Daria's Inferno

A third season Daria novelization by CF
Based on a computer game script written by Peter Elwell
Version 2, November 2004

Synopsis: Daria falls asleep in Mr O'Neill's English class during a lesson on Dante's Inferno and dreams of her own hell. Lawndale!

Extreme Spoiler Alert: This novelization precisely follows the script for the computer game Daria's Inferno. It therefore contains solutions to all the challenges encountered in the game. If you have never played Daria's Inferno and intend to do so in the future you are strongly advised against reading this story! On the other hand, if you have already mastered the game, read on. As Daria herself explains, "An action packed world of sedentary fun awaits!" Or, as Quinn puts it, "It isn't just for geeks!" [5]

la-la LA la-la ...

It was a hot and muggy day in Timothy O'Neill's English class at Lawndale High School. As he painstakingly wrote the words

Dante's Inferno
on the blackboard, his students struggled to stay awake, among them smart and cynical Daria Morgendorffer, her friend Jane Lane, and their classmates Brittany Taylor, Kevin Thompson, Michael "Mack" MacKenzie and Jodie Landon.

"Now, just to show that medieval literature can be fun," O'Neill said with his usual irritating enthusiasm, "we're going to join the poet Dante on his trip to hell."

At this point the chalk broke and his fingernails scraped across the blackboard. As one, the class winced: "Ow!"

Misinterpreting his students' reactions, as usual, O'Neill apologized. "Sorry! I guess that is a harsh word ... so we call it Dante's Inferno."

Suddenly the door flew open and School Principal Angela Li strode in to the classroom. Unannounced appearances by Ms Li were never a good omen!

Ignoring her underling O'Neill, she immediately launched into an angry address to the class. "Attention Lawndale students! It seems that larceny has enrolled at Laaawndale High," she said, drawing out the name of her beloved school.

"The following items are missing." As she named each one she held up a corresponding page from the school's disturbingly detailed inventory of assets. "A #2 pencil that belongs to the fine people that give the SATs. The key to authorized freedom and bathroom use: a hall pass. Winnie the Pooh, the only book in the school library anyone can actually read."

With each item her fury grew, but the next one seemed to cause her particular grief. "In a stunning breach of discipline, my disciplinarian award has been stolen." She held up a picture of an ugly statuette.

Finally, she composed herself a little to complete the list, "And the symbol of Lawndale's gridiron pride, the Lawndale Lion." The corresponding picture showed the motheaten head of the football team's mascot. "He roars no more."

Her steely glare scanned the room as she concluded, "Until these items are returned, the entire school will be put on detention, and there will be no more marshmallows on the cafeteria's pudding."

With that she swept out of the room, shouting back a halfhearted attempt at civility, "Thank you! You may resume your learning."

O'Neill simply said, "Oh my!" Similar intrusions had occurred so often during his tenure at Lawndale High that he saw nothing unusual in this dramatic interruption.

Without a pause he returned to the lesson, "Now, let's all go to hell ... I mean, let's all go with Dante to his inferno. It starts in a dark forest. A forest of Dante's spiritual confusion."

"He meets his guide the Roman poet Virgil who takes him out of the woods and into the inferno." As O'Neill's soporific voice droned on his disinterested students rested their heads on their desks and, one by one, nodded off.

"Some of you might think Dante was better off in the woods," continued O'Neill, oblivious as always to the reactions of his charges, "but he has to go through the inferno to get to purgatory. And finally, to paradise."

The battle to stay awake was especially difficult for Daria. Thanks to her insatiable appetite for literature, she had long ago read the works of the thirteenth century Italian poet, so nothing O'Neill was saying was new to her.

With the rest of the class asleep, Daria succumbed too. Her eyes closed behind her thick glasses and her head slumped down on the desk. But even as she began to doze, O'Neill's voice continued to ring in her head, "So let's begin the first chapter of Daria's Inferno."

Wait a minute! Did he say Daria's Inferno? Suddenly Daria felt herself falling, down and down. "I thought Dante was writing before they invented cheap special effects," she thought, as multicolored spirals circled around her. "This isn't English class - it's actually interesting!"

Below her wasn't the usual fire and brimstone, however. She seemed to be falling onto a gigantic vision of her own face, which was coming alarmingly close. "A little too interesting!" she thought. "Note to my Big Head: don't open your mouth." With collision imminent she mused, "Landing is the part of falling that I've never liked."

"Whoa!" exclaimed Daria at the moment of impact, sitting bolt upright. She was in her own bedroom, on her bed. The padded walls and barred windows seemed reassuringly normal. "Oh," she thought, "It was just a dream."

But as she stood up, something still didn't seem right. "Hold it," she thought, "Why am I in my room? I usually do my sleeping in class." She walked over to the window. This was creepy! Outside, Lawndale's blue sky was filled with huge disembodied bloodshot eyeballs, flying back and forth! [6]

"Oh, I see," thought Daria calmly. "School was called off because of the weather." She wondered what to do next. "So do I stay here or go out and play in the hallucination?"

Suddenly a familiar voice cried out eerily, "Daria! Daria Morgendorffer!" It was coming from Daria's cheerful poster of a partially-unearthed skeleton. "What do you want, Mr Ugly Painting?" Daria asked.

As Daria watched, the picture suddenly shimmered and changed from a skeleton to Daria's close friend Jane Lane. "That's Ms Ugly Painting, thank you very much," she said.

"Jane?" Daria said in surprise as the image of her friend sat up and shook off the loose soil.

"Last time I tried that with a Picasso and wound up with one of my eyes on my butt," commented Jane. "And now for some fast paced spiritual journey action. We're going to hell!"

"That's a relief," replied Daria. "I was worried we were going back to class."

Jane seemed intent on giving Daria some instructions. "You must find Ms Li's missing junk or endure eternal detention," she said. "Follow the clues, Daria," she added meaningfully. "Remember, I am with you ... unless I find something else to do, or you start whining!"

"How convenient," said Daria dryly.

Undeterred, Jane continued pompously, "Follow me, and through your courage, virtue, wisdom and a cheesy little bag of tricks, you shall save Lawndale High from the purgatory of detention."

Once again Daria felt herself falling and her surroundings changing. "Find Ms Li's five missing items or be stuck in this dream forever," she thought. "An eternity in hell or back to English class. Choices, choices!"

Jane's voice continued to echo through Daria's mind as she fell. "Lawndale High... Give up your brains all ye who enter here and find the disciplinarian award. Seek the tower. Its secret lies with Mr DeMartino. Find DeMartino," Jane intoned spookily until Daria suddenly felt solid ground beneath her sturdy combat boots once more.

Daria opened her eyes. She was standing in an ordinary looking suburban street. Or at least it would be ordinary if it wasn't for the deep cracks in the earth oozing red-hot lava!

Cautiously, Daria started walking. "I must be near Lawndale High. I can smell the stench of human defeat," she said to herself. "Or is that the cafeteria?"

The streets were deserted, but something shiny on the road ahead caught her attention. As she approached she saw that it was a small remote control with a single red button. "Another marvel of technology - a door opening thingy," she thought as she picked it up. "A garage door opener for an eternity of garage door opening fun." No good. This wasn't one of Ms Li's lost items.

Nearby was another useless looking find, sticking out of a mailbox. "A wrench," she muttered, pulling it out. "Isn't that what the Three Stooges use for cosmetic surgery?" She couldn't see any immediate use for this either. Nevertheless, something told her these items may come in handy later so she tucked them away in the capacious pockets of her unfashionable green jacket. [7]

Daria continued to pick her way through the strangely distorted streetscape. Slowly the jumble of houses and yards seemed to close in on her until she could go no further. The only way forward was through a near-empty swimming pool, but it was too wide to jump across and too deep to jump into. And besides, Daria doesn't jump! [8]

Sitting on a nearby fire hydrant to ponder the situation, she reasoned that if she could fill the pool she could walk across the inflatable beds and toys currently lying on its bottom. That's when she remembered the wrench! "Twisting bolts or noses can be easy and fun when you've got a real workman's wrench," she said to herself as she used it to open the hydrant.

Sure enough, water gushed into the pool, filling it to the brim. "I feel like I'm in an episode of This Old Hydrant," thought Daria as she walked carefully over the surface of the now-full pool by treading on the floating toys.

Having reached the other side she noticed a small red life preserver with a yellow rope attached, now floating on the surface. "Just the thing," she thought, "for that sinking feeling that this dream's [9] going to go on forever."

Surely a life preserver would be advantageous in hell! This too was crammed into her jacket's pocket. After all, she thought, a life preserver allows one to "say goodbye to those annoying floating corpses."

It's the charge of the trike brigade! Half-pint bikers and the garage doors that stop them, next on Sick Sad World! [10]

In the distance Daria could see the entrance to the school. "Lawndale High," she thought dejectedly. "Now I know I'm in hell."

But as she got closer she noticed that its semi-circular driveway was being used as a racetrack by former baby-sitting job Tad Gupty on a tricycle. He was competing with the little girl who Daria often saw riding her 'Big Wheel' trike past Daria's house. [11]

"Oh no," Daria said, "Hell's Angels on Big Wheels!"

Getting closer she found another remote control on the ground. "The subconscious of a true loser," she thought as she picked it up, "I'm dreaming about garage door openers."

If she was to follow Jane's directions she needed to get into the school, but as she approached she found it impossible to get past the two midget racers who were zooming around at amazing speed.

"Ow! Watch it vermin!" she cried as Tad's tricycle ran over her toe.

She stepped back and looked around for a way to get rid of the pests. Over to her left, and strangely close to the school in this distorted world, was a garage. Maybe she could open it and find something to help.

Fishing out one of the door openers she had put in her pocket, she pointed it and pressed the button. "More garage door action and thrills," she commented flatly.

Before she had a chance to do anything else, her tiny antagonists saw the newly revealed pathway and, with squeals of delight, raced their vehicles into the garage.

Pleased by this easy success Daria walked back to the school entrance only to find it blocked by Tad and Big-Wheel Girl yet again! How did they get back here without going past her?

Then she noticed another garage door off to the right, this one open. Somehow the two garages must be connected and the annoying kids had reemerged from the second garage.

With a sigh, Daria trudged over to the open garage. "This would be a lot more fun if someone were under that door," she said as she used the other remote control to close it.

This time when the two racers zoomed back into the first garage they didn't emerge again. "So much for Hell's Angel's on Big Wheels," thought Daria as she finally made her way unimpeded to the school's doorway.

She was just about to enter when she saw Physical Education teacher Ms Morris nearby. Probably her least favorite person to encounter!

However, the normally aggressive teacher was in a surprisingly friendly mood. "Take this, my mighty whistle," she said, handing the item to Daria. "You'll need it sooner than you think. I gotta take a lap now," she concluded before vanishing from sight.

Daria walked the few steps back to the doorway, casually avoiding a small stream of lava. "This whistle's been used," she thought as she studied it. "Are there germs in hell?"

With a sigh of resignation she pushed the school doors open, to begin a new stage of the nightmare. "Note to self," she reflected, "The road to hell isn't paved with good intentions, just regular asphalt."

Daria looked around the school hallway. It seemed fairly normal, although she didn't recall seeing the red-hot stalagmites poking up through the floor before!

She walked over to Mr O'Neill's English class, where this nightmare had begun. There was no one in sight. "The hall is empty," she said to herself, "I guess class is in session."

A sign on the door confirmed her suspicions:

Mr O'Neill
Do not disturb!
Class in session

Daria walked on, thinking to herself, "When the bell rings, that's when the real nightmare begins!"

The next room should have been Ms Barch's science class, but the sign on the door read:

Court in Session
The Honourable Janet Barch presiding
Do not disturb!
Class in session

Both doors proved to be locked. Remembering Jane's advice, Daria thought, "Better find DeMartino and his friendly open door policy first."

