A Daria Episode Adaptation by Martin J. Pollard
Based on the screenplay by Peter Gaffney
Cast of Characters
Daria Morgendorffer, Quinn Morgendorffer, Helen Morgendorffer, Jake Morgendorffer, Jane Lane, Trent Lane, Brittany Taylor, Kevin Thompson, Jodie Landon, Michael Jordan "Mack" MacKenzie, Mr. Timothy O'Neill, Jesse Moreno, Dr. Davidson, Dr. Phillips, Mrs. Eleanor Sullivan
The Zön, the grunge club located near the heart of Lawndale's warehouse district, was hopping. The usual assortment of neo-punks and others normally lumped by the media into the "Generation X" category was in attendance, with Mystik Spiral as the night's headliner.
"Hello," announced lead guitarist Trent Lane as the band took the stage. "We're Mystik Spiral... but we might change the name." In fact, he and the other band members had been considering a name change ever since his sister Jane's friend, Daria, had made the off-hand remark that the name "Mystik Spiral" sounded like a Doors cover band that played brew pubs. She wasn't far off the mark -- Mystik Spiral did indeed play a lot of bars -- but the trouble was, no one had yet come up with a better name. Thus, the search continued.
The band launched into a rousing rendition of one of their recent songs, with Trent and bass player Jesse Moreno wailing into the microphones and playing their guitars for all they were worth. The band had yet to attract any serious attention from people "in the business" -- you just didn't get many people like that in a small town like Lawndale, and "cold" auditions were always a long shot -- but they were enjoying themselves, on their own terms, and for now that was all that mattered.
Out in the audience, Daria and Jane were enjoying the band, with Daria feeling more than a little out of place. What I won't do for my best friend, thought Daria, but that was a load of crap and she knew it. Trent had invited them to the gig, and Jane had talked her into it... though it hadn't taken much convincing, given how she tended to turn to jelly around Trent.
Jane was trying to say something to her, but Daria could only make out a few syllables over the band's obscenely loud playing. She had to ask "What?" several times, yelling at the top of her lungs.
"Burger! Get! Get burger!" Jane yelled back, just as the band finished their song. Perfect timing, she said to herself as she looked around the applauding audience. Several people had glanced in their direction, but they didn't really pay much attention. This was a grunge club, after all; much stranger things had happened.
"Get burger? Hmmm..." Daria considered her suggestion. "Okay. This place does put me in the mood for meat."
"Cool," she said as the band prepared to crank up another song. "I'll tell Trent we're going with him."
"With... Trent?" Was it just the temperature in here, or was she actually blushing? Dammit!
"Yeah," said Jane. "The band's going over to Cluster Burger." She then noticed her friend's reaction. Here we go again, she thought with some amusement. Indulging in the perverse pleasure she got from tweaking Daria's so-far unrequited crush on her brother, she asked, "You're not going to act like a complete nitwit, are you?"
"Define 'complete.'" Daria looked even more uncomfortable than before, which caused Jane to inwardly smile even more. "Uh... I just need to go to the bathroom," she said as she handed her drink to Jane and went off in search of the restrooms.
"Good idea," Jane called out after her. "Check your lack of makeup." Onstage, Trent and the band launched into another song, this one somewhat more subdued than the first.
You're gonna get yours one day, Lane, Daria vowed to herself, only half-kidding. She knew that Jane was having fun at her expense by doing her yenta act, and she was fully aware that her reaction to Trent was probably nothing more than a schoolgirl crush, but knowing all that didn't make any difference in the way she felt. She wasn't so naive that she believed in that Holy Grail of romance -- love at first sight -- but she also wasn't so jaded that her feelings had become buried and forgotten.
Not yet, anyway, she thought to herself. Give Mom and Dad's neuroses and Quinn's obnoxiousness a few years to work their magic. That should do the trick.
She put her musings back into their proper compartments when she finally found the ladies' room. As she reached the door, someone -- Female? Male? Underneath that get-up, who can tell? she said to herself -- emerged from inside. "All yours, dude," the spike-haired person said as she (he?) merged into the crowd. With visions of what the restrooms in a place like this must look like, she sighed and went inside.
Her preconceptions turned out to be pretty accurate, if not understated. The walls were covered with graffiti, the floors were filthy, and she didn't even want to know what the inside of those stalls looked like. She noticed only one other occupant, who was standing at the sink and doing something that looked to Daria like she was wringing black ink out of her hair.
As Daria stood at the mirror fixing her hair, the person next to her let out a few high-pitched squeaks, followed by a litany of complaints in a voice that was all too familiar. "I can't stand this! What was I thinking?"
"Brittany?" Daria said with considerable surprise. The blonde-haired, bubble-headed, perpetually perky cheerleader was totally unrecognizable: her hair was dyed jet black and hanging straight down her back instead of in its usual double ponytail, and she wore a black mini-dress with red leggings instead of her omnipresent cheerleaders' uniform. This "new" Brittany looked like someone who'd fit right in with this crowd, save for the hair dye that was slowly dripping onto the floor.
Brittany turned at the sound of Daria's voice. If she was as surprised to be discovered as Daria was to have discovered her, she didn't let it show; she was too upset about her current predicament. "Okay," she continued in full complaint mode, "so Kevin is a stupid, selfish, conceited jerk. He's still better than Terry or Jerry or whatever his name is and this stupid club!"
