Short summary:

Daria, her family and friends take-on the mystical approach to Lawndale and her family. Also starring (as a special guest) the much-referred-to and never-shown, grandfather Morgendorffer.

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.

Heat is on


Daria and Jane were sitting in the Lanes’ garage, chased there by Mystik Spiral’s music. Well, one could only very loosely apply to what Mystik Spiral was playing the term “music”, because really it was just noise, worse than a vulture’s mating song, if they had one, that is. Even Daria wasn’t sure on that one. But if the vultures had a mating song, then even that would be better than what Mystik Spiral was playing.

“Even if the vultures had a mating song, then even that is probably better than what Mystik Spiral is playing,” Daria told Jane.

“USA doesn’t have vultures, it has condors,” Jane shrugged.

“How do you know that?”

“Hey! Can't I know American wildlife?” Jane asked indignantly. Daria just looked-on. “Okay, sheesh! Jodie had a nature awareness week before you came to Lawndale.”

“Did it raise your nature awareness, Jane?”

“Well, no. But Penny really likes the flying birds design, so I kind of tricked Jodie into giving me some.”

“You? Tricked Jodie? Suddenly I don’t know you at all, it seems.”
”Relax. I am as I am. Now what are we going to do about our problem?”

“Well, Trent is your brother, so you kill him. I'll handle Jesse and the rest, I suppose.”

“That’s not what I meant. It’s just the heat that makes it all so bad.”

“The heat? Excuse me? Grass is dying on the root, masonry is melting! Tiffany Blum-Decker’s brain is dead!”

“Come on, it can’t be that bad!”

“It is! Even the fashion network has been deactivated due to the heat excess! The streets of Lawndale are as empty as Tiffany Blum-Decker’s skull!”

“Now that’s an exaggeration. Some people are still valiantly struggling in the face of adversary’s heat!”

“Yeah. That’s because they were crazy to begin with,” Daria said sourly.

“Hey! Leave Trent alone! You had a crash on him once, remember?”

“Now that was in your imagination alone, you crazy yenta!”

Both girls stared at each other with real surprise.

“Now that was hard,” Jane said. “You better apologize.”

“I forgive you for bringing-up my crush-over-Trent issue, Jane,” Daria said.

“Aw shucks, you mushball. Seriously though, whom did you put under the “crazy” tab? Share?”

“My dad. Even my mom is working at home, but not my dad. It’s office exclusively for him!”


“It’s got to be something grandpa-related,” Daria said. “God, for somebody who died way before I was born, grandfather Morgendorffer really screwed-up my dad’s head.”

“Unlike you, who have been screwing it since you could talk?” Jane said.

“That’s different! I’m working from below, a position of weakness. Grandfather was working from above, a position of strength. Besides, I at least have a crazy grandfather. What’s the reason behind your family’s dysfunction?”

“That was cold, Daria.”

“I'm sorry, Jane, but I wasn't cold. No one can, not in such climate.”

“True, Daria. It makes our sarcasm degenerate into insults, like we were mere fashion drones, and not the warriours of cynicism.”

“Okay, now what brought that on?” Daria said. “Seriously though, if we’re so smart, why can’t we figure-out a way to keep ourselves cool?”

“Well, us Lanes have an air conditioner right here,” Jane slapped a small cabinet that flapped-open from the worse. A big metal box-like contraption fell out of it.

“That's your air conditioner?” Daria asked with something a little bit like reverence in her voice. “Yikes!”

“So tell me, Miss Brain, why doesn't it work?”

“Oh, so I'm the brain in our pair now, is it so? Then you’re the muscle, and so I suggest you use a screw driver to unlock its secrets.”


“Now what the hell I'm doing here?” Jake wondered. “After all, I was supposed to go to work.” Jake knew at heart that that was an untruth. He just couldn't stand to stay home anymore. Helen has turned into a real…witch, half-time work crazy, half-time just slack, Quinn just stayed in her bed, as exciting as a corpse, while Daria…Daria seemed to have discovered a hide-out of some sorts, appearing home only some time after sunset, which, in early July, came mighty late in the day. Smart Daria, Jake realized it last night, and decided to follow her example. And so he told Helen that he was off to work, ignored her protests, and found the first more-or-less solid-looking watering hole, in order to get drunk.

Jake didn’t think about his behaviour, the heat seemed to have fried his neurons as well as most of other Lawndale’s townsfolk.

As Jake was sitting at the bar and chugging Guinness, somebody sat next to him. He glanced sideways. It was just some female, in her early twenties, whom Jake felt sure he had seen before some place.

“Did I see you before some place?” he asked her.

The young woman shrugged. “Who knows? Are you a fan of Mystik Spiral?”

“Are you?”

“Well, sort of. My name is Monique, I sometimes go out with their leading guitarist, Trent Lane.”

“Lane, Lane… Why does this sound so familiar? Ah, I know! He must be related to Amanda and Vincent Lane.”

“Oh. Cool,” the girl shrugged. “Uh, my name is Monique, and can you buy me a drink? I'm a little bit low on cash, you know.”

“Why not?” Jake agreed.

Outside, invisible to the human eye, tiny little vapours were raising from the ground and the street. Unbeknownst to the humans, but fully known by Mother Nature, the day was going to get much more hotter.


