Blame It On The Brain, part 8
Chapter 25: The End of the Beginning
The world stopped.
the kind that flared at the very first moments of the Universe, was
omnipresent. It was old, eldritch light; the light of creation, and
of destruction. The Dark Moon above Manhattan had collapsed into a
single point of incandescent brilliance that bathed the world in its
splendour, and not constrained by any of the Universe’s accrued
physical laws, the illumination traversed effortlessly through rock
and steel, shining down even underground upon the city’s less
lofty inhabitants and the refugees who sought shelter with them.
beleaguered population of New New York, crouched in the sewers for
protection, looked up in amazement as light surrounded them. Morris
and Munda gasped fearfully, worry for their daughter’s
wellbeing reaching new heights. Bender paused in telling stories to
the frightened Cookieville orphans, and Farnsworth forgot for a
moment the grief he felt for having lost Mom.
of Planet Express observed the phenomenon with apprehension.
but Nibbler could know the full implication. Unnoticed by them all,
the little three-eyed creature flickered and then vanished in a
flash. Before he went, a smile had spread across his face…
continued to illuminate everything, growing in power and seeming to
time, the Universe ceased to exist.
consciousnesses remained intact at the centre of the time-space
conflagration: Onespawn, the architect of doom; Turanga Leela, the
Other; and Philip J. Fry, the Mighty One.
Lance of Fate sliced into Onespawn, temporal energy had flowed
through Fry and was channelled by the esoteric matter of the weapon,
which then melted away into the nothingness from whence it came, but
its awesome power remained. Fry and Onespawn both glowed brightly,
and Leela squeezed her eye shut against the glare. It was no good;
the light passed right through her eyelid.
she shouted against the roar of each moment in history spinning
around them. “What’s happening?”
at once,” he replied, floating free of her grasp in the sudden
absence of gravity. “And at the same time nothing at all.”
Leela opened her eye and looked upon him, and her breath caught.
Where before had been skin was now only light, brilliant white. It
was as if a sunbeam had donned a grubby pair of jeans and a red
jacket. The Lance of Fate, finally serving its purpose, had
transformed the spontaneously manifested temporal paradox, Philip
Fry, into an avatar of the continuum.
can see everything, Leela,” said the being she could now only
think of as Uber-Fry. “Every point in time and space
revolves around us right here and now. I can touch it all… I
can do anything…”
what are you saying?” Leela asked desperately. “Are you a
have no idea what I am,” Fry replied, looking at his glowing
white hands. “Maybe this is what it really means to be the
Mighty One… Nibbler never told me…”
terrible sound crashed over them, above the screaming energies of the
time-space collapse. It was a long piteous cry that reverberated
through the aether. Onespawn, massive and shrouded in light, writhed
nearby, with vast tracts of its pseudoflesh dissolving and seeming to
be drawn away in swirling vortexes of matter rapidly transforming to
energy. The last of the Brainspawn race was being recombined back to
its origin point.
the creature bellowed as its quantum field buckled. “I cannot
end! I cannot!”
turned in the empty screaming bubble of light that encased them, and
over,” he said.
don’t want to die!” the creature said, with the psychic
projection of its voice conveying a pitiful whimper. “I don’t
want to lose myself… I don’t want to die!”
won’t!” Fry said. “You won’t die. Nothing
ever dies… we all just change into something else…
It’ll all be okay… you’ll see. You will live…”
mass dwindled as more and more of it was stripped away into the
quantum recombination. With the last remaining vestiges of its
psyche, it posed a question to Fry.
would you fight so hard for a Universe where your fate is not your
own… where everything you know is an abstraction?”
poised at the centre of everything and looked at the creature as it
rapidly faded away; the question left him with nothing to say. “I…I
don’t know,” he admitted at last. The giant brain
vanished, and from the point of its departure a wave of nothingness
radiated out, quantum backlash erupting like ripples in a pond. Fry
and Leela were enveloped by the rushing front of unreality, and their
awareness of all physicality ended.
were adrift in the sea of non-existence.
Sagal’s well-rounded voice echoed through the void. “Fry?”
she said fearfully.
replied one of Billy West’s varied voices, a thin nasally one.
are we?” Katey asked.
