MARK TOWSE - THE UNDERTONES

My name ​is Mark Towse, and I’m an Englishman living in Australia. Speaking candidly, I would sell my soul to the devil or anyone buying if it meant I could write full-time. Alas, I left it very late to begin this journey, penning my first story since primary school at the ripe old age of 45. Since then, I’ve been desperately trying to make up for lost time, and in the last two years have written 87 stories.

‘The Undertones’ was one of the quickest and easiest stories I’ve written to date. I can hear it, you see, the low menacing hum that most people cannot. There are more of us out there. I’m not sure for how long, though.

A brief snippet taken from ‘The Undertones’:

There are others; I’ve looked them up on the internet—even joined the group. It’s called ‘The Undertones,’ and membership is growing all the time. And Christ, there’s no shortage of theories; experiments by the government, aliens trying to communicate, some even believe it’s the sound of the world slowly dying. We are scientists, doctors, astrologers, and nutcases—so many ideas, but there is one thing we all agree on: the earth is fucked—on fire, flooded, and poisoned.

Staring at the crack in the ceiling that I am all too familiar with, patches of my skin suddenly begin to thrum rhythmically in time with the distant tune. I turn over to my side, but this only offers temporary relief as the skin on my back begins to sing. Frustrated, I turn again, but the noise seems to be invading my body, slowly awakening each of the nerve endings.

“John, will you please lie still!” her muffled voice floats across.

“I wish I fuckin’ could,” I snap, swinging my legs to the floor.

If she makes a response, I don’t hear it. Shuffling across to the window, I move the curtains aside to reveal blackness diluted only slightly by the artificial halogen streetlights. In the distance, I think I see something moving¬—a series of opaque dark shadows that just as quickly blend back into the stillness of the night. I move closer to the window to investigate, but my attention is drawn to the streetlights that begin to flicker in unison in time with the dull beat. Finally, they return to their dirty yellow glow, and now I’m left with the promised serenity of night. I march out of the room like a petulant teenager and begin my descent down the landing stairs.


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