Daria in 'Temple of Gloom'

Rated: TV-PG for a few swears and mild violence

Short summary:

Ms Li has a secret. A student goes missing. Human sacrifice in Lawndale? Daria and Jane explore a tomb. What does this have to do with high school? More than you'd think.

Note: the story takes place shortly after 'Is It Fall Yet?' at the beginning of Daria's senior year.

Daria (and associated characters and locations) is copyright (c) 1997-2000 MTV Networks

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is trademark (tm) and copyright (c) 1984 by LucasFilm Ltd.

Tomb Raider and Lara Croft are trademark (tm) and copyright (c) 1996-2000 Core Design and Eidos.

This story is copyright (c) 2000 Mystik Slacker (mystik_slacker@hotmail.com) and has been written for personal enjoyment. No infringement of the above rights is intended.

Intro, with title 'Daria, in "Temple of Gloom"':


Establishing shot: Exterior. Lawndale High - Day.

Interior. Classroom.

Mr. DeMartino faces his American History class. Behind him, the blackboard has phrases like "Lawndale History", "Massacre", "Settlers", and "Burial Mounds" written on it.

Daria and Jane are seated on the right (as viewed from the teacher's perspective) in the second row. Brittany and Kevin are just left of the center in the front row. The usual other students from Daria's classes are present.

As DeMartino speaks, he appears on the verge of attacking the class, or perhaps of simply suffering a heart attack from stress. In other words, he's his usual self.

The camera switches to each person as they speak.

DEMARTINO: (calmly, for him) So, CLASS, who can tell me the significance of the ARTIFACTS on display at the Lawndale MALL this month? (Beat) Brittany?

BRITTANY: (twirling hair around finger, uncertain) The new fall styles have arrived?

DEMARTINO: (no longer calm, his eye bulges with stress). I'm TALKING about the display of archaeological RELICS unearthed during the construction of this SCHOOL, which are on LOAN from the state MUSEUM of antiquities. Do ANY of you read the town PAPER?

KEVIN: (sounding clueless) Uh, was that assigned reading?

DEMARTINO: (sarcastically) No KEVIN, this is not a CIVICS class. Being AWARE of the present state of the TOWN you live in is NOT a requirement.

KEVIN: (happier) Well, that's okay then.

DEMARTINO: (pleading tone) Daria, surely YOU can tell us SOMETHING about these relics?

DARIA: (mildly irritated at being singled out yet again) Those relics are the last traces of the original inhabitants of this region, who were displaced or exterminated by the European settlers...

The PA Interrupts, drowning out anything else Daria might have said. The camera remains on Daria (Jane is also in view next to her), who stops talking and scowls.

MS LI: (Off screen) (brief feedback noise, then annoyed) Damn this thing, how do they expect me to run a school with such outdated equipment. Oh. (Beat, continues in a normal voice) I want to remind everyone that this Saturday we're having a recycling drive at the school to raise funds so that all of you can be fingerprinted for your own safety. Please encourage your parents to clean out their attics and garages. Also, due to the lack of volunteers seniors should remember that participation in school activities is important, and your presence tomorrow should be considered mandatory. That is, if you want to graduate. Thank you.

Jane and Daria look at each other unhappily.

Interior. Jane's room - Night.

Close-up of television screen with Sick, Sad World Logo. Logo dissolves to a woman in a gold-encrusted dress, smiling at the camera, with her arms behind her back.

SSW ANNOUNCER: (Off screen) She took his heart, (Beat, then more forcefully) and burned it. (The woman pulls a large knife from behind her back) Kali cults in America! Tonight on Sick, Sad, World.

The camera pulls back to show Daria lying on her stomach on Jane's bed, holding the remote. Jane is standing to one side, painting what appear to be settlers being massacred by Indians. Daria hits the mute button.

JANE: That's what this town needs, a good cult.

DARIA: How do you know we don't have one? The really interesting cults you'll never hear about until they cause a bloodbath. Speaking of which, I don't think that's accurate attire for the Lawndale natives. They didn't wear feather headdresses.

JANE: (waving paintbrush for emphasis, and with a slightly louder than normal voice) How many times do I need to tell you, it's representational. These are HOLLYWOOD Indians, not real ones. A painting is not a photograph. (Beat, in a normal voice) And why are you so well informed anyway? We haven't covered native clothing in class.

DARIA: I've been reading ahead. I empathize with them. They're people who suffered for being different from the popular crowd.

JANE: I hate to burst your bubble amiga, but European settlers were usually people who didn't get along at home themselves. I don't think they'd qualify as a "popular crowd".

DARIA: Still, genocide makes high school seem less dire.

JANE: Well, I can't argue with that.

Exterior. Lawndale High - Twilight.

Wide shot of a figure hurrying across a field away from the school in the background. Camera zooms in to show Stacy, with a worried look.

