front doors of the office automatically slid open, Fry & Bender
strolled in, over an hour late, as usual. The unusual thing was that
nobody was around. Hermes, and The Professor were normally there
insulting, and berating the two of them by now, but they were nowhere
to be found.
out of the hangar came the shrill, high-speed sound of a pick-sweep
arpeggio solo from an instrument Fry immediately knew. Bender’s
head perked up “What in the Robot Hell is that? Sounds like
some poor robot getting eaten by Zoidberg!”
not funny robut! Why I’d savagely attack you out of anger, but
I don’t have the strength, what from not having eaten in one of
your Earth months!” Zoidberg
groaned from his office.
up Bender! That’s an electric guitar! And whoever’s
playing it is incredible!” Fry
said, as he jabbed him in his side with a loud ‘thunk!’
& Bender walked into the hangar to see Dave perched up on the
lowered tailgate of his hover-truck. His fingers were racing up and
down the vine-inlaid fret board of a beautiful white & gold
Ibanez JEM7V, playing the solo from Dream Theater‘s “As
I Am”, with the energy &
ferocity of someone who’d been on an all-day Slurm binge.
“WOOOOOOH! DO RUSH MAN!” Fry yelled excitedly from across the hangar
floor. Dave stood up upon hearing Fry’s yell. He fiddled with
one of the tone knobs, then broke into the driving instrumental
he finished, Fry walked over to get a look at the guitar. “Man!
That was awesome! You been playing long?”
few years, I taught myself to play, since I can’t read sheet
music to save my life!” Dave
said, as he chuckled. “A therapist told me it would
help channel some of the anger, and stress I was dealing with after
my Dad died.”
uttered an“uhh huh” nonchalantly.
Dave saw he was still fixed on the guitar.
cool ain’t it Fry. When I went down to the Technology Museum
the other day, they were impressed with my laptop computer. The
director said he’d never even seen one from as far back as the
21st century, and was even more shocked when I showed him
it still worked.
I take it you sold them your computer?” Fry asked
He offered me $150,000.” Dave calmly admitted.
spit a mouthful of coffee. “THEY WHAAA?”
I didn’t take it. I saw this old Ibanez over in the corner of
the director’s office. I made him a counter-offer. $100,000
plus the guitar, he couldn’t have been happier.”
handed it over to Fry, so he could inspect it.
up for you guys today? Deliveries as usual?”
ship’s down for more repairs. Leela & Amy are going over
another upgrade package The Professor just bought.” Fry
good. I don’t want Leela to know what I’m up to. I’ve
gotta head over that Giorgio Armonster place you recommended to pick
up my suit, and a few other errands. I want Friday night to really be
know she’s lucky to have met you. It’s great to see Leela
so happy when you’re together.” Fry
commented, as Dave locked up the truck’s tailgate.
Fry, I’m glad to be with her too. Actually, to be here with all
of you guys. Wish there was more people like you in this city Phil,
See ya later!” said Dave, as he hopped in the big Dodge’s
seat and fired the engine up.
The Planet Express building grew smaller in the rearview mirror, as Dave
drove towards the shopping complex in New Midtown.
(New Midtown Manhattan NNY, Thursday 09/08/3008 - 1135 hours)
A chime sounded as Dave walked into the storefront. A large, shaggy,
mottled green creature greeted him with a low roar as he approached
the register, and gave his name.
yes of course, Mister Murphy! Your suit is ready. If you’d like
to make sure it conforms to your specifications, our fitting rooms
are in the back.” the clerk bellowed.
thanked the clerk, picked up his garment bag, and headed into the
back of the shop. 31st century clothing wasn’t
really much different than 21st century clothing. Except
for the fin-shaped apparatus that was sticking up on each shoulder of
the jacket, the suit looked like any other he’d worn before.
What made this one special was the fact he’d had it custom
made, his others had all been off the rack, and just never quite fit
right. He wanted to look as good as possible for his date with Leela
tomorrow night, and that more than justified the $1,800 price tag.
suit fit like a dream. Autumn was around the corner, and it was after
Labor Day, so he went with a dark, almost charcoal gray matching
3-button jacket and slacks. A silvery-pewter colored silk dress
shirt, and tie, darker with similar design accents completed the
awesome to the max! SOLD!” Dave
thought, as he admired the suit on himself in the mirror, a big smile
of confidence on his face!
(Planet Express Headquarters, Thursday 09/08/3008 - 1415 hours)
matter reactor online, temps are right where they should be Leela.”
said, as the ship powered up, and began it’s ascent into the
early afternoon sky.
Leela, you look exceptionally cheerful today, thinking about tomorrow
night? OOOH, what are you gonna wear?” Amy blurted out
excitedly, as the North American continent slid past the flight deck
windows on their southerly course into outer space.
didn’t answer right away. She was looking out of the port-side
windshield, watching the Florida peninsula roll by. Large explosions
flashing on the ground had caught her attention. “Uhhh lord,
they’re carpet-bombing the Disney World compound again!
Everyone forgets, those giant mouse Killbots always change their
attack tactics!” She said to herself in thought.
wha? Oh, sorry Amy, got distracted a bit.” Leela
repeated her query.
I’m really looking forward to it. My mom saved that really cute
evening gown for me. You know, the one I wore to Fry’s opera?”
Amy said, “I
kinda figured you were gonna wear that slutty looking Easter dress I
keep hearing so much about.”
stop it! I’m trying to maintain my sophisticated image here!
