tikific: (Default)
[personal profile] tikific
Title: Rock Lobster
Fandom: Welcome to Night Vale
Author: tikific
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Pairings: Cecil/Carlos, Old Woman Josie, Teddy Williams
Warnings: Cursing.
Word Count: 4400
Summary: Cecil and Carlos care for an unusual pet while Night Vale is once again threatened with imminent destruction. In other words, a typical Tuesday.
Notes: At the end.





Carlos pushed his shopping basket around the end cap full of bright oranges, shiny apples and albino sheep embryos, trying to ignore the steady beat of the drums, drums, drums. What did one pack for a lunch date? Human romantic interaction was a surprisingly complex phenomenon, and he was endeavoring to do everything correctly here.

And then he turned the corner. If Carlos were the kind to believe in heavenly choirs, he may have heard the sound right then and there.



“Remember, listeners, Mom’s Homemade Mudpies. It’s what for dinner! And now, the weather….”

Cecil switched on the pre-recorded track and beckoned his favorite scientist to enter his domain. Carlos was carrying a rather bulky package today, which he sat down on the floor of the booth. “Cecil, why is everybody in town suddenly eating dirt?”

“Oh, it’s just kids, you know how they are! Always with the annoying music and consuming the earth’s crust.”

“Ralph’s now has a gravel section.”

Cecil’s eyes danced a tiny jig. “Mmm! What flavors?”

Arching an eyebrow, Carlos squatted down next to the large package he had just brought into the booth. “I wasn’t certain what to pack for our lunch date, due to so many food items available at the store nowadays being inedible. And then I had an idea. As you know, I've been viewing romantic comedies in order to familiarize myself with dating customs.”

Cecil nodded eagerly. The candy and flowers had been much appreciated, as had the Thompson M1928 submachine gun. Poor dear Carlos seemed to think the Godfather trilogy was a series of romantic movies, a notion from which Cecil was reluctant to disabuse him.

“And so I brought us … this!” Carlos dramatically whipped off the cover, revealing a tank full of blue green sea water. And inside the tank....

“Is that some kind of prehistoric arachid, Carlos?”

“Uh, no, actually, it's a live lobster. It's from Maine!”

Cecil sat down on the floor, cross-legged in front of his new crustacean acquaintance. Both creatures stared at each other for a moment.

“Is it male of female?”

“Oh, I don't know.”

“I thought you were a scientist?”

“Of course I'm a scientist!” Carlos said, somewhat peevishly. He was a bit ashamed to admit he hadn't taken the marine biology elective. “I forgot to inquire at the Ralphs seafood section as to the gender.”

“How can we name it if we don't know if it's a boy or a girl?”

“We're going to name it?”

The door to the booth flew open, and breathless Intern Sebastian burst inside.

“We've got to get that fixed,” sighed Cecil, watching the winged door bumping up against the ceiling. “It keeps escaping.”

“Cecil!” puffed Intern Sebastian. “There's been a lightning strike down at the harbor. Part of the waterfront recreation center has been burnt to a crisp!”

“Well, that's interesting,” said Cecil, taking the report from Intern Sebastian. “Say, does this lobster look male or female to you?”

Intern Sebastian shook his head and burst back out of the booth.

“Cecil, there was a lightning strike?” asked Carlos.

“Yes.”

“Isn't that weird?”

“No more weird than Intern Sebastian's hairstyle. Really, a mullet?”

“No, I mean, there's not a cloud in the sky today!”

Cecil turned to look at him. “Really?”

Carlos sighed. “Cecil, weren't you just broadcasting the weather?”

“Yes. What does that have to do with cloudy skies? Really, Carlos, sometimes I think you just weren't born for this world.”

Carlos stood up, rubbing his sore legs. “Well, I suppose I should get out to the harbor and investigate.”

“Oh, we're doing science?” asked Cecil, now giddy with the prospect. “Wait a minute, let me see if Intern Sebastian can babysit Fifi!” Cecil hopped to his feet and ran for the door.

