Tragedy struck last Saturday, as Alexa Barden was infected with Halsey’s disease while celebrating in Mod 47a. This little-known but incredibly dangerous disease inflames the vocal chords, forcing them to vibrate in a way that sounds just like lyrics from the popular Chainsmokers hit.
“I had no idea she was sick,” admits her roommate Michelle Pfeffenbaum (A&S ‘20). “The night started out so great. We had gotten into a Mod without knowing anyone and so finally had a place other than our dorms to black out in. As the song kicked on, we held our breath, looked each other in the eyes, and said ‘hey’ together. We bellowed the rest of the song three times in a row like always… it was incredible,” she continued, pausing to wipe a tear from her eye. “We got separated from the crowd, and when I found her an hour later she was still singing Closer. I realized omigod this is still so good, and this time the entire room sang along.”
“At 1 a.m. she was still singing it. That’s when I started to think, ok… enough is enough. You’re wearing it out. But then by 2 a.m., while I was scarfing down mozz sticks, it had circled back around to post-ironic meta-deconstruction, which of course made us all sing it with her yet again. When she kept it up all through Sunday, I thought she was reminding us of our amazing night together… plus, that song is hella catchy. It wasn’t until she screamed ‘we ain’t ever getting older, we ain’t ever getting older’ in the middle of Monday’s History of Genocide class in Devlon 008 that I realized the awful truth.”
Eagle EMS rushed Ms. Barden to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. When Dr. Andrew Taggart recognized Halsey’s disease, he grabbed the young woman, threw her over his shoulder and sprinted to the ER, ramming through O2 cans and elderly Newtonites alike. When her roommates bravely said “at least she sounds happy,” a passing nurse explained that the lyrics were actually well-disguised screams of agony.
“It’s essential to catch Halsey’s early,” yelled Dr. Taggart, struggling to be heard over his still-singing patient. “If left for too long, it can progress from the throat into the brain. From there it leads to dangerously quirky behavior, like stealing mattresses, purchasing unaffordable Rovers, and reconnecting with exes of over 4 years ago. I can’t even fathom which of those is most gruesome.”
Sources confirm that Halsey’s disease is not just a threat to the individual. In extreme cases, the song can drill its claws into the mind of anyone who hears it; a phenomenon known as Call Me Maybe Syndrome.
“Only a few pop songs become so catchy they border on pandemics,” cautioned Dr. Taggart. “But this one’s spreading like wildfire, and its effects leave terrible scars. Some patients have been fighting to get songs out of their heads for over a decade… luckless bastards. If you or someone you love starts singing ‘Closer’ more than the recommended twice daily, please tell someone. In between the chorus. You can’t not join in on that chorus.”
Somewhere deep within the bowels of St. Elizabeth’s, a ghastly, shuddering rasp arose. It echoed up through the grates as if to agree with the doctor’s grim portent.
“She hit the floor… next thing you know… shawty got low… low…. low… cough looooooww…”
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