Futurama

Fan Fiction

Parallel Lives - A Road Not Taken, part 8
By Graham Dawson

The conference room was as bleak as the rest of the building, deathly quiet and still. In the background the silvery Planet Express ship hung over proceedings with a ghostly presence, adding a strange and almost ethereal feeling to the whole affair. Her ports were dark, inspection ports hung open all over her hull. Phil caught Leela’s eye and tried to encourage her with another smile but the distress she felt at seeing the ship in such an uncared-for condition was obvious and unassailable. He took her to a seat almost opposite Morgan, then sat himself down a neutral distance between the two women and turned to face his wife.

Morgan looked up from a file that lay open on the table and glanced at the guards. “You can go now. Secure the building and then return to the Central Bureaucracy for re-assignment.”

The nearest of the pair nodded and waved at his companion. She picked up a sheet of paper and peered at it as the guards left, then looked into Phil’s eyes and raised an eyebrow. “So. Here we are.”

“Morgan, you can’t hide behind your badge this time,” Phil said. He laid his hands out on the table and leaned toward her just a little, almost pleading but, not quite. “You broke the rules.”

“I followed correct procedures at every step of my interaction with this person.” Morgan leaned forward in her chair and peered over her glasses at Phil with just a hunt of amusement in her eyes. “This is considerably more than I can say for her. And you.”

“I have a name,” Leela muttered. She pointed at Morgan, eye suddenly wide and blazing with anger, and it seemed all that stopped her from launching herself at Morgan was Phil’s presence between them. “You put that block on my license without, uh...”

“An accompanying request for closure,” Phil prompted. He screwed up his eyes at the reflexive reply, knowing that Morgan would see his helping Leela as something akin go high treason. Couldn’t be helped now.

“Right! That thing.” Leela folded her arms and glared at Morgan again. The bureaucrat shook her head as if refusing a challenge and smiled a small, cold smile. She sat back, gave Phil a pointed look and then flipped through the folder before her to a page near the back. She laid her hands on it with an almost reverential air.

“Since you are here I assume you are unaware that the Section Fifteen process I have initiated against this woman can be expanded to include any of her associates.”

“Oh yeah, I know about... wait...” Phil glanced at Leela in confusion, then back at Morgan. “You mean me?

“Naturally, Philip.” Morgan smiled again, yet her eyes were hard as ice as she continued to speak. “You are associating with this woman, are you not?”

“Yes, but that’s in a professional...” Morgan held up her hand and Phil’s voice trailed to silence. He shuffled in his seat, which emitted a lout creak that echoed the near-absolute silence of the hangar. “You can’t be serious! Morgan, what did I do?”

Morgan spread her fingers out on the folder. Her lip twitched, almost, but not quite, forming a smile again and she raised her eyebrow at Phil and very carefully lifted up a sheet of paper. When she spoke, it was with an officious, emotionless air that seemed to chill the very air. “It is enough that you associated with her.”

“Morgan!”

Mister Fry, I assume you are aware of the penalties for fraternising with mutants?”

Phil’s face paled at the mention of the word. “Mutants? I... I don’t know what... ”

Slowly, very slowly, he turned to look at Leela. She was as pale as he, and now blinking back tears as she looked into Phil’s eyes, her mouth slightly open as she choked back a quiet sob. Phil abruptly broke eye contact and looked away. In the cold silence that followed, Morgan smiled her cold smile again and placed her single sheet of paper back on the table’s surface, then took off her glasses and closed her eyes as she pinched the bridge of her nose.

“Philip, I am willing to overlook these indiscretions. I will, as you so creatively put it on several occasions, ‘fudge’ the paperwork, I will even allow you to return to flying those spaceships you are so enamoured with. I have already reactivated your access to the Central Bureaucracy Mainframe as a... a good will gesture.” She returned her glasses to her nose, all business again as she leafed through the papers and settled on a specific form. Morgan lifted up the form, examined it for a moment and the slipped it across the table to Phil. She held out a pen. “All you have to do is sign this.”

