"Good news, everybody; I'm about to unveil the greatest invention of my life, all without that pesky Morgan Proctor knowing about it. I call it 'The Rejuvenator,' and it actually reverses the aging process." The Professor looked around. "Why's everyone looking at me like that?"
"Professor," Leela added, "Morgan is already here."
"In the lab."
Leela's sentence was cut short by a muffled explosion in the lab. Sort of a thump sound, it shook the walls around them. They then heard the sound of coughing coming from the lab. "Oh no," said Leela, "not again..."
As Farnsworth, Leela and Fry entered the lab, it was filled with smoke. They made their way over to the coughing noises. Then, they heard a faint voice - it sounded like a young girl swearing. Farnsworth tapped a button on the wall, and a fan began to draw the smoke out of the room. Confused, the Professor looked at Leela through the smoke. "Did you let her bring children in here?"
"She did not bring any kids in here - I was here when she came in."
"Well, that wasn't a middle-aged woman I just heard using the Lord's name in vain."
"Farnsworth," called out a young, high-pitched voice, "you pompous, old ass...come here! I know you're in here...I can hear your voice."
The three stopped and stared in silence as the smoke began to clear from the lab. A young girl, only about 12 years old walked up to them. She looked up at their faces.
"What the hell is this...Land of the Giants?" She then held her throat with her hand, and she had to roll back her sleeve to do it. "My voice...I haven't sounded like this since I was a...kid. What did you people do to me?" She then looked in wonder at her tiny hand. "No way...I'm a kid again!"
Farnsworth tried to talk to her. "Now Morgan...I know you're a bit upset..."
Even though the child's voice was a higher pitch, the tone was unmistakable and commanded attention. Vengefully she held up a finger to point at Farnsworth, but her large gray sleeve dangled down nearly a foot past her hand. "You old sack of crap, I'm convening a Section 17 meeting on you as soon as I get back to the office."
Confused, Fry spoke with the child. "Could you tell us where Morgan is?"
The child stared back at Fry in disbelief. "Are you really that stupid? I'm Morgan, you idiot. Look at what you people did to me!"
Morgan Proctor sat on a stool in the lab, and her legs dangled down - she couldn't even reach the floor. Her large shoes hung loosely off of her smaller feet, as did her hose. "Is Amy bringing what I asked for?"
"Yes," answered Leela, "she should be back any time soon."
Morgan scanned her wrist computer, which she now had to hold in her hand because of its bigger size. "You realize that this is the end for you people; you all might as well start looking for new jobs right now."
"Hey, just a second young lady." Leela, who was tall to begin with, towered over her. "You can't talk to us that way. I won't be spoken to like that by a..."
"A what - a child?" Morgan stood up. "Look at me - what am I supposed to do until Gramps here comes up with a solution, if he comes up with one? You're not the one that will have to start ordering the child portions at the local MacDougall's drive-thru!" She poked Leela in the chest with her small finger. "You may be bigger than me, but don't forget that I hold your fate in my little hand!"
"Well, at least you're okay," added Leela.
"Okay? You call this okay?" She picked up part of a broken mirror from the lab bench and looked at herself. "I was a 5 foot 6 inch woman when I came in here - now look at me."
"Just look at the bright side," Fry offered.
Morgan turned. "And what would that be?"
"Look at the discounts you can get now."
She balled her fist up. "Fry - was that supposed to be funny?"
The Professor returned. "Good news, everyone...I've found that I'll be able to reverse the process."
"Well, that's something...maybe I won't crucify you people at the meeting after all."
"But what?" asked Morgan
"It might take the reactor at least a week to produce enough dirty anti-protons to get the job done..."
"What? You mean I'm stuck like this for now? I can barely see over a store counter! Oh, I am going to crucify you! For the good of all humanity, this place has to be shut down once and for all." Morgan wagged her finger, but the sleeve still hung limply down past her hand.
Amy then stepped into the room. "I brought the clothes you wanted. Hey - aren't you too cute! And you're wearing a Bureaucracy uniform. You could almost pass as a child Morgan Proctor. That would be a great Halloween outfit...if it were pinned up a bit." Amy puffed up her chest and gave her best Morgan impersonation. "I'm seeing several violations of code in here already."
