© Copyright 2014 - Lobo De la Sombra - Used by permission
Storycodes: Solo-F; balloon; floating; encased; mask; naked; sealed; cocoon; rubber; transport; F/f; tease; reluct/cons; X
Her name, ironically, was Sapphire Skye. Ironic because Dr. Skye, as she was also known, was a leading expert in meteorology. She was also well known in meteorological circles as the designer of the newest generation of weather balloons. Especially ironic now, considering her situation.
Sapphire woke slowly, her mind still foggy with sleep. Fuzzily, she remembered being in her lab, preparing for a test release. The space boys needed information about air currents over their launch sites, stating a concern for the effects of wind speed on launch trajectory. Sapphire had thus planned a timed series of releases, in order to gauge how upper atmospheric wind speeds changed during the day. Her last clear memory had been of inspecting the final balloon prior to launching the first.
Now, she found herself laying on a soft, springy surface. It was almost like lying in a bowl, with her feet and head both higher than her waist. The surface also felt somewhat rubbery, a fact that only dimly penetrated the fog still enveloping her mind.
More insistent was the feeling of something covering her mouth and nose, and of straps going around her head. There was also something solid beneath her shoulders, with more straps encircling her chest. Blearily, she reached up and brushed aside the thing over her face, only to be brought to sudden full awareness as she found herself unable to breathe. Quickly, she resettled what she now recognized as an oxygen mask over her face, inhaling deeply.
Her eyes, watering from her sudden lack of air, slowly cleared, and she found herself staring up at a clear, but strangely tinted sky. Glancing down at herself, she was shocked to realize that the air mask and tank were the only things adorning her otherwise naked body. Rolling over in an attempt to cover herself, she froze at the sight now revealed to her.
For a moment, she could only stare down at the soft, billowing masses beneath her. How, she wondered, could she be looking down at clouds? Her eyes widened as she realized that, somehow, she was now inside one of her own balloons, floating high above the countryside.
Moving carefully, she glanced around. Though a bright orange when deflated, the stretching of the balloon thinned the sides, making them, now, nearly transparent. There was nothing to block her view as she stared out at the sky. At the same time, she found herself hoping no airplanes passed too close. The sight of an otherwise naked woman wearing only an air mask, apparently floating in mid air, might come as a bit of a shock to even the most jaded airline pilot. In spite of herself, Sapphire couldn't help but grin at the mental image of the reaction to such a sight.
Still moving carefully, she began to examine the inside of the balloon. Deflated, the balloon formed a long, slender tube with specially reinforced ends. During inflation, the sides of the balloon stretched outwards, until it formed a nearly perfect circle. She had experimented endlessly with both the shape and the materials. Now, trapped inside one of her creations, she could only marvel at how the special rubber compound supported her weight. Still, she resolved to move carefully, lest a sharp edge on her air tanks puncture the tough material.
Drifting slowly above the clouds, Sapphire quickly lost all track of time. Gradually, though, she began to notice that the cloud tops seemed to be much closer than they had been. The balloon, she realized, was slowly sinking. This gave rise to a new concern.
Prior to release, her balloons were filled with a special gas mixture, mostly helium, but containing traces of other gases. With no need for heat or any other external aid to buoyancy, the balloons would, unless damaged, fly indefinitely. For this reason, Sapphire had designed what was basically a controlled leak. As the balloon flew, the gas inside would, very slowly, leach out through the rubbery skin, allowing the balloon, over time, to gently settle back to earth. Since each balloon flew with a very expensive package of electronics hanging beneath it, a soft landing was a very important consideration. More important than ever now, she thought wryly, with her on the inside.
Very slowly, the balloon descended until it was fully engulfed in the clouds. Now totally blind to what lay around her, time lost all meaning, and it was with some surprise that she watched herself break out through the bottom of the clouds. Now the whole countryside lay spread out beneath her, breathtaking in its sweep and scale. For long moments, Sapphire could only lay and stare at the view presented to her. Then another problem demanded her attention.