Phil picked up the form and read through it with an almost casual air. He laid it back on the table. “Morgan, this... you know what happens to mutants who are caught on the surface. You’re asking me to sign her death sentence.”

“Yes.” Morgan lifted the pen a little closer to Phil and peered at him over the top of her glasses again. “Consider the alternatives, Philip. The law is quite clear.”

Phil took the pen and stared at it for a while, then at Morgan. He read through the form again as he lifted the pen’s lid and laid it on the table, where it rolled onto its side with a quiet click. Phil rested the pen’s nib against the marked spot and pressed down, letting a sliver of ink roll out onto the paper, but then hesitated. “No, I can’t. I won’t.

Leela let out a breath Phil hadn’t even realised she was holding, followed by a quiet sob. He resisted the urge to reach toward her, instead forcing himself to look at Morgan without flinching for perhaps the first time in his life. She blinked at the sudden ferocity of his stare. “It’s you or her, Philip. And us.”

“You know this isn’t right, Morgan.”

“Disobedient boy!” Morgan’s eyes blazed with anger, and something else Phil hadn’t seen for a very long time. He finally looked away across the hangar and took a deep breath to speak when something, a flash of purple beneath the ship, caught his eye. He frowned and then, gathering his wits, quickly looked back at the files.

“Morgan, you don’t have any proof of this.”

“I don’t need proof,” Morgan cried, swiping up the folder. She waved the fluttering papers at Phil, eyes wide with triumph, her teeth bared by a near-feral grin. “I have paperwork!”

Phil slapped his hand against the file and knocked it to the ground, where it landed with a crisp smack. The papers it held exploded out against the tiled floor and then lay still, spread out in disarray on the floor, apart from a single sheet that fluttered in the breeze from an air-conditioning unit. Morgan’s eye twitched, her gaze never leaving Phil’s face. Her lips parted ever so slightly and she let out a breath that might have been a sigh, and still she never took her eyes from his face.

“Paperwork isn’t enough this time.”

“Paperwork is everything!”

Phil’s voice was quiet now as he looked from Morgan to Leela and back again. Morgan finally tore her gaze away from him long enough to look at the scattered papers with a guarded interest. She tilted her head to one side and the other as she examined them on the floor, her eyes twitching back and forth. “I won’t let you bully me into this, Morgan. Not again. You don’t have any proof.”

“Perhaps you are correct, Philip...” Morgan looked up suddenly at the word, another cold smile forming on her lips. She turned her full body toward Phil and leaned forward to rest her elbows on the table, one hand under her chin as she stared at Phil. “Nevertheless, I have all the proof I need.”

Morgan’s eye’s flickered away from Phil toward the far end of the conference area. Her smile broadened a little but, at the same time, Phil could see a little uncertainty cloud her vision. With great care he turned to look toward the far end of the room. “Oh great, another one...”

Evila stood silhouetted in the doorway like a spectre, with only the glow of a cigarette highlighting her face. She turned to look at Phil with a creak of leather and gave him a lascivious smile.

“Hello boys and girls,” Evila said with a broad grin. She took a drag on the cigarette, tossed it aside and posed in the doorway for a moment, then stood upright as she noticed the presence of Leela at the table. “Philip, you have a friend!”

Phil slumped in his seat and sighed. “I’m in some sort of nightmare, right? Normally this would be where my grandmother turns up with a baby she says is mine...”

“No nightmare.” Evila sauntered across the room and dragged her fingers across Phil’s chest as she walked around the table toward Morgan’s seat, almost drawing blood but not quite. Behind Morgan’s chair, she spread her arm across the seat-back and surveyed the table with a lazy smile. Phil frowned at her and ignored the urge to look for the other visiting Leela. He dragged his eyes away from Evila and looked Morgan full in the face.

“This is your proof?”

