See You In The Funny Papers
Copyright July 2001
Synopsis: Daria becomes very interested in a new comic strip in the Lawndale Sun-Herald.
All characters are property of MTV/Viacom, Glenn Eichler, Susie Lewis-Lynn, and the staff of Daria. The story itself is mine. If you wish to post this story to your site please do not change or alter this work of fiction. Please feel free to post this story but leave my email address for further feedback or comments.
This story takes place during Season Five. There are no spoilers to speak of but some of the comments do reference scenes from various Season Five episodes. For those that have seen these episodes, you will know what they are.
For those that have not, then these references should not detract from the story in any way.
My special thanks to MMan and Corvus Marinus for beta-reading this story. Their suggestions and encouragement were gratefully appreciated.
Beginning of Act I
<Music: Could It Be - Jahiem>
<SCENE - The story starts at sunrise with an outside shot of House Morgendorffer >
<SHIFT SCENE - Kitchen: Jake Morgendorffer is seated at the table reading the Lawndale Sun-Herald newspaper. Quinn is looking in the refrigerator, and Daria is popping some Sugar Tarts into the toaster. Helen Morgendorffer walks into the kitchen with her attaché in one hand, and her cell phone in the other. She is chatting away on her cell phone with Eric, her boss, as the scene begins.>
Helen: ...but Eric, all I'm saying is that there 'might' be a conflict of interest by taking the Ultra Cola lawsuit against the Lawndale Independent School District for breach of contract AND accepting Ms. Angela Li's civil suit against Ultra Cola for mental anguish...
Daria: (Looks up at her mother as she enters the kitchen) Lawyers: The Pit Bulls of Justice. (Daria pushes down the lever on the toaster) They never stop. They never rest.
While Helen gives Daria one of her motherly frowns, Eric's voice can be heard, indistinctly, coming from the cell phone,
Helen: What Eric? (Looking shocked) But Eric, that's my daughters' way of...well she has a very unique sense of...yes...but...you can't really mean...<Gasp> Eric! We can't use THAT as a company
Daria: (smirking) Gee mom, it seems that Eric knows his place in the scheme of things a lot better than you do. I guess that's why he's the boss.
Helen: (Replies in exasperation) Daria...
Helen listens as Eric's muffled voice continues to speak from her cell phone.
Helen: (Gives a huge resigned sigh) Eric says thanks for the compliment. (She rolls her
The Sugar Tarts pop out of toaster and Daria looks at them grimly.
Daria: And the truth will set you free.
Helen continues to talk to Eric as Quinn lifts her head out of the refrigerator with a can of diet soda.
Quinn: I have an important pre-school emergency meeting of the Fashion Club to attend so I can't stay. Bye!
Daria: Pre-school and The Fashion Club are terms that seem to go together for some reason, at least in regards to behavior and intelligence.
Quinn: Oh ha ha Daria. (Quinn exits)
Helen: (Hangs up her cell phone and says out loud) Eric has not been the same since he got out of rehab. (she glances at a smirking Daria who obviously heard her remark. Helen starts to stammer) Um, I mean back from vacation!
Daria: It seems like he needs to stay on 'vacation' for another 28 days. I think his brains are still scrambled from those amphetamine lunches he's been on for the last 3 years.
Helen: (Appalled) Daria!
Daria: C'mon Mom, you know it's true. Besides, this could be your chance at an early partnership...
Helen: (Contemplating) Hmmmm....
Daria: ...and Eric can serve as a shining example of what that future holds for you.
Helen: (Worriedly) Hmmmm...
Jake: (Slams down the newspaper and shouts) GAHDAMMIT! We finally get rid of 'Kathy' and then they replace her comic strip with another one featuring a feminist, male-baiting, neurotic female?! Will the emasculation of the American male never end?!
Helen and Daria look angrily at Jake.
Jake glances up and stares down both his daughter and his wife. Daria and Helen's expressions go from anger to puzzlement. Jake rifles through the newspaper on the table, snatches the sports section, his attaché, and silently heads out the back door.
Daria: (looking at her mother) Mom? What's wrong with Dad?
Helen: (with a very puzzled look) For once, I don't know Daria, I really don't know.
