Note and Disclaimer: My first bit of fan-fiction ever. Apologies to Richard Kelly, if he happens to feel partial to others toying with his characters. Being an original author myself, I well know the feeling. But to me, this was just begging to be, so I brought it into being.
A Life of Limbo
"It's gonna happen again. It's gonna happen again, and when it does, it's gonna be bad. Really bad. More... more bad than it ever was before."
"How bad, Donnie?"
In this hypnotic state, a shade of Mr. Darko, the once controversial youth, continues to rock to and fro against the short-pile carpet. His psychiatrist repeats the question.
"What's going to happen again, Donnie?"
"It's gonna happen again."
Middlesex, Virginia. The year, 2003. Mr. Darko saunters along the sidewalk, exchanging random glances with a few passersby, taking quick peeks into the store windows. His hands shoved deep within his pockets, he leans against a particular stand and notes a headline:
UFO EXPLODES OVER WASHINGTON, D.C.!
CHRIST CHILD CLONED!
"The end of the world," he sighs. "As always. All over again."
Continuing along the path which has been predetermined, he passes the throngs of individuals clustered about the newsstands paying little mind. He's seen a lot in his thirty-three years of existence, and none of it has seemed to surprise him terribly much. Given the path that he was, well, given, there wasn't much that he could do about it.
He enjoys these walks, however. They allow him to collect his thoughts. Arrange the myriad of possibilities continually swimming within his mind. He also enjoys the frequent naps upon the old golf course -- not to say that the golfers do. But he just laughs. Occasionally, he walks down his street, looks into the windows of the house which held his greatest dreams and nightmares. He's often run off by the woman who used to be his mother; he's been threatened a few times by the man who was once his father, and been cast odd glances by the strong-willed woman that was once his sister. He vows to torch that damned paedophile's house -- with his bullshit guides for living, and contrived hypocrisy. It isn't that he's lazy, he just finds that it just isn't worth it.
Something changed after the collision, the explosion -- the impalement. Death. Something changed. He did. Perhaps it was death itself? Nah, he couldn't even remember it. No tunnels, no angels. No bright light, no silver stair. He remembered faintly the strange sense of disconnectedness as the information from his brain was refused transport through the rest of his body. And his final heartbeat. It resonated. He found this curious, so he smiled. Today he wonders how that must've looked in the coroner's report. Damned odd, they must be thinking. Strange kid. Strange life. Something not right in the head -- that must be what they're thinking right now.
Donnie's now isn't the now that is existent in the now that was. The now that is. See, in that now, Roberta is still checking her mailbox. One of these days, she'll finally find a letter. He often wonders what she might do with it, but there isn't any way to know. His time is not that time any longer -- although, it is. Connected by a great spiral, he exists outside of his previous existence. He is a complete, singular copy of the person that he was -- of the, collection of energy, of particles, of matter that he was. Or was it waves? Now, he wishes he really hadn't loaned out that book to that kid. But he reminded him of him somehow. With a lot less... sadness.
He'd always been marked by sadness; by tragedy. Since birth, he'd felt an impending doom overtake him. By mid-adolescence, that darkness loomed over and about him, permeating his very soul, his very existence. He felt imbued with an arcane knowledge that even he couldn't understand. It was terrible, it felt useless. God, he hated feeling useless. All of that life-phase, he felt useless. Now, he was useful.
Gretchen brings in her own mail now. As he passes, he gives the same familiar grin that he always does, and she always responds with the same curious glance. It's a knowing glance, and he can't help but smile -- that same knowing smile that he'd been made out as such an enigma for. For years, it plagued not only him but the society around him. It too, was useless. A facet of meaninglessness. But now, it was different. Now, he knew. Today, she stops briefly, dropping a few pieces of junkmail, snarling under her breath and picking the strands of hair from her mouth as the wind competes with her actions. She's really beautiful; but he always knew that. He's as confident in his decision today -- as always. Despite what's to come.
He turns back suddenly, half-frozen in the position on the sidewalk he silently notes as their exact point of space-time of meeting. Correlation? Significance? Possibly random. He smiles. Nothing is random; not really. "Hey."
"Why do you always do that?"
Hasn't changed much. Still inquisitive. Good.
"Smile. You always smile. It's like... you know something."
"Maybe I do."
She grins. "You're crazy." She catches her breath. "Sorry, that... I have a habit of being a little... forward."
"How would you know?"
He smiles. "I just do."
"You're really weird."
"Thank you." Might as well do it right this time.
It sustains his confidence. "You been here long?"
"All my life," she sighs. "But I hate it."
"Then why do you stay?"
The mail in her arms, and the lace from her windbreaker flapping lightly against her chin. "I dunno. I guess I just feel... like I'm stuck here. I mean, why shouldn't I be? I've got a job, I can pay the bills. Why should I bitch?"
