Married With Children, part 8
Employees Lounge, July 9, 3004, 0745 (7:45 a.m.)
Leela entered the
room, followed closely by Fry and Bender. For their entire commute,
Bender had wearied Leela with his pleas for her to intercede with
Rebecca on his behalf. As soon as they had exited from the tube,
Leela had said, “Bender, so help me, if you don’t clam up
I will never say a word to her.” Pivoting quickly, Leela had
headed for the Planet Express building without a further word.
Sarah was the only
person in the lounge when they entered. She flashed a cheery smile
that was mirrored in her green eyes, “G’day Leela!”
Sarah nodded, “You too, Fry … Bender.”
Leela responded, “Morning, Sarah. Where’s
“They’ll be here shortly. You’re
here a bit early yourself. Come to look the ship over?”
Leela nodded, “I’d like to run a
systems check before the Professor sends us off on some lunatic
Sarah grinned, “Cubert and Amy are already on board, warming up
the engines. If you don’t mind, I’ll give you a hand.”
“I’d be glad for the help.”
Leela turned to Fry, “Fry, could you please take Bender and
check the cargo bay, hover dollies, and the gun turret?”
Bender was ready to utter his usual protests at
having to do any work, but he thought of Rebecca and said, “Glad
This caused Sarah
to give Bender a startled look, “Has he gone crazy as a dunny
rat?” she whispered to Leela.
Leela smiled, “No, he’s in love.”
The look of confusion on Sarah’s face caused
Leela to laugh, “I’ll tell you while we’re doing
the systems check.”
Leela paused to
give Fry a quick kiss. Fry whispered, “I love you” into
her ear as he gave her a quick hug in return. Then she and Sarah
headed up the landing gear ladder at a slow walk to the Bridge.
“So how has everyone been?”
Leela. We hauled two loads of turbidium last week. It all went as
smooth as silk.”
“Any social news?”
“I expect you know that your cousin…Judy
isn’t it…is going to marry that big Peeler Lip?”
“Seems you and Fry have started a trend. Lip
and Judy have already decided to adopt one of the ankle biters from
Leela shook her
head, “No, I didn’t know. Which child are they going to
“I believe they are going to adopt that
porky little fellow who was your ring bearer, Albert.”
Sarah looked thoughtful, “Cosmic F and Chenxi Wong are quite
an item. It seems they do the nasty on a nightly basis.”
oath!” She held her right hand up, “They aren’t the
only ones to have paired up. Brad and Katrina are thick as thieves,
although they haven’t set up housekeeping just yet. She does
bring him to work most days, but I haven’t heard them speak of
They were almost on the Bridge. Leela stopped and
looked Sarah in the face, “How are you and James coming along?”
Sarah shrugged in a vain attempt to feign
indifference, “We’ve not seen much of each other this
past week. I’ve been in the back of Bourke and he’s been
busy with all of this terrorist business.”
Leela nodded, “You want to come over for a
drink this evening?”
Sarah smiled, “No worries!”
“Do you want me to call and invite James?”
“I’ll call him. I expect he’ll
come if he can.”
Leela patted Sarah on the shoulder, “Let’s
check the old girl out, shall we?”
They went onto the bridge, where Amy and Cubert
were huddled by the engineering console. They didn’t even look
up, although Amy did offer a quick, “Hey Leela.”
have thought that Amy and Cubert would ever get along?” Leela
mused. But their shared experiences when they were flung into the
past had created a bond between the two. Their relationship had
become that of an elder sister and younger brother.
“Cubert,” Amy said, “Have we got
the intermix ratio right yet?”
“Check,” Cubert replied, “Intermix
ratio is nominal.”
Amy patted Cubert on the back, “Good job.”
She straightened up and announced cheerfully, “Planet Express
Ship Pathfinder is ready for systems check.”
Leela nodded in acknowledgement as she sat down in
the pilot’s chair, “OK. Let’s run a full system
For the next thirty minutes Leela, aided by Sarah,
Amy, and Cubert checked every system on board. They all passed with
Village, New-New York, July 9, 3004, 0900 (9:00 a.m.)
J.B. strode purposefully down the quiet streets of
the Mutant Village. In his right hand was his well-worn walking
stick. In his left was a bunch of purple lilacs. As usual, he wore
a dark suit with a bow tie. His abundant purple tinged white hair
was carefully groomed in anticipation of his reunion with Flora
MacDonald, his long lost love.
The few mutants who were out greeted him,
greetings he returned with his usual courtesy. News traveled fast in
the Mutant community. Everyone knew why J.B. was there, which had
something to do with the smiles that accompanied the greetings.
After a short walk, J.B. drew up in front of a
small cottage style house on the outskirts of the village. Like all
mutant homes, it was in a tumbledown state. The white siding was
loose in places. The blue paint that trimmed the shutters, windows,
and front door was peeling. Still, to J.B. it had a certain genteel
air about it.
He reached into the breast pocket of his jacket,
pulling forth a note. He checked the address. “This is it,
boy,” he said quietly to himself.
the note and placing it in his pocket, J.B. ascended the steps onto
the small front porch. He stood for a second, his palms growing
moist as summoned the courage to knock on the door. “This is
ridiculous,” he muttered, “I’ve been dreaming of
this moment for so many years.”
Like a swimmer taking a plunge into frigid water,
J.B. raised his fist and rapped on the door. From the other side of
the door a voice issued – a voice that he had yearned for so
many years to hear, “Who is it?”
For a moment, J.B.
lost the power of speech. His tongue felt as though it had swollen
to twice it’s normal size. Finally, he managed to croak, “It’s
“Do come in.”
J.B. opened the door, stepping in a darkened room.
It took a moment for his eyes to adjust, “Flora?”
“Yes, J.B. It is I.”
His heart began to beat wildly. Peering through
the gloom, he could just make out a figure seated in an armchair
across the room.
“Why the darkness?”
aged.” Her voice sounded tired, “I’m not the young
girl you knew in Charleston.”
J.B. stepped closer to where Flora sat, “It
doesn’t matter. I’ve seen family photographs.” He
paused, “I think you are as beautiful as ever.”
Flora laughed briefly as she stood up. She
reached over, placing her hand on the switch of the table lamp, “Are
you sure you want to see me in the light?”
“Yes, more than I want to breathe.”
The lamp flickered on. Before his eyes stood the
woman who had been the object of his thoughts and dreams for so many
years. To J.B.’s eye’s, she hadn’t changed a bit.
“You are so beautiful.”
Flora smiled, “I hadn’t heard that
your eyes had failed you, J.B.” She stepped closer, “But
your memory is still good, I see you brought lilacs…my
favorite. You are as sweet as ever.”
Before he knew what he was doing, J.B. stepped
forward and wrapped Flora in his arms. The lilacs landed on the lamp
stand. Their lips met, lips burning with decades of pent up
emotion. After a long and supremely romantic kiss, they pulled
apart, slightly breathless.
Flora broke the silence, “You always were
J.B. merely nodded in reply. He didn’t
trust his voice. Instead he kissed her again, more sweetly this
They stood there embracing for several minutes
before J.B. spoke, “Flora…will you marry me?”
“Flora, I know this is terribly brash, but I
don’t want to spend any longer without you. Anyone who doesn’t
want you in the family can go to robot hell.”
“My, my but we are forceful today,”
she said in a teasing manner.
“Yes I am.” J.B. replied with a
certain satisfaction. He adopted what everyone called his lawyer
voice, “Flora MacDonald…will you marry me?”
There as a short pause, “Yes I will Joseph.
Yes I will.”
Ship, July 9, 3004, 1500 (3:00 p.m.)
Leela lay on the
couch with her eye closed. She and Fry had a fight just after they
made their delivery of frogs legs to Paris 5. It had been a fight
over nothing and she had started it. She had apologized to Fry, but
she could see that his feelings were still hurt.
So she had pretended to have a headache. Fry had
offered to pilot the ship, an offer Leela eagerly accepted.
Opening her eye slightly, Leela could see Fry’s
reflection in a bridge window. His face was a mask of concentration
as he focused on piloting the ship. Leela smiled, knowing that her
exercise in rebuilding Fry’s ego was working.
Before she could reflect on it further, the ship’s
video phone sounded, “Incoming message from J.B. Kershaw.”
She sat up instantly. Fry had already punched the
receiver button, “Go ahead.”
