NEW YORK — Saying that no hashtag will be left unexamined, a senior BuzzFeed editor has sent cub reporter Ben Walker into the dark and dangerous world of Twitter to uncover the truth about a thwarted terrorist plot to attack a major European capital.
“Kid, here’s 10 bucks to order a pizza,” international news editor Karla Oakes told the 22-year-old Walker. “Take your iPhone into [fashion and culture editor] Allison [Schmidt]’s office, because she’s off sick today, and I want you to find out what really happened in Europe. Who was behind this plan? How did the police infiltrate the terrorist network? You wanted a chance to prove yourself, well, here it is.”
“Has anyone tweeted racist remarks about the incident?” she added. “Five million American millennials with only a passing interest in world events are counting on you.”
Exhausted and emotionally drained, Walker returned from Twitter four hours later after having glossed over nearly 6500 tweets, five of which he selected to be embedded in the hard-hitting, fact-laden 250-word article.
Christie Dirk, 13, was shopping at Oak Crest Mall with her parents and two younger brothers on Friday afternoon when her father, Derek, noticed that there was no line to visit Santa Claus. He ordered Christie and 7-year-old twins Christopher and Nate to sit on Santa’s lap for a photo — a family tradition.
What followed is truly heartbreaking.
Christie’s mother Julie later reported that her daughter’s face lost all color and that she nearly fainted.
“She kept repeating that she was too old, too old, too old to sit on Santa’s lap,” Julie said. “She looked at me with those big brown eyes and said, Mom, what if someone sees me? I’ll totally die.”
“And I didn’t listen to her,” Julie said. “I said, get your butt over there before your father gets angry.”
After the twins told Santa what they wanted for Christmas and it was Christie’s turn, that’s when she first exhibited signs of acute turpitudinem, a condition that while simply uncomfortable for most people, can be fatal for teenagers. The 13-year-old started trembling and her pupils became dilated.
As she was sitting on Santa’s lap with a blank expression on her face, two classmates from Maxwell Dunkirk Middle School walked nearby. According to several witnesses, the two snickering boys said, “Hey Christie, is that your new boyfriend?”
Erwin Ross, 62, who dresses up as the mall’s Santa every year, say that’s when Christie looked up at him with a mix of horror and contempt.
“She whispered something about being embarrassed and then she died, right there in my arms,” Ross says. “I didn’t even have time to give her a candy cane.”
Maxwell Dunkirk Middle School principal Lorenzo Hunter says that Christie was a promising young student who excelled at math and science, and who loved playing lacrosse. In her honor, the school is naming Dec. 19 as Christie Dirk Day. Every year on that date, every student will be required to wear a shirt with the last photo of Christie on it, the one her father took moments before she died.
“We need to make a serious effort to teach young people that it’s okay to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what you want for Christmas,” Hunter said. “Christie might have died of shame, but she did it for a good cause.”
Chris Runsup, 34, who was tasked on Saturday with making a reservation at the Blue Mesa Grill for himself and 10 friends, explained to the waitress that he takes very seriously his duty as the group’s chosen representative.
“Ma’am, I recognize that most of us have voiced a desire for one of your signature blue margaritas, and others said they wanted an ice-cold beer,” Runsup said. “However, as a Hamilton diner, I must defy the wishes of the majority, for they know not what’s in their own best interest.”
“Water for everyone,” he added.
Amid grumbles of discontent from Runsup’s friends, the reluctant waitress returned with 11 glasses of ice water.
“I know that my decision won’t be popular, but it’s not my job to do what’s popular, but rather to do what’s right,” Runsup said. “For a starter, we’ll take six orders of your vegetarian flautas with creamy queso dip.”
“And give us each a plate of your Albuquerque chicken enchiladas, with black beans instead of pinto beans,” he continued. “I’ve had them before, and I know in my heart of hearts that everybody will enjoy them.”
“They’re spicy, but not too much,” he added.
Blue Mesa Grill owner Dawn Shepherd, 54, says that customers who make reservations generally don’t order for everyone in the dining party, but the right does belong to them.
“It’s written down, right there in our customer bill of rights,” she said. “But it’s mostly to protect children, as a safeguard against them ordering something they’ll think is yucky, or that might give them a tummyache.”
Robert Pill, a lieutenant in the notorious Pfizer Cartel, was last seen around 10:30 a.m. at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas before blending in with a tour group of retirees from Nebraska and sneaking out past security guards and event staff.
FDA agent Brad Vax, who spent four years in the Pfizer Cartel working undercover as a supply chain manager, says that Pill rose through the ranks by dazzling his superiors with his detailed knowledge of Latin American distribution networks.
“Pill has overseen the trafficking of Viagra to rural villages in Guatemala, which has led to an increase of violent uprisings in the countryside,” Vax said. “He’s also responsible for a ruthless advertising campaign in Colombia that resulted in more than 200,000 people who suffer from high cholesterol asking their doctors if Lipitor is right for them.”
Pill, who is 54 years old and stands at just over six feet tall, was in Las Vegas to deliver a speech to other major drug organizations about the need to streamline approval processes in emerging African markets in preparation for the next generation of cancer-fighting ALK inhibitors.
“If you see Robert Pill, don’t approach him, don’t speak to him, just contact the FDA and we’ll bring him back for the keynote address, which has incidentally been rescheduled for Friday at 2 p.m.,” Vax said. “He is known to carry dozens of Pfizer-branded items including pens and tote bags, and he’s not afraid to give them out to total strangers.”
This the second such escape in recent memory. In February, CFO Susana “Numbers” Ortega and research unit head Wes “FDA Approval” Wu — both high-ranking members of the GlaxoSmithKline Cartel — escaped while being transported to a pharmaceutical convention in Boston. They remain at large.