Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth stood there with his arm in the wall…he didn’t panic, because he had seen this kind of thing before. He pulled on it, but it was still firmly stuck in the wall. He tried feebly to reach the computer console with his left hand, but he couldn’t reach it. “Crap-sticks,” he murmured under his breath.
“Professor,” came the voice of Fry as he entered the lab. When he caught sight of Farnsworth, his jaw dropped. “Jeez-o-Pete! The wall is eating your arm!”
“Calm down, boy…it’s not as bad as it looks. I just need you to move that computer console closer to me so I can get to it. Come on, Fry…”
Fry complied, and scooted the unit so the Professor’s left hand could access it. He watched in wonder as the bony but nimble fingers began typing coded sequences into the computer. Fry’s eyes got huge as the wall that held Farnsworth’s right arm became soupy and malleable like a goopy cookie dough…he pulled his arm back out without any ill effects, and then the wall became solid again. In disbelief Fry tapped on the wall with his knuckles, and indeed found it solid.
“Good grief,” Fry said, “I never know what I’m going to walk in on when I come in here.”
“What did you come in for, anyway?”
“Oh…I actually wanted to ask if I had any vacation time that I could use.”
Farnsworth got a mean look on his face. “Didn’t you ask me this last week? Didn’t I tell you then that you only had three hours of incurred vacation time? Do you think that changed from last week, like the ‘vacation fairy’ was going to magically grant you an extra week or something? You’ve still got three hours…and maybe a few extra minutes. Good for an afternoon movie, if you want to take it. You kids and your free time…sheesh!” He picked up a wrench and began to slam it on a huge metal piece of equipment in the lab. “Piece of junk…I’ll never get it working right!”
“Uh, Professor,” Fry said in a worried tone.
“I said you only have three hours. You can dicker for another 20 minutes if I’m in a giving vein later.”
“What is it, Fry…can’t you see I’m…” Farnsworth turned to see a sight that actually worried him. His jaw dropped as he spotted Fry sinking into the floor like it was quicksand. “Oh, dear…”
“Professor, is this normal? Is this supposed to happen in here?”
“Hang on, boy, I’ll have you out of that in a jiffy!” He began to tap away at his computer keyboard. “Nuts…the word I need is Portuguese…I need a tilde…why didn’t I put a tilde on this stupid keyboard…”
“Professor! I kinda need help here! Professor?”
He continued typing away as Fry sank deeper into the floor; he was now up to his knees, and the floor was the consistency of a thick pudding. “Maybe if I use a German word…I do have an umlaut…”
“Professor…I don’t mean to hurry you…” Fry was now up to his waist in the goopy floor thingee.
“Boy,” Farnsworth asked, “what do you feel below you?”
“What? Oh…I can kick my legs around, if that’s what you mean.”
“Oh thank God…at least you’re not falling into deep space.”
“You don’t know what a huge comfort that is, Professor. Now, can you get me out here? I’m about to taste the floor wax!”
As if things couldn’t get more complicated, Amy came wandering into the lab. She had her head buried into her paycheck stub, and failed to notice Fry’s predicament. “Professor,” she asked, “How much vacation time do I have? I can’t make sense of this new paystub.”
“You too? I’m busy young woman! Can’t you see I have a situation on my hands here?”
“Well, the only reason I asked was that Fry had a question about it too. By the way, where is he, anyway?”
“Down here, Amy.”
Amy looked down to see the face of Fry down near her boots, and his fingers wiggling a ‘hello’ at her…not much else was still visible. She let out a high-pitched shriek like she’d seen a mouse.
“Quit screaming, woman! I’ve almost got this figured out!” Farnsworth kept madly tapping at his computer keyboard. “Now…is it ‘red before blue, except if it’s two’…or ‘blue before red makes a man dead…’” He got a smile of satisfaction on his face. “Aha, I’ve got it! Fry…I’ve got your problem licked…Fry?”
Farnsworth looked over to see a frightened, shaking Amy with her hands up to her mouth in horror…a tear was rolling down her cheek. “Professor,” she said, “he’s gone…”
As he went over to examine the floor, an arm popped through an adjacent wall…it groped around absent-mindedly at the air, as if trying to grab something. The arm had Fry’s trademark red jacket on it, and the two began to breathe a sigh of relief as they jogged over to investigate. “Fry! Fry!” Amy called out to the arm, which was now coming out further from the wall. “Hang in there, Fry – we’ll rescue you!”
Amy grabbed the hand, and immediately noticed something odd. The hand was soft, like her hands were. And the nails were long and manicured. “Fry?” she asked.
“Don’t shilly-shally woman, pull him the hell out of there! Pull!” Farnsworth grabbed the red sleeve and Amy held the hand, and both pulled with all their might. Fry came out and hit the floor with a thud in a fetal position.
“Be-jeezer! What the hell did you pull me for? Damn it!” Amy’s hand went over her mouth, as the voice they heard was noticeably higher pitched than Fry’s. It was no longer the nasal Fry voice that she was use to…it was the voice of a woman . The real shock came when Fry turned over to see the two. As Fry stood up to look around, Amy gasped as a lock of long red hair came falling down as a pony tail. “Why did you idiots pull me, anyway? It was bad enough that I was falling through a wall.” The two just stood there speechless. Fry looked back at the two with the same kind of shocked look as they had on their faces. “Amos? Huberta? What in the hell is going on here? I am home…right?”
Fry readied himself for a terrible impact, but the fall wasn’t as bad as he expected.
He sat up on the floor of the lab. He heard voices. The one voice, a man’s voice, was one he wasn’t familiar with.
“How many stupid rooms do you have up here? She could be anywhere. If she’s injured, Lee is going to kick your ass and I’m not going to stop him. You’re in some bad ma fan now!”
Lee? Who was Lee? Where did he end up anyway? Were they looking for him? Fry stood up on his feet and took in his surroundings. It looked like an ordinary room up in Farnsworth’s lab, but had he just returned to where he had come from? It didn’t make sense. “Guys,” Fry said in a loud voice, “I’m back, if you’re looking for me.”
“Hey, I just heard her! The voice came from over here.”
In walked a young Chinese guy with a pink polo shirt, expensive slacks and dark purple running shoes. “Hey, I found…oh, sorry, dude…I was looking for Fry. Who are you?”