“Fifi?”

“Our lobster!”



They arrived at the Night Vale Harbor and Waterfront Recreation Area, or at least the location where rumor has it the Night Vale Harbor and Waterfront Recreation Area was said to have existed. But instead of a pile of rubble and a sign declaring that NOTHING IS HERE, it appeared that someone had lit a rather large and extravagant bonfire.

“I wonder what could have caused this?” said Carlos, stepping out of the car.

Cecil was clicking away with his camera. “Well, as my mother used to tell me, sometimes the things you love the most are consumed inside a hellish conflagration.”

“Did people love the Waterfront Recreation Area?”

“We could have learned to love it! Given time to melt our hard hearts, plus a few million gallons of seawater.”

“Cecil.” That brought up a good point. “Why is there water at the Waterfront Recreation Center?”

Carlos and Cecil stared off across the desert, and at the great turquoise-hued lake there, reflecting the sun and sky.



Carlos sighed deeply, watching Fifi scuttle happily around Cecil’s kitchen, weaving her lobster web, catching the tiny krill that floated there.

“Would you like some smoked sandstone? It’s really flavorful this season.”

“Cecil, you’re not eating dirt too, are you?”

“Of course not,” said Cecil, cramming the box of Sandstone Snax into a drawer, and trying not to crunch too loudly.

“Since when did the Water Park have water? Where did it come from? There hasn't been any rain?”

Cecil hooked a finger in his mouth to dig out a pebble that had embedded in one of his molars. “Is it Tuesday? Probably another harbinger of doom then. We tend to get those on Tuesdays.”

“And that's another thing,” said Carlos as Fifi ascended the dining room table on a thin string of web and then crawled across it to steal an egg. “Are lobsters supposed to weave webs?”

“I thought you were the scientist in this household?”

Carlos's dark cheeks picked up a flush of pink. “I probably should have taken that Marine Biology 101 elective when I was studying science. But it was scheduled across from Contemplations of Lunar Propinquity.”

“Ah, yes, that would explain it. Perhaps you should talk to the head of the Night Vale Community College?”

“Oh, yes, I could do that! What's her number?”

“She doesn't have a telephone. As she doesn't speak, being a smooth, fist-sized river rock. She's kind of a jerk actually. She drew the meanest caricature of me. I'm still traumatized.” Cecil's shoulders slumped at the terrible memory.

Carlos slid over to sit in the chair next to Cecil, carefully ducking under the web Fifi had just woven between the centerpiece and the kitchen counter. “I'm sorry, Cecil,” he said. Cecil shrugged. “Personally, I find your countenance extremely appealing.”

Cecil blinked up at him. “Do you really think so?”

Carlos edged in closer. He put up a hand, and tenderly cupped Cecil's chin, stroking his face with a thumb. “You are very pleasing to look at.”

“Yes?”

“And I like being near you.”

“Really, Carlos?” Cecil was leaning nearer. Carlos could see his own face reflected in the pink of Cecil's irises.

“Really....”

Suddenly, Cecil's door flew open, and in rushed Intern Sebastian.

“Really,” sighed Carlos, as Cecil's door fluttered around, tangling up in Fifi's many webs.

“Cecil,” said Intern Sebastian. “Old Woman Josie said the angels told her it's the end of the world. So, get packed! And maybe return those overdue library books.”

“I should get to the station,” Cecil told him. “Told you. Tuesdays! It's always the end of the world. That, or a sale at Ralphs.”

“I suppose I should get over to the Community College,” said Carlos.





After politely refusing repeated entreaties to enroll in Advanced Conversational Sumerian, Carlos finally obtained the name of the College Marine Biology professor. He found his office and knocked tentatively on the door. It was opened by a man wearing an eyepatch. He had a stuffed parrot perched on his shoulder.

“Er. I'm looking for … Professor Barnacle Jack?”

“Arrrr. That be me. I be head of the marine biology program hereabouts. What did ye need to know about?”

