"Atomic Prom"
by Acrobat

Summary: The sequel to "Three Prommed Attack". The Lawndale Prom. The J's have hooked up with the Fashion Club; Quinn's stuck with Upchuck. Ms. Li's on a security rampage and the decor is unspeakable. Will they get through the Prom alive?

(Music, faintly: the end of "Stay or Go", the Clash. Daria stands in front of a nondescript wall.)

Daria: Good evening. I would say "good day," but since this is being read on the Internet, there's a really good chance that it's three a.m. wherever you are. Anyway, I'm not in this story at all. I spent the night of the prom hanging out with Jane and watching TV. That doesn't make for a very thrilling plot. So this story is mostly about Quinn. Some of you, including myself, may be tempted to bail right now. But for those of you brave and/or stupid enough to keep going, I may as well do the charitable thing for once and bring you up to speed. Lights! (lights out; slide projection appears behind her with a slide of some hideous prom preparations. Neon streamers are everywhere, and a double row of pillars made up to look like E.T.'s holding up Rubik's Cubes runs the length of the gym.) It was prom season, and somebody had the brilliant idea of making the theme "Awesome Eighties". In short: (she clicks a clicker; slide of Daria lying on her bed reading) I didn't go. Jane almost went, but didn't. (click: slide of Jane in a funky-ass outfit, mostly made of found objects) She kept the dress, though, in case she ever gets into performance art. (click: slide of Quinn working on a chart at the kitchen table with a mocking Daria behind her) Quinn had this grand scheme worked up to figure out who to take to the prom. But it took so long that she ended up missing the boat. (click: slide of Quinn wailing in the middle of the mall) So in an unbelievable deus ex machina, she ended up with the proverbial last guy on earth. (click: slide of Upchuck) That's it. Enjoy the story. (fade to black)

(Music: "Rio", Duran Duran. The Lawndale gym, transformed into a garish Day-Glo homage to the Eighties. The Fashion Club minus Quinn are standing around looking bored and critiquing everyone else's clothes.)

Tiffany: I can't believe she wore that. Do they even *make* that color anymore?

Sandi: I know. This stupid theme thing is, like, messing with people's fashion sense. It's not, like, a costume party.

Tiffany: It's soooo awful. (Quinn is sidling up behind them, but none of them notice. She has a shawl--matching her dress perfectly, of course--over her head.)

Sandi: It's one thing to have a little theme for the prom 'r something, but when it starts to interfere with people's choice of clothes, it's gone too far.

Quinn: (nervously, trying to blend in) Unless they actually have a good theme, you know, that doesn't clash with any of our outfits. (The Fashion Club all turns and stares.)

Sandi: Quinn. So you managed to show up.

Quinn: Of course! You think I was going to miss the *prom*?

Tiffany: Buuuuut...

Quinn: (cutting her off) So how have you been so far? I mean, with and everything. (She trails off, as it's obvious she's avoiding something.)

Sandi: Oh, we're fine. Joey, Jeffy, and...and the other guy just went to get us sodas. How is *your* date, Quinn?

Quinn: Fine, fine, everything's fine. (She looks around and pulls the shawl up a little more around her face.) But enough about me. What do you think of--

Sandi: All right, Quinn, what are you hiding from us?

Quinn: Nothing! What makes you think I'm hiding anything from *you*? I mean, you guys are my best friends! (Quinn slinks forward a little, so she is surrounded by the others.)

Sandi: You said "enough about me." The real Quinn would never say that.

Quinn: (laughs nervously) Don't be silly, Sandi! I'm just happy to be here with my *best pals!* (She grabs them in a group hug, ducking under the huddle at the last second. The other Fashion Clubbers knock heads and yelp. Behind them, Upchuck cruises by, looking for someone. When he's passed, Quinn comes back up for air.)

Sandi: What is your *problem*, Quinn? You're going completely psycho all of a sudden.

Quinn: (sighs, hangs head for a second, goes on in resignation) I'm stuck with the worst date ever. I can't avoid him all by myself. I need your help.

Sandi: (smugly interested) And this date would be...? (Quinn mumbles something) We didn't hear you!

