“Move!Move!Move!Move!Move!—“ screamed Bender.
Instinctively Fry jerked the control stick back, only to find his head slamming against the backrest as the truck lurched forward, charging the police line.
At the same moment, from within the bowels of the NNYPD, someone with a sense of humor commanded one of the automated floating porcupines to fire a small missile, aiming directly at Bender’s butt. Fry had a fraction of a second to jerk the stick to the left, away from the missile, and then a fraction of a second later to remember that he actually had to jerk the other way, with the result that he perfectly canceled out his first move, and the missile flew into the cab and slammed directly into Bender’s posterior.
There was a sharp “CLANG” and the little missile ricocheted off the dolomite derrière and exited back the way it came. The momentum of the hit drove Bender’s head through the back wall of the cab, and the momentum of the impact swiveled the truck around its center of mass about 90 degrees. Fry, head knocking against the side door, inadvertently snapped the stick sharply to the left, encouraging the truck to complete a clean 180 degree turn. Looking up, Fry could see the second phalanx pull together down the block. Behind him, the original missile struck the floating porcupine that had launched it, thus demonstrating once again that the universe did not appreciate a sense of humor. It’s job finished, the law of conservation of linear momentum kicked back and sipped a daiquiri.
“Geez, Bender, you’re sure are a hard ass,” muttered Fry as he wrestled with the stick, hopelessly disoriented as he struggled to center the truck down the road.
“LiuhkUnklarko-“ were the only muffled sounds that Fry heard from Bender’s head, hidden somewhere behind the wall, while his arms and legs flailed inside the cab. One leg hit the stick again just as another salvo of weaponry hit them from behind. The truck swayed drunkenly back and forth down the street toward the second police line.
Fry’s inability to drive straight probably saved his life, as swaths of laser beams from the second line sliced through where his head had been a second before. Fry stabilized the truck, and six laser sights appeared on the cab’s rear wall, sliding toward his head.
Wave after wave of explosives rammed into the rear of the truck with a muffled thud, bouncing Fry in his seat as he saw more guns rise in the second line. He swung the stick left to reenter the alleyway they had just exited, causing the truck to spin right instead, and lumber directly into a 7^11 store that fortunately had been evacuated just minutes before.
Fry yelled as the truck smashed through the door and hit a standing display of Slurm cans. The cans exploded, obscuring his vision for a moment, and the truck plowed through every shelving unit in the shop before it came to a halt, just as an entire case of Big Pink gum and firewood dumped into his lap. For a precious second everything was quiet, and Fry could hear his heart pounding and Bender’s muffled curses from behind the wall. Then something exploded with a “BANG!” and Fry started—but it was just another can of Slurm bursting. He took a deep breath, then glanced up at the camera displays.
All rear displays were out of commission, presumably by weapons fire. The right mirror still held, though, and through the gaping hole in the store front Fry could see a heavily armored SWAT team run out of the alley next to the bank and out of his field of view.
Flicking his eyes forward, the delivery boy saw a sign posted over a door labeled “Human restroom in alley.” While his mind was preoccupied, his body, knowing what was coming, fastened his seat belt. Summoning all his powers of concentration, Fry smoothly but firmly pulled the stick back. The truck serenely accelerated forward and smashed through the back of the store and into the alley beyond, where he crashed into the far wall of the alley. The force of the impact dislodged Bender, who fell back against the dashboard with a thud.
“Damn, monkey boy, we drew an ace on this one!”
“Wha?” said Fry, desperately conducting a twenty-point turn to move the truck so that it was facing the alley exit, alternatively slamming the front and rear of the truck against the alley walls as he slowly swiveled around.
“I saw the inside of this truck. It’s full of money bags! From the volume there must be—“ Bender strained his underused arithmetic processor “—roughly $2.71828182 billion dollars there.”
Fry quickly tossed a few slabs of wood from his lap out the front window. “Never thought I’d see a natural log in the city-“ he began, and then what Bender said struck him full force. “Billions of dollars? In here?”
