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Voicemail

CECIL:
You have reached the voicemail of Cecil Gershwin Palmer. That might seem like an easy thing to do, but think about how long you had to stay alive just to learn how a phone works and who I am. Congratulate yourself on that. Give yourself a vigorous pat on the back. And don’t forget to leave a message after the heavily distorted sample of a man saying “I JUST COULDN’T EAT ANOTHER BITE”

[I JUST COULDN’T EAT ANOTHER BITE]

CARLOS:
Hey sweetie, It’s Carlos. I know you’re probably busy talking or not talking. Seems like you’re always talking or not talking, you know?

I’ll try again in a bit, but I just wanted to let you know what’s up here. What’s up? The sky. Ha ha. It’s a funny joke but also scientifically accurate. I only tell scientifically accurate jokes. I don’t get how people can find inaccurate jokes funny.

Like: a horse walks into a bar and says “I feel used. As a species even. I feel used.” And the bartender is also a horse, this is the horse district, where horses live when they’re not being used by the humans, and the horse bartender says “Don’t I know it buddy,” and the first horse says “I’m not your buddy” and then he says “Man, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. That was awful of me. It’s the anger.”

So that’s another example of a scientifically accurate joke.

Things are going really well here. With the help of Doug and Alicia and the other members of the masked army that live in this strange desert otherworld, we’ve been starting to build out an infrastructure. Of course, I had already set up a temporary lab, but now we’ve dug up the stones that were used in the old settlements up on the mountain and have been building important basics of life, like shelter, and roads, and Bloodstone Circles. It’s starting to look downright homey around here, if you ignore the disquieting wasteland beyond. So it’s just like the rest of the world, really.

There’s lots of material to work with, because, get this, we’ve been just finding stuff lately. Microwaves, toolboxes, old tennis balls. They look like they’ve been here awhile. I’m not sure how this stuff ended up here, but I’m going to find out.

Oh, that reminds me, I’m thinking of getting a tattoo with the definition of science straight out of Webster’s dictionary. So it’ll say: “I don’t know, but I’m trying to find out, ok?” And then it’ll have a skull and some roses. Maybe an anchor. To make it look old-timey.

I’m still working on how to get you here, but I will. How? I don’t know, but I’m trying to find out, ok? Ok? Ok.

I love you. Talk again soon.

[BEEP]

MICHELLE:
Hey Cecil. Michelle from Dark Owl Records calling. The new…ugh…Woody Guthrie album is in for you. I can’t believe you’re still listening to that stuff. He hasn’t been cool since his electropunk period. We’re all listening to archival recordings of bees now. Come in for your stupid album and I’ll show you the bee sounds while you’re here. And maybe you can hang out for awhile because I’m lonely and I need more human contact. Ugh, Woody Guthrie?

[BEEP]

[faintly in the background, we hear Lee Marvin’s “Wand'rin' Star”]

STEVE:
Hey Cecil, I know you said that I wasn’t allowed to leave any voicemails on your phone and you marched around the room waving your arms and saying NO STEVE CARLSBERG, NO VOICEMAILS and then you tried to convince me that voicemails aren’t real but you couldn’t because I know what is what around here. I know what is what.

But anyway I just wanted to make a quick call to see if Janice could stay with you in a few months. Abby and I are looking at doing a nice little vacation, you know, just the two of us, somewhere romantic like the warehouse district or the Sand Wastes or Arby's. You of all people know how romantic a long weekend at Arby’s can be. Which, listen, by the way, I meant it as just a nice gift when I printed up all those T-shirts of you and Carlos there looking up at the lights and you got all weird about it but I don’t mind. Sorry I made you upset again.

Just get back to me about the Janice thing, or answer me on your radio show while ranting about me, either way is fine. Hope everything’s going well with Carlos. Hope everything is just going. Hope everything goes. Hope it’s gone. We all do.

Okie doke.

[BEEP]

TAMIKA:
Cecil, Tamika Flynn here. I’m calling to let you know that me and the rest of the missing children are having a book drive. We’re taking books and herding them out on the long trail, sleepless nights on our horses, books clear from our feet out to a horizon gone dusty with the dreary stomp of spine and page upon earth, the sad yelp of books taken in the night by coyotes or librarians. I don’t know how long we’ll be gone, but when my horse is neck deep in the Colorado and I’m watching the drowned carcass of some book that will never find a reader again float away on that relentless current, I’ll think about you. Also it will probably be Thursday. We’ll be back Thursday. We’re not taking the books far. They can’t walk and they’re not even sentient, so this’ll be a short one. Oh, gotta go, Night Film by Marisha Pessl is looking restless and I’m worried it’ll start a stampede.

