"Emancipation" is my second fanfic, "The Whole Truth" being the first. I wish to thank Kara Wild and Renfield for beta-reading it, and Iíve made revisions based on their comments and suggestions, much to the benefit of the piece. "Emancipation" was essentially complete before "Aunt Nauseam" and "Prize Fighters" aired on MTV, and its content was not affected by them. I suppose I spend way too much time refining and polishing my stories. Maybe if someone was waiting to give me money when I finished... Well, here it is. Hope you like it.
 

 

 

EMANCIPATION

By Galen Hardesty

 

 

Scene 1 Ext Morgendorfer house, early afternoon. Cut to-

Int Morgendorfer house, kitchen table. Helen sits at her usual place, surrounded by notes and printouts. Daria sits backwards in her chair, chin on left forearm, forearm on chair back, right hand holding a glass of cranberry-raspberry juice, gazing out the window into the side yard. Quinn enters from the family room.

Quinn (teeny bit too casual): "Mom, can I borrow your platinum card? I need to pick up a couple of things at Cashmanís."

Helen (touch of sarcasm) "I believe you picked up that "couple of things" yesterday with your fatherís card. Perhaps you forgot."

Quinn (caught, trying not to sound guilty): "Oh, yeah, but there were just one or two teensy little things that I missed."

Helen: "Oh, I see. Teensy. Okay, Quinn. Go ahead and use your own money."

Quinn: Mo-OOOM! Ohh!! (Stomps out in a snit)

Daria: To the victor! (toasts Helen with cranberry-raspberry juice. Helen smiles a little but doesnít look up from her papers.)

 

Daria: (gets up, puts glass on table, sits down normally. I realize this is pathetically bad timing, but Iíd like to get a swimsuit and a couple of running outfits. And Iím thinking of taking some sort of self-defense class.

Helen: (puts down her pencil, looks up, smiles.) Thatís wonderful, sweetie! You certainly may! But why the sudden interest in fitness ?

Daria : Well, besides the usual benefits, the particular type of swimming I have in mind increases blood flow to the brain. The self-defense course- well, self defense. Iíd feel safer, more confident.

Helen: I understand that. In fact, Iíd like to take such a class myself if I could scrape together the time. But... (sigh). But tell me more about this swimming class, and what it does.

Daria: Itís not a class, just an exercise. What Iíll do is spend one hour a day, five days a week, swimming at a depth of six feet or more. Iíll swim as far as I can before coming up for air, and train to stay under longer and swim farther. It benefits the brain by expanding the carotid arteries, permanently. Itís said to be good for about a 5% IQ increase every month I do it.

Helen: That's amazing, if true. But is it safe? Where did you hear about it?

Daria: Well, it's just swimming. As far as I know, no one has ever drowned themselves in a pool by deliberately staying down too long. My people told me to do it when they contacted me recently. They said it was time I began preparing to assume my place among the Gray Eminences.

Helen: Who?

Daria: You know, The Next Wave, homo superior. We Who Rule From The Shadows.

Helen: (studies Daria's expression for a momemt) Just kidding?

Daria: (tiny smile) Just kidding. I read about it on a cognitive enhancement website. Of course, the website is probably run by We Who Rule...

(Quinn comes back in, gets diet soda from refrigerator, opens it.)

Helen: Quinn, would you like to help Daria pick out an attractive swimsuit? Something NOT gray?

Quinn (crafty look) Sure, Mom. Uh, can I pick up that couple of teensy items I mentioned while we're out shopping?

Helen: (sadly) Quinn, will you ever stop being an extortionist and start being a sister?

Quinn: (attempts pouty look, but Helen has successfully guilt-tripped her.) Uhh, sorry. Sure, Iíll help her. Shopping for someone else beats not shopping at all. (looks at Daria, starts to say something, hesitates.)

Daria: (looks at Quinn, waits expectantly.) Yes?

Quinn: Come upstairs a minute. I need to show you something.

Daria: (slightly puzzled look) Uh, sure. (rises, follows Quinn out)

 

Quinn: (re-entering kitchen a few minutes later, behind Daria) Itís not all that bad.

Daria: Bicycle-seat-sniffing despoilers of innocence! Running-dog lackeys of the sexist fashion cartel! Voyeuristic g-string pushers! Perverts!!

(Helen looks up from her work, startled)

Quinn: Iím not crazy about it either, but thatís how it is. Itís your decision, but youíll have a much wider selection if you do.

Daria: (resumes her seat) Rrrrrrr... Perhaps you could update me on the latest in bikini line treatments. How is the Fashion club doing their hair this season? A simple trim? Flower and butterfly shapes? Bald is Beautiful? (stares darkly into the crimson depths of her juice)

Quinn: Daria.

Daria: (sighs) Sorry. Sarcasm brought on by outrage at having to do such a humiliating thing just to be able to try on the majority of this yearís swimsuits. Before, I've always been able to find swimsuits with full crotch coverage. I always thought that was the primary requirement of a swimsuit.

Quinn: I'll explain the concept of reveals to you sometime. Assuming you decide to do something, forget tweezers and shaving. Depilatories might give you a rash. You probably wouldn't go for a wax job, especially when you hear what they cost. I've got a jar of that Tasmanian tree sap you can use. On second thought, I'll do it for you. That stuff takes a bit of getting used to, and you don't want to be practicing on your bikini line.

(Helen has given up on her papers, is listening with growing interest, wondering if she should say something, but having no idea what that would be.)

Daria: (surprised) You're offering to do it for me?

Quinn: Yes, I am. Mom was right, I'm your sister. Besides, how can I pass up a chance to rip out my big sister's pubic hair by the roots?

(Helen scoops up some papers, buries her face in them)

Daria: (laughs out loud, can't believe Quinn actually said that in front of Helen.) And how can I deny my kid sister such fulfillment? If society demands that I be tortured on the altar of fashion, why let some stranger have all the perverted fun? Especially when I have family who'll really enjoy it. I dedicate my agony to you, Quinn. Savor it. File it away among your precious memories. (stands, knocks back the rest of her juice western-saloon style, thumps empty glass down on the table.) Lead the way!

Quinn (heads out of kitchen) What was that, your Valedictory address?

Daria: Just working up my nerve.

Quinn: Maybe we can do a butterfly, if your pain threshold is high enough.

Daria: (blushing) I think I'll stick with my natural eagle.

Quinn: An eagle? Really? This I gotta see!

Daria: (blushing harder) Just be sure you don't clip his wings.

Quinn: HIS wings??

(Helen's papers crackle softly as she slowly rotates her head side to side in a "no" movement.)

Daria (pauses at entryway to family room, turns): Mom, in case of... sounds, can you keep Dad from charging upstairs?

Helen: (lifts her head, papers slide onto table and floor) Uh, okay, dear. I will. (puts her face back in her hands; after a moment her shoulders begin to shake and a low, rhythmic sound is heard. As Helen lifts her head, we see that she is laughing.) This wasn't in any of the books! (Shakes her head, rises, goes in search of Jake.)

 

 

 

Scene 2 Ext Lawndale High. Cut to- Int Cafeteria. Daria, Jane, and Jodie are at a table eating lunch.

Jane: So, you wanna take in a movie tonight, or just hang out at my place, or what?

Jodie: (realizes Jane is talking to her) Oh, uh, I can't. I've got to finish that extra-credit math project, and practice my lines for...

Jane: Jodie, you've got to have a life, too. How many really close friends do you have? Friends you tell all your secrets to? Who can complete your sentences?

Jodie: Well, um... (her expression turns very sad)

Daria: I know. Making friends is hard when you're deficient in brain damage. Very limited selection.

Jane: So I was thinking, who says you can only have one best friend? (Daria gives her a sideways glance) Aside from English teachers and nitpickers, that is. And what with Daria always getting thrown in the booby hatch ... (Daria gives her a withering sideways glance)

Daria: I feel a psychotic episode coming on right now.

Jane: (grins) See, there she goes again. But that kind of friendship takes time. Time to lie around on my bed while I paint, inhaling the paint fumes...

Daria: And the running shoe fumes...

Jane: Time in Daria's rubber room watching her bounce off the walls.

Daria: Time inside my closet, reading the poetry the madwoman carved into the wall with an old key.

Jane: Time on the school roof analyzing our teachers and fellow students.

Daria: Time at the pizza joint analyzing weird foreign movies.

Jodie: In short, time. Of which I have none.

Daria and Jane: We know.

Jane: Therefore we, your fellow support group members, have decided to get you some.

Jodie: ("yeah, right" expression) Great! And how are you going to do that?

Daria: That's the topic under discussion. Tell you what, Jodie. Write down your schedule as it is now, then another schedule as you want it to be, indicating which activities you'd drop or cut back on to get there. Drop a few extra, in case the discussion with your parents degenerates into haggling.

