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What The Hell is That Song

Author since 2015 9Stories 1 Follower
What The Hell is That Song

Every now and then, I get a snatch of a song running through my head. When that happens, it can drive me nuts, and it’s a devil of a time trying to get another song in there to replace it. It’s gotta be another song, though. I can’t ever just have a head full of peace and quiet. Sometimes the song I try to listen to and replace the persistent one will instead mix with it, creating this weird cacophonic mash-up in my skull that makes me want to stab somebody.

In the last several weeks, there’s one song that’s been pretty persistent, and the craziest part is that I have no idea who the artist is, what the song’s name is, or even the words. All I can remember of it is a single refrain that repeats the same line three times. The first time is clearly the main melody, the second is a counterpoint, and the third is the continuation of the main melody. It’s a strangely pleasant song, sounding like something Del Amitri would come up with, but I’ve listened to their entire repertoire, and nothing matches.

Whenever I have heard it in the past, it’s always been in a crowded mall or restaurant, and I can barely make out even the tune over the noise of other people. The only part I recognize is the part that repeats in my head, and so my brain picks it up above the noise, only to tune out again once that part is over.

As best I can make out, the line is “When I turn it out”. I have no idea what that means, but that’s as close to what I hear as any lyrics.

When I tuuuuuurn it ouuuuuuut…

When I turn-it-ou–ou-ou-ouuut…

When I tuuuuuurn it OUUUUUT…

On that last line, the singer soars up into falsetto. He has a light tenor voice as it is. Like I said, not at all unpleasant to hear. I have just kept wishing of late that I knew more of the song, or even what those lyrics were saying.

Like a time a few weeks ago that I overheard it somewhere in the background at work.

I work in a cubicle farm. What I do there is not important. I don’t mean I don’t want to tell you; I mean it just isn’t important. At all. If I were to come in to work and all my co-workers had been brutally murdered, I doubt anyone would notice.

We spend a majority of our day filling out pointless reports. Remember the movie Office Space? That’s my life, in a nutshell. The worst part is, it takes up most of my life, is pure drudgery the entire time, and leaves me too exhausted to do much else when I get home. Doing boring, repetitive work is probably the most tiring kind of job one can do. Even a rigorous physical job still leaves one feeling like they’ve accomplished something. My job is a soul-sucking nightmare.

But, regardless, sometimes someone turns a radio on to break the monotony. It rarely works, but this one time, I swear I heard that song again. I was sitting at my desk, realizing how much overtime I was going to have to put in so I could actually finish all my reports for that day, when I heard that song again. But this time the words sounded different to my ears.

You’re not geeeeeetting ouuuuuuut…

You’re not get-ting-ou–ou-ou-ouuut…

You’re not geeeeeetting OUUUUUT…

Heh. Fitting. I was likely going to spend the whole evening looking at this pallid office interior. Not getting out indeed.

I had a date that weekend. I don’t date much anymore. In fact, my social life in general kinda sucks. But this girl was cute, even if she was abominably stupid. I kept listening to her natter away at me all evening, pretending to be interested, but only because this girl was sending me signals that if I paid enough attention to her, she might pay special attention to me at the end of the night, if you catch my drift. Some of you might be judging me for that, but you just don’t get it. I get little to no excitement in my life. I have few friends and almost no time for romance. I gotta take what I can get. Most nights, if I want any action, I get it with RedTube and my only steady girlfriend, Palm-ela Hand-erson. Unless I was missing my signals, this girl was probably as hard-up as I was, and just as casual about who she used for service.

But about half-way through the date, that song came on over the PA system. It was quiet. Almost too quiet. But I heard it, and I thought the lyrics sounded different yet again.

She’s not puuuuuutting ouuuuuuut…

She’s not put-ting-ou–ou-ou-ouuut…

She’s not puuuuuutting OUUUUUT…

I ignored the song, figuring my own subconscious was playing a trick on me. But it wasn’t. The song was completely right. At the end of the date she didn’t even want a ride home, and didn’t even kiss me. That was a wasted $70. And what the hell was that song? I wondered more about that on the way home than anything else.

Two weeks ago my boss, Albert, took special care to come by my desk and make an example of me. Turns out form I submitted had some incorrect information on it. I doubt it was really the end of the world, but that’s the kind of thing Albert is there for, to catch me in an error and humiliate me. He seems to be the only one there who loves his job.

