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: death clock, time zone change  (Read 17196 times)
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DOOP Secretary
« #240 : 02-16-2008 07:52 »

Originally posted by JustNibblin':

The Professor waved his hand in dismissal.  “Oh, big whoop, as your
people used to say.  You’re a human, she’s almost human.  Humans are inefficient, unreliable, have terrible taste in music, and are completely useless at remembering things. In fact, human memory is so useless that it will completely forget things that did happen, and sometimes even remember things that never happened at all! Two witnesses to an event can remember completely different things and be absolutely sure they're one-hundred percent accurate. Even the witch-doctors you stupid-ages people called 'scientists' knew this. They called it the Rashomon effect.”

O'Brien smiled faintly. ‘You are no metaphysician, Winston,’ he said. ‘Until this moment you had never considered what is meant by existence. I will put it more precisely. Does the past exist concretely, in space? Is there somewhere or other a place, a world of solid objects, where the past is still happening?’


‘Then where does the past exist, if at all?’

‘In records. It is written down.’

‘In records. And—?’

‘In the mind. In human memories.’

‘In memory. Very well, then. We, the Party, control all records, and we control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not?’

‘But how can you stop people remembering things?’ cried Winston again momentarily forgetting the dial. ‘It is involuntary. It is outside oneself. How can you control memory? You have not controlled mine!’

O'Brien's manner grew stern again. He laid his hand on the dial.

‘On the contrary,’ he said, ‘you have not controlled it. That is what has brought you here. You are here because you have failed in humility, in self-discipline. You would not make the act of submission which is the price of sanity. You preferred to be a lunatic, a minority of one. Only the disciplined mind can see reality, Winston. You believe that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own right. You also believe that the nature of reality is self-evident. When you delude yourself into thinking that you see something, you assume that everyone else sees the same thing as you. But I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact that you have got to relearn, Winston. It needs an act of self-destruction, an effort of the will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane.’

All and all, I'm still waiting for the chrono-synclastic infundibulum.  :p

Delivery Boy
« #241 : 02-16-2008 10:21 »

This story is friggin fantastic!

Bending Unit
« #242 : 02-17-2008 11:27 »

Hehe...'Rashomon'.  Neat!  :)

And we get closer and closer to the where we 'started', and now Fry has some idea about what happened to him, and even a flash as to who might be doing it. And now Fry has to get past Leela to the ship - that in itself should be interesting. JN, you are most definitely kicking ass and taking names in this here story!


Urban Legend
« #243 : 02-17-2008 11:47 »

most excellent, JN.  as usual.

Oh yeah, SolyentOrange, I'll let you out if you promise to put some space travel in your next update...

I think I can manage that  :) 

Space Pope
« #244 : 02-17-2008 16:25 »

Thanks for the link to that old thread, coldy; I always enjoy some intellectual stimulation.

This section... yeah. Just fantastic. Like you said, finally some glimmer of hope. The way the illuminatory conversation is interspersed with the humorous description of the furniture in the lab - first rate. Nice touch with the sunflower.

I have to wonder, how (and why) did you think to have this finished by November 27?   :confused: Personally I wouldn't mind if it goes on till about May.

Delivery Boy
« #245 : 02-20-2008 05:44 »

WOW... Wow.
This fic is made of awesome! Now you've given us this brief taste of what's going on, I can't wait to find out the rest.

some day I'll write a constructive review that doesn't just say "awesome" and die of shock.

Bending Unit
« #246 : 02-26-2008 01:23 »
« : 03-08-2008 23:00 by JustNibblin´ »

Coldangel:  Thanks for that link.  That whole thread was actually really intriguing, and shows there is indeed nothing new under the sun.  At least on PEEL     :rolleyes: .

Xanfor:  I am so proud I figured out you were quoting "1984" without resorting to Google.  Quite literary you are, with your Chekov's weaponry and such.  I admit I did have to cheat to get the Vonnegut reference...

Speaking of Vonnegut, thanks SW!

km73:  Yeah, I had no idea it would take this long to reach this point!  Classic fanfic author trap.  I think only being able to post every other week is part of the problem, and at the rate I'm going you may get your wish about May.

I first set a date of Nov. 27 because I was afraid no one would read fanfiction after BBS release, and wanted to have a story that tied into it.  Guess I was wrong about the fanfiction!

kaotik: Yay, the aussie contingent is complete!

Next to last update before we reach the "beginning" of the story.  Whew!  Thanks for coming all this way!

Bender staggered up the stairway, fighting a losing battle to keep his newfound wealth from dribbling out of his chest and onto the floor. With all the Nixon bills floating away from him, he looked a bit like a tree losing its leaves.  As he reached the top of the stairs, he cautiously peered around the corner.  Amy, Leela, and whatshislobsterface were huddled around the Professor’s doorway.  As he watched, the doors opened, and the group dashed in.

He heard a shout, and then a scream.

“Stop screaming, Fry!”

“Here, Leela, I think I can reach him from -Gwaah!”

There was a loud crash, and from the far end of the corridor, Hermes emerged from of his office, looking puzzled.  However, the sounds from the laboratory quickly snagged his attention, and he waved his hand over the security keypad, locking his office, before hurrying down the hallway, back into the lab.

“Sweet Domodo of Komodo!  What are you doin’ wit’ dat chair, Amy?”

“It’s trying to bite me!  Help, Hermes!”

Silently thankful he had decided not to take any coins from the truck, Bender quietly tip-footed past the jacked-open doorway, where he caught a brief glimpse of Fry dancing on Farnsworth’s head.  Bender spent a millisecond rechecking the image.  No, Fry was dancing on a force field surrounding the professor, while Leela was trying to hook him with a crowbar.

As Bender snuck up to the entrance of Hermes’ office, he mused over how fond he was of his pet.  Fry was never boring, and also a reliable source of income, however small.  Better yet, he would fall for the same practical jokes time and again.  Sometimes twice in the same day.  But the biggest benefit of hanging around Fry, Bender mused to himself, was that he could create a diversion and distraction like no other entity—just what a connoisseur in the art of larceny needed in a companion.

Bender glanced disdainfully at the electronic keypad next to the door- a SuzySecure 2801, batch 201B.  Well, this lock might be one of the toughest locks around, physically, but he knew the 201B batch had self-esteem issues.  Kinda like a certain one-eyed meatbag he knew, but he wasn’t gonna mention names.  After a few seconds of flirting and wooing, the lock gushed and let him in.

Hmm, Hermes had left the petty cash drawer open. 

Something large fell over in Farnsworth’s lab, along with something that sounded like Musical Chairs Death Match.

Bender peeked into the drawer.  Well, looked like Planet Express had been doing really well recently.

“Not the fermion foam!  Again!”  moaned Farnsworth faintly.

Ah, Hermes’s computer.  Just logged out, even.  Good thing these meatbags sweated a lot.  Cautiously opening his chest door a crack, Bender had to yank out a few million Nixonbucks before he could locate the moisture sensor.  Usually he only needed this thing to check that some cheap dive bar hadn’t watered down his drink, but it was also useful for figuring out what keys had just been tapped on a keyboard.  Let’s see, eight keys, only around 40,000 to 400,000 password possibilities.  Hmm, this may take a few seconds-

Something stumbled into the hall, and the lab doors snapped shut in frustration.  Yeah, those doors had some personality issues.  They weren’t well-adjusted like Bender.  The robot walked to the doorway, persuaded it to open a crack, and peeked down the hall.

“Yo, Fry!”

Holophoner still miraculously in hand, Fry turned and saw Bender waving. You know, his pet seemed to get a new bruise every time he saw him these days…

Fry hurried down the hall and into the office just as the lab doors slid open again, revealing smoke.  Farnsworth’s voice cried, “Put out that fire, before it melts through the floor!  No! No, not water, you cretin-”

The smoke changed color, and the doors slammed back together, cutting off Hermes’ “Sweet Ambrosian of explos-“, as if they were embarrassed to reveal what was going on inside.

 “Gotta get outta here,” gasped the exhausted delivery boy, as Bender quietly closed the office door.  “Mind.  I think they changed Leela’s mind.”  He paused.  “Amy’s too.  Maybe everyone’s memory.”

“Memory rewrite in humans?  Huh, never knew that your head jelly could be reprogrammed,” said Bender, fingers flying across the keyboard.  Ah-ha!  He had figured some variation of ‘Dwight’ would work.  Stupid affectionate humans-

“Reprogrammed, yeah.  Somebody’s putting in memories that never happened.  At least a days worth.  And maybe longer.  Much longer.”  And the delivery boy lapsed off into uncharacteristically thoughtful silence.

Bender wasn’t paying much attention, since he had just broken into the financial records of Planet Express.  Wow, PE had been doing really well over the past year.  The bending unit was outraged.  Why wasn’t he being paid more!  Obviously, this gave him every right to transfer the funds from all the PE bank accounts to the 128 numbered accounts he kept stashed away in the Andromeda galaxy region, just for situations like this.  So he did.

“So everything they remember about your leaving is wrong?”

“Yeah, and I told you, Leela doesn’t remember us talking in her apartment last night.  She remembers me being some kind of cheating sick pervert.”

“I forget.  Is that worse than being a loser lovesick moron?”

“Um, just a little.  But if her memories were changed, then something really is out to get me, and it’s around here.  C’mon, we gotta get outta here before they let the cops--and maybe the memory remover thing--in.  What should we do now, Bender?”

The robot scratched his chin.

“Well, I was kind of figurin’ that we would kill as many humans as possible, then upload our personal data to my secure porn account just before they surround and destroy our bodies.  We’ll hang out with the ladies for a while, virtually speaking, then download back into a fresh robot chassis.  They’re being made with over 80% titanium now, with extra chest storage space.”

“I can’t do that,” groaned Fry, before falling silent as a pair of boots ran down the hall.  There was a sound of a hand tapping a keypad.  Fry held his breath.  The door didn’t open, and the boots moved down the corridor, pausing momentarily to open other doorways in the hallway.

“Who cares about you?” continued Bender.  “Although if somebody really can change meatbag memories—well, I’d like to meet them, maybe offer them a business proposition or two.  Lot’s of money could be made, there.  Would make robbing and pillaging apartments a lot easier.  OK, I’ll come along.  Now what?”

“I don’t know.  I wish we could just fly outta here.”

“Maybe we could ship ourselves out?”

“That’s a poor way to launch our escape,” said Fry, staring absently at a picture of the Planet Express logo mounted on the wall, the Planet Express ship clearly visible in front of his eyes.

“Why don’t you play that thing again? If it’s so smart about something being out to get you, maybe it’ll tell you what to do?”