Carlos entered the office, which was cluttered with odds and ends like cutlasses and a stereoscope. Over in the corner, a small nod to the twenty-first century, a radio was tuned to Cecil's program. Carlos smiled faintly at the sound of the familiar voice.

“Well, my friend and I, we've adopted … a lobster.”

“Aye! A creature of family Nephrodipae be a good and loyal pet. But make sure he doesn't betray you to the regional governor!”

“Uh, no. Anyway. We were wondering if such a creature has ever … woven a web?”

Barnacle Jack squinted his one eye at Carlos. “Be this crustacean a Maine lobster?”

“Well, yes, it is.”

“Aye, they always have a bit of cussedness to them. If it gets too tangled, I'd recommend the lash! Spare the rod, spoil the invertebrate, I always says.”

“So, you've known lobsters to weave webs?”

“Not in my experience, and I've been two and forty years a professor of Marine Biology. ARRR!” He pointed out his degrees on the wall, which were impressive, although they were a little damp and water-stained. “These be strange waters we be adrift in. Strange waters! My Polly parrot, she's taken a mind to weave a web or two these last few days.”

“Uh. Isn't your parrot … stuffed?”

“Shhhh! She be very sensitive pertaining to that matter. Very sensitive!”

“Listeners!” Signaling for the professor to wait for a moment, Carlos walked over and turned up the radio, detecting the edge in Cecil's voice. He hunched over the radio, listening intently. “I've just been handed a bulletin from one of the strange, dead-eyed child messengers who sometimes wander into the station from nobody knows where, only to depart, just as mysteriously. Our Night Vale clock tower has been struck by lightning! And, strangest of all, it has ceased teleporting from place to place, but is sitting, apparently fixed in time and space, in the middle of the Ralph's parking lot, which has annoyed a lot of shoppers, as they are having their usual Tuesday door-busters sale on tuberous vegetables.

”When contacted by this station, the Mayor was heard to screech loudly and disappear in a puff of mauve smoke....”

“I should get out there,” said Carlos, turning the radio down.

“Mffrmrrmff, yarrrr!” mumbled Barnacle Jack. Carlos whirled around and saw that the professor was now completely wrapped up in a cocoon of silky thread. The stuffed parrot was still perched on his shoulder, though Carlos could swear she now had a guilty look in her glass eyes.

He went over and tore a hole around where Barnacle Jack's face should be. “Thanks, matey! 'Til again we meet, fair sailing to ye.”



By the time Carlos had made his way downtown, being careful to avoid roadways that were now flooded out, a small crowd had gathered around the stationery clock tower in the Ralphs parking lot: a mixed mob of curious onlookers and annoyed bargain hunters.

The man who worked in the clock tower was standing in the middle of the parking lot, mad as a wet hen. He was actually wet as a wet hen, as the parking lot had flooded. As had the Ralphs, if one could judge by the masses of shoppers and half-filled carts that came floating out as the automatic doors flew open.

“Carlos!”

“Cecil!' said Carlos, spying the radio host. They stood for a moment and watched the Ralphs automatic doors soar up and disappear into the sky. It was an impressive sight.

“Do you have any quotes for my listeners about this situation?”

“I have … no fucking idea,” Carlos admitted.

Cecil began scribbling on his reporter's notepad, muttering to himself. “Sweet, lovely and perfect Carlos had no comment....”

“Cecil, you really don't need to refer to me as 'Perfect Carlos' every time you mention my name.”

“Why not?” Cecil's eyes swept up and down. “You're … perfect.”

Carlos felt the blood rush to his cheeks. “While I appreciate the sentiment, Cecil....”

“I am sentimental,” said Cecil, who was now standing awfully close, peering up at Carlos, tilting his head just slightly off to the side so his bangs swept into his eyes in that cute way. Carlos reached out a hand to brush the hair out of Cecil's eyes....

