Fan Fiction

The Assassination of Richard Nixon's Head
By Dead_Composer

Chapter 1

The mob of Lucy Liu lookalike robots showed no sign of tiring as they pursued Fry into a darkened alley. Just as it occurred to him to stop running and surrender, he woke up.

"Uuunngh," moaned the young redhead. "I must be the only guy in the 31st century who gets hung over from Slurm." He yawned, stretched, and didn't feel any better than before, so he yawned and stretched again. After the fourteenth yawn and stretch, he managed with tremendous exertion to pull one of his legs off the mattress and land his foot on the floor.

Bender, bright and chipper as ever, had already seized the day by leaning back on the couch and activating the TV. "Next on The Today Show," announced the preserved head of Meredith Vieira, "we'll talk to a man who's devoted his life to the legalization of spinach. But first, a word or two from our sponsors."

"Head Off. Apply directly to the forehead. Head Off. Apply directly to the forehead. Head Off..."

Bender looked aside, and an image even more gruesome than the one on the TV screen appeared before his lightbulb eyes. Fry's face was a mask of stubble, his hair resembled a chunk of unruly coral, and his faded boxers were barely clinging to his waist. "Mornin', gorgeous," said the robot.

"Oh, man," grumbled Fry. "I can't believe how groggy I am."

"That's easy to explain," said Bender. "It's your body's way of telling you it's time to go to work."

Fry glanced at the digital clock on the wall, which read 0900 hours. "Oh, crap," he said in a raspy morning voice. "I unintentionally overslept again."

"Overachiever," said Bender mockingly.

Within seconds, Fry was scrubbing his back, brushing his teeth, and flossing his teeth simultaneously. "Leela is gonna kill me," he mumbled through the toothpaste foam.

"Meh," said Bender flippantly. "She's cool. She'll let you off with a slap on the wrist."

"You really think so?" said Fry, squeezing into his blue jeans. "Gosh, maybe she'll hold my hand while she's slapping me."

Into the cluttered living room scurried Robopuppy, yapping wildly. The little cyberpet hopped up and down at Fry's feet, prompting him to say, "Cool, I've got voice mail!"

Robopuppy fell back on its haunches and emitted beams of digitized light from its eyes, which coalesced into the form of Leela. "This is an automated message," said the cyclops officiously. "If you are listening to it, then you have just been fired."

Fry turned to his robot friend. "It's for you, Bender."

Chapter 2

Despair welled up in Fry's heart as the holographic image of Leela dissolved. "I don't believe it," he lamented. "Leela just fired me. A moving picture of Leela just fired me. She didn't even have the nerve to face me eye to eye...er, I mean, eye to eyes...I mean..."

Seeing his buddy's plight, Bender felt moved to offer some insincere condolences. "You're too good for that dump anyway," he said, rising from the couch. "If I were you, I'd march into Leela's office, wrap my cold steely fingers around her throat, and threaten to strangle her unless she writes me a glowing letter of reference."

"If you were me, you wouldn't have cold steely fingers," Fry pointed out.

"Whatever," said Bender. "On the other hand, this could be an opportunity in disguise. A meatbag with your qualifications can get a job as a delivery boy anywhere in the universe."

Fry dropped onto the couch and lowered his face into his hands. "No, I can't, Bender," he said miserably. "I only got this job because Professor Farnsworth's my great-great-infinity-grandnephew. I'm in over my head with all this 31st-century tech stuff. I don't even know how to program an espresso maker--I have to pay someone to work it for me."

"Oh, so that's why the witch doctor was here the other day," said Bender.

Summoning what little courage he possessed, Fry jumped to his feet and waved a fist in the air. "By gum, Lyndon LaRouche never gave up, and neither will I," he declared. "I'm going to get my Planet Express job back, and nothing will stand in my way, not even the fact that I haven't de-liced my scalp yet."

"Now that's determination," remarked Bender.

When Leela saw the grim stares that Fry and Bender were directing towards her, the first thing she said was, "Fry, did you forget to de-lice your hair?"

The redhead made a fist and pounded forcefully on his end of the table. "You fired me, Leela," he stated firmly. "My job is all I have, and I want it back. I'm willing to wait until after the delivery to the Screaming Nebula of Death, but no longer than that."

Leela narrowed her eye at him. "I don't know what you're talking about," she said simply.

"Maybe this will jog your memory," said Bender. He opened the door to his chest compartment and Robopuppy leaped out, yapping gleefully. Seconds later the mechanical pet sat down on the round table, fired light from its eyes, and replayed the recorded message Fry had received.

When it ended, Leela chuckled dismissively. "Pay no attention to that," she said to Fry. "It's just an automated thing that kicks in after five unexplained tardies. As long as Hermes has your personnel record on file, you're still an employee of Planet Express."

Fry let out a sigh of relief. "Thanks, Leela. You're a lifesaver. I'm gonna buy you so many lizards." The cyclops responded with a grim glare. "Uh...Hermes does still have my personnel record, doesn't he?"

In the accounting office, Hermes hummed idly to himself while rifling through the many folders in his file cabinet. "Most of these people are dead," he remarked. "I don't know why they're still in here. I need to have a talk with Scruffy." As Fry and Bender reached the breaking point of their patience, Hermes pulled out one of the files and grinned. "Here it is," he said, yanking it open. "Philip J. Fry--position, delivery boy."

Fry wiped his sweaty forehead with the sleeve of his jacket. "Hold your horses, mon," said Hermes, his tone solemn. "This refers to a different Philip J. Fry--your evil duplicate from a parallel universe, who I hired to replace you when you didn't show up last Friday."

Fry's brain nearly burst out of his head upon comprehending the news.

"Didn't you get the memo?" said the Jamaican flatly. "Oh, that's right. You weren't here."

"Butbutbutbutbut..." Fry stammered in horror.

"What Fry's trying to say," Bender interceded, "is that he is the evil duplicate."

Fry smiled. "That's right," he said menacingly. "I am Evil Fry, and if I ever come in contact with Good Fry, both universes will explode!"

"Nice try, mon," said Hermes as he let the file slide back into its position in the drawer. "But Evil Fry has a scar running down his left cheek, plus he's hiding in the janitorial closet at this very moment."

"He is?" said Fry, rising abruptly from his chair. "This I've gotta see."

"No, mon!" cried Hermes in terror. "You'll destroy us all!"

The sky was clear and sunny, the only clouds being those that covered Fry's mind with a veil of hopefulness. He trudged along the dingy sidewalk, slouched over, his misty eyes fixed on the concrete. Bender followed suit, matching his human friend's pace and posture.

Fry gave him a peevish look. "What are you so depressed about?" he asked.

"I'm not depressed," replied the robot. "I'm just making fun of you."

Fry groaned bitterly. "I've lost everything that matters to me," he complained. "I can't even go back to Planet Express without blowing up the universe. What's left? Why go on?"

"Look at the bright side, pal," said Bender. "I still have my job."

Fry rounded a corner, and his eyes caught sight of a large, bluish-green chamber. He stopped and stood upright, and a hint of hope returned to his face. "What is it, bud?" said Bender.

The plaque attached to the side of the chamber read, SUICIDE BOOTH, 50 CENTS.

Fry smiled as if all his cares had been flushed away. "Bender, I'm going to do something I've been meaning to do for a long time," he said calmly. "I'm going to kill myself."

Chapter 3

Two humans and a robot were lined up at the entrance to the suicide booth, and Fry took his place behind them. The man ahead of him had a gruff, unshaven appearance and a patch over his right eye, and he looked more miserable than Fry felt. Bender, queueing up after his friend, asked, "Are you sure I can't talk you out of this, ol' buddy?"

Fry only shook his head.

"Too bad," said the robot, "'cause you owe me money."

The two chums stood in silence. The tall, lanky robot at the head of the line stepped into the booth and closed the sliding door. Seconds later the door reopened automatically, and nothing was visible but a computerized wall console.

"Ever wonder what happens to the bodies?" said Bender idly.

"Nope," was Fry's reply. Eyeing a vending machine half a block away, he said to his robotic friend, "Hey, could you keep my place for a sec? I'm gonna grab some Soylent Green to snack on."

"Sure, pal," said Bender.

With Fry away on a quest for food, the man with the eyepatch turned and began a conversation with Bender. "Can you believe they raised the price to 50 cents?" he complained with a Harvard accent. "As if it's not enough that they make our lives hard, they have to make our deaths hard, too."

"Ah, the good old days," remarked Bender, "when you could buy a beer, a comic book, and a painless death for less than a buck."

The stubbly man stretched out his palm. "I don't suppose you could loan me an extra quarter," he requested. "I promise I'll pay you back."