"It's just that..." Her eyes focus upon his. "You ever get the feeling that there's something more out there? Something you feel at your fingertips, but you can't grasp it?"
Improper thoughts invade his mind and senses. Fingertips, and skin. Warmth, and motion. Touch, taste, sight, smell, and sound. He longs for it, even now. Hell, even now, what? Ever since, he has. But things are different now. Different, and the same.
"God," she interjects. "I'm so sorry." His thoughts scatter.
"I must sound certifiable."
"Oh, don't worry. I used to be."
She laughs. But it isn't really that funny. "What?"
"Well, you're not serious."
"Oh, completely. But I'm over it now."
Hmm. That might be termed sychronicitous. Better keep a look out. Watch the sky; feel the breeze. Watch the trees...
"Don't you work at the school?"
"Hmm?" His mind having wandered, he turns back to her. "Oh, oh, yeah. Physics department."
"Physics." She laughs. "Like the way they try to tell us the world works, although almost none of us really believe it. I mean, look at all the crazy shit that goes on. Sorry, does this bother you?"
"No, not at all." He grins, folding his arms a bit. He still has time. Class doesn't start for another hour, anyway.
"It's just that... everyday, it's the same thing. You walk down the street, I get my mail, I see you, you see me... god, I feel like you know me by now. Like I know you..." She pauses, flustered. "And it's not because of this... weird routine that somehow developed, it's... god, I don't know. It's really strange. I..." She laughs a bit to herself, clearly embarassed. She shoves a bit of chestnut hair behind her ear. "I've got work in ten. I should go." She pauses. "I guess... do you like coffee? No."
"No, nevermind... just... nevermind."
"Gretchen," he laughs, looking briefly down to the sidewalk for a moment. His eyes catch the very same crack in the pavement, too. "Let's go get some coffee."
She eyes him with curiosity before turning back to the house, giving him a slow, methodical, yet strangely superficial once-over, biting her lip while doing so, in thought, (he always loved that about her) and finally...
"Okay. Sure. Before work. I'm gonna go get ready." She stops. "Wait... who the hell are you, anyway?"
"Right. Donald." She laughs a bit.
"Okay, Don. Maybe Donnie, but..."
"Donnie Darko?" She laughs. "What kind of name is that?"
He grins. "A very strange one."
"Yeah. For an equally strange guy, I'll bet." She casts a final glance to the doorway. "Okay. I'll grab my keys."
She pauses, uncertainly. "For my house? I'm leaving? To get coffee? Then go to work?"
"But you aren't going to come home."
This news is definitely unexpected, and a bit unsettling. "Whoa, wait a minute, Mr. Darko, what the hell are you talking about?"
"Simple. You won't be coming home."
"Why the hell not?"
He's always loved this about Gretchen -- the girl who invented her own name, and apparently still used it to distinguish her from the past she refuses to admit she harbours. She was never exactly fearless, but she was willing to get to the bottom of something. And she was far from helpless. Still seems to be. Now, she is in a warrior's stance, although she's barely moved. Her eyes have narrowed, and she casts a kind of glare that he reflects might have come from the same origin in which the one which saw the blood of her own mother might have been borne. He doesn't want to chance toying with this side of her. And he sure as hell doesn't mean to scare her.
"There won't be anything to come back to?"
"Excuse me? Is this some kind of joke?"
He pauses, collecting his words. "Okay, how to put this across in a way that you'll... understand better..."
"Yeah, try. Try real hard, please."
"Okay. I have enough of a background to know what I'm talking about here, although it's entirely theoretical."
"The sky is going to open back up --"
"Whoa. Hang on. Open back up?"
"Just a minute."
"No, I will not wait just a minute. What the hell are you saying? Are you sick in the head?"
He sighs. This doesn't seem to be going as he'd hoped. Although it had to be going as planned, so he just set along for the ride. Like always.
"Gretchen, listen to me. The sky is going to open up once more. But it'll be different this time. Nobody's going to realize it. Yes, you'll be going home, but you won't be going back home to where you think you're going."
She stands silent. "That makes absolutely no sense."
"I know." He runs a hand through his dark hair, still a bit mussed -- remnants of his once boyish appearance which had developed into the careless, yet charming presence as an adult. "I... look --"
"No, I will not look. Make sense, or don't." She folds her arms.
Damned stubborn. "Okay, look. We don't exist in a world of a single dimension. There are lots and lots of them -- people walk in and out of them everyday and they don't even realize it! They walk out of the past and into the future, and vice versa. It's crazy, but it's true. But sometimes -- people do notice. I mean, they'd have to notice. If we stay here, you could end up in... I dunno, the stone-age with... dinosaurs. Or something."
Gretchen clacks her tongue against her teeth, rolls her eyes, and turns on her heel. "No, Darko, you know what? You're still certifiable."
