“Why do I have to have a brain scan every year?” asked Fry. He always felt safe riding on Leela’s air scooter, but the northbound traffic in Little Ganymede was always a mess this time of day. Rainy weather and buffeting winds didn’t help any.
“Well, they don’t hurt, do they?” said Leela.
“No…but I’ve got to wear that stupid metal thing on my head all afternoon and answer dumb questions. I hate that.” Fry slumped his head like a little boy. “Why am I so different because I don’t have a delta brain wave?”
“How would you like to be a Cyclops? At least people don’t point at you and say, ‘hey, look at that guy with no delta wave’. Anyway, it’s on the company insurance plan, so just do it. When you’re done I’ll come by to pick you up – we have a four o’ clock appointment with a business client at the Museum of Art.”
Leela brought her Vespa air scooter down to the sidewalk and parked it. She gave Fry a serious look.
“That delta thingee…it doesn’t hurt, does it? I’m just kidding – now get your butt in there. I’ll see you at 3:30.”
She gave him a peck on the cheek and a friendly swat on the bottom … that would be something to think about this afternoon while he was being asked a battery of idiotic questions.
“Isn’t it absolutely incredible?”
“If you say so, Mr. Pizana,” answered Fry, “but what is it?” Leela nudged him with her knee and gave him a stern look. Fry cocked his head over to one side and looked at the painting again.
“My boy, this is one of the gallery’s finest pieces…it’s an original Gerth Trasdar, probably the best known of the Martian modernists. Tell me what you see in it.”
Leela rolled her eye just thinking about what was going to come out of Fry’s mouth. “It looks like…loneliness to me,” said Fry.
A look of joy lit up Mr. Pizana’s face. “He’s got it! Leela, your friend here really does have an eye for art.”
“Hah…he’s probably answering a question from a week ago.” Fry shot her a nasty look.
“Anyway, I’m glad that you two have come over, and I’m glad that you can leave for your pick-up this evening. I’ve been dying for years to add something to our collection from Paragos.”
“I thought the signs in the museum advertised a Paragosian exhibit?” asked Leela.
“Come, let me show you what we have.”
Mr. Pizana took the two over to a dark corner of the museum. “We really don’t know that much about the planet Paragos, but they have been selling the most amazing art to other worlds in their system.” He opened up a glass display case to show them a fragment of a white sculpture no bigger than a small tooth.
“This is it?” asked Leela.
Mr. Pizana had a disappointed look on his face as he gazed down at the piece. “Yes, this is all that we have. We’ve been trying desperately for years to obtain a Paragosian piece, but the art destroyers always seem to get there first.”
“I’m sorry…art destroyers?”
“It’s a long, sad story.” He now broke into a smile. “Leela, touch it with your finger.”
She did what was asked, and placed a fingertip to the tiny chunk of sculpture. Her facial expression immediately changed to one of great joy…she smiled, and laughed out loud.
“So tell us what you felt, Leela.”
“I felt…really, really happy, like warm waves of joy were flowing through me. Can I touch it again?”
She touched it again, and felt that same river of joy and happiness flow over her. She turned to Fry and warmly clasped his hands. “You’ve got to try it, baby…you need to feel this happiness.”
“Baby? What did it do to you?” Skeptically, he reached over to touch the white object. “And?”
“Don’t you feel it?” asked Leela.
“It just feels cold, that’s all. Just like a little cold rock.”
Mr. Pizana had a sad look on his face. He glanced over at Leela. “You mean he doesn’t feel it? Nothing at all?”
“I’ve got a brainwave problem… I have no delta wave. Maybe I can’t feel things the way you guys can. To me it just feels like a shiny, smooth rock. I’m gonna go and look at some more stuff in your ancient Mars collection over there. I’m sorry to be such a wet blanket to everybody.”
As Fry wandered off, Leela explained Mr. Pizana about the brainwave test that Fry had just been through.
“I’m so sorry that he couldn’t feel it. It’s my hope that when you pick up the real sculpture, that he can feel a little of what we can feel through this fragment. I truly hope that you can get to it before the art destroyers do. I wish you the best of luck.”
“We’ll try our best, Mr. Pizana.”