"Who's Terry or Jerry?" asked Daria, wondering briefly if that was the person she had passed moments earlier.
"Oh, no!" Brittany smacked her palm against her forehead. "I've said too much!" Her face suddenly contorted in a combination of concern and mild disgust. "Ewww! What happened to your neck?"
"Your neck," she repeated. "It's all, like, blotchy."
Blotchy? thought Daria as she turned towards the mirror. There, in her reflection, she saw a bright red rash creeping up from her chest and neck to her face. "Ugh!" she said, somewhat disgusted herself. "I don't know."
"I'm not surprised you could catch something in a horrible place like this!"
Daria couldn't really disagree with her, but right now she had more important things on her mind... such as what she was going to do about this rash, and what she was going to tell Jane. And Trent! "Uh... Brittany... could you do me a favor?" she asked.
"Find Jane and tell her I had to leave."
"Sure!" she replied. "Only... will you promise not to tell Kevin about Terry or Jerry or whoever?"
"In the unlikely event that, under some bizarre set of circumstances, I actually end up conversing with Kevin," Daria reassured her, "I won't tell him about Terry or Jerry."
Brittany's face changed from concern to delighted relief. "Thanks!"
Just then, the door to the restroom opened a crack. "Daria?" It was Trent, his normally laconic voice laced with concern. He and the band had finished their set and were impatient to get to Cluster Burger, but Daria had been gone an awfully long time, according to Jane, and they were starting to worry. "You in there?"
Brittany, who had glanced over towards the door, turned back to see Daria make record time running into the nearest stall, a panicked look on her face. She didn't need to ask what the problem was; girls knew.
"Don't worry," Brittany assured Daria. She went to the restroom door and opened it just wide enough to rebuke Trent. "Have some consideration for female modesty, please!" she squeaked. That should do it! she thought to herself, though she really couldn't see what Daria saw in the guy. Still, she supposed, there must be something there. After all, girls knew.
"Oh." Trent had the good grace to look embarrassed. "Sure. Sorry." He stepped back as Brittany closed the door, then stepped aside as a stream of four girls, who had been standing in the other stall, emerged from inside. He glanced at each girl as they paraded past him: no Daria. Shrugging, he shuffled off into the crowd towards Jane and Jesse, who were talking over by the stage while the other band members were packing up the equipment.
In the restroom, Brittany walked up to the stall where Daria was hiding and assured her through the door, "I'll tell Jane."
"I won't tell Kevin," Daria replied. Satisfied, Brittany turned and left the restroom, wringing dye out of her hair the whole time and leaving a trail of rather sizable black puddles on the floor.
Daria emerged from the stall -- she was right; she hadn't wanted to know what the inside looked like -- and stopped by the mirror. She glanced at her reflection again, and noticed that the rash had crept as high as her eyes. Doing her best to hide her face behind her coat, she left the restroom and went out into the crowd.
She skirted the edges of the cavernous room, searching for the exit. She finally spotted it, only to see Jane, Trent, and Jesse approaching from that direction. They hadn't spotted her yet, though, which gave Daria enough time to duck behind a pillar. She glanced around in a panic, and saw another door with an "Emergency Exit Only, Alarm Will Sound" sign on it.
Daria looked at the emergency exit, then at her rapidly approaching friends, then back at the exit, and made her decision. Emergency, she said to herself. Yes, that is correct. She made for the exit, hiding behind the other club goers as best she could.
She flung herself through the door, noticing with some relief that the emergency alarm hadn't gone off -- someone must have disconnected it -- and hurried through the back alley towards the street. She glanced around the corner of the building and saw Jane, Trent, and Jesse walking down the street, calling her name. They were almost on top of her when she spotted a cab idling nearby.
Doing a sprint that would have made Florence Griffith-Joyner proud, she ran towards the cab, opened the door, and threw herself into the back seat. Ducking down, she implored the driver, "Let's go!" The driver didn't argue, peeling out from his parking spot and speeding off down the street, leaving Daria's confused trio of friends behind in a cloud of exhaust.
Once they were some distance down the road, the driver asked, "Where to... ugh!" He had adjusted the mirror to get a better glimpse of his passenger. Daria gave him the address of her house and sunk down even lower, her humiliation now complete.
Jake and Helen were sitting in the living room of their home, waiting for their daughters to return. They didn't really worry about Daria -- she wasn't the type to get into trouble, and they knew and trusted her friend Jane -- but Quinn was a different matter. Even though she had yet to give them cause for alarm, Quinn (unlike Daria) did date a lot of boys, a fact of life that was the universal worry of parents of teenaged daughters everywhere.
On the television was one of those tabloid talk shows. Unlike Sick, Sad World, however, this was one of those shows that took "hot" topics and sensationalized them, all in the name of "news." Naturally, Jake was draw to it like a magnet, what with his neuroses constantly on a hair-trigger.
The topic this night was teenagers and drugs. "What makes a happy, vibrant, involved teen become a surly, resentful, withdrawn teen?" the announcer asked in a tone that somehow managed to convey authority and smarminess at the same time. As she spoke, an image of a pretty blonde girl morphed into something not even a cat would consider dragging in.
