It's a Sick, Sad, Sad, Sad World
By The Excellent S
It was the opening day at the new Venetian Casino and Resort
built on the outskirts of
Daria Morgendorffer, a recent graduate of Lawndale High, was
walking the vast walkways of the casino with her best friend, aspiring artist
and fellow graduate,
"Ah, the casino," said Jane in an overly grandiose tone, "A place where neon is not only a gas, it's a way of life."
"And a place where bankruptcy may only be a roll of the dice away. I don't want to be here, Jane."
"Why not? You love to watch people wallowing in their own misery."
"I do, but in a different place. Somewhere away from the parents."
"That's what college is for. Hey, what is that on the floor?" Jane pointed to the ground at Daria's feet.
"Looks like a quarter, Jane," said Daria, bending over to pick it up.
Jane then got an idea. "Let's put it in one of the slot machines. It's not like we're losing money we actually had when we came here."
"But I'm up one quarter," said Daria, not even attempting hide her sarcasm, "That's good for at least one extra portion of tartare sauce."
"Go on, Daria, put it in," Jane said, playfully elbowing Daria in the ribs, "You have the rest of your life to complete your collection of commemorative quarters."
Daria looked at Jane and shrugged her shoulders. "Gamblor, I surrender to thee," she said, dropping the quarter into the machine and pulling the handle. The panels started to spin and spin until they showed up three gold stars.
"And man once again proves his superiority over machine," Jane said with mock excitement. "How much did you win?"
Daria reached into the tray at the bottom of the machine and pulled out a solitary coin.
Not much, unless this coin is made of 24 karat solid gold. Wait, what's this writing...
She took a closer look at the coin and read the writing on one side. It read only "You are a winner, go to the executive suite to claim your prize".
"Well? What did you win?"
"Nothing important. Just a trip to the executive suite for something lame," said Daria, pocketing the mysterious coin. "Now let's go see if this fabled buffet has better pizza than the Pizza King. I don't have high hopes."
Daria's father, Jake Morgendorffer, was at another of the machines. He had a worried expression on his face as he watched the 50 dollars he had entered slowly dwindle down into single figures.
"I promised Helen I wouldn't gamble," Jake muttered to himself, "But noooo, I had be an idiot, I had to go behind her back and drop in a 50. Dammit I'm going to be in trouble if I don't win soon!"
He pulled the handle one more time and watched as the panels showed up three gold stars.
"Yes! Finally things are looking up for ol' Jakey boy!" He reached down into the tray and, much to his disappointment, pulled out only one gold coin.
"One coin? Dammit! And it's not American either."
Then he noticed the writing on the coin. "You are a winner, go to the executive suite to claim your prize? Oh boy I hope it's something big!"
Jake quickly got up and started running as fast as his legs could take him.
Sandi Griffin, the President of Lawndale High's Fashion Club, was working on her tan next to one of the many pools at the resort. With the Fashion Club on indefinite hiatus, she didn't feel any pressure to be on the lookout for fashion trends. For the first time in a long time, she could just relax.
Sandi suddenly felt like a drink, but the nearest bar was through the casino, which was a bit of a walk away. Sandi put some clothes on over her bikini, her light blue shirt and her dark red jeans, grabbed her purse and started walking.
As Sandi walked through the casino, she noticed that one of the machines still had 25 cents of credit in it. Good enough for one spin. Sandi looked around. Because she wasn't of legal age yet, Sandi wasn't allowed to gamble.
There are no security guards around. What's the harm in one quick spin?
She walked over and pulled the handle. The panels started spinning and spinning until they showed up with three gold stars.
Sandi had won. Uncharacteristically, she started jumping up and down, clapping with girlish delight as she waited for her prize. Only one coin came out of the machine. Sandi was not impressed, but picked it up anyway. It didn't look like any coin she had ever seen before.
Sandi read the writing on the coin. "You are a winner, go to the executive suite to claim your prize?"
That drink would have to wait.
Kevin Thompson, the quarterback of Lawndale High's football team, was walking alone through the casino. His on again, off again relationship with his girlfriend, cheerleader Brittany Taylor, was currently off. Not that anyone would notice looking at Kevin. He was wearing the same dopey grin he always wore, as well as his full football uniform. A strange look considering it was the middle of July.
Kevin suddenly felt a rumble in his stomach. He needed food, bad. Why he wandered over to a slot machine instead of the buffet is anyone's guess.
"What is on the menu today?" Kevin asked himself as he browsed the pay table. "Three chocolate bars sound good."
He pulled the lever. No response. "Oh... I have to pay first. That's fair, I guess."
Kevin put a dollar into the machine and pulled the lever. The panels roared to life briefly until they stopped, revealing its prize. He looked at the panels and frowned. "Three gold stars? I can't eat that!"
He then saw the gold coin in the tray at the bottom of the machine. "Hey, free money! Maybe the machine will give me food this time!" He put the gold coin back into the machine only for it go through the machine completely and fall into the tray again.
Kevin became perplexed, then angry when the machine kept refusing to take the coin. "Stupid piece of junk!" Kevin yelled before kicking the machine. He took the coin and went to the nearest information desk in a huff.
"The fruit machine isn't taking my money!" Kevin asked the lady behind the desk, "Can I get some proper money, and something to eat too?" Kevin gave the gold coin to the lady.
"Have you read the writing on the coin?" she said, giving him back the coin, "It says that you've won a prize and you have to go to the executive suite to get it."
"Will there be food?"
Over the next hour, 6 more people would find the lucky coin. High school graduate Charles 'Upchuck' Ruttheimer III, senior student Jeff 'Jeffy' Grey, amateur musician Trent Lane, high school teachers Timothy O'Neill and Anthony DeMartino and Bromwell freshman Tom Sloane would all make their way to the executive suite, located on the 37th floor of the resort.
As they made their way up to the suite on the elevator, they talked about what they hoped the prize waiting for them would be.
"I hope it's a new car. My Jaguar was on its last legs 20 years ago."
"If it's a Playboy centrefold, she's coming home with Chucky. Grr..."
"I hope its jewellery. Then Quinn will be mine for sure!"
"Maybe there is no physical prize. Maybe it's one of those metaphorical things."
"WHATEVER it is, it's MINE! I'm not sharing it with NOBODY!"
"I'm just going to lie down here for a moment. I don't care what the prize is."
A loud "Ding!" interrupted everyone's train of thought. They had arrived on the 37th floor. Everyone, with the exception of Trent and O'Neill, sprinted down the hallway to the suite at the other end. Upon opening the door to the executive suite, they could only stare at what they were about to walk into.
The room was one of the most extravagant things they had ever seen. Right in the middle of the room was a small swimming pool, in the middle of which stood a solid gold fountain. Off to one side of the room was a full bar, where Sandi was drinking a glass of iced mineral water. Right at the back of the room were about 20 lounge chairs placed around a large table. In one of the chairs sat Jake, reading the Lawndale Sun-Herald newspaper. On the other side of the room were the doorways to the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. Kevin emerged from the kitchen, eating from a large plate of mini hot dogs. There were huge framed paintings on every wall.
"What a beautiful room," said a beaming O'Neill, "I wonder how they managed to get these exquisite paintings."
"It's great that you FEEL that way, but if my PRIZE doesn't get here soon I am getting OUT OF HERE!" yelled a frustrated DeMartino. He didn't have to wait too long, because at that precise moment, the bedroom door swung open and two men entered the room. One was a tall man in a white suit and a moustache and the other was a middle-aged man carrying a briefcase.
"Thank you all for coming," said the man in the white suit,
"I'm Donald Sinclair and I own this hotel. We don't have much time. There's a
meteor the size of
Sandi's face turned white as a ghost, while Upchuck looked over at her and started rubbing his hands together in anticipation. Then Sinclair started laughing.
"I couldn't resist! I'm sorry." he said between chuckles.
Sandi's face turned from white to red in anger. "A joke. He, like, made a joke." She said to herself, trying to repress the urge to slap the taste out of his mouth.
Sinclair motioned for everyone to take a seat. "Do sit down, please everyone. Jake you can sit here."
"How do you know my name?"
"Alas, there are no secrets any more. Actually that's not quite true. There is one secret, one last secret. It involves all of you."
O'Neill shivered slightly. "I'm getting goose pimples."
"Wait a minute." Sinclair started counting the people in the room. "2...4...6...8...9... We're missing someone."
Everyone looked on confused as they wondered who this last person could be.
"OK we have Mr. Thompson, Miss Griffin,
At that point, Daria entered the room.
"Ah, Miss Morgendorffer. Curiosity got the better of you, hm?"
"No, I came to save my ex-boyfriend and my father from your evil clutches. Well, mostly my father."
Tom crossed his arms and glared at Daria. "I'm right here, you know."
"I know, but I have to say stuff like that. It's in the by-laws of breaking up."
"Come and sit down, Daria," said Sinclair, pointing to an empty chair, "You haven't missed anything. As a matter of fact, we were just cutting to the chase."
He laughed, expecting the others join in. Only Kevin did.
"Cutting to the chase. Get it?"
"Well, you'll laugh later. Now as you know, the odds of winning a jackpot at the casino or hitting the state lottery are astronomical. Millions to one. A serious person doesn't even bother. But today, you have the chance of playing a game where the odds of winning are one in ten. One in ten. It's one throw of the dice."
"Excuse me, isn't a throw of the die one in six?" asked O'Neill, placing particular emphasis on Sinclair's grammatical error.
"Dice, die, whatever, you get my point." Sinclair continued, as he motioned for the man at the back of the room to come over. "This is my attorney, Mr. Grisham, who tragically was born without a personality."
"Don't worry about it too much, Mr. Grisham," said Daria, "My sister has the same problem and she seems to be OK sometimes."
Mr. Grisham smiled slightly before returning to his serious facade. He placed a briefcase on the table and opened it up. He took out what appeared to be legal documents and started walking around the table, handing them out.
"Mr. Grisham insists anyone who wishes to participate in our experiment sign this waiver, absolving the casino from responsibility or damages, personal liability, blah, blah, blah."
Unknown to the 10 people in the room, they were being observed by many of Sinclair's business associates via hidden cameras. One of them, a French man named Claude, was particularly intrigued by the proceedings.
"So, who do you like, Claude?" asked an Arabic man, Yousef.
"The young woman in the light blue shirt." replied Claude, pointing at Sandi. "She looks particularly desperate."
"Yes... you've always had a thing for the younger ones, hm?" asked Yousef, "Perhaps she's not going alone."
"Indeed. Do you have any favourites so far?"
"The guy with the weird eye looks really intense. He could be an unbelievable racer."
"Or he could snap and kill us all. Either way."
Back in the executive suite, Donald Sinclair was still explaining the details of this proposed race across the country to the others.
"Now, many thousand miles from here is a little town called
Daria and Jake each felt a chill go down their spine at the mention of their previous home town.
"It's abandoned now because of..."
"Uranium in the drinking water?" asked Daria, relieved that the chances of seeing those brain-scrambled boneheads have decreased severely.
"Quite right, Daria. Yes, they found uranium in the drinking water in early 1998. It was the largest uranium poisoning in American history. There were very few survivors."
"I think Daria should be our captain." said the always oblivious Kevin.
"In what used to be downtown Highland, there's a high school. As you go in the front door, there are some lockers on the right. Mr. Grisham, do you have the keys?"
Grisham reached into the briefcase and pulled out 10 shiny silver keys, each with a golden key ring shaped like the Venetian Casino and Resort logo. Once again he walked around the table handing out them to the others.
"Ten identical keys. They all open the same locker, that's locker 001. Inside the locker is a red duffel bag. Inside the red duffel bag is 50 million dollars. In cash, fifties and hundreds, makes a pile about so big." Sinclair raises his hand about 3 feet above the table, signifying the physical enormity of their prize. "First one there keeps it all. I've put transmitting devices in your key rings to keep track of you."
The room became so silent, one could hear a feather land on the carpet if there was one. Sandi, standing up, was the first to speak.
"Excuse me, you just can't, like, pick people at random and stuff."
"I can do anything I like, Alexandra. I'm eccentric.
Besides, just be glad I'm not making you go to
Sandi sat back down.
"What are the rules?" asked Jeffy.
"There's only a couple. First, the race will start at Sunday, at the Mall of the Millennium
100 miles east of
That last statement was both a blessing and a curse, depending on the person at the table. Sandi was excited about bringing the rest of the former Fashion Club with her in their first official post-hiatus activity, while O'Neill was already trying to figure out a way to race without Barch finding out.
"Wait, wait, wait," said
"A race. It's a race."
"I hope I win!" said Kevin.
"And it all starts on Sunday. Best of luck, ladies and
gentlemen, I'll see you at the finish line." With that, Sinclair and Grisham
got up and walked out the room, leaving those remaining in the room at a loss
for words. It was
"It's some sort of joke," said Jeffy, "It has to be."
"What kind of JACKASS just gives away 50 million DOLLARS?" asked DeMartino, who had been strangely silent for the last few minutes.
"Maybe it's, like, a publicity stunt or something." said Sandi.
"What kind of publicity?" asked O'Neill, "He swore us all to secrecy."
"Maybe it's a secret publicity stunt." said Kevin.
"A secret publicity stunt, Kevin?"
"I don't know what his angle is, but there's always an angle." said Tom, walking over to the door, "Donald Sinclair... people like him make millions of dollars playing people like us for chumps."
"I'm nobody's chump, dammit!" shouted an increasingly angry Jake, "So don't you believe for one second that I ..."
"You know what?" said Daria, "Tom's right. I'm not cutting short my final summer before college to go on some half-assed wild goose chase."
"OK, so, you're not going for it, kiddo?"
"I don't think so."
Before long, they all left the room, all of them dismissing the idea of Sinclair's cash race as nonsense.
Later that night at the Morgendorffer house, Daria decided to tell Jane over the phone about the meeting in the executive suite. Going to her room after yet another lasagna dinner, she noticed that Quinn's room was messier than usual, almost like she was packing for a holiday or something. After some brief chit-chat about the latest episode of Sick, Sad World, Daria got to the subject at hand.
"You know that coin I won at the casino? The grand prize was entry into some cross-country car race for 50 million dollars."
"Really? Surely that's a scam."
"That's what I thought, but the more I think about it, the more I think it may be legitimate. I mean, if it's a scam, we would have had to give him something first."
"Wow, if you, Little Miss Perma-Cynic, think it's above board then you should go for it."
"I'm still not sure, but I'll go up anyway and see if anyone bothers to front up. It'll be funny to see how many people actually show up and think this guy is serious."
"And if he is?"
"You'd better pack your bags just in case."
"Sounds like you need a travel buddy."
"You know you don't need to ask questions you already know the answers to."
"Well it beats waiting for college in this town. It'll be like a road trip, but without the hangovers and STDs."
"All right, I'll pick you up Sunday at 7."
Early Sunday morning, Daria began packing a bag. She didn't need much, only a few spare sets of clothes, toiletries and money. As she made her way out of her bedroom door and down the stairs, she noticed three other bags sitting against the wall. One of them, a pink one, dwarfed the other two by a good foot and a half.
Why am I not surprised? Dad's somehow convinced Mom, while I assume that Quinn is going with the rest of the I Can't Believe it's Not Fashion Club.
Breakfast was an unusually tense experience, even for the Morgendorffers. Jake and Helen were being unnaturally shifty and twitchy.
Helen broke the awkward silence. "So you girls are going to the Mall of the Millennium today. That sounds nice."
"I wasn't sure if I wanted to go," said Quinn, "But Sandi said it was necessary for us to maintain a united front even though the Fashion Club has disbanded. You know to keep that aura of superiority over other women."
"And what about you, Daria?"
"I probably won't be out too long," replied Daria, hardly looking up from her cereal, "Just get in and get out like I always do."
"That's good. Your father and I have got to go up there too to get some things, right Jake?"
Jake poked his head out from behind his newspaper. "I thought we were going to be in that race!"
Helen angrily stomped on Jake's foot, causing him to yelp in pain.
"I knew it!" shouted Quinn, becoming increasingly worried, "You're going to stop us from racing! I can't believe that you would be so selfish!"
"Well... not exactly."
"You mean you actually are going to let us race?" asked Daria.
"Normally I wouldn't approve of such a thing, Daria," said Helen in a surprisingly calm manner, "But I'm not an idiot. It's obvious we'd have a better chance of winning the money if every Morgendorffer was in the race, not just me and Jake."
"Add that to the fact that the race finishes in
"And if turns out to be nothing?"
"At least we'll have a funny story to tell someday."
At that moment, a loud, shrill horn toot came from out the front of the house. Quinn jumped out of her seat and ran for the door.
"That's Sandi!" she said as she picked up her bag and ran out the door, "Don't wait up!"
"I guess we'd better get going too," said Helen, "Which car are you taking, Daria?"
"I'm taking the SUV. More room for serial killers in the back."
Daria had only one stop to make before she went on her way,
which was to pick up Jane at
"What's the camera for?" asked a curious Daria as Jane got in the car.
"To preserve the memories for when this race turns out to be BS." Jane answered, with a smile.
For the next 100 miles, Daria and Jane went back and forth discussing whether anyone else other than the Lanes and the Morgendorffers would show up. Eventually, they got their answer as they pulled into the Mall of the Millennium car park.
"Jane, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it's time for us to crack each others heads open and feast on the goo inside?"
"Yes I would, Daria."
Other than the Fashion Club girls in a yellow convertible and Jake and Helen in their car, Kevin had come along in his red Jeep and the Three Js had come along in Jeffy's blue sports car. Daria got out of the car and walked over to Michael 'Mack' Mackenzie and Jodie Landon, who were standing near Kevin's Jeep.
