This is my first attempt at Donnie Darko fanfiction. The main idea behind this story is that within the world of Donnie Darko, anything is possible. I wrote this because I felt like this could have happened. It's basically an alternate ending to my favorite movie, Donnie Darko.
I'm kind of an amateur at writing, so bear with me. If you have any constructive criticism, please let me know. I'm just starting out at this and I'm not really sure what I'm doing. My thoughts are kind of scattered and the story jumps around a lot... I hope you guys don't mind and I apologize in advance.
And finally, I don't own Donnie Darko or it's beautifully-crafted storyline or it's characters- please don't sue me. I also don't own Lord of the Rings. This is all just me venting creatively... I hope you like this.
"Promise me you'll try to be safe," Gretchen heard her mother's voice as she stepped out onto her new porch, still littered with cardboard moving boxes.
"Yes, Mom," she said, but she didn't mean it. Why don't you try to be safe Mom? she wished she had the courage to say out loud. Why don't you think things out a little better before you marry a convicted felon? Before you welcome him into our home and let him hurt you…
She just wanted to be out of there. She had never wanted to move, but it was the only way to get away from that psychopath back home. She felt safe here, at least. Kind of. She woke up feeling… off.
She couldn't remember what she dreamed last night, but she was struggling to recall any bit of it she could. She remembered that she had dreamt-it felt like she had for a month straight- but not what the dream was about. Just that it started out leaving her feeling all warm inside and left her waking up in a cold sweat, gasping for breath.
It was a sunny Virginia Sunday morning. Gretchen's first. She had just moved here last night. She didn't know where anything was. It didn't take her long to realize that her best bet of getting acquainted with Middlesex would be to hop on her bike and take a ride around town.
This place was nice, she guessed, but it would never be home. She looked around at the people jogging, chatting on corners, making nice. Things were strange here. And up ahead there were news vans and a fire truck and a couple of police cars… what was going on?
She pedaled up to the two-story house, passing a huge truck tugging a large plane's engine behind it. The house was barricaded and a couple dozen people stood outside the house. A lot of them were crying. It took her a while to take it all in.
"What's going on here?" she asked an eleven-year old kid on the curb who was watching the story unfold.
"Horrible accident," he replied. "My neighbor… they say he got killed."
"I don't know. They say they… can't find the body. But it's there, they're saying. A jet engine came crashing through the roof. He got smooshed."
"What was his name?"
"Donnie. Donnie Darko," the kid replied.
"Donnie Darko? That's an… interesting name. It's like some kind of superhero or something…"she started but then her heart skipped a beat and her mind's eye flashed (What makes you think I'm not?) and then she was grounded again. She blinked heavily, trying to wash off that odd feeling this was giving her.
"I just feel bad for his family," the kid shrugged and then took off.
"Yeah…" she sighed as she stared over at them. She had known right away which ones they were.
Maybe they're sadder than everyone else, you've always had the ability to pick that up she told herself, but she knew that wasn't it.
Donnie's mom (that's who she was, Gretchen was sure of it) was leaning against a tree, smoking a cigarette. She seemed familiar somehow.
Rose recognizes me too Gretchen told herself when his mother looked over and saw her. She didn't know how she knew her name. But she was sure it was right. She waved at Rose, not really expecting a response but she waved back, confusedly, yes, but there was some kind of intangible familiarity there that couldn't be ignored.
She had the wild urge to go over there and tell Donnie's mom that everything was going to be okay, but she let it go. She didn't know that anything would be okay. This mother had just lost her son, and a stranger's condolences weren't going to make it any better.
Gretchen didn't like this. Everything felt too familiar. And yet, nothing at all like things were back home. She wished she had someone to call, someone to talk to, but she had no one.
Gretchen decided that his had been enough excitement for the day. Tomorrow would be here first day at Middlesex Ridge School and she thought maybe it'd be best to just go home and rest beforehand.
