Summary: After graduating from their
respective colleges, Daria and Jane's lives take an unusual turn due to
Daria's new job
MOON OVER DAYTONA
You can't overlook
the lack, Jack, of any other highway to ride
It's got no signs or dividing lines, and very few rules to guide
"New Speedway Boogie" by The Grateful Dead
The winter had not been kind to Boston. Over two feet of snow had
fallen since the new year, blanketing the city in a shroud of white. It
was now late February, and the temperature had continued to hover in
the lower regions of discomfort for most of the denizens. On this
particular day, a slow, steady snowfall had begun early and stubbornly
refused to abate, driving the natives indoors. Only the snowplows and
the foolhardy dared venture outdoors.
On a small, freshly plowed side street, a blue Chevy nova headed
westward at a speed that definitely surpassed "safe".The sound of its
engine echoed off the snow-covered homes like some crazed and flatulent
elephant, drawing more than a few curious looks from the inhabitants.
It approached a parking lot entrance on the south side of the street,
slowed slightly at a sign that said "Raft University", made a hard left
turn, entered the lot, and spun out of control until it skidded
sideways to a stop at a sidewalk. If someone had been standing
right where it stopped, they could have heard a high-pitched "YES!" followed by a lower-toned "OW!" emanating from the interior
of the vehicle.
Both doors opened simultaneously, and Jane and Trent Lane exited at a
leisurely pace. Each was dressed in their usual casual attire, plus
coats and hats. Trent's brow was creased and he blanched slightly as he
straightened his grey trench coat.
"Jeez, Janey, if you wanted me to wake up you could have just said
Jane snorted. "I've been waiting twenty-three years for you to wake up,
Trent. Think it might happen sometime soon?"
"What do you mean, 'Hmmm'?"
"I didn't say anything."
"Yes you did."
"No I didn't."
The siblings traded grins at the familiar exchange. Jane buttoned her
black cloth coat against the cold, locked and closed the door, and
stood on the sidewalk with her brother.
"Which building is it?" asked Trent.
Jane squinted. "The one farthest from the parking lot, naturally.
C'mon, zombie boy."
The two braced themselves against the cold and began the arduous
journey across the tundra. As they walked, Jane's mood echoed the
ghostly grey light that surrounded them while the snow continued to
fall. She worried for her brother, wondering how he managed to feed
himself. Success had eluded her, but it had seen Trent coming a mile
away and had scampered away from him like a frightened rabbit. Mystik
Spiral had not progressed much beyond their gigs in Lawndale, let alone
made a splash in Boston. Trent had tried, though, and was still trying
to get at least an audition for the band somewhere in the area. He
Jane wasn't so sure she still did.
Most of her professors at BFAC had seemed to like her work, but a few
had stubbornly refused to accept the irreverence and humor she
diplayed. Serious artists made statements, they told her, not jokes.
She had graduated in the middle of her class, continuing in her
personal straight C traddition.
The professors who had liked her art had made some introductions for
her, and the few gallery owners who hadn't tried to sleep with her had
displayed some of her works. A few had actually sold, but sporadically,
giving her barely enough money to rent her studio apartment.
Fortunately, Daria fed her friend a steady diet of pizza and take-out.
Jane begrudgingly accepted the charity; hell, she had to eat.
Trent seemed to pick up on her vibe. "You okay, Janey?"
"Mm-hmm." Jane shook off her dark mood as best she could. Today, things
might just turn around. "How's the Spiral?" she asked, steering Trent
away from her negative emotions towords his one true passion.
"Still trying to write some new songs. The rest of the band's on one of
"Sabbaticals?" Jane interjected. That one was pretty Quinnish, even for
"Is it Sunday already? Man, how long was I asleep?"
"Never mind. You were right the first time. How's Jess?"
"Hurt his hand."
"A-minor seventh again?"
"B-Flat. That's why we're on...sabbatical." Jane saw her brother grin
slightly. He'd been putting her on again, just to cheer her up. She
smirked in return. He always knew just how to lighten her mood.
They trudged along for a few more steps, only halfway to their
destination. The snowflakes, getting bigger now, continued to
lightly kiss the two on their way.
"Sooooo.." Jane said, "seeing anybody?"
"Miss you, though."
"Miss you, too, bro. But," she shrugged, "life goes on."
"Yeah. And on, and on, and on....."
Jane laughed. "Maybe you should get a puppy."
Trent tilted his head at his sister, a smile playing on his lips.
"Idiot." he said.
"Right back atcha." Jane retorted, smiling as well. Trent would always
hold a special place in her heart.
The two of them finally reached a large, brick building and headed for
the glass double doors. Stenciled on the doors were the words HARD
SCIENCES. Trent studied them for a moment.
"Hard sciences," he said, "Huh. Is there an easy kind?"
"Yeah, but you know Daria. Nothing easy for her. C'mon, I'm
freezing out here." She opened the door, and a most welcome warmth
Jane unbuttoned her coat, removed her knit cap, and reached into her
right pocket, pulling out a scribbled note. "Daria said to go down the
hall into the stairwell, down the stairs, turn right, second door on
The siblings walked forward, their boots echoing rhythmically in the
seemingly deserted building. Trent chanted along with the sounds.
"Down, right, second left. Down, right, second left...."
Jane waved the note at him. "I've got it written down, you know."
"Yeah, but this hall has a nice reverb to it. Inspiring. Down, right,
second left, the weight of the world is what I
heft...nah...hmm...what rhymes with left?"
"Absolutely nothing. Knock it off, willya?"
"But the reverb..."
"Trent..." Jane warned.