The child just glared at her. "Miss Wong, you never know how quickly that might get back to Morgan."
She looked around at the others. "Uh...is there something I'm missing here? Tell me this is just someone's niece..."
Morgan grabbed the bags from her, and examined the clothing. "It's about time you got here, Miss Wong." She held up the outfit. "You see - this is what I'm talking about; it's an Action Stacey outfit. Really? I'm a middle-aged woman, and I've got to walk around in this all day? People will think I'm a child!"
"But you are a child," responded Leela.
"That's what I was asked to bring - kids clothes..." Amy smiled. "You'll look great in school."
The child answered in anger. "Great in school? Do you realize I was Summa Cum Laude at Syracuse? I don't need to look great in school!"
Leela shrugged her shoulders, and gave a sheepish grin. "Well, you do have to admit that it's a cute jumper. And just look at the shoes she brought you - it's Bernie the Dinosaur."
"Cute jumper? I'm still looking for a husband and you bring me a cute jumper? And Bernie the Dinosaur...that'll get a man in a hurry."
"Don't gripe," Leela told her, "just try them on." Morgan left the room in a huff.
Amy scratched her forehead. "Uh, will someone tell me what's going on here?"
The Professor pointed to the girl. "Amy," he whispered, "that is Morgan." Her eyes got large.
She soon came back in with her jumper and tennis shoes.
"You look cute," Amy told her.
She frowned. "I don't want to look cute at my age. Now that I have clothes that will fit, what in the hell am I supposed to do? I've got to get back to my office - I'm booked solid for meetings all afternoon."
Trying to be helpful, Fry pulled out an envelope. "I got these tickets for the Children's Museum in the mail today..."
Morgan gave him a slug with her fist in his chest, which surprised him.
Leela grabbed her arm. "Stop it, young lady. He didn't mean any harm by it."
Morgan jerked her arm loose of Leela's grip. "What did you call me? You called me 'young lady,' like I were a child. I am not a child!"
"Well...you are...sort of. You're throwing a tantrum like one."
The angry child pointed to all in the room. "You people mark my words...When I'm done with my meetings, I'm pulling all of you into a Section 17 proceeding downtown. You will all lose your jobs."
"Here are your reading glasses," said the Professor.
"Thank you." She grabbed the bag of her clothes and her glasses, and left the building.
On the bus back to the office, Morgan tried not to make eye contact with anyone. The adults who she wouldn't have even noticed as a commuter, were now strangers that were much taller than she was. She now realized that something as simple as a bus ride to work was probably best done with another adult. An elderly lady sitting next to her gave her a smile.
"I remember when I was your age," the woman told her.
"Oh, yeah? Were you ever this age twice? This is my second time around, sister."
The woman gave her a strange look and got off at the nearest stop. Morgan then moved and sat next to a woman looking through some tax forms. She kicked her feet the way any child would do, and didn't even look out of place as she sat there. No one seemed to notice her leather adult briefcase. She couldn't help but be nosey, as taxes were one of her specialties.
"I notice that you're using the old long forms," Morgan told her.
"Yeah...I just wish all this stuff was out of the way."
"You really ought to make use of the new 10W85 short forms; they're much less complicated."
The woman stopped, and looked over her papers at the child in her midst. "You know about this stuff? Your mother must have a C7 license."
"No, she didn't. But I do."
"Have a C7. Really it's no big deal. Mine was actually upgraded to a C9 - I specialize in property tax codes. They act like it's a big thing, and they gave me a nice plaque for my wall, but it doesn't mean much to me. May I?" She reached out for the paperwork, and the surprised woman surrendered it to her smaller hands.
"You have a C9 rating?"
Morgan studied the form and chuckled. "Good grief; I don't even need reading glasses anymore. I don't know whether to brain the Professor, or thank him. A-ha...right here. You're missing a sizeable tax break on question 25."
As the woman took the paperwork back, she thanked Morgan for the help.
"Don't tell anyone that I helped you," she said as she placed a finger to her lips. "We're not supposed to care about our customers."
Entry into the Central Bureaucracy building was no big deal, as all Morgan had to do was present a thumbprint; after two tries, the door opened for her.