"Yeah, what???" said Jake, completely absorbed. To his mind, the announcer had just given a perfect description of his eldest daughter!
"Drugs, that's what," replied the announcer as if she were speaking directly to Jake. "The old story hits a new generation." At this, Helen looked up from the book she was reading, glanced over at her husband, and cringed -- she knew that look in his eyes, the one that told her she'd be putting up with him obsessing about this for days. She returned to her book and mentally prepared herself for the coming battle.
Just then, the front door opened and closed. Helen didn't turn to look, but given the fact that it was still fairly early in the evening, it was a pretty safe bet that it wasn't Quinn. "Daria? Is that you?"
"Yeah, hi, goodnight," Daria said in a rush as she hurried up the stairs, not wanting her parents to see the rash on her face. She knew full well what would ensue if they did, and she certainly didn't want to go through that hassle. She'd rather just sleep on it, and deal with the consequences in the morning.
Jake suddenly looked panic-stricken. "Oh, my God, Helen!" he exclaimed. "You don't think that Daria..."
Here we go, thought Helen. "Jake, you know full well that Daria was never happy, vibrant or involved. Besides," she reminded him, "she's a straight A student."
"That could be her cover!" he protested, barely hearing a word she said. He glanced around the room, looking for the pamphlet on teenage drug use he had picked up during a recent doctor's visit. "Her pupils... we should check her pupils! What did I do with that pamphlet?"
"For all we know, she could be dealing Mary Jo out of the rec room!"
"That's Mary Jane," she corrected, "and we don't have a rec room." We grew up in the counterculture of the sixties, and he doesn't even remember the common nickname for marijuana, she thought. He's really deep into it this time.
But Jake wasn't listening to her, lost as he was in his neurotic world of parental worry. He continued searching for the drug pamphlet as Helen let out a sigh, and not for the first time wondered if a little "vacation" wouldn't do Jake a world of good.
The Next Morning
7:00am. Daria's alarm clock went off, and she awoke with a start. She had been having nightmares about being chased by hideous demons with flaming red skin and nasty hair that dripped a vile, oily black liquid. After a few seconds, the fog in her brain cleared and she recalled the events from the previous night. Clad only in her usual sleeping attire of shorts and a T-shirt, she ran into the bathroom to check her face, not even bothering to put on her glasses.
A wave of relief flooded over her as she peered into the mirror: the rash was gone. She slumped against the vanity with a loud sigh of relief, then started preparing for school.
Shortly thereafter, Daria -- now fully clothed in her usual black skirt, burnt orange blouse and green jacket -- sat at the kitchen table with her sister and ate breakfast. Helen rushed into the kitchen and announced, "It's briefs and bagels day at the Carlyle." Grabbing her briefcase off the table, she rushed out the door to her car, pulled out of the driveway, and sped off down the street.
Jake, who had been standing there the whole time, turned to Daria. "Uh, Daria... I wanted to talk to you about something. Have you seen this pamphlet?" he managed to ask, hemming and hawing the whole time.
"Huh?" She looked up and took the pamphlet her father was holding. She read the title out loud. "'Is Your Teenager Using Drugs? Ten Warning Signs.'" Oh, great, she thought to herself. With a mystery rash that could reappear at any time, this was probably the worst possible time for her father's latest obsession. Still, she decided to humor him.
She went down the list. "Yes... yes... no... maybe... sometimes... hmmm, about three times a week... and not if she can possibly avoid it." She turned to her father and gave him her prognosis. "In my opinion, Quinn's clean."
"What?" said Quinn, who had all but ignored the conversation until now.
"Although," Daria continued, deliberately putting a tone of suspicion into her voice, "you might want to check her pupils."
Jake looked a little embarrassed. "I, uh, was thinking more about you, Daria."
"Oh," she said, handing the pamphlet back to her father and trying her best to act like she was surprised. "Then you're not supposed to let me read this. You're supposed to sneak around, spying on me and looking through my sock drawer." She heard the doorbell ring and got up from the table, leaving behind a confused Jake.
"Oh," said Jake. "Kiddo? Uh, which one is your sock drawer?"
"I can show you, Daddy!"
Daria didn't exactly rush to answer the door; she knew who it would be, and wasn't looking forward to the long explanation that she would have to make. When she finally reached the front door, she took a deep breath, then opened it.
Jane stood on the front step, her arms crossed, one eyebrow raised, a mock critical look in her eyes. "Well, look who it is: invisible girl!" Daria gave her an equal mock-glare, then grabbed her backpack and left with Jane to school. On the way, she filled Jane in on the events of last night, from her run-in with Brittany to the discovery of her rash to her bailing out and heading home in a cab.
"... so look," she said as she finished her tale. "I'm sorry about ditching you guys last night."
"Ah, forget it," Jane said by way of dismissal. "No big deal. Besides, it was a rare opportunity, getting to hang out with Brittany in a grunge club... although her hair did leak onto my shoes."
"You sure that wasn't her brain?"
"No, there was too much of it." She shifted gears slightly. "Any idea what caused this so-called rash?"
Daria sighed. "I wish I knew."
