The Leelazarus Effect, part 1
Futurama is brought to you by Grork’s wholesale probulators. Grork, the
number one name in probulators and probulator accessories since 2862.
“Good news everyone!”
It always amazed Leela how these three
simple words could drive such a stake of pure unremitting terror
through her heart. Over the years she had faced more than her fair
share of alien monsters, rampaging killbots, and bloody space
battles, but as yet nothing had ever come close to having the effect
of that horrific phrase.
The entire PE crew, sans Amy and
Zoidberg, were sitting around the conference table waiting for the
morning briefing when Farnsworth came shuffling in. Hermes was busy
alphabetizing a stack of anonymous forms. He finished his task as
Leela watched, and then proceeded to shuffle the stack and start
over. A clang followed by a string of barely audible Cantonese
curses drifted over from the direction of the Planet Express Ship.
At the sound of Farnsworth’s
words Fry and Bender threw each other a nervous glance. Leela tried
to assure herself that, no matter where the professor was about to
send them, it couldn’t possibly be worse than Cannibalon, and
she’d managed to survive that fiasco relatively unscathed;
“Today you will be delivering a
crate of drink parasols to Staruba 6, the Paradise Planet.”
“Alright!” Fry gave his
robot friend a high-five “Did you hear that Leela?”, he
asked excitedly, “We’re going to The Paradise Planet!
We’ll live to see another day!”
Leela just sat with her arms crossed.
Long experience told her that if it seemed too good to be true, it
“Of course, ever since the
Necrons took over last February, it’s more like the Death and
Despair planet, but that’s not important. Anyway, off you go!”
Fry’s paused in mid celebration.
“Wait, wha?”, he stammered. Farnsworth just shooed him
in the direction of the waiting rocket ship. Leela waited for her
colleagues to disperse and then stood up. As she reluctantly began
to follow Fry and Bender to the ship, a wrinkly old hand descended
upon her shoulder.
“Where are you going?”,
“Uhh, to the ship?”
“There’s no time for that.
You have to get going if you want to get there in time.”
Leela gave the old man a funny look.
“But it’s a shipment of little umbrellas. It’s not
like it really matters when we get them there.”
“No you ninny. Not the delivery.
The flight exam.”
Now it was Leela’s turn to
stammer confusedly “Wait, Wha?”
“The flight exam you one-eyed
dope! I just told you about it five minutes ago! Every space
captain has to take a test at the DMV each year to renew his or her
Leela was incredulous. “Now hold
on professor. First of all, you weren’t even in the same room
with me five minutes ago. You were in the lounge talking to a lamp.
Get yourself new glasses. Second of all, if space captains are
supposed to take a license renewal test every year, why have I never
heard of it before?”
Hermes looked up from his stack of
forms. “I think I can answer dat”, he said. “Planet
Express has to pay the DMV a substantial fee every time they
administer the test and we can’t afford it”
“But then why are you making me
do it now?”, the cyclops asked, quickly adding: “Not
that I mind missing out on the mission.” Leela stepped aside
as Amy tried get around her. The grease-covered intern headed for
the bathroom, ostensibly to clean herself off before the mission.
“Sorry Leela, but da DMV started
getting suspicious after I filed a death report for the same person
three years in a row, and den hired the same person back at the start
of da next fiscal year.” Leela gave the Jamaican a questioning
look. “It was the only way I could get around da rule,”
he explained sheepishly.
A low hum filled the room as The Planet
Express Ship started to power up. The professor gestured for Leela
to get moving. “Now off you go, or you’ll be late.”
“Wait…” Leela began.
The professor cut her off. “Oh
don’t worry about how we’re going to afford this. We’ll
just take it out of Zoidberg’s salary, like we always do when
there’s an emergency, or any other time for that matter.”
Zoidberg came scuttling into the room
just in time to catch this last remark. “Aww…”,
he groaned as he turned and headed back the way he had come.
The Planet Express captain shook her
head. “No, that’s not what I was going to ask.
