I finished singing Baby Shark hoarsely for the 394th time that day and left my little one to sleep, perchance to dream (of shark families).
I stepped out onto the landing and was greeted by an alarming sight. A crazy haired, wild-eyed man in his mid-to-late fifties, pacing in front of the spare room and gesturing frantically. He saw me and strode over.
"It's you! I mean, it's me!" he exclaimed, smiling broadly.
I took a step back and held out my hands. "Not sure how you got in here old-timer, but you're leaving. Now!"
"Wait a second. I'm you, from the future."
He pulled up his top to reveal a scar, identical to the one I've got.
"How'd I, er you, get that?"
He smirked. "You fell off your bike trying to make a jump off a dirt ramp."
" Ha, that's where you're wrong, actually I told-"
"You told Darren Webster that in order to try and impress him. You actually got it from an operation to reverse puberty."
He was right.
"Why are you here?" , I asked.
"It's Baby Shark. Something's got to be done about Baby Shark."
He nodded. "The very same. In the future, it's everywhere. And I mean everywhere."
He threw a strange, egg-shaped device onto the bathroom wall. It made a bizarre click-WHOOSH sound and a swirling portal opened up, purple rays of light emanating from within. He gestured at it.
"The future, you coming?"
He walked over and stepped through the glowing aperture. I glanced down at my phone and saw a notification from PinkFong. A new Baby Shark video.
"Wait up." I jogged into the bathroom and hopped through the shining orifice.
I found myself in an alleyway and knocked over a couple of trashcans as I stumbled forward. A scrawny cat leapt out of one and onto a nearby fence. I noticed a strange protuberance on its back.
"What's that on its back?" I asked Future Me, who was looking up and down the alley furtively.
"It was bioengineered to have a shark's fin growing out of its back", he said flatly. "They were all the rage a few years back but then people realised they didn't want furry land sharks in their homes and threw them all out onto the streets."
"Seems like a regular cat to me", I shrugged, as its bum hole was wafted in my face. I reached out my hand to stroke it and suddenly the moggy's eyes turned white and it lunged at me, mouth open wide and baring razor-sharp teeth in a distinctly un-feline way. I shrank back and glanced over at Future Me.
"See? " was all he said, before he wandered off down the alley and I followed him. I passed some rather unsightly graffiti featuring a man defecating on a shark's head and the words 'Fuck Baby Shark!' above it. This time there was no explanation needed.
At the end of the alley was a busy street, people bustling in all directions, heads down. Huge skyscrapers pierced the clouds and a vast TV screen loomed above, casting an unnatural glow on the street and its denizens.
On the screen, colourful, animated sharks bounced around, singing and dancing and pointing at products that appeared next to them. Dog food, toilet roll, gin, chainsaws. Every new product was accompanied by a vaguely shark-related phrase: 'Some-fin' to shout about', 'Can't wait to get my teeth into a bargain', 'Best prices in all the seven seas', etc. etc.
I stared at the screen, hypnotised. Then suddenly my legs began to move by themselves. What the hell was happening to me? I was walking towards the building to which the giant TV was affixed.
Suddenly, Future Me grabbed me by the wrist, spun me 180° and slapped me hard in the face.
"Don't get too complacent", he said, "they're always on the lookout for new recruits."
I glanced around at everyone again with their heads down and understood.
"Come on, let's take a walk", he said and strode off. He walked into an office block, seemingly at random and straight past the hunt overlooking receptionist. Looking back over his shoulder to make sure I was still following, he bounded up the stairs three at a time. I chased around the corner to find him stood in front of a large window, looking out over rows upon rows of desks, at which sat hundreds of office workers, each one as bored as the receptionist downstairs, if not more so.
"What do they do here?" I said as I approached.
"Not a clue", he replied distractedly.
I turned to him, puzzled. "Then why are we here?"
He was busy checking his watch and held up a hand to stop me asking further questions.
"Any minute now", he muttered, more to himself than me.
"Any minute now wh-"
The hand was up again. Was I usually this rude to people?
"Just wait", came the response.
I looked out at the sea of identical desks. Suddenly, I heard something familiar from high above.
"It isn't", I stammered.
"Oh, it is", he said.
The sound floated down, and the workers raised their heads in its direction.
"Bayyybeee shark, do do do do do doo, bayyybeee shark, do do do do do doo, daughters shark do do do do do doo, bayyybeee shark..."
By the time the second verse had begun, every single office worker in that vast room was on their feet and doing all the actions.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. One poor sod was doing the dance while sobbing uncontrollably. Someone else was doing the actions in obvious pain as their arm was in a sling.
As I looked on in disbelief, one man, who'd been dancing rather listlessly, suddenly stopped, and simply stood there. He folded his arms and shook his head. The people around him began to nervously dance away, leaving him like a pariah.
I pointed out the defiant non-dancer to Future Me, who nodded in a knowledgeable fashion, before turning my attention to the other side of the room.
A previously unnoticed doorway slid open and two beefy security guards stomped out, dressed from head to toe in body armour and each carrying a ridiculously over-sized machine gun.
They spoke briefly into their wrists, then proceeded to march over to the stoic man and point their weapons at him.
Immediately he fell to his knees, putting his hands together as he desperately tried to appeal to the unwavering men.
One of them turned away and spoke into his wrist once again, before they both grabbed him, one under each arm, and lifted him into the air. By this point, the poor man was kicking out and screaming, but to no avail. They reached the doorway and he clung onto the frame for dear life, but they managed to wrestle him inside, before the door closed once again. Everyone else was still dancing as though nothing had happened.
"What will they do to him?" I enquired.
Future Me sighed heavily and looked away for a long time before responding.
"They're going to take him away to make some...adjustments. He'll come back to work. In a sense."
It was then that I realised that some of the workers nearest to me were sporting huge lobotomy scars. I didn't ask any more questions after that.
"I don't like what I've seen of this future so far."
Future Me turned and gave me a look that pierced my soul.
"It's not too late to change it", he said prophetically. "Go back to your time, tell people what you've witnessed, spread the word. The fate of this world is entirely in your hands. I don't want to go on about it, but there it is."
He withdrew the egg-shaped device from his pocket and threw it at the wall where it erupted into the same portal as earlier, except this time the light was green, not purple.
Future Me's expression was grim, and he turned away from me as I made to step back through the portal.
"Bye then", I said, but there was no reply. I raised my voice slightly. "I said I'm off now." Still nothing. Future Me really was quite rude. That had to change, if nothing else.
I came back to the present and instantly began writing down my experience.
So now I'm pleading to you, not just as a parent, but as a human being. Banish Baby Shark from your home. Forbid any mention of it within your walls. Withhold the oxygen it needs to survive, and it will surely die. We must all stand firm against this diverter of attention, this stealer of young eyeballs, this baby of sharks.
If we wish to safeguard our future, we must begin to act in our present. For the sake of all humankind, do the right thing. Kill the shark.
Sam Smith is a father to one 2 1/2 year old boy and does a bit of writing in his spare time. He lives in Worsley, Manchester with his better half, aforementioned toddler and 2 house rabbits who don't give anyone the time of day. Hobbies he would like to do but doesn't have the time for include gardening, astronomy, stamp collecting, drone flying and photography.