Conrad watched the trap intently. It looked perfect, the bait was planted and the trigger was hanging on a sliver. If the target wasnt caught this time, fate must really have it in for him.
His partner, Shandra, chewed a piece of gum as she watched, unimpressed. Looks real nice and everything, she said, adjusting her grip on the hefty piece of equipment slung over her shoulder. But you and I both know its not going for that donut.
Their quarry was a creature called a Quarrite, and it was the kind of thing you might get if you crossed a polar bear and a chunk of granite. Their research station was located in a very hostile and remote part of the country, and they were used to having to deal with threats such as this. Fortunately for them, the Quarrite, much like a regular bear, found sweet foods irresistible, and made their capture much easier.
Even if it doesnt get caught in the trap, Conrad replied, I still have the tranq gun.
Yeah, and when you miss that shot too, I get to fire up the sonic resonator and scare the sucker away again, Shandra muttered, blowing a bubble. Just remember, its your ass on the line.
Yeah, yeah. Conrad looked around through the scope. Finally, about a hundred meters away through the thicket, he saw it. All right, quiet down. I see him.
The quarrite lumbered about on six hefty legs. Its skin was thick and pebbly; the only spots that looked even slightly vulnerable were around its larger joints. It even shook the ground slightly as it walked.
Suckers a lot biggern I thought, Shandra whispered. Suddenly it leaned back to get a higher look and sniffed the air.
It smells it, Conrad whispered anxiously. Conrad wasnt what many would call a professional. He had actually just snagged the donut after their last meeting, and spent about fifteen minutes putting the trap together in the field. To his credit, however, the bait seemed to be working just as well.
The behemoth sniffed at the donut doubtfully, and suddenly the trap sprung. The two hunters tensed as the chain trap snapped closed on thin air, and the Quarrite reared back to let out a fearsome roar.
Shoot it! Shandra hissed.
Conrad only had time for one shot the Quarrite had spotted them. He closed the bolt, took aim for the beasts neck
And watched as the dart clattered harmlessly off its armored jaw. Shandra fired off the device, letting out a terrible wail and sending the Quarrite running in fear. Conrad shoved the stock of his rifle into the dirt dejectedly.
Third time, Shandra pointed out, shaking her head. Wait til the boss hears.
Conrads boss had a bit of a reputation. He was known as a forgiving man, but one that nobody wanted to cross or disappoint for that matter. Conrad sat across from his desk, head down in shame.
You know I like you Conrad, the supervisor said.
But we just dont have time for these delays. We need the creature caught.
I accept responsibility, sir.
I appreciate your candor, son. The man drew a document of some sort and quickly filled it out. He put it in an envelope and sealed it before handing it to Conrad.
Take this down to room B173 and give it to the doctor. It has your next assignment and youll need some work done.
Conrad scowled unhappily, but took the envelope regardless.
Well catch the creature this time, the supervisor grinned.
Thank you sir.
The rumors were well spread of the supervisors unorthodox methods of punishment. Rather than suspension or pay cuts, he preferred to offer alternate methods of paying the organization back, usually through undesirable jobs. The rumors went on, but like most, Conrad was quite skeptical of some of the tales.
Room B173 was in the basement, not far from loading and shipping. He walked in and found what looked like a regular patients room at a doctors office. There was some odd-looking extra equipment, but the exam table looked quite normal. The doctor himself was somewhat older and balding, but appeared quite competent and reassuring.
Hi there, he greeted. Got something for me?
Yeah, Conrad muttered, handing him the envelope. What is this place, exactly?
Restructuring, the doctor replied casually, reading over the paper. First time, I see
oh, you must have ticked your supervisor off good.
What do you mean?
He has you slated for bait.
Conrad winced. Great, so he was the bait for the next attempt to capture the Quarrite. Thanks, boss.
So what does that mean?
Well not to worry. Well get you through this and back to normal as soon as possible.
Back to nor-?
Oh, my name is Dr. Eckley, by the way. Have a seat, please.
Conrad sat on the examination table as the doctor rifled through some cabinets.
Remove your clothing and take both of these. The doctor held out a pair of pills, one a tablet and the other a coated capsule.
