GOD SAVE THE ESTEEM
Ep 28: Punk Takes A Holiday
"Last month, we took you to the world's biggest Nativity scene… in August! But did mall manager Gifford Jones' cynical manipulation of the Christmas spirit earn him the big bucks? You bet your buttit did! Gold, Business Sense, and 'Murican Way, a Sick, Sad World investigative special!"
Daria stared at Jane's TV. "Could they make the holidays even more vulgar?"
"Sure," said Jane. "In fact, I bet if we wrote a list of ways it could be done, stores would pay us for it."
"Sometimes I wonder if you're too cynical, even for me. Now get me a pen."
They'd ended up with thirty five ways, and Daria had drafted a pitch for Jane to post to various retailers. She'd made sure to mention it was going to various retailers in the pitch; "we need a bidding war". But this wasn't entirely mercenary: if the holidays became more and more devalued, people would be less and less willing to celebrate them, and then the family would be spared Jake Morgendorffer's Thanksgiving Punk-kin Pie.
As she walked home, she thought about something that had absolutely no relevance to the plot whatsoever, nor to what was about to happen. So I'm not going to bother telling you it.
"Not another step, lassie!"
Daria paused and looked at the speaker: a short guy wearing a lurid green leprechaun costume (he even had the bowler hat), who had an Irish accent as spoken by an American who'd never been to Ireland. Beside him stood a laidback fat guy in a toga with a heart-adorned toy gun.
Daria looked again at the speaker. He was still a short guy wearing a lurid green leprechaun costume, alongside a laidback fat guy in a toga with a heart-adorned toy gun.
These hidden camera pranks are getting lamer and lamer.
"We need to speak to you, miss," said I-Am-Irish-Honest.
"It's cool," said Fat Guy, who sounded like Trent's friend Jesse after his balls dropped further. "We come in peace."
"And you are…?" Come on, give me something to work with...
"Sorry, can't tell you. We're on a secret mission."
"For now, let's just say he's the St. Patrick's Day leprechaun and I'm Cupid."
Right into my hands."Excellent. I've been expecting you."
The two pranksters almost jumped backwards. "Y-You've what?"
"For now, let's just say I'm International Pizza Day. Do you have the St Swithen's Gift?"
'Paddy' and 'Cupid' looked at each other, greatly confused, then back at her. "Damn it! We weren't told there was another agent – wait, who sent you?" Horror dawned. "Oh no, you're not… No, no, the Presidents can't have known, they can't-"
Huh. This guy's good. "Don't worry, comrade, the President remains unaware. That's as much as I can say in the open. We'll continue this discussion at Safe Zone Romeo-Juliet, walls have ears."
"Okay, cool, we'll look that up on Google Maps," said 'Cupid'.
Daria looked around suspiciously, drew her coat over her face, and stalked off. I gotta call Jane, she'll love this.
"We need to speak to you, miss."
"It's cool. We come in peace."
"Oh, is this a Lawndale Pride fundraiser?" asked Jane. "Cool! Hey, can we all dress up like that? I've been wanting to find the right way to come out as a man in a woman's body, and-"
"Wait, lass, I think you-"
"-and this would just work great!I'll bring all my friends, when are you marching?"
"I mean, that isit, right? You're not filming a show or something, right? C-C-Cos if whu-what I just said was on TV and e-e-e-veryone could… WAAAAAAAAAA"
The two guys looked at each other and slowly inched away.
Heh heh. Now who am I gonna call…
"I can't believe this, six people and they're all weirdoes! Didja see that last dude's eye? Where the feck did we end up, man? Where the feck?"
"Stay cool, dude," said Cupid, patting his friend on the back. "Stay cool. I'm sure this chick will work out."
"Ahem! Hold it right there, lassie!" called out Paddy to the blonde. "We need to speak to you about a secret mission-"
"Yeah, he's St Patrick's Day and I'm Cupid-"
"Will you stop telling everyone who we really are?"
The blonde didn't seem to react in a strange way, so they felt safe to carry on.
"We have reason to believe that Christmas, Halloween, Bonfire Night, and Talk Like A Pirate Day have left Holiday Island and come here to Lawndale to start up a band. They came here through a wormhole at the back of a Chinese restaurant and if we don't get them back soon, the very fabric of your mortal realm will start to unravel! Will you help us, miss?"
