Fan Fiction

Leela's Story, part 1
By James Prospect

Disclaimer: Futurama belongs, not to me, but to Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, and all the other great people that created it, then watched it die, and then brought it back to life. I do, however, own the plot and any OC’s seen herewith.

A blast of air seized her and pushed her into the endless maze of tubes ahead. The entire city rushed beneath her in a confusing blur of colors. Of course, it would all look very confusing to a girl with no depth perception. Leela heaved a sigh, as she so often did when she felt cheated out of happiness. Any time she wanted to see normally, or live normally, or enjoy life like any other sixteen-year-old, there was a pretty good chance that she wouldn’t get to. Figures.

Of course, after a lifetime of mistreatment, it was something you just learned to live with. Even as a little girl growing up in the Cookieville Minimum Security Orphanarium she understood what it meant to feel the pain of exclusion and resentment. For a long time she’d just felt sorry for herself 24-7. It was a difficult life. Finally, she’d managed to find a way to vent her frustrations. Arcturan Kung Fu utilized many aspects of the human mind and body, and it suited her style just fine, even if she wasn’t technically human. The violent aspect of it was a great outlet for the anger that had built up inside her from being picked on all the time. Sometimes she hated being a cyclops.

Leela sighed again and just continued to look straight down. It would be a full five minutes before she got to class, and she might as well try to enjoy the scenery. She could make out the shapes of individual hovercars and self-walking dogs before they disappeared again. Her judgment of size made it difficult for her to figure out how far away everything was. For all she knew, that guy on the sidewalk could have been really small, but an inch away from her eye. It was a limiting perspective, but a perspective she was used to.

Leela popped feet first out of the landing station in the middle of Manhattan, in the smallest, but most populated, district: Arcturatown. Everywhere there were humans, humanoids, and aliens talking, shouting, and moving frantically from place to place. There were outdoor markets and indoor markets, antique shops, furniture stores, restaurants, and hot dog carts. In the streets, Asian teenagers pulled carriages with impatient riders, and overhead hung thousands of clotheslines and Chinese lanterns. Sweet and sour smells wafted out of every nook and cranny.

Leela turned around just in time to catch her duffle bag before she walked down the street. As she walked, she could see a skinny man inside an alley hastily stuffing a dollar into a Crack machine. At last, Leela looked up and saw the sign she was looking for, which she had seen so many times: “Master Phnog’s Arcturan Kung Fu Center.” She pushed the door in and hurried up a narrow flight of stairs. There was paint peeling on the walls, and the hallway above smelled like gasoline. Although these settings were somewhat peculiar, she had grown attached to them in a place that was so important to her. She had calmed some of her worst tempers in this place.

Leela pushed open a door at the end of the second-story hallway and came into the waiting room of the dojo. There were a few chairs, in which sat students that she knew by face and name from previous classes. They were all boys. The instant she walked in, they all looked up at her, but then hastily looked away and returned to their conversation, which became muttered and suspicious. Leela rolled her eye and removed her shoes and entered the dojo. She paced across the wide room to the other side, where the changing rooms were, while avoiding having to look at herself in the mirrors that lined the walls. Although she never really thought about it, her eye really did take away a lot from her looks.

Just as Leela was about to open the door to the girl’s changing room, a boy stepped out of the door across from the bathroom. He was Tim Dawson, the assistant teacher for her class. Leela hated him. Apart from being unfairly favored by Phnog, he was also extremely obnoxious and loved to make fun of her. Leela stared up into his smirking face. He was about a head taller than her, with dark brown hair, broad shoulders, and a slight bump on his nose. Around his waist was a black belt with a stripe on it. Leela glared at him before ducking quickly into the changing room. She couldn’t stand the fact that he had advanced faster than her. She had begun her training a year before him, and yet Phnog had used every reason imaginable to make sure he made it to Black Belt before her. She was still at her red belt, as she had been for nearly two years. Naturally, Tim had not complained.

Leela changed quickly, ending with her wrist-thingy. She looked at it fondly for a moment. She didn’t really know where it had come from. She had just found it wrapped in shiny paper on the sidewalk on her fifteenth birthday last year. For some reason it stood out to her, and not just because it had been her only present. She had a feeling it would be very important to her in the future.

“Hurry it up, Turanga!” shouted Tim from outside. Leela hurriedly stashed her wrist-thing away and ran out into the dojo. The class was starting.

Tim led them through the traditional bowing to Phnog and meditation. When they were warming up, he pushed them a bit harder than usual, every now and then glancing over in Leela’s direction. Leela pushed herself relentlessly, never stopping even to wipe the sweat from her brow.

Finally, Phnog had them divide into pairs. They began practicing their panther-style combat techniques. Leela had never really been partial to the panther. She much preferred tiger or dragon-style. She bitterly pushed herself to get them right, pausing every so often to catch her breath. When Tim came over to check how they were doing, she forced herself to pull off her technique flawlessly. If Tim didn’t find one thing that was wrong with it, it would be a miracle. But, of course, he found something.

“No, no, no,” he said. Leela hated it when he said that. “When you twist the arm, you’ve got to make sure you keep it straight. Like this.”

He proceeded to demonstrate on her partner. He fell to the mats on the floor, massaging his joints.

Leela gritted her teeth. “Of course,” she said. “How could I have missed that?”

Tim grinned. “Well, you just haven’t had the right kind of experience, yet.”

The rest of class proceeded as usual, with Phnog and Tim directing everyone until they got things just right, and working them until they could collapse from exhaustion. This was the feeling that Leela liked most about martial arts. She felt exhilarated and proud. She had just become stronger in an hour and a half. She packed up her things and left the dojo. As she was passing through the waiting room, Tim, who had been talking with Phnog, turned to her and said: “See you later, Turanga.”

