that's how you play the game." Phillip Joshua Fry, pizza
delivery boy extraordinaire, concluded, having just finished a game
of Monkey Fracas Jr. It hadn’t been a particularly successful
game session, as evidenced by the blaring 'Game Over' text which
flickered over the screen. The arcade game which the delivery boy was
using stood against one of the two windows overlooking the outside
street and obscured most of the view with its bulk. This added to the
dismal and somewhat dark atmosphere of the rather small interior of
Panucci's Pizza; not that the atmosphere in the pizzeria was very
appealing to begin with. The walls were painted in a boring and bland
color, the ceiling that once had been white had long since turned
grey and the floor tiles were dirty and worn. In a corner, near the
ceiling, the mortar had cracked, revealing the bricks underneath. The
hideously green lattice screen that lined the back wall was made from
cheap and unconvincing plastic. The only table in the pizzeria was
placed against the back wall. It had an old, worn white and red cloth
that hadn't been washed for years, as evidenced by the numerous
stains and deep-seated filth. All In all it was a boring and not very
pleasing place for anyone, staff and costumer alike.
next to Fry was a young, blond haired boy who lived in the
neighborhood and usually hung around the pizza parlor. He was the one
the delivery boy had addressed. The young man was not impressed by
the less than stellar performance of Fry's gaming skills.
stink, loser!" He retorted in a manner typical for a boy of his
age. Fry stared nonplussed at the young man, with a surprised
expression painted on his face. He’d thought that his
explanation of the game would have at least been appreciated. Fry was
very enthusiastic about video games. The bright lights, the synthetic
sound effects and music… It was enough to occupy his attention
for hours at end, as long he didn't run out of quarters. It was an
excitement that he readily shared with just about anybody who cared
long enough to listen.
hands rested on the controls as his mind slowly digested the young
boy's colorful candor but before he could come up with a suitable
reply, his boss, Mr. Panucci, intervened. "Fry! Pizza going out!
Come on!" The fat, bald-headed man yelled at him with
considerable irritation. He was frustrated that his delivery boy was
wasting time playing on the arcade machine. Mr. Panucci had gotten
Monkey Fracas Jr. for the sole purpose of stripping costumers of
their loose change, not for his delivery boy to waste time with.
Especially when there were pizzas to deliver and money to make.
glanced at the clock on the wall. Twenty-five minutes remained before
midnight and a New Year, yet here he was, stuck at his dead-end job,
working on New Year’s Eve when he should be with his
girlfriend. Preferably at a party or down at Times Square watching
the New Year Ball drop. Fry turned to the counter and the pizza box,
where his belligerent boss had thrown it. He let out a deep sigh and
bowed his head. Why
do I put up with this? He
pondered to himself, though he all-too-well knew the answer to that
particular question. Reluctantly Fry took the pizza and the six-pack
of beer, and gave the hastily scribbled address note a cursory glance
before he headed out into the New York night.
last, cold, December night of the year, the streets of New York was
teeming with people. Everywhere there was shouting, singing, music
and car horns blaring, all of it mixing into a strange, pulsating
potpourri of sounds, serving as a background for the euphoria that
had gripped the inhabitants, who were doing their best to give the
last few hours left of the millennium a good and noisy farewell.
his bicycle through the throng of traffic and people wasn't easy for
the delivery boy. A familiar building caught Fry's eye and a wry
smile flickered across his face; I'll
just use my usual night time shortcut.
Mr. Larsen's dog
won't be out this late!
He swung down a narrow and poorly lit alley which began just before
the building he had recognized. It was pleasantly clear of traffic
and people, though he had to keep clear of dumpsters and garbage cans
that littered the alley instead. The delivery boy had used this way
before, but a man who lived in one of the adjacent apartments had a
very vicious dog that chased him down if he was to try and pass
during the day.
by any vicious, delivery boy-eating animals, Fry increased his speed,
tramping harder and harder on the bicycle pedals. He could feel his
blood rush through his body, the wind wisped in his face and played
with his hair. Fry enjoyed the exhilaration brought by the speed,
evident from his gleaming eyes and the big grin on his face. Warp
speed, Mr. Sulu. He
mused while squinting his eyes; it made the sparse light in the alley
look just like the stars did in Star Trek when Enterprise jumped to
of Star Trek and TV in general made Fry remember what his girlfriend,
Michelle, the brunette that he had been together with for some time
now, had said when they had shared the couch in front of the TV last
night in her apartment. “You
should try to do better, Fry.”
She had said. He hadn’t really understood what she really had
meant by that, but he had readily agreed, as he always did. “Instead
of wasting your life in that... greasy
She had continued
with distaste in her voice and an equally displeased demeanor.
wonder what she has against it? It's just a temp...
Fry silently wondered to himself as he neared the end of the alley.
He could see the street looming just up ahead. The moment he left the
dark and narrow alley he caught a glimpse of someone familiar in the
backseat of a yellow New York cab which came to a stop at a traffic
light. For a second he stared at the backseat of the car in front of
him, dumbfounded at what he saw.
was none other than Michelle, his girlfriend. What
is she doing? And who's that guy? Were
the thoughts that went through his mind as he gazed up at the couple.
