Six Days Of The Hamster
"You said that already."
Jake Morgendorffer looked up at the rear-view mirror to get a glimpse of his eldest daughter. "Say what, kiddo?"
"About moving to a new town," Daria Morgendorffer said, a touch annoyed. "I'm not deaf."
"Dad – is Daria going to start acting weird as soon as we get out of the car, because, like, that could totally ruin any rep I could have with all the new kids here!"
Daria frowned as she turned to face a full head of bouncy, carrot-colored hair. Wish I had a frying pan, right now – and a wider space to swing it in.
Quinn Morgendorffer rolled her eyes as Jake kept talking "Girls, I just want you to know your mother and I realize it's not easy moving to a whole new town -- especially for you, Daria, right?"
"Did we move?"
The words had barely left her mouth before Daria felt the strangest sense of déjà vu she had ever encountered. What the hell just happened?
The gentle thread of unease in Jake's voice came through, even with his effort to laugh it off.
"I'm just saying you don't make friends as easily as... uh, some people."
Even the way Quinn leaned forward to turn the radio up only added to the sense of déjà vu Daria felt. This is... weird.
"Quinn, for instance?"
"That's not what I meant... necessarily." Even the way Jake turned the radio off added to Daria's growing sense of unease. "The point is, the first day at a new school is bound to be difficult..."
It felt as if something inside her compelled her to lean forward, turn up the radio, and shout out "Speak up, Dad! Can't hear you!"
Jake turned the wheel as the car went around a corner, and turned off the radio as he pulled up to a curb – chauffered to the prison I've been remanded to for the next three years, Daria thought. Oh, joy.
"Uh, where was I?" Jake continued. "Oh, yeah... don't get upset if it takes the other kids a little while to warm up to you."
Daria shook her head as – just outside the car – she heard Quinn and 'some of the natives' in conversation:
"Hi! You're cool. What's your name?"
"Will you go out with me?"
She blinked hard. Now, that's just too weird – even for being me.
"See you later, Dad."
Daria lay back on her bed, staring up at the television set bolted to the ceiling. And that's just the least strange thing I've seen today.
Today had to be the worst case of having flashbacks, or flash-forwards, or flash-three-spaces-up–and-two-overs that I've ever heard of. Maybe the brown acid that Dad took from that other hippie guy finally seeped out of my DNA and into something of mine that's making a difference – or maybe I'm getting alien powers.
Her mind drifted back to that weird kid that she had seen at the UFO convention the day before – or something, she thought. Hey, Artie? Better watch out. I may decide to take you off in my flying saucer to serve me as I tan on Mount Olympus across from the parking lot with Apollo's chariot, and your skin down in my mole-machine to my imperial underground nut-mines, so it can command my legions of squirrels as they dig for their supper.
Okay. That was too sarcastic – even for me. Eloi Body and Morlock skin – yuck.
A tiny smile went across her face. Eloi body - and Morlock brain. Hey. That sounds like my sister.
She reached over to pick up the cordless phone she had taken from downstairs – over Quinn's wailing protests – and dialed a number. Maybe I'll give Jane a laugh about this. It has Sick, Sad World written all over it.
A sliver of worry poked Daria as she heard Jane Lane's voice on the other end of the connection. "Hello? Who's calling?"
"Hi, Jane. It's me. Daria."
The voice suddenly took on a guarded tone."Daria who?"
Daria drew back to stare at the phone, before placing it back to her ear. "Ha, ha. That's funny. It's me."
The voice got noticeably cooler. "Look, whoever this is – trying to get all chummy with me isn't going to work. I don't care what you think we owe you – I know the law! I'm asking you to stop calling! The law says that you can only contact us through the mail! Goodbye!"
The way Jane had spoken so rattled Daria that she didn't even notice Quinn enter her room. "Daria – other people need to actually use the phone," the perky redhead huffed, tapping her right foot at a fast tempo. "Can we have it back, please?"
"Yeah. I guess." Daria sat up on her bed, and tossed the phone without looking.
Quinn had to dash to catch the phone before it would have landed neatly in the small wastepaper basket next to Daria's desk.
"You know," Quinn said, looking down her adorable nose at her sister as she cradled the phone like a lost child returned home, "It's very sad when people have to pretend to have friends and tie up the phone when people who actually have friends and actually need to call them can't because of lonely, confused and sad people..."
Daria shot her sister a cross look. "I have a friend."
The bubbling laugh flowed through the room, annoying Daria even more. "You? Make a friend - let alone, on the first day of school? Like that'll ever happen anywhere except on that weird show about weird stuff happening in the place where the bones glow just before sunset, or something?"
It was all Daria could do to keep from burying her face in her hands – or better, Quinn's face in my pillow. "It's 'The Twilight Zone', Quinn. 'Zone'. Learn to use it in a sentence."
The tiny, adorable nose crinkled in a way that made Daria want to hit it as Quinn took a look around her sister's room. "Ew. Even your room is weird."
She turned around, but then, glanced back. "Or, should I say 'Even your room is a weird zone'."
"Whatever," Daria snipped off, as the door to her room closed behind Quinn. "I'll just ask Jane tomorrow why the hell did she act like she didn't know me."
She laid back down on her bed, adjusting the pillow as she did so. Tomorrow, the weirdness – or whatever I accidentally ate or drank – will be gone. All I need... is just a good night's sleep.
The next day, as Daria walked through the crowd in the Lawndale High hallway, students oblivious to her presence, she knew that something was seriously wrong.
"S.O.S.," she said, to no one in particular. "Girl definitely overboard."