"Sorry Janey." Trent decided a change of subject was in order. "So what
kind of job does she have for you?"
"Don't know. She's got some kind of research grant from the government,
experimental sciences and stuff."
Trent looked uneasy. "Government work? Eww.."
"She's the head of her own department here. Probably wants me to do
sketches of her with her feet on a desk."
They descended the stairs, turned right, and walked to the second door.
Jane frowned at the words on it.
"Custodial storage # 42?" she said. "Huh?"
"Daria's the janitor? Bummer..." said Trent.
Jane reached out and grasped the door handle, but it wouldn't turn.
Above them, a mounted security camera whirred to life, rotating to
focus on them. There was a sudden, brief buzz, and the door unlatched
and opened with a click.
"Did you do that?" asked Trent.
"Nope." said Jane.
The two exchanged an uneasy glance. This was weird. Jane shrugged and
gestured to the door. "After you." she said.
"You first." said Trent.
"Age before beauty." countered Jane.
Trent stepped forward and pushed the door.
"Pearls before swine." he smirked at her. Jane smacked him
lightly on the back of his head.
Trent walked throught the doorway, and Jane followed. Instead of a
storage closet, they found themselves in yet another long corridor,
barely wide enough for the two of them to walk side-by-side. At the end
of it, they could see a uniformed man sitting at a desk. Behind him was
an elevator, with the doors shut.
Another look passed between them, and they moved forward towards the
man at his desk. He glanced up from the book he was reading (a Melody
Powers novel, Jane noted) as the pair came to a halt in front of him.
"Names?" he said in a gruff voice.
"Jane and Trent Lane." said Jane, noting that his name tag identified
him as Fred Krupke, Security Officer.
Krupke picked up a clipboard and went down the names listed. Trent
shuffled somewhat uncomfortably as Jane leaned forward slightly and
noticed several buttons and a security monitor built into his desktop.
She saw a televised view from above of the hallway outside the
"custodial storage" closet where they had entered. So that's why the door opened for us ,she
thought, he saw us standing there.
But why the security? Keep out the bad scientists? What has Daria
gotten us into?
"Hmm..." Krupke intoned, glancing back at the two. "You two married?"
"Nah," said Jane, "he brings too many electrical instruments to bed
Trent coughed. Krupke's look hardened. "You two don't dress like
science majors." he observed.
"Gee, officer Krupke, nobody told us there was a dress code. We left
our white coats back at the mental hospital." Jane declared. "Look,
Professor Morgendorffer asked us to come here. You gonna let us in, or
what?" She stepped back, placed her hands on her hips, and took an
Krupke remained stoic for a moment, then a small crack appeared in his
tough guy demeanor; a slight smile crossed his features. "Yeah, you're
Morgendorffer's kind of people, all right. You're both on the approved
list." He gestured to the elvator doors behind him. "Press level 4 on
the control panel."
Jane smiled when his face softened. "Thanks! We'll put in a good
word with the boss lady for ya. C'mon, Silent Bob." She grabbed her
brother's arm and pulled him towards the elevator. Krupke pressed a
button on his desktop and the doors opened. Jane and Trent got in, and
as the doors were closing, Krupke heard Trent say, "Who?"
"Never mind, bro."
"What's goin' on here, Janey?"
"You got me. All I know is Daria's been working here on some sort of
project. She won't talk about it, not even for pizza; and yesterday,
she called me up and told me she might have some work for me. Pretty
decent money, too. I asked her what kind of work it was, but all she
said was that I'd see when I got here. I reminded her that you were
visiting, and she said to bring you along. I said okay, wrote down the
directions, end of conversation." Jane pushed the 4 on the control
panel, and they both felt the elevator begin to descend.
"We are now entering hell..." Jane said softly to herself.
In a moment, the motion of the elevator ceased, and the doors opened
upon a technological paradise.
Jane and Trent were taken aback by the sight before their eyes. A large
room had been lined on all sides with dark wooden cabinets, and those
were filled with an array of electronic devices of unusual complexity,
with various wires and connections linking them to one another. Jane
noticed most of the wall to her right was taken up with a rectangular
green chalkboard, covered in inexplicable calulations. On the left wall
were two doors, between the cabinets. On the far wall a third doorway
was visible, larger than the other two. An imposing wooden console sat
in the center of the room; two computer monitors with keyboards were on
either side, with a board full of multicolored switches and buttons
In front of the console stood a massive box, with clear glass on three
sides.Two thick cables ran from either side of the console to the base
of the box, which, like the cabinets, had been stained a very dark
color. In the center of the box, visible through the glass, were two
"Whoa!" a startled Trent declared.
At the sound of his voice, a head popped up from behind the console.
Auburn hair, a pair of thick, round glasses, and a nose were all Jane
could see, but she recognized Daria immediately.
"Amiga!" Jane cried. Daria stood up and approached her friends. Jane
saw that she was wearing a white lab coat over a dark green sweater and
grey slacks, but her choice in footgear remained constant, utilitatrian
"Jane." Daria answered in her usual monotone.
"Hey Daria." Trent said. A corner of his mouth curled up in the
patented Lane smirk.
"Hey Trent. Long time, no see." Daria's mouth curled upward slightly at
the edges, which was, for her, a broad grin. Jane knew her friend's
face well enough to detect a very minor twinge of rose appear on
I'll be damned. After all this
time...still got a little torch in there, eh Daria? I'll be damned,
"Aw, you saw me at Christmastime, Daria." Trent said.
"Umm, that was two years ago, Trent." Daria pointed out, her grin
fading a bit.
Way to go, slick, thought
Jane, steeeerike one.