"Good God, who's running the asylum if all the inmates are here?" she asked them.
"I don't know, Daria," said Mack, "But we're only going to keep Kevin and Brittany out of harm's way."
"More like keep everyone safe from them. But I thought they'd broken up again."
"They did, but when Kevin told
"You guys seem like normal, intelligent young adults. You don't believe this race is for real, right?"
"Daria, it's only human to be a little curious." said Jodie, "It's not every day that some weird guy offers you the chance to win 50 million dollars. It's almost... romantic in a way."
"Well it's reassuring to know that I'm not inhuman, at least according to you."
Over the next 10 minutes, a few other cars arrived, including The Tank, until there was the full field of 10. They were Daria and Jane in Helen's SUV, Jake and Helen in Jake's Lexus, Trent and his Mystik Spiral bandmates Jesse Moreno, Nick Campbell and Max Tyler in The Tank, the Fashion Club girls Sandi, Quinn, Stacy Rowe and Tiffany Blum-Deckler in Linda Griffin's convertible, Kevin, Brittany, Mack and Jodie in Kevin's Jeep, The Three Js, Jeffy, Joey Black and Jamie White in Jeffy's sports car, Upchuck and his new squeeze Andrea Hecuba-Thorne in The Love Machine, O'Neill and his fiancée Janet Barch in O'Neill's sedan, DeMartino, Diane Bennett, Claire Defoe and Angela Li in a LHS school bus and Tom and his sister Elsie in Tom's old Jaguar.
At about 5 minutes to 9, a black sedan pulled up. Out of it came Mr. Grisham, Sinclair's attorney from the previous day.
"Oh, look," said Daria, pointing him out to Jane, "It's Mr. Personality himself."
Grisham pulled a bullhorn out from the back of the car and turned it on. "Hello everyone. Mr. Sinclair will be glad to see that you were so trusting as to take him up on his offer. Now I see a lot more people here than I saw yesterday so I presume you're all bringing friends. Hopefully, you all know the rules of the race by now so there are only two things left for me to do."
The engines of the many cars sitting in the car park started to roar in anticipation.
"First, I will now hand you video cameras that will be placed on the dashboard of your vehicles. You know, for tracking purposes in case of emergencies." Grisham walked up to each of the cars and handed them a box containing their video camera and other equipment before walking back to his car.
"Second and last of all, best of luck to all of you." He opened the door and pulled out a green flag. He raised it high in the air, sending the various engines into overdrive, before quickly dropping it down with a flourish. The race was on.
The Three Js were the first out of the car park, with the most of the other cars following close behind. The Tank, however, hadn't moved an inch.
"It looks like it needs a push start," said
Max, the bald-headed drummer, and Nick, the purple-haired
bass guitarist, got out the back of the van and started pushing it out of the
car park while
"You think it was a good idea to use The Tank instead of
"No. I tried to use my car but it wouldn't start at all."
"The Trentmobile was worse than The Tank? Who would have thought it possible?"
"I hope this old girl can make it, because while I say that we have our eyes on the prize a lot, this time, there may be an actual prize for the eyes to see."
"Wow... that's really deep. I bet it would make a great verse."
As the van got onto the highway, Jesse picked a crumpled-up piece of paper and a pencil and wrote down the lyric for future use.
As the cars headed down the highway back towards
"How did it go?" he asked.
"Perfect," Grisham replied, smiling from ear to ear. "This couldn't have gone any better."
Also in the executive suite were his many business associates, who had already begun making wagers on who was going to win the race and the money. The Three Js and the Fashion Club girls were the early favourites among the punters.
"And they're off!" shouted an excited Sinclair, watching the various on-board shots from the cars in the race as he poured himself a glass of champagne, "No one is offering you action like this. A horse race with animals that can think and plan and lie and cheat and play dirty. It's the gambling experience of a lifetime. Sit back, relax and enjoy the race, gentlemen. It's going to be a good one."
Before long, all of the cars had made their way back through
DeMartino had snuck into the school on the Friday afternoon
with the intention of stealing the school bus, and he appeared to have gotten
away with it, only for Li to summon him into her office on the Saturday morning
and show him the security camera footage. Thankfully for him, she not only
didn't press any property theft charges, but actually allowed him to take the
bus on the condition that he takes her along with him and split the prize money
if they won. Economics teacher Mrs. Bennett volunteered to be their navigator,
while art teacher Ms. Defoe joined in when she heard they were going to
Li, having insisted on doing the driving of the bus was doing just that, while DeMartino, Bennett and Defoe sat behind her, planning the travel route they intended to take.
"OK, Diane," said DeMartino in his usual mix of borderline
insanity and uneasy intensity, "We've BROUGHT you along because you tell us
you're an EXCELLENT navigator. Can you PLEASE draw the most efficient route to
Bennett took the map, gave it a brief looking over and started drawing on it. "Take the Interstate for 300 miles, turn left at Nashville, go along the highway until you get to Little Rock, then drive onto another Interstate until you reach San Antonio, then it's only a couple of hours from there to get to Highland." She handed the map back to DeMartino.
"It looks like one of your FOOTBALL plays you draw on the chalkboard. It's USELESS!" DeMartino threw the map on the ground in disgust. Defoe bent over and picked it up to examine it herself.
"It would make a great abstract artwork, but I agree with Anthony here. It's no good for navigation now."
Bennett was upset now. "OK I lied about being good at
navigation, but I couldn't help it. I just wanted to win some of the money. And to get a lift to the Fuzzy Wuzzy Wee Bits collector's
"I appreciate your HONESTY, Diane, but all you had to do was ask instead of trying to pull off this ridiculous CHARADE!"
"Well, why is Claire with us?"
"I'm here because I'm going to meet an old friend from art
"Do YOU want a share of the money, TOO?"
"Just remember our agreement, Anthony," Li chimed in, "I get
95% of the winnings. You can have the other 5% and use it how you wish. If we
win this race, I'll finally be able to afford those around-the-clock armed
guards for the school. Yes, there will be no safer school in the country
DeMartino put his hands to his temple and started massaging it. "I could have taken the FIRST one, but noooo, I had to go BACK for the one with the comfy SEATS!" he mumbled to himself before launching into a barely audible tirade of profanities.
Behind them were the Sloane siblings in Tom's Jaguar. If there was a car that was worse than anything that didn't already belong to a member of Mystik Spiral, it would be this hunk of junk.
Tom sighed as his sister Elsie continued to fiddle with the radio in his car. He had wanted to do the race by himself, but was stuck with Elsie when she complained about it to their parents.
This is some bonding experience. If this keeps up I'll be bonding my hands around her throat.
"Elsie, if we're going to be stuck together like this for the next couple of days, can you please just leave what's left of my car alone?"
Elsie angrily moved her hand away from the radio. "This car smells. When are you going to get a better car?"
"Hopefully when I win this race. Just be glad we're not in the Pinto anymore."
"You mean we."
"Just because you're with me doesn't mean we're splitting the money, you know."
"You have to, or else I'm telling Mom what you and your ex-girlfriend did."
"Which one, Daria or Jane? Because I don't remember doing much with either of them."
"I know, but who would they believe, hm? Tom, the rebel without a limitless credit card or Elsie, the straight-A superstar of the universe?"
Tom sighed. He knew when he beaten.
"All right, I surrender. 50/50 good enough for you?"
"And car radio rights."
While Elsie went back to trying to find a station on the radio, Tom stared at the never-ending road in front of him.
Why couldn't she have broken up with me a week from now, instead of a week ago?
Behind them were Jake and Helen in the Lexus. They were only 5 miles behind the Sloanes, but now found themselves in a spot of bother between Interstate highways.
"Dammit! This map is useless! I knew I should have bought a new one instead of using the one that came with the car."
"Face it, Jake. We're lost."
"We're not lost, we just need directions."
"Look, there's a store right there. Maybe the people there can tell us where the Interstate is."
"What, that dilapidated little shack?"
"It will do, Jake."
Jake reluctantly pulled up to the storefront. A middle-aged lady was sitting out the front in a rocking chair, surrounded by many small metal cages.
"Squirrel?" asked the lady, gently rocking back and forth in her chair.
"No, thank you," replied Jake, in as much of a polite tone as he could manage, "We're looking for the Interstate."
"I get that a lot because of the detour. But these squirrels, they've lost their way. Now they can't go home. You sure you don't want one?"
"We're sure. Thank you."
"They make crackerjack pets," she continued, pointing at one of the cages, "I taught this one to shake hands. He's not for sale though. Who wants to go home with the nice couple?"
The squirrel lady gently picked up one of the cages next to her and placed it on her lap.
"Pick me. Pick me," she said, in a mock squirrel voice, "Don't be afraid. I don't bite."
She then took one out and showed it to Helen. "What's your name, pretty lady?"
Jake was getting frustrated now. "Ma'am, really. We're not interested."
"Well, I'm not talking to you, am I? I'm talking to Helen."
The squirrel lady put down the cage she was carrying and picked up another one. "What about Bucky here? He loves to climb trees and eat nuts."
"Ma'am, we do not want a squirrel. Dammit, do you or do you not know where the Interstate is?"
The squirrel lady frowned. "Of course I do, I'm not retarded."
"We never said anything of the sort."
"Tell them about the shortcut," the squirrel lady said in her squeaky voice, before going back to her cheerful tone, "Thank you, Bucky. I almost forgot. There's a dandy shortcut. It'll bring you right to it. It'll save you 50 miles."
Helen got a pen and paper out the glove compartment.
"Now listen carefully. You want to go straight down here exactly 4.7 miles..."
Helen started writing down the directions. "4.7 miles..."
"Make a left at Totem Pole Ranch. Go 3.2 miles and you're going to go up a big hill. You'll see a big yellow sign with some graffiti on it. Take the dirt road on the right. It'll take you to the Interstate."
"...yellow sign with graffiti. Thank you."
"Wait a minute," the squirrel lady said, reaching into a box next to her, "Take some nuts with you just in case you see a squirrel, OK?" She gave a small paper bag full of nuts to Jake, who casually tossed them into the back of the car.
She picked up Bucky again, grabbed one of his little arms and waved it, making him wave goodbye. "Bye. Bye. You could have bought me," she said in the squeaky voice again.
The Morgendorffers drove off, pleased at the progress they had just made. As she watched them drive away, the squirrel lady was also pleased, but for a completely different reason.
"You'll make it," she said to herself. "You'll make it."
The next team on the road were the recently engaged Mr. O'Neill and Ms. Barch. He had tried to break up with her before the end of the previous school year, but had only managed to accidentally propose to her instead.
O'Neill had wanted to use this time to evaluate his life and maybe surprise Barch with 50 million dollars and an early retirement, but she had been following him around like a sick puppy ever since he 'proposed'. She was head over heels for him, but was still ready to kick any other man arse over tit for any reason whatsoever.
The modest-looking sedan of O'Neill's was being passed by many other cars on the road, and Barch was starting to get frustrated. "Come on, come on! Be more like the rest of your troglodytic breed and floor this thing!"
"But it is floored, Janet!"
"I tell you what; we'd already be in the next state if we were in my car."
"Strange, I don't remember ever seeing your car. What was it?"
A smile crept onto Barch's face, and for once it wasn't brought on by an act of misandry.
"It was a '79 Chevrolet Camaro. Oh, it was a beautiful thing. Deep red, leather seats, an experience just to drive."
"Why don't you have it now?"
The smile quickly became a frown.
"I was never able to drive it once I married 'him'. He'd be away all weekend joyriding and whooping it up with his drinking buddies and it would have dents all over it. He never once tried to fix anything he broke on it. I always had to pay to get a professional to fix it! And then the moment he saw that bitch of his walk by he took the car and I never saw it again! I haven't bought another car since."
At that moment, they passed a road sign. It read that there
were 50 miles to
"Hold on to your hat, Skinny," Barch shouted excitedly, "We're taking the scenic route!"
The next thing O'Neill saw would be Barch's hands reaching across to the steering wheel and turning the car onto the off-ramp.
O'Neill slammed on the brakes, stopping the car in the middle of the road.
"What the heck are you doing? The money is at stake!"
"Trust me. What you are going to see will be more valuable than any amount of money."
O'Neill looked at Barch for a moment. He could almost see the fire burning behind her eyes.
"All right, then.
"Sure. Now get in the back, I'm driving!"
O'Neill gingerly climbed out of the driver's seat and hopped into the back of the car. If there is anything O'Neill had learned over the last 4 years, it's don't mess with Barch once she has her mind set on something. He has the scar on his back to prove it.
Before O'Neill even got a chance to buckle up his seatbelt,
Barch had stepped on the accelerator and started speeding towards
"Jodie, you're smart. What kind of car are we in?"
"Moderate sized off-road vehicle, that's $2.75."
"Really? I thought this was a small car. Let's see how much I have..."
Kevin patted his pockets but found only the locker key.
"Oh man, my wallet is in the trunk. Mack Daddy, do you have any money on you?"
"Sorry, I've only got credit cards. And stop calling me that."
They pulled up to the booth, and now Kevin was a little worried.
Without so much as another word,
Almost instantly he lifted the gate, and probably something
else too, allowing the Jeep to pass through without paying a cent. With the job
There was a stunned silence in the Jeep. Kevin was the first to speak.
"Ohhhh... how come I never get to see them anymore, babe?"
"Believe me. If we win this race, you'll be seeing them all the time."
As Brittany and Kevin shared a kiss, Mack shook his head, then put it his hands. He turned to Jodie.
"It's going to be a long, long trip."
"Think of it this way. It could be a lot worse."
'Hey, I know what we can do to make the trip go faster!" said Kevin from the front seat, "We can sing! 100 bottles of BEER on the wall, 100 bottles of BEER..."
Mack sighed and looked out the window at the dozens of cars headed in the other direction. "How about now, Jodie?"
Jodie nodded her head in quiet agreement.
The next team on the road were Daria and Jane, but they had
fallen way behind the pack, with only The Tank behind them. Daria had been apprehensive
behind the wheel for weeks since a near accident just outside of
"Do my eyes deceive me, or is that The Tank about to pass us?"
"You're the one wearing glasses, Daria, so you'd be more sure than I ever could be."
As The Tank drove past,
"That's it; we're turning this car around and going home."
"I know it seems like a rash decision, Jane, but we're last now and dropping back. And I highly doubt that everyone else in the race is going to visit the Springfield Mystery Spot on the way."
"Never underestimate the drawing power of a good mystery, Daria. But if you think it's the right idea, there's a U-turn section right there."
Daria moved over to the middle of the road, slowed and made
the turn to the other side of the road. They were on their way back to
Daria pulled into the driveway of the Morgendorffer house. She and Jane had figured that a weekend of pizza and Sick, Sad World marathons was a lot more enjoyable than racing across the country for a chance to win a cash prize that may or may not exist.
While Daria had gone inside to call up Pizza King, Jane was getting the bags out of the back of the car. She was distracted by a loud horn beeping. She turned around and saw a white van, the driver of which was motioning for her to come over. Jane shrugged her shoulders and walked over to the van.
The pudgy-looking man behind the wheel looked harmless, but stressed. "Excuse me, miss. Can you help out with some directions?"
"Sure. Where are you going?"
"I'm going to
"The very same."
"Are you going near
"I'm going through
For a moment, Jane felt like as if the ground underneath her had disappeared.
"I'm... not sure. Can I get my friend?"
"OK... but please hurry."
It was times like this that Jane thanked the divine powers that be that she could run fast. She sprinted into the dining room of the house, where Daria was ordering the pizza.
"...just the usual, please, with 2 small Ultra Colas. How much? Wow, the fluctuating cheese economy must be hitting you guys hard."
Jane started waving her arms frantically, mere inches from Daria's face.
"Artie, I'll have to ring you back. My friend is having a seizure."
Daria hung up the phone. "This better be worth it, Lane."
"Daria! We're back in the race!"
"What are you talking about?"
"There's a guy out the front in an organ truck going to
"I've always wanted to ride in one of those."
"Well, now's your chance! He has to
be there by tomorrow afternoon and he's going through
"May as well. If we die, at least we know our vital organs are in safe hands."
At the front of the pack, The Three Js had stretched their lead to over 20 miles as they entered the next state. Feeling that they had a sufficient enough lead, Joey thought of a plan.
"Jeffy, pull into that hardware store. I have an idea."
Jeffy was confused, but pulled in and parked the car anyway. They got out of the car and walked into the store.
"Can you make two copies of this key for my buddies here," Joey asked the clerk behind the counter, "And can you make them quick? We're kind of in a hurry."
"You just want two copies? Because you can get an extra one for half price."
"Just two and hurry."
"And your names?"
"Joey Black, Jeffy Grey and Jamie White."
"OK, then. Joey, Jeffy and Johnny, your keys will ready in 10 minutes."
With that, the clerk took the key and walked over to the key duplication machine to begin the process. However, he was curious as to why three teenage boys would need the same key.
"So what's this plan of yours that's made us stop the car?" asked Jamie.
"Well it's quite simple," answered Joey with a huge grin on his face, "We split up, take three keys and triple our chances of winning."
Jeffy's jaw dropped. "This is the best idea you ever had. Why didn't I think of that?"
"It can't possibly fail. Now, you both remember where we're going?"
"Right. High school, locker..."
"There's only one rule, and that's keep this under your hat at all costs. Don't talk to anybody."
"I won't. I promise," said Jeffy, putting a hand on his heart.
"I promise more."
"I'm serious, Jamie. We're talking about 50 million dollars in cash. People would just kill us to get their hands on that key."
