Blinking red light in the night sky. The future is changing, but it’s hard to tell. Welcome to Night Vale.
Listeners, the City Council announced moments ago that a sandstorm will be arriving Night Vale in just a few minutes. They apologize that they did not announce this sooner, but they just kind of let their morning slip away from them. ‘You know how it is,’ they said in unison. ‘You think “Oh, we should announce this dangerous sandstorm, that’s priority one.” But then you have to get some coffee, and you run into your coworker friends, and then you check your email, and maybe a glance at Facebook, and you just lose track of time. You know,’ they concluded.
The sandstorm is projected to be the largest in decades, and meteorologists warned that high winds and debris from the desert could cause millions in damage. They also said that if you’re not already inside with windows closed, doors locked, and eyes shut tight, then your future will probably be very different. Meteorologists then warned that raccoons are actually pretty dangerous animals despite how adorable they seem, and never, EVER feed baby raccoons, because the mother raccoon will definitely attack you. ‘Have you ever had rabies shots?’ the meteorologists asked. ‘Oh, it is the WORST,’ they continued as the press corps got restless and hoped that the meteorologists would just shut up soon. ‘God, meteorologists just don’t know when to stop,’ the entire press corps moaned.
So, take cover, Night Vale. Hide in your homes and offices, and pretend that mere walls are enough to protect you from nature’s might and life’s brevity and meaninglessness. Keep your radios tuned in here – we’ll keep you up to date.
Hey, sports fans! Assuming we’re all still here after today, it’s time for baseball season! This Saturday is the minor league home opener for the Night Vale Spiderwolves. They’ll be taking on bitter rivals, the Desert Bluffs Sunbeams. The Spiderwolves are fielding a very young but promising pitching staff this year. Fans are especially excited to see twenty-year-old hometown hero Treyvon Murphy get his first chance in the starting rotation. Murphy graduated Night Vale High School two years ago and immediately joined the Spiderwolves, just after they discovered that he could use his telepathic powers to cripple batters emotionally, often sending them into weeks-long slumps and fits of crying, even while playing in the field.
The Sunbeams have some changes in their team as well. This off-season, they got a new owner and a new manager, because they’re terrible. Just terrible. Who even cares?
And now, traffic. Highway officials are warning all Night Vale residents to stay off the roads. The sandstorm is making travel nearly impossible. We are told that several cars have stalled near the southbound offramp at Exit 6 on Route 800. Traffic officers reported that each car screeched to a halt, and through the rushing sands, they could see dozens of drivers and passengers running into the road, pairing off, and then fighting. They noted that each fighting pair seemed to be of the same build, gender, age, and were wearing the exact same thing.
Also, unrelated to the sandstorm, all stop signs and traffic lights have been taken down for their bi-monthly polishing. They’ll be back from the cleaners on Tuesday, officials said.
Listeners, thank you for your calls and emails. We’re getting word that the sandstorm has already begun to hit. Larry Leroy, out on the edge of town, called moments ago to say that the sand was thick and really flying fast, but that when it touched his skin, he could hardly feel it. He could hardly feel a thing, that the past was a fiction, and that consequences were a choice. He saw colors and shapes instead of familiar things like stoves and ponies. He shouted a bright confirmation of life up toward the sand-covered sun before gasping and screaming, ‘No. Not you. Not you!’ and then hanging up the phone.
Well, thank you, Larry, for that informative report. We’ll certainly keep that in mind.
Old Woman Josie has not called, but intern Dana said that Old Woman Josie updated her Facebook page with an Instagram of some runestones. Dana has been furiously translating these symbols, and her best guess is that they say ‘They come in twos. You come in twos. You and you. Kill your double.’
There’s also a link to this amazing cat that keeps jumping in and out of boxes and oh my god, that is the cutest thing I have ever seen. Dana, you have got to post that on my wall. Oh my god, he loves those boxes so much!
And now, a look at financial news.