"Anyway," Jane said, her dry humor circuits now at full power, "the important thing is that instead of going to your friends for help, you ran screaming into the night."
"A perfectly logical response."
"I thought so."
LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
Mr. O'Neill's Classroom
Mr. O'Neill's class was in the midst of a unit on Shakespeare, with King Lear the current topic. "Arrogant, proud, vain... thuggish," O'Neill was saying. "King Lear is all of these, and worse. And yet, if we tilt our figurative head to the side and squint just so, isn't he also just a little... cuddly?"
Cuddly? said Daria to herself. That's probably the last word I'd use to describe Lear. A certain guitar player, on the other hand... Bored out of her mind, she sighed and returned to her notepad, upon which she had been drawing a caricature of O'Neill as a court jester. She glanced at her hand and almost gasped out loud: the rash was back. She quickly gathered up her books and headed for the door, not even bothering to ask O'Neill for permission.
"Just what is it about tyrants," O'Neill continued, "that makes them so charismatic? Our own Ms. Li... uh, Daria?" He only had time to glimpse a green jacket and two legs rush out the door. "Oh, dear!" He turned to the rest of the class. "Perhaps I should ask if anyone else might wish to be excused because of the emotionally sensitive nature of today's subject matter?"
Every student in the classroom raised his or her hand, gathered their belongings, and headed for the door. O'Neill could only watch as they filed past his desk, and wonder if perhaps he had made a slight mistake.
Daria stood in the girl's bathroom and stared at her reflection, mouth wide open, in complete shock. Not only was the rash back, it was back in full force, brighter than before and spread over her entire face, neck, and chest!
She turned to see Quinn emerge from one of the stalls. "Is there a bathroom in this town that doesn't have someone I know in it?" she said, somewhat nettled at this happening for the second time in two days.
"What happened to your face?" Quinn asked, still a little grossed out.
"I don't know! It's a rash or something."
"Okay, don't panic!" said Quinn with an air of authority. "I'm sure I've got something here." She pulled her bag off her shoulder and opened it, revealing it to be full of makeup and skin care products. She started rummaging around, picking out a product here and there, describing its use and its applicability to Daria's condition.
Daria was grudgingly impressed by her sister's depth of knowledge about skin care. She was also deeply puzzled, and made no attempt to hide it. "I don't get it. You're really helping me?" Under normal circumstances, Quinn would rather have her arms torn off.
"Skin care crises transcend personality conflicts, Daria. It's in the Fashion Club bylaws" -- she regarded her sister -- "and this is obviously a crisis. Ick!" She continued to describe various ointments, but none of them sounded like they would do anything to rid Daria of her rash.
When Daria said as much, Quinn regarded her sister's condition and concluded, "Yeah. It's time for some serious prescriptions."
"What are you doing with all that stuff, anyway? Your skin's fine."
"And it's going to stay that way," Quinn replied. She gathered up her belongings and slung her bag over her shoulder. "Well, sorry I can't help. 'Bye!"
Daria watched her sister leave, then followed suit and headed for the nurse's office, dreading what was to come.
OFFICES OF JAKE MORGENDORFFER CONSULTING
Jake was at his office, immersed in work, when the phone rang. "Jake Morgendorffer Consulting."
"Jake?" It was Helen. "Honey, we have a problem. Daria is in the school nurse's office."
"Oh, my God!" Jake exclaimed, his worst nightmares coming true. "What is it? What did they find on her? Just tell me it's not too late for rehab!"
"Jake, will you get a grip?" Helen said, exasperated. "She has a rash, and they want her to see a doctor right away."
Jake was flipping through the teens-and-drugs pamphlet even as his wife spoke. "Rashes... rashes..."
"I had Marianne call Dr. Davidson," Helen continued, "but the thing is, I've got this big Calco meeting..." She hated to do this, but Calco was one of their law firm's most important clients, and their case was set to go to trial in a few days. As worried as she was about Daria, she had no choice but to stay.
Jake looked at his watch. "I can be at the school in eleven minutes!" He hung up the phone and tossed the pamphlet on the desk. "Rashes..." he muttered. "Never mind, no time now!" He started towards the door, then turned back and grabbed the pamphlet before finally heading out.
On the highway, Jake was weaving in and out of traffic, trying to get to the school in record time and cursing out every driver that dared get in his way. "Go to hell, you reckless bastard, my kid's got a rash! Ah, the damn window's up!" He rolled the window down. "I said go to hell, you reckless... hey! Hey, come back here!" He continued in this manner for the remainder of the trip, cussing out every driver that dared get in his way, a shining example of road rage in action.
Daria and the nurse were waiting for him when Jake finally pulled into the circular driveway in front of Lawndale High School. He and Daria drove in silence all the way to the Lawndale Medical Arts Partners building, she being too embarrassed and nervous to do much talking. When they arrived, a nurse ushered Daria straight into an examining room, where she changed into a medical gown before being examined by the doctor.
"So, Daria," Dr. Davidson was saying as he concluded his examination, "I assume the lining of your pillow doesn't contain any synthetic fibers?"
"Uh... okay." She really had no idea.
"You don't drink carbonated beverages, do you?"
