"Forgive me for what I told you,
my heart makes a fool of me
you know I'll never hold you
I know that you gotta be free."
(lyrics by Queen)
Leela cringed as she looked down at her hand. She reached out to a Slurm can, and was able to pick it up with the tiny suckers on her palms and fingers. They reacted like a normal squid or an octopus, adhering to the surface of the can. "Why has this got to happen to me?"
"Well, your mom has tentacles," Fry offered.
This drew a mean look. "Is that supposed to be a comfort?" she asked. "Maybe, just maybe, I don't want to be a mutated freak like my mother."
"Don't worry, Leela...the Professor is sure to come up with an answer to what's happening to you."
"Good news, everybody!"
Leela looked up. "Do you really have good news, or are you just getting my hopes up?"
"Well," the Professor continued, "I've at least found out what's happening to you...that's a step in the right direction."
"Hit us with it Professor," Fry urged.
"What's happening to you is what I like to call 'squidification.'"
"That's a very clever word...what's it mean?" asked Leela.
"It simply means that your genes are wanting to return to their natural state. You see, I've often wondered why you didn't inherit more of your mother's genetic traits."
"So you're saying that I'm basically returning to what I was supposed to be?"
Farnsworth couldn't look in her eyes, so he glanced across the lounge. "In a word, yes." He then tried to put a positive spin on it. "But I am going to continue my research."
Leela looked down at her boots. "Why bother...I'm doomed to turn into a monster when it's all said and done."
"I didn't say that..."
"Just leave." As the two started to leave the room, she added: "Not you, Fry...stay with me a minute."
Farnsworth obeyed the request and left the lounge.
Philip J. Fry thought about what he would say before he spoke. He cleared his throat. "Leela, I don't care what happens...I will always love you for who you are."
"I know you will, but you have to understand that what we have will come to an end at some point."
He looked like he could cry. "Isn't there something I can do?"
Leela thought about it. "This might sound nutty...but I could really use a fish sandwich from MacDougall's..."
"Done - I'll be right back."
She lovingly put her palm to Fry's face without thinking; the suckers adhered to his face. They couldn't help but chuckle as the suckers made a popping sound as her hand pulled away.
Several days had gone by, and Leela had sprouted a number small purple tentacles on the side of her face and neck. Amy and Zoidberg had quickly learned to avoid her when these appendages were writhing in anger. They also learned that they could gain her good graces with a peace offering of a fish sandwich, which she would swiftly devour in front of them. God help the fingers of the person who got too close to that mouth.
On top of the small tentacles, Leela's hands and arms had developed many more of the tiny suckers; they sprouted like thousands of little mushrooms. Her hands were beginning to transform into the oval-shaped "clubs" that squids have on the ends of their feeding tentacles. Unlike a normal cephalopod, her "clubs" had several knobs she could use like fingers of a hand. She got very skilled at using these different items to do whatever she needed to do (Amy was forced to do the piloting - Leela now took care of much of the business end of things at Planet Express). The Planet Express Crew thought that she would have a difficult time mentally adjusting to all of these changes, but she amazingly took all this in stride. She was almost amused by all the new things she was capable of, and got great joy out of the practical jokes she could pull on her co-workers.
Fry had a more difficult time keeping up with the changes; he had to be careful of her arms, or what were once called arms, as she now had hooks on them that could tear flesh if not careful. In true squid form, they were becoming those instruments designed for pulling food to the mouth. And then there was that ravenous appetite for fish - her hunger drive was pushing Fry to his limits, if not to bankruptcy. Daily she would send him to the Seventh Street Fish Market on the Battery to buy fresh fish. And it had to be fresh fish, not just a sandwich from a fast food joint. Salmon, halibut, Martian Lion Fish - she now lived on the protein that only fresh fish could provide. And she was strangely happy with this. One thing was certain - she was impossible to live with if he didn't bring back the catch of the day. He learned that it was just better to go broke and buy the expensive fish. Still, Fry felt that you had to make sacrifices sometimes for the ones that you love.
