This is a continuation of my previous fic, “A Chain Reaction Begins”. In it, the Ruttheimer line gets cut-off, we see how Linda Griffin and Amy Barksdale met, and Sandi Griffins confers in her fellow Fashion Club members about her family legend. Part one of two.
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.
Angela Li returned to her office on Monday morning, thinking: ‘I'm getting bored and disappointed with this job.’ The next moment, Jodie Landon also came into her office, and said: “I am withdrawing from my extra-curricular activities.” Suddenly, Ms. Li was no longer bored.
“Let me get this straight, Miss Landon,” Ms. Li turned to Jodie. “You're withdrawing from your extra-curricular activities?”
“I'm not happy that I have to do this,” replied Jodie, struggling to keep her face impassive but not wholly succeeding, “but I have to. The change in the family situation, you know?”
“My father had a severe heart attack and had to go to Lawndale hospital. As a result, my mother has to return to workforce, and I have to leave my extracurriculars behind, due to the fact that my sister and brother, Rachel and Evan, cannot be left alone in the house.”
Ms. Li nodded. “And where does your mother work now?”
“As Linda Griffin’s business manager.”
“Mm-hmm. Well, you can return to your studies, Miss Landon.”
Once alone, Ms. Li exhaled in a long sigh. “Why did it had to be her?” she complained loudly into empty space. “Why did had to be the Landons, of all people?”
Gloomily, Ms. Li stared into the fact sheet of Jodie Landon. “Drat, drat and drat! Without Landon, most of non-sport related school social activities will fall into disrepair! And why did Andrew Landon had to have a heart attack this Sunday?!” Ms. Li paused and composed herself. “Why, indeed?” she continued to speak in a completely different tone. “And Linda Griffin is in this somehow too.” Ms. Li quickly dialled the number of Linda Griffin’s business company, ‘Gorgün.’
To Ms. Li’s good luck, it was Michelle Landon herself who picked-up the phone. “Why, Mrs. Landon,” Ms. Li carefully said. “I'm phoning to offer my condolences about your husband’s condition.”
“How’d you learn about it?”
“Jodie told me. I don’t want to be overly curious, but what has happened to him?”
“He suffered a heart attack yesterday. Must be all that high-cholesterol food he was eating.”
“I see. So how did you find a working place so quickly?”
“Just a stroke of good luck.”
“M-hmm. I see. Well, I shan’t keep away, good-bye!” and Angela Li put down the phone receiver, counted to ten, and dialled a new number, this time of Lawndale hospital.
“Hello, Roger Phillips? This is Angela Li speaking. What has happened to Andrew Landon?”
“A heart attack.”
“But that’s not all. I didn't tell this to Andrew’s wife and oldest daughter, but the heart attack had a side-effect on his neurological works, too.”
“This will slow down the recovery?”
“The recovery will be long in coming anyways. It’ll be weeks, months, maybe even a couple of years or so before Andrew Landon will return to being fully functional.”
“Oh my. I see.”
“Don't tell this to his family, please? They were worried as it is.”
“Right,” Angela Li said, putting down the phone receiver. Jodie Landon had looked calm as a cucumber when she came to see her this morning, and Michelle Landon didn't sound this distressed at all, either. “Hmm,” Angela Li once more said, as she once again looked-over Jodie Landon’s fact file. Her face fell. “Drat! Somehow, Landon managed to get involved in the activities without having any close friends. Although, Michael Jordan Mackenzie… nah.”
Angela Li was in a quandary. With most of her students she could always find somebody who was close enough to know the student’s-in-question family life. Or, she could simply ask Stacy Rowe, the biggest gossip of Lawndale High and be done with it. But somehow, for some reason that Ms. Li couldn't quite fathom, the Fashion Club didn't mix with the school council’s VP.
Angela Li wondered about Daria Morgendorffer. That girl was probably smart enough to learn what has happened with the Landons by now; she was the closest thing Jodie Landon had for a true friend. But unfortunately, Daria’s mouth was usually locked tighter than the principal’s office on week nights and weekends; lots of things went in, but very few leaked-out. Still, Angela Li didn’t doubt that whatever has happened on weekend that landed Andrew Landon in the hospital, was at least a bit too big to be contained – even by Daria Morgendorffer.
Ms. Li reached for the intercom button – and paused. Maybe it’d be better for the older Morgendorffer girl and Landon to interact on their own. Yes, that would be better.
Ms. Li adjusted her video-screens and audio links, and tuned-in.
It was Mr. O’Neill’s class that Jodie Landon and Daria Morgendorffer shared. Jane had art class with Ms. DeFoe this period, so no interference from her was incoming.
“Hey, Jodie,” Daria greeted her acquaintance.
“Hey, Daria,” Jodie replied neutrally.
“Why’d you have to go Ms. Li’s office?”
“I quitted from my extracurriculars.”
“Oh my! Why? This didn’t had to do anything with Mack, did it?”
“No, Daria. Although, how did it you learn about me and Mack?”
“Fashion Club solidarity.”
“Mmm. I forgot. Quinn.”
“Yes, exactly. So if it isn't Mack, then why?”
“I told you. My dad had a heart attack-“
“And on the same day Mack was seen in the vicinity of Sandi, while your mom got hired by her mom,” Daria accusingly said. “I'm not buying this. This couldn't be just a series of coincidences. Even the presence of my aunt here couldn't have altered the fabric of Lawndale reality that much.”
“Yeah. My aunt Amy. She’s here to visit us for some time.”
“Your aunt Amy? Mom mentioned that Linda Griffin had a friend with her, Amy Barksdale, this Sunday.”
“That sounds downright like my aunt,” Daria said thoughtfully. “Though I must admit, that my aunt doesn't look like a person that Linda Griffin would be friends with.”
“Linda Griffin hates my mom’s guts, for some reason.”
“True. But your mother’s a Morgendorffer; your aunt Amy’s a Barksdale. And they don't look very similar, either. Do you think this might be some sort of a case of unknown relations?”
“This sounds like something that Quinn would do, not aunt Amy.”
“How do you know that Quinn isn’t like aunt Amy?”
“’Cause aunt Amy often calls me her favourite niece. This makes me believe that she and Quinn aren’t particularly close. Besides, I think Quinn is more like our mom.”
“Interesting point,” Jodie replied. “Still, people change, you know?”
Angela Li looked away from the video monitor. Timothy O’Neill finally started his lesson, and neither of the two girls felt like chatting any more, either. Finally, Angela Li believed that she had learned everything that she could from that exchange.