Fry tapped his fingers on the holophoner.  Why not?  Hermes and everyone else seemed to be busy saving Farnsworth’s lab, so he could probably risk the sound.  After pausing to listen for any further footsteps down the hall, he carefully placed the chipped mouthpiece between his lips and gently blew.  As if sensing his caution, the instrument released a narrow, sinuous stream of smoke that swirled and formed a very compact image, while a soft, yet urgent sequence of notes filled the air.  Fry screwed up his eyes to try to make out the figures in the image, and then-

“What are we going to do?” he cried, Leela still in his arms, talking to the group in the basement.  He was worried.  Leela should have been heavier.

Behind him, he sensed a faint disturbance in the air as the portal to the hospital room collapsed.  He glanced behind him just in time to see a dark tendril creep up the hospital bed, which had now turned blurry, as if it were out of focus.  Then the image vanished in a puff of smoke.

Morris and Munda, a teenage Leela, Farnsworth, Amy, Yancy, Seymour, Kif, and Bender all shuffled uncertainly, but synchronously, making a sound like a winter breeze wheezing through the bare branches of a tree.  And why was Zapp here too?

“What are we going to do?”

“I know, I know,” said Bender.  We should kill as many humans as possible, then upload our personal data to my secure porn account-“

“Hey!  That was my idea,” Bender interrupted.  Fry gagged and coughed, breaking up the image in the smoke.


“Well, he stole my idea.”

“I think this is the past we’re looking at.  You can’t steal from the past.”  And Fry caught his breath, tried to clear his mind again, flexed his fingers, put the holophoner to his mouth, and -

“-kill all humans.”

He had to smile, despite his fear.  Good old Bender-

Something slid over the floor above their heads, inching toward the basement door.

“Hurry.  Anything.  Any idea.  Give it to me.”

Farnsworth lifted up his hands.  They were tied together with wire of different lengths.

“Look at-“ said Amy.

“-that sexy, sexy, wire,” finished Zapp.

He frowned.  This was it?  And was Leela getting even lighter?

He stared at Farnsworth, who was absently trying to untangle his hands.  And then he knew.

He played a short, simple tune, a song of beginnings and hope.  And the mist swirled and revealed the main hangar of Planet Express.  Farnsworth was visible in the image, saying “And here’s where I keep assorted lengths of wire.”

His earliest memory of the Professor.  Of Planet Express.

Leela, still in her hospital gown, slumped further in his arms.  But she was still breathing.  Something was scraping at the basement door.

Restless, the teenage Leela hopped from one foot to the other, pointing anxiously at the ever-widening image.  What was she doing?

And then, behind the Professor’s shoulder in the image, he saw the Planet Express ship.  An intergalactic spaceship.

Something started seeping through the timbers of the basement roof and dripping to the floor.  A drop fell on Munda’s tentacle, and suddenly her arm was gone.  Munda opened her mouth to scream, but Morris clamped his hand over her mouth.

“Focus,” muttered Yancy nervously.

He was very scared.  But what remained of his family and friends were here.  He had to try.  He blew harder, moved his fingers faster, and the tune morphed into a march.  The image of the Planet Express hangar expanded quickly, until it covered a wall of the basement.

“Run,” he said, breaking the tune, but he didn’t have to give the group any encouragement.  As one mind they rushed the now-shrinking image, Zapp in the lead, Morris and Amy carrying Munda.  In moments they found themselves in the hangar.  Fry turned around to look back at the dissipating view of the basement.  Just before the vision vanished, the basement door blew open, and a something large and black shot out of the darkness and splattered over the basement floor.  In an instant the basement was smothered in a squirming mess of tendrils.  The tip of a tendril pushed through the image just as it collapsed, cutting off the tip and leaving it wiggling on the hangar floor.  Everyone shrunk away from the little tip in fear.

Fry looked around.  He was standing where he had been standing during his first visit to Planet Express.  The far corners of the building were fading, and next to the table there was a purple/black blur that resembled an oil painting that someone had tried to wipe with a wet cloth, but had ended up smearing instead.  Had there once been someone there?  He looked down.  Leela, pale, was still in his arms.  But she was very pale.  Almost transparent.

Amy, Munda, and someone else screamed.  He looked around.  Kif put his hand over his mouth to stop screaming and pointed.

The tip seemed to have grown roots, and was growing like some sort of nightmarish plant.  The “stalk” undulated back in forth in an almost hypnotic pattern, and if he really listened he could almost make out a chirping-

Something large moved against the external wall of the hangar.

“Get on the ship,” he yelled-

Fry released his grip, choking for breath, and the smoke dissipated.  He turned to Bender, but before he could speak, the robot held up a set of keys.

“How does it feel to be shown up by a stupid wind instrument?”

“Those the keys to the ship?-“

“Yep.  Found them taped in the secret compartment under Hermes’s desk.  I guess after our last joyride a few years ago he wasn’t taking any chances”.  He paused.  “Hey, how did your get your job back anyway after that?”

“Long story.  Maybe later.  You had the keys all this time?  Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I took them because they were shiny and pretty.  I didn’t think they would actually be useful.  So where we taking the ship?”

“Let’s start with ‘away’”.

Bender wheedled the SusySecure into opening once again and peeked into the hall.  It was deserted, except for a lone chair turning itself in circles in front of the lab doors.  The robot and his pet carefully walked into the hall.  Still silent, but what bothered Fry was that while the lab doors were open, no sounds were emerging from the lab.

Fry made a splat/squeak/splat/squeak sound as his bare foot alternated with his sneaker foot while walking toward the lab.  He looked into the room.  It was empty; also rather blackened, coated with a layer of black soot everywhere.  The chair rolled up to Fry and he absently scratched its arm.

A faint voice floated from the end of the opposite end of the hall.  “Let me go, you primitive chordate-“

With Bender struggling behind, Fry hurried to the far end of the hall and looked around the corner.   He found himself staring into the elevator lobby, and caught a glimpse of Farnsworth and the rest of the PE crew in the elevator. 

“You gotta open the door and let the police in, Professor,” Hermes was saying.

“Wenstrom will not win!  I will not let it happen,” the old man hollered.

He was still encased in his spherical forcefield, but was now hoisted on the shoulders of Amy, Leela, and Hermes, who apparently had found some insulated pads to keep themselves from being protected from shocks.  No one saw Fry before the door closed.

Bender reached Fry a few seconds later.

“Fire alarm,” Bender said, and pulled the appropriate lever on the wall.

Fry was surprised that Farnsworth even had a fire alarm installed in the building, given how fires were a normal part of life in that place, but there it was-sirens flashing and screaming.

“There,” Bender said, “that will keep us from using the elevators, but it will send them straight down to the hangar floor.”

“Neat,” said Fry, then paused.  “But isn’t that a bad thing?  Won’t they get to the spaceship first?”

“Hmm, now that you mention it-”, Bender said, then spun around and waddled toward the stairwell as fast as he could.

“Take the keys,” the robot said, swiveling his head toward Fry.  “Get the ship ready.”

Needing no encouragement, Fry seized the keys and half-ran, half-stumbled down the stairs.

He emerged into the harsh white lights of the main hangar, now mixed with flashing red lights from the sirens.  Instead of being on the ground floor, he was on the conference level, an open-air steel balcony twenty feet wide, surrounded by a safety railing to keep people like Fry from falling to the main hangar floor.  From this height Fry could stare into the cockpit of the Planet Express ship, and to his immediate right sat the round conference table.  He had exited the stairwell too early—he normally never used the stairs, so he had been disoriented. 

It’s OK, he thought.  Don’t panic.  An open stairwell was right in front of him; he could just drop two levels to the main hangar floor.  As these thoughts sauntered through his mind, he slipped on a puddle of Slurm and fell.  The ship’s keys and the holophoner slid out of his hand and into a pile of trash.

OK, now it was time to panic.

He plunged into the garbage and tossed a sickening combination of diapers, Lowenbrau, and vacuum tubes aside, while straining to hear any sound of shouting over the deafening wail of the sirens.  It was no use, someone could walk up to him right now and he wouldn’t hear a thing…

He was tempted to look up to check, but he forced himself to stare at the ground, swirling his hands through the putrid stew, hoping for any glimpse of a glint of metal—


He seized the keys, grabbed his holophoner, and stood up. 

“Geez, Fry.  We were trying to save time here,” the robot shouted through the ear-splitting sirens.

Fry walked to the safety railing separating him from the open space in front of the ship, leaned over, and looked down to the hangar floor, towards Bender, who was standing next to the ship’s gangway. The wave of debris created by the hovertruck’s entry had piled up on the ground against the wall supporting the balconies where he was standing now.  Bender trudged through the remaining scattered debris and reached the gangway stairs.

“Sorry-“, Fry began, but as he started to descend down the open stairway next to the railing, his eyes caught a flash of red.  His jacket was draped over a chair next to the conference table, just a few feet away.

He hesitated.  He loved that jacket. He had lost everything else, but at least he could keep the jacket.  He only needed a few seconds.  He still had time.  The impulse overwhelmed him.

“I’ll be right there, Bender!”

Before the robot had a chance to respond, or his brain had a chance to stop him, he was kicking his way through the scattered trash to reach the round table.  He took a moment to set down the holophoner and seize the jacket. 

At that moment the sirens fell silent, and the enormous expanse of the hangar was eerily quiet for a few seconds. As he shoved one arm into the coat, Fry gradually picked up the muffled sounds of hundreds of uniformed officers outside the building, talking, directing traffic, and trying to break in to get him.  He glanced toward the cockpit of the Planet Express ship, which sat slightly below eye level from where he was standing.  He could now see Bender through the cockpit window, pointing toward him frantically--no, behind him.

Before his heart even had a chance to skip a beat, he whipped around.  The doors to the lounge were open, and he saw Amy, Hermes, and Leela step onto the conference level, tottering under the bulk of Farnsworth and his forcefield bubble.

“I won’t do it, I won’t, I won’t-“ fussed the professor.

“C’mon professor, just open the door over ‘dere-“ Hermes began—
Then everyone stopped and stared at Fry.

Both sides were momentarily caught off guard. Fry then realized that this was the only level where something as bulky as Farnsworth’s bubble could be carried to an outside access door.  Even as he was thinking this, he was slipping his other arm through his jacket, and moving directly toward the safety railing separating him from the ship, ignoring the stairway.  He reached the railing and looked down toward the hangar floor about 15 feet below him.  The big debris pile was just below him.  He heard Leela struggling to lower Farnsworth down to the ground, and without hesitating he leaped over the rail and landed, awkwardly, onto the pile, rolling down until he smacked the floor.

Winded but unhurt, he leaped up and ran as hard as he could for the gangway of the Planet Express ship.  A holoimager mounted over the top of the ship’s stairway swiveled to stare at him.

