Novela

Sep. 29th, 2013 10:11 am
tikific: (Default)
[personal profile] tikific
Title: Novela
Fandom: Welcome to Night Vale
Author: tikific
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Pairings: Cecil/Carlos, The Man in the Tan Jacket, Old Woman Josie, Steve Carlsberg
Warnings: Cursing.
Word Count: 6200
Summary: Carlos introduces Cecil to his guilty pleasure. No, not that.
Notes: You knew Corazon de Azul would show up here eventually, didn't you? More notes at the end.





Cecil awoke, gasping for breath. He grasped at his face to discover he was under assault by a rather persistent facehugger. In desperation, he yanked it off only to discover himself staring into a pair of wide amber eyes.

“Ozzy!” he scolded. Ozmandias was one of Khoshekh's kittens. When Carlos had figured out how to free the litter from the WTNV station men's room through judicious use of science, Cecil (who normally wasn’t a cat person) hadn’t been able to resist taking one home. They were cute as buttons, with only the disconcerting quirk of occasionally sprouting extra, somewhat non-mammalian appendages. Also, their little meows sounded not unlike the death screams of a banshee being boiled in polyunsaturated vegetable oil.

“It's not polite to murder Daddy in his sleep,” he chided. As the little ball of fur cleaned its feeding tentacles, Cecil thought to wonder what had become of his favorite scientist, as the bed next to him was currently displeasingly unoccupied. Setting Ozzy up on one shoulder and slipping into his brocaded dressing gown, he made his way out to the living room, where he heard faint noises.

He was a bit taken aback to espy Carlos, dressed only in boxer shorts and a possibly stolen Night Vale Community Radio T-shirt, hair utterly perfect despite the early hour, sitting cross-legged on his floor, not three feet from the television set, which was tuned to a foreign language station. This was all surprising, as Carlos was one of those people who not only did not own a television, but made rather a big deal (in Cecil's humble opinion) of eschewing that particular medium.

“Good morning,” said Cecil.

Carlos flinched. He turned around, his dark eyes darting here and there as if seeking a swift exit. “Oh. Um. Cecil. I didn't hear you get up.”

“Obviously,” said Cecil, plopping down onto the couch, Ozzy slithering out onto the armrest beside him, emitting a sound somewhere between a purr and an unholy, glass-shattering shriek. “So, what are we watching, given that inspiring speech vilifying the corporate media you delivered last night during cocktail hour?”

“Er, you mean this?” Carlos gestured towards the television, feigning, rather unconvincingly, a studied casualness.

“Yes. That.”

Corazon de Azul. This is a program from my family's homeland.”

“New Hispaniola?”

“Yes!” Carlos squared his shoulders, obviously warming to the topic. “When I was tiny, my old tia would come over to babysit me, and we would watch together.” He smiled fetchingly at the nostalgic memory, but then blushed. “I may have gotten … a trifle addicted?”

Cecil pulled his eyeglasses out of the onyx case sitting on the armrest and squinted at the television. There was a dramatic close-up of somebody emoting, accompanied by a blast of symphonic music.

“It's been going on for twenty years,” Carlos enthused. “Maybe more! There are a lot of intricate plot elements....”

“It's a soap opera?” said Cecil, sitting back.

“No! No no no no no. It's a telenovela.”

“Meaning...?”

“Uh.....” Carlos looked infinitely guilty. “Somewhat comparable to … a soap opera,” he finally admitted. “I suppose.”

“All right,” said Cecil. He got up and stood beside Carlos, grabbing the remote control and starting to click away. “There's only one thing to do.”

“What's that?”

“I'm going to set the DVR to record it every day. And then we'll sit down, and you can catch me up.”

Carlos broke into a beatific smile, each and every straight and perfect tooth on display. He tugged at the belt on Cecil's robe, bringing him down to sit in his lap. “You're so good to me.”

“I know.”

Carlos was still focusing on Cecil's belt. “How can I make it up to you?” he murmured

“Well, you can cook me more of those little pies, the ones with the spicy meat inside?”

“Yeeees?” It came out a little muffled, as it was spoken into Cecil's neck.

“And brew us some coffee.”

“Mmrrmmm.” That one was completely muffled.

