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Author Topic: Parallel Lives (a saga in so many parts)  (Read 28434 times)
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Space Pope
« on: 02-03-2008 11:04 »
« Last Edit on: 04-15-2010 20:58 »

Parallel Lives

(Click the episode names to go to that story)

  • A Road Not Taken
    In which Leela and Fry are catapulted into their new adventure...

  • Where I Belong
    Our adventurers encounter a universe where Fry never travelled to the Future, discover the danger their journey represents and find out just how precarious their existence really is.

  • Eversleeping
    In a world where everything is the same, except for one little detail, how different will your life be?

  • Less Than A Pearl
    An alternate earth wrecked by environmental catastrophe reveals a fascinating secret as Fry and Leela attempt to bring their alternate selves and their two unique cultures together once more, and fight to prevent Mom's plan to dominate the planet and destroy the mutants forever.

  • Cantus Maeroris
    In the Imperial Novum Novum Eboreacum the Empress Turanga Augusta is worshipped as a goddess and seeks to replace her lost love.

  • The Boot Still Fits
    Fry and Leela meet in a world where coins aren't the only thing that has switched.

  • Sunset on the Silent Garden

  • Bonus Story:The Parallel Life
    Leela finds out she isn't alone in the universe.

A day late and a dollar short but, nevertheless, it begins...

Parallel Lives - Episode One - A Road Not Taken


Graham Dawson


Dawn. The new sun was a sight rarely seen by some, especially those who spent their time working on odd shifts that had them sleeping or working when the sun crested the horizon. Others might see it once a week, when they got up to drag the Sunday paper in from the porch, or scrape the weekend crust of owl-droppings from their hovercar if they lived in that sort of neighbourhood. Some would see it perhaps a dozen times in their lives.

Of course others might see it several times a day. Anyone living or working in earth orbit, for instance. The inhabitants of the great Orbitals that circled the globe saw dawn six times a day, alternatively from the north and south as their orbits crossed the equator. People working in lower orbits saw anything up to twenty dawns each day. Others never saw a dawn in their entire life as they wandered about the eternal darkness of deep mines or dank underground factories, or meandered along the massive, ancient network of sewers that kept New New York from drowning in its own filth.

All of these thoughts flitted through Leela’s mind as she watched for the first arc of the sun to peek over the distant horizon. She had rarely taken the time to just take in the sky, the vast bowl of light over her head, or to watch the sun she took for granted start its day until her last visit to her parents had reminded Leela just how lucky she was to even have the chance. It was as if a rather ironic light-bulb had switched on in her head; she'd looked around the dimly lit hovel her parents called a home - cosy as it was - and asked how many times they'd seen a sunrise.

Their answer, whilst not actually surprising, had been something of a shock and made Leela all the more determined to enjoy the life they had given her, painful as it might seem sometimes. And so, on the strength of a their gift to her, Leela had awoken before the dawn one fine spring morning, hauled herself from her bed and made the commute to the Planet Express offices a few hours early. Now she stood on the tower and simply watched the sun as it finally hove above the grey shimmer of the ocean and started its long trek across the sky.

It was strangely uninteresting. And yet...

Leela was still there an hour later, long after the stars had faded from view and the sun was on its way toward noon. That’s how Fry found her. Not crying, as such, but she had to blink back a tear when he called her name. She turned and saw him standing a short distance away with that odd half-smile he always seemed to have when he wasn't thinking.

“Hello Fry.”


He walked over and joined her at the rail, leaning back on it so low that he almost seemed to be sat on the floor. he let his head droop backward and stared at the sky. “The Professor's been looking for you.”

“Did he say why?”

“Oh, the usual stuff. Missions, deliveries, stealing organs...”

Leela closed her eye and laughed, taking the moment to enjoy the feeling of the sun on her face. Fry was still content to stare at the sky when she looked at him again so, sighing, she looked back out over the river. If her parents were a reminder of higher things, Fry was the anchor that kept her feet firmly in the muck of reality.

The silence was companionable, whatever cares and worries they might normally have shared lost for a moment in the still morning air.

“I suppose we'd better get going,” she finally said, breaking the peace. “We can't keep our employer waiting, can we?”

“I guess,” Fry said. He leaned even further back, if that were physically possible, and smiled at something in the air. Leela grabbed Fry's collar and pulled him upright before he could melt over the rail. He shook his head. “Sorry.”

“No problem.” Leela held out her hand toward the doors. “Lay on, MacDuff.”

Fry tore his gaze away from the sky, a confused frown touching his brow. “I thought you had a thing about people sleeping on the job,” he said carefully as he straightened out his coat. “Or does laying mean something else? And anyway, who's this MacDuff guy?”

“Fry, it... it's a figure of speech, I read it in a book from your time. I thought...” her voice trailed off in the face of Fry's almost impenetrable incomprehension. She sighed and smiled at him. “Never mind. Lets go.”

“Sure,” Fry said, shrugging as he fell into step behind Leela. After a moment she realised he wasn't following again and turned to see what was up. Fry was staring at the sky once more, mouth slack and eyes almost vacant. She finally gave up and turned to follow his gaze.

“What are we looking at?”

“Clouds. That one looks like your mom.”

Fry pointed up at a cloud that, Leela noted, did bear a passing resemblance to Munda... assuming Munda was a hunchback with three legs, of course. “So it does... come on, Fry, we'll be late.”


She waited in silence until her patience grew too thin. Leela grabbed Fry's collar and dragged him inside.


Professor Farnsworth was already at the conference table when Leela and Fry arrived, trying to prize his fingers from a colourful Chinese finger trap. They sat down as quietly as they could so as not to disturb him.

“Confounded thing,” he muttered, ignoring the other employees as they arrived and took their seats. Finally he gave in and looked up. “So, you’ve finally decided to join us, Leela?”

“Hey, she was watching clouds with me,” Fry said loudly, putting his feet up on the table with a broad 'I'm rescuing you' smile.

“Thanks a lot, Fry,” Leela grumbled, barely able to conceal the sarcasm in her voice. Fry beamed and gave her a thumbs up.

“No problem!”

Farnsworth gave the finger-trap an absent-minded tug and frowned at it in evident confusion. “I don’t care what sort of stupidity you were up to, and frankly I never will as I’ll have forgotten about it in a few hours, h’yes.” He reached up to adjust his glasses, only to realise that his other hand was dragged up too. “Blast and damnation, how did I ever get stuck in this thing?”


“What? Oh yes, I have some good news, everyone!” Farnsworth reached under the table and, for a moment, struggled with something beneath. Leela pulled a face at the thought of what he might be doing under there until Farnsworth managed to lift a large, plain cardboard box from the floor. He smiled blankly at the assembled staff as he laid the box on the table.

Fry peered at the box. “Isn’t that the thing with our universe in it?”

“Oh my no, this is another box with a whole new universe inside. I created it last night,” Farnsworth said with a cheery lilt. He leaned his head over sideways as he examined the box. “Along with approximately eleven thousand others. I accidentally left the machine on overnight instead of destroying it.”

“And this is good news how, exactly?” Leela folded her arms. This ought to be good.

“Well, uh... it means you have a mission,” Farnsworth said, putting his hands together. The finger-trap slipped off his finger but he didn’t seem to notice. “Yes, a mission, one so terrifying and dangerous that you may well be too terrified to carry it out.”

 “Sounds fun, hope you all enjoy it,” Bender exclaimed, turning to run for the exit. Before he got anywhere near the door Hermes pulled out a squat, cylindrical device that emitted a loud buzzing noise when he pointed it at Bender. The robot froze in his track and slumped forward, groaning.

Hermes blew on the end of the cylinder and slipped it back into his pocket. “Nobody runs out on their employment obligations,” he said happily, leafing through a sheaf of papers. Bender turned his head to glare at Hermes; evidently he could do little else but watch as Hermes smiled and held open a thick book.

“Asimov Code rule four one seven, subsection eleven, paragraph six as amended,” he said, holding his pen up to indicate the relevant paragraphs. “All robotic employees that demonstrate unwillingness to follow rules one through fifteen, seventeen and ninety-two will be fitted with suitable restraint devices in order to facilitate compliance with the Code. The alternative was waitin until you were out of the door and then callin in the breakers.”

The book slapped shut.

“Oh. Well, I’ll just wait here then... like I have a choice!”

Farnsworth clasped his hands together, incidentally re-trapping his fingers in the finger-trap. He looked down and frowned as if he’d just noticed the device. “Well now, with that unpleasantness out of the way, this won’t be any more dangerous than your last missions,” he said as he tugged at the trap again, testing its strength.

“Our last three missions nearly got us all killed, Professor,” Leela said, trying not to let the anger show in her voice. Farnsworth just stared at her and then looked over at Hermes, who shook his head slightly, tapping his briefcase with one hand.

“All right,” Leela sighed. “What is it?”

“After accidentally creating so many new universes I feel a certain need to preserve the one we have here. Each of the boxes I created holds a replica of our universe within, and those ones potentially hold replicas again, and if any one of them were to be destroyed it could set of a cascade of wanton destruction and mayhem that might potentially destroy the entire multiverse.”

“Sort of like that episode of Star-” Fry choked as Leela elbowed him in the stomach. He gasped and screwed up his face. “What was that for?”

“Any mention of you-know-what is still technically illegal,” Leela said, rubbing her elbow. How could a man who was so overweight be so bony at the same time? “I probably just saved your life.”

“I was going to say gate! Gate!”

“Oh that asinine mockery of science, as if you could actually walk through the event horizon of a wormhole...” Farnsworth cleared his throat, ignoring Fry’s obvious dismay. “May I continue?” He waited for a moment and then smiled at the assenting silence.

“Good. Now, in order to preserve these boxes I have decided to store them in the very centre of the universe, which-”

“Point of order?” With complaints and scrabbling, Cubert Farnsworth, cloned son of the Professor and general know-it-all crawled out from underneath the table, covered in grime and dust and dragging some sort of cabling behind him. He heaved at the cable and then dropped it on the floor. “Strictly speaking there is no centre to the universe.”

“What? What are you talking about? And what the devil are you doing under there?” Cubert shrugged and nudged the cable with his toe, as if this somehow explained everything. Farnsworth sighed. “Never mind. I know there’s no centre of the universe but it sounds better than saying I want them put in some random spot near the edge. Anyway, there- what do you want now?”

Cubert stopped tugging at Farnsworth’s sleeve and folded his arms again. He gave the Professor his ‘I’m smarter than you’ look and shook his head sadly. “How can there be an edge of the universe when there’s no centre?”

