Genre: Man from UNCLE
Word count: 2056
Prompt: Please see notes at the end of the story
The wind blowing in from the car window was neither cool nor refreshing. Illya wasn’t exactly sure where they were in their trek through the southwest desert, but Napoleon hummed softly, so Illya wasn’t concerned.
The nice thing about these sedans and his size is that he was nearly able to stretch out across the bench seat in the back. Napoleon always ended up with a crick in his neck or a stiff back.
He continued to doze, knowing that Napoleon would immediately offer to let him drive the moment he could. While Napoleon was a good driver, he preferred not to.
There was something on the radio, a voice, melodious and soothing. “I’m Cecil Gershwin Palmer and welcome to Night Vale. Remember when your children are out playing to watch for the color of the helicopters. If they black, they are from the world government and children should avoid looking directly at them. If they are blue, they are from the local government and probably won’t steal more than one of your children. If they are painted with a bird of prey, run home, shutter your window and do not come out until the carnation has been placed on your doorstep. And remember, Gatorade is basically soda, so give your children plenty of healthy Night Vale water to drink. It helps you forget.”
“What?” Illya sat up and Napoleon caught his eyes in the rearview mirror.
“Something else, isn’t it? There’s also a floating cat in the men’s room of the radio station and an airplane that vanished, then reappeared from a few moments in the middle of the gym. The conjecture is that it was a ploy by Desert Bluffs, the school’s rival, to win a basketball game.” Napoleon turned up the sound.
“If you see an angel, ignore them. They are known to the City Council on a strict need to know basis. The NRA is distributing bumper stickers, so get yours today. Remember, guns don’t kill people. People are invincible,” Palmer crooned on.
“This is a joke?”
“It would have to be. There’s no rhyme or reason behind anything this guy says. And the weather report are nonsensical songs.”
“Sounds just like the perfect place for THRUSH.”
“I was thinking the same thing.” Napoleon stifled a yawn. “From what I gather, this will go directly past the town. You feel like driving for a bit?”
Illya hid his smile. “Sure. Pull over and we’ll swap places.”
The car slowed and the wheels crunched as Napoleon navigated the car off the road. Instead of climbing out, he merely slid over. Illya stepped out into the cool night air and took a deep breath. There was an odd scent to the air, then he shaded his eyes. “Napoleon, are you seeing this?”
Napoleon opened the passenger door and hoisted himself up. “What a light show! I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“I’m going to bet that’s right over where we are headed.”
“Just what does that handsome man with the perfect hair want in our town?” the announcer asked as they drove down the deserted main street. “And what of his friend with blue eyes to match our waterfront, if we had a waterfront.”
“How are they doing that?”
“No idea, but there do seem to be cameras mounted on every building and light pole. As we are the only vehicle moving, it would be fairly easy to focus on us.”
“This breaking news, there appears to be a cavern below Alley Five of the Desert Flower Bowling Alley. The angels are advising the public to stay away. And remember radiation is good for you!”
“A cavern? That sounds like it has potential. How are you set for rock climbing?” Napoleon pulled out a map from the glovebox.
“A good UNCLE agent is prepared for anything.” Illya’s smile was smug.
“Well, I’ll be. How long would you say this place has been here?”
“No idea. The sign I saw coming into town had both the population and year established hacked away. Judging by the buildings, though, I’d say at least twenty years, although I might be off. The desert can be hard on them. Why do you ask?”
“Night Vale isn’t on the map. In fact, there’s nothing anywhere around here.”
“Might be unincorporated. I’ve seen that happen before.”
“But for twenty years? How are we going to find the bowling alley?”
“This is the main street, it’s probably here somewhere. So far I’ve seen a Ralph’s and a Rico Pizza.”
“Let’s try where all those lights are. If nothing else, possibly we can find someone to ask.”
Illya slowed as they approached the building. There were several people wearing full protective suits and holding Geiger counters standing outside the bowling alley.
“Remember that radiation is just another way of God telling you he loves you, just like the Angels.”
Illya cocked an eyebrow and parked the car. That seemed to draw significant interest.
“You mustn’t park there. It’s a parking place, but only for Huntokar.”
“Huntokar?” Napoleon asked and Illya shrugged his shoulders.
“A deer-headed deity to which we owe alliance.”
Illya climbed out of the car and there was a gasp. “Then where would you advise me to park?”
“It’s the man with the waterfront eyes, if we had a waterfront.” A robe-wearing stranger approached. He was wearing a halo-like head dress fashioned from aluminum foil. He looked at Napoleon. “And the beautiful man with the perfect hair.” He dropped to his knees before Napoleon.
Napoleon grinned at Illya and gave him a cocky head shake. “We need to see the cavern under Alley Five,” Napoleon said with a firmness that left no room for argument.
“Of course. Your word is our bible. Your breath is our salt. May I inquiring as to how someone with such perfect hair and a blinding smile came to know about that?”
“We heard it on the radio station,” Illya said, just a bit annoyed at the fawning over Napoleon was receiving. He slammed the car trunk closed and shouldered a length of hemp rope.
“We have no radio station. All hail our radio station,” the angel ordered. All the strangers made an odd gesture with their hands as if chasing away gnats.
