Author's Note: Daria Morgendorffer and her fellow characters from Daria are owned by MTV/Viacom. Any other characters in this story are the property of Doggieboy. This is fan fiction and no money or other items of value have been exchanged for this story.
A Little Vacation
Part Two: Robert's World
"I think I found something," Trent said as he read one notebook. "'Small-scale tele...tele...teleportion experiments a success from room to room. The mouse survived the transport and suffered no ill effects. Return trip feature worked perfectly.'"
Jane grabbed the notebook, pulled it sideways and looked at it briefly. "'Teleportation', Trent," she said and released the book.
"Oh. The next entries had him 'teleporting' the mouse from house to house...then across town...then across the county. The return feature, whatever that is, worked perfectly, as well." He read on for several seconds, then added, "They tried a long distance one here. 'Contacted Jim Thurman in Fostoria to watch for the mouse at the assigned coordinates. He called the mouse the package and now calls himself Spotter, as if he were play acting in some spy thriller. Jim may be a simpleton, but at least he's reliable and honest. Unlike Dr. Casey.'"
"Sounds like this guy Stone's diary," Jane said and looked at the bound man.
"'Teleported mouse at 3:20 p.m.,'" Trent said as he continued to read. "'Jim reports, however, that the mouse didn't arrive. I tried to return the mouse, but failed. I confirmed all my settings and sent a second mouse at 3:50 p.m. Same results. Jim somehow has screwed up, but I don't know how yet.
"'Dr. Casey wants to halt the experiments until he can contact Colonel...' I can't read the name...Baker, I think. 'The damned fool! Casey doesn't care if I lose my funding. In fact, I think that's what he wants.'"
The old man groaned and Jane said, "Hold up, bro." She turned around in the chair and leaned over on the back rest. She saw the old man glare up at her and smiled at him. "I know you don't care, 'Doctor' Stone, but I want my friend back. You are going to help us got her back."
"M-mck moo!" he said through his gag.
Jane's smile widened. "You'll never be that lucky."
"Janey!" Trent said. "Listen to this! 'I incap...inca...'hell, I think it means he knocked out...'Dr. Casey, tied him up in his chair and teleported him to Fostoria. Had the same result as with the mice, but this time, I tried the return feature to bring him back. After 10 minutes, all that came back was the chair and part of the ropes...' oh, s***."
"What? What is it?" she asked.
"'...all covered in dried blood. A partially decomposed hand laid on the seat.'" He looked at Jane briefly, then looked away.
Jane's face paled and she said, "Daria." Then she jumped over the chair and landed on the man's midsection. She rammed her right knee into his groin and yelled in his face, "What did you do to her? What did you do to Daria?"
Stone cried out in pain and when Jane clamped her hands on his throat, he struggled to breathe. His eyes rolled up in his head as she choked him.
Trent pulled his sister away from the man and said, "Jane, stop it! He can't help us if he's dead!"
Jane shook as she forced herself to calm down and leaned down next to his face. "You better help us get our friend back, you bastard, and she better be alive and unharmed." She pulled the gag away from his mouth. "Now tell us what do we do to get her back."
"Stick it up your ass!"
She gave him a small smile. "You better help us or I'll hurt you bad."
"You don't have the stones, bitch."
Daria came out of the shower room and held the robe to her neck tightly as she walked to find her rescuer. "Mr. Nelson?" she asked, her voice uncertain as she looked around.
Buster stuck his head out of one open door, looked at her briefly, then retreated back into the room.
She followed the dog, but only saw the beagle as he hid under a bed. She walked on down the hall.
She found the man in another bright room as he placed plates of food inside some sort of wooden cases with mirrors and aimed the mirrors at the window. He was out of the chain mail and wearing jeans, a T-shirt and running shoes. She saw that he had brownish-gray hair that extended to his shoulders. He looked to be in his forties, but very fit, based on the muscle definition in his arms. He doesn't even look heavy. He looks like one of those infomercial guys who sell those exercise machines.
"Excuse me, Mr. Nelson..." she said.
"Call me Robert. I'm a working man, not a boss."
"Uh...O.K., Robert. I need some clothes to wear. I don't want to go around in a robe like this."
He looked at her briefly, then looked away as he saw her blush. "Go down to the end of the hall to room seventeen - 'Mrs. Einstead' is what the door says. There are all sorts of clothes in there, including...um, underwear."
Daria looked down, blushed even deeper, and walked down the hall. A tall window with a closed Venetian blind stood at the end of the hall and she made a small opening to look outside.
She saw at least thirty zombies in different locations, including one group of ten that had treed some sort of animal which simply leaped to other trees to escape. With a shudder, she looked away and entered room seventeen.
Several minutes later, she returned in an ankle-length green skirt and a long-sleeved blue pullover blouse. "What are you doing?" she asked Robert as he adjusted the wooden cases slightly.
"Fixing dinner," he said. "These are solar-powered cookers, built from plans in an old issue of The Mother Earth News."
Daria looked them over and shook her head. Interesting. "Did you build them?"
He shook his head. "No, Maggie did. We camped out a lot and she was into making anything that used the sun or wind to power things. A little fan on a pole gave us light in the tent at night." He sighed. "She...was the handyman...woman...of the house."
She saw his features fall as he spoke and asked, "Can you show me what to do to so I can wash my laundry?"
"Oh, I can do that," he said quickly and perked back up. "You're my guest."
"If it's all the same to you, I'd rather do it myself, please."
He smiled briefly, then took her back to the shower room to show her what to do.
Stone groaned through the gag as Jane held a cooling cigarette lighter in her left hand. She handed it to her brother and said, "Get it hot again, Trent."
"Talk to him first," he said. "Give him a chance to talk."
Two red rings decorated the old man's face and a third ring had blistered on the top of his chest.
Jane pulled the gag out of his mouth and asked, "Now how do we get Daria back?"
"The return feature...it's...it's imprecise," the man said, his voice weak. A choked sob escaped his lips. "It didn't work right the last time I tried it. I don't know why yet." He looked up at the window, but only saw the sky and some clouds. "Don't burn me anymore, I beg you. I'll talk. I'll talk."
"Why are you doing this?" Trent asked.
Jane started to snap at her brother, but the old man gathered his wits, cleared his throat and said, "Think about it! Teleportation - the ability to travel great distances - without using a car, train or plane." He saw the girl glare at him and said quickly, "Let me explain it, please. Let me talk. Suppose that you had a terrorist hiding in a hostile country who you wanted to capture. With my device, I can teleport special forces-type soldiers to the terrorist's location. They'd have him back here and in custody before the hostile country would even know about it. Or suppose that you and a loved one wanted a Valentine's Day dinner in Paris? You just teleport to Paris for dinner, then come back home in time to do your homework. It's the best way to break our dependence on foreign oil."
