1.5 – Pilot

Just a reminder to all the parents out there: let’s talk about safety when taking your children out to play in the scrub lands and the sand wastes. You need to give them plenty of water. Make sure there’s a shade tree in the area.

And keep an eye on the helicopter colors. Are the unmarked helicopters circling the area black? Probably world government. Not a good area for play that day. Are they blue? That’s the Sheriff’s Secret Police. They’ll keep a good eye on your kids and hardly ever take one.

Are they painted with complex murals depicting birds of prey diving? No one knows what those helicopters are, or what they want. Do not play in the area. Return to your home and lock the doors until a Sheriff’s Secret Policeman leaves a carnation on your porch to indicate the danger has passed. Cover your ears to blot out the screams.

Also, remember, Gatorade is basically soda. So give your kids plain old water, and maybe some orange slices, when they play.

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9.4 – “PYRAMID”

Telly… you remember, the deceitful barber with a shriveled soul who, just a few weeks ago, cut perfect scientist Carlos’s perfect, beautiful hair very short, so very, very short, thus depriving our community of our only remaining pleasure… well, Telly was seen recently wandering the sand wastes, howling at the sky, and holding up Carlos’s shorn locks as though begging God to reverse the crime he has done. Reports indicate that his skin was blistering, that his eyes were bleary, and that he was recently seen trying to give a cactus a haircut, whispering and cooing into what he seemed to think was its ear.

Listeners, I am not one to stand aside harshly and say that a man deserves the punishment that comes to him, but I also am not sorry to see Telly in this state, given his crime. In any case, if your cactus is in need of a haircut, try Telly, out wandering the sand wastes.

9.7 – “PYRAMID”

Home handymen, fix-it vixens, ladies and gentlemen who love to get their hands dirty… let’s talk about home repair.

Certain jobs are fine for the amateur, and certain others should be left to the professionals. Leaky sinks, sticky windows, minor exorcisms, and bleeding doors— all these are the kind of “quick fixes” that a toolbox and a quick search on the internet should allow you to take care of.

On the other hand, structural damage, major remodeling, seeping darkness, major exorcisms, roof boils, and lawn care— these are all the kind of work that should not be attempted by anyone without years of expertise and a valid hammer license from the City Council. Finding the right professional for the job is easy: just look at the yellow pages. Or head down to the squatter shacks by the edge of the sand wastes, and ask around among the homeless.

13.4 – A Story About You

You have a new job now. Every day except Sunday, you drive out into the sand wastes and there you find two trucks. You move wooden crates from one truck to another while a man in a suit silently watches. It is a different man each time. Sometimes the crates tick. Mostly, they do not. When you are done, the man in the suit hands you an amount of cash, also different each time, and you go home. It is the best job you’ve ever had.

Except, today, it was different. You moved the crates. The man in the suit, a stranger, watched. But then, as had never happened before, the man in the suit received a phone call. He walked off at some distance to take it. “Yes, sir!” he said, and “No, sir!” Also he made hawk shrieking sounds. It wasn’t terribly interesting. You moved crates. But then, an impulse, an awful impulse, came over you, and for no other reason than that you are trapped by the freedom to do anything in this life, you took one of the crates, and put it in your trunk.

By the time the man came back from his phone call, you were done with your job. He gave you the money – it was nearly five hundred dollars today, the second highest it had ever been – and you drove home with the crate in your trunk.

When you got home, you took the crate into your trailer and left it in the kitchen. The crate did not make a ticking sound. It made no sound at all. Nothing made a sound except you, breathing in and breathing out. You cooked dinner – you always cooked dinner – and the red light on the tower blinked on and off in your peripheral vision, a message that was there and then wasn’t, and that you could never quite read. You wondered how long it would take them to miss the crate. You did not wonder who they were. Some mysteries aren’t questions to be answered, but just the kind of opaque fact, a thing which exists to be not known.

Which brings us to now, to this story, this story about you. You are listening to the radio. The announcer is talking about you. And then you hear something else, a guttural howl out of the desert distance, and you know that the crate’s absence has been discovered. The crate. Well, it sits, that’s all, on the kitchen floor. That’s all. It’s warm, warmer than the air around it. It smells sharp and earthy, like freshly ground cinnamon. And when you put your ear against the rough warm wood, you hear a soft humming, an indistinct melody. It does not appear to be difficult to open. All you would need to do is remove a few nails.

You do not open it.

13.8 – A Story About You

The crate is in your kitchen where you left it, and you get down on your knees to embrace it more fully. It has grown warmer, even hot. It still is not ticking. It had taken you no time to get back home. Now that you think about it, were there any other cars on the road? Where did all the cars go? The man with the semaphore flags explaining the speed limit – he wasn’t there either. Your heart pounds.

Without allowing another stray thought to wander through your mind and delay you, you grab the crate and throw it in your trunk. You turn the ignition, and your car radio comes alive with a pop, just as the announcer says that your car radio comes alive with a pop.

Where to now? You don’t know, but you go there anyway. A pair of headlights, a pair of eyes, and two shaky hands, speeding through the silent town. Behind you, you see helicopter searchlights sweeping down onto your trailer. There are sirens. A purplish cloud hangs over the town, glittering occasionally as it rotates. The whole works.

You drive past the Moonlite All-Nite, still aglow and full of people eating what sounds good only late at night, and Teddy Williams’ Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex, which has taken to not only locking but barricading its doors at closing time. You pass by City Hall, which, as always, is completely shrouded after dark in black velvet.

Moving farther out, following the pull of the distant, uncertain moon, you pass by the car lot, where the salesmen have been put away for the night, and Old Woman Josie’s house, where the only sign that the unassuming little home could be a place of residence for angels is the bright halo of heavenly light surrounding it, and the sign out front that says “Angels’ Residence”. And the town is behind you, and you are out in the scrub lands, and the sand wastes. By the road you see a man, holding a cactus in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other. He shakes both at you as you pass, and howls.

14.7 – The Man In The Tan Jacket

The Night Vale Daily Journal has announced that, despite cost-cutting measures and mandatory subscription laws, it is facing a huge budget shortfall this year.

“We cannot pay back our printers, or our delivery crews,” said editor Leann Hart, in a prepared statement whispered through my mail slot late last night. “And we have already had to banish much of our staff into the sand wastes of the desert.”

She went on to explain that this ‘budget shortfall’ has nothing to do with the reported lavish birthday party she threw for herself in Night Vale Stadium, featuring a lazy river made entirely of champagne, and a birthday cake topped with very thin slices of moon rock. In an addendum she tapped in Morse code on my bathroom window, she said that the Journal is considering all new sources of income, including creating additional advertising space and mugging Night Vale citizens, and that I shouldn’t mention the whole birthday party thing after all… because she was never even born, so how could she have had a birthday party? She spent the rest of the night tapping out the phrase ‘Birthdays are a fake idea,’ which actually was a pretty relaxing sound to fall asleep to.