0RL11 21 December 2009
This story was written for the 2009 TSFFC writing competition where it took first place. The contest rules required picking from a predetermined set of beginnings, middles, and ends, and weaving a story around them. The elements used in this story were:
A package arrives
Someone changes their appearance
Someone is responsible for that mess
There is a profound need for booze
Someone gets..... AMNESIA
An old friend returns
Someone returns to work
Someone decides to return to the way things were
The world ends.
That unremarkable object in part 1 turns out to be the secret
I'd like to thank Futurama_Freak1 and an unidentified fangirl for the inspiration for this story, and Ramon, Dingsda, and Tornadoboy for their reviews and technical assistance. And a special thanks to kaspired for this great promo pic he drew.
The only part of Amy Wong that was still outside the access panel on the bridge of the Planet Express ship was her boots, which moved up and down in synch with her grunted exertions trying to reach a poorly placed connection. Leela stood by observing, happy for once that she wasn't the one having to crawl into the bowls of the ship.
“Almost … got …. GAHHHH!” Amy's muted voice exclaimed, punctuated by a “buzzzt” and a momentary dimming in the lights.
Over a torrent of muffled angry sounding Martian, Leela sniffed the air.
“Is it lunch time yet? Suddenly I'm hungry for some Hunan chicken.”
Amy crawled out of the panel.
“There. Try it now.”
Leela walked over to a console and pressed a button. In the distance they heard a “Ding dong”.
Amy looked puzzled. “Guh! That sounded like the door bell. That isn't what that circuit was supposed to do.”
“That was the door bell.” Leela said. “This didn't work. Let's break for lunch.”
As she and Amy were descending the steps from the ship, the door bell rang again.
“Is anyone gonna get that.” Leela called out.
The professor shuffled into view. “Yes, yes. I'm getting it as fast as I can.”
Leela sighed as she and Amy turned down the hallway that would take them to the rest room to wash up. A few minutes later as they were returning to the conference room, a bloodcurdling scream came from around the corner ahead, followed a moment later by a panicked Fry making his best 'delivery gone wrong and the customers are shooting at me' speed.
As Fry bolted past them and up the stairs at the far end of the hallway, an angry looking Omicronian came around the corner wielding a human horn harvesting apparatus. Leela instantly jumped, spun, and with a “Hi Ya!” sent her boot-clad foot directly at the head of the alien. Instead of the bone crushing impact she was expecting, it was soft and rubbery, rebounding her rather further than she was prepared for, causing her to loose her balance and land on her back.
To the collective surprise of both Leela and Amy, the Omicronian slowly topped over backwards. It's feet and arms moved weakly, unable to roll over or get up.
Meanwhile the still panicking Fry had rushed into the professor's lab at the top of the stairs. He paused, looking around frantically, realizing that there were only two ways out – back the way he'd come or by jumping off the balcony. Spotting an old wooden telephone booth with opaque windows over in the corner, he ran for that, closed the door, and tried to be invisible.
Outside the booth, a light above the door blinked on with a small “beep”.
Leela and Amy stood over the still twitching Omicronian.
“Alright, who are you and what are you doing here?” demanded Leela.
“Oh, Lordy Lou.” it said in Professor Farnsworth's voice. A moment later there was a “bleep” and the Omicronian wavered and dissolved.
“Professor?” Leela gasped, helping the old man up. “What are you doing?”
“Eh? Oh, I'm just testing the costume I ordered for the Academy of Sciences new years party. It just came. See ...” he said, unclasping a small box from his belt. “It's a holographic projection. With 360 degree surround and ...”
“Professor!” Leela interrupted, “You scared Fry. Amy, you go see if there are any messes to clean up, I'll find where he's hidden and try to coax him out.”
Tick. Tick. Tick. Ding!