STACY: (aloud, but to herself) Oh, I'm going to be late, and Sandi is going to kill me. Why did he have to pick today to keep me after school to talk about my grades? It's not like they're THAT bad. I'm still passing.

The camera pans to follow her as she hurries past, towards some trees on the edge of the field. She disappears into the trees with much rustling of leaves and snapping of branches.

STACY: (from off screen) Oh no, what... Eep!

All is quiet. The camera remains on the woods for a short time, but there are no further sounds or motion, a cricket chirps. Fade to black.

Establishing shot: Exterior. Lawndale Mall - Twilight.

Interior. Lawndale Mall.

The Fashion Club (Sandi, Quinn and Tiffany), except for Stacy, is standing in front of a glass display case outside of a clothing store. The case contains gold jewelry of a geometric, Central American appearance.

TIFFANY: (slowly, monotone) I wonder... what could be keeping... Stacy.

SANDI: (seemingly unconcerned) This jewelry isn't very good; it's too large to be tasteful.

QUINN: (falsely positive) You're SO right Sandi, it IS too large. (Beat, normal voice) But it's not like her to miss a sale.

SANDI: (annoyed) Well, if she can't be bothered to be on time, we'll just have to start without her.

Quinn glances at Sandi with a look of surprise. Sandi heads into store, Quinn and Tiffany follow.

Interior. Morgendorffer Kitchen - Night.

The family is seated around the dinner table. Dinner is Lasagna (what else?) Quinn is talking; the others listen, and eat.

QUINN: (sounding worried) ... and Stacy never showed up. That's not like her. She's very punctual. And her mother said she never came home from school. She missed the display at the mall. There was this really neat jewelry they found when they were building the school.

HELEN: (surprised, and worried) Really? Has her mother called the police? Maybe I should call her.

QUINN: (even more worried by the prospect of Helen's involvement) Mo-omm! (Quinn thinks briefly, then changes the subject, her voice goes from worried to excited) The jewelry was solid gold, and huge. It must be worth a fortune.

Helen looks like she's going to say something, but the phone rings. Helen picks up, stands up from the table and steps into the kitchen as she talks.

HELEN: (animated) Helen Morgendorffer. (Pause) Really Eric, they said that? (Pause) No, I agree, we can't act like they have us worried. (Pause) But we really should... (voice fades to a murmur as she moves further from the table)

DARIA: (to Quinn) It's a good thing Ms Li wasn't in charge when they dug that up, or she'd have melted it down to pay for more security systems for the school.

QUINN: Yeah.

The two exchange a rare look of agreement.

Establishing shot: Exterior. Lawndale High - Day.

Wide view of the school parking lot. Students wearing green t-shirts are moving about tables piled with paper, bottles, and cans. Adults are unloading recyclables from car trunks.

Interior. School basement.

This part of the basement is a dusty room, lit by infrequent overhead bulbs. It looks older than the rest of the school. The room is filled with ranks of free-standing steel shelves filled with unidentified boxes, cans of paint, and similar junk. A small window high on one wall admits some light.

Daria enters around the corner of some shelving, carrying a cardboard box filled with bottles. Jane follows, similarly encumbered. Both are wearing green shirts with a "Recycle Lawndale, Acme Industries" motto and their usual skirt/shorts and boots. Neither wears a jacket. Both have beads of sweat on their faces, presumably from carrying boxes in the hot sun.

DARIA: Mr. O'Neill said we should stack them as far back as we could. This looks like the place.

JANE: You realize that by the time we get back outside, the trucks will probably have arrived and we'll just have to take this out again?

DARIA: Yes, but you try explaining that to him. If Mr. DeMartino couldn't make him see sense, what chance do we have? (Beat) Besides, it's cool in here, and I don't see any need to hurry back. Let's look around; I've never been down here before. (Sets her box down against the wall)

JANE: (looking around after setting her box down) I'm not sure anyone has been down here recently, it's pretty dusty. (Beat) But it is cool, and I could use the rest. (She sits on the floor next to the boxes).

DARIA: (walking out of sight behind some shelving, her voice comes from off screen while the camera remains on Jane) It does look abandoned. (Beat) I'll bet this is part of the original school that burned down in 1962. The excavations that Mr. DeMartino was talking about yesterday were for the auditorium. They could have reused the existing foundations for other parts of the school.

JANE: (still sitting on floor) Well, you go explore Indiana Morgendorffer, and I'll guard the entrance against hostile natives. Watch out for snakes.

DARIA: (still off screen) Hey Jane, come look at this. It's not as abandoned as I thought.

JANE: (muttering to herself) It better not be Kali cultists, or I'm going home. (gets up)

Cut to view of Daria behind the shelves, looking at a steel fire door with big hinges and a shiny padlock. Jane enters from the left.

