Text ©2003 Roger E. Moore (email@example.com)
Daria and associated characters are ©2003 MTV Networks
Feedback (good, bad, indifferent, just want to bother me, whatever) is appreciated. Please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Synopsis: Dinnertime visitors at the Morgendorffer home prove that Jake was right about one thing after all.
Author’s Notes: This story works best as a “third-season” tale for reasons that will become all too clear. The reader is assumed to have a working knowledge of the major characters from the “Daria” series, so personal introductions are not given in the story.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to everyone on PPMB who read this and suggested that I might need professional help.
“Jane, I’m so glad you could stay over and have dinner with us tonight!” Helen said brightly as she brought the dish of freshly microwaved leftover pasta to the dinner table. “With the deal Jake got on frozen lasagna from his last client, we’ve got plenty for weeks to come!”
“Yes,” said Daria in a mournful deadpan. “Aren’t we the lucky ones.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Morgendorffer,” Jane replied, eyeing the steaming lasagna with visible unease. “I’ll see if I can return the favor and have all of you over one night, once I can get back into my house.”
“And learn to cook,” Daria mumbled, then suddenly jumped and cried, “Ouch!”
“Sorry,” Jane mumbled back. “Didn’t know that was your foot.”
“So, will it be long before it’s safe to go in your house again?” Quinn asked, trying not to look at the bubbling meal, “or am I gaining a new sister?”
“A new sister, no,” said Jane, stifling a cough. “The pest control man said the house would be fine tomorrow night, after the bug bombs and rodent bombs and mutant slime bombs have cleared everything out. When Trent gets back from the Mystik Spiral tour, I’ll have a few words with him about not taking out the garbage for two months.”
“Mutant slime, ewww!” Quinn looked down at the lasagna and shivered. “Mom, where’s Dad?”
“Oh, that man. He’s puttering with something in the garage. Daria, would you tell him dinner’s ready?”
“I think he knows,” said Daria. “That’s why he’s in the garage.”
“Daria, stop that! Go find your father.”
Daria sighed and was leaving the kitchen when the doorbell rang. “I’ll get it,” she called on her way out. “It might be someone selling food.”
Helen rolled her eyes and looked apologetically at Jane. “I don’t know what gets into her sometimes,” she said.
“I don’t know what gets into her, either,” said Jane, staring at the lasagna with dread.
“I mean, honestly,” said Helen, “do you ever talk to your parents the way Daria talks to us?”
“No,” said Jane, “but then again, my parents are almost never home.”
They heard the front door open, followed by a long silence.
“Who is it, Daria?” Helen called.
After a pause, Daria called back—in a strained voice—“It’s a squirrel.”
“Does it have any food?” Quinn called.
“Quinn!” Helen snapped.
“Nooooo,” said Daria softly. She appeared in the kitchen doorway, her arms raised above her head, palms facing forward. Her face held the greatest look of surprise anyone could ever remember seeing on her. “He has a gun,” she said.
“Daria!” said Helen, standing up. “This has gone far enough!” She walked over to have further words with her eldest daughter—but stopped in her tracks once her gaze dropped to the level of Daria’s boots.
“If no one moves, no one gets hurt!” cried the squirrel with the gun.
“Yeah!” squeaked the squirrel behind it, who also had a gun. “No one gets hurt!” The little squirrels then giggled hysterically. Their fast, high-pitched voices sounded exactly like those of the Disney Channel’s Chip and Dale.
“Oh, my God, they can talk!” cried Quinn, her eyes the size of teacup saucers. “And they have guns!”
“Well, duh-UH!” said the first squirrel with a glare, shaking its pistol wildly. “Does this look like a walnut, Carrot Top?”
“Back to business!” cried the other squirrel, pointing its little pistol at Helen. “You are now our prisoners! We’re taking over this property in retail . . . in reta . . . damn it!” The squirrel stamped its foot rapidly in frustration. “What’s the word?”
“Retaliation,” whispered the first squirrel.
“In retaliation for your chemical weapons attack on our primary food-storage depot and command bunker!” cried the second squirrel in triumph. “You humans will be punished for your—”
“Food-storage depot?” Jane said in astonishment. “Hey, are you the dirty little rodents that were running around in our attic for the last two months, keeping me awake at night and eating out of the garbage Trent didn’t take out?”
“Silence, human!” cried the second squirrel. “First of all, we’re not really rodents, and—”
“Yes, you are,” said Daria, her mouth dry.
