This is my latest one-off fic, a short story inspired by THM's wonderfully delirious "Shots Fired,"
which you all should read right now. This is part one of two, and the second half is coming soon. Also, the title is
now changed and permanent. Enjoy, peeps!THE ECHO OF GUNFIRE
A workday devoid of deliveries and general crew/equipment mishaps afforded Leela a relatively early quitting time. The sun was still pretty high in the sky and the warm afternoon was full of possibilities. She could go catch a mid-afternoon meal at a sidewalk cafe, grab Nibbler and go for a leisurely stroll in Central Park, or even take her daily workout routine outdoors. Were this any other day, any one of these - perhaps all three - would be desirable enough for her to want to do them. Today, though, this bright spring day took a backseat to Leela's internal weather, which might be equivalent to the sun shining during a heavy rain squall.
For yesterday had been a day of closure. After spending her entire life not being completely certain of her true origins, thinking she may have been part of an alien race and sent to Earth for her own well-being, Leela was finally blessed with the opportunity of meeting the two people who brought her into this world. Morris - her father, a balding, good-natured man with a sideways mouth. Munda, her mother - a sweet, worrisome lady with tentacle arms. Each of them sharing the large solitary eye which they passed onto their estranged daughter, thus confirming the relations. She was no alien, she was a sewer mutant. And she couldn't be happier.
Leela spent the rest of the day with her parents, catching up with them and learning of their lives as they had been played out in the dank ruins of Old New York. In return, she was comforted by their admonition that they had always watched over her from the time she was a baby. The afternoon flew by as the reunited Turanga family conversed, joked, cried, laughed, and healed together. Finally, the time had come for Leela to return to the surface world - perhaps way past time, as it had come to be 2 AM and she'd normally have to be up in four hours to go to work. It was a sad parting, but both parties took comfort in that this time the goodbyes would not be permanent. Leela climbed out of the manhole cover she'd originally entered and walked home. On her way, she replayed the events of the entire day over and over in her mind, forward and backward, not entirely sure they had actually happened. However, the stank of dried sewer water embedded in the fibers of her tanktop and tights confirmed otherwise.
Leela strolled into her apartment wearing an almost dreamy smile. She addressed Nibbler's hungry whimpers with a few hams before dressing down and retiring to bed. Sleep did not come immediately for she lay stretched out in bed, relaxed and content, still replaying and analyzing the events from the happiest day of her life. Still going over how she felt when she first laid her eye upon those of her parents. How happy she was when she felt their loving embrace, a sensation she had longed to feel since her childhood.
How she had almost vaporised them a moment earlier.
This dark fact shook Leela from her reverie. Just before the elation of the revelation was the fear and anger at the unknown. She had run helter-skelter through the sewage-filled underworld in pursuit of two figures who seemed to know about her for reason she could not comprehend. She would have shot them dead for confessing to a crime they did not commit until Fry vindicated them, something she would love him forever for. A fraction of a second was all that stood between the two outcomes. A fraction of a second longer with her finger on that trigger. A fraction of a second between answers she now knew to the questions she always had, and questions that would have gone forever unanswered. Leela never thought her temper would be pushed to the point where she'd actually kill somebody, and the one time she was she almost ended up taking the lives of those who had given her life. This was too much for her to handle; she brought her knees up to her chest and began to sob heavily. It was the last thing she remembered before drifting off to slumber.
Morning came way too soon. Leela slammed a fist down on her alarm clock and rubbed her eye, still moist and irritated from crying herself to sleep. She climbed out of bed to begin her day, though she didn't do so with the same sense of purpose she normally would. Her mental exhaustion from ceaseless analysis of recent events and little sleep had manifested itself physically, and she would have rather gone back to bed. Shirking responsibilities wasn't in her nature at all, and so she trudged off to work weighed down by the circumstances.
The entire workday was carried out in a fog. Leela sat and gathered information at the morning meeting with Hermes - something about a delivery to Osiris 4 next week and getting the ship in proper shape. She carried out the activities with efficiency, but remained in her funk the entire day. The rest of the crew noticed this, as she barely said a word to any of them - even when Fry or Bender screwed up something in a way only either of them could. At one point, Fry came up to Leela and made a sincere offer to talk about what was on her mind. She politely declined but thanked him all the same with a peck on the cheek, as she usually did when he'd done something sweet.
So there she was, treading down the walk to her apartment building, her mind still wracked with equal parts elation, stupefaction, sleep-deprivation, and grief over what could have been. She came through the door of her apartment and locked it behind her. She got worried when Nibbler didn't rush to the door to greet her happily, so she crept over to the bedroom doorway and there he was on the bed, sound asleep. Relieved, she trudged back out to the living room to sit down on her lone chair. For the first few minutes, she did nothing but stare blankly at the wall, letting the silence clear her mind to the point that the fog had temporarily burned off.
When she did have a coherent thought again, it was the realization that she needed to head out to the grocery store if she wanted to eat that night. That's when it hit her that in the midst of spending the day being lost in the folds of her own brain tissue, she'd forgotten to eat. A Femislim injection wouldn't do tonight, she'd have to treat herself to something substantial. Leela picked up a pad of paper and pen that she usually kept beside the chair for whatever reason she needed it, and began to sketch out a shopping list.
V16 vegetable juice
1/2 lb. soylent cheese
The room was still deafeningly quiet, only the subtle scribbling of pen on paper threatening the purity of silence. Leela took notice of this, as the sound of scribbling was one of her pet peeves, and she was starting to find the silence wearing on her mood. She skipped a few lines and noted.
"It's quiet in here most of the time."
Even though she was conscious of the fact she wrote this, it still took her aback. And, what's more, she felt like going further.
"I don't like it and it shouldn't be, because all I can do is think."
What the hell was this? She was supposed to be writing a shopping list, not prattling on about trivial things.
And yet she didn't feel like stopping. She kept writing. And writing. And writing on and on. The more she wrote, the more urgency with which she wrote. These words needed to get out of her as fast as possible, and the speed at which they came was bound by the speed at which Leela could make the muscles in her wrist and hand move.
An hour or so later, she was done. She slammed her the writing pad down on the floor emphatically and threw her head back in exhaustion. Her weariness was starting to get the better of her, but suddenly she could think more clearly. Before she could think too much, however, she nodded off.
She awoke to a wet tongue licking her face. Nibbler had climbed up on his owner and was whimpering at her as he licked, probably because he was hungry and wanted her to solve it. Leela picked up Nibbler from her chest and held him, stroking his fur and and consoling him with coos. After a few moments enjoying the company of her pet, she set him on the floor and stood up to stretch. Her nap had done her a world of good, even if she had slept so long that it was now almost dark. She was not as bothered by recent events, either, possibly thanks to whatever it is she'd written before she conked out.
she written, anyway? Leela picked up the notepad she'd chucked down beside her earlier. As she read her earlier scribblings, her mouth dropped open. Where these words had come from, she had no idea. She didn't even know she was capable of such sentiments. Earlier, she had been full of words, and now Leela was at a loss for them.
And she was still pretty damn hungry.