His attention was, after the initial surprise, focused on the fact
that the blond guy seated next to Michelle had his arm around her,
something the she hadn't let Fry do the last night when they had
watched TV together. Come to think of it, Fry couldn't really
remember when the last time was he had been allowed to put his arm
baby, where you going?" His voice giving words to what his face
already had revealed; utter confusion.
with dark brown hair froze briefly upon hearing the familiar voice,
she turned her head and stared back at the red headed man through the
open car door window, Michelle's face betrayed her surprise and guilt
in equal measures. The brunette had not anticipated meeting him
anytime soon. The awkward seconds dragged on into what seemed an
eternity for Michelle. She’d really hoped to avoid her
not working out Fry." She blurted in a desperate bid to say
anything. Then, to her relief, the traffic light turned green and the
cab driver released the brake and hit the accelerator. As Fry
disappeared from her view, Michelle remembered the boxes with his
meager belongings that she had left outside her residence moments
before Charles, the blond man by her side, had shown up for their New
Years Eve date. "I put your stuff out on the sidewalk!" She
yelled as a parting call while the cab pulled away.
stood for a moment, bewildered about what had just happened. She
dumped me? Just like that? On New Years Eve? Why?
Question after question raged through his mind, he suddenly felt both
empty and alone, as he just stood there, unmoving, still sitting on
his bicycle, staring at the red tail lights of the cab that was
slowly disappearing into the depths of the bustling city.
been just yesterday that she had agreed to his idea to come down to
Panucci’s with a bottle of champagne so they could toast the
New Year together. Michelle hadn't given any indication at that point
that she was about to leave him for another guy.
mind a pandemonium of conflicting emotions, the delivery boy tore his
eyes from the vanishing cab and pulled himself together. He still had
a delivery to perform. Fry soldiered on through the New York night,
his shoulders slumped and his face bearing every signs of depression.
"I hate my life, I hate my life, I hate my life." Fry
muttered angrily to himself. A
crappy job, working on New Year’s Eve and now this!?
He glumly thought as he weaved his way through the crowded streets.
reaching his destination, Fry parked his bicycle and dutifully locked
it with the sturdy bicycle chain he had hanging around his neck. With
his mind filled with doom and gloom, Fry failed to notice a rather
shady character that snuck up to the newspaper box where he had
parked and locked his bicycle. With a swift movement the man cut the
bicycle chain open, mounted Fry's Schwinn and, with a mocking "Happy
New Year", complete with sarcastic hand wave, the thief
disappeared into the night with Fry's bicycle.
delivery boy rode the elevator to the sixty fourth floor in brooding
silence, idly scratching his butt just as the elevator reached its
destination and the doors parted, revealing a dull, monotone
corridor. He found the appropriated address, pushed the door open
with his back and entered the semi-dark room.
around the large cryogenics lab he looked confusedly about himself.
The room was dark and there was no one there. Briefly he stopped in
front of one of the cryogenic chambers to wipe condensation from the
glass-covered lid before calling out: “Hellooo? Pizza delivery
for, uh,” he looked down on the piece of paper where the name
of the caller had been scribbled, ”I.C Wiener? Aw, crud, I
always thought at this point in my life I'd be the one making the
crank calls.” He said with ill masked annoyance in his voice.
the pizza box onto the only desk in the room, took a beer can from
the six pack, and sat down on the single chair in front of the desk.
The delivery boy leaned back in the chair and. after having opened
the beer can, he raised it in a mock toast. "Here's to another
lousy millennium.” He proclaimed with tired resentment.
eagerly anticipated midnight hour, Fry fished out a party blower,
which he’d found during a delivery earlier that evening, from
his jacket pocket and, just as the clock struck twelve, he made good
use of it. Unfortunately he overdid it and the party blower recoiled
back in his face. The light slap didn't hurt him, but it did surprise
him, which wouldn't have been a problem save for one minor detail: he
was still balancing the chair on two legs. This coupled with surprise
from the back snapping party blower sent him off balance.
expression of alarm, the delivery boy windmilled his arms in a
desperate attempt to stay upright, and for a moment it seemed like he
would succeed in doing so, but then the chair toppled over and sent
Fry tumbling backwards into the closed door of the cryo chamber
skull connected with the unyielding metal frame of the pod door the
world disappeared into a mass of darkness as he slumped unconscious
the floor. The beer can escaped his loose grasp and landed on the
side, spilling its contents, which ran out on the floor and formed an
uneven, fizzling puddle which was slowly soaked up by the cotton
fabric of his jeans.
New York, January 1st, 2000
was miserable. He was thinking about what had happened after his
brief run-in with Michelle, his mind wandered back to lab which had
been the destination of his eventful delivery. Fry groaned to
himself, and his right hand sought the rather large bump on his head.