Meanwhile, in the security control room, a chubby guard eyeballed a camera monitor. "Nuts," he told his friend, "Morgan Proctor brought a kid in and she's letting it run loose in the building."
"How do you know it's Morgan?"
He pointed to the other monitor. "That's what's registering on the system."
"Morgan did that? I'm surprised she doesn't eat little kids. Go take care of it, Mickey."
Morgan spotted the guard as he approached. "Mickey," she said to him, "how's the fantasy football going?"
He gave the child a strange look. "Uh, is your mother around?"
"My mother? Oh, yes...I get it. I'm Morgan - it's a little hard to explain..."
"You're Morgan? Honey, I'm going to need to know where your mother is. I can't let you go any further into the building without an adult."
"Mickey, come here - let me see your wrist computer." He extended his arm, and the girl pressed her thumb on the pad. A positive match for Morgan Proctor appeared on the screen, along with her photograph. "That isn't a malfunction...that's really me."
He backed away as if the child were suddenly dangerous. "Miss Proctor? Uh, I was just trying to..."
"Not a problem, Mickey. Just walk with me to my office. You're not in trouble. In fact, that was a good reaction time if I say so myself. Within 8 minutes. I'll let Mr. Loddington know how good a job you did."
"Thank you very much, Miss Proctor. Uh, pardon my asking...but did they do this to you at Planet Express?"
The child smiled. "Mickey, you know way too much just to be a security guard."
As Morgan arrived at her office, a surprised Zelma Flaherty stood up. "What the?"
"Zelma, I'm going to need to convene a Section 17 meeting as soon as possible; we're going to throw Planet Express out into the street once and for all."
"Who are you?" she asked the child.
"Oh, I'm Morgan. Long story. Now, if you'll start taking some notes..."
"Whoa, wait a minute. I don't even know who you are. And security brought you up here? Who's child are you? 'Take Your Daughter to Work' day isn't until next Tuesday, and I know darn well that Morgan doesn't have a child. At least I don't think so."
"Zelma, it's me. Now if you'll just take some notes, I haven't got much time. The McMasters meeting is in a half hour..."
"Wait a minute...how in the heck do you know about that? Who are you?"
"Zelma, just listen to me." She pointed up at an old photo on Zelma's cubicle. "That's you as an 8-year old with your yellow lab Trickster in Chicago. It nearly tore you apart when he was hit by a Slurm truck in Prospect Heights. Your mother wanted to clone the dog from its tissue, but you told her that there would only be one Trickster."
Zelma's lip quivered and she reached out to touch the girl's face. "Miss P...what did those monsters do to you?"
"I guess you could say that this is the 'new, younger' me. Now, we've got a lot of ground to cover in a short time. Start taking some notes."
As the two began to get their work done, Morgan noticed a yo-yo on Zelma's desk. "Who's is this?" she asked.
"One of mine. Now, let me show you what I've done with the McMasters File..."
As Morgan listened to her, she found herself playing with the glow-in-the-dark yo-yo. After throwing a few sleepers, she then did a "walk the dog" on the carpeted floor.
"Miss P - you're really good with that thing..."
"Yeah...I guess you never really lose it." She then did a forward pass with it. "Now...I want to know everything about old man McMasters...all his tricks, all his techniques, all his dirty little secrets. I want to go in there armed for bear." She then did a dizzy-baby with the yo-yo.
The meetings went well, although she did get some strange stares from the executives who wondered why a child was hosting the sessions. Her request for a Section 17 meeting was approved, but delayed a few days. Zelma was nice enough to fly her home in her flying Pacer, and they grabbed a MacHaggis sandwich from MacDougall's on the way home. Morgan decided to forgo the usual scotch ale with the meal, as she was no longer drinking age.
"Well, how do you feel, Miss P?"
"Actually great - I haven't felt this good in years. Even my nagging back pain is gone." Morgan stretched her hand out in front of her. "I have the energy level of a child...well, I am one after all."
"Well, you'd better turn in early. You've got meetings all morning long."
"What are you trying to tell me? You sound like my..." Morgan stopped, and the both of them chuckled. She then got that serious look of a bureaucrat back on her face. "You're suggestion for turning in early is a good one. Zelma, I really do wish you would get a 10 and 2 stance on the wheel while you drive, though..."
"Yes, Miss P."