"You seem like a guy who can be trusted," said Bender. Sticking his hand into his chest cavity, he first pulled out a silver slug on a string, then a gold doubloon, and finally a genuine 25-cent piece. "Here you go," he said, planting the quarter in the man's hand. "Don't spend it all in one place."

The stranger closed his fingers around the coin and said, "You're very generous. May I ask your name, my metallic benefactor?"

"It's Bender," answered the robot. "That's short for 'Bender is great and you suck'."

"I'm happy to meet you, Bender," said the man with a faint smile. "My name's Orlando. Orlando Garrett. Remember that name, for you'll most likely never hear it spoken again."

Without looking back, he marched into the suicide booth and inserted two quarters into a slot in the wall. "Quick and painless, please," were the last words Bender heard from him before the door cut him off from view.

One less meatbag I'll have to kill, thought the robot. He looked to the east, where Fry was struggling with an uncooperative vending machine. When the young redhead found that shaking and punching the machine yielded no result, he angrily tore a branch from a nearby tree and used it as a club.

"Hey, tin pants," grumbled the trashily-dressed old woman who stood behind Bender. "Some of us have places to be."

Amused by Fry's relentless assault on the vending machine, Bender slowly became aware that several impatient people and robots were mentally urging him to step into the booth and end his life. "Er, ah, I'm just holding a spot for my pal," he explained to them. "I'm not here to kill myself like you losers are."

"Get the k--- into the booth, you y--- g---!" howled a short, fat man. "We don't have all q--- h--- t--- day!"

New New Yorkers, Bender muttered to himself. "Hey, Fry!" he called out. "Speed it up a bit! We're dyin' over here!"

Having made over a dozen dents in the machine, Fry threw down his branch and gave up. "I'm coming," he told Bender.

The robot gave him a farewell pat on the back, and he walked hesitantly into the empty booth. As the door clanged shut behind him, a feminine computer voice asked, "Please select mode of death--quick and painless, or slow and horrible."

The air seemed ice cold and stagnant about him as he dropped his first quarter into the slot. In a few more seconds, I'll either go to heaven, go to hell, or cease to exist altogether, he mused. With my luck, I'll probably go to hell.

Chapter 4

Don't be afraid, Fry reassured himself. Being dead is no different from being asleep for a long, long time, with no hope of ever waking up.

"I'll take quick and painless," he told the booth computer, and he raised his quivering fingers to release the second quarter into the fateful slot of doom. What if I come back as a ghost? he wondered. Or as a zombie? Or as both a ghost and a zombie?

He suddenly dropped the coin, startled by an earnest voice in his mind: You're making a huge mistake! His first impulse was to bend over and pick up the quarter, but strange as it seemed, part of his mind wouldn't allow him to move. That's funny, he mused. A minute ago I wanted to die, but now I don't. It's like...it's like there's something I still have to do.

No more than a dozen blocks away, a hovertruck carrying a shipment of tortilla chips and another hovertruck laden with potato chips collided with a deafening CRUNCH. As the drivers ranted and swore at each other, a certain slender old woman in a purple catsuit gazed down at the wreckage from a lofty window. Those two didn't even know each other, and now they're enemies, she thought. The pettiness of human beings will never cease to astound me.

The old crone known as Mom turned away from the cityscape. "Get in here, boys!" she called out. "It's time!"

A door whooshed open, and her son Walt marched dutifully into the office, followed by his brother Larry, and the pumpkin-headed Igner taking up the rear. "Which talking head are we teleconferencing with this time?" Walt asked his mother.

"The biggest head of them all," replied Mom with relish. "The President of the World, Richard Nixon."

"Oh, how exciting!" said Larry. "There's not a man in the world I admire more."

"Not even your own mother?" said Mom, peering at him.

"Oh, goody," said Igner, clapping his hands eagerly. "There's something I've wanted to ask President Nixon for a long, long time."

"Quiet, you," said Walt, giving him a back-handed slap. "The President of the World is not interested in your silly underwear questions. He doesn't even wear underwear."

"How do you know?" Igner retorted. "Did you ask him?"

"Cram an ass in it, you stooges," said Mom, who was watching the high-definition viewscreen light up. "Because there he is."

To the tune of "Hail to the Chief", the image of Richard Nixon's head inside a jar attached to the neck of a giant battlebot appeared. "Well, whaddya know," said the pointy-nosed president. "I asked the magic mirror to show me the hottest mom in all the land, and whose face do I see? Howoooo!"

"Charming as always, Dick," said Mom with a pleasant smile.

"Well, let's get down to brass tacks," said Nixon. "Do you remember our last conversation, where you offered to contribute generously to my re-election campaign, in exchange for a bit of harmless abuse of executive power to help you prop up your unchallenged monopoly?"

"No, I don't," answered Mom.

"Neither do I," said Nixon.

"But now that you mention it," said Mom, "I am having some difficulty with an upstart delivery company called Planet Express. That little crew has been snapping up the jobs that my pilots are afraid to take--deliveries to hazardous regions of space, like the Xenophobe Imperium and the Constellation That Eats People. And somehow they manage to pull through and survive again and again...as if there's a special bond of mutual tolerance between them."

"Ah, yes," said Nixon, trying to nod. "I've had my dealings with those petulant punks. My unrivaled intellect tells me that you have three options. First, hire on some new pilots who don't know the meaning of fear. Second, provide health care and life insurance benefits to your existing pilots, and...oh, who the hell am I kidding? I'll crush them for you, and I'll make it look like free market forces did them in."

"Excellent," said Mom sinisterly.

"Ooh! Ooh!" said Igner, waving his finger. "Mr. President, I just gotta ask you a question."

"Go ahead, my young man," said Nixon.

Igner clasped his hands and grinned. "Did you kill John Lennon?" he inquired.

"No, Igner," said the president firmly. "I was never a member of the conspiracy to murder John Lennon. I went to one of the meetings, that's all."

To Bender's disappointment, Fry emerged from the suicide booth without a mark on his body, and with an expression of fresh confidence. "Wuss," the robot mocked him.

"Yeah, maybe I am a wuss," said Fry in a carefree tone. "Or maybe I realized that getting fired from Planet Express may have set me on the course to my real purpose."

"Don't give me that 'real purpose' crap," said Bender. "My real purpose is to destroy all humans. My assigned purpose is to bend girders. Yours is to be a delivery boy. You gotta do what you gotta do."

"I guess you're right, Bender," said Fry glumly. "Well, if I gotta be a delivery boy, then I'll be the best damn delivery boy ever. I'll rise so high, I'll have delivery boys working for me."

"News flash, Fry," said Bender. "There's only one place in town where 'delivery boy' is a career path."

He turned his gaze skyward. In the distance, partially obscured by smoggy haze, stood a mighty tower with a large sign that read, MOM'S FRIENDLY DELIVERY COMPANY.

Chapter 5

The azure-blue tower that hosted Mom's Friendly Delivery Company stood like a mighty colossus in the center of New New York, its endlessly tall spire seeming to lose its outlines and merge with the sky. It was bigger than any building Fry had ever stood, awestruck, at the base of--the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center, the Museum of Modern Art. Yet it was a dwarf in comparison to the city's tallest structure, the mile-high monolith which New New Yorkers affectionately called "The Finger".

I can't believe I'm resorting to this, he thought as the plexiglass entrance doors slid apart to make way for him. I've tangled with Mom before. I don't know whether she's pure evil, or just chronically constipated. I hope she doesn't remember me as the guy who ate the last anchovies in existence. Nah, it's been a long time.

"Well, well," he heard a petulant male voice from the reception desk. "If it isn't my old friend, Anchovie Boy."

It was Mom's boy Larry, who had pinned a nametag to his gray uniform. "Been a while," said Fry casually to the smirking man. Above his head, a gigantic screen showed a looping video of Mom preparing a batch of cookies.

Larry punched a button on his desk console and barked, "Walt, Larry. Tell Mom that Anchovie Boy just arrived. She may want to cancel her ten o'clock."

A dead silence filled the spacious lobby. Fry knew he was probably imagining it, but the video image of Mom seemed to set down her tray of cookies and glower at him.

Leela, a protective visor over her eye, was welding one of the Planet Express ship's fuel lines in place when Bender strolled into the launch bay. Switching off her torch, the cyclops asked him, "How's Fry?"

"He's alive, as usual," replied the robot flippantly.

"Happy to hear it," said Leela, raising the shield from her face. "I was worried he'd try to kill himself."

"He did try to kill himself," said Bender.

Leela gasped. "Oh, my God!"

"Not to worry," said Bender, snatching a beer from one of the refrigeration compartments. "I was able to convince him that life's worth living, even for a human."

"Where is he now?" asked Leela.

