Fan Fiction

Death Clock Countdown, part 1
By JustNibblin'


                                   "DEATH CLOCK COUNTDOWN"


               Oh why should the spirit of mortal be proud!
               Like a swift, fleeting meteor-a fast-flying cloud-
               A flash of the lightning-a break of the wave--
               He passeth from life to his rest in the grave-Robert Knox

               And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
               Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?-W.B. Yeats

               See, it used to be milk and, well, time makes fools of us
               all.-Phillip J Fry

                     CAPTION: Expiration date: indefinite, like a Twinkie!

               FADE IN: 

               INT. PLANET EXPRESS - LOUNGE - DAY            SCENE 1

               FRY and BENDER are sitting at the conference table.

                    ...so if your nose ends in your throat, why can't
                    you eat through your nose?

                    I don't know--it would save a lot of trouble
                    chewing, wouldn't it? Should we find out?

               BENDER offers FRY an apple.  FRY hesitates.

                                 FRY (CONT'D)
                    I did tell Leela I'd think more about the conse-,
                    the conse--, well to try to do fewer stupid things
                    and think about the future, anyway. 

                    Another attempt to improve yourself, huh? 
                    Something must have happened with Leela after
                    your opera crashed and burned.

                    It's really not what you might think.  I'll tell
                    you someday soon, promise.  So how about I start
                    with an olive instead?

                      (opens chest)
                    Here ya' go!  I was saving that for my martini,
                    but don't say I'm not one to sacrifice.

               FRY shoves the olive up his left nostril, pinches the right shut,
               and inhales.  The olive lodges in his sinus with a slight "whud". 
               His eyes begin to water. 

                                BENDER (CONT'D)
                      Oh wait, that was the jalapeno stuffed
                      one.  Shouldn't make much of a difference
                      though, right?

               FRY doesn't reply, as he is too busy trying to shove a butter
               knife up his nose to fish out the uncooperative olive.  Just then
               LEELA enters, humming to herself.  Fry whips the knife out of his
               nose and shoves it into his jacket pocket.

                      Hi guys.  Early to the meeting for once!  
                          (narrows eye)
                      Unusual --which usually means trouble. 
                      Fry, what's wrong with you?

                      He just has a stuffy nose.

               FRY smiles weakly.  ZOIDBERG, FARNSWORTH, AMY, and HERMES
               enter and seat themselves at the table.

                      Good news, everyone!

               FRY, LEELA, and BENDER automatically turn to look at FARNSWORTH,
               but check themselves, and look at HERMES.

                                HERMES (CONT'D)
                      I've just made some adjustments to your
                      health and retirement plans!  It's
                      amazin'--we are now turning a profit!

                      Retirement fund?  What's that?

                      Well, Fry, you don't have to worry about
                      it anymore, because as of today you no
                      longer have one --in fact 
                          (handing Fry $100)
                      I've cashed out your account for you. 
                      Don't worry, mon, be happy!

                      More money for no extra work?  

               He turns to LEELA patronizingly.

                                FRY (CONT'D)
                      And you've been telling me all this time
                      that nothing in life comes free!

                      It doesn't.  Hermes, why all these sudden

               She grabs a piece of paper from HERMES.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      And why is his health insurance being
                      cancelled?  Are they worried about him
                      trying to run a marathon again?

                                 PROF. FARNSWORTH
                      Good news, everyone!

               FRY gulps, and the olive shoots deeper into his nasal

                                PROF. FARNSWORTH (CONT'D)
                      Hermes can turn us profitable because of
                      my greatest and latest invention--
                          (dramatic flourish)
                       the death clock!

                      Gleech! Professor, didn't you already
                      invent a death clock at the inventor's
                      conference a while ago?

                      And didn't you already demonstrate it on

                      Yeah, and remember --his CD player is
                      still mine!

                                PROF. FARNSWORTH
                      No, no, no!  This is no ordinary death
                      clock, like what I used on Fry!  This one

                      What do you mean?  What was wrong with
                      your old one?

                                PROF. FARNSWORTH
                      That piece of junk!  It wasn't adjusted
                      for the correct time zone, and because of
                      the chaotic nature of life, small
                      deviations in the present time
                      measurements propagated into huge errors
                      when computing your death day from the
                      worldline constrictions.  The numbers
                      were off by at least 120 years!

                      So I'm actually going to live for ... 240
                      years!  Wow, so much for worrying about
                      my future actions!  See, it all works

                      Fry, mon, try subtraction, not addition.

                      I don't believe in negativity.

                                PROF. FARNSWORTH
                      Fortunately, I only needed to cannibalize
                      parts from the Preventatron to adjust the
                      chronaton feedback, ensuring stability. 
                      Too bad I blew into those Preventatron
                      plans when I had that bad head cold.