“But I am Fry.”
The young man gave him a confused look. “Professor,” he yelled loudly, “I think you need to get in here…and quick!”
“Fry?” Amy asked. “Is that you?”
“Of course it’s me, you idiot – why wouldn’t it be me? I could ask the same of you…and who is this old goat? And where did you two pull me into? All I did was lean on a wall in the Professor’s lab and you grabbed me.”
“But you’re…you’re a woman.”
“ Duh! I’ve always been a woman…you’re a little slow on the uptake. What did you expect me to be? A guy? Will someone tell me what is going on? All I wanted to do was to ask a question about vacation time and…wait a minute…” Fry reached out a hand and gently touched Amy’s spiky black hair. “This may sound crazy, but you look an awful lot like Amos…except without the glasses. You could pass for his twin sister or something. Does he have a sister I don’t know about? You even wear pink like he does. By the way, that’s a nice outfit you have on.” A chill went through Amy as she looked him up and down. It was the same Fry…only the whole package was in female form. She even had a decent figure.
Amy then asked Fry a simple question. “Can I ask, what is your name?”
“I’m Fry. Phyllis Fry…and I work here at Planet Express. Who are you?”
“I’m Amy Wong.”
Phyllis Fry then shot a look of anger at the Professor, pointing an index finger at him. “What the hell did you do, you old doddering fool?”
Dr. Huberta Farnsworth looked Fry up and down. “Oh for the love of all that’s decent…I should have known when to quit meddling with the fabric of space.”
“Will someone tell me what’s going on? I know I went somewhere, but where is here?” asked Fry.
Amos looked into Fry’s eyes. “Dude, have you seen our buddy Phyllis? Our friend from the 20th century?”
“Oh, don’t you get it, Amos? This is Fry!”
“But he’s a dude! He can’t be Fry!”
“He’s not Phyllis, but her counterpart from another dimension. Even the clothing is basically the same. I can only assume that Phyllis is in an opposite dimension.”
Amos chuckled. “Lee is so going to kick your ass, Granny, and I’m just going to sit and laugh when he does. He’s due back from the bike shop at any time. I’d kick your butt myself if I weren’t afraid of getting fired. Still, it might be worth it…”
“Oh, fiddle-crap, you…I’m going to bring Fry here a nice cup of hot chocolate and let him get a grip on the situation. I’ll have things right as rain in no time.”
“Fine…I’ll grab a beer and hopefully I can intercept Lee before he totally kills you. Still, that might be fun to watch. I’d hate to be you, Professor.” Amos walked out of the room, chuckling at the thought of an enraged Lee returning to find his favorite sweetie as a man.
Lee? “Uh…Professor,” Fry asked, “this Lee…he wouldn’t happen to be a guy, would he? With purple hair? And a cyclops at that?”
“Why, yes,” Farnsworth chortled as she came in with a piping cup of hot chocolate. “He cares a great deal for you.” Huberta’s words were cut short by the sound of an air-cycle rumbling by the window. The motherly smile quickly melted off of her face. “I mean, er, he’s been chasing Phyllis for quite some time. I think Phyllis really likes him, but she always plays hard-to-get. It’s like a game with her, but I think she really wants him. She really wishes he’d commit…”
Fry quickly put down his cup of hot chocolate. “I gotta get out of here…this is getting too crazy…”
“Phyllis, wait…I mean Fry…”
Fry left the lab, and began exploring the Planet Express building…it seemed to have more hallways and little rooms than his familiar stomping grounds. He could hear the rumbling of the air cycle stop as Lee entered through an upstairs entrance. “Holy crud,” he said, “I’ve got to get out of here!”
Lee climbed off of his bike and entered the building. Too late! Fry cowered in the shadows of the hallway as Turanga Lee came closer…he seemed impossibly tall. And he had a mustache and a goatee, but the same purple hair. Fry hid his face in the darkness…he could see the whole life-thingee rushing before his eyes.
“Hey, baby sweets,” Lee said, “did you cut your hair again? You know I like it long.” Before Fry could move away, he was slapped on the bottom as the muscular Lee walked by. Thankfully Lee didn’t linger in the hallway…he turned his attention to the Professor as he entered into the lab. If I ever get back home, Fry thought, the Professor is going to die!
“Hey Granny,” came the booming male voice from the lab, “do I have any vacation time left?”
“Will you quit calling me that – I am not your Granny!”
“Will you dumb it down for me, Professor? Are you trying to tell me that there is a guy me running around somewhere?
“Well, er, yes…”
“Nuts…my life was so simple back in New York. MTV videos…computer games…pizza. My biggest problem was how to dodge my mother’s crappy meatloaf on Thursdays. Now you are trying to tell me that I’m in a world where everyone is a walking sex change? I used to see this stupid stuff on the Phil Donahue Show – I never thought I’d be living it.” She looked down at her shoes. “Man, is Lee going to be hot. He’s got that anger-management thingee going on and stuff. If he runs into a male-me, there’s no telling what he’ll do.”
“Lee…calm down and let me try to explain.”
“I don’t care if you are an old woman,” Lee ranted, “I’m going to kill you just like a guy anyway! I’m going to impale you! I slapped that thing in the butt…how long was it going to be before you told me?”
“Calm down…you were doing so good with your anger management classes…I’ve been giving such good reports to Hermine about you. You don’t want the Collar of Discipline again, do you? Just give me some time to get this whole thing sorted out – that’s all I’m asking.”
Lee drew his hand back as if to strike, and then let it drop to his side. Never hit a woman, he thought. He then turned his attention to Fry, who was shaking with fright. “You mean to tell me that this lump of tissue is my sweetie?”
“Uh,” said Fry, “you can just think of me as a friend for now.”
“Argh! I should kill you for that!” Lee turned in circles and began murmuring to himself. “Count to ten. Count to ten and just breathe. Must not kill... kill bad. No kill I.” He slumped his shoulders and heaved a sigh. “No, I don’t want the shock collar back on…I’ll behave.”
“That’s good Lee…I promise to have this whole mess sorted out in no time.”
Hermine Conrad then stepped into the room. Her jaw dropped. “Great teak of Mozambique! What de hell is goin’ on in here?”