“So what’s the problem with our air conditioner?” Jane asked Daria.

“Well, it is out of its’ place, for one thing. An air conditioner is usually positioned in a house wall, not in a cabinet.”

“So we got to do is?”

“Re-install this air conditioning unit back from wherever it came from and re-fill the supply of air coolant in it.”

“Is it simple?”

“It’s men’s work.”

“Fat chance of that happening. They’re all so busy playing—“


The Lane house rocked from the sudden explosion. “I suddenly feel that it is not so,” Daria said.

“Yo! Guys! Are you okay?” Jane shouted.

“We're okay. The amplifiers are not. They fried.”

“Then come on down! We have figured-out a way to make Casa Lane a cooler spot!”



Back on the Dega street, the locals were dealing with the heat in the best way they knew – getting wasted. Quite a few of them were out, OD on alcohol or similar beverages, plus the heat. Surprisingly, Jake was one of those who seemed to have been relatively untouched by the combo; at least he was still in a vertical position.

And so was Monique. Someway, somehow, she managed to stay sober enough to listen to Jake’s stories, but she was also drunk enough to understand only four words out of five, and laugh on the fifth one. That made Jake’s erratic narrative sound even more disorderly in her ears. But neither she nor Jake understood that; both were in a sufficient stupor so that neither of them fully comprehended, what were they doing.


In Morgendorffers’ house, Quinn Morgendorffer was lying upstairs, almost completely naked. She was dealing with the heat in her own way, which was to keep as much as energy as she could by lying stone-still. She felt at least marginally cooler than her mother, for one thing. For another, she felt like she was getting the feel of yoga.

…It had been truly some time ago when Quinn started to do power yoga. It had been only a fad, in the beginning. But as school ended and the heat mounted, Quinn’s approach to yoga started to become more serious. After all, weren’t the guys who practiced it completely unperturbed by anything? Quinn liked that idea, being unperturbed by anything, so she began to study yoga techniques in earnest. And now she was trying it in a practical way, namely, she was trying to reach the nirvana state, in which nothing will bother her.

Downstairs, Quinn’s mother, Helen Morgendorffer, was dealing with the heat in her own way, namely, by working on her laptop like crazy, in the literal sense. Her fingers flew faster than the eye could see, her brain cells were also functioning faster and faster… and then the laptop just blew-up.


Back upstairs, Quinn, still lying in her trance, scarcely frowned. She was so out of it, that nothing could perturb her by now.


“So let met get this straight,” said Nick. “You want us to stick this huge big box into that hole, then wield it with an acetylene torch, and then go outside to buy some liquid coolant? This is crazy! Who do you think you’re dealing with? Jethro?”

“Who’s Jethro?” Daria asked.

“We went to the school together,” explained Trent, fully awake for once. “He was weird, man.”

“What do you mean?” Daria asked.

“For one thing, he and Ms. Barch couldn’t stand each other,” Nick said. “It all started when she accused him of being a male chauvinist. Jethro bristled and told Ms. Barch that she absolutely wrong, that he believed in equality of the sexes; i.e., if anybody was getting on his nerves, he would take them and beat them up six ways from Sunday, completely unhindered by such facts as the sex of the pest. Since he was about as muscular as a gorilla, nobody of the student body ever found-out otherwise – and lived.”

“Whoa! Ms. Barch didn't take that lying down, did she?”

“Well, she tried a few tricks. But Jethro was too good for her, you know. That, and the fact that he and Ms. Li seemed to have some sort of a weird arrangement going-on between themselves.”

“Which was?”

“Well, Jethro did whatever Ms. Li told him to do – and that’s it. You wanted him to participate, you had to ask Ms. Li to ask him to do so.”

“Jodie wasn't pleased, I suppose.”

“Uh, no. Then there was the nature awareness week. Jethro brought-over his pets – a couple of snakes.”

“What snakes?” Daria asked with a professional interest. In Highland, Texas, snakes were seen much often then here in Lawndale.

“A cottonmouth and a copperhead,” Jane said. “At least, that was what I was told by Mack and Jodie. Rattlesnakes, I presume.”

Daria shook her head. “Not quite. They’re related to rattlesnakes, but have no rattles.”

“How do you know that?”

“I'm a Texas gal at heart, remember? We had plenty of snakes back in my hometown, and plenty of ways of how to treat snake bites, too.”

“Yes, well, this is Lawndale, New England. Poisonous snakes are a rarity here, so we kind of get freaked-out,” Trent said.

“Na-ah, man,” Jesse shook his head. “That was because some dogs and cats started fighting and the gerbils got loose and took-over the school basement while nobody was watching.”

“Really took-over?” Daria asked.

“Aha. Like a solid carpet of gerbils in the end it was. And all of that from only a couple of them! It was amazing!”

“’Course, the whole school had to be fumigated,” Jane added.

“Oh. Dad told me once how his school got to be fumigated,” Daria said.

“Oh why?”

“Because some kid accidentally sealed his lunch in the wall and stayed there for two months until the school re-opened in September. The opening had to be re-postponed till October!”

