Ear Worms

We realised that the Ear Worms were alien creatures one day too late.

They’d spent decades slowly burrowing into our brains, wriggling through our auditory canals, humming little tunes as they moved relentlessly onward. They were a patient species, as much by necessity as by design, myopically focused on one thing, and one thing only.

The complete subjugation of humankind.

No one noticed.

Every day, we all went around humming little loops of tunes, like it was perfectly normal, sometimes the same snippet of music for weeks on end. One time, I had the theme tune from The Thin Blue Line stuck in my head for six months, unable to quite remember what it was that was looping. The day I pinpointed the tune was the day the next tune began, like it was on some sort of playlist. Then it was Cecelia. Then it was Hail To The Chief. Then it was Genie In A Bottle.

And slowly they continued their invasion.

Unnoticed.

Patient.

Ubiquitous.

Stealing our planet from right under our noses, as we happily hummed along to the theme tune from The Brady Bunch, or whistled the jingle for buy Mennen.

Then, when they were all in position, the tune suddenly changed. Suddenly, it wasn’t random, or varying depending on the person. In one instant, it was the same tune for everyone, the same little loop of music, one just out of grasp, one teasingly on the tip of your tongue, you knew what it was but you just couldn’t place it.

We started to collectively go mad.

It was subtle at first. You’d walk into a quiet lunchroom, and someone would be humming the same tune you had going round your craw. A few days later, the whole room was whistling it in time. No-one said anything, but within another week, it was all we could talk about.

‘Have you got it stuck in your head too?’

‘What is it? I know I know it, I just can’t …’

Before long, it was all consuming. We dreamt about the tune, we got rid of our earbuds and walked along the street, belting it out as one massive chorus line. Whole blocks of cities devoted themselves to staging elaborate stagings of the tune, with kids leaning out of windows to add their voices to the cacophony.

It got so we could focus on nothing else. The tune was all there was. We didn’t eat. We only drank to whet our whistles for the next rendition. We started to die. And as our coffins descended into the ground, or slipped behind the curtains into the flames, the organ played the Tune.

I’m the only one left now.

The ear worms live in our soil, having burrowed out of the decaying skulls of their vanquished hosts. The ground rumbles with a deep, bass version of the Tune, and all I can think about is how I am going to rebuild the internet so I can go online and compare car insurance prices.

There’s a cliff over there.

I’ll be off now.

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