Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Old Chicago Revisited: Emotion sucking vampires stalk Old Chicago (1978)

In 1978, Old Chicago was in trouble due to declining attendance.  Without anchor stores, residents had very little reason to shop there every week, and you could only go on the rides so many times.  As a result, the mall was closed every Monday and Tuesday, and owners succeeded in lowering the property value in order to lower their tax burden. Still, the number of customers kept falling. 

Reporter Que Pasa also found another horrifying reason why attendance was declining.  This was his last report he submitted to The Babbler.

By Reporter Que Pasa

I woke up at the ungodly hour of 11 AM.  Ever since I swore off coffee for herbs and stamps, I’ve been waking up earlier.  Before everything was a blur.  Now I could see that reality and dreams weren’t that different.

For breakfast, I decided to have a brownie and lick some stamps.  I hadn’t submitted an article since I was cured of Disco Fever.  Maybe today the doors of perception would open up for me, and I could get back to revealing the unbelievable truth about my sleepy suburb.  Sleep.  I could have used some, but instead I had to go to the bathroom.

When I opened the bathroom door, I saw before me a seven foot tall man with purple skin and a white mustache that was long enough to be a beard on most normal people.  

“Great!  You can see me.”  Said the man, who sounded elderly.

“Who are you?”  I asked.  That’s what you’re supposed to do.  At least that’s what the talking purple tree in Lisle told me a couple weeks ago.

“I’m Charlie Baffle, the Mayor of Old Chicago.”

“You’re a time traveler?”  I asked.  

“No!”  Laughed Baffle.  I heard his voice, but his mouth wasn’t moving.  Heck, his face wasn’t moving either.  He seemed to only be show emotions with his hands.

“I’m the mayor of the Old Chicago shopping mall and amusement park!”  Baffle continued.  “I need your help?”

For the first time, things weren’t making sense.  

“Why do you need my help?  I can’t think of anything I could help you with.”

Baffle made a laughing sound, but his face still seemed chiseled.  “You are a reporter from the Bolingbrook Babbler, right?”

“I guess.  I don’t know if they’ll still want me after my last article.”
“So you can help me!”  Said Baffle, waving his hands as if he was excited.  “Something is wrong in my mall!  I just know it dang nab it!”

Did he escape from an episode of “Little House on the Prairie?” I wondered.  No that didn’t make any sense.  Wait a minute!  Why was I trying to make sense of things.  The unbelievable truth doesn’t make sense!

“With your heightened senses, maybe you can figure out what is going on.”  Baffle suggested as he pointed at me with both hands.

“Well I could use some fresh tobacco.”  I replied.  What else could you get there that you would want to take home?

“That’s good.  I’ll look for your answer in the next issue of The Babbler.”  Baffle replied.  

Baffle then dove into the toilet and vanished down the pipe.  I shrugged then did my business.

After spraying deodorant, I hopped in my car and drove to Old Chicago.  Unlike last time, the road was fairly clear, and I made it to Old Chicago in record time.  Maybe it was red bunnies on the side of the road that made me want to drive faster?

The dome beckoned me to come back inside, and after easily finding a parking space, I did just that.

Don’t get me wrong, there were still people.  In fact, I knew they were real people because I could see their auras.  It’s amazing what the right kinds of stamps can do for you.  All the auras were bright and colorful.  Happy tourists, I guessed, who didn’t want to make the long drive to Great America.  So they settled for the mall!  Sales tax dollars for my sleepy village!  I guess.

I looked around.  Just the usual ghosts and auras.  Then I saw it.  A stream of energy flowing from one man’s aura.  I walked the fake streets of Old Chicago, past the Old Chicago Bear, and soon found myself in a head shop.  The energy flowed into one of the customers, a blonde haired woman with big hair and other big things I can’t mention.  She was looking at a “tobacco bong,” but I knew better!    Her aura was different.  As if it was a mix of different energies.  Like she had no aura of her own, but stole auras from others.

She turned and gave me a cold stare.  I couldn’t think of anything to say.

“You can see what I’m doing, can’t you?”  She asked, emotionless.  Either something was wrong, or she was really into Ayn Rand!