"Why did Dr. Casey want you to stop?" Trent asked.
"He was an idiot! The fool actually believed that I had created a 'death-ray' or a 'trans-dimensional wormhole'. I don't have the right materials for a laser and there are no other universes. The idiot!"
"What?" Trent was obviously very confused by what he just heard.
"Enough of this!" Jane said. "What do we do to bring Daria back."
"Release me and I'll do it for you. Only I can operate the device right."
The girl laughed and shook her head. "I'm not that stupid. Tell me what to do. But if you screw it up, I'll screw you up. Remember that."
"What do you think happened to Dr. Casey?" Trent asked.
The old man looked at him and said, "I don't know. But the blood was dried...as if it had been there for hours...or days. But the chair was only gone for ten minutes. There's some sort of time variation that I've never encountered before. Plus there was the hand."
"Whose hand was it?" Jane asked.
"I don't know," Stone said and blinked. "It wasn't Dr. Casey's. I don't understand what went wrong. The return feature always worked fast before. It didn't this time. Nor the other times."
"What other times?" the brother and sister asked in unison.
"I've done this particular test nine times before today."
Jane and Trent looked at each other in shock.
"You shot eight people...zombies," Daria said as he placed silverware and napkins on the table. "Doesn't that affect your appetite?"
Robert shrugged and looked at her. "At first, it did," he said. "Hunger eventually overrides nausea. You think you'll be O.K. enough to eat?"
"Right now, I'm living on canned food, at least until the use-by date runs out. I don't have any bread or crackers. Sorry."
Daria sat at the table as he placed a plate of ravioli on a quilted pot holder and set it in front of her. "How come you're staying in a dead city? Wouldn't the country be a better place?"
"This is my hometown," he said. "I...I don't count on lasting too much longer." He cleared his throat and looked away from her. "I have bottled water and canned soft drinks. What would you like?"
"Do you have Ultra Cola?"
He looked at her and shook his head. "Never heard of Ultra Cola. I've got RC Cola, however, as well as Big K Cola and Faygo Cola. It's warm, but it is carbonated."
"I like RC," she said, but thought, Ugh. Warm pop.
He set two cans of RC on the table and set his plate down on another quilted pot holder. Then he poured some dry dog food in a bowl for Buster.
As Robert sat down, he handed Daria a road map for Maryland. "Show me where Lawndale is, Daria. I'm not good with maps. Show me where you're from."
Daria opened the map and looked around the Baltimore area. "Uh...hold on." She went to the detailed map of the Baltimore area and its suburbs and looked more than a minute. Then she shook her head. "It's not here."
He nodded and said, "Lawndale, Maryland, does not exist...in this universe."
The road map fell to the floor and she stared at him. "I don't understand. Where am I then?"
Robert sighed and shook his head. "I'm really not sure," he said. "There's a lot of things I don't know, but I've had time to think on this since the Lawndale people started showing up. I think there's multiple universes...multiple Earths. Pretty much the same, but all different in some ways." He laughed and sipped some of his drink. "I could be wrong - very wrong. But it's as good a guess as any, I suppose."
Daria ate some of her food as she thought over what he said.
"I need you to tell me exactly what happened before you showed up here, Daria."
She looked up at him, then back at her food. "My friend Jane and I were coming home from school. We're juniors at Lawndale High. This old man jumped out in front of us and he held a box in front of himself. Jane jumped away and yelled at me to look out as he pushed something on the box...I think. A light came all around me. The next thing I know I was in that neighborhood where you found me."
"The house where I rescued you, was it the one you showed up at?"
"No. It's a couple of blocks away. A two-story white house with a bad paint job."
He made notes on a notepad next to his plate. "Describe the old man."
"He was tall and skinny," Daria said. "He was bald except for fringe of white hair. His eyes bulged out."
Robert nodded. "That's what Billy told me."
He looked at her and saw her right eye glisten, then her left.
"I want to go home."
"I don't know how it can be done, Daria. I think...the old man found a way to connect universes, to travel between them. Everyone he's sent over were guinea pigs. I know it sounds crazy, but its the only thing that makes sense to me. The only plan I have is to be there the next time he sends someone over. Maybe you can return the same way. I found Billy and Kay Daniels..."
"Kay Daniels?" She removed her glasses and wiped her eyes with the napkin.
"That's what her real estate business card said. I found them near where I found you. I think all of you showed up at the same house, between three and four in the afternoon. Every time one of you showed up, there's been thunder and a weird sound, like a strange electronic whine." He sighed. "I was unprepared for your visit and was almost too late."
"So you think that if we're there everyday between three and four...I might be able to get back?"
"That's the theory. There's something you need to know. None of the houses there are secure and all the gasoline is already going bad. I haven't driven anything in five months. I need to outfit you in chain mail and get you armed before we even try it."
"Where did you get chain mail?"
"One of Maggie's friends went to Kent State in college. He was a member of...hell, what was it? Oh! Something called the SCA."
"The Society for Creative Anachronism?"
"Yeah, that's it! He made suits for himself and others. Even had a website where he sold them. He offered to make me a suit for $1,500, but I couldn't afford it. When the dead rose, he was killed and I remembered his chain mail and took all that was at his place." He tapped the table. "If I can get you back, there's something you must do."
"Kill the son of a bitch who's doing this and destroy his machine. I may be wrong still, but if he's found a way to send people here, what if he brings a bunch of zombies to your universe?"
Daria stared at him in shock.
"When they first appeared here, it took the authorities five days to realize what to even do!" He shook his head. "The same thing could happen on your world. It only took three months for everything to fall apart on this world."
She closed her eyes and shivered at the thought.
For dessert, Robert gave Daria two Snickers bars and took two for himself. "Normally, I limit myself to one of these a day, but this is a celebration."
"I was taken from my hometown and brought here against my will," Daria said, her voice petulant. "I don't think it's anything to celebrate."
He blushed, sighed and said, "I apologize. But we still have something to celebrate. God knows I have little to celebrate anymore. But you are alive, unbitten and really, all you suffered was some embarrassment."
The memory of wetting herself made Daria blush and she ate one candy bar in silence.
He ate one candy bar quickly and sighed in contentment. "They're still pretty good, considering they're more than a year old," he said and looked at her. "I owe you another apology."
She looked up at him and asked, "Oh?"
"I held onto your thigh during our run to my shelter," he said. "I'm sorry about having to do that, but I had to hold you in place so I didn't drop you. I don't think you could have run very well in those Doc Martens anyway."
"I don't run at all," she said and gave him a weak smile. "It's against my beliefs. Do those things run?"