“Bender!  Turn on the ship!  Start pulling up the ramp!”, he gasped to the small monitor as he reached the foot of the stairs.

He listened for the sound of boots behind him, breathing, a hand closing on his arm—but couldn’t sense anything.  For the first time in days he began to feel a bit of hope that he could escape the traps that had been laid so subtly for him.  Without turning to check, he took the stairs three at a time, until a couple of seconds later he was at the top of the stairs, standing underneath the holoimager, dying of asphyxiation. 

He risked a look back, and his hopes rose further when he saw that Leela had only just reached the rail.  Apparently setting Farnsworth down had been a lot of trouble.

One leg over the rail, she looked across and down the twenty feet of space that separated her and Fry, realizing along with him that there was no way she could jump to the floor and reach the gangway before he sealed it off.  Her face was a combination of frustration and worry.  She glanced up at the cockpit, and whatever Bender was doing apparently didn’t ease her mind.

Looking to his left, Fry saw the control panel for the stairway, recessed into the curved interior wall of the ship.  Without hesitation he slapped the retraction button, and he felt his feet vibrating as the entire gangway began to lift upward into the ship’s body.  Leela’s wrist-thingy could control the ramp, but somehow he remembered that the manual controls overrode any remote commands--

“Fry, wait!”

He wasn’t expecting to hear Leela call out in such a pleading tone.  He hadn’t heard such a tone since—well since he had woken up in a dumpster at the start of this whole nightmare.  He hesitated and looked back up at her, hand on the hatch controls.  She was now leaning against the rail, one hand behind her back, looking almost plaintively at him.

“Fry, don’t take the ship! You’re clearly really upset about something, but if you steal the ship, you’re going to get yourself killed.”

“Why do you care?” he said, startled at the bitterness in his voice.  “You hate me now.”

“I admit, I’m really angry at you, disgusted even, but also really confused.”  Her one fist pressed against her head, as if she were trying to push a headache back into her skull.  “Look, if you steal the ship, you know you won’t get very far.  You can barely fly her.  You know that.  They’ll destroy the ship, killing you, and no one will know why you’re acting this way.  Period.”

The external hatch began to slide shut.

“Listen’ to her, mon, “ Hermes said, moving up next to Leela, leaving Amy and Zoidberg to lean against Farnsworth’s force field ball, pressing it against the wall next to the lounge doors.

“I didn’t do anything to you, any of you!”  Fry cried.  “I didn’t leave!  I didn’t do anything wrong!  What you remember isn’t right!”

Leela nodded.  “I agree, something’s not right.  You need help.  Psychological help.”

The stairway had nearly retracted, but Fry still kept his hand on the controls, wavering.

Amy was looking at Leela with admiration, while leaning heavily against Farnsworth’s forcefield, and Fry had to admit that Leela was showing great self-restraint, trying to talk down someone she thought was a crazy pervert.

Leela looked him straight in the eye, in mute appeal.

“Talk to us.”

And after an internal struggle, she forced a taut smile. 

The hatch was three-quarters closed, and all he could see of the hangar was Leela and part of Hermes.

Fry wanted to reverse the controls.  He wanted to talk with her.  He needed help.  He had no idea what he was going to do.  But somehow his gut wasn’t cooperating.  And a feeling of sadness blanketed him as he realized that he just didn’t trust being around Leela anymore.

She was now the only thing he could see through the narrowing slot of the closing hatch, and he felt he was closing a door on the best part of his life.

 “I’m really sorry, Leela,” he said, lowering his arm by his side.

But before the hatch cut her off completely, Leela called out, “Fry!  Aren’t you forgetting something?”


Bending Unit
« #247 : 02-26-2008 13:13 »

Originally posted by JustNibblin':

Uh-oh; that can't be good. Looks like Bounty Hunter Leela has the perfect bait to trap her prey.

JN, I am seriously impressed; just when I think you can't ratchet the tension any higher, just when I think things can't get any worse for Fry than they already have, you outdo yourself again. Fantabulistic! This fic is unnaturally compelling.  :)

I like the reference to soylantOrange's story - not to mention the nod to Terry Pratchett. ('Let's start with "away".') And Fry being friends with all the lab furniture was a cute touch.

The next part can't come fast enough! Will the first thing on Fry's agenda (apart from getting away) be to find the nearest holophoner factory?  ;)


Bending Unit
« #248 : 02-26-2008 13:26 »

All right, another update!  :D

I just love this story.  I'm a few updates behind though, so I'll have to read it more thoroughly and then comment.

Space Pope
« #249 : 02-26-2008 14:01 »

Haven't read this yet, but

... at the rate I'm going you may get your wish about May.


What's the picture you posted? For some reason I keep getting a red X.   :(

Bending Unit
« #250 : 02-26-2008 15:41 »

JN, I just read "Death Clock/Countdown/whatever you want to call it", and it has just about moved me to tears. You sir, are something else.

Ladies and gentlemen...just...give it up for this man right here. We are clearly and truly blessed with his contributions. You are a king of kings.

And yes, there are other kings of kings.  :)

Bending Unit
« #251 : 02-26-2008 16:17 »
« : 02-26-2008 16:17 by JustNibblin´ »

Originally posted by km73:

What's the picture you posted? For some reason I keep getting a red X.     :(

I was trying to link to a flickr site with a picture of my twin daughters (two reasons why this fic is moving so slowly) but I guess it's not working.

TornadoLittleHuman:  Aww, your words moved me, along with THM.  As a fanfic author yourself you know how good praise feels.

I'm having to vanish into Mexico for ten days.  Don't know if I'll have internet access, so once again thanks for reading and see y'all later!

Space Pope
« #252 : 03-06-2008 04:21 »

You exactly missed the whole unPEEL saga!
I held off on reading this update on TLZ, so I guess I'll have to read it now...

Still a red x, but what are the twins' names?

Originally posted by Tornadoboy:
Ladies and gentlemen...just...give it up for this man right here. We are clearly and truly blessed with his contributions. You are a king of kings.

I concur


Bending Unit
« #253 : 03-06-2008 09:16 »

Well JN, you didn't miss a damn thing, now did you? LOL

Bending Unit
« #254 : 03-09-2008 09:18 »
« : 03-09-2008 09:18 by JustNibblin´ »

Que pasa? 

*reads Marc post*

Mucho, apparently. PEEL down?  BWABB release date?!

Originally posted by km73:

Still a red x, but what are the twins' names?

Ellie and Espie.  And I still can't get Flickr images to appear on the post.  Anyone have suggestions for a free website that provides simple links to pics?

Tornadoboy:  Good time to disappear.  Thanks all, to those who emailed me about unpeelified!

EDIT:  Thanks Archonix!

Space Pope
« #255 : 03-09-2008 09:57 »
« : 03-09-2008 09:57 »

photobucket.com or imageshack.us

Space Pope
« #256 : 03-10-2008 13:59 »

Ah, there they are--way cuter than a red X!

One of the [many] things I love about this story is how it entwines mirthful scenes with those evoking sympathy...that is, you manage to evoke sympathy for Fry's plight while still retaining humor. The dream/holophoner sequences in particular are incredibly effective in building atmosphere. And indeedy, nice nod to sO's fic, especially since it would be fairly characteristic of Bender to ask some random question in the middle of a crisis.

Should be interesting now to see what happens to Fry now sans his... instrument.


Bending Unit
« #257 : 05-13-2008 13:09 »

Just a curious question, but I wanted to know; will there be more of this story?

Anyone? Helloooooo....  ;)
Sine Wave

Liquid Emperor
« #258 : 05-13-2008 17:49 »

Yes, but JN has a lot going on in Real Life (TM), which limits his ability to update.

Space Pope
« #259 : 05-13-2008 20:17 »

Oh snap, I thought perhaps an update had been bestowed.

Otherwise, what Sine said. Aptly put.

Bending Unit
« #260 : 05-15-2008 17:54 »
« : 05-15-2008 17:54 »

Sine Wave: Good point. Real life does have a tendency to cut down on writing time. It'd been so long since I'd heard anything that I was thinking that maybe the story had been put on hiatus or even abandoned (and considering he has two young kids to look after, putting it on hiatus is not an unreasonable possibility, or indeed, something that anyone here would blame him for doing). Well, here's hoping he updates soon, but if not, well, there are a few good stories being updated lately, so it's not the end of the world if it takes awhile.   :)

Space Pope
« #261 : 05-15-2008 17:59 »

I hope he updates soon, too, and not just because it's a great story. JN paid me in DVDs and recycled beer cans to make a coolio poster for him, but I can't finish it until I get to see a certain scene.

Bending Unit
« #262 : 05-16-2008 16:15 »
« : 05-16-2008 16:15 by JustNibblin´ »

**Bimonthly lurk in progress**

Be careful what you ask for...

_____________________________ _______________

Fry stared glumly at the holophoner in Leela’s hand.  After everything that had happened:  sleeping in dumpsters, bribing Bender and Zoidberg, breaking into Leela’s apartment, hiding in her closet, surviving a face-to-face confrontation with her, participating in a spectacular bank robbery, driving an armored hovertruck backwards across half of New New York, and playing a game of hide-and-seek through the Planet Express building—after all he had done to win back the holophoner and the memories it somehow unlocked in his mind--he was now going to lose it over a stupid whim.

Well, he thought, don’t give yourself away.  Don’t show how much it means to you.   Play it cool.  Be like Captain Kirk.  Or was it Picard that was better at bluffing?  So may important questions in life…

“So it is important to you,” Leela murmured, peering at the holophoner, brow furled.  “I don’t get it…”

How could she tell?  Fry thought, just before he noticed his jaw had dropped away from his overbite and was swinging like mudflaps on a truck, his mouth gaping wider than an Omicronian quitting a protein-restricted diet.  OK, that would probably be a give away. 

His hand dropped to the ramp controls, and the hatch stopped closing.  And after a moment, it started to rumble back open.

This was silly, he thought as the gangway began to slide back down to the floor. He wasn’t about to risk his one chance of freedom, which he had sacrificed so much for, just to lose it over a musical instrument, was he?

And yet.  The holophoner had helped him realize that he wasn’t a deadbeat coward.  It had warned him that something was after him and nosing around Leela, and it had basically screamed at him that the Planet Express ship was the key to escape.  Plus, he was actually getting better at playing it.  And behind this jumble of thoughts, like a gentle murmur of a brook that cut through the cacophony of a Beck concert, lay the memory of the night of his opera.  He just couldn’t turn his back on the past.  Not when he seemed to have so little of it left.

“You want this, Fry, you’ll have to talk with us for a bit.”  Leela said.

The hatchway opened completely, and the gangway hit the ground with a thud.

