From the past
It was a waste of time. I was irresponsible. I was going nowhere. My family never believed in my life ending anywhere but in the gutter. Today had been Thanksgiving, and I was everywhere but home. I spent that family affair all over the city of New York visiting one memory at a time. In every place my hope had died and all the times I forgot who I wanted to be. I realized near the end of the day I had been going backwards. From my last girlfriend dumping me to some of my earliest joys. Arcade gaming. I was biking back home when I saw a defective sign flashing ‘Space Shak Roll-a-Dome’. It was just one more reason to stay away from my father, mother, and older brother. Inside was a place straight out from my childhood, loud tacky and filled wall to rink side with arcade machines. All my old favorites were there, Ms. Pac Man, Monkey Fracas, and Space invaders.
“Fry!” Leela’s voice jarred Fry back up to the present. He was not so dazed that he could not tell where the sound was coming from. On his right side, and somewhat down was the screen of a video phone.
“Leela, What up?” She was angry, as she often was when balancing captain and mother. Normally familiar it felt discordant, as a million years worth of patience hitting its finality. He tried to piece together what was happening and why she was so strange to him. It occurred to him then, the whole day was not his own. It could have been a Holo-Movie experienced second hand through the words of another, now bearing an awkward relevance.
Bluntly, Leela asked, “Do you think you could maybe take care of that space cow about to ram us?” Fry’s hands moved before his thoughts caught up with them. They gripped a pairs of cold steering sticks and a moment of childhood revelry gave his body the comfortable meaning of an old master renewing work in a long practiced craft. He was in the gunners chair, the why reaching critical understanding after the raging space cow rolled into the view port. Red pulsating lights and sirens blared “Incoming!”
“Space Cow, meet Space Shak’s all time high scorer, summer of 93!” For this point blank aiming, his thumbs eased onto the firing buttons. Outside, space exploded in a rainbow of blue light, quickly overtaken with a red wave of cow debris engorging the ship. The stuttering and failing of the ship did not stop Fry leaping and raising his fists in triumph.
Bzzzt “Fry, get down here, now!” Bzzzt Through a somewhat dim cloud of perception rose in Fry the feeling that this wasn’t a good thing.
He nearly fell down a flight of stairs and stumbled off a ladder, his body uncontrollably clumsy. Nearing the Cabin door, Fry wished his nightmares would come true and the hallway would expand into forever separating him from. Inside, bender was poring over a magazine titled Better Chrome and Bending Units. “Hey Leela, March’s issue features Martha Stewarts Head demonstrating how to install a mini-bar in the chest cavity. Let me install one in you! You’d be the envy of every thirsty robot.” and without sarcasm, said, “You look like you’ve more than enough room.”
“Bender,” she scolded, “I’m alive! You can’t install anything in anywhere!”
Uneasy steps followed the rushing of the cabin door. Being an arms length to Leela did not comfort him because he was not anywhere near Leela. He was approaching the Captain. Running would prove nothing, he knew. Thinking her in depth diagnostics, his approach to her captain’s chair was softened. He was ready to turn back when a squeak escaped from his bachelor’s sneakers, spinning Leela's dime drop fury towards Fry.
“What The Hell Happened Up There!” her voice was percussive, spaced into disbelief.
“I uuhh saved us heroically by killing that space kuh.kuh…”
“You sat there for three minutes while I evaded it! We could have died!”
“But I saved us didn’t I?” Leela couldn’t just brush this off.
“Fry, in a well funded and morally organized ship, the way you acted would have forced me to reassign you to somewhere where you couldn’t hurt anyone.” Fry sighed audibly. “But since Bender’s the only one who can navigate, I can’t. Just go now and help him clean the engines. We still need to move out of here.”
As he left, he looked back at Leela, and he felt nothing. As hard as it is to come to love someone, the few degrees of separation it shares with shame bears harder than giving up.
Bender tip toes into a room in the main hallway, assured he is alone, he opens up his chest plate to remove a voice recorder for a two way radio. His fingers run over the frequency dial, precisely to 1104 htz.
“Caterpillar to Pong, Caterpillar to Pong, Do you read me?”
“Ay Matey!” the piece is older than Bender, and garbles much of what a human could hear.
“Here’s a little info on our ‘vacation’ routes.” Concentrated lights glow inside his chest cavity, and then dim in a terminating pattern. Bender’s self satisfied laughter fills the room, covering Fry’s heavy footsteps.
“Bender, what’s so funny?”
“Ahh, Fry! Uhh I finally found a place I’m ticklish. See?” Benders hidden hand extends into his chest. His flat laughter satisfies Fry.
“I’ve been wondering about that spot for a long time, but I’m just not in the mood. Bender,” he starts, “what would you do if you were feeling down?”
“What else is there? Some cheap floozies and a 96 pack of fortified beer!”
“What if you didn’t have those things?”
“Hmm, let me see.” His visor plate covers his eyes. He sways slightly, clanks his foot and grates his chin. Inside he reads, muttering for the benefit of concentration.
“If no hooker and no booze then go to humankill1.exe.” forcibly muffling the last word.
“I didn’t catch the last part.” Fry said.
With his usual cheer, he replied “It looks like I’m programed for organized sports.” Fry doesn’t look happy. “Cheer up, whatever it is, it can be ignored.”
“I guess so.” He motions Bender to follow him. Let’s go clean the engines already.”
“Don’t be so impatient, I’ll be, down in a minute.” As Fry heads to the airlock, bender piston foots it away.