Besides, the opera dress makes a much better first impression, and
brings out my, as Dave puts it so elegantly, my “Natural
Beauty” Leela dreamily
Amy. I guess I am a little nervous. Both of us haven’t really
dated in nearly five years. I’m sure Dave’s just as
worked up inside as I am.”
cool Leela, I understand. So, where are you two going?”
got us a table at Elzar’s. Dave also said he had a surprise
afterwards. I guess that’s what’s got me nervous. I hope
he isn’t going to attempt anything like Fry used to do.”
few moments of silence passed before Leela explained another reason
why she was in an incredibly good mood.
was really sweet what he admitted to me last night on the walk home
Amy. He said he noticed I didn’t wear a lot of makeup. Dave
said he found natural beauty like mine incredibly attractive.
squealed with laughter. “Awww, that’s
uber-sweet Leela! Kif always says stuff n’ junk like that to
didn’t reply right away. She turned around in her captain’s
chair and smiled at Amy. “Speaking of Kif, you two
sound like things are getting serious. You think he might ask you to,
uh, you know,,,”
his Fon-Fon-Ru? Oh, spleesh!. Our long distance relationship is hard
enough as it is. I can’t imagine what it would be like if we
were married. He’s always out on patrol so long. It’d be
great if he got re-assigned to DOOP headquarters, then we could get a
place of our own in the city!”
sighed sympathetically. “It’ll be okay Amy, Kif
loves you very much. I’m sure he’ll come around when the
time is right. Don’t give up on him.”
Leela. I guess this is why I think of you as sister, more than a
friend!” Amy replied.
ship decelerated, and nosed over into 180 degree turn. “Well,
everything checks out okay. Life support systems normal, Dark Matter
reactor stable, coffee dispenser output at maximum strength. Let’s
upper atmosphere buffeted the Planet Express Ship, as Leela
decelerated it to approach speed.
just need to make one little stop on our way home Amy.” Leela
said, as she banked the ship towards Manhattan Island, now just a
distant speck on the nose of the ship.
ship’s anti-theft alarm chirped, as Leela depressed the small
button on her key fob. She and Amy rode the escalator down to street
level. The street was upscale-looking. Shade trees dotted both sides,
and people were milling about the number of small boutiques, bistros,
and coffee houses.
ordered a little something for Dave. I hope he likes it.”
Leela explained, as she walked into a small electronics store. Amy
stayed outside, fidgeting with her cell phone.
Leela returned, carrying a small bag, Amy’s eyes were wide with
excitement, as she pulled at Leela’s arm to show her something.
Look! Fry’s over there with someone!” Amy loudly
whispered, as she pointed to a coffee shop across the street.
instinctively, they both ducked behind a Suicide Booth to watch Fry.
Leela noticed the woman Fry was with looked vaguely familiar. “Amy,
that looks like that DOOP officer who interviewed us on Monday.”
wow! You’re right! Amy exclaimed, as she studied the dark
brown hair, and almond eyes of Lt. Sims.
and Lt. Sims were sitting down at one of the sidewalk tables. A
waiter took their order, and hurried off. They seemed to be engrossed
in conversation about something important. Suddenly, Fry stood up,
and held his hands out like he was firing a plasma rifle. Lt. Sims
rocked back in her chair laughing.
Leela, let’s leave em’ be. They seem to be having a fun
time.” Amy suggested, as she tugged at Leela’s right
arm. “Hmmm, she’s probably trying to pump him for more
info for the court-martial.” Leela thought.
guess your right. Let’s go this way so we’re not seen. We
can always confront Fry about this later.” said Leela, as
they hurried off towards the parking garage.
crackled from Leela’s wrist computer. “Dis’ is
Hermes. A package just got thrown carelessly through da slot, an ’dey
paid us for ‘Priority Overnight‘, so you gotta get back
‘ere right now jah!”
lord, what now?” Leela
thought, as she answered Hermes. “Roger that, we’ll
be back in a minute.” as
she signed off with a mock salute.
and The Professor were waiting as the ship touched down inside the
hangar. A plain, wooden 4ft tall box sat in front of where they
the mission guys?” Leela said, as she stopped at the bottom
of the ship’s main staircase. She didn’t bother closing
the hangar doors, since they were likely departing in a few minutes.
“Wait, Fry’s not here! Who’s gonna deliver
this?” Amy exclaimed.
have to take his place Amy. You up for the job?” asked
Leela. “Aye-aye Captain! Uh, I mean one eye! Uh, Yes
Sir!, uhh, Ma’am!” Amy’s
nervous reply was cut off by the sound of the roll-away door at the
back of the hangar sliding open. The bright hangar lights reflected
off the polished chrome & deep blue paint of Dave’s
hover-truck as it glided to a stop behind the Planet Express Ship.
began whispering in Leela’s ear. “What? No! that’s
crazy, he doesn’t even have a proper career chip!” Leela
Farnsworth cranked his hearing aid from “Most Deafer”
down to “Mild Deafiness”
Oh! Capital idea Leela! Dave can take Fry’s place!”
replied Leela, Amy, and Dave,
all in unison.