The case was still painfully bare. Daria Morgendorffer had an aunt, Amy Barksdale. (Now why did this name sounded familiar? Was it on TV or something?) This aunt was friends with Linda Griffin, if such a thing was possible. And coincidentally, on the same date that Daria’s aunt got here, the fortunes of the Landon family went down, while the ones of the Griffin family became… slightly improved, for the lack of a better descriptive term.
Curiously, Angela Li brought-forth onto her monitor the files on Linda Griffin’s company ‘Gorgün’, and Andrew Landon’s consulting company – ‘Landon’s Advisable Answers’. No luck. ‘Gorgün’ simply wasn't a consulting company.
But Jake Morgendorffer’s business was. And Amy Barksdale was Jake Morgendorffer’s sister-in-law. That coincidence made Angela Li think.
“Don't be ridiculous,” she told herself sternly. “You have just overread mystery novels. Besides, who could be friends with Linda Griffin.” That was true. It was also true that Linda Griffin was not above lying.
But… clearly, someone has been with Linda Griffin the day before today, under the name of Amy Barksdale at any rate. (And where did she hear this name? It wasn’t unfamiliar to her, yet she was sure it wasn't local.)
“The trouble is,” Angela Li told herself sternly, “that without knowing anything about this… Amy Barksdale, I cannot let my suspicions go to rest. Hmm. I’m going to make another phone call.”
A phone rang in Helen Morgendorffer’s office. “Who is it?” she spoke into the receiver.
“It’s your daughters’ high school principal, Angela Li.”
“What daughter did what now, Ms. Li?”
“Oh no-no-no-no,” principal Li shook her head. “You see, I overheard that you have a sister, Amy Barksdale, and the name sounds somehow familiar-“
“My sister’s a news anchor,” Helen Morgendorffer said curtly. “Anything else?”
“Uh no, no, thanks.”
Angela Li hanged-up.
Angela Li shook her head. Another rational explanation. She didn't exactly want that. There remained one last thing to do: she pressed the intercom button. “Send Daria Morgendorffer to my office, please.”
“You wanted to see me, Ms. Li?”
“Yes, Miss Morgendorffer,” Angela Li spoke gravely. “Your aunt is friends with Linda Griffin.”
“Your aunt arrived here last Sunday, and on the same day, Jodie Landon’s father suffers a heart attack, while her mother goes to work in Linda Griffin’s company.”
“Look, Ms. Li,” Daria replied calmly. “My aunt got Mrs. Griffin’s old job – a news anchor. Yesterday, they met and patched-up their old differences. They also helped Mrs. Landon in dealing with her husband. Mr. Landon suffered a heart attack much latter, when our aunt was dining with us and the Lanes. And so, I'm sorry, but you can’t accuse my aunt in conspiring with Linda Griffin to get rid of Andrew Landon.”
Ms. Li glared over her glasses at Daria. “Miss Morgendorffer, I would never dream of accusing your aunt in poisoning Mr. Landon. Besides, if Linda Griffin wanted to get rid of him – which I doubt – she would probably ask Mr. Landon’s wife instead – she’s ‘Gorgün’s’ new business manager, you know?”
“New business manager of what?”
“‘Gorgün’. Linda Griffin’s company.”
“What does it stand for? The company’s name?”
“I have no idea and am unwilling to find-out,” Ms. Li snapped. She re-composed herself. “Miss Morgendorffer, I just want to tell you, that you should tell your aunt to watch her footwork with Linda Griffin. That woman is trouble, and from what I know about her sister – behind her stands even bigger trouble.”
“Sandi has an aunt?” Daria looked surprised.
“Yes. Somewhere in North Dakota,” Ms. Li said dismissively. “Now go back to class and don’t try slacking! We must bring honour to Lawndale High!”
“Why did you were summoned to Ms. Li?” Jodie Landon curiously asked Daria.
Daria shook her head. “I have no definite idea. I think Ms. Li doesn't like Linda Griffin very much, though.”
“No, thank you. Although, my opinion of Ms. Li being a bit of the hill-top has just been strengthened.”
“Mmm. I see. Well, I don't know what’s so bad about Linda Griffin. True, that she’s a witch and all…”
Daria shook her head dismissively. “Say, curiosity rather, do you have any semi-forgotten relatives on any side – maternal or paternal?”
“Why do you ask?”
“’Cause the way things are going recently around here, they maybe just getting here. First Jane’s sister Penny arrives. Then – my aunt Amy. Now Linda Griffin is supposed to have a sister somewhere in North Dakota, who may or may not come here. And so, I was wondering: do you have any relatives abroad?”
Jodie shook her head. “I don't remember either of my parents mention anything about sisters or brothers. They may have been only children in their families. That would probably explain why they have also Rachael and Evan as well as I.”
“For back-up, if you do not make their wishes come true?” Daria said wryly.
“You know, I'm starting to doubt that in mom,” Jodie said thoughtfully. “She’s certainly at peace now and doesn't care if I drop everything.”
Daria gave Jodie a curious look that remained unnoticed by another girl. “Will you?” she asked nonchalantly.
“Will I what?”
“Hmm, yeah. Even if Rachael and Evan didn't need me looking after them – and they still do – I’m sick and tired of being a cornerstone in school-works!” Jodie paused. “Why do you ask? Do you care?”
“Both my sister and I do babysitting,” Daria replied. “Therefore, if you ever need a babysitter…” she led the sentence trail-away, flashing into Jodie’s face the obvious.
Jodie caught it. “Thanks, but no thanks. I heard something about the Gupty family, and the whole rumour trail that came with it.”
“Suit yourself,” Daria shrugged.
“’Course this doesn’t mean I'll forget about your kind offer, either,” Jodie replied.
“Of course you won’t.”
At lunchtime, Jodie joined Daria and Jane at the table.
“So Jodie, I heard that you joined the slacker side now?” Jane asked.
“Then why won’t you join Mack?” Daria said. “Forgive my bluntness, but I thought it was your busy schedule that was the main obstacle in your relationship.”
“Forget it,” Jodie snorted, ignoring Mack who sat with the rest of his football team. “He and I never had anything, and now we're through completely.”
“Playing hard to get, are we?” Jane asked. “Daria could probably tell you something about that.”
Jodie looked blank.
“She has a crush on my brother Trent,” Jane said in a conspirational whisper.
“You know Jane,” Daria said placidly, “if somebody found you dead today, they’d just blame it on cafeteria food.”
“You guys are funny together,” Jodie snorted. “You sure you’re not related?”
Daria and Jane exchanged looks. “It's funny you should mention that, Jodie,” Daria said. “You see, in our case, truth is stranger than fiction…”
Michael Jordan Mackenzie was a confused young man. His Sunday actions really gotten him misdirected. He didn't accomplish anything with Jodie, yet he did accomplish something with Sandi Griffin – and he wasn't sure why he didn’t despair as much he should. After all, he liked Jodie, right?