“Yeah, the hatch opens as well as closes,” Bender snarked over the intercom.  “What the hell is going on down there, monkey meat?”

Fry shuffled slowly down the stairs, staring up at Leela, Hermes, Amy, and Zoidberg, all leaning against the railing.  He was a fool, he knew.  Well, what else was new?  Who knows, maybe he could---

Wait a moment.  Zoidberg?  Wasn’t he supposed to be watching the Professor?  And Amy too?

Fry flicked his eyes over to the lounge entrance, and saw that the forceball was no longer there.  He heard a faint rustling and shifted his head slightly. Farnsworth was rolling across the garbage-strewn floor, inching slowly but steadily through the mess toward the railing overlooking the rest of the hangar.

Leela was following Fry’s eyes, and glanced over her shoulder.

“Amy-the railing’s too weak-“

“On it,” the intern chirped, then promptly slipped and fell.

Was this deliberate?  Was Leela trying to distract him, stall him?  When had he become so mistrustful toward his friends?  And why was he holding a can of Bachelor Chow in his hand?

The can had been sitting in his coat pocket since last night, when Bender had given it to him.  Come to think of it, it had been a special occasion—Bender rarely gave him anything.  For free.

But now, as was his habit, he had jammed his hands deep into his pockets while he had been slouching down the gangway.  And while distracted by Farnsworth, he had pulled out the can.

Leela looked at Amy scrambling on the floor, lips pursed in disapproval.

“Zoidberg, why aren’t you over with the Professor?  Go help him, please.”

Zoidberg didn’t respond, fixated on the holophoner in Leela’s hands. 

“My good friend Leela!  You’ve found my holophoner.”

“What do you mean your holophoner?”  both Leela and Fry bleated in unison.

“I found it in Fry’s locker.  Hermes let me keep it.”  And the alien tried to reach for the instrument, but was checked by Leela.

“It’s not yours, Zoidberg.  It’s mine.  Remember Elzar’s?  You gave it back to me in return for buying you dinner.  The professor--”

Amy stopped struggling on the mess on the ground for a moment.

“You went on a date with Zoidberg?”

“No, I didn’t-“  Leela huffed in frustration, and then shoved the instrument into Zoidberg’s claw.  “Don’t move.  Hermes, keep an eye on him.  I guess I’m gonna have to take care of the Professor-“

Hermes glowered suspiciously at the serene expression on Zoidberg’s face as Leela pounded through the debris, positioning herself between the forceball and the railing.

“Gimme dat thing, you miserable crustacean!”

“Zoidberg, no!” blurted Fry.  “Not yet.”  He started to wave his arms to distract the alien.  Several feet away from Hermes, Leela dropped onto her back and raised her insulted boots.  The forceball collided with her feet, shoving her body along the ground, but the young woman reached beyond her head and grabbed the base of the railing, giving her some leverage against the ball. 

The unsettlingly shiny red dome of the good doctor’s head leaned over the railing, and Zoidberg stared down at the delivery boy standing twenty feet below him.  Then the Decapodian’s eyes widened.

“What’s this?  What’s this you’re holding in your toes?”

“Huh?” Fry said.  “You mean this can?”  He held it up so Zoidberg could see the label, anything to keep him from moving toward Hermes.  He heard Leela give an enormous grunt as she managed to use her legs to shove the forceball onto a different path.  Toward the exterior entrance, currently covered by the blast door.

“Bachelor Chow!  Sweet nectar of post-agricultural factory processing!”  Zoidberg drooled, but then straightened up, skeptical.  “But wait.  Is the can dented?”

Fry, still standing halfway down the gangway, looked at the can.


A high pitched squeal rent the air, followed by a wrenching warble.  Some deep-buried survival instinct in Fry forced him to whip his hand away from the can, and for a fraction of a second he could see the famous Bachelor Chow logo spinning around, suspended in mid-air.  Then there was a reddish blur, and the can kept spinning, but now one end was smashed open, and it was an empty can that finally surrendered to gravity and clanged onto the gangway.

Whipping around, Fry barely had time to see Zoidberg’s back disappearing into the ship, trying to halt his momentum, while still smacking his mouthflaps from the heavenly snack.  He wiped his empty claws over his mouth, like a chipmunk cleaning its face.

A couple of thoughts hit Fry at once, but he could only deal with one at a time.  O.K., First:  Who knew Zoidberg could move so fast! That was awesome!  O.K., Second:  what was it—something to do with empty claws.  Empty claws?  Why is that strange?  What happened to the—

He heard a clatter on the hangar floor.  Turning away from the hatch entrance, he saw the Bachelor Chow can bouncing down the gangway stairs, rolling along the floor, then colliding with the holophoner, which had just finished skidding across the floor towards the ship.  While leaping over the railing, Zoidberg must have dropped the holophoner.  It now sat, gleaming, thirty feet away from the delivery boy.  For the second time this year, Zoidberg had sacrificed music for a free meal.

Time stopped.  Fry felt he was moving through syrup.  He could see Leela back on her feet, eye wide, staring from the railing down at Fry and the holophoner.  She was twice as far away from the instrument as he was, not to mention a good twenty feet above the ground.

“What in Satan’s name is going on here?”

The forceball had hit the exterior door, and had come to a halt.  Dazed and dizzy, Farnsworth must have de-activated the forceball, because he was now standing, wavering and woozy, in front of the side entrance.

“Who sealed this door?  It’s not Xmas!!  Who shut all the windows?  I need my Vitamin D!”

He leaned forward and peered into the retinal scanner.  The emergency lights snapped off, plunging the entire hangar into gloom for just a second.  Then a shaft of sunlight cut through the murk, illuminating a small section of the floor.  And then the shaft widened, as the second roof shutter slid open, revealing bright blue sky.  In moments, the PE Building’s defenses would be completely rolled back. 

And there, half lying in the sunlight, half hidden in the darkness, sat the holophoner.

Fry and Leela stared at each other, frozen in silence, but the sound of the second roof shutter clicking back into its hideaway acted like a starting pistol, and before Fry even realized what he was doing, he was bounding down the rest of the gangway, leaping down the last three steps, and pounding toward the holophoner, all without remembering to breathe.  He had to skid to slow down and stop next to the instrument.  As he bent down to lift it up, out of the corner of his eyes he saw a pair of gray boots land on the same pile of debris he had landed on just minutes earlier.

Without hesitating he fled back toward the stairway, blood pounding in his ears.  No, that wasn’t blood, those were the sound of boots pounding on the pavement behind him.  Her stride was so long that he seemed to take two steps for every one of hers.  Why did the gangway suddenly seem so distant?

“NO!” he heard shouted, close to his ear, and he was tackled from behind, at the waist.  He and Leela tumbled to the ground, their momentum sufficient to slide them all the way to the base of the gangway, scattering trash everywhere.  Frantically trying to keep his grip on the holophoner, Fry despaired as the thin device slipped through his fingers and skidded a few inches away from his grasp, knocking against the very base of the gangway steps.

“This has gone on long enough,”  Leela said, flipping him onto his back.  Another shutter finished opening, and a halo of sunlight sparkled around her hair.  “You’ve already nearly wrecked my life.  I’ll be dammed if I’ll let you wreck this ship and my job, too.”

Up above both of them Fry could see the streamlined curve of the PE ship’s hull, polished so cleanly that he could see his and her distorted reflections struggling in the green background.  He felt detached, like he was watching two strangers fighting in a different reality.  Not them.  Not him and Leela.  Reluctantly he turned away from the reflection to look at her face, but her expression made it hard to recognize her.

“So the ship means more to you than me, now?  You really do hate me, don’t you?”  He didn’t intend to sound petulant.  He really didn’t.  But he was tired, so very tired, and frightened.

“I’ve tried, I’ve really tried, not to hate you, to loathe you,” she growled, struggling to pin down his writhing body beneath her.  “I’ve tried to give you the benefit of the doubt time and again, every step of the way.  I told myself, ‘Fry got me this job, he found my parents, stayed with me.-‘“  She finally managed to grip both of his shoulders and slam them against the ground. 

“But you’ve changed, Fry!  I don’t know you anymore.  Maybe I never did.  I knew you were immature, but I never dreamed you would abandon a helpless baby, even if she were a mutant.  Or hide in my closet and watch me—“

Her full weight was on his torso, and he flailed his arms to no avail.  It was over, he had tried everything.  And then a strange question burst out of his mouth.

“Why’d you go out with me, anyway?”

“I ask myself that question every day.”

“No, really.  For years you wouldn’t even think about going on a date with me.  Even when I wrote that whole opera thing, you only gave me a group dance lesson.  I’m not complaining, but I really kinda want to know—what finally got you to sleep with me?”

“Stop screwing with my head, Fry.  You should know, you were there.”

Another roof shutter locked back into place, and the shadow of a police hovercar sidled across the hangar floor.

“I was?  When?  How did we start?”

And then, ever so slightly, Fry felt the pressure on his shoulders ease.  He looked up in her eyes and saw bewilderment.

“I-I can’t quite remember.  I remember waking up in bed next to you—must’ve gotten drunk.”  She grimaced, as if in pain.  “But I can’t remember a hangover.  I never quite figured it out.  It hurts to think about—I’m so confused.”  She shuddered, and she lifted one arm to rub her forehead.

“Leela,” he said gently.  “I don’t think we ever went out.  Never kissed, never slept together, never broke up.  I think it’s all been put in your mind.”  He hesitated, torn between hope and caution, and gulped.  “Little Eureka never exi-“

Suddenly he saw stars as his head crashed back against the floor.  Through the ringing of his ears, he heard her voice reach a pitch he had never experienced before.

“You snake!”  She was almost screaming now.  “You’re trying to trick me!  You’re lying!  You’ve always lied!  You once tricked me into marrying you, and you’re trying to trick me now!”  She slammed him again into the ground.  “But I’ve got you!  You’ve tripped up!  You never found Eureka’s medkit that I kept in my closest, did you?  You were too busy oogling me and Gary!  And what about the holomems I have of her birth?  I guess I imagined all that out of thin air, huh?”

Good point, Fry thought woozily.  Bender would have an answer.  “Bender?”  He gasped weakly.  “Help…’  He tried to look around and only saw Amy, frozen in place by the railing, still struck dumb.