“Shut up and get back to stripping that irradiated cable insulation, you annoying little brat.” The Professor waited until Cubert had crawled back under the table, then folded his hands together. The finger-trap finally sprung off and flicked away over his shoulder. “Now as I was saying, you will be taking the boxes to a world at the edge... uh, centre... well it’s a long way away from here. The world you’ll be visiting is the most inert planet in the entire known universe.”

The Professor beamed at his staff, as if waiting for them to react in shock or, perhaps, surprise. He looked from face to face, his frown deepening as he moved to each staff-member and noted their apathy. Only Fry seemed to be remotely interested in what was going on, unusually for him. Farnsworth turned to Leela, who feigned interest and even managed to put on a smile.

Fry held up his hand. “What’s it called?”

“Nobody knows. There were a few attempts to name it, and eventually they managed to argue down to two candidates; Inertialis, and Procrastinon. The subsequent war was long and bloody but there was no clear winner, so these days everyone just pretends it doesn’t exist.” Farnsworth took off his glasses and cleaned them, scrubbing at the nano-particles he knew had to be there somewhere. “It’s a world so completely inert that anything placed on it will probably last until the end of the universe, which is why I want to store these boxes there. Hermes has already taken care of the permits. All you need to do is load them on to the ship and transport them.

“You’ll get there,” he continued before Leela could speak, “by following the map I shall provide for you. The world doesn’t appear on any official star charts or catalogues because of its, eyuh, ‘controversial’ nature.”

The room fell silent. Mostly through apathy, it had to be said, rather than any particular worry or concern, though Fry and Leela seemed to be at least marginally interested now. Amy was polishing her nails. The Professor stood up and left the conference table without a word, pausing only to pick up the finger trap he’d discarded moments ago. By the time he reached the door the trap was firmly wrapped around his fingers again.

Leela looked across the table at Hermes. He almost cowered under the power of her gaze. “No chance of attacks or anything stupid happening?”


“No alien head hunters, brain parasites, liver maggots, nasal hair harvesters or Grues?”

“You're quite safe from all of those tings,” Hermes said, pulling out another sheet of paper. He skimmed through it and then signed the bottom. “Though I would like to have your signature on this waiver of liability for any comments that might mislead you into falsely believing such statements as that.”

Leela glared at the waiver, almost willing it to burst into flame. She pushed it aside, giving Hermes a neutral look. “No chance.”

“Worth a shot...” Hermes folded up his papers and whistled a jaunty tune to himself as he left.

“Well, you heard the man. Time to load up.”

“Do we have to?” Fry kicked his chair back and put his feet up on the table. “It’s such a nice day today, I’d really prefer to hang out on the beach or something. Maybe we could go to the park and watch, uh, birds. Or... y’know.”

“No, I don’t know,” Leela said. “As nice as the day is I’d rather get paid. Come on. You too, Bender.”

Bender turned his head toward Leela’s voice, arms wobbling as he tried to move.

“Looks like I’m stuck here,” he said, laughing until he seemed to realise what that would mean. “Aw...”

“I’ll get Hermes to... do whatever it is he’s supposed to do, I guess,” Leela said, looking down at Amy. She rubbed her chin and then snapped her fingers. “Or better yet, Amy, you do it. I’ll go prep the ship.”

“Fine...” Amy dragged herself from her chair and stomped across the room. She paused at the door and turned to lean against the frame. “You know, Leela, it wouldn't hurt if you lightened up a little now and then.”

“I'll lighten up when people start obeying their orders,” Leela replied. She walked around the table, stepping to one side to dodge the cables Cubert had straggled across the floor. Amy seemed strangely unnerved by Leela’s approach; she opened the door and backed up through it. “Remember who’s in charge around here.”

“All right, I’m going!” The door slid shut with such surprising ferocity that Leela wondered if Amy had been messing with the controls again. She turned to look at Fry, still in his seat by the table.

“We can start moving a few of these things while we’re waiting for Hermes to sort out Bender,” she said, trying to give him an encouraging smile. Fry just stared at her and pushed his hands into his pockets.


“Come on, Fry, no need to act like a lazy...” Leela’s voice faded away as she looked Fry up and down. He never acted lazy, she thought as she shooed him toward the storeroom. Acting implied the possibility of it all being, well, an act. “Well, no need to be yourself I guess.”

Bending Unit
« Reply #1 on: 02-03-2008 12:47 »

Sweeeeeet... love your style of writing. The description of the sun rise was just.. I'm at loss of words actually. Absolutely fantastic.  :love:

So.. when do we get to read more?  :p

« Reply #2 on: 02-03-2008 13:20 »

Noice! I didn't quite get the fingercuffs bit, though.

Space Pope
« Reply #3 on: 02-03-2008 15:45 »

Originally posted by Corvus:
Sweeeeeet... love your style of writing. The description of the sun rise was just.. I'm at loss of words actually. Absolutely fantastic.   :love:

Thanks!  :D


So.. when do we get to read more?   :p

I seem to have settled into a nice rhythm of updating every three or four days. Think you can wait that long?  ;)

Bending Unit
« Reply #4 on: 02-03-2008 16:07 »

Hi Archonix,

Glad to see this.  I agree, your "sunrise" opening is one of the best fanfic openings I've read.  I'm at a loss to remember who "McDuff" was in the Stupid Ages.  Always nice to have the obligatory annoying Cuthbert cameo.

This is rich in possibilities, and I will patiently wait to see how it turns out.

Space Pope
« Reply #5 on: 02-03-2008 19:17 »

Originally posted by Archonix:
 I seem to have settled into a nice rhythm of updating every three or four days. Think you can wait that long?   ;)

No I cannot. Wow that intro was outstanding!!! Cubert is annoying but at least he wasn't there for long. An update soon would be greatly appreciated.

Amazing start to the story this is going to have so many posiblitlies.

Space Pope
« Reply #6 on: 02-03-2008 22:27 »

"a saga i so many parts"?...

Anyway, I thought about reading this in its entirety over at your forum, but I guess I'll just take it in installments here after all.
It should be an interesting concept to tackle multiple universes again. The Farnsworth Parabox certainly didn't exhaust the potential of the topic, in my opinion.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #7 on: 02-03-2008 22:29 »

I like the Asimov Code.  :laff:

Why didn't I think of any of this?

;) )


DOOP Secretary
« Reply #8 on: 02-03-2008 22:44 »

It being 23:44 I'm not going to read it today but definitly looking forward to it. I'll post a response tomorrow.

Delivery Boy
« Reply #9 on: 02-04-2008 00:25 »

Nice! Can't wait to see where this one goes.

Space Pope
« Reply #10 on: 02-04-2008 00:53 »

Looks great. I love parallel universes.

So, are we gonna see Obligatory Communist Universe, Obligatory Vampire Universe, and Obligatory Nazi Universe?

Space Pope
« Reply #11 on: 02-04-2008 03:32 »

Why didn't I think of any of this?

You have sanity.  ;)

"a saga i so many parts"?...

Argh! And there's no way to edit the title!

Originally posted by Kryten:
Looks great. I love parallel universes.

So, are we gonna see Obligatory Communist Universe, Obligatory Vampire Universe, and Obligatory Nazi Universe?

Maybe around episode 4.  :) This one is going to be quite dark but they'll get more light-hearted as things go on.
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #12 on: 02-04-2008 11:34 »

Ah, it has started.

Arch, I'd love to read it but right now, I'm dead-dog tired and going to bed.  After watching the Superbowl yesterday then working in the Trauma ICU last night, then having to drive through a freaking blizzard home this morning, I don't have the energy to do anything but lay my sorry ass on the Sealy and get several hour of sleep.

Then I'll read your fic.

Thanks for sharing your talent with us.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #13 on: 02-04-2008 21:37 »

Very good so far. You pretty much nailed everybody really well. I love the finger trap thing, classic Farnsworth.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #14 on: 02-05-2008 17:44 »

Archonix - this is fantastic so far.
Though I would expect no less.

Space Pope
« Reply #15 on: 02-06-2008 10:22 »

Leela didn't often visit the storerooms. Everything she needed to handle ship maintenance was scattered around the hangar most of the time and normally she didn’t take such an active role in actually loading the ship except in the most delicate cases. Planet Express rarely kept client packages on site which meant that the storerooms were normally empty when she visited, but today the store was packed to the ceiling with boxes, all the same colour and same uniform shape. Toward the back a few packages on the company’s new ‘budget’ delivery plan mouldered under a dust-sheet. One of them, the one with the air holes and direction arrow pointing to the floor, had started to emit a rather distressing smell.

Leela cast her eye around the room, wondering just where you should start when all the boxes were essentially identical. “Okay, Fry, start unpacking this shelf here. I’ll bring around the loader.”

“Right...” Fry lifted a box from the nearest shelf and hefted it. The box, strangely slick and cold, slipped from his hands and fell on the floor, popping off its lid. “Oops.”

Leela sighed. “Fry, you could have just destroyed an entire universe!” She lifted the box upright and peered into it for a second. Strange how it seemed to just be an empty box, until you reached inside and...

Something grabbed Leela’s hand. She yelled in shock and quickly yanked her arm back. “Dammit, Fry!”

“What? I didn’t go sticking my arm in there...” Fry leaned over the box and peered in, then quickly stepped back as a long, slender arm, bony and grey, and covered with a fine matting of pallid hair reached out of the box and began waving around. A hideous face followed it, squinting its huge red eyes against the light.

“What the hell?

Whilst Fry merely pulled a disgusted face at the creature, Leela jumped up with a loud shout and kicked it in the head. The grey ape-thing whimpered and gibbered angrily at her before quickly disappearing back into the box. Leela picked up the lid and slammed it back into place again, panting slightly as a delayed adrenaline rush kicked in.

“That’s why you need to be careful with these things,” she muttered, catching her breath. Fry's replying shrug was just nervous enough to prevent her losing control at him.

“Can’t be that bad in all of them, can it?”

“No, it could be even worse,” Leela said, leaning forward on the box while she looked around the room again. The towering stacks of boxes had suddenly taken on a rather more disturbing caste, providing portals to untold dangers and unspeakable horrors, not least some bizarro version of her own self with a blood-lust and a large gun. Leela shook her head; her imagination could be far too vivid at times. “Just to be safe we should probably seal the lids on these things. Wait here, I’ll go get some tape.”


Leaning back against the stack of boxes and thinking about their contents, Fry looked around the room and sighed.

Bender wandered around the corner, rubbing his arms and grumbling something about restraining bolts. He stopped and stared at the neatly stacked boxes before letting out a low whistle. “That’s a lot of universe.”

