[UNKNOWN 1] This is everything, then?
[UNKNOWN 2] Yes. We had their recordings and other communications transcribed and then destroyed. There'll be no record it happened. Well, aside from. . .
[UNKNOWN 1] He decided to keep it?
[UKNOWN 2] He did.
[UNKNOWN 1] This cannot happen again.
[UNKNOWN 2] It won't.
[CECIL PALMER, VOICE OF NIGHT VALE]
A stranger arrived in town today. The woman shambled in from the North approximately 30 minutes ago, with her limbs swaying weakly and lips pulled back from her teeth in a fixed snarl. Alert residents who saw her shuffle down the sidewalk commented on the odd, rust colour of her eyes and each of them knew with immediate certainty that this creature was - most definitely - a resident of that hateful city: Desert Bluffs.
The woman appeared deaf to the voracious cries of INTERLOPER from several of our brave town citizens, a phenomenon plausibly explained by the fact that, when Tamika Flynn struck her squarely in the face with a copy of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, both her ears fell off. Since the ordinance by Ex-Mayor Dana Cardinal welcoming previous Desert Bluffs residents into our community, the Sheriff's Secret Police can do nothing but observe as this terror drags its bloated and stumbling body further into the centre of town.
More on that later. But, first, a message from our sponsor.
TO: <Team Science>
RE: Imminent Disaster? (Again)
Listening to Cecil's show and it looks like something might be about to kick off in the centre of town? I know that there's only Mish who was planning on being in town today but stay safe, everyone. Maybe try get back to the lab ASAP in case we're needed?
Also, just a reminder for everyone make sure the refrigerator room door is PROPERLY closed after they've been in there. Our resident biologist has lost several important samples this week and might just throw coffee on yours if it keeps happening.
Be careful out there,
[CECIL PALMER, VOICE OF NIGHT VALE] Welcome back, listeners. More on the story of the stranger in town, I have John Peters - you know, the farmer - on the line. John, tell us what is going on out there.
[JOHN PETERS, FARMER] Howdy, Cecil. Well, I was just in the centre of town getting my permit to grow imaginary corn re-approved by the vast, grey, suited beast in the Town Hall when I noticed this woman making her way into the centre of the town square. Now, I lived in Night Vale my whole life and I ain't ever seen her before - or even anything like her - she looked like she was from Desert Bluffs.
[JP] Yeah, well, I was always raised to be the friendly sort so I shouted -- INTERLOPER -- at her and pointed but she didn't even look in my direction. She just kept shufflin' into the centre of the town square and - oh!
[CP] What, John, what do you see?
[JP] She's stopped. She's stopped right in the centre of the town square. There's a crowd of us, I can see Diane Crayton and her boy, Pamela Winchell and there's a scientist-
[CP] A scientist? Which scientist? John?
[JP] I don't know, a lady scientist? The woman, she's moving. She's looking around at all of us. God, her eyes are so - Oh, oh God, Cecil she's looking at me.
[CP] Be careful, John. What is she doing now?
[JP] She's just looking - her eyes, Cecil, her eyes. I wish I could back away but there is only the smooth stone of the sealed entrance to the City Hall behind me. She's - She's - Oh GOD. Help! Help she's running at
[CP] John! Are you okay? John?!
[JP] Help me -- please-- she's biting - she's BITING ME
[A single, deafening gunshot]
[CARLOS, THE SCIENTIST] Mish! Thank God you picked up!
[MISHTI, A SCIENTIST] I didn't pick up because I was trying to call you, idiot! I'm driving back now.
[CARLOS] Cecil is covering the story on his show, what the Hell is going on out there?
[MISHTI] There was this woman. She - well, I'm just going to put it out there, she's a full-on zombie. I'm not joking , boss. She's literally decomposed and moving. She ran at the farmer guy -
[CARLOS] - John Peters, you -
[MISHTI] - Stop that! Yeah and she, I don't know. I didn't see the actual attack because I was reading your email but next thing I know some PTA mom has put a bullet through her and John Whatever is on the floor bleeding all over the place.
[CARLOS] Oh my God.
[MISHTI] Yeah, I don't fucking know. I just don't even fucking know.
[CARLOS] Is John okay?
[MISHTI] I left him with the others. He was bleeding pretty badly though, he'll probably need to see a doctor or something because there's no way this woman isn't carrying something.
[CARLOS] You're not suggesting what I think you're suggesting. Mish, zombies?
