fell to the ground and landed on her rear with a thump that knocked
the air out of her lungs. Her gun clattered to the ground a moment
later, just as the window clicked back into its frame She glared up
at it, ignoring the rain that fell in fitful sheets around her, and
laughed shortly at the ultimate futility of his escape. She'd have
him, sooner or later.
doing this, he’d said. She should have known that one would be
trouble, he’d seemed different the first time they’d met.
The same, but somehow calmer, or perhaps just more ignorant. Yeah,
that must be it. Now he was here too...
picked up her gun, wiped the worst of the grime from its metal hide
and then slipped it into the holster at her hip. Last time she’d
met this Fry she’d almost lost it, and losing the weapon that
had give her purpose, which reminded Leela that she was short of
bullets and that it might be a good time to head home again.
universe,” she muttered as she pulled out the gun again to give
it a more careful examination. She spun the barrel, revelled in the
rapid clatter of the ratchet and the rhythmic flicker of the
remaining rounds in their chambers. Leela stepped away from the
building and looked up at the now-darkened window, blinking at the
rain that sputtered over her upturned eye. No chance to get in there
tonight, but that didn’t matter; there were still other Philips
to fry. She turned, oblivious to the thickening rain, and looked
about the street. There was another one somewhere around here,
another prey to hunt. She’d find him and deal with him first,
and then she’d return for this one later, and if he’d got
away again, well, she’d just have to move on to the next.
set off down the street to resume her hunt. After a few steps she was
whistling the happy tune she remembered from the institute radio, and
soon afterwards she was skipping along and splashing in the puddles
as she thought about her next meeting with Philip.
was all so much fun!
wake up. Fry!” There was a slapping sound, followed by
something that could reasonably be called pain, and Fry realised he
was awake again. He groaned, shook his head to relieve the stinging
in his cheek, then opened his eyes and looked up. A giant pair of
eyes regarded him with a mixture of resigned amusement and drunken
suspicion. No wait, that wasn’t right. Fry shook his head and
blinked, and the eyes resolved into two Leelas staring down at him.
his Leela, turned away
to look at her ersatz twin. “Back home I have a dermal
re-generator in the kitchen, I don’t suppose-”
get it,” the other said, before disappearing from view. Her
voice sounded rough, as if she’d been crying. Dermal
re-generator? Fry sat up and-
My head...” Fry reached up to touch his forehead and hissed in
pain as his fingers probed at the stiff welt just above his left eye.
He looked around the apartment until he found the door, mercifully
sealed. “What... Leela, she was out there, you have to-”
Leela helped Fry up to a sitting position and patted down his jacket.
“Who was out there, Fry?”
you. Her.” Fry’s eyes wandered around the room as he
fought for a description. “The one before we came here that
attacked you and shot Bender and wasn’t wearing any pants.”
brow twisted in confusion, an odd sight given she only had one eye.
“Fry, that doesn’t make much sense. She went into a
completely different universe. You’ve bumped your head.”
stood up and held her hand out to help Fry to his feet. Fry touched
his forehead again as he recalled the whack the door had given him
and felt a few tiny scratches from the shattered fixture as well.
she shot at me! And how do you explain that light exploding?”
been on at the landlord for months to get that thing fixed.”
Leela guided Fry to the single chair and sat him down in it just
before her counterpart returned. She took the dermal regenerator, a
small cylindrical device with a rotating interior, and peered at it.
“Thanks. Look, Fry, the most likely explanation is that you
were asleep, and the light exploding made you have a bad dream.
been on at the landlord about that light for months,” the
second Leela added with some feeling. Then her face dropped and she
looked down at the floor. “Not that it would have made much
glanced between the two almost-identical faces as Leela applied the
regenerator to his forehead. He felt the bruise tingling and a
strange, itchy sensation twinged somewhere behind his eyes.
don’t know...” He kept his voice low, just in case she
heard him. But, then, was she even there? The rhythmic buzzing if the
regenerator increased its intensity as Leela waved the device over
other parts of his skin and Fry could feel himself relaxing as the
dull ache he hadn’t even noticed started to fade away, replaced
with a strange warm sensation across his forehead. Maybe he had
dreamed it. Not that it mattered, with the door shut they wouldn’t
have to worry about her anyway.
machine snapped off. Fry opened eyes he hadn’t even noticed
closing and looked up at Leela. She smiled at him and tapped her
finger against his forehead whilst her counterpart folded the machine
up again. “That should do it.”
sat up, his vision much clearer now the pain had gone. He reached up
to touch the bruise and found it completely healed. “So I guess
we’re staying here tonight?”
Leela, here,” Leela said, indicating her pseudo-sister with a
wry grin, “is letting us crash here tonight. You’re
staying out here, I’ll be in there with... myself, I guess.
