Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
Original characters and plot copyright Richard J. Lobinske. 2006.
This is my response to Brother Grimace's challenge to write a story set in Falling into College series, based on Daria's cat Bump's point of view. The story happens between I Hope You Don't Have Plans and Run Jane, Run. I suppose you could call this Falling Into College 40 ½.
I Meant to Do That
Brrraaaang...brraaang...brraaang. Daria Morgendorffer's alarm clock sounded in her South Boston apartment.
In bed and lying on her side, the young woman brushed auburn hair from her eyes and glared at the red blur of the clock's numeric display. "I hate you."
Curled against Daria's stomach, a black cat yawned, looked at the clock with disdain, and meowed in agreement. She sat up and stretched before proceeding to wash her face with a white forepaw.
"Excuse me, Bump," Daria mumbled as she reached over the cat to shut off the alarm. "Still getting used to the nightstand being under that window."
The cat rubbed her cheek against The Chosen One's extended arm. Daria's hand fumbled with the alarm switch and left it there as Bump continued to rub the side and top of her head.
"As if you don't get any attention," Daria said with a slight smile. She brought her hand back and started to pet Bump, eliciting a satisfied purr.
Mind clearing, Daria blinked several times and said, "It's Sunday. Why is my alarm going off?"
"Meow reow, mrr." Bump replied. Don't ask me. It's your noisemaker.
Suddenly, Daria's eyes rolled and she sighed in frustration. "April first."
Bump nudged Daria's still hand. "Mrr." Keep going.
"But that's no concern of yours, oh daughter of Bast, is it?" Daria gently scratched the bridge of Bump's nose, causing the cat to close her eyes and begin purring anew.
"Ordinarily, I'd suspect Jane of setting my alarm, but what's the fun of a prank if you're not awake to see the result?" Daria pondered aloud, "However, if her plan was to instigate escalating retribution between Karen and me, then she might forego the first round in favor of the later payoff."
Daria sat up and used her free hand to put on her glasses. "Since we're awake, you're probably interested in breakfast."
"Purr, meowrr mow eor." Of course, it's fish day. But there's no need to stop what you're doing right away.
Daria moved her hand around the cat's head to scratch under Bump's chin. "You don't seem to be in too big of a rush, so I'll take a couple minutes to finish waking up."
Pausing to rub against the door frame, Bump surveyed the kitchen and saw that the Friend of Many Animals was tending to her strange food ritual.
Turning her omelet, Karen Myerson saw the cat and said, "You two are up awfully early. Does your human have plans for today?"
"Wreorw." Bump sauntered to the water bowl for a drink. You're asking me?
"One of these days, I need to learn cat."
Bump let out a quiet "Raowr," and continued drinking. Please.
Karen finished cooking her eggs and slid them onto a plate with fresh-cooked sausage and grits. While Karen poured a cup of coffee, Daria walked into the room.
"Before the day is out, you or Jane is going to die," Daria grumbled.
"My, we're in a good mood today. Coffee's ready."
"One of you two set my alarm to go off."
"So that's why you're up so early. Wasn't me, must've been Jane."
"Meow? Breow wraor?" Bump looked up at Daria. Excuse me? May I have my breakfast, please?
Daria bent down and picked up Bump's food bowl and set it on a counter next to the refrigerator. She said to Karen, "I don't expect either of you to confess."
Watching Daria take a small butcher paper package from the refrigerator and open it, Karen said, "You spoil that cat."
"Probably," Daria agreed, taking a piece of fresh fish from the package and placing it in the bowl. Using a small knife, she sliced the fish in into smaller morsels.
"What kind of fish is that?"
Karen raised her eyebrows and smirked.
"What? It's only one day a week. Okay, I am spoiling the cat."
"Just wanted to hear you admit it."
Daria placed the bowl down next to the water dish. "Bon appétit."
To Bump, the aroma of breakfast was divine. She curled around Daria's bare leg and rubbed her cheek along the calf. "Meoaw." Thank you.
Perched on a windowsill in the living room, Bump watched the play of life in the outside world. The humans' half-tamed, great armored beasts rumbled and roared down their broad path. Other humans, some foolish enough to be accompanied by dogs, followed one or the other of the smaller paths alongside that of the great beasts.
Behind her, a thud and groan announced the awakening of the Window Maker.
"My leftover pizza better be in the 'fridge," Jane Lane said as she shuffled to the kitchen. "I'm starving."
