Machine, The

Date Written: 
10/29/2018

The Revulcanizing Polymer Bonding Shuffler, usually just called it to save time, was encased in a colossal industrial sarcophagus, and stood as an unholy union of the bleeding edges of every field of science and engineering, from Quantum Mechanics to the Culinary Sciences. An outer case of stainless steel covered the labyrinth of coolant pipes, wires, sensors, and air ducts, which surrounded the it, and three huge hoses reached like the fingers of a hand toward the exhaust vents hung from the ceiling. The instrument panel and digital readout covered the broad side of the machine, bespeckling it with a number of dials, knobs, switches, levers, and meters, all of which could level a small town if calibrated improperly. On the shorter side, the single enormous door to the interior of the machine resembled--in form as well as function--a thermonuclear blast shield. The only major difference was that this kept the radiation in.

The machine was so large that the lab in which it was built had to be annexed by the development team for its sole use, and the rest of the R&D department relocated to the basement-level storage room. Still, the team was so large that during working hours, the lab was completely stuffed with overworked and underslept engineers spouting data and complaints about deadlines at each other. But currently, at nearly two in the morning, all that remained of the chaos were the scattered piles of papers and two exhausted project leaders.

Blake, the leader of the build team, was toiling away on the crank to open the two and a half ton door, muttering something about the poor design of the emergency release, which was practically a hair-trigger. Behind him sat Christina, the leader of the chemistry team, busily debugging the incomplete operating program given to her by the programming team.

By no means was she a programmer, but she was terrifyingly intelligent, so one could say the problem balanced itself out. Polymer chain composition was the topic of her controversial doctoral thesis, and her proposed theories--explained using limes, toothpicks, and a roll of tin foil--had earned her the coveted position she now possessed, as well as a reputation as a trailblazing crackpot--or a mad scientist, whichever suits your fancy. Despite being half Greek, she was sometimes mistaken for being Filipino. This she blamed on her fifty-eight inch stature, which (along with her wiry physique) she blamed on secret anti-growth hormones in Oreos. As she stayed inside more often and her skin paled to an increasingly brilliant white, the confusion seemed to die away. Because of her tendency to forget about blinking, her large eyes tended to freak people out after a while. To make matters worse, her bushy black hair was the central link in making her an uncanny lookalike to a miniature poodle.

Christina yawned and leaned back against the machine, fiddling with the taut yellow balloon on her lap. Though many of the team members were tempted to call it a fetish, she maintained that she only liked the texture, sound, look, smell, elasticity, and molecular structure of latex for purely scientific reasons. Most of the team were skeptical, though. This is the same person who brushes her top teeth with Colgate and her bottom teeth with Aquafresh to keep the CIA on its toes. Nothing could be that straightforward with her.

But as she squeezed the supple balloon with her fingers, felt its tacky skin push against her hand, and heard it squeal, her mind couldn’t help but wander to less pressing matters.

She had the whole scene prepared in her head. Instead of sitting on the concrete floor of a laboratory, she was lying on an unmade hotel bed in Somewhere, USA. Rather than chinos and a blouse, she was undressed--save for the black silk lingerie which Blake bought her for this special night. Rather than typing on a laptop, she was cradled in Blake’s huge arms, with her tiny leg thrown over his tree trunk of a thigh, and dancing her fingers along his toned chest. She was smiling at him, and he smiled back with his silly toothless grin. The room wasn’t lit by oppressive overhead fluorescent lights, but illuminated solely by a lonely street lamp by the window, whose rays cut between the shutters to cast tiger stripes on the floral wallpaper. She’d rustle his neat brown hair and giggle when he ran his fingers through hers. The bedside radio was playing Kind of Blue in it entirety, commercial free, and Miles Davis had just begun playing Blue in Green. The moment was perfect. She was his, and, at last, he was hers.