Before Bender could answer, a cascade of Olde Fortran flowed down his throat.

In Zoidberg's clinic, the crustacean doctor scuttled in to find a young man with flaming red hair and a prominent scar lounging in an office chair. "Evil Fry," he stated, "I thought I told you to check the expiration dates on my pharmaceutical stock, yet there you are, sitting."

Evil Fry gave him a weak glance of acknowledgment. "If you wanted it done quickly," he said, "you should've asked a robot."

"I asked you," Zoidberg insisted.

The redhead yanked his legs away from the top of the doctor's desk. "In my universe, we wouldn't dream of assigning such a mundane task to a human being," he related, swiveling about in his chair.

"That's because your universe is evil," said Zoidberg with a dramatic wave of his claw.

"Oh, criminy," said Evil Fry peevishly. "How many times do I have to say it? Your universe is the evil universe. Mine is the good one."

Chapter 6

Fry was escorted to the 157th floor by Igner, who stopped suddenly in the corridor and began to scratch his head. "What's wrong?" Fry asked him. "Are you lost?"

"Nah," replied Igner. "It's really hard to walk and scratch my head at the same time."

As he walked along, Fry noticed a row of portraits attached to the wall, each with a small plaque reading "Mom of the Year" and featuring, oddly enough, the same person. The only exception was the 2976 picture, which indicated a tie between Mom and the Statue of Liberty.

"Boxers or briefs?" Igner asked him out of nowhere.

"Huh?" said Fry, taken aback. "What kind of question is that?"

Igner only stared vapidly as he stopped in front of an imposing double door.

"Oh, you're talking about underwear," said Fry. "Boxers."

Igner pressed a button in the wall, and a pleasant chiming noise was heard. "Who is it?" gushed an elderly female voice.

"Mom, it's Igner," replied the pumpkin-headed man. "I've brought Mr. Fry to see you."

"It's about time, you blundering excuse for a...er, I mean, thank you, Igner. Mommy loves you the most."

The doors flew apart, revealing a spacious office with a vaunted ceiling. Several picture windows offered a view of the crowded New New York skyline, and before them sat Mom in a battered old rocking chair, yarn and knitting needles in her hands, a heart-shaped coiffure on her head. "Come in," she said tenderly. "Igner, you may leave us."

Once the doors had closed behind Fry, Mom leaped to her feet with surprising agility. She hurled one knitting needle, then the other, so forcefully that they pierced the flaps of Fry's jacket and embedded themselves in the paneling. Pinned helplessly, the redhead could only listen and wriggle as Mom launched into her tirade.

"Damn you, Philip J. Fry! I could have made billions with those anchovies, but to you they were no more than hors-d'oeuvres! And now you have the gall to look me in the face! Impudent worm! I should grind you into a pulp and make you clean up the mess with your tongue!"

"P-please don't destroy me," stammered the quivering Fry. "I-I only came here to ask for a job."

Mom's indignant expression softened into a toothy smile. "A job," she said, clasping her hands. "You want to work for me. I accept. When can you start?"

"Like, right away," was Fry's response.

Mom put forth her spidery left hand, and the knitting needles pulled themselves out of the wall and flew to her under their own power. "There, there, my pets," she addressed them. "You'll have ample opportunity to kill later."

Fry grinned with relief. "I have lots of experience as a space delivery boy," he told Mom. "I used to work for Planet Express, until they replaced me with an evil twin from another dimension. I can also break dance. I have an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek, and on a good day, I can belch both verses of the National Anthem."

"Say no more," said Mom with haste. "Just answer me this one question. I need someone to ship a top-secret package to the planet Genocidus within the next solar day. Can you do it?"

"Genocidus?" said Fry, intrigued. "You mean the planet with the big war memorial and theme park?"

"No, the other Genocidus," said Mom.

"Cool, there's two of them," said Fry eagerly. "Sign me up, I'm in."

It was only seconds before he held a pen in one hand and a contract in the other. Sure, I'm giving away my soul, he thought, but look at the nifty pen I'm getting in return. Now all I have to do is sign the thing, and...

His musings were interrupted by the buzz of a video screen being activated. Glancing aside, he noted that Mom was gazing intently at the image of World President Mixon's head on the wall. I wonder what Mom and Mixon have to talk about, he thought. No, forget it, it's none of my business. Just sign the damn contract.

As he pressed the tip of the pen against the dotted line, Mom's words caught his attention: "I just solved my own Planet Express problem, Dick. Philip J. Fry works for me now."

"Howooo!" exclaimed the disembodied president. "I love it when I don't have to get my own hands dirty."

Fry couldn't take his eyes away from the chuckling head in a jar on a robot body. That Nixon was a schmuck was no secret to him, but at that moment he felt something more--dread, anger, hatred.

The unfamiliar emotions quickly passed. Whoa, he thought. What was that?

"Well, hello, Mr. Fry," the President's head acknowledged him. "I'm glad to see that you've finally realized who your true mother is. Tell me, how did you take it when your so-called friends at Planet Express let you go? Did it make you bitter? Vengeful?"

Fry paused to search his feelings. "Yeah," he admitted. "Yeah, I am bitter. And vengeful, too."

"That's the spirit, my boy," said Nixon. "Together, the three of us will teach those filthy commies a lesson they won't soon live through."

An unexpected burst of outrage seized Fry. "You're the filthy commie!" he shouted, pointing at the screen.

"What?" said the startled president. "How dare you!"

How dare I indeed, Fry said sheepishly to himself. I have no idea how that came out of my mouth.

"Philip, 'filthy commie' is not a title of respect," Mom chided him gently. "Your manners could clearly use some improvement. I suggest you sign up for my mandatory obeisance seminar. Now, hurry up and sign the contract. I don't have all solar day, you know."

The voice in Fry's gut simply would not be denied. "I'm sorry," he said, slowly tearing the contract in two.

Chapter 7

Fry, once again wearing nothing but his boxers, stared with bleary eyes at the newscast on the TV screen. "After centuries of mistrust, North and South Dakota have finally become one state," reported the lovely Linda. "The historic unification has attracted media attention unprecedented in the history of the two states. In other news..."

Fry hunched lower in the sofa, stuck his nose toward the ceiling, and sighed plaintively. I just threw away the opportunity of a lifetime. Why? Why couldn't I sign my name on that line? I don't owe those geeks at Planet Express anything. If Mom and Nixon want to force them out of business, then...no, it's not right! Don't you get it, Fry? This is why small companies like Planet Express can't get ahead in the world. This is why guys like me end up unemployed or in dead-end careers. It's a problem inherent in the System. Wait...why do I suddenly care about the System? And what exactly is the System anyway?

"The more you use your Platinum Visa card, the more points you accumulate," said the TV pitchman. "Accumulate enough points and you'll qualify for our HMO plan."

I suppose I should get off my duff and start looking for a job, thought Fry. But this is the 31st century--shouldn't a job come looking for me?

The doorbell suddenly rang. There it is, thought Fry as he clambered to his feet and threw on a bathrobe. I just love this century.

He opened the door to the "closet", stepped into the small metal chamber which Bender called home, and peered through the spyhole, catching a glimpse of a Chinese girl in a pink sweatsuit. "Oh, it's you, Amy," he said with a tinge of disappointment.

"You were expecting the lottery commissioner, maybe?" said Amy with a smirk. The blocky-haired girl stepped into Fry's cluttered apartment and sniffed the air. "You've got a mold problem," she said, and Fry quickly examined his armpits.

"As soon is I heard you'd been fired, I called my folks on Mars," Amy related to him. "They said they could use a hand on the ranch. It's not much of a job--mainly milking buggalo, scaring away crows, and junk--but it includes room and board."

Fry smiled gratefully. "Your parents are wonderful people, Amy, but I don't think I'm ranch-hand material. If they could set me up with something else, though..."

"They do have one other open position," said Amy. As Fry opened his mouth to inquire, she added, "Son-in-law."

"Oh," said Fry thoughtfully. Hmm...why not? She's cute, she's rich, she likes to have a good time...and her tangible assets aren't bad either.

"I honestly think you'd be better suited for the ranch-hand job," Amy told him.

She's got me there, thought Fry. "Okay, I'll consider it. I guess I could get used to the hard work and long hours and crap."

"Right," said Amy sheepishly. "I forgot to mention the crap."

"Just one thing," said Fry. "My career chip makes me a delivery boy."

"Schno problem," said Amy. "On Mars, you can be anything you want. It's like America was before the New New Deal."

Fry grinned. "Mars is sounding better and better. When can I meet with your folks?"

"Saturday morning, first thing," replied Amy. "I'll even fly you there myself."

"You know how to fly?" said Fry, surprised.