The video screen
flashed. The image of J.B., with Flora beside him filled the screen.
Both were smiling. “Hello, Fry,” J.B. said, “We’d
like to invite Leela and you to our wedding at the Oaks.”
Leela almost leaped from the couch to Fry’s
side. Fry looked surprised, but maintained enough composure to
answer, “Sure, when is the big day?”
Flora smiled, “We’ve picked this
this kind of sudden?” Leela broke in.
J.B laughed heartily, “I’ve been
chasing Flora for a long time. Now that she’s caught me, I
want to make this a permanent thing.” He grinned, “As I
see it, we’ve been marching down the aisle for many years.”
Flora looked at Leela, “Will you be one of
Leela nodded, “Of course.”
“Fry, would you be one of my groomsmen?”
“Then it’s all settled. Flora and I
will send you an email with the rest of the details. Stay well you
Leela smiled at being called lovebirds, “You
The screen went blank. Leela had a sudden thought
about how to complete her apology to Fry.
“Fry, how long is it until we get to Earth?”
He looked at the
navigation console, “Two hours and fifteen minutes.”
seductively Leela asked Fry in a sultry voice, “Do you think
the autopilot could take over for a little while?”
Fry felt his palms
begin to sweat. Popping from the seat like a jack-in-the-box, he
said, “Sure. I’ll just let Amy, Cubert and Bender know
that we’ll be on autopilot of a while…just in case they
need to change speed or something.”
“Great.” Leela began to move slowly
off the bridge. She looked over her shoulder as she passed through
the hatch, “When you’ve gotten done here on the bridge,
meet me in our quarters.”
set the autopilot. Then he notified the rest of the crew, and almost
skipped off the bridge while humming “I’m walking on
100 East 123rd
Street, Apartment 5I, July 9, 3004, 1745 (5:45 p.m.)
The door slid open for Leela as she entered the
apartment just ahead of Fry, “Is anybody home?”
Sally fairly flew from her bedroom calling out
breathlessly, “Mommy! You won’t believe what Miss
Rebecca and I did today! We went for a walk and we saw the zoo and
we ate ice cream and we…”
Leela laughed, “Slow down Sally, you don’t
want to tell everything to me at once.”
Sally smiled, “Sorry Mommy, but Miss Rebecca
is so cool.”
Rebecca’s voice issued from the kitchen,
“I’m glad you think so.” Her head popped into
view, “Dinner will be ready in about ten minutes.”
Fry, who had just entered the apartment, sniffed
the air, “Man that smells good! What is it?”
“Roast beef,” Rebecca replied, “are
you fond of it?”
Fry laughed, “I don’t know if fond
describes it. But…yes…I enjoy it.”
“Then relax for a few moments and I’ll
set the table.”
Leela stepped into the kitchen, “I’ll
help you Rebecca.”
“Please, just relax.”
“I like setting the table. It was one of my
jobs at the Orphanarium.”
“Very well, as you wish.”
do you think of Bender?”
Rebecca paused, “I don’t know. He can
be quite endearing. Then the next moment he is infuriating. He
certainly is persistent.”
Nodding, Leela put her hand on Rebecca’s
arm, “He really has a thing for you. He wept all the way home,
begging me to get you to go out with him.”
Rebecca stood for a moment, thinking. “So
still wants to go on a date?”
Leela’s voice adopted almost a pleading
tone, “He told me he would be on his best behavior.”
Rebecca smiled, “I suppose I’ll have
to give in. But the date has to be in a public place. Also, if he
steps out of line…wham!”
“I’m sure that Bender will agree to
your…shall we say…terms.”
“I’ll wait for his call.”
100 East 123rd
Street, Apartment 5I, July 9, 3004, 2145 (9:45 p.m.)
Sally was in bed.
Rebecca had gone into her closet to recharge, while Leela and Fry sat
on the couch in front of the TV. Only a single lamp was on, as they
were watching an all-night “Scary Door” marathon. Leela
had made some popcorn, which Fry was digging into with gusto.
Leela shook her head, “Fry, are you going to
leave any for me? Or do I need to make another bowl?”
Fry swallowed, and
then looked penitent, “Sorry, I just have a craving for
“Craving? Maybe you’re pregnant,”
Leela offered with a smile spreading across her face.
Fry looked concerned for a moment. Then he
grinned one of his best grins, “Well. I’m sure that if I
am, it’s your baby.”
trying to ignore Fry’s smile. “Darn it!” she
thought, “Why does that smile of his drive me so crazy?”
Fry could tell Leela need a little loosening up.
So, he went into a crouch and began to wiggle his fingers, “Look
who’s coming! It’s the tickle monster.”
Leela hopped up. Fry lunged for her but she sidestepped, giving him
a gentle push into the couch. As Fry fell face-first onto the couch,
he emitted an “Oof!”
sprang up instantly, “There’s no stopping the tickle
Leela eye widened
in mock horror, “Fry, don’t you dare!” Then she
vaulted the armchair and sprang into the bedroom with Fry in hot
Without losing speed, Leela leaped onto the bed –
headed for the sanctuary of the bathroom. Fry lunged and caught her
ankle, causing her to fall face forward onto the mattress. She rolled
onto her back trying to fend Fry off. It was no use!
“Gotcha!” Fry exclaimed, “Here
it comes!” Then he began to tickle her unmercifully.
Leela began to emit muffled shrieks of laughter,
all the while pleading, “Fry…Sally will hear us…please
close the door…Fry the door is open!”
Fry took the bait,
turning to see if the door had closed. It had, but the split second
was enough time for Leela to grab a pillow. “Whump!” she
landed a solid blow on the side of Fry’s head. She thrust her
hips up at the same time which caused Fry to lose his balance and
tumble onto the floor.
On the attack now, Leela began to pummel him with
the pillow, “Take advantage of a helpless woman, will you?”
Working the pillow with amazing speed, Leela had Fry where she
Fry said while flashing his best boyish grin.
“Ooh! You make me crazy!” Leela
growled as she flung the pillow aside. Instead of smothering him
with pillow blows, she began to smother him in kisses.
When she calmed a bit, Leela put her cheek against
Fry’s. Then she breathed huskily into his ear, “Why did
I wait so long to say yes to you?”
“I don’t know.”
Leela stood. She
reached her hand out to Fry, “Take me to bed or lose me
Leela’s hand and sprang to his feet, “No way am I going
to lose you!”
100 East 123rd
Street, Apartment 5I, July 10, 3004, 0300 (3:00 p.m.)
Fry awoke with a start. He wasn’t sure why,
but something – almost like an electric shock – had
caused him to go from blissful sleep to complete wakefulness.
Opening his eyes, he swept the room.
There! In the corner of the room nearest the door
to the living room was a shadowy figure of a man. Fry struggled to
Then a voice issued from the corner, “I’m
terribly sorry to disturb you, but we need to talk.’
Leela’s sleepy voice answered, “Can’t
it wait until morning, Fry?”
Fry slid from the bed. His only thought was to
get whoever, or whatever, the shadowy figure was out of the bedroom
and away from Leela. In his most reassuring voice he said, “Go
back to sleep, Leela. I’m just going to the kitchen to get
something to eat.”
she mumbled, “Don’t eat too much. You’ll get gas.”
Smiling in spite of the situation, Fry walked
toward the door. Once in a few feet from the door, he motioned the
shadowy figure to go through first.
Fry breathed a sigh of relief when the figure went
through into the living room. He was ready to close the door and
rouse Leela when he had another thought, one that almost drove him to
“Damn,” he thought, “now I have
to go through the door.” Fry took a deep breath. “Oh
well, here goes nothing.”
The door slid shut noiselessly behind him. On the
couch, the shadowy figure sat. Somehow he seemed more distinct in
outline. Summoning his courage, Fry sat in the arm chair opposite
“I’m terribly sorry for barging in
like this, but I haven’t much time,” the figure said in a
“Time for what?”
“Time to ask you to help me to catch a
dangerous intergalactic criminal.”
“Who are you?”
“Some call me the Red Shadow.”
Fry felt a flood of relief course through his
body, “I know about you! But how can I help catch this
Over the next few
moments the Red Shadow explained to Fry about Z-6666. He told how
Z-6666 had inhabited Zapp Brannigan’s body – with
Brannigan’s consent. As Fry listened, the Red Shadow explained
how the plan to separate Brannigan and Z-6666 had failed because
Brannigan could detect the altered brain signature of anyone
inhabited by another energy being far enough away to take defensive
Fry looked puzzled, “What’s this got
to do with me?”