Leela glared at him again and hurried out the door. She especially hated it when he said that.

Leela swiped her ID card through the slot at the entrance to the school and passed through the security booth. It was a bit of an old-fashioned security measure, what with biometrics being used in almost every school on Earth, but it didn’t really bother her. She crossed the road and headed across campus to her dorm room. Maddick’s High School was one of the few boarding schools in the country that didn’t have a uniform, and as she looked around at the other students, she was reminded yet again of the lack of dress code. People were walking by wearing every kind of outfit conceived. They ranged from reasonable attire to every-article-of-clothing-from-every-historical-era-on-every-body-part-imaginable. The latter was a small crowd, but it was still hard to tell who was a transvestite and who wasn’t.

Maddick’s had a very colorful history. Almost as colorful as the students. It had started out as a shoe factory in early American history. Then it became a college, and then after being one of the few sites in Old New York to survive every alien invasion, became a high school. There was still a smokestack from the factory days. A tall fence separated the campus from the rest of Brooklyn.

As Leela walked through a concrete courtyard between two buildings, she heard one of the kids near the stone fountain turn to one of her friends and mutter the word “freak.” Leela increased her pace. She finally reached the dormitories and in no time was unlocking the door to her room, which she shared with a girl named Teresa Linda Zinthrop. When she entered the room, Teresa was laying down on her bed listening to her music player. She barely looked up from the magazine she was reading when Leela arrived. Leela stuffed her sweaty karate uniform into the laundry bag that hung on the inside of their closet and went to take a shower.

As she stripped, she heard Teresa knock on the door. “You know,” she said irritably through the door, “the stink of your karate crap is really starting to get to me.”

Leela frowned as she pulled the scrunchie out of her violet hair. “Sorry they didn’t warn you when we picked our roommates.”

“You know perfectly well that if we had been allowed to pick I wouldn’t be here with you!”

Leela turned toward the door, her mouth opened to retort, but she decided against it and turned back to the shower. She ran the hot water until it hurt. Leela peeled off the last of her clothes and stepped into the steaming shower and pulled the curtain closed. She wished she had spoken back to Teresa. She knew how to be forward with her fists, but when it came to verbal fights, she just couldn’t assert herself.

Here, in the tiny 3-foot by 3-foot cubicle of steam and pipes, Leela felt as if she were finally cut off from the rest of her life. In here, she could not be bothered. There was no Phnog to oppress her, no Tim to pester her, no Teresa griping at her, and there was no one on Earth who could call her a name in here. Everything bad in the world was just beyond the shower curtain. Leela began to cry.

About an hour later, Leela emerged from the bathroom in her pajamas, feeling completely refreshed, and smelling like cucumber and kiwi instead of sweat. She was pulling her hair back into a ponytail again, and Teresa was sitting on her bed doing her homework on her laptop. Leela sat down at her desk and began writing in her diary. It wasn’t like the usual internet diaries that almost everyone used, but a simple book, with paper pages instead of digital ones. She wrote for an hour, the brilliant sunlight outside fading away to streetlights. At some point she heard Teresa crawl under the covers of her bed, but not before muttering something spiteful to her. Leela didn’t really register it; she was too engrossed in the recording of her own thoughts. Eventually she got too tired to continue, and finished her entry. She fell asleep in the top bunk massaging her wrist.

Leela ran across the street to one of the larger buildings on campus. She had spent a long time lost in thought at breakfast, and was going to be late for history class if she didn’t hurry. She entered the building and ran up three flights of stairs. She was approaching her classroom when she ran into someone. They both fell to the floor in front of the door just as it closed. Leela stood up and pressed her nose against the glass pane. Her teacher wagged his finger in her face mockingly. Leela banged her fist against the wall beside the door. It was a school rule that all doors be locked at the start of class, and opened for no late students. Leela rounded on the person she’d run into, but the second she did, she wished she hadn’t.

It was Tim.

“Great job, Tim,” Leela barked at him. “Now you’ve gotten me locked out! Hope you’re happy.”

“Hey, you were running just like I was,” he retorted just as angrily. “It’s not my fault that you were running late.”

Leela cursed herself. Tim was right. No matter how she argued with him, he always knew exactly what to say to win.

It’s probably better though, anyway, Leela thought as she brushed dust off her white tank top. I can’t defend myself in an argument anyway.

“Well, just watch where you’re going from now on.”

“And what do we have here?” said a drawling voice from behind Leela.

Leela turned around and looked into the face of Principal Skinner. She jumped a foot. It was an uncommon thing to see him in broad daylight, as his pale, yellowish skin showed, but she should have known that he would be there if she’d been locked out of class. He was well known for busting troublemakers.

Principal Skinner brushed a strand of his slick blond hair out of his face and grinned at her, his Bureaucrat, Grade 27 badge glinting in the light of the fluorescent lamps.

“Late for class again, Miss Turanga?”

Leela hung her head. It was true. She had been late to several classes for various reasons in the past two weeks. The amount of homework they’d been given had increased as they got further into the school year, and she’d lost a lot of sleep. This was the second time she’d been caught.

“And Mr. Dawson! Such a rare occasion it is to catch you red-handed.”

Tim grinned. “You should see what color my hands are when you don’t catch me.”

Skinner scowled at Tim. Tim stared right back into his eyes, but with a huge smile on his face. Leela couldn’t believe what an idiot he was being. Didn’t he realize how much trouble he was going to be in?

“Follow me.” Skinner directed. “Both of you.”