It seems I have another spare career chip lying around from a
previous crewmember! Ohhh, Rusty, that poor son of a bi-uhhh, that’s
not important. Anyway, he was my Pilot and Chief Mechanic when I
first started Planet Express. Uh, now Leela, if you’d do the
honors.” Farnsworth said,
as he handed the small black silicone semi-conductor over.
do what honors? Leela, what’s he talking about?” Dave
it looks like The Professor just hired you Dave! Now hold out your
left hand, this may sting a bit.” Leela said, as she loaded
the chip into her implant gun, a holdover from her days as the Fate
Assignment Officer at the cryogenics lab.
nervously held out his left hand, palm up, as Leela squeezed the
trigger. “OW! Drafted sounds more accurate!” he
said, cursing under his breath, as he massaged the red, swollen spot
on his palm.
we are! That chip should hold up, eugh-just in case the authorities
have to intervene! Now, you youngsters have a package to deliver!
at least now I feel like I can be useful around here!” Dave
said, as he scooped up the box. “Wait, I’ll lower the
cargo door, so you won’t have to lug it up the boarding
stairs.” Leela shouted. Dave hoisted the box onto his
shoulder. “That’s okay, it’s not really heavy.”
he said, already halfway up the ship’s stairway.
Fry never carries stuff like that.” Amy noted. “Yeah,
well, Fry does his best Amy-oooh! Look at those lats!” Leela
replied lazily, losing her train of thought in mid-sentence, as she
stared at the box balancing on Dave’s broad shoulders.
turned a little red “Yeah, his butt wasn’t bad
either!” she said with a nervous, but contented look on her
face. “Amy! You didn’t!” Leela hissed back.
“Ohhh no! It‘s not like that! I accidentally walked
into the locker room as he was getting out of the shower. Sorry.”
They both looked at each other for a second, then both Leela and
Amy just started laughing like schoolgirls!
(Planet Express Ship, 09/08/3008 - 1735 hours NNY Time)
their cargo secured, and their mission information loaded into the
ship’s Flight Management System, The Planet Express ship sped
away from Earth. They were headed for the small planet of Erebus
IV, lying just outside
of the Crab Nebula.
studied the cargo manifest as he relaxed in his seat. “Hmmm,
IASRA. Who, or what is that?” he mused. Leela typed
on her computer console. A monitor above Dave’s head displayed
the IASRA internet site.
stood for “Intergalactic Air & Space Racing
Association” The introduction video gave a brief
rundown of it’s history, current season points leader, and most
the 31st century equivalent to that NASCAR
thing you were explaining to us about Dave.” Leela said, as
she pointed to his black & silver #29 GM Goodwrench fire suit
jacket he was wearing.
cargo was the IASRA championship trophy, to be presented at the
conclusion of this weekend’s final race to the points winner of
the 3008 season.
of the 3008 IASRA season played over the monitor. The multi-colored
vessels that raced flew at speeds ten-times faster than the NASCAR
stock cars of the 20th century. They also wrecked with
much more deadly results, in spite of the driver/pilot safety
points leader for the 3008 season, and likely champion was a tall,
platinum-blond haired man, with a handlebar mustache named Blast
Andersen. Blast hailed from, like many other pilots, the planet
Antebellum-12, and piloted a race vessel with an eye-blistering,
day-glo shade of green, and the unmistakable logo of ‘Slurm‘,
reporter was interviewing Blast after his victory the previous week
on Omicron-Persei 8. Blast answered him in a thick, southern drawl,
typical of the area Dave grew up in back on 20th century
turned the volume up to hear Blast’s response about the
harrowing, 1,200 mile race. “Well Darrell, after they
bumped, I saw Gourden lose his stabilator, spin out of control, hit
the ground, then the Omicronians eating his remains, I just knew I
had to force this #33 Slurm machine to the finish, just a little bit
harder than the other guys, and thankfully, the boys back at the shop
gave me a good ship this week!”
camera-bot pulled back to reveal the reporter was none other than the
head of Darrell Waltrip! Dave got really excited, so excited he
jumped out of his seat, and pointed at the screen. “OHH,
MAN! Good ol’ D.W.!!! I never thought I’d see him again!
race fans, I think we can rest easy knowing that Blast’s gonna
be our 3008 IASRA champion. Now let’s hand it over to our
friend Kenny Wallace in the pits. Kenny?” Darrell said, as
the camera-bot faded out, and another flared to life.
ya Darrell! WOOOOOOH! Things are pretty intense here on the hover-pit
island! 43 crews are scrambling simultaneously to prepare for this
evening’s practice, and tomorrow’s qualifying!”
Yelled the well-preserved head of the other legendary 20th
century NASCAR driver/commentator. Two IASRA officials placed Kenny
Wallace’s head jar onto a special robotic chassis, much like
Bender, but without the head.
remember him as well Dave?” Amy
Kenny used to race back in the 20th too. He
and his brothers, Mike, and Rusty drove NASCAR as well. Kenny did
better in the 2nd tier racing series, which
used to be called The NASCAR Busch Series.” Dave explained.
on the TV, the robotic skeleton, with Kenny Wallace’s head
mounted atop it’s shoulders, walked fast between the pit stalls
on a gigantic floating monolith. The ‘hover-pits’ as they
were called, were similar to the old pit-road Dave remembered.
the autopilot on, Leela announced she was going to be resting back in
her quarters for a few hours. “If it’s anything short
of the end of time, please don’t wake me guys.” she
muttered, as she left the flight deck.
(Planet Express Ship, Leela’s Quarters, 09/08/3008 - 1910 NNY time)
darkness penetrated everywhere. She held her arms out, hoping to
brush against something to get her bearings as to where she was.
Strange noises, like wind, or water rushing overhead echoed on all
sides. “Where am I?