JANE: (with false enthusiasm) You've discovered a door! Now you can publish in all the scientific journals.

DARIA: (points to door) That padlock is brand new, and look at that red stain on the floor.

Jane looks at the door, then the floor.

JANE: (sounds uncertain) It's a paint stain.

DARIA: There are paint cans all over the room, but this is the only stain I've seen, and why would anyone lock up paint behind a steel door anyway. (Beat) I wonder if I could get this open.

JANE: I left my lock picks in my jacket pocket.

DARIA: Very funny. The hinges are exposed, and it's just a fire door, not a vault. I could probably remove them with a screwdriver.

JANE: I left the toolbox in my jacket pocket also. (Beat, beginning to be worried that Daria will do something) We should get back outside before Mr. DeMartino has a coronary.

Ms Li enters from the same direction Jane came. She is wearing her usual suit, no t-shirt.

MS LI: Ah Ha!

DARIA AND JANE: (shocked, guilty looks) Eep!

MS LI: (forcefully) The hallway motion detector was correct; there is someone down here. What do you two think you are doing?

DARIA: (quickly) Looking for a place to stack boxes of bottles. Mr. O'Neill sent us down here.

MS LI: (still suspicious) Well, you can't store them here. You shouldn't even be here; this room is for storing dangerous chemicals. (Mutters to herself) What was that idiot thinking? (To the girls) Take the boxes back outside.

Ms Li leaves. Daria and Jane look at each other, and then head back to the boxes. Daria glances back at the door with a thoughtful look as they go.

Fade out.

Interlude (a video montage with music):

Stacy walks towards the camera in the field behind the school.

The Fashion Club looks at jewelry.

Jane paints a massacre.

Daria and Jane look at the door.

Commercial Break

You think I am going to describe these? Use the fast-forward button.


Exterior. Lawndale High School - Midday Saturday.

Daria and Jane are working at one of the tables seen earlier, sorting bottles into different boxes by color and type. Various students work at other tables in the background tying paper in bundles and sorting bottles. Jodie walks up with a clipboard.

JODIE: How many boxes so far? (Looks, makes notes on clipboard) Hey, you guys are really working at this. That's more than any other table.

DARIA: (mildly annoyed that Jodie would expect them to slack off) It's a great way to avoid having to carry heavy piles of newspaper around.

JODIE: (doesn't rise to the bait) Did you see the police earlier, talking to Ms. Li?

JANE: (a bit nervous) Just recently?

JODIE: No, when we were setting up this morning. It looked like they were searching the school grounds for something.

DARIA: That was before we got here. Jane overslept.

JANE: (defensive) Hey, Trent and the band were practicing in the basement all night. I didn't get to sleep until late.

DARIA: (ignores the excuse, to Jodie with a concerned tone) Quinn said last night that Stacy had disappeared on the way home from school. Maybe she's still missing.

JODIE: (looks worried) Stacy? Now I am worried. She'd never go off on her own.

DARIA: (looking worried herself) Yeah.

JODIE: (taken aback) I'm surprised you're worried. I thought you despised your sisters little clique.

DARIA: (defensive) I'm not worried. (Beat) But if something were going to happen to anyone here, she's certainly a born victim. She lets Quinn and the others walk all over her.

JANE: (looks appraisingly at Daria) It's what they do best.

DARIA: (irritated) Yes, but she doesn't have to make it so easy for them. She should stand up for herself.

JANE: Oh-kay, you're concerned about one of the fashion zombies. (Beat) So, what have you done with the real Daria?

DARIA: I'm just annoyed that someone's letting Quinn get away with something. (Beat) And maybe I am a bit worried that something's happened to her.

Jodie looks off screen.

JODIE: Whoops, have to go save Mr. O'Neill from himself again. Later. (She hurries off)

Daria and Jane continue to sort bottles. Daria has a thoughtful look on her face.

DARIA: Did Ms. Li seem like she was hiding something earlier?

JANE: She always seems like that.

DARIA: No, she was more concerned with getting us out of that room than with interrogating us. That's not her usual style.

JANE: True, she is the rubber hose and bright lights type. (Beat) So, we got off easy, maybe she's more relaxed on Saturdays. Be thankful.

DARIA: Quinn was telling us at dinner last night about some gold jewelry she saw at the mall.

JANE: (surprised) Have you been out in the sun too long? First Stacy, now jewelry. If you start talking about fall fashions, I'm calling a doctor.

DARIA: (amused) No, it was from the exhibit. My point is that gold was found when they did the construction for the school. What if Ms Li found more of it, and is melting it down to fund security equipment? Maybe Stacy saw something she shouldn't have.

JANE: If she had a cache of gold, we wouldn't be slaving away in the sun for this fundraiser. (Beat) And rubber hoses not withstanding, I can't see Ms. Li harming anyone.