"Heh," said Trent. "Time really gets away from you, you know?"
"Further from some than others, it would seem." Daria mumbled, turning
"What?" asked Trent.
"Nothing. So," Daria said, " I see you managed to find the place."
"Brilliant deduction, Sherlock." Jane replied.
"Elementary, my dear Watson. Elementary."
"I thought this was a college." said Trent.
Daria rolled her eyes. "It is, Trent. Welcome to the Morgendorffer
University of Erotic Dance. Pasties are optional."
From underneath the console, there came a sudden, throaty "Rrrowrr !"
Jane froze. "It isn't. It can't be. No freaking way."
Up popped a familiar face. It was, indeed, Charles "Upchuck" Rutthiemer
III, in all of his unseemly glory. Like Daria, he was garbed in a white
lab coat, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. "Well, well, well
! If it isn't the tempestuous Miss Lane, in all her elegant
majesty !" he leered.
"You're working with UPCHUCK !" Jane cried, giving Daria a startled
"Feisty !" Upchuck declared.
"Down, Chuckie, or I use the shock collar again." Daria said.
"Eep!" cried Charles, "Sorry about that, Daria. Um. How are you, Jane?"
His voice took on a more civilized inflection.
"Mildly nauseated, at the moment. What in the hell is he doing here,
"Now, now, Jane," said Daria, " a little aversion therepy has tamed
some of the more revolting aspects of our old Upchuck here." Charles
cringed momentarily at the mention of aversion therepy. "But he happens
to possess a surprisingly insightful scientific mind. Even if his
personality is composed of greasy Tinker Toys."
"Just as Miss Morgendorffer here has exhibited an outstanding capacity
for theoretical physics," Charles quipped back, "in spite of her
"Don't forget my sadistic tendancies, Charles." siad Daria. She held
her hand up, as if holding an imaginary remote control. "Zzzap!" she
said, pressing her thumb downwards. Charles winced again.
Jane was dumbstruck. "You've been working here with Upchuck for, what,
four months now?" Daria nodded. "Yet every time I asked you about this
project of yours, you clammed up tighter than Rumsfeld's sphincter. I
don't get it, Daria."
Daria's face turned regretful as she sighed. "I'm sorry about that,
Jane. But I couldn't tell you anything about this project until you had
recieved the proper security clearances. That took some time."
Jane looked around for Trent. She saw him stretched out on the floor,
asleep again. "Yet you managed to get one for Rip Van Winkle in just
one day?" she challenged.
Daria glanced at Trent's prone form. "That was easy. Appearently, the
only things any computer anywhere has on him are his birth certificate,
school transcripts, and driver's license. No tax returns, no work
history, or police records. Took about an hour."
"Okay, I can see that, but why all the security? There's an armed guard
upstairs; we're five stories underground, and I've barely seen you in
the last four months. What's going on?"
Daria opened her mouth to reply, but Charles stepped forward and said,
"Allow me to enlighten you, Miss Lane! Have you ever seen 'Star Drek'?"
Jane nodded. "Yeah, I like to watch that show. I don't play
dress-up-like-your-favorite-character or learn to speak some made-up
language, but I'm familiar with it."
Charles swept his right arm grandiosely to the box in the center of the
room. "Feast your eyes upon the world's first fully-functioning
transporter unit !"
"Oh, come on!" said Jane cynically, "Even I know that's impossible !"
"No longer, my dear !" Charles declared. "Thanks to Miss
Morgendorffer's knowledge of molecular transmogrification combined with
my unsurpassed electronic proficiency, you may now send anything,
anywhere in the world!" He beamed with pride. "Or anybody--"
The large door in the back of the room suddenly opened with a bang.
Kevin Thompson entered, carrying a hamster in a cage. Like the others,
he was wearing a white lab coat.
"Here you go, Daria! I changed the bedding in Hindenburg's cage,
and gave him some of those pellet thingies!" he said with a grin.
Noticing Jane, he beamed at her. "Hey, Jane! I'm a scientologist now!"
"The word is scientist, Kevin. And no, you're not. What's rule number
three?" Daria said.
Kevin thought for a moment, and said, "Kevin doesn't do any
experiments. He builds the cabinets, hooks stuff up, and cleans up. Oh
yeah, and takes care of Hindenburg!" He smiled at Daria, goofily.
"Very good, Kevin." Daria reached into her coat pocket and produced a
gummy bear. She tossed it at Kevin, who caught it in his hand and
shoved it in his mouth. "But the hamster's name is Heisenburg. Try to
remember that, okay?"
"Mgphkay." Kevin said, still chewing. He swallowed, and then said,
again, "Hey, Jane!"
Jane turned to Daria, and said sharply, "Alright, Morgendorffer, joke's
over. Ha-ha, very funny. The security guard was a nice touch,
really had me going there. First tweedle-dee," she jerked a thumb at
Charles, "and then tweedle-dumb. I know you make a decent living, your
Melody Powers novels are selling well, and you obviously went to a lot
of trouble and spent a lot of money for a cheap laugh at my expense,
but I thought you were my friend. This isn't very funny and if-"
"Jane." Daria said sharply. "It's no joke. We have built a transporter.
It can instantly move any object from here to anywhere in the world. We
have only one final test to perform, and that's why you're here."
Jane turned away, her mind reeling. This was far, far too much to
absorb at once.
"But first," interjected Charles, "we must finish assembling the return
control hookups. Come, Kevin, we have work to do." Kevin walked toward
the console where Daria and Charles were working earlier, but stopped
"Daria, why is there a homeless guy asleep on the floor?" he inquired.
