The date is November 24, 2010 — the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Usually one of the happiest days of the year, as people across the country converge with friends and loved ones to eat, drink and revel in each others’ company. But not this year, at least not in New York State.
After the grisly events of the last week, this Berry Patch reporter has been dispatched from the Bat Cave in downtown Ithaca to survey Collegetown. Or what remains of it, at least.
As is usual for Thanksgiving Eve, Ithaca is a ghost town. But there’s no doubt that something is different this year: Mid-range SUVs, which would have normally flocked to the greater New York City area by now, still line the streets; some have open doors swinging in the wind, and a few are overturned. Windows of Collegetown houses and apartments are boarded up, and chains and padlocks are hanging from the doors of most businesses.
There appears to be no one in sight, no witnesses to explain this nightmarish scene. But as I wander toward campus, hoping someone in Day Hall can offer a University-friendly explanation, I spot movement out of the corner of my eye.
A hunched-over fellow in a red Cornell sweatshirt darts across College Ave hauling a trash bag full of empty Five Hour Energy Drink bottles. I call out to him, and he yelps with terror then breaks into a sprint. I catch up and tackle him just as he’s about to disappear into the wreckage across the street.
“I’m a Sun reporter, I just want to know what happened,” I offer. “All we’ve heard are a few drunk Facebook updates and Tweets, then … nothing.”
He glances around furtively, then begins: “It’s all Governor Paterson’s fault. Ever since he stopped Four Loko shipments to New York, Collegetown has been a battleground. Cornell students don’t understand how to drink without caffeine anymore, so when the Loko stashes ran dry, well, it was an ugly scene. People started turning to other options.
“First was Red Bull mixed drinks. Then that ran out, and people started turning to these little buggers,” he says, showing me the trash bag. “Folks tried to make do with coffee, but when that wasn’t enough they started snorting the coffee grounds, hoping to party a little bit longer, even though bars close at 1 a.m.”
“And now,” he says, gazing wistfully at the empty Five Hour Energy Drink bottles, “Now we’re down to the dregs.”
“What are you going to do with those?” I ask.
“Drain the remaining drops and mix them with Everclear,” he replies. “Street name is Schumer’s Boomer.”
Without any warning, gunshots pierce the eerie Collegetown silence. As the Schumer’s Boomer dealer crumples in front of me, a command rings out:
“Hands on your head. Step away from the caffeine.”
I comply, and am quickly surrounded by a phalanx of stumbling college-aged males, each carrying a pledge paddle and a Nalgene bottle filled with a bubbly liquid. As they close in on me, I notice their bloodshot eyes and syrupy sweet alcohol breath. Who are these drunk thugs? And what could they possibly want from me?
Let the run on the grocery stores commence…
And check cornellsun.com later this week for more fictitious insight into the Four Loko-less zombie apocalyptic future