A Gift From Danny
a Doom Patrol fanfic
"What about jewellery?"
"There are no jewellery stores open now!"
The man stretched out his hands in exasperation. "Let's just buy that box of chocolates! We need to be at Carol's place in an hour!"
"I'm not giving my sister a box of chocolates for her birthday! She'd never let me hear the end of it!"
The man sighed and walked along the street. It was starting to get empty.
"Mabel! Look at that!" He tugged his wife's arm and pointed to a side street, with a row of inviting little shops.
"What, George?" She turned her head. "I've never seen that street before. They must have rebuilt the city since the last time we went out."
George sighed and kept shut.
"Let's look at it", Mabel said and turned towards the street. "Most of the shops are probably closed now, but if we're lucky..."
George glanced at the sign. 'Danny St'. When did they start using people's first names for streets?
Mabel went up to the first store on the street and peered up at the sign. "Help! The Children's Clothes Store'?" She turned to George. "I suppose that's funny."
"What about this?" George said and pointed to another shop. "Your sister needs a new coffee maker, doesn't she?"
Mabel glanced at the sign above the window. "''The Scissormen Are Coming Hardware Store'?" She wrinkled her nose. "I don't get it."
"Businesses today have to be clever, what with the Internet and everything", George said. "It's all about marketing!"
"Well, I'm not giving my sister a coffee maker!"
They walked along the street. "What about a cookbook? Your sister loves cooking!" George pointed to a small bookstore squeezed in between two larger buildings. On the window was painted a round, green sign that said, 'You Must Read Books & Papers'.
"I gave her that last year, remember?"
They walked past the next few windows. 'Hurry Up! Sports'. 'Your World Is In Danger! Ecological Products'. 'The Sit Down And Read Coffe Shop'.
"Is there nothing useful on this street?" Mabel said.
"You tell me", George said and looked around impatiently. Across the street a dog sat and looked at them. People should take better care of their pets, he thought.
"Oh, look at this!" Mabel pointed to a quaint little shop with a painted wooden door. Hanging above the sidewalk, a large metallic sign said, 'They don't have a clue, do they? Beauty & Cosmetics'.
"Carol loves those green algae thingies you smear on your face", Mabel continued. "Let's go in!" Mabel stretched for the doorknob, when George suddenly turned around.
"What was that?" he said.
"What was what?"
"I thought I heard a 'snip'. Like from a scissor."
"There's no one here, George. Come on now."
George eyed the street behind him curiously. He noticed the dog was gone. Then he turned and followed Mabel through the door.
"Hello? Is there anyone here?" Mabel looked around. "Seems like they're on a coffee break."
George stayed close to the door, unsure of what to do.
"Just our luck. We find an open shop, and there's no one to serve us!" Mabel said. "Hello?!"
Mabel and George left the shop empty-handed. A drop of rain hit George on the head.
"Oh... not that too!" he said. He dug for some coins in his pocket and went over to a paper stand. He went back to Mabel with the paper in his hand. "So we have something to cover us with if it gets worse."
Mabel looked at the paper. "'The Daily Danny'? When did that start to come out?"
"Oh, I get it!" George said. "It's a gimmick! That's why they changed the name of the street to Danny! It's a festival or something!"
Mabel looked around. "Not much people for a festival!"
"It's only during the days, of course! And then they make a special edition of The Daily Trumpet to fit the theme!" A thought struck him. "Maybe they have some special offers." He read the main headline. "'The Scissormen Are Coming!'"
"That's the name of the hardware store down the street", Mabel said.
"See, what did I tell you?" George said triumphantly. "It's a marketing ploy! Let's see...'The book of Orqwith has been rewritten...'"
"The bookstore was called 'Help!' something."
"This must be something else. Let me read, will you? 'The town is now run by the barber, who shaves everyone who doesn't shave themselves.' Hum, sounds like a riddle."
"Of course he does. Why would a barber shave someone who shaves himself?"
"I don't know, Mabel. Let me read the rest of the riddle. 'The barber says, If I don't exist, I can't shave myself. But if I don't shave myself, I am shaved by the barber who shaves everyone who don't shave themselves. Who is me, so exist I must.'" George looked up from the paper. "Huh. He got me there." Then he continued reading. "'It is vital that someone solves this parendox --'"
"Paradox", Mabel said.
"' -- paradox, or the world will be overrun by his scissormen.' Huh. What do you make of that?"
"There must be a prize if you solve the riddle", Mabel said.
"Oh yeah, at the hardware store!"
"Or at the barber's."