"That's Jane's brother, Kevin. Just let him sleep." said Daria.
"Oh no you don't! You pulled that one on me with that Tom guy! Hey,
wake up, homeless guy!" Kevin leaned over and shook Trent.
"NO!" Trent shouted, "No more Polish women!" He sat up quickly,
momentarily disoriented. He noticed they were all staring at him.
Jane turned to Daria, frowning. "What kind of test are we talking
Daria looked at her friend. She could see that Jane was very conflicted
about the whole thing, her usually confident features looking quite
unsure. Maybe best to talk in private for a bit, she thought.
"Step into my office and we'll get the papers signed first. Make sure
you get paid." said Daria. She gestured to one of the two doors on the
left wall; she and Jane walked over to it in silence. Daria held the
door for her, and closed it when they had both entered. Charles and
Kevin knelt down to continue installing some equipment.
"Hmm." said Trent, looking closely at some of the machinery. "You got
more knobs on these things than a Mesa Boogie cabinet head. What's it
Charles completed his tasks, stood up, clapsed his hands together, and
prepared to dazzle Trent with his brilliance. Kevin waited patiently to
be useful again. He thought of gummy bears and drooled.
Daria closed the door, and they were alone in her office. It was a
comfortable reflection of it's owner, both vintage and modern meeting
in some exotic dance of styles. A beautifully made wooden desk, stained
dark like the cabinets in the outer room, dominated the center of the
office; two antique, comfortable-looking chairs sat facing it. An
extensive computer system, with plasma monitor, sat to the right on a
seperate cabinet. An ornate brass lamp, with green glass shade, sat
beside it on the desk, filling the room with a pleasant, soft light. To
Jane's left, she saw a modern, chrome coat rack, holding Daria's
expensive-looking green camel-hair coat.
"Heh. I thought by office, you meant bathroom." said Jane.
"Nah, you have to use the elevator to get to those. Level two is men's,
three for us."
"Ours is closer."
Daria grinned. "RHIP."
"Rank hath its privileges." Daria gestured at the coat rack. "Take off
your coat, stay awhile."
Jane did so, placing hers next to Daria's. She moved to the chair
nearest her, and Daria sat on the desktop, her booted feet dangling.
Gently, Daria said, "What's wrong, Jane?" Let me in, please. I don't like the. . .
distance in your face.
Jane folded her arms and looked away. "Nothing." she said. Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin.
"Jane. I have known you for seven years. I know when something's wrong.
Spill." Pretty please, with pizza on
"Well, you used to
know..." Take that, Misery Chick.
"What do you mean?" Explain
yourself, Quarterback killer.
Jane sighed, and looked Daria in the eyes. "Daria, we've been drifting
apart for the last few months. We didn't even go home for Christmas
this year." She paused. " We always
"Is that what this is about?" asked Daria, still puzzled.
"Sort of....I mean....I don't know what I mean. I guess.... it's just
"Out with it, Lane." Daria commanded.
Jane paused for a deep breath, and said, "We're moving in opposite
directions. You're a published author. You're a college professor. Now
I find out you're also a mad scientist working with Upchuck and Rat
Boy." Jane paused again, her eyes misting slightly. In a low voice she
said, "You don't need me anymore."
Daria almost lept off the desk. She knelt down in front of Jane's
chair, and said softly, "You don't really beleive that, do you?"
A single tear fell down Jane's cheek. "I'm a nobody."
Daria gently wiped Jane's cheek with her thumb. "Well....nobody's
Jane chuckled in spite of herself. "Ha ha. I get it."
"Jane, you are my one true best friend. I need you now more than I ever
have. Do you realise what's going to happen when word of my work here
gets out ? It's going to get crazy, absolutely crazy. I'll need
you by my side just to keep me sane." Daria let this sink in, and said,
"I'll even pay you for it."
Jane frowned. "I don't want charity, Daria."
"Okay, screw charity." Daria suddenly stood up and walked around to the
opposite side of her desk. She sat in her overstuffed office chair,
reached into a drawer, and pulled out some papers. Plopping her feet up
on the desk, she thrust the papers at Jane. "Earn your money."
Jane read. "Hmm...ten thousand dollars....to be the first human to be
transported...five thousand for a second experiment...two thousand for
any subsequent experiments...one million dollars to next of kin in case
of..." She looked up at Daria, questioningly. "..accident ?"
"If it doesn't work, Trent's a millionaire." Daria said.
Jane smiled, some of her old self coming to the fore. "So THAT"S your evil
plan. Kill me for the insurance and marry my suddenly rich
brother! I knew you were up to something!"
"Oh bite me, Lane. I knew I shouldn't have let you read that." Placing
her feet under her desk, Daria leaned forward and said, "But seriously,
it will work. Just last week, we transported Heisenburg from here to
Kevin's dorm room. I've been monitoring his vitals, and checked his
DNA. He's perfectly healthy, exactly the same as before he left."
"Hold it, back up a bit." Jane said, raising her hand. "Kevin's a student here?"
"Raft decided to start a football team last year."
"And he's the QB?"
Daria nodded. "O'Neill and DeMartino worked together to get him
graduated, Ms. Li somehow fixed it so he could play high school ball
for two more years, and then they got him into Lawndale State. He
played there for two years, and Raft sent him an invitation to be a
walk-on. He needed a science credit to maintain elegibility, and the
Dean saddled me with him in exchange for building me this laboratory."
