Hello. This is my first Welcome to Night Vale fic, and if you know anything about my writing, you'll know that this won't end well for the characters. Sorry! This isn't beta-ed, so all mistakes are mine.
Things hadn't been the same since… well, you know. Strexcorp. It had started out pretty benign. Cecil still went to work everyday. He still hand picked the music for the weather segment. Hell, he still got to talk about Carlos. But something wasn't the same.
Maybe it was that he could actually see, and talk to the new Station Management. In English, no less! There wasn't much screeching and soul crushing misery emanating from their office anymore, but something did sometimes smell like burning rubber and decomposing flesh. Cecil and the interns avoided that hallway on those days.
Koscheck, the station pet… well, something happened to him too. For one thing, he was on the ground now. Also, he wasn't the same cat. He made some sort of horrifying… mewling noise instead of his normal metal on metal screech. Cecil didn't know what to make of it. But he missed the old Koscheck, and wished him well, wherever he was.
On his latest date with Carlos, the man had seemed subdued. He hardly showed his perfect teeth at all. He just looked at Cecil with sad eyes and newly regulated short hair cut and sighed a lot.
"Oh Cecil," he would say, looking on the verge of tears. "What have they done to you?" That part confused Cecil the most. He knew something felt… off. But he still looked the same, right? He couldn't really be sure, because everyone knows that mirrors can't be trusted.
The worst part though, was the Re-Education. He knew that it was law now that all publicly mandated employees must go to Re-Education biweekly. But it made him nervous that he couldn't remember much about what happened. Back in the old days, he used to have to go to Re-Education a lot, but that was for the greater good of the public, and was mandated by the Sheriff's Secret Police. Besides, he remembered most of those times, which were filled with a lot of electricity and flashing colored lights. Not so anymore.
Today was Wednesday. The second Wednesday of the month. There was a Station Management official standing behind him where he spoke into the microphone. He had one hand menacingly… comfortingly… on his shoulder.
Hello listeners, Cecil said with a thready voice. Today's broadcast will have to be cut short. There is a man from Station Management behind me telling me that today is another scheduled Re-Education. He is smiling, and nodding enthusiastically. He says that he'll have an intern cover for me. Imagine! An intern doing my job! The horror! The sacrilege! The inhumanity! Now, please listeners, I beg you not to be enraged on my behalf. I will be back tomorrow, and the process I am about to undergo is completely… safe. At least, that's what the man behind me is saying. I don't remember much from my past sessions, so I will have to take his completely… trustworthy… word for it. Good night, Night Vale, good-
The broadcast, Carlos tiredly noted, sharply cut off there with a grunt. This happened every other Wednesday. Cecil always said the same exact thing, and seemed to have no knowledge of doing so. Carlos feared for Cecil. He feared for Night Vale. And he was desperately afraid of the corporation that called itself Strex.
Cecil came to in a white room. He was tied to a chair. Typical Re-Education. Those Strex employees sure had a knack for dramatics! Nobody was in the room with him, and there were no doors or windows. How did he get here? Last time he checked, he wasn't one of the three percent of Night Vale civilians who could teleport.
There was a humming noise, coming from the wall to the right of him. He had to crane his neck uncomfortably to see what the source of the noise was. It was a strange portal, much like the one he had seen during that fierce sandstorm many months ago. He had a really bad feeling about this. His pulse began to race, but he didn't really know why. It was as if his body remembered something horrible, but his mind didn't.
Three men stepped through. Two were Strex employees. One had a chair much like the one he was strapped to. The other was dragging a screaming man through by his hair.
"Please, please!" the man screamed over and over. "Not again! I promise, I'll be good! Please let me stay!" Cecil wanted to cover his ears, but his arms were firmly strapped to the arms of the chairs. The other man was wrestled into the chair and strapped directly in front of Cecil, so they were facing each other. Who was this screaming man? Why was he screaming? And why did he seem so familiar?
The two Strex employees stepped back, their work done. They stepped through the portal, leaving the two men alone. The man in front of him had gone silent, but was still shaking in his chair. This man… Cecil squinted his eyes and tried to think. Whenever his thoughts seemed to be close to reaching a conclusion, a buzzing noise hummed in his ears and he lost the thought. It wasn't until the man looked up at him, so desperate and afraid, that Cecil remembered.
"Kevin?" That horrifying radio broadcaster from Desert Bluffs!
"Oh my God, Cecil," the man cried, straining to reach him. "You have to get out of here, we have to get out of here!" Kevin didn't look like he was in too good of shape. For one, he wasn't sporting his usual manic smile. One of his eyes was purple, and the other was black. There was blood creeping sluggishly from his nose, and his voice, his voice… it wasn't the same. It wasn't a high, irritatingly cheerful chirp. It was lower, more sonorous, more… mysterious.
"You have my voice," Cecil said, confused and scared, scared, scared. "Why do you have my voice? Who are you?"
"Cecil, I'm you! I'm Kevin, your doppelganger!" His dark hair was turning silver, like Cecil's, and his other eye was turning purple.
"Why don't you ever remember?" Kevin screamed with his voice. He turned towards the wall with the portal. "Is this your idea of fun? Making me remember and not him?" A third eye, identical to the one Cecil had, was emerging from an ugly burn that Kevin had on his forehead. It opened sluggishly, and Cecil felt sick.
"What happens in this room?" Cecil said quietly to Kevin, to himself.
"Reformation," he said, eyes wild with panic.
"Re-Education," a man corrected as he stepped through the portal. He was dressed in a gray, pinstriped suit and a yellow tie. His grin was disingenuous, and his eyes were gleaming with malevolent intent. He surveyed his prisoners with a keen eye. "You two make a marvelous set," he said with a grin. "I have the voice of Night Vale, and the voice of Desert Bluffs, right here in my presence! What an honor, what a joy!" Cecil had an ugly feeling in the pit of his stomach. Kevin just sagged in his bonds, looking defeated.
"Please, please let me stay. I don't want to go back," he sobbed.
"Who are you," Cecil asked, curious and confused.
"Why, I'm your boss!" the man said with a fake pout of hurt. "CEO of Strexcorp. And let me tell you, getting you both in the palm of my hand was not an easy feat. I thought you were definitely going to figure it out in the Sandstorm mishap. But, you didn't. And all is well! Everything's fine!" He drew out the 'n' in fine for much longer than necessary. "But, I don't know why I'm telling you all of this. Again. You'll forget by the time this is over anyways!" His chipper voice made everything somehow worse, and grated on Cecil's nerves. "Well, you know the drill," he said, turning towards Kevin.
"No, no…" he moaned, but the man paid him no mind. He pulled out a syringe from the inside pocket of his suit and shook the black contents gleefully. Kevin's whole body jerked as the needle punctured his neck, and half of the contents entered his bloodstream. Cecil noted with a sick realization that the other half was for him.
He watched with horror as Kevin convulsed before him, powerless to stop the transformation. Kevin's silver hair, so much like his own, turned an inky black, and the third eye sunk back into his head and was covered with a mound of scar tissue. Kevin screamed, and Cecil winced as his trademark sonorous voice went up an octave and returned to the irritating chirp Cecil knew Kevin to have. His mouth, open and panting, pulled back into an involuntary grin and stayed there.
The man turned to Cecil and smiled. "Your turn," he said softly.
"Oh Cecil, what have they done to you?"
Cecil choked back a sob at the echo of his boyfriend's sad, defeated words, and suddenly understood. The last thing he saw before he passed out was Kevin's pain filled purple eyes, slowly bleeding to black.
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