A fallow wheat field, grey sky, cut by black Vs of black birds. There is a child, dragging a hatchet. His eyes cast down. His eyes tight. His eyes white and red and superfluous. He knows not what he sees, but he knows what is there. A single black winged beast, beak cracked, feathers rotting, alights roughly on the child’s shoulder. They stop. the bird picks at the cartilage of the boy’s ear as if biting secrets into it. The boy groans, not unpleasantly. Heavy slow clouds roll and rise, starkly contrasted against the flickering daguerreotype hills, which stoically keep the poisonous rains at bay.
A sudden little river, partially walled by palsied shafts of grain, rolls by. The boy walks into it. He bends forward. His blank eyes stare into his reflection. Neither he nor his mirror knows the other is there, but the bird, the bird knows. The bird cackles, or perhaps cries. Even the bird is uncertain. The boy takes a palm full of the dark water. Most of it runs out through his long, zigzagging fingers. He licks the remainder from his dusty skin.
A sound: like thunder, like drums, like steps. The boy turns and hurls his hatchet behind him. The bird flies up and away. There is a hideous thump. The boy knows not what he has hit, but that it has been wounded. He waits for its retort.
This has been financial news.
This just in, Night Vale: Mayor Pamela Winchell has declared a state of emergency. She has asked that if you are still outside, you return home immediately. A second announcement, shortly after, says that she was lying and that you shouldn’t listen to her. She’s not the real mayor. I am. A third announcement followed, requesting that you give me the microphone and get away from the podium. This is my press conference, you replicant clown! The press conference then erupted into shouts of ‘Phony!’ and ‘Imposter!’ as the press corps suddenly doubled and began fighting itself.
Night Vale, do be careful. I fear the sandstorm to be quite a terrible event. Please, stay safe inside, and should you see yourself, I cannot condone murdering yourself. I just don’t believe violence is ever the answer. It is a question. The real answer is far more terrifying. So, make peace with your double, Night Vale. Do not be tempted to draw swords or guns. We can get along.
Oh, dear. What… what was that noise? Dana? Is everything okay in there, Dana? Who are you fighting? Dana, put down that letter opener! Dana, put away the… I’m coming in there. Um, let’s go to a word from our sponsor.
Got a home improvement project? Need help? Incomplete? Having feelings? Strange feelings? Feelings you’ve never felt? Incomplete? Is your body filled with hot blood, waving curves of sinew, and skin? Can you feel all that blood? Is it even your blood? How can you be sure? Incomplete? Are you dizzy from it all, all of this? What are your hands doing? Incomplete? Where are your hands now? Where have they been? Where are they going? Where are you going?
Have you ever broken the surface of something with a hammer? Ever channeled sublime thought into sandpaper? Ever wanted to touch something because you feel things, because touch is the only sense you trust? Incomplete? What is trust? Is making a thing proof that you exist? Is fixing a thing proof that you have transcended mortality? History? Incomplete. Feel things? Feel things?
You can do it. We can help. The Home Depot.
[A different, cheerful male voice speaks.]
Hello? Hello, Desert Bluffs? What is this studio? Hey there, Desert Bluffs. I don’t know if you can hear me. Kevin here. I don’t know where I am. It’s a radio studio, but the walls are darker. The equipment looks much older. Certainly much drier than it should be. The microphone was made… when? Have I gone back in time? Vanessa! Are you in the booth?
Listeners, if you can hear me, I am in a strange place. I do not know if I am in Desert Bluffs, or if anyone can hear me. The sandstorm rages outside. The vortex is still there, but it’s black, almost a deep blue. There’s a low hum. I do not know if this is the portal, or the storm, or my own body. There is a photo here on the desk. It is a man. He is wearing a tie. He is not tall or short, not thin or fat. He has eyes like mine and a nose like mine, and hair like mine, but I do not think he is me. Maybe it is the smile. Is that a smile? I can’t say. I do hope he is safe, whoever, wherever he is. I hope I am safe, wherever, whoever I am.
It is night. I think it is night. It is night. You may not know me, nor I you, but we have this mic, and this voice, and your warm ears blossoming open to hear comforting secrets in the vibrations of a voice that pulse so deep into your body, your heart relaxes for a time. And we have this, sitting right here on this odd and bloodless desk. So now, dear listeners, whoever you are, I give you… the weather.
[“Eliezer’s Waltz” by Larry Cardozo & Ron Fink, performed by Disparition.]