“Hi Bender.”

“Fry...” Bender leaned on the shelves and stared at his fingers. He flicked a possibly imaginary speck of dirt from the tip of one. “You sound like you’re experiencing that human emotion I like to call ‘easy mark’. What’s up?”

“Leela shouted at me again.”

“Leela? Feh,” Bender started to walk down the aisle, tapping boxes with one hand while he rubbed his chin with the other. Every now and then he’d pause to repeat the procedure on a particular box before moving on. “She’s always shouting at everyone, don’t worry about it.”

“Yeah, but this time-”

“Ooh! Fry, c’mere!” Bender pulled a box off the shelf and held it out, eyes aglow with more than their usual faint yellow light. “This'll do, how about you and me sneak into this universe and loot it a bit?”

“What? No!”

“Aww, come on, Fry, it’ll be fun!” Bender held the box up a little higher and rocked it from side to side. “You might even find a Leela that’ll do those squishy human things you seem to enjoy.”

“I... no, that wouldn’t be right,” Fry replied slowly. He watched the box rocking back and forth in Benders hands offering Fry a whole world of wonders he’d never seen before, not least a world where Leela might actually be nice to him once in a while. Although that wasn’t really fair... Sometimes she was nice. “I mean... well, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to just look...”

“That’s the spirit!”

Bender lifted the lid. A toaster, the old fashioned sort covered in chrome and black Bakelite, and sporting an incongruous pair of white wings, reared out of the box with a loud clank and started flapping around near the ceiling. Fry screeched with surprise and dropped the box as the creature swooped and dived at him. He stepped back and fell against the nearest stack of boxes, scattering them across the floor in a clatter of cardboard.

The toaster flapped down and landed on his head, where it a settled down and made contented sizzling noise. Fry tried to push it away but it seemed unwilling to leave its new fuzzy nest so he eventually gave up as a smell of warm toast filled the air.

“Great, Leela’s gonna kill me.”

“That’s the way the booze goes down I guess,” Bender said, pulling a cigar from his chest compartment. He turned around. The cigar dropped from his hands, unlit. “Oh.”

Bender's surprise was enough to grab Fry's attention. When he looked around he found Leela climbing out of another box. A Leela, anyway. Her hair was black, her clothing – what little she was wearing – had a lot of straps and belts on it, and she seemed to be wearing a lot more make-up than the Leela he was used to. She was also sporting a very large, powerful looking, old-fashioned revolver on her hip. She smiled at Fry as she perched on the edge of the box, one foot dangling into it and the other planted on the floor.

“Hello, Philip.”

“Leela? Is that you?”

“Oh, sure it is Fry. Nice to see you again by the way, must have been almost a year since the last time I shot you. Not that you’d remember that...” She pulled herself out of the box and gave the store-room a disdainful glance, almost sneering at the neatly stacked boxes before taking a moment to examine the few cartons tumbled across the floor. Fry started to edge toward the door until the strange Leela turned and, suddenly, he was face to face with the muzzle of that vicious looking revolver. She'd drawn it almost faster than he could blink. “I wouldn’t try and escape if I were you.”

Fry stopped moving. He swallowed and slowly put his hands up, dislodging the weird flying toaster that roosted on his head. The creature took to the air and swooped at what Fry was rapidly starting to think of as Evila, drawing a surprised yell from her as she fired at the toaster. The bullet passed through the strange beast, puncturing its metal hide but otherwise doing it no apparent harm.

Evila stepped back and swung at the toaster with her free hand whilst the other turned the gun back on Fry. “Must be one of the stranger things I’ve seen,” she said, casually drawing back the revolver's hammer. Denied its comfortable perch, the toaster fluttered to the floor and settled down to roost amongst the boxes where it quietly rattled its lever.

“Wait! What are you-”

“I’m killing you, Philip. Oh I could probably explain why but after the first dozen or so times it gets boring.” Evila lowered her gun again and peered at the ceiling. “Of course I could suddenly decide to love you again and forget this whole murderous vengeful rampage but... nah. So long again, Fry.”

Bender held up his hand. “How about me?”

Without taking her eyes off Fry, Evila turned the gun toward Bender and fired. The bullet hit Bender in his forehead. He slumped back against the shelving, sparks flying from his neck and mouth.

“Ow! Dammit, that hurt!” Bender rubbed his head and slid along the shelf before he turned to run from the room. “You’re crazy, I’m out of here!”

Evila pointed the gun at Fry, her finger tightening around the trigger as she readied herself to fire again. Fry closed his eyes and grit his teeth at the sound of the hammer being drawn back, waiting for the shot. He jumped at the sound of a loud crash... and then didn't die. Evila hadn't fired. Instead the door burst open, cracking Bender full in the face and knocking him into the depths of the storeroom.

“Leela, look out!”

Fry realised he’d shouted. Leela, his Leela, stood framed in the doorway, holding a role of tape in one hand and a wrench in the other, glaring at the messy pile of boxes on the floor. “Fry, what the hell is...” She took in the scene; the toaster, Fry cowering in front of a raven-haired woman, boxes scattered everywhere. “Who is that?”

Leela’s black-haired twin raised her gun and turned to look at Leela with a wry grin.

“Well, lookie here, another me. Hi there, sister!” She holstered the gun and sauntered toward Leela, hips swaying, her smile broadening with each step. “I see you’ve kept your Wristomatic. They took mine off me when they put me in the institution... shame, I liked it.”

“Fry, after I’ve kicked her ass you’re going to explain precisely what’s going on.” Leela dropped the tape and was about the drop the wrench when her counterpart suddenly drew her gun again. She sprung, swinging the wrench in a wide arc that knocked the gun from the other Leela’s grasp, but then the weight of the tool swung Leela forward and over onto her front. Leela let go of the wrench and twisted in the air but it wasn't quite enough to bring herself upright again. She made a rough landing on her butt on the far side of the scattered boxes.

Leela’s counterpart spun around, adopting a classic martial-arts fighting pose. She flicked her eyebrow at Leela. “Not bad form, sister.”

“I keep in shape,” Leela replied, mirroring the other Leela’s pose, stupid as it was. She tensed up, waiting to see how her alter-ego would react. Evila seemed to relax a little, letting the tension draw out of her arms and shoulders as she straightened up, and Leela felt herself involuntarily doing the same. She forced herself to tense up again which was fortunate as, without warning, her counterpart suddenly kicked the strange winged toaster into the air, then spun around and kicked it again at Leela’s head. Leela ducked as the thing shimmied past her, its wings flapping madly as it tried to right itself.

She was up almost instantly but it was too late. Leela groaned as her twin’s booted feet disappeared into one of the boxes, but then just as quickly she lifted up one of the lids and slammed it down over the box. She dragged the box over to the fallen tape sealed it up in every direction she could think of and then sat on it for good measure. Leela looked down at Fry, still slumped against the stacked boxes and staring into space with an odd blank expression.


“Hm?” Fry looked up at Leela. “You know, she had bigger-”

“Fry! How can you think about something like that at a time like this?” Leela stood up and started righting more of the boxes. She quickly wrapped a seal of tape around each one to stop the lid from coming off. “I told you to be careful and what do you do? You open the first box you look at!”

“I was going to say boots... anyway, I was bored and Bender wanted to have some fun,” Fry said with a shrug. He turned and looked at the box that the dark version of Leela had escaped into. It wasn’t the one she’d come out of... and what had she said? “Wait, shot me before? Oh crap.”

“Wuaaua?” Leela got down on her knees and pulled the tape from her mouth. When she looked up at Fry he was staring at the first box she’d sealed with both hands stuffed into his mouth. “What’s the matter?”

“You’re trying to kill me!” Fry whimpered at the sight of Leela and backed up against the boxes again. Leela rolled her eye and dropped the tape as she shuffled over to him.

“I’m not trying to kill you, Fry.”

“No, but she is, and she’s practically you. She said she’d shot me.” Fry looked around the room with obvious terror, his hands squirming at the hem of his coat. “She could come out of any one of these things!”

Fry whimpered, and then seemed to remember he was leaning on the boxes. He jumped away from the shelves, crying out in fear as he flailed his arms around his head and knocking the boxes until they rocked forward and collapsed over on him in thunderous wave.

As the dust settled Leela pushed her way through the piled up boxes, wondering what sort of carnage the collapse might have wrought on the universes within them. Perhaps nothing; a universe was a very big place, after all. She threw a few boxes aside as she dug into the pile that covered Fry, until she reached the spot where he was sitting.

Had been sitting.

“Fry, you idiot...” Leela sighed as she lifted up a box and peered into it, wondering how she’d find him. Just about then Bender sauntered up, rattling every time he turned his head and poking at a ragged hole just above his eyes.

“Jeez, you’d think a small piece of lead wouldn’t do so much damage. Good thing I’m insured.” He paused to look at Leela. “I guess this means I won’t be needed to help load up for a while, huh?”

“Oh, sure. Go do... stuff.” Leela ignored Bender as he beat a hasty retreat from the room as she stared at the boxes, frowning. Then a thought struck her. Leela put down the box and stepped back a little, looking for the most likely candidates. Eventually she had a dozen boxes lined up on the floor, all with their lids off. She examined each one in turn, then leaned into the first one and cupped her hands around her mouth. “Fry? Are you in there?”

“Leela?” Fry’s voice echoed back through the box, and for a moment Leela thought she might have made an incredibly lucky guess. But then, as she leaned back, a completely different Fry crawled up out of the box to peer at her. His hair was green.

“Oh. Sorry, wrong Fry...”

“No problem. Hey, if you were my Leela, what would it take to convince you to go out with me?” The alternate Fry gave Leela a pleading gaze and smiled shyly. It was almost sweet. Leela tipped her head to one side and thought for a moment.

“If I told you, it’d be cheating,” she said with a half-smile, before patting Fry on the head. His face fell slightly, but then he seemed to rally and smiled at her again before dipping back into his box. Leela took out a pen and made a large cross on the lid, then moved on to the next box.

After half a dozen propositions from various alternative versions of Fry – and one from Amy, bizarrely – Leela found him. She leaned over the box and peered through the hazy interface between universes. “Fry? Why does everything look upside down?”

“I’m sorta stuck,” Fry replied. His voice was very quiet, moreso than the usual effect of distance that the boxes seemed. Leela leaned forward a little further to try and see if she could peep out of the box and spot him but then, as she moved in, she felt gravity twisting in odd ways. With a surprised screech Leela found she was plummeting through the interface and falling down to a dull grey floor and Fry, slumped against the bottom of a the shelf with a strange grin on his face. She landed head first in his stomach, knocking the wind out of Fry's lungs in a loud, pained gasp.

