Stranger In A Strange Land, part 10
By La Belle Leela
“YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVELATION?”
(Planet Express Building, Monday - 08/08/3008, 1330 hours)
Three weeks had passed since the violent encounter with The Robot Devil, and a rogue Zapp Brannigan on Zuban-5. Work for the Planet Express employees returned to normal, Dave used most of the time to further recover his strength, a result of nearly dying from laser weapon fire. He mostly helped Professor Farnsworth out around the lab while he finished his convalescence.
A sharp knock on the front door broke Fry and Bender out of their state of relaxation on the couch. Hermes walked into the lounge, escorting a young dark-haired woman, sharply dressed in a smart-looking white, and gold dress uniform, and displaying the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade of The Democratic Order Of Planets, “Judge Advocate General” corps.
“Everyone, ‘dis is Lieutenant Sims. She’s ‘ere to interview all of you who went on ‘dat delivery to Zuban-5 last week.”announced Hermes.
Bender shifted his eyes sinisterly from side to side, while rummaging through his chest cabinet.
“Psst! Fry, I need you to hold something for me!” he said, as he passed a small, black bag in Fry’s direction.
“Okay, you want it in the mattress, or jar buried in the back alley?”Fry asked.
“Ahhh, just toss it in Zoidberg’s office. Nobody ever goes in there, heh heh!”
Zoidberg spoke from the next room. “IIII knowww, it’s true! BWAAAA AAAAHHHH!” he shrieked, while bawling his eyes out.
Hermes led everyone out into the kitchen/conference area, where Amy, Leela, and Dave were already seated. Hermes took his own seat, as he turned the meeting over to Lt. Sims.
“Good morning. My name is Lieutenant Jeannie Sims. The DOOP Judge Advocate General lead investigator has assigned me the task of interviewing all of you concerning last week’s incident on Zuban-5.”
Lt. Sims opened her briefcase, and removed some official looking forms.“I’ll need a written statement from all of you before I interview each person on an individual basis.”
She took care of the easiest interview first. Lt. Sims removed a 6-inch metal stick device from her briefcase, walked around the table to Bender, and inserted the device into the back of his head.
“Mr. Bender, please copy all relevant data, images, and video from the August 15, 3008 delivery mission to Zuban-5.”
Bender’s eyes flickered rapidly, and the sound of an audio tape squealing in rewind could be heard emanating from his mouth. The stick device ejected itself when the transfer was complete. “Thank you Mr. Bender, I’m finished with you.” Bender stood up, cracked open a fresh “Pabst Blue Robot”, and headed for the TV lounge. “Later flesh-piles!” he muttered, as he lit a cigar.
“Mister Philip J. Fry, I’ll speak with you next.” Lt. Sims said while scanning through some documents in her briefcase.
Fry couldn’t help but stare at her. She was downright gorgeous! Lt. Sims had long brown hair, that was tied up and back in a tight bun, military standard of course. She had a fair complexion, with small clusters of freckles on her cheeks, under her almond shaped eyes. Fry also noticed that she was well built. A shaped and toned physique, much in the same way Leela was. Lt. Sims was a bit taller, nearly as tall as the 6-foot 5-inch door frame.
Fry smiled, as he caught a whiff of the perfume the Lieutenant was wearing, as he followed her to Hermes’s office. He liked how she carried herself, casual, but with an air of authority, very dignified.
Lt. Sims briefly walked back to the conference area to retrieve one more item needed for the interview, when Leela got her attention.
“Will your interview with Fry take long Lieutenant? My pet, Nibbler needs a walk.” Lt. Sims stared at Leela’s unusual pet over in the corner, noisily grooming himself. “It should only take an hour at the most Miss Turanga. By all means, take your time, I can interview the others before you.”
Leela grabbed Nibbler’s leash, clipped the lead onto his collar, and headed for the door. Dave had just bounded up the stairs from the hangar bay, and stood in front of her. “Mind if I join you both Leela?” She smiled warmly, “Sure, I’d like that.” as Nibbler began to chatter excitedly.
The streets & sidewalks outside of the Planet Express building shimmered in the mid-day August heat. “Woooh! It’s like being back in Florida!” Dave remarked, as he pulled his red and silver #29 Kevin Harvick pit cap down low, to cut down some of the glare from the glass windows of the adjacent buildings.
“You ever been down to Florida in the summertime Leela?” Dave asked, as they crossed to the next block.
“Yeah, twice, unfortunately on business. It’s not really my favorite place to go for fun anyway, too many cranky old people, and the 30-foot Palmetto Bugs I guess.” she said with a slight giggle.
“Yeah, you got a point about that. But it’s not all bad, there’s some special places I’ve been to that are just beautiful. Dave paused for a moment after finishing.
Leela walked a few more feet before she noticed Dave stopped. “What wrong Dave? You feel ok?” she asked, with a cautionary tone. Dave saw by her eye movement, she was looking him all over to see if he was about to have some kind of emergency.
Dave stared at the sidewalk for a few seconds before bringing his eyes back up, and level with Leela’s eye. “Leela, I’ve got to tell you, Professor said that I wouldn’t be able to see, or hear anything while I was in that medical tube. He was half right. Leela, I have to say, I really liked that song you sang that night. I didn’t know you had such a beautiful voice!” He said, while grinning.
Her face broke into a huge grin, “Awwww”, she whispered, as she walked back towards where he stood, her left hand outstretched. “Come on, we better get back to give our statements.” as she gently took his right hand.
Dave and Leela walked hand in hand back towards the Planet Express building. The afternoon sun ducked behind a few fleeting clouds, as a quick breeze floated in from The East River.
“Thanks, I didn’t know why I sang that song, but I guess part of me believed that you’d hear it. It’s an aria from an old Neptunian opera. I first heard it as a little girl, and I’ve loved it ever since.”
A blast of cool air greeted them as they walked through the main entrance of The Planet Express building. Amy was now being interviewed by Lt. Sims, as the lighted sign on Hermes’s office door indicated “CHEWING OUT IN PROGRESS”.
Nibbler scampered off to do whatever, as Dave & Leela settled onto the couch in the TV lounge to watch Morbo, the news monster ranting loudly about how the voice talent for the widely popular animated TV series “The Simpletons” was putting the stops on their 63rd season by striking, due to the cast wanting a pay raise from 5.5 million per-episode, to 7.2 million.