"No," he said and shook his head. "They don't really have to. Once they're aware of you being nearby, they're able to home in on you. They also have the ability to work together to cut off escape routes - without any kind of communication. That's how so many people died at the beginning."
"How many people did Fostoria have before...?" she asked.
Robert laughed, a short and bitter laugh. "Nearly fourteen thousand."
Daria blinked and shuddered. "Are you the only one left?"
"As far as I know. The thing is that there are so many dead here in the city, and I don't know how many of them were originally from Fostoria. Many of the dead here could be from the surrounding communities. Hell, some of them could even be from as far away as Findlay or Tiffin or even Toledo." He ate the second candy bar, finished his soft drink and stretched. "I now apologize for being a rude host, but I'm going to bed."
Daria looked confused. "But the sun's just now going down."
"I know that," he said. "I used a lot of energy today and anymore, I find that when it gets dark out, I get very tired. I'm not as well fed as I used to be." He stood up, yawned and stretched again. "I used to make do with five hours of sleep. Now I get ten to twelve hours a day. I understand that you aren't tired. Tomorrow morning, I'll fit you for some chain mail and get you some weapons. Do you like to read?"
"Yes." She stood up as well.
"Come with me." He closed the curtain before they left the room. Then he led her to an office that had an already-made bed as well as a desk and a couch. It looked like a private college dorm room. "I anticipated having other survivors living with me. After Lauren and Janelle left, it was just me and Buster."
"Who were Lauren and Janelle?" she asked.
Robert looked out the window at the setting sun and blinked. "They were the only other survivors from our first rescue shelter," he said and turned to her. "The Holiday Inn Express on the north side of town was the rescue shelter for our neighborhood. Two hundred of us were in there. Some of the people there were already bitten, but hid it from us. When they died..." He closed his eyes and covered his face with his hands.
Daria stood embarrassed as he cried into his hands. She touched the back of his right shoulder and said, "I'm sorry."
He waved his right hand and wiped his eyes. "I'm sorry," he said. "I shouldn't put your through my loss like that. Not only did I lose Maggie there, but our three children died as well."
"How did you survive?"
"I was on corpse disposal duty," he said. "When the truck came back to the hotel, the zombies were going in and out of the building. The driver of the truck took off and left me out there with a pistol and a crowbar." He took a deep breath. "The realization that my family was dead made me...I...I went beserk. I don't know how many I beat down with the crowbar. Janelle showed up with an arsenal and shot up a bunch of them, then forced me into her truck. I fought her and she cold-cocked me. If it was for her and Lauren, I'd be dead right now."
"Where did Lauren and Janelle go?"
"Montana. Clear, open spaces, few people - few zombies. They made it, cause they called me on the cell phone. Damn thing still worked, even though we had no power. It took them almost a month, but they made it. I hope they don't get bothered. They're vicious when they're pissed."
Daria looked confused. "Why would they get bothered?"
Robert sighed and glanced at her. "They're bisexuals. They killed one yahoo here because he pushed them over it." He yawned again. "Daria, you know where the bathroom and the books are. Use a candle for light, but keep the curtains closed, please. I still fear the possibility of a mass attack by the dead." He rubbed his right eye. "Good night."
Daria watched him disappear in the office where Buster hid earlier. The dog watched her cautiously and followed Robert in his room. He shut the door and she moved to her room. She lit the candle in the holder and shivered as she found herself alone. I don't like being all alone right now. But he scares me, too. What if he gets horny? After all, beggars can't be choosers and I could be the main course on his menu. What do I do then?
Quietly, she walked to the room with the books and began her search for something interesting to read.
"I'll make a deal with you," Dr. Stone said from the floor of the van.
"Oh?" Jane said and smirked at him from the chair. "What makes you think you're in the position to bargain?"
The old man gave her a smile and said, "I know how to operate my machine. You do not."
"What kind of deal?" Trent asked and crossed his arms over his chest. "All we want is Daria, safe and sound."
Stone nodded and said, "I'll help you get your friend back and you let me go - with my van and my machine. We'll be even and you'll never see me again."
Jane stared at him for several seconds, then looked at Trent, who asked, "What if Daria's dead - like Dr. Casey?"
"We do not know that Dr. Casey is dead!" the old man said quickly. "Is your friend a smart girl?"
Jane nodded. "She's very smart."
"That's good," Stone replied. "She'll be O.K., then. Don't worry, I'll help you get her back."
Daria sighed as she moved on to the fifth (or was it the sixth?) stack of books. Damn, I miss Jane. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. I miss Mom, Dad and Quinn, too. I...I hope I get back home.
Though she wasn't a religious person, she debated praying to get home. She finally shook her head and continued her search.
Halfway down the stack, she saw the words "...When Parents Pounce! When Makeup Smears! When Milk Starts Getting That Smell!" on one book, but couldn't see the artwork with it.
"Sounds interesting," she said and pulled it out. When she turned it over, she froze and her mouth dropped open in shock. The cover showed an auburn-haired teen in round glasses, a green jacket, an orange pullover blouse, a black pleated skirt and a pair of Doc Martens. When she read the words The Daria Database, she exhaled and muttered, "Oh, shit!"
After several seconds, she turned to dig through another stack. The look on her face showed a strong determination.
Nearly an hour later, Daria sat up on the bed, the covers pulled up to shoulders. The book she had found laid on the bedside table. She blinked as she thought about what she had read.
I need Jane more than ever now, she thought as she set her glasses on the table. I don't know what the hell to think now.
The door to her room was not only closed, but she had locked it and placed a chair against the doorknob.
She grabbed her book bag, opened it and placed the books in with her school gear. Then she set the bag back on the floor, blew out the candle and then laid on her left side. After several seconds, she adjusted the covers and partially covered her head.
It took Daria almost two hours to fall asleep. But she opened her eyes as she heard the door open. Before she could move, she felt a strong hand clamp onto her mouth. Oh, no! Oh, shit no!
"Relax," she heard Robert's voice in her right ear. "No need to get tense. I'll be gentle, I'll be kind. I won't hurt you at all."
Then she felt the back of the nightshirt tear down and tears escaped her eyes. She moved her right hand to his arm, but he moved as if her hand wasn't even there. He grabbed the front of the ruined shirt and pulled it away from her.
"Nice," he whispered. "Very nice indeed."
Daria shook her head as she felt him kiss her right cheek. She then screamed into his hand.
Daria quickly sat up in the bed, her eyes wide open and her breaths hard and deep. She felt down and saw that her nightshirt was still on and intact. Damned nightmare!
She put on her glasses and moved to the door. It was still locked and the chair was still braced against the doorknob.
As quietly as she could, she moved the chair and opened the door. She moved down the hall to Robert's room and heard him snore through the door.