She walked on and found one more door at the end of the corridor. It was huge, heavily reinforced and barred. A sign above the door said:

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here
Daria turned and started back down the corridor. "Must be a good place if I can't get in," she thought.

She walked all the way back to the school entrance and started heading down a different corridor. "I'm getting more exercise sleeping than I do when I'm awake," she commented.

The next door was to Anthony DeMartino's history class. Again, however, it didn't look quite the way she remembered it. The heavy brickwork and reinforced timber made it seem more like the entrance to a medieval torture chamber. This impression was reinforced by the legend

DeMartino's Dungeon
scrawled in blood above the door!

Disturbed by the strange sounds coming from within, Daria pushed the door open with trepidation and entered. "Is that the sound of blood vessels exploding, or Mr DeMartino teaching?" she wondered aloud.

Let the eyes have it when good books turn bad, next on Sick Sad World.

"I see Mr DeMartino's classed-up the joint," Daria commented, looking around. Although history lessons often seemed like torture, this time they really were! The room was a huge dungeon, filled with torture devices. The doorway opened onto a series of narrow ledges. Down below was the dungeon itself. Daria need to find some stairs to get down to the "class".

She stepped in cautiously, but as soon as she did so a ghostly apparition rushed at her! It was another of those giant flying eyeballs, floating menacingly, only inches from her face.

"Hey, stop staring at me!" shouted Daria, walking away briskly. [12] But even as she did so, two more of the horrors appeared. The three terrifying entities followed her closely as she made her way along a narrow ledge.

Coming from below she could hear the agonized screams of students suffering Mr DeMartino's lesson. Looking down she recognized goth chick Andrea and other classmates chained against one of the walls.

The eyeballs prevented her from pausing, however, and she kept moving as quickly as she could until the pathway broadened to reveal a peculiar-looking machine.

It consisted of two large panels laying flat on the floor with a hinge in the middle. Both sides were covered with vicious spikes. Off to the side was a lever with a small sign attached, which read:

Turn crank to release trap

Daria wasn't quite sure what that meant, but it was worth trying anything at this stage! She twisted the lever and immediately the two halves of the spiked device on the floor snapped together. In doing so, it revealed that it was really a giant book entitled:

The Catcher in the Eye

Amused by the pun, Daria walked around the trap, thereby luring the eyeballs into hovering directly above the spikes. She turned the handle once more, causing the deadly book to squash the eyes into splatters of ectoplasm. "Reading can be fun!" thought Daria happily.

With the eyeball menace defeated, Daria finally had a chance to look around. She found a flight of stone steps leading down to where the students were chained up and started to descend.

"Can't complain," she thought. "Last time I had this dream I was in my underwear!"

Reaching the bottom she saw that the entire history class was strapped into individual electric chairs! Up front, football hero Kevin Thompson and his cheerleader girlfriend Brittany Taylor had evidently 'volunteered' to answer some of DeMartino's questions. The chairs they were strapped into had wires leading to a switch in the teacher's hand.

No one paid any attention to Daria as she edged forward until she could hear what was going on. "Here's a real brain sizzler," shouted DeMartino at Brittany, his bad eye bulging with frustration. "What was President Lincoln doing when he got shot?"

Brittany thought for a moment and replied, "Making a drug bust that went down bad?" Instantly DeMartino pressed the button in his hand, giving Brittany an electric shock that caused her to jerk around in the chair. This might be hell for the students, but it looked like heaven for DeMartino!

By now Daria was at the front of the class, but still no one paid her any attention. Instead, DeMartino directed a question at Kevin. "This one's for the big money! Who was our first president?"

Cautiously Kevin answered, "Er, Vince Lombardi," before receiving the inevitable electric shock. Smoke rose from his hair.

Daria stood right next to DeMartino. Seeing one of the few students who didn't drive him totally insane, he confided in the teenager. "I've got to get my 'emotional wellness' pills or my head's gonna make like Hiroshima!" he said to her quietly. "But I gave them to O'Neill."

As much as Daria disliked her brain-dead classmates, this was too much, even for her. She figured that if she could get DeMartino his pills she might be able to calm him down. But how could she get into O'Neill's locked classroom?

Then she noticed the button on the wall for the bell that signals the end of the period. She reasoned that ending the period should cause Mr O'Neill to unlock his classroom. As she pushed the button she thought, "That should fill the halls with mindless idiots!"

Daria quickly retraced her steps out of the torture chamber. "This would be a lot easier if I remembered to dream that my feet were wheels," she thought.

What's the frequency Fido? Are jocks and cheerleaders going to the dogs? The Wonder Years, next on Sick Sad World.

Back in the hallway, Daria found that her plan had worked a little too well. The classrooms were open, but now the hallway was packed with students. And the worst kind of students from Daria's perspective - football players and cheerleaders!

Trying to weave her way through the mob back to Barch and O'Neill's classes she was hit in the face by a pom-pom waving cheerleader. "That felt a little too peppy!" she complained. Then a football-carrying jock bumped her hard. "Ow! Go away!" she cried, her irritation meter registering off the charts. [13]

She needed a way of getting rid of these annoyances. Then she remembered a trick she once used to stop Kevin from leaning on her locker. Rummaging in her pocket she found the whistle Ms Morris had given her. "In hell, no one can hear you whistle," she thought, "Or can they?"

As another pom-pom flailing cheerleader headed in her direction, Daria blasted the whistle in her ear. It worked perfectly - the giver-of-pep cartwheeled in the opposite direction and out of sight. "Give me an EXIT!" said Daria in triumph.

The trick was equally effective on the next jock who approached. One blast of the whistle and his tiny mind instinctively caused him to hug the football to his chest and run down the corridor. "Go make us proud!" yelled Daria to the receding figure.

The beach will come to order when bailiffs swap badges for life preservers. To protect and surf! Bailiff Watch, next on Sick Sad World.

With the doors now unlocked Daria first entered Ms Barch's class. But things seemed to have changed a lot since she was last there. The classroom had been turned into a huge courtroom. On the walls were a series of giant posters titled

Great Women in History
and featuring an eclectic mix including Medusa, Lizzie Borden and Gloria Gaynor!

"Give up all Y-chromosomes all ye who enter here," thought Daria as she walked around the desks. "Looks like Ms Barch is teaching the proper way to serve up a man on a platter!"

At one end of the room a female guard was operating a lever which released male students from a door onto a conveyer belt running along the floor. Each student was carried along until he reached a high bench at the far end, at which sat Barch herself, evidently acting as judge, jury and executioner.

"These guys are headed for Ms Barch," thought Daria with some sympathy. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned ... or Ms Barch on a good day!"

As each student reached the judge's bench, Ms Barch pronounced the same sentence, "You were found in possession of testosterone and that's enough for me." The hapless student then dropped through a trap door into oblivion.

Looking around, Daria noticed three crudely-made, yet familiar, dolls sitting on a table, each with a number of pins stuck in it. Evidently Ms Barch had been practising a little magic. Daria picked one up and, studying the tufts of red hair poking out of its head, recognized who it was meant to be. "A Jeffy voodoo doll," she said, "and I thought Ken looked like a dip!"

The next doll was blonde and also familiar, "This Jamie voodoo doll looks like GI Joe before he went psycho in 'Nam." Daria picked up the dark-haired third doll to complete the inevitable trio, saying without surprise, "Ah, a Joey voodoo doll," before adding, "I know a troll doll you could ask out!"

Her path was now blocked by the seemingly limitless stream of boys heading down the conveyor belt towards Ms Barch's biased form of justice. Daria walked to the far end where the guard continued to pull the lever, releasing new victims. Daria figured that if she could distract the guard and stop new students from being added to the line she could get past.

Searching through her jacket's pockets, Daria found the life preserver she had picked up earlier. Something told her that this was just the thing she needed, and she waved it in front of the woman's face. The effect was immediate and bizarre.

"Darn those kids!" yelled the guard, stripping off her uniform to reveal a bathing costume. "How many times have I told them not to chew on that pier?" She then raced from the room, leaving the conveyor belt unmanned.

With the conveyor belt now empty, Daria stepped on allowing it to carry her towards Judge Barch. She soon began to regret this move, however, when she realized that she may end up going down the same pit as the other students.

Ms Barch loomed closer and closer, but when she saw Daria approaching her usual scowl was replaced by a rare smile. "Oh, a skirt," she said. "You're free to go!" And with that Daria was able to step off on the other side.

She now had a chance to explore the other side of the courtroom, but was disappointed to find nothing other than a closet door. Opening it, she found that it was empty except for a pedestal on which was a large red button.

There didn't seem to be any alternative, so Daria pushed it. "If anything's broken, I didn't do it!" she protested loudly, just in case.

Turning around Daria saw what pushing the button had done. It evidently controlled the height of the judicial bench, which has now been lowered to just a few feet off the floor.

Daria could now see that there was a coiled whip sitting on the bench. As she walked back towards the courtroom door she slyly picked up the whip and shoved it in her pocket. "Do I want to know where this whip's been?" she thought as she opened the door.

Taking a last look at Ms Barch's domain, Daria announced, "I am strong, I am invincible, I am leaving." Australian singer Helen Reddy would have been proud!

Walking through the corridor towards Mr O'Neill's room Daria thought, "If they installed a mental detector here they'd never find anything." [14]

With the slight unease that she always felt when entering English class, Daria opened the door. "As long as Mr O'Neill isn't doing his interpretive dance version of Hamlet, I'll risk it," she said to herself.

Annoying students flogged in-shape and out of the courtroom. Whip it, next on Sick Sad World.

As Daria entered she discovered that all the students were asleep, just as they had been when this nightmare began. "As always, Mr O'Neill's teaching dream analysis," she said, noticing that even the teacher himself was dozing at his desk.

Unfortunately, as Daria walked through the maze of desks she found that one student was still wide awake. Charles Ruttheimer III, better known as "Upchuck", was wandering back and forth in an agitated state, probably trying to get a look down some sleeping girl's blouse!

"Ow!" Daria said as he bumped hard into her, "Touched by a cootie!" She'd have to find some way to get rid of him.

Remembering Ms Barch's whip, Daria took it out of her pocket and flicked it at Upchuck the next time he came near. Unpleasantly, he didn't seem to mind at all! "I've been a bad boy," he said coyly, doing a passable impression of Lou Costello.

At least it stopped him getting in Daria's way. "Um, whip it, whip it good," she said unmusically. "Guaranteed to raise whelts," she added as she quickly sidestepped him and put the whip away.

With the irritating Upchuck avoided, Daria now had a proper chance to look around the room. It was just the way she remembered it. All the students were asleep, including Jane, Jodie, Popular Girl, and so on. [15]

Most disturbing of all, however, was that Daria could see herself, sitting in her usual seat, head resting on the desk! Averting her gaze from this unsettling out of body experience, Daria walked to the side of the class where she noticed a small bottle of pills on the floor. They must be DeMartino's!

"I think there's enough emotional wellness in this room, thank you," said Daria aloud, to excuse her transgression as she purloined the bottle. The label read:

Smiley Face
Happiness in a Pill

"Get emotionally well with herbal happy pills," thought Daria as she walked quickly to the door, "Never mind the excruciating side effects!"

As she exited O'Neill's room, and the creepy sight of her own unconscious form, Daria thought, "I can't imagine I imagined this - I need help!"

Daria quickly retraced her steps through the hallway and back to DeMartino's Dungeon. DeMartino was still "educating" Kevin and Brittany.

As Daria walked in the sadistic teacher directed another question at Kevin. "I'm not even trying here!" he said. "What country do you live in?"

With thickheaded enthusiasm Kevin answered, "Lawndale! It rules!" Zap! Kevin received yet another electric shock.

DeMartino then turned his attention back to captive Brittany. "I'll bet my second pair of pants you don't know this one," he said. "What's the bill that gives you your rights?"