Dave walked out to the small kitchenette area, and returned with two ice-cold bottles of beer. He sat beside Leela, snapped off the caps, and handed her one.
“I want to ask you something Leela.” Dave said, as he turned the TV’s volume down. He summoned all the courage he could find deep down, down in the very bottom of his heart.
“If you’re not doing anything this Friday, would you like to join me for dinner?”
Leela’s eye blinked rapidly, and she gasped suddenly, as if she had been underwater too long. Her mind raced, as she had been waiting for a moment like this for a very long time.
“Whoa! Whoa! I didn’t mean to scare you Leela, if I did, I’m sorry. It’s just that I fig-” Leela instantly placed both of her hands down on top of his, as she interrupted.
“Oh, no no no, I wasn’t, uh, I mean it’s not that Dave. You just kinda took me by surprise that’s all.” She said, giggling like a school girl. “Yeah,,,, of course! I’d love to Dave!”
Dave smiled back at her, with just as much excitement in his eyes. “Great. I had some help from Bender. He knows a guy who owns this place, , , Elzar’s is what it’s called, I think. Bender said the owner owed him a little favor. Sooo, Friday, 8pm sound good?”
Leela thought “A favor, for Bender? Blackmailed is more like it”She laughed it off. “Eight sounds just fine, and Elzar’s is a great place Dave. I can’t wait!”
Just about then, Amy walked out from giving her statement, followed by Lt. Sims. “David K. Murphy? I’ll take your statement next please.” as Leela jumped up from the couch, and ran out to the conference area to tell Amy the good news.
Zoidberg suddenly ran screaming the other way. Both of his pincer-tipped arms outstretched, and a large fin raised up on his head. Professor Farnsworth quickly gave chase in his Hover-recliner. Shaking one fist in anger, and holding a syringe in the other. “Get back here you idiotic invertebrate! If I don’t give you the antidote, it’s eventually going to fall off! STAND STILL!” Loud sounds of scuffling came from Professor’s lab, and he emerged a few moments later, covered in ink, and holding the empty syringe with it’s needle bent in several different angles.
(Robot Arms Apartments, Unit #00100100, Tuesday - 08/09/3008, 0500 hours)
Dave sat on the edge of the battered, old sofa in the center of the small apartment that Fry & Bender called home. He wrote a hastily prepared note on a bar napkin set on the makeshift coffee table, telling Fry that he was not going to be around the office today, that he had to go out and find a way to scare up some quick cash for a special “event” later in the week.
He barely had set the note down, and grabbed the keys to his hover-truck, when a bleary-eyed Philip J. Fry came stumbling into the living room, clad only in underpants. Fry noticed Dave heading for the door, the first splinters of daylight breaking through the large bay window.
“Dave, dude, where you goin’ this early?” he said sleepily. Dave mentioned to Fry that he’d left a note, but since he was awake, he’d might as well tell him.
“Phil, I need to go scare up some quick cash, so I was going to go sell some of my 20th century ‘antiques’. I don’t know how long I’ll be, so I probably won’t be around the office today.”
Fry laughed, “Cash? Heh!, what , you gotta date or something?”
Dave quietly replied “Yeah, this Friday, and I’ve got to get something decent to wear, and Elzar‘s isn‘t exactly Fishy Joe‘s-priced either.”
“Ohhhhhh, I get it! So, who’s the lucky lady?” asked Fry
Dave felt like he was treading on broken glass barefoot. There was no easy way to tell Fry about it, even though he felt like Fry should be the last person in the world to know.
He looked Phil straight in the eye. “Fry, I asked Leela out. I finally did it, and she said yes!”
Fry looked as if someone just slapped him, but only for a split-second.
“Oh, I see, um, okay. You might wanna try the Old Technology Museum over in the Nerdlinger District. After all the stuff I’ve sold em’, they outta have a wing named after me.”
And with that, Dave grabbed his keys, and headed out. Fry slumped onto the sofa, his eyes wandered over to the small framed picture across the room. The picture of him and Leela riding on Zoidberg’s back, it was the one he’d never forget. “Oh well, at least this time she isn’t going out with some self-centered jerk!” he muttered “But so help me god, if he hurts her!”
Fry sat on the couch for another hour before he woke up Bender. They had an early meeting today, and they needed to get going.
“Awhhhhah! I was having the most wonderful dream Fry.” Bender said, as he yawned and stretched his Extend-O-Matic arms.
“Lemme guess, you killed all the humans?” Fry asked.
“Hey, you’re good at this Fry. How’d you know?”
“Oh, lucky guess Bender, just lucky. C’mon, we don’t wanna keep Hermes, and his overly-detailed briefing waiting.” Fry said, as they exited the double doors of their apartment building, and headed in the direction of the Planet Express building.
Meanwhile, across town, the first rays of sunlight arced across the façade of an ordinary looking 10-storey apartment building. Through a wide panorama window, golden sunshine played across a sleeping human form under powder blue satin sheets. The sunlight crept further along, illuminating a mane of long, purple hair.
The warm sunbeam shining through the window caressed Leela’s face, as she began to awake. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep, at least not without the aid of a sleeping pill, or a few shots of Sewervo Gold. Leela smiled as she admired the cloudless, deep blue morning sky contrasting against the New New York skyline. She stood, and stretched. Soft popping sounds came from her neck and back, as she stretched her arms up to the ceiling, and rolled her head in a clockwise motion.
Nibbler jumped up on the foot of the bed, begging hungrily. “Oh boyyy! I know who’s hunnngryyyy!” Leela said smiling, as she scratched him behind the ear. Nibbler ran excitedly out to the kitchen, as Leela pulled on a pink robe over her rumpled pajamas. She winced at the sight of the robe’s threadbare sleeves, and the few other places it had worn spots.
As Nibbler feasted happily on a huge, raw ham, Leela quickly showered, and dressed for work. She thought of her mother, as she looked at herself in the mirror while pulling her hair up into her usual ponytail. “Mom was right, the bangs do look better pulled to the left.”
