Little Light Reading, A

Date Written: 
07/31/2008

Having a housemate can be a mixed blessing. At its best, the arrangement can be mutually beneficial with both parties gaining lifelong friendships. But at its worst, having one can mean inviting an annoying, rude, or even a criminally minded lunatic into close proximity with ones personal space. Too often it is that the trauma can far outweigh the financial benefits. So it was with relief that Susan had been able to rent a room to her long time acquaintance, Holly.

So it was that, one morning, Susan found herself hunting her housemate’s bookshelf in search of a little light reading. "Oh, you have got to be kidding me." She rolled her eyes as her fingers paused at a title. Most of the odd volumes on Holly's bookshelf were familiar and she had seen her nerdy friend reading most of them at one time or another. Susan had even played a roll in creating the library - as a joke she had once bought for Holly a subscription to Popular Séance that, ironically, turned out to be well appreciated.

But there, nestled among the years of P.S. back issues, roll playing guidebooks, unicorn tomes, and fantasy paperbacks was one Susan had not seen before. The book was noticeably bigger than those surrounding it and she rightly assumed it was a recent acquisition. Its placement almost suggested that Holly wanted it to be found.

More so than its sudden appearance, the bizarre title was what caught her eye. It was either a joke Holly was playing on her accountant friend or yet another example of overzealous brand dilution. "Inflation Spells for Dummies" read the book's spine.

Susan pulled the volume from the shelf and turned it over in her hands, amused with the ridiculous title. This waned; however, after a quick look through the pages revealed that it wasn't just a fake cover adorning the floppy paperback. The contents kept the jacket's promise, albeit in an altogether strange way. It was not some dork-magic economics book. The chapter titles, diagrams, and figures therein suggested something else entirely: something very...odd. "Just exactly what all have you been hiding?" Susan spoke aloud, addressing the empty house.

Further investigation was warranted.

***

The morning sun bathed Susan in warmth and as she lay down on a blanket in the back yard, a light breeze ushering in the first day of summer's pleasant aroma. While the scent of freshly cut grass and flowers hung softly in the atmosphere, the floral print of her new sundress nicely complemented the festival of colors surrounding her. Over the privacy fence in a neighboring yard, a sprinkler swooshed as it watered a thirsty lawn.

With Holly as yet to return from her all-nighter up on the hill, Susan had taken the liberty of bringing the new book with her, saving it for after she finished her studies. An intellectual dessert, it was to be. Almost immediately, however, curiosity got the best of her and she decided to put the serious stuff down in favor of the lighter fare. Taking a sip from her sports bottle and readjusting her white-rimmed sunglasses, she gazed down at the odd little DIY book sitting on the blanket in front of her. "Inflation Spells for Dummies" it read, "by Lucille DeVill - author of 'Up, Up, and Away'".

Susan lay down on her stomach, her chin resting in her hands and her feet up in the air. She absentmindedly played with her sandals, dangling them from her toes as she perused the book. After a cursory reading, the book's theme became clear: teaching the poorly socialized to use pretend magic to pretend to inflate things... people... body parts. "Well okay, then" she giggled. With the flip of a few pages, she was reading the contents of a new chapter and she chuckled, shaking her head in amusement while doing so. "Well, that would certainly spice up any date" she quipped under her breath. "Assuming any of these geeks could get a date." Holly really needed a date, Susan noted, and this kind of thing was certainly not helping her situation in that regard.

The most hilarious thing about the book, indeed what was true for most of Holly's library and active fantasy life, was how seriously it all took itself. This book's tone was no different; it was as if it actually intended for the reader to be able to do the things discussed in it, no different in attitude than if it were a how-to book about hanging wallpaper.

As of late, Susan had begun to worry about Holly's growing inability to separate fantasy from reality, and finding this book made her worry even more so. The woman was simply too old to be so wrapped up in such silly things. "Having a vivid imagination is one thing" Susan mused, "but puh-lease: grow up already, will you?" And this event or rave (or whatever) she went to last night - doesn't she have work this afternoon? Or will she call in sick - again? "Friend or no" thought Susan. "If she starts slacking off on the rent because of these shenanigans, I am seriously going to have a talk with her."

Clearly, in the many years the pair had known each other, there was a side to Holly that Susan had never seen. Maybe that little talk should happen sooner, not later. But still, what a weird little book it was. Yet, Susan couldn't quite persuade herself to put it down. Perhaps what drove her to keep reading was the same impulse that made bystanders ogle a grotesque or tragic scene.

