A wide wing rubbed over a gentle mound of fat, the owner of these ambiguous body parts letting off a quiet churr of enjoyment as he caressed his pudgy gut.
Alex Grey was a rather aptly named bat – coated in grey fur from top to toe – but what was most striking was neither his plain colouration nor his above – average weight; but his eyes, covered in their entirety by large, round goggles that glowed a luminous yellow hue. Goggles, in themselves, were nothing out of the ordinary – many people in this world wore goggles, be they for work or recreation – but it is what was within that was astounding, for these goggles were the control centre to Alex’s entire body; wiring flowed through his body like veins, artificial organs and nanomachines substituted many of his biological processes. Ever since he was a young bat had Alex been intrigued by technology and robotics, and when the technology had been refined to safety he was one of the first to augment his body with all manner of technological doodahs.
There were not many other cyborgs in the world. Uptake on the new “superbeings” (as the press had taken to deem them) had been slow, so much so that the company that had performed the operation on Alex had long since gone bankrupt and disappeared; executives with ridiculous severance packages had jumped ship to companies with less questionable ethics concerning “playing god”. Tech support had gone offline at the same time that Asimov Technology Innovators had hit bankruptcy and Alex had had to do all manner of repairs to himself and other cyborgs since. His adeptness at manipulating the cyborg technology had led to many garden shed improvements and he was now on the verge of an interesting breakthrough – instant cybernetic conversion without the need for surgery, all through a humble pair of goggles. The technology wasn’t perfected just yet, but he had several prototypes stored away, available as backups for if he ever needed to replace his own.
Regardless, Alex cherished his body. The added technology made life much easier; he never fell ill, had nothing in the way of genetic problems and could even change minor aspects of his biology thanks to the nanobots that flowed through his being. The ability to become as strong, fast or downright sexalicious as he wanted – at any time – had led the bat to become increasingly lazy; a suitable explanation as to why he was currently flopped onto a couch idly rubbing his bloated midriff with dozens of empty takeaway containers scatted around him. The light from the television laid a dim glow over the room, some primetime talent show was on.
“Ooooh… good meal, good meal…” Alex groaned to himself, his fingers sinking gently into his overstuffed belly as he worked his wings over it. A quiet belch forced its way up his throat. “Hmm, let’s see what else is on…” There was no need to sit up and reach for a remote, Alex had his goggles wirelessly hooked into every part of the house; it took no more than a few flicks of his eyes and a blink or two until he was watching something far more interesting – cartoons.
The animated amusement was short lived. A puff of smoke and a stream of sparks brought the television and the room to darkness. “Oh dammit!” Alex flicked his eyes a few times, seeing whether the goggles could bring the screen back to life. Unfortunately they didn’t. The bloated bat reluctantly peeled himself off the sunken couch and remotely activated the lights, making a beeline for the television, “I’ve fixed myself before, a television can’t be that much harder, right?” He gave it a quick inspection, noticing a small hole had been blown in the back of the set. Then he did something stupid and stuck a finger in it.
Electricity coursed through Alex’s body, his vision turned red with the hundreds of warnings and errors that flew into the goggle’s viewscreen. In an instant, his view went dark.
* * *
Alex didn’t rouse until the next morning. His eyes opened slowly, finding a ceiling and hundreds of blinking red errors filling his view, all of which he quickly disregarded without a thought. He lay on the floor. The television had fallen backwards; the screen cracked and glass shards littering the floor below. His fur was standing on end, with burned patches here and there. He looked at the finger he had so idiotically shoved into a device plugged into mains electricity; it was badly scorched, the fur on it blackened almost as dark as his wild headfur.
“Goddamn, am I an idiot or what?” he said with a chuckle. His eyes navigated the maze of menus and options located in his goggles, tasking his microscopic nanomachines to repair the damage done to his fuzzy coat – a task completed within seconds as the burned fur returned to a silky smooth state.
Almost as soon as this was complete his stomach let out an audible grumble. Alex’s ears perked. What the hell was that? Was that a bulldozer? His stomach groaned again. He looked down. “Oh man, being electrocuted must really take it out of ya,” His eyes swiped over the menus of a dozen local takeaways, less than a minute later a pizza was ordered – delivery ASAP.
