E--After a decade of aggressive expansion throughout North
America and abroad, Starbucks suddenly and unexpectedly closed its
2,870 worldwide locations Monday to prepare for what company insiders
are calling "Phase Two" of the company's long-range plan.
"Starbucks has completed the coffee-distribution and location
establishment phase of its operation, and is now ready to move into
Phase Two," read a statement from Cynthia Vahlkamp, Starbucks'
chief marketing officer. "We have enjoyed furnishing you with
coffee-related beverages and are excited about the important role you
play in our future plans. Please pardon the inconvenience while we
fortify the second wave of our corporate strategy."
Though the coffee chain's specific plans are not
known, existing Starbucks franchises across the nation have been
locked down with titanium shutters across all windows. In each coffee
shop's door hangs the familiar Starbucks logo, slightly altered to
present the familiar mermaid figure as a cyclopean mermaid whose all-
seeing eye forms the apex of a world-spanning pyramid
Those living near one of the closed Starbucks
outlets have reported strange glowing mists, howling and/or cowering
on the part of dogs that pass by, and electromagnetic effects that
cause haunting, unearthly images to appear on TV and computer screens
within a one-mile radius. Experts have few theories as to what may be
causing the low-frequency rumblings, half-glimpsed flashes of light,
and periodic electronic beeps emanating from the once-busy shops.
In addition, newly painted trucks marked with
the nuclear trefoil, the biohazard warning symbol, and various mystic
runes of the Kaballah have been spotted rolling out of Starbucks
Above: The front of a temporarily closed Starbucks in Canton, OH.
A spokesman for Hospitality Manufacturing, a restaurant-supply
company that does business with Starbucks, provided some insight as
to what Phase Two might entail.
"This week, they cancelled their usual
500,000-count order of Java Jackets and ordered 1.2 million Starbucks-
insignia armbands instead," Hospitality Manufacturing's Jasper
Hennings said. "They also called off their standing order for
restaurant-grade first-aid kits, saying they had a heavy-duty source
for those now. And, most ominous of all, they've stopped buying
"I don't like the looks of this,"
added Hennings before disappearing late Monday night.
No Starbucks employees were available for
comment, as those not laid off in January's "loyalty-based
personnel restructuring" or hospitalized in the series of
freakish, company-wide milk-steamer malfunctions that severely
scalded hundreds of employees, have been sent to re-training centers.
Remaining Starbucks employees earmarked for re-
training are being taught revised corporate procedures alongside
15,500 new hires recently recruited from such non-traditional sources
as the CIA retirement program, Internet bulletin boards frequented by
former Eagle Scouts, and the employment section in the back of
Soldier Of Fortune magazine.
More insight into Phase Two was provided by the
company's most recent quarterly stockholders' report, which features
a map of North America showing the location of every existing
Starbucks. Lines drawn between the various stores form geometric
patterns across the U.S., including five-pointed stars, Masonic
symbols, and, in the Seattle area, the image of a gigantic Oroborous
serpent wrapped around an inverted ziggurat.
Starbucks management has been tight-lipped
regarding the upcoming changes. No upper-level executives have been
seen in public since the first of the month, and no details seem to
be forthcoming. Visitors to the Starbucks web site, however, are
greeted with a letter from Starbucks founder Howard Schultz reading
"To our valued Starbucks customer: Just
wait until you see the exciting changes we've got in store for you as
part of our new Phase Two. When you finally see what we've got
brewing here at Starbucks, you'll have no choice but to love it."
Above: A Starbucks barista near the Indiana-Ohio border engages in
reconnaissance of an undetermined nature.