Drabbles, if you haven’t already heard of them, are stories that are precisely 100 words long. BookHippo features an original drabble every day as part of its email newsletter, which also informs subscribers of free and bargain eBooks.
Last week, BookHippo allowed me to bend the rules a little by featuring a short story made up of five individual drabbles, with an ‘episode’ published each day. This had to work not only as one 500-word story but also as five separate tales, each exactly a hundred words in length.
Writing this allowed me to experiment with the horror genre, something I am considering for the future. Although it was great fun, I think I managed to disturb myself too!
For anyone who missed it, here is the full version of Catchy.
Darren had been playing the same pop song on his computer for days now, and it was driving his mother crazy. It was such a racket – hardly a proper tune at all. Modern rubbish!
Most annoyingly, she often caught herself humming it. How could something so terrible be so catchy?
She stormed into his bedroom and shouted “Will you turn that bloody noise down!”
“Mum, you just don’t understand my music,” said Darren, like every teenager in history.
He turned the volume to maximum and smiled.
“…But you will.”
His mum’s scowl melted. The same smile grew across her face.
Once Darren’s mum started playing his favourite song too, the entire family quickly followed.
His kid sister played it at school, teachers and students dancing in corridors.
His dad played it at work, the whole office nodding in unison.
His grandma played it at her nursing home, triggering toothless grins and abandoned Zimmer frames.
Darren’s teenage friends liked and shared and YouTubed it. A week later, half the country had heard it. Half the country was smiling.
In his bedroom, Darren was also smiling but had now stopped moving. Except for his foot, endlessly tapping in time to the beat.
By the end of the month, most people had heard the melody. Had it been a real pop song, it would have been at number one forever.
Instead, people just stopped listening to all other music. Or doing anything else.
Darren’s family came into his room for the first time in weeks. He hadn’t moved from his bed at all, except for his foot that was still tapping to the rhythm.
Silently, with the song blasting at full volume throughout the house, Darren’s family carried him out and gently laid him inside the bathtub.
They waited for the second stage.
It was expected that Darren would be the first to reach second stage. He’d heard the song early, and adolescents were ideal, containing a suitable concoction of chemicals.
His family watched as it emerged slowly out of Darren’s ear canal, inch by inch. A thick, segmented coil of white fatty brain tissue, with three dots on its head.
It dropped into the bathtub, slick with blood.
Smiling the same smile, his family picked up their newest member. Washed it. Kissed it. Suckled it. Sang to it.
They left Darren’s body in the bath, foot still tapping rhythmically against the enamel.
A few months later, Darren’s family were going on holiday. As were the remaining people in the country who had somehow avoided hearing the song. A panicked exodus, thousands fleeing on planes and ships with hands pressed against their ears, desperate to escape infection.
Their newest family member went with them, safely hidden. This was a delicate stage of its lifecycle, but by no means the last.
By now the three dots on the worm’s head had become tiny blinking eyes and a circular mouth, which stretched wide when it sang.
Sang the same catchy song.
Sang with Darren’s voice.