Burnout Girl stared at them for a long time, and then took a look at her last spliff. Silently, she dropped it to the floor and walked off.
"I think we're gonna have to work with Pizza Day after all, dude."
"Ah come on! 'Safe Zone, not at liberty'… Bloody poseur. I bet she's working for that bastard Independence Day, that's the sort of flash he'd get up to…" Paddy scowled. "We mooch at a bus stop for our Ops Centre, and you know what? I'm proud! We're on the edge, man!"
"I dunno, I bet the Safe Zone doesn't smell like cat pee."
"I don't think it was a cat, man," said Paddy, defeated.
Daria opened the front door to see the prank guys were there. Their producer must've liked it. She'd have to remember to ask for some money afterwards…
"St Patrick's, Cupid. Google Maps was satisfactory?"
"Nah, it didn't have anything," said Cupid. "But we knocked on some doors and asked if anyone knew the weird chick with glasses and everyone pointed us over here."
"Idiot! You've almost certainly blown my cover, now the President's men are going to be keeping an eye out! The mission's almost certainly blown."
"Well if you would have just worked with us instead of playing your own agenda-!" roared St Patrick, acting like he was genuinely furious (these guys are wasted on this show). "I should've expected this from Independence, everything just has to be about him, doesn't it?"
"Hey! Independence pulled off the Cinco de Mayo and Bastille Day ops in his time, who are youto criticise?"
"Jaysis, he gave Cinco a wedgie one time, and he blows that out of all proportion!"
Daria blinked. "Ummm… Sorry to break character this late, but I think you're getting your scenario's confused here. Weren't we doing secret agents just now?"
There was an awkward silence before Cupid said, "Oh, right, sorry" and then, his brow furrowed with concentration, "Independence is… exaggerating his prowess after… uh… merely underwear-based incapacitating Cinco. How's that?"
Daria's confusion was interrupted by Helen calling out "Daria, honey, who's at the-" before she reached the door and saw for herself. "Oh god. SNAKE! IT'S FUCKING MISSIONARIES AGAIN! REALLY WEIRD ONES!"
"I'M GETTING THE BOTTLE, DEAR!"
St Patrick and Cupid weren't sure what that meant, but it sounded pretty painful. Reacting fast – well, average pace – Cupid raised the Love Gun and the instant Jake had appeared at the door with weapon in hand, he opened fire. Both punks were hit and, contrary to all laws of physics as Daria knew them, fucking glowing hearts began to emit from her parent's heads.
"…oh god," she whispered. "H-How.."
"Ohhh, Snakey…" said Helen in a husky voice. "The way you just take command... mmmmm…"
"Well, I got something worth getting angry about, Hellion…"
And to the horror of all concerned, they started to strip off right there and then on the doorstep.
"I… I thought I had this on low setting," muttered Cupid.
Daria, scared and confused and everything she'd ever known overthrown, turned to the two men – the two holidays. She was in the presence of actual supernatural beings. That… she… there was only one question it made sense to ask.
"If you're St Patrick's Day, why do you speak like an American putting on an Irish accent and not in an actual Irish accent?"
Paddy looked down at the floor, grief all over his face, and Cupid put a consoling hand on his shoulder.
"He's really sensitive about his diasporisation. It's okay, Pizza Day, you weren't to know."
Screw it. I'm obviously having some kind of nervous breakdown. I'll just ride it out and see where it takes me, Zelda Fitzgerald-style.
With Daria's house out of limits until her parents calmed down – and that could be hours yet – they had to continue the discussion at Pizza King. Well, they could have done it somewhere else but she was hungry.
"All right, go through what you know from the beginning."
"Christmas, Halloween, Bonfire Night, and Talk Like A Pirate Day have fled from Holiday Island to Lawndale," said Paddy.
"That fifth of November British dude," explained Cupid.
"Bastard." St Patrick's Day scowled moodily at the table. "He just left a note, a fecking note, not even have the decency to say he was leaving to my face. You know what that note said? Bollocks, that's what it said!"
"It was pretentious?" asked Daria.
"Nah, I mean every third word was 'bollocks'."
"I see." She didn't. "And they came here to…"
"They're trying to make it big with their band," said Cupid. "Kind of a hiphop-punk-electronica vibe. I'm not sure what that means but it sounds cool."
