It was inside you all along. The operation will be this Thursday, at 3 PM. Welcome to Night Vale.
Hello, listeners. Welcome to a very special edition of Night Vale community radio, broadcast live from the invisible clock tower via a makeshift radio antenna constructed from aluminum foil, coat hangers, bits of twine and the unjustified belief that things get better, over time.
First, a special bulletin: as I’m sure you haven’t noticed, time in Night Vale has stopped completely. You have not noticed this because you are all frozen in place like wax figures in one of those weird museums, completely unable to perceive or respond to my words. Everything in Night Vale is frozen, trapped in a single instant which has become impossibly, unnaturally stretched. Even the blinking light atop the radio tower has stopped blinking and is, for the first time anyone can remember, fixed in the on position; a single menacing red star hanging low over our frozen town. The only sound is the soft ticking of a single defiant watch on the wrist of one Cecil Palmer, your usual radio host, which insists that time continues to pass even while the hand of its owner is suspended, frozen, halfway between an open mouth and a bowl of delicious Flakey-Os cereal he was -- is -- will be -- having for breakfast.
Those Night Vale citizens unaffected by the time stoppage -- mostly important civil servants, hooded figures, employees of the invisible clock tower and of course the chosen one, Steve Carlsburg, have gathered at a central meeting place in Mission Grove Park near where the clock tower, statistically speaking, most frequently is. Well, except for Steve, who was not invited and is wandering around near the car park with no idea what’s going on, and myself.
You see, as it turns out, this particular radio program is not only an informative and entertaining pillar of our humble community but ALSO a ritual appeasement of the nebulous things dwelling in the churning depths of hidden gorge which provide so much of the dark magic that supports our municipal system. The program has to be broadcast twice monthly regardless of catastrophes including but not limited to glow clouds, street cleaning, war with underground civilizations and/or corprocratic oppressors or even a temporary halt to the local progress of entropy and causality. So, anyway, that’s why I’m doing a radio broadcast that nobody is listening to instead of helping with the whole ‘time not working’ thing.
More on that later. First, the news.
For the past week or so, residents of Old Town Night Vale have been reporting that the surfaces of certain objects, such as car tires, ceramic sinks, small mammals and human upper incisors , have been replaced by a perfectly smooth white and red checkered pattern which does not change in brightness or hue based on environmental lighting. A stranger, who appeared suddenly in the middle of a major intersection wrapped in safety tape and wearing a bright orange reflective vest, has announced that this is a minor graphical error and should be corrected within a couple of days. The stranger responded to questions, like ‘what do you mean’ ‘who are you working for’ and ‘why don’t you get out of the damn way,’ by thanking Night Vale citizens for their consideration and then plummeting downward into the ground, passing through the solid asphalt as if it had suddenly become no more solid than a thin, eerie night mist soon dissipated by the glaring light and inexplicable roaring of the dawntime sun. The city council, when asked about this new anomaly in the oldest part of our community, responded only by hissing in unison and waving their arms until the questioners had gone away.
Lets take a look at traffic. The localized halt in entropy in Night Vale and in the surprisingly large area of scrublands and sand wastes that falls under our temporal dominion has caused quite a snarl in the overall flow of spacetime. The arcsecond curval indicators are out of service at the tesseract intersection of 4th, 7th, 453rd, and 12th, and there’s something clogging the direct chute to the dawn of time. If you’re time-travelling through those areas today, expect to reach your destination exactly on time but with an unsettling feeling that you’ve been trapped in a dark and whirling place you can neither describe nor remember for a breathless eternity. Also cars are, like, not moving, and stuff, because time is stopped. If you were intending to use a car to get somewhere today, I recommend instead ascending to a higher form of life that does not rely on inefficient, lumbering machines for transportation, like a robot bird or a dragon made of laser beams or something.
An update on the time situation: everything is still frozen, however I am receiving reports that mayor Cardinal has taken charge of the situation with surprising ease despite her relative inexperience and is working with a team of our top hooded figures and time wizards to come up with a solution. The root of the problem seems to be that the invisible clock tower -- which is, in ways which you would not understand even if I was allowed to tell you about them, vital to our temporal stability -- was damaged during the war between StrexCorp and Night Vale. The gremlins which operate our teleportation mechanisms are, while extremely competent under normal conditions, not accustomed to evading numberless clouds of helicopters, masked giants or ontologically problematic winged beings. There were several notable collisions and at least one occasion where, chanting slogans of civic pride in their proud gremlin language, they teleported the clock tower directly around an injured and beleaguered flying being named Erika, heroically protecting them from the swooping helicopters while various other clock tower staff stood atop the face of the tower, swinging spare minute and second hands like invisible greatswords to smite the Strex menace that threatened our fair -- um, anyway. My point is, we all got a little carried away and there was significant structural damage to the tower’s internal mechanisms. Fortunately, we have an excellent team working on the repairs and time should, quite literally, be started again before you can wink an eye.