Leela stepped out of the apartment building, attached the small leash to Nibbler’s collar, and headed for work. Miss Hattie, Leela’s landlady was yelling furiously at a sanitation worker. She always yelled at the garbage men, for either making too much noise, or not enough noise. “Oh lord, I hope she doesn’t start throwing her cats at em’ like last week.” Leela thought, as she crossed the street.
A large billboard on a roof across the street caught Leela’s attention. “Polygamy! Hey, It’s Legal Now!”which featured a single, tuxedoed man, and dozens of women in bridal gowns waving excitedly. She had a fleeting thought about marriage. It was the farthest thing in her mind, but it was still something she felt a strong desire for. A loving relationship, kids, family life, Leela still asked herself every now & then if those things would ever come to her.
“One step at a time. Remember, you do have a date Friday night!”Leela’s spirits immediately perked up as she thought about Dave. Her mind raced as she started running down the list in her mind of what she was going to wear, what should she do with her hair, did she have any of that special perfume from Dionysus-12 left?
Leela‘s internal dialogue continued to battle on. “Ohhh no, I really do have a date! Maybe I’m rushing into things again. All those other guys wanted only one thing, I wound up getting used. I don’t want to be hurt anymore. Leela wished her mom was there to calm her down.
(Planet Express Building, Tuesday, 08/23/3008 - 0715 hours)
The entire Planet Express crew assembled at the conference table. Hermes walked in carrying several 8x10 manila envelopes, all bearing the official seal of The Democratic Order Of Planets.
“Alright people! Most of you ‘ave been subpoenaed by da DOOP to testify in a court-martial on Thursday, September 1st.” said Hermes, as he dealt the envelopes out to their respective recipients like poker cards. “Where is Mista Murphy? he’s included in ‘dis as well.” he said in his hearty Jamaican accent.
“Oh, he had to go run some personal errands. He said he’d come by a little later and hang out.” Fry added.
“Dat man’s lucky he don’ work here. I’m handin’ out subpoenas! It’s one of da tings a Bureaucrat loves to do! Why I’d fire him for not being ‘ere to get served with this faster that a brush fire in a sugar cane field!!!” Hermes said, as he angrily waved the remaining letter in the air.
“Allllright Rasta mon! Calm down. When he gets here, I’ll give it to him.”Leela assured him.
“Good news everyone!” Shouted Farnsworth, as he shuffled back into the TV lounge. “I finally repaired the malfunctioning matter transporter! Come on out, let me show you!” as he cackled madly.
The entire Planet Express crew assembled down on the hangar floor in front of the huge steel ring at the top of a wide loading ramp. Banks of computers on either side whirred, beeped, and emitted a steady hum from their cooling fans.
“I finally managed to configure the transporter to send items back and forth through the space-time continuum. Here, I’ll mail this package to myself in the year 2950.”
Professor Farnsworth attached a ‘signature required’ document in a tube onto the box. He typed the destination into the computer, and the transporter’s ringed portal flared to life. He gently placed the box into the swirling electric blue portal, and it was forcefully sucked from his hands.
After a few moments, the swirling electric blue mass came to life again. A small plastic cylinder ejected from the portal, Farnsworth grabbed it. Upon opening the tube, he showed everyone his younger self’s signature, indicating the package’s successful transaction.
“STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING!” A deep baritone voice echoed across the hangar. Everyone looked around to find the source, when the voice spoke again.
Nibbler was standing on the conference table dressed in a light blue military-style uniform, a tiny phazer pistol gripped in his paw. “If you use that device to send him back, there will be dire consequences for the entire universe!” His speech was cut short by several blasts of water from a squirt bottle Leela was holding.
“NO, bad Nibbler! No table! No table, down, down, down!” She yelled as she shooed him off of the conference table. The little black and white creature made a beeline for the matter transporter.
“Ohhh sure, squirt him when he jumps on the table, but when it’s my machine, oooh, let’s let him do as he pleases!”Farnsworth grumbled, as Nibbler scampered across the computer consoles.
Nibbler directed his steely gaze at everyone standing around the transporter.“I tell you all, the device must not be used! He must not be returned! For as we speak, malevolent forces are conspiring to usher in a new, and terrifying era of death and destruction, not just to Earth, but the known universe as we know it!”
Nobody said a word, the silence grew extremely uncomfortable. Finally, Leela spoke. “What are you talking about? Return who? Your not making any sense!”
Nibbler was muttering to himself, as he scratched his chin. “He must not yet know.”
“Not know what yet? Is this some sort of Nibblonian prophecy thing again?”said Leela, sounding more concerned.
“Yes Leela! Our seers have foreseen a horrible event. The forces conspiring against Earth, and the universe are being led by three evil beings. One Human, One Robot, and one unknown from a galaxy far, far away!”
Leela and the others looked very much perplexed. Nibbler’s revelation had clearly confused them.
“But who are the ones you say will fight them?” asked Fry. “You are ‘The Mighty One‘. Your lack of the Delta brain-wave makes you immune to psyonic attack, Philip J. Fry.” Fry recoiled a bit, as he was not used to being called by his full name.
“Turanga Leela, you are ‘The Other‘. We discovered you many years ago. A child of destiny, who would grow in solitude, and with much difficulty. We believe that your strong resolve, your leadership, and your unwavering faithfulness to those you love, are indicators of what ‘The Other’ would possess. You are destined to lead this fight.” Nibbler said.
“So who’s the third hero in this whole crapshoot eh? I think it might be some kinda bending robot!” Bender said excitedly, as he lit an enormous Kooparillo cigar.
“The third one, the being known as David Murphy, he is “The Other, Other”. I was responsible for bringing him here, not Bender’s tomfoolery, which you were all led to believe.” the little creature admitted.
“But why the secrecy Nibbler? Why didn’t you tell us two and a half months ago when he arrived here?” Leela said, looking more agitated.
“I knew that Professor Farnsworth could have repaired his matter transporter within hours of Mr. Murphy’s arrival, and could have returned him to the year 2008 before he regained consciousness. That was a chance I couldn’t risk. I had to keep disabling the transporter to keep him here.”
Amy blurted out “What makes the three of them the special chosen ones?”
