…What kind of pool supply store hired in January, anyway? Was there a demand for pool stuff in the off season?
Arno frowned, crossing their arms. Heated pools, maybe. Who knew.
Shrugging to themselves, the poodle pushed open the door – intent on, at the very least, asking. Couldn’t hurt, right?
The problem was, the store appeared… closed. Completely closed, as if it had been abandoned over the past year entirely – empty shelves aside from a few dusty boxes, a cobweb here and there. It definitely didn’t fit with the “We’re Open!” sign cheerfully plastered to the front door, which had, apparently, been much dustier on the inside than out.
There’s no reply, beyond the jingling of the bells as the door shut behind them.
This store clearly had been closed for months, at least – half-packed boxes of pool supplies and various cleaning chemicals scattered about in haphazard piles, various toys and floats neatly packed in plastic and stacked for boxes they’d never been placed inside of.
A fine layer of dust coated everything they could see, meaning… there was almost certainly nobody here to stop them from taking a look around, right?
There were aisle after aisle of empty or mostly empty shelves as the poodle wandered around, hoping maybe to find something worth keeping – after all, the place had clearly been left unlocked for a reason. Maybe they were hoping someone would take the stock they couldn’t?
Finally, after almost an hour of exploring, Arno was bored, and they had plenty of other things to get done before the day was over.
They crossed the store for the last time, stepping over a few discarded yellow pieces of folded-up vinyl, before pressing a paw to the door’s handle and pushing.
It… didn’t budge.
Arno tried again, giving it a little more force – but, despite the added elbow grease, the door was… locked?
How could it have locked?!
Grumbling, the poodle turned to look for a rear entrance in the back, stomping back across the store’s floor towards the employees only door – only to almost immediately trip over a discarded box.
Down the poodle went, falling to the floor with a loud, shelf-shaking thud – where they lay for a moment, dazed.
When Arno finally sat back up, they noticed two things almost immediately. The first being that the lights, somehow, had come on – and the second being that something soft and plastic was under their shirt on their tummy, tenting it slightly.
Confused, the poodle lifted their shirt to peek – spotting, to their immense surprise, a small, plastic valve sprouting from where their belly button was just a few moments earlier – fur around it matted down and… shiny?
A cautious poke yielded a shocking sqrrk of poodle pawpad against vinyl plastic, which, before their very eyes, began to spread!
“U-Uh, what? Hello?”
Arno’s first instinct was to try and tug the valve off – but all that did was introduce them to the strange sensation of their newly plasticized skin tugging along with it, stretching and protesting as the skin around it began to change even faster! It swept down below their waistline in just moments, the cool, creeping sensation of vinyl crawling up their chest and around to their back as the poodle scrambled to their feet!
Immediately their balance was thrown off as one of their paws practically exploded outwards into a puffy inflatable poodle footpaw, the legs of their shorts starting to tighten as seams worked their way down the poodle’s legs, the hissing of air filling the dog’s ears as they swelled outwards uniformly, becoming more toyishly proportioned!
The other footpaw followed suit quickly after, along with Arno’s tail – swelling from base to tip like a balloon as, unseen, Arno’s thigh gained a brand new safety warning label.
Every toy has to be safety compliant, after all.
With a loud ripping sound the poodle’s shorts finally gave up the ghost, Arno’s chest soon putting their shirt to the test soon after as seams began to crawl down the poodle’s arms as they waddled about, trying their best to find some way of stopping the changes or to remove the valve behind it all – in vain, much to their chagrin.
Pushing open the door to the employee area, Arno stumbled about as their neck began to swell, fingers mitting together into large pooltoy paws as they finished changing. Maybe if they got out of the store they’d stop changing?
They picked the first exit-looking door they saw as their ears began to swell, hissing loudly as they filled with air – only to discover it was a bathroom.
Grabbing the sink, they stared into the mirror just in time to watch their muzzle plastic over, the corners of their mouth tugging themselves first into a smirk – and then a wide, cartoony grin, which immediately froze into place!
It was over in an instant – and soon enough an inflatable poodle was staring at themselves in an old dusty mirror, a grinning, static face staring back.
They tried one last time to tug the valve free, a last-ditch effort to maybe, just maybe, change back – but only managed to uncap it, the worrying hiss of escaping air reaching their ears just as one of their footpaws began to crumple.
Shuffling out into the hallway, the inflatable poodle managed to make it back out into the store, going flatter with each step…
…only to collapse completely just by the other discarded toys, a flat pile of black and gold plastic, grinning up at the ceiling.