The door on the telephone booth slowly opened with a quiet hiss. Fry tentatively peeked out. Seeing no signs of his former pursuer, and hearing no sounds of mayhem from downstairs, he eased out of the booth. He jumped when it snapped shut behind him, but as the seconds ticked by and nothing else unexpected happened, he tiptoed to the door that led out of the lab. With still nothing amiss, he cautiously made his way down the steps. The lobby was deserted, so he ran as quickly and quietly as he could for the exit and made time for home.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Ding!
The door on the telephone booth slowly opened with a quiet hiss. Fry stepped confidently out of the booth and looked around. Spotting a mirror on the other side of the lab, he went over and checked his hair, primping it with his hand.
Out in the corridor, Leela moved slowly and quietly. She whistled.
“Here Fry.” She said softly. “Come on out. It's gone. Look, ...” she said, holding out a Slum, “look what I've got for you.”
“Hey Leels.” Fry said stepping out of the lab. “You're looking good. Slurm? You shouldn't drink that stuff. It'll ruin those pretty perfect white teeth of yours.”
“Oh, Fry. Thank goodness. There you … wait a sec, what did you just say?”
“I said that drinking that would ruin the perfect smile and stunning figure you've got. Why don't we go over to my place? I've got some Lake Erie mineral water I've been saving for a special occasion, and the occasion doesn't get any more special than you.”
Leela blinked in confusion.
“All right Fry, drop the lounge lizard act before I drop you. Come on.”
“Baby, I'll follow you anywhere.”
“I found him.” Leela called out as she started down the stairs.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Ding!
The door on the telephone booth slowly opened with a quiet hiss. Fry, sporting dyed black hair that hung over his eyes and a black T-shirt with the emblem of a long-dead band, stepped out and looked around. He meandered over to the nearest lab table and sniffed the contents of a test tube, then poured the liquid on his arm. He watched for a moment.
“Meh.” he said. Dropping the test tube on the floor, he sauntered out of the lab.
“I don't get it, Leela.” Amy said, staring at the still dead panel. “It should be working.”
“I know. Let's recheck the 0Z4 circuit ...”
Leela was interrupted by the bridge door opening.
“Hey guys, what up?” Fry said.
“Oh, hi Fry … wait, when did you get glasses?” Amy asked.
Fry set the tool box he was carrying down. “I've had 'em for a while. Heard you were having some trouble so I thought I'd come help.”
“Appreciate the offer, but we really don't need any Lake Erie mineral water.” Leela replied.
“Mineral water? No thanks. I brought some Code Mauve Slurm with me. Want some? So what'cha working on? Oh ..” he picked up the blueprints that were laying on the console. “trouble with the Coke syrup distribution manifold again? I bet I know what that is. Have it fixed in a jiffy ...”
Fry grabbed his tool box and disappeared out the door.
Leela and Amy looked at each other in confusion.
“What just happened?” Leela asked. Amy shrugged.
“Leela, mon.” Hermes called as Leela poured her afternoon cup of coffee. “How's 'dem repairs commin'? We gonna have a lot of deliveries to do tomorrow.”
“Everything's all good to go, Hermes. This surprises me more than anyone, but Fry's been a big help. I don't know what's got into him all of a sudden. Maybe it's the glasses.”
Hermes looked surprised. “What do ya mean, woman? Fry's been in me office ever since lunch, and he isn't wearin' glasses.”
Now it was Leela's turn to look confused. “Your office? He couldn't have been, he's been with Amy and I in the ship for the last three hours, and he has glasses ...”
“Friends!” Zoidberg interrupted, waddling into the room smelling like a dumpster on a hot afternoon. “Look what my good friend Fry found for me! Such a feast!”
He shoved a maggot laden cardboard bucket under Leela's nose. She gagged and turned away.
“Now wait a minute ya filthy crab. Ya say Fry found it for you? When was this?”
“It was just now, it was. He knows where all of the good dumpsters are. Such a connoisseur he is. You could all learn valuable things from him, you could.”
