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Encounters of the Intelligent Kind
The chirping of a bluebird floating happily in the birdbath grew closer, resonating in my eardrum. This was much more pleasant than my unforgiving clock radio. I awoke, as the erupting fireburst’s rays diffracted on my bedroom floor through the translucent lavender curtains, the fuzzy, beige carpet becoming lava to the touch. I sat up, eyes sweeping over my drawer (with copies of Oliver Twist and Teen People), walk-in closet full of DKNY, and the vanity full-length mirror. The pure snow walls glistened from the star’s morning shadow. My battery-powered iPod dock read 8:52 a.m. What?! Almost nine in the morning? I’d slept in so much! I blinked at the Freddy Krueger poster on my back wall, his glove-claws almost screaming, “Wake up!”
I sprinted to the bathroom, past an obstacle of scattered Juicy Fruit, three outfits I’d tried on for yesterday’s all-nighter (including tights, Mary Janes, a lacey sundress and a turquoise top), and a fallen framed Kodak of my family on vacation in Boston. As the lights illuminated, the scent of my signature perfume, Juicy No. 1, still adhered to my sheer coral tank top that I’d barely had the time to crawl into after everyone left. My Sidekick whirred to life; my neighbor had left me a message. “Come meet me outside right away!” He said urgently. I made myself presentable as quickly as possible, clumsily knocking several eyeliner pencils to the tiled linoleum floor. What was it now? An emergency? A fire?
I zigzagged through the peach-hued stairs, sliding past the bronze railing. Did I see a UFO in our backyard? Sparkling rainbow lights and all? A mirage! That was it! I’d had tons of Snapple—and judging from the empty bottles in the media room, arranged in a pile more than ready for recycling, so had everyone else. I simpered at the confetti sprinkled Sony silver flatscreen, which we might as well keep in tact for New Year’s. DVD’s of fabulous horror movies such as Saw poked around the pile, occasionally making the bottles clink when I walked around. My father’s hacksaw sat on the fireplace mantel, reminding me of that timeless ending. “Anyone home?” I said. “Archy needs someone to help him with something.” No answer.
I traipsed into the black-and-white kitchen. I needed a complete breakfast first. I leaped onto the breakfast bar, twirling on the ruby stool. I admired my parents’ artful arrangement of indigo collectors’ pots and pans dangling from the ceiling bar of light as I disgustedly knocked off stale popcorn and frozen nachos from the bar. The kernels’ aroma strongly retained the aroma of last night, just as buttery and crunchy. I analyzed my culinary skills and viewed my options: the top shelf in the junk food pantry, consisting of Cheerios, Fritos, Rice Krispies (the snack, not the cornflakes), Special K granola bars, or the occasional Asiago cheese bagel from Panera. Tempting. My mobile phone burst out in the chorus of the Fray’s “Look After You”. Archy’s ringtone. “Where are you?” The text message read. “You really should see this. It’s in your backyard!” I sighed, although I did discern voices outside talking in gibberish, and a few other neighbors panicking. I stuffed the bagel in my stomach, but the fluoride Crest’s taste was still persistent, so I snatched a Snapple Pink Lemonade drink and approached the back door. I tentatively opened the opaque cherry drapes and yanked the sliding door as well.
The first thing I can recall is the biting fragrance of Archy’s outdoor chlorine-flooded wading pool and Jacuzzi. It hit me like a tidal wave, much more vicious yet invigorating than it appeared. Then I saw it—the UFO, twenty feet tall. The sun danced on my face and the pennies in the birdbath still reeked of copper. Air seeped between my teeth, due to me gasping. Mirage or not, all of my neighbors saw it too. Little infants swarmed around their parents, adults pushing and shoving to get a closer look at the object. Even Reno and Maria, the sensible Italian couple next door, were hard at work burning charcoal on their multipurpose grill, way up into the cirrus clouds above. “Get your hotdogs here,” Reno said nonchalantly. I went up to the UFO. Steven Spielberg had portrayed aliens’ homes surprisingly well.
I tapped on the chrome paint surrounded by Christmas shades of neon strobe lights and supported by manifold stroller-sized wheels. Gold necklaces hung on the border, almost like garland. The 20 foot dome-home released a Fashion-Week-esque 10 foot runway of stairs. Laser beams shot through on both sides of the stairs. Suddenly, all of the lights transformed into an ivy color and a Wal-Mart smiley face projected onto the runway. As I strolled up to it past the dewy, fresh grass, a crimson number materialized over the open door: 110. “It scans your IQ,” a nasal voice said. I did a double-take into the spaceship, but it was a ghost town. “Over here,” it said. “Oh, that’s right, you’re from Earth.” The bulb lights on the ceiling burst into sun and a shadow of what looked like 8 foot sushi came into sight. “I hope you understand me. Our translators have been working very hard.” The creature’s accent was a mixture of French, Latin, British and Hawaiian. “Take a look around.” The creature vaporized. Why not? The blissful scent of pancake syrup and Ralph by Ralph Lauren diffused the interior.
The spaceship was similar to a minivan, but much more enormous. Posters of famous Earth people were plastered on the white-rice-covered walls, all written in binary code. A “talk” radio perched on the ceiling, messages coming in Morse code. A map of dimensions hung as well, explaining directions in Farsi for how to reach the sushi dimension, a 2-D dimension, and the Back to the Future dimension. A fridge stood erect; upon further inspection, it contained sushi, of course, frozen spaghetti and aged Chardonnay! The bottle looked thousands of years old; the shade was now hot pink. Another room seemed to be the pilot room: Two chairs made of clear gel sat in front of a control panel. I ran in, drowning in my seat. At least 30 TV’s bigger than my Sony displayed pictures; they monitored different aspects of the world. I saw the Eiffel Tower, Stonehenge, the Egyptian Pyramids, Marshall Field’s in Chicago, Broadway and Times Square, even Atlantis and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon! Video-game controls manned the largest screen of all—the window. I could see Archy outside, scarfing French fries and gulping a Snapple Apple drink, pointing and pouting at the UFO. I waved but he didn’t respond. It was a tinted window! On another screen, Invasion of the Body Snatchers scrolled on repeat in Latin with English subtitles. I went back into the main room to check out the freezer on top of the fridge. A freezing waft came towards me—frozen Snapple was inside! Now that’s my kind of aliens.
I ducked under the control panel, finding no wires, but instead, what seemed to be the engine. I lifted the rectangular door and saw a clear box of churning gears, more of that squishy gel the chairs were made of, and—lemonade? I shrugged, going back to the fridge yet again for some California rolls, the avocado melting in my mouth.
“Do you like our ride?” The original creature, I presumed, materialized again with a few of his buddies. They were shaped like sashimi.
“I love it,” I said, swallowing a Philly roll whole.
“Wake up!” Someone said.
“What?” The neon lighting in the spaceship began to blur, the sushi shadows disappearing into thin air, the mirrored floor shattering. I jumped, startled to see that I was in my own bedroom again, hibernating in the marshmallow fort of Lily Pulitzer comforters and pillows. My parents were calling me downstairs for breakfast! The aroma of buttermilk pancakes hung in the air. That was interesting...as I prepared to leave my bedroom, a nasal voice said, “Hope you enjoyed meeting other intelligent life.” It seemed to come from the Freddy Krueger poster, his hat almost tipping towards me, as particles of copper and Ralph drifted onto my face, the scents blending.