The Evil Daria Vignettes

 

As collected from the PPMB

( part four )

 

Gothnapped II, by NightGoblyn

 

Jennifer listened to the phone ring and waited. After a moment it was answered.

“Hi, Missus Howard . . . is Sha . . . Dewey home? He’s what!? What the hell did he do?”

Jennifer frowned as she listened to answer.

“He wouldn’t do that and we both know it. No, I’m calling because Scarlett is missing. Yeah, her aunt is talking to the police now.”

Jennifer’s eyebrows shot up as she listened to Shaggy’s mother.

“Stitches in his hand? Oh, God . . . no . . . I’ll be over there in about half an hour, just tell him to stay the hell home after you bail him out. Don’t mention Scarlett to him, ok?”

Burnout Girl hung up the phone and mentally prepared herself to lie flagrantly to the nice policemen outside. Wouldn’t be the first time.

 

Gothnapped III, by NightGoblyn

 

Jennifer sat in the uncomfortable chair next to Shaggy’s mother and waited. The booking sergeant had informed them that kidnapping had been added to the charges against him and the magistrate had yet to set his bail.

--

“I didn’t do it.”

“Of course you didn’t,” the lawyer said calmly. “Tell me what happened.”

“It was storming, so I went out for a walk.”

“Very unusual, Mr. Howard.”

Shaggy nodded and continued, “I went by Burnout’s place but her lights were out, so I walked over to see Starlet.”

“Burnout? Starlet?”

“Sorry, nicknames for Jennifer Peachtree and Scarlett Allen. They’re my friends . . . me and Burnout used to date.”

“Very well, continue.”

“The lamp was on in her bedroom, so I went up to tap on the glass. There was some guy in there, he was tying her up with duct tape but she wasn’t waking up. I busted the window and opened it, I crawled in and I was gonna beat his ass.”

“Why didn’t you call the police?”

“Cops never helped me before, why would they now? Besides, by the time I got to a phone and came back he might have hurt her.”

“Very well, continue.”

“Dude did some kind of judo throw on me, I landed on the bed next to Starlet. I started to get up and he shot me with a little dart. Next thing I knew, I was waking up in a jail cell.” He looked down at his bandaged right hand. “They said I bled all over the cop car.”

“A small dart?”

Shaggy pulled back the sleeve on his t-shirt to show the lawyer the slightly inflamed puncture mark on his shoulder. He held the sleeve back while she took a series of photographs.

“Can you describe the man you saw?”

“He was about my height and kinda skinny. He was wearing dark slacks, a dark jacket, gloves and a ski-mask. What little I saw of his face, I’m pretty sure he was a white guy.”

“Alright, Mr. Howard.” The lawyer put her recorder and camera back into her briefcase and stood. “I’m going to take your case, as pro bono work.”

“Thanks, but why?”

The woman smiled sadly, and said, “You’re in a very difficult position, Mr. Howard. I suggest a plea bargain.”

“I didn’t hurt Starlet, and I won’t say I did. I’ll cop to the pot, they got me on that fair and square.”

The lawyer nodded and tapped on the door, alerting the jailor that she was ready to leave.

“Ma’am?” Shaggy asked, looking at the business card the woman had given him.

“Yes, Mr. Howard?”

“Don’t I go to school with your daughter?”

“My daughter and my niece, Mr. Howard. If you see them, give them my love, would you?”

Shaggy frowned as the fancy lady lawyer left and the jailor motioned for him to stand and go back to his cell.

I’m in jail, why would I see them here?

 

Sibling Rivalry III, by NightGoblyn

Tom sighed to himself as he walked into the little out-of-the-way coffee shop on Dega Street. It was a good place to get away for some serious thinking since none of his friends came to this part of town, and the coffee was shockingly good for a hole in wall café.

He headed for his usual booth in the back corner and froze when he saw Daria sitting there. Right now she was the absolutely last person in the world he wanted to talk to, and he started to slowly back away. He froze when she glanced in his direction.

In for a penny . . . .

“Hi,” Tom said, walking over to the auburn haired girl and giving her his best smile. She stared back at him with a lack of expression that he found strange and a little frightening.

“Now isn’t the best time, Tom. Maybe you should drop by again later,” she said, her voice flat and icy.

Tom nodded and started to back away.

“No, no,” Daria said, her voice and smile suddenly predatory, “please, Tom. Do sit and join us . . . we’re having an argument that you might be able to solve.”

Tom glanced into the booth and saw that Daria was sitting alone. He was about to make an excuse and leave the creepy little thing to her own devices when he saw the pistol on the seat next to Daria. Tom sat.

“What seems to be the problem?”

“It’s a philosophical conundrum,” Daria said, still grinning devilishly. “Do you believe in good and evil?”

“In what way?” Tom asked, caught between concern and curiosity. “People do things that can be defined as either. Are you asking if I believe in them as some sort of objective theosophical constructs, or personifications like God or Satan?”

“Nothing that complex,” Daria said with a smirk, “I just want to know if you could look at a person who had . . . say . . . cornered and seduced her sister, point at her and say that she’s evil.”

“I’d say that she’d committed an evil act, especially if she forced the other girl to participate. I don’t think that people are evil . . . we’re too complicated to pigeonhole like that.”

“Ha,” Daria answered, her smirk fading into the cold non-expression. “So you’d say that a person can be a mix of both good and evil impulses without themselves being wholly good or evil?”

“Yes.”

“What if a person had no good impulses? What if I could show you a person who existed only to create pain and misery for those around her?”

“I’m not sure a person like that could exist,” Tom said with a frown, “even Hitler loved his dogs.”

“Charles Manson.”

“Not a fair example . . . he was mentally ill.”

“So,” Daria said, leaning across the table and staring into Tom’s eyes, “a mentally ill person can be wholly evil or wholly good, but sanity is defined as a mix of the two urges?”

“What’s this all about, Daria?”

Answer the question,” Daria hissed, her face flickering strangely. For a second, Tom could have sworn that she was trying to smile with only the left side of her face.

“I think more goes into sanity than that, but it’s a decent working definition,” Tom said, drawing back from the slim girl. Despite his fear he noticed that her position caused the front of her dress to hang open, giving him an excellent view of her breasts.

“You like them, don’t you?” Daria asked, her voice suddenly honey and warmth. Tom shuddered with emotional whiplash as he remembered the things that voice had said to him the previous weekend.

“Quit distracting him,” Daria snapped in a cold tone, “I want him thinking with the head on his shoulders, like we agreed.”

“Fine,” Daria answered herself, her voice sulky and annoyed.

“Ok, is this some kind of freaky practical joke?” Tom asked, glaring across the table. “Because I’m not amused.”

“It’s not a joke. This is more deadly serious than you know.”

Tom froze when he saw Daria’s hand disappear under the table, heading for the pistol.

“I’m sorry about what happened,” he blurted.

Daria slowly rotated her head to the side, her eyes narrowing.

“You’re going to have to be more specific,” she said, “several people have done many things to me recently, and frankly I’ve lost track of who did what and when. Sadly, that means punishments have been somewhat arbitrary and possibly harsher than strictly necessary. But at the end of the day,” Daria lifted the pistol and pointed it at Tom, “nobody complains.”

 

From the diary of Evie Morgendorffer, by smk

I hate clichés. Really, I do. I think that if you can’t find an original way to say something, then you shouldn’t bother. But sometimes, only sometimes, they express such great truth that there really is no other way to say it. And so I, Evie Morgendorffer, tell you today, Be Careful What You Wish For. All my life I’ve wanted one thing-to have a family. Well, I’ve got one now. I think. Honestly, I think I’d need a genealogy expert to figure out who I’m actually related to, and how those people are related to each other. And a soap opera expert to figure out who all has slept together, and of those who have slept together, how many laws they may have broken in the process. My ‘mother’ is a slut with all the maternal instincts of a cuckoo. I’m not even sure who my father is, but the possibilities are not all that impressive. He could be a manipulator on the level of Machiavelli, or a completely clueless man-slut, or anywhere on the scale in between. And my ‘sisters’? I don’t think there are enough psychotropic drugs in the world to keep the older one connected to reality. And the other one defines vindictive. There are only two things I know for sure: I will never let myself be alone with anyone here, and I didn’t know how good I had it at the orphanage.

 

Rough Morning, by NightGoblyn

Scarlett felt a little ill, she had a mild stomach ache and her head thudded unpleasantly. Her bed felt hard and uncomfortable, and her pillow and blanket were gone. She started groping around for them and heard a strange metallic rattling noise which continued until her hand was suddenly jerked up short mid-search.

She sat up and looked at her arms. She had heavy leather cuffs on each wrist which were connected to a leather belt around her waist by two foot lengths of chain. More jingling drew her attention downward and she saw similar cuffs on her ankles with another two foot length of chain strung between them. She wore a white garment that seemed similar to a tabard; it was open on the sides and tucked under the belt. The garment had a modest neckline and when she stood it fell to her knees.

She took a couple of short steps forward and leaned against the bars of her cell and examined the room she was in. The opposite side of the room was full of wooden planks and boards, coils of rope and chain, and a couple of sturdy looking tool chests. A heavy wooden door was to her left, and a large wardrobe was against the wall opposite the door. The wardrobe was standing open, and she looked at the contents with shock.

It was full of her things. Stuff that she’d thought was lost or misplaced over the last couple of years was neatly shelved or hanging from the rod. She recognized her Quinn costume with a shudder, especially the place of honor the low cut panties had been pinned up in. On one of the lower shelves she saw the t-shirt and underwear she’d gone to bed in.

“He wasn’t after Quinn at all,” she whispered, and then her eyes widened. “Oh, Goddess. I’m in trouble.”