He turned on his heel and marched down the hall. Leela and Tim followed him all the way to his office, on the other side of campus. They sat down on a bench outside the door while Skinner went to get something. Leela stared directly ahead, determined not to speak to Tim.

Naturally, Tim spoke to her. “How many times have you been busted, Turanga?”

Leela didn’t answer. She was angrier than she could remember being in a long time. After a whole week of taking crap from everyone around her, being late to class again and getting screwed by the Principal was the last thing she needed. And worst of all, she had to share it with him!

Tim aksed Leela again. Leela clenched her fists in her lap and answered. “Two.”

Tim stroked his chin thoughtfully, but flexed his muscles noticeably at the same time. “Doesn’t he usually take you to his office after three?” he inquired.

Although Leela refused to speak to him again, she knew he was right. Three tardies meant detention. Yet Skinner had dragged her all the way down here on her second. Why? Leela forced the question out of her mind. She didn’t care. She just wanted to take her punishment and get on with her life.

Skinner came back with a manila folder in his hand. “Enter.” He said.

Tim led the way into Skinner’s office. There was a nameplate on his desk, along with an Earthican flag and several folders and papers Leela didn’t care about. There were a few book cases, a filing cabinet, and up on the walls were several plaques and awards for the school being state-approved or something. On the back wall was a plexiglass tube that carried letter canisters into a metal basket. In front of the desk were two chairs, in which Tim and Leela sat down.

Skinner glared over his desk at the pair with his hands folded on top of the folder.

“Do you know why I’ve brought you two here?” he aksed calmly.

Leela answered. “We were late for class.”

“Less than three times, I might add,” Tim said quickly.

“That’s enough insolence out of you!” Skinner spat. A vein was throbbing in his temple.

Tim smiled wider. “Ten bucks says Leela thinks you’re cute when you’re mad.”


Tim shut up.

Skinner composed himself and turned toward Leela. “You are incorrect, Miss Turanga. I have brought you here because I wanted you to be the first to learn about the new update in school rules.”

“Update?” Leela aksed.

“Is there an echo in here?” Skinner aksed sarcastically. “Yes, and update. I was saving it for next year, but it has been brought to my attention, by you two, that in order to maintain a proper learning atmosphere that can be considered even remotely acceptable, a more stringent set of rules will be required.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means, Miss Turanga, that you two will receive detention, not for being late to class three times, but for being late to class at all!”

Leela was speechless. So was Tim (which was saying something, since almost nothing could silence him). Detention for one tardy?! Sure, it didn’t seem that hard, but it would happen more frequently. There was no denying it. Leela heard about people being late all the time. If they were caught, there wouldn’t be a clean record in any of the student files!

Tim must have read her thoughts. “Good luck catching everyone, then.” He said.

Skinner grinned. “Oh, I won’t need it, Mr. Dawson. I’ll have every teacher in the school keeping record of every tardy, and delivering them directly to me!”

Leela’s jaw dropped. They were done for now. Attendances were normally delivered to the Vice Principal, and they were mainly ignored. Only those who were caught in person outside class were given detention. Now there was no way out. Daydreamers and slow runners everywhere would suffer from this new rule. Everyone.

Teresa was not happy when Leela returned to her dorm. In fact she was livid. News of her encounter with Skinner and the new rule had traveled throughout the school from person to person between classes and through study halls, and by lunchtime, everyone was devastated by the danger they were in. Tim and Leela were not happy campers.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?!” Teresa hissed at Leela. “There isn’t a student in this school who hasn’t been late at least once. Now they’ll be treated like they’re skipping! No one is safe anymore!”

“It wasn’t my fault!” Leela yelled back. “I ran into someone. And Skinner would have done this to us next year, anyway.”

“It doesn’t matter what he was gonna do. The problem is that because of you, everyone else is screwed! Don’t you understand that?”

Leela pushed her out of the way and climbed up on top of her bed and lay down.

Teresa persisted. “Fine. Just lay there and feel sorry for yourself. It’s the least you deserve after what you’ve done.”

Teresa left the room to go to dinner. Leela just lay there and stared up at the ceiling. She was fuming at Tim for ruining the school and turning everyone against her. What was worse, she had to spend two hours in the library with Tim tomorrow. Saturday was supposed to be her day to relax. Now she had detention. She rolled over and tried to sleep.

Leela woke up to a bright and sunny Saturday with clear blue skies. For her it might as well have been raining elephants and weasels, or any other combination of animals. She was not looking forward to her detention.

At noon, she headed over to the library, where she was to sit perfectly straight and do nothing for two straight hours. As she passed through the concrete courtyard, she looked past the stone fountain, where several people were flipping her off, to the door on the other side of the courtyard. It was the only door on campus that didn’t slide open. It was made of wood, and had a knob and hinges. It was the door that led to The Metal Keg, the school lounge. It was a bar in the college days, but all alcoholic beverages had been removed, at least as far as the teachers knew. Leela stayed out of there at all costs. Every time she went in there, the entire room fell silent. She continued onward.

When she reached the library, and headed to the back room where detention was held, Leela realized that many other students were already there. Apart from Tim and herself, there were at least ten other kids. Tim was talking to a skinny boy with reddish hair and a straight nose. As soon as everyone saw her, they all started jeering at her. Leela heard several names she was not accustomed to hearing, and some that she heard all the time. Someone threw a wad of paper at her and hit her in the eye. She grimaced and tried to cover her ears as she sat down.

Tim stood up and addressed everyone. “Hey, hey, hey!” he shouted. “Enough of that!”

Leela was in shock. Was Tim actually defending her?

“I know you’re pissed that she ruined your lives, but try to be reasonable.” He continued.

Leela hated him even more.

