Author Topic: "Planet of Dread"  (Read 71 times)

Offline Gulliver63

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"Planet of Dread"
« on: September 13, 2017, 10:57:44 PM »


This is a short story...a very short story. And it might need some explanation. A few weeks ago I ran across the pulp cover that you're seeing here and I scoffed, "Hey, this looks like a Futurama episode." So I wrote a Futurama story to go with it. I read parts of this story to MTC Mark while he was here, and nearly drove him out of the house with it. Honestly, it's not grotesque, and you might get some chuckles out of it. But I just couldn't resist - the devil (Robot Devil?) made me do it. Grab some beer and popcorn, and enjoy the story.


The Planet of Dread
By Robert L. Fitzpatrick




Planet of Dread. Fry was the first one to balk at the name, but the Professor was quick to reassure him.
   “Don’t worry, Fry, all the planets have names like that in the Galaxy of Terror.”


“The visibility is awful here,” remarked Leela as she pulled up the HUD display; the planet’s terrain features were lit up in green on the plastiglass panel against the white mist outside of the windscreen. “I’ve got that guy’s homing beacon about 18 clicks from here, to the northwest.”
         Fry looked nervous. “It’s like soup out there.”
        “Fry,” Leela instructed, “get my pistol out of the weapons locker.”
        “Do you think…”
        “Don’t think - just do it. And expedite it.”
        Bender couldn’t hold off his typical sarcasm. “You think Jesse James here is safe with that thing? He might shoot a finger off…”
        Leela reached over and dropped in 20 degrees of flaps as she made a gentle bank to the left; the ship’s nose dipped up slightly as hydraulic arms pushed out those big barn door flaps. The brightly-lit compass rose on the HUD display reflected the turn. She then eased the throttles slightly back in anticipation of a landing. “Amy, I’m going to need landing speeds.”
        “Already got ‘em - 120 over the fence.” Amy peered out the window. “Well, now at least we can see something…” Amy then began to speak a word softly in Cantonese as her eyes opened wide. “Zhizhu…” The word meant ‘spider.’
        Leela’s large eye blinked, as she couldn’t quite believe what she was seeing out of the windscreen; she thought she was looking at trees, but she was confused at what she saw. All she had time to do was to bark out an order. “Brace for impact!!”
        Luckily the crew had their safety belts on. The Planet Express Ship lurched forward, as if hitting a brick wall; Leela let out a loud “oof” sound as the ship quickly stopped. The lights flickered in the forward cabin.
        The rocket ship was pointed toward the ground, and it became painfully clear that it wasn’t moving anymore. After glancing at the panel, Leela cut the throttle and shut the landing engine down...the gyros made that distinctive winding-down sound, as if the ship were a child’s toy being shut off.
        “Why shut off the engine?” asked Amy.
        “We’re not going anywhere - I don’t want to chance damaging anything on the ship. If we break free from...whatever this is, we’ll bore into the ground like a drill bit.”
        “But how?”
        “You saw what I saw...I know you saw it. You don’t use that word very often - only when you see a spider in the bathroom.”
        “Yeah, I did see it. At least we’re alright.” Amy looked around. “Where’s Fry?”
        “Gods below, I sent him back for the pistol.” Leela unhooked her safety harness and began moving toward the aft of the ship. It was a little like a mountain climber trying to scale a rock face. “Fry!”
         Philip Fry peered out of the hatchway. “Why the hell did you have to stop like that?”
         “Oh baby, you banged your head. Bender, get the medical kit.”
         “That’s gonna leave a mark in the morning,” said the robot.
         “Will you shut up and get the medkit? And make it snappy.”
         “Okay, okay. Why do I have to be the Dr. Kildare here?”
         “Shut up and get it done. I need to check on the status of the ship.” The ship abruptly moved, as if being slightly turned..
         “How’s that for your status report?” asked Bender. “Are ya gonna add it?”
   The ship rocked again, and Amy let out a scream. “Zhizhu!” Leela swung around just in time to see something, but she couldn’t believe what it was. She’d spotted a large, black, hairy leg quickly sliding by the window and then disappearing.
   “Fry, we’re still gonna need that gun.”
"When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them." Rodney Dangerfield

"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore, always carry a small snake." W. C. Fields

Offline MTC29

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Re: "Planet of Dread"
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2017, 12:23:43 AM »
It is a great story, but that big, nasty spider will keep me scared for the duration  :uck:
Nothing can be made idiot proof because idiots are far too clever.