"You managed to get a fix on 'em yehself, Pizza Day? …on three of them, I don't care about Bonfire Night, I don't need him…"
"I'll check in with my contacts, see if they've got a lock yet," said Daria, who was amazed she'd kept a straight face throughout the whole conversation. "Hold position here, I'll contact you when I have something. Question though: it's possible they've left Lawndale-"
"Nah, they'll be here," said Cupid. "It's a feeling I've got. Something about Lawndale says to me that if something is going to happen, it'll happen here. It's like…" He struggled for the word. "…a narrative."
Daria had done the logical thing: she'd phoned up Tom and Jane, and set up a meeting at Jane's house so they could brainstorm. At least, it had seemed logical until she realised she was telling her best friend and boyfriend that she was working for holidays to round up some other holidays who were forming a holiday band of holidays holidays oh CRAP.
"You didn't eat out of the old fridge when you were last here, did you?" asked Jane.
"I'm hallucinating, Jane, not dead."
"That's… huh." Tom scratched his head. "Have to tell you, Daria, I'd normally go along with this but I've got a really big batch of homework, can you try the prank again tomorrow?"
"I can prove this is true. Go to my house, you'll see my parents having sex right on the front doorstep-"
"Yeah, that's not really abnormal for them," pointed out Tom.
The conversation was interrupted as Trent lurched into the room, humming to himself. Jane gave Daria an evil smirk and then called out: "Hey Trent! Daria was wondering if you'd heard of any new hiphop-punk-electronica bands in Lawndale and if they included Christmas, Halloween, Guy Fawkes Day-"
"Bonfire Night," corrected Trent.
"-fine, Bonfire Night, and Talk Like A Pirate Day."
"Yeah. They're coming round to jam."
Jane would have snarked at that except at that very moment, as if they'd waited for the most dramatically convenient moment, four strangers came in: a blond dudebro in red-and-white shirt, baseball cap, and jeans; a Goth with a formidable corset; a punk (but these days in Lawndale that could have been anyone); and a guy in full-on pirate costume.
"Yo," they said (also "ahoy!").
"Huh." Tom blinked. "I guess Daria's telling the truth. She's far too lazy to put this much effort into a prank."
"Rude but true," said Daria, eyeing the newcomers. "I think I can tell which is which. Christmas-"
"The handle's X," said the blond guy, striking a pose. "That's short for-"
"Wasn't gonna say Xmas," said X, looking a bit put out. "That's rude, man, assuming things."
"What were you going to say?"
"We're done here." Daria turned to Trent. "Trent, how long have you been hanging out with supernatural manifestations of the seasons and why didn't it occur to you to tell someone?"
"Met 'em at McGrundy's during open mike night."
"It was bollocks," said Bonfire Night. "The bastard crowd just wasn't with it enough for us! They just wanted easy-listening bollocks! Bollocks!" he added for emphasis.
"They seemed pretty cool. I introduced them to the Spiral sound-"
"We downloaded his MP3s without payin'!" said Talk Like A Pirate Day.
"Whoa, that's not cool. Hmmm. Anyway, I figured your parents would have mentioned it. Your dad's consulting for them and all."
"Isn't he supposed to be here now?" asked Halloween.
"Ah, he said he couldn't leave the house and would have to teleconference. Hang on a second…"
As Trent dialled up Jake and set the phone on speaker, Daria grabbed Jane & Tom and hissed "upstairs, now!" but alas, she was too slow and was still in earshot when the call went through.
"Oh hey AAAAA so is the band all GAH OH HELLION here because we've HRRR-" and some other noises as well, but they were soon drowned out by Daria puking up mightily on the floor.
"Quinn!" snapped Daria down the phone. "Did you know supernatural entities were hiring Dad?"
"Well gawd Daria, don't you payattention during breakfast? He mentioned the Holidays four fucking times this week."
She thought back over the last week. She remembered hearing something over breakfast, but she'd long ago developed the skill of not hearing a single blessed thing her family said in the morning. "And it didn't bother anyone that impossible beings had come to Lawndale?"
"You're such a square," sneered back Quinn. "Wait, are they with you now?" Her voice became breathless and husky. "Is... is Bonfire Night there?"
A punk-cover version of a squee emitted from the phone, and Quinn hung up. Then she called Daria to ask where she was. Then squeed again. Daria shrugged and called down the stairs: "Quinn's coming round!"
