REDMOND, WASH., May 1, 1997--Acting on a tip received from an anonymous caller traced back to Mountain View, Calif., local police discovered tens of thousands of bodies early this morning in dozens of buildings in a remote compound outside Seattle.
Preliminary reports indicate that the slain men and women were apparently victims of a mass suicide. At press time, no survivors had been discovered. "Weirdest thing you ever saw," said one of the first state troopers on the scene. "All of them were slumped over the keyboards of their computers with some kind of brown gunk around their lips."
Forensic experts later identified this substance as a custom blend of coffee investigators say the victims referred to as "Java."
Neighbors living near the compound told reporters that the men and women, most of them young, bright college graduates, were all members of a strange, secretive cult that followed the teachings of a man they called Bilge, or "billg," as his name was spelled in email files found on victims' computers.
Many other documents referencing the mysterious "Java" substance were also discovered in cubicles and offices around the compound, most of which referred to the liquid in extremely disparaging terms. While the exact chemical makeup of "Java" has not yet been determined, investigators did suggest that it seemed to be a benign compound that quite possibly produced euphoric reactions when ingested in quantity.
The cult was known locally as a haven for social misfits who preferred to spend hours "surfing" the World Wide Web--the graphical portion of the Internet--and tending their own elaborate sites that exhorted visitors to "Excel" or made frequent references to a "Word," which investigators believe had something to do with the teachings of Bilge. "Access," "Money" and "the network" were also mentioned repeatedly, as well as the names of thousands of corporations, leading investigators to believe the cult was possibly preparing for an assault on global financial and industrial powers.
"They all seemed to have this obsession with 'Windows,' which we presume means a window of opportunity, but we're not sure yet," said an unnamed computer security expert brought in by Seattle police to gain entry to the cult's central network. "All their documents refer to the overwhelming importance of these 'Windows,' and how nothing could be allowed to stand in their way. Blocking the view, I guess."
Police were also baffled by the clothes a large majority of the victims were wearing at the time of their deaths. While a few wore traditional business attire, most were clothed in Nike sneakers, blue jeans and T-shirts bearing either cult slogans such as "Where do you want to go today?" or the image of a popular cartoon-strip character named Dilbert.
"And then there's this thing they had about insects," said one of the morgue attendants. "They were just looney tunes about killing all these 'bugs' that they thought were infesting their products."
Police indicated that the primary focus of their investigation would center on the "Java" substance and its effects on the mental stability of the cult members.
"On the one hand, they all thought 'Java' was some kind of blood-sucking, virgin-sacrificing, Marilyn-Manson-is-my-son thing that had to be eradicated from the earth at all costs," explained one of the detectives on the scene as he pawed through thousands of binders full of marketing plans for software the cult planned to sell over the Internet.
"Funny enough, a lot of the work they were doing seemed to involve using lots of this 'Java' to make their own products better. Maybe they just couldn't make up their minds."
From the June issue of Marketing Computers
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