History Repeating, Part 6
See part 1 for disclaimers
The shops of Melodious were entirely empty, but every surface shone bright in the sun. To Leela, the collective ambiance was haunting but glossy, like an abandoned shopping complex.
Lisa had no interest in the shops. The little girl, instead, sat by the horn-shaped fountain in the town square, marveling in silence at the world around them.
"Crud," Leela muttered. "None of the shops are open, and the museum is closed..."
"It's all right," Lisa remarked. "We'll just sit down by the fountain for awhile."
This suggestion did anything but please Leela. She sat down next to the girl, for want of anything else to do.
The abandoned world around them seemed to take on a living, breathing form to Leela. Something menacing was in the air; crawling across her neck, like a living caterpillar.
"Fry and Bender should be back very soon. If nothing opens in a..." Leela's voice fell silent as something fell abruptly from the sky into the fountain, rippling the light blue water outward.
Lisa squinted through the blinding sunlight as the object drifted toward them; Leela realized that it was a flower.
"What is it?" she wondered out loud.
"A lily," Lisa noted. She reached into the water, grasping the blossom with her extended fingers.
A buzzing sounded from within the fountain; Leela let her guard down for a millisecond, turned her head to follow the noise...and regretted doing so when Lisa let out a panicked wail.
Leela's hands locked around Lisa's ankles, but the whirlpool developing in the middle of the fountain took them as hostages, its force sending them both swirling toward its middle.
Lisa could hear Leela's shouted instructions to follow the current and keep her head above the water, but she felt herself being sucked downward. There was, maddeningly, no panic in Leela's tone until the rush became so great that she could no longer paddle. Then the world was a garbled shout. Lisa gulped air, feeding her starving lungs as she bobbed among the unforgiving eddies.
For a sickening moment, Leela feared they would crash into the unforgiving-looking saxophone statue. She could faintly make out the sound of gears grinding. Her panic washed away as the centerpiece rose and she and Lisa were sucked downward, under the heavy statue.
"Hold on to me, Lisa!" Leela ordered, and the young girl clamped her arms around the woman's neck as the current swept her by. Then the force of water became too great and Leela let go, sending the women tumbling down a pitch-black tunnel. For miles they seemed to tumble, the rush of air and water blinding. When they landed it was with a thud that sent them to the deathly bliss of unconsciousness, punctuated by the squealing of gears which locked the statue back into its former place.
Bender wanted nothing more than a cool draught of ale to soothe his sizzling circuits, but Fry pressed on.
"It says four and one half sixty-ninth street." He looked up from the package and muttered, "Oh, crud."
"What?" Bender shoved Fry to the side, wanting to know the obstacle before them.
A small village lay at their feet.
Make that ten miles down, and under their feet.
"This doesn't say anything about a cliff!" Fry panicked.
Bender's response was largely filled with expletives, concluding on a lamentable, "How the hell're we gonna get down there?"
Fry sized Bender up, and the robot, as always, thought five steps ahead of his best friend. "Oh no, you ain't gonna turn me into a sled to get down there."
His eyes sparkled, "I was going to say we should test out your boosters, but now that you mention it..."
"Why the hell shouldn't YOU be the sled? Why does it have to be me?"
"Because I'm not made of metal?"
Bender glared viciously at his friend.
"Would you do it for a beer? Two beers?"
His resistence crumbled a little.
"A keg? Two kegs?"
Bender flopped onto the ground, angling his legs upward and keeping his chin off the ground.
"I'm never gonna forget this, Bender."
"Yeah yeah; promise me you'll re-boot my memory after we get down there."
"On the count of three?" Fry asked, pushing Bender toward the cliff's sloping edge.
"One..." Fry shoved his friend over the edge, plopping down on his back as they coasted down the extremity of the incline.
"DAMN YOU FRRYYYYYYY!" screamed Bender, as they dug a path through the rugged earth, plowing inexorably toward their destination.
Lisa awoke to the calming press of a cold cloth to her forehead.
She blinked as water trickled into her eyes, then sputtered as it reached her mouth.
"Hush, child. You need to rest."
Lisa became aware of the flickering torchlight, the sound of someone breathing beside her.
"You don't need to worry, your companion will be fine."
Lisa understood that Leela was all right. That notion gave her peace and respite from fear. There seemed to be no malice in her unseen caretaker; nothing bound her wrists, held her down or back. Grateful for careful attention, she drifted back into the murky blackness of unconsciousness.
Reedily, the voice returned at the edge of her sentience.
"Welcome home, chosen one."