The policeman in that intersection is not directing traffic. He’s coding an urgent message to all of us. Welcome to Night Vale.
First, the news. Old Town Night Vale residents are complaining about extremely noisy sunsets. Several agitated citizens are pushing for the City Council to do something about the solar shrieking every evening for the past few weeks. One homeowner described the sound as ‘the parched cries of sad buzzards or perhaps even the unholy voice of Old Scratch himself’.
The City Council, speaking in unison at a televised press conference, said that the noise is just the windmill farms that litter the unfortunate wastelands of Desert Bluffs, and that the noises do not fall under Night Vale jurisdiction. Walton Kincaid, president of the community group Soundproof Old Town, said that the windmills can’t possibly be the source of the noise, as they are non-existent and also don’t work, because of Desert Bluffs’ staggering incompetence. The City Council called a second press conference, wherein they all wordlessly stared down Kincaid for fourteen uninterrupted minutes. Their dark eyes tore holes straight through the community spokesman, metaphorically speaking, until his soul was compacted into what looked like a partially chewed black-eyed pea. Literally.
To date, only Old Town residents have reported hearing these inconceivable noises every evening as the sun crosses the indifferent horizon. And the noises seem to be taking their toll. There have been two heart attacks, twelve cases of significant muscular atrophy, and at least two dozen claims of folks growing third eyes, including Kincaid himself, who had an arachnid-like eight eyes when he spoke before City Council yesterday morning. No other neighborhood can hear the sounds.
I spoke to Simone Rigadeau in the Earth Sciences building at Night Vale Community College about the scientifically fascinating story, and she called it a simple case of celestial ‘just desserts’. Full disclosure, listeners: Rigadeau does not work in Earth Sciences. She is a transient living in the recycling closet of the Earth Sciences building, and she collects cans as pets. There is another hearing scheduled at 4 a.m. tomorrow, on the highest ledge overlooking Skeleton Gorge, which can only be accessed by government helicopters. All previous endeavors to scale the cliffside by rock-climbing enthusiasts have failed in extravagantly gory fashion. The Council issued a statement wishing Kincaid luck in attending this mandatory meeting.
Breaking news; we’ve received confirmation from the Sheriff’s Secret Police that Hiram McDaniels was finally apprehended.
McDaniels has been on the lam since August. He was wanted on several counts of insurance fraud, falsifying identification papers, evading arrest, and assaulting a police vehicle with fire. McDaniels was spotted near his Earl Road apartment early Saturday morning by several alert neighbors. The neighbors said they were able to identify McDaniels because he matched police sketches of an eighteen-foot-tall five-headed dragon that had been posted across Night Vale. Fingerprints later confirmed that McDaniels was definitely a dragon.
Secret Police are still unsure of McDaniels’ motives for returning home, and, well, listeners, our station intern Stacy just handed me a photo of Hiram McDaniels. He’s a very dynamic looking dragon. The raw power. The intensity in those five faces, those many sets of blue and red and black and green and yellow eyes. I can certainly see how he charmed his way out of an arrest. He must never get tickets. What a guy.
An interesting note on Hiram McDaniels: intern Stacy tells me that she’s been googling the roguish dragon. Did you know that he has a blog? He’s a really smart fellow! Some really groundbreaking ideas. Here’s one post from last week:
‘If I were mayor of Night Vale, I would give incentives for small business development, and focus on youth physical fitness programs. Human youth are the human future, after all.’
Well, it seems a certain multi-headed fugitive wants to become mayor of Night Vale. You have my vote, Hiram.
Thursday night, the City Council is voting on a new measure that would prohibit breathing as an involuntary muscular action. Historically, the human body has been able to control breathing without the brain needing to consciously activate the diaphragm.
Under the new rule, all residents of Night Vale would be required to make the physical choice of whether or not, and when, to breathe. The City Council said that we have too long taken the receipt of oxygen for granted, and that the sense of entitlement must cease. If the vote passes, residents will have until March first of next year to learn to control these involuntary muscle groups during lucid sleep.
Detractors say that it is our constitutional right to breathe how we want, and that it is not the government’s job to legislate breathing. The Council responded by waving a brick in the air at reporters and shouting “We learned to beat our own hearts! We taught ourselves to wet our own corneas! We have pulled ourselves up from nothing! It is the American dream.” Then, they took a deep breath all together, lowered the brick, broke it into pieces, and devoured it.
And now a word from our sponsor.
[Music plays. Cecil sounds very chatty.]
We all want to live forever, right? Wrong. Think about watching your family die as you selfishly carry on, your children aging and passing, your grandchildren, and so on. Think of all the friends you’ll make, and eventually lose. You don’t want that. No!
You know the earth is eventually going to be swallowed by the sun, right? And one day, you would be present for this greatest of all apocalypses. As fascinating as this would be, scientifically speaking, this excitement would fade as the pain of thousand-degree flames engulfed your tender body, and your agèd mind would be so alone in this interminable torture. Does this sound like something you want? We didn’t think so. Immortality is stupid. Think before you wish.
This message brought to you by Direct TV.
Dear listeners, right after we reported on Hiram McDaniels’ interest in becoming mayor, the dirty campaign tactics came into play, stirring up bad feelings, and slinging the old municipal mud. Incumbent mayor Pamela Winchell issued a statement citing township bylaws that prohibit prisoners from running for public office.
Now, isn’t it just like a career politician, such as Mayor Winchell, to make such unethical, ad hominem attacks on a great reptilian beast, simply because he is in jail? It sounds to me like the mayor is feeling McDaniels breathing down her neck! Breathing dragon fire, that is. Give ‘em hell, Hiram!
The following is a test of the Emergency Dream Broadcast System.
[Creepy music plays. Cecil speaks in a low voice.]
In the event of an actual emergency, you would just now be experiencing a dream in which you were in the neighborhood where you grew up, only all the houses are now black, featureless cylinders. Just row after row of these blank dark cylinders, stretching out around you. You are home, but you are also somewhere from whence you will never find home again. There is someone waiting for you at the end of the longest street. You know that, although you do not know who. You try to run down the street and it grows longer and longer. You pass by one cylinder in particular and know that it’s your house. You stop running. You approach the blank face of the cylinder, its surface seeming to devour light and sound. You reach out and you are inches from touching it. Just then you hear a ding. You look up to see words in the sky. “POSSIBLE FLASH FLOODS” they say. “ALERT VALID UNTIL 3 PM.”
[Cecil speaks in a cheerful voice.]
Once again, this has been a test of the Emergency Dream Broadcast System.
The Night Vale mall is having to deal with angry calls from parents, after the Santa they hired for Christmas photos was once again a no-show.
Mall public relations officials said that the missing Santa is actually a performance art piece, meant to show people how our capitalist idols are truly non-existent, ghosts of materialistic ideas that we have embraced as replacements for true spiritual meaning. A long line of upset parents and crying children stretched from Santa’s empty chair to just past the Hollister.
The mall PR officials added that they have a really cool idea for Valentine’s Day. They’re thinking, like, moving pictures of actual beating hearts projected onto a large teddy bear, which has been stretched open like a vivisected frog from seventh grade life science? Officials added, “It’s going to be monstrous and beautiful. You don’t even know what art really is. You don’t even know yourself.” They concluded by chanting and pumping their arms in unison, like a lower, Paleolithic version of the YMCA dance.
And now… the weather.
[“Like Brightness” by Anais Mitchell. This episode’s weather can be found at anaismitchell.com.]