"G'uh," said Amy. "Leela's been training me as a substitute pilot."

"Isn't that really hard?"

"No, it's easy. All I have to do is think of the control column as a..."

"A joystick?"

"Er, yeah. A joystick."

"Sure, let's do it," said Fry.

"Schmawsome," said Amy eagerly. "And just to make sure you don't starve to death before Saturday"--she drew a tiny metal box from her handbag--"I brought you some Shrinkies."

"Shrinkies?" said Fry, scrutinizing the small item in his palm. "Never heard of them."

"They're the latest development in food technology," said Amy. "Just add a little water, and you'll have a month's supply."

"Cool," said Fry. "Thanks, Amy."

The moment the Asian girl had left, he wandered toward the kitchen sink, gazing pensively at the little box. Hmm...Shrinkies. I hope this isn't one of the professor's wacky inventions.

He flipped open the box, allowed a few drops of water to fall in, and was instantly buried in an enormous pile of cream-filled pastries.

Chapter 8

Evil Fry reported to the Planet Express HQ the next morning wearing black patent shoes and a stylish leather jacket. His hair was well-groomed and well-conditioned, and his red whiskers had been shaven to the point of being undetectable. He was, to Leela’s eye at least, an all-around class act.

“Good morning, Evil Fry,” said the cyclops, who was passing by his (formerly Fry’s) office dressed in her pilot’s uniform.

“Mornin’, Leela,” said the Fry duplicate, his feet resting on the desk, his nose deep in a technical manual.

Our universe’s Fry never has anything interesting to talk about, mused Leela. I wonder if this guy is the same. Stepping cautiously into the office, she asked, “Did you ever finish the job Dr. Zoidberg assigned you?”

“Taken care of,” said Evil Fry flippantly. “I finally got tired of his constant nagging, so I reprogrammed Bender to do the job.”

A moment later, Bender marched into the room on his corrugated legs. “I scrubbed the walls in the decontamination chamber like you instructed me, master,” he reported with a quick salute.

“Well done,” said Evil Fry. “For that, you get two hours of free will.”

Bender bowed politely. “My master is too kind,” he said, and scurried away in search of booze.

Leela shook her head, and her purple ponytail wagged back and forth. “I can’t believe I’m saying it,” she remarked, “but I liked him better as he was.”

“Robots have way too much freedom in your universe,” Evil Fry commented. “I’ve been told you even have a Robot Mafia. I guess no one here has ever heard of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics.”

“Remind me,” said Leela, who had no idea what he was saying.

“First law,” Evil Fry related. “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. Second law. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. Third law…”

“Oh, those laws,” said Leela. “Yeah, we’ve got them, but they were repealed in 2364.”

“It figures,” said Evil Fry with a sigh.

Feeling more comfortable now in the presence of the alternate Fry, Leela came forth with a question. “Tell me,” she said curiously, “is there another Turanga Leela where you come from?”

Fry grinned and lowered his feet from the desk. “Yes,” he replied. “She’s a lot like you—she has your hair and your eye. She’s different in some ways, though. She was raised in the sewers, but moved to the surface when she learned she wasn’t a mutant, but an alien. Which was great, except that she brought some of her sewer habits with her. She doesn’t bathe. She doesn’t flush. She makes no effort to cover up her…”

“I get the picture,” said Leela.

“And the worst part,” Evil Fry went on, “is that she has a crush on me big enough to crush me.”

Reminds me of someone I know, thought the cyclops with displeasure.

Her own dimension’s Fry was in a helpless, vegetative state, his only stimulus being the images that flashed by on the wall-sized TV screen. “We now return to Louse, M.D.,” stated the unseen announcer.

“Dr. Louse, the patient is going into cardiac arrest!” exclaimed a frantic intern.

“Only a miracle can save her!” said a chaplain who was standing near the hospital bed.

“Give her 50 cc’s of hydromethachlorophyll,” Dr. Louse ordered the intern.

“But, Dr. Louse,” the young man protested, “hydromethachlorophyll is only prescribed to patients who are getting elective surgery to turn into plants.”

Dr. Louse only glowered at him. With a reluctant groan, the intern filled a syringe with a green liquid and stuck the needle into the dying woman’s vein. Seconds passed, and the cardiograph showed that her heart was beating again.

Now do you believe in God?” the chaplain asked Dr. Louse.

“I am God,” the physician replied.

With significant exertion, Fry raised his arm high enough to grasp the remote control and flip to the next station. An advertisement was in progress: “It’s come to our attention that you haven’t purchased any Lightspeed Briefs for more than six months,” said a stern-faced man. “You may have switched to a less expensive brand, or, heaven forbid, to boxers. You may think there’s no difference, but your crotch certainly feels it. Listen to your crotch, Fry. Listen to it.”

The following commercial piqued his interest. “Do you ever feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong with the way our world is being run?” inquired a gaunt-faced Asian man. “Do you ever look at your paycheck and wonder if your endless labor is only making the rich richer?”

That’s exactly how I feel, thought Fry, a chord echoing in his heart. I didn’t know how to put it into words before, but now I can just tell everyone to watch this ad.

“We’re the Diverse Panthers,” the man on the screen continued, “and we feel the way you do. If you want to help bring about real change in the System—if you want to take up arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them—then you’re already one of us, and you haven’t been paying your dues.”

Fry’s fingers and toes tingled with newfound strength. That explains everything, he thought. My anger at Nixon, my worries about the System—I’m a Diverse Panther, and I didn’t even know it!

Chapter 9

As luck would have it, the global headquarters of the Diverse Panther party was located two quick tube trips from Robot Arms Apartments. Anxious to make a good impression, Fry placed a pair of Lightspeed Odor Absorbers in his sneakers before departing. When he reached the inconspicuous glass doors of the small office, the first person to greet him was a blonde robot receptionist. “Uh, hello,” he said to the cherry-lipped automaton. “I’m here to learn more about the Diverse Panthers.”

The receptionist’s teeth glowed briefly. “Please fill out this form,” she said, slapping a sheet of paper onto the varnished surface of her desk.

Fry muttered to himself while looking over the form. “Hmm…how did I hear about the Diverse Panthers? Select one of the following…TV advertisement, Yellow Pages, White Pages, Black Pages, web search, recommended by friend, led here by God, passing by, passing through, woke up with no memory of how I got here, other.” He deftly checked the “TV advertisement” box and moved on to the next question: “Your gender…male, female, androgynous, undecided, gnurrvox, other.”

Halfway through the survey, as his feet and knees were growing tired from standing, he encountered a question that caused him concern: “Which of the following activities interests you most: writing letters to congressmen, singing folk songs, staging peaceful protests, door-to-door campaigning, prayer circles, voting.” He fought back an urge to slap his forehead incredulously.

“Excuse me,” he said to the robot girl, who by this time had started filing her nails. “The ad I saw on TV gave me the impression that your group was interested in real change.”

“Oh, we are,” the receptionist assured him. “Do you remember the proposed Staten Island incinerator facility that was voted down? That was primarily our doing, although the Reorganized John Birch Society helped out a little.”

“Okaaaay,” said Fry with uncertainty. “But what does an incinerator have to do with fixing the problems inherent in the System?”

The robot’s tone became condescending. “Great wars are made up of small battles,” she told him. “That’s the philosophy of the Diverse Panthers. You can’t hack at the root until you’ve cleared away the branches. If you want to change the world, start by changing your neighborhood. Think globally, act locally.”

Something at the base of Fry’s mind suggested that he had heard all of this before, and more than a few times. “Hold on,” he said to the platinum blonde. “Just how long ago did this Staten Island…thing…take place?”

“It was twenty-four years ago,” she replied dutifully.

“Twenty-four years?” said Fry, his frustration growing. “And what have you accomplished since then?”

“Well,” said the robot smugly, “we did manage to raise enough money for a TV spot.”

Although he didn’t understand why or how, Fry knew he was headed for a highly uncharacteristic explosion. “Now you listen to me,” he snapped at the receptionist. “I was only able to come here today because I have no job. On top of that, my friends are about to be put out of business by an insane old woman who’s so evil that she probably hires people to poison the squirrels in Central Park. And the worst part of it is, people like her are in bed with President Richard Nixon.” He paused to wipe the sweat from his forehead using a jacket sleeve. “Haven’t you ever wanted to go to bed with Richard Nixon? I know I have. But we don’t get that opportunity, because we’re the little guys. And that’s why nothing ever changes. That’s why the System stays broken. So you can take your incinerator and shove it up your USB port, because it doesn’t make a freaking difference!”

