The sun didn’t set at the correct time today, Carlos and his team of scientists report. They’re quite certain about it. They checked multiple clocks and the sun definitely set ten minutes later than it was supposed to.
I asked them if they had any explanations but they did not offer anything concrete. Mostly they sat in a circle around a desk clock, staring at it, murmuring and cooing.
Still, we must be grateful to have the sun at all. It’s easy to forget in this hot, hot, hot desert climate, but things would actually be slightly harder for us without the sun.
The next time the sun rises, whatever time that turns out to be, take a moment to feel grateful for all the warmth and light and even, yes, the extreme heat that our desert community is gifted with.
Speaking of the City Council, it voted this week to remove the large, lead-plated door from the northeasternmost crook of Radon Canyon. You know, the area pulsing with green light and sotto voce basso humming. Proponents of the measure called the large, yellow emblem and red lettering that spelled out, “DANGER – PLUTONIUM – DO NOT OPEN DOOR – RISK OF DEATH” were at worst an offensive eyesore and at best a hacky sci-fi cliche.
Many Night Vale citizens attended the meeting, including, it was said, several angels— although no angel is admitted to have been present for the City Council meeting, or any other event ever, for that matter. Old Woman Josie agreed with the measure, adding that lead is a health hazard, and that the old door was nothing but a ticking time-bomb. According to the meeting minutes, Josie said, “That old door… ooh, that door. Someone’s going to get some kind of lead poisoning.”
Carlos— beautiful Carlos, tragically shorn of his locks— reportedly was the only dissenting voice, but it is not clear he actually opposed the measure, as the minutes only report him stating, “There is no time! No more time!” into a black rectangle in his hand, and then running, winded, from the community hall. According to Old Woman Josie, he was still absolutely perfect, and smelled of lavender chewing gum.
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.
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!