“Yeah, MomCorp’s payroll all right. No wonder this is one hell of an armored truck. That’s an awful lot of money. I can’t even think about what I can do with all of it.” And Bender started to tremble. Fry, who had managed to straighten out the truck, glanced worriedly at his friend as he started to move the truck down the alley.
It was so narrow that he could hear the both sides of the truck scraping the walls. And there went the right mirror….
In the past fifteen minutes Fry hadn’t even had a chance to ask, much less think, about what Bender had just done in the bank. He opened his mouth.
“Bender, what’s going on?“
“That memory of mine I showed you in the bank?”
“Fake? Whaddua mean?”
“Never happened. It was put there to make sure we would turn you in to the police. But more important things first. You gotta do something for me. I can’t do it myself.”
“Gotta adjust my avarice amplifier. Gonna need to set it for a higher level for what we’re facing. Two billion dollars, I don’t know-”
And he pivoted his head away from Fry as a small panel door opened on the back of his head.
Fry could see a few small vehicles dart across the opening of the alley, but risked glancing at the panel. It was a simple knob, encircled by numbers ranging from ‘0’ to ‘11’. Currently it was set at ‘4’.
“I need to boost my greed level to handle this amount of cash,” Bender said. “Raise it up a few counts.”
“Um, OK,” Fry said, reaching out while keeping one eye focused ahead. Then it hit him.
“You mean all this time I’ve known you—your greed level’s been only set to four?”
“Turn the damn knob,” thundered the bending unit.
Fry complied, just as he felt the vibration of several photon charges hitting the back of the truck. The SWAT team must be in the alley now.
“Ah, good, we’ve made a good start in cash for this trip,” Bender said. “I mean, another billion would have been better, and we still need to hijack one of those floating platforms—“
The truck exited the alley, and Fry, having rehearsed this moment several times in his mind, gingerly pushed the stick to the right, while ignoring the mass of police vehicles desperately trying to rearrange themselves on his right. The truck pivoted smoothly to his left, revealing only a couple of police vehicles ahead, cordoning off the side streets. That and a police hovercycle now sitting five feet in front of the truck. URL and Smitty, sitting on the cycle, snapped their heads up.
Smitty jumped out of the sidecar just before the cycle and URL disappeared from Fry’s view, and an instant later something thumped underneath the truck.
“So Bender, that party you showed me, with me giving you money, wasn’t true?”
“Rub my face in it, why don’t you? That was the best party I never threw. And there were floozies! Latest generation processors and all. I think I’m gonna keep it. To hell with reality.”
A metallic arm flew over the window sill of Bender’s door, and URL’s head appeared.
“Hey baby, I’m going to go Guantanomo on you!”
“Fly’s open,” Bender said.
“Huh?” URL said, looking down. “Wait, I don’t even wear pants-“
Fry managed to brush against a lamppost, and URL vanished.
Fry saw an expensive-looking silver hover car pull through the police cordon half a block ahead. Geysers of asphalt erupted on his sides and in front of him, as from behind the crowd of police cars and the surviving flying platform peppered the street with explosive and photonic charges.
“Wait, so that wasn’t me, who was it?”
“It was an implanted memory, you moron. A simulation.”
“I don’t think you left last year. I think you were taken.”
A particularly large crater rising in front of him briefly gave him a flashback of his last holophoner vision. A steady hail of projectiles and photons pounded the back of the truck, but the two friends glided smoothly over the gaping potholes in the ground, crashed through the police barrier, and entered the regular busy streets of NNY. The crowd of police vehicles jammed at the cordon as officers jumped out and started to pull the barriers out of the way.
Fry was beginning to realize that since the tires couldn’t be shot off an armored hover truck, they were going to be very hard to stop-
He stopped. The traffic light ahead had turned red, and all the lanes ahead were occupied. Fry sat behind the silver hovercar. It was a convertible, and the top was down, revealing that the driver had some kind of phone pressed to his ear.
“What the hell are you doing?” Bender said.
“Run it, you moron.”
“But that’d be dangerous, and break the law.”
“What did we just do twenty minutes ago? Hey neat, look what I found under the seat-“
Fry thought for a moment. They had just robbed a –
“Oh yeah, OK.”
