Performance-Based Pay

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I needed the money.

Normally I wouldn't work for an advertising company, but there were two things about the listing that caught my eye: The first was the lack of any prior work history in the field - "absolutely no experience required," that was the wording. The second was performance-based pay, which is normally a turn-off, but the amount they were proposing was an extraordinary sum. So I went in for an interview to see what the job was.

The company was hired to promote Duratex, a producer of so-called "miracle materials." Duratex wanted to show off the durability and elasticity one of their products, so they proposed the creation of a balloon made of it. The advertisers shot this down, saying that a mere balloon wouldn't gain enough interest. They needed something unique that hadn't been done before, but more than that, the advertising needed a human element. After they told me this, I asked what the "human element" they had in mind was. Their reply?

"We want to make you the balloon."

Now you're probably thinking that this is absurd, and you're absolutely right. I balked at the idea, but the interviewer said that the performance-based pay was based on the size of the advertisement, which was to say, me. The larger I got, the bigger the pay.

So now I'm standing nervously in an old airfield outside of town in a skin-tight bodysuit with the Duratex logo across my stomach and a hose firmly wedged in my backside, trailing off to a massive tanker truck. It's not the strangest thing I've had up my butt, and like I said, I needed the money.

...that doesn't really sound any better even with context, does it?

The company had graciously provided me with a headset to communicate with the ground crew, and through the earpiece I heard someone say, "ready when you are."

"Go for it," I replied. Soon after I heard a hissing and felt the rush of gas enter me, cold but warming quickly in my body. Remarkably, inexplicably, I began to swell all over, hips widening, belly and breasts bulging, arms and legs thickening. Both the fabric and my skin stretched as I grew, my torso first becoming rotund, then round, taking up more and more of my shape. My limbs raised up and spread apart, pulled into me as they were reduced to wide, round bumps. Within seconds I had gone from normal to a helium-filled ball with two high domes on front, stretching further as I grew until finally the flow of gas stopped, and I began to lift upward, tethered to the ground by a cord around my ankle.

It was remarkable. There was a feeling of fullness and tension all throughout me, and despite that, a sense of weightlessness. I was concerned about the loss of mobility at first, but after a while it started feeling kind of nice being able to relax.

"You doin' okay?" the crew member asked.

I waved my hands and feet, feeling a little disoriented as they brushed against my arms and legs. Looking out over the curve of my front I tried to judge my size based on the length of the rope and how high I was, figuring I had to have been around ten feet or so. "Yeah, I'm fine." "Fine" was a bit of an understatement, though.

"We can go bigger if you feel up to it."

Bigger. The word stuck in my mind like a splinter. As far as demonstrations for products went I proved a point, with the material stretching several times what you'd expect, and me with it. You could have put me out in front of a store and drawn plenty of attention, but at the same time I felt... well. I was certainly large, but I wasn't -large-, if you understand my meaning. Plus I needed the money.

"I'd l-" I cut myself short, realizing I was about to say "I'd love that." Which wasn't a lie, but I didn't want them to know it. After a second to choose the right words I said, "I can go bigger," hoping I didn't sound too enthusiastic.

"Roger that."

With that the gas began again, and I could hear a low, sibilant hiss coming from inside of me. My body couldn't get rounder, so it just got larger, but as it did it started to feel different. It was like stretching when you get up, that sense of stiffness being worked out, only never going away and happening on its own without you having to move. I watched my chest spread out in front of me as the ground grew more distant, obscured by -me- as I grew larger. The suit stretched along with me, though as it did there was an -interesting- amount of friction which made my experience more enjoyable, enough so that I was forced to stifle my breathing lest the crew catch on. To be honest, I almost didn't need it; the thought of how full and large I was becoming was intoxicating in itself, and I had lost track of time when the ground crew radioed in again.

"You're a good size," he said. I was glad he noticed. "We could probably put you on show in a hot air balloon festival."

"Turn it up," I said, almost without thinking.


"The bigger I get the bigger the pay, right? I want that entire tanker truck in me." In reality it was just an excuse; I needed the money, but I -wanted- the gas, and as it rushed into me full force I got it. My body heaved outward and my mind went fuzzy as every inch of my skin was bombarded with stimulation from outside, across, and beneath it all at once. My body creaked and squeaked deeply, a testament to how large and how fast I was growing. I had since lost sight of the ground, but above me I could see the clouds rapidly approaching. Despite the massive, growing volume inside of me I began panting, no longer caring about what others might think. All I wanted was more, rounder, -bigger-.

Suddenly I felt the tension around my ankle give, somewhere far below, and there was a burst of garbled, panicked shouting coming from my headset. The cord had broken, and as I felt the end of the hose tug me downward I realized that it was the only thing keeping me tethered to the ground. Then that, too, slipped free, a token puff of gas escaping before I drifted up into the misty clouds, the largest balloon anyone had ever seen.

I was almost sad, in a way, that I couldn't keep growing. Though a moment later I began creaking again, and as my hands, feet, and head began to sink into my body I remembered that air pressure was lower the higher you went, and that had dramatic consequences for balloons...


That was several hours ago, and probably several hundred yards smaller, if not more. I can't really see where I am, but judging from how quiet it is I might be in low orbit. I guess breathing isn't a problem because the gas was partially oxygenated, and the sun's been keeping me warm, not to mention heating the gas up in me and causing me to swell even further. Despite this I can feel myself very gradually deflating.

Every so often I can feel something small bump into me, sending vibrations through my body along with the sound of crunching metal; I must be running into satellites. The headset is mostly static, but sometimes I can hear bits of what people are saying, and I guess I'm big enough that people on Earth can see the Duratex logo from space.

I'm not sure when or where I'm going to land. All I know is that the first thing I'm going to do when I cash that check from the advertising agency is to buy a tanker truck full of gas and another one of these suits.

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