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In what I assumed was an unfortunate casualty of the most kickass New Year's Eve party in history, 5,000 birds dropped dead in Beebe, Arkansas last Saturday. Authorities quickly blamed a series of bright and frightening celebratory fireworks on the sudden, violent bird murder, or "birder" as it's known in the scientific community, but that explanation seemed less satisfactory when it was revealed that, about 100 miles away, thousands of dead fish washed up on the banks of the Arkansas River. Local theories that the fish were just "trying to get attention" were put to rest when, a day later, 500 birds died suddenly in Louisana. Before any of the ghosts of the Arkansas birds had a chance to talk about how they used to drop dead "before it went all mainstream," animals dying in large groups blew the hell up: On Wednesday, thousands of dead fish were found in Maryland and tons of dead birds were found in Kentucky, Sweden and Italy. Also all of the worlds bees are still dying. Now, birds and fish die literally all the time. In all likelihood, there's no real story here and the whole situation probably only seems odd because A) for the first time ever, people are paying attention to the number of dead birds in their towns and B) the media is reporting on it like it's a sign of the end of times.

On the other hand, it is totally the end of times. Global Birder is no laughing matter. It's so serious, in fact, that allegedly legitimate news outlet CNN asked professional actor Kirk Cameron to give his theories on the bird deaths, because he starred in the straight-to-DVD Left Behind series, a collection of movies that focuses on the apocalyptic idea of the Biblical rapture. The Born-Again Christian who played Mike Seaver on Growing Pains, shockingly, could not shed light on this situation. But, you may wonder, surely there are OTHER movies I can turn to for an explanation for all these deaths. If Kirk Cameron and a series of low-budget, fictional movies remain silent on the subject, where am I supposed to find any alarmist, insane possible explanations that are based largely on fiction and bullshit?

I've got six.

The Core of the Earth Has Stopped Spinning


The Core.

2003's hit(?) disaster film The Core features a bunch of crazy natural "occurrences," including the spontaneous death of thousands of pigeons who completely lost their shit in London. They slammed into statues, dove through windows, crashed into cars or just plain ate it by bombing the ground.

From The Core. Or possibly Arkansas. Or- OOH! More like Corekansas, right? Guys?

The great pigeon death, we learn, is due to the fact that the Earth's core has stopped spinning, which screwed with our planet's electromagnetic field. In addition to the kamikaze pigeons, we get earthquakes and various "super storms," all of which will kill everyone on Earth within a year if the core is not jump-started into spin mode again. A ragtag rescue team -- comprised of a geology expert, an astronaut, a computer nerd, some scientists, and this other guy -- hop aboard a state-of-the-art drilling vessel designed to withstand the high pressures and heat of the core thanks to its unobtanium-enforced outer shell, travel to the center of the Earth and set off a number of nuclear explosions, which get the core spinning again. All of the less important characters die heroically, and the two attractive protagonists you expect to get together survive and get together. I didn't mean to spoil the ending, but in fairness to me, that movie came out 7 years ago and totally sucked.

"What if I load a drilling machine with nuclear devices, drive to the center of the Earth, and then fire my fucking agent? It just might work!"

Why This Would Be Really Bad For Us:

If the logic behind this movie holds up, then we'd be totally screwed, because after the birds come supertornadoes and megatsunamis and ultrashityourpants. Never will America ever be prepared to deal with the Voltron versions of storms, we can barely handle regular storms.

I also can't imagine what kind of logistical nightmare having a massive hole directly to the core of the Earth would pose. All I know is that a lot of people would drop a lot of shit down it.

"Seriously, if everyone could please stop dropping pennies into the Earth's core..."

Likelihood That This is Responsible:

It's not, because the logic of that movie doesn't hold up. If the core stopped spinning, the Earth would stop spinning. The atmosphere would keep moving while the Earth stood still, and we'd all be dead as a result. As an apocalypse scenario, a stalled core isn't one that operates in phases, like "First the birds! Then some fish in Maryland! Then maybe eight more birds in Italy! Then, I guess I'll move on to snakes, or this one species of frogs I hate. I'll throw some tornadoes in, maybe blow up a bridge and then, sure, humans." It wouldn't work that way, we'd just all be dead.

But we're not, so we can rest assured that The Core won't come true and can hope against hope that it will never be remade.

A Giant Dome Has Been Placed Around America


Under the Dome, by Stephen King.

In King's massive 2009 novel, Under the Dome, a lotta dead birds show up on the ground in the small town of Chester's Mill, Maine, (mostly in the chapter titled "Lotta Dead Birds"). It turns out that a giant, transparent dome was placed over the town, (yes, exactly like in The Simpsons Movie), and all of the birds keep crashing right into it and dying, because the walls are clear, and birds are stupid. Bird corpses lined the borders of the dome, as if they were all waiting in line for bird medicine that would never come.