“This isn’t just her fault. I was responsible for Skinner’s tantrum, too. This was bound to happen at some point.”

For some reason, everyone decided to listen to him. Those who had stood up sat down and returned to their conversations. Leela sat down across from Tim.

“Thank you,” she said. Her surprise showed in her voice. “No one’s ever done that for me before.” She was actually smiling.

“Don’t mention it.” Tim said with a small smile.

“But really, I--”

“No, really. Don’t mention it. If it got around that I helped you, my rep would be totally shattered.”

Leela frowned.

Tim turned to the red-haired boy. “Turanga, this is my friend Sean Mordo. Sean, this is Turanga.”

Sean shook Leela’s hand with a grip that seemed to crush her bones. “The cranky student, huh? I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Leela gripped the table hard, her nails digging into the wood.

“Pretty bad what skinner’s doin’, huh?” said Tim, desperately trying to change the subject.

Leela rolled her eye. As if that hadn’t already been covered by every student within the past 24 hours?

“What do you think’s gonna happen next?”

Sean scratched his head. “After the heat dies down, I guess everyone’ll just have to get used to getting to class on time.”

“But that’s impossible,” said Leela. “Our schedules demand so much traveling, and the buildings are like, a million miles apart. It’s a long way to go for four minutes between classes.”

“True,” Sean replied, “but we’ll have to adjust, nevertheless.”

“Don’t be so sure,” said a mysterious voice from the door.

The threesome looked up at the door to see a small boy with silvery-blonde hair standing in the doorframe, his head barely reaching halfway up the door. He was a freshman.

“What do you mean?” aksed Leela.

“You’ve all seen just how cruel and bitter a man Principal Skinner is, haven’t you?” the boy aksed. His voice was toneless and empty, as if there were no emotions behind his speech.

Leela and the others nodded.

“As long as he’s motivated by his own anger, he’ll continue to take action against the student body. When students fail to adjust to his new rules, he’ll make more and more and more, in an attempt to make the others work. He’ll never stop.”

Leela was aghast. Not only did the short boy make sense, but he had said all of that so painlessly, as if he didn’t care that he was going to suffer.

Tim laughed. “That’s impossible. Won’t he realize it’s his fault things are so bad?”


Tim stopped laughing. “But what about the teachers? They must have some sense?”

“Skinner’s got them all in the palm of his greedy little hands.”

Sean pushed the hair out of his eyes. “So what do we do?”

The three of them stared at the boy in the door, the other kids oblivious to what was happening.

The boy smiled. “Nothing.”

Leela walked over to the dining hall with Tim and Sean, which was an unusual change in her routine. Usually she walked everywhere alone. She pulled her red jacket tighter around her to keep out the declining November temperature.

“Do you think it’s true?” she inquired to the boys, “Is it possible that things can get worse?”

Tim was staring somberly at the ground. “If the teachers are as clueless as that kid said they are, then I don’t see how it couldn’t.”

Sean nodded. “And to think it was all started because you screwed up.” he said, looking up at them.

Leela rounded on him furiously. “I did not cause that accident!” she shouted at him. Several people turned to stare. “It’s his fault that I was late in the first place!”

Tim jumped in front of Sean and faced Leela. He looked mad. “What are you getting at, Turanga? Are you suggesting that I’m the cause of all of this?”

Leela grabbed his shirt. “If you hadn’t drilled me so hard the other night I would have woken up earlier!”

Tim grabbed her thumb and twisted her hand off. Leela let go immediately from the pain. “That is the weakest argument I’ve ever heard out of you!” he barked. “If you had tried harder you would have gotten as far as I have and we wouldn’t even have to worry about this!”

Leela threw his hand off her. “I can’t help it if I couldn’t go fast enough! He just kept holding me back! You only got far because you’re a guy!”

“DON’T EVER SAY THAT!” Tim bellowed. Leela was silenced. “I can’t help it if I get a leg up! I just do the best I can! If you’ve got a problem with that, teach yourself!”

Tim stormed away, with Sean right in tow. Leela fumed on the spot. She’d lost another argument to him! She looked around. Everyone was laughing. What was so funny? She remembered what she and Tim had been saying. She gasped and ran back to her dorm, blushing furiously.

Leela discovered the outcome of the blonde boy’s prediction the following Thursday. Just before leaving for Kung Fu class, she noticed a crowd gathered around the bulletin board in the lobby of her dorm building. She shoved her way through the crowd up to the notice that had been put up.

The piece of paper said: “Due to the unacceptable number of tardies in the past week, it is the Principal’s decision to decrease the time between classes from four minutes to two minutes. This will ensure more motivation to get to class and decrease the number of tardies.

Leela’s jaw dropped. Two minutes? People were barely able to make it to class as it was! Entire detention rooms were filling up quickly. Now they had less time to get to class? It just wasn’t possible.

Leela didn’t speak to Tim during Kung Fu class that day. She was still mad about their argument the previous week. That Saturday, in detention, she was careful to sit down a great distance from him. There were several people sitting around him, and he seemed to be telling them a dramatic story that required him to swing his arms around a lot. She glared every time he made a huge show of himself. She hated him for that.

The very next Monday, Leela heard in civics class why Tim had been given detention. He had talked back to one of his teachers again. That explained why there had been a new rule posted that morning: “Any sarcasm or rudeness towards teachers will earn a student immediate detention.” Leela cheered for that rule. Tim would be in detention every single day!

However, Leela’s love of the new rule came to a screeching halt on Friday, two weeks after her accident with Tim. She was sitting in third period biology. Surprisingly, she had made it in time, although the classroom was half empty. That half would be in detention later.