Brittany's answer was high-pitched, even by her squeaky standards. "TV Guide?" she responded before getting zapped again.

At this point Daria handed the happiness pills to her teacher. Without hesitation DeMartino grabbed them and downed a handful. Instantly his demeanor changed.

"Everything's beautiful!" he said unconvincingly. "I'm just going to go lie down on the warm dung heap of my life, and you kids go to hell on your own steam." He then flaked out where he stood.

Behind where DeMartino had been standing was a door that appeared to lead to a basement. "The power for the electric chairs must be in here," said Daria as she entered. "Maybe I can free Kevin and Brittany." But she then added to herself, "I said can - I didn't say will!"

Leaving DeMartino's history lesson behind Daria thought, "That class was just another argument for home schooling."

Break glass in case of error? Electric chairs turned off with a sprinkling of advice, next on Sick Sad World.

Entering the basement, Daria found her suspicions confirmed by the prominent sign that read:

Electric Chair Power Supply!

Looking around at the tangle of grimy pipes and steam boilers Daria tried to excuse the decor by commenting, "This place has a certain janitorial charm."

As she searched for a way to turn off the electric chairs she found her path blocked by scalding steam spurting intermittently from the rusted and leaking pipes.

"Oh, oh! Bad hair day!" she said in disgust as she was drenched by a blast of steam.

Timing her steps to avoid the periodic blasts, she cautiously navigated through the gloom. As she climbed a rickety metal stairway she reflected on her unusual mission. "I help Kevin and Brittany in all my dreams," she thought, "... if you call disembowellment helping!"

Finally she found a control panel with a yellow button helpfully labelled,

Push to turn off steam

Daria pushed it and started retracing her steps, as the roar of the machinery subsided. "There, I turned off the steam," she said. "If only I could turn off people's hot air like that!"

Now that the steam had stopped, Daria noticed a hammer on the floor which had previously been obscured by a cloud of steam. "If I had a hammer," she thought as she picked it up, "I'd hammer the crap out of the Fashion Club."

Not far away, Daria found some intimidating electrical equipment, which was clearly the control panel for the electric chairs. However, the floor around the panel was wet and Daria didn't like the idea of operating high voltage switches while standing in a puddle!

Looking around for some alternative way of switching off the power she noticed a glass box bearing the legend:

Break Glass in Case of Emergency

Reasoning that the history class's plight constituted an emergency, Daria raised the hammer to the box. "Use a hammer and pound things like a pro," she said as she smashed the glass and struck the button within. "So much easier than hammering with your head."

Daria jumped back as water gushed down from the overhead fire sprinklers. It hit the control panel and caused the power supply to short out in a spectacular shower of sparks. "They call me Ms Fixit!" said Daria smugly.

"And now for more wholesome educational fun," she thought as she climbed the stairs back to DeMartino's history dungeon.

Taking a last look at the boiler room, she reflected, "Some flowers, curtains and a blowtorch could fix this place up really nice."

Daria surveyed the effects of her sabotage. "Kevin and Brittany are free," she thought as she saw them standing amongst the now unrestrained, but still shaken, students. "Free as the great open sky between their ears."

As Daria approached she noticed that they were both still smoldering. "That's the last time I sing the body electric!" said Brittany.

Kevin was dopily cheerful as always. "I didn't know how hot you were until I saw smoke coming out of your head!" he told his girlfriend. "Oh, Kevvy!" sighed Brittany as they embraced.

"Frankly, I like you better howling in agony," complained Daria, in an attempt to break up their sickening smooching, "but business before pleasure."

Indicating a locked wooden door, which she realized must lead to the tower Jane had mentioned, Daria said, "Kevin, your mind is the key that will open this door."

"His mind?" squeaked Brittany in happy surprise.

"Actually, the skull that encases it," explained Daria, killing the mood.

"I can do that!" said Kevin enthusiastically, glad to be given a challenge that matched his talents. "Check this out, Brittany!" he yelled, running head first at the door. "I'm gonna use my head!"

Crack! The door splintered into a thousand pieces, its heavy planks and metal bracing no match for the thickness of Kevin's skull. Kevin was dazed but still smiling inanely.

As Daria stepped through the doorway she sighed in despair as she overheard Brittany saying "Oh, Kevvy, you're an intellectual!"

Through the doorway was a peculiar mix of medieval architecture and modern technology. "I'll bet this is the tower with the disciplinarian award thingy Jane was talking about," thought Daria as she craned her neck to stare up at the imposing structure. Its brickwork was regularly dotted with small window slits, each of which had its wooden shutters open.

Strangest of all, however, was the intricate network of tiny elevator platforms, each large enough to hold one person. Most of them were moving up and down via slots in the tower's wall. A few were stationary. At the end of each elevator's path there were small ledges sticking out of the wall. Evidently it was possible to scale the wall by transferring from one elevator to the next via the ledges.

As she studied this bizarre situation Daria heard an unwelcome voice. "Welcome to my tower of love power!" cried Charles Ruttheimer III from somewhere above.

Daria couldn't see him, but she soon felt his presence as a balloon filled with water hit her on the head! Dripping wet she said, "I'm getting really irritated!" Another water bomb hit the ground beside her.

There was nothing for it but to head up. Daria waited until one of the elevator platforms reached the ground and stepped on. Quickly it carried her up to the top of its path and she stepped off onto a nearby ledge before it went down again. She repeated the process with adjacent elevators until she had reached a considerable height.

"It's times like this I wish I had a fear of heights," thought Daria. In reality, though, the task proved easier than it looked.

Soon, however, she reached a point where her progress was blocked by stationary elevators. Upchuck's water bombs continued to rain all around her, so she needed to find a way to make the elevators move.

Daria noticed a number of small levers sticking out of the wall at various places. She made her way over to one and turned it. One of the stationary elevators started moving, and Daria used it to gain further altitude. "I'd appreciate life's ups and downs a lot more if they didn't make me nauseous," she said.

By repeating this process Daria proceeded upwards until she could at last see Upchuck, who was leaning out of one of the shuttered windows throwing water bombs as fast as he could. Despite his high intelligence, Charles seemed destined never to grow up!

Getting closer, Daria found another lever and pulled it. To her delight it caused the shutters to snap shut, finally putting an end to Upchuck's prank. "Gotcha!" she cried triumphantly.

By following a few more elevators Daria finally reached the top of the tower, and climbed onto its flat surface. "I'm on top of the world, Mom," she announced, surveying the spectacular view with a sense of satisfaction.

Over in the corner of the rooftop Daria found a small statuette. "This must be what Ms Li was looking for," said Daria to herself. "It's ugly enough!" On its base was written:

World's Greatest Disciplinarian

Suddenly eerie music filled the air and something came floating up alongside the tower. It was Jane posing like Botticelli's Birth of Venus, and held aloft by a pair of cherubs!

As Daria stared in amazement, Jane exclaimed, "Ta da! You have achieved a goal or something, so I guess I'm here to make it look like a big deal."

"Works for me," said Daria. "Now what?"

But Jane didn't seem to be very helpful. "I don't know," she said disinterestedly. "I'm still trying to figure out why I'm floating on a clam shell."

"See ya!" she concluded before drifting away.

While Daria stood wondering what to do next a strange vortex seemed to open up in mid air. "Just what I need," she said. "More weirdness!"

The spirals of light solidified into a form that brought a blush to Daria's cheeks. "It's Trent," thought Daria, "and his Trent-mobile!" The apparition was indeed Jane's brother Trent Lane, characteristically lying on his rumpled bed.

"Hey, Daria," he said calmly. "I dreamed I was in your dream."

Struggling not to be tongue-tied in Trent's presence, Daria responded simply, "You still are."

"That explains why my guitar is in tune," said Trent, picking up the offending instrument. He started playing and singing discordantly.

Listen to my happy song,
A song I play quite well,
About a Mystic Spyral,
And your next stop in hell.

As Trent played another vortex materialized in the floor. It formed a spiral staircase which led down into blackness. Daria felt compelled to follow it and walked down as Trent continued singing.

You gotta follow the Mystic Spyral,
Be strong and have no fear,
Everytime this song starts to get good,
I have to disappear.

As Daria descended into total blackness she once again felt herself falling and Jane's voice echoed all around: "Along with wasting your life and money, the mall's also the perfect place to find missing school mascots and the sister who steals them."

Her voice faded into the distance as she said, "Come to shop, but stay for Quinn, and the recycled air." Horror of horrors! Daria was headed for The Mall of the Millenium!

Platform pygmies add feet to their feet and ride tall in the sandal, next on Sick Sad World.

Opening her eyes Daria found herself standing amid the harsh lighting, garish colors, and nauseating muzak of the mall. "You've lost your soul, now lose your money," she said. "The mall's got it all!"

Daria wondered what to do next. "I guess I have to find Quinn," she thought. "Like looking for a wet sock under the bed, do I really want to find it?"

She started walking through the zombie-like crowd of shoppers when schoolmate Jamie White appeared beside her. As usual, he seemed to look right through Daria as he asked the inevitable question, "Ah, seen Quinn?"

The jostling crowd of shoppers caused him to bump into Daria. "Contact," she thought, "Not good!"

When he did it for a second time Daria exclaimed, "This is getting really irritating!"

If she was going to find Quinn she'd have to get rid of this leech. Remembering the voodoo doll she found in Barch's classroom, Daria pulled it out of her pocket. "It's Jamie and he's a living doll," she thought as she examined it carefully to make sure she had the right 'J'. "Abuse him for hours of wholesome fun."

She gave one of the pins sticking out of the doll a sharp tweak. The response was dramatic. "Yow!" said Jamie in pain and confusion. "Not the face, not the face!"

Most importantly, the distraction gave Daria a chance to slip away. She rounded a corner and came upon a fountain (placed there to give the impression that the mall's proprietors are artistically inclined and not just money-grubbing parasites).

At its base Daria noticed a coin. "Twenty-five cents?" she said with disappointment as she picked it up. "If I can dream up another ten dollars I can order a pizza."

Nearby, however, was a snack machine which, conveniently, accepted quarters. Daria put the coin in and out popped a doughnut. "A doughnut with nothing to dunk it in," thought Daria. "I am in hell." Having seen how such items can come in handy, Daria decided against eating it and instead stashed it away in her pocket.

They came for the doo, and got hooked on the dad! Doo Dad Shop addicts, next on Sick Sad World.

Spotting a distressingly familiar store, Daria stepped inside. Everywhere she looked there were useless and overpriced knick-knacks. Yes, it was the Doo Dad Shop! "I know what a Dad is," she said. "What's a Doo?"

Scanning the colorful plastic trinkets on the shelves, Daria thought, "Worthless items for that worthless someone."

On the floor she noticed a round yellow object. It was a lost smiley-face badge. Again she felt that it might come in handy later, so she bent over to retrieve it.

As she straightened up, Daria notice a large sign above the door which read:


From bitter personal experience, Daria knew this to be a counter for the number of customers who have entered the store. There didn't seem to be anyone around, so she felt safe to do a little experiment.

Daria stepped outside and then back into the shop. Sure enough, the counter had now ticked over to 10,000. But before she could leave again, raucous music started playing, confetti and streamers started falling from the ceiling, and the store's staff, who had been in hiding, came rushing out.

They surrounded Daria and started singing the shop's awful advertising jingle, "If you're feeling bad or sad, buy a doo dad!"

Poker faced, Daria stood her ground and waited for the celebrations to end. She knew from last time that being the 10,000th customer meant she would get some prizes, which she hoped might be helpful in her current quest.

She was disappointed, however, to be presented with only one item, a plastic, hand-held, battery-operated fan. Someone commented that it was perfect "to watch while you wish you had airconditioning."

Pocketing the cheap item, Daria said flatly, "This fan has made my life complete. I guess it's all downhill from here!"