She’d climb on top of his chest, perfectly nailing that mischievous grin she practiced in the mirror every morning, and rub her smooth tummy against his rough abdomen. Their eyes would link perfectly--steel gray and chestnut brown--and be drawn towards each other like binary stars, the world spinning, spinning, until colliding in a Red Nova of passion. Then, she’d take in a deep breath, drinking the sex in the air like sweet champagne, and blow, as if into a balloon. She’d blow again, and again, and again, rhythmically, while reveling in the hollow whoosh of each zephyrean breath, which each time deepened in pitch.

First, the muscles of his abs would smooth out into a pneumatic potbelly. His shoulders and thighs would lose a bit of their definition with each puff, widening ever so slightly as his torso swelled. Soon, his arms would get stiffer, and his legs more rigid. His belly and chest would smooth out into a single continuous curve, along with his sides, as his back began to round out to match. She’d massage his belly, which would creak like the skin of a balloon, as she continued to blow. His thighs and forearms would inflate into cones, tapering off to his fingers and toes, while his body swelled into a beautiful globe. His body would creak as it began to press into the ceiling, bulging outwards and straining to stay together while it absorbed the last of his limbs.

Then, balancing on the edge, with each strained and shallow breath sending waves of frantic squeals across his skin, he’d look into her eyes. “I’m your balloon,” he’d whisper. “Pop me. Pop me like the balloon I am.” Streaks of crimson lightning raced around his taut, rotund form, with even the faintest careless touch seemingly enough to burst him. The orange light of the streetlamp cast right through him from side to side. With one last gentle breath, she’d kiss her balloon goodbye and drink up the protests of his overtaxed skin, then blow, slowly, listening to the orchestra of groans and creaks and squeaks build to a crescendo just… before…

Boom!

Christina snapped out of her dream with a start. What just happened?! She picked up the shard of yellow latex draped over her ankle and looked at Blake, crouching in front of her with a sharp pencil in his hand and a cheeky grin on his face. Christina blushed. “My balloon!”

“Yeah, and our deadline.” He patted her on the shoulder. “C’mon, there’s plenty of time to sleep when we get this baby chugging.”

Christina held the torn piece of latex in her hands like a toddler holding a dead songbird. “But… My balloon. You popped it.”

“It’s just a balloon.”

Christina’s heart shattered.

Blake sighed, “C’mon, you know I didn’t mean that. If we get this thing working, I can make it all better. I promise.” He stood up and outstretched his hand. Christina swallowed back her tears and took his offer. Blake grinned, and with a tug yanked Christina to her feet. The sudden momentum sent her, squealing all the way, face first into his chest. It was a shame she was so short--a foot and a half taller and they would have kissed. “You ready to wrap this up, tiger?”

Christina regained her balance as Blake began walking over to the box of scrap plastic, then caught up. She tucked her hands in her pockets and slouched. “Tiger? I’m not a tiger.”

“No?”

“I’m more like a porcupine or a beaver.”

“I think you look more like a mini poodle.”

Christina turned red. “I do not!”

Blake smirked, “I dunno, you got the poofy hair and puppy dog eyes. I think--”

“I said I do not!”

“Alright, alright. Porcupine it is. I went ahead and ran a last-minute check while you were snoozing, and so far everything seems A-okay for now. You got the code working, right?”

“Yeah, mostly. It oughta work.”

Blake picked up the box. “Aw, that’s sexy!”

Christina’s eyes bugged out. “What?!”

“Huh? Oh, everything’s just going so sexy right now!”

“But… I don’t... I…” Christina changed the subject. “Uh, do you need any help?”

Blake put the box on his shoulder. “Nah, I got it.”

“Sexy!”

Blake flexed an arm. “Thanks! You’re not too bad looking yourself.”

Christina’s brain exploded. Not literally, of course. Literally, she only froze in place, red as a tomato and stuttering incomprehensibly, while her brain figuratively blue screened, rebooted, and installed an update or two. By the time Blake finished dumping the box’s contents in the basin of the machine, Christina’s brain was confident enough to run itself in safe mode. It carefully guided her body to her laptop, where she then plugged it into the digital readout of the machine and ran the software.