DARIA: Yep, there's too much liability in losing a student on school grounds. (Beat) The fundraiser could be a cover to launder the money. She can't just deposit funds from nowhere into the school budget. The town does have accountants. (Beat) Although I suppose they'd be suspicious of a recycling fundraiser that earned tens of thousands of dollars.

JANE: You give the town's civil servants way too much credit. (Beat) Not that I'm agreeing with you. I still think you've had too much sun.

Brittany walks up, carrying a stack of magazines bound with twine. She looks at Daria and Jane sorting bottles.

BRITTANY: (perky) That looks hard. It's a good thing we have some brains at the school.

DARIA: (with an edge of annoyance) Yes, sorting different types of plastic by the little marks is harder than sorting magazines by the color of the covers.

BRITTANY: (surprised, looks at her bundle of magazines) We're supposed to do that? Oh no. (Runs off agitatedly, from off screen) Kevvy!

JANE: Now that was just cruel. You realize she's going to spend the next hour untying and sorting the magazines she'd already packed away. (Beat) I'm proud of you.

DARIA: (pensive) That probably was a bit much, I should tell her I was joking. (Smiles) In a few minutes.

JANE: So, disappearing co-ed's aside, why are you so concerned that Ms Li might be hiding something?

DARIA: It's just that I think history is important. We know next to nothing about the people who originally lived here, and if she is destroying or hiding artifacts, we're not going to learn much more.

JANE: Well, I admit the thought of art being destroyed for profit does annoy me. (Beat) What are we going to do about it, then?

Daria smiles.

Interior. School Basement - That night.

The room is faintly illuminated by a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. The other lights are off.

The window creaks open and an arm reaches through and drops a backpack to the floor. Then Daria's boots come into view as she lowers herself into the room. Grasping the window frame, she drops the last couple of feet to the floor and looks up.

Daria is dressed in black jeans, and the green Acme Industries recycling shirt (as well as her usual boots). No jacket. A black aluminum flashlight hangs on her right hip through a loop on her belt. She steps back as Jane lowers herself down. Jane is dressed normally (red jacket over t-shirt, shorts and leggings, boots).

JANE: (looking at window) Getting in was easy since you unlocked the window before we left, but getting out will be tricky.

DARIA: We can stack boxes next to the window when it's time to leave. Or, we can just run out the door, and be far away by the time the rent-a-cop responds to the motion detector alarm. Quit worrying.

Daria picks up her pack and proceeds to the door, followed by Jane. Opening her pack, she takes out a screwdriver and begins to remove the hinges.

DARIA: It really is odd to have a lock on a door with exposed hinges. This must be a later addition to the original door. And there's no sign of alarms either.

JANE: You mean, alarms that you can see.

Daria continues to work. Fade out and back in, Daria stands by the door. The hinges hang loose. The two pull the hinge side of the door towards them and look into the darkness beyond.

Interior. Service Hallway.

The camera looks at the open doorway from inside the darkness, with the basement room beyond. The door hangs askew from the padlock hasp. The doorway frames Daria and Jane.

Daria pulls her flashlight, and shines it into the camera, then waves it around, revealing a hallway with pipes or electrical conduits along one wall, and cans of paint stacked just inside the doorway. The hallway is even dustier than the basement, and the walls are rough brick. Daria kneels to examine the paint.

DARIA: (reading label) "Red Marine Paint for use on submerged metal". The school doesn't have a boat. What could this be for?

JANE: It can't be for the school anyway, marine paint has lead and other toxic chemicals in it to prevent barnacles. You couldn't use it in a school building.

DARIA: (surprised) How on earth did you know that?

Jane smirks.

JANE: (smug) It's paint. I know my paint. (normal voice) I used some lead-based paint I found in our basement once for a school mural, and nearly got suspended when the teacher found out. They had to call in specialists to remove the mural. It took weeks. (Beat) I was really upset at the time, but in hindsight, it was great performance art.

Daria looks up at Jane, who now has a nostalgic look on her face, and shakes her head. Then stands up.

DARIA: Then what's it doing locked up here?

JANE: (back to the present) Well, it is good for rust proofing. Someone who didn't know the risks might have used it for that. (Beat) Say, as a primer coat on those steel security bars they added to the administrative offices over the summer. If Ms. Li realized later what they had done, hiding it would make sense. You can't just dump this stuff in a landfill or incinerate it.

DARIA: (looks impressed) You know, in your own area of expertise, you're quite the "brain" yourself.

JANE: (pleased, but acting annoyed) Say that again and I'm going home.

Daria turns, hiding a smile, and starts down the hallway lighting the way with her flashlight. Jane follows. The camera turns to follow them. The light from the doorway fades as they move away, and there is no light source other than the flashlight. After a short walk, they come to a cross corridor. This one has pipes wrapped in tattered cloth insulation running along the ceiling.

