Delicious Surprise, Part 11
See part one for disclaimers!
I don't believe the rules of Thanksgiving in the future have been set up, so I tried to invent my own.
Leela watched as coffee dripped into her cup. When it reached the top, she picked it up and sipped. "Mmm... Hey, I didn't ask for bacon-flavored," she muttered.
Fry, distributing cans of Bachelor Chow to their assembled friends, shrugged. "I can't get anything BUT bacon-flavored out of that thing." He picked up her coffee and sipped the rest.
Leela slumped into her seat, and Fry recognized the source of her unhappiness. "Maybe you can get through to Lilah now."
The notion perked Leela up, and she glanced at her wrist communicator. A quick punch of the button got her a signal. "It's working!"
Punching a series of numbers into the communicator, Leela was rewarded by another buzzing sound...and the sudden appearance of a tiny, square-shaped pupil.
"Gah!" she blurted out, startling the person at the other end.
"Gah!" echoed a too-familiar voice.
"Bender! What are you doing on Lilah's phone?!"
"I was just tryin' to get th' weather on this thing!" Leela's expression showed disbelief. "What?!"
"Where are you?"
"Hey, don't worry; we're just stuck downtown at the Head Museum..."
"What?! You're ashed in?"
"Yeah, but...hey, calm down, Leela. I got a handle on everything."
"Shh, she's asleep. Ya know how long it took me to get 'em to bed? Especially Dania."
"Dania?!" came Kif's panicked cry. "Oh no! She's with you?"
"Aww, damn; now Squish-o's gonna freak out!"
"Don't worry, he's not," Leela fabricated, as Kif hyperventilated into a paper sack.
"You ain't gotta worry. Th' plows're gonna come through any minute!"
"No, they aren't. Mayor Poopenmeyer Jr diverted all of this year's ash plow funds!"
"But there's a way out; you could dig yourself..."
"Bender, calm down!" Leela shouted curtly. "You and the girls could probably figure out a way to dig-"
"Th' doors open from the outside!"
Leela took a deep breath. "Oh Zombie Jesus..."
"Bender! This is Hermes!" He bent over Leela'a shoulder. "Maybe I should be gettin' in touch wit' Dwight. I think they got a backhoe."
Leela smiled. Dwight had become quite a success since graduating high school; he had been assigned to work at a florist's shop; Cubert, being a clone, wasn't subject to career ordinances. It didn't shock their parents that they turned that flower shop into one of the largest landscaping emporiums in the history of the Milky Way. Both had hoped for something bigger and, while satisfying the demands of his career chip, Dwight turned his eye toward being a corporate executive. They had made a mint when the shop made a public stock offering.
"Do that, Hermes," Leela encouraged as he ambled off. "You guys sit tight!"
"We ain't got no other choice," Bender frowned.
"Have Lilah call me back," Leela reminded him.
"And NO STEALING!"
Bender groaned, nodded, and closed the connection.
Fry soothed his wife. "They'll be okay, Leel. They're with Bender."
"That's the point!" she cried.
"We can't do anything for them right now."
"And there's, like, fifty pounds of ash out there," Amy added helpfully. "We're not going to be doing any deliveries."
"Calm down," Fry urged. "Huh?" A sudden knocking in the ventilator disturbed his speech.
"ZOIDBERG!" the threesome cried together.
"Doctor Z, where are you?" Amy shouted.
"I crawled into the ventilator to stay warm! I can't find a way out, and now I'm getting verklempt from the heat!"
Amy rushed over to the landing bay, where she kept her tools. "Sounds like he's stuck in the connecting vents over our heads."
"Don't move, Zoidberg!" Fry yelled.
"I'll try, but the heat is burning and stinging my knees."
"Uh - well - " Leela groped.
"-We'll tell you a story!" Fry offered.
"A story?" The childish hopefulness in Zoidberg's voice was touching.
"Sure!" Leela added, shouting in the direction of the ceiling. "Uh - once upon a time, a husband and wife were trying to prepare for their first Thanksgiving as a married couple-"
Leela dipped her baster into the thin, clear juice at the bottom of the pan, allowing a stream of the liquid to wash over the browning breast of the Thanksgiving bird.
"Mmm!" Fry smacked his lips. "Smells good."
"It should; this is the best Partonian Hen the market had."
She nodded. "It's a special breed of what was called turkey in your time, bred especially for their large, plump breasts. They also make their own stuffing."
"Neat. I think."
"It's kind of sad, actually. When a little red tab pops up on their backs, it's time for them to go to the slaughterhouse."