The Red Shadow shifted slightly, “Your brain
lacks a Delta wave. What Brannigan/Z-6666 senses when we try to get
M-5438 close is the presence of two Delta waves. With you, he would
only sense one. That might do the trick.”
Fry shook his head, “Why does my abnormal
brain always gets me into things?”
The Red Shadow shrugged, “I don’t
know. But I do know that if we don’t stop Brannigan/Z-6666,
he’ll try to hurt Leela and you again. He’s obsessed.”
Fry thought for a moment, “I’ll do
“Good,” the Red Shadow replied, “I’ll
be in touch.”
Suddenly, as if a light had been switched off, the
Red Shadow was gone.
Fry sat alone for a moment, deep in thought. Then
he stood up quietly and went back to bed. For a long while he lay
next to Leela, looking at her features limned in the dim glow of the
alarm clock. Then he put his arm around her, snuggled close, and
drifted back to sleep.
Lounge, July 10, 3004, 0800 (8:00 a.m.)
Fry and Leela sat alone on the couch in the
lounge. They were obviously having a serious discussion. Leela was
waving her arms animatedly, while Fry sat with his arms crossed
“So let me
get this straight,” Leela said with just a trace of irritation
in her voice, “The Red Shadow showed up in our bedroom last
night and you are just telling me now?”
first I didn’t know who was our bedroom.”
“Why didn’t you wake me?”
once I wanted to be the one to protect us.”
smile spread across Leela’s face as it lost all traces of
irritation. She reached out and touched Fry’s cheek gently,
“That’s so sweet.”
Inwardly Fry breathed a sigh of relief. He then
explained, as far as he knew, what was going on.
Leela looked thoughtful, “You know Fry that
would explain why Kif got transferred to the South Port Naval
“Yes, Amy mentioned it to me yesterday.
Apparently Zapp doesn’t trust Kif to come near him anymore.”
Before they could continue their conversation
Bender entered the lounge. He walked straight to the couch, wringing
his hands anxiously.
“Morning Bender,” Fry said.
Bender ignored Fry’s greeting. “Leela,
what did Rebecca have to say?” he asked in an almost pleading
“She said she will go out with you…”
Bender let out a whoop and began to dance around,
“Go Bender…Go Bender…”
Startled, both Leela and Fry laughed at Bender’s
there Romeo!” Leela held up her hand, “She said she would
go out with you to a public place. And if you step out of
line that is it.”
Bender calmed down. Again he startled both Fry
and Leela by starting to cry, “Thank you Leela! I’ve been
so lonely since Fry moved out. He seems so happy with you that I
can’t help but want something like that for myself.”
Leela stood and draped her arm around the weeping
robot, “Hey, hey…don’t cry Bender. If you behave
yourself, I’m sure that everything will turn out.”
“Do you really think so?”
Fry sprang up from
the couch, “Leela knows what’s she’s talking about,
Bender.” He stepped up and put his arm around Leela, “She’s
the smartest person I know.”
Bender stopped crying, “I’ll call
Rebecca right now.”
Leela shook her head, “She’s out with
Sally visiting the Orphanarium. Sally wanted Rebecca to meet all of
“Then I’ll call her tonight after
Leela nodded, “Try her after six.”
morning people!” Hermes called cheerfully as he entered the
room. He was unusually cheerful since they had landed the turbidium
hauling contract. Since Planet Express now had two ships and almost
five times their former revenue it put him in line for a promotion.
He also had lots of paperwork to do, something that always filled his
bureaucratic heart with joy.
“You seem happy,” Leela noted.
“Yes, we have lots of work and the money is
Just then the Professor entered, “Good news
everyone! Today you’ll be going to Marley 8.”
“Marley 8?” Leela reflected, “Well,
at least it’s a short trip.”
“What’s the delivery?” Fry
“Oh my, it’s Ajnag fiber.”
Fry looked puzzled, “What’s that?”
nothing illegal on their planet.” The Professor waved
his hands dismissively, “Now stop questioning me and be on your
way.” He turned on his heel and headed out of the room. Just
as he left he half turned and said, “Have a good trip!”
Then he was gone.
Fry, Leela, and Bender exchanged puzzled glances.
Then Bender spoke up, “Well, we may as well get going! Old
Bender has to get home for a hot date tonight!”
100 East 123rd
Street, Apartment 5I, July 10, 3004, 1900 (7:00 p.m.)
Leela sat down in the recliner, pulled her boots
off and swung the recliner back. Fry flopped onto the couch next to
Sally, who was watching the Q.T. McWhiskers show. Fry thought about
changing the channel, but when he saw how enraptured Sally was by the
antics of the cute and cuddly cast, he decided to look at Leela
She looked tired.
“No wonder,” he thought. The trip to Marley 8 had been
uneventful. Once they landed at the Rastaman Commercial Spaceport,
all heck broke loose.
A gang of local
toughs had tried to steal their cargo. Since they were unarmed,
Leela had treated them to a bit of Arcturan Kung-Fu. He and Bender
had grabbed a couple of blernsball bats they kept in a storage locker
and waded into the goons as well.
In a matter of a few seconds it was over. Four of
the toughs lay unconscious and four others – badly bruised –
ran for the hills.
No sooner had they
put away the bats than the Marley 8 customs inspectors arrived. They
decided to inspect the Pathfinder from stem-to-stern. The inspection
turned what had promised to be a short haul into a long day trip.
On the return, they had to dodge an unexpected
meteor shower. Fortunately, Leela’s piloting skills were up to
the challenge. But they still took a few dents, which Leela and he
jack hammered out on their return.
Bender had flown the coop as soon as they landed.
Leela had let him go without a word, knowing that his desire to see
Rebecca would have made him even more useless than usual.
When they got home, Rebecca had dinner all laid
out for them. It had been a pleasant meal, enlivened by Sally’s
animated descriptions of her day visiting the Orphanarium.
Bender arrived at 6:30 p.m. to take Rebecca out
for a Mocha Latte. He was sparkling clean, having just gone through
the bot-wash. Both Fry and Leela had thought it funny to see how
nervous he was in Rebecca’s presence.
Now they were in the Living Room, relaxing as a
family. “Good old TV,” thought Fry, “it’s
what brings us together.”
Fry glanced at Leela. She was rubbing her feet
with a pained expression on her face.
“Leela, are you OK?”
Fry stood up, walked over to the recliner, and
knelt at Leela’s feet. “Sit back,” he said in an
Leela leaned back,
uncertain of what was coming. She was startled when Fry took her
right foot in his hands and began to massage it firmly but gently.
she protested, “I have boot feet! I know how that grosses you
Fry simply smiled in return.
Leela closed her
eye. She said in a low voice, “Thanks Fry.” She paused
for a moment and asked with her eye still closed, “Why did I
wait so long to marry you?”
Fry chuckled, “Just waiting for me to grow
She opened her eye, fixing her gaze on Fry, “You
never cease to amaze me. I don’t know why I ever thought you
it was because I did dumb things. Heck, Leela, you had to pull me
out of quite a few scrapes.” He smiled, “I’m just
glad we’re together.”
“Me too,” Sally chimed in.
Both Fry and Leela were slightly startled by
Sally’s voice. They had almost forgotten she was there. Leela
smiled broadly at Sally, “We’re especially glad to have
Fry nodded in
agreement as he switched his attention to Leela’s other foot,
tenderly massaging it.
“Oh, that feels so good.”
There was a brief silence, a silence of unspoken –
but well understood – shared feelings and emotions. Leela
broke it with a sigh, “I wonder how Bender is doing on his
Fry shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t
Sally raised her hand, “I know Mommy!”
“Yes, ma’am,” She paused for a
second as she lowered her hand, “Miss Rebecca said that Mr.
Bender was going to behave himself or she would slap the head off his
Fry snorted and Leela hid her laugh behind her
hand, “Is that what she said, Sweetie?”
Leela’s face brightened as she thought of
something, “Guess where we’re going for the weekend?”
Sally looked puzzled as she ventured, “The
“No, we’re going to the Oaks to see
Grandpa J.B. marry Grandma Flora.”