What is this place?” she
her mind raced.
huge orange, fiery explosions rocked the darkness, forcing her to
shield her face with her brawny forearms. Through the heat and flame,
a shadowy apparition materialized near the chasm that was slowly
tearing open, as it belched enormous flames upward.
ARE YOU? WHERE AM I?” she screamed out at the strange
figure, who was dressed in long, heavy black robes. Smoke or steam
vaporized off the robes, as the stranger’s arm extended,
pointed a skeletal finger, beckoning her to walk closer. “The
fire will not burn you my child!” The ghostly figure’s
thundered around her. White hot chunks of volcanic rock, and ash fell
all around her, as she walked nervously closer. She drew within a few
feet of the hooded apparition. “THAT’S CLOSE ENOUGH!”
the figure bellowed demonically.
She followed the command almost instantly, but always defiant in
the face of what frightened her, she yelled back, “JUST WHO
THE HELL ARE YOU?” The skeletal forearms shook back the
sleeves of it’s robe, as the figure’s eyes glowed like
red, dying embers. She stared in fright, mouth slackened, as the
evil-looking figure pulled it’s hood back, revealing a skull
that burned with a reddish-orange glow. “WHO AM I?,,, YOU
WILL FIND OUT MUCH SOONER THAN YOU THINK!” It answered, in
the meanest, lowest guttural roar she’d ever heard.
bright, white glow began to emanate from small cracks spider-webbing
across the evil figure’s skull. At once, she was blinded by the
light, as the apparition spoke again. “DEATH AWAITS ALL
THOSE WHO CHALLENGE MY POWER! THOSE WHO RESIST WILL DO SO IN
VAIN!!!” She noticed the figure’s right hand was
resting atop the head of another shadowy person kneeling beside it.
She recoiled in horror, as she recognized the face of this person was
someone she loved dearly. “HIS FATE,,, IS SEALED!”
sooner than the figure’s warning come from it’s mouth, it
was surrounded by flame and smoke. It’s eyes turned bright red,
as it levitated above the scorched ground, and began to scream louder
than any scream she’d ever heard.
It screamed, as it flew directly towards her. She held her
ground, but overcome by fear, she knelt back down on one knee. She
trembled as she felt the heat grow hotter, and the scream get louder.
It was too much, her mouth was open, but she never heard herself
screaming. She waited for the darkness to return, for death to come.
She curled up into a defensive position, trying to make herself as
small as possible, as everything began to shake around her.
were pounding on the door, as Leela shot upright in her bed. She
flipped the bedside lamp on. She was drenched in sweat, confused,
breathing fast, and shallow. Her heart was racing, as she yelled out
for whoever was beating on the door to knock it the hell off, as she
slapped the button that illuminated her cabin, and slid the door
wait here, let me see what kinda shape she’s in.” Amy
said to Dave with her hand extended, as she entered Leela’s
watched as Amy rushed to her side. “We heard you screaming.
a bad dream, that’s all Amy.” Leela
answered, her voice quivering, as she wiped the sweat from her face
with the front of her tank-top.
she okay Amy?” a voice echoed from out in the corridor.
a bad dream Dave, I’m alright. Just gimme a sec, and I’ll
be back on the flight deck.” Leela answered.
fine Amy, really. How close are we to Erebus IV?” Leela
asked, as she splashed water on her face in the small vanity in her
than an hour. Here, take this.” Amy said, as she tossed
Leela a fresh tank-top. Leela quickly tossed the sweat-soaked shirt
over her shoulder in Amy’s direction, accidentally hitting her
in the face with it. “Spluuuechh! Puke-a-tronic! “ as
she muttered something foul in Cantonese. “Oops! Heh heh!
Sorry Amy, didn’t know you were in the line of fire!”
Leela said apologetically.
on the flight deck, Leela scanned all the monitors for status
updates. Outside, a vast convoy of hover-RVs, hover-sports cars, and
other assorted vessels, lined up for their approaches to Erebus IV
for the weekend race. The obligatory rebel flags embroidered with
“THE MOON’S GONNA RISE AGAIN!” were displayed on
just about every other wessel!
vendors lined the approach paths, selling their wares. One vendor
advertised for the latest popular item, the Geoff Gourden memorial
#624 racing vessel cartoon with angel halo window decal. Most of the
other vendors sold merchandise for the #33 Slurm racer of Blast
Andersen, and a few other lesser known racers.
acknowledged the landing instructions, and began her descent to the
race complex, near the capital city.
(Planet Erebus IV, 09/08/3008 - 1958 NNY time)
was conducting the traditional night-time practice for the weekend’s
final race, The Fishy
Leela, and Amy walked from the landing pad, to the main IASRA
pavilion. Dave took Leela’s advice about looking professional,
and pushed the crated trophy on the hover-dolly. He had a sneaky
suspicion that maybe she preferred he use the hover-dolly, so that
another display of upper-body strength like before wouldn’t
attract any competition. He quietly huffed a small giggle, “Heh,
yeah right, like there’s any other woman out there that can top
Leela! No freakin’ way!”
the Race Director’s signature on the Planet Express paperwork,
Leela acknowledged him with a quick salute, and they were off!
outside, a horde of screaming girls ran towards the Starting Pits.
The platinum-haired Blast Andersen was seen getting out of the
cockpit of his blue & green #33 Slurm racer.
lord! This place is nuts! Let’s go already guys!” Leela
said, as Dave and Amy were lagging behind a little bit, to watch the
other race vessels return to pit row.
crackled on Leela’s wrist computer. “What the hell
Leela? Why’d you guys go on the delivery without me?”