                      Well, anyway the Professor has generously
                      given me your death data to readjus' our
                      actuary tables, thus saving Planet
                      Express enormous sums of cash down the
                      road!  Our cash reserves will be growing
                      faster than a zombie invasion!

                      But I don't remember putting my finger in
                      anything strange...

                      Yeah, I've kept my finger to myself
                      actually more like in myself...

                                PROF. FARNSWORTH
                      Yes, instead of putting a dirty finger
                      into the clock, I can now use a camera to
                      make the measurement, like, say, the
                      hidden camera in the center of this table

               He points to flowerpot at center of table.

                      In fact, that secret camera in there is
                      telling me all your life statistics right

                      So that means...

               BENDER lifts up the flowerpot, revealing a small video
               camera on a swivel.

                      Neat!  What does it say about me?  How
                      many centuries do I have?

                                PROF. FARNSWORTH
                      Sadly, the device does not work on
                      positronic brains.

                      ...that if he is taking away my health

                      Um,  Hermes?  How's my retirement plan

                      Ah, Amy, we're going to have to increase
                      your contributions substantially, so you
                      can afford the all the cuteness
                      enhancement surgery you're going to need
                      for the centuries ahead.

                          (glances at Fry)
                      I mean, Oh no! What a terrible burden  to

                      ...it means he thinks I'm not gonna need
                      medical help in the future...

                                DR. ZOIDBERG
                      And Zoidberg?  What destiny lies before

                      The reading here says that you will live

                                PROF. FARNSWORTH
                      Yes, remember that Zoidberg's species
                      reproduces by budding.  Thus there is
                      really no beginning or end to his
                      worldline, no pinches in the spacetime of
                      his ancestors to generate a temporal echo
                      that I could amplify.

                                DR. ZOIDBERG
                      Zoidberg is the culmination of millennia
                      of careful breeding by my valiant
                      ancestors, molded by the harsh forces of

               He nibbles on a discarded boot.

                          (the little train reaching its
                      ...that means that I'm never going to get
                      sick again!

                      Well, yes, I suppose that's true in a
                      manner of speakin'...

                      Hermes, stop toying with him! 
                      Fry, use your brai-- oh never mind!
                      Hermes is saying you're going to die! 
                      And soon! 

               FRY inhales sharply and the olive becomes lodged in his
               throat.  He makes no sound, but begins to turn blue. 
               LEELA, having turned toward PROF. FARNSWORTH and HERMES,
               does not notice.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      And you're exploiting our most personal
                      information, all for cutting costs!? Is
                      that even legal?

                      We've been using genetics for centuries
                      to predict lifespans and assign career
                      chips--why is this any different?

                      But these are our actual death dates that
                      you're using!

                      Leela, you need to relax.  In fact,
                      you've accumulated almost four days of
                      vacation time, and well, if I were you,
                      I'd use them starting today, you know
                      what I mean?

               LEELA stares at HERMES in horror.  Meanwhile, BENDER has
               been watching Fry turn various shades of the rainbow, with
               much amusement.  HERMES looks at Fry, and the camera
               swivels back toward the delivery boy.

                                HERMES (CONT'D)
                      Uh, Fry?  Can I have that money back?

               BENDER whacks Fry in the back, and FRY coughs, spitting out
               the olive.

                                DR. ZOIDBERG
                          (eating olive)
                      Hurray! Manna from heaven!

                      Well, call me a voodoo economist!  

               He beams at a slowly recovering Fry.

                                HERMES (CONT'D)
                      I was wrong about you!

               FRY looks hopeful.

                                HERMES (CONT'D)
                      Instead of today, you'll die instead
                      between Tuesday and Thursday.  How
                      considerate of you!  That's just enough
                      time to get your replacement!
                                                                   SCENE 2

               INT. PETSHOP - DAY

               LEELA, FRY, and BENDER are wandering through a pet shop, with
               Leela wringing her hands, upset.

                      I still don't get why you want to do

                      Yeah, just picking a human to kill as a
                      test would be much quicker proof,
                      wouldn't it?

                          (ignoring BENDER)
                      Fry, the death clock has just predicted
                      both our deaths within a week!  Now
                      before we start overreacting...

               FRY yawns.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      ...we need to test whether that machine
                      really is accurate.  It's already been
                      wrong before.  Maybe the Professor has
                      made another mistake.

                      Or why not just go to a hospital or ape
                      fight with the camera, find some poor
                      loser about to bite it, and follow him
                      until he drops?

                      Well...I did think of it, but it seems so
                      ghoulish.  Also, I think the odds of
                      quickly finding someone who is dying so
                      soon are really small.