Sally startled both Fry and Leela when she leaped
to her feet. Sally began to bounce up and down in place while
chanting, “Oh boy…oh boy! I’m going to see Uncle
Varney and Uncle Taz and Pompey and Prometheus and my Pony and climb
the tree out back and…”
Sally rattled on for a full minute before he ran
out of steam. Fry smiled, “That’s a lot to do in one
“I know, Daddy but Uncle Taz says ‘He
who dares wins.’”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Sally looked thoughtful, “I think it means
that if you don’t try you’ll never get anything done.”
While they were
digesting that comment, the Front Door whooshed open. Rebecca
stepped through, then turned and said, “Good night Bender,
thank you for the Mocha Latte.”
Although they could not see Bender, they could
hear his voice from the hallway, “Will you be available for a
date this weekend?”
“No, I am going to the Kershaw wedding.”
The sound of Bender slapping his metallic forehead
rang from the hallway, “The wedding! I’m on the guest
list as well.”
“Then I guess I will see you there.” Before Bender could
lean forward to try to snatch a kiss, Rebecca slid the door shut.
Leela called out, “So how did it go?”
Rebecca smiled enigmatically, “It was within
acceptable parameters.” Then without a further word she walked
over to her closet, opened the door, and disappeared inside.
In front of 100
East 123rd Street, July 13, 3004, 1500 (6:00 p.m.)
Morris, Munda, and Rebecca stood on the sidewalk in front of the
apartment building. A small pile of bags of various sizes was piled
beside them. The sidewalk had it’s share of foot traffic.
Hovercars and taxis crowded the street as well.
Leela glanced at
her Wristamajigy. Fry and Bender were five minutes late and she was
beginning to worry. Fry wasn’t one of the world’s best
drivers but he had insisted that he go get the rental van.
At first she had
wanted to go herself to make sure the van got there in one piece.
Leela had caved in to Fry when he gave his very best grin and said,
“Please, Leela it’s important.”
“OK,” she had said, “But please
be careful. New-New York traffic is crazy.”
Lost in thought, she didn’t immediately
notice the van pull up to the curb and stop. Fry’s voice
startled her slightly, “Hey baby! Need a ride?”
The sight that met her eye caused Leela to blurt
out, “My God Fry! I thought you gave that old clunker to the
Museum!” Fry was driving the old van they had used to follow
Bender across the country when he was playing washboard for Beck.
Fry shook his
head, “Nope. I got it converted into a hovervan.”
Bender, who was riding shotgun chimed in, “I
hooked Fry up with a mechanic friend of mine. It was a lot cheaper
than buying a new van.”
Before Leela had a
chance to respond, Bender hopped out of the van and slid the side
door open. He bowed in Rebecca’s direction, “Ladies and
Gentlemen, all aboard for Charleston!”
“Hold on Bender. Let’s load the bags
into the van first,” Leela said dryly.
Big Boots I forgot you don’t have a chest cavity.”
Fry got out of the
driver’s seat, walking around to the curbside. He smiled as he
pointed to the roof, “Check it out, Leela. I even got a
luggage carrier.” Reaching up, Fry popped the shell open.
impressive,” Leela said, “I knew there was a reason that
I married you.”
Fry laughed as he began to pick up bags and toss
them into the shell. Leela and Morris joined in and helped. Within
a few moments Fry closed the shell. He dusted off his hands, “Well,
that seems to be it.”
“Have we forgotten anything””
Leela asked with a pensive look on her face.
Sally spoke up, “I have the list you made up
Mommy.” She stepped forward, “Do you want to check it?”
Leela knelt down, “Sure Sweetie, I’m
so glad you remembered to bring it.”
Sally blushed with
pride as her mother took the list. She watched Leela’s face
intently as her eye passed over the list. When Leela looked up, she
smiled at Sally, “Well, it looks like we’ve got
everything.” Leela gave Sally a big hug, “Thanks,
Sweetie. I would have worried all the way to Charleston.”
As she stood up, Leela saw that Fry was standing
by the front passenger door, holding it open. Bender and Rebecca
were sitting in the back, while Morris and Munda were seated on the
middle bench seat with a space in between them.
Fry asked, “Do you want me to drive?”
She hesitated for a moment, “Well…I
don’t know…” Fry’s face fell. Then she
recovered, “Well, I am a little tired.”
Fry smiled, “I’ve been practicing,
Leela. You’ll really enjoy the ride.”
Leela motioned to Sally, who climbed in between
Munda and Morris. Then Leela climbed into the front passenger seat.
Fry closed the door, then walked around to the driver’s side,
and got in.
Fry put the van into gear and pulled out into
traffic. From the rear of the van Bender called out, “And
Aboard the Nimbus, Low Earth Orbit, July 13,
3004, 1530 (3:30 p.m.)
stood motionless on the Observation Deck, his arms crossed over his
chest. A smirk was plastered across his face as his eyes were
riveted on the Earth below. He had been standing there for several
hours, contemplating how to get his revenge on the whole mutant-lover
The key was the stupidly susceptible Councilwoman
Glab, Zapp had decided. He knew that she had a “thing”
for him. Why else would she insist that the Council buy off on his
ridiculous stories? Why else would she conduct a sham of a trial
when he destroyed the new DOOP Headquarters? Why else would she
pardon him? Why else had she called him “Smizmar?”
Yes, Glab had a secret Smizmar…Zapp
The birthing ceremony had been disgusting, just as
he recalled from being present for Kif’s birthing. But once
Glab had delivered her babies…or tadpoles…or whatever
you wanted to call them, she was bound to him for life.
Then the thought struck him. DOOP Day was
approaching! It would be a simple matter for him to persuade
Councilwoman Glab to bring all of the mutant-loving “heroes”
together for reception and ceremony. It would be at the old
headquarters in Weehawken, NJ.
The entire area beneath the old Headquarters was a
labyrinth of tunnels. An entire truckload of explosives could be
packed beneath the building and no one would be the wiser.
Of course, he would ensure that Lieutenant Kif
Kroker would regrettably get an assignment to act as a courier to
Canus 9. That would keep him out of the way. Imagine those fools,
thinking they could sneak a merged entity within striking range.
He could arrange for Glab to leave early, perhaps
on the excuse of a headache. Then, while he escorted Glab home the
explosives would detonate. Goodbye mutant-lovers. Goodbye Leela.
You could have had me. You chose that pipsqueak Fry. So now, I
sentence you to death.
Howeird Johnson’s, North Carolina Coast,
July 13, 3004, 1630 (4:30 p.m.)
The hovervan glided to a stop in one of the
parking spaces in front of the restaurant. The doors opened nearly
simultaneously as everyone climbed out.
Munda took Sally
by the hand as they exited, “Come on Sweetie. Let’s find
the little girl’s room.”
brightly, “I know where it is, Grandma. We stopped here before
when Ms Wong first took us to the Oaks.” She pointed at a claw
machine in a corner, “There’s where Miss Amy won me a
bunch of stuffed animals. She’s really good at it.”
Munda smiled as she led Sally off.
Leela slipped her right arm around Fry’s
shoulder as he walked up next to her.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
Leela thought for a second before answering, “No.
It wasn’t that bad.”
Fry knew that
Leela was making an extra effort to be polite. Piloting a vehicle at
speeds of over 500 miles an hour was not among Fry’s strong
points. He had nearly crashed into other vehicles twice in the
hour’s drive from New-New York to where they had stopped.
He looked at Leela, “Thanks honey. Do you
want to drive the rest of the way?”
She blinked in
surprise. Fry was really highly learning to read her! Touched by the
need to support Fry’s progress, she shook her head, “No.
I think you are doing fine.”
“Yes,” she nodded her head, “you
really are learning. I keep forgetting your automocars didn’t
go nearly as fast back in the Stupid Ages.”
Fry nodded, “Yeah, the fastest I ever drove
before was ninety miles an hour on the New Jersey Turnpike. I wound
up with a $200 ticket!”
Everyone else had preceded them into the
restaurant. It only took a short time for everyone to order, be
served, and consume their meals. Within thirty minutes, they were
back in the van, ready to go.
The van backed out of the parking space without a
problem. Then Fry tried to put it into gear. The hovervan lurched
forward, jerked a few times, and the engine died.