Jodie: More likely it'll degenerate into aphorisms, when-I-was-your-age stories and naked parental authority.

Daria: That, we must avoid. Jane, see if you can figure about how many hours a week we spend together. That'll give us a handle on the magnitude of our task. Oh, not that it'll make a difference to the Reclaiming-Jodie's-Life project, but... Jodie? Will you be my other best friend?

Jodie: (looking like she's about to tear up) I'd be honored, Daria. And would you and Jane be my co-best friends?

Daria nods, smiling.

Jane: I'll be yours if you'll be mine. Group Hug!

Daria: Not here, we'll start another rumor. I need to drop by the library for a minute.

Jane: Okay, see you naked in thirteen minutes.

Daria: (blushing) Whatís the matter with "see you in gym class"?

Jane (evil grin) Doesnít make you blush.

Daria: (turning away) Kill you slowly.

Jodie: What have I done?

 

 

Scene 3 Gymnasium. About 40 girls, divided into two teams, play dodgeball. Cut to: Medium closeup of Daria, over her right shoulder. A ball comes sailing into the frame, headed for Daria's lower face. Reflexively, she flinches her head away and catches it with both hands. A girl on the other team makes a gesture of anger and frustration, turns, heads for the sideline. Daria shoots the ball at the nearest member of the opposing team, who happens to be looking elsewhere. The ball hits her on the hip.

Daria: (pumps fist in air) Yeah! Twofer! (sees another ball coming from far left, tries to spin away. Too late, the ball hits her thigh with that "spang" sound peculiar to that type of ball. Retracing its trajectory, she sees Jane grinning at her from the enemy lines. Daria shakes her fist at Jane as she turns and heads off-court.

Ms. Morris: Getting better, Morgendorfer. But you need to pay more attention to your peripheral vision.

Daria: Glasses frames.

Ms. Morris: Contacts. You can get blindsided by worse things than a rubber ball, you know.

Daria: Do I ever. Oh, I've been thinking of taking a self-defense course. Do you have any recommendations?

Ms. Morris: (smiles approvingly) The Girls' Club offers a free course taught by police officers. It's pretty basic. The best from a self-defense standpoint is the Jeet Kune Do school on South Aspen. If you think you might want to compete, check out Mr. Park's Tae Kwon Do dojo in Westgate shopping center. Can't miss it, the front window is full of trophies.

Daria: Thanks. I'll start with the Jeet Kune Do place.

Ms. Morris: If you stick with it, it counts as an extracurricular. (looks at watch, blows whistle.) All right, ladies! Two laps around the gym, then hit the showers!

 

 

 

Scene 4 Ext Residential Lawndale sidewalk. Daria, Jane and Jodie walk home from school.

 

Daria: (consults notebook) So we have: Value of Friendship, Irreplaceable Teenage Years, Itís My Life, Approaching Burnout, Valedictorian Locked Up, Iíll Snap And Go Apeshit, and Youíll Never See Me Again. We should probably save those last two for emergencies.

Jane: Rename the second-from-last one Teenage Quaker Syndrome. That expresses the concept better, I think.

Jodie: It certainly sounds better. Do you really think I have a lock on Valedictorian?

Daria: Unless you burn out or go apesh- uh, Teenage Quaker. We both have 4.5 averages, and youíve totally buried me with extracurriculars.

Jodie: Does that... bother you? I know youíre smarter than I am, Daria.

Daria: And Iíve proved it by tricking you into doing the Valedictory Address. I donít think I could withstand the temptation to be honest.

Jodie: But youíll be Salutatorian. You have to do a speech too.

Daria: A shorter one, and everyone will be asleep by then. Iíll be able to say almost anything I want, and only a handful of people will notice.

Jodie: Are you saying my address is going to put everyone to sleep?

Daria: See, who said I was smarter than you? You picked right up on that!

Jodie: (giggles) Seriously, Daria, wonít it bother you a little?

Daria: Seriously, Jodie, the only things I want from Lawndale High are a diploma and away. Iíll be able to get into any college I want without any honors. I donít need a videotape of me giving a boring speech that I donít mean, that Iíll never watch. I need professors who can really teach, and intelligent fellow students I can really talk to, like you and Jane, but more of them. Thatís what my sights are set on.

 

 

 

Scene 5 Ext Morgendorfer house, late afternoon. Cut to- Int Morgendorfer house, family room. Daria sits on sofa with phone and phone book.

Daria (into phone) Next Tuesday sounds great. What about uniforms and equipment? Uh-huh. Maybe I can get down tonight. And how many openings do you have? Good, I may be able to dragoon a friend or two. Thanks. ĎBye. (hangs up, dials another number.) Mom, Daria. Whatís your twenty? ..Present location. ..I was gonna ask you to pick up a catalog, but youíve passed it. Can I use your car when you get here? Sure, a ride would be fine. Iíll be at the curb. (gets up, puts away phone book, heads for front door.)

 

 

 

Scene 6 Ext Morgendorfer house, a few minutes later. Daria stands at the curb, on the right side of the driveway. Helenís red SUV pulls halfway into driveway, stops. Daria gets in the passenger side front door. Cut to-

Scene Int Helenís SUV

 

Daria: Take a right, toward downtown. How was your day?

Helen: Same old same old. The Mamaís Home Cookiní v. Mommaís Home Cooking case is still dragging on and... (Daria listens with an attentive expression, picking her motherís feelings of overwork, underappreciation, and resentment out of the stream of details, injecting an occasional hmm or uh-huh to keep it flowing.) ...and I almost had the stack down level with the top of the in-box when Eric came in with a huge... oh, Daria, you donít really care about what I do at work, do you?

Daria: I care more about what your work does to you. How it wears you down and keeps you away from us. But I wasnít just providing good-listener therapy. I know you love the law. I was listening to see how much of the challenging, stimulating stuff youíre getting to do, amongst how much boring, grinding scut work.

Helen: Sweetie! You do care! If I wasnít driving Iíd hug your neck!

Daria: If you start to pull over Iím diving for the cargo area.

Helen: All right, Daria. Iíll try to restrain myself. Actually, thereís a big, nasty, complex case coming up. Itís got industrial espionage, tax evasion, export ban violations, everything. Iím in charge of the class action suit, which I think will turn out to be bigger than it looks now. Iím looking forward to a lot of court time. I just hope it doesnít get really ugly.

Daria: No, you donít.

Helen: (smiles) No, I donít.

Helen: (after companionable silence) This school weíre going to- are you just checking it out, or do you plan to enroll?

Daria: Iíll sign up if it looks okay. My gym teacher recommends it for self-defense. The other good school is more competition oriented. They have a class starting next Tuesday. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 to 8 p.m. There are still four openings. Whaddya say? I know you want to.

Helen: I do want to, sweetie, but I just have so much work right now.

Daria: And youíll keep getting more and more. Itís a managerís maxim. Give the new work to the one whoís already doing the most, Ďcause sheís the one whoíll get it done somehow. Isnít that right?

Helen: Daria, sometimes you scare me. How do you know things like that?

Daria: (waves hand) Common knowledge. I read it somewhere. Mom, when you look back on your life, what will you regret more, not doing more work for Eric, or not doing more stuff with your family?

Helen: And this is definitely one of those times. All right. Sign me up.

Daria: Speaking of which, here we are. Ahead on the right.

 

Same scene, 20 minutes later, on the way home.

 

Helen: I thought Bruce Lee was just an actor who died mysteriously. I didnít know he was really that good, or that he founded his own school.

Daria: Me either. Or that he was a philosopher. The Tao of Jeet Kune Do. Have to read that. (puts down brochure, picks up a blouse from atop matching slacks. It has a floral pattern, a network of stylized scrolling vines supporting multicolored flowers, leaves, and occasional small birds. The background color is peacock blue, and it is trimmed in gold piping. The front panel buttons down the left side with cloth covered buttons in gold loops. It looks very Chinese, as does the outfit next to it on the seat, identical save for a Chinese Red background. Daria rubs the material softly against her cheek, smiles that Mona Lisa smile.) These are so beautiful. And real silk. I can hardly imagine using it as a martial arts uniform.

Helen: They are lovely, arenít they? But silk is incredibly tough. Youíll probably pass that on to your granddaughter.

Daria: Granddaughter... hmm. Weird. I believe thatís the first time I ever thought about having a granddaughter. You know, Iím sure I saw an outfit just like this in one of those old chop-socky movies.

Helen: Maybe thatís where they got the idea.

Daria: Assuming you want to try yours on too, letís get chinese takeout and wear them to dinner.

Helen: That sounds like fun... but Quinn doesnít like chinese food.