Billy said. “And I think the better question would be –
who are we?”
be. We’ll see our way through this. We always do…
want to touch you… I can’t feel anything.”
There was a flicker in the dark, like a match struck on a moonless
night. “Let’s see what I can do about that,” said
began to cascade around the two minds as if a floodgate had been
opened. In six seconds, the Mighty One created the heavens and the
Earth, and saw that it was good…
of a whistling kettle found its way into Leela’s dream, and she
turned over, burying her face into the soft pillows. It was warm and
comfortable, and the noise of someone moving about in the kitchen of
the cosy one-bedroom apartment evoked a sense of contentment in her,
even as she dozed lightly.
what? An edge of confusion undercut that contentment, and she
roused at last, opening her eye and looking around the homely little
bedroom with its high window where ornamental keepsakes sat on the
sill in the morning light.
appeared familiar, and oddly she seemed to remember the history of
each item. The chipped old wardrobe they’d found at a yard
sale… while the dresser had once belonged to Fry’s
She looked at the bedside table and saw their wedding photo as if
she’d looked at it a million times before, the lines of both
their faces etched into her brain. She surged upright in the bed as a
disorienting sense of unreality shot through her.
I just… somewhere else?
pushed through the door suddenly, wearing a dressing gown and
carrying a tray with mugs of ground coffee and a pile of blackened
my love,” he said extravagantly, with a wide grin.
baby…” Leela said uncertainly. “You made
burnt breakfast,” Fry clarified, setting the tray down
beside her. “But the coffee’s drinkable.” He
crunched a piece of the burnt toast between his teeth with a grimace
and rolled back into bed beside her.
sipped her coffee and looked around. There was something troubling.
She was happy, but at the same time an inexplicable concern lurked
beneath the shadow of consciousness. Grasping it was like trying to
nail jelly to a wall.
think I had a strange dream,” she said. “But I don’t
remember what it was about…”
alright,” Fry murmured quietly. “It’s finished now.
We don’t have to think about it again.”
Leela frowned at him.
leaned across and kissed her on the neck, and she sighed, relaxing
against him. “We’re still going to Coney Island with your
parents today, right?” he said.
parents?” Leela looked confused. “But how…?”
then, a scruffy-looking brown dog scampered in and leaped up onto the
bed, trotting around and wagging his tail happily.
there, Seymour,” Fry said, scratching the mutt behind the ear.
get him off the bed,” Leela said automatically. “I told
you I don’t like finding his hair all over the blanket…”
She paused. “…Did I?”
okay,” Fry said, shooing the dog away. “I’m gonna
shower and get ready.” He kissed her on the lips, and she
returned the kiss, wondering why it felt so amazing to be able to do
so without fear or guilt – after all, she’d done it a
million times before… hadn’t she?
was gone, she looked at the gold band on her ring finger, and tried
to remember back to their wedding day. They had been wed, she knew
that… but exact details were difficult to pin down…
It was as
if everything that had happened in her life before waking up that
morning was obscured by a heavy mist. Only vague shapes were
going on?” she asked herself.
and Leela left the apartment later that morning, Leela paused for a
moment on the stoop looking around in wonder at the quaint brownstone
buildings of Georgetown, Brooklyn, and antique wheeled vehicles that
lined the streets. There were no flying ships or tube-lines marring
the brilliant blue sky, and not a single owl could be seen –
instead there were birds she recognised as the long-extinct pigeon
perched on the building’s concrete façade.
in the twentieth century?” she said in confusion.
or there about,” Fry replied. “I’d have gone for
the height of culture and style – 1982 – but I couldn’t
remember enough to put it all together.”
Leela looked hard at him.
on, let’s go and see if Bender’s fixed the old ‘Mighty
One’ yet. I bet he’ll find some way to charge us an arm
and a leg.”
Leela looked bewildered, but went along with Fry as he sauntered
along the footpath. The summer sun had begun to increase in strength,
and on a street-corner a group of children played beneath a fan of
water from an opened fire hydrant. They laughed and jumped about, and
waved happily at Fry and Leela as the couple walked past.
isn’t right… Leela looked back at them. None were
gasping in horror, throwing up, or pulling faces at her back. Her
prominent mutation had gone completely unnoticed. She opened her
mouth to ask Fry about it, but he appeared blissfully happy, so she
next street was BS Mechanical Workshop, with the B and S standing for
Bender and Scruffy. Since Scruffy seldom did any work, and Bender
never paid him, it was really a one robot operation. A robot…
in the twentieth century… bound to be an oddity, but like
Leela’s eye he had failed to draw attention.
