It was a panic that had city parents on-edge for nearly three years.
It started on the West Side on the back of a bus-stop canopy. No one really even noticed at first.
Then it started showing up at the grocery store, in the schools, in forums online and even in IMs and texts among teenagers. Local police and parents were certain they were dealing with the the birth and spread of the next big drug hell-bent on destroying families.
All they knew was that, "Soylent Green," was in town, and it was everywhere.
The words adorned trash dumpsters, building walls, bridge ledges and even the fake fire hydrant in each of the city's two dog parks.
"I remember back in my day, we had all kinds of names for things," Delano Rigby, parent of two teenage sons, said. "We called had grass, crank, peaches, E, blow, and a million other things. Soylent Green just sounds to me like every other street drug."
A special unit of the local police department worked on nothing but the Soylent Green case, 24-7, but yet no evidence of any new substance, or new way to abuse a kitchen solvent surfaced.
"You can't bring drug dogs in to find drugs you've never seen before. They're dogs, not hippies," Lt. Steve Wikman said. "They can't sniff out intoxicants intuitively."
Then a break in the case sent the city into a spiral deeper than even the town's most notorious pessimist, the local reverend, could imagine. The break came on the Internet.
Authorities tracked social media threads for months before the truth about Soylent Green is People was revealed with one tweet.
"#soylentgreenispeople Girls softball today, people is unisex today."
The identity of the author is being witheld by investigators, until more information can be determined. However, the cryptic message wasn't cryptic enough.
"Well, my daughter plays softball," Detective Horatio O'Donnel said. "And then I got to thinking about what could possibly be meant by unisex, and how it all fit together."
O'Donnel sat at softball practice that day distracted by soylent green.
"'Soylent Green is people. Soylent green is people,' I kept saying to myself. Then i remembered a Ted Nugent concert I went to back in '78,'" O'donnel continued. "The Nuge said, 'You know something peep-hole, I'm here to rock,' in that exaggerated rock chatter, you know, and that memory just tied it all together.'"
By the end of softball practice, a team of police officers swarmed the city's high school and removed four boys and three girls from a small crawlspace by the girls locker room, in which a hole was cut that allowed the students to watch, via a peep hole fit with a soft, green, soybased comfort-view pad to rest one's eye for long periods of time.
While solving the mystery aleviated some of the city's anxieties, there was no celebration and little satisfaction in solving the case.
A wave of depression sat in, and it was compounded when the softball team would go on to lose every game remaining on the schedule.
"It was hard to be excited when we found out that, 'Soylent Green was People,' was simply code for a peephole someone drilled into the girls locker room, and not some super drug" Wilma Washington said, recalling the revelation.
Rigby summed it up with a memory from his own youth.
"I guess the best way to describe finding out something like Soylent Green is just a peephole, is like watching one of them Benji movies as a kid for the first time, and after Benji beats the bad guys, and he's running to snuggle up to the sick kid he saved, Benji gets hit by an Iroq-Z and goes airborne."
"It just gets you right here," O'Donnel added, nodding his head in agreement. and double-pump-pounding his chest.
The juveniles arrested have been punished by the courts, but the details of the punishments have not been released.
Hustler Magazine Founder Larry Flynt is scheduled to visit with the local school board, to discuss the donation of new athletic fields, science equipment, high-tech gear and a replacement wall in exchange for one fit with the Soylent Green peephole.
School officials refuse to comment on whether they will oblige him in his request should he ever actually arrive in town to discuss the matter.
Parents in the city continue to lose sleep over the ordeal.
"We dodge one bullet, stop another one and now we got Larry Flynt coming to town? Will it ever end?" Washington wondered.
The city is proof, there just isn't always an answer.
The only solace appears to have been found by Rigby.
"Hey, at least the cop wasn't a Chuck Berry fan or something, and it turned out that it was all about some kind of pee pole, whatever that might be," he said. "We've got the avoidance of that embarassment going for us."
True 'Dat Delano Rigby. True 'Dat.