Daria and Helen can hear tires screech in the background. Suddenly there is the sound of a horn honking, and Jake screaming "Gahdammit!". Then the sound of tires screeching again and a car driving away.
Daria: Mom, I...(Daria is interrupted by Helen's cellular phone going off. Helen answers it and furtively looks at her daughter.
Helen: Oh hi Eric, ... yes I'm on my way. (Helen nods goodbye at Daria and then turns away. She grabs her attaché and leaves the kitchen.)
Daria: (Gives a contented sigh) Alone again, naturally.
Daria spies the newspaper and sits down at the table to read it. Just as she picks up the Comic section Jane walks in.
Jane: Yo! Are you ready to go to school?
Daria: How did you get in?
Jane: I was just about to knock on the door when your mother came out. I think I've said it before but that cellular phone is going to become permanently attached to her arm one day.
Daria: (Holds up her hand to ear) Death to Videodrome. Long live the New Flesh!
Daria: I think that decides what film we are going to watch on 'Bad Movie Night' this Sunday.
Jane: I can hardly wait amiga. C'mon grab your bag. We'll be late for school.
Daria gets up from the table and leaves the kitchen with Jane. We pan down to the comics' page and there is a comic strip called 'Darya'. The girl in the first panel looks oddly familiar. She is wearing a black leather jacket, white t-shirt, pleated red skirt, knee high Doc-Martin boots, glasses and a plain expression. The strip begins with a teacher, who looks very much like Mr. O'Neill, asking questions of his students. Then we pan to the end panel which reads "I respect my superiors. Now if only I could find some."
<Music: You're Standing On My Neck - Splendora>
End of Act I
Beginning of Act II
<Music: Nothing Can Stop Us Now - St Etienne>
<SCENE - Daria and Jane walking to school >
Daria: ...and then my father goes on this ant-feminist rant because of some comic strip in the newspaper.
Jane: Gee Daria, I always knew your father was a time bomb, but to go into an anti-feminist rant in front of you, AND your mother, seems like the act of an angry psychotic.
Daria: (she looks at Jane angrily) Hey! That's my father you're talking about. (beat) Besides he's ALWAYS been an angry psychotic, he's just never been so...
Jane: ...so militantly male before? Maybe Ms Barch is right and all males are latent, unknowing, dog soldiers in the occupational army of the Patriarchate.
Daria: I told you to stop reading those Vagina Militia pamphlets that Ms. Barch keeps passing out.
Jane: It gives me something to read when I'm looking for inspiration.
Daria: It also gets you a better grade in Ms Barch's class when she notices you reading one.
Jane: (Defensively) Hey, I'm a right-brained person, an artist. Science is not one of my favorite subjects.
Daria: Nor will it be for any male surviving Ms Barch's class.
<Daria and Jane walk off screen.>
< Music: I've Had It - Danielle Brisebois>
<SHIFT SCENE - In the school hallway, with the bell ringing. Jane and Daria are leaving Mr. DeMartino's class.>
Jodie approaches Daria and Jane.
Jane: Yo Jodie...
Jodie: (quickly) Yeah hi, look Daria could I talk to you at lunch. It's very important. I'll meet you on the roof. Okay. Bye. (Jodie immediately walks away)
Daria: (looking disconcerted) What the hell was that all about?
Jane: I guess you'll find out on the roof, at lunch. And so will I.
Daria: You are so nosy.
Jane: Damn straight. How else do you expect to know what's going on. (beat) Would you want me any other way? (Jane sees Daria's thoughtful expression) DON'T answer that.
<Music: Mudshovel - Staind>
<SHIFT SCENE - The Lawndale High School roof. Jane and Daria advance on a waiting Jodie>
Daria: Okay Jodie, what's this all about.
Jodie: (Nervously) Have you looked at the comics' section of the Lawndale Sun-Herald lately?
Jane: I don't read the comics anymore. Not after the Sun-Herald pulled Zippy (beat) and that was a very long time ago.
Jodie pulls out the what looks like the color Sunday Comics' section of the paper and points at a particular comic strip.
<Close up of Daria's face as it goes from shock, then puzzlement, and then finally anger.>
Jane: (Looking around Daria's shoulder) Darya? Wow! That could be a dead ringer for you!
