It was a beautiful morning in California. The ocean sparkled… the trees were a lush green… what a perfect time for the loud, unwelcome buzz of the alarm clock. Ryan got out of bed and shut the thing off. A little too suddenly, he decided, as he began to grow dizzy and weary He staggered across the room to the door. He needed breakfast. Now. What day is it, anyway? he wondered. The calendar said it was Thursday Thursday! Thursday was wake-up-the-family-in-a-weird-and-obnoxious-way day! He had been waiting for this day since… well, last Thursday! Quick as lightening, he got dressed and ran downstairs, grabbed his special bucket, and dashed into his parents’ bedroom.
And sure enough, there they were. Two little bumps under the sheets. He walked up next to them, leaned way over the bed, tipped the bucket over, and out came pounds upon pounds of cold, wet mud. But he didn’t hear surprised screams. He didn’t hear a sharp gasp. What he heard was an “Ahhh… thank you son…”
“Dad?” Ryan gulped. “What did you say?”
“I said, ‘Thank you son!'”
“Can you say that one more time?”
“If you want me to…”
“Can I have that in writing?” Ryan grinned.
“I just said thank you, OK?” he cried. “It’s nice to wake up to something cool and refreshing once in a while!”
“That was very nice of you, dear,” said his mom. And slowly, the bump underneath the sheets began to make its way towards the head of the bed. It reached the end of the sheets, then out popped a round, pink nose, two little black eyes, four little legs, and one curly little tail. All in all, a chubby little pig popped out instead of the tall slender figure of Ryan’s mother. Ryan wasn’t grinning anymore.
“What on earth is wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with her? Why son, that’s very very rude!” His father poked his head out from under the sheet to reveal yet another pig, just as fat as the last one.
“Are you guys, you know, really there? Or is this some kind of joke?” Ryan said.
“What are you talking about?” The pigs were definitely moving their mouths to form the words. Freaky. Then the one that was talking and acting just like his mom looked at the clock. “Oh my goodness! It’s eight o’clock already! We’re going to be late for work!”
And before Ryan could stop them, both pigs ran out of the bedroom, grabbed some documents, and headed out the door. Two pigs driving a car in the middle of rush hour. Oh dear.
He had to do something. But what? He could take the bus and meet his parents at their workplace and stop them from being seen… but the nearest bus stop was over a mile away Then again, the nearest bike and equipment rental was just down the street. And they happen to specialize in motor scooters. Yeah. That would work. Just one more obstacle in his way. The s-is- t-e-r. Anxiously, he knocked on the door to his sister’s bedroom. “Sis? I’ve got to go… to, uh, take a special summer-school class that I forgot to tell you about… uh, really… and I’m going to be gone for a while so I thought I should tell you. Bye!”
“Wait just one minute there, Buster! You promised to make me breakfast today!”
“Really? Well, not now, OK? I’m already very late! Is it OK if I make you lunch instead?”
“No!” She pulled open the door. And out stepped another chubby little pig, complete with lipstick and a bad hairdo.
“Not you too!” Ryan ran downstairs and bolted outside, entirely forgetting his promise to make her breakfast.
* * *
Fifteen minutes later, he was on the bus, riding the twenty miles between his house and his parents’ workplace. He knew he shouldn’t have left his sister like that, but he also knew that if he had spent the time to make her a couple of waffles and an iced glass of orange juice there would have been no chance of bringing his parents home before they were seen.
And, he thought, what would have happened then? Would they have been captured and placed on some farm out in the middle of nowhere? Has someone seen them already? And will they even make it to work without crashing into something, with those little piggy hooves of theirs on the steering wheel? He tried not to think about all the ifs and maybes, but they kept nagging at him. What if it really was a prank that his family was pulling? What if this was all just a nightmare? Yes, that’s it. It’s just a bad dream. And he was really still snuggled in bed, safe and sound. And it was a Monday Yeah! It wasn’t even wake-up-the-family-in-a-weird-and-obnoxious-way day after all!
The bus came to a halt. It was time to get off. He got out of the bus and stepped onto a large parking lot before an ominous black building. He was there.
The bus pulled away and Ryan was left alone in the lot. It was filled with thousands of shiny cars but there wasn’t a single person in sight. And it was impossible to see anything the size of a pig behind those rows and rows of automobiles. Not to mention a talking pig carrying a bunch of documents.
But then… what was that over there? He squinted towards the entrance to the building. Yes, there were definitely two little pink dots making their way across the sidewalk. He had to get them away from there before they were seen. Ryan began to run as fast as he could. The pigs were too far to catch in time. If he was lucky, there would be no one standing next to the entrance and he could catch them inside. He came to a halt on the sidewalk as he saw his parents inside through the glass door, talking to a tall man in a white suit. Ryan’s head began to spin. What would happen now? Would the man call the pound? Would his parents be slaughtered?
Without thinking, he burst into the building. “Stop!” he said. He could hear some distant murmurs in front of him, the concerned voices of his parents, mixed with the shouts of angry workers. His eyes went out of focus. Everything became a blur. He screamed as loud as he could, “No!” The word echoed into the back of his head.
* * *
And then he awoke. He saw his parents hovering over him, concerned looks on their faces. “Ryan?” They were both in their normal human form. “Ryan, did you have a bad dream?” his mother said.
“Yeah… I guess…” he said. The concerned look vanished and was replaced with a stern frown.
“And can you tell me why there’s mud all over our bed, young man?”