The ship’s low hum became a dull
roar. Once again Farnsworth interrupted. “Now now, there’s
no time for more stalling. Now get going.”
“Listen to me! If we’re
here and Amy’s in the bathroom, then who’s powering up
As if on queue, the Planet Express ship
began to levitate off the hangar floor.
Leela was frantic. “Oh no, Fry’s
piloting the ship! I haven’t taught him how to take off yet!”
Farnsworth’s eyes grew wide with
terror. “Dear God, he’ll kill us all!”
The giant green rocket floated to a
height of a couple of feet and then stopped. Leela, Farnsworth, and
Hermes were suddenly face to face with the fusion fires of the ship’s
main dark matter engines. The hangar door started to open. The ship
stayed steady and level. “Wow,” thought Leela, “Fry’s
doing a pretty good job. He might actually make it out of the
Fry put the ship in gear, and the
vessel rocketed forward. Suddenly the Planet Express building was
minus a rear wall.
Zoidberg came rushing in at the noise.
Hermes glared at the lobster angrily. “You’re payin’
for dat too!”
Leela soon found herself at the front
door of the NNY Department of motor vehicles, but hesitated before
entering. She had no love of poorly run government bureaucracies,
this one in particular. The last time she had been here was in the
aftermath of the first Omocronian invasion of Earth. Her car had
been demolished by one of the aliens’ anti-monument lasers. It
had taken months of time and reams of paper to get her to the point
where she could legally drive the car she bought as a replacement.
The cyclops had spent the whole 15
minute drive from Planet Express inventing ways to avoid the pain and
suffering she was sure was ahead, but hadn’t come up with any
options that didn’t involve landing someone in the hospital.
With a sigh Leela shifted the bag she was carrying to her other
shoulder, and opened the door.
The building consisted of a large open
waiting room and a row of two dozen service desks. All but one of
them were closed. As always, the waiting room was filled with an
assortment of the sleaziest, dirtiest denizens of New New York. A
few steps from the front door was a customer service desk A
bureaucrat grade 82 lounged behind the counter as though he were
taking a nap. Leela walked over to him.
“Excuse me, can you tell me wh…”
The man shoved a small slip of paper
into her hand, pointed at an empty seat in the waiting room with a
grunt, and closed his eyes. Leela decided he wasn’t worthy of
an ass kicking and took a seat. A large electronic sign mounted on
the wall in front of her read “now serving number: 17”.
Leela glanced at the piece of paper she had been handed.
“Twenty-three. Well that’s not too bad. I’ll be
out of here in no time.” Then she moved her thumb and noticed
the six that came after the three. “Aww crap.”
“Umm, I’m here for the
The woman behind the counter threw the
cyclops standing before her a disdainful look. “Why do these
customers always ask me to DO things?” muttered the woman. “Do
you have three forms of ID?”
“How about retinal scan,
fingerprint, and colonic map?”
“You can use your retinal scan or
colonic map, not both.”
Leela’s eye narrowed in
annoyance, but she didn’t argue. “Alright, then use my
“Sorry, but that’s from the
same list as fingerprints.”
“Then take a sample of my DNA.”
“Cant do it.”
At this point Leela was about ready to
scream. “The only other ID I brought is my social security
The clerk looked at her console. “Uhh,
alright. That’ll work. Let me see it.” Then she paused
for a moment. “Wait, no I’m sorry. Today’s
Tuesday. We can’t accept social security cards on tuesd…”
But she didn’t finish, for suddenly there came the distinct
impression that to utter another word would lead to sever bodily harm
to herself, her coworkers, and anyone else who happened to have the
bad sense to be within a five block radius of the DMV at this
particular moment. “Umm, you know what? Never mind. Let me
just see that social security card.
“Good idea,” remarked the
cyclops. The comment was said calmly and without malice, but the
clerk still felt a cold shiver crawl up her spine.
“I’m sorry ma’am, but
I can’t pass you.”