“Sorry,” Leela muttered as she pushed herself up. Fry coughed and fell over on to his side. “Thanks for breaking my fall though.”

“Don’t mention it,” Fry wheezed. Leela gave him a cursory glance, decided he was probably going to survive and returned to looking around their new environment. It looked like the store-room they’d just left, though much better kept and generally greyer, with row upon row of perfectly aligned pale grey boxes lining the shelves and neat stack of packages in the distance that seemed to be sitting in some sort of passive stasis field. She looked up at the box they’d just left; it was knocked over, its broad mouth tilted toward the floor, which explained her sudden fall.

“What an odd place,” she said quietly, turning back to Fry. He seemed to have recovered enough to sit upright again. Leela reached down and hauled Fry upright. “We’d better find a way back up to that box.”

“Right,” he grunted, shoving his hands in his pockets again. Leela looked around the room once more, trying to spot a ladder or some other climbing tool, but nothing made itself obvious. Fry was looking about as well by now. He tapped one of the boxes. “This place has even less colour than your apartment,” he said, looking up to the ceiling.

Leela ground her teeth and resisted the urge the whack him about the head with one of the boxes, struck by the realisation that she could almost understand why that other version of herself had snapped.

“We’d better scout around and see if we can find something. I don’t know how the crew in this universe will take to us turning up in their store-room unannounced.”

“Oh, they’ll probably just boast about being married again,” Fry grumbled. He looked down at his feet and nudged one of the boxes with his toe; Leela almost expected him to add more but he didn’t, mercifully. She held up her wrist computer and started scanning around the building.

“Only one life-form nearby and it doesn’t seem to be anyone we know,” she said, as she passed the scanner over the room. “Whoever it is, they’re coming this way, so we’d better hurry up.”

Fry grumbled and started walking down the aisle toward the far wall. He turned at the end, seemed about to say something and then stopped suddenly. “Uh... Leela?”

Leela looked up from trying to adjust her scanner to search for ‘ladders’ and peered at Fry. He was standing very still, and his face had gone very pale.

“What’s the matter?”

“The guy with the gun is,” Fry said, backing up. A large man with a laser pistol followed him around the corner. He paused for a second and frowned when he saw Leela, then narrowed his eyes at her. Leela glared back at him. She wondered if she could take him down and tensed up, ready to strike.

“Okay... whoever you are...” The man – wearing what was obviously a security guard’s uniform – kept his gun trained on Leela as he spoke and from the stance he had taken Leela could see he was a professional, which made her think twice about attacking him. She’d probably be toast before she even reached him.

“Here’s how it will work out. You two will come with me and leave the building. You’ll pretend that you weren’t going to do whatever you were about to do in here and in return I’ll pretend I didn’t see you.”

Leela blinked, caught off guard by the man's willingness to let them go. “But we have to-”

“Look, we've been over this once already. You can do this the easy way or the hard way.” To make his point he held the gun a little higher. Leela’s only reply was to nod. The guard lowered the gun again and pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. “The exit is that way. After you.”

“Why are you doing this?” Leela asked as she edged her way around the guard. He shrugged slightly but didn’t take his eyes off her as he shooed them out of the room. They emerged in the hangar a short distance from a very stark, silvery version of the Ship.

Everything was various shades of grey and light, cold blue, and spotlessly clean. The entire building had a quiet hush about it, with a stillness that added to the silent emptiness of the hangar. While the guard locked the store-room behind them, Leela and Fry both looked around the strange, sterile version of the world and then looked at each other.

“I’ve never seen the hangar so clean before,” Leela whispered to Fry. He frowned, taking it as the reprimand Leela hadn’t intended it to be, but there wasn’t much she could do about that.

At the urging of the guard they carried on up the stairs. The conference room and the employee lounge were both equally spartan and unblemished. They were also deserted, filled with silence, and didn’t seem to have been occupied for some time. When they reached the lobby Leela paused and turned to the guard. “Look, I know this is going to sound weird but we’re not from this universe and we really-”

“Look, lady, I’m doing you a favour by letting you go again,” the guard said as he holstered his gun. He stepped back and regarded Fry and Leela, taking a long moment to look at Fry’s face. He frowned and seemed about to say something, but then he opened the main entrance and waved them toward it. “If I report this we all have to fill in at least a dozen forms before I can even call the police. Trust me, this is easier.”


“No buts. If I have to shoot you I will, but it would mean even more paperwork for the bitch- the boss upstairs. I hate paperwork.” The door slid closed with a clunking finality, leaving the pair sealed outside on the street. Leela kicked at the door and yelled obscenities at the guard but it didn’t achieve much apart from bruising her toe.

“Well great. Just great, thanks a lot Fry, now we’re stuck in some parallel universe with no way of getting home.” Leela slammed her fist against the door and then turned away. She folded her arms and glared at the buildings on the far side of the street until Fry thought they might crack and fall over.

“Hey don’t blame me, you’re the one that started fighting with yourself.”

Leela turned her terrible glare on him and then looked away again with a loud humph. Fry slunk away from the door and sat down on a nearby bench, where he stared out across the river, head resting on his hands as he watched the water oozing by. Or not oozing, it seemed a lot clearer than home. Everything else seemed to be fairly normal. He frowned and looked over his shoulder at the Planet Express building. It was grey, like everything inside, and sparkling clean, but seemed to be deserted and untended. Fry looked around the quiet street. He could hear traffic noise in the distance which ruled out any of the usual post-apocalyptic ideas running through his head. “Leela, where is everyone?”

“What?” Leela came over and leaned on the back of the bench. She looked around at the strangely quiescent building and frowned. “That’s a good point... we should have met at least one of us in there.”

“Maybe that guard threw them out,” Fry said with a shrug. He returned to staring over the river; Leela gave him a pitying look and then glanced around, then up at the building again. The sun seemed to be a little dimmer than their own, despite the crystal-clear sky, giving everything a permanent twilight feel and making the shadows less distinct, but somehow deeper. A few buildings still had lights on inside despite the time of day, including the Planet Express building. Leela could see a vague silhouette standing in one of the upstairs windows, in the dome where the Professor normally kept his larger experiments. It looked like a woman.

Leela shook her head slowly as she looked around the edges of the building. “I don’t think so,” she said eventually, then turned away. “It’s possible they’re just not in today. I mean, who knows what holidays they have in this universe?”

“Free ice-cream Sunday?”

“It’s Thursday,” Leela replied, trying to stop her mind wandering off on a tangent. She put her hands on Fry’s shoulders and pressed him down until he grunted in submission. “We need to speak to one of our counterparts here before we can get in.”

Fry rubbed his shoulders as Leela let him go. “Who?”

“Me,” Leela said brightly. She set off toward the road with a determined march. “Who else would believe us?”

Fry bit back on the obvious reply. Considering how the last alternate universe version of Leela had treated herself, the chances of them getting back home weren’t too high. He trailed after Leela, glancing around now and then at the quiet streets, wondering whether this Leela would try and shoot him as well.

Bending Unit
« Reply #16 on: 02-06-2008 11:22 »

Originally posted by Archonix:
Bender lifted the lid. A toaster, the old fashioned sort covered in chrome and black Bakelite, and sporting an incongruous pair of white wings, reared out of the box with a loud clank and started flapping around near the ceiling.

The toaster flapped down and landed on his head, where it a settled down and made contented sizzling noise.

Sweet.. I love it! A flying toaster!

Originally posted by Archonix:
Bender's surprise was enough to grab Fry's attention. When he looked around he found Leela climbing out of another box. A Leela, anyway. Her hair was black, her clothing – what little she was wearing – had a lot of straps and belts on it, and she seemed to be wearing a lot more make-up than the Leela he was used to. She was also sporting a very large, powerful looking, old-fashioned revolver on her hip. She smiled at Fry as she perched on the edge of the box, one foot dangling into it and the other planted on the floor.

Yay! Straight to the action.. evil, evil, evil!!  :love:

Originally posted by Archonix:
“Hm?” Fry looked up at Leela. “You know, she had bigger-”

Go on...  :p

Originally posted by Archonix:
“I was going to say boots...

Riiiiight.. of course he was..  :D

Originally posted by Archonix:Fry rubbed his shoulders as Leela let him go. “Who?”

“Me,” Leela said brightly. She set off toward the road with a determined march. “Who else would believe us?”

Yes.. who else indeed.  :p

I love it to bits! The flying toaster really made my day! More I tell you, more!

Bending Unit
« Reply #17 on: 02-06-2008 19:39 »
« Last Edit on: 02-06-2008 19:39 by JustNibblin´ »

Hey Archonix,  I've always liked the flying toaster too.  Evila is a great character, and I hope we learn more about her.  Somehow I get the feeling she's going to make another appearance ;-)

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #18 on: 02-06-2008 20:22 »
« Last Edit on: 02-06-2008 23:00 »

Wow, that was fast. I didn't think you would update so soon so I started reading Xanfor's story. I'll have to come back to this one.


Delivery Boy
« Reply #19 on: 02-06-2008 21:23 »

Excellent start. And already an update. I can't wait for more. I love the picture too!

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #20 on: 02-07-2008 20:47 »

Finally got a chance to read it and I must say it's amazing. I love the Flying Toaster. Especially since it seems to act like a normal bird and toasts instead of chirping. I think you got the evil, jaded Paraleela down really well too.

Space Pope
« Reply #21 on: 02-09-2008 12:45 »

I love the flying toaster. Awesome  :D. Can't wait to see whats up with Evila and why she's insane. Great stuff. I would have read this sooner, fucking school. Update soon please!!!! Now to work on Xanny's again.

Space Pope
« Reply #22 on: 02-09-2008 17:08 »

It had begun to rain by the time they reached Leela’s apartment building, adding a dreary pall to the already dull and uninspiring daylight of this earth. Fry hunched his shoulders against the rain and shivered in the chill; it was supposed to be late spring, but it felt more like autumn. He stood under the shelter of the lobby entrance while Leela fought and argued with the locks.

“Why not just axe yourself to buzz us in?”

Leela stopped what she was doing for a moment to glare at Fry. She shook her head, then returned to poking at the control panel. “How would you react if someone claiming to be you turned up and axed to be let into your apartment?”

“I’unno,” Fry said with a narrow shrug. He shivered as a short gust of wind shot up the back of his jacket, carrying a sleet of cool rain with it. Leela looked up at him again with something that might have been pity clouding her perfect eye.