“That’s harsh, man!” Jane chuckled. “Still, what shall we do about our air conditioner?”

“I have no idea.”


In the bar on the Dega street, Jake and Monique finally took a break from their “conversation”. “So what do you want to do now?” Jake said, looking leeringly at Monique. Beer goggles could turn any harpy into a goddess.

“You're hot,” Monique giggled. Her ordinary habits kicked-in. “Want to make-out?” She was pretty spaced-out of it as well.

“Sure,” said Jake, by now completely clueless to everything.


“So this Jethro guy seems to be pretty cool, overall,” Daria said. “So why didn't you like him?”

“Aw, come on, Daria, could you be friends with a guy who could play “Pop goes the weasel” on a trombone?”

“I can play it to you on a flute, Lane, so better think of another argument.”

“Okay,” nodded Trent. “When Penny was still going to school and I was just getting started, we had another heat wave like today.”

“It’s a regular occurrence, then?”

“Yeah, once in seven years. Anyways, the weather was as hot as today, and guess what Jethro was doing?”

“He wasn't in the house?”

“Yeah. We asked him once, didn't he feel the heat? He said, and I quote: “If my life doesn't change soon, when I die I'll end-up in Hell, so I’m practicing”. End of quote.”

“Did you know that according to Dante parts of Hell are actually cold or at least non-fiery?” Daria said.

“Just wait till you experience the winter that’ll come after this summer,” Max said. “It’s a cycle, of sorts.”

“Wonderful,” Daria shook her head.

“It gets better. When somebody argued that that might not be the case, Jethro agreed, saying, that the way his luck was going, he would be dragged in Hell alive and kicking. You try to be friends with such a guy.”

“Okay; where is he now?” Daria asked.

“Now that we mention it, we have no idea.”


“Ow, my nose; ow – my face!” Helen Morgendorffer groaned. “Ow – the back of my head! What did I do with – tried to break a hole in the wall?” Then she saw the burned-out remains of her laptop. “Ow nuts! My assignment! Now I'll never get to be a partner of the firm!” she groaned. “I hate my life!”

“Peace be with you, Helen,” Quinn replied, finally floating downstairs.

Helen looked at her youngest child. And the more she looked, the more she was sure that something was missing. Of course, her new skull-splintering headache might be involved somehow. “Quinn? What’s the Hell is going on here?” she asked.

“Writhe peace; peace, writhe,” Quinn replied.

“Quinn? Are you on something?”

“All those suspicions and hard-driven worries – they bother you,” replied Quinn, “and deny you truth, that refreshing, cold water with the best flavour in the world!”

Helen groaned. “I don’t have to listen to this, Quinn, you know?”

“You may run, but you can't hide from the truth.”

Something in Helen’s brain went click! “This isn't fair!” Helen almost sobbed. “When Dorothy went out of ‘it’, she ended-up in a wondrous land, full of amusing made-up characters and with a loyal doggy! I, on the other hand, am still here, in a sun-sterilized city that is seemingly devoid of live save for my daughter, who spawns gobbledygook at too young at age!” She paused. “That’s it! I'll go and see what’s Daria is doing at her friend’s! Hopefully, she won't be doing no mythical guru act!” She looked triumphantly at Quinn and went forwards.

“What will you do?

And what will you find?

Will you rule Nock’ma’ar,

Or your will it will bind?” Quinn sang-out instead.

Helen slammed the door, and paused. Was Quinn actually floating a few inches aboveground? Nah, the heat was getting to her.

Wiping her already sweating brow, Helen Morgendorffer went forth.


The sun beat down on the town of Lawndale mercilessly, like a furnace of Hell’s, apparently devoted to cleanse the town streets’ of everything living. And it was doing a good job so far, but not a perfect one, for there were shadows still, as well as some crazed reflections, glints and haze – but nothing human.

However, at one point in Lawndale the glints and the haze did something stranger, if not downright unique – they solidified.


Into a very tall, very muscular man.

With a cold, empty look in his eyes and a mop of scarlet-red hair on his head. He smiled suddenly, a smile that would do honours to both an evil goblin and a heartless crocodile, and uttered two words:

“Helen Morgendorffer.”

Then he was gone, dissolving back into sunlight glinting off the roofs and the haze that was ascending from the steamed pathway, which drifted forth.

And the sun shone forth and down onto the town of Lawndale.


“Tell me again – where did you find that coolant?” Daria asked suspiciously Trent. “I thought you hadn't had any!”

“Me too,” Jane added, looking no less suspicious than Daria.

“Look, you remember that our fridge used to leak?” Trent replied. “Well, mom and Penny were worried that it might pollute the environment, and dad and Summer were worried that it would be wasted. So me and Wind started to collect it into bottles till the fridge got fixed and stuff. So here you have it – left-over coolant.”

“I don’t know,” Jane frowned. “I think it might not be safe…”

“I'm sure that it isn’t,” Daria responded.

“Yeah, well, we're not going outside – no way no how!” spoke Nick. “The air conditioning in the Tank is broken down.”

“I thought the Tank was indestructible?” Daria said wryly.

“Oh it is, it is. The air conditioning is just out of tune, that is all.”

