Fan Fiction

Death Clock Countdown, part 3
By JustNibblin'

                     least dumber than usual.  Bender will
                      help me with that.  Second, I know we'll
                      be OK, because the Leela I know never
                      gives up, even when facing Death.  I've
                      seen it before.  Third, don't ask me to
                      leave you or hide when you need help. 
                      Fourth, I'm hungry.  Anyone else want a

               He then turns and walks out the door, LEELA staring after

               The camera has captured all of this, and as FRY walks out
               the door, the countdown date for FRY jumps ahead 12 hours,
               and LEELA's jumps even more, so that their death dates are
               now just hours apart.

                                                                SCENE 10


               LEELA, MUNDA, and MORRIS are sitting around the table,
               sipping coffee.  LEELA looks relaxed for the first time
               since SCENE 1.

                      -and then what happened?

                      He went and had lunch.  He was hungry,
                      after all.  And when we returned to the
                      office we found that Farnsworth is
                      grounding us for a few days-"to give time
                      to train up a new crew"-he said, so there
                      would be no interruption in service.  So
                      as soon as we were settled in, I came

               Both MUNDA and MORRIS make small noises of disgust.

                      I'm not sure why you are still working
                      for that man.

                      Actually, I really enjoy it.  
                      I guess I should be saying that I enjoyed

                      Sweetie, you don't really believe that
                      this machine is truly revealing your and
                      Phil's death, are you?

                      Not only do I believe it, but I know
                      what's going to happen.  Once the death
                      times changed on the bridge, after Fry
                      and I had butted heads, I knew.

                      How can you be so sure?

                      I've known Fry for years, and know his
                      strengths and weaknesses, mostly
                      weaknesses.  And the sad thing is that
                      one of the things I like most about him
                      is what's going to kill him.  He may have
                      the hygiene of a space chicken, and the
                      attention span of a flea, and the
                      intelligence of a post, and he's lazy...

                      There was a good point, I thought?

                      Sorry.  My point is that he will
                      occasionally, without a second thought
                      about his own safety, put himself at risk
                      for a friend.  Bender constantly exploits
                      him that way. 

                      Especially, I can't help but notice, when
                      you're involved.  Remember, Morris, how
                      he came by all the times when Leela had
                      those epileptic seizures from the bee

                      How can I forget?  There was also the
                      small matter of the two foot bee sting he
                      took for you.

                      Yes. It's rather sweet, this instinct of
                      his, really.  The problem is that his
                      desire to act usually exceeds his
                      competence, and he's nearly killed
                      himself several times now getting himself
                      in over his head like this.

               She scratches her ankle brace, idly.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      I think a lot of it comes from his
                      inability to comprehend the consequences
                      of his actions.  He's such a child in so
                      many ways, unaware of the finality of
                      death, toying with his life so
                      carelessly.  And it's gotten worse over
                      the years.  He used to be such a coward,
                      which at least kept him fairly safe and
                      predictable.  But recently...

               She stirs her coffee, while her parents watch closely.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      I'm starting to lose control over him. On
                      this last trip he deliberately disobeyed
                      my orders by bringing the camera to me,
                      and then when I hurt my ankle, he rushed
                      over to help me, even when I asked him
                      not to.  

                      And so? What's wrong with him covering
                      your back?

                      Don't you see? It's all coming to a head
                      tomorrow.  When Fry refused to back down
                      on the ship, our death times jumped
                      forward.  Our deaths are linked.  Closely
                      linked.  I think the same thing is going
                      to end up killing us.  And Fry's going to
                      die first because he's going ignore my
                      advice and try to "cover my back,"
                      probably in the most inept way possible,
                      killing us both.

                      If that's the case, why not separate
                      yourselves, so you aren't in the same
                      place at the same time?

                      There's so many ways our deaths can be
                      linked, without requiring both of us to
                      be in the same room.  All Fry has to do
                      is sign a contract, answer an email, or
                      even just try to buy something in his
                      dreams, and who knows how the results
                      will lead to me?  No, I need to keep a
                      close eye on him, even if the whole
                      effort does seem kind of hopeless.

                      Well, sweetie, we've watched you grow up
                      under the worst circumstances, and you
                      never, never gave up.  Anything that rose
                      up to block you, you rallied back up to
                      fight it.  Even if this death clock seems
                      to be accurate, I know my daughter will
                      not wait around passively for the end.

                      You're absolutely right, Dad.  And I
                      don't plan to sit around and wait for
                      Death to knock on my door.  But how can I
                      stop Fry from being himself?  How can I
                      prepare for something that can come from
                      any direction?

                      Any way you choose to face this dear, we
                      are behind you completely, and want to
                      help.  And... you might consider actually
                      talking to Phil about this, instead of
                      just trying to shield him, like he was
                      some idiot child.  

