|A day shy of a week ago Robotech Master was out on his e-bike when an SUV struck him and drove off. According to the most recent news available, he passed away from his injuries at around 2:00 this morning. I have kept some news up on his user page and, at this point, ask that anyone wishing to leave messages or tributes do so on either his talk page or another page that can be used for such things. His account here and all of the stories he has gifted the Shifti community with will be preserved in memoriam, as we also did for Morgan.|
A Fine Vintage
By Bryan (Based on an idea by Daniel-San)
I had only been employed at the Manor for a few weeks, but it was already quite clear that I wasn't going to be here much longer. I guess I didn't mind too much. I had given working for an honest living a shot, and it didn't suit me very well at all. I was sure the feeling was quite mutual.
My employer, Mr. Jacobson, had been nothing but obnoxious towards me since hiring me as extra help in the kitchen of his manor house in the country. I guess he thought he was doing me some sort of favor giving me this job. Even worse, the other servants had also all looked down on me; even the maid seemed to think herself superior. I couldn't accept being ordered around like an automaton for much longer, I was far too independent-minded for that.
I could see the writing on the wall, and so decided to quit before he could fire me. And hopefully come out of this situation with both my dignity and a little 'bonus' on the side. Carefully choosing only those valuables which were small and wouldn't be missed very soon, if ever, I waited for a time when few others would be around and collected my pay for the degradation these people had subjected me to. Moving from the top floor downward to the bottom, I wound up in the basement wine cellar.
My pockets were bulging with trinkets worth perhaps as much as 500 dollars at the pawnshop, but the real treasure was down here. Mr. Jacobson was a wine aficionado, and some of the bottles down here must have been worth thousands. Not only that, but there were so many in the wall-to-wall racks that a missing bottle or two wouldn't be noticed until the semiannual inventory. There had just been one, so my biggest theft wouldn't be reported for at least six months if ever.
Trying to figure out which of the bottles of wine was the thousand-dollar jackpot was hard, though; I wasn't very knowledgable about such things myself. I knew that the older the wine the better, so I went down the racks checking the dates listed on the various labels. I found a section of racks off the main rows that seemed dustier and less recently visited than all the rest, and the ages there seemed all over the hundred year mark. I decided that that sounded pretty darn old, and started looking for the oldest of the batch.
There was an awful lot of dust, and after a few minutes my throat felt a little on the dry side. Grinning, I realized that an empty bottle was even less likely to be noticed soon than a missing bottle was. Selecting one, I pulled the cork with a flourish and knocked back a swallow of the wine straight from the bottle.
The wine was rich and smooth, not surprising considering its quality and vintage. I grinned; imagine a low-life like me, drinking hundred-year-old wine. I took another swallow. It felt so good. I leaned back my head and began to chug the alcohol, the warm liquid flowing down my throat and filling my belly.
After about ten seconds of guzzling, my brow furrowed in concern; what was I thinking, drinking this much this quickly? But I couldn't stop just yet, I wanted more. My stomach swelled as the bottle emptied, until finally there was nothing left. I put the empty bottle down beside me and snatched another from the rack, barely glancing at the label this time before popping the cork with my thumbs and beginning to chug this one too. I now realized that something was very wrong with this, and fear gripped my heart, but still I couldn't stop myself. The warm liquid in my belly felt so good, I needed more!
I felt my shirt and pants begin to tighten as my waist expanded, until buttons began to pop and my zipper sprung open. I couldn't even look down, I was too busy sucking back the liquor. My knees began to feel weak and shaky. The second bottle emptied, I dropped it and grabbed another. I felt like my entire midsection was sloshing, but it still wasn't enough to satisfy my intense craving. I raised the third bottle to my lips with some difficulty, my arms were feeling weaker too, and felt my gut swell still further as I drank.
My legs buckled and I fell on my posterior, the drop not as far as I would have expected. I couldn't look down to see what was wrong with my legs, though, since that would have interrupted the flow of wine down my throat. I was sucking on the bottle as if it were air and I was drowning; I needed to get more of that wonderful wine into me! It was an all-consuming compulsion, totally overriding my fear of what it might be doing to me.