“What?! But I’m an
“Lady, you crashed through three
billboards, rear-ended an ambulance, and while we were flying over
The Moon you sent a 4th grade class running for their
lives. That’ll be one recess that they never forget.”
“Oh come on, I stayed in my lane.
And look, my hands were at ten and two the whole time!”
But the instructor wouldn’t hear
any of it. Seeing that there was nothing left for her to say, Leela
sighed and took the paper from the man’s outstretched hand. It
read ‘revocation of commercial vehicle license’.
Evidently they weren’t taking her private driver’s
license too. Thank god. Without saying another word, Leela turned
and walked toward the door. The instructor called after her: “Please
lady, don’t drive home! I’ve got children out there!”
Leela drove straight back to Planet
Express. To her own satisfaction, she didn’t hit a single
billboard along the way. Truth be told she had increased her
following distance just to be safe, but that couldn’t have made
that much of a difference. After all, she only added another half a
car length. Or maybe it was five car lengths. It was always so hard
to tell… Once back at work, Leela parked her car and snuck in
the front door. With any luck the professor would be asleep and
Hermes would be locked away in his cubicle. If she played her cards
right, no one would know she was back until Fry and Bender returned
from the delivery. “Time now for some much needed down time,”
Leela said to herself under her breath. The cyclops flopped down on
the couch and turned the tv on low volume. Some cooking show was on.
Evidently Bender had been watching the tube recently. Leela flipped
the channels for awhile and settled on Everybody Loves Hypnotoad,
which had regained much of it’s luster since it’s low
point in season three. She had just gotten comfortable, indeed her
wrostolojackomator’s comftometer was at 89%, when Amy walked
into the room.
“Oh Hi Leela, I didn’t know
you were back. I’ll go tell the professor.” The intern
turned and walked over to lean out into the hangar.
“Wait Amy! Don’t.”
But Amy wasn’t paying attention
to her. “Professor! Hermes! Leela’s Back!”
Leela collapsed into the sofa. “Aww
crud.” She said it as though it were the most profound
statement she had made all morning.
“I said, I failed the test.”
“You what?!” Farnsworth
tapped at his hearing aid.
Leela rolled her eye. Hermes, who was
standing next to the professor with his arms crossed, took the
liberty of screaming Leela’s words into the old man’s
ear. “She said she failed da test you deaf geeza!!”
Looking slightly offended, the
professor backed away from the bureaucrat and crossed his arms.
“Now, now Hermes, there’s no need for yelling. Use your
inside voice. Oh, and how did the driving test go?”
Only through sheer willpower was Leela
able to keep from throttling the old man. Not for the first time the
cyclops realized how dangerous a place the world would be if she was
a little more impulsive. Dangerous for the world that is.
“For the last time, “ said
the PE captain through clenched teeth. “I took the exam, but
the DMV didn’t pass me. I mean geez, you hit a billboard or
two or mentally scar a bunch of kids for life and suddenly you’re
a ‘hazard to humanity’.”
“Oh fuff, they called me the same
thing after I unleashed those atomic powered, flesh-eating gerbils on
the city last fall. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“Then you’ll still let me
The old man waddled over to Leela’s
side and wrapped a wrinkly arm around the depressed woman’s
shoulder. “There there,” he said, “I’d never
fire you over something like this. That’s Hermes’ job.”
Hermes walked up and handed Leela a pink piece of paper. “Your
fired,” he said.
“… So anyway, that’s
why I need my old job back.”
The early-evening sunlight streamed in
through the 64th floor windows of Applied Cryogenics.
Leela had to squint to distinguish the figure sitting behind the
large mahogany desk from the glare that surrounded him like a halo.
“Oh, Leela, I would most
certainly love to give you a job.” Ipgee’s patent Indian
accent made Leela think about smiling. Still, she couldn’t
help but wonder how out of all of the people she’d come across
in her time as starship captain, his had been the only such accent
“But, “ continued Ipgee,
“I’m afraid I don’t have a position for a delivery
Leela sighed. “For the last time
sir, that was my friend’s career chip. They got mixed up
somehow while I was implanting them.”