She then removed the paper party hat that had been put on her head, brushed off some confetti, and made her excuses. "I'm out of here," she said. "I thought this place sold dads."

When the breeze shifts these girls go to smell. Ill wind in the perfume aisle, next on Sick Sad World.

Daria walked on until a nauseating smell attracted her attention. The shop it was coming from was called Eau D'Attitude.

"Perfume?" thought Daria. "Well it's better than the brimstone you smell in standard hell."

She stepped inside. "It smells like I just walked into a magazine," she said, taking note of the sign inside the door that read,

Available now!
Waif magazine at back of store

Daria was all too aware that the Fashion Club were avid readers of Waif, so she figured she might be able to find Quinn there.

Getting safely to the rear of the store wasn't easy, however. The maze of glass-topped counters was patrolled by a veritable army of underworked shop assistants, each one wielding an atomizer filled with samples of the trendiest perfumes.

Daria ducked and weaved, but found it impossible to avoid getting liberally sprayed. "Yuk!" she complained. "I'll keep my own scent [16], thank you!"

She needed a way to defend herself, so she pulled out the battery-powered fan. The next time an assistant pointed an atomizer at her, Daria retaliated by switching the fan on.

It blew the cloud of spray back into the young woman's face. "Ah!" she squealed, "It burns!" She staggered away, leaving Daria free to move on.

Daria kept walking, while singing to herself: "The answer my friend is blowing in the pathetic breeze created by this fan." (It doesn't scan, but what the heck!)

Finally making it to the pile of Waif magazines, Daria picked one up. "Waif magazine?" she thought. "Maybe it'll give me hot tips on how to master a vacant stare."

As she put it in her pocket she quickly skimmed the list of articles on the cover:

Hot new styles for fall
Are you a real waif? Take our new quiz
The brand new beauty secret - looking pouty
The latest trends - learn them or be unpopular
How to be more shallow
Quality literature indeed!

Looking around for Quinn, Daria saw Fashion Club member Tiffany Blum-Deckler standing nearby.

Daria asked her where Quinn was. In her usual slow-witted drawl Tiffany replied, "Quinn's at the Club House with Sandi, Girl-Who-Lives-With-Quinn." [17]

Not wanting to spend eternity trying to conduct a conversation with Tiffany, Daria headed quickly for the exit. Sniffing at the perfume stains on her jacket she said, "I feel strangely flammable. Time to go."

Daria followed some stairs down to a lower level of the mall. There she found a store called Fashion Club House, undoubtedly the "club house" that Tiffany meant. Steeling herself against the next onslaught of annoyances, Daria entered.

Supermodels weigh in on the doughnut that did them in. Perilous pastries, next on Sick Sad World.

"I wonder if this place can give my soul a makeover?" thought Daria, studying the rows of fashionable clothes. "I thought people like me set off security alarms in places like this."

But there was indeed a security system in force. Blocking her way were her old antagonists Claude (pronounced "Cloud") and Romonica. Formerly of New York's Amazon Modelling Agency, they now seemed to be owners of this shop.

Eyeing Daria with disdain, Romonica said in her thick accent, "No one comes in here without a copy of Waif magazine. Our staff does not have time to convert non-believers."

But Daria had the pair at a disadvantage. Triumphantly she pulled the copy of Waif out of her pocket, saying, "You can never be too fashionable or skinny in Waif magazine, the periodical of the living dead."

"I guess we have to let you in," sniffed Romonica in frustration, "but I do not know if we can help you."

Daria walked deeper into the aisles and found a seemingly endless series of changing booths. "I need to find Sandi," she thought, wondering where to start, "and hell hasn't even frozen over!"

Patrolling the store were dozens of tall, stick-thin models, marching back and forth, ensuring that no fashion violations occurred. Short frumpy Daria didn't even seem to register on their radar. Several times they bumped into her. "Watch it!" she cried. "Those bones are sharp!"

She needed to protect herself and searched in her pocket for something that would strike fear into the hearts of these fashion fiends. Her fingers closed around something sticky. Pulling it out she said aloud, "This is a doughnut. Not to be confused with a life preserver, unless Quinn is drowning."

Holding the doughnut above her head she approached the next shop assistant. It had the desired effect. "Bad calories!" shrieked the model. "Get back!" she cried, cringing with fear.

Thus protected, Daria started walking past the booths, peeking into each one in search of the ever-unpleasant Sandi Griffin. She found plenty of Lawndale's oddball denizens in various stages of undress, but no Sandi. [18]

"You're not Sandi," Daria said by way of apology to one embarrassed customer. "Your head fits in this dressing room."

To another she said insincerely, "Sorry. Go back to your delusions of improvement."

A nearby mannequin in a cowboy getup attracted her attention. "A cowboy hat and me without my spurs," she thought. "Yee ha." On an impulse she took the hat and stuffed it in her pocket. [19]

Rapidly running out of dressing rooms, Daria was about to give up when she pulled the next curtain aside and there was a, mercifully fully-clothed, Sandi.

Sandi seemed mesmerized by her own reflection, so Daria was forced to enter the booth with her.

"On the off chance that you ever look at anyone besides yourself," said Daria, "have you seen Quinn?"

"Quinn's meeting me at the movies," replied Sandi, still unable to tear herself away from the mirror. "But back to the reason we're all here. How would you improve the unimprovable magic of me?"

"In your case, I'd start with dynamite," responded Daria dryly.

The next voice was Sandi's, but Sandi hadn't opened her mouth. It was her reflection in the mirror talking! Apparently Sandi spent so much time in front of the mirror that her reflection had taken on a life of its own.

"You're wasting time with this person," said Sandi's reflection to Sandi. "She's so not you!"

"Why did that feel like a compliment?" thought Daria.

"Movies might be fine for Quinn," said Sandi to no one in particular, "but my perfection's completely wasted in the dark." She held up a theatre ticket, "I think I'll just throw this ticket away."

But Sandi's reflection had a better idea. "No, give it to that girl," the image said, indicating Daria. "She'll look better in the dark and the mall will once again be safe for fashion!"

"I'm so right!" exclaimed Sandi. She handed the ticket to Daria. "Here's your ticket to self improvement."

"Thanks," said Daria as Sandi left. "Now that you're gone I feel better already."

However, as Daria turned around she was disturbed to find that although Sandi had left, her reflection was still in the mirror! "What's wrong with this picture?" said Daria.

"Oh, that's right!" said Sandi's reflection, dissolving to reveal Daria's mirror image.

"You again," thought Daria, feeling her self-esteem drop another notch.

As quickly as she could she made her back to the store's entrance. "I think I learned something here," she thought as she left, "like what this year's idiot is wearing."

Daria headed for the mall's MegaMultiPlex. As she started to walk in the ticket collector blocked her path, "I don't care if it is your dream - you gotta have a ticket!"

It seemed that nothing was free in hell, so Daria pulled out the ticket that Sandi had given her and, with a shrug, the collector let her through.

"Maybe they'll be showing someone else's dream," speculated Daria as she passed by the confectionary stand.

"They watch movies in hell?" she pondered as she looked at the posters for upcoming attractions on the wall. "I thought that was just where they made them."

As she entered the darkened theatre Daria noticed a sign that read:

Theatre Exits to Mall Lower Level

Once her eyes became adjusted to the light she looked around. "I don't see Quinn anywhere," Daria thought. "She must have left. I'll cut through here to get to the lower level of the mall."

This proved to be harder than she expected, however. As she tried to walk through to the exit near the screen she found her way blocked by various members of the audience who seemed to be restless and were fidgeting about. "It's getting kind of crowded in my head here!" said Daria with annoyance as she tripped over another pair of outstretched legs.

Things were no better when she made it to the aisle. Alien abductee Artie, apparently having lost another pizza delivery job, was acting as usher. "Ow! Watch it!" yelled Daria as he swung around clumsily and hit her with his flashlight.

She squeezed past him and finally reached the exit at the lower level. On the floor she noticed another twenty-five cent coin and picked it up.

As she left the theatre, not even having seen any of the movie, Daria said, "Now I'll have to figure out some other way to waste two hours of my life."

Back in the brightly lit mall, Daria was still blinking in the glare when someone else bumped into her. This time it was Joey, who inevitably asked, "Where's Quinn?"

Based on past experience, Daria knew just what to do. "Step on a crack and break Joey's back," she thought as she took a dark-haired doll out of her pocket. "It's easy, it's fun, it's voodoo."

As Daria twisted the pin, Joey jumped out of the way. "I've been voodooized!" he shouted, running off into the distance.

Daria saw an opportunity to use the coin she had just found. She inserted it into a nearby vending machine and received a chocolate candy bar. "Hello pounds and bye-bye teeth," she said as she put it in her pocket.

There was a roaring sound from above and Daria looked up to see a miniature rollercoaster car zooming past overhead. This really was the world's second or third largest mall!

More importantly, Daria noticed a familiar red-haired figure standing near the far end of the track. "There's Quinn," thought Daria. "She's by the Makeup Mill on the top level."

The question was how to get to her. Daria spied an elevator not far away and took it to the highest level she could. But she was still at the opposite end of the mall from Quinn.

The start of the rollercoaster's track was on this level, however, so Daria reasoned that if she took it for a ride she would be able to reach her sister.

Unfortunately, the rollercoaster attendant was unhelpful. He pointed to a line drawn on the wall against which was written:

You must be this tall

With a sneer he said, "You're not tall enough to ride. Safety rules. We don't want patrons being squashed by falling short people."

With this humiliation ringing in her ears, Daria took the elevator back down to the bottom level, to see if she could find some solution to this impasse.

There's no buts about it when you get to the bottom of rear end ergonomics. Get the right stool for the job, next on Sick Sad World.

Daria found herself near a shoe store. "Feeling Feety," she read from the sign, "Everything for the well-dressed foot." This gave her an idea and she walked in.

"Looks like the circus came to town and forgot their shoes," she said, surveying the shelves full of exotic footwear. Then, high on a display stand, she saw what she was looking for: a pair of platform shoes.

Unfortunately she couldn't reach them and started searching for some steps. However, as she did so, she was bumped into by the third of the Js. It seemed that Jeffy was searching for Quinn in here.

With practised precision Daria pulled a red-haired doll out of her pocket. "Stick pins in little Jeffy and watch him twitch," she thought, doing just that.

"Ow!" yelled Jeffy, grabbing his derriere. "A voodoo doll is not a toy!"

With this nuisance safely dispatched, Daria wandered around the store and found three small sets of steps. "Note to self," she thought as she carried them back to the display stand, "You're dreaming about moving furniture. Wake up!"

She stacked the steps up, but found the shoes were still just out of reach. She would need to find another set of steps, but couldn't see any.

Over in the corner of the store Daria noticed the elephantine Mrs Johannsen sitting down looking exhausted as usual. But Daria was more interested to note that the huge woman was sitting on the last set of steps! Daria would have to find a way to get her to move.

"One more ounce of chocolate and this woman's going to pass out," mused Daria. Then she remembered the chocolate bar she got from the machine earlier.

"Life is like a box of chocolates," thought Daria as she took it from her pocket. "You keep wishing people would choke on it."

Daria held the chocolate gingerly in front of Mrs Johanssen, as if she was feeding a seal a fish. The normally immobile woman leapt into action, snatching the chocolate and devoring it in a flash. She then began to look queasy and literally disappeared!

Nothing surprised Daria any more, and she simply picked up the steps and carried them back to add to the others. "How cute," she thought as she ascended. "A platform to the platforms."

Finally high enough to reach them, Daria picked up the pair of ridiculously high platform shoes. "I'm not wearing these," she commented. "I'm afraid of heights."

Nevertheless, she knew she needed them to complete her task, so she carried them with her as she left the shoe shop, thinking, "Now my feet can do what they do best - get me out of here."

Daria went back up the elevator to the start of the rollercoaster ride. Putting on the shoes she tottered clumsily over to the attendant.