DARIA: Those are probably steam pipes for the school's heating system, but that insulation looks really old.

She reaches up and tears a small piece off, looks at it, then tucks it in her pants pocket.

DARIA: (gesturing ahead down the service hallway) Let's keep going, the dust on the floor looks disturbed this way.

The camera remains stationary as the girls move ahead, the light goes with them.

Gradually fade to black.

Interior. Service Hallway - A short time later.

The two stop as the hallway ends in a vertical shaft, which appears newer than the hallway. The camera looks over their shoulders as Daria flashes the light around. Across a ten-foot gap the hallway continues. Down, still water lies about six feet below them. Small drainpipes lead into the shaft from all sides, and stains below them indicate past water flow. A large culvert, blocked with a steel grating, leads off to the right just above the water line. Above, the shaft ends abruptly in a padlocked metal grating. Iron rungs in the concrete of the shaft lead from the water to the grating.

JANE: A storm drain. Well, I'm not going swimming tonight. I think we've come as far as we can.

DARIA: That's exactly what someone wants us to think. (Shines flashlight into hallway opening across shaft) Look, I'll bet that catwalk usually crosses this shaft.

Daria's flashlight illuminates a narrow metal catwalk lying on the floor of the hallway opposite them.

DARIA: You're athletic, if you took a running start you could catch the edge and climb in, then push it over.

Jane looks over at the hallway, down at the water, then at Daria.

JANE: Are you crazy? You jump, I'll go for the paramedics. (Beat) Come up with a less suicidal idea.

Daria looks around, notices the pipes in the hallway continue across the pit above eye level. She hands the flashlight to Jane, then pulls herself up, and drops back down holding a rope.

DARIA: Okay, option two.

Daria starts to pull the rope, which appears to be tied to the catwalk somewhere out of sight. The catwalk slides towards them easily, as if on rollers. When the catwalk is resting firmly across the pit, she waves Jane forward.

DARIA: After you.

Jane walks across carefully, Daria follows coiling the rope. At the far side, she unties it from the catwalk, and places it in her pack.

DARIA: This could come in useful. (Beat, looks backwards suddenly) Did you hear that?

JANE: (glancing back) No, what?

DARIA: It sounded like a footstep.

JANE: Probably just an echo of ours. If anyone knew we were here, they'd just arrest us for trespassing, not follow us. (Beat) Of course, it could be rats. Or Kali cultists. (Beat) Come on, you're the one who wanted to explore. Let's go.

Jane heads off, Daria slings he pack over her shoulder and follows. The camera remains in place, watching their backs recede. Their footsteps fade. Darkness and silence descends, broken by a nearby scuffing noise, like a shoe sliding on brick.

Interior. Service Hallway - A short time later.

The camera follows Daria and Jane as they walk forward, Jane is still leading.

JANE: This goes on forever. Where could it be going? And why would anyone dig a tunnel when they could just bury the pipes?

DARIA: I'd guess we're near the street behind the school by now. These pipes are probably electrical conduits, but I have no idea why anyone would put a tunnel in for this whole distance. (Beat) Somebody's brother owned a brick factory maybe?

JANE: Your tax dollars at work. Yes, that makes sense. (Beat) Hey, it's the end, and this looks interesting.

Jane shines the flashlight on the floor as they come to the end of the tunnel (the pipes turn and go up next to a padlocked metal hatch in the ceiling at this point). A metal ladder is bolted to the wall leading up. In the floor, a ragged hole is revealed. Jane shines the light down.

JANE: There's a room down below, but it's made of stone, not brick. (Beat) Don't get too close, it looks like part of the ceiling of the other room collapsed and took our floor with it.

Daria looks, then pulls the rope from her pack and ties one end off to the ladder, dropping the rest through the hole. Jane looks at her, stunned.

JANE: You cannot be serious. You've never done well in rope climbing in gym.

DARIA: I'm not great at it, but it's barely ten feet, and I've climbed higher than that plenty of times. (Beat) Do you really want to stop now? It's just getting interesting.

JANE: (resigned) Very well, after you Lara.

Daria glares at her, and then starts down the rope. Jane shines the flashlight down to light her way.

Interior. Stone Room.

Jane shines the flashlight down from above, illuminating only the center of the room as Daria slides down the rope slowly, onto a pile of lose stone blocks, bricks and dirt. Jane tosses her the flashlight once she is down, and then comes down the rope herself.

Once down, Daria shines the light around the room, and sees a wooden ladder in the corner. The light also reveals that the room is made of large stone blocks; rough hewn and set together apparently without mortar, but with very precise joints. Carvings on the stone are reminiscent of the jewelry Quinn was looking at in the mall. A passageway exits through one wall, and another filled with rubble is opposite it.