"I can't believe you'd be a part of academic fraud, Daria." Jane
"Hmph. I admit I was furious at first, but Kevin actually seems to
understand that he has to behave himself and study a little. He's
actually quite useful, when you reward him properly." Daria reached
into her lab coat pocket and produced a couple of gummy bears. She
tossed one to Jane and ate the other. After she swallowed, she
continued. "Summers spent working with his dad actually gave him some
decent woodworking skills. He built all the cabinets out there, and my
desk too. He can follow a blueprint accurately, and as long as Upchuck
shows him exactly what to do, he can do some electronics work as well."
"Isn't he a security risk, though?" asked Jane.
"There is that possibility, but look: if Kevin told you he was a
scientologist who transplanted the Hindenburg into his dorm room, would
you believe him?"
Jane laughed. "Okay, I see your point, but what about Upchuck? Last I
remember, his Dad got him into Hardwood."
"Yes, he graduated top of his class with honors, same as me, but of
course, a Hardwood degree is worth a lot more in the job market. Yet,
the first thing he did was come here to enroll in my graduate program.
At first, he hit on me, I hit back, same old same old. But I applied a
little 'electrical influence' to get him to behave, and he eventually
told me about his theories for a transporter. We worked out the actual
designs, and I had Mom draw up an iron-clad contract; I retain all
patents and he retains the rights to the electronics distribution. This
made his Dad so happy, he set up a secret meeting with the Department
of Transportation, and presto: instant grant for millions to do the
research. Only stipulation: absolute secrecy until it's completed. Even
the millitary knows nothing about it. "
"But won't they find out when you start to sell them?" inquired Jane.
"We're not going to, right away. When we finish here, we're going to
transport the plans to all the heads of state in the world. Each
country will have one."
"But isn't that dangerous? What if the Queen of North Korea decides to
beam a nuke into Dubbaya's bedroom?"
"They can't. You know how on 'Star Drek' they had bio-filters to screen
out diseases? Our design has that, plus a weaponary filter, hardwired
to the design in such a way so that it won't work without them. They
can't build it legally without Rutthiemer Inc.'s electronics. Upchuck
also built a secret signal into the design so we can tell if an illegal
one starts operating; we beam it and the plans away from any
scoundrels. Lawyers and businessmen truly rule the world. And I," she
said with a grin, "shall rule them all. Umm, I mean, we shall. Me,
Upchuck, and you. Yes." Daria sat back and looked at Jane. "So, you in?"
Jane thought hard for a moment. "I still don't know if I wanna be a
molecular jigsaw puzzle, Daria. What if something goes wrong?"
"Jane, I wouldn't risk your life if I thought for a moment that it
would. And if it does, I swear I will destroy the transporter and
retire into an alcoholic haze. Until I marry Trent, of course." Daria
Jane thought some more. "I don't know...."
Daria rose up from her seat, and returned to her kneeling position in
front of Jane. Softly, she said, "I wouldn't hurt you for the world,
Jane." You didn't kill him.
Jane grasped Daria's hands and stood up.
Jane smiled at Daria. "Okay, amiga. Let's do it!" You're not the Misery Chick.
Daria stood as well. "All right, then." she smiled.
"All right, then." Jane disengaged herself from Daria's hands and
leaned over the desk. She signed the papers with a flourish.
They left Daria's office, to find Trent listening absently to Charles'
explanation of the transporter. Kevin, having heard all this before
(and understanding almost none of it), was wiping down the front of the
console where Charles and he had completed their work.
"One computer handles the information input load, and the other manages
the send signals and re-assembly at the chosen destination. And,"
Charles said proudly, "we have just finished installing a remote return
capability. The subject simply wears one of our signal badges, and we
can return them from their journey with the push of a button!"
"Huh," said Trent. "Can it make me some cheese fries? I'm kinda
"No...that would be a food replicator. I do have some ideas for that,
though. If we.." Daria interrupted Charles with a cough. He and Trent
turned to look at her.
"Later, Doctor Cochran. It's time to get to work." she said. The two
sat at their respective terminals and began typing commands. Jane
turned to Trent.
"Daria told me about the job, Trent." she said.
"Cool. What do you do?"
Jane looked her brother directly in the eyes. "It's a little bit
dangerous. I'm going to be their first human subject; they stick me in
that thing and beam me somewhere. Like Wonkavision, only I'll stay the
"Heh. I remember that movie."
"Something unexpected could happen." Jane said. She leaned in closer to
her brother and said in a low voice, "If you don't want me to do it, I
Trent thought for a moment. His eyes drifted to Daria, seated at her
computer station, typing furiously. He said to his sister, "Daria
doesn't lie. If she says it'll be okay, it will be."
Jane kissed her brother lightly on the cheek, her confidence buoyed by
Daria stopped her typing and said to Charles, "All systems green."
"Affirmative. All green on my board." replied Charles.
"Good." said Daria. She swiveled her chair around and asked Jane, "So
where would you like to go?"
Jane thought for a few seconds, then said, "All this snow and stuff is
too damned depressing for me. I wanna go to the beach! Daytona Beach!"
Charles responded with a resounding, "And so you shall, fair maiden !"
He typed 'Daytona' into the destination box on his screen.
Far above, on the roof of the building, a small shack suddenly split
open at the walls, and a huge satellite dish appeared and came to life,
rotating into its proper position.
Daria reached into a drawer, and pulled out a small, thin plastic
device about the size of a playing card, only longer. "Here, Jane.
Attach this somewhere next to your skin. It needs to be in direct
contact with you."
"Well, how do I do that?" Jane asked. "Is it like a band-aid?"
"Um...no...damn, we'll have to fix that for next time. Umm....stuff it
in your bra."
As if some pervert switch had been thrown in his brain, Charles lept up
and cried, "I'll do it !" Jane lept back a few feet with an "Eep !"