She had decided during the plane ride to Virginia that she was going to be herself here. Since elementary school she had put on a façade to fit in with the cool kids. Being popular certainly had its benefits: the cutest boys, the best parties, the coolest friends- but that wasn't what she wanted anymore. Now she just wanted to make life worth living, something beautiful and safe, and maybe if she were herself she'd find someone else who could share that dream with her.
When she got home she went quietly upstairs. Her mom didn't notice her sneak up to her room and she was able to daydream and collect her thoughts for a long while before her mother could realize she was home and begin to trouble her again.
"I just… can't believe what happened," Miss Pomeroy told Dr. Monnitoff the next day. All around the school the teachers and students were buzzing with gossip of what had happened to Donnie. "One week he's there and you come back after the weekend and… he's gone."
"Things like this happen, Karen, you can't dwell on them," Monnitoff tried to comfort her, but the tension in his voice indicated that he was just as freaked as she was. There was a pause, then "Did you know that they have no idea where the engine came from? And they can't find his body." He was clutching something tightly to his chest. "It's all very bizarre."
"Kenneth… what is that?" she asked, looking in for a closer look of the object he was holding.
"Uh… just a book," he let her see it. "It's called The Philosophy of Time Travel. I kind of dreamt about it the other night. Seemed… important then but I guess it's kind of silly."
"No, not at all. Dreams are… the portal to your soul." Monnitoff raised an eyebrow at her but she held fast. "You know, the night before the accident… I dreamt about Donnie."
Monnitoff gave her a look. "You're kidding me."
"No… why would you say that?"
"I... kind of did too. He asked about this book. In my dream, I mean…"
"Can I see that?" she asked. He handed her the dusty book. She glanced it over. "Roberta Sparrow wrote this?"
He nodded. "You know, before she was "Grandma Death" she was…"
"A nun and then a science teacher, I know… can I borrow this?"
"Um… sure," he said, a bit taken aback. "But read it soon, I'm kind of curious to finish it myself."
She shoved it in her purse alongside the collection of Graham Greene's short stories.
"Principal Cole, this is Jim Cunningham," Mrs. Farmer reluctantly introduced the men.
"From what Kitty's told me, your program is excellent," the principal shook hands with Jim. "She's told me it would be a valuable addition to our curriculum."
"Oh, absolutely," Jim responded, looking far off. He hadn't quite recovered from a nightmare two nights ago that had recurred last night. "Children are troubled… misguided. And they need our help."
Cole was studying him. "That's always been my main concern. And you believe that the children will really benefit from your program?"
"Well, yes," Jim responded, stumbling over the words. "You know, I, love children," he coughed, "not in a weird way, mind you, in a purely platonic way…"
"Right," Principal Cole said to stop him from speaking any further. "Well, as much as I think your program would benefit the kids, and I think it really would, I don't really think it's appropriate for integration into our physical education program."
Kitty breathed an audible sigh of relief. Jim didn't notice. He was still very distant.
"Well, I understand," Jim said, now sweating noticeably. "I think I'll be going now," he awkwardly added before taking off.
They watched him almost run toward the parking lot
The principal turned to Miss Farmer. "I'm sorry, I know you were very invested in this program but he just didn't seem… wholesome to me."
"No, I understand completely," she replied, looking downward. "There's definitely something… off about him. I'm sorry I wasted your time."
The bell rang. "Well I guess class is starting," Mrs. Farmer said. "I'll be off."
"It was good talking to you, Kitty," he said, surprised by her change in attitude since the previous week. She nodded and began toward the physical education classroom.
When the second bell rang, Miss Pomeroy stood in front of the class. Today was going to be difficult for a number of reasons. She looked at Donnie's empty desk and held back tears.
"Class…" she started. "How many of you actually read "The Destructors" this weekend?" Only Joanie James raised her hand.
"Oh really?" Pomeroy raised an eyebrow, skeptical. "What was it about?"
"People who were… destructive…" Joanie made-up, looking down and blushing when the class laughed at her response.
"No, Joanie," she sighed. "I've decided that we're not going to read it." The class cheered. She was a bit ashamed of her choice. Given Donnie's recent accident, though, it didn't seem appropriate.