His headache was almost gone, but touching the bump still hurt. Why
didn't I leave that stupid party blower floating in the toilet where
I found it?
hadn't been very pleasant; it had been almost dawn before the
delivery boy had finally regained consciousness. Lying in a pool of
spilled beer, his jeans had been drenched with the stale beverage and
his head had felt like it was about to explode. The rather foul smell
of the beer hadn't helped his abused head either.
leaving the tall building where the cryogenics lab was situated he
had found that his bicycle was nowhere to be seen; the only thing
that remained in the spot by the newspaper box where he had parked
his trusty bicycle was his bicycle chain; cut open.
hapless delivery boy's attempts at getting a cab had failed; no one
seemed interested in stopping, and the one who did had smelt the
beer, called him a drunk, and told him to get lost. It had been a
long and cold walk back to the pizzeria, much thanks to his wet jeans
clinging to his legs. He’d made a detour to Michelle's
apartment in the hopes of getting his hands on clean clothes, or at
least tried to. It had not been until he had arrived at the apartment
complex and saw three lone boxes standing in the entrance of the
lobby that it actually had dawned upon him Michelle really had dumped
knowing what to do or how to take the bulky boxes with him, Fry had
sat down beside them and promptly fell asleep on the stone tiled
floor of the lobby. He was awakened hours later, stiff and bleary
eyed, by a resident of the apartment building arriving in a taxi.
Seizing the moment, Fry had managed to persuade the taxi driver to
take him and his boxes to the pizzeria. The cab driver had agreed;
the foul smell of beer had started to fade as Fry's pants had begun
arrived back at the pizza place just in time for Panucci to open it
for business. Fry had tried to get the day off but Panucci wouldn't
have it, despite the fact that Fry had usually gotten the holiday off
in the past. Normally he spent New Year’s Day with his parents
and together with them, and his brother, had the traditional baloney
brunch. Mr. Panucci had wavered his day off this New Year’s Day
by pointing out that it was a new millennium and that people would
throng to his pizzeria for his millennium special that contained two
thousand types of meat.
So here he
was, at his dead end job with no girlfriend, no bike, nowhere to live
and all of his belongings in a handful of boxes nestled among the
stacks of pizza ingredients in the food storage locker.
idly kneading pizza dough, Fry sighed to himself. Back
to Crazy Ivan and his cheap apartments it is.
And Fry knew that for the Russian, cheap meant poorly maintained. "It
cheap. And cockroaches free"
as the bearded, potbellied Russian used to say. Fry knew that his dad
would have a fit if he were to find out that his son lived in an
apartment owned by a Russian. Yancy senior wasn’t particularly
tolerant of Russian 'Commie Bastards’, as he usually referred
day slowly rolled by outside the pizzeria. A new day and a new year,
supposedly full with new opportunities in the metropolitan city. Fry
felt strangely empty and lifeless as he stared out the dirty window,
leaning on the counter by the cash register, waiting for new
costumers. So this
is the new millennium? Where's all the flying cars, robots and
starships? He let
yet out another resentful sigh and slumped over the counter with his
arms hanging from the edge, letting his forehead rest on the dirty
and marred plastic surface. And
where are the hot alien babes in skimpy space outfits? His
train of thought continued gloomily. Somehow he felt out of place,
like he was living a life in which he didn't belong. A movement in
the corner of his eye caught his attention. Turning his head he saw,
through the window, a laughing couple that walked by the Pizzeria on
the sidewalk. Just what he needed, another reminder that he, yet
again, was alone.
slowly set over New York as yet another cold night swept its shroud
over the city. After what felt like a workday with no end, Fry found
himself on the curb outside the pizzeria, his jacket buttoned up and
with a scarf around his neck to fend of the cold. His few belongings
stood on guard beside him inside the three boxes.
never be able to get to Crazy Ivan’s apartment building with
those boxes on his own, Fry had come to the conclusion that he had to
take a cab. Hailing down one of the famous yellow New York cabs could
sometimes take some work, especially on a cold night. The delivery
boy managed to get one to stop on his third attempt. Struggling with
loading his boxes into the taxi, the driver seemed oblivious to the
delivery boy's trouble.
little help, please?" Fry begged as he caught the taxi driver’s
eye in the rear view mirror while he was trying to push the boxes
inside the taxi.
You's hafta pay extra fo dat." The reply came in a bored tone,
almost as though the driver was ordering a side of bacon and hash
browns at a diner. Judging from his greasy looks it was not an
impossible thing to imagine that he usually did.
grunt, Fry managed to push the last, troubling box inside the car and
gave the address for the apartment building. The cabdriver shifted
his massive body in the driver’s seat and worked the gas pedal,
accelerating the cab into the increasing traffic.
was short and rather uneventful, if by uneventful one meant riding in
a car driven by someone who apparently only knows how to drive full
throttle, run every traffic light regardless of the color, and all
the while mutter curses at other drivers. Fry was more than glad when
they arrived at his destination and he could pick himself up from the
car floor where the violent car ride had landed him.
himself and the boxes from the cab proved as difficult as it had been
loading them into the car in the first place, and of course the
driver, showed the same disinterest in helping Fry with his boxes as
the last time. The delivery boy managed in the end and proceeded to
pay for the fare. He was relieved when he saw the cab drive away. It
served as a reminder of why he never wanted to drive in New York
traffic, let alone get a car of his own. Not that he actually could
afford one, but still.
apartment building owned by Crazy Ivan was an old and dismal building
that did nothing to encourage people inside. It was a five story
brick structure and it was evident from the outside that it was
poorly maintained. The facade was dirty and cracked, and most of the
windows were equally dirty and lacked windowsills. Despite this, and
eager to leave the damp and chilly night, Fry hurried to move his
boxes, one by one, inside.
in the poorly lit foyer beside the boxes, Fry took in the atmosphere.