The journey had been an uneventful one, but Paragos was a fairly distant planet. Amy went along mostly to build up some badly needed hours for her logbook, which she’d neglected in recent months. She twisted Leela’s arm until she relented and let her drop the ship into orbit. The three marveled at the landscape as Amy guided the PE ship in to its landing point. At about 800 feet Amy kicked in full compression brakes, creating a loud banging sound at the rear of the ship. “Holy cow,” Leela laughed, “those things are loud enough to wake the dead – you don’t need ‘em for this kind of approach.” She was a little rough on the landing, but didn’t do too badly. They stepped off the ship and gazed in wonder at the alabaster city that was comprised of gigantic white towers.
“I don’t want you two to be too shocked,” Leela said to Fry, “but it says on my wrist thingee that the inhabitants here are all blind. They have a sensory organ in place of an eye.”
“They are blind?” asked Fry. “How can they be artists if they can’t even see?”
“Beethoven was deaf and wrote symphonies,” Amy shot in. “Spluh!”
“Who was Beethoven?” Fry asked. When the girls gave him a mean look, he added, “I’m just kidding.”
“Fry,” Leela asked, “just try to be a little open-minded. This is a big, important job. You really impressed Mr. Pizana the other day with your comment about loneliness. Just try to open your mind to these people.”
Soon a young official dressed in a white cloak arrived in a hovercar, and drove them to a building complex in the heart of the city. Fry couldn’t help but stare at the man, as he had no eyes; he had a layer of skin where his eyes should have been. It made him uneasy. When they arrived at the art studio, the three were directed into a hall full of glistening white sculptures, a few of which were still being worked on by their artists.
Fry leaned over to whisper into Leela’s ear. “Everything here is white,” he said.
“They have no sense of color,” replied Leela, “they have no need for it.”
Another Paragosian, an older man with a fancier white outfit stepped up to greet them. “You must be the delivery service we asked for. Greetings…my name is Oton. Come with me and I will show you what we have for you in the warehouse. I will ask that you not touch the pieces, however, as they are to be delivered to other customers. When we arrive at Mr. Pizana’s piece, I will invite you to touch all you like – it’s very much part of the overall experience.”
Oton showed them the warehouse, and had no trouble finding his way around in spite of having no eyes. They finally arrived at the sculpture that was destined for Earth. A beautiful and graceful thing, it had flowing pieces that looked a little like handles that started at the base and reconnected at the top of the piece. “Thank heavens the art destroyers haven’t gotten to it…your planet will be able to enjoy their first Paragosian sculpture. It is my hope that your species will enjoy it as much as we did making it.”
“This is it?” Leela asked. “I mean it is pretty, but I don’t know that much about art.”
“Don’t judge it merely by its appearance,” said their host, “but use your hands. Touch it.”
Complying, Leela reached out and gently grabbed the shiny white sculpture. She looked around to see the gallery disappear in a hazy fog. When the fog lifted, she found herself in one of the luxurious spa caverns on Trammel VI. Leela recognized the caverns immediately by the huge pieces of crystal scattered about. They were beautiful…they came up out of the warm water, and they came down from the ceiling of the cavern. She had been there once, and it was one of the most amazing places she’d ever seen. Her clothes were now gone, replaced by one of the expensive robes that the spa provided. Leela’s whole body was filled with that same happiness that she’d felt after touching the sculpture fragment back on Earth.
Leela was then startled by a man coming up out of the water. He caught sight of Leela, and stopped. “Oh, miss…I am so sorry about this…I didn’t know this spa was taken.”
“I’m not bothered a bit.” She practically bit her tongue after realizing how stupid her comment was.
“I can use one of the adjacent rooms…”
“No, wait…I didn’t mean to chase you off. Please…stay and talk with me.”
“Can I at least share a glass of ice champagne with you?”
“I’d like that…thank you.”
Leela looked around…she could swear that the voice Fry’s, but it sounded so distant. She then focused her attention back on the man. Very athletic, he had a nice looking set of back muscles. She found him very attractive. And he was a Cyclops, just like her. He came back with a full glass.
“Leela.” She said as she took the glass.
“What?” the man asked.
“My name is Turanga Leela…that is what you were going to ask me, wasn’t it?”
“I didn’t want to be forward…it is nice meeting another Cyclops, though.”
Before Leela could take a sip of her champagne, she heard the voice again. “Leela…can you hear me? Leela…wake up!”