After a minute of listening, she quietly moved back to her room, shut and locked the door and went back to bed.
Robert knocked on Daria's door sometime after sunrise and she opened her eyes. Shit. I didn't sleep worth a damn.
He knocked again and she called out, "I'm awake! I'm awake!"
"I'm sorry to get you up so early," he said through the door, "but we have work to do."
"What do you mean we?" she said quickly and put her hand on her forehead. Oh, that was smooth, Daria. Nice way to treat the man who saved your life.
The tone of his voice didn't change, however. "I need to get you outfitted in chain mail and get you some weapons. The earlier we do this, the better off we will be, and the readier we will be when that 'transporter' or whatever it is, is used again."
Daria sat up and got out of bed. "I'll be out in a minute," she called out as she changed out of her nightshirt and into her clothes.
"I'll be in the dining room with our breakfast," he said and walked off
Daria sat at the table as Robert laid out toaster pastries still in their Mylar wrappers. Next to them, he sat out two apple juice boxes and a butterscotch pudding pack. "What flavor are these?" she asked as she picked up the pastries.
"Frosted strawberry," he said and gave her a weak smile. "You don't look like you slept very well."
"I had a bad nightmare," she said and laid her forehead on the table.
He nodded in understanding. "I've had quite a few of them myself. Not as many as I did when it first happened."
Daria lifted her head and looked at him over the tops of her glasses. "Did you ever watch MTV?"
He looked surprised at the question and said, "Some, but not much. I quit watching it after Maggie got mad at me for watching The Real World."
"Why would she get mad over that? What was wrong with it?"
"They were in Jamaica and the girls were swimming topless. I was upset because MTV blacked out the girls'...uh...relevant parts."
She blinked and stared at him. "What?"
He shook his head at the memory and smiled. "Maggie almost made me black out. She wanted to know why I was into dysfunctional college-aged girls."
I'm almost college-aged, she thought. Will you want to see my 'relevant parts'? "Did you watch any of their cartoons?"
His smile widened and he laughed briefly. "Now that you mention it, I did. I used to watch a cartoon about two stupid teens, called Beavis and Butt-head."
Daria felt her mouth dry up and she forced herself to breathe.
"It was dumb fun, and even Maggie laughed at their antics. Didn't you ever see them?"
More than I ever want to admit, she thought and said, "No."
"Oh? Didn't your MTV carry it?"
She shook her head. "The only cartoon I remember from them was The Maxx."
"I saw that one a couple of times." He opened his pastry wrapper. "Never did understand it. Why do you ask?" He bit into one pastry.
"I'm just curious." She also opened her wrapper and started her breakfast as well.
Robert looked at her silently for a few seconds, then turned his attention to his juice box.
"You need to tell me where each dial is set," Dr. Stone said from the floor of the van.
Jane grabbed the box and held it on her lap. She looked at the setting knobs and asked, "What is this? It looks like you used knobs off of old machinery. Where's the digital stuff?"
Stone looked at her and rolled his eyes in exasperation. "I am an inventor and scientist, girl, and let's just say that this is my Beta version. The 'digital stuff', as you call it, comes later with the better funding."
"You have to learn a regular guitar before you move on to electric ones, Janey," Trent said from the driver's seat.
"Precisely!" Stone said. "If you would untie me, I could do this much better and much faster."
Jane looked at Trent, her eyebrows raised. "Let me know when you learn to play the guitar, Trent, and I'll believe that one." To Stone, she said, "Do I have the word 'stupid' written on my forehead? I give you this box and you'd have Trent and me wherever you sent Daria in no time flat."
Stone saw the girl's determination in her features, as well as the mistrust in her eyes and sighed. "Very well. Start from the first dial and tell me the numbers, one by one."
Jane started reading the numbers to him.
After breakfast, Robert took Daria into a first floor conference room, and used a Coleman lantern for the light.
Table after table in the room was covered with rifles, shotguns, and pistols, as well as ammunition and accessories for them. Daria blinked as she looked over the tables in amazement. "Do you think you have enough guns?" she asked and looked at him.
"With zombies, there are never too many guns," he said simply. "Thirteen months ago, all I had were two shotguns and a pistol - and those belonged to my Dad. Lauren, Janelle and I gathered all this before they left." He laughed briefly and set the lantern on one table. "They took half of what we gathered with them."
"It looks like you're ready to fight a war," she said. "When did you find the time to get all of this? When did you even get the chance?"
"A lot of it we took off of zombies we eliminated," he said. "We also raided a few pawnshops and gun stores, not to mention the homes of known, but dead, gun nuts. Or, at least the ones that Janelle knew, since she was one of them." He motioned towards one table. "Let's start with the pistols. You'll need one, but I recommend three. How much experience do you have with firearms?"
"I'll start you with revolvers, then," he said and led her to a table covered with revolvers. "Don't bother with the ones on the right."
"Oh? Why not?"
"They're .22s and .38s. They don't work on zombies that well - unless you're lucky."
Daria looked at the other pistols and picked up one. "I'll use this one," she said.
Robert looked at the pistol she chose and nodded. "Colt Python - a .357 Magnum. Nice weapon." He glanced at her. "My backup is a Colt Anaconda. Any reason you chose the Python?"
She thought about it, blinked and shrugged. "No. It just seems right to me."
He picked up a holster and handed it to her. "Put this on."
"Over my skirt?" He nodded and she put on the holster. It hung loose on her.
"O.K., give it back to me." She took it off and handed it to him. He slung it over his left shoulder and said, "I'll hammer in a couple more holes later on so that you can wear it. Choose a second and third pistol and you can try them out next."
Daria picked up a .45-caliber revolver and a second .357 Magnum, then followed Robert into the next room.
"This room was sound-proofed back when the world was...normal," he said and held up the lantern. "Must have been used for band practice or lessons or something like that. It also makes a good makeshift indoor firing range." He set lit candles on the floor at the end of the room, which illuminated a target resembling a man. The target had circles on the chest and head areas.
For the next several minutes, Robert showed Daria how to open the cylinder, load bullets and pull out empty shells. Finally, he had her stand near a strip of duct tape placed on the floor. "Now to fire," he said, "you aim ahead of you, pull back the hammer and then pull the trigger."
"I can go ahead and shoot?" she asked and glanced at him.
"I've done it many times myself," he said. "Janelle fixed the room up like it is now. Go ahead and aim."
Daria lifted the pistol and aimed it ahead of her.
Robert moved behind her, reached ahead and adjusted the pistol in her hands. "Don't be so tense, Daria. This is a powerful weapon. It can hurt you - even kill you - if you use it wrong."