Feel free to watch television and try not to eat any more ‘cheese’.”
Blue frowned and folded her arms across her chest as if she were
cold. She looked between Leela and Fry with obvious confusion. “I
thought you two would... I mean-”
Leela blinked and laughed nervously at the force of her own reply.
She took her twin’s arm to guide her toward the bedroom. “We
aren’t a couple if that’s what you mean.”
aren’t?” Blue looked over her shoulder at Fry, confusion
clouding her face for a moment. The eye made her so easy to read, Fry
thought sadly, watching her as the door closed. “But he’s
turned back to stare at the blank television. Once, just once, he
wished he could hear his
Leela utter that phrase without kicking him in the balls afterwards.
Metaphorically speaking, anyway, he thought, as he reached under the
seat and pulled out the half-full bottle of liquor. Leela really had
sunk low in this world and in all likelihood he, Philip Fry, was dead
at the bottom of some ruined gulley in the remains of old New York.
It was worth a drink.
to another lousy universe,” Fry said, raising the bottle in
mock salute. He downed a gulp of the liquor only to choke most of it
back up again as the fiery liquid stripped the inside of his throat
it’s like swallowing hot nails! How can she drink this stuff?”
peered at the bottle, shrugged and took another gulp. It was a lot
smoother this time though, truth be told, that was probably because
his throat had just gone numb. He didn’t feel quite so scared
any more. Two Leela’s against one was always good odds, even if
the one did have a
gun. A very odd gun...
eyes snapped open. The room was pitch-black apart from a faint glow
from a chronometer by the side of the giant TV screen that read
something ridiculously early in the morning. He stared at it, willing
himself to understand the numbers, but they slipped away to a ruddy,
senseless blur each time he tried to focus.
no five in the morning...” he muttered, rolling his head to one
side. Where had he been? Gun. It had been an old pistol, the sort
Dirty Harry would have been using to get lucky. Something about the
gun nagged at Fry, preventing him from getting back to sleep.
Something about the way it worked.
Fry leaped from the chair and then immediately stumbled over the
discarded liquor bottle, spilling its remaining contents across the
floor. Not that it made much difference to the smell. Fry didn't care
about that, anyway; if he could find the spent bullet he could prove
to Leela that he hadn’t been dreaming!
felt his way along the wall toward the apartment door and then
paused, suddenly wary. What if she
was waiting out there? But, then, would she bother waiting? Wouldn’t
she have simply broken her way in? Fry shivered in anticipation of
what might come and opened the door a crack with the full expectation
of a bullet in the gut for his troubles. Nothing. He let out an
audible sigh of relief and let the door swing wide.
hall was bright to his dark-accustomed eyes, but dim at the same
time, and silent. Shards of ceramic and metal littered the floor
underneath the destroyed light fitting, glinting in the remaining
lights and the pale false dawn that shone in through the window. Fry
gingerly stepped out into the hall, carefully avoiding the worst mess
and conscious of the noise his steps made on the detritus that must
surely have woken the entire floor again. He paused for a moment to
make sure the apartment door was off its latch and wouldn’t
lock him out, then moved on toward the centre of the hall.
underneath the light-fitting looked fairly well wrecked, the ceiling
scorched in a wide arc around the fitting, cracked in a few places
where its protected surface polymer sheath had bubbled away. He knew
a simple failing light wouldn’t do that, even in these days of
high-power plasma bulbs and electronium filaments. Unfortunately he
couldn’t see any way to climb up to the fitting, and he
couldn’t spot any obvious bullet inside it from down here. Fry
shook his head sadly and looked away, letting his eyes rove over the
destruction while until they came to rest on a small, dull-silver
object resting on the floor. It looked about right.
picked up the bullet and rocked it back and forth in his hand,
examining the slightly flattened slug of metal from every angle,
willing himself to remember any tricks he could think of from the old
cop shows. T.J. Hooker had always been able to guess the size of a
bullet from just looking at it but Fry couldn’t seem find the
little numbers he must have been using. Maybe they’d been
rubbed off by the carpet.
looked over his shoulder at the pale grey circle of the window and
shuddered; he’d been that
close to having his brains blown out, he still didn’t know why
she was using the old gun, or even why she was after him, but now he
had another reason to get home as fast as possible. Fry pocketed the
bullet and crept back into the apartment, closed the door and locked
it tight, then leaned back against it with a relieved outlet of
put his hand back in his pocket to touch the proof of the attack and
then crept across the apartment to Leela’s bedroom with a
little trepidation. Maybe it would be better to wait until the
morning? But then again, if they waited until then, she
might find some way to get to him. No, there was no choice. Fry
leaned up against the door and raised his hand to knock.