“Follow me.” The angel moved quickly, almost too quickly until Napoleon realize the person was wearing skates.
They followed the angel inside and to the edge of the opening beneath the structure.
“What do you think?” Napoleon asked as he peered over into the dark.
“Back east, I’d say it would be a sink hole, but here probably a series of old mining tunnels. The area is probably riddled with them.” Illya dropped the rope and looked around for a suitable anchor point.
“When did this happen?”
“This evening. Old Man Bestward threw a gutter ball, his eighth, and it appeared.”
Illya tied off the rope and reached for a flashlight. “Where don’t you stay up here and I will have a little look around?”
“You’ll call home if you find anything?”
“And keep all the fun for myself? Perish the thought!” Illya pulled on a climbing harness and clipped himself off. “You make sure you and your perfect hair behave yourselves.”
Illya eased himself over the edge of the hole. He would have preferred to rappel, but he wasn’t sure how safe things were. Shining the flashlight around, it was like throwing a thimbleful of water onto a fire. The beam did very little to penetrate the black.
He came to a ledge and settled onto it. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his communicator. “Open Channel D. Napoleon?” He blinked as a sudden wash of dizziness overtook him.
The communicator beeped and Napoleon ignored the people gathering around him as he opened the channel. “I’m here. What do you see?”
“There’s nothing… um… I think… Napoleon?”
“Yes, Illya?” He was concerned by the sudden confusion in Illya’s voice. “Illya?” He shook the pen. “Mr. Kuryakin, report!” Nothing but static greeted him.
One of the radiation-suit wearers offered him a pen from the Night Vale Car Wash. Wash your cares and your car away, it cheerfully proclaimed.
“Thank you, but…” Napoleon suddenly staggered a step and blinked his eyes as a wave of nausea washed over him. Hands were suddenly helping him to sit as he fought the urge to vomit. “Illya!” he tried again, weakly.
The sound of his partner’s voice nearby helped rouse him and he shook his head hard. There were pinpoint sparks of light and he dry washed his face. “Illya?”
He looked and Illya was squatting in front of him. There was a slight glaze to his eyes. “I’m here?”
“But how?” Napoleon pointed to the hole, which was suddenly sporting orange danger cones and no littering signs. “You were there.”
“There’s nothing there, Napoleon. Just a small town and they want to be left alone and for us to not through our garbage down the hole as they have their own littering problem and don’t need ours.”
“Um, okay… then we should leave.” Napoleon felt as though he was in a fog. “We should leave.”
“Yes.” Illya straightened and looked towards where they had parked.
Everything seemed weird and disjointed, but Napoleon stood and walked past a gathering throng of people. “They just want us to leave them alone and not to throw trash over the edge.”
“We know,” the angel pointed to the signs. “Nothing to see here.”
A stab of light hit him directly in the eyes and Napoleon groaned. . He was slumped over on the front seat of the car. He sat up and shaded his eyes. The landscape was barren and unfamiliar. There was a matching groan from the back seat
“When last seen.” Illya rubbed his eyes as he propped himself up on his elbows. “What was I drinking last night? The last time I felt this bad, I was celebrating something in Paris. I hate champagne hangovers.”
There was something nagging his brain, something odd and yet familiar. “Where are we?”
“You’re asking me? You were driving.” Illya sat up and looked around. “Um, it looks like the desert.”
“Thanks for that. I never would have figured that out.”
There was a blast of static from the radio and Napoleon frowned. Something was right there, so close he could almost touch it and yet too far to grasp. “Weren’t we doing something?”
“I was dreaming about rock climbing in a bowling alley.”
“I was dreaming about a bowling alley, too.” Napoleon glanced at the gas tank, but it registered full. “Guess I must have gotten tired and pulled over.”
“Why didn’t you wake me? I would have driven.”
Napoleon held his breath, but the car started without a hitch. “I know how you get.” Napoleon eased the car back onto the road and headed off in the direction it pointed. “I can’t … I dreamt about a floating cat, too.”
“And angels that you couldn’t trust,” Illya added. “I can’t wait for Dr. Falkes to make heads or tails of this.
They drove into the desert, oblivious of a sticker attached to the bumper - Remember, guns don’t kill people. People are invincible.
This was very loosely based upon the podcasts – Welcome to Night Vale
From Wikipedia –
Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast presented as a radio show for the fictional town of Night Vale, reporting on the strange events that occur within it. The series was created in 2012 by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. Published by Night Vale Presents since March 15, 2015, the podcast was previously published by Commonplace Books. Cecil Gershwin Palmer—the host, main character, and narrator—is voiced by Cecil Baldwin, while secondary characters are sometimes voiced by guest stars—such as Dylan Marron, who voices Carlos. The podcast typically airs on the first and fifteenth of every month, and consists of "news, announcements and advertisements" from the desert town, located "somewhere in the Southwestern United States." In an interview with NPR, Joseph Fink said that he "came up with this idea of a town in that desert where all conspiracy theories were real, and we would just go from there with that understood."
The first episode is here: https://www.youtube.com/user/WelcometoNightVale