Quinn: Upchuck Ruttheimer, okay? Now do you understand? This is the worst night of my life! I couldn't not go to the prom, but I can't be seen with that loser either! God, what did I do to deserve this?? You have to help me. I only need to make it to midnight, then I can get out before post-prom starts. Five hours. That's all I'm asking. (A microphone whine cuts through the crowd noise. The Fashion Club winces; they and the rest of the crowd turn to look toward one end of the gym. A stage has been set up there, festooned with more Day-Glo streamers and backdropped by a crowd of cardboard cutouts: Indiana Jones, ALF, Ex-Pres. Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, some Smurfs, Michael Jackson in the zippered leather jacket and glove, and the like. Ms. Li commands the microphone. She is in the school-spirit stratosphere by now.)

Ms. Li: Welcome, students, to "Awesome Eighties", this year's Lllllawndale Prom! I'd like to take this moment to thank the planning and decorating committee for their time and effort, and the Drama Horizons club for being such good sports at having their budget "redirected" to finance tonight's festivities. (Shot of a clump of students who are clearly not enjoying themselves. Ms. Li continues crisply.) The activities for tonight are as follows: regular Prom until midnight, followed by our Post-Prom party with more music, mock gambling, karaoke, and fun for everyone, until six a.m. sharp. At that time, you will all be escorted back to your vehicles and subjected to a breathalyzer or blood test before leaving school property.

Quinn: (who is still with the Fashion Club) Karaoke? How lame can you get? Thank God I'm getting out of here.

Ms. Li: For the safety of all our students, and to avoid possible lawsuits against the school for turning you little monsters loose in the streets in the middle of the night, *no one* will be permitted to leave the building until six o'clock. (Some mumblings of discontent from the audience. Quinn is stunned.) No exceptions! Now have a lovely night. (Ms. Li leaves the stage.)

(Quinn groans. Sandi smiles smugly. Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie return with sodas for the Fashion Club.)

Joey: Hi, Quinn! (Jeffy whispers something to him. More coldly) Hello, Miss Morgendorffer.

Jeffy: (also coolly) And how are you doing this fine evening? Since we weren't good enough for you.

Jamie: Yeah, how's your date? 'Cause he had to be the greatest guy in the school for you to blow us off and everything.

Quinn: Don't ask.

Sandi: Hey, guys, don't you think we should go over *there* for a while? We don't want to hang around the same people all the time. Especially the kind who would come to the prom with Chuck Ruttheimer. (Quinn winces. The J's are horrified.)

Jeffy: Poor Quinn! (Before the others can chime in, the Fashion Clubbers drag them off. Quinn watches, depressed, then walks away.)

(The gym again. Music: "Turning Japanese", the Vapors. Quinn is leaning against one of the E.T. pillars, looking sorry for herself.)

Upchuck's Voice: (from not far enough away) Oh, Quii-iinnn... (Quinn looks around, then ducks behind one the pillar.) Playing hard to get? Rrrrrr, feisty! (He cruises by the pillar where Quinn hides, then passes by. Quinn sighs in relief.)

Bored Voice: All right, can you raise your chin just a little? The lights are glaring off your head.

Brittany's Voice: I told you, Kevvie! You're ruining our picture! (Quinn looks to see what's going on. Kevin and Brittany are in the photographer's corner; the backdrop is as garish as the rest of the room. Brittany is wearing a blue dress with a yellow corsage. Kevin is in a real suit, though he still carries a football, and his head is startlingly bald.)

Kevin: I had to do it, babe! It was for the *team!* It's like--the honor system or something! You just gotta do stuff like that!

Brittany: So the team is more important than our prom picture? This lasts forever, Kevin! What if I become famous, and they find this picture? I'll look stupid! And it's all because of you!

Jodie: (in line) Well, maybe not *all* because of him...

Photographer: (without enthusiasm) Smile, please. (Brittany sulks; Kevin smiles a huge, vapid grin, with the football held high. The photographer takes the picture. We see a shot of that picture for a second, frozen for all the future to see.) Next!

(Kevin and Brittany leave the backdrop, and Jodie and Mack take their place. Mack has also shaved his head, but he carries it off a bit better. Kevin and Brittany pass the pillar where Quinn is hiding.)

Brittany: Hey, why are you so bummed out? Something your stupid *boyfriend* did?

Quinn: It's…kind of a long story. (There is an all-too-familiar whiny call in the distance. Quinn leans in to Brittany and mutters conspiratorially) You have a run in your stockings.

