Jane pulled the aging pick-up truck into the parking space at the local general store. In rural Montana, they had never heard of a PayDay or a Mall of the Millennium. Jane rather liked it, and (though she was rarely communicative these days), Daria seemed to like it too.
"Hey Fred," Jane announced herself as she entered the store and began selecting her purchases. "How's your nephew?"
Fred's nephew delivered messages to Jane and Daria's cabin, as they did not have a phone. The young man had taken ill several days previous, however, so Jane had to pick up any messages in town. It had been three days since she had last checked them.
"Oh, he's getting better," Fred shared as he retrieved the notepad he wrote messages on. "Miss Lane, a few days ago I got a message that sounds awful important."
"What is it?" Jane asked, a tiny pang in her stomach.
"It says, 'Tom escaped Juniper Hill'... Jane? Where are you going?"
Jane did not let Fred finish reading the note before she ran outside and fired up the pickup, racing back to the cabin at twice the speed limit. It usually took a two-hour round-trip at the best of times, but Jane normally didn't push the old truck as hard as she could.
Maybe when she returned to town with Daria, she would tell Fred all about the horrors Tom Sloane inflicted when he went off the deep end one fine day, killing Daria's father, driving her sister insane, and mutilating her and her mother. She and Daria had finally moved up here with Helen's permission (Helen staying in Lawndale to throw herself into her work - she was actually a senior partner now).
She knew she was being silly, of course - there was no way Tom could possibly make it up here in such a short amount of time...
Jane pulled up in front of the cabin. She had made it in just over 20 minutes, setting what felt like a land speed record. She looked around - nothing unusual on the outside, but on the inside all the lights were off. No, wait, she spied the flickering of flame. Daria must have started up the fireplace. Still...
Jane pulled the double-barreled shotgun out from its resting place behind the seat. She checked it over, then pulled two shells from the box under the seat, loaded them into the breech, hesitated, then took two more and tucked them into the breast pocket of her shirt. She knew she was acting extremely paranoid, but there wasn't anybody besides Daria for miles around. Daria was emotionally deadened by her ordeal anyway, so Jane could probably point the gun at her face and she would hardly blink.
She cautiously edged her way up to the cabin door, glancing left and right and behind every so often to make sure she wasn't being snuck up on. She gently tapped on the door upon reaching it, calling out, "Daria? You there?"
She turned the knob of the door, pushed in a little, then pushed the door all the way open with her foot, placing both hands on the gun again. Light from the outside cast her shadow on the living room rug. She waited to let her eyes adjust to the near-darkness inside before she ventured further in. The fireplace was in the dining room, so Jane went in there.
"Tom," she growled, seeing him in silhouette against the crackling fire. "Where's Daria?"
"I found the perfect hobby," he said incoherently. "Snow-globe collecting!"
He turned around, holding something large and cylindrical in his hands.
"Snow-globes are cute and can provide hours of amusement for the easily amused! Just shake and watch those fabulous faux-flakes fall!" He began to shake it, and Jane noticed it was full of red-stained water and...something else.
Tom then rolled the object across the floor to Jane. Jane watched its approach, and as it came to a wobbling stop she screamed as Daria's lifeless eyes looked up at her from inside the...water cooler bottle?
True to his description, tiny little flakes (which might have been shredded newspaper) floated through the macabre display, coming to rest on Daria's face or the bottom of the bottle.
Jane's eyes took in more horrific details - Daria's head had been crudely sawed away (evidenced by the jaggedly-cut neck terminating into nothing where her body should have been). She noticed a hacksaw lying atop the dining room table and behind the table...Daria's body.
She also observed that the bottle itself had been opened and then duct-taped shut to accomodate Daria's head. (It was gradually leaking its water out, however, the tape failing at containment).
Tom casually picked up a hammer which was also on the table and approached Jane. Jane fired both barrels of the shotgun into his chest, sending him flying back, dead.
Jane numbly pulled the two other shells out of her shirt pocket and loaded the shotgun again. She considered the two dead people, then looked at the shotgun itself.
"This is how she was found," the doctor explained to Helen Morgendorffer. They were staring into the next room, where Jane sat, catatonic. The only evidence she was alive was the gradual rise and fall of her chest.
"Will she ever come out of it?" Helen asked.
"That's hard to say, Ms. Morgendorffer, especially this early in her treatment. We will, of course, give her the utmost in care."
Helen nodded. "I'll need her to be ready to leave in three days - I don't want her to miss my daughter's funeral."
"Of course, ma'am," nodded the doctor. Helen turned around and left.
And so endeth the sequel to Night of the Living Furniture! This fic was inspired when TAG posted an image in the Fandom Blog Mk. II from the old official Daria site, showing Daria's bust (not THAT bust, perverts) in a snow globe. The image also had some text discussing the hobby of snow-globe collecting, some of which I lifted and used for Tom's dialogue.
Hm...I first wrote this two years ago, and haven't thought about it once between then and now. Only upon reviewing it for putting onto OD did I realize the ending is a little ambiguous. And by "a little ambiguous" I mean "I have no effin' clue as to whether or not Jane blew the top of her skull off". I'm tempted to believe she just went catatonic after blowing Tom away, but I'm not sure. Sorry about that, folks!
Anyway, upon seeing the image, I was immediately struck for the idea for this sequel, and wrote it over the course of several hours. Thanks for reading!