Mrs. Hall was speaking at the front of the classroom, her gray hair pulled back in a bun. Leela was staring out the window, lost in thoughts of her last Kung Fu class. It had been a very satisfying class for her, because she had finally managed to pull off her panther technique without any problems. Tim hadn’t found a single thing to say about it. But then, Tim hadn’t come near her at all since their argument. He had been right, of course, but she just couldn’t bring herself to face him. She felt like a coward. Maybe after class she should-

“Miss Turanga?!

Leela snapped out of her thoughts. Mrs. Hall was glaring at her over her round glasses. Leela groped around for words, but nothing formed in her mouth. She was totally lost.

Leela felt a nudge at her elbow. Tim, who was sitting next to her, had drawn a number on his notebook.

Leela looked up. “Four?”

Mrs. Hall glared at Leela, then at Tim. “There seems to be something going on here, you two. Care to tell me what it is?”

“All I did was answer the question.” Leela said innocently.

“Yeah,” said Tim. “There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?”

“You’re on thin ice, you two.” Mrs. Hall said. “I’ll aks once more: what did you just do?”

“You didn’t aks that before.” Leela said.

“DETENTION!!” Mrs. Hall hollered. “And get out of my classroom. I will not tolerate any wiseasses in my class.”

Leela gathered her things and stormed out. She didn’t really care. Detention was something she just couldn’t avoid anymore.

As Leela stalked down the hall, she heard the sleazy voice of Principal Skinner behind her. “Now, young lady—“

Leela wheeled around. “Look Skinner, I’m not in the mood for any of your—“

Leela looked around. Skinner wasn’t there. His voice had come from one of the empty classrooms down the hall.

“Why don’t you tell me what you’re doing in here?” he continued.

Leela started to leave. She didn’t need to get into trouble with Skinner if she could avoid it.

“I just came to get my pencil case,” said Teresa’s voice fearfully. Leela stopped. She turned around and ran to the door where the voices were coming from and stopped just beside it. She had to hear this. Finally, Teresa would get what she deserved, directly from Skinner’s mouth.

“Somehow, I don’t believe you.” Skinner said mockingly. “I think that you came in here to find your weed stash.”

“No, I swear I—“

“Or perhaps you’re waiting for your boyfriend to come feel you up! Is that it?!” Skinner was starting to sound extremely angry. “Answer me this instant, or I’ll—“

“You won’t do anything!” Leela said as she entered the room.

“Miss Turanga! Speaking back, are we? You will—“

“I don’t care what you do anymore, Skinner. Enough is enough. You’ve taken things too far with all these absurd rules. Don’t you realize you’re just making things worse for everyone? If it weren’t for—“

“ENOUGH!” Skinner shouted at her. He had veins throbbing everywhere. He was hunched over, and he had strands of hair in his fists from when he’d torn them out of his skull. He composed himself and spoke directly to Leela.

“You will go to my office this instant. I will be there shortly.”

Leela hurried out of the classroom as Teresa stared at her, her eyes as wide as dinner plates. Leela ran all the way to Skinner’s office like she was late for class again. She couldn’t believe herself. She had actually talked back to Principal Skinner, and without fear or hesitation. She practically yelled at him! And for what? To defend someone who constantly treated her like a slug? Teresa didn’t deserve her help. So why did she do it?

Skinner burst into his office five minutes after Leela situated herself in one of the chairs in front of his desk. Without looking at her, he pulled a manila folder out of his filing cabinet and sat across from her at his desk. He looked especially pleased. Leela knew all too well that that could only mean more bad news.

“I’d like to thank you, Miss Turanga,” Skinner said politely.

Leela took a while to respond. “Sorry? What do you mean?

“I mean that you have just done me a great service, Miss Turanga.”

“What kind of service?”

“I’m going to be honest with you. I’ve never truly understood you teenage types. You all seem so ridiculous to me, what with your fancy high-tech gadgets, like smell-o-vision, and whatnot. I honestly couldn’t understand why I went into a teaching profession in the first place.”

Leela was shocked at how calm Skinner was as he said this, and at how straight and peaceful his expression was.

“It wasn’t until you and your stupid little friends came along that I finally understood. I became a school principal so that I could make a difference in your lives. I wanted to turn the dribbling, illiterate youths of today into confident, proud young adults. And that is exactly what I intend to do.”

Skinner opened the folder, signed his name at the bottom of the topmost piece of paper, and held it up for Leela to see. “Do you know what this is, Miss Turanga?”

Leela shrugged.

“This is an order form, demanding the enforcement of a new rule.”

“Another one?” Leela complained.

“Yes, Miss Turanga. Another one.” Skinner was grinning, revealing every single one of his long white teeth. He rolled up the paper and placed it inside a red plastic canister, then pushed it into the glass tube behind him. The canister was sucked up the tube toward the Central Bureaucracy in Manhattan.

“That rule, Miss Turanga, will require all students to wear uniforms.”

“WHAT?!?!” Leela realized that she had stood up. Her chair was lying lopsided on the floor behind her. She was devastated. If the students found out she was responsible for this, they’d kill her!

Skinner turned around to look at her. His eyes were full of hatred. “Get out of my office. Now! You will serve double detention tomorrow with your friends.”

Leela backed out of the room, stumbling over the fallen chair as she went. She felt numb all over. The uniforms didn’t bother her that much, she thought as she walked slowly down the hall. After all, she wore a white tank top and black form-fitting pants almost every day. But the entire student body practically lived off the freedom to wear whatever they wanted! They reveled in the freedom of expression through attire. It was one of the things that were bragged about in the school Mission Statement! What would happen when they found out?

