Friday, 7 June 2019

Rhythm and Blues

In the beginning there was much debate on where the music originated. Many different theories and opinions. Some said Latin America, others China, Russia, The Philippines, West Indies, the list was diverse and endless.

There were many conspiracy theories too.

Some believed it was the government's doing, which was laughable really, unless every government in the world were all involved in the same dark plot together. I can just see North Korea and the USA getting round the table with the Russians and the Chinese to pull this one on the people, and besides, the politicians were affected just as much as the man in the street.

Other favourite scapegoats were The Illuminati, dissidents, radical factions, the alien conspiracy, which was my own personal favourite, was quite popular too.

The question of where the music had come from was soon to be overshadowed by other, more important issues.

The beat and tempo of the music seemed to shift and change subtly, making it difficult to define as one particular style or another, and not everyone who listened to it seemed to hear exactly the same tune.

The first DJ to play it on the radio swore he played the rock classic “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, but that was definitely not what came over the air.

Before long the music had infiltrated television and radio archives, internet scores, juke boxes, and even private collections, under the guise of almost every genre of music imaginable.

The one thing that was undeniable though, was the effect...

This music was poison to the mind.

No-one played this music intentionally, in fact no-one knowingly owned any, but the infiltration was deep now, hidden and unpredictable.

And when the notes played...

People wept openly, uncontrollably. Depression, anxiety, and anger ran rife. The murder and suicide rates increased tenfold. Families and friends turned on one another.

The hospitals and prisons were soon overflowing, and governments commandeered schools, warehouses, and even churches to accommodate the overspill.

Many thousands of temporary, barely trained nurses and police were drafted in to help cope with the crisis, but these too were also affected, severely limiting their effectiveness.

The music was analysed in studios and laboratories throughout the world. No subliminals were found, no hidden messages, no vibratory notes that may affect the central nervous system. Nothing!

One by one the music radio stations shut down and went off air. Youtube fought the system but eventually went under after some military intervention.

There were CD and cassette bonfires in the streets. Tech companies soon began to fall by the wayside due to lack of custom. Games consoles, stereo systems, PCs, anything that was capable of producing the sounds disappeared from the stores, which in turn led to rapidly escalating unemployment, and of course, all of this had a massive knock-on effect on the national, and global economy.

The world was sliding towards anarchy.

The slide became an avalanche. Unstoppable, irreversible.

I was only young when the fall came, but somehow I survived.

That was seventeen years ago.

Now, as I squat by the entrance to my cave, the carbine resting across my knees, an old, half-remembered tune drifts into my mind.

Involuntarily my fingertips begin to tap along on the butt of the rifle...

And I feel the tears rise in my eyes...

©2019 Stephen. J. Green.


  1. Ooh this was interesting! What if the melody was always in our heads, locked there since the dawn of time, like it was always meant to be this end? That would be a scary apocalypse scenario indeed. Shows how helpless we can be.

    I did enjoy the undertone of this story, Steve. Music is usually connected with happy emotions. Even when the songs are sad, there's still a wide range of emotions that they invoke in us, but we tend to cling to the happy side, the good memory. To see it here weaponized and stripped of any context, to drive people mad and towards despair was a nice twist. It makes me think of planetary music. The cosmos speaking...

  2. Hiya Cindy. Y'know, I never even thought of that scenario, a neural time bomb waiting for a trigger, but I like it.

    Glad you enjoyed the story, as I often do I left some blanks for the reader to fill in themselves, which I think works for some readers, but maybe not for others.
    The origin of the music was never to be discovered as humanity fought futilely to minimise the consequences, but "Weaponized" is a good description, as it would be unlikely to be an accidental infiltration.

    Could be someone's master plan ran out of control...?
    Best wishes.

  3. Now this is scary, brain washing from an unknown source Mmmm

  4. Hiya Helen.
    Yeah, since I wrote this I keep eyeing my CD collection with suspicion. LOL.