It is almost complete. It is almost complete at last.
Welcome to Night Vale.
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 B.C.
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 the news:
The Night Vale Tourism Board asks that whoever is telepathically assaulting the tourists please stop.
According to the NVTB executive director, Madeline LeFleur, there were two separate incidents in one week of entire tour buses suddenly shrieking in unbridled terror and trying to blind themselves using rolled-up "Visitable Night Vale" brochures — all to the utter confusion of the bus drivers.
LeFleur added, "We just had those brochures printed."
LeFleur claims that tourism accounts for tens of thousands of dollars annually for Night Vale, and the town prides itself on hospitality. She said that if good-hearted families travel to Night Vale only to find their subconsciouses besieged with unforgettable revelations, horrors buried so deep as to be completely indescribable, revealing wholly unbearable new truths, then we certainly can't expect these people to return...let alone leave good Yelp ratings for local businesses.
The city is asking residents for help in determining who, or what, is causing these psychological infractions. The tourism board is offering puppies as a reward for information on this case.
Or, even if you don't have information, the city asks that you come get a puppy or two anyway.
Downtown municipal offices are overrun with them. In the trees, walls, carpentry...the exterminators are completely stymied by this infestation.
It has been several weeks since anyone in Night Vale has seen the Apache Tracker — that white guy who wears the inaccurate and horribly offensive Indian headdress everywhere. He has not been seen since he began investigating the Great Screaming heard at the post office, and the words written in blood inside.
Also the entire structure of his house has vanished, and the lot where it stood is now a bucolic meadow that neighborhood kids will not ever enter for reasons even they are unable to explain.
I think I speak for everyone in the community when I say good riddance to that local embarrassment. He made the whole town look ignorant and racist.
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.
And now, traffic.
Crews from the Department of Public Safety will be repainting highway lane markers this week. The common white dashes and double yellow lane dividers will be replaced with colorful ceramic mosaics depicting disgruntled South American workers rising en masse against an abusive capitalist hegemony.
The protective steel barriers along curves in the road will be taken down to make room for some really lovely and provocative butcher-paper silhouettes of slavery-era self-mutilation, reflective of several centuries of slow genocide and dehumanization by Western imperialists, designed by contemporary art darling Kara Walker.
Also, Exits 15 to 17 along Route 800 will be closed for the next two Saturdays because of the biennial Lee Marvin Film Retrospective. So please watch for working crews this weekend, lower your speed, and don't forget to tip the DPS shift leaders. 20% of your current mileage is standard. Lack of tipping is the leading cause of sinkholes in the U.S.
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.
The results of a recent survey of Night Vale residents came to light this week. The study found widespread dissatisfaction with our town's public library. And, when considering the facts, it's easy to see why.
The public computers for internet use are outdated and slow. The lending period of 14 days is not nearly long enough to read lengthier books, given the busy schedules of all our lives.
The fatality rate is also well above the national average for public libraries. The library bloodstone circle does not appear to have seen any maintenance or cleaning in some time. There are reports of a faceless spectre moving about the Biography section, picking off lone browsers one by one.
And that Biography section, by the way, is far too small and has been oddly curated — containing 33 copies of the official biography of Helen Hunt, and no other books.
From top to bottom, the public library is a disgrace to our fair city and I can only hope that our City Council does something about that soon, or I may find myself hoping that the faceless spectre puts the library to the same mysterious, violent end as its many victims.
Night Vale High won the grudge match against the Desert Bluffs Vultures last night. Two-headed quarterback Michael Sandero credits the win to help from Angels! The Angels have made an adamant denial of any involvement whatsoever in the game. The school district ethics committee has announced that they will look into any possible "Angelic interference".
Speaking of which, Night Vale High School is adding metal detectors, and parents and students alike are outraged. Several parents we talked to said that NVHS students have long been recipients of shadow government-issued Uzis and rifles, as well as tasers and armor-piercing munitions. The School Board's decision to put up metal detectors, according to parents, impinges on the clandestine operation's rights as a vast underground conspiracy of giant megacorporations and corrupt world leaders to bear arms via teenage paramilitary proxies.
The School Board countered that studies indicate that weapons distract from educators' ability to educate, and that students who bring firearms to classrooms are more likely to use firearms than students without firearms. The School Board says that school shootings can only get in the way of a quality education.
Well...at the risk of becoming too much a part of this story, dear listeners, might I say that the Night Vale School District is overstepping its bounds by telling us whether or not our children can be armed by undercover militants? Should it be a school's job to say, "No, child, you cannot have grenades or assault rifles in the classroom"? I think not!
Beginning November first, all students at NVHS will enter the school through metal detectors. Any firearms or weaponry found will be confiscated and held in the counselor's office until after school, when the students can pick them up again.
Seriously, listeners, what's next? Removing the line "Praise the beams, praise, o ye knowing beams that guide our lives, our hearts, our souls; praise o highest to ye all-powerful beams" from the Pledge of Allegiance?!
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 40s...which will be surprising, as there will have been no mayor for over thirty years.
And now, the weather!
["Despite What You've Been Told" by Two Gallants]
The Night Vale Business Association announced today that the Night Vale Harbor and Waterfront Recreation Area was not actually something that ever existed in reality, but was instead a shared hallucination of the entire town's population. As such, they are proud to declare that they have never suffered any sort of disastrous business failure, and the reportedly massive amounts of money lost on building waterfront facilities in a desert are fabrications of our collective consciousness.
They recommend consulting your dream interpretation manuals to determine exactly what this "Night Vale Harbor" vision could mean. They also said that if you happen to stumble on the Waterfront buildings out in the desert exactly where you remembered them, and they seem completely real, standing as vacant and useless as the day they were built, that's because you are still hallucinating and should seek medical treatment immediately. Or have a member of the City Council howl at you if you are of the Olden Faith, and do not believe in modern medicine.
For our final story in this week's featured look into the history of Night Vale, let's look at the very recent past.
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...