And he pulled the stick back, moving the truck forward, nudging the silver hovercar, crumpling the bumper. Startled, the driver jumped out, phone still to his ear, jabbering away.
“Call you back.” As the driver looked down at his phone, pressing buttons, he said, “Hope you have a good lawyer, buddy.”
“Sorry, but get out of the way, or I’ll run you over,” Fry said.
“Who the hell you think you are? Do you know who I am? I’m the Mayor’s a-“ and then Chaz looked up and he and Fry’s eyes met.
Chaz looked puzzled for a moment, and then his eyes widened.
He pressed a button on his phone. “Don’t move. By the full authority of the mayor’s office, I place you under –“
“Hey buddy! “
Chaz looked over at the robot.
“Get your skinny ass the hell out of our way, or we’ll move it for you.”
Chaz flicked his middle finger at the delivery boy and robot.
“Bend this, buddy.”
Then he haughtily turned his back while pressing the phone back against his head. Fry risked leaning out of the side window and looked behind him. A stream of police vehicles was converging rapidly on them, and the remaining flying porcupine-like thing was pulling over them, a large hatchway starting to open on its underside. That couldn’t be good.
“Excuse me, please.”
It was the second time today that Bender had used the magic word, and somehow Fry knew no good would come of it. He glanced askance at Bender, and his pulse quickened at the sight of the missile launcher in his friend’s hands.
“Found this under the seat. Forgot that this is standard police issue—did wonders with the jaywalking problem here a few years ago,” Bender mused.
Chaz scornfully flicked a glance at the two friends, still talking on the phone. He saw the launcher, and tapped a button on his watch. A personal force field congealed around the mayor’s aide.
“Go ahead, try,” he sniffed.
Bender waved the launcher in a friendly way, then took aim.
“Who said I was aiming for you?”
The missile struck the silver car, flipping the two ton vehicle into the air like a plastic tiddlywink. Chaz flew through the air and hit the sidewalk, falling unconscious to the ground. Fry tried to feel bad, then decided that we would never be nominated for sainthood. A shadow passed over him and he looked up as the car spun end over end into the air, before being blocked from his view by the cab roof.
A very loud CRUNCH echoed down the street.
“What’s going on?” Fry whimpered.
“Use your top-view mirror.”
“Top view mirror. You know, rear view, top view, bottom view.” And Bender leaned over and pressed a button underneath one of the cameras mounted above the windshield.
The image flickered, and then the sight of the flying platform appeared on the viewscreen.
“Huh, it’s getting bigger,” Fry said.
“MOVE, you dumb mammal!” panicked the robot.
Even as his mind was still piecing together what was happening, Fry’s arms jammed the stick forward and the truck leapt backwards as fast as a triple reinforced Harley Fargo truck could. A moment later the pavement in front of him was filled with the fiery wreckage of the flying platform, now mingled with the silver hovercar. Fortunately, the light had changed and the other vehicles had run forward out of harm’s way. Chaz, lying on the sidewalk, seemed to have one shoe on fire, but was in one piece, thanks to his force field.
The truck was accelerating backwards so quickly that when the bomb in the wreck finally exploded, the shrapnel seemed to waft toward them in slow motion. Several police hovercars, that moments before had been in hot pursuit, swerved desperately out of the path of the hovertruck and the fiery streaks of molten metal. Vehicle after vehicle crashed into storefronts and apartments as the truck zoomed backwards in a straight line.
The debris was finally catching up with the truck, and out of the corner of his eye Fry could see an intersection to his left. Without thinking he veered the stick toward the left, and in a blink the truck had pivoted left and continued backwards down the street, exactly as he had wished. Part of him admired the beauty of the flaming streaks crashing in front of him, but then he saw another police hovercycle turn the corner, and bear down on them.
Horns blared, and flame e-mails were transmitted as all manner of taxis, private vehicles and pedestrians dodged out of the way of the backwards truck. Just as additional flashing lights appeared around the corner in pursuit, Fry jerked the stick right and the truck turned right so fast that one side lifted four feet off the ground before the internal gyros listening to gravity’s advice again.