"I love you, man."
"All right, all right, no need to get all alternative on me, Jeffy. Now, bros, you each need steal a car."
"I'm going to try to steal that Corvette right there," said Jamie, pointing at a white sports car out in the car park.
"I don't care what you get as long as it's fast. Now, I'll
meet you all in
They turned back to the counter to get them, but the clerk was gone. And so was the key.
"That mother-fucking bastard!" screamed Jeffy as he started running towards the store exit, followed by Joey and Jamie, "I'll kill him! I'm going to..."
As they made it out the door, they saw the clerk hop into the Corvette that Jamie pointed out earlier.
"There he is!" he shouted as they all jumped into their own car, "Go! Go!"
They sped out of the car park and started giving chase. For now, The Three Js were in their own race.
Meanwhile back in the actual race, the Fashion Club girls
were making steady progress as the new leaders. But all that would be thrown
out the window when Tiffany saw a sign on the side of the road for a
"Wow! Can we stop?" she asked Sandi.
"Sorry, Tiffany," replied Sandi without even taking her eyes off the road, "As the former President of the Fashion Club, I have the final word on any stops we make and at the moment, I have to say no. We have a plan, and we're going to stick to that plan."
"Please, Sandi. It's not fair. We never get to go anywhere I want to."
"I'm sure Stacy doesn't want to go to the
To Sandi's surprise, Stacy agreed with Tiffany. "Are you kidding? I'll stop anywhere. I'm freaking out back here."
Now Quinn entered the argument. "You need to pull over and stop to give us a break."
"OK," said Sandi, who was starting to get frustrated, "Maybe on the way back."
"Stop the car."
"I can't do that."
"We all need to stop the car."
"No can do."
"You need to stop the car."
"Stop the car, Sandi!"
Sandi pulled over to the side of the road, finally giving in to the majority verdict.
"OK, fine, but 10 minutes."
Sandi made a u-turn and pulled into the car park of the
Upon entering the building, the girls realised to their horror that the Barbie the museum was built for, was not the plastic doll.
"Welcome to the
Sandi looked around the room as she wondered what kind of hell the girls had just gotten themselves into. Every wall was covered in Nazi paraphernalia, from swastikas to uniforms to many, many varieties of guns. And there didn't seem to be a friendly person around them. The other patrons were mostly heavily-tattooed skinheads.
"Barbie joined the SS in 1935," the tour guide continued, "Where he soon became one of the Fuhrer's favourite young officers."
"Can we go?" Quinn whispered quietly in Sandi's ear.
The tour guide walked towards a large black-and-white photo on the wall. "Here we see him standing beside Hitler's touring car, the very same car on display outside in our courtyard."
As he pointed out the window towards the car, he noticed the girls walking to the front door. "You're leaving?" he asked with a slight hint of menace in his tone.
Sandi turned around, and forced a smile. "What? No... Yes... Well, we have, like, a book burning, and then we have a christening. Yes, a christening... for one of our many white, Christian, non-Jewish friends... family. Blood relatives. The Himmler Hessin von Sturichberg family."
"OK... have fun."
"Thank you so much. We had a great time," said Stacy, nervously pulling her pigtails.
"I love your hairdo by the way, it's really beautiful," said Quinn, pointing at the tour guide's Hitler-esque hairstyle.
"Wow, a gift shop," said Tiffany, picking up a Hitler bobblehead doll.
"Yes, I know, Tiffany. Just go. Just go."
One by one, they made their out the door. They were out of there.
"Oh, my God! We've been cut!" Quinn shouted, pointing at the car.
"What do you mean cut?"
"Take a look at the tyres!"
Sandi got down on her knees and had a look. They had all been slashed and all the air had come out of them. They were stranded.
"What do we do now?" asked Stacy, on the verge of tears.
Sandi started thinking of what she could do. She could try and drive to the next service station on flat tyres, but there was no way of knowing how far away it was. The car could be driving on its rims for miles. But she couldn't just leave the car here. Her mom would have an aneurysm if she heard that her car was abandoned in front of some neo-Nazi shrine. What to do, what to do... Then she looked over at the car sitting out the front of the museum.
"Stacy, Tiffany, get our bags. I have an idea."
I can't believe it, Sandi," said a shocked Stacy, "You stole Adolf Hitler's Mercedes-Benz."
"Hitler, like, had it coming. What goes around comes around."
"They're going to be really upset," said Quinn, looking out the back window of the car.
"They're always upset, Quinn. They're Nazis. It's like it's
their job or something. When we get to
With that, Sandi pushed down harder on the accelerator. She had no intentions of brokering any sort of deal with them.
Not too far behind them were the team of Daria and Jane,
hitching a ride in an organ delivery van. With its driver, Zack Mallozzi,
behind the wheel, they had made up a whole lot of time, and now they too were
about to drive past the
Jane looked out the window and saw a near riot taking place in the car-park, with a bunch of people vandalising a yellow convertible. "You know the artists formerly known as the Fashion Club? I think I just saw their Vogue-swagen back there getting smashed up by a bunch of angry Nazis."
"Jane, two things. First, make another pun like that again and I'm getting the Stickmata 5000 and gluing your mouth shut. Two, did you see Quinn?"
"Well, that's my sister for you. She's probably already
forgotten about the money and hitched a ride with a hot boy. She's probably
"If you ask me, I always suspected that the
Zack, who had been nervously quiet for most of the trip, chimed in. "Ha ha... Vogue-swagen. Good one, Jane."
"Please don't encourage her. She'll make even worse puns."
"Look, there it is. Totem Pole Ranch, turn left."
"4.7 miles exactly. All right, squirrel lady. Don't let us down now."
It had been a pretty uneventful race so far for Upchuck and Andrea in the Love Machine, especially when compared to the events that lead to their teaming up. Upchuck, who by his own hand had been unlucky in love for the longest time, had somehow managed to hook Andrea with one of his cheesy pick-up lines towards the end of the school year, and they had become close friends ever since. Together they had spent the week between their graduation and the race redesigning Upchuck's Volvo to look more like the original Love Machine, the car he drove in the Lawndale High homecoming parade a year or two back. It had essentially become a bachelor pad on wheels.
This race was the first time the pastel pink car had been on the road in weeks, and it was holding up quite nicely as they drove down the Interstate.
"So," said Upchuck to his companion, "What is your problem with Mack Mackenzie anyway? He seems like a perfectly nice guy."
"He'll have you believe that," replied Andrea, "But underneath that friendly exterior..."
Their conversation was interrupted by a loud pop from behind them.
Upchuck started to sweat. "Oh please don't tell me that is a blown tyre."
"It is a blown tyre, Upchuck."
"I know. Thanks for telling me."
"There's a gas station over there. Maybe they can help us out."
Upchuck pulled into the gas station, only to find that it was boarded up and abandoned. Now he was really worried.
"Um... Andrea? Can you open the trunk and get the spare tyre out?"
Andrea got out of the car and went to open the trunk. To her confusion, there was no spare tyre.
"Where the hell is the spare tyre?"
"WHERE IS IT?"
Upchuck jumped. He had never heard, let alone seen Andrea so angry. It was almost like hearing a younger version of Ms. Barch.
"I'll be honest. I didn't have room for a spare tyre in the car after I installed the fold-out waterbed."
Andrea slapped her forehead in frustration. "Well isn't that just great, Upchuck. We're going to have to call for a tow truck now. Hey, I have an idea what we could do to pass the time. We can watch our chance at the 50 million dollars go down the drain!"
"Can you please at least call the tow truck first and make sure my car is safe?"
As she walked over to the payphone out the front, Andrea
looked over to a large bus that was parked near the service station and watched
the driver go into the male restroom. She noticed that the location plate on
the top of the bus read
She ran back over to Upchuck. "I have an idea," said Andrea with an almost sinister grin on her face, "But you have to listen to every word I say for it to work. Follow my lead at all times, and the money is ours."
"I love that dark mind of yours, Andrea. Grr... Feisty!"
"I know you do. Now wait here and don't move until I come back."
"OK, my sweet."
Andrea got up off the ground and started walking towards the restroom. She stopped and took a deep breath.
Well, here goes nothing,
Andrea ran into the restroom. The bus driver, standing at the sink, looked up and jumped at the sight of the heavy-set Goth woman standing in the male restroom.
"What the fu..."
"Mister, you've got to help me! My friend, she's out back. She's having a baby!"
"She's having a what?"
"A baby! She's having a baby and it's halfway out! I can see the head! I need your jacket."
"For her amniotic sac! "Her amniotic fluid is gushing out..."
"The jacket! The jacket! Give me the jacket!"
The bus driver handed over his jacket to Andrea.
The plan was working well enough so far. Now for the next step.
"And your pants."
"Your pants! Yeah, for her, you know, her placenta, you know, and her labia and cervical... mucus gushing. It's gushing. It's just a hole and... Quick! The pants."
The driver handed over his pants.
This is almost working too well. Only one more thing to do now.
"And the hat."
"Why? Why my hat?"
"Duh! For the baby you moron!"
Upchuck was about to go into the restroom and find out what was taking Andrea so long when she stepped out of there, slowly putting on the bus driver's uniform over the top of her clothes.
"This is your plan?" he asked, almost in disgust, "Steal the bus driver's uniform?"
"There's more to it, now follow me."
"Wait, we're just going to leave the Love Machine here?"
"I've already called up a tow truck. They'll take it back the nearest city and we can pick it up on our way back.
Upchuck looked back to his pride and joy. He had worked so hard on making it into the car of his dreams and it was tearing him apart to have to leave it behind. On the other hand, this may be the only chance he'd ever get to win 50 million dollars this easily. He turned back to Andrea.
"Do you even know how to drive a bus?"
"No. But it can't be that hard, right?"
Together they walked over to the bus. A couple of the female passengers were standing next to it, having a drink of water.
"Let's go, ladies," said Andrea as she motioned to the bus, "All aboard. We're on our way."
"What happened to Marty?" asked one of them, a middle-aged lady with curly red hair.
"His wife's having a baby."
"I'm Andrea, your new driver and this is Upchuck. He's going to join us on this trip. Let's go."
The two ladies reluctantly got onto the bus. One of them sat down near the front, while the other stood at the front, next to the driver's seat. "Quiet. Quiet, everybody!" she shouted, trying to get the attention of the other passengers.
"You know something, Andrea?" said Upchuck in a hushed tone, "They both kind of look like Lucille Ball."
There was still little response from the passengers, so the older lady tried again. "Simmer down. Hey!"
The noise on the bus gradually quietened down. "We're going to be under way in just a minute."
She motioned for Andrea and Upchuck to get on the bus and continued on. "This is Andrea. She's our new driver. And this is Chuck. He's coming with us too. Everyone say hello."
Andrea and Upchuck walked onto the bus and gasped. The whole bus was full of Lucille Ball look-alikes!
"Hello, Andrea and Chuck!" greeted the large group of Lucys.
"Our next stop is the third annual I Love Lucy convention in
A loud cry of "Ba-ba-loo!" filled the bus.
Upchuck and Andrea looked at each other uneasily. This was going to be a long trip.
Arnold Helmsley sat down on the front porch of his palatial
It was then he saw the grey-blue sedan speeding right at him
out of the corner of his eye.
"Did I come at a bad time, asshole?" a shrill, piercing voice screamed out the vehicle.
"I'll ram this car right down your throat, you bastard!"
O'Neill could only put his head between his legs and hold the brace position as his car became nothing more than a missile on wheels. "What are you doing?"
"Don't worry. My father's a race driver. I've been driving since I was 12."
"I'm not worried about you. I'm worried about me."
Barch ignored the last question as she rammed the car into
"We should get out of here."
"Not yet!" she shouted before getting out the car and running over to her ex-husband, "You two-timing, backstabbing snake! You worm! You turd! My God! What was I thinking? I want my 22 years back!"
Barch picked up a piece of the broken fence and started smacking
"Stop hitting me!"
"Where are you going, baby?" shouted Barch, giving chase, "Wait for me!"
O'Neill started running alongside of her. "Please don't kill him."
"You can't! He's like a cockroach."
"Come on, Janet, you've had your victory. Let's go back to
the car and get going to
Barch turned around and looked at O'Neill. Then she turned to look at the Camaro. Her Camaro.
Mama's taking you home.
Barch started running back towards the house, followed by O'Neill.
"Not the car!" he shouted as he gave chase, "Oh, my God you are not taking the car!"
Barch got to the car and hopped into the driver's seat. Because the car needed to be running for the radio to work, the keys were still in the ignition.
"Come on, get our stuff and get in," she yelled at O'Neill.
"I'm not comfortable..."
"Get our stuff!"
O'Neill saw that fire in her eyes again. There was no point trying to argue now.
O'Neill reached into the back seat of his car and grabbed both his and Barch's bags, before running over to the Camaro.
"Come on. Come on. Let's go."
"I think we've just violated about 20 federal laws."
"You didn't do anything."
"I brought the stuff over."
"That's not illegal you idiot!"
"That makes me an accessory to all your crimes. This is the first illegal thing I've done in my adult life."
Their argument was interrupted by
"That's it, Janet, I'm calling the cops! You've lost your mind."
Barch wound down the window. "How does it feel?"
"I'm shaking, but that could be from the many car crashes."
"Not you, Timothy! The caveman out there!"
"Get out of my car, Janet!"
"It's my car! I paid for it!"
"Who is this?" he asked, pointing a finger at O'Neill.
"You stay away from her, nobody, unless you're tired of living."
O'Neill started crying softly.
"Don't worry about that jerk, Skinny," she said, putting a
hand on O'Neill's shoulder before turning back to
She reached into the back of the car and pulled out a lacy
black bra, spat on it then threw it onto the road at
"Could you make sure she gets it? Thanks... honey."
With that, Barch and O'Neill sped away in the Camaro, with
O'Neill's sedan buried head-first in a fence, a smoking wreck.
"There's the yellow sign with the graffiti. Turn right."
"I see it."
"Do you see it?"
"Dammit I see it!"
Jake and Helen made the final move of their instructions and turned the car right onto a dirt road. Just like the squirrel lady had told them.
"I just love this," said Helen, clapping her hands together, "This is like a treasure hunt."
Right then, the road disappeared out front under them. The car was careening down a steep hill.
"Slow down!" Helen screamed in panic.
Jake pumped the brake pedal with all his strength. Nothing.
"If we don't survive this Helen, I just want to say that I love you!"
"I love you toooooooo........"
Jake was the first to come around. He put his hand to his aching head and felt wetness near his hairline. Curious as to what it was, he took a look at his hand and saw that it was covered in blood.
I'm hurt, but I'm alive. But what about... oh my God... HELEN!
He looked over to Helen and gasped. She was bleeding from both her nose and a large cut above her eyebrow. Most worrisome of all, she wasn't moving at all.
Jake was beside himself with worry. "Helen, are you OK? Helen?"
He shook her vigorously, trying to bring her around.
"Dammit Helen please say something!"
Jake breathed a sigh of relief as Helen started to stir, before finally opening her eyes.
"We've been in a car crash, but the main thing is that you're OK."
"Oh my God, you're bleeding!"
"I know, and so are you. We need to call an ambulance and then call the girls. Are you able to get your cell phone out?"
Helen put her hand into her jean pocket, but only felt broken plastic and metal.
"I think it's broken."
"God dammit! I guess we have no choice but to get back up to the road."
They both slowly climbed out of the wreckage through the front window and took a look around at the surroundings. They had landed among the shells of about 10 cars. Helen screamed as she saw what looked like a human skeleton in one of them.
Jake saw it too. "Ugh. Good thing we're alive, otherwise we would never have been found."
He turned around, expecting to see a steep hill. All he saw was a large cliff.
"I'm sorry to say this, Helen, but there is no way back up to the road. Unless you're up for a bit of a climb."
Helen put her hands on her hips and stared at Jake with a raised eyebrow. "Even without our injuries I don't think either of us are in any condition whatsoever for climbing up a cliff."
"Indeed. Let's get our stuff and get to walking. I mean, the Interstate couldn't be too far away, right? Right?"
Jake slowly walked around to the back of the car and opened the trunk. He got his bag out of the mangled wreckage before getting Helen's bag out as well. He threw both bags down to the desert floor and gingerly climbed down from the pile of abandoned car frames.
Jake and Helen looked ahead at the desert sunset and took a deep breath.
"We really should have bought a squirrel."
As the day turned into night, the team of
There were a few teams that had already experienced some
major trouble. The Fashion Club girls, O'Neill and Barch and Upchuck and Andrea
were all now driving stolen vehicles, one that used to belong to one the
world's most evil men, another that was liberated from a jerk ex-husband and
another carrying some 30-odd Lucille Ball cosplay enthusiasts headed for a
convention in New Mexico. The Three Js had their key stolen by a crazed
locksmith and were now nearly 100 miles off-course giving chase. And, perhaps
most worrying of all, Jake and Helen were now wandering in the
Back at the Venetian, Donald Sinclair and company were sitting down to a 3-course dinner comprised of the finest food money could buy. They were all still watching the race via all the video cameras placed in the cars, but they had noticed that 2 cameras hadn't moved in hours and that 3 cameras were only bringing back static. Therefore the bets on teams like the Fashion Club girls, Jake and Helen and The Three Js had dried up considerably. The Kevin/Brittany/Mack/Jodie team appeared to be the new favourites now.
"This isn't looking good, Donald," said Grisham in a worried tone, "Half our field has gone missing and we've only been racing 15 hours."
"Au contraire, my dear Grisham. Their key ring transmitters are still moving, and I assure you that as long as we've got them going, we can find them anywhere in the United States."
