Daria rubbed the bridge of her nose, replaced her glasses and began typing:
Iím not sure where Quinn found it, but it damned sure didnít come from any pet store on this planet. It was cute, Iíll give it that much; small and furry, yellow and white, a sweet cooing purr and big bright eyes. That was all a show though. Everyone went on and on about what it resembled; Tweety Bird crossed with a tribble and a furby, but no one else saw the major langolier genes tossed into that genetic slurry. No one else still alive saw it that is.
I need to calm down and tell this from the beginning. I know this sounds like the ranting of a lunatic, but I promise you itís true. Thereís a lot I donít know, and more I canít even begin to fathom. Hell the pure logistics of it alone are mind boggling.
But anyway... the beginning; Quinn showed up home with it curled up in her arms. She had it set up in her room, showing it her favorite outfits almost immediately. Neither mom or dad actually said she could keep the thing.
Dad began ranting about ol' mad dog not letting him have a dog... or was it a cat, hell it might have been a manatee for all I know. When dad gets ranting any point he tries to make gets lost fast.
Mom started to lay down the law, then the cell phone rang and Eric demanded her attention. That was pretty much the end of any parental intervention as far as the thing went.
I think its safe to say to say the thing didn't like me from the start. When Quinn first showed it to me I tried to pick it up while asking her what it was, and it growled long and low in its throat. It nipped at me too, but Quinn just pulled it out of my grasp and acted like Iíd bitten at it. While she cuddled and cooed at it she hissed at me, "It's a chinchilla."
God, I'll never understand Daria as long as I live. Being a brain must be such a pain in the butt.
I mean how could she say that stuff about my Snookums? He's soooooo cute!
I wish he could talk though. Last night was really weird. Okay - so Carter turned out to be a creep. Who does he think he is, anyway? Imagine! Thinking that he could get away with taking me to that crappy drive in movie and that I'd make out with him! That's bad enough, but then disappearing like that! And leaving his car there? What a weirdo! And my poor Snookums! I bet Carter let him out of the car just so's he'd get lost. Or run over! Lucky for him that I found Snookums. But it was weird. I mean if Carter was going to leave me there why didn't he take his car?
Thank goodness of Joey Jeffy and Jehosephat. They'd obviously been fighting over who was going to come and pick me up. They're so harmless. Even Snookums seems to like them. At least he doesn't growl at them.
Oooh! That Carter! If I ever see him again he'd better look out!
"Look - I know it sounds crazy, Jane, but that thing creeps me out."
"It doesn't sound crazy at all Daria. I mean it's small, cute, fluffy, big eyes. What could be creepier than that?"
"Don't be a pain, Lane. I'm serious."
"Oh Daria. Loosen up."
"Loosen up? Three times, Jane! You call that a co-incidence? Three times in two weeks! Quinn has never been deserted by a date. Never! And now three times she goes to the bathroom, comes back and finds...dammit! I don't believe I'm saying this!"
"Hey - maybe the jocks are just getting smarter!"
"Right. Smarter. Yeah - that's it. Why didn't I think of that? They all decided that Quinn was shallow and boring and left while she was in the bathroom, but they decided to leave her their cars as a parting gift. That makes perfect sense!"
"You're really rattled about this, aren't you Daria?"
"You haven't seen it."
"Maybe it's time I did then! Come on, why don't you introduce us? It sounds like a great idea for an artwork actually. The Chinchilla That Ate My Date."
"Okay - jeez! This has really got you going, hasn't it?"
"Quinn, I don't know what you're doing, but it had better stop."
"Me? Whatever do you mean, Sandi?"
"Gee, Quinn, I'm sure that you don't have anything to do with the fact that none of us have been getting dates for the last two weeks."
"But Sandi! What could I possibly have to do with that?"
"Well Quinn, if it's not something that you're doing it's either something that we're doing or else you're suggesting that we're somehow no longer attractive. Is that it, Quinn?"
"Oh no, Sandi. No-one could be more attractive than you!"
"Yes. Well then, Quinn, how do you explain this sudden lack of dates? Could it be anything to do with what they're saying about you?"
"Saying about me, Sandi?"