Leela came to her dorm to find Teresa sitting at the desk with her hands clasped in her lap, a few tears still clinging to her cheeks. She had been waiting for Leela. As soon as Leela closed the door Teresa stood up and embraced her! Leela’s heart skipped a beat. Was this really happening? Was Teresa Linda Zinthrop actually hugging her?

Teresa pulled away from Leela and smiled as she wiped her eyes.

“Thanks for standing up for me back there.” She said. “Skinner had me so scared, I don’t think I ever could have spoken to him that way. You were really brave.”

Leela actually smiled. “Don’t mention it. I just went a little crazy for a while. I shouldn’t have done it.”

“No, it’s good that you did it. He deserved it, especially after the way he’s been treating us.” The whimper had gone from Teresa’s voice. “He gave me double detention, though. What about you?”

“I got the same.” Leela said passively. She didn’t want to mention the uniform thing now. Not when she had just managed to get along with Teresa.

“Guess we’ll be in it together, then.” Teresa looked positively cheerful at the prospect.

Leela and Teresa talked for what felt like hours. Only when they looked at the clock did they realize that it had, in fact, been hours. Teresa jumped into bed at once, but before turning off the light, she said: “Sorry I called you a freak, Leela.”

Leela opened her diary to a blank page, but felt too tired to write a full entry. She merely scribbled: Dear Diary, I think I have a friend.

Leela went to bed happy.

Rain was pelting against the windows. No matter how cold it got, even as November gave way to December, it just couldn’t seem to snow. Otherwise, detention was the same as it always was. The supervising teacher had been knocked unconscious by a spiked drink, and students were talking freely. The entire back room of the library was full now, and people had begun to use tables in the main library. The blond-haired freshman was sitting alone at one of the tables. Teresa and Sean sat together at another, watching Leela speaking to Tim at the back of the room.

Teresa looked over at Sean. He was shaking his head.

“You thinking it, too?” she aksed.

Sean nodded. “What’s taking them so long?”

Tim and Leela both walked back over to the table, both wearing satisfied smiles.

“Have we kissed and made up?” Sean aksed innocently.

“Well, one of the above,” Tim said.

“I’m just glad things are back to normal,” Teresa said.

“Since when is it normal for you to be nice to Leela?” Sean aksed suspiciously.

“Ha, ha.”

Leela sat up straighter in her chair. “Actually, guys,” she said. “Things might not be so normal anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“Teresa, you know when Skinner took me to his office yesterday?”

Teresa nodded.

“What did he do?!” Tim demanded.

“Nothing bad,” Leela said, pulling on a strand of her pony tail. “Unless you count new uniforms bad.”


Tim had stood up in exactly the way Leela had yesterday, his chair clattering to the floor behind him. The entire room stared at him. Tim grinned sheepishly at them and sat back down. People gradually returned to their conversations.

“Are you sure it’s uniforms?” Tim whispered.

“Yes. He showed me the form himself. I saw him mail it with my own eye.”

Tim stroked his chin thoughtfully. He suddenly looked very serious.

“What are you thinking about, Tim?” Sean and Teresa aksed together.

Tim took a moment to answer. “We need a plan. And I think I’ve got one.” He stood up on the desk.


The room was silenced. Tim looked each person in the eye. He looked more serious and angered than ever.

“In the past few weeks, we have been put through too many toils to count!”

The room was silent, although several students nodded in agreement.

“The new rules that have been put forth in this school are nothing short of amoral, manipulative, and just plain unfair!”

Tim got cheers.

“I do not deny that in every community, rules must be put in place to maintain order, but these rules have come far too close to taking away our civil rights! It won’t be long before we’re denied our freedoms of speech and assembly!”

“What are you talking about?” aksed a student.

Tim paused for effect. “It has come to my attention recently that we will be given uniforms.”

The room was silent.

“Uniforms may be no big deal to some, but I know that to many of us it means everything! Look at me! You think I don’t get pulled into a dark alley by dressing up in a monkey suit?”

Leela had to agree that Tim’s ragged black jeans and thick denim jacket demanded respect from all who beheld him. The other students seemed to think so too, because they were cheering Tim on.

“It’s time to fight back!” Tim shouted.

The room fell silent again.


Tim smiled at the student who had spoken. “I’m glad you aksed. If Skinner follows standard procedure, we will have to give our measurements to our first period teachers on Monday, and the uniforms will be in by the end of the day. The following day, do not go to class.”


“When confronted with so much defiance, Skinner will completely lose it.”

“How will that help us?” aksed Sean.

“It’s quite simple, actually,” said the blond freshman.

Everyone turned in his direction. He was standing in the corner of the room, a turtleneck sweater pulled all the way up to his chin. His face was as blank as ever.

“When your enemy is angered,” the boy continued, “he becomes weaker. He will leave gaps in his strategy and his guard will be lowered as he cowers behind a cloud of rage. It would be the perfect time to deliver the final blow that would destroy him once and for all.”

The boy was smiling. The sight gave Leela the shivers.

“Who the hell are you?” aksed someone in the room.

“My name is Ivan.” Even his name sounded creepy.

“So, we make Skinner mad.” Teresa said. “Then what?”

Tim smiled again. “That’s when we deliver the final blow.” He said.

“What does that mean?” Leela aksed. “What do we do?”

“You guys just worry about the uniforms. Leave all the rest to me.”

Someone from Tim’s audience laughed. “Are you saying that we’ve got to take Skinner head on while you’re off doing God-knows-what?”

Several students seemed to agree.

Tim stood straighter. “People,” he said somberly. “This is the time for us to fight back. If we’re going to bring Skinner down and earn back our freedom, we have to trust each other. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my high school life in a suit jacket.”

People muttered in agreement.

