Welcome to Night Vale Wiki

If you love something set it free. If it doesn’t come back, it probably died of sadness because it thought you loved it. Welcome to Night Vale.

It's difficult to say goodbye to your hometown. Difficult indeed.

We'll get to all of that soon, but first, we bring you the item of, I’m sure, most interest to all of you: a review of last night's opera, the inaugural performance of the new Old Night Vale Opera House, a tribute to the building which once stood proudly in this town for decades before succumbing 20 years ago to an unchecked puppy infestation.

The new Old Opera House is luxurious and stylish. I had no idea what opera was until last night, so my expectations for the building were pretty low. I mean, I don’t know what you think opera is. I was expecting something like fenced in yards full of filthy straw occupied by hundreds of heavily drugged wolves, but it turns out that opera houses look nothing like petting zoos. This place had a chandelier and velvet seats and lush red curtains and a snack bar and people wearing just the fanciest clothes you could imagine: tuxedos and ball gowns and balaclavas and shin guards.

Old Woman Josie and all of her tall winged friends who go by the name Erika and who claim to be angels were there. They were the driving force behind the building of the new Old Opera House.

It was only fitting then that before the performance, Josie gave a toast from the stage. She toasted opera and Night Vale and all of the donors who made the opera house possible. Finally she toasted old friends, and when she did, she looked at me and grinned. I blushed and looked down at my shoes, which were tasteful sponge clogs that matched my tights perfectly.

Okay, so I'm sure you're asking the same question I've been asking for years: what even is opera? I don't have any training in opera, but I'll do my best to describe it.

Basically, opera is kind of like theater, but they don't raise the curtain all the way up, so you only can see feet shuffling about while you hear high-pitched wailing and combustion engines. This particular opera was called "Amara." It was composed and conducted and mostly performed by acting legend Lee Marvin. It was about a young girl who goes on some kind of... adventure?

It wasn’t clear, because opera is super interactive, and entirely nonlinear. Sometimes people from the audience throw old fruit at the stage and then actors jump into the audience to wrestle these people.. Audience members are encouraged to yell out things they think the performers should do, and performers often vocalize their distaste for the audience. At one point in the first act I shouted "Sing a song about old love and new horizons, about wanderlust and uncertainty!" and then a member of the chorus spat at me and moments later I felt someone handcuff me to my armrest. It was super fun.

They did raise the curtain all the way once, revealing a detailed set of a storm-tossed ocean, upon which a great ship lurched skyward atop a curling, monstrous wave. The details of the painting and the carpentry were flawless. I have never been in such awe of a stage set as I was then, but I think the stage manager recognized the error in allowing the audience to see this and quickly lowered the curtain to just a couple feet off the floor.

I didn't recognize most of the performers because they kept the curtain so low and the stage lights so dim, but I did note that Frank Chen was in the cast, looking every inch the normal human with, I can only assume, a normal number of heads.

At the start of the second act, I sensed a blurry motion in my periphery. I felt a cold touch on my chained hand.

"Nice handcuffs," a whisper said. "Looks like you won't be able to save your friend Dana tonight.”

I was terrified, yes, but like everyone, I’m usually terrified. I also felt rage. Rage at the Faceless Old Woman whispering behind me. Had she handcuffed me so that I could not save my former intern, my former friend, my current mayor, Dana Cardinal from whatever evil deeds were coming her way?

I looked up at Mayor Cardinal in her loge box. She was staring straight at the stage, focused and stony. And despite all my anger at my old friend that she had presumably bought me at a Sheriff’s Secret Police Auction last year and had been using me for the last several months against my will to protect herself against the five headed dragon Hiram McDaniels and the Faceless Old Woman. Despite all of that, I looked at Dana’s face hoping she would see me pleading for her safety. I want to trust and love my friend. And for that moment, I did. And I was sorry that the Faceless Old Woman had restrained me so that I could not help her, even if this time I had wanted to.

I followed the Mayor’s gaze toward the stage. The house lights dimmed and the curtain split open. I saw normal human Frank Chen, centerstage, each of his heads huffing and snarling, preparing for his aria. (As an aside, I am told this was to be opera’s first ever quintet aria, but honestly, I don't know what either of those words even mean.)

Actually, only four of Frank's heads were snarling - the gold, grey, green and blue ones - but his purple head was looking right at me and I felt something familiar but at the same time something that I didn’t understand. My hand strained against its chain but there was nothing I could do.