Susan soon began to bore of the book's immature tone and she abruptly flipped the pages to a later section as her attention wandered. Her fingers alighted upon the "Advanced Concepts" chapter under the sub-heading "Helium". It began with a note of caution:

Helium is both one of the most entertaining and most dangerous of mediums to use for inflation. Before continuing, be sure you've read and understand Ch. 3 and have passed the self-quiz on page 96.

"Ha!" she blurted out. "That is just too rich." The next few pages more closely resembled a physical science primer than a nerd manifesto. They reviewed Archimedes’s Principle, discussing the concept of static lift and buoyancy, accompanied by drawings, diagrams, and charts to provide illustration. There was even a copy of the Periodic Table of the Elements with the section on Noble Gases emphasized. In contrast to its almost scholarly beginning, the end of the section was littered with pages of utter nonsense, all written in a faux Middle English style that was, conveniently, easy enough for the average community college dropout to parse.

She flipped a few more pages forward, stopping on one with a "spell" in the form of a poem written in saccharine calligraphy over a cheesily fake parchment background. Beneath the poem was the clinical "Example 13B: Application of Concentrated Enchantment Helium".

Susan dropped her forehead down into the open book, giggling disdainfully. Then, back on her elbows and with a broad smile she read the poem, haphazardly annunciating the words as she did:

Helium Gas
Make me light
Balloon my body
'Till I take flight
Inflate me large
Inflate me round
Inflate me 'till I'm skyward...

With a mocking crescendo she finished the last word:

Bound.

Now, by this point, Susan figured that she would once again chuckle to herself, close Holly's silly little book, and resume her serious studies for the remainder of the morning. Truth be told, such an assumption was not particularly unwarranted; one that the vast majority of rational individuals on the planet would have likely made. It was, however, not to be the case. Not on that day.

***

Laughing, she closed the book, set it down, and reached for the copy of The Financial Times she had brought outside with her. But she stopped in mid grasp as the sudden perception of an odd tickling sensation began emanating from her torso. It was spreading out to her extremities as if something were gently brushing her skin all over. Thinking for a moment, she wondered: was it a brushing, or was it...CRAWLING??

Susan shrieked at the realization that there were probably thousands of ants creeping all over her. She jumped to her feet, shrieking again, and in a furious jig attempted to slap and brush the critters off of her. After a few moments of abject terror it became obvious that there were no ants or creepy-crawlies plaguing her otherwise idyllic morning. Still, the feeling persisted and she made one last futile attempt to brush the non-existent insects from the front of her dress.

Most individuals have in their mind a good three-dimensional map as to the physical extents of their bodies and Susan was no different in this regard. So it came as a surprise as she brushed the front of her dress that it felt as if her chest was not quite where she expected it to be. Specifically, her bust made a noticeable impression on her hands and forearms (or was it the other way around?) as she tried to sweep the cotton free of imaginary pests.

In fact, it seemed that beneath the frock there was much more of her present than usual. The bounty of cleavage peeking out the top of the neckline caught her eye and she stared intensely at herself, trying to determine whether it was perception or memory at fault. With a quick, self-conscious look around the fenced-in yard, Susan brought her hands up to her chest to investigate and found that not only did she look bigger but that she felt bigger as well. And in all of the commotion of the last few moments, she hadn't realized how much the band of her brassier was digging into her skin.

Still, the soft, spreading sensation continued and she stood there on the blanket, quietly perplexed. The neighbor's lawn sprinkler on the other side of the fence marked time as it continued to chatter away.

She continued to stare down at her chest and, wrinkling her brow in confusion, the scope of the situation not registering. Then, in the brief moment of stillness, Susan realized her chest didn't just look or feel bigger but that it was growing bigger before her eyes. The soft curves of her breasts were quietly swelling in her arms and she could feel them pressing into the cups of her bra. "This is not normal,” she thought, her critical thinking skills finally returning from their coffee break. With a subtle gasp, her eyes widened at the epiphany.

A rush of adrenaline quickened her pulse and elevated her breathing. Standing motionless, she took a quick mental inventory of the rest of her anatomy. The feeling was everywhere and she soon realized something else: it wasn't just her breasts getting bigger. It seemed that everywhere - her hips, derriere, thighs, tummy, and - whoa - everywhere seemed to be growing, too. That gentle pressure, it was welling up from within. Letting go of her expanding bust, she dropped her hands to her sides and explored her hips to see just how much wider they had grown.

