Todd sat glumly at the back of the schoolbus and wished the girls around him would stop singing that stupid song about croissants. It wasn't that their singing wasn't good enough, it was that they sang it too well. They really made Todd want to join in, but as Todd had been told countless times, he had the worst singing voice in the city. The girls always shot him dirty looks whenever he sang along, no matter how quietly. His voice always cracked and shattered normally melodious notes, and he had a total inability to carry a tune. He really had no musical talent whatsoever. Not only could he not sing, he was also pathetic at playing musical instruments, whistling and even clapping. Todd felt this shortcoming accutely since both his parents and his younger sister were involved with their church choir. Todd had never been asked to join.
The girls switched to another popular song, "Moped Fella", a song Todd really liked. Todd just listened with an envious scowl on his face, struggling desparately to resist the catchiness of the tune. But as the girls reached the chorus - "Moped fella, ridin' that moped, Moped fella, who knows where he's goin'?" - Todd could resist no longer. He began quietly singing with his mouth closed. Just softly, just so he could feel like he was singing. "Hmm-hm hmhm, hmmn hm hmmhm, Hmm-hm hmhm, hm hmm hm hm hmmn?" The sound which managed to escape through his unopened face was nothing more than a soft hum ... a fairly-pleasant sounding hum, Todd noticed with surprise. He hummed a little louder. Yes, yes, not bad at all. He was carrying the tune very nicely. One of the singing girls even looked at him and sort of smiled. Todd smiled back and hummed "Hmm" as he gave a small wave.
When the bus came to Todd's stop, Todd hopped off and hummed a little to himself as he walked the rest of the way home. It seemed like the more he hummed the more powerful he felt. Humming was an incredible rush, Todd noticed. It wasn't all friendly and silly like they showed it on TV. It got you power, and influence, and babes. When he got home, he made a point of sitting in his room, and humming along to songs on the radio as he did his homework. When that was done, Todd kept humming as he doodled drawings of himself standing in a podium, set high above a crowd of thousands of adoring fans. He was humming "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" for them as they cheered, and clapped, and screamed. And screamed. And screamed.
During the next few days, Todd hummed along to the singing of pop songs on the bus with even more melodiousness and vigour. He was also able to hum much louder than before. Several people sitting near him gave him curious smiles. Sometimes Todd smiled back, but not always. He didn't need their attention anymore. He knew he was humming better than most of them could ever hope to, and that in a world where humming was power, he would be their overlord. He hummed a little in class when he was nervous and needed to calm himself down, or whenever a teacher criticized him or complained about his work. At church, he hummed passionately whenever the choir performed or whenever hymns were sung. He felt like he was conducting the ceremonies with his iron hum. At home, he loved the feeling of power he got from humming while listening to the radio or watching music videos. He also hummed himself to sleep at night. Before long he was humming while he slept, while he watched TV and even as he ate his breakfast cereal.
After a few weeks of this, Todd's mother approached Todd as he sat reading a magazine in the living room. Todd was humming a somewhat bone-chilling version of "The More We Are Together" loudly and with feeling. With a look of concern on her face, Todd's mother asked, "Todd, you certainly have been humming a lot lately, is something wrong?"
"No," Todd said, "hm HMMMMM hm hm hm-hmmhmm, hm-hmmhmm, hm-HMMhmm..."
"Are you sure Todd? The pastor and I have been talking about all the humming you've been doing in church lately, and... well..." Her voice trailed off.
"Hmmm?" Todd asked, putting down his magazine and looked at his mother in a puzzled way.
"Todd, all this humming has changed you. What you are doing isn't natural. I-It's unholy," Todd's mom said in a worried voice.