"OH BOLLOCKS!" came the terrified response.
Bonfire Night was saved by the teleconference – Quinn entered the house, heard two seconds of it, shrieked "EWWWWWW!", and fled to the bathroom. Lo, there came a puking.
"Maybe we should sample that," suggested Halloween.
The conference had gone well, and the Holidays had a list of suggestions and potential strategies ("say bollocks more, especially in interviews"). It was now safe for the teens to emerge, and thus not safe for Bonfire Night who'd been unable to escape in time and was being stared at hungrily by Quinn. She kept making… gestures.
"Now we got our business plan sorted, we just need to work on the important stuff," said Halloween.
"Arrr, that be true – which one of us scurvy dogs is gettin' the centre position on the CD cover?"
The four holidays glared at each other, neither going to give an inch.
"Actually," said Daria, "the most important issue right now is you're wanted on Holiday Island."
"…dude! Snitches get stitches!" said an offended X.
"Come on, man, Daria's cool," said Trent,
"She doesn't look cool," said Halloween.
"Hmmm. You got me there."
"Bollocks to you, bitch, we ain't goin' back there! Holiday Island is…"
"Bollocks," suggested Tom.
"Mmmm, yeah, bollocks…" said Quinn in a husky voice, disturbing everyone in earshot.
"What's so bad about Holiday Island?" asked Daria.
"Have you ever been forced to spread peace and cheer and goodwill to all dudes twenty-four seven?" said X, before taking another look at Daria and saying "Okay, right, dumb question. But it's boll- it sucks, man!"
"And the whole place is full of poseurs" said Halloween, the woman in a orange-and-black corset with skull and pumpkin decorations around her midriff.
"Arrr, I'd rather be keelhauled than spend five more minutes with that bilge rat April Fools!"
The holidays all shuddered as one at the sound of that name.
"Fair enough," said Daria. "What do I care if my hallucinations don't want to go to hallucination hell? As long as this isn't a sign of a brain tumour, I'm happy."
"This dream is a rumour, I'm getting a tumour…Be right back," said Trent, sloping off for his notebook.
"All right, time for International Pizza Day to go compile her report-"
X stared. "Internat- Whoa, I thought you looked familiar! Ewwww, we've been talking to a loser!"
"I knew you weren't cool!" spat Halloween.
"I think we better ditch the 'make holidays more vulgar' plan," Jane told Daria. "It's like having a plan to make Upchuck sleazy."
"…and that's just half of the list of fashion violations you're causing," Sandi told St Patrick's Day and Cupid, who looked like they wanted to kill themselves (or, more probably, her). "Stacy? Give them the AFBO."
Stacy handed over the Anti-Fashionable Behaviour Order, with the holiday's given names added. "This copy is for you, and we'll be keeping another for our own records."
"We'll be checking on you."
The Fashion Club walked out as Daria, Tom, and Jane walked in; Stacy wordlessly handed them more AFBOs.
"Paddy, Cupid. These are my local agents. We've got the fugitives."
"But they've made it clear they don't want to return to Holiday Island. And frankly, if that's their decision, I intend to abide by it."
The two looked at her as if she'd offered the Nobel Peace Prize to Colonel Gaddafi.
"B-b-but… Oh Jaysis, you're cracked, lass! If we don't get them back to Holiday Island, there'll never again be a Christmas, Halloween, Bonfire Night, and Talk Like A Pirate Day! The effects will have already started!" He thrust an iPhone at her. "Just look!"
Daria took the phone and looked. The browser was on 4chan, where a user was asking "hey what isthe deal with those weird masks anyway?" and another replied "I dunno".
"Huh. Okay, that's a… wait." Her eyes widened with horror. "Paddy, Cupid, forget everything I just said, we'll drag those suckers back."
"What? Anonymous can start wearing Spider-Man masks instead," said Jane.
"That's not it. The country – the Earth – is still recovering, slowly and haltingly, from the great recession. If Halloween and Christmas both cease to happen this year, the impact on America's economy..."
Jane paled. "Oh crap."
"A crash like that would make everyone at Fielding become middle class," whispered Tom. "One in five students will kill themselves…"
"For the greater good," said Daria grimly, "we're going to have to force the holidays to spend five more minutes with April Fools."
The holidays had the concept of the greater good explained to them. They considered it and responded "bollocks".
