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The Jingle by Alfie Frost, York College

February 2023

It started off as just a small jingle that most people found and listened to, singing along with the annoying and repetitive lyrics. Some heard it once when it first started and couldn't stand it, refusing to listen to it whenever someone wanted them to. But then it started to escalate, people verbally fighting over whether it was played or not, people were split into two groups; The Jinglers (people who loved the jingle), and The Silent (people who hated it). The Jinglers quickly got violent, forcing people to listen to it by beating them close to death or just sticking the headphones to people’s heads using whatever they had on them. The Silent knew they had to fight back against them, no matter who was a Jinger. Even family. After 14 years, some of The Silent survived.

I sat on my bed, unlatched the window, and pushed it open quietly, I rest my arms on the ledge as I look out at the garden below me. I didn’t take much notice of this garden before now, but since that fateful day, I thought that it was only fitting to finally look out at it. The cold wind gushed through the crooked branches on the tall, gangly tree that loomed over the garden, making the overgrown grass, weeds and flowers sway softly. The fragrance that emanated from the flowers flushed into my room, filling my lungs with a beautiful sensation. A smile seemed to grow on my face for the first time in forever. “It’s time to go”. I heard through my door. We had to leave today as a large group of Jinglers were approaching and would surely find us by tomorrow. Time to leave this place, finally in peace.

Our group left the cramped confinement of our old base, heading out into the dangerous wilderness of the suburbs. We all tread carefully, stepping over twigs and other objects that had been left on the paths. No cars moved, all abandoned long ago. They made too much noise. Crunch. A twig snapped under my foot. We stood still for a moment, listening. “I hear footsteps…” someone said quietly. And before we knew it, the large group of Jinglers rounded the corner. Runny rapidly. Singing the jingle. We all ran, but not fast enough. Most of us were grabbed by them. Started to be converted. Nothing we can do to help. Seven of us escaped and arrived at the new safehouse in the next town over.

I awoke, my vision slightly blurred. I rubbed my eyes as I listened carefully to whatever awoke me. Probably just someone using the bathroom, I thought. No, its the jungle being hummed quietly. My vision cleared and I could see someone sat in the dark corner, headphones on, listening to it. I reached over and grabbed the gun the leader kept just in case. I stood up quietly and tiptoed closer to the person trying to convert themselves. But why? Fear of being converted by the violent ways of the Jinglers, so just deciding to do it themselves? I lift the pistol to their forehead, their eyes were bloodshot, too far gone.