“But didn’t you say…”

“The heat’s affected his brain,” Max spoke. “The Tank is indestructible, but Nick’s head isn’t. Besides, neither Tank nor Nick are heat-proof.”

Daria sighed. “I give-up. Jane – you got the acetylene torch in proper order, I hope?”

“Let me go and prop it all up,” Jane said happily.

“I think I'll go and help,” Daria said.

“Aren't you going to supervise the guys’ work?”

“They must just put the box A – that’s the air conditioning unit into the hole B – where it was supposed to be. It's using the torch that’s going to be tricky, you see?”

“Good thinking, Daria,” Trent replied, putting the bottle down next to the ‘hole B’. “Come guys – in an orderly, friendly fashion – lift-up and insert!”

The quartet went forth to work.


Quinn was in the Morgendorffer kitchen, looking into the fridge. “Now where is this orange drink, I’m sure I still had it…”

“It’s right over here, Quinn.”

“Oh thanks… Hey! Who're you!”

That was a good question. A tall woman in a jet-black business suit was leaning over Morgendorffers’ kitchen table. Contrasting, her skin was ivory-white – but not elephant-type of ivory, Quinn decided, more like that ivory nut kind – whereas her eyes were also black. And liquid. Like two bottomless pools. Or puddles. Finally, the woman had a shiny black hair with silver-white highlights.

In short, the woman was very, very good-looking, almost inhumanly so. “So?” Quinn repeated. “Who're you?”

“Why do you ask?”

“You look so weird!”

“So speaks the girl who floats.”

“Wha-? Hey, I’m floating! This means, I am dreaming! That means, that I can just pinch myself and wake-up!”

“Are you sure that you’re dreaming?” the woman demanded.

“Well- Yeah- I mean, I couldn’t have reached that nirvana place, could I?”

The woman smirked slightly. “Oh God! I did, didn’t I? Then what are you doing here? Who are you?”

“My name’s Clarisse. I'm an angel.”

“And what’s an angel doing in the Morgendorffers’ family kitchen?”

“Talking to you.”

It was then Quinn felt as Helen felt when she talked to Quinn. “You better start at the beginning,” she told Clarisse.

“Certainly. You see, a very nasty warlock has cast a spell upon your town.”

“What’s the spell does?”

“Knocks the whole city unconscious, makes their subconscious leak into the world. Basically, your whole town is in the process of getting into the nirvana.”

“Then why you’re talking to me? You’ve got the whole town to chose.”

“Eh… no. You see, I can contact only those who entered this state on their own, without the spell’s help.”

“I guess that means me,” Quinn said wryly. “Still, why are you here?”

“I’m not sure, but our sources say that that warlock is after your mom.”

Quinn choked and spat-out orange drink. “Start at beginning,” she said. “And I mean it.”


Helen was walking through the streets of Lawndale. But something was wrong. Helen was scared.

The streets were sunlit and lifeless, as if the hot and cruel sun had burned-out everything it fell-upon. The houses loomed around her, covering on half of the street in shadow, leaving the other side openly sun-lit.

But there was no escape from the heat. Nowhere would Helen go the heat would light-up. It pursued her.

“Don't be ridiculous!” Helen told herself. “This is just nerves, imagination… and Quinn. Nothing more.”

But there was something else, unfortunately. Helen felt it. The haze sent miasmas of dust – tiny dust devils – that whispered, hissed into Helen’s ears. And the houses glared at Helen via their windows like through the thousands of blind, empty eyes. And the haze and the dust whispered and whispered into Helen’s ears:

“There is no escape. He is coming.”


“Yo! Janey, Daria! The box is in the hole! It’s instilled!”

Installed, Trent,” Daria grumbled. “And I'm not sure that the torch was such a good idea.”

“Don't worry, amiga!” Jane grinned, positioning herself next to the unit which was now in the wall. “Let’s wield-tight this sucka!”

“Jane! Wai-“



“Whoa! Guys! Where are we?” Max excitedly spoke a few moments later.

“I daresay that we’re neither in Heaven nor Hell nor in the mortal world,” Daria said slowly.

Everybody stared at her. “What makes you say that?” Jane said in a small voice.

“What’s the last thing you remember, Jane?”

“An explosion. Oh boy. But that doesn't mean anything.”

“Yeah? Well, we’re somewhere where it is nothing – proof enough?”

“What do you mean – it is nothing? Surely there is something…” Jane’s voice trailed off, as she and the guys took a look of their surroundings.

“Oh God!” Max whispered. “I can’t make neither heads nor tails in this place! It's all fog!”

“But we’re standing on something – aren't we?” Jane said desperately.

“That doesn't mean anything,” Daria said. The others turned to look around and almost fell on their butts. “Daria! You and Jesse are standing on the ceiling!”

“So can you – it’s easy,” Jesse shrugged. He turned to Daria. “So do you think we can find musical instruments in here?”


Helen was lost. That was impossible, for hey! – this was Lawndale, for crying outloud! – but she was lost. And she was sweltering. “Oh, for a swim in a cold river! Oh, for a good long rain shower!” Helen exhaled, sitting down on a bench.

He is coming, the serpentine whispers rattled her ears once again.

Helen nervously looked around. Just who was coming?


