Futurama

Fan Fiction

The First Day, part 2
By Corvus

New York, December 31st, 1999

"...And 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.

Standing 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.

"You 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.

Fry's 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.

Fry 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.

In this 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.

Navigating 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.

Unhindered 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 warp speed.

Thinking 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 pizza place.” She had continued with distaste in her voice and an equally displeased demeanor.

I 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.

It 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 around her.

"Michelle, baby, where you going?" His voice giving words to what his face already had revealed; utter confusion.

The woman 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 ex-boyfriend altogether.

"It's 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.

Fry 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.

It had 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.

His 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.

Upon 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.

The 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.

Moving 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.

Fry tossed 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.

Upon the 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.

With an 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 behind him.

When his 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

Fry 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?

Waking up 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.

Upon 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.

The 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 him.

Not really 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 to dry.

He had 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.

While 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 to them.

The 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.

The sun 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.

He would 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.

"A 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.

"What? 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.

With a 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.

The drive 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.

Extracting 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.

The 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.

Standing 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.

The stone 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.

The front 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.

Fry made 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.

A bit uneasy, Fry coughed gently.

The 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.

"Fry!" 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, 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.

"Ah 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.

Several 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 thought derisively. 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 door.

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.

The 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.

Fry 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.

The 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?

Fry 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. Maybe there’s 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.

Walking 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.

Intermixed 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.

Near a 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.

Sitting 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.

His gloomy 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.

The 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.

The 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.

"Hey, 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 presented with.

"What's 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.

It was 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 that.

"I'm an alien, okay?" The purple haired cyclops responded somewhat tersely. It’s 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.

"Wow! 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?"

Leela 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 seemed harmless 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."

"But 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 was.

"I 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 severe headache.

"Oh..." Was Fry's disappointed reply. Then his sluggish brain digested the rest of what she’d said. "Cool, an alien from the future!"

"Oh 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.

Looking at 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.

"Look... um... what's your name, by the way?"

For a 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.

"Look, Fry, I just want to know where I am."

With a 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 fingers.

What had 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 with.

"Fry, 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.

"Sure I do; I was there yesterday delivering a pizza." Fry answered with a light shrug of his shoulders.

“Wait, 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.

The delivery boy looked slightly offended of Leela’s apparent lack of trust. “Of course I do! I’m not an ingr… inger... ignr… dumb.”

"Can you take me there?" The cyclops asked eagerly, her voice now tense, her hands clasped together.

"Now?"

"Yes." 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.

"What are you waiting for?" Leela wondered, irritated.

"Your transporter beam. You do have a transporter beam, right? You know, ba-zoom! Swish!" Fry illustrated his sound effects with suitable arm movements.

Leela sighed. "No, I don't have a 'transporter beam'."

"Oh, oh, I know! A flying scooter?"

"NO! I do NOT have a flying scooter! Can you just please take me to the cryogenics laboratory?"

Visibly 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."

"Huh? What's wrong?"

"Look at me." Leela said and held her hands towards her face. "See?"

Fry 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!?

"Well!?" 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.

"I 'unno?" Fry said and shrugged.

"My eye!" Came the exasperated answer.

"Oh... that. Was Fry's slow reply. "What about it?"

"Have you ever seen anyone like me roaming the streets? Have you?" Leela asked Fry dryly.

"Now that you mention it, I don’t really think I have... though there was this one guy..."

Leela 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.

"Sure I can! Wait here!"

Leaving 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 still open.

The 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.

"Can I get a paper bag?" The delivery boy asked the man and pointed at the pile.

"You intend to buy anything?" Came the answer from the man, who didn't even bother to look up from his magazine when answering the delivery boy.

"Um.. no? I just wanted a paper bag."

The old man licked a finger and turned a page. "Buy something and you'll get a bag."

Fry looked 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 be all?"

"Yeah 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.

The man 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.

For a 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.

The person 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.. no, I don't live here." The delivery boy managed to press out between his coughs.

"Right. 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?"

"No officer, I haven't seen a thing." Fry wheezed after finally managing to swallow the jerky.

"Alright. 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.

Fry 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.

"Hey, 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.

"The 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.

"No! 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 Security Orphanarium.

With a 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?”

For a 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.

Instead 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.

“Let’s go, Fry.”

As the 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.

"So, you are 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.

"No, I just work there." Was Leela's tired answer.

"Do 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.

"No." Her tone was flat; she really wished that he would stop asking so many questions. Doesn't he ever stop?

"But there are robots in the future, right? Do you have one?"

"Yes... and no."

"Can I see your time travel thingy? It's that thing on your wrist that shoots lasers, right?" Undaunted by the short answers Fry continued.

Leela's face was showing her irritation over all the questions, unfortunately for Fry it was hidden under a bag. "No."

"Why 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?"

"NO!" 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.

"Uhh.. Leela?"

"What?!" She growled, feeling her patience wearing thin.

"Could... 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.

After 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!

Leela, on 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.

"Here 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'.

Fry 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."

Fry, still 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.

Leela sighed. "It isn't a time travel device." What is it with this guy and the future? "Can we just get this over with?"

"Can't 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.

The 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!

Leela 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!"

"Get your hands off me!" Leela pushed Fry away from her. The delivery boy landed on his bottom and sat for a moment, looking puzzled.

"What's wrong?"

"Don't 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!"

Fry 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..."

"I 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, oh! I’ve got one of them pictures in your head. You know? The one that usually hurts?"

"An idea?" Leela asked with surprise.

"Yeah, what about you come live with me?"

"With you?" The cyclops countered dubiously, not really sure that the redhead was serious.

"Sure." The delivery boy said still smiling and extended his right hand towards the cyclops.

Leela 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.”

Fry looked 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 worn sneakers.

“Well, 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.

“I 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.

Leela bit 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.”

“Wahooo!” Fry hooted with his arms in the air.

End Part Two

Buddies