There are certain types of bosses in the world, and the one I hate the worst is the one that’s invisible unless you screw up. In fact, I once had a problem that I wanted to send up the ladder because I felt like it was beyond my pay grade. I couldn’t find Albert anywhere. He was never at his desk, never wandering around my area. Always I was told he was “in a meeting” or “on a break”. That same day, I was so preoccupied by the one problem that I ended up misplacing a decimal on a report I was working on. I heard from Albert in less than fifteen minutes. I later counted how long it was until the next time I saw him. It was nearly three days, and exactly twelve minutes after making another “mistake”, this one on purpose just to see how quickly I could bring him out of hiding.

The explosion I got from Albert two weeks ago wasn’t even my fault. It was his. The information that was “wrong” was information he had added, thinking he was correcting me, then sent on. Turns out that I had put the right information on the form. So he screamed at me for twenty minutes, making sure everyone knew how badly I had “screwed up”. Covering his ass.

I walked past his car on my way out to get a smoke. I needed a smoke break like, yesterday.

I’m not sure where I heard it. There wasn’t a radio in the parkade, nor was there any sort of PA system. Maybe it just ran through my head, but I heard that damned song again. And yes, again the words were different.

Why not buuuuuurn it dowwwwwwwn…

Why not burn-it-dow–ow-ow-owwwn…

Why not buuuuuurn it DOWWWWWWN…

And I stood there by his car, hearing that song in my head, and I had an evil thought. Why not burn it down? The bastard didn’t deserve a car this nice. I did more work than he did, got paid less and drove an old beater.

I knew there wasn’t a working security system in the parkade. The building was old, maintenance was behind, and I once had my car keyed, only to be told by our lone night security guard that I was up a creek because unless he catches the vandal in the act, he can’t do anything.

I paused by his car for a moment, and then walked over and opened the gas tank. I took a long drag off my smoke, and dropped it in. I hurriedly replaced the cap and jogged for the door.

In movies, cars that have their gas tanks hit with a bullet or lit on fire explode immediately. In real life, it takes a bit more time. I heard the tank itself ignite, but the fire was contained within the vehicle for nearly six minutes after I hit the stairs. I heard the detonation from there.

My heart was hammering. I couldn’t believe what I’d done. I went into self-preservation mode, high-tailing it up the stairs and hiding in a janitor’s closet. I waited there for twenty minutes and then walked back in calmly, pretending I had gone up the block for lunch.

I sat at my cubicle and ignored everyone for the rest of the day. I tried not to hear Albert as he burst into the office in a panic. I ignored my own pounding pulse. As the fire department cleared the building, I walked calmly along, facing the ground. They had the fire contained within a half hour, and I moseyed back in, just as calmly.

I had never done anything like this in my life, but I couldn’t ruin it by giving myself away. I sat back down, quietly, trying not to sweat, trying to keep my breath even, until the end of day. Then I went down, along with everyone else, to the parkade.

The fire from Albert’s car had damanged three other vehicles. Two were undrivable. Mine wasn’t one of them. I was able to retrieve it and I drove out of the parkade in complete silence, staring blankly ahead.

About three blocks later, I got the giggles. They started small, but eventually, I was laughing like a junkie pumped full of sugar. I had always been a law-abiding citizen, and I lived a life of misery. But now, I had committed a full-on criminal act and damn it, but it felt good! And Albert, well, how deserving was he, the bastard!

And there, maybe coming from another car, was the song.

Well we buuuuuurned him baaaaaaaaad…

Well we burned-him-ba–a-aaaad…

Well we buuuuuurned him BAAAAAAAAD…

We had, indeed, whoever “we” were. It was a wonderful feeling. A feeling of freedom! I felt on top of the world, like I could do anything.

And I felt that freedom until three days later, when Albert cornered me in the elevator. He was spitting mad.

“I know it was you,” he sputtered. He could barely contain his fury in that flabby little five-foot-six frame. His bald head was glistening with anger-sweat.

I was cool. “What was me?”

“You blew up my car, you bastard,” he said. He edged closer, like he was going to take care of me right there.

“That’s crazy,” I said. “I wasn’t even in the building.”

“You were. No one saw you leave. No one saw you come back. I asked around. There’s only one place you could have been. The parkade. Everybody else was accounted for. Everybody but you.”

Maybe it was the elevator playing it, or maybe it was my own imagination. But I heard the song again. With the lyrics changed. Again.