“Ah, the pointy haired idiot that
was always saying ‘what up?’, yes I remember him. He was
the best cryogenics councilor we ever had, until he mysteriously
“He didn’t mysteriously
vanish, he and his girlfriend froze themselves in one of your tubes;
well at least until someone dumped them in a ditch and the tube woke
them up again… Hey, wait a minute… Fry was a better
cryogenics councilor that I was?”
“Shiva yes, even better than you.
He was so good that most of the defrostees he counseled decided to
freeze themselves again right away. We’ve never had so many
repeat customers. Now let me see your hand so I can verify that you
really have the right chip”
Leela held out her palm while Ipgee
scanned it with a small handheld device. The hoverscreen over the
man’s desk uttered a muffled beep, and the words ‘Cryogenics
Councilor’ flashed into existence in green print.
“Ah yes, very good. How someone
in a society that fires people into the sun for not doing the job the
government assigned them managed to have so many different careers, I
do not know, but as long as that screen says ‘cryogenics
councilor’ it does not matter to me.”
Leela relaxed noticeably. “thanks
Ipgee. I really appreciate it.” That was a bit of an
understatement really. If Ipgee had turned her down, her next stop
would have been the horrible pizza place down the street; after she
illegally swapped career chips again of course.
The full moon was directly overhead
when Leela finally made it back to her apartment building. The
cyclops had gone from her interview with Ipgee straight to her old
office to restore it to the way she liked it. That had been a
mistake. Some screwball from the 21st century had thawed out around
9 o’clock, and Leela was forced to deal with him. The people
from the stupid ages were the worst They invariably did something to
warrant their epoch’s less than illustrious title. Some stared
slack jawed at Leela’s eye; others ran away from the career
chip implanter. A few of the geekier ones had even been known to
give lectures on how various things from the 31st century
defied the laws of physics. Of course, they were too ignorant to
know that the real laws of physics hadn’t been discovered until
Leela paused as her room came into
view. A familiar red, blue, and pink shape was sitting hunched over
against her door.
“Fry?”, she asked. The
only response was the sound of steady breathing. Leela walked over
to her sleeping friend. “Fry, ” she called again, but
the delivery boy just mumbled something incoherent and started to
snore. “Come on Fry, wake up. I need to get into my
apartment.” Leela bent down and placed a hand on her friend’s
shoulder. The effect was explosive.
“Bender no! I need that to
breathe!”, screamed the delivery boy as he bolted to his feet.
He stood pressed against the wall with his arms protecting his chest
for a long moment before his brain began to process the information
that his eyes were sending it.
Finally he relaxed. “Oh Leela,
it’s you! I was dreaming about that time when Bender stole my
lungs. Thanks for waking me up.”
“Uhh, don’t mention it.”
Leela stood up. “But Fry, why on Earth were you sleeping in
front of my door?”
It took a second for Fry’s mind
to switch gears. “What? Oh right… Umm, well when I
got back from the delivery I was hoping that you’d take me up
in the ship for more flying lessons, but when I asked the professor
where you were he told me that Hermes fired you. I came here right
after work to see how you were doing, but I guess I fell asleep.
Heh, running from those Necrons must have taken more out of me than I
Leela smiled at her friend. “That
was very sweet of you Fry.” The cyclops opened the door.
“Want to come in for some coffee?” she asked.
The delivery boy’s eyes grew
“Don’t get any funny ideas
Fry. By coffee I mean coffee… nothing else.”
“Oh don’t worry Leela, “
snickered the red head, “there wasn’t anything funny
about the ideas I was getting.”
The cyclops narrowed her eye just long
enough to make Fry wonder if she was going to slam the door in his
face, and then walked into her apartment. Fry waited until Leela’s
hands were no longer in range of the doorknob before he followed her
“I really need to furnish this
place.” It didn’t matter how many times she said this
to herself, for some reason Leela never actually went through with
it. Other than a single armchair, a television, and a digital clock
the main room was basically empty. Fry had been at a loss as to
where to sit when Leela plopped herself down in the chair.