I fixed up the oil leak and rear suspension problem on the Mighty
One,” Bender said, stepping out of the garage section with a
grease-rag in his hand and a grubby bandanna wrapped around his head.
“One of the pistons was misfiring as well, so I took care of
it. That’ll only triple the price. You keep running that old
beast, it’s gonna put my kids through college.”
have kids?” Leela said in shock.
by kids, I of course mean my gambling and alcoholism,” the
robot replied. “And by ‘put through college’ I mean
‘pay up now or I’ll sell your bike for scrap’.”
the robot, and Leela walked into the garage. Her mouth fell open in
amazement. A pristine, beautifully-preserved 1939 Norton 500
motorcycle stood gleaming in the middle of the workshop. She walked
around the ancient machine, trailing a hand over the chrome and
is ours?” she said in wonder.
yours,” Fry replied, strolling over and handing her a helmet
and leather jacket. “I’m just a passenger.”
She looked at him. “Philip… is all of this…
don’t know, Leela,” he replied. “You’d have
to find a definition before I could answer that. What’s real?”
bubbled up inside Leela’s mind, fleeting and uncertain; a giant
brain… a blazing figure of light. “Did you… did
you do something?” she asked him. “Did you make
did.” Fry nodded. “Memory and dreams made solid –
the best of every world. Come on, let’s go for a ride.”
daze, Leela donned her helmet and jacket and got on the bike. Fry
climbed up behind her, holding onto her waist. She kick-started the
old beast and they motored noisily out of the garage and away down
the street. Golden sunlight bathed the city, and people on the street
smiled for no reason. Now that she knew, Leela realized the sanitized
and over-polished nature of the world around her – glowing
bright with friendliness and goodwill.
sighed and gunned the old Norton up through Kensington and into one
of the entrances of Prospect Park. She turned onto the grass and
switched off the old bike, sitting for a moment and gazing at the
rolling meadow. After a time, she kicked the stand down and climbed
off, walking away for a short distance. Fry strolled behind her
silently, giving her time to think.
she turned to him, looking earnest. “This is just another
fiction, isn’t it?” she said. “As wonderful as it
is here… as beautiful as this life seems, it’s no
different from those books…”
I’m the writer now,” Fry said, thumbing his chest. “And
this is no less real than our own world.”
our world is, Fry, it’s ours.”
it’s brutal and unfair, Santa Claus is homicidal, people die,
and giant brains try to destroy everything.” Fry sighed and
gestured at the verdant fields of the park. “Here we can have
everything we ever wanted – my family is here, alive, your
parents live aboveground… there aren’t any alien
invasions or disasters… and I have my Delta wave – I’m
smart now. We can live ‘happily ever after’, in the time
and space beyond the words ‘the end’, beyond the
influence of any force but our own will – for eternity if we
want, there’s no time here eating at us, making us wither away…
no Nielsen Ratings undermining us. We can stay
like this forever…”
Leela repeated, gently taking hold of his arm. “What good is
eternity if we don’t have today? You can’t make
life what you want it to be by simply throwing it all away and
building something unreal from your imagination. That’s not
what life is – the mountaineer doesn’t conquer the
mountain by blowing it up. Life is what you make from what’s
been given – sure, it’s hard and rough and sometimes not
everything goes the way we want it to, but that’s all part of
it. We keep moving forward, and we do it together.”
stared at her for a long time, his face unreadable. “And what
if Onespawn was right?” he asked finally. “What if we’re
really believe that?” Leela asked with a little smirk.
but would it matter? Maybe the puppeteers are having their own
strings pulled as well. Do we care? What difference does it make to a
puppet to know the world is a stage? The world is what we have, it’s
what we know. The world makes us, we don’t make it – we
just live in it because it’s a part of us.”
give up paradise?” Fry asked her. “You’d prefer the
grime and the toil?”
grime. Our toil.” Leela leaned close to him, smiling
sweetly. “I wouldn’t give it up for all the antique
motorcycles in the world.”
watched her, and a smile slowly spread across his face, then he was
laughing hard, with tears streaming down his cheeks. He wrapped his
arms around her and held her tight, spinning around.
love you so much Leela,” he said. “You’re the Other
alright. I guess this was your role – to persuade me, to make
me see the light. You did – you’re right. Thank you.”