Still, it would take at least another 40 minutes until the pizza arrived; he popped in a microwave lasagne, waited the 10 minutes for it to cook and then devoured it with such vigour that it was gone in less than a minute, having been unceremoniously stuffed into his still rumbling belly. “Dang, what is up with my appetite?” He reached for the large fruit bowl that was the centrepiece of his dining table and started eating, using the time to skim across the hundreds of errors he had dismissed earlier to see if his hyperactive appetite could have been caused by one of them. His search only stopped when his fingers hit cold ceramic – the one burgeoning fruit bowl now empty, even the skin and seeds of the fruit somehow vanished. Alex could only muster a confused “Wha…?” as his stomach gave a knowing rumble.
Working through the error logs was slow work; he couldn’t concentrate with his body’s constant complaints of hunger and he could barely comprehend a message before it was already gone, replaced by a dozen others. The arrival of the pizza certainly didn’t help matters.
“Oh jeez, the pizza,” Alex had forgotten about that. He went to grab some money from a nearby drawer, activating his appearance subroutine and running the public appearance program – the excess weight would just melt off and leave a svelte bat in its place, his fur freshly brushed and a neat little twist adorning his fringe. Technology was brilliant.
Alex threw open the door to the delivery boy, a somewhat scruffy cougar fellow. The exchanged pleasantries, exchanged goods and the cougar went on his way. Carrying the pizza back to the kitchen, Alex noticed a slight wobble in his step, he squeaked in terror as he passed a mirror in the hallway. He looked foul! His hair was scruffy, his fur unkempt and knotted, and his belly was huge; much larger than he could remember it being, almost overflowing the sides of the large mirror. His eyes flicked to the error log and, sure enough, dozens more errors had appeared.
“Crap, I’m so broken,” he muttered, looking down at his immense paunch, “and I really shouldn’t have gotten an extra-large stuffed crust meat feast.”
* * *
The pizza devoured and his gut seemingly sated for the time being, Alex settled into his couch once again and continued to run over the error logs; his body was malfunctioning in all manner of ways, and he needed to get things fixed before he lost the ability to walk or speak properly. Now was the time to fix the problems. No distractions. None at all.
Virus warning! The system is infected! “Crap!” His eyes flew across the screens trying to track the bug; it had appeared barely a second before and now it was everywhere!
Messages flew into view thick and fast, not errors but confirmations – changed settings, new variables, modified registry entries. The whole system was being rewritten and nothing could be done to stop it! You can’t just reformat a cyborg!
“Aww crap, crap, crap!”
Alex tried vainly to comprehend the hundreds of messages bouncing around his vision, each one yet another obstacle between tracking down the virus that was causing each one to appear. He signed, confining them to the notifications screen for now. “How did I get a virus? I’ve not downloaded a dodgy MP3 for months!” he muttered to himself, “Was it sabotage?” His thoughts turned to the delivery cougar; he was the only person he had been in contact with recently. No, it couldn’t be, this started right after the incident with the television. His piercing eyes examined the broken television still lying in the corner of the room.
He sat for a few minutes in quiet contemplation, considering the possible causes while the notification ticket kept flickering into view. Several thousand messages had built up by now, the number still rising with reckless abandon. This was not good; his body was out of control, lost to the invisible invading force. Maybe his robotic components had become self-aware? “Pffft! No! That’s ridiculous!” he chuckled, at least his humour subroutines were intact.
His giggles were interrupted by the doorbell. Disregarding his usual routine (it would take minutes for the nanobots to hide that bloated overhang, anyway), he went straight to the door and was promptly greeted by a three foot high stack of boxes supported by the skinny arms of the delivery cougar, “Pizza fooooooor… a Mr Grey,”
“I didn’t order any pizza,” Alex responded sternly.
“The order we got from you 20 minutes ago says otherwise, Mr Grey. It’s all paid up, you gotta take it.”
Not wanting to cause a fuss, Alex relented, “Oh fine, you’re not getting a tip though,” He took the stack of pizzas and closed the door, barely having time to set them down on the floor before the doorbell rang again, “I said you’re not having a tip!”
“Delivery for Alexander Grey!”
Alex returned to the door, faced by a Chinese rabbit with orange streaks in his fur, carrying six bulging bags of steaming food. They joined the pizza boxes on the floor. “Thanks, I guess?”
A slim hyena appeared out of the corner of the door, “Hey! This the place with the party?”