Before turning in for the night, she gave her old teddy bear that always sat on her bed a friendly pat on its head. "I never thought I'd see you like this again," she told it.
The next morning held more meetings. She reluctantly agreed to a lunch with Leela and Amy Wong; the two of them flew over to pick her up in Amy's red car. When they landed, they looked out the window at the young child marching across the parking lot like a military cadet.
"Look at Miss Thing," Leela commented, "even at 12 years of age she still looks like she could tear the teeth out of a Bengal Tiger and not even get scratched." Amy shook her head in agreement and laughed.
"You people realize that I'm not changing my mind," she told them as she entered the car, "you will face the music for what you've done."
"Is she old enough to be out of a car seat?" asked Amy.
"Don't you dare start with me, Miss Wong..."
"I'm just kidding - shmeesher..."
As the car made its way over the warehouse district of Little Ganymede, Morgan peeked out the window as they prepared to land - she had to stretch herself a bit to do this.
"What is this? This isn't MacDougall's."
Leela smiled. "No, it's Ferrell's Ice Cream Shop. Are you ready for an ice cream sundae?"
The child got an annoyed look on her face. "Now wait just a minute, sister. I know what this is. Bribery of a bureaucrat is a serious offense; I can throw onto that the bribery of a minor."
"Oh for Pete's sake," Leela replied, "it's just some ice cream. Maybe, just maybe we feel bad for getting you into this scrape. Maybe we'd just like some ice cream ourselves. Besides, we're paying - just enjoy it. We'll do some shopping for your clothes afterwards."
Morgan lost that stern adult look on her face, and began to act more like a 12-year old. "Oh, what the hell...it is Ferrell's."
After lunch the girls helped Morgan pick out a wardrobe of clothes that fit her. They even helped her find a dark gray school outfit that was similar to her bureaucracy uniform - all she had to do was fasten her ID badges to it.
"Do you really think it looks good?" she asked them as she looked in the mirror.
"You look like that dragon woman you always were," said Leela. "Just a little shorter."
"It'll do then," she said with a satisfied smile.
After finishing up some more paperwork at the office, Zelma dropped Morgan back off at her condo. She held up her thumb to scan the door, noting that it was still awkward to reach up to do it. As she got ready to unlock her door, she spotted the neighbor girl sitting on her porch with a sad look on her face. She wanted to go inside, but she couldn't just leave the girl sitting there.
"Marie, what's wrong?"
The child looked at her strangely. "Do I know you? I know Miss Proctor lives over there, but I've never seen you before."
"Oh, you know Miss Proctor..."
"Yeah...sometimes she isn't very friendly. My mother told me that some people are just tougher to love; she said that I should just try to be kind to her."
The words made Morgan ponder. "You know, sometimes big people get all caught up in their jobs...they don't remember what it's like to be our age. I'm sure she'll come around."
"Are you her daughter?"
"Uh, I'm a good friend of Morgan's niece...she's uh, having me look in on the house." She sat down next to the girl. "You look like you just lost your best friend...what's the matter?
Marie pointed over to a nearby baseball field. "They wouldn't let me play."
"And why exactly wouldn't they let you play?" Morgan said in an adult-like tone.
"Because I'm a girl...and the Johnson twins told me that girls can't pitch."
"Fiddlesticks! I was...I mean, I'm one of the best pitchers I know. Give me your glove."
The girl surrendered the glove as Morgan stood up.
"Come on, you're going with me. It's been a while, but I'll show you what pitching is all about. I'll have you know that I won a trophy at Syracuse Uni..." she caught herself again, "uh, Syracuse North Elementary School."
The boys started to jeer and groan when Morgan came over to pitch, but the adult coach insisted that they let her. A youthful Morgan scanned the field, and then eyeballed the Johnson twins like a hungry eagle looking at its prey. She gave them a wicked grin, and used a two-fingered gesture to tell them that she was keeping an eye on them.
The boys began to jeer again, and the coach quieted them down. "Give her a chance," he told them. "She might teach you a thing or two."
She stared down her batter to try and shake him up a bit. Her first pitch was good, but the boy got a lucky hit on the ball. It went over her head, but the shortstop caught it and threw it to first. The boy got safely on plate.