Meanwhile, Professor Farnsworth convened a meeting in the Crisis-torium. Leela came running in late. “I am so sorry guys…I had to take Nibbler to obedience training. I…” She caught sight of Phyllis. “Fry?”
“Leela, this is what the meeting is about. It would be nice if you could be punctual for a change.”
The Professor continued his explanation of the day’s events. Leela kept glancing over to Fry in disbelief. “Do you think Fry is safe…wherever he is?”
“I would assume so…”
“Hey, missy,” Phyllis shot in, “that ‘place’ as you put it, is my home. He’ll be fine, as long as he doesn’t piss off Lee…”
“Who the hell is Lee?”
“Duh…” said Phyllis, as she squinted her eyes at Leela. She’s not the brightest lightbulb in the hardware store, she thought.
Leela looked back at Phyllis in rage. “Don’t start with me, girly…I don’t even know who you are.”
“I didn’t even say anything to you…you’ve got that same anger that Lee has.”
“Who… the… hell…is…Lee?!” Leela shouted.
“Knock it off, you two,” bellowed the Professor. “It’s my fault that we’re in this pickle, and for that I’m truly sorry. We need to think about both Fry and Phyllis here.”
As everyone left the meeting, Phyllis walked over to Leela.
“I guess I didn’t leave a very good first impression,” Phyllis said.
“Well, I guess I didn’t do much better.” Leela gritted her teeth. “If we get out of this mess, I’m going to kill the Professor.”
“I’ll help you,” responded Phyllis. “I’ll hold his arms back while you punch him.” With that, the two looked at each other and chuckled.
Fry nervously slumped into his familiar couch in the lounge to watch TV. Lee sat on the other side of the couch in silence. Amos rummaged around in the fridge. “You dudes totally have to get a better variety of beer.” Amos announced. “This stuff from Mars is for losers – could you quit buying Blue Canal beer?.”
“Get Daddy to buy it for you, you free-loader,” Lee spat back. Amos looked back from the refrigerator door with a smirk on his face. “I’ll have you know that Daddy bought this fridge…or at least his credit card did. Not that he knows about it.”
“Good, you twerp…I knew we kept you around for something.”
Amos gave Lee a hand gesture and left the room. Lee chuckled.
Lee finally looked over at Fry. “Do you have any problems with me watching the grav ball game this afternoon? Phyllis usually wants to watch ‘Babies and Beauty Pageants around this time.”
“No. I was really hoping to catch the North Dakota game before I…uh…fell through the floor.”
“Really?” Lee began to loosen up. “I sorta thought that North Dakota had a shot at it this year, but their goal tending stinks.”
“Put it on,” added Fry, “they may surprise you.”
“Hey, you’re okay…uh…what do they call you, anyway?”
“Philip…everyone just calls me Fry.”
“Right on. Hey Amos! We need more beer over here!”
“What do I look like…a waitress?” Amos soon retrieved more beer from the fridge and tossed a can to each of the guys.
“Amos, I could use some mozzarella sticks with that…”
“Blow it out your ear…”
“So, give it to me straight, Professor…how long am I going to be stuck here?”
Farnsworth sheepishly grinned at Phyllis. “Well, at least a few days until I get everything figured out. I’d say a couple of weeks at the most.”
“A couple of weeks? My boyfriend is going to be worried sick! And he’s running around with…whatever that thing is that went over to where I was…”
“Hey,” Leela interjected, “Fry is a friend of ours.”
“Calm down, I didn’t mean anything by it. I should know him pretty well anyway…I’m a Fry too, you know.” She looked deep into Leela’s face. “I can’t get over it…you look so much like Lee. That eye…the hair…”
Leela softened her tone. “You care about him, don’t you?”
“Oh, he can be a real hothead, but he’s got a heart of gold. He had a rough childhood. He’s really a softy deep down inside. He finds that peaceful place he needs while tinkering with his air bikes.”
Leela chuckled. “Fry can be a bit absent-minded, but he’s got a heart of gold too.”
“Hey…I could use a drink…I wonder if most of the bars are the same over here?”
“I don’t see why not,” Leela said. “It might be a way to kill a few hours. Maybe the great genius here can figure something out while we’re gone.”
Farnsworth smirked and wandered out of the room.
“What are you guys doing watching the game? The Bureaucracy is on its way!” Huberta Farnsworth was really angry. “We could lose our triple-A rating! Get up…and stash those beer cans!”
“Don’t get your panties in a wad, Granny…we’re going.” Lee glanced over to Fry. “I’m sure you go through this in your universe, pal…you know the drill.”
“Yeah, I know,” Fry sighed. “If they’re anything like Morgan Proctor, I’ve been through it before. God it makes me cringe just to think that Morgan had a thing for me once…”
Lee’s jaw dropped and Amos gave him a funny look. “Morgan had a thing for you? Is there something you know about Morgan that we don’t?”
“Yeah…Morgan had the hots for me because I was a ‘dirty boy’.”
Lee and Amos shot a shocked look at each other. “Dude, I don’t want that lunatic anywhere near me,” blurted out Amos. “I always knew he was a freak.”
“I hate to admit it, but we even slept with each other once.”
Lee’s cycloptic eye cringed into an angry look. “You slept with Morgan? I don’t want to hear any more about it. If he touches me once, he’s a dead man…I’ll wear the shock collar if I have to.” He turned to look at Fry. “You sure have some strange skeletons in the closet.”
Fry gave the two an annoyed look. “She’s a woman at home…a woman!”
“Well,” asked Amos, “was she good looking?”
“It’s O’Shaughnessy’s! Just like back home!” Phyllis walked through the door with a smile, and then looked back at Leela. “I can’t believe this place is the same here. Only…I guess old woman O’Shaughnessy is a man here…”
“Yep! You drink Flaherty’s Ale over there? Fry really likes it.”
“I sure do…Let’s grab one…”
“What are you doing to me, Professor?”
“Young man, just do what I tell you and keep your mouth quiet. If Morgan finds out what happened to you, we’re in deep soup! I’m supposed to document any accidental experiment failures within 48 hours. But this – we’ll be in for it if they find out you’re a man. We could be in for some serious penalties! Now get this on…and try not to say much.” Huberta filled two surgery gloves with water, and stuffed them into a bra. After fastening it to Fry, he threw one of Phyllis’ thick sweaters on him. Huberta then put an amulet around his neck. “This is a modulator unit…it will crank your voice up higher. Some lipstick and a bit of make-up, and you’ll be ready for Morgan. Thank God you don’t have much of a beard.”