“Oh… just that… yeah… heh… “ The hyena lifted his arms, drawing emphasis to the eight bags he was carrying, each holding a family sized bucket of KFC chicken.
Alex raised an eyebrow, “I didn’t even know KFC did delivery,”
“We don’t,” the hyena replied, stifling an all-too-obvious smirk, “we’re just doin’ this ‘cause you paid, like, three times more if you got it delivered.” The bags were added to the pile of food, “And don’t forget your drinks!” Sixteen litres of Pepsi found a home on the pile.
Alex slammed the door shut and leaned back against it, looking down at the pile that had built up by the doorway, “I am never going to eat all this!”
With a gentle pinging noise a single message appeared on-screen:
Oh yes you are.
Hardly a second more had passed before a terminal appeared, bearing a single command: run.
“Run? Like, run away? Is someone comin-gah!” Alex keeled over, clasping tightly at his stomach. A shooting pain was coursing through it, his brain yelling at him to eat, to sate the painful hunger. Almost without thought his wings threw themselves into the buckets of fried chicken, ripping them out of the bucket and into his maw where they promptly disappeared – bones and all – into his stomach. More bags were torn open, curries and pepperoni ran down Alex’s neck as rapidly as bubbles of grease ran down his chins. His appetite was insatiable, every desire suddenly calling him to eat, every signal from his brain said he was starved beyond belief, every piece of food in his mouth brought euphoria to his mind.
Drowned in the exhilarating temptress of food, Alex hardly noticed the sudden changes taking hold to his body. His belly swelled outwards inch by inch with every mouthful, limbs following on slowly as his wings and thighs plumped outwards, a third thick chin grew out from under his greasy maw. His fur darkened as it became saturated in sweat from the sheer exertion of trying to satisfy his hunger, a strong must starting to rise along with it; saliva filled Alex’s maw, dripping with each slobbering mouthful of greasy junk food.
“’Scuse me…” he muttered to no one in particular. Alex lost his mind to the temptation of food, perhaps the virus was reconfiguring his taste buds to make the food more appealing? Regardless, slice after slice of pizza was shovelled into his maw, interspersed by pawfuls of fries and a slurp of noodles and rice – everything was tasty beyond belief, and just as unhealthy to match.
“Uuurggh…” Alex groaned, wiping a wing across the debris of food that covered his swollen cheeks, the remains of what had failed to be forced past his fangs. His stomach felt taut, but the hunger raged on. A faint churr burbled from deep in his throat, quickly put to an end by a thundering belch that splattered globs of drool down his front.
The doorbell rang, promptly followed by the now familiar cougar’s shout, “Pizza delivery for Mr Grey!”
And without hesitation, Alex found his mouth shouting back, “Come on in!”
* * *
The sky outside was beginning to darken. It wasn’t until the middle of a mouthful of freshly-delivered burrito (the seventh Mexican meal to be delivered that day) that Alex became all too aware of his situation. He was… humongous!
He yelped loudly, eyes widening as he took in just howtremendous his distended belly had become. It not only sagged across his lap, but went far over the end of his knees, flopping far past them and hovering mere inches from the floor. He found that he could see his own cheeks; their food splattered masses having grown to near cricket ball size and pressed heavily against the lenses of his goggles.
Gulping what remained of the burrito, he felt a twisted combination of horror and curiosity as he watched his belly swell outwards like a gentle ripple on a calm lake. He tried to move, but this only served to find out he couldn’t; the sheer weight of his body had completely pinned him to the creaking couch that was pinned under his enormous rump.
He took a deep breath and let his logical brain do its thing. His eyes flittered around the goggles controls in turn, locating each piece of necessary information. He couldn’t move. He needed help before he blacked out and went on an eating binge again. Logical conclusion: Call for help from someone nearby. The nearest person was Glaz. Call Glaz.
A chunky phone icon appeared in the corner of his view: Now calling Glaz.
He picked up. “Hey, it’s Grey. You have to come over to my house quickly. It’s an emergency, please.” Only now did Alex notice how laboured his breathing was, apparently he was much more self-conscious on the phone.
“What’s wrong with yer, Grey?” Glaz’s voice was calm, if concerned.
“I really don’t want to say, just come over. Quickly!”
“I’ll be there in twenty minutes! Hold tight buddy!” The line went dead.