 

Floating, by NightGoblyn

“Was it really necessary to get back at the guy like that?” Evie asked, looking a little queasy. “You could have just kicked his ass or turned him over to the police.”

“Out of all the horrible things Daria has done,” Jane answered, “this was the one I was completely on board with. You didn’t see what it did to Quinn when she saw those pictures.”

Evie nodded slowly and sighed. A high pitched trilling sound filled the kitchen and Jane pulled out her cell phone.

“Yo,” she said, and a concerned expression crossed her face. “Arguing with herself? Yeah, Nick it is strange . . . no, don’t bother her . . . yeah, I know the place . . . is she alone?”

Evie stood and cracked her knuckles.

“Ok, good. No, it’s better if nobody bothers her . . . thanks for calling, Nick . . . yeah, he’s probably asleep . . . ok, bye.”

“Daria being weird somewhere?” Evie asked.

“Yeah, she’s at that coffee shop on Dega Street. Let’s go get her before she causes a scene. I’m about ready to have a little chat with Ms. Lynn Cullen.”

“She has a last name now?” Evie asked as they left the kitchen.

“Yeah, I finally remembered what the whole wearing purple thing was about,” Jane answered. “Daria wrote this story once, about having a twin sister . . . .”

The front door closed behind Evie and Jane. They didn’t see Quinn sitting at the top of the stairs, watching them leave. No one saw Quinn walk back downstairs, humming cheerfully to herself as she wandered through the kitchen and out the sliding door into the back yard.

 

Always on a Deadline, by NightGoblyn

Jodie drove.

Technically, one could say that she’d already been driven . . . but that was in a strictly metaphorical sense.

“Jodie,” Michele Landon’s voice said in her head, “I know you’re upset about giving up your relationship with Michael, but it’s really for the best. We both know he wasn’t going anywhere, and now you can come with me to the club and meet some suitable young men.”

Jodie snickered under her breath and flicked her eyes to the rear view mirror and back. She wished that she’d taken the time this morning to put her hair up . . . she didn’t like the way it looked when it was down, a huge wavy mass.

“So,” Andrew Landon’s voice said in her head, “I had a talk with your English teacher today. He tells me that you’re slipping a little, sweetheart. You know that Landons don’t slip . . . we’re going to schedule you a tutor to bring your grades back up before the end of the semester.”

Jodie absently reached up and rubbed her face, the dried blood flaking away under her fingertips.

“I made us a lunch date for this Sunday,” her mother’s voice said. “We’ll be going over to the Sloane’s, so make sure you wear your best dress. It’s important to your father that you make a good impression, and I want you to meet Kay’s son.”

Jodie tugged at the collar of her sleep shirt, grimacing in annoyance at the wet, sticky splotches all over it. She really should have taken time to change clothes and shower, but she was used to making the most out of a little time.

“I’ve been thinking of enrolling you in Fielding Prep next year,” her father said. “I’m starting to think that a public school isn’t helping you fulfil your potential, and Fielding has some great extracurriculars.”

Jodie took the turn onto Glen Oaks Lane a little fast, and leaned against the motion. She caught movement from the corner of her eye and whipped out her right hand to stop the darkly stained butcher knife from slipping off the passenger’s seat.

“Jodie, I was thinking . . . .

“Jodie, now that you have some more free time . . . .

“Jodie, I signed you up for . . . .

“Jodie, you should go to the doctor . . . you don’t look well.”

“Jodie, I need you to watch the little ones . . . .

“Jodie . . . .

“Jodie . . . .

“Jodie . . . .

“Jodie . . . .

“Jodie . . . .

“Jodie . . . .


Jodie pressed down on the gas pedal and gritted her teeth.

 

Sibling Rivalry IV, by NightGoblyn

Tom swallowed nervously and stared at the pistol in Daria’s hand.

“What are you apologizing for, Tom?”

“At the Zon, a couple of months ago. You looked a lot different then. I bought you a drink.”

Daria’s eyes narrowed.

“I wanted to take you home, you looked sick. We ended up in the alley behind the bar.”

“I recall.”

“You never told me your name, and I didn’t recognize you when you showed up at the house last weekend.”

“Why are you sorry? The sex was good, considering it was in a dirty alley behind a bar.”

“I got my friend Mark to buy you the drink, since he had a fake ID.”

Daria slowly lowered the pistol and put it on the table, keeping her hand on it. “Mark?”

“Yeah, Mark. The guy you left in a hotel room with two angry girls and a suitcase full of . . . implements.”

“He drugged them and raped them. He drugged my sister. You drugged me.”

“I didn’t know,” Tom said, nervously eyeing the gun.

“No idea at all?” Daria asked with a small smirk.

“I knew he got laid every weekend, and he said he was going to show me how he did it. He gave me a bunch of lines to use and pointed me at your table, he said you’d be easy since you were alone and depressed.”

“How chivalrous.”

“After we talked, I decided that I wanted to get to know you better. You seemed really interesting, not somebody I wanted for a one night stand.”

“And what better way to get to know me than liquor me up, dose me with roofies, and bang me in a back alley.” Daria’s smirk twisted into a sinister leer. “Well, not the back alley, that wasn’t until this weekend.”

“Daria, I kept hanging out at that club because I wanted to run into you again. I felt really bad about how things turned out, but I didn’t know your name or anything. Then, I found out about what you were doing at your school and what happened to Mark and I wanted to get revenge.”

“You were sleeping with Jane so you could get yourself into a position to hurt me, to avenge your rapist friend.”

“If it makes you feel any better, I went over to Mark’s house last night and beat him until he couldn't stand up.”

“Strangely, it does.”

“So . . . I’m sorry.”

“You are forgiven.”

Tom relaxed.

“Of course, you still have to be punished.”

Tom tensed up.

“You took advantage of my weakness. You lied to my best friend.”

“I didn’t know.”

“It’s not his fault,” Daria said flatly.

“It is his fault,” she immediately snapped back. “He got you pregnant, he was in league with the man that hurt your precious little sister, and he manipulated you and your bosom best friend forever so he could get both of you in the sack. Now he just sat here and bragged about it.”

“I’m not bragging!” Tom protested, and then he suddenly paled. “Did you say pregnant?”

“He dies,” Daria hissed.

“No.”

“I agree with the second voice, so it’s two to one against killing me.”

Daria glanced up, her eyes pinning Tom to his seat. Her entire body was shivering, as if her muscles were all pulling against one another.

“Thomas,” she said flatly, “which hand am I holding the pistol in?”

“Um, the right hand.”

Neither of them saw the door to the coffee shop open as Jane and Evie entered, both hurrying to the back corner booth.

“Thank you,” she said. With one smooth motion she lifted the pistol, pressed it against her temple, and pulled the trigger.

 

Sinking, by NightGoblyn

God, how could I have been so wrong my whole life? I always used to think that nobody cared, that nobody really loved me. I was so wrong.

“Everybody loves me!” Quinn said with a giggle, and did a little spin. She leaned over and hugged the big oak tree in the back yard and felt the love and acceptance flowing through the bark into her body.

She danced a few more steps and looked up at the sky, laughing at the sun and clouds as they smiled down at her. She kicked off her shoes and felt the soil and grass lovingly caress her feet.

“Stacy loves me, and Jane loves me, and Daria loves me, and Tiffany loves me, and Sandi loves me, and Tori loves me, and . . . .” Quinn frowned and looked down at herself. Something was blocking the flow of love and acceptance from the world and she couldn’t figure out what it was.

She unbuttoned her jeans and let them drop to her ankles. Stepping out of them, she felt the warm sun and the cool breeze on her legs like the world was kissing them. She shivered and quickly stripped, tossing her clothes around the back yard and giggling to herself.

She held her arms up to the sky and smiled, but there was still something bothering her. Suddenly, she realized what it was.

“Mark loved me, too.”

At last, the thought didn’t make her afraid or nauseous.

She smiled brightly and wandered away, looking for more love.

--

Jodie sped down Glen Oaks Lane, heading for Daria Morgendorffer’s house.

It is time, and past time, that sawed-off little bitch gets what’s coming to her. She has made my life hell, and my friends’ lives hell, and she stole Mack from me. That bitch, that slut, that whore. She likes getting things stuck in her, huh?

Jodie smiled to herself and let her grip on the butcher knife tighten.

Goodbye, Mother. Goodbye, Father. Goodbye, Rachel. Goodbye, Evan. You were all slipping, and Landons don’t slip. Not ever, my daddy told me so.

Jodie frowned in confusion at the sight of a nude redhead dancing and skipping down the sidewalk. A few seconds later she recognized Quinn Morgendorffer, Daria’s little sister and left hand advisor. Quinn danced out into the road and Jodie jerked the wheel, hearing the tires on her father’s Jaguar bark angrily on the asphalt.

Jodie smiled broadly at the meaty thump and the shriek of pain that immediately followed.

Another one bites the dust.

 

Rise and Shine, by vlademir1

 

A blue-grey mist clung to the surface of the river. Stacy Rowe realized she was in a somewhat decrepit looking old boat. Looking over she realized the person to her left was Stacy Rowe. Stacy gave her a vindictive sneer.

What is going on? How am I beside myself?

Someone cleared his voice. Looking up Stacy saw a very large black man sitting in the prow of the boat with oars across his lap. His skin she noted was the color of the tar her father had had put down on the driveway in the spring. Over his right shoulder she noticed a very bright white light, it could have been the sun except it was far too bright and far too white. The man snapped his fingers in her face bringing her back to the reality of the little old boat surrounding her.

"OK ladies you are needed, very much so just right now. But unless you wake up to reality and pull yourself together right now neither of you will survive."

Both of them stared at him intently.

He reached out, both of his arms seemingly impossibly longer than a moment before, and laying a hand on the off shoulder of either girl pushed them toward each other.