Fry’s anxious voice said, screaming from the tiny speaker,
nearly blowing it out.
stop yelling! You almost blew the speaker out, again!” Leela
shot back angrily.
sorry. Hey, why’d you guys run a delivery without me?”
Fry, you weren’t at the office. Nobody knew where you were, and
this was a priority delivery! They actually paid extra this time!”
I know, it’s my fault Leela. I went out with someone. It was
short notice, and I’ll explain when you get back.” Fry
cool. Maybe you should seriously consider buying a wrist communicator
Fry, then this won’t happen.” Leela suggested.
booming announcer’s voice echoed across the complex, as the
Planet Express employees made their way across the cracked tarmac to
the waiting delivery ship. “ANNNND IT’S OFFICIAL. THE
FINAL 3008 EXTREME WALRUS JUICE POLE AWARD GOES TO BLAST ANDERSEN!
WITH THE QUICKEST LAP TIME OF 77.88! BACK TO YOU DARRELL!!!”,
as the complex erupted in a thunderous explosion of cheering, and
laughed out loud. “Man! Even after 1,000 years, ol’
Kenny Wallace still gets the crowds going crazy!”
(New New York, 09/09/3008 - 0030 NNY time)
skillfully guided the ship down through a high layer of cirrus
clouds. The night sky looked spectacular. The moonlight shined a
silvery glow though the clouds, as the lights of New New York
and Amy lounged in their seats near the center windshield. Amy dozed
silently, curled up slightly, as her extremities shivered. Dave
noticed this, and reached into an overhead storage bin for a blanket.
Leela smiled sweetly as she watched him gently drape it over Amy,
being careful not to wake her.
ship began it’s lazy vertical descent. The surrounding
buildings and power lines loomed up into view out of the side windows
of the cabin. Dave had to squint his eyes a bit, until they adjusted
to the bright lights of the hangar bay, now flooding the ship’s
cabin, as Leela planted the ship firmly on the concrete floor.
threesome exited the ship, Amy still rubbing the sleep from her eyes,
and both Dave & Leela looking a little bleary themselves.
was nowhere to be found. A note left on the conference table
indicated he’d waited around a few hours, then left to meet up
with a friend who called.
securing the ship, and locking the office up, Leela and Amy exited
the Planet Express building through the sliding double doors, Leela
tapped the code into the entry panel, locking the doors behind them.
muffled whining noise came up the street. Leela & Amy turned back
around to see Dave had pulled his hover-truck over to the curb, then
exiting and re-joining them on the sidewalk.
I offer you ladies a ride home?”
said she’d take a tube, but Leela accepted. Dave bid goodnight
to Amy, and opened the passenger side door for Leela. She was by no
means scared to walk home alone. This neighborhood in New New York
wasn’t a nice place to be after dark, but her Arcturan Kung-Fu
skills were exceptional, and she was more than capable of defending
herself against multiple attackers.
Leela let him drive her home out of wanting to be close to him. They
both enjoyed each other’s company more and more as the days
went by. The two of them sat in comfortable silence for the first few
blocks. Dave reached over and softly grasped her hand, caressing it
lightly. “You okay?” he asked softly.
she replied with a smile, glancing over at him briefly. He loved
how the glow from the streetlights illuminated in her eye, as he
reached down to a small compartment in the dash panel, below the
stereo. Dave plugged his iPod into the stereo’s interface port,
flipped his thumb around the clickwheel a few times, and found the
song he was looking for.
have to admit, every time I hear this, I think about you Leela!”
it’s beautiful Dave! I haven’t heard this before, who is
it?” she said, still
grasping his hand.
of Grace”, by Jordan Rudess, and John Petrucci. They’re
from that 20th century band Dream Theater I
was telling you about the other day.”
continued “It’s a little reminder to me, that
you’re always graceful, always beautiful Leela!”
leaned over and kissed his cheek “Aww, that’s
pulled the truck over to the curb in front of Leela’s apartment
building. They sat in the idling truck for a minute.
7pm be a good time to pick you up tomorrow night?” Dave
good. I can’t wait! See you then.” as she exited the
waited until she entered the building, like he always did. Looking
up, he saw the lights in Apartment 1I come on. He turned his head,
shifted the truck into drive, but then looked back. He saw Leela
standing in her window of the 9th floor. She saw that he
was looking up, smiled, and waved. Dave immediately grinned, and
waved back. “Goodnight Leela, I love you!” he
said, in thought.
(Robot Arms Apartments, 09/09/3008 - 1745 NNY time)
someone’s at the door, and I just got outta the shower. Dave
said, as he heard the loud knocking.
never felt better. He was getting his life back on track. All of his
past misfortunes seemed to be washed away in the last few months,
since he came to the 31st century. Fry & Bender were
good friends, and career-wise, he was glad to be there off the record
as an interim mechanic, and officially as a back-up parcel delivery
technician by Professor Farnsworth. He’d slipped Hermes a few
bucks to change the title a bit, since he didn’t fancy being
called “delivery boy”.
it’s almost 6:30, I gotta run guys.” Dave said, as he
pressed a tiny button on each shoe’s tongue, making his
gleaming new dress shoes automatically lace, and tie themselves up.
He exited the back bedroom, and saw Fry sitting on the couch talking
to a tall, beautiful woman.
you remember Lt. Sims? She came by Planet Express last week?”