               In the background, outside the store, a MAN can be seen
               walking.  Suddenly he falls down a manhole.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                          (steeling herself)
                      I hate to say this, but we're going to
                      have to test it on an animal.

                      Are you sure you want to go through with
                      this, Leela?  This isn't like you,
                      wanting to hurt a harmless animal.

                      Don't make this harder than it is.  The
                      professor said that almost any animal
                      with a limbic cortex would generate a
                      sufficient death signal --it's just a
                      matter of finding an animal I don't like.

               BENDER lifts an adorable kitten out of a cage.

                      OK, then.  How about a few of these?

                                                                 SCENE 3


               An exhausted LEELA stares at BENDER, who is now surrounded by
               discarded animals.

                      Titanese methane slug?

                      But the snowy white mucas makes it look
                      so vulnerable!  And those fangs are so
                      tiny and cute!  And there are only ten! 
                      And they are so expensive!  We need
                      around 300 animals to do a convincing
                      statistical test, and between us we only
                      have $300!

               A distant memory stirs FRY.

                      300 animals?  300 dollars? Why does

               He smiles.

                                                                 SCENE 4


               A circular barrier has been placed around the perimeter of
               the round meeting table, on top of which 300 marked lizards
               are running around, sleeping, napping, and generally doing
               lizard-like things.  In the middle of it all sits the
               swiveled camera, like a god surrounded by worshippers. A
               small platform is mounted in front of it.  LEELA is typing
               some commands into her wrist thingie.

                      OK, I've programmed my wrist thingmajig
                      to pick a random number between 1 and
                      300.  The camera will scan all the
                      lizards, and one lizard should have a
                      shorter lifespan than the others.  We'll
                      record that lizard's tag number, and only
                      then will we look at the random number. 
                      And then..., and then....

                      And then we kill all lizards!

                      No, you will only take the lizard whose
                      number matches the random pick, and then
                      humanely and painlessly end its life with
                      dignity and respect.  If the camera
                      works, the random number and the lizard's
                      tag number should be the same.

               BENDER and FRY nod in agreement.  LEELA scans the lizards
               with the camera.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      Strange..they all seem to have identical
                      death dates, only minutes into the
                      future.  How is that ... wait!  Here's
                      one with
                      Only ten seconds left?

                      Which one?

                      Number 137.

               BENDER holds his "Grabby" hand over number 137 and shoots
               100,000 volts of charge between his fingers.  In an instant
               a pile of ashes is all that remains of the unfortunate

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      Bender!  You needed to wait for my random

                      I know. Just testing out my self
                      jackinator system.  Pretty painless, huh?

                      First, I know you did not install that
                      system for humane execution.  You be
                      careful, or you'll end up in Robot Hell
                      again.  Second, this time I'll not say
                      what I see when I'm scanning, and you'll
                      read off the random number without me
                      looking.  Agreed?

               BENDER and FRY nod in agreement.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      OK, then both of you turn away.  OK, not
                      that one.. Not that one.. Strange.. They
                      are all still giving identical death
                      Maybe this camera isn't accurate after
                      all.  Wait!  Here's one that is 30
                      seconds earlier than the rest.

               She swivels the camera away from the animal in question,
               and holds up her wrist thingie without looking at the

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      Bender, read off the random number.

               BENDER glances at the number and lifts the appropriate
               lizard onto the platform.  LEELA turns away to not watch
               the electrocution.  PROF. FARNSWORTH enters.

                                PROF. FARNSWORTH
                      Good news, everyone!  You're going on a
                      mission to an exciting and unusual

               The three experimenters leap up, startled, and whirl around
               to face him.

                                PROF. FARNSWORTH (CONT'D)
                      We have been contracted to deliver a
                      large quantity of pillows and lettuce to
                      Plushton V, one of the softest celestial
                      bodies in existence that still bears
                      intelligent life!

               Unnoticed by all, DR. ZOIDBERG enters the room behind
               everyone's backs.

                                PROF. FARNSWORTH (CONT'D)
                      The inhabitants of the planet have only
                      recently been contacted by the DOOP, in
                      strict compliance with Brannigan's Law. 
                      A very healthy trade has sprouted between
                      us and them, but under very severe

               DR. ZOIDBERG eyes the lizards on the table with disbelief.

                                DR. ZOIDBERG
                      What vision is caressing my eyes?  A
                      throbbing feast to torment poor Zoidberg! 
                      But perhaps Zoidberg is only dreaming of
                      them?  Or perhaps they are only dreaming
                      of Zoidberg?