“But this sweater…it’s a turtleneck…” Fry was surprised at how feminine his voice now sounded; it was soft, high and chirpy. “Oh, my…my voice.”
“You’ve got that thing called an Adams apple…keep it covered up. Now get out there.”
“Locker check!” bellowed a man’s voice down the hallway. Fry, along with the rest of the Planet Express crew, fell out military-style in front of their lockers for the inspection. He was surprised that his retina actually opened the lock to Phyllis’ locker.
“Lee, Turanga,” barked Morgan. The dapper man peered inside the locker above his reading glasses, and got a disgusted look on his face. He pulled out a magazine, and showed it to the whole crew. “Playclops? What’s this doing in here?”
Lee got a toothy grin. “Oh, that’s been in there a while. It’s got Miss November.”
“You animal,” Morgan said, tossing the magazine back in the locker. “It’s over 6 months old…at least buy a current issue.” Morgan began scribbling notes on that infamous clipboard of his.
“But it’s got Miss November,” Lee repeated.
“Fry, Phyllis. Fry, Phyllis…oh, there you are.” Morgan began rifling through the contents of the locker, announcing what he found. “Employee handbook, cosmetic bag, overnight case, one box of tampons…hmmm – it’s actually clean in here.” He shot him a funny look. “What are you doing with a sweater on this time of year?”
“Uh, I just bought it. Do you like it?”
He reached out and pinched Fry’s cheek. “Dirty girl. Hey, you got your hair cut short…I like it.” He moved on to the next locker. “Okay – Zoidberg, JoAnna. Oh, hell…I can already smell rotten food…”
After thoroughly rummaging through everyone’s locker, Morgan was satisfied with what he found. “Well,” he said, “everything looks in order, Huberta.”
She handed him the usual paperwork, and he promptly left. Huberta then turned her attention back to Fry. “We need to get that sweater off of you before you roast. Boy, that was a close one.”
“Yeah,” he said in that high pitched female voice, “it’s been a tough day for me. This is nuts! I’ve been smacked in the ass, pinched on the cheek…”
“Your sweetie sure sounds great,” said Amos, “sure had me fooled.” Lee punched him hard in the arm…he winced, but still chuckled.
“Fry,” Huberta said, “I’ve got a package going out to the Nimbus this afternoon, and I’m still a person short. Phyllis could at least get paid while you fill in for her.” He motioned Lee over. “Lee, do you mind terribly while he tags along with you bunch? It’ll be a while before I get this whole thing sorted out.”
Lee gave Fry a look of frustration. “Come on, Red…”
Amos stood in the hallway, grinning ear to ear. “Hey, Lee – you get to take your sweetie pie with you!”
“One more word and I’ll break your windpipe!” This made Amos burst out into laughter, but Lee was not amused. “And get Benda in here…she’s coming too. Red, grab an overnight bag!”
Huberta stopped him. “Let’s get that gear off of you first before you leave; you don’t want to go around looking and sounding like your counterpart, do you?”
“Oh, okay,” said Fry. He took off the amulet, and rubbed his throat. “It’s good to sound like me again.” He then took off the sweater and the modified bra.
Fry opened up Phyllis’ locker, and grabbed the leather pouch inside without thinking. He gazed down at it in disdain; it still had his initials, PJF, but it was pink. What was worse was that it faintly smelled of soft soap and women’s cologne. He peaked inside and spotted a name tag. “Oh, crap,” he said, “Phyllis Jane Fry.”
“Nice bag, Fry,” Amos couldn’t resist getting the last little jab in before they left.
“Let’s get going Red,” Lee barked. Fry tucked his bag under his arm, as if to hide it, and jogged up the gangway of the ship. He stopped briefly to peek at the ship – it was painted red instead of the trademark green.
“Why is the ship red?” Fry asked Lee.
Lee looked back at Fry as if he was kidding. “It’s always been red. Let’s go.”
“Fry,” said Huberta as she pointed to her lips, “you’ve still got some lipstick on.”
“Nuts,” he said, as he wiped it off.
Leela and Phyllis had a good time swapping stories…Leela quickly found that Phyllis was as poor at holding her liquor as Fry was, and was quickly getting drunk. She found Phyllis’ laugh to be quite amusing, because it basically was Fry’s laugh jacked up a couple of octaves. It was strange drinking with her, but interesting – Leela felt like she was hanging out with someone that she had known for years instead of a stranger.
“So tell me, Leela, does this egghead professor of yours really know what he’s doing? Do I even have a chance of getting back home?”
“I could ask the same of yours.”
“She’s a dear…a bit absent-minded, but she takes good care of us.”
“Well, if anyone on this side can, he can. He tried to explain to me earlier today about trying to find a way back into the Switchverse.”
“The Switchverse? What the hell is that?”
“Oh,” said Leela, “I thought you knew. That’s what the Professor calls your universe.”
“The Switchverse? And what do you call here? The Normalverse? It makes us sound like a traveling freak show. If you ask me, this is the freak show.”
Leela looked surprised. “He didn’t mean anything by it…”
“I’m sorry…I’m just worn out trying to wrap my brain around all of this.”
“I understand.” As Phyllis went back to sipping her beer, Leela suddenly covered her eye with her hand. “Oh, Lord…don’t look now…”
“I said don’t look…oh crud, he’s coming over.”
Phyllis’ eyes got huge. “Is that…no way!” Zapp Brannigan and Kif were walking up to them. Phyllis erupted into laughter as her voice got loud. “No way!”
“Shhh! Keep your voice down.”
“Leela! You look absolutely scrumptious, as always. And who might this attractive creature be?”
“Zapp, meet Phyllis,” Leela said, almost as if she was embarrassed.
“Phyllis…what a lovely…uh, what’s so funny? Do I still have that mustard stain on my uniform? I thought Kif had that stain out.”