Just as I remember,
it smells like my dad’s basement. There
were only a handful of lights mounted on the walls and fewer still
that worked. Those that did work gave off a yellow, flickering light
which tried hard to scatter the deep shadows that lurked in the
lobby, something they weren't very successful at. There was a slight
chill in the lobby even as the hissing radiators were trying hard to
disperse the creeping cold from the New York night.
floor and wall tiling suggested a more glorious past but what now
remained was cracked, worn and exceedingly dirty. There was what had
used to be a red mat that ran from the front door, past the elevator,
which was out of order and as far as Fry knew, always had been out of
order, to the front desk and the mailboxes residing there.
desk was as worn and mistreated as the rest of the building, and
probably as old as the rest of the building seeing as it was made out
of marble and some sort of expensive wood that Fry couldn't identify.
The only proper light in the foyer came from a single table lamp that
stood alone on the counter beside a crudely written sign, made out of
cardboard that said 'No Credit'. Emanating from behind the desk came
the tell tale flickering light from a TV accompanied by muted sound.
his way to the desk and peered cautiously over the counter, a bit
weary of what to expect. There was a man seated in an old armchair in
front of an equally old and shabby TV set. He was short, potbellied
and dressed in an extremely dirty t-shirt of indeterminable color. He
had no trousers on, only a pair of stained briefs. His face was
hidden behind a large, messy, black beard. His black hair flowed in
the same messy manner and merged with his facial hair. There was a
large nose that stood out from the face, giving the impression of a
mouse peaking through a bush. This was Vladimir "Crazy Ivan"
Vasiliev, former Russian national and now the proprietary owner of
the Red Star apartment building. Next to the TV stood a half empty
vodka bottle, and a cigarette, half way burnt, lingered in a nearby
ashtray, sending thin pillar of smoke towards the dark ceiling.
uneasy, Fry coughed gently.
Russian spun his head towards Fry and his left hand disappeared under
the desk with a swift movement. It came back empty when the Russian
saw who was standing over him. The red head knew from past experience
that Crazy Ivan had a shotgun underneath the desk. When asking why
Crazy Ivan had a shotgun he had simply shrugged and said "Rat
troubles" in his distinct Russian accent.
The semi-intoxicated Russian screamed as he jumped to his feet and
hobbled around the counter on his short legs. Crazy Ivan held out his
arms and smiled a nicotine stained smile at the delivery boy. "Number
one customer is back!" He continued as he grabbed Fry in a
tight, back-crushing hug. The stench of cheap vodka, old fish, and
cigarette smoke was overwhelming, the read head gasped for air and
his eyes started to water. The Russian misinterpreted Fry's tears.
now, you no go soft on old Vasiliev. Be a man!" Vasiliev said
and held Fry at arm’s length, the delivery boy felt that arms
length was not nearly far away enough to escape the nauseating fumes
that Vasiliev's body emitted. "I get you best apartment, number
11, plenty of room. But first, money." Crazy Ivan rubbed his
right hand fingers against his thumb in the universal symbol denoting
the want of money.
A pile of
crumbled and worn one, five, ten and twenty dollar bills soon formed
on the counter along with a couple of fists of nickels, dimes and
quarters. The pile represented what Fry had managed to scrape
together from going through all his belongings, pockets and wallet.
good, good. This will cover first month of rent." The Russian
said and unceremoniously scraped the money into his large fist and
dumped it all into a box which he locked inside a small safe which
stood underneath the desk. "Here is key." He said and
tossed a pair of worn keys with a wooden tag that simply stated 11.
arduous trips to the third floor and back to the lobby by the means
of the poorly lit and semi broken stairwell, the out of breath
delivery boy dumped the last of the three boxes in front of a worn
door with the number eleven roughly painted on it. Fry leaned on the
nearby wall, trying to catch his breath. The delivery boy blinked
hard a couple of times in an attempt to get his vision to stop being
blurry. I haven't
worked this hard since I had PE in high school. He
His arms felt like
they were made from rubber. With some effort he managed to retrieve
the door keys from his jacket and with trembling hands opened the
apartment was a dump. Brown wallpaper printed with a hideous, faded
pattern was slowly crumbling from the walls, the carpet was a strange
shade of green that Fry wasn't sure if it was supposed have or if it
was mold. The once white ceiling had several yellow spots and
discolorations from water damage. The pale blue shades that hung in
the windows were torn and full of holes. A strange smell lingered in
the air. "Nothing some air freshener won't fix." He
muttered to himself.
apartment consisted of one living room, a small kitchen area adjacent
to the living room, a bathroom and two small bedrooms. Crazy Ivan
rented out his apartments furnished, and in this case it meant as few
and badly maintained articles of furniture as possible. The ensemble
of furniture in Fry's apartment was a small one; in each bedroom
there was a single rickety iron bed complete with a rather disgusting
mattress, a wooden chair and a small wardrobe. There was a small,
worn and cracked wooden table with a green colored sofa which looked
surprisingly fresh and a TV set in the living room. The TV was bolted
to a small table which in turn was nailed to the floor. A wooden
stool and a small table occupied part of the kitchen area.