was just about when Leela started to cry. Some strange instinct made
Fry push his ear up against the door because, even though he knew it
was rude to eavesdrop, the thought of Leela crying overrode any sense
of propriety. Fry knew it wasn’t his
Leela that was crying, but the voice was almost the same, and had the
same effect on him as his heart leapt into his throat. Leela almost
never cried, even when she knew he was in a lot of trouble. She
hadn’t even cried that time she’d had
to hit him until he
cried, and when she did it was a voluminous wail, not the bitter
emaciated weeping he could hear through the door. The sound of
someone so crushed by life that they couldn't even
were muttered words that might have been encouragement and the quiet
sobbing died away again. Fry stepped back and took the bullet from
his pocket. He looked at it in the twilight of the room and sighed,
then zipped it into an inside pocket to keep it safe before
tip-toeing back to his seat in front of the oversized television
screen. He’d tell her about it tomorrow.
woke again, still in the chair, but bathed in a bright light. The
screen in front of him was glowing bright white and filled with
fuzzing static that seemed to dance with a thousand almost-visible
images of people walking to and fro, skipping and jumping from one
spot to another and then fading back to nothing, like a vague and
annoyingly steamed-up window onto a million parallel lives. Fry sat
up and tugged the remote out from beneath his leg; the movement
knocked the empty bottle under the chair against one of the coffee
cups he’d left there the night before. With a tired grunt Fry
turned his eyes away from the screen as Leela walked into his field
of vision, rubbing her hands with a towel.
you’re awake.” There was a that little smile and no pain
etched on her face which mean it was his
Leela. Fry smiled back and tried to push himself out of the chair, an
act he managed with some difficulty after finding out his left leg
had fallen asleep. He leaned against the chair back and flopped the
leg around to try and get some blood flowing.
Leela, I found something last night.” Fry grunted and had to
stop talking for a moment as all the nerves in his leg suddenly
started working again. It felt as if he had the thing trapped in a
spiny ant-eater nest or something. Finally, after he was sure he
could stand without his knee bending backward, Fry felt around in his
pocket for the bullet. It was gone. He paused, grinned nervously and
searched his other pockets in confusion. “It was here
looked on with a skeptical eye as Fry patted his other pockets. “Sure
you didn’t dream-”
got it!” Fry reached into his inside pocket and pulled out the
lumpen lead slug, which he held up between finger and thumb in front
of Leela’s face. “See? She was here!”
Leela took the bullet between her fingers and held it up to the
light. “This is just a piece of metal,” she said,
dropping it back into Fry’s palm. She shook her head sadly.
“It’s probably something out of the light fitting. Face
it, Fry, you’ve had a stressful day and night, and you’ve
been drinking that... that drink, and it’s made you have
but she was here,”
Fry whined as he stared at the leaden slug. In the light of day it
did look a bit less bullet-shaped than he’d thought the night
before. Then again, somehow, he knew what a bullet should look like
and this was it. More to the point, Leela wouldn’t
know. She was used to laser pistols and plasma rifles. “Besides,
how many light fittings have lead in them?”
you’d be surprised,” Leela replied. She turned her back
on Fry and walked toward the bedroom. “Get cleaned up, we’re
taking ‘me’ to see a doctor and then we’re going to
figure out a way to sort this crazy-ass world out again.”
Fry!” Leela turned around and glared at Fry with her hands on
her hips, giving him a chance to see how little sleep she'd had the
the face of that stare Fry simply had to give in. He shrugged and put
the bullet back in his pocket, making a mental note to check it up
once they got back home; the internet was always full of that sort of
information. He shook out his coat, smoothed back his hair and turned
to smile at Leela but she was already back in the bedroom, which left
him feeling a little silly. Fry made his way over to the door and
peered around the edge into the dim recesses of the room he’d
rarely seen before.
a moment the sight of two Leela’s sitting on the bed caused
strange ideas to roam through his mind and he stumbled, even though
he hadn’t been walking, and had to grab hold of the nearest
support to stop himself falling which, unfortunately, turned out to
be a small table just inside the door. The pressure of his fall
knocked it over and sent something flying into the room where it
landed with a loud smack.
women were staring at Fry as he righted himself. He tugged at his
coat and let out a nervous laugh, to which neither version of Leela
gave any reply except to look at the other with something like
think he’s cute?”
withholding judgement. Oh...” Blue stood up and rubbed her
temples, and then screwed her eye up and rubbed a shivery hand across
her face. “I feel like crap...”
will. These detox pills always go that way,” Leela replied as
she accompanied her counterpart, hands gripped around Blue’s
ill-defined biceps for just a moment, before she leaned over to pick
up the plastic vase Fry had sent flying and re-seated it on its table
by the door. Leela gave Fry a quick glance and a half-smile, probably
trying to encourage him somehow, then turned her attention back to
her other self.
