It was 2:30 am and the only light on in the Lane household was in the kitchen. Daria and Jane sat at the table, while Trent made coffee. Quinn struggled for sleep on the couch in the darkened Lane living room. The only other lights were the small bright dots of Lawndale lampposts visible through the kitchen window.
"You're taking this well," said Jane.
"I don't know how else to take it," said Daria, almost in a whisper to avoid Trent overhearing. "I had to get out of there. I tried not to listen to their minds. I really tried. And this is my reward for it." Daria looked straight ahead, not even looking at Jane.
"I refuse to stay there. I have to go." It was the sixth time she had said it, almost as if she were convincing herself against her will.
Jane sighed. When Daria and Quinn came over to pound on the door, the look on their faces told the story by itself. Quinn and Daria had snuck out of the house only a half hour earlier.
"I know that I have to leave, Jane. If I go, those doctors will poke and poke and the psychiatrist and all the other really mentally ill people there will probably force something bad to happen. If I refuse, Quinn's in trouble, and I end up in a long fight with my parents. Quinn gets grilled…." Daria nodded over towards Quinn on the couch.
"And the fat lady starts to sing." Jane sipped some coffee.
Trent came over with a cup of coffee. "Hey, Daria."
"Hey." Daria looked down again. She really liked Trent. She was embarrassed.
"It's a shame that you had that argument. You know, I'm sure you and your Mom can patch things up."
"Trent," said Jane, "there was no argument. I just went along with what Daria was saying."
"Oh." Trent was confused.
"Daria, I have something to tell you. Trent…Trent knows."
Daria looked up. "Trent knows? What does Trent know?"
"He knows about me. I told him."
There was silence at the table.
"And who else? And what else?"
"Just about me. Nothing else. He's my brother."
Trent coughed. "Daria…this doesn't have anything to do with the same thing, does it? When you all got hit by lightning?" He looked over at Daria, and figured out the truth that Daria wouldn't say.
"Wow…." Trent took another sip of the hot black coffee. "So…I guess it's more complicated than just an argument, huh?"
"You can stay here as long as you want."
"Not that easy," said Daria. "This will be the first place they look."
"Oh. Well, I could drive you somewhere. Wherever you'd want to go. I don't think the police start looking for you until you're gone for 24 hours. I think they wait longer if it's Summer's kids."
"I have to think about it. I don't think driving is a good idea. Your car, the Tank, they'd look for all those things." Daria thought. "I don't suppose we could fly out of here, could we? Could I get on line?"
Jane blushed. "Sorry, amiga. I fried the hard drive. And I think the start-up disk is screwed, too. I just don't have much control over this power."
"Tell me about it. When I need to know something, I don't know it. When I don't need to know something, I can't help but know it."
A more perky voice spoke up. "So, like, why don't you just call the airport? Or just show up and see what tickets you can get?" Quinn stretched her long, thin arms, unable to sleep.
"Aren't we unescorted minors?" said Jane. She remembered when Courtney and Adrian flew, someone had to be there to pick them up.
"Duh! We're 21! It says so on our driver's licenses!"
"Right," said Daria. "With forged driver's licenses. We go to an airport, cameras all around, right in the middle of Homeland Security checking everything. We have no money, we don't even look 21, and when the forgeries are discovered, we get arrested and hauled back home in the most humiliating way. Then, they take me to the Nut House and they saw my head off."
"Geez, Daria, take a chance once in your life. I have cash!" Quinn pulled out a gold card. "Ta-daaahh!"
Jane squinted. "A gold card with your name on it?"
"No, Mom's gold card! She gave it to me to buy shoes! We buy the tickets in Mom's name!"
"Okay," said Daria, on the defensive. "And Helen Morgendorffer doesn't show up for her flight. But Daria Morgendorffer shows up instead."
"Well…," said Jane, "there's the clothes trunks up in the attic. There's some pretty non-happening fashions up there. I think they would give you some much needed maturity." Jane failed to mention the clothes were at least forty years out of date.
"I don't like this plan at all," said Daria.
"Look at it this way," said Quinn. "You and I are in trouble no matter what we do. The worst they'd do to us at the airport is not let us go. Gee, Daria, you worry about everything! People aren't like you! They don't worry so much! It's like going to a bar…you just smile and look confident, and no one gives you any trouble!"
"Right. And instead of getting a mimosa and your hand stamped, you get a felony offense and you – "
"Jane!" shouted Quinn. "Let's see the clothes you have picked out!" Quinn thought anything was better than giving Daria too much time to think.
(la la LA la la)
"This smells like mothballs."
"You'll do fine." Jane looked for shoes for Daria as Daria adjusted her shoulders in the stiff green dress that Quinn chose for her. Green dress…white belt. And white shoes. Jane's aunt had a whole trunk full of shoes.