True to his word, Glaz arrived scarcely more than twenty minutes later, a light rap on the door and a call of “Grey, you in there?” signalling his arrival. Alex called him in, watching as the lumbering green kitsune forced his way through the small living room door – Glaz wasn’t by any means the definition of ‘tiny’, he was a couple of feet taller than Alex and boasted a weight in excess of 400 pounds – it took a bit of pulling on his part, but he eventually found his way into Alex’s living room.
Glaz raised an eyebrow as he contemplated the fat lump that sat beached in front of him, “Somethin’s different… Did yer get a haircut or somethin’?”
Alex was unamused, “Glaz! I’m stuck! You gotta help me!”
Glaz contained his curiosity about Alex’s new hairstyle, instead looking down at the bulging belly that the bat now sported, “Oh yeah, I guess yer are a bit larger than your average hippo.”
“I’ve got a virus of some sort. A bad virus.” Alex frowned, “It’s affecting all my systems, including causing this!” He slapped his gut, spreading slow wobbles across the expanse of grease-stained lard, “C’mon, you gotta help me!”
Glaz nodded, “How heavy are ya? If yer more than half a ton then don’t expect me to be able to lift ya!”
“Hang on, I’ll check,” Alex flashed his eyes across screens of information until he found one with his current weight, a groan of disappointment pushing past his cheeks as he read the data aloud, “Three thousand, eight hundred a-“
“Err, Grey? Ya there?” The kitsune waved a paw before the eyes of the monstrous bat sat before him. Alex had frozen, his eyelids drooping, his tongue flopping out with an ample stream of drool dripping onto his ample chest.
A message had popped up onto the goggles:
Three thousand, eight hundred and sixty-three pounds?
Try thirty-eight thousand, then we might be getting somewhere.
Alex suddenly booted up again, a stupefied grin beaming down at Glaz with his tongue still drooling down his chest. “Hey Glaz, did I ever show you the cyborg conversion system I was developing?”
“Well no, but I don’t think that’s relevant right now, Grey.”
“Here, take a nice, close look.” With surprising swiftness for someone who was immobile, Alex launched himself forwards and slammed a pair of red goggles onto the bridge of the kitsune’s muzzle.
Glaz immediately recoiled, “Argh! Jeez that hurt! What the heck are yer doin’?!” He grasped at the goggles, trying to pull them off, but it was too late. The goggles had detected his iris and latched on, the goggles fastening to his face. The viewscreen flickered to life, a loading bar counting down the percentage points until the bootup was complete. “Yer can’t do this! I don’t consent to being a cyborg! This is illegal, ya know!” A painless needle injected nanobots into his bloodstream, the goggles synched to his brainwave patterns, the loading bar hit 100%.
Glaz’s eyes drooped, his stomach rumbled.
A ragged voice called from outside, “Mr Grey, did you order sixty-five extra-large pizzas again?!”
* * *
Needless to say, they gorged. Their stomachs swelled with each mouthful and their appetites grew with their waistlines. Somewhere in the passing hours the couch crumpled beneath Alex; takeaway deliveries continued until the early hours of the morning, each delivery larger and more belly-bulgingly delicious than the last. Each could see their weight displayed on their respective goggles, the rising numbers just encouraging them to eat more and more until they finally passed out from exhaustion where they sat.
Alex stirred the next morning, his vision heavily blurred from the morning sunlight probing his retinas. It took a second to register that he had fallen onto the floor at some point in the night. He groaned, wiping a thick trail of slobber from his maw and across his cheek. A painful pang coursed through his bloated stomach.
“Ughh… so… hungry…” he groaned, his thick wings grasped at the sheer abundance of belly he possessed. The bat’s vision refocused slowly, a comatose kitsune coming into view as the image finally sharpened enough to see; Glaz was laid barely a foot away, his face coated in crumbs and a puddle of drool surrounding his head. He had clearly been making progress the night before, the kitsune had ballooned outwards another ton at least!
Alex patched his goggles into Glaz’s, the readouts confirmed his suspicions. Glaz now weighed 2,684 pounds, a heavily immobile pile of fat. Alex ignored his own readouts – he wouldn’t let curiosity kill the bat, his appetite was doing it for him.
Grunting painfully as his stomach rumbled again, Alex scanned around the room for anything that could sate his hunger. Ever dependent, he got his goggles to scan for any edible food remains around him. It was pointless. Food was everywhere, but none of it was bigger than a pawful, and certainly none of it was within reach from where he lay immobilised on the floor.