“No, we’re not!” screamed the squirrel. “Silence! Second, we’re actually quite clean, all things considered! Third, I’m not done with my speech yet. Damn it, now I can’t remember where I was!” The squirrel hammered its foot against the floor like a high-speed stapler. “Damn it damn it damn it damn it damn it damn it damn—”
“ ‘You humans will be punished,’ ” Daria prompted.
“Ah! Thanks! Yes, you humans will be punished for your insolence and your . . . your . . . crap! What’s the word I’m looking for?”
“Arrogance,” came a new, deep, commanding voice.
Everyone turned to look at the kitchen doorway.
Jake Morgendorffer came in the kitchen with the largest two-handed science-fiction movie-prop thermonuclear blast rifle anyone had ever dreamed existed. He held it aimed down at the two squirrels with a dark expression. “Bucktooth and Nutkin. I should have known. Was ‘arrogance’ the word you were looking for?”
“By the Great World Oak!” shrieked the first squirrel. “It’s the Jakeinator!”
“The Scourge of Lawndale, the Cage Master!” cried the other squirrel, equally panicked. “He escaped our death trap!”
“Jake?” Helen gasped.
“Dad?” Daria gasped.
“Daddy?” Quinn gasped.
“Can I get my camera?” Jane said getting up from the table. “It’s in my backpack, I’ll only be a second.”
Jake laughed. “Do you have any idea of how funny you looked when you saw me walk in?” he asked the squirrels.
The second squirrel frowned and waved its pistol at Jake. “You will not display such arrogance—thank you for the word—later tonight when the Grand Prince of Acorns has you helpless under his left hind foot!”
“The Grand Prince of Acorns, eh?” Jake said with an easy grin. “The Big Brazil Nut himself?”
“Do not speak insolently of the Bright-eyed and Bushy-tailed One!” yelled the second squirrel. “You are not fit to clean his den!”
Jake smirked. No one had ever seen him smirk before. “The Great Flying One hibernates with the angels now,” he said flatly.
“Aieeee!” screamed the first squirrel in horror. “Say it is not so!”
“I know about your arsenal under our garage, the one you had ready for Operation Nuthouse,” said Jake in a dangerous tone. Then he grinned. “And your Grand Prince just had a meeting with Lawndale Pest Control about ten minutes ago at the Guptys. He was, ah, forced into early retirement.”
A stunned silence followed.
“Jake, darling,” said Helen, looking dazed. “All this time when you were raving on and on about squirrels, I thought—I thought you were—oh, please forgive me!” She was on the verge of tears.
“It’s all right, Helen,” Jake said softly. “I had to play crazy. I couldn’t let you or the kids know what was really going on. It was too dangerous.” His gaze fell to the wide-eyed squirrels, and his brow furrowed. “Your cause is lost,” he told them.
“Wrong! You lose, son of the accursed Mad Dog!” screeched the first squirrel. It grabbed the laces on Daria’s right boot and aimed its pistol at her ankle. “Your primary offspring is now my hostage! Lower your tail now, and maybe we’ll go easy on you!”
“Don’t look up my skirt,” Daria warned.
“Jiminy Cricket!” screeched the squirrel. “Do I look like a pervert?”
“I have a counterproposal,” said Jake. His finger visibly tightened on the trigger of his thermonuclear blast rifle. The squirrels’ fur turned pale with fright. “You lay down your weapons, get out of Lawndale forever, and I let you live.” His grin returned. “But if you ever come back . . .”
The thermonuclear blast rifle moved an inch closer to the squirrel by Daria’s boot.
“You will have only seconds in which to regret it,” Jake whispered.
Silence reigned for an infinitely long moment.
“Really,” said Jane, “if I could just find my backpack and get my camera, I’d—”
“There’s been a terrible misunderstanding!” squeaked the squirrel by Daria’s boot. It carefully laid its pistol on the kitchen floor and fell facedown on the floor, its tail lowered. “I can explain everything!”
“It was all his fault!” shrieked the other squirrel, pointing to the first one as it laid its own pistol down and fell flat, too. “He made me do this!”
“Shut up!” shrieked the first squirrel. “You’re the Master Imperial Vizier! I’m only the General-Marshall of the Armies!”
“He pulled fur out of my tail until I agree to go along with—”
“But you were going to—”
“Get the hell out of my home and my city,” interrupted Jake, his teeth clenched.
The squirrels shot out of the kitchen like blurs on amphetamines. Everyone heard the front door slam shut a second later.
Jake sighed and lowered his thermonuclear blast rifle, setting it against a cabinet. He ran a tired hand through his hair and looked up at his family.
“Well,” he said with a relieved smile. “Dinner ready?”
Comedy, alternate history/science fiction