The monster was a little bigger than her, shorter than her father, round and hairy with a big nose. It had big teeth, but they weren’t fangs. Big dark eyes, and no tentacles or drippy things.
“Okay, come in,” Jeanette said automatically.
“Thank you,” the monster said. It looked around the house, but said nothing else.
Terence was behind his daughter, woken out of his distraught state and in full protective mode. “You’re behind all of this, aren’t you?”
“Never fear: I come in peace.”
“I should hope so.”
The monster reached into his fur somewhere and pulled out two cards. His stubby hands were wearing white gloves, but that seemed to be the only clothing in evidence. He handed a card to Jeanette first, and then to Terence.
The card read:
SENHOR CAPOEIRA CAPYBARA
Galactic Adventurer • Funny Animal
Terence put the card in his pocket without looking at it. “I don’t care who you are; you frightened my little girl badly. Civility won’t make up for that.”
Jeanette was never prouder of her father than at that moment. Talk about sang-froid! No “But this is impossible!” Or “Oh My God!” (Which she was ready to say at any moment.) Not even a ‘What’s the meaning of this???”.
“Of course.” Mr. Capybara (monster who had been out in his place) turned his attention to her. “I’m really very sorry, Jeanette. I understand how a box of unexpected mice would be terrifying to you. All I can say is that it was necessary.”
“Rats, Unexpected rats,” she said sullenly.
“Of course, Rats. I apologize for scaring you.”
“Now--” Terence began, but Mr. Capybara raised a white-gloved hand.
“Before we go any further, I have a request to make. Could I watch your television for, I would say, about two hours?”
“That’s a bit much!” Terence almost shouted.
“It is, I know. But it will affect the substance of our further discussions.”
Terence looked at Jeanette. “Say the word and I will turn this rascal out.”
She looked at the rascal, and said, “No, it’s okay.”
“You’re very kind, Jeanette.” And Mr. Capybara made directly for the TV Room, since he knew exactly where it was.
He was about as big as a small bear, and took up most of the couch, but she didn’t mind sitting close to him: he smelled nice and not animal-y.
“One more thing.”
“What?” Terence nearly spat.
“I’m given to believe that you have a supply of snacks in the house. Chips.”
“We do NOT.” intoned Terence.
“Um,” said Jeanette.
“Jeanette?” Her father sounded a little hurt and disappointed.
“They were a stash for when Robert and Annabel came over.”
“We’ll talk about this later. But they are yours to dispose of.”
Jeanette went off to her room and came back with two embarrassingly large bags of chips: potato chips and Cool Ranch Doritos. They both had little chewed holes in them, which revealed the treason of the mice, but she felt like she was being sent to the principal at school.
She handed them to Mr. Capybara. “I’m afraid I got you in trouble, my dear,” he said in a conspiratorial whisper. She said nothing, and handed the monster the remote.
Without so much as an inspection of the device, he brought up the channel guide and scrolled through it.
“Aha! Cartoon Network. An excellent place to start.”