She bit her lower lip due to his closeness and fought the urge to cry out. If you wanted me, I couldn't stop you, she thought. Talk to him, dammit! Tell him that he's freaking you out!
"Now pull the trigger," he said. "But don't jerk it. Just pull it gently."
Daria pulled the trigger and the pistol roared; the flash lit the room and she winced as she felt the powder burn her hands.
"That's good," Robert said and moved his hands to her arms. "Shoot it again."
Daria looked at his hands, blinked and pulled the trigger again.
He moved his hands to her hips. "Again."
She closed her eyes, suppressed a sob and obeyed.
Then he moved his hands to the bottom of her pullover, lifted it up slightly and moved his hands inside it. He also kissed her right ear and the side of her neck. "Again."
"Don't!" she said loudly. "Please! Don't do this to me!"
"Daria! What do you mean 'Don't do this to me?' What are you talking about?"
The teen blinked and looked to her right. Robert stood beside her, confusion on his face. She looked down. Her blouse was still in place, his hands were at his sides and she felt her face heat up. "I...I'm sorry."
He crossed his arms over his chest. "O.K. Let's have it out right now. I want to know just what the hell is going through your mind. Several times since I brought you here, I've had the feeling that you're scared, afraid of me. I told you that I'm not going to hurt you. What are you thinking about?"
Daria wanted to bolt from the room, but she knew that he'd follow her and push her to tell him. She felt as if she wanted to die, but she swallowed and said, "I'm scared of you! I'm sorry, Robert, but I'm scared! I'm scared of being eaten alive, but I'm also scared of being raped by you! You carried me and ran across town with me as if I was some small child's toy! If you wanted to do that to me, I couldn't stop you."
Robert sighed and covered his eyes with his right hand. "Daria..." he said.
"If you want to do that, just don't hurt me! I...I don't want to die! I just want to go home! What if I can't get home? What do 'we' do then?"
"Stop it!" he said loudly and uncovered his eyes. "Just stop it!" When he had her attention, he continued, "I told you yesterday that I never had to rape anyone. When I have sex with a woman, it's because she wants it just as much as I want it. I wouldn't have it any other way." He smiled slightly. "I wouldn't have it any other way. Do I stare at you? It's been several months since I've been with an uninjured, normal person, especially a young and pretty girl. If I've stared at you, I apologize. Have I done anything else to make you uncomfortable? I know I touched your thigh, but I explained that one and apologized for it. Have I done something else?"
"No," she said, looked away and slightly cowered.
"Stand up straight and face me. Do. Not. Be. Afraid. Of. Me. There's something you should know. Remember when I told you that I got tired because I wasn't as well fed as I used to be?"
She nodded and swallowed again.
"Well, my sex drive isn't what it used to be, either. Most of my energy is used trying to stay alive." He smiled. "You're a cute kid, you really are. But you're still a kid and I don't make moves on school kids."
Daria blushed and gave him a weak smile in return. "You're probably old enough to be my dad, anyway," she said.
"How old do you think I am?" he asked, a wry smile on his face.
"Forty or forty-five."
Robert sighed and laughed briefly. "I turn thirty-two in a few weeks, Daria. Fighting zombies ages you."
"Don't worry about it." He picked up the lantern, then walked down and checked out the target. "You got a chest shot and a neck shot. Good start. If you want we can try again later - if you're not already home by then." He blew out the candles near the target. "Let's go back upstairs and I'll work on your holster belt."
As they walked up to the second floor, Daria looked at him. "Robert?"
"I apologize for all of that."
He shrugged. "It's O.K. I understand."
She cleared her throat. "I have a question."
She looked down briefly, then back up at his face. "You told me yesterday that after he died, you shot Billy in the head twice. Those zombies you shot yesterday, you shot them at least twice, except the ones you got with the shotgun. Is there a reason for the two shots?"
Robert looked at her, his expression surprised. He smiled and nodded. "You're very perceptive and you pay attention," he said. "That's good. That'll keep you alive."
"Why wouldn't I?"
"Most teenagers don't. I didn't back then. Maggie did pay attention, but she was also a very smart girl...and woman." He sighed and motioned her to follow him.
They went back to the armory, where he picked up a rifle. "Follow me," he said.
Robert led Daria upstairs to the building's roof and they walked outside into the sunlight.
Instantly, she frowned, coughed and said, "It stinks out here!"
"The dead," he said and glanced at her. "That's what it smells like - when the wind stops. Fortunately, we're close enough to Lake Erie to have a fairly constant wind." They walked to near the building's edge and he pointed ahead. "See that zombie over there? Two blocks away. The one in the red shirt?"
She squinted and looked ahead. "Yeah."
"Watch him. I'm going to give him one right through the forehead."
Daria looked at Robert in amazement. "What?"
"Keep your eyes on the zombie! This is an important lesson here."
She looked back at the dead man as Robert shouldered the rifle, aimed and cocked it.
"This is a .22-caliber rifle," he said. "It uses the long rifle shells. Keep watching him, even after I shoot him." He pulled the trigger.
The sound of the shot wasn't very loud, but the bullet hit the zombie's forehead dead center. Daria winced at the spray of blood and watched the dead man fall onto his back. For almost three minutes, he laid there. "What am I watching him for?" she asked.
"Wait for it."
Suddenly, the zombie sat up and got to his feet. It looked around in confusion, then walked off.
Daria exhaled loudly and whispered, "Hell."
"Yes. Hell." He saw her stare at him and he continued, "At least three of those zombies I shot yesterday are already back on their feet and are very mobile. Not to mention just as hungry as they were before."
Confusion was evident on her face, as well as the shock. "But I thought...I thought that when a zombie was shot through the head, it was really killed then."
He smiled patiently at her. "Where did you get your info on that one? Do you have zombies in your universe?"
She blinked. "Only in the movies and horror novels. Plus a few websites dedicated to those movies and that genre."
"It was the same way here," Robert said. "Did George A. Romero make the zombie movies in your universe? The major ones, that is?"
"That was our only guideline to go by, Daria. That's part of the reason things fell apart so fast. We went by what Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead showed us. Head shots are effective - if you do damage to the right part of the brain." He tapped the back of his head near the brain stem and the top of the cervical section of his backbone. "If you don't decapitate them, you have to damage this area badly enough so that the remaining brain tissue can't reanimate them." The girl still had a shocked expression on her face and he gently patted her left arm. "Let's go back inside and look over the chain mail."
They went back into the building and shut the door.
"This is heavy!" Daria said as she looked over herself in the mirror. "You made it look easy the way you ran and carried me."
"I was a football player through both middle and high school, Daria," he said. "Coach Howard, God bless his soul, was a retired Marine and put us through Marine PT every chance he got. By the time I graduated from high school, I could run ten miles with an eighty-pound pack on my back." He took a drink of water and laughed gently.