Offline Gulliver63

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Re: "Planet of Dread"
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2017, 07:32:20 PM »
Quote
It is a great story, but that big, nasty spider will keep me scared for the duration

Althea? Oh, she's as harmless as a housecat.
"When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them." Rodney Dangerfield

"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore, always carry a small snake." W. C. Fields

Offline MTC29

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Re: "Planet of Dread"
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2017, 09:18:21 PM »
Post more segments. The sooner the story moves to page two (leaving the arachnid on page 1), the better.
Nothing can be made idiot proof because idiots are far too clever.

Offline El-Man

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Re: "Planet of Dread"
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2017, 12:31:57 AM »
"Amy, where's the bug spray? And I hope you bought the economy-sized can!"

"There isn't any - Zoidberg says Raid makes him nervous!"

Offline Gulliver63

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Re: "Planet of Dread"
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2017, 12:38:47 AM »
Quote
The sooner the story moves to page two (leaving the arachnid on page 1), the better.

Sorry, your stuck with Althea until the end - it is a bit humorous, I promise.

Quote
"Amy, where's the bug spray?

Maybe that's what's in the weapons locker; bet you didn't know the PE ship had a weapons locker... :) It also has chaff and flare dispensers - you'll need to know that for the next little bit...Flounder has already seen this...
"When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them." Rodney Dangerfield

"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore, always carry a small snake." W. C. Fields

Offline Gulliver63

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Re: "Planet of Dread"
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2017, 12:50:18 AM »
...The Professor finds the PE Gang's situation fascinating; well, it is the Galaxy of Terror after all...

“Give me an external camera,” said Professor Farnsworth. Amy tapped the controls, and Farnsworth was truly amazed by what he saw. “It’s a relative of the family Lycosidae…”
   Leela rolled her eye. “In Galactic Standard, please.”
   Bender chuckled. “He means it’s a big frackling spider.”
   “A relative of the wolf spider,” the Professor continued, “but bigger.”
   Fry, now sporting a head bandage, peered with wonder out one of the windows. “I’ll say - it’s the size of my aunt’s Chevy Vega.”
   Leela grit her teeth in a mock smile. “Great narrative, Fry. But what’s it doing out there with my ship?”
   The Professor on the viewscreen continued to illuminate. “It’s wrapping the ship up in it’s web, so it won’t escape. It’s no doubt contemplating the juicy morsels of food inside of its hard shell. When it has sucked its victims of their bodily fluids, it will probably lay a large clutch of eggs in its web.” At this Amy let out a horrified squeal.
   Leela pointed her index finger at the viewscreen toward the ancient face. “You...when I get back home, if I get home, you and I are going to talk about proper timing.” She then turned to Amy, who was nearly white with fear. “Little Sister, I’ve got enough firepower on this ship to turn our friend outside into a London Broil. Fry, take this pistol and kill anything that tries to get inside.”
   Amy had a look of horror on her face, “Oh God, you’re not going out there…”
   “Got to, sis - I’ve got to see if there’s any damage to the old girl before I cut on the main engine.”
   Turanga Leela opened the door to the weapons locker and pulled out a trusty DOOP navy laser rifle. While crude by modern standards, it was more than enough to make a large creature think twice about hanging around the ship. She inserted a power pack and tapped up on the bottom of it. Satisfied that she had her weapon, she secured the locker.
   Leela went up to an emergency escape hatch near the vertical stabilizer; even though the hatch was on the ceiling, it was easier to access due to the nose-down attitude of the ship - at this point it was more like a side exit. Leela turned the wheel and the four locks released the hatch. She took a quick scan outside, only to find that the beast had wandered off. Feeling (a bit) safer, she scanned high and low to see how the ship was fastened in the gigantic web. “Frack,” she whispered, “this thing has us like a bug in here.” She then caught sight of some other local creature that wasn’t so lucky...or what was left of it.
   As if to test out a theory, she took the safety off of her navy rifle and blasted a small section of webbing away. “It’s strong,” she told herself, “but not indestructible.”
She then tapped her wrist-thingee. “Amy.”
“I was so worried about you. Where is that...thing?”
“Never mind that - it’s on walk-about somewhere.  I can cut through the stuff, but we’ll need to fire up the engines at that point or we’ll drop like a stone. Oh, crap buckets…”
“What?”
“Our furry friend is back.”
Leela watched in horror and revulsion as the huge creature came down the web toward her from above. She wanted to take a shot at it, but it was moving quickly. She crawled back in through the hatch, slammed it shut and dogged it. “No meal for you today,” she said sarcastically at the beast outside of the hatch. She placed her rifle safety back on, slung it around her shoulder, and made her way back down to the command cabin. Amy was excited to see her.
“Thank God you’re safe - we didn’t hear back from you.”
Wolfie out there moves quick - if we go outside the ship, we can’t dawdle around or we’ll end up on the menu. I saw what was left of one of its earlier meals.”
The young Martian-Chinese woman cringed with terror.
“I wouldn’t worry,” chuckled Bender. “It probably hates the taste of cyclops.”
“Just for that, I’m posting you as a sentry outside.”
“Aw, man…”
Amy pointed toward the front windscreens. “Look - it’s wrapping us up again like a big dragonfly. It’ll try to feed on us next.”
“Oh yeah? I’ll be damned if I’ll let that happen.” Leela flicked a switch on the instrument panel and two countermeasure flares flew out of the rear of the rocket. The beast stopped its wrapping, and backed away from the ship. Leela knitted her eye and stared down the creature. “Yeah...that got your attention. And there’s more where that came from, Wolfie. Guys, I don’t want that thing chewing on this ship and possibly doing damage. Fry, I’m going to need you up in the turret - if our buddy comes near, give ‘em what for. You’ll take the first watch while Amy gets some shuteye. She can come and relieve you in a while.”
“What if it sneaks underneath?” asked Fry.
“You just let me worry about that...I’ve got some surprises for its furry hide.”
“I bet you do,” chuckled Bender, “it’ll eat you last. I’m a robot - I got nuthin’ to worry about.”
"When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them." Rodney Dangerfield