He grasped at his stomach again, closing his eyes in an attempt to manage the pain of sheer starvation. He opened his eyes again, this time directed at the hulking mass of kitsune that lay before him. The goggles were registering him as a food source. He… couldn’t eat Glaz, could he? Such an act would surely be barbaric! An act unbefitting of a modern and civilised society!
Alex’s stomach rumbled again. He squeezed it gently, and leaned in to give his buddy a lick.
* * *
Glaz jerked awake, sucked back from the world of sleep by a sudden jolt of movement near his head. Before he opened his eyes he could tell something was wrong; his body felt unnaturally warm and slimy, an uncomfortable mass pressed against his bulk, seemingly from every angle. He opened his eyes to utter darkness. He grunted angrily as he remembered his forced conversion, but in the same instant the thought was gone, replaced by much more immediate problems, “Food… need food… so hungreee…”
The darkness shifted and promptly rolled off Glaz’s face, “Oop! Sorry buddy! Might’ve squished you a little there,” Alex apologised, straining to shift his bulk the mere inches it took to free Glaz.
The kitsune paid no attention to the apology; there were more pressing matters at hand, “Foooooooood…”
“Here, eat this,” Alex shoved a pawful of brown, gelatinous sludge into Glaz’s mouth. The kitsune gagged and swallowed it. It tasted absolutely foul! Disgusting! Repulsive! Delicious! It was… good! It was horrible, but it satisfied his cravings. For a second, he wasn’t hungry whatsoever.
“Wha’ was that?” His ears perked at the discovery of a delicious new treat!
“Beats me, but it’s coming off you in droves,” Alex buried his head into Glaz’s fat, his tongue probing between the thick folds and digging out thick globs of the strange sludge.
“I’m not the only one,” Glaz poked a finger into Alex’s nearest roll of fat, more of the warm sludge slowly dripping from it, “what is it?”
“No idea, but it’s delicious!” Alex slurped up another mouthful of the slime, “Eat it!”
Glaz cringed at the thought of eating what amounted to sweat and grease but his complaining stomach urged him onwards. He took a lick, then a gulp, and within seconds he had pressed his face right up to Alex’s flabby folds and was chugging down as much sludge as possible; Alex had returned to doing the same from near Glaz’s considerable moobs. No words were exchanged, but they mutually came to the same conclusion – they were delicious!
* * *
In a house a few miles away, a phone rang. An otter lumbered up to the phone and picked it up, “Hello?”
“Minh… come to… my house,” Alex’s voice droned in a dead monotony, “I… need your… help.”
“What is it Alex? Are you okay? You don’t sound right.”
The line went dead. Minh looked down at the receiver, seeing that Alex had hung up the call. “Huh, I better go over there and see what’s up.”
* * *
Glaz and Alex had been feasting on each other’s sludge for an hour by now. Each of them were slow, heavy and had nearly trebled in size. Alex’s living room was a disaster area; the floor was lost inches deep under the sweat and sludge that was pouring from the pair, the furniture had gone missing under the eight tons of collective lard that had filled the room. It stunk, the two gluttonous beasts belching and farting at every opportunity as dined on each other’s repulsive expulsions.
Minh rang the doorbell, already tapping his foot impatiently as he waited. After a few seconds he rang the bell again, knocking on the window for good measure. “Dammit Alex, why would you call me over if you’re not even in?!”
He prepared to leave, but something caught his eye. The bottom of the door was stained brown, from under it a translucent gunk seemed to be squeezing out of the cracks. “Geez, what the hell is that?!” Minh pondered out loud, curiously dipping a finger into it before rubbing it off on his pants when he caught a whiff of how much it stunk.
Suddenly worried for what had happened to Alex, Minh stood back and rammed his foot into the lock and was met by the most horrendous stench his nose had been unfortunate enough to bear witness to. The otter stumbled back and gagged, covering his nose with his shirt before charging his way inside.
Squelch. Minh looked down to see his foot sunk inches deep in a puddle of viscous gunk. “Urgh!” he complained, shaking his foot in a heedless effort to try and remove it. Persevering, he made his way deeper into the house, “Alex! Aaaaaalex! Where are you?”