Fry looked embarrassed as he muttered, “Oh
He placed the
gears into neutral, started the engine, and tried to engage the
forward gears again. There was a grinding sound, some more
herky-jerky motion, and the engine died again.
Leela spoke softly, “Fry, I think it’s
going straight into a higher gear. That’s why all the jerking
is taking place.”
Fry exhaled in frustration, “How do we fix
Her brow knitted in concentration for a moment.
Before Leela could answer, Morris spoke up, “We have to push it
to where we can engage third gear without the engine conking out.”
Bender, anxious to impress Rebecca, immediately
volunteered. He said in his usual sarcastic voice, “Okay
fleshwads I can handle this. Just let me get out and push.”
Morris asked, “You sure you don’t need
“Help?” he said dismissively, “My
middle name is help!”
“I thought it was Bending,” Sally
Bender got out of
the van. Conscious that Rebecca was actually watching, he made a
great show of warming up.
After five minutes, Leela finally had enough. She
leaned out of the window and called, “Bender, do you think
you’ll be ready some time tonight?”
“Just finishing up!”
Having milked all
of the attention he could out of getting ready, Bender leaned forward
and began to push. The van slowly gained speed. At around 10 miles
per hour, the clutch caught, the engine roared to life, and the van
Bender wasn’t prepared, and he tumbled
Rebecca called out involuntarily, “Bender!”
Bender regained his feet and ran after the van.
When it became obvious he was being left behind, Bender extended his
arms. He caught the van and pulled himself inside. He smiled
triumphantly as he said, “You can’t get rid of old Bender
The Oaks, Charleston, SC, July 15, 3004, 0400
Morris rocked back
and forth in the old rocking chair. The rhythmic creaking formed an
almost musical counterpoise to the chirping of the crickets. Morris
wore a fishing vest. At his right side sat a fishing rod and a
tackle box. On his left side were the two Irish Wolfhounds Pompey
It was dark on the
porch, with only the light of a single bulb illuminating the
darkness. On Morris’ lap Sally lay curled in a ball, obviously
fast asleep. The smile that flickered across her face showed that
she was savoring the idea a day’s fishing with Varney and her
He smiled as he
thought of the wedding the day before. He wasn’t much on fancy
dress affairs, but he had enjoyed the elegant simplicity of it all.
They had held the wedding at a gazebo at the rear of the mansion.
The weather had cooperated, blue skies just dappled with a few fleecy
The guests had
cooperated, too. Everyone on the list had shown up. The cream of
Charleston Society was there, as well as most of Flora’s
family. The entire crew from the Planet Express had showed up as
well. No one got drunk …well, at least no one was drunk and
When he thought
about it, Morris believed that Fry and Leela had set a trend. Who
would have thought a year ago that Mutants and Normals would marry?
Yet Fry and Leela as well as J.B. and Flora were now married. Soon
Lip and Judy would tie the knot. What was next?
He looked out into
the darkness. So much had changed. Mutants could now walk the
surface world again after almost eight hundred years of
discrimination. Who would have believed it possible? Yet, here he
was, sitting on the porch of one of the grandest mansions in
Charleston getting ready to fish at a private lake with an in-law…an
in-law who was a Normal.
Sally muttered in her sleep, her hands twitching
slightly. Morris looked at her face with something approaching awe.
“Who would have thought I would be a grandfather?” he
murmured. He bent forward and kissed Sally on her middle ear. He
watched her for a moment. Satisfied that she was still asleep, he
resumed his reverie.
Yes, change was in the air, he decided.
Just then, Varney
stepped onto the porch, easing the door closed behind him. Varney
glanced at Sally’s recumbent form. He whispered, “Is she
Morris nodded, not wanting to wake her.
quietly, “I’ll get her from your lap.” That said,
Varney leaned forward and scooped Sally up in his arms. She
continued to sleep that deep sleep of those with an easy conscience.
As soon as Varney had her in his arms, both Pompey and Prometheus
stood. Morris eased himself out of the rocking chair as well.
“She’s a sweetheart,” Varney
whispered with affection in his voice.
vigorously in reply.
“Well, let’s load up.” Varney
pointed toward the hover-pickup parked nearby, “We’ve got
to catch those fish before we can eat ‘em.”
so true.” Morris said quietly with a smile.
They walked over to the hover-pickup. Morris
loaded the tackle and rods into the bed of the truck, while Varney
stood by patiently holding Sally. Pompey and Prometheus leaped
effortlessly into the bed of the truck as soon as the gear was in
Morris opened the passenger door and slid into his
seat. As soon as Morris belted himself in, Varney placed Sally
gently into Morris’ lap. With a few quick steps, Varney put
himself behind the wheel of the hover-pickup. He looked at Morris,
“Ready to catch a few big old mudcats?”
It was a short
drive to the lake. Varney pointed to a 16 foot bass boat, “That’s
our skiff. I’ll load ‘er up. Then you can wake Sally,
Varney loaded the skiff quickly. He walked back
to the hover-pickup carrying several life jackets. “Well,
Morris it’s time to wake our little flower up.”
Morris kissed her cheek gently, “Time to get
up sweetie. We’re at the lake.”
fluttered briefly before staying open. She sat upright, “Are
we really going fishing?”
Varney laughed, “We surely are, but not
until we all put on our life jackets.”
Sally hopped down from Morris’ lap. With a
deftness that surprised both men, Sally slipped into the life jacket.
Morris said teasingly, “Wow, could you show me how to do
Sally put both hands on her hips in a pretty good
Leela imitation, “Now Grandpa…you are a grown-up! You
know how to put one of these on.”
Both men laughed heartily as Morris held his hands
up in mock surrender, “You got me, pumpkin. I confess.”
After Morris and Varney donned their life jackets,
the three of them walked down the short wooden dock toward the skiff.
Pompey and Prometheus followed suit, their toenails clicking
rhythmically on the boards. When they were almost to the skiff,
Sally whirled around with a look of near panic on her face, “Oh
no! Where are the boys’ life jackets?”
perplexed for a brief second before he answered, “Honey, both
of them are real good swimmers.”
Sally looked and sounded concerned, “But I’m
a good swimmer and you are both grown-ups.” Sally frowned as
she crossed her arms in a Leela-like manner, “The boys need
life jackets too.”
No amount of argument would budge her from her
stand. Finally, Morris managed to fit both Pompey and Prometheus
with a life vest. Satisfied, Sally gave both Morris and Varney a
huge hug and a kiss, “Thank you so much. I was so worried.”
Varney looked at his Wristamajigy, “Well,
we’d better get going or we’ll not catch any mudcats.
They’re early feeders you know.”
With that said,
they climbed into the skiff and headed out onto the lake.
Lake, The Oaks, Charleston, SC, July 15, 3004, 0800 (8 a.m.)
The heat of the
morning sun had driven them into the shade of an overhanging willow
tree perched on the Eastern bank near the lake shore. Their fishing
had gone well, with mudcat after mudcat finding their way onto their
Sally has turned
out to have a knack for fishing. In the space of an hour she had
caught four respectable sized fish. It tickled Varney that she was
able to keep both hands on the rod while holding the net with her
“That’s a pretty neat trick,”
Varney had said.
Sally blushed, “Oh…I don’t
usually…I mean…most people think I’m a freak.”
Varney smiled, “I wish I had a tail.”
“Sure, it would come in handy.”
“How do you know where to throw your line?”
“Oh, that’s easy, I just listen for
“You listen for the fish?”
Sally shrugged, “I just have to concentrate
and I hear them swimming around.”
Varney shook his head in disbelief, “I sure
wish I could do that.”
Sally flashed Varney a smile before turning her
attention back to her fishing.
Morris shifted slightly in the skiff, moving
closer to Varney before he spoke in a low voice, “She’s
quite the fisherwoman, eh?”
Varney nodded, “That is a fact, I’ve
never seen such concentration in a child her age. I wonder where she
gets it from?”
Morris tapped his own chest with his right index
Varney gave a slight laugh, “Really? She
isn’t directly related to you, is she?”
Morris shook his head, “No, she isn’t
but she gets the spirit from me.”
ancestors were Maori from the Turanga Clan. We know that a spirit
can pass between members of a family, even those who are adopted.”