"Tough life," Fry noted. He patted his wife's shoulder as he passed by, and the corners of Leela's mouth turned up in response. The holiday season was shaping up to be a hectic one for them, even more so now that Santa Robot was out of commission. It seemed that everyone in the galaxy had a package to mail, and what didn't immediately go to Mom's ended up at Planet Express' door. Fry felt as though he'd seen every corner of the Milky Way.
"Okay; this should feed six people..." Leela strode over to the counter, where a large bowl of salad sat. She tossed the mixture of greens and handed the bowl to Fry. "Is Bender still watching the MurderBall game?"
"NOO!!! DAMN YOU, POLYTECH U!!!"
"Want me to check?" Fry asked. Leela just smiled and handed him the salad.
Fry had decided to help Leela in the kitchen instead of watching the very confusing sport of MurderBall. It was a kind of like football; huge-shouldered, burly men or robots in uniform trying to drag a ball down the field. But though it was exciting, the blimp duels and laser snipers made it too hard to follow.
Out of the corner of his eye, Fry watched his wife unmold a large, gelatin salad onto a platter, and admired her constant companion: her smooth control. He had tried to help, but, with the aid of previously prepared food, Leela was a dynamo. She followed him to the kitchen table, which had been set up elaborately for the afternoon.
"Y'Know, in my time, Thanksgiving was on the last Thursday in November."
Leela nodded. "I know. They changed it after they rebuilt the city. October's a more fallish time, anyway." She poured Bender a Valvoline Cocktail. "I think we're ready."
Fry ducked his head through the swinging doors which separated the kitchen from the living room. "Hey, guys, supper's on!"
Bender stomped through the doors, extinguishing his cigar in the dish-filled sink. "Fine with me! Those jerks at Polytech still can't program their way out of a paper bag!"
Zoidberg's waddle showed more confidence. "Bender my friend, you should have bet on the Quarks!" He planted himself in a chair opposite the robot. "Fifty big ones, all for Zoidberg!" he said, clearly pleased.
Bender muttered something beneath his .wavs about boiling his friend and serving him up for dinner. In the middle of one of his more vile threats, the doorbell chimed.
"Who are we missing?" Fry asked his wife.
"No one; Amy's with her folks, and Hermes, LaBarbara and Dwight are eating together. Wait, where's the Professor? Oh." She trailed off as the hall toilet flushed.
"Okay, I'll get it!" Fry shouted, covering the distance between the kitchen and the living area as quickly as possible. When he opened the door, however, he was surprised to see a familiar, squishy green alien on his doorstep.
"Er - um - I didn't have anywhere else to go for the holiday. I was wondering... is Amy here?"
"Nah. She's with the Wongs on Mars." Kif sighed heavily. "What's wrong?"
"Oh dear," he sighed again. "I was hoping to see her in person. We've spoken regularly on the phone, but it's not the same as being in her enchanting presence..."
Fry smirked; he could remember a time when he had used the words 'enchanting presence' when talking about Leela; that was before learning that she snored.
"So, what you wanna do is have a talk with her, right? Weird; last time I wanted to be alone with Leela was..." He gasped dramatically. "You're going to ask Amy to marry you?!"
Kif sighed, more deeply than before. "I was hoping to do so before she graduated college."
"You've gotta do it! Soon! Believe me, I know; Amy's a hot little number and-" He paused when Kif began gasping for breath. When the alien's breathing slowed, he continued "-she really likes guys!".
"Fry, what's taking so l-" Leela peered at Kif's hunched form. "Aww, Kif. Are you hungry?"
She smiled. "What did Fry say to you? Why did he make you cry?"
"I didn't make him cry!"
"No, he didn't." Kif reached into the pocket of his uniform and withdrew a velvet box. "I bought this for Amy." He slipped the lid open.
Both Leela and Fry gasped at the glittering brilliance of the diamond ring within. Kif closed the box and tucked it back into his pocket.
"It just hasn't been the right time. And Amy..." His expression turned worshipful. "Amy must fly freely, like a butterfly in full flight." His eye misted over with tears.
"That's beautiful!" Leela uttered, as she wrapped an arm around Kif's shoulder. "Come into the kitchen, Kif."
Sniffling, he followed.
The crustacean patted his belly. "Ahh; a richly rewarding meal!" He clacked his claws in delight.
"Yeah, but now there isn't any left for the rest of us!" Fry gestured toward the empty platter. Not even bones remained.
To the crowd's surprise, Leela appeared with another platter filled with roasted bird. "I know you guys too well." The rest of the crew extended ravenous hands, but Zoidberg sat heavily in his chair, too sated to move.