"Well, let's just hope that no one dies. You'll be run out
"You and me both."
While most of the other teams had stopped for sleep, The Three Js chased the locksmith that had stolen their key all night. With the chase heading in the right direction now, they had passed a few of the stationary teams by sunrise.
Then, suddenly, the white Corvette turned off the road and onto a grassy field.
Jamie was confused. "Joey, why would he take a car like that onto the grass?"
"Maybe he's slowing down. Maybe he's finally stopping."
"I guess he knows not to mess with The Three Js. Ain't that right, Jeffy?"
Jeffy raised an eyebrow. "Does anyone other than you actually call us that?"
"Yeah, that's what everyone at school calls us."
"That is strange, because I've never heard anyone call us The Three Js before."
"Never mind that now, Jeffy, he's stopped."
Jeffy turned his car onto the grass and watched the man get out. They were ready to go again at any moment.
Bruce Dalton had driven all night to try and escape from The Three Js, but they simply would not give up. Honestly, he wasn't surprised. Whatever was motivating them to keep up the chase was more than likely the same thing that motivated him to steal their key in the first place. The money.
But he was done with the driving. He needed another way to escape. One that would get him away from those boys once and for all.
Bruce started running up the hill in front of him. Once he was at the top, he could get a better view as to where he could go from there. He could see a grounded hot-air balloon in the distance.
"There he is! Kick his ass!"
Oh, no. They still see me.
He had no choice. It was the hot-air balloon or bust.
He ran towards the balloon with everything he had. He saw another man with short blonde hair walking over to it.
"Is this your balloon?" Bruce asked the blonde haired man.
"Yes," he replied, speaking in a thick Danish accent, "Are you here for the balloon ride?"
The attendant looked at his clipboard. "Strange, your mommy must have been very confused if she named you Melissa. Also, I do not like the look of this wind. Sorry, no ride today."
"Dude, I need this balloon now!"
With that, Bruce climbed into the basket of the hot-air balloon and started untying the sandbag weights.
"Hey what are you doing, you crazy girly man?"
"What does it look like?"
He threw down the last sandbag weight, and slowly but surely he started to rise up off the ground.
Bruce looked around to see where the The Three Js were. He finally saw them, running down the hill.
"I'm coming to get you! Get back here!" shouted Jamie.
Jeffy shook his fist at the slowly-rising balloon. "I'm going to get you, stupid hardware guy!"
"You and Jamie grab a rope, I'll get the car. Quick, go!"
Joey ran back up the hill to get the car, while Jeffy and Jamie made a dash towards the balloon. It was at least 10 feet off the ground now, but the ropes were dangling at just above head-height.
"Jamie, you get the rope on the other side. I'll get this one."
Jamie ran ahead and jumped, grabbing his rope tight with both hands. Jeffy did the same with his.
The balloon showed no signs of coming back to the ground. If anything it was still going up.
"Hey Jeffy, my feet aren't even touching the ground anymore!"
Jeffy looked down and suddenly felt sick in his stomach. They were now 20 feet off the ground as the balloon started to level out.
Jamie thought of an idea. "Jeffy! Start swinging on the rope!"
"WHAT? Are you fucking crazy?"
"Do it for Quinn!"
That was the motivation that Jeffy needed. He started swinging with all the strength he had left, with Jamie doing the same.
The continuous shaking of the basket from below was making Bruce nauseous. He reached into his shirt pocket to make sure the key was still there.
I should probably move it to my pants pocket. That has a zipper on it.
Just as he took the key out of the shirt pocket, a violent jolt sent the key flying out of his hand, over the edge of the basket.
"It's loose on your side, Jamie!"
Jamie took one hand off of the rope, reached out and hoped for a miracle catch.
He suddenly felt glorious metal in his hand.
"I got it! I got the key!" Jamie shouted as he put the key in his pocket, "Now how do we get down?"
Suddenly they both heard a horn beeping from below. Joey was in the car underneath them.
"Have you got the key yet?" he yelled from below.
"You'll have to jump, guys!"
Joey pushed the passenger seat was down, allowing for a maximum allowable landing space in the car for Jeffy and Jamie.
Jeffy closed his eyes. "I'm so going to die now."
With that, he let go of his rope. Amazingly, he landed in the sweet spot.
"Now you, Jamie!"
Jamie let go of his rope. However, he landed flat on the metal bonnet of the car with a thud. Joey stopped the car straight away, sending Jamie flailing to the grass.
Joey ran out of the car to attend to Jamie. "Jamie! Are you all right, man?"
"Wake up, dude!"
Finally, Jamie started to move. He sat up, and then gingerly reached into his pocket.
"I... got... the key..."
Joey pumped his fists in happiness. "Jamie I would kiss you right now if it wasn't gay! Now, let me help you back into the car."
Using Joey as a support, Jamie limped into the back seat of the car. Jeffy turned around and gave him a high five as Joey started the car again and began to drive back to the highway.
Meanwhile back in the hot-air balloon, Bruce could only watch as The Three Js drove off into the distance.
Now, how do I make this damn balloon go down?
There was one other team that had driven all night, this being the Fashion Club girls in the stolen Hitler touring car. They had to keep driving at all costs, lest they become piñatas for the angry skinheads giving chase. Quinn had driven for most of the night, so she was now asleep in the front seat next to Sandi.
"What's what, Stacy?"
"I feel something at my feet."
Stacy bent down and picked it up. "Wow, a harmonica."
She put it up to her lips and blew into it. The resulting tune accidentally woke Quinn from her sleep.
Sandi was annoyed now. "Give it to me. You can't play that."
"Why not, Sandi?"
"Because it's, like, Hitler's harmonica. You can't play Hitler's harmonica."
"Well, you're driving his car."
"But I'm not touching it with my mouth. I'm not sucking on the dashboard. I'm not getting his icky germs."
Sandi looked into the rear-view mirror. "Tiffany, what happened to your lips?"
Tiffany's lips were now a very dark red, almost brown shade, a far cry from her regular colour.
"I found it on the floor. I'm like Mrs. Hitler or something."
"Well it looks terrible on you."
Quinn, now wide awake, turned around to Tiffany. "Let me have a look at it."
Tiffany handed her a small, gold tube. She opened it up to reveal a tube of dark red lipstick.
Quinn looked at the tube, perplexed that it had lasted over 60 years. "That Eva Braun had style, didn't she?"
"Eva Braun. She was Hitler's girlfriend or something."
"When did you have the time to learn this stuff, Quinn?"
Sandi would never get an answer, as her attention was drawn to a white van behind her, beeping its horn. She looked in the rear-view mirror and screamed in horror.
It was the tour guide from the
And they did not look happy.
Back on the tour bus headed to
"Ladies, Lucys, Lucys, stay behind the line, please." she shouted. She wasn't expecting them to listen, but it was worth a shot.
Meanwhile, at the back of the bus, Upchuck was in deep conversation with one of the younger, more attractive Lucys. Despite his love of classic comedy, he'd never actually seen the show. But that wasn't going to stop him from bluffing his way into a more romantic setting if there was an opportunity, even though it could incur Andrea's wrath.
"I guess my favourite episode, if I had to pick one, would be Episode 34."
"That was an awesome one! Hey, do you remember that one when Ricky wouldn't take his hat off?"
"I don't remember that one, but it sounds like a masterpiece."
"What about the one where she got caught in the freezer?"
Andrea looked in the rear-view mirror to make sure Upchuck wasn't harassing the ladies too much, but was distracted by one of the Lucys lighting up a cigarette.
"Ma'am? Lucy! You have to put that out, please."
She jumped in shock, sending the lit cigarette flying.
Flying into the hair of the Lucy behind her.
In the back seat of the bus, Upchuck was still in conversation with the hot Lucy.
"Let me ask you something, did Jerry Lewis ever guest star..."
He stopped and sniffed the air. He could smell smoke. He looked around to find the source.
The smoke was coming from the hair of the Lucy in front of him.
Upchuck tapped her on the shoulder. "Lucy, your hair!"
"Thank you. I couldn't decide whether to keep it up or try something new."
"No, it's on fire!"
Lucy screamed and jumped out her seat, setting off a chain reaction of yelling and shouting.
One of the Lucys grabbed Andrea by the shoulder. "Stop the bus!"
"We're not stopping!"
The hot Lucy was overcome with worry. "Just put it out! Upchuck, do something!"
He looked around to see if there were any water bottles lying around. He saw one on the floor and picked it up.
"Dang, it's empty!"
"Use the bathroom!"
"Oh. Forgot all about that. That should work."
Upchuck put Lucy in a headlock and led her towards the bathroom at the back of the bus.
He kicked open the door. "I've never been on this side of the swirly before, so forgive me if you end up wetter than you expect."
Upchuck looked at the toilet and frowned. It was one of those airplane toilets that use very little water.
"Looks like we're using the sink, ma'am."
He forced her head under the tap as he turned it on full blast. The fire in her hair went out almost instantly, but now the back of the bus was flooded.
For his troubles, Upchuck received some polite applause from the other passengers. He made his way down the aisle to the seat behind Andrea.
He noticed Andrea was upset. "What's wrong with my princess off the night?"
"I don't know how much more of this I can handle, Charles."
She must be upset if she's using my actual name.
"It's just until we get to
Andrea sighed and put a hand on Upchuck's shoulder. "Thanks."
She then squeezed down hard on it.
"Ow! What was that for?"
"You know damn well what that was for. Try and stay out of the view of the rear-vision mirror next time, lover boy."
Billy Ray McCormack was restocking the Gas n' Grab drinks fridge with the latest delivery of Ultra Cola. He didn't particularly care much for sodas; he was a drinker of hard liquors outside of work. Sometimes even inside of work if it was a particularly rough day.
He saw a big black car pull up to the fuel pump, barely missing the sign out the front. He was surprised to see the Fashion Club girls get out of the car and run into his gas station. Caught off-guard, Billy Ray ran to the service counter.
"Do you ladies need anything?"
Sandi spoke first. "Can we, like, please hide in your store room or something?"
"Can you give me one good reason why I should?"
"It's a matter of life and death!"
Stacy looked over to the fuel pumps and started to hyper-ventilate. Billy Ray looked over and saw a white van pull up next to their car.
Maybe I should do the right thing here.
"All right all right, just be caref..."
He didn't even get out the rest of his sentence before the girls ran towards the storeroom. In her hurry to get in there, Quinn tripped over a brick on the floor.
"Ow! Damn bricks, wreck my pedicure why don't you!" she yelled before picking it up.
"Don't move that..."
The door shut behind them.
Billy Ray's attention was diverted by the noise of the door opening again. He watched as a man with slicked black hair wearing a shirt with a swastika on it walked up to the counter.
"Have you seen any teenage girls walk in here?"
Billy Ray gulped. This must have been the guy those girls were running from.
"I'm sorry to say I haven't, sir."
"OK then. Sorry to waste your time."
He walked out of the gas station and walked over to the big black car. He hopped into the driver's seat and drove off, followed by the white van. As soon as he could no longer see them, he ran to the storeroom door.
"Are you girls OK?"
"Yeah... are they gone?" said Quinn from the other side.
"Yep, they're gone, but they've taken your car."
"Oh no! That had all our clothes and cosmetics in there!"
Billy Ray heard one of them yelp in shock. He could hear another two of them crying. Then, a thud.
I hope she landed on the bags of potting mix.
Sandi tried to open the door to get out, but it wouldn't open. She tried again, jiggling it faster and harder. Still nothing. "Um... excuse me. The door's locked."
"I tried to tell you. The lock on that door is broken, so I keep it open a crack by putting a brick up against it."
Billy Ray walked back to the counter and picked up the phone.
Should I ring the police first or the locksmith?
He instead hung up the phone, picked up a bottle of bourbon and took a large swig.
"Great, another tollbooth. Babe, can you cover me on this one?"
"Sure thing, Kevvy!"
Daria and Jane were making great progress in the organ delivery van. Zack's desperate need to meet his deadline allowed them to drive faster than anyone else in the race.
To pass the time, Jane started up her favourite driving game, Picnic. "I'm going to the picnic and I'm bringing... an African elephant tusk. Your turn, Daria."
"I'm going to the picnic and I'm bringing an African elephant tusk and a... brain-sucking slug. Zack's turn."
"I'm going to the picnic and I'm bringing an African elephant tusk, a brain-sucking slug and... a Compact Pussycat."
Jane tapped Daria on the shoulder. "Speaking of wacky racers, isn't that the Sloane siblings in the Ticking Time Bomb?"
Indeed it was Tom and Elsie in the old Jaguar, right in front of them.
"They'll be easy to pass, girls."
Zack pushed down on the accelerator and drove past the Sloanes with ease. As he moved the van in front of them, Daria looked out the back window.
"I wonder why they're having a slap fight at 100 miles per hour."
"You know what rich people are like, Daria. Their idea of car games are different to those of us bottom-feeding plebs. Anyway, never mind that right now. Look at us go. We are zooming."
"Tell me you didn't just say zooming."
Ignoring that last remark, Jane turned her attention to Zack. "Hey, Zack, you're doing a bang-up job with the driving."
"I told you I'd be fast. We're hauling ass."
Zack looked around, almost as if he thought someone was watching him, before turning to Daria.
"Hey, guess what I got back there."
"Didn't you just tell us that we're hauling ass?"
"That's just an expression. It's a heart."
"A heart? That sounds delicious."
Zack laughed again.
"You girls have a great sense of humour. Yes, it's a human
heart and some lucky bastard in
Zack looked around again, like he was about to do something naughty.
"You want to see it?"
"See what, the heart?"
"Do you think we're allowed to see it?"
"Probably not, but just take a peek. One peek. What could happen?"
Zack took one of his hands off the steering wheel and fumbled around with the lid of the cooler next to him. After a bit of a struggle, he finally got it open.
"It's a heart. It needs fresh air. It's been locked up in that cooler for seven hours."
Daria and Jane moved up to the front of the van to take a look at the heart.
"Hey, it's almost as lifelike as the model in your room, Daria!"
Suddenly, the car in front stopped. Zack stood on the brakes, narrowly avoiding a pile-up.
However, the momentum sent the heart flying out of the cooler, hitting the floor of the van with a splat.
"Shit! Oh, where did it go? Please don't step on it!"
"We're behind you! It flew forward!"
"Well can you help please?"
Daria and Jane climbed into the front part of the van and started looking for the missing heart.
Jane picked up a sticky reddish-brown object. "I think I found it."
"No, that's a caramel apple."
"Don't mind her, she always gets caramel apples and human hearts mixed up," said Daria as she watched Jane throw the caramel apple out the window.
"Now's not the time for jokes, Daria. I need to find that heart now."
"Well shouldn't we stop the van first?"
"No! I'm already behind schedule. I have to keep going at all costs."
Daria and Jane sat back down and watched as Zack steered with one hand and fumbled around for the heart in the other.
"Should I take over, Jane? I feel like we're about to end up as roadkill if I don't."
"And the chances of that happening are going to change with you driving?"
In spite of their injuries, Jake and Helen had walked through the desert all night, trying to make as much ground as possible in the cooler temperatures. But now it was morning again and there was still no sign of civilisation. They were losing hope fast.
"It's my fault, Helen," said Jake, his voice reduced to a raspy whisper, "I shouldn't have stopped you from buying a squirrel."
"No Jake, it's my fault for making you stop at that crazy lady's shack and ask for directions."
"Wait... can you see that?"
"It's probably a mirage, Jake."
"No, I can really see something, dammit! See that long blue thing on the ground?"
"Yes! I see it too!"
"God I hope it's water!"
They both started running with as much energy as they could muster until they reached the blue object. Their faces changed from unbridled joy to sadness and confusion.
"Dammit! It's not water!" said Jake, kicking the object before falling to his knees in anguish.
"It looks like a rocket of some kind. Look! There are some people!"
At that moment, they saw two men in white lab coats running over to them.
"Mother of mercy!" yelled one of them in shock, "Where'd you come from? Car accident?"
He put his arm around Jake's shoulder to support him. The other man did the same with Helen. They helped them over to a large marquee area, where there were many people in white coats, looking over various computers.
"Here, sit down." said the taller man, "You two look exhausted."
"How long y'all been out there?" asked the other man as he handed both Jake and Helen a cup of water, "Here, have something to drink."
Helen gulped down the water in mere seconds. "We've been walking all night. Can you please get me a phone, because I need to call my daughters."
"Ladies and gentlemen, members of the press..."
Jake raised an eyebrow. "What are you guys doing out here anyway?"
"Some rocket scientists from
The head scientist continued his press conference. "...a unique combination of automotive and aerodynamic innovation. The vehicle, which we call Lightning II, represents three years of research and development which was conducted at the California Institute of Technology by our design team led by Professor Ken Freedman and Dr. Richard Kramer."
"That's our cue," said the taller man as he brushed sand and dirt off his coat, "You guys stay here and keep yourselves hydrated. When this is done, we'll have our ambulance take you to the nearest hospital."
As she watched Freedman and Kramer walk over to the press conference, Helen thought of an idea. Not wanting to draw attention, she whispered into Jake's ear. A sly grin slowly spread across his face, and they both started running over towards the Lightning II. Jake gently opened the cockpit door and sat down, with Helen sitting on his lap.
Meanwhile at the podium, the taller man took to the mic. "We believe that, aerodynamically this is the most perfect vehicle ever designed. The entire vehicle weighs less than 200 pounds. The body is a one-piece Kevlar composite. The wheels are solid billet aluminium and she's powered by twin J-79 turbo jet engines, the same engines that are in the F-4 Phantom jet. Are there any questions?"