All over, she could feel her skin swelling. Susan poked and prodded herself here and there and was surprised at how soft and resilient her flesh was. How odd this was. Susan's fascination at her odd predicament kept her attention. Beneath the surface, a gentle pressure pushed out in all directions and the tug of fabric soon registered the fact that her once svelte body as rapidly filling the previously loose dress. At the same time, the discomfort across her ribcage and breasts caused by her bra was bordering on pain while down below, her panties dug uncomfortably into her hips. The tension was becoming unbearable and she needed to relax the pressure immediately. However, reaching around to her back proved difficult, as it seemed that her arms and shoulders had puffed up. As she struggled to undo the clasps, her breasts pushed out against the cups of the bra, trying to squeeze their way out of the cotton prison as she struggled.

The first attempt failed and Susan rested her arms akimbo on her expanding hips. She stared down at her breasts as she caught her breath. Growing ever larger, they bulged out of the dress with their pneumatic cleavage.

Panic rising, she reached back again, clenching her teeth from the effort to grab hold of the clasps. Every movement made the band and cups painfully dig in harder. With one final, Herculean effort, Susan thrust her arms back, grunting from the strain. At the apex of her reach, there was a muffled pop and the sweet relief of tension as her breasts were released from their tormentor. She hadn't managed to unfasten the clasp; it was the fabric between the cups that had succumbed to the strain. Now free, her bust jiggled and swelled to fill the front of the dress, its cotton wrinkles smoothing as the ballooning mounds popped out of the cups. Likewise, her panties gave up the battle of the bulge, quietly snapping and offering their own relief.

She stood there, the momentary panic slowly migrating to bewildered anger at the impossible situation. She swore quietly into the ether while trying not to attract attention from the neighboring yards. The once loose sundress was tightening around her curves, her thighs pressing together and breasts proudly standing at attention out front. As the sprinkler next door continued its cadence, Susan heard something else that had been masked by the sprinkler's din. It was a hiss - a hollow sibilation that was growing louder - and it was something she had heard before.

Unmistakably, it was the sound of a carnival balloon inflating.

She froze at the thought as a list of the events that had just transpired scrolled in her mind. "No, no - it can't be!" she spoke in a loud whisper, looking down at Holly's book lying on the blanket and then to her expanding torso. It simply was not possible and she fought the ridiculous insight. Such a notion was simply not within the domain of reality. But yet, there she was, blowing up like a balloon.

Intensely staring at the book, she bent down to pick it up and immediately realized how tight her dress had become. Her belly and breasts seemed to fight her movement downward, pent up in the restraining dress as they were. She leaned down further and snatched the book, reaching around her inflated chest as her chin sank into her new cleavage. The strain on the dress, however, was too much and as she bent over, the sound it rent itself so loudly that Susan could hear it over the hissing. She stood up, wide eyed, and reached around to her swelling backside, searching for the tear and finding it. Though the yard was empty, she still looked around in embarrassment to ensure nobody witnessed the indignity. The tear afforded a small respite from the tightening dress - ventilation, too.

Her bust was becoming more of an obstacle, forcing her to hold the book uncomfortably out in front. She frantically searched for the pages visited earlier. Stop! There it was. No-no, too far! Flip, flip, flip, and flip. There it is!

Silently, she skimmed the poem and then thumbed to the chapter's title page, first marking the poem by folding down the corner of its home page. There, at the beginning of the chapter it was. Quickly she flipped to chapter 3: "General Control, Regulation, and Reversal". It began with platitudes to several unfamiliar people and vague references to earlier parts of the book. It also talked about the importance of being in control at all times and having the anti-spell worked out ahead of time, blah, blah, blah. "NO KIDDING!" Susan screamed in thought. "HOW DO I FIX THIS?"

Frantically reading, she could feel herself inflating faster and the dress becoming tighter. The stitches under the sleeves began to give way one-by-one with a quiet pop-pop-pop and she could hear her skin beginning to squeak with every movement inside the dress's diminishing margin.

Searching further, all there seemed to be were pages of useless nerd text. But later in the chapter she stumbled over what she needed: a fold out page with a flow chart showing how to reverse a spell. Her gaze danced around the page, trying to determine the beginning point of the spaghetti-like graphic. Finding the START action block she began scanning all the question and decision blocks that jumped around almost randomly. All the while, the dress was becoming tighter, sundering itself exponentially while the infernal hissing continued unabated.

After a seeming eternity, Susan finally ascertaining a recommended course of action from the confusing document. It seemed that the first step was to decipher the major actions the incantation had invoked. She flipped back to the marked page and made note of the actions:

*Make me light
*Balloon Body
*Flight
*Skyward

She blanched at the realization of what that meant. Certainly, it couldn't be possible, could it? She wasn't going to sail off like an errant toy balloon, was she? That would be impossible! Well, it was probably just as impossible as blowing up like a human balloon, huh? She turned back to the flowchart. The next step was to... to... "Oh, to hell with the damned book!" she huffed. The next step was to get inside immediately!

