SHIOCTON, WIThe nation's banking and portable-beverage communities were thrown into an uproar Monday with the discovery of a plastic sports bottle mysteriously bearing the corporate logo of a Shiocton, WI, financial institution.
The bottle, which measures nine inches in height not counting the attached plastic straw, appears to be a perfectly normal beverage container crafted by human means. Inexplicable to modern science, however, is the miraculous logo of FirsTrust Federal Security Bank, embossed upon opposite sides of the bottle.
"I don't know what to make of this. I'm still shaking," said Shiocton groundskeeper Ed Rundell, who discovered the uncanny bottle at Veteran's Park during his evening rounds. "I believe a higher power led me to this bottle, so that we may all learn from its uniqueness." Rundell's shift was proceeding as usual when he first spied the object under a playground slide at approximately 7:15 p.m. "I thought, 'Oh, somebody left a sports bottle here,'" Rundell told reporters at a press conference.
"I picked it up, figuring I'd take it to the lost and found. But then it caught my eye, something on the side of the bottle." What he saw, Rundell said, changed his life forever. "It was the FirsTrust bank logo. On a sports bottle! FirsTrust doesn't make bottles! They don't make sports drinks! It launched my brain into a whirling paroxysm of contradictions that I have yet to recover from, nor do I ever expect to." Ever since the bottle's discovery, people around the world have been struggling to cope with the find, with reactions ranging from exultation to panic.
Veteran's Park and the surrounding countryside has been transformed into a sea of humanity, as millions of believers surge toward the park in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the bottle.
"I am rethinking my understanding of the cosmos and my place within it," said Des Moines, IA, realtor Ted Unger, one of the millions who have made a pilgrimage to Shiocton to view the miraculous artifact. "I am also seriously considering banking at FirsTrust from now on." Standing in the park, a bearded, glassy-eyed man wearing what appeared to be a cardboard UFO costume said, "The sports-bottle-Atlanteans will make everything come through Alpha Centauri and Financial-Jesus-refreshment is gonna fix everything when the secret fiduciary planets align up at the blowing of the Gatorade-horn."
Scientists are at a loss to explain the bottle. "One expects it to be an optical illusion, a trick of the light, or some sort of mass hallucination," said MIT physics professor Dr. Edwin Carver. "Yet there it is, plainly screened onto the bottle. There are forces at work here that humankind cannot yet comprehend and may not be ready to confront. Pandora's Box has been opened. May God have mercy on us all."
President Clinton, in his weekly radio address, urged calm. "We must be strong and let events take their rightful course. This bottle is a mystery the world has yet to solve, but solve it we will, in due time. Meanwhile, let us be considerate to our neighbors, trust in God, and believe that the answer will be with us, when it is time." Rumors that Clinton has transferred all his personal funds to FirsTrust could not be confirmed at press time.
The miracle sports bottle is currently in the lost-and-found box at Veteran's Park with two baseball caps and a dog leash. If no alien or metaphysical entity claims the bottle within 30 days, it will officially become city property.