(Planet Express Headquarters, 12/26/3008 - 1930 NNY time)
“Now hold still Fry! This won’t take long. I’ll have that broken leg removed, so the new one can grow back in.” said Dr Zoidberg calmly, as he prepped his laser-saw. Fry’s eyes grew wide in fear, as he laid on Zoidberg’s exam table in the doctor’s office. “*gulp!* You sure you know what you’re doing Zoidberg? It’s a broken leg! If you cut it off, it won’t grow back you idiot!” Calmly holding the glowing surgical instrument, Zoidberg answered monotonously. “Fry, please, it’s a simple procedure, I promise you won’t die- well, maybe a little bit, I honestly won’t know until I’ve finished. Now hold still dammit!”
“Mommieeee” came a small whimper from the office, as Zoidberg fired up his Flesh-O-Fusion device, followed by a sickening sound of something fleshy and heavy falling onto the floor.
It was early winter, and the Planet Express employees had just returned from a relaxing weekend of skiing in the picturesque Rocky Mountains. Fry had endured the 20-minute flight back to New New York in agony, as he suffered a horrible fall on a triple-black diamond trail. Fry still had an intense impulsiveness with Bender’s dares for him to impress Leela. Whether drunk, or sober, though wishing he’d been drinking, so alcohol could be mostly to blame.
“Be brave Meatbag, we’re pullin’ for ya!” Bender yelled mundanely, as he stared straight into the TV set that blared out the droning noise of The Hypnotoad.
“What? What’d I do?” said Bender, as Amy, and Leela stared daggers in his direction.
The tense atmosphere was broken by Hermes grunting, as he carried a huge wooden box into the lounge.
“Git off ya lazy butts people! Package delivery tiiime!”
“Where’s it goin’?” Amy shouted, as she put the cap back on the small bottle of chrome yellow nail polish.
“Environmental Research Station 120-C on Planet X. Shouldn’t take more ‘den a few ‘ours.” Hermes said, as he handed the waybill information packet to Leela.
“Oh lord, trade one icy cold location for another! Fryyyyy, we’ve got a delivery, you done in there yet?” she yelled.
“Uhhh, not quite. I still don’t think Zoidberg’s quite got the hang of -OWW! surgery on the human anatomy yet.” Fry said, as he hobbled out of the exam room, his leg mended, but bending grotesquely backwards.
“Forget it Fry. You stay here, get some rest, and let Zoidberg put your leg back on the right way. We’re just going on a milk-run to Planet X. One of those research station thingamabobs.”
Fry sighed glumly. Even on simple delivery runs, he hated missing out on trips going into space. “Okay Leela. You guys be safe.”
“Relaaax Fry, I’ve got this.” Leela replied, but in her mind she was glad Fry still cared enough to tell her that every now & then.
Walking out to the hangar floor, Leela paused at her locker to gather her parka, and cold weather gear. She heard Amy’s muffled giggling around the corner, and the sound of an equally excited male voice reply in the same giddy tone.
“It looks funny. Is that supposed to point up like that much?”
“No, no, you gotta hold it like this. Yeah, I’m serious, that’s how you do it.”
Leela’s ears were burning. “Nooo, not with Amy, he’s not doing what I think he’s doing,,, is he?” She positioned herself to peek around the corner in way that she wouldn’t be seen. She balled her fists up, and squinted angrily expecting to see the worst, as she turned her head.
Much to her surprise, and relief, it wasn’t what she feared. Amy had been watching Dave practice a rather long instrumental ballad he’d been writing, and became quite curious about how he did it so well.
“That’s good Amy, just like that. Slide your index finger down here, okay, then follow through with this one.” he said, as he helped her position her fingers, just for a few simple chords.
Amy had to adjust the shoulder strap to it’s shortest length, but on her small frame the beautiful white Ibanez guitar still hung down far past her waist.
Leela smiled and stood by, idly watching the impromptu lesson for a moment before interrupting.
“Sorry to have to end your session guys, but we’ve got a delivery, and we’re short a delivery boy. Care to sub for Fry again Dave?”
“Yeah, okay, just give me a sec to lock this away, and grab my coat.” He said, as he secured the guitar back in it’s hardshell case.
(Planet Express Headquarters, 02/26/3009 - 0847 NNY time)
Planet Express had suddenly become very busy after the Xmas holiday. Both Professor Farnsworth, and Hermes Conrad, his faithful Bureaucrat, had been working the employees harder than normal to keep up with unusually high delivery demand.
