God this arc frustrates me to no end because i just CANT figure it out…!
Lets break it down… Theres multiple realities, our canon night vale and the 1983 night vale. Potentially more. We already know about our night vale, but what do we know about the 1983 reality?
Following that, episode 33- “Casettes” likely is also part of 1983. The movement Cecil kept noticing in that episode and the one in 106 “filings” are probably one in the same. Kind of.
Leonard Burton met a very very grisly fate, but it may be unrelated to the end of the world the tapes warned us about.
The end of the world
My proposal: nuclear bomb. Or something.
Cal seems to have radiation poisoning, similar to that of the victims who survived Hiroshima.
More subtly, look at the way Cecil spoke of the end of the world in “Best Of?”. He spoke with urgency, but as if it were too late. This end of the world was sprung suddenly on night vale, theres enough time for cecil to talk to his listeners one final time but not enough time to get to safety. It couldn’t be a slow apocalyptic situation that takes time to develop, such as zombies, and its not an instantaneous thing. Theres enough time before the end for cecil and the residents of night vale to live their last moments in despair and terror.
Bethany didn’t. Didn’t what? Survive? Many people didn’t that year. Meaning that some people DID. People such as Cal who are now terribly irradiated and absolutely dying.
Now for the third and fourth possible realities:
The miniature city under the desert flower bowling alley and arcade fun complex
having the same residents, all apparently unaware that they exist in a smaller version of the town above them, its not infeesable that our night vale is also a miniature unaware of the larger, identical town housing them.
a vague yet menacing government agency steals the miniature cities buildings, perhaps a similar thing is happening with the disappearing buildings in night vale, probably not, but its a fun notion to humor.
Normal Night Vale
A normal town where everything is normal and nothing weird happens ever.
this is mostly inspired by the fact that cecil referred to bethany in present tense, bethany doesnt exist in our night vale and has been dead and gone for who knows how long in 1983. Meaning the memory of her still existing isn’t in canon OR 1983, potentially pointing to another reality where shes still alive and well.
the same thing goes for danas father, that reality is good enough for dana to abandon her night vale, meaning its probably not an irradiated wasteland.
Theres likely infinite other timelines, carlos mentioning quantum physics and the multiverse and all. But these four are the notable ones.
Other notable things are the existence of huntokhar, the distant prince, and the woman from Italy all currently existing in or approaching night vale. These three characters are related to eachother somehow, im sure of it. Coincidences dont happen in night vale. But the question is how? And WHY?
Ive written theories about this before but ive always had a sneaking suspicion that night vale isnt real. Even in the podcasts own canon, i dont think it exists on the same plane as everything else. Cecil makes mentions to the rest of america and the government but doesn’t know common states, when night vale sent a distress call for help to the american government after valentines day the government didnt take them seriously. When looking at a map of america cecil said it was wrong, recognizable but wrong, showing that theres a clear disconnect between night vale and the rest of the country, neither quite knowing the other.
Time is strange in night vale. Carlos himself said that time doesnt work there. This is furthered by the professor at the university of what it is when she came in serve for carlos saying that hes been missing for DECADES. By that point carlos had only been in night vale for, what, three years? But nope. Hes been missing for DECADES.
Something, best shown in the book, is that its hard to leave night vale. It was said that it was hard to come and go in the podcast, but the book showed diane crayton trying and failing REPEATEDLY. She always ended up back in night vale even when she logically shouldnt have. What makes it so hard to find and leave?
Also the dog park. The dog park is the only way to easily leave night vale but still makes return very very difficult. Something we often forget is that carlos and dana are the exception, not the rule. Most people in the dog park are still unable to return to night vale.
So i propose that night vale isnt in the same plane of existence as the rest of the world. Not isolated nessecarily, the fictional countries cecil has gone to are on the same plane, but far away and inconvienient. Imagine night vale as an island of abnormality in the sea of our real world. The dog park is the most viable gateway between the reality where night vale exists and where night vale doesnt, the empty desert is where night vale WOULD stand but in this reality (our reality) its just an empty desert where no one decided to build a small town. Since portals between realities are much less common in the real world than in night vale it would make returning EXTREMELY difficult.
I think that maybe, just maybe, the woman from Italy, the distant prince, and huntokhar are trying to merge night vale with reality. That timelines are ripping apart and blending together becaude they NEED to be combined to assimilate into the real world. Night vale might be turning into a normal town, and those who refuse to escape to the new reality being presented to them will have their realities crumble around them. Perhaps THATS what happened to the miniature cities sky.