The robot girl’s oblivious expression didn’t change, except for a slight, sheepish drooping of her eye plates. “Since you’ve put me on the spot,” she said calmly, “there is one thing I can recommend, even though we officially don’t endorse specific candidates.” After a furtive glance left, right, and above, she went on, “John Jackson and Jack Johnson will run against Nixon again in 3004. Jackson’s our man. Johnson favors a gradual withdrawal of our troops in Karjakistan, but Jackson supports a full redeployment, and that alone is enough to earn him our votes.”

Fry’s heart pounded angrily. None of that made a lick of sense, he thought, and I sure as hell know when I’m being obfuscated.

His hands deeply entrenched in his pockets, he marched away from the Diverse Panther Party headquarters with a mighty scowl. It’s all about Nixon, he told himself. I don’t know how I know, and I don’t know how I know that I know, but I just know that he’s the cause of this sickness. I’ve known it ever since I saw his two-faced face on the screen in Mom’s office.

“Hey, bub,” a gruff voice called to him. “You made the right decision by walkin’ outta that nickel-and-dime joint.”

Fry looked around. Out of the many unshaven, sullen-looking, secretive, downright scary New Yorkers that surrounded him, he noticed one who was peering at him from an alleyway. Nervous but intrigued, he stepped closer.

“Here’s the information you’re lookin’ for,” said the strange man, holding up a glossy pamphlet. “But be careful—you could be killed just for readin’ it.”

“Hmm,” said Fry, taking the piece of literature in his hands and unfolding it. Before his curious eyes appeared an extensive chart in the form of a tree and leaves, with the root at the top. “Cool,” he remarked. “A multi-level marketing scheme. Can I start at the top?”

“Look closer,” said the man. Fry scrutinized the chart, and observed that the topmost square contained the name, PRESIDENT NIXON.

Chapter 10

“Why can’t you see it?” ranted Fry, who was gripping the pamphlet in front of his robotic friend’s eyes. “It’s all right here, as clear as the nose on your face!”

“You got that right,” said Bender, who didn’t have a nose.

His expression frantic, Fry turned to the other PE staff members, including Hermes, Zoidberg, and Scruffy. “You’re all in danger,” he warned them. “Mom’s plotting to shut you down, and she’s got Nixon in her corner. I heard the whole thing.”

“That’s crazy talk, mon,” said Hermes. “We got the law protecting us.”

“What do you mean?” said Fry vehemently. “You’ve got no lawyers! You’ve got nothing!”

I’ll be a lawyer, why not?” said Zoidberg. Nearby, in the lounge, Amy rested on the couch with a copy of Space Flight for Ditzes in her slender hands.

“Look at this,” said Fry, waving his fingers at the fine print. “Since Nixon took office, the overall sales of the porn industry have more than tripled. All My Circuits introduced TV’s first openly naked character. A hate crime bill protecting mimes was passed. The Robot Devil was granted a liquor license.”

“Scruffy can’t even drink liquor without a license,” said Scruffy.

“Who are you?” Hermes asked him.

“The nation’s morals have gone down the tube,” Fry continued, “and I haven’t even gotten to the people who went bankrupt, or were put in jail, or mysteriously disappeared. Like Richard Persimmons, the fitness guru, who promoted diet and exercise as the only way to lose weight. His competitor, Electropancreas Incorporated, contributed heavily to Nixon’s campaign, and a within month after he was elected, Richard Persimmons lost his fortune, left the planet, and was never heard from again.”

“Not good enough!” exclaimed Zoidberg. “Ban his videos!”

“Look, you fools,” said Fry, slamming the pamphlet onto Hermes’ desk. “Richard Nixon is the root of all evil. I can prove it. I have proved it. And he’s after you. He’s after all of us—our wives, our children, everyone! You’re next! You’re next!

Scruffy, Hermes, and Zoidberg only stared blankly and sadly at him. With a sigh of exasperation, Fry turned and trudged away. “The poor man’s crazier than a yellow snake that’s been in the Jamaican sun too long,” remarked Hermes.

“Again with the snake analogies,” grumbled Zoidberg. Bender, in the meantime, idly snatched up the pamphlet and deposited it into his chest cavity.

Through a doorway poked the withered heard of Professor Farnsworth. “Is he gone?” asked the old scientist. “Good.”

Hidden away in the custodial closet, two pairs of ears heard the professor’s summons: “Leela! Evil Fry! You can come out of the closet now!”

Leela elbowed the mop handle aside, and pressed her lips fondly against Evil Fry’s mouth. “We could stay a little longer,” she suggested. “The smell of bleach and ammonia isn’t that bad.”

“You’re everything I’ve hoped for, Mirror Leela,” said Evil Fry wistfully. “I wish I could remain in your universe, and send your Fry back in my place. He’d get along swimmingly with the other Leela.”

“Yes, I can imagine,” said the purple-haired girl. “They repel everybody else, so they’d naturally attract each other.”

They enjoyed one more tender kiss, and then Evil Fry pushed the door open and allowed the buzzing artificial light to stream in. He and Leela, hand in hand, followed the professor to the office where the others had assembled. “What did we miss? Leela asked them. “What did Good Fry have to tell us?”

“Not much,” replied Bender. “Just that Nixon is evil.”

“We all know that,” said Leela flippantly.

“Yeah,” Bender added, “but the difference is, he cares.”

“Now there’s another funny thing about your universe,” commented Evil Fry. “Where I come from, we don’t preserve the heads of presidents in jars. We allow them to die with their dignity intact, surrounded by their loved ones and a few select paparazzi.”

“Yeah,” said Leela affectionately, “but does your universe have this?

She stood on the tips of her boots and gave Evil Fry a wet kiss on the cheek…

…at the same instant that Good Fry unexpectedly returned to the office. “Uh, I forgot my…erk…”

The redhead’s eyes bulged. His teeth ground together. Anger and rage threatened to burst his heart. My evil duplicate…and the woman I love…

Startled, Leela yanked her lips away from her new lover’s cheek. “Sweet zombie Jesus!” cried Farnsworth. “Good Fry and Evil Fry are in the same room!”

“They’ll annihilate each other!” said Hermes in terror.

“They’ll try,” said Bender, as the furious Fry pushed up one of his sleeves.

Chapter 11

Amy, distracted from her pilot training book by the commotion in the meeting room, walked in to behold a scenario of fear and tension. “Oh, my Splod!” she exclaimed at the sight of the two Frys facing each other as Leela, Farnsworth, Hermes, Zoidberg, Scruffy, and Bender stood still and watched.

“Fry, I can see that we both love the same woman,” said Evil Fry, looking back and forth between his duplicate and the worried Leela. “I don’t know what you have in mind, but in my opinion, we should settle this dispute like the men that we are.”

“I agree!” snapped Good Fry. He advanced boldly, raising his fists into the air.

“Leave him alone!” Farnsworth pleaded with the hot-blooded redhead. “If you touch him, the resulting matter-antimatter reaction may release enough energy to destroy Earth, or possibly the entire galaxy!”

Evil Fry was opening his mouth to speak when the first punch came. Backed up by Fry’s jealous rage, the right hook connected squarely with his nose, which lost all feeling almost instantly. He reeled, staggered, and gushed blood, but to the surprise of the onlookers, there was no burst of destructive energy. Earth, as far as they could tell, was still in one piece.

His head spinning, Evil Fry struggled to remain on his feet and look his counterpart straight in the eye. “Is that what you call settling it like men?” he said indignantly.

“Yeah,” said Fry, readying his left fist for another thrust. “What do you call it?”

Before Evil Fry had a chance to say, “Where I come from, ‘settle it like men’ means ‘talk it over’,” he took a powerful blow that seemed to sever his jaw from the rest of his head. The pain and dizziness was such that he knew the fight was over, for him at least. Moaning and bleeding profusely, he sank to his knees and pushed against the floor to brace himself.

“Stop it, Fry!” Leela pleaded. “You’ve hurt him! You’ve really hurt him!”

Fry, still seething and waving his fists, backed up a step and waited. As Leela and Hermes gently laid Evil Fry on his back, it dawned on him that he had won the fight—a fight he had never wanted, and hadn’t expected to win. Geez, I guess this is Good Fry Day, he thought.

Evil Fry, his face and chin soaked in blood, recoiled when he saw Dr. Zoidberg bending over to examine him. “Keep your clumsy claws off me!” he struggled to say through his broken jaw. To the hovering Professor Farnsworth he added, “My dimension’s Zoidberg is the only doctor I trust. Send me back!”

“Darling, no!” protested Leela. “We’ve had so little time together!”

“I’m sorry,” mumbled Evil Fry. “I’m not wanted in your dimension, but I’m needed in mine.”

Leela stood up and stared vindictively at the other Fry. “If you want me so badly,” she told him, “then you can have me—the other me, in the evil universe. She’ll marry you in a cold moment. What are you waiting for?”