"Not many barbers around these days, are there, Mabel?"
"They mean a hairdresser, silly." Mabel pointed at her head. "You have to think outside the box."
"Anyway, we don't have time for this", Mabel said and started walking. "We must get a present for my sister."
George started walking after her, when he heard a loud snip! and the creaking of metal behind him. He turned his head and looked. There was nothing there. Nothing. Wait, wasn't there a large sign above the store just a minute ago?
"Mabel, wasn't there a large sign outside this store?"
"I don't hear you, George. Come along!"
George looked suspiciously at the darkening street behind him and followed Mabel.
"Here George! This is perfect!"
George looked up at the sign above the shop. "Danger! Keep away! Clothes and Bijouterie"
"What's a bijouterie, Mabel?"
"It's those things girls have in their hair." She disappeared into the store. George looked around and followed her.
"Hello?" Mabel said.
The store was only half-lit, and packed full of tall clothes racks. Deep within them, something moved.
She turned to George. "Finally! A store with some staff in it!" She cleared her throat. "Excuse me, can you help me and my husband? We're looking for a present for my sister."
"Clue beauty a don't they cosmetics." The voice coming from behind the clothes racks was jagged and disjointed, as if someone had cut up an old magnetic tape and then glued together the pieces in random order.
"What's with him?" George said.
"He must be drunk", Mabel said.
"Don't be insulting!" George said. "He's probably just foreign."
There was a loud snip! from behind the racks.
Mabel turned towards the clothes racks again and spoke as clearly as she could. "Excuse me, can you help us?"
Snip, snip. Snip, snip.
"He's working, Mabel. Some of those foreigners work a lot harder than any of us, I tell you."
A small object came flying through the air and landed beside them.
"What's that?" Mabel said.
Snip, snip. Snip, snip.
George bent down. "It looks like a dog collar." He held it up. It was cut apart and smeared with dog hairs.
"Belongs they beauty reward dog to." The voice sounded closer this time.
"Let's just wait here until the man is done, all right?"
Snip, snip. Snip, snip.
"Ok, George." Mabel seemed deep in thought. Then suddenly, she said, "Oh! I think I got it!"
Snip, snip. Snip, snip. The clothes were swaying beside them.
"The riddle! If the barber exists, he shaves everyone who doesn't shave themselves. So if he doesn't shave himself, he must shave himself. But if he shaves himself, he's not allowed to shave himself. So he can't exist!
"That's bloody clever, Mabel! That must be it!"
There was a thumping sound just beside them, and the snipping stopped.
"Hello?" George said. "Are you there?"
There was no answer. They peered in among the racks.
"Don't tell me this one absconded too!" Mabel said.
"It bloody looks like it." They checked among the clothes racks, but there was no trace of any store clerk.
Mabel went up to the counter. "Hello? Anyone else here?" She waited for a moment. "Well, just our luck!" she said. "Come on. Let's go!"
"Wait", George said. "What's that?" He pointed to a small bowl on the counter. Behind it was a sign that said, "Prize for solving the riddle."
"Oh. That must be another contest", Mabel said. "It was supposed to be at the hardware store. Or the hairdresser's, remember?"
"Oh right", George said. "Let's get out of here."
They walked to the entrance, where there was a large sign almost blocking their way. It said, "Prize for the contest in The Daily Danny on the counter. Everyone who solves the riddle gets one. Please serve yourself."
"Oh", George said, "it is the right prize! Aren't we lucky!"
"Let's get it then", Mabel said. "We really need to find a present for my sister now." She went up to the counter and looked into the bowl. "Only one left", she said with a disappointed tone. "The worst ones are always taken last, you know."
"Just take it, Mabel!"
Mabel stuck her hand into the bowl and picked up a brooch made of glass. "Oh, it's pretty!" she said, and held it up to a little lamp standing on the counter. George leaned over to look at it. The glass was stretched into a thin string and then bent to form letters, and the glass had different colours and was thicker and thinner in different places. It looked really nice.
"Oh!" Mabel said. "Look what it says!" She held it up to George.
"'Carol'... Well what about that! It makes sense we would have luck some time! Now let's hurry up and we'll get to your sister in time!"
Mabel and George hurried back along the street. They exited the same way they had come from, and behind them, the brick walls shimmered, reality blinked, and Danny the Street was gone to a brighter and sunnier place for some well-deserved rest.
Credits: Danny the Street, The Scissormen and Orqwith created by Grant Morrison. Mabel and George created by Jonas Islander. The Barber created by Jonas Islander, based on Bertrand Russell's paradox.