Cecil put two fingers under Carlos's chin and tilted upwards. “Right here?” he whispered, peering over his glasses. “On the sharkskin rug?”

“Right here,” said Carlos, pulling off Cecil's glasses and setting them aside. “On the sharkskin rug.”

Ozzy squalled, and then curled up to sleep.



Cecil eased into his chair. And then he shot right up again, rubbing his bottom.

“Everything OK, boss?” asked Intern Whitney, staring intently into his eyes.

“Sharkskin rug burns,” muttered Cecil, grabbing a cushion from the shelf and setting it on his seat. He needed to refurnish his living room. Maybe yak fur carpeting?

“I'm sorry?”

“Nothing.” Cecil sat down once again, with only a minor wince, and grabbed the papers from Intern Whitney's hands. “The mayor said what?” He turned the paper upside-down, sideways, and then flipped it over and held it up to the light, trying unsuccessfully to decipher the arcane markings that littered the page.

“Um, we're not exactly sure. We're not even certain it was any known language.”

“Do you have it tape recorded?”

“Yes, but listening to the press conference has caused three other interns to descend into madness. I got a rash, just holding the tape.” She held up her arm, which indeed sported a red, sort of bubbly patch.

“Ew. Go get some ointment. And maybe a shaman.”



“And now a word from our sponsors. There is a shape moving in the desert. Solitary. Elusive. It creeps, just at the edge of your vision. Could it be a mirage, generated by the great heat? Or the delusion of an exhausted, scattered mind? Look up, and with your last waking breath, finally realize the uneasy truth. Baskin Robbins. Thirty-one flavors of fun.

”In other news, in a surprise move, the city council has awarded the town’s cable television contract to a new vendor, R’lyehVision. We have attempted to contact the CEO of the parent company, Loathsomely Redolent Solutions, a Mr. Derleth, but calls to his office were not returned, and the telephone we used tended to morph into an item of non-Euclidean geometry, which makes punching buttons inconvenient, if not madness-inducing. When reached for comment, the City Council howled in unison, and apparently performed a rather charming synchronized tap routine, including dancing up and down a staircase, to much polite applause.

“We've just been given word that the PTA meeting has been scheduled for next Thursday. All interested citizens are urged to attend. And if I may editorialize for just one moment, this is to give notice: Steve Carlsberg, you had better not try foisting any of your substandard scones on us during this meeting! You are a big jerk, as well as a baker of questionable competence.”



“Oh! Esteban! No!” Cecil shook his head in sorrow at the dubious motivations of the character on television.

“Esteban does not always make the best life choices,” sighed Carlos, reaching for the ice cream over on the coffee table. “This is quite good. I don't recognize the flavor.”

Cecil shifted against Carlos’s legs, finding a more comfortable spot on the couch. “It's Moody Wistfulness. I had a coupon for Baskin Robbins. They're expanding beyond their traditional thirty-one flavors!”

Carlos squinted at the pint container. “Oh.”

“Would you like some Brooding Intensity instead?” asked Cecil, offering up his own frosty pint. “I think I might have some Sorrowful Intransigence in the freezer.”

“No, this is fine.”

“So what's the deal with the guy with the eye patch?” asked Cecil, pointing a frozen dairy treat-laden spoon at the television.

“Marco? He's one of Maria Helena's prospective suitors. As is Joaquin.”

“The pony tail guy?”

“Yeah. She can never seem to decide between them.”

“Oh. I hate the pony tail guy. She'd be much better with the eye patch guy!”

Quite abruptly, as if he had been transported by the winds of destiny, Carlos had scooted up next to Cecil, gripping his shoulders, a wild look in his eyes. Ozzy, who had been curled up on the coffee table, woke up and shrieked. “Exactly! That's what I was always trying to tell my tia!”

“Carlos, you might need a bite of Calm the Fuck Down.”

Carlos surveyed the ice cream cartons. “Is that a flavor?”

“No, but it should be.” He eyed Carlos. “Are you going to be able to make those little spicy meat pies? The PTA meeting is tomorrow, and we need to outshine Steve Carlsberg and his ridiculous excuses for baked snacks.”

Carlos relaxed and slumped back down on the couch. “Why do you attend the PTA meetings anyway, Cecil? You don't have a child in school.”

