Bad Neighbor

Inflation Types:
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Aislan should have been suspicious the moment he opened the envelope. The greeting card was covered in glitter, which quickly dispersed around the den, spilling on the floor of the den while individual particles remained airborne. What little glitter remained on the card spelled out a simple “Happy Birthday!”

Aislan opened the card. The message read, “Call me when you get this.” It was signed “Cadmus,” his across-the-street neighbour.

Aislan scowled. He’d been feuding with Cadmus for years, and now the guy sends him a kiddie birthday card? Maybe the point was just to give him a mess to clean up. He took out his cell phone and punched in the number.

Cadmus answered before it even finished the first ring. “Aislan?”

“It’s not even my birthday, dumbass,” Aislan grumbled.

“Say, could you come over to the window?”

“What for?”

“Just do it, man. I’m waving at you.”

Aislan walked to his picture window, which gave him a clear view of the neighbourhood, including Cadmus’s house. Cadmus similarly stood at his own window, waving and smiling at Aislan like a happy idiot.

“What do you want, Cadmus?” Aislan asked the phone.

“How’re feeling, buddy?”

“I’m hanging up unless there’s a point to this.”

“Oh, there’s a point. How’re you feeling?”

“I—” Aislan began to answer, but he was interrupted when his belly shot out from his shirt, snapping buttons as it blew outward.

“Oh, man, that’s perfect!” Cadmus called out across the line. “It’s starting!”

“What the bloody hell?!” Aislan just stared at his swelling abdomen for a moment, before pressing on it, as if in a vain attempt to stop its growth.

Instead it surged forward, the buttons snapping open as his belly tore through his shirt. Aislan barely had time to process this before noticing that his thighs were also bulging outward, stretching the waistline of his trousers.

“What did you do?!” Aislan shouted at the phone.

“It was that powder on your card,” Cadmus explained. “It seeps through the skin. I’d like to tell you how much trouble I went to get that stuff, and how I put it in the post without getting any myself. It’s really quite a story. But you’ll have popped before I got halfway through.”

“Popped?!” The unreality of the situation suddenly became very real in Aislan’s mind. His arms and legs had just begun plumping up, and his midsection was almost a complete sphere. He was inflating like a balloon—and he knew what happened to over-inflated balloons.

He realised that he was falling for the second half of Cadmus’s plan: He was allowing himself to be distracted by his neighbour’s taunting. He needed to end the conversation so he could dial 999.

Unfortunately for Aislan, the inflation had already pushed his arms out to his sides, and they were rapidly shortening as they were absorbed by his rounding body. When he tried to disconnect, he found that he couldn’t bend his other arm to press any buttons on his phone. He then tried to do it with one hand, but his fingers had also become plumped, and the phone merely dropped on the floor next to his swollen feet.

“Aislan!” Cadmus shouted into his receiver. “Aislan, can you hear me? It’s important!”

“Wh-what?!” Aislan spat out with annoyance, even as he felt his head become lighter and his cheeks puff out

“Oh, good,” said Cadmus. “I was worried you wouldn’t be able to hear me laugh at you.” He then began an irritating, childlike, mocking laugh. “Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

“That is clearly a fake laugh!” Aislan sputtered out.

“It’s bugging you, though, isn’t it?” Cadmus asked. Aislan’s silence said it all, and Cadmus continued with his mocking laughter. “Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

Aislan grit his teeth. Cadmus was right: That WAS irritating. He decided to move away from the window, at least not giving Cadmus the satisfaction of watching him burst.

But his legs were merely stumps now, and when he tried to turn, he merely lost his balance and fell backwards. His head bounced off a nearby coffee table. “Ugh!”

“OK, that was REALLY funny!” Cadmus said, and let out a genuine laugh.

“Fuff fu!” Aislan muttered, but his cheeks were too swollen to verbalise the response coherently. He lay on his back, his face pointed toward his ceiling and watching his midsection billow farther and farther. He tried to kick his feet and wave his arms, but found he had no appendages left, just stubby hands and feet sticking out his sphere-shaped form.

“Yeah, you’re not going anywhere, tubby!” Cadmus chided him. “Nowhere but up! And up, and up, and up! And I get to watch you go BANG! Ahhhh ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

Again with that stupid laughter, Aislan thought. He almost wished he could just pop so he wouldn’t have to listen to that any more.

But he would have to impatiently wait, as his body continued pushing outward, heading inexorably to his limit.

“Ahhhhhh ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!”

Aislan’s belly hit the ceiling, but his body continued to expand, pushing outward from the sides.

“Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!”

Aislan grunted from the strain. He knew he was seconds away from bursting. Seconds!

“Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!”

The laughter mercifully began to fade into the distance as it was replaced by the sound of rushing air, which was filling the last of Aislan’s head. He heard ominous squeaks coming from all directions.

“Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!”

Did I leave the faucet running? The thought had only a brief, quixotic moment to flit through Aislan’s mind before—


Watching from his safe perch across the street, Cadmus saw his neighbour burst, and his fake laughter was replaced with the real, genuine kind.

He hoped that, whoever his new neighbours would be, that they would prove to be better neighbours than Aislan. But if not, well, he could always find a way to entertain himself…

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