[MISHTI] Well, that's why I called.
[CARLOS] I don't like your tone.
[MISHTI] You might want to get a bench ready.
[MISHTI] And a hazardous materials suit. She's in the back of my car.
[CARLOS] Mish! Oh my God. Fuck. Right. [Muttering in Non-weird Spanish] I can't believe I'm going to ask this . . . Where is the bullet?
[CARLOS] Where was she shot?
[MISHTI] In the head. Hey, thanks for getting on board.
[CECIL PALMER, VOICE OF NIGHT VALE]
Listeners, Intern Patrick and I have been unable to get back in contact with John Peters but reports of further disturbances in the centre of town have been flooding in. With the City Council on holiday, no mayor to guide us and Sheriff Sam still working on their clay model response, I feel that it is my duty to advise you all to stay inside, avoid public spaces and - I don't know - make a sacrifice to your preferred deity.
Intern Patrick has . . . volunteered to head out of the station to try and get an accurate account of just what is going on out there. We wish him the very best of luck.
In the meantime, stay safe, Night Vale. Stay safe .
[CARLOS, THE SCIENTIST]
This is Dr Carlos Palmer, formally known as Carlos The Scientist - which is ridiculous, by the way -
I am recording this on my phone because I can't type with these gloves on and I have a feeling things might be about to get - uh - messy. As per the recommendations of my colleague, I got pretty creative with the plastic sheeting in the refrigerated cold room and have moved a bench in to create what can only be described as a budget Dexter moment.
The - um, I don't want to call her a specimen - uhhh . . .
Well, I am observing a humanoid form that appears to be biologically female. The body is supine on the bench and appears to be, I dunno, about 170cm tall and, God, she can't weigh much more than 100 pounds. Carrying her in was no issue at all. Most striking, is the fact that, as per Dr Anand's warnings, the woman appears to be at least partially decomposed. There are strips of rotting flesh hanging from the extensor muscle groups of her forearms and legs, her abdomen is bloated - incredibly so - the skin so taut that her belly button has almost disappeared. This suggests to me that the process of putrefaction has been ongoing for longer than would usually be allowed for a human being or faster than would usually occur. It definitely smells like it.
Without conferring with a pathologist, I would be reluctant to propose a time of death for this woman but certainly the evidence suggests that the decomposition process began long before she was shot.
Which is, of course, a scientific implausibility.
Considering the cranium, then. The eyes are open and, true to other reports, the irises are a rich coppery colour. It would be fanciful of me to imply that they seem too striking to be naturally human so I won't. I'm scientifically not implying that. The lips have cracked and wasted away into two meaty fringes, revealing yellowing teeth below. I'm not - I'm not getting too close just yet but I think I can see patches of mould between the teeth and I hope that John Peters sought out some medical attention. Jesus.
In accordance with the consistently accurate reporting from Cecil - no, that's biased - um. I also report that the woman has no ears. There is a large, depressed skull fracture on the left side, consistent with a reported fatal shooting. I can see the brain tissue through the opening into the skull and it's - huh. That's weird.
I have no intention of sullying my scientific reporting with human emotion. But I am intending on taking a sample of the brain tissue for further study and -
My hands are shaking. Hah. I am so full of adrenaline right now.
I keep expecting her to move.
Okay! Samples taken. She didn't jump up and grab me. I guess I'm not living out a zombie movie. So, that's something. I'm going to take some blood and swab the mouth - see if we can't tell John Peters what antifungals he needs. Mish - Dr Anand - gave me a whole bunch of scalpels and buckets to use but, aside from the brain tissue collected, I actually fear that there is too much pressure from the gas inside the body to attempt to puncture it. I'm not sure the grant covers cleaners in the event of dismembered human in the lab and - most critically - this is almost certainly a biohazard.
MISH? GET ICE READY, I'VE TAKEN SAMPLES.
MISH? I'M READY TO COME OUT.
MISH! OPEN THE DOOR.
THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NOT FUNNY.
Holy fuck, what were you playing at?
No! Don't touch me, I'm contaminated!
[MISHTI] I was on the phone to Mark and the others! They're laying low in the house. Mark is actually listening to Cecil for once, can you believe that?
. . . I'm sorry - I was on the phone.
[CARLOS] It's fine.
[MISHTI] Boss, are you okay?
[CARLOS] Are you okay? You look a bit flushed.