I was there, so I knew there really had been a UFO. Not like they always say, round like a silver hamburger, but exactly the shape of a hot dog with the bun, with the little hotdog ends sticking out, with the little creases like a hot dog has. The hot dog part painted a metallic red, the bun part brown and white, airbrushed to seem like a bun. I’d seen something like it driving down the road or parked at fairs, but this one was bigger, without a stubby car front attached to it.
A yellow tube dangled from the UFO, like the ones the construction people use to drop debris from the third floor to the metal bins. Those tubes are sectioned with metal bands, transforming them into caterpillars, like they’re gnawing the buildings. This one was sectioned too, but instead of gnawing buildings, it sucked up Oaksdale High School cheerleaders.
It started with Julie Hathkorn, who was dressed in this year’s red and gold cheerleading outfit, the one that had caused such a scandal among the parents with its bubble bra and flaming crotch. She shook her gold pom-poms out to the side, her body a perfect T. The hotdog thing floated behind her, then the yellow tube pushed outward towards Julie. It attached to her head, then nibbled its way downward. She dropped the pom-poms and clutched at the tube, but the tube kept nibbling.
We screamed at it to stop. Melinda Ludmore beat the tube with her pom-poms, and Aggie Match gave it two, impressive cheerleader kicks above the part where Julie Hathkorn’s head bulged out. When the tube nibbled as far as the flames on her outfit, it gave a mechanical snort, then sucked Julie up as fast as a pneumatic tube cylinder.
The tube then went for Melinda Ludmore, who had never stopped beating it with her pom-poms. Melinda was our largest cheerleader, dressed in a navy and white track suit. Once it got her, she used her weight to fight it. She grabbed onto the tube and lifted her feet off the ground, but the tube stretched to accommodate her. She rolled, jerked, and kicked at the tube, but it sucked her up as well.
I ran for Ms. Buffton’s bag and dumped it out. I found a scrapbook; baggies of dog, cat, and gecko stickers; and a plastic case with five scrapbooking scissors, cradled in moss-green foam. I whipped open the case and grabbed the one that cut scallop shapes.
The tube now had Aggie Match. She had judiciously decided to flee, but the hot dog UFO was as fast as a movie vampire, and got her too. All you could see of her was her baby blue shorts and kicking legs. Just as I reached the tube, it gave its mechanical snort and sucked her up.
I reached out to stab the tube. It clamped down over my head so fast I didn’t see it come at me. I had only a moment to notice it smelled like cotton candy and burnt rubber before the air was sucked out of the tube and I felt like a pulsing balloon was stretched over my face. I couldn’t breathe. I stabbed at the tube overhead, but somehow it evaded my stabs, twisting me back and forth as it bent. I got dizzy. I stabbed at my own head. Air hissed out, and my cheek felt like lightning had struck it. I slipped the shears into the hole I’d made and snipped wildly at the tube, scratching my head several times with the shears.
My sight returned. The tube dangled in front of me, with perfect, scallop-shaped slashes in it. I reached out to snip it again and it sucked itself up into the hot dog. In another second, the hot dog zipped away. I couldn’t tell which direction, it was gone so fast.
Ms. Buffton returned. She had run to get a weapon and sprinted back with a garden-type implement. Her name had given us no end of entertainment, because she wasn’t buff at all, having been hired to teach math, but her duties expanded to physical education. She had run so full out that her chest expanded and contracted like an accordion.
“Where’d it go?” she asked.
I pointed towards the spot I’d last seen it in the robins egg sky among the cotton ball cloud wisps. I thought I saw a fold in the sky, but it was probably just a matter of looking for something and finding something that wasn’t really there.