The Other, Part 18
By Rye Guy
September 7th, 3003...
The Professor is busy in his lab at Planet Express, setting up the new sensors that had arrived the other day. He holds the computer face against the frame of the computer itself and screws the face plate on. With the last screw in place, he flips a small switch and with a hum, the sensor activates. A look of success about him, he claps his hands together eagerly and wipes a bit of sweat from his brow with a rag.
"Now, with these new upgrades, I should be able to track the source of those power surges." he scratches his chin, "Now, I just need Skyler and I can put my theory to the test."
The door slides open and Skyler comes limping in on his right leg. "Hey Professor."
He grins. "Speak of the devil."
"What?" asks Sklyer with a curious look.
The Professor shrugs. "Oh, nothing. What's wrong with your leg?"
"Damn thing's gone out on me again. It happened the other day when I jumped over that table down in Robot Hell. I must have landed on it at the wrong angle cause now my ankle joint doesn't want to work." he limps over to the counter in the center of the lab.
"Any way I can help?"
"Thanks, but I've had to repair it myself dozens of times over the years." He sits on a stool by the counter, rolls up his left pant leg and presses the green-dot tattoo just above his knee. With the same hiss and click as before, he carefully pulls off the mechanical leg and sets it down on the table.
The Professor quickly adjusts his glasses and begins looking over the leg itself. The leg is fully mechanical. Yet, compared to other artificial limbs of their time, it looks a bit primitive. It looks as though it was comprised of various junk from old robots or ship and car parts. There isn't even any artificial skin on it, which the Professor finds very odd.
"That's strange. When Amy and Bender told me about what happened on Battletopia 7 some months back, they described your leg as looking human before you removed it. Don't you have some artificial skin for it?"
"Yeah I used to. But I didn't have the proper materials to make it. So I had to use mainly rubber, which unfortunately gives out over time. And with all these deliveries and traveling across the galaxy these past few months, I've put this leg through a lot. So the rubber just deteriorated completely due to such extreme use."
"Did you build this yourself?"
Skyler nods. "Not all by myself, I had some help from my friend."
The Professor scratches his chin. "Who is he? Does he have any experience in robotics?"
He shrugs. "A little I guess. He knew enough to make this leg. I learned all I know from him." He smiles as he stares down to the table. "Everything I know about robotics, piloting, even fighting I learned from him."
The Professor takes a seat next to him; his interest growing. "He must be important to you."
"His name was Scott. He was my mentor. After my dad was killed, Scott showed up out of nowhere and helped raise me. He took me under his wing and taught me so much. The training was tough, especially living on a planet engulfed by war. But he pushed me beyond my limits. He would always tell me that I had a purpose in my life, something big; and it would take all of this training and more for me to fulfill it."
"So, did you ever fulfill your purpose?"
He grins and looks up to the old man's thick glasses. "Not yet. But I have a feeling I will soon." he yawns and rubs his eyes.
"Up late last night?"
"What do you expect, I was worried about Leela. After that stunt she pulled the other day I've been trying to keep in contact with her to help keep her calm. But she won't answer my calls or open the door when I come over. So Amy's been talking to her for me."
A smile appears on his wrinkled face. "Here, why don't you lay down and rest Skyler, while I work on this leg for you? Hell, I'll build you a brand new one."
Skyler glances at him with a bit of hesitancy in his eyes. "Promise me that you won't craft a laser cannon or bone saw on it and you've got a deal."
"I'll do nothing of the sort. In fact, if you don't trust me you can relax in here."
He looks around the room. "No offense Professor, but I don't find counter tops very comfortable."
He reaches into a drawer and pulls out a small white cube about the size of a box of matches with a small string coming out from it's top and hands it to Skyler.
"What is it?" he asks.
"A little invention of mine. It's a portable mattress and pillow all in one. Just set it down on the floor and pull the string."
Skyler does as he is instructed and the small cube quickly inflates into a full size single mattress with a pillow at it's end. He shrugs his shoulders. "Well, I guess a nap couldn't hurt anything." He turns to the Professor. "You sure you don't mind me sleeping here?"
"Of course not. I insist."
"Okay." With that, Skyler lies down on the mattress and rests his head on the soft pillow and finds it is surprisingly comfy. Within just a few short minutes, he has fallen fast asleep.
