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A Blinking Light up on the Mountain

Our God is an awesome God. Much better than that ridiculous god that Desert Bluffs has. Welcome to Night Vale.

There is, listeners, a Blinking Light up on the Mountain. It is red. Blinking Lights are always red.

It is nestled among the crags and nooks of the precipitous slope. We can all see it – no use denying it! The City Council tried. “Nope,” they said. “Blinking Light? Let me think. Blinking Light...no, sorry, it doesn’t ring any bells!”

But then a bell started ringing – a signal from the watchman who lives in Night Vale’s Invisible Clock Tower, letting us know that he had seen something. And we all saw it, too. It was a Blinking Light, up on the Mountain.

“Oh well,” said the Council, crawling backwards through a window into Town Hall, one by one. “Ahh, well…it was worth a shot.”

What does this light mean? Who will dare investigate it? Will it spell our doom? Dear listeners, who knows? No one.

And probably, more later. For now, just this. Just a Blinking Light – red – up on the Mountain.

Harrison Kip, adjunct professor of archaeology at Night Vale Community College, announced an upcoming three-part series on Night Vale Community Television – defending his fringe views that the pyramids, and other ancient structures, were constructed by human beings rather than benevolent ancient aliens.

Harrison, against decades of reasonable evidence, raved that “It’s possible that these historical marvels could have been made using mathematics and slave labor.” He went on to explain, shrieking like an obvious lunatic, that agriculture was probably not started on Mars, and that humanity was created through evolution, and not through selective breeding of alien DNA.

We reached out for comment to the president of Night Vale Community College, Sarah Sultan – who is a smooth, fist-sized river rock – about the extreme beliefs expressed by a staff member. Sarah had no comment, as she is a smooth, fist-sized river rock, and unable to speak. She can write, however, and wrote, “No comment,” before drawing an insulting caricature of your humble reporter – which was hurtful, and unnecessary.

Listeners, here’s something weird.

I know you can’t see it, but it’s sitting in the studio with me at this very moment, and it is definitely something, and definitely weird. I’m not sure how it got here, but…I’m not sure how I got here either. Causation is difficult and confusing.

I haven’t tried touching it…I’m going to try touching it now.


I believe it likes being touched, because it started to vibrate and lean in towards my body, but…that could just be its way of expressing anger or immense physical suffering. When something is this weird, one shouldn’t assume to understand anything specific about it at all.

Is it a bomb?

Is it one of those objects that isn’t a bomb?

Is it just a kind of dog?

We don’t know. And we will never find out. And we will never try to find out. Ignorance may not actually be bliss, but it certainly is less work.

So, with no new information and with nothing learned, I’ll repeat what I said, gesturing at it with a hand you cannot see.

Listeners, here’s something weird.

A continuation on our previous report about a Blinking Light up on the Mountain:

As many of you noted, the very nature of our report indicated the existence of a Mountain – which is surprising, given that we live in vast, desert flatness. So yes, there is a Mountain. Let’s start there.

There is a Mountain now, rising up out of the alluvial Floodplain. It is made of rock, and height, and awe. Its peak is higher than where I am now, but lower than the Void.

Larry Leroy, out on the edge of town, said that it was definitely a Mountain, saying, “That’s a Mountain if ever I seen one. I haven’t, though – seen one. I think that’s what they’re like. Mountains are like that, right?”

Madeleine LaFleur, head of the Night Vale Tourism Board, said, “Oh, great, now we’re gonna have to reprint all these brochures!” before taking more sips of her coffee than she needed to in a given span of time – because the frequency of sips was under her control, and her own life was not.

John Peters (you know, the farmer?) We haven’t heard form him in a while. If anyone knows where he went, or about the Blinking Light up on the Mountain, or the Mountain rising up out of this muddy plain outside of town, please call in to the station and release the information with your mouth.

As part of our service to our community, Night Vale Community Radio is taking this moment to allow one of the candidates for mayor to make a brief statement. The following is from the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home:

I replaced your books with other books. The covers are the same, but the content has been altered. I don’t think you read enough, but that is not why I did it. I changed every single word of some of the books, in others only a single comma on a single page. This is a metaphor, but I’m…not sure what it represents. That is also a metaphor.

We all are.

Our political system has become too complicated. I am not complicated. I’m just a gentle old lady who lives in your home. I’m touching your hand right now.

No, not that one.

Not that one either.

Do not think you are superior because you have a face and I do not. All of your books are now different books and you did not notice. So who is a lost child in the dark howling woods of this fable?

Anyway, I hope you’ll vote for me. One of the books is now my life story, if you’d like to know more about my background.

No, not that one.

Not that one either.

You’ll know it, because my life story is just like yours – starting with calamity and shouting, and ending with an empty room and a to-do list.

Also, Hiram McDaniels has been exchanging emails with corn lobbyists looking to elbow in on our local imaginary corn market.

Hiram: Bad for our community, bad for our interests, literally a five-headed dragon.

Vote for the candidate you can trust. Vote for the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home.