“I can't stop going if Steve isn't gonna stop. The jerk,” said Cecil, a petulant look on his face. “Are we gonna cook?”

“One more episode?” asked Carlos, holding up one long, delicate index finger, his eyes wide and pleading.

Cecil shook his head indulgently. “All right. I guess so.”

But one episode somehow turned into two, which thereupon turned into six....



Cecil awoke to discover he had apparently fallen asleep on the couch. Someone had thought to drape a comforter over him, and he had a kitten nestled on his stomach, its tentacles curled sleepily in the folds.

And … something smelled wonderful.

Rubbing his eyes, he placed Ozzy on his shoulder and shuffled into his kitchen, where he discovered a perfect-coiffed scientist, wearing only his jeans and a TOUR RADON CANYON apron, bending over a burner.

“Would you like some coffee?” asked Carlos, gesturing towards the thrumming pot with his spatula.

Cecil swooned. “Carlos. You're perfect!”

“I know.” Rows of straight teeth made their appearance. “I promised you empanadas for your meeting, and I shall not disappoint you!”

“I'm running late,” said Cecil, glaring at the clock on the wall, even though, as Carlos had conclusively proved, it didn't really tell time. “I need to get to the station.”

Carlos picked out a morsel of beef from the pan and fed it to Ozzy, who lapped it up, finishing with a rather unsettlingly loud burp. “Hrm. It's going to take this filling a while to cook.”

Cecil frowned. He bent over and dug through various odds and ends in a little metal ashtray sitting on the counter. He plucked something out, and handed it to Carlos. “Here. A key.”

“A key?”

“A key.”

“A key!” Carlos held it up, marveling at it.

Cecil looked at the floor, blushing furiously. He nervously scratched the back of his neck, which much annoyed Ozzy, who slithered on down his robe to the floor and scurried away. “Anyway. I need to pop in the shower.” He turned to leave.

“Cecil?”

Cecil spun around.

Carlos was holding up the key. “When I leave should I … should I leave it in the mail slot?”

“You can, like, keep it.”

Carlos happily popped the key in his pocket. They smiled dreamily at one another.



“Cecil?”

“Yes, Whitney?”

The intern gazed sincerely at Cecil. “We have a whole stack of faxes from Old Woman Josie. But I have no idea what she's talking about.”

“What do they say?”

“She says the angels told her Maria Helena needs to make up her damn mind already.”

Cecil chuckled and shuffled through the sheaf of papers Intern Whitney had just handed him. “Who is Maria Helena, anyway?” she asked.

“Just a silly TV show.” He continued on into the recording booth.



“When you wish upon a star you are actually perceiving light cast millions of years ago from a now cold, lifeless body hanging somewhere in the uncaring void. Welcome to Night Vale.

“Old Woman Josie tells us the angels have spoken to her again, revealing ancient truths. And what is their celestial wisdom? It’s regarding Maria Helena: she needs to decide between two suitors, and it's fairly clear to this reporter upon which side she needs to come down. If I might editorialize here, she would definitely be better off with the eye patch guy, seeing as the pony tail dude is just a big jerk. Also, the guy with the eye patch rides a really cool white horse. And who wouldn't like that?

“In other news, there is person standing on the street. You don't know them. But they know you. They've been watching you. Tracing your movements. Seeking your identity. Cataloging your every gesture as you pass, unawares. And once they've had their way, once they've succeeded in crawling inside you, there will be nothing left. Nothing but a fragile husk. Pepsi, the pause that refreshes....”

Cecil glanced over to the phone lines.

They were all, every single one, lit up.



“Cecil?” The voice was tentative, but Cecil recognized it in an instant.

“Carlos! You'll never guess. The whole town is watching Corazon de Azul. I've never had so many callers.”

“Cecil.”

“It's crazy! And her I thought you and I were the only local fans.”

“Cecil….”

“I might make this a regular segment. I know you don’t think much of the corporate media-“

“Cecil!”

“What? Are at the lab? How did the meat pies turn out?” Cecil licked his lips. Carlos was an amazing cook. As well as an amazing … well, other things.

There was a pause at the other end. “I'm still at your place.”

“Oh?”

Carlos’s voice was a breathless whisper. It was pretty sexy, actually. “Cecil. There's a man. He's at your door. I can see him through the peep hole. He's.... He's dressed in a tan jacket. And he's holding something....”