Daria: Well, I do. Tell you what. Weíll get her a package of tortillas and tell her theyíre snack size cheeseless pizzas.

Helen: Haha! Daria, thatís mean! But I guess we can find something sheíll like.

Daria: Hereís the chinese restaurant. Thereís a chicken place half a block down. Quinn likes roast chicken, right?

Helen: Yes. Get her a two-piece dinner. White meat, roasted, lemon pepper if they have it. Hereís a five. 

 

 

Scene 7 Sidewalk, South Aspen street, edge of downtown Lawndale, sunset. Daria emerges from a fast-food chicken restaurant carrying a boxed meal in a plastic bag, walks northward. Looking north up the street, she sees Helenís SUV parked in front of the chinese restaurant, but no sign of Helen. A young man steps out of the street in front of her, looking around him in all directions, as if in fear, yet somehow not. Most of his attention is directed at Daria.

Young man: Uh, Ďscuse me, miss, but I ainít had nothiní tíeat all day, aní Iím real hungry. Could ya help me out? (continues to scan his surroundings, also continues to close the distance that separates him from Daria)

Daria: (sees that the man is not much older than she, about 19, but considerably taller and heavier.) Uh, this isnít mine. (moves left off sidewalk toward street, turns to keep facing young man, putting the sun at her back)

Mugger: Selfish bitch!(expression turns angry, lunges toward Daria, left hand reaching for plastic bag, right hand balling into a fist)

In mid-lunge, the muggerís speed seems to decrease drastically. Dariaís right foot moves toward the muggerís left knee, much less slowly. The toe of her boot catches the bottom of his kneecap, lifts it much higher up his leg than it is supposed to go. Dariaís body rotates 90 degrees left, moving the bag away from the muggerís grasping hand. Her right leg draws back, shoots forward again. The outside edge of her boot sole impacts his right kneecap. Through it Daria feels a crunching sensation. A look of shock and pain is now beginning to register on the muggerís face. A part of Dariaís mind is thinking "Whoís controlling my body? I want my body back!" as her right leg retracts again. The muggerís head and upper body are now bending forward in reaction to the pain in his knees, and his hands begin to reach for his kneecaps. Dariaís upper body has tilted back, away from the mugger, and her right foot, now aimed higher, shoots out for the third time, her boot sole impacting his forehead with a loud smack. The mugger straightens back up suddenly, then continues leaning backwards, as the impact shock sends ripples through his body. His feet leave the ground, and he floats backwards through the air. Dariaís right foot returns to the ground, but she seems unable to stand flatfooted, bouncing slightly instead. A part of her mind realizes that the fight is essentially over, but continues to watch the mugger, not relinquishing control until he hits the ground, and does not move thereafter.

Daria: (as the world resumes normal speed) Hunh!! (swivels head in all directions, taking in her surroundings, causing her hair to whip wildly) What the hell was that? (She sees no one else who appears to be a threat. Through the window of the chicken place, a young couple, chicken pieces halfway to their open mouths, stare wide-eyed at her. Across the street, five people gesture and make noises, apparently cheering. Realizing she is still bouncing slightly, she wills herself to stop. She has a feeling of tremendous strength, coupled with an urgent need to do something with it, but there is nothing to do other than carry Quinnís dinner. Daria sets out again for the chinese restaurant, forcing herself to walk, her breathing ragged. After a seemingly endless march, with frequent backward glances, she enters the parking lot. The restaurantís gold trimmed red door, gleaming in the reddish-gold light of sunset, beckons like the gates of Heaven. Daria takes a deep, shuddering breath, clamps her poker face down tight, puts forth a hand to push open the door.)

 

 

 

Scene 8 Int Chinese Restaurant. Helen sits on a padded bench opposite the checkout counter. No one else is in the vestibule/ checkout area of the restaurant at the moment. A loud Bam-Boom sound from the front door causes her to start and jerk her head toward the noise. A wild-haired figure stands there, silhouetted against the sunset sky. The figure catches the rapidly-rebounding front door without seeming to notice, closes it gently, and advances into the vestibule. Helenís eyes widen as she recognizes Daria.

Daria: Stupid wind. (puts hand to disarraranged hair, sits on bench beside Helen, puts chicken box down)

Helen: Is everyth... (Daria springs to her feet, walks past Helen into the dining area, summons a waitress)

Daria: (to waitress) Could you get me a cup of ice water, please? (hands waitress two quarters. Waitress smiles, nods, hurries away. Daria turns back toward Helen, her movements jerky.)

Helen: Daria, is everything all right?

Daria: Hmm? Yeah. Fine.

Helen: Uhh, I hope their food is good. I donít believe weíve ordered from here before.

Daria: (sits down beside Helen) Smells good. (seeking diversion) Have you noticed there seem to be two types of chinese restaurants? The ones like this (waves hand) with good food, good service, nice atmosphere; and then the ones with very low prices, too much oil in the food, that seem to have more chinese staff in back than customers out front. (leans toward Helen, lowers voice) I think those other places are fronts for Chicom spy rings.

Helen: (Chuckles) Youíre probably right, dear. But keep your voice down, just in case itís this type instead. (they exchange conspiratorial smiles)

Daria: (takes plastic cup of ice water from waitress) Thank you. (presses cup to forehead, closes eyes, sighs raggedly.)

Helen: Daria, is anything wrong?

Daria: Totiní chicken is hard work sometimes. (smiles a bit for Helen)

Helen: Oh. Well, hereís our order. (gets up, goes to checkout counter. Daria drinks deeply, puts cup back against her forehead, closes her eyes again.)

Helen: Come on, Daria, letís go. (lifts bags of takeout from counter. Daria rises, holds front door open for Helen, they exit.)

 

 

Scene 9 Ext Chinese Restaurant. Helen and Daria load food into second seat of Helenís vehicle. Daria closes the door, retrieves her ice water from the roof, tilts it to her lips, swallows twice, then drags the lip of the cup up her face to the top of her head, dousing herself with the icy water, the last of it going down the back of her jacket collar. She pats her cheeks with wet hands, opens her eyes to find Helen staring at her in disbelief.

Daria: (shivering, but not from cold water) Guess I have a drinking problem. (Helen doesnít seem to get the reference.) Well, letís get out of here before the crowd forms. (brushes ice off top of head, takes up shotgun position in SUV. Helen collects her wits, hurries around to driverís door, gets in.)

Helen: (starts car, backs out) Daria, please! Whatís wrong?

Daria: Too much adrenalin. Uh-oh. Crowdís forming. Drive. (points ahead. Over twenty people stand around or approach a young man clinging to a signpost, attempting to stand. He pulls himself up, grimaces in pain, and falls.)

Helen: Oh, my goodness! That boyís been beaten up! (gasps) Look! Thereís a bootprint on his forehead! And why are those people waving at us?

Daria: (crouching below the window) That boyís a mugger, and thatís my bootprint, and I guess those are my fans. Please take me home.

Helen (accelerates south down Aspen, heading homeward) Daria, for pityís sake, tell me what happened!

Daria: (resuming her seat) He tried to mug me for Quinnís dinner, and I... went off on him.

Helen: Good grief, Daria! You fought a mugger for five bucksí worth of chicken?! Just give it to him! Throw it at him and run! Itís not worth you getting hurt over! What were you thinking?!

Daria: Thatís just it, Mom. There was no thinking involved. I totally agree with everything you just said. But I never had a chance to think of any of it. Iíd just barely realized that he was about to hit me when something ferocious seized control of my body and... BamBamBam! He was flying through the air and I was walking back to the restaurant. What does that mean? What am I turning into?

Helen: Oh. (pause) Thatís not as bad as it sounds, darling. Some sort of instinctive reaction. That thug got what he deserved. But you should have told me immediately. I could have called the police and had him arrested.

Daria: (groans) Ohhh, no. I really donít want to spend the night at the police station filling out forms and being interrogated. This already feels like the longest day of my life.

Helen: Daria, you need to make a statement to protect yourself against a possible complaint or suit. But I know some of the police. Iíll make a call later to give them a heads-up, and if necessary, theyíll call me back and we can go down. Otherwise, tomorrow is soon enough. (makes a turn) Weíll be home in a few minutes. I donít suppose you still feel like wearing these outfits to dinner.

Daria (picks up her chinese silk blouse and matching slacks) Uhh, yes. I do.

Helen: (smiles) I do too, actually.

The car rolls homeward down familiar streets. Daria gazes out her window into the twilight, the blue silk blouse caressing her cheek. Words from an old song, heard once on the radio, rise unbidden to her remembrance. After a minute she begins singing, very softly, to herself.

"Shake me, I ra-a-tle,

Squeeze me, I cry.

Please take me home

And lo-ove me."

