Cecil is Night Vale, but Night Vale is not Cecil.
The thing to remember is that this is a love story.
Carlos knows Cecil means everything he says, “His hair is perfect, and we all hate and despair and love that perfect hair in equal measure.”
And the town, which does not like strangers, hates Carlos.
Old woman Josie gives Carlos a a frayed braided scrap of plastic, presses it into his hand, and tells him to be afraid. Warns him not to get to close to the citizens, they don't like outsiders.
Carlos brushes her off, but keeps the bracelet all the same.
Cecil takes Carlos to the Moonbeam All Night Dinner, orders for them a Galaxy hamburger with fries each, and coy, orders a single milkshake.
Carlos trying hard not to be charmed, grabs two straws.
See, the thing to remember is that this is supposed to be a love story. The kind of sweeping romance that's been re-enacted a thousand times.
Cecil loves his town, the best the world over, but oh, he gets bored sometimes, even in a place such as Night Vale. So if Cecil wants for something, Night Vale would move canyons and breath mountains into existence let to have him have his wish.
Carlos remembers he had a team once. He can't tell if they really were ever here with him, but he thinks, maybe. He thinks he had friends once, he's pretty sure he had a boyfriend, had colleagues, the known location of other towns and highway exits.
And Carlos half remembers the thrill, scientist.
He's pretty sure anyways, if only because he can't remember.
It's later and Cecil has taken Carlos to the place where the high school students come to practice heavy arms training and make out. The grassy desert knoll from which to watch the lights that dance over Night Vale.
Carlos stays only in the spirit of scientific inquiry.
Carlos goes to a grocer, and no one serves him. Every one watches him, baleful eyes on him, unable to understand his presence.
Instead of his change he gets asked, "why are you here? why do you question these things,” it follows him into the street— the townspeople hiss at him.
When he uses the ATM he's rejected: why. are. you. here. It takes his card and doesn't give it back. He feels like he's losing more and more of the things that used to keep him tethered to the world beyond
Carlos, when he invites Cecil in, is sitting in the living room buzzing with the prospect of each other, like a dozen times before. Until what ever sign Carlos gives that Cecil draws his hands across the length of them and pulls Carlos close. And they're gone gone gone.
The terrible noises of hitching breath and flesh scraping flesh until it's drowned by the static of Night Vale Community Radio Amateur Choir singing the nightly summoning ceremony.
Carlos is losing parts of himself, until the husk of him is all that's left, chalk outlined versions of himself across town, double vision and out out of order. He thinks he sees the day in which he says yes.
The town does not like Carlos, but its learning to.
Carlos knows he's not the first man to be drawn to Cecil, and that they tend to end up consumed. He knows he's not going to be the last. The people who've lost Cecil's fleeting interest tend to go away, are perished and forgotten, worse. He thinks of Earl’s face and shivers.
But this is a love story and so when Carlos goes to turn down Cecil's invitation to an afternoon of community BBQ and chanting, he finds himself saying "i have a lot of work-- but maybe later?"
Cecil bright as the moon, as the wolf, says 'the chanting doesn't even start till sun down’
He can still see the turn off onto the highway, he can still go, he could still pack everything up, but there's something about Night Vale.
"What's this?" and Carlos isn't sure what's going on, Cecil's using his serious voice, the one that makes Carlos twitch with reflexive honesty.
"Where did you get this?" Cecil's not quite touching the bracelet.
"Oh it's nothing, just a thing old woman Josie gave me, I don't need it anymore."
"Carlos! You can't trust the angels. You shouldn't just wear anything the angels tell you to. It's dangerous."
Cecil is back to using his radio voice, and has still got a soft grip on Carlos' hand, says "alright, if it's that important to you."
And a week later he almost dies ten feet underground.