“You're full of it, Zoidberg. Full of whatever your species excrements. Fry was with me. I never knew he could sort and file like that. Now that he's finally showin' some initiative, he's a born bureaucrat.”
“But ..” Zoidberg started to say.
“Hermes, ...” Leela interrupted, “You're both full of it. Fry was with Amy and me on the ship. And he has a surprising amount of technical ability. What's going on around here anyway?”
“Maybe we could ask the authority guy.” Zoidberg said, pointing.
Leela and Hermes looked up to see a Fry – this one had his orange hair, although cropped close to his head, and the nose with the hump in it – but looked to be about thirty pounds lighter and more muscular than the regulation issue Fry. He was also wearing a military combat uniform and carrying a large rifle. He came to the bottom of the stairs, looked around, and walked directly over to the group.
“Good afternoon. Fry, Philip J., corporal, U.S.M.C., reporting for duty. Where might I find the commanding officer?”
Leela carefully looked over his lean, hard frame, well pressed clothing, and neatly organized accoutrements. “Now this is more like it.” she thought.
“Fry, mon, what are you playin' at now? Did you get that filing from 2993 organized yet?”
“Negative, Sir. I need to see the commanding officer immediately. Would you please direct me to him or her?”
“Hey, Zoidberg, save some of that for me. Hey, everyone. What up? Who's the stiff?”
A second Fry had walked up behind Zoidberg, this one with dirty, torn, and stained clothing.
“Sweet twin of Berlin!”
“Excuse me Mr. Conrad … hey .. what???” a third very confused Fry, this one wearing a red vest and sporting a green visor on his head, was looking at the other two Frys.
“Well, this fails the senses.” Leela said.
At that moment the black haired Fry sauntered past the group. “Hey. S'up?” he said to no one in particular. He went to the refrigerator and looked inside. “Do we have any razor blades?”
“Ok.” Leela said. “I don't know what's going on here but we've got to get a handle on it before it destroys the universe. Hermes, go arm the security system. Lock the building down, full Santa mode.” She turned to Marine Fry, “Corporal, I am Captain Turanga Leela. We have an emergency situation. I need you to round up everyone who looks like you and get them all in the lounge.”
“Aye, aye, Ma'am!” he said, snapping to attention. He turned, racked his weapon, and shouted “All right, you, you, you, and you! You heard the Captain, she wants you in the lounge on the double! Let's move it!”
The other Frys grumbled and whined, and, with varying degrees of alacrity, headed towards the lounge.
“Zoidberg,” Leela ordered, “go round everyone else up. We need to have a conference.”
“Hooray, I'm useful.”
“Get back here you theivin' skin tube!”
“Now what?” Leela sighed.
Yet another Fry staggered into the room clutching several bottles. His forward motion overran his ability to control his legs and he fell to the floor, bottles breaking all around him. He laid there, face down in a pool of booze, and moaned.
“Where is he? I'll kill him!” Bender stormed into the room. Sliding to a stop at the sight of broken bottles and spilled liquid, he drew a sharp intake. “Arrggh! My booze! I'll double kill you, you bastard. I'll feed you to the Coelacanth. I'll ...”
“Bender!” Leela interrupted. “I'm sorry about your alcohol, but you can't kill anyone right now. Maybe later. What happened?”
“Oh, just my friend”, Bender made quote marks in the air, “ here, who was already three sheets to the wind and hadn't shared any with me, Bender, aksed me for a drink. And when I wasn't lookin' he cleaned me out. Thevin' coffin stuffer. I oughta ...”
“Later. This isn't our Fry. Drag him into the lounge and you'll see what I mean. And no killing.”
“Oh, man ...” Bender grumbled, grabbing Fry by the foot.
The drunk Fry rolled up on his side, hiccuped, and grinned at Leela as he held the one remaining intact bottle tightly against his chest.
Marine Fry marched up to Leela and snapped a salute.
“Ma'am! All the subjects are accounted for and have been detained in the holding area. The premises are secure.”