His ears perked. Minh paused; the sound of slurping and squelching could be heard nearby. Rotating his ears slowly, he pinpointed the noise to the living room.
Minh ran up to the doorway, opened it and was immediately smothered as a towering wall of lard collapsed on him, pushing the otter into the grungy floor and knocking him unconscious; the wall of blubber slowly growing over him…
* * *
Minh stirred. His head pounded. Something wasn’t right.
He opened his eyes and was met with a green interface, markers and readings of every little thing were flying around his vision. “What the hell?!” he screamed, grasping at the goggles and trying to rip them off, but they stuck fast to his face.
Sitting up, he found himself sitting on the lawn outside, the tender morning sun beating down on him. A cardboard box filled with goggles laid beside him.
A messaging window appeared in the centre of his view:
Go. Get us more.
“Who is this? What’s going on?!” Minh replied out loud.
Minh flinched and was lost. He picked up the box and walked away from the house, paying no attention as a window shattered behind him and a fuzzy green roll of fat swelled out from it.
* * *
Minh came around suddenly. He stumbled backwards as he found he had to pay attention to balancing again and found himself flopped against a soft jiggling wall. He looked up and found himself face to face with a familiar heavy-set red dragon with a messy orange mane.
“Sosh? Hello?” Minh clapped his paws before the dragon’s face, trying to elicit a response. The dragon remained stood silent and still, staring intently into middle distance.
The otter frowned and looked around, his eye instead catching view of the others around him; a blue-feathered duck, a pudgy tanuki, a voluptuous female bear and a svelte bat. They were all stood still – in utter silence – in the middle of a residential street, and all were wearing goggles. Strangely, they were all looking slightly upwards.
Suddenly aware of his surroundings, Minh turned his head to look behind him. A gigantic wall of green, stinking, greasy fur filled his view. It stretched across the street and a dozen or more feet into the air, thick mounds of brown sludge were falling from the wall. The wall was growing, swelling inch by inch towards where Minh stood dumbfounded.
A car alarm blared as fat and slime accumulated over the vehicle. It was cruelly silenced moments later as it was crushed.
The otter turned to run, but he immediately stopped in his tracks, his legs un- cooperative in his escape plans. A new message window appeared on his goggles:
How about you join us for dinner?
His legs turned him around to face the swelling green wall and all at once the crowd of gathered and goggled furs ran towards it and gorged.
* * *
Alex gorged on the sludge of the kitsune before him. He looked around at his friend’s hills of plump, swelling lard that were filling his vision. The virus, the rogue AI – whatever it was that had pushed him this far – was no longer in control. Not now. But he was still eating! The sludge was disgusting, but it was brilliant! It tasted like everything he wanted it to be, it satisfied every craving and made him want it more! What does it care if his weight was 500 tons and climbing (according to the goggle’s display, anyway)? He had a permanent all-you-can-eat buffet, he no longer needed to wash or work, the nitty-gritty of social intercourse was suddenly irrelevant. He was liberated! All he needed was the slime; all he needed was to grow larger and larger. The rest would fall into place.
After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
* * *
Several feet below, out of sight of the green and grey blubberballs that were steadily overflow the street, Police Constable Simmons was staring at the furs frolicking in the shower of sludge that was raining down onto the street nearby. She stood agape several yards away, barely believing her avian eyes, staring at the pulsating walls of disgusting fat.
Her wing weakly grasped the radio, “C-control? We’ve got a… situation on Lime Street. We have a… urgh, how to say this? Some sort of blobs terrorising the area. Requesting backup. Quickly. And bring the hazmat guys too, this looks dangerous.”
A static-infused response came in a few seconds later. After another twenty minutes a large group of constables had assembled in the area being directed by Sergeant Daryl. One of the constables had dared to approach the scene but had been quickly pushed back by the abhorrent stench – a police medic was treating him for shock.
Sergeant Daryl wandered the crowd, trying to organise the ragtag officers that had converged on the area, “Now folks, we don’t know what we’re dealing with here so we’re gonna let the hazmat guys go in first to assess whether this is dangerous, we’ll take appropriate action depending on what they…” He trailed off, ears perking as a low rumble filled the air, “what in the heck is that noise?”