"What are you laughing at?" she asked, irritated.
"Your expression. It's priceless. Keep it on for now. Get used to the feel, because when we go over to where you first showed up, you'll have to have it on."
She groaned and shook her head. "This sucks!"
At about two-thirty, Robert and Daria left the shelter from the roof. But getting started wasn't as easy for the teen as she might have thought.
"This part is tricky," he said. "I'll go first and be ready to catch you in case you slip and fall." He climbed over the ledge and dropped onto a fire escape. "O.K., now you climb over and join me."
She swallowed nervously as she looked down at him. She glanced around, but none of the nearby zombies noticed them - yet. "I'm not sure I can do it," she said, her voice shaky.
"Yes, you can," he said calmly. "You can do this. You have to do this, if you want to go home."
"I'll fall," she said quickly. "The fire escape won't be able to hold both of us."
Robert smiled and said, "Yes, it will, Daria. If you fall, I'll catch you. Don't worry. If you feel yourself slip, just stay calm and I'll be there for you. I promise."
When he said that, she stared at him, her mouth open.
"Just trust me and don't cry out if you do slip," he said. "Now, climb over."
Daria climbed over the ledge and lowered herself towards him and the fire escape, then stopped. She hung still and clamped her eyes shut.
Robert was there and wrapped his arms around her thighs. "I've got you, Daria," he said. "Let go and trust me."
She released the ledge and he moved her slightly to his right, then set her upon her feet. She opened her eyes, looked down at the alley behind the building, then at him. "Thank you," she said, relieved.
"No problem," he said. "Here's what we have to deal with. We can go the whole distance and not run into one zombie. That does happen sometimes. Or we may see a group of them on every street corner. There's really no way to tell. We'll talk low, like we did yesterday."
"What happens if there are too many out?" she asked.
"We'll come back here - quickly." He shrugged. "If we have to run, expect to be on my left shoulder again. Apologies again for holding your thighs - and if I have to do it again."
Robert cleared his throat and moved to the stairs. "This is important. Whatever you do, if you see something shocking - don't scream! You handled yourself real well yesterday, but we really didn't run into too many of those things, either. Got it?"
"Let's go, then." They climbed down to the lowest level of the fire escape and he looked at the girl. "I'll go down first. The last ladder swings down and when you step off, it swings back up - loudly. Make sure I'm holding it before you let go of it."
The ladder went down with Robert's weight and he climbed down to the street. He looked around cautiously and motioned for Daria to follow him.
She climbed down to his level and after she made sure that he had a hold of the ladder, she stepped off. He carefully guided it back up and it only made a small metallic clang. "What keeps the dead from pulling it down and climbing up on it?" she asked.
"They don't know how - yet," he said. "That's why I lock and block the door to the roof."
She looked over the obvious weapons he carried. The top of a crowbar hung out from his left shoulder and a rifle was slung over his right shoulder. That didn't even count the revolver in his right hand.
As they walked down the street, they looked around carefully. "What about the front door?" she asked. "I saw you seal it off yesterday."
"I took care of it right after lunch," he said. "I do this all the time, Daria. If I happen to forget, well, I have grappling hook and rope and can climb."
"I can't, especially not in this!" She held her pistol in her right hand as well. "Why do you tie your pistols down like that?"
"That way I can let go of them and not have to worry about them."
Buster popped his head out of Robert's chain mail neck hole and whined.
Robert gently touched the dog's head. "Get back in there, boy, at least until the Meclizine kicks in."
"Why did you give him a motion sickness pill?" Daria asked.
"It's the only thing I know of to sedate him with. If you can make it back, he's going with you. Get him back to his owner."
She looked at him. "I know Mr. DeMartino. He's my history teacher. But shouldn't we have brought some of the other stuff with us? From the other Lawndale people?"
For several seconds, Robert said nothing. Finally, he sighed and shook his head. "No. I don't know how it is in your universe, Daria, but here, before things fell apart, many states didn't need a corpse to make a murder charge stick. Too chancy. You're just going to have to remain quiet about it...for the rest of your life."
She glanced at him and said nothing more.
They reached the spot where Robert had rescued her at five after three. The bodies of four zombies laid on the ground. "See what I mean?" he asked, his voice lower than it was earlier. "Which way do we go?"
She pointed to where she saw the wrecked cars down the street. "That way."
When they reached the cars, she nodded towards the side street and said, "We go left here."
As they walked down, a zombie hobbled out from the side of a house. It had once been an old man and was clad in soiled pajamas and a green robe that hung open. Robert grabbed the crowbar, whipped it out and ran up to it. Without a word, he clubbed the elderly zombie onto the ground and walked back to Daria, who stood still and shocked.
"Shit!" she spat out. "I'll never get used to that!"
He glanced at her briefly and said, "If we're lucky, you won't be here long enough to get used to it."
A few minutes later, Daria stopped him in front of the white house and said, "It was right here. Now, how long do we wait?"
"Until four. None of the...stuff happened after four." He pointed at the enclosed porch and said, "We should wait there. Keep us out of sight until we leave again."
"What if there are some of those...zombies...in the house?" she asked as they walked up the sidewalk slowly.
He held up the crowbar as he scanned the area. "Then, they'll get a big headache."
Daria looked over the chain mail she wore and the weapons she carried. "What about all this?" she asked. "Do I take it with me?"
He nodded. "You probably won't have much time. Consider them gifts from me."
They waited on the porch in silence. Daria sat on an old love seat, while Robert waited near the front door. Occasionally, he looked inside the one window to the house, but there nothing came to them.
Four o'clock came and passed and nothing happened. They waited until four-thirty, then left. The only sound beside their footsteps was the sound of the beagle lightly snoring inside his chain mail.
Daria looked ahead and not at Robert as they walked. A tear ran down her left cheek, but she didn't cry.
The walk back to the shelter seemed even slower to her than the walk over. Robert stopped her when they saw a group of zombies moving around in a park, and they ended up walking two streets over. When he thought that they were far enough away, he leaned his head closer to hers and whispered, "They sense us out here. They just don't know where we are - yet."
"Are you sure they don't run?" she whispered back and looked behind them. So far they were still in the clear, but it took all of her effort to remain calm.
He nodded and gave her a small smile. "I'm sure. Like I said before, they don't really need to. Whatever else they lack, their cooperation skills with each other are unmatched. Once they detect us, they'll move to trap us, then attack. I've seen it happen many times."
Daria shuddered. "You make it sound like nothing. What would happen to us then?"
Robert briefly glanced at her and said, "More than likely, we'd die."
She gawked at him. "You're awfully damn calm about it."
"Not much I can do about it, other than what I'm already doing. No sense worrying about it."