Nibbler’s answer stunned them all. “My superiors would have me imprisoned for eons if this information leaked out to the wrong individuals. What I say never leaves this room. There is an energy force that originated on my home planet, Eternium. It was there before my race was created, and about 25 minutes before the known universes! It is a conscious being, and it is believed that this force helped create every single known universe. It’s energy flows through every living thing. It is sentient, it feels the delicate balance of good and evil. A thousand years ago, it sensed a great evil gathering. The high seers of Eternium were told of three individuals that would rise to battle the evil. Exactly what makes you three special is unknown. It is inside your very souls, you cannot see it, or feel it.
Leela had to sit down, this was just too weird to believe. Her mind was flying again, faster than an IASRA pro-circuit racing vessel. In a flash, she jumped to her feet, yelling angrily at Nibbler.
“Why me Nibbler? WHY NOW? Just when I think my life couldn’t get any more complex, you just drop this bomb on me, out of nowhere, and you just think I can comprehend it? I can’t be the savior for one universe, let alone them all! AHHHHH! She screamed as she pressed her hands against the sides of her head, grimacing with her eye closed tightly.
Nibbler began to explain why things were the way they were, but Leela wasn’t in the mood for his overly-technical explanation. She reacted in a way that scared all in the room. Growling angrily, Leela picked up her now empty coffee mug, hurling it like a major-league Blernsball pitcher would, right against the wall, the crash of broken ceramic echoing across the hangar. She was absolutely livid!
“I need to get out of here, before I go completely insane!” she said, sounding very upset, her voice strained from her outburst. Her eye was wide with rage, Fry could have sworn he saw what looked like flames in her cornea, for all but a fraction of a second.
The remaining Planet Express employees all looked at Nibbler. He looked down, very dejected, speaking softly to the group. He began to retreat slowly to his makeshift pile of bedding in the corner that Leela had lovingly made by sewing old carpet remnants together. “If this continues, then there will be no hope for anyone, anywhere.”
A few hours later, the distinct whine of Dave’s hover-truck resounded at the back of the hangar near the roll-up door. He opted to leave his truck outside the building, since more often than not, one of Professor Farnsworth’s malfunctioning inventions came close to damaging it.
Fry, Bender, and Amy were camped out on the sofa, in the usual way, enjoying the latest episode of “All My Circuits”.
“Hey guys, what’s up?” Dave greeted them, as he flipped off his sunglasses. Fry attempted a quick“whattup”while guzzling a Slurm at the same time.
“Will you shut the hell up meatbag! Calculon’s trying to give his own eulogy again!” ranted Bender. Amy glanced up at Dave, but said nothing. She slumped against the side of the couch’s armrest, with a look of sadness on her normally cheerful face.
Dave walked out into the hangar, expecting to find Leela busy doing something to the ship. Except for a small light above the stove in the kitchenette, the hangar was pitch black. Small green and red LEDs glowed in the distance, indicating ground power cables were connected to the ship. “Leela? Are you out here?” he called.
He turned to walk back to the TV lounge, but saw Amy’s silhouetted figure standing in the doorway. “Hey Amy, you seen Leela around?” A deep male voice came from the darkness behind him, scaring him a little.
“She has gone.” the voice said. A small white glowing orb started moving closer. It grew brighter as it came closer. Dave and Amy could see it was Nibbler. His third eye atop his head emitted the strange white glow. “Have a seat Mr. Murphy.”
Dave’s eyes got wide from the surprise. He’d never heard, let alone knew that Nibbler could talk. “Amyyyy, did Nibbler just speak in perfect English?”
“Spluuuh, he never shuts up!” She said, slumping in her seat, arms folded.
“Listen very closely to what I must tell you David Murphy. For you must know why you’re here.”
Nibbler re-told Dave about what destiny has charged him, Fry, and Leela with. Nibbler scooched back a little, expecting to be strangled, like Fry had done to him, when he told Dave it was him who used Farnsworth’s matter transporter to bring him a thousand years into the future, and not Bender’s fault.
Dave could feel bile rising in his throat, he was that angry. “So let me get this straight, you brought me 1,000 years into the future, away from my family, who I may never see again, to a strange city, where I know absolutely no-one. Am I right so far?” Dave said, his face showing the increasing rage in the pale light from Nibbler’s lighted orb.
“Please, you must understand. I’m merely a soldier following orders. Surely someone from a military background like you can understand that.”
“Of course! I understand perfectly!” Dave hissed, as he reached out & grabbed Nibbler by the throat.
“Then,,,(cough) why,,,,are,,,you,,,choking,,,me?” Nibbler spluttered, as Dave was now gripping the little creature around the neck, shaking him in the air.
“Because, I HATE BEING USED!” Dave growled, as he loosened his grip on Nibbler’s throat.
Dave slumped back down in his chair. He felt bad for choking Nibbler, and apologized. He turned to Amy.
“How did Fry, and Leela take this good news?”
Amy sat up “Fry didn’t seem too upset, but Leela went psycho-tronic, and stormed out.”
“Where is she now?” Dave asked, sounding very concerned.
Bender interjected “Who, Big Boots? She went where she always goes when life goes upside her head, The Sewers!”, the darkness turning to bright light, as Bender let loose a huge alcohol-fueled flaming belch.
Dave bolted from his seat, drawing Fry’s attention as he sprinted past the lounge, and out the door to the alley where his truck was parked. The reality of Nibbler’s revelation still angered Dave, not just because he had become a pawn in some galactic chess match, but it had also seriously upset Leela.
Furiously digging though his personal effects inside the truck, Dave searched for rope, a flashlight, and anything else that could aid him underground. He retrieved his battered old MagLite D-cell flashlight, and a few road flares that were hiding under the seats.
Fry met him as he walked back into the building. “ I heard what Nibbler told you. Looks like we’re all in this thing together.”
Dave gave Fry a pensive look, and tried to calm himself. “Yeah, I’d feel much better if could talk to Leela about this. There’s gotta be hundreds of miles of sewer pipe under this city, where could she have gone?”
“Oh, well, if I know Leela, she went to her Mom & Dad’s place. Everyone calls it a sewer, but it used to be Old New York, where I grew up. You’ve never seen Old New York have you?”