* * *

Stacy woke up and looked around. She was in the hospital, in a hospital bed. Sitting up she pulled the IV needle from her arm, then proceeded to rip the electrodes from her body and began to dress as the alarm sounded from near the bed.

 

Sibling Rivalry V, by NightGoblyn

Silence rang in the air of the coffee shop as the smell of gunpowder wafted across the booth towards Jane and Evie.

Someone kept saying, “ohgod, ohgod, ohgod, ohgod,” over and over again, and Jane closed her mouth with a snap when she realized it was her.

Daria’s eyes snapped open, flickering from Tom to Jane to Evie and back to Jane. Jane was very familiar with those big, brown eyes . . . the only chinks in Daria’s armor. No matter how calm her exterior, if you knew how to read her eyes she was like an open book.

Jane had seen those eyes soften with sorrow, harden in anger, sparkle with amusement, and burn with anger. She had never seen the empty, broken look that was in them now. She and her best friend stared at each other for a few seconds, and then Jane almost saw the ethereal bricks flying through the air as Daria’s walls came up.

Slowly, she lowered the pistol and revealed a black and red burn on her temple. A thin line of blood ran down her face as she flicked open the drum on the revolver. With one shake, the bullets fell out and bounced lightly across the table.

“Blanks,” Jane whispered.

“Shock therapy,” Daria murmured in a rough voice, “has been used for centuries in the treatment of mental illness.” A half smile flickered across her face. “She didn’t know they weren’t real bullets.”

“What the hell is going . . . is that a real gun!?” a waitress demanded.

“Performance art,” Evie said, taking the woman by the elbow and steering her away from the booth. “We call it Bullet of the Mind’s Eye and I hope your patrons enjoyed it.” She winked at a nearby man and took his ball cap. “Tips or donations can be left in the hat. We’ll collect them momentarily so this kind gentleman can recover his head gear.”

“Uh, yeah, sure,” the waitress said, not looking entirely convinced.

“What the hell are you doing, trying to give me a heart attack?” Jane hissed at Daria.

“Reintegration of split personalities is a delicate and time consuming procedure that requires months or even years of therapy,” Daria answered, holstering her pistol. “I hadn’t the time.”

“So, Lynn is gone?”

“No, she’s integrated,” Daria answered, standing up and turning to Tom. “You are a worthless, lying, scum-sucking sack of shit and your sister is better in bed than you are.”

“Really?” Jane asked.

“Thou shalt have no other girls before me,” Daria said with a smirk, and grabbed Jane by the t-shirt to haul her over for a kiss.

“I’m good with that,” Jane said after the kiss was broken, “but we have some serious talking to do, Morgendorffer.”

“Don’t call me that,” Daria said, walking towards the café’s door. “After I found out that Amy is my mother, Lynn had my name changed.”

“Check it out,” Evie said as she caught up with the girls, “we made thirty bucks.”

“I should shoot myself more often.”

“Don’t even joke about that,” Jane said with a scowl. “So what do I call you now, amiga?”

“Daria is still correct,” she answered. “Daria Lynn Vitale.”

 

Lunch Time, by NightGoblyn

 

Scarlett looked up when she heard door across the room unlock and swing open. She stood and stepped up the bars of her cage and was shocked when she recognized the harmless looking young man.

“I brought you some lunch,” Ted said with a smile. He walked over to the cage and pushed the tray he carried through a slot in the bars directly next to a small table.

“Ted?”

“Yes, Scarlett?”

“What’s going on?”

Ted sighed and pulled a chair up to the side of the cage, near the table. “Sit,” he said. “You eat and I’ll talk, ok?”

Scarlett nodded slowly and sat down at the table, looking over the food on the tray. Her lunch consisted of freshly baked bread, a bowl of vegetable soup, and a glass of lemonade. She looked from the food to Ted distrustfully, but her stomach nagged her into eating.

“I know you don’t eat meat, so I didn’t bring you any.”

“I don’t,” Scarlett said, “not red meat anyway. Fish and chicken is ok, and milk or eggs.”

“I know,” Ted said with a smile. “So, how do you like it here? I made most of this stuff myself.”

“I’m chained up in a cage,” Scarlett said angrily. “I don’t like it at all. The soup is nice, but I want my clothes and I want to go home.”

Ted sighed sadly. “You’ve been under all the wrong influences, but now we can correct that. I’ll help you break your bad habits, and then we can be happy together.”

“We . . . what!?”

“Just rest, dear.” Ted stood and began walking back to the door. “I still have some business to take care of, and then nothing will be left to stand between us.”

“Where are you going? Let me out of here, you freak!

Ted smiled sadly and waved to her as he left. The door slammed shut with a heavy thump, and Scarlett heard the lock turn.

“Dammit,” she muttered.

 

Knife To See You, by NightGoblyn

The red convertible whipped into the Morgendorffer driveway, the tires barking loudly as Amy slammed on the brakes.

“Your driving is a little hostile,” Jake said, cowering down in his seat.

“I wonder why?” Amy snapped back. “God! I can’t believe the unmitigated gall of that . . . bastard.”

“He was pretty smug,” Jake said, staggering slightly as he climbed out of the car.

“Amy, I have no intention of contacting our daughter again,” Amy said, dropping her voice a couple of octaves and pretending to drag on a cigar. “I invite you to attempt to stop her from contacting me.”

“Believe me, I will,” Jake said, smacking his fist into one hand. “I’m gonna have a nice long talk with Daria, make sure she knows I’m still her old man, even if I didn’t get you pregnant.”

Amy stared at Jake wordlessly for a few moments, and then sighed. Shaking her head she started walking towards the door. Jake caught up after a few steps and pulled out his house keys. He unlocked the deadbolt and pushed the door open.

A wild-haired black girl suddenly lunged around the corner, burying a knife in Jake’s chest. Amy back-pedalled wildly, losing her balance and landing hard on the driveway.

“Always thrust with the blade parallel to the ground,” the girl muttered to herself, “otherwise it’ll get stuck between the ribs, and that’s less than perfect.” With a jerk, she pulled the knife free and Jake toppled to the ground, bleeding profusely.

“Jake?” Amy squeaked.

“You aren’t Daria,” the girl said, stepping over Jake’s body. “You look like her though. Older sister? Aunt?”

“Mother,” Amy answered, dropping her hand into her purse for her sidearm.

“Wonderful,” the girl answered, smiling brightly.

She took a step forward. Amy drew and fired, three shots to center mass and one to the forehead.

 

My Burnout Girl, by NightGoblyn

 

The doorbell rang again, and Trent stifled a yawn as he shuffled down the stairs. He pulled the door open and looked out at a skinny blonde wearing patched up jeans and an old green army jacket.

“Hey,” he said, holding open the door so the girl could enter.

“Hey,” she answered.

The two of them walked upstairs, where she sat on the bed while Trent pulled an old cigar box out from under his bed. He opened the box and pulled out a half-smoked joint and lit it. He took a drag and offered it to the girl.

“I’m broke,” she said. Trent shrugged and offered her the joint again. She took it and pulled a drag herself. They spent the next several minutes passing the cigarette back and forth until it was burned away.

“What’s up, Burnout?”

“Red has been kidnapped, and the pigs have got Shaggy in a cage over it.”

“He do it?”

“Hell, no. The two of them don’t do anything but make moon eyes at each other, and they’re both scared that my feelings will be hurt if they go out.” Jennifer shrugged. “I guess it would have hurt a year ago, but not now.”

“You should tell them that.”

“I will, if we can get him out of jail and find out where she’s at.”

“What happened?”

“She got a stalker, and he kidnapped her. Shaggy tried to help, and got knocked out and blamed for the kidnapping. Pigs think he’s got her stashed somewhere.”

“What can I do?”

“I don’t have any money.”

“You know I don’t charge you,” Trent said with a small smile. He leaned forward and kissed her softly.

“I just feel like I’m taking advantage of our situation.”

“That’s why I don’t mind,” Trent answered. “If it didn’t bother you, you wouldn’t be my Burnout Girl.”

“Can you help?”

“Let me make some calls,” Trent said, and reached for his duck phone.

 

Astral Publishing Incorporated, by NightGoblyn

 

Two nurses and a doctor ran into Stacy’s hospital room, responding to the alarm from her heart monitor. When they found the room empty they searched briefly before rushing away: one to the security desk, one to the nurses’ station, and one to telephone her emergency contacts.

Stacy slipped out of the room across the hall and back into her own room and began rifling the drawers and cabinets. In one drawer she found her jewellery and her cell phone. In another she found two changes of clothes – one hers and one Quinn’s.

She must have stayed the night at least once. I’ve been out a while.

Stacy tried to turn her cell phone on and it beeped feebly at her once before going dark again, obviously the battery was dead. She grabbed Quinn’s clothes and snuck back across the hall to the empty room. Moving quickly, she pulled on the jeans and pink t-shirt.

“So, where are you going now?”

Slowly, Stacy turned and looked at the hospital bed. The mattress was elevated so that Sandi could lean back comfortably and flip through her copy of Waif magazine. Stacy noticed that the article was titled Horns and Halos: Hair Work-Arounds for Afterlife Accessories.

“How many times do I have to kill you?” Stacy hissed.

“Just the once, sweetie. I’m dead now, but that doesn’t mean I’m gone.”

“Leave me the hell alone.”

“I did, but some people upstairs decided that you weren’t done yet,” Sandi answered with a shrug.

Stacy scowled and walked out of the room. As casually as possible, she strolled down the hallway and to the elevator. For some reason that she couldn’t quite remember the elevator filled her with dread, but it was the only way down to the first floor – there was no way she was taking the stairs as weak as she felt.