She looked at him in silence and followed him.
At one intersection, Robert stopped and Daria stopped beside him. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"We're being watched," he said. He pointed down one street cluttered with wrecked and abandoned cars and trucks. "We have to go that way, but someone, something, is watching us."
"How do you know?" she asked.
"I can feel it." He looked behind them and all around slowly. "You know how you can feel it when someone stares at you?" She nodded. "My senses are more alert now than they were before all of this and...I just feel eyes on us. We'll move slow through here. Stay right behind me as we go by these vehicles and be alert. Sometimes, the dead hide behind things."
As Robert led her through the automobile maze, Daria felt the urge to run in panic. She held the Colt in her hands and looked around with caution. He checked around each vehicle carefully as they moved.
"I hate this shit!" he muttered and she thought, So do I.
As he looked around the front of a blue pickup truck, the driver's rearview mirror shattered and the sound of a rifle shot reached them. Daria froze, but Robert grabbed her and pulled her down behind the other side.
"What was it?" she asked, her voice panicked. "Who shot at us?"
"Apparently, we aren't alone," he said and reached into a pocket sewn on the outside of his right blue jeans leg. At the same time, he looked under all the vehicles around them and added, "Good. No dead freaks around us here - yet. But they heard the rifle shot. Count on it."
She watched in shock as he pulled a stick of dynamite, with a six-to-seven inch fuse attached, out of his pocket. "Is there anything you don't carry?" she asked.
"I don't have a crossbow," he said and glanced at her, "and one would be handy right now."
"What are you going to do with it?"
He smiled. "When I figure out where they are, I'll light this and send it to them. It's my way of saying 'I am not happy with you.'"
"No shit!" she said and he chuckled.
"Hey! You behind the truck!" a male voice yelled from the inside of what was once a family dining restaurant.
"Keep a watch out for zombies, Daria," he told the teen again. Then he yelled back, "What do you want?"
"We want the pussy!"
'We'. More than one. Daria's face flushed and she glared towards the restaurant. "Have you got two sticks?" she asked. "I've got an answer for them!"
Robert smiled, held up his right hand and said, "Watch our backs! Let me take care of these idiots. Those dead bastards are real good at sneaking up on you."
"Make her strip to the skin!" the voice yelled at them. "Have her walk towards us with her hands on top of her head! You can carry your ass back the way you came! What do say to that?"
Robert lit the fuse and carefully looked around the side of the truck. "Oh, yeah, I can do this," he muttered. He jumped up and threw the dynamite at the restaurant. "EAT ME!" he yelled, then dove back down beside Daria.
"Oh, shit! That's---" The front of the restaurant exploded loudly and Robert covered Daria's head with his body.
The auburn-haired teen grimaced as the sound assaulted her ears and watched as debris fell all around them.
As their hearing returned to normal, Robert tapped Daria and said, "Let's get the hell out of Dodge, kid. Every zombie within earshot will be here soon to see what's going on. If those assholes are still alive, let them be on the dinner menu instead of us."
The two carefully got to their feet, but kept bent over as they rushed off to the next street. The sound of a crying male reached them and Daria stopped, "Wait! It sounds like a boy in the wreckage, not a man!"
"Probably a teenager," Robert said. "Come on!"
"You mean that we're just going to leave him to die?"
He stopped and looked at her. "Yes, we are. If they came to us and tried to be friendly, I'd give them a chance. Instead they came on like raiders, and got their just desserts."
She shuddered and briefly closed her eyes, then followed her companion. The beagle whined from inside his chain mail as they moved off down the next street.
Robert led her down several different streets, then stopped her at the side of a bar. They each drank a pint bottle of water and rested against the wooden building. He scanned the area as they rested and said, "The one thing you have to remember is that there's no police, no emergency services, no government, not anymore. It's every man for himself, and some are just plain evil."
"I'm sorry I hesitated," she said. "It's just that he started crying and..."
He nodded and looked inside the chain mail at the dog. "It's O.K., Buster. We'll be home soon." To Daria, he said, "That's a bully for you. They're rough and tough until you knock them down. Then they cry like a baby. Just keep in mind what he called you and the demands he made. Trust me, your cries would have fed their egos. Let's go!"
"One of those numbers is not right," Dr. Stone said from the floor of the van.
"What do you mean?" Jane asked, her voice obviously a demand. "I read them just as I saw them here!"
The old man closed his eyes and said slowly, "The fifth number. Read it off again."
"What's wrong with that number?" Trent asked. "I don't understand."
"It should be a nine," Stone said. "Hold the box to where I can see it."
Jane did and the man squinted at the fifth dial. "Oh, shit," he said and laid his head on the floor.
"What do you mean, 'oh, shit'?" She asked quickly. "This better not be bad news. What does it mean? Do I change it?"
"NO!" he said quickly. "We'll have to leave that number as it is."
"Well, what does it mean?" she asked.
"It means that I didn't send your friend to Fostoria, Ohio, that's what it means."
Jane blinked and stared at him. "Where the hell did you send her then?"
He sighed and shook his head.
Trent leaned down and asked, "Where is Daria?"
Stone sighed and looked at him sadly. "I don't know."
As Daria and Robert reached the shelter, they stopped and looked at the three zombies as they beat on the door. They weren't noticed and stared at the unwelcome visitors. "That's not a good sign, is it?" she asked.
He drew a pistol and said, "No, it isn't. I hate doing this here, but there's too many to use the crowbar on. You get the tall skinny one. I'll take care of the other two. Then, once we get inside and I seal it off, we'll be secure."
Daria lifted the Python and shook as she aimed at the tall zombie. It turned to look at her and moaned loudly. Chills went down her spine and she pulled the trigger. The bullet hit the side of the creature's neck and blood shot out the exit wound onto the building.
At the same time, Robert fired three shots each into the other two zombie's heads and they fell onto the sidewalk.
The zombie Daria shot fell back against the brick, looked at her in confusion and moved towards her, its head bent to the left.
"Shoot it again!" Robert said and Daria obeyed. The bullet hit the top of the dead man's chest and it once again fell back against the brick.
Before she could shoot again, Robert moved up and fired a quick two shots into the creature's head. Its body slid down the brick and laid over on the sidewalk.
As Robert quickly unlocked the door, he glanced at Daria and said, "You are going to practice with the pistol once we get inside, young lady. If you can't make head shots, you're just wasting lead and risking our lives."
"But I was planning on taking a shower!" she said. "I feel sweaty and grungy. I've worked out more today than I do in a month!"
He opened the door and they quickly went inside. Once again, they were in the dark as he locked the door and sealed it off. "You might as well wait on that shower. We need to get out of the chain mail, plus I have to get this dog out of the infant carrier before he pisses on me. Then we'll take a breather and go shooting."