“My proof,” Morgan confirmed with a careful nod. Phil suddenly realised she was nervous, scared even. He eyed the pistol strapped to Evila’s hip, the anachronistic mechanism a stark reminder that the world he inhabited was not quite his own, even now, even after all this time. Morgan’s eyes kept flicking to the pistol as well, and to him, as if thinking the same thoughts; and she was terrified, behind those calm eyes, of Evila, of Leela... even of him?

“Another me isn’t proof of anything.” Leela gave Evila a dismissive glance. “We’ve already met one today.”

Morgan’s eyes widened in surprise whilst Leela fingered her own hair, twisting a freed lock of it around her fingers as she regarded the other’s onyx locks, her face making it obvious how absurd she found the whole situation. “Black hair is a little cliché don’t you think?”

“It's natural! besides, you've gotta stay in character,” Evila replied with an airy shrug. Leather creaked as she knelt down beside Morgan’s chair, one hand on the back and the other fingering Morgan's arm with a little too much familiarity. “So, Morgan, got what you need yet?”

Morgan looked at Evila as if she hadn’t realised the other woman was there. She shook her head tightly, thrown off balance by Leela’s outburst, and gently drew herself away from Evila’s hand.

“Ah... no, unfortunately not.” Morgan reached toward the form and laid her hand over it as if incanting a blessing, her eyes flicking nervously between Phil and Evila. “Philip, you must sign this form. I have known this woman for far longer than you, she is clearly insane-”

“Thanks!” Evila slipped another cigarette from somewhere within her jacket. “Nice to be noticed,” she added as she flicked open an old-fashioned gas lighter, her eye fixed on Phil. The cigarette flared as she drew down on it, sparking a tiny orange light deep in her pupil. Evila took a deep drag of the cigarette and finally looked away to blow a smoke ring toward the ceiling.

Morgan’s eyes rolled toward Evila and, even through the obvious fear, her contempt was obvious when she continued speaking. “Philip, this is the only way. Sign the form so we can be rid of this... creature.”

Phil stared blankly at the form as Morgan slid it back toward him. He looked aside at the table’s shiny black surface and caught sight of his own reflection, staring back at him; he was terrified. Phil squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath, and when he opened them again he could see Leela’s face beside his own. A sliver of a smile pulled at the corners of his mouth and, very gently, Phil laid his hand on the edge of the form.

“No. I’m sorry, Morgan, but I’m not going to do this.” And then Phil picked up the form and deftly crumpled it into a little ball with one hand. He tossed it on the floor, never taking his eyes off Morgan’s face.

Morgan sucked in a deep breath and swallowed several times before letting it out again as a very slight, shivering groan. “You... you, dirty...”

“Boy?” Phil sat back in his chair. The look on Morgan’s face brought a bemused smile to his own; she stared at him, torn between anger and sheer lust. “I’m not a boy, Morgan. I haven’t been for a very long time.”

Leela looked between them in complete confusion. She shared a glance with Evila and saw she was just as confused; probably the only thing they had in common right at that moment. “I’m completely lost now.”

In the following silence a faint police siren gradually made its presence felt above the distant hum of traffic. Leela’s voice seemed to shock Morgan out of her torpor. She stood up, gathered up the few papers left on the conference table, abruptly turned to Evila and looked up into her face. “Miss Turanga...”

“You called the cops,” Evila muttered. Her hand rested on the butt of that vicious pistol and she stepped back, eye sweeping across the trio. “One of you called the police again, didn't you!”

The pistol came out, swung toward Phil before he could even stand up. The siren grew in the background, filling the silence until Morgan spoke again. She held out her hand toward Evila, placatory, willing. “Miss Turanga, you must remain calm.”

“Calm!” The pistol shivered in her hand as Evila threw a hateful glance at Morgan. She took a step toward Phil, re-sighting the gun on his crotch. “Calm my perky pink ass! Give me the key to the store-room or I will shoot him.”

“You're going to shoot him anyway, though, aren't you.”

Leela stood up and moved the three steps toward Phil's side. He looked at her as she touched his arm and smiled, a little, before turning back to look at Evila. “You want to kill him. I can see it in your face. Why?”