Fry said, as she looked up at Dave, now dressed sharply for his
date with Leela. “Wow! You look great! Where are you
heading?” asked Lt. Sims. “Thanks Lieutenant. I’ve
got a date with Leela this evening.”
please, I’m not on-duty, call me Jeannie.” she said,
as she laughed a bit. “Fry and I are gonna stay in tonight,
watch the ‘All My Circuits’ marathon.” she
said, as she ripped open a packet of “Insta-Wine“.
cool. Well, Fry, Jeannie, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get
going. We have reservations at Elzar’s at nineteen-uh, I mean
7:30. See ya!” he said
nervously, as he walked out of the apartment, carrying his guitar
case. Jeannie watched as Dave closed the door behind him. A faint
line of white light appeared, slowly spider-webbing around the side
of her left temple, as she kept her steely gaze on the door he had
stuffed the Ibanez’s case behind the seats, and fired up his
recently washed and polished deep blue Dodge hover-truck. He rolled
the iPod’s click wheel, until it played what he was in the mood
for. Dave was a huge fan of instrumental guitar players. He’d
never done well taking lessons, plus he couldn’t read music to
save his life. He was a self-taught guitar player, much like a few of
the masters he’d idolized as a teenager.
Dodge’s stereo played out John Petrucci’s ’Wishful
Thinking’ as he headed down the main avenue towards Leela’s
place. Dave loved getting the confused stares from both humans, and
aliens on the sidewalks. His iPod was full of some of the best music
from the 20th, and 21st century, and nobody in
this city really understood the strange, ancient music from ‘The
Stupid Ages‘ as they called it.
could hardly contain his excitement. He had to keep reminding himself
to slow down, after nearly blowing through 3 red lights!
blocks away, Leela stood in front of her floor-length mirror, putting
the finishing touches on her ensemble. The doorway access control
panel near her front door beeped twice, the video/speaker unit
crackled with city traffic in the background. “What th- how
the hell, do I push this?” she heard the confused voice,
and knew it was him.
at street level, Dave was still trying to figure out the video
address panel at the main entrance to the building. The tiny 4-inch
screen flickered on, with Leela’s face coming into focus.
“Heyyyy! You’re a little early aren’t you.”
She said with a huge smile. “I’ll buzz you in,
it’s apartment 1I.”
carefully unfolded the tissue paper that enveloped a pair of
blood-red long stem roses, accented with a sprig of baby‘s
breath. He checked his hair, and made sure his tie was on straight in
the now blank video screen’s lens.
reached the top of the stairs. The building was clearly showing it’s
age. Not much dilapidation, but it needed new windows, and paint
badly. It also suffered from a bad musty odor. Turning left, he saw
“1I” down the corridor, near the round windows that faced
the street, and under another naked light bulb.
door to the apartment, Dave noticed, was dirty and worn like the
others, but also featured a few strategically-placed boot prints.
Dave‘s mind interpreted those as possible results from Leela‘s
‘Arcturan Lock-picking‘, which made him chuckle under his
breath as he knocked. “It’s open, come on in!”
He heard through the door.
across the threshold into the apartment, Dave smelled the
unmistakable hint of a fine perfume. “Have a seat Dave, I’ll
be out in sec.” The smell of the perfume made his face feel
a little flushed & warm, it felt like he’d just tossed back
a double shot of Jack Daniels! Looking around, he liked how simple
Leela kept her home. Mostly small pieces of art, kitschy little
knick-knacks, and some rather intriguing paintings up on the walls
gave the apartment a nice touch.
took a moment to make sure he had the item he was going to give Leela
safely secured in his jacket’s inner pocket. Just as he poked
around with it a little, the door to the back bedroom opened.
gasped involuntarily a little as his eyes went wide. Stunned so much
was he, that he struggled to find words to describe the beauty now
standing before him.
Leela,,, my god, I’m, , I’m, , I don’t know what to
say! You look,,,, you look absolutely stunning! Seriously, I can’t
find words to describe how beautiful you look right now!” He
said, as his face tightened into a ever broader smile, as he stood
was the first time he’d seen her dressed in the gown she’d
only worn once before. A gown she had dubbed “The Opera Dress”.
A small amount of lipstick, and some highlighting to her cheeks were
all the makeup she had put on. The biggest difference was in her
hair. Normally worn up in her signature ponytail style, tonight,
Leela had styled it to let gravity do it‘s job, but styled a
little bit. It flowed gracefully down over her shoulders, and covered
a little bit of her eye, a style that reminded him of 20th
century actress Veronica Lake.
fading sunset cast orange beams of light through the slits in the
vertical blinds backlighting her figure. Leela attached two small
pearl earrings to match her necklace, she held her arms out, and spun
around a few times to show off the gown’s features. She looked
could just stand here looking at you all night Leela, I want to
remember this moment forever! Dave said, as he removed his small
digital camera from a pocket, and set it up on the corner of a
two of them stood side by side, one arm around the other’s hip,
Leela’s other arm gently resting on his chest, as the automatic
timer beeped three times. The auto timer wound down, triggered the
flash, and captured a perfect picture!
the way, these are for you. I hope you like them.” he said,
as he handed her the roses.
beautiful Dave! Better put em’ in water before we go.”
she replied, as she gave him a small kiss.
the way, that suit looks great on you! Did you get it from
it’s Armonster. Fry suggested that place to me.”
was nice of him. Okay, let’s roll!” said Leela, as
she grabbed her purse.