"Dr. Kramer, what is the current land speed record?"
"That would be 760 miles per hour, but we hope to have a new record today. Anyone else?"
"How do you start it?" shouted Jake from the inside of the rocket car. This earned him a slap on the back of his head and an angry stare from Helen.
"Good question. A green lever to the left of the steering wheel in the cockpit engages the primary thruster, igniting the..."
The almost deafening blast of a jet engine cut off the rest off the sentence. Jake and Helen had started the Thunder II and were now speeding down the desert at a near supersonic speed.
Back at the launch site, Professor Freedman and Dr. Kramer were huddled over a variety of computers, looking at the telemetry data it was bringing back from the car. "That injured couple have stolen our damn rocket car!"
"But look at the speeds! They are already at 650 miles per hour!"
"What are you talking about? They're at 700 now!"
"Good lord, the record is going to go!"
"771! That's the record."
As the other scientists and mechanics behind them started to high-five each other, Kramer kept his eye on the computer telemetry.
"They're still climbing! They're shattering the sound barrier!"
Meanwhile, Mystik Spiral were making decent progress in The Tank. Other than the fact that the van required a push start every time they stopped for fuel, in itself an event that happens all too frequently, The Tank was running like a charm.
Then they heard a loud bang from outside.
Max jumped out his seat, hitting his head on the roof. Jesse sat up bolt upright and screamed. Nick barely moved out of his slumber.
"I already paid the child support for Ariel this week..."
Max looked over to
"I don't think so."
"Well, why is that light flashing on the dashboard?"
"There it is."
He picked up a small piece of Duct tape and placed it over the light.
Max sat back and looked out the window.
I wonder what's with that massive dust cloud in the distance.
The I Love Lucy convention bus was snaking its way down the Interstate, barely 50 miles away from
One of the Lucys made their way to the front of the bus and stood next to Andrea. "How's it going, captain?"
"So far, so good."
"How about a pit stop?"
"Sorry. This is a one-way flight. Isn't there a bathroom in the back?"
"I would, but the latch is broken. Anybody could just come in."
"So what? You ain't got anything the other Lucys haven't seen already."
Well then. That explains the deep voice and five o'clock shadow.
Her train of thought was thankfully interrupted a loud bang from the back of the bus. She started to struggle to maintain a straight line, so she pulled over the side of the road and stopped.
"Oh, shit. What now? Upchuck, go see what's wrong."
"Aye aye captain!"
Watched by the Lucys, he opened the door of the bus and walked out to the back, before coming back to Andrea.
"It's another flat tyre, Andrea."
Andrea banged her head against the steering wheel in frustration. It was their second flat tyre of the race.
She threw the bus keys to Upchuck. "Check and see if there's a spare tyre underneath in the luggage compartment or something."
One by one, the Lucys filed out of the bus and surrounded Upchuck.
"Chuck, what are you doing?" asked the hot Lucy.
"It's a flat tyre. I think Andrea would want you to stay on the bus."
Now all the Lucys were offering advice and generally getting in the way.
"You're turning it the wrong way."
"Maybe we should check the oil."
"I think you're supposed to change the air in the tires every 2000 miles."
"I can fix it. Give me that jack!"
Upchuck jumped to his feet. "Ladies, please! As much as I'd love you all around, I need room to work. Wait, what the hell?"
Two of the Lucys had brought out the spare tyre and were rolling it towards him.
"Be careful, that's the only spare!"
He could only watch in horror as one of them stumbled and lost control of the wheel, sending it rolling down the highway.
"Don't worry, we'll catch it!"
But it was a futile chase, as they gave up after barely 20 yards. Andrea could only watch from the driver's seat as the spare tyre, and possibly their chance of winning the 50 million dollars, rolled down the hill into the infinite.
The school bus containing DeMartino, Bennett, Defoe and Li were having a pleasantly uneventful race, but they had fallen back in the pack due to Li's conservative driving and outright refusal to let anyone else take over.
DeMartino was starting to get frustrated with Li's pace. "Come on, Angela, we NEED to start moving faster if we are any CHANCE of winning the money."
"Sorry, Anthony. There could be hidden speed cameras everywhere, so I can't take the chance."
"Well, why don't you let ME drive? You won't have to WORRY about losing your LICENCE then, would you?"
"Why would I let a raving psychopath like you behind the wheel?"
"I don't know, MAYBE because I could drive it FASTER than the BITCH driving it NOW!"
Bennett stood between DeMartino and Li, pushing them apart. "Come on you two, no need to get all angry at each other. Hey, is the engine meant to smoke like that?"
Li turned back around. Smoke was indeed rising up from the engine.
"Pull into that Gas n' Grab there. Maybe the man there can have a looksee and tell us what's wrong."
"All right, but if he wants to fix something I'm not paying for it."
Li pulled the bus into the gas station and stopped the bus.
"Claire, can you go get the mechanic out here for us?"
That's right. Be the leader until there's actual work to be done.
Billy Ray took a close look at front of the bus, and found the problem quite fast.
"Looks like you've got a crack in your radiator. That's this big tank in front of this big engine."
Defoe frowned. "I do know what a radiator is. Is there a place where we can rent a car?"
"Nearest place is
"OK, look. We'll just have to patch it. A quick fix."
"Patch it? Patch it with what?"
"Sand and tire sealant. You mix the two. It forms an adhesive, lasting about 4-5 hours. We only have, what, about 500 miles to go?"
"Darling, we don't have any sand."
"Hello! We're in the desert!"
As Defoe continued to negotiate with Billy Ray, DeMartino had gone to the bathroom to take his stress medication. One dose would be strong enough to send a normal person to sleep for 4 hours, but for someone as wound up as DeMartino, all it did was stop the eye-bulging for a couple of hours.
DeMartino looked in the mirror, and then back at the small bottle of pills.
"Quick dissolve for INSTANT effect, hm?"
A sinister smile spread across his face.
He left the bathroom and went over to Li. "Hey... um... Angela, I would just like to APOLOGISE for my actions earlier. It was quite UNPROFESSIONAL of me."
"That's quite all right, Anthony. Just try not to let your temper control you."
"To show that there are no hard FEELINGS, I would like to BUY you and everyone else a drink. What would YOU like?"
"Between you and me, I'm craving an iced tea."
DeMartino rubbed his hands together. "No problem. I'll SEE what they have."
He went into the shop of the gas station and walked towards the fridge. Just as he opened the fridge door, he heard a deep, yet feminine voice.
"Help! Is there, like, anybody out there?"
Then, there was another female voice.
"Open the door! My hands are too dry to bang it anymore!"
That's it. When I get back to
Daria and Jane were still trying to help Zack find the heart that had gotten lost in his van. As a result, their speed had dropped significantly.
Observing this, Jane had an idea. "Maybe you should stop the van and have a proper look."
Daria agreed. "Yeah, that could work."
Zack stopped on the side of the road. "Get out and look under your seat. You'll get a better look there. I'll look on my side."
Daria and Jane half-heartedly looked under the passenger seat before getting back in. Zack, however, was putting his hand in every gap and orifice he could find.
"Ow... pointy. Eww... slimy. Uh oh... moving! Wait a minute, slimy... is that... is that... yes!"
Zack took the slimy object out from under the seat. It was the heart, but it was now covered in dirt, hair and all manner of crumbs. It was in no condition to be put in someone's body.
"I think it's OK. What do you think?"
Daria pointed at the heart. "What about those smudges of dirt?"
"That's how it was. I'm pretty sure."
Daria and Jane looked at him with raised eyebrows.
"What am I doing? I can't go to
"We get a drifter."
"Yeah! We find a drifter, kill him, and cut out his heart. Nobody's going to miss him, right? I mean, he's a drifter."
"This wasn't something I was expecting to tick off the bucket list so soon."
"He's an invisible man. It's a perfect plan."
Jane looked into his eyes. They seemed unnaturally focused and determined.
"It takes a whole lot of stuff for this happen, Zack, but now you are starting to freak me out."
"Where do I find a drifter? Surely there'd be..."
He suddenly stopped mid-thought. Daria could almost literally hear the gears crunching in his brain.
"Daria. Jane. Where did you say you were from?"
"Me? I've lived in
"And your family, they're back there?
"Only my older brother. My parents are currently fighting off Nazis and looking for the Ark of the Covenant. I think. I couldn't even guess where my other siblings are."
"No, I am completely alone, except for my mother, father and sister. Why..."
Jane started to sweat. "If the next words out of your mouth are 'Kali Ma', I'm out of here."
Zack wasn't responding. He started to advance on the girls, arms outstretched, foaming at the mouth.
"Looks like them
Daria pointed out towards the desert. "Look, a drifter. Let's kill him."
With his attention diverted, Daria and Jane started running along the highway.
"Son of a... Come back here!"
Zack tried to give chase, but his fitness was nowhere near that of Jane or even Daria. He stopped about 100 yards away from the van and starting sucking in deep breaths.
"Ah... forget it. Their hearts... are too dark... anyway."
DeMartino had made one last check of the drinks order. They didn't have a lot of adult beverages there, so he ended up with a caramel milk for Defoe, a Diet Ultra Cola for Bennett, a chocolate milk for himself and, last and definitely least, an iced tea for Li.
Leaving a 10 dollar note on the counter, he went back around to the bathroom. Making sure that no one was watching, he opened up the iced tea and dropped one of his stress pills in it.
He smiled an evil grin as he watched it dissolve in the iced tea. "Sorry, Angela, but EVERYBODY'S got a price."
DeMartino put the lid back on and shook it up, making sure there were no other noticeable effects of tampering, before walking out and handing Li her iced tea.
"Thank you, Anthony. I've wanted one of these since I left
DeMartino watched as Li gulped down nearly three quarters of the bottle.
"Ahh... that's good iced tea. I should make a few phone calls when I get back to Lawndale High and see if I can rustle up a bit of funding for the school."
"You sure you should be DOING that so soon after the Ultra Cola DEBACLE?"
"The heat from that has died down now."
And that meddling Daria Morgendorffer will no longer be there to thwart me.
Li suddenly put her hand to her forehead.
"Are you FEELING all right, Angela?" asked DeMartino in a voice of faux concern.
"Actually, I'm starting to feel a little woozy. Maybe I should rest in the bus for a while."
DeMartino chuckled to himself as he watched Li stagger onto the bus. Everything was going according to plan.
Meanwhile, Billy Ray was putting the last touches on the radiator repairs, with Defoe and Bennett looking on.
"Well, that's it. But I still don't think she's going to hold."
"It will hold long enough. How much do we owe you?"
"What, for two quarts of sealant? I'm an economics teacher, and there's no way that would cost that much. That's 50 dollars tops."
"Sorry, its full price or else you don't leave."
Defoe opened her wallet and handed him some money. "OK, here's 100 dollars. That's double what its worth."
Defoe and Bennett started to walk to the bus door.
"Hold it. Another little tool no mechanic should be without."
Defoe turned around while Bennett got on. Billy Ray gave Defoe the rest of the tyre sealant, then held out his hand.
Defoe angrily threw the rest of her money at his feet. "Fine. Here's your 500 dollars. But you know what, Billy Ray? Karma is going to bite you right in the butt for this. What goes around comes around. This is so... un-Christian."
"Un-Christian? Well, if the good Lord don't like the way I conduct business, let Him say something. Let Him give me a sign."
Defoe turned her back on him and stomped off. DeMartino handed her her drink as she got on the bus.
"Thanks, Anthony. What's wrong with Angela?"
"She's just having an itty-bitty POWERNAP."
"Is she in deep?"
A sly smile appeared on Defoe's face. She walked up to the back of the bus where she was asleep on the back seat.
Defoe turned around to DeMartino and Bennett gave a thumbs up to them, before slapping Li in the face as hard as she could, leaving a large, red handprint right on her cheek.
"That's for making me spend my spending money on bus repairs, you tight-ass dictator jerk!"
Li's only response was to continue snoring. Her sleep was that deep.
Satisfied, Defoe calmly walked back up to the front of the bus and sat down behind DeMartino. Both he and Bennett were stunned.
"Why... er... Claire... I didn't know you FELT that way. That was GREAT!"
Bennett gave Defoe a high five. "I've wanted to do that to her for 10 years!"
"But I thought that you believed in all that HIPPIE stuff?"
Defoe looked back towards Li. "I guess I've made an exception then, haven't I? Step on it, Anthony."
He closed the doors of the bus and drove it on out of the Gas n' Grab. Before long, they were already going double the speed of Li's driving.
Meanwhile back at the Gas n' Grab, Billy Ray still stood out the front, arms stretched wide. He looked up towards the heavens, waiting for a divine sign.
"Oh, Lord, I'm here and I'm listening! Hello!"
At that moment, a blue blur sped past with such velocity that the resulting wind blast blew the walls off of the gas station and knocked him off his feet. He could only watch in utter disbelief as his gas station crumbled to the ground.
Amongst the rubble, the Fashion Club girls were finally able to escape from their accidental lock-in. But the experience took its toll on their appearance.
"Oh my God, Quinn! All your makeup has smudged!"
"So has yours, Stacy! Your mascara is all over your cheeks!"
Sandi threw hands up in frustration. "Snap out of it both of you. As former President of the Fashion Club, I'm calling an emergency re-assembly. Stacy, start taking notes."
"With what? All my stationary was in my bag, which I think is still in the Hitler car."
"Never mind. Clearly our presentation is not up to Fashion Club standards, so I suggest that we wave down the next car on the road and get them to take us to the nearest Cashman's. We will replenish our supply of cosmetics, moisturisers and clothing and then we will continue the race from there. All in favour?"
"It's unanimous. We're going shopping."
The girls walked out to the kerb to see what the next car on the road was. They smiled when they saw it was a couple of acquaintances from Lawndale High, Tori Jericho and Brooke Watkins.
Tori pulled the car over next to the girls. "Hey, guys. What happened? You look terrible."
Sandi leaned on the door of the car. "It's, like, a really long story. Can you give us a lift to Cashman's?"
"Sure, hop in!"
Stacy walked around to the back door on the left side of the car and tried to open it. It wouldn't open.
"Um... I think you forgot to unlock the door, Tori."
"On second thought we changed our minds."
Sandi was livid. "Give us one good reason why!"
"Think about it. Actually, you can't think, so I'll tell it to you in real small words so you can understand. Brooke and I have been trying to get into the Fashion Club since middle school, but you've always turned us down. All you wanted from me was to tell you how popular all the other people were, while Brooke had to go get freakin' plastic surgery so you would even consider her!"
Brooke looked over with a sinister smile on her face. "But
with you four dead in the desert, we can take over the Fashion Club, rebuild it
in our own image and become the most popular girls in all of
Quinn was almost crying now. "Come on, guys, it's not like we didn't want you in. It's just that 4 people are hard enough to manage, let alone 5 or 6."
"Don't you start, firecrotch. You're the reason why we're so mad! They had us work for years, only for them to let you in the club on your first day at school without doing a damn thing!"
Tori looked over at Brooke, then back at the Fashion Club girls. "At least you'll have all the time in the world to work on that tan, now that you'll be in the sun until you die! Now, excuse us, for we are on our way to a concert. Toodles!"
With that, the hot pink hatch sped away, leaving the girls choking and coughing on dust.
Stacy brushed herself off. "How rude was that!"
"I'm saying this now. When we get back to
"I agree, but for that to happen, we need to start waving cars down again."
"They're waving us down. Should we stop?"
"I think we should, Jesse. It'd be rude not to."
"Hey, uh... Quinn, isn't it? Would you and your friends like a lift or something?"
"We would love a lift to Cashman's if you wouldn't mind."
"Um... sure, but we don't come to this area much, so it might take a while. Hop aboard."
Quinn and Stacy stepped onto the van but Sandi put her arm out, stopping them.
"You're kidding, right? Ride with those dirty punks in their crapmobile? Not in this lifetime."
Max started to laugh. "Crapmobile, you say? That's actually a compliment compared to the other things it's been called."
Quinn tapped Sandi on the shoulder and whispered something in her ear.
"Excuse me Quinn's sister's friend's brother; I have to talk to my friend. Please wait."
They're talking about a prize. Hopefully it's a different one to the one I have my eyes on.
Soon enough, Quinn and Sandi came back over.
"We're in, but instead of Cashman's we're, like, going to
"All right that's good stuff. Let me just start her up and we'll be on our way."
The normally placid
"Let me have a look at it,
Everyone stared at Stacy, surprised that she even made such an offer.
"Maybe I can find out what's wrong with your van."
She walked around to the front of The Tank and opened up the bonnet. A plume of smoke rose up from inside.
Stacy gave a quick once-over of the engine. "Looks like a lot of your engine is cooked to bits. Frankly
I'm surprised it's made it this far. Some engine coolant should be a quick fix
until we get to
Max shook his head. "I don't even have any at home."
"Let me just go get some from the gas station then."
Stacy walked over to what was left of the Gas n' Grab and took a bottle of engine coolant from a shelf. Billy Ray saw this and chased down Stacy.
"Are you going to pay for that, missy?"
"Not yet, but here's what I'll do. My friends and I are going to leave for a couple of hours, and then I'll pay you when we come back. Deal?"
"Well then. I'll just keep the coolant and my money then. Bye."
Stacy walked away, leaving Billy Ray a forlorn figure.
He looked up to the sky. "All right, all right! You win. I'll see you at church next week."
Back at The Tank, Stacy poured some of the green liquid into the engine, and then put the bottle in the back.
"Try it out now."
Stacy shut the bonnet. "You hear that, boys and girls? That's the sound of victory."