Eventually he’d just settled on leaning against the TV.
“… And that’s how
Bender and I fought off the entire Necronian death legion with
nothing more than a pool cue and one of Bender’s empty beer
“Uh-huh. I’m sure that
MacGyver guy you’re always talking about would have been proud.
Anyway, So who’s the new captain?“
Fry’s face brightened.
Consequently, Leela felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
“The professor hasn’t
decided yet,” Fry admitted, “but until we can find
someone crazy or desperate enough to want the job, he’s letting
me fly the ship!”
Leela was incredulous. “No way!
He’s letting you pilot his ship? After you crashed it
through the wall not 24 hours ago?!”
“Well Amy can’t do it
because her classes start up in a couple of weeks, Hermes is too busy
handling the paperwork, everybody hates Zoidberg for some reason, and
you remember what happened the last time we let Bender drive the
Oh yes, Leela remembered. How could
she not? It had taken more than a day of digging with picks and
shovels to dislodge the ship from that neutron star. Worst of all,
she was still finding bits of degenerate matter on her clothing. No
matter what she tried, she just couldn’t get rid of the stuff.
Of course, it wouldn’t be that much of a problem if it weren’t
for the fact that a tablespoon of the stuff weighed more than four
trillion pounds on Earth… But no, Bender could not be allowed
near the pilot’s seat under any circumstances.
“Yeah, I guess you’re the
best choice for the job,” Leela grudgingly agreed “I
guess you’ll need my old career chip then.” The cyclops
slipped a hand into her hip pocket and pulled out the tiny slab of
silicon, but Fry stopped her before she could rummage through her
handbag for the career chip gun.
“No, that’s alright Leela.
No one who cares knows that I don’t have the right chip. You
hold on to it for awhile. It might help you remember the good old
days when you’re job didn’t suck and you got to work with
all of your friends.”
“Uhh, thanks. I think.”
“Hey, making you feel better is
what I’m for.” Fry happened to glance at the clock.
“Wow, it’s already 2:30. Sorry Leela, but I need to get
going. If I don’t get home before Bender does, he’ll
steal all my stuff again.”
Leela sighed and stood up. “Yeah,
I guess I should probably get some rest too. I have to be at Applied
Cryogenics at 7:30 to defrost some guy named Walt Disney.”
Fry followed his friend to the door and
waited for her to open it. As the door swung open, Leela turned to
look at him. Fry smiled at her.
Leela smiled back. Fry really was so
awfully sweet, and he always meant well. She had always known that
someday there would be more between them than simple friendship, but
now that they didn’t work together anymore that might never
happen. “Maybe I should say something,” she thought. It
would be so easy to just tell him how she felt, it would just take a
sentence or two. He was a good person. Leela knew that he wouldn’t
hurt her like all of those other men had. Why then was it so
impossible for her to speak?
While Leela fought through a turmoil of
uncertainty, Fry had plenty of time to wish her a good night, wave,
and walk calmly away.
“Fry wait!” Leela called
after him, but the elevator doors had already closed.
The next morning was warm and bright.
The many spindly skyscrapers blocked most of the orange-tinted
sunlight, but every once in awhile a stray beam would make its way to
the stirring city streets. Leela took a moment to bask in a pool of
light that was being reflected and concentrated by a mirrored
building across the street. She let the warmth soak through her for
a few seconds and continued on her way, whistling contentedly to
In the back of her mind a voice was
commenting that she was in a far better mood than any woman who had
just been fired had any right to be, but she pushed the rogue thought
away before it could have any affect on her. “I’m
allowed a few minutes of complete happiness” she assured
herself, “after all, I made a big decision last night.”