“No,,, well, technically yes Fry, back around 1991, before my family moved to Florida.” Dave replied.
Fry’s eyes brightened, “C’mon, I’ll show you where they live. Her folks are pretty cool too, you’ll like them.”
(The Decaying Ruins of Old New York - Tuesday 08/09/3008, 1445 hours)
Dave jammed the end of the steel pry bar into the edge of the manhole cover. He gave a mighty pull to raise the cover, but as soon as he put pressure on the bar, the cover automatically retracted.
Fry entered the hole first, as he’d done several times before. They only descended the ladder a few feet, before the foul odor of raw sewage, and decay filled their nostrils.
“Dave, if you’re gonna puke, try an’ tilt your head that way, so I don’t get hit.” Fry said.
“Aw hell, I’ve smelled worse Phil. It’s gonna take a lot more than raw sewage & rotten garbage to make me sick.” Dave answered.
When the two of them reached the bottom of the ladder, Dave clicked the flashlight on. He was glad he’d converted it to LED bulbs, since the darkness seemed to go on forever.
“I know the way. Two rights, then a left, and straight on, until we come to the town.” Fry said, as Dave handed him the flashlight.
They turned the first corner, two objects were casting shadows at the end of the dimly lit tunnel. Dave could tell they were moving. “How many people live down here Phil?” Fry told Dave about how only mutants lived in the sewers, and how they were forbidden from coming above ground.
One of the shadowy figures lit a torch. Dave’s left hand instinctively reached into his right armpit, but Fry saw what he was doing, “Wait, no need for that just yet, let’s see who they are first.”
Dave and Fry walked another 30 or 40 yards. The mutants began to come into better view. Dave could see the one holding the torch. This one was tall, at least 7 feet, and had strange appendages sticking out of his head. Finally, they came within 10 feet or so of each other.
“Philip Fry, is that you?” a gravely feminine voice called out. Fry pointed the flashlight at her. She had pale green scaly skin, a pig nose, what appeared to be gills, and she had a long cigarette hanging out of the corner of her mouth.
Fry instantly recognized, and greeted them. “Hey Vyolet, hey Moose, whattup?” . Fry slapped high-fives with both of them, as if it was a reunion. “Heyyyyy, (snort) who’s your friend here? He’s cute!” said Vyolet.
“Vy, Moose, this is Dave, Professor hired him a few months ago. He’s a mechanic or something.” Dave apprehensively extended his hand to the two mutants. Vyolet’s hand was cold, scaly and dry, and reeking of tobacco. Moose on the other hand, well, he had hands like big furry baseball gloves. “Nice to meet you two. Fry tells me there’s a whole city down here.”
“So, (snort) what brings you two down here? You guys on a delivery or something?(snort)”
Fry’s face went slack. “Uh, no, not exactly. We’re looking for Leela. You two haven’t seen her by any chance have you?”
Vyolet lit another cigarette from the torch. “Nah, sure haven’t Fry. Is she in some kinda trouble?(snort)”
“No no, she’s just real upset about something, and ran off before we could talk to her.” Dave interjected.
Vyolet pointed in the direction they came from. “You might wanna (snort) ask her parents, Morris & Munda should be home.”
Fry and Dave thanked Moose and Vyolet as they parted ways. “C’mon Moose (snort) the surface garbage n’ crap ain’t gonna find itself!(snort)” Dave could hear Moose answer a low “Duhhh, okay”as they walked off.
About 500 feet down the tunnel, Dave and Fry made the second right turn. They went left down a larger tunnel soon after, and it opened up into a sight that took Dave’s breath away.
They were standing across the street from what used to be 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The skyscrapers Dave remembered walking past all those years ago, had all but been reduced to mountains of concrete & reinforcing steel rubble. “C’mon, the house is this way.” Fry pointed out.
After walking for the better part of an hour, in what used to be a thriving, 24-hour metropolis, they walked down a wooden boardwalk, over a glowing green lake, and through a gaping hole in a concrete foundation wall, they found a settlement.
Huge torches, and trash can fires glowed eerily everywhere. The sound of dripping water echoed all around them. It was a dank and humid place, combined with the stench of the ruins. “Geez Fry, it’s gonna take a week to scrub this stink off me!” Dave said, sounding disgusted.
They walked on, after a few more right, and left turns, they found the boardwalk they were looking for. “This is the place”said Fry. No lights could be seen through the grime, and dust caked windows. The two-level home’s roof sagged in the middle. Dave looked at all the houses up and down both sides of the canal. All the structures looked seriously dilapidated, but he could see the mutants had done some amazing restoration work, with what little resources that were available to them.
Fry knocked three times on the door “Just let me do the talking.” a few seconds later, the door opened. A one-eyed, balding, middle-aged man with a mouth turned 90-degrees to where it should be greeted them. “What? I didn’t order any strippers!” He said jokingly. “Hello Fry, good to see you again! Who’s your friend?” Fry shook the man’s hand, and gestured to Dave “Whattup Morris, this is Dave. He’s from the 20st century, like me.” Morris’s eye widened upon hearing that name.
“Is it him?, I mean, it is you! You rescued my daughter! Please, come in, come in!” He said, practically pulling the two of them through the rotted & delaminated door.
“Munda! Come in here, it’s him!” Morris exclaimed.
Munda walked into the living room. “You wanna keep it down Morris, you’ll wake Leela up!”
She loudly whispered at him. “Ohh, hello Fry! Always nice to see you. “gasp!” is that him Morris?” she said, as she stared at Dave. “Yes dear, this is the guy who saved our little girl!” Morris said, beaming proudly.
Dave smiled, and grasped Munda’s hand gently. “It’s very nice to meet both of you. Leela always speaks very highly of you both.”
She ushered Dave and Fry over to the sofa “Please, have a seat you two, I’ll get coffee.” as she turned back towards the kitchen.
Morris looked rather somber all of the sudden. “Leela’s upstairs resting. She’s very upset about something, but she’s ok.”
“That’s why we’re here. There’s a thing that sorta involves all three of us.” Fry explained. “I haven’t seen her get that angry so fast in a long time.”
Munda came back into the living room carrying a tray with the coffee. Dave, and Fry gratefully accepted a cup. Dave tried to hide the little wince he involuntarily made from the slightly bitter coffee. “Wooh, it’s a little hot there, thanks.”