The scene takes place with 'Darya' in a classroom talking to someone sitting beside her. In the third panel you can finally see whom 'Darya' is talking to. The girl has a short black hair cropped high on top, I guess you would call her haircut punk rock or skater' with the sides and back shaved. However the face is strikingly familiar. A teacher is at the chalkboard in the end panel and 'Darya' says to the girl seated next to her, "If teachers really had eyes in the back of their heads, school would be a lot cooler."
Daria: (Sneers and points at 'Darya's friend') Look at her sidekick 'Jill'.
Jane: (Getting angry herself) I don't believe this!
Jodie: Yeah that is a little too close for comfort. Look I've only been reading the strip a couple of days but I've also seen characters that mimic other Lawndale students and a few teachers. (Jodie looks at Daria, then Jane, and then back at Daria) What are you guys going to do?
Daria: Who created this strip (Daria squints at the paper) B. Fine? What kind of name is that?
Jane: You're a writer Daria. You know. It's called a pseudonym.
Daria: (She lets out her breath) We'll have to go to the public library and read the older strips. After that it's on to the Internet and see if we can find more on this, this jerk, who is making money on my angst-ridden teenage life.
Jane: Where in the world did he get an idea for a red skirt?
Daria: I used to wear one in Highland before I got here. (points at Darya in the strip) I was going to wear that outfit here but I chose to change my ensemble at the last minute. (beat) The person who drew this strip might have been someone I knew back in Texas.
Jane: Did this person hide in your trunk when you moved here? Because he sure knows a lot about Lawndale. (Turns to Jodie) Thanks for letting us know.
Jodie: Keep in touch. I want to know how this plays out.
Daria: And please keep quiet about this.
Jodie: Well I won't say anything. But this comic is published in a local paper. And people have eyes, and brains. They can put two and two together just like I did.
Daria: Not at Lawndale High . Consider yourself officially 'different'.
Jodie: (sarcastically) Thanks Daria.
Daria: Besides most high school students don't read the paper anymore. They have the Internet now (beat) and all the free porn they can shake, um, a mouse pointer at.
Jane: (Turning to Daria) The games afoot. I guess we better follow up on this after school. (muttering) Jill?! Damn!
<Jane and Daria leave Jodie and head to the stairwell. Jodie looks at them disappear down the steps with a skeptical expression.>
<Music: The Nobodies - Marilyn Manson>
End Act II
Beginning Act III
<Music: Purple Hills - D12 featuring Eminem>
<SCENE - The Lawndale Public Library. Jane and Daria are seated at a table stacked with newspapers. Both of them are reading the Comic section of different editions.>
Looking over Daria shoulder you can see the 'Darya' comic strip she is reading. You see two figures that obviously look like Kevin and Brittany. As they go giggling off in a lover's stupor, the end panel has 'Darya' saying "People who live happily ever after are into some serious denial."
Daria: It seems the comic has only been in the Sun-Herald for about 3 weeks.
Jane: Yeah whoever writes this comic sure doesn't like 'Mr. O'Donnell' much. He rips into this teacher every other day.
Daria: Yeah but he's also got kind of a soft spot for 'Mr. Martin' though.
Jane pushes the newspapers from her in exasperation, "This is getting pretty creepy."
Daria: Yes it is. (beat) You know what really bugs me? This guy reduces my life to so much cynical haiku. (yawning and stretching) I guess our next stop is the Internet.
Jane: Well, that's something you are going to have to do on your own m'girl. I have to take my afternoon run before it gets dark.
Daria: Oooookay. (beat) Given the all the shocking news I've received today, I almost forgot that Tom is coming over. Well, anyway, I guess I'll enlist him in this mystery. (Daria looks at Jane) Watson your fired!
Jane: Well, I guess there's nothing more for me to do but write my memoirs, and make more money off of your celebrity.
Daria: (Daria looks sharply at Jane) That's not funny!
Jane: (Jane looks at Daria for a moment) Then don't fire your friends Daria, you never know when you'll need them again. (Jane smiles at Daria and then grabs her backpack) Do you want me to walk you home?
Daria: (looking abashed) Yeah, let's get these newspapers back to the main desk.
<SHIFT SCENE - Daria's bedroom. Tom is sitting on Daria's bed watching, of course, Sick Sad World, and Daria is at her computer. You hear the SSW theme music playing in the background.>
SSW Announcer: What do you get when you cross a Web Cam Girl's information obsession with a desire to create the World Wide Web's largest search engine?