"Go on up there Jerry," a boy said, "knock one over the fence."
She again stared at the next batter like a hungry lioness, squinting her eyes and nodding her head. She was at an extra disadvantage, as she didn't know the signals the catcher was flashing. Strike. Ball. Strike. Another swift pitch struck the boy out.
The third boy, a portly kid, came up to bat. Again, she got that stare in her eyes. "Who's my next victim?" she bragged.
"That's Tony," the First Baseman whispered. "He's their best hitter."
Again the nodding. Again the squinting. Strike one. "You took a swing at a piece of junk," she taunted. "You can do better than that, Tony." She could tell by his batting stance that the boy knew what he was doing. "Oh hell," she thought, "this kid's good; what did I get myself into? You can do this, Morgan...this field is just like a tax court. And you own the tax court."
Morgan threw. Tony's bat made good solid contact on the ball, but it didn't go very high. Morgan was able to catch it and get it to second; the baseman on second struck Tony out at first to finish the inning. In a totally uncharacteristic move, Morgan joined in the celebration with her team mates. The coach came over.
"Where did you come from, kiddo?"
She looked up at the man. "I came over from across the street because my buddy Marie was getting taunted. I'm sure you'll make it so she gets a chance to play."
"You got it." The coach shook his head. "Kid, I haven't seen pitching like that since Mifuni Mitsukini on Mars..."
Morgan snickered. "Oh yeah? I did his taxes once - he's one of the biggest tax cheats I've ever met." She then left the field to go home. He just stood there and scratched his head.
The next morning brought a knock at the door. Morgan answered it in her robe, and she was wearing cream on her face. "Can I help you? I've got meetings all morning, so make it short."
The man introduced himself. "I'm Elliott Munoz, from the school system. Is your mother around?"
Morgan shot him an angry look. "My mother isn't living anymore - she's buried in Syracuse. What can I help you with?"
"Your mother is buried in Syracuse? Are there any other adults here?"
"What are you here for? You're going to make me late for my meetings."
"Meetings? Well, your landlady Mrs. Lewis called us and told us about a minor child going in and out of this condo."
"That's because it's my condo, genius."
"Uh, when was the last time you were in school?"
"My senior year of college." Morgan crossed her arms. "Oh, I understand this now. So, let me get this straight - you're a truant officer. And you think I'm a 'youth' who's delinquent from school. All this will lead up to a Section 35 meeting with a bureaucracy officer."
"Uh, yes...how do you know all this?"
"Because I've arranged those meetings before, ding-dong. I work for the Bureaucracy." Morgan reached up and plucked a framed degree off of her wall from Syracuse. She tapped her finger on the glass. "See this, pal? This is my school. Now get going."
"You've been to college? This can't possibly be yours."
Morgan reached over and grabbed her wrist computer. "Okay, buster - you've made me do this. If I press this button, you'll get pulled into a tax audit that would frighten even Zeus himself. They'll examine everything you've done in years. Now get lost, or I'll lay every dark corner of your life open for all to see."
Finally, after the confused truant officer left, Zelma came to pick Morgan up. "What's wrong, Miss P? You look down."
Morgan slumped in her seat. "Zelma, I'm starting to think this world is just too big for me. Parts of being young again are great, but other parts aren't so hot. Just get me to work."
Leela started pulling things out of her locker that she hadn't seen in a long time, and putting them into a box. She took down a couple of posters that had been in there for years. She looked at the first one which read, "I used to be apathetic, but now I don't care." She chuckled at the second one which read, "I must be a mushroom, because they keep me in the dark and feed me nothing but bullshit." This one had a crying cartoon mushroom on it wiping its eye - she'd got it during a delivery to the ASU campus in Tempe, Arizona, in a place called Happy Trails. So many places. So many memories. Now, all done and gone.
The Section 17 meeting started early in the morning. Morgan showed up to find a full room, both with bureaucrats and with the employees of Planet Express. Professor Farnsworth, strangely enough, wasn’t among them. The bureaucrats looked on in wonder as the young 12-year old came up to the podium to deliver her deposition. She suddenly realized that she couldn’t see over the podium. “Drat,” she sighed, “one of the disadvantages of being young again.” A quick thinking businesswoman brought her a step stool to use. “Thanks.”