Dave re-told Leela’s parents about the night he had saved her from the two attackers. They were both trembling as he then explained everything that happened on the false delivery to Zuban-5. Munda would cover her mouth with one of her tentacle-arms every now and then, to stifle her numerous “oh my gawd!” outbursts.
“Amy and Kif were the real saviors that day. If they hadn’t crashed the ship into Robot Hell, we’d have all been goners! Dave said.
Munda turned to Fry. “Fry, why don’t you go up and see if Leela’s feeling better. Maybe talk to her a bit. She’ll probably be glad to see you.”
Fry’s face brightened up as he headed for the stairs. With him out of the room, Morris, and Munda could ask Dave some more serious questions.
“Dave, Leela’s told us a lot about you. She’s given us the impression that both of you are quite fond of each other. Munda said.
Dave responded, smiling a little, “Yeah, she’s really something special! When I was brought here from 2008, I had no idea what to expect. I had no home, no family, no friends. Everyone at Planet Express has been great, they’ve treated me like one of their own. I never knew there were people in the world who still cared like that. Leela didn’t say anything to me at first, but I think that was because she didn’t know how I’d react to her physical appearance.”
Dave continued, “But that first day, after I awoke from the crash, I just remember lying there, and seeing her standing by the window watching the sunrise. How the light hit her, it was just perfect, I hadn’t seen any other woman that beautiful.”
The room fell eerily quiet. Morris and Munda didn’t make a sound.“Hard to believe, it’s only been 3 months, and already both of us have been involved in life-threatening situations. If Leela hadn’t been there with me on Zuban-5 when I got shot, I don’t think I would have survived.”
“Over the past two months, I’ve gotten to know Leela very well. I have to say, in addition to being extremely beautiful, I love how she carries herself. I’ve watched her get focused on something, and she will fight like hell to win, no matter what! She’s so intelligent, articulate, she has a great sense of humor, and like me, she loves to fly!” Dave said, now bearing a smile that stretched nearly the width of his face!
Morris wiped away a tear from the corner of his eye on his sweater vest sleeve. “Ohh, man, if that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is!”
“We don’t want to sound condescending to you Dave, but you must know that Leela’s been in some really bad relationships. She‘s been hurt a lot.” Munda explained.
“I love my little girl, and even though we’ve only known been re-united with her for a few years, it just kills us inside to see her suffer when one boyfriend after another treats her good at first, but then kicks her to the curb when they get tired of her. Her poor heart can’t take that kind of treatment over and over again.”
Dave solemnly explained how love had nearly ruined his life as well. How his fiancée, Dao had left him for no reason, and as a result, life didn’t mean much to him after that.
“So, please believe me, I know how much love can tear a person up inside when it goes bad. Now that you both know about my past, I want to swear to the two of you that my feelings, and my intentions towards Leela are unwavering. I would never forgive myself for hurting her. I’ve seen how caring, and warm-hearted Leela is, and that’s the woman I want to be with!
Their conversation was interrupted by Fry’s footsteps clomping down the staircase. A loud wooden ‘crunch’ sounded as Fry got near the bottom, followed by ‘sorry!’. Fry sat back down on the couch. “She’s feeling better, I think she’ll be okay.”. He looked at Dave, “and she wants to talk to you.”
Morris and Munda whispered quietly “Go on, go on!” both smiling, as they looked at him, and then at each other happily.
Stepping over the wooden plank Fry snapped, Dave climbed the rickety staircase. Nails protruded haphazardly out of the banister, snagging his pant leg every few steps. There were only two rooms upstairs, one with it’s door open, showed nobody home, so Dave faced the other, and knocked softly on the closed door. “I’m here Leela? You okay?” The door’s handle turned, and popped open. Leela was still misty-eyed a little, but smiled willingly when she saw him.
Once inside the room, they hugged each other tightly. “Thanks for coming down here with Fry, I guess Nibbler told you everything huh?”
“Yeah, but that’s only half the problem, from what I gathered.”Dave replied, as they let go.
They both sat at the foot of the queen-sized bed. The mattress’s springs squeaked loudly, and a fine cloud of dust rose from the duvet covering it.
“I’m really sorry Dave. I guess my history of being dumped still bothers me a lot. I really got scared this morning when I remembered that we have a date on Friday. The revelation from Nibbler just pushed me over the edge.”
Dave gently squeezed her hand. “That’s perfectly understandable Leela. You certainly didn’t deserve to be treated like that, no woman does! As for Nibbler, I freaked when told me that I wasn’t transported here by accident.”
“Yeah, it wasn’t Professor Farnsworth‘s, or even Bender’s fault. Nibbler admitted to modifying the transporter to find me out, and bring me here, Bender was just a scapegoat. Turns out, The Professor repaired the device several times over, Nibbler had to keep sabotaging it, so I couldn’t immediately go back to 2008.”
Dave’s eyes dropped to the dirty floor as he paused. “If you don’t want to go out with me Friday night,,, I understand. I don’t want to do anything that could ruin our friendship Leela.”
Leela was about to answer him, when Munda knocked on the door, jarring it open a little. “Sorry kids, I didn’t mean to interrupt. Dave, could I speak to Leela alone for a moment?”Dave looked back at Leela, he still had her hand in his. “Of course, I’ll just go see what Fry’s up to downstairs.” he said, and he let go of Leela’s soft, warm hand.
Dave descended the rickety staircase, the nails now pulled at his left pant leg, as he stepped back over the broken plank. Fry and Morris were talking Blernsball in the living room. Morris was gripping the neck of an empty beer bottle to imitate something a legendary player, who’s name Dave never heard, did ten seasons ago.
Back upstairs, Munda was relieved that Leela was feeling better. “Sooo, what’s on your mind dear? Talk to me.” Munda said, with her typical motherly smile.
“I don’t know Mom, I’m still trying to make my mind up about Dave.”
Munda rested a tentacle on her daughter’s shoulder. “Leelaaa, I know it’s hard, this is something you have look deep inside yourself for the right answer. I have some advice if you’d like.”