As the orchestra, led by and comprised entirely of Lee Marvin and a slidewhistle, swelled and Frank Chen continued to belch fire and hiss, we all knew something was wrong. I mean it’s possible that an aria is just a bunch of roars and flames. I'm no expert. But it didn’t seem likely.

Frank Chen then tore off his bowtie, and in doing so revealed he was not 5-foot-8-inch, middle-aged human Frank Chen at all, but Hiram McDaniels, an 18-foot tall, 5-headed dragon. Hiram leapt into the air above the orchestra seats. I heard a muffled scream from above. I looked to the mezzanine and saw Trish Hidge, Deputy Assistant to Mayor Cardinal, trying to quickly escort the mayor away, but it was too late.

I caught a brief glimpse of someone I had never seen before. Or had never seen in my waking life. She was standing just behind Trish and Mayor Cardinal. It was a woman I had once seen in a dream. In my dream she had been underwater, among coral. young and whispering and faceless. And now, in this world that is very likely not just a dream, I saw this same woman, and she was old and shouting and faceless.

Hiram flew up, past the chandelier, toward Dana in the mezzanine, all of his heads focused on their target, teeth bared and angry, except the purple head which twisted away as though trying with just its neck to deflect the course of its body.

At that moment, I felt myself rising against my will. There I was, Lot number 37, being called into use once more. I looked up at Dana but she was not looking back at me at all. She was preparing to defend herself alone.

And then everything went black. I saw nothing. Felt nothing. I was nowhere. I heard a voice. It was whiny and panicked. It told me it was sorry to keep using me, that it had bought me at an auction two years back just in case. You never know what could happen. Nothing can be trusted

The voice told me it especially didn’t trust the other heads it shares a body with, who are always scheming, always making new plans. Plus it was tired of having to commit violent crimes and constantly living life on the run. The voice just wanted to settle down. Maybe start a family. Night Vale’s such a nice town, don’t you think?, the voice asked me.

And I asked, Hiram? Is that you?

And the voice said Not all of Hiram. Most people call me purple head, but I prefer Violet.

Why me? I asked.

Violet said: “One head couldn’t work against four, I’ve known that a long time. I needed another body. Lot 37 was put up for sale and the other heads were distracted by Lot 38, a normal human disguise, so I bought you.”

I was furious of course. I told Violet that I thought Dana had been doing this the whole time. I blamed her over and over. “I have lost a friend because of you, Violet,” I said. “And do you have any idea what it’s like to have you control me this way?”

“Yes,” Violet said. “I only have ⅕ control over my own body. This is my life all of the time, carried along against my will by the foolish plans of those closest to me, betrayed by my own limbs, by the beating of my own heart. But I am sorry. I really am.”

“You need to fight your own fights,” I said.

“I will, Cecil,” Violet said. “I’m giving you back Lot 37. I transfer ownership back to you. You are yours once again. And whatever else happens tonight, I'm sorry.”

“You should be,” I said.

“But,” Violet said, “don’t blame me for losing your friendship with Dana. You were the one who didn’t trust her. That was you, and only you.”

Then his voice was gone.

I woke up, on the floor of the opera house, which was dark and empty. I was still handcuffed to a scorched armrest that had been completely burned off of the chair itself. Most seats and wall sconces had been heavily scorched and destroyed. I wasn’t sure if it was Hiram who did that, or maybe that’s just the standard aftermath of an opera.

I walked outside to the curb watching the rain in the street lights. I saw the drops flickering in a puddle below. I do not like reflections that flicker. I thought of my mother for the first time in a long time. I missed her. And, same word, different meaning, I missed the opera, and the afterparty, too. And, same word, both meanings, I missed my friend Dana. I wished I could have saved her. She was gone, and I had failed her. No one was around to help with the weight of my my guilt or to unchain me from the armrest.

A huge storm was coming through, a rare weather event for the desert. Let’s have a report on that night’s weather now.

["Align" by Aby Wolf]

The storm passed, and I began my walk home, my clothes soaked, my clogs now several sizes larger. The streets were quiet, and I took it all in, knowing these were my final days in Night Vale, certain I had made the right decision. Then I smelled the sandy earth, wet from the storm, and saw the buildings of what would soon no longer be my town, washed clean by the driven rain and I wavered in my certainty.

Lost in thought, I failed to hear the car tires on the slick concrete or see the headlights swinging my shadow across the sidewalk. I heard, "Cecil, get in," and, like any citizen of Night Vale when ordered to get into an ominous unmarked car, I obeyed without thinking. Inside the black stretch limo, impossibly large inside, were dozens of opera supporters and local celebrities. Old Woman Josie and her tall winged friends named Erika were there. Waiters passed around hors d'oeuvres and champagne. I hadn’t missed the afterparty after all.