Suddenly, Mack wasn’t so sure. For a long time he wondered if he did like Jodie or if he was merely bending to peer pressure, aka two Afro-American kids in school should go together… Michael didn't like that thought.
Of course, before yesterday, he and Sandi didn't come into much contact, either, so that affected things too. Still, he did rather enjoy their little get-together on Sunday. Mack scratched his head and decided to strengthen-up his new friendliness with Sandi today. After school.
Meanwhile, at the Fashion Club table, things were going-on in their usual style. But with glitches. Sandi and Tiffany were silent, and only Stacy was rumbling-on on some meaningless topic, even for her. Quinn noticed that. “So Stacy,” she interrupted the Fashion Club’s secretary, “what has happened yesterday while I and my family were in Boston? Shoot.”
Stacy, who moments before was rumbling in her bumbling style on upcoming fashion styles, clamped-quiet. “N-Nothing has happened yesterday, Quinn.”
Quinn shook her head. “Uh-huh, Stacy. Something did. Jodie and Mack have broken-up, I heard. Why?”
Quinn has asked a very good question, Tiffany thought silently. Stacy Rowe was the school’s greatest gossip; she, somehow, knew everything about anything, and not only other students, but the teaching staff at Lawndale High put Stacy’s ability to good use.
However, right now, this ability of Stacy’s put her in a disadvantage. She really didn't want to tell Quinn what has happened last night. Yet she didn't have any willpower to defy her. Sandi realized it and pitched-in to help. “Nothing happened yesterday, Quinn,” she said coldly. “We three were at the mall, the end.”
“Weren't you grounded, Sandi?” Quinn shot Sandi a look that Daria would be proud-of.
Sandi paused, thinking quickly. “Nah, mom quickly cooled-off. Besides, she wasn't around to reinforce the grounding, anyways.” Sandi paused and launched her counter-attack. “Why do you ask about yesterday anyway, Quinn? Did you hear something?”
“My dad told us this morning that Andrew Landon is in the hospital,” Quinn said flatly.
Other girls’ jaws fell-open.
“Really?” Sandi asked, shocked. She quickly glanced at Stacy. It was clear that if she wasn't removed from the vicinity immediately, Stacy would snap and spew forth God-knows-what. “Tiffany,” Sandi said quickly but calmly. “Take Stacy to the washroom. She doesn't look too good.”
“Right,” Tiffany replied. She and Stacy left.
“So, what has happened?” Quinn asked Sandi bluntly now that Stacy and Tiffany were not longer around. “You, Stacy and Tiffany obviously know something that involves that Landons. Shoot.”
“Why should I?” Sandi asked simply.
“Because, as my mom says, things that land people into hospitals don't stay quiet for very long. They come back out and put other people down too. Do you want to join Mr. Landon?”
“Look!” Sandi said quickly, but firmly. “Yesterday, I ran into Jodie’s boyfriend, Mack, and helped him buy a gift for her. Stacy and Tiffany must’ve seen me then. That’s all that has happened with us and Landons yesterday, honest!”
Sandi was really worried right now. Quinn had a valuable point – and besides, the semi-forgotten memories of aunt Vicki, tall, haughty, rather homely, and very, very cold and disdainful rose in Sandi’s mind. And aunt Vicki, in Sandi’s mind, stood for criminal trouble, criminal!
“I believe you,” Quinn shook Sandi out of her reverie. “However, I believe that we shouldn’t condone today’s Fashion Club meeting at our house.”
Quinn gave a pointy look in one direction. Sandi followed it – and saw Jodie chatting with Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane. “A point there,” Sandi admitted. “However, before we decide as to where to condone our meeting, let’s go and help Tiffany with Stacy.”
“That bad,” Quinn asked. Sandi nodded.
In the girls’ washroom, Tiffany was ‘treating’ Stacy from hyperventilating. “Stacy?” Quinn said not unkindly, “I know everything. Sandi told me.”
“Eep!” Stacy squealed and fainted.
“Great job, Quinn,” Sandi said acidly. “You really helped her there.”
“When she’ll wake-up, she’ll be back to normal – for her,” Quinn argued.
“Hmm… That is true,” Sandi agreed. “However, this is also against Fashion Club’s regulations, I think.”
“She's unconscious,” Tiffany said. “Unconscious is bad. We should take her to the school nurse.”
“Tiffany,” Sandi said. “We don't have a nurse’s office anymore, due to downsizing the expanses. Ms. Li has the medicine kit in her office, remember?”
“So let’s take her there,” Quinn said. “We can't drag Stacy along for the rest of the day.”
Sandi and Tiffany nodded agreement. This was good logic.
“Well, that was interesting,” Daria said to Jane and Jodie.
“What was interesting?”
“The Fashion Club’s interactions.”
“What are you talking about? They all left now.”
“Yeah, but before Quinn and Sandi left, they talked very emphatically about something, and I’m positive that they looked at least once in our direction.”
“They were probably commenting on our lack of fashion,” Jane replied.
“Usually they would, but you forget that the Landons are the sensation-for-today.”
Jodie shook her head. “Look, Daria. I don’t care if Mack’s has anything to do with Sandi.”
Daria shrugged. “And should I care? I just wonder if they didn't see anything else yesterday, while Quinn and I were with our father in Boston.”
“If Stacy saw anything, it’d be all over Lawndale High, if not Lawndale itself,” Jane shook her head. “And speaking of Stacy, she didn't look too good. Maybe you should ask Quinn later about Stacy’s well-being.”
“That would require caring on my part,” Daria said. “If you’re so concerned about Stacy’s well-being, YOU go and ask Quinn.”
Jane grunted. “That’s harsh, Morgendorffer!”
Jodie giggled. “I said it before, and I will say it now. You two should really try to get into a comedy act for two.”
“This is sarcasm, not comedy humour,” Daria shook her head. “Besides, where would we perform? O’Neill’s café got closed and robbed, wasn't it?”
“When there’s a will, there’s a way,” Jodie shrugged.
“Ms. Li?” Mr. O’Neill’s perpetually scared face appeared in the doorway to the principal’s office.
“What is it, Mr. O’Neill?” Ms. Li said sharply.
“Did you know that Miss Landon…”
“Miss Landon already handed me both a written and oral explanation of her actions. I accepted.” Ms. Li’s eyes drilled O’Neill’s.
“Oh, uh, I see, eh. So what do we do now? If Miss Landon won't be any longer involved, then that leaves only a couple of students smart enough to step into her proverbial shoes, and none of them are as organized, active, or outspoken as Miss Landon.”