"OK," he said with some annoyance. "With those shoes you're theoretically tall enough, so enjoy your theoretical ride!"

The rollercoaster took off with Daria hanging on for dear life. If this was what having fun was all about she'd much rather be at home reading!

Finally the wild ride ended and Daria staggered off, sitting down for a moment to catch her breath and change back into her trusty combat boots.

Looking around she saw the Makeup Mill and there was her 'beloved' sister Quinn, holding the head of the Lawndale Lions' mascot.

"Quinn!" said Daria. "When did you start stealing school mascots?"

"I didn't steal it," replied Quinn haughtily. "I just gave it a makeover. Our school can't have a mascot that looks like an old hippy."

And just to remind Daria that this was a dream, the mascot head itself also spoke up: "And you know, I feel better too."

Unperturbed, Daria simply responded, "Looking like an idiot can do that to a guy."

As it had before, eerie music started playing and Jane appeared from nowhere, this time dressed as Mercury, complete with a staff, and winged hat and shoes.

Unfortunately she misstepped during her grand entrance and bumped Quinn right out of sight. "Security!" cried Quinn as she disappeared from view. "I've been touched by an angel!"

"Don't worry, this is a dream," said Jane by way of reassurance. "Quinn's not really hurt."

"Could you try that again?" responded Daria flatly.

Once again Jane seemed to be enjoying her role as guide. "You've solved the mystery of the dork mascot," she said with exaggerated importance. "And now you can leave this hellhole for a new, improved hellhole. So with a wave of my magic wand ..."

Unfortunately, Jane exhibited further clumsiness by hitting Daria with her staff. "Ow!" complained Daria to her winged friend. "Do that again and I'm getting the magic flyswatter!"

"OK, forget the wand," replied Jane. "Just, um, watch the enchanted stupid hat."

And with that Jane's hat flew off her head and started to spin hypnotically. Once again a mystic spiral (or is that spyral?) seemed to envelop Daria and she felt herself falling down to the next level of her ordeal.

As Daria descended, she heard Jane's voice issuing further instructions: "Ignore the lost youth of Lawndale trying to be cool, and just look for a lost #2 pencil trying to be cool." Daria could think of only one place in Lawndale where anyone even approached coolness: Degas St!

It's the face that launched a thousand goths ... in the opposite direction! Have a nice angst, next on Sick Sad World.

Daria opened her eyes and looked around. "Degas St," she said, "where Lawndale tries to be cool and just ends up dirty and smelly."

Trendy shops selling the latest must-haves lined the street and the sidewalks were crowded with youths simultaneously posing and affecting indifference to their appearance. "I've got to find a #2 pencil on Degas St?" thought Daria. "I didn't think anyone even knew how to write here."

Daria started walking. "One day someone will have to tell me what makes urban streets so sticky," she thought. "But do I want to know?"

The street was really crowded and Daria was bumped into several times by spotty youths too busy trying to look cool to worry about looking where they were going. "Ow!" yelled Daria. "Thanks for sharing!"

Daria needed protection, so she searched through the collection of items she had accumulated for something guaranteed to ward off Degas St's denizens. "Have a nice day in hell with a smiley face button," she thought as she found the pin she had picked up in the Doo Dad Shop. "Guaranteed to make damnation irritating."

Daria figured that this sixties icon was sufficiently square to terrify her nineties antagonists and pinned it to her lapel. Combined with her dowdy outfit, the effect was devastating! Daria was now so uncool that everyone avoided her. "Someone help me!" said one dude when he saw her. "I'm ... feeling groovy."

Making her way past the trendy boutiques and coffee shops, Daria turned a corner to find a red sedan blocking the street. There was no way to get past it, so she tried opening the door, when out popped country and western wannabe Travis.

Fortunately he didn't seem to hold a grudge against Daria after their last encounter. "I'm a singing cowboy, but I can't sing without a hat," he announced. "Why I'd trade my mother, my horse, or this club pass for a chapeau to corral this head of mine."

Daria noticed that the club pass Travis was holding was for The Zon, Mystic Spyral's regular gig. Even this indirect reference to Trent's band was enough to get Daria's pulse racing. Although she couldn't admit it to herself, she just had to get that pass!

Fortunately, she had just the thing, and held out the hat she'd taken from the Fashion Club House. "Get a long little doggie with this cowboy hat," she said without any hint of emotion. "Yee ha."

Travis took the hat and put it on his head. It was a perfect fit. "You saved my life little lady," he beamed. "Why don't you take this old pass to that club there where the kids mosh like a herd of longhorns?"

Daria took the pass and left quickly, before Travis had a chance to pick up his guitar and start singing. "I guess it's time for this little doggie to git along," she said by way of farewell.

Walking the familiar route to Trent's workplace, Daria examined the pass. "You're in the zone with this pass to The Zon," she thought, "your sure ticket to sticky shoes."

Encountering a building that looked like a condemned warehouse, Daria knew she had the right place from the sign that read:

The Zon
Appearing tonite at 8:00
Mystic Spyral
plus Spit Take
and Flaxen

There was a long line waiting to get get in, but their progress was moderated by a burly bouncer. "No one gets in here without a pass unless I think they're hot!" he said. Looking at Daria he added, "You're gonna need the pass."

Daria ignored the slight and held out her pass. Reluctantly, the thug let her through, and Daria entered the dark, deafening, smoke-filled cavern known simply as The Zon.

What would Shakespeare have to say about going to a rave? Mosh ado about nothing, next on Sick Sad World.

"The Zon," thought Daria. "All the ambience of a bus station urinal, with a lot more noise."

The cause of the noise turned out to be Trent, Jesse, Nick and Max - a.k.a. Mystic Spyral - up on stage playing at full volume. The place was packed with dozens of moshers bouncing around in approximate time to the music.

"Weird," thought Daria as she peered around the gloom. "Even the walls sweat here."

At this point Trent stepped up to the microphone and started singing some typically elegant self-penned lyrics:

Go to the bathroom,
Gotta go there now,
This song's about the where and when,
Forget the why and how.

As much as she felt strangely compelled to stand and stare at Jane's brother, Daria knew that she needed to continue her mission. She wasn't sure where to go next, so she decided to follow the advice of Trent's song and headed for the girls' bathroom.

"This ladies' room never saw a lady," said Daria as she pushed open the door and stepped into the nauseating, graffitti-covered and, above all, malodorous room.

Walking over to the mirror she mused, "I don't have to say what happens when I dream about bathrooms, but I'm past the bedwetting stage. I hope!"

In the trash can Daria noticed a large bone. It looked fairly clean, so she pulled it out. It might make a good addition to the collection she kept in her bedroom. "This bone makes me feel kind of like the smart monkey in 2001," she thought.

But Daria suddenly realized she wasn't alone. Noticing a familiar looking pair of feet in one of the stalls she knocked on the door. Sure enough, Brittany Taylor's squeaky voice answered, "I'm not coming out! I look ridiculous with spotted hair."

Daria peered over the top of the cubicle door and confirmed that Brittany had once again tried to be fashionable by dying her hair, but this time it had come out green with pink spots!

This was too much information, so Daria decided to leave. "I'll have to remember to burn my shoes when I wake up," she thought as she squelched out of the room.

Back in the club, Daria decided to leave via the exit on the far side. She tried to squeeze her way through the crush of bouncing fans. "Ow!" she cried as loudly as she could. "I feel moshed!" [20]

Daria retreated to the side of the stage. She would have to find some way of calming the audience down if she was to get past. She noticed a flight of stairs leading up to the lighting gantry above the stage. Climbing them, she found a large electrical plug which was evidently part of the sound system and decided to indulge in a little sabotage. She pulled it out and the amplified sound of Trent's and Jesse's guitars stopped abruptly.

Despite this, when Daria descended she found that the band, and their fans, barely seemed to notice the difference. The song continued, although somewhat muted, and the fans kept bouncing, albeit with less enthusiasm than before.

Nevertheless, the slight calming effect made it possible for Daria to make her way to the opposite side of the stage where she found an identical plug. She pulled this one out too and thereby switched off Trent's microphone and the keyboard.

The result was Mystic Spyral unplugged! The band kept playing, evidently considering this a new musical direction. Most importantly, however, the audience could barely hear anything and stopped dancing. Daria could now move around without getting bruised!

She used this new-found freedom to reach the emergency exit on the far side and pushed it open. As usual, despite the sign on the door, the alarm didn't sound. "Now to check out the mosh pit the rats have going in the dumpster," said Daria as she went out into the alley.

Are there dogs in the dumpster? Or have rats learned to bark? Animal ventriloquists, next on Sick Sad World.

"Back for more of that loitering action," said Daria as she stepped over some empty bottles. But from behind she suddenly heard a menancing growl.

Whirling around she saw two large and mean looking dogs approaching. They circled her, sniffing aggressively. This was getting serious! [21] One of them came up close and almost nipped her. "Ow!" said Daria nervously. "That's why they call you man's best friend."

Thinking quickly, Daria pulled the bone out of her pocket. "I'm sure someone wants this more than I do," she said as she threw it into a nearby dumpster.

Immediately the two dogs leapt in after it and the lid slammed shut. "What do dogs and anthropologists have in common besides the drooling?" quipped Daria with relief as she walked out to the relative safety of Degas St. "They both love bones."

The street was still busy. "Ow!" said Daria as someone bumped into her. "You're pretty annoying for someone who doesn't exist."

Crossing the street she found what she was looking for. In front of Hair for Freaks was a stall with various hair care products. "Why be a dumb brunette when you can be a dumb blonde?" said Daria as she picked up a spray can of hair coloring. "Glamor is only a spray away with Forever Blonde."

"At last," she said walking back past Funky Doodle and Axl's Piercing Parlor, "the cause of Brittany's truant brain cells."

On her way back to The Zon, Daria again pondered her task. "I've got to find a #2 pencil on Degas St? A crayon I can see, a pencil, no!"

Daria reentered The Zon through the emergency exit ineffectively marked:

Do Not Enter

Trent and the band were still performing their 'unplugged' set. "This place is starting to make me want to learn demolition," said Daria as she wondered whether the band had even noticed the absence of electricity or not.

Back in the toilet, Daria again knocked on the door of Brittany's cubicle. "I can't come out," was the high-pitched response. "My hair makes me look too stupid."

"I'd say the problem's under that hair," replied Daria, "but this should get you out of there and end your reign of toilet domination."

Daria held the can up over the door and started spraying. "Eep! My eyes!" squeaked Brittany.

"Don't worry," said Daria reassuringly. "This stuff only blinds lab rats."

When the can was emptied the latch slid back and the door opened. Brittany was looking into her compact's mirror, admiring her newly blonde locks. "You saved my life!" she said. "At least the social interactive part of it."

"Great," said Daria without enthusiasm. "Now you're free to romp and play with the rest of the woodhead creatures."

"And let that be a lesson to the young people," announced Brittany importantly, as if she was accepting a modelling award. "Don't take hair care advice from strangers." [22]

"And this young person thanks you for leaving," said Daria as Brittany left to join the moshers.

But on the toilet seat Daria noticed that Brittany had dropped a green coupon. Picking it up, she saw that it read:

Axl's Piercing Parlor
Masochist Madness
One day only sale
One free hole

"Piercing?" she pondered. "Well, you never know when another orifice will come in handy."

Anxious to get this nightmare over, Daria quickly retraced her steps through the mosh pit, out into the alley and along Degas St to the piercing parlor.

She entered with reluctance. "I don't see the need for more metal attachments," she thought, "I have enough trouble with my glasses."

Nose rings not enough anymore? Take a tip from our bovine buddies! Cow bells for people, next on Sick Sad World.

"I need this exactly like I need a hole in the head," said Daria, looking around at Axl's displays advertising a wide variety of piercing and tattooing options.

"Shouldn't the piercing parlor be in my parent's nightmares?" she thought as she peeked through the curtain into the back room, where the deed was actually done.

To Daria's surprise, there was her goth classmate Andrea lying on the bench, with a new and interesting example of body decoration. "Andrea's got the #2 pencil in her nose," noted Daria. "And me without my rubber gloves."

She parted the curtains, but found her way blocked by Axl himself. "You need the two holes for the price of none coupon, or I can't poke any holes," he said. "You got a problem with that? Blame your imagination!" [23]

Daria was prepared for this, however, and pulled out the coupon that Brittany had lost. (In the back of her mind Daria wondered what part of her body Brittany was planning on getting pierced!)

Daria handed over the coupon, saying sarcastically, "Increase your body's ventilation and blood flow with this free piercing coupon."

"Thanks," replied Axl. "I'm gonna go get the ice pick," he said disturbingly, getting up to leave.

As an afterthought, he added, "Think about wearing the cow bell. It'll cover the blood."

Daria picked up the gold cow bell that Axl had pointed to. She cringed at the noise it made. "Ding dong the witch is dead," she thought. "Or she'll wish she were, after listening to this cow bell all day."

Daria walked over to where Andrea was waiting patiently. "This pencil in my nose isn't doing it," complained Lawndale High's resident goth chick.

"My parents think I'm making some literacy statement," she added. "Got any annoying ideas?"

It wasn't often that Andrea was so talkative, so Daria figured she must be really desperate. "Andrea, look!" said Daria ringing the bell. "I think this will annoy your parents a lot more than a pencil."

"That is irritating!" said Andrea, impressed. She took the bell and then slowly pulled the pencil out of the hole in her septum. Daria grimaced as Andrea then replaced the pencil with the cowbell's hook.

"Perfect," said Andrea standing up. "It was hard to write with my face anyways." She handed the pencil to Daria.

"And wait til you hear the noise it makes when you sneeze," said Daria, surreptitiously wiping the pencil on her pleated skirt.

Andrea took a few steps and the enormous bell obscuring half her face started clanking. "It's driving me nuts already," she said. "It completely rocks!"

Andrea left, leaving Daria standing alone holding the hard-won pencil. But suddenly she heard a tiny voice that seemed to be coming from her navel! "Hey, Daria! Down here!"

"This better not be another lecture from my stomach about snacks," said Daria as she cautiously lifted her jacket to bare her midriff.

To Daria's surprise it seemed that she had acquired a tattoo of a mermaid sitting on an anchor. And that mermaid was none other than Jane Lane!

"The belt line is getting a little tight," said Jane's image. "But tattoos can't be too judgemental."

"Or they'll get removed," threatened Daria.

Once again, Jane was entering into the spirit of things. "And now that you've found the pencil," she bellowed, "heave away me hearties for another port in hell. Lower away the mainsail."

Daria lowered her jacket and said, "Amazing how fast you can get tired of a tattoo."

Then the now familiar spiral of light embraced Daria and she felt herself descending even further into her own vision of hell. She sensed the worst. It felt like she was going ... home!

Jane's voice continued to echo through Daria's mind as she fell: "Looking for a lost old book for youngsters? Start by looking for a lost old youngster."

"There's no place like home," thought Daria. "And there's a darn good reason!"

What makes Daddy tick, tick, tick? When dads explode, next on Sick Sad World.

When Daria opened her eyes she found herself in her family's living room. Everything seemed relatively normal. "There's Dad," she thought as she spotted Jake Morgendorffer sitting on the couch, "and he's reading Winnie the Pooh, the book Ms Li's looking for."

"I wonder if it's the original version where Pooh gets shot in a card game?" she pondered as she walked over to her father, in the hope of quickly retrieving the book.

Unfortunately, Jake had the book in a vice-like grip, and he seemed to be extremely stressed. "This book doesn't leave these hands until I'm done!" he yelled.

"But I can't read with all these distractions, damnit! I feel like I'm gonna ..." he struggled for words, "... explode and then I'll never get to the good part."

Daria knew that there was no reasoning with her father when he was in one of these moods, so she'd have to find some sneaky way of making him let go of the book.

Daria started pacing the living room, looking for ideas. On the floor near the sliding glass doors that led to the backyard she noticed a battered wooden box with the words

Jake's Shoeshine
painted on one side.

Daria recognized it as she picked it up. "Someone ran over Dad's treasured shoe-shine box from junior high woodshop," she thought. "By accident?"

And on the mantelpiece she noticed another memento of her father's youth. "Dad's high school yearbook, a.k.a. Dips on Parade!" she thought, spying the cover which read

Buxton Ridge Military Academy Yearbook

This ancient relic gave her an idea and she walked over to pick it up too. As she did so, however, Daria's mother appeared out of nowhere, blocking Daria's way. "Ow!" said Daria, bumping into her. "You're dangerous when you're not on your cell phone."

Helen Morgendorffer seemed to be in a very strange mood. It looked like she was going through one of her metaphysical phases. "Daria, don't consider your soul empty," she said. "Consider it 'spacious'." [24]

Daria deftly sidestepped her mother, having had many years of experience at doing just that, and picked up the book. "It's Dad's military school yearbook," she thought as she looked at some of the photographs inside. "Connect the zits and a picture of Nixon will appear."

Importantly, though, the book and the shoeshine box gave Daria an idea. If she could get Jake obsessing about his lost youth - which was normally an easy thing to do - he might forget about Winnie the Pooh.

Walking back to the couch, Daria picked something up off the coffee table. "A TV remote control," she mused. "If only it could turn off this dream."

Daria stood in front of her father and held up the yearbook. "My yearbook!" he yelled, snatching it from her hands. Sure enough, as Daria predicted, he immediately launched into an emotional tirade. "All those 'friends' who laughed at me at the prom when I wore the orchid I was supposed to give to my date."

"Well, she didn't show up!" he said, his face getting red with anger. "What should I have done with it?"

So far so good, but Jake still maintained his grip on Winnie the Pooh. Daria decided to try goading him further. "The TV remote control," she said, handing it over. "Just point and click and watch the shows go from bad to worse."

Again the effect was exactly what Daria wanted. "Who took the channel listings off the TV remote?" screamed Jake. "How am I supposed to memorize all those networks and run a business?"

Then, with an air of defeat, his voice trailed off, saying, "I'd need a super brain for that and I just don't have it ... I just don't have it!"

But still he maintained his grip on the book Daria needed. However, she had one more card to deal. "It's high school woodshop's hint to forget Harvard and think about a job at the train station," she said, confident that the sight of the broken box would send her father into a rage. "It's the shoe shine box."

But as Daria waited for the inevitable explosion, it didn't come. "My junior high shoe shine box. The last remnant of my boyhood. Crushed!" he said, with more sorrow than anger.

And then, studying the artifact, he even seemed to cheer up a bit. "Actually, now that I look at this," he said, "it really is a pretty bad piece of work."

That wasn't the reaction Daria wanted at all. Jake was now relatively calm and went back to reading Winnie the Pooh. Daria would need to find something else to stir him up.

Having exhausted all the possiblities in the living room, she walked into the kitchen. "I'm going where the damnation doesn't feel so eternal," she thought to herself. Perhaps she could find some Sugar Tarts?

Entering the kitchen, Daria sniffed the air. "Do I smell brimstone?" she thought. "No, it's Mom microwaving again."

Once again, Daria's hyperactive mother was getting in the teenager's way. "Daria, do you have any idea how hard it is to organize your subconscious?" said Helen. "Wake up!"

Doing her best to avoid the distraction, Daria searched around for something else to annoy her father. She opened the fridge to find a large glass bowl filled with multi-colored cubes. They jiggled disturbingly as Daria picked it up. "I have no idea what this is, but it's bright colored and I think people eat it."

Studying the strange concoction closer she asked herself, "Is that a clam from outer space?" Then realization dawned, "No, it's baked Jell-O a la Helen!" This was sure to irritate her father's culinary sensibilities!

Daria then started looking through the cupboards but, as she did so, Helen interrupted her again. "Daria, could you hide your brain?" she said. "You're making Quinn feel left out."

This piece of sibling favoratism sent Daria into overdrive. "My irritation meter is off the scale!" she thought, looking around for some sort of weapon.

And there on the kitchen table was just the thing! "A cell phone," said Daria, picking it up. "And it's not attached to my mother."

The next time Helen came near her, Daria held the phone out. "It's Mom's umbilical cordless," she thought.

With perfect timing he phone rang and Helen snatched it up. "Hellooo, Helen Morgendorffer," she chimed, wandering away to deal with another office crisis.

Finally left in peace, Daria continued her search. In a cupboard she found a slip of paper titled

Jury Summons
and with Jake Morgendorffer's name written below. "Jury duty notification," she mused. "Why can't you give the death penalty for jay walking?"

Daria shoved the paper in her pocket and went back out to the living room. "The only thing getting cooked in this kitchen is my brain!" she said.

Jake was still gripping the book and struggling to concentrate. Daria held out the bowl she found in the fridge. "Mmmm, Jell-O," said Jake, seemingly peckish.

But after inspecting it more closely he exclaimed, "I don't believe it! How many times do I have to tell Helen she's not supposed to bake it?"

Daria's plan seemed to be working. She figured the next item would send Jake screaming into the night. "Eleven angry men are looking for a twelfth," she said, holding out the summons. "It's time for jury duty."

"Jury duty?" screamed Jake. But then a grim smile crossed his face. "Now I get to strike a blow for justice and fry the bad guys!"

This was no good. Jake had calmed down again and returned to reading the library book. Daria would need to find something else to complete her scheme.

She walked over to the cupboard under the stairs. Opening it she couldn't see anything other than old overcoats and umbrellas. One odd item, however, was a pair of brightly-colored wooden-soled shoes. "Clogs," said Daria picking them up. "I thought this was my hell, not Quinn's."

She'd have to go upstairs to find something more inflammatory. As she started climbing she heard her mother's voice from behind, "This must be a dream. I haven't heard a complaint from Ms Li all day."

Reaching the top of the stairs, Daria thought, "Picking stuff up in the hall can look suspiciously like housework." Instead she decided to look inside her room.

Daria turned right and walked to the end of the hallway, then opened the door to her room on the left. [25] "Just show me the door that gets me out of this nightmare and we're in business," she said.

Stepping inside she sighed, "My good old private hell." Everything was as she liked it: padded walls, bars on the windows, human bones and the remains of scientific experiments scattered about the floor.

Her thoughts of lying down and relaxing at last were rudely interrupted, however. Quinn burst into the room in a state of anxiety. "Daria," she said, "have you been telling people we're related?"

"Oh, stop!" yelled Daria as Quinn started following her around. She needed something to scare her attractive and popular sister away.

"Clogs!" said Daria, wielding the offensive footwear. "Worn by the beast in the book of revelations. The sign of the end of fashion."

The move had the desired effect. "Clogs?" squealed Quinn. "Get them away, get them away!" She beat a hasty retreat.

Daria returned to the task of finding items to distract her father from his reading. She opened a drawer in her bureau and found a misplaced article of clothing. "Dad's pants," she thought, "designed to accommodate the sag of defeat."

Next she looked in her wardrobe, glancing briefly at the poetry carved on its walls. On the floor she found an old coupon which read:

Buy two burgers and get a bucket of fries free

"A fast food coupon," she mused. "Free bucket of fries with a Jolly Meal. And the money you save you can spend on your bypass!"

There obviously wasn't much of use in her room, so Daria decided to look elsewhere. "I'm getting out of here before I have to make my bed," she thought. "That's an agony of the damned I can't endure."

Crossing the hallway, Daria cautiously opened the door of Quinn's room. Looking around she realized, "I never dreamed that one room could contain so much that I just don't want to know about."

Daria crept over and opened one of the brightly colored chests that Quinn used to store wardrobe overflow and unwanted gifts. To her surprise, however, she found another misplaced item, a used razor. "Here's a symbol of violated manhood," she thought as she examined it. "Dad's razor with one of Mom's leg hairs on it."

This was bound to infuriate her father! She put it in her pocket, thinking, "Shave your legs with Dad's razor today, and enjoy his blood-curdling screams tomorrow."

In the next chest she found a slip of paper, hidden beneath a pile of clothes. "This is an interesting phone bill," she thought. "Who does Quinn know on planet X57?" The total charge was a whopping $673.24!

Daria had just stuffed the bill into her pocket when Quinn appeared again, still complaining about Daria revealing her kinship. "Watch out!" yelled Daria as Quinn brushed against her. "You're messing up my clothes!" [26]

Daria repeated her trick of waving the clogs around, and once again Quinn retreated in disgust.

Making sure that Quinn had gone downstairs, Daria kept rummaging around. Quinn's room was proving to be a treasure trove of items that will anger her father!

In the third chest she found another hidden item. "Quinn should learn not to leave her report cards lying around," said Daria as she extracted it from its hiding place. "Dad's unstable enough."

Finally, in Quinn's sock drawer Daria found another surprising object. "So that's where the sideview mirror wound up when it, um, fell off."

Staring into the mirror, Daria reflected that hell was doing bad things to her complexion. She ran her fingers through her auburn hair. She was wondering about ways of increasing its bounciness, and perhaps introducing some shimmering highlights, when she realized what was happening to her.

"I just thought about clothes and hair!" she said in a panic. "I've gotta get out of here," she thought as she raced for the door. "I'm turning into Quinn!"

Back downstairs Daria put the final stage of her plan into action. One by one she handed her father the items she'd found, in the hope that they'd make him forget about Winnie the Pooh.

She started off with what she thought would be an obvious winner. "Quinn's report card," said Daria as she handed it over, "where Quinn shows she's building additions onto her spacious room for improvement."

Jake's reaction wasn't what Daria expected at all, however. "Quinn's report is all Cs and a couple of Ds!" he said. "That's great!" The lesson seemed to be that if you expect nothing, every little thing looks good!

Daria's next attempt was more successful. "The phone bill," she said. "Time to put your money where your mouth was."

Jake snatched at the bill and his eyes bulged as he saw the total owed. "Aaah!" he screamed. "The phone bill! It's in the millions!"

He was shaking with rage, but still clutched the book. Daria tried something else. "Pants," she observed as she handed Jake the brown trousers she'd found upstairs. "What the man in the know wears when he wants respect."

Jake eyed them suspiciously before bellowing, "Helen must have bought these pants for me! I'll say she did, because I don't wear easy-fit, old-man pants with elastic in the waistband. I'm not there yet, not by a long shot!"

As Jake continued his tirade, Daria pulled out the next item in her pocket, the burger coupon. She wasn't sure what good it would do, but she was on a roll, so it was worth a try!

"This coupon's good for a free bucket of fries with a Jolly Meal," she noted. "Small chokable plastic toy included."

Fists clenched in anger, Jake studied the coupon carefully. "This fast food coupon expired yesterday," he yelled. "Those lousy vendors are just trying to mock me! Get me all worked up about some fries and then Bam! No deal! Well Jake Morgendorffer doesn't need your damn fries!"

Her father's face was now red with rage, so Daria quickly pulled out the next item, his razor. "Gah!" he screamed. "A leg hair on my razor! I've got to put this on my face! My face!"

By now Jake looked like he was about to burst. Daria took out her piece de resistance. "Do your makeup and drive at the same time with this handy sideview mirror," she said casually.

"The side mirror of the Lexus belongs on the Lexus!" screeched Jake, almost incoherent with anger. "It's gonna cost more than a new car to get that put back on!"

Clutching the mirror in his hands Jake's fury seemed to reach a catastrophic level when, in a reminder that this was all a dream, he literally exploded, leaving nothing but a scorch mark and the copy of Winnie the Pooh sitting on the couch!

Without registering any surprise, Daria retrieved the book. "So that's why you're supposed to return overdue books," she said to herself as Helen walked back into the room.

"Daria," she said with slight annoyance, "did you make your father implode?"

"Technically," the teen relied, "I think I made him explode."

"Implode, explode!" said Helen. "Either way, I wish he'd done it outdoors."

She headed for the kitchen, muttering, "Now, where did I leave the dustbuster?"

As Daria stood alone, surveying the strange situation, she heard a familiar voice from behind. "Looks like someone's dad should have switched to decaf."

Turning around, Daria found that the abstract painting on the Morgendorffer's living room wall - the one that Mrs Gupty liked so much - had changed subtly. The big black dot had become a pair of red lips and below that was a blue eye.

As Daria watched the features rearranged until the angular features of her best friend emerged. "There, that's better," said Jane. "Now I can talk and blink at the same time."

It seemed that Jane had arrived to deliver yet another pompous speech. "You have found the magic book," she began. "The last step on your ..."

"Just get me to the lowest circle of hell," interrupted Daria. "Mom's about to make me vacuum the living room."

"Then look into my poorly drawn eye," said the Jane-like painting. "And do not try this at home. I'm a fully trained and licensed hallucination."

Once again Daria felt the mystical spiral swallowing her up, and she began her descent into the dark void that led down to the final level of her personal hell.

In the blackness, Daria heard Jane's voice continuing to give instructions. "We're almost out of this stupid dream," she said. "Find Ms Li and give her back her junk and she'll give you back your life. Then the real nightmare begins."

Go directly to hell, and do not collect $200! The game of real life, next on Sick Sad World.

Daria found herself back in the hallway of Lawndale High School. This time, however, the imposing barred door at the end of the corridor was unlocked.

Daria pushed the heavy wooden door open and walked in. But instead of a room she found herself in a huge cavern, resembling a more traditional view of hell. Narrow paths led away from the doorway in several directions, separated by deep pits filled with red-hot lava. Watching one's step seemed like a wise strategy here!

"Looks like Ms Li has been doing a little redecorating," understated Daria.

The smoke and steam rising from the pits made it difficult to see very far. With no obvious alternative, Daria started walking. "I've gotta give Ms Li her missing junk back," she pondered. "But there's still one more piece of junk I need to find." So far she had found only four of the five missing items.

Turning right, Daria found that the path was blocked by a large portait of Mr O'Neill etched into the rock floor. She had no choice but to step on it as she walked forward.

As soon as she had walked over the portrait, however, there was a flash and a life-size image of O'Neill himself appeared. "Ah!" said the apparition. "I think we've learned a lot about how hell can be ... emotionally challenging."

Spooked by this eerie development, Daria walked as quickly as she could, but the phantom English teacher followed right behind her. Daria turned left and after a short distance noticed another portrait on the floor to her left. This time it was Ms Barch.

Still trying to evade O'Neill's ghost, Daria had no choice but to chance walking over Barch's image. Fortunately, nothing seemed to happen when she did so, but she found herself in a cul-de-sac, and O'Neill was getting closer!

Daria was trapped, and just as she feared the worst, the wraith walked over the image of Ms Barch. As it did so, Barch's voice called out, "I will not be walked on by a man!" And with that O'Neill's apparition disappeared.

With a sigh of relief, Daria retraced her steps over Barch's image and back towards where she started. This time she kept on going past the path leading to the entrance.

The next portrait blocking her way proved to be that of classmate Michael MacKenzie, better known as "Mack". Daria was reluctant to step on the picture, after what happened last time.

However, through the haze ahead she could see another part of the maze, this time containing a picture of Principal Li and, best of all, on the floor nearby was the hall pass!

Daria just had to have that pass, so she tried walking quickly over Mack's image. Once again, a ghostly apparition appeared, this time in the shape of Mr MacKenzie. "Pleased to make your acquaintance," said the wraith, but he sounded anything but pleased! The last time Daria had heard Mack use that tone of voice was when he was addressing the obnoxious Tommy Sherman. [27]

This spirit also seemed determined to catch her, so Daria hurried forward towards the hall pass. As she got closer, however, she saw with bitter disappointment that there was no connection at all between the part of the pathway containing the hall pass and the part of the maze she was on. Daria couldn't possibly jump over the lava pit separating her from the pass. The only way to get there seemed to be flying, something for which the unathletic teenager was ill-equipped!

Even worse, the path she was hurrying down turned out to be another dead end! She looked back and the phantom Mack was still pursuing her. With her options rapidly diminishing, Daria decided to turn and head back towards the maze's entrance.

She walked right through Mack's apparition, but the effort knocked the wind out of her and left her feeling weak. These phantoms were definitely not friendly! [28]

Retracing her steps, Daria again encountered O'Neill's image. There was no choice, so she walked over it and, once again, a ghostly copy of the teacher appeared. Now Daria had two phantoms chasing her!

Daria walked quickly ahead until she was near the maze's entrance. This time, however, she took the left-hand path.

With the two phantoms in hot pursuit, Daria kept moving and soon saw that not only had she walked down another dead end, but it terminated with a portrait of her classmate Jodie Landon.

Daria and Jodie had not always seen eye to eye, but she hoped that Jodie's portrait may have a similar effect on the monsters as Ms Barch's. With the ghosts close behind, Daria stepped onto the image.

Mack and Jodie had had an on-again, off-again relationship for some time, and it seemed that it was 'off' right now. Jodie's voice cried, "Leave me alone!" in the same whiny tone Daria had heard Jodie use on Mack before. [27] Both Mack and O'Neill's ghosts vanished.

But this time there was an additional effect. Daria felt her surroundings alter and suddenly realized that she was in a different part of the maze! She was still standing on Jodie's portrait, but everything else had changed. She had been teleported from one picture of Jodie to another!

This discovery gave Daria an idea. If Jodie's image could move her between different parts of the labyrinth, then maybe an image of Ms Li would transport her to the hall pass!

Anxious to test this theory, Daria headed back in what she thought was the direction of the maze's entrance. On the path ahead, however, was another frightening obstacle, an image of the Fashion Club!

With a fatalistic tread, Daria walked over it and, sure enough, up popped Sandi Griffin, Tiffany Blum-Deckler and Stacy Rowe. They chimed in unison, "We can't believe you're leaving here dressed like that!"

With the three ghosts in tow, Daria hurried onwards, turning right at the next junction. She passed the image of Ms Barch she had used to get rid of O'Neill and instead continued straight ahead. She was now in a part of the maze she hadn't visited before.

Turning left at the next intersection she soon came across an image of Charles Ruttheimer III. Daria looked back at the ghostly Fashion Club that was haunting her. If anything was likely to scare those girls it was UpChuck!

So saying, Daria walked over Charles' image. As soon as the ghostly trio tried to emulate her, however, there was the familiar mating call, "Rrrrrr! Feisty!" and the three phantoms vanished. Daria's hunch about opposites annihilating one another had proven right.

Up ahead was an unusually wide section of the pathway, this time with a picture of Ms Li in the middle. Daria stopped and studied it. There was something strange - Ms Li parts her hair on the left, but this image did so on the right.

Daria didn't think this too important, however, and she stepped onto the mirror image, hoping that it would transport her to the hall pass. But to her dismay Ms Li's voice boomed out, "A violation of the school's walking-around-in-a-maze policy has been reported. Return to the beginning of the maze at once. And no talking."

Instead of finding herself at her desired destination, Daria was back at the beginning! Before trying again she paused to reflect on her situation. If there was one thing her reading had taught her about labyrinths, it was that the good stuff is always in the middle!

Resolving to head for the center of the maze, rather than directly towards the hall pass, Daria set out again, starting by turning right.

Once again she walked over O'Neill's picture and awoke his spirit, but this time she knew what to do and turned left at the next two intersections to find the portrait of Ms Barch and thereby eliminate the menace.

Thus unemcumbered she followed the main path again, turning left at the next intersection, walking over the harmless image of Upchuck and around the mirror image of Ms Li on the wide part of the path.

Now she was again in unfamiliar territory. Up ahead was another image of the Fashion Club, so Daria walked quickly over it and continued straight on.

She had now accumulated another three phantoms and was approaching a dead end. Fortunately at the end was a picture of Jodie. Daria stepped onto it, allowing herself to be teleported away from the fashion fiends.

She found herself in another widened section of the pathway. There were three ways to go and, choosing one at random, Daria walked a short distance until she encountered a huge steel gate blocking the path. A sign on it read:

No entry without hall pass

There was no way to go further, so Daria retraced her steps back past the picture of Jodie and walked around it, going straight ahead. Up ahead was another image of Mack and she tried crossing it as lightly as her combat boots would allow, but still still the ghostly image of her classmate appeared and began to pursue her.

Daria kept going forward and noticed in the distance another portrait of Ms Li carved into the rock floor. She crossed her fingers that this was the right one as she walked briskly forward.

As she'd hoped, this image was the right way around. Her heart racing, Daria stepped onto it, barely ahead of the phantom pursuing her.

Again Daria felt the sensation of being teleported, but this time Principal Li's voice said, "Go directly to the hall pass in an orderly fashion. Single file, people."

When her vision cleared, Daria found herself standing on the isolated section of the maze containing Ms Li's image and, best of all, the precious item she sought. "The hall pass," she thought as she picked it up. "Magic ticket to the enchanted world of loitering."

Now she just needed to return to the locked gate, and she knew exactly how to do it. In rapid succession she stepped on the portait of Ms Li, which transported her back to her previous location, walked back over the image of Mack and, keeping ahead of the ghost thus summoned, walked past Jodie's portrait to the steel barrier.

As soon as she reached it she felt herself being whisked away to another part of the inferno. "The mighty hall pass has spoken," she thought as she fell into darkness once more.

This time Daria found herself standing in a huge hall, holding a cardboard box containing the five items she had recovered. In front of her, in a scene reminiscent of MGM's Wizard of Oz, was a huge image of Angela Li's head, flanked by torches shooting balls of flame into the air.

"Fe, fi, fo, fum!" boomed the terrifying vision. "I smell things that have been stolen."

Daria stood her ground. "You smell right, O Mighty One," she shouted back. "Here's the stuff that got your support hose in a knot."

Seemingly caught off guard, the image responded, "Oh, well, um, please pay attention to the Principal behind the curtain!" And then Ms Li herself emerged.

"This was a test," she said to Daria. "These could only be found by the strong of spirit, pure of heart and noble of mind. Which is why I'm surprised you found them, Daria Morgendorffer!"

"We're inside my head," replied Daria. "Things tend to focus on me here."

"That explains it!" said Ms Li, relieved. "I was worried there was something wrong with the test."

Then, waving her arm, Li said, "Let this now be your reward."

Once more Daria felt herself falling through the same spiral of light that started this nightmare. "Some reward," she said petulantly. "Leave it to Ms Li to save money by recycling cheap special effects."

Down she fell until, at the moment of impact, Daria was finally jolted awake!

"Whoa!" said Daria sitting up. "Where am I?"

Looking around she realized she was back in O'Neill's English class. The lesson was over and all the students had left, except Brittany, Jane, Kevin, and Mr O'Neill himself. They were all standing around Daria's desk looking amused.

"Darn!" said Jane. "We were just betting to see if you were a drooler or a snorer. My money was on the drool."

"Sorry to wreck your fun," said Daria, still trying to wake up properly. "I just had the weirdest dream."

"You were in it," she said pointing to Jane, "and you ..." she continued, indicating Kevin, who replied "Cool!"

"... and you!" concluded Daria looking at Mr O'Neill.

Fortunately, the even tempered teacher didn't seem annoyed that his star pupil had fallen asleep in his class. "And did you learn anything uplifting in this journey of the mind?" he asked.

Daria reflected for a moment and responded, "I learned that no matter where my mind may wander, there's no place like Lawndale."

O'Neill seemed pleased with this comment until Daria added, "But hell comes very close!"

The End [29] ... Or Is It? [30]


  1. "Daria" and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International Inc.

  2. "Daria's Inferno" is copyright 2000 by Simon and Schuster Interactive, a division of Simon and Schuster Inc.

  3. Daria's Inferno was released in 2000 and contains characters and locations from Daria's first three seasons only. (Notably, Tom Sloane does not appear.) Thus, Daria's Inferno fits quite comfortably as a fourteenth episode in Daria's fantasy-oriented third season. The game's storyline is entirely linear, and the only unusual aspect of this "episode" is that parts of it are interactive.

  4. As well as writing the script for Daria's Inferno, Peter Elwell is author of Daria episodes The Lawndale File, A Tree Grows in Lawndale, Legends of the Mall and Lucky Strike, and co-author of Daria! (a.k.a. Daria - The Musical).

  5. These two comments are made by Daria and Quinn during the game's initialization, before the story proper begins. One of the problems with faithfully transcribing the dialogue from the game is that some of the comments made by the characters relate to the game itself, rather than the story it contains. In writing this novelization I have attempted to include every utterance made by all the characters, verbatim. However, a few instructions to the player have been omitted. Also, some small liberties have been taken with Daria's reflections on the objects she picks up, as these are often expressed in the game as hints to the player. (The player can ask what a particular object is, and Daria responds with a pithy explanation.)

  6. The giant eyeballs that appear twice in the story may be inspired by Daria's reaction to Ms Li's description of the "public eye" in The Lost Girls.

  7. It's not clear how Daria manages to carry the numerous items she finds during the game. She isn't wearing her gray backpack, and she is never shown carrying anything (except briefly at the very end of the game). Therefore, I've assumed that everything is magically stored in her jacket's pockets. Indeed, various Daria episodes show that her jacket is capable of holding notepads, pens and even hardcover books without so much as a telltale bulge! (The opening credits of Is It College Yet? also reveal that there are pockets in Daria's pleated skirt.)

  8. One of the pleasing aspects of the game is that Daria is not required to do anything uncharacteristically athletic. (The most energetic thing she ever does in Daria's five seasons is when she runs a few yards to catch up to Jodie in Partner's Complaint.) In the game her actions are limited to walking around, picking up and using various items, and talking to people.

  9. The actual word spoken by Daria here is "game", not "dream". This is one of only two self-referential statements made in the game's dialogue. The other one, which I have not attempted to incorporate into the novelization, is the following sarcastic remark by Daria: "Is this some computer geek's idea of a good time?"

  10. Throughout the game the player has the option of asking for a hint in the form of an advertisement for Sick Sad World. This aspect of the game proved impossible to weave into the narrative of the story. Instead, the SSW announcer's comments are simply displayed above as interludes at the relevant point. (Admittedly, however, they are not very meaningful without the accompanying visuals.)

  11. At various points in the game Daria encounters obstacles in the form of irritating people who repeatedly block her way or bump into her. These are represented in the game by having individual characters appear several times on the screen simultaneously. For instance, the entrance to Lawndale High is blocked by dozens of identical Tad Guptys and Big-Wheel Girls. This repetitive aspect of the gameplay has not been incorporated into the narrative above. Instead a single encounter with the individuals concerned is described.

  12. Daria's comment when attacked by the flying eyeballs is one of my favorites. Despite facing a terrifying supernatural menace, Daria just complains about being stared at!

  13. In the game itself Daria's "irritation meter" is a literal thing. As various annoyances bump into her it registers on a meter at the bottom of the screen. When her irritation reading reaches the top of the scale Daria is sent back to the beginning of the current game level. This is a clever, non-violent alternative to the usual computer game notion of players having a fixed number of "lives". (Daria's Inferno is an exploration game. It's impossible to lose the game and Daria can't be seriously harmed. Even when navigating narrow ledges and other dangerous situations she cannot fall or be hurt.)

  14. I've cheated slightly in various places by including comments that are normally made only when Daria exits a particular location. For instance, Daria actually makes her comment about the "mental detector" when she exits the front door of the school. However, unless you forget to pick up an item from outside, there is normally no reason to do this.

  15. This is one of only a few small inconsistencies between the game and the series. 'Popular Girl' (first introduced in The Invitation) is actually in Quinn's class, not Daria's.

  16. Actually I have no idea what this word is. Despite listening to Daria's protest about being sprayed with perfume dozens of times, I simply can't work out what she says.

  17. Tiffany's delivery of her only line in the game is a classic! The casual way she uses "Girl-Who-Lives-With-Quinn" as Daria's name is hilarious.

  18. In the game the dressing rooms each contain a Daria character either in some state of (mild) undress or dressed as one of their alter egos. There are far too many to describe here - buy the game if you want to see them!

  19. In addition to the dialogue cited above, Daria also says, "I should pick it up," with reference to the cowboy hat. Evidently this was added to the game to ensure that the player realized they are meant to take the hat off the mannequin. (All the other items Daria finds in the game are on the ground or on furniture and are obviously there to be picked up. The hat looks no different from the other scenery in the clothes store and is easily overlooked.)

  20. Daria's delivery of her line about being "moshed" is another of my favorites!

  21. Daria's encounter with the aggressive dogs in the alley behind The Zon is surprisingly disturbing. All the other problems she encounters during the game are mere irritations. This is the only situation in which the game puts Daria in serious physical danger. (In fact, the dogs do not injure her, of course. As noted above, Daria's Inferno is an exploration game, and Daria cannot be hurt or killed.)

  22. Brittany delivers this line directly to the "camera".

  23. In the game Axl has completely lost the British accent he affected in Pierce Me. (Presumably a different voice actor plays the part.)

  24. Helen's remarks to Daria during the game are exceptionally thoughtless. They are comparable with her worst parenting blunders in Daria.

  25. The biggest inconsistency between the game and the series is the upstairs layout of the Morgendorffer's home. In the game Daria's and Quinn's bedrooms are shown to be on the left, for someone standing at the top of the stairs. In fact, these two doors lead to Jake and Helen's bedroom and the guest room. The correct location for the girls' bedrooms is to turn right at the top of the stairs, and follow the corridor to the end. Daria's bedroom is then on the left (at the back of the house, above the kitchen) and Quinn's bedroom is on the right (at the front of the house, above the garage). This significant error is rather surprising, given that the game otherwise pays very close attention to the detail of Daria's universe. In the novelization above I have assumed the correct upstairs layout, rather than the one shown in the game.

  26. Daria's sudden concern for her clothing while in Quinn's room is another of my favorite moments in the game!

  27. The sound bites used for Mack and Jodie in Ms Li's Labyrinth are both taken from the soundtrack of The Misery Chick. (All of the other vocals in the game were recorded especially.)

  28. It seems a little incongruous that Mack is one of Daria's obstacles in Ms Li's Labyrinth. Of all Daria's classmates, Mack was the one who caused her the least irritation in Daria. Indeed, Daria and Mack rarely interacted at all!

  29. A slightly disappointing aspect of the game's final sequence is that no explanation is ever given for what happened to Ms Li's missing stuff in real life.

  30. The reward for completing the game is to see the closing credits, which are presented in traditional Daria style, but with a couple of differences. Firstly, the credits feature the full-length version of Splendora's Daria theme song, with additional verses not heard in the series. (It's worth buying the game for this alone!) Secondly, the credits are accompanied by a selection of new alter egos. These are as follows: Kevin as Sherlock Holmes; Mack as a millionaire; Upchuck as SuperUpchuck; Kevin as a ventriloquist with a Kevin dummy; Upchuck as a viking; Quinn as Sgt. Pepper; Trent as a film director; Upchuck as a character from Tron; Daria as a life-size cardboard cutout; Brittany as the Venus de Milo; Jane painting messily; Mr O'Neill as Johnny Appleseed; Jake as Jimi Hendrix; and Mack, Kevin, Trent and Upchuck as The Ghostbusters.