...and was nearly run over by an ibex. Suddenly, the parking lot was the scene of a mass exodus, as animals of all shapes and sizes – deer, lizards, foxes, tortoises, snakes, hares, llamas, gazelles, nudibranchs, bears, elephants and even a lesser stoat went rushing by, desperately making their way out of Night Vale.

“What the-?” said Carlos. He felt a tugging on his pant leg. He looked down and found himself staring into the cold, dead eyes of a strange child. The weird youngster proffered a note to him. It was tangled in spider webs.

“Oh, hey, a message!” said Cecil, peering over his shoulder. “An angry mob has assembled outside of Old Woman Josie's house? Hrm. They're blaming her for the weird occurrences.”

“That's not fair!”

“I know! They blame her for the strange floods, but not for the half off sale at Ralphs? Well, you know angry mobs.”

“No, I think I have an idea what may be going on, Cecil.”

Cecil stared. “Are you going to use science, Carlos?”

“Well, no, actually,” Carlos admitted. “It's a story my abuela once told me. Look, I'll go talk to Josie, you go back to the station and wait for me. You may need to spread the word.”

“Be safe, sweet Carlos!' said Cecil, leaning forward and pursing his lips.

“Ack!' said Carlos, as he was whacked on the head by a flying door just as he was leaning over to smooch Cecil goodbye. “God damn these fucking doors.”



When Carlos arrived, an angry mob, wielding torches and pitchforks, had indeed gathered outside of Old Woman Josie's house.

Carlos wasted no time in striding to the head of the pack, confronting Teddy Williams, who, as owner of a bowling alley, tended to be excitable. “Look, Teddy, I don't think violence is indicated here.”

“Stay out of our way, Carlos!” Teddy warned, shaking his pitchfork.

“Look, where did you even get a pitchfork, Teddy? You live in the suburbs!”

Teddy Williams tried, most ineffectively, to hide the pitchfork behind his back. “Ah, what do you know, big shot scientist?”

“Well, I know.... I know....” Carlos planted his feet and crossed his arms. “I know quite a lot actually.”

The mob suddenly quieted down, though some were emitting slightly dazzled “Ooo's” and “Ah's.”

“Oh?” said Teddy Williams, who seemed quite taken aback. He began to scratch his head with the end of the pitchfork. “Well, I guess that's pretty darned impressive.”

“You should apply to be on Jeopardy,” one of the angry mob commented. “Bet you could win a lot.”

“Carlos,” asked another. “Can you tell me why we can do this?” The man flicked his hand, and suddenly the silk strands of a web drifted out, making a bright, delicate pattern in the fading sunlight.

“Hey, I can do that too!” said someone else. She flicked both hands, and it looked like she was playing a game of cat's cradle with spider web.

“Uh, oh! That's … interesting,” said Carlos. He gestured at Old Woman Josie's door. “Tell you what, we'll go chat about the end of the world, and then we'll discuss various hypotheses.”

Carlos rapped on Josie's door. Fortunately for him, she opened the door. Without waiting to be asked, Carlos slipped inside.

Josie stood there, smiling, a pair of knitting needles stuck through the bun in her hair. “Come in, come in, dear. Are you part of the angry mob?”

“Uh, no, actually,” Carlos told her. “But that's what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“We're having a little pre-apocalyptic knitting party today,” Josie explained. The entire inside of her house was covered in thin tendrils of webbing. Carlos stepped awkwardly around a web to see a party of angels all hunched over in Josie's living room, contentedly weaving sweaters and mittens and scarves and a large hadron collider, which took up most of Josie's divan.

“Josie, about that-”

“Would you like some tea? Or maybe a nice scarf?” she asked as an angel draped a rather soft and silky blue and bronze scarf around his neck.

“Uh, thank you very much. But I haven't a lot of time, as I think the town is in imminent danger.”

“Danger is immanent to Night Vale. We're built just over the reed, you see. I told Jiłgaii it was a bad idea, but do they ever listen to an old lady?”

An angel draped a knit hat over Carlos's head and he pushed it back out of his eyes. “So you are Spider Grandmother?”