"Yes, Quinn. Stacy - would you please tell Quinn what you overheard Robert saying yesterday?"
"Don't be shy, Stacy. I'm sure that Quinn would want to know, wouldn't you Quinn?"
"Err, of course I would Sandi."
"I thought so. Stacy?"
"Stop that, Stacy. Here. Breath into this paper bag."
"You're welcome Stacy. So, Quinn. It would seem that whatever you're doing to your dates is having the undesirable effect of making the Fashion Club UNfashionable. Am I right, Tiffany?"
"Tut. Quinn. Unfashionable."
"I rest my case Quinn."
"Quinn - this is hardly something that you're in a position to argue about. As President of the Fashion Club it is my duty to...what's that noise coming from your purse?"
"Er, nothing Sandi. It's just, my...cell phone. I set the alarm but there must be something wrong."
"It's a most unpleasant noise Quinn, you should get it fixed. But you're right. It's time to go. Stacy, please make a note on the agenda for the next meeting to review Quinn's choice of cell phone alarms."
"Uh, Sandi, can I use your bathroom before I go."
"Very well Quinn. You know where it is. I'll show Stacy and Tiffany out."
"Come on Daria. This is ridiculous. Please let me see it. Please?"
"No Jane! Jeez - it's getting weirder by the day. Sandi's disappeared and Stacy's taken over the running of the Fashion Club."
"Stacy? You mean Little Miss Hyperventilation?"
"The same. But it's no joke Jane. They had a meeting round at Sandi's house, Quinn went to the bathroom and when she got back Sandi and her cat, Fluffy, had gone and they haven't shown up since!"
"Daria - get a grip. Do you realise what you're saying?"
"Jane - I am not going to let you near that thing. I don't want you going missing!"
"Okay, okay. Jeez!"
"Hi Mrs Morgendorffer."
"Oh, hello Jane. You've missed Daria I'm afraid - she left for the library ten minutes ago."
Oh. Okay, well, I'll...er, I don't suppose Quinn's in?"
"Quinn? Well, I'm not sure. Go on up if you like."
Jane knocked quietly on Quinn's door. No response. She knocked harder but there was still no response so she slowly pushed the door open a crack and looked in. It was sitting on Quinn's bed, looking straight at her with those big eyes. She slid hrough the open door and pushed it shut behind her.
Jane stifled a laugh. "Oooh - you're sooo cute!" She slowly walked over to it and, hearing it making a sound that was similar to, but not quite the same as, a cat purring, she tentatively approached it and knelt down beside the bed. She gingerly reached out a hand and gently stroked it on the head, to find it responded just the way a cat would have, closing its eyes and pushing back against the pressure of her hand. Jane was captivated.
"How could Daria think a cute thing like you is some sort of a deranged killing machine? After all you like Quinn - how smart can you BE?"
The purr changed to a growl.
"Oh, Daria. Jane's here."
"Jane? When did she arrive?"
"About half an hour ago. I told her that you'd gone to the library but she wanted to visit Quinn for some...Daria?"
So now Jane's gone.
To hell with evidence. That thing's got to die. I'm going to have to be careful - Quinn's still in denial. She won't let me near it and maybe that's a good thing. But I'm going to see if I can feed it something that'll send it off to chinchilla heaven. Or hell, preferably. Dad had some rat poison that he got for the squirrels. I'll mix some with some hamburger and see if that works.
"But Quinn, she's sooooo bossy!"
"I know Tiffany. It's like, like now that Sandi's not around Stacy's making up for lost time."
"Youuuuu should have been President, Quinn. You were Vice President after aaaaaaaall."
"I know Tiffany, but I didn't have any chance, did I? Stacy just...just sort of...took over."
"Yeaaaaah. Took ooooooover."
Look, Tiffany, I'd love to talk, you know, but I've got to arrange all of Stacy's shoes before the meeting and you know how bitchy she gets if everything isn't just right."
"Yeaaaaah. I've got to sort her scrunchies by colour and shaaaaaade."
"Well we'd better get going then. Oh, and, um, Tiffany..."