While he and the rest of Mystik Spiral cheered, Sandi, Quinn and Tiffany could only just stand there; mouths open as to what they just saw. Tiffany was the first of the girls to speak.
"I thought it was the sound of an engine."
"You ladies still need a ride, don't you?" asked Nick as he himself got into The Tank.
The girls hopped in one by one. Tiffany, the last one in, hit her head on the roof.
"Ow... that hurt."
Jesse looked concerned. "Don't worry about it. Happens to me all the time, and I'm just fine."
He looked out the window. "Is the sky always this blue?"
Meanwhile, on the mattress at the back of the van, sat Sandi, Stacy, Nick and Max. Sandi still looked shocked that Stacy actually knew stuff about cars, let alone what was needed to make one run better.
"So um... when did you, like, learn how to do that, Stacy?"
"You know all those summers when I said I was busy researching fashion trends overseas?"
"I was actually fixing up cars at my uncle's workshop in Leeville."
"So that explains why you said overalls were, like, in style that one time."
"It was pretty funny watching you wear those overalls every day for the first half of freshman year."
Nick sat up against the wall of the van. "So how did pretty young things like you end up in a mess like this?"
"Well, we kind of stole Hitler's car."
"You stole Hitler's car? Oh man, you girls are better criminales than the Spiral!"
"Don't you, like, mean criminals?"
"That's what I said, wasn't it?"
Quinn looked at back at the scene in the back of the van and smiled.
"Models and rock stars. It's always the way isn't it?"
Quinn looked over at
"Yeah. I mean, I've seen you around when I hang out with Jane and Daria, and I think you're going to become a beautiful young woman. You must spend a lot of time working on keeping yourself looking nice."
"Thank you. I've never heard your music, but I assume your band is good."
In a small town on the Texas/Oklahoma border, Nurse Martha Riggs was taking a group of mentally-challenged patients on a day trip in the town. They had a great day there, but it was now time for them to get back on the bus back to the hospital. She started ushering people on the bus.
"George, don't eat that. Simon, put that down," she said, taking away a wadded-up ball of tissue paper and a small lizard from the pair.
She looked down the road to make sure she had everyone, and was shocked to see a dishevelled middle-aged couple hobbling towards her.
It was Jake and Helen. The Lightning II had finally come to a halt just outside of the town and they were both heavily disoriented from the experience. Nurse Riggs decided it was a good idea to take them in for a check-up.
"You too. Get on the bus, please."
"We were going to buy a squirrel." said Helen, in a surprisingly chirpy voice.
"Come on, you don't want to miss dinner. It's macaroni night!"
"We came in the rocket car," said Jake, also strangely chirpy.
There's clearly something wrong. I'm definitely taking them in.
Nurse Riggs took their hands and started to walk them to the bus. "Oh, a rocket car. I want to hear all about that on the bus."
"All right, but we still have to win..."
"You'll have plenty of time to win when we get back, but we have to leave now, all right?"
She sat in the driver's seat and ushered Jake and Helen to the seats behind her. They both knew that weren't meant to be on the bus, but their bodies were too worn out to do anything about it.
"Everybody in? All right, let's go!"
Nurse Riggs started the bus and began to drive out of town. Jake and Helen look at each other.
"Honey, I don't think we're meant to be on this bus..."
Kevin pulled up to the both and looked over to
The toll booth operator simply frowned. "Sorry, that nonsense doesn't work at this toll booth. 3 dollars please."
"You just had to choose the only toll booth that had a girl in it!"
Jodie opened up her wallet and handed Kevin a 5 dollar note. "Look, just take some of my money and get this over with."
Kevin took the money and handed it to the operator. He didn't even wait to get his change back, leaving as soon as the toll gate was opened.
"Sorry, Jodie. I'll pay you back when we win the race."
Jodie didn't respond. She had already gone back to reading her book.
A beeping noise started up from
"Did you bring a car charger for it?" asked Mack.
"I think I did. Let me just check my purse."
She pulled out a small black object, the car charger for her cell phone.
"Kevvy, can you take the cigarette lighter out so I can charge my cell phone?"
"Sure thing, babe."
Kevin unscrewed the cigarette lighter from the centre console, but dropped it on his hand.
"Ow! It burnt my finger!"
"Put it out the window! The wind will cool it down."
Kevin took his hand off the steering wheel and put it out the window. He flexed his other fingers, allowing the burnt one to get all the wind.
Mack looked out the window, then started frantically tapping Kevin on the shoulder. "Uh... Kevin?"
"What is it, Mack Daddy?"
"You shouldn't be doing that."
"Sorry. I forgot you don't like that nickname."
"Not that. That!"
Mack pointed at Kevin's burnt finger. He may not have been doing it intentionally, but he was flipping off a biker gang.
And they were not very happy.
The head biker sped up and swerved in front of the Jeep, forcing Kevin to slow it down. He made a few different hand gestures, which appeared to be orders meant for the other bikers. A couple of them went around to the passenger side of the car. They were now surrounding the Jeep.
One of the bikers on the right removed a large chain from the inside of his jacket and started swinging it at the Jeep. Soon enough, all the others were trying to destroy the car, using baseball bats and crowbars in addition to chains. They were attacking with brutal force.
The head biker stopped his bike and got off of it. He walked over to the Jeep and dragged Kevin out by the scruff of the neck.
"What's the matter with you? Don't you know what happens when you mess with people like us?"
"I... only... burnt... my... finger..."
"Look at me when I'm talking to you, boy! If you're not going to respect us, I'll just start beating it into you!"
With that, he swung a vicious right hand right at the head of Kevin, knocking him to the grass. He then started kicking him in the ribs, at the urging of his fellow bikers. Despite the fact that he was wearing his protective football gear, Kevin was feeling the effects of the kicks.
Meanwhile, Brittany, Mack and Jodie had climbed out of the crash and were hiding on the other side of the embankment. They were a little banged-up, but were otherwise unhurt.
Mack stood up. "Brittany, Jodie, please stay here. I'm going in."
Jodie grabbed Mack by the arm. "Please don't. We have to
call the police. Is your phone still on,
"Sorry, it went flat."
"Looks I have no choice, then."
He turned around to Jodie.
"Please be careful."
He gave Jodie a quick kiss before walking over. He had never been more scared in his life, but he had to do something to save his friend.
"Why the hell are you doing this to him? He only burnt his damn finger!"
The head biker flung Kevin to the ground and walked towards Mack. Despite being the same height, he was a lot more physically built than Mack.
"Ooh, you think you're the big Mack Daddy trying to protect this idiot and those whores over there. I tell you what, when we're done with this guy, you're next! You got that, nigger?"
Mack clenched his fists. That was the final straw. The biker had just crossed a line from which there was no return by calling him THAT name. A name that he hated more than anything in the world.
"No-one... calls me... Mack Daddy!"
With that, Mack unleashed a left hook that connected right on the jaw of the head biker. He stood no chance. A punch like that would have floored a grizzly bear.
Kevin slowly sat up, in a physically-induced haze to go with his normal mental haze.
"Thanks for that... behind you!"
Mack turned and saw another one of the bikers winding up. He ducked the punch and managed to grab the arm, before using it to fling him to the ground.
However, Mack was overcome by the numbers game, and he soon joined Kevin on the ground, curled up in the foetal position, simply trying to block the blows instead of dishing out their own.
Things were looking very grim.
The Three Js had made up a lot of lost time since they retrieved their key, but now they were being forced to slow down.
Jeffy, who had moved into the back to take care of the recovering Jamie, tapped Joey on the shoulder. "What's with all the traffic?"
"I don't know maybe there was an accident up ahead or something."
As they drove near the accident, Joey saw something that made him worried.
"Hey, isn't that Kevin's car?"
"It is too! Stop the car now!"
Joey stopped the car, narrowly avoiding one of the bikers.
He turned around and shook his fist at the boys. "You nearly ran me over, you idiots! You're going to pay for that now!"
He picked up a crowbar and starting smashing every part of the car he could hit. The Three Js scrambled out of the car to avoid being hit.
Jeffy walked up to him. "What are you doing to my car?"
"What does it look like? Or would you prefer that I do it to you?"
The biker swung the crowbar right into Jeffy's stomach, forcing him to double over in agony. Seeing this, Joey and Jamie ran over and tackled him to try and take the crowbar off of him.
Kevin and Mack took the opportunity to get up and blindside a couple of the other bikers. The numbers had evened up and now it was an all-in brawl that spilled onto the road. Cars were switching lanes and swerving dangerously, trying to avoid the chaos.
In the midst of the fight, Joey pushed one of the bikers into the path of a 1979 Chevrolet Camaro, shattering its windscreen. The driver of the Camaro got out of the car and inspected the damage.
"You stupid man! You've wrecked my windscreen, and now I'm going to wreck you!"
Barch picked up a steering wheel lock and swung it at the biker, hitting him square in the back. O'Neill scurried out of the car and ran for the embankment, picking glass out of his shirt on the way.
"We were in the race too, Mr O'Neill, but then Kevvy and Mack got in a fight. I'm really worried."
O'Neill gave her a hug. "There there
He then started to cry himself.
Brittany, Jodie and O'Neill could only watch from the embankment as Kevin, Mack, Barch, Joey, Jeffy and Jamie fought the biker gang with everything they had. Bodies were flying everywhere.
They stopped fighting when they heard the sounds of approaching sirens. The bikers scrambled to their motorbikes and rode off, except for the head biker.
"We're out of here. You children aren't worth the trouble."
He climbed onto his bike and put on his helmet, wincing slightly as he did up his chinstrap. He turned back to the group.
"But let me just say this. The next time we see your sorry asses around these parts, we're finishing you off."
He took a couple more swings with the chain at Barch's Camaro, putting some more dents in it, before riding off. The police arrived soon after, followed by a tow truck and a flat-back truck.
Barch walked over to O'Neill, Brittany and Jodie. "That stupid asshole will get his. Come on, skinny, let's get back in the car and get to racing."
They got back into the Camaro and tried to start the engine. It was refusing to start, and smoke was starting to pour from underneath.
Barch thumped the steering wheel in frustration. "God dammit! That damn biker will pay for this with his blood!"
"Come on now, Janet, there's no need to..."
"Don't mess with me right now, Timothy. I don't want to hurt you, but I will if you keep pushing me."
"Sorry. I think we should get our stuff and wait for the tow truck."
Barch slowly climbed out of her car and walked around to O'Neill, who gave her a hug. They got their stuff out from the boot and walked over to where the other teams were talking to the police.
"So, I guess that's the end of our race now, isn't it?" said Jodie.
Their attention was distracted by a loud horn. Turning around to the source of the noise, they saw a school bus pulling over to them. It opened its door to reveal DeMartino at the wheel.
"Need a LIFT?"
Brittany, Jodie, Barch and O'Neill ran onto the bus, while the others hobbled on due to their various injuries.
Bennett opened up a first-aid kit and started attending to the various injuries, starting with Mack. "What happened to you guys?"
"Not much, Mrs. Bennett. A car crash, a street fight. You know, another day in the life of an average American teenager."
Meanwhile, O'Neill and Barch took a seat near the front of the bus. Barch looked out the window and, with a tear in her eye, watched her car get hooked up to a tow truck. She wasn't fond of the idea of abandoning it again, but at least HE didn't have it anymore.
"Are you crying, Ms Barch?" asked a concerned Jamie.
"And what if I am, jerk? Are you waiting to take advantage of me or something?"
"Sorry I asked. And my name is Jamie."
Mack looked at his former principal, puzzled. "I wonder why Ms. Li is asleep at 2 in the afternoon?"
"Maybe she's dead."
"Kevin, she's not dead."
"Yeah she is. Look at how her eyes are open and not moving at all."
"And look how she's sitting up. If that's not a sign of deadness I don't know what is."
Li rubbed her eyes and adjusted her glasses. "...I don't know what was in that ice tea, but that messed my head up real good. Oh, hello Mr. Thompson. I trust you are training hard for the new football season, yes?"
Kevin jumped up and tried to climb out the window next to him, but was pulled back by Brittany, Mack and Jodie.
At the front of the bus DeMartino stood up and faced his growing troop of passengers. "If the people behind me could stop FIGHTING for a moment, at this point I would like to advise EVERYONE to buckle up. I'm going to be driving really FAST now."
Kevin started waving his hands, trying to draw DeMartino's attention. "I can't find my seatbelt, Mr. D."
"I'm very much AWARE of the fact that the bus doesn't have any seatbelts, so I meant that in a METAPHORICAL sense. Or couldn't that bi-cellular PILE OF MUSH you call a brain COMPREHEND that?"
"I don't know where you heard that, but I only like girls."
DeMartino mumbled some profanities under his breath and sat down to start the bus up again. He noticed that his chocolate milk sitting on the dashboard was only half finished.
Feeling the jar of stress pills in his pocket, the sinister smile returned to his face.
"Would you like something to drink, KEVIN?"
With the troubles that had befallen a lot of the other
teams, the Sloane siblings were now in the lead of the race for the first time.
The old Jaguar had held up quite nicely, but now they were about to hit trouble
less than 150 miles from
"Great, we're lost!" a frustrated Elsie yelled at her brother.
"We're not lost; we're just taking an unplanned detour."
"Don't lie to me, Tom. We're lost and you know it."
"All right, we're lost. But who are we supposed to ask for directions. That little boy over there?"
Elsie pointed out the window at a little boy playing with a ball out the front of his house.
"May as well. What's the worst that could happen?"
Tom pulled over to the kerb, next to the boy.
"Hey, kid," Tom yelled from the car, "I'll give you five bucks if you can tell us a shortcut to the highway."
The little boy looked up, and walked over to the car. He motioned for Tom to lean over out of the car. He stood on his tip-toes and whispered into Tom's ear. "Twenty."
Tom stopped mid-rant, took a deep breath and calmed down before handing him a 20 dollar note, "All right, here's 20 dollars. But we're in a hurry, please tell us now."
The boy pointed down the road. "Go past the train station, down the hill and through the stream."
"Is it a shallow stream?"
"OK, thank you."
Tom started the car and drove on past the train station and down the hill, stopping at the edge of the stream.
"Do you think this is a good idea, Tom?"
"All I know is that if it does go wrong, it was all your idea."
Tom put his foot on the accelerator and drove into the stream. He breathed a sigh of relief as the wheels landed on solid ground.
Then, suddenly, the solid ground dropped out from underneath them. The stream was more like a lake, and now the car was starting to fill with water.
"What the hell? We're sinking!"
"That little boy screwed us over, Tom!"
He turned around and saw the little boy standing on the top of the hill.
"What's the matter with you, kid?" yelled Tom out the window of his sinking vehicle, "You told me the stream was shallow! Why you..." He said no more words, but instead started laughing maniacally.
Elsie started shaking her fist at the boy. "Oh kid, we'll get even with you. I'll..." The rest of her words simply became bubbles in the water.
The little boy simply smiled and waved at the Sloane siblings, before deciding to go home. He'd had enough fun for one day.
Moments later, Tom and Elsie reappeared on the surface, gasping for breath. Tom looked over at Elsie and smiled.
"I guess we're taking the train now."
Elsie angrily splashed the water in her brother's direction before she started swimming back to shore. Tom followed her.
They made their way up the hill to the train station and
bought two tickets to
Tom and Elsie found two seats in their carriage, but Tom was now stuck sitting next to a crying baby. He tried making funny faces to the baby but only ended up making it worse. In a last-ditch effort to stop the crying, he took the key out of his pocket and started jiggling it.
To his surprise, it actually worked. The baby started laughing and reaching for the key.
Playing with a baby. Nothing can go wrong here.
The I Love Lucy bus was still stranded on the side of the road with a flat tyre, and Andrea was an inconsolable wreck. The Lucys stood around her trying to offer some support.
"Oh, don't feel bad. It's not your fault."
"We'll tell the company. We won't let them fire you."
Andrea looked up. Her Goth makeup was running and her face was red from all the crying. "I'm no bus driver."
"Don't say that."
"No. I'm not. I'm not a bus driver."
"Oh, you mustn't be so hard on yourself."
The head Lucy turned to the others. "Hey, everybody, who's the world's greatest bus driver?"
A loud shout of "Andrea!" rose up from the crowd.
"Listen. Listen. No! No! Shut up, you crazy Lucy bitches! Shut up!"
The Lucys gasped in shock.
"I am not a bus driver! I do not work for the bus company! All right? We needed a ride to
"You're not a real bus driver?"
There was a tense pause as it dawned upon the Lucys what had happened to them.
The head Lucy, whose smile hadn't left her face the entire time, frowned. "You lied to us! You've ruined our whole vacation!"
The Lucys started taking off their shoes and throwing them at Andrea and Upchuck. They ran down the highway as fast as they could.
"We don't ever want to see you or your creepy little pervert friend ever again!"
They kept running until they were out of sight of the Lucys. Andrea stopped and started taking off the bus driver's uniform until she was back down to her grey shirt and black skirt.
"We're well and truly boned now, aren't we Upchuck?"
"Not quite yet, my sweet."
"What do you mean?"
"Look at the sign."
Upchuck pointed up at a wooden sign reading 'Double Cross Ranch'. In the distance, they could see a collection of stables.
"Yeah, what is that supposed to mean?"
"Ever been through the desert on a horse with no name?"
"Well there's a first time for everything, isn't there?"
Daria and Jane continued walking along the highway, having abandoned the psychotic delivery man. Underneath the blazing desert sun, Daria had taken off her green jacket and thrown it over her shoulder, while Jane had done the same with her red shirt, leaving only her black singlet on underneath.
"You know something, Jane?"