The sweltering breezes were weaving the haze at the far end of the street into a solid shape. Into a black-solid shape. And it was approaching. And it was freaking Helen out.

“Where will you go?

What will you find?

Will you rule Nock’ma’ar,

Or your will it will bind?” Quinn’s words suddenly sounded in Helen’s ears.

Helen grit her teeth, then quickly got up and walked. Walked to find some help. After all, if she was in the bizarre-land, didn't it mean that she didn't had to play by the rules no more?


“Daria! What have you done? You're supposed to be the smart one!” Quinn’s wail really carried through the limbo (which it probably was).

“Quinn? What are you doing here? This is a private quarter!” Daria snapped.

“Actually, I'm here to get you out,” Quinn replied.

“You? How? And what are you doing here?” Daria persisted with the questions.

“That’s a good question, Daria, and I’m here to provide the answers,” a new voice spoke.

Everybody but Quinn stared at the newcomer, the guys almost drooling. “And who are you?” Daria asked crossly.

“She’s Clarisse. An angel.”

“An angel, hah? Can we see your wings and halo?”

“You could, but then my whole cover would be blown.”

“And why are you undercover?”

“’Cause there’s a warlock in town, and he’s out to get mom,” Quinn explained.

“M-hm. And all of a sudden Clarisse holds the answer to everything.”

“Well, I do hold the answer to getting you out of here,” Clarisse said evenly.

“Good point,” Daria said. “Let’s go guys – we’ve got to save our mom and return to the living!”

Clarisse sighed. “That's not so simple as you think.”


“What do you mean we can't be brought back to life by you?” Jane shrieked.

“That’s what I mean!” Clarisse looked defensive at the dead girl spirit. “Not without permission! If I just snap my fingers and you become alive, I'm in so much sh*t!”

“But won’t it help us save our mom?”

“As a matter of fact – no. The whole drama is being played-out in nirvana – the spiritual realm, were no physical body can enter.”

“Okay. But after we save Mrs. Morgendorffer, you will give our bodies back?” Daria persisted.

Clarisse nodded. “No problem. Of course.”


Helen was once again wondering through the streets. Once again, heat and haze assaulted her. But now something else was different – the gaze. Somebody mysterious searched for her, saw her, watched her – and remained unseen.

And then there was Quinn’s dopey jingle. “What’s Nock’ma’ar anyways?” Helen asked outloud. “It’s a stone, or a fountain, or a-“

“This is Nock’ma’ar,” a voice spoke into her ear.

Helen paused, and wondered about her turning around and seeing who it was. Then she thought some more – was it such a good idea? “And this ‘this’ is what?” she asked instead.

“Not Lawndale.”

Helen felt as if she was talking to her older daughter, Daria. Her firstborn daughter was so smart, that what to others was confusing, was obvious to her. And she used her power of sarcasm to demonstrate that.

So, Helen told herself, this looks like a conversation with Daria. Well then, think what would Daria mean by those two phrases.

Helen thought about it a bit, then suddenly a realization struck. “I'm not in Lawndale anymore, not exactly!” she exclaimed. “Nock’ma’ar is this place, wherever this is!”

Suddenly the whispering breezes hissed with a special malice, and Helen saw a shadow fall over the street and her. This was enough for her – she fled.

The shadow leisurely pursued her.


“So how can we find Mrs. Morgendorffer?” Jane proceeded to ask Quinn. “What is she doing right now? Running around the nirvana Lawndale like a sick chick or what?”

“Using her instincts, Quinn had slipped her a clue,” Clarisse admitted.

“Why don’t I remember it?” Quinn frowned.

“Your subconscious took-over,” Clarisse exclaimed. “Ask it – and the answer will come.”

Quinn concentrated. “Ask it, and the answer will come…” she concentrated and realization hit. “Of course! The city hall’s place!” she zoomed-off, still levitating.”

“I better go and catch her,” Daria said in her usual tone of voice. “Max, Nick – come with me. Jane – you and others try alternate routes to cover more ground, hmm?”

“Yes ma’am!” Jane said primly. “Trent, Jesse – you’re with me!”

Six teenage ghosts zoomed-off; when Clarisse has vanished, no one noticed.


“So where am I going?” Helen wondered. “I obviously need to find something important – or otherwise I’m in trouble. The whole mood thing – not promising a good thing to me, no. So…

‘Will you rule Nock’ma’ar,

Or your will it will bind?’

I think the jingle was. And in order to rule something – say, a town – you need – a city hall! That’s where I'm going!”

Helen zoomed off.


The shadow went leisurely through Lawndale. Or Nock’ma’ar. Or wherever. It knew what it wanted, and it knew how to get it. Suddenly it paused. Interference. Somebody was interfering with it, of all the colossal gall! Well, it would soon remedy it.

The shadow twitched. Two thin splinters popped out of its’ right side and went careening off into the empty streets…


“So Daria – where are we going?” Nick asked.

“I have no idea,” Daria replied. “But still…”

“Hey, look at the sun!” Max suddenly said. “It’s gone! And it’s cold now!”

Daria paused. The direct sunlight was vanishing, and so the unnatural heat it brought with it. Now new thing was coming – just-as unnatural gloominess, and – despair? “Where did that come from?” Daria wondered.