The Info Nympho.com! Next on Sick Sad World!
Tom: Actually infonympho.com has to be one of the best search engines out there.
Daria: And here I thought Sick Sad World was only a televised outlet for tabloid trash with no socially redeeming value or any connection to reality whatsoever.
Tom: I hope that revelation doesn't stop you from watching the show.
Daria: Not a chance. (she clicks away on the keyboard) I'm still looking for any record of 'my' comic strip. I even tried looking for the comics' publisher 'Diamond Features Syndicate' but there is no record of it anywhere. (Sighs) I'll call the Lawndale Sun-Herald in the morning to get more information...I guess.
Tom: What's wrong. Isn't it great to be a star? Or are you concerned that your 15 minutes of fame is going to be wasted on being the lead character in a newspaper comic strip.
Daria: What I really wanted to waste my 15 minutes of fame on is to be crowned Miss America, and then lose my crown when nude photos of me turn up in some sleazy men's magazine.
Tom: Ah, but the comic strip can be a way to redeem yourself after the scandal and disgrace of losing your crown has died down.
Daria: (sighs) Jane is right, this is creepy. (As Daria starts typing again. The scene changes and now we are looking over Daria's shoulder as she types in the web browser's address bar 'www.infonympho.com'. Arriving at the site you see a big image stating 'Information: We Gotta Have It! INFO NYMPHO.COM. Daria types in 'Diamond Features Syndicate' in the search field. After waiting a few seconds another page appears with some links.
Daria: About freaking time...
As Daria reads through the links an email alert pop-up appears. She minimizes the search engine window and opens her email program.
Subject: Darya: An Explanation
Greetings Daria Morgendorffer,
My name is David Lao. I need to speak to you regarding a certain comic strip that has appeared in the Lawndale Sun-Herald. Please meet with me at the Good Time Chinese Restaurant at 7pm Sunday night.
Please do not contact the Lawndale Sun-Herald regarding this issue. We are working with them as well to rectify this situation.
Hopefully we can resolve all of this as quickly and as quietly as possible.
Daria, looking over her shoulder, says forcefully, "Tom!"
Daria: Come over here and look at this.
Tom walks over and stands beside Daria. He reads the message. Then Tom whistles sharply to himself.
Tom: What the hell is going on?
Daria: Are you through reading the email? I'm going to check some of these links I found and see what I can find out regarding 'Darya'.
Tom: Let me borrow a chair from downstairs. I am not leaving this room until I get some more information too.
Daria: As long as you don't fall asleep, wake up early in the morning, and have to slip out of my room like a criminal.
Tom smiles. As he leaves the room he starts whistling 'Wake Up Little Suzie'. Daria closes her email program and maximizes her browser window to check the list of links. She clicks the Diamond Features Syndicate link and immediately gets a 'Page Not Found' error. She clicks on the back button and finds a link to the Official Darya website, again she gets the error 'Page Not Found'. Once again she receives another email alert pop-up. Daria minimizes the browser window and opens her email program.
Subject: Darya Web Searches
I'm sorry Ms Morgendorffer all web sites, mailing lists, newsgroup posts, and message boards regarding Darya, Diamond Features Syndicate, or the comics author are now unavailable. Please do not try and access them again.
Once again I do apologize for the confusion you must be experiencing at this time but our meeting Sunday evening should clear everything up.
Tom: What? (Tom has just entered the room with a chair in his hands)
Daria: Come and read this!
Tom sets the chair next to Daria and reads the email. Tom gives another low whistle.
Tom: Holy Echelon Batman! Now I'm feeling creeped out! Who are these guys anyway? And how in the hell can they just remove all traces of this comic strip from the Internet (snaps fingers) just like that?
Daria: This is some deep 'spook' stuff all right. This sounds more like Melody Powers territory.
Tom: Melody Powers? More like 'The X-Files' (grabbing the chair he was sitting in he starts to head for the door). I'd recommend that you turn off your computer before you go to bed.
Daria: Do I disconnect it and set it outside in the hallway too?
Tom: (Gives Daria a droll look) If you find that the two emails that you received from Mr. Lao are missing from your Inbox, that's exactly what I'd do.