A few moments later, the elevator opened and she cautiously stepped out onto the first floor of the hospital. She wandered the halls for a few minutes, and finally saw doors to the outside. She began heading that way, but her path was blocked as a small group of medical personnel ran through the double doors with a gurney.

Stacy only caught bits and pieces of their conversation, but the person on the gurney was obviously in a bad way. She heard phrases like ‘pierced lung’ and ‘concussion’ and one of the EMTs calling for more whole blood. She stepped into a doorway to make room for the emergency case and her heart stopped when they rolled past her.

Quinn . . . oh my God, Quinn . . . what happened to you!? Daria . . . Daria did this . . . I’m going to kill her.

 

Shadow Scorpion, by Brother Grimace

 

Tiffany had had enough.

Fun was fun, certainly... but some of these people were just acting out in ways - well, she'd expected it, but she had considered that they would remain stable a touch longer.

Oh, well... there's always the students that'll come in next year. Oh, and let's not forget the 'grief counselors that the district will make available, in case any of the students need to talk...'

She actually laughed out loud at that thought.

I guess it's time to clean up all of the messes... more or less, she thought. Conference call...

Five minutes later, she hung up her phone; four of the five people in her conference call had recieved their one word instruction.

"Scorpion."

At three points around the City of Lawndale - and one point outside the suburb - four people prepared to follow a long-standing order.

The fifth had already carried it out.

 

Sting One and Sting Two, by NightGoblyn

 

Ted tapped the Bluetooth unit in his ear and frowned. He lifted his binoculars again and watched the skinny musician and his target getting stoned together.

There’s no telling how long she’ll be in there. I can’t sit out here and wait all night . . . I made a promise and it’s time to uphold my end of the bargain. It’s time for . . . Scorpion.

--

Charles slowly hung up the phone on his desk, his face paler than usual. He’d been told this was a contingency plan . . . a just in case . . . something that would never have to actually be done. Today, apparently, was Neverday.

He brought up the command line on his computer and typed in a short phrase.

“Why did you sting me, cried the frog,” he whispered to himself. “Because it is my nature, answered the scorpion.”

He pressed the Enter key, then picked up his phone again and hit a speed dial number.

“Talk,” said the girl on the other end of the line.

“Daria . . . um . . . maybe I should call back later,” Charles said.

“I’ve recently gotten my act together,” she said, and he could hear the smirk in her voice. “So go ahead and tell me what you called about . . . Maverick.”

“You’re not going to like this . . . .”

 

Catharsis, by NightGoblyn

 

"Hold it right there, miss..."

Stacy gave in as the trio of burly uniformed guards closed in on her, blocking her way to any exit...

*****

"Miss Rowe, you could have hurt yourself," Dr. Hanley Phillips said, his easy tone and good looks calming Stacy as he and the nurses placed her back into the bed. "Your parents are on their way over; now, I'm going to give you a mild sedative to help calm you down, all right?"

Not trusting herself to say anything, Stacy merely nodded as the handsome doctor injected a fluid into the reinserted IV tube in her arm while the nurses finished fastening the leg restraints. "There, that ought to do it," Dr. Phillips said, watching as the nurses left. "We'll leave you alone to get some rest until your parents arrive, all right?"

Stacy turned away to the window, not noticing that the alarm on the monitor she was hooked up to was muted out... she suddenly felt very comfortable, and very sleepy, as if the bed she was in was the only place she'd ever wanted to be - the only place she's ever felt so - so -

The wide eyes of Stacy Rowe were empty; Dr. Phillips checked the young woman's pulse to make sure that she was gone. He closed her eyes and tilted her head, to make it look as if she were just sleeping...

Dr. Phillips turned and walked to the door. He stopped and gave Stacy's body a final, rueful glance, then opened the door and walked through.

There are a number of ways to kill someone right in front of a roomful of people - if you only know what they are, he thought, his mind drifting back to a year ago, when he made the mistake of attending that medieval fair Lawndale High held to raise funds and ran across the young Asian beauty... a day later, he recalled her coming over to his apartment, with a bottle of honey mead (how the girl had even found that or knew that he loved the stuff, he had no idea) - and shame colored his cheeks as he recalled what happened afterward.

When the Rowe girl was admitted, he'd recieved a very short call from her, reminding him of his 'promise' - and a half-hour ago, he recieved the one-word call. Thank God for security - if they'd been a minute slower...

The doctor looked at his watch as he walked down the hall, and turned the corner to cross over to the line of elevators. He hit a button to call an elevator, and as the doors opened, he stepped inside and pushed the button for the ground floor.

It's strange, but I feel - good about myself, he thought, mulling over what he'd done.

For the first time in a long while - I feel free. I don't have that girl and her threat hanging over my head... and there's no way that Rowe's death will even look like murder. People die in hospitals every day, even when they look healthy and fit, ready to go home - and then, they just keel over and fall dead. Maybe it was an aneuryism - we'll have to do an autopsy, and I can see it now. 'Oh, God - was it me? I failed her! I thought she was getting better - I should have watched her more closely - what could I have missed? How am I going to face her parents...!'

The door opened, and Hanley Phillips walked towrds the cafeteria. He hadn't eaten in seven hours, and his stomach rumbled at the scents of food coming down the hall.

Maybe they have some of that taco pie left...

 

Flights of Angels, by NightGoblyn

For the third time she could remember, Stacy sat up in her hospital bed and looked around. Sandi was sitting in the chair next to the bed, working a book of crossword puzzles.

"Why do I keep waking up in the hospital?" Stacy asked.

"Don't worry sweetheart," Sandi said, putting away her book and puzzle. "It won't happen again."

Stacy nodded and climbed out of the bed. Sandi stood next to her and took her hand.

"We have to go," Sandi said quietly.

"What about Quinn?"

"I can't say," Sandi said sadly. "But Jodie is hanging out with her, and I trust Jodie to make sure she catches up if she's going with us."

"Where are we going?"

"Away, sweetheart. We're going away."

Quietly, the two girls left the hospital and were . . . . gone.

 

Sting Two Too, by Brother Grimace

 

Before he could finish his sentence, a familiar voice boomed up from the staircase of the lavish Ruttheimer home.

"CHARLES!"

"Who is that-?"

"It's my dad," Upchuck said, feeling ashamed for the way he winced at the sound of his father's voice. "Anyway-"

"NOW, Charles!"

"I'll call you back," Upchuck said, hanging up the phone before dashing out of his room and down the stairs. "Yeah, Dad?"

An angry voice all but exploded out of Charles Ruttheimer, Jr's study. "Get in here-!"

Sighing, Upchuck walked across the foyer to the door of his father's study-

Was there just an explosion? Did a truck just drive through here - did I just get hit be a meteorite, or a toilet seat from space, like that girl Georgie did in that cable show - I'm flying, but backwards, this is so cool, why is everything getting so bright, oh, it must be the fire that the toilet seat from space caused, Dad's going to be pissed and of course this is somehow MY fault-

"Hey, Charles."

"Stacy?"


Charles stood up, and smiled at the only girl in school who ever showed anything even close to friendship to him. She was wearing a Roman-style toga of the most luminescant shade of white that he'd ever seen, and her hair was long and nicely styled, with twin lengths of spiraling curls falling down her bare right shoulder, and sandals that laced up the length of her shapely calves in triple-spirals of gold...

"Stacy - What are you doing in my house?"

"Oh, Charles, you silly bunny - we're not in your house. We're not anywhere, anymore."

"Uh, Stacy... then where are we?"


Stacy smiled the most beautiful smile that Upchuck had ever seen as she put her arms around him. "Anywhere you've ever wanted to go, Charles," she told him, her eyes soft and alive as she looked into his. "Everywhere you've ever wanted to be."

She kissed Upchuck, and it wasn't anything like he'd ever imagined it to be.

Reality never was... but, he reflected, this is something that I could definitly get used to.

*****

From the Enhanced 911 tapes:

OPERATOR: 911. What's the emergency, please?
CHARLES RUTTHEIMER, JR.: God, I need an ambulance - I just shot my son - there's blood everywhere!
OPERATOR: You shot your son?
CHARLES RUTTHEIMER, JR.: I called him downstairs - I was cleaning my guns, I wanted to show him, I was planning on taking him shooting - call an ambulance! Send an ambulance - God, he's just laying there - blood's bubbling out of his mouth and nose - Jesus, half his face is GONE - Oh, God, help me! Help me! I think he's dead, God please, HELP ME! Send somebody, please!

 

His Swift Sword I, by NightGoblyn

The doctors and nurses worked with focused, single minded intent. Their goal was to rebuild the broken teenage girl that had been wheeled into their emergency room a few short minutes ago. Just outside their ability to see, three figures watched them work.

“Quinn, I can’t tell you how sorry I am,” Jodie said.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Quinn answered. “You were crazy. Hell, I was crazy. I think we all went crazy.”

“I wasn’t crazy,” Jake said with a small smile. “At least, no more than I usually was.”

“God, I can’t believe I did that. I’ve turned into a statistic,” Jodie said sadly.

“They’ve got the best doctors in the state here,” Jake said, putting one arm around Quinn’s shoulders.

“I don’t know if I want them to fix me. Stacy and Sandi left a few minutes ago, and I’d really like to catch up to them.”

“And?” Jake asked gently.

“And if I get back in that body, I’ll be crazy again. I don’t want to hurt anymore, not myself and not anybody else.”

“You’ll get better,” Jodie said. “You had a breakdown, but your mind hasn’t shattered. Not like mine did.”

“I’m just worried that Daria is going to blame herself,” Quinn sighed.

“She’s strong,” Jake said.

“No, Daddy, she’s not. She just pretends to be strong, and all the time she’s screaming for help and nobody hears her.”

