Minimum Wage, part 5: Apprentice Baker

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Jason had taken a summer job at the Franzetti bakery in order to bulk up. He was ashamed of his small, thin physique, and wanted a job where he would have a chance to get some exercise. At the same time, he didn't want to be out sweating during the hottest months of the year. He thought that kneading bread dough would be a good work out.

Franzetti's bakery was known throughout New York City for the light, fluffy, and tangy sourdough bread it turned out in surprisingly high quantity. According to Mr. Franzetti, this was because of their proprietary sourdough starter, containing a rare strain of yeast that could raise a loaf in a matter of hours, and were impervious to acid and salt. The yeast worked so quickly, in fact, that if a loaf was left an hour too long before baking, it would dissolve into a slimy puddle.

Mr. Franzetti explained that Jason would be at the register during the busy hours, and on breadmaking at the beginning and end of the day. He was replacing a longtime employee named Hector who had a drinking problem. "We knew he hit the bottle on the job occasionally, so we told him not to bring booze to work. Then one night I was closing up, and I catch Hector drinking a cup of starter. He thought the yeast produced alcohol like in beer! After that, I knew I had to let him go. I was sorry to do it, but I can't have someone like that working for me."

That evening, after Jason had shaped the loaves, he considered Mr. Franzetti's words. His parents were strict teetotalers, and he had never had so much as a sip of wine at dinner. Jason didn't dare try to get a fake ID, for fear of getting caught and being grounded for life. Maybe the starter wasn't very alcoholic, but it was still "liquid bread", and it had to taste something like beer.

Carefully, he ladled some out into a cup and drank it. It was runny and sour, and he didn't want more. Carefully he washed out the cup and ladle and closed up shop.

Jason had a dinner date with his girlfriend, Rina, at a local pizza parlor. As they were eating, he felt a bit of wind. He tried to hold it back, but it kept building up until it found release, downwards, making quite a bit of noise. Rina glared at him, but he apologized. A few minutes later, however, he felt gassy again. He clenched as hard as he could, but the pressure kept growing and growing until he couldn't contain it anymore. The cycle repeated several times until Rina finally pushed her plate back and stormed off in disgust.

The gas returned the next morning as Jason was on his way to work, and he got some angry looks on the bus. It had cleared up by the time the store opened and he got on the register. The store was very busy that day, and he wolfed down the calzone he had bought for lunch in a couple minutes.

As he was working the register, Jason started feeling gassy again. He knew that breaking wind in front of customers on his first day would be a bad career move, so once again he tried to hold the gas back. Fortunately, standing seemed to afford him more "leverage" than sitting, and he was able to maintain his dignity, even as his discomfort mounted. As he worked away at the steadily-growing line of customers, he felt his shirt come untucked from his jeans. Glancing downward, he saw his stomach bulging out like rising bread dough. He knew if he didn't release the pressure soon, he'd be in real trouble, but he couldn't take a break with customers at the register, and every time the line was almost empty, a few more customers would manage to get in.

Jason groaned inwardly as the pressure continued to mount. Fortunately, the counter and register hid his growing gut from view, but his last customers must have wondered why he was standing so far back. At last, the final customer had been dealt with, and Jason could slip out to the alley the store shared with the Muslim butcher's shop next door.

Ripping off his apron and yanking his shirt up to his chest, Jason saw that his belly would look at home on a woman well into the third trimester. Finally, he relaxed his clenched innards -- to no effect. He waited for several seconds, nervously listening to his stomach gurgle and hiss as it continued to gradually expand, but when nothing else happened, he pressed his hands against his belly, trying to press the gas out. Its surface was taut and rubbery, like a sitball, and despite his best efforts, his hands were forced outward until they barely dented the surface.

As Jason wracked his brain for a solution, he became aware of his jeans cutting into his waist, and suddenly realized that their waistband was constricting the gas's escape route. Quickly, he tried to open up his jeans, but the tension on the zipper frustrated his efforts; then, it slipped out of his hands entirely as his belly waxed still larger. Bending at the hip put even more pressure on the fly, but still it held. Desperate now, Jason grabbed the legs of his jeans and pulled. The fabric slipped out of his hands, and his torso sprang back to attention with enough momentum to launch him into the air. He screamed in terror as he rose thirty feet and did a complete backflip before landing unsteadily on his feet. Jason knew he was lucky to still be standing; he didn't think he could get up in his current state, and he needed his body weight to help force him down. He didn't want to think about what would happen if the gas continued to build...

Getting a more secure grip on his pants legs, Jason pulled with all his might. The groaning sounds coming from his belly were interrupted by a faint popping sound from the front. The strained denim pressed into his "equipment", and he briefly considered life as a eunuch.

Just as his arms were getting numb, the front of his jeans popped open. With a deafening whoosh, Jason deflated back to normal size. Quickly he threw on his apron and ducked back inside.

As the weeks went on, Jason's condition got harder and harder to deal with. Every time he had an "incident", his belly bulged bigger, faster. It took progressively less gas to visibly inflate his stomach, and he had steadily less time between becoming aware of the pressure and being able to excuse himself before other people noticed. His parents wondered why he had taken to wearing baggy overalls and running up to his room for no particular reason. As midday temperatures approached 100 degrees, he longed to take a swim in the local pool, but he would be hard-pressed to explain his copious stretch marks and protruded navel, which he could not seem to press back in.