"What is it Daria?"
"If we die, I hold you responsible."
"I know. I shouldn't have made you take a ride with a stranger. I guess there's a reason you're supposed to run like hell after you've taken their candy."
"Yeah. But if we do die, I would like to say I'm glad I died with you."
"Right back at you, amiga."
Daria and Jane then looked over to the desert and found something interesting.
"Hmm... an airplane hangar," said Jane, "We can wait for death in the nice cool shade."
They walked over to the hangar and, to their surprise, the large doors were unlocked. Even more surprising, they found a two seat bi-plane inside.
"Daria, I have an idea, but this will probably be the most insane thing either one of us has ever done."
"More insane than that art project we did about anorexia?"
"More insane than you talking me into hitchhiking with the heart guy?"
"More insane than me stealing your boyfriend?"
"When you said this would easily be the most insane thing you've ever done, you weren't kidding!"
Daria and Jane were now flying the bi-plane over the Texan
desert, headed straight for
"Which part, the stealing or the flying of the plane?"
"Both, I guess! How did you learn how to fly one of these things?"
"Flight simulator at the arcade! I used to be quite good at it before I started running! Then I didn't have time for it anymore!"
"Well, considering the fact that this isn't a simulation, I think now might be a better time than any to say... Watch out for that billboard, Jane!"
The plane had drifted so low to the ground, that it was now about to fly into a large Ultra Cola billboard.
Jane pulled to the steering arm towards her to try and lift the plane, but it wasn't enough. The plane crashed through the billboard like a hot knife through butter, amazingly without any major damage.
Jane wiped the sweat and splinters off her forehead. "When I did that on the flight simulator, I went straight through!"
"Good to see some things in video games are accurate comparable to real life."
Tom and Elsie had been on the train for half an hour now, and they starting to get even more anxious. Then, over the intercom, was the message they had been waiting to hear.
Tom's eyes lit up. "
"We made it, Tom! We made it!" Elsie squealed as she jumped up and down in excitement, "You've got the key, right?"
"Of course I d..."
All of the colour drained out of Tom's face as he frantically patted his pockets.
"Please don't tell me you've lost the key."
"I haven't lost the key, I've just misplaced it."
"Enough with your double-talk, Tom, just find it!"
Tom looked under his seat, but found only an old newspaper and used chewing gum.
Then he remembered. That baby was playing with it before. Tom got up and turned around to him.
"Where is the key, little guy?"
No response. Tom wasn't surprised at this; it was only a baby after all.
Then he saw the key. It had fallen between the baby's legs. Tom had no other option; he had to reach down there regardless of how awkward it looked.
This drew the attention of the baby's father. "Excuse me."
Tom didn't hear him. "I think I just touched it, Elsie."
"Get away from him, you pervert!"
"I can feel it, Elsie. It's so small."
"I'm calling the guard!"
Tom finally picked up the key, and proudly displayed it to Elsie. "I have it! I got it!"
The next thing Tom saw was a right fist coming towards his face. It would ensure that he wouldn't be seeing anything else out of his right eye for at least the next week.
The teams were now all within 50 miles of
The Venetian Casino and Resort executive suite was now a
hive of activity, with a frenzy of last-minute betting on who would win the
race. Bets were now reaching multiple millions of dollars, but there was no
clear favourite anymore. Mr. Grisham had just landed
At the back of the room stood Donald Sinclair, the man who had planned it all. He couldn't be happier that his race was coming to such an exciting conclusion.
It was anyone's race to win.
Grisham waited on the front steps of
"There should be two at the other end of the street now," said Sinclair, "Can you see them?"
Grisham turned around and put his hand to his forehead to block out the sun's glare. He saw a black van trundling down the road towards him.
Amazingly, it was The Tank that was the first car in
They were first to the 50 million dollars.
Grisham put his cell phone up to his ear. "I see the rockers, but no one else. I'd say they are the winners."
"Well, what do you know?" Sinclair said happily, "The musicians pulled it off! You've got to love a long shot."
Grisham walked into the school and assumed his position next to Locker 001.
As The Tank pulled up out the front of the high school, Tiffany looked out the window.
"High... land... High... it says the same words twice..."
Quinn could barely contain her excitement. "Oh my God we've won the money!"
Nick put his hand up. "We'll give you enough for a replacement car, but the rest is for us, OK?"
Quinn slowly sat down, her smile all but gone. Stacy had started to cry softly.
He walked up to the front of the school and opened the doors. Right there on his right, were the group of lockers that he needed. He grabbed his key and put it into the keyhole.
Grisham decided that now was the time to greet the winner.
"On behalf of Mr. Donald Sinclair and the Venetian Casino and Resort, I
congratulate... are you all right,
On the other end of the line, Sinclair was a little worried now. "Well, is it over?"
"I don't know how to tell you this, Donald..."
"Tell me what?"
"He's fallen asleep."
Grisham looked around. The Tank was still out the front, but there were no signs of anyone getting out of there any time soon.
There will never be a better opportunity than this.
Treading carefully as to not wake
Inside the bag was the 50 million dollars, comprised of fifties and hundreds just like Sinclair had said.
Grisham slowly zipped the bag back up and threw it over his shoulder.
While he made his way to the back exit of the school, he took his cell phone out of his pocket. Sinclair was still waiting on the line.
"Any changes in status, Grisham?"
"Yes there has.
Both Jake and Helen had fallen asleep on the mental hospital
bus, but woke up to find themselves about to leave
Jake jumped up from his seat. "Hey! Hey! Stop the bus! Stop the bus!"
"We've got to get off!"
Nurse Riggs stopped the bus, but refused to open the door. "People. You know the rules."
"But we're not crazy, lady. We should've bought a squirrel. We didn't buy a squirrel. That's why we took the rocket car. We can still win."
"Open the door, or I'm going to crush you like a cockroach in the night!"
"Better do what she says! She's a lawyer, you know."
Nurse Riggs reluctantly opened the door of the bus.
"All right, you can go. But the
Jake and Helen jumped off the bus and started sprinting back towards the high school.
"Who... is... that?"
It was Tom and Elsie. They were running out of the train station and were now sprinting along side of them.
"You are... not getting... the money, Sloane!" shouted Jake while trying to elbow Tom to the ground, "Your family... already... gets enough... of it... dammit!"
Both teams were stopped in their tracks by a loud whinnying noise. They turned around and saw a horse back behind them. On its back was Upchuck and Andrea.
"Go forth, my valiant stallion," yelled Upchuck as he reared the horse back, "And deliver us to magnificent fortune!"
The Morgendorffers and the Sloanes both turned around and started running again. The school was literally just around the corner and Upchuck and Andrea were right on their tail.
"There... it is! I see... Grisham's car!"
"But what's... that van... doing there?"
"Wait... isn't that
As they all arrived at the school, they got a closer look. Their hearts all sank.
"No! No no no no no no dammit dammit DAMMIT to hell!" Jake screamed as he fell to his knees, pounding the asphalt road.
Upchuck started to cry uncontrollably into Andrea's shoulder. "I sacrificed my damn car for nothing! For NOTHING!"
Elsie threw her sweater to the ground in disgust. "What a fat load of crap this race turned out to be."
The door of The Tank suddenly slid open as Quinn got out of the van.
"Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad. I thought I heard you guys."
"Oh, hi sweetie. Why were you riding
"I was, and don't worry, nothing happened between us and any of the guys."
Jake got off the ground and cracked his knuckles. "You'd better be right; otherwise I'm going to kill them."
Quinn started to examine her parents. "Are you all right? You both look like you've been hit in the face with a hairdryer."
"It is a long, long story, Quinn."
At that moment, Max poked his head out of The Tank. "Hey,
Mrs. Quinn's mom, have you seen
Helen's eyes lit up, but before the thought of going into the school entered her head, the school bus containing Kevin, Brittany, Mack, Jodie, The Three Js, Barch, O'Neill, DeMartino, Bennett, Defoe and Li pulled up to the school.
DeMartino couldn't wait for the door to open, so he kicked out a window and climbed out of it. He started sprinting towards the school but stopped suddenly.
"Great, there are PEOPLE here already! Would I be wrong to assume that the MONEY is already GONE?"
"It's not! We still have a chance!" shouted Helen.
With that, everybody started running towards the front doors of the school, pushing and shoving all the way.
"Out of my way before I take that thing between your legs and wrap it around your neck!"
"Grr... Feis... ow! OW!!!"
"Ow! You're messing up my manicure!"
"Eep! Who pulled my hair?"
No one had actually tried to open the door yet, but Kevin had made his way out of the scrum. He took a few steps back and set himself up for a gridiron-style charge through the pack.
"GO LIONS!" he screamed before putting his head down and running towards the mob. But just as he got to it, it split into two parts.
He barely made a dent in the door.
The ruckus outside eventually woke
Jesse turned around and helped him up off the ground. "
"Uh... no I don't. Sorry."
"Maybe it's still in the locker. Quick, someone open it up!"
He got a hold of the key, turned it and opened the locker door.
"Hey, Daria, did I just hear your father screaming over the noise of the plane engine?"
"I think I heard it too! Should we keep going to the school
or go to the
"As tantalising as becoming part of the X-Men is, I'd prefer the money! Keep going!"
Back at the high school, the racers were beside themselves with every possible emotion. There was no money in the locker. They had come all this way for nothing.
The more emotional racers, like O'Neill and Stacy, were wailing uncontrollably while the more hot-headed racers, like Jake and DeMartino, were throwing anything that wasn't bolted down, and some things that were.
Helen starting banging her fist on a locker to get everyone's attention. "Everybody calm down for a minute!"
Everybody stopped and turned to Helen.
"No, Mrs. Morgendorffer."
"Bandmates, he never came back with it, did he?"
Jesse, Max and Nick shook their heads.
"Was anyone here when you showed up?"
"Yeah, that Grisham guy. But he works for Sinclair, so..."
Then, it hit him.
"Grisham's got the money!"
They ran out the door to find Grisham throwing the money bag into the back of his car, then getting into the driver's seat.
Barch pointed in his direction. "Boys, don't let that man escape!"
The male racers ran down the stairs and surrounded his car. There was no way Grisham could escape. DeMartino grabbed him the collar and dragged him out of the car to the grass. The females circled him there, joined by the male racers.
"What are you going to do to me?"
Jake stepped forward, looking him dead in the eyes.
"Nothing yet. First I would just like to say two words to you. Thank you."
Grisham looked on, confused.
"Thank you for nearly sending me and my wife to our deaths at the behest of a psycho lady and her squirrels. Thank you for forcing my youngest daughter and her friends to run for their lives from a bunch of neo-Nazi scumbags and have all their clothes stolen. And thank you so, so much for losing my eldest daughter and her best friend, right before they were about to go to college and begin their adult lives."
Jake was unnaturally calm, but that scared Grisham more than anything. "Um... um... why are you thanking me?"
"Because after all these years, I have finally found a man that I despise more than my father. The amount of pain that he put me through is nothing compared to what you and your dirtbag boss Sinclair have put all of us through. We have given our blood, our sweat, and our tears and lost tens of thousands of dollars worth of our possessions to take part in this little rat race of yours, and you expect us to just sit back and watch you run off with the money while we get nothing? I don't think so."
Jake grabbed Grisham by his shoulders and lifted him up off the ground.
"But here's what we are going to do. First, my acquaintances
and I are going to eviscerate you with our bare hands. Then when we are done
with you, we are going to bury your sorry carcass so deep in the desert here
that not even the freaking coyotes are ever going to find you. Finally, we're
going to take that nice bag of money you have there in your greedy little hand,
go back to
Jake threw Grisham back down to the ground.
"Just one. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?"
"I'm not falling for that one. Not now. Um... what's wrong with your little friend there, Quinn?"
Quinn looked over at Tiffany. She stood frozen to the spot, pointing at the sky with her mouth wide open.
"That plane is about to crash."
Everyone looked up to see a red bi-plane crash into the
The stunned silence became a combination of relief and confusion as the group saw Daria and Jane climb out of the rubble. Their clothes were torn, Daria's glasses had broken and two of Jane's earrings had been ripped right out of her ear, leaving a bloody wound. Daria was the first to speak.
"Dammit, I demolished the wrong school."
While the others were distracted, Grisham used the opportunity to slip out of the circle and get back into his car. He started the engine and started speeding off down the road.
"Everybody on the bus now!" Helen shouted above the crowd, "We have 50 million dollars to catch!"
Daria and Jane could barely run a decent sprint with their injuries, but they made their way to the bus along with the other racers. DeMartino, the last person on the bus, leaned into Li's ear.
"Angela, WHATEVER you do, do not lose SIGHT of that car. GOT IT?"
Without even bothering to close the bus doors, Li floored the accelerator. DeMartino, who hadn't sat down yet, fell over backwards and rolled towards the back of the bus. Barch struggled to conceal her laughter at this.
Stacy looked around the bus in confusion. "Um... can anyone explain how the horse ended up on the bus?"
She wouldn't get an answer from anyone. The bus was now
speeding its way out of
A new race had just begun.
Back at the Venetian, the high-rollers displayed a wide range of emotions at this new development, seen by virtue of the camera in the school bus.
"It means it's a scratch."
"Do we get our money back?"
Sinclair stood up on a chair and whistled loudly. This caught the attention of everyone around him.
"I'll tell you what it means. It means we're going into extra innings."
This news was met with a mixture of confusion and anger. Claude threw his glass of champagne to the ground, shattering it on the tiled floor.
"I've wagered 10 million dollars on this race, and now you're telling me it's still going?"
"I understand your concern, but this is the only option."
Sinclair got down from the chair and started walking towards the exit. He picked up his cell phone and dialled in a number.
"Carla, call the airport. Tell them to get my other Lear ready."
He hung up and pointed at one of his other assistants.
"Gordon, stay here and watch the board. Tell us where they're going."
Finally, he turned his attention back toward his high-rolling associates.
"Gentlemen, sit back and grab yourselves
another drink. I'm going to
The racers followed Grisham's car for half an hour, and the
sun was starting to set. As they drove past Cowboys Stadium in
"He's turning into the car park! Go, go!" screamed Quinn.
"I can see that, Miss Morgendorffer... What in the name of Winston Smith is THAT?!"
It was the hot-air balloon from The Three Js' misadventure, with Bruce Dalton still in it. It floated down onto the bonnet of Grisham's car, blocking his vision. He started swerving to try and move it, to no avail.
He looked around the front seat to find something, anything, to knock it loose. But the only thing there was the red duffel bag. He picked it up and started swinging it around his windscreen. Just as he finally dislodged the balloon basket, it knocked the bag out of his hand. The money was loose.
Grisham was so concerned with having dropped the money he didn't notice the brick wall that was right in front of him. The car hit it with a sickening crunch, knocking Grisham unconscious.
Li pulled the school bus up next to the wreck and opened the door. Almost immediately, its passengers sprinted over grabbed the duffel bag.
Meanwhile, the hot-air balloon landed hard on the ground, tipping the basket over and sending Bruce tumbling to the asphalt. Seeing this, Jamie ran over to him.
Bruce looked up at him with a sneer. "What do you want?"
Jamie simply swung back his leg and kicked him hard in the stomach.
"My name is Jamie!"
As the racers started picking up the money, personnel started pouring out of the stadium doors.
"What is going on out here? I heard a crash."
"Holy cow look at all this money! This is amazing!"
Before any of them knew what was going on, they were being ushered through the bowels of the stadium.
"Where are you, like, taking us?"
"You have to meet our producer."
"But you don't understand, dammit! We have to get back home!"
"It won't be long. Wait here."
They left the racers at the entrance to what would normally be the playing field, but was set up for some kind of concert, with chairs set up on the field and a large stage constructed at the other end.
At that point, a man with long orange hair and a straggly beard made his way in. "Excuse me, coming through...Claire?"
Defoe rubbed her eyes in disbelief. "David? David Van Driessen?"
"Claire! I haven't seen you in 20 years, man!" he said before giving her a hug and a polite kiss on the cheek, "You still flying your freak flag?"
"Not so much. I actually teach art at a high school up in
"Teaching art in high school? I did
a bit of that in
"One of our best students and her family moved out of town.
Combine that with a couple of other students regularly failing everything, and
"What do you do now?"
"I work for Feed the Earth, and we're holding a big charity concert tonight. We'd love it if you all could make it."
"As much as we'd love to, we can't. Our travel plans are all out of whack and we need to get back home."
Van Driessen then saw someone at the back of the crowd.
"Daria Morgendorffer? Is that really you?"
Daria waved at her former teacher. "Hi, Mr. Van Driessen."
"Wow! You look like a completely different person!"
"Well it's amazing what moving to a new town can do for one's appearance."
Jane elbowed Daria in the ribs. "This guy acts a lot like O'Neill."
"Except unlike O'Neill, he isn't emotionally crippled."
Van Driessen picked up a large green bag and opened it up. "Now I see you guys have a lot of money. While I'm not forcing you to hand any of it over, my organisation would greatly appreciate it if you could donate something."
The racers all looked at each other, then back at Van Driessen. They had finally gotten their hands on the money, and now some guy was asking them to hand it over, just like that.
"Sure, I'll donate."
Jodie stepped forward and put her money in the bag. Tom and Elsie handed theirs over too.
"It's easy for you rich types to step forward," said Andrea, "The Landons and the Sloanes are loaded. What about the rest of us?"
"Don't you see, Andrea? It's easy to be happy with lots of money, but all it means is that you have lots of money. It's doing something like this that makes one truly rich."
"OK... but Upchuck's lost his car. He's actually worse off now."