Brittany: What?!? (She bends with all her cheerleader "agility", trying to see it, but finds nothing.) I have to find a mirror! (She rushes off, leaving Kevin with Quinn.)

Quinn: Well, Kevin, since you don't have anyone to dance with right now...

Upchuck's Voice: Quiiii-iiinn... I know you're around here somewhere!

Quinn: (dumping the niceness) Okay, baldy, let's dance. (She grabs Kevin and swings him around, mostly to block herself from the room's view. Music shifts into "Whip It" by Devo.)

Kevin: (surprised, but starting to be impressed) All riiiight!

(They dance for a bit; Quinn is mostly trying to look for Upchuck and/or hide from him. They almost collide with Jodie and Mack, returned from the photo area.)

Kevin: Hey, Mack Daddy!

Mack: Don't call me that. Where's Brittany?

Kevin: Aw, she had to go do some girl stuff.

Jodie: Riiiight. Hey, you're Daria's sister, right? Quinn?

Quinn: If you're talking about Daria Morgendorffer, I am her *cousin*, not her sister. Puh-leeze.

Jodie: (shrugs) So are you having a good time?

Quinn: It's...interesting.

Jodie: (trying to be nice) And Kevin? How are you and Brittany doing?

Kevin: Great! Except she's not so happy about us losing the playoffs and stuff. The dance is great, though. You know, Brittany was on the prom committee.

Jodie: I know. I was on it too. But I couldn't stop them from going through with their big idea.

Quinn: So you guys can't stand it either?

Mack: Are you kidding? It's awful. But we've decided not to let it stop us from having a good time.

Brittany's Voice: Kevv-ieeeee! Who are you dancing with?

Quinn: Gotta go. Thanks a lot. (She ducks out and into the crowd.)

(Music: "Relax", Frankie Goes to Hollywood. More of the prom. The Fashion Club and the J's are standing around, as they were at the beginning. The J's look even more bored than the Fashion Club.)

Tiffany: Do you think this dress makes me look fat?

Sandi: No, it's fine.

Tiffany: How about the shoes?

Sandi: No, the shoes are great. But do you think these wall decorations are making the color of my dress look too green?

Tiffany: Hmm... (She and Stacey ponder this for a minute.)

Sandi: We could always go over there instead.

Jeffy: (weakly) Hey, I have an idea. Why don't we dance for a while?

Sandi: (gives him a withering look) And mess up our hair and outfits? I don't think so.

Joey: Then why don't we--

Sandi: I have an idea. Why don't you stop messing up our prom?

Tiffany: Everyone knows the guys are just supposed to be dragged along. They're not supposed to *like* it.

Stacy: Yeah. Just stand there and look bored.

Jeffy: I don't think that'll be a problem. (The J's step back a bit and converse. The Fashion Club goes on as if nothing had happened.)

Stacy: Did you *see* that girl with the orange dress?

Tiffany: I saw the most disgusting thing--this guy had a jacket on with no shirt. And he wasn't even hot.

Sandi: It's like they don't know the difference between good retro and bad retro. (Meanwhile, the J trio are having their own conference.)

Jamie: Guys...I hate to say this but...

Jeffy: This prom has sucked from the first second?

Jamie: Yeah.

Joey: I think it's time we do something about it.

Jeffy: You mean...

The J's: (together) We have to find Quinn! (They form a huddle for a moment, as if gathering their nerve.) Break! (They take their places behind the Fashion Club, Jeffy with Sandi, Joey with Stacy, and Jamie with Tiffany.)

Joey: Um...ladies...would you like us to get you some sodas?

Jeffy: I remember the last time Quinn asked us to get her a soda...

Jamie: Shhh!

Sandi: Okay, whatever. Just make sure you get diet this time.

Jamie: Um, sure. We'll be right back. (The J's make their escape.)

(Music: "Take On Me", a-ha. Yet more Lawndale gym-as-retro-nightmare. Quinn is standing around, still looking none too pleased, when the inevitable Upchuck appears from the crowd. He spots Quinn for sure this time. Quinn looks around for an excuse, sees none, and takes off running. Upchuck follows. Quinn runs out of the gym and through some twisting hallways; she looks back to find that Upchuck is running after her. He is inexplicably carrying a wrench. Quinn reaches the ladies' room and flings herself through the door. Safe at last, she leans against the wall and catches her breath. Outside, Upchuck scowls for a second. Another girl emerges from the restroom, and his scowl vanishes in a smarmy smile.)