Susan looked up at the patio door - only a few dozen feet away - and shifted forward in preparation for a mad sprint. But instead of feeling the increased weight on the ball of her foot as she leaned, there was the unexpected sensation of less pressure. In fact, the blanket seemed to rise up slightly over the grass, no longer pushed down so hard.

Again, she gasped and this time it was to be the final straw for her dainty dress - a last gasp, if you will. The remaining seams holding out against the insistent pressure of her billowing flesh finally succumbed and the shredded fabric fell to her feet in a flowery pile. Freed from constraint, her breasts seemed to defy gravity, expanding steadily and slowly rising into her chin. Her tummy was rounding out as well, soft curves slowly pushing outward.

The warmth of the sun shining on heretofore-covered skin induced a sensation she hadn't experienced in awhile: that of being naked and outdoors. The potential for embarrassment and the fear thereof suddenly overpowered her, derailing her other burgeoning concerns for the moment. She instinctively moved to cover the more intimate areas of exposed flesh with her hands and arms. The newfound fullness of her bust was alarming. Her breasts overflowed her forearm as they softly inflated, pushing farther out as her belly followed suit.

Susan carefully looked around, trying to see over her pneumatic body to find the towel she had brought with her. It just to her side and she carefully knelt down and reach for it. Her ballooning thighs and calves made bending difficult. So, too, did the increasing feeling of upness that put her off balance. She found herself teetering slightly and struggling to remain upright. But the embarrassment of being caught in the buff by a neighbor still outweighed the immediate necessity to get in the house and she lurched for the towel, temporarily exposing the small area of skin on her belly that she had been so vainly guarding.

As she grabbed the towel and stood up, though, her tentative grasp on the book with her other hand failed and it fell to the blanket, spine up with the foldout page sticking out. Her clumsy efforts had been stymied by her inflating body. When she stood up, it almost felt as if one of her feet left the ground. She tensed, eyes widening even more as her momentarily free breasts bobbled upwards toward her chin, buoyant. The dire hissing continued as she quickly reigned in her enthusiastic balloons with the towel. There was no time to pick the book up and she began to make her move toward the door, clutching the towel to her bosom in a losing battle to keep her modesty intact.

But a mere step later, it became clear that walking would be impossible. She was so light that the balls of her feet were unable to find purchase, slipping over the blanket's surface. All over she could still feel herself expanding and lifting, becoming lighter with every moment. She felt hollow, the pressure of the magical gas softly pushing outward and exaggerating her curves as if she were some kind of overinflated woman-shaped balloon. Still in a state of denial, she told herself that it couldn't be happening and that she was not about to balloon into the sky.

But at that very moment her feet gently left terra firma. She shrieked again, stabbing at the ground for a handhold and failing. All that the desperate struggling managed to do was to have her shoulders swap a little altitude with her legs and she floated there momentarily above the blanket, almost parallel to the ground. The towel dangled from her forearm as she held it tightly to her chest, the helium hiss still ever-present. The ground was just out of reach of her free hand, so near yet so far away. Susan growled, telling herself that what was happening to her wasn't really happening, that it couldn't be happening; as if the fact that she really was an over inflated balloon woman floating into the sky could be chanted away. The tragedy was that it may very well be so, but the instruction manual was out of reach, a mocking reminder of the second of two strategic mistakes in dealing with her predicament.

She began to drift upward a few inches at a time, still swelling with helium as her curves bloated like those of the aforementioned parade balloon. Her body slowly rotated back into the vertical as her breasts incessantly pushed upward. The one end of the towel gently slid along the blanket toward the grass and as she drifted upward it, too, reluctantly broke contact with the Earth. She tightly clutched it to her chest like a security blanket; one last reassuring artifact of the world before it went crazy.

As Susan floated up above the wooden fence surrounding the yard, one of the gables on her roof drifted by, just out of reach. She watched helplessly as it slipped away. Soon, she was rising up above the crowns of the nearby trees and as she looked down at her shrinking back yard and those of her neighbors, was momentarily distracted by her surprise at seeing how many homes in the neighborhood had swimming pools.

She rose higher above the subdivision as the hiss of the gas slowed down to a trickle and finally stopped completely, leaving her inflated curves squeaking as she moved about in an attempt at getting a better view of the receding landscape below.

It was then that she spotted Holly's car turn onto her street and head towards the house. Susan's heart leapt at the renewed hope of rescue and she called out in a plaintive wail to her friend. Helplessly she watched from high above as Holly pulled into the driveway, parked, and went inside - unable to hear the distant plea for help. Susan continued to slowly float higher and as she looked upward at the vast, blue ocean above, a terrible dread engulfed her.