“Oh, she must have used a different combination. This is pointless,” she said as she straightened up. Leela backed away from the door, put her hands on her hips and peered at the lock. “Well, no point in waiting around.”

Leela backed up another step, steadied herself and then, with a short yell, ran forward and leapt into the air. The impact of her kick made the door shudder, and incidentally knocked Leela onto her back. She groaned and let her arms splay out, not caring about the rain that fell on her upturned face. Then, without a word, she pushed herself upright and slunk over to the buzzer.

Fry snickered for a second until Leela’s angry eye cut him off. He looked away down the street, peering into the thickening rain. Very little traffic seemed to be coming down the road, and all the pedestrians had been driven indoors by the weather, which only added to the gloomy nature the city seemed to have taken on this world.

Then Fry’s heart leapt. A tall and slender figure detached from the shadows of a nearby building and stopped just long enough for Fry to recognise Leela’s dark-haired counterpart. She held up a hand; for a moment Fry thought she was holding a gun, but with quick relief he realised it was empty. The dark version of Leela held up her thumb and forefinger and made a shooting motion at him, then made is if to blow smoke from the imaginary gun.

Leela tapped him on the shoulder and he looked, without realising, toward her face. When he glanced back the shadowy figure had gone. “What?”

“You should probably talk to her,” Leela said, her voice unusually quiet. She seemed distracted by something, although Fry couldn’t really fathom what. It made him nervous in sympathy, though. Leela was normally so sure of herself. She stood back a little and ushered Fry toward the buzzer. Then, before he could react, she’d pressed it and retreated out of sight.

A screen above the buzzer fizzed to life and a silhouette that looked a lot like Leela appeared on the screen, hidden behind static. Without thinking Fry glanced up at the floor Leela’s apartment was on, then remembered there weren’t any windows. And apparently no lights, either, he thought as he looked back at the screen. “Uh... hi.”

“Who is this?”

Fry paused. She didn’t know him? That wasn’t right... “It’s me. Fry.”

“Fry who?” The voice sounded uncertain, confused even. Fry briefly wondered if they’d got the wrong apartment, but a quick check told him otherwise. “Wait, aren’t you him? The guy I lost in the old city?”

Lost. Somehow, Fry realised, he’d escaped her on this world. Why did that fill him with so much worry? He leaned toward the screen and spoke as quietly as he dared. “Leela, this isn’t going to make much sense, but you’re kind of right. I’m him. But I’m not him, if you see what I mean. I’m a different version of him.”

“You’re right, it doesn’t make much sense.” The silhouette turned away; Fry glanced across at Leela, comparing the two for a moment, noticing some very profound differences even without a detailed view. “Are you playing some sort of trick?”

“Oh just you wait,” Fry said. He grabbed Leela and dragged her into view of the screen. Both Leela’s gasped at the same time, giving Fry a very odd stereo experience. He winced at the brain-hurting nature of it all and pressed forward. “Some trick huh? I can’t explain things now, or ever, really, since it’d sound crazy... what I mean is-”

“We need your help,” Leela said suddenly, pushing Fry aside. She leaned toward the screen, narrowing her eye at the other Leela. The other woman was silent just long enough for Fry to think they'd never get in until the door buzzed open. Leela pushed the door open a little further and grabbed Fry’s arm.

“Better hurry before she changes her mind,” she said. Fry nodded and glanced down the street one last time. It was deserted.


The door to apartment One I was open when they reached it, and dark within. Leela gingerly pushed the door a little way and peered into the gloom. “Hello?”

She pushed the door a little further and crept into the room, keeping as quiet as she could in the pervading darkness. Fry followed after, nervously peering into the darkness. He stopped just beyond the threshold and wrapped his arms around himself. “This isn’t right,” he said quietly, and then peered into the darkness. He lifted his arm to the wall and felt about for a light-switch.

“Why is it so dark in here?”

“I like it that way,” Leela said. And then: “That wasn’t me!”

There was a yell and a loud thump as someone fell to the floor. Fry finally found the light-switch and slapped it hard, casting the entire room in a bright, unnatural glare that revealed Leela leaning over the prone form of her alter-self. The apartment was as spartan and austere as Leela’s apartment back home but, in contrast to the rest of the world outside, somehow shabbier and less pristine. Piles of discarded food wrappers had gathered in the corners, and the carpet was bare and stiff with dust and the crusted remnants of spilled food and drinks. The ParaLeela herself lay in a heap on the floor, her skin pallid and grey, her muscle-tone almost non-existent, as if she never did anything more demanding than lifting her own weight. Her hair was an almost identical colour to Leela’s, though duller like everything else in the world, and maybe a little bluer.

She was weeping quietly. Leela knelt down next to her counterpart and lifted her up onto her knee.

“Are you all right?”

“Do I look all right?” Blue Leela shielded her eye against the brightness of the room and groaned. “Turn the damn light off. I don’t deserve to see it.”

“Now what’s that supposed to mean,” Leela said, propping the other woman upright. She waved Fry over; he knelt down beside them and tried to look supportive, but only managed a pained grimace. Fortunately neither woman noticed. Leela stroked back a strand of her counterpart's greasy hair and then discreetly wiped her fingers on her shirt.

The alternate Leela inched her eye open and stared at Leela, obviously confused. “You don’t know?”

“Know what?”

Leela and Fry both leaned forward, but not too close, and Fry had to resist the urge to cover up his nose as their proximity made it clear this alternate Leela probably hadn't changed her clothes in weeks. She looked away and let out a melancholy giggle.

“You’ve spent your whole life wondering where the rest of your species are, haven’t you?”

“Well, yes but-”

“I found out, you know,” she persisted, ignoring Leela’s attempt to speak. She levered herself from Leela’s arms and crawled away across the floor toward a discarded liquor bottle. “I found out where I came from.”

Leela gasped as her twin tore the cap from the bottle and took a deep swig of the liquor. She leaped to her feet and was at the other's side in three strides just as the other woman was settling herself into the corner of the room. Leela snatched the bottle from her counterpart, who looked up at her in confusion and then seemed to resign herself to the sudden lack of alcohol.

“You’re just my imagination anyway,” she said, and let her arms flop to the floor. Leela tossed the bottle away and knelt down by her counterpart.

“I know where I came from too,” she said quietly, taking her alternate's hand. She patted it a couple of times. “It’s not so bad once you get used to the idea.”

“How the hell could you get used to being a... a...”

“Mutant,” Leela finished. She wiped a tear from the other's face and smiled at her.

“I’m a mutant...”

Leela smiled and nodded. “See? It’s not so hard. Besides, if you’ve found that out then you’ve met our parents as well. That has to make up for something, right?”

“I never met my parents,” the other said, her face downcast. She tried to push Leela away but failed, a combination of lack of exercise and alcohol robbing her of all her strength. Leela smiled slightly.

“Well in that case we could go and-”

“I killed them,” she said quietly. Leela let the twin’s hand drop to the floor, and then her own hands to her sides. She stared at her doppelgänger’s face for a moment, then turned to look at Fry, her brow wrinkling as she thought back to her first encounter with her parents.

“Didn’t Fry stop...” her voice trailed off. Leela slowly stood up and backed away from her counterpart, then edged toward Fry. She took his arm and pulled him to the far side of the room. “This is bad.”


Leela looked over her shoulder. She leaned a little closer to Fry so that she could whisper without being overheard.

“You remember how I found my parents?”

“Yeah, you nearly shot them. Good job I was there to save the day...” Fry’s voice trailed off and his eyes widened as he looked over at the alternate Leela. “Didn’t she say she lost me underground somewhere?”

“That’s right. You weren’t there to stop her killing her parents,” Leela said in an urgent whisper. She glanced over at the other Leela, who was now sliding herself across the floor toward the discarded liquor bottle. “I thought they’d killed my parents and taken their stuff, I was pretty screwed up in the head by then. If I’d shot them and then found out who they were afterwards... I can’t imagine how I would have ended up.”

Fry looked around the apartment, noted the unkempt piles of garbage in the corners, and shrugged again. “Like this?”

“I guess...” Leela turned back to look at her counterpart, uncertainty curling her lips down ever so slightly. She flexed her fingers, balling and un-balling fists as she tried to workout what to do. “I’d hoped she could get us back into Planet Express, but I don’t think she even works there. I should have realised when that guard didn’t recognise me.”

 “Maybe he did and just didn’t want to say anything,” he said after a moment of thought. Leela looked over her shoulder at him, frowned, and seemed ready to say something, only to relent a moment later. She looked back at herself, slumped in the grim emptiness of her apartment, completely alone.

Fry took a deep breath and shoved his hands in his pockets. “If she doesn’t work there then maybe we should just go,” he said quietly. Leela shook her head.

“No. We’ve got to do something about this.” Her voice was just as quiet, but determined. Leela took a step toward herself only to be jerked back by Fry's sudden, insistent hand on her arm.

“Leela, she killed your parents! Her, your, I mean...” Fry’s voice trailed off as he tried to figure out what he meant. His arm dropped to his side again. “What if she does it again?”

“She wasn’t sane,” Leela retorted. Blue – if she had to pick a name it seemed appropriate to go with her hair colour – had finally reached the bottle and sprawled pathetically across the floor, trying to push its neck into her mouth to suck at the remnants of the liquor inside. Leela strode over to her and kicked the bottle away. It clattered into the corner of the room, bounced once off the drab wall before it came to rest on the floor.

“Whazza... go away, stupid dream version of me...”

“Not until you sober up,” Leela said, reaching down to pull her other self upright. She dragged the other Leela over to her chair and sat her down, taking care to clean the junk-food wrappers and scraps of stale food away before she lowered her counterpart into the seat, then stood back. Blue slumped sideways in the chair, arms limp, glaring at Leela with impotent fury.

Leela put her hands on her hips and stared back at herself. She took in the pale skin and dark bag under her mirror’s eye, and her unkempt hair. “You’re a real wreck, aren’t you?”

“I’m a stinky mutant, why should I care how I look?”

“Fry, go make some coffee,” she said, not taking her eye off Blue. Fry nodded and shuffled from the room, and Leela found herself hoping this parallel universe version of herself hadn’t completely emptied her kitchen yet. She leaned against the wall and watched her companion for a while, curious about her lack of self respect. “So, while we’re waiting, why don’t you tell me how you found all this out?”

Her twin glared at Leela and her mouth curled down in anger. “What do you care,” she spat, lifting an accusing finger to Leela. “Maybe in your imaginary dream-world it’s okay to be a mutant. Maybe you can still fly your ship and keep your job-”

“Ship? You still work for Planet Express?” Leela pushed away from the wall and took a step toward her other self. The other Leela frowned at her, uncertain in the face of so many questions. “You still fly?”