JANE: Wow. (Looks at carvings) This is cool. I feel inspiration coming on. (Beat) Why didn't I bring my sketchbook?

DARIA: This looks Aztec. But there's no evidence that they settled this far north.

JANE: (relieved) Aztec? Well, at least we won't be likely to meet any Kali cultists down here then.

DARIA: Yes, but the Aztecs were noted for bloody human sacrifices as well.

JANE: (dryly) Thank you for sharing that upbeat thought. I feel so much better for knowing that.

DARIA: (smugly) Well, I just wanted to take your mind off those Kali cultists you've been obsessed with. (Beat, normal voice) Come on, let's see what's down here.

Daria heads into the passage, Jane follows. The camera follows both, but only for a few feet. The passage ends in a stone door.

DARIA: (taps door with flashlight) That's pretty solid. (Looks down) But the dirt at the bottom has been disturbed. I wonder if it moves. (Beat) Hold this.

Daria passes the flashlight back to Jane, and pushes on various edges of the door. The left side gives slightly.

DARIA: Help me push.

Daria puts her shoulder against the left side of the door and pushes with her legs, Jane leans over her and pushes with both arms (still holding the flashlight in one hand, reflected light from the ceiling provides a dim illumination).

DARIA: It's starting to move.

Suddenly the door swings wide, and Daria tumbles onto her back. Jane lands atop her. The flashlight rolls away and goes out, plunging the room into darkness.

Interlude II (a video montage with music):

Daria and Jane sort bottles.

Daria removes the door hinges.

Jane crosses the bridge.

Daria starts down the rope.

Commercial Break

It's fast-forward button time again.


Interior. Second Stone Room.

The room is very dimly lit, from no apparent source. Daria and Jane lie in a tangle in the doorway, atop some loose rocks.

DARIA: (annoyed, and short of breath) Get off me, dammit.

JANE: (equally annoyed) I'm trying, but the floor's so rough I can't get my footing. (Beat, stands up) Hey, I can see.

DARIA: (struggling to rise, and having the same problem with the rough floor) Good, can you see the flashlight? (Looks up) Look, the sky.

Both look up, above them the room rises in a beehive shape at least twenty feet. At the top, a small hole admits moonlight, although the moon itself is out of sight. The room is about fifteen feet across at the base, and full of indistinct shapes. A central mound rises in the center of the room, to a height of six or seven feet.

Jane drops to her knees and feels around on the floor.

JANE: The light would have rolled off to my right, so it must be over here somewhere. (Beat) Got it.

Jane turns on the light, and shines it around. Some paint cans are stacked against one wall. The central mound is revealed as a stone altar, surmounted with a pile of dry brush and leaves. As the flashlight moves upwards, it reveals a body atop the leaves. The body moves.


As they scream, Jane waves the flashlight about. The body is seen silhouetted in light reflected off the walls. The body gradually rises to a seated position.

Both turn and bolt for the doorway, colliding as they try to pass through it together, they fall to the ground. As they start to get up, Daria looks back.

DARIA: Hey! It's Stacy.

Daria moves towards the altar. Jane follows with the flashlight. Stacy sits on the brush, with a large red bump on her forehead, and a wild look in her eyes.

STACY: (panicked) No, stay away from me. HELP!

DARIA: Stacy, it's okay, it's Daria and Jane. (Beat) You know, Quinn's houseguest.

STACY: Oh God! (Throws her arms around Daria, who's too surprised to avoid her) You found me! I thought I was going to die down here! (Beat, lets go of Daria and remains sitting on the altar) Did Sandi ask you to help look for me when I didn't show up?

DARIA: (embarrassed) Um, no. We were looking for something else actually. How did you get here?

STACY: I was late leaving school because Mr. O'Neill wanted to talk about my grades, so I tried to take a shortcut through the woods to the Mall. Then the ground gave way, and I must have hit my head. I woke up down here in the morning. (Emotion chokes her voice) Oh, I've been sick, and hungry, and so scared! (Starts to sob)

JANE: You probably have a concussion from hitting your head. That would explain the sick part. We need to get you to the hospital. (Beat) Can you walk?

STACY: (stops sobbing, but speaks in a voice thick with emotion) Yes. Not quickly, but I can walk. Just get me out of here.

Interior. First Stone Room.

Daria enters the room with the flashlight, while Stacy follows slowly, and Jane brings up the rear. Jane helps Stacy to sit on some blocks, while Daria moves to the ladder.

DARIA: Jane, if we put the ladder up, and use the rope as a safety line, Stacy should be able to climb up.

JANE: (coming over) It's a plan.

Daria drops the flashlight into her belt holster, so that the light shines up on the ceiling to give them some indirect light. The two lift the ladder into place, and Jane climbs up. Daria comes over to Stacy.