"I've gone through Kevin's copy of the contract, and it says that Sinclair will reimburse everyone for the cars and other possessions that are lost or damaged during the race. Does anybody actually read these things?"
Helen raised her hand. "I did, but I didn't get to that part."
"I'm surprised she was able to make any of it out considering that it was covered in crayon scribble," said Jane to Daria.
"Everybody will be no worse off as they were at the start of this race, but there will be a lot of people better off through our generosity."
Slowly, the rest of the racers started to nod their heads in agreement, before Andrea stepped forward and handed over her money. One by one, the others all put their share of the money into the bag until only one person was left.
She had managed to grab the bag before they got whisked away and now she was clutching it to her chest like it was a small baby getting fed.
"All these other people can do whatever they want with their share. But this money goes home with me. Period. End of story."
Van Driessen put his money bag down and walked over to Li. "No one is forcing you to hand it over, but only you have to live with the consequences of your decision."
"You don't know me, hippie!"
"Come on, Ms. Li," pleaded
"This is a private matter, Ms. Taylor, and I would appreciate it if you didn't get involved."
Daria turned to Jane. "She's clearly not going to budge on the issue."
"I beg to differ. There is only one thing that Li holds in higher regard than money."
Jane walked up to Li. "Fine. If you won't do it for
yourself, then at least do it for...
She stopped mid-sentence.
I may not be able to get the armed guards I want, but I might have enough for a barbed-wire fence for the football stadium if I cut back the history budget a bit more. But, on the other hand, this could be great publicity for the school, and more importantly me. Publicity would end up bringing in more money.
"You might be onto something there,
She put the last of the money into the bag and arrogantly raised one fist above her head in celebration. The other racers gave her some polite applause.
Van Driessen shook her hand, then the hands of everyone else. "Thank you all so much for your generosity. You have my word that your good deeds will not go unrewarded."
He turned to Defoe. "Sorry we had to meet again under these
strange circumstances. When this is all over, I'll come up and see you in
"I'd like that very much."
Van Driessen took the bags of money and walked back towards the stage.
The racers were now feeling a mixture of emotions as they slowly exited the stadium. They may have not won the money, but they were richer for the experience. They had done a wonderful thing with their money, but they were right back where they started.
"Did you all have fun on my little race?"
The group turned around to find Donald Sinclair standing next to a white stretch limousine. He strutted over to them with a large grin on his face.
"So, who won?"
The group all looked at each other, then back at Sinclair.
Sinclair turned around and started running, but tripped over his own feet. He was quickly circled by the angry racers.
Jake stepped forward, but Helen put an arm out. "Let me handle this one."
"Oh... but I wanted to hurt him. I had my knuckles cracked and everything."
Helen put out a hand and helped Sinclair to his feet.
"I don't think it matters anymore who won the race. The money is gone. We donated it to Feed the Earth."
"Great, now I have to return all the bets placed on the race."
Helen, who was already angry, glared a metaphorical hole right through Sinclair.
"I shouldn't have said that, should I?"
Jake lunged at Sinclair and tackled him to the ground. "I'LL KILL YOU! I crashed my car because of your stupid race! You nearly killed my family!"
He suddenly jumped up, clutching at his face. "My eye! Dammit, I've burst a blood vessel!"
As Defoe, O'Neill and DeMartino attended to Jake, Helen picked Sinclair up off the ground again.
"Mr. Sinclair, you'll be hearing from my lawyer. Oh wait, I AM the lawyer!"
"But I haven't actually done anything wrong here. All I was doing was mediating wagers between my various associates and business partners. And besides, you signed the waivers."
He had her there. They did indeed sign waivers absolving Sinclair of any responsibility for anything that happened during the race.
"While that is true, you forgot about one little clause."
Sinclair started to sweat. "And what clause is that, Mrs. Morgendorffer?"
"Section 18.1. This contract is declared null and void in the case of any attempt to ensure a fixed outcome, or to sabotage a participant, by an employee of Sinclair Industries. Your little lapdog Grisham tried to do a runner with our money, and any decent and just court around the world would declare that to be an act of sabotage. The contracts we signed are now not even worth the paper they're written on."
"So, what happens now?"
"Oh I don't know. Maybe you'll have criminal charges slapped upon you. Perhaps you'll be charged with organising an unsanctioned cross-country race? What about negligence occasioning grievous bodily harm? Does that sound good to you?"
"Maybe we can make some kind of settlement."
Helen turned to Daria, who gave a subtle nod.
"We're willing to negotiate."
"OK, what would you like?"
"50 million dollars."
"I can do that."
Sinclair's eyes nearly popped completely out of his head.
"WHAT? I can't do that! I'll be bankrupt!"
"Fine by us. Just do us one favour when you get to jail."
"What is it?"
"Tell Bubba in the shower we said hi."
Helen turned around and started to lead everyone away to the bus. Sinclair sighed.
I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't. May as well cut my losses and stay out of prison.
"All right, all right. I presume you're all taking cheques?"
One by one, he signed each racer a cheque for 50 million dollars.
Sandi, the last person to get their cheque looked through the car park, and found a hot pink hatch sitting proud in a spot right next to the stadium entrance. She walked over to Upchuck.
"Charles, can I, like, borrow your horse for a minute?"
"It's not my horse, but you can do whatever you want with it. Same applies to me by the way. Grr..."
Sandi didn't even try to hide her disgust as she walked onto the bus and grabbed the straps of the horse.
This will fix their wagon good.
She walked the horse over to their car and turned it around so that its rear was facing their car.
The horse lifted the tail. Sandi smiled. Never had something so disgusting, made her so happy.
"Sandi! We're going to the airport now!"
"I'm coming, Quinn!"
She walked the horse over to a nearby stagehand. "Can you, like, take this lost horse and give it to a good home or something?"
Without even waiting for a response, Sandi ran back onto the bus to meet back up with her fellow racers. It was almost over.
The flight from
"...all the things I would do, if I had a little money... it's a rich man's world!"
Jake, wearing a medical eye patch, was leading Helen and the Lawndale High faculty in a rousing rendition of ABBA's "Money, Money, Money". The Fashion Club girls, The Three Js and Mystik Spiral were all cracking jokes with each other and generally having a great time. Kevin and Brittany sat cuddled up asleep in the row in front of her, as were Mack and Jodie. Nobody had any idea where Upchuck and Andrea were, but there were the occasional noises coming from the bathroom.
And in two seats at the back of the plane, sat Daria and Jane. Jane had her head wrapped with bandages to protect her wounded ear, while Daria's glasses were still broken, forcing her to wear Li's spare pair. Luckily for her, they were good enough for short distances.
"You know something, Daria? I almost feel sorry for Donald Sinclair."
"Then you remembered he was playing us all like a madman's kazoo?"
Jane got up from her seat. "I'm going on a cola run. You want one, Daria?"
"Sure, one last drink of the common people's beverage before I switch exclusively to champagne couldn't hurt."
Daria sat back in her chair and watched Jane walk up the aisle to the fridge near the front of the plane. She looked around at the people in front of her and a smile appeared on her face. Despite their different backgrounds and lifestyles, they now shared this one amazing adventure as something that would unite them together for all time.
"Hey, Daria. I like your new glasses."
Daria jumped, startled at the sudden appearance of Tom and Elsie. Tom's right eye had swollen up to the point that his eye wasn't visible because of the swelling.
"Oh, hey guys. They're not mine."
"Then whose are they, then?" asked Elsie.
"My ex-fearless leader, of course," replied Daria, pointing over to Li, "Take a seat."
Tom sat in the seat next to Daria, while Elsie sat next to Tom.
"So, what other bizarre events happened on your side of the race?" said Tom.
"Not much. Some guy tried to rip my heart out of my chest and we crashed an antique bi-plane into my old high school. In the end, a good day was had by all. You?"
"Well, I may or may not be facing child molestation charges, but on the plus side I finally got rid of the old rust box. It's resting on the bottom of some lake now."
Elsie laughed. "I was hoping to see it crushed into a cube myself, but hey, you can't get everything."
"Well, you could probably afford to buy a car just for that purpose now."
"Hey! Don't steal my art ideas!"
Jane had come back with the colas, and handed one to Daria. "Did you offer our guests a drink?"
"No, we're fine thank you."
Jane sat down next to Daria and opened up her can. "So, we
"Just make sure you keep it under your hat at Boston Fine Arts College. You'll be kicked out for being too rich."
"Hey, if worse comes to worse, I can always apply for Bromwell. Ain't that right, Tom?"
"I'm staying out of this if it's OK with you guys. Any conversation between you two about me always ends up with pistols at dawn."
All of them laughed.
"Seriously though, Tom, not even one week ago, I was preparing
for college. In fact, when I get back to
"The only difference now is that you no longer need to save
up for the
Daria paused for a moment. "It'll be there for when I need it."
Their conversation was interrupted by the voice of the pilot over the intercom. "Attention passengers, flight 096 is about to begin making its final approach to Baltimore International. I advise everyone to prepare for landing. I hope you all have had a pleasant flight."
Jane got up from her seat again. "Daria, come up to the front with me for a minute."
"I just need to say a few things."
"Sounds like I don't have a choice."
Jane went back up the aisle, with Daria half-heartedly following suit. Jane picked up the in-cabin microphone and turned it on.
"I would like to say a few words here on behalf of myself and Daria."
The unexpected loudness of the microphone woke
She grabbed the microphone from Jane. "This woman does not necessarily represent me or my views."
She handed it back to Jane, who started her speech. "I've lived
The last comment drew heavy laughter from the others. Jane put her hand up, motioning that she was still going.
"But more importantly, this race has shown us the value of all these people around you, and that there is more to us than what is visible on the outside. I see fashionistas and slacker musicians conversing with no regard for established social boundaries. I see families, friends and co-workers forging bonds that may never be broken. I see... a couple of people who weren't in the race. How'd you get on here, Shaggy?"
In a row of seats near the back of the plane sat Dewey 'Shaggy' Rogers, Jennifer 'Burnout' Burns and Scarlett LeFaye.
"Us? We were going to the concert at Cowboys Stadium, but saw you lot picking a fight with a billionaire instead."
"So we walked over to see what the fuss was about," continued Scarlett, "And then he hands us each a cheque for 50 million dollars!"
"I wasn't even supposed to be going," said Burnout, "But now I'm set for life."
Jane folded her arms in mock disgust. "Isn't that just awesome? We do all the hard work, while you just waltz in and make off with the cash at the last minute."
"It is awesome! Life has finally thrown the spotlight our way."
Helen stood up from her seat. "That's good and all, but Jane, can you hurry up and please finish your speech?"
"Can do. Anyway, we're all carrying injuries. But whether those injuries are to our body, our mind or our ego, this result has made it all worthwhile. In the beginning, this race tore a town apart. At the end, it brought it together. And for that, I would like to propose a toast."
The other passengers slowly raised their glasses of champagne, bottles of beer and cans of cola, while Jane put an arm around Daria's shoulder.
"To us, the magnificent bastards who took
on the ravages of
A thunderous cheer rose up from the other passengers in response. The madness was over.
The plane would soon begin making its final descent into
When they wake up, it will be the first day of the rest of their lives.
EPILOGUE – 3 YEARS LATER
- Daria Morgendorffer attended and graduated from
- Jane Lane attended and graduated from Boston Fine
Arts College with flying colours, majoring in both Abstract Arts and Sculpture
Arts. After her graduation, she gave the family home to her brother Wind and
moved to a brand new house in
- Jake Morgendorffer still works from home as a
freelance financial consultant, but spends a lot more time on his cooking. In
2001, he flew over to
- Helen Morgendorffer quit her job at the Vitale, Davis, Horowitz, Riordan, Schrecter, Schrecter and Schrecter law firm in a blaze of glory, dragging Eric Schrecter around the office in a headlock and playing his head like a bongo drum. Like Jake, she works from home, but as a freelance legal consultant. She has spent the last few months trying to make peace with her estranged sisters. Amy Barksdale accepted the olive branch without hesitation, while Rita Barksdale-Meyerson has yet to respond.
- Trent Lane, Jesse Moreno, Nick Campbell
and Max Tyler financed the self-release of their first Mystik Spiral
album in 2000. Despite critical acclaim, Helpful Corn would not reach great heights
- Quinn Morgendorffer switched schools, moving from
Lawndale High to the prestigious
- Sandi Griffin also graduated from Fielding, but
unlike Quinn, struggled with her grades. Still, she made it into
- Stacy Rowe graduated from Fielding with surprisingly good grades, but opted out of college for the short term to work at her uncle's mechanical workshop in Leeville, while doing some sprint-car racing on the side for Rowe Custom Automotive, a team operated by her father. They are currently preparing for an attempt at the 2002 Daytona 500, with Stacy behind the wheel. Despite never having raced in NASCAR before, her status as a young female driver with model good looks has already led to her becoming one of the most popular drivers in the series.
- Tiffany Blum-Deckler only just graduated from
Fielding, but was unable to qualify for a college. Not that she was worried, as
she decided to go into a career as a lingerie model, a career where intellect
is optional. By 2001, Tiffany had already appeared on many of the world's most
famous catwalks, like
- Kevin Thompson stayed on at Lawndale High having
been held back, but still helped to take the Lions to their first state
championship since the days of Tommy Sherman. He is currently the back-up
- Brittany Taylor attended
- Michael 'Mack' Mackenzie attended and graduated
- Jodie Landon attended
- Joey Black, Jeff 'Jeffy' Grey and Jamie
White all stayed on at Lawndale High as part of the championship-winning
Lions team. However, their grades weren't good enough for college, so they
decided to spend the rest of their days as swinging bachelors. They can often
be seen at various trendy
- Charles 'Upchuck' Ruttheimer, III attended and
- Andrea Hecuba-Thorne attended
- Timothy O'Neill stayed on as Language Arts teacher until the closure of Lawndale High in 2000. He would go on to marry Barch that winter and enter a new occupation as a grief counsellor. His naïve optimism has proved to be a blessing for those seeking his services.
- Janet Barch retired from teaching and married O'Neill in the winter of 2000. Finding unemployment to be a bit boring, she went for something a little bit outside the square... professional wrestling. By early 2002, her aggressive style and willingness to take it to the men leaves her as one of the most popular female wrestlers in the world.
- Anthony DeMartino retired from teaching as soon as
he arrived back in
- Diane Bennett continued as economics teacher at Lawndale High until the closure of the school in 2000. Her economic diagrams were later bought by the Baltimore Ravens, who adapted them as attacking plays on their way to their victory at Super Bowl XXXV. She now serves as their offensive co-ordinator.
- Claire Defoe stayed on as art teacher until the
closure of Lawndale High. David Van Driessen would keep his word and visit her
- Angela Li stayed on as principal of Lawndale High until she made the decision to turn the school into a jail, a controversial decision that left local students without a school and teachers without a job. Satisfying her ego with the near unlimited power, she served as the warden for 6 months until she was arrested for tax evasion. She is now serving 15 years behind bars, ironically in the prison she built.
- Tom Sloane attended and graduated from
- Elsie Sloane would graduate from Fielding as the valedictorian for her class and move on to Bromwell. In 2001 she joined her brother Tom as part of the SRS syndicate involved in the purchase of the Venetian, despite still only being in college. When she graduates from Bromwell, she is expected to head the resort division of the company.
- Dewey 'Shaggy' Rogers, Jennifer 'Burnout' Burns and Scarlett LeFaye all attended and graduated from Raft College, before using their money to finance a dream holiday to Europe. Along the way, they would confront soccer hooligans, street-fighting robots, middle-aged nudists, Dutch dominatrixes and one particularly amorous Italian man. Somehow along the way Shaggy was also briefly named the new Pope, but that's a story for another day.
- Donald Sinclair
went bankrupt as a result of the settlement with the
This billionaire was brought down by a street racing fetish he couldn't control. Crashing the wheels of fortune, next on Sick, Sad World!
"The Cannonball Run"
Directed by Hal Needham
Written by Brock Yates
(c) 1981 Golden Harvest/20th Century Fox
Directed by Jeff Schaffer
Written by Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer
(c) 2004 DreamWorks
"It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"
Written by William Rose and Tania Rose
(c) 1963 United Artists
Directed by Jerry Zucker
Written by Andy Breckman
(c) 2001 Fireworks Pictures/Paramount Pictures
"Money, Money, Money"
Performed by ABBA
From the album "Arrival"
(c) 1976 Polar/PolyGram/Universal Music
The names Brooke Watkins, Dewey 'Shaggy' Rogers, Jennifer 'Burnout' Burns, Scarlett LeFaye and Tori Jericho originate from fics written by authors other than myself. No harm was intended by my use of these names.
All pre-existing Daria and Beavis and Butt-head characters, locations and products are trademarks of MTV Networks and Viacom International. All other pre-existing characters, locations and products are trademarks of their respective copyright holders. All other characters, locations and products were created by me and are completely fictional. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, by any of my fictional characters is unintentional and purely coincidental. This parody of Daria is copyright (c) 2010-2011 by The Excellent S and was written with no intentions for future profit. This parody was written for www.outpost-daria.com and may not be redistributed or reposted on any other website without the permission of the author.
Special thanks to Martin Pollard for hosting this story at his website and to cfardell_Brenorenz29, Charles RB, Dark Kuno, Ixmythot, Jim North, Kristen Bealer, LadieT and malakite at The Paperpusher's Message Board for their feedback. Super-special thanks to those who nominated this story for the 2010 Daria Fanworks Awards!
If you would like to send some feedback and questions about this or any of my other Daria projects, please contact me at the PPMB.
NO REGION 4 DARIA DVD SET, NO PEACE
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