The third bottle finished and cast aside, I managed to force myself to look down as I reached for another. I gasped weakly in surprise; my body had swelled out and become cylindrical, rupturing my clothing, and my legs were shrunken and useless. I had difficulty bending over far enough to see that, and my hind end had become so wide and flattened that I doubted I could even make myself tip over. I looked like I was becoming shaped a lot like a wine bottle myself!
Then my grasping hand pulled another bottle from a lower rack, and I reflexively turned my head upward to begin pouring it down my throat too. I tried to stop myself, but it was too late; the steady glugging of the wine as it gurgled down into my stomach had begun, causing the gallons of wine already in there to splash against my insides... I groaned. It felt so good to be almost full of the warm liquid, but at the same time I dreaded what would happen to me when I was.
The fourth bottle finished draining into me, and it was a struggle to bend over even the few degrees necessary to make the empty bottle topple from my mouth. I groaned again, in horror and frustration. Horror because I realized that I couldn't lower my face from its vertical orientation, and my mouth were stuck open in a round "O" like the lip of a wine bottle. And frustration, because I needed only a little more wine to be full. Just a little more! I struggled to reach for the wine rack, but my arms had shrunk down too small to reach another bottle and my legs no longer seemed present at all. With only the small flexibility my body had left I couldn't shift my base from the spot on the floor where it rested; all that my struggles accomplished was to make my contents slosh a little. It felt kind of good on my insides, but that didn't make me any fuller.
Then I heard someone enter the room, and rolled my eyes wildly in an attempt to catch a glimpse of him. It was Mr. Jacobson! I'd made sure he wasn't even in the building when I collected my loot, what was he doing down here? But discovery was the least of my concerns now. I grunted and waved my useless hands to get his attention, the most that I was capable of doing by this point. He walked over to me, and at the sight of him towering over me I was shocked to realize how small I had shrunk. My hollow body desperately wanted him to finish filling it up, but my struggling brain suddenly recognized what was probably my only chance to reverse what was happening to me.
"Empty... me..." I grunted, overriding my gut's drive with a supreme effort. "Please. Pour... out..."
Mr. Jacobson glared down at me fiercely. "Oh, so you don't want my wine any more! Well, tough. You should have thought of that before you tried to steal it from me." With that he took a wine glass from a shelf, opened another bottle, and filled it. I shuddered and began involuntarily straining my neck towards him. I wanted to drink it so badly I thought I might explode...
"To the grape," Mr. Jacobson toasted, and then carefully poured it down my open throat.
"Ahh..." I gasped, part sigh of relief and part strangled scream. I felt the level of the wine inside me rise into my neck, at last satiating my intense craving to be full. At the same time a tingling stiffness swept over me; I felt my arms finish shrinking into nothing, and there was a faint crackling sound in my bones as my flesh became thick smoked glass. I straightened and froze in position.
Mr. Jacobson knelt there beside me for a moment after the final transformation was complete, looking down at me thoughtfully, and then picked me up by my neck and put me on a small table beside the racks of wine bottles I was now virtually identical to. "Please" I pleaded faintly, somehow still able to speak despite my lack of lungs or vocal cords. "Empty me out. Change me back."
Mr. Jacobson shook his head, opening a drawer and reaching inside. "No. You took five bottles of my best-aged wine; now you're going to keep it, until it's been properly aged again." He took a cork out of the drawer and pushed it firmly into my throat, wiring it in place and stifling any further protest. I tried to scream as he sealed me shut with wax, but it was no use. I was perfectly gagged. When he was done he paused for a moment, looking down at my helpless rigid body in his hands. "Just in case you didn't know," he said, "your label reads 'Chateau Prix Honnête'. That means 'fair price'. It makes the wine sound kind of cheap, doesn't it?"
Then he slid me into an empty cradle on the wine rack, where I would spend the next century or two with my stolen wine held safe and untouched within me.