My parents return home from vacation.
The email inbox is Christmas morning made virtual. You get a lot of junk from distant relatives (or Nigerian princes), but there's also that one gift - that one response - that you really desire. When you get it, it's as rewarding as unwrapping a present without tearing the lovely gold-inlaid paper.
So far I've checked my email enough to give it rug burn. I manage to stay away for one hour, two, and then wonder if it might be all right to just check it one...more...time -
The dogs howl. A car has pulled into the driveway: my parents arrived home from Vancouver.
Greetings all around, including a few face-licks (I'm trying to kick the habit). I'm happy for the distraction from my email while my parents talk about Chinese drug lords, native artwork, tequila parties, postcard thieves, and nude beaches.
We don't notice my Dad's suitcase rocking slightly side to side.
When the conversation lulls, I succumb to my desire and head to the computer. I know I should wait a while, but I'm just so eager to -
BAM! The door bursts open and in come the black ops, complete with night-vision goggles.
I put my hands up. "Okay, I won't check it anymore! Jeez!"
But it's not me they're pointing the automatics at. It's my Dad's suitcase.
Now we notice it rocking, rocking so hard that it tips.
One of the ops guys reaches forward to open it. Nestled among my Dad's plaids and stripes is what looks like a platypus. It's purring, obsessively licking its paws.
"What is that?" I ask.
"Extra-terrestrial," the ops guy answers.
"Dad, I know you like aliens, but..."
"It's not your Dad's fault, sweetheart," ops says. "These ETs have been hitchin' rides across country lines for years now. Gotta control the import and export carefully."
The alien-platypus decides to answer me. Its head lifts, seeing us for the first time. Its claws curl inward, body tensing. And then it sees my computer.
Its black eyes light up the same as I expect mine to when I check my inbox again. But then the alien leaps from the suitcase and devours my laptop.
It burps. And that's it for the Mac.
"They're only dangerous to hardware," the ops guy tells me, a little too belatedly.
"This'll be good for me," I say. "Patience is a virtue and idle hands are the platypus' play-thing, right? Or something like that."