Leela, who had been wise enough to eat beforehand, cast a sympathetic eye to the doctor. "Zoidberg, would you like to watch the rest of the game with me?"
He thought for a while. "Why not? Maybe Zoidberg can win more money from his friends, why not?"
"Oh yeah?!" Bender popped his head in from the guest room. "I bet ya fifty that the washer stops before the dryer!"
Leela snorted, heading out to the living room for some deserved rest.
To Leela's surprise, Zoidberg was a rather pleasant companion. He didn't make much noise, and wasn't obtrusive during the major plays. Just as the game reached a fever pitch of intensity, the television feed was interrupted by the smiling visage of Zapp Branigan.
Leela fought an urge to dive for the controls. Keeping on top of the election was the surest way to ensure that he didn't gain office. Zapp might have something important to say. It HAD to make more sense than the obviously fake fireplace set before which he sat.
"Hello, you lucky Americans," he schmoozed. "I know all of you are wondering: what is Mister Brannigan, the most decorated war hero in the history of this country, doing interrupting the biggest MurderBall game of the year?"
"Yes! WHY?!" wailed Zoidberg.
"Shh!" urged Leela.
"I'll tell you why! Because he's sick of upper-office corruption!" A small picture of the Mayor Poopenmeyer appeared in the upper left-hand corner. "Your local officials are greedy and uninformed. Why, Mayor Poopenmeyer of New New York has been caught stealing staples from his office supply closet! That's why I propose one worldwide, unilateral government. Law enforcement would be handled universe-wide just as it is now: by the DOOP. But wouldn't we all benefit from DOOP-style efficiency in all parts of our lives? Imagine: DOOP-managed health care!"
Leela could imagine it. That was why she felt fear coursing through her.
"But, the most important reason, is my age-end-ea. And how can I sum that up? One word:" The camera swung into an extreme close-up. "War!"
Leela placed a hand to her face.
"Yes, our enemies have been allowed to run loose for far too long, in a very unsexy way." Zapp's expression contorted, and he was clearly trying for sincerity. "We must eliminate Earth's enemies, before monkey overlords become our superiors...again!! Do you want that?"
"No!" cried Zoidberg.
"Of course you don't. Which is why, this November, you'll vote Brannigan." The camera angle changed once more, to a wide shot of Zapp. A very limp dog hopped into camera view. Zapp reached down and picked it up. "Isn't that right, Tiger?"
'Tiger' lay limp in Zapp's arms, not moving to indicate whether he agreed one way or the other. The image faded to that of the flag, and then the words "Vote Brannigan".
Leela scowled at the screen. "Disgusting!"
"Now, Leela, he had a few good points."
"Monkeys! No monkey shall rule Zoidberg!"
"Zoidberg, you're afraid of hair in a shower drain!"
The crustacean whimpered. "It moved!"
"I'm afraid that Zapp is only doing what his handlers wish of him," announced Kif from the doorway where he had been watching. "I left the Nimbus this afternoon because he was 'meeting with his advisors'. He had no time for me." Kif smiled. "I was delighted, until I saw this."
"What do you think it means?" worried Leela.
"It means that he's planning on a very warlike administration. He may do anything from reinstating the draft to initiating contact with a far more advanced species...which could wipe us from the face of the universe!"
"I'm glad my father isn't alive to see this," Fry remarked.
"Because he believed in equality and justice?" Leela asked.
"No, 'cause I don't wanna live in Canada."
Kif groaned. "I must leave. Thank you both for your wonderful meal. I'll try to keep an eye on Zapp when I return to the Nimbus."
"Kif-" Leela said haltingly. "You know that Zapp can't ever be elected, don't you?"
Kif paused in the apartment's doorway. The sadness in his expression spoke volumes, but it was tempered with determination.
"I'll do what I can."
"And we'll do what we can with Amy," Fry vowed, to Leela's surprise. Kif gave them a hopeful look as he shut the door.
"...Hold still, Zoidberg!" Amy ordered, as she unscrewed the final bolt holding together the section of heating duct that trapped him. The bolt gave way, and the cylinder collapsed onto the breakroom table.
"Can you squeeze out?" Fry asked.
"Yes..." Zoidberg squirmed. "No!"
Amy groaned. "I'll get the blow torch."
"I'll get the butter," countered Fry
Leela leaned against the table with a sigh.
"You didn't tell me how the story ends!" protested Zoidberg.
"You lived it. You know how it ends."
"True, but a story can end differently. Do you not remember the 2820 Fairytale Revisionist Act?"
Leela shook her head at her friend's naiveté. That he could still believe their lives could change and become something fresh so many years later was sort of heartwarming.
If it weren't so stupid.