“Uh, thank you, Corporal.” Leela replied. “Would you just see that none of them get out until we figure out what to do?”
“Yes, Ma'am!”. Marine Fry marched to the lounge door and stood guard.
Leela turned to the group.
“I'm here.” Amy said, hurrying in from the lounge. “Cross dresser Fry and I were just looking at some clothing catalogs. She's .. I mean he's got really good taste.”
“Beep. Beep. Beep.” Bender muttered.
Leela ignored him and consulted her clipboard.
“Ok, so far we've got a lounge lizard Fry, an emo Fry, an accountant Fry, a technician Fry, a Marine Fry, a bum Fry, a drunk Fry, an 'alternative lifestyle' Fry, and half a dozen more without obvious defining characteristics. The question is, where are they all coming from and what do we do with them? Professor?” She looked pointedly at the old man.
“Oh my yes. Someone should spray for these things.”
“Professor mon,” Hermes chimed in. “You must 'a done something to cause this.”
“Hey guys, what up? What do you want me to do with this? I found it up in the professor's lab when I came out of that transporty boothy thingy.”
Everyone looked to see a Fry coming down the stairs, dragging another one with him.
“What's wrong with him?” Leela asked.
“I dunno. He's dead, I think.”
Leela sighed and made two more notations on her clip board. “Ok, you're Fry #7, and that's 'dead Fry'. Take him to the lounge and prop him up in the corner next to the plant. And don't let Emo Fry talk to him too much.”
“Ahh, do I have to?” Fry #7 whined.
“Yes, you do.” Leela replied sternly.
She turned back to the PE crew. “Everyone up to the lab. I think we've got a clue to the source of our infestation.”
Tick. Tick. Tick. Ding!
The door on the telephone booth slowly opened with a quiet hiss. After a few moments, a Fry peeked out the door and looked around.
He tentatively stepped out of the booth, jumping when the door snapped shut behind him.
“Hey everybody, what up? Where am I?”
“Guh, you're in the Professors lab, where else do you think you are?”
“The professor? I .. uh … who's he?”
“Wait a second.” Leela said. “What's your name?”
“My name? Umm … I don't remember.”
“Then what's my name?”
“Uhhh... are you the professor?”
“Right. Amnesiac Fry. Bender, take him down stairs and put him with the others.”
She turned to Farnsworth.
“OK Professor, what is this thing?”
“Oh that? It's a telephone booth. Just an ordinary, early twentieth century telephone booth. It belonged to my grandmother.”
“Right.” Leela said. “And next you're going to tell us that it's no ordinary telephone booth.”
“Oh my no. It's a perfectly plain, ordinary, run of the mill telephone booth all right. But it was missing the light and the fan unit, so I replaced them with my intradimentional non-relativistic quantum Planck osmosifier. It's operation is based on Dr. Gilligan's exclusion principle as first postulated by the professor in a three hour lecture. And it's atomic powered.” Farnsworth finished proudly.
“Professor mon, what's all that mean?”
“It's a light and a fan, of course. Those old booths were dark and stuffy you know.”
“Well apparently it's sucking Frys in from other universes.” Leela said. “And it's doing that at ten minute intervals.”
Tick. Tick. Tick. Ding!
The door on the telephone booth slowly opened with a quiet hiss. Another Fry stepped out, except this one was bald and sporting a beard and mustache.
“Lars!” Leela gasped, covering her mouth with her hands.
“Greetings, earthlings. And a special hello to you. Have we met? The name's Fry.”
Leela stared at him wide eyed. “You're … you're not Lars?”
“No I'm not. But for you, I'll change my name.”
“Just a moment, just a moment. This is utterly impossible, not to mention somewhat improbable.” Farnsworth said, stepping forward with the Gizmometer and waving it back and forth over the new arrival. The instruments dinged. “Ah ha! Just as I suspected.”
“So what's going on old man? Like I care.” Bender asked.
