AUTHOR NOTE: This is one of my Welcome To Night Vale headcanons... pretty far fetched, perhaps, but I thought it'd make for a good AU. Eventual Cecilos, but it won't be getting smutty.
Cecil Palmer was only 19 years old when his mother noticed there was definitely something not right about her son. He'd graduated from high school with honors a year before, in 1997, but had refused any and all opportunities to attend the various universities that sent him offers in the mail. At first, Tracy wrote this off as her son wanting to be independent, refusing a higher education and claiming he was perfectly capable of learning things by himself. But when July of 1998 came around and Cecil couldn't hold down a job long enough to be able to live on his own, the single mother became concerned. She'd asked her son why he'd been fired from the various jobs, and each time he'd nonchalantly explain that his boss deemed him "distracted", "obsessive", or "delusional". One even went so far as to tell him he was "just plain odd". Tracy never pressed the issue. She never had time to, as Cecil would retreat to his room, and begin talking to himself, sometimes quite loudly. Her son had always had a habit of thinking out loud, but Ms. Palmer knew it was getting a bit more extreme.
Tracy wanted to hint at Cecil getting a job one evening, placing their conservative dinner of macaroni and cheese on the table. The truth was, she didn't make enough money to properly support two people. Working full-time at their neighborhood supermarket, she could really use Cecil's help. But she didn't get the chance to say anything before Cecil sat down and looked up at her, beaming.
"I have some exciting news, Mother!" Cecil announced cheerily as his mother took a seat across from him. He didn't wait for her to ask before gushing, "I've been promoted!"
Tracy looked up at her son, eyes narrowing. "Oh? At... at what job?"
Cecil couldn't stop beaming. "The radio station! I know what you're thinking. I've only been with the station for, well, less than a year. But, they listened to some of my recordings, considered my ideas, and they've given me a show! Wanna know what it's called?"
"'Welcome to Night Vale'," Cecil said in a deep voice, his face only serious for a few seconds before that blissful smile returned. "Can you believe it?! I get to run what's going to be the biggest... I'm the new voice of the town!"
It took Ms. Palmer a few moments to process her son's words. "...We live in Seattle," she finally said, searching Cecil's face for a sign that this was some silly joke.
Shaking his head, the enthusiastic teen chuckled at his mother. "Mom, don't be silly, now. You know we're in Night Vale, the nicest little desert town you could ever-"
"You were born and raised in Washington, Cecil!" Ms. Palmer was holding back tears, her heart sinking deeper into her chest as she shouted at her startled son.
"How could... How could you say that?" Cecil whispered, looking up at his mother with a scowl. "How could you say that?!"
At Cecil's increasingly angry tone, Tracy stood from the table and fled to her room where she could have a panic attack without worrying her already upset son.
When the pressure in her chest finally let up, she crawled into her bed and prayed Cecil would be normal the next day.
"Nowhere is safe. Not your house. Not your local supermarket. Not even your own mind. Welcome to Night Vale.
We have some strange news, listeners. You may have noticed, it's been raining in our dear desert city. Members of Night Vale's Inexplicable Desert Rainfall Research Team have sent in reports, which I am, unfortunately, prohibited from sharing with you, or even knowing about, myself."
Ms. Palmer tuned out, setting her son's tape recorder down as she dropped to a seat on Cecil's bed. She'd sent him to get groceries so she could search his room for what she'd hoped would contain some sign of sanity from her son. What she'd found, instead, were dozens of tapes containing nonsense about some surreal desert town that didn't exist.
One week later, Cecil Palmer had a scheduled appointment with a psychiatrist. This wasn't completely against his will, as he'd agreed to go to make his mother happy, and to prove that he was, he assured her, "perfectly sane".
"How long has he been doing this?" the psychiatrist, Mrs. Hayes, asked as she took off her headphones and set the cassette tape player on her desk.
"The first tape dates back to September of last year," Ms. Palmer provided, adding quickly when the other woman widened her eyes, "but they weren't as bad as the more recent ones." Tracy followed the psychiatrist's glance toward Cecil, sitting patiently in the waiting room, hands in his lap. "He's never been violent. He'd never hurt anyone. But...," she looked down.
"But you're sensing that he might?" Mrs. Hayes offered.
"No, no," Tracy said quickly. "No. I just... he can't hold down a job. And now, he thinks he already has one. I don't know what to do with him. I can't afford..." She began to cry.
Reaching across the desk, the psychiatrist placed a hand on Ms. Palmer's shaking shoulder. "I'm going to prescribe your son some medication," she said. "It can take a few weeks to do its job, or he may not respond to antipsychotics. We'll discuss that when and if we get there."
Cecil refused to take the medication at first, adamant that he didn't need it. Ms. Palmer finally tricked him into taking it, hiding it in his food for a week before insisting that he take it willingly.
Everything seemed fine for the first two weeks. Tracy never heard her son talking to himself in his room, and she began to believe it was all okay again.
Then, 4 days into the third week, Cecil's mother was awakened by a blood-curdling scream. She rushed into her son's room, flipping on the light only to be greeted with the sight of Cecil hunched over on the floor, cradling his side. Deep red blood was trickling down his hands and darkening his Seattle Mariners t-shirt.
"I... I thought," he strained to explain through clenched teeth. "I thought I was one of the 53 percent." He sucked in a pained breath as his mother dropped to his side, assessing the wound. "One of the ones without pain-sensing nerves."
"What were you thinking?!" Tracy shouted through distressed tears, glancing at a bloody kitchen knife by Cecil's legs. She reached for the phone on his bedside table.
"There was... a potentially fatal growth...," Cecil said. "Had to... cut it off."
Tracy held her son until the ambulance arrived, too shocked to say anything besides whispering, "It's gonna be fine. You're gonna be fine. It's okay."
"I'm glad to see he's doing alright," the hospital's psychiatrist said, standing beside a sleeping Cecil's bed.
Ms. Palmer looked up from where she sat in the chair next to her son. She nodded at the man. "It was a deep wound, but they say it will heal in time." She sounded exhausted, her worried eyes distant and dark.
"You said he was on an antipsychotic?" the psychiatrist asked.
"Hm? Oh. Yes. It was supposed to be working right by now, but..."
"Your son doesn't seem to respond to medication, Mrs. Palmer," the man said solemnly.
"Ms. Palmer," Tracy muttered. "It's Ms. Palmer. He's... he's all I have." She turned to look at her son, holding back tears as she whispered, "What else is there to do?"
-ONE MONTH LATER-
"Please, please don't leave me here, Mom!" Cecil was sobbing, reaching desperately for his mother's arm as the orderlies held him back. "Let me go," he shouted, twisting and turning out of their grip. "Mom!" He managed to free himself and ran toward his mother, who turned around and embraced him while he clung to her tightly.
"P-please don't leave me here," he whispered, yelping when more of the hospital staff came to grip his arms.
"I love you, Cecil," Ms. Palmer said in a broken whisper, unable to meet her son's eyes. "I'll visit you, I promise."
AUTHOR NOTE: The whole fic won't be this depressing, I promise. I apologize for any and all incorrectness regarding mental institutions. I'm doing research but there's a lot I just won't be able to know. So. Bear with me, if you will. Actually, any and all help, suggestions, and reviews would be appreciated.