“Heh, heh, heh. Ya know, it’s good to finally be a plain old bad guy for once, and not have to come up with this endearing anti-hero angst crap,” mused the robot. “By the way, turn around.”
“No time,” Fry replied, “and it’s easier for me to drive like this. Left is left, and right is –um--”
“Right. How can you see where you’re going?”
There was a sickening thud and the wreckage of a cart containing black market human organs plopped down around and on the truck cab. Fry was thankful the roof was still intact. Something that looked like a pancreas hit the driver of the police hovercycle, and he swerved and crashed.
“I can’t! The mirrors are gone!”
“Abandon ship!” Bender hollered, and opened the door. But as he leaned out he peered to his right looking up the street and cried, “Right, Fry! No, other right-“
Fry managed to finally adjust the stick the correct way as a dump truck flashed by, Sal shaking his fist, shouting, “Gets glasses, youse idiot!”
Bender detached his head and extended his arms, lifting his head to peer over the truck.
“Where … going?” Fry heard Bender’s voice faintly from above.
“I don’t know! Just get us away from the bank!” Fry shouted as loud as he could.
“Turn … way!” And Bender’s other arm pointed left, nearly punching Fry in the face.
Left, left, right, left, right, right, right, left—the truck wound it’s way through the streets of NNY, scattering trash receptacles, uprooting suicide booths, forcing people, aliens, and robots alike to leap for safety in the nearest doorway, and in one case, the sewer.
“What’do we do?” Fry asked, starting to panic now that he had a moment or two to think. Ever since he had produced the holophoner vision nearly twelve hours ago, all he had really planned to do was to run for his life, and to withdraw some money. So now what? And where to go? He didn’t know how to get to any spaceport from there, and if he did, what would they do once they got there?
“Keep … oving,” Fry heard faintly. “Don’t talk … anyone … til … planet.”
“Memory … ..anted. … took …way … want …gain.”
And what about Bender’s memory? Fry thought. Somehow he felt he was on the cusp of something. And Fry took another wild turn and saw the familiar entrance sign of the Cyrogenic lab pass by.
He walked down the street in a random direction that he knew could not be random…
Two nights ago Fry had walked slowly down the route he was now taking, confused, unnoticed, and alone, as a thunderstorm washed out the evening sunset. Now it was a beautiful summer morning, the air fresh from the recent rain, and he was no longer alone, if $2.7 billion dollars and a kleptomaniac robot could be called companionship. But now he was more confused than ever, and unfortunately he was very noticeable now.
But just like two days ago, he suddenly knew there was only one place he could go to, if he were to have any chance at all. It was playing into the hands of whatever was after him, but he was out of options. He wrenched the truck around corners that he knew would lead him back to the one place where someone cared (used to care?) about him. Up ahead (behind?) him he could see the flashing lights of police vehicles reflected off the second and third-story apartment windows. They were close. He didn’t dare try to stop and turn the truck around, but he actually seemed to be driving much better backwards, and all the other cars on the road seemed to have safety avoidance systems that allowed the truck to said down the street without even having to wind back and forth.
The truck now wound along the Hudson River, but something that sounded like a scream came from Bender’s head, so Fry swerved back inland again. His timing was a little off, and he ended up smashing through a link fence surrounding an unused industrial lot. Funny how chain link fencing had never changed over a thousand years.
The buildings were getting more familiar, like he was strolling through the memories of his recent past. There went O’Zorganax, here went
his first apartment, there was the Robot Arms—
A faint chorus of screams reached his ears, and a moment later he felt a bump. A rain of umbrellas, chairs, and coffee cups crashed around him and to his left he saw a small crowd huddled against a bistro entrance. His heart gave a little lurch, as he realized he had just run over the spot were he had first told Leela he loved her.
And there it was. Planet Express. Just passed it. Way passed it.
It was over a block away now, and rather than stop and have to think about the controls again, Fry turned left and began to circle around the block. Even over the air blast through the windows he could start to make out the sound of sirens growing louder.