                      Yes, I haven't known him as long as you,
                      but he's never struck me as being as big
                      a fool as you seem to think.  I mean,
                      didn't he recently write an opera for
                      you? By himself?

                      Yes, you've never told us the full story. 
                      What happened that night he performed?

                      Now you're really starting to meddle! 
                      But you don't know how much it means to
                      me to have parents who want to meddle in
                      my personal life.  I promise, if I get
                      through this we'll talk about it further. 
                      But first things first.  Let's begin to
                      fight the future.

               She pulls out a small set of computer memory chips.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      Things are probably going to get hectic
                      and desperate over the next couple of
                      days, and I want a clear mind.  Thus I've
                      already put all my affairs in order. 
                      Here you'll find my video will and
                      financial records, along with
                      instructions for caring for Nibbler. 
                      I've given you two my power of attorney. 
                      Please don't open any of this unless I
                      actually die.

               Munda starts to tear up, but nods her head.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      Don't worry, Mom.  The first step in
                      facing your death is to face the prospect
                      squarely, recognize it, acknowledge it,
                      then prepare for it.  Then you are free
                      to struggle against it, having known you
                      have considered the worst that can
                      happen, and have arranged for it.  Doing
                      this frees and focuses your mind.  It's
                      really kind of liberating, actually.

                      I understand, I really do.  In that
                      spirit, you understand that having you
                      here, confiding in both of us like this,
                      means so much more to us than anything
                      you're leaving behind in this will.  In
                      case we don't have a chance to talk
                      again, we want you to know that.

                      And I do.  I do, Mom.  I'm so glad I've
                      had a chance to meet both of you, and to
                      be able to say "Mom" and "Dad".

               Everyone hugs.  LEELA stands and heads toward the door.

                      Now go and save yourself and that young

                      I know, and I will.

                                                                SCENE 11


               FRY and BENDER are walking down the sidewalk, holding the
               death clock camera in front of them.

                      OK, head this way...

               FRY walks down the alley under the watchful eye of the

                                BENDER (CONT'D)
                      Five minutes.

               Fry turns around and walks down another alley.

                                BENDER (CONT'D)
                      Two minutes.  Keep going.

               FRY continues to walk down the alley, eyes darting left and
               right.  He takes each step as if he were going to plunge
               into a trap.

               They emerge onto another street.

                                BENDER (CONT'D)
                          (continuing to view FRY with
                      One minute.  Hold on. Look left.
                      OK, turn around and look right.
                      OK, go ahead and go that way...thirty

                      That's good enough.

                      Not there yet--stay on course...stay on
                      course...15, 14, 13, 12, 11...

                      I'm bailing out.

               He backs up the street quickly.

                      Wussbot!  Ten seconds til death! That's a
                      new record, but just barely.

               The street ahead is traffic free, nearly empty, and
               peaceful.  Suddenly a piano falls from the sky down onto
               the sidewalk, right where FRY would have been.  SAL looks
               out a window from one of the apartments above.

                      Whoopsay-daisies!  Sorries!

               BENDER does his evil laugh.

                      Ahh, who knew that applied philosophy
                      would be so much fun!  Well, I think
                      we've shown that free will trumps
                      determinism under certain circumstances.

               FRY taps his toe against the piano.

                      That is getting a little too close for
                      me.  Can we do something else?

                      Well, Fry buddy, I was just starting to
                      put together a betting pool on the time
                      and manner of your and Leela's death. 
                      Want to put in?  Hermes has bought
                      several slots already.  The fact that
                      your time is skipping around makes things
                      a little more exciting.

                          (without sarcasm)
                      Aw, I'm going to miss you too, Bender. 
                      Sure, go ahead, if doing this will make
                      you feel better.  But how do you know I'm
                      not going to cheat and kill myself at the
                      time I predicted?  After all, it looks
                      like I have some control over when I'm
                      going to die.

                      That's exactly what I would do in your
                      shoes.  Tell you what. We'll restrict you
                      to Leela, and Leela to you, if she wants
                      to play.

                      Fair enough.  In fact, I already have an
                      bet I would place on Leela.

               He whispers at the side of BENDER's head.

                      Ah, that's not quite what I had in mind,
                      but I'll let you do it anyway.

               LEELA rounds the corner, eyes on her wrist thingmajig.  She
               looks up, smiles at the sight of her two friends, and walks
               towards them.

                                BENDER (CONT'D)
                      Playtime is over.

                      Uh, Bender, maybe we can keep this to
                      ourselves?  Especially the betting pool?
                      She's kind of been on edge lately.

                          (deliberately cheerful)
                      Hi guys!  Wandering around, looking for

                      Yeah, you could say that.