                                PROF. FARNSWORTH
                      The Plushtonians are unaware of anything
                      harder than a 2 on the Moh scale of
                      hardness--no plastic, no metal, not even
                      our true forms can be revealed directly
                      to them, or we will change their
                      civilization irrevocably.

               ZOIDBERG eats the lizard on the platform.

                                DR. ZOIDBERG
                      Sweet turenger fills my sappic sac! 
                      These are distant cousins to the
                      Decopodian's mortal enemies, the
                      Saurichians of Gamma Tau 12!  Zoidberg
                      shall both sate his hunger and sate his
                      people's hunger for vengeance!

               FRY, LEELA, and BENDER hear a sudden shrieking sound and
               spin around to see the tail of the very last lizard
               disappear into ZOIDBERG'S mouth.

                                                                 SCENE 5


               LEELA sits in the captain's chair while FRY, BENDER, and
               AMY lounge around the cabin.  The death clock is mounted by
               the captain's chair, easily accessible by Leela.

                      I don't understand why I have to come

                          (peering into camera)
                      The death clock is showing your death
                      decades into the future.  If it is
                      correct--and I'm not saying it is--then
                      this reading means that while you are on
                      the ship all of us are likely safe.

                      Isn't it possible that I escape any ship
                      malfunction that kills everyone else?

                      I thought about that, so I went ahead and
                      took your life support kit and spacesuit
                      off the ship before we left.

                      Chan-tow!  Leela, don't take your anger
                      out on me just because I'm doomed to
                      struggle to be cute for decades to come..

                          (ignoring Amy)
                      Anyway, this gives us time to focus on
                      surviving Plushton V.

                      Leela, Plushton V is covered with a
                      surface so soft that the planet is one
                      big waterbed.  How can it be dangerous?

                      Yeah, and didn't the professor say that
                      the inhabitants have been at peace for
                      over five million years?  That this is
                      possibly the most boring mission I'll
                      have to suffer through?

                      True, but the possibility of cosmic irony
                      terrifies me.

                      Anyway, I thought you didn't believe that

                      No, since Zoidberg destroyed our test we
                      can't absolutely be sure.  But it did
                      predict the death times of those lizards,
                      so there is no reason to take a foolish

               She aims the camera at Fry.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      The camera is actually having a hard time
                      pinpointing your death--it keeps skipping
                      around... but it seems that today is the
                      first real significant chance for you to
                      die, although the peak probability is
                      three days from now.  And as for myself,
                      my readings are also all over the place,
                      but it looks like my first dangerous day
                      is not until tomorrow.

                      That thing seems pretty worthless--can't
                      even get you down to the right day.  How
                      can I even plan my mourning drinking
                      binge correctly?
                      Although...the uncertainties around your
                      deaths opens up some interesting betting

                          (lost in thought)
                      I don't really understand this either. 
                      The professor said that the precision of
                      this new clock is sensitive to all sorts
                      of factors.  Getting close to the date
                      itself seems to narrow down the
                      uncertainty.  A bunch of near-death
                      encounters right in a row might also blur
                      the answer. And the professor thinks that
                      Fry's being his own grandfather has tied
                      a knot in his four-dimensional worldline,
                      messing things up further.
                          (glares at Fry)
                      Not that messing up things is exactly
                      rare for you, is it?

                      I have been prone to a wacky misadventure
                      or two.

                      The only certainty is that Fry will
                      likely die before me, and that today is
                      his first truly probable day.  That's why
                      Amy is here as well--to take over Fry's
                      job for the next few days.

                                AMY AND FRY

                      I've been thinking about it since
                      liftoff, and after careful consideration
                      it makes sense.  Fry, as captain I'm
                      ordering you to stay in your cabin until
                      we are safely back off Plushton's

                      Why? Whadid I do?

                      It's not what you've done, but what you
                      are likely to do.  Face it Fry, the odds
                      of you doing something stupid to kill us
                      both are much higher than my doing it. 
                      Anyway, there are some diplomatic
                      delicacies to this mission that would be
                      much simpler to deal with if you weren't

                      Leela, you know I have no chance against
                      reason and logic.  But please at least
                      let me stay on the bridge!  I've already
                      counted all the rivets in my cabin twice,
                      and it's just not as exciting the third
                      time around!  After all, I've been up
                      here countless times and nothing really
                      bad has happened.

               FRY swivels in his chair, knocking his elbow against a
               large red button.

                      Self-destruct sequence initiated.  Dark
                      matter reaction will occur in 10, 9,

               Fry flails around the console frantically.  Sighing, LEELA
               presses another button on her chair.  The voice stops.  Fry
               turns around to see LEELA, AMY, and even BENDER looking
               steadily at him.

                      OK.  I'll stay below.