Oh, could we not get a photoshop of that? Too depressing? Okay.

The "Under the Dome" theory, while not even close to being considered a possibility by most scientists, assumes that a massive, invisible and impenetrable dome has been placed all around us, keeping us cut off from the rest of the world. I won't spoil who put the dome there in the first place, but it's Stephen King, so, you know. Either ghosts or aliens.

"Or boooooooth!"

Why This Would Be Really Bad For Us:

I don't know if you've read the book, but being trapped under that dome did not work out for the people of Chester's Mill. The fictional people of that town waited about 24 hours before they started rioting and killing each other, and they were all much smarter and more civilized than absolutely everyone I work with. The Cracked.com offices will waste no time, we'll immediately revert to our primitive selves, eating and screwing everything. Just everything. We declare martial law and start fighting each other when one of the three roads that leads to the office is temporarily closed for construction. We loot the office when it's cold outside.

Likelihood That This is Responsible:

Not very high, in fact I'm pretty sure my Dad and I are the only people who think it's happening, (we O'Briens are a notoriously dome-fearing people). Even if we're right and there IS a giant dome, if birds are also dying in Italy and Sweden, that's got to be a pretty big dome. You're practically just an Earth condom at that point. (Don't even think about it, King, I own the rights to and have a rough draft of my 'Earth Condom' horror novel already written, so back off.)

I will continue looting and eating all of my friends, though. Just to be on the safe side.

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Probably Something I Did (Part 1)


I don't mean to brag, but I've dumped a lot of urine in the Arkansas River. Like, a lot. I don't really like to go into my whole "process" because I feel like that spoils the magic, but suffice it to say that some of it is my urine, some of it was outsourced, and some of it is a unique artificial blend I put together in my lab a few months back.

Who's my toilet? You are, Arkansas River. Yes you are!

Am I saying that the impossible amount of urine I dumped killed all of those fish? No, of course not. Are the investigators who keep showing up in my apartment saying that? You betcha!

Why This Would Be Really Bad For Us:

I didn't just stop at Arkansas and, to be perfectly frank with you, I don't even remember where a lot of that urine went. If that special, homemade urine turns out to be lethal beyond the fish level, we are in for a pretty rough couple of months.

Likelihood That This is Responsible:

How does my urine explain all of those bird deaths, Investigator? Bam.

I don't own a vaporizer or whatever, and until I do, I'm not technologically equipped to turn my urine into a gas and release it in the sky, which means all that bird death had nothing to do with me. I am, at worst, responsible for the deaths of millions of fish and, at best, a guy who happened to be dumping his urine around the same area where a bunch of fish got themselves killed. One thing's for sure: that bird thing is on you. Not me.


We're All About to Pass Out and See the Future and Then ABC's Gonna Cancel Us



In 2009, everyone was desperately trying to make "the next Lost" while still showing an overwhelming lack of understanding of what made Lost watchable in the first place, (interesting characters, compelling mysteries, that one girl's butt), and ABC's entry in this race was FlashForward.

This is just the best butt.

In FlashForward a bunch of crows die and, immediately afterward, the whole world experiences a blackout that lasts 137 seconds. The ground is littered with bird corpses, who all seemed to collapse in midair for no reason.

While the humans are blacked out, they are all treated to a vision of the future, six months into the future, to be specific. They all try to make sense of their visions and one detective immediately springs into action and starts looking all over the world for an explanation. The rest of the series is spent trying to figure out a) why the birds died, b) what caused the blackout, c) if they can change their own future and d) if they'll get picked up for a second season. (Only one of those questions was answered.)

Why This Would Be Really Bad For Us:

It would bad for us because, unlike those guys from FlashForward, none of us would actually do anything if we suddenly flashed forward for 137 seconds. Have you ever had a dream that could have been a vision of the future? Did you ever do anything about it? Of course not, you're a rational human being. Humans are programmed to believe magic isn't real, so any brief vision of the future would just be shrugged off as a weird fever dream. In FlashForward, an average police detective blacks out, gets a glimpse of the future and immediately springs into action, spearheading a globe-spanning investigation aimed at finding out why the flash occurred.

In real life Daniel O'Brien blacks out and thinks nothing of it, because that happens all the time. He recalls a hazy vision that could have been six months in the future but immediately dismisses it and blames the hallucination on stress, or all that LSD he ate.

Likelihood That This is Responsible:

Pretty low. In FlashForward, only crows died, no other birds and certainly no fish. Whatever is killing our birds is doing so indiscriminately, so I'm guessing it's a different thing. But, if I'm wrong, assume every dream you have over the next couple of weeks is actually the future, and plan accordingly.