Upchuck: Hey, how'd you like to make this an even *better* best night of your life?

Girl: How about I make this the last night of your life?

Upchuck: Oooooh, feisty!

Girl: Bob? See this little weasel here? He hit on me. (A shadow falls over Upchuck.) Thanks, honey. (Cut to Quinn in the restroom, as we hear a loud thud outside.)

Quinn: (thinking in voice-over) Okay. This is supposed to be one of the best nights of my life, next to senior prom, of course, and of course the other two in between, but it's absolutely horrible. I can't take this anymore. I *shouldn't* have to take this anymore. I should be having a good time! I bought the dress, I did everything right. This is *my* prom night, dammit. I'm not going to let that skinny twerp spoil it for me. (Quinn checks her makeup in the mirror, touches up, fixes her hair--which looks exactly the same as in the beginning, actually--and goes to the door. She peeks out to see if the coast is clear, then sneaks out.)

(Even yet more Lawndale gym, continued. Music: "Goody Two Shoes", Adam Ant. Quinn stands a little more defiantly by the wall now, maybe even half-enjoying herself, though she still glances warily around the gym now and then. Out of the crowd burst three familiar figures in suits, who fling themselves to their knees in front of Quinn.)

The J's: Quinn!!

Joey: We finally found you!

Jamie: Will you forgive us, Quinn?

Joey: We were *so wrong*...

Jeffy: We can't stand your friends anymore!

Jamie: They're horrible!

Joey: They won't dance--

Jeffy: --or talk to us--

Joey: --or make out, or anything!

Jamie: Not that we tried, of course.

Jeffy: Of course.

Joey: We're so sorry we didn't wait for you.

Jeffy: It won't happen again.

Jamie: We promise. (Quinn, who has been soaking all this up, sees Upchuck across the room. She cocks an eyebrow and smiles.)

Quinn: It's all right, guys. Really.

Jamie: Really?!?

Joey: Oh, thank you!!

Quinn: (mock-doubtfully) Welll...

Joey: What?

Jeffy: We'll do anything!

Quinn: Wellll, maybe I'd feel a little better if you took me out for a soda. (glancing up) Like right now. (The J's leap to their feet.)

Jamie: Sure, Quinn!

Jeffy: Whatever you say!

Joey: I'm so glad to have you back, Quinn!

Quinn: Sure, sure, let's go. (The foursome heads off to the nearest door, but are stopped by a security guard.)

Guard 1: Sorry, kids. No one gets out before six.

Quinn: But it's only twelve-thirty! And I *have* to get out of here! You don't understand!

Guard 2: You heard the principal. No students leave the building until six a.m. sharp.

Quinn: But--

Guard 2: Nope.

Quinn: It's an emergency!

Guard 1: I don't see any emergency. Scoot.

Quinn: (finally giving up) Fine, if you say so. Come on, guys. (Quinn and her entourage shuffle off.)

(Son of even yet more Lawndale gym part II. Music: "Don't You Forget About Me", Simple Minds. Quinn and her J's mope in a pack, not that far away from the door. The rest of the promgoers are having the time of their lives...except for a clump of about half a dozen students, also moping, next to Quinn and her guys. Quinn notices them after a while, and greets them for something to do.)

Quinn: So why are you guys all moping around?

Drama Student 1: You didn't hear General Li's announcement?

Drama Student 2: We're the Drama Horizons club. She stole our entire year's budget.

Quinn: So?

Drama Student 3: Do you know how many stupid candy bars we have to sell to make up for that?

Drama Student 4: (miserably) And raffle tickets...

Drama Student 2: Magazine subscriptions...

Drama Student 5: (with heavy disgust) Submarine sandwiches. (They all shudder.)

Drama Student 1: This night has been dismal. All we can think of is how much we're going to pay for this dumb dance.

Drama Student 3: And we look like idiots for having sold out to Li.

Drama Student 4: What's worse, our own advisor let her do it!

Drama Student 5: We're lucky he didn't let her sell off all the props and costumes, too. (A glimmer of craftiness dawns on Quinn's face.)

Quinn: Props and costumes?

Drama Student 1: Yeah, they're upstairs.