the dark blue sky ushered in the night, as a cool evening breeze
rustled through the leafy scrub trees that dotted the street. Leela
suggested they hail a taxi cab, and not lose any time fighting for a
parking spot across town. Dave agreed, as he stuck two fingers in his
mouth, whistled, and stuck his arm up in the air to flag down a
(Elzar’s - 09/09/3008 - 1921 NNY time)
& Leela disembarked from the cab in front of the large,
elegantly-decorated restaurant. A chalkboard sign by the front door
stairs read “Tonight’s
Special - NOTHING, QUIT ASKING!”. Inside,
a tall, dark-haired Neptunian hostess in a tight red evening gown
offered to take people’s coats as they entered. Dave elected to
keep his, just in case the cooler temperature of the restaurant made
yes, Mister Murphy, table for two. Right this way please, we have one
all ready for you near the window if you’d like.” the
window table’s perfect, thanks.” Dave replied. He
couldn’t help but look around at all the other patrons in the
place. Nearly all human, a few Neptunians, and The Don Bot & his
associates way in back, against the wall. Several people cast stares
in their direction, no doubt it was Leela they were looking at.
was featuring a string quartet that evening. Dave called one of them
aside, asked him something, while slipping him a few folded currency
bills. “Not a problem sir! We know that one well!”
waiter had brought their wine selection, and Dave struck up a
conversation about what made Leela decide to fly a spaceship for The
regaled him with all the events of the day leading up to her chasing
a newly de-frosted Fry though the ruins of Old New York, being
hounded as a job deserter, and finding her passion in life that was
flying for a living.
told her how he had strong ambitions to fly since he was a kid, how
his bad eyesight had pretty much killed his dream of doing it for his
country. Technical work had always fascinated him, and that path led
him to enlisting in the service to fix aircraft, rather than fly
wanted to learn as much as he could about her, so he did most of the
question asking. The conversation eventually drifted to family life,
the future, what other dreams the two of them had. They both had
almost the same ambitions, to be in a relationship, with someone who
loved them for who they were, not for something superficial.
joked a lot about how she felt like the ‘ugly duckling’
in the old fable. Dave cut her off before she finished. “I
know you’re joking, but that’s not entirely true. I think
you’ve always been beautiful, but nobody’s ever told you
that.” he said.
nobody really has,,, except for Fry.” Leela answered in a
string quartet began playing again. They started into the Boccherini
piece Dave had requested.
I want to give you something, I think you’ll understand when
you open it.”
reached into his jacket, extracting a small black clamshell box.
Leela’s eye got wide, and one of her hands flew to her mouth to
stifle the small gasp.
you, is this, you can’t be serious?” she whispered at
go ahead, open it. I think you’ll like it.” Dave said
with a grin.
picked up the box, Upon opening it, she felt a little relieved it
wasn’t what she thought it was, but a fleeting pang of what she
was hoping to get, someday.
elegant, silver herringbone necklace laid coiled in the box. Attached
to the necklace were two shiny metallic discs. One was one of Dave’s
US Navy ‘Dog Tags’, highly polished, the other was shaped
like the Dog tag, but was laser inscribed with Dave’s face and
name on one edge, and Leela’s on the other edge, with a heart
in between them. She flipped the tag over. It was painted like the
night sky, but with a message carved in elegant, gold scroll,
ever you go,
ever you do,
will always be right here,
Leela, With all my love, David K. Murphy
gloved hand was still hovering at her mouth, as she read the
inscription. Dave saw a single tear splash, and roll down the glove’s
velvet surface. Her face was smiling from ear to ear, glowing in the
table’s candlelight. “It’s beautiful
Dave! I don’t know what to say. I love it, thank you!”
she said, daubing her eye with a
sat quietly for a few minutes, enjoying another bottle of excellent
wine, and the rest of the string quartet’s performance of "La
Musica Notturna Delle Strade di Madrid no. 6, op. 30”.
also have something for you Dave.” Leela said, as she
reached into her purse. She handed him a slightly larger black box,
with green ribbon decorating it’s corners. “Hope you
like it!” she beamed.
slid the ribbon off, lifting the box top, revealing a black and
silver device, similar to one Leela owned, but smaller.
is this a wrist communicator?” Dave said with a grin, as he
studied the small 2x2-inch screen, and four small switches beneath
it. “Try it on.” she said excitedly.
slipping the device over his left wrist, Dave noticed something on
the back of the device’s case.
future we cannot foresee,
matter where you are,
never be a Stranger,
you think of me.”
Love - Turanga Leela
This means a lot to me Leela. I really love it!”
Dave said, as he slipped it on, and let her explain how to turn it
on, program it, make and receive calls on it.
owner, and head chef, Elzar himself stood in the center of the dining
room. In a booming voice, he announced that the upstairs club lounge
was now open.
handed the check folder back to the waiter, stood up, and held his
hand out to Leela. “You wanna go check it out?”
Might be fun, and I could use a Shrapnel Bomb right about now.”
take it that’s some kinda drink huh?” Dave
asked, as they walked up the marble stairs to the club level.
it’s not too popular. A drink only a tough person would like.”
Leela said, getting a little hint of excitement in her voice.
about I go get us a round.” he suggested. It would be a
great excuse to go grease the DJ with a little cash to play a certain
20th century song he’d been thinking about.
strolled up to the bar. “What’ll it be flesh pipe?”
the robot bartender yelled in his direction.