He got the gas several times a day, and eventually worked out that it was worst after meals. With this in mind, he tried varying his diet, and after some experimentation (and another brush with explosive decompression) he worked out that food containing flour or sugar caused the most gas. As he was puzzling over that fact, his mind suddenly wandered back to that night he had tasted the sourdough starter. Those yeast must have colonized his stomach! And every time he consumed wheat- or sugar-containing food, they fed on it and produced the gas that was making his life miserable.

He knew what his problem was, but the solution eluded him. Even chugging a cup of salted vinegar didn't cure him, and he rejected bleach and ammonia out of hand. Then he remember the former employee, Hector, who had been drinking the starter for years, but no one had mentioned him having these types of symptoms. Perhaps by interviewing him, Jason could figure out why!

After a lengthy search, Jason tracked him down to a hospital, where he had died of cirrhosis. Although he knew this was a bad time to feel sorry for himself, Jason had expended his only lead, and his condition had gotten so bad that all he could wear were overalls, since any other clothes would expose his ballooning belly before he even felt it expand.

Jason could only think of one more option. If he couldn't kill the yeast directly, he could starve them. He adopted a strict flour- and sugar-free diet. It was bland as hell, but it seemed to work, as the gas didn't trouble him again.

On his last day of work, Mr. Franzetti called Jason in the morning and told him to skip breakfast. When he got in, Mr. Franzetti told him something that made his heart sink. The baker in charge of taste testing was out that day, and Jason would have to take his place. He would have to sample from every batch of muffins, rolls, cinnamon buns, and pastries the shop put out. Jason was terrified of what would happen when all those sugary baked goods hit his stomach.

As he ate his way through the day, Jason noticed that he had eaten more in a few hours than he had ever eaten in a day, and yet he didn't feel full. More importantly, he didn't feel gassy. Had he finally overcome his condition?

Little did Jason realize that although most of the yeast in his stomach were indeed dead, a few were merely dormant from lack of food. Repeated swelling had stretched his stomach to several times its original size, and the dormant yeast awoke to a veritable feast of partially-digested bread.

As Jason scarfed down yet another donut and gave the batch his OK, he felt an all-too-familiar gurgling noise. Horrified, he asked to step out a minute, then quickly ducked into the back. In the time it took him to to reach the alley door, he had already ballooned to full-term-with-twins proportions. Thus, when he reached it, he failed to take his new dimensions into account, and *BOING*ed off it, landing hard on the tile floor. As he recovered from his daze, Jason felt the straps of his overalls digging into his shoulders. After a brief attempt to unfasten them was thwarted by the tension, he decided to just make a break for the door and got to his feet as quickly as he could.

Maneuvering the inward-opening door around his bulging belly took precious seconds, but Jason got it done, and was mere inches from his goal when he ground to a halt. Jason groaned as he realized that with no way to expand forward, his stomach had spread to the sides, and he could no longer fit through the doorframe. He twisted this way and that, but every second the doorframe's vice grip grew tighter, until he could no longer budge forwards or backwards.

Desperate now, Jason pondered his options. He could release the gas here and now, but with the door open, everyone in the back, and possibly the front as well, would hear it. He'd lose his job, get a bad recommendation for any new ones, and become the laughingstock of the city. On the other hand, at least he'd be alive.

As Jason was considering this, he felt the inflation spread from his belly outwards. With both its forward and sideways expansion blocked, his stomach was leaking gas into other parts. His hips and rear took up what little slack the overalls had left to offer, pinching his privates until he couldn't feel them anymore, and the curve of his belly crept upward towards the neck of the overalls. His pectorals ballooned, briefly taking on the appearance of massive breasts before flowing together and merging with the growing mound that was taking over his body. The inflation even starting creeping along his back.

As his shoulders and thighs began to swell and stiffen, Jason thought quickly and hooked them around the doorframe. With his inflation now fighting itself, he slowly, agonizingly, inched forward in the doorframe until he suddenly popped loose, falling forwards and sliding on his belly for a moment before coming to a stop. The pneumatic-mounted door swung shut behind him. Gasping with relief, Jason unclenched himself.

Nothing happened.

For a few moments, Jason thought his muscles must be stiff from exertion, but when he had not started deflating several seconds later, he realized to his horror that his ass was inflated so large that it was pinching off the balloon that was his stomach!

With no other options left, Jason used his feet to push himself, inch by inch, towards the delivery entrance of the hallal butcher's shop. He intended to find a suitably sharp implement to puncture himself with. As dangerous as he knew this was, it had to be safer than simply exploding. He had reached the middle of the deserted loading dock when it finally happened. Unable to bear the strain, the straps of his suspenders finally gave out. Free from all restraints, Jason's body assumed a spherical shape, with only stubby arms, legs, and head protruding from the giant ball. The sudden expansion of gas knocked him backwards, onto his feet.

He tottered back and forth for a few moments, before gravity won out, and he slowly tipped onto his rounded back, bouncing a few times before coming to relative rest. After struggling fruitlessly for a few moments, Jason admitted to himself that the battle was over, and he had lost.

As the gurgles and hissing from deep inside his gut were drowned out by the squeaks and groans of his overinflated body, it occurred to Jason that even microorganisms that can survive acidity and salinity could be killed by sufficient concentrations of alcohol.

"In breaking news, an explosion in Brooklyn today leveled a butcher's shop next to the famous Franzetti bakery. Police rushing to the scene discovered what they describe as the remains of an Islamic terror cell, including high explosives and a detailed map of the New York City subway. No word yet as to the cause of the explosion, but we have unconfirmed reports that an employee of the bakery is missing. More information as the story develops."

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This is honestly probably one of my favorite inflation stories in the whole Library! I really wish more stories would focus on yeast as the main inflation method. Those kinds of stories are sadly so rare...