And now, an update on local news. The only person doing things which could be considered new but which are not classified ultra-top-secret-do-not-read-aloud-on-the-radio-this-means-you-Cecil-Palmer, is our prophecied savior Steve Carlsburg. Mr. Carlsburg has left the car lot and is currently in Ralph’s, attempting to explain the true meaning of the strange lights in our sky to the various frozen patrons, who are only slightly less in-amicable to his -- oh.
Excuse me, listeners, but I have just been handed a very sternly worded note by an exact clone of myself from the future, who then disintegrated. Apparently, even though probably nobody can hear me, I was still not supposed to mention the whole prophesy slash chosen one thing, so, um, forget I said that.
Forget I said anything
Forget you heard anything.
Forget hearing. Forget words.
Let the memories seep out of your heavy, tired bones.
You are floating in a clear, bright place --
You feel everything draining, you feel empty but you feel so light.
Your bones are so light, you feel like you could just
flap your wings and rise, rise and soar away into the bright blue sky
and from now on not know or remember anything -- merely
understand things without the need for human knowledge
And now, for the first time, in a way you never felt, never COULD feel
in your heavy, complicated human existence, you are
Now, here’s a piece with a bit of personal interest, listeners. A new display on dawn/dusk asymmetrical stereophotobaroscopics is being unveiled at the Night Vale Museum of Forbidden Technologies -- although I use ‘unveiled’ very loosely here as the display will in fact be veiled with a thick opaque black tarp for the entirey of its time in the museum. This new exhibit, along with the existing ones on ultratemporal charm resonance transpositors and time wizard hats, provides a great way for ordinary Night Vale citizens to stand kind of close to the important devices we use in the invisible clock tower every day without actually seeing them or gaining any sort of insight into what actually goes on in this most hidden of places. The new display is indistinguishable from every other display in the museum and can be found next to the long-standing exhibit on pocket calculators. Citizens are advised that, as always, visiting the museum is a thought-crime and is grounds for indefinite imprisonment, but hey, so are a lot of things, and I personally put a lot of work into that stereophotobaroscope, so come on down and check it out anyway.
And now, a word from our sponsors.
We have an important update on the ongoing temporal stasis situation: apparently, the clock tower has already been fixed! I say already, but of course it is very difficult to judge relative time during this sort of situation -- you could say it has been an eternity, or only an instant.
However, a new problem has emerged. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the stubborn ticking of the heretical device the voice of our community, Cecil Palmer, insists on wearing around his wrist, time has continued to pass in the outside world while it stood still here. Restarting time suddenly would create a great deal of ... this is difficult to explain ... ‘friction,’ between things that were frozen and things that were not. The majority of this effect would occur at the edges of our temporal bubble and would create a short-lived but very impressive dome of fire out in the desert. Also, Cecil would almost certainly explode. The Time Wizards voted unanimously to restart time anyway on the grounds that ‘explosions are cool’ and that they were excited to see the whole dome of fire thing, but Mayor Cardinal vetoed the motion and is insisting that we find a way to mitigate the friction effect before starting things up again. When asked about possible solutions to this issue, a crack team of scientific experts reportedly screamed “who are you and how did you get here, what’s going on, what are you doing, help, help.” Hopefully they’ll be a little more helpful once they get over the shock of being released from the time freeze and we get them up to speed on what’s going on.
Attention, listeners: if you were brainwashed by a previous segment of todays program into forgetting everything you ever knew and believing that you are a bird, or, you have always been a bird, and long to cast off your ill-fitting human shape and actualize your true reality, or, if Tobias is your favourite character from the Animorphs, please report to the Medical Research building at Night Vale Community College, where a licensed interspecies therapist will be on hand to physically transform you into the bird of your choice, free of charge. This is a limited time offer, available only while time continues to be limited. Remember that human flesh is weak and useless and the future lies with the birds and lizards. This has been Community Health Tips.
Exciting news about this years upcoming annual Parade of the Hooded Figures: a close friend of mine has, after applying several years in a row, finally been given a chance to lead the processions. You may actually remember this particular hooded figure, listeners. She was a guest on this very radio show once! She stood silently in the studio until near the end of the broadcast, then made what you perceived only as a deafening crackling noise and began hovering. She actually volunteered to do this broadcast in my place, but as it turns out the voice of the show has to be clearly comprehensible to mere human ears and minds or the ritual just won’t work, which is too bad because I happen to think she has a real flair for broadcasting and is generally a really nice person. A lot of hooded figures are, actually, once you get to know them, and also once you are stripped of your useless human soul and assume a new form capable of understanding things you never previously could have imagined.