Only three weeks later came the morning that Leela found out that she no longer had legs - they were replaced by a group of eight tentacles, or "arms" as they are called on squid. She thought that she would cry all day at something like this happening, but in a strange way she was at peace with it. She laid back down in the bed and fell into a dream. Her dreams were vivid; she dreamed about freely swimming around in a nice warm ocean amid schools of fish that she could dine on while sunlight filtered through the water. Sometimes, if she dreamed about swimming deep enough, she would have a nightmare about running face to face with an orca or a sperm whale, deadly enemies at her size. Mostly though, the dreams were soothing and relaxing.
One day on one of his fish delivery visits Leela took Fry aside. She clasped his face in her "hands" and got serious for a moment. "Fry," she told him, "I want you to do a favor for me."
"I want you to take me down to the Seventh Street Pier."
"You've always wanted to do things to make me happy..."
"Yeah, but - "
"This would make me really happy."
Everything went well until they had to walk by that fish market; Fry had to shell out a pretty penny for an Alaskan king crab, which Leela quickly devoured before his eyes. He'd never seen anything like it. "Aren't they supposed to cook those things?" asked a confused Fry.
As they strolled down to the end of the pier, Leela again grasped Fry's face. "Fry," she told him, "I want to thank you for everything you've done."
"What? That makes it sound like you're leaving...you're not going to kill yourself, are you?"
"But...where will you go?"
"Silly...look around you." She kissed him tenderly and told him, "Take care, Goof Bag."
Turanga Leela took off the white dress she wore to conceal her tentacles, and discarded it on the pier. She then did an elegant dive into the chilly water.
"Leela," Fry shouted. He wanted to say more, but instead watched her happily swim around. She looked graceful out there...more at home in the water than on land. She gave him a playful wave with her feeding tentacle.
He got choked up. "See you," was all he could think of to say.
"See you," she said back.
He watched her swim away and disappear. He had no way of knowing, but she would swim all the way out through the Hudson and the Lower Bay into the Atlantic Ocean that very day. She had to find out what was out there, no matter what the risk. Fry walked back to the travel tube. "Plenty of fish out there," he thought to himself, "all the fish she could ever want."
Fry would often come down to the pier and look for Leela. Occasionally he would get lucky and spot her. Their conversations were short, and she seemed very happy. One day she bragged about how far she swam that week.
"I made it all the way out to Cape Cod."
"That's great, pumpkin...that's great.
Leela came up on shore to chat with him. She looked at him strangely - standing on her tentacles, she now towered over him. "Fry...did you shrink or something?"
"Nope...I'm still the same size."
"Must be more of the changes. I haven't noticed - it seems that all I do is swim and eat anymore." She then got excited as she again boasted about her exploits. "Hey, I nailed a swordfish the other day...I couldn't believe that I found one up this far north."
"What did you do with it?"
"I ate it, silly..."
After a number of weeks, the visits ceased. Fry feared the worst, as he couldn't find her. Had she been struck by a passing ship? Caught up in a net, God forbid? Or maybe she had just gone all the way out into that big ocean just to see what adventures she could find. Maybe she'd made it as far as the British Isles or Spain. It still made him lonely just to think about it. Would she still remember her Goof Bag?
One day Fry walked into the Planet Express lobby and found Captain O' Hannagan, one of their regular customers, entertaining Zoidberg and Amy with a tale about a sea monster. He stopped to listen. While the others just thought of him as entertaining, Fry focused in on his story. O' Hannagan looked the part of the grizzled old sea captain, with white hair and one of those corny captain's hats. He stuffed his little Peterson pipe with fresh moist tobacco as he spoke.
"It was huge," he told them in his charming Irish brogue, "and purple it was. Nearly captured and ate one of me men with a huge tentacle. And that eye...that singular eye that seemed to stare into me very soul...from the depths of hell it surely came."
"You're full of the old brown stuff," Bender countered. "A sea monster?"
"Wait a minute," Fry asked, "how many eyes did you say it had?"
