THE UNMARKED government trucks sped out of Max’s neighborhood with dead leaves fluttering in their wake.
No evidence remained to show that Max’s home had ever been disturbed. Zero footprints marred flowerbeds, no discarded gloves littered the hedge, neither a cheese cube nor an animal cracker dotted the lawn, and not a single drop of condensation from idling vehicles speckled the curb. Squirrels seemed to have been thrown back into their locations prior to the intrusion, though they were still much too surprised to immediately return to their previous preoccupations.
Inside the house, new hinges and deadbolts glinted. Streak-free windows appeared invisible. Three disgruntled cats clung angrily to a pile of clean laundry while, elsewhere, a single unnaturally hairless cat stretched and yawned, marveling about how its favorite napping spot had become uncommonly drafty.
In the kitchen, Max stood dazed, cradling an unopened carton of soy milk, the expiration date of which was for one month in the future.