“WHOOSH!” Something cold brushed past Daria’s face. On both sides.

“Uh-oh,” Daria said, as she turned around. Her reward was only the sight of Nick and Max, turning into something else again.


“Well, here we are, boys!” Jane said proudly.

“And here is where?” Trent replied.

Here is the main street of Lawndale!”

“Lawndale has a main street?”

“This one does!”

“Yo guys – what’s this?” Jesse interrupted the argument between the Lane siblings, pointing at one direction.

Jane and Trent looked there. “Jesse,” Jane said slowly. “You mean who’s this?”

This ‘who’ was a tall man, dressed in clothes so dark that they appeared purplish. And on top of his head with a mop of red hair.

The man gave a wry smile. “Who're you and what’re you doing here?”

“We can ask you the same thing, man,” Trent argued.

“Ah, but I'm older, boys and girl.”

“And we don't like your attitude, mister,” Jane snapped back.

The man stepped menacingly towards them.

“Hey, wait a minute, you’re walking!” Trent exclaimed. “You're not dead or in a trance, aren’t you? Then why are you here?”

“I see you know some things already,” the man snarled. A missile made of seemingly black fire appeared in his right hand. “Then take a load of this!”

He fired his missile. The teens scattered.

BOOM! The missile exploded, creating a deep diagonal rift. And unfortunately, the Lane siblings were on the wrong side of it, with Jesse on the other side, looking confused. “Jesse, run!” Jane yelled. “You got to warn the others!”

Jesse zoomed away as fast as he could.

The man turned to the Lanes, who slowly began to move away from him. “Too late,” the man sneered. He jumped upwards – and suddenly was not a man any longer, but a great and winged dragon.

A dragon with seven toothy heads.


Daria watched with her usual bland face as Max and Nick twitched like two puppets on semi-severed strings. It would be even fun to watch, if they weren't changing into something grotesque – like trolls, or maybe goblins, or maybe ghouls. “That’s it! Ghouls!” Daria exclaimed. “No vampires because it’s day, and simple zombies – not my way. Yup, it’s got to be ghouls!”

Two angry faces looked at Daria, their mouths full of razor-sharp teeth and their eyes – nothing more than black beads full of hate. The pair swung their now-taloned limbs in perfect synchronization, and Daria frowned. “No you won’t!” she yelled, as she dodged under the swipe, and punched the pair straight in the throats. “Us Morgendorffers don't go down that easily!”


Helen run. There was no sun now, but it was not dark. Rather, she felt as is she was entering the land of perpetual gloom or something. “What the Hell is going on?” she asked the empty air.

“Oh, you mortals always asking, when things aren’t alright;

When it’s early in the morning, you care nothing of night;

But the night is forever there, so you mortals should better beware!

You can’t run and you can’t flee – it’s time you remembered that nought it for free!

So come on, company – everybody touch each other and fight, not flee!”

Helen turned around. “Quinn? You again? How did you get here so fast? Are you playing the role of Glinda here?”

“Mom, you're in trouble,” Quinn groaned. “Somebody is out to get you, and you must be saved, or we all are doomed!”

“How do you know that?” Helen groaned. “And furthermore, while I appreciate you not going all mystical on me, your usual attitude is not anymore helpful, you know?”

“I can’t help you mom, you’ve got to help us!”

“Pressure. Oh goody. I hate my life!”

“Mom, if you don’t succeed you won't have any life! None of us will!” Quinn wailed.

Helen paled. “Oh boy. Let’s go.”

Then the ground shook, like something big and heavy was walking on it. “You said it, mom,” Quinn replied, as the duo took-off.


Jesse was running as fast as he could, with the monster’s footsteps… not behind him. “Where’d he go?” Jesse paused, looking around warily. “’Course, he can fly and all now, but still, still… I don't like it.” Suddenly he brightened. “Hey, I think I'm getting the beginnings of a song!”

Cheered-up somewhat, Jesse ran-on.


Daria looked at Nick and Max. Truth to tell, they weren’t so formidable – at all. After all, they were Nick and Max. “Anyone using them as minions must be pretty sloppy or uncaring,” Daria told herself. “Or – very, very self-confident.”

“Another one of you kids?” a voice spoke-up behind her.

Daria turned around. The stranger was there, and he was looking at her. Daria looked back. The sudden silence stretched. And then Daria spoke. “Do you know – Quinn’s got your hair?”

There was a pause.

“Really? Who are you and who is Quinn?”

“Your last name isn't Morgendorffer by any chance?”

The man looked bland. “So it is. Mathew Morgendorffer it is.”

“I'm Daria Morgendorffer. And I daresay we’re related through Jake.”

“Ah yes. Jake.” The man smiled. “Well I guessed as much. The two of us – we do look similarly. Well then – hello, granddaughter.”

There was a briefer pause. “This is all fine and dandy,” Daria spoke again, “but how did you put the whammy onto the whole town? Are you a wizard or something?”

The older Morgendorffer beamed. “Nay, girl – I'm the seven-headed dragon of Apocalypse!”

“And you achieved this enchanting career how?”

“It was one Christmas Eve. I was visited by an angel-“

“Called Clarisse? That’s the one who got us onto this truck.”