“You know I did, until six months ago when that uptight bureaucrat fired me for incompetence. Hah.” She reached under the chair and retrieved a fresh bottle of liquor. Leela snatched the bottle from her meta-sister’s hand before she could even break the seal and held it up in the air, where her twin waved at it a few times before giving up the fight. She slumped back into the seat with her eye squeezed shut. “That one wouldn’t know incompetent if it came and bit em on the ass...”

With the bottle cradled in her arms Leela backed away until she was out of Blue's reach. “So, after you got intimate with our friend here, Hermes fired you?”

“Hermes? He disappeared years ago.” The Blue Leela opened her eye and glared at the bottle in Leela’s arms. Then she looked away, stared at the blank wall and sighed. “That bitch-woman, Morgan Proctor, she put me on ‘administrative leave’ after she took over the company. Not like I cared though. By then we weren’t even doing deliveries any more.” She held up her hands and wiggled her fingers sarcastically. “It wasn’t an 'efficient use of resources'. I don’t think I’ve been outside more than a dozen times since I came home that day.”

Leela turned away with a sudden wish for a window to look out of. Standing in this strange, but familiar version of her apartment she suddenly realised how well it kept the outside world at bay, kept her safe from contact with people, and how easily it could turn into a prison.

“You can’t just hide away from these things,” she said quietly as she turned to look at her counterpart. The other Leela continued staring at the wall, and seemed unwilling to even acknowledge her presence. Leela pressed on regardless. “Some day you’ll have to come to terms with what happened.”

Her double turned a rheumy eye toward Leela, revealing a hint of how much drinking she’d done recently. Leela felt a strange, terrible feeling in her gut; to even consider the possibility that she could sink this low made her stomach churn.

“Coffee’s ready,” Fry said as he slipped back into the room bearing a huge, steaming pot of coffee on a tray. He looked around, trying to find somewhere to set the tray down. Finding no table he set it on the floor next to Leela’s chair. “I couldn’t find any milk, but you do have a lot of very tasty cheese cartons.”

“Fry, that was the milk,” Leela said. She regarded her friend for a moment as he knelt and poured a cup of coffee, and scratched his rear-end at the same time. Somehow having him around was a reminder that life wasn’t really so bad. Perhaps, without him, she might have... Leela quickly pushed the thought away and returned to her counterpart.

“We need to get back into Planet Express,” she said quickly. Her alternate folded her arms and glared at the bottle in Leela’s hands. Leela sighed as she handed the bottle over. “Like I said, we need your help.”

“Easy, just walk in,” Blue said, uncapping the bottle. She held it up to the light as if trying to appreciate the colour, then lifted the bottle to her lips and took a deep swallow. “Just walk right on into the place, s’not like anyone cares any more,” she added, waving the bottle about for effect. “Not since Proctor locked the Professor into that death satellite and had the rest of the staff re-assigned.”

“But the guard...?”

“Feh, guards come and guards go. Shoot him or something, I don’t give a rats.” The double took another draught from the bottle. She looked up at Leela again. “What were they like?”

“I’m sorry?”

“My parents...” she let out a sigh and carefully placed the bottle on the floor, where it was immediately knocked over by Fry. He muttered an apology as he shovelled something that probably wasn’t sugar into one of the cups but Blue just closed her eye and shivered.

“When I pulled back the first hood and saw her face, I... she was still... still alive then. She said she loved me, and then...”

She didn’t start crying, just seemed to sink into her chair, as if her body had suddenly lost its internal support. An unseeing eye turned toward Leela and stared right through her. “I never even knew their names.”

Leela knelt down next to her counterpart and held her hand, then gently touched Blue’s shoulder. “She was called Munda,” she said quietly. “And Morris.”

“Munda...” Blue rolled the word around her mouth with a sad, distant smile. Her eye slowly rolled toward the floor, where she spotted Fry holding up a cup of coffee. He held out the cup and gave her an encouraging smile, but she didn’t take it.

“Fry, this might be a good time for you to leave me alone for a few minutes.”

Fry’s face fell. He frowned at his coffee. “I was only trying to help.”

“I know, and I appreciate it. We both do,” Leela said as Fry stood up. She took his arm and guided him toward the apartment door, where she paused for a moment with her eye fixed on some slight stain that marred the otherwise clean wall by the door-frame. “Look, I need to say a few things to her, and having you around... well it’s woman stuff. You understand? We'll just be a few minutes.”

“Oh, sure, woman stuff.” Fry pushed his hands into his pockets and slouched toward the door. “Amy tried to teach me about all that once but I could never understand the off-side rule. No, wait, that was Hermes and soccer.”

“Out, Fry...” Leela opened the door and shoved Fry out into the brightly-lit, deserted hallway. The door clicked shut, leaving Fry alone. He looked about the hallway for something to do but quickly realised that there was nothing. It was a hall, at the end of the day. People walked through it. They didn’t usually do anything there except on rare occasions when the door was locked and they couldn’t wait, or at least that was Fry’s experience.

“Stupid feminine want and needs,” he grumbled under his breath.

After a few minutes leaning against the door he was bored of the silence and, with nothing to entertain him, it looked like he would be that way for a while. Fry stood up and wandered down the hall to an end window. It was round, like all the windows on the building, and it gave Fry a good view over the street below as he leaned on the sill and stared at the pavement for a while. The rain bounced and shimmered across the paving in short waves, pattering against the window now and then on stray gusts of ocean wind. Fry turned a little to peer up and down the strangely deserted road – he remembered there always being a huge queue of traffic around Leela’s place on the few times he’d been anywhere near it – but he couldn't see any sign of the scary Leela.

A movement in the corner of his eye caught Fry’s attention and his throat tightened with fear until he realised it was just a sign waving from a nearby lamppost. Fry probed around the window until he found a latch, then pushed it open. As he leaned out for a better look he heard a loud metallic click from below his window, accompanied by the sound of something creaking.

“Hello Fry.”

Her voice, that lovely, terrible voice, echoed up from below at about the same time the gun’s barrel poked into Fry’s left nostril. Fry whimpered and stumbled back until his fall was brought short by a hand grabbing his shirt. Leela’s face rose up to meet him as she hauled herself up against his weight, her eye filled with bitter hatred and yet strangely amused, as if the very sight of him was somehow incredibly funny. She pulled him close until their noses were touching and then shoved the gun into his mouth.

“Miss me?”

“Nmf?” Fry lifted back his head to get the gun from between his teeth. “Leela, why are you still doing this?”

“No time to explain,” Leela said, returning the gun to Fry’s mouth. Fry heart thumped hard when the ancient weapon’s ratchet clicked as she started to squeeze the trigger, and he saw her eye widen, pupil dilating, filling with an intensity and passion he’d rarely seen on Leela’s face. She was enjoying this?

“Fwaif!” Desperate, Fry kicked back against the wall. Leela lost her grip on his shirt and he felt a sudden pain as the gun’s sight tore against his lip and gum. The impulsive action finished Leela’s movement for her; the gun fired, surprisingly quiet in the narrow corridor. Fry could swear he saw the bullet streak in front of his face as he stumbled backwards down the hall.

A light-fitting exploded in a shower of sparks and plunged the middle of the hallway into darkness just as Fry slumped down beside an apartment door. He screamed – it was an annoyingly girly scream, some part of his mind grumbled – and rammed himself up against the wall. Realising this was no good he turned, meaning to push himself toward Leela’s apartment, then groaned as he saw the door swinging toward him in a peculiar slow motion. The thick composite cracked against his skull and, for just a moment, everything went black.


Leela fell to the ground and landed on her rear with a thump that knocked the air out of her lungs. Her gun clattered to the ground a moment later, just as the window clicked back into its frame. She glared up at it, ignoring the rain that fell in fitful sheets around her, and laughed shortly at the ultimate futility of his escape. She'd have him, sooner or later.

Still doing this, he’d said. She should have known that one would be trouble, he’d seemed different the first time they’d met. The same, but somehow calmer, or perhaps just more ignorant. Yeah, that must be it. Now he was here too...

Leela picked up her gun, wiped the worst of the grime from its metal hide and then slipped it into the holster at her hip. Last time she’d met this Fry she’d almost lost it, and losing the weapon that had give her purpose, which reminded Leela that she was short of bullets and that it might be a good time to head home again.

“Next universe,” she muttered as she pulled out the gun again to give it a more careful examination. She spun the barrel, revelled in the rapid clatter of the ratchet and the rhythmic flicker of the remaining rounds in their chambers. Leela stepped away from the building and looked up at the now-darkened window, blinking at the rain that sputtered over her upturned eye. No chance to get in there tonight, but that didn’t matter; there were still other Philips to fry. She turned, oblivious to the thickening rain, and looked about the street. There was another one somewhere around here, another prey to hunt. She’d find him and deal with him first, and then she’d return for this one later, and if he’d got away again, well, she’d just have to move on to the next.

Leela set off down the street to resume her hunt. After a few steps she was whistling the happy tune she remembered from the institute radio, and soon afterwards she was skipping along and splashing in the puddles as she thought about her next meeting with Philip.

It was all so much fun!
Professor Zoidy

Urban Legend
« Reply #23 on: 02-09-2008 17:14 »

Very lovely art to go along with a great story. Applause goes to you!

Space Pope
« Reply #24 on: 02-09-2008 17:48 »

Yay update!!! I love this story is awesome. Can'tr wait to see more. So good. I really wan tot know the stroy behind Evila and why she wants to kill Fry it's driving me insaner than I already am.

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #25 on: 02-09-2008 22:44 »

Originally posted by Professor Zoidy:
Very lovely art to go along with a great story. Applause goes to you!

Second. You should definitly color those after you finish the story.

Space Pope
« Reply #26 on: 02-10-2008 08:01 »

Yes definatly.

Bending Unit
« Reply #27 on: 02-10-2008 08:03 »

Great fic, I like the pictures!

Bending Unit
« Reply #28 on: 02-10-2008 08:48 »

Originally posted by Archonix:“I couldn’t find any milk, but you do have a lot of very tasty cheese cartons.”

Heh.. classic Fry. And cheese cartons are always tasty!  :p

Originally posted by Archonix:
“Fry, that was the milk,” Leela said. She regarded her friend for a moment as he knelt and poured a cup of coffee, and scratched his rear-end at the same time. Somehow having him around was a reminder that life wasn’t really so bad. Perhaps, without him, she might have... Leela quickly pushed the thought away and returned to her counterpart.

