that they're smarter than me, even if they don't have the vision that I possess. I needed scientists and doctors under my control, working for the betterment of *me.* I didn't plan on doing anything besides eat and grow, but I wanted to make sure I could eat and grow for a long, long time to come.
"And these Swiss-Swede-Somethings would be the start. It wasn't easy; the news of the miracle cure had made them a highly sought-after interview subjects. The word 'Nobel' was being thrown around. Every media outlet in the world wanted to talk to them.
"But I'm too important and smart to be asking for a simple interview. The kingdom is controlled by the king, and the king is controlled by his wife, and his wife is controlled by her child. Thus the kingdom is controlled by the child. My slaves started investigating the scientists and their friends and families, and they hit paydirt. A child of one of them was attending Harvard. I sent a few of my slaves with the machine to Boston, they 'just happened' to meet her at a party and invited her to their hotel afterwards for some drinks. I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this.
"Once we had the daughter, it wasn't hard to get her father over here. I forget what we had her say, but it was something distressing; he landed in Boston less than a day later. She let us into his hotel room that night, and we had him.
"I didn't like the thought of the machine going overseas - I was already nervous with it being just one timezone away - so instead I gave the command to bring the scientist back here. Once the machine was back I set about taking over our alma mater's staff, going first for the dean and working my way down. An invitation for the scientists to speak here that their colleague *insisted* they had to do then followed, and just a week later I had the whole bunch under my control.
"And do you know how tightly-knit the scientific community is? Do you know how easy it was to take my small group of scientists and sweep out to collect the rest of the genetic-engineering and drug industry bigwigs?"
The stories about the major pharmaceutical companies moving to the city came back to me. She was behind it all?
"Hundreds of scientists all working together, exchanging notes, for one purpose: to keep me healthy no matter how fat I got. It didn't take long, surprisingly. Just a few months into it they came up with a drug that strengthened my skeleton and organs so that nothing would be crushed by my fat. After that they came up with something to prevent heart failure. Another to keep my blood pressure down. And then the piece de resistance. A drug to keep my cholesterol levels in a healthy range, which had the unintended side effect of slowing my metabolism and helping my body gain weight even more efficiently. I've become a weight-gaining demon!"
Another several minutes chowing down while I tried to process everything she had just told me.
"So what do you think?" She asked me. I could only stand there, slack-jawed. She smiled, that mocking smile she had always worn when I'd confront her about more of my food missing. 'Too late to do anything about it,' her smile said. I found my voice.
"Oh!" She chuckled.
"Even if I could list every single thing wrong with you and what you've done, you wouldn't understand it, would you? You're not a person now. You're
you're an animal following its most base desires. I'm not even sure if I can call you evil, because that would require a level of self-awareness I think you can only fake. You don't actually experience it."
"HA HA HA!" Her voice practically shook the building, even as dwarfed by it as she was.
I realized the arms that had been gripping me had loosened considerably. I hadn't moved at all during Maura's entire speech, and my captor had become complacent. But my attention quickly turned back to her, as I found out I had just bitten off more than I could chew.
"I'M AN ANIMAL?" She shouted. I nearly stumbled back. "NO! I AM APPETITE! I AM GLUTTONY UNRESTRAINED! I AM A GODDESS OF FEASTING AND FAT! I AM THE NEW ORDER!"
My body grew cold. The feeling of being made small that I had been suffering during all this, the feeling I had not wanted to articulate - even to myself - that Maura had become something more than she once was, became stronger. And in a flash I saw where this was going. If Maura was telling the truth (and I saw no reason for her to be lying; a person with an army of slaves doesn't need to deceive one foolish man, does she?) then she was right. She wasn't going to stop. She would keep eating and growing, demanding more, consuming more, spreading her influence.
She had all but conquered an entire branch of science. What if she turned her attention to the media? Or politics?
I saw presidents and prime ministers bowing before her. I saw her impossibly large body grow even more, overtaking Des Moines, and then Iowa, and never stopping. I saw fleets of trucks carrying food to her ever-hungry mouth. I saw all society, all culture, dying as she ate and grew and conquered.
But first, I saw myself being made into one of her slaves. And as bad as that nebulous Maura-controlled future was, the immediate possibility of me being turned into a nameless drone was infinitely more frightening.
My attention went back to my captor. His arms were still slack. I had one chance to act, and I took it. Slamming my head back, I felt cartilage crumple with a satisfying thud. I had hit his nose, hard. His arms let go of me and I ran forward.
The scaffolding ended with an immediate cutoff, no railing. I jumped, landing on Maura's right breast. It was a bit firmer than I expected, but still soft enough that I didn't bruise or break anything. As soon as I landed I started sliding down toward the floor, almost two stories down.