“If we’re going to fight, it’s all or nothing. We’re all in this as one body. We must prove to Skinner that we are not going to suffer for his amusement! His sanity relies on the mere fact that he is in control! When that security of his is breached, he will fall down like a house of cards! It’s now or never! Who’s with me?!”

The entire room cheered loudly. Leela joined in the commotion, too. She had never seen Tim in such a position before. He had just motivated an entire room of high school kids to fight under one cause. She felt an emotion inside her she hadn’t expected to find: respect. Things were starting to move forward very rapidly.

That Monday, everything proceeded exactly as Tim had predicted. In first period everyone was given a slip of paper on which to write down their measurements. The records were added to the students’ files, and that evening, Leela and Teresa received their uniforms at their door. They weren’t too terribly bad. They each consisted of a white blouse, a navy suit jacket, and a plaid skirt that reached down to the knees. With a pair of black high heels, Leela thought she actually looked pretty good in the mirror. Or she would have if it weren’t for the eye.

The instant Teresa put hers on, she rolled the skirt up at least three times. “I guess it’s not so bad.” She remarked as she swiveled the skirt around her waist. “What do you think?”

“I think we just got uniforms.”

“Oh. Right.”

Teresa searched for other ways to adjust her uniform to be sexy. “Can I aks you something?”

“You just did.”

“How about another one?”


“Our school has no dress code. Yet every day you wear the same black pants and heavy boots and stuff. Why?”

Leela paused. “I don’t really know.” She said. “I guess I’ve just…never really needed to think about it.”

“About what?”

Leela turned the desk chair around so it was facing Teresa. “Girls are able to do so many things with their appearances. There are tops, dresses, pants, skirts, makeup, hairdos, everything. But being a cyclops, I’ve never been able to know what to do with myself. Everything I’ve seen is designed for two-eyed girls. When I found a look that worked, I just kept it.”

Teresa let her jaw drop. “You can’t say that!” She sounded like she was enjoying this a bit. “Any girl can put on makeup.”

“But how?”

Teresa smiled and pulled Leela into the bathroom by the wrist. “Just you wait. I’m going to turn you into the toast of Maddick’s High.”

“Thanks, but I prefer english muffins.”

Teresa spent an hour teaching Leela how to use makeup. She explained all the rules, and how to use every single tool. Leela was amazed at how much she had to know just to make herself look good. She wondered if it was even worth it. But whenever she did, Teresa would just say: “Beauty is pain.”

Eventually, Leela got the hang of things. She was trying on a lilac eyeliner when Teresa aksed her another question.

“Bet Tim will love this, huh?”

Leela put down her brush. “What?”

“Tim. Don’t you think he’ll like it?”

Leela looked as clueless as she felt. “I don’t know. Maybe. I’ve never really seen a guy’s reaction to makeup before.” She picked up a tube of lipstick. She held it in front of her mouth and the beam darkened her lips.

Teresa frowned. She didn’t care how close she got to a wrinkle, she had to keep going. “That was pretty cool what he did in detention, wasn’t it?”

Leela didn’t hesitate on her answer. “Totally. I couldn’t believe how easily he rallied those kids. They were like putty in his hands.”

“You spread the word of our mission to everyone you know, right?”

“Yep. Everyone in school will know what to do by now.”

Teresa pulled a brush through her hair thoughtfully. “I wonder what Tim’s been doing, though?”

“I dunno. I haven’t seen him since he ran out of detention that day.”

“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see him.”

“I hope he’s okay.”

Teresa didn’t speak. She just grinned as she reached for a bottle of perfume.

Snow had fallen during the night. Winter was finally upon them. It hadn’t been a complete hellstorm, but the sidewalks were wet and there was a thin layer of white on the grass. The cold had finally taken its toll on the weather.

Not a single soul appeared at breakfast. All classrooms were empty during first period. And second period, as well. Everyone stayed right in their dorms, as they had been instructed to. Skinner could be seen by all going around between buildings. He was running like a madman, his greasy hair frizzy and matted around his head. His eyes were bulging. Every so often he’d shout into the air for the students to show themselves, issuing several swearwords even Leela hadn’t heard. And then he just disappeared.

It was about halfway through third period that Skinner’s voice was heard throughout every building. “All students will report to the auditorium at once.”

Seconds later, another voice was heard. It was Tim’s! “It’s okay, everyone. Go ahead.

Leela was extremely relieved to hear his voice. His absence had put not just her on edge, but Teresa and Sean, and several others as well. She had never realized how popular Tim was.

She and Teresa exited their dorm building with all the other students and headed for the auditorium. Everyone was wearing casual attire.

In the auditorium, everyone sat down with little commotion. They were all wondering what was going on. Why had Tim made them do this? If they were supposed to be fighting Skinner, why obey him? Leela looked around for a sign of Tim, but she couldn’t see him. Teresa and Sean, who were on either side of her, saw nothing either.

Skinner came up on stage. He looked exhausted, but calm. Leela could tell from the way he was smiling as he stepped up to his podium that he had something sinister in mind.

Skinner’s voice was like acid on everyone’s ears as he spoke into the microphone. “Well, children, I hope you’ve had a relaxing morning.”

Nobody spoke. Leela could have heard a pin drop, which she did. She looked over at Teresa, who was bending over to pick up her hairpin from the floor.

“I must say, you all look very presentable.” Skinner kept smiling. What was he leading up to?

“Surely, there is nothing quite like deliberately neglecting to attend class and to toss away one’s uniform.” Leela held her breath.

Skinner’s smile finally faded. “Never, in my entire career, have I ever been so disgusted with your behavior! Your deliberate defiance of my authority has gone too far! I tried to be lenient with you, and simply let the rules give their just punishments, but apparently that wasn’t enough. I simply can’t understand it. It’s as if I’m trying to straighten out a monkey!”