“That's one of my names. You do tend to pick up so many name, when you live as long as I do. The Great Goddess, Kokyangwuti, and for a brief run in the 70s, Jessica Drew....”

“Josie-”

“Well, it was the disco era, and none of us were in our right minds.”

“Josie! Do you know what's happening? With the flood?” Another angel had gifted Carlos with a very fine cable knit sweater, and he was getting a little tangled up and frustrated.

“Well of course, dear. It's Tééhoołtsódii. The Big Water Creature's children got snatched again, and it always gets so terribly annoyed at that kind of thing. Tends to destroy the world. Really needs an anger management class, if you ask me,” she confided, rheumy eyes staring over her half glasses.

“Oh! So, it's like in the story? We need to get her children back to her? Where are they?”

Josie rolled her eyes. “Well, I certainly can't keep track of other people's children for them. Not my responsibility!”

An angel was trying to place a lovingly knitted snuggie on Carlos. Unfortunately, as it was 90 degrees out that day, and there was really nothing worth watching on TV, he was getting distinctly uncomfortable. “Can you please stop?” he snapped. The angel shrunk back, fluttering it's wings in an agitated manner as Carlos threw off the other knitted goods.

“Temper, temper,” scolded Josie.

“Look,” Carlos told the angels. “It's not that I don't appreciate your crafts, it's just, the town might be in mortal danger! And I need to find some mysterious children....”

Josie was silent, tilting her head.

“I need to make a phone call,” said Carlos, whipping out cell and brushing away the cobwebs.



“Where do these messenger children come from? And where do they go? And what can we learn from their dead, staring eyes, and the odd cant of their head? Are they part of us? Does the answer lie in the vast void of the universe? Me, I have no freaking idea. Seriously, I have a life. But if you see these children, listeners, please return them, care of this station. It's important. Water levels have been rising all over Night Vale. Even in this very station, Intern Sebastian was washed away, where to, we'll possibly never know, although it looks like it was out towards Route 800.”

“And now a word from our sponsors. Have you ever choked on a turnip? Or been annoyed by a rutabaga? That is why we need to spread awareness of the dangers of tuberous vegetables, a lurking menace....”



“Thanks for spreading the word, Cecil,” said Carlos. “Teddy Williams and his spider-powered angry mob have already corralled two of the children.”

Cecil turned around in his chair, his eyes tear-stained. “Carlos! We have a relationship crisis.”

Carlos ducked down so he wouldn't get smashed by the door. “Oh. Why is that?”

“When I went to check on Fifi, this was all that was left!” Cecil dug into a desk drawer and pulled something out.

“Oh, her old carapace,” said Carlos, eyeing the woeful sack of reddish tissue in Cecil's hand. “It's all right, Cecil. Lobsters shed their skin as they grow.”

“What? You mean like snakes, and people from Desert Bluffs?”

“Er. Yes.”

“But where's the rest of her?” asked Cecil, squinting into the discarded shell.

“You didn't see her in your kitchen?”

“Well, she also liked to frolic in the bathtub, and in my weapons cache.”

“Your … what?” Carlos's phone rang and he picked it up. “Teddy and his angry mob have located the last child. We're going to meet at Josie's place. I'll see you later.” He cast an eye towards the ceiling, and then, acting quickly, gave Cecil a kiss on his forehead. Then, waving a taunting middle finger at the door, he ran out into Night Vale.



Carlos burst into Old Woman Josie's house, causing the usual fluttering of doors. “We have the children,” he said, pointing to three dead-eyed strange children, who were wrapped up in webbing, being held by Teddy Williams's angry mob out in Josie's front yard. Everybody was currently waist-deep in the rapidly rising water.

“That's nice dear,” said Josie. “Would you like tea? Or a toilet paper cosy?” she asked as one of the angels proudly held up his latest creation.

“Josie. Where is Big Water Creature?”

“No idea. Do you take cream or lemon?”