The man got a puzzled look on his face and looked around. “Is there someone else here besides us?”
Leela suddenly felt a sharp pain in her arm. “Ouch!” she shouted. She found herself back in the art gallery. The man and the spa were gone. She turned to a frightened looking Fry who was holding the stun stick that they sometimes brought with them for protection on deliveries.
“I…I had to use this on you…I couldn’t wake you up. I’m sorry…”
“You used the stun stick on me? Wake me up?” Leela rubbed her sore arm. “Fry, that hurt!”
“I couldn’t wake you.”
“What do you mean, wake me? I’m awake.” She looked around to find the aliens gone.
“Leela, look at your chronometer.”
She looked down at her wrist computer and gave a shocked look back to Fry. “My God…if this thing is right, I’ve been out for three hours! But it can’t be…I just had a little daydream…I…”
Leela then caught sight of Amy. She lay there looking sound asleep, with her arm wrapped around part of the sculpture like a child with a security blanket. “Oh, no…” she said.
“Leela,” Fry said, “that was you just a few minutes ago. I can’t get her up either.”
Fry jabbed Amy in the leg with the stun stick and she screamed. Leela had to physically drag her away from the sculpture, kicking and yelling like a child. She began to cry.
“I want it,” she yelled, “I want the Good Thing!” She tried desperately to get back over to the sculpture, but Leela kept pulling her away. “I want more goodness. I want it…I want it!!”
Leela looked into Amy’s eyes…she was sweating and shaking. “Fry…she’s going through withdrawal symptoms…I wonder if there was some sort of drug on the sculpture itself.”
“Only to the human mind,” said a voice behind them. Leela turned to see a blind Paragosian standing near them.
“You did this to our friend…what did you do?”
The alien pulled out a small disc-shaped device from his cloak. “I didn’t do this. I’m one of those art destroyers that I’m sure they warned you about.” He stepped closer. “I am Vasodar.”
“So what happened to our friend?” asked Leela.
“The sculptures on this planet are designed to be a conduit for psychic energy…they pull in the emotions that you already have and amplify those emotions. Thankfully those emotions are from the happy moments of our lives. The whole problem here is that not every race in the cosmos can process the power of these emotions amplified by the sculpture…and we have what happened to your friend here.”
“You people are trying to destroy us…” said Leela.
“No, as a matter of fact, these sculptures have been sold around our part of the galaxy for years. The only problem is that there are those of us that don’t see the threat in our art. And, there are those of us that have tried to right that which is wrong. My artistic friends, although technologically advanced, can be little more than children at times.”
While the Art Destroyer was talking with Leela, no one was paying attention to Amy. She was now sitting in back of Fry, and rummaging about in the art supplies.
“This thing that I hold in my hand is a seismic charge. It won’t hurt any of us if we stand back, but it will shatter the sculpture to pieces.”
Amy quickly grabbed Fry around the neck and held a sharp sculptor’s tool to his jugular vein. “You are not going to destroy the Good Thing…I won’t let you!” The sweet tone of Amy’s voice was replaced with the harsh sound of a desperate person.
“Amy…what are you doing?” asked Leela.
“I mean it! You are going to take the sculpture and put it on the ship. You are going to drop the both of us off at Daddy’s vacation resort on Tevayo. And then you are going to leave us.”
“Amy…Fry is your friend…you can’t hurt him…”
“I mean it…I’ll kill him right here! Now pick up the damned sculpture.”
“I can’t do that.” Leela told her, “you know that.”
“I can,” said Fry. He reached out and grabbed the statue with no ill effects.
The Art Destroyer was surprised when he saw this. “But you’re human…”
“He doesn’t have a delta brain wave…he’s immune to it,” said Leela.
“You are going to be perfect for what I need, Fry.” Amy’s voice still had that evil overtone. “Now get walking with it.”
“You don’t realize what you’re doing!” said the Art Destroyer, pleading with Amy.
“Oh yeah? I realize that he’s got a major artery here. Now get going!”
When the four of them got to the gangway of the PE ship, Amy turned to the Art Destroyer. “This is as far as you go,” she said. The three of them entered the ship with the sculpture. Leela glanced back at the Vasodar, and he gave a nod. She could hear the word “meeting” pop into her mind. Leela nodded back to the man.