Mathew’s eyes developed a nasty glint. “Still tries to undo her own work? I'll gnaw on her bones yet, you mark my words!”

“You know grandpa Mathew?” Daria said, a trifle warily. “I can see where dad gets his temper and rants. ‘Cause, his rants are about you mostly.”

“Why am I not surprised?” Mathew sighed. “Jake always hated me. Just because I didn't approve of his actions.”

“Please!” Daria hurriedly said. “I'll let you two work it out somehow – I’m not a family therapist, you know?”

“Well, why not? They’re paid a lot of bucks, as I know.”

“Money can't buy you happiness.”

“What can, then?”

“Doing what is right for you? Like, writing fiction.”

“Ah, but a therapist who writes fiction, makes more money and is probably happier than a writer who doesn’t practice therapy.”

“That’s convoluted logic,” Daria shook herself. “No, it’s common self. But hey – I'm a teen! I'm not supposed to have it!”

“Yeah, a common teen who’s talking to the dragon of apocalypse,” Mathew said wryly.

“Exactly. No common sense. But enough about me – what about you? Why do you want mom so much?”

“It’s a bet I've made,” Mathew shrugged. “See, there’s this girl, and I really wanted to impress her, and so I've let her talk me into this bet, which is based around your mom.”

“Whoa! Way too much information!” Daria quickly said. “Grandpa Mathew, you're a grandpa! You're not supposed to make bets to impress girls!”

“Daria, us Morgendorffer men are suckers for younger women. Take your own dad for instance – you do not want to know what he’s doing right now!”

“Good thinking, grandpa Mathew,” Daria nodded both wisely and comfortingly. “I do not need this type of information. Now stop chasing mom so that Clarisse could bring me and my friends back to life – we kind-of died, you know?”

“You did what?” Mathew said.


“And Clarisse said what?”

“We save mom, she brings us back to life.”

“I see,” Mathew snarled. “Somebody is cheating. And I will have somebody’s bones soon!” In a flash of flame he was gone, and a huge, seven-headed dragon was standing there. The dragon flapped his wings and flew-off.

“Oh no you won’t!” Daria yelled and zoomed-off, chasing her grandfather. She didn't notice the ghouls Nick and Max regaining conscience and looking around.


“Trent, we’re lost,” Jane complained. “First that bloody dragon pursues us like a hawk hunts hares, and then we get lost!”

“Well, Janey, we’ve lost the dragon too.”

“No, Trent. It got bored and left.”

“It’s funny, Janey. I thought we were dealing with a warlock.”

“So it’s a warlock that can turn into a dragon. Big deal.”

“No-no Janey – remember Summer’s book of Bible?”

“There’s a grammatical error in that sentence somewhere, Trent, but I'll let it slide. So what about Summer and her bible?”

“It had pictures.”

“Well, duh! Otherwise, you wouldn’t be looking through it!”

“No-no. There was this one picture – it was Armageddon. Or Apocalypse. Or whatever. I daresay it uh, it uh, showed a seven-headed dragon. I think he’s supposed to be leading the forces of Hell or other such key role.”

Jane rolled her eyes. “Trent, this isn’t very funny.”

“Janey, it’s not funny at all.”

“Trent – you're serious?”

“But of course.”

“Then we're in trouble.”

“Uh, Janey – we’re already in trouble.”

“What do you mean?” Jane paused, and looked in Trent’s direction. There, with light gleaming off their beady black eyes, stood two ghouls, looking like two demented rodents. “You know something, Trent?” Jane said calmly.

“What, Janey?”

“Let’s run!”


Jesse was walking along, humming the lines of his new song. It wasn’t a long one, but Jesse didn't mind. He didn't like long songs; he liked them short and sweet. “Yeah. Short and sweet. I like the sound of that!”

Suddenly there was a sound of running and seconds later Jane and Trent zoomed past Jesse. “What are happening, guys?” Jesse placidly asked.

“Two ghouls! They are after us!” Jane wheezed.

“Oh?” Jesse turned around. Sure enough, there were two ghouls, running after Jane and Trent.

Jesse’s fists shot out, smashing the ghouls into their faces, knocking them off their feet. But these were ghouls, they were already dead, so they got up again.

But then, Jesse wasn't alive, either. So he hit them just as hard as before.

And the ghouls got up again, and got knocked down once again.

And then it just turned routine.

After a while Jane and Trent turned to each other, finally remembering, that they, as well as Jesse, were also dead, and that Jesse and the ghouls could literally go on forever. “Jesse, grab them and hold them instead,” Jane ordered.

Jesse complied. “Now what, Janey?” Trent asked.

Jane thought. “Hmmm…”

Then the dragon buzzed over their heads. “Follow that beast!” yelled Jane, and they ran-on, with Jesse still holding the ghouls.

Everybody knows that the undead can’t get tired.


“Well Quinn, I think this is the city hall!” Helen said cheerfully. “And no big bad shadow-person in sight – hey!”

That “hey” came from Trent, Jane, Jesse, and the two ghouls as they barrelled into Helen and Quinn, knocking them all in a heap. The septilateret went down in a heap, and fourteen pairs of eyes saw stars. Then nothing else.