"Do you stay away from foods with artificial colors, bleach, flour and refined sugar?"
"No." She paused, looking at her arms where the rash had spread. "What've I got?"
"I haven't the slightest idea," the elderly doctor admitted somewhat apologetically. "Probably some kind of allergy, but we can't rule out something more... serious. Especially with the slight fever you're running." He paused. "Just to be on the safe side, I'd like to check you into the hospital for some tests."
Hospital? "No way!"
CEDARS OF LAWNDALE HOSPITAL
Daria was admitted to Cedars of Lawndale Hospital later that afternoon, after stopping by her house to pick up some belongings. In her room, Jake sat in the only available chair, staring intently with parental concern as Daria was tucked into bed by an orderly.
"There you go," the orderly finally said. "Nice fresh sheets and all tucked in." He glanced around the room. "You'd never know that poor Mrs. Sullivan just lay here and..."
Daria interrupted him. "Who?"
"Uh, no one," he said quickly. "Anyway, see you tomorrow."
When the orderly left, Daria let out a sigh, resigned to her fate. She turned and regarded her father, still sitting and staring with concern. "Dad?" she asked, then more forcefully, "Dad!"
"Huh?" he replied, shaken from his reverie.
"You look thirsty. Why don't you go get a soda."
"Oh, there's water here," he said, indicating the pitcher of water on the nightstand. "I don't want to leave you."
"Go ahead, Dad," she urged him. "I'll be fine. Treat yourself to a nice root beer... in a frosty cold can."
Jake's ears perked up at that. "Frosty cold can..." He stood up, not wanting to show his excitement but doing a poor job of hiding it. "You know, I wouldn't mind a root beer! How about you, kiddo?"
"I'll be fine. Go on, now."
"Be right back!" he said, and went down the hall in search of the vending machines.
In spite of her situation, Daria had to smirk. She knew her family all too well. She picked up the phone and dialed the Lane household. It rang a few times, then Jane answered. "Yo!"
"Hi!" she said, instantly stopping work on her sculpture. "Where are you?"
"Just for a night or two," she reassured Jane, "while they run some tests."
"It's no big deal," she said, "but the thing is, I'd rather you didn't tell anybody about this rash."
Just then she heard a loud gasp. Turning, she saw Helen and Quinn enter her room, their faces full of worry, Quinn's with a touch of boredom. Daria contemplated the emotional scene that was coming, and decided to spare Jane. "I'll call you back."
She hung up just as Helen approached the bed. Giving her daughter a hug, she said, "Oh, sweetie! Oh, my goodness, just look at you!"
"Hi, Mom. Good to see you, too." She indicated the door. "Dad's getting a soda."
As if on cue, Jake walked into the room, a can of root beer in his hand. Helen wheeled on him. "Jake, have you seen her face?" she asked, pointing to Daria. "What did the doctor say?"
"No one's been in to see her yet, but Dr. Davidson doesn't think it's drugs."
Helen's face contorted with anger. "No one's been in to see her, and you're going out for sodas? Jake, can't you take charge of a situation for one damn minute? If you had one ounce of common sense you'd realize that these big hospitals let patients slip through the cracks all the time. You have to keep after them every second..."
Quinn greeted her sister, then both watched from the sidelines as their mother berated Jake for what seemed like every fault known to man. Finally, Daria couldn't stand it anymore. "You know," she started to say, "this is exactly the kind of constant bickering that can make an otherwise happy young person turn to drugs..."
But Helen was on a roll, and didn't hear a word her daughter said. "I want a doctor in here now! Oh, why do I bother?" She threw up her hands in disgust, and walked out the door towards the nurse's station. "Nurse? Nurse? Nurse!"
Jake, too cowed to say a word, watched Helen storm off to stalk another victim, then turned to Daria. "You said I could have a root beer!"
Daria and Quinn looked at each other and rolled their eyes.
LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL
At school, Jane was getting some books from her locker when she heard her name. Turning, she saw Brittany standing there, her hair back in its usual double ponytail but colored a dirty gray with streaks of black.
"Brittany? What happened to your hair?" She had assumed that the dye Brittany had used to disguise herself as a brunette would wash out easily. Apparently, that wasn't the case.
"Never mind that now!" Brittany insisted. "Have you seen Daria?"
"Why would you want Daria?"
"What makes you think I want her?" she exclaimed, a touch of defensiveness creeping into her voice. "I don't want her! Who said I want her?"
Praying to the gods for patience, Jane tried a different tack. "You asked me if I'd seen her," she said slowly.
"Oh." She paused, then hesitantly asked, "She hasn't told you anything... interesting... about me, has she?"
"No one's ever told me anything interesting about you."
Brittany visibly relaxed. "That's a relief!"
Jane had to smother a smile at her statement having gone completely over Brittany's head. "Anyway, she'll be back in a day or two. She's in the hospital while they check out that ra...are condition," she said, correcting herself at the last moment.
"Yeah... she's come down with a slight case of... um... brain fever," she explained, trying to cover her tracks. "It's a thing that brains get."
Fortunately, Brittany wasn't too difficult to fool. "Wow!" she said. "That sounds serious."