I just have one-”
Leela took her counterpart’s arms by the wrists and held them
up. Blue struggled against Leela’s grip but her strength had
apparently wasted away over the weeks of her self-imposed isolation
to the point where she was barely able to even twist her arms free.
Leela grimace at the sight and quickly let go to spare herself the
embarrassment. “We need you sober.”
about my needs?”
need you sober. You aren’t going to get your job back if you’re
half way down a bottle of bourbon!”
Leela’s counterpart lowered her head and resumed rubbing her
temples. From Fry’s point of view it was obvious she wasn’t
in the best shape but Leela seemed intent on driving her forward, as
if she couldn’t stand to see herself in this state. Fry waited
by the door as Leela walked from the room, so deep in thought that
she didn't even look at Fry when she passed. Fry waited for Leela to
leave before he slipped inside the door and pushed it part-way
took a step toward the bed, where Blue was sitting down again,
shading her eye with her hands against the bright morning sunlight
that streamed in the window. Every now and then she winced as another
detox cycle kicked in.
opened her eye and looked at him. For a moment it seemed like she was
looking at him for the first time in her life which, in a way, was
you mean... what you said, last night?”
gave a non-committal shrug and looked away.
was drunk. Besides,” she said, giving him another appraising
look. “You're the first man I've really looked at for months.”
but did you... never mind.” Fry hovered by the bed, wanting to
sit down but worried it might be misinterpreted, until Blue patted
the bed beside her.
down.” She waited for Fry to slump onto the hard mattress and
then looked at him, eye tightening slightly as the detox pills went
to work again. “Since we're asking questions, maybe you can
answer one for me.”
anything.” Fry tried to smile. Blue had already looked away,
though, staring at her hands as she pressed them between her knees,
so vulnerable that Fry almost couldn't recognise her.
met my parents.” It wasn't a question. Fry nodded, though she
wasn't looking at him to see it. When she spoke it was almost as if
Fry wasn't there. “They looked a lot like me.”
yeah. If it wasn't for your mom's arms I would have trouble telling
you two... apart, hey...” Fry put his hand up to touch Blue's
shoulder but hesitated at the last minute as a tear ran down her
cheek. He wasn't sure how she'd react, didn't want to find out in a
painful way. Then she shook her head and scrubbed her arm across her
face to wipe away the tears, and even smiled a little.
said you were there with her.” Fry nodded again. Blue's brow
creased a little as if she were having a hard time concentrating.
“And you saved them?”
them from me, she didn't add.
Fry looked away, around the bedroom, not quite as spartan as the
living room but still virtually empty, with just a few mementos on
the walls and the ruffled bed giving any sign someone had ever lived
there. The air was dusty, the walls streaked with hints of grime and
grease that meant whatever normally kept the place clean was either
abandoned or no longer working.
I’m sorry.” He did touch her this time, lightly, on the
shoulder. Blue shivered at the touch. Or possibly because she was
still detoxing, Fry wasn't really sure. Her skin felt hot and
terribly dry. “I wasn’t there when you needed me. I
suppose I never am anyway, but your parents-”
words dried up in his throat as Blue's face closed up like a
don’t want to talk about it,” she said, and then turned
away again. Fry grunted assent, put his hands in his pockets and
shuffled back toward the door. Before opening it again he paused and
looked back at Blue.
always wanted to say...” he began, but the words jammed in his
throat. Leela... she wasn’t his Leela, but she was close enough
as to make no difference. Leela didn’t take his complements
very well most of the time. Say it, Fry! You’re
beautiful! “Uh... you have
corners of her mouth twitched slightly. Fry tried to smile as she
stood up, but all he managed was the same slightly ugly grimace,
which wasn’t helped by the way he’d slept the night
before. This Leela walked up to him, took a moment to look down at
her boots, then pushed past Fry and left the room. He sighed and
leaned his head against the door-frame, let the cool plasteel leech
away the heat from his flushed forehead. Why didn’t he just say
it wouldn’t have been right...
she needed to hear it from someone.
looked back into the living room, if it could really be called that.
They were talking and, every now and then, one or the other would
look his way like some species of freakishly tall one-eyed meerkat.
Fry felt his mouth drying out at the thought of what they might be
saying to each other about him – if
that’s what they were talking about.
I guess we should get going.” Leela walked up to Fry and put
her fists on her hips. “I made an appointment at the clinic on
forty-second and Quatzl, that should be anonymous enough.”
followed the pair toward the door and felt his guts begin to tangle
as they exited the apartment, but he was no longer sure whether it
was because of her or
because of something a little closer to home.