“You need to decide,” Jodie said. “Jake and I are going to have to go soon, and we’re supposed to bring you with us if you’re going.”

“I’ve got a better idea.” The trio looked towards the door and saw a tall, grizzled looking man with a slightly unkempt beard, whom the doctors also completely ignored. “I say we find the people responsible for all this and visit a little righteous payback on their asses.”

 

Wealth and Taste, by Brother Grimace

 

Tiffany nibbled on a puffed rice cake with a thin layer of low-fat cream cheese when a gentle knocking on the door of her bedroom caused her to look up. She rose from her chair and went to the door; her eyes widened just a touch as she saw a nondescript, well-dressed man standing in the hall, eating a bowl of Rice Chex. "Hello, Tiffany. I see you've been having a bit of fun."

"Hello," she replied. "What... do... you... want?"

"Oh, from you? Nothing at all - at least for the immediate future. We have a deal, and I fully intend to honor my end of the bargain. May I come in?"

"My... parents... are... downstairs..."

"And enjoying one another's company as they haven't in some time," the man said, a jovial lilt in his voice as he stepped through the doorway; a throaty, feminine groan was just barely audible through the floor and over the television, and Tiffany immediately turned the volume up. "Oh, please. You've used sex like a strategic asset - pardon the pun - over the past couple of years, so hearing your parents making a baby shouldn't bother you at all. "

Without waiting for an invitation, the man sat down on the edge of Tiffany's bed. "I've come to give you a bit of a warning. You need to lay low right about now."

"I will," she promised; she'd learned that when the man cave an instruction, there was usually a very good reason for it. "Rice... cake?"

"No, thank you - I'm trying not to splurge."

 

A Tattered Web, by NightGoblyn


Andrea sat on her back porch, smoking a cigarette and talking on the phone.

“I’m probably getting out of the information business,” she said. “It’s getting dangerous . . . and I keep finding out things I wish I didn’t know.”

She nodded a couple of times as the other person spoke.

“Yeah, I know. But I did give you the heads up that Rowe threatened your sister, and I didn’t even charge you for it . . . I think we’re about even.”

She sat and listened, this time her eyebrows arcing sharply at the other person’s offer.

“Oh, really? Yeah, I’d love to have a copy of that . . . for my own personal stash if nothing else. Ok, deal . . . what do you need to know?”

The person on the other end of the line explained the situation.

“Wow, bummer. She was always so sweet.” Andrea finished her cigarette and stubbed out the butt in a nearby ashtray. “I don’t need my notes or anything to answer this one, though. Ted DeWitt-Clinton . . . he had a standing arrangement with me to contact him with anything that I came across involving her.”

She winced at what the other person had to say.

“I know, I know, I know. She’s not the only one that’s been hurt, and that’s one of the reasons I’m getting out of the information game. Maybe I’ll just publish my notebooks and watch the fur fly.”

Tori came out on the back porch, intent on showing her older sister the front page of the Lawndale Sun-Herald. The headline story was about the remains of Sandi Griffin being found in her parents’ burned mountain cabin. Andrea was on the phone with somebody, laughing about something.

Tori saw the little red dot coast across the porch and up Andrea’s shirt, settling on her forehead. With a frown, Tori looked around the backyard to see which of the youngest siblings was playing with the laser pointer.

She heard a loud thump from the woods behind the house, and a heavy, spattering sound from where her sister was sitting. Tori turned to look at Andrea.

The neighbors three houses down heard the screaming.

 

Insurance, by Brother Grimace

 

As Tiffany took the man's advice, she listened to an MP3 of one of her favorite pieces of music on her laptop's media player.

Three minutes later - it was done.

No matter what happens, she thought, if somehow, in some manner, if anything comes back upon me - or if something happens to me... everyone will regret it.

Typing in the code and then logging off, Tiffany rose from her chair and started down the hall with a tiny smile across her face. As she entered the bathroom, a phrase that someone had posted on the Internet made her smile widen:

Cry Havoc, and let loose the mice of war...

The Mice of War, Tiffany mused soundlessly, closing the door behind her. Let loose the mice of war.

Indeed.

 

The Mice of What!? I, by vlademir1


Roger cringed in fear from the darkly evil grin overhanging his little world in the shoebox like a malevolent moon. Somehow after escaping his personal hell for a period he had been thrust back into it.
Slowly as the weeks passed the intensity of his suffering increased until finally rather than try and run from it any longer he began to revel in it.
Something was different today though, something he couldn't put his finger on.
As the boy hooked him to his infernal machine, Roger couldn't break passed the lethargy he felt to even make as though to try and bite him. Then a respite came as the boy was called off to elsewhere in the house.
After a few moments the girl came into the room. She was the one who had brought this hell down on him. She looked at him with cold eyes, "You! You are the reason for this hell I've had to suffer, losing Kevie to that... that temptress."
She looked over the machine and a cold malevolent look came into her eyes. "I think nothing in a hundred years will suffer as you will."
The boy came back into the room as she turned the nob on the machine all the way around. "No!Not to 11!" He cried out as she ripped the nob off for good measure.
As the mousy scream of ultimate suffering filled the whole house and Roger felt himself falling into the dark gulf of death a line from a story he had read in his youth occurred to him, "Go then! There are other worlds than these!"

His Swift Sword II, by NightGoblyn

“Dad?” Jake asked, his voice full of disbelief.

“I’ve been waiting, Jake. Waiting to tell you how proud of you I am,” the old man said.

“Proud?”

The old man nodded.

“Of course,” Quinn said. “Dad, it’s the same with him as it is with us . . . the crazy is gone.”

“There is no illness of the body, when you’re made of spirit,” the old man said. “I’ve been looking after you and your girls, Jake. You’ve all done very well, all things considered.”

“I want to hear more about this righteous payback,” Jodie said. “You know who is responsible for all this?”

“Tiffany,” Quinn said, looking surprised. “My God, how did we all miss it? It’s so obvious now.”

“She’s just a piece on the board,” Mad Dog said sadly. “Don’t get me wrong . . . she’s a Queen alright, same as Daria, but they’re still just pieces on the board. I’m talking about something bigger.”

“Let’s go,” Quinn said decisively.

--

“Doctor . . . doctor,” the lead nurse said quietly. “Doctor, she’s gone.”

“I know,” the man said, and stepped back from the broken shell on the operating table. “Close her up, nurse. I’ll go start on the paperwork. Dammit.”

 

The Mice of What!? II, by Brother Grimace

 

As he felt himself falling into the dark gulf of Death, a high-pitched scream that could only have come from a teenaged girl hurt Roger's tiny ears and forced his eyes open, and then, a second animal death scream brought him back into the light!

Roger winced as something half-grabbed, half-bit at the scruff of his neck and pulled him from the machine; his eyes watered as the horrid smell of something burning rose up to fill his nostrils. "Roger! Roger! Are you okay?"

A small, furry paw kept batting him in his face, and Roger opened his eyes to see the face of a small squirrel. "Who... are you?" he said, with an adorable little mouse-cough.

I'm Squique the Leaper," the squirrel told him; Roger lifted his head just in time to see the evil, big-breasted blonde in full flight, several flying squirrels hanging onto her pigtails and sweater for dear life as the blonde tried to bat them away!

"What is that smell...?" Roger asked; Squique pointed, and the mouse looked over the edge of the table to see the charred, still-smoking corpse of a rather large squirrel, seared to the floor where he'd bitten through the electrical cord with one savage bite, sacrificing himself to shut off power to the machine. "Oh, no..."

"General Nutkin knew what he was doing," the squirrel said, waving a bat with an artifical tail in through the open window. "He said that we had to save you! Go!"

"Go where?"

"To save your human!" the squirrel said. "Well, she's supposed to be your human - it's all very confusing! The red-haired one-"

"Her? I don't care what happens to her-"

"Not the one who paints her face and lives with the girl that gave you to the evil blonde ones - the other redhead!" Squique cried out. "The one with the jewelry - who always fed you at the school! The one called Scarlett! Everything can be stopped if you help us save her! Hurry!"

Squique the Leaper made a spectacular jump through the window, followed by his squad of squirrel warriors. As he leapt, Roger heard his last words:

"Save the Goth - save the world!"

Roger clung tightly to the bat, and they flew out the window.

The Mice of What!? III, by NightGoblyn

 

Roger twitched awake from the bizarre nightmares, and found himself still trapped in yet another nightmare. He sat up and peered through the bars of the cage, confirming that he was still in Britany Taylor’s room.

Thank God she hasn’t told her brother I’m here. I don’t think I’d survive another run in with the little bastard.

The door opened and Britany came in. She quickly changed out of her cheerleader uniform, a sight that Roger had become accustomed to, and then came over and dropped some food pellets into the cage.

“You’re a nice mousie,” she said sadly, “but I really wish I had my Kevvie back. I can’t believe that Daria didn’t even keep him.”

Roger watched as she sat on the bed and pulled out her diary.

I’ve got to get out of here before that monster gets me.

“Hey, mouse.”

Roger squeaked in fright and spun around. The tall, heavy set goth girl that Scarlett knew was standing over the cage, stareing at him. Roger blinked and rubbed his eyes, convinced they were playing tricks on him since the girl was semi-transparent.

“You’re Roger, right? Scarlett’s mouse?”

Roger blinked at her.

“I know you can talk, so quit stalling.”

Roger looked at Britany, who was scribbling in her diary and oblivious to the girl standing over his cage.

“She can’t see me, or hear me. I’m dead,” Andrea said, “finally. God knows I’ve been waiting for it.”

“Oh,” Roger whispered. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Whatever. Look, Scarlett’s been kidnapped. Do you think you can find her?”

“Maybe, if I get close enough to smell her.”