After spending several hours in the gallery, Oton finally returned to the warehouse with the younger Paragosian. He noticed that the piece bound for Earth was gone. “Splendid…Mr. Pizana’s piece is on its way. Let’s see…that leaves us two more pieces bound for Srax.” Oton suddenly stopped dead in his tracks, and threw his arm across the young man’s chest. The two sculptures intended for Srax stood before him in separate piles of small broken pieces. He put his hand up to his mouth. “Oh, mercy…they’ve struck again.”
As the two scurried out of the warehouse, they didn’t notice a large sculpture in a far corner. Two Art Destroyers, who were hiding in the warehouse, came over to inspect it. Wrapped around the sculpture was the small body of a delivery courier from Eltron; his six arms were tightly gripped to the piece. One of them stooped down to examine the courier. “Is he alive?” the other asked.
“Barely…he’s probably dehydrated, and hasn’t eaten in a while. We’ve got our work cut out for us. Contact Vasodar.”
The journey to Tevayo was one of the strangest that any of them had ever experienced. Leela had hoped that Amy would wrap herself around the sculpture again and go back to sleep, but she never did. She instead was content to brush her hand against it every once in a while, smiling like a mad woman. At one point she even started speaking to it as if it were a friend. Every time she thought that they weren’t complying with her orders, Fry would feel the sharp poke of the tool into his neck. Leela kept calmly flying the ship, looking for an opportunity to disarm Amy. They traveled on in silence.
“Leela,” Fry asked, “who is Tyler?”
Leela shot back a look of surprise. “No one…why?”
“When you were in the trance, you kept talking about a Tyler. It’s got to be someone.”
Leela sat there silently looking down. “Tyler isn’t a real person…he’s a fantasy that I created in high school. His whole name was Paratumu Tyler. He was the perfect man. A Cyclops like me, he knew everything that I was going through. He was kind, caring, and polite. I guess when I touched that thing, Tyler came back out of the shadows. His looks were a mix of some of my favorite actors and singers at the time. I wanted so badly to know that someone like that could care for me…could be like me.”
“The Good Thing can bring Tyler back for you,” said Amy in a creepy, sinister voice. “I’m willing to share it. You can spend the rest of your life with him.”
Leela glanced back over to Fry; she thought she saw an opportunity to disarm Amy, but she didn’t think she could pull it off without injuring him. “I don’t need a life of fantasy to keep me happy, sister…I have people that love me in the real world.”
“Fine…suit yourself. All the more for me.”
While Amy turned to speak with the statue again, Leela quietly touched the “ident” button on the ship’s transponder. On a panel of a ship far behind them, a bright green blip lit up the dark screen.
As Leela landed the green ship on a custom made island on Tevayo, she could see why the Wongs coveted this planet for a vacation destination. The bluish-green skies were filled with moons, many of them custom built for wealthy timeshare owners. Amy was so careful in how she had everyone exit the ship, that it prevented Leela from attempting a rescue. Again, as Fry carried the sculpture off of the ship, he felt no effects from it. Amy marched them up to the Wong’s vacation home, and placed her hand on the circular palm-lock. The door opened up, and she had them place the sculpture inside the foyer. As agreed, she let go of Fry’s neck. “Now go,” she snapped.
“Amy,” Leela pleaded, “let’s just talk about this…”
“I said go! You are not taking the Good Thing away from me! We are going to be happy here forever, just it and me. Go away before I get my daddy’s laser pistol…go!”
Leela and Fry boarded the ship and left Amy behind. Leela took the aging beast up to 14,000 feet, and set up a racetrack pattern around a group of islands in the Southeastern Sea. After just three loops, she turned the ship back around and began a descent.
Fry rubbed his sore neck. “We’re not just going to leave her there with that thing, are we? She’ll die with it.”
“He should be along any minute…”
“Who?” asked Fry.
“You don’t think I went in to this crazy escapade without a plan, do you?”
“Just trust me on this one.” Leela then reached under the panel to turn on the compression brakes…again, out came that loud clattering sound.
Even though the front door was made of a high-impact platanium, it was no match for a maser carbine. The explosion of energy sent pieces of it flying into the great room of the house. As expected, Amy hadn’t turned on any lights. And, as also expected, they found her wrapped around the sculpture when they turned the lights on. She actually awoke and looked at them. She had tears in her eyes. “You aren’t going to take it away, are you?”
