That new scientist– who we now know is named Carlos– called a town meeting. He has a square jaw and teeth like a military cemetary. His hair is perfect, and we all hate and despair and love that perfect hair in equal measure.
Old Woman Josie brought corn muffins, which were decent, but lacked salt. She said the angels had taken her salt for a godly mission, and she hadn’t yet gotten around to buying more.
Carlos told us that we are by far the most scientifically interesting community in the U.S., and he has come to study just what is going on around here. He grinned, and everything about him was perfect, and I fell in love instantly.
Government agents from A Vague Yet Menacing Agency were in the back, watching. I fear for Carlos. I fear for Night Vale. I fear for anyone caught between what they know, and what they don’t yet know that they don’t know.
Larry Leroy, out on the edge of town, reported that a creeping fear came into Night Vale today. He felt it first as a mild apprehension, then a growing worry, and finally a mortal panic. It passed from him to the employees of the car lot, who crouched behind the cars and cast fearful eyes at the empty sky. It did not affect Old Woman Josie, presumably because of her angelic protection. But it went from there to the rest of the town, until we all were shivering in anticipation for a terrible thing we could not yet see.
I myself was frozen, sure that any movement would lead to death… that any word would be my last. Of course, that also could have been the contract negotiations with station management, and the hideous envelope I just received. Also, I’m battling Lyme disease.
Meanwhile, the creeping fear passed, first leaving Larry Leroy, out on the edge of town, and then the car lot, where they went back to offering gently used cars at affordable prices, and finally, the rest of us, who could go back to living with the knowledge that at any given moment, we might either live or die— and it’s no use guessing which.
It is not currently known where the creeping fear will go next. Hopefully to Desert Bluffs. It would serve them right.
And now an editorial. Let’s talk for a moment about apartment building etiquette. Now, I myself live in an apartment building. And there is a compassion and acceptance you have to have for a certain level of annoyance. It’s people in close proximity to each other, and so there will be some things that you don’t like, and still have to let go.
But, other things are absolutely unacceptable! For instance, a certain level of strange, radiating light or heat on shared walls is expected. But any oozings or visible membranes are rude and thoughtless to all of your neighbors. Gibbering, howling, and chants in long-dead languages are the kind of thing that is fine at 1 PM, but absolutely not fine at 1 AM. We are all in this together. Put your trash in the cans, not in the hallway leading to the cans. Put on some clothes when standing in front of your windows, and keep any rituals or crazed experiments to hours in which no one is trying to sleep. It doesn’t have to be hard.
This just in. We’re receiving word from the City Council that there was absolutely not a Pink Floyd Multimedia Laser Spectacular this weekend at Radon Canyon. That there was never a Pink Floyd Multimedia Laser Spectacular ever near Night Vale. “Pink Floyd is not even a thing,” said the Council, in a very stern but quiet statement just received by me, here, via phone.
The Council— and this is strange— the entire Council, not just a representative of the Council, the entire Council issued this statement, all speaking in unison, just now, over the phone: that Night Vale citizens are prohibited from discussing any lights or sounds coming from Radon Canyon this past weekend, and that they should just stop remembering Pink Floyd shows altogether. The Council reiterated that there is no way that they are huge Floyd fans, privately using public funds on a laser-powered séance to talk hard-rocking classic jams with the ghost of original front man Syd Barrett, and that Syd wouldn’t even say anything juicy anyway, because he is such a gentleman, and an artist. This did not happen at all.
So, listeners, we urge you to look away from Radon Canyon. Avert your eyes, ears, and memories from that which is no longer allowed you. Comfort and distract yourselves with dense food and television programming.
As the old adage goes, “A life of pain is the pain of life. And you can never escape it, only hope it hides unknown in a drawer like a poisonous spider and never comes out again, even though it probably will in unexpected and horrific fashion, scaring you from being able to comfortably conduct even the most mundane, quotidian tasks.” Or, at least, that’s how my grandparents always phrased it.
Listeners, guess who called me this weekend. Well, hey, I don’t like to talk too much about my personal life here. This is your community news station, not Cecil’s Personal Life Station, right? Okay, fine. I’ll just say it.
Carlos, the dark, delicate-skinned scientist who came into our little town and our littler hearts several months ago. Well, I gave him my home phone number quite a while back, and he never called, and I didn’t think anything of it, right? I mean, sometimes people just don’t call, and that’s okay.