“Aren’t you her familiar or something?”

“I guess, we never really talked about it.”

“Good enough. We have to get you out of this cage. You know anybody that could get up here and get you out? I can’t really do much anymore.”

“Actually, yeah. I know a couple of people that could help,” Roger said, with a mousey smile.

 

Office with a View, by NightGoblyn

Lawndale.

A peaceful, quiet suburban community full of upper middle-class people living their upper middle-class lives.

Fine, upstanding, law-abiding citizens.

Pawns.

In a high class, fancy neighbor hood a house sits . . . its front door standing open, and a trail of bloody footprints leading from the house to the driveway. From inside the house, faintly, one can hear the sorrowful howls of a grief stricken dog, a friend of the family who came to visit and discovered only the dead.

In a nearby home, a blonde cheerleader writes in her diary. She is dimly aware of the storm that rages around her, but doesn’t anticipate the winds that will very soon be blowing in her direction.

Across town, at the park, a couple is making out on a park bench. A semi-transparent goth girl materializes near by and glares at them.

“Geez, get a room you two,” she mutters as she drifts away. They do not hear, and continue unabated. Later, they will move to one of the jogging trails and the girl will become impregnated. Six months from now, when the boy refuses to admit he is the father, they will have a fight and one of them will be accidentally killed. I’m not sure which one.

In a yellow wooden house a young man with dark hair and his teenage lover rest from their endeavors. He whispers to her, the exact words unimportant. Men have whispered promises of protection and endearment since the beginning of language, most of them fools or liars. Soon he will assemble his knights and quest for the rescue of an imprisoned princess. I do not foresee his success.

Nearer and dearer, an imposing brick home. The yard and street are filled with police cars, lights strobing in the fading light of day. Two whom I know well weep on one another, as two others stand by and feel helpless. Ironic, that those who now feel helpless are the only ones who can threaten to change the course of things to come. I should tell my daughter this when I see her, she enjoys irony.

Closer still, down the hall. A wife and mother has received a terrible phone call from her sister. I wait to see what she will do. Yes, I could easily predict . . . but where’s the fun in that?

 

Eggs in a Basket, by NightGoblyn

 

Ted sat in his green VW Bug and watched. There was no way he was going to get a clean hit on his target with half of the Lawndale PD hanging around. He’d carried out the first half of his instructions cleanly, smoothly, and efficiently. Killing the goth hadn’t bothered him, especially when it occurred to him that she was one of the very few people who could connect him to Scarlett.

The second half of his instructions had also been easy. In the chaos that followed in the wake of the murder he’d slipped up to and into the house with no one noticing. All of Andrea’s notes, photos, and tapes had been in the banker’s box, exactly where he’d been told they’d be. The box was now in the back seat of the Bug.

Now, he was waiting for the chance to carry out the last part of the plan so he could return home and begin wooing his one true love. She would love him back, eventually.

He perked up when his target walked to a blue Lexus and got in the passenger’s side. Her sister climbed into the back, and the track girl was driving. They pulled away and he cranked his car and followed them. A few minutes later he drove past as they parked in the driveway of the house he’d been spying on at the beginning of the evening.

Well, well, well. Two birds and some unfortunate collateral damage with one stone.

He glanced over at the small, plastic photo frame dangling from his rearview mirror.

I’ll be home soon, my love.

 

The Beginning of the End I, by NightGoblyn

Brittany sat at her vanity, cheerfully humming as she brushed out her hair. She had already changed into a pair of jeans and a ratty old t-shirt, and grinned gleefully at the bottle of black hair dye waiting on the vanity top.

“I’m going to go have fun tonight,” she said, glancing over at Roger’s cage. “I’m tired of moping about Kevvie and that Daria.”

The doorbell rang, but Brittany didn’t pay much attention. A moment later, her bedroom door opened and a skinny blonde girl wearing a pastel green dress walked in and started looking around.

“Can I help you?” Brittany said, scowling at the intruder.

“No,” the girl responded, and whipped around towards Brittany with a hockey stick. The wooden blur was all Brittany saw before the sharp pain and everything going black. The other girl walked over to the mouse cage and peered in.

“You get stolen a lot, don’t you?” she said, opening the cage door.

“Very amusing, very amusing,” Roger muttered, climbing out of the cage and glaring up at the girl.

“Scarlett’s in trouble . . . again.”

“Yeah, the dead girl told me something about that before I asked her to find you,” Roger answered with a sigh. “Do we know where she is?”

“We think that Ted kidnapped her. Beth Anne is finding out where his house is, she should be calling me in a few minutes.”

“Ok,” Roger said, and climbed into the girl’s hand. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

“Cool,” she answered, putting Roger on her shoulder. “Oh, and if you ever sic a ghost on me again I’m gonna turn you into a rat-kabob, got it?”

 

The Beginning of the End II, by NightGoblyn

Jane settled Daria and Evie in the kitchen while she ran upstairs to get her brother.

“I’m sorry you got sucked into all this,” Daria said quietly.

“I’m not,” Evie answered. “I wish I’d been here all along . . . maybe things would be different, maybe we could have been a normal family.”

“Maybe,” Daria said with a shrug. “I guess we’ll never know.”

“Are you ok? I mean . . . I know you’re not ok . . . but are you going to . . . um . . . .”

“Have another psychotic break and develop a malevolent split personality that wreaks havoc across town?” Daria asked with a small smile. “No, I’m pretty sure I’m keeping myself together.”

“Jake seemed like a good man, I’m sorry he’s not my dad. Quinn was really ok, too . . . she didn’t start twisting until her girlfriend ended up in the hospital.”

“Yeah,” Daria said, staring guiltily at the table top. “Everybody was fine until Lynn showed up. I’ve ruined everything, and it’s my fault that Jake and Quinn are dead. Jodie, too, I guess. Maybe I should have shot myself for real.”

“No!” Evie protested. “What would that help?”

Daria shrugged. Before Evie could push any more, her cell phone began ringing.

“Ricky Martin?” Daria asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“Shut up,” Evie answered, and answered the phone. “Hello? . . . Yes, that’s me . . . Evie, please . . . what!? . . . oh my God . . . yes, she’s with me . . . I’ll . . . I’ll tell her . . . no, not now please . . . her husband and oldest daughter both just died . . . I’ll be in touch . . . thank you, sir . . . goodbye.”

“Now what?”

Evie gave Daria a long, searching look.

“Just tell me, Evie.”

“Helen . . . shot herself . . . she’s dead. That was her boss, he said for you to call him if you needed anything.”

“Oh,” Daria said, and then smiled a gallows grin. “And then there were two.”

“You’re counting your chicks before they’ve hatched.” Both girls looked over at the kitchen door and saw a young man with glasses and blond hair. He had a silenced pistol in one hand, pointed at Daria.


Cry Havok, by NightGoblyn (with thanks to The Angst Guy)

Tananda scowled down at the couple sprawled across the hand-woven living room rug.

“Krissie, I told you not to hit both of them,” she growled, glaring at the other girl.

“I didn’t,” she protested, “it was Krissy!”

“Not my fault,” the second girl said. “I only hit one of ‘em, Chrissy hit the guy.”

“No, she didn’t,” Chrissee called out from the kitchen, “I did. Sorry, Tananda.”

“Brain dead, all of you,” Tananda muttered under her breath. Raising her voice, she shouted “Ok, search the house people. Scarlett is here somewhere.”

“Hey, Tan, Angel found something in the basement,” Chrissee yelled.

“I’m on my way.”

A few minutes later, she was frowning at the heavy door set into the basement wall. She didn’t know much about architecture or materials, but she knew that this was a door meant to survive a beating. She reached into her field hockey bag and pulled out an ornate dagger. Muttering a word to herself, she flicked the dagger with her wrist and it suddenly grew into a heavy broadsword. A second later, red and orange flame burst to life around the blade.

She swung the sword at the door, and a chunk of wood flew free. A second swing and there were sparks as she struck steel. She knew the sword would hack through the door eventually, but this was taking too long. She waved her sword around in the air and it shrunk back down to dagger length. Returning it to the bag, she pulled out an ornate looking letter opener in a tooled leather sheath. She unsheathed the knife and glared at it.

“I know you’re not mine, but we need to get through this door, ok?”

The dagger flickered a second, as if considering the girl’s statement. It then lengthened to become a lightly balanced long sword, its blade shimmering and glowing in the dim light of the basement. It hummed loudly as she swung it against the door, hacking down the obstruction in a few quick swings.

Scarlett looked up, hearing the one-of-a-kind hum from behind the door to Ted’s hide-out. White light flickered around the door and it fell in with a crash.

“Tananda!” she yelled, leaping to her feet and smiling broadly.

“Scarlett!” Roger called, peeking out from under Tananda's hair.

“I am so glad to see both of you!”

“Your new boyfriend is weird,” Tananda observed, staring at Scarlett’s chains and scanty outfit.

“He is so not my boyfriend,” Scarlett answered. “Just get me out of here so I can get dressed.”

Tananda made short work of the bars, and then frowned at the chains and cuffs again. “What do we do about them?”

“Hand me the scabbard.”

Tan handed over the leather knife sheath, and Scarlett sighed quietly.

“Ok, cut the chains off me.”

“This is gonna hurt,” Tananda said, and started swinging. A few seconds later the restraints were on the ground and Scarlett was rubbing the sore places on her wrists where the sword had passed though her. She stepped around her friend and headed straight for Ted’s creepy collection, picking out an outfit for herself.

“Where to now?” Tananda asked, looking away while Scarlett dressed.

“I’ve been meditating on that,” she replied, taking her sword and sheathing it. She tucked the letter opener away in a skirt pocket and headed for the stairs up.

“I hate it when she's mysterious,” Roger muttered.

