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The Bus

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Strap your bones right to the seat. Come on in, don't be shy! Just don't forget to unstrap your bones before you come in. You don't want to leave your spine behind. Welcome to Night Vale.

There is a bus in Night Vale today, listeners. A big, yellow, school bus. As you know, school buses have been illegal here in Night Vale since the 1963 field trip that resulted in Radon Canyon being sealed off. You would think that, since Radon Canyon is no longer sealed off, the school bus ban wouldn't matter anymore, but when I whispered this into my coffee cup, a member of the sheriff's secret police came by the station to remind me that all laws are in effect permanently, forever and ever, in perpetuity, until the flesh falls away from all our bones and the expanding corona of the sun bakes what remains into a crisp, delicious snack for the few survivors, and even then there will still be a small fine. Unless the city council changes their minds, but as he pointed out, when has that ever happened?

He also said that my coffee had smelled really good through their wiretap, and since he hadn't had a chance to have some before coming to talk to me, did I think I could spare a cup? And you know I don't normally do that kind of thing, listeners, but my coffee was really good this morning, and there was still some left in the pot, so I gave it to him. He tasted it, agreed that it was really good. Almost... too good. He informed me that others would be by to get the secret out of me later, whether I was willing to share or not, and went on his way.

How curious. I'll have to ask Intern Sue what he did to make it taste so good today! Hopefully before the secret police take him away for questioning.

In other news, John Peters - you know, the farmer? He says he's seen not one, but two school buses today, sitting side by side out in his imaginary corn field. They were the exact same bus, he says, with the exact same people inside: eight children, one red-haired woman, and one green lizard of some kind. The women were overheard talking briefly about science in some fashion, but they spotted the farmer before he could hear anything more, and the buses drove off, into what is being described as a silvery-blue hole in the air, which disappeared after the second version of the bus drove into it.

Really, Farmer Peters? A "silvery-blue hole in the air"? Looks like somebody didn't pay attention during eighth grade physics if he can't identify time travel when he sees it.

Honestly, people, this is why education is important! We need to know these things.

Oh, good, Intern Sue is back! Let's go to a word from our sponsors; while that's playing, I'll just go ask him what he did to the coffee this morning, and we can get this whole mess cleared right up.

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I... oh god. Listeners, I have learned what Intern Sue did to the coffee this morning. I - he - ugh, I can't even tell you, it's just too awful to talk about. The sheriff's secret police came by not too long ago, and you know what? They can keep Intern Sue, if that's the way he treats his caffeine. (Apologies to Intern Sue's family for his loss, but if you live with him you must already know what I mean.)

In unrelated news, Night Vale Community Radio is seeking new in~terns! If you are between the ages of four and forty, can carry up to fifty pounds, are capable of standing upright and absolutely still for ten hours at a time, and love the radio and our community, apply today by climbing the nearest radio tower and shouting at the top of your lungs, "I LOVE NVCR!"

Internships are unpaid and uninsured, applicants must pay a fifty dollar fee to be considered for the position, applicants accept responsibility for all inherent risks of the position by applying. NVCR is an equal opportunity employer.

Secret police report they have found the bus, though whether this is one of two buses, as Farmer Peters reported, or if the two-bus thing was a one time occurrence, remains to be seen. They have surrounded the bus, and ordered the red-haired woman to come out. She... it appears she actually asked what the charges were. How quaint! One of the officers told her about the bus ban, and she laughed. She laughed, and the bus horn honked angrily, and... it turned into a rocket ship.

I repeat, it is still the same School Bus Yellow color, but it is now a rocket ship. The children inside seemed unsurprised - one even sighed, "Not again..." - as the bus rocket took off, flying over the heads of the secret police and heading downtown. Presumably they are going to stop in at Big Rico's Pizza for a slice. It is the only pizza shop in town, and those kids have been sitting on that bus all day. They must be starving.

Unless - oh, Cecil, you're a fool! The woman was talking about science earlier, they must be going to -

Listeners, I have to go. It is very irresponsible of me to leave in the middle of a broadcast, I know, but... Carlos is in danger! A woman with a bus that can turn into a rocket is coming for him! I don't know what I can do, but I have to do something!

Now, the weather.

[In a move that should surprise no one, today's weather is a rare acoustic version of "Ride on the Magic School Bus" by Little Richard, played about twenty times in a row to fill the empty air while Cecil is away from the station, since there is no Intern to take his place today. Anymore.]

Ah... well, listeners, I was... not quite correct earlier, when I declared that Carlos was in danger. While it is true that the woman with the bus was looking for Carlos, it turns out this is because she was his third grade teacher, bringing her class here to Night Vale on a temporal mechanics field trip.

You can only imagine how embarrassed I was to learn I'd run all the way down to Carlos's lab like that to interrupt a field trip. And what an advanced group of students! I remember my first trip through time wasn't until I was fourteen, and here these eight year olds are taking it all in with no small amount of aplomb. Very impressive; it's really no surprise that this is the teacher who inspired Carlos to become a scientist.

That, actually, was the one thing the children did seem very surprised by: Carlos! Most had apparently been expecting someone named Dorothy Ann? Surely not D.A. Hangley, the famous comedian? When I asked Carlos, he just laughed his beautiful, perfect laugh. I'm not entirely sure what he meant by that.

One boy with alarmingly perfect hair for his age, who turned out to be the third grade version of Carlos, tried to make a joke to lighten the mood. How sweet! When I informed him that puns are strictly outlawed in Night Vale, he looked so heartbroken I nearly encouraged him to do it anyway.

I didn't, of course - the pun ban is far more strict than the bus ban this class was already in trouble for - but I can't deny, I was very tempted.

Carlos was almost done explaining time travel to the class by the time I got there, so it wasn't long before we were bidding the children farewell and watching their strange, technically no longer illegal rocket-bus drive off into the space-time continuum. Carlos held my hand the entire time.

I feel like something really special happened here today, you know? Those people... and that lizard... and the mode of transportation they all use... are some of the most important people in the world to Carlos. And I think they liked me! And that's important, that those of us who care for Carlos can get along. It makes him very happy, and that makes me happy, and isn't that all that really matters in this world? Being happy?

Besides loyally serving our benevolent community overlords, of course.

Oh, it seems we're out of time. Next up, on every frequency, is a high-pitched electronic version of "Pop! Goes the Weasel," which will keep playing for three hours. And remember, turning off your radio is strictly forbidden! Good night, Night Vale. Good night.