"Uh, I know this sounds strange, but...I don't want to leave Stacy alone tonight. If I, you know, have to go to the bathroom or anything, just make sure that you stay with her until I get back. Okay?"
"Okaaaaay. But whyyyyyyy?"
"Oh - no particular reason. I just don't...want her, um, to feel that we're leaving her by herself...in case she hyperventilates!"
"Quick - she's coming - get sorting!"
I don't believe this.
I waited until Quinn had gone and left it on a saucer inside the door.
When I got home from school the saucer with the rat poison in it was right here beside my computer. Untouched.
I hate to admit it, but that thing's smarter than I gave it credit for. I'm going to have to try to outsmart it.
"Hey Quinn - how about going out with me to Chez Pierre tonight?"
"Oh Joey - I went out with you...let me see...there! Three weeks ago. You know the rule. No repeat dates for at least two months. I have to be fair to everyone else, don't I?"
"Uh - yeah. I guess so. Sorry Quinn"
"How about me Quinn - you haven't been out with me for two months. We could go to that new place where they have all that stuff hanging on the wall!"
"You mean Planet Lawndale? Ewww. Jeffy! Those places are sooooo unfashionable! I wouldn't be caught dead in Planet Lawndale."
"Oh. Yeah. Of course. Sorry Quinn.
"We haven't been out for four months Quinn! I'll take you to Chez Pierre and to that new movie Kill Jill!"
"Jeramiah, that's so sweet. But you know I...look boys, I know I don't have any dates right now, but a girl has to be careful, you know? I mean if I go out with you three toooo often people might get the idea that, well, that I wasn't popular enough. Now be honest - you wouldn't want that, now would you?"
"Oh no Quinn!"
"Uh uh. That'd be awful!"
"I won't date you for another two months Quinn!"
"I won't date you for three months!"
"I won't date you until Christmas!"
"Boys, boys. Don't fight over me. You'll all get a fair chance to not date me."
"You rock, Quinn."
"I know. I know."
Last night I set a trap for it. One of those big rat traps with the springs strong enough to snap a rat's' neck. While Quinn was out with it her handbag I put it under the bed. I baited it with some fresh steak.
This morning when I got up I reached out for a glass of water before I put my glasses on. It's a good thing that I did. If I'd reached for my glasses first, like I usually do, I would have lost a finger at least. The trap was perfectly set so that touching my glasses would spring it. I'm blind without them and I knocked over the glass of water and that set the trap off. I'll have to get a new set of frames. I'm wearing my contacts to type this and they irritate my eyes like hell.
I'm going to have to kill it before it gets the chance to get me. Come to think of it, it could have taken me out during the night if it had wanted to. I actually think it's enjoying this.
"Tiffany! How many times do I have to tell you? Mid-Aqua always goes before Tropical Ocean!"
"Alright, but don't do it again. It's important! Quinn, you've done a good job on my shoes but you've missed the beige pumps on the inventory!"
"Sorry Stacy, but I didn't have enough time after I'd entered your nail polish usage rates into the computer."
"I hope you're not complaining Quinn? I don't have to remind you that we agreed that graphing usage rates was an idea that could really put us on the map. Now that Sandi's disappeared we're going to stop screwing round and make the sort of contribution that'll make people stand up and take notice of the Lawndale Fashion Club!"
"I remember Stacy. Um, Stacy?"
"Er, I have to use the bathroom."
"Aright, Quinn, but be quick please. We still have to discuss glitter size, colour and quality."
"I will Stacy. Tiffany - you remember..."
"Remember what, Tiffany?"
"Quinn didn't want me to leave you aloooone."
"I can't understand why...what's that growling?"
"I don't know, maybe it's..."
"Oh - look! It's sooo cute!"
"Come here, you cute thing you! I want to...no...No...NOOOOO!"
"That's sooooo wrong! Youuuur teeeeth arrrre soooo shiiiiiny..."
I give up. If it wants to get me its going to. I can't try any more - it's too dangerous.
This time I tried electrocution. I waited until Quinn was gone then I wired up a water bowl. I put a sheet of aluminum foil under it and connected one wire to the foil and one to the bowl. When it bent over to drink, whammo.