He held her by the shoulders and looked into her glistening eye.
happens now?” she asked him.
I put things back the way they were,” Fry said. “That’s
my role – what Nibbler knew I’d do, with your
gentle push.” He drew her close and kissed her. When they broke
apart, Leela noticed that the parkland around them was quickly fading
to white, all colour and detail bleaching away.
I’ll see you… on the other side?” she asked.
looked uncertain for a moment. “I hope so,” he said. “Not
really sure how this is gonna go. It won’t be easy – a
lot of damage was done, and it’ll take a lot to set things
suddenly frightened. “Fry, what are you saying?” she
began to glow. “Putting it all back together is easy in
theory,” he said. “I’m a difficulty though, because
technically I shouldn’t exist – temporal paradox and all.
I have no place in time, so returning me to the timestream is like
trying to staple one page from a book into the middle of another book
and making it seem like it fits in the story…”
Fry…!” Leela gasped desperately. “I didn’t
know… please, you can’t…”
okay,” he said. Now they stood alone in blank whiteness, Fry
becoming intangible slowly. “The present is a point too small
to hit, so I’ll aim for the past.”
do you mean?” Leela said, reaching for him. Her hands passed
to the place where we first met,” Fry said, his voice sounding
distant. “If I can… I’ll meet you there again.”
Leela called, but he was gone. The whiteness pressed down upon her
and then exploded outward. Time and space abruptly inflated back into
Futurama returned from hiatus…
with a crackling boom the quantum conflagration above New New York
collapsed on itself in a blinding flash and vanished – Onespawn
and the Dark Moon had gone. The sky over the damaged city was
suddenly clear, and a lone figure floated down as gently as a feather
on the breeze toward the top of Momcorp tower.
energies lay the sleeping form of Turanga Leela down upon the ground
that had somehow been scattered with rose petals. She opened her eye
and looked up into the azure sky.
she said uncertainly, sitting up and glancing around. There was
nothing to answer her but the small eddies of wind that swirled
around the top of the building. She looked up, willing him to appear,
but knowing he would not. Tears began streaming from her eye.
isn’t fair,” she murmured to herself.
is fair and what is right are seldom alike,” said a strange
voice from behind her. It was deep, yet melodious, rich and full. She
turned around to see, where before there had been nothing, a strange
creature floating above the concrete with no apparent means of
levitation. It was pale green, with slender limbs and a long tail.
Its oversized head bore three eyes that glowed like emeralds. There
was a sense of serenity radiating from it; a rightness.
knew what it was instinctively.
longer,” the creature replied. “What was sundered and
undone is now whole. The two made one. Brainspawn and Nibblonian
together, coherent. We now realize the full potential of our nature…”
about Fry?” Leela asked tearfully.
is not here. Not yet,” the BrainNibbler said. “But hold
him to your heart and await. He is part of you, as we are all part of
each other.” The creature began to ascend into the air, and
suddenly there were thousands more of the same. The BrainNibblers
floated up into the sky; unified, majestic. Godlike.
thank you,” said the being that had once been Nibbler and
Onespawn. “The life and love of beautiful beings such as
humanity gives us hope. Live in the light of truth and forever aspire
to be all you can. Farewell.”
watched, the beings vanished into the sky, toward whatever strange
destiny awaited them. She was left standing alone, hugging herself
against the chill wind.
Epilogue: All Quiet on the Future Front
of New New York emerged gradually from the sewer vents amid rubble
and deitrus as dust settled on their city; a sense of numb disbelief
tempered by gratitude at their survival. None could fully comprehend
the forces that had been at play, but there was an awareness that an
event of monumental significance had transpired and their lives were
owed to parties unknown.
some were known.