"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore, always carry a small snake." W. C. Fields

Offline Gulliver63

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Re: "Planet of Dread"
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2017, 07:51:41 PM »
The end of a short story...a very short one. Our heroes finally get to meet their mysterious customer...

As Amy uneasily slept and Leela attempted to doze in her seat, a bored Fry sat in his turret listening to 80’s pop music; his eyes started to get droopy as the music chugged along. “Like a butterfly, a wild butterfly, I will collect you and capture you…”
Fry eventually dozed off in his canopy, but a noise quickly awoke him. To his horror, he was being watched by nearly a dozen brown shiny eyes through the plastiglass. He let out a yelp, as if he’d drawn current from a light socket.
Leela’s eye popped open to the sounds of swearing and 23 mm tandem blaster guns going off. Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! She bolted over to the turret as quickly as she could climb. Boom! Boom! Boom! “What in the hell is going on?”
“Leela! It was there - it was lookin’ at me!”
“Well, where is it?”
“I must have scared it off.”
“Oh for crap sake, Fry.” She felt like giving him a good butt-chewing, but decided to display compassion instead. She reached up and grabbed his knee. “We’re all tired, and we’re all on edge. Maybe it’s good that you scared it away from the ship.”
Amy then came running up. “Dao mei, what’s going on?”
“False alarm...I guess it got close to Fry’s bubble.”
Both women quickly turned their heads as they heard a scraping sound on the hull. Leela swore. “Frackle - that’s it. I’m killing that son-of-a-biscuit-eater now, and we’re getting out of here. Whoever it is out there can just have Galactic Parcel Service deliver their stupid package. Amy, get ready to cut in the main when I hack off some of this webbing. I’m going to bust a cap in that oversized kitchen pest before we leave.”
As Leela made her way up to the weapons locker, she heard Amy cut on the master battery switches. The gyros began to whir as the ship came back to life. Turanga Leela dispensed more orders down through the ship. “Red-on-the-Head - back me up with that laser pistol...don’t let it get into the ship, no matter what it does to me. Tin Man - make sure everything is secured good and tight when we cut loose with the engine...I don’t want a bunch of stuff flying around in here when we do.”
Leela unlocked the roof hatch, and pointed the laser rifle outside. In the dim, misty light, she saw the shadow of the large spider - it was slowly approaching her, crawling along hull of the ship from the bow. She peered down through the sights of the rifle with her singular eye, and whispered curses at the beast. “Come on you ugly, hairy creep...keep coming. That’s it - work up a sweat…” As Leela took the slack out of the trigger, she heard a voice. It was a man’s voice.
“Althea! No! Bad spider...bad spider!”
Leela looked up from the rifle to see a stocky man climbing up the webbing toward the ship. The spider turned and seemed to regard the man with respect, almost affection. He smacked its abdomen with the flat of his hand.
“Bad spider...I told you not to pester people. This is why we can’t have any friends over.” The beast backed up a bit, but made no effort to attack him.
Leela lowered her rifle. “Who in the world are you?”
“I’m the one waiting for my package. I’m Mortimer Adams, by the way - I’m an....
Leela interrupted with her palm up. “No, let me guess...an arachnologist.”
“Why, that’s right. Oh, I take quite a ribbing from my colleagues - they call me ‘Spider Adams’ and other names…”
“Entomologists, I’ll bet…”
“Yeah...you know how they can be.”
“So, you live on this planet...with things like this?”
“Althea? She’s as gentle as a lamb. Raised her from the egg.”
“But what about that scar on your arm?”
“Oh this? I got a little careless with her at feeding time once.”
“But of course.” Leela leaned back into the ship. “Fry - bring that package up.”
The man eagerly dug through the box. “Yep - looks like it’s all here. Cressingham’s Updated Field Guide to Spiders, spider treats, one leash…”
“Leash?”
“Oh yes...they do have leash laws around here…”
Leela’s eye floated over toward the massive, ugly spider as she answered sarcastically. “You’d never know it…”
Adams signed his invoice, and looked around at his surroundings. “I see you got caught up in one of Althea’s webs…”
“Yeah - I’m going to have to shoot my way out.”
“Hey...I was really happy with the service you folks gave - that was quite timely.”
Leela just blinked an eye. “Just stand clear while I get ready to shoot. Amy, give me 10 percent throttle.”
As Adams and Althea cleared away from the hull, Leela used the rifle like a surgeon to cut the ship loose. As expected, the Planet Express ship dropped like an aircraft at the end of a carrier, but she soon rose up and left the area. Leela quickly dogged the hatch, and joined her crew mates in the forward part of the ship.