Dammit, this sucks! Daria thought.
During supper, they ate a meal of Campbell's Vegetable Beef Soup, rice slow cooked in the solar cookers and crackers from a military MRE. Daria glanced at Robert several times as they ate, but said nothing. Finally, he said, "Something's on your mind, Daria, so spill it."
She set her spoon on the bowl, looked at him and said, "You told me yesterday that you don't count on lasting too much longer."
"Yes, you did. Are you going to kill yourself?" He looked at her briefly, then looked back down and said nothing. "Robert, I have a better idea." He looked back at her. "If Buster and I can return to my universe, then you should come with us. It's better than committing suicide."
He stared at her and sighed heavily. "What would I do?" he asked. "I'd have no job, I'd be homeless and I'd be out of place in your world."
Daria ate some of her soup, then said, "You'd be alive, free to pursue a new life."
"Have you ever seen Waterworld?"
She gave a short laugh, then said, "Yeah. It wasn't that good."
He smiled. "That's your opinion. I happened to like it."
"What does it have to do with my suggestion?"
He leaned back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling. "Near the end of the movie, they find dry land. But I will never forget the look on the Mariner's face. He was terrified - utterly terrified. He was out of place and knew it." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "I've fought the dead for more than a year. I've killed raiders and...bad guys, too. If I go to your world, I'll be a freak - a monster."
"You aren't a monster!" she protested. "You saved my life and Buster's, as well. I know I don't know you, but from what I've seen so far, you're a kind, decent man. You're also a smart man, I believe. All those books you have - are they yours?"
"No," he said and leaned on the table with his elbows. "For a month, I had an idea to save what books I could to preserve...who and what we were." He covered his face with his hands. "I realized that once I was gone, they'll just rot. I gave up."
Daria looked down at her hands, then said, "You can readjust to a normal life, Robert. I'll...I'll help you as much as I can."
He stared at her in amazement for several seconds, then got up and walked to the window. As he looked outside, he asked, "Why would you do that for me?"
"Why did you do all that you've done for me so far?" she asked quickly.
"Because it's the right thing to do."
She stood up and moved behind him. "You have your answer, then."
Robert said nothing for several minutes as he looked at the approaching sunset. Then he closed the curtain and said, "I'll think about it, Daria. I'll think about it." He lightly touched her right shoulder, then walked out of the room. "Thank you."
Daria looked at Buster, who looked back up at her. He wagged his tail and sniffed her right boot. She knelt down and petted the animal. "Don't worry," she said as the dog licked her hand and wrist. "We won't forget you."
After Robert went to bed, Daria waited for several minutes, then walked back to the room with the books. She set the candle on one table and began her search through a different stack. I won't freak out, she thought. I won't freak out. I won't freak out.
But, five minutes later, she stared at a large red book and read the cover. "Reading Sucks," she said. "Those morons have a large book dedicated to them, and all I have is that small paperback? There is no justice in this world."
She jumped as she heard something walk into the room and turned to see Buster move in with her. He carried a tennis ball and laid it at her feet, then looked up at her face. Robert must have let him out of his room. "I'll look in here just a little longer," she told the beagle and smiled at him. "Then we'll go to my room and play some. O.K.?"
The dog wagged his tail and still looked up at her.
"You didn't understand a word I said, did you?"
The dog wagged his tail and still looked up at her.
She sighed and returned to her search.
For almost an hour, Daria sat on the floor and rolled or threw the tennis ball to different areas of her room while Buster chased it down and brought it back to her.
She finally stood up and stretched and Buster sniffed her legs. "I'm going to read a little, then go to sleep. O.K.?" As the dog just stared up at her and wagged his tail, she muttered, "Morgendorffer, all he heard was 'blah, blah, blah.'"
As it happened, she found a book titled The Daria Diaries as well as the Beavis and Butt-head book, which she found out was a collection of four different books. As she looked over the second book about her, she thought, At least there's no nudes of us in here.
A few folded-up papers fell out of the book and landed on the floor. She bent down and retrieved them to find the pages of a website titled Daria World: All things Daria. One page had a small ficlet in which she kissed Beavis. She shuddered as revulsion swept through her. That makes me want to puke! I'd like to meet the author of this one - in a cold, dark alley.
The second paper gave a biographical detail of Sandi Griffin, including her picture. "No accounting for taste," she muttered and looked at the third page.
That page was a screen capture of her standing nude behind a screen, while Jane stood with her paints. An easel stood in the background of what was apparently a wooden house in some wooded area. No way! No freaking way!
She placed the books and papers in her book bag, along with several other things she found, then set the bag on the floor. "I'm going to sleep," she told the dog, who still looked up at her from the floor. "Good night."
Daria blew out the candle and settled onto the bed. After she pulled the covers up to her neck, the beagle jumped up onto the bed. He moved up to her side and settled down beside her. She petted him and closed her eyes.
The sound breaking wood caused Daria's eyes to open suddenly. What was that? she thought and sat up. She quickly put on her glasses and grabbed one of her pistols as she got out of the bed.
She left her room and saw several dark forms move out of the stairway into the hallway. They moaned and she nearly screamed. Zombies! Oh, shit!
Quickly, she pounded on Robert's door. "Robert! Zombies are in here! Robert!" She heard a muffled cry in the room and opened the door.
Inside, several zombies were hunched over his writhing body and she screamed. She lifted the pistol and shot several times at them. The bullets hit the bodies, but neither stopped them, nor slowed them down.
Then several hands grabbed her from behind; they pulled her into the hallway and onto the floor. She closed her eyes and screamed loudly as their fingers dug into her.
"Daria!" the sound of Robert's voice made Daria jump and she sat up quickly in the bed. She heard the pounding on the door and his voice. "Daria! Are you O.K.? I heard you scream."
Buster had moved to the foot of the bed and looked up at her as she shook, her head in her hands. "I'm O.K.!" she yelled. "Another nightmare."
"Do you need anything?" he asked.
"No, I'll be all right," she replied and laid back down. "Sorry about that."
"No problem. I'm going back to bed. See you in the morning."
"Yeah." She closed her eyes and sighed. "Good night."
Author's Notes: This comprises parts five through eight of A Little Vacation, as it was originally posted on various message boards and on fanfiction.net.
From the Paperpusher's Message Board, thanks go out to smk, Brother Grimace, cyde, tildessmoo, Richard Lobinske, UU, echopapa, Demi_Cat, LSauchelli, Quiverwing and NightGoblyn for their comments and suggestions.
Others I want to thank for their comments include psychotol and Ianthe Yario from the Sheep's Fluff Message Board and from eltf177 from fanfiction.net.