"No, no," Jane replied hastily. "Usually, if you read a best seller, it'll go away. So, ah, no need to mention it to anyone." Let's hope that heads Miss Blonde & Perky off at the pass. "I'll tell her you asked about her."
"Just ask her if she remembers our deal," Brittany insisted, a hint of urgency in her tone.
"What deal?" said Jane.
"What deal?" replied Brittany.
Oh, brother, Jane said to herself, her patience now wearing extremely thin. "The deal you just mentioned...?" she prompted.
"I didn't say anything about a deal," Brittany replied quickly. "Forget I said anything about a deal!"
"Forget I said anything about a hospital."
"Cool," said Jane, trying to lighten the situation. "Now we have a deal!"
O-kaaay, I'm outta here. "Later," said Jane with a chuckle of amusement. She closed her locker and headed down the hall, leaving a confused Brittany in her wake.
CEDARS OF LAWNDALE HOSPITAL
Later that afternoon, Daria once again had the dubious pleasure of her family's company. One hell of a visit, Daria thought to herself. Dad's fast asleep and Mom's stalking the medical staff, giving them pieces of her mind that she really can't spare, leaving Quinn as my only company -- she glanced over at her sister, who was watching Sick, Sad World without much enthusiasm -- and she couldn't be less enthused if she tried. She sighed. Are we having fun yet?
She was spared from having to do the unthinkable -- actually talking to Quinn -- by the arrival of a doctor, with Helen trailing behind in full lawyer mode. "The word 'malpractice' must still have some meaning," she said. Obviously, this was the tail end of a long conversation.
"Mrs. Morgendorffer," the doctor said with a sigh, "I assure you..." He stopped, then gave a small shudder as he looked around the room. "Wasn't this Mrs. Sullivan's room?"
"Who?" Helen said, instantly suspicious.
"Never mind." He turned to Daria. "How are you doing, Daria? I'm Doctor Phillips."
He was young, with chiseled good looks -- a stark contrast to the grandfatherly Dr. Davidson. Naturally, this caused Quinn to spring into action almost before Daria finished saying hello. "Hi!" she said, her flirt circuits at full power. "I'm Quinn! I get sick, too. I think the way you save lives is really cool." You're not the only one who's getting sick, thought Daria as she gave an "oh, God, please" roll of her eyes.
Fortunately, Dr. Phillips picked up on it as well, presumably having had to deal with similar reactions in the past. "Hello, Quinn. Thank you." He turned to Daria. "They'll be coming by in a few minutes to take a little blood, Daria. Besides this rash, is there anything else that's been bothering you?"
Overprotective as ever, Helen chimed in, "She's been sniffling. I think she may have some allergies, but she insists she doesn't."
Jake, who had been half-listening to the conversation, was suddenly at full attention. "Sniffling? Where's that pamphlet?!"
"Jake, get up and let the doctor sit down!"
"No, that's all right," Dr. Phillips assured them. "Actually, if you all don't mind leaving the room for a minute, there are a few rather personal questions I'd like to ask Daria."
"Of course!" Jake replied. He got up from the chair and went into the hallway, searching for the lounge, with Quinn following close behind.
Dr. Phillips turned to Helen, who was sitting on the bed like a lioness protecting her cub. "You, too, Mrs. Morgendorffer," he prodded.
"Oh... all right..." she replied, a bit taken aback. She got up and went into the hallway, her eyes not leaving her daughter until the door closed behind her.
When Helen was gone, Daria turned to the doctor. "Let's make this short," she said, not wanting to get into a long, drawn-out conversation over topics she'd rather not discuss with a complete stranger. "I don't use drugs, and I'm not sexually active."
Dr. Phillips chuckled. "No, of course not."
"What do you mean 'of course not'?" she replied, a bit defensively.
"I mean, if you say so."
"So then, what did you want to ask me?"
He shrugged. "Nothing in particular. I just thought you could use a break from your parents for a while." The doctor reached into the pocket of his lab coat and pulled out a deck of cards. "You play gin rummy?"
"Sure," she said, adding to herself, Maybe this guy isn't so bad after all.
Dr. Phillips shuffled the deck, then peeled off a card and placed it on the nightstand. "Actually," he said, "there is one thing I wanted to ask you."
He leaned forward in a conspiratorial manner. "What is it with your mother?"
After her family left for the night, Daria was subjected to yet another round of tests and had some blood taken. Having been drained -- no pun intended -- by the experience, she settled down to get some sleep...
She awoke with a start when the door to her room crashed open. Putting on her glasses, she was mildly surprised to see that her rash was gone. The bigger surprise came when she saw the apparition of an old woman floating in front of her bed. "Who are you?" she asked her visitor.
"I am Eleanor Sullivan," the apparition said in a Hollywood-esque "I'm a ghost" voice. "This is my room."
"There must be some kind of mistake," Daria said. "The nurse's station is down the hall." Suddenly it hit her. "Eleanor Sullivan... as in Mrs. Sullivan? The one that no one will talk about?"
The spirit continued as if Daria hadn't spoken. "You mustn't be frightened. I was frightened, especially during those final agonies...! But that was before I knew where I was going. Come..." she said, floating over the bed and taking Daria's hand.
