Kill: Gabriella Mulder Fall 2015
Two foes met in the middle of the night, one dead, and one alive. Both left dead. There are now two zombies roaming the streets of London. It’s not the destination, it’s the endless exhausting journey. Welcome to Night Vale. What an exciting day for amateur athletes, or just anyone who enjoys moving their body (for whatever reason someone would want to do that). Today is the annual marathon through the Narrow Place. This yearly marathon is a family-friendly charity race that takes people on a beautiful 26 mile or so course along the Crooked Path, down into The Deepening, and ultimately, through the Narrow Place. Race organizers say that this will be the biggest marathon yet, with all the town forced to take part by the terrifying Harbingers of the Distant Prince, and that all participants will be devoured by the Narrow Place. Race board president, Susan Wilman, added, “That sounds a lot more dramatic than it is. Sorry, you know how when you talk mostly with a small group of friends, you end up developing a shared way of speaking that can be misleading, or misunderstood when heard by outside ears. We just like to say that ‘the Narrow Place will devour them’ because what will happen is that the Narrow Place will consume them with an unfeeling hunger, and they will dissipate.” Susan laughed, continuing, “Oh-ho-ho, there it is again! That sounds so frightening when I say it that way, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it sound frightening?” She laughed. Susan laughed. She laughed. Her mouth was black and featureless inside. She laughed. The marathon is this afternoon, and will be the end of us all. More on this soon, but first let’s get into some news. The Desert Bluffs City Council and Desert Bluffs Mayor Dan Cardozo announced this week (via a golden press release hidden in one lucky Sulfur Crunch candy bar) that, due to an extreme deficit in municipal funding, they would have to shut down certain city services including trash pickup, road maintenance, and tree monitoring. Starting this Monday, citizens will have to drive their own trash to the dump, roads will gradually start to deteriorate under the erosion of particulate desert wind, and the movements of trees will go entirely unwatched and unrecorded. The City Council and Mayor Cardozo indicated that they had done everything in their power to prevent this shutdown – including requesting federal assistance, selling off city property, and making offerings of food and wine to the ancient sandstone idols out in the dunes – but that the catastrophic loss of employment and tax dollars (after StrexCorp shut down operations in town) were too much for even those measures to make up for. StrexCorp Synernists, Inc., of course, was the former employer of every single person in Desert Bluffs, until the company’s rapid expansion plans into…nearby towns….led to their downfall and subsequent hostile takeover by beings who are definitely not angels. The not-at-all-angels closed down almost every Strex office, and laid off (or, as they put it, “liberated”) all former Strex employees, and at this point are mostly liquidating Strex resources in order to fund operas here in Night Vale. Listeners, I feel for Desert Bluffs in their time of need. Mostly, I feel scorn and triumph. More on this never, as I don’t ever want to talk about Desert Bluffs again. And now, a much more important story: Khoshekh, the cat floating exactly four feet off the ground in the men’s room here at the station. We’ve received all sorts of calls and emails and distress signals and emergency flares and Morse code spelling out “HELP US! HELP US! WE HAVE BEEN HERE FOR WEEKS! GOD SAVE OUR SOULS!” – which I can only assume are all signs of the public’s insatiable desire to hear more cute kitty news. And what cute kitty news we have! Khoshekh is reaching that time in a cat’s life when his skull is completely visible, and I have been taking adorable photo after adorable photo and putting them on Snapchat, with captions like “Who’s a good kitty?” and “Behold, my skull of terror!” Whenever I get stressed at work, I just put on protective gear and inject myself with a number of preemptive antitoxins, and I go pet Khoshekh for a bit and listen to the low gurgling rumble of his purr. His kittens are doing as well as their daddy, and some of them are getting nearly as big as Khoshekh was when I first found him. My favorite of the kittens is named Mixtape, and his anterior spines are coming in fast. He’s going to be a really big kitten when he’s fully grown – unmanageably huge. Oh, it’ll be adorable! That’s about it for cat news. If there’s any more cat news, like Khoshekh doing something cute, or just looking cute in any way, we will immediately break into whatever ongoing news story it is that we are reporting, and let you know. All right! Let’s do another round of my popular advice segment, “Hey There, Cecil!” “Hey there, Cecil. My husband and I have a bet, and we were wondering if you could settle it. I think that the sky is made of gas and distance, while he thinks that the sky is hastily-painted plywood about 30 feet above the ground, built to hide us from the terrible truth of what is actually above us. That’s unrelated to the bet, which is: which of us wears this summoning cloak better? Pictures attached. Signed, Insecure Summoners in Cactus Bloom.” Hey there, Insecure! Ooh, wow! OK. I’d say it’s a dead tie. It’s almost impossible to look bad in a summoning cloak. But more importantly, instead of arguing about who looks better in a cloak, you should appreciate how you each interact with the cloak in your own unique way. Cherish each other. Celebrate your summoning cloak styles, and save your arguments for that difficult and unsettling matter about the sky. “Hey there, Cecil! My teenage son, like many children his age, can’t decide what kind of person he is. For instance, sometimes he is a kettle, and sometimes he is a bear, and sometimes he is a puddle of water. Many of these forms are difficult to drive to school, and I especially worry about his safety when he takes a form that can fly. 'No flying outside,’ I always tell him, but I worry that he doesn’t listen. What can I do to help my son through this difficult time? Signed, Worried Mom in Downtown.” Hey there, Worried. You would think that we would all be able to easily understand a teenager’s struggle, most of us having been teenagers at one point. Well, except obviously those of us who age backwards. But, outside of the context of a young mind, the teenage experience does not have the same immediate, painful urgency that it does for those who are currently living through it. It sounds like your son is trying on new physical forms to see which ones work for him. Maybe he’s just searching for a physical form that other kids at school will think is cool. Whatever the issue, support him. Have sympathy for him, and most of all, keep him safe from others, and from himself. It’s his job to make bad decisions; it’s your job to make sure they’re not bad enough to cause real damage. Good luck! Last letter: “Hey there, Cecil! I have made a terrible mistake, and it consumes me. My life was once a life, and now it is an uncorrectable error. The arrival wakes each day, and feeds. It gives, and it takes. And it takes, and it takes…I would cry, but I don’t think there’s enough of me left anymore to make tears. What do I do? What do I do? Signed, Terrified in Shambling Orphan.” Hey there, Terrified! It’s important to be able to forgive yourself for mistakes – even real doozies. Just do your best to make things right and move on, I say. Although, your mistake sounds…well, it does sound terrifying. I hope to hear nothing more about it. That’s all the time we have today for “Hey There, Cecil!” Keep your calls and letters and psychic pleas coming in. Listeners, it looks like the marathon through the Narrow Place is almost ready to go. Everyone in town is gathering at the starting line, with the help of the Towering Harbingers of the Distant Prince, who are using their toothy beaks and meaningful glances from their stomach eyes to indicate where people should stand. It’s looking to be a fun race, and everyone is weeping. Larry Leroy, out on the edge of town, playfully tried to hide, but the Harbingers beat him at his own game, and the fun continued when they dragged him screaming to the starting line. Even the City Council is in on the festivities, their ghastly powers being no match for the placid, unyielding might of the Harbingers. I’m here, too – don’t think old Cecil is exempt! Me and Carlos are right here in matching Lycra shorts. He’s wearing his running lab coat, and the Harbingers allowed me to bring the mobile broadcasting equipment so I could continue to do this radio show, even though everyone can hear me talking live, because I’m right here with them. Oh! And there’s Mayor Dana Cardinal, inaugurating the race by nervously chewing on a fistful of dirt. It won’t be long now before we are all surging forward, panicked, the Harbingers looming behind us until we are all forced through the Narrow Place. What good exercise that will be! But, while we wait, let’s have a message from our sponsors. Today’s sponsor is that gut feeling that you did something wrong, but you can’t think of what it could be. What was it? You feel so guilty, but your guilt has no target. It circles, and circles, but cannot land. You think back through the day, trying to find the source of the gnawing guilt, but there is nothing. And you realize that there never was a specific cause. It’s just a part of you. You are the guilt. You are the shame. And this only makes you feel more guilty, more ashamed, that these emotions are somehow tied into your very being. As Albert Einstein famously said after he died, “The call is coming from inside