“A deerskin briefcase?”

“Yes! Cecil, I have … I have an uneasy feeling about this person. A sense of foreboding. Shaded with uneasiness. With maybe a touch of acid indigestion.”

“It's the man in the tan jacket, Carlos.”

“Well, yes, I can see that....”

“No, I mean, it's The Man in the Tan Jacket. You've seen him before!”

“Really? I don't remember.”

“He's fine. He's a fly salesman.”

“He's … what?”

“Just answer the door. See what he wants. I'm on my way. I'll be home soon.”

“But … why would he want to sell us flies?”

“Carlos. Dear. Just answer the door.”



“Hi honey, I'm home!” Cecil trilled. He looked around. Ozzy came running out to greet him, but he heard no reply. There were noises coming from the recesses of his apartment. “Carlos?” He entered the living room to find the scientist sitting on the floor, his face lambent with the flickering image on the television.

Corazon de Azul?” said Cecil, leaning over to plant a kiss at the top of Carlos's perfect hair. “Are you getting ahead of me?”

“Oh. Hello Cecil,” muttered Carlos, who didn't even bother to look up.

Cecil stepped back, crossing his arms and frowning. “Don't act so thrilled to see me. So. Did you finish the empanadas?”

“The what?”

“They're little meat pies. And what about The Man in the Tan Jacket?”

“What man?” Carlos didn’t meet his eyes, but kept his gaze on the monitor.

Cecil crouched down and gripped Carlos by the shoulders, staring into his now vacant eyes. Cecil nodded sadly. He knew that expression.

Heaving a sigh, he rose and went to the kitchen. There was the sound of clinking and the tap running. He returned holding an ice bucket. “Please forgive me, dear,” he told a rather bemused Carlos.

And then he dumped a bucket of ice water all over the scientist.

Ozzy fled underneath the couch. Carlos leapt to his feet, sputtering, shaking his head like a dog. “Cecil!”

“That's me.”

“There was a man! In a tan jacket!”

“I know. You called me.”

“I did?” Carlos looked around frantically. “What am I still doing in your apartment?”

“Watching your soap opera,” said Cecil, clicking off the television.

“It's not a soap opera, it's a telenovela.” Carlos looked irritated. But even wet, his hair was still perfect.

Cecil tossed him the towel he had draped over one shoulder, and Carlos began applying it to his head. “What happened with the fly salesman?”

Carlos peered out from underneath the towel. “The fly salesman?”

“The Man in the Tan Jacket. It looks like you bought a box from him.” Cecil pointed over to the coffee table, where indeed there was a box prominently marked, “1 GROSS FLIES” on the side.

“Why would I do that?” said Carlos. “It can't really be flies, can it?” He poked at the box, pulling it open a crack.

A lone fly fluttered out.

Carlos quickly shut the box, watching wide-eyed as the fly buzzed around the apartment.

Ozzy emerged from under the couch. He ran over and zapped the fly with a feeding tentacle. He eagerly gulped down it, and then scurried back underneath the couch.

Carlos stared. “Cecil. I need to talk to you about that cat.”



Cecil entered the Main Street Recreation Center, proudly flourishing a tupperware container as one might the shield of a vanquished foe.

“Cecil!”

“Hello, Steve,” said Cecil to the nervous little man clutching a paper plate wrapped in waxed paper. “Would you like....” He drew the lid from the container with a practiced flair. “…an empanada?”

“Oh. Yes,” said Steve Carlsberg. Wiping a sweaty palm on his shirt, he carefully selected a pie and scrutinized it, turning it over and over again. He turned to Cecil, bushy eyebrows drawn together in a frown.

“Carlos made them.”

“Carlos? It's not … radioactive, is it?”

“Why would they be radioactive?”

Steve set down his plate of probably substandard scones, whipped out a buzzing piece of electronic equipment and began to scan his pastry.

“What is that?”

“A Geiger counter. We need to talk, Cecil. You haven't answered any of my faxes. Or phone messages. Or letters. Or emails. Or interpretive dances.”

“Yes, the dance dedicated to city council malfeasance was inspired.”

“Thank you. What do you know about R’lyehVision?” he said, biting on his empanada.