Daria felt herself being lifted into the air. She looked down and saw herself still laying in bed, her eyes tightly closed. They floated out the window and into the air, finally breaking through a layer of clouds into a realm that Daria never could have imagined.
"Where are we going?" she said. She looked around and saw that they were not alone; other people were relaxing against the clouds or flying through the air. "Is this Heaven?"
"It has many names," replied her guide.
Daria was in awe as she gazed at the sights before her. "It's beautiful."
"Yes..." the spirit said. They floated along, finally coming upon two young guys who looked like they could have been dropped right in the middle of Lawndale High and instantly blend in.
"Hey, what's up?" one of them said to Daria. "You wanna party?"
The other spoke up. "Hey, babe, why don't you take your glasses off and relax?"
"Um, I'm plenty relaxed," Daria replied, wondering how a couple of guys like this had gotten into Heaven. "You can tell by my deep rhythmic breathing."
The second guy turned to the spirit of Mrs. Sullivan. "Oh, man!" he whined. "What'd you do, bring us another brain?"
"Look," she said, "I just go where they tell me!"
Daria was confused. "Is there a problem?"
"This is Heaven, sweetheart," the first guy said. "What would we want with a brain?"
Daria turned to her spirit guide. "I don't..." she began, but was interrupted.
"Sorry." A hole suddenly appeared in the clouds below. Daria fell through it, and screamed as she plummeted to the earth, far below...
She woke with a gasp. Sitting up, she saw that she was still in her hospital bed, and that her rash was still present. Looking out the window, she noticed that she'd been asleep for only a short time. Wiping her forehead with the sleeve of her robe, she settle back down into the bed. She didn't get back to sleep for a long time.
THE PIZZA KING
Jodie, Mack, and Kevin waited for Brittany to arrive at the pizza parlor after school. When she did, she placed her order and joined them, sitting in the booth next to Jodie. The others couldn't help but stare at Brittany's hair.
She noticed their stares, and said, "Never mind that now!" Lowering her voice, she said, "Did you know that Daria has brain fever?"
Jodie raised one eyebrow. "Brain fever?" she repeated.
"Yeah! Doesn't that sound serious?"
"You get the scalpel," Mack quipped. "We can use my Dad's barn as an operating room."
The joke went right over Brittany's head. "Your dad doesn't have a barn," she protested.
"We could use your basement!" Kevin offered.
Mack looked at him askance, but was spared from having to respond by Jodie. "Brittany," she said, "I'm sure that if it were serious, Daria would be in the hospital."
Brittany suddenly got a panicked look. "What?" Jodie asked, suddenly concerned. "She is in the hospital?" She watched as Brittany's distress increased. "She's not in the hospital..."
Suddenly Brittany couldn't take it anymore. In a rush, she blurted out, "I promised not to tell anyone about the hospital because I made a deal with Daria and she kept her part and I kept my part but then I made another deal with Jane and I didn't even know I was making it until it was made and now I didn't keep my part because I told about the hospital so now Jane's going to tell about the deal and I didn't mean anything by it, I just thought I'd see what other kids do at night who didn't do sports and he didn't mean anything to me, Kevvy, I swear it!"
Kevin, Mack, and Jodie all stared at her, both confused by what she was talking about and amazed that she could get all that out without taking a breath. Finally, Kevin spoke up. "So... she is in the hospital?"
CEDARS OF LAWNDALE HOSPITAL
"I'm sorry about all this blood work, Daria," Dr. Phillips said the next day, "but so far, all signs are good."
"Other than my having turned into Ms. Tomato Head, you mean," she said somewhat bitterly. All those tests and all that blood, and they had yet to find out what was causing her rash.
At least Dr. Phillips had the grace to appear apologetic. "Well... yeah," he said. He turned at the sound of someone at the door, and saw a girl about Daria's age walk into the room. She was tall with short, black hair, and had three small hoops in her left ear.
"Hey," Daria greeted the visitor, her mood brightening considerably. "Jane, this is Dr. Phillips."
"Pleased to meet you," he said, extending his hand. "Friend, not family, right?"
"How can you tell?" Jane asked as she shook his hand.
"Daria seemed happy to see you," he said with a grin. Turning to Daria, he said, "I'll stop by later."
"Okay," she said. "Thanks."
Jane watched appreciatively as he left, then turned to Daria with a smile. "Oooh, la la! Doctor," she said, pretending to swoon, "I have a pain..."
"Please," she replied with equal humor. "The man is a butcher. Look what he's done to my face."
"That's pretty red," Jane agreed as she stared at Daria's rash. "Um... what is it?"
Daria put on a sour expression. "So far, the tests are all negative, so probably nothing." She sighed. "Like I really need this."
"A bright, mysterious rash covering my skin."
"I know," Jane said with mock surprise. "And here you were, perfectly capable of alienating people on personality alone."
Daria had to smile at that one. "You know, you could have just sent flowers."
"Hey, it's not so bad," Jane said. "It'll go away, if not this year then definitely next."
"Your words are so very reassuring," Daria replied sardonically, then sobered. "At least no one at school has seen it. They probably haven't even noticed I'm gone."
As if on cue, Brittany appeared in the doorway. "Daria?"
"Brittany?" Daria said with some surprise. "What are you doing here?"
