Attn: Station Management


This prose poem is meant to be read aloud in the style of Welcome to Night Vale’s ad segments. Good examples here (13:41-16:23) and here (7:48-9:17).

And now a word from our sponsor.

Week 4 since nightfall. Two strangers roam within earshot, their pupils adjusting to the all-devouring dark. They let off pheromones and howls. Between the panic signatures of hundreds of other life forms, they sense each other. They are marked.

The two grope through unsurveyed boreal, each snap of undergrowth mixing the thrill of encountering prey with the terror of being it, losing more of what makes them human with each passing moonless hour. This vegetation is unfamiliar. Like everything left, it has the fever of stars on it. By touch she knows it is dying.

How did either of them make it out here? There is nothing that would orient them. All paths and clearings are procedurally generated. The sky is no help.

Yet their two paths ache to join like a uterine ligament almost healed. Each birthing push through snags and debris threatens to enclose them in an alien meter of decomposition and regeneration.

The sky, oh, the blasted, reconstellated sky! Cassiopeia dims and tilts, as if drunk. Shards of planets darken as they turn. Even down here they feel a reordering. Her womb vanishes. His womb moves.

How long has the Sun been trapped in that pit of celestial embers? It emits a faint moan, perhaps from the universe’s outer edge, or perhaps from inside the newly hollowed Earth. And this other sound. Is it the sound of the cosmos wandering forsaken, dragging its burden of dark memory away from all that has come to pass? Drifting behind it are the remnants of physics, the spent husk of mathematics, the burnt rope ends of philosophy. All search for a quiet place to die.

Quieter than here, where twinned footfall scares loose slithering scavengers, and dead matter strung thinly between tree limbs clutches at fugitive nude forms.

“Think. Think where I came from”, he repeats until the words shed all signal, the phonemes divide, stuck in the gap between tongue and ear. “We’ve come too far,” she intones again and again to the asphyxiating air, silly as an infant, until the last syllable falls senseless on the black dirt.

Now they are standing in a hole dug by hand. The sky hatches a terrible new demiurge. The hole floods with light. Pity their eyes are gone, purged hollow by sculptors’ thumbs. They have rendered one another in the new mould. Both lean in for the finishing touches. His and her new guises betray nothing.

Thought was a failed experiment. We are the end of it. We are pulling the ladder down behind us. We are keeping this last, darkest thought to ourselves.

Random Access Memories by Daft Punk. $11.99 on iTunes.