DARIA: How are you doing?

STACY: (in a normal, but tired, voice) I'm fine. Ready to go?


Daria gives Stacy a hand up, then leads her over to the ladder and ties the rope around her chest just under the arms and waves to Jane, who loops the rope around one of the electrical conduits, and braces herself, then takes up the slack.

JANE: Okay, come on up.

Interior. Service Hallway.

Stacy starts to climb, with Daria right behind her steadying her. Jane keeps the rope tight. After Stacy climbs out of the hole, she leans against one wall as if she is being sick with nothing in her stomach. Jane puts her arm around her shoulder. Daria climbs out of the hole, and takes out the flashlight.

DARIA: (to Jane, concerned) How is she? Should one of us stay with her and the other go for help?

STACY: (between heaves) I'll be okay in a minute. I'm not helpless.

DARIA: (quietly serious) I wasn't suggesting you were, Stacy. I'm surprised you can even move after what you've been through, much less climb ladders. I'm not sure I could. Take as much time as you need.

JANE: (darting a surprised look at Daria) Besides amiga, you forget we only have the one flashlight.

DARIA: Good point. Memo to self, bring a second flashlight, water, and food on next expedition.

JANE: (incredulous) What 'next expedition', this wasn't enough for you?

Stacy stands up, wiping her mouth on the back of her hand.

DARIA: (to Jane) Take this.

Daria hands Jane the flashlight, and rummages in her pack.

DARIA: (to Stacy) I have some tissues in here.

Daria pulls out a small travel pack of tissue, and hands it to Stacy, who smiles and takes it.

There is the sound of a footstep from the darkness behind Daria. She looks at Jane, who obviously heard it too.

DARIA: (softly) Kill the light.

Jane turns off the flashlight. Suddenly a bright light shines on the three girls, blinding Jane and Stacy.

MALE VOICE: (from behind the light) I have you now!

Daria's back is to the light. She spins and throws her pack at the light, then dives after it. The light goes out in a crash, and there are the sounds of a scuffle in the darkness (muffled thuds, gasps). The sounds die down.

DARIA: I've got him; turn on the light.

Jane turns on the flashlight, to reveal Daria kneeling on the back of a prone man. He turns his head, and we see it is Upchuck, somewhat the worse for wear.

UPCHUCK: (weakly) Ooh, feisty!

Daria looks disgusted. Stands up. Upchuck gets up slowly, as if checking that his limbs still work.

DARIA: (irritated) Upchuck, what the hell are you doing here?

UPCHUCK: I saw you break into the school earlier, and said to myself 'Charles, whatever the lovely Ms. Morgendorffer is up to, you can't let her do it alone'.

JANE: What do you mean alone, I was here!

Stacy runs up to Daria and hugs her again.

STACY: Daria, that was so brave!

DARIA: (recoiling) Uh, yeah. Please let go of me. (Stacy lets go)

UPCHUCK: Do I get a hug too? I'm the one who got beat up.


DARIA: (dangerously) 'Charles', would you like to find your way out of that pit over there without a flashlight?

Upchuck pales. He obviously takes the threat seriously.


DARIA: Good, then pick up your flashlight and follow us. Stacy has a concussion and we need to get her to a doctor. If you're any more of a distraction, you'll be on your own.

Daria waves Jane to take the lead, as she has the flashlight. Stacy follows, with Daria behind her. Upchuck quickly recovers his flashlight, and catches up with them. The light moves off with them, and the tunnel gradually fades to black as they move away talking.

JANE: (off-screen) Where did you learn to fight like that, anyway?

DARIA: (off-screen) Mother told me I'd meet boys like him; then she made me take Judo lessons.

UPCHUCK: (off-screen) Rrrr... Fiesty!

Fade to Black.

Interior. Jane's Room - Sunday afternoon.

Daria, back in her usual clothes, sits on the bed. Jane stands, looking at a scrap of cloth.

DARIA: I wish you'd brought your camera last night.

JANE: (melodramatic) Don't remind me! Think of the blackmail possibilities we're missing.

DARIA: But I'll always have my memories. (Smiles)

Jane, meanwhile, has been rummaging under the bed. She comes out with a propane torch, and some matches. She lights the torch.

DARIA: I'm surprised you've never burnt this place down.

JANE: It's been close a couple of times. There's a fire extinguisher in the closet if we need it.

Jane pulls out a metal tray, and places the torch upright on it. Then holds the cloth in the flame. It flares, but when she pulls it out of the flame it doesn't burn.

JANE: (with the tone of someone confirming a suspicion) Asbestos.

Establishing shot: Exterior. Lawndale High - Monday Morning.

Interior. Ms Li's office.

Ms. Li sits behind her desk. Daria, Jane and Upchuck are seated facing her, as is Helen.