My sister Abby and her husband Steve and my niece Janice were there. Janice threw her arms around my waist and said: "Uncle Cecil, I loved the opera so so much. Thanks for the tickets. I loved the part where the dragon flew out over the audience, like whoosh, and then it started fighting itself. The purple head started biting the other heads, and it was really funny. Then it flew away, out of the theater and there was a lot of fire. And I thought I saw an old lady with no face ran out too, and the mayor was saved, and Mr. Lee Marvin sang a beautiful song about all the animals we can see using mirrors, and then it was over and everyone cheered. Opera is cool. Mom said you were moving away. Why are you moving away, Uncle Cecil? Uncle Carlos says you don’t have to move if you don’t want to. Will you still come to my birthday party?"

Janice continued chattering but I was dizzy at the name she had just said. I interrupted her. "Carlos? Janice did you say Carlos?"

"Duh, he's right over there, Uncle Cecil.” she said.

I turned and I saw him, and he was already looking at me. And I started to say... and he started to say... and then we just hugged. So tightly. And in my ear, Carlos said, “Sorry I missed the opera. I had to let Kevin know I was returning home and staying there.”

I jerked back my head and said: “Staying here?” and Carlos said: "This is your home. You belong here."

Then he said "This is also my home. I belong here."

“Carlos, anywhere we’re together is home,” I said. And I repeated it. And repeated it. And I said, “but Carlos, is Night Vale where we should live? Is Night Vale even worth living in?”

Carlos held my shoulder and said “Night Vale is just a name, Cecil. Night Vale is just the name for an area where everyone you love lives,” he said. “Don’t worry about the name. Worry about the everyone,” he said.

Over Carlos’s shoulder, I saw Dana, my old intern and current mayor, in the crowd. She looked at me but did not smile. I struggled to meet her eyes, which were wary and gracious. Her deputy Trish Hidge circled behind me and remove the handcuff from my wrist with a small key she had pulled from her jacket pocket.

“Sorry that we had to do that,” Trish said. “But we wanted you to be safe, to not have your body willed by some other force into a fight you were very clear you wanted no part in. We had to physically hold you out of the way so that we could fight this fight on our own.”

From across the impossibly large car, Dana winked and finally smiled. I mouthed “I’m sorry,” and she did not respond, but, still winking, a slow, strange wink, she receded into the crowd like a distant walker into mist.

At the end of the night, the car dropped Carlos and me back home and I don't think we slept the whole night, talking about our new old life together. All these memories and plans. We are back together in our home. And I am back with you, in my studio.

My final show as host of Night Vale Community Radio was to be a review of an opera. And that's still true, someday. But it won't be this opera. Carlos and I are staying in Night Vale for now. I will be back on the air with you again very soon, with more news, with more stories, with more operas.

I think Carlos is right. Night Vale isn't a single unified thing that can love or be loved. It's just the name slapped onto a set of borders and rules that some old bureaucrats wearing soft-meat crowns devised centuries ago. But they don't live here anymore. We do. I do, and I can make it worth it. I can’t just leave it, I have to live it. Live it and make it better. For myself. For Carlos. For my friends. For Abby and Steve and Janice. For Old Woman Josie and all of the Erikas. For Dana.

And for you, listeners. We will together celebrate another homecoming game. We will together survive another street cleaning. We will together… well we will see.

I can't promise I'll never leave you. No one can promise that, but until that moment, let's keep working on this town, this collective idea. This Night Vale, whatever we want that name to mean. We can always start over if we have to, rededicate ourselves, do it right.

To start with, the Secret Police have once again jailed Hiram McDaniels for his numerous crimes against his fellow citizens, although in recognition of the Violet head’s valiant struggle against the other heads and his own contested body, they have put a small hole in the wall that Violet can stick through and be outside of the jail walls, since technically he is not under arrest.

Stay tuned next for happenstance, reconstructed into narrative and falsely interpreted as having significance.

And as always, good night, Night Vale, good night.

Today’s proverb: You say potato. I say potato. [beat] Potato. [beat] Potato. [beat] Potato. [beat] Potato. [beat] Potato. Yes. This is very good. Let's keep going. [beat] Potato. [beat] Potato. [beat] P-

Taking Off
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The Registry of Middle School Crushes