Someone in the audience coughed.

Skinner breathed. “But I will not punish you.”

There was an outbreak of curious buzzing.


The auditorium fell silent, and Leela heard Teresa drop her pin again.

“This was no ordinary defiant act. Every single one of you worked in unison. You were organized by one individual. And I promise you, when I’m through with that disgusting, squabbling little spit, he will wish he’d never been born. Tim Dawson!”

The lights died and a holographic screen appeared in front of the curtain. The blue glow illuminated the students’ faces like moonlight.

Tim’s voice echoed throughout the auditorium. “Greetings,” he said. “And welcome to the day where your eyes will finally be opened. Mister Silas Skinner is not the principal he appears to be.” Two pictures of a gaunt boy with greasy hair appeared on the screen. “As a child, Silas, or as he was named then, Joshua Lazarus, was known for torturing small animals and playing with matches. As a teenager, he was charged with grand theft auto and shoplifting. In court he displayed an innate love of manipulation and torture.” A picture of a wrecked hovercar appeared. “After destroying his parents’ car by crashing it into their home, resulting in their deaths, he turned to a life of crime. He has served multiple sentences for robbery and fraud.”

The screen disappeared, the lights flared back on, and Tim appeared out of nowhere on stage.

“When Joshua broke out of jail, he needed to go into hiding. He forged a new identity and became the man who has been constricting his grip over us!” Tim projected. “Even at age seventy he couldn’t resist watching us suffer, and that was what gave away his identity.” Tim turned toward Skinner. “Your reign of terror over us is ended!”

The doors whooshed open and two cops came in.

Skinner was arrested on the spot. A month later he was given a life sentence on Riker’s Island. Maddick’s High got a new principal named Dr. Brunswick. Every rule Skinner had made immediately became null and void.

As Skinner was led out of the auditorium, the students lifted Tim up onto their shoulders, cheering his praise. Leela and the others jumped and screamed with everyone else. They were free at last.

Leela walked with Tim, Teresa and Sean toward the dining hall for lunch. The sun was high, and the snow had all melted, but Leela could still see her breath rising in front of her face. The grounds were unlike anything they had ever been before. People were jumping and cheering, and doing cartwheels in the streets, and someone had actually started breakdancing on top of a hovercar. There was still a handful following Tim, congratulating him and reminding him of how great he was. Never before had the colors of their clothes looked so vibrant. The ominous prospect of uniforms had made her realize just how great it was that she was still wearing a white tank top.

Leela saw that she had stopped to watch the students, and ran to catch up with the others.

“How in God’s name did you do all that?” Sean was saying.

“It was no big deal,” Tim said. “I just wired everything from the control panel backstage. By the way, how did my voice sound? I was trying to sound like those announcers in movie previews.”

Teresa shook her head. “I couldn’t tell.”

“But that’s not what I meant,” Sean complained as they approached the mess hall doors. “How did you get so much dirt on Skinner?”

“I’ll tell you after we get our food,” Tim said, rubbing his stomach.

He turned towards the door.

“Tim?” Leela called.

Tim stopped and looked around at her.

“I just think that what you did back there was really great. It must have taken a lot of courage for you to go up against a criminal to help us.”

For a moment, the two of them just stood there, smiling.

Leela looked straight into Tim’s eyes. They looked so deep and thoughtful.

“Not really,” Tim said. “I was so nervous, my hands were shaking.”

He smiled a bit wider and then hurried inside. Cheers erupted as he entered. Teresa and Sean followed, sharing mischievous smiles.

Leela stood there for a moment. She felt a great amount of admiration towards Tim for doing something so huge so effortlessly, and was happy that things were back to normal. But why had she felt butterflies in her stomach when she’d spoken to him?

Leela scanned the tables inside the cafeteria, looking fervently for Tim. She saw him sitting with the others at the other side of the room. She hurried over with her tray and quickly grabbed a seat next to him.

Sean put down his fork. “Okay. We’re all here. How did you dig up Skinner’s past?”

Tim wiped his hands on his napkin and swallowed a bite of hamburger. “It wasn’t really that hard. I had long suspected Skinner of having some kind of secret. So I just went poking around in his office. I thought it was kind of funny that he left a file telling me everything right there in his cabinet.”

The other three looked thoroughly amazed.

“Is that really it?” Teresa aksed, not noticing that the spaghetti had fallen from her fork.

“Yep. Guess he just wanted a reminder of the good old days.”

Sean looked disappointed. “So you just got lucky?”

“Pretty much.”

Leela gazed at him thoughtfully. “Just one last thing.”


“How did you learn about his childhood?”

Tim smiled. “I tracked down one of his relatives. It was mentioned in his record that he had broken his cousin’s arm when he was seven. His cousin was the only one remaining who knew him back in the day, which was a Wednesday, by the way.”

Sean and Teresa laughed.

“You found him at the Head Museum, didn’t you?”

Tim looked impressed. “How did you know that, Leela?”

“You quoted Dane Cook. He’s somewhere in there.”

“Not bad.”

Teresa just stared at Tim. Tim noticed this and waved his hand in front of her face.

Teresa took a minute to speak. “What are you, a cop?”

“Someday I will be.” Tim said with pride.

They all returned to their food, although Leela had reason to believe that Teresa had been staring, not because of Tim’s brilliance, but because he had used her first name.

Author’s Note: That’s it for part one! Hope you liked it. Part two will be up very soon. You’ll enjoy watching as Tim and Leela come to a conclusion about their feelings as they take on some extremely old, and future friends.