“You weasel!  You dirty owl!  You coward! I hate you!  Yes, I hate you!”  She was relieved, a burden finally off her mind.  “I’m tired of feeling guilty about it!  I don’t owe you anything!  I’ve suffered enough-“

Over half of the ceiling shutters were now open, and Fry could now see Hermes in front of the large telecom panel, shouting to an image of Smitty-“The doors are opening!  They’re tryin’ to take de ship!  We have one, but de robot is still on de ship!”
   “Get everyone face down on the floor—“ Smitty was replying…

   He didn’t know her face, it was so twisted with rage.  Maybe he never had really known her at all, either.
   “Stop…moving!” she grunted, lifting his shoulders up and pounding him on the ground again.  He looked up at their reflections again, but it was kind of funny--from his point of view it looked like the reflected Fry was lying right next to the reflected holophoner.

He shot out his arm past his head, groping, and felt his fingers touch a familiar mouthpiece.  She must have moved him slightly when she had lifted and pounded him back down.  He didn’t have to think about what to do.  There was only one spot on her body as fragile as her heart.  He swung his wrist, swinging the bulb of the holophoner through the air until it hit her right in the center of her eye.

She gasped and involuntarily arched backwards, releasing his shoulders and covering her eye with her hands.  Fry managed to wiggle a couple more inches, and his hand grasped the bottom step of the PE ship.  He pulled hard, and his body slid out from between her legs.

With one hand she tried to grab him, but flailing wildly with one foot he managed to kick her in the stomach, and caught off guard, she rolled away.  Wheezing, Fry scrambled up, holophoner in hand, and plunged forward up the gangway.  Whatever he had been doing the past year, it hadn’t been exercise.

“BENDER!” he screeched, “PULL UP THE –URK!”

Something had grasped him by the ankle, and he fell forward.  This time, though, he had a deathgrip on the holophoner, and as he was flipped over onto his back again, he swung it again with all his might.

A hand grabbed his forearm, stopping him easily.

He had never thought much about Leela being a mutant.  Frankly, he didn’t care.  But the sight of the red, bloodshot eye and tousled hair wiped away whatever restraint he might have felt and he swung at her with his last free arm.  But it did no good, and he found both of this arms pinned together above his head, against the stairs.

“Stop it, Fry.”

And he felt the wrist of her free hand moving toward his throat.  With one last wild arcing of his back he managed to get his knee to hit her forearm, but it only hit a button her wristmygig.  Apparently she had tuned the device to the ramp controls, because the gangway started to retract up into the belly of the PE ship, with Fry and Leela sprawled out diagonally on the stairs.  Or maybe Bender had heard him and had activated the ramp.

“Leela, please.  Don’t-“

“I’m done talking, Fry.  Tried that for too long.  Enjoy prison.”

And for the second time in two days, Fry felt Leela’s free wrist rotate over this throat, sealing off his windpipe.  At the very edge of his vision, he saw the blast door covering the side entrance start to open.

“Goodbye, Fry.”

_____________________________ ____________

This story is like Zeno's paradox; the closer I get to completing the circle, the farther away it recedes.  Something I think will take five paragraphs to write becomes five pages.  Anway, thanks y'all for contacting me and encouraging me to continue.  I'm in a good situation now and will probably put out one more update over the weekend.

Archie:  the scene in question is still coming.  Someday.

Space Pope
« #263 : 05-16-2008 16:29 »


Ask and ye shall receive.

*basks in fanfic greatness*

Will consume later.   :D
Sine Wave

Liquid Emperor
« #264 : 05-16-2008 17:21 »

I think I burst an artery. This update was far too much for my weak constitution.

I really don't know what else to say about this update, other than that it matches the quality of the rest of the story, which is pretty much the highest compliment I can give. Congratulations on working in the recap for those of us who haven't been rereading the story at regular intervals, too, it was quite well done.

Bending Unit
« #265 : 05-16-2008 20:09 »

This story is still a mindfuck. I can really feel and imagine everything that's written so vividly.

JN, I've missed you.  :)

Bending Unit
« #266 : 05-17-2008 13:12 »
« : 05-17-2008 13:12 »


Yay! An update!

And it looks like Fry is really going to pay for getting out of PE in one piece; and I think I understand why Leela's so shaken up at the 'start' - she would be if she'd been pitched off the ship as it took off, destroying half the building. Not only that, but the part where she's berating him while beating him up was really powerful; she may not be remembering real events, but they're sure real to her. JN, it's great to have you back - that was fantabulistic, and I look forward to enjoying more in the near future. Cheers!   :)

Urban Legend
« #267 : 05-21-2008 20:08 »

this is intense.  The detail in your descriptions is bsolutely amazing, and let me just say, you've managed to make Leela absolutely terrifying.  If Fry ever does manage to break the hold that the as-yet-unknown badguy has on Leela's mind, he's going to think twice before doing anything to piss her off again.
Incidentally, I know what you mean when you say 5 paragraphs can turn into five pages.  And the closer to the end of the fic you get, the longer those '5 paragraph' portions will become.

Space Pope
« #268 : 05-21-2008 21:59 »

Well, I guess that's why it's called a fan fic--because it's "fan"-tastic and terri-"fic". Yes I am fully aware of how lame that was. Wow, Leela sure was a bit over-the-top in her viciousness in this section; she did kind of lose it, didn't she. But you account for that in your characterization of her by giving her sufficient reason.
Intense indeed.

This whole thing is rife with tension and foreboding.
Exemplary as ever.

Bending Unit
« #269 : 05-25-2008 22:52 »
« : 05-25-2008 22:52 by JustNibblin´ »

<Zoidberg> Hurray! <Zoidberg>  I've finally finished Part II, and have come full circle to the beginning of the story!  All that's left is Part III.
I warn you, I'm going to break the no-double-post rule in half now and post a heck of a lot, so keep scrolling..

For everyone who's patiently been following this story for a while, thank you!  Especially SoylentOrange, who courteously Beta'd the following just a couple of days after I sent it (and after I took a month to beta his fic  :hmpf: ).  I think this post will answer a lot of questions, including

_____________________________ _____________________________ _____

The gangway steps kept rising, and Fry could see his and Leela’s reflections on the PE hull get larger and larger—

Then froze, as Leela tapped her chin against her thingmajing, freezing the gangway in place.

“No, Leela-“ he tried to croak, but nothing came out.  He was choking, panicking as the oxygen ran out in his brain, and his brain, never very good in crisis situations, ran around in circles in panic, consuming oxygen all the faster.  He saw Leela turn her head toward the hangar entrance, crying “Don’t shoot!” and somehow it all seemed very familiar, this panic, loss, and terror—

“Don’t shoot!”

Bender shot anyway, blasting away an undulating mass of tentacles that squirmed up the cliff path behind them.  Fry looked behind his shoulder, just in time to see a final glimpse of the PE ship in the distance, a small speck engulfed by tentacles and eyes, before it disintegrated into a blur of green and red.  And then there was nothing but rock and the ocean beyond.

The ocean itself was a large flat, black, turbulent thing, featureless in the light cast by the night sky, stretching from horizon to horizon.  Even a night sky like this, brilliant with dense conglomerates of stars blazing away everywhere you looked, and with two moons peeking above the horizon—even the light from a sky like this could only faintly illuminate the breakers he could see in the distance, far behind and below them.  He didn’t know where they were.  He had taken his shrinking group of friends everywhere else in the PE ship, every continent, every planet that he had somehow retained as a passing memory.  And these—things—had followed, swallowing up every continent, every planet, and gradually every friend.  Finally, he, Bender, Amy, and Leela’s comatose form were left behind in the PE ship, floating in limbo in something like deep space, and somehow he sensed there was one place left, a place he didn’t really remember.  And here they were.  It was a different place than the others, so isolated that they had managed to flee all this way from the ship before they were discovered.

Turning away from the PE ship, he mourned its loss as he had mourned the loss of every friend and relative that had been taken from him, even if he couldn’t remember precisely who they had been.  He was already struggling to retain the image of Amy’s face before she had vanished, a short time ago. 

“Bender, now they know where we are!”

The robot lit his cigar.

“They know where you are anyway, because you keep panicking, and they can smell fear.  And geez, Fry, couldn’t you remember what Zubans are like?  These have no taste.”

“I never smoked them, so I don’t know what they taste like,” he replied, staring past Bender to their last desperate destination.

They were on a path that clung to an enormous cliff that erupted from the sea like the blade of a dark obsidian sword, and were now so high above the ocean that the massive breakers crashing against its base appeared like faint traces of white.  One arm held Leela’s limp form across his back, hand holding the holophoner, while the other pressed against the cliff wall for balance.  Six inches to the left of his left foot, nothing stood between him and the night sky.  In another life part of him would have admired a particularly beautiful nebula, but he only glanced at it dully now, as he heard Bender shouting again.

“They’re coming again, meatbag!  I mean, is it really that hard to get you to stop thinkin’?  Getting you started is hard enough.”

Like untended ivy crawling up an ancient black wall, huge bushy black strands of Them squirmed up the cliffs, wiggled down the path after them.  Bender fired his rocket launcher once more, blasting a huge gap in the path behind them, sending a large squirming ball of Them plunging back into the raging sea below.

“Look, if you’re gonna think, think up some more explosive shells-“

And then more were on the path, blocking the route ahead.  Fry saw a small tendril worm its way down the path toward Bender, who was standing ten feet ahead.  Before Fry could shout out a warning, Bender aimed the launcher toward the tip of the mess descending down on them, and pulled the trigger on his launcher.  Nothing came out.

“Ah, damn it Fry, You’re going to make me do it, aren’t you?”

Bender charged toward the pulsing mass about to drop down on them, while shoving down the antenna on his head and muttering, “Initiate self-destruct sequence….”

“You know, if this was really me,” he said matter-of-factly, “ I wouldn’t ever blow myself up for some dumb meatbag.  This is so out-of-character that the real me is gonna sue you for misrepresentation, once all this is over.  But I guess that’s just you-- you just remember the best in everybody.  Moron.”  Something started to beep in his chest.  “But I guess if I’m going to go, I’m gonna make sure as hell that I’m gonna be remembered, and not forgotten.  Good luck with you and the eyeball, Fry.  Hope she was worth it.”

He saw the flash a moment before the blast wave nearly knocked him off the path.  An entire side of the cliff bulged away into the night sky and rock, tendrils, and eyes plunged, scintillating in the twin moonlight down toward the sea.  Bender was gone, and for a few  moments, he and Leela were safe.

He dropped to his knees, horrified.  Even in his shock, though, he was careful to gently lean Leela against the wall.  Bender.  His best friend.  Gone.  And soon to be forgotten.

Something rustled behind him on the path.

He didn’t care if they found him anymore.  He was now angry.  Angry wasn’t the word—there was no word he knew that would cover what he was feeling.  There was only one way to express the feeling.  He put the holophoner to his lips and blew.