“The town is flooding.”

“Yes, it's getting all our tassels damp,” sighed Josie.

“Where is Tééhoołtsódii?”

“Not a clue.”

“Then how are we going to stave off the deluge?”

“Hrm. We could start knitting some nice water wings?”

Carlos was about ready to burst into a healthy dose of profanity, but there was a shout from outside, and he saw a row boat coming down the middle of Josie's flooded street. It was manned by a professor of marine biology. Barnacle Bill tied up on Josie's porch and debarked, carrying a large tub.

“Ahoy there, mateys!” he said, barging into Josie's living room. “Look upon what manner of creature I found a-scuttling away.”

“Fifi!” said Carlos as Barnacle Jack whipped off the tub's covering.

“Oh, Tééhoołtsódii,” fussed Josie. “There you are. You've been causing all manner of mischief!”

“Wait,” said Carlos. “Fifi is the Big Water Creature?”

“Aye, matey.”

Carlos stared down at the tub. “Seriously? Big Water Creature?”

“Well, folks wasn't as big back then, remember. They barely came up to your ankles,” Barnacle Jack said, holding a hand down towards his feet.

Carlos started to speak, but then thought the better of it. “Is she looking for her children?”

“Actually, matey, this is a male lobster. Ain't ye never taken Marine Biology 101?”

“It was across from another elective.”

“All rightie, well, let's see.” A couple of Josie's angels led the children into the house, and Tééhoołtsódii scuttled out of her – or rather his – crate and crawled over to them. Then, taking ahold of the delicate tendrils of the spider webs wrapped around them in its claws, it began swiftly moving away, the children following along behind.

“Goodbye, Fifi,” bade Carlos. “Where do you think they're headed?” he asked Barnacle Jack.

“Back down the reed to the Third World, they be goin',” said the professor. “Or maybe San Diego. I've heard it's nice this time o' year.”

Carlos ducked as he was almost hit on the head again by one of Josie's flying doors. “Fucking doors,” he muttered.

“Oh, I have a solution for that,” said Josie, going to open a drawer. “Works on the angels too.”



“As they say, listeners, all's well that ends well. Of course, they also say penny wise, pound foolish, but how can a copper coin or an expanse of adipose tissue be said to have sentience? Oh, look who's visiting the station, it's dear, perfect Carlos!”

Carlos entered the booth, shutting the door, and swiftly pulling a chair over to brace under the doorknob. He pulled a pair of Josie's shears out from where it was tucked in his belt and clipped several large flight feathers off the wings on the door. The door flapped impotently for a bit, mightily annoyed, but stayed in place.

He strode over to where Cecil was sitting behind the desk, and leaned over, hands on Cecil's arm rests, face an inch or so from the flustered radio host.

“Happy to see me?” he breathed.

Cecil's eyes went wide. He held up one finger. He swiftly turned towards the mixing board, snapping in a tape. “And now the weather,” he blurted into the microphone. He turned back towards Carlos, who pulled off Cecil's headphones and tossed them onto the desk, staring intently into Cecil's eyes.

Cecil grinned.



“Listeners, I hope you enjoyed listening to Mahler's Symphony No. 5, which is always one of my favorite pieces for a bright, pick-me-up. I apologize for the soft, whispering tone of my voice, but I am currently broadcasting from underneath my desk, where I find myself rather pleasantly entangled with a certain scientist, and, as he has endured more than a little excitement lately after once again saving our town from certain destruction, this time at the hands of an ancient, uncaring god who happened to be a crustacean, I am reluctant to disturb him.”

“ZZZZZZZZ!”

“In other news, the City Council is considering a ban on selling gravel snacks in the Night Vale public school system, due to parent complaints about chipped fillings....”



Notes: I have somewhat concatenated some Southwestern Native American myths here. Spider Woman is prominent in Hopi legends, whereas Big Water Creature is part of the Navajo creation myth. Since the tribes lived side by side, I am confident that they may have run into one another.
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 06:19 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios