|The world ended three or four decades ago. I don't know what is that we're living in, but it's not the world. Scientists won't investigate it because they are not real. Turkey with extra Swiss.|
|— Simone Rigadeau|
1983 is the year when the world, or at least of the versions of the world, has been destroyed, and the year in which Night Vale's Russian sister city, Nulogorsk, presumably continues to exist. It is also the year when the 1983 Earthquake Dust Fire happened.
The End of the World
The world, or at least one on an infinite number of parallel worlds, was destroyed on November 7th 1983 as a result of a nuclear war that was caused by mistakenly launched missiles. Trying to protect Night Vale and inspired by the Dark Planet, the town's creator god Huntokar attempted to remove it from the world, and thus saving it from the apocalypse. But by doing so, she shattered reality and broke the boundaries between the different Night Vales. At least one of the many Night Vales, like The Underground City ,possibly Huntokar's original Night Vale, was isolated from its world, which was indeed destroyed. Some versions of Night Vale merged, colliding and falling into each other. Other versions of the town continued to exists separately, sharing open borders with Huntokar's Night Vale, such as the pin retrieval area of lane 5 in Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex.
Some figures around town believed the world was destroyed long time before Huntokar told her story on the radio, and despite being treated as lunatics by the rest of the town, they had many clues and evidences on their side. The main character supporting that idea is Simone Rigadeau, the transient who lives in Earth Science Building of the Night Vale Community College (NVCC). Simone firmly insists the world was destroyed approximately 30 years ago by Huntokar, the mysterious god of the tiny underground civilization living under Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex. During "A Memory of Europe", Simone, says:
"The world ended three or four decades ago. I don't know what this thing is that we're living in, but it's not the world. Scientists won't investigate it because they're not real."
Simone repeats her claim in almost every occasion, and although virtually no one believes her, a handful of clues indicate she is at least partially right. In addition, intern Kareem found a copy of Simone's death certificate, dated to 1983.
Simone Rigadeau's False Memory
In "Ash Beach", Simone is given a memory by the apparitions emerging from the ashes, a memory depicting one of the NVCC faculties during a news broadcast about the apocalypse. Simone remembers the mourning students and staff at the campus, and the news anchors reporting and crying about the impending cataclysm. The anchors are talking about missiles being launched by mistake, that presumably led to a nuclear war, as the anchors say apologies were not accepted. Simone describes a blurry figure of a woman named Huntokar, who according to Simone is "the Destroyer", appearing on the screen wearing a deer mask and speaking in an unknown language. Simone says Huntokar is the one who destroyed the world, and that until now she may knew the world has ended, but she did not remember it ending.
All the memories given by the apparitions of the ash lake are false, but Simone insists her memory is real, and it fits well her long voiced claim that the world has ended in 1983. Compounding the mystery, Huntokar calls herself "the Destroyer" in "The 12:37", just like Simone called her in her memory.
Nulogorsk's Apparent Destruction
Since 1983, Night Vales's pen-pals from its Russian sister city stopped changing the year on their letters, which led Night Vale citizens to the conclusion Nulogorsk only continues to exist in 1983. The residents lost interest in communication with Nulogorsk as they could no longer discuss about contemporary developments in Michael Jackson's career with people who were stuck in 1983.
A newspaper article found on a Russian submarine that appeared to come from Nulogorsk backed the nuclear attack theory, and says the whole village was wiped off the map by a nuclear attack. The article, a front page article of the Night Vale Daily Journal from September 24th, 1983 was written by then foreign correspondent Leann Hart and contradicts the front page Cecil found in the journal's archives. The copy Cecil found was headlined: "City Council Okays Book Ownership For Randomly Selected Students", and Cecil is unsure which newspaper presents the truth. The copy found on the submarine was presumably from a world where the nuclear war did erupt, and Night Vale discussed years afterwards with a Nulogorsk from a world where there was no nuclear winter.
Before the submarine was opened but already after its arrival, a gender-less spokesperson for the Sheriff's Secret Police delivered a bizarre public announcement that seems to be a second-person description of a Nulogorskian child's last memories before dying in a nuclear explosion with their grandfather.
Earthquake Dust Fire
The 1983 Earthquake Dust Fire was a fatal event that decimated almost the entire city, killing most of its citizens. The fire, that was initiated by tremors, as so intense that the airborne dust burst into flames. The fire was also featured on a float in Night Vale's Biweekly Fireperson Appreciation Parade, said to be Cecil's favorite in the parade.
Behind the Scenes
On September 24th of 1983 the Soviet Union did have five underground nuclear tests. Earlier in the same year the NATO naval exercises known as Able Archer led Russia to ready their nuclear weapons.
On September 26, 1983, the nuclear early warning system of the Soviet Union twice falsely reported the launch of American Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles.