Adventures of Andrea Hecuba (the Goth girl) in college.
Daria (and associated characters and locations) is copyright © 1997-2000 MTV Networks.
This story is copyright © 2002 by Bacner () and has been written for personal enjoyment. No infringement of the above rights is intended.
An Emperor's New Dress
The professor was just preparing to have breakfast, and in the domestic settling looked very nice and friendly. She even wore a bib.
"Do you want to join?" she asked her guest, a neatly dressed and shy young woman.
"No thanks, I'm sated," the later replied.
"Well then, excuse me," the professor replied, taking the silver cup with an egg, "but sit down please anyway."
The young woman politely thanked the professor and sat down into an armchair. Her gaze passed impassively over the massive rings on the professor's fingers. The professor, meanwhile, took-on the egg.
"You look familiar," the professor said, flicking-away a bit of shell. "Where could've we met?"
"You've got a good memory," the young woman replied, blushing slightly.
"Well, it must've been on a lecture," the professor continued thoughtfully.
"It's simply astonishing!" the guest exclaimed. "Exactly on a lecture!"
"Only - on which one?" the professor's eyebrows made a bridge while his eyes grew round.
"On which you demonstrated the mask," the young woman prompted further, using all of her store of courtesy that she was able to generate.
"Oh yes, of course!" the professor exclaimed. "You sat in the front row..."
"...and I must admit, it was very interesting to watch your reaction..."
"Happy to hear it..."
"And I'm really happy... yes..."
They exchanged compliments for some more time till they fell silent. The professor made a waiting facial expression and dipped her spoon in the egg yolk. The wall-clock chimed.
"Well now, professor," the young woman said, pausing a bit, "I'm not quite agreeing with your point of view."
"Well! That's nice! It'll be very interesting to hear you!" and professor settled down for some more comfort, preparing to have fun.
The guest didn't hurry with an answer, taking her time. Clearly, that her problem area with to express her way of disagreement.
The professor condescendingly looked away, and allowed herself to remember that lecture in all of its' details. It, indisputably, was one of her best lectures; simply a brilliant lecture!
...There was quite a bit of a crowd, and the audience reflected the professor's expectations beyond them. The audience consisted of psychos, hysterical, and simply exalted personages, stuck on one or another type of super-natural anomalies. The professor, known to them by her materialistic and sceptical attitude towards those problems, looked to them as easy prey, and they thirsted to give her plenty of ingenuous questions. The professor silently laughed. She hated such type of people and, in her turn, loved to see them flutter under her scientific logic and irrefutable facts. She truly changed on the rostrum, crushing and squashing foolish illusions and baseless beliefs.
Questions were asked about everything. The professor, her glasses glinting, didn't miss anything. She explained, in particular, that over ninety UFO appearances is explained as purely physical phenomena, while everything that can't be explained is also, of course, a physical phenomena, to understand which the humanity merely lacks scientific knowledge. Explaining the true essence of extrasensory individuals, she explained, that there was nothing "extra" about them, and everything was pure "sensory" - a lower limit of heat perception and a higher speed of analysis of the received data. She showed slides which showed the calmly rusting remains of planes that "mysteriously" vanished in the Bermuda triangle. And so on. At the end of the lecture the atmosphere in the audience was red-hot. The audience, attacked in their beliefs, were ready to rip the professor apart. And they didn't yet know what surprise lay in store for them...
Suddenly for all the professor made a liberal curtsey.
"I'm a materialist," she said. "I'm a scientist. And as a scientist, I must admit that some things that can't be explained scientifically and never will be explained, do exist."
With those words she opened a travelling bag and exerted a roughly made clay mask with gaping openings for mouth, nose and eyes.
"A Tibetan sage, who had advanced far in the knowledge of the supernatural has given me this mask a gift. It represents a copy of his own face. He loaded that mask with spiritual powers, after which she can affect the nearby in certain conditions. Now we'll turn-off the light, I'll set the record of ancient Tibetan spells, and you'll later share your experiences. I must warn the audience that who doesn't trust no dark magic, should leave the audience."
No one leaved the chamber, the light was turned-off, and the professor started the recording. Something like a monotonous rattle of a bass string came from the dynamic. A melody - of Buryats or someone similar - froze blood. Soon some gibberish could be heard. A sepulchral voice solemnly spoke in an unknown tongue of things mysterious. The letters were mostly resonant consonants, and the words were usually monosyllable. A floodlight was aimed at the mask, and it appeared that it spoke by itself, framed by pale flame.
The professor observed. Many people were in prostration, some sneezed a lot, and others shook their heads and made strange gestures. One of the operators dropped his video camera and left, weeping. Occasionally unreasonable laughter burst, the tension grew.
The procedure lasted five minutes. Finally the professor stopped the recording, turned-on the light, and asked the members of the audience to share their opinions.
They varied. Somebody, weeping, admitted that he had felt a powerful emanation of heat, somebody couldn't contain their tears, and some admitted that they saw angelic choirs, while others - dancing demons.
The professor decided to finalize this.
"All this," she said, and her eyes narrowed sternly, "was a game, nonsense, nonsense. I decided to trick you so that you understood personally the absurdity of your world-views. I made the mask myself, I know no sage, and the recording contains only meaningless letter conjunctions. Now you can see..."
An indignant roar overpowered her words. Many, standing now, yelled: "It's dishonourable! How dare you lie to the public!" and so on. It was better than an avalanche of claps to the professor.
"I don't know, I don't know," she replied in a sated voice, putting all in her travelling bag. "The lecture is over. Good luck."
...All of those events, narrating which took some much time (and space) passed in the professor's mind in a fraction of a second. Now she had to haul her guest over coals, and every emotion left her face. She was ready to battle.
The spoon jerked, shaking the egg. The young woman smiled.
"You see, professor... The matter is that you - irrelevant, for what reasons - made a number of actions. Nobody did them before you. It's irrelevant, do you or not believe in the super-natural, you did quite specific, perceptible manipulations: made the mask, turned-off the light, and released certain information. Again, it's irrelevant whether or not it's genuine..."
"I love the well-educated young people of today," the professor noted with satisfaction. "And with what, missy, you disagree?"
"Well you know," the guest smiled, shaking her shoulders, "maybe there is no disagreement... The matter is in something else. Here's an example: a man, who feels the urge to serve a Higher Power, sooner or later will chose for herself that religion, that form of serving the Higher Power, that fits her personality best of all. Maybe it'll be Christ, maybe - Muhammad or Buddha... As an atheist, you do agree with this?"
"Considering that I do deny the existence of the Higher Power of such - of course," the professor nodded, studying her interlocutrix.
"Deny it, it's your choice... "But the forces, the forces that make a person search - they're quite real. They often merely lack the form - the area in which they can settle... For example, I consider myself among the servants of the negative, dark beginning. I, if you like it, a Satanist."
"Happy for you," the professor started to feel uncomfortable. One thing - to shock a neurasthenic to her senses, another thing - to do so to a mad-woman. She instinctively wetted her lips.
"You could've put as many ideas into your creation as you wanted to," the guest continued, getting her inspiration. "But, unknown to you, you have created something, that before you didn't exist... I always respect the traditional Devil-worshipping customs: black masses, kissing the goat's ass, etc. But it just didn't relate to me. The form didn't correspond to my internal Me. And then I saw your mask..." the guest's voice shook. "I beg you, ma'am, give it to me! Back then, I experienced a sense of rare harmony. Having it in my possession, I could've freely and completely give-in to serving the forces of Darkness. My ideal gained its' only possible physical characteristics... Seeing your mask before you, I'll be able to freely, with a full agreement with myself, make our rituals... I plead you, give it to me... do you want me to kneel?"
"Please don't!" the professor exclaimed, rocking in her armchair. With a nod she indicated at the big redwood cupboard with glassy windows, where various "wonders" were kept. Happy that she had escape so easily, the professor would've willingly surrendered the entire cupboard. "It's there, you can take it, and it's yours!" And she indignantly re-started eating her egg.
The young woman got up. Her eyes a-glow, she reached the cupboard, extracted her treasure, and carefully put it on the coffee table.
"There..." she muttered, "no, there... Let her look under this angle... Perfection! It's perfect!"
"It's so like a human," the professor uttered with a philosophical peaceableness. "To sate an empty idea with a material shape, I mean."
"Exactly," the young woman agreed. "It's like the... emperor's new dress." She opened her handbag and began to take out new, shining surgical implements, one after the other. They were so sharp, that their shine alone seemed was no less dangerous to the cornea than a razor.
The egg-yolk dripped from the professor's spoon. Looking into her widening pupils, Andrea Hecuba spoke:
"Ma'am, I beg you, if you're thinking of screaming now or waiting for later - do not wait, do it now. First of all, your house is standing remotely and no one will hear your screams, and secondly - I'll personally will have great satisfaction hearing them."