the house.” That gut feeling that you did something wrong, but you can’t think about what it could be. Try it today. And tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. This has been a word from our sponsors. Finally, I think we just have time for this week’s horoscopes before the race. Virgo: You should check under your bed before you go to sleep. That way the thing hiding in your closet will think you haven’t realized where it is yet. Libra: All eyes are on you. Gross! Give them back! Scorpio: Mars is intersecting with Mercury, which means your head is weirdly big for your body, and no one wants to tell you because they don’t want you to have the grace of self awareness. Ugh! Scorpios. Sagittarius: You worry too much about earthquakes and plane crashes. You’re going to die of heart disease or cancer, just like everybody else. Capricorn: Stop throwing your money away on expensive cars and nice clothes. The owners of those cars and outfits do not appreciate the crumpled dollar bills you keep throwing on them! And anyway, if you want to throw something away, that’s what garbage cans are for. Aquarius: You’ve been so stressed lately. Why not just sit outside tonight, relax, look up at the stars, and know basically nothing about the world you live in. Pieces: Scorpions are not as dangerous as everyone thinks. Try to concentrate on that. It’ll help you feel a little calmer tomorrow. Aries: I know this is a hard time for you, Aries, but remember: 'tis better to have loved and lost. It’s really great, just the best. Taurus: Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Pick up the phone, break your mother’s tailbone. Take your coffee with creamer, break your mother’s femur. The wizard’s spell has gone terribly wrong, and you must not move at all until it is reversed. Gemini: You will meet a tall, handsome stranger. He will introduce himself, you will come to know him well, and he will know you well. He will grow older. His skin will sag and thin. He will no longer be handsome. He will no longer be a stranger. He will no longer be most of the things he once was. He will be a close friend, an old friend, one you’ve known for years, and with whom you are settling down into that final stretch of life. But he will always be tall. So tall. Very, very tall. Cancer: I’m not saying this is bad news, but the stars just say “Aaaaaaaaaaaggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!” I mean, maybe that’s a good sign, right? Right? It’s a very inexact science. Leo: Today is your lucky day! Which is good news, because tonight is your unlucky night. But enjoy this lucky day until the sun goes down. Until the very second the sun goes down. And then…and then… That has been this week’s horoscopes. Oh! And…here we go! Uh, there are the starting guns, pointing at all of us, ready to fire in case we decide not to run. Looks like the race has begun. Well, everyone, if we end up devoured by the Narrow Place, then at least we went out with one last fun family-friendly community event! In any case, while we all get moving, let’s get the latest on the weather. [“Black Eyes” by David Wirsig] We went along the Crooked Path, down into the Deepening. And then we all, whether we wanted to or not, we went through the Narrow Place. We went through, and on to the other side. There is no other side. We went there. We sent messages in Morse code to the people we once had been, asking for help, but they could not help us. They were outside of the Narrow Place. The Distant Prince was pleased. He gathered his Harbingers to him for the celebration. They cooed, and merged in and out with each other, taking startling forms. We screamed. They cooed. We wore black coats and had never existed. The Distant Prince wore a golden coat, and had always existed. All darkness is just a thickness of birds. There is rustling in every shadow, every surface is alive! We wore black coats and we went through it. We went through the Narrow Place. So, it was another great marathon! I’m glad that our city government continues to encourage physical activity with fun events like this, and I’m proud of all of us for taking part. We will never be the same again. But here’s a little secret for you: no one is ever the same thing again after anything. You are never the same twice, and much of your unhappiness comes from trying to pretend that you are. Accept that you are different each day, and do so joyfully, recognizing it for the gift it is. Work within the desires and goals of the person you are currently, until you aren’t that person anymore, and everything changes once again. Stay tuned next for a different you, and a different you, and a different you again, each “you” denying their multiple nature. And from the Narrow Place, where we wear black coats and have never existed, goodnight, Night Vale. Goodnight. Today’s proverb: Drake would like to add you to his professional network on LinkedIn.