glanced at the TV. It was tempting to just slide into the couch and
spend the rest of the night watching shows of the world's blankiest
blank variety but he was tired from the last twenty four hours
strange adventures. With a yawn and a stretch he made for the nearest
bedroom. A quick glance inside revealed that the bedroom was in no
better shape than the rest of the cramped apartment as well, as it
shared the same hideous wallpaper and carpet. On a positive note, the
window was not broken and there was no immediate evidence of any pest
in the form of cockroaches, rats or pigeons.
delivery boy took off his red jacket and threw it with his right hand
on the wooden chair that stood in the corner of the bedroom. It
immediately collapsed as it couldn't support anything heavier than
air. Ignoring the broken down chair Fry threw himself on the naked
mattress which protested at the sudden weight forced upon it. Fry
could feel the lumps and there was a strange smell to it. Maybe
I should get an extra air freshener for the bedroom.
Fry pondered as he closed his eyes and tried to drift off to sleep.
Yet he really couldn't become comfortable. Perhaps it was the smelly
and uneven mattress that kept him awake or perhaps it was the
constant replay of what had happened the last twenty four hours that
kept hammering home what a loser he was?
felt he needed to think of something else, and lying on his back
staring in the stained and cracked ceiling wasn't going to allow it.
an arcade still open somewhere.
Determined to find out, Fry grabbed his jacket from the floor, shook
the piece of what used to be a wooden chair from it, took his keys
and navigated the narrow and broken stairway to the street.
randomly through sparsely populated streets he soon found himself
near an open lot where there was construction work going on. The area
was lit by two large floodlights from opposite corners of the square
construction site. Fry couldn't really tell what was being built,
other than that it seemed to be a foundation for a large structure.
Littered around the concrete clad foundation were- at least, as far
as he could discern in the pale semi light- the usual objects found
at a construction site. Pipes, steel beams, piles of lumber, spools
of wire and oddly shape objects hidden under tarp was strewn at
random around the shallow hole where the foundation resided.
among the building materials where the usual assortments of heavy
tools and machinery; a backhoe stood not far from the entrance, and
the sharp shadows it cast made it look like a mechanical beast of
some sort. Like an ancient predator, lurking for smaller prey it
stood silently with its arm lifted like it was ready to strike. At
least that was the way it looked to someone with a pop culture
riddled mind like Fry's.
cement mixer there was a pile of pipes stacked in such a way that it
would make an excellent seat. Feeling a bit weary from all his
walking, Fry decided that he needed a break. The delivery boy sat
down on them, despite the uneven and cold surface. Having sat down on
the pipes Fry glanced at the heavy duty cement mixer and noticed that
it was a Belle Group brand mixer, the same brand his dad had used to
reinforce the basement to better serve as a fallout shelter.
there, he rested his head in his hands and glanced up at the blinking
stars. Will I ever
become an astronaut and go to the moon? Fry
wondered and sighed to himself; he’d always really thought that
he would be doing something else by now other than delivering pizzas.
thoughts were suddenly disturbed by a shimmering light. Suspended a
couple of feet above the ground, not far from where he was sitting,
was a small orb of yellow light, barely visible in the harsh, naked
white floodlight. Small arcs of lightning forked from it in random
ways. Fry sat absolutely still, at first puzzled and somewhat
mesmerized by the strange phenomenon. Then as the orb suddenly grew
much larger and the small arcs of lightning turned into large
sizzling, jagged knives that kicked up small craters in the hard
ground upon impact, the delivery boy decided that a hasty retreat was
in order and dived with a fearful yelp behind a row of porta-potties
that stood nearby. Peeking out from his somewhat smelly hideout Fry
continued to watch the frightening display of fiery pyrotechnics.
pulsating orb disappeared with a sharp flash that almost blinded the
red headed observer. In the same instant, something black and purple
materialized and hung suspended in mid-air for a fraction of a second
before promptly falling to the ground with a grunting protest. Fry
rubbed his eyes after the sharp light had destroyed what little night
vision he’d had. Slowly readjusting to the semi-light in the
construction yard, Fry saw that the black and purple object that had
mysteriously appeared was, at least if the shapely body form was
anything to go by; a woman. A woman who was dressed in black clothing
with grey boots and sporting a purple pony tail.
delivery boy's interest was now piqued, and his fear, for the moment,
was gone. The purple haired woman still had her back to him as she
tried to pick herself up from the ground. She let out a soft moan
while trying to sit up, and held her hands to her head. She
looks like she could use some help.
Fry concluded. A bit indecisive, he left his hideout and approached
the purple haired woman who had appeared out of thin air.
are... are you okay?" He inquired at, what he hoped, was a safe
distance. To his surprise, the woman jumped to her feet with
surprising speed when she heard his voice. The woman then spun around
towards him and positioned herself in some sort of martial arts
position. But it was not the risk of violence against his persona
that made Fry gasp and slightly recoil with raised arms; it was the
fact that the woman before him had only one big eye. The delivery
boy's reaction upon seeing her face made the cyclops before him
frown, though Fry didn't notice the face of disapproval that he was
with the eye?" He blurted while still gawking at the cyclops
before him, both flabbergasted and intrigued at the same time. If
Fry's comment was meant as a question it was not taken as such by
Leela. His comment about her eye had touched a raw nerve. Her eye
turned into a narrow slit and her brow furrowed deep down.
dark outside and she thought she was standing in some sort of
primitive playground, thought it was hard to tell. There appeared to
be no-one else around but this… man, if he could be called
an alien, okay?" The purple haired cyclops responded somewhat
always the same with these people from the stupid ages.