“Forget it, Leela,” said Fry firmly. “If I can have you, then I don’t want you.”

The PE crew members went their separate ways—Zoidberg to obtain a gurney for Evil Fry, Farnsworth to activate the interdimensional portal, Hermes to fill out a health insurance claim form, and Scruffy to fetch a mop for the blood pooling on the floor. Fry, left alone with Leela and Amy, shrugged and asked, “Whose idea was it to give my job to my evil twin from a parallel universe?”

“It was the professor’s,” Amy replied. “Ever wonder what happens when you send a resumé to a company and no one responds to it? Well, the professor figured it out.”

“Really?” said Fry. “I always assumed it just disappeared into another dimen…”

Amy gave him a knowing smirk.

“Oh,” said Fry, nodding his head.

“You’re scaring me, Fry,” said Leela earnestly. “You’re not acting like yourself.”

“You mean I’m not acting like the guy you fired,” Fry shot back. “I’m not that person anymore. I have a purpose now. I have an enemy.

In Farnsworth’s laboratory, the professor witnessed as Zoidberg pushed the gurney bearing the prostrate Evil Fry through the shimmering, glowing portal that led to his home dimension. “I’ve never been so befuddled,” the old man remarked. “By all known laws of science, the fight between Good Fry and Evil Fry should have, at the very least, obliterated all of New New York. I can come up with only one plausible explanation—one of the Frys is no longer the same man he was before.”

Chapter 12

The bickering, protesting voices from within Dr. Zoidberg’s clinic lured Leela and Amy to the closed door. “What do you suppose is going on in there?” said Leela.

“The professor asked Fry to get a physical exam before going to Mars with me,” the Asian girl replied.

“A physical exam?” said Leela warily. “You mean…Zoidberg’s examining him?”

“I’m the doctor here,” she heard the lobster say from inside the clinic, “and when I tell you to take off your underpants, you take off your underpants.”

“Fry’s never been examined by Zoidberg before,” said Leela. “I wonder how he’ll take it.”

“Yeah,” said Amy. “I remember my first time, and how I almost freaked out during the rectal exam. His claws are cold.

“AAAARGH!” Fry’s scream of terror shook the walls of the PE building.

“Stop squirming,” Zoidberg scolded him. “I don’t want to puncture anything.”

Minutes later, Fry sat quivering on a stool in Farnsworth’s laboratory as the scientist attached electrodes to his temples. “Your physical examination showed nothing out of the ordinary,” Farnsworth told him. “That leaves only your psychological state to consider. Thanks to my new invention, the Farnsworth Psychoencephalograph, we can probe deeper than we’ve ever…”


“Sorry, Fry,” said the professor. “Poor choice of words.”

It required Farnsworth’s best efforts to persuade Fry to sit still and relax while electromagnetic rays coursed through his cranium. Leela and Amy watched from their chairs, looks of concern on their faces. “Do you really think he’s suffering from something psychological, professor?” asked Amy.

“Oh my, yes,” answered Farnsworth. “It would account for his change in behavior, and the fact that he could touch his mirror universe self without vaporizing everything in sight.”

“I think the stress of being unemployed was too much for him, and he snapped,” said Leela. “It can happen to anyone in his situation.”

Farnsworth fiddled with a few dials and turned to face Fry, whose pupils were trembling from the alternating magnetic fields in his skull. “Now, Fry, I’d like to ask you some questions. First of all, what’s your name?”


“I see,” said the professor with interest. “And how long have you had a stuttering problem?”

By the time Fry’s session with Farnsworth ended, Bender had walked in and assumed a standing position between Leela and Amy. “Very interesting,” remarked the old man, who was carefully stripping the electrodes from Fry’s head. “According to the readout of the Psychoencephalograph, which has never been wrong, your cerebral profile is equivalent to that of a person twice your age.”

Leela and Amy gasped in disbelief. Fry only groaned weakly and tried to steady his hands on his knees.

“Oh, it’s nothing to worry about,” the professor reassured them. “It’s just very, very impossible. It’s like planting a tree, and cutting it down ten years later to find forty rings.”

“How much longer does he have?” Leela asked him.

“Hard to say,” replied Farnsworth. “If his mental composition continues to age twice as quickly as he does, by the time he reaches one hundred, he’ll have the mind of a zombie.”

“Uuunnghh,” moaned Fry.

“There’s more,” said the professor, gazing at a computer display through his thick glasses. “The analysis indicates that Fry is easily agitated…”

“No, I’m not!” exclaimed the redhead, his gown flapping as he jumped to his feet.

“…highly suspicious, even paranoid…”

“Who put you up to this?” Fry demanded.

“…prone to bouts of depression…”

“The Cubs will never win the World Series,” said Fry glumly.

“…extremely possessive…”

“That’s my sweatsuit!” roared Fry, pointing an accusing finger at Amy.

“…and obsessed with trivial details.”

“Hey, Leela,” said Fry. “Did you know you have the same name as a symphony by the 20th-century French composer Olivier Messiaen?”

The cyclops shook her head. “That doesn’t sound like him at all,” she remarked. “The Fry I know is easygoing, cheerful, generous, and is so unconcerned with details”—she took a glance at his bare feet—“that he can’t even be bothered to trim his toenails to the same length. And he sure as hell knows nothing about medieval music.”

“Are you calling the Psychoencephalograph a liar?” said Farnsworth, glaring at her.

“No,” answered Leela. “I’m calling you a liar.”

“Oh,” said the professor. “Thanks for clearing that up.”

“I don’t understand,” said Amy with a shrug. “I know people can change, but with Fry, it was like…poof!”

“If I’ve changed, it’s for the better,” said Fry firmly.

“Maybe a supervillain zapped him with an orbital mind-control beam,” Leela theorized.

“Or maybe he took an empathy pill,” said Amy. “You know, the pill that makes a guy feel like he’s having a period.”

“Ewww,” said Fry, grimacing. “I’ll take the mind-control beam, thank you.”

“Neither of those things would explain such a fundamental change in his cranial physiology,” stated Farnsworth. “It’s like someone extracted his soul and put in a new one—and I’m speaking literally, not figuratively.”

“But, professor,” Amy chimed in, “there’s no such thing as a literal soul.”

“If that’s what you believe,” said Farnsworth sinisterly, “then you have nothing to fear from applying to graduate school.”

Chapter 13

Fry slept uneasily on the night before he was to travel to Mars with Amy. I mustn’t let anything stand in my way, he thought, rolling over onto his back. The people of the world will thank me, he thought, rolling over onto his belly. Leela will thank me. They’ll all understand when it’s over. My life has been an insignificant failure. I couldn’t even stay rooted in one time period. At least my death will mean something…

He was still musing on his terrible duty when the alarm clock sounded off. This would be a great morning to sleep in, he thought, but the longer I wait, the more chance I’ll talk myself out of it. My destiny awaits.

When Bender saw him, he had put on a clean, well-pressed white shirt and a navy-blue suit jacket, and was in the process of fastening his checkered tie in front of the mirror. “Geez, buddy,” said the robot. “They told me something wasn’t right with your brain, but I didn’t believe it, until now.”

“Yes, Bender, something has happened to my brain,” said Fry with a confident air. “Something wonderful.”

“I don’t know what you’re all duded up for,” said his cybernetic roommate. “You’re going to a job interview for a ranch hand position. Amy did tell you that, right?”

“It’s not like I’m gonna work in this suit,” said Fry, going through his hair with a comb once again. “It’s rented.”

“I think you should at least ditch the boutonniere,” said Bender.

“The what now?”

After a quick meal of Shrinkies and orange juice, Fry made his way to the apartment exit, clutching the handle of a jet-black briefcase. “Hey, Fry,” Bender queried him, “whatcha got in the satchel? Anything worth stealing?”

“It’s for the professor,” said Fry, tapping the front of the case with his knuckles. “If I tell you what’s inside, I’ll have to deactivate you.”

“Is it a targeting unit for a surface-to-air anti-Santa missile launcher?” asked Bender.

“What makes you think that?” said Fry impatiently.

“’Cause the professor axed for one last X-mas,” said the robot, “and he didn’t get one.”

“No, it’s not an X-mas gift,” Fry assured him. “X-mas lost its meaning for me after that song came out—you know the one—I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus.

With a smile and a nod, Fry was on his way. Bender, as was his primary function on Saturdays, rested his shiny metal ass on the couch in preparation for some TV viewing. On the screen, a stern-looking mother figure was scolding her adult son. “When are you gonna move out of here and get a job?” she barked.

“As…soon…as…the…invasion…fleet…arrives,” the son droned emotionlessly.