"STOP HIM!" I heard Maura yell (and felt rumbling through her body) as I rolled onto her great, spreading belly, just barely avoiding falling into a crevice made by two of her rolls. Soon I hit ground, and in a flash I was on my feet and running full throttle for the entrance. A couple of the wheelbarrow brigade gave me chase, but I had a head start and momentum on my side.
I burst out into the open air more alert and vigorous than before. Adrenaline kicking in, I guess. I ran to my car, jumped in, and drove away.
The question became where to go. Maura hadn't mentioned how exactly how many slaves she had; it could be in the hundreds, or possibly even in the thousands. All I knew was that anyone in the city could be a slave-in-waiting. Manchurian candidates waiting to be given orders.
I didn't feel my house was safe, and I didn't know who I could trust. She had mentioned taking over the university staff. Was my friend Mikhail a slave of hers? And then there was the possibility of the police; I had seen a couple the night before. How many were under her control?
Heading back for Des Moines, I instead turned off onto an expressway and went around the city, then got on the freeway and drove as fast as I could out of there. It was an hour and over 100 miles before I started to relax and could think straight.
Going back to the city was out of the question. I had given Maura and her slaves enough time to get the word out on me. My house could be under watch, my license plate sent to the police, who knows what. What could I do?
And that's when I realized I didn't have to be the one to do anything. In these kinds of stories the hero always has to work alone to save the world. Either the government is in on the conspiracy, or he has no proof of what's going on, or he's cut off from civilization. But none of that applied here. Maura hadn't mentioned going after the government, there was a giant freaking building with a mega-obese woman inside it, and I was coming up on a fair-sized town while my cellphone had six bars.
I wasn't going to play the hotshot hero. There were plenty of uncompromised cops and government agencies out there trained to handle
Well, they weren't trained to handle *this*, but they were trained to handle terrorists and whatnot.
I pulled into the first gas station I saw and tried to think of what I was going to say. I still had the map with me, so I could give the location of the building. But what would I tell them? Was I supposed to tell the FBI or the National Guard "Hey, there's a big fat lady here who plans to enslave the world and eat everything"? That sounded nuts, and I knew it.
Eventually I came up with a story about how I worked at a hardware store, and this mysterious group of strangers had been buying up tons of fertilizer from all the shops in town. I had to come up with some details on the fly as I was talking to the people at the FBI, the CIA, and the State Troopers offices, but I convinced them all and I felt a lot better.
they weren't all going to move in at once, or immediately for that matter. Most likely they would send one or two people to investigate, ask some questions. The sight of Maura, if they saw her, would raise some questions, but was her being fat illegal? No. No, it was the mind control device that was the issue. They needed to be made aware of it, and I also realized (too late) that I could have been sending government agents to be converted.
I realized I had to go back. I was the only one aware of the machine and I saw no way of convincing anyone else it existed. I wasn't going to be a one-man army saving the world alone, but I had a role to fill nonetheless.
But first, I needed to ditch my car. The issue of the plates being known still bugged me.
So I drove into the town, found a car rental agency, and got a new car. A day ago the needless expenditure would have made me balk; I wasn't exactly raking in the dough. But if I didn't stop Maura than nothing else would matter. If I needed to put myself in debt to save the world, then so be it!
I went back to Des Moines slower than when I had left, not so eager to risk getting caught after I had been so lucky as to escape once. But as I got closer I steeled myself, and by the time the sun had vanished behind the horizon and I was within sight of Maura's new home, I was committed.
I'm not going to play up how I was able to sneak into the warehouse and ninja my way through to the back of the building, the part that wasn't part of the one large room meant for housing Maura. I think I was pretty lucky more than anything, as I discovered (not having noticed it before) that Maura's slaves, while still possessing their full faculties, were a bit dull in the head. Not fully alert or aware, not exhibiting as much agency as they once had. Or maybe it's just that Maura works them all so much that they're constantly fatigued. Also, the lack of constant lighting in the building helped. Only Maura's room was completely lit.
Either way, I had a couple close-calls that, were I trying to break into a normal office building staffed with normal non-slaves, would have ended badly for me. But eventually I found what I was looking for: the mind control device.
It wasn't the smallest thing, bigger than a TV, but it wasn't that heavy either. I had little trouble getting it out of the building and back to the car, the greater concern being not being discovered.
Once I was back in the rental car I drove away, nice and easy, not drawing attention to myself. I wasn't headed anywhere in particular, just away from Des Moines. Eventually I pulled off the highway into some forest area, driving a couple miles until I was out of site of the road. I needed a place to sleep for the night, somewhere isolated and safe from discovery even by a thousand slaves looking for me, and this would do.
But first, the machine. The thought of showing it to the FBI/CIA/whomever and demonstrating it to prove it worked occurred, but then I realized that this was too dangerous for any individual OR any government.
So I smashed it with a tire iron. It felt acutely satisfying.
And then I went to sleep.