The balloon, she realized, wasn't only sinking. It was also slowly shrinking. As the gas inside slowly leached out, the skin of the balloon contracted with equal slowness. When she'd first regained consciousness, the inside of the balloon had been about the size of a small closet. Now it was just over half that. Quickly, her mind began calculating rate of descent, rate of shrinkage, her own weight, trying to decide if she would land safely. She would, she decided, manage a soft landing. It was what would happen after that worried her.
As the balloon shrank, the skin thickened, becoming slowly more opaque. Finally, during the last part of her descent, the skin thickened enough to block her view, leaving her blind to what lay ahead and beneath her. Thus, her first contact with the ground came as a complete surprise. Predictably, it was her ass that touched first, with a bounce that sent her tumbling helplessly as the balloon half rolled, half floated. After several dizzying tumbles, she found herself lying firmly on the ground. Now, she decided, it was time to get out.
Cautiously at first, then with increased effort, she attacked the skin of the balloon, now barely wider than the stretch of her arms. Her short, manicured nails, however, had no effect on the now thick skin of the balloon. Desperately, she twisted around, dragging her air tanks back and forth, but with no effect. Apparently, whoever had put her in here had taken pains to ensure no sharp edges. Defeated, she could only watch as the sides of the balloon closed in.
As it shrank, the balloon began to return to its usual, tubular shape. Sapphire soon found herself flat on her back as the sides continued to close in. At first, their touch was gently, but soon she found herself being squeezed more and more tightly, until, even with the mask, it became difficult to breath.
When the shrinking finally stopped, Sapphire found herself almost totally immobilized. The tube, thankfully, was slightly longer than her own height. Its diameter, however, was considerably less than her own. It now stretched around her body, fusing her legs together, pinning her arms to her sides. Her ability to move had been reduced to wormlike writhings.
How long she lay there, Sapphire had no idea. Time enough, certainly, for the sensation of total helplessness to go from one of terror to, strangely, one of vague comfort. And time enough, apparently, for her to fall asleep. She woke to the feeling of being lifted from the ground. Startled, she fought against the force lifting her, but her minor writhings did nothing to prevent her being placed on a hard surface, which quickly began to move.
Was it her team, she wondered frantically, come to recover the balloon? Or had someone else found her, encased and totally helpless? Was she on her way back to the lab? Or did she lay in the back of some farmer's truck, headed for some dark barn somewhere? Terrified by the possibilities, she continued her useless squirming, even when, finally, whatever she lay on stopped and she felt herself lifted once more.
As she struggled, Sapphire slowly realized that her breathing was getting shallower. My air tanks, she thought frantically. They must be nearly empty. Desperately, she tried to slow her breathing, but the air became thinner and thinner. Slowly, her world wavered, faded, then went black.
Slowly, Sapphire woke to find herself lying on a table, a light blanket covering her nudity. Glancing around, she was relieved to recognize her own lab. Still weak from oxygen deprivation, she could only watch as the door opened, admitting Carla Jenkins, her assistant.
"Feeling better?" Slowly, Sapphire nodded. "Good. I was afraid the lack of air might have done some damage, but you seem to be recovering."
Sapphire's lips moved soundlessly, but finally, she whispered, "How....?"
"Oh," Carla replied with a grin, "it was easy. Much easier than getting you out. I'm afraid I had to cut the balloon away from you." Sapphire winced at this, thinking how much each balloon had cost. "Still," Carla went on, "we did get some very interesting data. Care to see?"
At Sapphire's nod, Carla held up a screen where she could see it. Instead of lines of numbers, as she'd expected, Sapphire saw an image of herself, encased in the shrunken balloon. The bright orange material faithfully followed every contour of her body. Slowly, the image changed, eventually providing her with views of herself from nearly every conceivable angle. The sight of herself so helplessly encased, along with the memory of how it felt, quickly had Sapphire biting her own lip to repress a soft moan. Tearing her gaze from the screen, she locked eyes with a smiling Carla.
Carla laughed. "It wasn't easy," she replied, "especially doing it without the rest of the team figuring it out. But I figured it out. And I'll show you later." One of Carla's hands slipped beneath the blanket, causing a moan that Sapphire didn't even try to keep silent. "After I show you, it'll be my turn."
The thought of her beautiful assistant helplessly locked in a rubber cocoon brought another moan to Sapphire's lips as she let the blanket slide from her body, her arms reaching up in welcome.
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