 

 

 Scene 10 Ext Morgendorfer home, night. Cut to: Int Morgendorfer home, kitchen. The family unit Morgendorfer sits around the table in the traditional spots, eating chinese food, except for Quinn, who eats a chicken dinner. Helen and Daria are using chopsticks, Helen competently but slowly, Daria with a little more facility. Jake uses a fork.

Jake: You two really look cute in those outfits! Are you going to be in a play or something?

Helen: Weíre going to take Jeet Kune Do lessons. These are what we train in.

Quinn: Jeep coon doe? Eeww-w-w! Sounds like roadkill!

Daria: It was developed by Bruce Lee out of Wing Chun Kung Fu, the only style of Kung Fu created by a woman.

Quinn: Hey, did you know thereís a woman Kung Fu master here in Lawndale? It was just on the news. They showed this mugger being loaded into an ambulance, and there was this perfect boot print right across his forehead! (faint snort from Daria)

Jake: His knees were messed up, too. The eyewitnesses said he tried to steal a chicken dinner from this little bitty woman and she Kung Fuíd the doggydoo out of him! (tiny strangled noise from Daria)

Quinn: Yeah, they said she was fast as lightning! Faster than Jackie Chan! Do you think one day you guys will be that good?

Helen:. Apparently Daria is already that good. Sheís the one theyíre talking about. You have the chicken dinner to prove it.

Quinnís jaw drops. She gapes, dumbstruck, at Daria.

Daria: (fighting to swallow and to keep from cracking up) Didnít you recognize the boot print?

Jake: It was Daria?? But... the reporter asked an eyewitness for a description and he said it was an old black woman with blonde hair and a red beard! (Daria jerks her head to one side just in time to avoid spraying the table with Kung Pao chicken., but the effort costs her her balance, and she and her chair topple slowly over, leaving Daria rolling on the floor, laughing helplessly.)

Helen: (laughing herself) Quinn, wet a towel in cold water and bring it here. Jake, witnesses often give false descriptions in cases like that. The man approved of what Daria did, and didnít want to get her in trouble. (from under the table, Daria lets out a peal of silly-sounding laughter that sets Helen off again.)

Quinn: (coming back with wet towel) Here. (gets no response from Helen, goes around table, kneels, covers Dariaís face with wet towel. Dariaís laughter tapers off to chortles, to giggles, then dies away. She groans, sets her chair back on its legs. Quinn helps her to her feet.) Daria, did you really do that?

Daria: Yeah, it was me.

Quinn: (resumes her seat) Were you really as fast as they said?

Daria: Fast as lightning? No. Faster than Jackie Chan? Iíd have to say... yes. For that one second or so this evening, I was faster. Of course, I was seeing it all in slo-mo.

Quinn: You mean that really happens? I thought that was just a movie thing.

Daria: It happens. He approached me with this havenít-eaten-all-day, please-help-me crap, then when he was close enough, started to make his move. Right then he slowed down to molasses-in-January speed, and I kicked him in the left knee, the right knee, then, as he doubled over from the pain, in the forehead. Then I watched him float backwards through the air for a while. When he finally hit the ground, time sped back up to normal.

Jake: WOW! How far did you kick him?

Daria: His head travelled about nine feet, the rest of him not so far.

Quinn: (plaintively, enviously) Is there no end to your abilities? How many more superpowers do you have?

Daria: (canít resist an opening like that) Other than this, just the two. Near-instant healing and the power to cloud peoplesí minds. Plus a couple of super-senses.

Quinn: Near-instant... youíre pulling my leg now.

Daria: I used it last year when you ratted me out for getting a navel ring*. I saw through the window that you guys were waiting to ambush me. So I took out the ring, healed up the puncture, opened the door and walked in. The rest you know.

[*Daria is fibbing about events in Pierce Me]

Quinn: That was a fake ring. It must have been!

Daria: You know it was real. You examined it very closely. You saw me pull on it.

Jake: You did get pierced?! Now, see here, young lady...

Daria: (holds up hand, speaks authoritatively) More than one year has elapsed. The Statute of Limitations has run out.

Jake: Oh, yeah. Darn...

Quinn: What about the power to cloud... (Daria makes tiny head/eyeball gesture indicating Jake) Oh. (Helen rolls her eyes, puts hand to forehead.)

Helen: As long as weíre having this somewhat strange conversation, tell us about your super-senses.

Daria: Super is stretching it a bit. My echolocation is pretty good. Iím just starting to work on infrared vision.

Jake: Echolocation?

Daria: The sense bats use to navigate in the dark. Like sonar. I saw this blind boy on TV who could do it so well he could ride his bicycle on the streets, so I started teaching myself. I can walk around the house in complete darkness, and/or blindfolded, and not bump into stuff. And no, itís not memorization. I can do it in places Iíve never been before. I still canít move very fast, though. And I need to experiment more with the noise I use.

Helen: Iím impressed. And infrared vision?

Daria: Itís not really vision. I use my forehead, cheeks, and palms as sensors. A month or so ago, I was echolocating through the kitchen blindfolded, and I picked up heat radiation from forward right low. I zeroed in on a range burner that had been left on. Since I first picked it up from ten feet away, and it was directional, I thought it was worth working on. Like I said, Iím just starting with it. You guys could probably do as well.

Quinn: You have the weirdest hobbies.

Daria: Mom and Dad couldnít afford to send me to superhero school in Gotham City, so I had to teach myself. Pretty soon, Jane and I will finish my skintight spandex costume, and I can start fighting crime. Oh, wait. (Mona Lisa smile) I already have.

 

Scene 11 Ext Morgendorfer home, night. Cut to- Dariaís bedroom. Daria, wearing her nighttime t-shirt and loose shorts, no socks this time, lies on the floor with her lower legs on the bed, and a phone in her ear. We hear distant ring tones, a pickup. Cut to split screen, Daria and Amy, wearing a green and blue tie-dye t-shirt and cutoff sweatpants.

 Amy: Hello? 

Daria: Hi, Amy. Howíve you been?

Amy: Doing well, nothing special. What are you up to these days?

Daria: Got two best friends now, tortured by Quinn, studying Jeet Kune Do with Mom, getting in touch with my inner terminator.

Amy: Whoa, whoa! Youíre trying to sneak something past me here. Tortured by Quinn?

Daria: She did my bikini line for me. Enjoyed it way too much. Try again.

Amy: (laughs) Then unless you bisected Jane, it must be the inner terminator. Give.

Daria: This punk tries to steal a chicken dinner from me, and... something...possesses me and half-kills him in about a second! Then itís.. gone.

Amy: Omigawd! Youíre the Kung Fu Queen of Lawndale?!

Daria: Ohhh, Nooo!! Please tell me it hasnít gone national!

Amy: Not yet. It was on the local news, as a human interest story. Tell me all about it in excruciating detail, starting with Are You Hurt?

Daria: Iím fine. He never touched me. Mom was getting some Chinese takeout for dinner and I... [insert time-passes thingy here] ..and then the world resumes normal speed, and I get my body back, and Iím standing there wondering what the hell happened, and what am I going to do with all this adrenalin?

Any: Sounds like the mugger triggered your fight-or-flight reflex. I assume you know of it.

Daria: Only in conjunction with stress and ulcers.

Amy: Well, now you know what itís there for. Sounds like yours works quite well.

Daria: The fight part, anyway. Wonder why it didnít have me run away at great speed?

Amy: You got me. Unless it was your boots. Iíd say theyíre much more suited to fighting. So,Whatís this about you and Helen taking Jeet Kune Do?

Daria: Not much to tell at this point. We signed up today, classes start next Tuesday. Got cute outfits. Maybe next punk who jumps me, I can kick him around without all the weirdness.

Amy: Itís always good to have options. And your second best friend? Hmm, that didnít sound quite right.

Daria: Jodie Landon, the massive overachiever. Iíve mentioned her, havenít I?

Amy: Lessee... Two type "A" parents? Worked to death?

Daria: Thatís her. Really nice kid, but she has no friends because she has no time of her own. Jane and I decided to attempt a rescue.

Amy: Uh, thatís really good-hearted of you, Daria, but I hope youíre not doing this just out of pity. If so, itís doomed to failure. I know whereof I speak.

Daria: Youíll have to tell me about that sometime, but no, Iím doing it because I really want Jodie for a friend. I came to realize how precarious my sort-of-happiness is with just one real friend. The thought slowly took shape, if Jane means that much to me, and she does, why did I stop with Jane? And I think Jane sort of picked up the idea by osmosis.

Amy: I think I was there in the kitchen with you guys when she osmosed it.