It took Varney a moment to digest this bit of
information, “Maori tribesmen? Do you mean like the New
me for asking, but how did you wind up as a mutant in New-New York’s
sewers? Kind of far from home, aren’t you?”
know all of the details, but one of my ancestors was on a tour of
New-New York when the Omicronians attacked the city. His name was
Turanga Iti. He took to the sewers where he eventually married a
lady named Margaret and founded the Turanga family.”
Varney shook his head, “That is almost
Morris smiled, “It’s all true. That’s
why I put my family name first, rather than my given name.”
“Yes, but tell me. I’m curious.
Where did you get a name like Varney?”
lips pursed in a tight grin before he answered, “My real name
is Richard Varner Kershaw. Like many Southern families, our middle
names are family names. It sort of acts as a verbal family tree.”
“So your brother Taz?”
“His full name is Charles Tazewell Kershaw.”
Both men lapsed into silence. Sally let out a
whoop, “I got another one!”
Varney asked, “Do you need any help?”
Sally grinned as she grabbed the net with her
tail, “Nope. I’ll have him on the tag line in just a
True to her word,
Sally reeled the fish in, netted him, pulled him from the hook, and
placed him on the tag line without any help. Her triumphant,
ear-to-ear grin showed she was having the time of her life.
Without a word,
she baited her hook, tossed the line into the water, and resumed her
Varney for a moment. He had come to like Varney a great deal in the
short time they had known each other. Varney had an openness that
made liking him easy.
“So tell me, Varney, what do you do for a
Varney stifled a laugh, “Sit on my behind
spent eight years learning to be an exoarchaeologist. Then I spent
the better part of fifty years doing it”
Unlike my father and brothers, I never found the law very
Sally gave a squeal of delight as she hooked
another mudcat. Both men watched as she went through her routine
before casting out her line once more.
Morris grinned proudly, “I think she might
just empty this lake.”
Varney shook his head, “I doubt it, but
she’ll put a dent in the mudcat population.”
Morris returned to the earlier conversation, “So
what made you interested in exoarchaeology?”
Varney laughed, “Digging for treasure, I
think. One of my ancestors was the great Space Pirate, Yellowbeard.
I never had the itch to be a pirate but I liked the idea of looking
around on the seat, her attention wrenched away from fish and
fishing, “Your ancestor was a space pirate? That is so cool!”
Varney nodded, “He’s your ancestor
too, you know.”
“That is so cool!”
Morris spoke up, “Speaking of cool, I’d
sure like to get into a nice cool sewer right now. How do you
Normals stand this heat?”
“OK,” Varney said, “I can take a
hint.” He turned to Sally, “So how’d you like to go
get a pop and hear about your ancestor, the ferocious Space Pirate
“Could we?” she squealed in delight.
“We can and we will.”
Within the twinkling of an eye, they were on their
way to the local diner for a late morning soda and a lot of tall
tales. Later in her life Sally would often say, “Little did I
realize that my Uncle Varney would plant a seed that day that would
change my life forever.”
Charleston, SC, July 16, 3004, 0800 (8 a.m.)
Varney was the
last to arrive for breakfast. Fry, Leela, Sally, Morris, Munda,
Bender, Rebecca, and Taz were already at the table. As Varney sat
down, he smiled, “Sorry if I made anyone wait. I just couldn’t
get going this morning.”
Taz shook his head, “No problem little
brother.” He turned slightly in his chair to face Zeeves,
“Please serve breakfast now.”
“Very good, sir.” Within moments, Zeeves set the table,
finishing by carefully placing an ornate soup tureen full of mineral
oil between Bender and Rebecca. The dishes quickly made the rounds.
Morris proudly pointed at the plate full of fish
as it circled the table, “Sally caught these, you know.”
Fry pretended to be surprised, “Wow!
Sally broke into
an ear-to-ear-to-ear grin, “I didn’t catch all of them.
Grandpa Morris and Uncle Varney helped.”
said, “Morris and I each caught two fish each. She
wound up putting twenty on the tag line before I lured her
away with stories of Pirate Treasure.”
Bender, who had been looking at Rebecca, turned so
violently at the mention of the words “Pirate Treasure”
that he nearly fell to the floor. “P-P-Pirate Treasure,”
he stammered, “are you sure?”
replied, “Oh yes, Uncle Bender. It’s the treasure of my
ancestor – the great Pirate Captain” she dropped her
voice almost to a whisper, “Yellowbeard.”
Shaking her head,
Sally continued, “Yes. And Uncle Varney used to dig stuff up
all the time. Next summer, we’re going to look for it.”
“Count me in too.”
An amused look
crossed Rebecca’s face. She said gently, “Bender, you
“Oh, sorry,” He looked crestfallen.
“That’s OK Uncle Bender; you can come
if you want.”
Bender said, “It’s a deal!”
a shame we have to go back to New-New York,” Munda said with a
touch of sadness in her voice. “I really like it here. It’s
Bowing in Munda’s direction in his seat,
Varney replied, “Madame, you and your delightful husband are
welcome to come and visit at any time.”
To the surprise of everyone at the table, silent
tears began to flow from Munda’s eye. Everyone sat in stunned
silence for a moment before a visibly shaken Varney found his voice,
Munda, I apologize if I have in any way offended you.”
Munda shook her head, “I’m sorry.”
She smiled, “Just a short while ago, I couldn’t even
come on the surface legally. Now, I’m welcomed in a Normal
“You are more than welcome.” Taz
added, “You are family.”
“Thank you,” Munda said quietly.
“That means a lot to Morris and me.”
There was a brief
lag in conversation. Then Leela looked toward Taz, “Are all
the Kershaw brothers coming to the DOOP Day celebrations in New-New
York this Friday? We could show you around our part of town.”
Taz shook his
head, “Unfortunately, both Varney and I have a prior commitment
here in Charleston.” He paused for a moment, “But I
understand that J.B. and Flora will swing through New-New York on
their honeymoon trip to attend the festivities, including the State
Dinner at the Ritz Carleton.”
Fry paused in his
headlong destruction of the plate of food in front of him to add,
“Leela, Sally and I will be going, too. We are going as guests
of Councilwoman Glab. It should be a real blast.”
New-New York Police Department
Headquarters’, Commissioner’s Office,
New-New York, July 17, 3004, 0200 (2
The lights in the office flickered briefly just as
the digital clock on Ramon’s desk displayed “0200”.
“Right on time,” Ramon thought.
Peering into the darkness, Ramon saw the familiar
form of The Red Shadow. Ramon cleared his throat, “So, Amigo
you are right on time. Don’t you ever sleep?”
The Red Shadow laughed as he settled into the
armchair facing Ramon, “Seems I sleep less and less lately.
What’s the word?”
“You know Captain Shanon LeBlanc, don’t
“We’ve not met directly. I know she
considers me a menace.”
“Well, in spite of that particular error,
she’s one heck of a cop.”
Ramon paused for a moment to pour himself a
tumbler of Scotch, “You want a drink?”
“Is the news that bad?”
“No, not at all.” Ramon smiled,
“Froggy has been working with M-5438. They believe Brannigan
is going to try some sort of grandstand play during the DOOP Day
“Well, some really odd things have happened.
For example, Fry and his family have been invited to a State Dinner
at the Ritz Carleton this Friday.”
Although he knew that and had found it odd, The
Red Shadow only uttered a noncommittal, “Really?”
just doesn’t add up, Amigo.” Ramon paused, “Other
than J.B. and Flora Kershaw they are the only private citizens
invited. Don’t you find that odd?”
The Red Shadow shifted slightly in his chair
before responding, “Yes, I do. Is there anything else?”
were originally going to hold the State Dinner at the old DOOP
Headquarters in Weehawken, NJ.”
persuaded them to move it to New-New York for ‘convenience’
“I’m sending M-5438 in with Fry. Will
you be there to back him up?”
Ramon smiled broadly, “I’ll drink to
Express Conference Room, July 18, 3004, 0730 (7:30 a.m.)
The conference room was crowded to capacity. This
was one of those rare mornings when the crews of the Pathfinder and
the Resilient were present at the same time. The meeting was
scheduled for 0800, but everyone had shown up early to chat. Oddly
enough, even Bender had shown up early.
When Bender entered, Fry had leaned over and
whispered to Leela, “I’m worried about Bender. He’s
been early or on time ever since we got back from Charleston.”
With a smile, Leela whispered back, “Well,
it has only been two days in a row.”
Before Fry could reply, Bender sat down next to
Fry, “Isn’t it a lovely morning?”