The Planet Express Crew let out a sigh of relief as they soared on past the Middle Marker, that gray space buoy with blinking red lights parked outside of Jupiter. It wasn’t much to look at, but it meant that they were on their way home. Leela thumbed the radio to life. “Sheffield Control, this is Planet Express Ship at the outer marker.”
“Planet Express, cleared to Inner Marker, visual behind the Goshawk freighter, cleared for a straight approach into New New York until established on the localizer.” The words were like manna from heaven.
They were nearly home when Professor Farnsworth contacted them.
“Good news, everyone.”
Leela just focused her eye on the screen, and didn’t say a word.
“Dr. Adams was so pleased with our service that he’s requested that we deliver his magazine Spider Monthly to him…on a monthly basis...”
Leela made a motion with her head toward Bender, who opened his door and pulled a wire out. He hooked the wire into the control panel, and the screen began to get fuzzy.
The Professor’s image looked around in confusion on the blurry screen. “We seem to be having some communications issues…”
Fry and Amy began making crashing and exploding noises off camera.
“...sudden meteor swarm,” Leela said, “will be in touch you...when we can…”

The End

"When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them." Rodney Dangerfield

"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore, always carry a small snake." W. C. Fields

Offline El-Man

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Re: "Planet of Dread"
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2017, 09:59:15 PM »
Well, look on the bright side. At least he didn't want the NNY Times each morning.

Offline Gulliver63

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Re: "Planet of Dread"
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2017, 10:39:59 PM »
Quote
Well, look on the bright side. At least he didn't want the NNY Times each morning.

Or even "Spider Weekly."
"When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them." Rodney Dangerfield

"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore, always carry a small snake." W. C. Fields

Offline Ramon 51

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Re: "Planet of Dread"
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2017, 12:35:00 AM »
That was wonderfully original...with lots of bits of canon sprinkled throughout.  Well done! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :redstar: :redstar: :redstar: :redstar: :redstar:
"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."
C. S. Lewis

Offline Gulliver63

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Re: "Planet of Dread"
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2017, 08:29:45 AM »
Thanks...I saw that pulp cover and just had to have some fun with it. Like Farnsworth said, "Play time is fun time."
"When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them." Rodney Dangerfield

"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore, always carry a small snake." W. C. Fields