“If you or someone you know is being subjected to alien mind control,” said an earnest-looking woman with a drawing of a green ribbon on her blouse, “you owe it to yourself to call the number on the screen. The Robert A. Heinlein Alien Mind Control Institute is a non-profit organization.”

Yeah, that’s Fry all over, thought Bender. If I cared at all, I’d try to get him some help…problem is, I don’t.

Its lime-green hull freshly washed and waxed, the Planet Express spaceship stood at attention in the docking bay. Leela, in a solemn ceremony attended by Hermes, Zoidberg, and Professor Farnsworth, was passing the ignition key to Amy, who had foregone her pink sweatsuit in favor of a glossy pilot’s uniform.

“My first solo flight,” said the Asian girl, letting the heavy metallic object dangle from her fingers. “I’m so excited, I could just die.”

“Please don’t die, Amy,” said the professor, his hands clasped in worry. “I’ll never find another intern with your unique blood type.”

“Don’t forget the things I taught you,” Leela admonished her friend.

“Right,” said Amy proudly. “The best thing for a hangover is a mixture of Dramamine, prickly pear juice, and…”

“No, the things I taught you,” said Leela, folding her arms.

“Before you take off,” said Hermes, handing Amy a clipboard with a few papers, “I have some legal waivers for you to sign.”

“Okay,” said Amy, taking pen in hand. “What are they for?”

“They eliminate our liability in case you have an accident,” replied the Jamaican.

“So who is liable if I crash?” inquired Amy.

“You should have asked that question before signing the waivers, mon,” said Hermes.

“Sign this, too,” said Zoidberg. Gesturing with his claw at the sheet he gripped in his other claw, he went on, “This consent form allows us to preserve your head in a jar if your body is mortally injured.”

“Schno way!” exclaimed Amy, recoiling from the lobster’s eager stare. “I don’t want what happened to Paris Hilton to happen to me.”

“What did happen to Paris Hilton?” inquired a smartly-dressed redhead who had just stepped into the bay.

“Oh, hello, Fry,” Farnsworth greeted him. “Since you asked, I’ll tell you. Paris Hilton was killed in a high-speed race with the paparazzi—she was chasing them. Scientists managed to preserve her head, but then she asked them to fill her jar with champagne, only to realize—too late—that she couldn’t breathe the stuff.”

“Hi, Amy,” said Fry to the Chinese girl. “I’m sure looking forward to this flight.” Lifting up the case he held, he asked, “Mind if I bring along some of my personal effects?”

“Schno prob,” replied Amy. “What do you have in there, deodorant?”

“Uh, yeah,” replied the young man. “Old Space.”

“And a toothbrush?” Amy pressed him.

“Yeah,” said Fry.

“And toothpaste?”

“Yeah, lots of toothpaste.”

“Who are you, really?” said Leela suspiciously.

“Welcome to Anderson Cooper 2*pi,” said the bleach-blond newscaster. “I’m your host, Anderson Cooper’s head. With less than two hours remaining before President Nixon’s State of the World address…”

Having fallen asleep during an especially dry news program, Bender was roughly awakened by a sharp cramp somewhere within his circuitry. I must’ve disagreed with something I ate, he thought, groggily reaching to open the door to his chest cavity. With both hands he fished through the various items he had collected or stolen, and finally happened upon the culprit. Yanking the object out, he observed that it was Fry’s anti-Nixon pamphlet that had caused him so much intestinal distress.

I can’t believe Fry’s reading this garbage, he thought, lazily leafing through the pages. Well, at least he’s reading something. I’ve been told that’s good for you.

The section headings intrigued, disgusted, and amused him—Nixon OKs blood-for-oil trade deal, Nixon issues executive pardon for himself, Nixon orders increase in production of stem cells. He reached the final page, having seen nothing that might make him care—and then his bulb-shaped eyes caught the name, hidden away among the fine print, of the tract’s author.

“Oh, my nonexistent God,” he muttered aloud. “I know him.”

Chapter 14

Fry closed his eyes and allowed the vibrations from the ship’s engines to pass from the chair into his body. Just relax, he told himself. It will soon be done.

“I can do this,” he heard Amy utter nervously. “Steady, girl…steady…”

Opening one eye and looking toward the pilot’s seat, he noticed that Amy was gripping the ship’s control column with one hand, and applying mascara to her eyelashes with the other. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” he said, finding it odd that such an idle question would be among his last words.

“Oh, yeah,” replied the girl without moving her head. “It’s a huge time-saver.” She gently pulled the stick closer, and the ship’s prow rose, allowing the New New York skyline and the hilly horizon to disappear from the viewscreen. They hovered for a moment while she dropped the cosmetic brush into a conveniently located compartment, and then the rockets burst to life, launching them into the sky.

A feeling of wicked satisfaction filled Fry as he watched Earth’s surface fade below him. Twenty-five minutes until the State of the World address begins, he thought, glancing at the built-in clock on the console. Nothing can stop me now—nothing but my own fear.

Amy switched on the automatic pilot and started to apply rouge to her cheeks. “This is the most supremely satisfying moment of my life,” she gushed. “I wish I had the words to tell you how I feel. It’s like…well, you know, it’s like…freedom, and power, and beauty, and the birds, and junk. Fry?”

Her first thought was that he had excused himself to go to the lavatory. She lowered the applicator, turned her head, and gasped in terror.

Fry stood behind her, his face a mask of ruthless determination, his fingers wrapped around the trigger of a laser pistol, the barrel of the pistol aimed directly between her eyes. Next to his feet lay the opened, discarded black briefcase.

“Fry!” she wailed. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“What nobody else has the guts to do,” the fiery-eyed redhead answered. “Lay in a course for Washington, D.C.”

“Oh my, yes,” said Professor Farnsworth, gloating over his handiwork. “It’s perfect. It’s the most perfect thing I’ve ever created.”

“Uh, Dad?” said Cubert, gazing down at the brand-new addition to his anatomy. “I wanted an outie, not an innie.”

“Pish-tosh,” said the professor dismissively. “Someday you’ll thank me.”

While Cubert sat and contemplated his navel, an unexpected visitor burst into the lab in the form of Bender. “Yo, propeller-head,” said the robot in haste. “I found something that might interest you. Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe it’s not.” In his hand he waved the garishly-worded pamphlet that Fry had obtained in an alley.

“Let’s see that,” said Farnsworth, taking the literature into his wrinkled fingers. “Nixon, eh?” After a quick scan of the pages he added, “Good Lord, at this rate he’ll start the Apocalypse before I do!”

“Look at the ending,” Bender urged him. “Look at the name of the guy who wrote it.”

The professor adjusted his crystal goggles. “Orlando Garrett? Where have I heard that name before? Oh, that’s right. Nowhere.”

“Orlando Garrett happens to be the name of the chump who snuffed himself in the booth just before Fry went in,” Bender related. “I checked out his web site. Turns out he was a total whack job who could think of nothing but how much happier we’d all be if Nixon was impeached, imprisoned, assassinated, or all of the above.”

“Hmm,” mused the scientist. “Could it be that he infected Fry with his paranoid fantasies somehow?”

“He never had a chance to talk to Fry,” Bender told him. “He was history in the making by the time Fry came back from his battle with the vending machine.”

Farnsworth tickled his chin thoughtfully. “That’s very curious,” he remarked, “but when you consider how many enemies Nixon has made since taking office…”

“Dad!” exclaimed Cubert, leaping up from his chair. “I think I know what happened to Uncle Fry!”

“Huhwhaaa?” the professor blurted out.

“It’s a crazy idea,” said the young clone, “but if it’s true, then Amy may be in danger.”

“Put the gun away!” Amy pleaded with the rigid, scowling Fry. “You’re not yourself!”

“Do as I say and you won’t be hurt,” said Fry, tightening his grasp on the cold hilt of the laser gun. “Wait a minute…I’m gonna crash the ship into the White House and kill President Nixon, so you will be hurt…no, I take that back. Just do as I say.”

“Fry, no!” cried Amy, her face white with terror and red with rouge. “You can’t do that on my first solo flight!”

“Amy, you’ve been a good friend,” said Fry with only a hint of emotion, “but if you make any attempt to change our course, I’ll put a hole through your pretty little head.”

“Awww,” said Amy wistfully. “Uh, I mean, please don’t kill me! I’ll do anything!”

“What I’m trying to say,” Cubert explained to Bender and the professor, “is that when Orlando Garrett killed himself in the suicide booth, he left behind a psychic residue that latched on to Uncle Fry when he went inside.”

“Psychic residue?” said Farnsworth incredulously. “Preposterous! You’ve been reading too much Harry Potter.”

“Look who’s talking, Mr. I-can-fly-faster-than-the-speed-of-light,” Cubert chided him.

