Challenge, The

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It’s late afternoon by the time I arrive at the empty stadium. I notice that you’re already there, waiting for me. You’re looking smug, as though you already know the outcome of our little competition. I absent-mindedly finger my navel. I know that if I lose, that wonderfully familiar hose will be pushed into it. I remember well the sensation of my belly swelling as you pump it full of air. This time, it won’t be as easy...

“Hello! Sorry I’m late,” I apologize to you. “I had to get a few things ready, so that I could meet your challenge.”

“I think you’ll look great as I blow you up until you can’t hold any more,” you smile. “And then I’ll hold my ears as you pop.”

“I think you might be surprised,” I reply. “I’ve done a little preparation for this.”

“It won’t help. You have to inflate me, then pop me, to win. When you lose, I’m going to have some fun with that belly of yours...”

“Remember the agreement...if I don’t get you to burst, you can only fill me with half the amount of gas you’re containing. I hardly think that’ll be enough to do much of anything.” I know that my arrangements will give me a definite edge in this contest. Hearing you blow apart will be music to my ringing ears!

“Let’s get started,” you say, as you expose your bellybutton. “And remember the other part of the only have three puffs to blow me up. You can’t win!” As you laugh, I notice that you’re wearing loose-fitting clothing, with lots of give to it. So, I think to’re not so confident after all!

I walk over to you, then run my hand over your stomach. It’s firm, but with plenty of room for growth. I shrug, as I reach into the satchel I’m carrying. I remove a hose which I’ve designed myself, just for the occasion. It’s long, and terminates in twenty smaller hoses. “Ladies?” I call out. I note the puzzled look on your face, and chuckle. “Oh, I forgot to tell you...I’ll be working with the ladies’ Olympic weightlifting team. Quite a set of lungs they have between them!”

I see you fishing for words, as I insert the single end of the hose snugly into your navel. I hand the other ends to the dazzling Amazons. The spandex material covering their chests stretches to near-transparency, as their bosoms swell with their first enormous inhalation.

“Puff number one,” I announce, as the buxom troupe, lips firmly clamped on their end of the hose, exhales in unison. Your face reddens as you resist the charge of air. “Not that easily,” I smirk, as I produce a snow white feather, and bring it closer to your stomach. Ever so gently, I begin to trace a circle around the hose’s insertion point. “Relax,” I coo, “this’ll feel good.” I see your belly quiver, then notice just the faintest trace of a puffiness surrounding the hose. I brush the feather around your bellybutton more rapidly, and I’m rewarded by a sudden bulging. Resistance gone, your gut balloons outward.

The incredulous look on your face is priceless! “Again, now ladies,” I direct. “Deep breaths, as deeply as you can take them!” The chorus line of shimmering spandex heaves mightily, then pauses, waiting. “Puff number two!” I call to them. I turn to observe you as the air shoots forth from twenty ruby-lipped human compressors. The hose stiffens with pressure, as the gas slams into you. I place one hand on either side of your girth, nearly purring with satisfaction as your stomach acknowledges the augmented pressure. You suddenly swell outward, skin stretching fairly tightly. You’ve grown a good deal, but not nearly enough to explode.

I’m starting to feel a little less confident as the Olympian titans prepare for their third, and final, assault. You have that knowing look on your face, and I feel my navel twitch in anticipation. Not yet, I think. We’ll pop you yet! “Deepest, fullest breath, now!” I shout the command. “Inhale until you feel like your lungs are about to burst!” A ripping noise, followed by several others, greets our ears as spandex screams and flees the straining chests. “More...more...NOW!!!!!!” I bellow. I hold your belly in my hands, stroking it, almost trying to coax it to blow apart. I’m aware that it’s’re nicely distended...but not nearly enough. It begins to jiggle as you quake with laughter.

“Ah, that felt good,” you grin, patting your well-bloated belly. “Just like a tiny meal.”

I look up at you with trepidation. “Ah...I suppose this would mean that you’re not going to burst?” I ask, meeting your glee-filled gaze. You smile, shaking your head. “I guess it’s my turn, now?” You nod. “Well,” I snicker, “at least I know that you won’t be bursting ME this time, either. Half the amount of gas you’re holding will blow me up considerably, but it certainly won’t make me pop.” My bellybutton starts itching like mad, so that it’s almost a relief when you reach behind you for the tank of gas, then insert the nozzle. “Are you upset that you can’t overinflate me this time?” I ask, as you turn the valve. The sudden hissing is oddly soothing. I relax as I feel the familiar pressure flooding into me.

“I’m not upset at all,” you reply. “Half is quite enough. Hold this, will you?” You hand me one end of a length of string. The other end is tied around the tank.

“What’s this for?” I inquire, puzzled. You fully open the valve, and the instant rush of gas immediately balloons my stomach. The sudden increase in pressure begins to bloat me impossibly. Lightheaded, I imagine that I’m floating above the ground. With a shock, I realize that I’m not imagining it at all! Slowly, lazily, I drift upward, tethered only by the hose in my bellybutton and the string I’m desperately clutching. “You cheat!” I exclaim.

“We never specified the type of gas we’d use,” you offer with a shrug.

“Why helium? Out of curiosity.”

“You’re smart. I think you’ll figure it out,” you chuckle. Squeezing my plump belly, you find that I’m half as filled as you. You remove the hose, watching in bemusement as I bob up and down, clinging to the string.

“The bottom line is, you still didn’t inflate me until I exploded. I guess you haven’t scored a complete victory.”

“Guess not,” you wink, as you produce a pair of very shiny, very sharp scissors. I float helplessly, as you bring the lethal points ever closer.

“Hey! What do you think you’re doing with those?” I cry in alarm. In one fluid movement, you snip the string. I hover for an instant, then begin to ascend. “Very funny,” I call down to you, as you grow smaller and smaller beneath me. “Just wait until I get down!”

“We’ll have a rematch,” you shout back up to me, but your words are nearly lost in the distance. It’s colder, and becoming somewhat harder to breathe. I begin to feel a little fuller. Then fuller still. My arms and legs quickly swell up to join the rest of my steadily expanding form. The pressure inside me continues to increase. Suddenly, I recall third grade science.

“Damn!” I have to laugh, appreciating your ingenuity. “You’ve done it again!” Just ahead, a bright red child’s balloon bursts from internal pressure. I continue to rise, the air thinning about me, my overblown body bloating outward to accommodate. At last, my tautly stretched, paper-thin skin offers surrender. There’s an odd creaking noise, as the gas in me launches a final assault on my drum-tight belly, strains for release, and finds it, in a very explosive way...

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