This was wrong. To his right, he saw the path of intent clearly continuing down the walk, just as he had been following originally. Just like always. Go where it goes. Afterall, it had saved his ass numerous times. He figured it would do the same. And he didn't need Frank to clue him into it, because this time, he knew.
But this time, he also seemed to know something different. His desire to pull from his intended path was too great. Something that had not been present in him as a child now raged within him as an adult. Pragmatism. He was no longer willing to be puppet to something that very well might save him. Again. Why?
What about her?
Maybe this was the way it was supposed to be for his existence. Maybe they had some kind of quantum chain of events which linked their individual paths of intent that allowed sychronicitous events to link them, regardless of the outcome. Maybe he was placed time and again into this sort of position to react similarly -- or would be. The difference was, he just followed along then. Go, save Gretchen, come back, die. Well, or "die", rather. Leave, in any case. It wasn't that he didn't have a genuine desire to bring her back through the continuum -- he did, it's just that -- that was her intent. Her intent led her to him, which led her to the cliff, which led them both to the event, and thus it continued through the continuum. Now, he realizes that not everyone's path will lead them through it; and perhaps, that's a good thing. But his did. So did hers. But now? Now was going to be really interesting.
Her path led her back toward the house, and in this micro-second's worth of time between his lengthy thought process and actions, it continued through the door, into the house, etcetera. His, likewise, down the walk, toward the school, etcetera.
Would this break everything? Would his portrait of existence crash to the ground? Would he wake up a lizard on a rock, having dreamt of life-phases as a man? Did lizards sleep? Wait -- that wasn't important; for the analysis, yes -- for the present -- no. Well, the present as they knew it. It was equally non-viable for the past and future. But would he be willing to take that chance?
He watches the strange, liquid-like form continue toward its destination.
He reaches out and grabs her arm. "What the? I'll scream!"
"I'm not going to hurt you; jesus. Just come with me."
"No way! You're out of your mind!" She pulls away.
He sighs. This was going to change everything.
"Gretchen, I know how time works, it's a big fucked-up mess, I'm still in love with you -- I'm sick of this... whatever the hell you want to call it -- "existence" -- understanding it doesn't make it any better, it's dull, it's predictable. The only thing that doesn't seem to be is human emotion. I forsaked that, and I want it back. You're not willing to give it, because we all have our own set paths, and I understand, maybe yours leads you to wherever you're going, maybe I'm just out of my mind, or maybe I was right back when we were teenagers without a clue in our heads, and I was too stupid or too angst-ridden to think that there was something outside of following a set path, and if that's all there was, then all I'd have to do was either put myself in a position where I'd leave, or not. So, I did. I left. I took a chance, and it somehow worked out. Don't ask how, it's not that I don't know -- I do, I just don't feel like explaining right now."
He pauses. "Shit. You'll understand later. I'll explain then."
All she can say, aghast, is, "what?" Immediately following, he brings a large text from out of a satchel at his side, and proceeds to thrash it firmly against her forehead; she falls backward against his free arm. A bit annoyed, he replaces the book in the bag, throws one of her limp arms around his neck, supports her back, and lifts her into his arms. He then proceeds to carry her down the walk, following his original path of intention, now a bit disjointed, but no worse for the wear.
Donald J. Darko, a figment of the man he had been before, stares silently at the sunset setting against the horizon from the cliff. Behind him, Gretchen rises with a naturally massive headache.
"Hi," she responds, a bit uncertainly. "Wait... Donnie?"
He grins, then holds out his hand to her.
"My, god... you were... weren't you dead? Where's your costume? Oh my god, you look thirty." She pauses suddenly, noticing how unfamiliar her own body, voice, and essential self seems. "What the hell happened?"
"You had a dream." He decides it's best not to try to explain it.
"About our youth."
"Yeah..." She straightens. "God, it was crazy. You did these crazy things. And... god, I think I was run over by something, or someone. And these guys with guns..."
"Sssh," he soothes, gently removing the lightly matted strands from her forehead, his hand tenderly cupping her face. He smiles.
"Nothing. Just smiling. Can't I just smile?"
"Donnie, when you smile, it means you know something."
He laughs, pulling her to his side, his arm resting protectively around her shoulders; Gretchen huddles into his side, shielding herself from the wind, and, perhaps, whatever else she may perceive on a subconscious level. He smiles.
"What?" He laughs. "I can't help it, I'm just..." He holds her a bit more tightly. "I'm just so happy."
"You? Happy? Never."
For some reason, she seemed relatively content with the explanation that her -- life -- had essentially been a dream. He was oddly satisfied with this conclusion as well, for it meant that he could spend more time doing what he'd always wanted to: living his life, rather than following after it.
Rabbits, holes, dreams. He'd felt a bit like Carroll's Alice for quite some time.It was nice to finally be awake.