“I have no idea. Instead of moving light waves and air particles, it seems to have somehow taken some kind of signature of Fry and is intercepting his counterparts from other dimensions, or time lines, or something equally unlikely.”
“Woo hoo. Well, you meat sacks do what you want. All I know is I've got almost fifty buddies, except for that one who stole my booze, to go party with, so I'm heading down stairs. So long suckers.”
“No,” Amy said, “Leela will do that.”
“No, Leela will do that. Me. Leela.”
“Well come right back. I need you all here to intercept the Frys while I try to science out what's going on. We're pulling an all nighter. Well, goodnight everybody.”
The professor ambled over to his lab table and began searching through drawers.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Ding!
The door on the telephone booth slowly opened with a quiet hiss. A Fry stepped out holding a pizza.
“Uh … Icy Weiner?”
Amy waved the Gizmometer around him. “Same as the rest, Professor.”
Leela yawned and pointed towards the door. “Icy Weiner is in the lounge. Down the stairs, end of the hall, and across the room. Look for the guy in the uniform. He'll have your tip.”
“Couldn't you just take it and pay me? This is the last delivery of the night and it's new years. I want to get home to my girlfriend ...”
“Go!” Leela commanded, and Fry sped out of the room. “Wake up Hermes. Put down 'Pizza Delivery Boy Fry'. How many is that?”
“Dat's ninety seven so far.”
Leela sighed and looked at the clock. It was nearly 4 in the morning and she was thinking about another trip to the coffee pot when technician Fry appeared at the door.
“Hey, what up everyone? There's something going on downstairs you should see. I think it might be a temporal anomaly, but that guard won't let me go get the anomalyzer from my tool kit.”
“Hey, how did you get out anyway?” Leela asked. “Corporal Fry has orders to keep everyone in the lounge.”
“Well, I convinced him that we really needed to get a message to you, so to make sure I came back right away he gave me this.” Technician Fry held out his hand to reveal a tightly gripped hand grenade. “He kept the pin.”
“Sweet bomb of Guam!” Hermes exclaimed, ducking behind a lab table.
“Ok.” Leela said. “You go back down stairs. We'll be down in a couple of minutes, as soon as we find the Professor's anomalyzer.”
“What's that? I don't have a … mmmph.” Farnsworth started to say before Amy shoved his dentures back in his mouth.
“Ok, but you better hurry.” technician Fry said.
“Thanks Amy.” Leela said after he'd gone. “We'll wait a couple of minutes and if there's no explosion, we'll go down and see what's going on.”
“Oh, very well.” Farnsworth muttered. “Let me just find my anomalyzer.”
The scene in the lounge was very similar to a camp in the woods Leela thought. The Frys were clustered in small groups around the edges of the room, glancing nervously at the swirling vortex that floated in the middle of the room. The only ones who weren't were a small collection who were arguing over what channel to watch; Lounge Lizard Fry, who was trying to chat up a very disinterested looking cross dresser Fry; and the dead and drunk Frys who were both sprawled out in the corner.
Farnsworth approached cautiously, prodding the extremities of the anomaly with his probe device and muttering.
Bender took a puff of his cigar, adding to the cloud already created by chain smoker Fry. He examined the butt, and decided that it was done.
“Hey, old guy. Why don't we just start chucking stuff in there and see if we can fill it up?”
"Oh my no. Until we understand the anomaly better, we mustn't do anything that might potentially destabilize it."
"You mean like this?" Bender said, flicking his cigar butt into vortex.
Farnsworth's anomalyzer chirped and drunk Fry burped.
"Bender!" Leela chided. "Didn't you hear what the Professor said?"
"I think our metal friend is on to something." Farnsworth said. "When the cigar butt entered the anomaly, there was a brief surge of chronotons whose resonance pattern matched that of drunk Fry. The effect was small and thus he only belched. Had Bender used something with more mass, such as a beer bottle, it's entirely likely that one of the Frys would have imploded ..."
"Cool!" Bender said, hefting a beer bottle.