“Then you better constrict and do some changes in the clubs you're responsible for and pass-on the word to other teachers too,” Ms. Li said stiffly. “We're obviously for some rough weather ahead, extracurricular-activities-style. Nothing can be done about that. Is there anything else, Mr. O’Neill?”
“Then get out!”
Mr. O’Neill hurriedly left.
Ms. Li was alone once again, wondering about what she and Mr. O’Neill said to each other. That was the whole point, really, the rough weather ahead, extracurricular-activities-style. But there was nothing she could do about it. “Damn Mr. Landon,” she muttered. “What did his loving wife and daughter did, or say, to him to put him into such a physical state?” That Mrs. Landon and Jodie were behind it, she didn't doubt. Jodie appeared – and Mrs Landon sounded – too un-upset earlier today. Obviously, in their hearts, neither one too minded the toppling of Andrew Landon. And then there was Linda Griffin, behind who stretched a plume of semi-criminal rumours, something about a sister in North Dakota…
Ms. Li shook her head. As Daria Morgendorffer pointed-out, she must’ve overdone it with reading mystery novels.
It was when Sandi, Quinn and Tiffany entered, half-carrying half-dragging Stacy.
“What’s going on?” Ms. Li asked sternly.
“Stacy fainted,” replied Tiffany.
“Oh. Well, put her down on that chair, and leave her. She’ll catch-up with you later.”
When the other three girls left, Ms. Li shifted her attention on Stacy. Nothing complex; a simple faint that transformed into a natural sleep. Ms. Li shook her head. Pathetic. Now what to do about the upcoming storm on the extracurriculars?
It was then when the fire alarm rang.
When Ms. Li finally pulled Stacy out of the school building, she looked madder than Hell itself. “Who pulled the fire alarm?” she shouted.
Everybody simultaneously pointed at Kevin Thomson. “Mr. Thompson?” Ms. Li said, sounding icy cold.
“Um, well, I guess I sort-of kind-of pulled the handle there,” Kevin Thomson smiled uneasily.
“He won't get into trouble,” Daria whispered to Jane. “Ms. Li won’t risk ending-up without a quarterback, especially now that Jodie won’t be around to help-out with anything else.”
“Mr. Thomson,” Ms. Li was continued speaking to Kevin. “If you weren’t the quarterback, you would be in detention. But since the team won't properly function without you, your parents will be forced to pay for any damages this school has sustained due to your thoughtless act! You’ll get a letter for your parents later.”
“All right!” Kevin said with his goofy grin.
As everybody began to walk back to class, Jane turned to Daria: “Is it just me, or did Ms. Li was actually being fair and reasonable?”
Daria looked thoughtful. “An interesting question. Worth pondering about, at any rate. I'll give you a question some time after school. Deal?”
Ms. Li returned to her office (after first ensuring that Stacy Rowe would go to her next class and not some place else), and resumed her trail of thought.
All was in vain. Unless Andrew Landon would be up and running anytime soon, the Landon family will firmly go off the established track. And for Andrew Landon to be up and running anytime soon, a miracle was needed. Or a horse’s dose of such medicine, that Andrew Landon would become healthy quicker than in a sanatorium, and become active so fast that sparks would fly off his hands. In short, the same old miracle. And Angela Li was an atheist. She didn’t believe in miracles of God. Miracles of science – now that's another matter.
Hmm. Thoughts of science naturally led Angela Li’s thoughts to the science teacher, Janet Barch, who was also a man-hater (O’Neill didn't count). “I wonder,” Ms. Li said softly, “I really wonder. Is it worth a shot?” She paused. “Why not? This shot won't cost me anything.” She smiled.
“Hey, Angela! What are you doing here?” Ms. Barch asked Ms. Li who was sitting in the teachers’ lounge, looking rather gloomily.
“Musing over bad news, Janet,” Ms. Li replied, sounding as gloomy as she looked. “Jodie Landon resigned today from extracurricular activities – all of them.”
“Why? Is it of some no-good guy?”
“Well, sort of. It’s her father, Andrew Landon. He’s in the hospital.”
“Why that no-good bum! My ex also spent a lot of time in the hospital, especially with the nurses!”
“Now-now, Janet, not all men are so low like your ex. Andrew Landon, in particular, is in the hospital because he had a stroke, with some complications on the brain. I feel free to say that it’ll need some sort of a miracle of science to get him running. Any professional advice?”
“Oh, just you know, what are the achievements of science in that area? Is there any way to get Andrew Landon back on line before Jodie graduates from here? ‘Cause you know, how terrible a strain it would be on both her and her mother, if they had to take care of Andrew Landon all that time. Chief provider and bread winner indeed!”
Janet Barch’s face turned harsher than usual. Ms. Li saw that she was on the right track. “Actually yes, there is something,” the science teacher spoke. “Do you have that extract of convallaria majalis?”
“Yes, I have.”
“Well, according to this issue of science journal, if you mix the extract with those stimulants,” Ms. Barch wrote them down on a piece of paper, “you get this medicine that should solve all of your heart problems in a doozy.”
Ms. Li gave the other woman a sharp glance. “This science journal of yours must be interesting bedside companion,” she said.
“Yes! And unlike men, the magazines stay were you put them!”
Ms. Li tuned-out the other woman’s rumblings. The case has finally moved off the standing point.
Back in her office, Angela Li carefully shooed-away her euphoria. When dealing with Janet Barch, it should be always remembered that she hated men with a passion. As a result, Ms. Li decided, it would be best to act paranoid. After all, she did have the plant extract and the stimulants. But something gnawed at her. She was no scientist, she couldn't tell if the medication would help Andrew Landon or kill him. After all, he was a man, and when it came to men, Janet Barch’s logic and attitude did such… pretzels in the air, one couldn't imagine where they would end. As a result…
Ms. Li reached her decision. She re-phoned Michelle Landon.
“Yes?” For the second time today Angela Li heard Michelle Landon’s calm, controlled voice.
“Hello Mrs. Landon, it’s me again.”
“Ah, Ms. Li. What happened now? If it is about Jodie, then as I said before…”
“Mrs. Landon? It’s about your husband.”
There was a pause, and then Michelle Landon’s voice came back, but guarded now, not as casual as before. “What about Andrew?”
“I shared the bad news about him with our science teacher, Janet Barch, and she told me about a remedy for your husband’s condition.”
“Oh? What it is?”
Ms. Li silently cursed the poor condition of her phone, which didn't allow her to hear all subtleties of her interlocutress. “It's an extract of extract of convallaria majalis some stimulants,” Ms. Li explained, before quoting down the names of the stimulants. “Perhaps they’ll help you out with your husband’s conditions.”
