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The door to the dormitory room opened and Shannon trudged in, dropping her backpack alongside the sofa before collapsing into it, wavy brown hair brushing against her shoulders as she covered her eyes with her forearm. "Oh my god."

Margaret looked up at her roommate from her seat at the table across the room. "What's wrong?  The high-speed world of advertising too much for you?"

"No, it's Professor Davis." She pulled her arm away, brown eyes staring at the ceiling. "How can a man with a degree in selling things sound so... unenthusiastic all the time?"

"You mean boring."

"No, it's interesting, it's just that his lectures are-"


"...okay, he's boring."

"At least you're doing well in class," Margaret said, returning to her studies.

Shannon turned her head to look at her. "I suppose." Her eyes drifted down to an oddly placed pillow.  Moving it back into place, she uncovered an unsightly stain on the cushion. "What is this?"

Margaret looked up again. "What's what?"

"This." She gestured to the stain on the couch cushion.

"Oh.  Someone threw up."

"You didn't think to flip it over?"

"I did.  There's an even bigger stain on the other side."

She let out a sigh as she turned away. "We're going to need a new couch." After a moment of thought she added, "tomorrow."


Despite being by definition a shop filled entirely with things other people didn't want, Shannon found the thrift store and its contents to be rather clean and organized.  Probably the worst thing she could say about it is that the decor was rather haphazard, being filled with furniture of all sorts of styles and colors, one of which inevitably clashed with something else nearby.  Fortunately the variety worked out in her favor, as she easily found a couch that was roughly the same color as the old one.  She looked around, only to find the store curiously empty.  Assuming that someone would appear in due time, she decided to wait for the time being and explore a bit.

The tables and cabinets near the front of the store were stocked with a variety of knick-knacks and decorations.  Nothing too unusual, except for one object which stood out even by normal standards: It was a bronze statue about the size of her hand of an eight-armed humanoid.  Two arms were held up in the air, two pointed to the ground, and the remaining four were holding a circular plate either in front of or embedded in its chest, the surface of which was polished to a mirror-like shine.  Picking it up she marveled at it, turning it over in her hands before inspecting her strangely clear reflection in it.

"Excuse me."

Shannon let out a yelp, whirling around as she clutched the statue to her chest.  The young man standing behind her smiled apologetically; he wasn't much older than her, and had some of the palest blue eyes she had ever seen. "I'm sorry if I startled you.  Is there anything I can help you with?"

"Yes!  Yes, the um..." She pointed. "...the, the couch.  I was interested in buying it."

He followed her finger to the furniture in question before turning back to her. "Did you want to take it now, come back at a later time to pick it up, or have it delivered?"

"Delivery.  Please." She was now acutely aware of how awkward she sounded and tried to change the subject, rescuing her dignity in the process. "You have pretty eyes.  I mean-" She held up the statue. "What is this?"

If he did hear the first half of what Shannon said he didn't acknowledge it. "Well... it's a Chinese import-" He tilted the bottom to her and pointed to the small patch of felt glued on the base. "-but it's a Chinese import of an ancient South American design representing a vain spirit.  The South Americans made this to try and appeal to their vanity in the hopes of being granted their desires in exchange."

"So if I buy this it'll, what, grant me my desires?"

"It'll grant one of mine, at least.  It's been taking up space as long as I can remember."

"Did you just make that description up?"

"No, I actually read it.  There's five cardboard boxes full of old National Geographics in the back and..." He shrugged helplessly. " gets slow around here sometimes.  Did you know that the reason owls can turn their heads so far is because they can't move their eyes?"





Shannon's eyes fluttered open and she let out a quiet groan as she rubbed them, rolling to the side to get a look at her alarm clock.

2 AM.

She rolled onto her back, lying there trying and failing to go back to sleep.  She went to let out a deep sigh, but as she exhaled her breath caught in her throat and simply faded away somehow.  Confused, she took another breath, with the same results.  Looking down at herself, outlined by the dim light from the window she could see the silhouette of a low bump beneath the sheets that, as she breathed in without breathing out again, gradually rose higher.

The sight was utterly unreal to her, yet she didn't feel afraid; on the contrary, she felt strangely content.  With each inhale her belly eclipsed more and more of the light from outside.  Soon her breasts followed suit, filling and stretching her shirt, tenting it across her growing cleavage.  All of Shannon's thoughts drifted away from her as her mind was filled with how badly she wanted this, to blow up and fill with air.

Her breaths flowed in but never out.  Her back swelled out, lifting her head off the pillow.  Her arms and legs grew thick and wide.  Her stomach towered over her, blocking out the light from outside entirely.  Soon the growth slowed to a stop, but the pressure continued to mount as the air inside her searched for room it couldn't find.  The tension was unbearable as her body shuddered and throbbed, and it let out a loud, long creak before finally-

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