"I like this blue one but it doesn't go with my hair or my skin and your aunt is a lot shorter than I am! I guess I have to go with the long white one! But if I could find pink and find a purse I would look really really cute! And Daria, you should wear short white gloves if you can find them!"
"Wait a second. Quinn, you're not being asked to go."
Jane spoke up. "We're going anyway."
"Why? This is my problem."
"Everything is just 'your problem'. This isn't 'your problem', it's our problem. Didn't you remember reading my thoughts in the hospital? Amiga, I'm backing you up because you need it. And I give a damn."
"And what about school?"
"Yeah, Daria, what about school? You're ditching, I might as well ditch too. Trust me, in two weeks no one will remember I was even there."
"He'll be against it." Jane sighed. "But I can twist his arm. We'll have to come back, somehow. I can't let the big dummy just mope."
"I think Quinn invited herself."
Quinn turned. "Do you think I was going to just let Daria leave and miss out on all the fun? I'm in!"
"Jane, do you have a harmonica? I can play it when we're all in prison."
"Actually, Daria, there is something you can do to help us pull this off."
"And that is?"
(la la LA la la)
Trent pulled up to the airport in the Tank. He found short term parking and parked the van in the cold morning air.
"Daria, we have our luggage?"
"We look like refugees from Catholic school," said Daria.
Jane couldn't help but agree. Quinn wore a pink dress with matching hat and long pink gloves. Jane wore her black hair in a snood, with a dark red dress with ivory buttons. Daria completed the picture with her green dress and white accessories.
"I think you look very adult." Trent coughed. "Well…maybe I shouldn't stay. Maybe I should provide an alibi…or something."
"You don't need one," said Jane, "it's already a quarter to seven. I'll bet Daria's Mom is calling everyone right now. You don't need to be at the house at all." Jane turned to Daria and Quinn. "I'll meet you inside."
Daria nodded, and took two of the three ancient suitcases. Quinn followed with one of the bags, and Jane stayed behind for a few minutes.
"Trent," Jane said, voice cracking, "you didn't need to give me all of your money!!"
"You need it worse than I do right now, Janey. Two hundred dollars isn't near enough! You have to take care of yourself! And Daria, and her sister!"
Jane hugged Trent. She was crying, and shaking. "Tr-Trent! I – I -- !!" Sobbing, she tried to get out that she could never repay Trent for all the kindness and love that he had shown her. She could not wrap up so many years in a brief goodbye. They had had so much time together, and now, it seemed that that time was drawing to a close with an uncertain future.
"Janey," said Trent, his eyes tearing, holding the thing that he loved most in the world closest to him. "If you need me, I will make it to you. No matter what!"
"Gee, Trent," Jane said, still crying, "be a guy! No sense about crying!"
"We Lanes say crappy goodbyes!"
"Yeah!" Jane wiped her eyes. She couldn't let Daria see her cry. "I guess my career as a struggling artist is off to an early start!"
"Give me an address, and I'll send you whatever I can!" Trent knew he had to cut this short, or he would decrease their chances of getting away. "Goodbye, little sister!"
"Goodbye…big brother…!" Jane swallowed hard and closed the van door. Trent watched Jane look back one last time as she walked away, then she disappeared into the hotel lobby. Now, and only now, was it safe to finally stop holding the tears back.
(la la LA la la)
Daria and Quinn finished purchasing four tickets. One for Helen Morgendorffer and the other three for themselves. The computer gave them no problems. All it cared about was a valid credit card.
"Quinn…be honest. Why are you doing this?"
"Because I think that things will just work themselves out in the end. They really will."
Daria turned away. She waited for Jane. Talking to Quinn was useless. There could be no way of explaining to Quinn that Daria felt as if her heart had been stabbed to death.
From the moment that Quinn told Daria the truth to the present, Daria's throat felt six times heavier.
She knew that her mother would always, always look for the simplest and least complex solution to any problem. Not getting along in school? Smile, and invite people over! Being picked on? Tell the teachers! Surrounded by morons? Don't be so judgmental!!
Hearing voices in your head? Send her to the mental hospital!! Pills and nice men in white coats will fix her up. And oh, while you're there, work on our useless, socially maladept daughter. Her inability to make friends is probably some sign of mental illness.
It's probably deliberate, too….
Daria closed her eyes. Something was coming up out of her heart that she did not want to face. And the fact that Quinn was there was no solace.
You know, Quinn, when this is all over, you'll come out smelling like a rose. You always do. You even admitted it. "It will all just blow over." For you, maybe. Because the world says you can't do anything wrong. My big crime in life was not being just like you.
Jane walked over to the doors. Daria waited.
"Hey. Quinn got the tickets."
"Then let's get the hell out of here. Remember," said Jane, "smiles and happy faces. And don't think. We have to be just like Quinn…dammit."