“The new cable provider?”

“It's clearly a front organization! I believe it's part of a vast government conspiracy.” He spat out small bits of meat pie as he spoke.

Cecil brought out a handkerchief and wiped the front of his shirt. “Steve. Is there anything that you don't believe is a vast government conspiracy?”

“UFOs. They're real. And they're spectacular.”

“We've made repeated attempts to contact Mr. Derleth, their CEO. I don't know what else I can do.”

Steve Carlsberg wiped empanada crumbs from his face and pointed an accusing finger in more or less the direction of heaven. “Mark my words-!”

But at just that moment, there was a shout, and the men turned to see two women engaged in a violent hair-pulling match. Cecil rushed over, arriving just in time to pull Susan Wilman off Diane Craton before she clobbered the other woman with a rolled up version of the probably error-ridden meeting minutes.

“Joaquin!” screeched Susan as she struggled against Cecil.

One of Josie's angels was restraining Diane. “Marco!” she spat. “Maria Helena should pick Marco!”

“She definitely needs to make up her mind,” nodded Old Woman Josie. Her angel fluttered its papery wings, as if in response.

“But Joaquin's sort of a loser,” Cecil noted. “What's up with that pony tail?”

“You're an idiot, Cecil,” screamed Susan, breaking out of his grasp. “She should pick Joaquin. And your boy is still tubby!” she added, speaking to Diane.

Suddenly, Susan was clobbered on the head by a dead ostrich. She fell down unconscious. Everyone looked up to see hovering directly above them was the head of the school board, the mighty glow cloud, which thereupon wafted away in a huff.

Teddy Williams, who was a physician (as all bowling alley owners are required to be) checked Susan's pulse. “She'll be all right,” he said, thoughtfully adding a cheery thumbs up to her prognosis. “Though she may undergo spells of depersonalization.”

“I guess the glow cloud is an eye patch guy fan,” Cecil told Josie, who nodded sagely with the wisdom of those who collect S&H Green Stamps.



“In other news, the recent meeting of the Night Vale PTA was marred by random violence, as Susan Wilman and Diane Craton got into it again. Really, citizens, there are other ways to solve your differences than hair pulling and automatic weapons fire. The wounded have been taken away and hopefully will receive the rehabilitation they need to continue their pointless existences. The glow cloud moved to table many motions, by dropping tables down onto the participants making motions, thus causing some head trauma, including at least one concussion.

“More importantly, Carlos’s empanadas were an unrivaled triumph, receiving the highest praise from an angelic being who would only identify his or herself as ‘Erika.’ Speaking of Night Vale's most intriguing outsider, I have news.... I gave him a key to my apartment. It was sort of by accident because he needed my stove to make the empanadas, because he doesn't really have a kitchen down at the lab and they make coffee in an Erlenmeyer flask over a bunsen burner and it's really weird and stuff. But.... Now I'm wondering if this was too early in the relationship for such a big move? Have I overstepped? Will he take me for granted? I mean, it's just a key but, like, it's not just a key. You know?

“And now, traffic. The wheels on the bus go round and round, up and down, oh god, it’s a blowout, you’re going over the cliff. And now the bus explodes on impact, eventuating yet more needless death and devastation.”



“Cecil-”

“Carlos! The empanadas were a hit! Steve Carlsberg is never going to get away with his disappointing scones and hare-brained conspiracy theories ever again.”

“I've been trying to call you!”

Cecil strode purposefully (because really that’s the only way to stride) through the darkened corridors of the WTNV community radio station. “Yeah, cell phone reception is lousy around the almighty glow cloud. I've tried complaining about it, but he's always like, 'I'm the almighty glow cloud, all hail to me.' What a jerk.”

“Cecil, miho, where are you?” Carlos's voice sounded a note of urgency.

“I'm still at the station. I'm about to stride purposefully into the parking lot.”

“No! Cecil! There is danger! DANGER!

Cecil sighed deeply at Carlos’s employment of all caps communication. “Carlos, you haven't been talking to The Man in the Tan Jacket again, have you?” The ice machine in Carlos’s lab was broken, so he would have to run next door and ask Big Rico for ice. Cecil was nearing the station’s main doors, which were constructed of plate glass. He reached out a hand towards the handle just as a rock smashed against them, shattering the glass. Ducking back, he peered up out into the street, and saw a devastated wasteland, riddled with looting mobs and periodically lit up by artillery fire. “Uhhh,” he said.