Daria: Yeah, I guess you were. Anyway, weíd been friendly with Jodie, on a stolen-seconds basis. But going from titular co-best friend to actual co-best friend is going to take a lot of time, and weíre gonna have to fight for that time for her. Poor Jodie is so overloaded. Sometimes when she walks by I swear I can smell hot bearings and smoking insulation.

Amy: When you say "fight", I hope you donít mean any sort of actual confrontation. That would be hugely counterproductive. Never try to come between a child and its parents. That triggers an instinct every bit as powerful as the fight-or-flight reflex.

Daria: Hmmm... we were working on sort of a discussion. Developing talking points and stuff.

Amy: You can do better. The best thing would be to make them think itís their idea that Jodie needs a couple of really good friends. Try hanging out at her house. Let them see how you relate to each other, how much Jodie enjoys it. Stuff like that. Youíre devious and manipulative. If you need even more deviosity, get Quinn to help.

Daria: Is "deviosity" a word?

Amy: If it isnít, it needs to be. Iím gonna copyright it right now.

Daria: Youíre still coming this weekend?

Amy : Yeah, guess so. Couldnít come up with any emergencies that would force me to cancel. Look for me sometime late Friday night, depending on how many State Police I have to seduce on the way.

Daria: Getting there is half the fun, huh?

Amy: You know I only do it for you, Daria.

Daria: Of course. Well, I have one more call to make before I can rest my weary bones. See you soon.

Amy: See ya. ĎBye. (hangs up. End split screen. Daria dials another number. We hear one ring, then a pickup. Reestablish split screen, this time with Tom, sitting at his desk, reading.)

Tom: Hello.

Daria: Hi. How was your day?

Tom: Incredibly dull. I perish of boredom. Please tell me you did something interesting today.

Daria: Got you covered.

 

 

Scene 12 Ext Sidewalk, residential Lawndale, morning. Jodie, Jane, and Daria are walking to school. Daria wears an emerald green short sleeved sweater, khaki slacks, and oxblood loafers.

Jodie: That shot of the mugger with that bootprint on his forehead was so cool! Imagine how surprised he must have been when that tiny woman turned out to be this mighty Kung Fu warrior!

Daria: (rolls her eyes) Yeah, imagine. Now that youíre warmed up, imagine youíre the tiny woman, and havenít the faintest idea that youíre this mighty Kung Fu warrior, and then the mugger lunges at you.

Jodie: Huh?

Daria: Now imagine itís next morning, and everyoneís talking about you, and trying to guess who you are, and news crews and paparazzi are scouring the town, hunting you down like youíre the guest of honor at one of those English foxhunts.

Jane: Uhh, Daria, are you working on a new short story?

Daria: Eventually, I guess. If I survive. But the fox never does, does he? The hounds always tear him to shreds. Or her.

Jodie: Daria, are you saying youíre the mi- (stress begins to show in Dariaís eyes) the tiny woman?

Daria: If Iíd known this was gonna happen, Iídíve made Quinn eat chinese like the rest of us. Or better yet, locked all the doors and eaten frozen lasagna.

(cut to: Extreme closeup, Janeís face, shocked, Ĺ second; Extreme closeup, Jodieís face, shocked, Ĺ second; Extreme closeup, Dariaís face, grim, ĺ second, each accompanied by one shreiking, crashing chord. Then cut back to previous scene.)

Jane: Setting aside my astonishment for the nonce, donít you think maybe youíre awfulizing a bit here? I havenít seen any paparazzi or news crews. (a TV remote van passes them from behind, heading toward Lawndale High) Oops.

Daria: (giving Jane a dirty look) Had to say it, didnít you?

Jodie: Likewise putting aside my astonishment, itís not really all that bad. Whatís the worst that can happen?

Daria: I get trampled to death in the media feeding frenzy.

Jodie: Címon, Daria. Aside from that, whatís the worst that can happen?

Daria: Every mugger in the country comes gunning for me, to make a rep for himself.

Jane: Jodie, Dariaís never been defeated at "Whatís The Worst That Can Happen". Sheís a natural.

Daria: I catch Dengue Fever from a contaminated microphone shoved in my face. I get prosecuted for violating the muggerís civil rights.

Jodie: All right, all right, I give!

Jane: Realistically, Daria, all they want is a few seconds of face time and a sound byte. Enough to round out the story for a filler toward the end of the dayís news. Then youíve had your 15 seconds of fame and can languish away in obscurity and die in poverty like the rest of us.

Jodie: Right. All you have to do is stand up, look straight into the lens, and say, "I kicked the mugger in the head because..."

Jane: Yeah. Retrieving my astonishment, why the bleep did you kick the mugger in the head? And for Quinnís chicken snack? And how did you do it with such spectacular success?

Daria: You ever hear of the fight-or-flight reflex? Thatís what Amy says it is. Apparently the fight part of mine works quite well. And now the flight part is telling me to run for the tall timber and stay there for at least two weeks.

Jodie: Youíd get Ďway behind on your homework. Come on, Daria. Tell us what it was like.

Daria: (head shot. Slow zoom in on Dariaís deadpan face, target: the bridge of her glasses) Mnnrrr...All right. Imagine youíre the star of one of those stupid movies theyíre making from video games these days. Theyíre prepping you for battle. They give you eight or ten times your normal strength and four times your normal speed. Then they disconnect your brain and hook up a ruthless combat computer preprogrammed with all the best moves, tactics, and strategies, a computer so fast that, even as fast as you now are, to the computer it seems like half or quarter normal speed. Then they plug your brain into the computerís monitor port so you can watch but not interfere, and send it into combat in control of your body. Now imagine all that happening instantaneously, with no warning or explanation. Thatís what itís like. (back to group shot)

Jodie: Great Googly Moogly!

Jane ( bug-eyed, struggling to grasp the concept) Um, Daria, are you exaggerating hugely just to see if my jaw will drop totally off my skull?

Daria: Nope. Youíll see one day if you keep walking on the wild side. The mugger never had a chance. I kicked him left knee, right knee, forehead, in about a second. Iím a little surprised he survived.

Jodie: Wow! So how did you get out of killer computer mode?

Daria: Popped out automatically when he hit the ground and lay there.

Jane: There must be some sort of price to be paid for all that speed and power. Are you all right?

Daria: Yeah. I guess even a flabby little body like mine can deliver three kicks to an unchallenging target. There was a price, though. The physical mechanism that provided all that strength and speed was, of course, adrenalin. When I got my body back, it was full of the stuff. I had urges to uproot trees and flip cars over, just to get rid of it. And there were control problems. I almost ripped the door off the chinese restaurant.

Jodie: Oh, my gosh. Look. In front of the school.

Jane: The media circus is in town. (all three stop walking)

Daria: Damn, theyíre fast. But why? Why me? That sort of thing must happen hundreds of times a day, all across the country. Iíve never seen a single nerdy-girl-saves-chicken-from-mugger story! Not one! Why me?

Jane: Itís mediagenic. That great visual of the bootprint on the muggerís forehead, plus the witnessís funny description of the old black woman with blonde hair and red beard. Plus the fact that heís obviously protecting the heroine, the mysterious mistress of the martial arts . Plus, thereís been a juicy-news drought for over a week now. Theyíre desperate.

Daria: Awww, hell! Why do you have to make it sound so plausible? Well, I have to assume they know my name by now. And that Ms. Li also knows, and is prepared to take me into custody as soon as I show myself.

Jodie: Thatís not so bad. Better her than the mob.

Daria: True. But she wonít have my welfare in mind. Sheís only thinking of one thing. Say it with me nowó

Chorus: The ~Honor~ of Laaawnndaaale Hi-i-i-igh!

Daria: By which she means the personal aggrandizement of Angela Li. Sheíll take me into her office, stand me up against the wall, put her arm around my shoulder, and call in the thundering herd. Does that sound about right so far?

Jodie: Youíre nailing it. Repugnant, but not life-threatening. You knew you werenít going to enjoy it, right?

Daria: Right, up to that point. But what if the press doesnít want to leave? What if they keep thinking of one more question, shooting a few more seconds of video? How will Ms. Li get rid of them? Bet she hasnít thought of that. Thereís only one exit. The jackals have me cornered. They close in. What if that trips my fight-or-flight reflex, with the now-freshly-travelled neural pathway? How many do you suppose Iíll take with me? How many philistines can I slay with the strength of ten and a twenty-pound TV camera?

Jane: Daria, youíre awfulizing again. Theyíre not really jackals.

Daria: They do get like that sometimes. We all know it. There is a definite non-zero chance my worst-case scenario will occur. Considering the consequences, Iím not willing to risk it. Iíll have to talk to the media now, at some point, but I donít have to do it in Ms. Liís office. Oh! (slaps forehead) I have to make a statement to the police today, too. Forgot about that. So did Mom, Iíll bet. The police station would be a much better place to meet the press than Liís cul-de-sac office. Must get to a phone. Canít go home. If they know my name, theyíll have my address.