mutants, hesitant in the face of so much unaccustomed exposure, were
ushered, blinking in the light, out of the underground by a tide of
grateful citizens singing their praises. The bemused sewer-dwellers
had no choice but to be drawn along into the impromptu heroes’
parade under the brilliant blue sky and blazing sun that most had
only glimpsed through the grilles of stormwater drains. In the midst
of terror, when darkness threatens, it is often the case that all the
lesser fears and flimsy prejudices are shattered and human beings
come to realize the only thing of any worth that they have is each
and Munda reflected on that as they were hugged and cheered by
strangers grateful for the subterranean sanctuary that had been given
– staying on the surface would surely have been lethal if the
mounds of shattered glass and collapsed facades were anything to go
guess Leela was right,” Morris said as his hand was shaken
enthusiastically by a Cygnoid. “Maybe things will be different
simple act of human decency, that’s all it took,” Munda
said. “Oh Leela… she’s so smart… I hope
okay,” Morris said. “She’s a tough one, our girl.
Besides, she had Philip with her.”
mutants were welcomed into the upper world, Dwayne muttered in
Vyolet’s scaled ear:
they finally let us into their shining metropolis minutes after it’s
reduced to a smoking ruin. Big-hearted of them.” Despite
himself though, a grin had found its way onto the mutant’s face
and he couldn’t get rid of it.
Planet Express crew, minus Fry and Leela, looked up at the empty sky,
and then by unspoken agreement they began pushing through the milling
crowds toward Momcorp tower.
probably fine, right?” Bender said with a small edge of panic
in his voice. “I mean, not that I care either way, of course,
but…” He wrung his hands nervously.
course, Bender,” Farnsworth said placatingly. “People
caught at the centre of quantum singularities never suffer any
ill-effects.” He pulled a face at Hermes when the robot looked
away, shaking his head and pantomiming a finger across his throat.
alone at the top of the half-demolished tower with the wind gently
tugging at her hair. Her emotional bank account was overdrawn and
confusion reigned. Although her body had been returned feeling
totally rejuvenated, all of her injuries and aches miraculously
healed, there was still a deeper exhaustion that left her staring
blankly into space and trembling slightly.
others found her like that, and she was only distantly aware of
Scruffy putting his jacket around her shoulders and Amy helping her
to her feet. Questions were being asked, but Leela tuned them out,
trying to think back to the now-hazy details of the bubble universe
that Fry had created… What was it that he’d told her?
said – where is Fry?” Zoidberg repeated.
Leela frowned, trying to recall.
know,” Hermes said. “Spiky carrot-top, grooming habits of
a Baboon. Always lustin’ after you like a drunken green snake
after a garden hose…”
know who he is, jackass,” she muttered.
what happened, confound it woman!?” Farnsworth snapped.
don’t… remember…” Leela said. “There
was a motorbike, and Bender was there… and we had a little
one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn in the 20th century…
but none of it was real, not exactly…”
others cast meaningful glances at each other.
think we should take Leela somewhere where she can lay down,”
Amy said softly, taking the cyclops woman by the hand and gently
leading her away.
city struggled to pick up the pieces, aid was offered by the
Omicronians, whose fleet had appeared ominously above. New New
Yorkers found themselves working side-by-side with looming green
Omicron soldier caste in clearing debris and putting together
makeshift shelters for those left homeless by Onespawn’s
sun sank toward the horizon, Mayor Poopenmeyer called a conference on
the steps of city hall, and he spoke applauding the virtues of
strength and determination in the face of adversity. He then extended
a hand of friendship to Lrrr (who fidgeted in discomfort beneath the
unfamiliar exaltation) and to Dwayne, who stood as representative of
the mutant population - now welcomed as full citizens with all the
dubious rights and questionable privileges enjoyed by everyone else.
They would not be returning to the sewers.
Planet Express building had fared reasonably well, designed as it was
to withstand doomsday weapons. Most of the team went across the
street to help the lesbian coven rebuild their front wall, leaving
Leela in a light slumber on the couch, watched over by her parents.
flitted through her mind, faulty and uncertain. Fry was gone –
but where? Leela whimpered a little in her sleep and turned over.
What was it he’d said?
the words returned to her from out of the mists of unreality, and her
eye snapped open.
place where we first met!” she said, sitting bolt upright.
Are you alright?” Munda said, looking concerned.
where he said he’d be!” Leela got to her feet and started
toward the door.
Morris called out.