“Thank you for your concern, Ms. Li,” Michelle Landon’s voice came back. This time, though Ms. Li’s phone wasn't first rate, Ms. Li clearly understood that Michelle Landon didn't want to know that. “But please, don't concern yourself with our family problems anymore, okay?” The words were polite and even friendly; the tone was anything but polite or friendly.
“Mhm. Good luck with your work.”
On the other end of the line, Michelle Landon put down the receiver.
Back in her office, Angela Li scratched her chin. It was clear now, that Michelle Landon didn't want her husband ‘back online’, to say so in techno-speak.
“Well fine,” Ms. Li spoke to herself. “It’s not my concern what happened in your family life; what concerns me is that this whole thing affects poorly Lawndale High.” She paused and red-dialled Lawndale’s hospital. “Hello, Roger Phillips.”
“Hello, Angela. What’s up?”
“Roger, when are the visiting hours for the patient Andrew Landon?”
“Why the sudden concern in his welfare?” the phrase sounded joking, but something in it made Angela Li tense-up.
“Oh, he was a good and generous donator to Lawndale High when it was down, so I feel that it would be reasonable and fair to visit him now that he is down.”
“Oh, then the visiting hours are from noon to sic p.m.,” Dr. Phillips replied.
“Mhm. Thanks. Bye.” Angela Li put down the receiver and turned thoughtful again.
“So Daria, what are you so thoughtful about?” Jane asked her friend, as they were walking to Daria’s house.
“The whole Landon situation,” Daria shrugged. “It's the buzz of the whole school, don't you know?”
“I would never thought that you’d be in tune with the whole school,” Jane replied.
“Yes, speaking of tunes, how do you think Jodie is taking it?”
“Surprisingly well, I must admit,” Jane spoke. “If this happened with us, Lanes, that would be natural. We barely know each other, you know? But Landons – they’re a typical close-knit family? Although, I suppose, the initial shock has worn-down by now?”
“Jane. This has happened the evening before today, and this morning Jodie is up to being as cool as a cucumber about it. What does this tell you about her?”
“That she’s… something is rotten in the kingdom of Land-mark?”
“Very good, Watson,” Daria nodded in agreement. “All know that Mr. Landon was used to running the household – single-handedly. This he accomplished by making his wife into a housewife.”
“Come now, you don't suppose that Mrs. Landon has did something to her husband with full assistance of Jodie?”
Daria shook her head. “Not Jodie, no. All of us kids are basically honest in the beginning; only under the tender loving care of the older folks we become who we are.”
“So you suppose that Mrs. Landon did it by herself?”
Daria stood still and began to massage her temples. “Wait a sec. I remember something from last night’s dinner. Aunt Amy has been asked by Linda Griffin to help her and Michelle Landon to persuade Andrew Landon to let Michelle Landon work for Linda Griffin’s company, ‘Gorgün’.”
“‘Gorgün’? What kind of a name is that?”
“Search me. Anyways, the meeting was a success, according to aunt Amy, so there was no need to do anything to Andrew Landon.” Daria shrugged and resumed walking. “Oh well. I guess this’ll be one unsolved mystery, eh, Jane?”
“Oh no it won’t yet!” Jane suddenly huffed-up. “You got my curiosity piqued-up; let’s go to the hospital now and see how Mr. Landon looks like.”
Angela Li did all step by step, all of her plan. She carefully amassed the concoction of the plant extract and the stimulants into a perfume bottle, which she put into a buttoned-breast pocket. Then she bought a bouquet of flowers – for a small sum. And then she finally drove to the hospital.
Sandi Griffin turned around. Sure enough, Michael Jordan Mackenzie approached her in his vehicle. “What do you want?” she asked.
“Am, first to apologize for any rumours or inconveniences you have experienced today,” Michael replied, feeling uncomfortable, “and secondly – see you tomorrow.” He quickly drove off, leaving Sandi looking thoughtful.
“Hmm,” she said. “He likes me. And I like him. We really must run into each other some time soon.”
She came home, looking thoughtful.
Daria and Jane were walking through the hospital floors. “You know, I don’t remember when it was the last time I've been here,” Jane was telling her friend.
“I think that it involved my rash, or something,” Daria replied flatly. “Furthermore, I don’t see why we should be here. As I pointed-out, there’s probably nothing mysterious or dangerous in Mr. Landon’s conditions.”
“Aw, come on, it’s fun! Do you really want to go home that badly?”
“It’s always fun at Casa Lane,” Daria replied.
Now it was turn of Jane’s voice to turn flat. “’Cause Penny’s around, you mean?”
“It’s a possibility. And speaking of relations, do you remember that Jodie almost wondered if we were sisters. Maybe you were adopted.”
“Or maybe they switched the babies in the hospital, you mean? Nah, not very likely. You don't have that artistic strain that us Lanes are so good.”
“Artistic strain? Jane, as an artist, you are equal to me, as a writer. I write as good as you paint.”
“Interesting point,” Jane said. “Hey, we’re here! Shall we go in?”
“Why not? It would stupid not to, now that we made such a huge detour from our homes.”
“Just asking, just asking!”
Ms. Li looked over Andrew Landon. Still unconscious and in stasis. “Not a very good sign,” she mumbled. “Still, I've got something to do about that.” She pulled-out her ‘perfume’ bottle.
“Ms. Li? What are you doing?”
Ms. Li slowly turned around. “Miss Morgendorffer, Miss Lane, I could ask you the same thing.”
“We're here to see how Mr. Landon is doing,” Jane said.
“Well, so did I. See the flowers?”
“And the perfume?” Daria said, giving Ms. Li a pointy look.
“Ah, well, can’t I have womanly accessories?”
Both Jane and Daria looked at Ms. Li in a funny way. She sighed. “Oh well, there’s always next time.” She looked back to Daria and Jane. “Miss Morgendorffer, you're one of the most sensible students in school. Can we and your friend have a private talk?”
“Why not,” Daria shrugged, “why not?”
Some time later they were sitting in Lawndale Square. “So what really brought you over to Mr. Landon’s ward?” Jane asked.
Ms. Li shrugged. “As you know, Jodie Landon has fully withdrawn today from her previously activity-filled social life. That’s not very good for Lawndale High.”
“The only way you get Jodie is back is by parents.”
“Mrs. Landon,” Angela Li shook her head, “is fully behind Jodie for a change, while Mr. Landon… won’t recover for a long, long time. And that's not good for Lawndale High at all.” Jane wanted to comment on that, but Daria prevented her. Not noticing that Ms. Li continued. “Miss Morgendorffer, do you read this scientific journal?”
Daria looked thoughtful. Then realization hit home. “You're talking about the 4th issue of this year?” she asked.