“Um yeah.”  I introduced myself.  “I’m with The Bolingbrook Babbler.”  I pulled out my notebook.  “I’d like to ask you a few questions.”

She pretended to smile.  “Yes, The Babbler!  I think it is such a groovy publication.  I would be happy to talk about my brood!”  


“Yes.” She whispered.  “My brood feeds off the emotions of the bright ones.  This place is filled with tasty energy.  I wish I could personally thank the person who built this place.  The combination of shopping and fairground fills us with energy.”

“Wait a minute.”  I interjected.  “You’re draining emotions from customers?  If you keep doing that no one will feel the need to come here.  You’ll force this mall to close!”

“We’ll worry about that in the future!  Now we just take all we want!”

“Haven’t you heard of the environmental movement, man?”  I asked.  “They’re teaching us the importance of conservation.  We have to maintain balance in nature, otherwise we’ll ruin the planet.  Think of this as the Earth and you’re an evil oil company, sucking it dry!”

“How can a few of us destroy your precious mall?”

“Look around you!  It used to be full of people, but now it’s not.  You’re driving people away by draining their desire to come here.  You have to conserve the emotional energy if you want to sustain it!”

Suddenly, a horrible sound piped through the public address speakers.  I instantly recognized as a song by Donny and Marie.  I covered my ears.

The vampire’s  aura turned black.  The stream of energy vanished.  She scrammed as snot shot ouf of her nose.  The other customers looked at her funny.  Horrified and in pain, she covered her ears and ran out of the store.

I tried to walk out, but the deadly music still reached my ears.  I was horrified at the butchering of whatever song they were playing.

“Hey there!”

I turned and saw Bolingbrook Mayor Bob Bailey looking at me.  His aura was blindly bright.  I covered my eyes.

“Could you let your readers know that we’re taking care this vampire infestation?”  He asked.  “We can’t afford to lose any more customers because Bolingbrook needs the tax dollars.  Do you understand?”

“Yes I understand, just stop blinding me!”

Bailey chuckled.  “OK.  Take it easy and do a little shopping here.  Think of it as your civic duty to Bolingbrook.”

I turned away from Bailey and made my way back to the fake streets.  I wondered around for several countless minutes trying to find any more streams.  I guess the evil imitation music drove them out.  I never figured that emotional vampires could recognize bad music.  I longed for the days when music was good, and hoped no one would look back at present day music and feel any sense of nostalgia.

Somehow, I ended up at the Biergarten Restaurant.  The food smelled good, and I could hear the sounds from fairground coming from the windows.  Maybe if I got a good seat, I could look out at the amusement park and find any vampires still inside.

Suddenly, a waitress tripped, and plate of spaghetti flew into the air.  Time slowed down.  A pair of meatballs floated in front of the noodles.  Together they made a face.  Like a flying spaghetti head!  

It spoke to me.  “Purify yourself and I will touch you with my noodlely appendage!”   It said to me.  “Don’t fooled by the stamps and brownies.  I can show you the true path if you promise not to be an ass!  For you shall be rewarded with strippers in the next world!”

The spaghetti landed on the lap of a man with blond hair and a groovy mustache.  He moaned as he looked at the waitress.  

“Look what you’ve done!”  He yelled.  “I will have to travel to another city to buy new pants!  You just reminded me why Bolingbrook has a shopping gap.  If only someone from the village hall would ask my opinion, I could show them how to turn Bolingbrook around!”

The man kept yelling at the waitress, and I walked away.  I brushed into another man with an odd aurora and curly black hair.  He smiled and handed me a sheet of paper.

“You can call me Rosie.  Can you sign my petition so I can get the Pride party on the ballet?”

I signed it, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what that head of spaghetti said to me.  Maybe I still was on the wrong path, and I needed to give up more than coffee.  Maybe I needed to clear my head out so I could could be touched by its noodle.

This is my last article for The Babbler.  It’s been a trip, but I’ve got to figure out who called me, and what do they want with me.  Farewell!

Please note: All articles on this site are works of fiction.

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