Brittany came into the room and launched into another one of her breathless monologues. "I just wanted to thank you for not going back on our deal and I thought I might Jane here and tell her that I did kind of go back on our deal but I also kind of went back on your part of the deal so there's no use in you doing that."
"We had a deal?" Jane said.
"And to see how you were," Brittany continued, not hearing Jane. "Um... you're kind of red..."
"You saw this rash at the club the other night, remember?" Daria reminded her. "Anyway, I'm probably okay."
Jane turned to Brittany. "What was our deal?"
This day just keeps getting stranger and stranger, Daria thought to herself as she saw Jodie and Mack enter the room. "What are you doing here?" she asked the new arrivals.
Jodie and Mack walked over and stood on the other side of the bed. "Oh," Jodie explained, "well, Brittany said you had some 'brain fever' or something, but you weren't in the hospital. So I kept asking Jane and she finally admitted that you had a rash and you were in the hospital."
Daria turned to Jane, who shrugged. "So sue me for caring," she said, a little defensively.
Mack picked up where Jodie left off. "So, we just figured we'd come down here and see for ourselves how you were."
"I'm probably okay," Daria replied.
"So that's cool."
"For a human lobster."
Jodie dismissed it with a wave of her hand. "So you're a little red," she said. "It could happen to anybody." She paused and glanced at Mack, who was looking at her quizzically. "Well," she corrected herself as she took hers and Mack's ebony skin into account, "it could happen to lots of people."
"Hello, Quinn." Oh, well, Daria sighed, you can't have everything.
Quinn walked over to the bed. "How are you?" she asked, then before Daria could reply, said, "Is Dr. Phillips coming by today? I've got a... um... a twinge."
"Yeah, right," she said, then turned to see Kevin standing in the doorway. "Kevin?"
"What are you doing here?" Brittany said.
Kevin went to stand next to Mack. "I went over to Mack's house and the basement was empty!" he said. "Daria, am I glad to see you."
Daria was somewhat taken aback. "Uh... thanks, Kevin."
"I was afraid they'd start the operation without me!"
Operation? She turned to Jodie and Mack, giving them a "what have you been telling this boy?" look.
Mack shrugged. "It's a long story."
"Maybe later," Jodie offered, "when you have your strength back."
"Daria?" They all turned to see an elderly woman enter the room, her hair in a neat, tight bun.
"Who are you?" asked Daria. She looks familiar somehow...
"I'm Mrs. Sullivan," she replied. "Did I leave an enema bag here?"
"Dr. Phillips was very nice," Helen said to Jake later that evening. They and Daria were seated at the kitchen table, Daria having been released from the hospital earlier that afternoon as no problems other than the rash could be found. "He said Daria's rash was probably triggered by anxiety. He gave us a prescription in case it doesn't go away on it's own."
"Anxiety?" Turning to Daria, Jake said, "What could be giving you anxiety, sweetie?"
"Well, let's see. Every aspect of my life?" Daria said. She was still somewhat miffed that she had been robbed of several days of her life for no apparent reason. She got up from the table when the doorbell rang, saying, "That's Jane. See ya."
"Daria?" She turned back to see Helen and Jake looking at her. "Your father and I just want you to know we're very proud of the way you handled this situation."
"That's right, kiddo!"
"I didn't do anything but sit there like a crash dummy while they took blood." She then noticed -- really noticed -- how her parents were looking at her, and came to a realization. "You were worried, weren't you?"
"Daria," Helen said with some surprise, "we're your parents."
"Yeah... well..." Daria was somewhat uncomfortable with the insight she just received: despite their faults and their more-than-occasional parenting blunders, they really did care about her. She had known that instinctively, but to come face to face with the fact was something that she had a difficult time handling.
She found she couldn't just blow them off as usual, but that didn't mean she was going to get all goopy-eyed sentimental, either. Instead, she mumbled, "Thanks for being there for me," and escaped as fast as she could.
Jake wasn't sure he heard her correctly, having become used to Daria's emotional stand-offishness. He turned to Helen and asked, "Did she just say...?"
"Jake," she said, moved by her daughter's words (grudging though they may have been). "Don't spoil the moment."
Jane stood on the front step as Daria opened the door. "Hey," she said. "Ready to go?"
"Cool," she replied. "Trent's going to give us a ride."
"Trent...?" She opened the door a little wider, revealing Trent standing next to Jane, wearing his usual lopsided smile.
"Hey, Daria," he said. Suddenly, his eyebrows went up as did Jane's. Here we go again...
Daria looked from one to the other. "What?" she asked. Neither Jane nor Trent answered, however; they just continued to stare as Daria's rash re-appeared at lightning speed...
"Daria" and all related titles, logos, and characters are trademarks of MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International, Inc. All rights reserved by trademark-holders under United States National and International Law and Convention.
"Ill" is copyright © 1998 by MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International, Inc.
This adaptation of "Ill" is copyright © 1998 by Martin J. Pollard. While he does not claim copyright or moral rights to the characters, titles, or stories from "Daria," he does claim copyright on this particular adaptation of the indicated story from the "Daria" milieu. Martin J. Pollard will not profit from these adaptations, and will not tolerate their being distributed in any manner which requires money to change hands for distribution.