O' Hannagan focused his one good eye on Fry. "Just one, boy-o...and it looked at me as if I were naught more than just a nice juicy cuttlefish that it was fixing to eat."
"Where exactly was this?"
"Why, not too far from Fort Totten...in the Long Island Sound."
"Could you show us this monster?"
The captain got a worried look on his face as he put an arm on Fry's shoulder. "It don't do to tempt fate twice, but seein' as yer good friends of mine, I'll try. But I'll warn ye - you can't act the maggot out there...it'll be the end of you."
It was just starting to feel like fall when Captain O' Hannagan's boat cut across the Long Island Sound. "It's colder than a brass monkey out here," he announced to Bender and Fry.
"Hey - I'm 40 percent titanium, and I find that remark to be racially insensitive," Bender barked.
The Captain looked at Fry. "Yer friend's a bit of a melter, isn't he? If he's a sensitive puss, he ought to go down below."
"Are we near where you saw the monster?" asked Fry.
"Yes, we are." The Captain pulled back the throttles and stopped the fishing boat. "You know, there's some good cod to be had out in these parts...we could drop the nets, fish, and then go home..."
"I'm only after one sea creature," Fry told him, "and she's the girl who stole my heart."
The Captain crossed himself. "I'll give ye a small launch - yer on your own from there. And may ye be in heaven a half an hour before the devil knows yer dead."
Fry looked confused. "That's good...I guess..."
"Hmph," Bender grumbled, "a Bible Basher."
"You can make fun if you want to," the Captain warned, "but yer friend here has just bought a ticket to Davey Jones' Locker for the both of ye. You'll surely be sleeping with the fishes tonight."
"I'm gettin' tired of this rowing stuff," Bender complained as the two made their way across the Sound. He picked up a metal tube with a propeller on the end, and inserted the other end into his chest door. As the propeller started spinning, he placed it into the water. "That rowing stuff is for chumps."
Fry gazed at his handheld computer with enthusiasm. "I'm picking up her employee chip - she's close. I was hoping she somehow still had it. She's coming toward us fast."
"Man, we've been out here all morning and seen nothing but pieces of old ships," Bender complained. "Look at all this junk in the water. Besides - get a load of those thunderstorms in the distance...your best buddy here is a natural lightning rod."
"She's got to be out here somewhere," Fry told him. "She's out here...if I could only just talk to her, we can get her back home. The Professor swore he could cure her."
"Look at that, Fry - it's a life preserver with teeth marks in it. Whatever happened here, it didn't turn out good. Why don't we head back...I've got some homemade moonshine back at the apartment. We can drink to forget - we'll drink a toast to your old girlfriend."
"But I promised Leela that I would always love her...no matter what happened."
As Bender kept rowing, there was a disturbance in the water in front of them. Something rose up out of the water...something huge and purple. Its aquatic skin glistened as the sunlight hit it. It was a large mass of gigantic tentacles. Fry's jaw dropped as the tentacles parted to reveal the only part of Turanga Leela still recognizable - her face. The monstrous cycloptic eye opened to examine the visitors in her midst - big enough to fill a living room, it had that familiar angry look to it. The eyeball moved around to inspect the curious creatures that were now trapped in her territory - there was no escape, so she could take her time examining them. Were they food? Did they pose a threat? At least one of them looked like food.
"Leela...it's Leela! Get us closer so I can talk to her."
"Closer? Are you nuts? I say we cut our losses and scram."
As Bender frantically began to row, a huge purple tentacle came out of the water and wrapped around the boat; they were now being pulled toward her.
"Leela...Leela," Fry called. "It's me..." The creature's eye softened its angry look, and the gargantuan lips broke out into a smile. "See Bender, she's responding. Leela...I'm over here."
Leela's gigantic mouth finally opened, and a loud basso voice boomed out. It was so loud that Fry covered his ears. All it said was, "Fresh meat...me hungry..."
"Fry...that wasn't a welcome home - let's get the hell out of here!"