[BEEP]

EARL:
Hi, it’s me. Sure, I’d love to come back and do another segment Cooking Stuff with Earl Harlan. I have this great recipe for pumpkin pie. There’s so much less blood splatter than you would think, but listen, I’m trying to schedule a little more time in my life for my son.

It’s hard, for both of us, what with me having a full time kitchen job plus going straight from being a childless teenager to a middle aged man with an eleven year old. I mean, they have Sesame Street episodes about it that you can show your kid but even with PBS’s help, trying to explain how weird time is, it’s hard.

Time is unimaginably weird.

My son’s name is Roger. I finally asked him. He told me. It was that easy, and it wasn’t easy at all.

I gotta get back to the kitchen. We have a lot of orders coming in, plus it’s on fire. Cook with you soon, Cecil.

[BEEP]

FEY:
SEVENTEEN.
EIGHTY-EIGHT.
[DING]
FORTY-NINE.
EIGHTY-SIX.
EIGHTY-ONE.
SIXTY-EIGHT.

'CAUSE I AM A CHAMPION ♫
♪ AND YOU’RE GONNA HEAR ME… ♪
[SIGH]

EIGHTY-ONE.
EIGHTY-THREE.
[DING]
FOUR.

[BEEP]

CARLOS:
Hey, sorry to call again so soon, I know we talked about space and boundaries and all that, especially with this whole Lot 37 thing you’re going through, got to have time to think, and Ceec, I understand time to think, but I have made an important scientific discovery, and you know the rules are different when an important scientific discovery is made. An important scientific discovery is grounds to interrupt anything.

I found people. Here in this desert other world. We -- me and the members of the masked army -- saw human shapes coming towards us. The masked army opted, as is their way, for something of a warlike response, but I convinced them that it was important to discover the facts before formulating a response, an idea to which Doug roared in a fearsome voice “THAT MAKES TOTAL SENSE. LET’S GO CHAT WITH THEM AND SEE WHAT’S UP.”

And here is, my sweet Cecil, what was up: These people were citizens of Night Vale. They had been lost from their home, as of today, for exactly two years, and they have apparently been wandering this desert since.

They are a tad traumatized by their years in a featureless wasteland, accompanied only by a distant rumble and a bright light that they felt primarily in the roots of their teeth, and so they haven’t told me yet how they got here. But I have them resting in the hot yoga studio we recently built, so I hope to hear their story soon. And when I hear the story, you will too. And then, I’m sure, everyone who listens to your show will, you old blabbermouth. It would upset me if it weren’t just who you are. So much of each other would be annoying if they weren’t also the essence of us.

Ok, more soon.

[BEEP]

DEB:
Hello Cecil, it’s Deb, the sentient patch of haze. I have some new ad copy I want to run by you. And then I want to disregard any petty human feelings you have about it. And then I want to run the ad on the air. Here goes, ok?

I drift above you. I see mostly the top of your heads. You are pitiful, from that perspective. Your hair droops or falls out or hangs flat. I haze above you, sentiently. You slug below me, humanly.

Sentient Patches of Haze. We are the future. We are also the past. You aren’t even the props. You are the backdrop.

So if you have any issues or questions at all about that ad, don’t hesitate to not tell me. Hope you’re having a great day. Ok Cecil, bye bye!

[BEEP]

FACELESS OLD WOMAN:
Hello Cecil, it’s the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home. I’m in your closet, listening to moths eat one of your suits. They make such a lovely crunch and tear.

I just wanted to reach out in regards to you protecting your former Intern Dana against Hiram and I’s good work toward destroying her. You’ve foiled us more than once. I won’t forget that Cecil. I forget nothing. Unlike you, your brain a dusty surface so easily blown clean. My memory cakes on, it stains, it warps. My memory is erosion, it is on the very surface of the earth.

Do you feel my fingernails on your back? No. You don’t. I could do so many things to you without you feeling it. Remember that, if you remember nothing else, which seems likely these days.

Tell Carlos I said hi. I always liked him. And stay out of my way or I will destroy you just as these moths I caught outside and carried into your closet are destroying all of your clothing.

[BEEP]

OLD WOMAN JOSIE:
Cecil, I’m here with Erika and Erika, just checking to see if we can get a ride to League Night later. My car’s in the shop because I stopped believing in it, so if you can fit us all in there we’d appreciate it. Also I can’t use my left hand lately, so it might be a little tricky but we’re still going to win. We’ll crush ‘em Cecil.

[BEEP]

DANA:
Hi Cecil. It’s Mayo- It’s Dana.

I hope you’re doing ok. You seem kind of…I mean lately. Lately, you’ve been.