As Tom leaves with the chair, Daria gets a thoughtful look on her face. Then Daria hits the spacebar on her keyboard and grabs her mouse. After a few mouse clicks you see as her facial expression goes from surprise to horror.
Daria: Oh no!
<SHIFT SCENE - Tom is putting the monitor next to the computer in the hallway outside of Daria's bedroom door. Daria gives the mouse and keyboard to Tom and he places them on top of the monitor.>
Tom: Are you going to be all right Daria?
Daria: If I get through the night, without having a lucent dream involving an alien anal probe, then I think I'll be just fine.
Tom leans down and kisses Daria. They both walk down the stairs, hand in hand, and Daria opens the door.
Tom: We are going to meet this David Lao on Sunday together aren't we?
Daria: Definitely. Jane is coming with us too.
Tom: As a backup?
Daria: And as a witness that we are not losing our minds.
Tom give her another kiss and then he heads for his car parked in front of the house. Daria smiles and closes the door.
<Music: Superwoman (Remix) - Lil' Mo >
End Of Act III
Beginning of Act IV
<Music: Bodies - Drowning Pool >
<SCENE - Daria, Tom, and Jane are getting out of Tom's rusted Jaguar. You can see that they are in the parking lot of the Good Time Chinese restaurant.
Tom: (Nervously) Well here we are.
Jane: We are here for information. (then repeats in a faux British accent) In..for..ma..tion!
Tom: Well Number Six are you ready for this (he looks at Daria)
Daria: Yes. Number Two has spoken. But who is Number One?
Tom: I don't know. (then Tom starts speaking in a faux British accent) I am not a number. I am a free man! (he looks hesitantly at the restaurant). I hope.
Jane: Unless we're all about to become a couple of statistical numbers in an annual missing persons report.
Tom: (Takes a deep breath and then exhales loudly) Let's get this over with.
<SHIFT SCENE - Inside of the restaurant. There is a woman, obviously the restaurant's hostess, who greets them at the door >
Hostess: Good evening. How may I help you?
Daria: We have a reservation under Morgendorffer, party of 3.
The hostess looks down at the reservation book in her hands and her eyebrows goes up. She beckons them to come with her. They pass the dining room and go down a hallway to another door. She knocks and is answered by a voice that tells them to "Come in". They enter a rather spacious office with a round black oak desk. There is a high backed chair with the back facing them.
<Music Snow - My Bloody Valentine>
Daria, Tom, and Jane and enter and the hostess closes the door behind them. They all look at the back of the chair for a moment until Tom speaks up.
Tom: Mr. Lao?
David Lao: Yes please come in and have a seat.
The chair turns around and they are greeted by a beautiful androgynous man. He looks as young as they are, with long, black, straight, waist-length hair, and sleepy green eyes with long lashes. He has a thin, aquiline nose, with a pair of small but very full lips. His skin is very pale and you can tell he is willowy and thin, even under the very expensive DeCarlo suit he's wearing. He stands up and gestures towards the chairs that are placed in front of his desk.
Jane: My, my, my...," (Jane looks Mr. Lao up and down and nods her head approvingly.)
Daria: Calm down Lane. This is business.
Jane: (almost purring) Well we don't have to discuss business ALL night do we? (Jane looks at Mr. Lao again) I haven't seen hair that long on a man since grunge died.
Daria rolls her eyes. After everyone is seated Mr. Lao gets straight to business.
David Lao: Before we get down to the reason why we are all here would anyone like something to drink? I think this is going to be a lengthy discussion.
Daria: Before I order my usual evening shot of whiskey, I would really like to know what's going on first.
David Lao: (Sighs) Ms Morgendorffer, Ms Lane, I think you've been to our establishment before, at least through the back 'entrance' if I'm not mistaken.
Jane and Daria look at each other. Tom looks at Daria and Jane.
Daria: Yeah, that's when we went to Holiday Island (she looks at Tom) it's a long story Tom, and rather ridiculous.
Tom: And this isn't?
Lao: She's talking about the inter-dimensional wormhole that exists in the back of this restaurant. Jane and Daria have both traveled through it so there is no need to doubt what I'm saying is true.
Jane and Daria look guiltily at Tom and then Daria nods her head to affirm Mr. Lao's words.