Trent stepped forward menacingly to intercept Charles. Daria, startled
by the sudden movements, jumped out of her chair to stand next to Jane.
Blissfully unaware, Kevin came around to the other side of the console
and began to wipe off Charles' computer screen with a cloth. The
others, preoccupied with the situation, failed to notice him.
"Back off, man." Trent said with steel in his voice. He gripped
Charles' lapels and spun him around away from Jane.
Day-to-na thought Kevin. Hey, I remember when Dad and me went
there! Hmm, that doesn't look quite right. The rusty wheels of
his brain, unused to thinking very often, suddenly made a sharp spin.
He reached down and hit three of the keys with his index finger. Yeah! That's right! He stepped over
to Daria's screen and began to wipe it off.
On the roof, the satellite dish moved imperceptibly to the right.
Daria regained her composure rapidly. She made the remote cotrol
configuration with her hand again, and said,"Charles, control yourself,
With Trent in his face, and Daria's intent clear, Charles wilted
quickly. "No! It was an accident! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"
"Let him go, Trent." said Jane. Trent complied, releasing Charles, who
"Sorry Jane, Daria. Sir. Old habits die hard." Charles looked up with a
puppy dog face. "It won't happen again, I swear."
"It better not." said Trent, coldly.
"All right people. Crises over. Back to business." Daria said. She
turned to Jane and said, "Go into my office and...um...do what you have
to do." Jane did as Daria suggested.
Daria turned to Charles. "All right, Upchuck moment over. Let's
finalize our calculations." She gestured towards the console, and
Charles warily crept past Trent to sit at his station. He grabbed his
mouse and scrolled down the screen.
Kevin finished cleaning Daria's screen and moved to allow her to sit
down. He looked at Trent as if seeing him for the first time. "Hey
homeless guy! I'm a scien...no, wait, I'm not...I'm...I'm the QB!"
"Right." said Trent, moving away from Kevin to watch Daria. Kevin
shrugged and went off to dust the cabinets.
Jane returned in a moment and walked up to the booth. "Okay, what next?"
"Step inside. One trip to Daytona, coming up." said Daria. Jane eyed
the booth for a split second, inhaled sharply, and stepped inside.
"What are these handgrips for?" she asked.
"Gives you something wholesome to do with your hands." smirked Daria.
"You are such a bitch." said Jane.
"No, you are." countered Daria.
"No, you." Jane gripped the handles. "Ready."
Daria's hand stretched out to a red button marked "SEND". Her index
finger hovered over it.
"Bring me back a seashell, Janey." said Trent.
"Bye Jane!" said Kevin. "Have fun at the Daytona 500! I know I sure
"The what?" asked Charles.
Daria's finger pressed the button. A low humming sound began, followed
by a flash of blue-green plasma.
Something went wrong.
Sonny Pitstop shifted gears on his race car, increasing his speed
slightly as he culminated his slingshot out of turn three. Adrenaline
coursed through his veins as he flew around the track; if he kept up
his speed, he would achieve his highest ever finish at the Daytona 500.
Sonny was currently running eighth in the pack, his best position in
twelve tries as a NASCAR driver. His sponsor, Ultra Chicken, would be
very happy with a top ten finish, possibly earning him a bonus and
Sonny heard his crew chief on the headset, reminding him to pit at
least one more time before the race was over. Sonny acknowledged, and
checked his fuel gauge. He should be able to run at least three more
laps before having to pit, and informed his crew chief of this fact. He
could see pit row up ahead, and was planning on passing it by, when
suddenly, an inexplicable blue-green flash on his right startled him.
He whipped his head to the right, and saw an astounding sight.
A young woman was tangled in the cargo netting that served as his
passenger side window. Her right hand clutched a wad of the netting,
and her left gripped the top of the rear window. Her legs, clad in
black tights, were visible from the knees down, ending in a pair of
substantial black boots. Apparently, her rear end was dangling out of
the window, visible to the fans but not to Sonny. Her oval face, framed
by a mushroom of black hair, displayed a look of abject terror. Ruby
red lips formed an "O" of surprised astonishment at her predicament,
then broke into an embarrassed-looking smile.
"Hi! Can you please pull over? I really gotta pee!" she said, shouting
over the engine's roar. Sonny hit his brakes, and steered towards pit
row, intending to stop and have her arrested as soon as possible. How
could she have gotten into his window like that? It didn't seem
Just as Sonny's car left the race track, the same blue-green flash
eveloped the girl, and she was gone. The cargo netting snapped back
into its usual shape, and a barely perceptable *pop* reached his ears.
"What the...?" Sonny said out loud, but there was no one there to hear
him. He drove his car to his crews' position, came to a halt, and
removed his helmet. His crew chief's face suddenly appeared at his
window, "Sonny, I thought you just said you were good for three more
laps. Something wrong?"
"Did you see that?" Sonny asked. "There was...a girl...in my
window...well, halfway in...where'd she go?"
"Sonny, are you okay? You didn't go out partying with Elliot again last
night, did you? I've told you a hundred times, that's the oldest trick
in the book....." Sonny stopped listening. He sat in stunned silence.
Didn't anyone see? The fans must have seen. Maybe even the T.V. cameras
had seen something.
Sonny's crew finished filling his tank. He prepared to re-enter the
race, when a horrible, gut-wrenching sound filled the air. Sonny saw
the yellow flag, and knew a crash had occurred. He replaced his helmet,
hit the accelerator, and took off. Scanning ahead as soon as his veiw
permitted, he saw a massive pile-up had taken out several cars.