An enormous chunk of rock smashed away the rest of the trail behind him, taking out several clumps of Them that were almost on him.  He blew again, and began ripping the cliff apart, hurling the ancient stone down onto the nests of vines and eyes that were scaling the cliffs, slashing large gashes in the wall.  He blew again, and the resulting sound shook the cliff to its roots, and it split in two, a chasm opening in front of him.  Glancing down, he could see a red thread of lava welling up from the gap.  Glancing right, he saw that a new route had formed on the side of the chasm, allowing him to climb straight up.

He should be tired, carrying her weight on his back, but the sad truth was that she now had hardly any weight at all, and her skin had the luster of alabaster, if that was what you called that fancy white rock.  He seemed to leap up from ledge to ledge, staring up to the chasm rim and the stars beyond, pausing only to blast fountains of lava up and onto the tendrils wending their way behind him.

At last he reached the top, and stopped short.  Apparently they were on an island.  From where he stood, every direction he looked showed a few feet of flat rock, and then a sheer drop, the sea stretching off to a dim horizon.  Standing on this narrow rock platform were two pylons.  He paused and stared at the pylons.  He didn’t recognize them, but they looked familiar.  One was covered with figures that he knew were the common Alien Alphabet, the other—it was some other set of symbols

There was a subtle shift in the dim light illuminating the pylons.  He looked up into the sky, and as he watched the two moons seemed to swivel around, transforming into eyes as he watched.  He looked quickly down.

He could hear rustling on all sides of the pinnacle now, a sound like cockroaches scurrying over glass.  He lowered Leela so she sat, slumped, back to one of the pylons, and swung around, planting his feet like a gunfighter.  He blew the holophoner again and the oceans around the island began to boil as the lava welled up in a ring around the base.

Something large and wet was coming, but to his surprise the first thing he saw was a small tendril, no longer or thicker than an earthworm, peeking through a small crack at the edge of the cliff.  A small eyeball opened up at the end of the tendril and blinked.  And then thousands of eyestalks welled up from the cracks, like worms fleeing a lawnn after a rainstorm.  He whipped the holophoner back and forth like a broom, brushing back the slimy carpet over the cliff’s edge.  But something was about to emerge over the side that wouldn’t be moved so easily.  Here it came now—

His eye caught something between his feet.  A small tendril had managed to creep between his legs, reaching behind him.

And then he felt a tap on his shoulder.  He turned around.

Leela was now standing in front of the pylon.  Or what had used to be Leela.  She had been Changed.  She held out her hand for the holophoner.

It was all over.  He had lost.  Even as disbelief settled over his soul, he narrowed his eyes at Her.  There was something about the way she had Changed that was important.  You know, she looked a lot like-

He heard something large and heavy slide over the cliff edge.

What was he feeling?  Despair.  She was gone for good.  But there was also something in him, something he didn’t know he had before.  He blazed with defiance.  They would never have him.  Closing his eyes, he blew one loud, longing, lonely tone, arcing his instrument above his head. A large, jagged gash ripped across the sky, tracing the motion of the tip of his instrument.  Stars began to sink from the sky, and from the torn gap dollops of golden light dropped down toward the surface.  Out in the distance the first drops hit the ocean, and suddenly the distant horizon was covered with fiery waterspouts.  The tear in the sky sagged open further, and golden light started splashing closer to the island.  The ground began to tremble as the lava frothed up into huge jets into the sky.  And above all the noise the musical tone kept reverberating, shaking all of creation.

What had once been Leela swayed, and covered her ears.  He felt the large thing behind him shift nervously.

He finished blowing, but the tone would not die away.  If anything, it was getting louder.  Before anything could grab him, he threw the holophoner as hard as he could.  It spun, end over end, silhouetted by the fiery tsunami that was now bearing down on them, and sailed past some large tendrils that tried to snatch it, but failed.  He caught a few glints of the instrument as it plunged into the boiling sea, where nightmares were screaming in agony.  And then it was gone, out of reach of anyone.

The horizon had transformed into a massive wall of fire and foam, thundering toward the island.  The moons dimmed and dropped into the sea.  All of existence seemed to lurch on its side as columns of fire descended from the heavens and plunged into the sea.  He turned around, determined, at the end, to finally face his tormentor eye-to-eye.

It was not as scary as he had feared. An enormous eye on an eyestalk, resting on a nest of eyes, stared at him, unblinking.  He stared back, squinting.  He thought he could see something move, faintly, behind the pupil.  He focused, and stared harder.

And he was surprised.

And then existence collaps-

Fry slumped, unconscious, under her arm.  For a moment her heart skipped a beat, scared that she had gone too far.  She checked for his pulse, and found it.  Sighing, she sat back on her haunches, and was startled by the sight of someone sneering at her just a few feet away.  Even as she jerked her hands into a defensive pose, however, she saw that it was just her reflection on the PE hull, now staring blankly back as her, as if saying, Who are you?

I don’t know, she replied silently to her image.  I don’t feel like I’m me.

Across the hangar, the blast door rumbled open, and a crowd of men in SWAT armor swarmed over the conference area.  A few started to approach the railing.  She allowed herself to close her eye, let out a long, ragged breath, and raised her arms in the air.  Even with her eye closed, the image of her twisted reflection floated in front of her.  Who are you?

She forced the thought from her mind, and focused on a fundamental fact.

At long last, it was all over.


Bending Unit
« #270 : 05-25-2008 22:53 »
« : 05-25-2008 22:53 by JustNibblin´ »




Bending Unit
« #271 : 05-25-2008 22:56 »


Bending Unit
« #272 : 05-25-2008 23:00 »


Bending Unit
« #273 : 05-25-2008 23:03 »

Static on a TV screen.  Then words:

“Congratulations!  Your brain has just rebooted!  When you wake up, you’ll be hungry.  Remember, only Thompson’s Teeth gives you the mega-calcium you need to help that nerve re-mylenation.  Thompson’s Teeth.  Helping you get a-head!”

“Note: you have been automatically subscribed to this dream service because our New New York EEG sensors have detected a sudden change in sentience.  Occasionally we pass your EEG pattern to reliable third party dream vendors who may offer products of interest to you.  If you do not wish to receive these dream offers, please think ‘gorilla-ballerina-litter box-apple sauce’—three times in a row, now, to unsubscribe.”

Then static once more.

He sat in a small room crammed with DVDs and old pizza boxes, watching a small TV.  The only light in the room was the amber glow of the screen, casting an unhealthy pallor on his blank, unblinking face…

A gentle tone reached his ears, fading away like a sunset over a desert…

He was standing outside a one-room house in the middle of the plain.  Except it now looked like a desert…

He walked for what seemed to be days, but he had no sense of time…

He walked down what now seemed to be a street, but a street piled with rubble amidst what appeared to be an abandoned city…

He saw a building next to a river, and knew answers lay there…

Disappointed, expecting more, he climbed the stairs and saw a conference table. Here was where he needed to be, the end of all paths.  He stood and tried to find meaning in the breeze, in the gray beams of light punching through the holes in the ceiling.  And the silence was complete.  No sound, no life, no hope…

And then he saw a glimmer in the rubble underneath one of the beams.  For the first time, amidst all the grays and blacks around him, he saw something in color.  It was a pipe with a bulb attached to the end of it.

First the tone, then the tempo, then the tune…

And as wisps of white smoke whirled around the crouched figure, it stood up and he could see a cloud of purple billowing around the head.  The figure turned around.
   And she opened her eye…

He opened his eyes, and wanted to scratch himself in a place that needed some scratching, but froze as he found himself looking at his distorted reflection in the hull, and felt stairs pressing into his back.

He remembered.  Another epifanny.  This was really going to hurt.

They tried to wipe away your mind, he silently told the red-headed boy staring back, an uncharacteristically thoughtful look on his face .  I think they just wanted to erase your holophoner memories, but you fought it, you hid in your family memories, and so then they tried to erase my memories of Leela.   Leela, the reason why he had fought so hard to remember the holophoner in the first place.  Some of the greatest memories of his life clung around her smile when he played that instrument.

He heard some distant shouting and a strong murmur filling the hangar, but he couldn’t tear himself away from his own reflection.

They tried to take Leela, but you fought even harder, kept finding her again in the sad memories, the ones that are hard to forget. Joy fades, pain endures.  They had to rip out entire chunks of my mind to find us, but I still kept her and kept hiding, deeper.

And finally, they had to destroy everything—Amy, Bender, every continent, every planet visited, his entire past.  And even then, once they had finally found Leela, they still never found the holophoner.   Somehow he had managed to sink it away into the dark recesses of his mind, as somehow… Somehow you were able to wipe your own mind instead, leaving no trail to follow.

And then they must have given up, and left him alone.  Did they ever try to put new memories in you?  He thought to his reflection.  Must not of worked, if they did.  And somehow, you were able to remember the holophoner again.  And from the holophoner, you were able to remember Leela.  And from Leela-you were able to remember… everything.

He felt ice in his stomach, along with the headache in his head.  He had come close to being killed many times before; in fact, it was part of his daily job.  He had even nearly had his “lower horn” chopped off to make some alien aphrodisiac. 

And yet—there was something about having his personality erased, which made him feel all unnervy inside.  To think he could look the same on the outside, but what made him him on the inside could be scraped away—there was something very cold, very personal, very terrifying about that.  He was only slightly less weirded out by the thought that he had been able to reconstruct most of his memories and personality by simply remembering Leela.  He hadn’t understood how much of her had become a part of him, until now.

And who had done this?  Impressions, images, were fading fast, like trying to recall a dream upon waking up.  He had seen something behind the Eye.  And he hadn’t expected it.  But it kept slipping away.  But he still remembered the rage, the fury of those last moments--.

He blinked and risked moving his head a little, breaking away from his reflection, enough to see Leela crouched next to his waist, hands raised by her head, eye closed, hauntingly similar to the last image in his memory/dream…

Did they mess with your mind too?  Did they try to make you forget about me?  You didn’t try very hard, did you? 

The residual anger from his recovered memory settled onto her.  He had let them destroy his mind rather than betray his memories of her.  While she--

You let them feed you whatever they wanted you to think.  You let them twist your mind and who you were until only the ugly parts of you were left.

He couldn’t put it into words, but he was more than disappointed.  It was a little like when he had first learned what the true ingredient of Slurm was.  How something you trusted, an anchor in your existence, turned out to be neither trustworthy or constant.

I always thought you were strong.  Stronger than me.  I thought you knew me.  You should have had a little more faith in me

He must have moved slightly, or perhaps his breathing altered slightly, because Leela frowned and started to open her eye.

Without thinking, he impulsively lifted his leg and shoved her, hard, in the chest.

Normally, Leela was as lithe as a cat, but brooding on her own thoughts, she had been caught off guard, and fell into a backwards somersault, vanishing over the end of the gangway.  It was probably a good thing, since his foot felt like he had just kicked a wall.

