A Song, a Bomb, and a Cognitohazard
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A Song, a Bomb, and a Cognitohazard

People used to make bombs that would explode with the slightest movement. I won't tell you how. They were dirt-cheap, illegal, and stable until you pulled out the safety. Tackle someone in a back alley, shove a twitch bomb into their hands, and take their money at your leisure. This kind of mugging used to be commonplace.
There was a pop song, about 10 years back, that topped the charts for months. Don't bother trying to think of which one it was. If you're reading this, you're one of the few people who never heard it. If you had actually heard it, you would read these words as meaningless gibberish. A famous songwriter named Bernie Hills was the composer; he had been twitch-bombed in Chicago a few weeks earlier.
When you've been handed a twitch bomb, you can't move for fear of exploding the bomb. You can't scream for help. You can't stand up or walk around. You can barely breathe. If you get twitch-bombed while you're standing up, you won't last long. If you sit down, you die. If you sway on your feet, you die. Bernie Hills was one of the lucky ones. He was leaning on a wall when he got bombed, and someone noticed him standing motionless on the sidewalk holding a metal water bottle and called the cops.
Bernie was a bitter and powerful man; he had married and divorced supermodels. He did not forgive anyone easily. The twitch-bombing community stole his credit card and expensive watch. Now they would pay with their livelihoods.
The song was Bernie Hills' revenge. He was skilled in memetics, not songwriting, and his fame came from the memetic triggers he hid within his songs. His newest song was designed to target the specific set of neurons in your brain that process the concept of a twitch bomb, as well as any memories related to twitch-bombs, and burn them out completely. He also designed a memetic inoculation to save himself from the effects of his own song. Criminals who had been committing two or three bombings every day turned on the radio and suddenly forgot what they were doing. Why am I sitting at a table covered in packets of chemicals? I was here to make something, I think. Living their lives in confusion. Never thinking of twitch bombs, arguing with cops over recorded crimes that they had no memory of committing.
It wasn't too long ago that big-city police departments had special bomb squads to defuse and dispose of twitch bombs. These were the people who saved Bernie Hills' life. They lost both their memories and their specialized skills. The people who fired them couldn't remember why they had been hired in the first place.
Bernie Hills spent the rest of the week drinking to his success. He forgot one crucial detail. Not all twitch-bombers could hear.

At the time Bernie's song was recorded and published, the vast majority of twitch-bombers could hear. After the song hit the radios, every twitch-bomber still in existence was deaf. The cognitohazardous trigger depended on a particular sequence of frequencies combined with lyrics - frequencies that the deaf criminals would never be able to hear. There is still a small, pervasive community of deaf and hard-of-hearing twitch bomb muggers out there, committing crimes that no one is capable of even thinking about prosecuting.
Bernie Hills began to hear about mystery explosions in secluded areas of big cities, tied to the death or disappearance of wealthy people. He was the only one who could connect the dots anymore. He realized his mistake. Before he wrote the song, twitch-bombing was as common as armed robbery, but about half of the people who were mugged using a twitch bomb were discovered and rescued. Sometimes, fingerprints could be found on the bombs and the bombers could be apprehended. Now that no hearing person knew about the bombs, twitch-bombers were never found out or punished, and there could be no help for their victims.
Mr. Hills died of alcohol poisoning in 2015.
If you ever find yourself in an alley and someone shoves something into your hands, no matter what happens next, don't move. Don't even twitch.

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