(la la LA la la)
NOTHING HAPPENED. Daria couldn't believe that she was on a plane to Los Angeles – the first plane taking off from the airport. Los Angeles was definitely big enough to lose the three of them, but she wouldn't be happy until the plane took off.
Baggage check? Not a problem!
Phony IDs? The rent-a-cop (now a paid member of the Department of Homeland Security) gave the IDs no more than a cursory look. The three might as well have been Charlie's Angels.
Magnetic detectors? Didn't go off! Jane passed through without a problem. Nothing broke, nothing exploded.
Voices in your head? Empty. Not a cough in a carload, as they used to say.
And now, on the plane. Daria and Jane sat side by side in one row. Quinn sat behind them.
"Thank God Quinn didn't ask to sit by me!"
"I think that was Quinn's idea," whispered Jane, "she was the one who bought the tickets!"
"Oh yeah." The feeling was mutual.
Daria opened her purse. Benadryl. An antihistamine, which should put her to sleep for the flight. "Jane, don't wake me up. If this is a nightmare, definitely don't wake me up!"
Daria tossed two Benadryl down her throat and prayed for the best.
(la la LA la la)
…I can go anyway the way I choose I can talk anyhow win or lose….
(More thoughts. Daria stirred in her sleep.)
( Los Angeles is so beautiful this time of year)
("Delusional thinking", Daria told herself. The thoughts of the other passengers drifted lightly across her mind, like ducks crossing a summer pond.)
&-This upgrade lacks not only sufficient computing power, but the documentation is lacking in several critical areas. I would like to congratulate the department for doing something never done before in the history of computer science – creating features that serve no purpose and documentation that doesn't make sense….-&
Daria opened her eyes. She liked the thoughts, somehow expressed in a deep Scottish authoritative voice. She would listen. It was her own private radio station, clear sane thinking in the midst of mental static.
Jane turned. "I've been thinking about what we should do when we get to Los Angeles."
"Mm-hm." Daria continued listening.
"My two hundred dollars will get us a hotel room for a couple of nights. We spend the other one hundred dollars eating and looking for work. Maybe fast food. Or something using our powers – if we ever figure out how to use them."
"Daria…are you completely awake?"
Daria smiled. "Jane…I've tuned in to a really powerful brain. Strong, confident. And I think, sympathetic. Maybe we can get some advice from him."
"Well, go for it, stranger!"
Daria stood up and prepared to make her way, following the source until she found it. She disappeared behind the curtains to business class.
No sooner had she disappeared than she walked back.
"He was very hesitant to talk to us. I could read his mind. I felt resistance."
"You did put on deodorant before we left?"
"Shut up." Daria crossed over Jane's seat and sat back down. "He didn't want to talk to anybody. I was listening to Russell Stark."
"Russell Stark. Computer guy. Partners with Bill Brower."
"Bill Brower had a partner?" Jane knew who Bill Brower was – everyone did, he was the richest man on earth – but he never knew Brower had a partner at Wizard.
"Yeah. Stark and Brower built Wizard up from ground zero in their garage in Arizona. They had a falling out about fifteen years ago. Brower bought Stark out. Stark took the billions and hasn't been seen since."
"And he's flying out of Lawndale?"
"He's incognito. Deeeep cover. He was imagining some kind of blackmail attempt, thought I had recognized him. So I just let him alone. In the pictures, he had long hair and a long red beard. Now he's bald, the beard is shorter, and he looks like a businessman."
"Well…maybe you can find another billionaire on board. Although I wish you had the nerve to ask him for fifty bucks."
"Quinn's behind me. Send her up. He'll probably give her his car keys."
"Don't tempt me," said Jane. "Okay, either listen to Howard Hughes some more or find another radio station."
Lots of thoughts, but nothing substantial. One woman thinking about sex with Captain Kirk. Some guy trying to figure out what month the Aquarius star sign was in.
A man thinking of the time his grandfather had taken him to the park, but he couldn't remember the park. It began with a "P". Daria figured next time she flew, she'd just bring a radio.
Finally, a substantial thought.
Everything is in play. Frederico managed to place the gun.
In three minutes Mike will stand up and shoot the marshal. That ought to get everyone's attention. I'll keep the rest of the passengers sitting tight. The Brit will get to buisiness class and kill Stark. We'll be off this plane before anyone figures out what happened.
Frederico, your work is beautiful. They paid enough to kill that Scottish fag.
Mikey, I'm waiting for your sign. When you push that call button for the stewardess, I'll know that you put the gun together. Then I stand up and I shoot the marshal.
Daria's eyes were wide awake. "Jane…Jane, I think this plane ride might be a lot shorter than we think…." She was tempted to transmit a thought to Quinn, just to let her know that not every situation worked itself out for the better, after all.
In three minutes, the rest of Daria's life was going to be decided, one way or another.