He made the final turn and slammed the stick as far to the right as he could. Like a hippopotamus gracefully pirouetting on ice skates, the truck spun around, the left side lifting slightly off the ground again. Once the blur of the outside world resolved, Fry could see Planet Express again, now coming toward him.
“Thanks for the warning,” Bender snapped, literally, as he snapped his head back into place on his body. “I almost let go of my –WATCHIT!”
Fry, distracted by Bender, looked back at Planet Express. He was now driving on the sidewalk, and directly in front of them sat a very familiar dumpster. As he realized he was going to hit it, a familiar face poked up over the dumpster rim. True to his word, Dr. Zoidberg had been guarding the dumpster, waiting for his companions.
Since Fry was wearing a seat belt, the impact against the dumpster didn’t throw his body over the hood, unlike, say Bender, who was pitched headfirst into the dumpster. Zoidberg, meanwhile, was launched past Bender and somersaulted into the cab. The law of linear momentum frowned, huddled with Newton’s first law, then shrugged.
“My good friend Fry! I have been guarding the dumpster very well for you! And you’ll never guess what I found in it! Oh look, here it comes now!”
The Decapodian affectionately slapped Fry on the shoulder while pointing with his claw out the window. The force of the slap drove Fry’s face into the mess that had once been the dashboard, and he lost control of the truck. It was probably a good thing his head was down, though, because at that moment thirty pounds of used alien baby diapers flew into the cab and smacked against the rear wall.
The heavy truck had only been slowed slightly by the half-full dumpster, but the dumpster was still pressed against the truck, throwing a shower of sparks as truck and dumpster careened back and forth across the street, the dumpster valiantly resisting like an outclassed sumo wrestler. Bender poked his head out of the dumpster just as one corner of the dumpster caught an edge of the curb. The truck lifted the dumpster off the ground and threw it forward, giving Bender barely enough time to leap back into the cab.
The dumpster tumbled forward, an awkward square log, until it crashed against the front of the Cygnoid pizza joint, piling the rest of its trash right on its doorstep. The Cygnoids rushed out, dancing joyfully at the sight of their windfall of new ingredients, and cheerfully waved their antennae at the departing truck.
Fry lifted his head up. The hood had collected quite a collection since the collision, and in order to see Fry reached forward and swept away pieces of dashboard, windshield glass, Big Pink, Slurm cans, what looked like a human spleen, and a venti latte. He felt something wet and slimy trickling off the rear wall and down into his pants, but at the moment he couldn’t care less, because now he saw that the truck was barreling directly toward Planet Express.
He yanked the control stick hard to the right, and the suddenness of the move, along with the speed of the vehicle, threw the left side of the vehicle up in the air. The internal gyroscopes, damaged by the collision with the dumpster, gave way, and the world tilted at a crazy angle, as the hovertruck balanced precariously on its right side.
From his point of view, Fry could see the new doors of Planet Express grow larger and larger, tilted at a 45 degree angle. The truck was only a hundred yards away from the entrance, and even over the screams of Zoidberg and Bender, Fry’s ear picked out a new noise, a high-pitched alarm.
Zoidberg, shrieking, grabbed both Bender and Fry in tight bear hugs, a move which caused Fry to yank back on the stick. The truck accelerated even faster toward Planet Express, just as Fry caught the first reflection of a police siren off the front door.
Suffocating in Zoidberg’s embrace, Fry flicked the control stick rapidly back and forth to try to keep the truck balanced, but it was a doomed effort, and the truck fell over onto its right side. The added friction finally acted as a brake, but they were only twenty feet away from the entrance, and Fry braced himself for the impact.
His mind was past shock and fear, and watched the unfolding events with a detached curiosity. What was that alarm? Oh yeah, the “Fry detector” Hermes had installed. It must have gone off when the truck has penetrated the 100 foot tripwire surrounding the building. Well, he was about to be detected in a big way, wasn’t he?
The new entry doors were now so close that Fry would make out the individual letters of “Planet Express” etched in cursive into the glass.
It was really too bad about the doors, Fry reflected. He had actually liked them.