The first thing they
always have to ask about is my eye. Before
Leela had any chance to further reflect on the reaction her one eye
got her Fry continued.
A real live alien!" He exploded, his face lighting up in an
ecstatic smile. For Fry this was the most amazing thing that had
happened to him since his first girlfriend in high school. After all,
this was something that he had dreamed about since he was six. "Can
I see your spaceship?"
was slightly taken aback. Though she’d gathered some experience
dealing with people from the Stupid Ages during her long years as a
Cryogenic Councilor, most of that knowledge had been gathered in the
comfort of her own office. This was different. The man before her
enough, but she had never anticipated this reaction. A bit weary,
Leela decided to ask the overly enthusiastic red head in front of her
where she was. "Look, I'm from the future and I would like to
know where I am."
I can see your ship, right?" Fry pressed on with an eager smile
on his face, his whole body posture revealing just how excited he
said, I’m from the FUTURE! I don't have
a ship." The cyclops snapped back. Leela was beginning to become
frustrated. If the stupidity level of the current conversation didn’t
decrease dramatically- and soon- she was going to end up with a
Was Fry's disappointed reply. Then his sluggish brain digested the
rest of what she’d said. "Cool, an alien from the future!"
for heaven’s gate..." Leela sighed as she buried her face
in her left hand, her elbow supported by her right. Leela's stance
was now much more neutral. She’d long since determined that the
idiot in front of her wasn’t a threat, at least physically. Her
patience, however, was in danger of being entirely overwhelmed.
the rambling red head she couldn't shake the feeling that there was
something oddly familiar about him. Leela closed her eye and shook
her head; she still had a lingering headache from last night, and the
time traveling she’d just experience hadn’t been
particularly helpful. She pushed her musings aside to concentrate on
the situation at hand.
um... what's your name, by the way?"
second Fry stared at Leela, nonplussed. He’d been so excited
over having met an alien that he’d entirely forgotten
everything about himself. "I...uhh.. Fry?" He managed to
produce after waiting for the right neurons to fire and connect to
the proper synapses in his brain.
Fry, I just want to know where I am."
face full of concentration Fry started to use his brain- a practice
that he usually avoided since it hurt too much- while using his
fingers as a thinking aid. "It was New Year’s yesterday
and it's the year 2000 now, so that will be... um.. New York, the
year 2000?" He said while ticking off each statement on his
gotten her here wouldn't be able to get her back, but there was
another way to her home. Something that she was intimately familiar
listen, this is important. Do you know where there’s a
cryogenic laboratory? A place where there are frozen people?"
Leela addressed the delivery boy with an intent expression.
I do; I was there yesterday delivering a pizza." Fry answered
with a light shrug of his shoulders.
you did what?” Leela stared at the redhead. This sounded just
too good to be true. “You really know where it is?!” She
continued with disbelief. This, Fry character hadn’t come off
as the sharpest laser cutter in the tool box.
delivery boy looked slightly offended of Leela’s apparent lack
of trust. “Of course I do! I’m not an ingr…
inger... ignr… dumb.”
you take me there?" The cyclops asked eagerly, her voice now
tense, her hands clasped together.
Leela waited patiently for Fry to do something but the young man just
stood there looking at her with an empty expression on his face.
are you waiting for?" Leela wondered, irritated.
transporter beam. You do
have a transporter beam, right? You know, ba-zoom! Swish!" Fry
illustrated his sound effects with suitable arm movements.
sighed. "No, I don't have a 'transporter beam'."
oh, I know! A flying scooter?"
I do NOT have a flying scooter! Can you just please take me to the
disappointed, Fry just nodded in agreement and started to walk back
towards the street when suddenly Leela grabbed his arm. "Wait! I
can't go like this."
at me." Leela said and held her hands towards her face. "See?"
furrowed his brows and look intently at Leela's face with a pensive
expression on his face while he stroked his right hand absently over
his stubbled chin. Leela just stared at him. Is
he really this dense!?
The purple haired woman asked with considerable annoyance; arms now
folded over her chest in her typical and telltale mark that she was
irritated. I'm going
to have another headache before this is over.
'unno?" Fry said and shrugged.
eye!" Came the exasperated
that. Was Fry's slow reply. "What about it?"
you ever seen anyone like me roaming the streets? Have you?"
Leela asked Fry dryly.
that you mention it, I don’t really think I have... though
there was this one guy..."
couldn't believe that the situation she was in could become more
surreal. For a moment she was expecting to wake up back in her
office. I should
have stayed in bed.
"Can't you just get me a disguise? Something that will cover my
eye?" Leela cut Fry off with her question.
I can! Wait here!"
the purple haired woman standing alone in the naked light from the
floodlights, Fry ran to the edge of the construction site and looked
up and down the street. There was no traffic and no-one else in sight
at the moment. Just across the street was a liquor store that was
delivery boy ran across the street and, upon entering the store he
saw something lying on the counter that he immediately recognized as
a suitable disguise: brown paper bags. He had used them himself when
he had made his own Halloween costume years ago. Behind the counter
was an elderly man with a receding hairline and reading glasses. He
was busy reading a glossy magazine and only recognized Fry presence
with a quick glance.