Fry is Leela's sanity anchor, huh. Never thought of it that way but it makes sense..

Originally posted by Archonix:
“Stupid feminine want and needs,” he grumbled under his breath.

Age old male complaint!  :D

Originally posted by Archonix:
The rain bounced and shimmered across the paving in short waves, pattering against the window now and then on stray gusts of ocean wind.

Nice touch.. helps underscoring the mood.

Originally posted by Archonix:
No chance to get in there tonight, but that didn’t matter; there were still other Philips to fry.

Other Phillips to Fry.. oh the pun!  :D

All in all, top notch!

Bending Unit
« Reply #29 on: 02-10-2008 09:08 »

Wow, this is quite some story you're making, Archonix.  Love the pencil drawings, too.   ;)
Ralph Snart

Agent Provocateur
Near Death Star Inhabitant
DOOP Secretary
« Reply #30 on: 02-10-2008 09:54 »

Okay, I have to say this...

I love how you're doing this!

Leela-blue is majorly depressed because things in her life differed from Leela-A's because Fry wasn't there to make a difference at a critical time.

Leela-A is being slapped in the face with the reality that Fry is directly responsible for some of the greatest sources of happiness in her life.  She's also seeing how if things were a little different in her life, she would be the pathetic drunk she's speaking to.

So will Leela-A also realize one of the reasons that she can accept that she's a sewer mutant rather than an alien is because it doesn't matter to Fry?

Will that realization make her appreciate Fry as a friend and a person more despite his other (many) shortcomings?

I can't wiat for the next installment.

Space Pope
« Reply #31 on: 02-10-2008 10:19 »

Thank you all very much.  :)

The art will turn up now and then but it won't be consistent. I'm sure I'll colour a few of them some day as well.  :)

@corvus: thanks for the comments.  :D

@ralph: All of these things will be dealt with at some point. Remember I'm playing the long game with this. I'm writing enough material to fill up a whole series of books (hence the splitting into multiple "episodes" ) so the themes I'm dealing with are going to be developed over a very long period of time. You've touched on the main plot arcs, though, which either means you're very perceptive or I've managed to actually write the set-up properly.  ;)

Bending Unit
« Reply #32 on: 02-10-2008 10:30 »

No, thank-you, Archonix, thank-you.  You shouldn't be thanking us!!  Take your time because creativity needs to be delicately nurtured. So, you always start out without a headache.   ;)  :)

Bending Unit
« Reply #33 on: 02-11-2008 14:08 »

I love the pics you add to the story.  You *must* be thinking about making a comic book at some point, because you could seriously carry it off.  I'm looking forward to a picture of Blue next to Leela--an out of shape Leela--hard for me to visualize...

I too, am curious about Evila's origins, but I somehow know we're gonna learn more about her  ;)

Urban Legend
« Reply #34 on: 02-11-2008 17:15 »

sweet Collie of Bali, what an excellent update!  I must say, I love your take on what would have happened to Leela if Fry had managed to escape her. 

Bending Unit
« Reply #35 on: 02-11-2008 19:56 »

Originally posted by Archonix:
Thank you all very much.   :)

You're more than welcome; this is turning out to be a stellar story. And the pictures are a wonderful added bonus. Take as long as you need; quality takes time, after all.  :D

...I've managed to actually write the set-up properly.   ;)

Yep, you have. And it's a good set-up, too.  :)

Sine Wave

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #36 on: 02-11-2008 20:37 »

Excellent stuff, both writing and art. The changes from the draft you had up improve it tremendously, from what I thought was already near the limits of possible tremendousness. I'm really looking forward to how this plays out as a whole series of epic-length fics, I'm actually really excited. Also, I find myself looking at the Evila sketch far longer than I should...

DOOP Secretary
« Reply #37 on: 02-11-2008 21:29 »

Join the club, we've got jackets.

Space Pope
« Reply #38 on: 02-12-2008 14:11 »
« Last Edit on: 02-12-2008 14:11 »

“Fry, wake up. Fry!” There was a slapping sound, followed by something that could reasonably be called pain, and Fry realised he was awake again. He groaned, shook his head to relieve the stinging in his cheek, then opened his eyes and looked up. A giant pair of eyes regarded him with a mixture of resigned amusement and drunken suspicion. No wait, that wasn’t right. Fry shook his head and blinked, and the eyes resolved into two Leelas staring down at him.

Leela, his Leela, turned away to look at her ersatz twin. “Back home I have a dermal re-generator in the kitchen, I don’t suppose-”

“I’ll get it,” the other said, before disappearing from view. Her voice sounded rough, as if she’d been crying. Dermal re-generator? Fry sat up and-

“Ow! My head...” Fry reached up to touch his forehead and hissed in pain as his fingers probed at the stiff welt just above his left eye. He looked around the apartment until he found the door, mercifully sealed. “What... Leela, she was out there, you have to-”

“Hush.” Leela helped Fry up to a sitting position and patted down his jacket. “Who was out there, Fry?”

“Uh... you. Her.” Fry’s eyes wandered around the room as he fought for a description. “The one before we came here that attacked you and shot Bender and wasn’t wearing any pants.”

Leela’s brow twisted in confusion, an odd sight given she only had one eye. “Fry, that doesn’t make much sense. She went into a completely different universe. You’ve bumped your head.”

 She stood up and held her hand out to help Fry to his feet. Fry touched his forehead again as he recalled the whack the door had given him and felt a few tiny scratches from the shattered fixture as well.

“But she shot at me! And how do you explain that light exploding?”

“I’ve been on at the landlord for months to get that thing fixed.” Leela guided Fry to the single chair and sat him down in it just before her counterpart returned. She took the dermal regenerator, a small cylindrical device with a rotating interior, and peered at it. “Thanks. Look, Fry, the most likely explanation is that you were asleep, and the light exploding made you have a bad dream. That’s all.”

“I’ve been on at the landlord about that light for months,” the second Leela added with some feeling. Then her face dropped and she looked down at the floor. “Not that it would have made much difference...”

Fry glanced between the two almost-identical faces as Leela applied the regenerator to his forehead. He felt the bruise tingling and a strange, itchy sensation twinged somewhere behind his eyes.

“I don’t know...” He kept his voice low, just in case she heard him. But, then, was she even there? The rhythmic buzzing if the regenerator increased its intensity as Leela waved the device over other parts of his skin and Fry could feel himself relaxing as the dull ache he hadn’t even noticed started to fade away, replaced with a strange warm sensation across his forehead. Maybe he had dreamed it. Not that it mattered, with the door shut they wouldn’t have to worry about her anyway.

The machine snapped off. Fry opened eyes he hadn’t even noticed closing and looked up at Leela. She smiled at him and tapped her finger against his forehead whilst her counterpart folded the machine up again. “That should do it.”

Fry sat up, his vision much clearer now the pain had gone. He reached up to touch the bruise and found it completely healed. “So I guess we’re staying here tonight?”

“Yep. Leela, here,” Leela said, indicating her pseudo-sister with a wry grin, “is letting us crash here tonight. You’re staying out here, I’ll be in there with... myself, I guess. Feel free to watch television and try not to eat any more ‘cheese’.”

“Oh...” Blue frowned and folded her arms across her chest as if she were cold. She looked between Leela and Fry with obvious confusion. “I thought you two would... I mean-”

“No!” Leela blinked and laughed nervously at the force of her own reply. She took her twin’s arm to guide her toward the bedroom. “We aren’t a couple if that’s what you mean.”

“You aren’t?” Blue looked over her shoulder at Fry, confusion clouding her face for a moment. The eye made her so easy to read, Fry thought sadly, watching her as the door closed. “But he’s so cute...”

Fry turned back to stare at the blank television. Once, just once, he wished he could hear his Leela utter that phrase without kicking him in the balls afterwards. Metaphorically speaking, anyway, he thought, as he reached under the seat and pulled out the half-full bottle of liquor. Leela really had sunk low in this world and in all likelihood he, Philip Fry, was dead at the bottom of some ruined gulley in the remains of old New York. It was worth a drink.

“Here’s to another lousy universe,” Fry said, raising the bottle in mock salute. He downed a gulp of the liquor only to choke most of it back up again as the fiery liquid stripped the inside of his throat raw.

“Ugh... it’s like swallowing hot nails! How can she drink this stuff?”

Fry peered at the bottle, shrugged and took another gulp. It was a lot smoother this time though, truth be told, that was probably because his throat had just gone numb. He didn’t feel quite so scared any more. Two Leela’s against one was always good odds, even if the one did have a gun. A very odd gun...

Fry’s eyes snapped open. The room was pitch-black apart from a faint glow from a chronometer by the side of the giant TV screen that read something ridiculously early in the morning. He stared at it, willing himself to understand the numbers, but they slipped away to a ruddy, senseless blur each time he tried to focus.

“There’s no five in the morning...” he muttered, rolling his head to one side. Where had he been? Gun. It had been an old pistol, the sort Dirty Harry would have been using to get lucky. Something about the gun nagged at Fry, preventing him from getting back to sleep. Something about the way it worked.

Bullet! Fry leaped from the chair and then immediately stumbled over the discarded liquor bottle, spilling its remaining contents across the floor. Not that it made much difference to the smell. Fry didn't care about that, anyway; if he could find the spent bullet he could prove to Leela that he hadn’t been dreaming!

He felt his way along the wall toward the apartment door and then paused, suddenly wary. What if she was waiting out there? But, then, would she bother waiting? Wouldn’t she have simply broken her way in? Fry shivered in anticipation of what might come and opened the door a crack with the full expectation of a bullet in the gut for his troubles. Nothing. He let out an audible sigh of relief and let the door swing wide.

The hall was bright to his dark-accustomed eyes, but dim at the same time, and silent. Shards of ceramic and metal littered the floor underneath the destroyed light fitting, glinting in the remaining lights and the pale false dawn that shone in through the window. Fry gingerly stepped out into the hall, carefully avoiding the worst mess and conscious of the noise his steps made on the detritus that must surely have woken the entire floor again. He paused for a moment to make sure the apartment door was off its latch and wouldn’t lock him out, then moved on toward the centre of the hall.

From underneath the light-fitting looked fairly well wrecked, the ceiling scorched in a wide arc around the fitting, cracked in a few places where its protected surface polymer sheath had bubbled away. He knew a simple failing light wouldn’t do that, even in these days of high-power plasma bulbs and electronium filaments. Unfortunately he couldn’t see any way to climb up to the fitting, and he couldn’t spot any obvious bullet inside it from down here. Fry shook his head sadly and looked away, letting his eyes rove over the destruction while until they came to rest on a small, dull-silver object resting on the floor. It looked about right.