The kids would get the short story, she thought. But parents wouldn't really appreciate what she was teaching their kids. They wouldn't get that it's supposed to be ironic. This book would only bring her trouble…
"So what are we going to be reading instead?" Ronald asked.
"I've decided that you're going to choose your own novels and read them independently," she said. "Just, everyone, check in with me to make sure it's appropriate…"
The door opened and Gretchen Ross stepped inside.
"May we help you?" Ms. Pomeroy asked.
"Yeah, umm, I just registered and I think they put me in the wrong English class."
Miss Pomeroy looked her over. "You look like you belong here."
"Umm… where do I sit? she asked.
"This seat up here," she motioned at Donnie's old seat. Maybe it's a little bit premature for you to be replacing his seat she thought afterward, but she had made her decision.
She sat down in her designated seat and sat her book bag down beside her. She placed her hands on the desk in front of her.
She winced from a sudden sharp pain in her head. When she opened her eyes she wasn't in her seat, but Joanie's. To her right there was a handsome, dark-haired boy. He was turning toward her, staring and smiling. Donnie! she thought. She blinked another time and she was looking to her right, out the window.
She shivered at averted her attention to Miss Pomeroy, who was writing something across the chalk board in perfect white letters.
"Frank… what are you doing?" Elizabeth asked him, exasperated when she walked into his room.
"I'm getting rid of this stupid thing," he said, tossing the metal mask in a wastebasket.
"What? Why? You've been working on that thing for months!"
"Just, don't ask, Liz. I'm not doing the bunny thing this year. It's a bad idea."
"Okay, I won't," she said, sitting down.
There was a long, awkward silence as he sat down next to her.
"Liz, I dreamt about your brother," Frank suddenly said, rushed. "And I was wearing the suit and I was telling him to do all of these things, and then he killed me…"
"Whoa, wait there," she said, tearing up hearing this. "You're just freaking out, we all are…"
"He saved the world by dying, Liz," he gasped. "He saved us all," he stared at her, tears streaking down his face.
"You're starting to scare me Frank," she pulled back when he grabbed her hand.
"Elizabeth, I want to meet your parents," he said.
She smiled faintly. "Frank, we went over this, I can't…"
He moved in and kissed her. She was caught off guard.
"Liz…" he said when he broke off the kiss, "you never know what's going to happen. Life is short. And I want your parents to know me. I want to be… part of the family, you know?"
"But… we agreed you'd meet them after I went off to college…"
He grasped her hand tighter. "This is important to me."
"What's gotten into you?" Elizabeth asked, stunned. He slowly turned his sight of vision to the wastebasket in the corner and said nothing.
"Hey, wait up," Gretchen called out to the girl walking home in front of her. She slowed down a bit and Gretchen caught up quickly.
"Hi, I'm Gretchen Ross," she introduced herself. "We have most of our classes together, I think. Your name is Cherita, right?"
"Yes… is this a trick?" Cherita asked, grasping a textbook close to herself.
"What? No… just, I don't know anybody here and you seemed cool."
Cherita gave her a skeptical look, but she could tell after a second that Gretchen was being genuine.
"Thank you. I do not have many friends. They think I am strange."
"I don't think you're strange," Gretchen smiled. "And I think it will be safer if we can watch each other's backs."
Cherita gave a rare smile, but it faded quickly when she looked down at her book. I promise that one day things are going to get better for you she heard Donnie's voice in her head as she read his name written across the book. He had never told her that, but she felt it in her heart and she knew that the voice was right.
Dr. Lilian Thurman paced back and forth across her empty office. There was only so much she could recall through searching her own dreams. She wished that she could study someone close to Donnie without being too obtrusive, but that seemed impossible.
She closed her eyes and sat down in the patient's chair for the first time, thinking maybe being in such a position would help her reveal something about herself. She was trying to recall any bit of information that would help her. A plush toy resembling a dog was set across the chair. She took it in her hands I met a girl, Gretchen, we're going together now… she heard. She dropped the toy, shocked, and got back to pacing.