The Professor smiles deviously. "Now's my chance." He switches on the sensors and places a small foot high tracker with a blinking red light on it's top by the slumbering young lad. "If my theory is correct, this will show that he is somehow connected these power surges. Now to just sit and wait. I'll work on the leg in the meantime." And so, he begins searching through a large cabinet on the wall to find some parts he can use for the new leg. An eager smile is on his face as he hopes his theory is true; having faith in his machines is enough for him.
In the midst of a darkened hallway, two young men stand at the end. The first is Skyler, to his right is Scott. Scott is a very muscular man of thirty-six with long dark hair that reaches to the middle of his back; he also has a goatee and is wearing a dirty brown coat that is worn from years of wear and tear. In Skyler's hand is a strange golden rod about twelve inches in length with three prongs on the bottom and a red button on the top. He clinches his fingers around it tightly and bites his lip nervously. With confusion and doubt occupying his thoughts, he turns to his mentor who places a hand on his shoulder.
"You have to do this," assures Scott. "This has been appointed to you. Only you can prevent this."
Skyler shakes his head. "I can't. What if I fail?"
Scott quietly cups his hands over Skyler's right hand which is holding the device. "You won't. Just remember what I taught you." He presses the button and shoves Skyler down the hallway. "Timing is everything!" he shouts.
Skyler yells as an electrical energy overcomes his body in the form of an almost yellow lightning. The bolts of electricity spread to consume him and he vanishes in a bright flash. Scott stands alone in the cold empty hall, at least he seems alone. He turns to a shadowed corner and a small figure emerges from the darkness with the sounds of small feet taking quick steps.
"You really think this will work?" asks Scott.
"You learned from your mistakes. No doubts there. I have faith in you," responds the small creature with a surprisingly deep bellowing voice.
Scott smirks. "See now that's the part I don't understand."
"Faith isn't something you're supposed to understand; it's just something you're supposed to have," the creature remarks with a glimmer of hope in his eyes as he ponders on the profound meaning of those words.
"Dear Lord!" exclaims the Professor as his sensors beep sporadically with increasing speed. "I was right!" He glances over at Skyler whom he has strapped down to the examination table. The electrodes on his temples are vibrating for some unknown reason. Before the Professor can deactivate the machine, the monitor explodes. The explosion combined with the screaming of the Professor cause Skyler to awake with quite a jolt.
He attempts to get up but can't because of the straps holding him to the table. "What's going on?! What are you doing?!" he asks trying to break the bonds.
The Professor tries to hold him down. "Relax! Relax!"
"What the hell are you doing to me?!"
He thinks of the best possible explanation he can offer. "Just running an expirament!"
With a loud snap, Skyler breaks the bonds on his arms and throws them across the room. He sits up and yanks the electrodes off the sides of his head and on his chest. Reaching forward to break the bonds around his legs he notices that both of his legs look perfectly normal. Sliding his hand down his left leg he is amazed that he can actually feel his hand on his leg.
"I-I can feel it." He pinches and squeezes parts of his leg and all of it he can feel and all of it feels like a real leg.
The Professor presses a button which causes the straps to undo themselves, freeing Skyler. He turns on the table to let both his legs hang down over the side. His left foot lowers to the floor first as he begins to step off the table. His foot touches the tile floor and he jerks his leg back up. He looks to the Professor with an expression of shock and yet happiness on his face.
"The floor's cold. I felt it. What....what did you do?"
The old man scratches the back of his head and smiles. "I just took some of your DNA and cloned the part of your leg that was missing. Then I went about the arduous task of attaching it to your body and reconnecting all the nerve endings and blood vessels and what have you. The whole process only took about four hours. I gave you a shot of anesthesia while you were asleep so I could perform the procedure without waking you."
Speechless, Skyler stands and steps over to him. "Why did you do this for me?"
He shrugs. "Well, why not? You're practically family now. But there's something else..."
A nervous Skyler takes a step away. "What?"
The Professor tries to come up with a good way to explain himself. "It also gave me a chance to test these sensors." He points to the burning hunk of machinery on the table.
"Test them on what?"
"You. Ever since the day you arrived, these sensors have been detecting strange energy surges unlike anything I've ever come across. These surges are more prominent when you have one of your black outs that you tend to suffer from. I just want to know if my theory is correct."
Skyler is about to ask what theory, but stops as fear and nervousness take hold of him.
"I just had to know if they were somehow connected with you."
"So did you get your answer?"