Mathew Morgendorffer landed with a flatter of his leathery wings and regained his human shape in a heartbeat. Then he loudly yelled: “Azra! Get your shapely ass right here right now!”

“You called?” the shapely angel Clarisse made an appearance.

“You!” Daria exclaimed, not waiting to catch her breath (another benefit of being an undead spirit). “I knew there was something fishy about you. Who are you?”

“Meet the archangel Azrail,” Mathew Morgendorffer said primly.

“The Reaper?!” even Daria gawked.

“Yeah. Why’s the face, kid?”

“Mmm… Where’s your scythe?”

“I save it for special occasions. Special business occasions.”

“So killing my granddaughter and her friends isn’t one?”

“Your granddaughter?” Azrail took a double-take of a look. “Oh my. I do see the family resemblance. You know – Daria, if you’re not careful, you might end-up like your grandfather Mathew…”

“Yeah – a seven-headed dragon of Apocalypse that makes bets with Death,” Daria said wryly. “I doubt that. I think this is pretty much a one-person thing.”

“How’d you deduced that?”

“I found St. John’s on the internet,” Daria shrugged. “Now how about bringing me and my buds back to life.”

“Not until your grandfather admits that I was right!”

“Not on your life!” Mathew roared.

“Grandpa, she’s Death. Does she have a life?”

Mathew snorted. “Good one kid.”

Azrail glowered. “Oh yeah. She’s your granddaughter alright. But seriously though. Admit that I was right or your granddaughter's caput!”

Mathew’s eyes began to glow. Azrail gulped and her already nut-ivory-white skin began to become even paler. “Mathew. Oh no!”

“Grandpa! Don't do something that you will regret later!” Daria spoke-up sharply. “Obviously the lady here feels something bad for you, otherwise she wouldn't be so stubborn about this point.”

“Keep out of this, Daria!” Mathew Morgendorffer barked.

“Or what? You’ll blast me? I'm already dead, hel-lo! You blast her, and I’m stuck in this fashion along with the others! And I'm not happy with what you’ve done to Max and Nick there either.”

Mathew stared at his granddaughter. Daria defiantly stared back. Then Mathew cracked a suspiciously Mona Lisa smile. He then turned back to Azrail. “Very well. Sorry Azra… you were right. Happy now?”

“Now you know,” Azrail began, “there are ways of saying things-“

“Don't push it!” both Morgendorffers said at the same time.

“Right,” Azrail quickly nodded. “Okay. Mathew, since both of us… did stuff, we’ve got to synch. Ready?”


The pair snapped their fingers together…


Helen opened her eyes. “What a positively bloody headache! What did I do – hit my head on the wall?” She looked around. “Oh no – my laptop!”

It was then Quinn came. “Mo-om, you broke my concentration!”

“Quinn – that yoga stuff – it’s a bunch of crock!”

“Mo-om,” Quinn opened her mouth and closed. “What did you do to your laptop?”

“Don't ask,” Helen’s voice was low and dangerous, and Quinn – who wasn't so stupid at all – caught it.

“Righty then. Want some orange drink? Got it in the fridge.”

“Why not,” Helen shrugged.

It was then Jake Morgendorffer rushed-in, dishevelled and wild in the eyes. “Excuse me Helen; got to go; lousy, no-good beer…”

Helen and Quinn looked at each other. “What’s that all about?” Quinn asked.

Helen frowned. “I don’t know, but let’s find out…”


“Uh, what a crazy dream I had,” Max groaned.

“Hey, look – we’ve fixed the air conditioner!” perked-up Nick.

“Uh, Janey, Daria – was it just a dream or what?” Trent asked.

“Trent,” Daria sighed tiredly. “Do you really want to think that we’ve been in some place called – what was is it called?”

“Nock’ma’ar,” Jane said. “And Trent – I like to think that it was all a big dream – the whole seven-headed dragon and ghouls bit, you know?”

“Want to listen to my song?” Jesse spoke-up.

“Why not?” the others said, firmly putting their dream-adventure behind them.


Jesse’s song


How you loved each other – only a memory remains;

You still are winged – but it means nothing more but pains;

What would you be feeling – if you all knew things beforehand?

So now comes the dragon – to bring to you all timely e-end!


The dragon grows deep; insatiable’s his hunger;

All you want to escape, but there’s no way;

Forget that that dog barks, forget that hisses gander;

You bought- for what you bought, for that you now pay.


You loved each other – and good luck seemed to have no end.

Mayhaps you forgot how – upon the others you depend?

Clouds have fallen – and angels weep straight from the sky;

There’s no exit, no exit, ‘cause you must die.


The dragon grows deep; insatiable’s his hunger;

All you want to escape, but there’s no way;

Forget that that dog barks, forget that hisses gander;

You bought- for what you bought, for that you now pay.


How you loved each other – only a memory remains;

The dragon howls – and he brings pai-ins;

And here it came – came the hour of doom;

And game’s truly over – the flowers cannot bloom.


The dragon grows deep; insatiable’s his hunger;

All you want to escape, but there’s no way;

Forget that that dog barks, forget that hisses gander;

You bought- for what you bought, for that you now pay.


The End of Story