(A commission for Tom, starring himself! The otter indulges himself a bit at a buffet.)
Milly sighed as she walked towards her boss's office. The feline was already having a rough afternoon. She had already been yelled at three times, threatened twice, and had spaghetti dumped on her head once, and it was only a few hours into her shift.
Still, that was all part of working in food service. She took a deep breath, straightened her apron and stepped into the office.
"You wanted to see me, Michael?" She asked.
Her boss, a male skunk, looked up from his laptop computer. "Ah! Milly, yes, I did. I've got a favor to ask of you. There's a potential problem customer at the buffet."
Milly raised an eyebrow. She was well-versed in the kinds of customers that could be "potential problems."
"So I want you to keep an eye on him for a few minutes," Michael said. "Just to make sure everything's fine. I'll have Sally take over the tables you were waiting. Okay?"
Milly sighed. She really did not want to have to deal with this... but she also was being given the chance to basically take a break for a bit while on the clock, assuming nothing actually went wrong. "Alright, sounds good."
"Thanks, Milly. You're the best. He's a male otter, wearing glasses. Last I heard he was at the buffet," Michael said, already going back to his laptop.
Milly shrugged and headed back to the main floor.
It was a buffet-style restaurant, with long counters running along the entire length of the large room. Tables were set up nearby for customers to eat at, and on the other side of the counter lay the kitchens. Milly was currently on the employee side, where chefs hustled to finish cooking and replace the trays of food.
Her heart skipped a beat as she noticed a commotion. She moved swiftly and skillfully, dodging between other workers as she made her way to the buffet counter.
Well, so much for this being easy. At least she had found the otter.
He was on the shorter side, with brown fur and a cream-colored underbelly. He was wearing no clothing, other than a pair of rectangular glasses and a messenger bag over one shoulder. This wasn't that unusual -- Milly herself was wearing only her apron (a requirement when working with food) and plenty of furry folk opted to go without anything more than their fur.
What was unusual was that this otter was shoveling fried chicken straight down his throat.
He wasn't even bothering to load them onto a plate -- he was just grabbing whole pieces of fried chicken off the tray and tossing them into his mouth, bone and all. Other employees nearby were staring in shock. Already, in just the time Milly had been watching, he had eaten more than would be a full meal for her! Where was he putting it all?
Milly took a deep breath and put on her best "customer service" smile. "Excuse me, sir, I'll need to ask you to..."
Then Milly froze.
After the otter had finished with the chicken, he had swallowed the tray.
Milly blinked. Was she seeing things? It had happened so fast that she wasn't sure. The otter had somehow just... jammed the entire metal rectangle into his jaws. It had momentarily made a bizarrely-shaped bulge in his throat, and then it was gone.
The otter had already moved on to the next tray, which held pieces of corn-on-the-cob. These, too, he devoured, not bothering to strip the corn, but swallowing the cobs whole, tossing the buttery vegetables straight into his gullet.
"S-sir!" Milly tried again. "You can't just...!"
And then that tray, too, vanished.
The next was covered with mashed potatoes. The otter regarded it for a moment, and then apparently decided that it would be too much trouble to try to eat that with his bare hands. Instead, he picked up the entire tray, still covered with food, and slid it into his mouth.
Milly swallowed hard. This was impossible. How could this otter possibly be doing this? How did his mouth open that wide? Where was he putting it!? His stomach still looked as flat as ever!
She caught movement in the corner of her vision. One of her other coworkers, a female squirrel, had moved to grab the next tray on the counter. Possibly she was intending to yank it away before the otter could devour it.
"W-wait...!" Milly tried to shout.
But it was too late. The otter had already grabbed the other end of the tray, which was covered in pieces of steak, and shoved it into his mouth.
The squirrel, still gripping the tray, let out a yelp as she was suddenly yanked forward. Before Milly had a chance to even take a step towards her, she was vanishing into the otter's gullet. His lips stretched easily to take in her head, then shoulders, then chest. Milly saw the outline of the squirrel's startled face in the otter's throat, before it vanished, only to be replaced by the bulge of more of her body sliding in to replace it. Before long, the squirrel's kicking legs and thrashing tail vanished between the otter's lips, and disappeared into his still-flat stomach.
The otter stopped for a moment and ran his tongue across his lips.
Milly swallowed hard. Had she actually just seen that? Had that been real? Her coworker was just... gone. And it had happened so fast! She looked around to see if anyone else had seen it, seeking corroborating evidence that she wasn't just going crazy.
To her surprise, she wasn't the only one who had seen it. A male rabbit had been standing next to the whole affair at the buffet. He was now staring at the otter, trembling hands still holding a half-filled plate.
"Did... did you just...?" The rabbit started.
He didn't get to finish. The otter turned to face him, reached forward, grabbed the sides of the rabbit's head with both hands, and then shoved him head-first down his gullet. The rabbit was gone in a flash, his plate of food going with him, his furry body disappearing into the otter's throat. It only took a moment before kicking legs vanished behind closing teeth, and the otter was licking his lips again.