Leela tried to pull Amy off of the sculpture, but had no luck. “Fry,” she said, “you’re good with that stun stick…have at it.”
Fry cringed at having to use it again, but tapped Amy’s leg with the device. She let out a yell and released her grip long enough to be pulled away. Leela quickly overpowered her and tied her up with some rope that she’d brought in from the Wong’s sailboat out at the dock.
There were three Art Destroyers that entered the house, two men and a woman. The woman tried to calm Amy down, who was screaming hysterically while the other two attached black devices to the sculpture. They looked at Fry and Leela. “These are charges that we use to clear out caves…you’ll need to step back,” they told them. Complying, they backed away and instinctively plugged their ears.
The explosion wasn’t a violent one, but more of a loud dull thud. They felt the sonic boom travel through their bodies and rattle their teeth. As a byproduct, they heard vases and fine china shattering all over the house. Windows were broken out. And, as advertised, the sculpture now lay in a heap of shattered bits all over the floor. Leela walked back to check on Amy…she untied her hands and feet. Amy looked around in confusion, tears still streaming down her cheeks.
“It’s gone, isn’t it?” she asked.
“Yes, it’s gone,” said Leela.
“Where am I? This looks like daddy’s vacation home…Why am I here?”
“We’ve got a lot of explaining to do on the way back to Earth.” Leela turned to the Art Destroyers. “Is she going to be alright?” she asked.
“She’ll be fine, once she returns to her normal routine,” said the woman.
Vasodar looked at Fry. “Young man,” he said, “that missing brain wave of yours is truly a gift – at least for today.” He then placed a small computer board into Leela’s hand. “If you run across any more of this art in your travels, please give us a call.” She nodded, and the Art Destroyers went about thoroughly cleaning up the debris from the sculpture. “Make sure you get all of that,” Vasodar said to the other, “don’t leave any of it behind. And hurry – we’ve got two more stops to make before we head home.”
“For the love of all that’s decent…you mean the terrorists got to this one too? It’s gone?”
“Mr. Pizana, we did all that we could,” Leela said. “The whole city was on lockdown when we got there. Paragos is a fairly dangerous planet. The DOOP has informed me that it’s now considered a red travel zone – it’s going to be really hard to get anything out from that world. I’m sorry that we couldn’t do anything to save your sculpture.”
“Hey, Mr. Pizana,” asked Fry, “Did the ancient Martians really wear these death masks over here?” His voice was muffled from the mask that he had over his face.
“Just get out of my museum. Get out…both of you!” Mr. Pizana stomped back to his office shouting. “What am I going to tell the board?”
“Boy,” Fry said, “is the Professor going to be hot about this one too...we haven’t even told him yet.”
“He’ll get over it. This falls under the rules for terrorism and ‘acts of God.’ Getting Zapp Brannigan to declare the whole place a war zone helped us a bunch. He can be good for something every once in a while.” She smiled with an evil grin. “I can still wrap him around my little finger.”
The two stepped out into the rainy streets of the evening from the museum. “Hey, Leela,” asked Fry, “do you remember that guy down the street that makes custom jewelry?”
“Of course I do.”
Fry pulled out a silver necklace from his jacket pocket and showed it to Leela. In its center was mounted a tiny piece of the destroyed sculpture from the vacation home.
“Oh, my God – where did you get this?”
“It actually blew into my shirt from the explosion…I didn’t find it until later. Without a delta wave I couldn’t tell it was there.” He placed the necklace on Leela. “Every time you have a really rotten day, you can just touch it and feel a little happiness.”
“You little stinker…” She kissed him on the cheek. “So that’s where you snuck off to after we landed.”
Fry then gave Leela a sad look. “Leela…I guess you’ll never find that perfect man…”
“I did find him Fry, and I’ll tell you right where he is.” She placed her index fingers on each of her temples. “He exists between here and here. He’s just a figment of my imagination.” She then placed his hand into hers. “I may never find that perfect guy, but I can find someone that I like being with.” She touched the sculpture fragment, but only for a moment. “This is so sweet, but I don’t need a sculpture to bring me happiness.” She wrapped her hands around Fry’s back and pressed her lips against his. He melted in the warmth of her embrace as the rain began to fall again…as it turned out, Fry didn’t need a delta wave to bring him happiness either.