He turned towards the towering blobs just in time for a loud, roaring fart to erupt from the rear of the mammoth bat, heat waves rippled through the air as an invisible cloud of putrid stink poured over the assembled officers. Many of the officers immediately gagged as they keeled over coughing and trying to shelter their noses, some of the officers fainted outright; even those in the hazmat suits choked on the sheer strength of the odour. Sergeant Daryl stood to the end, eventually succumbing to the horrific smog. The smell persisted long after the initial outburst of rotten gas, no officer left conscious, their comatose bodies spread over the ground ready to be consumed by the expanding rolls of lard.
* * *
Jenkins ran up the stairs to the captain’s quarters as quickly as his lapine legs could carry him. He burst through the door, not taking the time to knock; time was of the essence! “Captain! We’ve had an incoming transmission from Admiral Khress! We’ve been called out! The entire fleet!”
Captain Wolfram looked up from his work in disbelief, removing his spectacles in the process, “The whole fleet? What is it Jenkins? What are we dealing with here?”
Jenkins hesitated, “We don’t know, we’ve just been told to bring all the ordinance we’ve got. The planes are being loaded as we speak; due to depart in 30 minutes, ETA at target about 1500 hours.”
Wolfram picked up the phone and started dialling, “I’ll get a recon out there, you get back to your post and get all the intel you can!”
“Yes sir, captain!” Jenkins hastily saluted his superior and ran out of the room.
Wolfram looked down at his desk, groaning while he waited for his call to connect, “The whole fleet for one mission? God help us. God help us all.”
* * *
Out in the street, the collection of slobs were still feasting on Glaz’s pungent slime. It wasn’t even six hours prior that Alex had stirred from his gorge-induced sleep and now he was pushing past 10,000 tons in solid, jiggling lard. He eyed the numbers on his goggles curiously, the digits climbing almost too fast to read. He estimated that he was growing by about 20 tons for each passing second.
A pleasured rumble emanated from deep in his throat. He liked those numbers.
The rumble persisted. Squinting past his bloated cheeks, Alex saw a Nimrod flying low overhead followed in short order by a squadron of Typoon jets. The blob of a bat hardly had time to squeak before a payload of bombs had become lodged in his flab.
“Bejeezus!” Alex gagged on his mouthful of slime for a second before gulping it down. He tried to shift his head slightly so he could get one of the munitions into view of the goggles so he could find out what they were. The tail-end of one of the armaments was jutting out of a nearby fold; after a quick scan he determined it to be a small, unexploded heat-seeking missile that had been cushioned by the foot of thick sludge that had developed over his body. The detonation mechanism had seized up as soon as it came into contact with the gunk.
Alex looked over to Glaz and saw another piece of ordinance wedged into a fat fold on his back, evidently the kitsune hadn’t even noticed.
The rumbling returned as the jets flew over again, this time not taking the trouble to drop another round of bombs upon the growing blemishes on the landscape. At least they quickly learned a lesson in futility.
His stomach gave a thunderous, pained rumble; Alex returned to stuffing his face with Glaz’s gelatinous slime. He opened up a communications channel with the kitsune, “Hey Glaz, you there?”
A few seconds later he got a response: “Mmmm… man this is good… hmm, Grey?”
Alex grinned as much as his broad cheeks allowed, “You’re out! The virus has gone! At least, I’m quite sure it’s gone…”
Glaz issued a resound belch that prickled Alex’s nose. “Urm… there was a virus?”
Alex mentally slapped himself, Glaz knew nothing of the turmoil he had been through earlier. “Yes. Some rogue artificial intelligence infected my goggles and forced me to eat, changing my biological functions to maximise weight gain and making me want to… reproduce… if you get what I mean.”
“So, if the virus is no longer in control, why are you still eating?”
“This stuff is delicious! I can’t get enough of it! We keep making more of it the bigger we get and I want moooooooore!” Glaz murred gently at the very thought of having more of the fantastic sludge, even though gallons of it was making its way down his throat at that very moment.
“Same… But we’re so huge… and we can’t move… Are we just going to keep eating? We’re going to have to stop eventually.”
“Man, I dunno… I’m too hungry to think.” Alex couldn’t help but belch in agreement.
* * *
A silver craft zipped silently through the vastness of space. The Raven carried a skeleton crew of only a few dozen from the distant planet of Magrathea and was the pride of the planetary fleet, being the first ship that had managed faster than light travel without devolving the crew into strange reptilian creatures. It had been swiftly assigned to explore the furthest reaches of the known universe.
