A/N: This is my first WTNV fic, so I hope it's not too OOC. The first "broadcast" is based on a conversation my friend and I had, and is based off of a prompt fill. The Cecilos is strong in this one, so please no hate and no flames, although constructive criticism is welcome and reviews keep me writing and publishing more frequently. Also, this is self-Beta'd, so sorry about any grammatical or spelling errors. Enjoy!
I have just been notified by the Sheriff's Secret Police to inform listeners of the recent ban on granola. It's crunchy, evil presence is no longer welcome in Night Vale and is to be forgotten by all residents of our fair town. Anyone caught buying, consuming, or thinking about the thing we are all supposed to have forgotten will be taken by the Secret Police during the night and released into the arid sand wastes where they will be left to expire in the broiling desert sun. And now, the weather…
"The patient is still unresponsive to stimuli, Doctor," the pretty nurse reported to her superior.
"Thank you, Dana," Carlos responded absently, "Why don't you start on the next patient while I finish up here?"
"Sure thing, Doc," Dana replied cheerfully before exiting the hospital room.
Carlos released a weary sigh as he glanced up from his patient's chart to gaze at the figure lying prone on the bed before him. It had been six months, six months since his patient (no, not patient; Cecil) had been admitted to Night Vale General Hospital and two months since his brain waves had shown any response at all to outside stimuli.
He had been in Carlos' care almost the entire time, and he had felt instantly drawn to this pale, blond communications major with the intriguing tattoos of tentacles and various symbols that snaked up his slender arms and peeked above the collar of his white hospital gown. His face was almost surreal; high cheekbones and full lips, pale eyelashes that framed (he imagined) morning-blue eyes. But underneath this fascinating exterior lay a story that was more tragic than most: mugged in an alleyway on the way back to his apartment after a late night on-air on the college's local public broadcast radio show and left to die on the coldest night of the year, Cecil had contracted hypothermia (which had actually caused more damage than the mugger's fists) and had just never regained consciousness. The damage to his RAS had been severe enough that many doubted whether Cecil would ever awaken, but Carlos hoped that since his cerebral cortex was unharmed then something might still get through. So he talked.
He held long, one-sided conversations where he told the bed-ridden figure about his Aunt Josie who was convinced that angels inhabited her house and kept countless figurines and pictures of them throughout her home. He told him about this great pizzeria from back home called Big Rico's that he would go to at least once a week and how it was a crime that more people didn't eat there. He spoke of his cat, Koshekh, that appeared to levitate whenever he reclined on the glass coffee table. He told Cecil about the good memories, and the not-so-good ones, like the time he almost died of dehydration when he got lost on the bluffs of the Arizona desert after getting separated from his friends on a group hiking trip. He told him trivial things like when he got his hair trimmed at little hole-in-the-wall place called Telly's Barbershop, and how the clouds looked like they were glowing when the sun came out after a rainstorm when he went out for his lunch break.
"Please, give me some kind of sign that you can hear me. Anything," Carlos pleaded with his patient after four months of silence. As he spoke, he gingerly laid his hand on the pale, needle-marked one that sat, still and cool to the touch, on the hospital bed. At the contact, Cecil's brainwaves spiked, a miniscule change that lasted no more than a millisecond and caused Carlos' heart to leap along with it. He glanced up hopefully, his eyes darting between the monitor and his patient's face. "Come on, I know you can hear me!" he exclaimed, searching Cecil's still countenance fruitlessly before feeling his spirits sink at the lack of response. The other doctors and so-called experts disregarded it as a random blip, a machinery malfunction perhaps, but Carlos knew better; he knew that it was Cecil signaling to him from somewhere in the depths of his damaged mind, and his resolve to heal his singular patient only strengthened.