Gretchen went back later that day to the Darko home. The media coverage was dying down but the F.A.A. search for Donnie's body was still running strong. Something had collapsed and it was making the recovery especially difficult.
Rose was there again, smoking a cigarette, anxious to be there when they found Donnie's body among the wreckage. She was talking to an older woman who seemed very concerned. Gretchen approached them when they took a brief pause from talking, not wishing to interrupt.
"Hello," she said timidly, realizing this was a difficult time. "I'm sorry for your loss, Mrs. Darko."
"Thank you," Rose said, studying her. "Were you a friend of Donnie's? You look… very familiar."
"Uh, no, I never met him. I moved here Saturday night, actually… my name is Gretchen."
The older woman nearly jumped. "Excuse me, did you say your name was Gretchen?" she asked.
"Um… yes," she replied, confused.
"Could I… speak to you personally for a moment?"
"Sure," she said without much enthusiasm but aware that something strange was afoot.
"And when I clap my hands twice, you will wake up, do you understand?" Dr. Thurman asked.
"Yes," Gretchen responded with her eyes closed, leaning against a tree out of the view of passersby.
"Do you remember being with Donald? Anything at all?"
"He was my boyfriend," she replied in a child-like voice. "And my best friend. I loved him."
"When did you meet him?"
"I met him today. Only, not today, it was different."
"How was it different?"
"He wasn't dead," she said, beginning to cry. "Things are different now."
"How did this happen?"
"Time travel," she giggled even though she was crying. "He did it so we could be okay."
Dr. Thurman was quiet so Gretchen might expound.
"We slept together on October 30th," Gretchen stated. "That was before it happened."
"Before what happened?" she asked, with other questions on her mind, but this was the most pressing one.
"We went to Grandma Death's house and we ran into Seth and Ricky and then," she started to gasp, "and then I died."
"You… died?" Dr. Thurman asked, afraid of what might happen next.
"I got hit by a car. It was Frank."
I met a new friend… His name is Frank… He said to follow him… into the future…
She was bawling now. Dr. Thurman clapped twice.
"Wha…?" Gretchen asked, disoriented. When she realized what was going on she wiped away the tears. "What did you find out?" she asked.
"Nothing for sure," Dr. Thurman responded. There were some things it might be best not to tell her about, especially if Donnie was dead. "But you did know Donnie. Somehow, I don't really understand. You said it was time travel."
"But if I time traveled… wouldn't I remember?"
"Perhaps. I can grasp what's going on here about as well as you can. You also mentioned someone called "Grandma Death" and that you went to her house. Does this sound familiar?"
Gretchen shook her head. "Well, I hope you figure out what's been going on. I'm curious," Gretchen said.
"Me too," Dr. Thurman answered. "Thank you for allowing me a peek into your mind. I think I need to go now to think about what you said. I might have some answers in the morning."
"No problem," Gretchen responded and waved Dr. Thurman goodbye.
"Miss Pomeroy," Gretchen said when she saw her teacher approaching the house. "What are you doing here?"
"I just wanted to speak with Mrs. Darko about her son. I called the hotel and her husband said she was here…"
"She actually left for a little while to pick up something to eat," Gretchen informed Miss Pomeroy. "Were you close to Donnie?"
"In a way," Pomeroy said, reminiscing. "He was my favorite student. So intelligent… he just didn't always apply himself as much as he could. He had so much potential…" her voice trailed for a second. "It's a shame he's gone." She looked down at Gretchen, who seemed far off in thought. "How long have you been here?"
"Hours," Gretchen responded. It was beginning to get late.
"You… you didn't even know him, did you?" Miss Pomeroy asked her.
"No, not really," she said, though the feeling that she did was growing stronger with every passing hour.
Miss Pomeroy closed her eyes. There was a long silence before she spoke. "At last all such things must end, but I would have you wait a little while longer: for the end of the deeds that you have shared in has not yet come," she then recited from memory.
Gretchen nodded. "What is that?" she asked.
"Oh, just something from The Return of the King, you know, The Lord of the Rings."