Lao: What you didn't know, Ms. Lane, Ms Morgendorffer, is that the wormhole is not only a doorway to Holiday Island but to other worlds as well; parallel worlds, other dimensions, (beat) IF you know how to use it. There are only a few of these gateways left, and rarer still, are the gateways that still exist within human habitats. Usually they're located out in the wild, lonesome places. (Lao laughs) If we had found this wormhole a few centuries earlier we would have erected some type of oracle, or declared the area as a sacred burial ground. (Lao laughs again) However, with human populations starting to invade even the remotest areas, sometimes these wormholes, and humanity, are forced to live side by side. Lawndale is an example of this.
As Mr. Lao is speaking he opens the cover of a very slim laptop on his desk. He starts typing and then looks back at the group.
Lao: Usually we build Good Time Chinese Restaurants over these wormholes, partly as cover, but mostly for protection. There are a lot of strange energies and fields that emanate from these gateways. This can create conditions that can seriously alter and disrupt the environments around them. For example: people that are, emotionally or mentally unstable, act even more erratic, relative to their proximity to these worm-holes, especially during temporal overlaps...
Daria: (voice over) Well that explains why dear old Dad has been in socio-babble-rant mode this week. It also explains why Dad's emotional state is getting steadily worse since moving to Lawndale. Then you add on top of that the stress of incipient middle age, a childhood filled with emotional neglect, a passive-aggressive nature...(Pauses) Oh just let me count the ways...
Lao: ...like in this case for example.
Mr. Lao turns the laptop around and on the screen there is a web page listed as 'The Official Darya Web Site'. It has a list of characters down the left side of the page, serving as links to other sections of the site.
Lao: You see, in a parallel universe, this comic strip is very popular. (Lao laughs again) If you can believe it, in other universes, there is a successful, albeit belated, British television show based on your life Ms Morgendorffer. There has also been an underground comic, and an animated cartoon, on MTV no less, devoted to you and your life during your high school years.
Daria: (sneers) What kind of loser, no-life, nerd-freak would ever consider my life something to watch and obsess over. (she shakes her head) Look, I go to school, hate it, and then go home and hate it. (shakes her head again and then mimics Mr. Lao) And on MTV no less? (snorts) That bastion of shallow, commercialized, mass-marketed drone drivel is actually showing my so-called-life on its network? Now that I refuse to believe!
Lao taps away on the keyboard again, and turns the laptop around, it shows the MTV Official Daria website.
Jane: Cool. (looks at Daria) And they even spelled your name right Daria.
Lao: Yes Jane, it is, and they did. Would you believe, on other parallel worlds, that you even got a successful spin-off show of your own?
Jane: That's more like it!
Lao: (Turning to Daria) And would you believe that your life was made famous because of another cultural upheaval caused by two young men you used to know back in Highland Texas?
Daria: Cultural upheaval? Oh God. (beat) Why am I thinking of something like 'Beavis and Butthead's Excellent Adventure'? (Daria puts her hand on her head) You have got to be kidding me.
Lao: No I wish I were. Your presence here, and your life's influence on myriad continua elsewhere, is the reason why your 'comic' appeared at this place and time. You see, the wormhole in the back of this building is a nexus point of different realities. Sometimes we get what we call a 'bleeding in' effect. Sometimes two different realities overlap for brief periods of time. Luckily it only affects the immediate geographical area of the wormhole. That is something we can control. If it reaches outside that area, or even goes global, it can be catastrophic.
Lao: We call it 'negation' the merging of two disparate universes causes a temporal meltdown. If two parallel realities merge, they cancel out larger and larger pieces of the other, until both no longer exist. They just cease to be. (shudders) It's not a nice thing to be around when it happens. (blinks) Anyway, where was I?
Daria: You were explaining why 'I' am the root cause of this.
Lao: (he turns the laptop back to himself and starts typing) As I said with the cumulative factors of you, the worm-hole, the overlap, and your life having such a profound effect on other space-time continuums -- it just happened. As far as the comic strip itself, Mr. B. Fine created it in a parallel reality. The name, which you've guessed by now, is just a pseudonym of course.
Daria: Of course, and who is Mr. B Fine?