I get a paper bag?" The delivery boy asked the man and pointed
at the pile.
intend to buy anything?" Came the answer from the man, who
didn't even bother to look up from his magazine when answering the
no? I just wanted a paper bag."
man licked a finger and turned a page. "Buy something and you'll
get a bag."
around in semi-desperation trying to find something that he could
buy. "I'll take this!" He said and held up a packet of beef
jerky he had found in a bin just beside the doorway. The man behind
the counter let out a tired sigh, threw the magazine on the counter
and punched ceremoniously the proper amount for the beef jerky into
the old cash register. He then leaned on the counter, looked intently
over the rim of his reading glasses at Fry and said. "Will that
and the paper bag." The delivery boy said while concentrating on
counting coins that he was fishing from his jeans pockets together
with some lint and an empty candy wrapper.
took the beef jerky and threw it into the paper bag, and then scraped
Fry's pile of coins into his fist while the delivery boy made his way
back onto the street. The redhead paused briefly in the doorway and
opened the package of jerky. He’d just realized that he was
hungry and proceeded to take a big bite from it.
second Fry just stood there outside the store, idly chewing his jerky
and trying to remember what he was supposed to be doing when he noted
that there was a police cruiser sitting empty on the other side of
the street next to the construction site. The delivery boy looked
curiously at the police vehicle and was about to move towards it when
a heavy hand fell on his shoulder. "Buddy, do you live here?"
The voice was polite but stern. The delivery boy almost jumped out of
his shoes in sheer fright from the unexpected accosting.
who had addressed him was a tall police officer dressed in the
typical dark blue police uniform of the city. The policeman looked
quizzically at Fry who was now doubling over, coughing as choked on
the piece of jerky that he’d been chewing.
no, I don't live here." The delivery boy managed to press out
between his coughs.
We got a couple of calls about a strange light from the construction
yard over there and my partner and I didn't see anything, so I was
wondering if you’ve noticed anything suspicious?"
officer, I haven't seen a thing." Fry wheezed after finally
managing to swallow the jerky.
Well, then. Goodnight. Call the precinct right away if you see
anything" the representative of New York’s finest offered,
now uninterested in the delivery boy.
watched the police officer continue inside the liquor store,
presumably with the intent of asking the elderly man inside the same
question that he had asked Fry. As soon as the cop had left strange
hissing noises started coming from a nearby alley. It almost sounded
as if someone was trying to attract his attention. Curious, Fry moved
towards the sound. Upon reaching the dark alley he peered inside and
was in the same moment forcefully yanked from the curb and pinned
against a nearby wall. It took a couple of seconds before he could
discern who his assailant was; the purple haired cyclops. She looked
angry for some reason.
it's you... Alien-woman from the future." Fry noted, happy to
see her, thought her iron grip on his jacket and the steady pressure
against the uneven brick wall which was digging painfully into his
back was a bit unsettling. Her face was very close to his and Fry
found himself staring into a very big and angry eye.
name's Leela, and where the hell did you go? Did you call the police?
Are you trying to set me up?" Leela asked him with an ominous
tone of voice.
I got you a disguise." He offered with a nervous smile as a
reply to Leela's barrage of questions. He held up the wrinkled paper
bag. The cyclops glanced at the paper bag before she let go off him
and took it from Fry's extended hand. She was about to berate him for
not coming up with something better, but the miserable look on Fry's
face made her think of Mr Tappers, the kitten she had nursed back to
health when she still had been an orphan at the Cookieville Minimum
sigh Leela pulled herself together and turned her attention back to
the disguise. It could work, but she needed to cut at least two holes
in it. Luckily, she had just the right tool for the job. Dialing up
the proper settings of her wrist computer laser, Leela set it on low
power to burn a hole in the bag for her eye and for her ponytail. Fry
stared with eyes that threatened to pop out of his eye sockets at
Leela’s laser beam. “Coooool! Is that your laser? Do you
use it to kill aliens?”
minute, Leela just stared at the overexcited Fry. This kid from the
Stupid Ages and his bubbling enthusiasm were really trying her
patience. It was becoming a struggle to refrain from resorting to
physical violence in order to further discourage anymore questions
from the delivery boy.
the cyclops opted for the more rational approach, she simply ignored
the question and promptly pulled the bag over her head and grabbed
Fry's right arm with one hand while she held the paper bag in place
against any sudden wind gusts with the other. She wasn’t that
keen on touching the deliver boy but she needed a guide since her
vision from inside the paper bag wasn’t particularly good.
delivery boy led the way through the less populated streets of New
York, he continued to badger Leela about her and the future, despite
her earlier attempts at ignoring his questions.
an alien, right? Has your species conquered the planet in the
future?" The delivery boy asked, still a bit elated over walking
down the streets of New York with- well, technically it was more like
being dragged by- a female alien.
I just work there." Was Leela's tired answer.
you have a space ship? Are you a part of some sort of intergalactic
space force that flies around in space and explores and fights evil
space monsters and stuff?" The redhead wondered, his mind filled
with science fiction series.
