Hello there. As you well know, faithful listeners, it is Night Vale History Week, in which we all learn a little bit about what made our bustling little town what it is. Or, as the official motto released by the City Council goes: “Poke about in the black recesses of the past until it devours our fragile present.”
In the interest of civic participation, Night Vale Community Radio will be pitching in with short lessons about some points of interest from our town’s history, starting with 4000 BC. Archaeologists believe that this is the earliest date of human settlement in Night Vale. Little remains of these ancient inhabitants, except a few cave paintings of their towns and their hunting practices, and of the dark shapes that would watch them in the distance… inhuman, shimmering shapes that never came closer or farther away, but whose presence could be felt even with eyes shut tight, huddled in fur and the company of another human’s naked skin.
Or so I’m extrapolating from the evidence. The cave paintings mainly resemble smudges now, after their original discoverer attempted to power-wash them off the wall because he, on religious grounds, did not believe in the past.
And now, let us continue with our Night Vale History Week special feature.
The year 1745. The first white men arrived in Night Vale, which was not Night Vale then, but was rather just another part of a large and featureless desert. I think we can all agree, though, that even as large and featureless as the desert was, the part that would eventually become Desert Bluffs was still probably awful and drab in comparison to our part.
In any case, the story goes that a party of explorers came to the area that would be Night Vale, looked around, and immediately left to go find somewhere with more water and maybe some trees. Then another three parties of explorers did the same thing. Then finally one party of explorers all looked at each other, shrugged, and plopped down their stuff. And thus was a proud city born.
The year 1824. The first meeting of the Town Elder Council, predecessors to the City Council. Picture them: crimson robes and soft meat crowns, as was traditional at the time, setting the groundwork for the splendor of today’s Night Vale.
A number of elements of our modern civic process were invented in that single three-hour meeting, including the City Council membership, since unchanged… the lovably Byzantine tax system, as well as the system of brutal penalties for mistakes… and the official town song, chant, and moan. All records of this meeting were destroyed, and, according to a note being passed to me just now— I am to report to City Hall for re-education, effective tomorrow morning.
Let’s return to another key moment in Night Vale history.
The year 1943. As part of the war effort, Night Vale citizens dedicated themselves to chanting. The young, the old, men and women alike gathered around their bloodstones and chanted for the victory of the United States. While some credit must be given to the strategic planning of U.S. Command and to the brave fighting of American soldiers, most reputable scholars believe that Night Vale’s chanting was the deciding factor in America’s eventual victory over the Axis powers. The City Council erected a seven-story monument in Grove Park saying so in large, neon letters, until a federal lawsuit forced them to take it down.
And now, a word from our sponsors. That word is carp.
This next installment in our exploration of Night Vale’s storied past takes place in the future. The year 2052. The scion of the Dark Order will descend, realize he mistimed the prophecy, and re-ascend. The seventh siege of the great Night Vale Temple will rage on. The plague of buzzing boils will kill thousands, and annoy thousands more with its buzzing. The City Council will reveal its true form and eat half of Night Vale’s population. Approval ratings for the mayor will hover in the low forties, which will be surprising, as there will have been no mayor for over thirty years.
For our final story in this week’s featured look into the history of Night Vale, let’s look at the very recent past. Yesterday. I had cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, steak for dinner. Cars were driven. Cars were not driven. The sun gave a great shout of light and then, after several hours of thought, quietly retracted the statement. Old Woman Josie dug up a box in a shady corner of her yard and carried it, cradled in her arms like a baby or a delicate explosive, to another part of her yard, where she buried it again. An unknown person did something that no one else saw, the nature and extent of which is impossible to determine, and the result of which will be lost in the chaotic chain of causation and consequence that is history.
But most importantly, all of us, all of us here in Night Vale, in America, in the world, in the secret orbital bases— all of us got through another day. We passed the time from one end of twelve to the other without stopping once. Well done, us! Good job, people who experience time. Time experiencers, good job! And from this moment in history, the one that’s happening right now… good night.