I’m going to find Fry!” She raced out, leaving her
parents looking at each other in surprise.
raced through the busy, rubble-strewn streets as fast as she could,
vaulting over fallen masonry and dodging hoverdollies laden with
mortar. Her boots pounded the pavement. She rounded a corner, skidded
to a stop, and kicked open the door to Applied Cryogenics.
building was dim and quiet, with the rows of stasis pods humming away
on their centuries-long tasks. Leela walked through her old
workplace, looking around.
she called. “Are you here?”
no response, and Leela hung her head dejectedly, feeling loneliness
creep over her. “Where are you?” she whispered.
to wait, because it was all she could do, Leela pulled out a folding
chair and sat down in the empty room amid the cryogenic tubes,
drumming her fingers on her kneecaps.
come back,” she told herself. “He said he would.”
passed, and Leela’s anxiety built. Treacherously, her thoughts
began prodding at the possibility that Fry might never return, and
though she tried to quell them, they remained stubbornly. After all,
hadn’t he said that as a temporal paradox he had no place in
that’s right… Leela stood up suddenly, remembering
what he’d told her: “The present is a point too small
to hit, so I’ll aim for the past.”
past,” she said, with realization erupting like a starburst.
She raced over to the cryogenic tubes and began checking the frosted
glass panels one by one; dismissing each frozen face that didn’t
belong to the man she sought.
on, Fry,” she muttered under her breath, moving along the line
of tubes. At length she’d checked them all, and none of them
contained Fry. The last in the line held a frozen figure she
remembered from her time working at Applied Cryogenics – it was
a John Doe, like Fry had been, but with a pair of coveralls on and a
baseball cap pulled low over the face so that features couldn’t
be seen. Years ago there had been idle office chatter about the
identity of the man in the last cryo-tube, and now Leela knew who it
was… or hoped she did. He had to conceal his face, obviously,
as he’d been laying dormant a few spaces up from where an
earlier version of himself had also slumbered, and because he and
Leela had been to Applied Cryogenics together… recognition
could have been disastrous.
checked the timer on the tube. It still had more than five hundred
years left, but knowing Fry’s grasp of mathematics she ignored
that and turned it all the way to zero. The mechanism chimed and a
pulse of microwave energy illuminated the cryogenic pod briefly as it
defrosted, and its door swung open with a hiss and a cloud of vapour.
just another couple of centuries,” a drowsy voice muttered from
within the misty tube. The figure inside tried to roll over and go
back to cryo-sleep.
Leela?” The man looked up, and beneath the hat it was indeed…
Leela pulled him bodily out of the tube and embraced him, squeezing
him so tightly it hurt.
snap! It worked!” Fry said.
“Yeah, it worked,” Leela replied breathlessly. “How
long were you…?”
I turned up in about 2500,” he said. “Which means…
Five thousand years. But the dial only went up to one thousand…”
smiled. “I was afraid for a little while there,” she
confessed, leaning her forehead against his.
about that,” Fry said.
all this time, ever since we first met, there’s actually been
another one of you right here…?”
Kinda trippy, huh?”
She stared into his eyes. “Do you still… I mean…
Fry said. “No more funky powers. It’s just me now. Stupid
as a box full of stupid. Nothing special at all.”
I wouldn’t say that,” Leela said, pressing her lips
against his. They stood that way for a long time, before finally Fry
shrugged out of the coveralls, exposing his red and blue outfit, and
discarded the baseball cap. He and Leela left the building and walked
hand-in-hand into the dusk. Fry looked around at the half-destroyed
city and chuckled to himself.
see it all turned out okay,” he remarked.
Leela replied uncertainly. “Although maybe while you had those
powers you could have tried to repair some of the damage.”
dunno,” Fry said, gesturing across the street to where a human,
a mutant, and an Omicronian worked together to shore up some support
struts that held a damaged wall. “I think I like it better like
this,” he said. “Grime and toil, just like you told me.”
looked at the three mortal enemies working side-by-side, and realized
he was right. Sometimes the smallest changes required the biggest
wandered through the streets and eventually Bender caught sight of
them as they approached Planet Express. He raced over
You’re alright!” he said.
it’s all over,” Fry told him. “Getting about time
for the credits to roll, I think.”
Leela looked at him. “Credits? Do you mean as in…?”
Fry smirked at her.
“Ha,” she said, smiling at her own gullibility. “You almost had me.”