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An Event is Happening


The Happening.

In this I-refuse-to-look-up-the-year-this-movie-was-released-because-I-hated-it-so-much movie by M. Night Shyamalan, nothing happens to birds or fish, but all of the world's bees start dying for no clear reason. And before any of the world's scientists can say "It's because of inbreeding," everyone in America suddenly comes down with a case of the suicides.

That's right. All over the country, people stop what they're doing and kill themselves in horrific ways. Apparently, the plants of the world were sick of how humans were disrespecting their home planet, so they released a toxin that made any human within breathing distance kill him or herself, and the big twist is that I'm not kidding.

Why This Would Be Really Bad For Us:

Well, for one thing, that movie was a shitpile. It would mean that God or Science or whoever was running the show upstairs had finally run out of ideas and was reduced to relying on poorly conceived, hole-ridden storylines to keep Earth's plot moving forward. We'd be living in a world created by a director whose head is so far up his own ass he farts cavities.


Likelihood That This is Responsible:

None, no likelihood. Our bees aren't dying because of plants, they're dying because mankind has been forcing all of the brother and sister and cousin bees to mate with each other for decades, they're what happens when inbreeding dials it up to eleven. See, if you're the result of, say, one generation of inbreeding, (like Shyamalan, according to a theory of mine), you're just ass-backwards enough to be artistically and socially retarded, but you can still function, sort of. These bees are waaay down the line in a family dynasty of inbreeding. They've been inbreeding so hard that they're too stupid to not die. Hey, speaking of stupid...

Probably Something I Did (Part 2: Did Harder)


Timeliness is everything on the Internet. (Fine.) Timeliness and cats are everything on the Internet. The first birdpocalypse, the one in Arkansas, happened a week ago. I knew then that it would be good fodder for a column, but I also knew that a week in Real Time was about seven months in Internet Time, and something like three fortnights in Cat Years. The Internet changes so fast that most topics become stale while you're actually writing about them. If several dogs die or, hell, if a fat kid slips at an ice skating rink in the time it takes for me to publish this article, this and every other story about global bird death will already feel like yesterday's news.

Still, I really wanted to write about birder, so I casually complained to my fellow Cracked Columnist, Soren Bowie,early on in the week.


Daniel: I have the worst luck. A ton of birds and fish died over the weekend.

Soren: I can see how that might be rough for you.

Daniel: I want to write about it, but my column won't run till Friday.

Soren: On the spectrum of problems, this is really, really low. Just write about literally anything else, you can-

Daniel: I just wish more birds would die. If a few more died today or tomorrow or whatever, I'd be set.

And then I walked away, prepared to move on with my life. On Tuesday, of course, more birds died.


Soren: Dan, did you see this? More dead birds, this time in Louisiana.

Daniel: Yeah? Huh.

Soren: That's... what you wanted, right? It's awful, and you're awful for wanting it, but it's way more timely now.

Daniel: Think so? I don't know. Still pretty early in the week.

Wednesday -AM

Soren: Dead fish in Maryland! And birds in Kentucky! What the shit?

Daniel: I know right? As near as I can tell, I did this with my mind.

Soren: Don't be ridiculous, I'm sure-

[Soren's "DEAD BIRD" Google Alert flashes, informing him that dead birds were found in both Sweden and Itlay.]

Soren:Why are you doing this?! Stop it!

Daniel: I caaaaaaaan't! Plus, don't really feeeeeeel like it!

Which brings us to the present. Thousands and thousands of dead birds and fish in one week, after I happened to offhandedly mention that I wished more birds and fish died en masse for my own selfish needs.

Why This Would Be Really Bad For Us:

I have all the morality of a drunk eight-year-old and the self-awareness of a cold bag of ham, but in my occasional windows of clarity, even I'm cognizant of the fact that I am the last person on the planet who should have access to unstoppable mental powers.

Likelihood That I am Responsible:

I don't mean to alarm anyone, but one hundred and a million percent. If you have a pet bird or know any birds or are Larry Bird, I'm so, so sorry, but please get away from me, because you're just not safe. (My mental powers, while impressively thorough, are far from precise. Just trying to cover all my bases, Mr. Byrd.) I'd like to say I'm going to stop mind-murdering all of these birds but if I need to waste a few more for a sequel to this article somewhere down the line, or because I think it might impress a chick, I will do it in a tiny bird's heartbeat and feel nothing. The world as you know it will be replaced with a nightmare of my subconscious.

Yeah. Probably for the best that we couldn't get an image of that.

Daniel O'Brien is a contributing author toYou Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News, available wherever books are sold. He does not advocate birder.

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