“Leela, I know you’ve wanted to be with someone who’s powerful, who’s rich, who’s a status-symbol. You honestly have to look deep inside yourself, and ask yourself,,, is this really what I want, and is it really worth it?”
“I know Mom. Those are the guys I’ve wanted to be with for as long as I can remember. They were great at first, but they were all jerks in the end! Leela said angrily, the stress wrinkle on her forehead deepening.
“That’s right! Do you know why they were all jerks Leela?”
“No Mom, I don’t. I always thought it was because of my sweaty boot rash?”
“No dear, it’s because they all have the same thing in common. They sold their souls, so to speak, to get their power, to get their wealth. They don’t care about anything but themselves. They see a gorgeous young woman, such as you, and they only see an object to show off, to make others jealous, like a piece of rare artwork, or an exotic sports hover-car. Once they see another woman who they think looks better to them, they toss you away, like the garbage they do! Shmucks!” Munda said bitterly, as she spat on the floor.
“Tell me, how do you feel about him?”
“Dave’s a great guy Mom! He’s mature, easy going, intelligent, mechanically inclined, and the way he hurt that guy in the alley, wow!”
Munda interrupted, “No, no dear, I mean, what are your feelings for him like?”
“Oh, well, It’s kinda like, well, sorta like I can be myself with him. He likes to compliment me, he tells me all the time how beautiful I look. He makes me feel really good about myself, and I think it’s wonderful that he‘s not bothered by the little things. What I don’t know is if he’s really being 100% honest with me, that, and he’ll sometimes rush into something without thinking. That‘s really all I can think of. When he asked me out, I felt like I was rushing into another bad relationship again. That’s partially the reason why I flipped out at work.
“Okay, so he’s not perfect, but then, who is?
Munda continued, “Leela, you father and I spent the better part of several hours down there with Fry, and that handsome young man. Dave poured out his heart, his feelings, and devotion towards you. The last time I heard someone talk about a woman like that, it was that poetry you father wrote me all those years ago!” Munda said, blushing a little.
Leela managed to display a tiny smile, as her Mother told her about what transpired downstairs earlier.
“Mom, Dad wrote you dirty limericks after drinking two bottles of tequila!”Leela said, giggling.
“That’s my point dear. You father’s far from perfect. He isn’t powerful, he’s not rich, but he’s more special to me that any other man in the universe, because he makes me happy, he makes me feel loved Leela! Every single day that we’re together is a blessing from above!”
Leela looked up at her Mother’s face, glowing with same pride she felt for her daughter now, as she did long ago on the night she was born.
“Believe me Leela, find the one who makes you happy, who makes you feel loved, and you’ll never regret it! No amount of power, or money in existence can beat it!”
Leela’s eye started to tear up again, and she flopped back against the mattress, hand pressed against her forehead. “I think you have a point there Mom. I feel like such an idiot!”
“But your not an idiot dear! We all make mistakes, it’s part of being human. You live and you learn hon! Not learning from your mistakes would make you the idiot, and I know how intelligent my daughter is!”
“I don’t know what to say, you’re absolutely right Mom!”Leela said, as she fought back a sob.
“It’s alright dear,” Munda said, as she hugged Leela. “I know you’ll do the right thing. You’re a Turanga, great inner strength runs in our family.”
Munda held onto Leela’s hand as she stood up again. She had one more piece of advice to give.
“I saw it in his eyes Leela, I believe him. Why don’t you give him a chance? Go out, have a good time, talk to him, get to know him better, you might be surprised!”
Leela headed for the door, “Excuse me Mom, I’ve got something to say to a certain someone downstairs!” she exclaimed, smiling so big, it showed most of her teeth.
Munda sat alone in the bedroom for a minute to think. “Well, if he does break her heart,,, I’ll personally see to it he gets fed to the crocodiles!” as she smiled contently.
Down in the living room, Fry was doing his drunken Frenchman routine for Morris, who was on the floor laughing hysterically, so much so he didn’t notice Leela enter the room, until Dave stood up from his seat, and called her name.
Leela stepped over her father, right over to where Dave stood, and threw her arms around his neck, embracing him even tighter than the day he was released from the Professor’s Heal-O-Matic tank.
As the two of them stood there, holding each other as if the Earth was slated for demolition in a hour, Leela was planting kisses on his right cheek. She whispered softly in Dave’s ear.
“I think everything’s gonna work out just fine! You better have something nice to wear Friday night mister!” She said with another small giggle.
Dave, Leela, and Fry stayed in the company of Morris and Munda for a little while longer. Mostly because Dave was so fascinated with how the mutant society had managed to survive with little influence from the surface world.
Leela glanced up at the clock on the wall. “Oh my! It’s after 10pm! We’ll have to use the hidden passage below Little Neptune to get back to the surface. It’s a little out of the way, but it’s the only safe way back up without getting caught.!”
They said their good-byes to Morris and Munda, and headed for the front door. “Oooh, Leela, wait a minute!” Munda called out. Dave and Fry waited just outside the door.
“Leela, I have something I think you’ll find very useful on Friday night.” Munda said, as she removed a dusty garment bag from a hanger in the closet.
Leela took the bag from her Mother. Unzipping it, she gasped loudly upon seeing what was inside. The garment bag held a beautiful burgundy-colored satin evening gown. Leela held it up, she recognized it’s low-cut front, strapless back, and small circular cutout at the navel. The matching formal gloves confirmed what Leela knew. She remembered this dress. It was the one she wore the night Fry performed the opera he had written for her. She hadn’t found the courage to wear it since then.
“Mom,,, I’m speechless, I completely forgot I still had it. Thanks for holding on to it for me. I think I’m ready to give it a second chance. After all, it’s one of my favorites!”
“You’re very welcome sweetie! You two have fun. Oh, and if things go well, how about you two come down Sunday morning for coffee?” Leela hugged, and kissed Munda, “That sounds great Mom! We’ll talk it over, I’ll be in touch.“, then she headed out to re-join Dave and Fry.
It was nearly a 7 mile detour to the part of the sewers that connected to Little Neptune. They jumped from several piles of decomposed building material. Dave suddenly stopped, staring off into the distance.
“What is it Dave? You see something?” Leela asked
“Nah, thought I saw something I remembered from the 20th. Let’s get outta here.”