"Oh. Well, I like it. Sort of… a reminder that just because something is done doesn't mean it's the end."
The teacher nodded back. "I love Tolkien. He had such a way with words… he wasn't just an author, but a linguist as well. He invented languages for his books, trying to make them sound as beautiful as possible."
"That's a really neat idea… a language where every word is beautiful."
"You know, he once said that that of all the phrases in the English language, of all the endless combinations of words in all of history, that "cellar door" is the most beautiful."
Something clicked in Gretchen's mind. "Cellar door…" she said aloud.
"Yeah… pretty interesting, huh?" Karen said, looking at the house and the little progress that those searching for Donnie were making.
"Do you… have you heard of Grandma Death?" Gretchen asked.
"Yeah… her name is actually Roberta Sparrow. She…" a dawn of realization crept across Pomeroy's face. She reached into her purse and pulled out The Philosophy of Time Travel. "She wrote this."
When Gretchen touched it she heard Donnie's voice again.
Roberta Sparrow… she wrote this… Will you come see her with me?
"Do you know where she lives?" Gretchen asked.
"Out on Old Gun Road… why?"
"I know this is a lot to ask but… can you take me there?"
"Yes," she said without a moment's hesitation, unsure of why she was so certain.
Within fifteen minutes they were at Grandma Death's home. She was out in front of the mailbox, absorbed in a letter she was reading. Gretchen tried to get her attention but failed.
She began to sneak around the side of the house.
"What the hell are you doing?" Miss Pomeroy asked.
"Cellar door," Gretchen responded. "There…" she pointed. There was the unlocked door into Roberta Sparrow's cellar.
"We really shouldn't be doing this, Gretchen… we're going to get caught…"
Gretchen didn't pay her any attention. She opened the cellar door and peered around inside.
"What exactly are you looking for?" Miss Pomeroy asked.
"I'm… not exactly sure," she said, looking around. The place seemed like it had been looted a thousand times. The only things left were lots of useless trinkets and a big piano in the center of the room. It was probably too large for any kid to steal on his own. She opened the piano and played a low key or two, unsure of what she was doing.
"It's very dark in here," Pomeroy stated. "Whatever you're looking for… you're not going to find it."
Then suddenly a great rush of air blew through the cellar and there was a bright flash and a bang.
"What was that?" Karen yelled out, looking around her. "Gretchen, are you okay?"
Gretchen had run over to the origin of the sound. She bent down next to it.
"Hey!" she yelled at the body when she realized what it was. "Hey…" she shook it back and forth. She didn't hear anything. "Wake up… please, wake up," she pleaded.
With a final shake the body coughed and gasped for air. She could see eyelashes fluttering in the dark, then a pair of clear blue eyes staring back up at her.
"Gretchen," Donnie's voice said weakly when he regained his breath.
"Donnie… you're okay, Donnie," she said, looking into his eyes as he regained consciousness.
"Oh my God…" Karen Pomeroy said, leaning in on his other side. "Donnie…"
"What are you looking at, Donnie?" Gretchen asked, concerned, when she saw that his eyes weren't focused on her but on a spot above her head. She looked over her shoulder and nothing was there.
"You did it Donnie, you saved the world," Frank in the bunny suit told him.
"But… how?" he said out loud.
"How what, Donnie?" Gretchen asked, confused.
"You had to be willing to be a martyr," Frank answered. "You had to believe. But God loves his children Donnie. God loves you."
"God… loves me," Donnie said out loud before passing out.
"Donnie… Oh my God, Donnie!" Gretchen cried out, much of what had happened in those other 28 days suddenly rushing back to her in a wave.
"He's still breathing, I think he's okay," Miss Pomeroy said, crying because she was so happy to see him alive. "Let's just get him out of here and…" she remembered a lot of what had happened in a rush as quickly as Gretchen's. She almost collapsed, overwhelmed.
"We should really get him to a hospital," Gretchen responded. With a little effort they both hoisted him up and got her into her car.
Roberta Sparrow was gone.