With a small shrug, the Knight Captain followed her Princess.

 

The Beginning of the End III, by NightGoblyn

“It’s not personal,” Ted said calmly. “I just owe a few favors. You know how it is.”

Daria nodded and stared at the gun in his hand. Evie snatched a knife off the kitchen table and lunged, burying it in Ted’s gut. Ted cried out in shock and pain, and turned towards the young redhead. He shot her twice before stumbling back against the wall heavily.

“Evie!” Daria screamed. Ted squeezed a shot off at her as she ducked under the kitchen table.

Ted staggered away from the wall with a curse and took a couple of steps into the kitchen. Before he could find Daria, Trent ran though the door and tackled him. Trent gave guttural battle cry, and Ted screamed in pain as the knife was knocked out of his stomach to skitter across the floor.

The gun coughed again and Trent cried out in pain. Ted roughly shoved the larger man aside and rose to one knee. He and Daria locked eyes under the table and the pistol came up again.

“So help me,” he growled. “You are going to die.”

“Like hell!” Jane shouted running into the kitchen with Jennifer right behind. Jane lifted the putter she was carrying high and made a perfect slice to the back of Ted’s skull. The head of the club impacted with a wet crunch, and Daria saw the light go out in Ted’s eyes almost immediately. Jane let go of the club as the body slumped to the floor, and it stuck up from the back of his head like an obscene flag.

Jane and Jennifer started checking on Trent, and Daria crawled across the floor to the still form of the girl she’d considered both sister and daughter.

“Evie,” she whispered, turning the girl’s face towards her.

Evie blinked at her, and Daria noticed that the redhead’s glasses were askew. Gently, she straightened them and tried not to look at the blood spreading across the floor.

“You have to go,” Evie said before succumbing to a coughing fit.

“Don’t talk, we’ll get you an ambulance.”

“Listen to me,” Evie snapped, grabbing Daria’s shoulder with one bloody hand. “You have to go back to the beginning. You have to go back to where it started. You . . . you have to make it right, Daria. You . . . you have to . . . you . . . .”

“Oh, God. Evie.”

“Can you hear them?” Evie asked, her eyes dimming as her grip on Daria’s shoulder loosened. “Can you hear them, Daria? They sound like teeth . . . you have to stop them before . . . it’s too late. You . . . .”

Evie exhaled and was still. Daria wept.

Amiga?”

“She’s dead. How’s Trent?”

“I’m good,” Trent grumbled. “This, like, really hurts, though.”

“I have to go,” Daria said, rising to her feet. “I’m sorry.”

“Go with her,” Trent said, looking at Jane. “She shouldn’t be driving.”

“I can’t leave you,” Jane protested.

“She needs you more than I do.” Trent winced against the pain. “Jen’ll get me an ambulance, go.”

Jane nodded reluctantly and followed Daria out of the kitchen and into the living room, where she suddenly stopped and ran back into the kitchen. She grabbed the putter with both hands and wrenched it out of Ted’s skull with a wet pop, and then hurried to catch up with Daria.

“Where’s the phone?” Jennifer asked.

“Don’t matter,” Trent said. He moved his hand and a flood of bright red blood streamed out of a second wound. “Just sit with me, ok?”

 

Bleed Over, by Brother Grimace

 

The entire room suddenly shaded into a thin, all-consuming shade of red; anyone watching - well, they couldn't, for it seemed that the entire area, the entire city, the entire planet...

Time had stopped.

In the kitchen where carnage had reigned only seconds before, a thick, viscuous point of arterial red energy seemed to slice into reality, opening a fluttering, fleshy gash in the very fabric of space/time for a young woman to easily walk through

She was tall, but trim and attractive, with short auburn hair, and wore a stylish pair of glasses; as she looked around the room, the young woman's face took on a somber expression, and she knelt down besides the tall, slender man nursing two wounds... "Quarry-Actual, this is Peters. I've bridged The Bleed, and temporal stasis has been achieved. This is the right Q/P frequency and the right dimension - D-three-five-seven. The area is secured - send the Doctor through."

The words had barely left her mouth when a woman in the same dark-gray uniform stepped through the undulating trans-dimensional gash, her eyes looking around the room. "This is 2007?"

"We're in the right place," the younger woman said, pointing to the limp body of Evie Morgendorffer. "Hurry up - a stasis field of this size will only last ninety seconds before it naturally dissipates, and if we get caught operating here-"

"I'll hurry," the woman said. brushing her heavy mane of long, dark hair back as she knelt down besides Evie's form and let her hands penetrate into the young woman's torso. "I hate seeing young people torn up like this, I see too many-"

"Sixty-seven seconds - less talk, more grafting!"

The sound of a bullet striking the floor made an eerie, hollow sound that reverberated through the area; moments later, a second sound followed and the woman rose from the floor. "Repaired the major damage and replaced four-fifths of her blood supply; it'll appear as if she was lucky and the rounds passed clean through, so she passed out for shock. Morgendorffer will survive."

"Forty-three seconds." The younger woman turned to look at Trent. "Doctor-"

The older woman's large brown eyes narrowed. "Look, I know that the Lanes are important to you, but-"

"Thirty-nine, Doc. Do it!"

"The deal with the Trainors was for just the youngest Morgendorffer and no one else - you know that - "

"Thirty-five, Doc..."

"Jane, look-"

The young woman's face went ice-cold, and the older woman relented. "Fine," she said, and reached inside Trent's torso for several seconds. "There. I repaired the damage to the organs and replaced roughly half of the blood he's lost, but left the knife wound - any doctor of this period will think that he's just lucky. If he's smart enough to get to a hospital, he'll survive."

The doctor glanced over at Ted's body. "What about him?"

"Screw him with a chainsaw. He tried to kill my family." She looked at the older woman. "You know what I mean. Twenty-two seconds."

Tapping the earpiece she wore, the younger woman spoke up. "Quarry-Actual, this is Peters. Mission complete. Drop the Storm Door; Doctor Todds and I are coming back through."

Seven seconds later - time resumed its normal course.

 

The End I, by NightGoblyn

Jane smoothly pulled the Lexus up to the parking meter in front of the office building, and then glanced over at her best friend. Daria had told her where to drive, and after that had been silent for the whole trip.

“So are you gonna tell me why we’re here?”

“Evie said I had to close the circle, that I had to go back to the beginning.”

“Ok, assuming that she was having some sort of clarity-of-death prophecy moment, which I don’t completely buy into, why here? Didn’t this mess really start at the Zon, when you met Tom?”

“No,” Daria answered with a frown. “This is where I broke, this is where Lynn was born. This is where my real father is, and it’s time I had a nice chat with dear old Dad.”

Daria left the car and Jane followed along, pausing only long enough to get the gore spattered putter out of the trunk. The two girls stepped through the front doors of the building, avoiding all the broken glass from the shattered left-hand door. Daria stepped over the unconscious security guard and pressed the call button on the elevator.

“Looks like somebody got here ahead of us,” Jane said quietly.

“I don’t think it matters.”

The elevator dinged and the doors slid open smoothly.

“Hi,” Andrea said quietly. “We’ve been waiting for you.”

Daria nodded, and she stepped into the elevator. Jane followed, and the two living girls watched as Andrea selected the correct floor. The doors slid shut and the elevator began to move.

“Good luck,” Andrea said as the elevator stopped. The doors slid open and the living girls exited. Jane followed Daria down the hall, where the shorter girl paused in front of Helen’s office. She lightly ran her fingertips over the door and sighed.

“Do you want to go in there?”

“No, and I don’t need to. He murdered her, you know.”

“Somehow, I’m not surprised.”

Daria and Jane walked to the end of the hall, to the final office.

“Come in,” a man called from inside.

Daria pushed the door open and entered her father’s office, Jane loyally at her heels. The office was huge, which was a good thing since there were many people inside. About half a dozen girls stood in the corner near the door, one of them holding a flaming sword. Jim Vitale sat behind his desk, and a short redhead in black sat across from him. Daria sat in the other empty chair, Jane standing behind her.

“Hello, Father. Hi, Scarlett.”

“I am so very proud of you,” Vitale said. “You have brought this town to its knees, daughter. The body count alone is staggering.” He took a drag off his cigar and gave her a wintry smile. “You could stand to learn a few pointers about subtlety, though.”

“I’m sorry,” Daria said, looking at Scarlett. “I wish they could hear me say it.”

“They can,” Scarlett replied, and nodded towards the formerly unoccupied corner of the room.

Daria glanced over and saw Jake and Helen, their arms around one another as they smiled at her. Charles stood nearby; Sandi, Stacy, and Quinn were arrayed behind him in bright white robes and adorned with golden wings. Jodie flashed her a smile and a quick thumb’s up.

“You are letting sentiment cloud your judgment,” Vitale said. “You won, they lost. You live, they died. Celebrate your superiority, enjoy the rewards you have earned for yourself.”

“Not too long ago,” Daria said, turning towards her father. “We sat here, in this office, and shared a drink. You explained a philosophy to me, and I lived by your creed for a time. Now, I want to explain a philosophy to you.”

“As you wish,” Vitale said indulgently.

“This world is like a ride in an amusement park,” Daria said, her old smirk slowly surfacing. “And it’s fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: is this real, or is this just a ride?”

Daria looked at her dead loved ones again, and continued, “Other people have remembered, and they come back to us and they say, ‘Hey, don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.’ And we . . . I . . . killed those people.”

She turned back to Vitale. “You have a lot invested in this ride. Look at your furrows of worry, look at your big bank account, and your family. You think this has to be real, but it’s just a ride.”

“We always kill those good guys who tell us that,” Scarlett said, nodding. “You ever notice that? We kill them, and let the demons run amok. We can change it any time we want, Daria. It’s all in your choice . . . no effort, no work, no job, no savings of money: a choice, right now between fear and love.”