Christina admired Blake’s rear as he cranked the door closed, then followed him to the instrument panel once it was locked shut. Blake counted down from three and flicked a switch. A low hum reverberated in the room. Then, after turning a knob halfway round, a sharp hiss cut through the air and faded to a hollow rumble, while the exhaust hoses began to wobble. Condensation dripped from one of the pipes and the smell of ozone hung in the air. Blake counted down from three again, and then pressed a big red button.

Ka-Chunk!

The floor began to tremble. The overhead lights dimmed and flickered. The whole room was vibrating as endless lines of green text scrolled down the digital readout, and the machine itself rocked and rumbled as it finally roared into life. Blake and Christina watched the meters flicker with bated breath, tensing up as they climbed, and relaxing as they dropped. The minutes stretched like hours. Then, it spun down. Blake turned off the machine step by step, and again the room was quiet. Blake cranked the door open, asking himself why this wasn’t motorized, while Christina waited impatiently at the slowly rising door, bouncing on her feet like a newly adopted mini poodle. Light slowly leaked into the maw of the machine, revealing piece by piece exactly what Christina had ordered it to make: a rubber ball about ten inches in diameter. Christina squealed with glee, snatching up the ball as fast as she could, and then ran off to wash and dry her new toy. When Christina returned, Blake had already started checking for damage inside the machine. While he did that, she resigned herself to looking through the data spat out by the digital readout, rubbing and squeezing her new toy as she worked. Her mind quickly wandered. Then, she jumped onto her laptop and began typing furiously.

~&&~

Christina’s heart was pounding as she fed her modified code into the machine. “Blake must be finishing up, so I need to hurry,” she thought. “I hope this works.” Her head ached with fear as she tiptoed toward the open door, keeping a close eye on Blake, who hunched over awkwardly as he carefully inspected every square inch of it’s protective plating, being too tall to stand erect inside the machine. Now within arm’s reach of the emergency release, she cleared her throat. “Blake?”

Blake flinched, then laughed. “You scared me a little! Yeah, go ahead,” he said and returned to work.

Christina took in a deep breath and tensed up. “Do you…” her face reddened, “have a girlfriend?”

Blake laughed out loud. “Me? No.”

Christina sighed in relief. “Well, I was wondering--”

“I’m married.”

Christina’s world fell out from beneath her feet. “M-married?!” No. No! Not again! Tears of rage welled up in her eyes. Not again! This was the last time the world would conspire against her, while she watched from the sidelines! Not anymore! This time she’d act! With a frenzied shriek, she lunged for the emergency release. Blake’s eyes shot open and he made a pathetic attempt at escape, barely managing to will himself to move before the two and a half ton door swung down like a guillotine and slammed shut in front of his face. The concussive blast sent him reeling, and he toppled against the back wall. Inky black darkness fell like a curtain all around him.

It was several moments before what had just happened sunk in. Blake clambered to his feet and pounded on the massive door, hopelessly bleating an unwarranted apology for a bad joke. He kept pounding, begging for her to open the door. What was she doing? What was going to happen? Blake’s skin began to crawl. Was she going to leave him to starve to death in here?

 

A low hum filled the room.

 

A sharp hiss cut through the air and faded to a hollow rumble.

 

Ozone choked the air.

 

Ka-Chunk!

 

Blake paled and turned to look at it. As the floor trembled, the small room brightened until faintly lit in an orange haze. The room was a small cube, six feet in each direction, while in the center it dropped from the ceiling like some sort of sci-fi death ray. A numb tingling sensation overtook his entire body, as if every pore of his skin was being poked with pins and needles. As the room brightened, his jumpsuit stiffened until it was brittle enough to crumble off his body. Then, his shirt and boxers did the same. As Blake brushed off the dust, clumps of his hair fell out. Radiation poisoning? No, it was something else. The room was almost as well lit as the lab by now, and as his hair dropped to the floor, some of it clung to his naked body like it was a statically charged balloon. On top of that, despite the ozone in the air, he was breathing just fine--better, even. Blake rubbed his hand along his arm, which squealed in much the same way that latex balloons creak when rubbed together. When he gasped, he also noticed that the sort of feeling of your lungs being full was strangely gone. He tried to say, “What’s going on,” but his vocal chords were gone as well.

