r_scribbles: (London Cowboy)
[personal profile] r_scribbles
(Don't mind me, just plopping some of my fanfic where I can find it easily)

There were rumours about the young intern at the radio station – the curiously resilient one, the first ever to make it through a whole month at the job.

Cecil Palmer, they said, was the boy who couldn’t die.

‘Oh, he can die, all right,’ Josie would mutter over her crochet. ‘Can that poor boy ever die.’

And she was, as always, right. By the time his first, record breaking month as a NVPR intern was through, Cecil Palmer had already died three times. The incident with the mirrors was only the first. Josie hadn’t got there in time. She’d found the boy’s body, oozing a black slime from nostrils and gaping mouth. He’d been drowned in the stuff where he’d stood. She’d gone to get a shovel, but by the time she’d returned, the body had gone. He’d turned up that evening at the Radio Station, all keen and ready for his shift, with no memory of what had happened. Josie had reported back to his mother via the runes. He was OK, Josie told his Ms Palmer. No, his mother had replied, he was not OK. This was going to keep happening, now that he’d been chosen. She’d prepared him as well as she could, but death would still hurt him, every time. And if anything, the removal of death would hurt him more. The memory loss was all she could do to shield her poor son from the pain – at least he wouldn’t carry it around in his mind. But she couldn’t watch the boy go through all that pain. She couldn’t watch him die and die and die and never die. ‘Please look after him,’ said the runes. ‘You watch over him.’

‘I watch over everyone,’ replied Josie.

After that, Josie made sure that, everywhere Cecil went, he and the townspeople around him ensured that the mirrors were covered. Which made teaching him to drive a very interesting experience. When he wanted to see himself, they took photos of him. Josie ensure he kept an up to date picture of himself on his desk at work, since he was robbed of his reflection. She knew his mother would want him to always see what a fine young man he was growing into.

Leonard Burton saw. Leonard Burton knew that he could finally be replaced, and allowed himself to retire, the sigh of relief leaving his body in one, long, final breath. Josie found him later that night in her kitchen, helpfully dusting a shelf she couldn’t reach. His wings were unfurling like a new butterfly’s. His eyes blazed and he smiled beatifically. His old name was a forgotten dream – just words carved into stone. Leonard was gone, and Cecil was The Voice.

Ms Palmer’s fears had not been unfounded. Over the following 20 years, Cecil died. And he died. And he died. He died with cries of fear and of pain, with gurgles, with gasps, with whimpers, with whines, with shouts of warning ripped from his throat. And he came back screaming. Those curious enough to stay and watch Cecil Palmer get the life shoved roughly back into him left pale and shaken, and went to great lengths never to have to witness it again. But then, the screaming would stop, and Cecil would sit quietly on the floor, like a child who had cried itself out and was too exhausted to move or make another peep. Then, after half an hour or so, he would get up and go about his day, carefree as ever, the memory of death kissed from his mind like nothing more than a boo-boo.

The system worked, for 20 years. Josie would watch over the town, and The Voice would inform it. And death would come for The Voice, as it came so often for everybody who dared work for the radio station, but Cecil would never let that stop him. Even on his travels abroad, Cecil must have died at least a dozen times, but he still came back to them as he’d promised he would. Josie wasn’t sure anymore who it was doing it. Was it still his mother, keeping him alive? Was it the town as a whole, who needed him so? Was it Cecil himself – he did so love his job, and would hate to let anything stop him doing it. There was probably only one thing that Cecil loved more than his job, and that was Night Vale itself. Nothing could top that.

Or, so he thought.

He’d had a few boyfriends, over the years, but none had lasted long. Josie suspected that Cecil couldn’t commit to them. ‘He’s not The One,’ Cecil would grumble on their bowling nights. Josie always advised him that things weren’t always as simple as that – that people tended not to just fall in love at first sight like in the movies.

Soon after that, a team of scientists came to study the town, and Cecil fell in love at first sight, like in the movies.

And then, not like in the movies, he failed to make a move for a year. ‘What are you waiting for?’ Josie would ask, blowing the foam from her beer.

‘Him,’ Cecil would reply as he picked up his spare.

The year went by, and Cecil kept on dying. Torn apart by Station Management. Attacked in the vortex by a something during the sandstorm. The mirror again, when one of the kittens in the men’s washroom knocked the sheet from the one above the sink. And, Cecil kept on coming back.

Cecil never knew. Josie was sure of it. He still didn’t know the day that Josie discovered for certain that Cecil himself was the one bringing himself back to life.

The day that Carlos died – the one thing in Cecil’s life that he could bear to lose no more than his own existence. When Carlos died, Cecil wept, and he cursed, and he concentrated, and he willed the Scientist to return.

When Josie saw them together that night, watching the lights, Carlos didn’t have so much as a scratch. Nobody pointed out Cecil’s injuries to him, and nobody took his photo for him until the scabs had fallen off. It didn’t seem fair to do so, somehow.

Weeks later, when Josie found Carlos in the bar, nursing his drink and trying to pluck up the courage to ask Cecil for a date, he’d described that night. Described being hit by the tiny army’s tiny yet deadly weapons; described falling to the ground as darkness swallowed him. And then, he said, he was filled with this sensation of warmth, and of comfort. Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. It was like being kissed better, and it was Cecil. It was Cecil. It was Cecil.

And he fell in love, instantly.

November 2013

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