In a dark bedroom of a lonely apartment, a young woman cries out in pain. Leela has become a wreck. She has isolated herself to her apartment; away from work, away from her friends and her family, away from the world itself. All that runs through her mind is her intolerable guilt and loneliness; still thinking it was her fault that her fiancee' disappeared.
There are no lights on in her secluded world that she has created for herself out of her own fear and uncertainty. The only glimmer of light is a beam of sun shine coming in through an opening in the curtains. The beam rests solely on a photograph of Fry that sits atop the table at her bedside.
Leela lay on the bed, completely hid under the covers so as not to see or be seen by Fry's smiling face on the mantle in the light. Her cries are muffled by the pillows which she clings onto as if they were her lost love, burying her face into them like the strong chest of the one she longs for.
She pulls back the covers enough to allow her to see his picture. "Fry, please come back. Where are you? Why can't I find you?" she cries.
Frustration building up inside her, she sits up and throws a pillow at the picture. The frame shatters and falls to the floor. She hears a beep sound from the pillow striking her answering machine as well. Burying her face in her hands, an electronic voice speaks from the machine, "You have five new massages..."
Message Number 1: "Hey Leela, it's Amy. Call me back when you can. Please."
Message Number 2: "Hey, it's Skyler. You there? Come on Leela, pick up. Look, I know you don't want to talk to me, but please just hear me out. Don't punish yourself like this. You haven't done anything wrong except for losing your faith. He will come back. Please, call me if you get a chance."
Message Number 3: "Leela? Amy again. I came by earlier but you wouldn't open the door. I know you were there, I...I could hear you crying. God, I hate to see you like this. Please call me soon."
Message Number 4: "Hello Leela, it's Zapp. Amy called me and told me of what happened. If there's any way Kif and I can help, don't hesitate to ask. I want to make up for how much of a jerk I was to you in the past. Just call me back, if you want to that is. Bye."
Leela looks up to the machine is a bit of disbelief. "Zapp? And he's being THIS nice? My God, he has changed." She chuckles a bit as the machine beeps to the fifth and final message.
Message Number 5: ...................
The message is nothing but some electronic fuzz and static.
A faint yet familiar voice whispers. The machine beeps with the end of the message. She immediately sits up and stares at the machine.
"That sounded like...it couldn't be."
She quickly crawls on the bed towards the table and presses the replay button on the machine. The first four messages from Amy, Skyler and Zapp all play normally; but the fifth message won't play back. According to the machine, there are only those four messages. Somehow, someway, the fifth message has been deleted.
Leela collapses on the bed and rubs her forehead and concentrates. "There's no way that could have been him. It sounded like Fry's voice. But...I must be going crazy. I've been cooped up in this room for too long. I need some fresh air."
With that, she stands and walks over to the balcony. Upon, pulling back the blinds, she spots something on the balcony floor; it's a rose petal. Leela opens the door and steps out where she carefully bends down and picks up the petal; holding it tightly in her palm as she stands. Thinking one of her neighbors must be trimming some roses on their balcony, she casually glances around to all the surrounding balconies to see where it came from but sees no roses anywhere.
"That's odd." Not giving it much thought, she opens her hand and lets the gentle breeze carry the petal. Watching it intently as it drifts away, she doesn't notice another rose petal landing gently by her feet; soon followed by two more. Suddenly, it begins literally raining rose petals exclusively where she stands. She opens her arms and spins around on her toes happily as the petals build up around her. Not knowing why they are comforting her or even where they are coming from. Leela stops spinning and looks to the floor to find that just as suddenly as they came, the petals have all vanished. No trace of them anywhere below her.
"I'm insane. Why God? Why are you doing this to me?! Do you enjoy watching me suffer?!" Crying, she runs back into her room and sits on the bed where she weeps by the shattered photograph.
Outside on the balcony, there is one lonely rose petal twirling on the floor in the breeze.
To be continued
Well, everyone. Sorry for the abrupt hiatus. But things were just way too hectic and out of control. I didn't want to take such a long break, but I had to or I was going to go crazy. Anyways, I hope the wait was worth it. Now that I've gotten a chance to sort things out, experience more of life's wonders, joys, and horrors; I have been greatly inspired. I just hope that you all got what you were waiting for. And rest assured that now that I'm back to my old self, you can bet that you'll be seeing more chapters of The Other as well as other fics and pics on the way. Thanks for all those who offered support and encouragement. Namely, ExTwist, Graham, Missy, and Marcus Abroad just to name a few. As usual, stay tuned for Chapter 19 coming soon....