October Scary Story,  short fiction

The Earworm of Doom

Greetings, loyal readers. It’s October, and that means one thing – scary story time! Every year, in celebration of October and Halloween, I release a special short story focusing on things terrifying and horrific. This month, I shall tackle the subject of music. What’s that? You thought the music posts were gone from aaronjedwards.com? Permanently migrated to audioperfecta.com? Oh, you are mostly right…..however this is no ordinary music post. This is a cautionary tale about what you listen to….and how it might eat your brain. This is….the earworm of doom. Mwahahahaha!

Chapter 1: The Discovery of the earworm of doom

No one knows where the earworm of doom came from. Some believe it to be an ancient curse converted to a pop song. Some believe the government purposely constructed the accursed song as a weapon of audio warfare. Still, others believe the earworm of doom was just a product of bad luck and lazy song writing. We’ll never know the truth, but we do know untold thousands are dead because of this accursed song! Thousands of souls, silenced due to a lack of silence….due to deadly song. 

For the most part….earworms are harmless. They might be annoying, they might even cause people to bicker….but no one ever suspected a simple song as a deadly plague…..until just a few months ago.

It all started in a recording studio in Los Angeles. Again, we don’t know the origin of the song, but we do know who patient zero is….a young, promising pop singer by the stage name of Stylin’ Jane. Her real passion, mind you was a sort of classical folk style, but her label told her she had to pay her dues first. They hooked her up with Sleazy G, an up and coming producer, who wrote a bunch of songs for her debut (and hopefully only) pop record.

Stylin’ Jane’s first recording session was rather uneventful, full of boring pop songs that one forgets ten seconds after the song ends. That is, until she started singing this accursed song. Her producer, Sleazy G, froze when she sang the song. He couldn’t believe his ears….something about the song caught his attention, and he knew this song would make Stylin’ Jane a star. More importantly. Sleazy G knew this would make him a lot of money.

“Where did you get that song?” Sleazy G asked.

“Like, I thought it was one of the…smack…like songs you wanted me to…smack…sing. Like…It was in the pile with the….smack….rest of the sheet music and stuff.” Stylin’ Jane said (in an “in character” tone between chewing gum smacks.

“Oh…yeah…of course…..of course it’s mine,” Sleazy G lied, “I must have forgotten about it. Let’s do another take.”

Stylin’ Jane, along with Sleazy G and a studio engineer recorded a few more takes, a handful more boring and forgettable songs, and called it a day. As the three individuals went about their business that day, they obsessively hummed the accursed song. The trio individually hummed the song all day, all night, and all day again. Days upon days, of humming the accursed song took a toll on two of the three. Stylin’ Jane was found dead in her studio apartment. The only clue to her death….a message in lipstick written on a mirror….Make the Bad Music Stop. An autopsy revealed Stylin’ Jane’s brain was totally liquified. The coroner had seen nothing like it!

Shortly afterwards, the studio engineer was also found dead. No autopsy was ordered, but this death was mysterious. His roommate just found dead one day – sitting in his room, with his headphones blaring Pink Floyd.

Would Pink Floyd serve as an antidote to the earworm of doom?

Chapter 2: The accursed song and the masses

Sleazy G, somehow was able to get the song out of his head. Looking back, the running theory is that his brain was exposed to so much bad music, he built a natural immunity to the earworm of doom. Regardless, untold thousands would still be alive if he had died of the earworm.

Instead, Sleazy G spread the earworm far and wide. As soon as he heard the news about Stylin’ Jane, he pushed the posthumous release of her album. You would think a lot of people in the record company would have succumbed to the song’s effects, but like Sleazy G, so many of them had been exposed to so much bad music – they were most likely immune. Sure, there were a few unexplained deaths….and sure….this raised fear and suspicion around the record company. Still, no one really suspected the song. They suspected the cafeteria food, the water, an unknown virus, but no one suspected a song! Why, that would be downright silly!

The first single, the accursed song, was released from Stylin’ Jane’s only album. Top 40 stations ate it up, playing the accursed song every hour on the hour. The program directors and DJs, who were evidently also immune to the earworm, as most of them survived. Of course, a few fill in DJs succumbed, and a host of staff at radio stations across the country fell dead, but no one connected the dots. No one could at that point. Even most of the listeners of the top 40 stations had no lasting effects. Sure, they hummed the tune for a few days, but stopped eventually. However, their parents, brothers, sisters, neighbors, and anyone who happened to be unlucky enough to be around when the mostly preteen and teenagers played the earworm of doom….they did not make it unscathed.