In that strange way that happens in extraordinary circumstances, fear was overtaken by a rising tide of morbid curiosity. Blake held up his hand and watched it slowly turn from completely opaque to a foggy translucent, while his skin changed color to a disturbingly cheerful shade of light blue. “Okay. I’m a balloon,” he thought. “Okay. This is a first.” He took in a deep breath, and watched his muscled body--one which he was proud of--lose its definition and smooth out into something like a six and a half foot tall Pillsbury Dough Boy. “So. I can inflate like a balloon, too.” This gave him an idea.

Just in the same way he learned from his brief stint as a skin per, Blake took deep breaths before inhaling, pushing out his diaphragm and keeping his shoulders relaxed, though he couldn’t stand up straight. While his muscles smoothed away and his belly bulged, his skin creaked. Every part of his body swelled with each passing second--his arms and legs widened into cones, fingers and toes fattened and became stubbier, his back and rear rounded out with his torso. Blake pressed his hand into his belly and wondered at the softness of his own body. As he inflated, his height shortened, which seemed only logical. He wasn’t stretching yet, only changing shape. His arms stiffened and bent, boneless, against the walls of the room while the hemline of his legs dropped to the floor and his spherical torso pressed into it. Now, he began to feel tight. He continued inhaling nonetheless, hopeful that he could manage to break free… or destroy the machine in the process.

As his body absorbed the last remaining elements of his humanity--even his own head--into one continuous curve, and while his skin ached more with each second, the situation increasingly failed to add up. Despite all efforts, Blake still hadn’t filled the room and, in fact, something about the room had changed. Was it… bigger? Blake stopped and held his breath. It took a few moments to see it, but sure enough the room was bigger. But that didn’t make sense. The room was never designed to change shape. Unless… “Oh my God, I’m shrinking!” Blake exhaled, but as the air escaped his shape remained. Not a finger nor a toe emerged, instead remaining a smooth surface. “Oh no, oh no, no, no, no, no!” The air rushed out in an uncontrollable torrent as Blake felt his mouth stretch forward and his lips stiffen into an O, exactly resembling the mouth of a balloon. The room faded to black and everything went quiet.

~&&~

Sweat dripped down her face as Christina struggled to crank the door open. After settling for halfway up, she took out her phone and turned on the flash, shining it inside the mostly dark room. “Did it work?” Her heart pounded as she scanned the basin with frantic fervor. “Where is he, where is-- There you are!” Christina focused on a deflated light blue balloon, crumpled up in a corner. Gleefully squealing as she did so, Christina scrambled under the door and snatched up the balloon like an easter egg, hugging it like a toy on Christmas. “I’m so happy you’re okay!” Christina crawled out of the machine and headed for the bathroom. “Don’t tell anyone I let you in here,” she joked to the balloon. “Let me give you a bath.”

“Look, Blake… I’m sorry it had to happen like this, I’m sorry. But I just… I love you! I’ve loved you since I first met you, I’ve always wanted to be yours, I’ve always wanted to--to hold you and feel you and,” she blushed intensely, “and I’ve always wanted to puff you up like a balloon! Each and every night, I dream about filling you up with air and it always felt so real. I know you don’t understand, but I need you. I need you to be mine. You’re my balloon, Blake. I’ve always wanted you to be.” She dried off the balloon with a paper towel. “You’re so big, too! I bet you could get to at least five feet across before you pop. I can’t wait to play with you!” Christina walked back to the office space and grabbed Blake’s company ID from his desk, then clocked both of them out. As she waited for the elevator, she couldn’t keep herself from rubbing her hands all over the balloon, feeling her body tingle with excitement at the sensation of tacky, stretchy latex. It would take all of her willpower to keep from inflating her new balloon right then and there, and wait until she got home. Christina leaped into the elevator, pressed “G”, and mashed the close door button. It was already Saturday morning, and she was too excited to sleep. Monday was Columbus Day. The entire weekend was ahead of her, and she’d have every second of it to enjoy herself--and Blake.

Author's Note: 

It's male inflation. I don't really write male inflation very often. I was paid to write this. It was fun. I'm really tired right now.

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