Phyllis stood up and gently slapped him on his chest between his ribcage with the flat of her hand. “You’re a man! Oh, God, this is rich. He’s a man!” She then turned to Kif. “Kiffa – how cute could you be! Look at you, honey!”
“Come on, Phyllis,” Leela said as she wrapped her arm around the young woman’s shoulders, “we’ve had a little too much to drink. Let’s walk some of that booze off. Come on…”
“He’s a freakin’ man…no one will believe this back home.” She was still laughing when the two of them left the bar.
“What was so funny Kif? Shouldn’t I be a man? I’ve always been a man.”
“I don’t know…but she looked so familiar. Do we know her?”
As the little red ship got closer to space station Gargantua 2, the Nimbus could be seen docked on the side of it. Lee let out a groan as he spotted Brannigan’s ship. “They’re here already,” he muttered.
“Lee, can I ask you a question?”
“You didn’t sleep with her, did you?”
The large cycloptic eye suddenly spun around to meet his gaze, blazing with anger. Fry suddenly realized that he was again in the danger zone. “Uh…I think I’ll get us ready to land back there.”
“You do that, Red…you just do that.”
As Fry went back to the aft of the ship, he clumsily tripped on a toolbox. Nuts… Lee thought, now I really miss Phyllis. I hope Granny back home on Earth knows what she’s doing...this guy is an imbecile.
As the crew of the PE ship came in through the docking bay, Fry noticed a large metal plaque on one of the walls. He stopped briefly to read it. “Hey Lee…who were the Venture Sisters?”
“Come on, slow poke!”
“Stop right there…what did you just call me?”
“That’s what you call her, isn’t it?” He grabbed Fry’s jacket. “I knew it was a mistake bringing you along. Call me that again and I’ll blast you out a garbage shoot. Got it, bucko?”
Lee calmed down, and let go of Fry. He straightened out his red jacket. “Sorry, man.”
“No problem. I’m sorry about what happened, but I had no control over it.”
As they walked through the station, Benda suddenly got very excited. “Oooh! Oooh! I can’t believe it!”
“What, Benda?” asked Lee.
“Dad who?” asked Fry.
“You know, Dad from Dad’s Robot Oil,” answered Lee. Dad was dressed in an expensive double-breasted suit with a tie and expensive shoes.
Benda went over to greet Dad. His three daughters were with him. “Why hello there, my little friend,” Dad blathered, “you’re a special bending unit. Your kind is so special to me.” He warmly shook Benda’s hand and exchanged pleasantries. Benda walked away from the encounter just buzzing with joy. After he was gone, Dad began to curse under his breath as he lit up a cigarette.
The slower of Dad’s daughters, Ignatia, got a confused look on her face. “But Daddy…I thought that you really liked that robot…why are you saying dirty things?”
Dad shot her a mean look as he took a drag off of his cigarette. “Honestly, my dear, I don’t know why I even bother to slap you anymore.”
Phyllis’ eyes opened, and she found herself on a couch in Leela’s apartment. “Oh, hell,” she blurted out, “my head still hurts.”
“You’re just like Fry…he never could drink.”
“You miss him, don’t you?” asked Phyllis.
“I guess I do. And you? What was his name…Lee?”
“Yeah…I miss everything about him. Death metal music. Fantasy grav ball league magazines. Amos practically living with us. Air bike parts scattered all over the place – I nearly broke my ankle on a fuel regulator the other day. Do you think we’ll get them back?”
Leela tossed a bottle of aspirin to Phyllis. “Think fast,” she told her.
“Do you have a Slurm to go with these?”
Leela handed her a can and smiled. “Now that’s the Fry I know…”
“Lee!” The PE crew turned as a bubbly woman’s voice echoed through the space station. “You delicious hunk of man…come talk with us!” The petite green alien woman next to her let out a frustrated sigh.
“Zandra, I don’t have time for this,” snapped Lee. “Just take your boxes so we can get out of here.”
The tall space commander walked up to Lee and looked him over. Her platinum hair bounced as she jogged…Fry winced as he caught a whiff of the obnoxious perfume that she had on. “Lee…you never call…you never answer my invites to dinner…”
Lee waved his finger around in a circle. “And I would call you…why?”
“Oh, stop. Seriously. Where is Phyllis? And who is this yummy hunk of delivery boy standing here?”
“This is Phil. Phil…meet Captain Zandra Brannigan, the biggest space cougar in this part of the galaxy.”
“Hey, I’ve got a wonderful idea,” continued Zandra, “I could give Phil here a guided tour of the Nimbus.”
“Already seen it,” replied Fry.
“You have? I know Phyllis has seen it. And Lee here has seen all kinds of places in the Nimbus. Places few people have seen.”
Lee gritted his teeth and mockingly put up his hands as if to choke Brannigan. “Must not kill cougar…kill bad…no kill I…”
“Lee, I might just look the other way for this one,” joked Fry.
Zandra peeked at the label on Fry’s box, and gave him a smile. “I’ll need this one delivered to deck seven…that’s near my quarters. See you soon, Phil.”
As the two DOOP officers strolled off, Fry had a worried look on his face. Lee flashed him an evil grin. “You’ve got that one, pal…tell me how it goes.”
As Phyllis grabbed a shower, a tired Farnsworth finally called Leela. She came out drying her hair and wearing one of Leela’s bathrobes.
“You sure look funny in that…and it’s hard to get used to all that red hair.”
“Yeah… I guess Fry didn’t wear your robes too often. Did the old man call?”
“Yes, he did…”
“And? Can I go home now? Or do I have to go shopping for another boyfriend over on this side?”
“He said that it would be this evening before he would know anything.”
“Tonight?” Phyllis asked. “Nuts. I might as well do some shopping. That’s what I had planned before I…uh…got pulled through a wall.”
“It’s Saturday - why don’t we just make a day of it? Hey, I’ve got an idea…do you know how to ride an air bike? I know where we can rent a couple.”
“Are you kidding? Like nobody’s business.”
“Fry was scared to death of those things...”
Phyllis smiled. “Well, I’m not Fry.”
“Captain Brannigan? Hello…I’m lost up here. Hello?” Fry wanted to just drop the box in the hallway and get back to the PE ship. He soon caught sight of Kiffa Kroker walking up to him. She looked so odd in her skirt and heeled boots.