And it turned out, the otter was only getting started.
He moved his way down the counter, devouring literally everything he could get his hands on. Entire platters of food, and tongs or serving dishes, and any customers or staff who got within arm's reach vanished into the otter's hungry gullet. The only reason that Milly was spared was because she had the good sense to stay a distance back, watching the entire affair with morbid fascination. The otter decimated the buffet without ever dropping his cheerful, friendly air, like what he was doing was completely normal. Eventually, he had cleaned out the entire counter, and no small number of staff members and other customers had disappeared down his throat.
Apparently that wasn't enough.
The otter, smacking his lips and patting his belly -- which was only showing the slightest bit of a bulge at this point -- wandered towards the dining area. He walked up to a table where a family of mice were eating. They all looked at him in surprise, probably wondering why another customer was approaching their table. They found out soon enough, when he grabbed the back of the chair nearest to him, and started stuffing it, along with the mouse sitting into it, into his mouth.
The table went next, along with all the food, dishes, and the rest of the mice. Bizarre shapes bulged out his throat before vanishing into his belly, disappearing along with the rest of his meal.
He moved across the dining area, devouring table after table, along with all the customers sitting at them, as well as anyone else who came within range. The insatiable otter was a force of nature, moving across the buffet like a whirlwind, devouring everything that came close. Other guests had started to realize what was going on, but the majority made the mistake of choosing not to flee, perhaps believing this was all some strange piece of performance art. Instead they stayed, eyes wide, watching the unusual show until they became a part of it.
Once he had finished clearing out the dining area, Milly wondered if he was finished.
"What the heck is going on out here!?"
Michael was stomping out of his office and heading towards the dining area. He looked around, his eyes wide with disbelief. "What... what happened to all the tables!?" He shouted. His eyes fell on the otter. "You! What are you doing!?"
"W-wait!" Milly tried to call out.
She was too late. Michael had already marched up to the otter -- only for the otter to leap up and clamp his mouth down over his head. Soon, the skunk's massive tail was being slurped down that bottomless throat.
The otter gave his belly a firm pat. It was visibly distended now, but not by that much -- just a slight outward bulge on his otherwise sleek figure. Certainly not big enough to have literally half a restaurant crammed inside.
The otter, meanwhile, was heading back towards the kitchens. Apparently he was going for the other half, too.
Milly wasn't sure how long it had been. She had decided to stay away from the kitchens, cowering near the door to Michael's office. She kept her eyes closed, though she could hear the occasional clunk of machinery, or the shout of surprise of one of the kitchen staff.
Eventually, though, she heard footsteps approaching, and she forced herself to open her eyes.
The otter was standing over her, his stomach now enormous. It was a massive bulge in the otter's otherwise sleek underbelly, a large, round ball that gurgled occasionally. Sometimes Milly would see a bulge, or the outline of a paw push out. What was it like in there? Was she about to find out?
"That was delicious!"
Milly's eyes snapped up to meet the otter's, who was giving her a friendly smile. He reached out and dropped something, and by instinct, she caught it.
It was a roll of bills -- and by the look of it, it was a lot of money.
"Definitely the best value I've had at a buffet! You've earned that tip."
Milly stared at the bills, then back up at the otter.
"Th... thank you, sir."
The otter nodded, licked his lips, and turned towards the door.
"Yes," he said, seemingly more to himself than to Milly, running one hand over his belly as he pushed the door open. "That was an excellent appetizer."
And then he was gone.
Richard couldn't help but notice the otter. He was just walking out of the same buffet that the wolf was about to head into. The otter had a distended midsection -- someone had overdone it a bit at the buffet, Richard though -- but evidently was satisfied with his meal, judging by the smile on his face. He supposed he couldn't blame him: who didn't like to overindulge at an all-you-can-eat buffet every now and then?
Richard passed the otter and pushed the door of the buffet open, stepping inside. And his eyes went wide.
The entire place was empty -- not just empty of customers, but of everything. There were no tables or fixtures at all, just a large, empty space. Had the restaurant moved to another location? But the sign was still on the outside of the building!
Then he saw her, a female feline wearing an apron. She was sitting on the floor in the empty room, staring dazedly at something in her hand.
"Excuse me?" Richard asked, walking towards her. "What... what happened here?"
She looked up at him, her tone surprisingly casual. "He... he did this."
Richard glanced back over his shoulder. "That otter I just saw leaving?"
The feline nodded. "And you know what?" She said, with a tone like someone laughing internally at an inside joke.
"I don't think he's done yet."
Richard wondered what she meant, as the walls of the building started to rumble.
Tom ran his tongue through the space between his lips and gums, tasting the last few lingering vestiges of flavor. He pressed both hands down into his belly, massaging it. It had been a good meal. His gut was enormous, large enough that he was able to lean his weight on it.
And around him was an empty field, pocked with the remains of streets and the foundations of former buildings, where the town used to be.
Tom opened his mouth and let out a belch. It was nice to finally feel full.