"All right," said Daria. "We tried reason. Now it's time for plan B." ("We had a plan?" asked Tom.)
"Oh no!" said X in mock-fear. "International Pizza Day's all mad! She might give us anchovies on our pizza, oh no!"
"She won't, will she?" asked Halloween, sounding genuinely worried.
Quinn stalked over, fixing her sister with a death glare. "Daria, you've sold out before and I've let it slide, but this time, you wanna enact your Plan B, you better be ready for pain!"
"Oh, but sis, Plan B is to ensure you always get to hang out with Bonfire Night." Daria paused for dramatic purposes. "Wherever he goes."
Quinn hugged her. "I LOVE YOU, SIS!"
"Bollocks, guys, I think she's serious…!"
"We can handle one wench, knave!" said Pirate Day.
"You what? Bollocks to that, you're not abandoning me to-"
"We could get a replacement for him," said Halloween, who then looked briefly at X and then away again – but not before he'd got the gesture.
"Hey, hey! You can't replace me too! Maybe we should replace you!"
As the band fell apart into bickering, Daria smirked: "I thought about it logically. I thought 'could I get them into conflict with each other' and realised 'they're a band'. Tom, I need you to stay here and carry out a list of activities to make Lawndale exceedingly unpleasant-" Pause. "More unpleasant for them. Jane, we're going to Holiday Island on a little intelligence gathering trip to make sure the holidays never come here again."
"Preventing further crises?"
"No, I just don't like these guys."
The wormhole behind Good Luck Chinese Restaurant turned out to be an actual hole in the wall. It led to, of all things, another Good Luck ("it's a chain") on a tropical island. Dead trees littered the place.
"So where are all the holidays?" Daria asked Cupid and St Patrick. "This place looks dead."
"Don't be daft, nobody goes to the beach in autumn," said Paddy. "Everyone's at the school."
Daria and Jane looked at each other. This sounded worrying. Then they saw they were walking towards a building that looked like a high school, and it became more worrying. Things crossed from "worrying" to "DEFCON One" when it turned out they had arrived at a fucking high school. Daria's mind swam with the sinister implications of such a thing, number one being 'am I sure I didn't die today and this isn't Hell?'. (The place looked like a repainted Lawndale High so the Hell theory seemed likely).
"Does this mean there are holiday colleges?" asked Jane.
"Pizza Day didn't fill you in on much, did she," said Paddy. "Nah, you're thinking of a high school. This only looks like one, it's actually much worse. We're immortals, we don't age – we never graduate."
Daria and Jane looked to each other, horror in their eyes as they realised what they were condemning the renegades to, and Daria began repeating "the greater good" like a mantra.
"It's not so bad," said Cupid. "We get Taco Friday in the cafeteria."
Extremely generic looking students were walking past them – Cupid explained "saint's days, who can keep track?".
"Said St Valentine's Day," said Daria.
"I got commercialised," he said proudly.
"What did you have beforehigh schools existed on Earth?" asked Jane, trying to find a way to rationalise the Tenth Circle they'd uncovered. "And what do you learn here, anyway? And are the teachers also holidays or are they-"
The school shook slightly, the lights dimmed, a crack appeared in the wall; the ghost-like entities ran screaming. Paddy scowled at Daria. "Damn it, Pizza Day, tell your mortal friend to stop pointing out the implausibility of our existence!"
"Jane, stop it. We can do it plenty once we're back in Lawndale." She turned to Paddy. "Okay, I can see why they left-"
"We all want to leave. Fecking bastard, leaving me behind after he claimed he loved-"
Cupid patted him. "Let it go, man. It's his loss."
"I just want him back-" Paddy realised the girls were looking at him and coughed. "A-Anyway, your guy can work on getting them to want to come back but the main problem is making sure the Presidents let them back in…"
"Hey, Pizza Day, I dunno what he's talking about here, can you explain the situation to me?" asked Jane, sounding oh-so-goddamn-innocent when she did so.
I'll kill you. "He's clearly referring to the holiday Presidents Day," she said, hoping that's what he referred to and equally hoping he'd join in the exposition.
"Yeah," said Paddy, disappointing her.
Okay, think, Daria. You can work this out. You know about high schools. You've seen enough bad TV to know the obvious tropes.