"... the entire block." Farnsworth concluded.
Bender paused in mid throw, considered for a moment, then tossed his empty at drunk Fry.
"Professor mon, what about this black hole? If we're going to keep it den I gotta file for a permit."
"Oh my no, I wouldn't want to put you through all that work."
Hermes looked disappointed.
"Thanks to Bender and his habit of littering in any universe he comes in contact with, getting rid of the anomaly is easy and it's given me an idea of how to get all of the Frys back to their own whereevers before you all have to start work in the morning. You see, each Fry is here as a result of a partial match between their chroniton signatures and that of our own Fry that was somehow imprinted on the osmosifier in the telephone booth. When we started getting too many of them in a confined space, it's starting a chroniton chain reaction, causing this anomaly. If they were to all get too close together, it would be just like an atomic critical mass. All we have to do is space them out a bit and it will go away. Everyone, spread out all of the Frys as far apart as possible. Leela, drag the inert ones into the exact center of the room. Then meet me in the conference room."
"Uh, Professor, how do we stop the booth from creating more Frys?" Leela asked.
"Oh that won't be a problem. We'll just leave the receiver off the hook. Does anyone have a dime?"
"Amy," Farnsworth asked, "Did you get the chroniton traps hung up in the lounge?"
"Most of them."Amy said, struggling to get the sticky gummed strips out of her hair.
"And Hermes, did you requisition the rest of the materials I asked for?"
"You bet I did. And those instant delivery request forms were a doozy." Hermes smiled, setting a case of Slurm on the table.
"Excellent." Farnsworth said. "The Farnsworth Chronoton Harvesting and Temporal Stabilization System is ready for a test. Leela, you know what to do."
"Sure do. This won't hurt them, right? I don't want to hurt them. Except maybe that lounge lizzard Fry, it'd be Ok to hurt him a little."
"Oh that won't be a problem. Since you said he doesn't like Slurm, he'll be at the fringe of the reaction and so he should suffer exquisite agony. Now if there are no further questions, off you go."
Leela looked at Marine Fry who was standing guard at the door.
"Umm, professor, we couldn't keep one or two of them, could we?"
"Oh my no. They've all got to be involved in the reaction for it to succeed. And by succeed I mean not kill every living thing within a 10 mile radius in the most horrible way imaginable."
"All right." Leela sighed. She picked up the Slurm and walked over to Marine Fry. He straightened to attention at her approach.
"Corporal, I have one more assignment for you, then you're relieved."
"Aye aye, Ma'am!"
Leela watched sadly as the lounge door closed behind Marine Fry. She lingered only a second, then sprinted across the room and joined the rest of the PE crew in hiding behind some crates.
From the lounge they heard Marine Fry's voice "All right all of you, listen up. The Captain sent us some Slurm. Now there's not enough for ... wait ..."
Everyone ducked and closed their eyes. There was a tremendous explosion that rocked the building. Dust rained down from the ceiling.
"Well, that's that." Farnsworth said. He looked at the clock. "Now, there's just enough time for all of you to pick up the lounge before you have to report to work. Chop chop."
Tick. Tick. Tick. Ding!
The time lock on the front door of Planet Express released and a few moments later Philip J. Fry cautiously entered the building. There were no overturned chairs, scattered papers, body parts, or any of the other usual signs of a fight or major alien invasion; and there weren't any new laser burns in the walls that he could see. The potted plant in the corner, or “Fry's Stall” as he liked to call it, still had that partly wilted, barely clinging to life look it had taken on shortly after he'd arrive here so many years ago.
Deciding that if there really had been any rampaging Omicronians here yesterday, there would most likely be some signs of it. “Probably just another bill collector.” he mused as he proceeded towards the conference area.
“Hey, what up everyone? Anything exciting happen while I was gone?”
He stopped, realizing that all of his coworkers were staring at him and that they didn't look any too happy.
“What?” he asked.
. -. -..