Complete happiness, now there was a
state of mind with which Leela had almost no familiarity. Every time
she’d come close to it something devastating happened. Over
the years Leela had built a veritable mental fortress around herself
to keep herself safe during the times that people she let close
decided to hurt her. “Like Shawn,” she muttered. A
young Neptunian who happened to be walking by turned at the sound of
the cyclops’ voice, but Leela ignored him. The purple creature
shrugged and continued on his way.
“This time it will be different,
“ Leela assured herself, this time silently. “He won’t
get bored and leave me for another woman at the first opportunity.
I’ve known him for years. He’s not that kind of man.”
For the first time in her life, Leela knew she wasn’t just
trying to convince herself of it, she knew it with a conviction she
had never had about a man before.
“But when to ask him out?”
If she waited too long, she’d just end up chickening out.
“This Friday then, after work?” Leela thought for a
moment. No, she’d been down that road before. If she waited
that long she’d end up convincing herself to wait even longer.
Eventually she’d just put it off indefinitely. No. If she was
going to do this thing it would have to be right now. It was the
A wave of anxiety washed over her as
she prepared to activate her wristlojackomator. She swallowed the
feeling with some effort and dialed in the phone number from memory.
“Planet Express, this is Amy
speaking.” The intern’s bored face came into view on
Leela’s tiny screen, framed by the Planet Express conference
room. A pang of loss crept up unbidden at the sight of the familiar
scene, but Leela forced that feeling away as well. There’d be
time to feel sorry for herself later.
“Hi Amy, can I talk to Fry?”
“Oh, hi Leela. Sorry, Fry’s
out on a delivery already.”
“Shoot, I was afraid he’d
be gone already… Ok, could you do me a favor then? Tell him
to call me as soon as he gets back.”
Leela sighed and idly tapped her
fingers on her desk. The last thing she had expected was to get to
work and find that there was no work to be done. No one was
scheduled for defrosting until the following day, and since it was
Leela’s first full day back, she didn’t have any recent
defrostees to counsel. Of course, Ipgee wasn’t about to let
her go home early on a non-holiday. No, if she wanted to get paid
for the day then she would be there for every last excruciating
minute of her shift, even if all she did was stare at the clock the
whole time. That’s exactly what she had been doing for the
last 15 minutes.
“If only I could get my mind to
stop thinking about this evening…” Leela sighed again
and stood up. For a few minutes she wandered about her office,
straightening a stack of papers here, rearranging a few objects
there, keeping herself occupied with pointless tasks. Eventually
Leela ran out of objects to fiddle with, and wandered out of the
room. While her mind raced, her legs worked on autopilot. For no
particular reason, the distracted woman ended up in the freezer room.
She strolled idly from tube to tube, inspecting the contents of
each. The first contained an old man in 25nd century
garb. The next tube contained a very young girl, probably no older
than 14 or 15. What she was doing frozen in a tube at her age, the
ex PE captain couldn’t even begin to guess. The next several
tubes were empty, but the second to last contained a young man, maybe
19 or 20, dressed in the garb of the early 21st century.
A vaguely sad expression was frozen on his face. Leela looked at him
for a moment and then turned to the last tube, which was not only
empty, but open. “Of course”, she said. “That’s
the tube that held the guy from last night.”
Finished with her boredom-induced
inspection, Leela wandered the few steps to the room’s sole
chair and sat down. Putting her legs up on the nearby desk, Leela
leaned back and stretched, letting the chair tilt back on two legs.
Unfortunately, her distracted mind failed to balance her weight
properly. Leela realized what was going to happen a fraction of a
second too late to do anything about it.
The chair’s center of mass
drifted too far backward, and gravity seized its opportunity. Leela
found herself rolling backward and downward. Suddenly she was rolling
across the floor. Her momentum carried her head over heels into the
open freezer tube. With a snick, the cryogenic chamber’s door
closed behind her. A dial on the machine began to spin. Leela
banged on the glass, trying desperately to escape what was about to
happen. The spinning stopped, and a tiny LED screen flashed on. The
screen read ‘1000 years”. The frantic woman screamed and
thrashed about, but it was no use and she knew it. “No! Let
me out! I…” There was a flash.