Shrapnel Bombs please!” he
tough guy eh? Comin’ right up!” The bartender said,
as he filled his shaker with the dangerously strong cocktail of
Boomshine & Martian Fire Water.
lounge was full of happy couples relaxing with drinks in hand. Some
had started working their way over to the dance floor, as the DJ’s
equipment began cranking out a loud, upbeat type of music Dave had
never heard before.
their drinks in hand, Dave & Leela watched as people who looked
normal downstairs a couple of hours ago, began to cut loose on the
dance floor, the more intoxicated they became. The Shrapnel Bomb was
like drinking razor blades coated with super glue! No matter how hard
he tried to swallow, it just didn’t seem to go down! “Watch
that first one! It’s always the toughest!” Leela said
laughing as she watched Dave’s facial reaction to the potent
cocktail. He said to hell with it, slamming down the rest of the
drink in one gulp!
walked out in front of where she stood, looked back at her, extending
his arm towards her. “My dear, would you care to dance?”
Dave asked in a mock pompous voice. Leela extended her arm,
tossed her drink aside, and walked out to grasp his hand, as they
sauntered onto the flashing, multi-colored dance floor.
being a good dancer, Dave mostly tried to follow along with what the
other guys were doing with their dates. As the alcohol permeated his
brain, he really didn’t care how good, or how stupid he looked,
it’s just felt great to be out having a good time with someone
(Outside Apartment 1I, 09/09/3008 - 2237 NNY time)
laughed loudly, as she stumbled a little getting out of the
hover-cab. A result of alcohol, and the randy joke Dave had just told
wait here, I need to get something out of my truck.” Dave
said, as he popped open the passenger side door, and extracted the
long, black guitar case.
Leela had set a pot of coffee on to brew. While she busied herself,
he settled into the darkened living room, only turning on one set of
track lights near the sofa. Dave extracted the white & gold
Ibanez from it’s case, de-tuned it to the right key, and
fiddled with a small device The Professor helped him build.
small device Professor Farnsworth helped construct was similar to
what a 20th century Pedal Board did, only much smaller,
and with many more sound options. Dave set his tone, volume, and the
effects selector to make the electric instrument to simulate an
acoustic guitar’s rich, resonating sound. The device also added
backup vocals, drum tracks, rhythm, and bass guitar backing for a
myriad of musical genres, all could be added by internet download, or
in Dave’s case, synched from an MP3 player, such as his iPod.
walked into the room carrying two mugs of hot coffee. She had changed
out of the gorgeous evening gown, into her pink silk pajamas, and
pulled her hair back up into it’s normal ponytail while the
coffee was brewing.
perked up as she sat beside him on the sofa. A hint of her perfume
wafted in his direction, which made his pulse quicken a little bit.
“So, what did you want to show me?” Leela asked
quizzically, as she took in the sight before her.
thought I’d play something for you, something I feel describes
emotionally what I feel when I think about you.” Dave said
softly, while staring at his reflection in her eye.
stood up, plugged the Ibanez into the effects device, made one final
adjustment, plucked a few strings to check sound, and pushed the red
white light on the device directed Dave to start playing his main
part. A rich acoustic guitar sound resonated off the walls of Leela’s
small apartment, as Dave played the intro, and began to sing in a low
now, don't you cry
Wipe away the teardrop from your eye
lying safe in bed
It was all a bad dream
Spinning in your
Your mind tricked you to feel the pain
Of someone close to
you leaving the game of life
So here it is, another chance
awake you face the day
Your dream is over... or has it just
right on cue, Dave’s lead was joined by a rhythm acoustic
guitar, bass, and drums from the device on the floor, as they all
flowed together seamlessly to play Queensryche’s Silent
a place I like to hide
A doorway that I run through in the
Relax child, you were there
But only didn't realize it
and you were scared
It's a place where you will learn
your fears, retrace the years
And ride the whims of your
Commanding in another world
Suddenly you hear and see
magic new dimension
I will be watching over you
gonna help you see it through
I will protect you in the night
smiling next to you, in Silent Lucidity”
sat perfectly still, her eye fixed on him, as his hands flew up &
down the fret board, executing the solo portion of the song
flawlessly, just as he practiced so many times over and over.
you open your mind for me
You won't rely on open eyes to see
walls you built within
Come tumbling down, and a new world will
Living twice at once you learn
You're safe from the pain
in the dream domain
A soul set free to fly
A round trip journey
in your head
Master of illusion, can you realize
alive, you can be the guide but...
I will be watching over
I’m gonna help to see it through
I will protect you
in the night
I’m smiling next to you.…”
room went silent for a second, then the sound of a cello, and double
bass played out, accompanying his guitar, as the song ended with the
finale of Brahms’s Lullaby.
went to his side as he placed the Ibanez down in it’s case.
“Beautiful, I loved it!” she said, as they
embraced and kissed.
asked him to stay a little while longer. A program she liked, The
Scary Door, was coming on, and Dave happily agreed to watch it
didn’t take long for the combination of wine, “shrapnel
bombs“, and the calming glow of the TV screen to cause both of
them to nod off to sleep on her overstuffed sofa.
awoke later to find the show had ended, and clock on the wall showing
well after one in the morning. Leela was still fast asleep next to
him. Normally, he would have just got up & left, but aware of his
deep feelings for Leela, something inside told him that wouldn’t
gently lifted her up, carrying her though the darkened apartment, and
placing her down in her bed. Dave stayed for a few minutes, watching
the moonlight play across her hair as she slept peacefully. He pulled
the satin bed sheet up around her, softly kissing her forehead, then
settling back on the couch.
“No, leaving her wouldn’t be a good idea, not tonight.” Dave
thought, as he felt consciousness slip away, and sleep wash over him.