“This is preposterous,” a portly man said as he stood up.
The child glanced over. “Is there a problem, Rodney?”
“I don’t know who’s kid this is, but she can’t pass herself off as Morgan Proctor. There's no way that this could be legal and binding.”
“Let the record show that the computer has already identified me as Morgan Proctor.”
“This is nothing but a parlor trick.”
Even though the eyes belonged to a child, they burned with the same intensity as the Morgan everyone knew. “Rodney, you had quite a bit of alcohol at our last X-mas party, and you spoke quite liberally about your workmates here. Would you like me to repeat some of what you said? I am who I say I am, so shut up and sit down. Come Monday morning I’m going to be that door-buster and ass-kicker that you’ve all come to know and love, so watch out.”
The comment drew some chuckles. Embarrassed, the man took his seat.
“Good…moving right along. For the record, my decision here today is final and unchangeable.”
Amy Wong nibbled on her fingernails as Leela just looked at the floor. Fry sat quietly and waited for the boom to be lowered.
“I have been in this body for nearly a week, and I’ve had plenty of time to think things over. I’ve had a rare opportunity to relive a part of my life as a child, something that I’m sure no one else here has been able to do.”
“Just give us a chance,” said Leela.
Morgan held her hand up. “Now Leela, my mind is made up. I hereby recommend that Professor Farnsworth be fined $300 Nixon Funbucks, and that his experiments be monitored more closely in the future. Even though this man has been a loose cannon at times, his latest experiment shows some promise in the medical field and is worth further study. If we end this man’s experiments, some valuable research might be lost. That is unless you have any objections, Miss Turanga.”
Leela’s frown turned into a smile. "Uh, no ma'am...no objections here." The Professor snuck into the meeting, and she whispered the news into his ear.
“As far as the rest of the Planet Express employees, they were not involved in the incident of October 2nd. I see no valid reason to end their employment at Planet Express.”
“This is a farce,” another woman protested. “You called us into a Section 17 just to fine somebody?”
“Julianne, if you came here for a lynching, I’m sorry to disappoint you. You wanted justice meted out, so consider it meted out. You only came here today because you wanted that land for condos anyway. You've probably got a wrecking ball stashed away somewhere.”
“Are they going to be able to change you back?” asked a British woman.
“Judging by the excited look on the Professor’s face and the way he’s pointing to his watch, I’d say yes. I hate to shove off like this, but I’m ready to join the adult population again.”
The majority of those in the room applauded her as she left with the Planet Express crew.
Morgan Proctor studied herself in the mirror after getting dressed.
“Is anything wrong?” asked Amy.
“I actually look a tiny bit younger than I did,” she noted. “Some of my laugh lines are less visible.”
“The reversal of the process isn’t an exact science,” the Professor said. “I can get you back into the chamber…”
“No, no, no – I’m not complaining. I think you did a fine job.”
“So tell me,” Leela asked her, “would you be interested in going back to Farrell’s Ice Cream shop?”
“Now Leela, you know that bribery of a bureaucrat is a serious offense." In a rare moment, Morgan's serious look quickly turned into a smile. "Oh what the hell - I wouldn’t mind another sundae, as long as you're paying.” She then turned to Fry. “Do you still have those tickets to the Children’s Museum? I know a neighbor’s daughter that might get a kick out of them.”
Zelma then came in to pick her up. "Wow," she said, "you're you again, Miss P."
"Yeah, the old man here does good work - when he's well motivated."
"I brought something for you, Miss P." Zelma reached into her purse and handed Morgan a bright new red yo-yo. "Try it out..."
Morgan tried another sleeper, and then threw a forward pass. As the yo-yo popped back into her hand, she said with pride: "Yep - I still got it."
At the end of the day, Morgan noticed that her young neighbor Marie was sitting on the stoop again. Like before, she couldn’t just ignore her and go into her condo. “How was your day…Marie, I think it was.”
“Not bad, Miss Proctor.”
“Let me see that baseball.” The girl handed it to her. “Now, look at this – this is how you hold it for a good pitch. Did you know I used to play in college? My niece’s friend tells me that you’re quite a fine pitcher.”
"Show me, Miss Proctor."
She smiled and got ready to pitch. "Here...catch..."