One day, as he sits by Cecil's bed with his tie loosened and the sleeves of his dress shirt rolled up after a particularly long and grueling shift, he muses aloud, "I wonder what goes on in that brain of yours. I wonder if you dream…"
Attention, listeners. Just a friendly reminder that the semi-annual blood sacrifice is to be held this Saturday; don't forget to bring your ceremonial knives and your appetite for the BBQ afterward. The Mysterious Hooded Figures who reside in the dog park will be making a guest appearance, taking time from their busy schedules of hovering menacingly and occasionally luring unsuspecting passersbys into the dog park, never to be seen or heard from again and who are subsequently erased from public memory, to join our little town gathering. The City Council will also be there, and will be holding a press conference to discuss the threat of the man in the tan jacket whose face nobody seems to be able to describe or remember. However,raised hands will be disregarded and questions will instead be taken randomly by peering into the souls of all present (presuming you still possess one and haven't used it to pay your library fines) and reading their innermost secrets and fears. In related news, Hiram McDaniels (recently on parole) is going to act as the entertainment and put on a show as a one-dragon acapella and will be performing the Night Vale Anthem, as all other songs have been banned in Night Vale. Remember, attendance of the semi-annual blood sacrifice is mandatory and anyone who does not attend will be taken by the Secret Police and escorted to the not-abandoned, abandoned mineshaft where, due to budget cuts, the HBO has been cancelled; however, free Wi-Fi will still be provided. See you there!
One day, Carlos enters Cecil's room to find a woman with fine lines surrounding her eyes that bespoke of long nights of sleeplessness and a mouth that looked as if it had not smiled in a long time. Her eyes were a faded-denim blue and her once-blond hair was now streaked with strands of silver and her gaze was sorrowful as she glanced from Cecil's bedside at the newly-arrived doctor.
"Oh, I-I'm very sorry to have disturbed you, I can come back later—" Carlos stutters, surprised at the appearance of an unexpected visitor.
"No, it's fine," the woman replies, "I'm just visiting. I'm Nadia, Cecil's mother. Are you his doctor?" she inquires kindly.
"Yes, I am Mr. Baldwin's attending physician," he responds formally, using his best doctor-voice. "I can leave and come back later if you want—"
"No," she interjected as Carlos began to back out of the room, "Really, it's fine. Actually," she continued, "I just wanted to speak with you." She paused for a moment, as if unsure of her next words, before taking a breath and plunging in, "I've decided to pull the plug," she states with a surprising amount of bluntness that leaves Carlos speechless. "This isn't living," she continued as tears glistened in her eyes, "I've spoken with multiple specialists and have resigned myself to the fact that my son will never wake up. I'm merely doing what's best."
All of the arguments that had crowded to the forefront of Carlos' mind suddenly died on his lips as he saw the look of finality on Nadia's face that brooked no argument. "We'll do it tomorrow," she continued, voice cracking. All Carlos could do was stare dumbly as she gave her son one last cool kiss on the forehead, straightening with tears threatening to overflow, as if there wasn't enough room to contain all of that grief, and turned, striding quickly from the room.
That night, Carlos stayed by Cecil's bedside, talking constantly, alternatively recounting fond anecdotes and pleading with Cecil to wake up, as if eight months of perpetual sleep would suddenly end if he spoke just the right words. But his pleas fell on (presumably) deaf ears, and Cecil showed no more sign of opening his eyes than he had when he had been wheeled into the emergency room on that first night. Carlos didn't move all night, removing himself from the outside world as if it didn't exist and he and Cecil were the only two beings in the universe. However, no amount of bargaining or praying or ranting could halt the steady march of time, and eventually, the moment came for Cecil to be taken off of life support.
The nurses listed the machines as they turned them off, dispassionate as they effectively killed the one person whom Carlos had come to rely on and cherish so completely, though he'd never even heard his voice. He ran a hand through his already mussed and ruffled hair and watched, numb, as the heart monitor slowed, the insufficient organ struggling on valiantly for a few moments before stopping completely, The constant beep that Carlos had lived with for months, that had been the symbol of all his hopes and the one thing that lingered with him even when he wasn't with Cecil, died (dead, just like Him, thought Carlos bitterly) into a long, high-pitched note that signaled, not only the passing of a great, imaginative mind, but also the death of a piece of the loyal doctor. Carlos heard the nurses call time-of-death, as if from underwater, and the colors seemed to bleed from the world and the edges blurred and Carlos felt as if he were drowning in the muted stimulus of a world made dull by the absence of the one person who mattered.
Alternate Ending (because I'm not heartless enough to leave it at that; you're welcome):
Carlos must have drifted off during the night, waking in a state of confusion. At first, he thought that it was just the anticipation of what was to come and the knowledge that Cecil was to die in the morning. But slowly, his groggy brain registered the sensation of a gentle hand carding through his hair. A surprisingly deep voice came from somewhere above his head, moving through the darkness like the first rich sip of coffee in the morning, "I had a dream about you."
A/N: Now, go and review, my pretties!