“His hair annoys me,” Evila muttered. The gun lowered a little as she turned to look at Leela and then a smile broke out. “You're like me aren't you! You-”

“No. I'm sane.” Leela took a step toward Evila, who tilted her head to one side and let out a bitter laugh.

“Oh well, it was worth a try. Morgan, the keys.”

Evila held out her free hand toward Proctor and waited. When nothing happened she stole narrow-eyed a glance toward the Morgan, who was staring at Evila in wrought horror, eyes wide and her face pale as the surrounding walls. Morgan shook her head, more of a shiver than a gesture of defiance, and backed up toward her chair.

Morgan...”

“Upstairs!” Morgan collapsed into her chair, any pretence of control finally dropped in the face of her fear. “They're upstairs, in my office, uh... third drawer down on the left in betw-”

“I get it the picture. Well...” Evila thumbed the pistol's hammer back with a loud click and re-aimed the gun at Phil's head. “So long, Fry.”

Morgan gasped and reached out toward Evila's arm. “What are you doing? You told me you just wanted to go home!”

“Quiet! This is what I came here for!” Evila shook Morgan's hand from her arm and pushed her back into the seat. “You spineless, bureaucratic moron, you're the same every time I've met you. If it isn't obvious to you yet, I'm here to kill him.”

“But you said-”

“I don't care what I said! I'm a free spirit, I can say whatever I want!”

“No.” Leela stood in front of Phil and squared her shoulders at Evila. She stared down her meta-sister with surprising ferocity. Surprising for Phil, at any rate.“You're not going to do this. You'll have to shoot me first.”

“Don't think I won't,” Evila said, jerking the gun forward. She glowered at Leela, resolute in her defiance, and at Phil behind her, calmer and more collected than she was used to, but still the same son of a- “Get out of the way! I'll do it, I swear!”

Leela's smile was narrow as she turned her head just far enough to catch Phil's eye, then looked back at her dark mirror, her smile wider at the sight of Evila's obvious discomfort.

“I don't think you will. I know you can't shoot me. You can't kill yourself.”

“You know, I think you're right, sis.” Evila chuckled, then broke out into a harsh laugh as her eye widened with something that looked like untrammelled lust. “But, then, I don't need to, do I? Not this time.”

She turned the gun toward Morgan and pulled the trigger before the bureaucrat could even cry out in shock. Morgan shook from the impact of the bullet as it ripped into her chest just to the left of her sternum. Shivering with pain and shock, she slipped slowly from the chair even as she tried to grasp hold of the table edge, looked over at Phil, tried to speak and then, with a quiet sigh, slumped to the floor.

A prolonged silence followed. Morgan drew a deep, ragged breath and then lay still while a stream of smoke curled from the barrel of the gun. Evila closed her eye and took a deep breath from the gun smoke that swirled around her head.

“Morgan?” Phil choked back a strangled yell, finally spurred into action, and tried to push past Leela. She held her arms around him. “No, let me past! Morgan!

Evila drew a bead on Phil, tightening her grip on the trigger, then suddenly relaxed again and lowered the gun. She looked down at Morgan, then turned her eye toward Phil and Leela, looking at them from beneath her fringe with a wicked smile. “Man... I didn't think I'd find anything more satisfying than just shooting you, Fry but, I gotta say, this was much better. You should see the look on your face...”

“Bitch!”

Evila laughed and backed up toward the exit. She holstered the pistol as the door slid open for her, backed out of the room and paused on the threshold, from where she blew Phil a kiss as the door clunked shut again.

Leela finally let go of Phil as soon as the door sealed. He roughly pushed her out of the way in his haste to get to Morgan. Phil knelt down beside his wife and gently rolled her onto her back. “Morgan, come on honey... come on...”