Quinn: (gathering the drama club and the J's around her) Listen carefully. We might just get out of here alive...

(Music: the synthesizer solo from "What's On Your Mind", the Information Society. Closed door with nameplate that reads "Drama Horizons".)

Drama Student 1's Voice: No! More authority!

Jamie's Voice: Uh, stand aside! The real cops have...have...Line!

Drama Student 4's Voice: "Have *arrived*."

Jamie's Voice: Stand aside! The real cops have arrived! How's that?

Drama Student 1's Voice: Better.

Jamie's Voice: How do I look, Quinn?

Quinn's Voice: Fine, uh...Officer What's-his-name.

Jeffy's Voice: Hey, Quinn, you look pretty hot, even in that stupid outfit.

Quinn's Voice: Um, thanks, Jeffy. (The activity in the room increases.)

Drama Student 2's Voice: Can you hand me that eyeliner?

Drama Student 3's Voice: You do have keys to these, right?

Drama Student 5's Voice: I never knew suffering through "Grease" and "West Side Story" two years in a row would ever come in handy.

Drama Student 1's Voice: All right, does everyone know their lines?

Everyone: Yes.

Drama Student 1: Let's go.

(The Drama Horizons club, the J's, and Quinn emerge nervously from the door. Half of them are dressed as police officers, though their uniforms don't exactly match each other, and bits and pieces of their prom outfits are still visible--a tie here, a hair clip there. The other half are dressed as scruffy juvenile-delinquent types, partly in their original prom gear, partly in hand-me-downs from "Grease", partly in clothes scrounged from villains' costumes. The overall effect is not entirely convincing. The ones playing delinquents are handcuffed, as if being escorted by the ones playing cops. The J's, all dressed as cops, are jostling to be the one who "arrests" Quinn.)

Drama Student 1: Okay people, you know what to do. (The whole band shifts into a circle as the speech becomes more, well, dramatic.) We're acting for more than applause tonight. More than good reviews. Even more than Art itself. We're acting for the dignity of our company…and even for our lives. Now break a leg!

Joey: never said we had to do anything painful.

Jeffy: I'll break *my* leg if it helps Quinn.

Jamie: Me, too.

Joey: Uh, yeah. Forget it. I'll do it too. (The drama leader sighs, shaking his head.)

(The drama-fashion alliance strides grimly down the hall; we hear "Mission: Impossible" in the background. It fades as they reach the gym. The post-prom festivities have started; most of the promgoers are exhausted at this point. Upchuck, however, is on the karaoke stage, yowling Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual." The pseudo cops and punks make their way to the door, where the security guards are drinking punch.)

Jamie: Stand aside! Um... (He forgets his line.)

Drama Student 1: (dressed as a cop; scrambling to fill the gap) We've been called about a disturbance involving some minors who were smoking and starting fights on school grounds. Everything's under control. Stand aside, please.

Guard 1: We never heard anything about a disturbance.

Guard 2: We didn't see any squad cars, either.

Drama Student 5: (a cop) Would you like to be reported to your superiors? Or maybe you'd like to come along with us.

Guard 2: (suspiciously) You look kinda young to be on the force.

Drama Student 1: (quickly) It's the danger. Keeps you on your toes.

Drama Student 5: (pushing past the guards) Excuse us? (The guards shrug as the pack marches through, and go back to sipping punch. The students march as far as the street, then unlock all the handcuffs and let out a huge cheer.)

Drama Student 1: And you said my direction lacked sensitivity?!? In your face, O'Neill!

Quinn: You saved my life! I'll never make fun of you drama geeks again, I swear.

(The drama club high-fives each other and run off to find their cars. Quinn throws off her fake leather jacket and fishnet gloves, and, after a moment's thought, the shawl she'd hidden under.)

Quinn: Hey guys, why don't we go get a soda?

Joey: I'll drive!

Jeffy: No, I'll drive! (They continue arguing. Quinn sighs happily.)

(Guess-where. The Fashion Club are standing around as they have been since the start. Upchuck screeches through Prince's "Kiss", until the security guards drag him off the stage.)

Sandi: Where *are* those guys with our sodas?

(Shot of a car driving off into the sunrise.)

Joey: So, Quinn, which one of us are you taking next year?

Quinn: Shut up and drive, Joey.

(The End. Music: Save Ferris' remake of "Come On Eileen.")