They ate in silence—nourishment was serious business. Cindy continued to sit in the same chair that had given her a lift to Jacob’s dorm. Jacob sat at the little counter behind her. The room was too narrow for both of them to eat at the small desk.
Jacob had gotten everything Cindy wanted. And with every familiar bite, she felt herself relax and let go of the day’s worries. It wasn’t all that bad, was it? She could save up and try again. Others managed to procure the F.A.T.O.F.F. papers; she could too. And she could buy a tits lottery ticket. People won every day. There would be ten winners on In.O.F. Day—ten chances to change one’s life.
Jacob interrupted Cindy’s mental celebration of her imaginary tits lottery win. “What are you thinking about, Cindy? You look so happy right now.”
“Have you ever played the lottery?” Cindy asked.
“You mean the Transdimensional Industries Tanks—”
“Yes, of course. The tits lottery. What did you think I meant?” Cindy was annoyed. Why did this guy have to be so weird?
“Well…” Jacob seemed hesitant.
“Okay, spill it. What problem do you have with playing the tits lottery?”
“Do you actually know anyone who’s won?”
“Of course! Brent Greenwall. Olivia Wong. Tommas Hullaster.”
“No, no. I mean do you know any of them personally? Have you ever known someone who won the lottery?”
“Well, as a matter of fact I do. Olivia Wong’s great-aunt is friends with the woman who works at my cafeteria as a cashier,” Cindy said. Somehow being associated with the winner made her personally proud.
“That’s not what I mean,” Jacob interrupted again. “Do you personally know anyone? Not in a friend-of-a-friend kind of way, but in a real face-to-face kind of knowing? Because I don’t know anyone. Not one person who won. Ever.” He emphasized the word ever.
“Sure I do,” Cindy said. But as hard as she tried, she couldn’t come up with anyone. “Well, I can’t think of a name offhand. But just in my lifetime, there have been over a thousand winners of the tits lottery. A dozen from this city alone. It’s a small world. I’m sure if we thought about it, we would be able to come up with someone.”
“It is a small world. And I’ve been thinking about it and researching it for quite some time. Yet I’ve never come across a real-life tits lottery winner. Ever.” Again the emphasis on the final word.
“That can’t be true. I see them on television all the time.”
“That’s what I mean!” Jacob was so excited he hopped up from his seat, squeezed by Cindy, and moved to sit on the bed across the table from her.
“First, I don’t get what you mean,” Cindy said. “Second, how come there’s nothing on your plate?” She eyed him suspiciously. She was carefully working through the multiple compartments of food on her dinner tray. She was a fast eater, but she hadn’t even finished with her main course of chicken, rice, and gravy yet. And there was still the apple pie dessert and ice cream.
“Oh, I’m done.” He waved her off. “I’m a very fast eater.”
The way he said it made Cindy even more suspicious. But she let it go for now. “Okay. So what do you mean then? Where did they get all those people for the television specials? And where did they get all that footage of them being fat as kids? And photos of their fat families? What of all that?”
“Well, it’s not all that hard, you know,” he said.
Cindy raised her eyebrows in question. Her mouth was full, and it wasn’t polite to talk with a full mouth, not to mention talking at all during dinner. Normal, polite people didn’t talk while eating.
Clearly Jacob wasn’t normal people.
“Do you know the guys in the PR department?” Jacob asked.
Cindy nodded. Dezdemona worked in the public relations department writing copy.
“You’ve seen what they can do to demonstrate the different tits options? All the different ways they can store away the excess fat and shape the final look?” Jacob waved his arms and gesticulated wildly, drawing the different shape options in the air between them.
Cindy pulled back a bit in order not to get hit in the face. Though she was more worried for her dinner—Jacob could easy push it off the table with all that flailing. And Cindy didn’t believe in wasting food.
“Sorry,” he said, noticing her discomfort.
“It’s okay. And yes, I know what you’re talking about. But what about it? Of course people want to make a choice about the type of body they want after spending all that money on it. When I started working for C.O.F.E., the human resources department made me go through the options for when my own F.A.T.O.F.F. application gets approved. I’m sure they did that with you, too?” Cindy turned the last part into a question with the inflection of her voice.
“Sure, sure.” Again, Jacob just waved her off. He seemed eager to make some point. “It’s just that, it’s very easy to make someone look different on TV.”
“Sure it is. We have software that allows us to see our thin body potential. My bathroom mirror does that—it’s an upgrade. Does yours?”
“No. I just have a plain old mirror in there.” Jacob seemed uncomfortable somehow. But he went on, pressing his point. “It’s easy to go the other way, too. Thin to fat at the press of a button.”
“Who would want to do that?” Cindy asked.
“It’s not a matter of wanting to. It’s about it being easy. You take a guy who’s been anchored to tits all his life and then do this computer trick on his photo or video. And boom! He’s fat!”
“Right… but again, who would want to do that?”
“The TV show producers.” Jacob said it like it was completely obvious.
“I don’t know—”
“Just think about it,” Jake interrupted. “You have to make this TV show about someone winning the tits lottery. You don’t really need anyone real. You just get somebody who’s already hooked to tits. And then you push a few buttons to get the ‘before’ pictures. And presto change-o! You’ve got yourself a story!” Jake waved his arms as he talked—he seemed to do that a lot.
“Do you have any photos or videos of yourself as you are now?”
Surely Jacob knew perfectly well that fat people didn’t document themselves visually. And normal people didn’t talk about these things, either.
Seeing the expression on Cindy’s face, Jacob turned red and blurted, “I take that back. I’m sorry, Cindy.”
“I have pictures from when I was a kid. I didn’t get this way until my eighth birthday,” Cindy explained, not that it was any of Jacob’s business.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just that—people don’t have pictures of themselves as they are. The government gives out ‘inspirational’ images of what we might look like if we ever get fully anchored into tits. And there are personal ads and such. But normally, people just don’t make visual records of their fat lives.”
“True. So what’s your point?”
“Think, Cindy. It’s so much cheaper to use a fattening algorithm to create video footage for the TV program than it is to actually pay for someone’s tits. I would do that if I had to do a show. Wouldn’t you?”
“Are you saying the tits lottery is faked?”
“Sure it is. It’s got to be. It doesn’t make any mathematical sense otherwise.” Jacob spoke with total conviction.
Cindy stared at Jacob’s excited face for a long time before returning to her dinner.
She wasn’t convinced.