Gotta taaaaaake him ouuuuuuuuut…

Gotta take-him-ou-ou-ouuut…

Gotta taaaaaake him OUUUUUT…

I suppose it might have been saying “take him down”, for that matter. It was so faint. I never have heard it clearly. But I knew the song was right. Albert had to go down. And I was the man to do it.

I didn’t ever own up to torching his car, but I stopped denying it. I knew he couldn’t prove it, so instead of denials I began taunting him. Gently, but enough to show him how aware I was of just how little he could do to me. I even began ignoring his constant finding of “mistakes” I had made, which weren’t even mine.

And then four days ago, I met him in the elevator again. He had taken to turning his back to me, spurning me. That was his mistake. I lifted the straight-razor I had brought from home and sliced his carotid.

Blood was just everywhere. I mean, everywhere. The door opened on the parkade, and I just about fell on my ass from all the slickness. I dragged Albert to my car and put him in the trunk. The entire time, from somewhere, came that same song, the lyrics changed yet again.

Gotta buuuuuu-ry Aaaaaaal…

Gotta bur-y-A–a-aaaaal…

Gotta buuuuuu-ry AAAAAAAL…

I did bury him. In a shallow grave twenty feet from the highway in a field. I don’t know if they found his body, but I know one thing. I forgot that the cameras in the elevator worked just fine.

I still don’t know what song that is, though. I think about it sometimes. Wonder if I ever really have heard it right. Wonder, in fact, if I’ve ever actually heard it at all. I don’t know the answer to that, and I’m not so sure it matters anymore.

But it does play inside my cell, sometimes. A familiar version of the words, playing softly, usually when I’m trying to sleep. Almost sounds like it’s gloating.

You’re not geeeeeetting ouuuuuuut…

You’re not get-ting-ou–ou-ou-ouuut…

You’re not geeeeeetting OUUUUUT…

4.3 out of 5 with 183 ratings

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A Casual Surfer
A Casual Surfer
6 years ago

I remember an odd song that was played occasionally on FM ‘alternative’ radio stations in the very early 1970’s. From what I can remember, its only line was “What the hell is that?” and it was spoken by a ‘county hick’ with a southern or southwestern accent. Its only musical accompaniment was a banjo, slowly plunk, plunk, plunking along. I heard it about 4 times in late 1970 and into 1971 but never bothered to pay attention because, at that time, I considered it to be stupid and dorky. I guess I imagined that it was performed by somebody like Pure Prairie League or Dan Hicks. It was vaguely ‘country’ but also vaguely ‘hip’. It could even have been Fireside Theater but I never did find out. Funny that you should mention that same line.

6 years ago

omg i loved this.. what a unique story and way to tell it… i vry much appreciated this.

ViolentViolet666 avatar
7 years ago

Haha haha! The cameras! Idiot!
That is MY stapler…

Pumpkin2500 avatar
7 years ago

am i the only person who pictured the narrator as jim halpert from the office

DasSomeGudPasta avatar
7 years ago

Das Some Gud Pasta Friend

8 years ago

That was awesome.

CreepySean5235 avatar
8 years ago

Nicely done. Music influences so much of our lives, it’s actually scary, when you think about it.

ichigo avatar
8 years ago

wow this was awesom

Gilly25 avatar
8 years ago

It’s kind of like that X-File episode, where all the screens flash KILL ‘EM ALL!, And he goes on a big kill spree.
Whenever I watch that I always think:

8 years ago

I wouldn’t say this was creepy or scary, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good! Loved it. Even when nothing was actually happening it was still entertaining, not boring for a second.

Runnergunner30 avatar
8 years ago

Love the ending, I listened to some suspenseful music while reading this, and it was GREAT!

8 years ago

OMFG that’s disturbing…
I just happen to be listening to suspenseful music at the moment…

cviti123 avatar
8 years ago

Love it!

proxy_London666 avatar
8 years ago

I didn’t find it creepy or scary to be honest, but then again i don’t make very good stories either so… keep trying. 🙂

drithpg8 avatar
8 years ago

WOW! Trough the roof amazing . You got a great imagination, and I want to read more, and more of your stories. I hope you keep posting!

iamraaaw avatar
8 years ago


Cream avatar
8 years ago

Too overrated if you ask me

8 years ago

Man you gotta shove it and i mean shove it hard you know 🙂

TheStateOfMind avatar
8 years ago

Eh, it was pretty noticeable at the end where it was going 6.5/10
[spoiler]Palm-ela Hand-erson though[/spoiler]

LinberthDiaz avatar
8 years ago