“BENDER!” he croaked, suddenly aware of the silence that had fallen over the entire hanger.  “RAMP!”  He sat up and got on his haunches, scrambling toward the edge of the ramp to check that Leela was OK.  He had only a moment to see dozens of masked helmets turn his way, before he was distracted by Leela, who was hanging by one hand from the edge of the ramp, twelve feet above the hangar floor.  She was already beginning to swing her body, preparing to flip back onto the ramp.

His anger was already fading.  He just wasn’t built for sustained hatred.  Took too much energy.  And he couldn’t be mad at her, especially if she had been changed.  Both last night, and just now, she had tried to look past the fake feelings implanted inside her, and had tried to talk with him, to understand what was happening.  Who knows, maybe if they had just had a little more time…

The first laser beam flickered past his head, ruining the perfect polish of the hull above him.  At the same moment, the gangway began to retract back up again.  Bender must have heard him.  Fry and Leela stared at each other, and he saw her eye widen as she realized what he was going to do a moment before he did.  Both seemed to realize that from now on, there was no turning back.

“I love you, Leela,”  he said. 

He probably could have chosen a better time to say that.

Then he jammed his foot down on her hand as hard as he could, looking askance as he did it.  Maybe if he didn’t look while doing it, she wouldn’t hate him so much?

He couldn’t close his ears though.  He had not anticipated the adrenaline rushing through his muscles, and he had stamped much harder than he had intended.  How could such a little bone make such a big noise when it broke? He heard a little gasp of pain, and then she was falling, grasping her broken fingers, flailing as her ankle hit the ground at a bad angle.  He saw the boot twist a little more than an ankle should, and she fell on her back, hitting her head hard.

Snatching the holophoner from the gangway, Fry ducked down just in time as the gangway retracted completely, then ducked out of the hatchway just as a flurry of laser beams pockmarked the opposite wall of the entry room.  The hatch slammed shut, and the sound of the weaponry impacting the hull was muted, sounding like a gentle rain hitting the roof of a house.

He didn’t feel safe at all.  He felt sick.  Three feet of polygraphatic hull between him and Leela felt no safer than tissue paper.  He wouldn’t feel safe until he was parsecs away.  He kinda doubted he’d feel safe ever again.  But at the same time, he hoped she was OK.

A few moments later he burst onto the bridge, looking for Bender, but stopped short as the co-pilot’s chair swiveled around, revealing a mysterious, unfamiliar figure.

“Wh-who are you?”  he stammered, breathless.

“Scruffy.  Scruffy the janitor,” the stranger said, sounding bored.  He dropped his eyes down to the latest edition of “Gears Gone Wild”.

“Geez, Fry, do I have to draw a map for you?”

Fry whirled around and saw Bender pimpwalk onto the bridge, obviously in a great mood.

“The cash is stowed away, and boy do I feel several tons lighter,” the robot mused.  “Actually, I guess I really am several tons lighter-“

“Bender, who’s this guy?”

Bender appraised Scruffy, scratching his chin suspiciously.  Then he lit up.

“A hostage.  We were only able to take $2.3 billion out of the $2.7, and maybe I can use this guy to make up some of my loss.”

“We can’t take—aw nuts.  Let’s just get outta here.”

“What’s the rush, meatbag?  This is one of the safest places on the planet here,” said the robot, casually making an obscene gesture to the SWAT team clustered around the conference table, firing over the guard railing at the ship’s windshield.  “I’ve locked everything down.”  He waved at Amy and Hermes, huddled face down on the conference level deck outside. And there was Nibbler, huddled under the table.  Huh, the little guy must be feeling better.  The last time he had seen him was just after he had crashed the hovertruck into the building a little while ago, and Nibbler had been barely conscious.


“-can bite my shiny, metal a-“

But now Fry spotted Leela through the windshield.  She had limped up the stairwell to the conference level, ignoring the laser shots flying around her.  Barely sparing a glance over her shoulder at the PE ship, she had reached a ladder mounted on the hanger wall, and had just started to climb up toward a mobile crane mounted on the roof.

“Heh, heh, heh, what’s she trying ta do, lift us up?”  chortled the bending unit, leaning back into a convenient chair, and pulling out a Zuban, reserved especially for just a chortling occasion like this.

Fry didn’t fell nearly as sanguine, and watched his former captain painfully pull herself up the rungs toward the crane. 

Bender dropped the Zuban to the floor. Fry turned, and saw and his friend’s eyes telescope out.  Fry followed his gaze.

Dangling from the crane was a chain that slacked down onto the conference room floor.  Somehow, when they hadn’t been looking, Leela had attached the end of the chain to something.

Nibbler’s litter box. 

Leela was a very tidy person, Fry knew, but somehow it still seemed a little strange that she was picking this time to clean Nibbler’s litter box, with all the laser fire going on and all.  He also would have thought that sweeping up the mess on the floor and moving the hovertruck out of the kitchette would be higher priorities.  Still, he didn’t know much about cleaning house, and she really did care for the little guy…

Milliseconds later Bender grabbed Fry by the lapels of his well-worn red jacket.



“Wha—I thought we were OK here!”

“The space rat craps out dark matter!  That stuff can break through anything!  Even this windshield!”

“You mean-Nibbler’s gonna throw his poop at us?”

Bender groaned.  “Dammit, organ bank.  The crane lifts the poop, then she runs it into us.  We can’t fly with a big hole in our side.”  Fry stared blankly at him.  “Look, do I hafta draw a picture for ya?!”

Thirty seconds later Fry looked up from a bunch of sketches etched on a few dirty napkins, and the back page of Gears gone Wild.

  “Look Bender—she’s lifted up the litter box and it’s moving toward us!  Just like in this picture here!  That means that she’s gonna-“ he looked at the next sketch in the sequence, paled, and tried to grab Bender by the lapels, before realizing he didn’t have any.  “Let’s get outta here!”

“I forget,” Bender said, “how do ya start this thing?”

The robot fell over as Fry slapped down a large red button, and the engines roared to life, sending a large shudder down the vessel before the inertial dampers could respond.

OK, that was simple enough, thought Fry.  It had helped that the button had had a large label “START ENGINES” right above it.  But now what?  He’d done this a few times before.  Grab the control stick, then pull back…

Dozens of figures dashed for cover as the PE Ship lifted vertically off the ground under perfect control, then smashed into the hangar roof, and then fell to the floor with a resounding crash.

Dazed, Fry lifted himself off the bridge floor.

“Heh, yeah.  Forgot to open the hangar roof hatches.”

“Damn,” said Bender, “the Professor must have really strengthened those things since our last joyride.”

The bridge door slid open and Zoidberg wandered in, owl feathers drifting away from his mouth.

“My good friends Fry, Bender, and Scruffy! Are we about to leave on a great adventure?  Oh look!  Leela is coming too!”

The new PE crew could see the crane and the roof structure groan under the strain as the little litter box, suspended just an inch off the ground, glided closer to them. 

“OK, Fry,” Bender said,  “open the doors and let’s get outta here.”

“Um, Bender, where’s the button to open them?”

The two friends looks at each other blankly for a moment, then started frantically pressing every button or switch that looked remotely practical.

“Hey janitor hostage guy, do you know—“

“Scruffy knows that one switch for the roof hatches is outside, right there by the wall by the cops—“

Oh no, thought Fry, we’re trapped.  And the little bundle of dark matter had now glided past the conference table, straining down against the groaning gantry, making a beeline for the PE cabin.

Then Fry realized there was another ship system he knew by heart.  Seconds later, he was scrambling up the entryway into the gunnery chamber.  He jammed the chamber swivel controls hard to the right, and the gun began to rotate horizontally as he adjusted the gun barrel elevation to point to the roof.

He glanced through a window and found he had a clear view of the roof crane trundling toward the ship.  His eye accidentally met Leela’s, and even though they were fifty feet away, he could see her eye flick toward the ceiling, then the gun, and then widen.

The first shot from the laser cannon ricocheted from the hangar roof and took out part of the wall to the offices and Farnsworth’s lab.  The roof doors hadn’t opened, but they now looked like Fry did after a night on the town with Bender.  Fry had faith.  He knew Farnsworth was much more enthusiastic about offensive weapon systems than Xmas defenses.

The second blast flipped the two ton doors into the vivid blue sky, where they twirled in the air gracefully, looking like large gray butterflies.  Then they knocked a few police hovercraft out of the air and crashed down into the streets flanking the building, crushing empty police cars in a way that butterflies don’t. 

The remainder of the roof was no longer stable, and the section above the mobile crane could no longer bear the several ton pull of the dark matter.  Hands pressed white against the gunnery window, Fry watched as Leela leapt out of the crane, just before the entire thing detached from the roof, plunging to the floor, the litter box slightly clipping the PE ship’s nose on its way through the floor.  The ship shook as the remainder of the roof crashed down around them, burying the floor in debris a few feet thick, and jetting plumes of dust and metal flakes into the air, blurring out his view of the outside world.  He strained, but couldn’t see Leela, or anyone else.  He desperately hoped she was OK.

As he started to climb back down into the hull, Fry thought he caught a glimpse of Nibbler, clinging to one of the beams on the walls.  It must have been his imagining, because it looked like the little guy was waving at him, trying to get his attention.

The ship began to vibrate as the engines activated once again.  Fry slid/stumbled back onto the bridge as Bender jerked the control rod back, and the PE ship drunkenly ascended through the roof, knocking away the last stray bits of the roof structure.

“Ah, pleasant memories of stealing the ship,” sighed Bender.

Memories, all right, thought Fry.  The laser cannon and kinetic projectile weapons bombarding their tail from the surrounding street were eerily reminiscent of the first time he had flown in this ship on Jan. 1, 3000.

Bender let go of the control rod to adjust his cigar.  Fry dashed forward to grab the rod and keep the ship from lurching.

The PE ship was now nearly vertical, dashing through the atmospheric layers like a dog finally released from a leash. 

“Doofus DOOP ships coming in from the side,” Bender murmured, unworried.  The PE ship was the most overpowered ship in the quadrant.

They punched through the Van Allen belts, and then the lesser known Van Halen belts, recently named in honor of the famous rock musician/amateur astronomer.

“What now, fatsack?”

“Yes,” said Zoidberg, “the universe is your oyster!”

Scruffy turned the page of his magazine to stare at the centerfold, scratching his nose.

Fry stared blankly for a moment, then smiled.  He saw, then pressed, the warp button.

“I think I’m gonna take a shower.”

And then they were gone.

Bending Unit
« #274 : 05-25-2008 23:08 »

“And they blew off the roof!?”