And now, a word from our sponsor:

Today’s broadcast may have been brought to you…by…uncertainty.

And now, back to our regular programming.

Ah-hah! We have some sharp listeners! Several of you noted that the strangeness of today does not end with the Blinking Light up on the Mountain, or the Mountain itself…but also, this vast, muddy plain it rises from. So yes: we are now reporting that there is a great Floodplain, strewn with bones, around our city. Its wet patches glint slightly when the Blinking Light is illuminated. At night, when all distance is darkness, it appears that the universe itself is glimmering red, and then gone. Red – and then gone.

The mud ripples under the footsteps of the approaching Masked Army, and this warps the reflections in interesting ways.

Carlos says he would like to study it, but that he promised to make a certain person dinner, and he has to learn how to put other things besides science first. Some of this realization might have come with help from those around him.

Mayor Pamela Winchell was seen holding her official mayoral bloodstone aloft towards the Mountain, and the Blinking Light upon it. She was standing on that plain – the plain that exists now, which we should have mentioned earlier.

In other news, a Man in a Tan Jacket, carrying a deerskin suitcase, was seen outside of one of the currently-closed subway entrances, passing out flyers explaining the benefits of a mass-transit system, and encouraging citizens to push for the reopening of the subway as soon as possible.

“Transit is the opposite of traffic!” the flyer reportedly said, and “Subway? More like WOWZA!” Some citizens reported that the flyer went on to say, “Transverse the navel of the world, that secret buried point. It is my home. Help me get home. It is already too late to be early, but not too late to be on time.”

Here at the station, we can’t confirm any of this, as those holding the flyer soon found that it had vanished from their hands. That they could barely remember their interaction with the man. And that, looking back, all they saw was a haze of dust and heat – distant, and indecipherable – like a country they’d never live to visit. Like the landscape of a fading dream. Like fiction.

Like fiction.

All right, we’re really gonna get it right this time. We have been focusing too narrowly, and we realize that. As many of you pointed out, we should have spent less time on the blinking light, and more time expanding on the bit about the approaching Masked Army.

So: there is now a great Masked Army coming towards us across the bone-covered plain. We have no specific information about them, other than that they look small when far away, and then appear to grow as they come closer, which they are – coming closer.

They also might actually be growing. They are quite large now.

The Blinking Light up on the Mountain has not changed its pace. There is a noise like growling, only less organic – like wind howling through a canyon, only more…growl-y.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is what we know:

  • There is a Blinking Light up on the Mountain.
  • There is a Mountain on the Floodplain.
  • There is a Floodplain under the Imminent Army.
  • There is an Imminent Army maybe a couple of hours’ march from here.

I do not believe, now, that we are leaving anything out.

If you have homes, I suggest you flee them. If you have friends, I suggest you warn them. If you have children…did you not know how dangerous and unpredictable the world was when you created a defenseless, tiny human within it?

And, much like Madeline LeFleur, head of Night Vale’s Tourism Board, I will now control the one part of my life that is under my control – let us go now (and I do hope we come back), to the weather.

[“Never Be Famous” by Hussalonia]

Well, we did come back. Here we are, post-weather.

Carlos finally took a look at the situation: the Blinking Light up on the Mountain, and all that came with it – horrific Invading Army, et cetera.

“Oh that?” he said, gesturing with a spatula he had, until moments before, been using to cook. “That’s a mirage. I’ve seen that one before. When you get the clouds a certain way, and the temperature is where it’s at, you can sometimes get this…blinking-light-mountain-floodplain-masked-army mirage. Wow! This is a pretty strong one! It should disappear in an hour or two.”

And it did! Completely gone! Well…the mountain and the blinking light and the floodplain disappeared. The Masked Army turned out to be real. But they weren’t coming to attack us, just passing through on their way to attacking someone else. And they provided some valuable traffic for local business. A few of them even took a bus tour of Radon Canyon.

Madeline LeFleur was both relieved and pleased. “I’m relieved,” she said, “I’m also pleased.” She was still sipping her coffee too often. Perhaps her feeling of lack of control stems from a personal issue, rather than the impending doom we imagined. Stress from her failure to live up to her own self-imposed life goals, for instance. Or a relationship that wasn’t exactly the relationship she had envisioned it would be.

But who knows? No one. No one has ever known anything, not really.

Still, nonetheless, we have come to another end. We have come to it as we always do: blind, ignorant, groping…I take comfort in that consistency.

There is no blinking light up on the mountain, there is no mountain towering over a muddy plain, there is no muddy plain under an Invading Army.

There was an Invading Army, but they’re gone now.

What is left? Well, what is always left?

Night Vale. Our little city. our tiny town, our Night Vale. Proud. Safe. Existent.

Stay tuned next for the background hum of the universe – amplified, and with live color commentary.

Goodnight, Night Vale. Goodnight.

Today’s proverb: Throw your hands in the air. Now your arms. Keep detaching limbs and throwing them in the air. Hopefully the birds will be sated, and leave.

Dana (episode)
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Yellow Helicopters