MS LI: (addressing the teens) Trespassing. Breaking and entering. Destruction of school property. The only reason I am suspending you rather than expelling you and filing criminal charges is that you probably saved that girls life.

JANE: (not quite to herself) And you wouldn't want that kind of liability, would you.

HELEN: (knowing she has no case, but not willing to give up without a fight) Jane, please. (To Ms Li) Really, Angela, there was no destruction of property, and while it was technically breaking and entering, they only opened a window. Trespassing yes, but that hardly merits a suspension.

MS LI: (practically gloating) Really yourself, Helen, you know I could do much worse.

DARIA: (to Helen) That's okay Mom, she's right. (Helen looks startled) It will give me time to write that article for the town paper on hazardous household waste disposal.

Helen looks completely at sea, having no idea where Daria's headed with this. Ms. Li looks a bit less sure of herself.

MS LI: That's an interesting subject, did the recycling drive give you the idea?

DARIA: In a way. It's amazing how many people use old lead-based paint around the house without even realizing it, or have asbestos insulation in older parts of their houses and don't know how dangerous it could be.

Ms. Li now looks pretty sick. Helen still does not know what is going on, but she scents blood in the water, and a faint smile plays on her lips as she looks at Daria.

MS LI: Um, well yes, that kind of thing can happen to anyone. Hardly a cause for blame.

DARIA: Not as long as it gets properly taken care of by professionals.

MS LI: But that's very expensive.

DARIA: I hear we made several thousand dollars from the Acme Industry subsidy for the recycling drive; they want to get the town recycling concession this fall, and that was good publicity. I'm sure it will cover a bit of cleanup.

MS LI: (admits defeat) All right. I can fingerprint you all next year. (Looks at Daria) At least you'll be out of my hair then.

HELEN: And if you want her out of your hair, a suspension would look very bad on her transcript for college admission.

MS LI: Yes, yes. No suspensions. Now all of you get out of my office. I have to find someone who does asbestos removal.

Ms. Li puts her head in her hands as they leave.

Interior. Clothing store - A few days later.

The fashion club (all four) is shopping. A recovered Stacy works one rack with Quinn, while Sandi and Tiffany work another several aisles away. Stacy looks over, decides the others are far enough away.

STACY: Quinn, my mother said that you were the one who called to let her know I hadn't come to the mall that night. And that you called on Saturday to see if I was okay. (Beat) You were the only one who called.

QUINN: (not sure how to respond) Well, we were all worried. (voice over) Yeah, right, but I can't tell her Sandi didn't care at all. She worships Sandi.

STACY: Well, anyway, I just wanted to thank you. It's good to have a friend I know I can depend on. (With a hint of mischief in her voice) You know, that person who lives with you is pretty cool, don't you think? It's too bad she's not your sister.

Quinn just looks stunned.

The camera freezes on Quinn's face, and the credits roll.

Alter Egos displayed with the credits:

Upchuck as the evil priest from Temple of Doom.

Trent as Indiana Jones (a real alter-ego)

Jesse as Indiana's rival from the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark

Jane as Karen Allen's character, in the white evening dress from the Arab encampment, with knife.

Daria as Lara Croft (but without a bust) in shorts and a green tank top, guns drawn.

Ms. Li, as one of the gangsters from the opening of Temple of Doom.

Authors Notes:

Temple of Gloom - The Temple of Gloom in this story is the school, of course. Equally obvious, it and the service tunnel under the school are a reference to the temple in the second Indiana Jones movie, and the tunnels under that temple. I just could not figure out a way to work in a mine cart chase.

Inspiration - Aside from a general love for movies in the Indiana Jones style, and the Tomb Raider video games, the seed for this came from "Burning Water" by Mercedes Lackey. It's about an Aztec cult in modern Dallas trying to revive one of the old gods with blood sacrifices. I didn't use the plot, I didn't even wind up with a real cult in the story at all, it's just the idea of an Aztec cult that inspired me. It's a great book, read it if you can.

Daria - The one individual I deliberately wrote slightly out of character. Daria has never given any indication of being physically adventurous. She has shown a willingness to do physical things when necessary (braving the storm with Jane in Antisocial Climbers to avoid the rest of the class, for example), but not to exert herself merely for curiosity. However, an adventure story needs an adventure hero. While I could have used Jane as the protagonist (she's always struck me as more adventurous) it seemed more correct for Daria to take the lead, even at a slight cost in characterization. People, even animated ones, are complex; just because we haven't seen this side of her before, doesn't mean she wouldn't act this way. Likewise, the fight with Upchuck; Daria is someone who thinks her way out of situations, but being trapped in a dead-end with someone in urgent need of medical attention is a very stressful situation. I can see her falling back on more direct methods, assuming Helen had forced her to take self-defense classes, which certainly seems in character for Helen.