Isn’t it weird how we talked more when I was trapped in that distant desert otherworld than now when we work a five minute drive from each other? It’s funny how life works. That word meant the opposite of its usual meaning. That’s funny too, I guess.

I know you think I bought Lot 37. But you’re wrong. I wasn’t in Night Vale at the time. Yes, I projected myself into the auction that day, but I only bought some collectible spoons & a Lee Marvin-autographed baseball for my brother. That’s all, though.

It’s awful when you can see the reasoning for someone’s feeling toward you while knowing wholly that they’re wrong.

I wonder sometimes if my double could have done better. Or, if I am the double, whether the original me would have done better. Did I destroy my better half? Then maybe I was lucky that even half of me was better, once upon a time.

Cecil I do my best with what I have. I don’t have much. I hope we’ll talk soon.

Night Vale needs me as much as it needs you. And when it comes down to it, I’ll stand for that before anything else. It’s my job.

Ok.

[BEEP]

[weird alien sounds]

[BEEP]

CARLOS:
Hey, quick update, and then poof I’m gone again from your voicemail. I’ve put some of the junk we’ve found and some of the people we’ve found in my lab and I’m studying them using microscopes and vials of bubbling liquids and me making thoughtful expressions and saying hmm. So I’m really using all of the available scientific tools right now.

I feel like I’m on the verge of something big here. Something new. I’ll call you soon. This is so exciting!

[BEEP]

HIRAM MCDANIELS GOLD HEAD:
Well howdy Cecil, uh, Frank Chen here.

BLUE HEAD:
Yes, Frank Chen with 100% certainty that is who I am.

GOLD HEAD:
Right. So Frank Chen normal human with one voice. No other voices interrupting that main voice making me sound anything less than human.

GREEN HEAD:
WHAT’S GOING ON SOMEONE PUT THE PHONE NEAR MY EARS I CAN’T HEAR!

GREY HEAD:
Well, there’s that busted.

GOLD HEAD:
Just normal human Frank Chen playing a joke with funny voices, wanting to hear if the mayor told you any plans she might have. I’m curious because I’m a citizen and a voter.

PURPLE HEAD:
This was a bad plan. I told you I didn’t want any more to do with your foolish plans.

GOLD HEAD:
Purple! Green! Blue! Grey! Come on, guys. We’re in this together. And ugh. Just. Alright. Frank Chen, average person of normal head amount saying goodbye. See you around Cecil.

[BEEP]

AUTOMATED PHONE VOICE 1:
Hello, this is your—

AUTOMATED PHONE VOICE 2:
—daily—

AUTOMATED PHONE VOICE 1:
—update from the automated—

AUTOMATED PHONE VOICE 2:
—weather—

AUTOMATED PHONE VOICE 1:
—service. Here is the current—

AUTOMATED PHONE VOICE 2:
weather.

["Tag!" by Scarves]

AUTOMATED PHONE VOICE 1:
Thank you for using our automated—

AUTOMATED PHONE VOICE 2:
—weather—

AUTOMATED PHONE VOICE 1:
service. Have a—

AUTOMATED PHONE VOICE 2:
—nice—

AUTOMATED PHONE VOICE 1:
—day.

[BEEP]

CARLOS:
Cecil! Cecil! I did it. I understand. I hooked everything up to computers and I said hmm a lot and then I asked the people to talk about how they ended up in the desert and it turned out that they were all lured into the Dog Park during Poetry Week, and then the gates closed on them and they’ve been in this desert ever since.

And I thought about this. I thought about how Dana came in here with them on that same day. And about all of the stuff I found, which I think is junk that people got rid of by throwing them over the walls of the Forbidden Dog Park. And I realized.

This is the Dog Park. This whole desert. The mountain. The light up on the mountain. We’re in a vast, perhaps endless, and definitely endlessly Forbidden Dog Park.

Which means…you can visit now. You just have to walk through that Dog Park gate and then, you know, walk a few more hundred miles after that to wherever we’re at in this huge desert and then you’ll be able to take that vacation here.

Call me as soon as you get this. Cecil! Oh honey voiced honey! You’ll be able to visit. Talk soon. Love you.

[BEEP]

KEVIN:
Hey friend. We haven’t spoken in awhile. Not since all that…unpleasantness happened. I hope everything has been super pleasant since then. Oh but hey. I’ve been working on something I’d like to show you. I think you’ll be just jazzed about it. Get back to me ASAP, ok?

Until next time, Cecil. Until next time.

Instead of a proverb today, I just have some important news about the stray cats that live outside my apartment. There is the usual one, named Bisquick, who is missing one ear and is terrifying, but today I saw a second one, who is fatter and less terrifying and who I have named The Baron. I will keep you updated as events unfold.

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