***

It had been a long, eventful night up on the hill and Holly could still not believe what she had witnessed. The gift that had been given to the group would last but a day, its manifestations limited only by the participants' imaginations - and what an imagination Holly possessed. To her, it seemed only logical to conjure up a reference book and for that she had needed some help in planning. Bleary eyed but alert and excited, she had finally left her mentor's house to retrieve the magical book, which should be waiting for her at home (if everything went correctly).

Finally home, she called out to Susan, playfully inquiring of her housemate if she wanted to participate in a bit of the fun that day. But there was no answer and the house seemed empty. From the lack of response, Holly correctly deduced that Susan was not home so she sought out her bookcase - only to find an open gap where her new acquisition should be. She politely cursed under her breath, assuming that her plans for the day had gone awry and headed for the kitchen to call her partner-in-crime to report that she'd be returning shortly, empty handed.

But, as Holly walked past the patio's sliding glass door, a bright spot out on the lawn caught her attention and she stared at it for a moment. It was Susan's picnic blanket spread out over the grass and it looked like she had left her textbooks splayed about over it. She unlatched the door, slid it open, and poked her head outside, craning her neck to get a better view. It was odd for Susan-the-neat-freak to leave her things sprawled out as they currently were on the blanket and she stepped down onto the wood deck and made for the blanket.

She gazed at the items lying there as she walked across the grass, finally spotting a certain medium-sized paperback book lying face down on the blanket. Anticipating what she might find, her eyes widened as she approached. Standing at the edge of blanket, her suspicions were confirmed: it was the book she had helped conjure earlier that morning. Worse yet, it appeared as if Susan had been reading it. A universe of possibilities raced through Holly's mind, most of them tinged with unpleasant images of Susan's fate. The things described in the magical book should simply not be attempted by the uninitiated!

Quickly, she snatched it up and inspected it. A foldout page had been unfurled that detailed the use of anti-spells. "Oh, no, no, noo..." she fretted. "What have you done, Susan?" Standing there on the grass with the book in hand, she hurriedly searched through it in the hope of finding where else her unfortunate housemate had been reading. There! The corner of a page had been turned down. Silently, she scanned the page, finding the helium spell that Susan had accidentally cast upon herself. Holly shook her head as she imagined the events that had likely taken place. She shut the book and turned around to look upward into the sky, searching.

A minute or so of intense gazing into the blue void yielded nothing and Holly realized she had to act quickly. So, into the house she ran, through the patio doors and into the kitchen where she frantically dialed the phone to contact her awaiting friend. "Lucy, there...there's been an accident with the book... no, Susan... I don't know - look - no, stop laughing - I'll call back in a few minutes."

Precious time was slipping by and Holly sprang into action. Setting the book down on the kitchen counter, she spread the foldout page over the generous surface and began studying it, occasionally referencing the fateful helium spell in the other section. With a better grasp of the situation, she turned to the index, found a pertinent entry, and flipped to yet another new section. She nodded her head silently with newfound confidence, encouraged by what the pages were telling her. "Okay, let's hope this works" she whispered, steeling herself for the difficult the task ahead.

***

An hour later, Holly sat on a stool at the counter, a half finished cup of tepid coffee and saucer in front of her. With her elbows on the cultured marble surface, she cradled her temples with open palms and stared wide-eyed down at nothing in particular. Many thoughts ran through her head. They were bad thoughts, mostly; thoughts of criminal inquiries, of tabloid headlines, and of lengthy jail sentences. But mostly, they were thoughts of guilt over the demise of her kindly friend.

The phone rang, jarring the dispirited woman out of her stupor. She paused and waited. With the second ring, she timidly picked up the cordless receiver and looked at its display. "PUBLIC TELEPHONE" read the handset's caller identification screen. Pressing the TALK button, she cautiously brought the device up to her ear and spoke.

"Hello?"

A high decibel torrent of righteously creative obscenities streamed from the earpiece.

"Oh, thank goodness!" Holly squealed ecstatically. "You're okay!"

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Average: 4.2 (11 votes)
BIBeatle
Wow, a really great story!

Wow, a really great story! But I must admit, I was a little dissappointed with the ending. Only reason being I was expecting it to end with Susan floating off into the heavens, only to catch up with the rising air pressure and, you know...explode. :)

Massive_Meghan
Massive_Meghan's picture
SvenS is the best writer on

SvenS is the best writer on this site. If only everyone paid as much attention to description.

The image in my avatar is not owned by me; I'm just borrowing it for aesthetic purposes!