Conrad obediently stripped, but looked at the pills suspiciously. What are these supposed to do, slow my heart rate or something?
The doctor handed him a paper cup of water. Theyre more designed to
make you more appealing to a Quarrite.
Fabulous, Conrad muttered, swallowing both pills.
Theyre on a time release, the doctor explained. One will start immediately and the other should begin to have an effect as the other finishes.
What kind of effect?
Well, youll see soon enough.
Conrad didnt like the sound of that. Luckily, he didnt have to wait long. Within seconds, he began noticing his hands getting sweaty. Ew, he muttered, wiping them off on the paper covering the exam table.
Oh, please dont do that, Doctor Eckley requested. Thats supposed to happen.
Yeah? Im supposed to sweat like a
what is that smell?
Conrad had picked up a sweet smell in the room, but couldnt find its source. Suddenly, it dawned on him. Oh, very nice, he grimaced. My sweat smells like sugar.
Are you noticing anything else yet? the doctor asked, taking down some personal notes.
His skin was getting soft. He touched his arm with one finger and found it gave a good deal. What the hell is this?
Its all part of the process, the doctor waved him off as Conrad felt his skin all over growing soft and doughy. He watched in disgust as he noticed his skin growing slightly darker as well.
What the HELL
You should lie down, the doctor advised. The second capsule should be taking effect soon.
You mean it HASNT? Ahh!
Conrad felt his middle swelling up and his balance began to slip.
Lay down on your stomach, the doctor emphasized. And you should remove your underwear too, if youre able.
What am I filling with?
Its a compound I created that shouldnt have any-
In simple terms!
Conrad finally obeyed, modesty be darned. He felt his arms and legs bulk up as he barely undressed in time and lay all but helpless on the table, sweating the sweet sugary scent from his pores. This is what my boss signed me up for?! he yelled as his crotch and armpits began to bloat up beneath his rapidly swelling limbs.
Oh, stop complaining, Ive done this a dozen times.
Conrad found that to be little comfort as his arms and legs were absorbed more into his growing body. He felt his insides turn to goo as his head lifted up off the table. His stomach gurgled fragilely and he coughed once, ejecting white cream from his mouth.
Try not to lose too much cream or glaze, the doctor reminded him. You dont want to have to go through this all over again.
Conrad couldnt feel his legs, and his hands were sinking further into still-expanding body. He imagined he must be much larger by now. This is not co-ugg
gack! His speech was cut off by a gargle as his mouth filled with more of the thick cream. A little more leaked out before he felt his mouth slowly seal itself shut. Dr. Eckley leaned over with a towel and wiped off his face or at least his front, since he no longer had a neck. Slowly, the remains of Conrads hands and feet receded until the cream had completely rounded him out. Except for his eyes, Conrad was indistinguishable from an éclair.
Finished? the doctor asked. Conrad wiggled a little, looked around expectedly, and realized that it was finished. Feeling beaten, he attempted a nod.
Like I said, dont worry, Ive done this a dozen times before, and weve returned all of them to normal at the end. Oh, one last thing I forgot
Conrad listened as the doctor lowered the machine above him. He felt something cool coat his back and writhed under the soothing, if unbearably provocative sensation.
Your boss wanted me to give you a chocolate frosting too. The image of himself as a giant pastry being decorated for presentation forced its way into Conrads head. He squinted his eyes wanting to clench his fingers or toes only to remember he no longer had them. And there we are. All finished!
Woohoo, Conrad thought miserably. The only thing that could make this worse
There was a knock at the door. Come on in, hes finished! the doctor called pleasantly. Conrads partner Shandra walked in and burst out laughing.
I heard the boss got you good, but I didnt think it would be THIS good, she grinned. Conrad felt himself slump.
Look! she called, waving a camera. Gonna take lots of pictures out in the woods today.
Conrad didnt know if he still had eyebrows, but he tried his best to cross them. He watched miserably as they brought in a cart to wheel him away.
Remember, Conrad, no moving around when youre in the trap! Dr. Eckley said. If you scare the Quarrite away, well have to go through the whole process again!
We wouldnt want that, now would we? Shandra winked.
Worst assignment ever, Conrad thought.