Time Pilot 3000

This is the future that Earth should strive for: utter, universal diversity. Its cities may choke on smogs and its traffic develops undiscovered depths of insanity, but nowhere else shall you see such a mixture of life in harmonious acceptance. Humans, robots, aliens, monsters walk and breathe and live among each other as if nothing is out of order. Their treatment of the city’s mutants does disturb me, but I didn’t land here expecting perfection. Otherwise I would have stopped travelling a long time ago. No, I finally came here to finally find Womble. It shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. I just need to find the one who doesn’t sound like Billy West or Mauriche LaMarche.

I parked the TARDIS near the Planet Express headquarters, finding myself reminded of the hours spent replicating its shape in Minecraft. I could have made the top-sphere larger, but no matter. I doubt I could have really done it justice. The main reason I tend to stop off here is because there’s normally something to see: spaceship crashes, giant gargoyles or hippy protest groups. I’ve seen it all. More than twice.

Plus, Dinkin’ Donuts, the pre-arranged meeting place, is not too far from here. Though considering the fact that the sky and ground traffics aren’t moving and the paths are full, you know what, screw it, I’m going to take the tube.

Brilliant innovation this; take out the trains, add in the fun. All public transport should have the whims of the theme park about it.

“Dinkin’ Donuts, please.”

THOOMPH-

“WHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE…….!

…….EEEEEEEEEEEE!!!”

If life truly is not held in years, but experience, your storyline is missing something until you’ve tried that method of travel. Regardless of what it does to your hair. You are shooting through a giant glass vacuum, after all. Anyway, top hat retrieved and thus manic hairstyle contained, Dinkin’ Donuts is within slurm-spitting distance. Just past the ruins of Panucci’s Pizza. So I guess it’s time to see the worth of FutureHH’s wrist device and while I’m at it actually get a name for the damn thing. Here we go.

Ah. Dammit. Looks like I’m the only one here, to drink at 11am on a Wednesday. No matter, I imagine the resourceful devil will find a way here, even without a time machine……ah sh*t. It’s just dawned on me that I was specific on the location and year, not the date or time. There’s a 365-day margin of error. So. I’m an idiot. Better stick to what I do know, and order. Alcohol and starch, outstanding. I don’t know what planet the cashier is from but that many arms sure halves the waiting time.

I take my order to a booth at the back of the room. At least it’s quiet, I can work on a revised message to Womble. Hopefully there’s a way to word it to suggest that I obviously meant today. Where’s the phonebook on this thing?

“QUARK!” (Hello.)

“Hmm?”

…I’ve only had one drink, right? Not even that. Which is unnerving because it’s the best thing I have towards rationalising the fact that a penguin has joined me in my booth, accompanied by a small robot. That’s not too weird, odd-couple-team-ups, you get them all the time here. But I thought New New York’s infestation issue was owls, not penguins……penguins which steal your doughnuts, “Oi!”

“Quark!” (Sorry, I’m starving.)

“So am I.”

“Quark.” (Well there’s no point in us both being starving is there?)

Ned almighty this robot has some vocabulary. That’s got to be worth a sonic scan, surely, this is translation technology unlike- “Oi! No, you can’t have the sonic as well!” As cute as it is, the image of a penguin holding a sonic. Or rather pinching it between two flippers, bless those without opposable thumbs.

“Look, I’m just here waiting for my friend, and even if he does turn up it’s going to be an immense coincidence, so can’t you just go…quacking off?”

“Quark!” (It’s pronounced ‘QUARK’)

I don’t even know what to do with that. Though I am taking/snatching my sonic – “Thank you!” – back. If this is what’s on offer for company right now I think I’ll go elsewhere. See if nappster.com is still up and running. Just somewhere this penguin will-

“Stop staring at me.”

“Quark. Quark-Quark.” (You’re slower on the uptake than usual.)

Casual insults, great. Just wait for Womble to show up, you two can…

Y’know, sometimes, life stops making sense because I believe its as bored with reality as we are. As far as I know, there’s only one place in the universe where a somehow familiar penguin and its robot friend can drop in on you and it to seem damn near normal, and that place is Futurama. The homeland of nonsensical sci/fi hilarity, where reality fears to tread and all news is “Good news, everyone!”

This penguin’s got a Look about it. It’s eyeing up my drink. And it’s exactly where (not when, but whatever) I told him to be.

“Womble that’s you isn’t it?”

“Quark.” (At last. Are you sure you’re you?)

“Very funny. You can have my drink, by the way.”

I’m just gonna be pissing myself laughing over here. After that, a fresh round of drinks. On me, I’m assuming, I see no pockets on the penguin. Y’know the old me would be bombarding him with questions right now, trying to ascertain just how a man goes from human form to penguin via an explosion. But screw it. Sometimes it’s just more fun to go along with it. And then laugh your ass off.

“Quark?” (Finished?)

“Heh, not by a long shot. You realise how many puns shall be coming your way?”

“Quark. Quark-quark-quark.” (I do indeed…Rabbit Man?)

A few minutes in and he’s already confused his own translator. “What do you call him, then, Womble?”

He shrugs, and a penguin shrugging shall go down as one of the cutest things in history. Not that I’m telling him that. “Quark.” (You can name him. /Really?\)

So it does have its own scrap of conscience, this thing, enough to make it look horrified at the thought of its title coming from the lunatic in the top hat. And as a lunatic, I must deliver:

“Nibbles.”*

Nibbles doesn’t look best pleased. Womble does but that may be the arrival of our order.

“Also, while we’re on the subject, I need a name for this wrist device thing…you get my point.” Oh Ned. Nice one, FutureHH, you saw this coming didn’t you? Because the answer is undoubtedly going to be:

“QUARK!”

Whether that actually translates literally, or into something cool, I don’t know. This silent treatment could be Nibbles’ Revenge.** So I guess Q.U.A.R.K it is. I’ll figure out what they stand for later. Quietly Underestimating A Racist Koala, for one. This is just what the world of Futurama (and booze) does to you.

“Tell you what, Womble, fancy catching a show while we’re here?”

“Quark.” (Sure. Any suggestions? /And my name is not Nibbles\)

Yes it is.

“Just one. It’s known unofficially as The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings.

I imagine we should set off soon. I’ll get there in time, but if my friend’s been reduced to waddling, it’ll take a while longer. Unless Nibbles has got some kind of transport system in that tiny frame of his.

One thing I can pretty much guarantee though: Womble will not let me carry him.

Shame, really. I’m rather fond of penguins.

HH

*Always, if you can, name something ridiculously stupid. It’s a joke that keeps on giving. “Run for it, Nibbles!” is one of many examples.

**Told you^

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