Anyway, the parade is November 10th. Attendance does not cost any money and, while you are not allowed to actually see the proceedings, I’m sure that sitting in the stands of Night Vale Stadium blindfolded and listening to unearthly noises you cannot comprehend and are advised not to think about too deeply about is still a great experience. So much of what makes our town both great and terrible is encapsulated in this annual ceremony, I can’t imagine that any good citizen would want to miss it. Plus, you can enter the raffle to win exclusive prizes, like a set of designer bloodstones or the possibility of future happiness.
Construction on the newly heightened walls around the dog part was completed last week despite -- despite -- listen,
in the cold rugged place there is a dream
that it will not always be cold -- a nightmare
of unnatural fires scorching the shoreline
poisoning the waters, burning away all darkness
the elders don cloaks & bow their heads
circles are drawn on the ground, smoke spirals
to the sky in strange shapes, voices cry out
the day of fire never comes but
the fear never leaves. they are
lost, they cannot go past it, we -- um -- um ...
E-excuse me listeners, I don’t know what just happened, or why. If you heard that somehow or if it filtered into your subconscious through your frozen ears, please, disregard it, whatever it was.
A sentient gust of wind blew through Night Vale the other day. Nobody saw it or perceived it as any different from any other gust of wind. It circled the town several times, stirring up small amounts of sand and playfully upsetting the hairdos of a number of residents. It lingered for several minutes in the vicinity of the Moonlight All-Night Cafe and Diner, savouring the atmosphere and rustling the menus and fake greenery a little, before finally leaving Night Vale altogether, leaving no indication that it was ever here at all.
More on our top story, listeners. A number of hooded figures, tightly huddled into closed circles, suggested through coded chants that the obvious solution would be to simple remove the blasphemous wristwatch from the vicinity of Cecil Palmer and indeed from Night Vale in general, leaving it to detonate harmlessly out in the desert. Mayor Cardinal admitted that this seemed like a straightforward solution, but pointed out that the watch was a gift from one, um, Carlos Theodore Scientist, who is, fortunately, currently trapped in an otherworld desert like, but distinct from our own. I say fortunately both because his absence is preventing him from investigating what ought not to be investigated, such as various minor time dilations and unexplained seismic readings, and also because if he were here, he would probably have already exploded. Anyway, the point is, the watch apparently has sentimental value and Mayor Cardinal was explaining why we should all try to preserve it when one of the scientists we unfroze burst into the room waving a clipboard and yelling something about igniting the atmosphere. Apparently the dome of fire we had previously assumed would be harmless might -- might --
Excuse me, something is trying to -- trying to -- lets go to the weath-- LISTEN
in the hot and barren place there is a dream
that the ground will not always lie still but will rise
heaving & cracking & pushing upward toward
a sky which should be empty but instead
where hangs a planet, vast, dark, looming
& all is broken and ground into the sands
of the desert as if it never was --
the flickering hands of watchful things collect the dream
claim the memories, give back, instead, a vision: a tower
tall, impossible, unseen, ticking
a watchtower, a lighthouse in the desert.
somewhere the newspaper reads:
desert community devastated by string of
record-breaking earthquakes but
here, the day of shattering does not come
here, we are not lost
you have overcome more than you know,
Night Vale. Do not --
Hello, Night Vale. I say hello again because I have been informed that the issues previously discussed were resolved during that last interruption and so you listeners are now and for the first time today, listening. Hello, Night Vale, you do not know me and you will never hear my voice again, but I know each and every one of you and I am here to tell you that, unfortunatelydue to technical difficulties, today has been cancelled. It was only morning a moment ago but now the sun is meekly scurrying along the horizon toward the west and everything which had only just begun to stir is already growing still. You will never know what happened today, Night Vale. You will never know who I am or why I am speaking to you now. You will never know these things, but you will always know that there was something. You will hold the mystery of today in your hearts along with every other mystery and it will give you something to hold onto in this strange and arbitrary world. You will pause, as you move through your mundane and often difficult lives and think back on that one day when dawn and dusk were only minutes apart and a voice on the radio you had never heard before told you that your time meant something. Because it does, listener, it really does. Trust me, I would know.
Stay tuned for the sound of someone sitting along in a darkening room and extinguishing hundreds of candles one by one between her long fingers, and, of course,
Good night, Night Vale.