Catastrophe, Part 3
Chapter 3: CATFIGHT!
"I am NOT sleeping in that," Amy said, looking down disdainfully at the large basket that Fry had laid on the floor of his apartment.
"Aw, come on, Amy! I spent five hundred bucks on it! That's like, three months' pay!"
"Look, Fry, I know you mean w- $500.00? Really?"
"Yeah, this is the model people use for pet tigers. They're really, really expensive."
"Well... couldn't you just return it tomorrow, get your money back?"
"No way, these people don't take returns. I'm stuck with it. Look... one night. That's all I ask, okay? Then I wouldn't feel like I threw away my money."
Amy sighed. "Fine... I'll sleep in it tonight, if it'll make you happy. But after that, I'm moving to the couch."
It had been five days since the big change. Amy was beginning to adapt to her new form, which, she found, came with both advantages and disadvantages. She was stronger and faster than any known human, and her senses were much sharper. The claws and tail were also pretty handy.
But she'd also gained an all-over fur coat, which a) could get pretty warm and uncomfortable, and b) and much worse, attracted fleas, ticks, and other annoying little biting things. Like Nibbler.
Worse than that, Amy's personality had developed some distinctly catlike quirks, like an irrational fear of water, a constant craving for seafood (Dr. Zoidberg had started looking at her suspiciously every time they were in the same room. Like he was afraid she'd try to eat him. As though.), and a need to constantly sharpen her claws on things.
Her parents had taken her change surprisingly well. All they cared about was that she could still have children. In fact, they'd found a whole new way to annoy her, now that they could set her up with losers of two different species.
Speaking of which... her cell-phone was ringing.
"Hello? Mom? Yeah, I'm okay. Fry's putting me up until my forms clear... no, mom, he's NOT going to father your grandkittens... Uh huh... uh huh... no, mom, I don't want to meet Mrs. Sanchez's Persian... yes, I know he's got a wonderful pedigree and everything, but I'm, like, 20 times his size! And intelligent! I WANT my kids to have thumbs and walk ere- no, that doesn't mean I'm planning to have any right no-yes, mom, I know twenty years is a long time, but once they're up, you'll have more grandkids than you know what to do wit-Mom? Mom, I'm hanging up now. I have to go. Fry needs me to move furniture."
"No I don't."
"...want to do it by yourself. Right. Okay. Bye, mom. Bye. I'm hanging up. Bye.
"Ai ya, she's so annoying!"
"Hey, at least she's okay with you changing species. My dad'd probably kick me out of the house for being a commie experiment. He was always going on about secret experiments that turned men into animals. Then he'd have his eighth beer and pass out, and everything would be fine. God, I miss him sometimes," he said with a wistful sigh. "
"I guess the only thing worse than having parents is not having them."
"Hey, what're you poop factories yammerin' about? 'Zis about those "feelings" that you have? When are you gonna learn that emotions're just one more way that you're inferior t'machines?"
Amy groaned. "Hey, Bender."
"Hey, Amy. Cough up any good hairballs lately?" The robot laughed as though he had just said the funniest thing ever said in the history of the universe. To himself, it probably was. For someone who claimed to have no emotions, he sure had a healthy ego. The sad thing was, she had coughed up a hairball today. Yet another tile in the mosaic of being a freak of science.
"Leave her alone, Bender. She's having a tough time."
"Jeez, Fry... ya won't let me cook her, ya won't let me use 'er as a pack mule, ya won't let me make her fight other animals for cash, and now I can't even insult her constantly... what's the point o' keepin' her around?"
"She's a friend, and she needs a place to stay. I mean, you did the same thing for me, right?"
"Yeah, but you're useful, for fakin' fingerprints an' things! She don't even have fingerprints anymore! And she sheds!"
"I DO NOT!" hissed Amy.
"Calm down," Fry said. "Look... we've got a lot to do today. I wanna be less than an hour late for once."
The tube between the Robot Arms and PE was down for extended maintenance, so Fry and Amy had to walk to work. So far, no one was staring...
...no one, that is, except the one person who could cause them trouble.
The stern-looking brunette went down the checklist she carried, checking off violations as she went.
"Walking upright... not wearing a bell... he's not carrying a pooper-scooper... oh yes, mustn't forget that."
She paused, as if remembering something...
"Oh, I almost forgot... Form 23847B, subform 782.13: Notification of intention to seek vengeance on an ex-lover for ruining your career." She filled out the form quickly, stamping it the requisite five times, then dropping it in the nearest Bureaumat.
A cruel smile formed on Morgan Proctor's face. "I'm going to make your life as much of a hell as regulations allow me under paragraph 87692.458D, Philip J. Fry."
Leela drummed her fingers on the conference table. Fry was late yet again.
Probably giving Amy a private sponge bath, she thought ruefully.
No, that wasn't fair. Fry had simply opened his home to someone in need. Which was a good thing, right? A responsible thing. The kind of thing that she was always criticizing him for not doing. And it wasn't like Amy had any romantic interest in Fry anymore...
...except that she practically made love to him right in the middle of the lounge when he made the offer...
That wasn't fair either. Amy was just being overly friendly because of her new animal tendencies. Cats are very touchy-feely, right?
Yeah, she sure was touchy and feely last night. Little furry slut...
What is WRONG with me? Why am I so jealous? It's not like I have the slightest bit of romantic interest in Fry... right?
Leela's reverie was interrupted by the arrival of the two in question. She submerged her frustrations deep within herself and summoned up an air of cordiality.
"So... how's the arrangement working so far?"
"It's great! Fry's been really considerate and attentive."
Yeah, I bet he has. Especially with you prancing around with those furry yabbos in his face...
"That's good to hear. So, you know what day it is, right?" Oh, I've been waiting for this.
"Yep. Combat practice day."
As in, the day I continue my streak of completely humiliating you.
"Right. Suit up and I'll meet you in the exercise room."
Now, they faced each other in the ring. Bender was taking bets, as usual...
"All right, I'm givin' 10-1 odds against Amy. Who's got a wager? C'mon, it's a sure thing. Takin' all bets here."
"Friend Bender, I would like to bet this small piece of lint I found in the dryer."
"Lint? What the hell am I supposed t'do with this, scampi-breath?"
"Well, I was going to make a nice pot of soup with it, but today I'm feeling lucky!"
Scruffy rang the bell, starting the first round. "Shake hands, n' come out fightin'."
Leela went for a headlock, but found herself grabbing nothing but air as Amy nimbly ducked her grab and in one fluid movement, swept Leela's feet out from under her with a swift kick. Leela hit the canvas, hard.
"Ooh, I knocked her down! Blitchin'!"
Leela quickly got back to her feet. Better play this a lot more carefully. She's faster than I thought.
The two circled each other, looking for an opening. Finally, Leela made her move, feinting right, then tackling Amy's left side. Soon, she had her in an upside-down headlock....
"Nice job, Amy. You actually put up a fight this time. I'm impre-
She couldn't finish the sentence, because something long, thin, and furry had wrapped itself around her throat and started squeezing.
Aw, crap... I forgot about her tail!
Leela lost her grip on Amy, who quickly released her tail, wrapped her legs around Leela's neck, and flipped her across the ring.
Okay, this has stopped being fun. She's kicking my butt here. I can't believe that getting fused with a kitten could amp her by this much!
She slowly got to her feet, and began circling Amy again. The felinoid was smiling, enjoying the thrill of the hunt. Suddenly, she unfurled a claw and made three quick slashes on Leela's leotard, cutting out a triangular-shaped flap.
"Uh... that's supposed to be an 'A'. I'm taunting you. But, A's are kinda hard to slash into things like clothing. Maybe I should've gone with a 'W... Sorry, I'm just not very good at this!"
Leela snarled. "Nobody defaces my leotards! NOBODY!"
How she ended up on the floor, pinned, was anyone's guess.
"One... two... three." Scruffy rang the bell, ending the match. "Scruffy says the winner are Amy."
"My lint! My precious lint! Gone forever it is!" wailed Zoidberg.
"Looks like your winning streak's over, Leela."
You smug little... I oughtta... Leela fought her impulse to strangle the girl and instead extended her hand. "Good match, Amy."
"Thanks. Hey, better luck next week, right?"
"Right... next week."
She took that pretty well, thought Fry as he departed for his usual 150-minute lunch hour.
Where to go today... the Imskian place? Nah. The food there was pretty good, but the portions were literally microscopic. Bismollian? He didn't really feel like having rocks in magma sauce today. Soylent King? No way, he always felt uncomfortable about eating burgers that he might've known personally.
He was still debating it by the time he got to Lexingtron Avenue. As he waited for the light to change, he heard a familiar voice.
"Ah, Mr. Fry. How convenient. I was going to meet with you at work, but now that we're both here, I can shave nearly five minutes of travel time off my schedule, leaving me ample time to harangue and threaten you."
"Yes, Fry. Now, if you would please sign and initial this Harassment Consent form, we can continue."
"Oh, sure, hold on," Fry mumbled while pulling out his pen. "Hey... wait a minute. Bender warned me to never sign anything without reading it unless it came from him! So you'd better tell me what this is about right now, because I really don't wanna read this!"
"Very well. As you know, in the wake of our affair, I was demoted to Grade 20."
"Yeah, how's that working out?"
"Not very good. In the bureaucracy, once your career's on a downward trend, it stays on a downward trend. I am currently Class 67 and falling."
"Indeed. Which brings me to our present discussion. My current assignment is to the Bureau of Pets. Which means I directly control the fate of your feline roommate. Do you recognize this?" She pulled out a sheaf of papers.
"Yeah... isn't that the application-thingy that Amy had to fill out to be a person again?"
"The very same. Now, it can be processed quickly... or agonizingly slowly. Or it can be lost completely"
"Wait a minute... You're trying to...!"
"Blackmail you, yes."
"I was gonna say 'come on to me', but yours sounds better."
"If you want things to go smoothly, you will pay me five hundred dollars."
"Five HUNDRED? I don't have that kind of money!"
"I know. That's precisely why I chose it. I really want to make your life miserable, Fr-" She stopped, staring oddly at his shirt. "Is that marinara sauce on your shirt?"
"Yeah, I picked this shirt out because the stain matches my jacket. I have one with sauce and blue raspberry jam, but I haven't been able to chisel it off the floor."
'I, um... I see..." she stammered, pulling at her collar. "Er... we'll be in touch. It's a bit too hot right now."
"It's forty degrees!"
"Yes, well, I just came back from Pluto. I'll see you naked-LATER. I'll see you later." And with that she jumped into the nearest tube.
Why do I KNOW that this is going to get worse?
As the day wore on, Leela found herself calming down.
"So what if she humiliated me? It's just the one time, right? She was probably due, right? And it's not like it's going to go past these walls, right?"
So she had convinced herself by the time the workday ended.
"Captain's log. Stardate, um... now. Our victory against the Lazynoids of Couchpotato-11 is almost virtually completely 23% certain. My brilliant strategy of flinging bomb-carrying troops at their cities with giant rubber bands is not only proving extremely effective, but is providing us a huge savings on our electric bill."
"Errm, Captain, we don't pay electric bills, sir."
"Of course we don't, Kif, not with MY brilliant cost-cutting measures. Like replacing the crew's shower with a box of moist towellettes. It's brilliant thinking like that that's the difference between being the idle of millions and a lowly monkey-boy like yourself. Aren't you writing any of this down, monkey-boy?"
"*groan* Can't you use the recorder built into your chair, sir?"
"I already am, but the scratchy serenade of pencil on paper helps me to think. And if there's anything I'm all about, it's thinking. Which reminds me. It's about time for my brainstorming session. Kif, do a Google search for 'Erotic Leela pictures.' And then put your head next to the monitor. I'm going to need a mousepad."
Each day another piece of my spirit dies, thought Kif as he went about his duties. The only thing that had kept him from putting a final end to his misery was... her.
It was two years ago. He'd had it all planned. The moment the Titanic pulled back into Earthdock, he'd make a beeline for the nearest suicide booth.
And then he'd met... her.
It wasn't her physical appearance; by the standards of the Teralians of Amphibios-4, Amy Wong wasn't remotely attractive. Her skin was that drab caramel shade, her head was covered with that stringy stuff humans had, her body was rigid instead of squishy, and she had too many digits and one breast too few.
No, it wasn't her looks. It was her spirit.
Teraliens have a sixth sense that can perceive a person's... aura, some would call it. Kif had known from the first time he sense Amy's aura that she was the only one for him.
So why hadn't she called in the last five days? Could he have somehow displeased her? He couldn't call her at work anymore; Leela had permanently had all incoming calls from the Nimbus blocked. He'd tried to call her at home, but there was no answer.
What if... something horrible had happened?
"Ah! Paydirt! I knew if I kept searching, one day I'd get some hits!"
"Yes Kif. Whoopee. Whoopee, indeed. Let's check out this 'wwwwww.benderisgreat.com', shall we?"
Kif winced as he felt Zapp click. Sometimes, not having a skull HURT.
"Oh, my. When they say, 'erotic', they're not just whistling Dixietron. Excuse me while I print these out, after which I will retire to the lovenasium for some more intensive... brainstorming. Meet me in forty-five minutes. Bring some of those moist towelettes."
Kif shuddered. Still, forty-five minutes without Zapp was forty-five minutes without Zapp. After the fatso had collected his printout and left, Kif headed out to enjoy his all-too brief moment of freedom...
...but stopped when he saw just WHAT had captured his diseased imagination.
It was, indeed, a picture of Leela, and it was indeed erotic, by Zapp's warped standards, anyway. Kif had never understood the appeal of watching females fight each other.
But it was her opponent that caught Kif's attention. It was a female humanoid feline, but the hair was unmistakable. This creature was Amy somehow. Could this strange bestial metamorphosis be why she was avoiding him?
Fry and Amy were preparing to head back to the apartment.
"So... you gonna call Kif tonight?"
"Fry, I can't! Not looking like this, anyway!"
"Meh. He loves you, I don't think he'd let something like a severe need for electrolysis get in the way of that."
"You don't understand, Fry. Cats, or something a lot like them, are his species' natural predators. If he saw me, all he'd be able to see is a horrible monster that wants to eat him!"
"Ohhhh... so it's one of those. Well, whenever you're ready. Anyway, let's-"
"Hold up a Kingston second, woman! You n' you can't be leavin' now... ya gotta stay and clean the ship's ducts. Some walkin' crawdad jammed them up with herring intestines," bellowed Hermes.
"Hey, you find a better place for them, you should, Mr. 'I'm smarter than the doctor.'"
Amy groaned. "Guess I'm crashing here tonight, Fry. Have a good night." With that, the girl trudged off to her task. "On the plus side... free seafood."
Ewww, though Fry as he tubed toward his apartment.
"Eight Simple Rules for Abducting and Probing My Teenage Daughter is brought to you by Lamprey's Insurance. If your host organism is lost, stolen, or damaged, we'll replace it for you. That's why smart parasites know: 'You're in good suckers with Lamprey's."
Fry flipped the channel. Years of vegetating in front of the TV had given him an innate sense of when commercial breaks ended. He had just enough time, to run to the bathroom, then to the kitchen to get himself a can of Ortega's Chunky Garden-Style Beer, and get back to the couch.
He got up to start his run when the doorbell rang. Can't be Bender, he'd just jimmy the lock, thought Fry. I wonder who...
"Open up, Mr. Fry."
Oh no. I knew there'd be problems.
'Um... this isn't Fry! My name is Bender! Um... bite my shiny metal butt!"
"Nice try, Philip. But everyone knows that Bender doesn't say 'butt', he says 'ass'. Now, let me in, or I'll make sure that application never clears."
Reluctantly, Fry let the woman in.
"See? We can be cooperative. Now, if we want to cooperate further, we'll hand over the five hundred dollars now, won't we?"
"Um, sure." He checked his pockets. "Well, I'm fresh out. I guess you'll have to cover it."
"Oh, okay I... ah, I see. I was using the bureaucratic 'we' and you used 'we' in the first-person plural sense in an attempt to trick me. Pronoun trouble. In bureaucratic circles, it's known as the Chuck Jones Maneuver. Uncharacteristically clever of you, Mr. Fry."
"Look, I don't have five hundred dollars, okay? Maybe we can work something else out."
Morgan advanced on Fry. "You have nothing I could possibly want, Phili-" Her nascent tirade was cut off prematurely short by a squishy sound.
"What in the -- Mr. Fry, is this mold?"
"It wasn't always. Funny story, really. It all started one day when me an' Bender were throwing cupcakes at each other for no reason..."
She sniffed the air. "And what's that odor?"
"Yeah, that would be Dirty Underwear Mountain over there. I was thinking of turning it into an end-table."
She smiled lustily. "There's my dirty, dirty boy." Grabbing him, she threw him down on the bed. "You've been very, very filthy and smelly, haven't you? Filthy, disgusting, vile... Take me! Right here, right now!"
"Hey, hold on a second! I'm not going through this again! For one thing, I'm in love with someone else. Also, you're crazy and evil."
"Then how about this, Philip... you spend one night with me, doing whatever sick, depraved things I can think of, and in return, I'll push Ms. Wong's application through. You get part of your apartment back, I get a night of raunchy, degenerate carnal pleasure, and she gets to be treated like a person again. It's win-win-win! But decide quickly... my lust's starting to wear off."
Oh, man, this is horrible. If I do it, I'll wreck my relationship with Leela. Okay, so it's not actually a relationship, it's more of a thing where I pine away for her while she ignores me, but it's something. If I don't do it, I'm condemning Amy to being treated like an animal for the rest of her life.
If only I had some time to think about it!
TO BE CONTINUED!!!