“The city has broken into open warfare, Cecil!”

“But. I don't understand. I was out only half an hour ago.”

“Things escalated quickly.”

“Yeah. What are they fighting about?”

“Do they need a reason? This is Night Vale.”

“I suppose you're right.”

“But I believe things began with a rift regarding Maria Helena's chosen, er, object of affection on Corazon de Azul.”

“What?” Cecil leaned over towards the shattered door again and peered out to where opposing armies now clashed. To his surprise, he spotted colorful pennants reading, “Team Joaquin” and “Team Marco.”

“Well. They had that done quickly,” he mused. “The graphics are quite impressive. I suppose this is all a boon to local print shops.”

“Stay there! We'll be by to pick you up!”

We?

But Carlos had already hung up.



Cecil didn't have long to contemplate the disaster that had befallen his beloved town when he heard the lack of any kind of roar of Carlos's fuel-efficient hybrid sports coupe pulling up outside. Dodging bullets and the errant spitball, the scientist hopped out of his car and dashed for the station, clutching tightly to a package under his arm.

“My hero,” said Cecil, who decided to seize the opportunity and, threading a hand into Carlos's perfect hair, gave him a kiss.

Carlos blinked, and then looked back through the door at battle-torn Night Vale. “I guess that was fairly brave!” he agreed, backing Cecil against the wall to return the kiss, with interest, plus a substantial penalty.

“It was very brave,” agreed Cecil, who had gotten his hands underneath Carlos's lab coat.

“Are you hurt, miho?' murmured Carlos, tracing a small cut on Cecil's face where the shattered glass had cut him.

“Only a flesh wound,” scoffed Cecil, who was occupying himself undoing Carlos's shirt buttons, searching for the faint scar where he'd been hit by the projectile fired by the tiny people who lived under the pin retrieval area of lane 5 of the bowling alley. Instead he found something dangling from a chain Carlos's wore around his neck.

It was directly over Carlos's heart.

“What's this?” Cecil picked it up. “A key?”

The key.”

“My key?”

“That key. I- I didn't want to lose it.” Carlos's cheeks flushed.

Cecil hesitated a moment. And then he did the only sensible thing, and tore Carlos's shirt completely open and began kissing him, ardently, all up and down his chest.

“Right here?” whispered Carlos. “In the middle of a riot?”

Cecil's tongue had found the scar on Carlos's chest. “Right here. In the middle of a riot.”

Carlos grinned. He gripped his hands on Cecil's hair as Cecil kissed a line down his chest, and then over his belly.

Carlos moaned, arching his back as Cecil tugged at his belt.

The doors shattered in a mortar blast.

Carlos grabbed Cecil and dove away. They ended up in a tangle on the floor, Carlos's perfect hair full of bits of plaster. “That’s not exactly the way I would have chosen for the earth to move,” Cecil grumbled. He crawled over towards the empty space where the doorway used to stand and peered out.

There was a rag tag group of Night Vale citizen soldiers clustered outside, flying a prominent (and well designed) “Team Joaquin” banner. A man with a megaphone stepped forward. “Cecil Baldwin! We know you’re in there. We see your Gremlin in the parking lot!”

Cecil looked at Carlos, who shrugged. “What do you want?” he yelled back. “You know, I had a really hot date today!”

“Renounce your support of Marco!”

“No way! Joaquin’s a jerk.”

“And Marco has a really cool white horse,” Carlos whispered.

“Yeah! Marco’s got a horse!” Cecil shouted. “Suck that, Joaquinistas!”

“Maria Helena will never be happy with Marco. NEVER!”

“They sound particularly intransigent,” Carlos commented. “We should, perhaps, think of getting out of here, before they renew their attack?”

Cecil pouted. “We’re surrounded. By complete idiots!”

“Not a problem.” Carlos reached over and grabbed the package he had been carrying.

“Carlos, they have a cannon!” said Cecil. “Wow. I wonder where the heck they got that anyway?”

“You can rent them at Kinkos nowadays,” Carlos supplied.