Carefully steering around it, he took his place behind the pace car.
Realisation dawned on him. If the girl had not appeared in his window,
he would have been in the accident.
She had saved his life.
She was an angel. A real, live guardian angel. Just like in that book
he'd been reading.
Some time later.....
Jane sat in Daria's office, an emergency thermal blanket wrapped around
her shoulders ("In case of shock," Daria had said). They had pulled her
back as quickly as possible, almost immediately, and she had returned
to a chaotic scene of Daria in a state of nearly manic anger. Upchuck
and Kevin were on the recieving end of the most awful tirade of
four-letter words Jane thought she had ever heard, and a red-faced
Daria Morgendorffer was the surprising source. Trent, apparently
quite happy to not be on the recieving end of her formidable temper
tantrum, had walked over and embraced his sister, pulling her out of
the machinery. Upon seeing Jane safe and sound, Daria had regained her
composure and began directing traffic, ordering Charles to get a
blanket from the emergency kit and sending a chastened Kevin off in
search of coffee. Daria had wrapped the blanket Charles produced around
her friend's shoulders, and steered her into the office to sit down. A
slightly disheveled-looking Jane had meekly agreed, disengaging herself
from her concerned brother's hug. She now sat in silence, trying to
absorb this bizzare experience.
The office door opened, and Daria entered, carrying a steaming thermos
cup. She offered it to Jane.
"Raspberry hot chocolate," Daria explained, "courtesy of Kathy Krupke,
the security guard's wife." Jane accepted gratefully, while Daria sat
at her desk. She let out a sigh.
"Well, that didn't go
very well. I should have known better than to let football boy anywhere
near this project." she said, dejectedly.
Jane sipped her drink, and said, "Ah, don't take it so hard, amiga, 'm
okay. Your experiment worked. I'm back, safe and sound. See? No blood,
no inside out monkey, just little Janey with her hair messed up."
"I could have gotten you killed." Daria said, softly.
"Daria, it was an accident. You didn't do anything wrong." Jane
Daria sat wordlessly for a moment, lost in thought. Then she said,
"Thank you, Jane, but it occurs to me that if this technology got into
the hands of some psychotic mafia boss, he could beam people in front
of semi-trucks or busses. Our technology couldn't stop something like
that." She sighed again. "Maybe we should just forget about this..."
"Tell you what," said Jane, "let's forget about this stuff right now.
Let's get some Chinese take-out, go back to my place, and drown our
sorrows in "Sick, Sad World" and some bad movies. I'll treat...where's
my money, Morgendorffer?" She grinned at Daria, who managed a slight
"That sounds good. But...one question." Daria paused, and asked, "What
did it feel like?"
Jane thought for a second, and said simply, "It tickles."
"Mm-yeah. It's like your whole body is being tickled from the inside
out. Really weird, but not unpleasant."
"Huh. That's good, I suppose." Daria stood up. "All right, fried rice
and junk T.V. Who could resist?"
Jane finished her drink, shrugged off the blanket, and stood as well.
She gathered their coats, and the trenchant twosome exited the room.
They emerged into the main room, only to see Trent asleep on one of the
chairs. Jane walked to her brother, put one hand on his shoulder, and
softly said,"Trent? "
Trent sleepily mumbled, "...Jeez, Jess, I'll buy you a new
shirt..." and resumed his sonorous snoring. Jane said to Daria, "He's
out pretty good."
Daria said, "Let him sleep. We'll leave him a note telling him what's
up; we can take my car and he'll just have to catch up with us later.
Oh, and tell him..." Daria whispered something in Jane's ear, and Jane
laughed out loud.
"Oh this I gotta see!" Jane guffawed.
"Well, walk this way.." Daria replied, grinning.
"If I could walk that way, I wouldn't need the talcum powder." Jane
said, still chuckling.
"Oh, shut up." Daria said, heading for the large door in the back of
Daria opened the door and entered Kevin's workshop. The room was filled
with a wide assortment of woodworking tools and not just a little
sawdust. Two figures sat in chairs bound with duct tape.
"Jane and I have decided to call it a day, gentlemen. We are going
home, and we'll leave Trent a note telling him to release you. I hope
this little disciplinary action will dissuade you from further acts of
random stupidity." She fixed a steely gaze on the two.
"Yes, ma'am." said Charles and Kevin in unison.
"Good" said Daria. Jane struggled to keep from convulsing with laughter
at the sight of the two bound to the point of immobility. Daria turned
and pulled Jane's arm, steering her to the exit. The door closed with a
"Chuckup?" Kevin asked.
"Don't call me that." said Charles. "What is it?"
"I gotta pee!" said Kevin.
Daria and Jane exited the elevator and stepped over to Krupke's desk.
He put down his book and smiled at them.
Daria smirked. "Still putting those intense security skills to good
use, eh Krupke?"
Krupke chuckled. "Still the most charming professor on campus, I see."
Daria returned his thermos cup. "Thanks for the hot chocolate, Fred.
We're headed out."
"Okay. The others leaving soon?" he asked.
"Pretty soon. One's still asleep, the other two are...tied up." Daria's
smirk widened slightly. Jane snickered.
Krupke rolled his eyes. "Not again, Daria. I am not cleaning that elevator
"Yeah, wouldn't want to add to your already crushing work load.
Go let them out, if you want."
"Can I tape the Thompson kid's mouth shut first? Gods, how did he get
into this fine institution?"
"He definately needs to be in an institution, all right. But the thirst
for gridiron victory knows no bounds."
Daria waved her hand in a dismissive gesture. "Do what you want with
them. We're outie."