"Well, the renegades… are clearly popular holidays. And that means… the social scene is all… different now. And Presidents Day… has… got to the top of it… and… wants to stay there." I almost hope that's wrong because of how lame it sounds.
"It's a bad scene," said Cupid. "Everyone with middling popularity was so busy fighting it out, they left themselves wide open for the Presidents to divide and conquer. Once they had their gang – well, look:"
As if by narrative convenience, two teenage versions of Presidents Lincoln and Washington (who had Lincoln's beard despite being a teenager; Daria was almost impressed) were stalking down the hallways, backed up by three scowling thugs in differing army garbs. One Holiday, a terrified Mexican kid, tried to get his stuff from his locker and escape before they got there…
"Hey! Cinco de Mayo!" called out Lincoln, threatening. "You better have learnt the Pledge of Allegiance by now…!"
Based on Cinco's sudden flight, he hadn't.
"I cannot tell a lie, you're gonna get your ass kicked!" said Washington. "Victory Day, go give him a swirly!"
The Russian soldier ran off. The President's came nearer to Daria's group, giving them beady eyes and outstretched hands. Paddy and Cupid sighed, and began taking what Daria guessed was their lunch money out of their pockets (which confused her because where the heck did Cupid have pockets?)
"Aww yeah. By the people-"
"-for the Presidents!"
The group carried on, and Daria said: "Well, what do you expect from politicians."
The renegade holidays had fled the Lane's house after Tom had bet Trent that he couldn't play the opening chords to Come As You Are for a whole hour without any breaks. That was item two on Daria's list down, and item three was simple: find where Halloween had gone, take a photo of her, email it to Upchuck.
Upchuck appeared fast: "Well hello there, oh dark damsel of the night! I'll show you some of my tricks if you show me your treats…"
As a scream of "GET LOST!" split the air, Tom sent an anonymous text to the Fashion Club's Fashion Crisis Hotline, telling them where International Talk Like A Pirate Day was and that he had "omg a BEARD". He'd never know what hit him…
"If we don't neutralise Veterans, Victory and Anzac Days, any move we make will end in severe wedgies," said Paddy. "And if we don't get the old order back soon, we'll see other factions poppin' up to fight back and take power themselves and then everything will be in chaos – the Bank Holidays are already ganging up…"
"Alright, I might be able to sort this out," said Daria. "But first – you were sent on this mission, weren't you? I want to know who by."
Paddy and Cupid looked at each other, nodded. They led her to a nearby room, knocked a secret knock on the door, and then led her and Jane in. "Ramadan? International Pizza Day wants to chat."
Ramadan was an Arab teenager in conservative garb, looking quite refined and pious, an image ruined by the fact he was currently wolfing down a huge burger and getting sauce everywhere. "Yo."
"Aren't you supposed to be fasting?" asked Daria.
"Yeah, I didn't feel like it. Not like anyone can see me."
"You are a religious holiday. Let's get down to business: first off, why do you need to send agents and not yourself?"
"Oh, the Presidents would love the chance to make sure I can't come back to Holiday Island. It's just not safe. Plus, I hear Lawndale's really crap and I didn't want to go there."
"That's fair enough. Anyway, I think I have an idea – the renegade holidays are egotistical jerks in a band. AKA, a band. They want attention. If there's some way they could have a gig here…"
"There's a prom on tonight, but there's a band already booked – that's what the last straw was for the guys, Easter Monday, Good Friday, and Ascension Sunday getting booked and not them. Losing to a gospel-rock band? That's just embarrassing."
"Have one of your agents neutralise them and create an 'opening'. Then everyone can pretend 'oh no, we need a new band, can anyone save us' and in comes the cavalry. Lots of ego and genital massaging. That's a metaphor, by the way, don't actually do that."
"I got a guy who might be able to do it. But we still need to get past-"
"Oh, I got a whole bunch of guys for that…"
Tom had finally got all the holidays in place and was profoundly apologising to all of them. "Let me make it up to you guys. I'll buy you all pizza, my treat."
"What's the catch?" asked X, suspicious.
"No catch, I really will. Ever been to Pizza Forest before? You'll like it."
They didn't like it. Two minutes into the squirrel's song of Row Row Row Your Boat, Bonfire Night ended up screaming "BOLLLOOOOOOCCKSSSSSSS!" in a lengthy howl.