“Oh, I was wondering. You know, print shops must be making a killing in this civil war. What are you doing, by the way?”

“Providing cover. Get ready to run!” Carlos opened the package. A swarm of flies emerged, buzzing ominously. Carlos pointed, and they suddenly fled across the parking lot. Carlos gripped Cecil’s hand just as the flies descended on the attacking army, surrounding the cannoneer as well as the idiot with the megaphone.

While the citizens yelled and batted ineffectively at the annoying flies, Cecil and Carlos dashed to Carlos’s hybrid sports coupe. As Carlos stepped on the accelerator, Cecil took the opportunity to lean out the window and yell, “Joaquin needs a haircut! From Telly the Barber!” as they sped out of the parking lot.

“What was up with the flies?” asked Cecil once they had gotten clear.

“They're evidently trained attack flies!” said Carlos. “I don’t recall buying them, but they do come in handy around here.”

“How did you figure that out?” asked Cecil, who was terribly impressed. Carlos was constantly reminding him he was smart as well as perfect. Though he did tend to chew his food a bit too loudly.

“I downloaded the instruction manual from his web site.”

Who's web site?”

“The Man in the Tan Jacket. Dot com. He registered the domain!”

Cecil stared at him. “The Man in the Tan Jacket has a web page?”

“Well, he forgot to get just the “maninthetanjacket” domain. That's now a porn site.”

“Mmm.”

“Anyway, I've been conducting some studies. I think I know what caused this conflict. Let me show you.”

They arrived at the lab quickly and fuel-efficiently.

Carlos touched his keycard on the lab door and buzzed in. He gestured towards his lab bench. On it sat Ozzy, contentedly licking his paw, his head now a nest of buzzing electrodes.

Cecil gasped. “Carlos, you're experimenting on my kitty cat?”

“Oh, he enjoys being a research subject, don't you, Ozzy?” asked Carlos. The kitten sent a feeding tentacle out to snag a moth which had been aimlessly fluttering around.

Cecil scowled and scratched Ozzy under his chin. The cat let out an unearthly howl of contentedness. “Well. What did you want to show me?” he asked.

Switching on an arcane apparatus that looked like a television set from the 1920s, if they had had television in the 1920s, Carlos pointed to a set of arcane lines scrawling themselves across the bottom of the monitor. “These are signals coming from the pleasure centers of Ozzy's central nervous system. Notice it creates a regular sine wave pattern.”

Cecil nodded. It all seemed very neat and science-y.

“Now, I'm going to show our subject a brief segment of Corazon de Azul. Observe the response.” Carlos opened a window on the monitor showing a scene of Maria Helena talking to Joaquin.

“Pony tail guy. He's such a jerk,” grumbled Cecil.

“Look at the response, Cecil.”

Cecil stared. The lines, which had been pleasing little rolling hills, were now jagged mountain peaks. That is, if mountains were really a thing. Ozzy stared at the screen, amber eyes wide as dinner plates. Cecil leaned closer.

Carlos switched off the window showing the novela. Ozzy went back to contentedly licking his paw, and the waves returned to cheerful rolling.

“The show is somehow activating the ventromedial hypothalamic area!” Carlos explained.

“English, Carlos?”

Corazon de Azul has an effect approximately equivalent to high grade methamphetamine.”

Cecil blinked. “You're saying Night Vale has become addicted to a soap opera?”

“It's not a soap opera. It's a telenovela.”

“Night Vale is addicted to a telenovela?”

“Yes!” Carlos switched off his equipment, smiling brilliantly, and giving Ozzy a little scratch between the feeding tentacles as he removed the electrodes from the cat's cranium.

“So … what do we do?”

“Individual citizens could simply turn off their sets. It would afford a life free of domination by the corporate media. I myself do not own a television....”

“Carlos!”

Carlos paused in mid-lecture.

“What's Plan B?”

Carlos frowned. He hopped up to sit on the lab bench, chin in hand. Cecil sidled up to sit beside him, pulling Ozzy into his lap.

Ozzy lashed out with he tentacles and zapped a fly.

Cecil looked at Carlos, a gleam in his violet eyes. “Hey. What if the station … forgot to play the show?”

Carlos snapped his fingers. Hopping off the lab bench, he grabbed his laptop and booted up Mosaic. He typed in the URL.