Jodie: My homeís less than three blocks. Less than two, if we cut through a couple of yards right up here.

Daria: Lead the way. (the three turn, head back the way they came at a run.)

 

 

Scene 13 Ext Lawndale High, looking toward main entrance from street. Sandi and Stacy stand in front of the landscaped Lawndale High sign, looking outward past the camera position. Stacy waves, beckons. After a few seconds, Quinn enters foreground, passing camera position on left, walks toward Sandi and Stacy.

Quinn: Hey, guys! Whatís going on?

Sandi: We were just going to ask you that, Quinn. Theyíre looking for a short girl, brown hair, big round glasses, green top, black skirt, black combat boots, expert in martial arts. Sound like anyone you know?

Quinn: (gasps, whirls around, looks back the way she came) Ohh, no... (sees Daria, Jane, and Jodie in the distance; to herself:) Go back! (begins to run in their direction, stops as she sees them turn and move rapidly away; barely audible:) Yes! Run, Daria, run!

 Sandi: (coming up behind Quinn, with Stacy) Quinn?

Quinn: (turns to face Sandi and Stacy) Well, I donít know any martial arts experts...

Sandi: (more insistent) Quiinnn?

Quinn: ...But the description does sound like Daria.

Tiffany: (approaching from crowd) Yeaaahhh.. I told them thereís only one personnn that could beee... 

Quinn: You told them?! You IDIOT!! This isnít the fashion press! These people play rough! And now theyíre all gonna be camped in my front yard!! (advances on Tiffany)

Sandi: (steps between Quinn and Tiffany) That is a definite rule violation, Tiffany. All statements to the media must be cleared through the president. We will discuss disciplinary action later. And, Quinn, there is also a rule against killing a fellow fashion club member. Now, perhaps youíd be so kind as to inform your friends why the national media are so interested in your weird cousin, or whatever.

Quinn: (sighs) Sister, Sandi. Well, I guess the catís out of the bag now, or will be very soon. You know that mysterious woman who kicked the crap out of the mugger yesterday? It was Daria. And the chicken wasnít even hers. It was for me.

Stacy: Really? Thatís amazing, Quinn! But I thought you said she didnít know martial arts.

Quinn: She doesnít. (sighs again) Apparently she doesnít need to.

 

 

 

Scene 14 Ext Landon home. Jodie, Jane, and Daria [trailing and puffing] run up to the front door. Cut to- Int Landon home, kitchen/dining area. Michelle Landon is feeding Evan, her youngest, looks up as the girls enter.

Jodie: Mom, Daria needs to use the phone.

Michelle: Certainly, Daria. (gestures at phone) Jodie, is something wrong? (Daria picks up phone, starts dialing)

Jodie: The media are after her. They-- (looks questioningly at Daria, who gestures "Sure, why not?") found out sheís the one who beat up the mugger yesterday.

Daria: (split screen; Helen at her desk at work) Mom? The media are onto me. They have the school surrounded. I canít walk into that. I was thinking, if I go to the police station and make my statement, theyíll be waiting when I get through, and I can talk to them on the station steps, and theyíre likely to be better behaved. What do you think?

Helen: Good grief, Daria, you make it sound like there are hundreds of them. That makes no sense. How many, really?

Daria: (slightly exasperated) I didnít count them, but it looked like nearly a hundred to me. At least fifty. (Michelleís eyes widen at this. Andrew Landon appears from the family room.)

Helen: What the... All right. The police station sounds good. Where are you now?

Daria: At the Landonsí. Should I call a cab? Ask for a police car?

Michelle: (pushes the speaker button on the phone base unit) Helen? Michelle Landon. Weíll drive Daria to the police station. Donít you worry.

Helen: Thank you so much, Michelle. Daria, Iíll meet you there. Iím bringing Wanda, the firmís PR specialist. Love you, sweetie!

Daria: Love you, Mom. ĎBye.

Michelle: Andrew, Why donít you drive Daria to the police station, and be sure she gets inside okay. Jodie, youíre going to be late! Here, hold Evan. You and... Jane, is it? (Jane smiles and nods) get in my car. Iíll take you to school.. (All exit)

 

 

Scene 15 Andrew Landonís Benz, enroute to police station, a few minutes later. Daria is in the front passenger seat.

Andrew: (grins) So it was you who beat up that mugger yesterday! I must admit, you were pretty far down on my suspect list.

Daria: (tiny smile) I was pretty far down on mine, until it happened.

Andrew: How close are the news stories to being accurate?

Daria: Well, the descriptionís pretty far off. (Andrew grins again) The part about it happening very quickly is true. I know nothing about martial arts except what Iíve seen in movies. Oddly enough, Mom and I were on our way home from signing up for Jeet Kune Do lessons. Weíd stopped to pick up some chinese takeout, and I was getting the chicken for my sister Quinn. This guy was gonna knock me down and take it, and... something bad kind of happened to him. I was more surprised than he was.

Andrew: Ahh. It sounds like he triggered your fight-or-flight reflex. The extreme brevity of the encounter suggested that to me last night.

Daria: Thatís what my Aunt Amy thought. But you sound as if you speak from experience.

Andrew: Youíre right. Once in college, seven guys jumped me, and triggered mine.

Daria: Only seven? You demolished them, right? I felt like I could have handled at least ten myself. You probably couldíve taken out the whole football team.

Andrew: Actually, they were on the football team. Yes, after the power and speed kicked in, it was pretty one-sided in my favor. But they got in quite a few punches before that.

Daria: Thatís odd. For me it kicked in as soon as I realized I was in trouble. He never touched me. Or even the chicken.

Andrew: Hmmm.. As soon as you realized... Well, Iíll be! I bet thatís it! It took me that long to admit to myself that I was in trouble! Iíve wondered about that... Well. You say you and your mother signed up for Jeet Kune Do lessons?

Daria: Yes. Ms. Morris, our PE teacher, said they were the best in the area for self-defense. It even counts as an extracurricular activity.

Andrew: Hmmm... Iíve been thinking about a self-defense course for Jodie. A father canít always be around to look after his children, much as heíd like to.

Daria: Thatís true. This class is Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 to 8 pm., starting next Tuesday. There are two slots left. It would be great to be in the same class with Jodie, and if we were both signed up, we could probably get Jane to sign up, too.

Andrew: It sounds like something she would enjoy, and that would benefit her at the same time. Iíll mention it to her this evening.

Daria: (thinks: Omigod, what have I done? Weíre supposed to be getting Jodie out of activities!) Uh, Mr. Landon, how about letting me ask her? If she thought I was going behind her back...

Andrew: (slightly puzzled) All right, Daria, if you think so. She is kind of sensitive about her activities. We do want her to have friends, even if she doesnít always think so.

Daria: Friends are very important, Mr. Landon. In fact, it was just a few weeks ago that I found out how priceless a real, true friend can be. Iíd like to tell you that story, but it takes a while, and itís still kind of painful for me.

Andrew: Why would you want to tell me that story if it would hurt you?

Daria: For Jodie. When you hear it, youíll understand.

Andrew. Hmm. I see. No, I donít. Well, hereís the police station.

Daria: There seem to be too many people standing in front of the entrance.

Andrew: Yes. Letís check out the back door. (Andrew drives past the station, turns the corner. Behind the station is the lot where police cruisers are parked. It is enclosed in a razorwireĖtopped chain link fence, and the gate is guarded. Andrew pulls up to the gate.)

Guard: Only police vehicles beyond this point.

Andrew: I know. This young lady wishes to make a statement regarding an attempted mugging last night, and there are media people blocking the front entrance.

Guard: In that case, you can go through that door over there, Miss. Itís a double door. I can buzz you through the first one, but the officer inside controls the second one. Iíll call him, but you may have to wait a minute.

Daria: (gets out of car) Okay, thanks. And thank you, Mr. Landon. I enjoyed talking with you.

Andrew: My pleasure, Daria. (smiles, backs out onto the street, drives away.)

Daria turns and heads for the rear entrance.

 

 

Scene 16 Ext Lawndale High, looking toward front entrance. The FC are still in the foreground. 

 Ms. Li: (hurrying from crowd, agitated) Miss Morgendorfer, where is your older sister?

Quinn: Uh, I donít know, Ms. Li. I left the house before she did this morning.

Ms. Li: I want you to notify me the minute you see her coming. In the interest of maintaining order and discipline, I must escort her directly to my office. And for her own safety, of course. (spins on heels, marches back toward front doors)

Quinn: (waits till Ms. Li is well out of earshot) Yeah, right

Stacy: Quinn, youíre really protective of your sister. I think thatís great, but...