By this time Bender had ditched his motor and was rowing his oars furiously, but the two weren't able to move. Another huge tentacle quickly wrapped several times around Fry's midsection and lifted him out of the boat. He struggled, but the huge suckers with their tiny teeth kept him from moving; all he could do was flail his legs. The tentacle was so strong that it started squeezing the air out of him.
As Bender still tried to row, Leela smashed the small wooden boat into pieces. The robot struggled to stay afloat in the rough seas, trying to grab onto the bits of wood.
"Tasty meat," bellowed the frightening voice; the low frequency vibration seemed to go right through the two.
Fry panicked as he was brought up to the face; that huge terrible eyeball studied him briefly. He still hoped that she would somehow recognize him. In that low booming voice, she chuckled. After expressing a grin of satisfaction, the mouth opened wide to reveal the numerous monstrous white teeth. Leela had crossed that line...she was no longer humanoid. Her one-time friend Philip Fry was now merely part of the food supply that the waters offered her. Fry closed his eyes in terror, waiting for the teeth to crunch him to bits as he was placed into the mouth. For some strange reason, he was pulled back out of the mouth and held up for another inspection. "Leela," he simpered, "Please don't eat me...I still love you - I’ll always love you!"
The eye softened its gaze again. The monster voice rumbled, sounding like a huge sound system. "Goof Bag," it said.
"Yeah...it's me, Leela...the Goof Bag."
"You brought me fish...yummy fish. No kill I."
Philip Fry was gently deposited back in the water among the pieces of smashed boat, where he swam over and grabbed a plank.
"See you Goof Bag," the monster said, as it slipped beneath the waters and disappeared.
"See you," repeated an exhausted and soaking wet Fry.
"Oh, brother," Bender complained, "Yeah, yeah…love conquers all. I hate to break this love affair up, but can we go home now?!"
As Leela left the two hapless sailors behind, she found a Sand Tiger Shark swimming in front of her. The creature didn't have a chance as the huge purple tentacle grabbed it and pulled it into the mouth. As she devoured the tiny beast whole she thought, "Goof Bag feed me fish; bring me much good luck."
Leela enjoyed this area, as it offered large schools of flounder and striped bass for her...as well as the occasional passing fishing boat. Fry was lucky, as she'd developed a taste for human beings of late - the creatures were quite helpless as she pulled them off of the boats and ate them. Unlike many of the fish she ate, they were pretty much helpless in the water. She was always amused at how they would scream and struggle, as if it would change their fate. Amusement was some of the only humanity left in her; the idea that something would still make her chuckle. Lately she'd gotten skilled at snatching the human treats off of the decks without destroying the boats and then just submerging to eat them. It amused her to no end that she could do this without being seen. No screaming or struggling changed their fate in any way; they were just a food item to be feasted upon.
After dining on men from passing fishing boats as a snack in the warm afternoons, she would typically make her way out into the depths of the Atlantic where she would hunt passing sperm whales. They were a challenge because of their speed and fight, but they were tasty and well worth the battle at the depths of nearly 3 kilometers. Even though the beasts were over 50 feet long, she now had little fear of them because of her size. She was no longer the hunted, but was now the hunter. She was also smarter than these brutish animals, and she knew it - she could strategize and take her time as she pursued them. Once her powerful tentacles got a death grip on them, they didn't stand much of a chance. After a brief rest in the night, she would then return to hunt for the boats. Life was good out here in these waters, which offered a bounty of food, but she never quite forgot the one known as "Goof Bag" who used to bring her fish...
Bender and Fry both looked up when they heard the ship’s horn; it was dark, and the two were sinking in the depths of despair. Fry was starting to succumb to hypothermia, and there wasn't much Bender could do to keep his friend from dying in the frigid waters.
“There’s your mick friend,” Bender told his buddy. “I was hoping this whole thing wouldn’t turn out like your Titanic movie. I always thought those sad endings sucked.”
Fry shivered as he spoke. "Yeah...I guess we didn't end up in Davey Jones' Locker...whatever that is..."
Fry hated the way things turned out, but he realized that he had to let Leela be what she really was…and that this was what true love was really about.