“Bender,” Fry asked, “You
haven’t found religion again, have you?”
“Religion? No, no…I just feel good.”
With a sly smile Leela asked, “Would this
have anything to do with Rebecca?”
“Yes. It has everything to do with her.
Because of her, I’ve found lines of code in my programming and
subroutines I never knew existed.”
“Yup. I wanted you all to know first.”
He paused dramatically, “We’re going to merge our
Fry looked alarmed, “Are you sure you want
to do that, old buddy? Remember the time you almost merged with the
“Fry,” Leela said in a somewhat sharp
tone, “That was a completely different case. I think that we
should congratulate Bender.”
“OK Leela…congratulations Bender.”
Sarah leaned over, “I couldn’t help
overhearing, congratulations Bender.”
Leela turned slightly in her seat to face Sarah,
“So how have things been?”
“No worries. We’ve been on that
bloody turbidium haul once a week.”
A cloud seemed to
pass across Sarah’s face, “He’s doing well.”
Intuitively, Leela knew enough not to press the
subject, “So how is everyone else in your crew?”
“Let’s see. XT has met a young lady
named Jasmine Hamza, the daughter of the famous surgeon Tarek Hamza.”
surgeon that saved Fry’s life!”
“I believe it’s the same bloke.”
“How’d they meet?”
“I’m not certain. XT is a private
sort of fellow you know.”
Leela nodded, “So how about Brad?”
“He and Katrina are thick as thieves. I
shouldn’t be surprised if they announced an engagement soon.”
Leela smiled. Although Sarah had lost much of her
accent, she still peppered her speech with Australian expressions,
“So how about CosmicF?”
and that Chenxi Wong are like a pair of roos.”
“Do you think they’ll get married?”
“If they ever come up for air, I suppose.”
“How about Chelsea and Caitlyn?”
“They’re well enough. They’ve
given notice, so Brad will have to pick two new fighter pilots.”
Leela nodded. Before they could continue their
conversation, Hermes and the Professor entered the room. The
Professor was grinning, “Good news everyone! Both crews will
be hauling turbidium this next trip.”
“Now there’s a thought,” Sarah
“And how,” Leela replied.
100 East 123rd
Street, Apartment 5I, New-New York, July 20, 3004, 1800 (6
The turbidium haul
had been routine. “I could get used to this,”
Leela had thought. Of course, if they screwed up…boom!
Now Fry and Leela
were in their apartment, preparing for the State Dinner. Fry was
already dressed, wearing a black tuxedo with a red bow-tie. He sat
in the living room, watching TV.
Leela was in their
bathroom, putting on her makeup. She frowned as she removed her
mascara for the second time. “I wish Amy was here to help
me,” she thought, “I’m just no good at this
Rebecca was in
Sally’s room, helping her dress. Sally liked the dress Rebecca
selected. It was brand new, green, and had white lace ruffles around
the neck and sleeves. “Miss Rebecca,” Sally said, “You
don’t have to help me get dressed. I’m a big girl.”
“I know. But I like helping you dress. Is
The thought that
someone liked to help her dress made Sally feel important, “Yes
In the living room, the television flickered
briefly. Fry became aware that someone was standing near the
armchair. At first he thought it was Rebecca. Then he realized it
was the Red Shadow.
Startled, Fry rose to his feet, “What’s
“I’m here to ask you to host M-5438
now. Zapp Brannigan will be at the State Dinner. As you know, we
need to separate him from Z-6666. Because of your unique brainwave
pattern, M-5438 is certain that you can get close to Brannigan
“I agreed to do it and I haven’t
changed my mind.”
Make an excuse to step outside the apartment for a moment before you
leave for the dinner. M-5438 will be waiting.” With that, the
Red Shadow vanished.
Leela came into the living room wearing a long,
royal blue dress. She had a puzzled look on her face, “Who
were you talking to, Fry?”
He hated lying to
her, but he did not want her to worry. Fry shrugged, “It must
have been the TV.”
She turned around, “Would you finish zipping
He stepped up, took the pull tab between his
fingers and eased the zipper upwards, “I love you, Leela.”
She spun around
and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, “I love you too, Phil.”
Hotel, New-New York, July 20, 3004, 1900 (7 p.m.)
The main ballroom
of the Ritz Carleton was ablaze with light and packed with
dignitaries from all over the DOOP. A small place had been left near
the head table for dancing after dinner. Otherwise, every square
foot was packed with round tables. Fry, Leela, Sally, J.B. and Flora
were seated at the same table with three diplomats from Amphibios 9.
Leela thought, “at least our table is near the fire exit.
I’d hate to get stuck trying to get out of here in an
They could easily see the head table from their
seats. Leela felt slightly sick to her stomach when she saw Zapp
Brannigan enter the room at Councilwoman Glab’s elbow. He was
wearing his dress white uniform and she was wearing a white dress.
All Leela could think was, “What a mismatched pair.”
mind, he and M-5438 were having a conversation.
In his usual vaguely whiny voice, M-5438 said, “As
soon as Zapp is close to you, reach out and touch him on bare flesh.
I’ll do the rest.”
Fry replied with some irritation, “I know.
I’m not an idiot.”
“I don’t consider you an idiot. It’s
just that I’ve been chasing Z-6666 across five galaxies. He’s
caused the death of millions.”
“OK…OK…I’ll touch his
skin at the first opportunity.”
Fry became aware that Leela had spoken to him,
“I’m sorry, Leela. I was daydreaming. What did you
I said, “Do you want to dance once we finish
The dinner passed pleasantly. One of the
Amphibian diplomats, a male named Kef, had a seemingly inexhaustible
store of jokes and funny stories. By the time the dessert arrived,
everyone was relaxed, even Fry.
rose and gave her standard DOOP Day speech. It wasn’t bad as
such speeches go. Still, everyone was glad when she announced, “Now,
I invite you all to enjoy yourselves for the rest of the evening.
We’ve got an excellent dance band and lots of good booze. So
As the band took
its place, Zapp led Glab onto the dance floor. As custom dictated,
the first dance belonged to them. Fry looked at Leela and saw a look
of revulsion on her face. He could guess her thoughts.
Once the song
concluded, Glab returned to the head table. Zapp walked straight up
to Fry and Leela’s table. He grinned maliciously, “So,
how are you enjoying the evening?”
Fry stood and
returned Zapp’s smile. Fry extended his hand, “Damn fine
evening. Let me shake your hand.”
extended his hand. Fry grabbed Zapp’s hand, and then used his
other hand to deftly pull Zapp’s sleeve up. Fry gripped Zapp’s
Both men were briefly engulfed in a flash of
greenish light. Zapp staggered back, briefly stunned by his forcible
separation from Z-6666.
A murmur arose as
M-5438 and Z-6666 battled in the small cleared area in front of the
head table. M-5438 shrieked, “NOW! Activate the containment
The Red Shadow
popped into view, pulled what looked like an ancient tripod-mounted
camera from his cloak, placed it on the floor, and quickly pressed a
series of buttons. In an instant, Z-6666 was surrounded by a reddish
while all attention was fixed on the struggle between the two energy
beings, Zapp recovered.
His union with Z-6666 had altered him. His evil
side had become stronger while any good traits had weakened. Like a
cornered rat, Zapp knew that he would be the next to receive
attention from the cops who were already pouring through the doors.
He needed to escape and he needed a hostage.
Zapp’s eyes fell on Sally…the perfect hostage. He
picked her up, clapping his hand over her mouth to keep her quiet
until he got through the door. It almost worked…except that
Zapp forgot children have teeth.
Sally sunk teeth on Zapp, biting down as hard as
she could. As he bellowed in pain, she struggled to get free. She
also screamed, “Help! Mommy, Daddy, Grandpa!”
Her voice was silenced when Zapp struck her
savagely, “Shut up you little brat.”
J.B., Leela, and
Fry heard Sally’s cry. All three rushed toward Zapp, but he
managed to get through the door and vanish from sight.
Beneath the Ritz-Carleton Hotel, July 20, 3004, 2100 (9 p.m.)
Leela reached the
door first, followed by Fry and J.B. She had kicked off her shoes
off to run faster, thinking, “Thank the Lord that this dress is
slit up the side.”
The door sprung open, revealing a staircase that
went both up and down. The three stood silently for a moment. Which
way had Zapp gone?