                      How'd you find us?

                      Tracking chip in Fry's pocket.  I slipped
                      it in yesterday.  He usually doesn't
                      change pants for a week or so, so I
                      thought it would be a safe way to keep
                      tabs on him.

                      I like clothes with character!

                      Yeah, look.  It now looks like your death
                      date is tomorrow afternoon, and mine
                      later in the day.  But we've made
                      progress.  The uncertainties in these
                      dates have dropped to just a few hours. 
                      Plushton must have really blurred the
                      issue.  Thus, we should be safe for
                      today, unless we deliberately go looking
                      for trouble.  That's why I felt safe
                      letting Fry go home last night, and
                      leaving you two alone this morning.

               She frowns slightly at the piano lying on the broken

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      Fry, I was thinking about yesterday and
                      I've decided that you're right.  It's not
                      fair to ask you to wait around doing
                      nothing until the moment arrives.

                          (smiling in relief)
                      Really?  You're OK with me trying to help

                          (smiling back)
                      Yes.  But what do you want to do?  Do you
                      want to wait and hope for the best, or do
                      you want to try and figure out what's
                      going to happen?

                      I trust you completely, Leela.  Whatever
                      you think is best.

                      Fry, it would mean a lot to me to know
                      what you want.

                      Well, trying to interfere with the future
                      is often the exact thing that makes the
                      future happen.  So I worry that if we try
                      to do something, we'll end up killing
                      ourselves, instead of simply living our
                      lives and ignoring the camera.

               LEELA is deeply impressed.

                      Did you really think of all that on your

                      Me? Nah.  But this comes up on Star Trek
                      all the time.  There are at least six
                      episodes on exactly this question.

                          (slightly disappointed)
                      So, what usually happens?

                      Well, generally the crew tries to do
                      something anyway, I guess because sitting
                      around waiting for the future to arrive
                      makes for boring TV.  But my death time
                      seems to move around a lot, so maybe this
                      isn't quite like Star Trek, and we can
                      change the future a little bit.

                      Yes, it puzzles me that your death time
                      doesn't seem to be set in stone, like
                      most people I've observed.  Mine jumps
                      around as well, but not as much as yours,
                      and my dates are always linked to yours,
                      which makes me think my death is going to
                      be dependent on yours.  
                          (peering at camera display)
                      Looking at the stored predictions, your
                      death time seems to jump around quite a
                      bit, but always with this upper limit of
                      tomorrow afternoon.  But perhaps if we
                      wander around with this camera and
                      establish your routine, and make slight
                      adjustments in your routine and see if
                      there are any deviations....

               She looks up from the camera display at BENDER and FRY.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      Ten seconds til death two minutes ago?
                      And 13 seconds til death five minutes

               She scans through some past history, then looks at the
               piano again, comprehension dawning.  She looks at FRY, who
               feels that he's just made an terrible mistake, but he's not
               sure what, only that he has somehow let her down.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      I see that you've been having a bit of a
                      game with this.  Do you want to continue
                      to try to save your life, or should I
                      leave you continue to play around with

                      We could probably trim a few more seconds
                      off the record, so I'm thinking...

                      ...of doing exactly what you want us to

                      Of course, why should anything be
                      different from before?
                      Well, why don't we walk through your

                                                                SCENE 12


               FRY is walking with some confusion up and down the side
               walk, like a bloodhound who has lost the scent.

                      Well, some mornings I go directly to the
                      office, but some days I like to go by the
                      waterfront.  But often I'll stop by the
                      coffee shop because the smells remind me
                      of Old New York, but other days going by
                      the suicide booths makes me uncomfortable
                      so I'll cut through this dark alley here
                      and dodge the crack addicts...

                      So you really don't have a regular
                      pattern, from which we can map out the
                      risk, can you?

                      Well, one thing I've never done is cut
                      across the street right here, because of
                      the heavy traffic.  See?

               And he begins to walk across the street.

                      What the hell?

                      Don't worry, we've tested it already. 
                      See-the display hasn't budged.

               A large hovertruck is barrelling down on FRY, the driver
               looking back over his shoulder.  Suddenly the truck brakes
               to a stop in front of FRY.  The startled driver shakes his
               fist at the delivery boy, who steps back onto the curb.

                      I didn't know about all the safety
                      devices that exist out here.  It actually
                      is pretty hard to find ways to die.

                      Why do you think they invented suicide
                      booths?  Cars are automated to avoid
                      pedestrians, bridges and buildings have
                      automated tractor beam recovery systems
                      for jumpers, the tube tunnels have
                      failsafes.  Try to do yourself in inside
                      the apartment and all sorts of rescue
                      devices kick into gear.  There was a real
                      market niche for those booths.

