Your Man-Card has been revoked. You aren't a real man. You have short tentacles and can't survive out of water. Here's your Cuttlefish-Card.
I am your host, Q.
Welcome to Night Vale.
Hello, listeners… I guess…
It's been… um… about a month? now, that James… beautiful, perfect James… left Night Vale. And I'm doing fine, really, no matter what Intern Eve says. It's just… hard, you know? I miss him… I really miss him…
In other news, the City Council wants me to let you guys know that Raoul Silva has been apprehended and is awaiting trial by way of howling eagles, as usual. So far it looks like he'll be found guilty on accounts of all charges, which include but are not limited to, treason, grand larceny, murder, disrupting the time-stream, unlawful imprisonment of sixteen computers, and poached egg assault. The Sheriff's confident that he'll be sentenced to death and his rotten soul incarcerated in the abandoned coal mine for centuries to come.
The Apache Tracker was buried with full Native American honours, despite the fact he was not actually Native American and seemed to be Slavic in origin and therefore was considered a cartoonish racist asshole by all of us here in Night Vale, but he will be missed.
The computers have been apprehended and sent to technological prison, where our black and white televisions, Nokia 360's, and Tamagotchi's also currently reside.
The Night Vale Post Office has once again been shut down, but agents from a vague yet menacing government agency have since taken over the ownership of the derelict building and appear to be rebuilding it? So… There's that, at least…
Ever since James left, dear listeners, I've gotten kind of isolated. A little… hermit-like lately. I'm proud of the great work James is doing, don't get me wrong, but I still miss him just so much. I have felt disconnected lately. My being has been split between the here and the now, and the there and the now. My relationship with James currently exists within the idea of distance, within the concept of space, rather than in any specific place. I've gotten a lot of calls, emails, telegrams, and sympathetic glances the past couple of weeks, from people who are wondering if he'll ever return from the Other World that is called 'England'. And here I remind you that he had to leave because he saved our city from treacherous dark forces. I remind you he is a hero… I remind you that my boyfriend is a hero…
Here's a word from out sponsors, I suppose.
Remember the difference! Stalagmites MIGHT portend famine and hordes, while stalactites DEFINITELY portend floods and birds. National Geographic.
I don't believe it. It's… I can't-
Intern Eve just ran in during our brief break and told me that I had a visitor. I didn't believe her at first, because who would visit me? You all know that I'm on air now, of course you do, you're out there in our beautiful little town listening to my sonorous deep voice...
But I'm getting off topic.
I told Eve that I couldn't talk to any visitor now because, well, I'm on air, but she just shook her head, mouth gasping wordlessly as she appeared to be in shock, before pointing out into the studio booth and fainting.
I turned, dear listeners, to face the window that divides that booth from my own, and-
And there he stood.
Six foot of glorious, beautiful, perfect blonde hair and blue eyes and white teeth and-
James the spy, James the not-scientist, James the- my boyfriend!
"Hello Q" He said, simply, as if he couldn't see how my eyes widened or my pulse raced or my heart almost burst out of my chest.
"So, you're not dead then?" I asked, just as calmly.
"Oh, how I've missed you" He replied, taking three long strides into my recording studio, heedless of the 'On Air' sign outside the door.
"I brought you a souvenir" He said, "I didn't have time to finish that surprise I was working on, but hopefully this is better".
And then, dear listeners, he showed me a-
Before I continue, and just to make sure that no Sheriff's Secret Police, City Council members, or agents from a vague yet menacing organisation are listening… I give you now, to the weather!
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee when thou bringest coffee in bed,
Or suggest that we go to brunch instead.
I eat French toast but take bites of thine eggs
Like, oh dude, I love thee with so much grace,
And praise, And poise and style and pizazz.
Each day's most quiet need and all that jazz.
Love thee just as much as I love the cave.
That cave in our yard from which voices sound,
Demanding all our smiles, tears, and breath.
When the voices speak, time goes all unwound.
Merciful cave, we grovel, offer flesh.
We will enter the cave, crawl underground.
I shall but love thee better after death.
Now so, where was I?
Oh yes! The souvenir! My goodness, listeners, you won't believe what marvellous present James brought me back from his travels:
Yes, that's right, you heard me: An actual, real life, fully functioning pen! The same writing utensil that the City Council banned long ago, along with margarita glasses and bar code scanners.
"I'm guessing this is not official" I said, staring at it.
"Not even remotely" He said.
"So much for my promising career as a radio host" I said, finally reaching out to take it from him.
I cannot begin to even articulate how wonderful it was to hold a pen in my own two hands. I felt gloriously happy, elated, and positively stupid with joy, much in the same way I felt when I realised that James the spy was standing in front of me, there in my own booth, back in Night Vale once more.
"I told you I'd return" He said.
"You did" I said.
"How's the mortgage and five cats?"
"Still there. How's England?"
"Still there" He repeated, smiling with those beautiful white teeth of his that cause dimples in his cheeks and lines around his eyes.
"Are you here to stay?" I asked, somewhat intrepidly.
"Will you have me?" He asked, definitely intrepidly.
"Then yes, Q" James said, "I'm here to stay".
What followed was surely something not allowed to be described on air, but know this, dear listeners: James the ex-spy has returned, and he's never leaving again!
He's tried to retire in the past, apparently, but it never stuck because he always got bored. But here in Night Vale, boredom is impossible. No. Really. It is. The Sheriff's Secret Police specifically forbid it. Any and all persons who feel the rich tendrils of boredom just outside of their grasp should report to city hall for reconfiguration immediately. I think they spray something in the air…
And so, with aching cheeks from my constant smiling, with my cardigan and tie askew, and with Intern Eve making funny faces at me in the background, I bring you to today's traffic.
Missed connections. I saw you in passing once and forgot you soon after. You never even saw me. We went on to live long, full lives. Missed connections. You were a branch. I was a branch on the next tree over. We could never touch. But we aren't sentient, so we didn't care. Missed connections. You just missed your bus. Guess you won't make that connection.
Oh listeners, I cannot even express how happy I am right now. James is back in my life, and this time, it's for good! He's no longer pretending to be a scientist, and he left all his guns back in England, so I think he really means it! He just exited the studio during our last break, and I gave him the keys to my flat for him to move into. I don't know if he knows that I want him to move in permanently, or if he thinks it's just until he can start his new life here, but as long as he's here, I'm happy.
But when he left, he was mumbling about "making a home together" so I think he understood me.
God I love him.
My love for Night Vale and my love for James are the same love, I think. It is the love of someone who has given their life completely to something beyond themselves. I once described Night Vale as a friendly desert community, where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep. And it still is. I know nowhere friendlier. I know nowhere hotter. The moon is still beautiful. Mysterious lights still pass overhead, and James… I can't wait for every single night I get to pretend to sleep next to him.
I don't know how our story will end, dear listeners, or, in fact, if it'll ever end! But I'm happy where we are right now. With a mortgage and five cats and this pen and my inventions and maybe… maybe something more than that. Something more… official than boyfriends. If James plans to stay here with me forever then why not? I'm not talking about a traditional marriage, of course, since the Sheriff's Secret Police outlawed that many many years ago, but if James wants to do something more permanent then who am I to stop him?
He's the only one I want, after all, so I'd gladly marry him with Paper Rings.
Goodnight, Night Vale, Goodnight