“You’ll have to talk with Janet Barch about this; she told me about it,” Ms. Li admitted. “Anyways, she gave me the recipe-“
“The recipe for what?” Jane interrupted. “Chicken soup?”
“No, Jane,” Daria shook her head. “A medicine that should really give the heart a boost. If Ms. Li administered it to Mr. Landon, he would’ve gone better – if he survived.” She looked back to Ms. Li, who shrugged, semi-embarrassed.
“What can I say? I played fair; I told Mrs. Landon about the ‘discovery’.”
“And that would sound very convincing on the jury, too.”
“Why, yes,” Ms. Li nodded. “If it was the worst case scenario, no one could’ve blamed me on anything. I merely asked Janet Barch for some advice to give to the Landons, and she gave it! And I passed it on to Mrs. Landon. End of story.”
“You're good,” Daria looked at Ms. Li with almost respect. “You weren’t always a principal, were you? It shows.”
Ms. Li preened a little. “Thank you for your kind words, Miss Morgendorffer, but speaking of my principality, our school will suffer if Miss Landon won’t reconsider.”
“You know something?” Jane spoke-up. “No offence, but you should really get a life outside school walls, Ms. Li.”
Ms. Li gave a thin-lipped smile to Jane. “I'm a bit too old for getting a new life, Miss Lane. I think I'll make this one run its’ course – ‘course, there’s always reincarnation on other end.”
“You believe in reincarnation?” Jane spoke, somewhat incredulously. “Do you know my sister Penny?”
Ms. Li smiled thinly again. “Yes, I remember her. A surly, uncooperative girl, who never participated in any sports despite all efforts of Samantha Morris. However, on the other hand, she was an expert in fleecing the other students in various gambling games – cards, dice, thimbles… By the time she graduated, at least half of the school was fleeced by her.”
“That’s our Penny,” Jane and Daria exchanged similarly smug looks.
“Am I missing something here?” Ms. Li raised an eyebrow. “How does Miss Morgendorffer know her?”
“It’s an old, old story,” Daria shook her head.
“Then do share it,” Ms. Li prompted.
“Another time,” Daria shook her head. “We really must be going now, Ms. Li.”
Ms. Li nodded, not to happily. “Very well, Miss Morgendorffer. I understand that. However, we really must get again some other time. Do you want a lift?”
Daria and Jane exchanged looks.
“Who exactly gave you a lift? I think I saw the car somewhere.”
“Oh, it was Ms. Li, our principal. She was driving past me and Jane and offered us a lift.”
“And you accepted?”
“Why shouldn’t I have accepted a free ride? This is our principal, for crying outloud.”
Helen shook her head. “Nevermind, Daria. You’ll just never cease to amaze us, it seems.”
“That’s me, the amazing Daria,” Daria Morgendorffer nodded, and went upstairs.
Michelle Landon sat in her office, thinking about Angela Li’s phone call. Lawndale High’s principal was unusually active for her; apparently, Jodie’s withdrawal from extracurricular activities really got to her. That worried Michelle. Angela Li was a rather persevering person. Michelle needed some advice. She dialled a number.
In another state, a phone rang. “Yes?” a woman spoke into it.
“Hello, Stephanie. It’s me, Michelle.”
“Ah, Michelle. Long time, no see, or rather – no hear. What can I do for you today?”
“Stephanie, I need some advice. You see, I’m back in the working force.”
“Oh? And where do you work?”
“I'm a business manager.”
“Not bad, since you’ve been out of action for a long, long time.”
“That is true.”
“So how does your husband respond to you being back in action?”
“That's what I wanted to talk to you. You see, he didn't like the idea, but I decided to go to work all the same. He became unhappy and tried to take it out on Jodie. Jodie rebelled too, and yelled some pretty unexpected things. That got too much for Andrew and he had heart attack.”
“So far so good.”
“Now, some shifts had to be made. I got to go to work and Jodie pulled-out of all extracurricular activities she was in before.”
“This displeased her high school principal, Ms. Li, so the woman is now snooping around, worrying the Hell out of me. What should I do?”
“Explain all of this to her. Hopefully, that’ll lay her off. Although, did you say Li? – Nah, just tell her the truth and all will be cool.”
“You don't get it, Stephanie. The woman isn’t interested in the truth; she wants Jodie back to her old ways.”
“Sounds to me, like you’ve got something of a quiet, unrecognized social revolution underway in there. Old ways, new ways, the truth…”
“Whatever! Stephanie, seriously. What can you advise me to get Angela Li of my back?”
“Write a note of complaint to her superintendent. Hopefully, he’ll tell her to back-off. Other than that, I don’t see any first-hand solution; and besides, the situation isn't dangerous.”
Michelle sighed. “Look. Can you at least come to Lawndale for a while? You can stay at our place – Andrew won't be there anyways.”
“Ah! I see now your plan, Michelle. It all boils down to the same old, I believe.”
Michelle’s cheeks grew red. “I don’t care what you’re talking about Stephanie; will you get over here or not?”
“Well, why not. I could use a change of scenery. Williston has gotten stale anyway. See you soon, I suppose.”
“See you soon.”
Michelle Landon hanged-up, and sighed: “What am I getting into?”
“Aunt Amy? Can I come in and speak with you?”
“Of course, Daria. What do you want to talk about? And it is just Amy, remember?”
“Uh-huh, Amy. Look, our high school principal called me into her office, and along other things, told me to tell you to watch-out for your friend Linda Griffin.”
“Whoa there! Since when does your high school principal knows my supposed ‘friendship’ with Linda Griffin?”
“I think from the Landons. The Afro-American family?”
“Oh, them. I see. Go on.”
“There isn't much to go on. She, basically, just told me that Linda Griffin is trouble, and that she has a sister that is even more troublesome; that is all.”
Amy grew thoughtful. “Hmm. Actually, yesterday me and Linda just patched-up the things between the two of us.”
“Why? Why were they broken in the first place?”
“I got Linda’s old job and still have it. Anyways, that’s when she and Helen have first met, too.”
“Oh really? Mom doesn't speak to us about that.”
“I suppose not. Your mother doesn't like to talk about her achievements; serious ones, anyways. Anyhow, Linda’s sister. I think, something was mentioned on that topic yesterday by Linda. Apparently, there is some tension between Linda and her sister. Hmm. I wonder what could disturb Gorgon so much.”
“Ex-cuse me? Disturb who so much?”
“Gorgon. Linda. Gorgon was Linda’s nickname ten years ago. Still is, for what I know. Why the surprise. Don't you know what a Gorgon is?”
“Oh, I know that. But did you know that Linda’s company is called ‘Gorgün’?”
“‘Gorgün’? That’s weird. What is Linda nowadays, anyways? I heard that she was in business…”
“I don’t know. Maybe we should ask mom,” Daria suggested.