Hermes was ruthlessly enforcing Professor Farnsworth’s recently imposed 7-day, 14-hour-shift work week, to a much disappointed crew. Everyone was running on frayed nerves, and too little sleep. Even their plans for Valentine’s Day had to be scrapped, much to Fry, Dave, and Leela’s dismay.
With the deliveries keeping Leela busy, and The Professor keeping Dave busy across the street at his Lab/Warehouse, they hadn’t seen each other in weeks. Dave especially was becoming increasingly agitated whenever he was interrupted by any of the other Planet Express employees. He’d been searching numerous archives in vain, in the hope of finding out what happened to his Mother, and two younger brothers, after he’d left the 21st century.
On a search of the National Media Archives’ website, Dave discovered a small article from the Orlando Sentinel, dated October 14, 2008. The article only mentioned his name, that he’d been missing since early June, but what stung Dave the most was the article’s final paragraph.
“If my brother’s out there, I hope he’s alive, if he sees this, I wish he’d call, just to say he’s okay. None of us were on speaking terms when he disappeared, and my mom’s even more worried. She fears the worst might have already happened.”
Dave cursed at Nibbler under his breath upon reading that. He’d been having recurring nightmares as well, in which he saw ghostly figures, fire engulfing everything, then waking up soaked in sweat.
There were some times when his Farnsworth-induced stress made him want to force that little three-eyed furball into sending him back to 21st century Florida. His life may have been in the gutter, but he still could have patched things up with his family, and started over in another part of the state.
Lately, Dave had become so agitated by some of his co-worker’s behavior, that wouldn’t even come into the Planet Express office at the start of the work day, not even for coffee! He preferred to walk two whole blocks to get it, rather than have to endure Dr Zoidberg’s insistence of examining him , Farnsworth’s baseless accusations for things that happened when Dave wasn‘t even in the building, or one of Hermes’s stupid meetings.
The long work days, and his work environment were driving him crazy. Sometimes, he wanted nothing more than to just get in his truck, drive away, and not look back. This wasn’t his city, let alone his century! He felt no connection to anything. The only bright, shining light in his life keeping his sanity intact was Leela, but they hadn’t seen each other for over a month!
Walking back from the convenience store with his morning coffee, Dave’s wrist device chimed an incoming call. Seeing “Planet Express” on the caller-ID screen, he sighed, uttered an obscenity under his breath, and reluctantly clicked the “answer” button.
“What is it now Professor.” he answered monotonously.
To his surprise, Hermes’ voice came over the small speaker.
“We started the damn meeting twelve and a half minutes ago! Where in Bob Marley’s ghost are ye, yah bum?” he shouted in his thick Jamaican accent.
“*sigh* Look, all I do is watch after a damn warehouse full of old surplus equipment, and fix useless crap that Farnsworth doesn’t even use! What the hell is so important?”
Hermes paused for a few seconds before answering. “Jus’ git ya lazy butt over to da office!”
With his patience near it’s breaking point, Dave hurled the steaming hot cup of coffee as hard as he could against a crumbling brick wall, exploding into a cloud of steam as it splattered to the ground. “Dammit to hell!” he growled, as he marched back towards the Planet Express building.
Flinging open the side door, much to his surprise, the huge green spaceship was sitting on it’s landing gear in the hangar. By this time of the day, it was usually gone. Off making a delivery to some strange planet he’d never heard of before. Dave made his way towards the conference table, expecting to hear the Professor’s maniacal ranting.
“*Arghhemm*, now that everyone’s ‘ere, may I continue?” Hermes said sarcastically, clearing his throat. “Dere’s been some complainin’ about how ‘tings are bein’ run ‘round ‘ere, and it’s high time I reminded everyone about their contracts!”
With an angry slam of her fist on the table, “Can it Rasta man! We know our contracts, and we’re also well aware of what we’re entitled to!” Leela interrupted angrily.
“You & The Professor have been working us like slaves for the last month n’ a half! We’ve all decided, and we’re all taking advantage of our personal days for the rest of the week!”
“YEAH!” came a collective shout from the rest of the group around the conference table.
Professor Farnsworth knew he’d been beaten. After all, he’d rather just close shop for a few days, rather than go through the Bureaucratic hell of having to hire new employees.
“Ohh, myyyyyy. Well, I know when I’ve cracked the whip too hard. Off you go everyone! Uhh-byeeee!”
Hermes shuffled dejectedly back to his office. Professor Farnsworth placing his withered left hand on his shoulder, as he spoke.
“There, there Hermes! We can always fire them later, eugh-tax season is right around the corner , and I also have sixteen huge boxes of patent applications I’ll need you to file for me.” Hermes twitched in ecstasy when he heard that,. He didn’t have to be told twice when it came to paperwork.