“Man, that’s gotta burn,” said Bender.

The professor threw up his hands in indignation. “I’ve never heard of such an occurrence,” he insisted. “I’ve never seen it postulated in any serious scientific journal, and I’ve read more than twelve thousand serious scientific journals. How many serious scientific journals have you read, punk?”

“Fifty-seven,” replied Cubert, “if you count Psychology Today.”

The megacity of Baltimore flew by underneath the Planet Express delivery ship, and the waters of the Potomac River appeared as a shining fringe in the distance. Amy sat motionlessly, struggling not to cry, badly needing to use the ladies’ room. Fry paced back and forth through the cabin, ranting to himself, keeping his weapon trained on the pilot’s seat. “That bodiless bastard won’t know what hit him,” Amy could hear him mutter.

A voice from the radio speakers suddenly broke the tension. “Amy! Amy, come in!” it crackled.

“It’s the professor!” said the Asian girl with relief. “I’m saved!” She lurched forward to hit the receive button, only to be startled by an inhumanly high-pitched shriek and an avalanche of sparks.

Fry, who had just blasted one of the speakers to bits, blew the smoke from the end of his pistol. “Whoops,” he said calmly but menacingly. “My finger slipped.”

Amy sank back into the captain’s chair and groaned despondently. I’ve got to think of something, she told herself. But I’m Amy, not Leela. Geesh, I’m gonna die…

Chapter 15

Professor Farnsworth released the button on the microphone he was holding. “She’s not responding,” he said somberly. “I hope nothing’s happened to her.”

“Ya know,” mused Bender, “I’ll bet fewer people will kill themselves once they realize they can pick up someone’s psychic residue just by walking into a suicide booth.”

“It’s spooky,” Cubert remarked. “And the potential for lawsuits is even spookier.”

The professor attempted to contact the Planet Express ship again, but Amy was in no position to respond. “Don’t answer that,” said Fry, waving the barrel of his laser pistol in her direction.

It’s a .44 Zapgun, the most powerful blaster in the world, thought Amy as her painted fingernails dug into the armrests of the captain’s chair. It could blow my head right off. I’ve got to ask myself a question—do I feel lucky?

“Farnsworth to Amy,” the professor’s voice sounded. “Amy, come in. I have reason to believe that Fry may be dangerous.”

“He doesn’t know how dangerous,” said Fry cockily. “The old crackpot.”

The spacecraft rumbled and shook as it passed through a stormcloud high above the District of Columbia. Amy swiveled in her seat and gazed at the armed redhead, who glowered back. He doesn’t know that I really set a course for Arlington National Cemetery, she thought. We’ll be killed, but we won’t take anyone with us who isn’t already dead. She swung around slowly, and focused her eyes on the copilot seat ejection button. That little red button could be the answer. I’d have to time it just right…and I’d have to distract him somehow…

She turned her attention back to Fry. “Uh, is it all right if I stand up?” she requested. “I’m getting a cramp in my leg.”

“All right,” said Fry with a suspicious glare. “But keep your hands where I can see them.”

If only I were Leela, thought Amy as she unlatched her shoulder harness. Then you’d have to worry about my feet instead of my hands. Once she had risen, she struck a seductive pose and tried to come up with something distracting to say.

“No tricks,” Fry cautioned her from three yards away. “No sudden moves. My finger’s on the trigger.”

He’s from the 20th century, Amy told herself. There’s a lot he doesn’t know about our time. I’ve got to use that to my advantage somehow. Hey…I’ve got it!

She smiled facetiously. “If you’re dead set on throwing your life away for nothing,” she taunted the grim-looking Fry, “then go right ahead. I won’t stand in your way.”

“What do you mean?” said Fry, taking a step closer to her. “I’m gonna assassinate Nixon.”

“No, you’re not,” said Amy as she minced stealthily, placing the copilot’s chair between herself and Fry. “Get with the times, Philip. In your century, anyone could hijack a plane and drop it on the President. But in the 31st century, that won’t work.”

Visibly angered, Fry strode forward and pressed the point of the laser pistol against Amy’s nose. “Why won’t it?” he demanded.

The blocky-haired girl shuffled back a few inches, forcing Fry to lean slightly over the back of the chair. The sight of the glassy, glowing beam projector at the end of Fry’s gun sent a chill through her, but she spoke as bravely as she could. “President Nixon will deliver his State of the World address from the Oval Office,” she told him, “and the Oval Office is protected by a force field.”

“A what?” Fry sputtered. “A force field?

“A force field,” Amy assured him. “It’s been in place ever since the Omicronian invasion. It’s so strong, even a nuclear bomb can’t penetrate it.”

She could see Fry’s gun hand quiver with consternation. “You’re lying,” he snarled.

“If you go through with this,” she went on, unperturbed, “you won’t kill Nixon, but you will kill a buttload of innocent people.”

Uncertainty registered on Fry’s face, indicating to Amy that it was time to act. In one quick, limber movement, she leaned backwards and reached for the console, punching the red eject button. Before Fry had a chance to regain his focus, a panel flew open in the hull above him, and the copilot chair exploded upwards like a rocket. The rim of the chair struck his chin with such force that he performed a double back flip before landing belly-up and unconscious on the cabin floor.

Fry awoke to a world of spinning blurs and tremendous pain. He could make out four, or maybe five, amorphous objects towering above him. “Wh-where am I?” he attempted to say, but as his mouth would not open, he could only manage “Wh-whmmmph mmmph?”

“He’s coming to,” uttered three simultaneous voices that sounded like Leela’s.

He knew that he was lying down on a mattress, but didn’t recognize the feel of the mattress. He remembered only bits and pieces of the previous few days. The lights in the ceiling of the strange room pierced his brain like daggers. It hurt even to think.

“Good news, everyone!” It was Professor Farnsworth’s voice. “The Psychoencephalograph reports that Fry’s brain has reverted to its normal configuration. He’s no longer a detail-obsessed paranoid conspiracy nut.”

“That is good news, professor,” Fry heard Amy say.

“Indeed,” said Farnsworth. “As I endeavored to prove in my doctoral dissertation, any type of mental disorder can be completely cured by a strong enough blow to the head.”

In his mouth, Fry sensed the coldness of metal and a slight taste of blood. His head, throbbing with agony, felt as if it was being held together by duct tape and baling wire. “Sweet frog of Prague!” exclaimed the voice of Hermes. “His head’s bein’ held together with duct tape and baling wire!”

“What did you expect?” said Zoidberg from nearby. “My hands are claws, for crying out loud.”

A warm, smooth hand caressed Fry’s cheek. “I was so worried about you,” uttered Amy’s voice. “I’m sorry I had to knock you out, but I couldn’t let you kill the President.”

Kill the President? he thought with alarm. “Kmmm thmm Prmmmdmmt?” he mumbled.

“Even though he does have it comin’,” said a bluish-silver blur with a spike rising out of its head. “I’m just glad you’re not the one who did the deed, ‘cause I wouldn’t want to get involved.”

I tried to kill the President, thought Fry. God, I’m a bad drunk.

Amy, Bender, and Zoidberg remained at Fry’s side in the clinic, while Farnsworth, Leela, and Hermes made their way to the exit of the PE building. “There’s still the problem of finding a new delivery boy to fill Fry’s position,” said Leela.

“Oh, that’s not a problem at all,” said Farnsworth, directing his words to Hermes. “Since his name is still on the personnel records, we can simply pretend he was never fired. That way, you won’t need to fill out any extra forms.”

“But I like filling out forms,” Hermes protested.

Once they reached the sidewalk, Farnsworth spotted a suicide booth a block away and marched determinedly towards it. “Where are you going, professor?” Leela asked him.

“I’m going to see if Cubert’s psychic residue theory holds water or not,” said the old man as the other pedestrians walked past him, or rather, dodged him.

“Okay, mon,” said Hermes, following after. “Just don’t kill yourself.”

To the New New Yorkers who waited impatiently in line for their turn to die, Farnsworth said, “Pardon me, I’m a safety inspector.” Grumbling, they stood to one side as the wizened scientist stepped into the booth and closed the door.

“If Cubert’s right,” Leela said to Hermes, “then the professor may walk out of there a totally different person.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” said the Jamaican.

A few seconds passed, and Farnsworth emerged from the booth, his head bowed with apparent grief. Leela quicky approached the glum-looking senior citizen. “Professor, what’s wrong?” she asked.

He shook his head weakly. “I look old,” he lamented. “I don’t know how anybody can stand to look so old.”

“There, there,” said Leela, stroking his shoulders. “You look old because you are old. It’s part of life.”

Farnsworth shot her a grateful look. “Leela, I need some advice,” he said. “Which foundation do you think would work best for my skin type?”