Little Neptune was built over what used to be lower Manhattan. Ruined, and collapsed buildings choked the streets. Dave pointed his flashlight at different angles to try and find a street sign. Dave saw they were heading south on Hudson St. They were walking towards the financial district, when a crumpled glass and steel tower came into view.
“Wait a sec, I know that building. It’s Freedom Tower! So they did finish building it!”
“Freedom Tower? Never heard of it Dave, what is it?” asked Fry.
Dave suddenly remembered, Fry got frozen at the turn of the century. Over a year and a half before the terrible events of September 11th, 2001.
“You were frozen when it happened Phil.” Dave said, as they drew closer to the collapsed tower. “Freedom Tower was built after one of the worst days in American history that I will never forget.” They stopped walking. Leela pointed her flashlight at a dull metal plaque mounted on a block of crumbling granite. The centuries had corroded, and worn away anything legible on it. She shone the light from side to side. They all noticed two huge, square depressions in the ground. Both now eroded, and filled with sewer water, like roofless bunkers.
“Guys,,, this is the World Trade Center Memorial!” Dave began to re-tell the horrific events of that tragic day. Events he saw happen live on his TV that morning.
“That’s so sad Dave, but people haven’t lived, or worked down here in almost 500 years. You might be the only one left who remembers what this place stood for.” Leela lamented.
They paused in front of the memorial for a few more minutes, as Dave silently prayed. One of his best childhood friends was an NYFD fire-fighter, who died trying to get people out of Tower 2 when it collapsed. “God bless ya Mikey! Wherever you are!”
The trio walked east towards the secret entrance up to New New York. They headed down what appeared to be Chambers St, towards what used to be Chinatown.
Dave broke the silence again as they crossed Broadway, and onto Fulton.“Hey guys, what’s an aircraft carrier doing in midtown?”
A huge black wall of steel, well over 1,000ft long, lay in front of them. The great ship leaned over on it’s port side. It’s flight deck collapsed in the middle, and numerous jagged holes punctuated it’s hull. The ship’s huge island structure tilted dangerously close to the edge of the flight deck, as if it was ready to collapse to the ground.
Through the centuries of corrosion, and grime, a name plate welded across the front of the bow bore rusty, orange-colored raised lettering.
“USS ENTERPRISE - CVAN-65”
Leela was tapping information into the computer on her wrist. “According to my wrist-thingy, it says the USS Enterprise was displayed as the centerpiece of a huge military memorial park in 2211, built by President George X. Bush IV.”
On the ground beside the great warship, a huge concrete pad displayed what appeared to be the severely corroded remains of a dozen or more aircraft. One aircraft at the back of the group didn’t appear to be in same dreadful condition as the rest.
Dave instantly recognized the aircraft from it’s sleek side profile. It’s twin vertical stabilizers, and variable-geometry wings immediately gave it away. “Good lord! It’s a Tomcat!”Dave exclaimed.
Dave shined his flashlight all over the fuselage. The F-14 was covered in a thick, black stone-like substance.
Leela flipped out a small scanning device from her wrist computer, and ran it over a small part of the black material.
“Hmmmm, it says this stuff’s been fired from an XKF Industries M454 Carbonite Rifle. Something, or someone must have been using the aircraft as target practice.”
“XKF Industries? Never heard of them.” Dave said
“They’re the biggest defense contractor in the Western Hemisphere. They’re also the primary supplier for DOOP, and several other planetary armed forces.” Leela explained.
Leela explained further. “Carbonite is an excellent preservative. The whole aircraft’s covered in it.”
“Hey, c’mon you two, let’s get back already!” Fry yelled.
They finally located the access ladder to the hidden sewer grate in Little Neptune. A small crowd of mutants was milling around, each waiting their turn to climb up to New New York.
“Youse guys has to waits your turn!” A fat, slovenly mutant growled, as they walked up to the ladder.
Leela instantly reached out, landing a solid judo-chop to the mutant’s neck, then a powerful side-kick to his bulbous gut. “Sorry, I must have slipped on this wet pavement!” she said smugly.
“She’s so great!” Fry whispered to Dave.
“Yeah, It’s good to see her up & kicking butt again!” Dave replied with a laugh.
The three exited the sewers in a dark alley behind a small bodega. It was nearly midnight, and there were few pedestrians out, as they walked back towards Robot Arms. Dave was still thinking about seeing that F-14 down in the sewers. It sounded like something only a madman would dream of, “maybe The Professor & me could do something with it. Make it fly again!” Dave laughed as he shook the ridiculous thought out of his mind. He hadn’t flown an aircraft since 1998. That was a little Cessna 182, this was an enormously-complex, multi-million dollar, Mach 2+ turbine-powered beast.
The trio turned the corner onto Leela’s street. They paused outside of her building, Dave and Fry said their goodnights, and headed for The Robot Arms.
Fry opened the door to the apartment. Broken malt liquor bottles, and oil stains littered the floor.
“Wow! Looks like Bender had a good time.” said Fry.
A loud burp, and flash of orange light came from the adjacent room. Bender was passed out sleeping in the corner of Fry’s bedroom. Two StripperBot 5.0s were dozing beside him. They nuzzled him, as he shifted a little.
Dave laid down on the couch. The apartment was nice, and Fry’s hospitality was exceptional, but Dave had been thinking. If he were to stay, and start over again in the 31st century, he’d very much like to have his own place. Things between him & Leela could get more serious, moving in with her sounded good, as that would at least be quieter, and he wouldn’t have to sleep on a couch.
He though about what Nibbler had said to him the previous day. If he truly was some sort of “chosen one” brought here to vanquish evil, what would become of him? Fry and Leela were also part of this prophecy, so at least he’d have help with this fight. Nibbler’s revelation bothered him as much as it had bothered Leela. “Well, at least she won’t have to go it alone. I’ll be here for her, no matter what! We’ll get through this together!” Dave thought, as he drifted off to sleep.
Dave had another wonderful dream that night. He dreamt that the F-14 they found in the sewer was fully restored, and he & Leela were seated inside it, screaming through the stratosphere, banking hard around cloud formations, while the epic guitar instrumental “Flying In A Blue Dream” played over the aircraft’s custom sound interface!