“So, you’re okay with us using our personal days for the rest of the week then right?” Leela asked, sounding a little stunned by The Professor’s lackadaisical response to the group demand for time off.
Turning back to face the group, Farnsworth shrugged, and said “Eugh-yes, uhh, unless you’d rather I have Hermes fire you all now?”
“WHOLE WEEK OFF WOOOOOO!” shouted Bender, as he tore the top off of yet another full-size keg of LoBrau beer, draining it into his cavernous belly cavity in seconds.
“Uhh, nope, Bender speaks for us all!“ said Fry, as he ran to the phone on the wall to make plans with Jeannie, provided that she wasn’t being equally over-worked by the DOOP.
After weeks of being apart, Dave and Leela rushed to each other, kissed and embraced as the meeting ended. He felt the weight of the enormous stone he’d been crawling under, had just been lifted off his shoulders.
“Heeheeheee! *BUURRRRP* I know what those two are gonna do!” said Bender, as he crushed the now empty keg against the side of his head. “OWW!” as he reeled from being smacked by Leela on the other side of his head.
“Bender, that was completely uncalled for! Although, the thought had occurred to me a few times, it was still rude of you!”
“Sorry Leela, won’t happen again!” Bender said, in his normal mocking tone.
Slamming the receiver down into it’s cradle, Fry uttered a disappointing “Crud!”, as he walked back over to re-join the others
“What’s wrong Fry?” asked Leela
“Awww, it’s Jeannie. I haven’t been able to get ahold of her in forever! Hey Bender, wanna go with me over to her place, see what she’s been up to?”
“Nahhh, I’m good fleshwad, you go have fun!”
“Oh c’monnnnn, they’ll probably be some stuff you can steal, at the very least, some free booze!”
Heaving out a bored sigh, Bender rolled his eyebulbs, then flipped off the TV set.
“Okay, but you better deliver on that free booze promise!”
(Old New York (NNY Sewers), 02/26/3009 - 1135 NNY time)
“Thanks for coming with me. My parents will sure be happy to see us, also to see these supplies & new clothes!” Leela said happily, as they walked along a dim, torch-lit service tunnel, both carrying large cardboard boxes.
Old New York never ceased to amaze Dave. He nearly tripped several times, just looking around at the surroundings as they walked. The lights of the main settlement appeared, as they got closer to the end of the service tunnel.
The noises of a crowded market grew louder. Children’s laughter could be heard, as the eerie light from dozens of small gas torches and trash can fires grew brighter in the distance. Dave distinctly smelled a sharp odor of a burning fuel, very similar to gasoline.
“It’s Distilled Whale Oil. Stinks something awful, and it smokes really bad too, but it’s all they have for their fires, and the boats.” Leela explained, as they walked on. They passed through another tunnel arch carved out of a mountain of concrete rubble. Two airboats simultaneously fired their engines up, and sped off in the direction they were walking from. The trash-strewn canal ended in a cul-de-sac, surrounded by wooden boardwalks, and ramshackle buildings came into view.
A third airboat was still floating alongside the rotting piers of the boardwalk. A disfigured man tried in vain to hand-crank the air boat’s propeller. Suddenly, the boat’s engine roared, belching flames from it’s modified exhaust pipes. In a flash, the boat shot forward, and struck the pilings in front of a large derelict open-air market. The boardwalk creaked and groaned from the shock of impact, followed by a large splash.
“Daaaadeee! Hellllp, I can’t swim!” came a frightened child’s voice. Dozens of people gathered at the edge, all shouting for someone to help, but as seconds went by, still nobody would come to the drowning child’s aid.
Leela turned to say something, but found herself talking only to herself. Unbeknownst to her, Dave had shed his jacket, and was in the rancid, potentially toxic water, halfway to the helpless youngster, who was now beginning to slip under it’s surface.
“Ohh God, the water! It’s mutagenic! Why did he,,, he doesn’t know!” Leela screamed, but nobody heard over the commotion of the crowd, as she ran to the edge and dove in.
By now, Dave had the young girl in the grasp of his right arm, clinging to him for dear life, as he swam to the awaiting crowd gathered on the dock. A distraught man, wearing a ragged business suit, and sporting a third arm, growing from out of the top of his head, pushed his way to the front of the crowd.
“Susan! Daddy’s here! Where are you?” he shouted, as the people by the water’s edge moved back, to let Dave climb up out of the stinking pool.
As soon as he hit dry land, the little girl, who was still holding onto his back for dear life, began to cry out for her father.
