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Chapter 7
Alternate Arts and Culture

Revenge Is Sour

by HAL MOUNTSAUERKRAUTEN, Alternate Reality News Service Crime Writer

Police believe they have found the clue that will break the case of the rash of mysterious deaths outside movie theatres: a suicide note.

“It’s over. It’s finally well and truly over,” the note read. “There’s nothing left to live for.” The note went on in this vein for several pages, and was signed “Jen Wookie Lover 12.”

There have been 137 reported deaths throughout North America. Stabbings, poisonings, shootings, hangings and, in at least one incident, suffocation due to penguin inhalation. The only thing the deaths had in common was that they had taken place outside of movie theatres screening Star Wars: Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith.

“How did you get a copy of that note?” FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper asked. “Okay, never mind, that doesn’t matter any more. I believe that there’s some…spooky force at work here that is causing people to take their own lives. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m positive that note will point the way. If I could just see the connection…if I could just – hey, can I have another piece of that pie? You know, I’ve never tasted anything so –”

To others, the answer was obvious. “Mikey killed himself because of that stupid movie series,” said Harland Breedlove, the half-brother of victim Michael Breedlove. “He’d been depressed for months, knowing that the Star Wars saga was about to come to an end. Said it gave his life meaning, or some sh-t like that. All this other stuff is nonsense. I mean, really, does anybody believe he was getting off on sniffing a f-ck-ng penguin?”

“I wouldn’t dismiss water fowl auto-erotic asphyxiation so lightly,” sex columnist Selma Sorrento commented. “As we, as a society, become more jaded with traditional forms of sexuality, the thrill of almost dying for sex involving ducks, seagulls and, yes, even penguins, can be a powerful aphrodisiac.

“Of course,” she added, “that has nothing to do with the subject you’re actually writing about, does it?”

The idea that people would kill themselves because a movie series had ended seems farfetched. “Oh, it’s not as farfetched as you may write,” media critic Liss Jeffrey stated. “You see, as the media become a larger and larger part of our lives, those lives seem less and less important. In a very real way, we become hardwired to see the fake as real and the real as…something else. Our minds become these vast, interconnected cultural blenders that puree film and television, literature and music, and serve it up as a smooth blend of information. I’m partial to raspberry, myself.

“Besides,” Jeffrey added, “Episode One: The Phantom Menace sucked.”

“Hey!” movie critic Geoff Pevere cut in. “Leave the criticism to the professionals!”

“Let me put it this way,” Jeffrey continued, undaunted by the interruption. “What is happening to people who live inside the communicasphere of modern societies is like…it’s like leaving cheese out in the sun, except it’s happening within our brains. There is evidence that our amygdalas are getting a little soft and runny around the edges, which, obviously, impacts on our cognitive abilities. It’s different for everybody, of course. Some people think Jerry Seinfeld is an ancient King of Egypt. Some people can no longer identify apples. The human mind is an amazing thing, especially when it goes wonky.

“Oh, and, Episode One sure did suck!”

“Oh, it totally sucked,” Pevere agreed. “But, when it comes to film criticism, you’re just an amateur. I should be the one who pronounces that movies suck or not. In fact, The Phantom Menace was so bad, I’m surprised people didn’t start killing themselves when it came out. I can only guess that they hoped the other films in the series would somehow redeem it.”

“Hey!” Agent Cooper put in, “This is a criminal investigation! Unless you have any training in forensic science, you shouldn’t be giving an opinion in an ongoing case!”

And, so, the circle was complete.

In an attempt to stem the flow of bodies clogging its front door, the Harlequinade Theatre in New York posted notices reading “Don’t despair! Star Wars is coming to TV!” and “Hey! – There’s always Star Wars Clone Wars!” Unfortunately, suicides outside the theatre increased by 43 per cent in the week following the posting of the signs, and they were quietly removed.

The investigation continues. George Lucas was terminally unavailable for comment.

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