"Hm hMmm-mm hm hmmm," was Todd's only reply. He didn't bother picking up the magazine again, but simply sat back in the comfortable chair and hummed various symphonies for the rest of the evening. Even when his family called him for dinner, he simply hummed that he was busy. "Hmmm HMsy." And he continued his loud, desparate humming even as the sun set and the living room eclipsed into darkness. Hummed onward even as the glow of the moon cast the sinister shadow of a gnarled tree branch upon his humming face. Hummed on even as he went to his bed, hummed himself to sleep, and hummed all though his slumber. Hummed through his dreams of standing at the bottom of a cliff, he and his thousands of bat servants humming a chilling rendition of "Skip To My Loo", as everyone he knew leapt off the cliff in order to hear him better.
The next morning Todd was too busy humming a dark and sinister version of "Bingo (Was His Name-O)" to speak a word to either of his parents, and simply scared his little sister away with an angry hum when she asked why he was dressed all in black.
"Todd, please do not hum at the table," Todd's father said timidly.
Todd hummed a small chuckle and then proceeded to hum even louder and more furiously. "... ... hm-hm-hM, Hm HimNM Hmm Hmm Hmn-MM."
"H-Honey... you're going to wear out your vocal chords!" Todd's mother pleaded.
Todd hummed louder still as he finished his breakfast and left for school, and did not reduce the volume of his eerie hummed version of "Bingo (Was His Name-O)" by a decibel during the bus ride to school. The girls had no smiles for Todd now, only a few worried glances. A few girls around him tried to start singing but Todd drowned them out and hummed them silent.
Nor did Todd see fit to reduce the volume of his hum during his first period science class. The teacher gave Todd a few glares, and then started speaking in spite of Todd's humming. The teacher appeared amazed when Todd continued to hum at full volume even after he'd been speaking for a full minute. The attention of Todd's classmates was fixed on Todd. Todd's science teacher stopped his lecture.
"TODD! WOULD YOU PLEASE STOP HUMMING 'BINGO'!" he yelled.
"HM-HM-MM-MM-MM! HMM HMH-MH MHM HMH MHNH-MN!!" Todd hummed, louder than ever. Todd now hunched over and glared at the teacher with a small, cruel smile on his lips.
The teacher stared back for a moment but then turned away, as if unable to take any more. He walked over to the public address system control and paged the office.
"Hello?" asked the voice of a female secretary over the PA.
"Hello this is Mr. Farouk and I have an unruly student, could you please send a security guard to room 314?" the teacher said.
"Mr. Farouk? Could you repeat that please? I can't hear you above that noise."
As Mr. Farouk repeated his request, Todd began to hum louder still. Mr. Farouk began yelling into the intercom and the secretary began yelling back that she could not hear him above that humming sound. Mr. Farouk began screaming as the secretary continued to yell at him, but no-one could understand what she was saying anymore. The din of Todd's humming was all-enveloping and seemed to grow continuously louder. As Mr. Farouk clutched his chest and slumped to the ground, several of the girls opened their mouths as if they were screaming, but no sound could be heard. Test-tube bottles and mason jars began to vibrate off the countertops and soundlessly shatter on the floor. A stampede towards the doorway began, the students' mouths wide as they emitted soundless screams and clutched their ears to stop the deafening, life-destroying hum.
Suddenly all the students appeared wide-eyed as they backed away from the door and the school security guard came through, his hand on the gun in his holster. The elderly guard was wincing terribly, and was forced to put his hands to his ears as Todd began to once again sound out the gruesome tale of Farmer Brown's poor dog at a still higher volume. Then, although he appeared to be screaming in pain, the guard managed to pry his right hand away from his right ear and withdraw his gun from the holster. He mouthed some words at Todd, but it was no use. The vile hum was somehow becoming louder still. The guard took aim for the centre of all the evil, Todd's voice box, and pulled the trigger.
Some say that Todd continued to hum for a full five minutes after the bullets pierced his throat, before finally going down to hum with Satan in hell. And rumour has it that sometimes, in the corridors of Todd's old school, late at night mostly, you can still hear the faintly hummed tune of "Bingo (Was His Name-O)".
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