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Opinion: Welcome to Whistler

'We hope you will love it in Whistler because you can never really leave. It is in the small print.'
piquen-am-night-vale
"People come to Whistler from all over the world. Many of them will make it back home with only minor side effects and gaps in their memories."

Welcome one and all, and to the One who is Many! We hope you will love it in Whistler because you can never really leave. It is in the small print. 

Nestled between mountain ranges, where the wind howls and wild animals once prowled trails paved with bone dust, you will find a resort like no other—fortunately for you and those you care about. Its peaks are cold and sharp, its forests damp and dark, its waters deep and murky.  

Fun fact: Whistler was nearly called “Howler,” but that name had already been claimed by Howler, Saskatchewan, a sandpaper grit mining town flattened by the Great Chinook of 1935 and never rebuilt. The town was instead named “Whistler” after the alarmed whistling sound that marmots make as they are hunted by carnivorous birds.

The earliest settlers to the town came to fish Alta Lake, where trout were abundant and the great tentacled creature that lurks in the inky depths hardly ever pulled their boats under. 

There was also mining in the early days, although Whistler does not like to talk about that or the ghosts of prospectors that pursue one around the mountains with their sharpened picks. Nobody really knows what they were looking for, just that the survivors ran screaming down the bone-dust trail to Squamish where they were promptly arrested and committed to various asylums. It may have been gold or silver, or possibly alien artifacts. There is no proof it was a Passage to the Underworld. 

There are lights on the southern flank of Whistler Mountain. Red ones.

One of those blinking lights belongs to the railway and our local radio stations. The other belongs to a secret underground research facility that started out conducting market research on Whistler’s transient youth, then graduated to the more lucrative field of inductive mind control. Again, it is top secret, so we would all do well to pretend it does not exis—even as the red lights flash ominously through the night and we find ourselves strangely compelled to do and to buy things. We are mostly sure it’s nothing to worry about. In fact, forget that I mentioned the lights at all. 

This is a Happy Town, for the most part, full of happy, sentient beings since the Great Truce of 1983 between local vampires, werewolves, and protestants. The various cults that have been drawn to this place by telluric energy currents and documented rifts in relativistic spacetime are also mostly friendly despite differences in their dogma.  

For example, Targul the Everlasting Society, which worships the many-tentacled creature that lurks in the depths of the lake, gets along surprisingly well with the New Necrophorians, who believe that the tentacled creature is actually a dozen ancient horrors with nine tentacles each. The Order of the Solar Temple, which renounced human sacrifice last year after their annual solstice barbecue, hosts a picnic every year with the Raelists where they discuss pan dimensional travel, the latest in human cloning and the occult rites of the Rotarians.  

There are helicopters that fly over the valley day and night. Do not acknowledge them or look in their direction while you are being observed. Some lights and sounds in the sky are not helicopters and should also be avoided until you hear the all-clear signal. You will never hear the all-clear signal. 

If you do happen to hear a helicopter landing somewhere nearby, late in the evening after you’ve hung fairy-repelling iron over your doors and windows, it is probably just indigestion. This is a transient town, after all—people move in and out all the time, sometimes in the dead of night. If it helps, tell yourself that the Smiths have always lived next door, that the Munsons and their annual Winnowing Day parties are a figment of your imagination (or a possible side effect of mind control experiments that, as previously noted, are probably nothing to worry about). 

People come to Whistler from all over the world. Many of them will make it back home with only minor side effects and gaps in their memories. 

So come! That’s an Order! See the Sights! Shop in Shopping Stores! Eat at Eating Places! And be sure to leave a deposit in our wondrous new public washrooms and DNA collection facilities. It is both convenient and mandatory!

Please also stop by the new Welcome Centre, which replaced the old centre mistakenly built on a quantum rift that exists in all points in time. Sadly, we can no longer offer tours of the Great Volcanic Eruption of 2024, “Dinosaur Days,” or Greyhound tickets. 

Please be aware of the people-shaped figures walking along the side of the highway after dark. Some of them are people and the others—well, you do not want to hit them either, for your own safety.

Enjoy your time in the dark and narrow confines of our dark valley, whether you have come to visit or cannot escape stay for a while. Join a cult. Make an offering of a cell phone or sunglasses to the many-tentacled creature(s) in the lake. Watch the antennas blink through the night. Feel small and insignificant in the shadows of our cold, grey mountains. 

You will always be welcome here! You can never really leave

(With apologies to Welcome to Night Vale.) 

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