If you’re not listening to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, then I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there’s a free, creepy, nightmarish, fun podcast about a fictional desert town where all the conspiracy theories are real and no dogs are allowed in the Dog Park. The bad news is that people aren’t allowed in the Dog Park, either, and the glowing cloud coming in from the west might or might not be killing people.
You can read more about Welcome to Night Vale.
I dig it, and the fact that Night Vale is both a perfectly normal community and a total terror trip reminds me of Savannah, Georgia in my new YA Southern Gothic Horror novel, Servants of the Storm, after Hurricane Josephine has ravaged the historic coastal town and left behind… things. Creepy things that only certain people can see, and only when they stop taking their pills.
And so I present Servants of the Storm as reported by Cecil from Welcome to Night Vale.
WELCOME TO SERVANTS OF THE STORM
A picturesque, historic coastal town where the moss is Spanish, the mess was caused by hurricanes, and we all pretend we love to take our pills.
Welcome to Josephine’s Savannah.
To start things off, I’ve been asked to read this brief notice:
The City Council announces that Chippewa Square has been reopened after Hurricane Josephine. The bronze statue of city founder James Oglethorpe, which was sadly lost in the floods, has been replaced with a strange, pagan carving of a nude woman with owl wings. Also, a new bench has been placed on the square.
It is possible you will see a figure seated on the bench.
Do not approach the figure. Do not sit beside it. The figure is not growling at you. It does not have fox ears and jagged teeth.
Try not to look at the figure. Or the statue. Do not take pictures with them, as the pictures will show only blurred images of screaming corpses that look like you. The City Council is not responsible for any injuries sustained while standing in Chippewa Square.
And now, the news.
The Duvall twins, out on Henry street, say that their neighbor’s Basset hound revealed itself to be a chupacabra. Said the dog appeared to grow to the size of “a dadblasted moose” covered in wiry hair and lizard scales. The taller twin claimed the dog ate an opossum that had been plaguing the neighborhood, and that outside of the way the slobber ate through his chain link fence, it was an improvement. If you have a varmint causing trouble on the property, the shorter Duvall recommended laying a trail of chicken bones down the alley and into your yard, if that sweetens the pot for anyone.
A new boy came into town today. Who is he? What does he want from us? Why his long hair and bright blue eyes? Why his bowler hat and motorcycle jacket? He says he is a bartender. Well… we all need drinks at one point or another in our lives. But why now? Why here? And just what does he plan to do with all those mysterious bottles of liquid that clearly aren’t alcohol, the ones lined up at the restaurant that’s never open near the Paper Moon Coffee Shop?
No one serves a chai latte like the Paper Moon. No one.
Just a reminder to all the parents out there: let’s talk about safety when taking your children out to play in Bonaventure Cemetery. You need to give them plenty of flowers to put on the graves and make sure they don’t go to Riverfest.
Riverfest closed after Hurricane Josephine. The amusement park was under eight feet of water. It is condemned. There is not a party there. The Frog Strangler is not a thrilling coaster that is fun to ride. That is not a copperhead on your shoe. Cover your ears to blot out the screams.
Also remember: You’re really thirsty. The slushies at Riverfest are nutritive and calming.
Keep taking your pills.
That new bartender—we now know it’s named Isaac—offered you a drink. He has lovely cheekbones and eyes as dark as the swamp. His hair is long and perfect, and we all hate, and despair, and love that perfect hair in equal measure.
The Duvall twins visited Isaac. They drank the clear liquid. They forgot about the Basset hound that turned into a chupacabra. The shorter one asked what happened to the pesky opossum.
Isaac said that dinner was all you may eat, not all you can eat. He grinned, and everything about him was perfect. I fell in love instantly. He told me to forget things.
People with animal ears from a vague yet menacing club were in the back of the bar, watching. I fear for Isaac. I fear for Savannah. I fear for anyone caught between what they know and what they don’t yet know that they don’t know.
I fear I forgot what I saw in my best friend’s coffin.
We received a press release this morning. The Savannah City Council is proud to announce the opening of the brand new St. Josephine Hospital. I have visited the facility myself recently after a nasty snake bite, and I can tell you that it is absolutely top of the line beautiful.
Now, there is some concern about the fact that, given the new hospital is situated underground and that there are no actual doctors, it is not actually a hospital. And that is a definite drawback, I agree.
For instance, all the pills appear to be the same: unmarked and white and pure as snow. The City Council did not provide any specific remedies for this problem, but they assured me that everything would be fine if I simply continued taking the pills.
So long as I take my pill each morning, I find this advice reassuring and satisfactory.
The Savannah Historical Society is selling bumper stickers as part of their fundraising week, and I’m happy to let you know all about it. The stickers read:
TAKE YOUR PILLS
They have appeared overnight on every car in the city. Payment will be collected at a later date.
A Savannah local named Baker — now, I don’t know if you’ve seen this guy around. He’s the one that is always tapping video game codes on his leg like he’s trying to win extra lives. But we can’t win extra lives. He appeared behind a mini van, ripped off the sticker, and swore that he did not need to take his pills.
No one responded because we all know we are supposed to take our pills.
Isaac—beautiful Isaac—came outside and handed Baker a free drink. We all love Isaac’s kindness.
And now the weather.
Another storm. Seen in the sky over Bonaventure Cemetery. It almost looked like a woman, with the clouds sporting black claws and an open, screaming maw. But we know that’s silly. A cloud is just a cloud. A storm is just a storm.
Ladies and gentlemen, the future is here, and it’s just a cloud.
[“God’s Children” by The Gutter Twins]
Welcome back, listeners.
Now a brief public service announcement.
Albino alligators: can they kill your children?
The storm is closer, and you know what that means. Destruction, obliteration, floods, missing people, filled funeral parlors, floating corpses, terrifying nightmares, and some easy listening tunes for everyone who wakes up screaming and tasting swamp water.
Goodnight, listeners. Goodnight.
Today’s proverb: Take your pills. Take your pills. Take your pills.