CHICAGO—In what is being called the first conceptual terrorist attack on American soil, the landmark Sears Tower was encased in 18 million tons of strawberry gelatin early Monday morning, leaving thousands shocked, angry, and seriously confused.
Authorities called to the scene of the senseless attack said they could do little to control the large crowds of dangerously bewildered citizens, many of whom searched desperately for some semblance of meaning in what had just taken place. As of press time, 11 night security guards were still trapped inside the famous structure, their rescue unlikely until the Jell-O melts.
"My God, it's just awful," said commuter Nick Dawson, one of countless Chicago residents who struggled to comprehend what had occurred. "Why would anyone do something like this?"
Tentative speculation that the dessert enclosure was in fact an act of terrorism was quickly confirmed after a group known only as the Prophet's Collective took credit for the attack in a three-hour-long video that surfaced on the Internet.
"Your outdated ideas of what terrorism is have been challenged," an unidentified, disembodied voice announces following the video's first 45 minutes of random imagery set to minimalist techno music. "It is not your simple bourgeois notion of destructive explosions and weaponized biochemical agents. True terror lies in the futility of human existence."
According to a 2007 CIA executive summary, the terrorists responsible for masterminding the attack are likely hiding somewhere in Berlin's vast labyrinth of cafés. Though officials said they didn't know if any of those involved in carrying out the plot were still in Chicago, several dozen local performance artists and interpretive dancers have been brought in for questioning.
"We believe that this is the same group responsible for the 2005 Saran-wrapping of the American embassy in Paris," CIA director Michael Hayden said. "This is an extremely dangerous organization with absolutely no regard for American tastes and sensibilities. If left unchecked, it could forever change the face of contemporary terrorism."
Hayden said the CIA is working closely with the National Endowment for the Arts to cut off all grants that may serve as funding for the group. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has begun monitoring any large purchases of gravy, tinfoil, pig's blood, and barbed wire in hopes of preventing another aesthetic tragedy.
"We are calling upon all citizens to remain vigilant during this difficult and utterly peculiar time," Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley said during a press conference earlier today. "The city needs your help to ensure that the disturbing message sent to us by these terrorists today, whatever it was, never happens again."
"If you see something weird, say something," Daley added.
While officials have yet to determine the purpose of the attack, a number of potential theories have emerged, including the sudden deregulation of the U.S. economy, the destruction of culturally significant landmarks, and maybe the fact that man, in his essence, is no more than a collection of irrational fragments, incapable of finding reason where no reason exists.
A secret communiqué leaked by the Prophet's Collective, however, decries these theories and several others as being "completely off," and goes on to call the American people "cultural infidels."
Though many Chicago residents are still attempting to wrap their heads around the attack, some in the Windy City have refused to classify the Jell-O encasement as a terrorist act at all.
"I'm no expert, but I know terrorism when I see it," said Kathy Atwood, a Hyde Park mother of four. "Where is the devastating loss of life and massive destruction of infrastructure? This doesn't move me to run for my life at all."
She added: "Real terrorism takes years of training and meticulous planning. My 6-year-old kid can make Jell-O."
The DHS said it has taken additional measures to secure the Brooklyn Bridge following today's Jell-O attack, as initial evidence suggests that the New York landmark may or may not be the site of "found terrorism."