It was noon in Scottville, Michigan. Sarah laid with her head on the couch pillow, playing with her i-phone, occasionally laughing, occasionally verbalizing something she read. Mike watched her from the kitchen table while eating a chocolate chip cookie, his t-shirt covered in crumbs. On the table were seven boxes of opened girl scout cookie boxes, with about half the former contents in either his or Sara's stomachs.
Bloated, roasting, he got up and opened the patio door, the same one Lance floated through on his way to Alton One. The sun was shining bright over head, and a warm, toasty breeze that wafted through the door felt very refreshing. As he peered out he felt it odd there were no shouts from children playing, and no squeaks and chirps from squirrels or birds. The only audible thing outside was the rustling of leaves. "Do you think the police have people locked in their homes, or something else is going on."
"Why do you ask that?"
"Because it's eerie the way things have transpired?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, it's almost as though we're being cooped up in here on purpose?"
"That we're being shown just enough to tempt us?"
"Well, look out there?"
She was not standing by him, holding the curtain with her left hand. "Just look out there. The sky is clear blue, and there's barely a cloud, just a few random ones. Look at the homes across the street. You notice anything odd about them?"
"Neither do I. I spent many hours sitting on this front porch with either Lance or his mother, and I never once ever saw a person come out of any of those houses. Occasionally you'd see a car go up a driveway, and enter a garage, but once the garage door closed that was it."
"So what are you getting at?"
"Those people never went outside anyway. They were house potatoes. It seems every neighborhood has house potatoes. They have their windows closed, curtains or shades closed, and they sit in their houses all day. No one knows what they do. They only leave to go to work or to pay bills."
"Okay, what does that have to do with this.."
"The only exception is Mrs. Schaffer. She's out and about in her yard all the time. You can tell by all the pretty flowers and plants in her yard. She reminds me of my grandma. Every time you pass her she has something to tell you. If you spend time with her she has a nice story to tell. If your'e interested, and I'm always interested, she could entertain you for hours."
"I don't get your point."
"My point is she's a useful person."
"And we're useful people. Lance is a useful person. Lance is doing something all the time. For crying out loud, look at all the stuff he wrapped around this house. He may be the laughing stock of the neighborhood, he may not, but either way, he's productive. He doesn't sit around all day playing video games, watching TV, and doing things that don't effect the lives of other people."
"So you're saying house potatoes are non productive members of society."
"They at least look non productive. What we don't know is what they are really doing with their lives. I remember dad told me once that he felt like he was a house potato for about ten years when Jimmy and I were little, really little. He felt like he was useless to society; that all he did was watch kids, work, watch kids, work, take his wife on a date, and stuff like that. He had no contact with his friends. In fact, he went so long without hanging with his friends he felt he was antisocial. And that's when he came up with the term house potato, because he suspected others probably thought that of him."
"He wasn't a couch potato at all. He was outside more than the couch potatoes in the neighborhood. He was outside walking with his kids, us, down the street. He was teaching us how to ride bikes. He was pulling us in the wagon. He was taking us to the state park. He was taking us camping. He was taking us to the store so we could buy Christmas presents for mom. He was busy raising his kids. He was invisible to the rest of the world because he was raising kids."
So, that sounds great. What does it have to do with this."
"Well, don't you feel like a house potato right now?"
"Oh, yeah, I see what you mean."
"Yes, I guess I do."
"That's my point. Maybe... maybe.... maybe we are a part of the plot. Maybe the alien let you go on purpose, ever think of that."
"Mike?" Her face looked a sudden fret.
"Look, Sarah, the bad aliens, if that's what they are, kill people. As far as we know, there's no way to escape their evil grasp. But you got away. You got away and you returned here, where, coincidentally, you have me, who was kidnapped by aliens in the past, and Lance, who, by the way, is on a spaceship."
Sarah hugged Mike, tight.