Ever gotten a song stuck in your head? Even your favorite song slowly transforms into something new; something with the same words, the same beat, but an entirely different effect…

Isn’t it amazing how just a few strums of a guitar or beats on a drum can take over something as powerful and complex as the human mind? A five second jingle can stop your brain from working. I suppose that's the way it works. Sometimes it takes something small, something simple, to stop a complicated and powerful machine. If it gets inside and it refuses to leave, it can break you

A soft hum tore down the street, the cozy blanket of sound seeming to make it all darker, seeming to steal the ambient light like a hungry predator. The car, the tree, the sign post off to the left, the house across the street…Everything faded into the melancholy notes echoing from the only man stupid enough to still be standing in the street. It was late, it was cold, and a storm was brewing all across the city -- In more ways than one. Lain’s eyes rested solemnly towards the ground with despondence. He watched the gritty asphalt, thinking quietly to himself about the famous lines of Nietzsche -- something about staring into the abyss and it staring back…He couldn’t quite remember. He had a lot on his mind. Does it work the same way with asphalt? If he stared long enough into that cold, jagged road, would he fade away into the surface? That was the hope; that was the only thing that was left now.

As his thoughts faded away, his clouded mind slowly reopened to the world before him. It had long since begun to rain, and now streams of water poured in torrents off of his soaked hair and down his curving cheekbones. The water ended its flood on the man’s chin, unevenly cascading off of the stubble and adding to the puddle accumulating jealously below his feet, as if each of the drops desperately wanted to climb back up his frozen legs. Now, standing alone in the rain, Lain slowly came to the realization that he was no longer staring at the asphalt, but rather into the reflection of a tall boy wearing a bright, red leather jacket. He blinked several times as it dawned on him that he had owned that same jacket for years, though it took him several more moments to recognize his own face. The raindrops pushed reluctantly down his gentle visage, reflecting themselves in the puddle like vicious tears.

They might as well have been real; the mere sight of them nearly invoked sobs. But Lain solved that problem; he simply denied his emotions just as he had always done. Normally this sort of thing would require a sarcastic comment, a witty one-liner to take his mind off of the subject at hand. But, in this case…

He sucked in the cold air around him, using his lungs like a radiator to try to cool his hot-beating heart as he reached his right hand deeply into his coat. After a few seconds of fumbling, an action which Lain couldn’t truthfully say was unintentional, he slid his fingers around the rough metal handle of his sidearm.

…In this case, it was very important that he didn’t think about anything else.

The humming ceded, continuing further down the street to infect another neighborhood as it sensed a change in the air. It was the one thing he had left from his old profession, the one remaining relic of his former life. He pulled the pistol out of his red jacket held it out in the palm of his hand, reluctant to put his fingers back upon the device. It alarmed him, how warm the handgun was. Most likely it was just because it had been resting next to Lain’s racing heart the entire day, but Lain suspected that it knew what was happening, it somehow learned of his intention and was urging him on…

He wouldn’t be surprised. That weapon had instilled more confidence in him than any person; that cold steel touch had warmed his tepid mind in ways that only soul mates could. Lain had written more unbelievable stories with the barrel of that gun than Shakespeare and his typewriter. Sometimes he even wondered if they were real, if all of those whispering threats and screaming fears that sizzled the back of his mind were real. He wondered if there was really a reason why he could never sleep at night, but passed out during the day; why did he always felt like, at any moment, the ground underneath would melt away, and he would helplessly tumble away into the dark. But life was a persistent illusion. Life always found him. Before he knew it, that same old music was playing, that same old song that haunted his actions. Gun blasts sounded through his mind like a steady drum beat, quick and intense for moments before lulling into shocking silence, exhorting the players to continue in their due course. Howls and screams are little more than wailing instruments in the midst of it, all melding together to form an exquisite opera. All of the musicians knew the lyrics; they always sing their chords perfectly.

“Time to sing again,” he said with a chuckle, mocking his own inner monologue as the pistol in his hand banished it to the far reaches of his sanity.

Gliding his hand across the top of the muzzle, his fingers mechanically latched onto the serrated end of the upper receiver. With a hydraulic pull, he slid the long metal piece back slowly, pushing against the large spring inside until it sighed, clicking into place. Lain stared down into the open weapon, watching the .45 caliber bullet suspiciously as it eagerly edged towards the chamber. Now, he moved his thumb across the side of the pistol until it rested upon a small lever which divided the upper receiver from the lower. Pushing it down solidly, the spring released, snapping the gun back together with a malevolent hiss. Inside the chamber now rested a short, stocky round, and six of his friends were all jealously anticipating their turn.

Now he pushed back into himself and took a step back towards consciousness. Now he pulled his coat around him tightly, suddenly feeling the cold water running down the small of his back, and he took a step towards the house across the street. The raindrops were no longer reluctant to leave -- they knew where he was going and didn't care to be dragged along. The brief words he spoke earlier still hung brightly upon the pallid street, washing around the corners but refusing to drain away. Who was he speaking to when he spoke so plainly, bluntly for the first time in his life? Whose turn was it? God, how he wished he could just stop singing

Lain held the weapon tightly, his finger hovering over the trigger with practiced ease but shaking like virgin. Wide-eyed and terrified, his boots clashed through the muddy waters in the clean avenue, towards that one, large house. It was only a few yards away now. He’d be fine as soon as he got inside; he’d be okay as soon as he was out of the dark. The dangerous hum started again, about the same time as the muffled thud of the staircase -- just before the deep breath and the click of the safety. There was that damn music again.

I wonder...Has anyone ever gone insane from having a tune stuck in their head?

Has anyone ever died singing that same, old song...?

Just a short story that I have been dying to get out for a while. It's based off of a character that I thought up a long time ago, and this should have been the culminating scene towards the end of the story.

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