Fan Fiction

The Phone Call
By Red_Line

0RL04 1 April 2007

Author's note: This is not your classic Futurama fan fiction story in the sense that Leela, Fry, and Bender do not appear anywhere in the story, nor do any of the other characters. It's not even set in the future. For it to make sense, the reader should be aware of several things:

1. This story was written in March of 2007, which was the late interregnum between the original 72 episode series (known in some circles as series 1) and the release of the first post series 1 movie Bender's Big Score. At the time of writing, the new production was still unconfirmed with rumors of both movies and TV episodes abounding.

2. The author is a webmaster and administrator of the Futurama Madhouse web site, and the fic was first published in that site's forum on 1 April 2007, a date both significant and intentional.

3. Names that would reveal things I don't want revealed have been replaced with substitutions, for example $MY_NAME in place of my real name. Feel free to substitute anything that seems reasonable to you. This sort of makes for an audience participation story like the movie in Raging Bender.

Disclaimer: The Futurama name, characters, and settings belong to their respective copyright owners. This is a work of fan fiction which has no commercial intent or value and was created soley for my own amusement and for that of other Futurama fans. The author would appreciate it if this work is not placed on websites or reproduced in any form without his express consent.

The 'phone rang.

I glanced at the display. Outside line. Long distance. The area code wasn't one I recognized.

“Probably another sales person.” I grumped to myself.

Resigning myself to feigning polite interest, I picked it up.

“Good Morning. $MY_COMPANY, $MY_NAME speaking.” I said in my best professional voice.

“Mr. $MY_LAST_NAME?” the voice said.


“Is this the $MY_FIRST_NAME $MY_LAST_NAME who writes Futurama fan fiction under the name Red Line?”

That got my attention. I was silent for a moment. There were only three people who knew my secret identity, and only one of them knew my work number. In any event, all three of them were male, and the voice on the line wasn't. In a few seconds, my mind raced through a decision matrix. There was only one logical conclusion.

“Mr. $MY_LAST_NAME? Are you there?” she asked before I had finished composing a reply.

“Yes, I'm here. You can tell $MY_BUDDY I said very funny.”

“Oh no, Mr. $MY_LAST_NAME. Nobody put me up to this. I'm acting on my own here. You are Red Line aren't you?”

“I don't know what you're talking about.”

“Don't be silly, I'm quite certain I've got the right party.” she said, as if that settled the matter. She went on with barely a pause “I've read your fictions. Some of them are OK.”

"Some of them? Which ones didn't ....".

I stopped, realizing I'd been had.

“I thought so.” She said, the self-satisfied smirk making itself felt over the wire.

“All right.” I said. “Let's assume, just for the sake of discussion, that I am. What of it?”

“My, you are the cautious one, aren't you?”

“Wouldn't you be if you were in my position? If you got a call out of the blue from someone you don't know making wild claims, you'd be cautions too.”

“I suppose I would. You sound like a lawyer. Are you a lawyer?”

“No. Computer geek by nature, bureaucrat by misfortune.”

“Well that's good. I wouldn't want to deal with a lawyer. They get too bogged down in the details and can't see the big picture.”

“And what is the big picture?”

“I have something that might be very valuable to a person in your position and I'm wondering if you're interested in it.”

“Probably not. I'm happily married and I'd like to stay that way.”

She laughed.

“Very good. But it's nothing like that.”

“Well, what is it then?”

“Not so fast, Mr. $MY_LAST_NAME, you haven't admitted that you're the right party yet.”

“Then we seem to have conundrum. If I am this Red Line and I choose to keep that fact a secret, you can hardly expect me to admit it to a perfect stranger. So we seem to be at an impasse. Tell you what, you tell me what you have that is so valuable and we'll proceed from there.”

“I can tell I'm up against a tough negotiator. Ok, Mr. I'm-not-admitting-I'm-Red Line, how would you like a draft copy of one of the scripts for the new Futurama episodes?”

"Excuse me?" I said, blinking. Surly I didn't hear that right.

"I said how would you like a draft copy of one of the scripts for the new Futurama episodes?”

“Sure, I'd love it. I'd also love to win the lottery and the Nobel Prize for Literature. I figure they're all equally likely. $MY_BUDDY put you up to this, didn't he?”