Her tone was flat; she really wished that he would stop asking so
many questions. Doesn't
he ever stop?
there are robots in the future, right? Do you have one?"
I see your time travel thingy? It's that thing on your wrist that
shoots lasers, right?" Undaunted by the short answers Fry
face was showing her irritation over all the questions, unfortunately
for Fry it was hidden under a bag. "No."
are we going to the cryo.. grygen... the lab anyway? Are you here to
change the past so the future won’t be ruled by killer robots?"
Came the now half enraged answer and Fry could feel that the grip
which Leela had on him had tightened during the last minutes and was
now actually starting to feel painful.
She growled, feeling her patience wearing thin.
could you loosen your grip?" Why
does she have to hold so hard? He
silently wondered to himself. I
bet she could crush stones with her bare hands.
Leela grudgingly loosened her iron grip the two of them- both lost in
thought- continued the rest of their walk in silence. Fry was still
elated over being near a real alien, thought she seemed a bit harsh.
He presumed that it was a trait of her species. He would love to show
Yancy this Leela alien. That would really show him!
her part, was a tad worried. Getting back home by freezing herself
wasn't a problem as far she was concerned. Plenty of people had
frozen themselves and survived in perfect health until the third
millennium, but for as long as she had worked at the cryogenic
laboratory she could never remember ever having seen herself frozen
in one of the tubes.
we are." Fry stated with a sweep of his arm as they arrived at
the sixty-fourth floor. Leela, who had removed the paper bag upon
entering the elevator, looked at the door that proclaimed: 'Applied
Cryogenics. No power failures since 1997'.
paused in front of the door and looked at Leela. "So... why are
we here, anyway?" Leela bit her lower lip. The red head in front
of her had, despite his earlier ramblings, actually asked the one
question she didn't want to answer. She had no idea how her visit to
the past would affect the future and even less what the few things
she had told him would do to the spacetime continuum. Leela conceded
that telling the impressionable young man about her alien heritage
and the fact that she was from the future had been a mistake; she
could have just as easily lied to him and told him some outlandish
explanation for her one eye. He was from the stupid ages and would
have probably fallen for anything she would have told him. The
cyclops was so used to odd people from the stupid ages and their
identical reactions to her eye that her replies to Fry's questions
had been a force of habit. "I really can't tell you other than
that I have to freeze myself to get back home."
pausing in front of the door, just stared at Leela. "But, can't
you use your time travel thingy to get back?" He said with
surprise in his voice as he pointed at Leela's wrist computer.
sighed. "It isn't a time travel device." What
is it with this guy and the future?
"Can we just get this over with?"
you stay a little more, please?" Fry begged. He really wanted to
know more about the future, what it was like and about Leela's race.
Of course, giving his condescending older brother a surprise would be
a nice bonus too.
cyclops stared at him and laid her hands on his shoulders. She smiled
warmly at him. Fry looked back at her with anticipation. A couple of
seconds idled by and then, without much effort, Leela pushed him
aside and entered the cryogenics lab. She made her way towards the
row of cryostasis pods lining the back wall, her one eye flying over
the pods. A sudden chill snaked up her spine. She couldn't believe
what she was seeing. There were no free pods; they were all taken!
supported herself against a nearby wall for a moment before she
slumped to the floor. Fry misinterpreted the cyclops’s
distraught look and knelt down beside her, grabbing her shoulders and
shouting at her "Hey, don't faint!"
your hands off me!" Leela pushed Fry away from her. The delivery
boy landed on his bottom and sat for a moment, looking puzzled.
you see!? There are no free pods!” The cyclops replied with a
wave of her hand. “I can't go home now, I'm stuck here... in
the stupid ages!"
crawled over to the agitated purpled haired woman. He clumsily patted
Leela on her shoulder in an effort to comfort her. "It's not
that bad here. Sure you will never see your family again, or your
co-workers, or your boyfriend or..."
get it!" Leela snapped at Fry, wanting him to stop. "Besides,
I don't have a family... or a boyfriend." She remarked dryly.
Fry narrowed his eyes for a moment, concentrating before he stood up
with a broad smile on his face.
oh! I’ve got one of them pictures in your head. You know? The
one that usually hurts?"
idea?" Leela asked with surprise.
what about you come live with me?"
you?" The cyclops countered dubiously, not really sure that the
redhead was serious.
The delivery boy said still smiling and extended his right hand
towards the cyclops.
grabbed Fry’s extended hand and let her self be pulled up from
the floor. “That’s sweet of you Fry but I can’t
impose on you like that.”
at his shoes with his hands in his jacket pockets. “Well, then
what are you going to do?” He asked, staring at his stained and
I…” Leela’s voice trailed off. She was stranded in
the past with no-where to go, at least for the time being. Perhaps
I shouldn’t have brushed his offer away so fast.
have an extra bedroom and everything. You wouldn’t have to
sleep on the couch. Is that the problem?” Fry said, filling the
awkward silence. He didn’t want this alien woman to disappear;
not just yet.
her lower lip, considering the way things were right now, this was
her best offer. With a sigh she made her decision. “Fine, I’ll
use your extra bedroom but just until I can get home.”
Fry hooted with his arms in the air.