“Love is a chemical reaction in the brain, identical to the results of eating a chocolate bar,” Vitale snarled.

Scarlett stood, and pulled a small silver dagger from her skirt pocket. It lengthened and became a well balanced long sword, the blade flickering and glowing as if made of light.

“Is that?” Daria asked.

“The Sword of the Just,” Scarlett replied solemnly. “By the ancient oath: Might shall serve Right.”

“Jane,” Daria said, also standing. “If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, absent thee from felicity awhile, and in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain, to tell my story.”

Amiga?” Jane asked weakly. “You’re not?”

Daria turned her back to Scarlett and locked eyes with her best friend. “Remember me, Jane. I love you. The rest is silence.”

Jane watched as the redhead stepped up behind Daria, saw the bright blade emerge from her friend’s chest. Daria’s eyes widened, and the thrum of the sword filled the room.

The End II, by NightGoblyn

There was no pain.

Everything was dark, and silent, and the cool nothing wrapped around her skin and comforted her.

I have skin. That’s new.

Daria faintly heard a rattling noise. As it grew louder it resolved into a series of distinct clacks, falling in rapid succession. The sound made her think of a gigantic skull, its teeth rattling around its jaws as it laughed at her. Suddenly, and without thought, she reached out with her right hand and grasped something.

The noise stopped. The object in her hand was warm to the touch, a solid and clean edged rectangle. She was standing in a small room, a bed off to her right and a computer desk to her left. A man wearing glasses and with a goatee, dressed in grey shorts and a blue t-shirt leaned back in his chair at the desk.

“Daria,” he said with a smile. “Care for a soda? Glass of tea?”

“No thanks,” she answered looking around. “Is this hell?”

“No. Well, not for you, anyway.”

“Who are you?”

“Think of me as an architect.”

“An architect?”

“Yes, I build worlds. Small ones, but there you go. A small audience is better than none at all, you know.”

“I suppose,” Daria said, frowning. “Did you make me?”

“Not the first you, but there are many copies.”

“What is this, Battlestar Galactica?”

“No,” the man replied with a chuckle. “But I’m willing to bet you just gave somebody an idea.”

“I’m confused.”

“Let me demonstrate,” the man said. He rifled through the debris on his desk until he found a deck of Tarot cards.

“The Lovers,” he said, holding up the card. He somehow fanned out the single card into a spread and Daria leaned forward to look. On one card, she saw herself and Jane kissing passionately. One the next, she was cuddling quietly with her sister’s friend Stacy. The next showed her sleeping in a hospital bed with a bandage covered young man. The next showed her walking down a sidewalk with Trent on one arm and Tom on the other. The last one showed a red haired man on one knee in front of her, offering her a ring.

“The Tower,” the man said, flicking the cards around again. Daria saw a multistory building, a third of which stood much taller than the rest causing it to look like the letter ‘L’. The next card showed an impossibly tall, dark tower . . . and she could barely make out herself and a few companions at the base. The next, nonsensically, showed what appeared to be the inside of a cave. The last was an image of her room at home, padded walls and all.

“The World,” he said. The images on these cards whirled and flickered almost faster than Daria could see. She saw herself, sometimes with friends, sometimes alone. She was in situations far removed from anything she’d imagined . . . she saw herself over and over as a criminal, a superhero, a cowgirl, a saint, a murderess, a victim, a savior, a sister, a mother, a daughter, a friend, an enemy, until she finally turned her head away.

“I think I understand,” she said quietly. “I guess you’re going to be the one to judge me?”

“I’m not really qualified,” the man answered with a shrug. “Why don’t you try judging yourself?”

“I did terrible things,” Daria said. “But it’s not like I acted in a vacuum. I’m responsible for what I did, but people around me did things . . . affected my judgment . . . I don’t know if I’m guilty or innocent.”

“So you’re just like everybody else.”

“You make worlds,” Daria said, her fierce gaze locking on the man. “Can you fix mine?”

“Define ‘fix’.”

“Restart things, put me back before everything went wrong and let me try again.”

“Without some kind of outside interference events would unfold in the same manner . . . in fact, this may have already happened at least once. Not that you’d know that.”

“Then let me know what’s going to happen so I can change it.”

“You want to go through life knowing that you nearly caused the corruption and death of everyone you care about? Even I’m not that cruel.”

Daria sighed quietly and glanced down at the object in her hand. It was a domino . . . the smooth, numberless one.

“You caught it just in time,” the man said. “It was the last one. It’s your blank slate, Daria . . . the beginning or the end. You decide.”

“If only everyone hadn’t lied so much,” Daria said with a sigh.

“What’s that?”

“I was just saying . . . if everyone hadn’t been lying about everything . . . maybe things would have been better.”

“Honesty can be cruel,” the man answered, nodding. “And I am that cruel. Give me the domino.”

Daria reached out, offering the game piece to the man in the chair. The smooth tile touched his fingers and the world was flooded with a bright white light . . . .

 

Epilogue I, by NightGoblyn

. . . the bright light slowly faded, and . . .

Jake Morgendorffer was looking forward to his day. He had to drop his daughters off at their new school, and then he was heading for a brunch meeting with the first client of Morgendorffer Consulting. He glanced to his right, at his youngest daughter, and then in the rearview mirror at his oldest daughter.

“Girls,” he said gently, “I just want you to know your mother and I realize it's not easy moving to a whole new town . . . especially for you, Quinn, right?”

“Did we move?” Quinn asked with a slight smirk.

Jake chuckled and shook his head. “I just know you were sad to leave all your friends in Highland, that’s all.”

“It’ll be ok, Daddy,” Quinn answered. “I can make new friends, and I’ll be busy watching out for the twerp here.”

“Twerp?” Veronica asked, arching an eyebrow. “I see your pride is still stinging from those IQ tests we took at the end of last semester.”

“Girls,” Jake repeated. When he had their attention, he continued, “The first day at a new school is bound to be difficult, so don't get upset if it takes the other kids a little while to warm up to you.”

“We’ll be fine, Dad,” Veronica said as the car pulled to a stop. “See, Daria is already here waiting for us.”

The two redheads climbed out of the blue Lexus and waved at their father as he pulled away, and then walked up the steps to Daria and a thin, black-haired girl they didn’t know.

“Hey,” Daria said with a small smile. “Welcome to your personal hell, also known as Fielding Prep. Quinn, Ronnie . . . this is my best friend, Elsie Sloane. Elsie, my cousins Quinn and Ronnie.”

The girls smiled and nodded as they walked towards the school building.

“So, what’s to do for fun around here?” Quinn asked.

“Well,” Elsie answered, “sometimes we go slumming at this rock club down on Dega Street. That’s where Daria met her current love-muffin.”

“Love . . . muffin?” Veronica asked, watching Daria’s face turn bright red.

“Yeah, you guys will love Jane,” Elsie said, grinning widely at her friend’s embarrassment. “She’s real people, not like the fakers you meet around here.”

“Speaking of which,” Daria said, “if either of you have any trouble with anybody, you let me know. I’m the Queen of High Society around here, and I’ve already let it be known that my baby cousins are not to be trifled with.”

Epilogue II, by Brother Grimace

Tiffany Blum-Deckler leaned against the railing as Sandi Griffin and Stacy Rowe walked with the three boys they referred to as 'the Three J's'... of course, they knew their names, but it was a game that they played with their boyfriends.

She watched as Joey brushed his black hair out of his eyes and smiled at her; she returned his smile, and took his hand as they walked through the front doors of Lawndale High.

In a way, it's a happy beginning for everyone, she mused silently; somehow, she was the only one who was aware of everything that had happened Before... and, she reflected, she was glad of this outcome. It's a second chance for all of them, she thought. Quinn and Sandi would have never been happy in one another's orbits, and Daria... I'm glad that They allowed her and Jane to remain friends. In every universe - well, almost every universe - it's a better reality when they're together.

A strikingly attractive woman in her mid-forties, with short-cropped scarlet hair and a scandalous canary-yellow leather outfit stepped up to Tiffany, and whispered in her ear. "Well done," the woman said in a formal English accent. "Ditch the boy-toy, and let's talk."

Tiffany kissed Joey on the cheek and released his hand. "Be right back."

Joey nodded, and Tiffany walked over to the other side of the hall, opening her cell phone to cover her conversation with the older woman. "Time's shifted back almost a year, maybe further!"

"I know," the woman said, looking around the hall and focusing on a trio of muscular football players. "Mmmmmm... high-school football players. Old enough to do the job, and young enough to be taught to do it right. Best of both worlds."

Tiffany sighed. "Well, it would seem that The Other Side won this one - and that they got a complete reboot as their reward. On the bright side, since it wasn't our fault that they won, we're not going to be penalized in any fashion. Your manipulations, it seems, actually impressed the Other Side."

The Asian girl's face fell, and she turned to look into her reflection in the highly-shined glass truphy case next to her... as she did so, the reflection she saw was of an attractive, blond-haired woman in her twenties. "Zoey..."

"Yes, that means we're still a team... for now." Zoey said, holding up a small device in her hand. "Interesting... Lothos has no clear target for you - this will be a blind Leap, it seems. See you soon, cupcake."

A shimmering aura of scarlet energy seemed to flow suddenly from Tiffany, followed by numerous arcs of electrical energy...

...and Alia Novack Leaped.


Disclaimers: Stereo Hifi font is ©1997 by Cathy Davies. This story based on characters and situations created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis. The Daria TV show is a trademark of MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International Inc. and is referenced here without permission, and without profit. Original characters and situations created by the author are under (K) – all rights reversed. Hail Eris.

 

 

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