She was dead. He knew it before he even saw her lifeless eyes, by the way her body slid and crooked over the floor and the way her arm shifted and bent, muscles loose and unresisting. Phil laid a shaking hand against Morgan's cheek, then took her still-warm, bloodied hand and held it to his own. A quiet sob choked in his throat as he touched her face again. He let her hand slip from his grasp and fall gently on her shattered chest.

Leela rested her hand on his shoulder and knelt down beside him. Without thinking he grabbed for her, eyes still fixed on Morgan's face even as he reached out for the only support he had left. She hesitantly put her arm around his shoulders and hushed at Phil as if he were a little child.

Footsteps thumped up the stairs from the hangar, to a background of police cruisers blaring to a halt outside the building. They looked up and saw their doubles, frozen at the head of the stairs, taking in the scene blank-faced. Phil took in a ragged breath and pointed at the far exist.

“She...” was all he managed.

One of the Leela's started to speak. “It'll be...”

Her voice tailed off. Phil didn't care which one it was. He didn't care about anything.






She turned the moment the door thumped into its seal and stormed up the stairs, her breath short from more than mere exertion.

“Exquisite,” she mumbled. Leela stopped on the stairs and pulled out the pistol with a shivery hand. The barrel was still warm and there was a speck of blood on the grip, which matched two more on her fingers. Not his blood this time. He was still whole, and yet she had still destroyed him as effectively as if she'd put a bullet in his brain. “Exquisite...”

The thought that she could so completely destroy Fry without even harming his body was strangely gratifying.

Of course, he'd still have to die.

Leela holstered the gun and patted its grip as she continued to mount the stairs toward Morgan's office. She could deal with Fry once she had the key and a way out of this backwater universe, and then she could deal with the other one too as an added bonus. After that, well, her back was a little stiff, perhaps another visit to that nice universe with the Neptunian slave-girls was in order.

She reached Morgan's office just as the first police cruiser slid to a halt outside the building, its flickering red-and-blue lights casting alternate shadows on the wall of the small room. More cruisers blared in and swung around, forming a cordon across the road and the plaza outside the Planet Express offices. Leela ignored them, intent on the key. They wouldn't be able to stop her, or even find her. She paused at the desk. Which drawer had Proctor said? Third on the right? She opened the drawer and found it empty apart from three neatly aligned pencils.

This is the New New York Police Department, we have you surrounded.”

Leela cocked her head toward the window. It was... what was his name, Smithy or something? They always put him on the loudspeaker for some reason. Maybe he was the only one able to use it.

Send out the unformants one at a time and no harm will come to you. You have ten minutes to comply.”

“Fat chance,” Leela muttered as she pulled the drawers open. Third down on the left? She slid her hand into the drawer and was immediately rewarded with a feeling of cold metal and plastic. She retrieved an old mechanical key. “Looks like I'm not the only one who likes the simple things. Well... liked, I guess.”

A picture of Fry and the bureaucrat stood on the desk, obviously several years old; they looked happy together. Leela picked up the picture and stared at it for a moment, then ran her finger down the image of Fry's face with a faint smile. Then she tossed the picture over her shoulder, drew her pistol and walked to the window.

There were ten or twelve cruisers outside, all with their lights still flashing, with dozens of armoured police milling aimlessly between between them. With deliberate lack of haste Leela drew an aim on the nearest car and let off two shots at the lights, smashing them both and sending the cops diving for cover under their vehicles. She backed away from the window with a satisfied chuckle, content to let the police make a little mess for the others downstairs while she made her escape.

Leela paused and picked up the photo again. The glass was cracked and splintered easily from the frame, leaving a delicate hole over Fry's face.

“Screwing up your life was fun, Fry. You know what? I might even leave you this way.” Leela ran her fingers over the picture. A lazy smile creased her lips as she thought about the new revenge she'd have on Fry, the years of torture that would replace simple death. “It's the least you owe me.”

The picture slipped from her hands again and crunched against the floor. Leela twirled the key around her fingers and started to whistle as she left the office, just as the first badly aimed gas grenade thumped against the wall below the window.

Buddies