"See you," smiled Jane. Krupke returned her smile, and the two walked
up the corridor.
An hour later, Daria's purple PT Cruiser was parked in front of Jane's
tenement building. It was not a pleasant part of town, and Daria vowed
to get Jane her money as soon as possible. She had never wanted her
friend to move into this dump, but Jane had insisted on maintaining her
independence. Daria hoped she would change her mind about that, or at
the very least, find a more suitable living space. She could see how
living here had given Jane a negative atitiude about herself.
Jane's studio apartment walls were covered in her paintings, many of
which, Daria noted, had an obvious downward cast to them. The corners
were stacked with canvases, and a few odd-looking sculptures littered
the floor. Daria saw the ever-present Stickmata 2000 glue gun near one
of them. Jane had cleared off her futon, covered mostly with clothes in
various states of filthy. The two of them sat on the overstuffed
padding, boxes of Chinese take-out scattered around them.
"Pass me the Kung Pao shrimp," Daria said, between bites.
"Uh-uh," said Jane. "The last time you ate that, we had to fumigate the
"It wasn't that bad," said Daria.
"The neighbor's bloodhound jumped out the window."
"You're on the first floor."
"He went blind for three days. So did I."
"Fine," said Daria, reaching for a handfull of crab rangoons. "Turn on
the news, will you? I want to see if this weather's going to change
"Yeah, April, I think." Jane reached for the remote, and flipped the
channel to the local news.
"..controversial ending to today's Daytona 500," the announcer said.
"The race ended shortly after a massive pile-up eliminated the top
seven positions." The T.V. screen showed flying debris, smoke, and
various car parts filling the air. "Heavy favorite Stacy Rowe, the most
successful female driver in history, got into an altercation with
another driver, Smokey Tyres, after the track was cleared." Daria and
Jane's jaws dropped. Onscreen now, the diminutive form of the Fasion
Club's meekest member, immaculatley clad in a form-fitting jumpsuit
covered in cosmetics advertising, could be seen shouting at a larger,
equally vociferous male. Suddenly, Stacy swung an overhand right at the
man's head, which snapped back as if struck by a Lennox Lewis punch.
"Did we do that?" Jane asked. Daria shrugged, bewildered.
"NASCAR officials' initial report indicated that Tyres rear-ended
Rowe's Waif Dodge Stratus, causing the chain reaction crash." The
screen showed a slow-motion film of exactly that. Jane breathed a sigh
of relief.She hadn't caused the accident.
"But in yet another bizzare twist to the story, Daytona's official
winner, Sonny Pitstop, made some unusual remarks at victory lane."
The screen showed a happy looking man, clutching a huge trophy, with
several men in the background spraying champagne on each other. " I
want to thank my guardian angel for asking me to pull over and keeping
me out of the wreck!" he shouted. "She saved my life!" Jane felt her
"Track cameras recorded the alleged angel sighting. The film clearly
Jane let a small "Ungh!" escape her lips as a blurry film showed what
was surely her own rear end hanging out of the car's window.
"Umm..." was all a startled Daria could say. Jane flipped to the next
local station, where the same footage could be seen.
"...and our own sports team has sent this footage through a special
computer enhancement, in hopes of clarifying the matter."
The screen showed a slightly clearer vision, with a magnified derriere
filling the entire window with its curves. Jane leapt up from the
futon, scattering food in all directions.
"My butt's not that
big!" Jane screamed, twisting her upper torso around in a fruitless
effort to veiw her own cheeks. "...is it?"
"Umm..." Daria repeated.
"NASCAR officials refused to make an official statement regarding the
matter, but our own Brad Hairdo caught up with racing official Sparky
Pluggs outside the meeting room."
"We are not releasing any information at this time, pending an
investigation." said a well-manicured man in a suit. "We are currently
turning this film over to specialists in this type of identification."
The scene switched to an obese man with glasses, a moustache, and
slicked-back hair. The caption simply said A SPECIALIST.
"Well, we don't really know what to make of this. It may require
multiple veiwings before anything can be determined." The man then
leered at the camera and wiggled his eyebrows.
Jane let the remote slip from her fingers. She clasped her head in her
hands, sitting down abruptly.
After a long pause, Daria found her voice again. "Umm..don't worry,
Jane. This will all blow over...eventually. They'll find some new story
to jump all over, and this will all be forgotten..."
Two weeks later...
Daria had been proven correct. The media, constantly on the search for
fresh meat for their grinders, had chewed on the story for a few days,
and had quickly moved on. Jane spent a few nights gazing at her own
buttocks on the news, and suddenly, the story died. Racing officials
would niether confirm nor deny that a human being could have been in
the car with Sonny. He was listed as the official winner of the Daytona
Jane had kept a low profile, but found it was largely unnecessary; none
could identify her as the subject of the controversy. Soon, she and
Daria were back to their old selves, planning to eat dinner and have a
bad movie night.
Daria had prepared a meal of chicken florentine, after reading about
the recipe in a book. She and Jane sat in Daria's comfortable mid-town
apartment, eating heartily and sipping merlot.
"Daria, you know red wine's not for chicken, right?" Jane asked.
"Yes, Jane, but as Justin Wilson used to say, 'The best kind of wine to
drink is the kind you've got in the house.'"
"What time is it?" asked Daria.
"Almost seven. Time for 'Sick, Sad World' !"
Daria clicked the T.V. on, and the familiar green and red eyeball logo
"Tonight: Did a guardian angel save this race driver from certain
death? Holy Rolling Hot Rods, next, on Sick, Sad World! "
"Umm..." said Daria.
"Oy...." said Jane.
THE END ?