Lao types on the laptop and then turns the screen around. Daria, Jane, and Tom look at the screen and then say in unison: "Upchuck?!"
Lao: Yes, Mr. Charles Ruttheimer III. Well, Mr. Ruttheimer about 11 years older. In his teenage years he was very taken with you Ms Morgendorffer. He used that infatuation to create a very successful daily comic strip. To tell you the truth, the kid is quite the Renaissance man, regardless of which parallel world I've seen him in. He has his hand in many pies, and has involved himself in many different careers and professions. Given his personal talents, along with his father's connections, he has always been very successful.
Tom: So are you saying that this comic strip is from the future?
Lao: Oh no, not at all. I said this comic strip came from an alternate reality. Just because it's Sunday here does not mean that, on a parallel world, it's the same day, or year. Time, as well as events, occur differently. Think of traveling across parallel worlds as if you are traveling across time zones. Just because it's 9am in Los Angeles does not mean it's 9am in New York. You can go to another alternate world, on the same day, and meet another version of yourself 20 years older than you are.
Jane: This is really blowing my mind...
Daria: (Unconvinced) Humph, it's more like he's blowing smoke up our asses. (Daria scoots her chair closer to the desk) Mr. Lao, are you saying that this strip just appeared in the Lawndale Sun-Herald because two different parallel realities overlapped?
Lao: (turning the laptop back to him he starts typing again) In conjunction with your presence acting as a catalyst -- Yes. After tonight it should be over. This type of phenomenon is not unlike a solar flare, although unpredictable and disruptive, it finally settles down. Fortunately, by Monday, no one will remember the comic strip and life will go on as usual.
Tom: Are you saying that everyone will magically forget this?
Lao: (looking at Tom) Nothing like that at all. It's simply the 'out of site, out of mind' principle. Since it was a three-week phenomenon, and no one else really noticed the comic, in time, people will simply forget about it. You have to understand Mr. Sloane that this anomaly only occurred within the local geographical area. No one outside of Lawndale was affected. That was how we were able to stop your web searches Ms Morgendorffer. After we shielded the local area from the worst of the overlap, any access to that other 'reality' in regards to the comic strip, or anything having to do with it, were cut off.
Jane: Does this overlap ever strand people in another reality?
Lao: All the time. That's one of the usual results of an overlap. Take those missing children on the milk cartons for example, one minute they are playing in their back yard, and then the next minute they're gone. It's also been estimated that about 5% of unsolved missing adults cases can be attributed to this phenomenon as well. Not even animals are exempt. Pets that wander off and are never seen again, or I can give you another extreme example: a pack of Venusian Nighthounds, kept on a wild-life preserve on a parallel world, are now running rampant on this world -- and a few others I might add -- because of an overlap. I hear that they are causing quite a stir in Latin America.
Lao: (flashes Jane a beautiful smile) Yes! Very good Ms Lane!
Jane: You can call me Jane. (flashes a beautiful smile right back) My sister Penny used to tell me folk-stories about them. She learned those stories from the Zapata Indians in Mexico before she went even further south. I think the name means 'goat sucker' or something like that.
Daria: (addressing Jane) And I can just call you a plain old sucker. There is no life on Venus, it's too damn hot.
Lao: (turning back to Daria) In this universe that is true. In other, parallel universes, Venus is able to sustain life just like on Earth, although in some strange ways.
Daria (Heavy sarcasm) Gee, you have an answer for everything don't you?
Lao: (Just as sarcastically) Gee, I thought that answers were the reason why all of you came here in the first place? (He laughs, shakes his head, and smiles again)
Daria: (Looks Mr. Lao directly in the eye) Well now it's time to ask the $64,000 question:
Lao: (Still smiling) That I am not at liberty to discuss. I only revealed myself to you so I could put a lid on a potentially explosive situation caused by the overlap, and your knowledge of it. That has been taken care of.
Daria: And what if I told someone...
Lao: (Smiling again but not so nice) No one would believe you. (Gestures dramatically at the three teenagers) I have before me the misery chick, the sullen artist, and the rebellious son-of-privilege. All of you exist outside of popular, credulous society. (He speaks directly to Daria, his voice placating) Please Ms Morgendorffer do not be unpleasant about this.
Daria: ...my mother perhaps.
Tom: (Standing up) And my family as well.