I snuck out of school early and went straight up to see what had happened. The bowl was still there, still wired up, plugged in and turned on. But it was empty and that damned thing was just sitting there, purring at me.
I unplugged the contraption and took it back into my room. I set it down on my desk to dismantle it and just as I reached over to turn on the light I looked down. The chair was wired to the light switch.
I nearly turned it on anyway.
I didn't think I'd ever hear myself saying this, but I think Daria might be right. I mean there's just no other explanation, is there? Every time it's happened Snookums has been there.
But it's just not possible. I mean he's so cute! And if he was eating them, how come he hasn't eaten me? Or Daria? God! I mean if you were going to eat anyone, surely Daria...
Oh no. What am I saying? This is so stupid.
How could something so small eat a person?
But what's happening to them? Where did they go?
"Kids! Helen! Dinner!"
"Why thank you Jake. I'm sorry that I didn't have time to get it ready. The Robertson case comes up in the morning and you know how important that is. If I win this one Eric said that the partnership is in the bag."
"Sure honey. Anyway, you know I don't mind. I've whipped up a great big batch of kitchen sink stew!"
"What? Jake - you haven't?"
"This time it'll work Helen, believe me. I can't tell how good this is going to be! When McKenzie told me his secret for kitchen sink stew I knew that one day I'd be able to make it taste as good as he did."
"But Jake - every time you've tried it it's been inedible!"
"Helen - trust me. This time it's perfect!"
"Alright then, just this one more time."
"Thanks honey. Here you go Quinn."
"Er, thanks Dad, but you know how fattening stew is. I'll just have some celery."
"Oh. Okay. Daria! You'll have some of my famous kitchen sink stew - have I told about the first time I tasted it after a thirty mile hike?"
"Uh - yeah Dad, sure. Um, I'll have to take it up to my room though - have to study. Big test. Biiiig test!"
"Sure kiddo! There's plenty more when you've finished that! Helen?"
"After you Jake."
"Sure. Oh boy! I can't wait. Let's see now...AAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH! DAMMIT!"
I still don't believe it.
I tipped the kitchen sink stew into the ficus at the top of the stairs and before it started wilting Snookums came charging out of Quinn's room towards me, those contrarotating teeth spinning up like...like...teeth. I thought it was all over. I closed my eyes, refusing to scream - I wasn't going to give it the satisfaction. But it didn't want me. It wanted the stew. It wanted that goddamn stew. It buried its face in the steaming mass and swallowed it in one...I don't know what the best word is. Frenzy? That'll have to do. I refuse to use the word "orgasm".
When it had finished it looked up at me as if it was in love. Its eyes were wide and it was purring like a damned cat. It came up to me and rubbed itself against my leg - like a damned cat! Then it staggered, fell over, and died. Dead as a doornail.
I heard Quinn calling it so I picked it up and stuffed it into the pot. The leaves were already falling off the ficus so I covered it up just in time. Quinn came running out of her room and asked me if I'd seen it and - get this - I actually think she was scared. Is it possible that she was beginning to realise that it wasn't a chinchilla?
Anyway, I said that I'd seen it running down the stairs. She shrieked and charged off after it. I pulled it out of the pot and took it into my room where I could drop it carefully out of the window so that it fell behind the bushes. Then I went downstairs. Quinn was frantic. I said that maybe it had got out through the laundry room door so, when she ran out into the back yard I went out the front door and retreived it, then quickly buried it next to the roses. Then I hid the hole by covering it with leaves.
Quinn went crazy of course - she doesn't believe me, but what do I care?
The nightmare's over.
Daria rubbed her eyes and saved the file. It was late, and telling the rest of this could wait till morning. After all, outwitting a mass murdering furball took a lot out of a girl. She set her glasses on the stand and curled up onto one side slipping off to sleep almost immediately.
From under her bed came the faint sound of a low growl and a pair of tiny red eyes glowed in the darkness.
This fic is loosely based on the short animated film 'The Chubb Chubbs' which can be seen on the DVD for Men in Black 2 or can be downloaded from your handy dandy local p2p.
Also much thanks goes out to Canadibrit for tossing out tidbits from her muse that helped shape our plot..