“No, no, no!” the voice said, sounding a bit exasperated. “Stop that. I really do have a draft copy of one of the scripts.”

“And just how, might I ask, did you obtain that?”

“I can't tell you that. But I can tell you this is legit. They're supposed to be shredded, but this one ... found it's way to me. I'm giving you first crack at it.”

“How much?”

“See, you can get right to the point, can't you?”

“I don't like to waste time unless there's beer involved. How much?”

She named a figure.

"Excuse me?" I said, blinking. Surly I didn't hear that right.

“I think you heard me.”

“I just wanted to make sure I heard you right. That's pretty steep.”

“Not for something like this. Do you know what I could get for it on $INTERNET_AUCTION_SITE?”

“Not a clue, but I'm guessing more than you could get out of me. What makes you think I'd be willing to part with that kind of gelt for a script? What would I do with it once I'd read it?”

“You could use it to write a fan fic and scoop the new episodes.”

“Uhh Huh. Well other than the little detail that that would be plagiarism which could get me into all kinds of trouble, including possibly sued and fired from my job, I don't see any down side.”

“Ok, well then use it do news items on that web site. You could dribble out a few facts and tidbits at a time ...”

“Oh sure.” I interrupted. “One, no one would believe me. Two, if I got too many things right and someone noticed, I could still find my pasty, fleshy behind in hot water. Three, suppose you do send me a nice official looking script and I do make a big deal out of it and everybody goes gaa-gaa and thinks I'm the hottest detective since Sherlock Holmes; then the new epps come out and it's all wrong and I look like a complete idiot .... Wait a sec, that's it, isn't it? If $MY_BUDDY didn't put you up to this ... are you from $THAT_OTHER_WEBSITE?”

“No!” The voice was starting to sound quite upset. “I tell you this is legit. It's the genuine article. It's the chance of a lifetime dropping in your lap and you're throwing it away. I thought you would be smarter than that.”

“No, I'm not really all that smart, although I've made a pretty good living out of pretending to be. Let me ask you this, how would I know it's the genuine article?”

“You can tell just by looking at it. It's the real thing.”

By this time, my curiosity was aroused. I'd pulled up an area code lookup web site and ran the number. It was in $BIG_WEST_COAST_CITY. That made me think ... If this was one of $MY_BUDDY's gags, he'd gone to a whole lot of trouble to set this up. I wouldn't put it past him, but it didn't seem like his style; he usually drew the line at spending real money. There were lots of other less expensive ways to play a joke on me. I should know, in the years we've known each other we must have tried them all at least once.

“Maybe" I said "you work around this stuff enough to know what one looks like, or maybe everyone in $BIG_WEST_COAST_CITY lines their bird cages with old scripts, but I don't. I live a sheltered existence here in the hinterlands of the mid west and I probably couldn't tell the difference between a real TV script and a LA telephone directory.”

“Look, this is the real thing. Do you want it or not?”

“Nah, I don't think so, not at your price. I might go ten bucks just for laughs, but only if that includes shipping.”

“You really aren't very smart, are you?”

“I guess that depends on your point of view.”

“My point of view says no deal. My price isn't negotiable.”

“Neither is mine.”

“Well if you don't take this, I'll just track down someone at one of the other sites and offer it to them."

"Sure. Go for it. Of course, this is such a hilarious gag that I'm going to write about it and they'll all probably know about it before you reach any of them. Just to make sure I get it right, how do you spell your name?"

The bang of the receiver being slammed down on the other end of the line made me jerk the instrument away from my ear as the line went dead, her closing comment still ringing in my head. I was pretty sure that wasn't her real name, and it didn't matter as I wouldn't be able to print it anyway.

I sat looking at the ear piece for a moment, then slowly cradled it, wondering if it could have been true. But in a couple of seconds, reason prevailed.

"Nah. Not a chance." I thought. "Good try $MY_BUDDY, you almost had me there a couple of times."

I turned to my computer and clicked back to the project at hand, trying to regain my focus. But in the back of my mind, I was busy trying to think up something I could pull on $MY_BUDDY that would top this.

. -. -..