Then he started to shake and headbutt the table, yelling "BOLLOCKS BOLLOCKS BOLLOCKS BOLLOCKS" over and over. The other holidays paled, Halloween saying "Oh no, he's having one of his fits again! Someone set a fire, that calms him down!"
"Look, Labour Day, it's kind of you to offer but we're not interested in smoking pot," said Easter Monday.
The school's laziest stoner was confused on a fundamental level by someone not being interested in pot, but he'd been coached on what to say: "Cool bands smoke pot."
The Easter holidays looked at each other. "He's got a point," said Ascension Sunday.
"Yeah, man, I want people to think I'm cool!"
Desperate for the adoration of strangers, they borrowed some of Labour Day's own stash. (Don't do that at home unless you live in a hospital) Labour Day watched his handiwork, remembered he was supposed to tell Ram and Pizza about this, decided he couldn't be bothered, and lay back to a snooze.
"YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO BURN DOWN THE WHOLE RESTAURANT!" roared Tom as the group fled from the police.
"We didn't mean to," said a petulant Pirate Day (who'd lost half of his beard to a forcible shaving from the fashion club).
"I did," said Halloween.
Eventually, Ramadan and Daria had to go check Labour had succeeded.
"They could be out for three days! Once word spreads, the Presidents will put their men between the school and the wormhole, and then…"
"Then, this:" Daria dialled a number. "Hey, Quinn. There's these guys at Holiday Island who said you and your gang were pussies." She hung up. "That's that."
"How come you all speak English when you've all got different national heritages?" Jane asked.
The school began to shake again.
"FECKING QUIT IT ALREADY!"
"Okay, okay, I will." For a few minutes.
Tom finished his call with Daria and said to the holidays: "Hey guys, it turns out the band at Holiday High's prom can't make it and they need saving."
"…no," said X. "Did you – have you and that bitch been deliberately making Lawndale suck to make us go back?"
"Well, that kinda implies Lawndale doesn't suck as it is, but yeah. Is it working?"
"They never had Pizza Forest at Holiday Island," said Bonfire Night, all wistful.
The Maleficent Eleven had called up Death Rowe to fill out their numbers, as Burnout had headed away very fast (throwing spliffs away for some reason) when she'd been told about the holidays. Most of the gang were quite stunned to learn the existence of a bizarre parallel universe, but theological, scientific, and philosophical revelations didn't matter compared to some strangers dissing them.
"We're not pussies, THEY'RE pussies!" roared Dave, speaking for all of them.
Veterans, Victory, and Anzac Days were lounging outside the school entrance, deep in conversation – "No way did you score with her, man!" "Way!" – when they saw the incoming hooligans. They looked down, judged the odds, nodded to each other, and pulled out fucking eff-off great machine guns and fired away.
"CHEAT!" yelled Quinn as her gang ran like hell.
Daria stared at the window, and then turned to Ramadan: "They have guns?"
"They're not allowed them in school."
"You could have told me about this!"
"Come on, Pizza Day, what did you think they'd have?"
The gang trudged home through the wormhole, humiliated and beaten and in most cases having very soiled underwear.
"What's your sister doing there anyway?" Death Rowe asked Quinn.
"Oh, she's got this thing about saving the economy from Christmas failing." Quinn spat on the floor. "She's weird like that."
Death Rowe stiffened as she argued with herself about whether or not they should get further involved: the economy failing would be horrific. It could not stand. After a quick debate, she voted four to one (it had been three to two until Stacy realising economic disaster would impact on her clothes budget) to take action.
She made her excuses and then went to the nearest cache of paint canisters that Goggle-Eyes had left about town.
The thugs were back to their discussion – "and her tits are massive!" – when they saw Tom and the holidays coming up to the school. They sighed and went for their guns again, taking aim. Daria caught sight and had just enough time to scream out of a window for Tom to flee when-
When somethingstreaked across the beach and Anzac Day's chest exploded into red.
"AAAARG OH BLOODY HELL IT'S-"
"It's paint, you stuAAAAARG THAT HURTS!"
Victory Day fired off a shot before a paintball blasted the gun out of his hands – and then the masked figure was leaping up the school steps. He was grabbed and shoved stomach first onto the paintball gun, which fired pointblank into his guts ("OWWW bleeeeeuuuurrrrgggg").
Veterans Day charged and was kneecapped ("OW!"), falling face-first ("OW!").