Fry picked up the bullet and rocked it back and forth in his hand, examining the slightly flattened slug of metal from every angle, willing himself to remember any tricks he could think of from the old cop shows. T.J. Hooker had always been able to guess the size of a bullet from just looking at it but Fry couldn’t seem find the little numbers he must have been using. Maybe they’d been rubbed off by the carpet.

He looked over his shoulder at the pale grey circle of the window and shuddered; he’d been that close to having his brains blown out, he still didn’t know why she was using the old gun, or even why she was after him, but now he had another reason to get home as fast as possible. Fry pocketed the bullet and crept back into the apartment, closed the door and locked it tight, then leaned back against it with a relieved outlet of breath.

He put his hand back in his pocket to touch the proof of the attack and then crept across the apartment to Leela’s bedroom with a little trepidation. Maybe it would be better to wait until the morning? But then again, if they waited until then, she might find some way to get to him. No, there was no choice. Fry leaned up against the door and raised his hand to knock.

Which was just about when Leela started to cry. Some strange instinct made Fry push his ear up against the door because, even though he knew it was rude to eavesdrop, the thought of Leela crying overrode any sense of propriety. Fry knew it wasn’t his Leela that was crying, but the voice was almost the same, and had the same effect on him as his heart leapt into his throat. Leela almost never cried, even when she knew he was in a lot of trouble. She hadn’t even cried that time she’d had to hit him until he cried, and when she did it was a voluminous wail, not the bitter emaciated weeping he could hear through the door. The sound of someone so crushed by life that they couldn't even cry properly.

There were muttered words that might have been encouragement and the quiet sobbing died away again. Fry stepped back and took the bullet from his pocket. He looked at it in the twilight of the room and sighed, then zipped it into an inside pocket to keep it safe before tip-toeing back to his seat in front of the oversized television screen. He’d tell her about it tomorrow.


Fry woke again, still in the chair, but bathed in a bright light. The screen in front of him was glowing bright white and filled with fuzzing static that seemed to dance with a thousand almost-visible images of people walking to and fro, skipping and jumping from one spot to another and then fading back to nothing, like a vague and annoyingly steamed-up window onto a million parallel lives. Fry sat up and tugged the remote out from beneath his leg; the movement knocked the empty bottle under the chair against one of the coffee cups he’d left there the night before. With a tired grunt Fry turned his eyes away from the screen as Leela walked into his field of vision, rubbing her hands with a towel.

“So, you’re awake.” There was a that little smile and no pain etched on her face which mean it was his Leela. Fry smiled back and tried to push himself out of the chair, an act he managed with some difficulty after finding out his left leg had fallen asleep. He leaned against the chair back and flopped the leg around to try and get some blood flowing.

“Yeah. Leela, I found something last night.” Fry grunted and had to stop talking for a moment as all the nerves in his leg suddenly started working again. It felt as if he had the thing trapped in a spiny ant-eater nest or something. Finally, after he was sure he could stand without his knee bending backward, Fry felt around in his pocket for the bullet. It was gone. He paused, grinned nervously and searched his other pockets in confusion. “It was here before...”

Leela looked on with a skeptical eye as Fry patted his other pockets. “Sure you didn’t dream-”

“Wait, got it!” Fry reached into his inside pocket and pulled out the lumpen lead slug, which he held up between finger and thumb in front of Leela’s face. “See? She was here!”

“Fry...” Leela took the bullet between her fingers and held it up to the light. “This is just a piece of metal,” she said, dropping it back into Fry’s palm. She shook her head sadly. “It’s probably something out of the light fitting. Face it, Fry, you’ve had a stressful day and night, and you’ve been drinking that... that drink, and it’s made you have nightmares.”

“But, but she was here,” Fry whined as he stared at the leaden slug. In the light of day it did look a bit less bullet-shaped than he’d thought the night before. Then again, somehow, he knew what a bullet should look like and this was it. More to the point, Leela wouldn’t know. She was used to laser pistols and plasma rifles. “Besides, how many light fittings have lead in them?”

“Oh, you’d be surprised,” Leela replied. She turned her back on Fry and walked toward the bedroom. “Get cleaned up, we’re taking ‘me’ to see a doctor and then we’re going to figure out a way to sort this crazy-ass world out again.”

“But, Leela, she-”

“Enough, Fry!” Leela turned around and glared at Fry with her hands on her hips, giving him a chance to see how little sleep she'd had the night before.

In the face of that stare Fry simply had to give in. He shrugged and put the bullet back in his pocket, making a mental note to check it up once they got back home; the internet was always full of that sort of information. He shook out his coat, smoothed back his hair and turned to smile at Leela but she was already back in the bedroom, which left him feeling a little silly. Fry made his way over to the door and peered around the edge into the dim recesses of the room he’d rarely seen before.

For a moment the sight of two Leela’s sitting on the bed caused strange ideas to roam through his mind and he stumbled, even though he hadn’t been walking, and had to grab hold of the nearest support to stop himself falling which, unfortunately, turned out to be a small table just inside the door. The pressure of his fall knocked it over and sent something flying into the room where it landed with a loud smack.

Both women were staring at Fry as he righted himself. He tugged at his coat and let out a nervous laugh, to which neither version of Leela gave any reply except to look at the other with something like confused contempt.

“Still think he’s cute?”

“I’m withholding judgement. Oh...” Blue stood up and rubbed her temples, and then screwed her eye up and rubbed a shivery hand across her face. “I feel like crap...”

“You will. These detox pills always go that way,” Leela replied as she accompanied her counterpart, hands gripped around Blue’s ill-defined biceps for just a moment, before she leaned over to pick up the plastic vase Fry had sent flying and re-seated it on its table by the door. Leela gave Fry a quick glance and a half-smile, probably trying to encourage him somehow, then turned her attention back to her other self.

“Time to go.”

“Can’t I just have one-”

“No!” Leela took her counterpart’s arms by the wrists and held them up. Blue struggled against Leela’s grip but her strength had apparently wasted away over the weeks of her self-imposed isolation to the point where she was barely able to even twist her arms free. Leela grimace at the sight and quickly let go to spare herself the embarrassment. “We need you sober.”

“What about my needs?”

“You need you sober. You aren’t going to get your job back if you’re half way down a bottle of bourbon!”

“Fine...” Leela’s counterpart lowered her head and resumed rubbing her temples. From Fry’s point of view it was obvious she wasn’t in the best shape but Leela seemed intent on driving her forward, as if she couldn’t stand to see herself in this state. Fry waited by the door as Leela walked from the room, so deep in thought that she didn't even look at Fry when she passed. Fry waited for Leela to leave before he slipped inside the door and pushed it part-way closed.

He took a step toward the bed, where Blue was sitting down again, shading her eye with her hands against the bright morning sunlight that streamed in the window. Every now and then she winced as another detox cycle kicked in.


She opened her eye and looked at him. For a moment it seemed like she was looking at him for the first time in her life which, in a way, was almost true.

“Did you mean... what you said, last night?”

She gave a non-committal shrug and looked away.

“I was drunk. Besides,” she said, giving him another appraising look. “You're the first man I've really looked at for months.”

“Yeah, but did you... never mind.” Fry hovered by the bed, wanting to sit down but worried it might be misinterpreted, until Blue patted the bed beside her.

“Sit down.” She waited for Fry to slump onto the hard mattress and then looked at him, eye tightening slightly as the detox pills went to work again. “Since we're asking questions, maybe you can answer one for me.”

“Sure... anything.” Fry tried to smile. Blue had already looked away, though, staring at her hands as she pressed them between her knees, so vulnerable that Fry almost couldn't recognise her.

“You met my parents.” It wasn't a question. Fry nodded, though she wasn't looking at him to see it. When she spoke it was almost as if Fry wasn't there. “They looked a lot like me.”

“Oh, yeah. If it wasn't for your mom's arms I would have trouble telling you two... apart, hey...” Fry put his hand up to touch Blue's shoulder but hesitated at the last minute as a tear ran down her cheek. He wasn't sure how she'd react, didn't want to find out in a painful way. Then she shook her head and scrubbed her arm across her face to wipe away the tears, and even smiled a little.

“She said you were there with her.” Fry nodded again. Blue's brow creased a little as if she were having a hard time concentrating. “And you saved them?”

Saved them from me, she didn't add. Fry looked away, around the bedroom, not quite as spartan as the living room but still virtually empty, with just a few mementos on the walls and the ruffled bed giving any sign someone had ever lived there. The air was dusty, the walls streaked with hints of grime and grease that meant whatever normally kept the place clean was either abandoned or no longer working.

“Leela, I’m sorry.” He did touch her this time, lightly, on the shoulder. Blue shivered at the touch. Or possibly because she was still detoxing, Fry wasn't really sure. Her skin felt hot and terribly dry. “I wasn’t there when you needed me. I suppose I never am anyway, but your parents-”

Fry's words dried up in his throat as Blue's face closed up like a collapsing cavern.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said, and then turned away again. Fry grunted assent, put his hands in his pockets and shuffled back toward the door. Before opening it again he paused and looked back at Blue.

“I’ve always wanted to say...” he began, but the words jammed in his throat. Leela... she wasn’t his Leela, but she was close enough as to make no difference. Leela didn’t take his complements very well most of the time. Say it, Fry! You’re beautiful! “Uh... you have nice boots.”

The corners of her mouth twitched slightly. Fry tried to smile as she stood up, but all he managed was the same slightly ugly grimace, which wasn’t helped by the way he’d slept the night before. This Leela walked up to him, took a moment to look down at her boots, then pushed past Fry and left the room. He sighed and leaned his head against the door-frame, let the cool plasteel leech away the heat from his flushed forehead. Why didn’t he just say it?

Because it wouldn’t have been right...

But she needed to hear it from someone.

Fry looked back into the living room, if it could really be called that. They were talking and, every now and then, one or the other would look his way like some species of freakishly tall one-eyed meerkat. Fry felt his mouth drying out at the thought of what they might be saying to each other about him – if that’s what they were talking about.

“Well I guess we should get going.” Leela walked up to Fry and put her fists on her hips. “I made an appointment at the clinic on forty-second and Quatzl, that should be anonymous enough.”


Fry followed the pair toward the door and felt his guts begin to tangle as they exited the apartment, but he was no longer sure whether it was because of her or because of something a little closer to home.

Space Pope
« Reply #39 on: 02-12-2008 15:36 »

Ohh, great update. I don't get why teh Leela's don't believe but at least Blue thinks he's cute that's a start.

Get more up soon.
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