The laptop began to emit grunting and moaning noises.

“Oops, sorry, that's the porn site,” said Carlos, blushing and reaching for the mouse.

Cecil reached out and covered Carlos's hand. “Wait a minute?” They peered at the screen. They watched for a long moment, tilting their heads to the side.

“Tentacles … do that?” said Cecil.

“Er. This obviously requires further study,” said Carlos. Pausing briefly to bookmark the site, he quickly typed in the correct URL, and went to the contact page.

“I believe R'lyehVision needs to order a gross of flies,” said Cecil.



“Our long metropolitan area nightmare is over, listeners. This civil war that pitted brother against brother, uncle against second cousin twice removed, cats against dogs, microbiologists against runestone salesmen, the great SNAFU over Azul, has at last come to an end. As the citizens clean up the mess, cart away the bodies, and scrub down the evidence, I am moved to ask, what really is the point of these senseless fandom wars? Instead of fighting over small quibbles regarding the storyline, should we not instead be celebrating our shared love for this work of fiction, treasuring this thread of connectedness in an otherwise unforgiving and lonely universe. What point, listeners, in letting a frail tendril that might reach out to tie us together instead come between us?

“Though Joaquin is still a big jerk.

“And now, the weather....”



Intern Whitney stopped Cecil on his way out of the booth, handing over a large, flat envelope.

She had a rather vivid black eye. Cecil looked at her questioningly.

“Team Joaquin,” she muttered. “My roommate was Team Marco, and she hit me over the head with a flower pot.”

“I'm sorry,” said Cecil.

“But you know what's weird? We woke up this morning, and neither of us cared.”

“Yes?”

“Yeah. And when we tuned to the station for a new episode, there was nothing but flies buzzing around.”

“Huh. Well, I've heard reports that the cable provider, R'lyehVision, has decided to pack up and move on. Hopefully, they'll go over to Desert Bluffs.” He grinned, and Intern Whitney wandered off to find a slab of raw meat for her eye.

Cecil turned the envelope over and over. There was no return address. He opened one end, and a small, flat object fell out.

Cecil picked it up and turned it over and over.



He held the card to the reader

The the little green light went on, and there was a click.

The door opened.

“Cecil?” Carlos stepped out of the shadows, carrying an Erlenmeyer flask.

He was wearing an eye patch. “Oh, you got it!” he said.

“A key to the lab?” asked Cecil, looking around. Carlos nodded, and Cecil tucked the card into the pocket in his furry pants.

Carlos indicated a stool, and Cecil sat down. He noticed the overhead lights were off, and the only illumination was the lights from several bunsen burners.

“Is this a scientific version of a romantic evening?” asked Cecil

“Have some wine,” said Carlos, pouring the red liquid from the flask into a couple of beakers. “And I thought it was time. You know?” He tapped his chest. Right over where Cecil knew his key was hung on the chain. “Empanada?” he asked, handing over a tupperware container.

Cecil plucked out a meat pie. “You baked these here?”

“Amazing what you can do with a particle accelerator. Your kitchen isn't what I need, Cecil. I thought that was empirically obvious.”

“You heard the show?”

Carlos sighed and grabbed an empanada. “Always.” Flipping up the eyepatch, he pulled his laptop over and booted it up. “Anyway. I thought you might want to join me. For a little bit of, er, research.” Soft moans began to emit from the computer.

Cecil grinned. He reached up his beaker and clinked it with Carlos. He rose and, leaning over, kissed Carlos, who now tasted like sweet wine.

They continued kissing for a while. Cecil reached over and closed the laptop. The moans ceased. “I'm thinking single subject design,” he muttered.

Carlos arched an eyebrow.

“I'm very into science these days,” Cecil explained.

Carlos smiled. And pulled him closer.

Cecil occupied himself with undoing Carlos's shirt buttons. “You don't have a white horse, do you?”

“No.”

“Well.” He put his arms around Carlos. “Nobody's perfect.”


xxxxx


Notes: Corazon de Azul is a telenovela that tends to show up in my fictional universes. My head canon is that it has been produced in every language on every country on earth, except the USA. Themaninthetanjacket.com doesn't really exist, but if you look up nightvale.com, it leads to a porn site.
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