Well, to the point: Carlos called, and I’m like, ‘Hellooo?’ Like I don’t even have caller ID, and he’s like ‘I need to talk to you. This is important.’ And I’m like, ‘Ummm, okay.’ I mean, that’s pretty forward, right, listeners? But I can’t tell exactly what he wants yet! And he said ‘Cecil.’ Just the sound of his caramel voice. ‘Cecil,’ he says. ‘Cecil. I think time is slowing down in Night Vale,’ and then I said, after a slow sip of Armagnac, ‘Ohhhh?’
And perfect Carlos said, ‘Last week, seven days, twenty four hours each day, sixty minutes in each hour. That’s ten thousand eighty minutes in a week, right?’
‘Uh-huh. Go on!’ I said, trying to sound like someone with a normal pulse whose palms were not sweating.
‘Well, I ran some figures, and during that same amount of time in Night Vale, eleven thousand seven hundred eighty-three minutes elapsed everywhere else in the world. That’s more than a full day longer. I don’t know what’s happening.’
So that’s what Carlos said! Listeners, what do you think? I feel like time always slows down when we’re together, Carlos and I. Is that what he’s trying to say? I feel that way too!
But I didn’t say it, I just said, ohh, this is bad… I just said, ‘Neat!’ Ugh. How embarrassing. I mean, Carlos is sooo smart, and he says sooo many smart things! And I’m not dumb! I like science and municipally-approved books just as much as the next guy, so I can’t believe that’s all I could say to him. ‘Neat.’ But I did manage to ask if he wanted to get together sometime, and talk some more about this really fascinating subject. He said no, but he needed me to help get the word out and see if anyone has noticed a massive time-shift, so that’s what I’m doing now. Anything for the scientific community. I’m very into science these days.
Listeners, I can hardly stand it any longer. During the past few stories, my phone has been silently buzzing. You guessed who! Given that I am a radio host and it is therefore my duty to read you the news, it would be completely inappropriate for me to answer my phone regardless of how much I want to soak my ears in the oaky tones of our community’s most significant outsider. But. Well. He left me some voicemails. This may be a bit unorthodox, but I need your help, dear listeners, to determine where Carlos is going with all of this! Let’s listen to these together, okay? What do you think he’s trying to say?
First saved message:
Cecil, sorry to bother you. I need you to get the word out that clocks in Night Vale are not real. I have not found a single real clock. I have disassembled several watches and clocks this week and all of them are hollow inside. No gears, no crystal, no battery or power source. Some of them actually contain a gelatinous grey lump that seems to be growing hair, and teeth. I need to know if all clocks are this way, Cecil. This is ve –
[whispering] There’s something at my door, Cecil. I need to go, okay? I’ll call you back in… well, I don’t know.
End of message.
There’s a man in a jacket holding a leather suitcase outside my door, Cecil. He’s not knocking, he’s just standing in front of my door. I can’t make out his face. I’m peering through a crack in the living room blinds. – Oh no, he saw me!
End of message.
Sorry about that, Cecil. I forget what I was doing. I think somebody came over, but I don’t remember who or what for. Anyway, I need to meet you. Are you free tomorrow afternoon? You have a contact number for the mayor and someone with the police, right? It’s important that I find them, and again, can you get the word out on your radio show about the clocks?
End of message.
Did you hear that, listeners? A date! Let’s go to the weather!
Well, I just got off the phone with Carlos, listeners, and we have a date! Tomorrow afternoon. It’s just coffee, but maybe it’s more! Maybe lots more. Who knows? You know, they always say if you’re trying to meet someone, you may never find them, but it’s when you’re not looking, that’s when they find you. I’ve always heard this in reference to government agents, but I think it applies to dating as well.
Carlos did want me to ask if anyone has ever actually seen the Night Vale clock tower. I told him that it was invisible, and always teleporting, and that’s why he can’t ever see it. I mean, that seems sort of obvious. …Okay. That was unfair. Carlos is a very smart man, and I shouldn’t roll my eyes just because he doesn’t comprehend basic architecture. He obviously has a lot of other intriguing interests, though, like clock making! And seismology! And who knows what else. Oh, happy day, listeners! Thanks for listening, and for helping me through this! I’m so very excited.