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Intern Return

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"…and the City Council says that this round of library renovations are far less likely to open a rift in space and time. As for the rumored plans to open a branch library in the sand wastes—" Cecil paused and looked up from his notes as the studio door cracked open, and a face appeared around the edge: a familiar face, one he had never expected to see again, except on the screen of his cellphone. "Oh my! Listeners, breaking news! It’s Intern Dana, back from the dog park! To my knowledge, no one has ever returned alive from the dog park. Or dead either, for that matter."

Dana -- or her doppelganger; Cecil still wasn't certain -- shut the door behind her and leaned back against it. Her light brown skin was waxy and ashen and spattered with what looked like dried blood. “Cecil?" she said, weakly. “Cecil, what happened? How did I get here?"

Cecil looked at his notes, at his microphone, thought about his duty to inform his listeners of the goings-on around Night Vale. But some things trumped duty. “We’ll be right back after this very important prerecorded message," he said, then punched the button that would play back an announcement about existential angst. And Pier One Imports. He pulled off his headphones and went to Dana, laying his hands gently on her arms. She was shivering, and her eyes seemed unfocused, as though she was trying to peer into some void behind him. “Dana, you went to the dog park. Do you remember that?"

She shook her head, slowly, side to side. “Dog park? But no one is allowed in the dog park."

"You were following a story and got trapped inside," Cecil said. “That was months ago, but I’ve been getting text messages from you ever since." He led her over to the couch, and she sank back against the dark purple cushions. “You don’t remember any of that?"

"I don’t— I can’t— I was with the crowd outside the dog park, and—" Dana closed her eyes and rubbed at the center of her forehead. “Can I have a glass of water? And… I’m really hungry."

"Of course." Cecil picked up the intercom to call the new intern, Max. The phone rang, and he worried. None of his lost interns had ever come back before. Was there some protocol to follow? Some paperwork to fill out? Would Max or Dana disappear in a puff thanks to some intern/anti-intern paradox? As he waited for Max to answer, he pulled out his phone to check his texting history. All the messages from Dana were erased, naturally. Well, they’d get to the bottom of this. Or they wouldn’t. Either way, it was almost time for the weather.