Science Fiction: EARWORM

Diva Savkur


Leya massaged her burning eyes, already dreading the onset of a migraine.

It was still fairly early-by her standards-and she wasn’t ready to submit to her waves of fatigue just as yet. With a great sigh, rival to only that of a world-weary grandfather, she flitted through various websites and chats, attention span gradually dwindling. But much like the last consecutive June nights, the real fun would begin with her Pavlovian habit of craving music at the stroke of midnight.

The phrase ‘pretentious music snob’ was often thrown around by Leya’s friends with good reason; despite her claims of simply being a ‘niche music lover’, she was, more often than not, that one person in the room lording her knowledge about obscure ‘70s Russian grunge bands. Having exhausted all mainstream music apps, her interest had only piqued a couple of weeks ago, when she’d found a free-for-all streaming website on an online alternative music channel. With over ten thousand anonymous uploads spanning various genres that Leya had spent countless hours listening to, the deal had been clinched with an interesting promise on the site’s homepage: using cutting-edge AI, users would receive a perfect, personalised song by anonymous artists tied with the website each month, for free.

As faux as it initially sounded, it made absolute sense to Leya – aftera few weeks of computing the user’s music taste and preference data, an anonymous artist would churn out a one-of-a-kind song, lyrics and all, made especially for you, at no additional cost other than a few irritating personal questions and system permissions. In that moment, her intense hatred for all things science made an exception for this particular algorithm she so vehemently hid from her friends. It felt like hers alone, and she didn’t want someone else to ruin her finding, or even worse, mainstream it.

After weeks of checking for the first song, however, her enthusiasm had slowly ebbed, and tonight she felt downright blasé as she clicked’s inbox icon. However, she soon stopped short, index poised over the pad, and let out a tiny gasp. All thoughts of sleep immediately escaped her.

Never had three little words elicited such a drastic boost of adrenaline in her. Mentally preparing herself for disappointment, but doing an exceptionally poor job at it, she clicked on the link.

The first thing that stood out was the account itself. Despite their mentioning the anonymity of the whole deal, she’d been expecting at least a hint in the profile picture… User s6s6s6 with their default icon setting, however, promised little in the way of anything. Leya read the song title with narrowed eyes; there was a lone upload in their entire history, posted a few hours ago, bearing a curious title that merely said, “amour-propre?”…read more on NOPR