Lao: (Narrows his eyes) I guess you could make things a 'little' difficult for me, but before you begin, lets get one thing straight right now: I am not your friend! (The beautiful smile disappears) but I can get downright unfriendly when the mood strikes me. (His eyes start to burn with a faint green inner light) I have destroyed worlds children, and all the lives upon those worlds.
Jane turns away and a whimper of fear escapes her lips. Both Daria and Tom rear back in confusion, bumping into their chairs, as they retreat from David Lao's glare.
The light dies down in those eyes and the 'nice' smile returns as beautiful as ever.
Lao: Once you walk out that door you will never see me again, nor I you. Let's keep things civil and go on with the rest of our lives without inciting too much trouble.
David Lao reaches for the laptop and then turns the chairs' back to them,
Lao: This interview has now ended.
As if on cue the hostess opens the door. In the silence you can hear typing from the other side of the chair. Daria, Jane, and Tom look at each other for a moment and start heading for the door.
Lao: (still speaking from behind the chair) If you would like to get something to eat, please go out into our dining room and enjoy yourself, or if you do not wish to stay, order take out, it is on the house. (you can see his pale, white hand appear above the chair, waving goodbye.)
Tom, Jane and Daria follow the hostess out of the door. As Tom walks down the hallway, he looks at Jane and then Daria.
Tom: (Looking apprehensive) Are we really going to eat here?
Daria and Jane turn on Tom and reply in unison, " No!"
<Music: Free - Jaded>
End of Act IV
<Music: Smile - Flickerstick>
<SCENE - Daria, Jane, and Tom at Pizza King. >
Jane: Damn it! Why does every cute guy I meet always turn into a jerk. (Tom, feeling uncomfortable at Jane's words, clears his throat. Jane ignores him and slops a piece of pizza on her plate. Daria gives Tom an apologetic look.)
Daria: Jane, he was way too old for you. There's probably an age difference of several millennia between you two. It wouldn't have worked out anyway -- trust me.
Tom: (Changing the subject) Well, now that we've met with one of the Old Ones, and survived, what's next?
Daria: Nothing. Mr. Lao had a point. According to him, by tomorrow, this will all blow over. (she grabs a slice of pizza) Okay, even if we tried to tell someone about it, who would believe us? Hey Mom, guess what? We spoke to some trans-dimensional creature (Daria shudders as she remembers David Lao's eyes) that told us that a comic strip, which suddenly appeared in the Lawndale Sun-Herald, and featured your first born daughter, was caused by an overlap of two different continuums? (Daria shrugs her shoulders) I still don't believe what happened; and it happened to me. (Daria takes a bite of pizza, swallows, and then looks at Tom, and then Jane) We'll just put this behind us, just like the whole Holiday Island debacle that happened 2 years ago.
Jane: At least we didn't have to crawl through the wormhole again.
Tom: You two are going to have to tell me that story.
Jane: Sorry Tom, not tonight. Daria and I must convene at Casa Lane because, (Jane changes her voice and does a bad impression of Count Floyd) it's Bad Movie Night! (then she goes back to her normal voice) We can not ignore tradition!
Daria: I must indoctrinate Jane on the evils of Videodrome. (beat) You know, after tonight's adventure, I could almost believe that, somehow, we have grown that extra-sensory organ in our brains that lets us see new and higher realities.
Tom: <grimaces> Oh you're showing her THAT movie. Maybe the Videodrome signal that causes the new organ to grow is hidden in broadcasts of Sick, Sad, World.
Daria: It's probably what got us caught up in this mess in the first place.
Jane: It's probably what started the Holiday Island mess too.
Daria: (Pauses) You know Lane, that almost made sense. Now you're starting to scare me.
Jane: I'm kidding!
(Jane, Daria, and Tom look at each other nervously)
Jane: I hope.
<Music: Points Of Authority - Linkin Park>
I have decided not to put any explanatory notes at the end of this story. The inside jokes, pop references, and literary quotes will stand, or fall, on their own.
Because the show never explains these things either. You either get them, or you don't. I want to remain within that spirit.
Thanks for reading. This is my first fan fiction story so if it seems a little rough and tumble, just blame it on my inexperience. Please send any comments, good or bad, to firstname.lastname@example.org.