“You’re walking the right way, Phil,” she said. “Lady Godiva is waiting for you in her quarters down the hall there.”
“Can’t I just give it to you for him? I mean, her?”
“This is between you two…good luck.”
A door slid open behind him, and saxophone music came wafting out. Fry walked in, and Captain Zandra Brannigan floated up to him on a large pink bed. She was dressed in red lingerie, and she beckoned him with her fingers. “Welcome to my lair of love, Phil. Why don’t you grab a sloe gin fizz from the bar and join me?”
“Isn’t ‘cham-pagin’ your usual poison?”
“Phil…have we met before? Kiffa is right…you seem somehow familiar.”
“Oh, God…now I know what Leela had to put up with.”
“Lee-la? Is that your weird nickname for Lee? You two aren’t…you aren’t…you didn’t ‘convert’ him, did you?”
“No, and that’s not the first time I’ve been asked that today.”
“Well, grab a drink and join me…tonight it’s just about you and me. We could just start by getting to know each other. You don’t have to rush back to your ship. How about it?”
Fry placed the box onto the bed. “I have a girl that I really care about back home.”
Zandra began to scratch Fry’s back. “But you’re not home, honey…you’re
waaaay out here in space with me.” As she scratched his shoulder, Fry pulled something out of his pocket and held it out in his hand. Zandra got a puzzled look on her face as she looked at it. The metal charm was half of a heart shape, and had writing on it. “It says ‘Coney Island,’ from ancient New York, doesn’t it? Lee has one just like it. Phyllis had the other side of it.”
“That’s what you’re not getting. I am Phyllis…and she is me.”
Zandra lurched back quickly, pulling her hand away as if from a hot stove. “Oh
God – you didn’t get sex change?”
“No, no, no…the Professor pulled a boner in an experiment, and the two of us got
switched…somewhere Phyllis is running around in my world with my friends, and I’m here with you guys. I’m just trying to get back home.”
“Oh, God,” Zandra wailed, “I’m pathetic!”
Fry turned around. “No you’re not…you’re just, what do people in England call it, over the top.”
“I guess you couldn’t…I mean you can’t…you would keep thinking...”
Fry turned to her and smiled. “Wow,” he said, “for the first time in a long time you’re about to do the right thing.”
Zandra tried to crack a weak smile. “I don’t know quite how to take that.”
“Take it as a sincere compliment.” Fry got up from the bed, squeezed her hand, and left for the ship.
Professor Farnsworth had fallen asleep at some point in his research. His eye opened to see a strange sight; so strange, in fact, that he thought that he was dreaming. “Whaaa…?” Both eyes were now open, and he watched as an elderly woman’s hand came through the wall. As Farnsworth walked over to see it, he watched in amazement as the hand dropped a note onto the ground. He picked up the note to read it.
“Oh, no,” he muttered, “it’s just as I thought. If these figures are right, it’ll be a year before another human-sized hole opens up into that universe! The biggest hole until then will be the size of a baseball…Phyllis will be stuck here!” He glanced back up to notice the hand trying to scrawl something with its fingernail on the wall. Thinking quickly, he placed a piece of chalk into the fingers of the hand. It wrote a short note on the wall, and then disappeared. The chalk fell to the floor. He looked at what the hand had written; it was crude, but it was legible. It read, “Meet us at Junction Box.” Underneath the hand had written some space coordinates. Professor Farnsworth picked up the piece of chalk and began writing more notes on an adjacent wall.
Phyllis and Leela decided to kill some time tearing around town on the Tachikawa air bikes that they had rented. Leela was surprised at how well Phyllis flew, obviously trained by Lee on the other side. Phyllis pointed down and went into a circular descent, and Leela followed; they opened up airbrakes to slow their descent. The two made a soft landing on an empty patch of sidewalk.
“What did you spot?” asked Leela.
Phyllis got an excited look on her face. “It’s Nuclear Eddie’s! Just like back home. Only, it’s…”
“Let me guess…Nuclear Edna’s…”
“Yeah, as a matter of fact. It’s got to be the same thing. Let’s grab a burger.”
The two went into the themed restaurant that was made to look like a diner in the 1940’s in old New York. Against one wall was a stage set up for amateur singing acts. “It is just like back home,” said Phyllis.
As they ordered a burger and a milkshake, the two watched some poor slob do a terrible rendition of a Devo song. “I can tell that the entertainment hasn’t gotten any better than when Fry and I were here last,” said Leela. “At least the food is good.”
“Leela, hold my seat…there is something I’ve got to do.”
“Wait, where are you going? We just ordered…You’re not going to…”
Phyllis went over to talk to the multi-armed alien sitting behind the sound booth…the alien shook his head in agreement with her, and took a drag off of a blue cigarette. A Martian host walked up to the microphone.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the host announced, “it is my pleasure to announce a new act here at Nuclear Eddie’s. From right here in New New York, may I introduce Phyllis Fry.”
Leela covered her eye and peeked through her fingers “Oh, lord…what is she going to sing?”
What happened next made Leela’s jaw drop. The alien began playing what sounded like the keys to an old piano, and Phyllis cut loose with “Stormy Weather.” Her voice was flawless and silky, and she had a real stage presence. “Don’t know why, there’s no sun up in the sky, stormy weather…since my man and I ain’t together, keeps rainin’ all the time.” The only thing missing was an evening dress and heels to go with the song. “Can’t go on, ev’ry thing I had is gone, stormy weather, since my man and I ain’t together, keeps rainin’ all the time.” She smiled and took a deep bow as the whole restaurant roared with applause. She shook one of the alien’s hands before returning to her seat.
Fry went galloping up the gangway of the ship. Amos was waiting to ambush him.
“Well, tell me how it all went,” cracked Amos.
“I delivered a package, that’s all.”
Amos looked at Lee. “He got cougar-ed.”
“I told you nothing happened!” said Fry in an angry voice.
“Yes! I’m not that desperate…give me some credit, you two.”
“You think a lot of this Leela, don’t you?” asked Lee as he hit a button on a panel.
“She means the world to me. And Phyllis?”
“Same here.” Lee firmly shook Fry’s hand. “You’re okay, Red. Now, let’s get buckled in…Granny’s given us new coordinates, and we gotta get there like yesterday.” Lee began flipping switches and the gyros began spooling up. The red ship soon left the huge space station behind and plowed ahead to its next destination.