Dave managed to calm the shaking girl a little bit. She appeared to be about 5 to 7 years old, and she didn’t appear to be mutated as much as everyone else. Her skin did look a little green and on the scaly side, but other than that, she appeared to look like a normal human being.
“It’s okayyy, you’re not in the water anymore! You’re safe now darlin’.” as he held on to her. She was still holding onto his shoulder for dear life, as he kept his arms around her, keeping her calm, as he scanned the crowd for a sign of anyone who knew her.
A pair of hands grasped Dave’s other shoulder from behind. He jumped at the surprise at first, but then realizing it was Leela, relaxed.
“Awwww, poor thing, she’s scared half to death! Hellooo honey! I’m Leeeelaaa, where’s your mommy, or daddy?” Leela said, as she wiped the little girl’s dark brown hair out of her eyes.
By now, the tall, raggedly dressed man with the third arm had fought his way through the throng of onlookers to where Dave and Leela stood.
“Susan! My god, you’re safe!” he exclaimed as he breathed a heavy sigh of relief. The 3-armed man began to introduce himself.
“Leela? What a surprise! Oh, I am sorry, where are my manners. I am Raoul, Supreme elected official of the sewers! I must say stranger, I am eternally grateful for you saving my Aimee!” Raoul said, as he lifted his daughter from Dave’s arms, and into his own. Aimee still appeared to be scared, as she looked all around, before burying her head in her father’s shoulder.
“Oh, it’s quite alright, she’s a little shy, with you being from the surface and all. Once again, I’m indebted to you stranger, I don’t know what I’d do if I’d lost my one and only.” he said, with a shaky voice.
Leela stepped in, interjecting “Raoul, this is Dave, he’s a friend of mine, uh, long story short, we were on our way to see my parents, when that boat hit the pilings, and little Aimee fell in.-Oh, you don’t look so good Dave.”
“Raoul, these waters, they’re mutagenic! He jumped in!” Leela shrieked, as she looked Dave up and down.
“No, no, no Leela! He’ll be fine, we decontaminated this waterway over a year ago. The mutagen is only in the west sewer complex now. But still, keep an eye on him!”
“Well then,,, Mr. Dave is it? If you ever need a hand, or three, haha, little mutant joke! But seriously, should you need assistance down here, I am at your service my friend!” Raoul said, with a large smile.
“C’mon, let’s get you to my parents’ place. Get you out of those wet nasty clothes.” Leela began to say, before being interrupted by the sickening sound of Dave becoming physically ill behind a pile of bricks.
Rummaging through one of the boxes, she pulled a bath towel, and blanket out, wrapping them around Dave, as he sat on the rubble pile, waiting for the nausea to subside.
“Morris, Would it kill you to drag the fire barrel over here closer to the couch? The poor man’s soaked right through!”
“Yes dear.” grunted Morris, as he pulled the rusty 55-gallon drum along the bare floor.
All Munda could do was look at the sight in her living room, and laugh a little.
“It seems like every time you kids come down here, some kind of near-disaster occurs. Anyway, thank you for the supplies Leela. Oh, and Dave, that Anti-toxin should have kicked in by now, so you’ll be okay very soon. Coffee anyone?”
By now, Dave was resting somewhat-comfortably on the worn out couch. Leela’s mother kept a specially prepared anti-toxin at the ready, mostly due to Fry always getting sick, or injured poking around his old home city.
Leela leaned over, kissed him on his cheek, resulting in his eyes slowly opening, and meeting her’s.
“Feel any better?”
“Yeah, I do now.” he said, as he stared into the trash barrel fire’s glow reflecting in her glass-smooth eye.
Despite the unpleasant side-effects of swimming in toxic sewer runoff, they were at least finally able to spend some time with each other.
“That was an incredibly brave thing you did back there.” said Morris. “Raoul was sayin’ nobody else jumped in after her, that everyone just stood there watching.”
“Ohh, , , yeah. That poor scared little girl, but she’s alive, that‘s what matters.” Dave lamented.
(Random NNY high-rise apartment building, 02/28/3009 - 1500 NNY time)
“Hellooo? Whew! It’s roasting in here!” Fry said, as he pushed the front door to Jeannie’s apartment open. He seemed oblivious to the strange graphics adorning the walls, and the several open fires burning in strange metal pots around the rooms.
“Hey Fry, you sure you got the right place? I mean, it’s cozy, just like what I’d imagine your humanoid females would love, but this has that dank, blistering hot, Robot-makin’ steel foundry kinda atmosphere about it.” Bender said curiously, as he studied the strange dwelling.