Quinn: But what changed? Yeah. Itís like, she used to be this really weird, creepy brain. But lately, I got to know her better, and sheís, like, a whole other person, like really strong, but vulnerable, and, kind of... sweet.

Tiffany: I rememberrr. Soo, sheís not a... weirrd brainnn any more?

Quinn: Thatís the strange part. Sheís even weirder and brainier than I ever realized, but... in a good way. Not creepy.

Sandi: Well whatever she did, Quinn, tell her if she can do it to my brothers, Iíll give her, like, all my stuff. (gasps from other three FC members) That is, of course, as long as I get to go out and buy new stuff. (all four laugh)

Stacy: Iím glad Iím not her right now. What do you think sheíll do, Quinn?

Quinn: Well, she wonít be walking into that. (indicates media mob with thumb over shoulder) Or Ms. Liís office either. Iíll bet sheís got it figured out by now.

Man: (shouting in background) She just showed up at the police station!

Quinn: Ha! Way to go, kiddo! (the four turn to watch the chaos unfold)

Tiffany: What are theyy dooingg to Mizzz Leee..?

Stacy: Bet theyíre not hugging.

Quinn: Haha! Got that right!

Tiffany: Staacyyy! Eewwww!

Sandi: Whatever it is, Ms. Li is pissed! I recommend we not be the last students through those doors.

Quinn: I second that. Címon, guys! (the FC make their way rapidly to the main entrance, then inside)

 

 

 

Scene 17 Int Lawndale Police Station. Daria sits at the end of one of those gray steel desks inflicted by the millions on low-level government employees in the recent past. A young police officer labors at an IBM Selectric typewriter, its voluptuous lines encrusted with decades of widely various crud. Helen sits nearby, as does a younger woman dressed in a similar but sand-colored business suit accented with a green, blue, and purple scarf in the jacket pocket.

Police officer: Well, that looks fairly complete. Daria, if youíll look this over and sign it, weíll be through here. (hands statement to Daria) That neighborhood will be happy to be free of Mr. Johnson for awhile.

Daria: (speedreads statement, hands it to Helen) Looks correct to me. (Helen and Wanda begin reading the statement) When will he go to trial?

Police officer: Heíll plea bargain. But heís a habitual offender, so heíll do two years minimum. You know, Daria, Iíve had to type up over a dozen statements and reports that include references to this fight-or-flight reflex, and itís a tough thing to put down on paper. Your description is the clearest, most concise and lucid Iíve seen. Itís likely to be used as an example around here for some time to come.

Daria: (tiny smile) Why, thank you. Iím always happy to help out my local police.

Helen: (handing the statement back to Daria) Go ahead and sign it, sweetie, and weíll discuss your press statement.

Daria: (signing statement) I canít believe youíre using a typewriter for this! Did you do something heinous, like forget the donuts?

Officer: (chuckles) Some long-ago supply genius ordered a ton of pre-printed forms the week before typewriters went obsolete. We have to keep a couple around till theyíre all used up. Which will be about the week before I retire.

Daria: (hands over form) Donít you ever arrest any skilled arsonists? (turns, walks to Helen and Wanda. The officer is seen making a "hmmm" gesture on his chin.)

Wanda: Hi, Daria. Iím Wanda. Helen, do you think you can get a policeman to bring your car to the rear entrance? Letís walk over here and get a look at the audience. (heads toward front windows) Since this is a pretty short story, and not headline stuff, I think your best move is to tell them an abbreviated version of what you just told the police, then take some questions.(they look out the windows. Below are upwards of a hundred people, but most are engineers and technicians.) This wonít be too bad. Use small words, answer questions briefly, say you were scared, you donít understand what happened, you need to get to school. Make a funny or two if you get a chance. You want to give them all they need for the story so they wonít keep after you. When the questions start repeating, say thanks and goodbye and duck back inside. Helen?

Helen: Itís being brought around now.

Wanda: Great. Letís go downstairs. Daria, any questions?

 

 

 

Scene 18 Lawndale Police Station, front steps. Daria stands just outside the front entrance, flanked by two uniformed police. Helen and Wanda are behind her. She is speaking to the media, who stand on the steps and the sidewalk. TV cameras are among the crowd and atop several vans parked in the street. Still cameras flash repeatedly from everywhere.

Daria: ...Then I walked back to the chinese restaurant, and we picked up our food and went home. (A babble of questions rises, most unintelligible.) No, I have no martial arts training. No, Iíve never been mugged before. Yes, I was very frightened. ...I didnít know what to do. ...it just happened. ...I need to go to school now. ...Lawndale High. ...Aís ...I still think Lawndale is a good place to live. ...I hope he recovers and turns his life around. ...No, never before. ...the chicken was for my sister Quinn. ...No, next time she eats chinese like the rest of us. ...I really need to go to school now....No, He was going to hit me but he didnít get to. ...I donít know. ...Yes, I was very frightened. Thank you. Gotta go. Bye. Wanda, Helen, and Daria disappear inside. The two police close in and stand stolidly, blocking the doors.

 

 

 

Scene 19 Int Mr. OíNeillís writing class

Mr. OíNeill: Now, class, today, in honor of Dariaís- Oh. I wish Daria were here.

Daria: Iím not here? I thought I was here. Where am I?

Mr. OíNeill: Oh, there you are, Daria! I didnít recognize you in those clothes. Uhh, you look very nice today. Heh.

Daria: (underwhelmed) Thanks.

Mr. OíNeill: As I was saying, in honor of Dariaís courageous battle with the malefactor yesterday, I want us all to write about an incident in our lives in which we could have used the superhuman strength Daria displayed, and how it would have changed the outcome of the incident. It can be a real or fictitious event, and you donít have to specify which.

Daria: (sotto voce, to Jane) Courageous battle? Didnít he listen, or does he just not get it?

Jane: (also sotto voce) Does it make a difference? Are you gonna set him straight?

Daria: (s.v.) Would it make a difference? (normal voice) Mr. OíNeill, in our fictitious incidents, can we commit fictitious felonies? If so, how many? And can they be homicides? (Mr. OíNeill shows horrified expression)

Kevin: Mr. O! Can this be, like, something that happened to Ratboy? (Mr. OíNeillís expression turns to frustrated resignation, partially obscured by his hand.)

 

 

Scene 20 Int Mr. DeMartinoís history class

Mr. DeMartino: ToDAY, students, we will postPONE our study of the battle of CRECY and instead examine a special group of PEOPLE. Members of several NORDic tribes, these men would WHIP themselves into a RAGE...

Daria: I begin to sense a pattern emerging here.

DeMartino: ...giving themselves SUPerHUman STRENGTH in BATTLE!

Jodie: Be strong, Daria.

Daria: Very funny.

DeMartino: FEARED alike by FRIEND and FOE, these men were known as BERSERKERS!

Daria: Mmnerrrghhh!

 

 

Scene 21 Cafeteria.

Daria: (finishes signing a series of autographs) Is every teacher in school doing this? Or just every one of mine?

Jodie: Youíre surprised? They all go to the same conferences and seminars. Theyíre just striving for relevancy.

Jane: Iím waiting for PE next period. Think Ms. Morris will ask you to do a demo?

Daria: She should be careful what she asks for. She just might get it.

Jodie: Your outfit really threw Mr. OíNeill off this morning.

Jane: You mean he was on before? I missed it. But why did you wear that today? You look great, but...

Daria: I didnít want to wear my usual, because that was what the witnesses saw me in.

Jane: You mean you were wearing your trademark outfit when you kicked that oaf in the forehead? Daria, do you realize what that means?! You gave him a panty shot!

Daria: (thumps head down on table, attempts to cover it with arms) Ohhhh!

Jodie: Jane, youíre awful! Shame on you!

Jane: (grins) I thought that was what you liked about me.

Daria: (muffled by hair and arm) I didnít give it to him; he paid for it. (straightens up) And I seriously doubt he managed to retain that particular memory, coming as it did a few thousandths of a second before severe brain trauma.

Jane: Strangers paying to see your panties on the street. Hmmm...

Daria: Rein in your entrepreneurial spirit, pimp girl. Thereís plenty more brain trauma where that came from.

 

 

Scene 22 Int Ms. Barchís science class

Ms. Barch: Class, today, instead of the assigned topic of red and brown dwarfs, we are going to discuss the fight-or-flight reaction. Daria, could you give us an example of the fight-or-flight reaction, please?

Daria springs from her stool and dashes out the door.

Ms. Barch: Umm...

 

 Scene 23 int Lawndale High, hallway, between classes. Daria has stopped Mack.

Daria: Mack, speaking semi-hypothetically, what would you think about a standing date with Jodie every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 8 pm?

Mack: That would be a huge improvement on our current social life. Could we get slightly less hypothetical?