“That was amazing what you did up there, Phyllis.”
“Good grief…I’m still shaking from it.”
“You’ve got real talent. I would have never gotten Fry up there to do that.”
Phyllis turned to Leela with a smile. “It’s like I said before…I’m not Fry.”
A message flashed on Leela’s wrist thingee. “Hey…this may be the call you’ve been waiting for – let’s get back to the Express building.”
The girls only had a few blocks to fly to return their bikes and walk back to the PE building. As the two entered the building, they went straight up to Farnsworth’s lab. Like everyone else that was there, they read the strange note scrawled on the wall. “Okay, Professor,” Leela asked, “what’s Junction Box?”
“The Junction Box,” Farnsworth announced with pride, “is the mythical place where our universe meets up with all the other parallel universes; it’s sort of like an intergalactic bus depot. Until now I barely believed it existed. Thanks to my colleague on the other side, now I know it does…and she must have somehow found its location.”
“Go Granny…” Phyllis said in an amazed whisper.
“Go Granny is right,” said Leela. “She even left coordinates. What are we waiting for? Let’s get everyone switched back…not that we’re trying to get rid of you, Phyllis…”
“I think I’m ready to get back home.” Phyllis said. “I guess this means that women really are smarter than men, doctor.”
“Watch it, you,” Farnsworth said with a smile. “Let’s get on board.”
Leela leaned in closer to jot down the coordinates in her wrist-thingee. “Holy crap…that’s a tiny piece of space,” she said. “Even for a good pilot, it’s going to be like hitting a bumblebee in the butt with a bb gun.”
“If you’re as good a pilot as Lee,” Phyllis said, “I’ve got no worries.”
“This is your captain speaking,” announced Turanga Lee, “we have a little something for your listening pleasure.”
“Oh, crap,” moaned Benda, “here it comes…”
Lee popped in a chip into the instrument panel, and a death metal drum riff began to blast out of the speakers amid the sound of a roaring crowd.
“Can’t it be anything besides Corrosive Blast? How many times have we heard this…a thousand?”
“Benda, old girl, the captain has to have his music. I can’t do an important space maneuver without it. God, I love this album…recorded live on Ganymede.”
“I’m surprised that it hasn’t caused fatigue cracks in the hull by now with as loud as you play it,” complained Benda.
Is this the one with the extended drum solo?” asked Amos.
“That it is, my man…that it is. Now, let me see Granny’s coordinates again.” He peaked at his wrist-thingee. “Boy, that’s not a big patch of space.”
“Hold on, guys, this is it,” announced Leela. The ship shuddered as it entered the mysterious area known only as the Junction Box. Outside the windows, everything suddenly appeared different…the stars went away, and clouds of hydrogen and helium gases began to appear. Strange flashes like lightning began to light up the inside of the Planet Express ship.
“And what exactly are we supposed to be looking for?” said Bender.
“I think something like that,” replied Amy, pointing to the windscreen.
The crew looked on in amazement as another Planet Express ship slowly slid alongside of them. While it looked similar at first, it was actually very different; as it got closer, they could see that it was bristling with lasers and maser cannons, and had anti-matter missile launch tubes in the front. It had plates of armor on its sides, and was painted a bluish-gray. Written on the side was “S. S. Sword of Vengeance,” and on the tail was a menacing copy of their own corporate logo with a skull and the words “Death on Delivery” written around it. They breathed a collective sigh of relief when it was finally past them.
“What now?” asked Amy.
“We wait for another,” answered the Professor.
“Look,” said Phyllis.
Another PE ship, this time a light blue one, approached them from the starboard bow.
“Leela,” Amy yelled, “it’s going to hit us!”
Leela’s jaw dropped in amazement. “No, Amy, it’s not.”
The crew watched in wonder as the tiny ship, no bigger than a large toy, drifted on by the windscreen.
“Holy salmon patties…they must be from the Lilliput Universe,” said Farnsworth.
“Ya think?” added Phyllis.
“If you think that was somethin’,” said Bender, “get a load of this.”
The next ship was identical to theirs, except it was dark orange in color. The crew thought their mind was playing tricks on them as the ship got closer. It got bigger and bigger as it approached, until it seemed the size of a blue whale as it prepared to slip on by them.
“Somebody man a laser!” shouted Amy.
“No…just calm down,” added Leela as she gently grabbed Amy’s arm.
As the monstrous spaceship slowly drifted on by, Amy shuddered as she could see her gigantic counterpart looking in at her though a window nearly 25 feet in diameter. The giant had red hair and a light blue sweatsuit, and she smiled at Amy. For that split second, Amy felt like a bug that was being examined in a yard by a huge child. She didn’t know what else to do but wave…and the giantess waved back. Soon the ship slipped away from them and disappeared among the flashes of light and clouds.
“By cracky,” said the Professor, “that was the other Gulliver universe…the Brobdingnag Universe.”
Phyllis gave him an annoyed look. “He certainly earns his paycheck, doesn’t he?”
“What, are you checking these things off on a list as they go by?” said Bender.
“You folks haven’t seen anything yet…get a load of this…” Amy pointed to the windscreen. As the hydrogen clouds started to dissipate, dozens of similar ships could be seen in the void of the Junction Box. They were all different colors. Some were very similar to theirs, and some were vastly different. “Oh my,” said Amy, “there must be hundreds of…well, us.”
“Phyllis, step up here,” said Leela, “you know the ship.”
Phyllis came forward and began to peer at the swarm of Planet Express ships. After scanning the sky, she soon pointed up at the windscreen. “The red one! It’s that red one up there. Amy…turn the ship’s radio to 33 GHz.” Amy complied and spun the dials. “Lee…do you hear me?”
Leela’s eye got large as a deeper version of her voice responded on the loudspeaker. “Sweetie Pie? Is that you?”
The docking collar on the ship hadn’t been used in ages, and the crew was relieved that it still worked. As the PE crew came in through the hatch, they were amazed to see how similar everything was. Phyllis was the first one in, and she took a couple of seconds to look at her counterpart. She smiled, and shook his hand.
“So you must be Philip.”