Fry spotted it first, “Leela! There’s
fresh blood on the steps going down!” Without another word,
they plunged down step in headlong pursuit. They followed the blood
trail down to the bottom of the stairs, where it led to an access
panel to the sewers.
The cover was off
the access panel. The distant sound of splashing footfalls led the
pursuers into the sewers.
They ran for at least two blocks, following the
sound of the splashing footfalls. Then, disaster struck! The sound
of a rushing sewer drain drowned out the sound of the footfalls just
as Leela, J.B., and Fry reached a three-way intersection.
J.B. took charge,
“I’ll go to the right, Fry go up the middle and Leela
take the left. Look for sign. Maybe we’ll see blood spoor or
he’ll drop something.”
Wordlessly they took off down the dimly lit
tunnels, scanning for sign.
It was J.B. who
found Zapp and Sally. They were near a thirty foot wide roaring
cataract of water that bisected the sewer tunnel. It was a channel
for an underground river that ran strongly so close to where it
disgorged into the East River.
Zapp was picking
his way across a small maintenance footbridge. He was carrying Sally
tucked under his arm like a package. Sally saw J.B. and shrieked,
J.B. roared, “Zapp Brannigan, stop in the
name of the law!”
Safely on the other side, Zapp turned. Drawing a
plasma pistol from beneath his tunic, he laughed wickedly, “Sorry,
but I’ve no time for the law.” Then he fired two shots
at the footbridge, dropping it into the rushing waters, where it was
Desperately trying to delay Brannigan, J.B.
shouted above the roaring flood, “Don’t be stupid
Brannigan. Let the girl go. I can get you off with a light
“No,” Brannigan shrieked, “I
will not be denied my revenge!” He threw his head back as he
laughed demonically, “You want the brat? Fish for her!”
Holding her by the
nape of her dress, Zapp dangled Sally over the roaring waters. She
screamed in terror. At that moment, the Red Shadow popped into view
a few feet from Zapp. Zapp released Sally, who began to fall toward
J.B. shouted an anguished, “No!”
As Sally fell toward the water, the Red Shadow
dove to catch her. In a feat of superhuman agility and strength, he
caught Sally and managed to toss her safely to the other side before
he was engulfed and swept away by the raging waters.
Zapp howled with frustration, “You little
brat, I’ll have my revenge yet! I’ll get all of you
mutant freaks!” He raised his plasma pistol, pointing it right
somebody your own size, you fat slob,” J.B. shouted as he
rushed forward, reaching for the derringer in his waistband. He had
to close the distance to get a good shot.
Zapp shouted back, “OK!” The plasma pistol fired,
striking J.B. directly in the chest, dropping him in his tracks.
“Grandpa! No!” She rushed to where he lay on his
back, his chest still smoldering from the impact of the plasma bolt.
“Grandpa, please don’t die!”
Zapp laughed, sure of his triumph, “You’re
next you little brat.”
struggling for breath. He gasped out, “Use your derringer,
Sally knew what
J.B. meant. She remembered that he kept a derringer in his
waistband. It was “her” gun…he was just holding
it for her until she grew up.
She could see the
butt of the small pistol protruding from J.B.’s cummerbund.
She grabbed it and stood up with it at her side.
Zapp taunted her,
“So what are you going to do little girl? Beg me for mercy?
Come on, I want to hear you beg!”
Sally raised the
pistol and took careful aim as she shouted, “No!” Before
Zapp could react, the small pistol barked twice. Both bullets struck
him squarely in the chest. One lacerated his aorta and the other
severed his superior vena cava.
dropped his pistol and clawed at his chest. The spurting blood
reddened his dress white tunic. Without a sound, Zapp fell first to
his knees, then tumbled headfirst into the water.
Sally threw herself sobbing onto her J.B.’s
chest. Between her sobs she said, “Grandpa, I got him. He
won’t hurt us any more.”
J.B. reached up
and stroked her hair. He wheezed, “There, there, it’s
OK….” Then his body convulsed and he fell silent.
Sally didn’t know how long she sat there
before she heard Fry’s voice, “Sally, are you OK?”
She looked up at
Fry, with a look of anguished pleading on her tear-streaked face,
“Daddy, help Grandpa! Please!”
Fry gazed at J.B’s
still and silent form. The wound was worse than any he’d ever
tried to treat. Knowing Sally needed comfort, Fry knelt down give
her a quick hug, “I’ll try Pumpkin, I’ll try.”
Then he went to work, desperately trying to save J.B.
Memorial Park, Charleston, SC, July 23, 0800 (8 a.m.)
A hard rain pelted
the awning at the graveside. The thunderstorm had arisen from
nowhere before the conclusion of the funeral service, as though the
very sky was grieving.
On the front row
facing the grave from left to right were Flora, Taz, Varney, Leela,
Fry, Sally, Munda and Morris. All were red-eyed from weeping.
The rest of the
Planet Express Crew and their significant others – The
Professor, Cubert, Dr. Zoidberg, Hermes and LaBarbara, Amy and Kif,
Sarah and James, Brad and Katrina, CosmicF and Chenxi, XT and Jasmine
– were crowded beneath the awning.
A knot of close
family – Kershaws, Varners, Tazewells, and Barnwells - was
clustered at graveside as well, mostly sheltered beneath umbrellas.
The minister, Dr.
James Newton, finished the service. He was soaked to the skin, but
he had refused to allow the sudden thunderstorm to slow him down.
Amid torrential rain and accompanied by peals of thunder and flashes
of lightning, he had recited the funeral service from memory. When
asked later why he hadn’t gotten out of the rain, he said, “I
served in Kershaw’s Regiment in the war. He was the finest man
and the best commander I ever knew. I owe him that much.”
The minister turned to Leela, “Mrs. Fry, I
believe you have a tribute to pay.’
although she did not step out into the rain. Clad in black, she was
the picture of quiet dignity in grief. She appeared to struggle to
find her voice for a moment. Then, in a clear voice she said, “J.B.
had a song he wanted me to sing. He made me promise to sing it at
his funeral if he should ‘go home’ before I did.”
She paused for a moment and breathed a silent prayer, “Lord,
grant me the strength to get through this.”
The she sang in
clear, lilting tones,
there's a place where dreams have all gone They never said
where but I think I know It's miles through the night just
over the dawn on the road that will take me home I know
in my bones I've been here before The ground feels the same
though the land's been torn I've a long way to go The
stars tell me so on this road that will take me home Love
waits for me 'round the bend Leads me endlessly on Surely
sorrows shall find their end and all our troubles will be gone
And I'll know what I've lost and all that I've won when
the road finally takes me home And when I pass by don't
lead me astray Don't try to stop me Don't stand in my way
I'm bound for the hills where cool waters flow on this
road that will take me home Love waits for me 'round the bend
Leads me endlessly on Surely sorrows shall find their end
and all our troubles will be gone And we'll know what we've
lost and all that we've won when the road finally takes me
home I'm going home I'm going home I'm going home”
Just as Leela
finished the song, the rain stopped abruptly. The clouds broke in
the East, bathing the gravesite in bright morning sunlight.
Sally pointed to
where the clouds had suddenly parted, “Look!”
They saw a brilliant rainbow which lingered briefly before fading.
Flora lifted her
veil. She turned to Leela with a smile on her tear-dampened face.
She expressed the thought shared by many of those present, “It’s
going to be alright. My Joseph is home.”
Leela started to sob.
Flora reached up
and touched Leela’s cheek. She spoke softly, “There,
there child, I know your heart is heavy with sorrow but know that my
Joseph is at peace.”
“How can you say that?”
Flora smiled, “Joseph and I are both
believers. I grieve that he is no longer here, but I rejoice that I
will see him again.”
“I guess that is a comforting thought.”
is, Leela.” Flora lowered her veil, “I believe that you
have many happy days ahead of you. Enjoy your life with your husband
and your family. Do not become a prisoner to the past or the evil
deeds of others.” Her tone became almost steely as she reached
out and gripped Leela’s hand, “Promise me.”
Startled by the
urgency in Flora’s voice, Leela replied fervently, “I
will enjoy my life and I will not become a prisoner of
the past. I swear it”
This ends Married with Children. There will be
more to the Fry Family Chronicles…rest assured. I would like
to thank all of those who have endured reading this labor of love.