Tens of thousands of unknown deaths filled the mourges. No one could explain why – but they all shared similarities. Most complained about headaches during their final days, and they all had a mushy, melted brain. Authorities traced the deaths back to the mysterious radio station deaths…and then the mysterious deaths at the record studio. Finally, they traced this new plague to Stylin’ Jane herself.

RIP Stylin' Jane....patient 0 of The earworm of doom.

Chapter 3: Where did it come from?

A full investigation was held. Everything Stylin’ Jane touched, every person she talked to, her social media platforms…they were all scrutinized. No one could find any answers. A few friends and acquaintances had died of the mysterious death, but that was quite some time after Stylin’ Jane died.

Finally, a breakthrough came from Stylin’ Jane’s best friend since kindergarten – Marissa Benson. While talking to a low level federal agent, Jon Jones, Marissa mentioned her friend’s sudden obsession with the accursed song. Marissa sang the song herself, saying it was catchy. That night, Agent Jones went to bed, with the song still going through his head. He had never heard the accursed song before that day, but Marissa’s humming of it was all it took for the song to lodge itself in Agent Jones’ brain.

When Agent Jones woke the next morning, he still had the accursed song in his head. The song gave him headaches for a day or two….which was theorized as a possible symptom of the new plague. Agent Jones reported to his superiors that he believes he had been infected. He insisted on being studied during what would probably be the last few days of his life.

Doctors studied Agent Jones inside and out. They noticed, during a CAT scan, his brain suffered a sort of trauma and that certainly explains the headaches, but found no other signs of anything wrong. Agent Jones, was still hearing the song. He talked to his colleagues about how he couldn’t get the damned song out of his head.

“Maybe the song itself is the cause of the plague!” the agents joked.

“Attack of the killer song!” another agent chimed in.

“The Earworm of doom!” Agent Jones added, Hey, maybe that’s what Stylin’ Jane meant about “make the music stop!”

The three agents suddenly stopped laughing and looked at each other in a cold silence. It sounded preposterous! But could a song actually be deadly?

Normally, scientists would have laughed in the faces of the agents, but these were desperate times and they had no other answers. A few doctors working with Agent Jones decided to run with the new hypothesis. Meanwhile, the agents pulled their weight with the FCC and law enforcement agencies. The song was immediately and forcefully yanked from every media outlet within the United States. PSAs were blasted all over radio stations. The song itself was declared a weapon of mass destruction, and distribution of the song would be met with severe punishment. Several members of a fraternity were arrested and sentenced for 20 years, just for playing the song at a party!

Sorry frat boys, the accursed song is not a prank.

Chapter 4: A race for the cure

Scientists in other countries mocked the group of scientists, and accused them of scapegoating until a trend was discovered. The countries that had the accursed song played on top 40 radio had a problem with the plague as well. Meanwhile, countries such as Sweden and Portugal, saw no signs of the plague….and also did not have the accursed song on their pop stations.

A worldwide effort was launched. Scientists studied the song, its effects on rodents and then apes to find every single one of the subjects had died. Human trials would be next….but who would volunteer for such an experiment? Shamefully, prison inmates were used – desperate times called for desperate measures – that was they motto they quoted as they sent roughly two dozen inmates to their death. Sure, not all the inmates died. Half of them came out unscathed. Still….it was becoming more and more evident that the accursed song was causing the plague. Add this to the fact that the plague stopped spreading in the United States almost immediately after purging the song from all media….the earworm of doom was somehow responsible – but more testing had to happen.

Shortly after, a curious thing happened. An inmate, exposed to the song was not affected….at all. Again, not everyone died from the song…but everyone reported having the song stuck in their head for some time. More and more tests, on more and more inmates, and the same results. A few brave scientists volunteered to be exposed themselves…with the same results. Somehow, the song lost its power. Somehow, the song was no longer fatal. The earworm of doom turned benign. The mysterious plague was….apparently…over.

Epilogue: The Earworm of Doom

Oh, but do not be fooled….for the plague could crop up again at any moment. We still don’t know what caused the plague….we just know the delivery method. Perhaps the earworm went into remission only to hit us again when we least expect it. Perhaps a new earworm will bring a new plague. We just don’t know.

As far as what the earworm sounded like….well….for those brave enough – the embargo is over and you can find the earworm on Youtube. Oh, but be careful….the song has killed more than we can measure…and could kill again. In fact, be careful of every new song you hear…..you never know when a new plague will form from the latest pop star. Why, I hear Stylin’ Jane’s friend Marissa, under the stage name Mari B, is working on an album herself….and the studio engineer complained of headaches just after the recording session.

Another earworm of doom could come at any moment.
And so the cycle begins anew….

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