“Yeah, I know what you mean” Fry said, as the pair walked towards a droning sound in the rear of the home, behind a closed door.
As if he’d been heard approaching, the strange sound and eerie light ceased as Fry’s hand touched the door.
Fry nervously leaned on the door, sliding it open by about an inch.
“Hey babe, it’s me, Fry. I kinda dragged Bender along with me, so do you got any extra alch-”
“YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE COME HERE!” Jeannie viciously snapped. Her voice sounding much lower that her usual cheery high-pitch.
“What’s wrong? I thought you’d be happy to see me, what with all the extra runs I’ve had to go on, and you being all busy n’ stuff with the DOOP.
“GO AWAY FRY! I DON‘T WANT TO SEE YOU!” her voice becoming more strained and angrier with each word.
Well, that settles that! Fry’s a lone wolf again, and I get my best friend back! Woo Hoo!” exclaimed Bender, as he did an about-face towards the door.
Fry lingered by the door for a bit. The weight of the situation clearly confused him, but why was she acting like this? Why didn’t she want to see him anymore? The heavy sad feeling he’d known all too well began to fill his chest.
“Yeah, let’s go.” Fry said monotonously as he turned, exiting the apartment behind a happy whistling Bender out onto the cold, rain-slicked sidewalk.
(Planet Express Storage Warehouse, 02/29/3009 - 0200 hours NNY time)
“Okay, Okay! I heard you!” Dave shouted out, after being awakened by furious pounding on the steel double-doors at the back of the warehouse.
Fumbling in the darkness, his hand found the light switch for the dim hallway light. The small window in one of the doors revealed a hard rain outside in the even dimmer light of the streetlamp, and a lone figure trying to peer inside.
With keys in one hand, and a loaded handgun in the other, Dave flipped on the light on the exterior of the doorway, “Step a little closer please.” he yelled, then waited for the shadowy visitor to walk closer to the light.
Satisfied with the person he now easily recognized, Dave quickly unlocked the door, and let in a sharp blast of freezing cold wind, then closing it as quickly as possible when the soaking wet visitor got across the threshold.
Shaking off the icy rivulets of rain, she began to remove the dripping overcoat. “Jeannie? What are you doing here?” Dave said curiously.
“I’m sorry I came here so late, in the awful weather, but, , , I need help, I needed to talk to someone. She said, clearly upset over something, as water continued to drip from her long black hair, still plastered against the side of her head.
Dave handed Jeannie a large bath towel, motioning to a small circular table in the living unit’s kitchenette. She was still dressed in her white & gold DOOP uniform. Dave admired her numerous decorations, the small gold diamonds indicating her rank, and a few rows of odd-colored ribbons.
Jeannie began to talk, but was shaking uncontrollably from exposure. Dave stopped her, placed a large steaming cup of coffee in front of her “Here, drink this before you get hypothermia.” Jeannie gratefully accepted the cup, thanking Dave repeatedly.
When she stopped shaking, Jeannie began to tell Dave about what had caused her to rush out in the middle of the night, into the teeth of an incoming winter storm. She paused to drink deeply again from the cup, basking in the warmth it returned to her.
looking up again at Dave, with a very sad expression on her face, she spoke. “It’s Fry, he broke up with me!” she said, both eyes now beginning to tear up. “He came by my apartment yesterday, said it’s over, said he’d found someone who “got” him, someone who he said had a “kindred spirit” with!” she said, making air quotations again. “Fry said that he’d been trying for years to go out with this woman, and that she’d finally shown some interest back at him! Why? Why would he do that?”
Dave looked at her, thinking to himself for a minute, then asked her “Did Fry say who this woman was?”
Jeannie gulped, then answered loudly “I forgot her name, but she’s that space-pilot with one eye at your company!”
Dave shot up out of his chair “Wait, what? Are you sure?” he said, now feeling a slow burning sensation beginning to grow inside his chest.
Beginning to look almost as upset as Jeannie, Dave repeated his question, hoping she’d say it was somebody else. “Jeannie, , , are you sure he said it was Leela?”
Now beginning to sob into a handkerchief, Jeannie nodded a quick “uh-huh” as he sank back down into the chair. “I saw them a few hours ago! Arm in arm, leaving a bar of all places! Fry’s stupid singing robot was following them too!”
Jeannie flew out the chair, running towards the door. “I’m sorry, I have to go!” she wailed between sobs. A loud crash echoed down the hall, as the coat hanger fell over, and the doors burst open. Dave ran to catch up to her, but as he reached the doors, she had disappeared into the night.
Dave cursed as he locked the double-doors, “No, this isn’t happening, not again!”