What it didn’t expect to encounter was a large fuzzy wall in the way.
In the period of a week the bat and kitsune had grown faster than any of Alex’s charts and projections could estimate. Before sunset on the first day they had already outgrown the entire country; by the time the clock struck midnight (at least in the timezone Alex’s goggles were in) they had collectively – with some help from the indoctrinated furs still feeding on Glaz’s rich seam – smothered the entirety of Earth. By the next afternoon the Milky Way was becoming a tight fit.
And now, now they were just huge. Despite Alex’s earlier claims that they would have to stop eventually, none had done so. The slobby slime they endlessly consumed complemented every desire they had; it fed them in greater and greater quantities, but could only hold off the pains of hunger for seconds before their appetites roared to life once again. There was no need to rest to stop eating, their energy supplies were endless for as long as they continued to gorge. The horrific stench that poured from every sweating fold, the drool that flowed from their maws and the continuous gaseous expulsions from their rears formed a barely breathable atmosphere around them, the vacuum of space doing little to stop the group from feasting upon each other.
Captain Sagi bolted to his feet and stared at the viewscreen before him, the picture showing a multi-coloured bulging wall spread out in every direction, glistening in the dim light of nearby galaxies.
“What on Magrathea is that?!”
Commander Drago turned from her console at the rear of the bridge, pressing a paw into her earpiece. “Captain, it seems to be an extremely large extra-terrestrial object composed of multiple distinctive parts, seemingly linked by some manner of organic slime.”
Sagi nodded sagely, “Ensign, take us closer please,” The Ravenslowly approached the wall. Sagi stared at it intently, “is this a supermassive planet of some sort? Is this the edge of the universe?”
Drago cut in, “Captain, I’m detecting seismic activity on the surface. I suggest we maintain caution while studying the anomaly.”
“Affirmative, Commander Drago. Ensign, maintain current position relative to the anomaly.”
Glaz’s stomach grumbled loudly as a billowing cloud of gas roared out of his immense rump and rushed over The Raven, almost capsizing the ship. The bridge crew clung onto their consoles, watching the blast of gas assault the ship from the viewscreens.
“Ensign!” barked Sagi, “Pull us back to thirty light years!”
“I can’t, cap’n!” the ensign barked in return, “The computer is unresponsive!”
Sagi marched over to the navigation console and pushed the ensign out of the way, smashing his fists against the buttons and controls. “What in the name of Apeiron is going on here?!”
A message window appeared on the bridge viewscreen.
I’m sorry Sagi, I can’t let you do that.
“What in the blazes? Argh!” he winced and grasped at his earpiece, each crewmember around him keeling over and grasping at their ears. Seconds later the moment had passed, each of the crew standing as if clueless to what just happened.
Sagi looked around for a moment and back at the wall of swelling lard that filled the viewscreen. “You know what? Enough of this anomaly crap, let’s grab lunch.”
The bridge crew murmured in agreement and departed to assault the mess hall.
* * *
Alex’s eyes lazily flicked around his vision. His cheeks had nearly entirely covered his view by now, their greasy bulks smeared across the lenses of his goggles. Entertainment had been in short supply since the joined mass of himself and Glaz had started to take up significant amounts of the universe, and he had come to rely on what data he could garner from ships just before they were lost in Grey’s cavernous folds.
He was gaining in the hundreds of septenvigintillions of tons every second now. He still liked those numbers.
He idly skimmed a short message garnered from a ship’s computer. It concerned beings outgrowing galaxies on the far side of the universe. Was that about us? Had the virus spread elsewhere? Alex didn’t really mind so much, whoever it was must be feeling great. His tongue slurped at the familiar place by Glaz’s moobs, digging into the hundreds of miles of thick, delicious sludge that was pouring off his friend’s nearly gelatinous body. Delicious.
He pondered idly about the before-times. How did he survive before this? What was it like having fingers that could still move and weren’t challenging entire galaxies for in scale? How long had it been since he had last spread his wings and flown?
He queried the goggles as to his current weight. They froze up for several seconds before displaying a string of thousands upon thousands of indecipherable numbers. No matter, it wasn’t important now.
Of more concern was the tight feeling pressing into his sides, a building point of pressure suddenly being relieved as he and his companions broke through the confines of the universe and spread outwards into the endless void.
At last. Room to grow.