Sitting on the sofa watching TV, Karen said, "Not even my brother would touch that pizza."
"I'd rather risk my dad's kitchen sink stew," Daria added, also on the sofa.
Moments later, Jane emerged from the kitchen with pizza box. "At least I've found something safe from you two scavenging." The lanky woman sprawled on the floor with her back braced against the sofa between her roommates. Opening the box, Jane said, "Mmm, breakfast."
The enticing scent emerging from the box caught Bump's attention: a mix of the tomato-smeared bread that the humans often consumed and several mouth-watering fish. Curiosity fully aroused, she effortlessly jumped down and quietly slinked over to the edge of the box, sniffing.
"Mine," Jane told the cat. "Sheesh, nothing's safe around here."
Karen chuckled and said, "What do you expect when you parade sushi pizza in front of her? On fish day."
"Mreow?" May I try some?
Jane pulled the box back. "Daria, can you call this beast off?"
"Like she'll listen." Daria reached down and picked up her cat told her, "Remember, Jane and Karen are not obligated to share with you."
Bump looked up at Daria's face. "Mreow?"
Jane elbowed Karen's leg and discretely held up five fingers. Karen shook her head in response.
Sitting down with Bump in her lap, Daria said, "I suppose I could pick some up for next week."
Jane asked, "When are you going to buy her a bone china plate for her food?"
"And have one of you two klutzes step on it?" Daria answered. "When am I going to get the guilty party to fess up about my alarm clock?"
Jane looked at Karen, "What's she talking about?"
"Her alarm went off this morning and she suspects one of us is behind it. April Fools and all that."
Daria pushed her glasses back against her nose. "Who else? None of our boyfriends were here last night and I'm reasonably certain our landlady didn't sneak in."
Karen said, "You could've, out of habit."
"I can assure you that I did not set my alarm."
Jane said, "Then your little girl must've done it."
"Bump? Yeah, right," Daria said. "Maybe I need to look for a ghost."
Using an open drawer as a midpoint platform, Bump climbed to the top of a dresser to watch the creation of a new window to another place.
Standing in front of her easel, Jane turned and wagged a brush at the cat. "No shedding. I don't need any wild hairs in my paint."
Settling onto a half-folded shirt, Bump made herself comfortable and ignored the admonition.
Later, Karen entered and sat on Jane's desk chair, resting her folded arms on the chair back. "Okay, fill me in. What are you up to?"
"Hey, I know I didn't set the alarm. So, what's the plan?"
Jane turned her attention from her canvas. "No plan. I didn't turn Daria's alarm on. It must've been you."
"I like having an undisturbed breakfast on Sunday, it wasn't me."
Jane tilted her head toward Bump. "Should we be discussing this in front of her? I swear she knows what we're saying."
"Yeah, but Daria's not fully conversant in cat, so we're safe."
Bump let out a soft murmur of agreement.
Karen then said, "Besides, I'm sure Bump has her own agenda, anyway."
"Mmm." Jane pondered for several seconds and said, "Daria's going to assume that we're in on something together."
"And plan to get even."
"I bet she's really got something up her sleeve."
"You're getting paranoid."
"With good reason. You know how devious she can be."
"Hmm. Maybe you have a point. A little extra caution wouldn't hurt."
"Mrrwrr rereow wmrr." You two could use a nap.
The gazelle suddenly moved its ears and swung its head up. The great lion froze in place, low in the tall grass. Her patience was rewarded when the gazelle resumed grazing in the fatal misbelief that it was safe. Tip of her tail twitching from time to time, the lion crept forward by silently moving one paw at a time. Excitement at the breaking point, she stopped and prepared to leap. Oblivious, the gazelle continued grazing. After tiny shifts side to side, the lion lunged for her prey.
"Ahh!" Jane cried as Bump attacked her foot, biting, shaking and twisting the loose sock covering it. A handful of nacho chips flew across the dining room from Jane's reaction, followed by her graceless juggling of the chip bag.
"The sock slayer is at it again," Karen observed, picking a chip from her hair and another from the vertebrate anatomy book she was studying. "Sheesh, you usually don't react that bad, Jane."
Jane shook her foot and Bump bolted away. "I'm on edge, okay? I'm still sure Daria's up to something."
Leaving the gazelle in its death throes, the lion sprinted away to find its next prey as the rest of the pride closed in.
"I don't think Daria trained her to be an attack cat."
The black cat bolted around to the sofa front and sprang onto it, stopping and hiding along the edge to observe Karen and Jane.
Jane nodded to the feline and said, "Are you sure about that?"
Karen laughed, "If anyone's trained, it's Daria."
Karen moved with caution through the kitchen as she made dinner. Each container was carefully examined before opening, drawers and cabinets opened with the aid of a yardstick and every sound or smell treated with distrust. Understandably slowed, dinner for the three women was delayed as Karen occasionally muttered, "It's safer than letting Daria cook, it's safer than letting Daria cook."
"Did you say something?" Daria asked, entering the kitchen.
Taking a sweet onion from a small pile of produce on the counter, Karen said, "Oh, um, nothing important," as she started chopping it in with those already prepared.
Daria said, "Even if those are your family's organic onions, I don't think talking to the plants will help them deal with their impending consumption."
Karen continued working and carefully watching Daria. The latter picked up Bump's food bowl and washed it in the sink. Next, she removed a small can from the refrigerator and opened the plastic cover, spooning cat food into the bowl before resealing the can and returning it.
Taking her time, Bump sauntered in and looked around. Seeing the cat, Daria placed the bowl down and said, "Don't get too excited."
Bump sniffed at the food and stared up. Daria replied, "No, you had your fresh fish for the day."
"Eorweor." I wouldn't mind more.
Daria squatted and rubbed Bump's nose. "Spoiled brat."
Bump purred and purposefully didn't hear the comment.
Placated by the attention, Bump moved to her bowl after Daria stood up. Just before leaving the room, Daria asked Karen, "Shouldn't you peel that lemon first?"
Bringing her full attention back to the cutting board, Karen saw that she'd already cut a lemon into several slices. "Urgh."
Left, left, right, left hook, right jab, right, right, left, right hook and bite. Balancing on her rear haunches, Bump chewed and tugged on the string Daria dangled from her hand.
"You know," Daria said aloud. "It doesn't make sense for either of them to have set the alarm."
Bump let go of the string and batted it with her right paw, causing the string to swing in a wide arc. Forepaws held at the ready, she started swatting at the string as it looped around. Right, left, right, left, right, right, left swipe, right hook, left.
"Even with this being April Fools' Day, there's no payoff for them." Daria shrugged and said, "I was tired last night. I probably turned it on without realizing."
Right swipe, left, left, left, right pull and bite. Bump faintly growled as she pulled on the string, adding her left paw to gain extra leverage.
"In one e-mail, Amy mentioned that as an undergrad, she'd sometimes run on autopilot. Attend a morning's worth of classes without being conscious but still have the notes to prove she was there. Maybe that's starting to happen to me."
Bump jumped and grabbed at the string with both paws, causing it to dance wildly as she gracefully dropped back to the ground with her right paw raised to give a follow-up swat.
"Okay then, I must've done it. Guess I better let Jane and Karen know that they're off the hook. Glad I never came up with a good prank to pull on them today."
"Meeow mrrww." Did you say something?
Daria looped the string on the back of her desk chair and chose a deep blue nightgown from her closet. No longer interested in the string without Daria's attention, Bump took two small leaps to come even with her and then walked at Daria's side out to the living room.
Room empty, Daria looked into Karen and then Jane's bedrooms. Jane's painting stood at a logical resting point for paint to dry while she and Karen looked at a website of exotic, tropical frogs. Karen said, "See? How about real psychedelic frogs?"
"Hmm," Jane replied while contemplating the bright yellows and oranges displayed.
Bump stopped to rub the side of her face against the door frame as Daria said, "Oh, there you are."
Wary, Karen and Jane looked up from the monitor.
Daria went on to say, "I've been thinking; the most logical way for the alarm to have been turned on was for me to do it. Then, I must've just forgotten. I'm sorry."
Karen nodded. "Uh, okay. No problem then."
"Sure, stuff happens," Jane said.
"Good. Anyway, I'm going to take a shower and head off to bed. Good night."
After Daria closed the bathroom door, Karen said, "We spent all day paranoid for nothing?"
Jane said, "She did it on purpose."
Following a nice top-of-the-head rub, Bump looked up at the two befuddled women before stately walking to Daria's bedroom and a perch on a windowsill.
Seeing Daria renter the room wearing the nightgown, Bump eased herself down from the window and onto the nightstand. Balancing on the clock, she leapt to the bed without noticing the faint click when her hind paw slid the alarm switch to the on position.
"Why, you..." Daria said, realizing what had happened the previous night.
Thanks to Louise Lobinske for beta reading.