“Ask mom what?” Quinn appeared in the doorway.
“What does Sandi’s mom do for a living,” Daria replied, wondering if the answer to that question wasn't standing in the doorway.
“Oh. That’s easy. Sandi’s mom has an import-export business,” Quinn said. “She’s got offices here, in Gloucester, and in Salem and Exeter in New Hampshire. That’s what Sandi told me.”
“Thanks, Quinn,” Amy said.
“You're welcome,” Quinn chirped and was off.
Daria and Amy looked at each other. “And once again, the mystery is solved,” Daria said flatly. “Linda Griffin doesn’t do anything obviously illegal or shady, and the name of her company probably derives from her sense of humour.”
“What kind of a humour makes a person name her company ‘Gorgün’?” Daria said. “And by the way, why was she nicknamed Gorgon anyways? Was it her hair?”
“More like her attitude,” Amy shrugged. “I don't know the details of that, you know?” She paused. “So what do you want to do before dinner?”
“Dinner is ready!” Helen yelled from downstairs.
Dinner at the Morgendorffers went as orderly as usually: the weekend was over.
“So what’s for dinner today?” Jake asked Helen, as Daria, Helen and Quinn descended from upstairs.
“The usual – lasagne.”
“Aw shucks. You sure that we ate all the cod yesterday?”
(Uh-oh, the other two Morgendorffers and one Barksdale thought.)
“Yes Jake, I’m sure.”
“Too bad that you can't go fish more often, dad, ‘cause then we would have fish like that more often,” Daria said.
“What a great idea!” Jake said, excitedly.
Quinn shot Daria a killer look. “Dad, I don't think so. Catches like that one – they probably come real once a year. Maybe we should try something else the next time.”
“Good idea! We’ll go camping once again!” Jake enthusiastically said.
“Dad!” said Daria.
“Jake!” said Helen.
“What?” said Jake.
“It cost us several thousands just to be rescued!” Helen said. “And we didn't accomplish anything specific, either.”
“Never fear,” Jake said carefree. “This time, we’ll come prepared for trouble!”
“But what about aunt Amy?” Quinn protested.
“Never fear – she’ll come too,” Jake chuckled. “We’ll might need rescuing, you know?”
Daria shook Amy a pitying look. Amy shrugged.
“And now it’s off – for us – to dinner!” Jake finished saying.
“We’ll talk more about that later,” Helen said, indicating that the talk was not finished.
The girl nervously stood, looking at the Morgendorffer house. Did she really want to do that?
Yes. Otherwise she just might go crazy.
She knocked on the door.
A man opened it. “Can I speak to Daria, please?” the girl asked, politely.
The man (Daria’s dad?) blinked and said: “Yes, sure, wait a sec. Daria!”
“Daria! Your friend is here!” Jake’s voice came from downstairs.
Daria groaned. “Can't I ever get some peace and quiet?” All the same, she went downstairs.
Downstairs was a surprise: Andrea Hecuba, the Goth girl from Lawndale High, was standing near the doorway, looking nervous. “Uh, Daria, can I speak to you?”
“Sure, Andrea,” Daria nodded. “What’s the problem?”
Andrea looked around, saw nobody (Jake left a long time ago), and whispered, conspirationally: “Auras!”
“Auras?” Daria asked, confused.
“Yes, auras. They’re off balance, especially of Jodie and her mom.”
“How can you tell?”
“I can sense them, see them, whatever! And I’m telling you – the whole colour scheme is off! And it’s spreading!”
“So why are you telling me?”
“’Cause you’re like the smartest girl in school! You can do something!”
“What do you mean, something? How can I do something when I don't know what I’m – we’re – up against!”
“I don't know either,” Andrea shook her head. “But it is evil. Something evil this way comes, and it affects people in Lawndale. Linda Griffin, Ms. Li, Jodie’s mom, Jodie herself – their aura colours are off-colour!”
“And so you want me to stop this evil?”
“No. I'm not a hero.”
“But you’re smart! Find a hero!”
“To stop something evil that we have only one word for – yours. Andrea, I don’t want to insult you, but I scarcely even know you! Maybe you should go and talk with Ms. Li; you and auras and she and reincarnation will probably reach a mutual understanding.”
“Ms. Li believes in reincarnation? Impossible! Her aura colour is all-wrong for that! Unless,” Andrea paused, “she isn't human. Than—it all makes sense.”
“You know something, Andrea,” Daria said conversationally. “I like to keep an open mind, but Ms. Li not human – nah, too bizarre. Have a good evening.” She got up.
“Wait!” Andrea yelled. “Scoff at me if you want, but remember – if anything goes wrong, it’s your fault!”
“Fine!” Daria replied and closed the door.
Once she was left on her own, however, Daria started to have second thoughts. After all, Andrea may’ve been a Goth, but she wasn’t crazy. Besides, there was a logical seed in the midst of all her rumbling about auras and non-human principals of Lawndale High: things were stirring-up in the once placid town of Lawndale.
Daria phoned Jane.
“Hey, amiga! What’s up?” Jane called-out.
“I just had the weirdest experience of today’s,” Daria replied. “Tell me Jane, what do you know about auras?”
“Not much,” Jane replied. “Why do you ask?”
“Well, the Goth girl from our school, Andrea, just gave me a brief visit, saying stuff about auras that were off-balance, unknown evil that was coming to Lawndale, and the secret of Ms. Li – in that order.”
There was a pause. “Daria, can I have the long version, please? I can’t comprehend the constricted one.”
“That is the long version! Andrea didn’t tell me much other than that some sort of evil was spreading to Lawndale, that I – being the smartest person in Lawndale, at least in Andrea’s version of it – have to stop it, and when I mentioned that Ms. Li believed in reincarnation, Andrea totally spaced-out and started to saying that in order for Ms. Li to believe in reincarnation with her aura, she’d have to be non-human.”
“You know,” Penny Lane, Jane’s sister, and Daria’s older friend wedged-into conversation, “maybe Andrea’s not so much of the mark. I mean, do you know the folklore of the countries. It is full of-“
“Penny,” Daria spoke firmly. “Can you imagine Ms. Li as a yeti? Or a demon, for that matter? Or even an alien?”
“No, that’s DeMartino,” said Jane, remembering the time when the whole of Lawndale High was plunged into the depths of greater confusion by the federal government, and DeMartino was dragged, screaming-away, in handcuffs. As it was later found-out, Ms. Barch had a hand in it…
“Not that kind of alien, Jane!” Daria snorted.
“What are you two talking about?” Penny persisted.
“Stuff. Mr. O’Neill declared that we were atomic communists,” Jane said. “Well, that was Daria. I was from Jupiter originally, but Daria traded it with me for Cuba.”
