It appeared out of nowhere at the end of their drive: the box.
Square. About yay high.
Nobody else on the street had one.
Nobody could say what it meant or why it was there.
The family, on whose drive it had arrived, regarded it suspiciously.
They found no distinguishing marks and it was sealed, so they couldn’t see inside.
They listened to it. Not a sound.
Eventually, from a safe distance (minimum of two metres) and using a broom handle, they even poked it.
It didn’t explode so they took it into the house.
The family in question had been grateful for the distraction as life had become difficult recently.
The son, having had treatment for cancer which had devastated his immune system, was on the “high risk” list after the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK, and his parents were likewise banned from leaving the family home for at least 12 weeks.
This made the weekly shopping trip for groceries something of a challenge.
A neighbour had offered to do it for them, but had fallen ill recently, meaning the family had to try to get a delivery slot with a local supermarket.
This was more easily said than done. At first, all available slots were taken.
Then, when one became available, the son was told he was disqualified because his NHS number did not tally with his other identity details.
(This took a while to sort out and, inevitably, it was the officials who were wrong.)
Finally, just when they had given themselves up to starvation once they had scraped the dregs from the bottom of the freezer, they were contacted out of the blue.
A slot was free and they could have it. Deliveries would start the following Tuesday.
The box arrived that Friday.
Having carried out all the tests they could conceive, short of bringing in the bomb squad, the son took responsibility on himself, and opened it.
It was a government food package.
And it actually had a decent variety of food, in fairness.
But it was typical of the UK government, in the midst of the pandemic lockdown, that no effort had been made to identify who was intended to receive this parcel, who it was from, or indeed what it contained.
And, ultimately, rendered pointless by the efforts of people who had been led to believe that no help was coming.
What a shambles.