Anzac Day stayed on his back, trying to edge backwards, whimpering. "N-No, d-don't-"
The figure shot him in the head.
Tom and the holidays stared in stunned surprise as the goggle-eyes girl walked back the way she came, nodding to them as she went. "The way is clear."
"Bollocks," whispered Bonfire Night.
"We're only doing this gig under protest," said Halloween, glaring at Daria and her fellows. "Once we're done, we're right out of here. We have no reason to stay."
Bonfire Night looked at St Patrick's Day with guilt.
"Nothing you can do can make us stay."
Then they went on stage and Ramadan, from the back of the crowd, started chanting "HOL-I-DAYS! HOL-I-DAYS!" (obvious and lazy, but in fairness the band were thinking of changing their name). The rest of the crowd, operating on herd instinct, assumed they should do this too, and on stage egos were massaged (but not genitals).
"HIT IT!" yelled Halloween.
"So I'm a bleeding holiday, there's more to my life than that," sung out Bonfire Night (badly) to the sudden noise. "I say I got normal dreams, normal desires, want to drive a normal car with normal tires, yeah! I'm a teen holiday and it sucks! I'm a teen holiday and it sucks! I'm a teen holiday and it sucks!"
Daria, Tom, and Jane listened and winced. "This is worse than that song Trent wrote about an irregular bowel movement he had," said Jane.
"Well, there is a reasonthe Easter dudes got picked over them," said Cupid.
Lincoln and Washington knew they were screwed: their muscle was MIA, and none of the Holidays were going to leave now they were attracting groupies. Their position was shot. The most sensible thing to do would be to find someplace to hide out until everything blew over.
They just had to get to the wormhole before-
A massive hand thumped down on both their shoulders. They looked up at the owner. And up. And up some more.
"Uh uh uh uh…"
"H-H-Hi, Grito de Dolores!"
"What's this I hear about you pickin' on my little brother?" growled the hulking, scarred figure of Mexico's independence day.
After the concert, Tom and Jane found Daria talking to… Daria?
"…so those guys will be thanking you and will say they owe you one, just pretend you know what they're on about," said Daria.
"So I'm going to become briefly popular," said the other Daria. "Damn. I'm getting punished for something I didn't do."
"Yeah, sorry about that. But you can get money out of them."
"Ah, a silver lining. For the next week, every order you make at Pizza King will have an extra topping free."
The two Daria's separated, the first joining Jane and Tom, the other heading off with a wave.
"Huh," said Tom. "And you thought you were so original."
"Come on, let's go before someone sees the two of us at the same time."
"Don't you need Cupid to undo what he did to your parents?" asked Jane.
"I asked earlier. He said it should sort itself out naturally."
Helen and Jake lay desiccated on the floor, unable to move and with all feeling lost below the belly.
"Water…" croaked Helen before falling unconscious.
St Patrick's Day and Bonfire Night ran into each at the punch bowl. Both of them had been planning to spike it.
"B.N.," said Paddy coolly. "Good gig."
"We may get some new ones on the back of it," said Bonfire Night, not looking at him.
"Leaving helped then?"
Cupid noticed the scene and concentrated…
"…oh, bollocks! I'm sorry, please forgive me! You know I love you!"
The two holidays kissed, sobbing that they'd never leave the other again, and Cupid walked off with a smile. He loved a happy ending.
(In Lawndale, Quinn yelled "SHIT!" out loud and wasn't entirely sure why)
Daria, Tom, and Jane walked back to the wormhole, away from the horrors of high school and towards the horror of a different high school.
"Should I care that absolutely none of this has made any sense?" asked Jane. (A small quake ran through the island and a star went out)
"I'm… I'm just…" Tom raised his hands in defeat. "Other dimensions really exist, and so does the supernatural! Can our lives really go back to normal after we've learnt that?"
"Don't worry," said Daria. "This has been such a bizarre and uncharacteristic thing to happen to us, I'm sure that when we get home we're going to deliberately forget this whole affair and any ramifications from it, and never mention it ever again." Daria turned to her readers. "And the same goes for all of YOU at home."
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This one was written because I have seen many Daria full-series AU's, and none of them had ever done an AU of this episode.
The Fifth of November is Guy Fawkes NIGHT, more commonly called Bonfire Night. That's ticked me off for ages.
International Pizza Day is a real day.