“You two haven't been playing ‘Risk: the game of global domination’ in school or after it, have you?” Penny asked, mock-suspiciously.
“No, that’s the real, unvarnished truth,” Jane answered. “So what do you think, Penny? Is Andrea just crazy and making-up that something evil is coming in Lawndale, and Ms. Li isn’t human, or is she just making it up?”
‘Hmm,” Penny sounded thoughtful. “I wouldn't write-off that Andrea girl as a loon yet. After all, if I and that aunt Amy of Daria’s didn't come to town the last weekend, nothing of today’s would be happening, would it?”
“So, the once-static town of Lawndale is changing, shifting into chaos before a new order must re-emerge. As a result, during that unknown amount of chaos, anything may slip-in – good or bad. As for Ms. Li and her species – I won't get into that. At all.”
“Thank god for that,” Jane agreed. “Daria?”
“I think I heard something along those lines today,” Daria said thoughtfully. “Was it Jodie or Ms. Li?”
“What did you hear?”
“I don't remember right now; maybe it is my memory playing tricks on me. But old order, chaos, new order – this all sounds suspiciously revolutionary to me.”
“You're telling me?” Penny archly said. “I've participated in one or two firsthand. And believe me, when a revolution is all around you and you're a part of it, it is even less amusingly hilarious than when you see it on TV.”
“Undoubtedly,” Daria agreed.
“So now all is left is Ms. Li’s secret identity,” Jane interrupted.
“That’s a bit more hard,” Penny agreed. “Tell you what? I'll meditate on it, and when I'm finished – I'll let you know, okay?”
“Fine,” the other two girls agreed.
Angela Li sat in her house, having problems of her own. “Linda Griffin is somehow involved in this, that I know!” she spoke to herself. “The last time her name appeared on my radar, I lost my first job! It won't happen again! I don’t care what happens with Landons, I just want to have Miss Landon back in her old sociable role!” Ms. Li’s were flashing, as she angrily stalked in her secret room. “Miss Landon will be back, even if I have to turn… no, even if I have to wreck her mother’s and Linda’s plans brick by brick! And I will do it, yes!”
Ms. Li paused and looked in the old, round mirror that hanged in her room. It was old and convex-shaped. It distorted Ms. Li’s reflection, making it appear almost demonic. “First, however,” she sighed, “I’m going to have a good meal. And a sleep.”
“Linda, I want to talk with you.”
“Sure, Michelle.” A pause. “I've noticed that you waited till after-work-hours to talk with me, so it isn’t exactly job-related, the talk, I mean?”
“Well, yes. See, you know our high school principal?”
“Angela Li? Yes. Is she making trouble?”
“She might. She certainly won’t be taking Jodie’s change of heart lying down. Anyways, I've invited a friend over, Stephania Hakiojapoulos, to ensure that all will be well, and I just want to tell you, Linda, that she’ll be around, so no misunderstandings will arise… Linda, are you okay?”
Linda Griffin forced herself to appear peaceful. “Oh yeah, I’m just fine,” she said. “Well, thanks for telling me this, Michelle, ta-ta?”
Michelle Landon left, leaving Linda alone.
As soon as Michelle left, Linda exploded. “What?! She is coming over here! Over my dead body will she remain here, then!” she began to angrily stalk the empty storey. “This means territorial war, damn it! I am Linda Griffin! I will not let Vicki – or whatever she calls herself now – ruin my life again! I will take her, and I will break her into thousands of pieces! I WILL MAKE HER PAY!”
Angrily, Linda stared in the mirror. Her ‘trademark’ wavy hair was dishevelled, her eyes almost flashed with lightning, her teeth were bared like fangs – a real gorgon of a woman.
Slowly, Linda Griffin began to compose herself. “All is not over,” she exhaled, “all is not over. Amy Barksdale is in town, and perhaps… I'll enlist her help. I am Linda Griffin! I will not go down without a fight, even to her.”
Linda turned around and went downstairs. She had calmed down considerably by then, and so it was a cool, calm, collected businesswoman that entered ‘Gorgün’s’ now near-empty parking lot, and not a rabid gorgon…
Penny Lane was meditating. She had picked it up some time ago, make it a lot of time ago, make it eleven years ago… It was all in the mind, she was taught, and she knew – she presumed she knew – what was going-on in her mind. And besides – she had done it before – Brazil, Paraguay, even Madagascar… And each time it was different.
Lawndale didn't resemble any of them, either.
Penny Lane’s spiritual body was floating over Casa Lane, looking over Lawndale from a bird’s-eye-view. Lawndale in spiritual realm resembled Lawndale in the physical realm – a small, non-descript little town, made out of so many colours that it was all grey.
Penny expanded her eye-view over Lawndale’s borders and things changed. From north-west a strand of blackness was reaching, not quite in Lawndale vicinity proper yet, but affecting the town all the same. How? – Penny wasn’t too sure.
“Well, I must have prerogatives,” Penny told herself, and re-focused her attention on the Lawndale proper. “Hello, what’s this?” Something was streaking through a street of Lawndale – something, that resembled a comet, which meant that that something had a double-bottom, something to hide, in short. Penny extended a strand of her being and reached for the ‘comet’.
She then received the biggest shock of her life so far.
The woman, driving a car in Lawndale, suddenly jerked from sudden pain. It was as if somebody struck her on the head with a saw, slicing it half-open, all the way to the core.
Filling her with pain.
But the pain now has withdrawn, the core was hidden once again. Shuddering, the woman drove home.
“Penny, are you okay? Penny?”
“Yeah, I’m fine, what’s the sudden all about, Jane?”
“For a moment there – you looked like a fish out of the water.”
“Pale and with mouth opening?”
“With tongue protruding and with eyes bulging,” Jane admitted. “And your hair was standing on end, too.”
Penny looked thoughtful. “This answers something. Andrea is right – something is odd in Lawndale. I don’t know if it is Ms. Li, though; it’s somebody else.”
“Great,” Jane shook her head, “just great. You remind me of that crazy prophet guy from Moby Dick.”
Penny raised an eyebrow. “You read Moby Dick, Jane?”
Jane looked sheepish. “The imagery, Penny, the imagery! I thought about doing some sea-life art-work – and then Daria told me some Jung and his symbols…”
“There’s only one type of symbols that could put you off a potential art-work, and that’s sexual one. Although, there are many interpretations for Moby Dick, I was told, not necessarily sexual ones.”
“And on that pleasant note, we’ll contact Daria and her aunt, and tell them to keep eyes and ears open and other senses extended?” Jane asked.
Penny nodded, and looked at the sky, which was just turning overcast. “Yes. This day is not over.”