                      Speaking of which...

               She is staring at a booth across the street, with a line of
               four people waiting in line.  She has an odd, hopeful
               expression on her face.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      Give me the camera....Let's see, first
                      guy has 1 minute, second guy has 2
                      minutes, third guy similar--wait! Fourth
                      person has decades left!  Could this
                      thing occasionally misread?

                      I don't think it does you good to do

               However, the three watch as each person takes their turn
               entering the booth.  Just as the fourth person, a woman, is
               about to walk in, a buzzer sounds and an OUT OF ORDER sign
               flips up on the door.  Disgruntled, the woman walks up the
               street and out of sight.

                      And because that one impulsive attempt is
                      thwarted, she ends up living for decades
                      more...this camera is never wrong...

               Something dies in her eyes, and FRY, looking at her, feels
               a stab of fear.  Not for him, but for her.

                      Come on Leela, you're sad.  Let's walk to
                      the PE building from here and see if
                      there are any obvious ways to die.  That
                      should cheer you up.

               LEELA shakes out of her reverie.

                      Sure. That's the only way to work on
                      this.  Try to simplify our lives,
                      eliminate any complexity from our
                      routines, and identify likely vulnerable
                      times and situations.  We'll start with
                      medical issues, once we're at Planet

                                                                SCENE 13


               AMY and BENDER are standing around the kitchen.

                      So they're in with lobster whats-his-face

                      I think that's smart--maybe not the
                      Zoidberg part, but visiting the doctor
                      part.  I'd be willing to bet that after
                      all this worrying about death coming from
                      outside, a bad case of indigestion would
                      actually end up doing the trick.

                      Are you willing to bet?

                      Well... not sure if this is right..

                      Fry's betting.

                      Well, OK.  I'll put one in for Kif too. 
                      He could really use the money, or
                      something to cheer him up.  And he won't
                      take money from Mom or Dad.

                      Does the green guy know what's going on

                      Ever since they learned that the shuttle
                      engine failed because the inexperienced
                      pilot skipped part of the flight check,
                      poor Kiffie is blaming himself for this. 
                      He keeps thinking that if he had gone he
                      would have spotted the error and everyone
                      would have survived.  Squirlesh-ka! 
                      Toying with the future is complicated,
                      isn't it?

                      Which makes it interesting.  In fact,
                      there's quite an online betting industry
                      where you can bet on just about any
                      future event.  That camera could make me
                      so much money...

               LEELA, FRY, and DR. ZOIDBERG enter.

                                DR. ZOIDBERG
                      Bad news, everyone!

               Everyone looks up hopefully.

                                DR. ZOIDBERG (CONT'D)
                      Fry and Leela have only one day to live.

                      Uh, not allowed to use the camera?

                                DR. ZOIDBERG
                      Oh.  Well then, both you and Fry have
                      huge air bubbles in your chests, that are
                      pressing down on your heart.  If this air
                      gets into your bloodstream, you will face
                      instant death.  Zoidberg can't predict
                      exactly when this will happen, but it is
                      sure to be fatal.

                      Zoidberg, those 'air bubbles' are called
                      lungs, and they're perfectly normal.
                      Well, at least we had the medical checkup
                      from Taco Bellvue.  


                      I'm in perfect health.  Nothing out of
                      the ordinary, and considerably better
                      than ordinary in most things.  As for

                      The doctor said I should be dead already,
                      given what coffee has done to my heart! 
                      But my spleen is in great shape!

                      Because it's not yours.  Nothing is ever
                      simple with you, is it?
                      But what I can't understand is even if
                      you had a heart attack, how that would
                      cause my death.  We're probably on a wild
                      owl chase.
                      But just to be safe, we'll need to go
                      online to get the lab results.  Ready,
                      Fry? Fry?

               She looks around for FRY, who is trying to fish a piece of
               toast out of the toaster-bot with a butter knife.  LEELA
               quickly unplugs the toaster-bot.

                                LEELA (CONT'D)
                      How you made it out of diapers, I'll
                      never know.  And is that THE butter

                      Yep, it's my lucky charm.  It saved my
                      life on Plushton V, and I'm never letting
                      it go.

                      Fry, that knife is not part of your
                      regular routine, and so is an
                      unpredictable element.  Would you be
                      willing to let Bender or me keep it for
                      you, for the time being?

               FRY's eyes widen and he clutches the bent and tarnished
               knife to his chest.  LEELA sighs in frustration, and FRY
               looks at her and relents.

                      How about I give it to you just before
                      I'm supposed to die? So it's near me but
                      not on me, so I'm not touching it.

                      I would feel better about that.

                      So are we going online or what?

                                                                SCENE 14