Monday, December 5, 2011

"Rumblings From the Dark Side of Twitter" by Dr. Ace T. Jericho, Rogue Journalist

I had just walked in the doors of the Banner Manse last Saturday morning when Marv Banner pulled me aside and flashed his Android phone at me.

"Artoo wants to show you something," he whispered conspiratorially.

"Careful, Marv," I said. "George Lucas has long litigatory arms. If he hears you, probably through your XBox, he's liable to plug up your afterburners with legal action. You may be a city attorney, but you're not as large and intimidating as your namesake. They gave him the chair, remember?"

"Pfeh," said Marv. "Lucas can blow me. Lemme show you my new toy."

I held up the two plastic bags I was still carrying. "The beers need a home or they'll complain in German. Hefeweizens don't like to be kept waiting."

He pointed toward the garage where we would be congregating later. "Fridge on the left."

"Back soon." I made a beeline for the door, passing Marv's wife, Helen, on the way.

"Doctor Jericho," she said with a nod.

"Amazon Queen," I said, also inclining my head.

I went into the garage, packed ten bottles into the fridge, and brought the last two back to where Marv sat on the couch in the living room.

"We have an hour before we dive back into Thunderspire Mountain," he said, taking the proferred bottle and popping the cap. "My toy. Let me show you it."

"Careful with LOLCatSpeak," I said. "I've heard that it will infect your subconscious and drive you mad if you're not paying attention."

"Ceiling Cat sees all," he said and held out the phone.

I started to reach for it, then stopped. "Three Laws compliant?"

"Wouldn't be in this house if it wasn't."

"Good man." I took the phone and looked down at the screen. Colorful icons, miniature photos, and words looked up at me. "What am I looking at?"

"Twitter."

"I can see that," I said. "Why? I know about the Great Social Media Giant."

"Yes," said Marv, "but are you familiar with its dark side?"

"What are you babbling about?"

"Twitter Sith."

I leaned forward. "Have you told anyone?" I said, keeping my voice low.

Marv leaned forward, too. "Just you."

"That's best. If too many people found out, they could swarm the house, smash down the door, and beat the mortal shit out of us with Cabbage Patch dolls soaked in the blood of decapitated My Little Ponies. Your wife and kids would be in danger of being sent to the gulag. And you'd have small fabric body parts jutting from your spleen."

Marv shuddered. "I can't have that."

"I know. Now tell me about the Twitter Sith."

"They roam the edges of the timestream."

I gasped. I had seen them. Dark, shapeless masses, just at the corner of my retweets. Never fully formed. Hovering there in Shymalanian phantasmagoria.

Marv's eyes widened. "You've seen them, too, haven't you!"

"Yes, by Jove's hairy nutsac. I have. Just the other day, as a matter of fact. I thought they might pose a problem but I wasn't sure anyone else had seen them. Thought maybe I was seeing things. That I'd gotten a bad batch of 5 Hour Energy Drinks."

Marv made a face. "Those things'll kill you. Better stay with Monster."

"It was an experiment in warp field manipulation," I said, "but I don't think it worked. I lost a pair of boot socks because of it. But nevermind that. We've got to do something about these beasts before they plunge a sword into the very heart of the global social network."

"Yeah" said Marv. "Otherwise they're liable to infiltrate the entire world psyche. We're already seeing what they've done, you know."

"Stalking," I said. "Everybody's following everybody and some of them you don't even know about. Just watching you from afar with a pair of 10-power Alpen binos. Ten thousand watching eyes. Big Brother's wet dream."

"And Twitter spam," said Marv. "Don't forget that. Asking us to buy penis products. I think they're getting too powerful. Powerful of Dan Brownian magnitudes."

"A single fluke harpoon," I said. "Made of iron. Iron hurts them. Drive them back into depths from whence they came. And with a harpoon you have reach. No need to get too close. But just in case, you'll want a big-bore handgun as backup."

"But how are we supposed to use that on Twitter to get at them?"

"You leave that to me. I'll come up with a cunning plan. And when we save the Twitterverse and Felicia Day from certain destruction, we'll be praised as heroes."

Marv threw both arms into the air, hands clenched into fists. "Yatta!"

"Domo arigato gozaimasu, George Takei," I said and glanced up at the clock hanging over the fireplace.

Forty minutes left until we ventured forth into the realm of polyhedral dice and ability scores.

I took a long pull of beer and a thought struck.

"Something else," I said to Marv.

"Yeah?"

"What's Twitter's dominant image?"

"A whale?"

"Yes, and that's where the harpoon comes in handy. But I mean the primary image?"

"A bird," Marv said and went saucer-eyed. "Do you mean--!" He made a gagging sound. "Shades of the Fat British Man with the Speech Impediment--!!"

I nodded slowly and drank more beer. "That's right, Sonny Jim. Bodega Bay was just the start."

Come back next week for another entry of The Jericho Files!

Read previous Jericho Files entries here.

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