“Yeah, I barely got out of the crane in time.  Luckily I was able to grab a wall beam with my hand, and avoid being buried alive.  Quite a few policemen weren’t so lucky.  Fortunately, looks like no one was killed.”

“What’s so funny?”

Leela hadn’t realized she was grinning.

“I was just thinking both Fry and Bender must not have noticed the roof hatch controls, clearly marked as a dipswitch in the fuse panel underneath the console.  So they probably panicked and blew everything up.  Pretty typical of them.”

“I can’t believe you’re smiling,” Gary said.  “They almost killed you!  And they took hostages!”

“No, not really.  Just Zoidberg.”  Leela stared down at her coffee mug, currently containing a dose of caffeine that would have been illegal on Earth just a few centuries ago.  She could see herself smile in the coffee’s reflection, which reminded her of her strange experience with another reflection earlier that day.

Why am I smiling?

“And look at you!  I can’t believe you’re going to try and travel like this.”

“I heal really quickly.  I can already walk on my ankle.”  She waved her splinted fingers in the air.  “This will take another week or so.  The whole thing will probably be over by then anyway.  Besides, I like to have the reminder,” she said, grimly, staring at the splint the medics had placed on her.

“One week!  That quickly!  Then you know where they are?”

Leela didn’t answer, but surreptitiously looked around the Cygnoidian pizza joint.  The PE building sat across the street in the dark, still surrounding by a pack of flashing red lights.  In less than an hour she and Amy were planning to leave the planet in a desperate attempt to get the PE ship back and save Planet Express.  She had arranged this quick meeting with Gary in the most isolated spot on the street, the best she could do before she had to leave.  But she didn’t want to say too much.  She saw an Amphibonian hastily look away, and several other aliens and humans glance away a little too casually.  There was a lot of money in play here, and a lot of people were coming out to play.

“No,” she said, lying.  “But they’re not going to get very far.  I mean, true, Fry, Bender, and Zoidberg together might add up to almost one brain.”  She tamped down the surge of guilt she felt for saying that out loud.  “Also, they’ve had a lot of practice in running for their lives.”  She shook her head.  “But the space around the solar system is really heavily patrolled, and if they tried to blend into the traffic on Sqrt(66) they’ll be stopped at the new checkpoints.”

“I heard the Nimbus is being called in too,” Gary said.  “With Zapp Brannigan on top of this, you should be getting your ship back pretty quickly.”

“Er, yes,” she said, stirring her coffee more vigorously than usual.  Some secrets she was not quite ready to share.  “His lieutenant, Kif Kroker, is pretty competent.”

“Well,” Gary said gently, “I hope you come back soon.”  He took a bite of the Cygnoid’s pizza.  “Mmm.. not bad.  They must have gotten some new toppings in today…”

“Me too.  And thank you for offering to feed Nibbler when I’m gone.  I was so worried about him this afternoon, being knocked out like that.  You may find him a bit of a handful—he’s been trying to sneak out all afternoon.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll be fine.  I really like animals.”  And he flashed a grin at her.

She smiled, felt a little part of her defenses melt inside, and looked down to sip at her coffee.  There she was, staring back at her, puzzled, just like earlier today.



“Do you ever feel—have this feeling, that you’re not acting like yourself?”

“I’ve done some things at Blernsball games that I don’t really like to remember.”

She hesitated, but his green eyes looked at her, patient, curious, kind.  At that moment she felt like she could tell him anything.

“This afternoon we had to pick new names when we registered for our – travel.  I picked Lola.  And I’ve felt funny ever since.  Actually, I’ve been feeling strange for days, ever since Fry-“.

She watched her reflection in the coffee as she mentioned his name.  She saw her eye flash, her lisp curl into a sneer and felt an intense wave of hatred swell inside of her—and then suddenly vanish without a trace.

Do I want to hurt him?  Yes.  But he also needs help.  Mental help.  Do I want to hurt him or help him?  Maybe both?

“I mean, just today I started shrieking.  Shrieking!  Completely losing it—completely out of control! I’ve only done that once in my life before.”  A brief memory of her hooded parents standing by a wall flickered into her mind, then faded.  “I never do that.  I never act that way.  And for a moment I felt like I wasn’t myself.  Like I’m not the Leela I used to be.”

She kept looking down at the table, reluctant to meet his eyes.  “Also, I’ve found myself being nasty lately to people, especially Fry.  Really nasty, even cruel.  So when I picked the name, I found myself wondering.  Maybe it’s right that my name is Lola now.  Because I don’t really feel like I’m Leela.”

She had said too much, voicing these vague dreads.  He was going to run away.  She stared at her reflection in the coffee, too nervous to look up.

“What I hear is someone tired beyond endurance, injured, angry, and about to do something really stupid," he said.  “And from hints you’ve dropped, you’ve had every reason to be angry with this ex-boyfriend Spry of yours.”


“Whatever.”  He leaned forward, worry written over his face.  “Sleep here one more night.  Stay with me just one more night, then head out first thing in the morning.  I don’t like you going like this with—your friend—“


“Yeah, Amy.  Worst thing to do is to do when you space travel is to be tired.  That space lag is a killer.”

“That’s really sweet, Gary,” she smiled, authentically, at him.  “That means a lot to me. In fact, somehow, just talking about it makes me feel a lot better.  I have to go.”  She stood up and extracted what looked like a small pin from her wrist thingmagig.

“Here, you can reach me on this encrypted link if something serious comes up with Nibbler.  Or if you’re just thinking of me.”  She tilted her head coquettishly and leaned over to whisper, trying not to be overheard.  “Don’t send too many though—I don’t want anyone tracking me!”

There was a long kiss—did we kiss last night?  I don’t remember.

“Stay,” he said.

“Sorry.  But I promise you,” she said, running her finger along his jaw, “it’ll be worth the wait.”

Her watched her walk into the dark street, and stared after her for a long time, seemingly oblivious to the five other patrons who quietly paid up and slipped out.

Professor Hubert Farnsworth was working in what remained of his lab, the gentle breeze floating through the missing wall only seeming to stimulate him and push him harder.  He had lost so much time today, with all those bothersome law enforcement officials and press scum asking him the same thing, over and over again.  He had finally dumped everything on Hermes, who had only now just left, exhausted, yet thrilled at the mountain of paperwork this was going to lead too.

He should be asleep too, this late at night, but Farnsworth was excited.  He had had this memory of talking with Fry, ridiculous of course, since the dear boy had vanished a long time ago—but what an interesting talk they had had!  Implanted memories with their associated emotions!  The more he had worked it around in his head, the less impossible it seemed.  Why, just now he realized that if he used liquid hydrogen instead of liquid helium, he could get the superconducting SQUIDS to work with that much higher resolution, and he might be able to work on individual neurons.  Read them—and change them.  There was the small matter of a test subject, but –

A knock on the door jerked him out of his reverie.   Farnsworth turned around and saw a young Neptunian standing in the doorway.

“Erah yesssss?”

“I’m sorry, are you Professor Farnsworth?”


“We have something to you need to see.”

Farnsworth was not suspicious.  The nature of his experiments required the delivery of all sorts of –unusual—materials that the delivery services generally preferred to send at odd hours.  The alien body parts in particular also seemed to arrive late at night, up the back stairs.

The device the young alien and his companions were assembling did not look like it had any alien body parts, although an unsophisticated mind might think the little probe dangling from the mass of wires might look like an eye on the end of an eyestalk.  One of the figures, a yarn creature, nodded to the Neptunian and his companions, who nodded back and left the room.

Farnsworth frowned, glancing from the parts on his table to the device standing in front of him.  It looked like a lot of his parts were in this machine.

“Who are you imbeciles?  I’m working, can’t you see?”

The yarn alien leaned forward, strands relaxed in sympathy.  It emitted a series of soothing notes, accompanied by a translation from a badge posted on its chest.

“We’re sorry, Professor, this will take just a moment.  We’re an ambulance crew.  The NNY health agency sent us by to do a checkup on all holdup victims today—just to make sure you’re still mentally fit after the experience.  Just look here.”

As Farnsworth turned to look at the small probe the Neptunian was pointing to, something beeped on the alien’s chest.  He thought he heard the phrase “personality bifurcation?” emerge from the badge on the yarn creatures test.

“Please, Professor, we must hurry.  Please look this way—“

Farnsworth swept his eyes toward the probe and

Prof. Hubert Farnsworth slept slumped in his hoverchair in his laboratory.  He had been working on his latest doomsday device, but he had dozed off while reviewing the quantum field equations in his head, and had begun dreaming of younger times with Mom.  He dreamt of mottled flesh and creaky joints, of a mix of solder and sweat, as a gentle breeze tickled his nose…

End Part 2 (Yay!)


Bending Unit
« #275 : 05-26-2008 05:51 »

What can I say about this that hasn't been said yet?
I just hope it isn't months before the next update.  :)

Have you ever had a near-death experience, JN?

Space Pope
« #276 : 05-26-2008 07:23 »

Why does Gary strike me as something more than he seems?

It's an impressive update. A lot of threads have just clicked and now I can see why I was feeling so intensely involved up to now. It's the constant feeling of panic behind everything, the idea that it's just not right. I've felt that myself a couple of times so I can really identify with it.

Also, I fell off a cliff once, which is only surprising for its lack of near-death experiencing... that was provided by a car crash several years later. Woop.

Space Pope
« #277 : 05-26-2008 11:18 »

Isn't this travesty of clunky execution over yet:rolleyes:


...Right. I can't find things to say about this anymore. The revelatory dream/memory sequence in particular is absolutely transcendent. The layers of meaning packed into the description and Fry's musings later... stunningly evocative. And -

And then managed to reassemble his memories and sense of self through Leela. Thought-provoking. Likely he succeeded in resisting 'Them' as well as he did due to the lack of delta wave?


“Congratulations!  Your brain has just rebooted!  When you wake up, you’ll be hungry.  Remember, only Thompson’s Teeth gives you the mega-calcium you need to help that nerve re-mylenation.  Thompson’s Teeth.  Helping you get a-head!”

“Note: you have been automatically subscribed to this dream service because our New New York EEG sensors have detected a sudden change in sentience.  Occasionally we pass your EEG pattern to reliable third party dream vendors who may offer products of interest to you.  If you do not wish to receive these dream offers, please think ‘gorilla-ballerina-litter box-apple sauce’—three times in a row, now, to unsubscribe.”

Freaking brilliant.
Wonderful touch of levity.

(Plus square route 66, heh).

This work consistently defies expectations.

Bending Unit
« #278 : 05-26-2008 12:36 »


Space Pope
« #279 : 05-26-2008 13:17 »

And now it remains to be seen what They desire exactly and how the sketchy Gary ties in.

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