Daria: How about Jeet Kune Do lessons? (Mack frowns slightly) Plus driving her to and from? (Mack brightens a little) Sheíd be wearing a really cute chinese kung fu outfit. (Mack smiles) and practicing all these Bruce Lee- type moves. (Mackís smile widens) Perhaps you could be her partner. (Mackís smile is approaching fatuous) Or my motherís.

Mack: What?!

Daria: (Mona Lisa smile) Oh, didnít I mention Mom and I are signed up for this class? We have cute outfits, too. But you donít have to practice with Mom if you donít want to.

Mack: (rueful grin) Conversing with you is like driving the Baja 500 sometimes. You never know when youíll hit an arroyo. Okay, Iíll risk it. What do I do?

Daria: (handing Mack a scrap of paper) Call this number. Ask how many slots are left in the class starting next Tuesday evening. If the answer is two or more, reserve two. Then walk to Jodieís house with us after school today and help me talk her into it. I happen to know her father will approve, but donít tell her that.

Mack: Gotcha. Thanks, Daria. (turns, heads for pay phone down the hall.)

Daria: (sotto voce) Thank you, Mack. Whatís a Baja 500?

 

 

Scene 24 Ext Landon home. Cut to- Int Landon home, Living room.

Jodie: ...Ms Barch just said "Umm... " and stood there with her mouth open! Her expression was priceless! Iím really sorry you couldnít see it, Daria.

Daria: Yeah, me too. I usually donít do physical comedy, but I just couldnít pass up a straight line like that. Especially since Iíd been fighting the urge to run out of classes all day.

Jane: You donít do physical comedy? How do you classify that demo you did in gym class? You fell over seven times!

Jodie: Iím glad you came back when you did. I think she was about to do something really bad to Chuck.

Daria: I rescued Upchuck?! Darn! I came back because I was afraid sheíd do something to Mack! (Jodie, Mack, and Jane laugh. Mr. And Mrs. Landon smile.)

Jane: Oh, Daria! You wonít believe this! Just as we were about to go inside this morning, a guy came out of one of those transmitter vans, yelling, "She just showed up at the police station!" , and then everyone was swarming around Ms. Li with their hands out, and she was giving them wads of money! She had SOLD them access to your press conference! All these tech types were running out of her office loaded down with equipment, and all the trucks and vans and rent-a-cars peeled out, and there she stood, mad as a wet hen! Talk about priceless!

Daria: Gee, you donít think this will jeopardize my most-favored-pupil status, do you?

Jodie: Ooh. Gosh, Daria, maybe you should be extra good for the next week or so.

Daria: And/or put Mom on retainer.

 Mack: (nudges Jodieís elbow)

Jodie: Dad, Mom, I want to take a self-defense course at the Jeet Kune Do school. Ms. Morris says itís the best course available in the area, and Iíll get extracurricular credit for it.

Michelle: It sounds good, sugar, but do you have time for it?

Jodie: Iíll have to drop the yearbook and piano lessons. Iíll still be able to list them on my applications.

Michelle: But Jodie! You play so well!

Jodie: I can pick it back up later, when I have more time. I really want to take this class, Mom. Dariaís in it, and Mack. And the world is a dangerous place. Ask Dad. Or Daria.

Michelle: Andrew?

Andrew. I think Itís an excellent idea, Michelle. I worry about Jodie off at college all alone. Youíve read those statistics.

Michelle: Well, if you think so, I guess I agree.

Jodie: Great! Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Dad.

Daria: Mack, how many slots did they have when you called?

Mack: Three. So thereís still an opening.

Jodie: Jane, how about you? Letís all do it!

Daria: Itís not like youíll have anything better to do in that time slot. All the cool people are already signed up.

Mack: You know itíll be full of hunky guys.

Jane: Guys, Iíd really like to, but I donít think I can afford it right now. Dadís in Turkey, and the exchange rate for Turk Lira is lousy.

Andrew: Jane, if you would like to, will you allow me to pay for your lessons? Michelle and I really do want Jodie to be with her friends more.

Jane: Well, uh, I guess it doesnít violate any of my core principles. Sure, Mr. Landon, that would be great! Thanks!

Mack (hands Jane a scrap of paper) Why donít you call and reserve the slot, and Iíll go get my car and drive us down to sign up.

 

 

Scene 25 Int Mackís car. Mack and Jodie up front, Jane and Daria in back.

Mack: So, Jane, whatís your dad doing in Turkey?

Jane: He has a contract with their Ministry of Antiquities. Heís doing a photo essay on King Midasí flush toilets.

Mack: King Midas was real? I donít suppose he really had the Midas Touch?

Jane: Dad said his Midas Touch was really the location of his kingdom, Phrygia, athwart the Silk Road to China. Hey, I used "athwart" in a sentence!

Jodie: Mmm, silk. I wouldnít mind importing a little silk from China.

Daria: You can, as soon as you get signed up. They have practice outfits just like what the actors wear in those old-timey kung fu movies. Theyíre real silk and theyíre gorgeous.

Mack: Wow. Dariaís granting wishes left and right today. I wish Jodie and I could spend some time together at the pool. Daria, can you do that?

Daria: Granted. An hour a day, five days a week. Iíll even throw in extracurricular credit, if Jodieíll help me with the paperwork.

Jodie: (gasps) Daria,donít kid about something like that! That would be so great, if we could do it, but my parents would never let me have that much time, especially just after I dropped yearbook and piano lessons!

Daria: (sighs theatrically) Landon, your lack of confidence pains me. All right. Iíll... Iíll increase your IQ by five percent every month. I think your parents will approve that.

Jodie: (sadly) I knew it. Youíre kidding. Not funny, Daria.

Daria: I am not kidding. The IQ boost is the object of the exercise. The catch is you have to actually swim, not just lay around looking hot. I found it on a cognitive-enhancement website. I canít guarantee it works, but Iím going to try it.

Jodie: I think I love you! Uhh, but not in that way. But can I rip a whole hour out of every day? What time will this class be?

Daria: Itís not a class, just an exercise. We donít all have to do it together, although that would be nice. What you do is...

Mack: (interrupts) This is the place, right?

Daria: Yeah, this is it.

 

 

Scene 26 Int Mackís car, 20 minutes later. Headed South on Aspen street, back towards Jodieís house. Jodie and Jane are admiring each otherís new practice outfits.

Jodie: Mack, you should have gotten that silvery-gray one. Youíd look so ho-err, sharp in it. (puts fingers to lips in "oops" gesture, might be blushing)

Mack: (grins) Ho-err Sharp, huh? In that case, Iíl definitely get it.

Jane: (mischievous grin) Hey, look! A chicken place, just past that chinese place! Hey, Daria, want some chicken?

Daria: Hey, Jane, want an unscheduled kung fu lesson? Drive on!

Mack: Driviní, Miss Daria.

 

La la LA la la

 

The End.

 

Notes: 

IQ enhancement by swimming underwater- I really did see this on a cognitive-enhancement website about a year and a half ago. I was going to provide a link, but couldnít find it again. Expanded carotid arteries = increased blood flow to brain = more oxygen = brain works better = higher IQ. I think itís in a book by Win Wenger. I havenít tried it.

Fight or Flight reflex- What I wrote is based partly on my experiences and partly on what I read about it- none of it very recent.

King Midasís flush toilets- He had Ďem, Iíve seen Ďem. When I was at the palace dig, they hadnít yet determined whether they were constant-flow or sluice gate operated. Parenthetically, his tomb is at the bottom of the worldís biggest burial mound- and still growing. He promised heíd grant a wish to anyone whoíd schlep a basketful of dirt to the top of the mound and dump it. You can see it for about 30 miles. 

 

As I worked on this story, I began to feel a need not to go directly to the "Amyís weekend visit" story (whatever that might turn out to be) but to write a Season One-ish story. Then last night (June 24) an idea came. Daria fixes a Lions football game by... writing a Melody Powers/Ratboy crossover fic. I see several possibilities here, and I want to be sure I go with the best one. Itís still just an idea, but Iím hoping itíll help me get through the dark, bleak days ahead. As I type this, two hours ago, I finished taping #513, Boxing Daria. But Iím not going to kill myself. Iím not. Iím going to write "Blood Oath of the Patriots". (working title)

 

Disclaimer

 "Daria" and all related characters are trademarks of MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International, inc. The author does not claim copyright to these characters or to anything else in the "Daria" milieu; he does, however, claim copyright to all those parts of this work of fiction which are original to him and not to MTV or to other fanfic authors. This fanfic may be freely copied and distributed provided its contents remain unchanged, provided the author's name and email address are included, and provided that the distributor does not use it for monetary profit. (as if.)

  Galen Hardesty [gehardesty@yahoo.com]