“And you must be Phyllis. I’ve got your overnight bag…I didn’t rummage through it or anything.” He sheepishly reached out his hand. “Ma’am, can I touch your hair?” She nodded her head and he touched the long fire red hair in amazement.
Next it was Leela’s turn. The two gazed at each other in wonder.
“Look at how tall you are,” said Leela.
“Look at the hair! And the breasts!” said Lee.
Leela laughed. “These are the girls.”
He put out his hand to shake hers, and she gave him a big hug; this was an awkward situation for him as he clumsily patted her back with his hands. “Lord, it’s good to see another cyclops,” Leela said to him. She stepped back to look at him again. “How many people can say that they’ve given themselves a hug?”
Amos looked at Amy with a smirk. “You look just like a twerpy kid sister, if I had one.” Laughing, she punched him in hard the shoulder. “Owww!”
Bender and Benda exchanged barbs, and then it was time for the two professors to greet each other. “Professor Farnsworth, I presume,” quipped Hubert.
“You presume correctly,” answered Huberta.
“So tell me,” Farnsworth joked, “how in the hell am I going to write about this in the science journals? I just wish I could show you off to Wernstrom.”
“You’ve got that whiney wench over in your universe?”
“Yeah,” he laughed, “only he’s not a wench over here. Just as whiney, though.” The Professor looked around at the group. “We should be getting back home…to both our homes,” he said. Phyllis came up to Farnsworth and hugged him. Huberta smiled as Farnsworth looked over at her with a surprised look on his face.
It felt good to Fry to be back in his familiar lounge with a Slurm in his hand. The girls even let him watch his game without pestering him, although they did find it fun to tease him about what happened. He no sooner started getting into the game when Hermes Conrad came in to inform Fry that a member of the Bureaucracy would be stopping by. As soon as he left, Morgan Proctor came in to speak with him, carrying a box with her.
“Hello, Fry,” she said, “I wanted to speak with you personally after the accident. I want to assure you that the Bureaucracy will do anything to help you in this time of transition.”
Fry looked up. “Transition? Accident?”
“Your Professor Farnsworth was very efficient in turning in the paperwork after his lab accident…after reading the form, we took the liberty of processing your 248/5B for you. It’s all been taken care of.”
Fry looked up again. “Morgan, I’m afraid you’ve lost me…”
“Farnsworth’s paperwork was very technical, but we inferred from it that your sex had changed…that’s what a 248/5B is – a standard change-of-gender form. You are now considered a female by the bureaucracy.”
“What?” Fry’s jaw dropped open.
“Just to show you that the Bureaucracy cares for you, Miss Fry, I’ve brought over a welcome kit.” She opened the box, and pulled out a generic-looking book with a white cover. “This is your new handbook, ‘Now That I’m a Woman.’”
“Can I interrupt?” asked Leela. “We appreciate your efficiency, but…”
“Leela, it’s rude to interrupt. I know this is a very stressful time for Fry. Now please – let me continue.” She then pulled out a folder full of papers. “This is your new medical information, as your records have been switched over to reflect your new gender status.”
By this time Amy had to turn her head and bite her finger to keep from laughing.
“Finally, we have a free make-up kit, coupons good for a free day at a local spa, and a box of chocolate candies.”
Leela reached over. “I’ll take those, thank you.”
“Congratulations, Fry…I wish you the best of luck, dear.” She embraced him, and quickly left. As soon as she was out the door, the girls both broke out into laughter.
Leela jokingly draped her arm around Fry’s shoulder. “Do you want to hang out with us girls for the day? Now that your ‘status’ has changed? We’ll introduce you to your new world.”
“This isn’t funny, Leela…what am I going to do?”
“We’ll get it sorted out some way. Meanwhile, let’s get down to the spa before they find out the real story of what happened and snatch back the coupons.”
“Oh,” said Amy with a big grin, “and don’t forget your handbook…you can study it on the way. We can quiz you later.”
“Very funny, Amy.”
Phyllis sat in a café waiting for Lee. “Where is he?” she said, looking at her watch. She finally spotted him coming up the street. “Lee! Why did you want me to meet you here? This is a bit unusual for you…I thought you didn’t like Martian lattes.”
Lee looked to the left and to the right, almost as if to make sure no one was watching. He went down on one knee in front of Phyllis. He pulled out a small leather bag. Phyllis began to tremble.
Lee cleared his throat. “Phyllis Fry, will you marry me?” he asked.
Phyllis gently grabbed his hands with hers. “Yes I will, Lee…yes I will.”
Lee opened up the leather sack and pulled out a ring. Far from being a thing of beauty, it was a custom made air bike ring with a small skull on it. “I really wanted to get you something with a stone on it, but…”
“Lee, it’s just perfect. Come here…”
As the two stood there together in a tight embrace, applause began to break out in the café. The chunky Martian manager stood there and smiled with pride. “Look at the love between these two,” he said in a thick accent. “In my shop…they’ll never forget this moment here. It’s just like being back on the canals…”
Two months later, Fry went up to the Professor’s lab again. This time he had a letter from the Bureaucracy in his hand. As before, Farnsworth was tinkering around with another strange device.
“Professor,” he said.
“You aren’t going to ask me about vacation time again, are you?”
“No. I just got this from the Bureaucracy.”
“Well, what is it?”
“It’s a reminder to schedule a doctor’s appointment.”
“So? What’s the problem with that? We all have to do that.”
Fry rolled his eyes to the ceiling. “They want me to visit my gynecologist for a check-up.”
“Oh, crap spackle! They haven’t cleared that up yet?”
“I need you to help me with this, Professor…the girls tease me all the time about it. They leave women’s magazines and coupons for lady’s shavers in my locker. Every time they walk by me they giggle – it’s like a reign of terror. I’m starting to get a complex…”
Fry spotted something out of the corner of his eye. A hand was coming out of the wall. Farnsworth had warned that smaller holes might appear randomly around the building, and had advised the PE employees to be careful where they stepped. “Uh, Professor?”
Farnsworth had spotted it too. The hand dropped an envelope to the ground, waved, and then disappeared. The wall was solid again. “Don’t dawdle, boy - go over and see what it is,” said the Professor.
As Fry opened it and read it, he got a smile on his face. “It’s a wedding invitation…in the Switchverse.”